Archive for the ‘Dog’ Tag

Walking with the Woofs – My Story   Leave a comment

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to help people achieve relaxed, enjoyable walks with their dogs, using my years of experience walking German Shepherds and Jack Russell Terriers.

It starts with a good place to walk, preferably off lead, although it can still be a great experience on lead.  Off lead is where most guardians come unstuck, but if you can get it right, the pleasure of walking with your fast moving, free dogs is immense!

So here’s what happens with my dogs:

We go regularly to the park – a wonderful, huge space ringed by the Hottentots Holland Mountains, with sports fields and open grassed areas.  A river chortles along one side, at this time of the year it is boiling and tumbling rather than chortling after all the rain.  There are lots of trees along the river so it’s a pleasure even in summer.   Many locals run and cycle there, and of course it’s a dog walker’s paradise.  There are busy times of the day when you can pass more than 50 people and their dogs, depending on which way you go. 

Sometimes we go to the beach at Strand.  Here it can be more challenging for my big, energetic girls (GSDs) who cover so much ground quickly as the space is narrower with fewer options for changing direction and avoiding a possible problem.  I am so proud of them when they meet and greet and politely choose not to respond to silly little yappers, or jumpy youngsters.  They keep an eye on me and all I need to do is keep moving and maybe quietly call them away to have them break away and come after me.  Shepherd bitches are not known for their patience so I am aware of their tolerance limits.  Uschi usually chooses to not engage, but if she does she’s polite and disinterested.  If she’s carrying a toy she’ll warn with a growl but never anything more.  She’s a balanced dog with a happy temperament.   Her daughter Minka is more reactive and much more interested in interacting with other dogs, but not keen on playing anymore.  If a game starts I have to watch her that she doesn’t switch from ‘play’ to ‘prey’.  Rather bossy, in typical insecure child fashion.

We’ve had 3 Jack Russells over the years and it’s been just as much fun with them, despite their terrier tendencies to prefer going down a mole hill to keeping up with me!  Sometimes it was my 2 GSDS, Pepsi our JR and my dad’s JR Minchie too – 4 bitches all walking very happily together.  Sadly we had to put Pepsi (see photo in  post Reflections 27/12/11) and Minchie to sleep in May so now it’s just the big girls.

I’ll unpack my tips on achieving a happy walk in the next post.

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The Top 10 Reasons to Immediately Go to the Vet   Leave a comment

It is inevitable that some day a dog owner will worry about their cherished pet knowing without a doubt something is wrong but is not certain if it constitutes a definite emergency. How does one know when a problem is life threatening and requires immediate veterinary attention? Here is a compilation of the most common definite emergencies seen in the veterinary ER.

1. Trauma
If your dog has sustained some form of trauma such as a fall, gunshot wound, getting hit by a car or is involved in a dog fight then immediate veterinary attention is needed. Even if your dog appears fine initially a check-up with your vet is still necessary because sometimes injuries sustained from a traumatic event such as a ruptured lung, diaphragmatic hernia or internal bleeding will not manifest symptoms immediately. Wounds such as lacerations and bite wounds may be deeper than they appear and complications such as infection can result from delaying veterinary attention. Sometimes the traumatic event is not witnessed by the owner, if you find your dog limping, seemingly in pain or is just not acting right then it would be best to have her checked out.

2. Difficulty Breathing
Dyspnea is also known as difficulty breathing and can manifest as wheezing, choking, weak and raspy breathing or respiratory arrest. This can be caused by a foreign body in the throat, allergic reaction, heart disease or pulmonary disease. If there is a foreign body present it is important not to try and extract it yourself – doing so may lodge the object even deeper, completely obstructing the airway. Breathing problems almost always indicate major medical problems so do not wait to take immediate action.

3. Neurological Conditions
Neurological problems can manifest in your dog as disorientation, incoordination, severe lethargy, unresponsiveness, and coma. A normal healthy dog is bright, alert and responsive; any pronounced change in your dog’s mental status requires immediate veterinary attention. Lethargy and weakness can be seen with any serious illness and should never be ignored. Sometimes neurological disorders do not affect mentation (for instance loss of use of the hind limbs can sometimes be cause by a ruptured intervertebral disc). Again these are serious disorders that need prompt veterinary attention to achieve the most favorable outcome.

