Tag Archives: Dog

Spot light on One of Our Asssociates: The Dog Walking Co.

Keep

The Dog Walking Co. is a Los Angeles based start-up headquartered in Silver Lake.They aim to educate dog owners in order to bring dogs the care they need, as well as get jobs for people who love animals. Every extra dollar raised beyond their our start up goal will be donated to the animal shelters and rescues that we partner with. As dog owners, they know that walking your dog is incredibly important for keeping your dog healthy. They also know that many people do not have enough time in their busy schedules to walk their dogs as much as they should. After having trouble finding a trustworthy dog walker for their Shiba Inu, Keep, the founders decided that they could create a better way to find and hire dog walkers.

I am a big supporter of their campaign. This is a great company that really strives to educate not just the client, but to team up with the walkers to help them be the best pet care giver they can be.  Pawsitive Perspective Animal Training has teamed up with The Dog Walking Co. to create a training program for  dog walkers to give them continuing education on dog handling and create the best pet care professionals for your furry companions.

So to support this endeavor The Dog walking Co. launched an Indiegogo campaign for two big reasons. First and foremost, we want to raise awareness of our project and show that its something people want. Second raising the money will pay for the development of our site’s  so we can continue to use our funds to train walkers, insure them, and offer grants to the no kill dog rescues. The cost of development is 12k and that is what we are going to set our goal to. Every dollar above that amount will be donated to the rescues to help them save animals lives!

Things have been growing on our end so we wanted to take this chance to give you a short update.

  • We made a video: http://youtu.be/zPtYuJh7VMA
  • We have over 2000 walkers interested, 300 we’ve vetted, 50+ interested clients, and 100 walks going a month. What this means is we are creating jobs for people, getting dogs walked, and fulfilling our mission.


We want to make sure this thing gets off to a great start and that’s where your help is going to be huge. It would be great if you all could do one or all of the things to make it take off:

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Welcome to the Family: How to Introduce Cats and Dogs

Animals are wonderful creatures and it is always fun to have at least a couple in the house. Despite what you may think, you can teach your kitty and pooch to live harmoniously together in one household. The key to getting your feline and canine to get along has to do with the introduction. The following are tips to help train your cat and dog to get along without attacking each other

Things to consider before the introduction:

When you add a new pet to your household, there are several things to remember. Your older pet is the king or queen of the castle. Your new pet will be an intruder. You need to treat them that way for a little while. For example, if you have had your cat for awhile, then your cat will see the dog as an unwelcome guest. You should not let the new dog have the run of the household for at least a while. Give your cat and dog time to adjust to each other slowly. Keep the new pets separated in other rooms for a couple of weeks and allow the introductions to happen over a few days. Let them get used to each others new smells and all the new stuff before you start introductions.

You will have better chance of success if your dog is a puppy. A puppy who grows up with a cat is likely to see the cat as part of the pack. Puppies can meet older assertive cats (cats who stand their ground and don’t flee) very successfully.  It is more difficult to introduce a young fearless kitten to a high energy prey-driven dog.

Combinations that will definitely clash:

  • If our dog has an aggressive or predatory nature. An aggressive dog can seriously injure or kill a cat. Dogs with intense prey drive are tough to counter condition in this case, the chase instinct can be too hard-wired.
  • If your cat is a small kitten, or is declawed, handicapped, or elderly. A kitten can be injured by an overly playful dog., older, or handicapped cats are less equipped to defend themselves so they will usually bite a dog as a first line of defense since they have no other weapons. This is not good for cat or dog.
  • If your cat is very skittish and prone to fleeing. This makes they cat appear like prey and can induce the chase instinct in the dog. Remember most dogs will chase rapidly moving objects. So if a cat gets frightened and runs, a dog often feels honor-bound to chase it. It’s important to nip that in the bud. If you don’t, the result can be injury, and even death, for the cat.

Two Basic Rules

Here are the top two rules to follow when you introduce a new cat to a dog household, or add a dog when you already have a cat:

  • Make sure your cat has total freedom, and can run and hide if desired.
  • Make sure your puppy or dog is well restrained and can’t follow a fleeing cat.

The reason for these rules is simple: In any cat-dog introduction, there’s more potential danger to the cat than to the dog. If there’s going to be a problem during cat and dog introductions, it’s usually caused by the dog, says Katherine A. Houpt, VMD, PhD, James Law Professor of Behavior Medicine – Emeritus at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Preparation steps – Important!

  • Get to know your dog and cat well. Be able to interpret their body language and sense their moods.
  • Your dog should have some training, and respond to commands to come, stay, and sit. Leave-it (turn away and make eye contact with you) is also a good one to have on board and should be heavily rewarded.
  • You should also know how to blend mild discipline and positive redirection to gently influence both pets behavior.

Do not proceed with the introduction until you have completed the steps in this section.

