Gardening Tips

pittie in flowersI commonly see and hear about dogs that get sick from the garden or garden products. I noticed this past weekend – tons of gardening going on. Mulching, planting, weeding. I went to Lowes and their garden center was BUSY!

Anyway, this is “flower” month and I want to make sure you know what you need to know about planting a pet safe garden. Maybe your dog or cat doesn’t go into the Flower garden – and if that is the case – good for you. But I know you also want to protect other animals from getting sick.

To help keep your garden pet safe.

The most commonly used lawn care products are of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. When applied according to package instructions or by a qualified lawn care service most of these products are not harmful. Pets are primarily poisoned by contact with concentrated products. This may occur from inappropriate storage, failure to read package instructions, or by intentionally using more product than needed. Dogs are especially good at finding poorly stored containers, chewing them up and drinking the contents. Pet owners should be especially vigilant when using insecticides as these tend to have a higher degree of toxicity.
Dogs may be exposed by digging up treated earth, chewing on pellets, or rooting around ant mounds shortly after insecticides are applied.

Many pets chew on plants in the yard and garden. Fortunately for dogs, who for some unknown reason seem to enjoy eating grass and then vomiting, most grasses are non-toxic. Holiday ornamental plants such as poinsettias and Easter lily are often put outside for the summer. Ingestion of poinsettia stems and leaves may cause some mild gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting but is not deadly. Ingestion of all parts of the Easter lily causes depression, vomiting and diarrhea in cats. Left untreated most cats die of kidney failure. Tulips (bulbs), Lily of the valley and azaleas are all springtime plants that can be deadly to pets if ingested in large enough quantities. Dogs should be watched carefully when these plants are being cared for.

Most lawn seed and Mulch products are generally not associated with toxic problems in pets. Cacoa bean mulch is perhaps the only product known to cause poisoning in dogs. This mulch is made from the hulls of cacoa beans and when fresh has a rich, chocolate aroma associated with it. Some larger breed dogs have actually eaten several pounds of the mulch, more than enough to develop poisoning associated with the chocolate remnants. These over eager dogs should be kept away from the mulch until the aroma has dissipated. Generally a heavy rainfall or thorough watering is all that is required.

As you work outside be sure to take an extra moment or two to protect your pets. Read all package instructions carefully before any applying products to your lawn or garden. Be sure not only that it is safe to use around your pets but that you are mixing or applying it correctly. Check with your local garden center about the safety of plants you are putting in your garden. Finally, be sure to close the top tightly on all containers and put them in an area where your pets do not have access to them.
With a little careful planning, you and your pet can enjoy a safe and relaxing garden environment. Whether you’re planning a large garden to feed the family or decorating a small space with hanging baskets and containers, here are a few factors to be considered.

lab eat garden

Plant Selection

Plants and flowers are nature’s attention getters. Their fragrance, appearance, and cool shade they create are natural attractants for you and your pet. Curiosity often leads pets to consume the flowers and foliage of ornamental plants, which can produce irritating and sometimes life threatening side effects.
Plants for a Sunny Location

If the location of your garden, gives you 4 or more hours of direct sunlight, a day, you have a long list, of annuals and perennials from which to choose. Annuals grow from seed and last one growing season. They are good choices for fast, instant color impact. Garden and discount centers will offer a wide variety of annual plants at economical prices. Perennials return year after year from growth at the roots, they are a little more expensive, but do not need to be planted every growing season. Most gardeners have their favourites and mix both types for the longest possible color show. Safe choices for sunny locations include:

Annuals
• Zinnia (Zinnia sp.)
• Snapdragons (Antirrhinum sp.)
• Cosmos (Cosmos sp.)
• Calendula (Callendula sp.)
• Petunia (Petunia sp.)

Perennial
• Bee Balm (Monarda sp.)
• Phlox (Phlox sp.)
• Roses (Rose sp.)
• Catmint/catnip (Nepeta sp.)
• Coneflowers (Echinacea purpura)

Plants for Partial Sun

If your garden receives less than 4 hours of direct sunlight a day, the following list of non-toxic annuals and perennials requires less sunlight.

Annuals
• Primrose(Primula sp.)
• Butterfly flower(Schianthus sp.)
• Spider flower (Cleome sp.)
• Nasturtium (Tropaeolum sp.)

Perennials
• Columbine(Aquilegia sp.)
• Coral Bells (Heuchera sp.)
• Turf Lilly (Liriope sp.)
• Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus)

Shade Gardens

A shade garden receives little to no direct sunlight, although the sun may filter through the trees for dappled light. Plant selection for these areas may include the following:

Annuals
• Begonia (Begonia sp.)
• Impatiens (Impatiens sp.)
• New Guinea Impatiens
• Violet (Viola sp.)
• Coleus (Coleus sp.)

Perennials
• Bugbane (Cimifuga racemosa)
• Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis lutea)
• Astilbe (Astilbe sp.)
• Queen of the Meadow (Filipendula ulmaria)

Vegetable Gardens

If you’re interest is vegetables, you’ll need 4 or more hours of full sun for most plants. Keeping your pet out of the vegetable garden may be your biggest task, especially when plants are young and fragile. Some clearly visible fencing may help. Avoid hardware cloth as pets can become entangled. Motion detector sprinkler systems can be useful in keeping pets and wildlife out of newly planted areas, and are not harmful. Most vegetable plants do not pose toxicity problems with a few exceptions. Onions, chives and garlic, which a lot of pets do like, contain compounds that, if ingested, can cause anemia. The leafy part of the potato plant, and the green part of the potato skin contain compounds that are toxic if eaten in sufficient quantities. Fruits also contain toxic chemicals in their seeds/pits. Apple, plum, cherry, apricot and peach seeds/pits contain cyanide, which can cause fatal seizures.

golden gardening

The 10 Least Wanted

The following is a list of plants that is best to avoid altogether due to their toxic nature. It is not a comprehensive list, if you are considering any plant of which you are unsure; consult your local plant nursery.
• Castor bean (Ricinus communis)
• Oleander (Nerium oleander)
• Morning Glory (Ipomea sp.)
• Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata)
• Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)
• Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
• Nightshade (Atropa belladonna)
• Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
• Precatory Beans (Arbus precatorius)
• Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans)

Lawn and Garden Chemicals

It is very easy to reach for a chemical pesticide, fertilizer or fungicide when faced with a problem in the lawn or garden. Fortunately for the average home gardener, safer alternatives are available for most commonly encountered problems, reducing the risk of a toxic exposure for your pet. You would not think that your pet would have any reason to consume these products but sadly they do, either intentionally or inadvertently and these types of poisonings are all too common. Remember before applying any product to your lawn, vegetables, or ornamental plants to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Many of these products are designed to persist in the environment days to weeks after application, so a pet can have an exposure days to weeks after initial application.

Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides

If you notice damaging insects on your plants such as aphids, spider mites or thrips, these insects can be eliminated or reduced by a simple spray of water. These soft-bodied insects are easily dislodged. Adjust the nozzle of your hose so a firm spray will not harm your plants and wash them away. If you have only a few plants, use a good stream of water from your watering can and a little hand washing. It may take a day or two but an infestation can be cleared by no more than a good shower!

Soap and Water

If your insect problem is more serious, add a teaspoon of dish soap to a gallon of water and use it in a garden sprayer. The soap is an irritant to a lot of insects and can help break down the protective barriers of their external skeleton. There are commercial insecticidal soaps available that are less toxic than most chemical alternatives.

Compost

The “black gold” of the garden, recycled kitchen and yard waste can be combined to produce the best garden fertilizer at no cost and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. It can be applied to the lawn and garden twice a year and it will replace the essential nutrients that growing plants and grasses require.

And Don’t Forget

Sometimes we forget the simplest things! Put your pets inside when mowing the lawn. A lawn mower can make a projectile out of a stick or rock that can injure your pet. Paint your garden tools a bright color such as red or yellow so you can see them out in the yard. Many pets step or trip on sharp garden implements. Store your chemicals out of reach and in their original containers. Don’t assume your pet will not be interested in consuming these products. If there is a toxic exposure or consumption, call your veterinarian immediately with the information from the product label. Keep your pets inside when applying any chemicals to the lawn or garden. With a little planning you and your pet can enjoy a safe and beautiful garden.

