Losing a Dog is Hard: Pet Loss Support for Dog Death

The loss of a close friend can be devastating, and pets can be among our dearest companions. A pet frequently provides unconditional love, emotional security, and loyalty. It can be difficult to understand dog death and even harder to grieve and eventually move on.

Routine activities with an animal companion often provide structure, fun, relaxation, and social contact in our daily lives. The death of a cherished pet can mean the loss of an entire lifestyle as well as a devoted companion. Lack of understanding and support from people around us can make this period even more difficult.

Depending on the nature of the relationship with the dog you’ve lost and on the effectiveness of the coping skills you’ve developed in your life, the time it takes to feel better after losing a dog can vary widely. What I tell people is that if after one year you feel no different from your worst emotional pain right after the loss of your dog, then you’re a good candidate for individual counseling.

Seek medical help if a few days after your loss you still feel so depressed or sad that you cannot handle even the basic tasks of your life. If you ever feel so hopeless as not to want to continue living without your dog, tell your doctor about these feelings as soon as possible.

it never just a dog

Dog Death: Handling the Loss of a Dog

Here are some tips to help you handle dog death.

Be prepared. In some instances, the death of a pet can be anticipated; the animal may be old or suffering from an extended illness. Other pet owners will be faced with a sudden loss, the result of an accident or short-term illness. Things that will need to be considered with a gravely ill or seriously injured animal include the pet’s quality of life, emotional and financial cost, and when, or if, euthanasia should be considered. It is best to have contemplated these difficult matters beforehand.

Accept and express your feelings. It is important to understand that grief is a personal experience and there are no right or wrong ways to express it. The most important part of healing is to acknowledge what you are feeling and somehow release it. Try writing your thoughts in a journal or talking with family and friends. A good long cry can help, too.

Perform rituals. Many people find comfort in rituals, like paying their final respects with a service or setting up a small memorial with photos and objects that had significance in their pet’s life, such as a collar, bowl, or toy. It is important to set aside time to think about the good times and remember to pay extra attention to surviving pets. They may need consolation during this difficult period too.

Seek support. You may be admonished by well-meaning friends saying, “He was only a dog.” Others may encourage you to “get another one,” as if your longtime companion could easily be replaced. This can make expression of your pain even harder. It is important to realize that you are not alone. Speaking with a counselor, joining a support group or participating in an Internet chat room can act as a wonderful resource for consolation and affirmation.

Feeling connected to other people or animals makes it easier to cope with dog death. The more emotionally isolated you are, the harder it can be to heal.

Pet loss support groups are available throughout the country. If you have specific questions about euthanasia or you would like more information about pet loss support groups, contact your veterinarian or check your local telephone directory or pet store.

One such group – Pet Loss Support Hotline at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine – was co-founded by Bonnie Mader. See the list of options below.

Deciding that you want to feel better is healthy. Some people think that feeling better will take them further away from the relationship they had with their pet. What might be helpful in cases like this is to learn to realize that recovery from grief doesn’t mean forgetting about your beloved dog.

Talking to someone can help you to deal with dog death.

lossing a dog

Understanding Dog Death: The Stages of Grief

Recognizing the stages of grief can give you landmarks on the path to resolution, and help you recognize that your feelings are normal. The term “task” is used rather than “stage” to avoid giving the impression that grief is something marked by well-defined milestones. The mourner should not feel that he or she must follow some pre-set list, each lasting a determined period of time.

Remember that the grieving process for each individual is as unique as each lost relationship. There is no set pattern or time period for recovery, but there are some general patterns.

Denial. Most people will experience a period of denial, refusing to believe the pet is dying or has died. Denial usually is strongest when there is little time for preparing, such as with an accident or short-term illness.

Bargaining. For pets facing imminent death, many people will try to make a deal with God, themselves, or even the pet, in a desperate attempt to deter fate.

Anger. In frustration, anger may be directed at anyone involved with the pet, including friends, family, veterinarians, and even the pet owner himself. Blame directed at oneself often can lead to guilt.

