Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Training a Territoriality Aggressive Dog – Back to Basics

Is your dog being territorial? Getting aggressive around other people/pets?

Dogs that are territoriality aggressive can be very dangerous and a huge liability for homeowners. If the behaviour goes unchecked it is likely to increase in severity and can put visitors and other pets at risk. 

Maybe it’s time to think about some basic training to help the well-being of your dog and for the safety of yourself and others.


dog snarling


Why is My Dog Territorial?


Like most creatures, dogs are territorial by nature. It is common for dogs to inherently guard resources and possessions deemed valuable to them. 

Some dogs are genetically inclined to have a greater aggressive tendency. This is due, in great part, to selective breeding for dogs that are best suited to guard us and our property.

Other underlying causes of territorial aggression can occur due to the lack of adequate, early socialization or handling exercises and underlying medical issues. Since there is most often a genetic tendency to territorial aggression, the goal is not to cure the problem but to control and manage it in an effort to decrease severity of possible aggressive displays.



dog with ears down



Signs 


The subtlety or severity of aggressive displays or behaviours in response to a real or perceived threat can vary on a wide scale and include some or all of the following signs:
Freezing when approached
Turning away
Lifting of the lips
Growling
Barking
Snapping
Lunging
Biting



dog snarling


Suggestions 


Territorial behaviour can become very dangerous if it turns aggressive. These tips and suggestions for training your territorial dog are a great starting point. 


1. Basic Obedience

Basic obedience lays the groundwork for troubleshooting problem behaviour, and basic commands can be incredibly useful in a tense situation. For example, if your dog has mastered the art of “sit-stay,” you can use it to keep them calm in another part of the house when someone knocks on the door.

Pet gates and a crate will also help as you’re working on the command. Even if you’ve already been through basic obedience training with your dog, a refresher will help both of you focus and bond. Aim for a few five-minute sessions each day, and be sure to make training worth it by offering rewards.

2. Recall 

Recall, or coming when called, is among the most important things you can teach your pup, and for a territorial dog for that matter. You should be able to work on recall anywhere, but if your dog is especially territorial in the yard, indoors is a good starting point.

Again, be sure to reward them for getting it right! You want your dog to know that good things come to those who come when called. 

3. Nothing in Life is Free 

Once your dog has mastered the basics, you can reinforce good behaviour by practising “Nothing in Life is Free” training.

It’s time to re-train your dog (and yourself) that all resources come from you. Again, start small: require your dog to “sit” before you reward them by putting the leash on to take a walk, or sustain a “down” command for a few minutes before being released to eat their dinner. 

Asking your dog to work for everything they want is a positive, safe way to remind them that you control the resources, and can greatly reduce guarding behaviour.

4. Quiet Down 

If you find that your dog barks when they sense a threat to their territory, teach them a command that means “be quiet.”

Don’t wait for your dog to be stuck in a barking loop in the backyard, before teaching them to calm down.

Start in a peaceful environment such as indoors, and gradually introduce more distractions as your dog becomes better at calming on cue. The idea is to reinforce a calm emotional state. This is a step beyond the basics, but when practised and reinforced, a “be quiet” command can help an anxious, territorial dog relax.

Training can go a long way, but while you’re still working on these basics, it’s up to you to reduce potential prompts. This may mean closing the curtains, feeding in a private place, and gating your dog away from the front door when guests are expected. Good luck!

dog sitting on lead



Has your pet ever done something out of the ordinary and you’ve wondered whether or not you should tell your vet?Find out when you should seek your vet.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

4 Things You Should Be Telling Your Vet – But Aren’t

Has your pet ever done something out of the ordinary and you’ve wondered whether or not you should tell your vet?
 

It can be hard to identify when differences occur in your pet if you’re being over protective or just concerned and unsure.

In some cases, changes in your pet can be harmless, however they can also be serious and possibly life threatening.
So what should you be telling your vet on your furry friends next checkup? 


vet, dog and owner


1. If Your Pet Ate Something Unfamiliar


If your fur friend is feeling unwell, you should tell your vet everything they have digested including food, treats, chew toys, bones and things your dog may have found.

