Articles

When dog meets dog

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

dogguide.net

When dogs meet other dogs they can transfer germs like we do to other people. I am telling you this not to scare you but so that you are not surprised when your dog catches something. There are a few things dogs can catch one of them is kennel cough even if your dog is vaccinated. The bordetella vaccine only prevents your dog from catching the bordetella virus but there are different types of bacteria and viruses that cause the same symptoms of kennel cough. Most likely your dog will catch one form or another in its life but that is nothing to worry about. As long as your dog is still drinking water and there is no green discharge coming from its nose or eyes your dog’s immune system should work the infection off on its own and develop immunity to it if he is exposed again. Another common transferable virus, especially amongst puppies, is mouth warts. They look gross and are contagious but will fall off on their own after a few weeks. You don’t have to worry about humans getting any of things I am describing to you since they aren’t transferable to us. The last bug is lice. Dog lice are very easily treated; you just need to stop at your vet and ask for treatment and as long as they have your dog’s most recent weight, they don’t need a vet visit. Lice cannot transfer to us or any of your other animals such as cats or rabbits and you don’t need to do a mass cleaning if your dog has it since the treatment goes into your dog’s bloodstream and prevents further infestation. Lice only transfer through dog to dog contact and can make your dog very itchy. If you have any questions about these common problems please ask your vet.


Scratches and cuts

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

When dogs play it is with their mouth and feet. Some run and chase while others wrestle. If your dog is with other dogs where he frequently wrestles, he will get cuts. It is not because the dogs are attacking each other.Tthere is nothing wrong with your dog getting scratches or cuts. If your dog has thick fur, most likely you won’t ever see him get a cut because he has protection but if your dog is short haired it will most likely get many scratches and cuts throughout its life. Does that mean he is being picked on or beat up? Not necessarily, he just does not have the fur that other dogs have that would normally protect their skin. Scratches are rarely deep since it is difficult for a dog to put a lot of force into their feet, but they cause long scabs that look bad because the hair comes out when the scab does. Punctures vary, some are deep but most are quite minimal and should heal perfectly well on their own. Both types of cuts need to aerate so that the skin underneath can push all the hair and dirt out. If they are not aerated properly or are sealed, abscesses can form and infection can set in. When a cut does occur it is best to clean it with peroxide. Using peroxide will help clean the cut and allows you to pinpoint where it is if there is an excess of blood. Peroxide shouldn’t be used continuously since it destroys new cells, but hibitane is a good cleaner that can continuously be used and polysporin with antibiotics to help heal. A first aid kit for your dog is always handy to have at home. If the cut starts to get infected please go to your vet.


A Walk in the Park

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

It is important to stay vigilante while at the Dog Park. The Dog Park is not an area where we go to relax while our dog runs around and has fun; it is a place where we must make sure that our dog feels safe. To dogs, the Dog Park is like the Olympics. Dogs never know who else will be at the park or what breeds and personalities they might find and it tests them every time they meet a new dog. To help your dog, it would be wise to not bring overly smelly treats or toys to the park in that it might make your dog a target for other dogs or fights can break out over possession of toys and food. The polite way for dogs to meet is by sniffing at an angle to one another so that they are not being challenging. It is rude when dogs barge in to your dog’s space and can start a fight if the two dogs are excitable. Overly excited dogs that cannot seem to sit still can also be a target for other dogs as they try to correct his unruly behavior. To help your dog out at the Dog Park you should teach your dog to come to you if he is nervous and to use you as support. If your dog is very nervous around other dogs, you can massage the webbing where his thigh meets his leg to help calm him while the other dogs sniff him. If your dog is being chased and at first it starts as fun but then it gets too overwhelming for your dog, call him back to you so you can help diffuse the situation. Please contact a trusted trainer if you have any questions about Dog Park behaviors.


