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Anyone who owns dogs has seen this stance and many other stances from our beloved pet after he has relieved himself. He’s gets quite protective of his remains as if he’s ready for war with anyone goes near. As a professional pet sitter, it is my least favorite task to do. You know, scooping the poop. But we all have to do what we have to, to keep the finances flowing .
The Question Remains : What is the purpose of these dogs scratching, protecting and burying with their paws after they eliminate?
This has actually been a popular discussion topic lately on Facebook and other groups I’m involved with. We’re determined to understand the psychosis meaning of this dog behavior.
Dogs of both sexes commonly scratch or scrape the ground with their hind paws immediately after defecating. Some dogs also perform this action after urinating. This is a normal behavior — it’s your dog’s way of leaving a scent and visual message to other hounds that might pass by later. Wolves, the ancestors of domestic dogs, perform this behavior for the same reason.
Dogs have scent glands under their paws and in between their toes. When the dog scrapes at the ground near his fresh poop pile, the scent from these glands is transferred to the ground. Before dogs became domesticated, it was useful to mark their territory using the scent from their glands. Wild dogs, and their wolf ancestors, use this method of marking to protect territories that were too large to patrol each day. Message
When wolves and dogs roamed wild, they needed to warn other animals away from their territory. This was the dogs’ way of protecting their food sources, for example, the rabbits living in their territory, and also their breeding females. You might think that the dog’s feces is sufficiently pungent to warn off competing animals, but much of the scent is lost once the feces dries out. The scent from the dog’s feet glands is more enduring. Additionally, the long and deep scrape marks left by the dog’s paws and claws let other dogs know that your dog is strong and powerful. Health Concerns
If your dog usually scrapes the ground after defecating, it can be a warning sign if she stops this behavior. When dogs develop arthritis or other health problems affecting their mobility, they may stop scraping. As arthritis progresses, dogs may have trouble reaching a squatting position for defecation. This can lead to problems with the dog soiling herself. Practical Considerations
A dog’s scraping after defecation can make cleaning up his poop more awkward. It’s best just to let your dog finish his scraping before you bend down to pick up his poop, otherwise you risk getting dirt or worse kicked up into your face. Most dogs will not tread in their own poop as they scrape, as they spread their paws wide enough to avoid the feces. Unlike cats, dogs do not scrape and scratch to cover up their poop. The intention is to leave the feces visible to other dogs, with an extra marking scent surrounding the poop. Don’t try to train your dog out of scraping as it’s a natural and instinctive behavior that takes only a little time and doesn’t cause significant damage to the landscape.
As Positive as I have wanted this year to be, I have tone be honest and say it’s been a tough. The 2nd half of last year, I lost two relatives that were very close to me. I found comfort in their passing, because both of the relatives had lived such long productive. And they were constantly with family and surrounded by family during their passing. I was heartbroken but I was able to get closer quickly because they both left this world they way wanted. And they had the most valuable thing on this earth, family and love.
I promised myself to make sure to make this year productive and happy. Most people that know me, knows I myself have dealt with all my life with an Immune disorder called Lupus or SLE. I don’t worry about myself. I’ve been to hell and back with this illness. Yet I believe I am one of the more fortunate ones out of those that suffer thru illness. This year I’m completely out of remission. I’ve been seriousl you depressed. But out of everything in this world that can keep a smile on my face and make me feel so loved really are my pets. Yes I have family that love me unconditionally . It’s just a difference when it’s your own pets. They are naive, highly spirited, love unconditionally. There’s never been a day that passed that I did giggle( and hard) over some of the craziest things they do. Ask me what I value the most in this world, the love of my pets is obviously way up there.
Well, on August 25, 2016 , my favorite baby girl , LoLa Bella, died all of the sudden. The night before death, she looked up at me and because she is always happy, I didn’t picked up on the reason she stared at me so long and lovingly. She slept in my arms the entire night that night. I got up rhat morning to get ready for work, then I heard a thump. It was my LoLa Bella. She had fallen on the floor and couldn’t. It scared me, I didn’t even finish getting dressed. I just picked her up and ran to Veterinarian. I was crying, fluttered and rushing and asking her ” please let mommy know you’re OK.
I felt liquid water run down my legs as I’m driving quickly to vet. I’m begging p,ease don’t die on me. When we got ,the doctor took her immediately. And he looked scared and told me, she died. I stood there completely in shock and begged to please resuscitate her. And he is trying to say he can’t. I thought it was a bad dream and I was trying to wake up. That never came. This was real life. He examined her and realize she was ill. I said but Imy her mom. I should know when she gets ill. And that is when he tried to me about an illness in pets called Acute Hemolytic Anemia. I’m shocked and for someone that has been in Pharmaceuticals for years, his words sounded foreign. I broke down and cried., cried and cried. I’m asking how did this happen,? No one has ever mentionedone, she had a disorder. She at the vet , once a year, and she was only 4 years old. He said an Acute Attack can begin then end a dog’s life within that same 24 hour time. He told me , you would not have ever known.
So after a few days of non crying, I called the vet back and asked him to explain to mexpress, what happened. He said he examined her and could tell by gums this is what killed her.
Matter of fact this is what helse told. Your LoLa had Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. Better known as IAHA. Itso a disease that can lie dormant in the body, and then suddenly attack the red blood cells. You know , like Lupus. He says her body attacked itself and it is hard to save the animal, because it eats away at the red blood cells quickly. Also, the acute IMHA will kill them in 24 hours quick. That is why LOLa Bella died so quickly. He also says some dogs are saved because they may have had the slower version of the illness. However, even the dogs whose body is attacked at a slower the rate, still dies. He told me there was no way you have noticed . Only unless your in medicine. I would not have caught the red because you wouldn’t know what to look for. But if they have very pale white gums, it’s a big red sign, and you would need to bring the pet in right away.
