This is an article Julie Westphal (Certified Veterinary Technician, Certified Pet Nutrition Consultant, and Purina Certified Weight Coach) wrote for Belle City Veterinary Hospital for their Weight Management Program. We wanted to share this for this month's topic!
Weight Management in Dogs…for Life.
Importance of a Healthy Weight:
A healthy weight is essential to your dog to help combat many diseases. As few as 3 extra pounds on your dog (or even 1 pound on a toy breed) can cause added pressure to joints and internal organs, as well as accelerate many diseases, such as: high blood pressure, respiratory and heart disease, osteoarthritis, Type 2 Diabetes, and even some forms of abdominal cancer. Before any diet is started, however, we want to perform a physical examination and rule out any potential health issues first. Hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease) are unfortunately common enemies to weight loss. If there is an underlying physical problem, a diet alone will be unsuccessful and could even prove detrimental. Shedding unnecessary weight can add months, even YEARS, to your dog’s life and help make that extra time much more enjoyable…and we can help you make the transition as easy as possible.
When your pet is overweight and we start to discuss weight loss for your dog, we realistically expect about a 1% decrease in your dog’s weight per week. We would like you to follow recommendations as closely as possible so that when you bring your dog back 3-4 weeks after the initial program start date, we will see the program working towards those results. If for some reason we are not seeing a weight reduction at that time, we may have to modify the program until the next 3-4 week recheck.
Now that you know that excess weight can cause many health problems and decrease your dog’s quality of life, we applaud you for taking the steps to better health!
Diet and Calories:
Diet plays a huge role in your dog’s health and especially when we are trying to help your dog lose excess weight, we want to make sure that we do not sacrifice proper nutrition. Unless we have discussed another diet option, please review our Diet Recommendations handout and choose your dog’s new diet accordingly.
The next step is to call us immediately and let us know what food you have chosen so that we can calculate the calories that your dog needs on a daily basis and let you know the amounts required at each feeding. By focusing on more nutritious food, less food will be required and we can ultimately have less calories going into your dog so that your dog can expend more calories, which will result in healthy weight loss. Follow the recommended guidelines on our handouts to make your dog’s weight loss program as successful as possible.
• We are suggesting _____________________________ for your dog’s diet, but if for some reason your dog doesn’t like it in the next few days, please give us a call and we can discuss another option.
• Suggested Feeding Amount for optimum weight reduction: Give _______ cup(s)________ times per day.
o If you decide you want to use treats, kongs, etc, please let us help you decide how much kibble to reduce per meal and implement those snacks, so that we can keep on schedule.
Introducing a new diet should be a transition over 7-10 days. Begin the transition by adding ¼ of the daily portion of the new diet to ¾ of the daily portion of the old diet for 2 days. Then mix ½ of the new diet with ½ of the old diet for 2 days, and then mix ¾ of the new diet to ¼ of the old diet for 2 days. Typically by day 7, the new diet has been implemented fully. If you still have leftover food from the old diet, go ahead and continue using ¼ portions until it is used up.
To increase palatability of the new diet and help out your dog’s joints, we suggest using an Omega Fatty Acid supplement that can be given in the food. Also, feeding smaller, more frequent meals (or implementing snack-times) may help your dog not notice the quantity or availability difference.
Take special note of where your dog chooses to spend most of their time. Many overweight dogs will lay and sleep near the food bowl or outside doorway so that they do not have to move a lot to get what they want. If your dog sleeps near the food dish, move the dish to another room or upstairs so that your dog has to move a bit more to get to it. Be careful, as some dogs will then start lounging in that room or upstairs, so you may have to move it every few days to different locations. Also, if your dog’s bed is by the doorway, move the bed to another location every now and then to encourage more exercise to the doorway.
One challenge that may arise is that your dog “seems hungrier.” This is generally due to the calorie adjustments being made to help your dog reduce caloric intake, but can be redirected appropriately by taking some of the following actions to stimulate your dog mentally as well as physically. Just remember to ONLY feed the recommended amounts per day…if you want to use kibble in a kong for redirection, take away the same amount from the dish. Some successful ways of redirecting your dog’s focus are:
• Buster Balls (Cubes) or Tricky Treat Balls – Available at pet stores or online, etc. These hard plastic balls (cubes) have a maze inside and you can add the kibble to the ball instead of feeding straight out of the bowl. This helps stimulate your dog to work a little for the food (and even perform more exercise if playing the game outside in the yard) by rolling the ball (cube) around. This can also make the meal more exciting by encouraging some of your dog’s natural foraging and problem-solving behaviors.
• Kongs – Stuffing a kong can also make your dog problem-solve while foraging for kibble, especially if a small film of low-fat rice cakes and low-fat cream cheese is applied to the inside walls and openings and then frozen! You can always add low-fat tuna and juice to kibble and then freeze inside the kong as well. There are many healthy, low-calorie recipes that you can use to make dinner-time more enjoyable!
• Food from your hand – Never underestimate the power of simply giving your dog kibbles from your hand. Spending a few minutes here and there giving your dog kibbles (and don’t forget to reduce that amount from the daily feedings) or having your dog perform (or learn new!) behaviors or tricks is even better! You’ll strengthen your human-animal bond even more by the interaction! During walks, have your dog perform doggie push-ups at corners (ask your dog to sit, then down, then sit, then down, then sit, and move forward) or work on attention, tricks, etc, in the house on rainy days.
o Hide and Seek Games are GREAT ways of having your pet move about the house AND learn better Recalls! You can play by having a person hide, then call your dog and give your dog a piece of kibble for coming when called.
• Encourage your dog to increase their water intake by giving them ice cubes and even simply increasing the availability of fresh, cold water.
