How to Train Your Dog to Love Baths

 

From: P.L.A.Y. Pet Lifestyle And You, Inc

posted by: Randi Case, DC

I  read this article and thought it was very interesting.  Often when a dog is afraid of baths, the owners just give up and don’t bathe them or send them to a groomer.  Maybe these tips will help to calm your pup so you can enjoy bathtime instead of dreading it.

Certain words inspire strong reactions in animals. If I tell my beagle Mary that we’re going for a W-A-L-K, she knows exactly what’s happening. If I don’t move quickly enough, she’ll bark until I open the door. Walks are important, but what happens when there’s an activity that causes dread in your furry friend?

How to Train Your Dog to Like Baths

Bath-day anxiety stresses out the entire household. No one likes to see a four-legged family member scared. So how do you train a dog that’s afraid of the tub to step into the water?

Find the Source

If possible, try to sort out what part of the bathing process your dog is afraid of. Does he start shaking at the sound of water or does he wait until he’s wet? Is he afraid of the bathroom completely? Maybe the bath itself is just fine, but he relates it to those dreaded nail clippers. Identifying the first trigger will help you ease him into accepting baths are safe.

Have Fun

Play in or around the bathtub – especially if you notice that Rover avoids the entire room and not just the tub. He’s associating the room with bad days.

Don’t wait for bath day to use the tub or bathing area as a fun place. Show your dog that the room is used for fun things, too. Make games of tug and belly rubs frequent occurrences.

Tasty Rewards

Whether you were able to pinpoint a specific trigger at bath time not, bribing with toys and treats is a good way to help your dog enjoy bath time. Once you’re in the bathroom, give him a treat. Once he’s in the tub, give him a treat. If you have a second pair of hands, there’s no harm in treats occurring throughout the bath, too.

Take a Drive

Some dogs live for car rides and some don’t. If you’re lucky enough to have a dog that goes gaga for a car ride, try using the ride as the first phase of the reward system. If you head to the park for a long run, Rover might actually be willing to step into a bath to cool down afterwards.

You can actually even cut out the tub altogether by using a public pet washing station. Some states, like Illinois, are practically riddled with pet washings stations in convenient locations like outside of grocery stores and auto repair shops. How could a dog hate bath day when it starts and ends with a car ride and involves a long play date in the park?

Teach Them Young

If your dog is still a puppy, you’re in luck. You won’t have to help unlearn a decade of fear. Odd are good that the event itself is so far from their daily routine that they don’t know how to respond. Following the above reward and play-date steps will swiftly calm a puppy’s fears.

Quick Tips

A few final pointers to round out the actual bathing process:

1. Don’t yell. No matter how frustrated you may be, don’t use anything other than a friendly, soothing tone with your pup. He’s already terrified. Thinking that you’re upset with them is just going to make things worse.
2. Use a mat. Use a cheap rubber mat on the bottom of the tub so the dog’s trembles don’t make him skid. That slippage will only increase the panic.
3. Don’t rush. Rushing will only increase overall stress to you and your dog.
4. Check the temp. We both know you want the drama over with, but accidently throwing ice cold or too hot water on the dog will also make a bad situation worse.

Even the most skittish dog will eventually respond to the above training. You might never have a completely willing participant but, with patience, you can help sooth everyone’s nerves. Stay patient, remind your furry friend that they’re loved and always begin – and end – with a treat.

Is Your Dog’s Bed Toxic??

Toxic Chemical Found in Dog Beds and Toys:        Triclosan Alert

By

Posted by Randi Case, DC, CCSP

What do your toothpaste, your athletic socks and your dog’s bed have in common? They most likely contain triclosan, a powerful anti-microbial chemical incorporated into a broad array of consumer products. Triclosan is also turning up as a contaminant in rivers across North America, and in the bodies of more than three-quarters of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Should we care? The FDA evidently thinks so. On April 8, the agency launched a safety review of this now ubiquitous chemical. “Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation,” the FDA press release states. “Other studies have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.”

Triclosan belongs to a class of synthetic chemicals that scientists term endocrine disruptors, for their ability to interact with organisms’ hormone systems. A 2006 study found that even in extremely low doses, triclosan interferes with thyroid function in frogs and leads to premature leg growth in tadpoles. Evidence now strongly suggests that hormone-mimicking chemicals like triclosan effect similar outcomes in all animals with backbones — frogs, dogs and humans alike. They can interfere with everything from insulin regulation to brain function.

