Verbal Commands for Assisting in Dog Training

27 May 2014 | Filed in Dog Training

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Before learning the meaning of any word or verbal command, dogs respond to the sound and tone of their person’s voice. Dog trainer Cesar Milan explains that communication people have with their dogs through exercise and affection conditions and prepares dogs for training. Like people, dogs learn at their own pace. Practice patience and compassion when training your dog.

Sit, Stay, Come, Down

Before attempting to teach your dog a new verbal command, get his full and undivided attention. Distractions in the area can make it too tempting to pay attention to something else. Start with simple, basic commands such as sit and stay. Use positive rewards such as a small treat — and of course, praise. Tell your dog what a good boy he is and use your tone of voice to exclaim it. Express praise and reward your dog with a treat at the very moment she sits.

How Long Do Puppies Chew?

26 May 2014 | Filed in Dog Problems

The following is an excerpt from Petfinder’s FurKeeps Kickoff Live Facebook Q&A.

Q: My 2 1/2-year-old Greyhound tries to eat things like napkins, Kleenex, etc. She also chews on baskets and some of the kids’ toys.

Is this still puppy behavior? How can I stop it?

A: Your Greyhound is too old to be teething, so chewing is just something she finds rewarding. Some dogs are “hard chewers” all their lives — think Pit Bulls and Labs. You don’t see it as much in Greyhounds, but that just goes to show that each dog is an individual.

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ThinkstockWhat can you do about it? Remove access to what she wants to chew, or shred in the case of the paper products (a very common behavior), and provide her with plenty of appropriate dog chew toys, and maybe even put her kibble in food-dispensing toys (such as a frozen Kong toy) so she has to work for her breakfast.

You can also try taste-aversives on things like the baskets. Use bitter apple furniture cream on wood or wicker and the pump spray on fabric. There are other brands on the market as well if you find she likes the taste of rubbing alcohol and crabapple juice.

Gross! My Dog Drinks from the Toilet!

23 May 2014 | Filed in Dog Life Style

You hear that familiar slurp-slurp-slurp of your dog drinking water … except it’s not coming from the direction of your dog’s water bowl. Instinctively, you head toward the bathroom, peek inside and yes, that’s right: there is your dog happily lapping up water from the toilet like you purposely left it open for him as a treat.

Sigh. Life with dogs.

Sure, drinking from the toilet is kind of amusing. (I mean, come on! He’s drinking from the toilet!) And yes, it’s really disgusting. (I mean, come on. He’s drinking from the toilet.) So why do dogs do this peculiar behavior?

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Why Do Dogs Drink from the Toilet?

Two words: fresh water. Ignore, for a moment, the pesky detail that this supposedly “fresh” water is coming from a place where humans — well, you know. To your dog, a toilet is a convenient place where fresh, cool water is abundant and readily available. That bowl of water you just put out for your dog? Stagnant and old, according to your dog. When you think about it, it’s actually kind of smart to choose the seemingly fresher choice in the large porcelain bowl over the one in the small bowl that’s been sitting there who knows how long.

Another reason a dog might drink from the toilet: He finished the water in his water bowl, he’s still thirsty, and he’s in search of another source of water. Thirsty dog, meet toilet bowl.

Just How Bad is Toilet-drinking, Anyway?

According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center website, “bacterial-related gastrointestinal problems could occur from drinking stagnant toilet water, so it is a good idea to discourage your dog from imbibing from the commode.” Toilet water could also be filled with household-cleaner chemicals and other junk you don’t want your dog drinking, especially if you just cleaned the toilet, or if you use drop-in toilet bowl cleaning tablets.

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Craig Murphy/Flickr

Thankfully, if your dog drinks from a toilet that contains drop-in cleaners, it’s not likely to be a problem beyond stomach upset, assuming that you followed the cleaner label’s directions, according to the APCC. If your dog is showing signs of serious illness, contact your local veterinarian or call the APCC hotline at 888-426-4435.

How Can I Stop This Gross Behavior?

You don’t have to put up with potty drinking for long — you just have to modify your behavior first.

1. Leave the toilet lid down. This is one of those duh things that some people don’t do because it’s just so easy to forget. If the toilet water is inaccessible, then your dog can’t drink it. Of course, there are always those crafty canines that somehow manage to lift up the toilet lid anyway, which brings us to No. 2 on the list.

