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How Does Environment Influence a Dog’s Behavior

dog environment behavior

Understanding your dog’s behavior and the environment

Dog behavior and environment are linked in a variety of ways. Every animal living on this planet, as well as humans, has adapted to a distinct environment that has transformed its way of life. But that’s just only a small part of a bigger problem. This is where things get serious and more complicated as you start to understand how great are the pressures your dog is experiencing from the environment.

Important factors to help understand dog behavior and environment.

  • The dog’s natural behavior temperaments.
  • Socialization level.
  • The dog’s relationship with humans
  • The dog’s surroundings.

Outside factors influencing a dog’s behavior

When we talk about the environment in relation to dog training, we are addressing the different distractions our dog experience.

dog walking around environmentDogs face different degrees of distractions every day and they are determined by the level and intensity at how they will react differently.

For example, a dog won’t give the same reaction if a van hits the horn 60 meters away from him as he would if it happened while passing right beside him. In this situation, the stimulus is the same (the van hitting the horn) but the intensity of the volume and the distance are different.

Most of the time the environment will always be different. And this is the critical factor why so many times we are not able to figure out why our dog behaves the way he does in some situations.

Dogs see the world in different ways from us and they will adapt their behavior based on even the very slightest change in their common surroundings.

If your dog is playing with your kids and their friends in your garden, that doesn’t mean your dog will behave the same way toward other kids if you bring him on the other side of the fence. Try to test your dog. Place some objects that are different in size, shape, and color from the surrounding environment, in the center of your room or in your backyard. Make it easily noticeable to your dog and observe your dog’s reaction.

Hardly will your dog get near the object immediately, quite often you will see aggressive dog behavior patterns that are a combination between defense and evasion, often the dog will likely attack the object or disconnect and act terrified, completely staying away from the object for several days or longer.

The reaction in such cases can change based on the dog’s inherited characteristics and temperaments and the degree of socialization and relationship, among others.

It is necessary when we mention dog behavior and environment, to refer to dog behavior patterns in unusual environments. Remember, you might realize that your dog has seen numerous vehicles in his life and that there was no point in misbehaving in some situations, but on the contrary, you may be in a place in which your dog is new to the environment.

There are hundreds and hundreds of different scenarios that may possibly happen. Regrettably, as a result of too little understanding and familiarity, many dog owners and dog trainers would use different fixes to their dogs in the situation stated earlier with the van’s horn, classifying the dog’s action as bad or disobedient.

The thing is that dogs will never conduct themselves or react without a reason. Therefore, rather than misjudging aim to determine what really happened.

How to manage these kinds of scenarios with these dog behaviors and environments?

Prevention is the most proper thing to do with your dog. Many dog owners are expecting the last moment when the problem is obvious or that their dog responds dangerously before addressing dog behavior and environment. To be able to prevent it, you must;

  • If you can acquire a puppy from a trusted dog breeder or owner who is concerned about the behavior level of breeding dogs.
  • Start puppy socialization period. Most dog owners delay this procedure when dogs are 9-10 months or older, generally, this is too late as the normal puppy socialization period must be finished in the first 16 weeks approximately. Puppy socialization is a complicated and properly organized process for which you have an only a short time to complete.

Keep in mind, puppy schools and puppy tutorial classes are most of the time, a waste of your time and money. There is absolutely no way for a dog to learn in a formal set-up, how your dog can learn from a single environment and condition.

  •  Establishing a relationship plays the main part in training you and your dog. With this approach, you become familiar with your dog and he will discover more about you. There are strategies described in this part of the website that explain how to communicate with your dog when experiencing a new environment as a way to help him lower the pressure and handle the situation better.

dog jumping for treatIn case you do all of the basic steps above and you applied all of them by the book that doesn’t mean that you and your dog won’t encounter issues at some point in the process.

Every dog anywhere runs into issues where their behavior is troubled by the environment even dogs who have won in competitions. The reason for this is because dogs reside in a human’s world and this is an unnatural place for them.

When problems arise, you can help your dog by finding the triggers that set off the dog behavior chain then modify and counter-condition them so that your dog can learn how to act in response the next time when confronted with the same situation.

Inherited dog behavior and environmental factors

Inherited behaviors of dogs play vital roles in knowing how a dog changes in response to the stress produced by the environment.

There are a variety of terminologies used by different dog experts (Dog trainers, Dog behaviorists, Animal scientists, Ethologists, Behavioral ecologists, Animal psychologists, etc..) all of them have pretty much given different expressions, but usually, they all describing the same thing.

Remember that throughout this webpage I may use many terms that you might be no stranger to, that is to be able to keep it straightforward and to keep the presentation more comprehensible and easy to read.

Among the genetically passed down behavior groups would be dogs with frightened-based behaviors, there are variations in their behavior that can range from nervous and timid dogs to fearful biters, and they are generally regarded as weak-nerved dogs.

Weak-nerved dogs have difficulties coping with daily environmental pressures, in the worst cases they have difficulties addressing excitement as well, usually dogs with this type of character either urinate or behave moderately aggressive when excited.

The best solution when dealing with these types of dogs is; proper Puppy Socialization, (normally, these dogs interact well to obedience activities), Building a relationship is important as this assist your dog when learning from new environments, not to mention you will need to start desensitizing and counter-conditioning as there will be various occasions in which your dog requires your help.

On the other side, there are solid nerve dogs. Solid nerve dogs display normal behavioral patterns that most beginner dog owners or dog trainers simply label wrongly as defiance or dominance, etc.

Solid nerve dogs exhibit boldness; they react little or even none at all in any environmental pressures. They are curious, much easier to distract, they love to explore and they get fed up easily. Usually, new dog owners may find issues handling dogs with these unreserved and demanding dog dispositions.

Dog socialization aspect

Dog socialization is a form of dog behavior patterns that concerns his social abilities and relationship to the surrounding environment.

This would be the formula of dog socialization. As I have mentioned in the Puppy Socialization part of the website, this is a procedure that has an expiration date. Regardless of what your dog learns by means of social interactions and different kinds of environmental encouragement and stressors within the first 16 weeks of his life will shape his behavior patterns when he matures. Everything that we try to do after that period is literally impossible to create and can only be changed or adapted. To put it simply, the box is now sealed.

How come? A dog’s intelligence starts to develop from that period and it is over 80% completed within the first 16 weeks of his life. That information is scientifically confirmed that a puppy brought up in a restricted environment will have a smaller brain compared to a puppy that had a rich environment to gain knowledge from. The former puppy’s brain will develop lesser nerve connections.

This is obviously one good reason why some dogs are likely to act foolishly in some situations. The environment is overwhelming since in this case, the dog doesn’t have the complete brain skills to deal with it. Just like, if you take a farm dog to an urban area you will observe a nervous animal that will keep crumbling at any given stimulus from that environment.

Can we deal with this? That starts with the dog, the degree of interactions, and many other factors. Basically, we can’t do much (except figuring out how to handle the issue) since the dog can’t utilize the nerve connections needed by his brain to accept specific new conditions.

This is exactly why I repeat regularly; don’t throw away your precious time on poorly organized Puppy Socialization lessons. Not a single thing in the workshop room can be trained to match real-world circumstances and environmental situations. Puppy Socialization lessons, if properly planned, can be integrated as an element of a puppy’s socialization program, but it may not be the only aspect of the plan. To discover more about how to design a complete socialization plan that’s suitable for your puppy, see the Puppy Socialization page. How positive or negative your dog will respond and behave in the environment where he will settle or visit, will vary mainly on everything that he will assimilate in the first 16 weeks of his life.

The connection between a dog and its owner or other people

Every dog owner must know how he truly knows his dog. Most of the time we talk about stories of how human our dogs are by describing some behaviors that we see in their everyday business, or we find reasons for why our dogs suddenly changed their behavior.

So many times, I’ve listened to dog owners justifying such things as their dog snarling at some people saying he is just an old and bad-tempered dog, or finding excuses for a dogfight or if a dog bites a person or other dogs in the surroundings.

Perhaps the important steps in every dog and owner’s life together, regardless if we are talking about service dogs, therapy dogs, hunting dogs, emotional support dogs, family pets, and others, should be building a good relationship.
A successful relationship centers on security, confidence, and teamwork. Regardless of how good a police dog can be trained, if the bond with his trainer is poor, a dog’s behavior will be poor as well.

You can find a section of the website labeled creating a relationship where you can learn more information about the ways that can enrich your communication with your dog.

This is a crucial part of and the basis for everything. It is impossible to successfully train your dog without a solid relationship, nor to help your dog overcoming different environmental pressures without the right team foundation. It is important to aid your dog, try to spend some time with your dog to familiarize him with the environment he has a problem dealing with.

Dogs will not likely participate in a play session as long as the situation is extremely overwhelming or potentially risky. By trying to play with him, this is offering a clear message to your dog that there is absolutely nothing to worry about since you are at ease and initiating play.

Communication and interaction with your dog is the right method to construct a relationship and trust. If you are participating in a local obedience class or working on any other type of dog training to help your dog behave to you, you’ve got the whole idea on the backside.

No level of rewards or scolding will make your dog dependably warm and friendly to you if there isn’t at first a healthy connection between you and your dog.

The same thing can be said of other people, friends, etc. Most of us know that a dog with low social skills will either keep away or become hostile towards unfamiliar people. If this situation is not corrected early, for example, if we introduce people like every one of them greets the dog with enthusiasm or giving him treats, we are either instilling to our dog that every person that he encounters may likely have something for him or, to get excited and to run to say hi to all the people inside.

What is wrong with this situation? Not everyone has dog treats, and not everyone likes to be with a dog. This is an incorrect display of the world to our dog which may give rise to an unwanted, confusing or even serious situation for both people and dogs. Not to forget that a thrilled dog is a hundred times much harder to get control of.