Since its first use as a medical scrub in 1972, triclosan has infiltrated all aspects of our everyday lives. It’s the germ-killing chemical of choice in soaps, cosmetics, clothing, kitchenware, toys and, not least, dog beds. If you own anything that advertises itself as antimicrobial, antifungal or antibacterial, there’s a good chance that triclosan is the magic ingredient.

It’s magic we can do without. Although “antimicrobial” sounds like a useful property in trash bags and cutting boards, there’s no evidence that household use of triclosan keeps us any healthier (with the possible exception of toothpaste, where it can help prevent gingivitis).

The soap industry has already begun to mobilize against any hypothetical regulation of triclosan, and the famously slow-moving FDA may take years to act. Still, this latest announcement gives us cause to think twice before stocking up on antibacterial chew toys.

That Digging Dog…

Dealing With a Dog that Digs
Written on 06/27/2014 by Brandy Arnold in Behavior Mod.

Posted by: Randi Case, DC, CCSP

Some dogs seem to just enjoy getting down and dirty by non-stop digging. Meanwhile, their owners are helpless as they watch their yard turn into a minefield. The solution for this unwarranted dog behavior depends on the reason behind why your dog scoops up soil in the first

Causative Factors

A lot of dogs dig relentlessly because of numerous factors. First is due to their strong urge to find comfort during hot days. By digging up into the moist soil and lying there, they get to provide themselves summer relief. Some dig because they are preying on small animals or following the odor of buried food. Other breeds dig just for the fun of it, to escape, or due to boredom or frustration.

How to Discourage Digging

1. If your dog digs because he is looking for a cool spot to nest, give him a sand pit or a small children’s pool somewhere in a shady area. Alternatively, you can provide a shelter under a deck or in an insulated doghouse for use during hot days. Do not forget that all outdoor dogs have to gain access to shade as well as water all the time. Of course, most of us prefer to keep our dogs indoors, with us, where there’s no risk of overheating and lots of snuggle-time.

2. If your dog digs because she wants to escape from the yard, find out why she is so eager to leave. If she is leaving to look for a mate, spaying or neutering may be considered. If she is leaving to raid the garbage can next door, give your neighbor a garbage receptacle that is dog-proof. If your well-meaning neighbor feeds your dog, ask him to stop.

3. Pay attention to improving your containment structure. Adding a fence that extends far beneath the ground level could be the only way you can contain your skillful escape artist.

4. If your dog digs just to have fun, try to show him some other ways to play. Give your dog plenty of exercise to keep him busy at the same time mentally stimulated. Play “fetch” with him, or chase each other around the yard! Playing with your dog will not only give him an outlet for his pent-up energy, but the pair of you will bond as well.

5. Now, if there is one specific spot that your dog loves to dig, temporarily cover the area with wood or plastic. You may also change the soil texture such as by pouring water, putting large stones, or planting grasses in it as these could put off the undesirable behavior. Some folks swear by burying the dog’s own poop in that spot they like to dig, to prevent them from returning. (While this might work great, consider first that your dog might venture off for a new spot to dig once he’s no longer interested in this one… maybe having him dig only in one little area isn’t so bad after all!)

6. Finally, you may consider providing a special area in the yard where your dog can dig freely. Teach him that one particular spot is acceptable to dig, but definitely not in the rest of the yard. Well-placed or buried treats would greatly help in directing your pet to dig only in a suitable area. If digging up your landscaping is a problem, consider adding a doggy sandbox, just for Fido.

5 Phone Numbers Every Dog Owner Should Have Handy

Posted by Randi Case, DC
Written on 02/26/2014 by Brandy Arnold in Animal Advocates

If you’ve got a dog (or, is it that the dog has you?) this is one list you’ll want to print out and keep near the phone. In an emergency, when the internet is down, or if you simply need assistance with your dog from a real, live person, these 5 phone numbers should be in the Rolodex of every dog owner:

National Animal Poison Control Center: 1 888 426 4435. In an emergency every second counts. The National Animal Poison Control Center is a 24-hour manned emergency hotline sponsored in part by 36 different companies. While there is sometimes a charge for consultation, this call could save the life of your dog.

Spay/Neuter Helpline: 1 800 248 SPAY. Irresponsible breeding results in the abandonment and euthanization of thousands of dogs each year. SPAY USA is a national referral service that helps connect pet parents with free or low cost spay and neuter services in their area. With partnerships at over 950 programs and clinics nationwide, they eliminate finances as an excuse for not spaying or neutering your pets.

