October 2018

Features

Foxtail Grass: Awns of Destruction for Western Dogs

The seeds of the nasty foxtail grass seem to have a special affinity for invading dogs’ bodies. The three most common hazards of foxtails to dogs are these: They get sniffed into dog noses, work their way into dog ears, and lodge between dog toes. Each of these sites is a mere port of entry for these sturdy seeds; once inside, they start a relentless crawl forward, traveling deeper into a dog’s tissue with every passing hour. They are sometimes found in exploratory surgeries years afterward; the durable seed and awn fibers resist breaking down in the body as if they were made of plastic.

Dog Boarding and Training Facilities

Perhaps you’re thinking about taking your adolescent out-of-control dog, or your dog with significant behavior issues, to a board-and-train (B&T) facility, where they will work with her for a few short weeks and hand her back all perfect. Right? Wait a minute. What sounds like a perfect solution to your dog’s behavior and training challenges is fraught with danger. Remember that something that sounds too good to be true, often is.

Can Dogs Get Tetanus?

Fortunately, tetanus is relatively rare in dogs. Horses and humans are more susceptible to tetanus, while cats are highly resistant. Dogs fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum – but it does happen. As an emergency veterinarian, I have personally seen two cases of tetanus in dogs and read of several others.

How to Prepare for An Emergency Animal Hospital Visit

If you have a dog, emergencies are inevitable. Dogs are prone to injuries, ingestion of toxic substances, and illnesses. Are you prepared in an emergency? Do you know what to do and what not to do? After nine years as an emergency veterinarian, I’ve seen it all! Here are my top tips for helping your emergency-room veterinarian help your dog.

Get Your Dog to Rest After Surgery

When our dogs undergo surgery or suffer an injury, they don't understand that remaining calm and inactive while their bodies heal is necessary to a strong recovery. It's up to us, their guardians, to keep our dogs calm, happy, comfortable - and stimulated - through their recovery period, so that they do not over-exert themselves and create another injury.

Training an Over-Aroused Dog

It’s true that dogs like Australian Shepherds, a breed commonly referred to as “high drive” and thought of as “needing to work,” enjoy hard exercise. But while I believe that every dog benefits from having a job, I think less work is better for these especially smart, active, and sensitive individuals, particularly in their first three years. In my opinion, it’s far more valuable to teach dogs like this to settle themselves, instead of trying to physically exhaust them. And forget about employing the “forced settle” method – an oxymoron that leaves the dog no choice in the matter and often exacerbates the dog’s so-called hyperactivity.

Help! My Dog Always Smells Bad

Most of us love snuggling with our dogs and burying our noses in our dogs’ soft, shiny coats. But if you find yourself avoiding that last activity due to your dog’s persistent unpleasant odor, read on!

How to Teach Your Dog Object Names

Teaching your dog to differentiate between objects is a fun brain game that can be stretched out over days or weeks. He doesn’t need to learn it all on the first try! Keep sessions short and fun, making sure your dog gets plenty of reinforcement to keep him interested.

The Guide Dogs of America's Puppy Socialization Schedule

Most service-dog organizations rely heavily on volunteers to welcome the organization’s puppies into their homes – and hearts – for more than a year, during which time the volunteers are responsible for teaching basic obedience, impeccable house manners, and how to be confident and calm in a variety of public settings. Socialization is a huge part of raising any dog, but it’s especially important when the dog is destined for a career spent largely away from home. When it comes to socializing a puppy, how you do it matters – a lot!

Training Your Dog to 'Wait' and 'Stay'

When the use of aversives was the norm in dog training, we simply punished our canine companions harshly enough that they were afraid to do these unwanted behaviors. With the advent of positive-based training, its emphasis on relationship, and our appreciation for getting our dogs to do stuff, today’s more enlightened humans use a kinder, gentler approach to teach impulse control. We teach dogs that if they choose to control their own impulses, good things will happen!

Common Toenail Injuries on Dogs

Nails: All dogs have them. In fact some dog breeds, like the Great Pyrenees, have 22 of them. Yet nails are commonly ignored by many dog owners. There are numerous common problems with this area in dogs, ranging from minor broken nails to more devastating diseases like cancer. Proper maintenance with nails trims and periodic inspection of the nail and nail fold will ensure early detection of any problems with your canine friend.

Hemangioma in Dogs

The cause of hemangiomas is idiopathic (unknown). These growths usually don’t appear until at least middle age. Thin-skinned, light-colored breeds often experience hemangiomas. You’ll most likely find a hemangioma on the dog’s trunk or legs, especially hairless areas like the lower abdomen.

How to Cope With Losing a Dog

It’s important to remember that grieving is normal, natural and healthy. It’s okay to cry, scream, yell, get angry, and be depressed and sad, as long as you aren’t harming yourself or anyone else. If at any time you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope, or feel that you are “stuck” in one of the stages of grief, you can seek help from pet-loss hotlines, grief counselors, and other health professionals who specialize in helping people through the grief process.

Shaping Your Dog's "Sit"

Shaping – taking a desired behavior, breaking it into small steps, and reinforcing the steps until you build the final behavior – has become a standard dog training tool, especially in the force-free world. Those who are familiar with shaping regard it as invaluable for teaching and refining behaviors. If you don’t yet have experience with shaping, try this exercise with your dog. It will help you realize how subtly and precisely you can influence the movement of virtually any part of your dog’s body.

The Mudbuster

Using the Mudbuster tool to clean Woody’s feet has dramatically cut down the number of towels I go through. Instead of needing a separate towel each time I have to clean all four feet (but especially his front/digging feet), I half-fill the Mudbuster with water and dunk each paw into the device a few time. Then I can use the same towel all day to quickly and simply dry his freshly cleaned feet. To finish, just pour out the muddy water and rinse the Mudbuster in the sink. (It can be run through the dishwasher for a more complete cleaning.)