A Fear of Dogs

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

Being afraid of dogs is understandable; they are predators with teeth and claws. As humans we have the ability to understand dogs and to not fully give into our fight or flight instincts. The worst possible thing to do around an unknown dog is to act weird. You should never scream or run, as dogs can sense your tension which may cause some to investigate further. If you are scared of dogs the best thing to help with your fear is to understand their body language. Don’t always interpret a waging tail as a happy dog! Dogs display tension and fear in a number of ways. Their jaw will be tight and shut, they are not barking, you might see the white of their eyes, and their body will be tense with every muscle coiled and ready. If you are afraid it is best to not show it. You can just avoid the dog if possible but if it is off leash and comes up to you the best thing you can do is try and stay relaxed while it sniffs you. Let the dog sniff you if it comes up to you in a calm manner, the dog will most likely lose interest afterwards. Moving quickly or jerking your body away will make most dogs more curious about you since you are acting in a way that most people don’t. If you want to send a dog away, step forward and point away while saying a firm “go”. Most dogs will be startled and will move away since they do not know what you are capable of and don’t want to take the risk. There are lots of resources online about dog behavior or consult a dog trainer.


Living in the Moment

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

A wonderful thing about dogs is their ability to just live life as it is. They don’t worry about what happened in the past or what will happen tomorrow they just live. That is why rescue dogs with horrible pasts are able to just move on and enjoy life as it is today. Since dogs don’t plan out their day and just react to situations instead, timing is crucial when trying to teach dogs. The moment your dog does the new behavior you want, you have to be right there with praise or you will miss your window of opportunity. This is also the same when correcting your dog. When your dog does something that you don’t approve of it is crucial you catch him in the act. When you get mad at your dog after the fact, this is considered punishment. You are not doing anything good for your dog by getting mad at him about something he has already forgotten about, it just confuses him and loses his trust in you. If you do want to correct your dog for something it has does wrong, it is important that you are right there when it happens and that your correction is done with the same intensity that your dog has. If you are too light with him than he won’t listen to the correction but if you are too harsh that is punishment and you can lose your dogs trust. Timing is what makes training dogs so difficult but when you and your dog form a team and are in sync, that is when all the pieces fall into place. So remember, when interacting with your dog, don’t hold a grudge about something he has done just live with him in that moment.


Socialization

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

Socializing your dog is incredibly important. We have bred dogs to pay attention and to look to us for guidance, but what they gained in understanding us; they lost in understanding each other. This is why we must introduce our dogs to other dogs at a young age because there are some things they can only learn from each other. Daycare and puppy classes are good ways to socialize your puppy since they are structured with experienced care takers looking after them. Bully breeds like bulldogs, boxers and pit bulls seem to have a harder time understanding dogs more than other breeds. They are wiggly and don’t tend to use their noses so it is important to try and keep them calm around dogs to avoid other dogs getting upset with them. To help them use their noses, games where you hide treats under things or you hide and they have to find you are fun ways to help train your puppy to use his nose and this goes for all breeds. If you rescue a dog instead of getting a puppy, it is not too late to socialize him. It is best to do this in a structured environment instead of a dog park in case your dog has some problems with other dogs. If you are worried about your dog being aggressive with other dogs, you can put a muzzle on your dog to help you feel calmer about your dog’s reaction. If your dog is really shy it will be easier for them to overcome their fear in a safe area where they can see that nothing bad happens when they are near dogs. If you need help socializing your dog, please contact a trainer to help you with any of your questions.