When that conversation ended, I broke down crying for hours. I couldn’t work , eat, or control the fact that I literally cried for two weeks. I really thought this nightmare would end. Well it didn’t. After two weeks of non stop crying , I decided to research this illness, and find a support group to deal with it. This has happened to so many pet owners. The strangest thing, though is when I’m sick,( I am dealing with Lupus and R.A.), my pets in some forms is going thru the same as myself. I’ve been extremely anemic and getting weekly blood transfusions and iron infusion. I would have gladly given my medicine to my LoLa.
So what is IMHA (IMMUNE MEDIATED HEMOLYTIC ANEMIA) ?
The red blood cells serve the crucial function of carrying oxygen to the cells in the body and picking up carbon dioxide.Anemia is a condition that arises when the number of red blood cells falls below normal values, or the red blood cells function improperly. There are many diseases and conditions that can cause anemia in dogs. A low red blood cell count can be the result of blood loss, the destruction of the red blood cells, or an inadequate production of new red blood cells.
When your dog has IMHA, it means his immune system destroys its own red blood cells. Your dog’s body still produces red blood cells in the bone marrow to replace the destroyed cells, but once they are released into circulation, the immune system mistakenly recognizes them as something foreign, like a virus or infection, and destroys them. This condition is also referred to as autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)
There are two forms of IMHA: primary (or idiopathic), and secondary IMHA.
With primary IMHA, your dog’s immune system mistakenly produces antibodies that attack its own red blood cells. This is the most common cause of anemia in dogs.With secondary IMHA, the surface of your dog’s red blood cells is modified by an underlying disease process, drug, or toxin. Your dog’s immune system identifies the modified red blood cells as something foreign and destroys them. When too many red blood cells are destroyed and not replaced quickly enough by bone marrow, the patient becomes anemic. Secondary IMHA can be triggered by a variety of conditions, such as:
These symptoms can vary from dog to dog and depend upon the underlying cause of IMHA. In some situations (mild or early IMHA), your dog may present no signs at all!
When a dog is anemic, it is important to identify the underlying cause. Your veterinarian may recommend particular tests, depending on your pet’s symptoms and history. These tests may include:
A complete blood count to identify if your dog is anemic, and, if so, to determine whether or not his body is responding to
the anemia by producing new red blood cells
A reticulocyte count to identify if your dog’s body is responding to the anemia by making new red blood cells
A blood film to look for parasites and blood cell characteristics
Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
Electrolyte tests to ensure your dog isn’t dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance
Urine tests to screen for urinary tract infection and other disease, and to evaluate the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine
Fecal analysis to evaluate for intestinal parasites
Patient-side screening for vector-borne disease
Specialized tests that can help identify underlying infectious disease (e.g., various titers, PCR testing)
Treatment of IMHA depends on the severity of the condition. Your veterinarian will determine whether your dog needs intensive care or can be treated as an outpatient. Treatment often includes a variety of drugs and close monitoring of your pet’s vital signs and laboratory values. With secondary IMHA, treatment of the underlying cause is critical for recovery. Your veterinarian will recommend blood and other diagnostic tests including radiographs and ultrasound to try to determine if your pet’s IMHA is primary or secondary.
Your veterinarian may also recommend you see a specialist to help outline the best treatment plan possible, particularly if your dog requires 24-hour monitoring or specialty testing. The prognosis of a dog diagnosed with IMHA is dependent upon the underlying cause, the severity of disease, and the stage at which the disease is diagnosed. Your veterinarian can best help you understand your pet’s prognosis based on his specific diagnosis, overall health, and history.
Every year, millions of people — mostly children — are bit by dogs, and experts say most cases were preventable.
In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which runs May 15-21, here are five tips to prevent bites. However, it is important to note that these prevention methods are reserved for non-aggressive dogs; canines that have already bitten or even growled and barked should be seen by a veterinary behaviorist or behavior consultant.
Problem to prevent: Your dog bites a person or dog while off-leash (at home or away). Prevention: Early conditioning (or remedial counter conditioning) People = good news for dogs. Teaching dogs that humans are safe is key and the earlier the better. Proper puppy socialization classes are highly recommended. In addition, teaching simple tasks, like coming when called, and manners, like sit and down, are also good tools to guide our dogs away from people if the dog becomes frightened or overwhelmed.
Problem to prevent: Your dog bites humans who reach for him. Prevention: Teach your dog to gently touch a human hand (hand targeting). This prevents bites by giving your dog a specific task to do when he sees a human hand reaching for him – touch it gently with his nose. Because we use reinforcement-based training, this also teaches your dog (or puppy) that human hands are safe. Touching the hand yields a treat.
Problem to prevent: Your dog bites a person or dog on a walk. Prevention: Teach your dog to follow you on leash and change directions when cued. Not all dogs or people will want to meet your dog, even if he’s friendly. Teaching your dog to calmly follow your directions on walks will prevent frustration and possible aggression as a result. Teaching your friendly dog to properly approach and interact with people on walks will also prevent bites.
Problem to prevent: Your dog bites a human who bumps, startles or steps on him. Prevention: Teach your dog to give humans personal space and not crowd them unless invited to do so. Dogs are very sensitive to personal space and can learn to move out of the way when humans approach them. It’s good manners and it helps teach them to be aware of human movement. Since we train this with praise and treats, there is no fear associated with the movement. Fear fuels aggression, so it’s best not to scare our dogs when training them.