The Introduction

  • Beforehand, exercise your dog and feed him a nice meal; put him in a relaxed mood. Put your dog on a short leash or in his crate.
  • Put your cat in her carrier if she’s a scaredy-cat by nature; otherwise let her walk around. Be armed with lots of treats for good behavior.
  • Let dog and cat check each other out at a distance. Pet and talk to your dog soothingly. It’s not time for dog to approach cat just yet. Give your dog and cat some treats and praise as rewards for calm behavior.
  • Encourage your dog to do the sit/stay or down/stay while being HEAVILY rewarded for being calm around kitty.
  • If your dog bolts toward your cat, correct him with the leash. If he shows any signs of excessive excitability, calm him. If this doesn’t do the trick, cut the visit short and try again later when the dog is calmer.
  • Repeat these short visits several times a day, gradually giving your dog more leash as appropriate.

Do not move to the next phase until you have several consecutive days of incident-free visits in which both animals demonstrate to your satisfaction that they are comfortable with each other.

Helpful Gear

To keep all the pets in your home safe during introductions, the experts recommend using this gear:

  • Cat trees or perches. Whether your cat is the newbie or the senior pet in the house, before making cat and dog introductions, be sure your cat can move freely. Make sure there are “perches or cubbies for hiding, someplace where the cat can get off the floor and settle in somewhere,” says Christopher Pachel, DVM, a Portland, Ore. veterinarian who focuses on animal behavior issues. “You basically want an elevated resting place” for the cat.
  • A dog leash. Make sure your dog is safely restrained so it’s not able to chase, even if the cat darts away. This is a bigger issue with herding breed dogs, who have a prey instinct, but it’s really a hardwired response in all dogs to chase small fluffy things running away quickly.
  • Baby gates can help you gradually introduce dogs and cats, and the barrier minimizes danger to the cat. A baby gate is often better than a cat carrier because it gives the cat much-needed freedom.

Providing hiding space and perches for your cat, and finding a way to restrain your dog — and doing these things before anything is expected of the pets — sets the stage for a calmer introduction. Just make sure the dog is comfortable, the cat is comfortable, the dog can’t chase, and the cat can get away.

The Next Phase

Once your dog and cat consistently get along during leashed visits, you’re ready for the next step. Take your dog off the leash, and supervise the two closely. If you see problems, and they don’t abate with a few simple voice commands, back up to the previous phase for a few days. Gradually make the no-leash sessions longer. Do not leave the cat and dog alone until you’re sure they’re both fully comfortable with each other and there will be no trouble. Make sure your cat has places she can jump to for safety. Make some private space in your home for each animal. Use cat doors or baby gates if practical, as well as gentle discipline and rewards to enforce the rules. Keep kitty’s litter box and food bowl out of your dog’s reach.

Now relax and give these guys some hugs.

Don’t Do This

Here are common mistakes that people make when introducing cats and dogs:

  • Just throw them together and let them work it out! Not only is this dangerous, but it sets the stage for disaster. First impressions are everything to a cat and a bad experience makes it nearly impossible to get them to want to participate again.
  • Forcing physical proximity: Picking up your cat and holding him or her in your dog’s face by way of introduction will tempt your cat to scratch the dog and encourage the dog to really not like the cat. Always let kitty decide when or if it will approach the dog.
  • Not knowing the background of the dog you adopt. Adopting a dog from a shelter is often a wonderful idea, especially if you don’t have other pets, but Houpt notes that people rarely know a shelter dog’s background. “If a 2-year-old dog is looking for a home, there’s usually a good reason,” says Houpt, who also professionally consults on animal behavior issues. In some cases the dog may be aggressive, destructive, or have other problems. If you want to bring a canine into a feline household, Houpt usually recommends getting a puppy.
  • Not preparing your pet for change: Pachel suggests making changes — like moving your cat’s litter box, putting up a baby gate, or closing certain doors — before you bring your new pet home. That way, your long-time pet has a chance to get used to the changes before the new pet shows up.
  • Not thinking about your pet’s reaction. Try to think about the changes you’re making in your home from your pet’s perspective. For example, be aware that if you move the litter box and the cat has to walk past the dog’s kennel to get to it — and the dog is barking — that’s stressful for the cat.

When it Doesn’t Work Out

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it wasn’t meant to be. Some dogs are simply too dangerous to be around cats (occasionally the reverse is true). If your gut is telling you that this isn’t working out, respect that message. The humane thing to do in this case is  find a good cat-free home for the dog or dog-free home for the cat. In the interim, keep dog and cat separated and give them both lots of love.

Dogs and cats can usually live together peacefully, although creating a harmonious “blended family” requires some planning, patience, and careful guidance on your part. In some cases your dog and cat will become best friends. Some dogs unfortunately will be too dangerous for your cat, and one of the most important points of this article is that you need to recognize when this is the case. Like any love affair, you shouldn’t force a relationship that just isn’t working.