The proper way to introduce people is to make them a part of the environment and everyday routine. Level your dog’s response and your dog’s degree of pleasure when presenting new people. You can learn more about this topic in the Puppy Socialization page of this website.

In case you have a dog that reacts angrily to unfamiliar persons, no matter his age (whether the socialization phase is completed or not) you must help your dog learn handling situations like this in his everyday life. Properly modifying his temperaments and counter conditioning is the most effective strategies out there to help you manage these concerns.
dog laying on the floor

Where the dog lives can affect his behavior

This is the single most effective way and combined with the above-mentioned points You will come back to the beginning of all the things that make most of our dog’s behaviors.

The environment may spark and strengthen our dog’s natural drives (prey drive), but it surely may be the solution and reason for some territorial tendencies or aggression/frightened reactions as well.

Having a hunting dog that living near a homestead or woods (with lots of creatures around) may reinforce your dog’s hunting interests. However, an enclosed backyard with bustling traffic activities on the other side may pressure your guardian dog to exhibit defensive behaviors or the so-called dog fence aggression effect.

Just like anything in our dog’s life, the essential period of Puppy Socialization has the greatest role, how we present the environment or rather not acquaint him, is how our dog will come up with a behavior response for it. Take, for instance, even guardian dogs can live quietly in a fenced backyard with many different outside influences on the other side of the fence if this type of setting is introduced correctly. On the contrary, if we introduce a guardian dog to a backyard and don’t take appropriate measures about showing the environment, our dog will produce his own behavior response which with regard to guardian dogs will likely be showing his genetically passed down behavior, which is to protect his territory.

Another contributor that can change a dog’s behavior to the environment around him is the threat avoidance behavior that is controlled by instinct and fear. There are many behavior patterns that are the signs of terrified instincts. What causes your dog’s fear level? The answer rests on the breed, the dog’s level of socialization, environmental stressors, and the like.

There are numerous techniques that you can use to deal with this problem and they differ from creating a relationship that is the basis for an appropriate interaction and life with your dog. For example, Puppy Socialization which is a must thing to do for any dog owner who has a young puppy, some tutorial techniques to make your dog less sensitive, and counter-conditioning methods to help you eliminate some difficulties in your everyday dog’s life situations.

Since our dog is feeling fear and how fear condition our dog’s daily life is definitely a significant and fairly big topic (instinct can produce many different dog responses), there is a page on the website that explains dog behavior problems titled Fearful Dogs, in which you can find useful details that may help you identify different dog behavior groups to be able to help you focus on the issues that you may have with your dog.

Understanding your dog’s behavior and his surroundings can help your dog become more at ease and more productive in everyday life. Learning the basics will make your life trouble-free, and your dog training endeavors more effective.

Dog Training Fundamentals You Need to Learn

Fundamentals Dog Training

Apply the basics of dog training to get good results.

Many dog owners believe that training their dogs is hard. Others just say their dog breed is not trainable. The truth is these views are wrong because all dogs can be trained and teaching them some good skills are not that hard. If you train a dog it’s a lot of fun. There are breeds of dogs that are easily trainable compared to others.

The difference in opinion, however, is in the claim that there are breeds of dogs that are untrainable and this view is wrong. What I will teach are the basic methods to train your dog so you will not result in hitting and shouting every time your dog misbehaves.

Right guidelines for dog training success.

You have taught your dog right if you handle the basic dog skills in a patiently way. You are not deemed successful if your pooch easily forgets the skills you teach within a day.

The rules to know if you are successful in your dog training:

  • How many days you spent training your dog
    The skills learned by your dog
    How long your dog holds on to his skills

If you are having difficulties in teaching certain skills, if you considered it hard to teach certain skills in the dog, or if your pet dog somewhat always forgets his or her new skills, this does not mean you are not doing the right training. Remember that there are some factors involved. The first thing to know is your dog’s training skill, ability, and how long you like to train your dog. The second factor involves your dog’s natural ability to receive training. Compare to the view that some dog breeds are much faster to remember their new skills.

Early initiation is the proper approach to be successful in teaching your dog.

When a dog is still young, you can teach him or her some skills. It is a common misconception that a puppy below the age of six months will have a hard time remembering the training lessons is altogether wrong. Even dogs 8 months of age will find it hard to learn some teachings. Compare to humans, dogs have their way of learning things, they are also highly evolved creatures. Dogs start their learning process the day they were born. If the mother of three months old pup died, surely this puppy can survive in the wild, compare to human babies who need to be fed by his mother to survive.

The right time for a dog to learn some skills is when he or she is starting to learn basic life skills. At this time your dog is starting to know his canine life skills as well. He or she will learn the ability to adapt to a different environment. In this way, the behavior you like to see from your dog will be a part of his or her personality. The lessons would be more inculcated to your dog’s mind. Older dogs can be trained like this as well only you need to devote more time and it would be less fun to teach your old dog some new skills.

People who have the impression that their dogs can’t be trained anymore are folks who attempted to teach their dogs some skills when their dogs are old enough. Most people called their pooch stupid when they failed to do their newly taught skills. This is not the dog’s fault, but rather, it is the owner’s fault for not teaching their dog earlier in his life. By giving rewards and correction, you can be successful in your dog’s training approach.

When it comes to the fundamentals of dog training, you can only transmit and instill the skills and behaviors you like in your dog by proper rewards and corrections. You are rewarding your pooch by giving him proper attention. On the contrary, punishing is depriving your dog of attention.

If you want your dog to behave in a certain way, you need to illustrate to him or her, then after that reward your pooch with your attention when he demonstrates the behavior you like while disciplining him or her by not giving your attention if he or she misbehaves accordingly. You can simply reward your dog by staring at him. Giving him or her a tickle is a good attention reward. Praising and talking to your pooch is another good way of rewarding attention. Your pet dog may not understand your words, but he or she can sense the feelings behind them. Dogs know if you are angry or not, they have that ability.

If for example, your dog is enjoying very much of your attention while behaving nicely and you suddenly strip him or her of that attention when he or she starts being unruly again, he can immediately sense the change of reaction and start to correct his misdemeanor and the denial of attention. Your pooch now knows how to put the right behavior to award him your attention. This is the right fundamental training for young dogs.

The thing you must not do to your dog is hitting him with a hard stick as a form of correction. The dog won’t understand that you are punishing him or her. It will only reflect on him or her that you are a violent owner. If your dog keeps on digging or biting your shoes, better to find ways to limit his activity, rather than hurting him.

You need to practice patience if you want to train your dog.

Being a persistent dog trainer will do a lot of benefits as well. You won’t succeed in your dog training effort if you give up too easily. Don’t easily surrender if your dog didn’t pick up the lessons you are teaching him or her. It will take several illustrations before the dog can pick up what you are instructing him. There are important reinforcements you need to apply before your pooch can eventually learn what behavior is expected of him.

You need to be consistent as well to succeed in training your dog.

This is a method where you don’t need to settle on a particular technique, you need to apply it in every scenario so that the dog you are teaching can understand what you like him to do. In training your dog, avoid giving him or her mixed signal. Dogs can get confused as well, and it will become harder to train them.

More dog training advice.

You need further research before you can start training your dog.
If your self-dog training formula fails, better to seek the help of a professional dog trainer before you quit training your dog.

Positive Dog Training: A Great Method of Dog Obedience Training

Positive Dog obedience Training

Positive dog training while increasingly popular in today’s canine community has been around since the ’60s. Karen Pryor started using it in the ’60s to train Dolphins and is considered by many to be the pioneer of modern “clicker training.”

For this article from here on out, I will refer to “clicker training” as “positive reinforcement” because you don’t have to use a clicker in positive training.
You can use a word or a sound you make with your mouth or hands. Positive training is commonly referred to as “marker training” too because the entire purpose of the method is to “mark” the desired behavior using either sounds or words.

Dog Obedience Training Using Positive Methods

Positive training isn’t about being “super freak-o-paranoid” about corrections and being a happy friendly person to your dog. Positive training is about getting results that will save your dog’s life in the most stress-free manner available to you.

The positive training we’re talking about here uses positive reinforcement and negative punishment as the two primary concepts during the training process.
People are confused by the terms positive and negative. I know I was.
Let’s take a look at the terms commonly used in positive training.

Positive = you add something. Positive punishment is adding a leash correction. Positive reinforcement is adding a treat/praise.

Negative = you remove something. Negative Punishment is you remove the food or praise. Negative reinforcement is you remove something the dog considers unpleasant the moment the dog performs the behavior.
I feel the need to explain negative punishment and negative reinforcement further. As these terms can be confusing (this was where I was stumped for quite a while.)

Negative Punishment Example: You are trying to teach the sit. Your dog keeps pawing at your hand. You remove your attention and the reward for a few moments and then turn around. The dog sits. You reward them.
You punish them by removing something pleasant. In this case a treat or praise.

Negative Reinforcement Example: You are trying to teach the dog to sit. You pinch their ear until they sit. When they sit, you release the pressure on their ear.

You reward them by removing something unpleasant. In this case, an ear pinch.

Let’s tackle Positive Punishment and Reinforcement while we’re on this subject.

Positive Punishment Example: The dog knows how to sit. You ask for the sit. The dog does not sit fast enough. You give a leash correction. They sit.

You added the leash correction as punishment.

Positive Reinforcement Example: The dog knows how to sit. You ask for the sit. The dog does not sit fast enough. You reward the dog with a crappy treat. You wait and ask again. The dog sits faster this time. Your reward with a great treat.

You are adding the better treat and reinforcing the faster sit. You could also do this by not rewarding the slow sit at all and waiting for the faster sit then offering the best reward possible.