Guilt. Guilt is probably the most common emotion resulting from the death of a pet. As the pet’s primary caretaker, all decisions regarding care are the pet owner’s responsibility. When a pet dies, the owner often feels guilty about actions taken or not taken – even about things that happened before the pet became ill. The most attentive caretaker may feel he or she should have somehow done more. It is important to try not to second-guess the decisions you made, and to remember that you tried to act in your pet’s best interest.

Depression. Depression can indicate the start of acceptance. It is normal to withdraw and contemplate the meaning of the relationship in solitude. Deep and lasting despondency, however, requires professional help.

Acceptance. Now is the time to remember the good times. The daily reminders become a little less painful. You find you can start to think about the future.

Considering Another Dog After Losing a Dog

A new pet is just that – a new pet. He or she can never replace the pet you lost. If you decide to get another pet, you will be entering into an entirely new and different relationship. Be sure that you are psychologically, physically, and financially ready and willing to commit the time and energy needed to care for a new animal companion, without resentment or unrealistic expectations.

 

Pertinent Reading to Help You Cope with Dog Death and Loss

A Final Act of Caring, Mary and Herbert Montgomery, Montgomery Press, Minnesota 1993.

Caring for Older Cats and Dogs, Robert Anderson and Barbara Wrede, Williamson Publishing, Vermont 1990.

Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet, Moira Anderson, Peregrine Press, Colorado 1991. Chapter 5: “The Final Decision.”

When Your Pet Dies: How to Cope with Your Feelings, Jamie Quackenbush, Simon & Schuster, New York 1985, Chapter 3: “Your Reactions to Choosing Euthanasia.”

Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults & Children, Herbert Neiburg and Arlene Fischer, Harper & Row, New York 1982.

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How to Stop Poor Dog Behavior

Poor dog behavior is one of the most frustrating problems that veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and pet owners deal with. Because it is “behavior “ and not an underlying medical problem such as vomiting or diabetes, many pet owners think it will be “easy” to fix. However, it takes dedication to stop poor dog behavior. Some dogs have their owners trained and inadvertently encourage poor dog behavior.toy destroy

Understanding and correcting poor dog behavior is important because it is one of the most common reasons that people abandon their dogs or give them back to humane societies and shelters. Some studies suggest that by the age of one year, a large percentage of dogs have been in 5 to 6 homes before finding forever homes. Much of this relocation is due to poor dog behavior.

Let’s learn a few tips about understanding your dog, common causes of poor dog behavior, and tips on what you can do at home.

 

Understanding Your Dog

If you have a dog that behaves badly, it is easy to wonder why. It is important to remember that a dog is a pack animal. This is an important point because many behavior problems can be corrected by understanding this, respecting this, and ensuring you are the pack leader.

As you understand more about dog behavior, you will understand that in some situations training is critical. For some dogs this is easy and for others it is hard. Training your dog takes intentional effort. It can take days, weeks or even months of consistent time communicating with your dog in a way he understands to have a well-trained pooch.

Another important point is to understand that training is not the same thing as punishment. In fact, training is about responding to your dog in a way he understands and doesn’t reward his behavior. Sometimes attention is bad. For example, if a dog is barking and you keep yelling “bad dog”, that is attention. He doesn’t understand your words.

 

Most Common Poor Dog Behaviors

Below are common poor dog behavior problems and tips to help.

 

Inappropriate Chewing

Chewing is a natural behavior in curious puppies as they learn about and explore the world with their mouths. Chewing does have benefits to the teeth and gums. However when chewing is excessive, is on inappropriate objects, or leads to swallowing objects that are not digestible, it then becomes a problem. Some dogs chew when they are bored or stressed.

Veterinary behaviorists suggest that if you see your dog chewing on your favorite shoe, to immediately redirect his chewing to an appropriate item, like a durable Kong® toy or another chew toy. Just as it is critical to redirect his behavior, it is critical for you to praise his good behavior when chewing on the toy.

