Mental Health Issues in Dogs

Lost ball in cana

Mental health issues get a lot of attention in humans – but what about our pets?

It seems that we acknowledge more mental health problems in dogs and cats than ever before. The most common dog “mental health” problems are anxiety, hyperactivity and aggression.

These problems have been recently discussed in great detail at veterinary meeting and many treatments (including medications) have become available.

I’d like to share some information about mental health with you today.

Aggression in Dogs
Aggression in dogs is defined as a threatening or harmful behaviour directed toward another living creature. This includes snarling, growling, snapping, nipping, biting and lunging. Dogs that show such behaviour are not abnormal; they are merely exhibiting normal species-typical behaviour that is incompatible with human lifestyle (and safety). There are many reasons why a dog will act aggressively toward strangers or even his owner.

The first step, when attempting to find out why your dog is being aggressive, is to take him to your veterinarian. Some veterinarians will visit you at your home – but dogs tend to be more aggressive on “their” territory.

If there’s no medical cause for the aggression, your veterinarian may refer you to a behaviourist, who will then obtain a full behavioural history and recommend therapy.

Even if treatment appears to be successful, you should always be on guard. The frequency and severity of aggression may be reduced but, in most cases, aggression cannot be eliminated completely. You must weigh the risks of keeping an aggressive dog against the benefits. Remember, safety for yourself and people around you is the primary concern!

Diagnosis

In the course of a veterinary examination, your veterinarian will determine if there is a medical reason underlying your dog’s aggressiveness. For instance, a dog with neck pain may show aggression when pulled by the collar.

Once medical causes have been ruled out, your veterinarian will refer you to a behaviourist. At the behaviourist’s, you’ll be asked to answer many detailed questions regarding your dog’s behaviour. The session may last a couple of hours. An accurate description of your dog’s behaviour is necessary. Keeping a journal is helpful. You should note:

  • What elicits the aggression
  • How often it occurs
  • To whom it is directed
  • The specific behaviours
  • The dog’s postures at the time

    Videotaping your dog’s behaviour is helpful for the behaviourist, but don’t get hurt while making the video. Answers to the many questions asked can lead the behaviourist to establish the cause of the aggression, and then outline an individualized approach to its treatment. The behaviourist will also provide a professional opinion of the risk involved.

    Aggression is influenced by several factors, including: genetic predisposition, early experience, maturation, sex, age, size, hormonal status, physiological state and external stimuli. Behaviourists use a classification system based on patterns of behaviour and the circumstances in which they occur. This is done to determine the dog’s motivation and the cause of the behaviour. The classification is as follows:

  • Dominance-related aggression is one of the most common types of canine aggression that behaviourists treat. The aggressive acts are directed toward one or several family members or other household pets. Dogs are pack animals, and they relate to humans as members of their own species and pack members.
  • Territorial aggression is directed toward approaching animals or people outside of the pack in defence of a dog’s area (home, room or yard), owner or fellow pack member.
  • Inter-male aggression between adult males usually involves territorial or dominance disputes. Inter-female aggression occurs most frequently between adult females living in the same household.

    · Predatory aggression is directed toward anything that the dog considers prey, usually other species, but sometimes any quick-moving stimulus, like a car or bike.

  • Pain-induced aggression is caused by a person or animal that causes pain. It often occurs when a person attempts to touch a painful area or when injections are given.
  • Fear-induced aggression occurs when people or animals approach a fearful dog. This is common when the dog cannot escape, and is sometimes seen when an owner uses severe punishment. Active, unpredictable children may also stimulate this type of aggression.
  • Maternal aggression is directed toward anyone that approaches a bitch with puppies or in false pregnancy.
  • Redirected aggression occurs when a dog that is aggressively motivated redirects the aggression from the source to another. For example, a dog that is barking at the door may redirect his aggression onto an owner that is pulling him back. Dominant dogs often redirect onto subordinates.

    Treatment

    Treating aggressive behaviour may involve a combination of behaviour modification techniques (habituation, counterconditioning and desensitization), drug therapy, surgery (such as neutering/spaying), avoidance and management (such as leash or head halter). Each case is unique, and the success of treatment varies depending on the diagnosis and in accord with your capability, motivation and schedule.

    Even with successful treatment, however, there is no guarantee that the aggressive behaviour won’t return. In most cases, the frequency and severity of aggressive behaviour can be reduced but the aggressive behaviour cannot be eliminated completely. The best that may be hoped for is to reduce the probability of aggression. You must weigh the risks of keeping an aggressive dog against the benefits.

    Separation Anxiety

Dogs are social animals that form strong bonds with people, so it is not surprising that they may feel somewhat anxious when separated from their social group. Most dogs adapt well to the typical daily separation from their owners. Unfortunately, problems can arise when an overly dependent dog develops a dysfunctionally strong attachment to her owners. The dog with separation anxiety is distinguished by signs of distress when left alone and over-attachment when the owner is present.

Separation anxiety may be manifested as destruction of the owner’s property and other behaviours that may be harmful for the dog or annoying for people sharing the dog’s immediate environment.

It is important to realize that dogs with separation anxiety are not doing these things to get even with the owner for leaving, out of boredom, or due to lack of obedience training. These dogs are not being destructive out of “spite” or “anger.

” They are truly distressed when left behind.

Consider instead that the dog’s dependence on the owner is so great that she becomes anxious when the owner leaves. The dog must find an outlet for this anxiety, and her methods of doing so may cause considerable damage. Also consider that, no matter how flattering a dog’s constant attention to her owners may seem, it is not fair to the dog to allow her to be so stressed by the owner’s absence that she must resort to one of these unwanted behaviours to alleviate inner tension.

For some dogs, the anxiety associated with being left alone becomes evident to their owners soon after they join the household. In some cases, dogs may be genetically predisposed to anxiety but inappropriate or insufficient socialization experiences during the juvenile period is the most likely cause. For some dogs, no initiating trigger can be identified. Symptoms of separation anxiety may develop gradually over time or may appear in full-blown form the first time they are left alone.

The onset of separation anxiety sometimes occurs after the dog is exposed to an experience that disrupts its social bond. This can occur when owners board the dog for vacation or change their work schedule. It may also occur when a household member leaves or dies, or when the dog is relocated to a new house or household.

Overly indulgent owners may promote separation distress in predisposed dogs. Owners of dogs that show separation distress are often nurturing, empathetic people who indulge their dog. They allow the dog to follow them around the house and encourage the exuberant welcome the dog gives them when they return home. Somewhat less-nurturing (but by no means neglectful) owners may help instill independence in the dog thus circumventing the worst throes of the problem and permitting its gradual resolution.

Separation anxiety may be confused with other separation-related behaviour problems that occur in the owner’s absence. A lack of stimulation leads some dogs to engage in excessive and destructive “exploring,” barking and other nuisance behaviour. This type of problem does not necessarily indicate a dysfunctional bond with the owner.

Cause

It is widely held that dogs with a dysfunctional background (adopted from shelters, puppy mills, pet stores, dogs that have had multiple owners or traumatic handling early in life) are more prone to separation anxiety. Whether this is because these dogs were relinquished or abused, or whether the condition emerged after their abandonment, is not known for certain. Certainly, inadequate early socialization is a concern with puppy mill and pet store dogs, but not all dogs acquired from these facilities develop separation anxiety.

It also has been reported that mixed breed dogs appear to suffer from separation anxiety more commonly than purebred dogs. Since more mixed breed dogs are obtained from shelters than purebred dogs, this raises a question: Does exposure to a shelter environment predispose some dogs to develop separation anxiety or are more mixed breed dogs relinquished to a shelter as a result of pre-existing separation related issues?

