All posts by Stars

Get To Know A Veterinarian

If you are a pet owner, it is time that you got to know a veterinarian. Why? Because, quite simply, a veterinarian is like a doctor for your pets. If you enjoy pets enough to own one or many, then you should take the time, energy and money to properly take care of those beloved pets.

Some pet owners believe that a visit to a veterinarian is only necessary when a pet is suffering or ill. And while you definitely want to visit a veterinarian when your pets become ill or start to show abnormal symptoms, you should also schedule routine appointments for your pets just like you schedule regular appointments for you and your family to visit a physician. There is no good reason not to give your pets the best care that you possibly can. Many simple problems and sicknesses can be prevented or solved easily by early detection, even in pets, so make it a priority to see your veterinarian regularly.

New pet owners should make appointments immediately to see a veterinarian and get a full health check for your new friend. Let your veterinarian teach you all about your new pet. Learn about the best ways to care for your pet, the best food to feed it, the best ways to bathe it, and the levels of activity that are necessary for keeping your pet healthy. You may be surprised how much there is to learn about each variety of different pets. Whether you have a dog, a cat, a bird or a horse, I guarentee you that a veterinarian will teach you helpful tips that you didn’t already know.

If you are currently a pet owner and have never taken the time to schedule and appointment for your pets, do so now. Talk to your other pet-owning friends to see what veterinarians are respected in your area. Flipping through your phonebook or doing a simple internet search can also help you explore options for finding the right veterinarian in your area. Some vets specialize in certain animals, so be sure that you schedule a visit with a veterinarian that has vast experience with your particular pets.

If you think that making appointments for your pets to see a veterinarian is silly, then I wonder whether or not you are suited to be a pet owner. You must consider your lifestyle and your ability to provide the right level of care for pets. Be honest with yourself and know that it is much better to give up a pet you already own than to keep that pet and not care for it properly.

Get Your Dog To Stop Whining

Dear Mr. Katz

We have a 15-16 month old German Shorthaired Pointer named Copper. She is pretty well obedience trained (if a dog can be that). We have used a pinch collar and an electronic collar for her training. The one thing we would like to solve is her whining. I would like to find out what we could do to eliminate it. When we corrected her in the past for whining she’ll stop for a few seconds, but then start right back up again. My first instinct is to continue to correct until she stops, but I wanted to get your opinion on the topic first.

Thank You,
Mark

Dear Mark,

This tends to be a genetically motivated behavior. That is, we see some breeds that do it more than others.

In any event, it’s unlikely that using a leash or e-collar correction will work for this behavior, or you’d have already seen results. (Note: It does work on some dogs if applied consistently).

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Recognize that it’s an anxiety-based behavior. The anxiety is usually the result of your dog not being able to contain her excitement for getting involved with the situation around her. For example, if the dog is made to hold a down-stay, but she sees another dog playing with a ball in the distance. This is when your dog will start whining.

2. PAY ATTENTION: Most owners will release their dog from the down-stay at this point, thus rewarding their dog for whining. Instead, wait until the dog is quiet for at least FIVE seconds before releasing the dog.

3. It is your job to convince the dog that: The longer she stays silent, the more likely it is that she will be rewarded with the ball/food/play/praise or whatever you’re using as a motivator.

4. Be sure to NEVER reward the whining. Even though it may be a hassle in the beginning.

5. Recognize that you may never completely eliminate whining, but you should be able to minimize it to the point where it is no longer an annoyance.

That’s all for now, folks!
Adam

Dogs During Labor

Breeding dogs is an exciting experience. From the time a proper mate is found to the point that the puppies are born, it is crucial to take careful steps to make this successful.

Professional breeders do not breed frequently and will only do so when a pair is found to be healthy that will ensure the birth of healthy offspring.

The ideal breeder should have the pair of dogs tested for every possible disease as well as have all the information regarding the pair’s ancestors and health records on file. Should a breeder find no problem in the history of the pair, then the process can begin.

Dogs normally come into heat twice a year which is every six months. Larger dogs can come into heat every eight or ten months which usually lasts about three weeks. Vaginal bleeding is a sure sign that the dog is in heat as well as swelling in the vulva.
A dog’s pregnancy or gestation period lasts between 60 to 67 days. Most dogs give birth after 63 days.

The only way to determine the stage of the dog’s pregnancy is by keeping the track of time from the day of the breeding. Keeping a record of this on file is advisable for reference purposes.

Exactly three weeks after breeding, the mother must be examined to confirm the pregnancy.

The dog must be given a formulated and premium brand of dog food for the duration of the pregnancy and throughout the nursing period preferably with strong nutritional foundation.

During pregnancy, the mother’s food consumption will almost double compared to the pre-pregnancy level so increased feeding must be given to ensure that there is enough for both the dog and the puppies.

