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ADOPTING TWO DOGS AT THE SAME TIME – LITTERMATE SYNDROME

So are you thinking about or have you already adopted two pups from the same litter at the same time?

Just a word of warning, although this may seem like a good idea, sometimes things don’t run so smoothly. Speaking from experience – not all puppies like their brother or sisters just like us humans.

When we adopted Koffi as a pup, a friend also adopted her sister Paige.  These two fight.  We made the mistake of attending the same puppy class – they spent most of the time eyeing each other up from across the room and planning how they would get to each other.

Saying that, I have seen other dogs that remain with their siblings and have no problems. My advice is talk with the pups breeder – check and make sure the pups are currently getting along well, BEFORE you bring them home and find that they aren’t.

Littermate syndrome can result when two pups are brought home together – this can end in fights when they are together and anxiety when the pups are separated from each other.

Plus obviously there will be more toilet accidents, mouthing, chewing and general puppy naughtiness etc. “It’s more than twice the work; it’s exponential. The two combine to produce levels of energy that we can barely measure. Tension develops in training and compliance as they squeeze the owner out of the relationship. They’re always living with an enormous distraction—each other.” Dr Ian Dunbar

So, if you are reading this, more than likely you have already committed to two pups, and giving one up is probably out of the question.  By following the below information, our aim is to ensure that your two pups are raised as individuals.  This will help ensure they have confidence when separated from each other, are not overly dependent on each other, minimize conflict and resource guarding and strengthen their bond with you and your family.

This is what you should do:

Start confinement training – away from each other

This could include the use of two separate crates or pens.  Ideally in different rooms, and if not, with a visual barrier as a minimum.

Training 

Train each puppy every day as you would for any puppy – make sure that this is as a separate one on one thing. Perhaps feed the other pup in its crate using a kong etc during this time so that it is a pleasant experience for him/her at the same time.

Do lots of training that involves rewards from your hands – this will help the pups learn to focus on you and value you as well.  Many littermate puppies left to their own devices and to keep each other company don’t bond as well to their human family members.

Feed Separately

Use enrichment toys and set the dogs up to succeed by ensuring the toy is challenging but achievable.  Feed them separately so that they learn that being apart is a good thing, and this will also help to prevent resource guarding.

Exercise Separately

Ensure that you can remove one puppy from the property whilst the other one stays behind and that they are happy to do so.

So often, when working in the veterinary industry we have to have both family dogs come for a vet check when only one dog needs it, because the time hasn’t been put in to ensure that the dogs are comfortable being left alone.

​Imagine what happens if one pup gets sick or injured and needs to be hospitalised for a period.

Puppy School

All because your pup has a puppy friend, does not mean that you shouldn’t socialise him/her with other pups and dogs.  Think about kids that are in a home environment with mum, dad and a sibling or two, but do not attend family events with other children, kindergarten or school.  How well socialised are they, and what social skills may they be lacking when out and about in the general population?  Could this lack of social learning be a concern?

Attend a well-run puppy school – each puppy should have its own class.

There are many puppy schools available to you, however, you need to do your research, and make the right choice for your puppy.

A check list for a good puppy school is as follows

  • Uses positive reinforcement (reward based methods to train)
  • Has staff that are educated and have qualifications that relate to animal training and behaviour
  • Have small classes (maximum of 6 pups per trainer)
  • Has a set lesson plan and can define what you and your puppy will gain and learn from attending their puppy school
  • Allows both time on and off lead (for suitable puppies) and isn’t solely based on play
  • Play sessions are kept short, and managed to suit individual puppies
  • Focuses on teaching calm reliable behaviours
  • DOES NOT use outdated dominance related theories or techniques such as scruffing, alpha rolls or shooting with water pistols.

Monitor their play

The pups should be allowed to play together for short sessions each day (providing the puppies are both enjoying the play).

Supervise the play, look for role reversal, and even play.  Watch the body language of each puppy and intervene if either pup looks like they are not enjoying the game.

Ensure that they have frequent breaks from play – just like human children, it doesn’t take much for play to escalate and result in a fight.

Play games with each pup

Spend play time with each pup – again whilst the other is separated and busy doing something else enjoyable.  You are going to be making a lot of use of food enrichment toys!

Play games such as Fetch or Tug (with rules) – both these games involve your pup learning that again you are pretty cool, and they will want to be with and bond with you.

What else should you consider?

Budget – a puppy is expensive, two is a lot more expensive.
Do you have the finances to afford double of everything?
Don’t forget Pet Insurance or unplanned veterinary expenses.

Toilet training is twice as hard – you will need to watch each pup closely to ensure you can predict when they need to go out.  They may not always be on the same schedule, which could result in some very broken sleep for you. When there is an accident, will you know who did it?
  
