April 2016

Aggressive Behavior Information

It has become all too common to see lists of breed bans in multi-unit residences as well as municipalities. Books could be written about the drawbacks of breed-specific legislation (BSL), but suffice to say that all dogs have the potential to bite and no breed has 100 percent benign membership. The “bully breed” lovers among us (count me in) would point out that many of these dogs are model citizens and great companions.   More...

Living in the City with Dogs

If I were to choose two words to summarize how to live harmoniously with dogs in apartment buildings it would be “with consideration.” It really is no different than how we should strive to treat our neighbors even when pets are not involved. For example, before having a party, it’s considerate to inform your neighbors that you will be entertaining, invite them to join in on the fun, and be mindful of not being excessively noisy late in the evening. Similarly, if one has a dog, check in with your neighbors from time to time to make sure that Rocky is not driving them crazy with his whining and barking.   More...

Blood Pressure Tests for Dogs: Worth It?

Subscribers Only — A health exam for all adults includes a blood-pressure reading. So why not for our dogs? There are a few reasons that veterinarians save blood-pressure testing for only certain cases. Although an estimated 20 percent of humans suffer from “white-coat syndrome” (temporary high blood pressure caused by the anxiety associated with visiting the doctor), dogs aren’t as easy to sort out. “It’s reasonable to assume that dogs also suffer from white-coat syndrome,” Dr. Kornreich says, “but validation is different.”   More...

Possible Barriers to Training Walks

Subscribers Only — Dogs who struggle to focus on their owners when away from home usually do so for one of two reasons – either the dog is too distracted by the environment, or he’s under the influence of anxiety or fear. With anxiety and fear, the dog’s body language tells a powerful story. His posture might be slinky – head low, tail tucked, ears pinned back. His pupils might be dilated, with the whites of his eyes visible.…   More...

Using Walks to Train Your Dog

We’ve all heard the saying, “a tired dog is a good dog,” but more isn’t always better when it comes to physical activity. If you’re trying to use exercise to help your dog relax the rest of the day, walking smarter, not farther, can help you meet your goal. It also creates wonderful opportunities for strengthening dog-owner relationships.   More...

Help Heal Your Dog with Common Herbs

All I could hear was the buzz of a thousand bees as I parted my way through a deep thicket of Heracleum lanatum, a tall, broad-leaved member of the parsley family commonly known as “cow parsnip.” The big, umbrella-like white flower clusters seem to attract every insect imaginable. The plant is also arguably edible, most notably the root. I say, “arguably” edible, because the flavor is downright overbearing – like bitter carrot tops that have been intensified a hundredfold in flavor, then mixed with a pinch of soap. But that’s just my opinion. Much of the wildlife in these mountains relish the flowering tops, and later in the summer, the seeds. On this day I had noticed that several stems that had been chewed, five feet above the ground, making me cautious of spooking a moose, which sometimes nap behind the cool cover of the plants. Maybe a moose with a toothache, I think to myself, smiling as I push through the plants. Although not a food choice for me, I do occasionally use Cow Parsnip as medicine. The unripe seeds possess a unique gum-numbing quality when chewed, making them useful for toothaches and other discomforts of the mouth.   More...

Do More with Your Dog

Stunt dog trainer/performer and author Kyra Sundance has created an entire program around teaching dogs to do tricks. Trainers can become Certified Trick Dog Instructors (CTDI), and dog owners can earn titles at five levels by having a witness sign the Trick Dog Performance Form found on Sundance’s website. To achieve the various levels, you simply need your dog to perform enough tricks from Sundance’s Tricks List to meet the requirements for that level: …   More...

Have Fun Training Your Dog New Tricks!

Subscribers Only — One of the many things I love about today’s dog training world is that now, thanks to our culture’s paradigm shift toward positive reinforcement-based training, a lot more people are having fun teaching their dogs to do tricks. Once a mere afterthought in training, fun is now taking center stage as more trainers offer classes in “just” tricks, and encourage their clients to get creative with the behaviors they teach their dogs. In fact, there are even canine titles to be earned in tricks!   More...

The Importance of Clipping Dogs' Nails

Let’s get this out of the way first: Nobody, it seems, likes to “do” dog nails. Not you, not the dog, nor anyone else who may be called upon to take on nail-clipping for you (such as a technician at your local veterinary hospital or even a professional groomer). But for the health of your dog, it must be done, and should be done frequently enough to keep your dog’s nails short.   More...

Puppy Training Pros and Cons

Last month, I mentioned how concerned my son was when he heard I had made the decision to adopt one of the bully-breed-mix puppies I had been fostering. He’s accustomed to me pretending that I don’t like puppies (“Ew, a puppy! Gross! Who likes puppies? Ick!”) – a stupid joke meant to soften the hard fact that unprepared people always seem to be magnetically drawn to the puppies in the shelter where I volunteer, passing right over many more suitable, calm, house-trained, non-chewing adult dogs in the process.   More...