Monthly Archives: November 2011

7 Reasons to Teach Your Dog New Tricks!

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Tricks

Teaching your dog new tricks might not be the easiest thing in the world, but it’s highly beneficial to you and your dog. Teaching your dog new tricks can help strengthen your relationship with your beloved pet in many ways. Below are some great reasons why you should start teaching your dog new tricks.

1. Make everyone safe– While learning to teach your dog new tricks, you learn many training techniques which can also be used to gain control over your dog. Teaching him basic tricks like sit and stay can also be used in life situations like crossing the street or entering a store.

2. Give Your Dog Something to Do– It doesn’t take long before your dog gets bored and decides to take on a new hobby of chewing anything in sight, including your brand new sofa. Teaching your dog new tricks will keep him focused on the task at hand, and will entertain him for hours!

3. Help Keep Your Dog’s Mind Sharp– Training your dog will keep his mind active and responsive. As dogs get older they become less physically active, but learning tricks will keep his mind active and alert.

4. Help Create a Better Bond between You and Your Dog– Your dog will look up to you as being the pack leader, and will listen to you instead of trying to get your attention in destructive ways. Best of all, once you teach your dog new tricks, the both of you will become a team.

5. Show Off– You can show off your dog if you teach it some cool tricks, and your dog will get people’s attention. Dogs love attention and they love being in the spotlight so they will like performing in front of your friends and family. Of course, you will also get the recognition of being a star trainer.

6. Make Vet Check Ups Easier– Both the veterinarian and you dislike it when your dog can’t control itself during a checkup. If you teach it to be calm during the check up, it will make both of your lives easier and you won’t be embarrassed that your dog is acting up.

7. Gives Your Dog a Hobby– We all have hobbies we like to do such as watching TV or playing games, but dogs also need things to do. Training your dog new tricks is a great way to pass the time on a rainy day when you can’t take him for walks.

If these reasons have inspired you to teach your dog tricks, then you’ve come to the right place. We have a great dog forum that is full of dog owners training their dog new tricks every day!


Foods Poisonous to Dogs

By Sally Gutteridge | Food & Treats , Posts

With the recent food recalls in the news, and E.Coli infections, it’s obvious that food poisoning can happen to humans. However many dog owners don’t know that certain food can also be poisonous to dogs. Although a lot of owners love to give their dog table food, some different types of food can be poisonous to dogs and very dangerous. Here is a list of some of the major foods poisonous to dogs:

1. Chocolate– While most of us enjoy eating a delicious piece of chocolate, chocolate can be very lethal to your dog. It’s not the chocolate itself which is harmful to your dog, but rather the theobromine contained within the chocolate. Theobromine can cause different reactions in dogs; if your dog has epilepsy, then theobromine can trigger epileptic seizures. Other effects include cardiac irregularity, internal bleeding, cardiac arrhythmia and death.

2. Walnuts– Walnuts are considered a very healthy food for humans; however walnuts (amongst many other kinds of nuts) can have harmful side effects on dogs and are considered poisonous to dogs. Because of their high phosphorous content, walnuts can potentially give your dog bladder stones.

3. Onions– It’s not like your dog will enjoy eating those stinky things anyways, but you should definitely avoid feeding your dog onions. Onions, especially raw ones, are known to cause hemolytic anemia in dogs. Hemolytic anemia is where red blood cells are removed and destroyed from toxic compounds.

4. Potatoes– Poisoning from potatoes have been known to occur for both humans and dogs. This is from the Solanum alkaloid that is found in green sprouts and green potato plants. However, this doesn’t mean that all forms of potatoes are bad for your dog. Mashed and cooked potatoes are actually quite nutritious and healthy for your dog, but stay away from raw uncooked potatoes.

5. Turkey Skin– When Thanksgiving rolls around, the last thing you want to do is feed your dog leftover turkey. Turkey Skin has been found to cause acute Pancreaitis in dogs. Pancreaitis is where the pancreas becomes inflamed and can lead to bleeding in the gland, tissue damage and infections.