Ensure your dog has plenty of physical and mental stimulation with toys and playtime.

Begging at the Table

This may be an adorable behavior to some but annoying to others. Some people decline a dinner invitation at someone’s home because they have a dog that sits there begging and staring at you the entire meal. If you decide to fix this poor dog behavior, it is critical that everyone in the home is consistent with this training. It is confusing to a dog to have some members of the family feed him from the table and the other half yell at him.

One option to deal with begging behavior is to crate train your dog or feed your dog in a different room. You can also provide your dog with a food puzzle during dinnertime.

Digging in the Yard

Some dogs love to dig and find it to be great fun. Some of this behavior is based on instinct as they follow a scent, play, or release energy. However when digging is excessive and destroys your yard or flower garden, then it becomes a problem.

One way to deal with this behavior is when your dog is digging, redirect his digging activities to something you find appropriate. Play a game of fetch. Provide a treat toy. Go for a walk. You can also replace his inappropriate digging to a location you find acceptable such as a sandbox in your yard. Remember to reward good behavior when he is digging in the appropriate area.

Barking at Strangers

Dogs may bark at noises, doorbells other animals, or strangers. This can be acceptable in small doses but when it is excessive or you live in an area where everyone is a stranger, this can be downright annoying.

Your dog might bark at the doorbell because he is anxious or excited about visitors. Some dogs believe that their barking is what makes you open the door, so by barking they are trying to train you. Redirect your dog’s attention from the doorbell. Get your dog to sit quietly on the doormat and wait for you to open the door by rewarding this behavior with a treat.

 

Dogs on Furniture

Dogs may love the feeling of a comfy piece of furniture and while some pet parents encourage their dogs to be on the sofa, on the chair or sleep on the bad, other pet parents do not want this behavior in their dog. An important part of dealing with this behavior is to help your dog understand where you find it acceptable and where you do not.

Urine Marking

Urine marking can be a difficult behavior to tolerate. Dogs will urinate to mark territory and/or to communicate with other dogs. While this behavior is acceptable when they are outside, it is not tolerable in the house. The best thing to do is if/when you catch your dog marking urine in the house, firmly tell him “Eh,Eh” and take him outside directly. After you are outdoors and your dog urinates or marks, give him praise or a reward such as his favorite treat.

Compulsive Behavior

Compulsive behaviors in dogs can include chewing, digging in the yard, barking, whining, pacing, and/or tail-chasing just to name a few. Compulsive behaviors are repetitive sequences of behavior that are fairly consistent in their presentation. These behaviors do not serve any purpose and can be destructive.

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8 Simple Rules of Dog Park Etiquette

grayscale photo of person wearing coat walks on snow
Photo by Kylie Flores on Pexels.com

Dog parks offer a way for owners to give their dogs the social interaction with other dogs that they crave (and need), while providing a fun place to get some great off-leash exercise.

But, dogs don’t always get along, and owners don’t always observe basic etiquette and safety guidelines.

Don’t assume that your dog is ready to mix and mingle at a dog park. First, can he handle being around other dogs? Second, do you know how to keep him from biting or being bitten by another dog?

To ensure you and your dog enjoy your next outing safely, here are eight simple rules of dog park etiquette.

 

  1. Recognize the Danger Signs

Before letting your dog off the leash at a dog park, be sure you know how to distinguish friendly dog behavior from threatening behavior. When you notice play is escalating into aggression, you need to be ready to take your dog out of the situation.

  1. Leave the Treats and Toys at Home

Dogs can become aggressive when they see something they want, or if another dog is trying to take their toy or treat. Only take these items if you are sure your dog will be far away from other dogs. Some parks ban toys and treats because they always pose a risk when they are present, so make sure you know the rules of the park you are visiting and be extra careful.

  1. Blow Off Some Steam First

It may seem like a good idea to take your dog to the park after he’s been cooped up all day, but this may be asking for trouble. Many dog owners view the park as the place for exercise. It’s understandable to think this way, but don’t make this mistake. Take your dog for a walk or play in the yard for a few minutes before heading to the park.