Article Courtesy of Whole Dog Journal

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THE GREAT TRAINING DEBATE

While nay-sayers may tell you otherwise, dog training has two sides to the coin, two sides to the story and ultimately two different methods of training dogs. Although both sides, from traditional and modern methods, disagree about which methods are right, in truth, they both work.

You could say that dog training can be as different as two languages, but both are forms of communication. When applied effectively, your dog will understand what you are saying. How you deliver the message is very different.

Dog training methods have not changed much over the years until recently when a push for more science-based methods began to evolve.

Traditional training involves using corrections or aversives to discipline the dog for not performing a command or behavior as desired. Trainers use training tools such as different style collars, leash corrections, or vocal cues to tell the dog they did it wrong. After the dog failed to perform and has been corrected, the command or behavior is repeated and the right outcome is rewarded.

Through hundreds of years of history dogs effectively bonded to humans and formed successful working partnerships. Training them was an integral part of creating a working relationship to serve humans. Early dogs were hunting, herding, guarding or draught companions and needed to be able to serve a purpose.

One thing that never changed was their ability to be easily trainable. Humans aren’t known for always being the kindest creatures on earth. We have a keen belief that other creatures must serve a purpose to be useful and for dogs that often meant they needed to be compliant with delivering the uses we saw fit for them. They needed to be easily trained and this often involved the development of the use of training tools to make the training process easier and the animal more compliant.

By using corrections when a dog doesn’t complete a command or behavior with the desired outcome, the dog learns consequences. Many trainers with traditional backgrounds rely on training tools to assist them in giving the dog clear communication about what is being asked of them. The use of training collars such as e-collars, prongs, choke chains, and martingale collars are effective training tools, though not everyone agrees with their use being humane. Each tool has a different use and effect on the dog, though many associations of these tools are not pleasant for the dog.

To be a successful trainer you need to have a good understanding of dog behaviour and know when and how to apply corrections effectively. Correcting the dog immediately following a missed command or unwanted behaviour is essential to the dog’s learning process. Then repeating the scenario until you have the successful outcome, correcting the dog when they do not react appropriately. For example, if you are teaching a dog to sit you may use a leash and pull up on the dog as you ask them to sit. You may push their bum down and into the sit position. You would repeat this until the dog associates the word “Sit” with the action. If they failed to sit when asked you would give a leash correction pulling them up and into the sit position and reward when they sit after being given the command.

Traditional training methods can be as soft or gentle as the person who applies them. When applied with correct timing, appropriate reaction and an understanding for how to accomplish the final outcome, corrections can be mild yet very effective. In the wrong hands, it can be harsh or downright abusive.

Despite its sometimes forceful appearance, traditional training has served its purpose. It is not the nice sort of fluffy training everyone wants to watch but results can be reached quickly. Those on the other side of the fence argue there is a better, more humane way to accomplish the same goals without having such a hands-on approach.

One of the most famous dog trainers to use traditional training tools is Cesar Milan. In the early 2000s, he made quite the name for himself by rehabilitating dogs through his methods. He was a popular figure until more recently when he began to experience a lot of backlash from the positive reinforcement community who called his methods outdated, inhumane, forceful, and even abusive. Despite harsh criticism, Cesar still has a large following. He has rehabilitated many dogs successfully.

Like him or not, Cesar opened the door for a lot of people to become interested in the world of dog training and understanding dog behaviours. He can also be credited for saving hundreds of dog’s lives as he proved dogs with dangerous tendencies could be saved under the right training programs. These are dogs that previously may not have been given a chance. Unfortunately, sometimes these methods fail. Not every dog will be successful despite any type of training given to them.

In the US, especially, after Cesar’s rise to fame, there was a sudden explosion of interest in dog training and understanding behaviours. Dog owners had a thirst for knowledge and understanding how to fix their dog’s behaviors and problems. A large training community evolved and spread globally.

After further research and more education, dog training and techniques began to diversify as people tried new theories. Some moved to science to understand how to best train their dogs.

Most trainers are quite opinionated about what techniques are right and are especially biased to the one they use or claim to have discovered. More TV shows have since emerged and made several dog trainers famous by giving them their own shows. The divide between which methods of training are correct has never been so far apart.

The evolution of dog training is advancing, and new methods are being created. Science-based training is becoming more popular than ever as more owners push for more humane methods to build trust and improve the relationship with their dog. They do not want to use tools and force to get their dog to work them, instead, they want their dog to work for them because they are motivated to do it on their own free will.

