Lotsa Dogs Lotsa Fun

Lotsa Dogs Lotsa Fun
The Big Dogs Wait at The Door

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cesar Millan on Nuisance Barking

This is a repost from Cesar Millan.

Three Keys to Stop the Barking

By Cesar Millan
It is completely natural for dogs to bark, and it’s one of their most important forms of communication after energy and body language. Dogs will bark as a warning, to protect their pack and territory. They will also bark to express excitement.
Those forms of barking are rarely a nuisance and don’t last long. That is why nuisance barking almost always has the same cause and the same solution. When a dog barks excessively, it’s telling you that it is bored and is looking for stimulation or a challenge.
Inevitably, excessive barking indicates there is a problem with the human, and not the dog; there is something not balanced in the pack, so the dog’s needs are not being met. The barking is the only way the dog has to tell you something is wrong.
A barking dog needs Exercise, Discipline, and then Affection, in that order. Exercise and Discipline will provide the physical and psychological stimulation that your dog craves. Affection — but only when your dog is in a calm, submissive state — will reinforce the behavior that you want without rewarding the behavior that you don’t.
I’m sure you’ve seen it countless times — somebody with a small, excited dog that won’t stop barking, who then picks up the dog to try to stop it. Unfortunately, this is exactly the wrong approach. The attention and affection from being picked up tells the dog, “I like what you’re doing right now.”
This is unintended positive reinforcement, and it only takes a few times to train a dog that its barking is something you want. But it doesn’t only happen in the above scenario. How many of you come home to be greeted by your dog’s excited jumping and spinning and barking? And how many of you immediately give affection in return for what you interpret as happiness?
This is one of the most difficult things for dog lovers to grasp. When a dog returns to its pack, they are not greeted with excited barking and jumping. Sometimes, there will be sniffs and tail wags, but most of the time it’s no big deal when a dog comes back to the pack. Unfortunately, we humans tend to make a big deal out of coming and going from home, and this puts your dog in the wrong state of mind.
If you greet your dog in an excited manner, then she will come to expect your return to be a time of excitement. This means that, while she’s waiting for you to come back, she will anticipate that excitement, and become frustrated and bored. Now, if you also make a big deal before you go, you’ve left your dog in an excited state as well. This is the perfect formula to create an excessive barking problem.
The solution is more simple than people think. It begins with providing your dog plenty of exercise via the walk, along with discipline by giving him jobs to do and commands to learn. But, most importantly, it requires that you do not reward unwanted behavior, particularly excitement, with affection.
Don’t worry. Your dog won’t think you’re mean if you aren’t petting her or giving out treats 24/7. Your dog wants to earn your affection. Allowing her to do that, and to see your happiness is, to your dog, the biggest reward of all.

Read more: http://www.cesarsway.com/dogbehavior/dogbarking/Three-Keys-to-Stop-the-Barking?utm_source=CMI_FB&utm_medium=Post&utm_campaign=5.29.13#ixzz2UmHHO0pa

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How Do I Know If Dog Play is Healthy?

This is a repost.  The Doggie Den thanks the author, Casey Lomonaco!

 It's Playtime! 6 Signs of Healthy Play in Dogs

How can you tell when that display of teeth means fun, not business? Here are a few training tips.
 |  Jan 16th 2013  |   34 Contributions

Last week, I shared some of the training tips I give to clients who are seeking appropriate playmates for their canine besties. This week, I'll talk about how to recognize signs of healthy play in dogs.
First-time pet owners are often in for a small shock the first time they see their dog actually play in the classroom. "OMG! He is growling, and that dog just bit his neck! That other dog over there is HUMPING another dog! Wait, my dog just bit the other dog in the neck, too! This is too aggressive. I'm uncomfortable."

Dog play can look like fighting to the first-time owner. Best friends play by Shutterstock
Let me get one thing straight: Dogs don't "do" Legos, video games, or Barbies. They jump, chase, bite, growl, bark, and wrestle. Many of the things that happen in play may look like aggression, and it is true that play can escalate into aggression rather quickly if left unchecked.
So how can you tell when that display of shiny teeth means fun instead of business? Here are a few signs of healthy play to look for.

1. Reciprocity and role reversal

"I scratch your back, you scratch mine" is the mantra. I like to see frequent role reversal in play with friendly dogs -- I chase you, you chase me. I tackle you, you tackle me. I bite your neck, you bite my neck.
If I consistently see one dog tackling another and the other dog is not offered the opportunity to tackle back, it is often more bullying than play, and the owner of the dog who is tapping out on the ground needs to step in.

Tag is a great game, as long as the dogs take turns being chased. Dogs play in water by Shutterstock
When it comes to chasers, you have some dogs that only like chasing and do not like being chased. This can be a problem for the playmate, who says, "Hey, I want to chase, too!" If the chase-ee is always trying to get away from the chaser, you should definitely intervene.

