Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Sensory Overstimulization In Dogs

Many successful dog trainers have done wonders for dogs through positive reinforcement training and behavior modification, but there are some dogs where the rules just don't seem to apply. They need extra help. It's not because these dogs are overly aggressive, trying to dominate you or are basically non-compliant, it's because they are overwhelmed by the world! Every little butterfly, rustling tree leaf, scent or motion seems to send them into overdrive. They are simply overwhelmed by the world at large.

How can you tell if your dog is overstimulated?
  • Hyperactivity: Boredom and over-stimulation can often look alike. If you are regularly exercising your dog (mentally and physically) and they still seem to be going bonkers, you may want to evaluation whether you are over doing it and your dog is over stimulated. Yes, dogs like humans can be over trained.
  • Hiding: Dogs will often try to find a place to hide that is quiet and dark when they are over stimulated. If your dog is hiding somewhere, check your environment. If you have children in the house, make sure they are following proper dog etiquette with boundaries. Let's face it, kids need to be loud and crazy sometimes, but that often does not mix with canines. Allowing your dog to have a place to retreat will minimize the risk of nipping, biting and "accidents" that cause injury to your two-legged family members. Same goes when you have guests over. Sometimes, the human life can be just too much for your canine. 
  • Nipping and Biting: Again, please re-read the above about hiding. Your dog will first try to retreat to a quiet place before resorting to nipping and biting. Sometimes though, dogs nip and bite when they are overly playful. It's how dogs play with each other. Your job as a human parent to a dog, is to recognize when the playing has gone too far and your dog is starting to get overstimulated. Try to keep playtime to a duration where your dog does not get over stimulated. 
  • Compulsive Behavior: Tail chasing, constant licking and spinning in circles can all be compulsive behaviors. Yes, puppies and kitties will tail chase and spin in circles in normal play, but there can be a point where it becomes compulsive and cause injury. If these behaviors are becoming compulsive, chances are your dog is over stimulated. 
If your dog seems to be hitting the above criteria as an overstimulated dog, the first thing you must do is  take your dog to the vet for lab work to eliminate the possibility of a medical issue. The next thing you need to do is check your environment. Is it crazy town? Are you stressed out? Do you lead an overly hectic lifestyle or get easily frustrated when training your dog? If so, you probably need to re-assess your lifestyle and find ways to simplify and control your own frustration. When training your dog, you must remain calm. If everything is as cool as a cucumber and medical problems have been eliminated, there are products and methods out there to help your dog:
  • DAP (dog-appeasing pheromone) : This pheromone mimics the scent of a lactating mother dog. It is said to help calm about 80% of dogs. It can come as a collar, a spray or a plug-in. 
  • Thunder Shirt: This is a snug wrap that is often used for canines with a thunder phobia. It can also be used to calm dogs in busy kennels.
  • BACH Rescue Remedy: This is developed for humans, but many trainers often use it on canines as well. It is a blend of medicinal flowers designed to help deal with immediate problems. For more information click here
  • GoDesana Stress and Nerves: This essential oil blend can be made into a linen spray to spray on a bandana, a massage oil or diffused in your household. Always remember to dilute your essential oils to a dilution meant for canines, not humans. For more information on essential oil safety for canines, click here
  • Eye Contact Game: This behavior modification technique is part of Chris Bach's The Third Way training program: "[The trainer] uses food to reward a dog’s choice to do something right and simply interferes with a dog’s choice to do something wrong. By utilizing THE THIRD WAY’S exclusive teaching and proofing processes and without force or punishment, owners teach dogs how to ignore food and obey cues. As a result, they are very reliable in the face of strong distractions and are not dependent upon food to be accurate and willing performers. Dogs learn what owners want." 
  • T-touch: Is a massage technique that employs circular movements of the fingers and hands all over the body to activate cell function and awaken cellular intelligence. You can find out more here
  • Socialization: There is a critical period in which puppies must be socialized: 4-16 weeks of age. But, dogs must also be socialized after that period on a continuous basis. Proper socialization is key to dog behavior. There are dogs, especially rescue dogs with abused pasts, that normal socialization will just not work. These dogs may never have a normal life and owners will need special vigilance to give them an environment conducive to their individual needs. 
  • Calm Hand Strokes: When your dog is anxious about a situation or over stimulated, sometimes calmly petting your dog in long, slow strokes on the back while avoiding the head works wonders. The key to this technique is that the owner must be calm.
  • Anti-anxiety medication: Medication can be used after all other options have been exhausted or as a way to calm your dog in order to effectively institute other methods. These options should be discussed with your veterinarian and a professional dog trainer. 
Keep in mind when trying new products and techniques with your canine, that you should try one thing at a time and give 2 weeks to a month before you switch or add on. This will allow you to know what is and isn't working and keep your dog sane.

For more information, go to these links:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

First Aid Kits

Holidays are right around the corner! If you are traveling with your pet, it is always a good idea to pack a first aid kit. You never know what Fido might get into while away from home. A first aid kit will at least somewhat prepare you for whatever gets thrown your way.

So what should you bring?
Things I probably wouldn't think of until it's  after the fact...
  •  Pet First Aid book
  • Phone numbers and address of an emergency vet clinic in the area you are visiting.
  • Phone number of your personal vet.
  • Paperwork! All of your pet's vet records and a photograph of your pet. It's helpful to store these kinds of things in a waterproof bag. 
  • Leash and a muzzle. The muzzle is in case your pet is injured and tries to bite you. DO NOT muzzle your dog if he is vomiting or choking. 
  • Extra identification tags


 Basic First Aid Supplies:

  • gauze pads (non-stick!! Unless you want to be cutting fur.)
  • adhesive tape
  • antiseptic wipes
  • blanket/ towels
  • cotton balls
  • hydrogen peroxide (this can be used to induce vomiting, but first CONTACT YOUR VET before attempting to get proper instructions!)
  • ice pack
  • non latex disposable gloves
  • petroleum jelly
  • rectal thermometer (A pet's temperature should not rise above 103-degrees F. and should not fall below 100-degrees F.) Here is a link for how to take a dog's temperature.
  • scissors with blunt ends
  • self-cling bandages (these will not stick to your pet's fur).
  • sterile saline solution
  • tweezers
  • syptic powder (This is a powder that helps stop bleeding on minor cuts and scrapes).
  • rubbing alcohol
  • flashlight
  • antibiotic ointment
  • nail clippers 
  • Benadryl (diphenydramine). This can be taken orally or made into a paste and applied to a sting. For dosage, please click here. I recommend writing your canine's medication dosages somewhere handy, for quick reference.
  • Calendula cream (relief from hot spots and stings)
  • socks (for torn foot pads)
  • fine toothed flea comb (to find ticks)
  • TREATS!!!! (Your dog will probably think this is the most important one.)
I know, it seems like a lot of stuff and hopefully, you won't need it. But, it's always better to be safe than sorry and most of this stuff can be used on humans too. ;)


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Six Ways To Reduce Holiday Stress In Your Canine