Many owners and trainers branched out from traditional training methods and begun learning and experimenting with more modern methods and positive reinforcement. They believe that understanding and rewarding good behaviors are more powerful and effective than punishing bad ones.

A trainer using positive reinforcement would approach teaching a sit much differently than a traditional trainer would. They may use food to get a puppy interested in what in their hand to follow their nose. Using food in hand, and raising their hand just above the puppy’s head, the puppy will naturally scoot their bum under them into a sit position. The trainer will give the “sit” command then reward with food. Instead of using hands and leash correction to position the dog into sit, the dog offered to sit on their own and was rewarded for doing so. Positive reward trainers reinforce good behaviors or actions rather than punish the ones they don’t want.

By understanding a dog’s motivation behind bad behaviors, we can use science to understand why dogs act or react the way they do. Once we have a solid understanding of what our dog is trying to accomplish we can use other motivators to reinforce good behaviors and make changes in a positive way.

At one end of the dog training spectrum, you have all positive reinforcement training and the other training with aversives. There are a number of trainers who have been taught or experienced both types of training and those who fall somewhere in the middle in the land of balanced training.

There is no doubt, that there is more than one way to teach an old dog a new trick. Does this mean that one is right over the other? That will depend on who you ask. Other factors that influence what type of training is best include the dog’s personality, the problem, and the owner’s comfort level of new or different techniques. The most important factor would be the trainer’s competence and educational background in understanding dog behaviours and their ability to solve the problem.

Dog owner’s looking to work with a trainer should always invest time into learning about different dog training techniques, training tools, and their uses-including when and how to use them. Educate yourself on different trainers in your area and check their reviews and credentials.

It is not uncommon to find trainers who have no professional training background and are self-taught. While the dog training community is largely unregulated, there are associations that are pushing for formal education, apprenticeships and creating a code of ethics for dog trainers to follow. These associations can recommend dog trainers they feel follow and abide by their standards.

Dog owners have the responsibility to act in their dog’s best interest, but to do that, you can’t go into it blindly. It will take some due diligence on the owner’s part to explore dog training techniques and trainers and find one they feel is accountable and are comfortable working with and also has their dog’s best interests at heart.

 

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Megaesophagus in Dogs

Megaesophagus in Dogs

All dogs throw up once in a while. But when your dog experiences episodes of repeated vomiting, you know you have a problem. The first thing to do is get him to the vet. Hopefully, it is just a passing viral infection or a little stomach upset. But you could be dealing with megaesophagus.

Megaesophagus: What Is It?

Megaesophagus is a condition in which the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach is not working correctly. When the muscle in the esophagus is not functioning the way it should, food and water don’t always make it to the stomach. The food can actually remain in the esophagus for hours. If the dog moves, runs downstairs, or jumps off the couch, he will regurgitate.

Regurgitation of this type is different from normal vomiting. The esophagus hurls up its contents without warning. There is no accompanying nausea or retching. A dog with megasophagus will give no signs that anything is wrong before the undigested food comes flying out of his mouth.

What Causes It?

When the muscles within the esophagus cannot contract, the throat will widen, enlarging with air. X-rays will show the condition.

Megaesophagus in dogs has two causes: congenital and acquired.

There are certain breeds of dogs that have a greater propensity than others to developing the condition. These include Irish setters, Newfoundlands, Chinese shar-peis, miniature schnauzers, and fox terriers. Young dogs with a propensity to develop the condition will experience delayed nerve development in their esophagus.

Some dogs will develop megaesophagus as a result of a neurological condition called myasthenia gravis, which causes muscle weakness and affects the dog’s ability to swallow.

A dog does not have to be born with a congenital issue to experience this problem. Dogs who sustain nerve damage can acquire the condition. If megaesophagus is acquired, it will fall under one of two categories:

  • Acquired Idiopathic

This is when the disease has appeared with no apparent cause. This is the most common form of the condition when seen in older dogs.

  • Acquired Secondary

Acquired secondary megaesophagus occurs as a result of another illness. Dogs who are diagnosed with Addison’s disease, neoplasia, or vascular ring anomaly might develop secondary megaesophagus.

Treatment

A dog with megaesophagus requires a special diet, as well as management. Because the food cannot be properly digested, the dog will drop weight. Therefore, it is important to feed your dog a diet that is high in calories but low in fat and fiber. Raw food is not an option, as it heightens the risk of bacterial infection and aspiration pneumonia.

When the dog is fed, it must be in an upright position. He needs to remain in this position for at least thirty minutes to give the food sufficient time to reach the stomach.

Many veterinarians will prescribe drugs for dogs that have developed secondary megaesophagus. The dog is diagnosed with an antibody titer. The sucralfate will prevent ulceration that can happen when the stomach acids enter the esophagus. If the dog has already developed ulcers in the esophagus or stomach, the sucralfate can help.