What Is Your Dog Saying? A Key to Canine Body Language

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Keys to Understanding Canine Body Language

Every dog, whether Akita, bichon, or beagle, knows the same language. You and your dog probably pick up on each other’s signals without thinking much about it. But if your dog begins to behave differently, if you are getting to know a new dog, or if you encounter a dog you don’t know, it helps to be able to read the universal body language of dogs.

If you and your dog landed in Tokyo or Timbuktu tomorrow and were greeted by a local person and his dog, it would take only a few minutes for the two dogs to understand each other. Hours later, you would still be wondering if you were bowing properly, making acceptable hand gestures, or using the right table manners. The dogs, on the other hand, would know just what to do – the lead dog eats first.

Signals Dogs Use to Communicate

Although a dog can’t speak and has no hands and fingers for gesturing as humans do, you can watch key parts of his body to determine how he’s feeling and reacting to the world around him.

Face. Although the dog’s facial muscles are not as refined as a human’s, he can wrinkle or straighten his forehead to show confusion or determination. If your dog wants you to give him further direction, he may raise his eyelids quizzically and tilt his head to one side.

Eyes. A dog’s eyes brighten when he looks at a creature he considers friendly and when he wants to play. If he is afraid, his pupils dilate and he shows the whites of his eyes. He averts his eyes to avoid confrontation. But if he is angry or ready to defend himself, his eyes narrow and follow your every move. At this point, it’s particularly important not to look the dog in the eye because he sees that as a challenge to defend his position.

Lips, teeth and tongue. A relaxed dog in normal posture may let his tongue loll out of his mouth. If he wants something from you, if he is happy or wants to play, he may pull his lips back in what appears to be a smile and show his teeth, an expression, by the way, dogs show only to humans and not to other dogs. But beware the dog that bares his clenched teeth and wrinkles his nose. He is ready to attack.

Ears. The dog’s sense of hearing is much more acute than ours and even dogs with floppy ears have the ability to move and turn them to follow sounds. If a dog’s ears are raised, he is relaxed, listening, or showing acceptance. If they are back, he may be signaling submission and deference or may be frankly fearful.

Tail. A dog wags his tail when he is happy or wants to play. It is really an energy indicator. When he is submissive, he tucks it between his legs. A taut tail, held down rigidly behind him, may show that he is prepared to spring since he uses his tail for balance when jumping.

Voice. Dogs are vocal animals. They yip, bark, whimper, howl, and growl. The pitch or volume of their sounds can increase with their level of emotion. A bark may be playful or aggressive. Unlike body signals, dog noises can mean different things from different dogs.

Never tell a dog off for Growling.png

Dog Posture Speaks Volumes – What Your Dog is Saying

When two dogs meet, as long as their human companions aren’t tugging tight on their leashes, they carry out a series of actions that looks like a choreographed dance. With their bodies tense and tails taut, they circle and sniff each other, silently gathering and exchanging information, ready to defend themselves at any moment if necessary. They hold their ears back and the hair on their back may stand on end. They often avoid direct eye contact at first, sizing each other up to determine if the stranger is strong or weak, male or female, hostile or non-hostile. One dog may place his head on the nape of the other’s neck or nip at his nose. It seems they are getting ready to fight and then, one lies down. Soon, they may separate and urinate. At this point they have agreed on which dog is dominant.

 

Dogs learn body language from their mothers during the first 8 weeks of their lives and they test out this form of communication with their litter-mates. If a dog misses out on such training, he will have trouble communicating with other dogs throughout life.

Normal posture. The dog appears alert with head held high. His tail moves freely. His jaw is relaxed.

Invitation to play. The dog happily signals his desire to play by wagging his tail and dipping down into a “play bow.” His front legs are in a crouch and his backbone swoops up, leaving his rear haunches high. His head is held up expectantly to capture your attention. He may raise a front leg or lean to one side with his head.

Submission. The dog crouches down further and still appears relaxed. He may lift a front foot as in a play invitation, but his ears are back and his tail is down. He may yawn, scratch, or sneeze, which is meant to calm him and the dogs or people confronting him.

Fearful aggression. A dog who is afraid tenses his body and holds his tail rigid, though it may be wagging. His rear legs are ready to run or spring. He bares his teeth, draws back his ears and the hair on his back stands on end. He growls or snarls constantly to warn off the subject of his fear.

Dominance aggression. Teeth bared, this dog stares you down and advances confidently with his tail wagging slowly and his ears in the forward (alert) position.

Total submission. The dog drops his tail and curls it between his legs. He drops his head to avoid eye contact. He rolls over on his side and bares his belly, with one hind leg raised and urinates. If he isn’t afraid, he’ll tilt his head up a bit and raise his ears to show trust.

 

Aggression Modification

never tell a dog off for growling

My first choice with most clients is this: changing the dogs’ opinion of each other through counterconditioning and desensitization (CC&D).

CC&D for intra-pack aggression involves changing your dogs’ association with each other from negative to positive. The easiest way to give most dogs a positive association is with very high-value, really yummy treats. I like to use chicken – canned, baked, or boiled, since most dogs love chicken and it’s a low-fat, low-calorie food.
Here’s how the CC&D process works:

1. Determine the distance at which your dogs can be in each other’s presence and be alert or wary but not extremely fearful or aroused. This is called the threshold distance. If one dog has a greater threshold hold distance than the other (often the case), work at the greater distance.

2. With you holding Dog A on leash, have your helper appear with Dog B at threshold distance “X.” The instant your dog sees the other, start feeding bits of chicken, non-stop. Your helper will feed chicken to her dog, too, the instant he notices your dog.

3. After several seconds, have the helper step out of sight with Dog B, and you both stop feeding chicken.

4. Keep repeating steps 1-3 until the sight of the other dog at distance “X” consistently causes both dogs to look at their handlers with a happy smile and a “Yay! Where’s my chicken?” expression. This is the physical presentation of the dogs’ conditioned emotional response (CER); each dog’s association with the other at threshold distance “X” is now positive, so they can deliberately look at you to get their chicken, rather than staying intensely focused on each other.

5. Now you need to increase the intensity of the stimulus by increasing the length of time Dog B stays in sight. Continue to feed chicken when they are in view of each other, occasionally pausing to let them look at each other again, and immediately feeding chicken when they do.
6. When length of time seems to make no difference to either dog – you’re getting a consistent “Yay, where’s my chicken?” response regardless of how long Dog B stays in view, increase the intensity again, this time by increasing Dog B’s movement. Have the handler walk back and forth with her dog, still at distance “X,” slowly at first, then with more energy, even adding in some other behaviors such as sit, down, and roll over.

7. Now you’re ready to start decreasing distance by moving Dog A a little closer to the location where the Dog B will appear. When you obtain consistent CERs from both dogs at each new distance you can decrease the distance a little more, until both dogs are happy to be very near each other.

8. Then return to your original threshold distance and increase intensity stimulus by having Dog B move around more and more, as you gradually decrease distance and obtain CERs from both dogs along the way, until they are delighted to be near each other.

9. Now go back to your starting distance and increase intensity again, by having both dogs move more naturally as the distance decreases, offering CERs at each new distance before you come any closer, until they can be within six feet of each other, moving around, still relaxed and happy about chicken.

10. Finally, find ways for your dogs to engage separately in mutually enjoyable activities together. If they both enjoy car rides, take them for a drive, but be sure they are seat-belted or crated far enough apart to avoid any tension. If they love hiking, take them on “parallel” walks, one with you, one with your training partner, with humans between them at first, and eventually with dogs between humans when you’re sure their emotions are appropriate. Parallel swims, for dogs who love the water, can work well too.

When you feel the dogs are ready to finally interact with each other again, be careful not to undo all your hard work. You might first let them greet each other through a barrier, such as a baby gate or exercise pen.

Changing Bad Behavior

It can be frustrating when your dog misbehaves. A dog’s actions often don’t make sense to humans, and it can be hard to understand why a dog behaves in a destructive fashion.

Let’s discuss the causes of bad behavior and methods for correcting it.

Changing Bad Behavior

If you have a dog that is behaving badly, you need to correct the problem, but to do that, you need to understand your dog’s behavior. First and foremost, remember that dogs are pack animals and your dog sees themselves as part of your pack. If you allow your dog to continue their detrimental behavioral, they will think that they are the alpha dog, and behavioral problems will persist.

