Give Your Dog a Den

In the wild, dogs dig dens to rear their young. Our house dogs share these wild instincts and will commonly feel comfortable in protected spaces they can call their own.

Most dogs like getting into protected and enclosed spaces like under tables, or other furniture. Crate training your dog will acclimate your dog to the crate, and he’ll soon love the secure and protected space that you provided him.

If you have a wire create, adding a cover, like a towel or a blanket to the top of the crate will create a more den like space. Timid dogs should certainly have a ‘den’ to call their own where they can relax in safety.

Dog Bathing Tips

Flea shampoos don’t keep fleas off dogs, they just kill the fleas currently on the dog. Any type of shampoo will get a dog clean and kill fleas, so if you don’t have money for specialty shampoos, you can use standard human products.

Bathe only as often as necessary. Frequent bathing will dry out a dogs coat and cause skin problems.

If your dog has sensitive skin, use hypo allergenic or calming shampoos like oatmeal. If your dog has picked up some dirt but isn’t smelly, try wetting a towel and damp toweling the dog. It’ll remove most of the dirt without stripping the oils from his coat.

If you dog rolls on the floor or in the dirt after their bath, try an unscented shampoo. The smell of perfumes in shampoos is unpleasant to many dogs.

Keep Your Dog Cool

The worst weather for exercising a dog is hot, humid and still. Dogs need air flow that will evaporate moisture from their tongues to cool off.

When conditions are cool and dry or breezy your dog will be able to stay reasonable cool when exercising. If the weather conditions are hot and humid or still they will be unable to cool their bodies and could easily overheat.

If your dog’s tongue is shaped like a shovel, wide at the tip, he is at his limit of his ability to shed heat. Cool your dog by wetting his fur all the way to the skin before exercising in warm weather.

If the water doesn’t reach his skin, it won’t cool him. Wetting the surface of the fur won’t help your dog, the water must evaporate off his skin for the cooling effect of water to work. And be sure your dog has access to plenty of water to drink, he needs to replenish the fluids he loses while panting.

Be Safe: Say No to Chocolate!

We’ve all heard that chocolate is bad for dogs, but almost everyone has seen their dog eat some, or heard about a dog that ate some chocolate without having a problem.
So what is the truth about dogs and chocolate? Is it bad or isn’t it?
Why do we hear chocolate is so bad when our dogs don’t get sick after eating it?

As with most confusing situations, you must consider more than one factor to understand how likely your dog may be to experience problems with chocolate.
1. How much chocolate did your dog eat?
2. What kind of chocolate did your dog eat?
3. Is your dog more sensitive than most to the dangerous chemicals in chocolate?

1. If a large dog eats a bon bon or a couple of M&M’s there is less chance of danger because the dosage of theobromine is a smaller percentage of their body weight. If a large dog, say a 100 lb Labrador, eats a 1 lb chocolate bar, it’s consumed only 1% of its body weight, that’s not nearly as dangerous as a 5 lb Yorkie eating a 1 lb chocolate bar at 20% of its body weight. Amount matters! Theobromine is a stimulant like caffeine. An overdose occurs much the same way, the bigger you are, the more you can usually tolerate.

2. Not only does size matter, but the type of chocolate matters too. The amount of theobromine found in different types of chocolate varies, darkest chocolates are most dangerous. Dark and bittersweet chocolates have a much higher concentration of the bad stuff (theobromine). White chocolate and milk chocolate have the lowest concentrations.

So, if a large dog eats a small quantity of milk chocolate, you’d want to keep an eye on the situation, but you probably won’t experience a life threatening problem.

If your small dog eats a relatively large quantity of dark, bakers, or bittersweet chocolate, watch the dog very closely for signs of distress.

3.  Why you need to hurry if you think your dog might be in trouble: stimulant poisoning happens very, very quickly and some dogs are hypersensitive to theobromine. There is no way to tell in advance if your dog is hypersensitive, one second your dog gulps down some candy and the next moment he’s practically in a coma. It’s not likely to happen, but you can very suddenly find yourself in a life and death situation. Rushing to the vet is your dog’s only chance to survive if your dog is hypersensitive.

If your dog eats chocolate, watch closely for signs of hyperactivity; panting, excess salivation, rapid breathing, fainting, nervousness and any unusual behavior. If you see these signs and you’re concerned take the dog immediately to the nearest vet.

A little bit of hyper activity might not be a serious sign, however the instant you see signs of distress, rush immediately to the nearest vet for emergency care.