Lifestyle

The owner of a dog with megaesophagus should be prepared for a change in lifestyle. Some dogs require a feeding tube. Other pet owners have to serve their dogs several small meals each day. They feed their dogs vertically, keeping them upright for some time period after each meal. Some owners of dogs with megaesophagus have employed the use of a Bailey chair, which is essentially a high chair for dogs, keeping them in a sitting position with a tray much the same as a high chair for human children.

Some dogs, through careful management, will experience a complete healing of the esophagus over time.

In the meanwhile, be prepared for a lifestyle with a dog that can only be described as high maintenance. Your veterinarian can outline the best treatment plan for you. All dogs are different, so you will need to be prepared to adapt to whatever care your furry friend requires. With proper management, your dog and you can enjoy a high quality of life and many great days together.

Why You Should Never Feed a Dog with Megaesophagus

A dog who is harbouring food and liquid in his esophagus is in danger of aspirating the food into his lungs, and he can develop pneumonia very quickly. If you have a dog who is vomiting repeatedly, do not hesitate to get help. Get him to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Sources

CertaPet.com: Megaesophagus In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment 

Pet MD: Tips For Feeding A Dog With Megaesophagus

 

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The Dog That Had No Friends

THE DOG WHO HAD NO FRIENDS

There was once a young dog who had a heart of gold.
He was from a good family who loved him very much.
They cared for him just like he was human…

He was a friendly dog, one who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
He had 2 younger (human) brothers who would always play rough with him
But he knew that they were only playing and so he would gently play back.

He loved to play and make new friends
He was always SO excited when he would go for his daily walks down to the dog park
There were always so many new friends to be made!

So he entered the park…
Tail wagging,
Senses going off with new scents and smells
Always different from last time,
New friendly faces that he couldn’t wait to meet.

But for some reason…
Every time he entered the park…
The other dogs would be put back on their leash…
They would be taken home…
They’d leave just as he would arrive..

He never had the chance to make new friends
He would never be able to socialise
These other owners took his new friends away before he ever had the chance to say hi

Day in, day out,
He constantly had the same troubles.
He started to feel down
Less excited about his walks knowing he wouldn’t make any new friends…

Was there something wrong with him?
What did he ever do to the others?
Why wouldn’t they come close?

His owners could see he was less energetic,
Less enthused about his walks,
His owners could see he seemed sad,

So one night, they went online & bought him some new accessories…
Thinking gifts may lighten him up.
And that they did.
A big, bright green collar, perfect for his next walk.

So one day, back out on their daily walk to the dog park
His mood was still a little down,
Expecting the worst,
Knowing the routine…

Until suddenly…
The dogs stayed,
One, Two, Three..
None of the dogs left the park!

THEN, dogs started to approach him!
He was socialising!
He had friends!
He could FINALLY play with some dog friends.

But what was different?
What changed for this to happen?
Was it by a stroke of good luck?

No,
It was his new collar.
His bright green new collar his owners got him.

It stood out so well that these other dog owners could read the big bold letters from afar that stated “FRIENDLY”

The collar was able to let them know he wouldn’t bite,
That he was a friendly dog and wanted to make new friends

From that day onwards his walks have become his favourite activities again,
He’s ecstatic for his walks…
To meet new friends
To socialise

And it’s all thanks to his new collar.

…Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of awareness to let other people know your dog is friendly & approachable.

If you liked this story, share it with somebody, tag another dog lover in the comments below.
Better yet, share it on your wall for all to see.
We stock the full range at Wag Tail Designs

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10 Tips for Finding the Perfect Forever Home for Your Foster Dog

By Katie Shannon

1. Be Patient: Some dogs have a line up for potential applicants and other dogs sit for weeks or even months waiting for a new home. There is the right home out there for every dog, sometimes you just have to wait a little while. Hang in there, it is worth it.

2. Adoptions Should Never Be “First Come, First Serve”: Sometimes the first applicant is not always the right one. If you don’t think its perfect, don’t be scared to wait it out a little bit longer.

3. Trust Your Gut: You have to be their advocate. If you get a bad feeling from an adopter or you just do not feel like it is a match made in heaven, speak up! You know this dog better than anyone else and genuinely want things to work out. They may not be a bad home; they may simply not be the best match for this dog.

4. Be Honest: Not all dogs are perfect. Be upfront and honest about any known history and behaviors. Surprises are not a good thing for new owners and their new pet. If your foster has some issues discuss them openly with potential adopters. You need to know if the new home is prepared and capable of managing them or not.