How many times have you uttered the words, “No! Bad dog!” only to find that it has no effect on your dog’s behavior? That’s because punishment doesn’t work. Most of the time, dogs don’t understand what they’re being punished for.

Changing dog behavioral problems isn’t quick and easy; it can take weeks or months to achieve. The most important thing to remember is that any attention rewards your dog, regardless of whether that attention is good or bad. If you are trying to change levels of dog obedience, always remember that punishment doesn’t work.

The key to changing behavior is not to allow your dog to be rewarded for it. Instead of yelling, give your dog the chance to succeed, and reward them when they triumph. For instance, if your dog is jumping up, tell them to lie down—and when they do, give them a treat. This is the type of dog training that will eventually stop obedience issues.

Also remember the old adage, “a tired dog is a good dog.” It’s true! A tired dog is less likely to exhibit behavioral problems, so make sure that your pup gets plenty of opportunities to run and play. Exercise is important for all dogs, as it helps them use pent up energy, so they’re less likely to direct that energy toward unwanted behaviors.

 

What Is a Dog Behaviorist?

If you are having trouble with a misbehaving dog, one option to get them back on the right track is to consult a dog behaviorist. These specialists try to find triggers for a dog’s mischief by examining their environment and noting factors that may lead to bad behavior.

 

Dog Behavior Training Tips

Did you know that behavioral problems are the number one reason dogs are surrendered to shelters or euthanized?

 

Here are some training tips for common behavioral issues:

Inappropriate Chewing. Dogs explore their environment with their mouths, so chewing comes naturally. Chewing on its own is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can help relieve boredom and stress, and it can help keep your dog’s teeth clean. The key is to get your dog to chew appropriate items. So, if you find your dog chewing on your shoe, redirect their chewing elsewhere, like to a chew toy or rope. It is also important to praise your dog for selecting the appropriate chew toy.

Digging in the Yard. The activity of digging is extremely rewarding to dogs. Your dog may dig because they caught a scent in the air or simply want to release some energy. If you don’t want your dog to dig holes in your yard, redirect their digging activities. Give your dog a sandbox or section off a portion of the yard where it is okay to dig. Reward your dog with treats and toys to make this new digging spot more exciting than their previous point of interest.

Begging at the Table. Consistency is the key to stopping poor behavior, so it is important to make sure that no one in the family feeds the dog at the table. Try to distract your dog from your family’s mealtime by giving them an appropriate activity, like enjoying a food puzzle.

Barking at the Doorbell. Your dog might bark at the doorbell because they are anxious or excited about visitors. Some dogs believe that their barking is what makes you open the door, so by barking they are attempting to train you. Redirect your dog’s attention from the doorbell, and try to get them to sit quietly on the doormat and wait for you to open the door.

Urine Marking. Dogs urinate on different items and places to mark their territory or to leave messages for other dogs. When you catch your dog urine marking in the house, interrupt the activity with a “no” and take them outside immediately. When you get outside, make sure to reward or praise your dog for urinating outdoors. Also, to prevent your dog from continuing to urinate indoors in the same spot, use an enzyme cleaner to remove the scent.

Ways to Keep Your Dog Active During Winter

Ways to Keep Your Dog Active During Winter

Cold, rain, snow, and ice can complicate our dogs’ exercise and training plans – but winter weather shouldn’t cancel them!

It can be very challenging to keep your canine family members happy during the ravages of winter. Even those who live in the warmer southern states may face long stretches of forced idleness from winter rains. Without ample enrichment activities, weeks and months of short, dark days can turn even a calm canine into a hyper hound.

Fortunately, the ever-creative modern dog training world has come up with countless ways to keep our dogs happy in inclement weather, so that dogs and humans can spend more time snuggled together in front of the warm fireplace and less time worrying about frostbite or drowning (see “Winter Warnings,” next page).

adorable animal canine cold

KEEPING ACTIVE IN THE WINTER

One of the best ways to stave off your dog’s winter crazies is to provide her with a wide variety of enrichment activities. Some are easy and can be implemented immediately, while some take a little more investment in time and resources. Let’s start with easy:

Indoor Fetch. If there’s only one of you and your dog will fetch, you can stand at the top of the stairs and toss her ball or toy to the bottom, have her run down to get it, run back up to you. If she will chase it but not bring it back, have a laundry basket full of toys or balls, call her back, and just keep throwing new ones. When you have thrown them all, go down the stairs, collect them, and bring them back up. If you don’t have stairs (or she can’t do stairs) use a long hallway. Get added benefit by putting barriers across the hall for her to jump over as she runs back and forth.

Jump the Jumps. When I was a wee child, I used to take broomsticks and mop handles and lay them across chairs all around the house, and then run with my Rough Collie, Squire, as he sailed over my makeshift jumps. You can do the same! If you prefer, you can get sections of PVC pipe at a hardware store. Start with the poles on the ground and use a treat to get your dog to walk over them, then trot over them.

When she is ready for more, use poles to make low X-shaped jumps before you use straight poles to make higher jumps. (Note: Young puppies shouldn’t jump until they are old enough not to be harmed by the repeated impacts. Check with your vet to make sure jumping is a safe activity for your pup.)

Round Robin Recall. You need at least two humans and a dog who loves to come when she’s called for this game. The larger your house and the more humans (within reason!), the better.

Put Billy (B) on the third floor, Janey (J) on the second, Mom (M) on the ground floor, and Dad (D) in the basement. (If stairs are not safely carpeted or dog has trouble with stairs, put all humans in different rooms on the same floor.) Each human has yummy treats and a toy that the dog likes for reinforcement when the dog arrives. Write up a random calling order and give each person a copy to ensure two humans aren’t calling her at the same time, and let the fun begin.

Be sure each person has a fun party with the dog when she gets there! This not only burns off dog energy, it gives the kids something to do, and it helps improve your dog’s recall.

huskey sled reverse

Ball Pit. For this one you need a kiddie wading pool and a generous supply of non-toxic, sturdy ball-pit balls. Put a towel down to cover the bottom of the pool (so the sound doesn’t startle your dog), fill the pool with balls (no water!), and let the fun begin! If your dog doesn’t take to it immediately, toss treats and favorite toys into the pool and let her – or help her – dig for them.

Snuffle Mat (and other food toys). Interactive food-dispensing toys are a simple solution to many dogs’ winter blues. We particularly like “snuffle mats,” where you bury treats in the cloth fingers of a textured mat and let your dog go to it. If you have a dog who wants to eat the mat or, in contrast, just isn’t interested, there are many other options, including treat-dispensing toys your dog pushes around, and puzzle toys she has to solve to get the treats. (See “Play with Your Food,” WDJ April 2019).

Flirt Pole. This is simply a sturdy pole with a rope fastened to one end and a toy fastened to the rope. You can make one or buy one. To play, stand in one place and swing the toy around for your dog to chase. (You can also practice “Trade” to get the toy back once your dog has grabbed it; see “Trade Agreements,” WDJ February 2017).

Woody chases the Tail Teaser with typical intensity. Be careful about baiting your dog into too many tight turns with these toys if she has knee or other joint issues.

If your dog tends to bodyslam you (or your kids) while playing this game, stand inside an exercise pen for protection while your dog chases the toy around the outside of the pen.

These toys are available in better pet supply stores and from online sources such as Chewy.com and Amazon.com. Outward Hound makes one called the “Tail Teaser” and sells it with an extra replacement toy for about $13; Chewy.com also sells one called the Pet Fit for Life Plush Wand Teaser Dog Toy for $11.

Nose Games. Scent work is surprisingly tiring, and because most dogs love to sniff, it’s also very satisfying for them. It’s also usually an easy game to teach. Have your dog sit and wait (or have someone hold her collar). Hold up a treat, walk six feet away, and place it on the floor. Return to your dog, pause, and then say “Search!” Encourage her to run out and eat the treat.

After a few repetitions, let her watch you “hide” the treat in an easy spot (on the floor behind a chair leg, etc.). Return and tell her “Search!” Gradually hide the treat in harder places, then multiple treats, and eventually have her in another room while you hide treats. This should keep her quite busy and tire her out nicely. (For much more information, see “How to Teach Your Dog to Play Nose Games,” WDJ September 2019.)

