Monday, January 25, 2016

Fence Running In Canines

Fence running. Yep, I am going to address this topic. We all know "that one dog" (or maybe you own that dog) that consistently runs the fence line barking and growling at everything on the other side of the fence. It can be exasperating for everyone involved. If it's a person walking their dog on the other side of the fence, they are probably dreading EVERY TIME they have to walk by because it causes extreme stress to their dog and...well, it's just plain rude. To the dogs running up and down the fence, most of the time the owners don't realize that this "harmless behavior" can actually spiral into a myriad of unwanted canine behavior.

All dog breeds have different needs when it comes to exercise. Some need more and some don't need quite as much. BUT, all dogs need to be exercised. If they don't get their mental and physical exercise, they will eventually have to release their pent up energy and usually it will be with some unwanted behavior. Fence running can be one of those behaviors. If it is two dogs on each side of the fence running up and down, owners may think "Great! they are playing and getting exercise!" Often though, if the owner listens a little closer to their dog and watches their canine behavior, they will
soon find their dog isn't really playing. The two dogs doing the fence running are actually super frustrated and fighting. Signs of this frustration are : growling, snarling, showing of teeth and lunging at the fence. If the aggressive fence running isn't addressed, it can lead to a bunch of other aggressive behavioral problems and become compulsive. Every time the dog runs the fence with the unwanted behavior, the neurotransmitters in the brain are super activated and reinforcing the dog that this kind of behavior is wanted and needed. Eventually, the aggressive behavior will show in other situations outside of the fence, like when you are walking your dog or at the dog park. To understand a little more about canine stress and how to identify it, this article is a great read

Aggressive fence running is a behavior problem that should be addressed as soon as possible with diligence and consistency. Usually, a dog trainer is recommended to help with the training and it takes a long time with patience. The first thing you need to do is remove your dog from the situation at the first signs of stress. The second thing you need to do is train your dog with Operant Conditioning. You will need to leash your dog with a long line in the area of high stress fence running.... and then sit and wait. When the object of stress (person or dog) approaches the fence and your dog starts "the chase", you must keep your dog away from the fence with the leash and keep the focus on you with a highly desired toy or super-awesome treat. Once you are the focal point, give your dog a simple command like "sit" and reward your dog with the toy and/or treat. You must reward your dog EVERY TIME until "sit" becomes the habit when your dog sees the other dog and/ or person on the other side of the fence. It may be recommended that your dog not be allowed to be in the fenced area unsupervised until the behavior is completely extinguished.

Here are a couple more links about fence running:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

8 Things That Drive Your Dog Crazy

Recently, I have been thinking about the first dog I owned and all the things that I did wrong that caused behavioral problems. I swear, I probably drove that dog to the insane asylum with my lack of knowledge on how to raise a dog. I wish I would have had a short list of do's and don't s when I adopted that dog so long ago. Though, a list may not have helped because I was young and thought I knew everything. It's always easier to think back on these things in hindsight. This week I have decided to compile a list of common mistakes and maybe it will help some other dog owner out there:

1. Treating Your Dog Like a Human: Dogs are not humans (Thank goodness!) They speak a completely different language. Things that humans find appealing may not necessarily mean dogs like them. Take for instance hugs. Most humans like hugs, but often a hug for a dog makes them feel stressed and claustrophobic. Hugs mean something completely different in dog language. As a dog owner, it is really important to learn your dog's language and how they communicate their different emotions. AND, it is equally important to teach your children.

2. Not providing your dog with enough exercise: To put it simply, a dog that is not adequately exercised (mentally and physically) will get into trouble. Your little furry family member will have a lot of pent up energy and will have to find a way to release that energy.

3. Taking food away mid-meal: A common mistake of dog-owners that are dealing with dogs that are food aggressive is take their food bowl away mid-meal when their dog is still eating. This just adds a lot of stress to your dog and makes the situation worse. Every time you feed them, they will be worried and in a panic wondering when their bowl is going to be taken away. Instead, enforce the rule in your household that your dog, whether food aggressive or not, is to be left alone while eating. Establish boundaries for humans and dogs. Which leads me to #4.

4. Establish boundaries! From the time your dog first steps foot into your household, you need to establish boundaries. Your food is your food, not your dog's (and vise versa--- don't mess with your dog when they are eating!) There should be no food gobbling. Which is what happens when your dog "stress eats"... Yep, even I food gobble when I'm stressed. When going on a walk, your dog should walk beside you. Not in front of you and pulling on the leash. When you enter the household or guests enter, your dog should not jump up to greet people. Basically, set rules for your dog and expect them to follow the rules.