Problem to prevent: Your dog bites people when he becomes frightened or stressed. Prevention: Teach your dog to calm himself by making better behavior choices on his own. For example, teach them how to settle themselves on a mat. It’s a unique process called “shaping,” which basically engages the dog’s brain and helps him figure out how to go to the mat and relax on his own.
First, I must say I did not write this. This is a blog written by Rodney Habib. Here is his blog address: www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com. This blog caught my attention because I have been guilty of giving rawhide, flat or bone shaped, to my dogs. This blog presents excellent information on why we, pet owners, need to stop feeding this to our dogs. There are also excellent advice from , Dr. Becker and Dogington Post. PLEASE ENJOY!
How can one of the most popular chew sticks on the planet be so dangerous for your pets, you ask?
I mean, most dogs chew on rawhide for hours on end, and not only does it keep them busy, but they seem to last forever.
Well if you understood what it took to make this toxic “raw” leather stick, you would quickly understand what the problem is.
Aside from the horror stories circulating all over social media these days, of pets needing emergency surgery after consuming rawhide, the majority of pet parents today, especially the newbies, believe that this chew is some sort of dried up meat stick.
Let me debunk that myth right away!
A rawhide stick is not the by-product of the beef industry nor is it made of dehydrated meat. Rather, rawhide is the by-product of the “Leather Industry”, so theoretically it is a leather chew.
Sounds awesome, right? How It’s Made
“Producing rawhide begins with the splitting of an animal hide, usually from cattle. The top grain is generally tanned and made into leather products, while the inner portion, in its “raw” state, goes to the dogs.” TheBark.com
So, how does this leather, which is conveniently rolled up into pretty shapes, actually get made into those rawhide chews?
Follow along my friends and I will enlighten you on how this hide travels through a leathery process where it transforms from hide to a not-so beautiful, colorful, chew stick. Here is a paraphrased tutorial that was explained by the whole dog journal several years back:
STEP 1: To The Tannery
Normally, cattle hides are shipped from slaughterhouses to tanneries for processing. These hides are then treated with a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product during transport to help prevent spoilage.
(No one wants to purchase a black, spoiled rawhide stick!)
Once at the tannery: the hides are soaked and treated with either an ash-lye solution or a highly toxic recipe of sodium sulphide liming. This process will help strip the hair and fat that maybe attached to the hides themselves.
No, no one wants to see a hairy hide…)
Next on this glorious journey, these hides are then treated with chemicals that help “puff” the hide, making it easier to split into layers.
The outer layer of the hide is used for goods like car seats, clothing, shoes, purses, etc. But, it’s the inner layer that is needed to make the rawhide. (Oh and other things like gelatin, cosmetics, and glue as well!)
STEP 2: Cleansed In Chemicals
Now that we have the inner layer of the hide, it’s time to go to the post-tannery stage! Hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach; this will also help remove the smell of the rotten or putrid leather.
(Research also shows that other chemicals maybe used here to help the whitening process if the bleach isn’t strong enough.)
STEP 3: Make It Look Pretty
Now it’s time to make these whitened sheets of this “leathery by-product” look delicious! So, here is where the artistic painting process comes in.
“Basted, smoked, and decoratively tinted products might be any color (or odor) underneath the coating of (often artificial) dyes and flavors. They can even be painted with a coating of titanium oxide to make them appear white and pretty on the pet store shelves.” – whole-dog-journal.com
“…the Material Safety Data Sheet reveals a toxic confection containing the carcinogen FD&C Red 40, along with preservatives like sodium benzoate. But tracking the effects of chemical exposure is nearly impossible when it’s a matter of slow, low-dose poisoning.”– thebark.com
Ok, now that these hides have been painted, it’s time for the final process.
STEP 4: Getting It To Last Forever!
When tested: Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Chromium salts, Formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals have been detected in raw hides.
So it’s safe to say that any sort of glues can be used as well!
Finally, it’s time to package and attach all the glorious marketing labels to the product.
Check out the fine print warning that’s attached with some of these rawhides:
[box type=”alert”]“Choking or blockages. If your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.”[/box]
(Oh, how lovely…)
And there it is! It’s now ready to be shipped to store shelves where it can be purchased for our loving animal companions.
How do proactive veterinarians feel about these chews?
Here is world-renowned veterinarian Doctor Karen Becker’s take on the matter:
“The name ‘rawhide’ is technically incorrect. A more accurate name would be processed-hide, because the skin isn’t raw at all. But the term “rawhide” has stuck.
Rawhide chews start out hard, but as your dog works the chew it becomes softer, and eventually he can unknot the knots on each end and the chew takes on the consistency of a slimy piece of taffy or bubble gum. And by that time your dog cannot stop working it — it becomes almost addictive.
At this point, there’s no longer any dental benefit to the chew because it has turned soft and gooey, and, in fact, it has become a choking and intestinal obstruction hazard.”
Ready for the jaw dropper?
An investigation by Humane Society International stated in their report, “In a particularly grisly twist, the skins of brutally slaughtered dogs in Thailand are mixed with other bits of skin to produce rawhide chew toys for pet dogs. Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in U.S. stores.” – dogingtonpost.com
Happy New Year Everyone! Anyone else out there has had panic attacks when they see their dog in the cat dish or the cat in the dog food ? I know I’m not the only who has worried if they have messed with their pets’ diet mistakenly. I am a worry wart when it comes to my kiddies. So I was excited when I read this article by Dr. Becker and it brought some relief. I wanted to share these words with you. Dr. Becker is a veterinarian with a wealth of knowledge and writes her own articles. so please enjoy!
