How to Tell If Your Adopted Pet Was Abused - And How to Help Them Cope
(Dr. Becker - Healthy Pets)
Sadly, many animals, including family pets, are victims of abuse at some point in their lives. Abuse can be active in the form of physical attacks or punishment, or it can be passive, for example, neglect. In fact, abuse comes in many forms, including:
According to world-renowned veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, writing for PetPlace:
“An older animal may bounce back from a bad situation, but a young, impressionable pet will show lasting mental scars. He or she often has to be coaxed out of a shell of resistance and will likely never be fully trusting.”1
Was My Adopted Pet Abused?
What to Look ForPets who have been abused are easy to spot if you know the signs. They are very often withdrawn, distrustful, depressed, physically inactive, and unwilling to play. A particularly sensitive abused animal will be off in the corner of the room or in a hiding place, too insecure to even explore her environment. Often the fear extends to the outdoors and open spaces. Many abused pets are hyper-vigilant, tend to isolate themselves, and make very little noise.
Other signs of mistreatment depend on the type of abuse or neglect the animal has endured. For example, a young pet who has spent much of his time alone may exhibit extreme separation anxiety when separated from his new adoptive guardian.
If kitties aren’t exposed to people during their first seven weeks, they develop a permanent distrust of humans. Cats that have been frightened or physically hurt during those seven weeks may develop generalized hostility that cannot be overcome.
Creating a Safe Environment for a Previously Abused Pet
If you know or suspect your pet was abused in a former life, the first thing you should do is set some realistic goals – for her and for you. Take care not to: 1) expect an overnight change in your furry companion, or 2) expect a complete turnaround.
It takes time to help an abused pet learn to look at the world differently and develop trust in humans again. With knowledge, hard work and commitment, a previously abused animal can be transformed into a much-loved member of your family… but she can’t be reborn. It’s important to always remember that.
Here are some general guidelines for creating a safe environment for a previously abused pet:
When your pet is well along the healing path you’ve laid out for him, it’s time to initiate rehabilitation in the form of desensitization. Dr. Dodman calls desensitization “the behavioral equivalent of homeopathy.” It involves introducing a little bit of what bothers your pet, gradually and under close supervision.
Desensitization of your pet might be controlled exposure to strangers or dogs, or being left alone if separation anxiety is a problem. Desensitization is best performed along with counter-conditioning, which associates the fear triggers with a positive response, typically food.
Rehabilitating an abused pet presents a significant challenge, because these animals have been exposed to negative things they can’t “unlearn” despite your best efforts. But it’s important to feel hopeful, because wonderful turnarounds do happen, and there’s nothing more gratifying.
If you’ve rescued a previously abused pet or are considering adoption, I highly recommend a program called A Sound Beginning, which was lovingly and expertly designed to help rescue dogs and adoptive guardians learn to communicate effectively and form an unbreakable bond.
Many abused animals have behavior issues that may not be immediately apparent. If notable issues continue to surface or you’re having trouble helping your pet make the positive changes you’d hoped for, consider working with a veterinary behaviorist. Additionally, working with a holistic practitioner that can suggest appropriate homeopathics, flower essences, and essential oil blends, may help facilitate positive feelings, emotions, and behavior changes sooner than expected.
Ask the Trainer: My Dog Has Become Aggressive Toward Children
(Kevin Duggan, CPDT-KA in Ask the Trainer6 - Dogington Post)
Autumn is a 4yr old mini dachshund. She is a very sweet dog but lately around small children she barks at them as if she may bite. How do I ease her anxiety around little ones?
Firstly, I want to let you know never to punish her if she growls/barks at a child. This is a warning sign that she is uncomfortable. If we punish her for warning us, then she may just start to bite without warning. That being said we can actually change the way that she looks at children.
We can do this by having her around kids and only good things happening to her. For example: She is with you somewhere and a child walks by her at a safe distance and tosses her something she loves. The job of the child would just be to walk a straight line past her at a safe distance while tossing treats. When she is comfortable with that you can increase the energy level of the child tossing the treat. (Maybe he jogs by her instead of walking.) When that is going well add in another child and start off pretty calm. Increase the energy level as she is doing well. How long this will take is dependent upon how uncomfortable she is around children currently.
Over time, Autumn will learn to associate children with good things (treats, praise, a toy, etc – whichever is most valuable to her) and will be happy to see them instead of uncomfortable.
Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA
How to Quickly Stop Dog Barking
(Dr. Andrew Jones - Veterinary Secrets)
Dog barking is a very common behavior problem that causes serious grief for pet owners. It irritates the neighbors, scares away the postman, leads to neighborhood unrest, and occasionally lawsuits. In this article you will learn why dogs bark and the causes of inappropriate barking. You will find why the debarking surgery is never advised and is considered unethical. I will advise you on what not to do, then you will find the most important solutions to quickly stopping your dog’s barking at home.
Barking is a completely normal behavior; great for dog communication, guarding and protecting, but a big problem when it happens too much. Finding the cause of the excessive barking is key, as we can focus on this as well to help eliminate the problem barking. Some of the common dog barking reasons: play, giving a warning, from anxiety or fear, in response to the door bell, to keep visitors of your property, or in some cases just boredom. Some dogs will bark in confined spaces ( ie a kennel), being outside in response to other dogs, or just in response to environmental noise ( ie cars, people talking etc.).
Debarking,or ventriculocordectomy is a veterinary procedure in which the dog’s vocal chords are surgically removed. The procedure is outlawed as a form of mutilation in the United Kingdom and all countries that have signed the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. The surgery carries risks, such as anesthesia, excessive bleeding, secondary infections and proliferation of scar tissue obstructing the airway. Barking is how dogs communicate, and this procedure deprives them of this basic means of expression. I fully agree with the European ban on debarking surgery, and advise that you never consider this unethical procedure as an option for your dog.
So what should you not do that most people do?
First quit yelling at your dog to ‘Stop Barking’ or ‘Be Quiet’; in fact this may actually lead to more barking. Your dog is getting attention when he barks, and some dogs find that this attention is better than non at all. Shock collars are painful, and can actually make your dog more aggressive toward the person or other dog that they may be barking at. Do not give your dog positive attention immediately after barking, such as saying ‘good dog’ when he finally comes after calling him for 10 times.
What works then to stop your dog from barking?
The most important way to start is to go back to dog training basics and teach your dog to come when called. Start when you can almost guarantee that your dog will come, not when they are barking. Begin anywhere with no other distractions, and use tasty treats as a positive reward. Always ensure that positive reward is given every time your dog comes when called, never anything negative. If your dog runs out after a neighbor barking, and will not come, go get him as opposed to calling to come at first. You want to set it up that every time you call, he comes, and then gets rewarded with positive attention, petting, and a treat.
The next step in using training to stop barking is to call your dog to come when they are barking. When he comes, give him positive attention and a treat; you want to pet him which will lower his anxiety, decreasing adrenalin which is part of the cause of the barking. Keep the pattern of call, come, praise give a treat, and pet him consistently every time there is barking you want to stop.
Keep your dog away from the places where he barks- in other words set him up for success. If your dog constantly barks when you leave him outside, then avoid these triggers by keeping him inside, especially while you are retraining. If the barking is in response to your doorbell, then remove the doorbell. Make it a priority to never let your dog bark constantly while being outside, and if the come when called command isn’t working, immediately bring your dog inside.
Adequate exercise is one of the big keys to resolving many canine behavioral problems; this gives your dog a purpose, and allows them to better regulate their own emotions. Incorporate the come when called training command while walking, and make it a priority to exercise your dog for at least 30 minutes twice a day. Have them retrieve or run as this elevated heart rate helps produce the calming, sedating hormones that can lead to less barking.
Bark spray collars, such as the citronella spray collar, can be helpful if your dog resists training, and is outside unsupervised for short periods of time (and still barks). The collar emits a spray of non toxic citronella in response to the noise of the barking, and causes most dogs to immediately stop. Some of the problem dogs at the animal shelter adjacent to my veterinary practice responded well to the citronella collar; it stopped their barking at the grumpy neighbor, and did not make them in any way aggressive ( except of course to that grumpy neighbor).
A type of therapeutic touch, called Tellington Touch may help your barking dog. The most effective area is the ear. Gently hold the ear flap between your thumb and forefinger. Gently stroke from the base of the ear to the ear tip; repeat the motion several times covering different sections of the ear. Use the same fingers to draw tiny circles at the base of the ear. Try both of the techniques on your dog when he is calm. If he reacts well, then try it the next time he is barking.
There are a number of over the counter anti-anxiety supplements. The most popular one is one called Calm Pet, which contains Melatonin, Kava Kava, St John’s Wort, Valerian and Chamomile. Use as directed on the label. Bach Rescue Remedy is a very safe alternative medication that may calm your anxious pet. Place 4 drops on your pet’s gums prior to leaving.
Dog barking really can be controlled, especially when you understand why your dog is barking. The causes are varied, but ultimately you must accept that it is a normal dog way of communicating; your dog just needs to bark when it’s appropriate. Debarking or ventriculocordectomy is a dated unethical veterinary surgery that can cause harm and should never be considered as an option. Go back to basic training, starting with teaching your dog to come when called. Consider the use of a citronella spray collar if your dog is outside unsupervised, then look at trying some of the holistic anti-bark options in conjunction with training.
Dr Andrew Jones, DVM
How Can I Quiet My Barking Dogs?
(Dogington Post - Brandy Arnold in Ask the Trainer )
One thing that could help this right off the bat would be increase exercise. In theory if they have less energy in them, they have less energy to bark at things out of the window. From a training standpoint I am going to recommend something similar to what you mentioned but with some important variations.
My first goal when working with dogs and distractions is to get their attention on me. The cue I use for this is their name. The way this works is you say the dog’s name and then the dog looks up at you. Directly after the dog looks at you it is very important that you say your praise word followed by a high value reward. A high value reward to a dog is something like string cheese, hot dogs, turkey, toy etc. Make sure not to repeat the name. If the dog does not look when you say it once, make some sort of other noise to get its attention. It really comes down to finding what your dog(s) will work for.
When teaching this cue in the beginning it is important to start with no to minimal distractions. Start off really easy and once the dog(s) is getting it increase the difficulty of the distraction. This is going to be important because if you try to just jump to a very difficult distraction you will not have much if any success.
When the Attention Work is very solid use it on these distractions out of the window. It will go something like this:
Dog barks out of window.
Human says name of dog,
Dog looks up at human,
Human says “good boy” (or something like that)
Human rewards with a high value reward.
Your dog(s) will start to catch on to this game. The dog(s) may start to anticipate its name being called and start to look at you. If this is the case, every time the dog(s) looks through the window and sees something it usually barks at, and does not bark, say “good boy” and reward.
With all of the repetition of saying “good boy” and then being rewarded, you can start to faze out having to say the dog(s) name by using “good boy” because they know exactly what comes after the it. It will look something like this:
Dog looks out of window,
Human says “good boy” before dog barks,
Dog looks back up to human and is rewarded,
Dog looks out of window and the cycle repeats.
From a punishment standpoint what I would recommend is using a leash and removing the dog after it barks. Do that for about 5 minutes and then let it back in that room if you choose. I would stay in the room and reward the dog if it looks and does not bark, or do the same punishment if it does bark. If you are very strict with this it can help a lot. You can use a phrase such as “Too bad” just after the bark and just before you remove the dog. I would focus on doing the first protocol I mentioned primarily. But don’t be afraid to use both.
Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA
Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org) and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear.
How Do I Keep My Dog From Barking When He's in the Car?
(MIKKEL BECKER - Vetstreet)
Q: My dog embarrasses me by barking at other people and dogs while in the car. How do I stop him from doing this?
A: Many pet owners avoid eye contact and talk in hushed tones when they confess to me that their dog lets out shrill yaps in the car. Take heart: It’s a common problem that can stem from different emotions, including fear, frustration and sometimes just plain fun.
For dogs, the scenario is simple: I bark, then the other dog or person leaves. The barking makes them go away, so I’m going to do it again in the future. Although the barking doesn't actually make the person or dog leave, many canines connect the events and repeat the annoying behavior.
Practically speaking, conducting a training session while driving isn’t realistic — and certainly isn't safe — and it’s also a challenge to address barking when a dog is left unattended in a car. So the best option is to use a containment system, which better controls a dog who's left alone in an automobile.
From a safety standpoint, a dog should be restrained in the backseat to reduce driver distraction and safeguard the dog in the event of an accident. You can buy restraint systems that come with harnesses, which fasten to seat belts and reduce the range a dog can roam in the car. Or you can opt for my favorite equipment: a crate.
You can use soft-sided or hard-sided crates, which should be strapped down. The crate allows only limited vision outside the car, cutting down on barking. To further soothe your dog, give him a stuffed Kong or another tempting chew toy to focus on, or use a pheromone spray in the crate, which has a relaxing effect.
A lot of owners feel guilty about putting their dogs in car restraints because they think it takes away their joy, but you're not doing the dog a favor by giving him free run of the car. By using a restraint, you have the best chance of protecting your pet during a crash — along with keeping him from fleeing the scene of an accident.
Ask the Trainer: Breaking an Unwanted Puppy Behavior
(Brandy Arnold in Ask the Trainer1 - Dogington Post)
Penny is a pit bull who has just recently started barking a lot (10 months old). She crouches down in a “I’m getting ready to pounce” position and then barks nonstop, essentially wanting us to chase her or pay attention to her. How do I break her of this habit?
Being 10 months old she is right around what is referred to as the “terrible twos” for a dog. This means that she will probably be testing her boundaries and getting into a little bit of trouble. Also, being 10 months old she will just naturally have a lot of energy.One thing I would recommend for anyone with a dog that has extra energy, is to increase the mental and physical exercise that it gets. Shoot for at least an hour of physical exercise a day. I say at least because in the grand scheme of things, one hour to a dog is not very much.When she is acting like this it tells me that she has some extra energy that needs to be released. I like to take these opportunities to do some training. Just some basic obedience like sits, down, coming when called etc. You could even take this opportunity to try to teach her a new trick. Basically, instead of trying to fight all that energy, try to take advantage of it and put it to use. It sounds like you guys can accomplish a lot.
Remember to stay positive and use lots of reinforcement when she does a behavior you like.
Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA
Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org) and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear.
2 Responses to Ask the Trainer: Breaking an Unwanted Puppy Behavior
Dog Begging: When Your Dog Begs At The Table
We’ve all done it—give in to those sad puppy eyes—at one time or another. Feeding our dogs scraps from the table not only demonstrates our lack of self control, it can be harmful to our dog’s health. How do you refuse your dog that little piece of bacon that fell off your BLT? You may think you’re showing your dog kindness by giving up that coveted morsel, but is it doing your dog more harm than good?
Your Kindness Could Be Hurting Your Dog
A few months ago we did a post giving 5 tips on ways to keep your dog safe during Thanksgiving. Number one on our list was “Don’t feed your dog table scraps.” The reason why this was number one is because the fat shavings and the turkey scraps could lead to a very serious disease called Pancreatitis. This is an inflammation of the pancreas, and can be fatal.
Even if your dog doesn’t develop this serious disease, the extra snacks are not going to help his weight problem. More than half of American dogs are either overweight or obese, and giving in to his begging isn’t going to make them lose any weight—in fact it will do the opposite. Even if your dog isn’t currently overweight, as he gets older, you don’t want to have him in the habit of begging for treats when he does struggle with weight gain.
Why Does My Dog Beg?
The reason why your dog is begging to begin with is because he knows he’s going to get a handout. If he never got anything that originated from the kitchen table, he wouldn’t sit there expectantly, using all his puppy charm. He knows that when he has begged previously, he has been rewarded for it, so he will continue begging—unless there is no reward.
How Can I Stop Dog Begging?
