When “Fine” Isn’t

Copied from another Blogger a good article to read.

spider gone

Socialization can go wrong when people don’t recognize a puppy’s signs of fear. Here’s what to look for and how to avoid problems.

“We don’t understand where this aggression came from,” the woman said, tears in her eyes. “We took her everywhere as a puppy like you’re supposed to do. She went with us to stores, to our kids’ practices, to friends’ houses. She was fine! But now she growls at people and other dogs, even ones she’s met before.”

The Shepherd mix, Chloe, was now 1 year old, and barking at me from across the room. She would approach, then retreat, growl, and flinch every time I moved.

“Tell me about those early socialization visits,” I said.

“We started right when we got her at 9 weeks,” she replied. “She was fine! She was so quiet. Everyone would compliment her on being so well behaved.”

I asked, “When you introduced her to new people, did she run right up to them, all wiggly? Trying to kiss them? When she met other dogs, was she the same? All curvy and bouncy?”

“Oh no,” she said, “She was a quiet puppy. We would just put her in laps and she’d fall asleep half the time. She wasn’t interested in other dogs. They’d approach her, and she’d just look away like they weren’t even there. But she never growled at them until recently.”

Bingo. With further questions, I learned that Chloe rarely initiated contact with people or other dogs as a puppy. This puppy hadn’t been fine. She had been shutting down. She wasn’t well-behaved. She was too frightened to move. Now that Chloe was an adolescent, she was more willing to protect herself by barking and trying to scare away the people and dogs who frightened her.

Socialization Is More Than Exposure
My client was not a bad dog owner. She knew that socialization was important. She just didn’t realize that done improperly, socialization can backfire. Proper socialization is ensuring that a puppy has a variety of experiences, all wonderful ones. The puppy gets to decide if the experience is wonderful or not. In Chloe’s case, she wasn’t given the chance to go up to people of her own accord, at her own pace. She was placed in people’s laps – in essence, put in the laps of monsters. They were probably all very nice people, but Chloe didn’t think so. Her association with people became worse. When other dogs approached her, she signaled she didn’t want any interaction by turning away. Chloe’s mom didn’t understand that Chloe was uncomfortable, so she didn’t intervene. Now Chloe thought dogs were scary, too.

I’ve seen enough of these cases over the years that I’ve started to call them “Sleepy Puppy Syndrome.”

There are degrees of sociability in dogs, but a normal, healthy, confident puppy will want to explore. She’ll be curvy and wiggly. She may jump up to try and reach faces, trying to kiss chins. She’ll sniff and explore her surroundings.

Signs Of Fear And Stress
A puppy can whine, cower, and try to hide when she is afraid, but sometimes she will act sleepy.

Yawning is a sign of stress. Avoidance is, too. When a puppy is faced with something obvious, like another dog in her face or a looming stranger, and she starts sniffing the ground nearby, scratching behind an ear and ignoring the situation completely, this is a puppy practicing denial.

Understanding these signals can help prevent fear from blossoming into aggression as the puppy gets older. Always bring treats with you when you take your puppy anywhere. Pair each new experience with yummy cookies. If your puppy will not take the treats, it can also be a sign that she is too afraid.

It took three lessons before Chloe would let me pet her. I waited patiently for Chloe to approach at her own pace, rewarding each brave step with a liver treat. With a behavior modification plan and a dedicated pet parent who now understood how to work with Chloe’s fear, Chloe gradually learned the world was not full of monsters. In time, she learned to be truly fine after all.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin

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Essential Oils for Dogs


insect repellents

Using essential oils with dogs can be an amazing natural way to help your pet, but it is important to go about it safely. Read on to see what oils I like to use for my pup…

Why? And How?

Itchy skin, upset tummy, bites, and other ailments your four-legged family member may encounter can be a soothed with essential oils. As with humans, these oils offer a great alternative to prescription medications and over-the-counter products that may contain harmful chemicals.

People-pleasing Lavender is a fetch for dogs, too. Its relaxing fragrance is known to reduce emotional stress and anxiety with humans and can offer the same benefits. It can provide calmness and reduce hyperactivity. Lavender can help relieve flea bites, as well as repel fleas. Use it to help heal wounds, bruises and burns, and as an antiseptic.