Don’t hide anything, especially if you think they have had anything toxic. Letting your vet know will allow them help. 

It’s not the end of the world if your pet ate something they found, however it is still best to inform your vet as it may have been something dangerous. Therefore they will be able to solve the issue sooner rather than later.

cat licking lips



2. Specifics – Not ‘Handfuls’


When it comes to your dog’s eating habits, specifics are key. Telling your vet, you give your dog or cat ‘about a handful or so’ won’t help in the long run.

Exact measurements will ensure you dog isn’t under-fed and suffering from nutritional deficiencies or over-fed and risking the chance of becoming obese and suffering from health problems that follow.

Spending a little extra time measuring your pet’s food will allow your vet to asses if you are feeding them the right amount. Just because your pet is hungry, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be eating more. 

pug food



3. Behavioural Changes



"Any change in your pet's behaviour from what it normally does is a reason to see your veterinarian."


Behaviour is what animals do to interact with, respond to, and control their environment. It is generally an animal's “first line of defence” in response to environmental change.

Therefore careful observations of behaviour can provide your vet with a great deal of information about your pets' requirements, preferences, dislikes, and internal states.

All behaviour changes should be mentioned when visiting your vet, this includes water drinking habits, appetite, playfulness, energy level etc..

sad dog


4. Unusual Symptoms


Much like behaviours, our pets will let us know if they aren’t okay through change in symptoms.

Honest communication is essential when informing your vet about how long symptoms have been occurring for –you won’t be believed when your dog has a huge infection and you say it appeared overnight.

One of the best ways to spot serious medical problems is by paying attention to what is going on inside your body.

Unfortunately, our dogs are not able to tell us when something is wrong. This is why you, as the owner, should always keep track of your pet’s symptoms and honestly let your vet know about them.

Specific symptoms you should be telling your vet are; vomiting, diarrhoea, persistent coughing, hair loss or itchy skin, fever, unexplained weight loss, distended abdomen, difficulty breathing and red eyes. 

sad-cat


Tired of being pulled along by your dog during your leisurely afternoon walk. Find out how.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How to Stop Your Dog from Pulling on the Leash

I think we all know someone with expert-leash walking skills.

You know the ones that aren’t constantly being pulled or getting wrapped around trees. The ones that are able to easily enjoy an afternoon stroll with their pooch by their side.

So you may be asking yourself the question: where did I go wrong?

If you’re over being yanked along, it’s time you take back control of the leash and implement some training methods that’ll get your pooch walking like a pro in no time.



dog on leash


Before You Get Moving


  • Remove any distractions – train somewhere where it will be easy for your dog to focus whether that is in the backyard or even indoors.

  • Short, sweet training sessions are optimal. Keep the training anywhere between 5-10 minutes a day so both you and your pup don’t get frustrated.

  • Reward your pup with treats each time they co-operate with you. 

dog on leash walking



Steps to Calm Leash Walking



  1. For your dog to learn they need to stay on one side of you when walking, ask your dog to sit next to your left leg (or right), with their shoulder in line with you.

  2. Hold a treat in your hand to get your dogs attention.

  3. Step off with your left leg, while saying ‘heel’.

  4. As soon as he takes off ahead, turn around and start walking in the opposite direction.

  5. As soon as your dog catches up and reaches the correct position next to your left leg say ‘heel’ and get his attention with a treat.

  6. Repeat then turn-around each time your dog surges ahead and correct him by saying ‘heel’.

  7. Initially reward them each time they are in the heel position and walking by your side (this will also teach them to look to you for direction). As your pooch progresses, get them to walk for a longer period beside you before they get the treat.

  8. Enjoy your walk and continue to occasionally reward your dog for paying attention and walking with you. Once the behaviour is established, rewards can be in the form of treats, play or just simply a ‘good boy’ when they are doing the right thing.

two dogs on leashes


Are bones really safe for your dog? Find out the answers here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Are Bones Safe for Your Dog?