To get your dog to stop begging at the table, you simply stop the flow of reward. Ignore your dog’s behavior when he’s begging, and he will stop the behavior. However, this is easier said than done; it’s hard to resist those sad brown eyes! Unless you have an iron will, here’s some suggestions that will help stop your puppy from begging at the dinner table:
Tip of the Day:
Stopping unwanted begging:
The first thing to do to stop a dog from begging is to figure out how close in proximity the dog is allowed to get when you are eating or preparing food. I like to make an imaginary line to represent this. From here you need to be very consistent in reinforcing the appropriate behavior, (rewarding dog for staying behind the line) and punishing the inappropriate behavior.(Removing the dog if it crosses that invisible line.) The punishment just needs to consist of the dog being removed from the area meaning all you have to do is say,"no" and either lure or gently move the dog back to the correct side.
*This will take some patience, persistence, time, stubbornness on the human’s part, and consistency. Lots and lots of consistency.
*Remember if you are going to give scraps, make sure the dog is behind the line. Anytime you give the dog something while it is on the wrong side of the line, it is very likely the dog will keep coming over the line.
*Another option is to teach the dog a place where it is supposed to stay until it is released. The same rules apply for this game.#dogtraining
All Dogs Go To Kevin LLC
Do You Have a Dog with Behavioral Issues? This Can Make a Huge Difference…
(Dr Karen Becker - Healthy Pets/July 20, 2015 )
When veterinarians and other pet care experts talk about “environmental enrichment,” they’re often referring to improving a cat's environment.
However, all companion and captive animals can benefit from environmental enrichment. Today I want to talk specifically about ways to enhance your dog’s quality of life.
What is Environmental Enrichment?
Environmental enrichment for pets, also called behavioral enrichment, means enhancing an animal’s surroundings and lifestyle so that he is presented with novelty in his environment, opportunities to learn, and encouragement to engage in instinctive, species-specific behaviors.
Environmental enrichment is used to address many behavioral disorders in dogs, including “rowdiness,” cognitive dysfunction syndrome, storm and noise phobias, separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and behaviors resulting from boredom and/or frustration.
In addition to treating behavioral disorders, environmental enrichment should be viewed as an essential part of providing an excellent quality of life for all pets due to its proven positive effect on the health and well-being of animal companions.
When you offer a new toy to your dog, you’ve probably noticed that while she’s very excited by it initially, she loses interest within a day or so (or within hours or even minutes, depending on the dog and the toy). That’s because dogs habituate to toys, meaning they get used to them. The new toy quickly becomes just another inanimate object in your dog’s environment.
You can work around the problem by rotating your pet’s toys. Provide your dog with a supply of different types of toys in varying shapes, sizes, textures, colors, and scents. A general guideline is to offer three toys per day. At the end of the day remove them, and reintroduce them about every five days so they remain “new” to your dog.
Dogs need daily exercise to be optimally healthy and emotionally balanced, and this goes double for young pets and high-energy breeds. It’s important to understand that your dog – no matter how small – can’t get adequate exercise running around your home or backyard by himself.
In a perfect world, every dog would have opportunities to do some high-intensity endurance running on a regular basis to release endocannabinoids, which are the “happy hormones” responsible for the “runner’s high” in both humans and canines.
Most dogs don’t engage in intense exercise with their owners for a variety of reasons, but your dog really does need your help to get the most out of exercise and playtime. There are lots of activities you can enjoy with your pet, no matter your own level of physical fitness or limitations. Suggestions:
Take a walk or hike with your dog
Play a game of tug-of-war
Roller blade or jog with your dog
Take your dog for a swim and play fetch in the water
Take a bike ride alongside your dog using a special dog bike leash
Play hide-and-seek with treats or your dog’s favorite toys
Play fetch the ball using a ball launcher to extend the distance your dog runs to retrieve and return the ball
Walking Your Dog
Another way to enhance your dog’s experience of her environment is to take her on a variety of different types of walks. For example:
If your canine companion does well at the dog park, visits there can provide opportunities for dog-to-dog interaction, exercise, and vigorous play.
If you have friends with dogs, arrange play dates. These can be excellent low-pressure social situations for dogs that need to hone their interaction skills without being overwhelmed by too many dogs, or an overly dominant dog.
Involve your dog in agility, obedience, nose work, tracking, flyball, canine freestyle, or another dog-centered event.
Additional Enrichment Strategies
Having Guests Over? Put a Stop to These 5 Dog Behavior Problems
( MIKKEL BECKER - Vet Street)
Having guests over can be stressful if your pets aren't properly prepared for company. Consider Jackson the Papillon who shakes, cowers and paces when company arrives. Or Katie the Westie, who growls and bares her teeth when table scraps fall near her. Or Bosque the Goldendoodle, who jumps, barks and causes general mayhem every time the doorbell rings.
Here are five common behavior pitfalls and some quick tips for managing — or avoiding — each of them.
Problem #1: Fear of People
If there have been more people in the house than normal, this can cause fear and aggression to escalate. A stressed-out dog may snap at or bite a guest, which is why it is so important to help your dog manage his fears.
Solution: If your dog is most anxious when guests arrive, having visitors greet him in the right manner can have a calming effect. If he is overwhelmed by extra people in your house, create a getaway space for him where he can be safely separated from the crowd. And for a big party or event, consider taking him to doggy day care or boarding him. Of course, if your dog is aggressive toward or overly fearful of people, it’s important to get professional help, starting with your veterinarian.
Problem #2: Excitability
Is your dog already the excitable type? Then having a party may increase his enthusiasm and activity level. Barking incessantly, jumping on guests and racing around your house are just a few of the problems you may face with a bulldozer-type dog.
Solution: Put a front clip harness or head halter on your dog and attach a leash before guests arrive. With the right equipment, you can more easily control your dog’s forward motion and prevent him from assaulting friends and family as they come through the door. If possible, greet guests outside. Most dogs are able to calm down more easily when greeting in an open area, like your front porch, rather than a closed in space, like the entryway. Promote calm behavior by rewarding your dog with high-value treats for behaviors like sitting, looking at you and keeping all four paws on the floor. Once the initial greeting is over, most dogs will settle down, especially if given a food puzzle or toy to keep them busy.
Problem #3: Door Dashing
Every time the doorbell rings, your dog sees it as an opportunity to make a run for it — and if you are having a party, it can seem like there’s always someone at the door. It’s no wonder dogs attempt to escape. Bolting out the door equals freedom to run and explore, but it can easily end in disaster.
Solution: To prevent door dashing, clip a leash on your dog or put up a doggy barrier before you open the door. In addition, train your dog to wait at all doors in a calm manner, a behavior that takes only a few steps to teach. Practice this during the year when you are having company over.
Problem #4: Resource Guarding
Dogs that are growly over sacred possessions have significant problems when there are more people to guard those things from. Prized items are often, but not always, food: I worked with a Cocker Spaniel who would become growly over things like used Kleenex and gum wrappers.
Solution: If your canine happens to get into something he shouldn’t and is guarding his ill-gotten treasure, don’t confront him; instead, distract him. Successful distractions include ringing the doorbell, opening the fridge, starting the car or putting on your shoes — all of which signal something exciting about to happen. If other people are around, have someone else grab the forbidden item when the dog moves toward the distraction; if you are home alone, contain your dog in another room or behind a barrier before retrieving the prized item. Keep all tempting items, including the garbage can, out of your dog’s reach. When you’re serving food, consider putting your pooch in a dog-proofed area away from the table or buffet — and separate your dog from guests when feeding him his meals. Do not give your dog items likely to incite guarding, like pigs ears. Finally, talk to your veterinarian about ways to properly address your dog’s guarding behavior.
Problem #5: Chewing
Dogs will chew on just about anything. One Labradoodle I trained would pull items like Native American artifacts and framed pictures off the wall to eat. Canines need homes as doggy-proofed as possible.
Solution: If your dog is a notorious chewer, supervise him carefully and interrupt any attempt to chew on nondoggy items. Provide ample chew toys to gnaw on instead, and praise appropriate chewing. If supervision is not possible, place him in a doggy-proofed area when not being watched.
My Dog Just Bit Me — Now What Do I Do?
(DR. WAILANI SUNG - Vetstreet)
This is a question I hear on a daily basis in my practice. When a dog bites its owner, there are often a gamut of feelings: shock, disbelief, anger, hurt and sometimes guilt. Often, your first thought or fear is that your dog might have to be given up. However, this is not necessarily the case. Working with your veterinarian or perhaps a veterinary behaviorist like me, you will need to carefully assess the circumstances involved with the bite incident in order to decide on the most appropriate course of action.
In the immediate aftermath of a bite, you need to ensure your own safety. Stay calm and refrain from overreacting. Physical or verbal reprimands can potentially make the situation worse because your dog may see it as an escalation of aggressive behavior on your part. Try to place your dog in another area of the house, such as a bathroom or the laundry room (assuming he cannot get into garbage or cleaning products). Giving you and your canine space will allow you both a chance to calm down. If you cannot physically place him in another area of the house, walk away and place a physical barrier between yourself and your pet, such as a door. Assess the injury your dog has caused and call your physician to determine whether or not a trip to the emergency room or his or her office is in order. Call your veterinarian to verify your canine is current on his rabies vaccination and to start discussing the incident.
Assess the Situation
Once the immediate concerns are addressed, some of the questions I typically ask owners involved in a bite incident include:
On the other hand, the prognosis is poorer if your dog is easily triggered to behave aggressively and redirects the aggression toward the nearest person, regardless of whether or not that person triggered it. The prognosis is also guarded if your dog weighs more than 50 lbs or so (although smaller dogs can still pose a significant threat), or if there are small children in the family and there is potential for your pet to direct the aggressive behavior toward a child.
When Signs Are Missed
Many bite situations occur simply because signals get crossed. Here are some of the more common situations in which owners have reported being bitten and they are often due to owners misreading their dog’s signals. Simply think of how you would respond in some of these cases:
Going forward, part of the assessment of the bite incident must include having your dog examined by your veterinarian to rule out an underlying physical problem, such as pain caused by an infection, injury, arthritis or a medical condition that can make your dog more irritable, such as Cushing’s disease (also called hyperadrenocorticism). It's possible to overlook the fact that your dog is in pain because he may bear it stoically until touched in an affected area.
Also talk to your veterinarian, certified animal behaviorist and/or trainer about whether you can safely attempt to handle the situation yourself with their help, or if you need to take more drastic steps, such as removing your pet from your home. They should be able to advise you on how to deal with your dog’s behavior using techniques that do not involve harsh verbal reprimands or corrections. Punitive or coercive methods increase anxiety and fear; they may potentially cause an escalation in your dog’s aggressive behavior.
The prognosis for treating a dog that has bitten a human is better if there are known, avoidable triggers and if the severity of the bite is minor. An inhibited bite, in which your dog did not break the skin, is obviously less intense than an uninhibited bite, in which the skin is broken or there are multiple bites. The prognosis also tends to be better if your dog is smaller in size. The prognosis is guarded for a larger dog with uninhibited bites. Family composition also plays a big role in determining the severity of the problem. A family with small children may have a more difficult time keeping the children and dog separated and closely monitored. (As a rule, I always recommend that owners never leave a dog alone with young children, even if the dog has never shown signs of aggression.)
The Bottom Line
There is no guaranteed cure for a dog that exhibits aggressive behavior. With management and behavior modification, however, many dogs can learn to be more tolerant and not exhibit such behavior. But remember that not only do you need to alter your dog’s behavior, you need to work on your own behavior, as well. You need to learn to read your dog’s signaling and avoid placing your dog in situations in which he feels challenged.
Never attempt to treat your dog’s aggressive behavior without the professional help of a veterinarian, certified animal behaviorist or experienced dog trainer. You need a third party with no emotional ties to professionally assess the safety of the situation and set up an appropriate management and treatment plan — one that does not involve the use of force or punitive measures. You will need to rebuild trust and repair the broken bond with your beloved canine companion.
Reading Dogs 12: Will He Bite?
(Ann Bemrose - Woof Work)
Yes, he will bite. All dogs can bite and most dogs will bite if provoked. Biting is a last resort behaviour: it can be prevented.
Dogs always signal that they are distressed or uncomfortable about something. They offer a graduated series of physical cues about their levels of comfort, ranging from “I don’t like that” to “I’m ready to hurt you to defend myself or something I care about.” If another creature doesn’t accept his warnings, the dog may have no choice left but to bite. There’s a lot we can do to avoid reaching this point.
Dogs do not want to fight
Even people who have spent a lot of time around wild and domestic animals are sometimes surprised to realize that most animals are not interested in fighting with anyone. Unlike other animals, human beings who have immediate access to good medical care actively choose to engage in activities that can hurt us. For example, we may consider injuries to be inevitable parts of some sports and games. Handling pain and injury signify strong character.
Healthy animals do their utmost to avoid fighting because even winners can be seriously hurt. Injuries that seem minor or superficial to human beings can be deadly to animals who have no guaranteed access to, or knowledge of, antibiotics and medical care. Dying from infection is slow and painful. No animal risks injury without good reason.
Guarding property and resources
Dogs may show aggression in order to protect possessions and property such as:
Herding breeds–including collies, corgis, and German shepherds–and drovers, such as Rottweilers, Bouviers and Australian cattle dogs, may nip at children’s heels or use physical pressure, including body slams, to “herd” children or adults.2)
Dogs always give warnings
This blog series, Reading dogs, is about the ways that dogs use body language to tell us, other dogs and animals how they feel. When they’re anxious about something, they say so as clearly as they can. A closed mouth is one key signal that a dog’s mood has changed.
In her terrific book, For the Love of a Dog, behaviorist Patricia McConnell writes:
Dogs will close their mouths when they’re on alert, and watching a mouth go from open to closed is a good way to know your dog has begun to concentrate on a change in the environment…A closed jaw by itself can’t tell you whether the dog is alerting to the chirp of a chipmunk or signaling to you that he’s about to bite, but going from open to closed is a key indicator that your dog is no longer in a happy-go-lucky frame of mind.3)
Other signs that a dog is uncomfortable include:
If a dog growls, respect the warning and move away. You may not think that there’s anything for the dog to be worried about. You may have an impulse to calm the dog by petting him or trying to jolly him out of his mood, but please don’t. Move away and give everyone time to calm down. Wait for the dog to come to you before you try to re-engage directly.
A dog who has been punished for growling loses the ability to say that he’s going to bite. When he does, the attack can seem spontaneous, for no reason.
Dogs and young children
Several times each week, I receive links to videos like the one below, showing interactions between a toddler or young child and a dog. All of the dog trainers and behaviourists I know cringe when we see these videos. We marvel over the self-control the dogs demonstrate even as they also do their best to tell the adult humans that they don’t like what the little one is doing.
In the video above, someone has encouraged the toddler to sit on the dog, a female boxer. The dog turns her head away when the baby grabs her jowls; she licks her lips repeatedly and yawns dramatically. After one yawn, at 0:10, the dog closes her mouth firmly, pulls her ears back away from the sides of her head and shows significant wrinkling on her forehead and muzzle. She turns her head away again and looks at the floor in the mid-distance. At 0:29, after the baby grabs the dog’s ears and pulls them, the dog turns her head back to look at the baby. Her mouth is firmly closed; her head is tilted back at a hard angle; the dog’s eyes are staring and the whites are showing. I was afraid that the dog would then turn quickly and grab the baby’s face but the dog licks the baby’s face, instead. The person filming the encounter mistakes the licking for affection and praises the dog. She is not actually being affectionate but is attempting to appease the baby to get him to stop handling her. The baby grabs the dog’s jowls again and the dog turns her head away, licking her lips and nose extravagantly.