Got Cats and Dogs? Do This in a Pinch, But Don’t Make a Habit of It By Dr. Becker
Many pet parents – especially those with both a canine and feline in the family – wonder if there’s really a difference between dog and cat food. This question often comes up when a pet owner runs out of one type of food and wonders if there’s any harm in feeding Fido a little of Fluffy’s food, or vice versa.
Another time the question arises is when a particularly finicky dog turns up his nose at his own meal, but dives head first into the cat’s food bowl.
The answer? Generally speaking, a healthy dog or cat will not suffer one iota from eating a meal intended for the other species. If healthy Fido gobbles up a bowl of cat food while your back is turned, or you need to offer Fluffy some of Fido’s dog food in a pinch, there’s no need for concern.
Obligate Carnivore (Cat) versus Scavenging Carnivore (Dog)
The reason dog food differs from cat food is because each species requires its own nutrient profile for optimal health. Felines and canines are both carnivores (meat eaters), but with a very important distinction. Cats are obligate carnivores, whereas dogs are scavenging carnivores.
The definition of an obligate carnivore:
An obligate carnivore (or true carnivore) is an animal that must eat meat in order to thrive (Syufy 2008). They may eat other foods, such as fruits, honey, grains, and so forth, but meat must be included in their diet.
True carnivores lack the physiology required for the efficient digestion of vegetable matter, and, in fact, some carnivorous mammals eat vegetation specifically as an emetic.
The domestic cat is a prime example of an obligate carnivore, as are all of the other felids (Pierson 2008).1
Dogs are scavenging, or facultative carnivores, which in general terms means they are primarily meat-eaters, but can survive on plant material alone if necessary. The key word here is “survive.” To survive is not to thrive. To thrive is to grow vigorously. To survive means simply to stay alive.
One of the arguments for feeding dogs grain or plant-based or even vegetarian diets seems to be the distinction between obligate and scavenging carnivores. It’s assumed, since dogs aren’t strict carnivores like cats are, they can easily transition to a meatless diet. This is a dangerous misconception.
In fact, I often see dogs referred to as omnivores rather than carnivores. I strongly disagree with this assumption. Just because dogs fed plant-based diets are able to stay alive doesn’t make them omnivores. Taxonomically, dogs are in the Order Carnivora and the family Canidae along with other carnivorous mammals.
Cats Have a Unique Requirement for Animal Protein
Cats must eat animal meat and organs to meet their nutritional needs, and plant-based proteins (grains and vegetables) simply aren’t a good substitute. Cats lack the specific enzymes necessary to use plant proteins as efficiently as animal proteins.
The proteins derived from animal tissue contain a complete amino acid profile. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Plant-based proteins don’t contain all the amino acids critical for the health of an obligate carnivore.
Humans, who are omnivores, have the physiological ability to turn plant proteins into the missing pieces needed for a complete amino acid profile. To a very limited extent dogs can do this, but a cat’s body isn’t equipped for it whatsoever.
Cats also need much more protein in their diet than other animals. Kittens require 1.5 times more protein than puppies. Adult cats need 2 to 3 times the amount adult dogs require.
One of the reasons for this is because while other mammal species use most of the protein they consume for growth and body maintenance, cats use protein for those purposes and also as a source of energy.
When other species of animals are fed a low-protein diet, their bodies make adjustments to conserve amino acids to manage the deficit. But a cat’s body must continue to use protein even when there’s not enough in the diet, which is why protein malnutrition happens quickly in sick or injured cats, and cats suffering from anorexia.
In addition to their increased need for protein, cats also have a higher requirement for certain specific amino acids found naturally in animal tissue.
One of the amino acids missing in plants is taurine, which is found in animal muscle meat, in particular the heart and liver. Taurine deficiency causes serious health problems in cats, including cardiovascular disease and blindness. Dogs can make their own taurine.
Cats Also Have a Unique Dietary Requirement for Certain Vitamins
Cats evolved hunting a different set of prey species than dogs did, so their dietary requirements are different than dogs. Cats have a special requirement for vitamin A, which is available naturally only in animal tissue. They lack the intestinal enzymes necessary to convert B-carotene in plants to the active form of vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for maintenance of vision, growth of bone and muscle, reproduction, and the health of epithelial tissues.
Cats also require 5 times more dietary thiamine (vitamin B1) than dogs do. A thiamine deficiency can result in a poor quality coat, loss of appetite, hunched posture, neurologic problems including seizures, and even death. Unfortunately, thiamine isn’t stable in commercial pet foods and levels drop significantly the longer the food is stored, so many cats may be deficient unless they are eating very fresh food.
Vitamin D is also essential in the diets of all mammals. Cats (and dogs) must consume vitamin D in their diet (they can’t synthesize it through their skin). The liver and fatty tissue of prey animals is rich in vitamin D.
Arachidonic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that dogs can make themselves, but cats must get from their diet.
Cats Also Need a Moisture-Dense Diet
Another distinctive biological feature of cats is their need to get most of their water intake from the food they eat.
Domestic kitties — who evolved from desert-dwelling ancestors, after all — are not as responsive as other animals to sensations of thirst or dehydration. Unlike dogs who drink frequently from their water bowls, when fed a diet devoid of moisture (e.g., kibble), cats aren’t driven to search for another source of water to make up the difference between what their bodies require and what their diet provides.
