Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Do Dogs Cool Off?

The day is hot and sultry, the kind of day when you work up a sweat by just breathing. A few minutes of vigorous activity, and you're swimming within your own shirt. But your dog only pants, with his tongue hanging out by at least a mile, to show he is hot also.

So whose body is better at keeping cool? The answer is, yours. It may be uncomfortable for you to sweat profusely, but it is an efficient method to regulate temperature. When it comes to keeping cool, we have it made in the shade compared to our dogs.

In people, sweat glands help regulate temperature by bringing warm moisture to the surface of the skin, which causes cooling as the water evaporates. Because sweat glands are located all over the human body, cooling takes place over a greater surface area of the skin than it does in dogs.

Dogs do not have the luxury of overall cooling because their bodies have very few sweat glands, and most of those are in the footpads.

Dogs cool themselves primarily by the process of panting and breathing, with the moist lining of their lungs serving as the evaporative surface.

Most people believe that the dog's tongue contains sweat glands, but this is not true. The dog's tongue and mouth are associated with many salivary glands that produce different forms of saliva. Some cooling takes place as the panting dog moves air across saliva-moistened surfaces of the mouth cavity.

Dogs also dissipate heat by dilating (expanding) blood vessels in the face and ears. Dilating blood vessels helps cool the dogs blood by causing it to flow closer to the surface of the skin.

Excessive play on a hot day can lead to overheating (hyperthermia) and eventually to heat stroke. A dog's normal body temperature is within the range of 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If his temperature rises to 105 or 106 degrees, he may suffer heat exhaustion. At 107 degrees, heat stroke can occur, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Heat stroke can cause brain damage and even death.

A dog that is overheated will act sluggishly, or perhaps confused. His gums and tongue may appear bright red, and he will be panting hard. The dog may vomit, collapse, have a seizure, and may go into a coma.

An overheated dog is a real emergency situation. Get him to a veterinarian immediately. If possible pour water from the garden hose on him to begin the cooling process. On the way to the veterinary clinic, cover him with cool wet towels or spritz him with cool water. Do not use ice-cold water.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

National "Camera Day"

Today, June 29th is National Camera Day.

I love great pet photos and it is great fun to take a perfect picture of your pet.

Do you know why your dog's eyes shine in such a creepy way in photos?

Ebony At Twelve Weeks Old

The answer is, for the same reasons our eyes come out red – because of the way the flash is reflected off the back of our eyes. The difference in color of the reflection is due to the structure of the eye. In a person, flash photography makes our eyes appear devilish red. This is because the flash reflects off the a blood vessel rich layer behind the retina.

In dogs (and many other animals), the retina has a reflective layer behind it called the tapetum lucidum. This layer acts like a mirror, reflecting light at the back of their eyes. The reflective layer is what helps dogs and cats see better at night. Light is reflected outward, giving the dog's retina a second chance to absorb the rays.

Light that is not absorbed exits the eye, appearing as the "eyeshine" seen in photos, from headlights, flashlights, etc. This ability comes at a price, as dogs cannot see detail as well as humans (they are more attuned to seeing motion).

Note: Some dogs lack pigment in their tapetum lucidum. In these individuals their "eyeshine" is red, as it is in humans.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Best Friends

Animal antics are delightful to watch, and the more human the behavior, the funnier and more endearing an audience is likely find it. But there is something particularly heart-warming about the tale of Surya and Rosco. A dog without a pack meets a young, playful orangutan. Without a moment’s hesitation they are rolling around together, wrestling and playing. Surya even provides food from her own rations!

“A good pack leader is going to make sure that his pack survives,” said Cesar Millan. “He needs the pack; he can’t make it by himself. It’s no surprise that an orangutan, or a cat, or a dog, or any animal in this situation would share food with a follower.”