4. Seizures
Seizures are also considered a neurological condition but are so common in dogs it deserves its own category. Any dog that has never experienced a seizure before needs to be seen immediately. Signs associated with a seizure include uncontrollable shaking and tremors, loss of consciousness, paddling with the legs and possible loss of bowel or urinary control. The most common cause of seizures in dogs is epilepsy. If your dog is diagnosed as epileptic not every seizure will constitute an emergency. If your dog has multiple seizures within a 24-hour period or if a seizure lasts longer than a couple minutes then your epileptic dog may need immediate veterinary attention. Talk to your veterinarian more about how to manage epilepsy and what to watch for. Other causes of seizures include hypoglycemia in puppies, insulinoma in older dogs and toxicities in dogs of all ages. Read more on seizures here.

5. Suspected or Known Toxic Exposure
You found a chewed up rat bait while running some laundry down to the basement or you notice the bag of fertilizer in the garden shed has been ripped open. If you suspect your dog has gotten into something potentially toxic call the ASPCA animal poison control at (888) 426-4435 for immediate advice on what to do. A veterinary toxicologist may advise you to induce vomiting, seek immediate veterinary attention or simply monitor at home if the substance ingested turns out to be innocuous. Keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the house at all times in case you are ever asked to induce vomiting. Please refer to our list of the top 10 common household toxins that could harm your dog for more information.

6. Vomiting and Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea are common problems in dogs and while they can be signs of a serious problem the majority of cases are simple gastric upset that typically resolves within 24 hours. If your dog is otherwise acting fine then rest the stomach by withholding food for 4 to 6 hours and make sure your dog has access to plenty of water so they can stay hydrated. If she develops additional clinical signs such as lethargy, weakness or seems to be in pain then immediate veterinary attention is indicated. Also if vomiting or diarrhea persists more than 24 hours OR you notice blood in the vomitus or the diarrheas then go see your vet immediately. If your dog has a chronic medical problem such as diabetes and starts vomiting then it is not recommended to wait 24 hours and to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

7. Distended Abdomen or Abdominal Pain
If you notice your dog’s abdomen is distended and she seems to be in pain and/or uncomfortable then a serious medical problem necessitating immediate veterinary care is likely. Abdominal distension may be accompanied by dry heaves, retching, weakness, collapse and difficulty breathing. Abdominal distension can be caused by air trapped in the stomach which can cause the stomach to twist over on itself. This condition is known as gastric dilatation-volvulus—or commonly “bloat” – and usually occurs in large breed dogs. This is life threatening if not treated and the sooner you go to the vet the better your dog’s odds for a positive outcome will be. Other reasons for abdominal distension can be fluid distension (ascites) from heart disease and hemoabdomen from internal bleeding such as a ruptured spleen.

8. Ocular Problems
Eye problems in dogs have a nasty tendency to deteriorate faster than problems in other areas. These problems can quickly escalate into loss of the eye and blindness if not treated especially glaucoma. Signs of ocular disease include redness of the eye, discharge, excessive tearing swelling, squinting and constant pawing at the eye. Even if it is just a foreign body in the eye or a superficial scratch on the cornea prompt veterinary treatment can prevent a minor problem from becoming a serious one.

9. Urinary Problems
If you notice your dog is not producing any urine then go see your veterinarian as soon as possible. While much more common in cats than dogs, urinary blockages do occur and are life threatening. If you notice difficulty urinating or blood in the urine then see your veterinarian as soon as possible because it may indicate a urinary infection or urinary stones that can escalate to blockage if not treated.

10. Whelping Emergencies
If your dog goes into labor and you notice that more than four hours pass without any puppies, strains for more than 30 minutes without results or more than two hours elapse between puppies then she may be experiencing dystocia. Call your veterinarian immediately for advice.

11.  Tick Fever/biliary/bosluiskoors

I’m adding this one as it’s not on the above list from the USA.  In SA we have a huge problem with tick related diseases for humans and dogs.  If your dog is at all listless and off his food for more than one meal, please have him checked out.  Biliary is a tick born disease that kills off red blood cells which can be fatal.  It is very common!