It is possible that some dogs are genetically predisposed to develop stronger than normal attachment to members of their social group. Logically, we would predict that these dogs would be more submissive in temperament. Such dogs may belong to breeds that have been genetically selected to form overly tight bonds with owners in order to perform a “job,” such as hunting or herding.

Dogs that develop separation anxiety are often young dogs. However, geriatric dogs may develop separation anxiety in response to physical discomfort accompanying old age. These dogs become less independent and more emotionally attached to the owners as a consequence of their infirmity.

Presentation

Unwanted behavioural signs of separation anxiety are only seen when the owner is absent, or when the dog is prevented from being close to the owner (at night, for instance). Under such circumstances, a needy dog is in a high state of anxiety because she wants to be with her owner and is prevented from doing so. Dogs, like people, cannot stay in a high state of anxiety for long, and must do something to relieve the tension.

To reduce the tension, dogs may engage in destructive behaviour, house soiling, and distress vocalization. Other signs may include a reduced activity level, depression, loss of appetite, ritualized pacing, aggression when the owner leaves (mouthing, growling, nipping, or body blocking), excessive grooming, diarrhea, vomiting, panting and salivation. Signs of over-attachment when the owner is home include excessive following behaviour, anxious behaviours associated with signals that the owner is preparing to depart, and exuberant greetings.

Excessive chewing, digging and scratching tends to occur in areas near doors and windows (“barrier frustration”). Damage in such areas is virtually diagnostic of separation anxiety. These areas represent exit routes for the dog as she attempts to reunite herself with the owner or, at least, to escape the loneliness. If the dog is confined to a crate, or her movements are restricted by a gate, destruction is usually centered around the crate door or the gate itself. The dog may seriously injure herself during these escape attempts. Attempts to free herself from barriers may result in broken nails or teeth, a bloody mouth, or more extensive injuries from tearing through glass and wood. Dogs may also destroy property that carries the owner’s scent, such as bedding, furniture, clothing, or shoes.

Barking, howling and whining are other common signs of separation anxiety. Distress vocalization and active seeking behaviour occur when many social animals are separated from their companions. Such distress vocalizations represent the dog’s attempt to reunite the social unit. Excessive vocalization may occur primarily at the time of the owner’s departure or may continue throughout the duration of the owner’s absence. Owners are often unaware that their dog is distressed by the departure and it is only when neighbours complain about the excessive barking or howling that they become aware that their dog has a separation problem.

Dogs with separation anxiety may become so distressed in their owners’ absence that they urinate or defecate in the house. When this occurs only in the owner’s absence, such “inappropriate” elimination is not indicative of a loss of house training but rather is a physiological response to the extreme distress the dog is experiencing from being alone. House soiling typically occurs within 30 minutes of the owner’s departure as the dog becomes more anxious.

Hyperactivity

With worldwide recognition of attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD) in children, many people are now wondering whether their overly boisterous, easily distractible dogs are suffering from a similar disorder.

The answer is probably not, but there are rare cases when the evidence does seem to support such a diagnosis. If your veterinarian tells you that hyperactivity in dogs is commonplace, he or she may be confusing ADHA with over-activity or hyper-reactivity, which are different. Some of the conditions that can be confused with hyperactivity include:

  • Normal Puppy Behaviour. Many young pups appear overly active, disobedient and uncontrollable. That’s because they are. Young pups take a while to learn voice commands and appropriate responses. In fact, they have so much energy and exuberance they can barely contain themselves during instructional sessions.
  • For this reason, educating young pups should be done in short 15-minute sessions with realistic expectations of the level of attention that can be achieved. Expect your puppy to “crash” after a bout of physical activity (or a rigorous training session).
  • Overactive Adult Dogs. Certain breeds, especially those developed for fieldwork, seem as if they’re in perpetual motion. In the typical domestic situation, such dogs may appear to have boundless energy even as they approach late middle age. These dogs are displaying high activity levels, a quality for which they were originally developed. Normal everyday life is just not enough for such highly tuned individuals. Owners often find that they have to engage in high energy, extra-curricular work like fly ball or agility training to help such dogs blow off excess steam.
  • Pseudo-hyperactivity. Some dogs of medium-to-high activity level may appear to be hyperactive or overactive if they don’t get enough physical or mental stimulation. This cabin fever-like situation arises in dogs that spend many hours confined, sometimes in crates or in single rooms of the house, while both “parents” work and later sleep. These dogs may behave as if they are trying to cram 24 hours of fun into a one- or two-hour window of time, which is close to the truth.

    For such dogs, reorganizing their lifestyle to provide appropriate exercise and entertainment can go a long way toward resolving this version of “hyperactivity.”

  • Highly Reactive Dogs. Certain breeds of dog are more reactive than others. Breeds that might have been considered reactive have changed somewhat since early days but, nonetheless, reactive dogs still abound. The reactive dog, as opposed to the hyperactive dog, is one that reacts to every miniscule event in his environment with extraordinary (and only slowly waning) bursts of energy. If an icicle falls, leaves blow, or footsteps are heard on the path, such dogs go practically berserk, careening around the house, leaping up on couches, barking wildly, flailing and jumping in extraordinary kinetic displays and never seems to slow down. For some of these dogs, the pseudo-over activity explanation may be part of the problem, too.
  • Attention-seeking Behaviour. Dogs can learn to behave in almost any conceivable way if they are rewarded for it by their owners. If you pay attention to a dog only when he is barking, jumping, or otherwise making a nuisance of himself, that’s the behaviour you will encourage. Basically, you are reinforcing unwanted behaviours. And remember, any attention is better than no attention for a needy dog – even when its in the form of scolding. The way to reverse learned “hyperactive” behaviour is to reverse the reward schedule – paying attention to your dog when he is being good and ignoring him when he is misbehaving. Sometimes a bridging stimulus, such as a duck-call, will help focus a dog’s attention prior to you taking no further notice of him. Employing this technique will expedite the results of attention-withdrawal.
  • ADHD. Dogs this condition must (by definition) show poor attention span and have high levels of motor activity despite an apparently appropriate environment and lifestyle. In the home setting and in the clinic, they are virtually in constant motion, jumping around and reacting to even the mildest environmental perturbation. The only time they’re quiet is when they’re asleep – and even then they may twitch a lot. The energy level of these dogs is practically breathtaking both for the dog and observer. If a dog with a provisional diagnosis of hyperactivity comes into a veterinarian’s consulting room and falls asleep on the floor, it does not have ADHD. A fairly easy way for a veterinarian to make a provisional diagnosis of hyperactivity is to see how he feels after the consultation. If he is glad to get out of the room – because the dog’s behaviour was so difficult to endure – then the dog may have hyperactivity. If a veterinarian finds he can tolerate the dog quite well, then the dog probably does not have the condition. Dogs with true hyperactivity may not be presented with that as the description of their behaviour. Instead, owners may report that the dog runs in circles, is always jumping around like a kangaroo, or barks incessantly. Aggression and pushy attention-seeking behaviour are other behaviours often associated with hyperactivity.

    The true test of ADHD is to give the dog a stimulant, say methylphenidate (Ritalin®) or D-amphetamine (Dexedrine®), under controlled clinical conditions, and to observe changes in heart rate, respiratory rate, and behaviour. For a dog with ADHD, all these parameters will be reduced.

    Long-term management of these patients is by appropriate management coupled with treatment with psychostimulants. Longer acting stimulants are useful because of the dog’s rapid metabolic rate and exceptional detoxification abilities. While Ritalin® and Dexedrine® are sometimes effective, newer drugs, like Adderall®, may prove even more effective.

