Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dogs at Home, Alone

Do you leave your dog alone at home?

Here are two videos of dogs left alone.

First one the dog entertains itself, and the second one
the dog gets into mischief.

I read that dog's were not cabable of feeling guilt, but the guilty look was just a reaction to your tone of voice and actions.

Denver definitely feels guilty!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Peanut Butter and Dogs

Have you given your dog peanut butter?

Dogs LOVE peanut butter.

I have always put peanut better in Ebony's Kong which is a super-strong rubber toy that is hollow. It is claimed to be the "World's Best Dog Toy." What I know is that Ebony is busy and happy with a Kong full of peanut butter. Some people freeze it which definitely adds time to the dog's enjoyment!

Try these recipes for homemade dog treats with peanut butter:

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Combine oil, peanut butter and water. Add flour, one cup at a time, forming a dough.
3. Knead dough into firm ball and roll to 1/4 inch thickness.
4. Cut into 3 to 4 inch pieces. You can use cookie cutters if you like.
5. Place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Peanut Butter Bones

1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 cup milk
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup chicken stock 1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose white flour


Preheat oven to 325 ° F (165 ° C).

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in water. In a large saucepan, mix together the potatoes, milk, molasses, stock, and peanut butter. Heat, stirring frequently until boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Add yeast mixture. Gradually blend in the egg, wheat, rye, and rice flours. Add enough white flour to form a stiff dough.

Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Shape the dough into a ball and roll to 1/2-inch (12 mm) thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out biscuits. Place on ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4-inch (6 mm) apart. Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut additional biscuits.

Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool overnight. Makes several dozen bones that freeze well--and have the consistency of pizza crusts, a favorite snack for most spoiled dogs!

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

½ cups water(add more water later if required)
½ cup oil
2 eggs
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup oats


Blend wet ingredients together. Whisk dry ingredients together and mix into wet mixture to form a ball of dough. Roll out and shape. Put onto a non-stick cookie tray or lightly greased one. Cook 20 minutes at 400 F. Turn off oven and allow the biscuits to cool in oven until crisp and hard. Store in airtight container.

Peanut Butter n' Honey Crunchies

1/4 cup honey
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 cups chicken broth or water
1/3 cup peanut oil 1 cup rolled oats
1 cup oat bran
3-4 cups oat flour


Preheat oven to 350 ° F (180 ° C).

In a small dutch oven or large saucepan, combine honey, peanut butter (try to find a brand that has no added suger, salt or other ingredients; ideally it should only contain peanuts), chicken broth, and peanut oil. Heat, stirring often, until mixture begins to simmer. Remove from heat. Stir in rolled oats and oat bran and let cool until lukewarm -- or cool enough to work with. Gradually blend in oat flour, adding enough to form a stiff dough.

Transfer to a floured (oat flour or rye flour) surface and knead until smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Shape the dough into a ball, and roll to 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick. Use a mini-cookie cutter or cut into small squares. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart. Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut additional biscuits. If the dough becomes too crumbly to work with after a few rollings, sprinkle with a little water to bind it together and knead it for 30 seconds or so.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and turn over. Bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides. After you finish baking all batches of biscuits, turn off the oven, spread all the biscuits in one baking pan and set them in the oven to cool for a few hours or overnight. The extra time in the oven as it cools off helps make the treats crispier. These make a more delicate crunchy biscuit.

Makes several dozen small treats that keep and freeze well.

Peanut Butter Puppy Poppers

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1 cup milk


Preheat oven to 375'F. In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk, then add to dry ingredients and mix well. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Bake for 20 minutes on a greased baking sheet until lightly brown. Cool on a rack, then store in an airtight container.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Smartest Dog

The Border Collie breed is rank number one for intelligence and trainability.

The workaholic of the dog world, the Border Collie is the world’s premier sheep herder, prized for its intelligence, extraordinary instinct and working ability. It is a medium-sized dog and very athletic. The breed controls livestock with stalking movement and an intense gaze known as "eye."