 

This list is by no means all inclusive of definite emergencies but is a compilation of the more common emergencies seen. If there is something going on with your dog and you are not sure if it is an emergency or not, be aware that help is just a phone call away. Always have the number of your regular veterinarian. As a dog owner you know your dog best – if you suspect something is wrong do not hesitate to call. This one act can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Never feel embarrassed about calling or being a worrywart because it is better to be safe than sorry.

 

Posted 10/08/2012 by Rose's Puppy School in Pet Health

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Graduation   Leave a comment

Graduation

Merlot – a super duper puppy with great owners! You see, even Jack Russells can learn to be calm – just!

Fear of Fireworks   Leave a comment

By Niki Elliott – ThinkingPets.com
Unfortunately this is the time of year when fireworks are being set off in all our neighbourhoods, and every year the noise level of these fireworks increases. It is like living in the middle of a war zone in some areas. Many dogs and cats are developing bad reactions to fireworks as well as gunshots and other loud noises. A little fear or anxiety in response to loud noises is normal for animals as well as people but when these fearful responses are out of proportion to the real threat, the animals revert back to survival mode and this is where it becomes a problem.
It is vitally important to try and prepare your pets to help them get through the night of terror with the least amount of stress.
Make a safe place for your pet to go into. You will probably have noticed that your pet goes into the shower, under a bed or even into the garage when he is anxious or feels threatened. Make this place more comfortable, maybe even darker. Put his most favourite bed in there and encourage him to go and settle there, even when there is no noise going on. Put some of his favourite toys in there and some really tasty chewies. Get your pet to go in there and enjoy the chewies when he is not afraid. That way he will “like” his shelter and associate it with good things and will want to go there when times get tough.
Often the problem is made worse because your pet doesn’t know where to go to escape. These are the animals who end up just running wildly on the street or forcing themselves through security gates in an attempt to get away from the noise. You need somewhere for them to hide. Choose a room that is naturally quiet in the centre of the house and has no windows. Prepare this place well in advance. If your dog tends to try and dig or burrow to get away from the noise then put lots of blankets down for him. Put a piece of your clothing with your smell on down for him as well. Your scent will be a familiar smell and will comfort your pet. One person I know has built a bomb shelter in their garden for their dog to go into!
Put a DAP for dogs and Feliway for cats diffuser, obtainable from your Vet, in the cat or dog’s hiding place or get the DAP/Feliway Calming Collar to put on your pet or use the DAP/Feliway spray in the area. If you are using the diffuser, it should be left operating 24 hours a day, do not switch it on and off trying to save electricity – this just uses up more of the liquid in a shorter space of time. Install the diffuser a few weeks before the firework event and until 2 weeks after. There are always fireworks going off for a few days before and after the actual date. DAP/Feliway is a pheromone that helps pets feel much more relaxed and confidant when they might otherwise be stressed. Close the windows, draw the curtains and put on some music. Music with a good beat is best. This will minimise the amount of noise coming into the room from outside. You don’t want your pet to see the flashes of the fireworks as they explode.