Treadmill. Now we’re getting into activities that require more investments in time and resources. First, of course, you need a treadmill. Be sure to get one that is safe to use with dogs. Dog-specific treadmills generally are smaller than human products (some are made just for small dogs!) and have appropriately sized siderails (for safety, to keep the dog from falling off on the sides).

You will need to do a very gradual introduction, associating the machine with treats and toys until your dog is very comfortable being near it, and then on it, before you even think of turning it on. Be sure not to overdo the exercise; check with your veterinarian about how much exercise is appropriate for your dog to start with and how you should increase the time (gradually!).

Cognition Training. Those winter shut-in months are a perfect time to experiment with cognition training for your dog. You don’t need a lot of room, and this brain exercise is surprisingly tiring. You can teach your dog to imitate your specific behaviors (see “Copy That,” October 2013); explore choice (see “Pro-Choice,” November 2016); learn to demonstrate object, shape, and color discrimination and even read! (see “Are Canines Cognitive?” October 2017), and much more.

Indoor Parkour. If you really want to get creative, you can set up an indoor parkour course for your dog, made out of household items. After you’ve taught your dog each of the various obstacles, put them all together into a complete course. Here are some suggestions for obstacles that you can train your dog to navigate:

Laundry Leap: Get a laundry basket that’s an appropriate size for your dog, and teach him to jump into and out of it.

Hoop-De-Do: Best use of a hula hoop ever! Hold it up for your dog to jump through, or wedge it between a chair and a wall for a fixed jump.

Sweet Roll: Roll up a carpet runner and let your dog unroll it with her nose. (Teach this one by placing treats inside the rug as you roll it so she finds them as she unrolls it.) This would be especially fun if you had a red carpet that your dog could unroll for special guests!

That Was Easy: A smack of the paw lets your dog share her editorial opinion. These buttons are available from Staples stores and its website – or you can find a variety of wonderful talking buttons online.

Go ’Round: A simple orange traffic cone makes a perfect loop-stacle to send your dog around the bend in a different direction.

Walk the Plank: Place an eight-foot long 2×8 board across two low stools and let your dog walk the plank! Increase the level of difficulty with narrower planks.

Tunnel o’ Chairs: If you have a smaller dog, start by teaching her to crawl under one folding chair, then add a second chair, then a third, eventually making your crawl tunnel as long as you want it to be!

Whatever your fancy, there should be some activities here that you and your dog can enjoy together when the weather outside is frightful. Stay warm, stay safe, and have fun!

Do Dogs Need Grains in Their Diet?

Sharing an Article, that I thought would be interesting, for my readers

March 06, 2019 – Article by Dr. Primovic – DVM

Pet owners commonly question, “do dogs need grains” in their diet. In this article we will review what is a grain, types of grains, if dogs need grain, and what food is best if you are feeding your dog a grain free food.

First, just exactly what is a grain? Per the dictionary, “a grain is defined as a hard dry seed that is small and attached to a fruit layer.” Many grains grow in crops and are harvested from producing plants. Two common categories of grains are cereals and legumes.

Depending on your location in the country and world, you may be more familiar with some grains than others. The most common grain as it pertains to dog food are the cereal grains. Types of cereal grains include maize (corn), various types of millet, sorghum, fonio, barley, oats, rice, rye, spelt, wheat, wild rice, triticale, and teff.

Other kinds of grains include buckwheat, chia, quinoa, kiwicha, lentils, chickpeas, common beans, lentils, lima beans, fava beans, soybeans, runner beans, pigeon beans, peanuts, mustards, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, flax seed, hemp, poppy seed, and lupins.

The most common grains used in dog foods are barely, buckwheat, corn, rice, oats, and quinoa.

Grains in the diets of humans are considered healthy and full of protein, vitamin E, iron, and linoleic acid. Some grains are promoted in people as being very healthy. For example, quinoa is commonly referred to as a “super food” due to its high quantities of iron, protein and fiber. However, this is not necessarily true for dogs.

 

Do Dogs Need Grain Free Dog Food?

There are several opinions and theories from experts as they relate to different aspects of feeding grains to dogs. They include:

Filler Theory – Some believe that grains are dog food fillers and are not optimal to feed for good canine health. Grains are less expensive than proteins such as beef or chicken and therefore pet food companies will manufacture dog food with large amounts of grains to keep the prices down.

Natural Theory – In nature, dogs do eat some grains. Access to grains stems back to when dogs hunted and killed prey to survive. Dogs would eat the meat, bones, organs, and contents of organs such as the stomach and intestine. The prey that dogs kill was commonly herbivores whose intestines and stomachs contained grains. Grains are not a majority component of a dogs diet but it was a natural part of their diet in small amounts.

Good Grain Theory – There are some grains that are better than others. Some grains such as quinoa are even considered a “super food” due to the high nutrient properties of protein, iron and fiber. Some grains can be good for dogs in small quantities.

Allergies Theory – Some experts believe that grains create allergies in dogs. On the other hand, some disagree with this theory. The reality is that grains can cause allergies but grains are not the most common cause of canine allergies. The most common food that causes allergies in dogs is beef. Other common food allergens include dairy, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk.

 

Do Dogs Need Grains?

Pet owners commonly ask if dogs need grains in their diet. The answer is no. Dogs do not need grains in their diet. Dogs are carnivores. Dogs require a balanced diet formulated to meet the needs of your dog’s life stage and condition. Dietary requirements for dogs can vary according to age, activity levels and medical history. Although dogs don’t need grains, whole grains can provide protein, amino acids, and vitamin E.

Many dry dog foods based on grain as the primarily ingredients including soybean, corn, or rice. Many dog foods list these grains as the first ingredient. Some better brands of dog food list meat or fish as the first listed ingredient. Higher quality dog foods generally cost more but dogs eat less of them that helps to balance out cost.

 

What Dog Food Should I Feed My Dog?

The most important factor when choosing dog food is to choose a food that is AAFCO approved and formulated to meet the needs of your dog. AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). It is a voluntary membership program that indicates that the dog food manufacturer has confirmed to AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles. Check the dog food label to ensure the food conforms to these standards.

When choosing a food for your dog, consider nutritional needs, life stage, activity level, body condition, and underlying medical conditions. A puppy has different needs and requirements as compared to a senior dog. A working dog has different needs than a nonworking lap dog.

Feeding a grain free dog food or a quality food that does not list grain as the first ingredient are both good options for dogs that do not have food allergies.

thanksgiving

 

Could It Be Canine Dementia?

I personally experience this with my Teal’C 

MY Heart still aches

Symptoms

dementia.jpg

 

Dog owners are usually the first to notice that something is wrong or different with their dogs. Common symptoms to watch for include pacing, turning in circles, staring into space, or seeming lost and confused. In many cases, the dog’s temperament changes. Dogs who have been generally friendly may begin to show aggression – and typically aggressive dogs may become unusually friendly!

Dogs experiencing an onset of CCD may also start to have difficulty navigating stairs or seem confused about how to get around furniture. CCD may also lead to dogs isolating and seeking out less attention, or generally become more fearful or anxious.

Veterinarians use the acronym DISHAA to describe typical symptoms of CCD. This stands for:

Disorientation – Examples include getting lost in familiar places, doing things like standing at the hinge side of the door waiting for it to open, or getting “stuck” behind furniture.

Interactions – Changes in how or even whether the dog interacts with his people. He may withdraw from his family, and become more irritable, fearful, or aggressive with visitors. In contrast, the dog may become overdependant and “clingy,” in need of constant contact.
Sleep – Changes in sleep patterns (such as being wakeful or restless in the middle of the night), vocalization at night.

Housetraining – Increased house-soiling and/or a decrease in signaling to go out are common. Or a dog goes outside for a while and then eliminates in the house right after coming inside, or soils his crate or bed.

Activity level – Decrease in exploration or play with toys or family members, and/or an increase in aimless pacing or wandering.

Anxiety – Increased anxiety when separated from owners, more reactive or fearful to visual or auditory stimuli, increased fear or new places.

Recently, the letter “L” was added to the end of the acronym:

Learning/memory – Decreased ability to perform learned tasks, decreased responsiveness to familiar cues, inability/slow to learn new tasks.