6. Sugarless Candy– Candy may be a great treat for kids, but they are definitively a big no-no for dogs. Some candies contain a compound called xylithol which can lead to liver damage and death in dogs.

7. Sugar-Free Gum– Another one that most people don’t know about is sugar-free gum, specifically those that contain xylitol as the artificial sweetener (xylitol can also be found in human toothpaste and mouth wash). It can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) for days, thereby causing seizures, and sometimes even liver failure. Both of which can cause death in severe cases.

8. Grapes– One grape wouldn’t be toxic to your dog, however one study which was done by the ASPCA handled a study of 140 dogs and the effects of grapes on the dogs. A third of them developed symptoms of vomiting to kidney failure – however they say that the dog had consumed between 9 ounces to 2 pounds of grapes.

If you’ve fed any of these foods poisonous to dogs recently, it’s recommended you contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. It is important to note that different types of foods can have different effects on your dog. Some dogs may be more tolerant than others, so please be very cautious when giving your dog any type of food that he doesn’t regularly eat.

How Hunting Dogs Hunt in the Wild

By Sally Gutteridge | Breeds , Posts

Hunting dogs have 25 times more smell receptors than humans do and can smell odors at concentrations that are 100 million times lower than what we can. This great sense of smell is what enables hunting dogs to hunt very well in the wild. We all know that domesticated dogs get their food from their owners, but how do hunting dogs in the wild hunt for their food?

There are many types of hunting dogs that hunt naturally in the wild, and they all have different hunting techniques. However, most of them follow a general hunting procedure of hunting in a pack. One of the most avid hunting dogs would be the wolves. Understanding how wolves hunt in the wild will provide insight on how other dogs hunt also.

Not only do wolves have a great sense of smell, they’re physically built for hunting in the wild. They have strong, long legs that can outrun the fastest prey and tough jaws to chew up their victim. Their fur also blends into the background making them invisible to their unwitting prey. Besides all that, wolves also have three layers of fur making water run off their fur like they’re waterproof. Not even a group of hunters could out hunt a single wolf.

Even with all this equipment for hunting in the wild, wolves never hunt alone. Instead, they hunt in packs led by the alpha dog or leader of the pack. The alpha dog is the strongest of them all and is like the king. All the other wolves must listen to the alpha during a hunt.

Before a hunt initiates, the pack howls together to warn other packs to stay off their territory. The pack will then search for prey until they find a good victim. Once they find a good meal, the pack then moves in from the opposite direction the wind is blowing. This way the animal will not smell the wolves advancing on it. Once they get close enough to the prey, the chase initiates. A lot of the times the wolves will travel in a single-file.

If the hunt is successful, the wolves will then weaken it by biting the sides of the animal. When the animal is weak enough, the final blow will be given by delivering a strike the throat. Then the wolves feast on their catch. If the hunt is unsuccessful, the pack will then search for another animal. Contrary to popular belief, wolves can go without food for weeks at a time.

Besides wolves, there are many domesticated dogs can be hunting dogs and become an asset to hunters. Some popular breeds that aide hunters include: Terriers, Retrievers, and Spaniels. With the right training, your dog can help you during your hunting expeditions.

Do Dogs Dream?

By Sally Gutteridge | Personal , Posts

You’ve seen your dog pawing, yipping and even barking in his sleep. Every time it happens you wonder if your faithful dog could be dreaming. We’d like to think that our beloved pets are able to enjoy the fun and mystery of dreams, but we’re not sure if the brains of dogs work the same way ours do. Do dogs dream?

Yes, say the experts. Scientists have studied many kinds of mammals in order to answer this exact question. And these same scientists have found significant evidence that dogs do in fact dream. In fact, almost every pet is able to dream.

Dog Sleep Basics
Dogs have the same kind of sleep that human do. They have rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and slow movement sleep (SMS.) During REM sleep, the brain processes events of the day and stores new material. This is true in both humans and pets. Dogs spend 10-13% of their time in REM sleep, and puppies can spend even more. Of course puppies have a great deal more information to process.