Animal Legal Hotline: (707) 795-2533. Do you suspect your neighbors are abusing their dog? Are you having issues with your landlord or tenants over a companion animal? Do you want to report a veterinarian that you believe is operating unethically or illegally? Here is the number to call. The Animal Legal Defense Fund can help with landlord-tenant disputes, veterinarian issues, neglect, and any form of abuse.

Emergency Disaster Information Line: 1 800 227 4645. Provided by the American Humane Association, this number provides support and relief information for pet owners living in areas affected by disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, fire and more. While not an official “hotline,” this number is manned by live persons able to direct pet owners in the event of a natural disaster or emergency.

Pet Travel Hotline: 1800 545 USDA. If you plan on traveling by plane with your dog, a quick call to this number will ensure you are prepared for any bumps in the road where your dog is concerned. Run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, this hotline provides travel resources, licensed pet transporter contact information, rules and regulations, and also assists those that believe their animal was treated inhumanely during travel.

In addition to these national helpline and hotline numbers, make sure you’ve got the numbers for your local veterinarian, nearest emergency veterinarian, and your local animal control services handy, too.

Helping a Dog that Suffers from Separation Anxiety

Helping a Dog that Suffers from Separation Anxiety
Written on 02/12/2014 by Kevin Duggan, CPDT-KA in Ask the Trainer, Front Page News
Posted by: Randi Case, DC

I get questions on how to fix separation anxiety very often. I wish there was a quick easy answer. However that is not the case. SA for a lot of dogs is so severe that they are losing all control. This leads to urination/defecation in the house, torn up walls/doors, puddles of drool etc.

Firstly, lets get some myths out of the way. When this is happening this is not your dog seeking revenge on you. Your dog is not doing this because he is mad at you and trying to get back at you. This is also not happening because your dog thinks he is in charge and did not give you approval to leave. (The last one sounds silly but I’ve heard that one mentioned on TV before.) It is important that we understand that is a pretty serious condition in dogs that depending on the severity can take from 6 months a year to fix.

Secondly, it is important that we make sure this actually is SA and not just a bored dog. A dog that has copious amounts of energy will find a way to get rid of it. If the human doesn’t give him a proper outlet he will find one himself. Which typically means the dog destroying something of the humans.

When dealing with moderate to severe cases one of the first things I recommend to do along with the training protocol is to get the dog on a medication to help with the anxiety. It is important to have a training protocol because medication alone is not going to fix this. I know that not everyone is a fan of the medication part of it. My response to that is the amount of stress that the dog is going through on a daily basis is not healthy at all. If we can give him something that will help remove that horrible stress and it is only there for a short period of time it is worth it. I have tried using some all natural herbal anxiety remedies and have had mixed results. From my experience they do not always work as well and are rather pricey. When I was going through anxiety issues with my dog I started off with an all-natural herbal product that was $30.00 per bottle and that didn’t even last a month. I switched to a fluoxetine and was spending $10.00 a month. It is a good idea to hire a trainer to help you with this. It is also a good idea for the vet, trainer, and owner to work together as a team in solving this.

A couple things you can try along with the fluoxetine that are natural that could be helpful are DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone), a Thundershirt, and different relaxing music.

Lets talk about how to get the anxiety to cease. The ultimate goal is going to be the human leaving the house and the dog not caring. One of the first things you can start to do is incorporate a cue that lets your dog know you will be back. I usually say, “Be right back.” This is the last thing the dog hears you say before you leave. That means the next thing that follows it in regards to you is that you are coming back. With repetition he will start to associate you saying, “be right back” with you coming back. You can do lots of repetition of this. Say your phrase, step outside for 1 second, come back in and reward him. He will start to associate you leaving and coming back with good things. Each time you do this increase the amount of time you are outside. In the beginning your dog will be very concerned with you leaving. After some repetition he will know exactly what is going on and will start to relax when you do it.

The next exercise is going to consist of some auto-shaping. For this you will need something that has a hole in it like a Kong and something awesome to put inside of it like Peanut Butter. The idea with this is to keep the dog busy and focused on something besides the human. I like to use a crate for this because we can create a place of comfort. Every case will be different though so use your best judgment. The idea is that we are going to give the dog something it really enjoys for a short period of time and we are going to stay right next to the dog. The first time you do this do it for like 5 minutes. After 5 minutes tell the dog “okay” and safely remove the Kong and PB. If you cannot safely remove it do not attempt. The next time you do this increase the amount of time that he is in the crate with the Kong, and also take a baby step away creating more distance. Remember to stay stationary during this exercise. If you move around there is a good chance the dog will notice which could result with him focusing on you and potentially getting anxious. Continue this pattern. If done correctly you will get to the point where you will be able to be out of sight and your dog will be comfortable with that. A quick tip in regards to the Kong and Peanut Butter: You can put the Kong and PB in the freezer prior to this exercise to make it last longer.

