Archive for the ‘Behavior’ Category

Why Does My Dog Lick Me?

Do you love dog smooches or do they gross you out? Dogs like to lick us on the face, hands, feet, arms, legs and wherever they can reach. While some dogs may only give a lick or three, other pups just don’t know when to quit. Excessive licking can be an annoyance for you and a turn-off for your non-dog friends. Luckily, it’s a behavior you can modify with lots of training and patience.

Why Dogs Lick Us

Many people see dog licks or kisses as signs of affection. While there is some truth to that idea, dogs also lick humans for other reasons.

• Licking is a natural instinct. Dogs first experience licking as newborns when mothers use their tongues to stimulate and clean their babies. Your dog may lick because he wants to bond with you.

• Dogs learn about us through licking. Dogs gather information about us through scent receptors located in their nose and mouth. Through the sweat and sebum we release, they can tell if we are stressed, afraid or happy. Dogs tend to like licking feet since they contain the most sweat glands.

• Licking feels good. When a dog licks, endorphins are released that allow her to feel pleasure, comfort and safety.

• Dogs show respect by licking. Your dog is indicating that you are in charge and he is the submissive one. In other words, he knows where his kibble comes from!

Is it Safe for my Dog to Lick Me?

You’ve probably heard the old myth that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s. Well, that’s both true and not true. The kind of bacteria found in both dog and human mouths depends on what’s recently been there. Unlike humans, dogs will eat garbage, raw meat and even poo. They lick privates and sniff butts. But in terms of spreading disease, dog’s mouths are clean. That’s because the bacteria there is species specific; meaning dog germs won’t hurt humans and vice versa. The one exception is rabies, a damaging disease that can be passed from dogs to humans.

How to Get Your Dog to Stop Licking You

Since licking is an ingrained behavior, you’ll need to teach your pup that it’s not acceptable. You’ll need time, patience and consistency to change this habit. When the going gets tough, just remember that your dog wants to please you, so show him how.

• Tell your dog “no” and move away. The first step in the training is to let your dog know that licking you is not okay.

• Teach him a better way. If your dog seeks your attention by licking, reinforce simple commands such as sit, shake, down and roll over. Pile on the praise and reward him when he correctly follows these commands.

• Distract your dog from licking. Interrupt the behavior with a sharp sound or a toy that she can fetch.

• Apply something that taste bad to dogs to your skin. Curb the licking with hot sauce, lemon juice or something equally yucky.

• Pretend that the licking hurts you. Some dogs have responded well when their owners yell “Ouch!” whenever the dog licks them.

• Consider a time-limited “licking session.” Allow your dog to lick you as much as she wants during a set time. Teach her the word “lick” when she’s doing it and teach her to stop with the command “no lick.” Some dogs just need to get licking out of their systems and will be satisfied after the initial greeting.

Dawg Gone Good’s Top 3 Licking Distractions

True Chews Bully Sticks: Dogs love bully sticks and they taste better than humans. Stop the licking with one of these odor-free 100% natural chews.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kong: Fill a Kong with peanut butter or liver treat and let your dog lick to his heart’s content.


 
 
 
 
 
Planet Dog Eats: Use these 100% natural treats to reward your dog and give her the attention she craves.

Help for the Ball Obsessed

Playing fetch with your dog is great exercise for you and him. Some dogs, however, become too enthusiastic and develop a ball obsession. They get so focused on the ball that nothing else matters. They constantly stare at the ball, bug the heck out of you to throw it or even sleep with a ball in their mouths. Many people find this incredible frustrating because their dog never seems to relax and just hang out. Working, herding and sporting dogs such as shepherds, collies, pinchers, labs, spaniels, huskies and boxers have been bred to perform jobs and fetching the ball is instinctual to them. Any breed of dog though can become ball fixated. Luckily, there are ways to train your dog to play with the ball without overdoing it.

Dangers of Ball Obssession

It’s important to determine if your dog loves chasing the ball or if she is really ball obsessed. A balanced dog can play with other toys, kids and dogs. An obsessed dog seems to go into a trance.  The body stiffens, eyes glaze over and the pupils become fixated. Instead of being fun, fetching the ball becomes a matter of life and death. Some other things to consider:

• Does your dog abandon everything to play fetch?

• Does your dog prefer fetch above all other things?

• Is your dog neurotic about the ball?

• Is you dog destructive and anxious without the ball?

The more you answer yes, the more likely it is that your dog truly has a ball fixation. While playing fetch with your dog outdoors is a great way to release pent up energy, true ball fixation can cause problems such as:

• Safety issues for your dog. He may be so focused that he runs into the street or other dangerous areas.

