Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Could Your Dog Have Social Anxiety?

Do you find that your dog experiences anxiety or fear in social situations like going to the park, walking through crowds, or even visiting your friends' homes? Chances are, your dog suffers from some form of social anxiety.

Proper socialization is essential for all dogs and failure to do so can often result in your fur-friend facing crippling social anxiety, fear and sometimes even aggression. 

Anxious dog

The Cause of Social Anxiety

Usually, social anxiety is common in dogs who have received inadequate socialisation during the critical stages of development. These dogs are typically rescue dogs from puppy mills, stray dogs or dogs rescued from neglected situations. 

Sometimes, dogs facing social anxiety may just have had little to no interaction with other animals or humans during the early stages of their life. When you take this type of animal and put them in a social setting, they may feel trapped and cornered. This often results in one of three things: reacting in fear, reacting with aggression or to withdrawing from their surroundings.

group of dogs

How to Prevent Social Anxiety

The best way to prevent social anxiety within your fur-friends is through socialisation, ideally before 16 weeks of age. There is a window between 8 and 16 weeks where the dog is curious about their environment and open to new experiences.

After about 16 weeks, the window closes and the dog begins to fear the unknown. The more people, places, animals and things they are exposed to before 16 weeks, the less unknown there will be. While it is important for a puppy to experience as much as possible, it is also important to keep them safe and out of harm’s way.

Dog interacting

What to do if Your Dog Already has Social Anxiety

If your dog already has social anxiety, there are ways to overcome this and greatly improve their quality of life. You’ll need to move slowly to build their confidence and social skills, but you will get there eventually. 

Begin by letting your dog meet one person at a time. Let your dog initiate contact. Be sure that your dog has a safe retreat they can go to if they feel overwhelmed. Reward them in the calm moments. The higher the anxiety in the dog, the better the treat will have to be. 

Be sure not to comfort them when they are fearful though, as this can reinforce the fearful behaviour rather than help them overcome it. Through steady exposure, you should notice that your dog is relaxing more as things become more familiar to them.

Just remember that your dog may never completely learn to love being out in busy areas. However, they can learn to tolerate them if they can associate outings with the "good things" in life like treats or positive reinforcement.

Teaching the dog

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Why Dogs Shed & How to Reduce it

Shedding can be frustrating for all dog owners, no matter how much we love our dogs. All dogs shed to some degree, with the exception of completely hairless dogs. Commonly, there are three types of shedding; year-round, seasonal and health.


Dog laying down

Year-Round Shedding

All animals with hair shed on a regular bases, therefore causing year-round shedding. Most shedding is the loss of the undercoat, with some regular loss of fur. Normal shedding will occur year round, and will be visible on your clothes, sofa, and around the house.
Dogs such as Poodles and Yorkshire Terriers, with continuously growing hair, have hair shafts with longer life spans and shed very little. Whereas dogs like Labradors and Huskies have a shorter hair shaft life span and more abundant undercoats, resulting in greater shedding year-round.


Long & short haired dog breeds

Seasonal Shedding

Seasonal shedding occurs with some breeds, usually in the spring, but may also happen in autumn. Seasonal shedding occurs evenly across the whole body, and will happen every year on a cycle. This process is sometimes called "blowing coat." When the weather warms, dogs shed their old winter undercoats to make way for a lighter summer coat. This type of shedding is typical among cold weather breeds like Huskies.

Husky - cold climate dogs

Health

Your dog's health may also affect shedding rate, so it is important to take note of unexplained excessive shedding. Skin problems, endocrine diseases, nutritional or vitamin deficiencies, and other metabolic disorders can cause hair loss or change the rate of hair growth. Any noticeable differences in your pets shedding rate is a good sign to contact your local veterinarian.


Sick dog

How to Control Shedding

Excess shedding can be difficult to manage as pet hair tends to clings to furniture and upholstery around the house. As a dog owner, you have probably come to terms with the fact that regular housecleaning is the norm, especially during shedding season. 

Routine grooming is a great way to manage your dogs yearly and seasonal shedding, along with more frequent baths during the summer months. This will help you rinse off the dead hair from your pet’s body, which will significantly reduce the number of hair floating around the house. Furthermore, keeping onto of cleaning will prevent the hair from embedding itself into furniture and upholstery; ultimately making it easier to manage and clean. 


Dog getting a bath