    Hyperactivity (or ADHD), as we currently understand it, is a genetic condition. It is rare and can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian or a behaviourist. If your dog seems hyperactive, you should first look at lifestyle issues, his environment, management, and rewards. Most likely one or more of these factors will underlie the “hyperactive” behaviour – but if not, ADHD remains a remote possibility.

 

Grief

Because our pets cannot speak, we don’t really know what they are thinking. We must base our interpretations of their emotional state on their behaviour – what they do in certain situations and under specific circumstances.

When a person experiences the death of a human loved one, we may know they feel grief based on what they say. Very often, however, it is how they react, what they do that tells us they are suffering. They lose their focus, become listless and disoriented, don’t eat and become disinterested in what is happening around them. They may cry or go without sleep or they may sleep more.

An animal that is experiencing the loss of another animal companion may react similarly. “Some animals can actually become depressed when they lose a loved one,” says Monique D. Chretien, MSc, AHT, Animal behaviour consultant. “They show symptoms similar to humans such as loss of interest in their favourite activities and sleeping more than usual.

However, sometimes dogs hide and sleep more than usual when they are ill, so you should consult with your veterinarian before seeing a behaviourist if your dog exhibits symptoms such as these.”

Your dog may lose his appetite, become disoriented, or become more clingy. If the deceased pet was taken to a veterinarian to be euthanized, the grieving dog may sit at the window for days watching for her return. Animal behaviourists commonly call this emotional state, separation anxiety. On the surface, the pet’s behaviour is similar to that of a person experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted a Companion Animal Mourning Project in 1996. The study found that 46% of cats ate less than usual after the death of another cat companion. In some extreme cases, the cat actually starved to death. About 70% of cats meowed more than normal or meowed less. Study respondents indicated that surviving cats changed the quantity and location of sleep. More than half the surviving pets became more affectionate and clingy with their caregivers. Overall, the study revealed that 65% of cats exhibited four or more behavioural changes after losing a pet companion.

If your dog shows signs that she is grieving the loss of an animal or human family member, provide her with more attention and affection. “Try to take her mind off it by engaging her in a favourite activity,” says Chretien. If she enjoys human company, invite friends that she likes to visit and spend time with her. Use environmental enrichment techniques such as balls filled with treats to help keep her busy. Hide toys at her favourite spots for her to find during the day.

If your dog is too depressed over the loss, she may not respond to extra activity right away. The old saying, “Time heals all wounds,” has meaning for your dog, too. “Time is one thing that may help,” says Chretien.

If your dog is barking more or whining, distract her. Don’t give her treats to distract her or you might unintentionally reinforce the barking. “Giving attention during any behaviour will help to reinforce it so be sure you are not reinforcing a behaviour that you don’t like,” says Chretien. “Give attention at a time when your dog is engaging in behaviours that you do like, such as when she is resting quietly or
watching the birds. As the pain of the loss begins to subside, so should the vocalizing as long as it is related to the grieving process.”

You may also want to consult with your veterinarian regarding drug therapy to help decrease your dog’s anxiety, advises Chretien.

If you are thinking about adding another pet, wait until you and your surviving pet have adjusted to the loss. Forcing your dog to get to know a newcomer will only add stress to her already anxiety-ridden emotional state. And be patient. Your dog may miss her companion as much as you do.

The Dog Nanny

Is your dog bored? How can you tell?

Bored dogs are usually pretty easy to spot. They mope around the house and don’t seem to want to get up. Other times they pace frantically, panting and even drooling. Sometimes you can find them by following the trail of shredded papers, pillows, and shoes they leave in their wake, they jump at you, bark at you, whine/cry, Basically a Bored Dog Acts Out/Up.

Boredom can lead to a variety of problems such as inappropriate urination, destructive behaviours such as scratching, aggression, depression, lethargy, over-vocalization/crying, increased or decreased appetite, and sleeping more.

Dogs have a much better time of it these days. No longer do they have to while away hours in the doghouse outside; they are more often kept indoors and treated like family members. But, although we may have changed our attitude toward our pets, we have changed our lifestyles, too, and we are now less available.

Frequently both parents work away from home and the kids are at school. So, although dogs no longer have to battle the elements outside, they do have to contend with being home alone during the day, sometimes all day, with little to occupy their time. From the owner’s point of view, the home may be ideal: plush rugs, elegant furniture, and chic décor, but dogs do not appreciate such environmental refinement and would by far prefer to be socializing with people or other dogs, or chasing a blowing leaf outside. Like children, dogs have an agenda that is subtly different from that of adult humans, and have likes and dislikes that can be diametrically opposed.

Some “Type-B” personality dogs may nap during their owners’ absence, arising lazily with a yawn and stretch upon their return. Other more compulsive “Type-A” dogs may suffer extreme boredom and stress during their owners’ absence. The telltale signs are easy to see: the garbage can contents may be strewn across the floor, cupboard doors opened, food stores raided, paper or pillows shredded, and so on. While there is a well-known syndrome of separation anxiety, the bored dog scenario is distinct from separation anxiety and represents the sometimes ingenious attempts of a dog that is “bored out of his mind” to find something time-filling to do.

In attempting to distinguish between a dog with separation anxiety and one that is just bored you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you acquire your dog from a shelter or pound?
  • Has he had multiple owners?
  • Did you get him when he was over three months of age?
  • Is he a “Velcro dog”? (Does he follow you around constantly?)
  • Does he appear anxious as you prepare to depart?
  • Does he whine or bark after you have left?
  • Does he urinate or defecate ONLY in your absence?
  • Does he destroy things ONLY in your absence?
  • Does he refuse to eat when you are away?
  • Does he greet you over-exuberantly when you return?

    A score of five or more “yes” answers is highly suggestive of separation anxiety. If any doubt exists as to the precise cause of the dog’s unrest or agitation when you are away, a video recording will serve as the tiebreaker. Dogs with separation anxiety are visibly anxious, pacing, panting, and whining or barking, whereas dogs that are bored simply wander around searching for something to do. Also, they may get up and down frequently and act in an unsettled, restless way as if experiencing a dilemma (which they probably are).

    The key to managing an otherwise bored dog is “Environmental Enrichment” (the big E’s). Below is a list of measures that owners can employ to reduce their dog’s tedium during long stints home alone.

  1. Get a dog for your dog. Although getting a dog for your dog rarely works to improve separation anxiety, this can help your bored dog – as long as the two dogs get along. However, introducing an overly dominant, oppressive dog may have exactly the opposite effect. If in doubt, ask an expert to help you select the right dog for your dog and lean toward a younger individual and one of even temperament.

    2. Hire a dog walker. Most dogs really appreciate the lunchtime visits of a dog walker who provides a much welcome respite in the middle of an otherwise long day of nothing to do.

    3. Doggy day care. One better than a dog walker is doggy day care. The problem here is that sometimes it is expensive and that cheaper facility looks and smells dirty or the Daycare staff seem to lack those doggie communication skills, etc; Check out the day care center thoroughly as you would child day care for young children.

    4. Crates. Providing a dog with a crate gives him a room of his own, a place in which to hang out and to get away from it all. If you don’t provide a crate, most dogs will improvise, finding solitude under a table or bed or behind a couch. I think it is rarely, if ever, appropriate to shut a dog in his crate all day while you are away but an open crate is another matter.

    5. Food puzzles/sustained release food. Most people have developed the habit of feeding their dog before they leave in the morning. The dog wolfs down his food and then has nothing to do all day. It may be more appropriate to feed the dog as you leave and/or to arrange for the food to be discovered by the dog after you have left.

