Category Archives: Dogs

Happy Howl-o-Ween!!

image1This is my most favorite Holiday!! Maybe it was the staying out late as a kid, the AWESOME decorations, the bountiful haul of candy, or SCARING PEOPLE that makes it my favorite. But, it’s just the best! Although, it’s not about the candy for me anymore – I still remember how awesome it was when I was younger though. 😉

This holiday can be a nightmare for some animals, funadie-decorations for others, and then the few unaffected who don’t pay much mind to it. Adie, like my husky Prince, is definitely the latter. Prince only thought it was pretty cool when my sister and I would stay in the garage for hours on end, setting up our haunted house, as he cruised around and “helped”. But that was as involved as he ever got. Adie likes to play with the Halloween decorations and lay in the piles of plastic bags that are our “walls” for our haunted house. But she’ll just sleep through tonight, comfy on her bed.

My Shepherd Tobi, though, it almost drove him a bit crazy having so many people come to the door over and over and over randomly, all night long. And, if I had handled the situation any differently, he could very well have been a big ball of stress and nerves that night. Considering his breed, and the fact that he worked alongside me ALL the time. And this was one night a year I was out front, with a lot of people coming over, and he couldn’t “protect me”. 🙂 Even though he would get excited and bark once in a while, he was never stressed or upset. More on the jealous side, if anything.

I have a neighbor whose dog does NOT enjoy Halloween. At. All. He will begin barking tonight around 5pm. And will continue all night in three-to-five-bark increments, until about 10:30pm. I’m not sure what they do with him, but it’s clear he goes outside, and that seems to be it. It’s been this way for years. (Yes, I have offered more than once to help them out).

Nervous or Stressed Doggies:

taco-dogNumber one thing – don’t coddle them when they begin their nervous behaviors. Holding them, hugging them, telling them sweetly that “it’s ok”… That may be very comforting to a human child? It does the opposite to your dog. It actually encourages them to continue the nervousness and it can get worse from there.

You want to keep your nervous pet busy. Give them something to do, so that way they can channel that nervous energy into something constructive instead of barking or pacing or any other sort of “off” behavior they may do. My favorite suggestion is always having something for them to chew or gnaw on, throughout the night. Natural Peanut Butter in a Kong toy, thrown in the freezer. Treat Puzzle toys where the dog needs to figure out how to get the treats out. A new bone to chew on. I like giving natural bones from the butcher, I ask for a shank bone and will give that to the dogs around the time your first trick-or-treater comes by.

snuggled-in-bedProviding a safe place for them to be. A bedroom, bathroom, their crate or a back room away from the front door and all the activity. Have their bed, blankets, or maybe a shirt of yours for them to cuddle up with. Close the door, turn on the radio on low, and give them their chewy to focus on. Going in and checking on them when things are quiet and calm, to tell them how good they’re being will help them a lot. This way they feel protected, and away from all the action going on. They can control the situation they are in – which brings them comfort when they’re in a state of nervousness.

On the contrary, sometimes that can cause a dog to be more upset because they’re not with you. If you are worried about your dog fear-bolting, but you think it has a better time being with you as you open the door to trick-or-treaters, I suggest having them on a tie-down nearby. Whether it be on leash with another family member holding them for safety, or on the railing of a staircase. This way they can see what’s going on but you don’t run the risk of them running out the door if they get scared by a costume. I would still provide them with their favorite toys or a new bone or something to chew on or play with, to keep them busy.

Ultimately, the idea is keeping their minds busy on something POSITIVE while the scary thing is happening. Acting like the boss, not coddling or comforting them. Instead, you will be their leader and tell them, confidently, that you got this and they’re just fine.

My recommendation for those of you with cats that are indoor/outdoor kitties. I suggest you leave them inside today. And keep them in until tomorrow. I posted last week about Kitty Superstitions, and even though the stories aren’t true. People can still be mean to cats on Halloween. Especially if they’re Black Cats! It’s unfortunate, but better to keep your kitty safe!

kane-comfyFor indoor-only kitties, I would also close them up in a room. That way there’s no chance of them accidentally slipping out, or running out/bolting because of fear. Again, you may have a very confident kitty who can take care of him/herself, but it’s better to be safe than to chance it. You Just never know.

Costumes: 

image1Costumes are fun for some, not so much for others. You know your pet best and if you think they’ll dig a costume – by all means, do it! I have never actually put my dogs in full on costumes. But, costumes didn’t start becoming popular until just a few years ago, so that’s just by default, I guess. I did, however, always put my dogs in seasonal-themed bandannas. Tobi loved them the most. He had one on almost all year-round. Prince would tear his off. Adie likes them for a little while, but gets tired of them.

king-harleyIntroduce your dog to them slowly. Let them sniff the items first. Place them on the dog gently. Just lay it on them, at first, and praise them for allowing you to do that. Be sure that the costume size is just right for them. Nothing too small, because you don’t want them to feel constricted. Just make sure it’s a positive interaction, and you try it out a few times before the actual night (I know, it’s kind of late for that – but now you know for next year!).

stooges-halloweenSome pets love them, and wear costumes happily and proudly! And then they can go trick-or-treating as well! It’s just like going on a walk, only in costume – with lots of stops. But it’s a good idea to expose them to you wearing costumes, before Halloween night, as well. By having them watch you put them on and take them off, it teaches the dog that sometimes we can change our “skins”. And they will be less likely to be fearful of other peoples’ costumes.