Behavioral changes are to be expected during this time. The dog will demand for more affection or may experience a few days of vomiting.

Later on, the expectant mother will search for a secure place to deliver the puppies. So, one must ensure that a proper place is ready when the time comes. An ideal place for an expecting mother is a box. Depending on the size of the dog, it must be spacious enough for the dog to move around and must have layers of newspaper inside it that will absorb birthing fluids. This should also have low sides for the mother to look outside and for the breeder to easily check if assistance is needed to make it easy to remove soiled papers without interrupting the mother and the newborn puppies.

Dogs Are Not People! Understanding the Differences Between People and Dogs and Using This Information In Your Relationship With Your Pet

Dogs are not people. It may seem like an obvious observation, but so many people make the mistake time and time again of expecting their dog to act and think like a person. They attribute human traits and emotions to these noble animals and thus undermine their whole relationship, sending confusing signals and stressing the dog.

Remember, the dog is an animal. Yes, even your cute little friend who curls up on the sofa next to you and loves to have his tummy tickled. He’s an animal, and he MUST be treated as such to give him a healthy, fulfilling life. Small dogs are particularly prone to being treated as children or babies and this can lead to a multitude of behavioural problems, not to mention confusion and misery for the dog.

Firstly, let’s look at the exchange of love between ourselves and our dogs. Most of us love our dogs and can feel a warm spot in the middle of our chests when we see them or think of them. Does the dog feel that too? We have to assume not. He loves us, but he loves us in a different way. He relies on us for his well-being and survival. He looks to us (if we are successful) as a leader of his pack and he trusts us in our decisions.

He is happy to be with you because he is a pack animal and his attachment to you may well be very deep. But he doesn’t have the complicated love-psychology of a human being. He doesn’t have the same concept of ethics and morality and he certainly doesn’t know anything above and beyond what his animal instincts tell him. If a friend of yours enters the house and your dog doesn’t like him, he’s not going to “be nice” to the friend for your sake! Conversely, he doesn’t misbehave or sulk to get attention or “pay you back” for something you did. These are human emotions and motives that we attribute to our dogs almost unconsciously.

We should also look at the concept of praise and punishment in training. On the whole, I advocate praising good behaviour and ignoring misbehaviour. I do not believe in punishing a dog for bad behaviour, but sometimes a short, sharp shout can be a good reminder to a dog that is doing something he knows he shouldn’t. It is essential to remember that you can only praise or give correction to your dog AT THE VERY MOMENT he is exhibiting the behaviour in question. He is not a child and will not know nor remember what he did five minutes ago. This is a fundamental difference between people and dogs and if remembered, will make training a much easier task.

So the key to this is “think like a dog”. Imagine you are a pack animal like him. Don’t ever think of him as a human, still less a child or a baby, whatever his size and however cute his face. You have to hard-wire this concept into your relationship with your dog and he will only thank you for it. He is a dog, an animal, and only by truly understanding this will you be able to fulfill his needs and form a meaningful, satisfying relationship for both of you.

Dogs, Cats, And Horses… We Love Them All!

We have a long history with domesticated animals and even the nay Sayers can’t deny their roll in society past and present.

There is evidence that as long as 10,000 years ago the Native Americans had domesticated dogs as depicted in early rock paintings. Apparently, the dogs in the painting look remarkably like the Carolina dogs of today.

It has been well documented that dogs and horses of past have been bred to assist us in various ways whether it be pack dog, work horse, hunter or herder. There is no doubt that they have value and have contributed to society in many ways.

The cat however is a very interesting animal indeed. I have yet to see a cat that can herd, or help with the hunt or carry supplies on their backs for us. The cat is strictly a companion to us, that is if they decide to allow you to be graced with their presence. Most cats still have that strong hunting urge as evidenced by your cats offering of that bird he just caught or mouse he brings to you. Most cats get attached to an area that they claim as their own. Some cats get very attached to the people who love them but as a general rule I think the cat feels he is the one who rules and he is allowing you to care for him. Still, we love them.

Horses are a special breed and have a tremendous ability to assist us in ways as only the horse can. Horses have been our mode of transportation much longer than our current ways of getting around. They are to me of such beauty, grace, and power and I always think of them in that way much more than an animal that works for us. They are spectacular.

Dogs however are by far the most domesticated of all animals. They not only help us but they are so genuinely attached to people and their antics are a constant source of pleasure to us. Just look at children or elderly people in an old folks home. If a child finds a stray dog they will surely beg you to allow them to keep the dog. If you take a dog into an old folks home you can see the dog respond happily around them and the smiles on peoples faces are a joy to see.

