Territorial Urination and How to Curb It

Dogs are territorial and like to protect, establish, and mark what is theirs. Territorial marking is different than just peeing. While it can be a big puddle, sometimes it’s nothing more than a few drops around the house. It’s not spiteful though, it’s a sign of insecurity. If a dog senses that the area is “under siege” by another person or animal inside the house, or even outside in some cases, marking is a way to claim and reclaim the area.

Territoriality is not always a bad thing, but it is definitely bad for your home, because it involves urination around things or places that “belong” to the dog.

If you haven’t done it yet, spaying or neutering your dog can curb territorial marking. It can also extend your dog’s life, improve other aspects of their health, and cut down on problems with other dogs. According to a report from the Humane Society, spaying or neutering your pet may help reduce likelihood that they will mark their territory, but it does not completely stop it.

Another tip to try is to make sure your dog is reintroduced to the new dog or person in a way that no longer makes your dog feel insecure. Chances are your dog feels like the new person or animal is taking over. Best way to start over is to introduce them outside of the house, take a walk with your dog and the new dog or person. If it’s another dog, it’s good to make sure your dog’s things like the bed, bowls, and leashes are “only his/hers” and the new dog has a different set. Feed your dog first to establish a hierarchy and when giving out treats and such, your dog gets it first.

Dogs thrive with rules, boundaries and limitations. It is not a good idea to allow your dog to roam all over the house, sit on furniture, eat from the table, or engage in any other type of disruptive behavior. Although your dog is your companion, it is a follower in your pack, not a leader. You can reduce territorial marking by asserting yourself as the pack leader by using calm but assertive energy. Ask your dog to sit before meal times, before going outside, and walk your dog to drain some pent up energy.

If the problem persists, you may want to reach out to trainer or your vet and see what advice they have to help your dog stop marking.

5 ways to stay calm when training your dog

One of the most important things when raising your pup is to make sure you are calm and keep the training sessions on track. It’s hard. Puppies have an attention span of about 10 seconds before they go do something else that is more fun to them. Sometimes they can learn how to sit and stay but can’t figure out how to not pee in their crate. It can drive any owner nuts. But staying calm and reinforcing good behavior and deterring bad behavior is the best way to ensure you have a well-behaved dog.

5 Ways to Stay Calm

  1. Relax, take a breathe – your dog is not doing any of the bad things on purpose. She might be bored, might not understand what you’re asking her to do. Make sure you fulfill her needs and take her out, play with her, and keep her on a schedule of potty breaks. Be the leader and make sure her energy is drained with play, exercise, and stimulating training sessions. A bored dog can become a destructive dog. When you leave for work or can’t watch her and crate her, give her a toy stuffed with treats or something to keep her occupied for a little bit. All this helps her stay calm and happy and you too!
  2. Check yourself – Sometimes your dog’s energy is a reflection of your own. If your dog is not calm, it could be because you’re not. If your dog barks like crazy at other dogs or seems weary, it might be because you have nervous energy too. If your dog refuses to walk with you, tries to pull, it could be because you’re frustrated. Check your own mood, try to focus on the walk, focus on the energy you’re emitting, and project a calmer attitude. Chances are your dog will act calmer too.
  3. Live in the moment – you’ve heard that many times I’m sure. Staying present is not easy. We worry about bills, what is for dinner, what happened at work, we think about everything and nothing at once. But if you can redirect yourself to focus on the moment, you can be present and be calmer. When walking your dog, walk. Look at where you are stepping, look around you, watch your dog, and praise her when she walks nicely with you. When training, put down your phone, focus on the training session. Be right there. If you do this with your dog, you may find yourself doing it in other parts of your life. It’s a practice. It takes time. But it can be rewarding in many ways.
  4. Go take a walk in a park – a change of scenery can calm you down. A walk through a park is a good way to get a little piece of nature. Leave the phone at home. Walk with your dog through a park, smell the different scents of trees and flowers, and listen to the birds, water if there is a stream, and look around. Watch how your dog wants to explore everything in parks. Let her dog some sniffing and let her have some fun. When it’s time to walk, make sure she knows you’re taking charge and lead her on a brisk walk around the park. Then let her be rewarded by sniffing and checking things out at her leisure. It’s a give and take. She’ll understand when she can be a “dog” and when she is meant to follow you.
  5. Remember things take time – training takes time. No dog is perfect. Keep this in mind. Focus on the small successes and work towards the bigger goals. It’ll remind you that your dog is learning and getting smarter each day. And most of all, it helps you stay calm and not get frustrated when she has an accident or still has a habit of trying to get into the garbage. You’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t when you’re calmer and able to focus.

