Archive for May, 2008
Dog bites are a serious problem in the United States. Each year, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Around 17 percent of these people require medical care. And in approximately 10-20 tragic cases per year, the bite victim is killed. The CDC has labeled dog bites in America an “epidemic.”The ten breeds involved in the most lethal attacks over the past ten years are pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds, huskies, malamutes, Dobermans, chow chows, St. Bernards, Great Danes, and Akitas.In response to this growing problem, some communities have banned ownership of certain dogs that are perceived as dangerous, particularly pit bulls and rottweilers. Are some breeds really more dangerous than others?
Breed characteristics: It’s difficult to determine just how much a dog’s genetics determine his behavior, just like it’s hard to know how much of a person’s personality is nature and how much is nurture. It’s true that some breeds were bred to perform tasks that require more aggression than others. Pit bulls, for example, were bred to fight dogs and other animals for sport. Some people theorize that pit bulls’ genetics make them more prone to violence than other dogs, and pit bulls have in fact been involved in more fatal attacks than any other dog over the past 20 years. But breeds that are not bred for aggression, including golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, and Yorkshire terriers, have been involved in fatal attacks as well.It’s also true that some breeds simply have more ability to injure people than others do. Though it’s no more likely to bite than a smaller dog, if it does bite, a Great Dane can do much more damage than a Maltese, for example. (Even very small breeds can be dangerous to children, however.)A study performed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the CDC, and the Humane Society of the United States, analyzed dog bite statistics from the last 20 years and found that the statistics don’t show that any breeds are inherently more dangerous than others. The study showed that the most popular large breed dogs at any one time were consistently on the list of breeds that bit fatally. There were a high number of fatal bites from Doberman pinschers in the 1970s, for example, because Dobermans were very popular at that time and there were more Dobermans around, and because Dobermans’size makes their bites more dangerous. The number of fatal bites from pit bulls rose in the 1980s for the same reason, and the number of bites from rottweilers in the 1990s. The study also noted that there are no reliable statistics for nonfatal dog bites, so there is no way to know how often smaller breeds are biting.This study supports what many veterinarians have believed for years: nearly any dog can be aggressive or nonaggressive, depending on his training and environment. Owners play a big part in making sure that their pet is safe around other people. There are several steps you can take to help ensure that your dog isn’t dangerous.
Restrain your pet. Unrestrained dogs cause about 82 percent of all fatal bites. Keeping your dog on a strong leash whenever you’re in public is a big first step toward preventing bites. Also, don’t encourage strangers to interact with your dog; strangers and a strange environment may startle him. If you leave your dog alone outdoors, your yard needs to be enclosed with a six- to eight-foot fence, depending on your dog’s size.
Socialize your puppy. Once your pup has been fully vaccinated and he has your veterinarian’s okay, take him to puppy classes, the park, and the pet store. Take him anywhere where he can interact with people and other dogs in a nonthreatening environment. Praise him when he interacts well with others.
Spay or neuter your dog. Intact (non-neutered) male dogs are responsible for approximately 80 percent of fatal bites. When dogs are altered, they lose some of their territorial instincts, including a lot of their territorial aggression.
Train him not to bite. Dogs will mouth, chew, and bite everything from your hands to your furniture until you teach them that it’s inappropriate. If your dog is biting you, or growling at you or other family members, distract him with a quick sound, such as a clap or a sharp “ow!” Then redirect his attention to a chewable dog treat, such as bully sticks, pig ears, cow ears and sweet potato dog treats. Be sure to reward him with dog treats when you catch him chewing on the right things.
Watch your dog’s behavior. This may be the most important part of preventing your dog from biting. It’s easy for owners to be in denial that their sweet, furry Fido may be a threat. But if your dog exhibits any of the following behaviors, it’s time for your veterinarian’s help: growling at, snapping at, or biting family members; growling or snapping at strangers; or extreme fear of strangers.
If you see signs that your dog could be aggressive or dangerous, you can ask your veterinarian to refer you to a veterinary behavioral specialist. While your dog is being treated for aggression, be careful with him in public. Be sure to warn strangers to use caution if they interact with him.Following these directions won’t guarantee that your dog won’t bite, but they’ll certainly make it less likely. Any dog that is well restrained and well trained can be perfectly safe, regardless of breed. The truth is, an irresponsible owner is much more dangerous than any dog.