    6. Radio/TV. Many people already leave a radio or television on for their dog when they leave. The “white noise effect” does seem to have a soothing effect and thus may have some redeeming features. Think of it this way; any lilting/melodic sound (not “heavy metal”) or even just background gibberish is probably better than the sound of silence or a clock ticking on the mantelpiece. Most animals seem to prefer seeing images of other animals or nature programs.

    7. Room with a view. Some of the best visual enrichment that a “home alone dog” can enjoy is the “real TV” experience of observing the world outside through a window with a panoramic view.

    8. Transitional object. Some people report that leaving out an article of their apparel comforts their dog. The dog can then snuggle up to the item in their absence and be reminded of better times.

    9. Rotation of toys. Well-meaning owners leave toys out for their dog to play with, in their absence. This is a valuable enrichment strategy but will not work well unless the toys are interesting and novel. Toys that move or are good to chew are apparently the most fun and the way to keep them riveting is to rotate them so that they don’t lose their appeal.

    10. “A brain tired dog is a good dog.” You could also say, a happy dog. Exercise generates serotonin in the brain and thus has a calming and mood-stabilizing effect on man and beast. A dog that has had a good run for 20 to 30 minutes before the owner departs will be less anxious, more composed, and prepared for a little R & R in the form of a good nap.

    11. Dog door/fenced in yard (except perhaps in the big city). Another idea, if you live in the suburbs and have a reasonable-sized fenced in yard, is to fit a dog door to allow your dog to come and go at will.

    There are many ways that we can try and make our dogs’ lives more interesting and engaging during our absence. Some dogs will fare quite well with the application of just a few of the measures listed above. Nevertheless, the wisdom of getting a highly social pet like a dog must be considered if you know in advance that you will be required to be apart from that pet for many hours each day. It is preferable to choose the right time in your life to acquire a dog and the right breed for your lifestyle – a time when you are in a position to spend sufficient quality time with your pet and not wind up a latchkey parent. For those of you for whom this advice is too late, take heart, adopt the some of the big E’s, and look out for your old pal.

training

The Dog Nanny Classes

What’s The philosophy of natural dogmanship

The philosophy of natural dogmanship (natural dog/canine behavior).

What exactly does that mean?

Simply put, it is the art of learning how dogs/canines naturally behave amongst one another in order to communicate with the dog/canine in its own language.

It takes a lot of studying to fully understand and apply this concept as it requires full comprehension of how dogs/canine communicate, their social make-up, rules and policies of the Dog/Canine world.  (Marcia Murray-Stoof aka “The Dog Nanny” attended University to learn all about Canine Behvaiour).

Many people try to get their dogs to understand human communication and this is where the messages get mixed.  There are many things/ways we communicate as Humans the just do not translate into Dog/Canine.

Dogs are no less complicated than humans and while it is difficult and sometimes impossible to make a dog understand human, humans can learn the language of the dog if they open their minds to the idea. Marcia  teaches you, the basics in Dog/Canine and explains what we naturally do as humans that cause miss communication.

Because dogs are so closely bonded with the human species, and have learnt a great deal about how we communicate, most humans forget, or do not think about, their Dogs/Canine behaviour as natural instincts.

Dogs have a natural instinct to want structure, rules and boundaries. They want to know where they stand among their pack/family and believe it or not, they want to know the rules and they need consistency with those rules. It is actually more cruel to assume your dog is human, overlooking its natural wants and needs. All dog behavior issues stem from humans who are not practicing natural dogmanship/Canine Communication: not providing what the dog needs in its life, from exercise, both mental and physical, to the leadership it craves. What something means to a human may mean the total opposite to a dog. Dogs all around the world receive mixed signals from humans. Any dog that misbehaves is missing something in its life. A dog’s temperament is often a large portion of the owner’s ability to understand him and give him what he instinctually needs as a canine animal. There are no bad dogs…just uneducated owners. And yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. It’s NEVER too late to turn a dog’s behavior around.

Things to Consider for Dogs Riding in Cars

 

There’s nothing quite like seeing the joy a dog experiences when he gets to go for a ride in the car. But, for dogs riding in cars, there are safety and health issues you should be aware of before you put the car into drive.

The mere mention of the word “car” to your average canine, often sends him into paroxysms of joy. Many dogs quickly associate “car” with that wonderful sensation of being carried at great speeds, with the wind blowing through their hair.

But, there are things to consider for dogs riding in cars, such as ensuring that your dog is comfortable, calm, and, of course, safe.

Feeling Queasy
Just like you, dogs can get motion sickness from being in the car. Many people are aware of the nauseating signs of motion sickness and the effect it can have on a relaxing vacation. But, did you know that motion sickness could also affect your dog? A sick dog is not a happy traveling companion.

Motion sickness is an illness associated with motion — as in a car, a boat, or an airplane. Since vacations typically involve traveling, dogs prone to motion sickness don’t always enjoy the trek to the final destination.

The cause of motion sickness is stimulation of the vestibular apparatus located within the inner ear. When this apparatus is stimulated, your dog feels dizzy and nausea may develop. Usually, the signs of motion sickness stop when the vehicle stops moving. Dogs afflicted with motion sickness begin drooling, feel nauseated, and may even develop vomiting or diarrhea. If your dog is known to experience motion sickness that is not easily treated, you may want to reconsider bringing him along on vacation.
Buckle Up
When driving, a seat belt can be the thing that saves your life. This goes for dogs, too. Giving dogs free range in the car is unsafe and can be deadly. Traveling with your dog can be made safer and easier by the use of automotive restraints. Like you, your dog is safer when he is properly secured in the vehicle in the event of an accident or unexpected distraction.

We’ve all seen dogs riding in cars and trucks that had free range of the vehicle. This is a tremendous risk for injury. Dogs that sit in their owner’s laps or bounce from seat to seat can disrupt your field of vision or attention span. Hanging his head out of the window can cause serious eye injuries. A sudden stop with your dog in the back of an open vehicle can send him flying into traffic. Or he may make the decision to jump out at something he finds appealing with no warning.

Even dogs who are well behaved in the vehicle benefit from proper restraints. In the event of an accident, a restraint can keep your dog within your vehicle. Many dogs will run away if they are disoriented or injured. The last thing you want is to have to look for your scared or injured dog in unfamiliar surroundings. Check out your local pet supply store for dog safe automotive restraints.

Driving Dangers
A fun car ride with your dog can quickly turn dangerous if you’re not careful. Be aware of common dangers that can occur with your pooch in the car.

Dogs love to go for car rides. For many dogs, their favorite words are “bye-bye.” Some dogs jump, prance, smile, and bark with delight at the thought of a car ride. How many times have you seen dogs hanging out the car window? Or on the owners lap looking as happy as can be?

Yes, going for a ride in the car can be fun, but driving with dogs can also be very dangerous to both you and your dog. There has been several cases of owners that were in an accident — caused by their dog — in which they were injured, the car they hit had some severe injuries, and their dogs were killed.

There are some very common dangers and causes of injuries that can be prevented — and if you understand them, it will help keep you and your dog safe.

The First Ride
How should you transport your new puppy home in the car? This is probably one of the first questions you ask yourself after you have signed off on your new puppy. Should he be transported in a crate? Should he be allowed to gallivant around between the seats? Should he be on your lap? Is it better to have him in the front or back? What are the issues? What are we trying to achieve and what risks are we trying to avoid?

For starters, make sure the pup has had an opportunity to urinate and/or defecate before embarking on the ride. No solid food should be given to the pup for 2-3 hours prior to a short trip. It may be necessary to bring food for the pup on longer trips. If a pup is not nauseous or fearful, he may want to eat.