Excerpted from Introducing Cats and Dogs Without Re-Writing the Movie By Gary Loewenthal
and When Dog and Cat Meet By Wendy Fries

Fireworks and Pets: An Explosive Mix

Originally posted at BestFriends.org on June 30, 2009 : 12:17 PM
Image

At almost every fireworks display, you see someone who has brought their beloved pooch with them. That is almost never a good idea. Fireworks displays can be stressful, disorienting and frightening for dogs. Your normally calm pooch might get spooked and confused by the noise, crowds and bright lights and become afraid or aggressive or run off. Even if you leave your dog at home, dogs who are not normally frightened by loud noises may panic from the cumulative effects of fireworks, noisy crowds outside the house and being left alone. Please keep your pets indoors. Remember, the 5th of July is the busiest day of the year for animal control officers and shelters!

Dogs and cats have an acute sense of hearing and fireworks will be particularly loud and frightening to them. Pets frequently become more sensitive to loud noises as they grow older. Even if they have not reacted in the past they may become unexpectedly or uncharacteristically fearful.

Pets, children and fireworks can create a particularly dangerous situation as frightened animals can unintentionally hurt a child. Children may not realize that waving sparklers or setting off firecrackers could upset the family pet. Educate your children on the dangers of fireworks around pets.

Some pets don’t even seem to notice fireworks. Others do well simply by having their owner nearby, talking to them and petting or holding them. Others cannot be calmed by anything because they are simply too frightened.

Common signs of noise phobia:

Some of the normal signs that you pet is afraid of fireworks or other loud noises include shaking and trembling, barking and howling, excessive drooling, frantic pacing, attempting to hide, not eating and trying to escape from the house, car or enclosed yard.

The signs noted above are general signs and could be related to diseases or conditions unrelated to noise phobia. Contact your veterinarian if these signs continue after the fireworks are over or if you suspect that your pet has been injured or poisoned during the holiday celebrations.

Tips for keeping your pets safe over the Fourth of July holiday

Preventing pet problems during holiday celebrations is easy by simply planning ahead, practicing safety and taking some basic precautions. You and your human family can enjoy the excitement of the Fourth of July and know that your animal companions are safe and enjoying peace and quiet in the safety of familiar surroundings.

• Never leave your pets alone outside where they can become frightened and panic. Even in a fenced yard, a frightened pet can escape and get lost, injure himself or get hit by a car while trying to seek refuge.
• If you must have your pet outside, keep him on a leash or in a carrier.
• Walk your dog early in the evening before the fireworks begin.
• Keep your pets inside your house preferably in a room without any outside exposure or in a room with windows that are covered by curtains or blinds. Create a safe, secure sanctuary for them with a favorite blanket or toy and special treats. Be sure you have removed any items that could be destroyed by your pet or be harmful to them. Leave a TV or radio on to provide a distraction from the noise – preferably calming sounds or classical music. If possible, leave someone at home to comfort them if they become afraid.

• Don’t leave your pet unattended in your car – panic may cause them to damage your car and hurt themselves. With only hot air to breath, your pet can suffer serious injury in a short period of time. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air for your pet and can provide an invitation for your pet to be stolen.

• Make sure your pets have current ID tags in case they do run away during the festivities. On July 5, many dogs are found miles from their homes – disoriented and exhausted. Animal shelters across the country will receive “July 4th Dogs” – dogs who escape during celebrations and are rescued by animal control personnel and good Samaritans who take them to shelters.

• Never use fireworks around your pets, even on your own property. Keep your personal fireworks stored in an area inaccessible to them. Pets may try to eat fireworks and pet hair can easily catch fire if they are too close to the fireworks. If you do use fireworks on your property, pick up the fireworks debris, including used sparklers, which can be dangerous if ingested.

Ways for your pets to celebrate with you

Many people want to include their pets in their holiday celebrations. However, most cats and dogs are much more comfortable if they stay at home and maintain their normal routine during fireworks displays.

There are many safe ways to include your pet in your Fourth of July festivities. Bring them along on your picnic, take them with you to the lake or beach, or include them in your family gatherings at home. Just make sure they are safely inside with a safe place to relax before the fireworks begin.

“Each year on the 4th of July pets panic and run away from the people they love. Please keep your pets safe inside your home,” urges Sherry Woodard, Best Friends’ animal behavior consultant.

Originally posted at BestFriends.org on June 30, 2009 : 12:17 PM
Tips for keeping your pets safe on the Fourth of July
by Barbara J. Koll, Best Friends Network voluntee

Dog Days of Summer Part II : Pool Safety

Yippee, Pool Party!