Adjust Your Training to Your Dog’s Personality

Every dog learns differently, depending on personality, breed and socialization.

Changing your training and communication style to fit your dogs personality will speed up your training.

Dominate dogs and dogs with a strong personality need stronger communication and consistent discipline.

Shy and timid dogs need softer commands and lighter or no corrections. Don’t be fooled by a dog’s breed when assessing personality. Look for your dogs true personality.

Not all Rottie’s are strong willed and not all labs are happy go lucky. Pit bulls can be shy and timid. Don’t judge a dog by breed alone.

Catching Your Dog’s Health Issues

Dogs will hide pain and injury. In the wild, injured animals will be attacked and killed, and our dogs still have the protective instincts to hide pain from view.

Watch your dog closely to notice physical problems. Sometimes the only indication of a problem is a change in behavior, refusal to climb the stairs or jump onto furniture.

Refusal to eat, walking slowly or lack of energy, sleeping more than usual, head shaking and licking, sleeping in a different posture or a different place are all potential signs of serious illness.

To catch problems early be sure to watch your dog for signs of new, different, or changing behaviors.

Feed Dogs Separately

If you have multiple dogs, feed them in separate rooms, or separate corners of the same room. You can also put their food into a corner where they can ‘protect’ their food from the other dogs.
This is a good practice, even when your dogs get along and there isn’t any problems with meal time. Giving them a safe spot to eat will help them to feel secure and settled when eating.
Never feed dogs out of the same bowl or in the same spot, and don’t ask them to share space during meal times. If you’re having problems with feeding time consider feeding the dogs in totally separate areas of the house that can be divided by a closed door.
Always feed the dogs in the same order. They can all eat at the same time, but the order that the food is put down on the floor shouldn’t vary. The dominate dog should get his bowl first every time. If you’re not sure which dog is dominate, pick the biggest or oldest or strongest dog and feed that one first every time.
Knowing exactly what will happen at mealtime helps your dogs to be calm and prevents uncertainly that can lead to problems at a very exciting time of day

Dog Vocabulary

Talking and using verbal commands with your dog is a great way to increase your dog’s vocabulary.

Dogs that are spoken to can, over a lifetime, develop a vocabulary of over a hundred words. I had a dog that learned the spelling of some words. Some time after I started using the spellings to try and fool her, she figured out my meanings when I spelled words.

Speaking to your dog in a normal tone of voice and making eye contact will over time allow your dog to discern meaning in some words. They’ll catch on quickest to words that have meaning to them, like dinner, walk, car ride, bath and toy.

Dogs aren’t capable of understanding complex, abstract or global thinking but they can easily understand single words and small phrases that have meaning in their lives.

What words have your dogs learned?

Give Some Attention to Your Dog!

Interacting frequently with your dog will teach them to look at you, and to you, for direction. Making eye contact, speaking their names, and rubbing their bellies frequently will build a strong foundation to your relationship. Dogs crave attention and getting it builds their bond with the human that interacts with them. Teaching your dog tricks is an excellent exercise for building a close bond, but just a momentary touch or greeting if used frequently helps develop a close relationship too.

Dog Food

Varying your dog’s feed is a great way to expand their nutritional scope. No one dog food is absolutely nutritionally complete and changing the type of food you use will give your dog access to different types of nutrients.

Regulations governing dog food manufacturers require them to meet minimum nutritional standards such as protein, fiber and carbohydrates. Each manufacturer meets those requirements with different ingredients and formulations like beef, chicken or lamb for protein, or corn or potatoes for carbohydrates.

Because different companies use different ingredients, changing your dog’s food every 3-6 months helps to bring a variety of sources for protein, minerals, and vitamins to your dog’s food, broadening his exposure to essential nutrients.

Include nutritional supplements with your dog’s food even if feeding a very high quality kibble.  Processed dog foods are like fortified white bread, highly processed and homogenous. Most of the nutrients have been removed then re-added at the end of the processing. In the case of dog foods, very often the nutrients and flavoring are sprayed on.

Adding vitamins C and E, flax oil and Omega3-6-9, or a high quality pre mixed vitamin supplement made especially for dogs will strengthen their immune system dramatically.

It’s not true that table scraps will hurt your dog, on the contrary, scraps could boost your dogs nutritional health by adding a variety of fresh foods and enzymes that are missing in processed foods. Hint: Don’t hand out the scraps from the dinner table as this will encourage begging at the table. Put the scraps in your dogs food bowl.