Dog Care Tips

Holiday puppies are often impulse purchases in the spirit of the season. Many “holiday puppies” end up in local shelters or with rescue groups by spring. Before getting a puppy for your family, all members should make a self-assessment of whether they are ready for the responsibility that goes with dog ownership. Does everyone have the time and the energy that is needed to socialize and educatie a puppy and a full grown dog. Dogs require regular health check-ups, training, feeding, exercise, grooming, time, and energy. Adults and children must be ready for a dog that may be with them for 10 to 20 years. If you are absolutely set upon getting your family a puppy for the Holidays, do your homework first. Talk to local trainers, breeders, dog groomers, rescue groups, animal shelters, other dog owners, and veterinarians about the responsibility and amount of work required to socialize, raise, care, and train a puppy into a great family dog. Instead of purchasing a puppy at holiday time, possibly consider purchasing a breed book, a book on raising a puppy, a consultation with a local professional, a gift certificate for a veterinary checkup, a gift certificate for puppy preschool classes, or a video tape on dog ownership for your family. Your research and patience will pay off.

Crate training is the easiest way to prevent misbehavior such as inappropriate chewing or housebreaking accidents with your new puppy. These “playpens” prevent a puppy from hurting himself or getting into trouble when you are away or cannot supervise. Do not use your puppy’s crate for discipline or punishment. Feed your puppy in the crate to allow a positive association to form. Never leave your puppy in the crate wearing any type of collar and remove potentially harmful objects. Consult with a NK9DTA trainer for more guidance.

Without a doubt the easiest and best way to prevent puppy misbehavior such as house training accidents is with the use of a dog crate. Using the crate allows you to leave your home or to work uninterrupted for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. These “playpens” will prevent your dog from hurting himself or getting into trouble. Dog pens are to a dog’s safety as playpens are to a child’s safety. Additionally, if your dog is safely tucked away in his crate, it is praise, not correction, that he will hear from you first when you return home. Feeding your dog in his crate will also give him a positive association with it. Consult with your trainer for additional information about acclimating your dog to a crate.

Don’t ever use the crate for discipline or punishment. Never leave your dog in his crate while he is wearing a collar (especially a training collar). All it takes is a few minutes for him to accidentally choke himself. Also, be sure to remove any potentially harmful objects from his pen. Crates allow you to adjust his amount of freedom during the housetraining period and preventing him from wandering to the back of the cage for a bathroom area. You may also purchase crates with adjustable walls. Once he is housebroken, this section can be removed. Consult with your trainer for additional information about acclimating your dog to a crate.

Combination Programs combine a residency program, private lessons, in-home lessons, or group classes. These programs are normally helpful for, those owners whose dogs are not suited to begin with a group or private lessons. The trainer will begin your dog’s training in a residency program or through private lessons and once you and your dog have achieved a certain level of training you will then continue training through private or group lessons.

Behavioral Counseling Sessions serve owners who wish to solve a specific problem. Trainers will often advise you on probable causes and assist you with solutions. Behavioral Counseling can provide you with assistance dealing with a specific problem such as house training an older dog or getting on furniture.

How old should my dog be to start training? Although many trainers recommend beginning your dog’s training as early as possible, dogs of all ages are able to learn at different levels. Most puppies between the ages of 7 to 16 weeks benefit from a puppy preschool program that focuses on preventing unwanted behaviors and the benefits of socialization. Most dogs are ready to begin formal obedience training as early as 14 to 16 weeks of age. In some situations a puppy can begin obedience training earlier or later. After speaking with a certified professional trainer, they will be able to advise you as to whether or not your dog is ready for training.

Private Lessons are scheduled at a location provided by the trainer. Private lessons are designed for owners who have the necessary patience and time to work closely with their dogs. This approach is for dogs whose personality types work better when they remain in their home environment or learn with their owner. In each lesson a trainer will teach you and your dog a new command/behavior once or twice a week. Owner and the dog will then practice at home between sessions. A commitment by the owner practicing at home each day is necessary for this approach to be most effective. The number of lessons required will be determined by owner’s goals, the dog, and the time and energy invested.

