Can You Change a Dog’s Name After Adopting Him?

6 Sep 2016 | Filed in Dog Adopted

You’ve brought home your new best friend, and he’s perfect in every way – except for his name. He looks more like a “Toby” than “Beauregard.” The good news is it is easy to change a dog’s name after adopting him, and in some cases it is best to give him a new name to go with a new life. Have a question? Get an answer from a Vet now!

Positive Association

Whether Beauregard knew his name well or was given that name in the shelter, changing it is as simple as teaching him a new command. Once you’ve decided on his new name, periodically call his new name in a happy, upbeat tone of voice. When he looks at you, praise him enthusiastically and reward him with treats. Even if he doesn’t look at you the first few times, give him a treat when you say his new name. Soon he will start looking at you when you say his name because he knows that word means something good. Continue to cheerfully say his name and reward him with treats multiple times a day for a few weeks.

It may take some dogs just a few times to learn a new name; for others it may take a few weeks. Attaching his new name to a fun game like fetch or obedience training also reinforces it: “Toby, get the ball!” “Toby, sit.” “You are such a good boy, Toby!”

Name Pairing

Another way of teaching him a new name is to pair it with his old name for a while and eventually drop the old name. So if his old name was Beauregard, and you want to change it to Toby, start calling him “BeauregardToby.” Eventually drop “Beauregard” and just call him “Toby.”

The Name Itself

Don’t worry if the new name is completely different from his old name. Many people think that the new name should be similar to the old name, such as changing “Dolly” to “Molly.” It really isn’t necessary for them to be similar since dogs associate our tone and actions with the name instead of the actual sound.

Never associate the new name with something negative. Do not call your dog by his new name to scold him or to come to you for something he does not like. You want your dog’s new name to be positive. When deciding on a new name, make sure it doesn’t sound similar to something negative or a correction.

A Fresh Start

For dogs who have been mistreated or who have behavioral issues, a name change is often the first step to changing the dog’s mindset and behavior. If Beauregard was in an abusive home, he may associate his name with mistreatment, so a new name helps to give him a fresh start. A dog who has had behavioral issues may associate his name with the bad behavior you’d like to correct. A new name can help him to respond to positive behaviors.

Electronic Collar Training Tips

30 Aug 2016 | Filed in Dog Training

An electronic collar emits a vibration or an electric charge to a dog’s neck when he engages in undesirable behavior. Also called E-collars or shock collars, these training aids are operated by a remote switch. Used as part of a positive training program, an E-collar can be a valuable asset in teaching a dog to obey, but care must be taken not to harm the dog. The stimulation pack on the collar may be adjusted to increase or decrease the level of the electric charge, depending upon the dog’s sensitivity level.Fitting

Innotek, the manufacturer of a wide array of dog training equipment, suggests adjusting the collar snugly while leaving enough room to easily insert a finger between the strap and the dog’s neck.

Use the collar on clean fur and remove the collar when you are not actively training the dog, taking care not to leave it on your dog longer than 12 hours at one time. The probes on the collar may result in a rash or sores if the collar is too tight or if it is on the dog’s neck too long.

Remove any other collars before fitting your dog with an E-collar. Metal clasps and dog tags may interfere with the efficiency of the receiver.

Training Session

Determine a behavioral goal and employ repetition during the training session. For instance, if your dog barks every time the doorbell rings, recruit an assistant to ring the bell a few times over a period of 15 minutes. When the doorbell rings and your dog barks, issue the command “Shush” and depress the transmitter briefly to reinforce your command.

Begin with the lowest stimulation level on the collar and increase it slightly if your dog does not respond. Some dogs will tolerate a strong shock, while others will become agitated by a low level of stimulation.

Avoid continuous stimulation; just a small shock will suffice. Continue the training sessions daily until your dog sits quietly when the doorbell rings.

Along with the collar, use treats to reinforce positive behavior. Even if your dog barks when the doorbell rings, praise him when he becomes quiet and give him a treat.


Not all trainers approve of using E-collars because a dog may not understand why he is receiving the shock, and he may become anxious or fearful. Electronic collars should not be used as punishment. In addition, puppies under 6 months old may not be mature enough for this type of training. Verbal commands must always be used in conjunction with an E-collar.