Dogs Dream
Humans have consistently reported dreaming when woken up during REM sleep. The brain is actually working the same way during REM sleep as it does when you are awake. Dogs have the same REM sleep and the same brain patterns during that sleep that humans do. Therefore, scientists are confident that dogs dream. In fact, they feel confident that almost every mammal dreams excluding the duckbilled platypus whose brainwaves are different than other mammals.

But what do dogs dream about? That is something scientists don’t know. It is reasonable to assume that dogs dream about their experiences and adventures during their waking hours. After all, REM is when the brain is working to organize information, so it is logical your pet might be reliving experiences.

Most of our dreams stem from our experiences combined with our imaginations. But we’re not sure if dogs actually have imaginations. So we don’t know if they are branching out beyond the walk through the park to new realms during their dreams or if they just get to enjoy their bone one more time.

But one thing is definite. Dogs do in fact dream. So the next time your pooch is twitching, yowling or running in his sleep – don’t wake him. He’s simply reliving his most exciting experience of the day.

Share your thoughts… What do you think dogs dream about? Leave a comment below!

How to Take Care of a Dog

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Puppies , Tips

Are you a new dog owner looking for information on how to take care of a dog? I have written this short article specifically for you so that you can give him the care and love that he needs to thrive in your home and bring you as much joy as possible.

Food is among the most basic necessity to take care of a dog. Puppies eat two or three times a day and grown dogs eat usually once or twice a day. You should feed your animal a high quality dog food, preferably the hard kibble to help keep his teeth clean. Dogs don’t need variety in their diet but for a treat you can offer occasional fruits or vegetables. Avoid feeding table scraps as these can be unhealthy. Chocolate should be avoided at all costs as it is poisonous for dogs in large quantities.

Your dog needs a safe, dry place to sleep at night and during the day. If your dog stays inside, invest in a bed that is the right size for your him and put it somewhere that is out of the way and comfortable. Dogs can also be content to sleep in a crate if they are crate trained, but place a towel or mat into the crate to help them stay comfortable.

If your dog is an outside dog, think carefully about the amount of care they are receiving. Many outside dogs aren’t as comfortable and content as they should be. Your dog should have shelter in the form of a dog house, and plenty of fresh water. Watch weather conditions carefully and if possible, allow your dog to spend the night inside your home or garage for its safety.

Dogs need to be cleaned and cared for. Regular baths will help with shedding and unpleasant odors. Trim your dog’s nails on a regular basis to avoid painful breaks or scratches. Long haired animals should be groomed frequently to prevent matting and to keep shedding to a minimum. You should also pay attention to the dog’s teeth. Certain bones, food and chew toys help keep dog teeth clean, but you might also consider brushing them if your dog is comfortable with it.

As the owner of a dog, it is your responsibility to keep him healthy. Take him to the vet regularly to stay current on shots and flea medicine. The vet can also give you advice about feedings and grooming. You should prevent any dangers to your animal such as removing or avoiding certain plants, foods or household items that can harm him.

Finally, dogs need love and attention. Your dog will love you unconditionally, and expects love and attention in return. Part of loving your animal is training him regularly. Once he knows your expectations, he will be more content and the two of you can live together in happy harmony.

It is rather easy to take care of a dog once you know how, and if you have any questions or comments please leave it below and I will try to address it to the best of my abilities.

Getting a Puppy

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Puppies

Getting a puppy is an exciting addition to a family. They are adorable and warm. They snuggle and cuddle and seem to do everything right. Unfortunately, this is not all there is to puppies. Getting a puppy is a lot of work, and they don’t stay little and cute forever.

If you are thinking about getting a puppy, I highly recommend that you read this article.

The first major consideration for getting a puppy is the time you have to dedicate to it. If you are working long hours, it is not fair to leave your new puppy alone at home. Your puppy will need frequent attention and love and you simply can’t meet its needs if you are not present.

Puppies also require a lot of training and retraining to develop skills necessary to live in your home peacefully. Getting your new puppy housebroken is only the first step in teaching your animal to coexist correctly, so be sure you are ready to dedicate the time it takes to do so properly.