Have the pup ride in the rear seat of the car on one person’s lap (yes, you need two people to make this work). He should be rested on or wrapped in a familiar blanket and have at least one familiar toy to play with. Use a crate for older, confident, non crate-shy pups. Again, supply a familiar blanket and toy. Whatever you do, don’t allow the pup in the front seat and don’t allow him to perambulate freely. Quite apart from any possible injury to the pup, he may become a missile in the event of an accident.

Be Prepared
If your dog suffers an injury while you’re driving together, it’s important to be prepared. Emergencies can occur anytime and the best thing to do is to be ready for anything. Having a first-aid kit ready will help to reduce anxiety if an emergency does happen. Keep the kit readily available and periodically check to make sure all the items are up to date and present. A small plastic toolbox or fishing tackle box works well to hold all the necessary equipment.
On the outside of the box, write your name, address, and telephone number in case you lose it. Also include the telephone number of your veterinarian as well as the telephone number of a local veterinary emergency facility.

Once the emergency information is complete, it’s a good idea to have separate information sheets for each pet. Include a photo of each pet with the name, age, breed, sex, identification (micro chipping information), and any health problems. This can help if your pet is lost or if someone unfamiliar with your pet is needed to care for him.

The Dog Nanny Website

Properly Supervising Dogs

Properly Supervising Dogs

Trainers often say “Supervise your dog!” but there are many levels of supervision

I’ve always been neurotic about the safety of living beings in my care. This only increased when I became a professional trainer. I consider the care and safety of our children and animals to be of utmost importance – and good supervision is at the crux of this, especially in our fast-paced world, where we are all distracted by technology and are fantastic multi-taskers.

I believe that supervision is never more important than when observing our dogs in social settings, whether it is introducing new dogs, exercising our dogs at a dog park, bringing our dogs with us in the public domain, or just living in multi-dog households. When I say “supervision,” I am talking about adult management by someone who is knowledgeable about dog body language.

I would venture to say that many people think they are great at overseeing their dogs, but in reality, they don’t really have a firm grasp of what ideal supervision means. Further, many people lack information about their dogs’ body language – so, even if they are actually actively watching their dogs, if they can’t recognize their dogs’ stress signals, they won’t be able to help the dogs.

Let’s explore the difference between supervision that keeps all the members of a household safe and the kind that either does nothing or actually makes things less safe.

SAM_1476

Absent supervision.

It’s absolutely fine to leave multiple dogs together, unsupervised, when they are familiar with each other and have a (properly managed) history of peaceful interactions. But if you bring a new dog or puppy into the family, have a friend’s dog over for a play-date, or a family member stops by with their dog, leaving the dogs unsupervised can lead to one or both of them getting injured physically or emotionally traumatized.

In the absent-supervision scenario, a child might be distracted with an electronic device, while the family dog is happily chewing on a shoe – or perhaps there is no one around at all to notice that the sleeping dog is being bothered by the other dog.

 

Things can happen in an instant and in the end, it’s the dog who will suffer, by either being punished (or even just shunned) for chewing on something or for pestering the other dog into an altercation.

 

Properly Supervising Dogs

Passive supervision.

This is when we are in the room but not really paying attention or supervising at all. We are distracted with other things, and won’t necessarily notice right away that one dog is not happy with the interaction and showing signs of stress. Even if we are savvy about canine body language, if we aren’t even paying attention, we will miss the signs that an intervention is needed to help one (or both!) of the dogs stay safe.

If one dog wants to rest while the other is instigating play, even in a friendly way, the situation can go awry in minutes. Now imagine that the dog who is resting in the crate is also a little muscle-sore from a long play session that morning, or is an older dog with everyday pain from arthritis, and the younger dog keeps invading his resting space. Without supervision, the senior dog is left to his own devices to protect his space. This is a set-up for failure and an unecessary risk.

Reactive supervision.

We are all guilty of this at one time or another. We are present, we are watching, but we haven’t proactively managed the situation and something has happened. In this situation, we react out of fear.

Be aware that when we are reactive, we create a negative association for our dogs. Our stress makes our dogs stressed – and everyone’s behavior deteriorates under stress.

Say your dog is eating and your new puppy runs up to the dog happily; the pup is not yet aware that this could turn south in a second. Your son or daughter, who knows your older dog doesn’t like to be bothered when eating, sees what is about to happen and yells and runs to grab the puppy before he gets any closer.

Dogs often react to our reactions. When we get upset about something, it triggers our dogs to be on the alert that something is not right and they better be on the alert, too.

The adult dog may or may not have had a problem with the oncoming puppy; left to his own devices, he may have been about to display some great non-violent communication that would help teach the puppy some boundaries. But since we have reacted negatively to the puppy running up to him, the dog may well be sparked into perceiving that the puppy rushing him is a bad thing; given the reaction of the small human, he may feel he has to respond in a dramatic way, too.

Or say you are holding a smaller dog (or a cat, or baby) on your lap when your big dog comes rushing in to greet you enthusiastically. If you are surprised and not thinking ahead, but simply reacting, you may yell at the oncoming dog while whisking the smaller dog (or cat or baby) out of reach. Again, this sends a negative tone to the oncoming dog, who may, in turn, develop negative associations to the little one.

Proactive supervision.

This is getting close to the best type of supervision. We realize that in order to keep everyone in a household safe, we need to manage the environment and calmly head off potential problems well before unsafe interactions happen. This is crucial to the process of having dogs get along safely, while maintaining a positive association with us and each other.

While the adult is playing with or training one dog, the other dog – perhaps a less-experienced youngster, one with poorer impulse control, or a dog who is new to the household – is laying safely on the other side of a puppy gate. Taking turns playing and training dogs while you are still in the process of learning about the dogs is key to future safe interactions. Teaching each dog to be patient – making sure they each get a turn at individualized, reinforcing attention – will go a long way toward building a true bond with and between your dogs.

In the next image, an adult stands between the dogs while they are eating. This is an alert, proactive way to manage the situation that can be created if one dog finishes first and begins casting about for more food. With the adult watching over them and physically creating a barrier between them, both dogs feel more secure.

This level of supervision is really good – but don’t stop here! There’s an even higher level that will provide even greater rewards for all the members of your household.

Active supervision.

Active supervision is the best and highest level of management. These adults understand dog behavior and body language and are fully present and actively teaching and interacting with the dogs.

In the scenario discussed earlier – with the adult with a smaller dog in her lap – she hears or sees the excited dog rushing into the house. She is prepared with high-value rewards and ready to calmly and clearly ask the oncoming dog for a sit, then reward him with a treat or toy and warm praise when he does the requested behavior. Her body language and voice are calm and deliberate, showing no signs of reactivity or fear when the dog approaches.

Setting boundaries through teaching builds the dogs’ trust in the adult and helps foster calm and pleasant interactions between the dogs. Boundaries help dogs feel safe.

In the active supervision image, you see two adults teaching each dog to sit. The adults are enthusiastic and engaged, and this in turn helps the dogs to engage with them, building the dogs’ trust that the humans have created a safe environment for everyone.

Good Supervision Prevents Life or Death Situations

In case any of this seems over-the-top, you should be aware that the most common reason that dogs are relinquished to shelters is due to behavioral issues. It just makes sense to learn as much as you can about canine body language (especially stress signals) and proactive management of your dogs, and to practice calm, reward-based training on a daily basis. These things will reduce our dogs’ stress, increase their sense of security, and, critically, prevent tragic behavioral outcomes.

