This chapter helps you prepare your home for the new arrival. Use the information contained here as a checklist to ensure that you have everything needed for your Bulldog before he sets foot in his new home. Having everything prepared in advance makes the transition less stressful for both you and your dog, so you can both enjoy your Bully’s homecoming.
Making the Outdoors Safe for Your Bulldog
Choosing traditional fencing
If you don’t have a fence, think about your long-term needs. A chain-link fence is easier to care for than solid wood but doesn’t give you or your property privacy. Sadly enough, you need to think about your community. People, including small children, and other dogs may tease or annoy your dog. A solid fence may also prevent your dog from being stolen because dognappers can’t see what’s behind the fence. Solid PVC fences are maintenance free and give you privacy. However, PVC fences are probably the most expensive of all the fence types.
Whatever kind of fencing you choose, make sure that it’s high enough. Bulldogs aren’t noted for a lot of fence jumping, but your fence needs to keep other dogs out as well as keep your Bully in. A fence height of 5 feet is the minimum I would consider, but assess your neighborhood. Just remember that your neighborhood can change. Having a higher fence installed initially is cheaper than paying for a total replacement later.
Opting for invisible fencing
Invisible fencing has its drawbacks. Although your dog is kept in his yard, other loose dogs can enter your property, as can people. Bulldogs maintain a sweet and even temperament, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t defend their territory from a stray dog or cat. You don’t want strangers teasing or, worse, stealing your dog. You also run the risk of accidental pregnancy if your female Bully isn’t spayed. Any male dog in the neighbor can access your female Bully. My vote is for a real fence.
Safeguarding Your Home
Safety is your responsibility — put dangers out of your puppy’s way. Don’t let him sample anything that may cause harm or death. Here are some important safeguarding standards to consider:
– Crate your puppy when you can’t watch her or when you’re going out. If you do nothing else to puppyproof your house, do this.
– Protect your dog from the electrical cords in the house. Make cords as unreachable as possible. Tape down long cords that are reachable. A chewed lamp cord is a deadly hazard for your puppy.
– Use childproof locks on cupboards in your kitchen or bathroom that have loose doors. Especially consider locks for doors under sinks where cleaning supplies are stored.
– If you own fragile collectibles, put them on high shelves on sturdy bookcases. Puppies can bump into tables and bookcases when they play. If the coffee table is covered with tempting items for your puppy, remove the temptations from sight.
– An oriental rug with tasty-looking fringe is a fun toy in the mind of your Bully, but don’t leave her alone with the rug. I suggest rolling up the rug for a few months. Aside from ruining the look of that expensive rug, a puppy can swallow fringe and incur serious intestinal problems that require surgery.
– Got a priceless antique chair? Protect the rungs. Puppies love chair rungs. Chairs make wonderful teething toys. Puppies are also fast. I own a chair with rungs that is now decorated with teeth marks. I would have bet money that the most recent puppy was never alone with that chair.
– Make a spare room off limits to the puppy, and put rare furniture, special rugs, or other precious items in the room until the puppy is older. You can purchase baby gates to protect the closed-off rooms.
Examining Crates: All-Purpose Doggy Dens
Contrary to popular opinion, a crate isn’t a jail cell. Some people see a crate and see bars. Dogs, on the other paw, see a crate as a den — a safe place to take a nap or get away for a while. If you’ve had a dog before, you know that dogs frequently hide under chairs, tables, or even beds for their naps. A dog may even squeeze between a sofa and the wall. Think den when you shop for a crate.
If you have a dog who objects to the crate after a reasonable try, don’t force the issue. She can always hide under the bed for privacy or sleep with you in the bed, if that is acceptable. Remember that after you allow her to sleep with you, cuddling is a hard habit to break for your dog. See Chapter Housetraining Your Bulldog for information on crate training.
Numbering the advantages
– A crate gives your puppy a snug place of her own.
– Traveling is easier with a crate. When you’re visiting Aunt Betsy, your dog is safe and snug, and your aunt’s furniture and rug are free from dog hair.
– Crate training prepares a dog for any time when she may need to stay overnight at the veterinarian. A vet visit can be stressful, but if your Bully’s used to a crate, chances are she may relax and fall asleep, even in a strange place. When I board my dogs, I frequently request that their crates go in the indoor kennel run with them.
– Crates are small, easy-to-clean areas. If your puppy has an accident in the crate, the mess is a snap to clean. Wire crates frequently have a removable tray that makes cleanup even easier.
Deciding on the den
– Your dog needs to be able to stand up in the crate, turn around easily, and lie down stretched out. Cramped crates can make your Bulldog uncomfortable and unhappy.
– On the other hand, a crate that is too large isn’t the cozy den your dog wants, and the vastness may encourage him to sleep at one end and turn the other end into his bathroom.
Stay away from solid metal crates with your short-nosed pup. Solid metal crates tend to hold heat, and your Bulldog can become overheated.
Buying Beds for Bulldogs
If you choose a foam bed, make sure that the cover surrounds the foam completely. If your Bully can reach the foam, he can eat it. Then it’s goodbye bed, hello emergency surgery.
You may want to save the expensive mattress until your puppy is an adult. Many puppies chew on whatever is available, and I’ve seen beautiful wicker beds reduced to a pile of twigs.
Collars and Leads and Harnesses, Oh My!