Whether your dog loves to swim, or would happily sun bathe instead, if you are around a pool teaching your dog pool safety is a must.  Water safety tips are important because even a dog that doesn’t like to swim can fall into the pool and drown trying to get out.  Also not all dogs are seaworthy, stubby legged, heavy bodied breeds like English Bulldogs and Basset Hounds shouldn’t swim, as buoyancy is near impossible. Dogs, just like people, can panic in the water and try to climb on top of a rescuer, so it is safer to throw them something that floats, like a life preserver on a rope, they can “grab.”Image

Although not all dogs are fond of water, they should be exposed to it for their own safety. With some simple training and safety devices, you can ease your mind and protect your dog this summer.

Some Water Safety Training Tips to Keep in Mind (courtesy of APDT)

  • Give him a gradual introduction into the pool or lake by holding him snugly and slowly walking into the water. Let him get wet a little at a time and eventually let him swim to the exit. Make it a positive experience with lots of encouragement and praise.
  • Teach proper swimming technique. All dogs will instinctively paddle when submerged in water, but as inexperienced swimmers, many dogs try to rely on their front legs and do little with their rear legs. This results in an almost vertical swim technique with lots of splashing. It’s exhausting and very easy for a dog to become over-tired this way. With proper training, the most vertical of swimmers can learn to use their rear legs, evening out their performance and swimming much more effectively and safely. Keep a close eye on your dog – if you see them become over-stimulated or fatigued, it’s time to call them out. If you see your accomplished swimmer dog lowering his rear, this is a sign that he is getting tired.
  • Dogs have poor depth perception so if the pool has steps, mark them with a big potted plant and make sure he associates the plant as the exit marker. If there are no steps, provide a non-slip ramp for getting out. Spend sufficient time training him to go up the ramp if he’s alone.
  • If your dog plays in a lake, make sure to stand at the place on the shore where he can easily walk out.
  • Always use a life jacket on your dog in ponds, lakes, rivers, or the open water. Just like with people, it’s easy for a dog to develop a cramp in a leg, become exhausted too far from shore, or in the case of rivers or oceans, overwhelmed by tides. Life jackets give your dog the extra protection to stay buoyant.
  • Keep safety floatation devices nearby, just in the case of an emergency. If your dog gets into trouble, a life preserver attached to a long line is the best course of action to take. Dogs panic easily in the water when trouble hits, and a panicked, flailing dog can accidentally drown any person trying to assist it. Get the dog to grab out to the preserver first and try to reel it in closer to shore before physically trying to help it out.
  • Training polite pool manners is a must. A big Golden Retriever sailing through the air in her excitement to get in the water is a no-no. Train the canine to “Wait” at pool’s edge or to always use the steps or the ramp.
  • Also teach her that the “Come” command applies to the pool as much as it does to dry land.
  • Be mindful of the specific needs of your dog’s breed. Each dog’s physical structure and body-type will greatly impact his swimming ability. Heavily muscled bully breeds exert more energy while swimming due to their increased body mass. Consider using a lifejacket with such dogs for added protection.
  • Watch your dog’s nails! Dogs can quickly wear their nails down to the point of bleeding as they excitedly race around the pool’s exterior. Keep a watchful eye on the pads of their feet as well. Repeated launching from pool steps can tear up paw pads; especially for dogs who spend most of their time on grass.
  • Unless your pool cover is solid and strong enough to support your weight, do not leave it on when your dog is unattended near the pool. Countless dogs, even accomplished swimmers, have lost their lives following an unexpected tumble into a covered pool. Once they’re in, the cover is disorienting and it’s almost always impossible for a dog to find his way out. If your dog needs to spend time in the yard unsupervised, consider erecting a pool safety fence.
  • Avoid letting your dog drink pool water. Always keep an ample supply of fresh water around so your dog can drink without attempting to drink from the pool. Also make sure you give your dog many opportunities to relieve himself after a swim as he is likely to ingest water from wherever he is swimming (pool, pond, lake or ocean) and may need to urinate more often.
  • Make sure you rinse your dog off after a swim to get chlorine and other pool chemicals, as well as bacteria or dirt he might get on him from a pond or lake. Don’t let your dog sit in a wet collar as hot spots can develop. Be mindful of areas where water can collect, like ears, groin, and armpits, where moisture-induced infections can occur.
  • If your dog is overweight or a senior, check with your veterinarian first before allowing him to swim. This is also important for dogs who are generally sedentary. Dogs, like people, experience muscle soreness and stiffness and they’re counting on us to lookout for their best interests.

Keep in mind all these great tips and you and your dog will have a fun safe summer!!

The Dog Days of Summer Part 1

The dog days of summer are upon us! It’s the perfect time of year to incorporate some extra activities into your pet’s schedule. The warmer weather and longer daylight hours offer additional time outside. When planning vacations, weekend getaways, or even weeknight outings, now’s a great time to include activities that are pet-friendly. Try these tips and share in an active summer with your four-legged friends.