It’s one of the oldest clich├ęs in the book: Dogs love to chew bones.

You have probably heard through the grape vine that feeding your dog a bone is natural and can help with mouth hygiene. 

In fact, the majority of bones are severely dangerous to your dog and can cause various health problems. 

So, the question here is, should you ban the bone altogether, or can you give your dog a safer option?

dog and bone

The Dangers of Bones for Dogs


The following health problems can be associated with dogs eating bones. These complications can occur in dogs after eating both cooked and raw bones.


Fractured Teeth

Bones are extremely tough and can cause your dog’s teeth to crack and in some cases, can lead to the need for root canals or tooth extractions. 


Oral Injuries

Bones have sharp edges that can cut the insides of your dog’s mouth, including their gums, tongue and other oral mucous membranes. Not only is this very painful for your dog, it can also turn messy. Bone fragments can also get stuck in their mouth and in particular between the molars of the lower jaw.

Airway Obstruction

The entire bone or part of it can become stuck in your dog’s throat and potentially block their airway, causing your dog to choke.

Gastrointestinal Complications


Serious damage can be caused when bones pass through the digestive tract. Pieces of the consumed bone can become lodged in the oesophagus, stomach or intestines and in most cases emergency surgery will need to be performed in order to remove the bone. 

If bone does not get stuck, it can cause irritation while passing through the GI tract and at the very least, diarrhea, vomiting or constipation can occur. 

Life-threating situations can also arise if bone fragments poke through the oesophagus lining, intestines, colon and stomach. 



sad dog

Are Any Kinds of Bones Safe for Dogs?


Your dog may love chewing on bones, however that does not mean they should be allowed to. 

The risks associated with feeding your dog bones applies to bones from all kinds of animals, including if they are raw or cooked.

However, cooked bones are of higher risk, especially those from poultry as they tend to splinter. 

The size of your dog is not a determining factor either; any kind of dog can be affected. However, it is obvious that small dogs eating large bones are at a greater risk.

Although you may have given your dog bones in the past without any problems, it does not mean you will not run into complications the next time. 

Is it really worth the risk?


dog and bone


Bone Alternatives for Dogs


Chewing is instinctively essential for dogs. Therefore, you will need to find a safer alternative that will satisfy your dog’s chewing needs.

No matter what you may choose for your dog to chew on, you should ensure you are always there to supervise.

Specially made dog toys (such as Kong), dental chews and other dog treats (such as Greenies) are great alternatives that will satisfy your dog’s need to chew.

 Be sure to ask your veterinarian for advice on the best options for your dog.


dog and chew toy


Keeping Bones Away from Your Dog


Be cautious when removing bones from left overs.

It’s best to take them directly to your outside bin (provided it’s out of your dog’s reach). 

Put bones in the foods that are toxic for your dog category and never look back.

If you think your dog has bone-related problems, ensure you contact your vet immediately. 

happy dog

Is your cat shunning it's litter box for other places in your home? Find out more.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How To Stop Your Cat Urinating Outside The Litter Box

It can be very unpleasant, frustrating and upsetting when your cat starts to shun their litter box for other places in your home. 

Cat urine present anywhere in the house can make you feel like you are living in one big litter box. 

Present in a cats’ urine are strong-smelling proteins used to mark their territory with a scent that is almost impossible to get rid of. 

In order to help eliminate the potent urine scent and prevent your cat from continuing to urinate in inappropriate places, consider these four steps.


cat hiding


1. Identify The Reason


The first step to solving your cats’ urinating problem is figuring out the reason why. If your cat is urinating in inappropriate areas of the house, he/she is trying to tell you something.

They could be unhappy with their litter box, anxious or even sick. It may take some time to find the exact reason behind your cats’ behaviour, however once you find it, you can begin to find a solution. Here are three possible reasons behind your cats’ urinating problem:


Medical:

Common health issues could be the cause behind your cats urinating problem. If these symptoms apply to your cat, he/she should be checked by your vet.