Dogs who have not had recent exercise will arrive at the park with too much excess energy, which often results in aggressive behavior toward other dogs and humans. An overly-aggressive dog, although he may be “only playing,” can cause fights or be viewed as prey by larger dogs if he is running around with too much frantic energy.

  1. Scope Out the Situation

When going to a park for the first time, it’s best to leave your dog in the car for a brief moment and assess the park before going inside. If you’re not driving, find a place to tether your dog for a few moments. If there are dogs behaving badly or small children that may bother your pup, you may reconsider taking your dog to that park.

  1. Don’t Bully or Be Bullied

Pay close attention to your dog’s behavior and how other dogs are treating him. If another dog is being too rough, ask his owner to control him, then get your dog out of harm’s way. Make sure you are able to recognize when your own dog is being overly-aggressive, and be ready to take him away from other dogs.

If your dog lacks manners when meeting people and other animals, you might not want to take him to the dog park. If he has a tendency to charge up to, mount, or incessantly sniff other dogs, keep him away from the crowds.

  1. Lose the Hazardous Training Devices

Choke chains, harnesses, and prong collars should not be left on your dog when he’s playing in the park. Dogs nibble when they play, and the metal equipment can cause broken teeth or other injuries. Also, if a dog gets stuck in a harness, it can lead to a fight. Safe alternatives are breakaway nylon or leather collars.

  1. Don’t Bring Females in Heat, Unvaccinated Dogs, or Very Young Puppies

Make sure you recognize when your female dog is in heat, and don’t bring her to the dog park. This most often leads to fights among male dogs or aggression toward the female. Also, make sure your dogs are vaccinated so they don’t catch anything from other dogs. Puppies that are less than 12 weeks old should not go to dog parks either, because their immune systems are not strong enough to handle some of the germs circulating in the dog population.

  1. Be Careful With Small Dogs

A dog park can be a dangerous place for smaller dogs. Larger dogs sometimes see smaller ones as prey, especially if the little one is running around in a frantic prey-like manner. If a large dog is harassing your small one, don’t pick him up. This actually triggers a predator instinct in the large dog, and is likely to escalate the problem.

omg is that a new collar

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How and Why Dogs Play

Play, by definition, is fun. When play stops being fun it stops being play. Play is a pleasurable activity during which animals engage in behaviors that are not part of the immediate business of life, but rather are performed in mimicry, rehearsal or display. During play, dogs behave without real seriousness – running, jumping, chasing, mouthing, chewing, wrestling, biting, hiding and even humping. In play, all behaviors are a game to the players and are performed for fun. There is no hidden agenda.

shredding newspaper

Dogs have a unique gesture, the play bow, that signals “play mode.” The signal involves dogs going down on their elbows with their rear end elevated, tail raised and wagging. During such posturing, they have on their “play face,” with mouth open and ears pricked. They may bark to signal their wish to solicit another’s involvement, and may approach or withdraw from a potential play partner while pouncing and leaping about.

Play is usually, but not always, between two or more individuals. Sometimes dogs without partners will play by themselves. Solitary play is a rather sad event and may even have unwanted long-term repercussions.

 

Why Do Dogs Play?

It has been suggested that play is a necessary part of growing up for all young social animals and that without it they may not develop to their full potential. This does not appear to be the case, as animals deprived of play for reasons of sickness or ill health grow up to be behaviorally indistinguishable from their play-satiated peers. This is not to say that “players” may not develop more rapidly than their play-deprived peers, just that the end result often turns out to be more or less the same.

 

If play is not absolutely imperative for normal development to develop, what good is it? Well, play is a role-playing rehearsal for adult behaviors and as such will prepare a youngster for what lies ahead. During play, pups exercise their bodies and minds, making them healthier and smarter for it. In nature, this may give players the edge over their unrehearsed counterparts who may be still struggling to learn the Ps and Qs of canine etiquette or the rudiments of the chase. Note that different types of play unfold in parallel with sensitive periods of learning, so that play learning is most efficient. Mouthiness is first seen at 3 weeks of age, right after the transitional period. Then come play solicitation, play fighting, scruff holding, deference, and finally sexual play.

