Dachs-Proofing Your Family

Love Dog

In This Chapter

  • Teaching your family about new puppies and special Dachshund needs
  • Developing special rules for kids
  • Making your home truly Dachshund-friendly
Keeping your home free of poisons and choking hazards is great (see Chapter Making Your Home Dachshund-Proof), but it won’t do much good if your toddler barrels across the room and sits squarely on your new puppy. Even an adult can unwittingly injure a Dachshund if he or she doesn’t know how to hold one correctly. And that poor, scared little puppy will soon be at the mercy of your family.
Are they loud? Are they boisterous? Is your family life a little chaotic? All families are. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a Dachshund oasis for your new puppy, especially when you first bring her home. Read on.

Giving Your Family Dachshund Lessons

After you secure your home environment (for details, see Chapter Making Your Home Dachshund-Proof), it’s time to Dachs-proof the occupants. Not everyone in your family automatically knows how to handle a Dachshund puppy, so a family meeting is in order. The topic of discussion? Life with a new Dachshund.
Make sure that everyone gets in on this meeting. Children especially need to know a few things about Dachshunds before you turn them loose on the poor, unsuspecting puppy. At the meeting, you can enumerate the nine no-no’s of Dachshund ownership. The kids get an extra couple of tips, too.

Remember

Because of their unusually long bodies, Dachshunds must be picked up and held with good support on both ends at all times. Show your children (and adults, too) how to pick up a Dachshund before they try it on their own. Put one hand under the Dachshund’s chest. Put the other hand under the Dachshund’s rump. Lift slowly without twisting your dog and keep both ends fully supported. See Figure 7-1 for an example. Never lift a Dachshund by the front end only, allowing her back legs to swing around. This can injure her back. 

The nine no-no’s of Dachshund ownership

I won’t go so far as to say that you need to require every member of your family to memorize and recite back to you the following list of Dachshund no-no’s, but it won’t hurt to post this list somewhere and make sure that everyone has read it at least once: 

– Don’t overwhelm your Dachshund. Dachshunds are relatively small dogs and can be easily scared or confused by lots of people, loud noises, and chaos. Give your Dachshund a place to go away from the family uproar. A kennel or crate is a perfect Dachshund haven.

 – Don’t overfeed your Dachshund. Dachshunds are prone to getting chubby, which wreaks havoc on their spines. Cool it on the treats and people food. Use pieces of kibble out of your Dachshund’s daily food ration for treats and training, or vary her diet a bit with healthy people food like small pieces of raw carrots, broccoli, apples, and berries. Puppies love chasing a wayward, rolling blueberry around the kitchen!

Warning!

However, never give grapes, raisins, onions, or chocolate — these can be toxic to dogs (more on these and other hazards in Chapter Making Your Home Dachshund-Proof).

– Don’t skimp on quality food. Buy the best food you can find. Ask your vet for recommendations. Dog food quality is often directly related to dog food price, although you may occasionally hear otherwise. The more natural and the more meat, the better. I don’t believe it hurts to add some healthy, fresh, whole human food to your pet’s diet, either — up to about 30 percent of the meal and primarily meat — as long as you adjust kibble portion size accordingly. (See Chapter Purchasing Your Dachshund Essentials for more on what to feed your Dachshund.) 

– Don’t be a couch potato. Dachshunds need exercise (just like you do), so don’t neglect that daily walk. Some playtime in the fenced backyard is great for your Dachshund’s health, too, and helps keep obesity at bay. 

Don’t ignore your Dachshund. Dachsies thrive on human attention and affection, plus they look to you for guidance on good behavior. If you decide to bring a Dachshund into your life, decide to spend time training and simply being with your dog each day. 

Don’t let your Dachshund escape. Dachshunds are proficient diggers and can be pretty clever escape artists. They also can’t be trusted off leash near traffic, no matter how well trained you think they are. They are hounds and will follow a scent, oblivious to danger. You’re in charge and must keep your Dachshund safely enclosed or on a leash. Otherwise, you could lose your friend.

Don’t assume that your Dachshund can speak English or read your mind. Your friend needs teaching so she can learn the house rules and proper behavior. That’s your job as the human end of the Dachshund-human relationship. Figure out how to train your Dachshund and work on it every day. Puppy obedience classes are a great place to start. For more on training a Dachsie, check out Chapters Teaching Your Dachshund the House Rules and Putting Your Dachshund through Basic Training.