Dylan Fry, DVM, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (DACVIM), a neurologist at NorthStar VETS, also notes that it’s important to watch for new compulsive behaviors (such as pacing) from your senior dog, as these, too, could be symptoms of CCD. If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms or has developed a behavior or personality change, it’s a good idea for your dog to be seen by a veterinarian so you can discuss your concerns about CCD and rule out any other conditions like arthritis or other pain, vision, or hearing changes that may cause similar symptoms.

The Dog Nanny

How to Stop Your Dog’s Annoying Humping Behavior

How to Stop Your Dog’s Annoying Humping Behavior
Dog humping is mostly triggered by stress. You can eliminate the stress and modify your dog’s behavior with these simple tips.

Female dog humping pillow
A client’s 13-year-old Pomeranian, Scooter, loves to hump his purple stuffed bear. We find it harmless, so we don’t try to stop him, though, honestly, he doesn’t get that many opportunities to practice the behavior. His intimate bear-time is limited because their Corgi, Lucy, shreds stuffed animals in the blink of an eye, so Scooter only gets his bear  when Lucy isn’t around, which isn’t all that often. But there are many dogs whose mounting behavior is more disturbing – because it embarrasses their humans, offends observers, or worse, distresses the person or other animal who is the unfortunate humpee of the moment.

Scooter’s purple bear could care less. Other dogs, and humans who are the target of the behavior, may be intimidated, antagonized, or even injured by the overbearing attentions of a dog dedicated to mounting. I was once on the receiving end of a Boxer’s persistent mounting while conducting a behavior assessment at a shelter. This dog was so big and strong that he actually was able to pull me to the floor of the kennel – a frightening and potentially very dangerous situation, had there not been other staff there to rescue me. And I don’t get taken down by a dog easily!

Dog Humping isn’t About Sex
Mounting behavior is most commonly not about sex. Oh sure, if you have a female in season and an unsterilized male dog mounting her, then yes, it is clearly about reproduction. But in today’s polite society, many dogs are spayed and neutered, and unspayed females in season are usually kept safely at home by her responsible owners.
Still, it’s common to see dogs mounting other dogs, humans, toys, other objects, and even “air-humping” – seemingly having their way with some invisible, imaginary subject. And it’s not limited to male dogs; female dogs also hump objects, people, and other dogs.

Like many canine behaviors that we humans find annoying, inconvenient, or embarrassing, dog humping is a perfectly normal behavior. And like other such annoying, inconvenient, and embarrassing behaviors, it’s perfectly reasonable for us to ask our dogs to stop, or to at least reserve the behavior for times or places that are considered more appropriate by the human family members.

So why do dogs hump? Reproduction aside, the most common reason dogs hump things is in response to stress, anxiety, and/or excitement. A trainer friend of mine tells of a friend coming to visit – a friend who lives far away, visits rarely, and who is well-loved by my trainer friend’s dog, a pit bull-mix. Roscoe was so deliriously happy about the friend’s visit that he made a full air-humping circuit of the living room before he could settle down enough to greet the guest politely. Our first Pomeranian, Dusty, would mount the sofa cushions if I took the other dogs out and left him inside. The stress of being left behind triggered the cushion-humping.

The stress and excitement of meeting other dogs is a classic cause of mounting, and one of the reasons you are highly likely to see the behavior on display in dog parks. Brief bouts that involve mounting of other dogs in canine social interactions – as long as they don’t lead to bloodletting or oppression of the mountee – are acceptable. Mounting of human body parts is not acceptable, nor is mounting that leads to dog fights.

There can also be underlying medical causes of canine mounting and masturbation. These can include urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and allergies that cause itching of sensitive body parts. In these cases, the dog is merely trying to relieve the discomfort caused by the medical issue. We had an allergy-prone Scottish Terrier who, in the middle of allergy flare-ups, would do push-ups on the living room carpet to scratch his itchy private parts.

Attention-seeking can be yet another reason why dogs hump. Some dogs have learned that a really good way to get their humans to engage with them is to climb on for a little ride. Remember that for many attention-starved dogs, negative attention (“Bad dog, stop that!”) is still better than no attention at all. And if some humans find the behavior amusing, positively reinforcing it with laughter and encouragement, the behavior is all the more likely to continue.

How To Stop Your Dog’s Humping
So what do you do with a dog who mounts inappropriately? The first step is a trip to your veterinarian to rule out – or treat – any medical conditions that may be causing or exacerbating the behavior.

Meanwhile, do your best to manage your dog’s environment to prevent, or at least minimize, the behavior. If he aggravates other dogs at the dog park, limit his social engagements until the behavior is under control. If he persists in annoying your guests, keep him leashed, crated, behind a baby gate, or in another room when company visits, so he can’t practice the unwanted behavior.

The longer your dog has practiced his mounting behavior, the harder it will be to change. It’s logical that the sooner you intervene in your dog’s unacceptable mounting, the better your chances for behavior modification success.

Neutering is another obvious first step. A 1990 study found a 50 percent improvement in mounting behavior in 60 percent of dogs, and a 90 percent improvement in as many as 40 percent of dogs following castration. (While both male and female dogs may engage in mounting, it is more often a male dog behavior problem than a female one.)

A 1976 study determined that within 72 hours of surgery, the bulk of hormones have left the dog’s system. Since mounting is partially a learned behavior as well as hormone-driven, the extent to which neutering will help will be determined at least in part by how long the dog has been allowed to practice the behavior. Neutered dogs may still hump after surgery, but the odds are greatly reduced.

dog humping behavior

Female dog humping human
Dog-on-Dog Mounting
You will need to work harder to convince your adult, well-practiced dog than a young, inexperienced pup to quit climbing on other dogs. Additionally, there’s more potential for aggression with a mature dog if the recipient of unwanted attentions objects to being mounted. With both young and mature dogs, you can use time-outs to let your dog know that mounting behavior makes all fun stop. A tab (a short, 4- to 6-inch piece of leash) or a drag-line (a 4- to 6-foot light nylon cord) attached to your dog’s collar can make enforcement of time-outs faster and more effective (and safer) when you have to separate dogs.

Set up your dog for a play date with an understanding friend who has a tolerant dog. Try to find a safely fenced but neutral play yard, so that home team advantage doesn’t play a role. If a neutral yard isn’t available, the friend’s yard is better than your own, and outdoors is definitely preferable to indoors.

When you turn the dogs out together, watch yours closely. It’s a good idea to have some tools on hand to break up a fight, should one occur. If there’s no sign of mounting, let them play. Be ready to intervene if you see the beginning signs of mounting behavior in your dog. This usually occurs as play escalates and arousal increases.

When you see the first glimmerings of mounting behavior, try subtle body-blocking. Every time your dog approaches the other with obvious mounting body postures, step calmly in front of your dog to block him. If you’re particularly coordinated, you may be able to simply lean your body forward or thrust out a hip or knee to send him the message that the fun’s about to stop. This is more likely to work with the younger dog, who is less intense about his intent to mount. Be sure not to intervene if your dog appears to be initiating appropriate canine play.

If body blocking doesn’t work, as gently and unobtrusively as possible, grasp the dog’s tab or light line, give a cheerful “Oops!”, then happily announce, “Time out!” and lead your dog to a quiet corner of the play yard. (The “Oops!” is what’s called a “no reward marker – sort of like the opposite of a reward marker such as the click of a clicker. It lets your dog know that the thing he is doing at that moment is not going to be rewarded.) Sit with him there until you can tell that his arousal level has diminished, and then release him to return to his playmate. If necessary, have your friend restrain her dog at the same time so he doesn’t come pestering yours during the time-out.

Keep in mind that the earlier you intervene in the mounting behavior sequence, the more effective the intervention will be, since your dog hasn’t had time to get fully engaged in the behavior. It’s vitally important that you stay calm and cheerful about the modification program. Yelling at or physically correcting your dog increases the stress level in the environment, making more mounting behavior – and a fight, or aggression toward you – more likely to occur.

With enough time-out repetitions, most dogs will give up the mounting, at least for the time being. With an older dog for whom the habit is well ingrained, you may need to repeat your time-outs with each new play session, and you may need to restrict his playmates to those who won’t take offense to his persistently rude behavior.

With a pup or juvenile, the behavior should extinguish fairly easily with repeated time-outs, especially if he is neutered. Just keep an eye out for “spontaneous recovery,” when a behavior you think has been extinguished returns unexpectedly. Quick re-intervention with body blocks or time-outs should put the mounting to rest again.

