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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Keep Pets Safe Tonight

It's New Years Eve.  One of the scariest holidays for our pets.  Pets who normally wouldn't leave the yard might do so when frightened.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stress Reduction for Behavioral Issues

When our dogs are faced with behavioral difficulties, it often helps to look at the big picture rather than just concentrate on the “problem” at hand.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Today is a Great Day to Start Dr Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol


Developed by Dr Karen Overall, the Relaxation Protocol is a great tool for nervous dogs, hyper dogs, noise phobic dogs, dogs who have separation anxiety, etc..

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Good Dog Training Doesn't Make Good Television

A television program that shows the proper method for solving behavioral issues would be quite boring. It would look a lot like the below video

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Compulsive Disorders Part II - References

Compulsive Disorders in Pets

  • Do your pets have any habits? Chasing their tails, darting after shadows, etc..?
    Sometimes habits are harmless.  Sometimes they can be easily fixed by getting the dog's attention and redirecting to something else. Sometimes what appears to be a nervous habit might actually be a medical issue. Some pets might have a  serious compulsive disorder.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Screaming Kids and Other Noises. Part I - Management

Do outside sounds like screaming kids, motorcycles, and garbage trucks frighten your dog?  Of course we can work on helping our pets feel better about certain noises. But we have to start at a point where our dog isn't scared or reactive.  In order to do that, we need to find a way to make outside sounds less scary.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Visitors. Part III

If you have a dog who doesn't like visitors or who gets over stimulated by visitors, here are some options:

Desensitizing Touching

Helping a dog learn how to be touched

Visitors Part II

First I'd start with management, stress reduction, relaxation and treating the whole dog.
More details here:

Then I'd work on some training/obedience. Decide what you want the dogs to do instead of what you don't want.
Sit when visitors arrive? Run to Mat? Run to crate? Grab a toy, etc..  Teach the desired behavior during relaxed times when no visitors are there.

Then I'd work on visitors with one dog at a time. Starting with someone that they know and like - roommate, spouse, best friend etc..
You can use techniques from Grisha's Stewart's Behavior Adjustment Training or Leslie McDevitt's "Control Unleashed"
Or just plain ol counter conditioning - starting with one dog at a time and staying below threshold.
Teach what you what you want the dog to do as the visitor arrives (after you've taught it alone)

After each dog is performing well separately with known people, then you can put them together.

When you are ready to work with less known visitors, separate the dogs and start from the beginning. For unknown folks it is probably best to start outdoors - far away enough from the person so that dog becomes comfortable. Once the dogs are comfortable outdoors (could take days, weeks or months), then bring that person indoors. Have the person walk in, then the dog.    Ask the dog for the behavior you desire while the visitor does absolutely nothing.

If that goes well, you can start acclimating the dog to visitor movements
visitor lifts a pinky, YOU toss a treat
visitor raises hand (arms still), You toss a treat
visitor raise arm, you toss treat
visitor pretends he is about to get up but doesn't, you toss treat
and so on.

Do this with one person at a time, one dog at a time. Until each dog is comfortable. Then put the two dogs together

You might have to back this up even further by just acclimating the dogs to knocks and doorbells. 

While you are doing this, keep visitors to an absolute minimum.  Meet friends at their place or a  coffee shop or something. If you must have scary visitors before you have acclimated them to visitors, teach them how to relax in a  room by themselves. When visitors are due to arrive, have them call so you have time to calmly put the dogs away.  Tell visitors to not ring the doorbell or knock. Just calmly let them in while the dogs are put away.

More on visitors

Be sure that You always give treats and not the visitors

Friday, November 22, 2013

Training Classes

A. When a pet guardian should consider NOT taking group classes (Private sessions with a highly skilled trainer might be in order in certain cases)  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trigger Stacking

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing goes right.  You wake up late, then get stuck in traffic, then spill coffee on yourself, then the boss yell's at you.  You finally make it home. One of the kids accidentally spills something and you yell at her like she just wrecked your car or something.  Normally you wouldn't react so strongly, but with all the other things piled on to your day, you just snapped.

Adoption Counseling

We've already talked about how to find potential adopters and preparing pets for adoption.

Before sending your foster to his/her new home, help the new pet parents make the transition easier for the new family member.

