Tips and Tricks

Socialization of Your Dog

Socialization for a dog is very important and it’s something that must be done when the dog is young.  Quite often people think they’re doing the right things when it comes to socialization but they are actually not because they don’t know exactly what socialization means.

I will start off by telling you that the period of socialization for a young dog is from birth to 20 weeks of age.  If your dog doesn’t get socialize with other people, small children, dogs and strange environments during that period you may have a dog that never gets socialized.  This is the dog that then exhibits aggression or fear sometime between 12 and 24 months of age.

Let’s start off with what is socializationSocialization means that your dog is exposed to all types of people, kids and dogs in all kinds of environments.  This isn’t something to do only at home this should be done in as many areas as possible away from home.

As far as a dog is concerned kids are a different creature than an adult human being, so exposing your dog to little ones while it is a young puppy is a plus.  Now that doesn’t mean your children, it means other children that are not part of the pack.

During this period of socialization, your dog should be exposed to other dogs and again not just at your home or with your current dog but with other dogs as well.  Of course you want to make sure that the dogs that your puppy meets are dog friendly and are current on all their vaccinations.  A good source for this type of dog is through family, friends and neighbors.

Be sure to get your puppy out of the house.  Take your pup to as many places as possible.  In fact I recommend that a new puppy owner take their puppy to three new places each week so that it can experience lots of new sites, sounds and smells.

Taking the time now to socialize your dog will be very much worth the effort when your dog reaches maturity.  If you don’t socialize your dog properly you will begin to experience aggression issues or fear usually sometime between 12 and 24 months of age.  Once your dog reaches that age it may be too late for socialization and you will possibly end up with an aggressive dog.

So take the time now to take your dog to strange places meeting lots of new people and dogs so that you can have a well socialized dog that you can enjoy for the rest of its life.

Switching Dog Foods

In this day and age, more and more is being discovered about our diets and more importance is placed on eating healthy foods that fuel the body more efficiently.  The concern for taking care of our bodies is not just one that is focused on the human diet; it affects our pets as well.  Feeding your animal the best and most healthy diet for him should be of key importance.  The better fuel you put into your dog (or into you!), the better chances he will live longer and with fewer health issues.  You may have a certain brand you prefer or you may have your dog on prescription food.  Regardless, sometimes you may feel it is time to switch your animal’s food with something you or your veterinarian feel will be better for him.

Changing your animal’s diet is not something that should be done abruptly.  Animals adjust to what they are being fed and need time to readjust to something new.

Additionally, you may find they will flat-out refuse a new food if not given proper time to get used to it.  Keep in mind this guide to changing over their food if you feel it is necessary.

First of all, switching foods is a somewhat stressful thing for your animal.  If the dog is changing owners or you are moving to a new location, hold off until the dog has become acclimated to their new master or environment.  Too much emotional stress at once can overwhelm your animal and something like changing diets should be done when the dog is already comfortable with their current situation.

The first step to changing foods is to create a mixture of 25% new food and 75% current diet to feed your pet.  This should be a small enough amount of the new food that your dog does not notice the difference and will accept their meals as they normally would.

If the dog does not accept the 25/75 mixture, reduce the amount of new food until the dog eats their food as it normally does.  Remember to be patient and that the dog has had plenty of time to grow accustomed to what they usually eat.  It may take as long to phase in the new food as it did for them to get comfortable eating their current diet.  When the dog is readily accepting the 25% new food mixture, move onto the next step.

Now that they are getting used to a small amount of the new food, mix in 50% of the new diet.  Their dog bowl should be half old food and half new. Once again, if your animal is hesitant or rejects the half and half mix, lower the amount of new food until they are receptive.

The next obvious step is to switch over to 75% new food, 25% old food.   At this point, the increased percentage of new food should not even be noticed by the dog and should be eaten as eagerly as any other meal.  Do, however, make sure you do not move through these steps too quickly – give your dog time to get used to the changes.  When they are comfortable with the upped amount of new food, it’s time to move onto the final phase of the switch.