Candy:

Obviously, this is one thing you really want to watch out for. Dogs shouldn’t have candy of any kind. Sugar is just not good for them. But especially chocolate. Every pet owner should know not to give ANY of your animals chocolate. Ever. It’s not that chocolate, itself, is necessarily dangerous. It’s the concentrated caffeine that comes from the cocoa bean that can cause issues with dogs. Their heartbeat increases and they can’t calm themselves down. It can cause issues in their digestive system as well. Ideally, you want to induce vomiting in case they get a hold of any. But, consider the circumstances first. If my 120lb malamute gets an M&M or 2, she’s most likely going to be fine. But if she ate an entire bag of chocolates, like my sisters dog once did? That would cause a problem. I would encourage vomiting right away. Give her water and watch her. If I were to see any signs of distress, I would bring her in to the vet. But, normally, treatments include fluids and vomiting. Unless the case is pretty bad. So, if your little 5lb chihuahua gets into a snickers bar, that would raise a concern – and I’d most likely take them in to be seen, as a precaution.

It’s best to just keep the candy up high, where they can’t get into it. And also keep a bottle of Syrup of Ipecac in your animal first-aid kid. For those “just in case” times.

bella-ladybugBe safe out there tonight, if you’re going out with your kids. Enjoy yourself! Have fun, and make it fun for your doggies, too!

One last thing! If you’re taking your dogs out with you, at night? Take a look at getting a leash with reflectors on it, or buying reflective material to highlight your dog – just like giving your kids glow sticks. 😉

What Mighty Big Teeth You Have!

When people find out I specialize in severe behavioral issues and aggression in dogs, they have a LOT of questions. One of the first that’s always asked?

“Have you ever been bitten?” 

Jack Russell Terrier Snarling

After the usual, “Oh yeah, by plenty of puppies, teething stage is real fun” answer, I give them what they want.

“Sorta”

Yep, sorta. I have been full on bitten, only once, by my own dog when she was in full-on Protection Mode and had shut down all her senses except for what was in front of her. All I got was a few puncture spots across my palm, back of my hand, and fingers. It healed fast. I survived with nothing to show. She knew she made the wrong choice as soon as her mouth hit my hand, and she immediately corrected herself and didn’t chomp down completely.

There was a time when a dog specifically went after me, though unsuccessful. Actually, as I write this, I am remembering several times a dog specifically went at me, with the intent to bite me. I mean, come on, that’s my job, so, they sure do try! There was the American Eskimo, the White Shepherd Puppy (2, actually), the Pit Bull, the Border Collie (oh man she wanted to eat my face off), the Australian Cattle Dog, and several small dogs like Min Pins & Chihuahuas. These are completely different situations, and a different type of intended bite. Unlike Adie’s immediately-corrected “Reaction Bite”. These others would’ve been full-force bites. And none of them ever got me. So, no – I’ve never been bit, though many have tried. 🙂

But, that always raises another question:

pibble“What’s the dog bite force pressure? Don’t Pit Bulls have, like, the strongest bite and lock jaw?” 

Hold up…

First of all – Let me dispel something real quick for you:

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS LOCK JAW IN ANY DOG BREED! 

I know, it might be surprising, but you’ll get through this. In fact, Pit Bulls, meaning the all-inclusive 3 bully breeds – American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, don’t even have the strongest bite, of the recorded popular dog breeds that were tested. More on that in a minute.

Now, the animal that DOES have the capability of “Lock Jaw” is you. Yep, you. It’s part of something called TMJ. It’s no fun, my sister has suffered from it since we were kids. You don’t want it.

The reason behind the Pit Bull Lock Jaw myth is because of the amount of muscle that they have in their heads. In most dogs the muscles between the jaw, head, and neck have some kind of separation. Whereas the Bully breeds muscular system is bigger – and all attached. From their jaw to the top of the head, and down the neck. That’s a LOT of muscle, and what makes them so hard-headed, literally. (Great dogs though!) And had a part in giving them their bad reputation. 🙁

Basically bite force varies from breed to breed, and even dog by dog, like a fingerprint. Just as every dog learns differently and has a different personality, their own personal bite force strength will vary. But that won’t stop scientists from giving you a breakdown anyway!

For those that are interested and want to learn more.
Here’s your site, that also quotes DVM sources:
http://www.pbrc.net/mediacenter/mediaqa.html

National Geographic did several tests on bite force pressure. They not only tested dogs, but included other animals – and humans. The results are interesting.