Dog-on-Human Mounting
This embarrassing behavior is handled much the same way as dog-dog mounting. One difference is that you must educate your guests as to how they should respond if your dog attempts his inappropriate behavior. Another is that some dogs will become aggressive if you physically try to remove them from a human leg or other body part. It works best to set up initial training sessions with dog-savvy friends who agree to be human mounting posts for training purposes, rather than relying on “real” guests to respond promptly and appropriately, at least until your dog starts to get the idea.

For your average, run-of-the-mill human mounting, ask your guests to immediately stand up and walk away if your dog attempts to get too cozy. Explain that it is not sexual behavior, but rather attention-seeking, and anything they try to do to talk the dog out of it or physically restrain him will only reinforce the behavior and make it worse. You can also use a light line here, to help extricate your friends from your dog’s embrace, and to give him that oh-so-useful time out.

If the behavior is too disruptive, you can tether your dog in the room where you are all socializing, so he still gets to be part of the social experience without repeatedly mugging your guests.

If your dog becomes aggressive when thwarted, he should be shut safely away in his crate when company comes. Social hour is not an appropriate time to work on any aggressive behavior; it puts your guests at risk, and prevents all of you from being able to relax and enjoy the occasion.

If your dog becomes growly, snappy, or otherwise dangerous when you try to remove him from a human, you are dealing with serious behavior challenge. You would be wise to work with a qualified, positive reinforcement-based behavior consultant who can help you stay safe while you modify this behavior. The program remains essentially the same – using time-outs to take away the fun every time the behavior happens, but may also involve the use of muzzles, and perhaps pharmaceutical intervention with your veterinarian’s assistance, if necessary.

Dog-on-Object Mounting
Dog owners are often surprised to discover that some dogs will masturbate. Our diminutive Dusty, pillager of the sofa pillows, discovered early in life that if he approaches someone who was sitting with their legs crossed, the person’s foot was just the right height for him to to stand over a raised human foot and engage in a little self-pleasuring. As soon as we realized what he was doing, we squelched that behavior by removing his opportunity; we’d put both feet on the floor and that was that.

There’s really no harm in canine masturbation, as long as the objects used are reasonably appropriate (i.e., dog toys, as opposed to your bed pillows!), and it doesn’t become obsessive. Removing an inappropriate object or resorting to cheerful time-outs can redirect the behavior to objects that are more acceptable, such as a stuffed dog toy.

If your dog practices the behavior to the degree that is appears obsessive – a not uncommon problem in zoo animals, but rare in dogs – then you may need some behavior modification help. A behavior is generally considered obsessive when it is causes harm to the organism or interferes with his ability to lead a normal life. For example, if your dog is rubbing himself raw on the Berber carpet, or spends 20 hours a day having fun in the bedroom, you’re looking at obsessive behavior.

There are behavior modification programs that can help with canine obsessive-compulsive disorders, and they often require pharmaceutical intervention, especially if the obsession is well-developed.

The “Say Please” Program
In addition to specific behavior modification programs for mounting behavior, a “Say Please” program can be an important key to your ultimate success. No, we’re not suggesting you allow your dog to do inappropriate mounting if he says “please” first; a Say Please program requires that he perform a polite behavior, such as “sit,” before he gets any good stuff (like dinner, treats, or petting, or going outside). This helps create structure in his world and reminds him that you are in control of the good stuff. Since a fair amount of mounting has to do with stress, and structure helps reduce stress, “Say Please” is right on target.

Eliminate Your Dog’s Stress
Because stress is a significant part of mounting behavior, the more stressors you can remove from your dog’s world, the better. Learn to recognize signs of stress in your dog and reduce the stressors in his life.

“Good Manners” classes are also of benefit. The better you and your dog can communicate with each other, the less stressful life is for both of you. If he’s trained to respond promptly to cues, you can use the technique of “asking for an incompatible behavior” to minimize mounting. If you see your dog approaching a guest with a gleam in his eye, your cue to “Go to your place!” or “Leave it!” will divert him. He can’t “Down” and mount a leg at the same time. Nor can he do push-ups on the rug if he is responding to your request to “Sit.”

If you start early and are consistent about reducing your dog’s stress, removing reinforcement for your dog’s inappropriate mounting, and reinforcing alternative/incompatible behaviors, chances are you can succeed in making the embarrassing behavior go away.

The Dog Nanny

Defining The Term PACK

From The Dog Nanny’s Seminar series – Power Point Presentation

training

Defining The Term PACK

  • Here is where there is a huge divide between Dog Trainers.
  • Those that adhere to the The Pack Theory and those that do not.
  • But which Pack Theory?
  • The old or new
  • Alpha or Alpha-Beta-Omega structure

Pack – Alpha

  • This Pack Dominance theory came from studying forced Packs. Wolves in captivity.
  • We now know that Natural Forming packs follow a Alpha-Beta-Omega structure
  • Domestic dogs, like their wild wolf counterparts, also interact in complex hierarchical ways.

Dog or Wolf

  • Dog behavior refers to the collection of behaviors by the domestic dog, and is believed to be influenced by genetic, social, situational and environmental causes.
  • The domestic dog is a subspecies of the grey wolf, and shares many of its behavioral characteristics.

Although there are important and distinct differences between dogs and wolves.

 

Wolf – V – Dog

  • Research of packs formed in the wild indicates that wolves form a family group, including a breeding pair and their offspring.
  • In these familial packs, the terms “dominance,” and “submission” are less useful than “parent,” and “offspring,” and bring with them a number of misconceptions.
  • While the majority of research to date indicates that domestic dogs conform to a hierarchy around an Alpha-Beta-Omega structure, like their wild wolf counterparts.

Pack – v – Family

  • Packs are family units, and the “alpha” of a pack does not change through struggles for dominance. Rather, it argues that the family unit serves to raise the young, which then disperse to pair up with other dispersed wolves to form a breeding pair, and a pack of their own. This model undermines the popular conception of dominance in wolf social behavior.

My Terms

  • I use the word Pack and the term Pack Leader.
  • I could say Family and Dad or Mum or Mum & Dad or The Boss
  • I use the term Leadership
  • I do not mean Dominance when I say that, I mean Leadership
  • What leadership means in relation to our interaction with our dogs is to provide direction, to show and teach them what they are allowed to do, guide them towards what they can and may do instead of engaging in nuisance-type behaviours such as jumping up, biting on hands, pulling on the lead, barking, or barging through doorways.
  • And ‘do’ is an important word here – it’s not enough to say ‘I want my dog to stop barking’ or ‘I want my dog to not jump up’ or ‘not pull on the lead’ – leadership is about teaching them what we want them to do instead, not what we want them not to do.
  • Leadership requires concerted and constructive effort on our part, and involves us prompting and coordinating friendly social interaction, activities and behaviours that bring beneficial results both to us as leaders and to our dogs as followers. It’s about quality of life and enriching the bond that we have with our dogs.

    Leadership requires us to communicate clearly and compassionately with our dogs, to be patient and tolerant while our dogs are learning to follow and trust our direction, and above all, to remember that we are on the same team as our dogs – always.

Canine Behaviour

  • Every species is unique in their behavior. That is how we tell them apart even if their anatomy is closely related.
  • As such, humans and chimps are clearly different species, with a common ancestor, but only some common, primate behaviors.
  • The same is true for dogs and wolves. There are some common behaviours.

Evolution of the Dog

  • Behavioral variations happen when animals adjust to different environmental demands.
  • Adapting to one’s environment, is evolutionary success.
  • The big divergence regarding wolves and dogs is that dogs live on human waste, and non-captive wolves hunt and kill prey.

The Human Bond

  • Food seeking is a primal drive, and that makes that difference a profound one, because it means that wolves depend on one another for survival, and dogs don’t.
  • They depend on humans.
  • They evolved from Wolves into the Dog.
  • A mutually beneficial result for both Dog and Human

Pack Leader/Mum or Dad

  • Why does it matter to us if dogs are natural pack animals or not? Because it impacts their behavior and our life with them, that’s why.
  • Does that mean that our canine companion needs a pack leader? Well, she certainly needs someone who explains how her world works; how she can belong, stay safe and access resources. How she can thrive through cooperation. And that someone has to be the human. The onus is on you, but an existing canine co-dweller who knows the ropes can certainly function as a great helper.
  • The Dog Nanny

Here’s How to Pick the Right Dog For Your Family

DDB Puppies Log

 

You’ve determined the source from which you want to acquire your next dog, or at least identified which sources are the most likely candidates for you. The next question is how. How do you decide which dog is the right one?