DOG BEACHES/Water Play
If you’re lucky enough to be traveling to the coastline this summer consider bringing your dog to the beach. Most dogs, particularly outgoing breeds like retrievers and spaniels love to swim in the ocean! If you’re nervous about letting Fido loose in the vast aquatic beyond that surrounds our country, start off with a short leash and let him wade in the baby waves and move slowly on to greater depths.  If you can’t get to the surf, a small plastic kiddie pool can be just as refreshing without the tumult of waves or the mess of sandy fur! Remember though, just because a dog is wet doesn’t mean he still won’t be thirsty. This much activity combined with the heat from the beach will necessitate for him larger amounts of drinking water.

Safety Tips:

  • ALWAYS supervise your dog. You can even find doggie life vests in most pet stores for some extra peace of mind!
  • If you are unsure how your dog will react to the water, make sure to bring him to a controlled environment first. An enclosed pool area can be great, and for smaller dogs, your bath tub can also provide a great training experience.
  • Chemicals and dirt in the water can be harmful to your dog’s coat and health, so you should always give your dog a bath after you return home. If there is a shower facility at the beach, pool or lake, you may even want to give him a good rinse before you leave.
  • Drying your dog’s ears after swimming can help prevent ear infections.

Websites which chronicle lists of many dog-friendly beaches in the US:
General US: http://www.petfriendlytravel.com/dog_beaches
California:  http://www.totalescape.com/active/animals/dogs/beaches.html
Life Jackets, etc. for your dog:  http://www.cabelas.com/vests-boots.shtml

 GO FOR A HIKE:

Getting out in the great outdoors is a thrill for dogs – everywhere they turn, there’s something to sniff, look at or maybe even chase. Hit the trails with him for an active outing that’s refreshing, healthy and fun. It’s important to be well-supplied for hikes. Be sure to bring plenty of water for both you and your canine companion. Hiking can be hard work, so be sure your dog is physically up to the task. If you have any doubts, contact your veterinarian. Remember to build up to long hikes, just like you would for yourself.If you are going on a long hike, you may want to bring a small first aid kit with you, just in case.Be aware that your dog has tender paws, so try to avoid rough terrain, such as sharp rocks or dense underbrush. Be sure to use precautions against ticks and fleas, and check your dog when you get home.Consider inviting other friends and their balanced dogs along. A group hike is safer and more fun!

There are a number of off leash dog parks and hiking areas.  Me and my dog Sam love Runyon Canyon, Fryman Canyon and Tree People for hiking.

Check here for a list of Los Angles off-leash Dog Parks:

TAKE YOUR DOG TO LUNCH OR TO COFFEE:

Explore new neighborhoods. Most people and pets have a well-worn path on their neighborhood walks, so why not switch up the scenery? Stray off the usual route, or drive somewhere different to go for a stroll. Try to find dog-friendly business districts that encourage visitors to bring pets along. Many restaurants and coffee shops with outdoor dining areas will let your dog join you as long as they don’t enter the restaurant and are well-behaved. Bring some treats along, this is a great opportunity to practice your down/stay!

TAKE YOUR DOG ON YOUR FAMILY VACATION:

A great way to include your pooch for a weekend away is to camp. Most campsites allow leashed dogs and just like you, your dog will be delighted and rejuvenated with the new scenery. He’ll want to spend plenty of time sniffing all the new smells around. Take him for a hike or swim during the days to help drain his energy so he’s ready to rest by the fire at night with you. Pack food and water for him to avoid upsetting his stomach or having him drink tainted water. If you have to hike into your camp, you can have him carry in his own supplies in a doggy backpack.

Not the outdoorsy type check out a pet friendly hotel at Pets Welcome.com

SPECIAL DOG EVENTS:

Another idea is to look into venues and events near you that cater to our four-legged companions. Ball fields, movie theaters, museums and other local places will sometimes hold special days they dedicate to allowing dog lovers and their dogs to enjoy the day together. During summer there are usually at least a few dog-related events like fairs or races in most areas.

Burbank for example has a special day when the public pool is open for dogs to swim check it out at : Doggie Splash

Petco Park also has a bring your dog to the game night. Check it out at: Petco Park

OTHER HOT WEATHER SAFETY TIPS:

Never leave a dog in a parked car on a warm day. It’s a simple message that every dog owner should remember. This past weekend a Chocolate Lab passed away after being left alone in a car for over two hours. A sad wake-up call to pet owners everywhere.

It only takes minutes for the temperature in a stationary car to climb above 100ºF  which would be uncomfortable for any human. Since most of us aren’t covered head to toe in fur – imagine yourself wrapped in a sweater, unable to sweat. The heat becomes unbearable.

Dogs don’t have the same temperature control functions that we have. They can’t sweat like we do. They can only alleviate warmth by panting or releasing small amounts of heat through their paws. Without air circulation or water, there’s no way to escape the heat. Again, never leave a dog in a parked car when the weather is warm, if your not sure if it is too warm don’t leave your dog!


