Hidden Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

Dog KissWe’ve all heard that pets are man’s best friend, but did you know that they can also provide health benefits beyond just being your side kick?

The Benefits of Companionship
Pet ownership can be both emotionally and physically rewarding. Emotionally, pets can provide a constant source of unwavering love and nonjudgmental companionship. This devotion has been proven to provide physical benefits to human health. A recent study published in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal, outlined the bevy of health benefits related to owning a pet.

Pet ownership has been shown to help with systemic hypertension. An Australian study noted that pet owners had significantly lower systolic blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) than non-pet owners. A similar study from 2012 showed that married couples with pets had lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure than those without a furry friend in their lives.*

Lower Cholesterol
Being a pet parent can also help to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s been proven that men who own pets are more likely to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners in the same age group. On the other hand, a second study showed that those without dogs were more likely to have elevated serum cholesterol levels and diabetes mellitus than dog owners who regularly participated in physical activity with their pets.

Owning a dog has been shown to increase physical activity levels in owners as well. An Australian study showed that dog owners were 57% more likely to meet the recommended level of physical activity compared to nonowners. A Canadian study showed that dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes per week, as opposed to the 168 minutes walked by nonowners. No significant association of increased physical activity was noted with cat ownership, which isn’t particularly surprising.

Weight Loss and a Healthy Heart
Your faithful companion can also help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Pet owners who walk their dogs had a lower BMI when compared with dog owners who didn’t walk their pet and non-pet owners. Young children had a lower risk of being overweight or obese if their family had a dog.

People with pets had significantly lower baseline heart rate and blood pressure with small increases associated with stress compared to non-pet owners. Similar cardiovascular reactivity was seen with dog, cat, goat, fish, chimpanzee, and snake ownership.

In the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST), dog ownership was associated with lower mortality in patients with cardiovascular disease when compared with non-owners. Cat ownership did not show a deceased mortality. Also, the potential for one-year survival post myocardial infarction (heart attack) was higher in pet owners than non-pet owners.

While a pet should never be adopted purely for the health benefits they may provide, these benefits can be seen as an added bonus to being a pet parent.

The Dog Nanny Website

Workout with your Dog

Put the Work Into the Workout

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise there is, but for workout walks to be a fitness building experience, you will need to do more than just a regular walk at your regular pace. As with any workout, aiming for a variety of aerobic activity, some strength building, and some flexibility exercises will give you a well-rounded fitness routine.

Keep in mind that most health experts recommend that we exercise at a moderate intensity. What does that mean? For the human half of the team, a good rule of thumb is that if you can talk while you walk, you are moving at about the right pace. However, each of us is an individual, so you may want to talk with your health care provider or fitness trainer to develop your personal goals.

There are several strategies for turning a basic dog walk into a fitness-building workout. A great idea is to vary your approach and try for one or more of the below suggestions on different days of the week.

(1) Step up the pace. Perhaps this is obvious – but it is also one of the best strategies for building fitness. When you head out for a walk, warm up for the first 5 to 10 minutes, and then challenge yourself to move at a quicker pace than you normally would.

(2) Go long. Increasing distance is another great strategy. Make some days your long walk days, and increase your normal distance or time.

(3) Try intervals. Interval training is when you take small chunks of time – say 30 seconds to several minutes – and work out at a higher intensity, followed by a rest cycle. So, for example, on a walk, you could walk fast or even jog for one block getting your heart rate up, and the next two blocks walk at a normal speed to let your heart rate recover (go back to normal).

(4) Climb to new heights. Walking hills (assuming your knees and back can handle it!) are a great way to add difficulty to your workout and also some strength training for your legs.

While out on your walk, at a park or other quiet location, give your dog a sniff break or ask for a stay while you do some calisthenics, stretching or strength building exercises. Try squats, lunges, calf-raises. Add in some vertical pushups off of a building or pole and some leg-lifts and tricep dips on a park bench for a full body workout.

These are tips that will get both you and your dog moving in a fitness direction, but it may not sound like much fun for your canine pal. In order to make it a positive experience for you both, add in some fun time.

Dog Depression: How to Spot it and Treat It

Depression is relatively common in humans, and recent studies have shown that cases of dog depression may be just as frequent. According to Healthline, it is estimated that 17.3 million adults in the United States suffer from depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents that approximately 9 percent of Americans report that they are depressed at least occasionally, and 3.4 percent suffer from “major depression.” Additionally, approximately 7.1 percent of American adults have at least one major depressive episode in a given year.

Unfortunately, dog depression is harder to spot, despite being just as common.

Signs of Depression in Dogs
Just like with humans, every dog responds differently to stress. For example, a person who loses their job may become depressed, while another person may see opportunity and feel relieved or rejuvenated. One dog being rehomed may be withdrawn, scared, or have a decreased appetite. Another dog, however, may be elated.

What Causes Dog Depression
Just as it is difficult to predict or generalize how people will respond to stress, it is hard to determine or predict what will make a dog depressed.