5. Manners: Great manners is an excellent way to positively portray them to anyone who meets them, and any prospective families. Always put their best paw forward.

6. Ambassador Dog:  One of the biggest reasons a home does not work out with a new pet is behavioral issues, many of which stem from a lack of training. Give your foster the best chance at a successful placement by helping the new family out and getting a head start on training.

7. Social Media: Use it to your advantage; share cute stories and videos and tell all your friends, (and the rest of world), how wonderful (and adorable) they are. Share, share, share. Dogs can have social media too. Set up a Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter account, of their own.

8. “Advertise”:  You need to tell the world that they are available. Rescue groups post adoptable dogs on their websites, but do not simply rely on this alone for exposure. You need to tell the world that they are ready to be adopted and eagerly looking for their family. When in public, or at the dog park, what greater way to attract attention than by sporting one of our “Adopt Me” leashes and collars so everyone knows this dog is looking for a new home.

9.Professional Photos: Capture your dog’s pupsonality with professional style photos.  You do not have to be a pro, but set aside time to dedicate to a proper photoshoot. Take photos outside in sunlight or slight overcast skies to get the best lighting. Snap tons of photos and pick the best. Using a squeaky toy can help capture cute head tilts, perky ears and big puppy dog eyes.

10. Profile: Create a captivating profile by including interesting quirks, personality traits and favorite activities that readers can relate to. Showcase which type of home and setting would be the ideal match so applicants know a head of time if they are a good fit. This will help weed out interest from adoptees that may not suit the lifestyle and needs of the dog.

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10 Tips for Living with a Blind Dog

By Katie Shannon

Losing use of one of your senses can be a real challenge, including for our dogs. Many dogs will loose eye sight over time with age, degeneration or disease, to varying degrees. For those that have significantly reduced visibility it can be a real struggle for both the dog and the owner learning how to adapt. Here are some tips to help with the changes, keep things simple and comfortable for your dog.

1. Provide a safe space: Your dog will especially enjoy a safe place, created just for them. Use a small room with a comfortable bed, or their crate as their own safe zone. This means when they are in that space no one will bother them. It is theirs alone to enjoy when they need some peace and quiet all to themselves.

2.Scent Trails: Everyday items you already have in your house like vanilla or scented oils can be used to help your dog to know the way around the house; create scent trails or mark important locations like doorways.

3. Other senses heightened: You can use this to your advantage. Even though visual stimulus is reduced or non existent, you can find new ways to interact with your dog; use sounds or your voice to help guide your dog to your location or for commands. Use scent to play games of play hide-n-go-seek by sprinkling yummy treats around the house.

4. Do not let them free roam outside: Ensure the back yard or garden is safe and fully enclosed so they can not escape. Dogs should never be allowed to roam freely. Keeping them on leash during walks is for their own safety as they may not be able to see dangers lurking nearby.

5. Use physical barriers to prevent injury: Your dog should never have access to anything that could cause injury. Block off stairs, pools, only allow them access to decks and patios with secure railings.

6. Close doors or limit space: This is especially important if this is a new space to the dog or rapid onset blindness. By reducing the amount of space it will be easier for the dog to learn how to get around. Block off access to the rest of the house like bedrooms and hallways by closing doors or using baby gates. Keep them happy and comfortable by containing them to the main living area where their food dishes, water and bed are available, and the majority of the household likes to hang out so the dog can be near you.

7. Use textures: Everyday items can be placed strategically to provide location markers which will help your dog to safely know their location and surroundings. Placing a carpet runner over a hard wood floor can act as a safe guide for a straight path through a room. Placed at the top of stairs can mark the entrance to the staircase and notify the dog of the coming decent. Using gravel around the perimeter of the yard provides a defined border before making contact with the fence.

8. Do not rearrange furniture unless you absolutely must: Your dog will use pieces of furniture to mark their location in relation to objects they can identify. Every time some thing is moved the dog will need to figure everything out all over again. This can cause stress and anxiety for sensitive dogs.

9. De-clutter: Remove unnecessary items from the main living space of your house. Large items like furniture need to stay in place, but that decorative vase should find a home on a shelf instead. By creating a minimalist floorplan for your dog to maneuver you are reducing the amount of obstacles that they must encounter on a regular basis.

10. Routine: Dogs are creatures of habit and do not like the unexpected. Create a routine or schedule. This will help them to know when to expect activity around the house and when to relax, helping to reduce stress. Include a morning routine, daily walk, feed schedule and bedtime.