It's getting to be crunch time, people. The Holidays are no longer sneaking up on us, but rather we are frantically trying to catch up. Holiday shopping, meal planning, parties, guests, you name it. It can be a stressful time of year, especially for our furry family members. They don't know about Holidays or what the big excitement is about, all they know is that energy is up and their human companions are stressed out. This in turn, causes them to be frantic and stress out as well. Here are a few signs of stress you can keep a watch for in your canine companion:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy and interest in things they used to love
  • Lip licking and yawning
  • Boisterous behavior  or excessive whining
  • Hiding and cowering when you call to them
  • Chewing on furniture and things they are not supposed to chew on when they haven't done that in ages.
  • Velcro dog-- basically following you around EVERYWHERE and being right under your feet all the time.
  • They seemed to have forgotten they are potty trained. 
Of course, these behaviors could also be an underlying health problem. It may be good to take your dog to the vet, just to rule out something physical. But once you have ruled out something biological, here is what you can do to help ease the tension in Fido:

  1. Stick to your routine: Routine is very important to canines. It brings them comfort. Make sure you are feeding your furry loved one at the same time(s) you would each day and walk/play with them at your normal times. 
  2. Physical Exercise: It's easy to cut corners on physical exercise when things are coming at you at all directions. But physical exercise is not only good for you, it's good for Fido. Setting aside a regular time everyday to exercise will help reduce stress in both of you and will be good for bonding/ strengthening trust in your relationship. Plus Fido will be less likely to engage in destructive behavior.
  3. Mental Exercise: Giving your dog mental exercises each day helps keep boredom at bay. A bored dog = a dog more likely to get into trouble! You can challenge your dog with enrichment puzzles or brush up on some training behaviors. All of this will help reduce stress and keep your dog happy.
  4. Enlist Help: If you are just too busy to keep a normal routine with your pet, you may want to think about enlisting some help! You can hire someone or recruit a family member to take over walking and feeding the dog at the normal time. OR you can opt for your dog to come play at a doggy daycare. Personally, we think Bark City Doggy Daycare is the best. 😉
  5. Manage Your Own Stress: Often your dog will figure out your stressed before you have figured it out. If your dog is a walking around mental health case, chances are you are too. Dog's don't know why you are stressed, they just can feel you radiating that energy and it makes them nervous! Maybe it's time to sit down and evaluate the stress in your own life and find ways to calm down and BREATHE.
  6. Quiet Sanctuary: If you are having a party or lots of guests, set aside a room away from all the chaos for your dog that is quiet. Put their kennel (aka personal sleeping den) in that room with their favorite toys, water, ect. This is a place just for them. People are not allowed.
The Holidays are stressful for humans and furry family members. Taking steps and precautions to minimize stress is a must in order to keep insanity at bay. We can't avoid all the hustle and bustle, but at least we can try to be a lion tamer. Happy Holidays everyone! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Seven Alternatives To Rawhide Chews


The above video has been circulating around Facebook for quite a while. I am sure most of us have watched it. I also am guestimatting that most of us have also given our dogs rawhide chews. I know I have! Until one of my dogs inhaled a huge chunk of it and then hacked it up hours later. It made me realize that a rawhide is like playing Russian Roulette with your dog. It's only a matter of time until that twisted hunk of hide becomes an obstruction in your furry friend's stomach. And let's face it, watching the above video and actually seeing how a rawhide is made is somewhat cringeworthy. GROSS.

Dogs need to chew on things. It not only cleans their teeth and is a natural way to strengthen their jaws, but it also combats boredom and relieves stress and anxiety. For puppies it also alleviates the pain that comes along with teething. Today, I have made a list of seven alternatives to a rawhide chew. I think some of them you will find somewhat surprising!

  1. (I am inserting a shamless advertisement plug in here.) KONGS We love kongs here at Bark City and we offer frozen kongs to our doggy clients! Kongs can be stuffed with hunks of meat, peanut butter, favorite treats, the list goes on and on. At Bark City, sometimes we stuff them with a mixture of cottage cheese, green beans and a protein, sometimes it's a yogurt mixture, sometimes it's an Honest Kitchen recipe... basically, whatever suits our fancy and is seasonal.
  2. Frozen Fruit and Veggies: Yep, you can give your dogs frozen apples, sweet potatoes, bananas and or carrots. Don't bother with chopping them up. Just toss the whole fruit (or veggie) in the freezer. This is a great option for summer months to keep your dog cool.
  3. Dehydrated Yams You can make these yourself if you'd like. There are a bunch of recipes out there on the world wide web. Basically, you slice up a yam and dehydrate it (or cook it on a really low temperature in your oven). There are also a lot of companies out there that make them for your convenience. 
  4. Deer antlers Deer antlers are a great alternative and last forever. They are good for aggressive chewers if you choose the right size for your dog and still monitor your aggressive chewer. Basically, you should always monitor your dog while they are gnawing away at something. 
  5. Himalayan Dog Chews What the heck are these? Basically, a Himalayan Dog Chew is a hardened hunk of cheese. These chews were born from an ancient recipe for a snack chewed by the people of the Himalayas. It is traditionally made from yak and/or cows milk. Once your dog has officially chewed it down to a 1" chunk, you can microwave it into a puffed up treat to give back to Fido! 
  6. Fish Skin Bones The name of this treat is kind of misleading if read wrong. No, you are not giving your dog fish bones. What you are giving your dog is something that looks similar to a rawhide bone, but is instead made of fish skin! We all know how good fish oil is for our precious pets! ..also...p.s... Honest Kitchen makes some dried fish skin sticks. They are called "Beam Talls".
  7. Raw knuckle bones Basically, you just go to your local butcher and ask them for dog bones. These should not be cooked, because that is what causes bones to splinter off and cause choking. These bones should be raw, hefty and will have a bit of flesh left on it. Raw butcher bones provide your dog with minerals, proteins, enzymes, and essential fatty acids. Your dog will love you forever.
Finding something your four-legged friend can chew on that isn't your shoes, furniture or door frame is a must for keeping mental health (and their teeth and jaws healthy!), but please don't give your dog a rawhide. Instead opt for one of these alternatives. If more people start turning away the rawhide, eventually companies are going to have to follow suit and make better alternatives. Plus, really...rawhides are gross.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Why Socializing Your Dog With Other Dogs Is Important

Often as dog owners, we do everything in our power to make sure our furry family member is healthy and happy. We feed them top-notch food, we exercise them physically and mentally, but in our busy lives, we often forget one important element: Letting our dog play with other dogs. In my blog posts I have often talked about the issues owners have with treating their dog like a human. Dogs are not humans, they are dogs! And the more we humanize our dogs, the more neurotic our dog becomes. In fact, dogs crave other dog interactions and when these needs are not met, we often get a depressed, stressed out canine companion. In turn, this leads to health problems, because stress and depression break down the immune system.

