Allergic to Dogs and Allergies in Dogs Resource

Allergy Friendly Dog Care | Training, Routine, Exercise and Grooming

With regard to caring for allergy friendly dogs, we previously looked at the following points: general aspects, preparing to bring home a dog, what to do on arrival and aftercare issues, feeding issues.

The following article will discuss training (crate, collar and leash), routine and exercise, the importance of spending time with your dog, as well as the topic of grooming and brushing.


Crate Training

The use of crate training is common practice in some countries but unpopular in others. It enables you to confine the dog when required, minimize the risk of the dog getting up to trouble when you are away from home, as well as help contain and reduce the dispersal of allergens.

Crate training should begin within a few days of bringing the dog home. By placing a blanket, toys and water into the crate, you will make the dog comfortable while you are away. The length of time spent in the crate will need to be increased gradually so as not to stress the animal. It is of paramount importance that the dog does not equate being placed in the crate with being punished. Once the dog has become acquainted with the use of a crate, it will need to be placed in it regularly so as to retain its familiarity with it. Remember to wash the dog’s bedding frequently in order to help prevent the build-up of allergens which will transfer readily to the dog and subsequently to the rest of the home each time the dog is released from the crate.

Collar and Leash Training

Dogs should have a suitably-sized collar and puppies must be introduced to one as soon as possible. Most puppies will try to remove it immediately, therefore, begin to get the puppy acquainted with it during play and food time. Do not intervene and remove it until the puppy has settled down and gradually increase the duration the dog wears the collar.

A similar incremental approach applies to the introduction of a leash but this should only take place once the puppy is comfortable with wearing its collar. The key to leash training is that the puppy has to realize that:

  • pulling = no reward
  • no pulling = reward

Thus, if the dog pulls on the leash or sits down the result is that you stop walking, whereas if it walks alongside on a loose leash it receives a reward. Rewards can include praise, affection and a tasty treat towards the end of the training session. Consistency of training coupled with a lot of patience and persistence will yield positive results. There should be no need to yank the leash or shout at the animal to obtain the desired outcome. As the dog becomes more consistent, food rewards should be phased out as praise for good behavior will be sufficient.

Routine and Exercise

Establishing good routines are essential for the well-being of a dog. A lack of routine can lead to the dog becoming stressed which can manifest itself in both physical as well as mental problems for the animal. Dogs not only take comfort in the knowledge of having a regular feeding time but they look forward to activities such as being groomed and taken for their daily walk. In fact, ensuring that they get enough exercise and time with you each day is as important an aspect of care, as is making sure that their coat and skin are looked after and they are fed properly.

Exercise is vital for both the physical and mental well-being of the dog and should be undertaken at least once a day. Walking the dog will help build and maintain bonding and improve the likelihood that the animal will sleep properly at night and not disturb the household due to it whimpering and whining. Additionally, walking your dog regularly will be advantageous for your own health. Even if you do not have time to walk the dog every day, you should allocate time to allow it to run around your backyard or garden for exercise.

Spending Time With Dog vs. Dog Home Alone

Spending time with your dog is of great importance for their mental well-being, for they are social, pack-instinct animals. Although a dog can be trained to be left alone for relatively long periods of time, if they are left unattended for hours on a frequent basis, it is possible that they will become destructive. This can manifest itself in a multitude of ways including chewing on the walls and furniture, clothes, carpet, rugs or rummaging through household items and the trash.

It is for this reason that many people advocate crate training. However, although crating can be a very useful tool, it must not be viewed as the primary solution to curbing boredom-related destructive behavior. Moreover, boredom, loneliness and depression can result in the animal beginning to scratch excessively, bite itself or become lethargic and withdrawn. In addition, there is growing evidence concerning the association between stress and the onset, exacerbation and control of allergic diseases e.g. Ninabahen et al. 2011.

Though most dogs will not eat or drink when the owners are away, they should always have access to their water bowl. However, even a well-trained adult dog left for very long periods e.g. 10+ hours may have a problem controlling the need to go to the toilet. Dogs that are left unattended for longer periods, especially if you plan to be away for more than a day, should be checked on by a friend or family member to be fed and walked. The dog is your responsibility, so if this is not possible, you will have to board the dog. You should be aware that in some states and countries leaving a dog unattended for an unreasonable period of time constitutes negligence and is considered an act of cruelty and punishable by law.