Is Positive Dog Obedience Training Right for Me and My Dog?

Some people believe every dog will respond to positive methods. I think this is almost always the case, however, there will be exceptions.

Positive dog training takes time to understand and implement. You, as the handler, need a clear understanding of the concepts before you can use them to train your dog.

This is one reason I start all my sessions with a 45-minute lesson on the terms, the usage, and answer any questions people may have before we start working with the dog.

You should get some books on positive dog training and seek out a positive trainer in your area to help you with things you are having a problem with.

I would answer the above question with this reply…

“I personally believe that almost all dogs can learn using positive methods. If you have a dog with serious behavior problems (like aggression, extreme fear, etc…) then positive methods will take longer to work and will require serious discipline on your part.”

Why Do You Recommend Positive Training Over Other Methods?

Positive training doesn’t have to be confusing and complicated. Once you get the concepts positive training is quite easy to understand and use.

One of the main reasons this method of dog training is so popular and a reason why I recommend it is because it’s very hard to mess up your dog.

For example, if you use a leash correction to stop jumping on guests the dog can easily start thinking it’s people walking toward them that is causing the correction. This can lead to aggression, increased jumping, and fear of people. All of which is bad.

However, if you miss clicking or marking the behavior you want the dog to learn you will avoid all of the above reactions.

First and foremost it takes repeat exposures to the clicker for dogs to make the connection. So if you mess up in the early stages odds are the dog hasn’t learned what the clicker is yet.

Worst case scenario with positive training, you end up marking the wrong behavior.

You can correct this by marking the correct behavior and doing the training process again. It will take more time since you messed up, but you are not causing the dog to fear things or act aggressively in situations.

When people ask me why I recommend and use positive reinforcement over say pinch collars and leash corrections my answer to them is simple.

My answer: What would you rather have. A dog that responds to you because they want to avoid pain or a dog that responds to you because they find it fun and enjoyable?

Positive reinforcement makes dog training for your dog, fun and enjoyable. You will have more fun because your dog will be eager to work to earn their reward.

Other Dog Training Methods

Compulsion. We’ll start with compulsion because it is the first method that was created back in World War I.

Compulsion training is dog training that uses force and pain to teach, modify, and maintain obedience behaviors.

Compulsion uses positive punishment (e.g. leash corrections) and negative reinforcement (e.g. ear pinch until the dog sits) as the two primary concepts of the method.

One example of compulsion training is using an e-collar to train the dog to lie down. The handler would put the e-collar on continuous stimulation and wait for the dog to offer the right behavior. If the dog lies down, the handler would stop the stimulation and the dog would then be praised.

This is negative reinforcement at it’s best (or worst depending on how you see it).

After repeating this until the dog downs on command the handler would then use leash corrections to modify the behavior.

Remember at the beginning when we were talking about positive reinforcement and making the sit faster?

Compulsion handlers would use positive punishment to accomplish this.

For example, now that the dog knows how to avoid the shock and they down on command the handler would give a leash correction for slowdowns. When the dog lies down quickly, the dog would receive praise and a treat.

Why would anyone use compulsion?

They use it because it works. The military, police, and other organizations use an almost 100% compulsion-based system to train their guard and patrol dogs because the results are faster than positive methods.

This leads me to the next method of training…

Traditional Training. I call what people at PetSmart and PetCo and most professional trainers use as “traditional training” because it has become standard operating procedure for 95% of the trainers you will encounter.

This form of training combines positive and compulsion methods to “round out” the program.

In the beginning, the dog learns to use positive reinforcement and negative punishment. They are lured into position using food and then rewarded (positive reinforcement).

If they do not comply in the early stages then you would turn around and remove the treat and attention from the dog (negative punishment).

Moving to the next level (modifying the behavior or proofing it) the dog is asked to do something. If they do not offer the desired behavior (a sit for example) they are giving a leash correction until they sit (positive punishment).

If you go to a PetSmart class or a mainstream trainer you will likely be using this form of training.

The next method of training is…

Purely Positive. Before we go into this method I would like to say that some “purely positive” trainers are not really purely positive. They use the term to make themselves look better or to gather more business. Am I bitter about it? Not really, but unless you train using no punishment or corrections you are not a purely positive trainer.

Purely positive training, as I mentioned a second ago, does not use any form of punishment or corrections.

You use 100% positive reinforcement 100% of the time. No exceptions.

Purely positive is the more extreme cousin to what I call positive dog obedience training. Remember, the method I described and use involves negative punishment (no reward markers like no, and eh, eh and the removal of food, praise or toys) which isn’t purely positive.

I admire pure positive trainers for their patience and gentle nature and if you find that you want to pursue this method of training (or any method mentioned) I would suggest getting involved with a professional who has experience using the techniques.

Positive Dog Obedience Training Conclusion

Training methods are as varied as dog breeds. Some people think purely positive is the only way to go, while others use 100% compulsion. Most use the traditional method (positive/compulsion) and then you have people like me who use 90% positive reinforcement with 10% negative punishment.

What method you use depends a lot on you, your dog’s temperament, age, and abilities.

To start I would recommend using 90% positive reinforcement and 10% negative punishment and work that program until it either proves successful or non-successful.

Whatever method you decide to use find a professional trainer to help you learn the techniques safely and properly and avoid any problems you might have.

How To Make A Dog Stop Eating Poop

How To Make A Dog Stop Eating Poop

Poop Eating – Break the Habit

Eating poop is socially unacceptable and exposes your dog to parasites and diseases.

If your dog is eating poop (coprophagy), rule out a medical cause with your veterinarian. Sometimes an underlying illness or disease may be the cause, such as disorders of the intestinal tract, diabetes mellitus, a deficiency in some vital nutrient such as iron, or other causes.

Upgrade your dog’s diet by replacing his grain-based kibble with a complete nutrient-packed and balanced diet.

Sometimes puppies pick up the habit from their mother at a very young age. When puppies are first born, they cannot defecate or urinate on their own. Mother dogs must stimulate their newborns to defecate and will then clean their nursing puppies and eat the feces.

This canine behavior goes back to when dogs werewolves. It is still seen routinely in wild wolves and feral dogs. With puppies in the den, the mother would remove the feces of her young by eating it to keep the area clean, but also avoid any smell that might be picked up by a predator. Because dogs are pack animals, other adult dogs will sometimes help in rearing the young and help keep the den clean through the same process. So through evolution, dogs eating feces is quite customary from a dog’s point of view.

Many puppies outgrow this behavior by 6 months of age with mild discouragement from their owners.

Behavioral Problem

If a veterinarian visit determines no disease is found, poop eating is considered a behavioral problem. Eating poop is a problem that is easier to prevent than cure, so don’t allow the opportunity to arise. Keep your dog’s yard clean by disposing of feces promptly, by using a pooper scooper or litter bags.

If he is paper trained, clean up the stool so he isn’t tempted to eat it. Try to clean up the feces when your dog is not watching you because sometimes a dog will imitate what his owner is doing.

If your dog tries to eat his poop after it has left his body, take him out on the leash every time, and teach him the “Leave it” command.

Getting Attention

Eating poop can be an attention-getting behavior. If this is the case, try to startle your dog with a loud noise or clap your hands when you catch him. If possible, avoid letting him know that the startling noise came from you. If your dog knows a command such as “Leave it!” say that. Praise your dog when he drops it and give him an acceptable item to chew or play with.

If it is play behavior, keep plenty of toys in the yard for your dog to play with. Make sure your dog has good, tough chew toys to relieve doggy tensions. Praise your dog when he is playing with his toys outside. Prevent boredom — set aside time during the day for plenty of attention, exercise, and interaction. A tired dog is a good dog!

Keep living spaces, crates, kennels, and yard clean by removing stool right away.

Deterrents

Stool eating deterrents that give poop a very bad taste can be added to your dog’s food or given as a treat. These are digested by the animal and result in giving the feces a very bad taste. They also freshen your dog’s breath!

Do-it-yourself treatments to stop poop eating can be added to your dog’s food include sprinkling Accent (flavor enhancer), a drop of anise essential oil, or adding garlic, pumpkin, pineapple, or meat tenderizer. These methods work for some dogs but not for all.

Put Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper (chili powder) on the poop — not the food.

Verbal scolding, yelling, or punishment may be interpreted by your dog as attention. This approach won’t resolve the problem and is likely to produce either fearful or aggressive responses from your dog.

Vet Exam

Have your veterinarian do a fecal flotation examination every 6 – 12 months. This will screen your dog for exposure to intestinal parasites or worms such as hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms.

If you suspect that anxiety, stress, or frustration is the reason for poop eating, the cause should be identified and the behavior changed by using obedience modification techniques — positive reinforcement clicker training.

Many animals learn to refrain from the behavior when their owner is present but still engage in the problem behavior when their owner is absent. So any reaction from you after the fact is never helpful. Animals don’t understand why you are upset for something they did hours, minutes, or even seconds before.

How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

How Often Should You Feed Your Dog

How Much to Feed a Dog (Commercial & Homemade Foods)

How much dog food to feed varies for individual dogs and according to age, health, and energy requirements. Every dog should be observed for weight gain or loss. Free-choice feeding is also known as “ad lib” feeding or “free feeding”. Food is available at all times, as much as the pet wants and whenever the pet wants. Free feeding can lead to house training problems and spoiled food. Additionally, when leaving food out in the open all the time you may be inviting insects and other pests to be snacking at your dog’s food bowl. It’s best to feed at scheduled times. Always leave fresh cold water out for your dogs.3

How Much Should My Dog Eat?