• Safety issues for others. Your dog may stop at nothing to go after the ball, knocking down people, kids and other dogs in the way.

• Heat exhaustion. Some dogs do not understand the need for a rest break and a drink of water.

• Not following you as the pack leader. You must establish rules and limitations during playtime so your dog will follow your command.

• Not socializing with other dogs. A ball-obsessed dog typically will not run or play with other dogs if a ball is in sight.

Tips for Breaking Ball Obsession

Your dog loves boundaries and rules. When playing fetch, it’s up to you to set boundaries of what is acceptable behavior.

1. Learn to recognize when your dog is going into an obsessive state. Look for the physical signs of dog obsession in your pooch and correct her in the early stage before the obsession takes over.

2. Take your dog on a walk before playing ball. This will help expend any pent-up energy and allow him to play in a less frenzied state.

3. Get your dog calm before throwing the ball. Ask him to sit and make eye contact with you. Reward him by throwing the ball. Use a calm, assertive energy and avoid getting him worked up by saying things such as ,”You want it? You want it? Go get it!!!!!!!”

4. Allow your dog to play with a ball at home without playing fetch. Being near the ball will desensitize him and help bring down the level of obsession.

5. Teach the “all gone” command. Put the ball away and out of sight and say, “All gone.” Then ignore your dog when she asks for the ball. Be consistent and always follow through on this command.

6. Buy a ball chucker. You’ll be able to throw the ball three times further than by hand and give your dog more exercise in a shorter time. Another big plus? No more bending over to pick up a slobbery ball!

7. Alternate toys. If your dog is fixated on a certain ball, mix it up. Between throws, try a frisbie or different type of ball. Keeping the energy up will help stop him from obsessing on one object.

Dawg Gone Good’s Best Fetch Toys

Planet Dog Bamboo                    K-9 Vibram Disk                       JW Toys Duck Dummy
Chucker

                                 

Is Agility Training Right for Your Dog?

Do you have a pooch potato? One way to get your dog out and exercising is to try agility training. In this fun-filled activity, you direct your dog through an obstacle course and his performance is scored for speed and accuracy. Dogs learn to follow commands from afar and jump and weave through special equipment such as hoops, tunnels and teeter totters. Many dog lovers participate in agility just for fun but if you discover your dog is an agility athlete, you can participate in timed trials for competitions.

Best Breeds for Agility Training

Dogs between the ages of 9 months and 8 years do best in agility training. All breeds may participate but dogs descended from a working breed with medium builds tend to be better suited to the training. The best breeds include cattle dogs, shepherds, sheepdogs, poodles, pinschers, terriers, schnauzers, retrievers, collies and spaniels. Dogs with short noses such as bulldogs, boxers and pugs; giant breeds such as great danes or mastiffs, and dogs with short legs, such as dachshunds, may have difficulty with this type of training.

Personality Traits Needed for Agility Training

To have fun with agility, your dog needs to be interested in participating. Dogs successful in agility training have these characteristics:

• Motivation. Dogs willing to work for toys, food or praise can be successfully trained in agility.

• Focus. The dog needs to follow the owner’s directions without getting easily distracted.

• Self-confidence. The dog should be able to work away from the owner and handle change.

• High energy. Dogs that get bored easily or get into trouble at home often excel in agility.

• Athletic ability. Dogs in good overall health with good stamina make the best agility performers.

Benefits of Agility Training

Agility training provides an outlet for your dog’s natural instincts and abilities. Benefits include:

• Keeping your dog active and healthy through exercise

• Reinforcing obedience training and improving communication

• Developing flexibility, speed and accuracy

• Providing mental stimulation to combat boredom

•  Building trust and confidence

In addition to these great benefits for your dog, agility training can also help you stay in shape, burn fat, build muscle, stay alert, bond with your dog and have fun.

Agility Classes in Albuquerque

Interested in trying agility training? Check out these resources to get started. *

Acoma Training Center (acomatrainingcenter.com, 505-266-6436) offers beginning agility, agility drill and special agility classes.

Albuqerque Kanine College (albuquerquekkaninecollege.net, 505-275-6623) holds puppy, beginning and advanced agility classes.

Animal Humane New Mexico (animalhumanenm.org, 505-255-5523) teaches agility fun classes in a light-hearted setting.

Sandia Obedience Club (sdocnm.org, 505-888-4221) offers agility classes and sponsors AKC trials in obedience, agility, tracking and rally.

* Dawg Gone Good does not endorse these businesses. Listings offered for reader convenience only.