I would adopt that boxer in a heartbeat! Her patience and forbearance with the toddler are saint-like. She does her best to remain calm throughout the engagement. Even her forearms and paws remain reasonably calm. Nevertheless, if I read a report one day that a family’s boxer has attacked their toddler “out of the blue and for no reason,” which is how those attacks are always described, I would not be surprised that the dog had reached the limit of her patience. Clearly, her owners do not understand the distress she feels over being mauled by the toddler.
If the dog bites
If a dog wants to bite you, he will. A human can never move faster than a dog. If he doesn’t bite, it’s not because he couldn’t, but because he didn’t want to, yet. Lunging or snapping at the air is the dog’s statement that he intends to bite you if you don’t go away immediately. At such a time, grab anything available to put between the dog’s mouth and your body, such as a coat or blanket, a backpack or purse, and back away from the dog slowly without staring at her. It is best to turn your head slightly to the side and look down, away from the dog. Turning your back on him at this point may actually motivate him to attack.
Though it’s easier said than done, if the dog bites you, try not to panic. Becoming more agitated will encourage him to become more agitated, too. Remember that the dog really does not want to fight. As much as possible, even though you’ve been bitten, the best thing is to try to de-escalate the encounter and move a significant distance away from the dog.
Dogs often bite hands, arms and legs first. If this happens to you, try not to yank away. The dog will bite down harder which will not only cause the wound to tear, it will also begin a grisly tug-of-war game.
Don’t hit the dog. Hitting will increase the dog’s fear or anger and may incite him to bite harder. He may release his hold and aim for a more vulnerable part of your body such as your face, neck or groin.
Try to get something into the dog’s mouth, such as your jacket, purse or even a stick. Throwing water in the dog’s face may startle him into letting go.
Severity of bites
The Dunbar Bite Scale, written by veterinarian and behaviourist Dr. Ian Dunbar, a leading expert in the study of dog bites, is an objective measure of the severity of dog bites. The scale evaluates a dog’s history of aggression by measuring the amount of injury the dog inflicted.4) According to Dunbar, 95% of dog bites result in minimal harm and come from dogs who are not aggressive.
Of course, the best thing is to avoid being bitten in the first place. Pay attention to dogs’ body language, learn to recognize when a dog feels uncomfortable or anxious, and avoid escalating an encounter.
There Are Good Reasons Why Dogs Bite
(Linda Cole, Yahoo Contributor Network)
When I was a kid, we had a Manchester Terrier named Susie. My mom was constantly telling my siblings and me not to tease her, but like most kids, we didn't listen. One day I was teasing Susie by grabbing her back feet and she wasn't amused with my game. Before I knew what happened, she bit me on the face. Mom, didn't punish Susie and while attending to my injury, explained why it was my fault. There are reasons why dogs bite and most of them could be prevented if people would only take the time to learn how to read a dog's body language, listen to their growls, and teach their kids how to act around all canines. It's not the dog's fault and he does have a reason for his actions.
Dogs don't bite out of the blue and there's always warning signs, but most people miss them. A family pet may take being poked, crawled on or having his tail and ears pulled and we think the dog doesn't have a problem with it, but sometimes they do. We can rub dogs the wrong way and they put up with a lot more from us then we realize. A friendly dog that suddenly bites gave warning signs weeks or possibly years before the bite occurred. Too many pet owners just aren't that good at seeing or understanding what their dog is telling them.
A dog can bite if he's feeling threatened and thinks he needs to protect himself. If he's scared, fearful, anxious, has pain, hasn't been properly socialized, has little or no training, has a lack of exercise, hasn't learned bite inhibition, or doesn't feel well. Even dogs can have bad days and feel grumpy. Loud noises and screaming can be stressful for dogs and sudden movements, like running, can activate their prey drive. A dog that feels he needs to protect his food, toys, owner, property or personal space can bite. Canines are just like us when confronted with an option of fight or flight and biting is their only course of action if they feel a need to fight.
It's important for us to take a step back to understand how our actions are interpreted by dogs. We like to get down in the dog's face and look him right in the eye, but this is rude and can be seen as a challenge. Few dogs actually like to be hugged, especially by someone they don't know. They tolerate hugs from someone they have a bond with, but it's not one of their favorite interactions with us.
Another mistake we make is to correct a growling dog instead of watching everything that's going on to understand why he's growling. By not addressing how a child or adult is acting around the dog and punishing him for growling, he learns to hold in his frustration or objection until it becomes impossible for him to suppress his feelings and he finally loses it and bites. A good example is when a child is allowed to constantly bother a dog by pulling on his ears or getting in his personal space. The dog growls, gets into trouble, but the child isn't taught how to properly interact with him and continues to irritate the dog. Canines are just like us and there is a limit to their patience. When you ignore the reason for his objections and he gets into trouble, he hides the warning signs he would normally put out.
Warning signs dogs give before they bite include; yawning (which is one way they try to get rid of stress), lip licking around the mouth (licking his chops which indicates stress), giving you a pleading or helpless look, showing his teeth, curling his upper lip, getting up and moving away from the person or turning his head away from someone, looking down toward the ground, showing the whites of his eyes, scratching his ears, biting his feet or licking himself. Getting up and shaking himself after someone has touched him, his tail is tucked between his legs, he looks at you out of the corner of his eyes, his ears are laid back or the hair on his back is raised are all indicators he's not happy. If he's growling, listen to what he's telling you with his body and his voice.
The only way canines can communicate with us is with their body and growls. A dog that snaps isn't trying to bite you. He's telling you to back off and leave him alone. It's a warning sign, just like his growl. If his intention is to bite, he won't miss. Even a well socialized dog that's grown up with kids can bite under the right circumstances and no dog should ever be left unsupervised around small children.
Will Your Dog Bite? Six Warning Signs You MUST Know
Dog bites are serious offenses in today’s society, and in the wrong circumstances even a single bite can land you and your dog in serious trouble. Learn the warning signsbelow to monitor your dog for any chance that he or she might bite – and remove your dog from the situation immediately if you ever see these warning signs.
Growling is a dog’s way of letting you know that they’re uncomfortable with the current situation. If a dog ever growls as someone approaches, it’s a warning sign that the person needs to back up. Don’t continue to approach a dog who’s growling, but if your dog frequently growls, study what’s going on when he does. Is he eating? Are there strangers at the door? Does he growl when he’s awoken from a nap? Recognizing the situations that make your dog uncomfortable can allow you to use caution – and tell others to do so, too – around your dog during those times. It’s also an indication that you need to do some training in those areas and circumstances to make your dog more comfortable.
When your dog is overly excited or frightened, the hair on the back of his neck and his shoulders, otherwise known as his hackles, will stand up. Some dogs will raise up the fur all the way down their backs. This is a sign that the dog is on edge and highly stimulated, and he could have the potential to bite. Give your dog space and allow him to calm down if you see that his hackles are raised.
Stiff body posture
If your dog stiffens when he’s touched, with his tail and ears raised, this is an indication that he is uncomfortable and he could potentially bite. Give him space until his body posture changes and he relaxes.
Tail wagging can be an indication that a dog is uncomfortable and will bite. When dogs are happy, they wag their tails and often the motion encompasses almost their entire body. A dog who’s stressed and wagging his tail will often display a rigid tail which is moving very quickly back and forth, without the freedom of motion which you commonly see in a happy dog.
A dog who is stressed may lick his lips repeatedly, yawn multiple times, and turn his entire body away from you. If you notice your dog is averting his gaze and will not look up at you, he is trying to disengage and is showing that he’s uncomfortable. Never reach out to a dog in this situation; he is stressed and likely to bite.
A dog who may bite out of fear can show that fear by assuming a cowering posture and tucking his tail tightly beneath him. This is a sign that you need to back off until he is comfortable.
If your dog repeatedly shows any of the signs above, enlist the help of a dog behaviorist orprofessional trainer. It’s not worth risking your dog’s life in ignoring these signs!
Found this idea a good one to share from Glam Flavored LLC
Glam tip #2: If your dog gets loose and is playing “catch me if you can”, run the other direction, away from your dog, clapping your hands and encouraging them to come. Most dogs can't resist tagging along, especially if you sound like you're having a great time and couldn't care less if they join you or not. Alternatively, if you sit down on the ground and act like there's something very interesting there, or cry like you just hurt yourself, your dog will usually come over to investigate......
How To Stop Your Dog From Chewing Everything in Sight
Does your dog have a tendency to wrap his teeth around everything in sight? One sure sign of a new dog or puppy owner is chewed up edges on furniture and baseboards, frayed carpeting, destroyed shoes, or gutted pillows and dog beds. So how can you stop your dog from chewing everything in sight? Lots of attention, mostly! Read on.
Significant chewing is fairly normal for puppies, especially when they are less than one year old and during heavy teething stages. At around four months of age, young dogs can start learning how not to chew on anything they can fit their teeth around and instead be taught what items are appropriate for chewing. This is an essential behavior, not only for preventing the total destruction of your home and belongings, but for protecting a dog who might accidentally chew on something dangerous or toxic, choke on or ingest an inedible object.
Common Causes of Excessive Chewing
The most common cause of excessive chewing in young dogs and puppies is teething. Just like human babies, dogs’ gums can become sore during this stage of growth. Because they’re feeling soreness and discomfort, puppies resort to chewing whatever they can get their teeth on in an attempt to get some relief. Because chewing offers some comfort and relief, the act itself is rewarding to the dog. As a result, over time, chewing can become a learned rewarding behavior rather than simply a means of feeling better.
Destructive chewing in dogs that are no longer teething can be a result of that learned rewarding behavior, separation anxiety, boredom, or inadequate exercise. In order to put an end to destructive chewing, pet parents will need to first determine the reason it’s happening.
Help for Teething Puppies
If your dog’s excessive chewing is a result of teething, there are several ways to soothe his sore mouth and gums while at the same time teaching him which items are appropriate to chew. Specially designed teething toys for dogs are made in a variety of textures, shapes, and sizes perfect for your growing dog’s needs. They are often rubbery or made with rope that is perfect for gnawing, they may have knobby textures that serve to massage sore gums, or may be meant to freeze before giving to the dog for the added benefits of applying a cold compress to ease pain.
Other Reasons Dogs Chew
Many dogs chew as a way to release pent up energy, to quell boredom, or due to separation anxiety. While chewing due to separation anxiety may require the help of a trainer or animal behaviorist, providing adequate mental and physical stimulation and exercise is the number one most effective way to slow destructive chewing.
Veterinarians recommend a minimum of 20 minutes of aerobic exercise every single day. But, many dogs - especially puppies and young adults - will benefit from much more than that. In addition to physical exercise that gets your dog’s heart rate up, mental exercise and brain games are an excellent way to release extra energy. It has been said that 10 minutes of mental stimulation - in the form of training exercises, dog puzzles, games, and problem solving - is as physically exhausting as twice that time spent doing physical exercise.
Here’ a collection of some of our favorite Brain Games and Mental Exercises for Dogs.
Correcting the Behavior
The key to keeping your dog from chewing everything in sight is to both provide fairly constant supervision and to offer appropriate alternatives when the chewing behavior begins. Until your dog learns which items are safe for chewing, like toys, chewy treats, and dog-safe bones, you’ll need to constantly and consistently monitor his behavior.
At the exact moment your dog begins to chew something inappropriate, say “No” or “Leave it” in a calm but firm voice. Take the inappropriate item away - or, in the case of furniture, redirect your dog away from it - and immediately offer him an appropriate object for chewing. The moment he begins chewing the appropriate item, reward him either with praise and petting, or offer a small, tasty training treat. Although being able to chew something is rewarding in itself, offer additional reward will further reinforce correct chewing behavior and will help him to learn which items earn extra rewards.
Although some pet parents swear by the use of “penny cans” or spraying water at their dog when they’re chewing inappropriately, this method of correction serves to frighten or startle a pup, thus causing them to avoid repeating the behavior, but does nothing to teach them what is appropriate. There are much better ways to correct your dog than to strike fear in him. Also remember, it's best to avoid the use of harsh corrections such as screaming, smacking, or hitting your dog as the stress it causes can often result in more destructive chewing behavior.
Other Tips & Tricks
If, despite your best efforts, your dog is still attracted to chewing on certain items in your home, like chair legs, the corner of a sofa, or a potted plant, a spritz of Bitter Apple Spray on the forbidden object is perfectly safe but tastes awful to a dog. Very often, just one mouthful of the awful taste is enough to make a dog never again wrap his lips around that object.
Because it can take several months for excessive and problematic chewing behavior to be completely eliminated, it is highly recommended that owners provide a safe place for their dogs to go when they aren’t under close supervision. A crate is perfect for keeping your dog (and your belongings!) safe when he’s home alone. If a crate isn't a suitable option for you, make sure that dangerous items such as electrical cords are not left on the floor, toxic plants are removed, and other poisonous objects or liquids are kept out of reach.
Use caution, though. If your dog is an excessive chewer, locking him up in a room might result in him chewing his way out! (I've seen a dog eat half of a door to escape a room!)
Truthfully, chewing and gnawing is fun for a lot dogs. If your four-legged friend simply loves to chew, make sure to provide him with many safe objects, in a variety of textures and sizes. Look for long-lasting chewy treats, like bully sticks, dog-safe bones, or a Kong toy filled with peanut butter.
What Not to Do
Because dogs don’t generalize well, you may find that you’ve successfully taught him not to chew on one chair leg, while he simply moves to the next. Remember, this process takes time and effort. You may need to repeat the process multiple times until he finally understands which items are appropriate. Also, do not give your dog any items of yours that are similar to items he should not chew such as old shoes, clothes, or pillows that you no longer want. While you may not care that he destroys these items, he won’t understand that “these” shoes are ok to chew but “those” shoes are not.
Rawhide treats are a popular choice for the parents of dogs that love to chew, but always use extreme caution when giving a dog rawhide. Because they are not easily digestible but are able to be ripped and torn, many, many dogs end up in emergency surgery following an intestinal blockage after swallowing a bit of the chewy snack. Rawhides can also very easily become a choking hazard. Never, ever leave a dog unattended while he’s chewing a rawhide.
In some rare cases, an older dog may begin chewing excessively as a result of an underlying health problem. If your dog suddenly develops a chewing habit, but you know he isn’t teething, does not suffer from separation anxiety, and isn’t bored or under-exercised, a trip to the veterinarian may be in order.
Curbing Your Puppy’s Bad Habit
Most pet parents find themselves dealing with a bit of challenge when they bring home a new puppy. Their wonderful dog is slowly and, in some cases, systematically chewing them out of house and home.
In the 30 years I have been working as a professional dog trainer, I have seen cases of chewing that defy belief.
I have seen dogs that chewed through doors to get into a house just so they could chew an entire sofa! One dog actually deflated his owner’s car tire. If this wasn’t amazing enough, the guilty culprit was a 15-pound Dachshund although admittedly it took her two days to accomplish this task.
While some of the more egregious stories are at times amusing (usually after the fact), chewing can be a serious issue for dogs and the people who love them. Many people give their dogs up when they can’t stop this behavior and still others find their pets with serious medical conditions as a result of chewing various inedible objects.
It is for these reasons that responsible pet parents need to learn some basic ways to address their puppy’s chewing habit. When dealing with any behavior the first and most important thing is understand the cause:
Puppies usually chew for several reasons. Your dog is an intelligent inquisitive being. She is going to want to explore and test new environments. In this regard she isn’t that different than a small child, except she doesn’t have hands! So most everything interesting is going to be smelled and then tasted. This normal, albeit, exasperating explorative period can last from seven weeks to more than a year, although it tends to slow with age.
Young dogs also start teething at about four to six months of age and chew to relieve the discomfort. This teething period is usually over in a few months; however, by then some dogs have learned to like chewing. This is based on numerous factors including breed, environment and individual temperament.