• Treats can be given (especially if your dog does doggie pushups for them!), but you have to keep in mind the added calories are NOT included in the feeding recommendations we have given you and most likely will only give your dog empty calories. So what treats are good?
o Baby carrots work very well and most dogs like the crunchiness of them.
o Frozen vegetables (cucumbers, peas, green beans) or fresh vegetables (broccoli, celery, asparagus, etc) can be used for same reasons.
o You can make treats out of canned food and kibble…I like to make mini “meatballs” of canned food and kibble. I mixed canned food and kibble together in a bowl, then place small “meatballs” on a sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet and place the cookie sheet into the freezer. I now have frozen treats for my dog for training!
o We also have Lean Treats and prescription diet treats available that are healthy and low-calorie.
o You can also make some homemade healthy cookies for your dog. Ask us for some recipes!
Suggested Exercise Program:
• Try to walk your dog 2-3 times a day. If you currently walk around the block…try to walk around the block and go a little further each day. Increase distance in smaller amounts at first to help your dog build stamina.
o If your dog is older or already arthritic, talk to a doctor about pain management medication to help your dog move and feel better.
o Other great exercise ideas include: allowing your dog to run around, play fetch or Frisbee, or play tug every day.
• Remember that it is the DISTANCE in your exercise program, not the time allotted. For example, if your dog walks around the block or runs around the block…it’s still only once around the block, although running took less time. But if your goal is 15 minutes of running, you’ll probably go many times around the block during that time and burn a lot more calories.
• Also, please remember CONSISTENT walking at the same, brisk pace (no stopping and sniffing every few feet) is what counts. We want to keep your dog moving. Any warm-up exercises should be done by you before putting your dog’s leash on…dogs were built to go from no effort sleeping to full out strides chasing prey with very little risk of injury.
• Start your walk with a purpose and your dog will follow suit. As the sessions progress, you’ll most likely be finding out that your dog really anticipates these fast-paced “missions”.
We like to have our dogs re-weighed every 3-4 weeks to monitor progress and ensure our program goals are being met. Most programs will take 6-8 months to begin to see a marked progress, but remember, every month, for most dogs, we are looking for 3-4% decrease in body weight. Some dogs’ needs may be less, some more, but we can safely achieve the goals for your dog by checking in every month and “tweaking” your dog’s program as needed. The secret to weight lost for your dog is…You, a committed and motivated family member.
If you have any questions regarding a weight loss program for YOUR pet, please feel free to give us a call at 262-308-2523 and we can go from there!
With the work in veterinary medicine and rescue that we are proud to participate in, we have been asked many times, "Does $5 or $10 REALLY make a difference?"
Yes. Yes, it does. It REALLY make a difference. If everyone gives $5 or $10 dollars, then we are able to step in on more tips, cases from humane societies, and rescue more fur-kids.
There are so many stories of animal cruelty and abuse that surface...but so many more remain unknown everyday. There are limited resources with every rescue. We function on donations, volunteers, foster homes, and fundraising events.
Whatever the breed, or mix, we implore everyone who even thinks there might be animal cruelty or abuse going on, PLEASE report it to your local humane animal control center so that it can be investigated. Based on ONE tip, an officer can determine whether a rescue should step in or not.
...and neglect comes in many forms. Being left in a car on a hot day, having no shade or water in the backyard, being left in the cold with no shelter on a cold day.
Every life deserves the basic needs that we humans do.
My work with one local rescue in particular, Northcentral Maltese Rescue (http://malteserescue.homestead.com), has shown time and again the victims of animal cruelty and neglect. The biggest problem many of these little fluffs face comes in the form of puppy mills.
But there is one recent success story that I want to share with you.
Because SOMEONE took a stand, rescue was able to step in and help save this special girl, among countless others.
This is Tootsie.
She came in to Belle City Veterinary Hospital, where I work as a Certified Veterinary Technician. No, she is NOT a purebred Maltese, but she needed help and NMR stepped in to do just that. She had a broken jaw (from abuse), had just had puppies (sadly, it is an unknown location of said puppies, but she was lactating)...but is still surprisingly sweet and trusting of the people around her. The jaw surgery alone was going to cost a lot.
To date, she has now had her jaw and spay surgeries, has been vaccinated, and is currently looking for her Furever Home, where she can know the Love that she has never known.
This is why I do what I do. I am so proud to know Mary and be a small part of the NMR.
If you may be interested in Tootsie or anyone else who is currently with NMR, just let us know!
...And anyone who wants to donate to Tootsie's (or the countless others we will continue to save) cause, you can do so at:
Every little bit goes a very long way...and you ARE able to make a difference today.
"Dogs, for the most part, are good at getting along and avoiding confrontation. But occasionally, as with people, fights can break out between them. Whether they’re meeting for the first time or long-time companions, dogs can frighten, threaten, or just rub one another the wrong way, leading to an escalation of aggression and violence. In this podcast, board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and past president of the AVMA, talks about dog fights: Why they happen, how to safely break them up, and how to avoid them in the first place."
If you are currently having dog-dog aggression, or if you have any other questions or concerns, please give us a call at: 262-308-2523.
Most of our students start with obedience, want to teach tricks and learn new things. Some of our students want to go further and work on proofing into competition titles and trial environments. The two most common questions we get asked after obedience is well under way is:
What is Schutzhund? The bst answer can be found at: http://www.dvgamerica.com/whatis.html
So, most people know about Obedience. We like to teach you about "naked" obedience and how to form better bonds. But what about the other two "phases" of the sport?