In the border country between Scotland and England, Border Collies (first classified as the "Scotch Sheep Dog") were invaluable to shepherds by allowing them to maintain large flocks of sheep. The breed as we know it today has been around for more than 100 years. In the second half of the 19th century, Queen Victoria spotted a Border Collie and became an active enthusiast. At this point, the divergence between our modern Collie and the Border Collie began.

Is it the right breed of dog for me?

This high-drive breed is extremely energetic and requires exercise beyond just a walk around the block or a romp in the yard. They thrive when they have a job to do and space to run. Due to their tendency to herd objects and people, they do best with mature, well-behaved children. They love their families, but may be somewhat reserved with strangers. They are seasonal shedders, and require regular brushing.

Watch Dazzle dazzle you with her abilities.....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cookies and Pupcakes

Now you can give your dog a cookie or cupcake without guilt.

Here are two dog friendly recipes:

Cheese Cookies


2 cups flour
1 ¼ cups cheese
1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 to 5 Tbsp water


Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit.
Mix all ingredients well.
Bake for 10 minutes.

Banana Pupcakes

Perfect for doggie Birthday parties!


2 cups water
2 bananas
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 egg
3 Tbsp honey


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mash bananas add the rest of the ingredients to the mashed bananas.
Mix well.
Pour batter into cupcake pans.
Bake for 20 minutes

I wonder if Ebony would share? These sound tasty.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Do I Have Your Attention?

Dogs engage in a little attention getting behavior from time to time, and there is nothing particularly wrong with that – as long as the behavior stays within reasonable limits.

But what you have to remember is that your dog will quickly learn what works and what does not according to how you respond. If you always (or even worse, sometimes) cave in to unreasonable requests, you will get even more of the obnoxious behavior in the future. The principle involved is "positive reinforcement," which effectively ensures that you reap what you sow. Even telling your dog to stop, or reprimanding him, can be rewarding for some dogs. The principle here is that some attention, even negative attention, is better than no attention at all.

Does this sound familiar to raising children? Yes, it is!

Attention seeking behavior can reach serious proportions. Take, for example, a dog that is always barking in your face to maintain your undivided attention, or one that constantly jumps on you or paws you whenever you are talking with a friend. Some dogs try to attract attention by stealing things and chewing them up or even swallowing them. Your hysterical reaction, yelling and chasing the dog to get the object back, can be just what the attention-needy dog wants. The game "keep away" that results is, apparently, a whole lot of fun for the dog – especially if you wave your arms around and scream a lot.

What to Do About It

The main principle behind treating attention-seeking behaviors is to ignore the behavior. But it does not work right away. In fact, the behavior may get worse, even more intense or more demanding, before it eventually fades away. It is as if the dog is thinking, "That's odd – this used to work. I had better try even harder to make it work again."

It might go like this:

1. Owner ignores unwanted behavior, say, stealing objects.

2. Dogs steals more items, more often and dances around in front of the owner to try to get him to intervene or chase him.

3. Owner continues to ignore the behavior.

4. Dog starts to lose confidence in this attention-getting technique and performs it less frequently.

5. Owner continues to ignore the dog's charades.

6. Dogs attention seeking behavior eventually peters out.


If you give in intermittently, or succumb to your dog's charades after a lengthy period of trying to "tough it out," you will actually reinforce the behavior even more firmly. The dog learns that if he keeps it up, attention will eventually come his way.

How to Hasten Successful Treatment

Use of a "bridging stimulus" can help speed up successful treatment. A bridging stimulus is a neutral signal or cue that heralds a particular consequence. The actual stimulus could be the sound of a duck call or clap, or click. The noisemaker is sounded at the time the dog is engaging in the unwanted behavior to signal that the owner is about to withdraw attention, perhaps even leave the room. You must follow through after issuing the cue. It must always signal immediate withdrawal of your attention or the dog will fail to make an association between its unwanted behavior and the inevitable consequence.

What the bridging stimulus does is focus the dog's attention on that point in time when attention withdrawal is imminent. It is not intended to be aversive but rather to be a consistent herald of what is to follow. Attention behavior will melt away more consistently and rapidly if a bridging stimulus is used than if attention withdrawal is employed on its own without such a signal.