Adult Weight Dry Chow (Kibble) Canned Mixed with Dry
up to 10 pounds 1/3 to 1 cup 1/4 can + up to 3/4 cup dry
10 – 25 pounds 1 to 2 1/4 cups 1/2 can + 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups dry
25 – 50 pounds 2 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups 1 can + 1 to 2 1/2 cups
50 – 75 pounds 3 3/4 to 5 cups 1 1/2 cans + 1 3/4 to 3 cups
over 75 pounds 5 to 8 cups 2 cans + 2 1/2 to 5 1/4 cups
  • Feed your dog the same food 2 – 3 times a day. Unlike humans, a dog’s digestive system cannot handle quick changes in food. It can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea.
  • Feed your dog at the same time every day.
  • Don’t worry if your dog’s appetite changes. It is normal for your dog to lose his appetite or experience digestive upset occasionally, especially when puppies are teething. If your dog’s upset stomach becomes severe or last longer than a day, contact your veterinarian.
  • In general, smaller breeds can start on adult food when they are a year old. Larger breeds should stay on puppy food until they are fully mature which is usually about 2 years of age. Ask your veterinarian when to switch your dog to adult food.
  • Keep food and water bowls clean and cool fresh water available at all times.
  • All dogs need separate food and water dishes. The bowls should be cleaned daily.
  • If you are mixing water to dry food you should mix 4 parts dry food to 1 part water.

How to Transition to a New Dog Food in 5 Days

When switching to a new food, gradually transition your dog to the new food by mixing portions of both foods until you slowly phase the old food out. A slow schedule will allow your dog to adjust to the new food without indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation.

Day 1: Mix 20% new dog food with 80% old dog food.
Day 2: Mix 40% new dog food with 60% old dog food.
Day 3: Mix 60% new dog food with 40% old dog food.
Day 3: Mix 80% new dog food with 20% old dog food.
Day 5: Feed 100% of the new dog food brand.

switch food

How to Feed Rescue Dog Who Came with No Food

If you have adopted a new puppy or an older adult dog, most of the time your new furry friend came with a supply of dog food he was eating prior to you getting him home. It’s easy to gradually transfer him from the old food to the new food. But, sometimes your new dog was given to you without the food he was eating before you got him.

dog feeding

When mealtime arrives, put the appropriate amount of new dog food for his size into a bowl and put it on the floor. Act like nothing is unusual and give your dog about 15 minutes time to eat the new dog food. If you have other dogs who are happily eating, then your new dog will most likely figure the new dog food is a good thing and proceed to eat without a problem.

If by chance, your new dog turns his nose up and decides to play “I want my old dog chow” game with you and 15 minutes have gone by — do not coax or beg your dog to eat — remove the food bowl and go about your business. During the time from the first meal to the second, do not offer any treats or feel sorry for your dog for not eating. He’ll be fine.

Next meal time do the same thing as you did with the first meal. By this time your dog is probably so hungry, he’ll eat willingly and look forward to eating at the next meal time.

If by the end of the second day your dog hasn’t eaten anything, then have him evaluated by your veterinarian to make sure he is healthy and able to eat. He might have an oral problem with his teeth or mouth or a digestive illness.

Your new dog may not be interested in eating the first day but just try again at the next feeding time. Give him lots of love and make a big deal out of all good deeds. Remember, he is in a new place and this can cause stress. He will eat!

Dog Food Categories

  1. Generic or “grocery store” type dog foods are packaged under various local brand names, carried in grocery and discount stores. While they can be adequate for feeding to your dog, often these foods are made with lower-quality, cheaper ingredients, and have preservatives for longer shelf-life.
  2. Premium dog foods are better-known brand names and can also be found in your local supermarket, but also through your veterinarian office or pet supply store. These have high-quality ingredients, but may still have some elements of the cheaper foods, such as fillers, preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors.
  3. Dog health food, natural food, or holistic dog food is the most expensive. This type of dog food is made with human-grade, high-quality ingredients, and the companies that make them have high standards for their manufacture. These are the top of the line foods, the best you can get, and have no added salt, sugar, preservatives, or coloring agents.
  4. Homemade dog food is, as its name implies, made by you at home. There are dog food recipes if you choose to go this route.
  5. Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables, and bone.

Dog Food

There are various approaches to the question of what to feed your dog, and how, and when. There is a confusing and seemingly limitless array of choices, including commercially prepared foods as well as ingredients and recipes for making your own. The first commercial dog food was made in England in the mid-19th century. It consisted of a sort of biscuit made of various grains, vegetables, and meat. Thirty years later the product was introduced to the U.S. with other manufacturers following in short order with their own formulations of various biscuits and dry kibble food. Canned foods followed after WWI with the introduction of canned horsemeat for dogs, followed by the development of the expanded-type of dry dog food and then the newer soft-moist products. In modern times we now have a much better understanding of dog’s nutritional needs, as well as far more choices of commercially prepared foods.

Your dog is unique, and in deciding what to feed him, you’ll need to take into account a lot of different factors. At any given stage or situation in your dog’s life may necessitate a different choice of foods. When your dog is a puppy his needs are quite different than if he is elderly and arthritic. If your dog had surgery, his food requirements are different than if he is in good health. Or if you’ve been using a local brand of food, and then move to another part of the country, you might have to change simply because you can’t get the same food you had before.

Even though there are dozens of choices when it comes to feeding your dog, it doesn’t have to be stressful to choose a food that will meet his needs nutritionally, and that he will enjoy eating. You can find dog food comparison charts and articles on the internet to learn about nutritional needs, and how to select the proper food for your particular dog. Also, check with your veterinarian about any concerns you might have.

Things to Consider

Your dog’s age or stage of life

The nutritional needs of a healthy, growing puppy are different from an aging, more sedentary pet. If you’re unsure, ask your veterinarian to advise you on what type and amount of food your dog needs.

Your dog’s body and activity level

If he is a puppy, very active, or underweight he will need more nutrient-dense food, as well as need to eat more often, than if he is very overweight and sedentary.

Your dog’s health

If your dog is healthy, his nutritional needs will be different than if he is sick, or has a health condition, such as diabetes or cancer. Also, take into account his dental health. Teething puppies need chewing opportunities, but an older dog whose teeth are loose or missing may need something softer and easier to eat. Ask your veterinarian what to feed if your dog has any health issues.

Your dog’s preferences

Dogs are individuals and what your dog likes, another new dog may refuse to eat. This can be a matter of habit or taste, but if your dog is to benefit from his food, he has to eat it. Purchase food that your dog enjoys. If you’re not sure, get small quantities of different foods until you learn what kind your dog enjoys.

Your budget

If price is no option, choose your dog’s food on quality and buy the best. The old adage that “you get what you pay for,” is often true, and most of the high-priced dog foods are of high quality. But if you have a limited income, don’t be discouraged. By reading labels and doing your homework, you can find decent quality food to feed your dog. Many people keep their pets happy and healthy on a diet of generic or grocery store label dog food.

Dog Treats and Snacks

Just as you enjoy an occasional snack between meals, so does your dog, and it’s fun to indulge him with tasty treats. But more than fun, treats can serve a variety of practical purposes. Dog training treats are used as rewards for your dog to learn desired behaviors, while some healthy dog treats can provide necessary vitamin supplementation, aid in keeping your dog’s breath fresh or clean his teeth, and assist in feeding pills or medication.

Dog Chews and Chew Toys

Related to dog treats are dog chews and chew toys in hard and soft styles. Though many are not edible, others can provide some nutritional value. Their main benefits are to give your dog a way of satisfying his natural urge to chew and help to strengthen and/or clean his teeth. Rawhide “bones” are a type of dog chew toy, as are the familiar latex “squeaky” toys. But there are many others, including pig ears, pig hooves, horse hooves, rawhide strips, and chips, as well as lot of natural and imitation bones. They can be found in supermarkets, pet stores, pet boutiques, veterinarians, and on the internet.

The subject of feeding your dog, as well as providing him with treats, toys, and chews is enormous. There’s enough information to fill encyclopedias and almost as many opinions about the “right” way to feed your dog. Don’t let all this variety overwhelm you. Start with your dog — and take into account your own preferences, your lifestyle, and budget. Try a few different types of foods and other products until you find something your dog enjoys and thrives on. There may be times in your dog’s life when you need to change foods based on your dog’s current state of health. Consider any advice you may receive from your veterinarian.

Complete Guide to Grooming Your Dog

Dog Grooming Guide

Dog Grooming Guide

Many people take their dog to a professional groomer for brushing, bathing, and toenail trimming. But, it isn’t hard to do it yourself, and it’s nice to brush and comb your dog in between grooming sessions. The first step in dog grooming is to teach your dog to accept the attention. Start when your dog is a puppy by handling all his body parts, so it becomes a normal and fun activity. Puppies become accustomed to grooming and as they grow up, won’t fight you at every turn. Puppies are like children and have short attention spans. Select a time when the puppy is less energetic. Begin with short 5-minute grooming sessions. Constantly talk to your puppy in a gentle, reassuring tone while grooming to make him feel comfortable. Be sure to check his ears, paws, teeth, and under the belly during the grooming procedure. In time, this will make him accustomed to being handled and examined. Eventually, he will be quite comfortable being groomed and will look forward to these sessions with you.

Always praise your dog as he is being groomed to make it an enjoyable experience. Keep the tone of your voice positive and upbeat.

Grooming your dog is quite easy to build into your routine, will give you quality time together, helps to create bonding and trust, and help to ensure your dog remains healthy and clean. You also will be able to check your dog closely for any problems while grooming. Move the hair aside and examine the skin closely for signs of flea, ticks, or skin irritations. Look for any unusual problems with the coat such as mats, tangles, and dandruff. Mats and tangles can be carefully removed while grooming.

