Monthly Archives: March 2015

Easter Tips For Your Dog

Easter is almost here!  Are you ready?  Have you extended your invitations?  Laid out your favorite recipes?  Gathered everything for your baskets?  Are your shoes polished?  Is your dog ready?

easterdogsWe want our pets to enjoy the holiday, food and friendship as much as we do.  But we should prepare our dogs for this influx of guests and abundant food.  How are your dog’s door manners?  Will she jump all over your guests?  This is particularly concerning for elderly visitors and youngsters who can be knocked down.  Door manners is probably the most requested training issue from my clients.  And I think in-home dog training is the best solution for that misbehavior.  Let’s work on the problem where it happens.  Contact me at 614-859-0612 to get started.

In the meantime, there are a couple of actions you can take:

  •  You may need to keep your dog confined.  If your dog needs to be kept behind a gate or in another room, make sure she has something to occupy her mind.  Otherwise she may get bored and destructive and start chewing!
  • Explain to your guests that your dog is not allowed to jump even if they say they don’t mind.  It’s your house and your rules apply.
  • Nervous or aggressive dogs should have a safe place to retreat.  Make sure guests, especially children, know to leave her alone when she’s in her safe place.
  • Timid dogs prefer to introduce themselves.  Don’t allow your guest to invade her space.  Be especially careful of the guest who  claims to be a “dog person”.  You know your dog best; don’t allow your guests’ bravado to overrule your experience.
  • Exercise your dog prior to guests arriving.  A long walk or vigorous game of fetch will help expend her energy.
  • Make sure the water bowl is full.  Stressed dogs pant more.

You may be tempted to let your dog be part of the celebration by giving her some of your Easter meal.  This is not a good idea for many reasons.  Do not leave food out or trash cans uncovered; those good smells are tempting.  Avoid giving her “samples” of fatty or spicy foods.  Also, avoid giving your dog cooked bones which splinter easily and could become choking or intestinal hazards.

And remember to keep those Easter baskets out of reach.  The plastic grass, chocolate, sweets and products containing xylitol can be dangerous.

Finally, beware of toxic plants.  Easter lilies can be poisonous to cats.  As mentioned in a previous blog, amaryllis plants are also poisonous.

With these tips and reminders you and your dogs should have a healthy and happy Easter.

Preventing Pet Poisoning

It’s hard to believe the winter chill will soon be behind us.  March brings us Spring and Poison Prevention Awareness Month.  After our winter hibernation, you gardeners will soon be taking advantage of being outdoors weeding, planting, and digging.

Did we say digging? You might want to dig while your dog is not around or he may mimic you!  We don’t want to teach him to dig in the garden.
petpoisonBesides fresh breezes, blooming plants and allergies, Spring also brings the danger of dog poisonings. Unfortunately, thousands of dogs and cats suffer fatal poisonings each year due to accidental ingestion of household or outdoor products.

Regrettably, the chemicals you use to make your lawn and plants grow, may be toxic to your pet.  And your plants may be dangerous.  You know those gorgeous tulips you planted in the fall? The bulbs contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.  Will you get an Amaryllis for Easter? These contain toxins that can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hyper-salivation, anorexia and tremors. For a complete list of plants that are poisonous, click here.

There are other products you may use in your yard that can also be harmful to dogs. These include:

  • Insecticides or Pesticides (such as Ortho Rose Pride). Many areas of the country that are susceptible to flea and tick infestations use insecticides to eradicate them (organophosphates and carbamates are particularly toxic). These can cause respiratory arrest, nausea, vomiting, and seizures in your dog. If you are using insecticides in your lawn, keep your dog inside for at least 24 hours.
  • Herbicides such as 2,4-D, glyphosate, Roundup, dicamba, and paraquat can cause vomiting if eaten. Make sure your dog, his bowl, chew toys, and virtually anything he mouths are inside while you are treating your lawn.
  • Slug, snail bait and rat poison. Tasty to dogs, these products often contain metaldehyde and can cause tremors, seizures and even death. Products containing ferric phosphate are a less toxic version.
  • Fertilizers. Eating grass that has been recently fertilized rarely leads to serious poisoning. Fertilizers are at their most harmful when they are eaten directly out of the bag. To avoid any risks to your dog however, put him inside until the product has been absorbed into the lawn.

To be safe, every responsible dog owner should create a pet poison first aid kit. The Pet Poison Helpline, which is available 24/7 (for a $49 fee) has the most comprehensive list of what you will need.

Greg Knows Dogs hopes these tips help you and your dogs enjoy a great and healthy start to Spring!

Preventing Your Dog From Mouthing and Biting

Besides housetraining, the #1 issue for clients with puppies is mouthing and biting.  Puppies learn bite inhibition from their mother and littermates.  Without guidance from fellow canines, it falls to us to train our dogs not to bite.

konglargeIt’s important to keep in mind that pups explore the world with their mouths.  That’s why they chew your remote, your antique desk leg, tissues, rugs and your hands.  So give your dog some appropriate and fun things to chew.  Clients frequently use Kongs, Nylabones, antlers, ice cubes, and baby carrots.  I’m a fan of carrots and ice cubes because they’re cheap and low calorie.  I also like Kongs because they satisfy the chewing need and they also stimulate the brain and reduce boredom when they’re filled with treats. Nylabones and Kongs can be put through the dishwasher, which is nice.  Antlers are very durable, but expensive.  Rotating the toys available to your dog will keep him from getting bored with them.