All these forms of play start in the socialization period between 3 and 6 weeks of age and they intensify as the pup approaches adolescence. Object play, chewing and chasing objects, occurs a little later, becoming most intense after about 16 to 20 weeks of age.

Types of Ways Dogs Play

Social Dog Play

Social skills are honed by playful interactions between individuals. One pup may jump on another pup, pin him, and then mouth him around the head and neck. If the pressure of the pup’s bite exceeds tolerable limits, the temporary underdog will roll over, yelp or run away. Both parties learn an important lesson. The biter learns to inhibit his bite if he wishes the fun to continue, and the pup that is bitten learns that deference or escape will cause the unpleasant experience to come to an end. Of course, sudden role reversal is also a feature of play, with provisional subordinates suddenly becoming pursuers and “attackers.” A happy medium is reached when truly dominant dogs learn their gift for mastery, and subordinates learn how to avoid or deter unpleasant exchanges. This dynamic may explain why dominant dogs are less successful than their subordinates in soliciting play. Aloof pups that don’t play much, and orphaned pups, often grow up to be socially inappropriate. In repelling borders, they may send a message that is too profound, failing to inhibit their bite – and they may not be able to deliver convincing messages of deference.

Sexual Dog Play

This mostly takes the form of mounting, clasping and pelvic thrusting (“humping”). The lack of seriousness is indicated by the somewhat haphazard orientation of this behavior, initially. Male and female pups are equally likely to be targeted, or in their absence, peoples’ legs and cushions may have to suffice. Dogs that have had no humping experience will not be as immediately successful in mating as previously rehearsed counterparts. Also, dogs without playmates may imprint on inanimate objects or human appendages as substrates for humping behavior, and become an embarrassment to own if not neutered. In addition, the relationship between humping and dominance must be born in mind if the correct human-companion animal relationship is to be preserved.

 Oral Dog Play

Young puppies have a biological need to mouth and chew malleable objects. It seems to give them almost undue pleasure. Unlike social and sexual play, this type of play does not require a partner, though socially-testing tug-of-war games sometimes evolve as a spin off. Of course, by teething time, at around 6 to 8 months of age, object chewing becomes an extremely useful adjuvant to assist with tooth loosening and dental eruption, and may even provide some relief from gingival discomfort.

Predatory Dog Play

Chasing moving objects is a sure way of fine-tuning predatory skills. Ball chasing, stick chasing, and leaf chasing, are all ways in which this play form is expressed. With appropriate opportunity and guidance, pups will learn the ins and outs of the chase – how to accelerate, turn on a dime, brake suddenly, and how to pounce with accuracy and alacrity. If deprived of play predatory opportunities, dogs may resort to vacuum chasing of imaginary creatures, may pace, circle, or chase their own tails. This is a sad state of affairs.

Playtime as Dogs Age

In many species, like wolves, play is pretty much restricted to juveniles and adolescents. Adults do not normally have the time or energy to waste in such trivial pursuits. Domestic dogs, however, seem to be enduringly suspended in a juvenile frame of mind. Thus play is not something they outgrow but rather an activity they keenly pursue throughout their lives. Unhealthy and unhappy dogs do not play, so play serves as a barometer of well being, indicating that a dog is well fed, in good health, and content. Dogs, like humans, do not play when they’re sad or distressed. Dogs that do not seem to enjoy playing should be carefully scrutinized to make sure all is well in their lives.

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Pot for Pets

It’s no secret that dogs share many of the same health problems as people, including anxiety, arthritis, epilepsy, and even dementia. These parallel health concerns beg the question: if the conditions are the same, can the treatment be the same as well?