Learn where he likes to be combed and brushed, and where he doesn’t. All dogs have sensitive areas that need to be groomed a little more gently and carefully than others. By paying special attention to these areas, you will help make your dog more comfortable while being groomed, and he will not resist future grooming sessions. You will also become familiar with areas that he enjoys having groomed. This is helpful if you need to calm him during stressful times such as veterinary visits.

Regular grooming is essential to your dog’s health and well being. Regular combing and brushing will keep the coat clean and healthy, stimulate the skin, allow the natural oils to circulate to the coat for a lustrous coat, and enable you to carefully check for potentially serious problems. Check areas for hair loss, inflammations, unusual tenderness, or lumps under the skin. Constant scratching by your dog in a particular area may also be an indication of a problem. Check with your veterinarian about any unusual problems found.

Many dog breeds have a double coat. This is comprised of an undercoat and an outer coat (or guard coat). Dogs with double coats shed all year long, but once or twice a year when the seasons change they blow their coats — shedding their undercoat — and it usually happens in a short period of time. Fur everywhere!

Brushing

Brushing your dog is the most basic and practical step that you can take to keep your pet clean and healthy. Brushing serves several purposes. It removes dirt and foreign objects from your dog’s coat, helps your dog feel well, alerts you to skin health problems, and cuts down on shedding. Use a brush that has been made especially for dogs, because it will be the proper design for dog fur and skin.

Brush and Comb Types and Styles

  • Dogs with short, smooth coats: Use a soft-bristled brush, that will easily remove dead hair and help spread body oils over your dog’s coat, creating a healthy gloss. Bristle brushes have soft straight bristles on a flat base. Because this design doesn’t penetrate as deeply as others, it works best for short coats. Or use a ZoomGroom rubber dog brush good for short coats. It has a nice massage feeling and collects hair like a magnet.
  • Dogs with long, wavy, or wire-haired coats: Use a pin or wire brush. The pins will go deep enough to pull out the dead hair that causes matting. Pin or wire brushes have straight metal bristles on a rubber base. This brush provides deep penetration and is excellent for fluff-drying long fur and heavy undercoats.
  • Dogs with long, curly, or silky coats: Use a slicker brush. They have a flat, rectangular head, and bent wire bristles that remove curly tangles and keep straight coats soft and shiny. A slicker brush is the most versatile tool, working well for a variety of coats. The short, bent, wire bristles grab and remove loose undercoat hairs, and frequent use helps prevent matting.
  • Dogs with especially dense, heavy fur: Use a wide-toothed metal comb, which will go where no brush can possibly reach. The more teeth there are on the comb, the better a job it will do at getting rid of dead hair. Shedding blades also work well on dense heavy fur.
  • Dogs who hate to be brushed: Use a grooming glove. They have semi-soft rubber nubs on the palm and for your dog, it feels like being petted instead of brushed. This glove works best on short coats, but the sensation of being petted makes it a favorite of all dogs!

If your dog has a brittle and dry coat, to prevent fur breakage, dampen fur with a little water or conditioner, before brushing or combing. Let your dog sniff the brush and comb before you begin grooming, and then talk to your pet in a reassuring tone while grooming. If the grooming procedure is made comfortable for your dog, he will begin to look forward to regular grooming sessions. While brushing if you see skin problems such as cuts, bumps, rashes, scabs or parasites, have your veterinarian examine your dog.

When to Brush a Dog

Dogs with long coats should be brushed daily. Short-haired dogs may only need brushed 2 – 3 times a week. How often you need to brush and comb your dog depends on his coat and lifestyle. Dogs with longer fur that spend a lot of their time playing outdoors typically require the most grooming. If you’re unsure how often to brush your dog, ask your veterinarian for his advice.

Always brush your dog before you bathe him. This loosens dirt and dander from his coat, helps you spot and remove any foreign objects, and removes dead hair. Brush your medium to the long-haired dog each time he gets wet to prevent matting.

How to Brush

Begin brushing at the head, working toward the tail and down the legs. If you begin by brushing in the opposite direction of your dog’s hair growth, this will help loosen dead hair. Afterward, brush the same direction his fur grows, paying particular attention to the legs and flanks, and areas that easily mat. A pin brush can be used to fluff the coat by brushing against the direction of hair growth. Regular brushing will help distribute the natural oils in the skin, producing a healthy, shiny coat. Brushing several times a week is recommended for most dogs.

If any of your dog’s hair is matted, fix the problem as soon as possible, because matted hair can lead to skin irritation. First, try to gently remove the mat with a comb or your fingers. Sometimes matted hair must be cut out with scissors, but be sure to use blunt-tipped scissors, so your dog doesn’t accidentally get a puncture wound if he moves while you are cutting.

Combing

First, brush your dog’s back with a pin-brush to smooth his fur. Use a metal dog comb, then starting at the tail, take a small amount of fur and comb backward toward the tail. The comb should touch the skin. If you run into tangles take less fur, or turn the comb and use the end to break up the tangle. Continue working toward the neck, always combing backward. When you are done you should be able to run the comb easily from neck to end of the tail.

Fluff the fur on his legs starting at the bottom and working your way to the top. Start at the foot and take small amounts of fur and comb towards the foot. The fur is thinner on the legs, so do this very gently.

Comb his sides with the same procedure and work your way up each side. Use the same procedure on the neck, working your way from the base of the neck to the head. Then comb the belly (very gently as this is a sensitive area). Gently comb his face if he’s a long-haired dog.

Use a metal flea comb to check for fleas by combing through your dog’s coat in all areas. Keep a container of soapy water nearby for any fleas.

The Dog Bath!

Your veterinarian will let you know how often you should bathe your dog. To keep your dog’s skin healthy, bathe only when necessary so you don’t remove natural oils, because this results in dry skin, rashes, excess shedding, and a dull coat. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on frequency. Small dogs can be bathed in the kitchen sink… larger dogs need to be bathed in the bathtub.

dog bath

The first few times you might not even wash him. Put him into the sink or bathtub without water, give him a treat and tell him he is a good dog. Then remove him from the area. Do this each day for 2 – 3 days before actually getting him wet.

Before bathing your dog, brush or comb him out to make sure he is free of mats, which will only get worse when wet. Brushing or combing before the bath will help loosen dead fur also.

Warm up the area where you will bathe your dog. Gather all the supplies needed before beginning. Always use a shampoo created especially for dogs, because the pH level of your dog’s skin is much different from humans. You’ll need doggy shampoo, conditioner, a bowel or bucket, towels, and cotton balls for inside his ears. Or keep your dog’s ears as dry as possible with a Disposable Pet Shower Cap.

Lay a Cushioned Shower Mat inside the sink or bathtub.

Make the water warm — not too cold and not too hot. Try not to get any water on your dog’s head and face. You can use a warm wet washcloth or baby wipe to clean his face. Soak your dog with water down to his skin from neck to end of the tail, legs, belly, and sides. After your dog is good and wet everywhere, add doggy shampoo to his entire body. Then with your fingers lather (massage) your dog so he is nice and soapy. While bathing your dog, praise him a lot.

After your dog is soaped up and clean, it’s time to rinse with clean clear water. Rinse, rinse, and rinse again using a large bowl or bucket. Or use a shower spray head to saturate his coat and remove all soap. If you use a doggy conditioner after he’s completely rinsed, either leave it in or rinse it out according to the directions on the label.

Run your hands over your dog to release as much water as possible. Then towel dries your dog from head to tail, legs, feet, and pads. As you dry your dog, brush him. When finished offer a treat. Keep your dog inside until he’s completely dry so he doesn’t get chilled.

Trembling is not uncommon for a dog during a bath, and expect him to do the body shake to release soap and water from his body, so be prepared to get wet!

If you want to give your dog a bath outdoors, be sure the weather is warm and there is no wind. You can use a child’s wading pool with a nonskid mat on the bottom.

Nail Care for Dogs

After the bath is a good time to trim his toenails as they are still soft from the bath. Regular nail trimming is important to your dog’s health and well being. If you let nails grow too long, they will begin to curl under, making it difficult — and sometimes painful — to walk. Also, the longer you let the dog’s nails grow between clippings, the longer the quick will get, making it more of a challenge. Therefore, it’s simply easier to keep them trimmed.

Never use ordinary scissors to trim your dog’s nails.

Nail trimming tools you can use are dog toenail clippers, a Dremel grinding tool, and a dog nail file.

With a toenail clipper, hold the dog’s paw firmly, and cut off the tip of the nail with a single stroke.

With a grinding tool, hold the dog’s paw firmly and grind gently on each nail for a few seconds, because it will get very hot. Move quickly from 1 nail to the next. Be careful not to catch the hair in the grinder. To prevent this you can push the toenail through old pantyhose prior to grinding.

Be very careful to stop short of the blood vessel (quick) inside the nail. If you mistakenly cut the nails too short, stop dog nail bleeding with styptic powder within reach to stop bleeding should you cut into the sensitive quick (the living portion of the nail that contains blood and nerves)? Don’t forget the dewclaws!

Finish trimming by filing your dog’s nails with a dog nail file to make them nice and smooth.

Learning to clip your dog’s nails can seem daunting, but it’s not that hard if you know what you’re doing, and you let your dog get accustomed to it gradually.

Most dogs will need their toenails trimmed once a month. Puppies toenails grow fast, so make sure they don’t get too long. Some dogs get very wiggly, so you may want to have your dog held by someone and you trim or visa versa.

Teeth

Your dog’s teeth are very important for good health, as oral problems can lead to very bad breath, as well as problems with the heart, liver, kidney, and even brain. To brush your dog’s teeth, buy a cleaning kit that includes a dog toothbrush and special dog toothpaste. Most dogs like the taste of this special toothpaste, which is usually chicken, beef, or peanut butter flavored.