Q. What is Tracking?
A. Tracking is the pursuit of a person or animal by way of following the scent (tracks) that they’ve left behind. Tracking requires the dog to meticulously follow the same scent and not run off in the many directions of other scents. Often this must also be done under less than ideal circumstances with difficult ground cover, bad weather conditions and even an aged track. Initially, you must build your dog’s confidence and teach him to show absolute accuracy and commitment to finding the track. dog must also “indicate” any dropped articles with human scent and point out their location to the handler, usually by way of downing with the article between their front paws. This confidence is usually built with food rewards in footsteps (then faded to none) and a reward at the articles (also faded with time). Despite the challenges, many find tracking to be the most satisfying experience, when only the handler and dog are working together.
Q. Why teach my dog to track?
A. Tracking can be a very rewarding experience for both you and your dog, if coached correctly. You get to nourish your dog’s amazing natural abilities and the feeling of following your dog along the trail is awesome. To get started in tracking, dog and owner - the tracking team - must be aware of goals. It’s important to remember that the dog is in control and a handler’s confidence in their dog’s ability is often the key to success. Goals vary, depending on whether you're training for Schutzhund tracking, AKC tracking, or merely for the fun and joy of free tracking. One thing to remember is that, like everything else, your dog will not learn to track overnight. Tracking takes time and effort, but the rewards are great.
Q. What is Protection Training?
A. Protection training is grossly misunderstood by the general public. A common misconception regarding protection training is associating it with attack training. This is not the case. What protection training does teach your dog is control…your dog already knows how to bite, whether you want to believe it or not. Police dog training is different from Schutzhund and Ringsport training, which is different from actual guard dog or personal protection training. A good protection helper always keeps the dogs in balance between play and seriousness. There's play and tug involved to build drive in younger dogs, and when the dog becomes more serious, there are more obedience requirements.
Q. Why teach my dog Protection?
A. Many people get into protection training for the wrong reasons. A dog who has had formal protection training is predictable, therefore an asset to his owner and to the community. This dog will be able to protect without biting, bite only if necessary and release on command. A well trained, reliable dog can serve for many years as a family protector and companion. Protection Training also has many goals. Generally, we train for Schutzhund or police work. Whatever your desired area, protection sessions must be purchased in passes for the first 10 sessions and do expire if not used right away. This is for you and your dog's safety. Your dog must learn control in many areas...which is why one or two sessions is never acceptable. Protection work takes time and patience, as every dog learns differently and at a different pace.
Want more information? Want to set up an Evaluation or simply get started?
Give us a call!
1) Always keep Safety in mind…for both you and your dog. This means physical as well as mental…set your dog up for success, not failure. If you’re frustrated, DON’T TRAIN! You and your dog will get nothing out of the session!
2) Be a Splitter, Not a Lumper…Set a training goal for each session and stop when you reach it! Do not require a 10 minute down-stay right off the bat…ask for a 30 second one instead first. Move up to a few minutes, then back down to a few easy seconds, then add more time and more distractions, but then make it very easy again. Vary things and keep them fun. If you keep your dog guessing, then you will very soon create lifelong habits of listening.
3) To get ANY behavior, you have to have your pet’s attention first! If your dog is not paying attention to you, you cannot expect to teach them anything! Most owners underestimate the power of teaching their pets attention…and thus forget to teach their pet to maintain eye contact and even forget to reward for appropriate decisions to make eye contact, like a check-in on walks. Teach your pet to pay attention in ALL environments, positions, etc. Practice this constantly…and go “back to basics” in any new situations.
4) Capturing. Never underestimate the value of this method. Eventually, every dog will sit down / lay down / etc…if you’re stuck on something, take a break and just be patient, then capture the “Kodak” moment when your dog finally gives up and sits, downs, etc.
5) Keep your training sessions in balance. Start with food when teaching the basics, but move to life rewards like: playing ball, tug, going for a car ride or walk, being let out of the crate, etc. Find out what motivates your pet and start allowing your dog to EARN it, instead of getting it for free…even if just asking for eye contact at first! Every throw of the ball starts and ends with basic eye contact. Sometimes from in front, sometimes from the left, sometimes from the right, sometimes when I am sitting, sometimes when I am flat on the ground, etc.
6) Resistance to an exercise means that there is not complete understanding. I have yet to meet the dog that deliberately goes out of its way to upset its owners…they are actually usually trying to get you to LAUGH and HAVE FUN with them. Dogs are opportunists - they do what works! Usually, there is a behavioral issue present that is mis-construed as “done on purpose to irritate” from the owner. Of course everything a dog does is on purpose! Everything you do is on purpose too! Whether they are going potty, sitting for food, or playing with a ball. There is ALWAYS a motivator. However, WE have to be the ones to change the behaviors we don’t like into the behaviors we want…so we must change the motivations.
7) Separate your goals from your starting points…You cannot expect a behavior that has not been taught completely. Most owners believe their dog knows sit, just because they sit on cue in the house. Unfortunately, this is quite commonly not the case. The end goal is to have the dog sit everywhere on cue, right? So TEACH the dog that sitting everywhere (house, driveway, pet store, vet clinic, park, on a walk, etc, etc, etc) is a good thing and gets paid. Then, as your dog gets better and better at sitting on cue for pay, then you can start variable reinforcement with the pay and asking for more sits with less rewards.
8) Always Reward your Positives & Ignore the Negatives…Only punish if the behavior is completely unacceptable and you never want it to occur again. A punishment by nature is an action that makes a behavior go away completely. By ignoring a behavior, we don’t reward the behavior AT THAT TIME, but may choose to do so at a later one. A common mistake is punishing a barking dog by yelling or sometimes worse…though I most certainly hope not. In my training programs I rarely punish a barking dog. I simply ignore them if I do not want the barking, i.e. barking in the house to get my attention, then pay for when they choose silence. Or, if I want that barking, i.e. barking at a noise or a strange person, I will tell my dog “Good dog…Thank you. Sit (or Down)”. I do not PAY with a reward but use verbal praise to help the dog understand that they were correct in barking, but now they do not need to, and I gave them another cue to keep busy with. This is called redirection. We are redirecting the behavior we don't want into one we can live with...and if I am not home, my do can bark away!
9) There is no one correct way to train! For every cue, there are many options on how to teach it. Do NOT be fooled by any one trainer that states “This is the way it’s done.” And then cannot help you when a problem arises. Every dog and owner will be different and a good trainer will be flexible and creative.
10) “Go to people for opinions…Go to your pet for answers.” I can tell you how we generally train a cue, but only your pet will say if it’s working. There are many options to each cue, so hang in there…we’ll keep showing you until one works!
11) There are really no limits when training. You can teach your dog to do most anything that you can think up. To date, Guinness reliably knows more than 150 cues…
12) If you find yourself getting frustrated at any point in time, always go “back to basics.” This is a cue or simply a quiet behavior like eye contact where you can end your training session on a yes answer. Try not to end on a sour note, or the next session will only be more difficult. Especially in beginning training, always ending on a yes keeps your pet motivated to do more next time.
13) Also, end your sessions with your pet wanting more. When your pet is most into training, playing, etc, end the session happily and let your pet relax and think about what happened. This is most critical in the beginning phases of training. Sometimes I even recommend crating your pet for a few minutes during the training session if they seem particularly distracted, so they can do just that. No toys, treats, etc, just a simple “Kennel up. Good dog.” Leave the room for a few moments, and then let them back out to try again.
14) Capture vs. Lure vs. Shape. Always start teaching your pet with non-verbal communication. I use food, then move to toys, play, car rides, and other life rewards. Capturing, as defined before, is like taking a picture: Mark (Click or Yes!) when the dog is giving you the “Kodak” moment and reward for the natural behavior. Luring is taking a motivator, like a treat, and luring your pet into a position, like a sit or down. The benefit of lures is that they teach fast, the downside is that you MUST get the lure out of the picture as fast as possible in order to successfully teach your pet a cue, otherwise they require a bribe the rest of their life. Shaping is taking an end behavior and breaking it into steps, like teaching spin or circle. We mark and pay for each movement in the right direction, leading up to the end goal: a full circle. A head turn, a head turn with a shoulder, a half-circle, a full circle, etc.
As with any training program, you must be able to evolve and modify it again and again along the way. These are the basic steps we recommend to help you be successful during each session.
Be creative. Keep reinforcing. Don’t always Punish.
Earn Applause…with Awesome Paws.
Unfortunately, a sad fact is that over 80% of euthanasia of healthy animals is due to behavior problems that are really normal dog behaviors that are simply unacceptable in our human world. Shelters and Rescues are overburdened with this sad statistic and Awesome Paws is determined to help minimize this problem by offering these educational services. Most pet owners do not understand how to teach their pets how to live peacefully in our world and do not know how to read canine body language in order to avoid problems in the first place. Most owners are also inconsistent with their training programs and think that just because their dog will sit on cue in the house when there are no distractions, the dog knows sit everywhere. This is true then for ALL of the cues they think they have taught…and can be seriously wrong, especially in an emergency like when a pet darts through the front door towards a busy street.
Whether you would rather take classes, have private lessons, enroll your dog in a boarding school program, etc, be on the lookout for trainers who promise instant results. This is simply not true in ANY learning environment – even human schools! Training your pet takes time, patience, consistency, trust, and understanding. You should find a trainer who can keep things fun and rewarding for both you and your pet and can communicate effectively with you and your canine friend. Contrary to popular belief, your dog does NOT need a collar to learn…it is merely the traditional way for most trainers. We at Awesome Paws like to teach “naked” obedience. Collars and leash-laws apply to all public situations; however, it is rare that you will have a leash or collar on in an emergency. Teaching your dog to respond in ALL situations under as many distractions as possible should be the ultimate goal for any pet owner. Owners should find a trainer that motivates them and keeps them smiling while they learn how to strengthen their bond with their pet. Trainers should be creative and ready to modify their approaches in training as well.
Does this mean you must find a “certified” dog trainer? We’ll be quite honest when answering this question: we do not believe so. There are a lot of extremely good trainers out there that can help you establish a much better training bond with your beloved companion, just like there are also a lot of “certified dog trainers” that have destroyed bonds or escalated bad behaviors. We recommend doing your research before you decide.
Our founder, Julie Westphal, is NOT certified as a dog trainer at this time. She is a Certified Veterinary Technician (licensed in the state of Wisconsin) and continues her training in the lifelong love of animal behavior by consulting with clients, holding group classes at an AKC member kennel club, competing with her own dogs in dog sport trials and continuing her own education within the veterinary medical and behavioral fields. She is referred to by four animal hospitals, several Rescue organizations, and has been holding seminars and educating the public at many local events for several years.
There are many “certifications” now offered for students at varying facilities or online or through correspondence schools. These certifications can be mis-leading in that sometimes a person can attend a brief course, intern as an apprentice dog trainer, take a written multiple choice examination, and then call themselves “certified”. We suggest you do your due diligence and research your training facility and faculty in depth before deciding on who you choose. If they offer a credential, we recommend looking up that credential and see what they had to do to earn it. We believe that in order to consider yourself a “professional dog trainer” you really need to be able to practice what you preach, be able to repeat the success with multiple dogs, keep current on the latest behavioral research and theory, attend continuing educational events, and prove it with your own dogs, whether in competition or just by having doggy ambassadors that you can showcase in any environment, at any time. Do not settle for just anyone – you may end up regretting it or cause an already bad behavior to escalate! You have to be the one comfortable with their methods and be able to understand and replicate the exercises so that your dog can learn from you.