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Watch For Lyme Disease

Warmer weather means the parasites are out and about looking for hosts. Ticks can be troublesome, especially if you hike and camp or live in a rural area. Tick borne diseases like Lyme Disease can cause your pet extreme discomfort. Lyme Disease is an infection caused by bacteria and it is spread by the bite of the tick.

Signs of Lyme Disease

Look for a loss of appetite, leg lameness that moves from leg to leg, joint swelling, lack of energy, and fever. In some cases, your pet may also experience kidney problems. If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a tick and might have Lyme Disease, make a trip to the vet as soon as possible.

Pets are treated with antibiotics to combat Lyme Disease.

However, prevention is always the best idea. So, make sure to treat your pets with flea and tick preventative medicine on a regular basis and after a good hike, check the fur for any unwanted strangers who hitched a ride back to your house.

Image from DogsandTicks.com

5 Tips To Keep Pets Safe This Summer

Sunnier days means more time outside. For our pets that can mean they are susceptible to problems that aren’t around during the cooler months. Skin and ear infections rise during the summer and it’s important we do what we can to keep our buddies safe.

5 Tips For Summer

  1. Protect their skin – skin cancer is common among dogs and cats. Even though the fur they have helps protect them, there are areas where their skin is exposed to the sun. Hairless pets are even more susceptible to sunburns. Use a pet specific sunscreen and apply it to the belly, tips of ears, and on your hairless pets, on their backs and legs. Talk to your vet if you want to know what kind and brand are safest.
  2. Hot pavement hurts – when the sun is beating down on the concrete and pavement, it can get so hot that it can burn your pet’s paws. Walk your dog when it’s not as hot such as early in the mornings and evenings.
  3. Indoor temperature – the house can get really hot while you’re out at work. If you have central air you may want to set the temp to keep the house cool for your pet. You can also draw the blinds on the windows to keep the sun from heating up the house.
  4. Playing in water – get your dog a lifejacket when going out on boats and if you two go swimming, keep a close watch on your pet. Sinkholes in lakes may scare your dog as she walks and cause her to panic. Don’t let her drink the water and remember to bathe her and brush her after a day out playing in water to remove algae, dirt, and other debris. To avoid swimmer’s ear, use a canine ear-drying solution.
  5. Don’t forget the parasite preventatives – hookworms, heart worms, fleas, ticks, roundworms, and many other gross parasites need to be kept at bay. Stay on top of administering the preventatives that your vet recommends on your pets.

What else do you do during the summer to protect your pet?
Share your tips with us!

Image from AddisonMagazine

Teach Your Dog To Come When Called

One of the best tricks to teach your dog is to come back to you when you’re out and about. Imagine your dog slips her collar and runs, stops, and then looks at you – known that she will come back when called will cut down on panic that she’ll keep running or think it’s a game. As you teach your dog basic commands like sit, stay, and down, make sure you teach come too.

2 Ways To Teach Your Dog To Come

Tip 1:
Practice this when you’re in the house
Step 1: put a leash on your dog
Step 2: hold the other end of the leash and say “come” then move backward
Step 3: keep moving backward as your dog walks to you
Step 4: stop and then reward your dog with praise and her favorite treat
This method teaches her to come to you and keep walking to you… like following you. You’ll spend a few times trying to show your dog what you mean but it won’t take long since you are doing it in the house where the distractions are minimized. If your dog also comes to her name, call her name and say come to get her attention and then teach her to follow.

Tip 2:
When tip 1 is under your belt, you’re ready for tip 2 – which is trying this out outside. If you have a backyard, start there, if not, get a leash that’s about 20ft. The long leash makes it easy to hold onto your dog if she gets distracted and walks away.
Step 1: let your dog walk away from you while you hold the leash
Step 2: get your dog’s attention by calling her name and talking in an excited voice
Step 3: back up to get the full 20ft length of the leash extended between both of you
Step 4: encourage your dog to come to you by acting excited and happy, and say come!
Step 5: when your dog starts to run or trot towards you, say, “yes!”
Step 6: when she catches up to you, reward her with praise and a treat

Try this a few times and if you visit dog parks, try it off leash. As your dog learns to come when called, make the game a little more difficult by increasing distance. Continue reinforcing this command in the house too.

Have you trained your dog to come? What did you do?
Let us know!