In the beginning, you won’t be brushing your dog’s teeth. Put a little bit of dog toothpaste on your finger, place your finger in his mouth and let him get a taste of the delicious toothpaste. Your dog will love the taste! Do this for a few days in a row. Then you will progress to very gently rubbing his gums with your finger and the toothpaste. Then start brushing a few teeth with the toothpaste and gradually build up to a regular brushing routine. Soon you will be brushing about twice a week. No, you don’t need to floss!

Eyes

Clear mucus secretion is normal. Every day, wipe with water on a soft, damp cloth, cotton swab, or use a wet wipe. If the secretion smells bad, is yellow or bloody, your dog should be taken to the veterinarian right away, as this means there is an infection. If your dog has long hair that grows into his eyes, trimming is best left to the groomer.

Ear Care for Dogs

A healthy dog ear is pink in color and has no smell. A little bit of wax or dirt in the outer portion of the ear canal, and around the ear leather wrinkly area is perfectly normal. You can remove this with a piece of gauze, cotton ball, or a cotton swab (Q-tip). But never push a Q-tip inside the ear canal!

How to Eliminate or Reduce Dog Gas

Dog gas Prevention

The medical word for gas is “flatus” and the condition of passing gas is called “flatulence”. Flatulence (also known as farting, passing wind, passing gas), refers to the passing of intestinal gas through the anus. Dogs tend to have very smelly gas. It is normal for dogs to pass gas in small quantities. An excessive amount of gas is abnormal and your dog should be examined by his veterinarian. Excessive flatulence usually results from intolerance to ingredients in your dog’s diet. What happens is the ingredients pass through the intestinal tract without being absorbed and end up in the large intestine (colon and rectum), where bacteria ferment them to produce gas.

Flatulence more commonly affects dogs that are inactive and spend long periods indoors.

Another cause of gas can occur when your dog eats excessive quantities of food, overwhelming the ability of his gastrointestinal tract to digest the food.

Soybeans, peas, beans, milk products, high-fat diets, and spicy foods are all commonly associated with flatulence in dogs.

Greedy eating results in the ingestion of large quantities of air. Once ingested, air has to be removed from the gastrointestinal tract either by burping or by flatulence. Also when a dog bends over to eat his food, he’ll gulp air as he snatches the food into his mouth.

Have your dog checked for worms

Worms can cause lots of gas along with diarrhea. Although flatulence is usually normal, on occasion it can signify more serious gastrointestinal disease of the small bowel or pancreas. Seek veterinary advice if gaseousness appears to be causing your dog abdominal discomfort, or if the flatulence is associated with vomiting or diarrhea. All of these signs suggest more serious gastrointestinal disease.

Digestive enzymes may help

There are safe products that you can buy to give your dog. Taken before eating or with your dogs meal, digestive enzymes will help the digestive track to digest the food, eliminating the gas build-up in the intestines.

How to Eliminate or Reduce Dog Gas

  • Change the dog food to a high-quality diet without excessive fat content.
  • Elevate your dog’s water and food bowls to prevent air gulping. When your dog eats at head height, it also reduces stress on bones, joints, and muscles.
  • Place a tennis ball in the dog food bowl, so your dog will eat slower.
  • Overweight, obese, and sedentary dogs may develop chronic flatulence. Keep your dog at a healthy weight.
  • Don’t give your dog table scraps.
  • Feed your dog more frequently with smaller portions of 3 small meals instead of 1 large meal.
  • Don’t change dog foods quickly. Gradually transition your dog to the new food in 10 days.
  • Limit doggie biscuits — too many can stir up gas in the digestive tract.
  • Eliminate soy products from your dog’s diet. Soybeans are loaded with proteins hard to digest and add gas in the dog’s digestive tract.
  • Regular exercise is helpful because it promotes regular defecation.
  • Reduce your dog’s air gulping by avoiding situations while eating. Make sure he does not have to compete for food.
  • Your veterinarian may suggest medications that reduce gas production by assisting digestion or absorbing gas.
  • Add a bit of activated charcoal to your dog’s diet, as it can help detoxify some of the gasses while they are still inside the intestines. Don’t give it to your dog for more than 3 days in a row because it can absorb valuable nutrients. Ask your veterinarian before you give your dog charcoal products.

Dog Agility Training — The Sport Dogs Love

Agility Training Dogs

Agility training is a popular sport where you direct your dog off-leash using only voice and body language commands around an obstacle course. Obstacles include A-frames, horizontal bar jumps, see-saws, elevated dog walks, tunnels, tires, and hurdles, weave poles, pause tables, and more. Many dog owners train their dogs in agility purely for fun, with no intention of competing. Dog agility provides a challenge and excitement, physical conditioning, and increases the bond between your dog and you. Dog agility starter kits provide all the equipment you need to begin an agility training program.

In competition, you or a handler run beside your dog and direct him through an obstacle course, with precision and speed, within a set period of time. Missed obstacles and going over the maximum time allotted are faults.

In agility competition, there are several winners, because dogs are grouped into similar size and experience. You will see all shapes and sizes of dogs doing agility. In agility classes and trials tiny dogs have lowered jumps, a lower table, and will be competing against other dogs his size. All agility organizations divide dogs into smaller groups in size and experience.

Dogs are measured in height at the top of their withers (shoulders) and divided into height groups. Dogs are also divided into experience levels, and some organizations divide dogs into additional categories for older dogs.

Also, some organizations divide handlers into categories, such as junior handlers (usually under 18), handicapped handlers, or senior handlers.

Dogs are not separated by breed in agility competitions. Some organizations require that dogs entering competitions be purebred, but many organizations allow any healthy dog, whether purebred or mixed-breed. Except for the AKC, many organizations permit deaf dogs to compete. Blind dogs and dogs with disabilities are not eligible for the dog’s own safety.

The sport is very exciting — both to watch and participate in!

It’s very important to have your dog warm-up before beginning agility work and to cool down immediately after agility work.

Warm-Up Routine

To warm up do several minutes of fast walking, then move up to jogging. Let the dog gallop and stretch all muscles before agility work. The aim is to exercise all muscles that the dog uses during the routine. Also, go for a quick walk around the equipment and play fetch a few times. Stretch all his legs individually as the veterinarian does during a check-up. Then stretch his back by having him stand on his back legs and put his front legs up on you.

Cool Down Routine

Cool down after agility can include 5 – 10 minutes loose lead walking or gentle off-lead exercise. You are trying to have your dog wind down, so no games that involve speed. Massage and stretch all major muscle groups, holding each stretch for 15 seconds. You can also take him for a walk to let his muscles cool down.

Dog Agility Training Tips

  • Consult with your veterinarian about agility training. Make his safety a top priority. Don’t push him too far or too fast.
  • Be careful with jumps, as landing too hard can damage soft joints.
  • Use a leash, in the beginning, to show your dog what you want him to do and help you maintain control.
  • Tell your dog what you do want him to do, not what you don’t want him to do.
  • When you introduce your dog for the very first time to an obstacle don’t give it a name. When your dog is successful with an obstacle greet him on the other end with treats and ecstatic praise naming the obstacle.
  • Classes and clubs are popular for learning skills. They give you and your dog a realistic training scenario involving an actual agility course, and the presence of other people and dogs.
  • Competitions can be great learning tools, even if you and your dog are doing agility mainly for fun and exercise. Consider entering a few competitions in the beginning to gain experience.
  • 15-minute practice sessions are long enough. You might try several sessions a day, but keep the sessions short or your dog will lose focus or lose interest. If you’re signing up for classes that last an hour, be sure to ask if there are regular breaks.
  • Warm-up before beginning a practice session to help your dog be physically and mentally prepared to work.
  • Separate obedience exercises from agility work. They’re both necessary, but shouldn’t be mixed in the same session.
  • Keep agility lighthearted and fun. Remember, it’s not your dog’s fault if he doesn’t understand something. It’s only an opportunity to try again.

Learning the sport of agility can be a fun and exciting adventure for both you and your dog. No other sport requires such teamwork between dog and owner. You will be amazed at the bond of trust you’ll find developing between both of you as you work and progress together. Although it requires dedication, study, and a lot of hard work, the fun and satisfaction is very rewarding.

Thinking about entering your dog in your first agility trial? Your first trial can be very confusing. This guide will help answer many of your questions.

Arthritis Care for Dogs – Causes, Types, and Treatments

Dog Arthritis Care

Many dogs develop arthritis as they age. Canine arthritis is also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD). Whether drugs, surgery, or other alternatives are indicated in arthritis treatment, make sure your dog gets plenty of rest and limit exercise when your dog has a flare-up, during treatment, and recuperation.

The most common reason dogs get arthritis is wearing and tear on the joints from aging. But arthritis can be caused by athletic or traumatic injury, being overweight, genetics, elbow or hip dysplasia, or failure of proper bone development in puppies.

A diagnosis of arthritis is based on the history of your dog (if he had an injury, or is overweight), clinical signs, palpation of the joints, X-ray, and analyzing joint fluid.