Preparing Pets for Adoption

We've already talked about how to market your adoptable pets.  But we should actually get pets ready for adoption before we start marketing them:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dogs Who Aren't Treat Motivated

From the mailbag:
Two of my dogs are not treat motivated in public places.  I use hot dogs and pet botanics at home occasionally and they devour it with enthusiasm.  But in public they are too nervous.  Because of this I pretty much only take them to the vets and car rides where we do "drive thru" errands only.  I'm nervous about exposing them to too many people if I'm not able to give them treats to create positive experiences for them. I know they are nervous and don't want them to be placed in a position to snap or bite someone.

What would you recommend for dogs who are not treat motivated in public places?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Classical Conditioning

From the mailbag: I've always wondered... Do dogs that love car rides change if they've been in a car that's been in an accident? Thanks again.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Vehicle Chasers. Part III

From the mailbag:
What makes some dogs lunge, some dogs chase, and others run the other way when a car/motorcycle goes by?

Vehicle Chasers. Part II

From the mailbag 
A friend of mine was driving down her street and there was a guy walking his 3 dogs.  One of the dogs got loose and was hit by the car.  The owner took the dog to the ER.  
After returning from the ER, the dog owner told my friend that the dog will be getting her leg amputated.  He said the dog runs after cars all the time; the vet said this probably won't change that behavior.  This was a very sad incident for everyone involved.  
This serves as another reminder to always have our dogs under our control - but is there a way to train a dog not to do this?  Or chase bikes, motorcycles, etc? 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I made my dog hate cars

When were first moved into our neighborhood, I tested out several walking routes until I found one that had the fewest loose dogs.  Unfortunately, one part of that route had a blind curve. Sometimes cars would turn the corner quickly, frightening me. And this made me involuntarily yank on my dogs' leashes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Squirrel Chasing. Part IV

Continuing our discussion on squirrel chasing, we are just about ready to start working with actual squirrels.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Barking Neighbor Dogs

When faced with barking dogs, we should remind ourselves that it's not the dogs' fault that they are lonely, bored, scared or over aroused.  So we should not try to punish.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Squirrel Chasing. Part III - Foundation (b)

We have already discussed starting with management then implementing foundation in order to modify squirrel chasing.  For some dogs, the information already discussed in parts I and II will be enough to modify squirrel chasing.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Squirrel Chasing. Part II - Foundation

Daniel-San could not learn Karate until he learned how to wax a car.  Oliver Queen could not hold a bow properly until he slapped a lot of water.  We can't learn calculus if we never learned math.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pet Friendly Housing

Searching for housing that allows pets can get difficult at times.  Some locations don't allow pets and those that do often have size and breed restrictions.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Squirrel Chasing. Part I - Management

Puddin, Matt-Matt, and I were hanging out in a shaded area of our yard today.  A squirrel came down from one of the trees in my neighbor's yard and just stared at us.  That squirrel could have gone anywhere else (there were plenty of other trees), but chose to hang out where the dogs were.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Exercise Part VIII - Special Needs

Several years ago, I fostered a little Poodle mix named Tiffany. She had some type of back injury and vet's orders were no exercise at all (no walks).  I didn't want her sitting in a cage 24/7, so I bought her a doggie stroller.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Exercise Part VII - Old, Young, and Smooshed-Faced.

Caution: The below is information is just a guide - a starting point for discussions with your vet.

When my former spouse and I got our first dog - a 4 week old puppy - we did a lot of things wrong (for one thing 4 weeks is way too young to be taken away from Mom)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Extra Time At Home?

If the government shut down has given you some extra time at home, and your pets don't need any behavior modification, consider spending some time at an animal shelter or offering your services to a home based rescue.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Exercise Part IV. Sometimes we have to make the call

Question: Is exercise more dangerous in cooler weather? I've noticed my dog can run around much longer without getting tired when the weather is cooler than when it is very hot - it's quite amazing how much energy he has when it is cool. Is this all relative or can he be hurting himself when it is cool (for example, like an athlete who takes painkillers doesn't know when to rest).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Exercise Part III. The Type Of Exercise Matters

We all need exercise. It's good for our bodies and our mental well being.
And the old saying - "A good dog is a tired dog" can sometimes be true. A dog
who is well exercised doesn't have excess energy to get into trouble.