Break Your Puppy’s Chewing Habit
Think of it this way. Would you let your two year old have full unsupervised run of your house? Hopefully no one reading this answered yes. So why would you give your puppy that much freedom?
Manage the free time by making sure she is only allowed access to your home when you are there to re-direct her to chewing the right types of things. Start by simply keeping the dog in the same room as you and continuously focusing her on chewing the correct items.
Understand that you are not going to stop most puppies from chewing. The key is to teach the dog to chew on the right things.
Use Chew-Safe Toys to Divert Bad Behavior
Correct items for your puppy to chew on include products such as the Kong. Put some peanut butter or similar food product inside the Kong. Many dogs will spend hours trying to get it out.
Nylabone is another brand that makes a hard plastic bone-shaped toy that is safe for most dogs; however, according to VPI Pet Insurance’s in-house veterinary staff, there have been cases where an adult dog’s teeth have been broken while chewing on Nylabone products. Ask your veterinarian about your dog’s dental health prior to buying such an item to be on the safe side.
Pet stores also sell a variety of toys specifically for teething puppies, some made by the Kong brand and others by Nylabone. Make sure that your puppy is not eating any of the rubber pieces that may be chewed off these toys during teething or playtime.
Take the chew toy and soak it in beef or chicken broth for an hour a day. Then make it a point to play with the dog and her bone every chance you can. When you greet your puppy, give her the chew-safe toy. When she is chewing something she shouldn’t, distract her away from it and give her the toy again. Praise her whenever you see her chewing the toy and over time you will find that she spends more of her chewing time on it. The more she chews the right things the less she will chew the wrong ones.
Exercise Positive Behavior
Make sure your puppy gets adequate exercise. This should be on both a physical and mental level. By physical I mean nice walks and non-aggressive play with you. Mental exercise can be accomplished with interactive play toys. These are products that involve some sort of problem-solving with a reward.
For example, consider a toy that when manipulated in a certain fashion drops a treat on the floor for the dog. Most dogs will spend hours trying to get the treats out of the toy. Hours playing like this mean fewer hours eating your shoes or sofa.
Unless your veterinarian says otherwise, make sure your dog has a good crunchy kibble as part of their diet. Many dogs on a strictly soft food diet are more inclined to chew.
Understand that you are not going to stop most puppies from chewing. The key is to teach the dog to chew on the right things and to manage the amount of freedom the dog has until she has learned to behave safely.
All of these simple yet effective methods will along with a healthy dose of patience, allow you to address this behavior in a positive and loving fashion.
Why Your Dog Ate the Couch
Whether your pooch is just chewing the corner of the carpet, or totally dismantling your favorite chair, there really are only two good answers to why your dog is being destructive. 1) He’s bored out of his mind, or 2) He’s really not ready to be unsupervised, or (most likely) both.
Most of the time, the dog is not at fault for the destructive behavior – you are. I know what you’re thinking: how on Earth can it be your fault that the dog ate your couch? Well, once we analyze the facts, it becomes obvious.
How much exercise did your dog get prior to any destructive behavior? I’m always amazed at how greatly most people underestimate the exercise needs of their dogs. All dogs wake up with energy – every single day – that needs to be drained. That energy is coming out one of two ways: constructively or destructively. If you don’t provide enough constructive energy release, your dog will find a destructive outlet. Every dog has their own destructive ways to rid themselves of that energy. Stereotypically, a Yorkie will bark all day long, and a Lab will chew apart your furniture, but every dog will have his or her own way to let out extra energy.
Certain breeds have higher energy requirements than others. The average Jack Russell Terrier needs about 3 hours of sprinting a day, so those little walks around the block are doing nothing for him. If you have a puppy or young dog, that energy requirement goes up. No matter what, every dog is an individual and will have their own unique set of energy needs. My usual rule of thumb is, whatever you’re currently doing to exercise your dog, it’s not enough (no matter who you are). I’ve only met a handful of people who, in my opinion, adequately provided enough exercise for their dogs on a regular basis.
Lack of exercise is the number one contributing factor to all behavior problems, and just about all issues are improved upon with exercise. It’s the most powerful tool you have available and its always part of my treatment plan for any and all behavioral problems. A tired dog is a good dog – always!
Next we have to determine if your dog has too much freedom. Way too many people give their dogs run of the house much too soon. Personally, I like keeping the dog’s world small and slowly expanding it as he learns the rules of living in this very human world. Giving your dog too much unsupervised freedom is just setting him up to fail. At his best, he’s a dog. And he will make decisions as a dog no matter what. Our job as responsible dog owners is to guide him as he learns the rules of the human world. We need to be there to say ‘sitting on the rug is good, but eating it is bad.’ If we’re not there, it’s not his fault – it’s ours.
There’s no magical amount of time when you can say your dog is officially ready to be left alone in the house unconfined. You just take a leap of faith and try it. When you do try it though, you have to set him up to succeed. If you get up in the morning, take your dog for a ten minute walk, pat him on the head, say “be a good boy,” and go off to work for eight hours, you’re really not giving him much of a chance. The first time you leave him you want to run him like crazy, and then give him something to do (like a Kong filled with frozen peanut butter), and only leave him for about an hour. Then, slowly expand the time, always making sure he’s exercised and has something to chew on besides your valuables. That’s setting him up to succeed—and before you know it, you’ve created a well-behaved habit of not getting into trouble while you’re away.
So, don’t be so quick to blame Fido for sampling your furniture if you’re the one leaving him there like a coiled spring with nothing interesting to do. Find constructive ways to get him the energy release, and supervise him so you can teach him the rules of the house before you leave him all alone to make his own decisions. Your dog is just doing what dogs do – be a dog. It’s up to you to show him how to be a dog living in the human world.
(Puppy Dog Web)
Dogs dig for a variety of reasons. This activity is not one that can be changed by obedience training because it is one that has to be worked with as it happens. There are several reasons why dogs dig. Sometimes dogs dig because they want a cool place to lie down. Other reasons include boredom, smells they are exploring and perhaps even the activity of guarding their territory.
Keeping your dog monitored is your best defense against digging. Also, the dog needs to know that digging isn’t acceptable. A stern “No!” will help him understand when he is caught in the act. This command will need to be repeated until he gets the idea. There are several ways to prevent digging, however:
How To Stop Dogs From Digging
Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?
To learn how to stop dogs from digging holes it is crucial to determine the reason why your puppy or older dog is digging in the first place. Below is a list of the most common reasons your dog may be digging:
Whenever you are trying to change any behavior in your dog the golden rule is to be consistent! Make it very clear to your dog what is, and is not acceptable behavior.
Once you have determined the likely reason for your dog's digging, you must then pinpoint the solution. Below is a list of proven techniques. If applied correctly they will help to control your dog's digging problems.
Good luck with stopping your dog from digging, and remember that basic dog obedience training is the key to correcting any dog behavioral problems. If your dog respects and trusts you, he will be eager to please you in all situations.
Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?
(Brandy Arnold in Staying Healthy)
Some dogs simply seem to enjoy munching away on grass. Some breeds even include it as part of their daily routine. And others tend to eat the green stuffwhen they aren’t feeling well.
Luckily, most experts believe that this is not something dog owners need to worry about. So why on earth do dogs gobble up the green stuff in our yards?
The Root of the Matter
1. Grumbling Tummies. Any pooch will seek out a natural relief for a gassy or upset stomach, and grass, apparently, does the trick. When ingested, the grass blades tickle the dog’s throat as well as his stomach lining. This sensation causes the pooch to throw up, especially when the grass has been gulped down instead of chewed on. A sick pooch will usually eat grass in big bites and then vomit.
Although dogs do not normally graze on large amounts of grass like cows, they may nibble on grass or chew on it for a while, and not vomit. While some dogs simply find the grass taste palatable, other breeds do it to add a little roughage to their usual diet.
2. Nutritional Needs. Whatever be the reason behind grass easting, most experts see no harm in letting a dog munch away. As a matter of fact, the grass contains some essential elements that a pooch may actually crave, especially if the pet has been on a commercial diet. Once you see him eating grass or any other houseplant, try introducing natural herbs or dog-safe veggies into his diet.
Watch out for any sudden increase in grass-munching as it could be a warning sign of a more serious underlying condition that your pup may be trying to self-treat. This of course will require immediate vet assistance.
If your dog is one that simply likes to graze, but is healthy and happy, just make sure the grass he’s eating hasn’t been treated with chemicals or pesticides which actually CAN be quite harmful for Fido.
Why Dogs Eat Grass — and How to Prevent It
(Juliana Weiss-Roessler - Cesar's Way)
Your dog begs to be let outside, immediately downs several mouthfuls of grass… and then promptly vomits it all up. Or maybe your dog is more of connoisseur, hunting for just the right blade to nosh on, with no side effects afterwards.
It’s a common behavior that baffles many dog owners. In fact, one survey found that grass is the most commonly eaten plant by dogs. But why do they do it?
Here’s the truth: we’re not 100% sure. It’s likely there’s not one simple answer. Different dogs may eat grass for different reasons. But understanding why your dog does can help you address the behavior.
Your dog eats every last morsel he can find under your dinner table after a meal, so why stop there? As natural scavengers, canines are programmed to search for nutrition anywhere they can find it. It’s possible that your dog finds the flavor or texture of grass yummy. Or it could be filling a nutritional need that his normal food isn’t, especially fiber.
Prevention: Some people find that the behavior stops after they switch to a high-fiber dog food. If you think this might be the case for your pup, consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
In some cases, eating grass is just something to do to pass the time. He’s got the backyard to himself, but not much to do there. Are you providing regular exercise and mental challenges for your pup? Do you notice your dog eating more grass during times when you aren’t walking or playing with them as often?
Prevention: Sometimes the solution can be as simple as providing a chew toy as an alternative or dedicating yourself to providing a consistent exercise routine.
Some experts believe that grass is a form of self-medication. When your dog has tummy troubles, he turns to grass for relief. This is more likely if the behavior starts suddenly or if your dog is very anxious about needing to eat the grass, often extending his neck and making swallowing motions, and then vomiting afterwards. But most studies have found that this is actually quite rare — less than 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass and only 10% showed signs of illness beforehand.
Prevention: In some cases, the stomach distress can be a sign of something more serious, like gastric reflux or inflammatory bowel disease, so it’s worth calling your veterinarian for advice.
Still Not Sure?
Relax. Many veterinarians consider grass eating a normal dog behavior. While dogs don’t gain anything of real nutritional value from grass, it also may not hurt them — as long as there are no dangerous fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides used on the grass itself.
You can help protect your grass eater by using only non-toxic products on your own lawn. When you’re out in public areas, keep an eye out for signs warning that chemicals have been used on the grass. You can also provide a safe alternative by growing a grass or herb garden specifically for him to snack on.
If you’re afraid that your dog may be suffering from poisoning caused by lawn treatments, call the ASPCA’s 24/7 Animal Poison Control hotline at (888) 426-4435.
Read more: http://www.cesarsway.com/dog-care/dog-nutrition/Why-Dogs-Eat-Grass-and-How-to-Prevent-It#ixzz2zfhDAGyg
Should You Let Your Dog Eat Grass?
(Dr Becker - Healthy Pets)
There are two primary reasons why dogs eat grass. Number one is to use as a purgative, and number two is simply because they want to! (More on that in a minute … )
Dogs Eat Grass to Purge Their System
Most of you are well aware that dogs will, on occasion, eat large amounts of grass in an attempt to make themselves throw up. In fact, if your dog consumes a large amount of grass, it could be because she has:
After they consume a large amount of grass, they’ll often times lick their lips because they’re nauseous, and then of course, they’ll vomit.
It’s completely normal for your dog to vomit occasionally (like people do when they are ill), meaning one or two times a year. Most often it’s nothing to worry about and, surprising as this may sound, your dog knows what’s best in terms of intentionally voiding their system of something that could be toxic, or making them unwell.
What to do if Your Dog Eats Grass Often
As I said earlier, many dogs will eat grass to make themselves vomit, but if your dog is doing this on a frequent basis it’s a sign that her system may be off kilter.
In this case, you absolutely need to reevaluate their diet, as frequent gastrointestinal upset is a sign that something is wrong with the food that you’re feeding.
It may be a great quality food, one your dog has been eating for years with no trouble. But if your dog begins vomiting up grass and food several times a week or even weekly, I can tell you that this is not normal.
I would recommend switching brands of food, switching flavors and switching protein sources. Above all, if you’re capable of going from an entirely dead diet (kibble or canned) to an entirely living diet (raw), that would be wonderful!
You may want to seek the help of a holistic veterinarian who can help you to switch your dog to a new diet. Most importantly, if your dog has been eating the same diet for most of his life, you will need to make the transition gradually.
The other items that you should consider adding to your dog’s food are probiotics and digestive enzymes. Probiotics help reseed and fortify the beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut, while the digestive enzymes provide what the entrails or the guts of their prey species would have. These enzymes provide a rich source of amylase, lipase and protease, which can help your pets process food much more successfully.
So, that’s one scenario -- the obsessive consumption of a large amount of grass in order to produce an episode of purging or vomiting. The next reason is entirely different …
Dogs May Feed on Grass Simply Because They Want To
Contrast the first scenario -- your dog rushing out and eating any and all grass in sight -- with this second scenario: you let your dog out the back door. It looks like he’s having a great time running around when all of a sudden you see him on a mission. He is sniffing and specifically seeking out tall, broad grasses -- the tall grasses that typically grow along a fence line or up from sidewalk cracks.
Your dog is very selectively picking out certain grasses. He identifies them and uses his front teeth to nibble and eat them. He’s not frantic, he is doing it almost with intention and you see him select a few grasses and go about his way.
That’s an entirely different scenario and that’s scenario number two, which means your dog is eating grass because he wants to.
Eating Grass is a Normal Dog Behavior
Dogs know what they need to consume. And in fact, biologists have told us that all canids -- dogs and wild dogs (wolves, coyotes, dingoes, etc.) -- consume grass and it’s a completely normal behavior.
So it’s important to recognize that you don’t have to prevent your dogs from eating grass unless you have treated grass or your grass has pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals on it.
It’s obviously important that you don’t allow your dogs to consume toxins when they’re consuming those grasses, but if the grass is free from contaminants, you can let your dog eat away.
Grass Has Nutrients Your Dog May Need
The grasses your dog is seeking out probably contains some nutritional value that your dog is seeking. We know that grass contains an abundant source of fiber or roughage, for instance, and we know that since grass is a living green food it contains phytonutrients and is high in potassium and also chlorophyll. Grasses are also a pretty good source of digestive enzymes.
So your dog could be seeking out selective grasses to make up for one of these nutritional components that they’re currently not getting in their diet.
Some dogs may also eat grass because they are under-fed, don’t have access to adequate food or are just plain bored. But, in the vast majority of cases, even if your dog is well fed and well cared for, he will still selectively pick out certain grasses just for their nutritional health benefits.
And again, there’s nothing wrong with letting dogs do that. So, that’s my official response. If you’re interested in participating in this hotly discussed topic, join us in the MercolaHealthyPets.com forum. I hope to see you there!
Coprophagia: Does Your Dog Have This Nasty Habit? What to Do...
(Dr. Becker - Healthy Pets)
Believe it or not, one of the most frequently searched subjects by readers of my Healthy Pets newsletter is stool eating. It would seem there are a lot of pets (primarily dogs) out there snacking on poop!
I think we can all agree this is a revolting subject, but it’s a common problem that should be addressed.
Coprophagia is the technical term for stool eating. It is considered inappropriate, not to mention disgusting eating behavior. The single exception is with mother dogs and cats that deliberately ingest the feces of their litters to hide their scent while the babies are still vulnerable and hidden away in the den or nest.