For the sake of comparison, average human (Or Zombie, I guess) bite force pressure is 120 pounds of pressure per square inch.

Pit bulls came in at around 235 pounds psi.
German Shepherds earned 238 pounds.
Rottweiler tested at 328 psi, making it the highest of all the dog breeds.

rottweiler-jaws

Check out that gorgeous mouth!
The Rottweiler jaw, ladies & gentlemen.

However, there are new rumors floating around that the Mastiff has 552 psi, and the Doberman comes in at 600 (right…). IF those rumors are true (because they weren’t tested specifically, and lets still consider #context) that would make the Dobie have the strongest bite force. But, for science sake, and because #facts… The current winner is the Rottweiler.

Sorry to burst some bubbles, or back up the OTHER spouses. I do that a lot, in my line of work. It’s what I’m here for, folks! 🙂

crocodileOh, those other animals?
Lions & White Sharks come in at 600 lbs pressure (sorry Dobies, not looking good for your story… I’d believe a Rhodesian Ridgeback over you guys).
Hyenas at 1,000 lbs.
Snapping Turtles at 1,000 lbs.
And Crocodiles are 2,500 lbs psi.
That sounds… really painful…

I also decided to look up my birds because those guys HURT. All I could find was somewhere between 500-700 pounds of pressure. Not sure how reliable that is, but I know that a Macaw can crush your bone if you piss it off enough…

Moral of the story, folks?

Animals are Friends. And? They can all bite harder than you <3

Bring Me To Your Leader

Having A Structure For Your Pooch:
And Why They’ll Thank You For It. 

dog-leader

“Why should you spend your time training your dog? What’s the point? Aren’t all those things they learn just “tricks”, anyway?”

I have had this question before. It was in an “Intro” class, and was asked by a man who had been sent by his wife, in her stead, and he wasn’t planning on attending any classes, he just wanted to see what it was all about. It’s a great question! There are several reasons why, and not the least of which is to create a structure for your dog to follow. Just like kids, lines need to be defined for your dog(s), so that they can grow up learning how to behave properly in the world and, more importantly, your family.

wolf-packEssentially, what it all comes down to is, dogs all need a “leader”. All of our domestic dogs evolved from wolves. And by ‘evolved’ I mean: Domesticated and bred down to all the breeds you see today, by our own ancestors who built mutually-beneficial relationships with the wild packs inhabiting the same land as them. Wolves live very similarly to us; in family-like packs where the alphas head the group. And because our domestic dogs share the same DNA, they also share the same instincts as their wild cousins. So, they will automatically look to you for guidance. And? If they don’t find that guidance or clear direction from you, their supposed alpha, they will appoint themselves as the alpha of the house. <Cue Danger Music>

not-listeningSo, what happens when a dog decides it’s the alpha of the house? That’s when we see behaviors such as not listening to you when you call them, or not caring if you correct them for doing something they shouldn’t be. They can get destructive, sometimes they can become aggressive toward people or other dogs, possessiveness can happen, or they will even choose to use your carpets and couches as their “grass” and “hydrant” for relieving themselves. In other words, most (all) unwanted behaviors come from lack of structure, and the fact that there has not been a clear alpha established in the home, so the dog has taken on the role itself. And creating it’s own rules (or lack, thereof). And, let me tell you, not all dogs are confident or dominant enough to be the alpha, even if they were in a dog pack.

Just imagine giving your 4-year old child full reign of the house. They choose what they get to do at all times, and you have no say. That doesn’t work for anyone, and can become very disastrous!

The client I mentioned earlier, came to Week 1 with his wife, and they had an adorable, yet very rowdy and unruly, puppy. It turned out that they felt bad for giving their dog so many ‘rules’, before ever attending a training class. They thought that they were being mean to their puppy, and were afraid to hurt his feelings. But, they had an 8-month old jumpy, barky, bitey, handful running their house and determining their routine for them, causing them to cater to him before themselves. And, he was going to turn out to be about 100lbs, when fully grown. Can you imagine a 100lb dog with no rules? Yikes!

doggy-smileLet me assure you of one thing, you will NOT hurt your dog’s feelings, by giving them a structure. And, you are most definitely not being mean to them by doing so, either. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You will give them MUCH more confidence by using positive reinforcement training, giving them a routine to follow, with rules in and outside of the home. They will be a much happier, relaxed dog if you take on that alpha role in their life. You will make it clear where they belong in your pack, which gives them security. They will look to you for “what to do next” in most situations, which eliminates some forms of anxiety that they may have. Also, everybody – human and dog alike, will be MUCH less stressed! And who doesn’t want that? But, most importantly, you will build a strong bond with your dog, based on mutual love and respect, and that creates a great relationship that all parties can benefit from for YEARS. And, that’s the whole point of getting a dog in the first place, isn’t it?