Summer months translates into more time for you and your dog to enjoy the outdoors. Your dog may be susceptible to sunburn due to prolonged exposure to the sun. Dogs with short coats or sparse hair over their bodies can develop sunburn where the skin is exposed. Much like humans, animals that get sunburn are more likely to develop skin cancer. Keep your pet out of the sun during peak hours. Provide shade and water to pets that are outdoors. Consult with your veterinarian regarding sunscreens that may be used on your dog for added protection.

Dog Life Jackets and Dog Life Vests are a great solution for the dog owner that has a dog that accompanies them around the water. Life jackets are also useful for dogs that accompany their families while boating, swimming at the lake, or at the beach. A life jacket is also useful for dogs that spend time in the family pool. A Dog Life Jacket or Dog Life Vest provides your dog the same protection as a life jacket provides a child. Not all dogs can swim and not all dogs are great swimmers.

Each breed will have different grooming needs. Some will require regular professional grooming, haircuts, or stripping. Consult with your breeder, an experienced groomer, or a good book about your breed to find out more about the grooming requirements for your breed. If you have a mix-breed, check in a book or with a groomer to determine the breed, which your dog most closely resembles. All dogs will need a grooming routine that includes brushing, nail clipping, dental hygiene, bathing, cleaning eyes and ears.

Check your dog’s ears weekly for dirt and wax buildup. This is especially important for long-eared breeds: Retrievers, Spaniels, Beagles, etc. Look for signs of irritation; report any to your veterinarian. There are commercial ear cleaning products available that can be used to gently swab the outer ear clean. Consult with your veterinarian to determine what product and cleaning routine is best for your dog.

dog-care-tips.jpgThe care of your dog’s mouth and teeth is important. Bad breath and the early stages of dental disease can be prevented by daily brushing. Brushing your dog’s teeth also removes the daily accumulation of plaque from the teeth. There are different types of handled brushes designed for dogs. There is also a rubber type brush that resembles a thimble that fits over a finger. It is often easier to use, especially for beginners. Make sure to also use a dog specific tooth paste. Human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed and can cause stomach problems. Consult with your veterinarian for more information on brushing your dog’s teeth.

Some breeds have a narrowing of the duct running between the nose and the eye that causes the eyes to run almost constantly. This fluid interacts with bacteria found in the air and on the skin causing it to darken and turn a brownish color. This reaction can cause staining of the hair under the inner corner of the eyes. Certain breeds are more prone to this than others; the Bichon Frise and Poodle are examples. It is important to clean the under-eye area daily. If this discharge is not removed on a regular basis it can build up and form a very hard crust that can get matted into the hair. This is not only unpleasant to look at but removal of a mat under the eye can be extremely uncomfortable. There are solutions available that are specially formulated to clean the under-eye area that are geared especially for light colored dogs. The solution also neutralizes the bacteria that cause staining. Consult with your veterinarian regarding proper care of your dog’s eyes.

A dog’s temperature is taken rectally and normally runs from 100.0 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (average temperature is 101.3 to 101.5). If you are unsure on how to do this properly, on your next visit have your veterinarian or veterinary technician show you. Sometimes, taking your dog’s temperature can be a two-person operation. One person handles the thermometer while the other restrains the dog.

Your dog’s pulse rate can be found at the femoral artery located in the inner thigh. Pulse rate is usually 60 – 160 beats per minute. Smaller dogs have a faster pulse rate than large dogs. Have your veterinarian or veterinary technician show you how to take a standardized pulse rate and advise you on the normal rate for your dog. Familiarize yourself with the normal pulse rate and the feel of a normal pulse prior to a medical emergency.
Dog owners should check with their veterinarian before administering aspirin to their dog. Your veterinarian will be able to determine if aspirin is the best drug for your dog’s symptoms and if so the proper dosage for your dog. Your veterinarian will also want to determine if your dog is on any other medication because aspirin may interact with other medications. Your veterinarian may also suggest a safer and more effective drug or supplement. Aspirin can be toxic if given in the wrong dose. Dogs can also be sensitive to the gastrointestinal effects of aspirin. Use of aspirin may result in side effects such as pain, bleeding, and ulceration. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if aspirin is best for your dog.