This can result in chronic mild dehydration, a condition that will ultimately result in disease, especially of the feline lower urinary tract and kidneys. Species-Appropriate Diets Are the Best Option for Both Dogs and Cats
Obviously, cats can’t thrive on a diet designed for dogs. And while dogs may be able to survive on cat food, it’s certainly not an optimal diet for them.
Diets designed for kitties are significantly higher in calories, protein, and fat than dogs require. A steady diet of cat food fed to even a very healthy dog may ultimately result in an overweight pet who suffers bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, and is at increased risk for pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening.
So as I said earlier, in a pinch, a healthy dog can eat a meal of cat food, or a healthy cat can eat a meal of dog food.
A better option, of course, is to offer your dog or cat species-appropriate safe human food until you can home prepare or purchase more of his regular food.
Note: This isn’t my blog. This blog comes from a Trainer on Dogster.com. She makes Excellent Points
As a trainer, every day I see the negative consequences of dogs being off-leash when they shouldn’t.
By: Annie Phenix
Let me be blunt with you, dear reader. We have a big problem in the canine community, and it’s ruining dogsWe require leashes for valid reasons, No. 1 being safety for all concerned: safety not only for you and your dog but for all of the dogs and humans out and about. There are leash laws in most cities – you can be fined for not using one in places that require it. And yet … some of you dog owners have decided that this crucial law does NOT apply to your dog.
I work with clients to make them better on-leash walkers. (Photo by Tica Clarke Photography)
I read the sad consequences caused by a dog being off-leash every single day on trainer forums. Many responsible owners are walking their dog-aggressive (reactive) dog on leash precisely to keep their dog from having to come face to face with YOUR off-leash dog. You can set such a dog’s training right back to square one if you let your dog greet their dog while off-leash. This may be breaking news to some, but not all dogs want to say hi to every dog they see every day. Do you – as a verbal human – always want to say hi and hug everyone you see? I didn’t think so. Also, here are just a few things that can happen to your roving un-leashed Rover:
He can be hit by a car. He can jump on an elderly person and knock them over.
He can harass wildlife.
He can mow down children.
He can get in the face of every other dog out that day, some of whom will respond with aggression.
He can get in a dog fight that will frighten both dogs and will likely result in an expensive vet bill.
After you pay that vet bill, you may now be the owner of one of those dogs who cannot stand to have off-leash dogs in his face.
He can be shot, even in a city park (it’s happening in Colorado and other places).
He can eat something that may kill him.
Even my well-trained dogs, Radar and Echo, must abide by leash laws. (Photo by Tica Clarke Photography)
Yes, my dear dog owner, I understand that dogs DO enjoy and probably need a good run now and again. Just because that’s true, that does not make it okay for you to allow that to happen in a public location where leashes are the law. You are endangering your own dog and every other dog when you do this.
So what can you do to help your active dog out? Here are some solutions:
1). If your dog is truly people and dog friendly, take him to a fenced-in dog park. Most cities have them. Please do not take aggressive dogs there, however. It does no one any good, most especially dogs.
2). Work with a certified, force-free trainer to help your dog learn to walk nicely on a leash.
3). Once your dog is comfortable not pulling you across town on that leash, consider jogging or riding a bike with your leashed dog.
4). Consider learning a sport such as nose work that you can do in your own home and in all kinds of weather. It might be even more fun for your dog than a walk outside.
5). Smelling and sniffing for a dog is incredibly important, perhaps even more so than a good run. Take your dog on neighborhood sniffing walks where you allow your dog to sniff – on leash – whatever he wants to sniff.
6). Use mind puzzles at home to keep your dog mentally stimulated.
Leashes keep dogs safe and from being chased by other dogs (Photo by Annie Phenix)
In case I haven’t been clear enough, here is what I will leave you with:
For the love of Dog, do not be that person chasing after your unleashed dog as he gallops right into the face of someone’s leashed dog, calling out as you come panting up: “He’s friendly! He just wants to say hi!”
It is rude behavior, both in terms of canine behavior and human behavior. More than half of the dogs who end up in my reactive dog class are there because they have been confronted, scared, and sometimes physically hurt by on off-leash dog.
Leash. Your. Dog.
It is the law, and for very good reasons.
And yet … so many dog owners have decided that this crucial law does NOT apply to their dog. Why do those of you who allow your dog to run free in cities feel that your dog is above the law?
What do you think about this? Do you agree or disagree with me? Let me know in the comments.
Veterinary experts are warning about a rare epidemic of canine dog flu spreading in the U.S. that has sickened more than 1000 dogs and already caused the deaths of five and it hasn’t stopped there.
With such a significant increase in cases of the respiratory illness, There are posted warnings advising dog owners to keep their pets clear of places where dogs can be in close contact with other dogs. Dogs that socialize at places like parks, day care, boarding, group training classes or groomers are at higher risk for catching the highly contagious condition.
Dr. Anne Cohen, an emergency and critical care specialty veterinarian told ABC News that a canine flu shot exists, but not all dogs need it. And while the two-shot vaccination (spaced three weeks apart) may not ward off the illness altogether, it can reduce the length and severity of the illness. For full protection, Cohen says animals need a booster shot yearly. The vaccination isn’t typically recommended for all dogs, but because of this outbreak it is being recommended for those at high risk, including dogs under 1 year old or older than 7 years, and those with compromised immune systems. The outbreak may take several weeks to subside, and animal experts are encouraging dog owners to take dogs to their veterinarian immediately if they notice any of the symptoms.
The disease starts out similar to kennel cough and can spread through interaction with other dogs. But unlike kennel cough, symptoms of canine influenza can escalate and are much more severe. They include persistent and lingering cough, runny nose, suppressed appetite, lethargy, and depression. The illness is treatable, but the canine influenza vaccination is not immediately effective, so owners must try to keep their dogs out of social situations with other dogs for the time being. Dogs can be contagious even if they are not showing any symptoms.