Crate training is an excellent way to teach your dog good behavior, as well as give your dog his own space. Benefits of crate training include:
- Prevents damage to your furniture and other household valuables while you are away or sleeping
- Helps you teach your dog proper chewing and elimination (bathroom) behavior
- Provides security for your dog and safety for young children in your home
- Easy traveling
- Improves your relationship with your dog
Before you begin crate training, keep in mind that the crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in. Pet stores carry many different sizes of crates so you can find the one that best fits your dog. You should place the crate in a room where there is activity, i.e. your family room, because dogs are social animals. Finally, the crate should be used as your pet’s retreat, or “sanctuary” — it should not be used for punishment. Use the crate to avoid problems such as chewing and jumping before they occur, and use a separate space if you wish to put your dog in “time out.”
Crate Training Puppies
Begin crate training with your puppy early in the day so he has the whole day to adapt to the crate. Place his favorite treats or toys, such as bully sticks, in his crate to motivate him to enter the crate on his own. The first time you confine your puppy to the crate he should be ready to take a nap, so schedule this for after a play or exercise session and after he has gone to the bathroom. Leave the room but stay close enough to be able to hear him. It is normal for your puppy to cry or whine at first, but never reward him by letting him out when he cries. It may be difficult, but you must ignore his cries until they stop before you release him from the crate.
If your puppy does not quiet down on his own, you may try lightly scolding him, but be sure not to scold him excessively. Harsh scolding could lead to fear and anxiety, and exacerbate the crying or cause your puppy to soil the crate. Be sure to stay out-of-sight when scolding your puppy so he doesn’t learn to associate the correction with your presence. Try squirting him with a water sprayer or shake a can with pebbles or coins to interrupt his cries.
Crate Training Adult Dogs
Except for the introduction of your dog to his crate, crate training an adult dog is similar to crate training a puppy. Set up your dog’s crate in his feeding area and leave the door open for a few days. Place food, treats and toys in the crate so the dog is motivated to enter on his own. Close the crate door only after your dog fully enters the crate on his own.
As with puppies, your dog may cry or whine at first. Use the same correction methods given for training puppies with your dog. Gradually increase the amount of time that your dog must remain quiet in the crate before you release and reward him.
What is adolescent chewing?
Adolescent chewing (or exploratory chewing as it is also known) commonly occurs in dogs between puppyhood and adulthood at 7-12 months of age.
This chewing stage can last for up to 6 months.
Adolescent chewing is different from puppy teething since it happens after all the needle-like puppy teeth have fallen out. Adolescent dogs often have an uncontrollable urge to chew. This could be because of discomfort in their gums as their adult teeth are settling into the jawbone.
This kind of chewing also occurs as the young dog is attempting to find out about his environment and discover new things.
Other reasons for chewing:
An unbalanced diet – if a dog does not have enough calcium in his diet, for example, he may try to compensate by chewing stones or plaster. Puppies and dogs of all ages should be fed a balanced diet, according to their age, weight, health status and the amount of exercise they receive. You should consult your vet for advice on the best diet to feed your dog.
Attention-seeking – if your dog learns that by picking something up in his mouth (such as a TV remote control) you get up and chase him round the room, he will quickly learn that this is a great way to get your attention.
Distress at being left alone – some dogs cannot cope with being separated from their owners and can be destructive when left.
Puppy teething – occurs from 3-7 months of age. During this time, puppies have an uncontrollable urge to chew things to relieve some of the discomfort in their gums. Chewing also facilitates the removal of puppy teeth, and the eruption of the adult set. Giving the dog chewable treats, such as bully sticks will also help keep the dog busy and focused on one thing.
Boredom – Dogs that are left alone for long periods or receive inadequate mental and physical stimulation are likely to become bored. Working breeds, such as Springer Spaniels, that have naturally high activity levels become easily bored in the wrong home, which can lead to destructive behaviour when left.
Young dogs that have been kennelled during their adolescent months, and therefore prevented from carrying out normal chewing and exploratory behaviours, will often chew when they then go to live in a normal home environment.
This can occur with dogs that have been kept in barren quarantine, rescue, working or boarding kennels. In these dogs the adolescent chewing stage may be prolonged.
What makes bully sticks different from eachother?
While most bully sticks may cosmetically appear to be the same, often they are not. Many bully sticks on the market today are processed and treated in different ways. The most popular, and cheapest way to process bully sticks is to lay them on roofs, or other hot surfaces, where they bake in the sun until dried. This is not the most sanitary nor the best practice. Although cheap, it does not properly drain all of the blood and/or urine from the bully stick. It also makes it easier for bacteria and other parasites to enter the product, creating a stronger smell. The best method, and the method that we promote, is to hang them vertically in enclosed processing areas. This ensures that all of the blood, urine, and other liquid can properly drain, leaving less of an odor than those layed in the sun to bake and dry.