These are just a couple ideas on how to help your dog be more comfortable when you are out of sight. Remember to take baby steps to ensure your dog stays comfortable. If you try to rush this you will just end up with an anxious dog. Once again hiring a trainer could be very helpful with this process.

Remember that to fix this issue it is going to take dedication. It is going to be very important to practice protocols multiple times a day. Also remember to stay very patient.

Thanks for reading!

Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org) and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V, follow him on Facebook

Before Bringing Home That First Dog

Written on 01/10/2014 by Ron Miller in Puppy Guides
Posted by: Randi Case, DC

Have you fallen in love at first sight with an adorable puppy? Good for you and the pup, but do you REALLY know how bringing home a dog is going to drastically alter how you live? I suppose the following tips are best suited for those people who have never owned a dog, so I will focus on first timers. Once a person has owned a dog they already have a good idea of what is involved.

There are several things the first time dog owner needs to consider before forking over the cash for the pooch. This is not like buying a new toy or car you play with only when you feel like it. Bringing home a dog is in essence adding another member to the family. If you have never been a parent, or for those with “out of the nest” kids, this cute little puppy is going to become your “new” baby”.

I am all for adding a dog to the family, but first off you need to know who will be primarily responsible for the dog. Taking care of feeding, fresh water at all times, housebreaking, exercising, and behavioral training are chief among the tasks this individual can look forward to. Oh, bathing and grooming also!

Next is the expense of owning a dog. Just as gas, our food, rent, and you name it has increased in price, so has the cost of owning a dog. Is your budget capable of absorbing this additional expense? I am speaking about more than just buying dog food, a collar, and a leash. There are vet bills, vaccinations, grooming expenses, special dog supplies like a dog bed and dog shampoos, toys, treats, and more. Sit down and be honest with yourself concerning the expense involved, because your dog is going to cost you more money than you realize.

If you have made it over the first few questions we should look at where you live. Is the home or apartment/condo large enough for the breed of dog you want? A small living space and a large dog usually do not work, so consider a smaller dog. Do you have a place for the dog to go out and do his or her business?

How about the job you have. Does this work require you to travel and be away from home for days at a time? If so, who will care for the dog until you return?

As you can see, there are many things to consider for the first time dog owner. Bringing home a dog is something I would encourage all people to do, but only if you know what is involved.

All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice

All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice.

Written by: Matt Richtel (Published: November 30, 2013)

More and more, cats and dogs get the human treatment. There are pet spas, pet therapists, pet clothes. And as it goes in life, so it now goes in the twilight. The latest phenomenon: pet hospice.

Denise Fitzmaurice, right, brought her 4-year-old dog, Sophie, to Dr. Michele Price’s mobile veterinary clinic for an examination.

Around the country, a growing number of veterinarians are offering hospice care, and marketing it as a way to give cats and dogs — and their owners — a less anxious, more comfortable passing.

The approach, in the spirit of the human variety, entails ceasing aggressive medical treatment and giving pain and even anti-anxiety drugs. Unlike in hospice care for humans, euthanasia is an option — and in fact, is a big part of this end-of-life turn. When it’s time, the vet performs it in the living room, bedroom or wherever the family feels comfortable.

That’s a big part of the job, the vets say, relieving pet owner guilt, giving them an emotional bridge to a pet’s death, and letting them grieve at home — rather than in a clinic or animal shelter. The intimacy carries a premium, sometimes costing 25 percent or more than euthanasia in a clinic. Vets, and their customers, say it can be worth it.

“They’re in their own environment, not only the pet but the owners,” said Dr. Mary Gardner, co-founder of Lap of Love, a Florida-based company that is one of the leaders in a small but growing market. “They’re allowed to have other animals present, other cats or dogs present, other children,” added Dr. Gardner, who refers to a pet’s owner as its “mom” or “dad,” and has since relocated her own practice to Los Angeles. “I’ve been to some homes where they had barbecues for that dog, and invited me and the neighbors, and the dog was the man of the hour.”

Lap of Love’s business has blossomed since 2010 from two providers to more than 68 vet partners in 18 states. The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, a group started in 2009, now has 200 members, mostly vets, but also several family therapists, lawyers and an animal sanctuary in Northern California that takes in and provides holistic healing and hospice for terminally ill and elderly pets.