Bladder stones or blockage

  • Goes to the litter box often
  • Exhibits any sign of pain or distress (crying or mewing)
  • Abdomen is tender to touch
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Urinating small amounts often
Feline interstitial cystitis
  • Sudden urination (caused by inflammation of the bladder)


Behavioural:

Behavioural issues could be the reason behind your cats’ urination problem:

Change Of Environment: If you have recently moved house, have new people in your household or have a new pet your cat may be feeling threatened. Changes within your cats’ environment or schedule can have negative effects on its training.


Familiar Areas: If your cat has become used to urinating in a specific spot, he/she will keep returning to that same spot as to them it smells like the right place.


Territory: Make sure to identify if your cat is urinating or spraying. Your cat will want to mark its territory, especially if they are feeling threatened. Neutered and spayed cats are less likely to spray, however they may have a reason for feeling the need to claim or reclaim territory.



The Litter Box:

Before ignoring the obvious and rushing your cat to the vet fearing the worst, consider problems that can occur with your cats’ litter box. Consider these questions as another potential reason behind your cats’ urinating problem.
  • Has their litter box recently been moved?
  • Is the litter dirty?
  • Are there enough boxes to serve all cats in your household?
  • Is something preventing your cat to access their litter box?
  • Is the litter box placed in a cramped area? Could they have reason to fear becoming trapped or not being able to easily escape?
  • Is the litter box located in a spot that offers them privacy?
  • Does the box have a hood or sides that are too high?
  • Has your cat ever been interrupted or upset while using their litter box? 


outside cat



2. Clean Up The Mess


If your cat has been urinating where it shouldn’t, all traces of the smell need to be removed. If the urine is not successfully cleaned up, your cat will continue to return to its preferred area as he/she can pick up the scent. 

Incorrect cleaning can sometimes wet the crystallized proteins and reactivate the odour. Even if you can’t smell it, your cat can! Here are some tips for cleaning the mess:
  • Clean the urine as soon as possible
  • Use paper towels
  • Use a disinfectant and odour neutraliser
  • Avoid ammonia-based disinfectants (cats will think its urine)
  • Cleaning sprays with orange oil ingredients
  • Citrus! Cats hate the smell of it.
  • Use a black light to see if cat urine is still present
  • Place your cats’ food or water bowl in the area (they won’t pee where they eat!)
  • Place aluminium foil on the area (they hate the sound and texture of it)
Here are three great cat cleaner/repellent recipes you can make at home.


cat on the floor


3. Consider Adding, Moving, Changing The Litter Box


The Location 

Ensure your cats’ litter box is located in an area they can easily access which still provides them with some sort of privacy. Try moving the box to their preferred location and slowly moving it back to where it should be or move it to several different areas until it becomes comfortable with one.


Add an Addition

The general rule of thumb is one litter box per cat, plus one extra. Ensure if you have more than one level in your house to place a box on each floor.



Alternative 

Although an enclosed litter box may suit your decorative standards better, it does not mean it fits with your cats’ toilet standards. Ensure their litter box is not enclosed or has sides that are too high.



Clean Regularly

Dirty litter is one of the first things that will send your cat in the other direction. Cats have a very clean nature and therefore need a clean are to do their business. Ensure you are consistent with cleaning out the box and changing the litter.



Type of Litter

Litter that is heavily perfumed may seem like the best choice, however cats tend to disagree. Studies have revealed that majority of cats prefer a loose, clumping and unscented clay litter containing activated charcoal.


cat in box


4. Love Your Cat No Matter What



  • If you have a new guest in the house (cat, dog, baby, roommate) or other changes, give him/her time to adjust and get used to the change.
  • Moving to a new home is not only a big change in your life, but also your cats’. Your cat will have to adjust to a new territory and maybe a new scent from a former tenant’s pet. You will need to ensure you remove all odours so your cat doesn’t feel the need to mark its territory.
  • Make sure you are giving your cat extra, affection, attention and praise.
  • Reassure him/her that they are loved and an important part of the family.


cat and owner cuddling


What Not To Do:


Training your cat to continue to use their litter box is all about patience, not punishment. Here is what not to do:


  • Rub your cat’s nose in its urine or faeces
  • Yell at your cat or physically drag them to their litter box
  • Place their litter box where they eat and/or drink

Hopefully these tips help with keeping your kitty in its litter box and out of your living room!