Don’t skip the vet visits. All dogs need routine veterinary evaluations in addition to their vaccinations in the first year. As your Dachsie ages, these checkups become even more important. Keep your pet as healthy as possible by fully utilizing your vet’s expertise to catch problems before they turn serious.

 – Don’t ignore a yelp of pain or any sudden signs that your Dachshund is losing the use of her legs. When an acute disc herniation occurs, time is of the essence. Waiting it out to see whether it goes away can mean paralysis for your dog. If you can’t get her to a vet immediately, put her in her crate and don’t let her move. (Movement can injure the spinal cord and cause permanent paralysis when the herniation could otherwise have been repaired.) Then get her to the vet or emergency-care facility ASAP. (For more on canine intervertebral disk disease and what to do if your Dachshund suffers from disc herniation, see Chapter Handling Dachshund Health Problems.)

Remember

Your vet may have additional helpful tips for family members about life with a new Dachshund. Choosing a vet with Dachshund expertise is best. He will know from experience what to look for. 

Dachs-proofing your kids

Kids love Dachshunds, and the feeling is mutual, but kids can sometimes get a little boisterous and rough with a small dog. If all children learned and demonstrated respect for their fellow creatures on this Earth, the world would be a kinder, gentler place. Do your part by Dachs-proofing your kids. What could result but family harmony?
Copy this list and give it to your kids. Read it or explain it to the younger ones. These are rules for your kids to live by:

– Dogs love to play, but sometimes they need to be alone. Everyone has their limits. After an exuberant playtime, give your dog some downtime in her den.

Warning!

If a dog walks away from an approaching child, she’s communicating that she doesn’t want to be bothered. If the toddler keeps approaching and no parent intervenes, a bite is probably imminent. Listen to your Dachshund’s body language!

Dogs need to have privacy when they eat and sleep. No poking, prodding, or pulling a dog during dinner. Instinct may cause her to respond with a snap. Also, no rude awakenings, please. Dogs need to sleep a lot, and when they’re sleeping, it’s hands off.

No junk food. Dogs need healthy food and may get sick if given candy, sweets, chips, or other unhealthy food. If your parents generally don’t like you to eat something, or if they call it a special treat, don’t give it to the dog. No, not even when Mom and Dad aren’t looking. You wouldn’t want your dog to get really sick just because of what you fed her.

Dachshunds — especially Minis and Dachshund puppies — aren’t as tough as most kids. They must be handled gently, not roughly. No tug of war for Dachshunds, either. The sharp back-and-forth movements can hurt their backs. Also, Dachshunds are small and short. Never drop them from your arms or from anything else. Hold a Dachshund only while sitting on the floor, and always support the Dachshund’s back end when carrying her anywhere, even a short distance.

Never, ever pet any dog you don’t know very well. If you see a dog wandering around alone, leave her alone and tell a grownup. If you see someone walking a dog and think you’d like to pet her, always ask the owner first; then pet the dog slowly and talk softly. That’s the way to make friends with a dog.

Warning!

Kids can be a dog’s best friend or a dog’s worst enemy. Some kids are great with dogs and quickly become a puppy’s primary trainer. Others, especially those under the age of 7 or 8, find it very difficult to handle a dog carefully and gently. Because Miniature Dachshunds are particularly small and can easily be injured as puppies, most vets and breeders don’t recommend bringing a Mini into a household with children who aren’t yet in the first or second grade. 

Kid-proofing your Dachsie

Of course, when you mix up kids and dogs, the kids aren’t the only ones with potential to do some damage. An irritated or injured Dachshund can snap at a small child (or even a large child), and a bite can break the skin.
When bringing a Dachshund into a home with children, introduce her to the kids one at a time. Have the kids approach slowly, pet gently, and talk softly. Eventually, your Dachshund will know everyone and feel comfortable. And remember to show your kids the proper way to hold a Dachshund. It’s shown in Figure 7-1.
Figure 7-1: Hold the Dachshund close to your body and support her legs and underbelly.

Tip

Bringing a new baby into a home where a Dachshund is already firmly entrenched? Try this: A few days before you bring home the baby, bring home a receiving blanket with the baby’s smell on it (don’t wash it after the baby uses it) and let the Dachshund get to know the smell on the blanket. Then, when you bring the baby home, hold the baby and dog and let them check each other out.