“There is a formal end-of-life movement, a formal hospice movement,” said Dr. Eden Myers, a veterinarian in Kentucky who runs JustVetData.com, which tracks industry trends. Of the providers who do this, she said: “They’re everywhere.”

Dr. Amir Shanan, a vet in Chicago who started the International Association for Animal Hospice, described the movement as growing, but still not mainstream; veterinary schools are only now embracing the idea. “There are skeptics out there,” he said. “But 20 years ago, there was almost no one other than skeptics, and that’s changing rapidly.”

There are no formal standards for this hospice care, and Dr. Shanan said there was a debate about what those standards should look like. “The core of the debate is who is to decide when is the right time to euthanize, if at all,” he said, noting that some hospice supporters advocate giving pets palliative care until they die naturally, as in human hospice.

Hospice and in-home euthanasia are different things. Their growth is owing to similar factors, says Dr. Myers, including a growing acceptance of hospice for humans, as well as cellphones, laptops and online marketing that make mobile vet services easier to operate. Plus, she said, more vets offer the services as a business alternative to the high cost of starting and maintaining a traditional clinic.

“And,” she added, “you’ve got people willing to spend scads of money on their pets.”

For pet owners, the financial implications of this end-of-life movement cut two ways. In one light, hospice can be seen as reducing the cost of aggressive medical care, or it can be seen as its own version of aggressive comfort care, at least when compared to euthanizing a pet sooner.

A hospice or euthanasia visit from Lap of Love generally costs $200 or $250, including drugs. Euthanasia at a clinic typically runs less, though prices vary widely, and is even less at a nonprofit shelter, like a local animal shelter. Some pet owners say costs are irrelevant given the peace of mind — their own.

“It was more for me than him,” said Jan Dorr, a bookkeeper in Boca Raton, Fla., who was an early Lap of Love customer in 2010. She’d spent $5,000 on chemotherapy for her chocolate lab, Darby, but the dog’s health continued to fail. When she heard about the idea of pet hospice, her reaction was positive; a year earlier, her own father died after a positive hospice experience. She called Dr. Gardner, who helped make Darby comfortable by increasing his pain medications, and giving Ms. Dorr a checklist of ways to recognize when it was time to let go, such as when Darby stopped eating, walking or interacting.

When Darby’s condition worsened just days later, the vet returned to perform euthanasia. Ms. Dorr lay down on her bed with Darby, hugging him. “She let me say when,” Ms. Dorr said, referring to the vet’s final injection. It was far preferable, she said, to the alternative: “I just couldn’t get it into my head to put him on a steel table in a cold room and let him go.”

Kathryn D. Marocchino, a professor of death and dying at California State University in Vallejo, who in 1996 founded the Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets, said the end-of-life movement for pets addressed what she described as a “sense of coercion” faced by owners of sick pets forced to decide between aggressive treatment or euthanasia. She said that her group got calls from people thanking them, and saying things like: “Where were you 30 years ago? They made me kill my dog.”

Dr. Michele Price, a veterinarian in Northern Virginia whose in-home end-of-care business has doubled since 2009 to 20 percent of her practice, got a call recently about an ailing Labrador named Champ. She’d first seen the dog in August when his owners thought it was time to euthanize. But when Dr. Price got to the house, Champ was doing O.K., and she and the family decided on hospice treatment and pain meds. Later, Champ took a sharp downward turn and couldn’t walk. Dr. Price returned and they set up for the euthanasia.

Champ was on a quilt next to the fireplace when Dr. Price administered the initial sedation. “They hugged him, and told him what a good dog he was. They said, ‘We love you’ and ‘We’ll miss you,’ ” Ms. Price said of the dog’s owners. As for Champ, “He fell asleep. That’s the last thing he remembered.”

Dr. Mary Gardner, a veterinarian, co-founded an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia service called Lap of Love.

A version of this article appears in print on December 1, 2013, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice..

Challenging Breeds for Dog Owners

Most Challenging Breeds for New Pet Owners

BY KRISTEN SEYMOUR | AUGUST 26, 2013
Posted by: Randi Case, D.C.
Many dog lovers believe there’s no such thing as a bad dog, just bad training. And while we don’t disagree that a good owner along with proper training and socialization can make a world of difference, we have to admit that some dog breeds are best suited to experienced owners.

Those very traits that make certain breeds so good at the jobs they were bred to do, like hunting big game and guarding their owners and property, can make them a challenge for someone who’s never trained a dog before.

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

No. 1: Akita

The Akita was bred to hunt big game such as bear, boar and elk. He can also weigh upwards of 115 pounds (or even more), and requires a 20-30 minute walk every day, always on leash due to a strong prey drive. He’s a beautiful dog, but sheds heavily and can be a challenge to train, making him best suited to experienced dog owners.