Why Does My Dog . . . ???

Do you ever feel like your dog has selective hearing? No matter how many times we scold them, our four-legged friends can seem hell-bent on eating the cat’s food or digging up the yard. Dogs actually love rules and want to please us. When they don’t, it’s because they don’t understand what we want. It’s up to us to consistently reinforce the rules and train our dogs out of bad behaviors. Here, some common behavior issues and how to resolve them.

Not Coming When Called

Many of us experience this frustrating behavior with our dogs. Teaching your dog to come when called is essential to his health and safety. To get your dog to come, you need to make the experience a happy one. Call to him in a happy voice and when he runs to you, reward him with praise, hugs and treats. Don’t use a scolding tone and if your dog runs, don’t chase him. Practice calling him in the house or your yard and reward him every time he obeys. Until your dog can be trusted, never let him off his leash in an unconfined area.

Pulling the Leash

Dogs pull on the leash because they’re excited, scared, see something to chase or want to get to other people and dogs. They also naturally walk faster then us. A great technique to stop leash pulling is to completely stop any time the lease is not loose. Stand still, ignore your dog and once he stops pulling, praise him and move forward. You have to be consistent in this training, which means stopping a lot, but your dog will learn that walking by you will get him where he wants to go.

Whining for Attention

Does your dog whine when her ball rolls under the sofa? Whining to get attention, treats or a toy can be annoying and you may be unknowingly reinforcing that behavior. If your dog whines and you make eye contact, touch, or even scold her, she’s getting your attention. Instead, teach your dog to stay quiet. Don’t give her any attention or rewards until she stops whining. You can also cross your arms, turn your back and ignore her to show her that whining won’t work.

Digging

Dogs dig for many reasons: to bury a bone, chase prey or get cool in the summer. They’ll also dig if they’re confined, bored or need exercise. Stop your dog from digging as soon as it happens so your pup won’t make it a habit. Start by giving your dog walks, playtime and training. Don’t leave your dog unsupervised in the yard and redirect him with a firm “no” if he starts digging.

Barking at the Door

When someone rings your doorbell, does your dog go wild? While it may make sense to yell at your dog to quiet down, she doesn’t understand and thinks you’re barking, too. One way to stop door barking is to teach your dog to go to a place such as her bed. Have a friend knock or ring the doorbell. Throw a treat on your dog’s bed and tell her, “Go to your place.” Work to get her to go to her bed first, then reward her with a treat. As she progresses, try opening the door. If your dog, steps off her bed, close the door quickly.

Jumping on People

Dogs interact with other dogs by jumping on them so it’s natural for them to jump on people. Many people send the wrong message to jumping dogs by pushing them away with their hands or yelling at them. Dogs see this as a game and a reward for jumping. The most effective way to stop a dog from jumping is to cross your arms and turn your back to the dog. Ignore the dog and don’t give him any eye contact.

Finding Safe Dog Toys

Some people may think we spoil our dogs if they have toys. What they don’t understand is that toys relieve boredom, lessen stress, provide a chewing outlet and help with behavior issues. Plus, they’re a fun way to interact with your pup. When choosing toys for your dog, you should take into consideration your dog’s age, size and chewing tendency. You’ll also want to ensure that the toys are safe to prevent choking, intestinal blockage and exposure to toxins. Dog toys are not regulated, so consider the following tips when shopping for your dog.

Tips for Buying Safe Dog Toys

1. Buy your dog toys from a pet store. The owners of these stores source safe dog toys from reputable manufacturers. They can also recommend the right toys for your dog based on his age, size and activity level. Avoid buying dog toys from grocery, discount or dollar stores—these tend to be cheaply made and could be a choking hazard for your dog.

2. Look for toys made in the USA. Many dog toys are manufactured in China and contain high levels of lead, chromium and cadmium. Dog toys are not subject to any regulations or safety standards; it’s up to owner to research the safest brands.

3. Opt for non-toxic, lead-free, phthalate-free toys. Painted toys have the largest amount of lead. Vinyl and plastic dog toys contain phthalates, chemicals that leech out of plastic and can cause chronic toxic effects on organs.

4. Choose the right type of toy for your dog. Knowing your dog’s instinctive behaviors, activity level and temperament will help you select the right toy. For instance, if you know your dog will tear apart a soft toy in minutes, opt instead for a hard rubber bone or ball.

5. Find the right size. If a toy or ball is too large, your dog will have problems carrying it in her mouth or handling it with her paws. Too-small toys can cause choking if swallowed. Don’t give your dog a ball that he can push to the back of his mouth.