To beat the heat, and to prevent distress, PETA has a few pointers:

  • If you see a dog in a car and in distress, take down the car’s color, model, make, and license-plate number, have the owner paged inside nearby stores, and call local humane authorities or police. Have someone keep an eye on the dog. If police are unresponsive or too slow and the dog’s life appears to be in imminent danger, find a witness (or several) who will back your assessment, take steps to remove the suffering animal, and then wait for authorities to arrive.
  • Don’t carry your dog in the bed of a pickup truck. This is always dangerous, but the heat brings the added danger of burning the dog’s feet on the hot metal.
  • Don’t take your dog jogging—except on cool mornings or evenings—and don’t force exercise.
  • On long walks, rest often and take plenty of water. Hot pavement can burn dogs’ paws; choose shady, grassy routes.
  • Trim heavy-coated dogs’ fur, but leave an inch for protection against insects and sunburn. Keep an eye on areas where hair is thin, like eyelids, ears, and nose as they can get sunburned.
  • Keep your dog indoors. If he or she must stay outside for long, avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • Provide shade, water, and a kiddie pool if possible. Keep drinking water in an anchored bucket or a heavy bowl that won’t tip over.
  • Be a watchdog for chained dogs. Make sure that they have food, water, and shelter. If you see a dog in distress, contact humane authorities. Give the dog immediate relief by providing water.

Have a safe and fun summer everyone!!!

“Don’t Leave Me!!!” A Plan for Preventing and Treating Separation Anxiety

Summer time is coming, and that means more outdoor time for you and your dog! It also means lot’s of family activities that your dog may not get to attend. Which means more time alone in the house or yard. Some dogs don’t mind this R & R time, while others get nervous about being separated from their pack. Destruction and barking can be a troublesome side effect.

Remember dogs don’t have a lot of natural hobbies, digging, chewing and alert barking is their way of stress relief.  They don’t do naughty things to punish you or “let you know their upset” as is commonly thought.  They just can’t think of another way to relieve all this pent up nervous energy. Remember dogs are pack animals, they don’t understand why we have to separate they wouldn’t do this under natural circumstances.  Here are some good ways to work on preparing your dog for your separation.

A behavior modification plan:

  • Give your dog a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour of aerobic exercise each day. If possible I like to do this before you leave. Remember a tired dog is a good dog!
  • Work on basic obedience commands (come, sit, sit-stay, down, down-stay) for 15 or 20 minutes each day. Use rewards for compliance (praise, a quick pat on the chest, a food treat) rather than reprimands or punishment for lack of compliance. If you need help getting consistent obedience from your dog, work with a professional trainer (like me!).
  • Wean your “Velcro dog” from being attached to you at all times when you’re home. Use a baby gate to barricade her in a separate room for part of the time when you’re home.
  • Provide her with a delicious distraction, such as a Kong (click here to get great recipes and game ideas) toy stuffed with a food treat (peanut butter is a popular Kong stuffer) while she’s by herself. You can also use a “down-stay” or “get in your bed” command to put some distance between you. Also creating a doggie scavenger hunt hiding food-based chewies and things in her area is very helpful.
  • Ignore her for 20 minutes before you leave and 20 minutes after you return. Effusive goodbyes and hellos make a dog with separation anxiety feel worse.
  • When you leave her alone, don’t give her the run of the house or apartment. Instead, use a baby gate to confine her to one room, such as the bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen—wherever she’s least likely to do damage or disturb the neighbors. Leave a radio or TV on very low to provide distracting background noise.
  • Do not leave a dog with separation anxiety in a closed crate unless he/ she is comforted by being in her den. Many dogs with separation anxiety have panic attacks when crated and will injure their mouths or front feet trying to bite or claw their way out of the crate. Test run this before you leave for hours. If the crate is very wet when you return (excessive salivation) this is signs of a panic attack.
  • Don’t use an anti-bark collar. It’s unlikely to work on a dog with separation anxiety.
  • Start a program of desensitization or “flooding.” Flooding for separation anxiety would involve setting aside several hours on a weekend during which you enter and leave your apartment so often that you essentially wear the dog out. Leave the apartment every few minutes, on a varying schedule, for a minute or two at a time then come back. Be sure not to return while your dog is barking or howling, or else you will be rewarding her for that behaviour. If it’s impossible to walk out the door without having your dog bark, you might have a friend remain in the apartment while you go in and out. Desensitization for a dog with separation anxiety involves giving her your customary cues that you’re leaving—such as picking up your car keys or briefcase, opening the coat closet, putting on your “work shoes,” and so on—without actually leaving.
  • A DAP (Doggie Pheromones) diffuser or collar may help calm an anxious dog.
  • An antidepressant may be helpful for a dog with separation anxiety. Clomicalm (clomipramine) is widely used for that purpose. In severe cases and for occasional use, an anti-anxiety medication can also be given one hour before your departure. No drug can extinguish separation anxiety on its own, however. Desensitization is essential.

