Monthly Archives: September 2012

Teaching Your Dog In A Positive Way

As puppy and dog owners, we know there will be times when your favorite shoe or new leather pocketbook is mangled by a bored or just chew-crazy canine friend. Our first instinct is to wave the item in the dog’s face and yell at him that he is a bad dog. You should never hit, yell or frighten the dog into behaving in a certain way. It does not accomplish anything and only teaches him to be scared of you the next time you get angry. It may even provoke an unwanted aggressive reaction. After all, your dog is instinctively going to try to protect himself.

Consistent teaching and rewards for good behavior is important, more so than yelling and telling him what not to do. Dogs learn best from being caught in the act and gently disciplined but it is even better to catch them right before they grab your favorite shoe with a command such as “Leave it!” This command is useful for many situations where your dog might get into trouble.  It helps to stop his thought midstream before he acts upon it. You can train “Leave it!” by putting a treat in your closed hand.  Let your dog smell it, then close your hand again and say “leave it”. If he backs away from you, give him the treat and much praise. If he doesn’t back away, do not give him the treat. Once he realizes he isn’t going to get it and starts to walk away, give him the treat with lots of positive praise. Do this repeatedly until he backs away at the command every time. You can also give him an “okay” when he has complied so he knows the treat is coming.

The “leave it” command can be used for such things as begging at the table or when he attempts to grab something he shouldn’t. Another good reward for compliance is to give him a favorite chew toy. That way your shoes are preserved and your dog is happy and content to chew on the right thing. Positive teaching will result in a happy friend. After all, pleasing you is what matters the most to him.

Selecting Your Dog’s Leash

There are many different styles, colors, lengths and materials to choose from. It is important that they be made of durable materials, have a length that allows for good control and keeps your dogs safe.

Leash materials can be made of nylon, chain or leather. Leather is often chosen over nylon because it softens and becomes more flexible with age. It is easy to grip and quite durable. However, some dogs find chewing on it to be more fun than a nylon leash.  Nylon is more elastic but not as soft and the collar can cause chafing. Chain leashes are the least desirable because they can injure your dog and aren’t good for training.

Dog leashes that are retractable give control but allow the dog to walk farther away from its owner.  Too much leash can be dangerous in terms of other animals, people and cars if it can’t be reeled in fast enough. For puppies, a closer leash is preferable to keep him in control and to protect him.

Whether or not to use a collar attached leash, head halter and leash or a harness and leash depends upon you and your dog’s needs. Head halters look like muzzles but are not. One strap goes around the back of the dog’s head and a separate strap goes around his snout. The leash snaps on below the chin. When the dog walks, this head halter arrangement will pull the dog’s head either down or to the side and keeps the dog from pulling you.

Harnesses go around the dog’s neck in front of the shoulders and behind the front legs. They do not put pressure on the throat like a typical collar and leash. The harness allows you to walk the dog safely without pressure to the trachea.  Harnesses must be fitted to your dog.  There are those that the dog steps into, ones that go over his head and ones that look like a figure 8. Most are adjustable.  The important thing to fit it to is the dog’s girth. Once on, it should look symmetrical. Be sure it doesn’t rub too hard on a puppie’s arms. Check the fit as your puppy grows.

For small breeds like chihuahuas, who have fragile windpipes, it is best to stay away from the collar and leash.  Additionally, dogs that pull too much or have any respiratory problems, the harness or head halter is preferable. The most important thing to remember is have your dog fitted well with a harness or head halter. This way he will stay safe, comfortable and secure. Enjoy your walks!

What Does A Dog’s Panting Tell You?

Dogs normally pant to cool themselves versus sweating like humans. After a workout or when the temperature rises, dogs will pant more frequently. Dogs with smaller nasal passages and short windpipes like pugs or bulldogs tend to pant harder than other types of dogs.

But when is panting excessive?  As dog owners, we are usually pretty familiar with our dog’s typical panting behavior. What we should look for is an increase in panting or panting of greater intensity than normal. This is without having been exposed to high heat or intense exercise. If a dog seems to be breathing heavily, it can mean there is something physically wrong. Some of the common causes of excess panting include heat stroke, poisoning, obesity, stress or anxiety. In addition, a dog who is in pain will pant more than usual. You should watch closely for other signs such as restlessness, constant licking at one spot or difficulty getting up or down.

For older dogs, between the ages of 8-15, panting can be a sign of cognitive changes. Other signs that accompany cognitive changes include pacing, circling or bumping into things.  There can be accidents or difficulty recognizing familiar faces. Older dogs may seem to forget their training and fail to comply with normal commands. Medications such as Prednisone or pain killers such as Tramadol or Fentanyl as well as thyroid meds can cause increased panting. Congestive heart failure, seen as heavy panting at night or more fatigue after exercise, may be the cause. With congestive heart failure, your dog may have difficulty with respiration, is coughing at rest or has an enlarged abdomen due to fluid accumulation. It is imperative that you take your pet to the vet emergency center right away, keeping him as relaxed as possible to keep from aggravating the problem.

Arthritis in older dogs causes joint pain which is reflected in excess panting. If your dog is not as lively or moving as well as he used to, it could be the onset of arthritis. There are medications that can ease the stiffness and pain, giving your older pet a more comfortable existence in his later years. Again, the best advice is that if you see changes in your dog’s panting behavior, it is a good idea to see your veterinarian.  We all want our pets to enjoy the best quality of life they can after all!

Dogs Can Do It On Surfboards!

Have you ever wondered how dogs can stay on a surfboard and keep their cool? How do they not slide off?  Well, first they start with a made-for-a-dog surfboard.  It is hard versus made of foam which can bend or crease. Plus the hard board can float better. Dog boards have a traction surface that helps them hang on.  This way the surf-dog can look for the right wave but be cushioned in case of a wipeout!

Surf dogs wear life jackets and even wet suits for those colder days. These are made just for them. Surfing dogs are water-lovers and very good swimmers. But having a personal flotation device keeps them above the surf when the wave is not being cooperative.

On the board, larger dogs keep their center of gravity in the middle or slightly to the back of the board.  They don’t want to be too far forward which could cause the board to dip under the wave or too far back so the board flips. Smaller dogs tend to have a more forward center of gravity.

The typical wave height for a dog is 1-2 feet, although the more experienced surfer dog can handle waves of 3-4 feet.  The surfer dog owner gets the dog started in the wave when it just starts to curl and lets go so the dog can ride the wave. Some surfer dudes even surf on the same board with their dog, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

Cowabunga surf dog!