Monday, May 30, 2016

Breaking Up a Dog Fight

If you own a dog, there is a good chance you will at some point have to break up a dog fight. Especially, if you often take your furry friend to the dog park. Dog fights can be scary and can result in injury to you or your dog if you are not mentally prepared to deal with one. The worst thing you can do is A) Scream at the top of your lungs. This only escalates the situation. B) Grab a dog's head and/ or neck area. This will result in you getting bit. and C) Keep a hold of the leash, if your dog has one on. This will result in entanglement and possible injury to one of the parties involved. If your dog has a leash on and is in a fight, the best thing you can do is immediately drop the leash. So, what should you do if you happen to find yourself in the middle of a dog fight? First and foremost, keep your cool. Next, here are some helpful tips:

When it comes to dog fights, the best thing to do is recognize the situation before it arises by knowing how dogs communicate. Usually, there is one dog that is the aggressor and the other dog is merely on the defense. Once you recognize which dog is initiating the fight, use the above techniques to stop that dog. Once that dog is stopped, the other dog that is just protecting itself, will most likely stop. Other methods of stopping a dog fight are to spray the dogs with water or bang an object that will make a loud noise. But, these tips are only really useful if you are at home and have access to such things that will spray water or will make a loud noise. Once you have broken up the fight, check to see if the dogs want to keep fighting or have calmed down. Dogs that want to keep fighting, may have underlying behavioral problems.

A dog owner can usually notice aggression problems within their dog when their dog reaches puberty: 6-9 months old, when the become socially mature: 18-36 months old or if they are not spayed or neutered. Even low levels of aggression should be taken seriously. If not successfully dealt with, low levels can eventually escalate into an out of control problem. Here are some signs that your dog will exhibit when they are aggressive:
  • Growling
  • Lip biting
  • Snapping
  • Lunging
A dog that is often the target of another dog will show these signs of fear:
  •  Crouching
  • Tucking of the tail between the legs
  • Licking the lips 
  • Backing away
It is important for a dog owner to know the difference between play posture and true aggression. In order to deal with aggressive behavior, the owner must start training right away by:
  • Sidetracking the bad behavior with a good behavior
  • Give verbal cues followed by action. Example: If your puppy bites your hand, immediately say "Ouch!" and stop playing.
  • Give your dog a time out right when they exhibit aggressive behavior.
  • Don't engage in aggressive roughhousing. Some puppies have a low arousal threshold. Playful roughhousing can quickly result in aggressive fighting with these types of puppies.
For more information, please see these links (or look for your own!):

How to Safely Break Up a Dog Fight, The Whole Dog Journal:

Yes, There is A Smart Way To Break Up a Dog Fight, The Dodo: 

How to Safely Break Up a Dog Fight, The Dogington Post:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Heartworms in Dogs

A heartworm is a parasitic worm that is transmitted by mosquitoes to your dog. It is easy to prevent, but can be difficult and costly to cure. Your dog can become infected when bit by a mosquito that is infected with the heartworm larvae. There is no way you can detect if a particular mosquito is infected, but it only takes a bite from ONE infected mosquito for the larvae to be transmitted to your dog.

Once the larvae has been transmitted to your dog, it takes about 7 months for it to mature into an adult heartworm. These little buggers travel through your dog's body and lodge into the heart, lungs and blood vessels to reproduce. Adult worms can get up to about a foot long and can live 5-7 years reproducing and causing permanent damage inside of your dog. A dog can get up to 250 worms inside there body! YUCK. If left untreated, the infestation will eventually kill your dog in a not so nice way.

