Wednesday, July 25, 2018

5 Reasons Your Dog is Probably Staring at You – Right Now

When your dog wags their tail, you know they’re probably happy or excited and when they spin in a circle by the door, you know they definitely want to go outside. But there’s one age old question we’re all still asking – “why does my dog always stare at me?”
To cut to the point, there are more possible answers than there are dogs on the planet. Depending on the dog and the situation, the same dog might be staring at you for several different reasons! Through this article we give you 5 main reasons your pooch is probably staring at you.  


Just as you might gaze adoringly into the eyes of someone you love, dogs tend to look into our eyes to indicate they like us. Our fur-friends will usually have a soft expression, maybe with slightly squinted eyes. A study into the role of oxytocin production – the “love hormone” – in staring between humans and their dogs found that when dogs and humans spent time staring into each other’s eyes, there was an increased amount of oxytocin released by both humans and pooch. This seems to indicate the interaction of staring increases the feelings of joyful affection between dog and owner.


Do you ever talk to yourself while engaging in a task and find that your pup is watching you closely, trying to follow every word? Another reason that dogs stare at us is because they are trying to figure out what we want from them. They don’t want to miss a possible cue or get yelled at for doing something wrong. Plus, sometimes they’re just curious about what we're doing and why we're frantically walking through the house talking to ourselves. 


Desire can cover a number of reasons why your pup is staring at you, as it’s based entirely on your specific dogs “wants.” These desires can range from “feed me” to “toss the ball” or even to “I need to go for a walk.” Staring while engaging in a specific action, such as rolling onto their back is your dogs way of saying “yes I would like a belly rub now, thanks.”
Context always matters and, in some cases, can help you determine why your dogs is staring. If you’re seated down for dinner and notice your dog positioned near your feet staring, the answer is pretty clear, they want your food. Or you notice your dog, leash in mouth, eyeing you down from across the room – it’s safe to say they are well and truly ready for a walk.

Guilt / Shame

Another reason why dogs stare is one that is probably quite familiar to all dog owners. You walk into a room and catch your dog hunched over, staring at you wide eyed with a torn-up pillow scattered behind them. There are as many variations of this type of ‘activity’ as there are dogs. Whether they’re uprooting your flower bed or digging through the trash – you’ve just received a stare of unmistakable guilt or shame. When caught mid-mistake or in the aftermath, dogs tend to stare at their owns shame-filled, in hopes that they can get out of being disciplined. 


The final reason we’ve narrowed your pups staring to is that they want you to tell them what to do. In some ways, this relates to confusion, but it’s not as straightforward as them attempt to figure out what’s going on. When your pooch stares for direction, it’s often because they are in the middle of training or other kinds of activities and want to know what to do next. Dogs look to their owners for guidance so you will often find your pup staring at your for their next move. 

The next time you notice your dog staring you down from across the room, pay attention to the context and you might notice that they’re trying to communicate something specific.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

8 Helpful Training Tips from Our Vet

Do you love your fur-friend but can often find they can be a bit of a pain sometimes?
Have no fear, our vet is here to share our top 8 top training tips!

These tips can help turn your troublesome pet into the best dog ever, saving you pain. 

1. Decide on Your House Rules

Before bringing your fur-friend home, you need to decide what they can and can't do. Are they allowed on the bed or the furniture? Are parts of the house off limits? Will they have their own chair at the dining table? If you settle these types of rules early on, you can avoid confusion for both of you – plus you won’t give in so easy to those puppy dog eyes!


2. Take Some Classes

Dog training is not just about training your pup, it can also be about training you.  Dog trainers can help owners who think they are doing the right thing, or don't realize they are doing the wrong thing. Taking classes will ultimately help both you and your fur-friends and in the long term and can become a time of bonding.


3. Reward - Don't Intimidate

At times it seems faster to have strict rules to get rid of bad behavior, but that doesn't help the dog know how to behave in the future and has lots of potentially harmful side effects. Rewarding good behavior encourages more of it, and helps your dog identify what behavior gets them treats.


4. Train with High Value Treats

High value treats are foods your dog craves and, to them, are worth more than any other distractions. Once introduced to these high value foods, you’ll find even your most finicky pooch will start to focus and listen more. It’s important to only train with these special treats as it will keep the reward exciting and desirable, plus reinforcing positive behaviors.  


5. Start Slowly & Be Patient

We bet you didn't learn appropriate behavior in a week, and your dog won't either -- but you should still be seeing progress each training session. If your dog isn't getting it, lower the degree of difficulty by making the environment less distracting or the exercise easier. One of the biggest mistakes dog owners make is thinking their dog knows more than it does. Start from scratch and then build on previous lessons.


6. Know When to Get Professional Help

Sometimes, you’ve given your best and your dog still won’t listen, this is when you admit defeat and get a professional. If a dog is aggressive, professional help will identify the roots of behavior and get them on the right track. The best places to start looking are local dog trainers or puppy schools within your area.

7. Be Consistent

If you use "off" and your partner uses "down" to persuade your pup off the couch, it's going to eventually confuse everyone including your fur-friend. Figure out short, direct commands and make sure everyone in the family uses them for the same thing. Eventually your dog will catch on to the command, making life easier for everyone.


8. (Most Importantly) Have Fun!

You and your dog should be looking forward to training sessions. It’s good to have the dogs doing a lot of things simultaneously, so they don’t get bored. Don’t be afraid to mix things up to keep you both engaged. Get started training as soon as possible, as you'll both enjoy the time that you have with each other more when you can understand each other.