“We are very dependent on it. We are a private agency. We rely on donors,” Dr. Robyn Barbiers, The Anti-Cruelty Society, told ABC7. “People will see we’re doing the right thing. We’re doing the difficult thing. It’s going to hurt us, but we’re doing it for the health of the animals.”
Veterinarians say that canine flu is rarely fatal, but stress that it’s critical to watch your pet and see your veterinarian if your dog shows any symptoms. Being proactive with early treatment can make all of the difference.
Here are a few quick tips to help you protect your furry family members:
1. Avoid social situations like dog parks and kennels. Anywhere your dog could come into contact with other dogs. Remember they don’t have to have symptoms to be contagious.
2. If you come into contact with other dogs wash your hands, clothes and anything that has come into contact with the other dog or dogs. Better to be safe than sorry.
3. Vaccinate your dog.
4. Get educated about the dog flu, how your dog can get it, how to protect your dog and what to do if your dog is showing symptoms.
5. Talk to your veterinarian. If you have any questions or concerns, always consult an expert.
Boy, do I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say their dog was “hyperactive” or “ADHD” – I’d be a wealthy woman. In fact, those are clinical terms referring to very specific behavioral disorders (canine and human) that are relatively uncommon in dogs. In reality, most “hyper” dogs are just under-exercised. A couple of days hiking at the Peaceable Paws farm and you’d hardly know them.
Not every dog owner has access to large tracts of acreage upon which to exercise their unruly canines, and in any case, “wild child canine syndrome” (WCCS) is more than just lack of exercise; it’s also lack of appropriate reinforcement for calm behavior – i.e., training. Unfortunately, all too often a dog loses his happy home – maybe even his life, as a result of his high-energy behavior.
We’ve seen several of these WCCS dogs at the training center in recent weeks. One private client decided to return her Shar-Pei-mix to the rescue from whence the pup came. Despite her best intentions and efforts, the client had mobility challenges that made it impossible for her to provide the pup with the exercise and management she needed. As painful as it was for the owner, returning the pup was the right decision.
WCCS dogs often include inappropriate biting in their repertoire of undesirable behaviors. We currently have a temporary foster resident at the training center: a 13-week-old high-energy Jack Russell Terrier who failed his assessment at the shelter for using his mouth in protest when restrained. Little Squid is a perfect example of the kind of dog who needs to learn self-control and the art of being calm.
A successful WCCS behavior modification program contains three elements: physical exercise, management, and training. While any one of these alone can make your high-energy dog easier to live with, apply all three for maximum success. Let’s look at each of these elements in greater detail.
Squid’s day begins with an hour of barn-play while we do chores. He delights in harassing our dogs (and our pig). He gets at least one long hike around the farm per day, preferably two, or even three. He also gets one or more sessions of ball/toy fetch in the training center, and some puppy socialization/play time when there’s a class going on. Finally, he wraps up his day with evening barn chores. Does it tire him out? No. I have yet to see him tired. But it does take the edge off, so that when I work with him to teach calm he is able to focus and participate in the training. The physical exercise sets him up for training success.
Not everyone has an 80-acre farm to play on. If you’re farm-deprived, there are other ways to provide exercise for your WCCS dog. A placid walk or three around the block won’t do it. Nor will leaving him on his own in your fenced backyard. He needs to be actively engaged.
Outings to your local well-run dog park can be a good exercise option. If you don’t have one in your area, invite compatible canines over to play in your dog’s fenced yard. If you don’t have one, invite yourself and your dog over to your dog-friend’s fenced yard for play dates.
Absent any access to a dog-friendly fenced yard, play with your dog on a long line. A 50-foot line gives him a 100-foot stretch to run back and forth and work his jollies off.
Caution: Work up to 50 feet gradually, so he learns where the end of the line is. You don’t want him to blast full-speed to the end of his long line and hurt himself. Also, wear long pants. A high-speed long-line wrapped around bare legs can give you a nasty rope burn.
If none of those work for you, having him wear a pack when you walk him, or even better, pull a cart (which takes significant training), or exercising him (safely) from a bicycle may be options for using up excess energy. If outside exercise is simply out of the question, here are some indoor activities that can help take the edge off:
-Find it. Most dogs love to use their noses. Take advantage of this natural talent by teaching yours the “Find It!” game:
1. Start with a handful of pea-sized tasty treats. Toss one to your left and say “Find it!” Then toss one to your other side and say “Find it!” Do this back and forth a half-dozen times.
2. Then have your dog sit and wait or stay, or have someone hold his leash. Walk 10 to 15 feet away and let him see you place a treat on the floor. Walk back to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” encouraging him to go get the treat. Repeat a half-dozen times.
3. Next, have your dog sit and wait or stay, or have someone hold his leash and let him see you “hide” the treat in an easy hiding place: behind a chair leg, under the coffee table, next to the plant stand. Walk back to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” encouraging him to go get the treat. Repeat a half-dozen times.
4. Again, have your dog sit and wait. This time hide several treats in easy places while he’s watching. Return to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” Be sure not to help him out if he doesn’t find them right away.
You can repeat the “find it” cue, and indicate the general area, but don’t show him where it is; you want him to have to work to find it.
5. Hide the treats in harder and harder places so he really has to look for them: surfaces off the ground; underneath things; and in containers he can easily open.