Image from Dogbreedsifo.org

July 4th Tips for Pets to Keep Them Safe & Happy

Dogs are sensitive to their environment and anything that seems out of the ordinary can startle them. Noises like a motorcycle revving or a big boom from an empty truck hitting a pothole can make them jump. It can also make us jump. Fireworks tend to make many animals nervous and dogs that are easily startled by noises can become unconsolable on the 4th of July. The holiday is already defying the typical routine you have established in the house, it’s a day off, people may come over, grilling in the yard, kids running with sparklers, and lots of bustling can make your dog wonder what’s going on. Like any holiday, there’s changes and dangers to animals that aren’t normally apparent. Citronella candles, tiki torches, hot bbq grills, and other items aren’t safe for your dog to be around. All the food and desserts that are out can have ingredients that can make your pet sick.

Then there are the fireworks. We may love them but our pets may not. If your pet is nervous and stressed, hearing fireworks can make them panic and they may run away to hide from the noise. More pets go missing on the 4th of July than other holidays.

Here’s a few tips to keep your pet safe and reduce anxiety:

  1. Leave Max home! Don’t take your pet out to watch the fireworks with you. The boom of the fireworks, crowd, and overstimulation can cause him to panic and he may slip his collar or harness and run away.
  2. Keep your pets inside except for bathroom breaks or some playtime in the backyard. Firecrackers can scare your indoor/outdoor cat and s/he may run and hide somewhere. Dogs may become frightened too and hop a fence to get away from the noises and get lost.
  3. Keep proper ID on your pet at all times. If your pet does bolt or get away, make sure he’s wearing his tags that have your information on them. If your pet is microchipped, double check that the information registered with the company is up to date.
  4. Before this upcoming weekend, you can try desensitization techniques like playing a cd of firework sounds. You can begin by playing it at a low level and slowly increasing it. While it is playing, distract your dog with a game or go about your usual routine. Your dog may begin to associate the noise as part of his environment like cars going by or a washing machine running.
  5. Anxiety wraps like the Thundershirt, Storm Defender, and other types of snug fitting shirts that you put on your dog can help reduce the panic he feels during fireworks and thunderstorms. These provide acupressure and after a few times of wearing it, your dog may start to be calmer during situations that usually make him very nervous.
  6. Anti-anxiety drugs that are prescribed by your vet may be needed or an herbal remedy such as Rescue Remedy can calm your dog down. Some may only make your dog drowsy which won’t reduce the feelings. Talk to your vet if you haven’t found a way to help your dog get used to the unknown sounds of fireworks or thunder.
  7. Do no use insect repellants on your pet that are not made specifically for them. OFF or EMS’s bug repellant is made for us, and who knows how good it is for us! Don’t use it on your dogs or cats. DEET can cause neurological defects in animals. Be careful with the bug spray.
  8. Keep the citronella candles away from your pet too, aside from the danger of your pet being burned or knocking it over and starting a small fire, the citronella in the candles can cause respiratory problems in pets. If your pet ingests any of the citronella your pet’s nervous system can be badly affected.

Image from Star-Telegram.com

June 26: Take Your Dog To Work Day

Mark your calendar and be ready to get no work done. This year’s Take Your Dog To Work Day is Friday, June 26, 2015 and it is exactly what it says – take your dog to work, show off his strut, his fancy collar, and watch him get loved like he’s a rock star.

Before you head to work, make sure you’re prepared

  1. Dog-proof your workspace – make sure all loose wires and plugs are tidied up and tied together. Empty the trash can so your dog doesn’t make a bad impression and dig through your garbage looking for that wrapper from the sandwich you had yesterday.
  2. Manners – if your pet needs a refresher course, spend a few days before going to work reinforcing commands. Sit, stay, no, and come are all great ones to know. If your dog isn’t walked on a leash often, start taking walks in the evening to retrain your dog to not pull and stop walking when you stop.
  3. What to bring – treats, two bowls – one for water, one for food, paper towels in case there’s an accident, something soft for your dog to lay on, and a quiet toy or chewie for your dog. Make sure the ID tag on your dog’s collar is secure too!
  4. Your camera – on your phone or whatever, because you’ll want to remember this day!

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5 Dog Park Tips

With all this wonderfully beautiful spring weather upon us, trips to the dog park are going to be super fun. More dogs, more play, and more time spent outside are all on your dog’s mind.

With all this wonderfully beautiful spring weather upon us, trips to the dog park are going to be super fun. More dogs, more play, and more time spent outside are all on your dog’s mind. The dog park is a great place where your dog can make friends, run around and socialize, and burn off some energy and play. But your dog and you should also be mindful when going to the dog park and do your part to keep other pets and owners safe.