Wondering why your dog is channelling their inner cow and eating grass? Here's why. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Take Your Dog To Work Day - 23rd of June 2017

Take Your Dog to Work Day (TYDTWD) will take place all around the world on Friday the 23rd of June 2017.

TYDTWD was created to celebrate the companionship dogs provide and, and just as importantly,- to encourage adoptions from rescue groups and local shelters.

On this special day, employers are asked to open their businesses to pet dogs to promote the benefits of pet ownership and encourage the adoption of animals.

Are you going to participate and take your dog to work on June 23rd? Here's why we think you should.

There are  a number of physical and mental health benefits associated with bringing your canine companion to your work.

Yep, that's right. Both workers and dogs in an office environment can be a very positive experience. However there are a few guidelines that should be followed before allowing your pooch to join you at work.

Here are some tips for the special day, three key benefits taking your dog to work can bring you, as well as how you can work on convincing your boss.



dog and girl at computer


Before Taking Your Dog Work


  • Ensure you check with the entire office that it is appropriate to bring your dog into your workplace and that it will not affect the health and well-being of your fellow co-workers. 

  • Unfortunately, some work environments may not be safe or fitting for dogs. If this is the case you could plan an alternate celebration with your co-workers such as a meet up at the park. 


  • Make sure your dog has been micro chipped, wears an ID tag and is up to date with all needed vaccinations.


  • Your dog should only enter the workplace if they have been well socialised with other dogs and people and do not have aggressive tendencies. 

man holding dog showing girl




    In the Workplace


    • Take your dog’s favourite things with you, including their bed, blanket, toys, food and water. This will help them to feel comfortable in the new environment and preoccupied while you are working. However, keep an eye on their belongings to ensure they don’t become a tripping hazard.

    • Dogs should stay at the work area of their owner, or if needed, another chosen persons’ work area. Depending on the behaviour of the specific dog, they may also need to be tied on a leash to their designated area for the day. This will ensure they can’t go wandering off to possible unsafe or unsuitable areas.

    • When you first arrive at work with your pooch, ensure you allow some time for them to meet and greet with other dogs and your co-workers. 

    • Allow breaks in the day to take your dog to the toilet and on small walks.

    • Be prepared to clean up after your dog. Accidents may occur in new environments due to excitement and from being confused. This can be minimised with frequent toilet breaks; however, accidents may still occur and if they do, ensure you do not punish your pooch.

    • Keep your dog out of kitchen areas. If they do happen to enter the area, have treats on hand and lour them back, rewarding them when they come to you.

    • Reward your dog for their calm behaviour in the office. They will more likely continue to behave if they are rewarded for their behaviour. 


      man and dog at desk


      3 Key Benefits of Taking Your Dog to Work


      1. They can keep you active

      Dogs in the office increase opportunities for exercise, giving dog owners an excuse to get out of the office take a walk. 

      It has been proven by research that remaining seated for long periods of time is bad for your health and can be linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and even premature death.

      It has been discovered that most adults spend more than seven hours per day sitting or lying. Therefore, taking regular breaks away from your work station is a very important part of your day.

      This is where your dog comes in handy. They are a constant reminder for you to get up, stretch and to take a break from your screen.



      2. They can reduce stress

      If you frequently find yourself in need of a mental breather in the office then you may just need you dog.

      Petting or playing with an animal can boost levels of the stress-reducing hormone (oxytocin) and reduce production of the stress hormone (cortisol).

      A study conducted on workplace health management discovered that access to dogs creates a calming influence and reduces the levels of stress. This included a person having access to their own dog or another person’s dog.



