Sharing Your Bed With Your Lovely Pet Can Bring Better Sleep
There’s no greater feeling than snuggling with a warm furry companion at night and lovingly greeted in the morning. An overwhelming number of animal lovers are inclined to agree, half of dog owners and over 60% of cat owners in the US are blissfully sleeping with their pets.
When asked why they chose to share the sheets with their companions, many report a feeling comfort that helps them drift off to sleep without quite realising why.
Remarkably, recent studies have documented a number of relaxing effects that pets can have on us, thus helping us get a better night’s sleep!
How Can Sleeping With Pets Help Us Sleep?
Ironically, it was initially believed pets were more likely a source of disturbance of sleep. However, 41% of participants of a sleep study reported that snuggling with their pets actually significantly helped them get to sleep.
Of those who were sleeping with their pets, their comfort could be further explained as a sense of security and companionship. Interestingly, single sleepers were more willing to share the sheets with their pets.
Researchers concluded that although some were quite unaware, these increased feelings of contentment and security contributed to their state of mental and physical relaxation. As a result, they were able to slip off to sleep more soundly with their pets by their side.
Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep With Your Companions
Now it must be said that sleeping with pets is not for everyone, especially if you have allergies! However, these tips will help ensure you have both have a harmonious night’s rest:
Certain pathogens and diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans. Sleeping with pets can still be hygienic, so long they are regularly bathed, checked for fleas/ticks, vaccinated and checked up.
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Getting a dog is a very exciting time, but providing everything you need for your new pet can feel quite overwhelming.
You can find out all about the different breeds of dog by clicking on the links below, but before you do, why not get set for your pet and Get PetWise with our quick quiz and reliable and easy-to-read advice? We can help you choose the right pet for you and understand everything your pet will need, and how much it will really cost, before offering a home.
The secrets of socialisation in their first few weeks, the best way to train them – and keeping their tails wagging with toys and regular exercise.
In this section we’ll look at:
Socialisation is one of the most important things you can do for your puppy as it helps them become friendly and outgoing. It’s all about getting them to meet people and other animals – and experience lots of everyday sights and sounds, especially in the first few weeks of life.
Socialisation has a big influence on your puppy. It will affect their behaviour and temperament for the rest of their life. A well-socialised puppy is more likely to grow up to be a friendly and outgoing dog. If it’s not done properly, then it leads to problems as adults. They are more likely to have anxiety and fear, have behaviour problems, be aggressive – which can result in them being given away to rehoming centres or even being put to sleep. Tragically, this happens to thousands of dogs every year. But it can be simply avoided...
Puppies need to be socialised when they are young because of the way their brains develop. Between 3 and 8 weeks, a puppy wants to explore everything that’s new. But, after about 8 weeks, their brain changes. They are more likely to be nervous of new things and back away.
So what should you do to help their behaviour before 8 weeks?
Get them meeting people and animals, exploring different places, enjoying new experiences. The earlier you start socialisation, the better. It starts the moment they are born. You should get a puppy from a place where it has been amongst everyday sights and sounds, like the vacuum cleaner, TV, hi-fi and washing machine.
Is socialisation important after 8 weeks?
Yes. Their brains are still developing, but they will be naturally wary of new people and situations. So the way you handle their encounters is very important to make sure they stay relaxed and unafraid.
Do puppies need their vaccinations before they can meet other animals?
Yes. This is important to help protect them from diseases before they start meeting other animals. Puppies should be with their mother until 8 weeks of age and then go to their new home. You should then contact your vet to find out when they can be vaccinated. Some puppies will need their first vaccination – and then a second one a couple of weeks later, depending on your vet’s advice. Others will have already had one vaccination, arranged by the breeder – and will be due for a second.
What are the golden rules to socialise my puppy?
Puppy socialisation schedule
Puppy socialisation schedule
This socialisation schedule can be used for guidance on when to start getting your puppy used to different things.
15 weeks onwards
Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, a puppy class is a great way of strengthening your bond with your puppy and socialising with other puppies and people. It’s a good idea to go and see a class in action before booking just to make sure it’s right for you and your puppy.
Kind and effective methods should be used in the class, and the instructor should be calm, caring and approachable. There should be sufficient number of assistants to keep an eye on all of the puppies and ensure that play is gentle and doesn’t become too boisterous.
Training is a great way to keep your dog’s mind active. It also helps you bond and understand each other, especially when you are out together.
Without training, the world can be a pretty confusing place for your dog. We all expect dogs to behave in set ways and follow certain rules. But just as with a child, it’s not instinct. Rules need to be taught properly. Sadly, it’s not uncommon to see people shouting angrily at their dog. This isn’t fair. What’s really needed is some effective dog training.