6. Beware squeakers. Dogs love squeaky toys and many will tear a toy apart to get to the squeaker. If swallowed, the plastic squeaker could choke your dog or cause an intestinal blockage.

7. Remove decorations from toys. For your dog’s safety, take off ribbons, strings, tags, buttons, decorative eyes or anything else your dog can chew off and swallow.

8. Give toys made specifically for dogs. Some people give dogs toys made for children. Many times these toys will not hold up to a dog’s chewing instinct and can pose a choking hazard.

9. Throw out worn toys. Check your dog’s toys often and discard any that are broken, cracked or pulling apart. You don’t want your dog swallowing the broken bits.

10. Provide variety. Your dog needs more than one type of toy. Always have toys that your dog can carry, roll, cuddle and attack.

11. Rotate your dog’s toys. Don’t let your dog have all his toys at once. Hold some back and then switch them so your dog stays interested.

12. Always supervise your dog when giving new toys. Observing your dog with toys will keep her safe and also let you know what types of toys work best. If your dog starts shredding or destroying a toy, take it away. Decide which toys your dog can play with unsupervised, which ones he can handle for short periods of time and which ones require supervision every time.

Dawg Gone Good’s Top 5 Safe Toys

1. Orbee-Tuff Glow-in-the-Dark Whistle Ball from Planet Dog is made in the USA from non-toxic recycled materials.

 
 
 
 
 
 
2. The Hol-ee Roller from JW Pets is a tough rubber honeycomb ball perfect for fetching and tugging.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3. KONG Rubber Toys are made in the USA out of a natural red rubber compound that dogs love to chew.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4. Mingo from West Paw Designs is an unstuffed plush toy made in the USA from non-toxic, organic fabric.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5. Daisy’s Funny Bone from Life Is Good is a 6-inch non-toxic bouncy toy with a peppermint scent.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Legal Disclaimer

This post is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for a vet’s professional diagnosis and treatment.

Should I Get Another Dog?

You love your dog and all the joy she’s brought to your life; adding another dog will just double the fun, right? Well, maybe or maybe not. Adopting a dog is a huge responsibility and will change your household. Many owners underestimate the time, energy and money required. You may see a cute puppy and want to impulsively bring him home. The key to successfully adopting a second dog, however, is to take a slower approach. Really think about how a new dog will fit into your lifestyle and consider these questions:

1. Why do you want another dog? Before you start dreaming about a little ball of fluff, think about your reasons for adding a new pet. If you want a second dog for your children, be realistic about what their involvement will really be. Adding a second dog to be a companion for your first dog can be a wonderful idea; just realize that you can’t leave them alone to entertain themselves. Never choose a dog because the breed is trendy or you like the way it looks. Don’t be swayed to adopt a dog because it is cheap or free–dogs are never free when you consider the financial and physical care they require. If, on the other hand, you truly love dogs and understand the commitment needed to give a pup a loving home, you’ll make the right decision for your household.

2. Is now the right time to adopt a new dog? Take a minute and consider your day-to-day life. Are you away from home a lot? Taking on a new project at work? Expecting a new baby? The ASPCA recommends waiting six months after big life changes such as divorce, death of a pet, children leaving home or health problems before a getting a new dog.

3. Do you have the financial resources to support a second dog? Your dog will live approximately 12 years, which is a huge financial commitment. Think about vet visits, medicine, food, treats, toys, grooming and boarding if you travel. Does getting a second dog make sense from a financial point of view?

4. Do you have the time and patience to open your home to another dog? In order to have a healthy, happy pet,  you will need to spend time playing, exercising, grooming, training, feeding and socializing your dog. A puppy will require more time for potty training, supervision and correction.

5. Is your dog ready for the addition of a new pup? You must consider the affect a new dog will have on your first one. It’s generally recommended to get a dog of the opposite sex so the two pups will be more compatible. Waiting until your first dog is two years old before adding a new one will make training easier. Consider any training issues your present dog has and work to correct those before bringing in a new pet. You don’t want your new baby picking up any bad habits. Also, consider that some dogs like being only dogs and don’t want to share their humans.

6. Are all family members on board? Dogs love consistency and routine. Your family should feel good about adding a new dog and participate in the training and care of the new pet. They need to be able to take over the responsibility of caring for the dogs if you are sick or away.

The Reality of Two Dogs

You will need to change some behaviors and routines in your house if you bring in a second dog.

• Food. It’s best to separate the dogs when feeding them so they don’t feel like they have to compete with each other or guard their food.  If your current dog free feeds, you will need to stop this practice. Instead, serve between two to four meals a day; frequent feedings will help your dogs get along better.

