Archive for July, 2019

New Kid on the Block: Tips for introducing a dog into your family

Monday, July 29th, 2019

Whether you’re adopting a puppy or an adult dog, nothing is more exciting than bringing a new furry friend home! If you live with other dogs, remember that first introductions matter. How you introduce your new dog to your established pack can have a lasting effect on their relationship. These tips are designed to help integrate your new pup to the pack in a way that will reduce stress for everyone (human and canine alike).

Find Switzerland: Introduce Your Dogs on Neutral Ground

Before making introductions, bring home an item that smells like the newbie for your established dogs to sniff. Maybe it’s a toy, or a piece of clothing that your new dog has been in contact with. By smelling the new pup first, your current dogs can familiarize themselves with their smell and recognize it when they are all introduced! Arrange their first meeting at a neutral location. By meeting somewhere like a dog park or a Sniffspot, nobody will feel like their territory is being threatened, and their first interaction is more likely to go smoothly.

Leash all the dogs meeting each other, and walk them together with about 10 feet of spacing between. This helps to get them used to one another without the stress of a “forced” meeting. Once the walk is done, take the pups to an open area and let them sniff each other for a few moments leaving the leashes on and loose. Remain upbeat and positive through the whole introduction process. Lastly, reward them like crazy so they associate the new dog in their pack as a good thing. If you see any type of aggressive or fearful reactions, separate them and get each dog to focus on the person they are with. You can try another introduction later and be sure to always end on a positive note!

There’s No Place Like Home

Once the dogs have met on neutral turf, it’s time to bring your new pooch home! This can be a pretty scary experience, so to help make things easier on him, bring him home to an empty house (get a friend to watch your other dogs for an hour or so). Also, put away any food, toys, and bedding that belongs to your other dogs. If you have adopted a puppy, be sure to puppy proof your home!  Bring Fido in on a leash, and spend some time walking him around the house and yard so he can get familiar with his new home.

After some time, you can let him off leash to freely explore but keep an eye on him at to make sure he’s not getting into anything he shouldn’t. That’s directed at you, Labradors! After he’s finished the tour, bring your other dogs home and re-introduce them out in the yard first. Even if they’re getting along, keep food and toys separate for the first several days as mingling these items can trigger territorial aggression.

Make sure your new pup isn’t feeling overwhelmed by giving him alone time from your other pets. This could mean time in another room, a crate, or on a solo walk with you. Also be sure to monitor each dog’s body language for the first week to make sure everyone is having a positive time and not displaying aggression or fear. If things between your pack are tense at first, no need to panic! Experts say that it can take up to a month to work out the kinks of their new relationship. If you do notice any signs of aggressive behavior, keep periods of interaction brief. Halt any escalations with a firm, consistent command and then separate them for a short period. When they behave well together praise them equally.  You can also bring in the help of a dog trainer to aid in the transition. With time, training, and praise, your new and established dogs will create a new pack hierarchy, and have their own very special bond!

Dog Behavior: The good ,the bad and the weird

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Even though dogs are our best friends, it’s time to recognize something. They are total weirdos. Dogs are infamous for some very strange behavior like sniffing butts, humping legs, chasing their tails, and eating poop. There’s no doubt that you’ll recognize some of the wacky traits listed below, so let’s figure out the logic behind some of our best friend’s more quirky dog behaviors.

Butt Sniffing

“Hello? Anyone home?”

Butt sniffing may seem crazy to us, but it’s a source of *very* valuable information for your pup. Unlike humans, a dogs’ primary sense is smell. Their little snouts are about 100,000 stronger than our human noses. They can even smell from each nostril separately! Think of butt sniffing as dogs exchanging business cards with each other; their anal glands excrete scents that hold key information that is instantly translated through scent. Just by a brief butt sniffing session, your dog can find out their new friends’ gender, health and reproductive status, temperament, and what foods they eat regularly.  So rather than be grossed out the next time you see your dog and another dog greet each other with some butt sniffing, be amazed at how much they’re learning about each other!

Dining on Doo Doo

Oh, the shame!

Poop eating is truly the most bizarre and yuck inducing behaviors a dog can exhibit. The worst part is that after they’ve indulged, they usually want to lick your face – ugh! Thanks, but no thanks! What on earth would compel your cute, beloved, snuggly friend to eat poop? The scientific name for this disgusting phenomenon is coprophagia. A recent study by veterinarian Benjamin Hart at the University of California discovered that 16% of dogs are habitual poop eaters, and 24% of dogs are rare to occasional poop eaters. Poop eating is normal in puppyhood, but if the behavior is not addressed it may carry on throughout a dog’s entire life. There are health issues that could prompt a dog to eat feces such as poor digestion and plain old hunger. If a dog has poor digestion, the food may come out in a very similar way to how it went in, prompting a dog to have dinner, version 2.0. Parasites can also take nutrients from their food, so Fido may opt to eat anything he can get his paws on to feel full. If you suspect your dog is eating poop due to a health condition, contact your vet right away.