How do we keep our costs for bully sticks low? We obtain our bully sticks from Venezuela, Argentina, and other South American countries, where they are fully inspected and approved by the FDA and USDA before entering the USA. The cattle practices are much more ”natural” in these areas, and they are allowed to roam “free range” in lush green pastures. They are not given hormones or other chemicals in order to increase their growth rate. Many cattle in the USA are kept in feed lots, are much more expensive, and are given way too many chemicals throughout their lifetime.
Most bully sticks that major pet retailers sell are irradiated, or chemically treated (with bleach). This completely removes all of the odor and kills any disease that might be in the product. This may sound like a safe practice, but it is not recommended to feed your dog “irradiated” products. There are other more “natural” methods to ensure the product is rid of bacteria or other contaminants, such as oven baking or roasting. Our products are fully lab tested and approved for distribution in the USA. If you are concerned about purchasing from a major pet store or retailer, make sure you ask them the method of treatment for bacteria removal in the product.
Few things in life are prettier than watching a well-trained dog and one of the basic commands is the sit command. There are several methods of teaching your dog to sit. Two of the most popular are the Click and the Compulsory methods. The Click method is based again on purely positive reinforcement while the Compulsory method uses both positive and negative reinforcements. Let’s begin our discussion with the easier of the two, The Click Method.The Click Method of training a dog to sit is based upon rewarding the animal for the desired behavior. It gets its name from the idea that some audible queue is used to alert the animal of a pending reward with many trainers using a device called a clicker for this purpose. Whenever the audible queue is given, the reward follows immediately. To train a dog to sit by this method requires little effort on the trainers’ part. One begins by lavishing the dog with several dog treats, one right after the other while giving the audible queue.
Then abruptly stop the shower of treats and wait for the animal to direct its attention to you. Now display a treat and give the audible queue as you give the treat to the pet. Now hold another treat at chest level so that the dog must look up to see the treat. After a few minutes, your pet will likely sit down on its haunches because this position makes it much easier to watch the treat. Immediately, when this happens, give the audible queue and reward the pet. Repeat this lesson several times.
After a while you will notice your pet sitting in anticipation of the click and the reward so it is now time to add your verbal command to the routine. When the dog begins to sit, say “sit”. This will gradually teach the dog that the command precedes the action and they will learn the meaning of the command in this way. After some practice and a bit of patience, your dog should begin to sit without having to see a reward being offered.Now let’s discuss the more traditional method of training. The Compulsory Method. This is the method grand dad used on his dogs. Tell the puppy to sit while enforcing it. Saying the verbal command “sit” and pushing down on the puppy’s tail section to make it contact the floor accomplish the lesson. With some dogs you might have to hold their chin up during this process or they will go ahead and lie down. The object behind the lesson is to teach the pup when you say “sit” that there is no other choice but to sit and so eventually the animal will respond on its own rather than having to be coaxed into position.
Some owners use a tool called a choke collar for this training method. They will leash the dog with the choke collar in place and upon the sit command push the dog down. At the same time they will hold the choke collar down by way of the leash allowing only enough slack for the dog to sit but not stand up. If the dog tries to stand the choke collar tightens around the animals’ neck producing extreme discomfort.
The author does not recommend this method as it can produce a nervous and fearful animal, which can become quite aggressive when it feels threatened. Such training also makes leash training much more difficult as it teaches the animal to fear the leash because of the pain inflicted by it. This also tends to lessen the bond between master and dog because the dog comes to associate the master with the pain and discomfort as well and may lash out at the owner or others if the treatment continues.In whichever method you choose for training your pet, one thing remains constant. Always be consistent. Also be sure to pour lavish affection upon your pet for good behaviors and responses as this improves their bond to you and makes them desire to please you more fully. With a moderate amount of time and patience, your dog will be rivaling any animal presented at the local dog competitions for his well-trained style and mannerisms.
Without agility, the most muscular person in the world couldn’t win a fight against a fifth-grader. But did you know that for a dog agility is possibly even more important? With so many of a dog’s happiest moments spent running, jumping, catching, and stretching, dog agility training can really help dogs age gracefully and happily.
What is dog agility training?