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Help your dog get the respect they deserve

By Katie Shannon

This is a tough group to belong to; the dogs categorized as needing to be approached with caution. I sympathise with all who are experiencing the challenge of owning one of these dogs, it is no easy task. We may genuinely have a dog that has good reason to unfortunately, be labelled a Caution Dog. It may be their history, their unpredictability, legislation requirements or just for their own protection. What if I told you that more dogs should belong to this group, how would that make you feel? Confession time, when I am out in public, I don’t actually want anyone to approach my dogs. It is not at all because they are unfriendly; I just do not want to put my dog in a situation that exposes them to the unfair advantage of ‘anything can happen’. Truth be told, all dogs should be treated with respect and approached with caution.

Here are some creative ways to help get your dog the respect they deserve, cope with set backs and keep a safe distance.

1. Always Have Your Dog’s Best Interests at Heart: Simply put, do not put your dog is any situation where they are left to a disadvantage. Have their back and protect them from having to make a choice on how to control a situation they are uncomfortable in. Never put them in that situation in the first place.

2. Wait for the Right Time to Walk: Avoid peak busy times, reduce the risks. By walking early in the morning, you are more likely to run into dedicated owners, who on average, are better educated, and more understanding. This means they are more likely to respect your space. Late at night, the dog park is a night owls dream. You generally have the place to yourself. Avoid afternoons and weekends when the casual walkers are lollygagging along.

3. Know When Enough is Enough: If you ever feel like your dog is too much for you to handle, that statement was probably true a long time ago, and denial has kept it deeply hidden until now. It is OK to ask for help. Enlist the help and advice of a professional. Make sure you are listening to what they have to tell you, even if you don’t want to hear it. The truth can be ugly. It may not be easy, but they will have suggestions to make things easier.

4. Watch Me: This is a great command to teach your dog to direct their focus off on an object and on to you in a positive way. This means your dog sits and looks at you, instead of focusing on the whatever triggers them, they get well rewarded with yummy treats for remaining distracted. Keep your distance from any target objects your dog may be eye-balling as you do this.

5. Loose Leash: Tension on the leash is transferred right to your dog. Keeping a loose loop in the leash sends the message to relax.

6. Check Your Equipment: Be mindful of what type of collar you have on your dog. Corrective collars like prong or choke chains, for example, can actually trigger or heighten reactions as they tighten. A flat collar or harness may be a suitable replacement to ensure your dog is secured, while still maintaining control. The use of any type of training collar should be reviewed on a case per case basis, with a proper consultation, and prescribed under the education and guidance of a professional.

7. Speed up: This is incredibly helpful if you have a reactive dog. Picking up the pace will help set them at ease as they begin to shift their focus from an object to their gait and speed. If things begin to fall apart and your dog starts to spiral out of control, take them for a big burst of speed (short, but hard run). This can help to act as a reset button and relieves stress.

8. Walk with Purpose: If you look like you are on a mission, people are far less likely to want to stop or approach you.

9. Have a Fallback Plan: This sounds horrible, but I promise it works. If you have someone who just insists that all dogs love them and won’t take NO for an answer, make up a fake “contagious” illness. If they continue to approach I will call out “He has snuffle-oxy-ga-tight-us” or some scientific sounding name. They won’t even hear anything you said, except for the next part “It is highly contagious!!”. They won’t stick around long enough to dispute the facts, likely walk away quickly, and disgusted. I mean ‘how dare I bring a “contagious” dog out in public?’.

10. Wear a Muzzle: Muzzling your dog makes a statement. It tells people there is a reason to not approach your dog; whether it is for people, other dogs, or just a precautionary measure -it doesn’t really matter. The sight of a muzzle is usually enough to dissuade people from coming closer.

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10 Tips for Living with a Deaf Dog

By Katie Shannon

Caring for a dog with the loss of one of the major senses can be a huge task to tackle. Often requiring more care and attention of a special home, these dogs can be hard to place. Not everyone is up to the challenge of dealing with a deaf dog. Certain breeds are predisposed to deafness, with an estimated 10-30% of Dalmatians being affected. Dogs with white coats and blue eyes are also more at risk. While life may be a challenge, it is not impossible. Here are some tips to help.

1. Consider getting another dog: A hearing-aid-dog for your dog? Why not?! Dogs can form amazing bonds, and many fully able-bodied dogs are happy to pick up the slack for their less fortunate counterparts.

2. Touch: Your dog is going to need to lean on you for support a little more than a “normal” dog. Keeping constant contact while on walks can be comforting. Try a relaxed heel position, that keeps the dog’s shoulder in close proximity to your leg so they always know you are there, even if just slightly out of sight.

