Is your dog fearful? Does he lack the lack the confidence to live in harmony with the world around him? Well, you can help him become a more confident, happy dog but first you must figure out WHY he is so fearful. There is a full spectrum of fears: anxiety, mild fear, moderate fear, intense fear, and phobias. Read on to learn about the causes of fear.
If any of this rings true to your dog, you may want to consider a behavior modification program. There are a multitude of dog trainers in Knoxville, with a variety of training styles. When thinking about hiring a trainer be sure to question the training philosophy that is used, and then make sure that it matches up with your own philosophy that you hold as a pet parent.
One trainer that we can recommend, and that several of our clients use, is Sally Hummel with Dog Training in your Home. Sally’s goal as a trainer is “to be a catalyst for creating great relationships between dog owners and their dogs and to bring hope, and quick results, to those who feel frustrated or overwhelmed in living with their canine friends.” She uses a Multi-Method Training system, identifying what training method your individual dog responds best to, before setting up a training plan.
6 Causes of Fear:
Pain/Illness: Some dogs develop fears while experiencing pain. For example, if a dog has surgery on a certain area of his body, he may develop a fear of that area of his body being touched due to the pain he experienced during that time.
Abuse: Prior experiences of abuse may cause a dog to fear people altogether. It’s all dependent on the abusive experience. If the dog was abused by a man, he may fear only men. Certain sounds or other environmental factors may remind him of the abusive experience so he may fear that too. If you know your dog’s history, it may help you uncover his fear.
Lack of Socialization: If a dog is not socialized between the ages of a few weeks up to 12 weeks, he may have some issues with fear as a direct result. Socialization is necessary for proper development. It’s never too late to socialize a dog; it just may take some time and plenty of patience.
Genetics: Sometimes it all begins in the womb. A dog’s genetic code and/or breed may dictate his predisposition towards fear or confidence. It is believed that this is the most difficult fear to overcome.
Learned Fears: Fear of association is very common among pups! Many dogs will associate a ride to the groomers with the car, so the ride in the car causes fear even though it’s not the car that’s actually causing the angst, but the destination.
Traumatic Experience: Post traumatic stress is a big hurdle to overcome. It requires a lengthy rehabilitation process, and even then the dog may always express some signs of fear as a direct result. Dog attacks and abuse can cause this syndrome to wreck havoc in your dog’s life.
Fear in dogs is just as complex, if not more, as it is in humans. It requires behavior modification therapy and lots of love to overcome. Patience and persistence is the key. Never give up on your dog – You will be greatly rewarded with a lifetime of love and companionship.
Kids headed back to school last week here in Knox County, and around East Tennessee, but summers not technically over yet, folks! That means that heat stroke is still a big danger to your dog! I’m still seeing plenty of 90 degree days in the future forecast.
Exposing your pet to the heat can have serious and possibly deadly consequences. Why? Dogs have a hard time cooling themselves off. Their system of cooling off is not as sophisticated as ours. Dogs can only cool themselves off by panting and sweating through the pads on their feet, but that’s not equivalent to a human sweating.
Heat stroke is preventable during the sweltering summer heat if you follow some simple tips! But first, here are some of the signs of heat stroke in dogs:
- Excessive panting
- Bright red or pale gums
- Bright red tongue
- Temperature of 104+ degrees
- Excessive Drooling
- Excessive thirst
- Glazed over eyes
- Thick saliva
- Increased pulse or heartbeat
Instead of taking the chance of these scary symptoms happening to your dog, follow these tips.
Tips to Help Prevent Heat Stroke
- Never leave your dog unattended in the car. The temperature can rise to deadly levels within minutes!
- Exercise your dog in the early morning or late evening hours when it’s cooler outside. If you can, play indoor games whenever possible.(When we have dog walks scheduled mid-day during the summer, we follow several precautionary measures, including: walking shaded paths, reducing our speed, caring water, taking breaks inside, and substituting indoor play for part of the time in extreme temperatures)
- Provide your dog with plenty of water AND shade whenever he’s in the backyard.
- Many dog houses actually retain heat so your dog needs other areas of refuge besides his dog house.
- When your dog is outside, allow him time to play water games. Spray him with a hose or provide him access to a kiddie pool so he can regulate his own body temperature in the cool water.
- Your dog’s fur is like insulation so don’t completely shave him in the summer! He should have at least an inch of hair to insulate him and prevent sunburn.
- Never muzzle your dog when he’s out in the heat, and short nosed dogs like pugs should never be muzzled at all!
- Senior dogs, obese dogs and dogs with any other ailments are at an increased risk of being affected by the heat, so keep them inside where it’s cool whenever possible.
What if it’s already gotten to the point that you are noticing several of the symptoms in your pet, and you suspect heat stroke? During normal office hours, please call your vet to determine the next steps. If it’s after hours or the weekend, we recommend the following after hours vet office:
Animal Emergency Critical Care and Referral Center
Today wraps up the week long national celebration of International Assistance Dog week. This annual event is celebrated on the first Sunday of August for one week. Due to the efforts of Ms. Marcie Davis, the celebration honors and raises awareness for assistance animals across the world. These amazing animals work to serve disabled men and women, thereby reducing their limitations in day-to-day life!
Here in East Tennessee, we’re fortunate to have a local service dog organization, Wilderwood Service Dogs, located in Maryville. With their mission “changing the lives of families, one dog at a time” they help in providing highly trained service dogs, specialized in helping people with neurological disorders. If you are interested in getting involved with this local assistance dog organization, they have opportunities for puppy foster families, puppy walkers, kennel volunteers, and a variety of other sponsorship or donation opportunities. Check out their page How Can I Get Involved? for more information.