Philosophical Considerations

If a dog is always begging for attention there must be a reason. It may be that the dog is being ignored at home or that he is spending too much time alone or in a crate. It may be that the dog is getting insufficient exercise or mental stimulation and has excess steam to blow off or has nothing better to do. It is important to address these issues, too, rather than just trying to stop the dog from doing something that annoys you. Attention-seeking behavior may be merely the tip of an iceberg of discontent.


Dogs that display attention-seeking behaviors are needy individuals that are probably under duress or are in some emotional conflict. Pretty much, any behavior can be reinforced as an attention seeking behavior: Attention-seeking components may be involved in various other behavior problems, too. The attention-hungry dog will do whatever works best to get you to pay more attention to him.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dog Rescue Groups

When the movie 101 Dalmatians aired in 1996, children and parents clamored to get a Dalmatian. It did not take long for people to realize that they could not meet the needs of this excitable breed that requires a tremendous amount of exercise and attention. Shelters soon filled up with unwanted Dalmatians.

This is when the Dalmatian Club of America came into existence. This national organization helped rescue thousands of Dalmatians.

Rescue groups have been a natural outgrowth of dog clubs that specialize in maintaining purebred dogs. Too often, people see a dog that looks interesting or is a popular breed and they purchase a puppy without investigating the breed's characteristics.

People unprepared for the demands of certain breeds quickly become disenchanted and get rid of the dog. In response, those who have a love and understanding of specific dog breeds have developed rescue groups. The majority of these rescue groups are for a particular breed, though some rescue shelters are open to all dogs.

Purebred Dog Rescue

Breed rescue groups have a vested interest in saving their particular type of dog. Because they understand a breed's requirements, they can assess the dog's behavior, training needs and suitability for placement. They know what type of family a Dalmatian, for instance, would be most happy in. This insight dramatically reduces stress on families, the dogs and ultimately humane shelters, where many dogs unfortunately wind up.

Beware of so-called "rescue groups" that attempt to sell rescued dogs for a profit, particularly those that sell to pet stores. While it is perfectly natural to recoup some of the fees for maintaining the dog, the fees should not be constituted as the "price" for a particular dog. Moreover, a rescue group will spend time talking with you about your particular family and living situation to determine if you are right for the dog. The last thing a rescue group wants to see is a dog returned, once again, after placement.

A reputable rescue group will also not attempt to breed a rescued dog for two reasons: any undesirable traits can be passed to the offspring; and breeding dogs only adds to the problem of overpopulation.

If you are looking for a dog of a specific breed and do not care too much about lineage or American Kennel Club papers, consider contacting a breed rescue organizations. These dogs can make great pets, as long as they are with a family that understands them.

Contact your local veterinarian or shelter to find the names and information for breed rescue organizations in your area. You can also search the Internet. In addition, the AKC Web site lists the official dog club contact information. Individual clubs are often affiliated with rescue organizations.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A New Toy For My Dog

This new dog toy I found looks like it will last a long time and provide hours of play for Ebony.

Meet WILEY.....

His long legs are made of super tough nylon seat belt material and each leg has a small textured rubber ball that slides back and forth on the leg. Wiley can withstand chewing, tossing, tugging and endless bouncing. Kibble can even be added to Wiley's treat-ready head. Wiley is available in 3 sizes. It is made by Hugglehounds which is known for their durable toys.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Full Moon Activity

Do full moons influence animal behavior,
or is that just a fanciful myth?

According to the latest research, pets get into more mischief and are injured more often during certain phases of the lunar cycle, particularly when the moon is fullest.

The study, authored by Raegan Wells, DVM, and her colleagues at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, revealed a link between an increase in emergency room visits for dogs and cats during days when the moon is at or near its fullest.

Wells said this is the first time the lunar cycle's relationship to emergency veterinary medicine has been studied. The study, titled "Canine and feline emergency room visits and the lunar cycle,” appears in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The data, compiled from case histories of 11,940 dogs and cats treated at the university's Veterinary Medical Center, indicates that the risk of emergencies on fuller moon days was 23 percent greater in cats and 28 percent greater in dogs when compared with other days.