But can a dog get too much exercise or too much of the wrong kind of

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Exercise. Part II. Exhausted Does Not Equal Calm

I used to be a volunteer at a crowded shelter that didn't have enough volunteers to keep the dogs exercised and stimulated. All the dogs needed more attention, but I was very concerned about the dogs that had a reputation for biting.  I felt like they needed to get out of their kennels more than the others. So I took it upon myself to work up my nerve and take them out.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

From The Mail Bag - Exercise

Question: It's pretty common knowledge that people can over-exercise - i.e. work out too much without getting proper rest in between workouts. Overdoing it can lead to injuries, fatigue, reduced gains, apathy, etc - exactly the opposite of what one is trying to achieve. Along those lines, is it possible to over-exercise dogs? 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How Do I Fix My Scared and Nervous Dog?

When we live with shy, scared or nervous dogs, our number one priority is safety.  Since scared dogs can be easily spooked, we need to keep them secure.  Which means air locks, double leashes, etc.. See more details here

Our next priority is keeping the home as calm as possible and keeping stress to a minimum. More details here

Then we start treating the individual dog.  Our goal with shy dogs should not be in fixing them. We should try to help them feel safe.  And sometimes just making them feel safe might even help them on the road to recovery.
We don't expect Jack Russell Terriers and Border Collies to be couch potatoes; we don't expect Basset Hounds to win agility competitions; and we don't expect pugs to excel at herding.  Turning our shy dogs into happy-go-lucky party animals might be a very unrealistic goal.

How do we help our shy dogs feel safe?  If our pet gets  nervous at the pet store, we simply don't take him to the pet store.  If our dog is afraid of strangers, we don't let strangers approach nor pet. (Actually, a lot of dogs can start to feel better about strangers once they learn that they are not required to interact with them)

But removing all scary things from our dog's life might result in a poorer quality of life.  If our dogs are afraid of walks, we might want to help them feel better about going on walks. Walking is just one example, we might want to help our dog feel better about car rides, thunderstorms, neighbor nose etc..

When we start working on our dog's fears - we need to work on one thing at a time and we need to avoid flooding our dogs.  Flooding is basically forcing our dogs to "face their fears"  - Flooding is stressful to our dogs; it can make our dogs more fearful and in some cases; we can even turn shy dogs into aggressive dogs.
See more on flooding here:

Flooding is the main thing we need to be cautious about when helping shy dogs.  Another area where we should exercise caution is using treats to coax. We need to be careful to not try to lure our dogs into scary situation using treats. More details here:

So if we can't flood and we can't lure with treats, how do we help our dogs feel better about scary things?  Through Counter Conditioning and Desensitization.  We start at a place where the dog is not scared, then let our dog set the pace.

Teaching a dog to like walks:

Teaching a dog to like crates:

Helping a dog adjust to the man of the house:

Collar and Harness Acclimation:

I also suggest joining the Yahoo Shy- K9s list and reading some of my posts there. Here is a list of some of them:

Other related articles

Living With A Shy Dog:

The Relaxation Protocol:

On Forcing Dogs to Meet Strangers:

Recognizing Stress:

Feral Dogs:

Petting a Shy Dog:

Calming Aids:


It's Okay To Comfort a Scared Dog:


Desensitizing Touching:

Everything by Leslie McDevitt - Books and DVDs
Laura VanArendonk Baugh's Fired Up Frantic and Freaked Out
Nicole Wilde's - Help For Your Fearful Dog
Ali Brown's Scardey Dog

Tell us about your nervous dog in the comments section below

Email general questions or comments to
Replies might be shared on this blog but names will be changed or left out.

To get notified of future posts, click here

Coaxing With Food

Imagine being afraid of snakes, or spiders, or frogs. Now imagine the only
food available to you was a nutrition pellet and the only way to get it is
to wade through a pit of snakes or frogs or spiders, etc..