The Dog Nanny Website

Understanding Your Dog’s Nose

All dogs have noses – and they all know how to use them. Our awareness of our dog’s nose capabilities is nothing new. We humans have long taken advantage of our dogs’ scenting prowess in a variety of ways – hounds who track game, rescue dogs who search for missing persons, narcotics detection dogs who find hidden drugs, and much more. Recently, however, both science and the dog-training world have taken a new look at and developed a new respect for the dog’s olfactory abilities, and what putting them to use can do for your dog’s mental and behavioral health!

sniffer

Know this about Dog Noses

First, some basic biology. According to Alexandra Horowitz, Ph.D., psychology professor and head of Barnard College’s Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Columbia University in New York, while humans have about 5 million olfactory cells, dogs have between 200 million and 1 billion. Did you get that? Between 200 million and 1 billion. So even the dogs at the low end of that range have 1,000 times as many olfactory cells as we humans!

SNIFF OUT THESE RESOURCES

Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell by Alexandra Horowitz (Scribner, 2016)

“Science Says Nose Work is Good For Your Dog” by Linda P. Case

Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World by Cat Warren (Touchstone, 2013)

Missing Animal Response Network (Information on how to train your dog to find missing pets):

K9 Nose Work (Information on scent work classes and competition, and how to find trainers who teach K9 Nose Work):

Search and Rescue Dogs (provides certification, training, and education for search and rescue dog teams):

Dogs also have a “second nose” – the vomeronasal organ (also called Jacobson’s organ), which enhances the dog’s ability to detect and identify scent. These two factors combined help to explain why our dog’s sense of smell is so much better than our own.

Nosing Around

Today, dog noses are employed in a long list of activities that go far beyond hunting for game. The list is ever expanding, and we are just beginning to recognize the benefits the dogs themselves reap from being allowed and encouraged to use their super-noses.

The rapidly growing popularity of K9 Nose Work competition and titling has brought revelations to the dog-training world about the behavioral advantages of encouraging dogs to use their noses. A growing number of shelters and rescue groups are also realizing the benefits of allowing/encouraging their canine charges to engage in scenting activities to make their dogs more adoptable. Many previously fearful dogs have come out of their shells and gained confidence in leaps and bounds as a result of doing scent work – perhaps because it is so innately reinforcing to them, and they are so capable of success.

Most humans recognize how immensely success contributes to our self-confidence. The same is true of dogs (and other species). Even something as simple as the “Find it!” game (described on the next page) can do wonders to help a shy or fearful dog adjust to the scary world. If you are interested in enrolling your dog in K9 Nose Work classes and/or competition there are certified trainers all over the country who can help you; see “Sniff Out These Resources,” above.

Nose Jobs

Here are just some of the things you might find dog noses detecting these days in addition to hunting game, drugs, and lost persons:

  • Diabetic alert
  • Seizure alert
  • Cancer
  • Explosives
  • Bed bugs, fire ants, termites, red palm weevils
  • Missing pets
  • Truffles (yes, that expensive mushroom)
  • Invasive knapweed (Montana)
  • Invasive brown tree snakes (Guam)
  • Feces of endangered species
  • Illegal currency
  • Human cadavers
  • Dead birds on wind farms
  • Smuggled agricultural products
  • Illegal animal and plant exports/imports (ivory, etc.)
  • Counterfeit items
  • Environmental contaminants and toxic products

Scent and Cognition

Horowitz has been exploring the connection between a dog’s sense of smell and his cognition. A “sense of self” or self-recognition is one of the elements of cognition, and the long-held test for self-recognition has been an animal’s ability to recognize himself in a mirror. The way this is usually tested is to put a dot of colored paint on the face of the subject and hold up a mirror. If the subject touches the dot on his own forehead, the conclusion is that he realizes it’s him in the mirror – he has a sense of self. If he touches the dot on the reflection instead, he supposedly does not recognize himself.

As of 2015, only great apes (including humans), a single Asiatic elephant, dolphins, orcas, and the Eurasian magpie had passed this test. A wide range of species have reportedly failed the test, including several species of monkey, giant pandas, sea lions, and dogs.

Recognizing that dogs may have a stronger self-recognition through scent rather than sight, Horowitz devised a study to test this, by allowing them to smell the scent of their own urine and another dog’s urine. The results of her study seem to confirm her hypothesis. Her subject dogs spent more time sniffing another dog’s pee than their own, indicating a self-association with their own scent, hence a sense of self.

Scent as a Reinforcer: “Premack” It!

Switching from science back to practical (with a touch of science) if you are frustrated by your dog’s constant sniffing on walks, here are a couple of things to consider:

  • As humans we really rely on our sense of vision. Imagine if you were walking along a path with gorgeous vistas, beautiful scenery, and amazing wildlife, and your guide kept grabbing your hand and dragging you along every time you wanted to stop, take in the view, and maybe take some pictures. That’s how your dog feels.
  • When you take your dog for a walk, who is the walk for, anyway? If it’s so she has an enjoyable experience, consider her preferences, and let her stop and sniff!
  • You can use the Premack Principle to teach your dog to walk more willingly with you even when there are tempting scents present.

A Nose Game All Dogs Enjoy: Find It!

“Find it” is a ridiculously easy and delightful game that any dog can play, as well as a game you can play to change behavior in the presence of a fear- or arousal-causing stimulus, eventually changing your dog’s emotional response from frightened to happy.

Start with your dog in front of you, and handful of tasty treats behind your back. Say “Find it!” in a cheerful tone of voice and toss one treat at your feet. Click just before your dog eats it. (Tap your foot or point if necessary, to draw your dog’s attention to the treat.)

When he’s done eating the treat, say “Find it!” again, and toss a second treat at your feet. Click as he eats the treat. Repeat multiple times until your dog’s face lights up when he hears the “Find it!” cue and he orients to your feet in anticipation of the treat. (Use a different “search” cue if you want to toss treats farther away, so “Find it!” will always orient your dog to your feet.)

Now if a scary skateboarder or some other arousal-causing stimulus appears while you’re walking your dog around the block on his leash, play “Find it!” and keep the tossed treats close to you. Your dog will take his eyes off the scary thing and switch into happy-treat mode. You’ve changed his emotions by changing his behavior.

To employ the Premack Principle, you use a more likely/more desirable behavior as the reinforcer for a less likely/less desirable behavior. (Some people call this “Grandma’s Law”: You have to eat your vegetables before you can eat your dessert.)

You can click-and-treat your dog for walking nicely with you, but if you occasionally tell her to “Go sniff!” as the reinforcer for polite walking, you’ll score big points in her eyes. Do it frequently and you’ll likely end up with a much more willing walking partner who trots happily next to you in eager anticipation of the next “Go sniff!” cue.

The Bond

There is one more incredibly important benefit of encouraging your dog to use her nose: Your presence during her highly reinforcing, very enjoyable scent activities will enhance your relationship with her, and strengthen the bond that you already have. What’s not to like about that?

So, consider the various options for playing with your dog’s nose, from the very simple “Find It!” to finding lost pets and humans, and everything in-between, decide what you want to do, and start getting nosey. Your dog will love you for it!

Understanding Your Dog’s Nose

lab eat garden
Putting your dog’s nose to work is a fun and effective way to improve his behavior and responsiveness to you.
Most people are aware that dogs have far more olfactory cells in their noses than we humans do. Dogs also have a far larger area in the brain devoted to analyzing the things that they smell. It’s been estimated that this area in the dog’s brain is 40 times greater than ours. It makes sense, then, that employing the dog’s nose is a great way to engage his brain!
All dogs have noses – and they all know how to use them. Our awareness of our dog’s nose capabilities is nothing new. We humans have long taken advantage of our dogs’ scenting prowess in a variety of ways – hounds who track game, rescue dogs who search for missing persons, narcotics detection dogs who find hidden drugs, and much more. Recently, however, both science and the dog-training world have taken a new look at and developed a new respect for the dog’s olfactory abilities, and what putting them to use can do for your dog’s mental and behavioral health!

