Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Giveaway: The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner

Taking care of Toby on my own hasn't exactly been the easiest task in the world. I worry about him being home alone while I work and about his digestive tract when he chews up my stuff. But the good have outweighed the bad by far and I want to make sure I become a good/better owner to him. Yes, I've read other guides (yay for guides!), but none have answered a particular question I've had in mind recently: how will Toby act around any of the future guys I date? Well The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner answers that and more! Below, an interview with author Betsy Rosenfeld on keeping the pooch entertained, teaching your dog to play nice with your new boo and a few dating tips!

What inspired you to write this book?

My work as a rescuer. I was killing myself rescuing dogs from the shelter so they wouldn’t be euthanized and yet it seemed no matter how hard I tried there was an endless stream of unwanted dogs. So I tried to think of how I could make the biggest impact on the situation.

Then one day I helped to rescue a tiny terrier that was turned into the shelter by a cute young 20-something girl who said that she was overwhelmed and just had no idea how much work a dog was going to be. A light went off; this was my own demographic and I knew I could have helped her earlier in the process to avoid the pitfalls of dog ownership. I wouldn’t be preachy or annoying or unrealistic like I’d felt so many other books had been. Instead I could share my own experiences as a way to help raise a dog. I decided to combine those skills with my desire to reach out to other young single dog owners and voilĂ …The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner!

I have a puppy and I usually feel guilty about leaving him alone while I'm at work all day. How can I keep him entertained while I'm out of the house?

This is probably the most universal problem among single dog owners. It’s just you caring for the dog and you have to work! A few suggestions are first to try interactive dog toys. Dogs like puzzle-type toys that provide a treat when they succeed at the game. They require your dog to really think and stay focused on the task at hand, thus keeping them at least somewhat distracted from the fact that he’s alone. Options range from a Kong stuffed with peanut butter and your dog’s kibble (I like to put the stuffed Kong in the freezer to add to the challenge) to more intricate toys like DaBomb, which makes an electronic explosion sound and dispenses a treat when bumped on a firm surface.

Another option is to set up a dog-care collaborative with other owners you trust. You could set up different days that the dogs are going to be at each others' house and since everyone’s schedule is somewhat different, your dog can get more human interaction throughout the day.

Great ideas! Unfortunately, no matter how many toys I leave out for Toby, sometimes he still decides that chewing up the couch is way more fun.

When given a choice between doing the right thing and the wrong thing, it does always seem that puppies choose the wrong path. Clearly God made them cute for a reason! So the best thing to do is remove any wrong options from their surroundings when you’re not around. Set them up for success by leaving them in a confined space such as an x-pen or a gated-off kitchen or bathroom (accessible cabinets closed and locked). Make the space comfortable with their favorite blankets and toys. Leave relaxing music on and the lights low. Your dog may end up sleeping for most of the day instead of wreaking havoc on your stuff!

Oh if only I’d known that before he got to my shoes… Anywho, onto dating! What's the best way to introduce your dog to your new partner?

When introducing a dog to a new person or a new dog, the best bet is to do so out of their home environment. Dogs are den animals and often act badly or possessive when they’re in their home. So if you’re worried about your date meeting your dog, set up their first interaction in a neutral place such as the park or a coffee house. It’s also best to do it during the day. Dogs can act a little funky after the sun goes down.

And what are your options if your dog and bf/gf cannot get along no matter what you do?

This is such a tough situation. First you have to at least try to get past the issue with some training. Even if you can’t afford a trainer, check out some books at the library or even a video. One of the best things you can also do is have your beau take your dog on substantial walks on a short leash. This helps establish him as the alpha and within this dynamic you are more likely to establish a good rapport between your dog and your date.

Now if you really have exhausted every option, I think it really depends where you are at in life. Is this someone you’re just hanging out with or someone you want to move to the next level with? If you can’t make it work, can’t figure out a way to juggle time between the two and you want to be with this person, you may need to consider finding a new home for the dog. This does not mean dropping them off at a local shelter and assuming they will be adopted. Instead, try to find someone you know who might want your dog – a family member or friend that you trust.

If that isn’t an option, find a no-kill facility or rescue group in your area. And above all really think about your decision. Are you doing this because you have to? Are you doing this to satisfy someone who always wants you to give things up? From experience helping my friends find new homes to satisfy their partners, you will regret this because no one will ever stand by you like your dog will.

How can you keep your dog from killing the mood when you are getting down to business with your boo?

I love my dog, but no matter how tiny or well behaved he or she is, it’s just not sexy to have a dog in your bed when you’re “otherwise engaged.” And even if you can get past it, your partner - whether or not they say something - may not be quite as open to sharing you.

