Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting a new dog? Create a Calming Environment

Be prepared.  Before bringing your new dog home have the basics already on hand so there are no frantic trips to the store.  Food and water bowls (try to use the food your dog has been eating and you can change foods later if you want) crate and bed, collar and leash, toys and treats for training, and an ID tag.  
Keep it pleasant but low-key at first. For a puppy or dog, being taken to a new home and then deluged with lots of loud, lively strangers can be really overwhelming.  The first day or two, keep the mood mellow and calm.  Set up your dogs crate and bed in a quiet but well used area of your house so they do not feel isolated.  You may want to plan on a quiet weekend at home with your new dog.  
Set a routine. Dogs, like children, love a routine.  Decide on feeding times, house rules, times for a walk, and times for playing.   Be a nice boss, but a boss.  Decide on a walking route that is fairly quiet, without many other dogs and people.  Use this route for the first week or so.  This will help build the bond between you and give you a chance to get to know one another.  
Veterinarian.  Set up an appointment for your new dog to visit the vet for a wellness check.
Introductions. Keep the introductions to a minimum when you first bring your dog home. If you must have people come over to meet the new dog only have one or two people over at a time.  After a week or so (or after your new dog is fully vaccinated) you can allow people and other dogs to meet your new arrival.  
Training.  Start training your new dog using positive reinforcement to teach manners.  For instance, have your dog sit before you pet them, before they get fed, and at the door before going out for a walk or playtime.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dog Language is Easier Than You Think

If you can read a persons feelings or attitude through body language you can certainly learn about dog body language.  The main reason for this is -- dogs are not deceptive.  They will readily show you how they are through their body language.  Body Language for dogs is very natural and  they use it almost exclusively for communication.

And when you start to learn more about of the cues that dogs give, it would be to your benefit to go to a dog park without your dogs just to sit and observe the dogs as they interact with one another.  You will find that they have a lot to reveal. Have fun with it!

I will use this picture below as an example.  Now, seeing a still picture does not show as much as live action, but it gives you a chance to actually see what I am talking about.

I would consider this dog as potentially aggressive.

When trying to interpret canine body language it is important to look at as much of the information as possible.  What I mean by this, is you have to look at the whole picture to get a good idea of what this dog is saying.  You have to look at the Eyes, Ears, Mouth, Tail and Body Posture. 

The eyes are generally categorized as either 'hard' or 'soft' eyes.  You know a hard stare when you see one. They are the eyes that are staring right through you. This is a very intense stare and the dog will not break eye contact despite other distractions.  Soft eyes are just that, soft.  There will be blinking or looking away after a few seconds of eye contact.  

Ears are sometimes a bit more difficult to interpret because of the different kinds of ear structure; erect, or droopy, or cropped.  With that in mind, try to look at the actual position of the ears; whether they are forward and alert, in the middle and relaxed, back and pinned to the head. These different positions of the ears can give you an indication of the dogs intentions.

Mouth - there are many different nuances of the dogs mouth that can be misinterpreted. A dog with a closed mouth can indicate that the dog is listening to what is going on around him.  A dog with an open mouth, panting and tongue lolling to one side indicates relaxation.  An open mouth with the tongue not outside of the mouth can indicate tension/ anxiety.

A dog's tail position can speak volumes.  Generally speaking, a tail that is held erect and curled over the back says that the dog is in a dominant posture.  This is especially true if the tail is not wagging or is stiff, short wave back and forth.  A tail held at or below the level of the spine indicates the dog is comfortable.  A tail held tucked close or between the legs tells me the dog is frightened, anxious, or intimidated.

Body Posture - there are 3 main body postures.  Standing - in looking at the stance of a dog you must look at where the majority of their weight is placed on the legs.  If the weight is set on the front legs or the appears to be leaning forward this is something to be wary of.  If the dog has much of its weight toward the rear he is looking for a possible retreat and non-threatening.  Sitting - a sitting dog is rarely a threat; it is difficult for the dog to launch an attack in this posture. This posture gives an indication of' relaxed', especially if  the dog is sitting on one side or another in a leaning fashion. Laying - If a dog is lying down on its side it is also unlikely to attack or act aggressively. Though lying down in a more alert position can indicate otherwise.

Again I must reiterate that it is very important that you look at the whole picture when trying to interpret dog body language.  Those things listed above should not be taken individually assess a dogs temperament. I will describe what I see in the dog pictured above:

The dog is leaning forward, tail is held erect and curled over the body, the ears are held forward, the eyes are intent and the mouth is closed.  All of this taken as a whole tells me that this dog has a high potential for aggressiveness. I will explain:  The eyes are hard and intent on a target.  The ears are erect and listening intently, the mouth is closed allowing that dog to concentrate and better hear things, his tail is high above the body and curled over the back and the body posture is leaning forward; clearly indicating a dominant stance. 