Dilute a few drops of lavender, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus, or rosemary with large amounts of water in a spray bottle for a flea repellent.

Do loud noises like fireworks or thunder cause your pup anxiety? Try Lavender or Stress Away. Rub a drop on the palm of your hand and pat your dog’s ears or head.

Dogs like to play, and sometimes that comes with scrapes or cuts. Helichrysum, like lavender, can have some of the same benefits for dogs as it does humans. It helps heal bruises and wounds—physical and emotional, can be used as an antiseptic, is a great skin tonic, helps clear mucus from the lungs, heals broken capillaries, aids digestion, and supports the immune system.

Frankincense is another good essential oil to calm your dog and help ease any anxiety.

Use one of our pre-diluted roll-ons. Choose between:  Peaceful Pup, for a beautiful mix of calming oils,  Doggy Digest, to promote regular bowel movements, and then there is Fur Envy, to safely give your dog’s coat the proper protection, shine, and more! (or choose all three!)



Essential oils can be applied topically to your dog. Dilute the essential oils—approximately three to six drops of oil in an ounce of carrier oil, or about 20 drops in eight ounces of shampoo, or 0.1%-1% oil to water ratio. Use less for small dogs than for big ones. You can also use a spray bottle with a few drops of oil mixed with water to apply topically.

Apply/massage your diluted oil to the area where it’s needed. The oils are quickly absorbed. You can also apply by “petting”—rub the diluted oil in your hands, then pet your pooch with both hands.

Use a diffuser for aromatherapy or put a drop of oil on your dog’s collar or bed.

Keep away from your pet’s eyes, nose, inside of his ears, and private area.

Only use essential oils that are safe for dogs. There are some oils to avoid. A few of these include thyme, oregano, and pennyroyal. Give Fido oils once or twice a day. If he doesn’t want them, no need to push the issue. Simply use a diffuser and if you don’t have one, a bowl of hot water with a few drops of essential oils will do the same trick.

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The 10 Most Important Things to Teach A Puppy

valentine ddbYour new puppy will learn his most vital skills through lots of appropriate socializing and positive training techniques.

I don’t care what breed or mix of breeds you’re talking about, puppies are inarguabley, impossibly and adorably cute. You have to be pretty hardhearted and cold or otherwise emotionally damaged not to get gushy over baby dogs, with their innocent faces, sweet puppy breath, satiny ears, and soft pink paw pads. It’s no wonder that people adopt or purchase them, take them home, and then all too often don’t know how to properly care for them.

It shouldn’t surprise me but it does, still, that there are far too many people out there who don’t seem to have a clue about how to properly raise a puppy. My Blog Readers and Clients, are not likely to fall into the “completely clueless” category, but in case you haven’t had a puppy for a while – or ever – and recently adopted or are thinking of adopting, here’s a refresher course for you on the topic of the 10 most important things you should teach your puppy.

1. Socialize Your Puppy to Many Situations
If you teach her nothing else, teach your puppy that the world is a safe and happy place. The formal name for this process is “socialization,” and it means taking your puppy lots of places, exposing her to different sights, sounds, surfaces, humans and other animals, and making sure she’s having a good time while doing so. You want to give her a positive classical association with the world and all things she’s likely to encounter in her dog life. Lots of people understand the part about taking their puppy lots of different places for socialization. They sometimes miss the critically important part: making sure the puppy has a good time.

The primary socialization window is alarmingly small – from three to four weeks to about 13 to 14 weeks. If you get your pup at age eight weeks, half that period is already gone – so hopefully the owner of the pup’s mother has already laid a good socialization foundation. Now it’s your turn.

Take your puppy to safe places where you can control the environment to a reasonable degree. Loud parties and crowded street fairs are not a good idea. Small social gatherings, controlled groups of children, and well-run force-free puppy classes are. Find businesses that welcome pets (many hardware stores and outdoor cafes are pet-friendly) and take her shopping with you (but don’t leave her in a hot car!).