Here are 5 dog park tips:

  1. Spay or neuter your pet before interacting with other dogs. Most dog parks require it. An unspayed female could unintentionally make the male dogs focus on her and she may become very agitated or intimidated if the dogs crowd her too much. An unneutered male can also arouse dogs to become more aggressive as well. Dogs can detect hormone changes in each other and may react to those more than body language cue and sometimes a dog fight can break out.

    It’s better to be safe than sorry. If your dog is still a puppy and not old enough to be spayed or neutered, then hold off on trips to the dog park and opt for hikes and long walks instead till it’s done. Of course, not all dogs will be aroused and not all dogs are aggressive but why take the chance?

  2. Keep an eye on your dog when at the park. You’ll end up making a few friends and seeing some of your neighbors with their dogs there. So a trip to the dog park will be social for you as well. But while you are talking about life, the universe, and everything, keep an eye on your dog. You don’t want your pup playing too rough or bugging a tired dog or bugging another person. Step in and stop interactions that are negative.
  3. Don’t let your dog bug or bully other dogs. Your dog might be well-behaved but sometimes being excited and overly playful can turn into bullying. Other dogs might be tired or older and your dog may nudge them to play and annoy the other dogs. If your dog seems to be getting too worked up or might be having a bad play day, it’s time to leave the dog park.

    Take a walk through the park, jog the energy off, or go home and play in the yard. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

  4. Clean up after your dog. No one ever wants to step in a mess. Walking through a park and having to look down is no fun for you and your dog may run through it, roll in it, or slide in it as she’s playing. It’s not respectful to the environment and thoughtless. Always bring bags and do your part to keep the park clean. Many parks have rules about cleaning up and in some states you can be fined and banned.
  5. Keep your dog protected. Flea and tick medication should be applied to your dog to prevent bringing home any unwanted parasites. It also helps prevent the spread of them from dog to dog and house to house. If you take your dog to play, having this protection helps make sure that your local dog park is safe from those nasty little things. Also, don’t forget heartworm protection too!

Image from Dog Parks

What If Your Dog Doesn’t Want To Play?

Part of having a pet is the fun times you share aside from the cuddly moments and daily routines of meals, walks, and other things. But what if your dog doesn’t want to play with you? A study from 2001 noticed that in some instances it’s how we acted that made the dog misunderstand the signals for play time. A study from 2001 noted that patting the floor resulted in play only 38% of the time. Other signals like touching the paws, blowing in the face gently, and tickling didn’t always work too.

But what does work?
The study found that a few methods resulted in play nearly 100% of the time. Play bowing, starting a game of chase me, and acting excited and more “dog-like” were clear signals to play.

If your dog and you have are having a breakdown in communication, step back and think about their body language and what gets them and other dogs playing in the park.

Is it the “chase me!” stance, do they run up to a dog and then run away?
Is it a play bow to another dog?
Is it a nudge or pawing at another dog’s face?

You can try these things with your dog. It might feel silly at first but trust me, after a few times you won’t care because the result of wrestling around, running in the yard, and watching your dog zoom around the house is worth it. Play bowing with a dog is hilarious and dogs will often play bow back and get very excited.

What play signals work with your dog? Let us know!

Image from Stuffpoint.com

Buying Food for Your Dog

We’re bombarded with brand names and specialty foods. Low fat, active, young, senior dog, sensitive stomach, organic, middle-aged, big, small, and tons of other labels stare at us as we walk down the dog food aisles. You may have a brand and type that your dog loves to eat but if you don’t and want to upgrade or just switch brands, talk to your vet but also, keep the following tips in mind.

  1. Don’t shop based on your tastes – Just because you’re on a no starchy vegetable diet doesn’t mean your dog is too. Corn, wheat, and other ingredients are ok for your dog and may even help with maintaining your dog’s weight.
  2. Know the words – Certain words may not be as important as you think. Premium might just be the same food as “regular” but maybe has a little more protein. Natural generally means no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives but that doesn’t always mean the quality is great.
  3. Water content – Water is present in dry and canned food. The percentages vary and meat mostly is water, not mostly protein. The levels of nutrients are usually lower in percentage on canned food due to the water added but often are higher than the levels in dry food. You can do a little math to figure out what works best for your dog.

Give up? It’s definitely confusing. Talk to your vet and if you want to have more control over the contents of your dog’s food, discuss the details of cooking for your dog or moving to a raw food diet.

Image from HighFiberFood.com