Dog Grooming: Part 1

Grooming is an important part of your dog’s health, with regular brushing and combing helping to remove dead hair and dirt and prevent matting. Dogs who are regularly groomed tend to have a healthier and shinier coat because it stimulates the blood supply to the skin.

Grooming your dog can also be a good way to bond with your dog, and it’s important to get him used to it from an early age. Many dogs learn to see their routine brushing as an alternate petting, another source of affection and attention. A good quality brush and comb will help you with your dog’s coat, but also remember that your dog’s eyes, ears, and nails require attention as well.

Next time we’ll dive into this fun topic and start giving tips on long haired dogs, then medium haired dogs, then short-haired dogs! Certain breeds require very specific grooming techniques so we’ll touch on those as well. Until then get those brushes ready!

Dog Food Don’ts!

My neighbor had to take their dog to the vet recently because it got really sick from eating some grapes. It’s very important that dog owners know exactly what foods they must never give their dog. Here’s a basic list.

If you have ever heard that you will kill your dog by giving it chocolate, then you heard correct. Some of the things that they contain, such as caffeine, can be very toxic. They will work by having an affect on both the nervous system of your pooch, as well as his heart. Overall, chocolate is one of the main things that you should not give your dog. This also goes for coffee.

Although your dog may love pork and ham, it is really something that you should avoid giving him. It can have many negative effects on his digestive tract. You will probably notice that your dog will have diarrhea if he eats pork or ham, or he might even vomit with blood.

Most dogs love to play with grapes. It is okay if your dog does not eat them, but only plays until he gets tired with them. Giving your dog grapes to eat is really something that you should avoid. The reason is because, due to a toxin that they contain, they are known to cause damage or even failure to the kidneys. Keep in mind that this also counts for raisins too.

Although you have always heard of people giving their dogs bones, this is something that you will really want to avoid doing. You will especially want to avoid giving your dog bones from poultry sources, such as chicken. The main reason is because they can cause splintering or other types of damage to the digestive system.

Both onions and garlic contain things which can have an affect on the red blood cells, and ultimately cause your dog to become anemic. This is especially true when it is eaten in large quantities. Overall, giving your dog onions is something that you will just want to avoid doing.

Book Review: Cesar’s Way

Like many passionate dog owners, I’m a big fan of Cesar Millan, aka the Dog Whisperer. An old co-worker of mine was actually on his show and she said the transformation her dog went through was astounding. Now after actually seeing how she trained and treated her dog before she was on the show, I can say that I think it was more a problem in ownership than Cesar’s miracle working. But nonetheless, the man has a great and very effective philosophy when it comes to training dogs.

In his book, Cesar’s Way, he imparts his high philosophy for us starving peon dog owners. It’s very practical and definitely a holistic, owner-centered approach. Cesar firmly believes that there’s no such thing as a bad dog, just bad owners. He espouses his theory that dogs need three fundamental elements in their lives; exercise, discipline and affection. He says that despite what frazzled owners may feel, dogs are not complicated and need simplicity in training. This is so true; so often you see owners pleading and almost negotiating with their dogs thinking that they are “disciplining” them. Then they become frustrated when the dogs don’t respond to their “proposition” for obedience.

I would highly recommend this book for new dog owners. Its not the basic how-to obedience book that some people expect– it goes much deeper than that and will holistically make you a better dog owner, which will result in a better dog and a better life relationship.

Dog Howl-O-Ween

Check this out:

OCEAN BEACH – The third annual Halloween carnival for dogs and their owners will be Oct. 26 in Ocean Beach.

The “Howl-o-ween” carnival will feature costume contests and a dog-costume parade, organizers say. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the parade will begin at 2 p.m., with prizes announced at 3 p.m. The event will be on Santa Monica Avenue between Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Ebers Street. Admission is free, but it will cost $5 to enter dogs in the parade and $8 to enter groups or floats. Dogs must be on a leash.

I’m conflicted. On one hand I can see how dogs forced to get around in costumes demeans them and disrespects them as animals. But on the other hand, sometimes they’re really cute! You can’t fight cute. Also, I’m not sure where to draw the line. In the cold weather I sometimes put my dog in a little sweater to stay snug, but I don’t trick my dog out with LV gear and matching accessories to what I’m wearing, like I’ve seen some people do.

I don’t really have a strong conviction on it either way, but apparently some dog owners are VERY against it. What do you think? Comment!

Training the High Prey Drive Dog

If your dog has a strong prey drive, you can actually use this to your advantage in training. Some breeds with low prey drive will find nothing more rewarding and enjoyable than a doggie treat. Some dogs can’t get enough of pats, hugs and rubs of affection from their owners. Not so with high prey drive dogs. They love to chase! Balls, ropes, frisbees are the apple of their eye. This can work to your advantage; treats and pats may be part of every day interaction with you, but using a game of fetch or a tug-of-war rope session to reward and reinforce good behavior can be very effective when training these breeds.

There are several commands you will want your high prey drive dog to know and obey. Above all you want it to know that your commands are more important than the desire to chase. One example that I use is within the game of fetch or tug-of-war. My dog goes absolutely bonkers for tug of war and fetch. But through training, it is able to discipline itself because it knows that I am in control of the game.