The Art of Grooming

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

Grooming a dog can be a very difficult profession. You are taking care of people’s babies while ensuring that the dog’s health comes before what an owner wants. Dogs are not always easy to groom. They move, bite, protest with loud barks or just want to cuddle with you instead of standing still. Because of this cuts can easily happen. Groomers use incredibly sharp tools so that they can groom your dog efficiently and more quickly making it easier on the dog if it does not have to stand there all day while a groomer cuts a piece of hair 20 times with a pair of dull scissors. No groomer wants to cut your dog but sometimes accidents happen and your dog may get cut. The fact that it does not happen often is a testament to how skilled groomers truly are. Groomers are putting their bodies in jeopardy for you to have the pretty little dog you’ve always wanted. Many groomers get carpal tunnel syndrome that needs surgery to correct and there is always the possibility that a well-placed bite from a dog can ruin their whole career by hitting a nerve and the groomer losing full mobility in that area. If your groomer cuts your dog’s hair shorter than you wished, it is not because they wanted to make you upset but because your dog was too matted and they had no choice but to cut as short as they did. Pulling out serious matts is not good for your dog, it is very painful and can cause skin irritation in the area. Your groomer wants to make your dog’s groom more comfortable so they won’t brush out a matt and to make your dog hate grooming any more than he already does. So please have patience with your groomer.


The Infamous Growl

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

In general a growl is perceived as an act of aggression. A growl is a short distance sound that dogs vocalize their displeasure regarding the current situation. It is a sound for their opponent which is standing near them that if they take another step it will not be welcomed. Dogs do not want to fight and get hurt so a way to diffuse the situation is by growling to verbally let the other dog know that what it is doing is not appreciated. A dog that is tense and silent is more likely to attack than the one giving warning that it does not want to fight. To us growls all sound the same but dogs can actually differentiate between the different growls. So when a dog growls at a stranger versus when a dog is growling to guard something there is a difference in the sound that dogs can pick up on. Growling is often commonly used in play since play is a way to practice their fighting skills. They wrestle, play tug of war and chase all the while growling and barking. Play growling is generally more accepted because it is in a fun and happy context where as other forms of growling is not. A dog should never growl at people but growling at each other in the right context can be accepted. If your dog is nervous about another dog and growls it is just telling that other dog that is feeling uncomfortable and wants them to stop approaching. This is acceptable. If your dog is growling and lunging on its leash at another dog, this is not acceptable and you should see a trainer to help you out with this problem. If you have any questions about growling please contact your trainer.


A New Pack Member

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

When introducing a new dog to a household that already owns dogs there are a few things to think about. When choosing a new dog, the best thing to do is to pick a dog with a lower energy level and a calmer disposition than the one you currently own. It is best if your new dog and your old dog can meet in an area that is neutral to both of them so you can see how they react to each without there being any territorial issues. If all goes well and you bring your new dog home, it is recommended that you walk your new dog with your original dog around the neighbourhood before bringing them in the house together. Walking your dogs together is very bonding and will help establish new relationships more quickly. When you bring your new dog home, you might notice that your original dog starts acting some what territorial. This is natural and the length of time it lasts depends on the individual dogs. Your dog is telling your new dog the rules of the house and is being harsh at first so that the rules are established first before they start playing and being buddies. You may see a lot of barking or growling. They may fight or bare their teeth. This is the start to a healthy new friendship between your dogs it just looks a little rocky at first. It is also important not to favor either dog and let them establish their natural ranking themselves. Going against their natural order will cause more problems and conflict between your dogs. Dogs don’t take it to heart when they get outranked; they move on and accept it. If you have any questions or are unsure about any behaviors you see; please contact a trainer.


Stand and be Sniffed

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

It sounds simple but it is not common to see among most dogs these days. A dog with proper manners will stand and let dogs sniff them until they are dismissed. This is how dogs greet one another like when we shake hands. A dog with proper manners when greeting others will not get into trouble; they will not be corrected by the other dogs or growled at because there is nothing to correct for. You will see at the park that a dog that will not stand still will either be verbally corrected, a growl, or physically corrected, a bite to the neck or flank. When most people hear or see this they generally assume that the other dog is aggressive or will start fighting your dog which with a balanced dog is not the case they are just asking your dog in their own language to show respect and stand still. It is so important for a dog to stand still when greeted because if the dog does not know how to correct properly, things could turn ugly. It is so important as dog owners to make sure our dogs greet others with respect. If you have a nervous dog you can hold him still while dogs sniff him and if all goes well your dog will trust you more for helping him. It is equally important for owners of little dogs to never pick them up when dogs are coming. When you pick your dog up it empowers him and will cause him to lash out at the dogs which with the wrong dog can be disastrous. So ensure that your little guy stays down and is still when being sniffed. So let’s all thrive for dogs with good manners and remember stand and be sniffed!


