Friday, September 6, 2013

Doggy Fun Facts

Being the documentary buff and dog lover that I am, I'm just fascinated with dogs. Their behavior, their understanding, their quirks and yes, even that milky puppy breath that I wish you could bottle. Below, I'll share some interesting facts that may change the way you think about your best friend. Despite the fact that I've raised many dogs in my life, a few of these fun facts were even new to me!

Is your dog just naughty? Does he have terrible manners? No. Your dog isn't naughty, he's just adopted the role of being the leader of the family. Why? Easy. Because you let him be. Think about it. Does he grab food out of your hand? Does he pull the leash when you walk him? Does he jump up and knock people down? If yes, it's because you haven't corrected him. And before you say, "I DO correct him, I yell at him and shove him down when he jumps on me."  Well, that won't work because the dog actually perceives that as play. Control is the number one way to correct/train your dog. YOU are always in control and YOU are the dog's leader. Not the other way around. You can spoil that dog until the cows come home, but it must be on YOUR terms, not when your dog demands attention (jumping, stealing food, etc.)  Once you have a firm understanding of that, it'll change the way you interact with your dog. Says the person who would sleep on the floor rather than move her dog off the bed.

Looking for some sort of "punishing" consequence for your pup? It's so easy, you'll be amazed. You ready for this? Take a few links of a chain or a few bent nails and place them inside a nylon pouch (or anything indestructible that he can't chew through) and when your dog is chewing, barking excessively, or any other undesirable behavior, toss the bag with the nails/chain link onto the floor beside him. My 80 lb dog is terrified of it. I've never hurt him or hit him with it, but I was told that the chain's clinking sound mimics the sound of a small dog's teeth and it scares the dog and causes him to stop in his tracks. I'm telling you, it works like a charm. If our puppy steals something and won't give it back (you know how fun it is to chase a puppy...not) all I have to do is jingle the "puppy pillow" and he immediately drops said contra ban. Genius!

Oldest myth in the book. Puppy has accident on floor. Owner gets mad and rubs his face in it. Nope. That doesn't work. All the puppy knows is that you're mad at him for some reason and now his face is being rubbed into his own mess. Dogs don't have the logical thought processing that a person has. Not to say a dog can't understand cause and effect, but it's a pretty far stretch to get from
"pee outside" to "smashing his face into a puddle."  More than anything, I understand frustration with a strong willed dog who simply won't housebreak. It's hard to keep your patience and anger in check. But, remember they're looking to you for guidance on how this whole housebreaking thing goes. Dogs don't come housebroken and they aren't cats who innately know how to use a litter box. They must be shown where to go. With all of this said, there is still a percentage of dogs that cannot be housebroken, despite all of your efforts. So often, owners will have no choice but to re-home their dog as to avoid ruining their home. If this is the case, there is help!! Check out www.thehousebreaker.com and read how you can COMPLETELY housebreak your dog in a matter of days. It's 100% guaranteed and I personally know of countless, countless dogs who went from hopeless to housebroken!

Happy Tails!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Calling All Dog Lovers

Not all dog lovers are able to freely love dogs in the comfort of their own homes. Often landlords, leases, allergies and finances won't allow the true gift of dog ownership. But, luckily that shouldn't keep you away from (wo)man's best friend!

Find a local animal shelter or Humane Society and ask how to get involved. Not only would you be doing a great service to a non-profit organization, but the animals are so appreciative of your time and affection. The fullness in your heart that you'll feel after volunteering your time will be worth the time.

Offer to be a buddy to a neighbor or friend's dog. The situation is an easy win/win. Your friend can rely on you to walk his pup while he's away and you get your dog fix. Plus, spending time with a dog is just plain good for the soul!

Looking for part time work? Find a veterinarian's office, a pet store, a kennel or a grooming facility and see if they're hiring. Although you need formal training to medically care for dogs, many of these businesses just need  a dog loving person to walk, bathe, feed and play with the animals. I visited a big-name pet supply store recently and noticed that they put in a glass encased room for the dogs to play while their parents were at work. A doggy day care?!?!  After 20 awkward minutes, the staff acknowledged me and also acknowledged the drool and mascara all over the glass because my face was eerily plastered up against it. They decided not to call security because I assured everyone that I was simply trying to figure out how I could squeeze being "a professional doggy play person" onto my already hectic work week. At any rate, if you've got some time to kill and if you're just looking to make some fun money, maybe check around to see if anyone needs another pair of hands to care for dogs.

Check around your town or city. See if there's a dog park. Technically you don't need a dog to visit a dog park. You might get some strange looks when you start playing with someone else's dog, but hey...nothing that a quick explanation couldn't fix!

