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.

Dog Heatstroke Survival Guide

18 Jun 2016 | Filed in Dog Health

I began competing in agility eight years ago with my Chihuahua, Ruben. I was soon hooked, and it wasn’t long before my weekends were planned around whichever agility trial was taking place. I retired Ruben at 7 years old, but around that time my Border Collie, Torque, decided disc-dog competition was his niche. For a period of time, that was the dog sport that occupied my weekends.

When my Pharaoh Hound, Logan, joined the family, I had the opportunity to try dog sports I had not yet experienced. It started out innocently enough with conformation events, but while working on conformation, I decided to try Logan in lure coursing. Logan turned out to be a natural, and has been awarded multiple Best-in-Field titles.

Agility, disc-dog competition, conformation and lure coursing are offered year-round, rain or shine. About a month ago, I experienced a problem I had never encountered. For the first time in almost a decade of competing in dog sports, one of my dogs experienced heatstroke. At a lure-coursing event, Logan became overheated. He’s completely recovered now, with no apparent long-term negative effects, but it was an experience that demonstrated firsthand how quickly this potentially life-threatening condition can arise.

What is heatstroke?

In simple terms, heatstroke occurs when a dog loses its natural ability to regulate its body temperature. Dogs don’t sweat all over their bodies the way humans do. Canine body temperature is primarily regulated through respiration (i.e., panting). If a dog’s respiratory tract cannot evacuate heat quickly enough, heatstroke can occur.

To know whether or not your dog is suffering from heatstroke (as opposed to merely heat exposure), it’s important to know the signs of heatstroke.

A dog’s normal resting temperature is about 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Once a dog’s temperature rises above 105 degrees, physiological changes start to take place, and the dog begins to experience the effects of heatstroke. At 106 to 108 degrees, the dog begins to suffer irreversible damage to the kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, heart and brain.

If a dog is experiencing heatstroke, you may observe excessive panting; hyperventilation; increased salivation; dry gums that become pale, grayish and tacky; rapid or erratic pulse; weakness; confusion; inattention; vomiting; diarrhea; and possible rectal bleeding. If the dog continues to overheat, breathing efforts become slowed or absent, and finally, seizures or coma can occur.

The amount of damage a dog sustains when stricken with heatstroke depends on the magnitude and duration of the exposure. The longer and more severe the exposure, the worse the damage will be.

What to do:

Pay attention to your dog. Recognizing the symptoms of heatstroke and responding quickly is essential for the best possible outcome.

Get into the shade. If you think your dog is suffering from heatstroke, move it into a shaded area and out of direct sunlight. Apply cool water to the inner thighs and stomach of the dog, where there’s a higher concentration of relatively superficial, large blood vessels. Apply cool water to the foot pads, as well.

Use running water. A faucet or hose is the best way to wet down your dog’s body. Never submerge your dog in water, such as in a pool or tub – this could cool the dog too rapidly, leading to further complications, including cardiac arrest and bloating.

Use cool – not cold – water. Many people make the mistake of using cold water or ice to cool the dog. When faced with a dog suffering from heatstroke, remember that the goal is to cool the dog. Using ice or extremely cold water is actually counterproductive to this process because ice and cold water cause the blood vessels to constrict, which slows blood flow, thus slowing the cooling process.

Don’t cover the dog. One of the keys to successfully cooling your dog is ensuring the water being placed on the dog can evaporate. Never cover an overheated dog with a wet towel or blanket. This inhibits evaporation and creates a sauna effect around your dog’s body. Likewise, don’t wet the dog down and put it into an enclosed area, such as a kennel. Any air flow during the cooling process is helpful in reducing the dog’s body temperature. Sitting with the wet dog in a running car with the air conditioner blowing is an ideal cooling situation.

Keep the dog moving. It’s important to try to encourage your dog to stand or walk slowly as it cools down. This is because the circulating blood tends to pool in certain areas if the dog is lying down, thus preventing the cooled blood from circulating back to the core.

Allow the dog to drink small amounts of water. Cooling the dog is the first priority. Hydration is the next. Don’t allow the dog to gulp water. Instead, offer small amounts of water that’s cool, but not cold. If the dog drinks too much water too rapidly, it could lead to vomiting or bloat.

Avoid giving human performance drinks. Performance beverages designed for humans are not recommended because they are not formulated with the canine’s physiology in mind. If you can’t get an overheated dog to drink water, try offering chicken- or beef-based broths.

9 Things You Need to Know About Your Senior Dog’s Diet Needs

10 Jun 2016 | Filed in Dog Food

Most dog owners eventually face the challenge of properly feeding a geriatric dog. About one-third of all dogs in the United States are 11 or older, and dogs have an average life span of about 14 years, says Kathleen Hefner, DVM, a specialist in nutrition and nutritional counseling at the Animal Hospital of Saddle River in N.J.

Senior Dog
But owners need to know when their dogs have reached senior status and require a dietary adjustment to meet their changing biological needs. Obvious signs include a graying snout and decreased mobility, as well as changes in activity level or interest in toys, games, or people. Owners should start looking for these signs from about age 7 – sooner for larger dogs and later for smaller ones.

Hefner emphasizes, however, that each dog is unique, so owners should consult their veterinarians and rule out any health problems before making dietary changes. All senior dogs are not the same, she says. You have to look at the more subtle things. You’ll want guidance on your individual pet’s needs.

But the majority of aging dogs face some common physical changes that require dietary changes to address them:

Dogs’ appetites can decrease as they age, so if they eat less, a calorie-dense diet can ensure they still get enough nutrients.

