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.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dog Body Language

Almost all animals use body language of some shape or form to communicate with each other. Some mammals rely on body language more than others. Humans communicate with body language on a daily basis without even realizing it at times. Dogs are no exception. A dogs unique body language can tell a lot about what it's feeling and thinking. After thousands of years living with humans dogs have developed the ability to be able to read our body language better than we may think. We could at least do the same for them. A huge percentage of people live in a household with dogs, unfortunately many of these committed dog owners wrongly think that they have their pooches body language down. To them, every tail wag means a happy dog and every curled lip means a dog about to bite. But dog body language is so much more complex than this, and just taking a few minutes to learn and educate people about what a dog is really trying to tell you could very well prevent a dog attack.
To be able to read what a dog is saying through body language, you are going to have to get out of the habit of just reading one aspect of the body, such as the tail or ears. Instead it is a combination of all of these subtle cues that will give you the bigger picture of the intentions of that dog. For example a picture of an exited dog vs. a tense dog ready to bite may be identical except for for the level of relaxation that dog has.I have a German Short-haired Pointer who curls up his lips and shows his teeth in a big happy smile every time he comes home, it's just his way of expressing his excitement. Someone who did not previously know this and limited themselves to just looking at his teeth might think he were ready to bite, but the enthusiastically wagging tail and loose body language would otherwise tell you that he is simply excited to see you.

The main body cues to look for are going to be in the eyes, mouth, ears, tail, and how relaxed or tense the entire body is. Ears back may mean fear, aggression or just listening to something behind them, depending on the context. If the ears are back and the body is cowering, it's safe to say the dog is scared. If the body is rigid and upright the dog is probably being aggressive or defensive.
The eyes can tell a lot as well. the whites of the eyes in a dog you otherwise wouldn't, this is a sign of fear. Relaxed and happy looking eyes tell you the dog is just that.

Most people know to stay away from a dog who is showing teeth and growling, but what is less known is that showing teeth can also be a sign of submission or in some cases like mine, excitement.

If the hackles, which is the thick fur at the base of a dogs shoulders, is raised, this indicates either aggression or fear, and is often seen in dogs when a stranger enters their 'territory'.
The tail seems to be the part of the body that has the most misconception. An important thing to remember, a wagging tail does not always mean a friendly dog. Dogs will often wag their tail if agitated, though you can usually tell the difference between an agitated wag and a happy wag. The full tail and sometimes full body, sweeping motion is a happy dog, while a quick stiff wag with a raised tail is a tense dog who could act out aggressively if provoked.
A good way to determine what the tail says is to look how it is held. If it is raised, the dog is on alert and could be either aggressive, or just watchful and anticipating. A tail held straight out is usually pretty neutral, a relaxed tail is a relaxed dog, and a tail between the legs could mean a fearful or submissive dogs. 

As a side not, fear based aggression is the most common form of aggression. A dog is more likely to bite you if he feels cornered and scared rather than defensive and aggressive. 
There is one last thing to look for in some situations, such as when a loose dog comes charging towards you and you have to decide whether to get ready to defend aggression or ignore the dog, and this is how intense the dog seems to be. If a dog is charging towards you barking, chances are he is not going to bark because he is expending energy barking. A dog that is charging full speed at you while focusing intensely on you, not barking, possibly snarling or maybe even completely silent, is one that could very possibly bite if not handled right.

This is a general guide of dog body language, and while there are a few universal ques to help tell you the motivation behind a dogs actions, every dog is different and acts in its own unique way to different stimuli.