3. Use food rewards: Nothing says “good job” like a yummy treat. No mixed signals there!

4. Protect your dog: All too often people take advantage of a dog’s good nature, and push them past their comfort limits. To avoid an unfortunate event from taking place, do not allow people in public to pet your dog, unless under your direction and supervision. Your dog may be well accustomed to you touching it, but a child running up and patting their bum announced should be a big no-no.

6. Keep them on a leash: Do not take safety for granted. Protect them by keeping them safe, and close to you at all times when exploring our big world.
5. Use lights to guide them: You let your dog out in your safely fenced yard for a potty break at night. You cannot call them back inside. Use a flash light and turn it on, and off a few times, to alert the dog’s attention to you as a way to lure them back inside. Alternatively, you could flash the porch light on and off.

7. Use your scent: For instances where the dog is sleeping and you need to rouse them, do not grab them to wake them. This, of course, could have a bad outcome. Instead, simply place your hand in front of their nose. The dog will become aware of your concentrated scent and know you are near. Making a habit of getting your dog used to this as a way to wake them can be a gentle, stress free, and safer way than the alternative.

8. Desensitize to touch: One of the biggest concerns with having a deaf dog is the element of surprise. You do not want to startle a deaf dog. Getting your dog used to touch through desensitization, with positive association, is a good thing to practice on the regular. When your dog is relaxed, touch them, then immediately follow with a treat. Rather than the dog having a bad reaction, they are building the association is touch=treat.

9. Alert: You can alert the dog to your presence if they haven’t taken notice yet by tapping your foot on the floor as you enter a room. They may not be able to hear it, but they will feel the vibrations and look around.

10. Learn Sign Language: Communication is the key to a great relationship with any dog. It may be fairly common knowledge that a dog with hearing impairments will need to be taught to hand signals, but why not take that a step further and explore sign language. Your dog is capable of learning hundreds of words; they can pick up sign just as well. Dogs are masters at body language after all. You could ask your dog if they would like to go to the park, outside, or who is at the door; or have a whole conversation, instead of just asking them plain old “sit” or “down”. If you are up for the challenge, this is an excellent link to a helpful video to show you the possibilities are endless. https://deafdogsrock.com/beginning-sign-training

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10 Signs Your Dog May Have Allergies or Food Sensitivities

By Katie Shannon

Just like people, dogs can suffer from allergies and food sensitivities. While more dogs have sensitives than true allergies, both can have a devastating impact on the overall health of your dog. Allergies can stem from food as well as environmental elements, and diagnosing them can be incredibly difficult. One of the best ways to work with food allergies is to put your dog on a strict diet; it is understandable the last thing you want is someone else feeding your pet unknown food.

1. Anaphylaxis: Is an extreme emergency. You need veterinary assistance immediately; we are talking minutes here. You may not know the cause of the reaction, but it does not matter. Your dog is in severe medical distress and needs life saving assistance and medications only a veterinarian can provide. Symptoms are sudden (and usually severe) vomiting, diarrhea, shock, seizures, coma and even death.

2. Breathing: The respiratory system is complex and vast, and very likely to be implicated in a severe allergic reaction. Pay attention to a runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, raspy, difficult or labored breathing. If things get bad do not hesitate to get your best buddy the support he needs from a veterinarian.

3. Mugshot: That cute little face of your favorite pooch is home to a number of sensitive organs and health indicators. Watch for facial and tongue swelling, pain and abnormalities.

4. Red, Itchy or Water Eyes: Eyes may be the window to the soul, but they are also so sensitive they can help you SEE if there is a problem. Irritation of the eyes is not to be ignored. They are incredibly sensitive and prone to being damaged if left or improperly treated. Please consult with your vet if your dog is experiencing any issues with their eyes.
Now, if your dog has a serious allergy, the following symptoms require immediate attention. Please see your vet, and in the case of extreme allergies, take all necessary preventative precautions you can.

5. Obsessive licking: It can be a gross and nasty habit. No doubt, your dog will wait until you have a room filled with company and take to licking themselves compulsively. Anal glands may be to blame, butt (pun intended) bum problems are not fun for anyone. Please have that looked at, asap.

6. Chewing their feet: Though dogs may lick and chew their legs and feet for a number of reasons, the most common cause is allergy related. Often red or rusty colored staining of the fur will occur between the toes. Behavioral habits, punctures, and irritation may cause excessive licking or chewing, however, if your dog seems to be making a regular habit of this, it is wise to look a bit more closely at the diet.

7. Ear infections: Does your dog have a chronic ear problem that may go away temporarily with treatment, but alas returns a short time later? If your dog is a swimmer, it could be a case of swimmers ear, but if not, food is again a suspect for the cause. Mind you, take into account general hygiene habits, like regular cleaning, hair plucking, and physical conformation can play a part in overall reductions in non-diet related ear problems.