If she seems fearful at any time, move her away from the fear-causing stimulus, let her observe from a safe distance, and feed high-value treats to help her have a good association with the thing, whatever it is. Then make a mental note (or keep a written list!) of things you want to help her become more comfortable with by doing focused counter-conditioning sessions.

omg is that a new collar

2. Prevent Separation Anxiety by Leaving Your Puppy Alone
Dogs are social animals. In a world not controlled by humans, our dogs would spend most of their time in the company of others. Feral dog populations show us that, while not a true pack in the “wolf” sense of the world, wild dogs tend to exist in loose-knit social groups and do choose to be in the company of others of their own kind. In contrast, in our world, a significant population of canines are “only dogs” and are left home alone for eight to 10 hours or even longer. The incidence of separation and isolation anxiety behaviors (SA and IA) in our canine companions is sad testimony to this.

To avoid inducing SA or IA in your pup, introduce her to “aloneness” gradually. Include crate or exercise-pen training during this process so she can be left safely confined while you are away. Plan to take at least a few days off work after your pup arrives so you can help her get accustomed to longer and longer periods alone. Play with her first so she’s tired, then put her in her crate or pen, give her a food-stuffed Kong or other yummy chew, and sit nearby, reading or working on your computer. Slowly increase your distance from her and the length of time you leave her alone, until she is calm and relaxed on her own.

pee mail

3. Housetrain Your Puppy to Relieve Himself in Designated Places and/or Times
Once known as “housebreaking” – “housetraining” is a better term; what were we “breaking” anyway?! – the process of teaching your pup to eliminate where you want her to go is critically important. The process is very simple – but not always easy. Successful housetraining requires ultra-management: You simply never give your pup the opportunity to go to the bathroom anywhere other than the desired place(s).

Leashes, tethers, crates, baby gates, exercise pens, and eagle-eye supervision all come into play as your pup learns that “outdoors = bathroom” (or, for those who choose to teach their dogs to eliminate indoors, bathroom = pee pads or a sod box). The key is to take your pup to her potty spot more often than she has to go, and reinforce her when she “does her business.” At first take her out every hour on the hour, then gradually increase the length of time between bathroom trips.

It’s also a good idea to encourage her to go on different surfaces. Dogs develop “substrate preferences.” If you have her go only on grass you may find that she won’t go on gravel or dirt on those occasions when grass isn’t available.

After she goes, play with her for a bit; if she discovers that elimination makes the outdoor fun stop, she may learn to “hold it” as long as possible to prolong her outside time or interaction with you.

When you are sure she is empty, and after a bit of play, you can bring her back inside and give her some relative house freedom for 15-20 minutes, then put her back under your direct supervision or confinement until the next scheduled potty trip. As she comes to understand the concept of pottying outside, you can increase the length of time she gets post-potty house freedom.

In addition to her regular bathroom breaks, keep in mind that puppies usually need to eliminate not long after eating, and after any strenuous play sessions.

If you do catch her making a mistake, give her a cheerful, “Oops! Outside!” and escort her out to finish there. If you react strongly with a loud “No, bad dog!!” you may teach her that it’s not safe to go where you can see her, and she’ll learn to go to the back bedroom or behind the couch to poop and pee. Punishing accidents may also result in a dog who is reluctant to eliminate for you on leash, for fear that you will punish her. Just don’t.

toy destroy4. Only Enable Your Puppy to Chew on Designated Chew Objects
Just as dogs develop substrate preferences, they also develop preferences for certain things to chew on. If you manage your pup’s environment (with tethers, leashes, baby gates, exercise pens, and direct supervision) so she has opportunity to chew on only “legal” chew objects, you will be able to give her house freedom much sooner, with much more confidence that your valuables are safe.

Different dogs like different kinds of chews, so provide her with a wide variety of chewable items until you find what she likes. Remember that a dog’s need to chew goes far beyond puppyhood, so keep those chew objects handy throughout her life.

My general rule of thumb is that my dogs don’t get house freedom until they are at least a year old, and then only for short periods of time until I know that I can trust them not to chew.

5. A Positive Training Foundation Means an Obedient Dog
When force-free training was new to the dog world, 20 years or so ago, positive trainers had to endure a little (or a lot) of criticism about using treats for training. Now that positive training has come into its own, bolstered by studies that indicate that force-free training is faster and more effective than old-fashioned force-based methods, there is no need to be stingy with or defensive about food rewards.