Puppies have a great deal of energy. They play hard and sleep hard. Many puppies need to exercise and explore frequently to use up their boundless energy and have a chance to eliminate outdoors. That means that you will most likely be heading out the door with your puppy quite a few times during the day.

Getting a puppy is just the beginning of a long-term commitment to pet ownership. Puppies are cute and often get away with misbehavior. A full-grown animal doesn’t usually get the same treatment. So, if you’re getting a puppy, be ready to commit yourself to his training and care for the next ten to fifteen years. It’s simply not fair to the puppy to do otherwise.

If you are getting the puppy for a child, you must still be ready to care for the animal. It is rare that a child is able to correctly handle a puppy, and the child will often lose interest in going for walks and will need help with the training.

Puppies have a lot to learn and they are not always fast learners. Patience is absolutely essential when dealing with a puppy. You can expect to take two steps forward and one step back on every new skill or correction. If you are not blessed with patience, perhaps consider a pet that requires less handling or consider adopting an animal that is already trained from a shelter. Those animals are definitely in need of a good home.

A Dog Park is Fun, but is it Safe?

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Tips

dog_parksYour dog is learning each and every waking minute and maybe even when it sleeps. It may well figure out a good spot to sleep without getting disturbed. Either way, your dog will waste no opportunity in learning something; it knows no other way.

This leads to an important question… Who and what do you allow to teach your dog? Each day, I see dog owners allowing their dogs to run around in the local dog park with little or no knowledge of the past history, social skills, or even the names of the other dogs. Even if these same dog owners don’t allow such reckless play, they will often stop when meeting up with another dog, and allow the dogs to mix, again with little or no knowledge of the other dog. I believe both of these acts can potentially be counter-productive and negatively affect the relationship between the dog and the owner.

The Physical Dangers of a Dog Park
One risk of such unchecked encounters is physical injuries that may arise from a dog fight. Dog fights can flare up in seconds and result in physical damage which, aside from being very painful to your dog, can cost thousands of dollars to correct, and open up a whole world of potential legal implications.

There is also the risk of long-term, if not permanent, behavioral changes to your dog or the other dog. Again, it takes seconds, and it can create very big problems. Your dog may, from that day forth, show signs of aggression towards all other dogs, or it may nervously shiver all the time. Dogs can be affected in so many ways.

The Relationship Dangers
A trainer friend of mine once told me, “Give me fifteen minutes and a pound of liver, and I’ll make your dog forget you ever existed.” We like to think that our dogs will naturally gravitate towards us, but it’s not the case. There are quite literally millions of things that your dog would rather do than be with you, unless you are prepared to put a lot of ground work in to the relationship. Don’t believe me? Open your front door and see what the dog does. Chances are that your dog will dash out quicker than you can say sit.

When you allow your dog to play with other dogs at a dog park, you open the door to a whole new world, but a world where you don’t play a significant part, and that’s the real danger. You will rarely be able to compete with other dogs in the ‘how much fun am I’ stakes. Why make it harder for yourself by allowing unchecked play with other dogs at a dog park?

What do you think?
Do you think that bringing your dog to a dog park is safe? I know quite a lot of people who have bring their dog to a dog park regularly and say that it is great. But on the other hand I also know some people who have had their dog attacked at a dog park for no perceivable reasons.

Target Training

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training , Tricks

What is Target Training? It is simply training your dog to touch a target with his nose so that you can control his body movements. It is extremely easy to train and everyone with a dog can train this behavior!

What you will need for Target Training:

  • You will need a clicker, you can find one your local pet store for a $1 or $2. This little device will be used to communicate with your dog (more on that later).
  • You will need a target stick. You should be able to find one at good pet stores, if it doesn’t carry one then you can buy a high quality one online, or as a last resort you can make your own! I created a quick guide on how to make your own below this article…

Target Training How-To:

  • This is very easy. All you have to do is get a bunch of treats and put them in your training pouch or your pocket.
  • Bring your target stick and position it in a way that your dog can easily touch it with his nose.
  • Pay very close attention! As soon as your dog touches it with his nose, click your clicker!
  • Then give him a treat.