Leader of the Pack

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

Being your dog’s leader is incredibly important to your dog’s mental health. But what does it mean? It has nothing to do with aggression or violence it is a state of energy that allows you to bring security to your dog in a world full of uncertainties. In Canada, we have a Prime Minister who ensures that our country is well cared for providing relations to other country’s controlling our army and healthcare and making sure that our country is in a state of balance so that we can live our lives without worrying about all the decisions it takes to run a country. That is all your dog wants; he wants someone who can take care of his environment, to take control, so that he can be the carefree, loving dog you know. It is up to you to tell him what is right or wrong. A correction can be verbal or physical but is never mean it comes from a calm state of mind that dogs clearly understand. If you are not the pack leader your dog may act fearful, aggressive or hyperactive around other dogs because he does not know how to act and has no clear direction. A dog who believes that you are leader will never bite you, will allow you take his food and possessions from him without conflict and will be relaxed and comfortable in situations that may be scary as long as you provide calm, assertive energy. So when you are in a situation take a deep breath, with shoulders back and head held high, and show your dog that nothing bad will happen when you are at his side. If you don’t fully understand the leadership concept or feel your dog is becoming too much for you to handle please contact a trainer that you feel comfortable with.


Dogs are Animals

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

Dogs are animals. It’s a plain and simple concept that on a cognitive level we understand but deep down when we see our beautiful dog staring up at us with love and it is a harder concept to understand. When it hits you though, it really shakes you to your core. Dogs have been with us for around 15 000 years. They are wonderful companions but they are still animals. They react on instinct and on what we have trained them to do. There is no premeditated thought involved, when a situation occurs they react. He did not wake up thinking hey I think that I am going to do something bad today just so I can upset my owner. The worst thing you could do for your dog in a situation is to take it personally. Nothing that your dog does is a direct shot at you, when we assume that they are it is just our way of humanizing our dogs even in some cases when it seems very believable. Dogs who chew on their owners belongings are doing it out of frustration and they pick your particular belongings because they smell like you and that’s what attracts them. When they look at you and then run after something, your dog might not understand the command you gave him fully and if you’re sure he does then maybe he doesn’t like your energy. When they snap at another dog on leash, they might not know what to do and are reacting the only way they know how. So when these situations occur, remember to not take it personally, your dog is just living in the moment. Please contact a trainer if you need help!


Your Dog’s Groomer

By Rae-Lynn Duffield

Grooming

When you bring your dog to the groomer it is like going to your family doctor. Your groomer touches every part of your dog and a good groomer will be able to notice skin and coat problems as they arise. It is important to bring your puppy in to the groomers when it is about three months old to get used to these new feelings of his body being touched in different places than is usual. After your dog goes to the groomer it should feel more relaxed then when you dropped him off. It is how you know that you have taken your dog to the right groomer and once you find this groomer it is important to continue bringing your dog there. Most dogs need to be groomed every two to three months. Letting your dog become severely matted is bad for his health. It becomes hard for them to move and go to the bathroom as well as blood flow is reduced to the skin in the matted areas. Your dogs grooming experience will be more stressful the more matted he becomes. A good groomer will do what is best for the dog and not what the owner wants if it means constantly pulling knots out of your dog’s fur and de matting areas. If you will be cutting mats out of your dog’s fur at home be sure to place a comb between the hair and the skin so that you don’t cut the skin. Remember that even the most experienced groomer may still cut your dog since they are working with living animals and sharp tools. So remember to not let your dog get too matted and we will see you at the groomers soon!