My client? Turns out he LOVED going to classes with his wife. They came together every week, and he took on training that puppy like nothing else. And after a few weeks, he turned out to be one of the most well-behaved in the class. They came back for 3 more sessions, so I got to watch him grow up – which is a part of my job I LOVE. He became such a big, confident, mellow dog that listened to his whole family, including their young kids. They loved that dog like crazy, and when they started they were so frustrated with him and even dealing with feelings of regretting ever getting him. Such a turn around – and all by establishing rules and a good solid structure for him.

dog-human-bondSo, the moral of the story is – Don’t feel bad. Dogs don’t have feelings in the same ways we do. Not to say they don’t experience ‘feelings’. In this case, they enjoy having a solid structure and really appreciate having a clear leader to tell them what to do. In return, they will be loyal, loving, and protective of you and your family. Which makes for a very enjoyable relationship that not only benefits both parties, but is one of the most stress-relieving relationships you can have in life. As I always say, dogs are the best, so why not do the best for them?

Training Tools & Their Proper Use

There are several items that are used in training dogs: leashes, collars, harnesses, treats, clickers, and depending on what you’re training, toys etc. But right now I’m focusing on collars. Specifically correction collars and harnesses.

The reason behind this being, I have recently seen a number of dogs living in collars that are supposed to be used for training purposes. And the opposite – where a correction collar is needed; then not used because it’s misunderstood.

They all have their purpose and place. Often, in most cases, a correction collar isn’t needed. Just a little patience, training and consistency can correct unwanted behaviors. Always start small, then work your way up!

I’ll break these down into 3 categories – With Pictures! 😀

  • Everyday Wear
  • Correction Collars
  • Harnesses

Everyday Wear:

1.braided-buckle-collar 2. fancy-buckle-collar

3. quick-release-collar4. rolled-leather-collar

#1- Braided Leather Collar: As with all leather products, the more you use it, the softer it becomes. The one shown above has what’s called a “quick release” clip, which makes it easy to take off in a pinch. Also, easy to snap onto your dog too, if you’re the type that likes to let them “go naked” at night.

#2- Flat Buckle Collar: These collars are less likely to snap apart in a pinch, but this style comes in so many different colors and patterns (as do the quick release buckles) so you can have more of a “personality” showing with these.

#3- Flat Quick Release Buckle: Again, just like 2, you can find all kinds of colors or patterns, which makes these fun.

#4- Rolled Leather Collar: I prefer these for my dogs, when we need to leave the house. I have always had really fluffy dogs with double coats, and when you put a flat collar on a double-coated dog, it tends to mat the hair underneath and flatten the coat. With a Rolled Leather collar you completely avoid that. They do come in different colors now, but no patterns. You wouldn’t be able to see it in the Malamute’s coat, anyhow 😉

When it comes to “everyday wear”, you want your dog to feel comfortable. Just like how you enjoy wearing sweats at the end of the day. Your dog likes to have it’s comfy “clothes” on, too. These are collars that you leave on your dog. They are also the ones that you attach their information tags to. So always be sure to have them on your dogs when you aren’t home. As well as every time you go out with your dog.

When fitting your dog with a collar, you want it to be tight enough that it wont slide off, over their ears, should they pull away from your grip on it. But loose enough that you can stick about 2-3 fingers in there between the neck & collar. We don’t want doggy to feel strangled, but you want to be able to keep control with it, should the need arise.

All 4 of these collars above are good “everyday wear” for your pups.

Correction Collars: 

1.martingale-collar-2 2. martingale-collar

3. slip-chain-collar 4. prong-collar

#1- Flat Martingale: This collar is designed to resemble the regular “everyday” flat collar. With a bit of a “correction collar” thrown in. A Hybrid, if you will. This is the only one of these four I would be OK with any of my dogs living in. It’s just like a regular flat collar, has a space for the ID Tags, and is also designed to tighten on the dog when it pulls – if you attach the leash on the top ring.

#2- Martingale Collar: This is the first design of the martingale collar. Where they combined the chain collar with the flat. It works in much the same way as #1 does. It tightens when being pulled on, and has a stopping point so that it doesn’t continue to choke your dog. With both of these collars, they CAN be ineffective if left too big. The idea is that it should tighten enough to be uncomfortable, but not so much that the two “stopping rings” touch. I often see these two collars living on dogs, and they are way to big so that when the dog pulls the rings are touching and there is still space between the dog’s neck & the collar. If you are going to have them that way, just put on a regular flat or buckle collar because it’s pretty much the same thing. The “stopping point” of these two collars should stop at your dog’s neck, and still have some space before the rings are touching each other. That’s the truly effective way of using them.