Dogs only learn what we teach them. Reward the Good Behaviors, Ignore the bad ones (or get an experienced professional to help with any Aggression or Anxiety issues) and you will have a dog that tries to keep offering good behavior. We too often forget to reward our dogs for calm behavior (we just “expect” it), and then get angry when they are wound up and yell (or worse!) at them…only reinforcing that wound up behavior gets attention and calm does not! What a goofy world of opposites we are projecting! Without going into the boring details of theory (positive, negative, reinforcement, punishment, etc), just remember: Whatever gets attention…which your dog craves as a pack member…will be continued…whether it is “positive” or “negative” to you. Attention IS attention. We, being human, EXPECT our dogs to understand us and the reality is: they don’t. Pets CAN think. They CAN learn. But they CANNOT think as COMPLEXLY as we expect them to. They only LEARN what gets them what they think is rewarding…whether attention, treats, toys, freedom, going potty, for a car ride, whatever! So REWARD your pet for EVERYTHING they do RIGHT (and ignore what they do wrong by turning your back and walking away!)…and you’ll already have a better dog.
So, instead of thinking of training as “correcting the bad behavior”, think of it as teaching your pet English” – their SECOND language! Just as we can learn a second language, so can our pets. At the end of the day, a dog will be a dog and we will be human. Period. We will NEVER be dogs – therefore never be a true “pack” – and our dogs will never be human, as much as we want them to be. Instead, let’s learn a little “Dog” so that we can more effectively teach them “Human” (in whatever language we choose)…and this, just like with us, will take some time, consistency, exposure, generalizations, and reinforcement…sometimes maybe even a few “corrections” but tonal change and using “no” are all that should be required. If we keep even the “corrections” reasonable (let us show you how to use those verbal punisher words since physical corrections are not needed in many situations, therefore allowing you to have a CONVERSATION with your dog, versus a mixed martial arts battle), we can develop a solid, healthy, lifelong relationship…based on trust, clear communication and understanding.
So, you’ve purchased the kennel, set it up in your living room or other “pack-friendly” area so your dog won’t feel isolated and now your pet won’t go near it. What to do?! Don’t panic!
When I first bring home a new dog (whether for myself, training for someone else, or a foster dog) I teach them how to “kennel up” as soon as possible. Whether puppy or adult dog, most like this new “game” that is easy for them to get rewards for. It is very important that you do not force your pet into the crate – let them discover it, get rewards for being in it, and they will then CHOOSE the kennel as a safe place. If the best things happen when they are in the kennel, then they choose the kennel to be in.
So let’s discuss some helpful hints in having your pet begin to accept their new den:
• After the crate is set up, let the door remain open all the time. If your pet is old enough, a bed or other blanket can be set up in there, but remember that some dogs can chew up and destroy bedding when anxious or just by being a puppy. So also place appropriate chew toys (nylabones, kongs, maybe a marrow bone, etc) in the kennel so that the pet can have a chew toy as well.)
* When it’s time to feed your pet, put the dish of kibble into the back of the kennel and walk away. Let you pet “discover” the kennel has food in it, and they can come and go as they please.
* Throw treats into the back of the kennel and walk away frequently throughout the day and evening…anytime you walk past the kennel, toss in treats, and let your pet go in to get them as you leave the area.
* When you are ready to play fetch or tug with your pet, toss the items into the back of the kennel and let your pet “go get them” and bring them to you.
* All of the COOLEST things are IN the kennel.
• The next step is to start closing the door BRIEFLY (mere seconds, really) and opening it up again.
* While your pet is eating, close the door to latch it, then open it up right away and walk away. Repeat this for many sessions before you start adding time to keeping the door closed.
* Do the same with treats and when they go in to get their toy, etc.
* Do NOT talk to your pet if they start to whine or act anxious (remember…WE know what “it’s okay” means and if they are anxious, we are only reinforcing the anxiety by trying to tell them that.) but simply make no big deal of it and just wait.
* If they whip around and try to get out, keep the door closed (sometimes I use my foot if I didn’t have a chance to latch it yet) and just wait. Don’t make eye contact, don’t speak…just wait.
* Do NOT open the kennel door if they are anxious, start whining or barking. Just wait. Stand there, DON’T look at them (eye contact IS reinforcement, so don’t do it!), and just wait.
* I know it’s hard, but even if they start to throw a temper tantrum, just wait. ONLY CALM BEHAVIOR will get them out of the kennel. So, when they stop (for a breath even!) use your verbal marker (Yes!) and open the door calmly…do not rush it open or this only feeds into their “need to escape.” Freedom is a reward in this instance, but this reward should be handed to them calmly to help encourage waiting for the door to open and not darting through it.
* If your pet starts to dig or chew at the kennel, sometimes you can “bark” a firm “No!” or “Fooey” to startle them into looking up. This is a verbal punisher to hopefully Stop The Behavior. If you have to say it more than twice, it isn’t working, so stop saying it. If you say it firm enough the first time and it startles them into looking up and/or sitting down, etc, you can wait 3 seconds, use your verbal marker (Yes!) and let them out calmly.
* If they just keep on digging/barking…ignore them and walk away. When they settle down (even for a breath), then start talking to them, walk back, and let them out. When they are quiet, they get let out…when they are obnoxious, they do not.
* Repeat these mini-sessions many times over many hours/days before adding time to the closed kennel door.
* The goal right now is to teach them that you will return and they can handle this.
• Then, begin adding time while you are standing next to the kennel or in the same room for a few sessions.
• If your pet is okay with 3 minutes of you being there, start adding sessions when you walk away and instantly return.
* Then add sessions where you walk away into another room, count to 10, then return.