Know this about Dog Noses
First, some basic biology. According to Alexandra Horowitz, Ph.D., psychology professor and head of Barnard College’s Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Columbia University in New York, while humans have about 5 million olfactory cells, dogs have between 200 million and 1 billion. Did you get that? Between 200 million and 1 billion. So even the dogs at the low end of that range have 1,000 times as many olfactory cells as we humans!
SNIFF OUT THESE RESOURCES
“Science Says Nose Work is Good For Your Dog” by Linda P. Case tinyurl.com/Case-nose

Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World by Cat Warren (Touchstone, 2013)

Missing Animal Response Network (Information on how to train your dog to find missing pets): missinganimalresponse.com

K9 Nose Work (Information on scent work classes and competition, and how to find trainers who teach K9 Nose Work): k9nosework.com

Search and Rescue Dogs (provides certification, training, and education for search and rescue dog teams): sardogsus.org
Dogs also have a “second nose” – the vomeronasal organ (also called Jacobson’s organ), which enhances the dog’s ability to detect and identify scent. These two factors combined help to explain why our dog’s sense of smell is so much better than our own.
Nosing Around
Today, dog noses are employed in a long list of activities that go far beyond hunting for game. The list is ever expanding, and we are just beginning to recognize the benefits the dogs themselves reap from being allowed and encouraged to use their super-noses.

The rapidly growing popularity of K9 Nose Work competition and titling has brought revelations to the dog-training world about the behavioral advantages of encouraging dogs to use their noses. A growing number of shelters and rescue groups are also realizing the benefits of allowing/encouraging their canine charges to engage in scenting activities to make their dogs more adoptable. Many previously fearful dogs have come out of their shells and gained confidence in leaps and bounds as a result of doing scent work – perhaps because it is so innately reinforcing to them, and they are so capable of success.

Most humans recognize how immensely success contributes to our self-confidence. The same is true of dogs (and other species). Even something as simple as the “Find it!” game (described on the next page) can do wonders to help a shy or fearful dog adjust to the scary world. If you are interested in enrolling your dog in K9 Nose Work classes and/or competition there are certified trainers all over the country who can help you; see “Sniff Out These Resources,” above.
Nose Jobs
Here are just some of the things you might find dog noses detecting these days in addition to hunting game, drugs, and lost persons:
Diabetic alert
Seizure alert
Cancer
Explosives
Bed bugs, fire ants, termites, red palm weevils
Missing pets
Truffles (yes, that expensive mushroom)
Invasive knapweed (Montana)
Invasive brown tree snakes (Guam)
Feces of endangered species
Illegal currency
Human cadavers
Dead birds on wind farms
Smuggled agricultural products
Illegal animal and plant exports/imports (ivory, etc.)
Counterfeit items
Environmental contaminants and toxic products
Scent and Cognition
Horowitz has been exploring the connection between a dog’s sense of smell and his cognition. A “sense of self” or self-recognition is one of the elements of cognition, and the long-held test for self-recognition has been an animal’s ability to recognize himself in a mirror. The way this is usually tested is to put a dot of colored paint on the face of the subject and hold up a mirror. If the subject touches the dot on his own forehead, the conclusion is that he realizes it’s him in the mirror – he has a sense of self. If he touches the dot on the reflection instead, he supposedly does not recognize himself.

As of 2015, only great apes (including humans), a single Asiatic elephant, dolphins, orcas, and the Eurasian magpie had passed this test. A wide range of species have reportedly failed the test, including several species of monkey, giant pandas, sea lions, and dogs.

Recognizing that dogs may have a stronger self-recognition through scent rather than sight, Horowitz devised a study to test this, by allowing them to smell the scent of their own urine and another dog’s urine. The results of her study seem to confirm her hypothesis. Her subject dogs spent more time sniffing another dog’s pee than their own, indicating a self-association with their own scent, hence a sense of self.

Scent as a Reinforcer: “Premack” It!
Switching from science back to practical (with a touch of science) if you are frustrated by your dog’s constant sniffing on walks, here are a couple of things to consider:

As humans we really rely on our sense of vision. Imagine if you were walking along a path with gorgeous vistas, beautiful scenery, and amazing wildlife, and your guide kept grabbing your hand and dragging you along every time you wanted to stop, take in the view, and maybe take some pictures. That’s how your dog feels.
When you take your dog for a walk, who is the walk for, anyway? If it’s so she has an enjoyable experience, consider her preferences, and let her stop and sniff!
You can use the Premack Principle to teach your dog to walk more willingly with you even when there are tempting scents present.
A Nose Game All Dogs Enjoy: Find It!
“Find it” is a ridiculously easy and delightful game that any dog can play, as well as a game you can play to change behavior in the presence of a fear- or arousal-causing stimulus, eventually changing your dog’s emotional response from frightened to happy.

Start with your dog in front of you, and handful of tasty treats behind your back. Say “Find it!” in a cheerful tone of voice and toss one treat at your feet. Click just before your dog eats it. (Tap your foot or point if necessary, to draw your dog’s attention to the treat.)

When he’s done eating the treat, say “Find it!” again, and toss a second treat at your feet. Click as he eats the treat. Repeat multiple times until your dog’s face lights up when he hears the “Find it!” cue and he orients to your feet in anticipation of the treat. (Use a different “search” cue if you want to toss treats farther away, so “Find it!” will always orient your dog to your feet.)

Now if a scary skateboarder or some other arousal-causing stimulus appears while you’re walking your dog around the block on his leash, play “Find it!” and keep the tossed treats close to you. Your dog will take his eyes off the scary thing and switch into happy-treat mode. You’ve changed his emotions by changing his behavior.
To employ the Premack Principle, you use a more likely/more desirable behavior as the reinforcer for a less likely/less desirable behavior. (Some people call this “Grandma’s Law”: You have to eat your vegetables before you can eat your dessert.)
You can click-and-treat your dog for walking nicely with you, but if you occasionally tell her to “Go sniff!” as the reinforcer for polite walking, you’ll score big points in her eyes. Do it frequently and you’ll likely end up with a much more willing walking partner who trots happily next to you in eager anticipation of the next “Go sniff!” cue.

The Bond
There is one more incredibly important benefit of encouraging your dog to use her nose: Your presence during her highly reinforcing, very enjoyable scent activities will enhance your relationship with her, and strengthen the bond that you already have. What’s not to like about that?

So, consider the various options for playing with your dog’s nose, from the very simple “Find It!” to finding lost pets and humans, and everything in-between, decide what you want to do, and start getting nosey. Your dog will love you for it!

To learn to play “Nose Games” with your dog, read How to Teach Your Dog to Play “Nose Games”.

The Dog Nanny’s website

The Importance of Pet Water Safety During the Summer Months

Screenshot_20180530-210322

 

Many pets love the water and enjoy swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and much more. However, there are some important pet water hazards that are critical in understanding to protect your dog’s safety.

 

5 Pet Water Safety Dangers

There are several dangers associated with pets in the water that include drowning, poor water quality, toxins in the water, exposure to other animals in the water, and possible trauma from things in the water or on the beach that may not be visible.