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Aggression Recycled

I recently saw a video that I liked. It inspired me to make a similar video about how we can recycle outdated training equipment.  To see my video, click here or see below

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dog Will Not Potty On Leash

Some dogs (especially the nervous ones) can have trouble eliminating when when they think someone is looking it at them or when someone is holding the leash

Multi Dog Household Safety

Multi dog household safety.
A few things to consider:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chewing and Destruction

You come home from a hard day at work and find your house in shambles. The stuffing is out of your sofa, your coffee table's legs are chewed up, some of your clothes are in the living room instead of the closet.. What do you do? Take a deep breath, count to 10 and remember that spot did not destroy your house out of spite or defiance.

Displaced Aggression

"Displaced aggression, displaced reactivity, redirecting" is attacking something that isn't the source of the frustration. In her book, Behavior Adjustment Training, Grisha Stewart describes redirection as "where your reactive dog goes after your other dog because he can't reach the real target."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why does my dog bite his nails?

From the mail bag: My dog bites his rear toenails - not obsessively, but every once in awhile.  I don't mind because I don't have to clip them and I even used to do the same thing (bite my nails that is, not his).

Anyway, I'm just wondering if he could be doing any damage to his toes or feet that I'm not aware of.  It doesn't appear to be allergies, because he just bites the nails.

Have you ever heard or seen this?   

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yard Cover. Part V - Artificial Turf

From the mail bag: Have you heard or seen anything about the artificial turf with respect to dogs? Supposedly, it's guaranteed for life, doesn't need watering (obviously), and "looks like" a lawn. 

Yard Cover. Part IV - Rubber Mulch

In my last post on yard cover, I wrote that I was interested in rubber mulch for the space between my redundant fencing.

I purchased a couple of bags today along with some weed block and I went to work.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yard Cover. Part III

A question posed by one of my readers has me thinking about rubber mulch for my yard - not the entire yard but the space in between my double fence. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

All dogs love me

Do you work in a service profession?  A job where you are required to be friendly and personable (cashier, wait staff, bartender, exotic dancer, teacher, etc...)?

Yard Cover. Part II

From the Mail Bag
I hadn't thought of mulch, that sounds like a good idea, especially if there are "soft" mulches - whatever they put at dog parks seems like a great cover. I've also heard of "rubber" mulch (small pieces of rubber that can be scattered on a yard) - I think that was what it was - do you know anything about this?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Yard Cover

From the mailbag
I recently had a tree removed and grinded down in South Central Texas (hot).  The result is a layer of shavings, ranging from sawdust-texture to bark-like chunks.  This has made for great fun for my dogs when they are playing fetch - they love sliding in it and it's also easy to cleanup waste (it hasn't rained yet, so I don't know what that will do to it).
Is there any risk that they will get splinters or is that only possible with living tree bark?  So far, they have been going at it heavily for a couple of weeks with no problems - have you heard of anyone covering their yard with this "thick" sawdust?

Well, I just got a few splinters when I was moving some wood posts that fence workers had left. And I also got splinters from trying to build a sandbox for my dog. So we can definitely get splinters from dead wood.

If you haven't done so already, I suggest running around barefoot. You might also try rolling around while wearing shorts and short sleeves. See if you get any irritation or splinters.

I can't recall seeing any yards covered in saw dust but I have seen dog parks covered in mulch. I don't know if sawdust is good to use or not. Here are so possible pros and cons.

-Lawns use up too much water; and South Texas doesn't have a lot of water to spare.  
- When we don't use grass, we need something to cover the ground to prevent erosion. Sawdust might do that.
-The sawdust didn't cost anything (well unless you count what you paid to have the tree cut down)
- Sawdust is bio degradable
-The dogs like it.

Possible Cons
-Wood parasites
  - -How close is the saw dust to your residence. Do you run the risk of attracting termites, carpenter ants, boring beetles?
-I assume the tree was cut down because something was wrong with it? If so, are you just spreading whatever was wrong all around your yard?
- Could the dogs inhale any of the finer shavings?
- Could the dogs get any shavings in their eyes?
- Flea don't do well in direct sunlight.  Might fleas find the middle or bottom of the pile of shavings an attractive area to hang out in?
- What about other animals that like cool, dark places? - Snakes maybe?
- Do you like to toss food out in the yard for your dogs?  If so, are you concerned about them consuming any of the shavings?

Does anyone have any saw dust success or cautionary stories?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Email general questions or comments to Replies might be shared on this blog but names will be changed or left out.