Though the dog was encouraged to leave and return to its home, he continued to come back day after day. The ape and dog had become a pack of two; inseparable. What fraternal instinct brought the two together? What can we learn from their friendship? The social habits of animals can serve as a window into our own behavior and the behavior of our canine companions.

“You can see that no matter what the orangutan is doing, the dog is in a submissive state,” said Millan of the video. “He touches him, kisses him, and no matter what he does, the dog remains submissive. That is trust at its best. That tells you that you don’t need to know dog training to establish a relationship with a dog. The fundamentals of life are universal; it’s about trust, respect, and loyalty. And it happens right away for animals. It can take a long time for humans, because we intellectualize it. A human, before he gets a dog, has already read four or five books on dog training, so when he finally has the dog, he is confused about which method to practice! The orangutan is a beautiful example of how instincts work differently.”

Watch the video

What has the bond between Surya and Rosco taught you?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Baby and Dog Playing Together

Since I am a new Grandma, I am intrigued by how babies and dogs interact.

My dog, Ebony, was absolutely glued to my grandson when she first saw him. Then, of course, came the licks!

Here is great video of a baby and dog playing together.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dog Idioms

Modern language is full of colorful sayings that bring to mind our favorite animal companions.

Today, many animal-related idioms are commonplace, but have you ever wondered about the stories behind the sayings? The history of some might surprise you.

Have you ever tried to solve a problem only to find that you were approaching it in the wrong manner? Some might say that you were "barking up the wrong tree." This idiom harks back to the practice of hunting with dogs. The dogs were often used to flush game out from hiding spots or track them so that their human companions might find their quarry. These trusty canines often chased animals such as raccoons into trees, where their owners could easily find them. If a dog followed the wrong scent, however, they might find themselves barking away at a tree that held nothing. This idiom first became popular around 1832, and was rumored to be a favorite expression of Davy Crockett.

Many people even describe the weather by invoking images of animals. The "dog days of summer" are the hottest days of the season, a time when you and your pet might want nothing more than to relax in air conditioning. The origins of the phrase, however, date back to the ancient Romans. It was the Romans who first noticed that the hottest days of the summer seemed to coincide with the appearance of Sirius, the so-called "dog star" and a part of the Canis Major ("big dog") constellation. At one point these days were referred to as "Canicular dayes."

But even the coldest nights have interesting idioms and the history to go with them. One Australian idiom refers to the practice of sleeping alongside a dog for warmth during cold evenings. A particularly frosty night might require more than one companion, hence it is a "three-dog night."

Animals have always been a rich source of imagery in language, something that has continued even to present day. Whether you are trying to describe a bungled plan or merely talking about the weather, animal-related idioms are a part of many people's everyday language. Digging up their origins can be as difficult as herding cats (origin unknown, but thought to have its roots in the information technology industry-really!) but these sayings often have a rich and intriguing history behind them.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Water Safety for Dogs

Someone told me that all dogs can swim. That is not true.

Here are a few tips on water safety:

Pets can drown in lakes and pools, just like people. Even if your pet seems to want to keep playing fetch in the water, at some point you will need to take a break.

Older dogs tire more quickly, even if they are excellent swimmers. When the dog becomes exhausted, swimming and keeping his head above water becomes more difficult.

Be on the lookout for stagnant pools of water. At certain times of the year, algae forms along the edges of stagnant or infrequently used bodies of water. Some forms of this algae, particularly blue-green algae, are very dangerous. Ingesting some of the algae can cause serious, rapid illness that can kill pets.

Do not allow your pet to go near stagnant water or algae, and make sure he does not drink from these water sources.

I hope these water safety tips help keep your dog safe this summer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

From Service to SURFice Dog

Today I wanted to share this video of a surfing dog.

This is one of the most touching videos I have seen - it brought tears to my eyes.

The dog in this video (his name is Ricochet) was trained from birth to be a service dog, but in the end he wound up being a "surf-ice" dog. Ricochet helped raise money to pay for a 15-year-old quadriplegic surfer's therapy. Check out this amazing video.