Medical Reasons for Coprophagia
Dogs eat poop for lots of reasons. Sometimes there’s an underlying medical problem like an enzyme deficiency or pancreatic insufficiency. Intestinal malabsorption and GI parasites are also common medical reasons underlying coprophagia.
At my practice we recommend clients bring their dogs in every six months for a stool check for parasites. Healthy dogs can wind up with intestinal parasitesfrom eating poop, so twice-yearly stool analysis can be a very helpful tool.
A dog’s pancreas secretes digestive enzymes to aid in food digestion, but many dogs don’t make enough of these enzymes and wind up deficient. Since the feces of other animals are a good source of digestive enzymes, dogs with a deficiency will sometimes ingest enzyme-rich poop. In fact, rabbit poop is a very rich source of not only enzymes, but also B vitamins, which is why many dogs, given the opportunity, will happily scarf up rabbit droppings.
In my experience, dogs on processed dry food diets will often seek out other sources of digestive enzymes to make up for a chronic enzyme deficiency brought on by a biologically inappropriate diet.
Cats with enzyme deficiencies, malabsorption issues, and/or who are fed poor-quality nutrition can provide litter box temptations for dogs. Many cheap dry pet foods contain ingredients that are impossible to digest, so they pass right through the cat’s GI tract and out the other end undigested. This provides poop eating dogs an opportunity to sample cat “snacks” right out of the litter box.
Some dogs, especially those in kennel situations, may eat poop because they are feeling anxious or stressed.
Research also suggests dogs who are punished for inappropriate elimination can convince themselves pooping itself is bad, so they hide the evidence by eating it.
I see a lot of coprophagia in puppy mill dogs. Puppies who go hungry, are weaned too soon, have to fight with others for food, or are forced to sit for weeks in a small crate with no physical or mental stimulation, are at high risk of becoming habitual stool eaters.
Coprophagia can also be a learned behavior. Older poop eating dogs can actually “lead by example,” encouraging younger dogs in the household to pick up the nasty habit.
Oddly, some dogs are quite selective about the poop they are willing to eat. Some favor only poopsicles (frozen poop). Others will eat only the feces of a particular animal, and still others only indulge their habit at certain times of the year.
Study Investigates Poop Eating Behavior
Last year a researcher at the University of California, Davis collected 1,500 internet surveys from pet owners to learn more about poop eating in dogs. The study found that:
The researchers also found that food additives are only effective as a deterrent from 0 to 2 percent of the time, nor is punishment effective. Also ineffective were electronic collars and reward-based reinforcement like clicker training. The UC Davis team concluded the best solution is to supervise and clean up after your dog. Or perhaps get a male Poodle!
Suggestions for Owners of Coprophagic Pets
When Your Dog Eats Cat Poop
(Dogington Post Written on 08/30/2013 by Ron Miller in Staying Healthy)
If you’re like us and have both dog and cat pets, then you have probably experienced what happens when your dog eats cat poop. When they feast on the cat’s “goodies”, well, it’s just…I don’t know, disgusting. We would definitely want our dogs to avoid being in this kind of mess, and that is why in this article, we are going to discuss on the reasons why this happens and how it can be prevented.
As weird as it sounds, dogs actually find cat stools very appealing and attractive, and this is why they always look for a cat’s litter box. They think it’s very tasty! It was explained this way by our veterinarian: because cat feces contain high amounts of protein and fat and extra elements, dogs have cravings for them. And now that we know why Fido is a litter box junkie, it’s time we putan end to it. He also took pains to assure us that it is not normally a danger to the dog, if the cat is healthy.
When Your Dog Eats Cat Poop
Although cat stools normally do not come with health risks for dogs, there are still potential problems, such as possible parasites, and some stools may also cause dogs to have diarrhea or constipation. Some dogs may have gastrointestinal problems and strain in defecating due to having eaten them. Other symptoms may occur such as lethargy or nausea, and even appetite loss. If such symptoms occur in your dog, contact your vet right away.
So how do you keep your dog away from the litter box?
The answer is simple – you just have to know how to outsmart your dog. First, try covering the litter box (when not in use by your cat) with a piece of cloth that is not currently in use, preferably one that can stop the smell of the cat stools. Fortunately in our case, and old towel covering the entrance to the box worked — the dog would go sniff for several days, but never tried to enter. After several days, she finally quit even the sniffing. There are also covered litter boxes available in the market for your convenience. Some of these are even too small for a dog to fit in but large enough for the cat to stay.
Because cats have more agility and flexibility than dogs, try putting it in a space where only your cat can reach it. You can put some baby gates, obstacles/barriers or small fences so that only your cat can pass through, but not your dog.
A chain or doorframe can also be used to narrow down the space where your cat’s litter box is located, so that only your cat can pass through without getting disturbed. Latches can hold doors and make them partially open – you can try this too.
As a last resort, you can also try cleaning up the litter box in regular intervals and more often. In this way, your dog will not have much opportunity to get his “treats” as you have already cleaned them up. Although there can still be some goodies left, there will not be as many as when you don’t regularly maintain it.
If none of these work for you when your dog when your dog eats cat poop, there is still help available, according to an article on the eHow.com website:
Purchase a chemical solution you can feed your cat to discourage coprophagia. The main ingredient is glutamic acid, which causes the poop to become bitter to taste.
Visit your vet for a prescription for glutamic acid or other medications that have been clinically proven to do the trick.
By putting these tips into practice, you are ensuring your dog’s diet doesn’t get messy and you will eliminate the occasions when your dog eats cat poop.
(Puppy Dog Web)
Although no one really wants to talk about, there are dogs out there that like to not only roll in feces, but sometimes eat it as well. It can be a habit that is difficult to break. The awful thing is he can eat it up, then run to you and give you a kiss! This is a very nasty habit that needs a bit of understanding.
A couple reasons your dog may like this dung delicacy is that there is a nutritional deficiency that isn’t met by your dog’s normal daily food intake. You vet can help determine if this is a cause. Some dogs simply watch other dogs do this and copy that behavior. Certain other dogs, such as Retrievers are just programmed to “retrieve” or pick things up in their mouths.
Try to teach your dog with a stern command to “leave it” if you are with him when he picks up feces. Pull back on his collar and pull him away from the source of intrigue. In your own yard, make sure everything is cleaned up after your dog’s toilet time. If it’s not there, it won’t be a temptation.
If there is persistent behavior from your dog, try a pet repellent, such as . Meat tenderizer will create a nasty taste your dog won’t like and can deter him from eating feces.
Take time to monitor your dog if he has this habit. The less the feces are available to him, the less he will have the opportunity to make a meal of it.
Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?
(Dr. Chris Smith in Ask Dr. Chris - Dogington Post)
Question from one of our readers: My dog will not stop eating his own poop!! I tried giving him pineapple, some meat tenderizer as per vets instructions, forbid…nothing is working. He has the best food on the market, multivitamins and even gets yogurt every day and still no luck. If he goes out in the yard in the morning, he will just poop and eat it right away without us even knowing until his breath smells! Any ideas?
This is a great question and one that many other readers would be interested in hearing about!
When your dog eats its own or another animal’s feces (cat feces are irresistible to all dogs), it is a difficult and disgusting problem to deal with. I feel your pain as my own german shepherd, Jake, used to do the same thing. The scientific name for this behavior is coprophagia and despite what you may have read on the internet, it is natural behavior for dogs.
Dogs instinctively do it when nursing puppies and cleaning their “den” and is not typically a sign of poor nutrition or a nutritional deficiency. It really needs to be addressed as a behavioral problem, just as jumping up or going to the bathroom in the house are often seen as undesirable behaviors that can be worked on through training.
Dietary modifications have only been shown to help in approximately 2% of cases. This includes changes in dog food as well as manipulations such as feeding pineapple, meat tenderizer, yucca as well as the products that are sold in stores for coprophagia.
Keep in mind that things like meat tenderizer and supplements are thought to work by making the stools taste bad. Really?! Shouldn’t it taste bad enough? Some dogs just like it!
The best way to handle this is to offer him no opportunity to eat his or anyone else’s bowel movement.
Take him out on a leash and keep him away from the bowel movement after he has gone. If he tries to go for it, say “leave it” and pull him away. Over time, you should teach him this command, to help you in other situations where he may pick up something he shouldn’t eat.
Next, remove your precious puppy from the area and clean up the feces as soon as possible.
Consider designating an area in the yard for bowel movements to make it easier for you to know where he defecated, making clean-up easier.
There unfortunately is no magic answer to this problem. It is a natural instinct and some dogs continue to eat their stools their whole lives. Please remember it isn’t typically related to the diet you are feeding or anything that you are doing wrong, it’s just a natural behavior that is more persistent in some dogs compared to others.
Work on these training ideas and if you continue to have trouble, consider an appointment with a veterinarian that is an animal behavior specialist. Kisses from your furry best friend are not as much fun when you know they’ve been eating poop.
Christopher Smith VMD
Dog/puppy eating poo.
Try try a spoon of pineapple juice on every meal, it's supposed to taste nasty coming out other end, may take a week or so, but you'll have to keep putting it in the food until he breaks the habit
Why is My Dog Eating Rocks?
(Brandy Arnold - Dogington Post)
Many Dogs tend to eat a lot of strange things that, for most of us, make no sense. However bizarre your dog’s chomping habits may be, bear in mind that this is relatively normal behavior, particularly for puppies. But, normal or not, chewing rocks (or other non-food items) can be dangerous if ingested.
The Root of the Matter
First, chewing rocks is dangerous to a dog’s mouth and teeth. Sharp edges can cut delicate gums and tongues, and crunching down can break teeth. Additionally, swallowing rocks can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal blockage, and even choking if the rock is too large for the dog’s throat. As common as rock chewing is, it can be due to several possibilities ranging from medical to developmental.
1. To seek attention. Chewing rocks is one way for a snubbed pooch to get noticed. In this case, your dog may be acting out of anxiety, frustration, or mere boredom.
2. Medical problems. It’s also possible that a dog eats rocks because of an underlying medical condition. These can include intestinal tract disorders, nutritional deficiency, diabetes, or other illnesses. It is vital to rule out any medical cause by paying a visit to your vet if continued efforts to stop this behavior are unsuccessful.
Treating the Cause
Chewing rocks may be nothing more than just your pooch’s way to vent his chewing needs. If you suspect this is the case, try the following steps to curb his rock habit:
1. Limit his access to the rocks. Sometimes it’s just impossible to avoid rocks altogether, but try to supervise your dog when they’re around.
2. When you catch your dog eating rocks, distract him from the rocks and redirect his attention to something safe or fun, like playing fetch or chewing a safe toy.
3. Check your own schedule. Is your dog left alone much of the time? Perhaps, all you need to do is to spend more time with him.
4. Keep a lot of chew toys on hand, and rotate them every couple of days to keep him interested.
If rock chewing is due to a medical issue rather than behavioral, your veterinarian will be able to make a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. When underlying medical issues are handled, the rock chewing should end on its own.
Pet Noise Phobia
Pets Can Develop a Fear of Noise
For most domesticated pets, a loud noise is enough to make the largest or bravest of animals take cover under the bed, in a closet or in your lap. Unfortunately for some pet owners, their pet’s fears can tend to get worse over time, turning into a phobia that can cause you — and your pet — anxiety.
Understanding Pet Noise Phobia
What is pet noise phobia? It is an extreme fear of a sound where a pet will do anything to avoid a certain noise, such as acting aggressively, injuring themselves or damaging property to escape the sound.
Common noise phobias include thunderstorms, firecrackers and/or gunshots. Often times, pet noise phobias tend to worsen over time when pets become fearful of similar sounds or events associated with a particular noise. For example, a dog that is afraid of thunder may also become afraid of rain or the sound of a slamming door; a dog afraid of firecrackers may also develop a similar fear when he hears a car backfire or a sonic boom.
It is relatively unknown why pets become frightened of certain noises. However, animals tend to display natural behaviors, such as hiding, when they detect a noise that appears to be threatening.
Overall, animals tend to be more sensitive to their environment than humans. Although pet noise phobia is had by dogs and cats alike, the phobia is more of a common problem in dogs.
Common pet noise phobias include thunderstorms, firecrackers and/or gunshots.
Symptoms of Pet Noise Phobia
There are a number of factors that determine a pet’s reaction to certain noises, such as their age, socialization and experience. Depending on the type of animal you have and the severity of their fear, signs of pet noise phobia may include:
Pet owners should be aware that any change in their pet’s behavior should be followed up with a visit to the veterinarian to rule out any potential medical condition.
For some pet owners, it may be natural to nurture their pets by physically comforting them when they become scared. Unfortunately, this can reinforce the alarm and fear the animal is experiencing by giving the animal the positive reward of affection.
Treating Pet Noise Phobia
There are a number of things pet owners can do to help diminish their pet’s reaction to noises. For example, help reduce the noise level in your home by running a fan, playing the radio, or closing the windows and the doors to help block out any bothersome noise.
Pet owners can also create a safe haven where their pet can retreat to when he feels threatened. Some animals find refuge in small spaces, such as a closet or their crate. Consider putting their favorite blanket and toys in these areas to create a sense of familiarity and security.
Another tool pet owners can use to help lessen the effects of pet noise phobia is behavior modification. For example, if your pet loves to go for car rides and is terrified of thunderstorms, you might consider taking Max for car rides only during thunderstorms so that he can begin to replace his negative experiences with positive ones.
Another alternative is to seek alternate therapies, such as medication, to help your pet cope with his phobia. Only your veterinarian can prescribe the right medication for your pet, so be sure to schedule a visit or consultation with your vet should the aforementioned options not be a success with your four-legged friend.
If you're interested in reading more about pet phobias, you may like Canine Phobias and Anxities and Feline Depression.
Dogs and Fireworks Phobia Dealing with a Fear of Fireworks in Dogs
(Amy Bender - About.com)
A fear of fireworks is a fairly common phobia for dogs. They often find the loud, unpredictable noise and bright displays of light truly frightening. Even a seemingly confident dog can tremble and drool at the unfamiliar sounds. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to help your dog get through the festivities.
Desensitize Your Dog to the Sound of Fireworks
If you have some time before the 4th of July or an anticipated fireworks display in your neighborhood, you can begin getting your dog used to the sounds. This is referred to as desensitization, and it can be done in a few simple steps:
If you don't have time to prepare for the fireworks, or if desensitization hasn't ended your dog's fear of fireworks completely, there are things you can do to help ease his fears. These things may help with dogs who have a mild to moderate fear of fireworks.
In the case of a severe phobia, nothing may work to ease your dog's fear. If there's a chance your dog make exhibit this level of fear, talk to your veterinarian about medication. He may be able to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or sedative to keep your dog calm during the fireworks.
Medication may be the only answer to get through the fireworks this season. As soon as the fireworks stop, however, you can begin preparing for the next one with a program of desensitization. A trainer or behaviorist may also be helpful. In severe cases, you may not ever be completely successful in eradicating the phobia, but you may be able to ease some of your dog's fear.
My dog's a scaredy cat! Why is my dog fearful?
(Pet Health Network)
Just like people, dogs are scared by all kinds of things. Most often, it’s a result of having a negative experience or not being properly handled when his natural fears surface.
First things first: what scares your pooch?
Most dogs are scared of something. Have you noticed what scares your dog? Is it children, men, women, people with loud voices, or people who are very tall? When your dog is out and about or when new people enter your home, pay attention to his reactions and try to figure out exactly what is making him anxious. He’ll probably give you some fairly clear signs:
What should you do when your dog exhibits these fearful behaviors? Resist your natural inclinations. We’d all probably be tempted to coddle the dog and try reassure him or discipline and correct him, and while these seem like good ideas, what you’re actually doing is reinforcing his reaction and telegraphing to him the message, “you’re right, something is up and you should be nervous.”
