Thursday, April 9, 2015

Someone's Knocking At The Door..........

One of my friends was  having problems with her dog, Molly, a pitbull mix, jumping and barking every time the door bell rang, to the point that her friends did not want to visit. She asked me for advice and I wrote up this plan for her and am happy to report that Mandy has all but stopped jumping. She will still bark some, but as I told her, that is her voice and as long as she stops after a couple of seconds, I wouldn't worry too much. Pretty much all dogs want to let their people know when someone is in their territory and I think it is a good thing, especially when a stranger is at the door.
The following is the exercises I set up for Molly.

You will need to set up scenarios so the person coming to the door knows what to do ahead of time.

Have the person come to the door – ring the bell/knock –

Open the door – let the person come in – If she attempts to jump – the person should already know to put their knee up – Molly will see that this is not acceptable after it is done several times. The minute she stops jumping – ask her to sit. Once she is sitting – with butt completely on the ground – the person can acknowledge her – until then – the person shouldn’t talk, touch or even look at Molly.  Try to do this several times with the same person – once she is being appropriate – ask another person to do the same – and have them react the same way – exactly. Be consistent.
Another approach – if you do know when someone is coming to the door – have Molly on a leash and keep her on the leash until the excitement is over of having a new person in the house. You can give the company a couple of treats and have the company ask her to sit and let them give her the treats.
The key to any behavior you want to improve upon is consistency. Of course this may not work with all dogs, all dogs are different, just like people are different.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Pet Insurance - To Have or Have Not

I never even thought of getting pet insurance until we adopted Opie.  I have had dogs all my life and I thought vet bills just came with the territory. I always had small dogs and never had any real issues that needed more than the standard visits with immunizations.

Then when we adopted Opie and started going to the dog park and to places where it was very likely he could get hurt - I starting worrying about potential vet bills. The very first time he got hurt at the pet resort just by playing too rough (pulled muscle) I realized this could get very costly! Large breeds dogs do everything in a big way - so it isn't if he gets hurt - it is when he gets hurt.

My neighbor across the street has a lab and he paid $3500. for a single operation for his dog - no insurance. A lady at the dog park told us about her dog breaking a leg running into the sand box playing - $6000 - no insurance. I knew that would be a real hardship on us if we had to deal with something like that.
So I did my research - (google is my BFF) and I found several pet insurance companies that were really affordable. We ended up going with Healthy Paws . You can get a quote on line and choose what is best for you and your dog or cat. I chose the best you can get and it is only $40 a month for Opie. It is auto deducted - and every claim is online. We already use Banfield Wellness Plan which is another good thing to have so ALL office visits are covered - immunizations are covered - so with this added pet insurance - after the deductible - we are set. I feel so much better now knowing that if/when something big does happen that would cost a lot of bucks - I can concentrate on my Opie instead of worrying how we will pay for it.

FAQ You can find out just about anything you need to know here. They are several comparisons on their website as well.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hot DIGgity Dog

Does your dog dig? Have you ever stopped to think why they dig diggin' so much? We see it as destructive behavior for the most part, especially when they are digging in our beautiful flowerbeds digging a hole in your carefully maintained lawn. But there are actually several good reasons for the digging (at least good reasons in their opinion)

1. To make a bed - especially in the hot weather days - it is much cooler to lay in the nice fresh dirt. 
2. To store food - literally - that is why dogs bury bones - they never forget where they bury it.
3.Territorial - digging a den to protect themselves or their babies, covering up their scent when they potty and scratching the ground will spread their scent.
4. Looking for prey - they want to root out den-dwelling animals such as badgers, moles and foxes. (these are the terrier type) 
5. Escape
6. Boredom - just plain ole boredom. It is a form of entertainment for them.
7. Breed specific trait

Some breeds are actually trained to dig. That is part of the work they do. For instance they will dig in an area when they are responding to an odor consistent with narcotic scent. 

So - how do you stop digging if it is unwanted - as in your beautiful landscaped yard?

First, look for signs of burrowing animals in your backyard and make sure that isn't a problem they are trying to help you with.

During hot weather - make sure they have plenty of shady areas to get out of the heat, especially if they are laying in the holes they did. If they are outside all the time then make sure they always have plenty of fresh water and perhaps a dog house to get out of the sun.

Make sure you have plenty of toys for them to entertain themselves with - but also play with them whenever you get the chance. Dogs should never be left outside alone for long periods of time. They get lonely, bored and depressed. Young dogs especially have to have an outlet for all the extra energy. 

If your dog is digging in order to escape - then the best solution is to make that impossible. Chicken wire around the base of the fence, railroad ties and rebar is another option, large rocks along the fence line is also workable.