 

  1. Drowning that ends in death can occur or a syndrome known as near-drowning. Drowning can occur when a dog falls through the ice and can’t get out, dogs that can’t swim, dogs that fall out of boats, dogs in pools that can’t leverage themselves out, dogs that accidentally fall into ponds or bodies of water, or dogs that are swept away by currents in streams or the ocean. Freak accidents can also happen around toilets, sinks, bathtubs and water dishes.

 

The hazard is different depending on if the water is clean, dirty, contaminated, infected, or even if the water is fresh or saltwater. Near-drowning events in saltwater occur in the ocean while freshwater near-drowning events can occur in lakes, ponds, swimming pools, as well as water sources in the home.

 

Near drowning is associated with water inhalation that can result in cessation of breathing. When water gets into the airway, damage to the lungs occurs resulting in the collapse of the airways (atelectasis) and pulmonary edema. In addition, the larynx can spasm and close the airway. Breathing can stop and death ensues.

 

The pets most commonly affected by drowning are those that are young, old, or debilitated. Even normal healthy pets can lose their strength quickly or be unable to swim. Learn more about Near Drowning in Dogs.

 

  1. Unhealthy water quality is common in dirty pools but more common in lakes and ponds. Some stagnant bodies of water can overgrow with molds or algae. A medical problem called blue-green algae toxicity can occur from the ingestion of the water that can happen during swimming. Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, grow and forms “blooms” that float and give the water a pea soup type color during the summer months. Some strains of the bacteria produce toxins that cause liver disease and neurologic symptoms.

 

Symptoms of blue-green algae toxicity causing liver damage in dogs includes vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool, weakness, lethargy, seizures, jaundice, coma and death.

Signs of blue-green algae toxicity that affects the nervous system includes drooling, muscle tremors, seizures, and paralysis.

There is no treatment for blue-green algae toxicity. Veterinary care is critical.

 

  1. Toxins in the water from fertilizers, bug killers, weed killers, and pesticides can seep into the water table from products spread on farm fields that run off into lakes, streams, creeks, ponds, and rivers. Signs of toxicity will depend on the underlying chemicals used. Dogs can ingest this water or lick the water off their paws causing anything from vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, liver failure, or neurological symptoms.

 

  1. Animals or parasites in the water can cause problems in dogs. Dogs can be exposed to snakes, alligators, crocodiles, sea lice, jellyfish, toxic frogs, or infected protozoan parasites such as Giardia that can lead to wounds, trauma, or infections.

 

  1. Trauma from things in the water or under the water that is not visible or on the beach are common pet water safety hazards. Underwater trash such as boards with nails from debris or broken docks can be underwater and cause lacerations or punctures. Washed up bottles, glass, and/or metal can easily cut paws in the water or on the beach.

 

Pet Water Safety Tips

Below are tips to help keep your dog safe when in or around the water.

The absolute best way to protect your dog is to ensure your dog is supervised the entire time he or she is in the water.

Fit your dog with a life vest. They make different styles of life vests for every shape and size of dog. If you place a life vest on your dog, stay with your dog so he or she is supervised just in case he or she gets caught on something.  Learn more about Swimming With Dogs Can Be Fun If You Are Being Safe.

Protect your pet from the swimming pool when unsupervised. This can mean fencing in your pool and blocking doors to keep your dog away from the pool.

Provide a pool exit for your dog and make sure your dog knows how to use it. The best way to keep your dog safe around the pool is to not allow access when you are not around. But just in case someone keeps the door open and your dog does access the pool and falls in, it is critical to ensure your dog can get out. A pool ladder or ramp made for dogs should be placed in any pool home with dogs.

Check the water temperature and ensure it is neither too hot nor too cold for your dog.

If your dog swims in ponds, monitor the pond for signs of algae bloom. If you have a pond on your property, consider having the water tested for bacteria or toxins.

Prevent your dog from drinking pool, pond, lake, or ocean water. Why You Should Keep Your Dog From Drinking Too Much Water.

Keep a life vest on your dog when boating. Ensure you have a dog-safe ramp to help your dog get out of the water if he jumps in and swims or falls in. Some dogs will excitedly jump in if they see a duck or something else in the water. Learn more about How to Ensure Safety When Boating With Dogs.

Keep your dog away from fishing bait and poles. Some dogs will step on or eat the bait which results in a hook in the paw or swallowing the hook. This can be a big problem. Learn more about How to Remove a Fishhook in Your Dog.

Dry your dog’s ears after swimming to prevent infections.

One option to provide your dog with safe access to water is to create a pool just for your dog.

We hope these tips help you know more about pet water safety.

The Dog Nanny Canine Training Academy

Dog Paw Cuts and Scrapes: How to Treat a Paw Injury

Five things to do when your dog injures his paw pad.

animals hide pain tips
Your dog’s paw pads act much like the soles of sneakers, protecting your dog’s foot and cushioning each step. Paw pads are tough, but they can still be cut by sharp objects or worn off if your dog runs hard on rough terrain. What should you do when your dog cuts or tears a pad?

1. Clean the wound.
Gently flush the wound with water or an antiseptic, such as diluted chlorhexidine solution. If there is obvious debris, such as rocks or glass, remove it carefully. Don’t force anything that is lodged deep into the foot.
2. Control bleeding.
Apply pressure to the wound to stop any bleeding. Use a clean towel and an ice pack if available to encourage blood-vessel constriction. If only the outer layer of the pad has been worn off, there may not be much bleeding, but deeper wounds and punctures can bleed heavily. The time it takes for bleeding to stop will vary with the severity of the wound.
3. Evaluate the damage.
Minor paw injuries can be managed at home, but more severe ones require veterinary attention. Uncontrolled bleeding is an emergency – if your dog’s foot continues to bleed after several minutes of pressure, call your veterinarian and head for the clinic. Deep or jagged cuts may require sutures for optimal healing. Your dog may need to be sedated for sufficient cleaning of the wound if there is persistent debris, such as little bits of gravel, and something that is firmly lodged in the foot will need to be surgically removed. Your dog may also need antibiotics to protect against infection. If you are at all unsure, err on the side of a vet visit – your veterinarian can give you peace of mind and can give your dog the care he needs.
4. Bandage.
Place nonstick gauze or a Telfa pad directly over the cut. If available, a dab of triple antibiotic ointment is a good idea to prevent infection. This can be secured with paper tape. Then wrap your dog’s foot using roll gauze, Vetrap, or an elastic bandage. The bandage should be snug enough to stay on, but also needs to be loose enough to allow for proper circulation to your dog’s foot. You should be able to slide two fingers under the bandage. To prevent the bandage from slipping off, wrap all the way up to and including the next joint on your dog’s leg: carpus or wrist in front, hock in back. You can also place more tape around the top of the bandage.
Keep the bandage dry. Moisture provides an entrance for bacteria to get through the bandage and into the wound. You can use a commercial bootie to protect the bandage when your dog goes outside or just tape a plastic bag over it. Most paw bandages need to be changed daily, especially if there is still bleeding or a discharge present.
For minor scrapes that look like a rug burn, a liquid bandage can be used to cover the exposed nerve endings without needing a full traditional bandage. Keep the foot elevated while the liquid bandage dries, and don’t let your dog lick it.
5. Allow time for healing.
Your dog’s paw will heal faster if it’s protected until fully healed. Keep him quiet, and prevent him from running or chewing at the bandage (this may require the use of an Elizabethan collar). Even after your dog’s pad has healed enough that it isn’t painful to touch, it will still be tender and vulnerable to reinjury. Avoid activities that could damage the healing pad, or use a bootie to protect the foot. Healing time will vary depending on the size of the cut.

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