With tug of war, I will place the rope on the ground. The dog’s impulse will be to snatch the prey and get the game going! But I say “NO!” and will not participate in the game until she drops it. After you succeed in getting her to wait for you, you can start making moves toward the rope. This will usually result in the dog immediately snatching it up, thinking the game has started. Again, firmly reprimand your dog and refuse to play until she drops it. Gradually continue until you get your dog to the point where it will sit completely still as the rope is placed on the ground and you pick it up in your hand. At that point graciously praise your dog and reward it with a good game of tug-of-war! This is just one way you can use your dog’s high prey drive to actually discipline that very drive!

Socializing Your Dog: Prey Drive

An important concept to understand as a new dog owner is prey drive. This is a little-known concept that is important to how you decide to train, socialize and discipline your dog.

There are a lot of misconceptions about prey drive. Prey drive is basically an element of your dog’s temperment that influences how they interact and perceive other dogs, small animals, birds, and people. Like most traits of your dog, prey drive is determined by breed and heredity. However, like all things, natural prey drive is not the 100% determinant of your dog’s behavior. It’s very easy to villify or blame certain breeds– pit bulls and rotts come to mind– for having relatively higher prey drives than other dogs. But like all things when it comes to your dog, it comes down to the owner. Proper training and socialization overcomes inherited traits.

So how does prey drive manifest itself? One way is the intensity with which your dog will focus in on an object that it is chasing. For example, some dogs will chase an object with a powerful drive to catch it. This is fine when it’s chasing a ball, but this will also manifest itself in chasing birds, rodents, and– here’s where we have to be careful– other pets and children. See the importance of training prey drive now? We’ll cover training tips next time.

Socializing Your Dog With People

The thing to remember when socializing your dog with people: quality and quantity go together!

You want your dog to have as many positive experiences with people as possible in its formative months. You want your dog to experience going to people’s homes, people coming to your house, going to the park, walking on the street, going to the store, meeting the mailman. As many diverse experiences as possible.

Here’s how quantity ties into quality. Let’s say you’re taking your dog Moochie out for a walk and a man scares him and steps on his tail! If Moochie has met 50 men on past walks and 40 of them ignored him and 10 of them either gave him or a treat or gave him a pat on the head, then Moochie’s opinion of this particular man will be “hey this guy is weird and strange! he’s nothing like most of the men I’ve met before.”

I am a firm believer that socialization trumps inherited temperment. Some breeds are inclined to be more people-aggressive, some are inclined to have a high prey drive and need to be watched more around other animals. However, I think it is a cop-out when owners blame the dog’s temperment completely or disproportionately. Some breeds may need more attention or focus in certain areas than others, but with a diligent owner making socialization a top priority in a dog’s early life, you can have confidence that your dog is stable and shouldn’t have any incidents.

Socializing Your Dog: Part 1

Hand in hand with training your dog to obey you, socialization is one of the most important aspects in raising a dog. With improper or lacking socialization in a dog’s early life, it can be very difficult and even impossible to alter the resulting behavior when it is an adult. That’s not to say that socialization isn’t a continuing process– it is, and needs to be done for a dog at all stages of his life. But for this article we are going to focus on puppy socialization, which is the single biggest factor for determining how your dog will behave around people, other pets, and different social environments.

Generally, the goal of socialization is to give your dog a view of life and the world around him as safe and friendly and not hostile, unpredictable and scary. A wary dog is unpredictable and can turn aggressive when it feels threatened.

The first step to socialization is exposure. You want to guide your pup through as many different environments and encounters with different kinds of people and animals as possible. Be careful where you choose to take them though, and always reassure your pup. Don’t take a young pup to a busy street with all kinds of trauma waiting around the corner like careless bicyclers and loud cars. Traumatizing your dog is only going to make things harder for you.

Next time: specifics of people socialization!

Dog Parks: Part 2

As we touched on in yesterday’s post, Dog Parks can be a great place for your dog to socialize with other dogs and for you to interact with other dog owners in the community. Since we covered what makes a good dog park and how to find one in the last post, today we are going to cover some basic guidelines and etiquette tips once you decide on which park you want you and your pooch to be a member of.

You want to be very cautious and watchful of your dog the first few times you bring him to a park. If you haven’t socialized your dog with others before, you may have no idea how they will react. Some of the nicest dogs with people can be very animal aggressive. Some will be very, very timid. Some will be bullies! Others will just want to have FUN– but fun to them means running their big bodies into other dogs and other people at top speed! It is important to get an understanding of how your dog acts and socialize them accordingly.

Dog park rules vary from park to park. But if you know the rules, and have a well trained dog that listens to you, you will do fine wherever you go. Next time: socialization tips!

Dog Parks: Part 1

It’s time to talk about every dog’s favorite place to play: the Dog Park!

Dog parks are invaluable in getting your dog socialized with other canines. Not only that, but it’s a flat out fun place for them to be once they get used to playing with other pooches. In today’s post we will talk about what makes up a good dog park before getting into specifics through out this week.

The most important aspect and foundation of a good dog park is the community. It is important that every owner who chooses to bring their dog to the park respect the community and make sure they abide by the rules and proper etiquette. Dog park etiquette is a whole other subject we will get into later, but the most important element is to know the rules and follow them! Nobody wants to be known as “that owner” with “that dog” who ruins the entire park experience for everybody!

Check out and talk to people at the dog park before bringing your dog. Make sure you know and remember the rules and are ready to enforce them on your dog. This is a double edged sword– be sure to enforce the rules if you see another owner breaking them. This is important– you don’t have to be hostile or confrontational, but the community is more important than one bad owner. When necessary, contacting the proper authorities to deal with bad owners is something that happens at dog parks.