It’s also a good idea to keep a treat jar in the nursery. This will help your dog associate the new addition to the family with positive rewards. She’ll welcome the crying of a newborn, even in the middle of the night, if it means a treat may be involved.
And don’t forget to pay your Dachshund lots of attention. She’ll be confused about the change in the family, and she’ll wonder why you’re suddenly so busy. Reassure her that she still has an important place in the family order, and maintain those training sessions, which double as bonding sessions during this potentially stressful time (see the chapters of Part III).

Dachs-proofing your other pets

Got cats? Dachshunds love them, especially Miniature Dachshunds (see Figure 7-2). Got other dogs? Dachshunds love them, too. However, introductions shouldn’t be too sudden.
Figure 7-2: Most Dachshunds get along with cats just fine, with proper introductions. (Photo courtesy of Alli and Pam Henley.)
One good way to introduce your new Dachshund and your other pets is to let each pet hang around in a room where the other pet has been for a while before letting them see each other. One vet I know suggests keeping them in separate rooms with a door between them so they can hear each other before they see each other. Curiosity may eventually get the better of any aggressive impulses.
Another suggestion is placing one of the pets in a large crate in the middle of the room while the other is free to roam around, and then switching roles. This can lead to a smoother introduction as each pet gets used to the presence of the other in a controlled way.
As with many dogs, unneutered males may not get along well with each other, and unspayed females may not, either. Best to have at least one (and I suggest all) of your pets altered (see Chapter Healthy Dachshund 101).

Mastering Dachshund-Friendly Décor

Here’s the really fun part. For many people, Dachshunds are more than pets. They’re a way of life. Beyond Dachs-proofing your home, you can actually design your home around and for your Dachshund. Why not? If you’ve been in search of a decorating theme, this one’s a lot of fun.

Making your home a Dachshund haven

Your home can be more than safe. It can be a Dachshund dream house. When you’re Dachs-proofing your home, I recommend that you get down on your belly and look around for potential hazards (see Chapter Making Your Home Dachshund-Proof). You can do the same thing to make your Dachsie’s dream house — this time getting down there to look for what a Dachshund would like to see.
Low furniture, lots of cushions, a Dachshund-sized sofa, enclosed pet beds that give a sense of security (cat beds are good for Minis), and lots of blankets and quilts for burrowing all make Dachshunds feel at home. Who doesn’t love a little luxury?

Dachsie Moxie

One of the great things about Dachshunds is that they don’t have that typical doggy smell so characteristic of other hound breeds. In fact, Dachshunds usually appear exceptionally clean (unless you’ve just been tramping through the mud with yours). You might as well just give in and let her up on the sofa!

A feeding station kept scrupulously clean, a low doggy door for outdoor forays, a grooming center (especially for longhairs and wirehairs), and a dish of gourmet dog biscuits (for special occasions only) add the finishing touches to your Dachshund’s haven.
Some of your décor can be just for you, even if your Dachshund doesn’t appreciate it. Collecting Dachshund paraphernalia is fun (see the following section). For some reason, you can find more Dachshund-specific stuff out there than you can find for most other breeds. (Maybe it’s their irresistible shape!) Dog-themed decorating items are abundantly available, from wallpaper with dog footprints to dog-printed bedding sets. If you’re a dog person through and through (or if you’re fast becoming one), why not show your true colors?

Dachshund paraphernalia: A collector’s dream!

From framed Dachshund folk art to antique Dachshund-shaped boot scrapers, Dachshunds make for a great decorating theme and great collecting opportunities. Scan antique shops and flea markets for Dachshund items. Tell dealers what you’re looking for, and they may be able to point you in the right direction. You can also purchase Dachshund paraphernalia on the Web. Check out the following Web sites:

– Distinctively Dachshund at www.disdox.com. This site has Basset Hound stuff, too.

– Dachshund Delights at www.doxidelight.com.

– Dachshund Treasures at www.dachshundtreasures.com.

– Dachshund Gifts at www.dachsundgifts.com.

– You can also find a lot of Dachshund stuff on general gift sites, collectibles sites, or dog merchandise sites. Or, you can search for Dachshund on www.ebay.com for hours of wienerdog browsing. (Hey, it’s more fun than playing solitaire.)

by Eve Adamson

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