Dogs might also eat less because of pain from periodontal disease; more palatable, easier-to-chew food helps ensure Fido doesn’t go hungry.

Phosphorous and sodium can aggravate kidney problems, heart disease, and hypertension. If your dog has these illnesses, look for a diet with less of these two elements.

A sufficient amount of zinc helps keep the skin, coat, and immune system healthy.

Antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E, and beta-carotene, are all believed to fight cancer and slow aging, so owners may want to supplement these if their dogs’ food doesn’t already include sufficient amounts.

Additives for joint health, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, often ease the aches of arthritis by maintaining the healthy cartilage that cushions the bones. Many senior dog foods include these ingredients, also available as supplements.

Aging dogs tend to have more gastrointestinal distress, so a diet with increased fiber can help prevent constipation.

Older dogs still require protein – vital to the body for cell repair and muscle maintenance – but can’t metabolize it as efficiently. They need higher-quality protein with a complete range of essential amino acids.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and flaxseed oil can help alleviate a dull, dry coat and dry skin, as well as aid immune-system function.

Adoption Requirements for Dogs

6 Jun 2016 | Filed in Dog Adopted

You want to do the right thing and give a shelter dog a home, so you visit the local shelter and look for the perfect dog. Having spent hours getting to know all the dogs at the shelter, you finally choose one. Now, what does the shelter need from you? Have a question? Get an answer from a Vet now!

General Adoption Requirements

For most people adopting a dog, the process is pretty straightforward. There are several things modern adoption centers and shelters need to learn from you, much of which will be covered in the adoption application. Unless there are special issues to address, most applications ask the same questions. You will be required to either own your own home or, if you rent, produce proof you are allowed to have a pet. You will be asked about previous pet-owning experience, and in some cases you will need to be an experienced dog owner. Many shelters require you have a back yard, but this requirement can be waived if the shelter personnel feel it’s appropriate. Many shelters require you supply contact information for a veterinarian or others who can attest to your suitability to have a dog. Finally, the dog must be for you, not a “surprise” or gift for another, and your spouse, if applicable, must join in the adoption process.

Special Situations: The Dog

In some situations, adoption requirements become a little more stringent. This is particularly true when adopting a breed of dog that requires a lot of exercise. In such cases, you will almost definitely be required to have a fenced-in backyard. If adopting a puppy, many shelters will require you to enroll the pup in a training class; many shelters offer them for free for adopters. Many times, well-meaning folks will adopt a puppy, neglect to teach him basic obedience and manners, and then, when he’s fully grown into an unmanageable adult dog, return him to the shelter, where his chances of being re-adopted are slim. Even if the problem was not his fault, it looks bad on his record to have been returned.


Oh yes, those dreaded regulations. There are certain dog breeds for which owners pay dearly when it comes to insurance premiums and homeowner fees. Some homeowner’s associations ban breeds they deem “dangerous,” never taking into account that dogs have unique personalities. Even if you own your home, you may be required to show proof that your homeowner’s association has not passed limitations on the size or breed of dog you may have.

Your homeowner’s insurance company may also have something to say about the breed you choose. If you are considering a pit bull, Rottweiler or mastiff, for instance, you should look into your insurance policy to be sure there are no problems down the road. There have been cases of dogs such as greyhounds and German shepherds being disallowed by insurance policies, so check carefully.

If you rent and are allowed to have pets, be sure you can pay any necessary pet deposits, and don’t select a dog that exceeds the weight limit.

Your Situation

Shelter personnel and rescue groups get to know the dogs in their care very well and are in the best position to gauge whether the dog you have chosen is the right dog for your situation. For example, a nervous little dog who may be a fear-biter is not the best choice for a family with small children. Certain breeds, such as terriers, are usually not adopted to people with cats or pocket pets because of their natural prey drive. An elderly person is not a good match for a strong, 80-pound, adolescent pit bull.

There may also be requirements as to your lifestyle. If you prefer to read a good book while curled up by the fire, an active breed will be miserable with you; get an older, smaller lap dog instead. Don’t take it personally if shelter personnel feel you don’t have the requirements needed to adopt a certain dog; their first priority should always be the dog’s best interest.

Spray Bottles for Dog Training

27 May 2016 | Filed in Dog Training

The spray bottle can be a handy tool for nixing annoying and unwanted behaviors. One quick squirt can distract your pooch and divert his attention. While spraying your dog can be a part of your training routine, you should take certain steps to do it properly and realize that it does, in some cases, have a downside.

Pros of the Spray Bottle

You can keep bottles all over your home so you always have one ready if Bubba misbehaves. Water is harmless — you’re not being mean, just distracting your buddy from doing something he shouldn’t. Some dogs become so fearful of it that they’ll take the long way around the room if they see the bottle on the table — you might not even need to use it.

The Downside

Your pal may become terrified of water. He’ll have no problem drinking it, but when it comes to bath time, forget it. Water is scary, so when you try to lure him to the tub, he may growl or snap. If Bubba seems terrified of the spray bottle, it probably isn’t an ideal tool for your situation. On the other hand, some pups couldn’t care less about the water and make it a game by trying to catch the stream in their mouths.

Training Tips

The trick to making the spray bottle effective is to not make a big fuss. It’s not meant to be mean or a way to tease your dog. If you see bad behavior, grab the bottle, give him a squirt and put it back down — ideally he shouldn’t see you pulling that trigger. Then toss him a toy to chew on and pat him on the head to enforce the desired behavior.

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