Why do dogs roll in awful smelling stuff? One belief is that since dogs are predators that they are attempting to disguise/camouflage their own scent. This is instinctual in order to hunt their own food. They would cover their scent with the excrement of another animal to be able to get closer in order to hunt. Another belief is that a dog doesn’t look at smells the way we do. Our perfume is their stench. Their decomposing stuff is their perfume, especially after a bath. A good roll in something smelly will get rid of the shampoo scent that we love and they don’t. Another theory is that dogs enjoy sensory simulations and may well be prone to seeking such stimulation to an excessive degree. Another reason they roll in obnoxious-smelling organic material may be because they are simply expressing a misgotten sense of aesthetics.

Fleas thrive at low altitudes in temperature ranges of 65-80 degrees (Fahrenheit). Under these conditions the flea life cycle can be completed beginning with the hatching of an egg through the laying of the next generation of eggs. This process can take place in as little as 16 days. Adult fleas are long-lived insects and can survive several months without a blood meal. Since fleas spend so little time on your pet, it can be hard to discern by inspecting your pet the extent of the infestation or the degree of your pet’s discomfort. However fleas do leave behind evidence of their presence in the form of “flea dirt”. This may be seen on your pet even if you do not see fleas. Comb or brush your pet. Look for tiny dark dots or comma-shaped pieces of debris. Flea dirt is actually the excrement of the insect which is partially digested blood. To determine if the small specs are actually from the flea place the specs on a moistened paper towel. If the spec begins to dissolve and forms a red stain, then it is flea dirt.
Ticks can cause a host of problems for your dog, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. In large enough numbers, ticks can also cause dangerous amounts of blood loss, especially in younger dogs. An effective tick prevention program is essential to your dog’s health. Preventing ticks from infesting your pet is much easier and less expensive than treating an existing tick problem. Consult with your veterinarian regarding the best flea and tick preventatives for your dog.

What is a service animal?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government. Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself.

Seizure-alert and -response dogs are a special type of assistance dog that are specifically trained to help someone who is prone to seizures. These dogs are trained to do various tasks- anywhere from pulling objects away from the person and providing emotional and physical support during a seizure, to in special cases, alerting their owner of an impending seizure. Each dog is trained specifically for the person in need. Dogs that may become and are seizure-dogs must be extremely efficient at their job.

Therapy Dog refers to a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, mental institutions, schools, and stressful situations such as disaster areas. Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds and must be friendly, patient, at ease in all situations, and gentle. A therapy dog’s primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact and to enjoy that contact. Therapy dogs must be content to be petted and handled. It is important to note that therapy dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs directly assist humans, and have a legal right to accompany their owners. Therapy dogs do not provide direct assistance, do not have legal rights to travel everywhere, and must be invited by institutions. Most institutions have rigorous requirements for therapy dogs in order to volunteer.

Symptoms of Heatstroke or Hypothermia

Some or all may be present: Panting, Weakness or collapse, Elevated temperature (from 105-110 degrees – normal is 101-102 degrees), Vomiting, diarrhea and / or lack of urine production, Seizures, Fast pounding pulse, Blank or starring expression. Heat Exhaustion can occur during or after exercise, particularly on hot or humid days. Heat exhaustion may not be associated with an elevation in body temperature. Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion may include: Collapse or fainting, Mentally dazed behavior, Vomiting, Muscle cramps (seizure-like tremors), Abnormally rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing, or Muscle weakness.

Heatstroke or Hyperthermia can occur in dogs during the warmer months of the year. Dogs are more prone to over-heating because they pant instead of sweating like humans. Excessive panting can eventually lead to dehydration. Dogs who have been afflicted with heatstroke are unable to regulate their body temperature. Cell damage usually begins to occur at body temperatures over 106 degrees (Fahrenheit). Factors that also influence over-heating would be obesity, advanced age, youth (puppy), poor ventilation, and breeds with short noses/muzzles. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is experiencing heatstroke.