"If you talk to any person, from kennel help, nurse, front-desk person to doctor, you frequently hear the comment on a busy night, 'Gee is it a full moon?'" said Wells. "There is the belief that things are busier on full-moon nights."

Of course, superstition alone does not make for good science, but this research indicates that long held belief may be based in fact. But despite the baffling results, Wells doesn't know what sort of connection is at play here.

But just what is behind the pet emergency and full moon correlation, however, is not at all clear. One theory is that since there’s more light out, people and their pets may be more likely to be out getting into mischief. So, what does all this mean for pet owners?

Biggest FULL MOON in almost 20 years!

On March 19th, a full Moon of rare size and beauty will rise in the east at sunset. It's a super "perigee moon."

Where will your dog be?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dog Salad

Does your dog eat grass?

Nearly every dog eats grass sometimes, and some dogs eat it all the time. You would think that veterinarians would have a pretty good idea by now of why they do it. But they do not, mainly because no one has figured out how to ask dogs two important questions: “Do you like the taste?” and “If it tastes so good, why do you throw it up?”

Dog's have very liberal tastes. Dogs survived by scavenging. When they could not catch live prey, which was a lot of the time, they would eat the ancient equivalent of roadkill. When meat was not available, they would root around for tender leafy stalks, or roots, or an old polished bone. They are predisposed to like just about everything.

In addition, there’s some evidence that dogs get cravings for certain foods. It is possible that dogs occasionally get a hankering for greens, just as people do. It is not as strange as it may sound. Grass was part of their ancestors’ regular diets.

Dogs are omnivores, which means they eat meat as well as plants. They do not need grassy nutrients any more because most commercial dog foods are nutritionally complete. But dogs are not nutritionists. They do not know or care that they have gotten their vitamin or mineral quotients from a bowl of kibble. Their instincts tell them that grass is good, so they eat it. For many dogs, a mouthful of grass clearly tastes great. It is like a salad – they eat some, then want more.

It is a myth that dogs eat grass when they are sick, but watch out what grass your dog is eating.

Dogs have been eating grass for thousands or tens of thousands of years, and there is no evidence at all that it is bad for them. That is not the case, however, when grass has been treated with insecticides, herbicides, or other chemicals. Most products say on the label whether they are dangerous for pets. In any event, you should certainly keep dogs away from grass soon after chemicals have been applied. Most products break down fairly quickly, but they can be quite dangerous if your dog eats them while they are fresh.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Little Things That Dogs Do

Dogs do wonderful little unexpected things
that can put a smile on your face.


1. The sound of a wagging or thumping tail when all else is quiet
2. Dogs that "listen" to you
3. Dogs that look in your eye like they know what you are thinking or feeling
4. Watching a hungry dog eat well
5. Watching a sick dog start to eat
6. The look of happiness when you pet or talk to a dog
7. A dog's warm welcome when you come home
8. The excitement dogs feel when they are about to go "outside"
9. The lazy look of a sleeping happy dog
10. Affectionate "kisses"
11. When your dog brings you a toy and asks you to play
12. Seeing a dog's joy when he gets to run around outside and have fun
13. When a dog rolls over and lets you rub his tummy

Yes, dogs are special!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Dogs Wag Their Tails

True or False?

There are many myths about dogs, and this one falls into that category.

It may be true that happy dogs wag their tails, but aggressive dogs often wag their tails too.

There are several physical body motions and cues that help dogs communicate their intent. A wagging tail can mean either agitation or excitement. A dog that wags his tail slowly and moves his entire rear end or crouches down in the classic "play bow" position is usually demonstrating a friendly wag.

Tails that are wagged when held higher, tails that "twitch" or a wagging tail held over the back may be associated with aggression.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Part 6
Other Measures

The previous blogs have talked about training methods and behavior modification techniques for dogs with separation anxiety. Here are some other measures to eliminate separation anxiety in dogs.

Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training and attention) should be associated with this area of the home.

Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices.