#3- Choke Chain: That’s the traditional name, but Chain Collar works just fine. Or Slip Chain. The “clip” ring (the piece hanging out at the bottom) is where you clip your leash. the “active” ring is what slides closer or further away from your dogs neck. If you are interested in using one of these collars – I HIGHLY suggest getting a professional to help fit your dog with one. There are specific grades of chain (small, medium, heavy, extra heavy, extra small), as well as different lengths.
If it’s too long, it’ll be ineffective. If it’s too short, it’ll be ineffective, and really uncomfortable and potentially dangerous for your dog. It needs to be a perfect fit for your specific dog. Basically, when you slip this on over their head, and pull it all the way out (meaning the active ring is sitting against your dog’s neck) you want to have about 6 inches of chain out. Because the idea of this collar is that the dog listens to the ring sliding on the chain, when you tighten it. Thus teaching your dog to listen to the ring sliding, later on, rather than “getting choked”. Proper technique, and placement on the dog, is everything with this collar, and I DO NOT recommend using one unless you know what you are doing, or you have a professional trainer show you how to use it. This collar is misused about 95% of the time. From the way it’s put on, to it’s size and thickness of the chain. All-in-all, if you feel like your dog needs to ‘graduate’ to this type of collar, PLEASE get some training help before you put one on!

#4- Prong Collar: Ah! It’s a Torture Device! “Doesn’t that hurt the dog?!” Well, yes, it CAN – if you are using it wrong. Again, this is another collar I suggest you ONLY use, if you are being directed by a professional trainer. This is a HIGHLY effective collar for BIG dogs who like to pull. Bully Breeds, Northern Breeds, etc. I have never put one of these collars on a medium or small sized dog. The ONLY people who should be using this collar, are the ones who have dogs that pull. Big dogs can easily knock their people down when going for a walk if they pull hard enough and catch you off guard. If there is any sort of physical limitation such as an elderly person who doesn’t have much strength, anyone healing from some kind of surgery that affects your walking/stability/balance/strength, younger adults/teens with big dogs, etc. I highly recommend using this collar.
It is what I always refer to as “Power Steering”. It is designed to resemble Momma dog’s mouth. When the dog pulls, the “teeth” of the collar tighten around the dog’s neck. When doggy feels that sensation they are automatically reminded of when their mom would correct them for something they did wrong, in the whelping box, and will correct whatever behavior is happening right then.
When used the right way, it can be a VERY effective tool at keeping your dog under control. I NEVER yank on the leash hard to “pop” them with it – the old style training from pre-90’s. It takes just a very small correction using your hand and a slight wrist motion, to get the point across. If this collar is too big, it’ll be ineffective. If this collar is too small – it can cause serious damage to your dog’s neck. Again, if you think you might need this collar to help you on your walks – PLEASE consult a professional to show you how to use it the right way.
NOTE: NEVER leave this on your dog 24/7. For one, they shouldn’t be living in metal, anyway, but for all the reasons stated above – it can be dangerous or become completely ineffective.

Correction collars are named for that purpose. Correcting unwanted behaviors. These four collars are used for training only. They are not to be used as everyday living situation collars. (Number 1 being the only exception to the rule).

In my profession, I have seen so many dogs live in collars 3 & 4. This is a pet peeve of mine, and can be potentially very dangerous. There are all kinds of things that can go wrong with them. They can get caught on something, and because of their design, can choke or severely injure your dog. All four of these collars are designed to tighten when they are pulled at the ring. If your dog gets stuck on something and you aren’t around, it can panic and hurt itself pretty bad with any one of these. It’s just not safe for them.

But, the other reason is this. Dogs also become immune to them. They are for training purposes only. But if they are left on 24/7 your dog will learn to ignore it, and it won’t mean anything to them, anymore. Rendering your training tool completely useless. A dog living in a choke or a prong collar is used to the feel of it around their neck, and when they are wearing it while just hanging out on the couch, or rummaging through the backyard they are having all kinds of other experiences with them, that isn’t “correcting” any type of behavior. So, then a dog that pulls, will continue to pull because it feels the same sensation all day long, doing a million other things on it’s own. Use them for walks & training. Take them off when you are lounging or crating. And NEVER leave them on when playing with other dogs!

Harnesses

1.traditional-harness2.  pull-harness

3. front-clip-harness 4. small-dog-harness

#1- Traditional Harness: This is your basic harness. They go over the head and through the paw and the leash clips on the back. This is a good one to use for riding in the car – clip the seat belt through the hand loop of a tab leash, then clip the leash to the back of the harness. This type of harness will encourage a dog to pull. It feels good because it lies across their muscles, and the more they lean into it, the more they want to. Not the greatest for training a dog to walk nicely next to you.

#2- Pulling Harness: This is usually used on Malamutes and Huskies for pulling competitions or sleds/carts. There are several points on it to distribute the weight evenly throughout the dog, while supporting it at the same time. Again, it feels good on them to pull in it, that’s what it’s designed for – Not training a dog to walk nicely next to you. 😉

#3- Front Clip Harness: This is a nice harness that clips in the front. It is designed with the “gentle leader” in mind, where, when the dog pulls ahead – it encourages them to turn toward you and slow down. It doesn’t necessarily work that exact way, but I do like walking the bigger dogs in this harness, I have more control over them. However, if you have a very rowdy dog that’s persistent enough – they CAN pull out of this. I’ve had it happen. So, depending on your situation, this can be a good harness to use (easy-going, trainable dog, not too into pulling or lunging), or maybe you should consider a collar. 😉 Out of all 4 of these harnesses, for large breed dogs – this is the one I prefer!