Be PROACTIVE and STUFF A KONG (something your pet ONLY gets in the kennel right now) (ask us for a Kong Stuffing Technique brochure if you’re not sure how to do this) or give them a chew-bone that they don’t get unless they are in the kennel…i.e. a peanut butter filled marrow bone. This helps them go “wow…this is awesome!” and then they start WANTING you to “go away” so they can get their cool chewie.
Also keep in mind, that if you play with your dog a bit BEFORE you do your kennel sessions, they are more likely to be tired and want to lay down calmly and go to sleep. So, play a good long game of two-ball or fetch or even obedience games BEFORE doing your kennel sessions.
If your pet is okay with you being gone for 5 minutes, start leaving your house and instantly returning. Then leave for a few minutes by staying outside, then return. Then leave for a car ride around the block and return. Then leave for a store trip and then return.
Each time you return, you should let your pet out if they are calm. I also help them understand that when they come out they get more cookies in the kennel and the door stays open for a few before our next session, where I toss more delicious treats like chicken or hot dog bits in there and close the door and leave again.
Don’t always make things harder, though. If you were just outside for 5minutes, the next session you sit down and read in the same room for 3minutes. Keep sessions varied to keep your dog guessing and confident.
If your pet is still having trouble with kenneling, please give us a call and we can schedule a kennel-training session to help you evaluate what is occurring on a personal basis and help you and your pet work through the issue.
A Dog Is A Responsibility...Not A Right. If you have chosen to bring a dog into your family, it is your responsibility to see that you meet ALL of his needs. Training helps build trust and affection between you and your dog. My dog, Guinness, has written his very own Doggie Bill of Rights that he wanted me to share with you so that your relationship can be as strong as ours is. I am pretty sure this was the translation... As your best friend, I am entitled to: • Nutritious Food. A well-balanced diet provides me with the necessary proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals needed to maintain a healthy body condition. Choose a food that starts with a protein (or more than one) and is followed by a carbohydrate or two. I have yet to meet a fellow dog that runs into the corn field to eat instead of after the chicken. • A Safe Environment. I am a den animal. I sleep better, as you do, when I feel safe & secure. Provide me with a sense of security and get me a crate. This is MY bedroom…and you don’t even have to spend big bucks remodeling! (I love when you leave the door open, too, and I am allowed a choice to come and go as I please when you are home…) • Stimulation. Every one of us needs a job; whether simple or complex; it is vital to my mental health. You’re always telling me how smart I am…but I can get into trouble very quickly and easily. The number one reason that I am destructive? I’m bored! (I love stuffed Kongs, Tricky Treat Balls, Nylabones, and Buster Cubes if you don’t have time to play today…) • Socialization. Let me meet lots of people and other animals in lots of various environments, under numerous distractions and various noises. I love new experiences, so I can learn how to handle everyday situations. What I run into on a daily basis can really help later since you’ve shown me surprises are everyday and no big deal. Especially loud noises…those are scary, but I’ve learned they mean cheese or chicken, so they’re really not so bad after all, I think! • Playtimes. Very important to my overall health...not just physically, but mentally as well. Shaping Games, Retrieving, Tug Games, a cool game called 2-Ball…these are all excellent bonding exercises too! I LOVE to play with you…we have so much fun…even the “stays” are worth doing when I know I can make you throw the ball for me to chase! • Peace and Quiet. Think you’re the only one who needs peace and quiet? Wrong! Sometimes, mom, I just need my share too! A second reason to give me my own bedroom. Especially when your friends come over with their kids…sometimes it gets to be too much and I need a break. I thank you for not allowing them to bother me in my room, too, so I can just relax and nap and not worry. • Companionship. All dogs are very loyal. We love being around our pack! Please give us love and attention. Sometimes you are tired after work, but I’ve been waiting all day for you and I am so glad that you take the time to play with me…I love you so much for allowing me to run with you and feel free! • Understanding. I don’t always know your English words, but I want more than anything to please you and receive praise from you. I just don’t always know how. Please help me understand what you want by praising me and rewarding me for a job well done. Please ignore and forgive my mistakes and I promise to try to do everything right. • Exercise. We very active creatures, us dogs (or is it we dogs?). To maintain our health and overall happiness, daily runs are a must. Let me stretch out my lungs and feel my heart race when we play ball and tug. Don’t just stick to leash-walking…how would you like to be on a leash all the time? Find me a place where I can run and play. Because you’ve trained me, I now know that when you call my name, it means that I should ignore everything that I am focused on and race to you, so I promise to listen if you’ll just let me have the chance. Take me to a dog park or field daily (or even just as often as you can!) and let me really stretch my legs! • Medical Care. I will try my best to stay healthy and keep away from illness or disease, but I know that if I need to see an animal doctor, you will bring in immediately and make sure I feel better quickly. I may not like the annual visits where I get a few mosquito bites called "shots" and that weird thing you put up my...nevermind, but I trust you and that it is in my best interest to tolerate these visits. The cookies make it worthwhile and sometimes when we go in to just say hi? AWESOME! I know they care about me too, so I'll do my best to stand still. You tell me I go so that I don't get REALLY sick later, and I believe you. You're my mom, after all, and you have those thumbs that let you turn pages to books and pen doorknobs... Final thoughts: Thanks again for being my human mom, my leader, my team mate, my friend. I promise to try and be the dog you want me to be. To listen when you need to vent, console you when you’re down, protect you from bad things, jump for joy with you when something good comes along, and be the best friend you’ll ever have. I promise to be there for you until the last breath has gone from my body. Even after, there is a place called Rainbow Bridge, where I promise to wait for you until you can join me once again. I love you, Mom. If reincarnation exists, may you come back as one of your own pets!
February is Pet Dental Health Month! Julie is working with Waukesha Small Animal Hospital and month-long and posting pictures and DAILY program techniques to help you establish a brushing program for YOUR pet! Just visit: www.facebook.com/WaukeshaSmallAnimalHospital and "Like" their page to view the program!