I promise you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Only In San Diego, California

San Diego, California has an annual dog surfing competition!

“This competition is an extension of Loews Hotels’ Loews Loves Pets program and has become a hugely successful fundraiser for pet-related charities," said Kathleen Cochran, general manager of Loews Coronado Bay Resort. "We are proud to host a fun event that supports our local community."

Loews was one of the original surf dog competitions and the catalyst to a growing number of dog surfing events in southern California each year, not to mention the foundation of dog surf clubs, instructors, and retail outlets that sell canine surfing accessories such as custom-made surfboards, wet suits and life jackets.

Dogs compete by each grabbing as many waves as possible in ten minutes, and are judged on a range of criteria, from proper canine surf wear, to their level of confidence and calm submission on the board. The length of their ride and skill at balancing are the deciding factors. Competitors range from purebreds to mutts.

This grand affair was broken down into three competitions: small dogs, big dogs, and dogs surfing tandem-style with their owners. Some of the 65 competing dogs were surfing for the first time, while others were more seasoned surfers who have previously competed.

The prize? The “ultimate pet vacation” at Loews Coronado Bay Resort!

In addition to the element of fun, Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition is an extension of their Loews Loves Pets program which raises money for pet-related charities. Absolute K9 partnered with Lowes to make this year's event possible, contributing to the $45,000 this fundraiser has earned since 2005.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rawhide, Good or Bad?

Rawhide is the inner layer of the hide usually from a cow. People give pieces of rawhide to their pets as toys and to help their teeth. It is theorized that dogs like rawhide due to their natural instincts as wild dogs; they attacked and bit their prey, sank their teeth into the animals flesh and pulled away on the hide to obtain the meat.

General Information on Rawhide

Rawhide may serve as a simulation to this wild instinct. Many dogs, especially young dogs, have the natural instinct to chew. Rawhide may give dogs and puppies the ability to chew an acceptable "toy," while benefiting from the mechanical action of chewing, which applies pressure on the gums and teeth and scrapes the teeth while chewing.

It is important for a dog not to be able to chew off and swallow large pieces as this may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea.

It is also important that the rawhide be large enough that the pet cannot swallow it whole. If a large piece is eaten, it is usually digested with time and rarely causes a surgical problem; however, it can make your pet uncomfortable.

When the rawhide gets small enough that it can be swallowed, it should be taken away from your pet.

There are calories in rawhide. There is also protein and it is digestible but is not considered a "food" item. Rawhide should only be offered in addition to a balanced diet. Although there are mentioned benefits of rawhides, the calories can add up. Moderation is the key. Some suggest that two hours worth of chewing a day is adequate for most pets.

Pets with a history of vomiting, diarrhea, allergies and who are on a special diet should not have rawhide until you check with your veterinarian. The material in the rawhide probably is not a problem for most dogs, although some can be allergic to it. The real problem is that some dogs have a tendency to swallow too large a piece of the rawhide and it can get stuck in their esophagus, stomach or intestines, and require surgical removal.

Dangerous Foods

There are foods which can be dangerous to your dog.

Do you know which ones?

I came across this shortvideo about dangerous foods for dogs. Please take a few minutes to watch so that you know which people food can be hazardous to your dog.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Designer Mixed Breeds

A group of dogs that is quickly gaining popularity is called designer mixed breeds.

A designer mixed breed dog comes from two purebred dogs that are purposely bred to create a mixed breed with some traits of each of the parent dogs. Some have been around for ages and others have a relatively new found popularity, such as the Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever/Standard Poodle).

Breed mixes are becoming more and more popular and even getting designer names such as "Blends" as opposed to "Mixed Breeds". Most of the blends are smaller breed dogs and are mixed with a poodle. Most of these are relatively low shedding pets and may be good choices for families with allergies.

But which ones are the most popular? It is very difficult to find the numbers since they are not all part of a national registry but here is a list of the most common ones...

Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel-Poodle mix). The cockapoo originated in the United States in the 1960's. The Cockapoo is a cross between an American Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle. Cockapoos are active, can be good watchdogs and good with kids. Depending on the parents, the features and size can resemble each aspects of each breed. Their size can vary with the mix but generally range from 6 to 20 pounds and their life expectancy is 13 to 15 years.

Schnoodle (Schnauzer-Poodle mix). Schnoodles are mixes between a Schnauzer and a Poodle. They are generally intelligent dogs, active, playful and get on well with children. They are relatively low shedders. There are three sizes of poodle (toy, miniature and standard) and three sizes of schnauzer (miniature, standard and giant) and their traits are directly reflected by the combination that is bred. Their size can vary from 6 pounds and up and their life expectancy is 13 to 15 years.

Yorkipoos (Yorkshire terrier-Poodle mix). Yorkipoos are a cross between Yorkshire Terriers and Poodles. They are generally affectionate, loyal and active little dogs. Yorkipoos are relatively low shedders. Depending on the parents, their weight can vary from 4.5 to 16 pounds and their life expectancy is 13 to 16 years.


Pomapoo (Pomeranian-Poodle mix). Pom-a-poos are a mix between a Pomeranian and a Poodle. They are generally intelligent dogs get on well with children. They are relatively low shedders. There size varies with the size of the parents but can vary from 4 to 15 pounds and their life expectancy is 13 to 16 years.

Labradoodle (Labrador retriever-Standard poodle mix). Labradoodles are a cross between a Labrador retriever and a standard poodle mix. They are generally sociable, intelligent and readily trainable. The hair coats can be either fleece-like or curly and comes in a variety of colors including: Black, Silver, Cream, Apricot Cream, Chalk, Gold, Red, Apricot, Chocolate, and Café. Labradoodles weight will vary from 40to 80 pounds and their life expectancy is about 11 to 13 years.

Peekapoos (Pekinese-Poodle mix). Peek-a-poos (also referred to as Peke-a-poos, Peekapoos, and Pekepoos) are crosses between a Pekingese and a Poodle. Peekapoos are generally friendly dogs that are playful and can be good with children. This cross generally weighs between 8 to 16 pounds, depending on the size of the parents. Their life expectancy is approximately 13 to 15 years.

Maltapoo (Maltese-Poodle mix). Malt-a-poo, also known as the Malti-poo, is a cross between a Maltese and a poodle. They are generally sociable and intelligent. They are relatively low shedders. Malt-a-poos will weigh between 4 and 15 pounds and their life expectancy is about 13 to 15 years.

Chipoo (Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix). A Chi-poo is a mix between a Chihuahua and a Pomeranian. Their hair coat can be straight or wavy. They are relatively low shedders. Chi-poos are generally smart, personable and can be good with kids. Their weight will vary from 2 to 15 pounds and their life expectancy is about 13 to 17 years.

Shihpoo (Shih-Tzu-Poodle). A Shih-poo is a cross between a Shih-tzu and a poodle. They are generally gentle, affectionate and loyal. Their hair coats can be curly or straight and they are relatively low shedders. They generally weigh between 6 to 19 pounds and their life expectancy is about 13 to 17 years.

Goldendoodles (Golden retriever-Poodle mix). Goldendoodles are a cross between a Golden Retrievers and a Standard Poodle. Their weight will range from 45 to 80 pounds. They are generally low shedding pets. They are generally active, intelligent, highly trainable, loyal and good with kids. Their life expectancy is about 11 to 13 years.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Too Much Fun!

Up early to enjoy another summer-like day, I decided to take both doggies with me skating on the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington.

Being on the trail early usually guaranties fewer, if any, people so I could test out the logistics of skating with two dogs. What I learned was that Ginger has a trotting pace equal to my skating pace.......we were a perfect match! Ginger skated at my side and Ebony did her scouting ahead. Because Ebony is part Border Collie she seems to like to run ahead of the pack.