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Marketing Adoptable Dogs

Contact about getting an account.  If you can get an account, try to be as accurate as possible when listing breed, age, gender, personality, etc..

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How Do You Care For Pets When You Need Care?

Several years ago I had abdominal surgery.  I was fortunate enough to know well ahead of time that the surgery was going to happen.
At the time, I lived with a 50 pound senior dog who sometimes had trouble getting up.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dogs and Prejudice Part II

Mail bag question: Why are some dogs afraid of people wearing hats?

Dogs and Prejudice

From the mail bag:
I've heard of dogs not liking certain people and different theories about this.

Friday, August 30, 2013

You've Got To Be Carefully Taught

You've Got To Be Carefully Taught is a song from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific.
Basically the song implies that we aren't born prejudice. We have to be taught to hate.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Safe Room Part IV

Instead of confining your dog, try confining your stuff.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Safe Room Part III

More options for dogs who are not yet acclimated to their crates.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I tried positive. It didn't work

Why are people so quick to give up on positive, reward-based training methods but remain fully committed to using punishment -- even when it's clear that is not working?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lost and Found - Scam Artists, Pranksters, and Opportunists

People who lose their precious fur kids are often distraught; and understandably, will do anything to get their babies back. 
Scam artists and opportunists know this and will use this to their advantage. Sadly there are also pranksters.

Lost Pets

What steps should pet parents take when they discover that their companion is missing?

Why reactive dogs should stay on leash

Do you live with a dog who charges humans or other dogs other animals?  Whether this is due to fear, frustration or aggression, it's best to keep your pet on leash when you are not in a secured area.  Here are a few reasons why

Monday, August 19, 2013

Good Cops

In my last post, I wrote about things that pet parents can do to possibly protect their pets from shootings.
While pet guardians should always be prepared, we should not fear all first responders.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Protecting our pets from those who protect and serve

A friend was just lamenting to me about all the cop-on-dog shooting cases he had been reading about. He said that his house already has his address displayed in two highly visible areas, and he was considering a third (since some of the shootings involve mistaken addresses)

I started thinking about other ways that we can protect our pets from accidental shootings

Friday, August 16, 2013

Do We Look Like That?

One day when you have time, leave your pup at home and go to a park that usually has dog walkers. Observe people and their dogs. What do you see?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How Private is Your Privacy Fence

Does your dog go into a barking tirade when your neighbor opens his/her back door?  Do your dogs fence fight with neighbor dogs?
There are reward-based training techniques that can reduce this behavior but we have to start at point where our dog isn't reacting.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Whole Dog

I have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). In lay person's terms - basically, my jaw muscles are all messed up. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Old and little

I recently saw this blog post about a mechanical stair lift for dogs.  Although this looks dangerous, with some modifications, this would be a great tool for helping senior, small or overweight pets navigate stairs.

It got me to thinking about all the ways that pet parents can accommodate dogs who have trouble traversing their human-centered household.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Canine Epilepsy - Check Your Dog's Food Ingredients

Seizures can occur in dogs because of  many different reasons - like immune disease. Pet parents should also be aware that certain foods can cause or exacerbate seizure activity.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Maybe the dog just couldn't hold it any longer

Last year, I was sitting in a dog training class. One of my fellow human students told the instructor that her dog marks in the house. The response: "That's dominance. Use belly bands."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Humans With Separation Anxiety

A reader asked me about what anxious humans should do when they are worried about leaving their dogs.

I'm really glad I got this question.  It has made me rethink something I wrote in my last post

Many Pets Aren't Getting Enough Rest

According to the experts, dogs might need up to 17 hours of sleep every day.  Those who don't get enough rest might experience behavioral or medical issues.  So try not to worry about your pup when you leave him/her alone.  The time alone might be the down time that Rex or Fifi need to rejuvenate.

Did You Know That Your Dog is Crepuscular?

According to Pamela Reid's "Dog In Sight":
Dogs have evolved from predatory ancestors and so, by evolutionary design, are crepuscular (more active at dawn and dusk).  This is common in predators because prey species are more abundant-although more difficult to see- at dawn and dusk.

From Ian Dunbar's "Before and After Getting Your New Puppy"
Dogs are crepuscular and quite happy to sleep all day and all night.  ...they have two activity peaks, at dawn and dusk.