As a human, imagine going your whole life living with an alien species that does not speak your language. I suspect, eventually you would forget your native language or even how to be a human. You would eventually take on the behaviors of your alien family all the while fighting against your human instincts.You would be at odds.  I often think about this when I read articles about feral children. A dog, by instinct, is born knowing how to be a dog. In a natural pack, these dog behaviors in the puppy are reinforced by the mother and then by other dogs. But, we have a problem, this natural process is interrupted by humans. A human will often adopt a puppy into their human pack and thus disrupt this natural learning process! We now have a puppy that needs to learn how to be a dog AND how to properly behave around humans. As humans, we often do a good job (or a kinda good job) at training our dog how to behave around the human pack, but we often neglect the dog aspect and we get a depressed, frustrated dog. Allowing your dog to interact with other dogs in a pack setting can alleviate a lot of behavioral problems you may be experiencing with your dog. In fact, dog packs can often do it faster. Take for instance, biting too hard during play or becoming completely crazy-town all over the place. A dog interacting with other dogs, will quickly learn that if they bite too hard or act all crazy, they will lose their dog friends and being cast out of a dog pack is the ultimate punishment for a dog. Let's face it, dogs need dogs in order to be a dog, because we humans can't do it. We aren't dogs.

I know that there has been a big scare around the Gallatin Valley regarding Kennel Cough and other viruses. This has left a lot of owners worried about their dog getting sick. But, I would like to point out something Veterinary behaviorist R.K. Anderson DVM, Diplomate ACVB and ACVPM, Professor and Director Emeritus, Animal Behavior Clinic and Center to Study Human/Animal Relationships and Environments, University of Minnesota, offered to her colleagues in an open letter: "the risk of a dog dying because of infection with distemper or parvo disease is far less than the much higher risk of a dog dying (euthanasia) because of a behavior problem." This letter was written regarding puppy socialization classes and you can read the full letter if you click HERE.  We often think that the best way to keep our dog from getting sick is to keep them at home. But this is an honest mistake by loving dog parents. The key to a healthy immune system is exercise, a healthy diet including real foods, regular vet visits and mental health through enrichment puzzles and social interaction with other dogs.

For more information on this topic, you can click on these links:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Honest Kitchen-- Four Homemade Recipes For Your Dog

Recently, I wrote about how we switched our "House Kibble" to Honest Kitchen. Did you know that this dog food can be so versatile, you can make homemade recipes that your dog will slobber over? I know it may seem silly home cooking a meal for your canine companion, but studies are starting to show "that poor quality food may cause cancer to develop in dogs and cats, mainly due to a compromised immune system." (Quote comes from the first article I posted at the bottom of this blog post). I have put some useful links at the bottom of this post if you would like to start following this research. In the meantime,  here are some quick recipes you can make from home for you four-legged family member (click on the link below the picture):

 There are more recipes on the wide world of the internet. I tell ya, this food is so versatile, it lends to creative culinary explorations and opens a door to a new and innovative way to feed our pets.

As promised, here are the links to start your search on why feeding your four-legged companion REAL food may be the best (healthiest) option:

 I fed my little fur babies hamburger, plain yogurt and bone broth this morning. How about you? 💓

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Winter Care for Dogs

Winter is coming and it is time to start preparing for the COLD... which also means your dog. Certain breeds are more susceptible to cold: little dogs, short haired dogs. lean dogs (like a greyhound), puppies and older dogs. There are dogs that are "cold weather dogs". This means their fur and body is build to handle colder temperatures. BUT, even these dogs can get cold if left outside for too long or the temperature drops below zero.

How can you tell if your dog is cold? A sure sign is if they start to SHIVER. They will also hunch their back (trying to make themselves smaller!), make sounds of distress and try to go to any shelter they can find (veer towards the neighbors porch while on a walk). If the vulnerable padding on their paws starts to freeze or becomes compacted with snow, they will limp or lift one paw up at a time. Cold weather can be extremely dangerous for animals. Yes, they can get hypothermia which can lead to death. Here are some tips to keep your dog warm and safe this winter:

Winter Care

  • Don't leave your dog outside for too long. Yep, even dogs can get frost bite.
  • Be careful on ice! Just like a human, your dog can get injured on ice by slipping. If a dog is running on ice, their feet will slip and increase their risk of pulling or tearing a joint. 
  • Brush your dog regularly. A well groomed coat keeps proper insulation. 
  • Don't leave your dog in the car for hours upon end thinking they are sheltered. Temperatures can drop to freezing in a car just as they can get way too hot in the summer.
  • Feed your dog extra calories if they play a lot outside or are working dogs. Their bodies burn extra calories trying to maintain body heat in cold temperatures.
  • Towel or blow dry your dog when they come inside and are wet. BUT, also make sure they don't get too close to the fireplace or portable heater and get burned!
  • Clean your dogs paws when they come inside. The salt on the sidewalks can irritate their skin and cause their pads to crack. If their pads are cracked, apply some paw butter.
  • WATCH OUT FOR ANTIFREEZE. Dogs think this smells and tastes wonderful, but it is deadly poison for them.

What can you do if your dog absolutely loves Winter Wonderland?  You can purchase them coats and boots! There are many different kinds of dog coats (or sweaters). Some are made of wool or fleece and some are made of water resistant fabric (for the more hardcore dogs). Here is an example of a sweater:

 A sweater or coat should fit snugly and completely cover their tummy. Dogs do not have much fur on their bellies, even the cold climate dogs. Often, their bellies will rub against high snow and cause little scratches and snow burn. When you fit your dog to a sweater/ coat make sure they can walk comfortably, it's easy to get on and off and they are able to use the bathroom if need be.

As for dog boots, there are serious dog boots and fashionable ones:

 These are FASHIONABLE.... and not really all that practical. But FUN!! (and maybe you want to match your dog...)

 Boots for the more serious, outdoorsy dogs. They are kind of pricey, but they have a stronger sole and will last A LOT longer than the ones I will show next...

Your typical dog boot. They price in at about $20, but in my experience, have only lasted about one... maybe two winters. Eventually the dog's claws will start to wear out the front toe and they will rip.

If you are really crafty, I have pinned a tutorial on how to sew your own dog boots here.

Winter can be an absolutely gorgeous time of year to enjoy the outdoors, but always remember to keep yourself and your canine companion safe. Watch for signs of being overly cold and respond accordingly and you should be good to go!

Have a SAFE and wonderful Winter! 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Importance of Laying Down Turf Correctly in Doggy Daycares

Yesterday, we posted on Facebook why we shovel the snow off of our K9 grass:
 "Green Grass? With the scare of upper respiratory infection still on a lot of people's minds, I have decided to do a weekly post showing  behind the scenes of what we do to try and keep our facility as clean as possible. With the first signs of snow showing this morning, I decided my first post would be on winter yard preparation. One of the most important things we do is shovel all snow off the yards. We never let snow sit very long on our yards. The staff gets here at 6am. If the yard is not green then they are out there before we open shoveling. Why? Because as pretty as snow is it is not good for it to sit in a yard full of dogs. The turf we have was installed professionally with a drainage system underneath it so the more snow that sits on it the harder it makes it for it to drain properly which makes higher risk of bacteria. Snow also can cause the dogs to slip while running which increases chance of injury and is obviously very cold to stand on. Last, but one of the most important reasons is that it also makes it impossible to disinfect which we do all year round so we need the snow out of the way. The only yard we do not shovel is our biggest yard and that is because it does not get the traffic the other yards do. We only use that yard for a few hours a day and can shut it completely down. The dogs can have a snow day in that yard."

