February 2018

Features

Feeling Alone in Group Training Class

Group training classes are a mixed bag of pros and cons. And I say this as someone who has made a fair amount of my annual income by teaching group training classes. I also attend group classes with my own dog. By design, the “ideal candidate” for a positive-reinforcement group manners class is the generally happy-go-lucky, emotionally stable, food-oriented dog whose worse transgression is maybe a minor lack of impulse control, simply because he hasn’t yet been taught how to do better – that’s why he’s there.

Bravecto, Nexgard, or Other: Which Oral Flea Control Should You Use?

For several reasons, veterinarians tend to put the most stock in prescription oral or topical flea medications than any other preventatives. In fact, these are the two most effective solutions for killing fleas – but they aren’t without potential side effects and they should represent only a part of a dog owner’s efforts to control fleas.

Over-the-Counter Flea Medicine for Dogs

Last month, in “Bravecto, Nexgard, or Other: Which Oral Flea Control Should You Use?,” we described the five oral medications that veterinarians may prescribe to stop or prevent a dog’s flea infestation. This month, we’ll describe the four oral medications that kill fleas on dogs and are available to owners as over-the-counter (OTC) products – no prescription necessary. As with last month’s installment in this mini-series on flea-control options, the descriptions of these products should not be taken as a recommendation or endorsement.

Getting Rid of Fleas in the House

The job of getting rid of fleas in your house or yard really consists of taking on both the adults and all the other flea life stages. One could think of the non-adult phases of the flea as another species of pest, given that each stage has differing life needs and vulnerabilities. Because flea eggs, larvae, and pupae all have the potential for turning into fleas, destroying the insects in the non-adult stages is critical to preventing the population from repeatedly bouncing back into your and your dog’s lives.

Fitness for Aging Dogs

Many clients bring their aging dogs to me for private sessions because they have started having difficulty or reluctance with – or can no longer perform – normal life activities like climbing stairs, getting into the car, or walking on smooth flooring. These problems are often related to muscle atrophy in the hind end. Once the dogs get the all-clear from their veterinarian, we work on fitness exercises designed to rebuild hind-end strength; we increase the difficulty of the exercises slowly over time until more function returns.

Do Electric Shock Collars Harm Dogs?

Do you use an underground electric shock fence to contain your dog? Are you considering having one installed? I hope reading this will change your mind. More and more neighborhoods prohibit or limit the useof fencing, and as this occurs, the use of these non-visible electric shock perimeters has drastically increased. Manufacturers and retailers claim that these products are humane, effective means by which to safely confine dogs without disrupting the aesthetics of neighborhoods.

Training Tips from the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

When dogs fail to correctly perform cued behaviors in new settings, or in the face of distractions, they aren’t being stubborn, willful, or dominant, as many people believe. Rather, they are struggling to meet the demands placed upon them in that moment. In order for a dog to truly know a behavior – for it to become fluent – we must invest the time to train for the many types of situations we are likely to encounter with our dogs.

Ways to Stop a Dog from Whining

Dogs whine for a variety of reasons. Understanding your dog’s motivation for whining will lead you to the appropriate modification approach. Misinterpreting the whine, or simply chastising or otherwise punishing your dog for whining, can exacerbate the behavior and even give rise to other more serious behavioral issues. Consider these possible causes.

Are Canines Cognitive?

In our apparently endless quest to prove our species superior to all others who walk this earth, even as those other dominoes fall, we have long clung stubbornly to the belief that dogs and other species were seriously deficient in the cognition arena. Defined as “perception, reasoning, understanding, intelligence, awareness, insight, comprehension, apprehension, discernment” (and more, depending on the source), cognition also includes the ability to grasp and apply concepts, and “theory of mind” – the ability to recognize and understand the thoughts of others.

Laser Therapy Treatments for Arthritic Dogs

Arthritis pain, which affects four out of five older dogs, interferes with everything that makes life special for our best friends. Wouldn’t it be great if we could turn the clock back? Technology may not yet offer a time machine, but it can seem that way for dogs treated with modern therapies that make them feel like puppies again. Would laser treatments, shock wave therapy, Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency therapy, or other innovative treatments help your dog jump onto the sofa or run and play the way she used to?

Soft-Sided Dog Crates: Best and Worst of 2017

Not that long ago, dog carriers were typically limited to bulky plastic or wire crates that were cumbersome to move from place to place. Today, dog owners have many choices when it comes to portable kennel options, including a growing market of lightweight, folding soft crates that are easy to transport from place to place. The crate is a useful training tool to help teach housetraining skills, manage over-arousal, and protect against unwanted destruction when owners are unable to supervise an untrained dog of any age.

Great Solutions for Dog Crate Problems

I first used a crate as a canine management tool in the early 1980s. I was a little skeptical of the concept (“Put my dog in a box? What?”), but within two days was completely convinced that this newly touted training tool had merit for both housetraining puppies and as a “safe space” for older dogs. Decades have passed since then, and I continue to believe that crates are a valuable tool for successful dog keeping.

Put A Stop to Door-Darting Dogs

Door darting is an impulse-control problem. It’s also incredibly self-rewarding. Remedying the issue requires teaching the dog to exhibit self-control around an open door, while employing diligent management to prevent the rehearsal of unwanted behavior. The following tips can help.

Impulse Control Exercises for High-Energy Dogs

I have yet to see a high-arousal nipping, jumping, body-slamming dog who has not been successfully helped by an appropriate combination of exercise and training. In fact, I received an email just today from the owner of the 13-month-old Labrador Retriever that I met with two weeks ago. She was thrilled to report that she has already seen significant improvement in her dog’s behavior. I’ll be checking in with the Golden Retriever client soon.

Earth-Friendly Dog Poop Disposal

Lots of us go out of our way to look for biodegradable dog waste bags. After all, we want to be earth-friendly in as many ways as possible. Who wants to think of their dog’s poop festering away in a traditional polymer bag designed to survive a zombie apocalypse? Unfortunately, the term “biodegradable” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Truth is, when it comes to dog waste bags, it’s not easy to be as “green” as we’d like to be.