Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why Do Dogs Hump?

Yes, it's time for the dreaded talk. But for some people, no matter how awkward they might be asking for advice and solutions, dog humping becomes a behavior that must be addressed. Some long lost statistic that I once read, and tentatively agree with, stated that only 1% of humping cases is for the obvious reason. So what is the reason behind all the other cases and how can you, a decent face in public, stop it?
The most well accepted and common reason for this unwanted behavior is dominance. Dogs will commonly hump any living thing, including your leg or another dog, to assert their position with that individual. This is a perfectly natural behavior, but should not be encouraged because one, it is incredible embarrassing when you are sitting getting to know your neighbor and your dog starts to hump your neighbors leg, and two, it could cause a scuffle or fight between two dogs, seriously, do you want a stranger welcoming you that way?
Some socially awkward dogs will not know how to interact with other dogs, and may take out their frustration by humping the other dog. This too should be discouraged by distracting your dog and showing him or her an appropriate way to play.
Reason three is simply out of boredom. If your dog doesn't go for daily walks and get adequate exercise, they will more than likely find an outlet for that energy and frustration, and that outlet might unfortunately be with your pillows. If this is the case, make sure your dog is getting at least two-twenty minute walks a day, and has enough (chew) toys to keep them entertained.
Probably the most obvious reason for humping, especially with females in heat, is due to sexual frustration. If your dog is not fixed, GET THEM FIXED! And your problem will more than likely be solved, not to mention you will have a much healthier and emotionally happier pet.
The last reason that I would like to point out is simply and uncontrollable urge to twerk when exited. Who can blame dogs when humans do the same thing? Often times puppies and young dogs will so called 'twerk' when they are excited, such as playing or eating or simply walking across the room. This is a completely normal and uncontrollable way for your puppy to practice behaviors key to their evolutionary survival. If you have a serious problem with this, you can remove your puppy from anything that might be getting them exited and calm them down. But for the first few months my lab puppy would twerk whenever I called him to me, and luckily he grew out of it, no harm done.
Humping is a behavior that should probably be discouraged as to make other dogs and people happy, and is fortunately very easy to redirect your dog from doing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Service Dogs Helping Veterans

Dogs have helped us with a multitude of ways and have made our lives easier for thousands of years. Their more recent feat, helping veterans get by in a non-combat world, is just another reason why dogs are truly mans best friend.
I find it amazing how the bond between dog and human can be so beneficial to both, and how a once depressed and hardly-coping person can come around with the help of a dog.
Today there are countless services that train dogs specifically for veterans and veterans with PTSD. The dogs range from fully trained service dogs who can help injured and paralyzed people perform everyday tasks, to personalized dogs trained to know specific ques from their owner and act accordingly, to the less trained therapy or companion dog who is there for moral support.
Even after training my owns dogs I am surprised by the number of things that a dog can be trained. For example, a veteran may do a specific thing when he starts getting nervous or anxious, like tap a foot or stroke a beard. A dog can be taught to recognize this cue and go lay his head on his owners lap for comfort and support. Service dogs have also been trained to listen to heart monitors so that they can wake up their owner before he starts having a 'night terror'.
Service dogs are generally trained to be able to 'block', the action of standing in front of their owner and creating a physical barrier if their owner feels the need to do so. 'Sweep', where the dog makes a round around it's house when coming home to check for intruders, along with many other daily tasks like turning on lights and opening doors. Not only does this make life for a disabled veteran easier, it also can give them a peace of mind.
Dogs allow for retired vets to open up with someone who will never judge them. It allows them to lift a huge weight off their shoulders and to function in society better than they would without a dog. Dogs allow people to let their guard down, which helps with hyper-vigilance as well as sleep.
Whether it's a shelter dog or a fully trained service dog, it's no doubt that dogs help people with every range of troubles and disabilities, both mental and physical. While any conclusive studies about the whether or not dogs help with PTSD and its symptoms are still under way, dogs have an overwhelmingly positive impact on the lives of the owner they unconditionally love.
'A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than he loves himself.' -Henry Shaw
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015