It’s easier to learn when it’s fun. The kindest and most effective method is called “reward-based training” – also called “positive reinforcement”. It’s easy and something we can all do.
How does reward-based training work?
By rewarding your dog with a treat when they do what you want, they will want to behave that way again.
Repeat this several times. So if you want them to sit, give the command and give the treat either during the good behaviour or immediately afterwards. Your dog will eventually respond to your command without needing the reward.
Using reward-based training, almost any animal can be trained to understand commands, from dogs and dolphins to ferrets and fish.
How can I train my dog using rewards?
First, you need to grasp these golden rules:
When can I start training my dog?
The sooner you start the better: basic reward-based training can start at 6 weeks of age. But it’s never too late at any age.
Do I need to be the pack leader in my dog’s eyes?
No. It’s a myth that some dogs always want to be the dominant one and that you need to be the leader of the pack in order to control them. Your dog doesn’t need to view you as more dominant than them, but they do need to learn to trust you and understand your commands.
How can I find a good dog training class?
Choose a class that uses reward-based training. Avoid any class which use water pistols, rattle cans or similar training gadgets. Avoid any class which bases their training on the idea that dogs need to be dominant. Members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers only use reward-based methods.
House training is one of the first things you’ll need to learn with your puppy. It takes time and patience, but can be achieved quickly if you’re able to invest the time.
Take your puppy out first thing in the morning for a toilet break and encourage them to urinate and defaecate. It can help to have your puppy on a lead at first to avoid any chance of them running around exploring and not focusing on the fact that a toilet break is due. It’s also helpful to use a word that your puppy can associate with elimination.
Throughout the day, repeat this process. Your puppy should be taken out every 2-3 hours when you first take them home. The length of time between toilet breaks can be extended as your puppy gets older. As a general guide, a 3-month old puppy can hold their urine for approximately up to 4 hours.
In addition to this, always take your puppy out shortly after each meal. Another key time to take your puppy out is during a break in any activity – for example, after waking up from a nap, or when they’ve just finished a bout of puppy play.
Rewarding your puppy
It’s really important that when your puppy does go to the toilet outside they’re rewarded for this. You need to let your puppy know how happy you are with them using positive reinforcement techniques. Praise them, give them lots of fuss, or give them a healthy treat – this will make them want to repeat the behaviour again and again.
What to do if your puppy has an accident in the house
The main thing to remember, as with all behaviours, is to never punish your puppy for having an accident inside the house. It’s not the puppy’s fault: they simply haven’t been given enough opportunity to go to the toilet outside. Clean the area thoroughly and use it as a valuable learning experience! It’s a good idea to learn the signs your puppy may show before going to the toilet, for example, circling and sniffing the floor. This is your cue to take them outside and, if they go to the toilet, remember to heap them with praise!
Recall can be taught using the same techniques as for basic training i.e. positive reinforcement or reward-based training. When you’re teaching recall, the main thing to keep in mind is that you need to convince your dog that you’re more fun and appealing than anything else.
Socialisation plays a key role in training your puppy, as a well socialised puppy that is used to a variety of people won’t be too dependent on one person alone.
As with all training, time and patience is needed when teaching your puppy to be calm and relaxed when left alone. Start by walking just a short distance away from your puppy. If they remain calm and settled, walk back to them and reward them, this way they learn that you’re happy with this behaviour. Repeat this process, but this time leaving the room briefly. Walk back in and if your puppy is still calm and quiet, reward again. This process can keep being repeated, and gradually increase the amount of time you are away from your puppy. When you’re successful at doing this inside, try leaving the house, putting your jacket on etc. Always ensure that when you return your puppy is rewarded.
It’s important to remember that when you leave the house and when you return, you do so calmly and quietly. When leaving your puppy, it’s also a good idea to give them an interactive toy to keep them entertained – one that is safe to leave them with but can provide stimulation and reward is ideal.
A mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog. So play with your dog regularly, using appropriate dog toys. Here are some top tips from our vets about choosing the right toy for your dog:
The amount of exercise your dog needs depends on its age, breed and health. For example, a small dog may need less exercise than a particularly active one, such as a Border Collie.
As dogs get older, many may need less exercise. But owners can still make sure their dog's life is enjoyable, perhaps by replacing with gentle play for mental stimulation.
Always take veterinary advice into account. For example, a dog will need to be rested after surgery.
Your vet is the best person to advise on how much exercise your dog should be getting, as they know your dog and can take everything into consideration.
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