Medical marijuana has become increasingly popular in recent years for the treatment of both physical and mental diseases and disorders among children and adults. With the rise of medical marijuana use, as well as legalized marijuana for recreational use, specialty cannabis shops are actively looking to break into new markets. Among these? Cannabis for animals.

Lost ball in cana

What is it?

Cannabis products manufactured for pets are often made from industrial hemp, a strain of cannabis cultivated for non-drug use. While both types of the cannabis plant, marijuana and hemp, contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), hemp plants produce more CBD than THC, and vice versa. THC in marijuana is the element responsible for producing the stereotypical psychedelic effect or “high” that is in fact toxic to pets if ingested in large amounts. The CBD and THC levels in hemp do not produce this effect and have several well-documented biological outcomes, which makes hemp the prime candidate for medicinal use in both humans and dogs.

 

How does it work?

Like humans, animals have cannabinoid receptors that act as pathways for the plant’s effects. There are multiple methods of administration, including edibles, oils or capsules. The ideal method for each individual depends on factors such as the size of the dog, reason for use, and desirable dosage. Observation has shown that cannabis, when administrated to pets, has helped with pain relief,  reduced vomiting and nausea, aided with sleep, improved skin conditions,  inhibited cell growth in cancer cells, helped relieve noise phobia, and increased appetite, among many other positive effects.

 

Cannabis vs. prescription drugs

In most cases, veterinarians will most likely recommend conventional medicine over hemp oils and cannabis treats. Still, there is plenty of research (and many professionals will agree) that indicates giving your dog some pot may produce fewer side effects than “manmade” drugs, lessening the chances of fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting and even liver damage.

“Just as with people, pets’ needs can be varied, and cannabis has the ability to treat several conditions with the same powerful yet gentle medicine,” says Dori Dempster, Director of The Medical Cannabis Dispensary. “One of our pet members was sent home to die as there was nothing medically left to do except pain control.  The vet recommended our products as they ‘couldn’t hurt at this point’, and was surprised that the dog bounced back and gave two more years of joy to the owners.”

 

The controversy

While there is a great deal of evidence to support cannabis as an alternative treatment, further investigation is needed. Veterinarians remain hesitant in offering advice to patients regarding this touchy subject, not only because of the lack of scientific study, but because of the increased risk of marijuana poisoning in pets. Lack of professional guidance, on the other hand, may be a major cause of such incorrect use. Needless to say, the field would certainly benefit from further research and education.

 

Cannabis, eh?

Though marijuana remains illegal in Canada, hemp is completely legal, and contains the same healthy benefits. The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, which was recently available only to members with medical cards on file, is now accessible to any adult with valid ID due to the hemp-based nature of their products, so there’s no need to worry about hiding your dog’s “stash”.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced his goal to have marijuana legalized country-wide. Will this increase the use of cannabis products for pets? Likely. Though it won’t affect the ingredients, it may make usage less taboo, leading to an increase in therapeutic value and (hopefully) a deeper examination of long-term health effects.

Sharing this article By: E. Watson (2017)

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What Is Your Dog Saying?

A Key to Canine Body Language

adorable animal canine cold

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.

close up photo of brownish labrador retriever puppy

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.

barking together

 

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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 littermates. 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.

Puppy Nipping and Chewing: How to Stop the Biting That Hurts

Nipping & Chewing

Puppy Nipping and Chewing: How to Stop the Biting That Hurts

Love that new puppy, but don’t love what she is doing to your sofa, sneakers, or fingers? Then it’s time to intervene. While nipping and chewing are natural behaviours that occur when a puppy is between two and six months of age, they can be stopped!

Puppies will teethe, just like human infants. Chewing and nipping is investigative behaviour. It is how they learn about their world…and it is completely normal. But it is important, to direct the puppy to chewing appropriate items.