I had a Springer Spaniel when I was younger and he was the funniest, most easy- going dog around. He was unusual in that he had a very special relationship with our guinea pig. We had the best time watching these two at play. It was the same every day. The guinea pig would wait at the hallway entrance and would stay there until the dog noticed. Then the chase was on! The dog would bark and chase him all the way down the hall. The guinea pig at the last minute would veer to the left and run into the bedroom and go under the bed. The dog was big and somewhat clumsy and would never be able to slow down in time and he’d crash into the wall, get up and then go put his nose under the bed and bark. They would do this four or five times in a row and then curl up together and sleep. Those two made us laugh. It was great!

As animal lovers, we also can adorn our walls with prints and motivational posters of them. They also make great gifts.

We love our animals, as it should be. Be kind and take well care of them.

Doggie Dynamics: Potty Training Your Pooch

If you’re thinking about adding a member to your family, you’ll also want to consider that, that means having one more mouth to feed, and someone else to clean up after. And, this is especially true if you’re considering a pet.

According to experts its imperative to teach pets, especially puppies about proper hygiene as soon and as early as possible. But, they note that you must remain realistic and not expect too much. Remember, much like babies, puppies are still in their formative years and should not be expected to have full or adequate control of their sphincter muscle. In fact, professionals point out that it’s not uncommon for puppies up to six months old to use the living room floor or rug as a “potty”. However, they note that with proper patience, love, and persistent training, such problems can be put in the past.

Denote a spot where your puppy IS allowed to “go” and point it out, making it obvious to him or her that’s what the spot should be used for. Note his or her patterns and bring him or her to the spot soon after he or she wakes up and after eating, drinking or playing. If however your catch your canine peeing or pooping in an inappropriate spot, simply “escort” him or her to the proper area reinforcing it as an acceptable bathroom spot.

Make sure also to keep a system of proper scolding and rewarding for behaviors. Compliment your pooch verbally and rub his or her ears and back each time he or she goes to the right spot, and after a few compliments, you may also want to consider scolding when he or she disobeys. And, make sure that the “punishment” fits the “crime” and takes place immediately after the incident so that your pet can make the proper association.

Success say experts depends on repetition of action. Taking that into account, they suggest planning meals at regular times and intervals, about three times a day. And they suggest teaching your pet to ration his or her food by offering a large bowl of food and allowing him or her to figure out how often the bowl will be replenished.

Dog Training Secrets

Every dog and every dog owner has his or her own unique dog training challenges. Each breed of dog has a different temperament as does each individual dog. And dog owners are no different. Despite the differences, there are some basic things in common for training all dogs.

No matter why you have a dog, he should at least have some very elementary dog training. No one wants a dog who isn’t housebroken, who runs away or into the street, who won’t sit, come or stay when you want him to. Both you and your dog will be happier with a little common ground on obedience training.

One of the first things to take into account when dog training is that dogs are programmed for a world of leaders and followers. You have to be the leader in your relationship. Signs of a leader are absolute consistency. Know what you want your dog to do and keep that constant from day to day and training session to training session. Don’t shout. That is a sign that you have lost control. And keep your dogs attention focused on you during the entire training session.

Attention is the second important thing to keep in mind for dog training and one of the hardest to maintain. It has been said that ninety percent of dog training is getting and keeping his attention. Dogs are very much like small children and have short attention spans. Keep training sessions short – 20 minutes is fine, or even a couple of 10 minute sessions. Work with your dog in a quiet environment that is free of distractions. Talk to your dog in a quiet voice. Use his name and explain what you want him to do. He may understand no more than, “Blah blah blah, Toby”, but your voice will keep him focused in your direction.

Experts have found that positive dog training is more effective that a system of rewards and punishment. A dog who looks forward to training sessions as fun and full of rewards is a dog who will learn faster and better. Reward accomplishments with treats or words of praise or pats. As your dog learns new skills, you can reward him for each step along the way. If he doesn’t respond the way you want, rethink what you are asking him to do and how you are asking him to do it. What worked as a dog training method for one dog may not work as well for the next. Your dog may need to review some more basic dog training lessons before going on to new lessons. Rather than punishment, a stern NO, blocking a movement with your hands, or withholding rewards when he doesn’t perform, and remaining consistent are the best ways to encourage your dog to exhibit the behavior you want. Remember that it is in his nature (as well as yours) to want to test limits and see how much he can get away with. Consistency in dog training and rewards are what get positive results, not punishments.

Dogs are very much like us. They want to follow a leader they respect. And dog training is just like school. They like to do things that are fun and make them feel good, where they get rewards for accomplishing what is asked of them. And they want the same thing their owners want, a happy and safe relationship with the ones they are love. A little dog obedience training will go a long way in making this happen.

Dog Training part III – Communicating with the dog

Fundamentally, dog training is about communication. From the human perspective the handler is communicating to the dog what behaviors are correct, desired, or preferred in what circumstances. From the canine perspective the handler must communicate what behaviors will give the dog the most satisfaction to his natural instincts and emotions. Without that inner satisfaction a dog will not work well.