Whatever your outlet may be, spending time with animals is proven to enrich your life and warm your heart. So many dogs simply don't get the human contact that they need because their owners' lives get too darn busy. Be the person who can bring an otherwise lonely dog some attention and affection.

~Happy Tails!


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Let's Talk "Dog!"

The most valuable advice I've ever received regarding dog training was not to teach your dog YOUR language, but to try and better understand his. Sure, there are key words in your vocabulary that your dog can pick up on, but mostly it's the inflection and the tone of your voice that your dog responds to--not the actual words. It's best to get down to his level and communicate with him in a way that he can understand. You wouldn't bark at a baby, so you understand why yelling at a dog doesn't really work.

Here are some examples:

1.) Owner: My dog is so difficult on a leash. He pulls and pulls, so I bought him a choke chain and he still pulls!

Trainer: Do you know why he pulls? Because he can. You're physically allowing him to pull you. The discomfort of the choke chain is worth the excitement in the pull. Stop allowing him to pull you. When he pulls, snap the leash quickly one time and stop walking. The reinforcement is the actual walking. He'll catch on very quickly that in order to walk, he must walk at your pace, at your side.

Doesn't that make more sense than being dragged down the street and allowing your dog to do so?

2.) Owner: Our puppy steals toys from our kids and it takes us a half hour to catch her!

Trainer: Stop chasing her. It's a game and you're playing it.

Oh...

3.) Owner: Our dog pees all over the place when we get home. She's so excited to see us that she literally pees on us!

Trainer: Ignore your dog when you walk in the door. Completely turn your back and/or walk right past your dog. Don't make eye contact. Don't greet her, nothing. When she is calm, you may walk over to her and give her all the affection you want--but it must be on your terms. (ps. This one was the MOST difficult for me because I'm the person who runs in the door yelling, "Who's a good boy??? Oh, who's a good boy?  Ohmygoodness I missed you so much!!!")

4.) Owner: Help!! Our puppy only pees on the wee wee pads half the time! How do I get her to pee on the pads all the time?? 

Trainer: You can't. You can't allow your dog to pee inside some parts of your house, but not others. You're setting him up to fail. He isn't going to be able to differentiate between an expensive rug, hard wood floors, newspapers or a wee wee pad. You have to be consistent in your training and if you'll allow him to go on a wee wee pad, be prepared for him to occasionally go where he's supposed to and occasionally where he shouldn't.

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when training your dog is, "How is this working for us?"  If your answer is, "it isn't." then it's time to change your strategy.  In other words, if you say, "Our dog keeps jumping up on people! We shove her down, but she keeps doing it!" My immediate answer would be, "Then stop shoving her down. Because it's not working."  If you keep laying wee wee pads out, and she keeps going elsewhere, it's time to realize the wee wee pads aren't working. Dogs are very intelligent animals, but they aren't so intelligent that they understand sarcasm, language or impatience. They only learn to do what works for them, because they're animals. You can't not train your dog and then expect that he become a well trained, obedient pet. You have to teach him how you want him to behave because he only knows what's worked for him thus far. If the only way your puppy can get you to pay her attention is by peeing on your bed and jumping on you, guess how she's going to obtain your attention?

It makes so much more sense when you think in simplistic (dog) terms. Your dog isn't going to understand your language. You must communicate with him in a way that he absolutely understands. I always say, "Great dogs aren't born, they're trained." ......and that's what you sign up for when you take on a dog! It's hard work, but so, so worth it!

Don't forget to check out www.TheHousebreaker.com for awesome tips and helpful suggestions on housebreaking.

Happy Tails!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Relapse In Training?

Much like toddlers, puppies can and will often regress in their training. You know how young children like to test their boundaries and keep you on your toes? Yep, puppies will pull the same tricks, just to see what they can get away with.

You might notice that your (once housebroken) puppy is starting to have accidents again. For some reason, I see this a lot around the 6-10 month mark. The following incidents could trigger a relapse in house training.

An extended visit from another dog. Dogs often mimic each other's behavior, so if one dog has an accident, your dog might think, "Well, if he can pee in the house, I can too!"

You return from vacation to find that your well-behaved puppy is now back to chewing, biting and peeing in the house. Whoever was caring for your dog (a boarder or a friend) might not have implemented the same structure that you have and the result is a dog who now needs a refresher course in doggy 101.

Different work/school hours. The dog can pick up on a change in their routine and they might show their displeasure by acting out/regressing.

Any type of injury, illness or infection. Recently, our dog needed surgery and he had to stay the night in the hospital while he recovered. Although he was completely housebroken, the 3 night hospital stay threw off his schedule and when we finally got him home, he peed everywhere! He was unsure of his new/old routine, so it took another day or so to get him back to our house rules. Or--if your dog gets a bladder infection and accidents are unavoidable, it's not uncommon for the behavior to continue after the infection has healed. You'll need to correct the behavior by offering him a crash course in housebreaking.