– Buckle collar: The buckle collar is often considered “daily wear” for dogs. It’s a good bet for growing Bulldogs because it’s easy to adjust the size of the collar as the dog grows. Buckle collars also stand up well to hard use and stay on Bulldogs well (see Figure 5-2A).
– Slip collar: The slip collar is a type of training collar designed to tighten around the dog’s neck when the dog pulls too hard on the leash. Some dogs respond well to slip collars, although other dogs continue to pull so much that they are in danger of choking themselves (one of the reasons why these collars are also called choke collars). Consider using this type of collar when training your Bulldog (see Chapter Mastering Good Manners and Basic Commands), but don’t use it for daily wear (see Figure 5-2B).
– Prong collar: There are a variety of training collars out there, depending on the dog and what he’s being trained to do. For Bulldogs, the prong collar is fairly common, especially for Bullies that are stubborn and undisciplined on a lead (see Figure 5-2C). The prong collar looks a bit intimidating to some people, but properly fitted and used, it won’t hurt your Bulldog and will help you better communicate to him what you’d like him to do. Work with a trainer to help get the right collar for your Bulldog and to learn how to use it (see Chapter Mastering Good Manners and Basic Commands).
– Martingale collars. These look a bit like a figure eight. The larger loop has a metal ring at each end, through which the smaller loop passes. The lead attaches to this smaller loop, and that loop draws the large loop closed. It prevents the collar from slipping over the dog’s head but will close only to the size of the larger loop so that the dog can’t be choked by the collar (see Figure 5-2D).
Slip collars, prong collars, Martingales, and other types of training collars should never be left on your Bulldog when he’s not training. They can injure your Bulldog if he’s unsupervised and gets into mischief while wearing them.
Leads come in various lengths, but for training and walking 6 feet is the most useful length. Purchase a practical nylon lead to match your puppy’s collar (if you want) or a cotton lead if you can find one. Many times cotton leashes are 40 feet long and may not be the most sensible for training.
Chains are hard, unyielding, and bulky, and if your puppy makes a sudden lunge forward, the chain may rip the skin off the palm of your hand.
Keep your dog close when you’re crossing a street. If your dog gets too far ahead on a retractable lead, he may be in harm’s way. I recently heard about a dog who was hit by a car and killed because the owner let her dog walk ahead on a retractable lead.
– Tug-of-war toys are popular and teach your dog to grip, but be careful. Bulldogs are bred to hang on and never let go. Play at a level suitable to your puppy. Also, if you’re considering advanced obedience with your Bully, don’t play tug-of-war at all.
– The Kong is made of hard rubber and meant to keep your puppy occupied for hours. By stuffing cheese, peanut butter, or dog biscuits in the center of the Kong, you can amuse yourself while your Bully tries to extract the food from the Kong. If you’re planning to be away from the house for a few hours, distract your puppy with a Kong. Kongs are also a great chewing workout for your puppy. Cubes and balls that release food when your dog knocks the toy around are alternatives to Kongs.
– Plush toys may have larger plastic noisemakers buried deep within their stuffing, but a determined dog can quickly disembowel a toy to reach the squeaker. The part of the toy that makes the noise is hard and may, if swallowed, become stuck in your dog’s esophagus or block his intestine. Remember to supervise play with noisemaker toys until you know how your dog reacts to them.
Cutting out the squeaker in toys can prevent accidental swallowing. One of my dogs insisted on gutting his toys to reach the noisy part, so I finally starting cutting the squeakers out of toys before I gave them to him. I must admit that desqueaking ruins some of the fun but is much safer. You can also buy regular stuffed animals without the squeaker mechanism.
– Give your dog a plastic gallon milk jug, and watch him bat it around and bite it.
– A whole carrot provides some fun as well as chewing exercise.
– If your puppy is teething, sacrifice an old washcloth. Wet the cloth, put it in a plastic bag, and place it in the freezer. After the washcloth is frozen, take it out of the bag, and let your puppy gnaw on it.
– You can do the same thing with a tennis ball in an old sock. Put the tennis ball in the sock, knot the sock to keep the ball in place, wet the entire thing, and freeze.
– Knotted socks also make great toys for playing fetch. The socks are easy to throw and retrieve. Sock toys are also easy to wash and cheap to replace. The only problem may be that your puppy can’t discern between your good socks and your bad socks. Look at the situation this way: Your puppy is going to chew, whether he’s ever seen a sock before or not. I know, you’re not supposed to turn items of clothing into dog toys because dogs don’t know the difference between the play sock and your good socks. But you control the situation. Puppies can teach you to be neat and tidy. Don’t leave your good socks or other unmentionables lying around to be chewed. Then use your old socks that would normally go in the trash as recycled puppy toys.
Gauging Grooming Tools
Evaluating Food and Water Bowls
While you’re shopping for your dog’s dinnerware, consider a doggy placemat for the bowls. Mats wipe clean and prevent water and food from scattering all over your kitchen floor. Mats also come in all kinds of wonderful designs.
Stainless steel bowls
Stainless steel bowls are relatively inexpensive and indestructible dishware that can be thoroughly cleaned. Many stainless steel bowls also have rubber on the bottom to prevent skidding. Wash these bowls in the dishwasher regularly to ensure the cleanest dishes for your Bully.
Preventing spills in the crate
Consider these for your dog’s crate instead of a bowl: