Thursday, May 24, 2018

Toy Aggression

In a past post, I wrote about how to deal with food aggression. Today, I will talk about TOY aggression. Both are types of resource guarding in which your dog is exhibiting signs of aggression towards humans or other pets that approach your dog when it's in possession of something highly desirable. At first, this can seem somewhat tame and a little bit annoying, but if not dealt with, it can lead to a dangerous situation for all humans and pets involved.

Signs That Your Dog May be Resource Guarding:
When you (or another pet) approaches your dog when in possession of a prized object, do they:

  • Refuse to give it up when asked?
  • Snap?
  • Hoard all toys and treats sometimes hiding them?
  • Growl?
  • Exhibit jealous behavior like butting another dog out of the way when you are petting the other dog (Congratulations! You are the prized object!)?
If you answered "Yes" to any of these, your dog is exhibiting signs of resource guarding. At first, some of these may seem cute (jealous behavior) or just downright annoying, but if you don't deal with them as a serious issue, you will have a serious issue on your hands. It can escalate very quickly. 

Reasons Dogs Resource Guard:
  • Resource guarding is a natural instinct for dogs when they need to express anxiety or fear over a perceived threat. Do you have multiple dogs in the house? Is there anxiety and stress within the "pack"? Is one dog constantly "bullying" another dog? These are all things you need to observe within your household. It may also have to do with two-legged family members and not just other animals. Assess the environment
  • Medical Condition
  • Poor socialization as a puppy
  • Inbreeding
  • Genetics-- resource guarding can be a normal behavior for specific breeds
  • Pack order behavior-- Again, this plays in to assessing your environment and the stress within your "pack" (human or animals). You should be the "pack leader" in your household and it's your job to maintain a calm, stress-free pack. Even though dogs do not speak human, they do pick up on our emotions. If you are feeling angry, stressed or depressed, your dog will pick up on this. They may not know the "Why" for these feelings, but they know something is not right.
Ok, so now that we have all of this out of the way and may have identified the problem, what do we do? There are specific things your can do specifically for food aggression. You can read about that here. But, today we are talking about TOY aggression.

  1. First and foremost-- YOU ARE THE BOSS. That does not mean you become the pack bully. That means you are the one in control in a calm, assertive manner. Before you give your dog anything, whether it be food or a toy, have them work for it. This involves placing said object on the floor and standing over it. Have Fido either, sit and stay, lay, roll over, shake whatever you choose as long as they are not running towards the object and trying to grab it (or gobble it!) as fast as they can.
  2. Teach your dog how to "drop it" and "leave it". Training a dog these manners are a must. Someday, they could potentially save your dog's life. 
  3. Prevent access to prized object that your dog constantly hoards and causes aggression. Just don't bring it home. Or if you do, your dog should only have this object when by themselves in a calm quiet place like their kennel. Honestly, this tip really doesn't solve the problem. It just kind of masks the problem and makes your life easier for the time being.
  4. If you are in the moment of your dog hoarding something, cause a diversion in order to get the dog away from the object. This can be something like ringing the doorbell, a ride in the car, or going for a walk. You could also give them a really enticing treat. If you do go the treat route, make sure you slowly lure the dog away from the prized object a good 15-20 feet before giving the treat. Do not give it to them right by the object! 
All in all, always remember that children should never be involved with "helping" a dog that is aggressively hoarding. If it gets to the point in which your dog is growling, snarling, snapping, lunging and biting, you need to get a professional dog behaviorist to help. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Purebred vs. Shelter Adoption

The time has come where you are thinking about adopting a dog into your family. One of the big decisions is whether to adopt a shelter dog or a purebred dog. There are pro's and cons for both sides and some individuals can have very strong opinions one way or the other. I am going to lay out the basic pro's and cons for both sides in Layman's terms without veering into the opinion category.

Basically, what it all comes down to is genetics. A purebred dog will have a high chance of being predictable in behavior and physical appearances. After all, that is the whole philosophy of breeding animals. Certain dogs are "hardwired" for certain work behaviors and energy levels. If you are going to adopt a purebred, you must make sure you DO YOUR RESEARCH on that specific breed and provide a living environment that caters to their genetic tendencies. Purebred dogs also will have a higher likelihood of having health problems. The genetic breeding for physical appearances and the limited gene pool are what cause this problem. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do your research when deciding on a breeder. This will help minimize the health problems in your dog. Some breeders are not reputable and are just in it for the money. (Next week, I will write about how to choose a dog breeder.) And lastly, be prepared to spend time researching your dog breed and forking over cash. Purebred dogs are a lot of money.