A decrease in some fear and anxiety has been seen in conditions when some dogs are switched from a high protein, high energy food to a low protein (16 to 22 percent), "all-natural" diet (with no artificial preservatives). Nature's Recipe Lamb and Rice is a good choice. You may wish to feed your dog a low protein diet for a trial period of 2 to 4 weeks to see if it makes a difference in her behavior. If no improvement is seen, you can switch back to the original diet. Dietary changes should be made gradually, usually over 3 days, in order to avoid gastrointestinal upsets.


Medication is often used in conjunction with the above treatment strategies and is generally helpful. Traditionally antidepressants like clomipramine (Clomicalm®), fluoxetine (Prozac®) or amitriptyline (Elavil®) are recommended. Clomicalm® has recently been FDA approved for use in dogs to treat separation anxiety.

Some dogs with separation anxiety actually manage to escape from the house so be sure that they wear identification tags on a buckle collar. You may also want to consider tattooing or microchipping your dog so she can be identified if she panics and escapes.

Audio or video recordings of your dog's behavior when you are away can help confirm a diagnosis of separation anxiety and can be helpful to allow you to monitor her improvement.

You may have wondered about getting a pet for your dog, so she will not be lonely when you are away. This almost never works because the excessively tight bonding is between you and your dog, not between another animal and your dog. Having company has little effect on the distress most dogs feel when you are away.

Dogs should never be punished for the physical consequences of their distress when separated from you. In fact, punishment can exacerbate any underlying anxiety and worsen the behavior problem. Dogs do not make the association between making a mess and being punished for it at a later time. They also cannot reason that if they do not make a mess in the future, they will not be punished.

Owners often report that the dog looks "guilty" when they return home to destruction or urine or feces on the floor. The dog is not exhibiting guilt as we know it. Your dog has learned that when you are present and a mess exists, she is in trouble. If someone who had never scolded your dog went into the house, and a mess was present, your dog would not look "guilty." In an attempt to avoid punishment, your dog may respond with submissive postures which you misinterpret as "guilt" or "remorse." Submissive postures are actually an effort to appease you and avoid confrontation.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Part 4
Independence Training Program

Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program to eliminate separation anxiety in dogs. It involves teaching your dog to "stand on her own four feet" when you are present, with the express intention that her new found confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement.

Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for most owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive.

The essential components of the independence training program are as follows:

Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions so your dog, and it shouldn't be permitted to, demand attention. If every time you give your dog attention when she whines, you can foster the dog's dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when she engages in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to her when she appears to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no emollient talk or body language, all of which will reward her attention-seeking mission.

Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so your dog develops a sense of independence.

Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching her to remain relaxed in one spot, such as her bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train her to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that she holds the command and remains at a distance from you.

If your dog will not remain in a sit or down-stay on command, and insists on following, you can make use of a tether. It is best to introduce your dog to tethering gradually. Tethering is never a substitute for training; it's simply a tool to use to reach the ultimate goal. Have your dog's bed and favorite toy available so she is comfortable and has something to do. This exercise should be enjoyable – it is not meant to be a punishment or a time out.

Once your dog has learned the basic obedience commands, you can train her to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a "down-stay" on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as "lie down." Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, she should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once she has figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward] as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks her "stay," issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort her back to her bed. She should soon learn that if she breaks the stay, she will be put back, but will be rewarded by staying put.

First, your dog can be made to "down-stay" while you are in the room but otherwise occupied. Next she can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog are increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, she needs to accept the praise without breaking the stay.

Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room in which you are doing something (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once she is able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you.

Your dog should not be allowed to sleep in bed with you as this only fosters dependence. In fact, it is best if your dog is not even allowed to sleep in your bedroom. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in her own bed on the floor in your bedroom. She may have to be taken to her bed several times before she gets the message that you really want her to sleep in her own bed. If your dog will not follow instructions, you may need to tie her to a fixture in the room with a short tether.

Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once she tolerates sleeping in her own bed in your bedroom, you can move her bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep her out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in her bed.

More behavior modifications for separation anxiety in dogs will follow in the next blog.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Part 5
Behavior Modification for Departures

The intention of this blog is to give you some training ideas for a dog with separation anxiety.

Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately this often exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore the dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog's day by making it a "happy time" and the time at which she is fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior.

You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety.

Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors you leave and return can also mix up cues for your dog.

When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on).

Another technique:

The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months.

Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog's tendency to display the behavior because it has the desired effect of reuniting the "pack" members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety.

Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Part 3
Behavior Modifications

This blog will focus on some behavior modifications for separation anxiety in dogs. Previous blogs described the disorder, possible causes, and how separation anxiety presents itself in dogs.

Behavior modification for separation anxiety:

It is recommended that owners should give their dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat only when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner's departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys similarly enhanced (place in the freezer before giving it to the dog to make it last longer). Give the bone to the dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by the owner's departure.

Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner's departure is less stressful.

In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display "barrier frustration," the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving her alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience.

"Doggie Daycare" or hiring a pet sitter often is a better alternative for dogs that initially are resistant to treatment.

Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program to eliminate separation anxiety in dogs. It involves teaching your dog to "stand on her own four feet" when you are present, with the express intention that her new found confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement.

Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for most owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive.

The next blog will focus on the essential components of the independence training program for treatment of separation anxiety in dogs.

Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Part 2

The previous blog gave an overview of separation anxiety in dogs and its possible cause. This blog will focus on how dogs display separation anxiety.


Unwanted behavioral signs of separation anxiety are only seen when the owner is absent, or when the dog is prevented from being close to the owner (at night, for instance). Under such circumstances, a needy dog is in a high state of anxiety because she wants to be with her owner and is prevented from doing so. Dogs, like people, cannot stay in a high state of anxiety for long, and must do something to relieve the tension.

To reduce the tension, dogs may engage in destructive behavior, house soiling, and distress vocalization. Other signs may include a reduced activity level, depression, loss of appetite, ritualized pacing, aggression when the owner leaves (mouthing, growling, nipping, or body blocking), excessive grooming, diarrhea, vomiting, panting and salivation. Signs of over-attachment when the owner is home include excessive following behavior, anxious behaviors associated with signals that the owner is preparing to depart, and exuberant greetings.

Excessive chewing, digging and scratching tends to occur in areas near doors and windows ("barrier frustration"). Damage in such areas is virtually diagnostic of separation anxiety. These areas represent exit routes for the dog as it attempts to reunite herself with the owner or, at least, to escape the loneliness. If the dog is confined to a crate, or its movements are restricted by a gate, destruction is usually centered around the crate door or the gate itself. The dog may seriously injure itself during these escape attempts. Attempts to free itself from barriers may result in broken nails or teeth, a bloody mouth, or more extensive injuries from tearing through glass and wood. Dogs may also destroy property that carries the owner's scent, such as bedding, furniture, clothing, or shoes.

Barking, howling and whining are other common signs of separation anxiety. Distress vocalization and active seeking behavior occur when many social animals are separated from their companions. Such distress vocalizations represent the dog's attempt to reunite the social unit. Excessive vocalization may occur primarily at the time of the owner's departure or may continue throughout the duration of the owner's absence. Owners are often unaware that their dog is distressed by the departure and it is only when neighbors complain about the excessive barking or howling that they become aware that their dog has a separation problem.

Dogs with separation anxiety may become so distressed in their owners' absence that they urinate or defecate in the house. When this occurs only in the owner's absence, such "inappropriate" elimination is not indicative of a loss of house training but rather is a physiological response to the extreme distress the dog is experiencing from being alone. House soiling typically occurs within 30 minutes of the owner's departure as the dog becomes more anxious.

The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when its owner leaves, the distress it feels is reinforced until it becomes absolutely frantic every time the dog is left alone.

The next blog will focus on treatment and behavior modification for separation anxiety in dogs.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Part 1

Dogs are social animals that form strong bonds with people, so it is not surprising that they may feel somewhat anxious when separated from their social group. Most dogs adapt well to the typical daily separation from their owners. Unfortunately, problems can arise when an overly dependent dog develops a dysfunctionally strong attachment to its owners. The dog with separation anxiety is distinguished by signs of distress when left alone and over-attachment when the owner is present.

Separation anxiety may be manifested as destruction of the owner's property and other behaviors that may be harmful for the dog or annoying for people sharing the dog's immediate environment.

It is important to realize that dogs with separation anxiety are not doing these things to get even with the owner for leaving, out of boredom, or due to lack of obedience training. These dogs are not being destructive out of "spite" or "anger". They are truly distressed when left behind.

Consider instead that the dog's dependence on the owner is so great that it becomes anxious when the owner leaves. The dog must find an outlet for this anxiety, and its methods of doing so may cause considerable damage. Also consider that, no matter how flattering a dog's constant attention to its owners may seem, it is not fair to the dog to allow it to be so stressed by the owner's absence that it must resort to one of these unwanted behaviors to alleviate inner tension.

For some dogs, the anxiety associated with being left alone becomes evident to their owners soon after they join the household. In some cases, dogs may be genetically predisposed to anxiety but inappropriate or insufficient socialization experiences during the puppyhood is the most likely cause. For some dogs, no initiating trigger can be identified. Symptoms of separation anxiety may develop gradually over time or may appear in full-blown form the first time they are left alone.

The onset of separation anxiety sometimes occurs after the dog is exposed to an experience that disrupts its social bond. This can occur when owners board the dog for vacation or change their work schedule. It may also occur when a household member leaves or dies, or when the dog is relocated to a new house or household.

Overly indulgent owners may promote separation distress in predisposed dogs. Owners of dogs that show separation distress are often nurturing, empathetic people who indulge their dog. They allow the dog to follow them around the house and encourage the exuberant welcome the dog gives them when they return home. Somewhat less-nurturing (but by no means neglectful) owners may help instill independence in the dog thus circumventing the worst throes of the problem and permitting its gradual resolution.

Separation anxiety may be confused with other separation-related behavior problems that occur in the owner's absence. A lack of stimulation leads some dogs to engage in excessive and destructive "exploring," barking and other nuisance behavior. This type of problem does not necessarily indicate a dysfunctional bond with the owner.


It is widely held that dogs with a dysfunctional background (adopted from shelters, puppy mills, pet stores, dogs that have had multiple owners or traumatic handling early in life) are more prone to separation anxiety. Whether this is because these dogs were relinquished or abused, or whether the condition emerged after their abandonment, is not known for certain. Certainly, inadequate early socialization is a concern with puppy mill and pet store dogs, but not all dogs acquired from these facilities develop separation anxiety.

It also has been reported that mixed breed dogs appear to suffer from separation anxiety more commonly than purebred dogs. Since more mixed breed dogs are obtained from shelters than purebred dogs, this raises a question: Does exposure to a shelter environment predispose some dogs to develop separation anxiety or are more mixed breed dogs relinquished to a shelter as a result of preexisting separation related issues?

It is possible that some dogs are genetically predisposed to develop stronger than normal attachment to members of their social group. Logically, we would predict that these dogs would be more submissive in temperament. Such dogs may belong to breeds that have been genetically selected to form overly tight bonds with owners in order to perform a "job," such as hunting or herding.

Dogs that develop separation anxiety are often young dogs. However, geriatric dogs may develop separation anxiety in response to physical discomfort accompanying old age. These dogs become less independent and more emotionally attached to the owners as a consequence of their infirmity.

How do you know if your dog has separation anxiety?

Next blog will talk more about this.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dog Park Etiquette

Whether you go to a park that warmly invites dogs or to one that merely tolerates their presence, there are a few points of etiquette that you and your dog should follow.

A Park of Their Own?

The first point of etiquette is: are dogs allowed? As you approach that beautiful sea of green grass, you may confront a harsh reality: the ugly sign prohibiting dogs in the park.

Law-abiding person that you are, you turn away. To do otherwise could earn you a fine. But now what? With more than 700 dog parks scattered throughout the United States, this may mean a bit of a drive. But as more communities enact leash laws, dog parks are increasing in number.

For the uninitiated, a dog park is generally defined as a park where dogs and owners are encouraged to visit and has amenities designed to make the visit more pleasant. Some parks are enclosed and some are not.

Your dog should be fully vaccinated before taking him to any park. Preferably the dog should be spayed or neutered.