I hope you found this information useful.  Please remember, this is not a complete tutorial into interpreting dog body language.  This is meant to give you a starting point in recognizing what dogs can tell you without saying a word.  Enjoy what you have learned and stop back for more posts on the subject.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All Animal Rescue Center

Exciting news in the animal welfare industry in Wisconsin.  An experienced group of people have formed the newest rescue organization right here in Sheboygan County.  All Animal Rescue Center is intending on providing valuable services to our community as well as surrounding communities by providing much needed services.

  • Providing a safe outdoor canine recreational area (dog park).  A fenced area for a general population of dogs who get along well with others and an area for dogs that are not as well socialized.  Both areas will be secured, and admittance is only allowed with a pass key.  In doing so, this will ensure that all dogs coming into the area are properly licensed and vaccinated. If your dog prefers people to other pooches a separate fenced area for these dogs will be available on an 'appointment' type basis allowing only one dog or dog family in the area at a time without worrying about an unexpected encounter with another dog. Therefore, allowing all dogs a chance to get out and exercise.  Fenced areas will be separated by a double fence; putting a 'buffer zone' in between so there is no chance of fence fighting or unwanted encounters with other dogs.  Also, there are plans for paths and trails throughout the surrounding area to allow for fantastic casual walks  on leash with your dog through open fields and wooded lanes.  This will be the first canine recreational area that provides a safe place for ALL dogs to run around and have fun with their people without the fear of running across another dog off leash.  
  • A new Adoption Center is planned as well.  AARC will be opening its doors to the area strays, providing them with the needed care and keeping until they can find their forever homes or be claimed by their owners.  In addition, AARC will provide pets of victims of domestic abuse emergency housing and care so all potential victims are safe and secure. One less thing for these families to worry about and they will know their beloved family pet is being taken care of allowing them the time to heal and secure safe housing for themselves. Area rescues are always in need of space to showcase their animals; AARC wishes to provide this to them.  Instead of having to get limited space at the local pet stores and events, we would provide them with kennel space as well as a safe place for the public to meet their new family members.  In doing so we can increase their adoption rates by offering more exposure.
This describes the first phase of development and requires a lot of community support and cooperation.  ALL ANIMAL RESCUE CENTER will continue to strive to provide services that exceed expectations.
Please join us and help to make this a reality.  Make your tax deductible donation today!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Winter Safety Tips for Fido or Fluffy

With winter fast approaching I thought it would be a good idea to mention some tips on keeping our dogs safe in cold weather.

1. When out walking your dog please be aware that his paws can become irritated by the ice melting salt thrown on sidewalks. When you return home please check your dogs pads and wipe them clean so he cannot lick any of the salt off the paws which can make him sick.  Further it is important to remove this salt on the feet as it can cause irritation to his pads.

2. As always, be watchful of antifreeze.  Engine coolant is toxic to dogs and cats.

3. Make sure your dog is properly protected from the elements when outside in cold weather.  Remember that Windchill Factors apply to all living things. And frostbite is a real danger for your pets.  If you have a short haired breed of dog that is not as well protected from the cold perhaps a coat or sweater is in order.  Even if you have a breed of dog that is protected don't leave them outside.

4. Your dog needs fresh water to drink at all times.  Snow is not acceptable as a source of water.  The simple act of eating snow lowers the core body temperature and can be dangerous to your dog in cold weather.

5. Make sure your dog has a cozy place to sleep off the floor and away from drafts.

6. If you have a dog that enjoys spending time outside in the cold weather make sure to increase their food intake with a good protein source.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Old Soul With a Kind Heart

My introduction to the wonderful world of pitbulls, what a wonderful guy he was.  So glad that he came into our lives.  So sad that it was such a short time. He touched so many hearts.  Hard to believe somebody abandoned this guy.  He was old and just need a warm loving home to live out the rest of his days. I was proud to give that to him. He brought so much to us for a year and asked so little in return.  A body to snuggle with, a blanket to cuddle under, a sunbeam to lay in, a kind word, regular meals, love and companionship.  All for the low low price of unconditional love.

Duke was well known in the shelter and loved by all that met him. This old soul with a kind heart spent many days in the shelter office keeping the staff company during the day and saying hello to clients who would come to visit. He greeted everyone with such trust even though he was hard of hearing and partially blind from age.  I met him one day when I came to volunteer I was told of his wonderful personality and some of his health issues and told his story.  Somebody abandoned this guy in cold weather probably because he had some health issues and nobody wanted to adopt him because of his age/health.  I was asked to foster him until he passed.  The staff did not expect him to live longer than 3-6 months. I decided that I was going to try and give this guy the best home I could possibly provide and give him the love and attention he deserved in his final days. 