You can leave some food and water for your pet as well as some chewies and familiar high value toys. This will help reduce the tension and make him feel better, but some animals are so fearful that they are physically unable to eat once the noise starts. Their bodies had flipped over into survival mode and the main organs have shut down allowing the body to prepare for flight. It is a good idea to make sure that your pet has emptied his bladder an hour before the noise starts. The place you and your pet decide is the best place must be accessible to your pet at all times. It is vital to make sure that doors are leading into and out area are not likely to shut and trap your pet inside or out of the room. On the day of the fireworks give your dog a large stodgy carbohydrate rich meal in the late afternoon. Pasta, mashed potato or overcooked rice is ideal, and will help to make him feel calm and sleepy as the night draws in.
If your vet has given you medication to reduce your pet’s fears make sure that you follow the prescription precisely. Also start with the medication long before the noise starts, otherwise it is too late and often won’t make any difference at all.
As soon as the fireworks start take your pet to his hiding place and encourage him to stay there. Don’t get cross with him when he is scared, it will only make him more frightened. Also don’t mollycoddle your pet. This will make him think there is something to be afraid of. Ignore his fearful behaviour and play games with him using treats as a reward. We want him to associate fireworks with a great game and some tasty treats.
You can also get some ear plugs to block out some of the noise. Just make sure they fit properly, you don’t want to hurt your pet’s ears when you push them in, nor do you want to push them in too far. Just far enough for them to block the ear canal and yet accessible for you to remove once the fireworks are over.
You will need to get some professional help to sort out your pet’s noise problem. Do this before New Year which will be the next time we will probably experience fireworks. Many animals can be treated using behavioural methods called desensitisation and counter conditioning. Specially made recordings of fireworks can be used to train animals not to react to the noises they fear and a CD called Sounds Scary from Kyron can be obtained from your Vet.
TTouch, which is a method of working with fearful animals, can be used to help your pet overcome its fear of fireworks. TTouch builds confidence and a confident animal is not a fearful animal. TTouch combines bodywork, which is certain touches with ground work exercises. These exercises boost the animal’s confidence. There is also a Thundershirt that can be used to help calm your pet. If you don’t have one of these you can use a dog coat or T-shirt. Secure it around the belly with a piece of elastic or make a knot on the back with a scrunchie. This can have a calming effect on your pet like a swaddling blanket on a baby. Doing some of touches on your pet’s ears will also help to calm your pet and most dogs really love it. If you decide to do touch work on your pet, don’t wait until the
fireworks start! You’ll be much more successful if you do the work before to relieve tensions in the body and boost your pet’s confidence. Then when the fireworks start, he’ll be less likely to react. By working with your pet before the firework “season” it will already be established as something good and not necessarily associated with the fireworks. There are names of all the TTouch Practitioners in
different area of the country on the TTouch website http://www.ttouchsa.co.za if you want some help with learning the touches.
Groundwork through a Confidence course helps to bring more awareness to the body of your pet. This is usually done for dogs but you can do some of the exercises with a cat. Simple exercises at a slow pace, allow the animal to feel its body in perfect balance. Set up a simple maze in your garden and lead your pet through it slowly. Put down some poles and see how well your pet picks up its
feet over them. Use dome boards on tyres for your pet to walk over. The more successful he is the better he will feel about himself and when the noise starts it won’t bother him as much.
Never punish an animal that is fearful of loud noises, this will only make the situation worse as he will associate the punishment with the noise and fear the noise even more. Also don’t flood your animal with loud noises, trying to show him there is nothing to be afraid of. This will make him even more fearful. If you have the Sound Scary CD only play it softly as back ground noise. You should
barely be able to hear it. Your pet’s hearing is so much better than yours.