In the past, I have blogged about the bacteria and health risks of dog poop, what to look for in doggy daycares and why daycares should take the collars off of their dogs in the facility (links provided!). All of these are important health and safety measures. But, I have yet talked about turf in daycares. I have often seen pictures of other daycares with improperly installed turf and think OMG. Usually, these facilities just lay the turf upon the ground. This is a huge "NO" when it comes to sanitation. When turf is laid directly upon the ground without a properly installed drainage system, it becomes bacteria's best friend. Eventually, this can lead to sick Kennel Cough. So please, please, please when you are searching for the right doggy daycare for your furry family member, ask the daycares about how often they clean their turf and how it is laid upon the ground!  A good drainage system can not only help with clean-up, but it will also help prevent spores and bacteria from building up withing the synthetic grass.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Anthropomorphizing Your Dog

This morning, as I sat down to drink a cup of coffee, I read an article by K9 Magazine on whether or not it is wrong or even dangerous to treat your dog as a human. Honestly, it is the most well-round, thoughtful article I have read on the subject that brings to attention both needs of the symbiotic relationship between canines and humans. Let's face it, humans are humans and dogs are dogs. Humans are not dogs and dogs are not humans. BUT, we live together and have formed a close relationship for thousands of years. As the article states, "We share a common evolutionary history, our brains are remarkably similar, the areas of the brain controlling basic emotions such as anger, fear, joy, surprise, depression are exactly the same as are the neurotransmitters.
A lot of what we know about brain behaviour relationships in humans is based on animal research. The limbic system which controls primary emotional drives is exactly the same in all mammals." Yes, dogs do feel emotions: pain, sadness, jealousy, happiness.  But, it is a fallacy  for us humans to think that the way a dog feel these emotions is exactly the same as we feel them and that they go through the same thought process as a human. It is impossible to know EXACTLY what goes on in another organism's brain.

Often, I see humans trying to evaluate a dog's behavior through human eyes. We assume that a dog has the same ethical values as humans. And, that is where the mistakes start. Take for instance a dog's "guilty" look. Let's say you return home from work and you find your favorite slippers ripped to shreds. Your dog is cowering in the corner looking all guilty. Our immediate reaction is to think the dog "knows" what it has done wrong. Let's think outside the box-- MAYBE your dog is cowering in the corner because it senses (through smell) your frustrated emotions, but it doesn't know why. Then you take the slipper that was chewed hours ago and start disciplining the dog. Does the dog associate the chewing with why you are yelling? Probably not. All the dog knows is that you are carrying around an object that is really good for chewing and barking really angrily at them and they are scared. The best way to live a harmonious life with your dog is to start seeing them as... yes, dogs. Magnificent, wonderful dogs the way nature made them. Dogs do not see humans as other dogs. They see us as a different species from them, but they still live with us. It's a symbiotic relationship. I'm not saying it's not OK to throw your dog a birthday party or buy your dog Christmas presents. That's fun for you and the dog (maybe...depending upon the individual dog). But, you must realize that a dog does not know that it is Christmas or a birthday. It just knows it's getting some cool toys and treats that particular day. Carpe Diem! It is ok to share joy with your canine companion. BUT, we must be mindful in knowing that our reality may not match up with theirs.

The best way to live harmoniously and have a "trained" dog is to remain calm and assertive. Dog react to emotions they sense on you and act accordingly, though they may not know why you are feeling the way you feel. To have a well rounded, stable dog please remember to first and foremost provide your dog with adequate physical AND mental exercise. Next comes CALM discipline (no emotional response attached) and finally love and affection. You need to be consistent with these three things: exercise, discipline and love. Finally, you should always provide proper nutrition. 😋

For more reading:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why Does My Dog Stink?

Dogs and "smell" seem to go hand in hand, but when is your dog's smell so pungent and bad that it borders on abnormal? First, let's explain that dogs do not sweat like humans through their skin. Most of the perspiration happens through their paws. There is a tiny bit of perspiration that happens through their hair follicles, but it's limited. The main way dogs regulate their body temperature is through panting. Which is why you should avoid taking your dog on major hikes on hot, hot days! All healthy dogs may smell the same to us humans, but in fact, each dog has it's own individual smell. A dog produces it's individual scent by secreting oil through it's skin, hair and glands. So yes, your dog when healthy, will  have it's own "dog smell". But if the smell is SO BAD it borders on something died, you may want to seek out what could be causing it.

  1. Something in fact did die and your dog rolled in it. This is the most obvious conclusion. Dogs are notorious for rolling in things that don't smell good! If this happens, you will need to bath your dog and hope for the best. 
  2. Allergies often manifest as problems with the skin. Allergies are not something that can simply be ignored and do take some diligence on finding out the source of the allergy. If ignored, the skin will begin to thicken from inflammation, secondary inflammation will occur and the skin will start producing excess secretions of oil and water. Simply bathing your dog does not help. You may make the problem worse by over-bathing your dog. You need to find the root cause of the allergy and that may take a veterinarian. 
  3. Seborrhea. I am not going to go into great detail on seborrhea, because that could be a whole blog post in itself. In Layman's Terms, Seborrhea is excessive scaling and flaking of the skin. Your dog's skin could be dry and flaky or oily and greasy. There are two forms of seborrhea, primary and secondary. Primary seborrhea can be breed specific and start at an early age with no underlying disease. Secondary seborrhea is caused by an underlying problem: disease, hormonal changes, allergies, infections, poor diet, obesity, environmental factors, ect. If you suspect your dog has seborrhea, it's best to get a Vet for help in determining the cause.
  4. Yeast has a very distinct smell. It is often compared to corn chips and manifests in the paws and ears. You will also see your dog excessively scooting around on their butt. If you suspect  the smell is yeast, the first thing you should do is examine what kind of food your dog is eating. Is it high in carbs? Yeast thrives on carbs. You will also need to clean the paws, ears and have your dog's scent glands cleaned regularly until the yeast is cleared up. If it persists, it may be time to visit a vet. 
  5. Infected ears. Is your dog scratching it's ears and shaking it's head a lot? Chances are, Fido has an ear infection. It could be bacterial. If so, you will need to clean your dog's ears until the infection is cleared. Sometimes, medicated ear ointment from your vet is needed. 
  6. Flatulence. Of course this will make your dog stink! This will make the whole room stink! If your dog has bad flatulence, chances are that it is dietary or there is an intestinal problem going on. First thing comes first, change to a higher quality diet. 
  7. Bad Breath is most of the time caused by built up odor producing bacteria in the mouth that can be caused by tartar or something like an abscess. Sometimes it can also stem from an underlying problem in the gastrointestinal tract, liver or kidneys. The first thing to examine is whether or not you are giving your dog adequate dental care through regular cleanings. If not, it may be time to start! If you are on par with the cleanings, it may be time to have a Veterinarian examine your dog for an underlying problem. 
For more information on stinky dogs, please visit these sites:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Depressed

Dogs can suffer from depression, just like humans. But, dogs do not speak human. They speak dog and sometimes it's hard for us humans to figure out what they are saying. Here are 10 signs that your dog might be depressed. Please keep in mind that just because your dog may be exhibiting one of these signs, it does not necessarily mean they are depressed. A lot of these signs could also mean they are injured or sick. Bottom line, it's best to know your dog's personal language. Pay attention to how they communicate on a day to day basis in order to understand when your dog is acting out of the ordinary.