Allergy Friendly Dog Care

Grooming and Brushing

Although the hair characteristics of an allergy friendly dog may help to lessen the effects of a hair/dander-triggered allergy response in a person, the composition of it means that it may require special attention. Depending on the breed in question, the hair on these types of dog can be short e.g. Terriers, or long e.g. Afghan Hound, but will often have a human-like coarse quality rather than a fur-like texture. Cutting of hair may be required on a regular basis to facilitate optimal growth, maintain the correct breed shape and appearance, help prevent matting and skin rashes, as well as prevent it from covering the dog’s eyes. Not only can this impede a dog’s vision but it can increase the risk of eye infections. Also for hygiene reasons, the hair may need to be cropped around the animal’s genitalia and back passage.

Dog grooming is also an important component when caring for an allergy friendly dog. Many people think the word grooming refers simply to cutting the dog’s hair. However, grooming relates to the cleaning and hygienic care of a dog and can involve nail trimming, ear care, bathing, haircuts and hair brushing in order to ensure that the dog remains happy and healthy. Although one can learn to do these things with practice, aside from brushing, it would be prudent to have a professional carry out the routine, at the very least on the first occasion. However, if you do not have the time or inclination to learn how to groom such a dog yourself, or alternatively, the money to pay for three or four grooming sessions a year, it may be worth reconsidering buying this type of dog.

Groomers can be found in the phone book, online, or at chain pet stores and may include those willing to travel and bring their equipment to your home. Finding a groomer is not difficult, but sometimes finding one that does a good job can be. On their first visit, they will usually confer with you to decide on what exact services you require and how much you wish to have trimmed. A skilled groomer should know how to cut the dog’s hair in order to give them the appropriate appearance for their breed. Always inspect the hair to check that the cut is even, that there are no cuts on the dog’s skin, and that it has been cut to your specifications. If the groomer did not do their job satisfactorily, you should find a new one.

Brushing the dog every day helps to minimize the build-up of allergens on the animal that will otherwise end up deposited around the home. It also helps to prevent matting which can cause various health issues including skin irritation that will make the dog feel uncomfortable and miserable. In general, dogs should be brushed a minimum of two times a week to help maintain a healthy, shiny coat. It is especially important for longer haired breeds and those that exhibit minimal shedding, in order to prevent the build-up of excess hair. A good grooming brush should not cost too much and your groomer can recommend the right style for your dog. Brushes come in a variety of designs and even though many allergy friendly dogs have minimal or no shedding, special brushes that have a flat, serrated/toothed metal end such as the FURminator® are particularly good at removing any undercoat, dander and material trapped in the coat.

Remember dog allergens can be airborne but also end up on surfaces, walls and furniture as well as any soft fabrics, curtains and carpets. Therefore, if possible, aim to brush the dog outside or at least in an outbuilding away from the living environment. Always brush in the direction of the hair and not against it as this may cause the hair to become matted. Should matting occur for whatever reason, it is important to be systematic so as not to hurt the dog. Untangling matted hair can be difficult, so avoid tugging too much as this will pull the underlying skin and distress the dog. If brushing or manipulation of the tangle by your fingers does not free the problem, it may help to soak the area by bathing the dog. If this fails to work, the matted hair will probably need to be cut out during grooming. Prevention is the best form of cure, so a few minutes brushing daily can help avoid a lot of unnecessary problems and distress for the dog in the long term. Should matting occur even with regular brushing, you may have to keep the length of the dog’s coat shorter.

If undertaken regularly, it should only take a few minutes to brush a dog properly. Most dogs enjoy the sensation and the process of grooming, as it appeals to the dog’s pack instinct. In the wild, dogs e.g. wolves can be observed to lick, nibble and clean other members of the pack. This is done for both a hygiene and a social function, and it is therefore an important way to ensure a deep bond between the owner and their domesticated pet dog.

The absence of a coat with hairless allergen friendly dogs creates special considerations. The term ‘hairless’ is somewhat a misnomer, as the majority of these breeds will have some hair. However, a variety of lotions and skin creams are available for such breeds in order to protect their skin from drying out and avoid possible sunburn. These function to prevent the development of flaky or scaly skin which may then require the use of stronger medication obtained through a veterinarian. You should not leave these dogs outside for long periods of time as they can suffer not only sunburn but also dehydration.

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