Ginger new to the sport, found swimming in the ponds along the way revitalized her energy. I would say, they are both happy dogs!

I believe I am learning how to juggle two dogs.

Weather says more sunshine this week; the three of us will definitely be hitting the Trail!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

First Taste of Summer

The Pacific Northwest finally experienced sunshine and warm temperatures!

I decided to take the two dogs to Budd Inlet in Olympia, Washington, for some cooling off water play. Look at this beautiful scene with the Olympics in the background!

Ginger is the swimmer, while Ebony plays in the shallow water.

With coaxing and after becoming uncomfortably hot, Ebony will retrieve a stick if not thrown far. I really do not know if she thinks this is fun or if she is trying to please me?

Summertime and the living is easy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

How Many Dogs?

For the next two weeks I am "baby sitting" my son's dog, Ginger. Adding a second dog to the household has its challenges.

I find that I am constantly watching the dogs and training Ginger to our routines. She is a "city dog" and not use to the amount of freedom Ebony has taken for granted. I have also realized that Ebony and I have a good relationship and understanding of each other's needs.

Ginger and Ebony Ready To Go

My plan is to take the dogs for a good long walk each morning; hopefully, this will keep them content for the rest of the day. Ceasar Millan, the Dog Whisper, believes that a walk is the dog's work ethic.

So how many dogs is too much?

One thing is for sure, how many dogs you can humanely care for depends on your availability, energy and resources. For most people, owning one or two dogs is a full time job, but some may be able to balance upward of four to six dogs. Anything above this number requires a special kind of person with special circumstances if each animal is to receive the kind of attention he should receive as a pet.

I think I will stick to one dog!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Smart Toys

Researchers have been testing dog intelligence for some time now, and they rate these breeds among the most intelligent:

1. Border Collies
2. Poodles
3. German Shepherds
4. Golden Retrievers
5. Dobermans
6. Shetland Sheepdogs
7. Labrador Retrievers

How smart is your dog?

Even if he is not among these top-ranked breeds, your dog could be smarter than you think.

Research shows that most dogs understand more than 150 words and can count up to four or five. Your dog is as smart as a two or three year-old child. He can learn basic commands, he knows how to express himself, and he picks up on the emotions of the people around him.

Yes, dogs are smart. Which is why they like smart toys that challenge their intellectual problem-solving skills. These "puzzle" toys make your dog think, and in general they will hold his interest much longer than many other types of toys.

Some of the best puzzle toys release treats to reward your dog for his ingenuity. These interactive toys will keep a dog busy and happily entertained for hours, trying to figure out how to release the treats.

I recently came upon a new treat-dispensing smart toy for medium to large size dogs. It's called Linkables™.

The great thing about this toy is that it is adaptable. As your dog learns how to solve the puzzle, you can continue to increase the difficulty of the challenge by adding more "links" to the toy. This helps keep your dog interested because you can give him increasingly difficult puzzles to solve. This is a durable, heavy-duty toy, and the thick rubber material massages your dog's gums as he chews.

Yes, dogs are smart. That's the good news. The bad news is that they often use that intelligence to "trick" their humans into giving them what they want - whether it's an extra treat, attention, extra playtime or some tasty table scraps. Dogs learn how to get what they want from their humans, just like young kids do with their parents. In some cases, giving in to your dog's manipulation may not always be the best choice, so take a moment to stop and use your best judgment.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Time

Summertime is such a great time for you and your dog to have fun together.

So go ahead, have fun. It is a wonderful opportunity for you and your dog to spend time together, and it will do you both a lot of good both body and soul.

But remember rules still apply. Freedom for a dog is understanding rules, boundaries, and limitations. In the wild, animals are not just roaming around aimlessly. Their parents teach them a structured life.

Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, recommends that before you start to play, set the limits in your own mind. Will you play for 10 minutes, 15 minutes—longer? Make sure you and your dog are relaxed before you begin and that she understands that playtime is over when you say so. Then wait until she is relaxed and calm before you start another game or activity.

Cesar also suggest to check your own emotions too. How are you going to enjoy summer if you are not emotionally free? Stop and acknowledge how you really feel. Try using breathing exercises to put yourself in a calm state.

Spending time on a trail, in the park, or at the beach gives you and your dog the chance to reconnect to nature together, which will strengthen the bond between you. Structured play can also work with your dog’s natural instincts.

Whatever you decide to do this summer, make sure there is some structure to your activities. You will know your dog is happy when he ends the sessions tired but fulfilled.

Vacation is a state of mind, and if you use your imagination, even a trip to your local park can be a great getaway. It would be wonderful to reach that state of mind every day!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dog Dreams

Your dog lies asleep at your feet, and suddenly his legs begin to twitch and run. Is he dreaming?

Although no one really knows the true function of dreaming it does seem to be necessary for normal data processing and memory storage. Dogs think and they have memory. And their memory banks need period purging and reorganization during sleep just as ours do.

Dogs and humans are not as different as some scientists would have us believe. Scientists tend to dwell on the differences between the two species, whereas the sameness is positively compelling. We are 95 percent identical genetically and physically (right down to the iron-containing porphyrin ring our common blood pigment, hemoglobin).

Because of this blue print similarity, you might expect a lot of the inner workings to be the same –and they are. Our brains are similar, our neurochemistry is the same, and our reflexes and memory are "wired" in like manner.

Types of Sleep

Like humans, dogs have two main types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and slow wave sleep (SWS). As a dog falls asleep the first stage he enters is SWS, the "sleep of the mind," in which mental processes are muted but muscle tone remains. The next stage is REM sleep, the "sleep of the body," in which the body is fully relaxed but the mind is racing and the dog's eyes are darting rapidly.

In SWS, brain waves are slow, undulating and of high amplitude much like those in a lightly anesthetized animal or person. In this stage, the dog appears calm and at rest. Dogs and humans are more easily aroused from SWS sleep, which appears to be a transitional state with incomplete muscle relaxation.

By contrast, in REM sleep brain waves are rapid and irregular, like those of the awake state. Dogs, like people, display REM sleep, and during REM sleep they show evidence of heightened mental activity – fast electroencephalogram [EEG] (brain wave) pattern. They may move their legs as if they are running, may whine or whimper as if excited, and may breath rapidly or hold their breath for short periods.

When REM sleep is achieved they are at their most relaxed and are most difficult to waken. It is during this more profound physical sleep that their eyes begin to dart and the brain waves pick up pace. Humans awakened from this state report that they have been dreaming; dogs are probably dreaming too when they are in REM sleep, although no dog has ever told anyone about a dream he has had.

Incidentally, adult dogs spend about 10 to 12 percent of their sleeping time in REM sleep. Puppies spend a much greater proportion of their sleep time in REM sleep, no doubt compacting huge quantities of newly acquired data.

And if you have ever wondered whether dogs that seem to be running during sleep are dreaming of catching rabbits or something similar, you can safely say they are.

Kissing or Licking?

Is your dog kissing you when he slurps your face like a lollipop?

Although we may never know, there are several possible explanations for this behavior, not all of which are mutually exclusive. The motivation for face licking appears to vary for different dogs and different circumstances.


Dogs lick for a number of reasons, some of which are purely biological:

Bitches lick their newborn pups to arouse them from their postpartum daze. In this situation, licking serves to remove clingy membranes from the pup, freeing him up to move and stimulating him to breathe.

Once the birthing and clean-up processes are over, the mom dog's licking her pups stimulates them to eliminate both urine and feces. It is a couple of weeks before pups will eliminate spontaneously.

Licking also serves another more romantic role in the sense that it is a comfort behavior that assists with pups' bonding to their mom and spurs on their mental development.