  1. Change in Behavior: This is the most basic sign. Is your dog acting out of the ordinary? Have they lost interest in things that used to excite them? Example: Walks, favorite food, no longer greeting you at the door. The first thing to do is check out the environment. Have you had a new life change (new baby, a big move, ect..)? Sometimes, a dog will sense your own mood and act accordingly. It may be time to do your own self-reflection on whether you are in fact sad or stressed out. This could be causing your dog to feel the same way. Remember, that dogs are pack animals and if their leader is feeling sad or stressed, you canine will feel the same way. Though, they won't know why. They just know something is wrong with their leader. 
  2. Sleeping Pattern Changes: Usually a dog's sleeping patterns will fall in line with their human companion's. If you are noticing that you dog is particularly lethargic, they may be sad about something. BUT, they could also be sick or injured. Again, first check the environment for major changes. Next, take them to the vet to be reassured they are not sick. 
  3. Pacing: Pacing is a repetitive, back and forth frantic walk in a path. If you dog is pacing, it could mean a myriad of emotions: boredom, frustration, agitation or they could be excited about something fun that is about to happen! Pacing can also mean illness or injury. An injured or sick dog may pace because they cannot get in a comfortable resting position. They are basically trying to wear themselves out to rest. Again, know your dog's normal day to day routine and language and check the environment for any new change.
  4. Body Language: This is again assuming you know your dog's individual language. Some dogs are naturally timid and shy. Other dogs are more confident and boisterous. Some common body language signs that your dog is feeling sad are the eyes and the "passive stance". Generally, if a dog is avoiding eye contact, something is wrong. It does not necessarily mean that the eye contact has to be with you. It could mean that when you throw their favorite toy across the room, they refuse to look at it. Another common sign is a passive stance: walking or standing with their tail between their legs and head low. Sadness does not necessarily mean they are depressed. It could be just a temporary fleeting feeling they are feeling at that particular moment. 
  5. Eating Habits: Has your dog's eating habits changed? Like humans, a dog can suddenly start eating more or less when they are depressed. Ideally, your dog should have scheduled feeding times. This allows you better monitor their health and notice any eating changes. Keep in mind, they may just be bored with their food and it's time for a switch up. If your dog is more of a free range feeder, you will need to weigh them on a regular basis to make sure they are not gaining or losing weight too quickly.
  6. Aggression: This is more of a serious one. If your dog is showing signs of aggression, please take them to the vet to make sure they are not ill or injured. Period. 
  7. Excessive Licking: (especially the paws!) Some dogs will exhibit and obsessive compulsion to lick themselves when something is bothering them. You must first check to make sure that they are not injured, have a skin irritation or allergy. If not, it could be an emotional response. 
  8. Destructive Behavior: First, I must clarify. If you have a puppy, it's going to be destructive and it's your job to teach them boundaries. But, if you have a dog that was once calm and collective suddenly chewing up things, chances are something is wrong. They could be bored, mad, frustrated or depressed. First make sure that they are getting adequate mental and physical exercise. Next, check for major changes in the environment. It could be something as "silly" as a new smell in the house! If all of this has been addressed, you may need to seek a vet. 
  9. Excessive Shedding: When I say "excessive shedding", I'm not talking about the day to day shedding of your dog. Dog's shed. Period. What you will be looking for is thin, bald spots of hair missing on your dog. If this is happening, please take your dog to the vet. Chances are, it's a health issue. But, it could also be an emotional reaction. 
  10. Avoidance or Hiding: If your dog seems to be hiding in a corner or avoiding you or other family members, something is wrong. Again, it could be a major environmental change, it could be weather (like a thunderstorm) or it could be health related and need a vet's diagnosis.
Bottom line, the best way to tell if something is wrong with your dog is to pay attention to them everyday. Get to know your dog: What your dog likes, dislikes and how they communicate. If you do notice something is "out of the ordinary" with your dog, don't panic. First, assess the environment and try to decide if it is indeed emotional or if it's physical. Always consult your veterinarian, because even emotional issues may sometimes need a doctor's care. 💗

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The New House "Kibble" --Honest Kitchen

  We've switched things up a bit here at Bark City and are super excited about it! Our new house "kibble" will be Honest Kitchen which isn't kibble at all! It's a dehydrated, human-grade pet food. Yep, Honest Kitchen even has a guy named Jerry taste testing batches of their food at their facility (not a job I would want, but I do give Jerry a hardy pat on the back and a gold star.)

So why Honest Kitchen? Cooked foods have never been part of the canine diet. Cooked, processed  dog food was first introduced about 80-yrs ago in response to the high cost of meat during the Great Depression and was heavily promoted at the end of WWII. The cooking process of kibble significantly decreases the nutritional value of the food. It's proteins become denatured, enzymes are rendered inactive and the natural microflora are no longer available. Manufacturers then try to add back the lost nutrients with synthetic vitamins and mineral so they can put that label on the bag that says "Complete and Balanced". The problem with that is that our pets cannot completely utilize the synthetic vitamins and minerals. What the body does not process, gets passed through and causes a lot of strain and stress on the body. Over time, this stress adds up. A once happy, silky coat puppy eventually becomes an adult dog with a myriad of health concerns ranging from food allergies, weight problems, ear infections, dental infections, gastrointestinal problems and Kidney/ Liver diseases. The vet bill adds up and you have a miserable pup.

If you would like to read more about how food impacts your pup's lively hood, here are a couple of good links to get you started:
 I'll be "Honest" (pun intended!) When you look at that itty-bitty box of Honest Kitchen Pet food and the price compared to a big, bulky bag of kibble, you kind of shirk back for a moment. Keep in mind, that this box is dehydrated food. It's lighter and does not contain the water weight of real food (that gets added in when you prepare it!). But, you will find that in contrast to kibble, you will be feeding your pup a lot less food because they will be absorbing more nutrients! Most kibble consumption gets passed right through your dog and ends up on the lawn. This equals you wasting money. You are literally flushing your money down the toilet... only there is no toilet. Once you switch your dog to a whole food diet, you will notice that your pooper scooper duty becomes less frequent and your dog becomes a unicorn. 😃

I'm not going to lie, probably the best diet for your pup is a raw, home-made food. But, for many this is not really feasible. It requires a lot of training and TIME. Honest Kitchen is the "real food" for the busy person. The low temperature dehydration process helps retain the food's natural nutrients. It is versatile and allows you to mix in whole foods with the dehydrated, so you know your pup is getting quality nutrition and your money will not be wasted on poop and vet bills.