2. Take frequent breathers

I also like to see frequent, self-imposed breaks. "Breathers" are just that -- seconds-long pauses where each dog gathers her wits before re-engaging in play. Breathers don't have to last very long, and then the dogs will reinitiate with one another.
If dogs do not give these frequent self-imposed breaks to one another, it is a good idea to step in and make them do so before releasing them back to play; just ask for a few simple behaviors and then release your dog to join the fun. I find that humans often have to do this when two friendly dogs first meet, but that the dogs quickly learn to regulate themselves after minimal intervention.

3. Happy dogs have Jell-O bones

"Jell-O-y" is my uber-scientific technical term for the body language of happy dogs. When dogs enter the dog park with stiff tails and stiff bodies, they are asking for trouble. If one dog looks like he has a vibrating coat hanger stretched straight up through his tail, the "play" interaction will likely not be very enjoyable for anyone.
There is a looseness in the body language of happily engaged dogs: Tails are swishy, tongues are lolling, bodies are wiggly, eyes are sparkling.  Much as play is a topic worthy of its own book, so is canine body language.  My friend Carol Byrnes, owner of Diamonds in the Ruff training center in Spokane, has two great CD-Roms on canine body language, What Is my Dog Saying? and What Is My Dog Saying at the Dog Park?  The latter is a must-review if you want to learn more about the mechanisms of dog body language as it relates to canine social interactions.

Loose canine body language means the play is fun, not serious. Dog friends play ball by Shutterstock

4. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise

Every time I see a dog enter the dog park on a tight leash, eyes bulging, panting and out of control like he hasn't had adequate exercise in ages, I cringe. If your dog comes in like a freight train, it's not exactly safe for the other dogs who may be near the tracks!

5. Go with the flow

Dogs who are playing well are essentially going with the flow. You will want to see nearly constant, nearly fluid movement. Watch for changes or disruption in the flow -- maybe a higher- or lower-pitched vocalization than during the previous play.

Is this game about to turn serious?
Similarly, there is a difference between a "breather" (where dogs typically have very soft eyes and open mouths, tongues lolling out) and a visual lock-on, where the dogs stop playing and one or both will get stiff and stare. This is a signal for you to step in and quickly diffuse tension by creating space for the dogs. If the "chase-ee" has previously been running with a happy, loose tail, but you see it go between her legs and tucked firmly against her belly, step in and help her before things go wrong.

6. Smart owners make happy dogs

By far the best sign that play will go appropriately is when you carefully select your dog's playmates, teach yourself about play and body language, and know your dog well. Some dogs, as they get tired, become cranky and have less patience in play. Others take progressively more and longer breaks until they are sleeping.

Happy dogs are those who are well-matched playmates. Schnauzers with Frisbee by Shutterstock
Know your dog, know the dogs your dog is interacting with, and have a plan in place. What are potential conflict triggers for your dog? Do you have an intervention strategy planned, and if so, at what stage will you implement it?
For more tips on how to ensure you and your dog get the most enjoyment possible from your playdates, check out my article "Dog Park Etiquette: Do's and Don'ts from a Trainer." 

How does your dog play healthily at the park? At home? Let us know in the discussion below!

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Best Way to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

This is a repost from Dr. Jon's Newsletter:

Oral hygiene is essential to your dog's overall health.  Oral disease is very common in pets. In fact, the American Veterinary Dental Society reports that by the age of three, oral disease is present in up to 80 percent of dogs.  You can significantly reduce your dog's risk of getting oral disease by establishing a healthy oral-care routine early in your pet's life.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a dog's teeth should be brushed daily; however, because many dogs initially resist daily brushing, most people don't do it that often (if at all). But experts say some form of regular brushing is better than no dental care at all. Brushing at least every other day is enough to prevent the buildup of tartar on your dog's teeth.

Taking care of your dog's teeth doesn't just prevent bad breath. Poor oral hygiene can start a domino effect of health problems for your dog.  Built up bacteria becomes plaque, which eventually becomes tarter.  Periodontal disease is a direct result of bacteria that lives in tartar.  It can lead to a variety of problems including tooth loss, pain, gum disease and bad breath.  It can also contribute to liver, heart and kidney disease.

Protecting your pet from the pain and health risks that come from poor dental hygiene is very simple, and it saves you the time and expense of additional vet visits.  The best way to do this is to brush your dog's teeth regularly.  I understand this isn't always easy and it may take your dog some time to get used to this routine.  To make it easier I recommend introducing the toothpaste and toothbrush slowly and rewarding your dog for any progress he makes.

When brushing your dog's teeth, it's very important not to use human toothpaste.  It can make your dog sick and even poison him.  You want to be sure to use a pet-friendly toothpaste and a toothbrush that's sized to fit your dog's mouth.

If you're ready to get your dog into this healthy habit, check out Pet Product Advisor's Kissable Toothpaste & Toothbrush Combo. I've seen how much time and stress these products can save.  The vanilla-flavored toothpaste is delicious enough that dogs actually enjoy the taste.  The three-sided toothbrush is just the right shape for a dog's mouth because it targets the outer, top and inner parts of the teeth at the same time.  That means you can brush your dog's entire mouth in less than a minute.

This powerful combo works together to remove food and bacteria from all angles of your dog's teeth, so you can rest assured his mouth will stay clean, healthy and fresh. Check it out: www.petproductadvisor.com/doggietoothbrush

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