Excerpted from Hound Health Handbook © 2004, 2009 by Urbanhound, LLC Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. New York All Rights Reserved Available wherever books are sold.

Does Housebreaking Feel Like it is Destroying your House?

Ahh, the potty training problem… Aside from socialization issues, this is the next most frequent problem I get calls for.  But before we fully explore the basic principles for potty training, let’s talk about why we have such problems to begin with.

As times change I am seeing an increase of smaller and smaller breed dogs living in smaller and smaller spaces with parents with very busy lifestyles.  Gone are the days  where everyone has a house with a yard and someone is home all day long tending to the family (able to let the dog out).  Now the norm is everyone is living bunched up one onl top of one another and all the members of our family live on a tight schedule of activities.  Space for dogs to roam is a rarity, and time for training can be hard to schedule in.  Combine that with a tiny breed dog and you have a recipie for potty training disaster.

You see dogs are naturally a letrining animal.  They like to relieve themselves far away from their nest or den.  If given the opportunity they will choose to go as far away as possible to do their business.  This is one of the reason why dogs make such great companions.  Unfortunately due to our busy schedules many young dogs don’t get enough opportunities to go away from their nest to relieve themselves.  Instead they may be confined for to many hours and put in a situation where they learn to live with their own waste.  This destroys that natural instinct to keep your home clean.

The other issue is that as our dogs get smaller and smaller our square footage appears larger.  To a small breed dog a 1 bedroom apartment can be a lot of space.  Certainly enough to urinate in one spot and return to play in another.  The guest bedroom, or fancy living room may even appear to not be part of our nest at all, people rarely go in there.  So to a dog that is having frequent “accidents” in these areas it may seem to him like this is the apropriate place to go.

The other most common issue I see when folks call me about potty training problems, is too much freedom and not enough direction.  A young dog cannot be trusted to manage its own bladder and bowels, much the same way you would not trust a crawling baby without a diaper.  Giving your dog the run of the house when it’s under 1-year-old is risky at best.

So what’s a good puppy parent to do? Right now you might be feeling very confused. Thinking to yourself, “Melissa, you told me not to confine my dog a minute ago! Now your telling me I can’t let him run free! What the heck am I supposed to do!”

The solution is balance and direction.  I don’t mean to get philosophical, but isn’t that the solution to all our problems in life?!  Every puppy should have a space to call their own: a crate, a pen, a washroom, a kitchen with a baby gate.  It all starts here.  This is the first place your dog learns to keep clean because it is where his food, his bed, his toys, are located; and he doesn’t want to soil his area any more than you want him to soil yours.  But as I stated earlier if you want this instinct to continue you need to give him frequent, and I mean frequent, opportunities to relieve himself elsewhere.  I encourage you to pick a place, somewhere easily accessible to your dog and take him there every time.  Preferably through the same exit so he learns the path, this will help him later for signaling that he needs to go out.  So in the beginning, it lots of trips from his space to the bathroom and vice versa.  If you feel like a slave to your dogs bladder and bowels you’re doing it right!  The secret here is setting them up for success. Do not wait for your dog to fail and then correct, that is not fair!  You wouldn’t wait for your toddler to wet his pants and then punish him as a way of teaching him. It is the same thing.

If things are going well, you will start seeing that your dogs area is staying cleaner.  Your dog is realizing that you will give him the chance to relieve himself elsewhere and is learning how to hold it until you let him out.  As he ages he will be able to hold it for longer and longer.  I encourage you to put him on a schedule during the hours that he is awake. Dogs are great anticipators, that paired with vigorous praise when he goes in the right place will help things move along quickly.

So now your dog has learned how to keep his space clean what about yours? Once again balance and direction.  If your dog never spends any time loose in your house he is never going to learn how to behave in that area.  I recommend you practice in small doses.  Also set yourself up for success, let your dog have freedom only after you are POSITIVE they are empty, only for a short while, and only in the room that you are in so you can keep an eye on him.  Use freedom in your house as the reward for relieving himself in the right place. As things progress you will see your dog spending more and more time out of the pen and longer and longer between bathroom breaks.

It is a tedious process but one that goes quickly if you are very consistent. I promise you can do it!

Licks and Wags,

Melissa

P.S. Need more one-on-one help to potty train your dog? Or want some advice on how to set-up your environment for your new pup? Call (866) 412-PAWS and setup a Puppy Consultation. Melissa is happy to help!

The Importance of Being Persistent!

As a dog trainer I have always know how important it is to be consistent.  Good pack leaders are always consistent! But just as important as consistency is being persistent.  It is one thing to be consistent and always ask your dog to sit while waiting at the door, but it does you no good if you give up easily when your dog doesn’t respond the first time.

I was really reminded of how being persistent can be used as a training tool while on my recent trip to Paws with a Cause, in Michigan.  There I got the opportunity to work with folks with disabilities and see how they worked with their service dogs.  I went on many field calls to help teach people how to better work with their assistance dog.  But the most interesting thing of all was that even though I was the dog trainer, the one supposed to do the teaching, my clients taught me a much more valuable lesson.