The most common signs associated with dog depression are:

Illness. Dogs that are sick and don’t feel well may become depressed.
Loss of mobility. Just as illnesses cause depression, so can a loss of mobility. It’s traumatizing for a previously active dog to lose the ability to run, play, walk and exercise and their symptoms may be caused by a back injury, trauma (like a fracture), or from degenerative disease (arthritis) in older dogs.
Loss of routine. Some dogs can become very depressed after a change in their routine. This can occur when the kids go back to school, if an owner takes on a new job, or anything else that leads to a 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 from death, or from someone moving out and leaving the home. The death of an owner, a child leaving for college, or someone leaving due to a divorce can create a void in a dog’s life.
Moving. Moving can be a stressful time for humans and their pets, as they suddenly lose their territory and safety net. Usually, the move is a huge disruption in their routine and environment. Movers, moving boxes, packing, and unpacking can all impact the amount of time spent with their pet parents. This can cause depression in some dogs.
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, as the new pet may take attention away from them.
What You Can Do to Help Dog Depression
Treatments for dog depression can be categorized into pharmacological (drug) treatments and nonpharmacological treatments.

The best course of action to treat dog depression is the following:

Figure out the cause. Consider why your dog may be depressed. As you consider the possible cause, also consider what your dog’s life is like on a day-to-day basis. Is there stimulation? Playtime? Exercise? Or is it boring and solitary?
Optimize your dog’s quality of life. Make sure your dog has a great routine consisting of plenty of exercise, daily walks, frequent opportunities to go to the bathroom, and predictable meal schedules.
See your vet. Make sure your dog is healthy and that you are not mistaking symptoms of depression for symptoms of illness, as they can seem similar and hard to differentiate. Your vet may want to do a physical examination and run some routine blood work.
Administer Prescriptions. As a 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 otherwise.
Give it time. It can take time for the treatments to work. Relax and enjoy being with your dog. On occasion, additional attention will be enough to return them to their normal doggie selves.

How to Treat a Paw Injury

Dog Paw Cuts and Scrapes: How to Treat a Paw Injury
Five things to keep in mind when dealing with your dog’s cut paw pad.

By Kate Eldredge, LVT –

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 cut paw pad 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.

Kate Eldredge is a licensed veterinary technician from Plattsburgh, New York.

Five Things to Do When Your Dog Jumps On People

There’s a common misconception that dogs jump on people to establish dominance. Balderdash! Dogs jump on people because there’s something about jumping that is reinforcing for the dog – usually the human attention that results from the jumping. If you want your dog to stop jumping on people, you have to be sure he doesn’t get reinforced for it. Here are five things to do when your dog jumps on people:

1. Interrupt. Minimize the reinforcement your dog gets from jumping on someone by cheerfully removing him from the situation as soon as possible. To that end, you may want to leave a “tab” attached to your dog’s collar when he’s around people – a short (4 to 6 inch) leash that makes it easy for you to lead him away. Don’t leave the tab on your dog when he’s alone; he could get it caught on something.

2. Manage. When you know your dog is likely to have trouble controlling himself, put his leash on before he can jump on someone. When you see the jumping-up gleam in his eye, restrain him to prevent the reinforcement he gets from the initial contact. Other useful management tools to prevent reinforcement include strategically located tethers, baby gates, doors, exercise pens, and crates.

3. Educate. Tell friends, family and even temporary acquaintances what you want them to do if your dog starts to jump up. Insist they not reinforce jumping up behavior – even those friends who claim they don’t mind! Educational options include telling them to:

Greet your dog before he jumps, perhaps even kneeling to greet a small dog.
Turn and step away from your dog until he sits, or at least has four feet on the floor, then turn back to greet the dog.
Ask your dog to sit and reinforce by petting him if/when he does.
Back away from your dog (if you have your dog on leash) and wait for him to sit before greeting or petting him. If he jumps up while you are petting him, simply stop the petting and take a step backward. Resume petting only if he sits.
Toss a toy conveniently provided by you to redirect the dog’s behavior before the jump happens.
Walk away from your dog through a gate or door and close it behind them to keep the dog on the other side. Be aware of your surroundings, and proactively prevent your dog from reaching anyone he can jump up on.

4. Train. Of course you need to practice polite greetings in the absence of the exciting stimulus of guests and strangers by reinforcing your dog’s appropriate greeting with you and other family members. Be sure to take advantage of the presence of guests and strangers to reinforce your dog’s polite greeting behaviors while you’re managing with leashes and tethers.

5. Apologize/take responsibility. It’s your job to prevent your dog from jumping on people, even when they say they don’t mind. If your management efforts fail and your dog does jump up, apologize.

If in the process of jumping up he puts muddy pawprints on a business suit, snags a pair of nylons, knocks down a small child, or otherwise does some kind of property damage – even if the damage is minor – be responsible and make amends: pay for the cleaning bill, purchase a new pair of nylons, buy the child an ice cream cone, or do whatever you need to do to repair the damage. Then redouble your training and management efforts.

Need more help training your dog how to properly greet people?

Aggression Modification

never tell a dog off for growling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changing Bad Behavior

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

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

Changing Bad Behavior

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

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

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

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

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

 

What Is a Dog Behaviorist?

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

 

Dog Behavior Training Tips

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

 

Here are some training tips for common behavioral issues:

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

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

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

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

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

Ways to Keep Your Dog Active During Winter

Ways to Keep Your Dog Active During Winter

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

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

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

adorable animal canine cold

KEEPING ACTIVE IN THE WINTER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

huskey sled reverse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Dogs Need Grains in Their Diet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Do Dogs Need Grain Free Dog Food?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Do Dogs Need Grains?

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

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

 

What Dog Food Should I Feed My Dog?

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

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

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

thanksgiving

 

Could It Be Canine Dementia?

I personally experience this with my Teal’C 

MY Heart still aches

Symptoms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dog Nanny