The following is a handout that she had written to help owners begin the process of home dental care...Enjoy!
In-Home Pet Dental Care Tips
We would like to take a few minutes to help you establish a pet dental care program. Because in-home dental care is severely neglected in pets, our goal is to make your in-home dental program as easy to follow as possible so that your pet can benefit today.
If you’re like most pet owners, you’re thinking, “Pet Dental Program? - No Way!”, but let’s review a few facts that may have you reconsidering…
Oral disease is one of the most commonly diagnosed health-related concerns in both dogs (particularly small breeds) and cats!
Over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3!
Periodontal disease is a VERY common problem in our canine companions, with smaller breeds leading the percentage count…but there are even vaccines now to help. Ask one of technicians about them today!
All oral disease starts with the buildup of bacteria in your pet’s mouth
After your pet eats, saliva, food, and bacteria combine to form plaque on your pet’s teeth. Plaque turns into tartar as bacteria grow in the plaque and calcium salts get deposited.
Gum disease includes yellow and brown build-up of tartar along the gum line, inflamed gums and persistent bad breath.
Periodontal Disease develops when bacterial plaque is present. This disease can be very painful and result in dysfunction and tooth loss.
Systemic complications in your pet’s heart, liver, and kidneys occur when the excess oral bacteria travels into your pet’s bloodstream.
“So what can I do about it?”
Several ways are available for helping keep your pet’s mouth healthy:
Having appropriate dental chew bones and toys can help your pet’s mouth stay cleaner. Marrow bones, dental kongs, nylabones with spikes and other gum massagers can help break up tartar, keep saliva rinsing the teeth and keep your pet’s mouth healthier as well.
Oral wipes – There are dental wipes now available to help you wipe your pet’s teeth without having to maneuver a toothbrush.
Brushing Teeth – By far this is the most efficient way of scrubbing tartar off of your pet’s teeth…and brushing your pet’s teeth does not have to be all that difficult if approached correctly.
Water additives – Some water additives are available to try to help freshen your pet’s breath and break up tartar – and you only have to add a few drops to your pet’s water bowl!
Dental diets – Many diets are now available to help break up and prevent tartar on your pet’s teeth. We can help you determine which one will fit not only your pet’s oral needs, but their nutritional ones as well.
Dental Prophys (scaling and polishing) by your pet’s veterinary clinic.
How to Establish a Good Dental Program at Home:
• Introduce the brushing program to your pet gradually. Every step should be rewarded and even though the end goal is being able to brush your pet’s teeth, you want to make sure that the end-goal of brushing all of the teeth and gum line is broken down into manageable sessions filled with positive rewards.
• Have some healthy treats handy and remember that breaking each step into mini-sessions will make putting it all together (a full brushing) later that much easier.
• Finger brushes are typically the easiest way to brush your pet’s teeth and are not as awkward to manage as an actual pet toothbrush.
The larger pet toothbrushes are used to get under the gumline better, however.
• If your pet is small (cat or small dog) holding them in your lap helps. (Or having the pet on a kitchen or bathroom counter, table, etc, can also be beneficial.) Teaching your big dog to sit-stay or even play dead helps. Do NOT struggle with your pet or make the experience bad…keep giving treats for sitting still or even for offering ANY good behavior. If your pet is not used to sitting in your lap, make the sessions short and end when your pet stays still a few times.
Then, increase time required being still in order for your pet to earn a treat. When you can get your pet to remain still for 30-60 seconds, then start adding touching your pet’s jaw line and lifting their lips. Remember to treat for each thing that you do, so your pet thinks having their mouth messed with is an OUTSTANDING thing to have done.
When you can lift your pet’s lips and expose their teeth, start applying your finger to the teeth briefly (just a touch, really) and treating for that and letting your pet have a break after each short session. If you have liver sausage, tuna juice, squeeze cheese, or another tasty, mushy treat on your finger, your pet can start to understand that your finger in his mouth is a good thing!
A lot of pets even just like the poultry or mint pet toothpaste, so you could just use that as a treat!
Do NOT use human toothpaste as it can upset your pet’s stomach and even be toxic! Your pet has to swallow the paste we put into their mouth because they cannot spit it out like us, so use enzymatic toothpaste made specifically for your pet.
• Next, you’ll want to add the finger brush to your finger and do the steps again. You can dip your finger brush in tuna juice, bouillon broth, etc, to make your finger brush in your pet’s mouth tolerable (even desirable).
o Concentrate on the outside of your pet’s teeth. Your pet’s tongue naturally cleans the inside of the teeth quite well, so you don’t typically have to brush this area as often. Keep dipping your finger brush in the “tasty toothpaste” and in circular motions “brush” the teeth and gumline. If your pet WANTS to chew on the toothbrush, that can be used to help clean the inside areas, but it’s not typically necessary.
• Take breaks often if your pet is still a little uncomfortable. Give lots of praise (verbal) for sitting still while you’re doing each session.
Remember to begin and end the session happily and excitedly, to help your pet be excited for the whole process too!
• If your pet is still having trouble, ask us for help!
If you have children, a pet can be a wonderful addition to your home. However, there are some considerations that need to be kept in mind. Just like in everything else, your pet will need structural guidance in this endeavor to help make the beautiful relationship develop safely. Establish ground rules with your kids first. We have more in-depth recommendations also, if you want – just let us know!
A few basic guidelines are:
• Teach your kids that your pet’s kennel is NOT a play house. Keeping your pet’s kennel a safe place is critical. The children should not be able to go in and bother your pet or play in the kennel while he/she is in there. Your pet needs to know that this area remains a secure den…someplace safe to go if your pet wants to get away. (This works for when strangers come over as well!) If your kids DO go in there to “play” … give your pet LOTS of treats, praise, and make sure they know that the kid crawling in with them was the BEST thing that could have happened.