2. Close the bathroom door. If leaving the toilet lid down doesn’t deter your dog from drinking from the toilet, then close the bathroom door. This gives you the added bonus of keeping your dog out of the bathroom altogether and away from potentially poisonous or harmful chemicals, medicines and toiletries.

3. Keep your dog’s water bowl filled. Make sure your dog always has easy access to fresh, clean water. A dog who turns up his nose at water that has been sitting stagnant for days (or even hours) will probably go in search of a fresher alternative (read: the toilet). Also, a dog who is a big drinker might finish his water before his thirst is quenched, so be on the lookout for an empty water bowl, and fill it accordingly.

4. Try a gadget or gizmo. If all else fails and your dog still craves a taste of the toilet, there are products available that might help, including automatic water bowls and fountains that keep the water circulating and fresh. You could also try installing a toilet-seat lid locks, which will let you easily use the toilet but fasten shut when not in use.

How To Clean a Dog’s Ears

16 May 2014 | Filed in Dog Gooming

Even though we give them lots of good scratches, when it comes to grooming, the ears of dogs are frequently the most neglected parts of their bodies. But their ears are also one of the most important areas to attend to. Ear infections can be serious, and can begin easily if an animal’s ears are not kept clean. After all, how will Biffer know when to start salivating if his ears don’t pick up the sound of kibble hitting his bowl? Make sure your furry guests keep their ears perked up by following these simple steps.

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Thinkstock1. To Clean or Not to Clean, That is the Question

Be careful! If the dog’s ears have an offensive odor, or if he has been scratching them repeatedly, you should not remove the icky stuff that might have accumulated; whatever’s there can help your vet determine the cause of the “ear-itation” and figure out how to treat it. So if he’s scratching, or if you’re tempted to plug your nose while cleaning his ears, you should turn the task over to your veterinarian or veterinary technician first; she can take swabs of the substance for examination.

2. Ear We Are

Before you start your scrubbing, make sure you’ve set the table. You should have your supplies set out and ready to go. Put out your cotton balls and cleanera commercially prepared ear cleaner with a low alcohol content is best. Wash your hands thoroughly so you don’t introduce any infectious particles to the dog’s ears. You may want to work with a buddy; your friend can provide distracting pats while the ear cleaning takes place.

3. Wipe Out!

Once you’ve determined that your dog’s ears are merely dirty and not full of mites or infection, you can remove the dirt. Using a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, gently wipe out the inner surface of the animal’s earflap. Discard the first cotton ball and moisten another; with this one, clean out the part of the ear canal that you can see. Stop when you feel resistance-don’t try to stick the cotton ball any farther into the ear than it should go. Repeat this process on the other ear. Make sure you remove any foreign matter, whether it’s dirt, bugs, or just waxy buildup.

4. Ears to You!

Give your furry friend a pat, give your helper a high-five, and send your little buddy on his way. Now he’ll be well-prepared to hear those wonderful words:

“Look, honey, he’s beautiful! He’d be a wonderful new member of our family.”

“Oh, you’re right. And his ears are so clean!”

Dog Breeds Originating From Scotland

7 May 2014 | Filed in Dog Breeds

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Some of America’s most popular companions were bred as working dogs in Scotland. Without the collie breeds — collie is Scottish for sheepdog — herding the millions of sheep on Scotland’s rough hills would have been impossible. Development of other breeds such as terriers and golden retrievers reflect the importance of game sport to Scotland’s economy and culture, past and present.

Herding Dogs

The bearded collie, as far back as 1600s, was bred for hill shepherding. His elegant, long coat provided protection against harsh weather, like that of of the rough collie or Lassie dog. A miniature Lassie lookalike is the Shetland sheepdog. The iconic herding dog, the intelligent and energetic border collie, originated in the wild Scottish/English border country.

Sporting Dogs

Another old breed from Scotland is the rough-coated border terrier. The West Highland white terrier was bred to be visible in the heather on shoots. The cairn terrier was named after the stone cairns across Scotland. Three U.S. presidents have owned Scottish terriers, affectionately known by enthusiasts as Scotties. Other sporting breeds from Scotland include the golden retriever, bred as a gun dog to retrieve duck and upland game, the Gordon setter and the Scottish deerhound, the hunting dog of the Scottish Chieftains.