If your dog has a fearful reaction, remove him from the situation calmly and without really acknowledging it at all. Just walk out of the room or away from what’s causing the stress. Once you’re clear of the situation, engage with your dog normally and get his focus back on you.
Next, think carefully about exactly what made him nervous and try to reengineer the situation so it’s positive for your dog. For example, if he was scared of the child who came into the room yelling, running, and making lots of noise, ask that same child to enter calmly and slowly and not pay any attention at to your dog. Similarly, if he was afraid of your tall, deep-voiced male friend, ask that friend to enter the room quietly and calmly, ignoring the dog, and have a quiet, friendly interaction with you. Your dog will pick up on your comfort and that will be a step towards being comfortable himself. During these reintroductions, make sure your dog doesn’t feel forced into the situation or trapped. And when he starts to get anxious, give him a break.
Keep trying these reintroductions to stressful situations and see if your dog begins to relax. You can also introduce treats into the mix and that can help make a positive association with the person or people who are scaring him. You can even have the person he’s afraid of begin to give treats, even if it’s just tossing them to the dog from across the room.
This is often a somewhat slow and incremental process. Don’t rush it; it can take time to change your dog’s natural reaction.
As in the case of any negative behavior, prevention is better than treatment. We recommend socializing your dog in a wide variety of situations. Puppies are actually much more flexible and open to things than adolescent or adult dogs (just like human children). Let your puppy meet your friends, the neighborhood kids, the noisy people who live upstairs – he should become accustomed to what is normal in your life so it will become normal for him, too!
As always, if your dog is having a hard time overcoming this or any problem, give your veterinarian a call, as your vet is the best partner you have in ensuring your pooch is a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted part of your family.
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Our new ThunderLeash is now helping us to solve the common issue of leash pulling, by using our innovative hardware that turns this leash into a “no pull” harness. From harnesses, to toys, to treats, we are always looking for simple solutions to help you be a better human to your pet.
(Puppy Dog Web)
Just like some dogs guard their toys, many dogs guard their food or even empty food bowls. Food can bring out the possessiveness in a dog more than anything else. Your dog may h have memories of leaner times and wants to make sure no other dog or human is going to take his share. Some dogs can even get aggressive while guarding their food or they will inhale it to make sure it isn’t going to go to anyone else!
Dogs that guard their empty food bowls may simply be hungry and wait for food to show in the bowl. They are protecting the territory around the bowl as well. This has to do with what is called a “denning” instinct. A den could have been an abandoned shed or a cave used by dogs in the wild. They protected their space at all costs.
Dogs that live with other dogs may see them competition to their meals so guarding the food bowl becomes a survival tool. Just watch for competitive behavior that could turn aggressive. This should not be tolerated.
If you know your dog is getting enough food but simply seems to enjoy the process of guarding his empty or partially full bowl, you need to take steps to deal with this issue. If he doesn’t have any competition around him, there may not be much of a problem. However, if growling is occurring, then steps need to be taken to modify this behavior.
What Is The Hip Nudge All About?
A hip nudge is the behavior shown when a dog nudges another with its hip or rear end. Dogs often use this sort of behavior towards people, typically during times of greeting when we show the dog passive friendliness by crouching down to it. The dog will then walk towards us, turn around and either nudge gently with the hip or rear end, or stand passively with its back turned to us. The hip nudge means friendliness. By turning its back to us, the dog shows that it doesn’t intend to attack; it’s teeth are turned away from you. At the same time, it shows that the dog trust us.
How to Stop Dog Humping
(By James Scott Bankston, eHow Contributor)
Dogs are sweet, devoted and loving, but even the best of dogs can do annoying, unpleasant things. One of the most embarrassing dog behaviors is humping or mounting. It's something you have to stop early.
Difficulty: Moderately EasyInstructions
Things You'll Need
Why Does My Dog Compulsively Lick The Air?
(Mikkel Becker - Vetstreet)
Q. Why does my dog lick the air? She does it for hours.
A. There are various reasons your dog may be licking the air, but the fact that she does it for long periods of time is suggestive of a possible compulsive disorder. However, because there may be other causes for this behavior, including health concerns such as dental pain, nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, seizures and canine cognitive dysfunction, you should first visit your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
Preparing for the Vet Visit
You can help your veterinarian get to the root of the problem by providing a history of the licking behavior, including when it first appeared, how long it has been going on, specific situations where it’s most likely to occur, how long the episodes last and how your dog acts after an episode. In addition, it can be helpful to videotape the specific behavior; if possible, film your dog when you’re not around, to see if the behavior takes place all the time. Some dogs only perform repetitive behaviors around humans, because those behaviors have become conditioned responses. It will also help if you can describe the responses of people in your house to the behavior.
Your vet will need to know about your pet's home life as well. Honestly assess the amount of exercise, mental stimulation and interaction your dog gets on a daily basis, as well as any training or punishment that is used in your home.
Finally, tell your vet about other areas of stress in your pet’s life (or yours) that may be contributing to the situation, such as a new baby, a move, or an illness in the family.
Diagnosing a Compulsive Disorder
Get your dog to the vet as soon as possible; the less time she has to repeat this behavior, the better the outlook might be for treatment. Your veterinarian will perform a full physical exam to look for medical causes of the licking. Diagnostic testing may also be recommended. Once medical explanations have been ruled out, he may diagnose your pet with a compulsive disorder, which is often treated with a combination of medication, environmental management and training.
Why Does My Dog... Always Lick Me?
(DR. PATTY KHULY - Vet Street)
It’s not much of a conundrum, really. The bottom line is that most of the time, dogs will lick their people as a sign of affection. “You are the sun and the moon,” their silky tongue would have you know. “And guess what? You taste good, too!”
But much as barking can be, licking is also a multi-faceted tool that seems to play many roles in canine behavior and, consequently, tends towards many different interpretations. Here’s a list of the many ways in which we homo sapiens have come to understand this culturally alien mode of communication: Licking is a natural instinct in canids. When a mother licks her pups and her pups lick each other during the course of grooming and other social interactions, we’re observing quintessential licking behavior in dogs. Indeed, this behavior is held up as one that may serve as the basis for all other licking decisions a dog makes. (“Mom licked me now I lick you ...”)
Extreme licking tends to be defined not so much by the dog as it is by the human beholder of the behavior. As such, any unwanted display of lingual attention –– even just a couple of polite laps every so often –– could be construed as excessive. In these cases it’s considered more of a human problem than an animal problem. After all, dogs will lick. It’s in their nature.
Nevertheless, dogs can be trained to turn the tap off, so to speak. Finding a veterinary behaviorist or certified dog trainer to aid in this process is strongly recommended.
Of course there are those times when licking may take on abnormal tones. Dogs who suffer certain types of obsessive-compulsive behaviors may manifest these as excessive licking. Typically, however, dogs affected by these behavioral disorders will turn to objects –– or more often, themselves –– by way of displaying their outsized penchant for licking.
All dog owners observing this behavior are encouraged to seek out the assistance of a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist for assistance. Many of these patients can be treated successfully so that their life might include more than what they might find at the end of their tongue.
Why Do Dogs Lick People?
(PERFECT PUPPY CARE on NOVEMBER 2, 2010)
You’re taking a moment to relax in front of the television. The family dog wanders over to you and plops down at your feet. Your furry canine friend begins to lick the exposed skin on your leg and continues until you’re all slobbered up. The licking continues until you feel that your skin has been cleaned to the point where it may disappear.
Have you ever wondered just what your dog gets out of licking you?
Most dogs are so intent on the licking process that you know there has to be a good reason for doing it.
Some people say the dog’s licks are canine kisses that prove the dog likes or loves you. Fido is showing you that he cares about you. While this may be one reason that dogs lick people, it is clearly not the only reason why they perform this act.
Another theory is that dogs lick you because they were taught to do so by their mother from birth. Female dogs that give birth lick the new puppies to stimulate them to start breathing and to clean them up. Licking is important to the survival of puppies. The licking process is a natural instinctthat they quickly learn from their mothers.
Licking is also a submissive gesture. In the wild, the more subordinate dogs will lick the more dominant ones. This helps to maintain harmony among the members of the pack. By licking you, the dog is showing you that you are the dominant being and you are in charge.
Another reason that dogs lick humans is to gather information about them. Dogs use the scent receptors located in their nose and mouth to process information about a person. A person who is secreting sweat from his or her body is actually unknowingly sending information about him or herself to the dog. This is one reason why a human’s feet are so attractive to a dog. Human feet contain many sweat glands. Eccrine glands release moisture that contains salts, water andwaste products. Some dogs love the taste of salt.
Sebaceous glands, which are found near hair follicles, release sebum. The combination of the sweat and sebaceous gland secretions provide a lot of detail about you to an inquisitive dog that can tell if you are afraid, stressed or happy.
Dogs also enjoy licking because the act releases endorphins that allow the dog to feel pleasure and a sense of security and comfort.
In some cases, a dog will go all out to lick his or her owner’s face, hands or legs when strangers are around. Experts believe that this could be the dog’s way of showing that you are important to them and that they care more about you than they do the stranger.
While dogs do have good reasons for licking people, some folks don’t understand nor do they care to try to grasp why they are being slobbered on. It is important to train your dog in a manner that he or she does not get carried away with the tendency to lick people.
Why Does My Dog... Lick and Chew His Feet?
(DR. PATTY KHULY - Vetstreet)
Plenty of owners observe this common behavior in their dogs and wonder if they should be concerned. In some cases, dogs will gently but insistently lick one or both paws, but other canines will go so far as to chew on their toes, which can be disconcerting for any pet owner.
So should you be worried?
The short answer is yes. You should always consult with your vet about this behavior, especially if it comes on suddenly, persists for long periods of time, or is accompanied by redness, swelling, odor, bleeding, limping or other possible signs of pain and infection.
Although most dogs engage in this behavior occasionally for unknown reasons, others are prone to lick orchew their feet excessively. In these cases, the feet (especially of light-colored dogs) will often look stained a pink or rusty color, which is the result of chronic contact with porphyrin pigments found in saliva.
Possible Causes for Sudden Licking and Chewing
There are a variety of reasons why your dog would suddenly lick or chew his feet, including puncturewounds to the toes or paw pads, fractured claws or toes, burns, corns (especially common in Greyhounds), and foreign bodies that may be lodged between the toes, such as ticks, grass awns and burrs.
Canines will also engage in this behavior due to other, more serious causes, such as interdigital cysts, tumors and other cancers, allergic skin disease and autoimmune diseases of the nail beds or paw pads.
Possible Causes for Chronic Licking and Chewing
Allergic skin disease is the most common reason why canines lick and chew their feet on a chronic basis.Food allergies, in particular, are typically the culprit, and secondary infections from yeast and bacteria can further exacerbate the behavior.
Many dogs who lick and chew their feet over long periods of time will also do so because it apparently feels good to them. In these cases, vets look for an underlying nonbehavioral disease that may have initially triggered the obsessive behavior. For example, dogs with lick granulomas — wounds caused by obsessive licking of the tops of the feet and lower limbs — may have been initially drawn to lick the area because of an injury, simple itch or a reaction to an allergen.
Regardless of the cause, if you notice that your dog is licking or chewing his paws, seek veterinary advice, especially since most of these cases are treatable if addressed by a professional early.
(Puppy Dog Web)
Dogs have a way to declare ownership in a territory and one way is to mark the area with urine. By nature, a male dog especially will sniff out where other dogs have been and place their claim to that territory. This is mostly a male trait, although some females will mark. It’s like leaving a calling card.
This is not a behavior to be too concerned about unless it begins to happen indoors. The dog is trying to establish dominance and this pattern has to be broken. Don’t ignore the behavior because it will happen again. Consider using disposable diapers on the dog if it is a constant problem. Another option is training pads for puppies and for adult dogs.
Neutering your male dog will most likely decrease his urge to mark territory by urinating. Since he will become naturally less aggressive, his attention will turn from hormonal activities to his family for love and attention. He will be less interested in showing his masculinity to other males.
If there is no medical reason for uncontrolled urinating in the house, make sure you take the following steps:
How To Stop a Puppy Bothering a Dog (http://pets.thenest.com)
Puppies can be adorable little things or they can be the most annoying beings on the planet. Just ask your dog, who's been trying to take a nap for hours, only to have a hyper puppy climb over his head, bite his tail and in general drive him crazy.
Allow the dog to set the rules. Some dogs have higher tolerance levels than others, so it might just seem like the puppy is inflicting torture. Eventually, the older dog will put the puppy in its place by growling, pawing at him or simply shooing him away. This is actually the best option, as it will help both dogs find their place in the house.
Take the puppy on playdates. Let him spend time with other puppies that are as full of energy as he is. Chances are, he'll get some lessons on proper behavior from them as well, as puppies will have no problem biting, pushing or wrestling him to the ground. By the time he comes home, he'll hopefully be too tired to be too much of a pest to your other dog.
Stop the puppy if you think things are getting too rough. Some dogs are just too nice -- or maybe old or sick -- and won't do this on their own. Use a spray water gun or a can with some loose coins inside. When the puppy crosses the line, either spray it with water -- avoid the face, which can hurt -- or shake the can violently once. It will startle the other dog, too -- nothing you can do about that -- but hopefully it will scare the puppy enough to control his behavior.
Separate the dogs for at least a few hours every day. You could take the dog on walks by himself, or invest in a puppy gate. Separating the dogs shouldn't feel as a punishment for either one. For example, if you install a puppy gate to keep the puppy away, make sure the puppy can still see you so he doesn't feel like he's on a time out.
Ask the Trainer: When Two Dogs Compete to be First
(Kevin Duggan, CPDT-KA in Ask the Trainer4)
I have a 4 year old male malti-poo and a couple of months ago rescued a 3 year old female shih-tzu. We wanted a companion dog for Jack- one that was comparable in size , playful but not too hyper. She and Jack get along pretty well overall- except when it comes to playtime. Jack has never responded well to high-energy dogs. And while Francie is not a hyper dog, she has a tendency to be a bit bossy- always pushing Jack out of the way to be first etc. And she plays very rough- it’s really the only time where she really gets hyper, but she nearly body-slams Jack whenever she starts running. He snarls at her, but it doesn’t seem to have an effect. On the other hand when he tries to engage her to play more at his level, she doesn’t respond at all. Any suggestions?
Hey there Jess,
One thing I recommend is for the human to referee the play sessions. If you feel things are getting too rough feel free to step in and safely separate them. This way if everything goes as planned they will never rehearse those unwanted behaviors because it will never escalate to it.Another thing that is good to do is practice doing little training sessions with both of them at the same time. This will allow them to have some structured time together where they are interacting with you/each other and it is calm and structured. You can actually substitute some of the play time with this. Having them do some obedience together will actually work their brains which will tire them out.In regards to Francie’s bossiness, if it is becoming a problem I would start to make them both to wait for things. Whether it’s going out of the door first, or if it’s running to get a treat first. This will teach her that there is no advantage to being first.Ironically you could also use this behavior of needing to be first to your advantage for training. What you could do is make the training games a competition. If you do recall (dogs come when called) whichever dog gets there quicker gets the bigger reward!Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA
Dog Body Language – Part One: The Posture
( Brandy Arnold in Basic Training, Lifestyle w/ Dog58 = Dogington Post)
What can you tell about this dog by her posture?
Did you know that dogs, like humans, share a universal body language? This awe-inspiring way of communication is one that we humans can also understand. By learning their unique language, we can connect and communicate with our pooches far more effectively.
Uncovering the Meaning of Your Dog’s Postures
For the first in a three-part series, let’s take a look at dog’s postures and what they can mean:
1. The relaxed stance. This is often shown with his ears up yet relaxed (not forward) and his tail down. A relaxed pooch may even have his mouth somewhat opened with the tongue slightly exposed.