Monday, July 29, 2013

For Dogs Who Don't Want Us To Leave

Note: Separation Anxiety can be a serious condition that might require the skills of a behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist. If your dog panics when  you leave him or her alone, seek the advice of a competent professional now.

Below are a few things that have helped my dogs feel a little bit better about being left alone.  These tips might not work for every dog.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Old Dog Doesn't Like New Dog

Help. I just brought home a new puppy and my dog doesn’t like him

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lost and Found Stories - Carlos

I saw Carlos wondering around on my street. He appeared to be in good shape. Not injured, not scared.  I decided that he would probably make his way home so I left him alone.

Lost and Found Stories - Spot

"Spot" was an escape artist who lived at a large animal shelter.  He escaped from his foster home and walked back to the shelter.  Later he was adopted, and walked back to the shelter.  When he was adopted again, no one heard anything from the new parents so assumed all was well.  Then a week later, Spot showed up at the shelter. He was a bit thinner but mostly in good shape -- considering that his latest adoptive home was 17 miles from the shelter.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

He Followed Me Home. Can I Keep Him?

When can you claim a stray as your own?

I'll attempt to address this legally, then morally. Then I'll share a few stories

Monday, July 15, 2013

You've found a stray. What next?

Caution - any animal can bite. And strays have an unknown vaccination history. Exercise extreme caution. Get the help of a professional if needed.

I.  If you pick up the stray
A. If there are tags, contact the number on the tags

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The two handed, bent kneed people

The dogs and I have been going to some of the same parks for several years.  And we often notice other regular visitors
The joggers, the slow pokes like us, the cell phone users, the serial yankers, etc. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Grooming - Brushing

Caution. If any grooming attempt might result in a bite, seek the help of an experienced professional.

There are different reasons why some dogs don't enjoy having their coats groomed. After a thorough vet check

Monday, July 8, 2013

Alternative Therapies

Does your dog have separation anxiety? Noise phobia? Fear of normal objects, etc..?

For those pet parents who are reluctant to use conventional therapies, here is list of things to research and discuss with your pet's veterinarian.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Double Fence Movement

Stress; Lost and Found

July 5th is the worst day of the year for lost pets. If you pick up a stray, get the wayward animal scanned for a microchip at the nearest vet or shelter. If there is no chip or if the chip is not registered, start advertising the lost pet - flyers, craigslist, local paper ads, etc..

Hopefully the scariest part of the holiday is over.  But pets might be all wound up for the next few days. Keep things as calm as possible.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Don't bark with your mouth full

There are plenty of ways to curb barking.  Pet parents should first ascertain their why dogs are barking, then help the dogs feel better about whatever is bothering them.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Helping dogs who guard windows

We need to start working below threshold and set our dogs up  for success.

Tips for stress reduction

1.  All training should be fun and completely hands off.  No physical manipulation
2. Eliminate the use of all equipment  and/or techniques that startle, scare,shockhurt or intimidate our dogs

Reward what we like instead of punishing what we don't like

Do we reward “obnoxious” behavior instead of the behavior that we like?

Thursday, June 6, 2013


From Pamela Reid's Dog In Sight
..neutered males are more likely to squabble than  spayed females; however, when females fight they re mor likely to inflect injury. And there's some suggestion that females may be less likely to get along after a serious fight than males. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Continuing our discussion on pet medications..

Some nervous or noise phobic dogs are prescribed Acepromazine. Although this drug has it's place in veterinary medicine, as with all drugs (psychotropic or not), if a pet is not in an emergency situation, pet parents should do their own research in addition to discussions with their vet. Some info that I've found on this medication:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Sit quietly and wait for her to approach you. when she does, don't pet her,
toss a treat away from you behind her (as long as it doesn't scare her).
It's like a double treat. Relief from pressure and food.

Forcing dogs to meet strangers

When I was a little girl, I remember going to see my grandpa in a nearby
town. He would always want a hug and kiss. I liked my grandpa but he had
very rough razor stubble; and I found the ordeal quite painful - like
hugging a thorny rose bush.