From about six weeks of age, some pups lick their mom's lips when they want her to regurgitate food for them. They lick; she vomits; they eat it. This behavior is a vestige of their wild ancestry and was designed to ensure that they profited from the spoils of the hunt.

Licking can also be a signal of submission and so is part of dog's body language communication system.

Pups and adults lick and groom themselves. It is part of normal survival-oriented behavior. Licking their own lips, limbs, and trunk removes traces of the last meal that would otherwise begin to decompose and smell. Quite apart from the hygienic aspects of this behavior, it also serves to keep dogs relatively odor free and thus olfactorily invisible to their prey. Domestic dogs retain these instincts even though they are not vital today.


Dogs, like people, engage in a number of "displacement behaviors" when nervous or stressed, and many of these behaviors involve self-grooming.

Take going to the vet's office, for example. Vets expect their more anxious patients to begin nervously licking their own lips as they enter the clinic. They may even lick or nibble their feet or flank.

There is no doubt that some dogs lick as a gesture of appeasement and goodwill. They may lick their own lips or may lick a person to whom they wish to signal deference. If the recipient of the licking interprets this behavior as "make-up kisses," that's just fine. Perhaps the behavior is analogous to some forms of human kissing and thus their interpretation may be close to the truth.

However, not all dogs seem penitent when they slurp the faces of people they meet. For some dogs, it seems that they engage in face licking because they can get away with it and because it gets a rise out of the person. When licking is performed for such a reason, it may be component of the "center stage," attention-demanding behavior of dominant dogs. No lick! is a good command to have working for these guys.


Some sensitive dogs in stressful environments compulsively groom themselves to the point of self-injury. Licking of this type leads to acral lick dermatitis (a.k.a. lick granuloma). Compulsive licking by dogs is not always self-directed. Some dogs take to licking floors, walls, or furniture. Whatever the outward expression of compulsive licking, the mechanics underlying the disorder are the same. In treatment of this condition, first the underlying anxiety must be addressed though, in some cases, it is also necessary to employ anti-compulsive medication to help break the cycle.

Lovey Dovey?

I do not believe dogs express their sometimes quite profound feelings for their owners by licking or "kissing." In fact, I do not believe dogs really "kiss" at all. Perhaps some dogs are so awed by their owners that they feel the need to signal their ongoing deference by face licking. Call it love, if you will.

One other thing we should always bear in mind is that any behavior can be enhanced learning. Psychologist BF Skinner immortalized the concept that reward increases the likelihood of a response. So it is with licking. If a dog licks his owner's face – perhaps as a vestige of maternal lip licking, perhaps out of anxiety, or just because his owner's face tastes salty – and his behavior is greeted with attention, hugs and (human) kisses, he will likely repeat the behavior in future. In such cases the dog learns just how to push he owners buttons and the owner becomes analogous to a vending machine.

So while face licking may not represent true romantic love, it nevertheless can sometimes be interpreted as some token of a dog's affection or respect ... and that is nothing to sniff at.

Why Three or More Times?

If you have ever wondered why dogs turn around several times before flopping down?


They have been genetically programmed to trample their sleeping areas in the wild so that the grass is tamped down to make a comfortable resting place.

Although your dog may have the finest dog bed money can buy, he still feels the urge to circle before lying down, even in the comfort of the modern home. It is nature at work. Nature is the reason dogs gobble their food. The most successful survivors were able to eat fast before other members of the pack could grab a share. Wild dog cousins did not know when his next meal would come, so being the fastest gorger was a real advantage.

A fair question to ask is whether these innate traits will ever disappear? The answer is, only if we want them to. The natural evolution of dogs has been superseded by centuries of deliberate breeding. Dogs exhibiting strong retrieving instincts, high intelligence, and friendliness, for example, have been selectively bred with other dogs showing the same traits to create the retrievers of today. Likewise, undesirable traits can be bred out of dogs, if we so desire.