You see a person in a wheelchair with limited mobility of their arms and legs doesn’t have a lot options when their dog doesn’t obey the command.  They can’t snap the leash and offer a correction, they may not be able to get out a treat and bribe their dog, and they certainly can’t manhandle their dog and force them into doing the behavior.  All they can do is persist and ask again. Imagine if you will this scenario:  You are in your wheelchair and you drop your keys, you ask Fido to retrieve them and Fido looks at you blankly.  What can you do but ask again, you aren’t going to get into your house until he retrieves them so you have to keep trying.  Eventually Fido gets bored with just standing there and grabs those keys, he wants to go someplace too!

Many times those of us with all our capabilities get frustrated or in a hurry and we give up to soon.  We cave to the confused, distracted, or maybe just lazy dog, and our leadership quotient takes the hit.  So much can be gained by just showing your dog that when you say sit, you mean it, and nobody is going anywhere until they sit, so they may as well do it.  Remember good leaders get what they ask for, nobody questions the president when he gives a command!  You are the leader of your pack, empower yourself and get results!

Licks and Wags,

Melissa

The Power of Consistency…

Part I

I was working with a client tonight and was reminded of another training concept that I feel is important.  We were talking about leash skills and how important it is to be consistent.  While it is true that I spend a lot of time encouraging my clients to be unpredictable to keep their dogs on their toes,  there are also some times  when a consistent pattern of behavior is appreciated.  Keeping the leash soft and tension-free is definitely one of those areas.  It is also something your dog can be taught to be in control of.  This can be good (if your dog is working to keep the leash loose), or it can be a nightmare (if your dog learns that pulling is the norm and an acceptable way of moving forward). So here is one place where consistency saves you a lot of training time.  You just really have to adopt a no-pull policy.  In other words, from now on we will not accept being pulled any longer.  EVERY time you pull ahead of me and I feel that leash go tight I will correct and turn the opposite way even if only for a few steps to get you back in line with me;  and only when I feel the leash is loose again will we move forward.  It is a tedious process  I know! But one that pays off in the long run.  If you are absolute and this is the law, your dog learns very quickly how fruitless it is to pull the leash tight.  You set a boundary for yourself and it must be respected.  Ultimately any behavior that you really want your dog to do without fail this must be your mantra. A word of caution, by the same token realize that any time you ask for a behavior as the leader you need to make it happen.  So as any mother of a small child will tell you, pick your battles.  If you don’t have the time to persist and make it happen don’t even ask! All you do is confuse the dog and show them that your cues sometimes need to be respected and other times not.  Instead, if you don’t have time to walk the dog properly DON’T EVEN WALK! One day without a walk will not kill your dog, you can always play fetch or run around the yard if your pup needs exercise.  Teach them that a loose leash is a state of being, whenever the leash is on there is never any tension on it.  Persist and you shall see the rewards of your labor, I promise.

So if consistency is king then being persistent is its cousin.  Check out Part II for more info…

Catch your dog being good!

A trainer friend of mine sent me an email last night that reminded me of a really important training concept. She always signs off her emails with a tagline that reads “catch your dog being good.” I remember thinking, “wow, what an important concept that is so often forgotten.” I mean how do we expect our dogs to do the right thing if we never show them what we like.

I was reminded again of this concept while walking two of my client’s dogs this afternoon. For whatever reason we were just having a great walk, nobody was pulling or lagging, everyone was just hanging out by my side. I thought to myself, what a great opportunity to show them what behaviors I like. I better praise these dogs soon if I want this behavior to continue.

In the training community this is called capture training.  You capture the behavior the animal does and reinforce it.  Eventually the animal anticipates your reward and offers up the behavior on their own. Dolphin trainers do it all the time during play sessions.  A dolphin will do a really cool jump and the trainers will click and reinforce.  Dolphins are so smart they will often repeat the behavior to solicit more fish.  Parents do it all the time with young children, often without realizing it.  Little Johnny gets done playing with a toy and puts it back in his toy box while he selects another.  His mom pipes up eagerly, “Thanks baby for remembering to put your toy back!”

Whenever I start a new puppy class I encourage my clients to start the Pollyanna Principle.  If you remember the movie Pollyanna from your childhood, Pollyanna was encouraged by her father to look for the good in people.  He said if you look for the good in people you will find it.  More than just perceiving the glass as being half full this encourages us to search for those moments when our loved ones are doing something good and reinforce it.  Even if just with a kind word, you will see that it makes a big difference.

So next time your dog just comes over and lays at your feet instead of jumping all over you, remember to reach down and tell him what a good dog he is, and how much you love it when he lays “DOWN”.  I guarantee if you do this often enough, soon you won’t have to even ask.

Licks and wags,

Melissa