Doggie Etiquette

On leash or off? Believe it or not, many dog parks request dogs to be off leash, unless dog and owner are specifically traveling from one end of the park to the other. According to officials, leashed dogs are intimidated by off-leash dogs; leashed, a dog knows he does not have the same freedom of movement and tends to react defensively or fearfully. You may want to let him run around with the leash still attached, so you can grab him at a greater distance, if need be.

At a general park, however, keep your dog on a leash. Not everyone is dog-friendly, but everyone does have the right to enjoy the park unmolested.

Dog fights. Because they are on "neutral territory" in a park, dogs have less to fight about. Even territorial dogs become friendlier when off their home turf. However, fights do occur occasionally. Dogs that have the most fun at parks are those that have been well socialized at an early age.

Health issues. It is extremely important for your dog to have all of his vaccinations up to date (rabies, parvo and distemper, for instance). Likewise, do not bring your dog if he's not feeling well. He may get even more sick or make another dog ill.

Human Etiquette

Overly friendly dogs. Think of your dog's behavior as a reflection on your own manners. Is it polite to let a child run up to strangers and kiss them repeatedly? Well, it is not polite to let your dog run up to other people uninvited and plant sloppy kisses on them either. This is a major complaint at dog parks. Your puppy may be just the cutest bundle of love on the planet, but he is best reserved for people who can appreciate him, i.e. you and your family.

Scoop the poop. The biggest complaints arise when nature calls. The park is NOT a convenient place to let your dog do his business. Scooping the poop is always the responsibility of the owner. Dog parks almost always make this necessary task easier by supplying bag stations and trashcans.

Sometimes people are honestly unaware of where their dogs go when they are unleashed. You should keep an eye on your dog at all times.

In parks that permit rather than invite dogs, baggies may not be available. It is even more crucial that you bring your own; if you do not you may find that a once dog-friendly park has been declared off-limits to canines.

Watch out for your children. Some dog parks will not allow children under 10. This is because young children may become frightened by a friendly dog, or could get knocked down and hurt accidentally. Check on the age requirements at the park near you. If you deem your children too small, or they are fearful of dogs, you may not want to bring them.

If you do not have a dog park within reasonable driving distance, you may want to think about starting one. You can start by getting a committed group of dog owners together and contacting your city or county representative. Stress the benefits to people as well as to dogs, and explain how the park can educate the public on responsible dog ownership. With some help and perseverance, you may establish a dog park of their own.

Good idea: I learned not to bring dog treats to a dog park as you will find that most dogs will sniff out the treats and follow you everywhere.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Brushing Your Dog's Teeth

Have you tried brushing your dog's teeth?

Many dogs hate having their teeth brushed - and it can be a real challenge. But good dental care is important to your dog's good health.

How do you to teach your dog to like it, or even tolerate it?

The first thing you can do is to be patient. When brushing your dog's teeth, give tons of positive reinforcement when your dog is tolerant and well behaved. BUT, some dogs are NOT tolerant and will bite. Please be careful so you do not get hurt.

Tooth brushing tips for dogs:

Get your dog used to touching around his mouth (assuming your dog has an even temperament). Pet your dog around the face. Look at his teeth. Gradually progress from first just touching the area to massaging the gum area.

Introduce a toothpaste that he likes. Some are meat, chicken, or fish flavored. You can allow your dog to lick it off your finger to start. Remember - give TONS of praise when he does well.

Introduce the toothbrush. You can gradually introduce the toothpaste by first allowing him to sniff it. Then you can even massage his face with it. Make sure he is not afraid of it before placing it in his mouth.

Eventually - combine the toothbrush and toothpaste together and brush your dog's teeth.

It can take days to weeks to get a dog to accept brushing. And some dogs will never allow you to do it.

But some dogs just never tolerate brushing.

If your dog will not let you brush, what can you do?
Try Dentastix® by Pedigree.

It is an X-shaped bone type treat with a special texture that helps clean between your dog's teeth as he chews, all the way down to the gum line. You can choose the size that best fits your dog's mouth. These tartar-control treats are very effective when used as part of a daily oral care routine - and they taste good, so your dog will look forward to eating them every day.