#4- Soft Shirt Harness: I believe they only make this harness for small to medium dogs. And that’s just fine – that’s the only dog I would suggest putting in these. It’s comfortable on them, there are no points where the harness straps can dig into the doggy’s arms or sides. It clips in the back which is convenient for the smaller dogs. I prefer walking any small dog in this – or harness #1 – instead of collars. Small breed dogs aren’t strong enough to pull you into the street, but you are strong enough to accidentally hurt them, n the wrong type of collar. So, as a universal rule, for me, I like putting all small dogs in this type of harness for walking or training.

And – Just like correction collars – always remove the harness when you get home! Dogs shouldn’t live in a harness, either. It’s uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, and can cause skin and hair loss issues.

What’s a Tab Leash?

You probably thought I’d forget – nope! I mentioned it, so here it is.

tab-leash

These are Tab Leashes. It’s a very short leash with just a handle on it. These are some of my favorite leashes, personally, because I always have REALLY big dogs (Shown Below is an example of me with my King Shepherd Tobi). I also like using these for seat belts. However – when I am training dogs, I always recommend a 6ft. leather leash for all my clients. Leather – the more you use it, the softer it gets. When in training you will always need more length. But I do recommend these paired with a harness, for seat belts in the car!

me-tobi

That’s usually why I don’t need long leashes 😉
Me & Good Ole Tobi
(10/2000 – 05/2011)

Time to “Shed” those winter coats!

Put Away Your Winter ‘Coats’!

It’s time to “shed” those old winter styles and get into some new Spring Wear!

ok, I’m done with the puns…

That’s right; it’s the end of February, spring is just around the corner, and that means its allergy season and time for all our furry friends to shed their winter coats, and grow in their thinner, lighter, spring/summertime coats.

All animals shed, including humans. And there are two major shedding seasons here; the transition from winter to spring, and the transition from summer to fall. Now, depending on the type of animal you have, you will have varying degrees of shedding.

Short-haired dogs, such as Labradors, Dalmatians, and smooth coat breeds tend to continually lose their hair throughout the year, the same as humans do. With it increasing in amounts during the two shedding seasons.

Double-coated dogs, such as Malamutes, Huskies, and Akitas, hang onto their coats throughout the year and go through the two shedding seasons “blowing” their coats. This means that, instead of a steady flow of shedding throughout the year, they lose it all at once during those two seasons. Causing tumble-weeds of fur, or “tufts of cotton” to come out in handfuls. And, I can tell you, it’s quite addicting sitting there picking out the tufts of hair… lol

Horses are the same as the double coated dogs, they shed during the two major seasons and then hang onto that coat for the entire season. They get fluffy (I LOVE it!) during the fall/winter months, and very sleek during the spring/summer.

You can bet cats are the same way, short-haired, vs. long-haired!

In my next post I will talk about the differences in coats in dogs, and what tools are best used for them. In this post, I’m going to share some tricks and tips on dealing with shedding in ALL animals!

Firstly, the best thing is to brush your pets. Most animals enjoy it, because it’s bonding time with you, it feels good, and it stimulates the part of the brain that “reminds them” of when they were young and their mother would groom them. It’s good for your blood pressure also!

If you spend just 5 minutes a day, every day, brushing your pets, it will keep your house clean, it will keep their coats clean, and it will help to keep their skin & hair healthy.

Animals have natural oil-producing glands throughout their bodies that naturally lubricate and clean the skin. It’s like built-in lotion! When they start to shed, the old hair pulls out old dead skin and oil with it. So, brushing your pet gets rid of that old, dry, dirty skin and hair, and actually stimulates the skin to produce more of that good oil; causing your pet to look shinier, and the coat to feel softer.

Bathing will help too, but brushing is the best thing for shedding season. When you frequently bathe your dog or cat, you can strip away those naturally occurring oils, sometimes causing dry or itchy skin afterward. So, the more you brush the better! There are some cases, and situations, where you need to bathe your animal frequently. I have always said that every animal and every situation is an individual.

If you have a short-haired dog, cat, or rabbit, I have a trick for you. A quick way to pull out loose hair in a hurry? Get a towel, dampen it with warm water, wring it out, and then in the direction of their hair, wipe your animal down with it once on each side of the towel. It will pull out all the immediate loose hair, and you will get a short break from the shedding. This is good to do when you are going to take them somewhere, or if you have guests coming over. This also works on young animals that are going through a “mini-shedding” right now.

If your pet is in its first year right now, you will not see a huge amount of coat changes. Puppies’ coats shift from puppy to adult between 6mo and a year, so they go through a mini-shed then. Same with kittens, you won’t see any major coat changes until after the first year.