Look for specially designed pet toys. Rubber toys that have an opening for food, such as Kong®, can keep a puppy happily occupied for a long time. Spay any and all none moveable on objects with a No Chew Spray (Bitter Apple works well), remember to SPRAY EVERY DAY.

upside down ddb

Dog Nanny Special Tip – Take any leftover Bones and place them in your crock pot with plain water, simmer over night, to get all that nice flavour out.  Soak a plain rope toy, in the now flavoured water, then put in a Ziploc bag and FREEZE.  Now you have a cold and crunchy toy your puppy will love to chew instead of you or your furniture.

Beware of items that may hide a choking danger. Don’t offer your pup anything with a squeaker that can be ripped out and swallowed.

Examine toys regularly for tears, breakage, or stuffing leaks.

Rotate toys. Puppies love novelty. Different items will help make playtime special.

As you would with a baby, supervise your puppy at all times.  If you can’t be with your dog, protect her in an exercise pen or crate. Puppy-proof your home.”

Put away items that you don’t want chewed or that could be harmful.

Install a safety lock on the cabinet under the kitchen sink.

Keep human snacks and candy out of reach. Remember: Chocolate is toxic to dogs.

Use Bitter Apple / Bitter Yuck / Fooey (brand names), sprays on objects you cannot put away.  Remember these sprays must be applied Daily, so that the object ALWAYS tastes bad.

 

When it’s more than play

Puppy biting and chewing are generally not aggressive. However, it is important to be aware that some puppies can be aggressive. If you have a puppy that seems deadly serious or is snarly or if you are afraid of the puppy, it is important to learn the reason. Videotape that behaviour or have The Dog Nanny make a personal house call to view & investigate the behaviour and it’s cause. If you are concerned about it, there may be a reason to be concerned.”

Puppies should remain with their litter until seven or eight weeks of age to learn how to communicate with other dogs. When they rough and tumble, they learn that they will have fun if they bite gently.

Reinforce positive play

To teach the puppy appropriate play behaviour, “hard biting should elicit a correction sound from a human companion, sending the message that this behaviour is unacceptable. Stop interacting with the puppy for a few seconds. You have removed the rewards (you and playing), and you are teaching bite inhibition.” This is best done between two and four months of age. “Only ever allow teeth touching only pressure of a bite you permit and add a cue before yelping to teach a signal to the dog.

“The only biting you should allow is soft biting on bare hands or clothed body parts.

Other biting, such as the lure of a pants leg or shoelace, can be handled by distractions such as throwing a toy or a simple clap. “Don’t engage the dog verbally. It reinforces the negative behaviour.” “Reinforce only the positive behaviour.” OR simply ignore the behaviour, no re-action from you is not fun and puppy will learn to get your attention a different way.

It is important to remember that as much fun as a new puppy may be, children and puppies should NEVER be left together unsupervised. Work with children to teach them how to teach the dog to play correctly. Hide-and-seek is a terrific beginning. It introduces the concepts of the “come” command. Teach children not to roughhouse or wrestle. Like a human baby, puppies get overtired and over stimulated. They need time to rest and calm down.   Always provide you puppy/dog with a safe zone, such as his/her crate, where they can get away from bothersome children.  Ensure all children know when the dog goes to their safe zone, they are off limits.

“Control the game, control the dog.”

 

 

The Dog Nanny

Dog Depression: How to Spot it and Treat it

Depression is common in humans and dog depression may be just as common. How common is depression? According to Healthline, it is estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States suffer from depression. The CDC documents that approximately 9% of Americans report they are depressed at least occasionally, and 3.4% suffer from “major depression.” Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults have at least one major depressive episode in a given year. The definition of major depression in humans is “a mental health condition marked by an overwhelming feeling of sadness, isolation and despair that affects how a person thinks, feels and functions.

Dog depression may be just as common but is harder to recognize.

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How to Spot Signs of Dog Depression

Just as with people, every dog responds differently to stress. For example, a person that loses their job may become depressed while another person may see opportunity and be relieved or rejuvenated. One dog being rehomed may be withdrawn, less interactive, guarded, scared, nervous, aggressive, stop eating, or have a decreased appetite while another dog may be euphoric. Learn more about how to recognize depression in your dog.