Training Tip: Will I have to use treats forever?   Leave a comment

Training Tip – from ThinkingPets Sept Newsletter. See whole newsletter @ ThinkingPets.com.

We get a lot of questions from concerned owners about food rewards and where it ends. “Will I always have to carry around a treat to get my dog to do what he’s told?” No you won’t. Food rewards help you initially teach your dog the behaviour that you want, such as ‘sit’ or ‘down’. After your dog knows the command off by heart, you can start to fade out the food rewards.

  • The key is to do it gradually. Start by asking your dog for a behaviour such as sit without any food in your hand. When he complies, reward him with multiple treats.
  • Once your dog can do that reliably, start asking for two behaviours before giving a reward. So ask the dog to sit and then down, for example, before giving the treat. Later you can ask for three or four behaviours in a row.
  • In the beginning, reward your dog 9 out of every times with a treat. The rest of the time you can simply use a click or say ‘good boy’. Once that is going well, start rewarding every 8 times out of 10 and so on.
  • Do make sure that you don’t accidentally always reward the ‘sit’ and not the ‘down’ with food, for example, when varying rewards.
  • Random reinforcement works very well; for the dog it’s like gambling. He will do his best every time, just in case this is the time he’ll get that cookie!
  • Never totally stop rewarding your dog. But you can work with your dog so that sometimes when you are without a treat, a good cuddle or ‘good dog’ will do just as well.
And now from me:
When you use reward based training, you have to find a reward that your dogs really wants/likes, not just one that you think he “should” like.  So do a bit of research trying out foods – for some dogs bits of apple can be as rewarding as biltong.  Ideally the food should keep well when out of the fridge if you’re not using it immediately.  There should also be a heirachy of treats – the less interesting ones for easy stuff, esp perhaps at home where there are few distractions, and exciting yummies for the park/training class.
I use a mixture of treats for my classes: Eukanuba puppy biscuits break easily and are well liked by the pups, plus thin slices of viennas dried in the oven, chopped up droe wors, cat pellets, dry liver biscuits.  All these keep well in an airtight container between sessions.
Just had a wonderful weekend at Langebaan where we had fun walking our friend’s dog on the beach – her friendly play invitations to the other dogs around weren’t always well received but she found a few pals to charge around with, such a pleasure to watch!  It’s what I encourage my clients to aim for – a well socialised animal, but obedient to it’s humans so it can go out and about and be a pleasure to have around.

A Normal Dog?   Leave a comment

This is so true, we hear it all the time, and our animal welfare kennels are evidence of the misunderstandings that abound between dog and human.  If you’re reading this, you’re already stepping into the category of  ‘abnormal’ owner, so well done!:-)

A NORMAL DOG??

By Tracy Nonomalcao (USA)

Recently, a colleague and friend posted a picture on Facebook accompanied by a caption saying something to the effect of “does anyone have ‘normal’ dogs?” indicating that her dogs had a variety of issues which she was dedicated to working with – separation anxiety, noise sensitivity, fear aggression, etc.  “All I ever wanted was a normal dog!”

I frequently hear this in my practice and am forced to ask, “Really?  You really think you want a ‘normal’ dog?!”

What exactly is a ‘normal’ dog?  Here are some characteristics of normal dogs:

  • normal dogs bite
  • normal dogs have no standards as to appropriate elimination sites with the exception of “where I sleep is out of bounds”
  • normal dogs do not come when called if something more interesting is going on
  • normal dogs default to responding to new stimuli in their environment fearfully.  Fear is a survival adaptation and keeps a dog safe.
  • normal dogs chew, dissect, and destroy things
  • normal dogs resource guard
  • normal dogs bark and growl
  • normal dogs dig holes
  • normal dogs hump legs
  • normal dogs vocalize when left alone
  • normal dogs chase squirrels, deer, and cats
  • normal dogs kill small animals
  • normal dogs pull on the leash
  • normal dogs often like to run around as fast as they can, even if they knock over small children or grandma in the process
  • normal dogs lift their legs and pee on trees, even when we bring those trees into our houses and put lights and ornaments all over them
  • normal dogs like to sniff EVERYTHING – crotches (human and canine), fire hydrants, trees, bushes, gopher holes
  • normal dogs eat poop
  • normal dogs tear up the garbage, counter surf, and eat expensive panties or heels
  • normal dogs roll in poop and dead things
  • normal dogs do not like every dog they meet
  • normal dogs do not want to be hugged, kissed, touched, or stared at by every person they meet in every situation
  • normal dogs don’t like having their nails trimmed, mats removed from their coat, or grooming
  • normal dogs don’t naturally love being crated
  • normal dogs don’t naturally love wearing sweaters, being carried in purses or strollers, or wearing booties

Looking at all these things that normal dogs do, how many of you want one?  All of these things are NORMAL DOG BEHAVIOURS. 

If humans did not intervene, these are the things that dogs would do naturally.  I’d argue that very, very few humans would even know what to do with a truly “normal” dog if they came across one.  Normal dogs do not make good pets.

What we want in a pet dog is abnormal behaviour.  We want a creature which has evolved for millennia as a hunter to act like prey doesn’t matter.  We want dogs to learn to go potty outside the house, even when we bring doggy bathrooms (trees) into our homes as holiday decorations.

We want dogs to like every dog and person they meet.  We want dogs to be silent animals.  We want dogs to walk politely on a loose leash, even though our walking pace is comparatively very slow.  (Have you ever been caught behind someone who moves slowly when you’re in a hurry, either walking or driving?  Frustrating!)