Recognizing Stress

A few years ago, my shy dog, Murphy had to see a vet specialist about a
As the vet and I spoke at length, Murphy stopped pacing, sat down and
looked like he was about to fall asleep. It seemed odd to me. How could my
nervous dog sleep in this strange, scary place. Surely he wasn't
comfortable enough to dose off.
I know that yawning is a stress indicator in dogs, but sleeping??

Cortisol Vacation

First, I'd start with a cortisol vacation for at least one week.

Too late for socialization

Books like Ian Dunbar's "Before And After Getting Your New Puppy" and others stress the importance of socializing young puppies.  They tell pet parents how important it is for puppies to meet people of all different races, sizes, genders, people with hats, people with sunglasses etc.. That puppies should be introduced to new surfaces, new sounds and smells....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New family pet

Make sure pets are allowed - per your rental agreement or insurance contract.
If pets are allowed, be sure that the breed and size you have are allowed

1. Let the dog live indoors with the family.

2. Let the dog settle in before inviting friends over, taking the dog pet stores, etc.. If the dog is shy or not confident around strangers, keep him/her away from strangers for now

Monday, April 8, 2013


  •   shared from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Liz Palika Calcarea carbonica: This remedy originates from crushed and powdered oyster shells; the active ingredient is calcium carbonate. Puppies with pica (that is, they eat strange objects) benefit from this remedy.

    shared from Not Fit for a Dog!: The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Food by Michael W. Fox, Elizabeth Hodgkins, Marion E. Smart
    A deficiency in dietary phosphate can result in pica (eating dirt) or depraved appetite. This may be the reason for some dogs to engage in coprophagia (eating their own stools). Excess calcium in the diet can cause phosphate deficiency. Other dietary deficiencies, however, may also play a role in the genesis of coprophagia and pica. Pica is a common sign of iron-deficiency anemia in dogs.

    shared from Behavior Problems in Dogs by William E. Campbell
    Most pica cases hinge on an unsatisfactory relationship between dog and owner. There is usually an element of over- or underattentiveness on the part of the owner. Most cases involve nervous, inhibited dogs. It is also interesting that most cases involve puppies that were either orally oriented to begin with, or were made so through excessive oral stimulation (tug-o'-war, etc) during early life with the owners.
  •  shared from Behavior Problems in Dogs by William E. Campbell
    In all cases, the dog's diet and feeding regimen must be considered. Underfeeding or overfeeding may be an underlying cause of pica. Older dogs should be fed 2 times a day.

  •   shared from Behavior Problems in Dogs by William E. Campbell
    When a dog starts to swallow nonfood articles, owners often wonder if perhaps they have a neurotic pet. After all, why should a dog swallow rocks, pins, wrist watches, panty hose or toilet paper? The logical answer is that such behavior must make the pet feel better. That is, it probably relieves tension.

  • shared from The Whole Dog Journal's Guide to Optimum Dog Care: Good Eats by Whole Dog Journal
    Advocates of home-prepared diets often claim that a well-balanced raw diet eliminates or prevents pica, but occasionally the condition occurs even in well-fed dogs.

  •   shared from The Whole Dog Journal's Guide to Optimum Dog Care: Good Eats by Whole Dog Journal
    In one case, a female German Shepherd Dog had a history of licking wrought iron and eating Christmas tree lights and glass. Treating the patient with an improved diet supplemented with plant-derived colloidal minerals, digestive enzymes, and probiotic foods cured the pica within 21 days, and the dog had no additional seizures.

  •   shared from The Whole Dog Journal's Guide to Optimum Dog Care: Good Eats by Whole Dog Journal
    When pica is caused by a nutritional deficiency or imbalance, other symptoms accompany the condition. In the May 1996 Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Martin Schulman, VMD, reported that mineral deficiencies often contribute to the development of seizures.

  •   shared from The Whole Dog Journal's Guide to Optimum Dog Care: Good Eats by Whole Dog Journal
    In many cases, improving a dog’s diet and/or digestion has resulted in significant behavior changes. In addition to using positive reinforcement to encourage dogs to consume appropriate food items and leave other things alone, a few simple adjustments to the dog’s daily fare may solve the problem.

  •   shared from The Whole Dog Journal's Guide to Optimum Dog Care: Good Eats by Whole Dog Journal
    Most veterinarians consider pica and coprophagia behavioral problems having nothing to do with nutrition because their patients are fed a 100-percent nutritionally complete canned or packaged dog food.