Lastly, a relapse in training for no reason whatsoever. Your dog might decide to forget everything you've ever taught them, quite simply because they can. Testing, testing, testing! It's up to YOU to help get them back on track. If you let them get away with naughty behavior once, they'll remember that and they'll try it again. Consistency is key!

Keep in mind, puppies are just like kids. Their first year is filled with experimenting, learning, teaching, testing and exploring. Be patient while they find their way. Expect for things to get chewed and accidents to happen. Remember, great dogs aren't born, they're trained. :)

Happy Tails!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Is this vet worthy??

Most people don't have pet insurance, despite it's availability. Pets' unforeseen illnesses, accidents or conditions can be concerning, especially if an unexpected trip to the vet doesn't fit into your budget. Many dog owners skip the vet due to the cost (and it CAN be costly). Unfortunately, unless you went to veterinarian school, you might have a hard time deciphering a life threatening condition or a minor set back. Luckily vets are animal lovers by nature and I can't imagine a veterinarian refusing to treat a sick animal just because the owner doesn't have the funds. So, when you're choosing a vet, make sure he/she offers flexible, affordable payment plans.

These are things that would likely necessitate a trip to your veterinarian.

A sudden and/or uncharacteristic lack of appetite. You know your animal better than anyone and only you if your dog is acting odd. Refusal to eat could indicate an illness.

Vomiting. Most dogs vomit from time to time. But if they don't bounce back afterward, or if the vomiting continues for several hours, you want to call your vet. At the very least, you'd need to address the possible dehydration. It could also indicate a blockage somewhere in their digestive tract.

An unusually swollen ear. It's called a hematoma and it is often uncomfortable, sometimes painful for the dog. Often caused by ear mites, the dog's aggressive scratching can break open capillaries in the ear. If left untreated, it can become infected or it could rupture which would lead to surgery to repair it. For the cost of antibiotics and an office visit, it's worth being seen by a vet.

Unusual frequency in urination, uncharacteristic accidents in the home, compulsive licking to the genitals. This could indicate a bladder or urinary tract infection. Again, only a vet can diagnose that and the condition can be easily cleared with antibiotics. If left untreated, the infection can travel to kidneys and cause further damage. It's also very uncomfortable, sometimes burning or painful to the dog. Unfortunately, a lot of times the undesirable behavior will continue after the infection has cleared up. It'll be up to you to offer a refresher course in housebreaking once your dog is infection-free. If training your dog is harder the 2nd time around, I would suggest visiting www.TheHousebreaker.com for helpful suggestions.

An apparent paralysis. If your dog can no longer move a specific extremity, lower extremities or a paralysis from the neck down, there could be a pinched nerve or a ruptured disk. From personal experience, it would be helpful to know up front if your vet has the capability of making house calls if you can't physically move your pet. Only an MRI could determine nerve damage.

Lethargy. If you notice that your typically active dog is particularly "mopey" or lethargic, there's often a reason. Again, you know your pet and you know what's normal and what isn't. In the summer months, dehydration or heat stroke could be the culprit.

Establish a good rapport with your veterinarian. If you develop a relationship with your dog's physician, he or she will be more likely to be honest with you when you call with a concern. If he or she doesn't know you or your dog at all, she'll be much more likely to tell you to bring in your dog at the first sign of trouble. If she knows your animal fairly well, perhaps she'll be more apt to offer you a phone consultation if there's an obvious solution.

Remember--YOU are your pet's only advocate. Be their voice so that they can receive the care that they so deserve.

Happy Tails!

Monday, July 29, 2013

What's Up With My Dog?

The good people at The Housebreaker have heard every question there is to ask about dog challenges, concerns and complaints. By far the most common is with regard to a sudden change in behavior.  My dog has been housebroken for 2 years and he's suddenly peeing on our carpet! Our laid back beagle is suddenly anxious and acting out! Our 6 year old bulldog seems depressed!

These are all valid concerns and congratulations for being so in tune with your pet. We here at The Housebreaker love questions because that means you're making effort to help your pet and that makes us happy.

As people, we deal with stressors every single day. How do we deal with them? Yoga. Count to ten. Sip a glass of wine? Scream? Visit a psychiatrist? These can all alleviate stress. But dogs don't have the luxury of verbalizing their stress so theirs is a little harder to identify. Any change in behavior could be your dog's outward response to stress.