I always have cookies in my pockets so I can always use treats to reinforce my dogs when the opportunity presents itself. Remember that all living creatures repeat behaviors that are reinforced. We all want to make good stuff happen! If you are good at reinforcing the behaviors you want, and making sure your pup doesn’t get reinforced for behaviors you don’t want (there’s that “management” thing again), your pup will spend lots of time trying to figure out what she needs to do to get you to give her treats. That’s a good thing.

6. Show Your Puppy It’s Fun to Learn New Things
Today’s skilled trainer knows that it’s important to make the whole training process fun for your pup. Along with treats, we want to incorporate happy voices, toys, and play as part of the training process. When you are selecting a training professional to work with you and your pup, either in private training or group classes, make sure you find one who is on board with the force-free, fun approach to training. Your pup’s eyes should light up with joy when you tell her it’s training time!

7. Teach Your Puppy a Fast Recall
Recalls (coming when called) may just be the single most important behavior you can teach your dog. A dog who has a solid recall can be given more freedom to run and play in areas where dogs are allowed off leash. Dogs who get to run and play are generally much healthier, both physically and mentally, and much easier to live with, as they can burn off excess energy by running around. A tired dog is a happy owner!

Use a recall cue that always means “good stuff” – such as a chance to play with a highly coveted toy or high-value treats – and never call your dog to you to do something she doesn’t love, like giving a pill, treating ears, or putting her in her crate. Certainly never call her to you and then punish or even just scold her. You never know; a solid recall might just save your dog’s life someday.

Unlike old-fashioned training, where you face your dog, command her to come, and jerk on the leash if she doesn’t, today’s positive trainer teaches the recall as another fun game to play with humans. I teach a “Run Away Come” by calling the dog and then running away fast, so the dog comes galloping and romping after her human, and gets to party with treats and/or toys when she catches up. The dog learns that “Come!” is an irresistible invitation to play the chase game.

so beautiful8. Help Your Dog Associate Human Touch with Love
Our dogs have to put up with a lot of human touching throughout their lives, and they don’t always like it so much. You can hardly blame them; a lot of the touch is unpleasant, and combined with forced restraint and pain.

You can make life a lot easier for your dog if you teach her as a pup that human touch makes good stuff happen (basic classical conditioning), and minimizing restraint to that which is only absolutely necessary. There is a new movement in the veterinary world to use low-stress handling techniques, so dogs don’t have to be forcibly restrained for routine exams, blood draws, and vaccinations.

Begin by pairing non-invasive touches to your puppy with tasty treats; start somewhere non-threatening, perhaps with a touch to the side of her neck. Touch-treat. Touch-treat. Look for her eyes to light up when you touch her, and her head to swivel toward your treat hand. This is a “conditioned emotional response” (CER); it tells you she understands that the touch makes treats happen.

When this happens consistently, move your touch to other parts of her body that she might be less comfortable with: her ears, paws, or under her chest or belly. Make sure you get the CER at each new spot before proceeding any further. If she actively pulls away from you, you have proceeded too quickly; back up and go more slowly.

This process is invaluable, and will help you with everything from nail trimming to grooming to treating injuries.

9. Condition Your Puppy to Enjoy Car Ridesdogs in hot cars

It’s very sad when a dog doesn’t ride well in cars. It limits our ability and willingness to take her places, and makes it very not-fun when we do! Fortunately, you can teach your pup that the car is a wonderful place, and set her up to love going places with you for the rest of her life.

Part of the problem is that for many pups, that first car ride is very traumatic. It may be the first time she’s separated from her mom and littermates, and the stress of the separation and movement of the car can cause her to get carsick. Bingo! She now associates the car with stress and vomiting. If possible, ask your pup’s breeder to give her some short car rides with some of her siblings so she has a better association with the event. You can also request that the breeder, shelter, or rescue group not feed your pup for a few hours prior to your scheduled pick-up, to reduce the likelihood of carsickness.

If it’s too late for all that, your next best bet is to work to change your pup’s already negative association with the car. Start by sitting in the car with her; don’t even turn on the engine. Give her yummy chew toys, play some training games with her – make the car a fun place to be.