When you welcome a dog into your life, you are becoming responsible to a companion that is unconditionally loyal to you. The dog owner therefore becomes responsible to giving their four-legged family member a diet that they can thrive and to give the best opportunity for a long, healthy life. Even if you don't choose Honest Kitchen, do your research on finding the best food possible for you canine companion.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Puppy Biting 101

You just brought home a bundle of fuzziness that slept all day, but now this furball is running around, nipping, jumping and biting. OUCH! As a human, our first reaction is to think that this puppy is naughty and going to become an aggressive dog if we don't do something....and fast! Although, yes, biting needs to be dealt with, it does not necessarily mean you have a "bad apple". It means your puppy is in fact a canine. Puppies bite for a number of reasons: They could be teething and the biting action is relieving the itchiness of their teeth coming in. They are also learning how to play. If you watch puppies at a young age play in a pack, they bite. As they get older and their litter mates teach them that biting hurts through a yelp or cry, a puppy soon learns to be gentle. Puppies will also bite to get your attention, and it works! On the flip side, a puppy may bite if they are sick, hurt or just not socialized correctly. It is extremely important to pay attention to your puppy's language to know why they are biting and proceed with the correct course of action.

The First 4 Steps
  1. Proper Socialization: Before you even bring home a puppy, you should do your research to make sure your puppy is getting socialization through the breeder or shelter and is not isolated. This is a big must. Most of a puppy's learning comes from the first few months and what they learn becomes ingrained into their behavior. That's not to say that your puppy is a lost cause if he/she has not been properly socialized. It just means that you will have to work a bit harder in training with patience on your side. Once you bring puppy home, it is important to maintain that socialization by giving puppy playgroups with other puppies as well as humans that are patient and have experience with puppies. 
  2. The Overstimulated Puppy: An over stimulated puppy will become Jaws on Paws. Think of what a human toddler does when tired and overstimulated-- They melt down into a temper tantrum. A puppy does the same thing, but instead they use their teeth. If you recognize that your puppy is overstimulated, please put them in their kennel in a quiet area to rest. Puppies need rest!
  3. Visitors at the Door: If you have a puppy that likes to greet all visitors at the door with jumps and nips, one good way to try to ward off all the love is to place a box of toys outside the door with a little sign that says something like "Puppy in Training! Please help and give Fido a toy when you come in the door". This toy will help keep your puppy's mouth busy on the toy instead of the person. Plus, the sign will warn all upcoming visitors to remain calm upon entering the door and that, yes, you are trying.
  4. Exercise! Giving your puppy proper exercise (mental and physical) in combination with adequate rest, will help puppy not have to release their energy through their teeth. 
How to Handle a Biting Puppy
 If you are playing with your puppy and he/she starts to bite, the first thing to do is STOP. If your hand is in your puppy's mouth, do not try to pull it out. Instead, give a little yelp like "OUCH!",  pause and wait for your puppy to release.  If you try to pull, your puppy will most likely think your are trying to engage in a tug-of-war game and your hand is the object. This equals a not-so-good scenario. Once your puppy has released it's bite, walk away and ignore your puppy. If your puppy continues to trail behind you biting, put he/she in the crate for a time out. Eventually, your puppy will learn that biting does not = playing. Puppies are social animals. Social exile is not something they like. 😢 Always remember to praise, praise, praise your puppy when they are playing gentle!

If you have children in the house, it is especially important to train your children. Make sure you are very strict and consistent about how your children play with puppy. Children need to recognize an over stimulated puppy and take measures to let puppy rest instead of overstimulating the puppy more. Never let your children play aggressively with a puppy and they should not be the object of "chase".... Letting puppy chase the children around the yard, nipping at their butts, ect... This game is a really good way for a child to get bit or knocked down and bit once the puppy is bigger. It's a game that can escalate really quickly and go down hill fast. If your puppy is chasing your children, tell your children to stop running and stop the game. Period.

In closing, the most important thing to remember is that a biting puppy is learning. It is up to us to make sure they are learning the right way and getting socialized with other puppies. Never yell or hit your puppy, but instead use praise and gentleness to teach a puppy the correct behavior.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

6 Must-Haves for the Dog Parent

We started this blog 4-years ago and since then I have been posting quite a bit on Canine health. It's a lot of information! This week, I decided I would consolidate some of the information into 6 "must-haves" for every dog parent. These are things that you should have in your pantry that can help not only your dog, but you as well. It's a win-win situation when two-legged family members and four-legged can share the same health benefits of a product! I have numbered them, but the list is not in numerical importance. Plus, I will have each item connected to a link. This link will give you more information on that specific item if you would like to learn more. Some of these items have a whole plethora of health benefits!

Here they are:
  1. Organic Raw Honey can help with wound recovery, digestions, immune support, allergies and skin issues. Plus it tastes really good and has an abundance of vitamins, minerals, is anti-microbial, anti-fungal.... you get the point.
  2. Aloe Vera: I don't have a link to this product, but I should! When I talk about Aloe Vera, I'm not talking about the bright green (or blue) stuff that comes from Walgreens. I'm talking about the plant. The stuff that is 100% pure. You can use the inner gel of this plant to help relieve skin irritations or cuts. A tiny bit of Aloe Juice can also help relieve constipation when ingested.
  3. Lavender Essential Oil: Before applying essential oils, they should always be diluted accordingly... and even more diluted for canines. Essential oils should also be canine safe and therapeutic grade. Some oils that can be used on humans cannot be used on dogs. Lavender oil is generally regarded as one of the super safe oils and can be diffused or applied topically to calm a nervous dog. To apply topically, dilute accordingly and massage behind the dog's neck and ears. You can concoct your own linen spray to spray down your dog's bedding (or bandana). Last, use lavender oil as a flea repellent by mixing vinegar, water and a couple drops of lavender. Spray on your dog before going outside.
  4. Stinging Nettle: Unless you are crazy like me and grow your own stinging nettles, it's best to just buy the tea at your local natural grocer. Or buy online. Harvesting stinging nettles can be quite tricky. BUT, stinging nettles is considered one of the "super foods" that is jam packed full of nutrients and has a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory. Used as a rinse, it can help with itchy, dry skin and bug bites.
  5. Coconut Oil is again, one of those use for anything and everything products. It can help with digestion, oral health, balance insulin, immune support, promote a healthy skin and coat... the list goes on and on. 
  6. Apple Cider Vinegar can be used for cooling hot spots and rashes, it repels fleas and ticks, promotes a healthy circulation, can be used as a natural ear cleaner, supports a healthy urinary tract and digestion. 
Always remember to do your research on the proper way to use these products and don't over do it! A little goes a long way in canine (and human) health. Moderation is key. Having these products on hand and promoting a healthy diet with exercise is a great way to minimize the trips to the vet and keep your furry friend healthy and happy. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Kennel Cough

It seems that an outbreak of Kennel Cough has hit the Bozeman, MT area and has dog owners (and daycares) in quite the panic. Kennel cough is often called "Bordetalla" after the bacteria Bordetalla bronciseptica, which dogs can get vaccinated. BUT Kennel Cough, aka infectious tracheobronchitis, is actually a term for an infection in the trachea and bronchial tubes that can be caused by bacteria or virus. This infection is highly contagious and has an incubation period of about 5-10 days after exposure. It usually diminishes after the first 5 days, but can linger for up to 10-20 days. Infected dogs can remain contagious for up to 14 weeks even after symptoms disappear. The classic symptom of Kennel Cough is a forceful, persistent cough. Infected dogs may also exhibit sneezing, runny nose and eye discharge.