Dog Arthritis Stages

Mild
Occasionally lame after hard exercise

Moderate
Some stiffness when getting up
Limps after regular exercise
Walks slowly or has a slightly altered gait
Hops instead of runs
Hesitates to jump or climb stairs

Severe
Needs help getting up
Limps at all times
Unwilling to climb stairs or jump
Difficulty squatting to urinate or defecate
Shows loss of muscle in the affected limb
Indicates pain when touched

Arthritis Signs

A dog who has arthritis can exhibit the following symptoms:

  • grating, crackling, or popping sounds upon movement of the joint
  • swelling around a joint
  • heat around a joint
  • tenderness when you palpate a joint
  • tenderness when flexing a joint
  • holds his breath or stops panting when a painful joint is manipulated
  • reacts suddenly — turns his head, snaps, or yelps in pain when you touch a sore joint
  • puts less weight on a leg with a sore joint when he’s standing still
  • holds up a leg with a sore joint
  • redness of the skin around a sore joint — part your dog’s fur to see
  • lags behind on walks
  • decreased appetite — pain from arthritis can cause a dog to stop eating
  • difficulty rising from a resting position
  • a personality change resisting touch
  • onset of stiffness worse in the mornings, but improves as the day progresses

Dog Arthritis Fast Facts

A healthy joint consists of cartilage that covers and protects the ends of the bones in a joint. The cartilage has no nerves — when it touches the cartilage of another bone, your dog feels no pain. But arthritis causes the cartilage to wear away. This exposes the bone, which has many nerves.

When bones grate and touch each other, there is pain and inflammation in the joint. This can result in changes to the joint cartilage, the joint fluid, the bones involved in the joint, and the actual capsule of the joint.

This pain can greatly affect your dog’s quality of life.

Arthritis Types

Because arthritis is diagnosed by type, a trip to the veterinarian is necessary for diagnosis and treatment. These types include:

  • osteoarthritis (OA) also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)
  • hip, elbow, or knee dysplasia
  • stifled joint
  • osteochondrosis
  • hypertrophic arthritis
  • shoulder degeneration
  • wrist arthritis (carpi)
  • kneecap (dislocation)
  • infectious arthritis (Inflammatory Joint Disease)
  • rheumatoid arthritis also known as Immune-Mediated Disease (RA)
  • idiopathic (where the cause is unknown)

Arthritis Treatments

Degenerative joint disease can sometimes be halted or prevented by surgery when X-rays indicate joint malformations. If surgery is not advisable, relief can be achieved with a painkillers, anti-inflammatory medicine, exercise, rest, diet, supplements, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Your veterinarian will recommend the best treatment.

Prescription Drugs

1. Rimadyl (carprofen) can relieve pain with few side effects. Long-term use of this drug requires periodic blood tests for liver function, but most dogs do well on it. Like all drugs, Rimadyl is not effective for all patients.
2. Adequan (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) is given by injection twice each week for 4 weeks. It not only relieves the pain of arthritis, it binds to damaged cartilage to facilitate repair, blocks the action of destructive enzymes that cause inflammation, and stimulates the production of healthy joint fluid.
3. Palaprin6 is a buffered aspirin specifically for dogs; it can be used in the same circumstances in which aspirin is used, but without the gastrointestinal irritation that sometimes occurs with aspirin.
4. Anti-inflammatory medications control pain and inflammation.
5. Corticosteroids (steroids) are commonly used for treating arthritic dogs.

Other Treatments

Holistic therapy includes magnetic pet pad beds, acupuncture, and herbal medicines.

Physical therapy includes a range of motion, stretching, whirlpool, swimming pool, moderate low-impact leash walking, and massage.  When walking your dog, use a pet harness to prevent stress and strain to distribute the pressure from the lead or leash better than a standard collar. A harness takes the direct stress off their neck.

Additional Help for Your Dog

  • Provide a special dog bed such as egg crate mattresses, heated beds, or an orthopedic bed.
  • Use a stroller for the ultimate comfort when going on walkies.
  • Dog ramps or pet stairs help older and arthritic dogs get up or down from a sofa, chair, or bed.
  • Comfort lift carriers placed under your dog’s chest or abdomen help arthritic, lame, or recovering pets up and down the stairs, in and out of vehicles, or up on their feet. Make a homemade sling — slip a long, wide strap made of leather, canvas, or a towel under your dog’s chest and hold an end in each hand.
  • Provide a pet carrier that is soft, comfortable, and lightweight for pets that like to curl up.
  • Provide shelter from wind, heat, cold, rain, and snow.
  • Apply heat to relieve muscle spasms and pain. Soak a towel in warm water, and apply to the joint for 10 minutes, 2 – 3 times a day. Be careful with heat — if the heat pack is too warm, it can irritate the skin.
  • If you notice swelling in the joint area apply a cold pack, or ice wrapped in a towel, for 15 – 20 minutes, a few times a day. Also be careful with cold packs because if they are too cold, or are used for too long, they can irritate the skin. Talk to your veterinarian if you see signs of joint swelling.
  • A circulating warm-water heating pad under a blanket can provide added warmth. To avoid burning the skin, don’t place your dog directly on the heating pad.
  • Dogs with arthritis can experience more discomfort when in a cold, damp environment — try to keep your dog warm and dry.

Dog Anxiety and Fears

Dog Anxiety Help

Treating simple anxiety isn’t hard. Find something that your dog really likes such as a doggie treat or a squeaky toy. Plan an activity that usually brings about anxious behavior. If your dog is anxious around strangers, have a friend come over who is a stranger to your dog. Ignore any trembling, whining, or hiding. Sit beside your friend (face to face signals confrontation to a dog). Chat, laugh, share food, watch TV, or listen to music. You can bounce a ball (which will interest your dog) and acknowledge your dog calmly each time he moves forward to play ball. What you are trying to do is act like everything is perfectly normal. Don’t ask the dog to approach you by calling him or offering food. Ignore all fearful behavior and respond to all good interactive behavior.

Your dog may whine when left alone, be terrified during storms, be afraid of strangers, or suffer from full-scale panic attacks from separation anxiety. Your first instinct when your dog displays anxious behavior such as trembling or hiding is to comfort him by petting, soothe him with your voice, babying him, or pick him up. Reassurances will make him feel better, but comforting also rewards him for acting afraid and makes it more likely that he will use the same strategy next time he needs to feel better. It also reinforces in the dog’s head that there is a good reason for his anxiety.

If your dog is afraid of riding in the car, try to get him to jump in and out of the car. You will not be taking a trip. The next day, get him to jump in, start the car while rewarding him, but again do not take a trip. After he gets familiar with the car and realizes it’s a safe place then you can start by taking several very short trips. You’ll want to make this very brief before he becomes nervous and overwhelmed — around the block and back home again. Praise him for good behavior. Gradually move up to longer trips but keep these car rides pleasant and don’t end up at a scary place like the veterinarian. Over time, he’ll become accustomed to riding in the car and might even jump in and wait for you to take him on a trip! The focus is to make him feel comfortable and accustomed to the things he used to fear.

dog anxiety

Many dogs become very distressed when they hear loud noises such as thunder, fireworks, or vacuum cleaners. A fearful dog’s reactions include hiding, shaking, and occasionally destructive behaviors like chewing through screen doors or digging underneath fences to escape to safe territory. Noise phobias can stop a dog from hearing you when things become out of control for the dog. Dogs react to a variety of things associated with storms. The loud noise of thunder is scary to some dogs, and the dog can hear it at a much greater distance than humans can. The dog has an early audio warning of an approaching storm, and most storm-phobic dogs eventually start reacting long before the sounds are loud. An effective solution is the Thundershirt anti-anxiety wrap for loud noises. Electricity in the air may be a major factor in dog storm phobia. The smell of the air changes when a storm approaches and of course the keen nose of a dog detects this early. The air pressure changes too, and a dog’s ears are more sensitive to pressure changes than most people. In some cases, the ears might hurt. There are several things you can try to help calm your dog down depending on the severity of the problem. If you are anticipating a storm or fireworks an extra-long walk can help by tiring out your dog so that fatigue wins out over fear. Playing the radio or TV at a high volume can also mask the noise and relieve the fear. Providing your dog with a safe space where the noise level is lower, can often lessen the anxiety.

Reducing fear and anxiety is accomplished by behavior modification. The 3 techniques are called: counterconditioning, desensitizing, and flooding. If medication is needed, your veterinarian will give you a prescription for your dog. Bach Rescue Remedy for pets is a natural product (over the counter with no prescription needed), that has calming effects. Put 3 – 4 drops under his tongue and it will help settle him down.

Counterconditioning and desensitization are usually used in combination and are powerful ways to change behavior. Counterconditioning is used to get the dog to perform the desired behavior. Desensitization provides a means of safely exposing the dog to the stimulus. Flooding techniques involve continuously exposing the dog to the stimulus until he calms down — if he has no adverse reaction. If a dog has epilepsy any stressful event or anxiety can trigger a seizure. When a dog is flooded with the thing they perceive as a threat, the overwhelming stress can cause them “shut down” from stress. This is called learned helplessness and is not a good thing!

Behavior modification exercises must be done consistently for weeks to months before you’ll see permanent results. Another component that may help your dog to be less anxious is increased exercise. Exercise has mental as well as physical benefits for dogs. If your dog has any health problems, be sure to check with your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program. In addition to exercise, mental stimulation (working on commands, playing fetch, practicing agility exercises at home or in a class) can be very enjoyable and help to relieve stress. Many types of dogs were originally bred to do a job, and they can become stressed without the mental activity they would normally use if they were “working.”

Counterconditioning

Counterconditioning is teaching a different behavior than what was previously occurring in a situation. Counterconditioning is used to change your dog’s feelings or response to something he fears. You are creating positive pleasant feelings and your dog begins to feel happy, excited, or calm about things that previously caused your dog to feel fear and anxiety. It takes time and repetition. Do this by associating the feared thing with something good like a dog treat to create a pleasant emotional reaction. After many repetitions, your dog learns that whenever that feared thing appears, good things happen! Over time, your dog’s reaction is calm at the sight of the previously feared or disliked person, event, place, or object.

Desensitization

Desensitization is used in combination with counterconditioning. It will change your dog’s attitude and response. Desensitization involves controlled gradual exposure to situations that cause your dog fear and anxiety, but at a level so low that there is no negative response. As your dog experiences the situation but does not respond in an undesirable way, the animal becomes “less sensitive” to the situation, and the undesirable response is decreased. The key to effective desensitization is to design a situation from low to high, so your dog can gradually be exposed to progressively more intense levels of the situation without the undesirable behavior.