Because there is no reason to eliminate the habit of turning around three times before lying down, dogs will probably keep making sure their doggy beds are tamped down to their satisfaction, even though the practice is now unnecessary.

What Does A Wagging Tail Mean?

A wagging tail does not necessarily mean a dog is friendly.

What does it mean?

A dog's tail position and motion is incorporated as a component of a complex system of body language that domestic dogs use (along with "verbal" cues such as barking, growling or whining) in order to communicate. A wagging tail indicates excitement or agitation. But whether the dog means it as an invitation to play, or to warn another dog or person to stay back, depends on other body language.

A slowly wagging tail that curves down and back up into a "U" usually indicates a relaxed, playful dog.

If his ears are erect and pointing forward, and he is in the classic "play bow" position, he is inviting you to play.

A tail that is held higher, whether wagging or not, indicates dominance and/or increased interest in something. If the end of the tail arches over the back, and is twitching, you may be faced with an aggressive dog.

Tail position and movement is simply used as a social indicator for other living things. Dogs generally do not wag their tails when they are alone. For example, if you pour your dog a bowl of food, he may wag his tail excitedly at the prospect of eating. But if he finds the bowl already filled – without anyone being around – he will usually not wag his tail. He may still be happy to eat, but there is no one around with whom to communicate his happiness.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How To Introduce Two Dogs

Thinking about getting another dog? Let's talk about the right way to introduce two dogs.

1. Keep it friendly - It may be possible to introduce the dogs in a relaxed manner by just letting them sniff and play, as long as both are known to be friendly with other dogs.

2. Take it slow - If you are not sure how the dogs will react, start off cautiously by taking them for a walk together on neutral territory (e.g. a park, not your yard). When they show friendly behavior toward each other or begin to ignore each other, move the exercise to your back yard. Finally, allow the dogs to be together in your home.

3. Watch for signs - Be aware that wagging tails do not necessarily mean that dogs are happy to see each other. A straight up tail that wags stiffly is a dominant sign that may signal aggression. If one dog's tail is tucked down between its legs, that dog is afraid and nervous. This calls for a gradual, well-supervised approach to avoid making the dog even more fearful. If a dog's tail is horizontal and wagging in a relaxed fashion, it's all systems go!

4. The dominant dog will emerge - When the dogs eventually meet off-leash, one of them is going to need to establish dominance. This is a normal and necessary step in a dog-dog relationship, but sometimes the process can look and sound pretty scary. The dogs will maneuver around each other and may even scuffle to the point at which one dog ends up on his back, with the other dog standing over him. There may be some nipping and grabbing of the neck or throat. Try not to worry too much when this happens. It is normal for dogs to engage in such roughness. Once the dominant dog establishes himself, he probably will not feel the need to repeat these maneuvers.

5. Support the dominant dog - Once the dogs are together, make sure that you support one dog as dominant (this will probably be the resident dog). Show him that he is number one. He should be fed first, petted first, given attention first and given the favorite sleeping area. Do not expect the dogs to share. Sharing is not normal for most dogs. Feed the dogs separately (across the room) and do not give really delicious chew toys (rawhides, pig ears) at first. Once the hierarchy is secure, you will probably be able to give the dogs all the chew toys they want.

Introducing a new dog into the home can be a lot simpler when it is done correctly. Do not get upset when the resident dog tells the newcomer to "bug off." This is how the new dog learns the house rules. Eventually they should become fast friends.

If you are thinking of getting another dog - think about the related costs and make sure that you can afford it. Some people think it is just a matter of buying a little more food, but it is much more than that. Having a dog is a BIG responsibility and it can be very expensive. When you increase the number of dogs, you also increase your responsibilities and costs. At a minimum, a dog costs you between $600 to $1,000 or more each year. Costs increase if you board your dog or if your dog has medical problems - and as we all know, medical care can be very expensive.