Let’s assume the family has come to agreement about breed, or at least variables like size and type. If you’re purchasing a pup from a responsible breeder, she will guide you in selecting the best pup for your circumstances and dog-owning goals. If you want to show or compete, she’ll have a good idea which of her pups are best suited for that. If you want a family companion, she’ll identify which pups in the litter are best suited for that role.

On the other hand, if she thinks your situation is totally unsuited for her breed – an active Border Collie or vocal Sheltie in a small apartment – she’ll tell you that too, and then decline to sell you a puppy. Take her advice to heart, rethink your adoption choice, and don’t just go get a puppy of the same breed from a less responsible source.

If you’re adopting from a good shelter or rescue, they will already have performed behavior assessments on your pool of prospective adoption choices, and will help you make an educated selection. If you’re doing a private adoption or looking to a group that doesn’t assess, you’ll want to do your own assessment to explore a few behaviors before you adopt. Ideally, you will share your home with your new dog for the next 10 or more years, so make sure he’s the dog you really, really want, not one you just felt really sorry for at the shelter.

If you are a novice dog owner, we recommend taking along a more knowledgeable friend, or a behavior/training professional who offers pet selection services, to help you with your decision. If you are reasonably knowledgeable about dogs and dog behavior, you should be able to determine at least some basic important qualities about your prospective adoptee on your own.

Things to look for include:

Does the dog happily approach to greet you? A fearful dog is probably not well-socialized, and it will take a lot of work (behavior modification) to help him become “normal.” Love is not enough! Unless you are very skilled in training and behavior and ready to commit to a significant behavior modification program, we suggest you resist the temptation to rescue a shy dog, and instead adopt a friendly one. Friendly dogs need homes, too!

Does the dog play well? He may or may not play with toys (some dogs need to be taught how to play with toys), but will he follow you and romp a little with you? Does he get too aroused while playing, mouthing you, jumping on you, and unwilling to calm down when you’re ready to stop? Does he have a playful world view, or does he seem very serious? Again, a playful dog will be easier to train and bond with; a serious one may be more challenging to motivate and interact with.

Is he easily aroused? Most pups bite some, as they explore their world with their mouths. But adolescent dogs and adults should have learned that putting teeth on humans isn’t acceptable behavior. If the dog in question gets over-aroused easily, to the point of hard biting, non-stop biting, biting clothes, or growling, snapping, and snarling, he’s a good one to avoid.

If the dog will take treats, can you get him to sit? Put the treat right at the end of his nose, and slowly move it back over his head. If he jumps up to get it, whisk it out of sight for a second, then try again. When he sits, say “Yes!” and feed him a bit of the treat, then try again. If he starts offering sits for your treat after a few repetitions, you have a solid-gold winner. If it’s difficult to get him to sit, and/or he doesn’t seem to get the idea after several repetitions, he’ll be a more challenging dog to train.

Try holding him close and looking at his teeth a few times in a row, then (carefully!) hugging him. If he resists restraint and becomes aroused, pulling away from you, perhaps even using his teeth, he probably won’t be a warm, cuddly dog – which is fine if that’s not what you want. Probably not a good choice for kids, though, who tend to want a lot of physical contact with their canine pals.

Speaking of kids, the dog will need to meet any human youngsters in your immediate family, and should absolutely adore them. Any reluctance on the dog’s part to engage with the kids should rule him out as an adoption prospect. Dogs who live with kids need to love them, not just tolerate them. You should also introduce your adoption prospect to any dogs you currently own before making a final commitment to adopt. Again, ideally you’ll see joyful acceptance on both sides of the canine equation. Anything less is a sign that behavior work might be necessary to keep peace in the pack.

The Dog Nanny

Bonding with Your Puppy

DDB Hug

When a puppy is born, it knows nothing of the world around it. However, it knows enough to stay close to its mom and her milk bar. The only important task for the pup during the neonatal period is to maintain a degree of physiological balance. Nursing and sleeping are about all the pup is capable of at this stage.

 

After a week or ten days of hanging around “the great one,” the pup’s eyes and ears open and it begins to process information about the world outside. Reflexes and mother’s care have brought the pup thus far, but increasingly, know-how, including the establishment of proper relationships with others, becomes necessary for continued success in life. The first and most important relationship a pup makes is with its mom.

 

If a pup is separated from its mom, she will retrieve it. If it cries, she will attend to it. If it is hungry she will feed it. The pup’s trust and reliance develop quickly as mom invariably finds a way of providing for the youngster’s every need.

 

This mutual interaction brings satisfaction and relaxation to both the mother dog and puppy. A strong bond develops and the pup no doubt feels at one with its parent. For pups, mistrust of unfamiliar individuals begins to develop around 8-10 weeks of life and is a reflection of the pup’s strong bond with its canine family.

 

The original bond a pup has with its mom is the most important one it will ever have. If, when the pup cries, its mom routinely responds, it will develop confidence. If she grooms it regularly, its nervous system will positively sprout. If she’s always right there when the pup turns around for assurance, it learns trust. Well-tended pups have higher (what might be called) self-esteem, are smarter, and seem to regulate their emotions better. A “functional” pup – one that can make its own way in the world – is the end result.

 

Over time, a pup’s relationship with their mom progresses from one of hopeless devotion to a more voluntary affair. Their association becomes more like an enjoyable friendship between two individuals who seek each other’s company for the pleasure it brings. Somewhere along the development road, usually between 3 and 6 weeks of age, pups develop relationships with their siblings and begin to learn social etiquette from their playful interactions.

 

But an interpersonal cataclysm lies in waiting for most young pups. At the relatively tender age of 8 weeks, most pups are adopted by well-meaning humans, who try their best to make the pup’s transition from it mom and littermates as painless as possible. But strangers are no substitute for the pup’s own family. Some early separation distress is almost inevitable and will be witnessed by the pup’s new family as whimpering and whining, especially at night. Ill-informed friends advise, “Let the puppy cry. He’s got to learn. You don’t want to make a rod for your back, do you?” Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

At this stage, you (the parent stand-in) must meet all the pup’s demands, just as its mom did. This way, you keep the pup on the right track of intellectual and social development. One of the great spins-offs is that the pup will re-attach to you, its new great provider, and will turn out every bit as confident and self-sufficient as its real mom would have liked.

 

A researcher at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine set out to explore the nature of the human-animal bond between young pups and their new human caregivers. A child psychologist by profession, this researcher used a modification of the “strange situation” (SS) test employed in child psychology to plumb the depths of the bond. The setup was as follows:

 

Young pups and their owners were introduced to a novel environment. The environment was enriched with toys and food.

After a set time, owners were asked to leave the room for a prescribed time.

Pups’ reactions were monitored.

Owners were then asked to return to the room.

Pups’ reactions to their owners’ returns were monitored.

Three categories of puppy responses were noted to the SS test.

  1. The pup willingly left its owner’s side to explore and entertain itself with the toys lying around. When the owner left, it hardly paid any attention, remaining absorbed in its activities. When the owner returned, the pup did not pay much attention to them.

 

  1. The pup hesitated before leaving the owner’s side but eventually played with the toys. When the owner left the room, the pup ran to the door to follow and stared at the door for a short time before resuming play. When the owner returned the pup greeted its owner enthusiastically before returning to play.

 

  1. The pup never left the owner’s side either to explore the novel environment or play with the toys. It acted distraughtly and whined or whimpered when its owner left the room. The greeting on the owner’s return was exuberant.

 

The first category of response (1) indicated that the puppy had not developed a proper bond with the new owner (under attachment).

The second category of response (2) indicated that the pup had a healthy bond with the new owner (normal attachment).

The third category of response (3) indicated that the pup was overly dependant on the owner and foreshadowed future separation distress.

 

Pups in response category (1) had not developed a bond with their owner because the owners had not spent enough quality time with the pups.

Owners of pups in response category (2) had most likely played their cards just right, by paying their pup attention when attention was due, providing the requisite social experiences, and protecting them from lengthy periods of time alone.