This is simple right? Target training is very simple to do. Once your dog learns that touching the target earns him one treat, you can literally move the target around the room and he will follow it!

Making your own Target Training Stick:

You have two options to choose from when building a target training stick – you can either make a retractable or a non-retractable target stick. A retractable target stick enables you to adjust the length of the target training stick – which can make it easier for some training exercises, and it also is much easier to store.

When I decided to build my own target training stick – I was fortunate enough to already have both of my items in my basement. The material I used to make my target stick is a retractable telescoping magnet and a Ping-Pong ball. These items are pretty cheap and can be found at your local Wal-Mart, dollar or hardware store.

To get started, make a slight cut in the Ping-Pong ball of approximately one quarter inch. I have found that cutting into the seam of the Ping-Pong ball helps in having a straight cut. You can then slip the tip of the telescoping magnet into the ball – try inserting it using a 45 degree angle. Once the tip is inserted into the ball – you can then push it all the way down and you are done! You now have a hand-made retractable target training stick.

There are multiple other materials that can be used to make a target stick – I have seen small tube pieces of wood for less than 2$ at home depot, and I am sure you could find some cheap balls at the dollar store. A small tennis ball would also work wonders, and are usually really cheap. In the end, this could cost you less than 5$ – and if you are on a tight budget, this might be great for you.

Becoming the Pack Leader

By Sally Gutteridge | Behavior , Posts , Training

In nature, puppies have a so-called “puppy license” for the first 4 or 5 months. During this time, older dogs will let them get away with all sorts of puppy behavior without retaliation. If the older dog doesn’t feel like playing with the pup, then he will often just get up and move away, or else give a quick verbal signal that he isn’t interested. Only once this “puppy license” has expired do the pups start getting real lessons in manners from the other dogs.

During her seminars, Patricia McConnell often shows two videos of Bailey, a beautiful golden retriever pup. In the first video, Bailey is perhaps 4 months old, and is chewing on a child’s stuffed toy. The woman owner tries to get the toy away from the dog by using outdated “dominance” techniques such as grabbing the puppy by the scruff of the neck and trying to make it submit to her. Retrievers are mouthy dogs and by their nature love to chew on stuff. So can anyone guess what happens after a month or two of such “training”?

In the second video, Bailey is around 6 months old. Again the dog is chewing on a toy, except that now he’s quite a bit larger. He snarls as the owner tries to get the toy away, and snaps at her hand. The owner is still faithfully following her trainer’s orders and trying to get the dog to submit to her authority. So what happens next?

Bailey was put down before he reached one year of age.

It didn’t have to happen! The dog wasn’t aggressive by nature, but simply ruined by bad training and horrible conditioning. Unfortunately, some trainers today still rely on outdated and now proven false research going back to the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.

In her 12-page pamphlet “How to Be the Pack Leader“, Patricia McConnell states in the introduction:

“Dogs need to feel secure to be truly happy; that means they need to feel secure that you will be the pack leader, and that they can count on you to take charge. But being the pack leader is often misunderstood. It doesn’t mean that you forcibly dominate your dog. Rather, leadership is more of a mental quality in which you set boundaries without intimidation.”

The pack leader isn’t always the strongest. Many of you have perhaps seen and wondered how a household with several dogs, sometimes the bigger dogs will acknowledge a smaller and physically weaker dog as the pack leader? Surely that alone is enough to debunk the old-fashioned myths about the biggest bully always becoming the pack leader?

So, how do we dog owners become the pack leaders? Well, it isn’t so much a matter of forcing ourselves into the position as getting our dogs to accept us as such. Sounds much tougher than just pinning a dog to the floor in an alpha roll, doesn’t it? Well, yes, it requires a bit more work, and a bit more thought, and a bit more effort.

During his presentation, Anders Hallgren put up a slide with common training advice that soon had us all nodding our heads in recognition. I’m sure you’ve heard them all, too. Perhaps you’ve even been faithfully following them as an integral part of your training routine…

  • Don’t let the dog walk first out through the door.
  • Don’t let the dog eat its meal before you eat yours.
  • Don’t let the dog be positioned higher up than you (physically, like you on the floor and the dog up on the couch).
  • Don’t let the dog be in the bed or on the sofa.
  • The dog should pee only to empty the bladder (don’t let the dog mark when taking a walk).
  • Punish severely all protests, like growling and the like.
  • Always be sure to win tug of war and other games you play with the dog.
  • Don’t greet the dog when coming home.