(This was supposed to be posted last week, but for some reason never did)
Confidence confidence CONFIDENCE. It is the one biggest thing to remember in dog training, and often times the most common mistake. Confidence in yourself, in your dog and your techniques.
Here's a rule of thumb, your dog will do what you expect it to do. So, if you tell your dog to sit when you don't really expect him to listen to you, he most definitely is not going to sit. Dogs are masters at reading our body language, they can tell if we are being serious or not, and act according to that. If you tell a dog to sit in a timid way, eh, he might, he might not, then your dog will be able to tell that you do not mean business and he doesn't have to listen to you because you will not enforce what you are commanding. But, if you go in with confidence, believing that no matter what happens you will get the desired result in the end, your dog will have no choice but to listen to you. 
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It is easier said than done to have confidence in yourself when training another animal, especially if you are new at it. It is important to take a few minutes before training to envision exactly what you want the end result to look like, and work towards that the entire training session. Use clear, fluid movements and cues for your dog, and believe that you can do it. Say your commands assertively, and don't give up until you get some amount of success. You may have to take a step back with your dog in order for him to be successful at first, but with smaller steps you will eventually get there. 
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It is also very important to stop what you are doing and take a break if you ever get frustrated. 
Many people don't realize the importance of confidence in dog training. For example, they have a possessive dog that growls every time you go near his toy. The owners approach the dog, expecting the dog to growl, and of course the dog growls. A professional dog trainer then steps in and approaches the dog with confidence, and the dog gives up his toy without a problem. (Cue the gasps and 'why doesn't he do that for me?!') 
Once again, it's all about the confidence and positive expectations you have. Dogs can read our body language far better than we ourselves can. But luckily they are very forgiving so it's never too late to gain confidence and respect from your dog. 
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Toxic Plants For Dogs

It feels like it's been spring all year now, but with spring officially here and summer very near, it's time for gardening season. But some of those beautiful flowers that you picked up for your yard might be poisonous to your dog if ingested. Here are a few of the more common plants that could lead to sickness or, in extreme cases, even death to your dog. If these plants are a must have, make sure they are safely out of reach or fenced off, even if your dog does not typically eat plants. You never know when your dog may 'accidentally' ingest something. 
Autumn CrocusAutumn Crocus is a vibrant purple flower that blooms in autumn, but, if eaten, can cause chronic vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, liver and kidney failure and even heart arrhythmia. 
Kalanchoe is another plant that causes similar symptoms as the Autum Crocus. 
Image result for azaleaAzaleas, who doesn't love it's delicate pink flower? It may not seem like this plant is much of a killer, but it can easily lead to vomiting, diarrhea and a deadly drop in blood pressure.
Image result for dieffenbachiaImage result for daffodilI see daffodils in almost every garden I come across, there is no shortage of these vibrant yellow flowers in the spring time. But, they can have much the same affects as both plants mentioned above, some side affects deadly in extreme situations. 
Dieffenbachia is a common houseplant that can cause irritation and burning in the mouth and nose, and can effect breathing. 
Image result for sago palmThe spring time Tulip is also poisonous to dogs, with the bulb being the most toxic. It causes irritation of the mouth, excessive drooling, and nausea. 
The Sago palm is an extremely toxic plant to dogs. When ingested it causes internal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, liver failure and death.
Image result for oleanderThe Oleander plant is found in California and other south/western plants. It is a popular bush that is also extremely toxic when ingested. It causes heart abnormalities, muscle tremors, in-coordination, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. 
Image result for amaryllisImage result for cyclamenThe Cyclamen plant causes oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, heart abnormalities, seizures and death.
And finally, the Amaryllis with it's extensive list of symptoms. This plant causes vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, drooling and anorexia. 
If your dog is suddenly displaying any of these symptoms, and you have any toxic plant in or around your house, take your dog to the vet immediately, quick treatment is often the only chance your dog has.
But prevention is most important, if you have pets in your house, do not bring any of these plants home. And if you must, make sure it is out of reach of any of your animals.