DON'T punish them after the fact. You are wasting your breath. All you will do is make them fearful and anxious and could make the digging even worse. DON'T use any chemicals or other harmful agents in or around the hole. This could lead to a huge vet bill. 

Our American Bulldog, Opie, wanted to be a digger when we first got him and he was just a little pup. Fortunately we were always with him when we took him outside so we were able to correct him verbally and it worked for him. His digging was instinctive because it is a bulldog trait. But we take him to the dog park where they have a sandbox and he gets to dig til he can dig no more. He has learned that is the appropriate place for digging and he will usually head right to the sandbox for a little bit of play digging each time.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tie A Yellow Ribbon

I learned something recently that is probably common knowledge to a lot of people but new to me. I am not even sure that I have seen one in real life as of yet, but if I do - I will know what it means.

A Dog with a YELLOW ribbon around his neck or tied to its collar. 

A friend and I were talking the other day about our dogs and she has 2 Rottweilers. I asked her if she would be interested in meeting at the dog park so we can let our furkids play. Well, her answer was no. The reason being - they are dog aggressive and they are people aggressive and that is what they have trained them to be. They are their guard dogs. So I asked her if they ever have the chance to get out of the backyard and walk or play and she told me yes, but she ties a yellow ribbon around their necks and she walks them during off peak hours so it is less likely they will run into other dog walkers. 

I had not heard of this. If it has been in my studies I must have missed it some how. Maybe I just haven't gotten to that part yet. I don't know.

Anyway  - I started reading up on the idea and it is a very common practice. Not only for dogs that may be aggressive, but for dogs that are not child friendly, may be hyperactive or anxious. They can be recovering from a surgery or have an injury. It is a way to identify that that dog should not be approached, especially by children. 

There is even a non-profit website dedicated to this practice called The Yellow Dog Project and it has some very good points that every dog owner should know as well as anyone with children who come in contact with dogs. It is a good read and I encourage you to check it out if you are like me and this is new news.

*Photo from The Yellow Dog Project.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

By-Products - G R O S S

Do you know what "by-products" are? Really Really are? Whether it is in people food or pet food - you do NOT want to buy these products. For this post I am specifically talking about pet foods, dog food, to be exact.
Now, to be fair, some people think nothing of what goes into by-products. But then some people will feed their dogs anything. They think that since dogs originally came from the wild and ate like the wild then they can eat anything. Today's dogs are domesticated - it has been a few hundred years now since they were eating their kill on a daily basis. I don't understand how a person can treat their dog as  their "baby", buy them nice beds and cute toys but then feed them junk food on a daily basis unless they just don't know any better. Sure they can eat anything you put in front of them and do - but so can kids eat candy or chips every day and if that is all they eat, we know that isn't good for them. We want our dogs to live a long and healthy life, true?

So this is to educate those who do not know any better but do care.

So what are by-products? They are the leftovers of a slaughtered animal AFTER the edible parts have been removed. Whether it be beef, chicken, lamb, hog, or whatever. So think about it ---

the back, the feet, (including hooves) head, brains, stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, lungs, spleen, eggs which have not developed, spine. Get the picture? Gross, right? Of course some people like to eat those body parts and they are even considered delicacies but, yea, whatever.

So - how do they get by with putting this stuff in our dog food? It is LEGAL! No matter how it is handled, refrigerated OR NOT - no matter how it is stored. It is LEGAL! It is PROFIT for the companies!
Then there are 2 kinds - NAMED by-product and GENERIC by-product.
Here are some of the common names you will find on the list of ingredients: which are obviously named by-products.
Chicken by-product
Beef by-product
Poultry by-product
Turkey by product
You find the above in lower to middle grade dog food.

Then with generic by-products - guess what?  they do not have to specifically disclose what source they come from. It gets worse - it can be any of the following:
dead animals - from the zoo, ranch, roadkill, euthanized pets unclaimed - see what I am saying? When chickens arrive -many do not make it and they are tossed in for this purpose.
These are dogfoods that no one should be feeding their dogs. Yet, they are out there on the shelves and sold daily. The very cheap nasty stuff.

So the smart way to buy dogfood? RESEARCH - the first 5 ingredients are important. You can go to   The DogFoodAdvisor - very smart site.
You will find 5 Star Dog Food all the way down to 1 Star and they give the entire list of dogfoods, recalls, lots of good facts. In fact, a lot of my information on this post came from there. I did a lot of research in dogfoods before deciding what dogfood was best for Opie. Actually we went through 4 top brands that The Dog Food Advisor listed but the one that worked best for Opie was Victor Grain Free for Puppies

Now - that is my rant for doggy foods - don't get me started on people food. BOLOGNA, HOT DOGS...oh my!