These rules are misconceptions and have very little to do with pack leadership. Some, however, do have value in terms of dealing with other possible problems, such as separation anxiety (greeting) or the danger of letting dogs run out of the house into the street (not going first through doors). In terms of leadership, however, none of these rules will help you gain the top role. Pack leaders have a special role in the group and do special tasks. Anders Hallgren summarizes these as:

  • Initiates moving from the location.
  • Leads the group to special places, like hunting grounds.
  • Chooses prey.
  • Initiates the hunt.
  • Directs during the chase.
  • Calls off the hunt.
  • Seldom initiates social activities, but does not turn away.
  • Often is the subject of affection.
  • Finds places to rest, and lies down, thereby making the group relax, too.

What we dog owners should do is perform activities that mimic true leaders in the wild:

  • Take goal directed walks that lead to interesting places.
  • Choose types of activities (courses, mental training, etc).
  • Give the dog a starting signal.
  • Tell the dog in which order the activities shall be.
  • Call off the activities.
  • Let the dog greet, but don’t initiate the greeting very often.
  • Always respond with affection when the dog makes contact.
  • Rest at certain times and thereby get the dog to relax, too.

To summarize, becoming a pack leader in your dog’s eyes will require active involvement and daily training. Are you up for it?

Preventing Dog Food Aggression

By Sally Gutteridge | Behavior , Posts

dog_food-aggressionDogs have learned throughout their many years of existence that they must protect their resources, such as food, in order to survive. They’ve learned that they could easily keep other dogs from eating their food by growling, showing teethes, snapping or even biting other dogs that came too close to their food.

But dogs live a very different lifestyle since we’ve started to domesticate them. Some of their ingrained behaviors are not acceptable when living with people, such as dog food aggression. This could be very dangerous, especially when the dog begins to protect his food from his owner, or anyone who comes close to him.

Some dog owners have the tendency of leaving unlimited amounts of food available for their dog. The dog can then eat whenever it wants, as much as it wants and is subject to no rules. There are a few reasons why I advise against doing this, mainly because the dog does not understand that you are the provider of the food, but also because it usually leads to the dog over-eating and becoming overweight.

To prevent dog food aggression, it is always a good idea to give your dog measured meals and at regular intervals. If you look on the back of your dog food’s packaging, you will find a chart that indicates how much food your dog should eat, relative to his weight. You should also give your dog more food than the maximum amount indicated if he is a very active dog. When feeding your dog, place his food bowl down, and give him a maximum of thirty minutes to eat, and then pick up the bowl and any remaining food.

If your dog has already bitten someone while defending his food bowl, then you should immediately contact a reputable dog trainer or behaviorist. They will be able to access your dog’s behavior and to determine the safest way to proceed with his training.

Training your dog to not guard his food bowl is best done while he is still a puppy. However adults and older dogs can also be trained, it will just take a little bit more time and dedication.

The best way to get your dog to accept people around his food bowl is to teach him that wonderful things will happen when people are nearby when he is eating. Please follow the following instructions carefully, while making sure that your dog is comfortable with each step before moving onto the next.

  1. Give your dog half of his usual meal, when he finishes, pick up the empty bowl and add the second half, then give it back.
  2. Randomly walk up to your dog while he is eating and drop in super delicious dog treats in his food bowl.
  3. Walk up to your dog while talking calmly, and stoke and pet him lightly. Then drop in a super delicious dog treat into his food bowl.
  4. Take away your dog’s food bowl before he is finished, add some super delicious treats and give it back.

Dog food aggression is one of the most dangerous and most common problematic behaviors encountered. Small children are especially at risk around food possessive dogs. If your dog training efforts do not work or show progress, please call a reputable dog trainer or behaviorist as soon as possible.

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