• Your pet’s food and water bowls should have the same rules attached. When your pet is eating, children should be kept busy elsewhere, not pestering the dog…having a child around only heightens the need for your new pet to “compete” for food…thus possibly creating a problem that doesn’t need to be there. If you are seeing growling or aggression issues when you or your kids simply walk by and do not tease, etc, then consult a professional immediately so these issues can be resolved. We don’t commonly reach into our pet’s food bowls (we should be able to and can teach our pets otherwise by dropping in treats, etc) but it’s not really a common occurrence. But if we are being giving the evil eye for even just walking by, then we WILL modify that issue immediately by making the food dish mean lots of good things when people come by, in the off chance we do have company over who go by the dish. It is important that they tolerate these actions and are not threatened by them. We can go over a more individualized program at our training session if you’d like. Teaching kids to walk by and TOSS or DROP TREATS into the dish can only help your pet see that kids approaching is a GOOD thing. Try this with YOU FIRST and then you can see if a child walking past and TOSSING a treat in from a safe distance is fine, then closer if there is no concern. If you are hesitant in ANY way, we can work on this during one of our sessions to ensure safe practices.
• I recommend teaching your pet to develop what we call “husbandry skills” (holding still for an examination, nail trims, pretending to apply eye and ear ointment, grooming/brushing, etc) and to tolerate minor “kid-proofing” exercises (skin-tugging, hugging, squeezing, loud screeching noises, etc) but until you are able to work on this (and even after such!), your child should respect your pet’s space. A lot of pets will tolerate younger children out of maternal instinct, but all dogs have their limits and why chance a parental response of pinning the naughty “pup” to the ground, like they WOULD do to their offspring if that “pup” is pushing the limit? Think about if you were being hit, kicked, had your hair pulled out, getting fingers in your eyes or ears, or having people by your butt…wouldn’t you most likely growl a warning too? We have to recognize and appreciate the fact that the dog is giving a warning and not just biting at this point! Some dogs may just bite - and a lot LEARN to do so, when punished for growling - and that is very bad! So use some common sense, please, and keep the kids respectful of the pet’s personal space…they couldn’t get away with that in school, right?
***Dr. Sophia Yin has some excellent handouts available for review at: http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/kids-and-dogs-how-kids-should-and-should-not-interact-with-dogs
Owners must understand that growling and “discipline” occurs between adult dogs and puppies…these same “disciplinary actions” are necessary sometimes, in our dogs’ opinion. This is why we need to ALWAYS Yes! and pay for tolerance of the kids’ roughness! ALWAYS Yes! and pay BIG when your dog DOESN’T react or walks AWAY from the situation! Let your dog know what an EXCELLENT pet they are for just lying there and tolerating such weird actions, like tugging or harsh petting or walking away to find something else to do. Parental supervision at all times is a must when children (especially small ones) are in the family.
Instead of allowing a child to steal the pet’s toys or bones, teach the child to get a piece of boiled chicken (or equivalent of something REALLY TASTY) toss the treat AWAY from the item so that the dog gets up and goes to get it, then they can toss a second treat as they are picking up the bone/item. Eventually, we would like them to be able to go up with a treat and trade the pet for a more desired item, but start safely.
CAUTION: You should always do this exercise first to see what the pet does and ALWAYS watch the interactions between child and dog.
Stop immediately and consult a professional if any growling or aggressive signs are shown.
For a good handout on how to read some signs of fear and aggression, visit: http://info.drsophiayin.com/free-poster-on-body-language-in-dogs/
For more ideas and to setup a Kid-Proofing gameplan, we can discuss this more at one of our sessions if you’d like. Please let us know in advance and we can bring some really further materials to help your child and canine companion develop a healthy bond.
The Take Home Message with Kids: We all-too-commonly ignore all of the good things that our pets do…whether with kids or in “obedience” in general…
Your pet is just laying there while the toddler stomps by? You SHOULD BE saying, “What a good dog you are! Super, here’s a treat!” (or toy, or the ability to go outside, etc)
Your pet naps nearby while your baby is gurgling and making little “alien” noises? “Wow, what a super dog I have! Good job….you keep that up…” and pet affectionately.
Our pets only do what we reinforce them to do (whether by Actively or Passively reinforcing it!) and so we need to be REWARDING them (cookies are great, but some dogs just need verbal and physical praise for these things if they are already calm.) for doing what we WANT them to do…but pay BIG for things that were a little more stressful, but handled correctly.
The average number of successful repetitions that it takes for a dog to truly understand one behavior is CORRECT and it becomes a habit, is 3000!
Well, these basic, daily repetitions add up fast! So praise your pet for TOLERATING things!
The baby/toddler/young child really should = treats, toys, and other wonderful things. Once your pet catches on that the baby screaming means to go get you and they get a treat, you’ll see them actively TRYING to get your attention versus trying to correct the baby! And THAT’S what we want…we want our pets to know that YOU will take care of the baby; they don’t have to. YOU will keep them safe from the baby’s hair pulling and if for some reason the baby pulls their hair, they’re going to get paid HUGE by getting pieces of rotisserie chicken or some other bonus!
There are a lot of other ways to help the relationship between your pet and a new addition even more satisfying, so please ask!
When trying to develop lifelong, good, habits…you CANNOT Yes! Or treat them enough! We can always FADE from treats after creating happy attitudes…but we cannot always modify a fearful or aggressive reaction after it occurs…or it may take longer to do so than to just have simply created a good response from the get-go. From prenatal preparations to introduction of newborns to training programs with toddlers to teenagers...we can help!
Call us today to get started!
CVT & Owner of Awesome Paws Academy