8. Constant Scratching: Both allergic reactions and sensitivities can create red, itchy and/or inflamed skin, to varying degrees. In extreme cases can result in hot spots, hair loss, bald patches, flaky skin and abrasions. Soothing shampoos, medicated baths, and ointments, along with prescription medications can help temporarily calm flare ups, but ultimately figuring out the cause and avoiding the culprit is the only long term solution.

9. Vomiting: Frequent or severe vomiting is a sign of internal distress, again usually from a sensitivity. Some dogs may be more prone to upset tummies than others. Try ruling out a food sensitivity by changing your dog’s feeding schedule. A dog that vomits in the morning may be a result of stomach acid build up on an empty stomach and not caused by an allergy. Try feeding smaller meals more often and see if that helps.

10. Bowel movements: Diarrhea, loose stool or frequent trips outside; these are all indicators of a food problem, usually more of a sensitivity than an allergy. Knowing what is “normal” for your dog is key, but also understanding how different types of food, especially base ingredients in kibble with grains vs. grain-free foods, or proteins can affect consistency.

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10 Tips for Living with a Nervous Dog

BY Katie Shannon @pet_IQ

Living with a nervous dog is a challenging problem. Owners need to be realistic about their goals and what outcome they desire. Not every dog can learn to be completely comfortable in situations that make them nervous. Although working towards that outcome should be the ultimate goal, one must understand that improvement, at any level, is the desired response and a victory for both you and the dog. The main focus while living with a nervous dog should always be keeping them within their comfort zone, work on building confidence and take great pride in improvements that happen along the way.

1. Study body language: Learn how to read your dog and what their body language is telling you about how they are feeling. Ask yourself “what are you doing to help or hinder the situation?”. Petting a nervous dog on top of the head causes them to shrink down, physically. It is a submissive position for the dog. Instead, stroke them under the chin, and offer a good chest rub. You will see how your dog sits up a little straighter and heightens their pose. You are helping to uplift the dog, literally, and their spirits.

2. Quit while your dog is ahead: On days that your dog is making progress, when they gain that extra ounce of courage, stop them while things are on the positive side, way before something has the chance to go wrong. If you push that extra little bit, and something goes wrong, you not lost any advancements made but will have a tough time coming back from that setback.

3. Give positive feedback: At some point along the path to over coming their fears, dogs will begin to show interest in the object that once scared them. At this point, you need to gently encourage, with calm praise. Even if this is only a tiny advancement, praise, praise, praise. Allow the dog to set the pace.

4. Settle for tiny victories: Use space between your dog and the object that makes them nervous as a guideline for their comfort level. If on every walk, for example, you encounter something scary, take note at how much space is between you and it/them when your dog begins to show signs of discomfort. Over time, when you notice that you are able to get that tiny little bit closer before the reaction occurs, call it a day, and a success, and remove the dog from the situation. There is no need to rush and push a dog through this to get them ‘over’ this problem. A step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction.

5. Use your actions to create a positive response in your dog: If you are the brink of encountering a situation or object that you know will set your dog off, use silly voices and make the situation light. Your dog is looking to you for a reaction and feedback. You need to bluff about what an innocent thing awaits ahead. For example, in a high and light voice “Oh look at that big group of people ahead, this is no big deal, we got this!” as you take a wide swing around them to provide space, and comfort, for your dog.

6. Practice simple obedience: Further to the point above, training is also a healthy distraction when there is something scary lurking nearby. Create a diversion for your dog by asking the dog to perform a task until the ‘scary thing’ is out of sight.

7. Focus on building confidence: Practice anything the dog can do well, lots! This can be simple obedience cues or playtime. By allowing the dog to do a job, well, can do a lot for their confidence.

8. Provide a safe environment: Comfort is a key factor for working with a shy or nervous dog. You want to expose them to difficult situations slowly, and maintain a level of comfort the dog is capable of functioning in.

9. Consult with a professional: For the inexperienced, this is the no time for DIY. Working with an experienced behaviorist/trainer to guide you and your dog through situations can provide you with an action plan and know-how to work on overcoming the fear. A consultation with your veterinarian should also be performed. Nervousness, shyness, and fear can stem from environmental, behavioral, psychological, genetic, and medical conditions. In extreme cases, medication may be useful or required.

10. Know your dog’s threshold: “Threshold” is a term used by trainers to gauge a dog’s comfort level. As a nervous dog owner, it is important to know and understand your dog’s comfort level- keeps them under the threshold, or within their comfort level, while exposing them to new things, and working on training. Terrorizing a dog by pushing too hard can be detrimental to their progress and result in bigger setbacks.