What Causes Dog Depression

What causes depression in one dog can be entirely different than in another dog. Just as it is difficult to predict or generalize how people will respond to stress or what will make a person depressed, it is difficult to determine or predict what will make a dog depressed.

The most common things associated with dog depression are the following:

  • Illness. Dogs that are sick and don’t feel good may be depressed.
  • Loss of mobility. Just as illness can cause depression, loss of mobility can also cause depression in some dogs. For a previously active dog to not be able to run, play, walk, and exercise can really take an emotional toll on some dogs. This can be caused from a back injury, trauma such as a fracture, or from degenerative disease (arthritis) in older dogs.
  • Loss of routine. Some dogs can become very depressed from a change in their routine. This can occur from when the kids go back to school, an owner loses a job or takes on a new job, or a change in work hours that leads to disruption in the dog’s day-to-day rituals.
  • Loss of an owner or caregiver. A very common cause of depression in dogs is the loss of someone close to them. The loss can be death or from someone moving out or leaving the home. The death of an owner, a child leaving for college, or someone moving from a divorce can all create a profound sense of loss and void in a dog’s life.
  • Loss of a housemate. Just as the loss of a caregiver can impact dogs, so can the loss of another pet in the home. Most commonly the pet is another dog but could also be a cat or other species. When you think about it, if a dog’s routine is to see the other pet, eat with it, walk, play and they suddenly aren’t there, they can become depressed. It is important to note that a change in your dog’s behavior can be from their depression or can be them responding to your sadness. If you are mourning the loss of a dog and depressed yourselves, this can affect them.
  • Moving. Moving can be stressful for us but also for our dogs. They suddenly lose their territory and safety net. Usually, the move is a huge disruption in the routine and environment. Movers, moving boxes, packing, unpacking, etc. can all impact the daily walks and time spent with you. This can cause depression in some dogs.
  • Rehoming. A new home and family can be exciting to some dogs but depressing to others. They may miss something from their prior life or feel displaced. On top of that they are trying to understand the new owners, new rules in the house, new routine, getting new food, new bowls, and well…new everything, which can be stressful. Stress can cause depression.
  • New Pet or Person. Just as pet loss or human loss can cause depression, some dogs will become depressed when a new pet or person enters their life. This can impact their routine and day-to-day lifestyle. The new pet may take attention away from them.

What You Can Do for Dog Depression

Treatments for dog depression can be categorized into pharmacological (drug) treatments and nonpharmacological treatments.

The best recommendation to treat dog depression is to do the following:

  1. Figure out why. The best thing to do is to consider why your dog may be depressed. As you consider the possible cause, also consider what your dog’s life must be like on a day-to-day basis. Is there lots of stimulation? Playtime? Exercise? Attention? Or is it boring? Is he ignored? Even tied to a dog house or in a crate for hours?
  2. Optimize your dog’s life. Make sure your dog has a great routine consisting of plenty of exercise, daily walks, frequent opportunities to go to the bathroom, predictable meal schedules, belly rubs, and plenty of assurance that they are the best dog in the whole world. Here are some tips on how to help your dog.
  3. See your vet. Make sure your dog is healthy and that you are not mistaking symptoms of depression for symptoms of illness. They can seem similar and it can be hard to tell. Your vet may want to do a physical examination and run some routine blood work.
  4. Natural remedies. Some natural remedies that can help some dogs with depression include Bach flower, Ignatia, Spirit Essences Grouch
  5. Remedy, Green Hope Farm Grief, and Loss Remedy. Check with your veterinarian and see if they have a product that has worked well for them.
  6. Drugs. As a very last resort, you could work with your veterinarian to try pharmacological treatment for your dog’s depression. Most dogs respond to playtime, exercise, and quality time with you. To learn more about possible drug therapies.
  7. Give it time. It can take time for the treatments to work. Relax and enjoy being with your dog. Give it some time. Most times they will come around and return to their normal dog selves.

The Dog Nanny