Tail Chasing

I’m gonna get you…someday!

Tails are just plain entertaining for humans and dogs alike! For a playful pup, seeing a fluffy tail (even one that’s on his own body) may just be too fun to resist. Often chased, though seldom caught, tail chasing is usually just a dog burning off excess playful energy.  It’s like your dog is twiddling his thumbs! Tail chasing can be a genetic predisposition in breeds such as German Shepherds, Bull Terriers, and Dobermans. Just like us humans, dogs can develop obsessive compulsive disorders. One common display of OCD is wait for it, compulsive tail chasing. If you notice that your dog seems fixated on chasing his tail rather than playful, seek help from a canine behaviorist. They can use behavior modification training and anti-depressants (if necessary!) to help stop compulsions.

Humping

Get a room!

Is your dog being physically amorous with other dogs at the park? How about with inanimate objects, or worse…your leg? What exactly is causing this blush inducing behavior? If you have a humper at home, know that you’re in good company. It’s a common issue, and one that may not need to be addressed. First, it’s important to understand that both male and female dogs hump. Spayed and neutered dogs may hump as well, and though dogs under the age of one are more frequent humpers, many dogs don’t age out of this behavior. The first reason for humping is a sexual impulse. Whether it’s another dog, your leg, or a pillow, dogs will hump any dang thing for sexual gratification. Dogs of both sexes (especially those whom have not been fixed) can begin humping when they start reaching sexual maturity. Female dogs in heat are will hump another dog of either gender to signal mating. It’s vital to spay and neuter your pet to not only cut down on the humping tendencies but prevent successful mating. Usually dogs aren’t emulating mating behavior when they hump. The ol’ bump and grind can be caused by nonsexual arousal (caused by stress or boredom), and play is another reason that dogs hump each other, which should be totally acceptable if both dogs are fine with it. You should intervene if one of the dogs looks annoyed or is being overpowered by the humper. Social dominance is another reason that dogs hump each other. It’s a vital part of establishing the pecking order within a pack, and to test the submissiveness of another dog. If your dog compulsively humps, a canine behaviorist can help find the cause and help calm your little Romeo down.

July 4th: Pet Safety Tips

Monday, July 1st, 2019

The Fourth of July is the highlight of summer for many of us. Your dog, however, may not be so enthusiastic about the holiday. Keep reading for some handy pet safety tips!

For many pets, fireworks are terrifying and for good reason! They’re loud and unpredictable. While us humans are having a great time celebrating, our pets only hear explosions and feel scary vibrations. It makes perfect sense that their fight or flight instinct would kick in. Thankfully, there are ways to comfort your dog on the loudest day of the year while keeping them safe.

Fido’s First 4th

Is this your first Fourth of July with a new four-legged family member? Even if you have a confident, social, happy dog, they may be sensitive to fireworks, so it’s best to spend your first holiday together so you can gauge your pup’s response. Being in a familiar, comfortable (and secure!) place will help calm them down if they become scared of the noises. If you notice that your dog isn’t bothered by fireworks, you may be able to celebrate at places other than your home next year.

Stay Home, Stay Safe

If you know your dog is afraid of fireworks, the biggest danger you face is Fido running away from home. 30% of all lost pets go missing on July 4th. If your pup gets spooked, their first instinct is to flee. Thousands of dogs run away every year, so make sure your home is secure; double check your fence line for holes/gaps and close all gates securely. Ensure your dog is wearing an ID tag and is microchipped (with current info!).  If your dog does escape, don’t panic! Start searching for your pup in your neighborhoo and alert your neighbors (social media can be very helpful). Animal shelters are on high alert around the week of the 4th, so be prepared to call local shelters in case your pet has been picked up by a Good Samaritan.

“I’m Freaking Out, Man!”

If your dog shows intense fear around fireworks, don’t leave them unsupervised. Ever. They’re depending on you to keep them safe and will feel so much more comforted by your presence. Give your dog lots of pets, treats and reassurance. You can distract your dog with games, puzzle toys or their favorite bone. One of our favorite options is the Thundershirt; it’s the dog equivalent of swaddling a baby. It has an 80% success rate and the lightweight vest applies mild pressure to help ease anxiety. CBD treats, pheromones, and melatonin can also be helpful anxiety supplements, but try them beforehand to determine which works best. If your pet enjoys his crate, that enclosed space may make him feel especially safe. You can even leave your own blanket or shirt in the crate for added comfort. Turn on the television or play music before the fireworks start to help drown out the noise before they really get going. If all else fails or if you just know nothing else will help, contact your vet who can prescribe a sedating medication to help make the Fourth of July more manageable. Woof!


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