  •   shared from The Whole Dog Journal's Guide to Optimum Dog Care: Good Eats by Whole Dog Journal
    Young puppies often chew on inappropriate items in an effort to ease the discomfort of teething; this is different. Adolescent and adult dogs who exhibit pica compulsively chew and consume inappropriate items,
    •   shared from Behavior Problems in Dogs by William E. Campbell
      In all cases, the dog's diet and feeding regimen must be considered. Underfeeding or overfeeding may be an underlying cause of pica. Older dogs should be fed 2 times a day.

    Collar and Harness Acclimation

    Note: I would advise to NOT make a dog drag around a leash if he does not like the leash yet.  Do this in stages instead.

    Finding a vet

    - Referrals – word of mouth, discussion lists, forums, etc..

    - Check certification agencies to be sure the vet you choose is certified

    - Read internet reviews – i.e. yelp, etc..

    - If the vet has a website or facebook page, check it out.  You might see something you like or don't like there and it might save you some interview time.

    - Read several books on diet, holistic care, etc.. Ask questions based on the books.  See if any responses align with how you feel you should be taking care of your pet. Speaking for Spot" by Nancy Kay is not a holistic book per say but might be a good read. I think it actually has questions you should ask your vet or potential vet.

    - If you are considering holistic care, consider what type of holistic medicine you like and read more books in that area and start narrowing down your search for candidates
      i.e. Chinese medicine, homeopathy, etc... 
     "For Pet's Sake, Do Something" has a good overview of different types of  holistic medicine. Dr Pitcairn's book has some good info on vitamins, herbs and homeopathy and other stuff.

    - Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, schedule interviews sans dog.

    - I think my first concern would be how open the vet is to allowing you to share in decision making.  i recently consulted with a new vet about my Puddin's itchies.  He wanted to do several things that I wasn't opposed to - I just saw no need to do them all at once (antibiotic, steroids, revolution, skin scrape, etc..). I said let’s start with a skin scrape. He said, "if you don't trust me completely, I can't help you."  Needless to say, we walked out.

    - Do some reading on vaccine protocols - Dr Shultz and Dr Dodds and the AVMS might be a good start. Decide how you'd like to vaccinate then ask the vet about it and see if his or her views somewhat align with yours.

    - Ask the vet if he or she is willing to work with a lab of your choosing.  I've gotten some hostile attitudes from a couple of vets when I mention Dr Dodd's lab.

    - Ask if the vet is willing to work with/consult with other vets.  Maybe you'd have a need for a vet behaviorist one day or a sports vet or something.

    - Ask about their low stress handling procedures. For more info, See Dr Yin’s website and DVDs

    - Ask about how they handle stressed dogs in general – i.e. can you go straight into a room instead of waiting in a crowded lobby. Can you wait outside and have them call you when it’s your turn? Etc..

    - Take note of how you are treated buy the receptionist and techs

    - Look at the layout of the lobby and exam rooms – see if they are conducive to bringing in a nervous dog

    Here is something I wrote after consulting with 4 different vets about Puddin's allergy issues. It's based on mistakes that I've made

    Consider what type of services you’d want.  Perhaps a clinic that also does boarding. If it’d needed one day, you have already “vetted” the place and it will be a place that is already familiar to your dog.

    If your dog is nervous about or aggressive towards other dogs, cats, children etc.. Ask if staff pets roam freely at the clinic. Ask if staff children come to work often. 

    In Dr Karen Overall's  Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats, 1e, read Part I: Understanding Behavior: Modern Paradigms to read about how pets and humans should be treated by staff and read about how vet offices should be laid out.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013


    • from The Holistic Dog Book: Canine Care for the 21st Century by Denise Flaim
      Crab Apple.  Animals with poor hygiene can benefit from this essence, which has a cleansing effect. It is also useful in helping stop obsessive grooming behaviors, or unwise dietary habits such as coprophagy (stool eating) and soil or rock eating.

    Monday, February 11, 2013


    After discussing with your vet, here are some things to consider

    Friday, February 8, 2013

    Where do we go from here? - Multi Dog Household

    So you've taught some basics like sit, stay, come, leave it, etc..
    What's next?