If your dog is afraid when you run the vacuum cleaner you start slow and first desensitize your dog to the vacuum cleaner. Put it in the center of the room, and don’t plug it in. Do this for a few days. Then put it into the center of the room and plug it in, but don’t turn it on. What you are doing is exposing your dog to the trigger. The next few days move the vacuum around the room without turning it on. Then after a few days, turn on the vacuum and use it to clean the floors. Act like nothing is unusual. You can combine counterconditioning and desensitizing together. Use a food treat as an incentive for your dog to behave calmly. It may take days or weeks for your dog’s behavior to change. When you are satisfied with the results and his behavior is not fearful, phase out food rewards.

In order for desensitization and counterconditioning programs to be successful, it is necessary to have good control of the dog, a strongly motivating reward, good control of the stimulus, and a well-constructed desensitization gradient. Each session should be carefully planned. Dogs that are punished for inappropriate behavior (fear, aggressive displays) during the retraining program will become more anxious in association with the stimulus. Owners that try to reassure their dogs or calm them with food or toys while they are acting fearful will reinforce the behavior.

Flooding</>
Flooding and exposure techniques involve continuously exposing the dog to the stimulus until he settles down. This technique is very traumatic and potentially harmful, because your dog is faced with the fear-inducing stimulus at its most extreme, and he is not allowed to escape, and this situation continues until the dog gives up. Why put your dog through such a horrible experience?

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common complaint of dog owners. They often come home to destroyed objects and neighbors complaining about the howling and barking. Separation anxiety correction consists of environmental control, behavior modification, and if needed — drug therapy.

Dogs are pack animals and don’t like to be left alone. Some dogs will simply sigh and wait patiently for you to come back, and others will go into panic mode, crying and barking, trying to get you to come back. Some destroy things, such as plants, books, pillows, anything that was “yours”, even to the extent of urinating and defecating on the floor. Severely dependant dogs and dogs that have been passed around, or abandoned are more likely to have separation anxiety than others. The thought of being abandoned again is terrifying. Most owners unknowingly reinforce this anxiety by making a production out of leaving and trying to reassure the dog which has the opposite effect. Nothing enforces a dog’s belief that he has something to worry about more than somebody trying to keep him calm. Like all fears, desensitizing your dog to your comings and goings will help him get over his fear of abandonment. It is best to stretch this process out over several weeks, but if you need to you can try to compress it into a couple of days.

Prepare yourself to walk out the door and practice ignoring your dog completely. Do not say good-bye, do not cuddle him, and do not let on that you are leaving at all. This is a very common mistake people make. By reassuring your dog that you will return in only a little while, showing him affection, hoping he calms down, you are only reinforcing the fears that your dog had to begin with. Just ignore him completely and prepare yourself to do this from now on. If he sits nicely and watches you calmly, this is the time to reward him lavishly. This is the behavior you want to reinforce. Do not punish your dog if he gets nervous as this will only increase anxiety. Avoid playing with the dog prior to departure. Although a long walk or run with your dog prior to leaving will tire him out and a tired dog is a good dog! Practice graduated departures. Go through some of the steps associated with departure several times per day, but do not leave.

Practice departure exercises 1 – 2 times per day for 10 – 15 minutes each time. Teach your dog to “Sit”, using small food rewards, then teach to “Stay” on command, when you walk to the door, step outside and remain away for a short period of time. Progress slowly by increasing the time away. It should be gradual enough so that the dog does not get up or get excited. The goal is to teach the dog that he can be obedient and relaxed in the absence of the owner. Also, practice independence training. During day-to-day routines, such as watching television, tell your dog to stay some distance away instead of allowing the dog to sit in your lap or be touched by you.

If your dog is an “only” dog it is possible that this exacerbates his separation anxiety. Although not recommended as a cure-all, you may want to consider getting another dog for companionship or find a playmate for your dog. Dogs benefit greatly from canine companionship. Schedule a playtime for your dog with another dog that he likes once or twice a week. Some dogs that do not have canine companionship become overly dependent on their humans and experience a great amount of stress whenever they are not accompanied by a human.

For dogs with separation anxiety, the most effective approach is generally a combination of environmental control, behavior modification exercises (therapy), and anti-anxiety medication. The medication is used to help your dog relax so that he can concentrate on performing the behavior modification exercises. Any anti-anxiety drug prescribed by your veterinarian needs to be given exactly as directed. Dogs with separation anxiety have a higher overall anxiety level, and drugs used as part of a treatment plan for separation anxiety need to be given regularly, not just when the dog seems anxious. Patience is important as it can take weeks to months for certain drugs to become effective. It is often necessary to try several drugs or combinations of drugs to determine what will work best for an individual dog.

Intelligent Diversions and Creative Play

When your dog picks up something he shouldn’t, trade it for something he should play with. Rotate his toys and chews to keep them interesting. When you see him choose the right thing notice it! Praise him and have a quick game. Toys are either interactive or pacifiers. Interactive toys are toys that are the most fun to play with you. Pacifier toys are toys designed to keep the bored dog occupied.

Safe Pacifiers for Alone Times

Kongs are rubber toys that bounce around. Add a bit of peanut butter, a square of cheese, or treats. Fill several and hide them in the house or yard and they will keep your dog busy for hours.

Nylabones come in a variety of shapes and sizes and hardness, from the edible varieties which are intended to be eaten, or dental bones designed to massage gums and clean teeth. If your dog isn’t interested, roughen the edges so it looks like another dog enjoyed it first, and then rub peanut butter or squeeze cheese into the crevasses.

Chew toys such as hooves, rawhide, pig ears, and knucklebones chosen carefully (the right size and hardness for your dog’s particular chewing style) can provide hours of chewing satisfaction. If your dog bites off chunks or consumes them quickly they could cause digestive upset or intestinal blockage. Real bones can be safe for some dogs and not for others, depending on how powerfully they chew — heavy chewers can suffer from tooth fractures. There is much debate over raw vs. cooked bones for chewing.

Knotted ropes can massage gums and keep your dog’s teeth clean, plus the added play value of shaking, tossing and pouncing. Some come with rubber toys or tennis balls added for even more fun. You can hide biscuits in the knots to encourage your dog and add interest.

Brain Toys and Games

Tricks and more tricks. You are only limited by your imagination! Sit up, shake hands, roll over, chase your tail, take a bow, and balance a treat on his nose.

Hide his meals and make him use his nose by putting down a widely spaced trail of kibble to the hidden bowl. Gradually day by day decrease the number of “clues” until your dog is finding his bowl without kibble trails.

Teach your dog to play hide and seek, by having a family member hide, have them call “come!” and send the dog to find them — start out easy and make it more and more difficult each day. Play this game in the dark to encourage your dog to use his sense of smell.

Buster Cubes are plastic cubes that give dogs mental stimulation, exercise, relief from boredom and are designed to be filled with bite-sized dry dog food or treats. The food is released as the dog rolls the cube with his nose or paws.

If your dog loves to dig, make him an appropriate place to do it in a sandbox. Bury his favorite toys, bones, and some treats before your dog goes out to play in the sandbox.

Take him out of the room and hide his favorite toy and send him in to find it. Put out a pile of his favorite toys in the center of the room, and have him retrieve them by name.

Teach your dog to deliver notes or other items to other family members. “Take this to mommy” will give your dog a job he can be proud of!

Make obstacle courses similar to agility courses. Play games such as over, under, around, and through. Large cardboard boxes can become tunnels. A wide board and a couple of cinder blocks can become a bridge.

Active Games and Other Activities

Play fetch. Throw tennis balls and have your dog retrieve it back to you, or throw a Frisbee high in the air for your dog to catch.

Running and jogging will tire out a dog. Start slow and build distance gradually with soft surfaces and short distances for young dogs, check pads before and after every run, and avoid the heat of the day. During cold weather make sure the dog pads aren’t injured. Cart or sled pulling is enjoyed by Newfoundlands, Bernese Mt. Dogs, Pyrenees, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and larger breeds.

A child’s wading pool is great fun for water-loving breeds who love spending hot summer days splashing in the water. Swimming is good exercise and a great way to cool off. Not all dogs naturally know how to swim! Doggy life jackets are a good idea when boating.

Keep Your Dog Happy

Provide exercise for your dog several times a day. Don’t take the same route every day when you take your dog for a walk. Provide stimulus and play with your dog when you are home.

Dogs feel “rewarded” for fearful behavior if your pet and praise when the dog is behaving fearfully. Rewarding a behavior increases the likelihood of that behavior occurring more often. Give rewards when the dog is behaving confidently, calmly, and happy. Work with your dog to develop ways to elicit good behavior.

When you experience bad behavior, don’t shout or yell and never hit because that will only increase anxiety. Punishing or crating an anxious dog is a bad thing to do since they cannot control the anxiety and may try to destroy the crate or injure themselves.

You can help your dog overcome fear and prevent anxiety by ignoring anxious behavior and rewarding good behavior.

Anything that is new or unfamiliar to your dog could pose a threat to his life so it’s normal for a dog to fear the unusual. But some dogs fear common events or things that can’t be prevented such as car rides, the groomer, the veterinarian, thunderstorms, family members, water, hats, crowded buildings, other dogs, sirens, children screaming, rollerblades, skateboards, gunshots, bicycles, cars, and trucks. If your dog is genuinely frightened of a specific person, object, or event that can be avoided, it’s appropriate to simply avoid it if at all possible. Many forms of problem behaviors are a result of a dog’s fears. In the home or anywhere your dog has you to protect him, this anxiety is unnecessary.