Luckily, here at Bark City, we have not had any cases of Kennel Cough in our daycare. We would like to keep it that way! In order to try our very best, we have taken the following measures:

1) Our facility is set up with 3 different air circulation systems (one for the standard side, one for the enrichment program, and one for the training room). We will not be letting dogs from the two different programs mix (standard will just stay with standard, enrichment will stay on that side and the training room we will be using as a quarantine room for possible coughing. Since this is an air born virus hopefully this will help eliminate the possibility of it spreading.
2) If your dog coughs even just once, your dog will be pulled out and put in the training room. You will be called and asked to please pick up your dog. Boarders, if no one is available to pick up your dog, they will stay in that room (and of course given potty breaks) for at least 24hrs. If they cough more than once they will need to see a vet and will need to stay in quarantine for the remainder of their stay.
3) We do spray down and disinfect all of our yards twice a day and disinfect all indoor space daily.
4) We will be offering complementary coconut oil or goats milk to all boarders if the owners wish. These two things  help support the immune system. We also sell these products and are adding a Bone Broth mix onto our shelves if you would like to purchase and take home with you. 😊

5) We are diffusing a mixture of Canine safe essential oils that are known to help support the respiratory tract.
6) Employees will be disinfecting hands and feet if dealing with a coughing dog before handling another dog.

What you can do:
1) If your dog coughs (even just once) please keep it away from all dogs for at least 24hrs to make sure it doesn't turn into something more.
2) If your dogs develops a cough call your vet asap and follow their instructions.
3) Stay away from all dog parks and dog populated areas that you are not sure if there has been a coughing dog there or not.
4) Call and report any coughing to us or the facility your dog stayed at so they can watch the other dogs in their care.
5) Let us know if your dog stayed at another facility so we know if it has been exposed to the virus or not.

Please remember, boarding and daycare facilities are not the only place that your dog can get a virus (neighbor dogs, friends dogs, dog walking on the street, dog parks, pet sitters, hiking trails ect). If your dog gets sick, keep them away from all dogs for at least 10 days after the last symptom showed and contact your vet to get the official "OK" before socializing your dog with other canines. For more information, you can follow the below links:

Monday, July 3, 2017

How Much Sleep Does a Puppy Need?

So you got a new puppy and for most of the day this little fur ball is the cutest thing in the world. But during particular times of day, your little wiggly butt turns into a beast of incessant barking and biting. Let's face it, those puppy teeth HURT. So what's up with that? Chances are, your puppy is tired and overstimulated. Puppies need A LOT of sleep, and I mean A LOT. Dog's sleep more than humans (lucky them), but a puppy needs more sleep than most people think. The younger the puppy, the more sleep they will need. A newborn puppy will sleep about 22 hours a day and use the rest of it's time for things like nursing. At 3-months, your puppy will need about 15-20 hours of sleep a day. This sleep is crucial for body development. Things like: building muscle, brain development and improving the immune system. If your puppy does not get enough sleep, you get a cranky, destructive teeth chomper that is at risk for infections and illness. NOT GOOD.

The problem is that, like human toddlers, puppy toddlers don't necessarily know when they should sleep. They want to play, play, play! It's your job, as the canine parent, to teach your puppy the appropriate sleep patterns.

How To Help Puppy Sleep:
  • Create a sleep friendly environment: A dog can hear 4x's the distance of a human and has 125-300 million scent glands compared to a human's measly 5 million. Nap time for a puppy should be quiet and dark with minimal noise. This may mean having puppy in a separate room from all the other household activity. Adjusting the light and noise is critical to making sure your puppy is getting good sleep.
  • Give your puppy new experiences, but allow them to process those experiences afterward: Taking your puppy to the park or downtown is great for proper socialization skills. But again, remember that a dog's senses are much different from our own. What you may consider a mundane walk through the neighborhood is an overwhelming amount of smells and noises to your puppy. Give your puppy new experiences, but give them time to sleep and process afterward.
  • Exercise: It's always good to provide your dog with daily exercise. An under exercised dog will become frustrated and find not-so-good ways to express this frustration. But, on the flip side, an over exercised puppy will become cranky. It's the body's way of saying "Hey! I need sleep!"
  • How to Handle a Cranky Puppy: If you find yourself in a situation where your puppy is barking, biting and overall just being a little terror. Don't just toss them in the crate and call it good.  Remember, a puppy might not realize he/she is tired! You must first find a way to calm your puppy and then put them in "the sleep zone". A crate should be a positive experience and should not be used for "punishment". If you are frustrated with your over-tired little fur ball, they will sense that frustration. Tossing them in the crate while frustrated will cause them to associate their crate to a negative feeling.  
 There are times when you should worry that your puppy is getting too much sleep and something might be wrong. Puppies, like human children, will sleep more during growth spurts, but if your puppy has low energy while awake, you may want to take them to the vet. Your puppy may be anemic or have an internal parasite. Anemia can be caused by things like a flea infestation and a flea infestation can lead to internal parasites like tape worms.

For more about sleep and dogs, please visit these other posts by Bark City:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Canine Distemper and Rabies

Last week, I posted a link on Facebook about two Colorado dogs being tested positive for Rabies. This raises the questions: What is distemper? What is rabies? Is there a difference or are they the same thing?

Here I have broken it down for you in Layman's terms:

Please note: I did not put ALL the symptoms for rabies on my list. There are two different phases of rabies: Furious and Paralytic. The names pretty much describe the symptoms, both result in death.
PRE-EXPOSURE VACCINATION is the only thing that will protect your dog from rabies and distemper. If you think you (or your dog) have been bitten by a rabid animal, wash the wound with soap and water for about 15 minutes immediately. The Rabies virus is very fragile and will most likely be killed by the soap and water before it travels through your body to the brain. BUT, you still need to call your local doctor/ veterinarian for post-bite treatment and protocol.  You don't want to mess around and take chances. There is a Post-bite vaccination for humans, but not for domestic animals. If your dog is not vaccinated, he/she will have to be placed in quarantine for approx. 6 months and normal vaccination protocol will be administered. If your dog shows signs for rabies, euthanization will take place. A diagnostic test for rabies involves taking tissue samples of the brain from at least two locations and requires the animal to be euthanized. Distemper cannot be transmitted to humans. There are two types of distemper: Feline and Canine. Canine distemper cannot be passed to felines and vice versa. Rabies on the other hand, can be passed to any animal including humans.   