Luckily, there are readily available preventatives you can give your dog in the form of monthly chew tablets (that dogs think are treats), monthly topicals and a 6-month injectable.  The preventatives are the way to go in terms of health and cost efficiency. If your dog already has heartworms, there is a treatment: Immiticide, which is an injectable arsenic based product that must be given 2- 3 times to your dog. The cost for treatment can range from $300-$1000 depending upon where you live. The catch to just relying on treatment instead of a preventative is that heartworms can cause serious permanent damage to your dog's heart, lungs and blood vessels. During treatment, your dog must remain quiet for several months afterward. As the worms die from the Immiticide, they break off into tiny pieces and can cause pulmonary blockage. Most deaths after treatment are caused by dogs exercising not from the actual treatment. If a dog gets heartworm and the owner has absolutely no way to pay for the treatment, the monthly preventative (Ivermectin) can be given instead. BUT, it takes about TWO YEARS for Ivermectin to eradicate the worms and in the meantime permanent damage to the heart, lungs and blood vessels will happen. In addition, heartworms are not a one time deal. Your dog can get repeat infections if not given the preventative.

How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Heartworms?
Initially, you dog will have no symptoms, but as the worms multiply and take up more space inside your dog, you will notice:
  • A chronic cough
  • Your dog will get easily tired from exercise
  • Abnormal lung sounds
  • Pass out from lack of blood to the brain
  • Eventually death
 Can Heartworms Be Passed to Humans?
No. Heartworms are a specific parasite to dogs, cats and ferrets. It is VERY rare for a human to get heartworms and even if a human does become infected, the worm cannot complete it's cycle. Also, Heartworms cannot be transmitted from dog to dog. It must be transmitted through a mosquito. Even if a mosquito bites an infected dog and then bit an uninfected dog. There is an incubation period that has to take place inside the mosquito before it can transmit the larvae.  

The best way to keep your dog happy, healthy and free of these really gross parasites is to give your dog the preventative. I recommend to give your dog the preventative even in the cold months. Repetition breeds habit and humans are notorious for forgetting. If you stop giving your preventative in the winter, you are more likely to forget to give it to your dog in the high-risk seasons. For more information, please visit these sites:

Heartworms in Dogs: Facts and Myths, WebMD, 

Heartworm Basics, American Heartworm Society, 

Heartworms, Pets and Parasites,

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

DIY Enrichment Games For Your Dog

Because we have a great Enrichment Program, I thought it would be fun to post some enrichment games you can make for your dog at home:

 Image: Yes Missy
The Muffin Tin Game is somewhat like Hide-and-Go-Seek, but with treats instead of humans. It's pretty simple and easy to put together. You just grab a muffin pan, and place a few treats in random indentations in the pan. Then, place tennis balls over all the indentations. You dog needs to A) figure out how to get the balls out and B) figure out which indentations hold the treats. A full tutorial can be found here: Yes Missy.

Image: The Nerd's Wife
This enrichment game was found on The Nerd's Wife and will keep your dog entertained for hours. I do want to write a little disclaimer: The Nerd's Wife tutorial on how to make this enrichment toy also endorses Purina Beyond Pet Food. Though Bark City thinks this is an awesome idea for an enrichment toy, we are not endorsing Purina Beyond.... Because, well... we think the food we sell at the daycare,  Honest Kitchen, is the greatest. Honest Kitchen is not a kibble, but they sell treats and "toppers" that can be used in these toys.

Image: Kol's Notes
This enrichment toy comes from Kol's Notes. It's inexpensive to make and will keep your dog busy. But, like the above game by The Nerd's Wife, Kol's Notes is endorsing a dog food on their tutorial. Again, we want you to like Honest Kitchen, so we aren't going to be endorsing Kol's food.

Image: Kelly's Dog Blog
I have seen this toy circulating the internet quite a bit. And, you will need a handyman to help you make it. But, once it's made, I think it would be well worth the time and effort. The concept of this toy is to have your dog figure out how to get the treats out of the bottle (aka spinning the bottle). If you want to see more images of how this toy works, head on over to Kelly's Dog Blog

Image: Leopold's Crate
This last enrichment toy may look like an ordinary ball with a bunch of fabric stuffed into it. And yes, that is what it is, but there is more! Inside each of those pieces of fabric are little tiny treats. This toy is good for "those one dogs" that like to rip their stuffed animals apart. For a full tutorial, please visit: Leopold's Crate

Remember to exercise your dog's mind is just as important as physical exercise. Constantly learn and play together!