• Treats. If you give a treat to one dog in sight of the other dog, give the other dog a treat as well. An exception to this rule: if you are rewarding for good behavior and only one of the dogs responds, just give a treat to that dog. Hopefully, the other dog will soon learn that good behavior leads to something yummy.

• Chews and toys. Separate the dogs before giving them desirable chews or toys. If  you put them out to share, you risk the dogs fighting. If your first dog has access to these items, that will have to change.

• Beds. Each dog needs a bed or crate as a safety zone. If your first dog sleeps in your bed, don’t take that privilege away. It’s okay to have one dog sleep in your bed and the other dog sleep in a crate, if he needs that support.

• Attention. Each dog will need frequent individual attention from you at home and away from home. Take one dog on a walk or running errands without the other one. This attention will help with the emotional health of your dogs and build your relationship with each of them.

Caring for Older Dogs

The life expectancy of dogs has expanded. Most dogs in the 1970s lived 7 or 8 years; today dogs can live 10 to 15 years. Dogs have different needs as they age. Understanding the changes your dog experiences will help you provide the best care for your best friend.

Senior Dog?

Like humans, dogs age differently. Breed, weight, nutrition and vet care affect a dog’s life. In general, small dogs under 20 pounds may not show any signs of aging until they’re 12; 50 pound dogs won’t seem old until they’re 10, and large dogs reach old age at 8 or 9.

Signs of Aging

Most older dogs will experience these changes:

• Slowing down. You may notice your dog takes longer to stand up and walks up stairs slowly. Many dogs experience arthritis pain as they age. You vet can advise you on ways to eliminate your dog’s discomfort and help his mobility.

Graying hair and drying skin. Changes in the coat and skin are a natural part of aging. You may notice that your dog’s muzzle looks gray or that he has a dull coat. Brushing frequently and massaging your dog will keep the circulation flowing and improve the condition of the coat. Larger breed dogs may develop callouses on their elbows because they lay down more often.

• Brittle nails and thick foot pads. Since older dogs may not be wearing their nails down through exercise, you should clip them more often.

• Hearing and vision loss. You may not notice that your dog has hearing loss until it’s advanced. Dogs may stop following vocal commands or appear aggressive because they’re startled when they don’t hear people approaching them. If your dog has a cloudy eye, he probably has sclerosis. Many people confuse this condition with cataracts but dogs with sclerosis can typically see well.

• Sensitivity to temperature changes. As dogs age, they don’t regulate their body temperature as well. A dog that tolerated hear or cold well when younger, may have comfort issues now.

Behavioral Changes in Older Dogs

Stress will make these changes worse:

• Separation anxiety. Your dog may whine, bark, become destructive or potty inside when you’re out.

• Sensitivity to noise. Sounds such as thunder that never bothered your dog before now make him scared.

• Vocalizing. Your dog may whine, howl or bark due to hearing loss or separation anxiety.

• Aggression. Older dogs don’t like change and may have a reaction to new people. Aggression can also be caused when your dog is in pain or experiencing a drug reaction.

• Confusion, roaming in circles, disorientation, withdrawing. Your dog may have cognitive dysfunction syndrome which affects the brain and nervous system.

Signs of Disease

As dogs age, their likelihood for developing a disease increases. Their immune system is not as strong as it was, making dogs more susceptible to illness.

• Obesity. Older dogs need approximately 20 percent fewer calories; they also tend to exercise 10 to 20 percent less. Since obesity is the number one health problem in older dogs, consider food that’s high in fiber and low in fat.

Increased thirst and urination; increased appetite without weight gain. Signs of diabetes; take your dog to the vet for testing.

• Tiring more quickly. If you dog is out of breath with minimal exercise, he may have cardio-pulmonary problems and should be checked by your vet.

• Coughing and excessive panting. Signs of heart disease; take your dog to the vet.

• Bleeding gums, loss of teeth, bad breath. Periodontal disease affects many older dogs; check with your vet for treatment.

Help Your Older Dog

We all age, and while it may be difficult seeing your dog move more slowly, there are things you can do to make him more comfortable.

Take your older dog to the vet at least once a year.

• Walk your dog. If your dog has stiff joints, try taking two shorter walks rather than one long one.

• Provide your dog with a bed or two. He’ll appreciate having a soft surface for naps.

• Groom your dog more often. He will love the attention and brushing will stimulate the skin.

• Reduce calories. It may be hard to say no when your dog begs for food but your dog’s obesity can cause serious health problems.

Legal Disclaimer

This post is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for a vet’s professional diagnosis and treatment.