When she’s happy about just being in the car (this may take several sessions; take your time!), turn the engine on and repeat the fun-and-games process, without driving anywhere. Then, with a helper doing the driving for you, continue to play car games while the car moves a very short distance. At the end of the ride, take her out of the car and do fun stuff with her, then put her back in the car and travel another short distance. Gradually have your driver take you longer distances, with fun stuff happening at every destination. In time, your “Want to go for a ride?” query will be met with happy wags and a dog who voluntarily hops in the car in anticipation of fun stuff.

If you have a dog who gets carsick even after all that, try giving her a ginger snap or two before the ride, and/or ask your vet for medication that will help calm her stomach.

keep clam and hug a douge10. Reinforce Your Puppy’s Trust
After her puppy socialization, this could be the most important thing you teach and affirm to your dog throughout her life. You have an obligation to be your dog’s advocate, and not allow anyone, no matter who they are, to do things to her that go against your gut instincts about how she should be treated.

If you are committed to force-free, fear-free, and pain-free handling and training, don’t ever let anyone talk you into treating her badly. No leash jerks, no collar shocks, no alpha rolls. Ever. Stick to your guns; there is always another way. If your animal care and/or training professional insists that the use of pain or force is necessary, find another one. There are plenty of professionals out there who will support and respect your wishes when it comes to handling your dog. She cannot speak for herself; she is counting on you to speak for her.

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Has your dog’s housetraining fallen apart with the advent (onslaught?) of brutally cold temperatures?

Getting Your Dog to Potty in Winter
Has your dog’s housetraining fallen apart with the advent (onslaught?) of brutally cold temperatures? You can hardly blame your dog for not wanting to walk out into such extreme cold, but there are things you can do to help encourage him or her to do so.

adorable animal canine cold

When temperatures hit near- or below-zero, you may need to strongly encourage your dog to potty – actually, insist on it! Veterinarians see spikes in the number of cases of urinary tract infections in winter, when dogs tend to “hold it” for as long as possible, declining invitations to go outside at their usual potty times, and failing to take the time to empty their bladders fully when they do go outside. The longer urine is held in the body, the more bacteria can grow in that urine; when the population of bacteria tips past a level that the dog’s immune system can control, discomfort and systemic illness can result.

You may need to encourage your dog to drink adequate amounts of water when it’s super cold, too. Many dogs become reluctant to drink when it’s cold, and end up getting dehydrated, which can set the stage for a wide constellation of disorders, especially in senior dogs. If you come home from work and your dog’s water bowl has gone untouched all day – it’s at the exact level where it was when you filled it fresh that morning – you should start experimenting to find whatever works best to get your dog to drink more. Some effectives tactics include filling the bowl with fresh water more frequently; warming the water to something more than room temperature; or adding bone broth, chicken broth, or even a bit of honey to the water. Feeding him a high-moisture food will also help, whether it’s canned, fresh home-prepared, raw frozen, or simply his regular kibble soaked in warm water or broth.

Assuming your dog is drinking enough, here are some tips for encouraging him or her to potty as fully and often as usual:

If you can, make a designated potty station outdoors. A covered outdoor area, preferably a spot with some protection from driving wind, is very helpful. Put down anything that will help protect your dog’s paws from the cold ground (or ice or snow): some straw or wood shavings work great, but a few squares of artificial turf (even if it’s just a door mat) that your dog can stand on to pee, will help. You can hose them off (or even toss them out) when the temperatures thaw! This is an emergency!

Outside walks in winter
Some folks walk their dogs to the nearest parking garage, or set up a “potty box” in their own garage when the weather is too nasty to spend an adequate amount of time outside.

Do you live in an apartment or other urban setting where you have to potty your dog on walks? If so, we hope you have already invested in and accustomed your dog to wearing some sort of paw protection. Wearing boots can help protect his feet from freezing temperatures as well as potentially dangerous ice-melt substances that can be found on urban sidewalks.

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

Make sure you are bundled up, too! Trying to rush your dog into going potty quickly because you are freezing can backfire; back in the house, when you step in a puddle in your socks, or find a pile under the dining room table, you can go ahead and smack yourself over the head with a rolled-up newspaper. “Naughty owner!” Dress as warmly as possible and let your dog take her time outside.