5. Don't yell at your dog all the time: When you yell at your dog all the time, you will A) Ruin your relationship. If your dog is not properly trained, he/she will not understand why you are yelling at them. All they know is that your anger is always directed at them. This causes a lot of emotional stress for your dog. B) De-sensitize your dog to yelling. This could become dangerous. Imagine if your dog is running into a busy street and you NEED to yell at them to stop. But, your dog isn't listening because yelling is a daily norm. Not a pretty picture, huh? Instead, focus on properly training your dog, so yelling is not necessary and only used in life threatening situations to get their attention quickly.

6. Using punishment instead of positive reinforcement for training: When it comes to training, positive reinforcement of good behavior goes a long way. Limit punishing your dog when they do something wrong. If they are doing something wrong, you need to catch them in the act of doing it and re-direct their behavior. When you see them doing something right, reward that behavior. Also, remember to be consistent with your training.

7. Using the crate for punishment: Dogs are naturally den dwellers and a crate should be their personal den. They should feel safe and cozy when they are in their crate. When you use their crate as a punishment jail, their den will become associated with stress and bad, horrible feelings. This is not a good situation.

8. Leaving your dog for long periods of time alone: Dogs are social animals. Leaving them alone for long periods of time can cause separation anxiety, stress and depression. If you need to be gone for long periods of time, maybe a dog is not the right pet for you. Other options are to arrange to have someone come to your house to check in on your dog to provide attention and break up their day or take them to a doggy daycare during the day.

I hope this list is helpful for some dog owners out there! There can be a lot of frustration and miscommunication when an owner does not know how to "speak dog". Being a dog owner requires a lot of education. As a owner, I am constantly educating myself. Knowing that you don't know everything is the key. And remember, mistakes happen. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and move forward. Don't beat yourself up. Learning is a life long process and is very fluid. Not all dogs are the same, which is why learning how your dog communicates is vitally important.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Turmeric for Dogs

Lately, I have been adding a bit of turmeric into my daily diet to help ease the pain of my arthritis. Naturally, I have to research and know if it is also beneficial for my four-legged family members. The answer is "Yes"! Dogs can also reap the benefits of turmeric much like humans. Turmeric is a root in the ginger family. It is native to Middle Eastern and Southeast Asia and has long been used for a variety of health ailments:
  • Detoxify the body
  • Stimulate bile production in the liver, which in turn, metabolizes fat and removes waste.
  • Used topically as a paste, it can disinfect wounds.
  • Stomach tonic
  • Memory issues
  • Arthritis pain (my problem!)
  • and is currently being research for anti-cancer properties.
Yep, It's beginning to become one of those "super spices". The component in Turmeric that makes it so powerful is a bio-active compound, curcumin (not to be confused with the spice Cumin...they are two different things). Curcumin is found to be an anti-inflammatory (pain reliever!) and an antioxidant.

For a dog, the daily dosage of turmeric should be 1/8- 1/4 of a tsp per 10 lbs of dog weight. It should also be mixed with an oil to aid in body absorption. Here are a couple recipes to help:

You can also mix turmeric into your favorite dog treat recipes. Whenever you add a new supplement to your dog's diet, you should always start out with a very low dose and work up very slowly. Be observant of any changes in your dog's behavior or bodily reactions.

Now for the warnings:
  • Turmeric can be a binding agent. This means you dog may become constipated. Make sure lots of water is available and watch for constipation.
  • Turmeric is also a blood thinner! If your dog is on a blood thinning medication or has liver disease, it is best to check with your vet before supplementing with this spice.
  • Beware of over supplementing your canine friend. Sometimes too much of a good thing is NOT good. One supplement can counteract another if taken together. It's always best to do your research and consult a vet before starting a new supplement.  
  • Dogs with kidney stones should not take Turmeric, because it will increase urinary oxalate levels.
  • This spice can also effect drugs for diabetes and aspirin.
With all that said, Here are a couple of useful links to help you on your way:

-"Turmeric for Dogs", by Habib, Rodney,

-"Turmeric for Dogs: How to Safely Use It" ,

- "Turmeric for Dog Arthritis: 8 Evidence Based Benefits, Dosage and Recipes",

One last thing---turmeric used to be used to dye clothes yellow. Do not be alarmed if your dog has a yellow tongue or mustache after eating!