So create the space that you need, by putting your dog in another room with a consuming dog toy. While they are keeping themselves busy with their treat, you can get a treat of your own behind closed doors!

Do you have any personal stories where your dog had a hard time accepting your new partner? Do share!

Oh ya! My beloved dog Bella, who passed in March, loved absolutely everyone but somehow just hated this one guy I dated. On our first hang out, she awkwardly kept putting herself physically between the two of us. I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening but it was. I could tell that she didn’t like him, but I couldn’t understand why – he seemed like a prince! Of course, he turned out to be a jerk and she knew when I didn’t.

Don't pretend it’s not happening because problems don’t always magically disappear by themselves. First off, how many guys that you date will you end up with for the long term? And secondly, dogs can be somewhat malleable. Getting your dog to like a guy can be as easy as having him spend time with the dog and having him give them treats for good behavior.

And reassert yourself as the alpha. Dogs are pack animals and if their alpha likes someone, they are more likely to follow suit. So don't let your dog walk in front of you on the leash, they need to walk beside or behind you at all time. Consider breaking out their crate and putting it next to your bed instead of letting them sleep on your pillow. It’s not that you have to stop spoiling and loving your dog, nor does it mean you should ever show aggression towards him, rather it just means that you must be seen as senior to them in the pack and thus they will defer to you and to whomever else you bring into it.

OK, so I'm not a fan of cats and people don't really think less of those who don't like them. With dogs it's a whole 'nother story! Do you think people who don't like dogs are a tiny bit evil on the inside?

Totally! People who don’t like dogs seem very cold and unloving to me. How can you not love dogs! In my Match.com profile (I met my boyfriend there right after I turned in the book to my editor actually), I clearly stated that if you don’t like dogs then you’re not going to like me!

Have you ever met a guy because of your dog? I have this crazy vision of meeting The One while walking Toby around the park on a sunny afternoon. Do you have any pick up tips?

I have met so many cute guys at the dog park, but never in my whole life had I ever met so many cute guys than when I recently got my dog a Lakers jersey! No guy can resist a cute girl and a cute dog wearing the jersey of their home team!

Sweet! I’ll have to look into that! So finally, what's your definition of a happy dog?

A happy dog is a confident dog and the best way to build a dog’s confidence is by investing your time into training them. Take them to puppy classes, get them well socialized and consider crate training. Make sure they feel comfortable even if you have to leave them to go to work. The activities listed above, as well as taking them to the dog park and on walks, provide dogs with a structure in which they know you are their alpha, and that you are their protector.

*****
All wonderful tips I'll take with me as I enter the dating world with the little monster. And luckily, some of you will too! Five random commenters will receive a copy of The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner. Just leave a comment and if you subscribe or follow you'll receive extra entries. A winner will be announced Wednesday night!

CONGRATULATIONS: Ladystyx, Caren, Dariany, Intense Guy and Chanda are this week's winners!

11 comments:

  1. Excellent, excellent post!

    I knew I liked this author when she answered your cat question "People who don’t like dogs seem very cold and unloving to me."

    Has she met anyone yet? :)

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  2. Just because you don't want to be licked all day long doesn't make you evil. LOL YOU are evil for that question.

    (I think it's really cool you interviewed her.)

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  3. I must be cold and unloving then because I'd much rather have my cat for company than a dog any day. A cold and unloving person that just happens to watch out for her friends backs...does things for others as surprises...nope...I'm definitely cold and unloving... *laffz* Silly author. A great interview though.

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  4. Im Single and a Dog Owner...hmmm seems like this giveaway was made for me...hehe

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  5. Cool interview. And by the way, I gave your blog a lovely award :) Check it out over at my Other Everyday Stuff blog!

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  6. LOL...that's awesome. I'm going to buy the book for my sister and her GIANT AKITA!!

    I'm a cat girl...by way of I'm allergic to doggy dander...not cats. Yes that is weird but it goes with the territory. So if my cats didn't like a guy...too bad for him. Ha!

    Have a good one.

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  7. I'm scared of big dogs
    Allergic to little dogs
    Allergic to all dogs except poodles

    Stopping by to give a little blog ♥

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  8. Congrats to the winners! Looks like you won a cool book!

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  9. Actually so did you, thanks to Ladystyx!

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  10. omg I WON...i just noticed well barely cus my name is not a link and i was about to be like "damn i never win" lol

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  11. I was just going to send you the book y ya. Or maybe I'll leave it with Dama...

    Then again, how often do you see that girl these days?

    Yeah, I'll mail it instead.

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