You’ve probably seen dog agility training on television. The dogs run a course of tire hoops, tunnels, seesaw, dog walk plank, jumps, hurdles, weaving poles, and a 3-meter A-frame. Heeling, sitting, down stays, send-aways as well as walking off leash are also included.
Who can participate?
Anyone with a dog can do agility training. There is not age limit for people or dogs. In fact, children and puppies are encouraged to take part. All breeds and sizes of dogs without a physical disability can benefit from agility training. Be sure to check with your vet before you begin agility training if you have any doubts about your canine’s fitness.
What equipment is needed?
You as the handler will need comfortable shoes and clothes that you can run in, because this is not exercise for the dog alone. Your dog needs a leather or webbed buckle collar and a leather, nylon or rope lead of fairly long length. Do not use a chain lead; it could get caught in the jumps.
Agility Training Courses for Dogs
There are two sides of agility training for dogs. They are the obstacles and the control training. There are also tips for training your dog. Obstacles. Although it seems high to many handlers, the A-frame is the best obstacle to begin training. The dog walk plank, low jump and the tunnel (dogs love this obstacle) are also excellent for training the novice dog.
Control training is important to keep your dog disciplined both on the agility course and off. Everybody knows that a dog must heel and sit. You must also teach your dog to know and obey different commands: to go left and right, lay down, and wait. After those are mastered, the dog must learn normal recall (returning anytime you call) and recall over obstacles. Also important is the “send away” command, making the dog go ahead you.
Tips for Dog Agility Training
Begin training by getting your dog’s attention. Talk to him and offer him dog treats. Coupled with the love he has for you, he’ll be all ears. Be sure you have the correct lead (generally 6 feet) and a comfortable collar (measure the dog’s neck and add 2 inches) for your dog. Give praise often. “Tune in” to your dog to be sure she and you are ready to train.
Here’s a final tip: make sure that you and your dog enjoy yourselves. After all, jumping through hoops is supposed to be fun–at least if you’re a dog.
Are you concerned about the dry food your dog is eating? Looking for detailed information about certain food ingredients? Confused about inconsistent information about dogfood from pet food manufacturers? Need help comparing dog food brands, or finding healthy dog treats?
Then you are exactly where I was when I first heard about the disgusting materials some pet food manufacturers put into their products. I picked up a bag of Science Diet and consciously looked at the ingredient list for the first time. Even without any previous knowledge I could see that it did not include any real meat and was preserved with the same chemicals I avoid in human food products. I never bought another bag of Science Diet and started researching and comparing products. One of the things I learned was that any commercial sources are best avoided if you want hard facts, not biased “infomercial” style sales pitches trying to sell you one product or another. Hopefully you will find this article helpful, make up your own mind about different food brands and their quality, choose a better food and who knows – maybe even save some money.
Barking, whining, escaping, destructive behavior or, in severe cases, self-mutilation can be your dog’s way of expressing anxiety over your absence.
Things You’ll Need:
Practice leaving your dog alone for short periods of time. Pick up your keys and leave for 1 minute.
Gradually increase the amount of time you stay away. This will accustom your dog to your absence.
Avoid overly emotional good-byes and greetings. Instead, pat your dog on the head and offer a quick good-bye or hello.
Keep your dog confined in a safe area while you are away. Be sure to leave a bowl of water and plenty of chew toys.
Exercise your dog for an hour each day in places other than your yard or home. This helps your dog feel comfortable in other locations and lets her blow off steam.
Praise your dog often to build self-confidence, rather than punishing her for exhibiting frightened behaviors. Punishment only increases anxiety and makes the situation worse.
by Humane Society for the United States (HSUS)
We all like to be praised rather than punished. The same is true for your dog, and that’s the theory behind positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement means giving your pet something pleasant or rewarding immediately after she does something you want her to do, such as dog treats or dog toys. Because your praise or reward makes her more likely to repeat that behavior in the future, it is one of your most powerful tools for shaping or changing your dog’s behavior.
Correct timing is essential when using positive reinforcement. The reward must occur immediately—within seconds—or your pet may not associate it with the proper action. For example, if you have your dog “sit” but reward her after she’s already stood back up, she’ll think she’s being rewarded for standing up.
Consistency is also essential. Everyone in the family should use the same commands. It might help to post these where everyone can become familiar with them. The most commonly used commands for dogs are:
- “watch me”
- “down” (which means “lie down”)
- “off” (which means “get off of me” or “get off the furniture”)
- “heel” (or “let’s go” or “with me”)
- “leave it”
Consistency means always rewarding the desired behavior and never rewarding undesired behavior.