We want dogs to never bite, no matter what, even when they are harassed, abused, and neglected.

What we want from dogs are behaviours which are ethologically incompatible with their evolution as a species.  We like dogs, but not their “dogginess.”  Normal dogs end up in shelters for just this reason.  Abnormal dogs get to stay in their homes. Part of the problem is also in what is defined as “normal dog owner” behaviour.

“Normal” dog owners:

  • don’t take their dog to class
  • don’t go out of their way to socialize the dog extensively and appropriately during puppyhood
  • place their dog’s physical and mental stimulation needs somewhere around #894 on their list of priorities
  • don’t manage their dogs to prevent rehearsal of bad behaviour
  • focus on what their dog is doing “wrong” and ignoring the dog when he does the “right” things
  • don’t train their dogs and then blame the dog for misbehaving
  • expect dogs know the difference between “right” and “wrong” naturally
  • look for a quick fix to behaviour problems
  • choose to confine the dog to the back yard, turn him into a shelter, or have him euthanized before consulting with a behaviour professional to address the problem

Normal dog owners get normal dog behaviours.  Abnormal dog owners are proactive about preventing behaviour problems and address any new problems as soon as they are noticed.  If they don’t know what to do about a problem, they research to find a good trainer who uses dog-friendly training methods.  They exercise and train their dogs, even if they are busy.  They make spending time with the dog and helping him thrive, a priority.

While no dog is perfect, realizing that virtually everything we expect of dogs is unnatural for them highlights the need for training.  Part of what makes dogs so wonderful is the fact that they are generally more than happy to exchange behaviours which are rooted in hundreds of thousands of years of instinct for an owner that will spend a few minutes a day training them to offer alternative, incompatible, and socially desirable behaviours.

Dogs don’t come “perfect,” whether they are brought into the home as puppies or as adult dogs they need training.  Well-behaved dogs rarely happen by chance, they are usually well-trained dogs.  “Bad” behaviour in dogs is not bad behaviour to dogs, it is simply normal behaviour.  I think that society does dogs a disservice with the assumption that “good behaviours” are the norm and “bad behaviours” are aberrant.  It is the dogs that pay for this misunderstanding, often with their lives.  It’s like something out of the Twilight Zone.

Posted 24/08/2011 by Rose's Puppy School in Dog Behaviour

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“In Defence of Dogs”   Leave a comment

I haven’t got very much further with the Monks of Skete book, partly because I began to feel uneasy with it when paging through the photos – they clearly still use quite a lot of force in their training methods.  I’ll keep at it and comment here when I’m done.  In the meantime I’ve had this info sent to me on a newish book that seems to align more with my ethos on dogs and training:  In Defence of Dogs by Prof John Bradshaw.  I’ve ordered it at work, so will share more when I’ve read it.  It’s exciting to see more and more literature coming out that reflects more of the understanding we’ve gained over the past few years that moves us away from using force and punishment in training.

Tonight was the last class for the Tuesday group.  I really enjoy seeing how each pup has developed over the 5 weeks, and how their relationship with their guardian has improved.  At the end of an exquisitely beautiful day (supposedly winter!), after a yummy lunch at Black Marlin near Simonstown, it was good to see ‘my’ pups and their humans enjoying their time in class.

Why dog trainers will have to change their ways

Professor John Bradshaw is leading a revolution in the study of canine behaviour. ‘Dogs don’t want to control people, they want to control their own lives,’ he says.

***

The first idea to bite the dust is so huge and entrenched that some owners will struggle to adjust. We have had it drummed into us by trainers such as Cesar Millan that because dogs are descended from wolves (their DNA is almost identical), they behave like wolves and can be understood as “pack” animals. The received thinking has been that dogs seek to “dominate” and that our task is to assert ourselves as pack leaders – alpha males and females – and not allow dogs to get the upper paw.

Read the whole story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jul/17/dog-training-john-bradshaw-animal-behaviour

Posted 09/08/2011 by Rose's Puppy School in Book Reviews

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