6. Finally, put him in another room while you hide treats. Bring him back into the room and tell him to “Find it!” and enjoy watching him work his powerful nose to find the goodies. Once you’ve taught him this step of the game you can use it to exercise him by hiding treats in safe places all over the house, and then telling him to “Find it!” Nose work is surprisingly tiring.
If you prefer something less challenging, just go back to Step 1 and feed your dog his entire meal by tossing pieces or kibble from one side to the other, farther and farther, with a “Find it!” each time. He’ll get a bunch of exercise just chasing after his dinner!
-Hide And Seek. This is a fun variation of the “Find it” game. Have your dog sit and wait (or have someone hold him) while you go hide yourself in another room of the house. When you’re hidden, call your dog’s name and say “Find me!” Make it easy at first so he can find you quickly and succeed. Reinforce him with whatever he loves best – treats, a game of “tug,” petting and praise, a tossed ball – or a combination of these. Then hide again. As he learns the game, make your hiding places harder and harder, so he has to really search. A trainer friend tells me she has hidden in bathtubs and closets, under beds, and even inside a cedar chest.
-Manners Minder. If you are into higher-tech exercise, use a treat dispenser called the Manners Minder that spits out treats when you push a button on the remote control. A Maryland trainer friend, Elizabeth Adamec of Sweet Wag Dog Training, shared her exercise secret with me for her high-energy adolescent Golden Retriever, Truman. This one is especially useful if you don’t feel like exercising along with your canine pal or can’t, due to physical restrictions of your own:
Teach your dog to use the Manners Minder, by showing him several times that when he hears the beep, a treats fall out of the machine. You can use his own dog food, if he really likes his food.
1. Set the machine a few feet away and have your dog sit next to you. Push the button, and let him go eat the treats. Repeat several times, encouraging him, if necessary, to go get the treats when he hears the beep.
2. Put the machine across the room, and have your dog sit next to you. Push the button, and watch him run over and eat the treats. If he’s not doing this with great enthusiasm, repeat Steps 1 and 2 several more times with higher value treats, until he really gets excited about the treats when he hears the beep.
3. Set the machine in the next room, and repeat the exercise several times. Call him back to you each time, so he runs to the Manners Minder when he hears the beep, eats the treat, and runs back to you to wait for the next beep. Gradually move the treat dispenser into rooms farther and farther away from you, until your dog has to run all the way across the house, or even upstairs, when he hears the beep. Now you can sit back with the TV remote in one hand, your dog’s remote in the other, and enjoy your favorite show while canine pal gets exercise and dinner, all at the same time.
There are tons of other ways to provide your dog with indoor exercise. Play tug. Teach him to bowl. Teach him to catch, then repeatedly toss him his ball 10 feet away and have him bring it back to you. Some trainers use treadmills and canine exercise wheels to exercise their dogs. (These must be carefully trained and supervised.) Get creative. Get busy. Have fun. Let the indoor games begin.
Successful positive training, especially for high-energy dogs, relies on the appropriate use of management tools to prevent the dog from practicing – and being reinforced for – undesirable behaviors. In between his many daily exercise and training sessions, Squid is either parked in an exercise pen in the barn tack room (with plenty of bathroom breaks outside), or in an outdoor kennel off the side of the training center.
Here are examples of when to use various management tools for your wild child dog:
Crates and Pens. Use crates and exercise pens when you can’t directly supervise his energy to consistently reinforce appropriate behaviors and prevent reinforcement for inappropriate ones. The best times for the appropriate use of crates and exercise pens include:
–When you can provide adequate exercise and social time in addition to his time in the crate or pen.
–When your dog has been properly introduced to the crate or pen and accepts it as a good place to be. Note: Dogs who suffer from isolation or separation distress or anxiety often do not crate or pen well.
–When you know you’ll be home in a reasonable period of time so you don’t force your dog to soil his den – no longer than one hour more than your pup’s age in months, no more than an outside maximum of eight to nine hours for adult dogs.
Leashes and Tethers. Leashes and tethers are useful for the “umbilical cord” technique of preventing your wild child from being reinforced for unwanted behaviors. With your dog near or attached to you, you can provide constant supervision. Also, with your dog tethered to your side, you should have many opportunities to reinforce him for appropriate behavior.
The leash can be hooked to waist belts that are designed for that purpose, or clipped to your belt or belt-loop with a carabineer. Your WCCS dog can’t zoom around the house if he’s glued to your side.
If inappropriate mouthing behavior is included in his high-energy repertoire, however, this may not be the best choice. Tethers are better for keeping this dog in view, with easy access for reinforcement of calm behavior, while keeping his teeth from your clothing or skin. Appropriate situations for the use of leashes and tethers include:
–For dogs who get into trouble when they are unsupervised.
-Leashed when your activities don’t preclude having a dog connected to you – okay for working on the computer; not okay for working out.
-Tethered when you want to keep your dog near but not directly connected to you, to teach good manners and/or prevent inappropriate behaviors.
Baby Gates and Doors. Baby gates and doors prevent your dog’s access to vulnerable areas when he’s in wild child mode. A baby gate across the nursery door keeps him safely on the other side while you’re changing diapers, but still lets him be part of the “baby experience.” Not to worry if the older kids left their stuffed toys strewn across the bedroom floor; just close the bedroom door when your dog is in a “grab toy and run” mood. The most appropriate uses of baby gates and doors include:
–To prevent your dog’s temporary access to areas during activities you don’t want him to participate in.
–To prevent your dog’s access to areas when you can’t supervise closely enough, to prevent inappropriate behaviors such as counter surfing or getting on forbidden furniture.
