Sunday, September 30, 2012

Appropriate Chewing

Dogs chew!

In fact, it is a very important part of being a dog. Chewing is a natural way that dogs explore their world, whether they are a puppy or a senior.

How do you get your dog to chew on appropriate items?

First, clear your dog's environment of things you do not want him to chew on. That means picking up shoes, toys, and other objects you do not want destroyed or that can harm your pet if chewed.

Always provide your dogs with tasty, safe chew toys. As you leave for work in the morning, leave him a toy stuffed with treats to help reinforce the idea of appropriate chewing.

When you catch your dog chewing something he should not, firmly tell him "No!". Quickly replace the inappropriate item with a tasty chew toy. Lavish praise as he starts chewing the toy. Reprimanding your dog for inappropriate chewing MUST always be immediate and ONLY when he is caught in the act - never after the chewing is already done.

So how can appropriate chew toys help your pet?

If the toy is designed for promoting dental hygiene, it can help support dental health by helping to scrape away plaque, tartar buildup, and help maintain healthy gums. The right ingredients can even help doggy breath.

A good chew toy can provide stimulating activity by challenging your dog's mind and keeping him entertained. This is especially important for older dogs that may typically be less active.

A safe, well-designed chew toy can help satisfy your dog's innate urge to chew and help avoid destructive chewing behavior from both puppies and adult dogs.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do Loud Noises Scare Your Dog?

Is your dog afraid of loud noises?

Many dogs are. You can not really blame them…they do not know that the noises will not hurt them. All they know is that the sounds seem to come from nowhere, and that they are very scary. Some dogs are so frightened by these sounds that they even have seizures. Loud noises are one of the top phobias that dogs experience. Some dogs will exhibit signs of fear that can include pacing, panting, trembling, salivating, trying to escape and/or barking. Many dogs will actually injure themselves when trying to escape.

What can you do to help keep your dog calm when there are loud noises around?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Consider not putting your dog in noisy situations. Make sure that your dog will be calm at home, or take them to a friend’s house where it will be quiet. Keep your dog confined in a comfortable location if possible.

2. Do not try too hard to reassure your dog during a fearful event with petting, soothing words, or extra attention. This can sometimes exacerbate the problem by reinforcing your dog's fearful response.

3. Some dogs are very sensitive to people's moods and may be influenced by the way that you react to the noise. It is best to act happy and upbeat or to redirect your dog's attention to some absorbing activity.

4. If you must leave your dog at home when there will be loud noises, consider what would make your dog most comfortable. Bring your dog indoors. Would he feel safest in a crate? Try turning on a fan or air conditioner as "white noise". Make sure you provide a comfortable hiding place or "safe place" for your dog in case he is scared.

5. Pet anxiety studies have shown that music can have a calming effect on a stressed out pet. Classical music can be relaxing or look for CD's that are specifically designed for calming pets such as Music My Pet.

So, the best way to deal with this issue is to be prepared. Before the noises begin, anticipate your dog's reaction to them. Whenever possible try to avoid exposing your dog to noisy situations. If this is not possible (such as with thunderstorms), do everything that you can to make your dog feel more comfortable and secure. Talk to your dog in a light, cheerful tone that sends a comforting message that the noise is no big deal. Encourage your dog to find a quiet restful place to wait out the noise.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ingredients for a Happy Dog

Taking my dog, Ebony, in the car with me makes her happy. (especially when she gets to bring a friend!)

What makes your dog happy?

Here are three ingredients for a happy dog:

1. Play more often. When you tire your dog out they will have less energy to burn in less desirable ways. It sounds simple, but if your schedule does not include daily playtime for your dog, try adding it in.

2. Find a game your dog loves. Dogs are like humans: they have their own favorites, likes, and dislikes. Not all dogs like the same games and toys. Try experimenting to see what gets them excited and playing

3. Challenge them with a toy. If regular balls and bones are not enough to keep your dog out of trouble, consider giving them a puzzle toy. While many toys are great for keeping dogs busy, sometimes your dog needs a little more stimulation or challenge. These can include toys that work like puzzles, float, or randomly dispense treats.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Little Help From Our Friends

Yes, our dogs can be very helpful at times. This little Jack Russell Terrier, Jessie, makes work a breeze.

But, I would not eat the pancake!

Watch Jessie make work easy and fun......

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Many people wish to enroll their pets in an animal-assisted activity (AAA) or animal-assisted therapy (AAT) program. First, let us start with defining the difference between the two. Professionals discourage the term "pet therapy" because it actually refers to animal behavior training programs.

According to the Delta Society, a non-profit organization that encourages the use of companion animals to promote human health, animal-assisted activities are casual meetings between people and pets. There is no "session" between pet and person – activities are spontaneous. Likewise, there are no specific goals for treatment, and notes are not taken. The purpose is to bring a smile and some sunshine into someone's life.

For instance, visiting a nursing home with your pet and allowing residents to touch and pet your dog, without the presence of a doctor or therapist, would be considered an animal-assisted activity.

You should also be aware that these participants do not necessarily have to be a dog or cat. Well-behaved and approved pets such as birds, rabbits and guinea pigs can also be used in some programs.

On the other hand, animal-assisted therapy has a defined goal to treat a problem, and progress is measured carefully. The animal meets specific criteria to achieve that goal under the supervision of a medical professional. The sessions are carefully constructed to meet the treatment goals.

There are a number of organizations that are involved with training human and pet volunteers. The Delta Society is a good place to start. (You do not necessarily have to own or volunteer your pet. You can help organize events, assist setting up workshops and screenings, among other activities.)

You and your pet will undergo training and preparation in order to perform animal-assisted therapy.

First, your pet will be examined to ensure he is healthy and has had all necessary vaccinations. You will also need to show that you have basic control over your pet and that he knows the basic commands. In addition, he will go through training exercises that simulate the conditions he will likely work in.

Next, a training session is held. The length of sessions can vary from a day to more than 12 weeks, depending on the intensity of the program.

So, which is it for you and your dog AAA or AAT?