      3. They Can Improve Job Satisfaction

      A study conducted at the Virginian Commonwealth University focused on a manufacturing company that allowed their employees to bring their pets to work. 

      Lead author of the study, Randolph Barker praised dogs for their positive impact on the workplace which they found boosted confidence and the performance of employees.

      He compared the differences of stress between days when a dog was and wasn’t at the workplace, discovering that there was a significant difference with the majority of employees being much more satisfied with their jobs on day dogs were present. 

      Taking your dog into the workplace isn’t just benefiting you – it’s also benefiting your pooch! Their day at work will assist in developing their confidence in public and social interactions and exercise them mentally, which is equal of importance to physical exercise.

      Everyone’s a winner!



      girl and dog at desk



      Convincing the Boss


      If your boss is sitting on the fence about letting you and your employees bring your dogs to work for the day consider sliding these points into conversation.


      • The background and purpose of bring your dog to work day
        Remember that bringing your dog to work day is all for a good cause, promoting the adoption of dogs from shelters and to thank your pooch for their companionship.

      • Benefits of dogs in the workplace
        Dogs in the workplace can bring so many physical and mental benefits to you and employees.

      • Media attention for the company
        Each year, media outlets from across the United States and abroad contact Pet Sitters International, creator of Take Your Dog To Work Day®, to request to be connected with participating businesses. If your company will be allowing dogs at work on Take Your Dog To Work Day (or anytime during Take Your Pet To Work Week™, June 19-23) and you would like the media notified about your participation, complete this form.

      • Let them read this articleThis article contains everything you need to know about bringing your dog to work day and what the point of it is.


        man woman and dog at desk



        So remember to save the date and bring your pooch to work on Friday the 23rd of June!

        Wednesday, May 24, 2017

        Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

        Many dogs love to channel their inner cow and munch away on grass. For some, it may even be a part of their daily routine. They may even be particular about what type of grass they eat.

        Are they hungry? Sick? Is it bad for them? Are they bored? 

        Firstly, don’t fret, you’re not the only one confused or concerned, especially if your pooch is vomiting after munching away at your lawn.

        Fortunately, experts believe it isn’t something you should be worried about. 

        So why do they do it?


        happy dog



        They Are Scavengers


        It is a common misconception that dogs’, like cats are carnivores, when in fact they are omnivores. For thousands of years, dogs have been known as opportunistic scavengers that will consume anything that fulfils their basic dietary requirements. 

        Due to domestication and evolution, the modern-day dog is no longer like their ancestors who would frequently eat the whole of their prey, including the stomach contents of plant-eating animals. 


        Today, dogs seek out plants as an alternative food source with grass being the most common as it is closest at hand. 



        dog running in field



        Needed Nutrients


        Grass has essential nutrients that your dog may be craving, especially if they are being fed a commercial diet. If your dog has increased the amount of grass it eats, they may be lacking in fibre. In this case, you might want to consider introducing cooked vegetables into your dog’s diet. 

        If your dog just enjoys munching on grass here and there, you may want to buy a small grass tray just for them. This will give your dog a safe piece of grass to nibble on, free from possible pesticides. 



        dog lying in grass




        Vomiting After Eating Grass


        If your dog has a gassy or upset stomach it will seek out a natural remedy to cure it, and for them, grass seems to do the trick. When consumed, the grass blades can tickle the throat and stomach lining and in return, this sensation can cause a dog to vomit. This is more likely to happen if the grass is gulped down rather than chewed. If your dog occasionally nibbles on grass with no symptoms then they may just be enjoying it or they may have needed to add a little more fibre to their diet.

        However, if your dog is ingesting large amounts of grass at a time and gulping it down, they may be unwell. 

        If other symptoms occur including, licking its lips, salivating or swallowing a lot, frequent diarrhoea or your dog is vomiting more than once a week you should seek your vet for advice.



        boxer dog in grass


        Did you know the "alpha pack leader behaviour" is actually a myth? Read more here