The final element of your WCCS behavior modification program is training. The more training you do the easier it is to communicate with your dog. The better he understands you, the more easily he can follow your instructions and requests. With a high-energy dog, in addition to basic good manners training, invest a lot of training time in impulse-control behaviors.
-Click for Calm. Start by simply clicking your dog for calm behavior, beginning with clicks and treats for any pause in the action. One challenge with a high-energy dog is that the instant you try to praise or reward, he’s bouncing off the walls again. With the clicker, an instant of calm elicits a “click” during the calm behavior. Even if the delivery of the treat causes excitement, your dog still understands it was calm that caused the click-and-treat to happen. An added advantage of the clicker: when they hear the click, most dogs pause in anticipation of the coming morsel, drawing out the brief period of relatively calm behavior even longer.
The goal of clicker training is to get your dog to understand that he can make the click happen by offering certain behaviors – in this case, calm. At first you won’t get long, leisurely stretches of calm behavior to click. Begin by giving your dog a click and treat just because all four feet are on the floor at the same instant. Be quick! You want him to understand the behavior he got rewarded for was pausing with all four feet on the floor, so the click needs to happen the instant all four feet are down. If you click late, you may reinforce him for bouncing around – the exact opposite of what you want!
If your timing is good and you click for four-on-the-floor several times in a row he’ll start to stand still deliberately to make the clicker go off. This is one of the most exciting moments in dog training –when your dog realizes he can control the clicker. Your clicker is now a powerful tool; you can reinforce any behavior you want, any time it happens, and your dog will quickly start repeating that behavior for you.
How does “pausing briefly on all four feet” translate into calm? Very gradually. You will “shape” the pause into longer periods of stillness, by extending the time, in milliseconds at first, that he stands still before you click and treat. As he gets better at being calm for longer periods, be sure to reinforce randomly – sometimes for shorter pauses, sometimes longer. Do the same thing with “sit” and “down.” Down is my favorite calm position: the very act of lying down evokes relaxation.
Do several short training sessions every day. You’ll have the most success if you practice “clicking for calm” right after one of your dog’s exercise sessions when he’s tired anyway. When he understands that “calm” is a very rewardable behavior, it will work even when he has more energy.
When your dog will remain still for several seconds at a time, add the verbal cue of your choice, like “Chill out,” that will eventually cue him into calmness. Over time you can phase out the click and treat for calm behavior and use other rewards such as calm praise, a gentle massage, or an invitation to lie quietly next to you on the sofa.
-“Sit” As Default Behavior. “Sit” is one of the first behaviors we teach. Even after the dog knows it well we reinforce “sit” so heavily that it becomes his “default behavior” – what he does when he doesn’t know what else to do. Teach your dog to sit by holding a treat at the end of his nose and moving it slowly back a few inches, clicking and treating when his bottom touches ground.
Alternatively, shape it by clicking and treating for slightly lowered hind end until touchdown, and/or click for offered sits. Then shape longer sits. If he already knows sit, start reinforcing it every time he does it until he sits for anything and nothing. When you have installed “sit” as his default, things like the “Wait” exercises (below) and “Go wild and freeze” (See “More Steps to a Calm Dog,” page 19) happen very easily.
-Wait. “Wait” is especially useful for dogs who are short on impulse control. I teach it using food bowls and doorways. “Wait” then easily generalizes to other situations.
-Wait for Food: With your dog sitting at your side, tell him to “Wait.” Hold his bowl (with food in it, topped with tasty treats) chest-high, then move it toward the floor 4 to 6 inches. If your dog stays sitting, click and feed him a treat from the bowl as you raise it back up to your chest. If your dog gets up, say “Oops!” and ask him to sit again. If he gets up several times in a row, you’re asking for too much too soon; lower the bowl in smaller increments.
If he remains sitting, lower the bowl 4 to 6 inches again, and click and treat for his continued sitting. Repeat several times until he consistently remains sitting as you lower the bowl. Gradually move the bowl closer to the floor with succeeding repetitions until you can place it on the floor without your dog getting up. Finally, place the bowl on the floor and tell him to eat. After he’s had a few bites, lift the bowl up and try again. Repeat these steps until you can easily place the bowl on the floor and he doesn’t move until you give him permission.
Caution: If your dog guards resources such as his food bowl, consult with a qualified positive behavior professional before trying this exercise.
-Wait at the Door: With your dog sitting at your side, tell him to “wait.” Reach for the doorknob. If he doesn’t move, click and treat. Repeat this step several times. Then jiggle the doorknob. Click and reward him for not moving. Repeat this step several times. Slowly open the door a crack. Again, click and treat if he doesn’t move, and repeat. Gradually open the door farther, an inch or two at a time. Do several repetitions at each step, with clicks and treats each time.
Eventually you’ll walk all the way through the door, stop, and face your dog, without having him move. Wait a few seconds, click, then return and give him a tasty treat. Of course, occasionally you’ll actually give him permission to go out the door!
Squid does a variation of “Wait at the door” in his pen and kennel. With the dog on the inside and human on the outside, I reach for the latch. If he jumps up, I pull my hand away. If he sits, I continue with the gate-opening process. Each time he jumps up, the process stops. If he exercises self-control the gate opens and he earns his freedom.
A Happy Future
Using a combination of exercise, training, and management, I am wildly optimistic that I can help Squid chill out, pass his shelter assessment, and find his forever home. If, after reading all this you still think your dog suffers from clinical hyperactivity or ADHD, then it’s time to visit a qualified behavior professional for help. More likely though, using the same combination of exercise, training, and management, you can ensure your own dog’s calm and happy future in your family.