2. The play stance. This is usually indicated by your dog’s front end brought down and his back side held up. His tail may be upright and is usually wagging. The dog’s ears may also be erect and his mouth slightly opened with the tongue showing.
3. The submissive stance. Submission is most obvious when the dog lies on his back or on his side as he raises his legs to expose the throat and belly. He might avoid eye contact while his tail is seen between his legs, not to be mistaken as fear. The corners of his mouth as well as his ears and hair will be drawn down and back.
4. The scared stance. This is easily identified when the dog refuses to look at you directly for a long time. To make himself small and appear unimposing, his body will be lowered with the ears back, corners of the mouth pulled back, and the tail down. The dog may even lick you and try to raise a paw.
5. The alert stance. This is normally signified with the ears up and forward, mouth closed, and the tail straightened out, though not stiffened. The dog’s legs may be tensed as he leans slightly frontward. Fido may also be seen raising and then lowering his head.
6. The defensive stance. This is readily recognized when the dog’s body is lowered with the ears pulled back and the tail in between his legs. Their hair might stand on end, indicating his leaning to aggression in an effort to protect himself.
7. The aggressive stance. This is commonly shown by the prickling hair most obvious in the dog’s shoulder area and the tail upstretched. Fido’s nose may be wrinkled and his teeth bared. His ears will also be high and forward, with the stance going a little frontward. Barking and growling may even be observed. Never approach this dog and try to turn away as eye contact can be misread as threat.
Understanding your dog’s posture is an excellent way of gauging what he’s trying to communicate, especially when combined with an understanding of the language of a dog’s tail and head.
Dog Body Language – Part Two: The Tail
(Brandy Arnold in Basic Training, Lifestyle w/ Dog30 - Dogington Post)
Like any other form of language, tail position and movement in dogs has its own grammar and vocabulary that can be learned by humans as a means to better communicate with our dogs. While the tail can give you important clues about your dog’s emotional state, to fully grasp what your pooch is communicating, try looking at more than just one part of his body. Instead, make an effort to get the entire picture by observing his body as a whole.
What Fido’s Tail is Telling You
1. The happy tail. An unmistakably friendly wag normally involves the dog’s entire back end moving widely back and forth. (I call this “wiggle butt!”) If a dog is truly excited about something, like greeting his owner, he may wag his tail in big, fast circular motion. Eager butt wiggles can observed. The entire friendly-pooch package often includes a somewhat lowered body, squinty eyes, open mouth, and ears slightly pulled back. Remember that you have to assess the tail in context with other body language as not all wagging tails signify a happy dog.
2. The tense tail. An on-edge canine body usually goes with a raised, stiff tail held tight in a C curve. Although all curved tails are not the same in meaning, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is the stiffer and more motionless Fido and his tail is, the more cautious you need to be. Try to avoid engagement till you see the anxious dog becomes relaxed.
3. The sad tail. While a lowered tail usually means that the dog is very relaxed, a tail that is markedly held tightly down and even tucked in between the legs; however, may mean that the pooch is not having a good time. Lowered tails may also suggest fear. That’s why, once you see Fido’s tail drooping, perhaps it’s time to pay attention and make him feel secure.
Clues to Look Out For
· Slight wags. A slight wag with swings that only make small breadths is commonly noticed during simple greetings. It’s often just your pooch’s way of saying a tentative “Hi there”, or a confident “I’m here”.
· Broad wags. This normally indicates “I’m pleased”, or “I’m not threatening or challenging you”, especially if the tail movement comes with a drag of the hips.
· Slow wags. This wag with the tail seemingly at half-mast tends to be less social. Generally, slow wags which show neither particularly submissive (low) nor dominant (high) position could mean insecurity.
· Tiny, swift movements. These tiny tail movements that sometimes make the tail look like it is vibrating is a sign that Fido is about to do something- either fight or run. A fearful dog will sometimes wag only the tip of his tail in short, rapid bursts. If the tail is raised while shuddering, it is likely that the dog is becoming an active threat.
Many dog owners mistakenly believe that a wagging tail is always a happy tail. Remember, when it comes to reading your dog’s tail, you MUST consider posture, movements of the eyes and ears, and the situation your dog is in to get the whole picture.
Dog Body Language – Part Three: The Head
(Brandy Arnold in Basic Training, Lifestyle w/ Dog26 - Dogington Post)
Making an effort to understand what your pooch is saying can provide you lots of useful information, like when your furball is frightened, uneasy about something, or even tense and might be all set to snap at someone. Just take a look at his face and pay attention to his entire body and you will an idea of what he’s trying to tell you. Although dogs do make use of signals and sounds, most of their messages are shown through their unique body language.
When Focusing on Fido’s Face
Despite the fact that dogs’ heads and faces generally come in various shapes and sizes, just keep in mind that your little four-legged best friend’s facial expressions can uncover a lot about what exactly he is feeling.
1. Looking into your dog’s eyes. Like humans, dogs can also (although within limits) change the size and shape of their eyes or even the intensity and direction of their gaze. You’ll know if your pooch is happy if his eyes are at their normal profile. Eyes that seem larger than usual often suggest that the dog is feeling somewhat defenseless or threatened which is normally an indication of stress, fear, or aggression. Now, if your dog’s eyes appear smaller than normal, it may signify that your pet is not feeling well or is in pain. Squinting eyes may also denote submissiveness or distress. When it comes to the intensity and direction of Fido’s gaze, consider the following: if your dog gazes at you with a relaxed face, it means that he is being pleasant and probably even yearning for your attention; a direct tense stare, however, implies threat; if he looks away, it indicates that he doesn’t want to look threatening or that he is being submissive.
2. Reading Fido’s lips. Although dogs don’t usually use of their mouths for chatter, the way their lips, teeth, and jaws are positioned already speaks volumes. While a relaxed and happy dog will usually have a closed or slightly opened mouth, a submissive or a frightened pooch, on the other hand, will have a closed mouth with the lips somewhat pulled back at the corners. He might even start flicking his tongue inside and outside or begin licking when interacting with someone or another pet. In addition, the uptight feeling may be shown with exaggerated yawns. Now, watch out for retracted lips, exposed teeth, and wrinkled muzzles as these often indicate aggression.
3. Watching your pooch’s ears. For dogs that seem comfortable and relaxed, they would normally hold their ears naturally. When they are alert and ready to act, they would raise their ears higher, directing them to whatever that caught their interest. If the dog is feeling aggressive, his ears will most likely be raised and forward; and when he wants to be friendly, expect that his ears will be pulled back a little. Furthermore, submissiveness or fear may be shown by a completely flattened ears or perhaps a pair that’s wholly stuck out to the sides of his head.
Because your dog speaks with his entire body, not just with his face, tail, or posture, it’s important to understand all of your dog’s body languages and the context in which each are used.
INFOGRAPHIC: The Body Language of Fear in Dogs
(Brandy Arnold - Dogington Post)
Since our dogs can’t tell us with words when they’re feeling afraid or uncomfortable, it’s up to each and every one of us to understand the language they do speak – body language!
Some of the signs of fear and anxiety are quite obvious – others are much more subtle.
We very often hear “the dog just snapped out of nowhere!” But, that’s rarely the case. Dogs have a wide variety of “tells,” subtle body language that, if you’re familiar with it, will alert you to a dog’s comfort level.
Study this simple, easy to remember infographic from renowned trainer Sophia Yin. Then watch your own dogs and the dogs you interact with – do you recognize any of these subtle signs of fear or anxiety?
Why Does My Dog... Roll in Stinky Stuff?
(DR. MARTY BECKER - Vet Street)
While veterinary behaviorists aren't sure why dogs like to roll in rotten and stinky stuff, many believe pets mark themselves with their most "prized possessions" in an attempt to show them off to their two-legged and four-legged friends. For a dog, wearing stinky stuff is like wearing the best designer-label scent.
While dogs have millions of scent receptors that humans don't, they are polar opposites when it comes to putting stuff on their skin. People like smells that are fresh, floral and fragrant. Dogs prefer dirty, dead and (to us) disgusting.
Forget trying to prevent your dog from rolling around in the stinkiest things imaginable. For you, it's foul; for dogs, it's divine. With thousands of years of practice backing their interest, dogs will continue to go boldly where no man, or woman, would ever choose to go. The only surefire way to stop the stinky sniff-and-roll is to keep your dog on the leash or teach a foolproof "come-hither" when called.
Dealing with Your Puppy's Separation Anxiety
(Sarah Hodgson from Puppies For Dummies, 3rd Edition)
Puppies hate separation. If they had their way, they’d follow you to the ends of the Earth. Puppies suffering from separation anxiety may chew destructively, claw at the door, soil the house, bark excessively, or act out other destructive behaviors.
These behaviors can also indicate a restless puppy who needs more exercise or is poorly socialized to household etiquette — so how do you know the difference, and what can you do to help? To get started, recognize that your puppy is not behaving badly out of spite. Puppies just can’t think that way. Your puppy doesn’t like being left alone, and what you’re seeing is anxiety, canine style.
Separation anxiety can be exhibited by puppies with either of the following reactivity types:
Separation anxiety demands a multi-approach solution that involves training and often medication when the anxiety is so severe that a puppy is destructive in her surroundings. If you need help, get it. In the meantime, follow these ground rules:
When you’re home, temporarily decrease the attention you give your puppy by 50 percent for two weeks while practicing the other exercises listed here. Don’t give in to “pet me” solicitations. Petting her just makes being alone all day even more difficult for her. Going from lots of attention to no attention is too sharp a contrast for a pup.
Setting up practice departures
Also try setting up practice departures by following these steps:
After your puppy’s comfortable being alone for 20 minutes, go back to short separations, but this time leave the house. Gradually work your way up to being outside for 30 minutes. Start over once more, but this time get into and start your car. With patience, you’ll be able to build your puppy’s confidence and leave her for longer and longer periods of time.
If your puppy’s prone to destruction when you leave, make her a party bag: Put a selection of treats, toys, and chewies in a brown paper lunch bag, crumple it closed, and place it in the middle of the floor just as you walk out the door. The party bag will give her something to focus on for the first few minutes after your departure, which is when most of the tension happens.
4 Sneaky Signs That Your Dog Suffers from Separation Anxiety
(Dr Becker - Healthy Pets/
Separation anxiety is a common problem for many dogs and their guardians. To the uninitiated, it may not sound like a big deal, but it's actually a very serious issue.
Dogs who at first seem just exceptionally eager to see their humans are often brewing a full-blown case of separation anxiety just below the surface. Behaviors to watch for in your dog include:
Another mistake owners of dogs with separation anxiety often make is to assume their pet's destructiveness in their absence is simple misbehavior. They believe their dog is acting out of boredom or anger at being left behind.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
If your dog has genuine separation anxiety, he feels extreme nervousness when you're away. What he's experiencing is the equivalent of a human panic attack he has no control over, and he's likely exhibiting one or more of the following inappropriate coping behaviors in your absence:
If you're confused about whether your dog is suffering separation anxiety or simple boredom, keep in mind that the behaviors that result from separation anxiety occur only when you're not around and every time you're not around.
Behavior Modification Tips
The goal in treating your dog's separation anxiety is to reduce her dependence on you so that she can feel safe when you're temporarily away from home. Some of the following suggestions may seem unkind when you're faced with an anxious dog who doesn't want to be away from you, but it's important to remember the agony she's feeling each time you leave. Your intention is to reduce or eliminate her suffering, for her sake.
Helping your canine companion feel more independent can be accomplished with a variety of behavior modification techniques and other strategies.
Curbing Your Dog’s Attention-Seeking Behaviors
Leave your dog with an article of clothing or blanket with your scent on it.
Leave a treat-release toy(s) for your dog to focus on in your absence. Place small treats around the house for her to discover, along with her favorite toys.
Add a flower essence blend like Separation Anxiety by Spirit Essences, Anxiety by Green Hope Farms, or Separation Anxiety Formula from OptiBalance to your dog's drinking water. This works wonders for some dogs. And put on some soothing doggy music before you leave. Homeopathic Aconitum may also help.
Invest in an Adaptil collar or diffuser for your dog. Adaptil is a pheromone and is designed to have a calming affect on dogs. The collar seems to work well for many dog owners with pups suffering from separation anxiety and other stress-related behaviors.
Make sure your dog gets plenty of heart pumping exercise, playtime, mental stimulation, and TLC. The more full her life is when you're around, the calmer she'll be when you're not.
If your dog's separation anxiety is severe enough that she is very destructive when left alone or you're concerned she might hurt herself, you'll need to make other arrangements for her while you work to resolve her issues. A few suggestions:
Helping a Dog that Suffers from Separation Anxiety
(Kevin Duggan, CPDT-KA in Ask the Trainer, Front Page News - Dogington Post)
I get questions on how to fix separation anxiety very often. I wish there was a quick easy answer. However that is not the case. SA for a lot of dogs is so severe that they are losing all control. This leads to urination/defecation in the house, torn up walls/doors, puddles of drool etc.
Firstly, lets get some myths out of the way. When this is happening this is not your dog seeking revenge on you. Your dog is not doing this because he is mad at you and trying to get back at you. This is also not happening because your dog thinks he is in charge and did not give you approval to leave. (The last one sounds silly but I’ve heard that one mentioned on TV before.) It is important that we understand that is a pretty serious condition in dogs that depending on the severity can take from 6 months a year to fix.
Secondly, it is important that we make sure this actually is SA and not just a bored dog. A dog that has copious amounts of energy will find a way to get rid of it. If the human doesn’t give him a proper outlet he will find one himself. Which typically means the dog destroying something of the humans.
When dealing with moderate to severe cases one of the first things I recommend to do along with the training protocol is to get the dog on a medication to help with the anxiety. It is important to have a training protocol because medication alone is not going to fix this. I know that not everyone is a fan of the medication part of it. My response to that is the amount of stress that the dog is going through on a daily basis is not healthy at all. If we can give him something that will help remove that horrible stress and it is only there for a short period of time it is worth it. I have tried using some all natural erbal anxiety remedies and have had mixed results. From my experience they do not always work as well and are rather pricey. When I was going through anxiety issues with my dog I started off with an all-natural herbal product that was $30.00 per bottle and that didn’t even last a month. I switched to a fluoxetine and was spending $10.00 a month. It is a good idea to hire a trainer to help you with this. It is also a good idea for the vet, trainer, and owner to work together as a team in solving this.
A couple things you can try along with the fluoxetine that are natural that could be helpful are DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone), a Thundershirt, and different relaxing music.
Lets talk about how to get the anxiety to cease. The ultimate goal is going to be the human leaving the house and the dog not caring. One of the first things you can start to do is incorporate a cue that lets your dog know you will be back. I usually say, “Be right back.” This is the last thing the dog hears you say before you leave. That means the next thing that follows it in regards to you is that you are coming back. With repetition he will start to associate you saying, “be right back” with you coming back. You can do lots of repetition of this. Say your phrase, step outside for 1 second, come back in and reward him. He will start to associate you leaving and coming back with good things. Each time you do this increase the amount of time you are outside. In the beginning your dog will be very concerned with you leaving. After some repetition he will know exactly what is going on and will start to relax when you do it.
The next exercise is going to consist of some auto-shaping. For this you will need something that has a hole in it like a Kong and something awesome to put inside of it like Peanut Butter. The idea with this is to keep the dog busy and focused on something besides the human. I like to use a crate for this because we can create a place of comfort. Every case will be different though so use your best judgment. The idea is that we are going to give the dog something it really enjoys for a short period of time and we are going to stay right next to the dog. The first time you do this do it for like 5 minutes. After 5 minutes tell the dog “okay” and safely remove the Kong and PB. If you cannot safely remove it do not attempt. The next time you do this increase the amount of time that he is in the crate with the Kong, and also take a baby step away creating more distance. Remember to stay stationary during this exercise. If you move around there is a good chance the dog will notice which could result with him focusing on you and potentially getting anxious. Continue this pattern. If done correctly you will get to the point where you will be able to be out of sight and your dog will be comfortable with that. A quick tip in regards to the Kong and Peanut Butter: You can put the Kong and PB in the freezer prior to this exercise to make it last longer.