15 Amazing Dog Cakes

22 Aug 2016 | Filed in Dog Life Style

I celebrated my birthday this weekend – yay me! While I don’t normally like to make a big fuss (okay, that’s only partially true) it happens to be a big one and I’m going all out. There are two things I love in this world — ok five things, but: husband, family and Guinea Pigs- today is not about you, what I love most are dogs and cake, so today in honor of my birth, I’m going to talk about that.

Like so many other victims of the summer birthday, I watched as kids brought in cupcakes to class, knowing I would never get to experience such joys. Don’t get me wrong, my parents tried to throw me birthdays, but they ended up being more of the invite your favorite, few friends and hope for the best, as summer vacations and camps made it hard to plan. At the office we have a tradition of celebrating everyone’s birthday with a delightful feast, but alas I’m not at work either and so I’m left to celebrate myself, my way and why not? I’m the editor after all. It’s my party and I’ll write if I want to.

Before you find this to be too sad I should mention that I celebrated my birthday with a vacation and visits with friends and family exactly as I would like – it just doesn’t sound as funny when I say that.

So on that note, here are the 15 best dog-themed birthday cakes, I never had:

1. I love a cake with a little something extra to chew on.


Photo from Picsgen

2. This cake that looks a little too much like the real thing.


Photo from The-Cake-Lovers

3. No one likes to get walked all over, but I’m pretty sure it’s okay if these cute puppies walk all over my cake.


Photo by the FoodAdventure

4. I don’t discriminate, dog cupcakes are great too.


Photo from

5. I really “dig” this dog cake.


Photo from

6. I’d be happy to take these guys on a walk… or a taste test.


Photo from

7. This lady like pup would be the perfect treat for any dog-loving, birthday girl.


Photo from

8. These soulful eyes are the true meaning of puppy love. This cake is certainly to “sweet” to eat.


Photo from

9. If I was ever turned into a dog cupcake, I imagine it would look something like this.


Photo from the

10. We’ve all wondered what dog food might taste like.


11. These Bulldog cupcakes don’t look excited to celebrate, but as an owner of a Frenchie I know that the look on the outside of these wrinkly pups doesn’t always match the sentiment within.


Photo from

12. Please someone make me this magical looking dog cake.


Photo from

13. You should never give puppies as gifts, but a gift box with a dog cake, is totally okay.


Photo from

14. You should always let sleeping dogs lie, especially if it’s their birthday.


Photo from

15. If someone made a cake inspired by me writing about dog cakes, this is what it would look like.


Photo from Dahlia’s Cakes

Have you ever gotten a dog-themed cake or dessert for your birthday? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

14 Aug 2016 | Filed in Dog Gooming

When should you brush?

The best time to brush your pet’s teeth is when you are both relaxed. If your pet growls, bites, scratches or shows any other signs of aggression during the procedure, stop immediately and consult your Banfield doctor for advice.

ThinkstockThis process should be introduced slowly, and may even take several days to weeks for your pet to adjust to the treatment. Start with step 1 and move on to the next step as your pet accepts each step.

Step 1

Gently position your dog in a corner (of a sofa, chair or room) so that he will be secure and more easily handled. Carefully lift the lips to expose his teeth.

Step 2

Rub your finger over the dog’s teeth and gums for about 15 seconds to get the dog used to having something in his mouth. It might be necessary to do this a couple of times before the next step.

Step 3

Put a small amount of toothpaste specially formulated for pets on your finger, and allow the pet to taste it.

Step 4

Slide a finger brush onto your index finger and put a small amount of toothpaste on the brush. Gently rub the brush over your dog’s teeth and gums. Repeat this process for the next few brushing session. Because finger brushes are not as effective as regular toothbrushes, the pet should be transitioned to a regular bristled toothbrush as soon as the pet is comfortable with it.

Step 5

Apply a small amount of toothpaste to a bristle brush specially designed for pets. Place the brush bristles at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. Move the brush gently in circular patterns over the dog’s teeth. Start by brushing a few teeth. As brushing sessions continue, slowly include more teeth. Build up to about 30 seconds on each side of the dog’s mouth. Remember to brush both upper and lower teeth.

How to Stop Dog Mouthing

25 Jul 2016 | Filed in Dog Problems

ThinkstockYou might think of mouthing as being a behavior exclusive to young puppies, but some overexcited mature dogs do it, too.

