Kennel cough is making the rounds again (the whole summer has been like this!) so please be mindful with your dog's exposure.
Riding in the car can create anxiety and/or motion sickness in dogs and sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which. In fact, often times, one can cause the other, so it becomes a question of “chicken vs egg”.
Let’s look at some products that can make car rides a little easier, depending on your dog’s issue.
Dogs are natural hunters and scavengers – they’re problem-solvers! When we bring dogs into our homes and feed them out of bowls, we’re asking them to do something that goes against what they are programmed to do…they need an enriched environment!
Food is a valuable resource – sure, it sustains life, but it can also enrich environments, create positive associations, reinforce desired behaviours, and be the source of a lot of fun. Every kibble in a bowl is the tragic loss of an opportunity for one of these things above.
Get rid of that food bowl and start enriching your dog’s environment! Give them something to DO. A mentally stimulated dog is a good dog.
Dogs are natural hunters and scavengers so why are we still feeding out of a bowl? All animals need environmental enrichment, so let's look at the simplest way to do that. Kongs are one of my favourite food dispensing toys in the world and I just happen to have over a dozen of them in my freezer at all times. West Paw also makes fantastic stuffable toys!
Summertime is cottage time for many of us and that includes our four-legged friends. While we all dream of our summertime travels being relaxing, oftentimes a lack of preparation causes more stress than we bargained for.
This list of tools and tips will help you prepare for the worst and hopefully in turn give you the peaceful and enjoyable vacation you imagine.
There are many behaviours that despite domestication, dogs still exhibit. “Resource guarding” is the first that comes to mind. While ball or food obsession seems harmless to many, it can be the start of a more dangerous behaviour down the road. Resource guarding is an evolutionarily advantageous behaviour - meaning it is necessary for survival.
It is not acceptable to use a shock collar on a dog and call it "training". It is beyond insulting to me, my colleagues, my mentors, my industry. It infuriates me to see it time and again. How anyone can think that sending an electric current through a dog's neck or genitals is an acceptable way to teach another sentient being how to "behave" is beyond me. It's the person holding the remote who needs to learn how to behave appropriately, as far as I'm concerned.
We dog trainers have what we call a negative conditioned emotional response to a few things in the dog world. The terms "alpha", "pack leader", "stubborn" and (human) behaviours like alpha rolling, or the use of positive punishment (leash corrections, shock collars, physical reprimands).
A common one comes to mind this week after three separate clients came to me and stated "this week I tried [XYZ] because there was a dog trainer in the dog park and (s)he said that it's very effective."
It's hard to bite my tongue in those moments because [XYZ] is generally well-meaning but poor or dangerous advice from someone who may be a hobby dog trainer, but has little to no education in the field. More often than not I have to undo the damage there and explain why pinning the dog on the ground after he barked at the dog who was relentlessly humping him [or insert some other normal dog behaviour here] is not only ineffective but dangerous and considered inhumane..
Most dogs have some annoying habits. We humans want them to stop as quickly as possible.
Some humans have a little handheld tool they use to stop behaviours they don’t like: a squirt bottle. A sharp spray of water in the dog’s face should stop jumping/chewing/nipping/barking pretty efficiently, right? Plus the gadget is cheap, easy to get and shouldn’t really hurt the dog, right? Well, not in my opinion.
Today we lost another veterinarian to suicide.
Before anyone regurgitates the old "they're just in it for the money" or "they're trying to rip us off", I hope we can all take a moment to breathe, to think, to appreciate.
Vets spend years in school, studying not just one or two species, but many. They may assess and treat your dog in one appointment, a cat in the next appointment, a guinea pig, a rabbit, a ferret, a rabbit, a goldfish, a horse, or a cow, in another. They need to have the species-appropriate information on the top of their heads at all times. Which meds work for which species but could kill another species? Which symptoms lead to which disease in one species but varies in another? What is "normal" for the species in front of them and abnormal for another?
I often imagine the dog training experience as a series of banking transactions - the visual really helps me to measure our work but also to gauge where we may have a deficit or where the dog has a need.
When we bring home a puppy, we often make a series of assumptions that can be quite harmful - how many times do we trainers hear "Oh, my dog is fine with that. I can [manhandle, groom, pick up, travel with, etc...] him and he doesn't care.". Every. Single. Day. We hear it every single day.
The challenge is this - there is a HUGE difference between tolerance and enjoyment and most of us don't actively seek out the difference in every moment we spend with our dogs. We take for granted, unknowingly, how tolerant our dogs are of our behaviour.
As I walk through the city of Toronto on a daily basis, I am still shocked to see how many people still tie their dogs up outside outside stores and leave them for a stretch of time. I’ll admit to doing it up until 2011 when we had a series of dog-nappings in the city and my eyes were opened to the dangers.
Dog-napping is not the only concern that is a reality when we tie our dogs up outside, but it’s a very real one. Dogs who are stolen are sold on Kijiji and Craigslist, sold for research (yes, that happens here in Ontario!), used as bait dogs in dog fighting rings, walked around the city for days/weeks/months/years on end by the homeless. In Toronto, it's actually illegal to leave your dog tied up and unattended in public.
When training our dogs, it's crucial to consider their currency. What does that mean? How does your dog like to get paid? What do they find most reinforcing?
When we go to work, we get paid in the form of money - paycheques and monetary bonuses. If the paycheque stopped suddenly, we would question and likely stop working. Imagine if your boss sent you an envelope containing Monopoly money on payday in place of your regular cheque!
Your Chihuahua may love Boxers and your Rottie mix may adore Dachshunds. But when little and big play together, keep close watch. Big dogs can unintentionally harm small dogs—and on the rare occasions when friendly play escalates into a scuffle, the smaller dog is at risk for serious injury or death. If you let your dog play with very differently sized dogs, supervise vigilantly.