These are just a couple ideas on how to help your dog be more comfortable when you are out of sight. Remember to take baby steps to ensure your dog stays comfortable. If you try to rush this you will just end up with an anxious dog. Once again hiring a trainer could be very helpful with this process.
Remember that to fix this issue it is going to take dedication. It is going to be very important to practice protocols multiple times a day. Also remember to stay very patient.
Thanks for reading!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA
Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org) and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V, follow him on Facebook .
6 Solutions for Dog's Separation Anxiety
(Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM)
As back to school craziness takes hold across the country, I worry about how all of our dogs are handling the inevitable changes in the family schedule. Fall can mean less time with beloved family members — particularly those who might be heading off to college or out of the home for work for the first time — and that can be a trigger for separation anxiety in dogs.
Separation anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, fear, or panic that develops when a dog is unable to be in contact with his or her caregivers. Often, symptoms of mild separation anxiety are missed by owners, since they tend to occur when we are not home or are misidentified as simply being a sign that our pet loves us. Dogs at risk for separation anxiety may:
Behavioral modification protocols often include recommendations like:
Dr. Jennifer Coates
3 Easy Ways to Help Your Pet Cope While You’re Away
We all hate to leave our pets, but sometimes a trip away is necessary. Whether you decide to place your pet in a kennel or a pet sitter’s care, there are a number of things you can do to make your time away from them as easy as possible.
Keep the Routine
Be sure that whoever will be caring for your pet knows their routine, and will stick with it. Your pet should be fed, walked, and played with at the same times each day as he is accustomed to. Your being away will be enough of a change; keeping the rest of the routine the same will help to ease your pet’s stress. Be sure to always leave your pet with plenty of his regular food; don’t put him through the stress of a diet change while you’re not there.
Leave Familiar Objects
If you’re leaving your pet at a kennel, send him with a few of his favorite toys. You might even include his pet bed from home, if he has one. Be sure to leave him with a shirt or blanket that smells like you – familiar toys and scents act as a reassurance to your pet.
Don’t Make Leaving a Big Deal
When it’s time to leave your pet, don’t make it into a bigger deal than it needs to be. A quick hug and a pat goodbye should suffice – drawing out the goodbyes into a longer, more emotional departure will not only alert your pet to the fact that you are upset, it will also cause him unneeded stress. As much as you may want to give your pet a long goodbye, keep things short and simple for his well-being.
Your pet will certainly miss you, but by following these steps you can make your time away as easy on him as possible. If you suspect your pet might truly be distressed by your leaving, get him accustomed to the idea of being away from you by leaving him in someone else’s care for several shorter periods of time before your longer trip.
shaking and shivering
Why Chihuahuas Shake and Shiver
(chihuahualiscious, and other small liscious dogs)
Chihuahuas are notorious for shaking and shivering more than any other dogs. In fact inexperienced owners often believe there is a serious health issue which is causing this behaviour. As a result, they rush their little canines to the emergency vet only to discover that there’s nothing wrong with them. So, what exactly causes Chihuahuas to shake and shiver? If you’re curious to know why your Chihuahua acts this way, keep reading and we’ll take a closer look into the Chihuahua’s shaking behaviour.
One of the most common reasons why Chihuahuas shake and shiver is simply because they are cold. With an average weight of just 2-4 pounds, Chihuahuas are one of the smallest dog breeds in the world; therefore, they are more susceptible to the effects of cold weather. Just like we instinctively shiver in cold temperatures, so do Chihuahuas. It’s their way of speeding up the flow of blood throughout their body so they don’t fall victim to hypothermia.
When the fall and winter seasons begin to roll around, you should take notice of your Chihuahua’s comfort level. They obviously don’t have the ability to speak and let you know when they are cold, so it’s up to you to watch their body language. If your Chihuahua shakes and shivers in the morning, evening or when they go outside, then it’s likely a result of them being cold. You can stop this behaviour by warming them up and offering some thermal protection against the biting cold temperatures.
Here are some things you can do to keep your Chihuahua warm and prevent them from shivering:
Like many other small dogs, Chihuahuas tend to shake and shiver when they are anxious or frightened. Some owners don’t give their Chihuahua’s credit for being as smart as they really are. When a young Chihuahua puppy sneaks off into another room of the house to use the bathroom, you might find them hiding in their crate shivering uncontrollably. This is because they know they weren’t supposed to go to the toilet indoors, so they are anxious and nervous of your reaction. Even if you don’t physically punish your Chihuahua (you NEVER should), just the stern sound of your voice telling them no is enough to draw a shaking and shivering reaction from them.
Chihuahuas may also shake when larger, more menacing dogs are nearby. If they are not used to being around dog’s, they will naturally be frightened and somewhat standoffish. This is usually typical behaviour, but I recommend keeping your Chihuahua separated from any larger dogs they are not familiar with. Shaking is a sign they are frightened, and this could lead to them lashing out if they feel threatened or backed into a corner. Just to be on the safe side, place your Chihuahua in a different area of the house if they are shaking and a new dog is around.
Chihuahuas also shake when they are excited. This type of excitement is positive and doesn’t require any special treatment or attention from the owner. In fact, it’s actually kind of amusing to see your Chihuahua so happy and excited from something as simple as a treat. Just remember to only give them treats in moderation; otherwise you run the risk of them being overweight and obese.
Hypoglycaemia (Low Blood Sugar)
It’s estimated that as many as 10% of the Chihuahua population suffers from hypoglycaemia, making it a common health problem associated with the breed. Some of the symptoms presented from it include: lethargy, lack of energy and shaking uncontrollably. If left untreated, hypoglycaemia can lead to seizures and even death. Thankfully, however, it’s fairly easy to treat. The key is to spread your Chihuahua’s meals out through the day. If you are only feeding them 1 or 2 large meals, try giving them 4-5 smaller meals with the same amount of food. You can also keep a dropper, full of sugar and water with you, incase of an emergency. When your Chihuahua begins to exhibit symptoms of hypoglycaemia, just squirt a small amount of sugar and water down their throat.
Lastly, your Chihuahua’s shaking and shivering could be the result of an allergic reaction. Have you noticed this behaviour after feeding them a new type of food or treat? If so, you should stop giving it to them immediately and closely monitor their situation. If they don’t stop shaking or other symptoms begin to manifest, call your vet for professional advice. Allergic reactions are something that you don’t want to mess around with. In most cases, they will go away on their own, but some of the more severe cases can lead to life-threatening complications.
Just like us humans can have allergy tests, so can Chihuahuas and other dogs. If you believe your Chihuahua is suffering from allergies but can’t pinpoint its exact origin, this might be a smart option to take. Talk to your vet about the pros and cons of performing an allergy test to determine whether or not it would prove beneficial.
shaking their coats
Why Do Dogs Shake Their Coats?
Part of being a good dog owner is understanding what your dog is trying to say. Shaking a coat in a particular manner is one indication of a dog's wants, needs or feelings. A dog will shake his coat for many reasons, including being wet and wanting to exhibit a certain emotion. He also shakes because it is his nature to do so.
A dogs will do a rough shake of his coats when wet, which is a way of getting water off his coat. He also shakes when items are caught in his coat, such as burrs, bugs, leaves or grass. In addition, a dog will shake when he has an itch or is angry, upset or scared
Within the last few hundred years humans began taking care of dogs. For thousands of years, dogs had to completely take care of themselves. Therefore, it's in his nature to shake when wet even though his owner may have a fluffy warm towel. Because dogs have shaken their coats since the beginning of time, they continue to do so. Sometimes your dog will shake his coat for absolutely no reason, which is his nature
The reasons dogs shake their coats today reflect on the reasons they did in the past, even if the world has changed. In the past, dogs had no warm houses to go into when they were wet, so if they didn't shake the water out of their coats, they would freeze. Even if your dog knows he can go into your house and dry off, he will still shake his coat. Although most dogs don't have to fight for dominance in a pack today, because some live in homes with other domesticated dogs, they still shake their coats when meeting a dog they don't know or during a fight to show dominance. The same goes for a hunched over shake, which indicates fear or submission. If you can't outwardly tell why your dog is shaking his coat, and it happens more than just occasionally, check his fur. He might have something stuck in it, or he might have a skin condition.
A dog does not shake for no reason. Each time your dog shakes his coat, he is trying to either clear the coat of fleas, grass, dirt, water or flakes of his own skin. If he isn't trying to clear his coat, he is trying to project an idea about himself to other dogs or people.
A dog has no hands to run along his coat to smooth it down, and he cannot use a towel to dry himself off. He cannot pull burrs or fleas out of his coat, and if he wants to tell another dog something he cannot speak to do so. Therefore, shaking is one of the main ways that a dog has to take care of himself and to present himself in a certain way to another dog or to people he meets.
DOG STRESS: SIGNS, SYMPTOMS, AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
Summertime is here and that means family vacations, backyard BBQ’s, house guests, busy activities, day trips, and changes to the daily routine. While these are all fun and good, occasionally dogs have a little trouble adjusting and can suffer the signs of stress as a result. Furthermore, they may also pick up on any tension you’re feeling, which can exacerbate the problem.
Dogs that are stressed may suffer health problems, anxiety, destructive behavior, and may be more prone to act out in aggression.
How can you tell if your dog is suffering from stress?
Watch for these signs:
How can you help your stressed dog remain calm?
Your dog will take cues from you so if you are having a great time and enjoying your day, most like your dog will do the same.
Why Does My Dog... Dig in the Trash Can?
(DR. WAILANI SUNG - Vetstreet)
Why do dogs love to dig through our trash? The answer may lie far back in our shared history.
According to most experts, dogs were domesticated from wolves by humans several thousand years ago. The speculation is that wolves may initially have been captured as puppies or tamed due to living in proximity to human villages. Why would these wolves live close to human villages? To scavenge our trash for food, of course!
In the wild, wolves may go several days without eating. They are not always successful in hunting big game every day. We may consider the food we throw out to be garbage, but to dogs, it is merely food — stinky, ripe, aromatic food! It is a bouquet of scents that are interesting and exciting to dogs.
Some dogs have developed a game of digging through the trash. Sometimes they find good stuff to eat or fun things to chew on. When they are so engaged in sniffing out an interesting scent, they may scatter the refuse all through the house. The garbage may be akin to a doggie version of a Cracker Jack box — they know there's a prize inside.
Other dogs have learned that digging in the trash is a good way of getting an owner’s attention, so it becomes attention-seeking behavior. Your dog may have formed the association that, “Every time I drag a tissue out of the trash, my mom or dad suddenly starts talking to me and tries to take my new toy away.” What fun it is for them to play keep-away and have their owners chase them around the house! Whereas if the dog did not get an item out of the trash, the owners may not have paid the dog as much attention.
Stopping Doggie Dumpster Diving
There are several things you can do to keep your dog out of the trash.
1. Hide the can. This is the best and easiest method. Do not leave temptation out. Put the trash can in a cupboard or pantry. If your dog has learned to open cupboards, use a child lock.
2. Contain the trash. Use a trash can with a tight lid that stays on even when your dog knocks it over. Modern trash cans with motion sensors that automatically open the lid won't do. Nor will trash cans with step pedals or swinging lids. Dogs have gotten their heads stuck through swing lids, and if a can is heavy enough, a dog sometimes learns to step on the pedal and open the lid.
3. Deter the behavior. The use of remote-activated spray or noise deterrents can helpl to prevent your dog from getting into or near your trash can. If your dog has previously been reprimanded for getting into the trash when you are home, he is likely smart enough to learn to leave the trash can alone when you are present, but as soon as you are out of sight or leave the house, he may go looking for goodies in the garbage. Remote deterrents are motion-activated devices that release compressed air or emit a high-pitched noise. The devices are intended to be mildly aversive. Some dogs may be sensitive to these devices and get scared, while others may not be deterred at all. Before employing such products, discuss their safe use with your veterinarian or behaviorist.
4. Try training. The one method that requires the most work is teaching your dog to “leave it.” I first teach a dog to turn away or back off from my hand while I am holding treats. Once the dog has learned the phrase “leave it,” then I use that phrase every time the dog goes near the trash. When the dog backs or turns away, I immediately offer him praise and treats. When I am not working with the dog, I put the trash can away. After repeated training sessions, I leave the trash can out for longer periods and offer praise and rewards every time the dog walks past the trash can and does not stop to investigate. I may even go a step further and start with a trash can that does not contain any food. Then, in more advanced training sessions, I bait the trash can with really pungent foods.
As always, consult your veterinarian or pet behavioral professional as a first step when dealing with a pet behavior problem.
tug of war
A Fun Game or Teaching Your Dog to be Aggressive?(Written on 08/14/2013 by Brandy Arnold in Basic Training)
Quite a number of arguments exist about whether we should play tug-of-war with our dogs. Some insist that the game never be played at all. Others assert that it’s ok as long as you win all the time, while some say to let the dog always win. And yet others advise that with shy and sensitive breeds, owners have to win only half the time to ensure that the dog does not get wrong ideas about who is alpha. But there is one thing that most – if not all have agreed on- that is, owners should never, under any condition, play the game of tug-of-war with an aggressive dog.
What’s in it For your Dog
Despite the fact that many are hesitant about playing tug-of-war with their dogs, the fact that it is still a good fun game that provides dogs a safe outlet to channel their natural predatory instincts cannot be overlooked. Dogs possess a deep-rooted need to prey, even if it is just in play. Through tug-of-war, their inherent need is satisfied in a safe and controlled manner. With the game, your pet’s innate aggression goes out to the tug toy. Plus, a good game of tug is excellent exercise!
Although the game facilitates aggression, tug-of-war is a shared activity that communicates the message to the dog that you are the one who is responsible for the satisfaction of his emotions. Yes, the tug-rag is a dead piece of cloth until you are at the other end, wiggling and making it seem very alive for him. The moment your dog understands that it is you who provides him that gratification, he will look up to you as the answer to his wildest and most pleasurable instincts.
Lastly, the game of tug-of-war offers the dog confidence and a sense of power. Confidence is indeed a desirable quality to cultivate in a dog, but the sense of power is kind of questionable. Like humans, you have to understand that dogs also tend to think like a martial artist: the more they are aware of their own power to hurt others, the less likely they are to need to prove it. When played properly, tug-of-war will give the dog that emotional centering essential for him to live peacefully with no need or desire to harm others.
The Rules of Engagement
Because it is true that playing tug-of-war with a dog can be dangerous, owners have to keep in mind these seven rules for play:
1. Let the dog win all the time, and do not forget to give him praises for winning.
2. Stop playing the game before your dog loses interest or gets bored.
3. If you believe that your dog seems not to know that it is a game, do not play.
4. If your dog is aggressive, and his behavior does not improve after three days, stop playing the game with him and give your experienced dog trainer a call.
5. If your dog’s teeth suddenly stray onto your hand or arm, immediately stop playing. However, keep doing this every day until your pet learns that the fun only continues when he bites the tug toy, and ends if he bites your hand.
6. You may be better off using a store-bought tug-toy rather than handing you dog an old sock or bandana, as you don’t want him thinking its ok to pull on your personal items. Using these tug “rags” will motivate your dog to want to return it to you just so you can make it alive again.
7. Teach your dog how to drop the tug toy on your command. Toss that order into the mix once in a while. But make sure that the interruption appears to be part of the fun, and not that you are only being mean as the “Drop it” monster.
Do you play tug-of-war with your dog? Or, do you believe it promotes dog aggression?