These suggestions are great alternatives to eating your hand, but we must also train them to mouth gently and not bite.  Some dog trainers believe time outs are a good way to teach dogs not to mouth.  I believe that putting a dog in timeout takes away your opportunity to teach appropriate behavior.  Time outs are better for management – when YOU are at the end of your rope – than for teaching, in my opinion.

Pups will frequently mouth while we’re petting or playing with them.  As long as the mouthing is gentle and appropriate — remain calm.  If the mouthing becomes hard, freeze the motion of your hand and say “no” firmly.  Some people prefer to yelp but that might further excite the pup.  When he lets go of your finger or starts licking you, praise him with soft, soothing sounds.  If he persists and doesn’t seem to “get” what you’re teaching him you may want to use a chewing deterrent on your hands, like Bitter Apple or vinegar.

Set up play sessions 3 – 4 times daily, with sessions lasting about 10 minutes.  Correct the behavior you don’t want and reinforce the behavior you want with praise and petting. I’m a big believer in setting up a situation that will tempt your pup to misbehave, so that you can teach him appropriate behavior.  Having said that, don’t play with your dog by waving fingers in front of him, or jamming your fingers in his mouth.  That’s not play; that’s temptation.

There are some pups who turn to mouth on you every time you pat or stroke him.  You can teach your dog to not be hypersensitive to touch by giving small treats with one hand while you stroke with the other.

I began this article mentioning that dogs learn bite inhibition from other dogs.  You might consider taking your pup to doggie daycare where he can play and learn from adult dogs or other pups.  All of this can take place under the supervision of the daycare staff.  Another benefit of daycare is your pup will come home tired after playing all day.  And he may be so tired he won’t have the energy to mouth on you!

Like most of life’s lessons, the key to teaching this is patience and consistent practice.

4C’s of Housebreaking: 4 C’s: Chow, Confinement, Consistency, Clean up Chow

puppy_crateChow: 

  • Feed your dog a quality food on a schedule.
  • Puppies 6 months or younger, three times a day
  • Adults, twice a day

Confinement:

  • Limit her access.  A pen, baby gate and/or crate are important.  As she improves her house training, gradually increase her access to your house.
  • The crate should only be big enough to  stand up, turn around, and stretch.

Consistency:

Consistency is important to help your dog learn.  Multiple methods, places, and verbal cues will be confusing.

Have a potty schedule.

  • Adults: when they wake up, after play, after eating.  They should go out at least four times a day.
  • Pups:  when they wake up (including naps), after play, after eating, after baths.  In general, take age of pup in months to determine how long they can be confined without a potty break.  For example a two month old pup can wait two hours – maybe three.

Take her out on leash; give her 10 minutes to find a spot.  Say your verbal cue as she is squatting.  Reward with praise, treat, and play.  No playing until after elimination.  If she doesn’t eliminate, put her back in confined area for 20 minutes or so, then take her out again.  Repeat until success.

Clean Up:

  • Clean all accidents with an enzymatic cleaner.

Does Your Dog Have a Bad Habit?

As a dog trainer, I hear all kinds of embarrassing dog stories.  I appreciate that my clients feel comfortable sharing their disconcerting challenges with me.  Now, it’s time for me to own up to a problem with dear, sweet Winkler….

winkler_2_cropWinkler was our first dog and very loving.  Unfortunately she had the disgusting habit of eating her own stool.  I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say the evidence was clear that she did this.

I followed my first Vet’s advice and tried a powder on Winkler’s food.  When that didn’t work, we added Worcestshire sauce… and then we doubled the sauce… trying to remain optimistic!  When nothing else worked, we resigned ourselves to supervising and immediately cleaning up her eliminations.

If I had been a dog trainer then, I would have realized that there are more than a hundred theories about why dogs eat stool… there is not one clear answer for why, or how to effectively respond.  Some of the theories include too much protein in their diet, too many carbohydrates, boredom, cleanliness, and my wife’s personal favorite explanation, “it tastes good!”

Today, when a client has shared a tale similar to Winkler’s, I ask a lot of questions, and we analyze the situation together.  Spending the time to diagnose what’s going on, we have a greater chance of finding the right solution.  There is always easy advice to give and multiple strategies to try… you’ll find plenty of these on the internet.  My work with clients is specific to their dog, the challenges she is facing, and the circumstances surrounding the problem.  And I promise to never utter, “it just tastes too good to pass up!”

Holistic dog training

As the name implies, holistic training examines the “whole picture” to address the “parts” that may need fixing. In the case of dog training, it’s important to know that a dog’s behavior is influenced by many factors:

  • The dog’s environment
  • The dog’s diet
  • Quality and frequency of exercise
  • YOUR behavior

Taking these factors into consideration, Greg will work with YOU AND YOUR DOG where the misbehavior happens (your home, your yard, your neighborhood, etc.) and devise a plan for correcting his or her behavior. The plan will only require a few minutes of practice each day.

It’s no secret that people and dogs make wonderful companions. That’s why sharing a common “language” is a vital part of a healthy relationship with your dog. Greg will help you learn your dog’s language, enabling you to communicate with him or her in consistent, easily understood ways.