What is Mouthing?

“Mouthing is when a dog puts his teeth and mouth over a person’s skin while using little or no pressure from his jaw, says dog trainer and expert Mikkel Becker “It’s not to be mistaken for aggressive biting, which is done out of fear or frustration.”

While mouthing may not be an aggressive behavior, it’s still frustrating and your dog could unintentionally hurt or scare someone, or the behavior could escalate into a bite.

Certified pet behaviorist and author Amy Shojai suggests using a two-pronged approach to curbing your dog’s mouthing behavior, starting with teaching “bite inhibition.”

Bite Inhibition

“Bite inhibition is a dog’s ability to control the force of nipping and mouthing,” according to “A dog who hasn’t learned bite inhibition doesn’t recognize the sensitivity of human skin, so the dog nips and mouths too hard, even when playing.”

Puppies and young dogs typically learn bite inhibition during play with other dogs, according to author and dog expert Jennifer Bridell. When dogs play, they frequently use their mouths. If one dog bites too hard, the bite victim yelps and stops playing. This usually gives the biting dog pause. This is how dogs learn to control the force of their bites. Biting too hard means play time stops, and no one wants that to happen.

Amy Shojai recommends people use a similar approach when trying to teach their dog bite inhibition . The basic idea is to reward the desired behavior and redirect or ignore the unwanted behavior. This training will take patience and time, and the best results might come with working with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer or behaviorist.

Teaching Bite Inhibition

People can use strategies similar to puppy play to teach their dogs bite inhibition:

Allow your dog to mouth you during playtime.

Continue playtime until he bites hard.

When he bites hard, let out a puppy-style yelp, and then promptly stop “playing” by letting your hand go limp.

This should cause your dog to pause. When he does, praise him enthusiastically and resume play as normal.

Repeating this over and over should help him get the message. If it doesn’t, you can introduce brief time outs by stopping play all together and walking away after you yelp. After 20 seconds or so of calm behavior from your cutie, return to him and play with him again. This helps teach him that painful play is “bad,” and gentle play is “good.” Gentle play buys him more playtime, while painful play ends it. No fun there.

Continue this sequence. You should notice your dog’s bites progressively getting gentler and gentler – until they have little to no pressure.

After you’ve helped your dog learn to be gentle with his mouth, it’s time to teach him not to mouth people at all.

Teach Your Dog to Stop Mouthing

The experts at recommend the following techniques for getting your dog to stop mouthing you and other people:

Substitute a toy or chew bone when your dog mouths.

When you stroke your dog, offer him tasty treats from your other hand to discourage mouthing you as you pet him.

Encourage non-tactile games like tug-of-war instead of rough play , such as wrestling.

Help your dog learn to manage his impulses through activities such as “Leave it” and “Sit.”

If your dog likes to “ambush” your feet or ankles, stop moving as soon as he does this. Then, distract him with a toy. When he grabs the toy, continue moving.

Provide your dog with regular playtime sessions alongside other well-behaved canines. This can tire him out and make him less interested in strenuous play (and therefore mouthing behaviors) with you.

Common Dog Breeds for Degenerative Myelopathy

9 Jul 2016 | Filed in Dog Breeds

German shepherds are one breed with increased risk for developing degenerative myelopathy.
Degenerative myelopathy in dogs is a progressive disease affecting the white matter of the spinal cord. It is similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in humans. Symptoms in early stages of the disease include progressive weakness, stumbling and loss of muscle, especially in the rear legs. As the disease progresses, paralysis and organ failure can occur. While the condition can occur in any breed or mixed breed, certain breeds show a predisposition.

Breed Disposition

Degenerative myelopathy most often occurs in German shepherds and Welsh corgis. Other breeds predisposed to degenerative myelopathy include American Eskimo dogs, Bernese mountain dogs, borzois, boxers, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, golden retrievers, great Pyrenees, Kerry blue terriers, poodles, pugs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Shetland sheepdogs, soft-coated wheaten terriers and wire fox terriers.

DNA Testing

Researchers have identified the DNA mutations responsible for degenerative myelopathy. DNA tests are available to identify if a dog is clear, a carrier or are at increased risk for disease development. Talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of DNA testing.