A shelter dog, on the other hand, is wide open when it comes to genetics. You most likely will have no clue as to what kind of breed (or most likely BREEDS) you have. This can cause a guessing game as to how to properly provide a living environment for your dog's tendencies. It will take time to figure out what Fido does and does not like. If you are adopting an older dog (as in not a puppy), you will not know the past history and have "surprise" behaviors pop up. But, adopting an older dog does have a plus-- most likely they will be house-trained! Shelter dogs are also less money upfront and most come with their shots, spay-neuter, microchip already completed. Health wise, you are working with a wider gene pool, so the likely hood of a chronic health problem is smaller than in a purebred.

I know I've talked a lot in this post about how genetics play a strong role in behavior for dogs of both purebred and shelter. But environmental factors should not be overlooked. Environmental factors do play a role in dog behavior. A dog needs a good starting point in life for socialization. If you are adopting a purebred dog, you will most likely have more control over what kind of environmental behaviors your four-legged friend has learned. A shelter dog is more complicated because the history can be anything and everything. The shelter can provide you with some background, but most likely you will need to be prepared to be dealing with a dog that has some bad habits. Whether a purebred or shelter dog, you need to make sure you are providing a family life that promotes positive environmental behaviors for your dog. Even if your dog comes from the most perfect background, if you do not continue offering a positive environment for your canine, your dog will develop bad habits. And vice versa, a dog that comes from a deplorable past can become the perfect family dog with time and love. Environment does play a role in behavior.

With all that said, choosing to have a dog in your life is a big decision. It takes time, research, money and commitment. You should never give an animal to someone as a gift and you should only adopt an animal if you are mentally and financially prepared to take care of it for the rest of it's life. With time and love, your furry friend will soon become a family member, not just a "pet".

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dog Toy Reviews!

It’s TOY REVIEW TIME!!!!! We have decided to do something fun with our enrichment program and start doing a hands-on dog toy review. Each month, we will be purchasing toys from a different dog toy company. We will be reviewing them for a month. During that month the same toys will be used in each activity. We will be posting videos of how the dogs like them and which ones actually hold up. If the toys make the cut on being a fun toy and a good investment, for not only us but also for home use, we will have them available for purchase (we may even hint to you that your dog absolutely loves a certain toy😉) Here is a glimpse of this month's toys: Aikiou and Animaganza. These toys will be introduced to the Enrichment Dogs this Friday, May11th, 2018. Please be on the look-out for our reviews (and be patient with us as we learn the ins and outs of  videoing product reviews 😀).

Aikiou (pronounced: IQ)

This image is from the Aikiou website:

Aikiou was founded and each product is designed by pet behaviorist and veterinary health technician Kathleen Desrosiers. Desrosiers created a series of interactive feeders that claim to occupy your furry companions in a way that correspond to how they eat in nature. They are made to promote intellectual activity which should in turn, reduce anxiety and bad behavior. These products are made from human-grade plastic that are free of BPA and BHT. According to their website, since 2008, Aikiou is the most recommended brand by veterinarians and behaviorists when it comes to enrichment. If you want to learn more about their products, you can click the link in the photo caption.


This picture comes off of the Animaganza website:
Animaganza is a sister company to Himalayan Corporation-- The company that makes the famous Himalayan Dog Chew. Animaganza's goal is to create enrichment toys and puzzles that are first on the market. They do not make replications of products that already exist. One product that I think is really quite adorable is the Animastuffy. Basically, it's a stuffed animal that has a velcro opening in the back. You can stuff this animal with your own stinky sock and seal it back up. Though you may think your stinky sock is gross, your dog may think it is the most comforting smell in the world-- thus the idea is that it will help provide comfort in anxious situations (like being in a doggy daycare without mom or dad!) Animaganza also has a program called "Make Mondays Matter". On selected Mondays throughout the year, they donate a case of dog toys to a no-kill shelter or rescue group. You can nominate your favorite shelter or rescue here

These are our first two companies! Be on the lookout for photos and the official review when it comes out! And remember, whatever toys make the cut will be available in our store front. Please be patient as we learn how to be movie stars. 😎