A successful handler must also understand the communication that the dog sends to the handler. The dog can signal that he is unsure, confused, nervous, happy, excited, and so on. The emotional state of the dog is an important consideration in directing the training, as a dog that is stressed or distracted will not learn efficiently.

According to Learning Theory there are a four important messages that the handler can send the dog:

Reward or release marker
Correct behavior. You have earned a reward. For example, “Free” followed by a reward.

Bridge
Correct behavior. Continue and you will earn a reward. For example, “Good”.

No reward marker
Incorrect behavior. Try something else. For example, “Uh-uh” or “Try again”.

Punishment marker
Incorrect behavior. You have earned punishment. For example, “No”.

Using consistent signals or words for these messages enables the dog to understand them more quickly. If the handler sometimes says “good” as a reward marker and sometimes as a bridge, it is difficult for the dog to know when he has earned a reward.

Rewards can be treats, play, praise, or anything that the dog finds rewarding. Failure to reward after the reward marker diminishes the value of the reward marker and makes training more difficult.

These four messages do not have to be communicated with words, and nonverbal signals are often used. In particular, mechanical clickers are frequently used for the reward marker. Hand signals and body language also play an important part in learning for dogs.

Dogs usually do not generalize commands easily; that is, a dog who has learned a command in a particular location and situation may not immediately recognize the command to other situations. A dog who knows how to “down” in the living room may suffer genuine confusion if asked to “down” at the park or in the car. The command will need to be retaught in each new situation. This is sometimes called “cross-contextualization,” meaning the dog has to apply what’s been learned to many different contexts.

Next: Dog Training part IV – Reward and punishment

Dog Training part II – Age for early training

Dog training begins virtually at birth. Dogs that are handled and petted by humans regularly during the first eight weeks of life are generally much more amenable to being trained and living in human households. Ideally, puppies should be placed in their permanent homes between about 8 and 10 weeks of age. In some places it is against the law to take puppies away from their mothers before the age of 8 weeks. Before this age, puppies are still learning tremendous amounts of socialization skills from their mother. Puppies are innately more fearful of new things during the period from 10 to 12 weeks, which makes it harder for them to adapt to a new home.

Puppies can begin learning tricks and commands as early as 8 to 12 weeks of age; the only limitations are the pup’s stamina, concentration, and physical coordination. It is much easier to live with young dogs that have already learned basic commands such as sit. Waiting until the puppy is much older and larger and has already learned bad habits makes the training much more difficult.

There are some professional trainers who disagree with this idea, particularly those who train working dogs, detection dogs, police dogs, etc. They feel that obedience work shouldn’t start until the dog is at least a year old, or after the prey drive has fully developed. These trainers also take the position that spaying and neutering is harmful to the training process, again because of its negative impact on the dog’s prey drive.

Next: Dog Training part III – Communicating with the dog

Dog Training Career: What is Involved?

A dog training career may be just right for you, if you love working with dogs. Dogs of all ages, from puppies to older dogs, need training, and their owners often don’t know how to train them. They look for a professional dog trainer to do the job.

If you are thinking of a dog training career, you might want to start by practicing on your own dog. If you are good at training your dog, you might be good at training other people’s dogs. But if training your dog leaves you frustrated and drained, then becoming a dog trainer might not be the best career for you.

When you are training dogs, you are actually training the owners more than the dogs, so you need to be good with people to consider a dog training career. People are not at their best when they are frustrated or embarrassed by their dog’s behavior. Will you be able to deal with these distraught owners calmly, while at the same time tending to their dogs? Give this some thought.

Consider volunteering to help out at a dog training class at your local shelter. You will get a feel for what is involved in a dog training career. If you are good, the teacher may let you teach a segment of the class. This will be your trial by fire. If you do a good job, then you can move forward with your training.

You can prepare for a dog training career in several ways.

1. Attend a school specifically for those interested in a dog training career. There are many schools and seminars available. Be sure to get lots of hands on training.

2. Become an intern or apprentice to a dog trainer in your area. This way, you can learn dog training on the job.

3. Become a certified dog trainer. Do a search on the internet for dog training certification programs.

Once you have the proper education in dog training, starting your business should be easy. Decide if you want to work with individual clients in their homes or offer dog training classes. It is a good idea to offer a combination of both. By advertising your dog training classes, people who want individual help training their dogs will hear about you too. Soon your dog training career will be off to a great start.

Check around in your area for facilities where you can hold the dog training classes. Often the local humane society will have space for classes, or you could check with dog day care facilities. In warm weather, you may be able to hold your classes outdoors.

Advertise your services by leaving brochures about your training program with veterinarians, dog supply stores, and pet shelters. This way, your advertising will not cost you much.

Congratulations! You have followed the steps above and have a thriving dog training career. You love dogs and are working with them every day. For a dog lover and a natural teacher, you have found the ideal business to be in.