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

No. 2: Chow Chow

Not known for being particularly lovey-dovey, the Chow Chow isn’t the teddy bear he appears to be. He’s intelligent but stubborn, and may require a lot of training before you get the results you’re looking for. This breed is wary of strangers and may be aggressive toward dogs he doesn’t know.

Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography

No. 3: Chinese Shar-Pei

The Chinese Shar-Pei requires an assertive, experienced owner to train him and keep him from getting bored. This highly territorial dog tends to bond with one person, and can be quite distrustful of those he doesn’t know — humans and canines alike. And all those dramatic skin folds can increase the tendency for chronic skin and eye conditions that a naïve pet owner may find daunting.

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

No. 4: Alaskan Malamute

He’s friendly, joyful and exuberant, which may make him attractive to someone seeking a first dog, but be warned: The Alaskan Malamute sheds like crazy, pulls on leash with all of his 65-100 pounds and is a talented escape artist. This breed is made to travel far on his own four feet and he needs a family committed to a lot of exercise when it’s best for him. That thick fur coat also leaves him vulnerable to heat injury.

Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography

No. 5: Rottweiler

Although he can be a gentle giant, the wrong Rottweiler with the wrong owner can truly be a scary dog. A Rottweiler wants someone to be the boss, and if you’re not taking the job, he will. He’s powerful and protective, and known for being extremely loyal when it comes to his people and his property. Considering he can weigh as much as 135 pounds (and most of it muscle), he can generally back up his threatening growl.

Nick Ridley, Animal Photography

No. 6: Weimaraner

The “Gray Ghost” earned his nickname for his beautiful gray coat and habit of following his owner closely, but the highly intelligent Weimaraner isn’t the right dog for everyone. He’s extremely energetic with no “off” switch, and he’s not happy being left alone — separation anxiety can be a real issue with this breed. He can be difficult to housetrain and a hazard to cats and other small pets, but if you plan to spend many days hunting, hiking or doing obedience and agility with him by your side, you might have found your perfect companion.

Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography

No. 7: Dalmatian

The spotted Dalmatian isn’t just a Disney darling — he was bred to work as a coach dog, running alongside carriages or horses, alerting coachmen to approaching highwaymen and warding off stray dogs. That’s how he became the traditional firehouse dog — he kept the streets clear for horse-drawn fire engines. However, the traits that made him perfect for this work can make him a challenge in the home. He has an endless capacity for exercise and can be destructive when bored. Also, he’s a notorious shedder with stiff fur that weaves its way into fabric (but not out).

Ron Willbie, Animal Photography

No. 8: Australian Cattle Dog

Sometimes known as a Blue Heeler or Australian Heeler, the Australian Cattle Dog is a medium-sized dog with serious endurance. Originally made up of several breeds, including the Collie, Dingo, Bull Terrier, Dalmatian, and Black and Tan Kelpie, he has a reputation for being stubborn and having energy to spare — not to mention a truly adventurous spirit and belief in his own invincibility that will leave you wondering how he’ll injure himself next.

Nick Ridley, Animal Photography

No. 9: German Shepherd

Highly intelligent and a natural protector, the German Shepherd Dog is well-suited to a wide variety of jobs: He’s worked as a guide dog, a drug sniffer, and, of course, a police and military dog. There’s little he can’t do with the right training, but that’s exactly why he’s not ideal for newbies — it takes quite a bit of training, exercise and dedication  to stay “smarter” than he is. And all those smarts come with higher-than-average tendencies toward some pretty serious health problems including hip dysplasia and neurologic issues.

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

No. 10: Saint Bernard

The Saint Bernard is incredibly lovable, but this gentle giant is also a lot of work. He drools (and drools and drools) and is known to ingest items like socks and dishtowels. Because of his enormous size (130-180 pounds or more), you might think he’d like to hang out in your big backyard, but you’d be wrong — he’s prone to heatstroke and loves being around his people, so he’s very much an indoor dog.

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

No. 11: Siberian Husky

The happy and affectionate Siberian Husky is a working dog that thrives in cold, snowy climates. He was bred to pull sleds over long distances, and his liveliness reflects that — a short walk around the block won’t do for this breed. He sheds heavily, is a capable escape artist and has a strong predatory drive, so he’s not a great choice for homes with cats or small pets.

Barbara O’Brien, Animal Photography

No. 12: Bulldog

The Bulldog is generally good-natured and his goofy, wrinkled mug certainly makes him lovable, but the breed’s heavy build and flat face make him particularly sensitive to heat, exercise and stress. He can’t swim, so if you have a pool, pond or spa, his access should be restricted. He is prone to a variety of health issues and some may say he’s challenging to train, but his fans don’t mind — his entertaining antics and laid-back attitude make up for it in the right home.

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

No. 13: Bullmastiff

Devoted and protective to the point that he’d lay down his life for his family, the Bullmastiff has a mind of his own — and considering that he weighs in at 100-130 pounds, he can easily overwhelm an owner who isn’t ready to stand up to him. He needs good, consistent, positive training and firm boundaries from a young age. He also needs someone to follow him with a mop, because this dog can drool. His high prey drive means he should always be kept on leash, and he doesn’t generally love other dogs, so he’s best as an only pet.

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

No. 14: Airedale Terrier

The Airedale Terrier is quite a character. Independent, intelligent and stubborn, he’ll keep you laughing — and on your toes, as he’s a notorious digger and counter-surfer. He’ll bring the same exuberance and joy to playing games as he brings to excavating your garden and eating your drywall. He’s not great with other dogs or animals and needs plenty of stimulation (both physical and mental). It should be noted, too, that this “King of the Terriers” was the inspiration for Margaret Marshall Saunders’ novel Beautiful Joe, the story of an abused dog, which sparked the creation of the modern humane movement.

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

Honorable Mention: American Pit Bull Terrier

Although the American Pit Bull Terrier received enough votes for this category to land a place at the bottom of this list, he also earned a significant number of votes as the best breed for new owners, which canceled out enough of the negative votes to knock him out of the running.

He looks formidable and has historically been used in dog fighting rings, giving him a frightening reputation, but over the last few decades, he’s been bred to love and accept people. In the right home, he’s a devoted and loyal companion (although he can have conflicts with other dogs or with cats). But as with many dogs bred for strength, a mistreated Pit can be a problem.

For instance, a dog bred for hunting, birding, working, or running long distances will work until his job is done, regardless of weather or distractions. When that same breed is kept as a family pet, his circumstances change, but his drive and instinct to go, go, go? Not so much. Therefore, he needs an owner who’s prepared to work with that level of vitality to keep him from engaging in destructive behaviors.

And consider the traditional guard dog, bred to be on the alert for anything that’s out of the ordinary. In his original job, that might mean keeping an eye out for dangers and predators, but as a member of the family, it means he needs firm and entirely consistent training. While some dogs might understand a good deal of nuance — that it’s OK to get on the couch with the kids, but not with Mom and Dad — a dog bred for guarding duties thrives on a dependable environment since knowing what is regular and routine is absolutely necessary to determine what’s not.

One other item to keep in mind: Some of these breeds may not be allowed in certain homes due torestrictions on the lease or insurance policy.

We’ve already shared what dogs veterinary professionals deemed best for new owners, and now we’re sharing which breeds those same 218 experts thought were the worst choices for first-time dog owners.

Please note: We don’t mean to imply these are “bad” breeds, and in no case is any breed friendly or aggressive clear across the board. However, if you’re a first-time, inexperienced dog owner, these are dogs you might want to wait to bring home until you have a few years of training under your belt.

 

Living with a Companion Rabbit

Posted by: Randi Case, DC

What’s it like to have a pet rabbit?

Rabbits are very loving, social animals, which means they not only love to spend time with their humans – they require it. Without human interaction, rabbits can get bored, even to the point of becoming lonely and depressed. While toys can alleviate some of their boredom, they still need human attention and interaction. Many rabbits also enjoy having another rabbit as a friend.

Some people wonder if rabbits are more like cats or dogs. They’re like rabbits! Yours might use a litterbox like a cat and get excited to see you like a dog, but really, rabbits are not quite like either of these animals. Do they “make good pets”? They make wonderful, intelligent companions for wonderful, intelligent people! Each rabbit has a different personality just like each person does. A new rabbit owner should be willing to learn a new language when she brings home a rabbit as a companion. A rabbit will teach you a new way of looking at the world! Although they can be ornery at times, rabbits are wonderful, fun, and loving companions.

Are you the right kind of person to live with a rabbit? Rabbits make wonderful companions for the right people.

Are you patient?
Do you have a sense of humor?
Do you enjoy watching the movements and learning the language of another species?
Does your schedule include plenty of time at home?
Are you comfortable spending a lot of time on the floor?
Are you not overly fussy with your furniture?

Why doesn’t my rabbit like to cuddle in my arms?
It’s important to remember that rabbits are prey animals. Prey animals interact with their environment very differently than predators like cats and dogs. In general, rabbits do not like to be picked up. The act of bending over them and grabbing them by their ribs to pick them up is very similar to being picked up by a hawk – scary!!

The best way to interact with your rabbit is on the floor. Sit in the room while bunny is out to play and she will soon come investigate you. She will like to be petted sitting next to you, but not necessarily while being carried in your arms! If you choose a cage or pen with a sideopening door and put it on the floor or provide a ramp to a taller cage, you can let bunny in and out for playtime without ever picking her up!

If you are going to pick up your rabbit, make sure you do it correctly. The best way is to place one hand under her rib cage and the other under her bottom, scooping her back legs so she can’t kick. This method will protect her fragile backbone while protecting you from those strong kicking back legs and sharp nails. It is also important to wear an appropriate shirt when handling a rabbit to avoid being scratched by nails as bunny tries to get away! Or just encourage or herd bunny into a pet carrier or box and move him that way.

Keep in mind your rabbit will likely be easier to interact with and handle once spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering reduces hormone-driven behaviors like lunging, mounting, spraying, and boxing. Spaying also protects female bunnies from uterine cancer, which can be quite common in older unspayed rabbits.

How about playtime outside my rabbit’s cage or pen?
Just like all animals, your rabbit will need to exercise as well as play. He will need toys like cardboard tubes, phone books, and rattly rolling things to keep him busy. Your rabbit will also need to have anywhere from 30 to 40 hours of ‘run time’ outside his enclosure per week. Be aware that rabbits love to explore and discover – which could involve tasting items in your home. That is the nice way to say you will need to ‘bunnyproof’ your house to protect it from bunny and to keep bunny from getting hurt.

Some Basic Facts
Rabbits can be litterbox trained
Rabbits can live to be 7-10 years old
Rabbits are inquisitive, sociable animals
Rabbits make wonderful indoor companions
Rabbits can purr when contented

Like cats and dogs, rabbits need to be spayed or neutered to improve health and behavior

Most rabbits do not like to be held–they prefer to sit beside you

Rabbits like to play with toys, such as cardboard boxes, wire cat balls, hard plastic baby keys, untreated willow baskets

Rabbits need to have things of their own to chew on (or they might nibble on your stuff)

Rabbits need to be protected from predators, poisons, temperature extremes, electrical cords, and rough handling

Why Does My Cat… Meow at Me?

Why Does My Cat… Meow at Me?
BY DR. PATTY KHULY
Posted by Randi Case. 10/6/2013

If you’ve ever lived with a vocal cat, you’ve almost certainly asked yourself this question. After all, who could resist wanting to know what your feline friend is thinking as she meows plaintively at your sleeping face early in the morning or weaves her way between your legs while crying herself hoarse?

Most of the typical in-the-wild feline sounds—like hissing, spitting, growling, and that hair-raising high-pitched screaming thing cats do when they’re fighting and mating—are self-explanatory: They’re angry, scared, or hoping to impress. But the plain-old “meow” can seem confusing to us humans.

Behaviorists say that cats meow at humans because they want something and, most important, because meowing gets results.

And that’s undeniably true. Meowing works. But why?

Interestingly, some experts say that the sound “meow,” as we know it, developed at least in part because we humans associate it with the needy cry of an infant. But it’s also undeniable that kittens meow when they want something. So it’s no stretch to assume cats didn’t learn to associate meows with requests.

But cats can meow at varying frequencies, pitches, tones, volumes, and lengths. A meow imploring you to open the back door, for example, can sound completely different from the excited, “I’m about to be fed” meow, which is totally different from the meow that happens right before you scratch her right behind her ear at bedtime.

As anyone who’s ever heard two different cats meow knows, no two feline voices are ever exactly the same. But beyond the vagaries of voice box machinery, most of the variation comes from the cat’s own personality. And there’s no predicting how the interaction of any given human-cat personality pairing will affect meowing. After all, when some cats learn that meowing brings them satisfaction, the very act of meowing can become satisfactory in its own right.

So what do you do when the vocal requests get continuous or turn into an obsessive, repetitive behavior? It’s always a good idea to take kitty to the veterinarian’s office to make sure nothing is awry. If the veterinarian doesn’t find any physical problem, you may want to seek out a certified animal behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist to get the answer you need.

But rest assured, the vast majority of vocal cats are not pathologically afflicted. Quite the opposite, most are simply voicing their healthy demands—pleasurably.

This article was written by a Veterinarian.