Our family was blessed with his company for one year and one month.  As you can see in the above picture he is with my daughter; they adored each other.  We frequently lament his absence and talk about the his quirky little habits.  His snoring when he slept and the fact that he slept so soundly because he was hard of hearing.  His "wind up" to a bark, bark. You always knew when he was getting ready to bark because he would lower his head very slowly then his head would raise up quickly as he would let out two barks while kind of hopping on his front legs.  It is all those wonderful little things that we cherish most.

Enjoy those moments with the ones you love.

Training and Living with a Deaf Dog

Training and Living with a Deaf Dog
Raising a deaf dog can be both challenging and very rewarding.  Having both hearing and deaf dogs living with me it seems there is a very special bond that develops with the deaf dog. Here are a few tips if you are considering taking one of these wonderful dogs into your home.
Eye Contact:  This is crucial in communicating with your deaf dog. So this is something that you will want to teach early on.  What I am about to share may sound very strange but it works very well in getting your dog to look at you without any verbal cues.  This requires using people food that both you and your dog like. Take the food (hotdog, string cheese, steak etc) cubed into small pieces.  Put 4-5 pieces in your mouth and hold them there. Now just hang out with your dog.  Anytime the dog even glances at you spit a piece of food at her.  Once she realizes that anytime she looks at you tasty treats come flying out of your mouth she will look at faces a lot more. (One note on this excercise don’t do this at the dinner table) this exercise will facilitate future communication.
Talking: Do continue to talk to your dog even though he cannot hear you.  They do understand facial expressions overtime just as you can tell if someone appears angry, happy,or scared through their facial expressions, so does your dog.  They actually seem to be more in tune to those facial expressions so keep that in mind if you are upset.
Sign Language/Hand Signals: You will have to learn sign language or hand signals to communicate with your dog.  This is only limited by how much you want to work with your dog. But basic obedience is a must; sit, down, stay, come etc. Using American Sign Language is good if you would like to expand on your dogs ”vocabulary” such as ball, bone, bear, rollover and so on.
Training Aids & Safety:  There are vibration collars on the market now to aid with deaf dogs, this will aid in recalls or at least getting your dogs attention.  This is only an aid and still requires training.  Nothing replaces the safety of having your dog on leash, you must also remember that your dog is unable to hear clues given by other dogs as well so please be careful when allowing your dog to greet new dogs.  Also understand that sometimes the nonhearing dog may play a little rougher than the hearing dog again because they don’t dear the cues that play may be getting too rough for the other dog.  So you as a responsible owner need to aware of these things and maybe interupt playtime if it becomes necessary.
I will be adding more to training and living with a deaf dog in future posts. Please check back there is so much to learn.

Pumpkin To Settle A Queasy Stomach

Our beloved dogs and cats can sometimes get a little queasy due to car sickness, medications, food intolerance, or any number of other reasons. One of my dogs happens to have a food intolerance (wheat) in which he gets very nauseated and vomits frequently if he eats large quantities.  For example, stealing a loaf of bread off the counter and eating it will cause him to projectile vomit for the entire day.  Now rather than face the prospect of cleaning up after my boy all day  (at the most inconvenient times) I give him  a tablespoon of canned pumpkin (no spices or sweeteners added) either alone or with his food.  The pumpkin settles his stomach immediately.  And because pumpkin can be used to treat constipation and diarrhea too you don't have to worry about any adverse effects on his digestive tract.

So this Holiday season when you are out shopping for your groceries, pick up a couple of extra cans of plain canned pumpkin to keep on hand.  And, to avoid waste, once the can is opened I recommend freezing the remaining pumpkin in portions for easy use next time.  You can use an ice cube tray to freeze the portions or just drop portions onto a cookie sheet.  Once frozen put the portions into a Ziploc bag for easy storage.

Please note that this is not meant to replace a trip to the vet for your friends.  If after a day or two the vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation does not resolve please consult with your veterinarian.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All Animal Rescue Center

I am proud to be a part of a new rescue center that is forming in Plymouth Wisconsin.  All Animal Rescue Center is going to be a rescue for all species of domestic animals. In our geographical area we have found that there are large gaps in the services provided. We intend to fill those gaps. Currently the humane society in our area no longer houses pets of victims of domestic violence. The humane society is also unable to house large animals with that in mind these are two areas that we will be focusing on initially, as well as offering adoption space to any local and reputable rescue that does not have an adoption facility of their own.

There are many exciting things planned for the Center and I hope to share that all with you here.

First snow for the season

Today is our first snowfall for the season and I am trying (in vain) to convince my Pitbull Terrier, Gotti that it is o.k. to go outside. Even with his jacket on I lead him outside and he immediately turns around to head back for the door. His only interest is to do his business and get back into the house. So we decided to try him with a new hat to go with his new jacket.

He doesn't mind the hat at all and I think he looks kind of cute in it too.