Have an animal that doesn’t enjoy being brushed? Try giving it something to do while you’re brushing it. Dogs can get bones or chewies, Cats can be fed some wet food or yogurt, give your rabbit a full sized carrot, with a top on it. Make it something special for them, that way they can associate being brushed with their favorite treat. If you need to put them on a leash to brush them in the beginning, then do that. But make sure you start out in short bursts of time. Five minutes is perfect! And always end on a good note!

What helps most is to start them early. Even if they aren’t losing any hair yet, still brush them down, while they play or chew. Pick up their feet, check between their toes, around the pads of their feet. This goes for all animals! If you start them young, they will get used to it quickly. Adie sees her brush come out and she comes running over and sits at my feet. She LOVES her grooming time, and will generally fall asleep while I’m brushing her, too!

How old is “old”?

Some say when your dog hits 7 years old, they are now considered “elderly”. Some say when your cat turns 10; depending on the size or breed of the dog/cat.

Here’s my answer: Don’t put an age to it! Every animal is different and develops differently. Here I will touch on some of the changes you may see in an older pet. Also, yes, size and breed do come into play but again, every animal is an individual.

So, then, what determines the animal being “old”?

First of all, you will never catch me calling my dogs “elderly” or “a senior”. My theory is it keeps them young if I continue to refer them to as “puppy” or “kitten”, but my beliefs are a whole other topic of conversation, best left for another time 😉

At 14 years old my 80lb Husky still bounced and danced around for food until the day before his passing. My 130lb King Shepherd, at 10 years old, was the same way. They had plenty of energy, and only once in a while I would think of them as “old”. Good bloodlines, maybe? They were both always in really good physical shape, too. Except for those few years that my Husky, Prince, was on a strict diet… but who hasn’t had to go on one in their life?

Now, there were changes in them, of course. That is what I will draw out here. I started noticing more significant differences in my Husky when he was about 12 years old. With my King Shepherd, it was only about 6 months prior to his passing he really started showing signs of his age.

You know your animal better than anybody else would. You spend every day with them, you’ve watched them go through many stages and you know their likes and dislikes. And you will notice these changes in them as they reach that “older” (and hopefully wiser?) stage.

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So what’s different about having an older animal vs. a younger one? And what things should you think about, to make life easier for them?

DOGS

Things Slow Down: Let me just say, animals are not aware of their “age”, they just are. So, at some point they will look at you as if to say “why my body no work right?” Essentially, they don’t understand why they can’t move the way they used to. They try, but their bodies get slower, and ‘stumblier’. So being aware of where the drunken versions of them are walking around you helps a lot of accidental tumbles. Also, laying down runner carpets throughout a hardwood floored house eases their pathways for cruising around.

Foggy Eyes: This one is one of those signs of an older dog. Whenever you see something, medically, change in your animal. It’s always good to contact your vet and ask them if they should be seen for it. Especially if you notice that that change may be hindering their quality of life somehow (i.e. – suddenly blind in one side, or both eyes).

Loss of Hearing: This is common and can happen at any age, in varying breeds. This is not limited to dogs that are “older”. An undetected ear infection can cause loss of hearing in an ear. But if your dog is up there in age, and is losing its hearing, there are a few things you can do to help your dog. (Again, if anything medical occurs in your dog, consult your vet.) When I am dealing with a dog that has a hard time hearing, I can get their attention visually, or I will stomp my foot on the floor if they are within range to feel the vibrations. Remember dogs are visual communicators, so if you can get their attention, the rest is easy. If the dog is sleeping, their “fight or flight” instinct is heightened, because they don’t have the ear to warn them beforehand. So, I will try to wake them by changing the lights in the room. If that doesn’t work, I will go up to them calmly and place a treat or my hand (depending on the dog) nearby so that their nose can wake them up. It’s the most pleasant way for them to wake. And that can lessen any chance of an accidental wake up chomp.

Body Heat Regulator on the Fritz: Older dogs get colder easily. Always make sure that they have shelter, a warm place to lie, and a soft bed as well. It’s much easier on their slow-moving bodies for them to have these things. Blankets, beds, kennels, etc all help them to keep warm, and keep those joints moving.

Gotta go, Gotta go, Gotta go right now!: Remember that old commercial? Same goes for our canine friends, they need more frequent access to potty areas. They will go more, and take longer, and sometimes they will travel and go at the same time. So keep an eye on them and where they’re cruising around. Their bodies can’t hold them in one position for too long anymore, so walking helps to “move things along”, so to speak.

Dry Mouth: Older dogs also tend to drink quite a bit more. They get dehydrated quicker, they need more water around. Fresh free water access is a must! But, remember the one above this? It’s a vicious cycle.