World Health Organization:

Pet, Rabies in Dogs: Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and vaccination:

Pet Poison Helpline, Distemper and Rabies:, YouTube video series:

Remedy's Health Communities, Rabies: Signs and Symptoms: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Caring for Client Animals with Potential Exposure:

Monday, May 15, 2017

How To Stop Your Dog From Barking in Four (patient) Steps

Whether it's the mailman, the neighbor walking his dog by your fence or a deer in your back yard, excessive dog barking can bring anyone down to their knees in frustration. Here are four steps you can take to bring a little peace and quiet into your home:

  1. Make sure your dog is exercised. A lot of doggy mischief can be avoided by simply making sure your dog is properly exercised, mentally and physically. When your dog has extra energy, he needs to find an avenue to release it. He's bored! This results in behaviors we owners may not find endearing. By making sure your dog is getting physical and mental exercise everyday, you are releasing that pent up energy and helping your furry friend live a balanced life. 
  2.  Stay Calm. You are not helping the situation by yelling "STOOOOPPPP!!!!" or "KNOCK IT OFF!". Remember, dogs do not speak human. If you are yelling at them, all they hear is you barking along with them. They think everyone is joining in on the fun! Instead, you can...
  3. Teach them the "Quiet Command". The first steps of this training seem quite counter intuitive, but trust me, with some patience you will see where I am going with it: Step 1- When your dog barks, praise him and use the verbal cue "bark" as you give him a treat. This will allow him to start to associate the word "bark" with the action of barking. Step 2- When your dog stops barking, give him a different treat with the vocal cue "quiet". This will get him to associate the word "quiet" with the action of not barking. Step 3- Train, train, train with a lot of patience. Repetition is key. Training does not happen over night and takes a lot of diligence and patience. Only train your dog for about 15 minutes a day in 5 minute sessions. Otherwise, you risk over saturating your dog and stressing them out. Once the behavior is learned, practice it weekly in order to maintain the behavior. 
  4.  Desensitize your dog to whatever it is that is making him bark. For example, if it is the mailman, sit with your dog everyday the mailman comes and practice the quiet command while redirecting your dog to an incompatible behavior like laying on his bed or going to his kennel. 
You will notice that I didn't put in here to "remove the stimulus". Some people recommend doing things like closing the shades when people are walking by (if your dog barks at that) or bringing your dog inside if your dog barks at people walking by. I don't think that really helps all that much, because you are basically avoiding the situation instead of teaching your dog a positive behavior to associate with the situation. Plus, seriously, who wants to live their whole life with the shades down because you are afraid someone is going to walk by and your dog will start barking. That is giving your dog way too much control of the situation and leaving you kind of helpless. Instead, work with the situation. If your dog is barking at the walkers going by, sit there with your dog practicing the "quiet" command with an incompatible behavior. Or rally up your friends to purposely walk by so you can practice. It takes a lot of patience and diligence to have a furry friend in your family, but it also brings a lot of joy. Raising a canine companion will bring out a lot of positive traits in yourself that you had no idea you could foster. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sunscreen for Canines

Summer is right around the corner and soon it will be time to slather ourselves in sunscreen and hope for the best. Did you know that dogs are just as much at risk for sunburn as humans? Dogs at the highest risk for sunburn are light skinned dogs, dogs with short hair, with little to no hair and dogs that spend a lot of time in the water (or soaking up the sun rays). In addition, a dog's nose, ears and underside are the most at risk for getting sunburned. Like humans, genetics and diet play a role in the susceptibility to sunburn. Some dogs are just more sensitive to the damaging effects of the sun. A lot of caring dog owners will use sunscreen on their dogs, but they should never use commercial sunscreen made for humans. Human sunscreen has a whole list of ingredients that are toxic to canines, including zinc oxide. Dogs lick themselves all the time and end up ingesting the toxic components of the sunscreen. For a list of toxic elements, please visit this website--> click here.  

There are ways a dog owner can protect their furry friend through diet and natural oils, though! A diet with foods rich in Lycopene is our first measure of sun safety. Lycopene is a phytonutrient and antioxidant that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables and can offer a small bit of natural sunscreen when ingested. We cannot soley rely on just Lycopene rich vegetables for sun protection because when ingested, only a small part of the lycopene is absorbed into the skin. A dog owner can increase the absorption by also pairing the fruit/vegetable with a good source of fat, such as: Coconut oil, fish oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil and Flax oil.

When adding fruits and vegetable to a dog's diet, the owner should always remember the proper proportions for a canine: 56% to 60% protein, 25% to 30% fat and 11% to 14% appropriate carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables) to ensure optimal health. In addition, the pits in fruits and vegetables (example: apricot and mangoes) should always be removed before feeding to your furry friend. Pits can cause intestinal obstructions that often end up either really costly or deadly. 

The second measure to sun safety is to select an oil that has a natural SPF in it and use it instead of commercial sunscreen. These oils are (and I've included the SPF number alongside):

  • Carrot Seed (30-38 SPF) which is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. It also has healing properties for skin issues. The only downside is that it has a slight orange tinge. Dog's with light hair may take on a carrot like hue from the oil dying the fur. 😋
  • Red Raspberry Seed Oil (30-50 SPF) has an excellent level of Vitamin E for dogs with dry, irritated and inflamed skin. 
Notice the range in SPF per oil? This is because mother nature is never exact and levels of SPF will vary depending upon the plant, where it is grown and when it is harvested. 
You can also add essential oils to the above oils to add healing benefits. But, you should never add citrus essential oils! These are phototoxic and will cause burns! Lavender Essential oil has healing properties as well as a natural SPF of 6%.  Always remember to dilute essential oils to a safe dog dilution (not human) and do not use on puppies less than 8 weeks old. In addition, make sure your oils are therapeutic grade! For more information on essential oil safety for canines, visit this link--> click here

Finally, I am providing you a recipe to make your own dog friendly sunscreen! All the oils listed will also have their approximate naturally occurring SPF next to the name.

1/4 cup coconut oil (2-8 SPF)
1/4 cup Shea butter (2-8 SPF)
1/8 cup Wheat Germ Oil (or hazelnut oil) (15 SPF)
2 TBS of beeswax
1 Tsp of Red Raspberry Seed Oil (30-50 SPF)
1 Tsp of Carrot seed oil (30-38 SPF)
6 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (Optional) (6%)

Directions: Melt all the oils, except the Lavender Essential Oil, together on low in a sauce pan. Be sure not to over heat and bring to a boil. Once everything is melted, pour into a mason jar and add the essential oil and gently stir with a non-metal spoon. Allow to cool to a hardened state. That's it! 

Additional links to get you started on your own research: