Surviving Rain & Fireworks

It’s that time of year. Rain. Pouring rain. Oh then a little sunshine—boom!— the fireworks have started. Now is not to late to start preparing your dog for noisy holidays and seasonal storms. If you’ve found your dog hiding in the bath tub, these are not polite suggestions but rather requirements for a healthier dog. Call me for help. Hiding dog

Many practical suggestions for thunderstorm fears also apply to other noise phobias. Today we’ll discuss management, easy ways to prevent stress, and what may help in the moment. This blog is practical advice. Please seek professional consultation if your dog hurts himself or damages property.

Let’s begin by offering the best piece of advice anyone can give – for FREE – right now: exercise your dog more. You heard it here first folks! Exercise before scary events helps dogs relax in advance and can even increase feel good brain chemicals that last beyond the time of exercise. Exercising regularly increases these benefits.

But after you’ve exercised your dog’s body, it’s time to enrich his mind. Mentally stimulating games and toys give you the opportunity to wear out your dog’s brain. What activities make your dog think? Try using puzzle enrichment toys to keep him busy during stress and further tire him out. And of course, teach him new things! Nothing helps dogs relax more than a tired body and mind. Training itself can be a huge boon to dealing with stress but learning new ways to communicate reduces our dogs anxiety while building confidence. All of these are management techniques.

If you have added exercise, mental and physical, and it wasn’t enough, take a step back and make sure you really gave your dog enough exercise. Seriously. Most dogs, like their humans, don’t get enough exercise.

Next, we can evaluate a few over the counter products that can work to relieve anxiety including sound phobia. A personal favorite is the Thundershirt wrap which acts like a hug for your dog. It’s a fabric shirt that has Velcro for easy fitting. It can make such a difference! It’s also worth trying a tight t-shirt in its stead. Note: Be careful to have your dog wear the Thundershirt during calm times as well as stressful.

July Third by Herbsmith

I am am a tremendous fan of July Third which is an over the counter calming chew made by Herbsmith. It’s aptly named – start using the product regularly for chronic anxiety or the day before for specific phobias.

I have used July Third with my own dog on a number of occasions such as extended absences, trips to the vet, storms and fireworks, and when our routine is out of whack. I was sold on this product when we used it during a 6 week long remodel at my house. I’ve been recommending to clients since. Do note that results vary and it’s always a good idea to ask your vet before adding this to your dog’s diet. This one is easy to find on Amazon.

Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP)

There are a number with pheromones that mimic those given off by mother dogs. I have mixed reviews personally but I have had a number of clients benefit. For best results, use a plug in pheromone as well as a spray product on a collar or Thundershirt type product. Pheromone collars are also available but as this is a chemical product the collar can irritate the skin of some dogs.

Through a Dog’s Ear

This is an easy one. Consider leaving calming music on during stressful times to reduce stress. Be careful not to only play music during stressful times or the music may begin to predict stress. Many people simply leave the radio on and that’s a great choice. Kick it up a notch and play calming music for dogs. Try playing Through A Dog’s Ear any time you want your dog to relax. Available on Amazon. We play this CD during every class at Laurie Tuttle Dog Training.

Veterinary Intervention

Ultimately, I am a huge fan of veterinary intervention. Veterinarians can rule out under-lying causes for behavior such as pain and can identify if medication should be used for fearful behaviors. A veterinarian may suggest prescribing something for your dog. If your vet is not familiar with behavior treatment, he can schedule a phone consult with a veterinary behaviorist. You can refer him to the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists at dacvb.org to consult on your case. Sometimes these consults are free. Remember that a treatment plan including medications may require additional follow up and will absolutely require a Behavioral Consultant or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer as well as a commitment to to following through.

An Important Note: Sometimes vets prescribe acepromazine (or “Ace”) for noise phobia. Acepromazine is like a “chemical straight jacket” as it paralyzes your dog so he doesn’t act out inappropriate behavior. Your dog is still conscious during this process. It increases fear levels because our dogs are consciously afraid but unable to retreat to safety. This drug has a sedative effect where many other medication choices do not.

The key is to find out what works for you and your dog. Adding exercise and mental stimulation is great for every dog. Adding over the counter products may help, too. Ultimately if you don’t see improvement quickly, it is the time to find a qualified vet who knows behavior and will work directly with the Certified Professional Dog Trainer (like me) or Certified Canine Behavioral Consultant. Please message me for vet suggestions.

There’s help! Just remember it takes time and effort!

The Pet Parlor

Hi guys! As some of you know, I started pet sitting for Pat Thompson at the Pet Parlor. It’s an amazing job! I drive to houses to care for furry kids big and small. We always potty, always play, always snuggle, and always photograph. It’s a great alternative to leaving your pet alone all day! Plus, you’ll rest safe knowing your pets are in our experienced hands while you go on vacation or just a night out.

A4D9542D-049E-4EAD-BD6A-43F15A0EFE83Contact Pat at The Pet Parlor at 219-588-3628 or visit online at www.petparlorpro.com!

Puppy Class & Socialization – When to start?

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The Late Dr. Sophia Yin

The truth is that puppies need to start vaccines as early as possible  so they can begin a group class as early as possible. Training at home should start even earlier – the moment you bring your new bundle of joy home.

Socialization goes hand in hand with dog training. Do note that socialization does not simply include meeting dogs or a visit to the PetStore. It means very carefully evaluating if you puppy is afraid of something and addressing it with a Certified Trainer. This key socialization period is about 8 to 14 weeks. You can see why its important to get that first set of shots as early as possible! Please view this link to Dr. Sophia Yin’s excellent socialization checklist!  It’s an oppurtunity to explore the things that you not realize you needed to socialize. Remember that phobias and fears frequently escalate. Don’t hesitate to call me to address the issue.

But what happens when your vet says that your puppy needs all 3 rounds of shots and rabies before leaving the house? Just in case, print out the linked articles for your vet. Ultimately make being an advocate for your dog is the most important part! If you live and are seeking a vet, in Lake County, IN, I highly recommend St. John Animal Clinic in St. John. Their contact information follows.

The real problem is your veterinarian may not be aware of the guidelines from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB). The AVSAB “encourages veterinarians to recommend puppies be socialized before the vaccine series is complete.”

Shockingly they go onto say “While veterinarians are appropriately concerned about infectious disease in young puppies, the fact is that behavioral issues—not infectious diseases—are the number one cause of death for dogs under 3 years of age, according to the AVSAB. Veterinarians contribute to these behavioral issues when recommending pets be kept away from possible germs until their vaccine series is complete, the AVSAB stated.” Here’s a link to this article Early Training and Socialization from the AVSAB. Here is yet another link from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Remember socialization and training are for life!

St. John Animal Clinic

CONTACT INFORMATION

8661 Wicker Ave.
St. John, IN 46373

Phone: (219) 365-8531
Fax: (219) 365-1032

HOURS OF OPERATION

Monday: 7:30am – 8:30pm
Tuesday: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Wednesday: 7:30am – 8:30pm
Thursday: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Friday: 7:30am – 6:00pm

Saturday: 7:30am – 12:00pm
Sunday: Closed

Closed New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Riding in the Car

I’ve been thinking about one of our dog’s favorite past times quite a bit lately. The warmer weather is here and our dog’s heads are hanging out the car window, no doubt capturing each and every scent. The problem is there’s nothing safe about this scenario. You would never let your child run free in the back seat (or gasp! the front seat).

Your dog poses an amazing distraction to you as a driver. I hear time after time how Poochie has to sit up front. Don’t forget how dangerous the air bags are! If you are in a wreck and the air bags deploy with such force, you are risking your dog’s life!

While it’s not the perfect way to transport your dog, a car approved harness that was scientifically tested by the Center for Pet Safety can be one option. It helps strap your pup in the backseat safely. No air bags, no roaming, no distraction. Studies have shown that these offer less than ideal safety but they are always improving. Seat belts work by attaching a car approved harness to the seatbelt. It is the best option for larger dogs who can’t be crated in the car.

Dog Safety & Summer Holidays

Summers here and its all about safety and holidays! Get the lawn chair and the kiddie pool for your pup. It’s easy to get caught up in the picnics and festivities, we sometimes miss signs the of stress and the general safety of our dogs.

First, let’s talk signs of distress that may occur during the holidays, storms or fireworks, in a situation with too many kids and adults and even other dogs. Be sure to read the BEET. BEET stands for body, eyes, ears, and tail. It over simplifies canine body language but B gives you a starting point. Look for stiffness in the body or cowering and look at E for eyes, partially white eyes. Then look at E for ears. If they are tucked, your pup may be under stress. Finally the T in tail. A tail waving to high may mean trouble. Just like a tail too low. We want tail about neutral height and preferably wiggly summer time tail! Learn more about canine body language thanks to Victoria Stilwell.

1. Do NOT EVER leave your pet in the car. No, leaving the windows open does not work. Keep them at home or with lots of water and shade WITH YOU!

2. Leash your dog with ID tag at all times. More dogs are lost during holidays than any other time of the year.salty dog kisses

3. Cooked bones are dangerous for dogs. They are usually thin enough to cause choking in and of itself but all cooked bones will splinter.

4. Avoid leftovers. Tons of harmful chemicals lurk in those hot dogs and other processed foods. Not to mention the condiments we slather our food with. Think about the sodium, sugar, and uber fat load. Just skip it.

5. Finally, train them for all summer events. Teach them to not jump on guests, not to beg for scraps at summer barbecues, and even to go to a kennel on cue in the event you or your pup needs break. If you are seeing any of these issues, call me at (219) 973-7538.

Happy Summer!

Why is my pup eating grass?

Its true. Our pups tend to eat that early summer grass. This could be caused by a number of medical conditions from upset stomach, low quality food, or intestional parasites so you should seek out a vet’s advice just in case. A student of mine just contacted me to ask how to get her dog to stop eating grass so let’s help everyone with this frustrating problem!

First off, the simplest answer is usually the best answer. So here goes – your dog probably just likes to eat grass. Which of course changes nothing so we then ask the same question as any problem. If you don’t like what your dog is doing, teach them something to do instead. So of course there are a ton of options but I have a couple of favorites!

Dog eating grass

One is to teach a solid “leave it”. “Leave it” means to “stop what you’re doing and look at me”. It’s a fabulous safety cue but it also allows you to give your dog another cue just in time to stay out of mischief (i.e. “leave it” followed by “sit”). The best way to learn this is in a class setting where a Certified Professional Dog Trainer can coach you through the process.

The other is to take your dog out on a leash and work on loose leash walking skills. You absolutely need a trainer to learn this one but if I had to summarize loose leash walking would be to teach your dog to be at your side offering lots of eye contact. Dogs who know how to walk on a leash will offer plenty of eye contact – so much so they’ll ignore that silly grass.

For more information, check ask about home lessons or our upcoming classes here!

Grass?!

It’s true. Our pups love grass. There can also be a variety of medical conditions going on so you should seek out a vet’s advice just in case its a poor diet or intestional worms. A student of mine just contacted me to ask how to get her dog to stop eating grass so lets’s help everyone with this frustrating problem!

The answer is the same as any problem. If you don’t like what your dog is doing, what would you rather have your do instead? So of course there are a ton of options but I have a couple of favorites!

One is to teach a solid “leave it”. “Leave it” means to “stop what you’re doing and look at me. It’s a fabulous safety cue but it also allows you to give your dog another cue just in time to stay out of mischief. The best way to learn this is in a class setting where a Certified Professional Dog Trainer can coach you through the process. I’ll give it a try. Drop a yummy treat on the floor and cover it with your shoe. Your pup should immediately start sniffing, maybe even licking your shoe. Wait until they look at you and then mark and reward. Much better to see in person!

The other is to take your dog out on a leash and work on loose leash walking skills. You absolutely need a class to learn this one but if I had to summarize loose leash walking would be to teach your dog to be at your side. Dogs who know how to walk on a leash will offer plenty of eye contact – so much so they’ll ignore that silly grass.

For more information, check in home lessons or our upcoming classes here!

Dogs & Car Rides

I’ve been thinking about one of our dog’s favorite pasttimes quite a bit lately. The warmer weather is here and our dog’s heads are hanging out the window, no doubt capturing each and every scent. The problem is there’s nothing safe about this scenario. You would never let your child run free in the back seat (or gasp! the front seat).front seat dog

Your dog poses an amazing distraction to you as a driver. I hear time after time how Poochie has to sit up front. Don’t forget how dangerous the air bag is! If you are in a wreck and the air bags deploy with such force, you are risking your dogs life!

While it’s not the perfect way to transport your dog, a car approved harness that was scientifically tested by the Center for Pet Safety can be one option. It helps strap your pup in the backseat safely. No air bags, no roaming, no distraction. Studies have shown that these offer less than ideal safety but they are always improving. Seat belts work by attaching a car approved harness to the seatbelt. It is probably the best option for larger dogs who can’t be crated in a vehicle.

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The hands down best option is to be crated safely in the back. According to the Center for Pet Safety,  prices range from $150 to $1000. Wire crates will be damaged in an accident. Do not use them. Visit Check out Gunner Kennels to save your dogs life.

And for the record, NEVER, and I mean NEVER, let them ride in the back of the truck bed.

Visit the Center for Pet Safety’s website to find a safe product.

Happy driving!

Let’s Play: Interactive Toys

My dog destroys every toy he can get his paws on… well, just about. There are a few toys that have stood the test of time in our pitbull lovin’ home and many are interactive toys that can provide hours of self entertainment for any breed.

First on the list is The Buster Cube!
This glorious cube shaped toy has not only lasted years in my home, it’s also been a great resource for keeping my dog busy. Fill with dry food or your favorite treats and watch as your dog gleefully rolls the toy around to make the goodies inside slowly fall out. You can purchase one for around $15 from Amazon.com here! Do note that these toys come in two sizes – mini and large. If you’re in doubt about what size is appropriate, get the larger toy.

Next up is the Kong. As I described in my blog post, this Kong toy is big chewer approved. Check out my post for some fun and creative ways to fill this toy for tons of entertainment. Easy ideas include a swipe of peanut butter or cream cheese but can include just about anything that is dog safe. These keep my Tank busy for a looong time! You can purchase from Amazon here.

Raw marrow bones can be another great choice. They are an excellent way to keep teeth clean and can be a safe way to chew away boredom. Watch your dog carefully the first few times to make sure your dog isn’t taking chunks of bone off. Chewing can also help relieve stress in dogs. Do be sure to give in a crate or on another easily sanitized surface. I have found these available for purchase at speciality the butcher pet boutiques, pet stores, and even my grocery store.

Image result for pvc dog toy

Home made toys can be another fun option! Check out some of these great ideas from BarkPost. Home made toys tend to be less durable but are fun and inexpensive to make. Picured at left is an easy to make treat dispenser from a few pieces of PVC found at a local hardware. Get out your drill and voila!

 

Take a moment to comment and tell us what are your dog’s favorite toys!