Someone have a bib handy?: Teeth are extremely important. This is when they start having teeth issues. You can begin brushing, or brush more frequently to help promote clean strong teeth. I give my dogs plenty to chew on their entire lives to keep their teeth healthy as long as possible. Never feed canned food, which will only rot their teeth quicker. Dry food, or raw food diet blend, is best for your dogs to keep their teeth strong and healthy their entire lives. If they are having issues chewing as an older dog, just add water to their kibble, let it soak and serve it up.

CATS

Many similar issues, again, if you see anything change in your cats, medically, consult your vet.

BLEH: Some cats begin throwing up when they are older. Some cats do it all their lives. Anyway, it’s something cats must enjoy doing, because it’s universal. Giving them some Petromalt is a product you can get to help with hairballs, which can sometimes be the cause of throwing up (sometimes).

Multiple Relief Stations: Cats tend to start going potty all over when they are older. Everyone starts to “loose it” when age hits them. So having more areas for your kitties to “go”, can help keep your floors a little cleaner. Also, some cats get bad aim when they are older as well, So I suggest getting puppy pee pads and placing them around the outside of the box so that it can catch and absorb anything that escapes.

Being gentler and slower around older animals comes naturally to me. I like to try to prevent any accidental tumbles or other issues. So I am hyper-aware of where they are all the time, and will sometimes help guide them around If I see they may need it. Anything to make them more comfortable and for their little bodies to move around easy is the rule of thumb. And always remember they can see you. Startling a dog or cat is not usually a good thing 😉

*Always talk to your vet whenever you notice anything different, or before starting any new regime with your pets (i.e. including supplements, etc)

Dogs Love to Party Too

I think my dog is having a “Doggy Hangover” today. Yesterday we had a birthday party for my mom and everybody came over. Everybody includes my brother, his wife, my sister, her husband and two kids, my boyfriend, my best friend, along with both my parents and I.

Everyone was here for about four hours. We all had a lot of fun, the mood was great, and the energy was flowing and very upbeat. At the end of the night, the kids had a meltdown because it was time to go home to bed. They were having too much fun for it to end!

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Adie, my Malamute, had her own meltdown after everyone left, which consists of her “woo’ing” and barking at us over and over for about 10 minutes because everyone is gone. She is always SO psyched to have her family and friends come over. The kids are her favorite. They hug her, play with her, run around with her, and lay all over her, not to mention all the goodies they sneak to her. They have a great relationship and I can completely trust her with them. Adie watches over the kids and makes sure they’re okay. She will even run to them if they get hurt or upset.

Ya know that feeling, after a party, the next day, where you’re just worn out and tired or hungover? After all the excitement has died down and gone away and you have an empty house. You just kinda mope around in the quiet? Well, that’s how Adie is today.

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As I went out to hang with her for a bit this afternoon, she was snoozing in her igloo. She slowly emerged, eyes half open, stretched, and sauntered over to me. As she came up to me, she slowly walked to my side and rested her head in my lap. She glanced, lazily, up at me, sighed, then closed her eyes, her head still resting on my lap. Her energy totally drained.

Why does she get so excited? Not just because they’re friends and family and she knows them, but dogs are pack animals. They thrive on togetherness just like humans do. They get excited and stay happy when their people are over; they get to socialize the same way we do when we have a party. When our energy level is up, so is theirs!

This doesn’t naturally happen so easily. Oh no! It took a lot of patience, training, and work with her when she was young so that I could get her to the point of totally trusting her. Adie is now 6 years old, almost 7. I began our first training session the second she stepped foot out of the car when we got home from the airport. We still, to this day, will “practice” all of her commands and tricks. She LOVES every second of it!

Dogs are natural pack animals, but that is not the same as naturally social. Their wild cousins, the wolf, must learn how to function in the family unit. The same is true for our family pets. They aren’t born knowing how to deal with other dogs, or with all kinds of people for that matter.

When my dogs are young, anywhere from 8 weeks old and up, I have them meet at least one new person a day, as well as around 10 new dogs a week. I will continue this for the first two to three months I have them. The reason for this is that they will get to encounter several different ages, personalities, and quirks along the way. That will help me be able to guide them in how to handle each individual they meet. It prepares them for anything and everything when they are older.

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The reason for doing this so young, and why it is so important to socialize them when they’re that young, is because puppies are impressionable, but don’t hold a grudge at that age. They don’t take things “personally” yet; they are still learning the world. They are still sponges ready to learn anything you are teaching them. Also, younger puppies don’t piss off older dogs as much as puppies/dogs that are 6 months and older do. So you have the benefit of the older dog’s natural patience with your puppy as well.

Socializing with children is just as important as socializing your dog with other dogs. Children are very short, fast-moving, unpredictable 2-legged dogs. They can be weapon-wielding, loud, quiet, fast, slow, unstable, and dangerous all at the same time! So, the more kids, the better! All ages are important, too.

Adie was already a year old when my nephew was born, and two years later my niece came, but she got to have the experience of being around very young babies. She learned how to move around them, as they were learning how to move around themselves, and now they are at the age where they can go out and let her loose with them, after they ask of course. She enjoys every minute of it.

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