Owners of pups in response category (3) likely overindulged their pups when they were around but, for whatever reason, had left them unattended for overly long periods, either at night or when they went to work. This “emotional roller coaster” experience seems to set the stage for separation anxiety and general lack of confidence.

 

Imprinting, an elemental form of bonding, occurs most readily during a sensitive period of development. If the time and circumstances of an initial introduction of animals is appropriately staged, it is quite literally possible to have a lion lie down with a lamb. With this in mind, it’s almost child’s play to have a dog bond with a cat – subsequently learning to be accepting of cats in general.

All you have to do is arrange for benign introductions to occur during the sensitive period of development. The sensitive period for such learning to occur in dogs is between 3 – 12 weeks of age. During this time period, owners can engineer all kinds of useful friendships between animals of the same or different species.

 

As many owners already know, dogs don’t just bond to their moms or to their human owners. They can also bond with other dogs. So powerful can such bonds be between one individual and another that they may show separation anxiety or frank depression if separated.

This is not a bad arrangement until longterm separation through illness or death becomes inevitable. In such cases, dogs must be trained to develop new bonds with either other dogs (a new puppy, perhaps) or new human acquaintances. In severe cases, antidepressants may be needed to help such formerly bonded dogs around this sharp corner of life.

 

If all has not gone according to plan for a pup, by way of bonding experiences in early life, all is not lost. Many dysfunctional dogs who start out overly dependent on their human caregivers can be retrained to develop confidence in themselves, they can be trained to be independent i.e. to stand on their own four feet. It’s damage control, sure enough, but it works. Whatever people say, you can teach and old(er) dog new tricks, though it often takes considerably longer.

The Dog Nanny

Holiday Safety for your Dog

hurray before santa get here

The holidays are all about family, friends, fun and food – but sometimes it’s easy to forget about holiday safety for your dog. We all want our dogs to be part of the celebration, but there are some important guidelines to follow. Keep your dog safe this holiday season – no one wants their holiday celebration to end up at the veterinary emergency clinic!

No table scraps! Just because we humans like to indulge in the feast does not mean it is good for our dogs. Rich, fatty foods can seriously upset your dog’s stomach and even be toxic. Most dogs love food and especially yearn for “people food”. Dog experts have discouraged the feeding of table scraps to dogs for years because of the potentials for toxicity, obesity and general poor health. While healthy, well-balanced diets can be prepared for dogs using human food, it is essential to feed the right foods. Know what foods to avoid so you can prevent poisoning and keep your dog healthy. If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic food, seek veterinary attention immediately.

It is especially important to keep your dog away from the following dangerous foods:

Grapes and Raisins can cause irreversible damage to the kidneys, possible resulting in death.

  • Ingesting as few as 4-5 grapes or raisins can be poisonous to a 20 pound dog, though the exact toxic dose is not established.
  • Signs of toxicity include vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, abdominal pain, decreased urine production (possibly leading to lack of urine production), weakness and drunken gait.
  • Onset of signs typically occurs within 24 hours (though they can start just a few hours after consumption)
  • Your vet may start by inducing vomiting, or the stomach might be pumped (gastric lavage). Treatment involves aggressive supportive care – particularly fluid therapy and medications

Onions can cause a form of hemolytic anemia called Heinz body anemia, a condition that causes the destruction of red blood cells. Kidney damage may follow.

  • Toxicity may occur from similar foods such as garlic and chives.
  • It is not clear what quantity of onions is poisonous, but the effects can be cumulative. Poisoning can result from raw, cooked and dehydrated forms. Avoid feeding table scraps and any foods cooked with onions (including some baby foods). Check your ingredients!
  • Signs are secondary to anemia, such as pale gums, rapid heart rate, weakness and lethargy. Other signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody urine.
  • Treatment: blood transfusions and/or oxygen administration may be necessary, followed by specific fluid therapy.

 

Chocolate and cocoa contain a chemical called theobromide that can adversely affect the heart, lungs, kidney and central nervous system.

  • Pure baking chocolate is most toxic, while milk chocolate requires a higher quantity to cause harm. A 20 pound dog can be poisoned after consuming about 2 ounces of baking chocolate, but it would take nearly 20 ounces of milk chocolate to cause harm. Ingestion of cacao bean mulch can also be toxic.
  • Signs include excitement, tremors, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rate/rhythm, drunken gait, hyperthermia and coma.
  • Your vet may induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage. Treatment includes administration of activated charcoal and aggressive supportive care with fluid therapy and medications.
  • Caffeine is quite similar to the toxic chemical in chocolate. It can damage the heart, lungs, kidney and central nervous system.
  • Commons sources of toxicity include caffeine pills, coffee beans and coffee, large amounts of tea, and chocolate.
  • Signs typically begin with restlessness, hyperactivity and vomiting. These can be followed by panting, weakness, drunken gait increased heart rate, muscle tremors and convulsions.
  • Your vet may induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage. Treatment includes administration of activated charcoal and supportive care with fluid therapy and medications

 

Macadamia nuts, while generally not considered fatal, can cause your dog to experience severe illness.

  • The actually toxin is not know, nor is the mechanism of toxicity.
  • Ingestion of just a handful of nuts can cause adverse effects in any dog.
  • Signs include vomiting, weakness, depression, drunken gait, joint/muscle pain, and joint swelling.
  • Onset of signs typically occurs within 6-24 hours.
  • Dogs are typically treated symptomatically and recover within 24-48 hours. In-hospital supportive care may be recommend for dogs that become very sick.
  • Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener most often found in chewing gum and candy. In dogs, it stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, resulting in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Xylitol ingestion can also cause severe liver damage.
  • As few as two pieces of gum can be hypoglycemia to a 20 pound dog. A pack of gum can cause liver damage.
  • Signs of toxicity can occur within 30-60 minutes and include weakness, drunken gait, collapse and seizures.
  • Your vet may induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage. The affected dog will likely need to be treated intravenously with dextrose (sugar) and monitored closely for 1-2 days. Many dogs improve with supportive care if treated early enough, though liver damage can be permanent.

Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol – a seriously toxic chemical compound that causes central nervous system and respiratory depression.

  • Uncooked yeast doughs also produce ethanol.
  • Even small amounts of ethanol can cause toxic effects.
  • Signs include sedation, depression, lethargy, weakness, drunken gait and hypothermia (low body temperature).
  • Ethanol is rapidly absorbed into the system, so it is important to seek medical attention quickly. It is not usually helpful to induce vomiting. Treatment includes aggressive supportive care with fluid therapy and medications.
  • Under controlled circumstances, alcohol is used by veterinarians as an antidote for antifreeze (ethylene glycol) poisoning.

 

Apple seeds, cherry pits, peach pits, and plum pits contain the toxin cyanide.

  • Signs of cyanide poisoning include vomiting, heavy breathing, apnea tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias, coma, skin irritation.
  • In some cases, antidotes are available. Other treatments include oxygen therapy, fluids and supportive care.
  • Also take note that the leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Also, the fat content is not healthy for dogs.

Moldy or rotten foods can cause many problems for your dog, some more serious than others. Any food that seems “past its prime” should be kept out reach. Be especially careful to keep your dog away from trash cans.

  • Botulism, often from garbage, can cause paralysis, slow heart rate, constipation, and urine retention. An antitoxin is effective only if poisoning is caught early enough.
  • Rotten fruit produces ethanol, causing the same effects associated with alcohol or dough ingestion.
  • Moldy foods contain toxins that may cause muscle tremors, convulsions and drunkenness.
  • Therapy depends on the toxin. Your vet may induce vomiting. Sometimes, treatment includes activated charcoal. Supportive care with fluids and medications is often necessary.

Certain foods, while not considered toxic, can still be unhealthy for your dog. Avoid any foods that are high in fat, sugar or sodium. These foods can contribute to indigestion, obesity, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and more. Dairy products may be difficult for dogs to digest. Corn cobs and bones can cause GI obstruction. Cooked bones may splinter and break easily, risking GI damage.

Like people, too much junk food can cause poor condition and decreased energy.

Remember that your dog is smaller than you and may be sensitive.

What seems like “just a bite” for you is more like a small meal for your dog.

If you want to feed homemade food, seek advice from your vet.

You may wish to meet with a nutritionist for diet recommendations.

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