Another local East Tennessee service dog non-profit is Smoky Mountain Service Dogs. This group has a mission of “providing public access tested/approved mobility assistance service dogs to disabled Veterans and providing service dogs to autistic children.” SMSD also offers the opportunity to volunteer as a puppy raiser, socializer, and respite provider. Check out their Volunteer Page for more information.
The founder of this week of recognition, Marcie Davis, is the CEO of Davis Innovations, a consulting firm located in Santa Fe, NM. She has also been a paraplegic for over 35 years, and has put forth much effort to further awareness and provide services for assistance dogs and their owners. She is an author and has a well known radio talk show called “Working Like Dogs” which can be heard via www.petliferadio.com. Her talk show provides valuable information for service and working dogs and their humans. Her show has also hosted various celebrity animal lovers, such as Betty White.
International Assistance Dog Week exists to recognize organizations such as these that are focused on devoted, hardworking assistance and service dogs that work to help their humans overcome disability related limitations. The week’s main purpose is to: – recognize and honor these amazing animals – recognize and honor the people who raise and train them – to raise awareness – to recognize the amazing and heroic deeds accomplished by these animals To learn more about this annual event, stop by www.assistancedogweek.org
How do you choose the best collar or harness for your dog?
It will all depend upon your pet, your pet’s age, and even their breed. No, the leash and harness are not fashion accessories as many people think. They are tools (that luckily do come in some great collars and prints!). Tools which allow you and your dog to achieve the best possible enjoyment out of walking. There are four basic types of recommended models for you to select from, dependent upon your pets’ needs.
This model is the most common seen in our pet stores and used thoughtout the world. The simple long leash and colar around the neck is for the low energy pup who walks well and is well behaved. If your dog is a good walker and does not pull, listens to your commands, and does not distract easy, then this will work just fine for you both.
Slip Collar -
This option is also a fairly recognizable tool used in grooming and veterinary offices. It requires no collar. You simply put the round end of the leash over your dog’s neck. It allows your dog to have freedom if they walk well and should they pull, the slip will tighten. It also allows you the freedom to control any unwanted behavior along your walks. You gently pull the leash to the left or right and it will tug on your dog’s neck – sort of popping them back into reality. This is a great option for a fairly well trained dog that may simply get distracted from time to time and need that gentle nudge. Please, ensure you are using gentle nudges and not using tons of unnecessary force on your pet. Chocking your dog is not acceptable! If you find your gentle tugs don’t get their attention then perhaps this tool is not the right fit.
Illusion Collar -
This option is fairly uncommon but a great way to control the dog who pulls, without chocking or utilizing excessive force to reign them back in. It fits on the neck and applies pressure on their most sensitive part of the neck.
The harness is a broad category for a large variety of options. A standard harness should be used for dogs that are easily controlled and not distracted. It is ideal for taking your dog on a walk while you rollerblade, skateboard or bike. It gives your dog much more ability to pull so it is not a good fit for some dogs. It will make them stronger.
It is a great fit for smaller dogs, dogs with slender and delicate necks, as well as breeds that have flat faces that restrict their breathing. Dogs with smaller, thin necks are at great risk of throat damage and collapsed tracheal issues when they are not fitted with a harness. The other options above are too hard on their sensitive necks and could cause damage. Fit them with a good harness and keep them comfy.
Whatever option you choose, keep in mind that there is always a training and adjustment period. Always exercise patience and be aware that there may be a need for some trial and error with the different options until you find one that works best for you and your dog.
FLEAS. Who doesn’t immediately begin to itch when you hear this word? Fleas are pests. Plain and simple. If you or your pets have not had an encounter with a flea at some point in your life then you are one of the lucky ones! Whoever came up with the phrase “He couldn’t harm a flea” obviously is one of the few who hasn’t!
Fleas, what do they do?
Well let’s start with this: cause havoc! Fleas land on a host, your pet. Once they have landed and get cozy they feed. How do they feed? Well they basically bite open the skin and drink the blood. They then are full from that little meal so they are free to mate and lay eggs. Then, they feed some more. One or two fleas are all it takes to set up a rather large family tree which results in a very bothersome infestation.
So what can you do? Let’s talk about a game plan.
As with anything, prevention is the best key to avoid a flea infestation. You can achieve this by trying to keep the fleas at bay and away from your house and your pets (and of course you as well)!
Here are a few things you can do to help prevent a flea infestation in your home or on your pets:
- Groom and bathe your pets regularly.
- Vacuum frequently to pick those pests up!
- Keep your pet healthy! An unhealthy pet is the perfect host for fleas.
- Mow and keep your grass short.
- Trim shrubs and plants.
- Keep leaf debris to a minimum.
- Keep trash cans tightly closed. Rodents that are on the prowl for your trash carry fleas!
- Contact your local pest control company. Discuss organic pest control options for your lawn and shrubs.
In addition to prevention you will also need a protection plan.
There are a variety of options to prevent flea infestations on your pet:
Oral - This is a pill form that works wonders. It will not wash out and is not messy when applied to your pet. It will protect the entire body.
Spray on – It kills on contact which can be helpful. There are toxic side effects for pets and humans so be sure to do your research before making your decision.
Spot on – These are also highly effective options. Many people find this option to be the best. It’s cost effective, easy to use, and lasts for a month. It kills the flea when it bites.
Now should you find your pet infested, immediately wash them in hot, soapy water. This will drown the fleas. Then immediately treat them with one of the options above (follow the dosing instructions carefully – do not apply any flea prevention medication more than the instructions call for). You will also need to completely clean your home from top to bottom. This may entail having your carpets treated. Wash all bedding, and vacuum the entire home and furniture.
As always, please ensure you consult with your vet to achieve the best results for you and your pet, and get rid of those fleas once and for all! So tell us, what’s your preferred method of flea prevention?