November 2011

Features

Veterinary Visits: It's Important to Be There for Your Dog

I am going to be blunt; I have a strong opinion about this. There is absolutely no chance that I would allow any of my dogs to be taken “into the back” at a veterinary clinic for anything short of surgery. Our new vet does go above and beyond with her clinic’s degree of owner involvement, but we have never been clients at a clinic that required our dogs to be taken away from us for examinations.

How to Teach A Dog to "Leave It"

There are many times in your dog’s life when she needs to be able to control her impulse to engage in a behavior. Last month, we discussed “Wait” and “Stay” – but impulse control goes far beyond these “don’t move” cues. “Leave it” is another impulse-control behavior that is very useful for your dog to know. The cue means, “Whatever you are focused on at this moment, I need you to leave it alone.”

How to Treat Dog Wounds

Dogs are naturally curious, physical, and exuberant, and while we love this about them, these characteristics can also lead to unintentional injuries. These can run the gamut from very minor to severe and life-threatening. How do you know the difference? When is it time to consult a veterinarian and when can you manage a wound at home? Here are some steps for assessing wounds and treating them.

Diagnostic Health Testing for Dogs

Basic screening tests, in combination with regular physical exams, are foundation components of a good health care program. In younger dogs, routine tests are done to establish normal baselines, exclude congenital problems, and/or ensure safety for anesthesia. In older pets, these tests often provide the first indication of possible health problems.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!