Any of the following situations could cause confusion, depression or stress in your dog

  • A new baby
  • A new home
  • The presence of another dog
  • Major changes to the owner (ie., health, death, etc.)
  • The absence of an owner (vacation, change in work schedule, etc.)
  • Depression of the owner. Dogs can absolutely sense this.
  • Absence of another dog companion (death or re-homing of one dog). The remaining dog will often look for his friend and/or express sadness at the sudden absence.

Any of the following behaviors could be interpreted as outward displays of stress

  • A regression in housebreaking
  • Excessive chewing or licking him/herself
  • Lethargy
  • Intolerance to affection
  • "Marking" specific spots inside your home
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities or favorite objects
  • Lack of appetite or decrease in food consumption
For housebreaking concerns in particular, no matter what the cause is, you'll need to correct the behavior before it becomes a full blown habit....and it will. I'd recommend anyone to check us out at www.thehousebreaker.com for any and all housebreaking remedies.
Dogs are amazing creatures. Although they can't verbalize their thoughts, they absolutely can communicate their needs, feelings and thoughts. You just have to know your dog.

Happy Tails!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Which Dog Is Right For You?

I always say that summer is the best time to bring home a new (4-legged) member of your family. Here's why. Regardless of whether you adopt a puppy or rescue an adult dog, there is going to be some adjustment for both the dog and you. Showing your new pet the lay of the land is SO MUCH easier in warm weather than in cold. New puppies can't hold their bladders for very long, so middle of the night trips outside are inevitable. Just like with a newborn baby (See? No one tells you these things and then you're shocked when). Standing outside at 4 AM with a curious puppy who is in NO HURRY to go potty---albeit, not fun--but way better in the summer than freezing in your slippers & bathrobe.

Another reason to choose a summer adoption over an winter one? Some dogs pick up housebreaking in a day, others take longer. If your dog happens to be a more difficult breed to train, imagine standing outside in the snow while trying to teach puppy to squat down in 3 inches of snow. Brrrrr.  He'll catch on very quickly that dipping his nether regions in the icy snow isn't a lot of fun. And speaking of snow, if you happen to choose a tiny breed, imagine trying to navigate through even just a few inches of snow. Talk about a shocker! So, yes--I am a big fan of taking on the arduous task of puppy training in the summer, because why take on the added stress of cold weather?

Ok, so once you've opened up the possibility of getting a dog, now you must decided which breed is right for you. There are several websites dedicated to finding the perfect breed based on your lifestyle. Simply type in "finding the perfect dog" or "which dog is right for me" and you'll be impressed with all the information available to you. Different types of questions that you'll need to consider are:

  • Do I have the time to dedicate to a pet?
  • What is this dog's purpose (guard dog, show dog, companion, running buddy...)
  • Will a shedding breed bother my allergies, if so, which breeds don't shed?
  • Will this be an inside dog or an outside dog? Consider your climate.
  • Are we a busy family who's always on the go? If so, perhaps a lazier, more relaxed breed is better for you.
  • Is this breed good with children? Or are they possessive of their owner?
These are very important things that must be thought through before making the 10+ year commitment of adopting a dog.

Just as parenthood isn't something to rush into, pet adoption isn't either. It isn't fair to the animal if he's brought into an environment where he doesn't fit in. If you lived in a fraternity house, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to raise a baby there. Just as a Bulldog wouldn't be a good choice if you're looking for a dog who'll accompany you on your daily 5 mile runs! Is your family one that enjoys lake living? Maybe a Chihuahua isn't the best choice? See what I'm getting at?

You can get as picky as you want. This is YOUR pet. I've even gone as far as choose the dog's hair color because the thought of black dog hair on my light floors & furniture was troublesome to me. The most responsible thing you can do is to carefully weigh your needs, wants and options. Do your homework so that there are no surprises later. The worst case scenario would be for the dog to bond with you and your family, then you give him away when his temperament doesn't fit into your life.

Finally, be patient. Puppies are very much like babies. They need to be nurtured, attended to and to be properly trained. Accidents are going to happen. Things will be chewed. That's the nature of puppyhood. Don't give up on your pet when he becomes inconvenient, help him to be the dog that you'd love for him to be.

This is precisely why I love our product The Housebreaker so much. It was designed specifically to give owners another option (short of getting rid of your dog) when housebreaking doesn't go as well as intended. Believe it or not, dogs are very, very smart. They aim to please their owners and no, they aren't peeing on your floor to be naughty. They just need a little extra component added to their training. All dogs learn at their own pace, just as every child becomes toilet trained in their own way. You wouldn't find a new home for your 3 year old if she was having accidents. Right? Try to think of your pet in that regard. It's frustrating, trying and often downright exhausting. But so, so worth it.

If your puppy or dog is taking his dear, sweet time picking up the basics of housebreaking, try checking out this amazing device at www.TheHousebreaker.com . It will change your (and your dog's) life.

Happy tails!