Make sure you give your dog some extra-yummy rewards when he or she goes potty outdoors in extraordinary temperatures. Anything you can do to help your dog associate going outdoors with good things, rather than an aversive experience, will help keep him or her “regular,” and help prevent “accidents” in the house.

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How too build a bond with your puppy

Establishing a healthy bond from the start will ensure a meaningful friendship that lasts a lifetime.
Forging a healthy bond with a new puppy is a fun and enriching journey. Here are are some simple ways to weave strong threads of friendship with your new friend.

look into my eyes you will give cookies

1. Start slow
Start by giving the puppy the opportunity to come over and investigate you. Allow her to smell you and get comfortable with your presence; this helps her understand you are not a threat and are respectful of her space.

She’ll appreciate not being overwhelmed by hugs and cuddles, and having the chance to check you out before you touch her.

2. Interact gently
Once your new friend has sniffed you and exhibited signs of being relaxed around you, begin the interaction. Start by calling her to you in a calm, happy voice, and tell her what a good dog she is as soon as she shows interest in you.

When she comes to you, offer her a treat or pet her on the chest. Once you have met and become comfortable with each other, pull out a toy and engage her in some play. This will establish that you are a respectful friend she can trust and have fun with.

3. Bring her home!
Bringing your puppy home is when the fun really begins, since most of the bonding will occur once she is a member of your family.

The most important steps to building a strong connection will involve the seemingly small, insignificant things you do for your pup every single day. By feeding her, walking her, taking her outside to potty, training her and playing with her, you’ll teach her that you are the source of all the good things in her life.

4. Create a structured feeding time
When it’s feeding time, engage your puppy before she gets to eat. Have her sit and wait while you prepare her meal, then ask her to lie down and wait as you set the food in front of her. Give her a release command to signify she may eat, and do not bother her until she is finished.

This exercise teaches her to respect her role in the family while building trust during a structured routine. She also learns that you will not create stress or take her food once you’ve given it to her.

This level of trust is important when building a bond between yourself and your pup. If she believes she has to defend her food or eat it quickly before you take it away, you connection will be negatively impacted.

5. Train positivelytraining
Training is one of the best ways to establish a strong bond between you and your puppy – as long as it is built on a foundation of communication, trust and understanding. Working with your dog and teaching her various obedience commands helps you learn to communicate effectively with each other, and to trust one another.

Dogs want to make their owners happy, so by working together and communicating effectively, you fulfill this need-to-please desire. Always use gentle, positive, reward-based training.

6. Play
Play is another major factor in bond-building. Games like fetch, tug-of-war, chase and “find it” will strengthen your connection by making you the focus of your puppy’s happiness and excitement. Don’t be afraid to goof around and laugh; she’ll appreciate the positive energy coming from you!

7. Give her plenty of affection
Touch and one-on-one quiet time are among the most powerful bonding tools we can use, especially for pups that enjoy cuddling on the couch or lying by your side while being stroked.lap sneak

Dogs communicate through touch just as they do with body language. Use petting, massages and ear scratches to share mutual affection with your furry friend. Watch for cues to ensure your puppy fully enjoys this sort of attention; stress can be counterproductive to bond-building.

8. Spend time together
The little things in life can strengthen the connection between you and your dog, so consider taking her with you to run errands, if weather permits. Dogs always benefit from extra time out of the house, with you. If you have some gardening or other outdoor work to do, give her something healthy to chew on so she can hang out with you while you work.

9. Exercise
Once she reaches physical maturity at around two years of age, your puppy can make the perfect exercise partner, and doing these fun activities together will strengthen your friendship. Many dogs make excellent running or jogging partners (keep in mind that strenuous activities are not suitable for young puppies). This form of exercise is a great structured activity that relieves boredom, releases energy and gives your dog a job to do. When she’s old enough, consider a variety of activities such as hiking, cycling, walking, swimming, soccer and skijoring. Your dog will feel closer to you when she’s included in your exercise routines.

10. Appreciate her companionship
Last but not least, remember to take time every day to appreciate and love your pup for all the joy and love she adds to your life. Sharing mutual love and respect is the secret to a powerful connection that will last a lifetime!