Healing Puppy Power Put to Test for Childhood Cancer

1 Jul 2016 | Filed in Dog News

Joshua sits on a hospital bed sobbing, surrounded by two nurses trying to insert an IV needle and by his Mom and Dad, trying their best to calm their scared and frightened four-year-old. But on this 6 a.m. Monday morning Josh, weary of his cancer battle, will have none of it. There have been too many needles. Now he is getting prepped for a third surgery. Joshua is a scared little boy and he knows what is coming, and he lets everyone within earshot know it.

Standing just outside the hospital room door I lift up my little therapy dog, Gordon, and we peek in. Immediately Josh’s Mom spots us, her eyes lighting up and she exclaims: “Josh, look, it’s Gordon! Gordon is here to see you.’’ They wave us in. Barely a minute or two later Josh is petting Gordon, sobs ebbing now into sniffles, focusing in our direction and his fluffy terrier pal, hardly noticing the IV connection being made on his other side.

A little dose of therapy dog can calm crying children, and ease the trauma and torment that sometimes comes with healing, for the patients, their families and the medical staff. A dog can make a sterile hospital room seem more like home, encourage kids who need to walk after surgery to get up and escort the pup around the hospital corridors, or just relieve the boredom of being stuck in a hospital room instead of being out with friends running around a playground.

In more than 6 years of making hospital visits with my wife Vicki, a longtime pediatric cancer researcher, and with our two therapy dogs, Gordon and Gypsy, we have seen them bring real therapy to thousands of people, both kids and adults. But until now there has been almost no real scientific “proof’’ of what therapy dogs contribute to healing, physical or mental.

Ernie and Vicki Slone, with therapy dogs Gordon and Gypsy

That may soon change.

The American Humane Association has teamed up with Zoetis and the Pfizer Foundation to launch a 15-month study designed to document the specific medical, behavioral, and mental health benefits animal-assisted therapy may have for children with cancer and their families.

“American Humane Association has a history of wanting science backing our initiatives,’’ says Amy McCullough, AHA’s National Director of Animal-Assisted Therapy. “In terms of animal therapy, obviously there is a gap there in terms of science supporting the benefits that we know sort of anecdotally that therapy dogs are giving us. With our mission being about helping both children and animals, we saw the need for this study to really promote how therapy dogs can help children who are dealing with cancer.’’

In exhaustive preliminary research, including a review of existing literature and a pilot study at two children’s hospitals, AHA found “therapy dogs are really important in pediatric oncology settings, and they aren’t allowed to visit necessarily in all children’s hospitals in these units, but the ones that we talked to really talked about the benefits.’’

That’s right, although thousands of teams visit patients around the country, not everyone buys into using dogs in therapy settings. At some hospitals, therapy dog visits are strictly limited, and at others they are not permitted. Having concrete evidence of the value of animal-assisted therapy can go a long way toward making this low-cost adjunct treatment an accepted and encouraged practice at more hospitals around the country.

The full clinical trial will seek to confirm benefits identified in the pilot study, including:

Kids with cancer who are visited by therapy dogs have less stress, anxiety, and an improved, health-related quality of life

“Children with cancer and their families are not just dealing with physical concerns, there are also psychological issues – depression, anxiety, loneliness, being away from their classmates and school,’’ McCullough explains. “So these can have longer-term effects. We really want to show how animal-assisted therapy could be a really promising intervention to help not just the patient but the whole family interacts with the therapy dog, touching so many people there in a stressful situation.’’

Not only do the dogs themselves not get stressed by the visits, in fact the visits are mutually beneficial interactions

“The pilot study shows that post visit, the therapy dogs’ cortisol levels were lower than their baseline, indicating that they did not experience stress after visits,’’ McCullough says. “We also videotape the sessions using an ethogram to code the dogs’ behavior throughout the session, looking for signs of stress, whether it is yawning, lip-licking, looking toward the door, those kinds of things.’’

The five children’s hospitals participating in the study are:

St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa

Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland

UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento

UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center/Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts in Worcester/North Grafton, MA

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville

This study is personal to me and my wife. Today and every day, more than 35 children and their families will get a cancer diagnosis. In total, more than 40,000 children in the U.S. undergo cancer treatment each year.

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