Your dog should now be having no problems or hesitance with eating the new food provided.  Now completely lose the old food and give him 100% new food.  Moving from three-fourths new food to all new food should be no issue but if your dog is still experiencing some anxiety, remember that all dogs are difference and some just require a little more time and patience.

Switching over dog foods is a procedure that requires effort on your part, but do remember that your animal will eventually welcome the new food every day just as he welcomed the old food previously.

What Breeds of Dogs are the

Smartest?

Scientists set out to find which breeds of dogs are the smartest out there and you may be curious too.  If your dog’s breed is not on the list, don’t worry, this is a generalized list made about general breeds and their abilities to learn new commands, not their abilities to be a good pet or to love you and your family.

10) Australian Cattle Dog –

The Australian Cattle Dog is an Australian herding dog bred to control groups of cattle.   They are very energetic and have minds as active as their muscular bodies.  They are naturally curious and left to their own devices without proper exercise can be quite destructive.

 9) Rottweiler –

The Rottweiler is a very large herding dog originally from Germany.  Rottweilers are strong, smart and self-assured. Though they have recently gotten a negative association in the media, an aggressive or misbehaving Rottweiler is almost always due to irresponsible owners, lack of socialization, abuse or neglect.  Rotties are affectionate, loving and eager to please.

 8) Papillon –

The Papillon is a friendly, graceful toy breed.  Known for their butterfly like ears (Papillon is French for butterfly), Papillons are hardy and smart and it is not often known that they have great athletic ability.  Great dogs for living in the city, they are quick to learn, making them easy to train.

7) Labrador Retriever –

The Labrador Retriever is one of a few kinds of retriever, a kind of gun dog.  The Lab is the most popular breed of dog in the US and in the world.  It is also the most popular breed for service dogs. Affectionate, gentle, energetic and intelligent, Labradors are one of the most obedient and reliable breeds in the world.

6) Shetland Sheepdog –

The Shetland Sheepdog (or a sheltie) is a small breed from the Shetland Islands of Scotland.  Very loyal to their owners and willing to please, Shelties have thick double coats that come in many different colors and marking patterns. Shelties are vocal herding dogs and for this reason can be trained to be excellent guard dogs!

5) Doberman Pinscher –

The Doberman Pinscher is energetic and intelligent and often trained to be guard or watch dogs.  Though they have gotten a bad rap about their temperament, with a good owner they make excellent family dogs and will even get along with cats.

 

 

 

4) Golden Retriever –

The Golden Retriever is a type of gun dog bred to help in hunting.  One of the most popular breeds for families, the Goldie is an affable and obedient pet.  They are often found as working dogs used for search and rescue, police or as a guide dog. Trusting and energetic, Goldies can get along with just about everyone.

 

 

 

3) German Shepherd –

The German Shepherd is a large herding dog from Germany.  You often seen German Shepherds used as police dogs as they are smart and obedient.  They were specifically bred for their intelligence and can learn commands very easily.

 

 

2) Poodle –

The Poodle is a gun dog that may have originated from France, though the exact origin is unclear.  Poodles come in a variety of sizes from toy to miniature to standard.  Poodles are recognizable for their thick curly hair that is often cut into distinctive clips for aesthetics or show.  Very athletic dogs, poodles are energetic and good family dogs.

 

1) Border Collie

The Border Collie is considered the most intelligent breed of dog.  Herding dogs originally from England or Scotland, the Border Collie is energetic and eager to work.  Border Collies prefer to have a job to do and are best suited for living on farms with livestock or with someone devoted to working them.  Loving and devoted, Border Collies are not necessarily suited to households with small children and work best with one handler.

How Does Your Dog Learn?

People today really love their dogs.  They have close relationships with their dogs. Their dogs are smart and they know what’s going on around them.  There’s a close bond between people and their dogs.  Sometimes it almost seems like people think their dogs are a little person in a dog suit. But that’s not the case.

The truth is that dogs are dogs, no matter how close people and dogs are.  It doesn’t matter how happy or cute our dog is, he’s still a dog.  When you forget that your dog is a dog, it can lead to problems.  Your dog has natural instincts and he thinks and reacts like a dog.  Instead of expecting him to act like a person, we need to understand the dog and make changes for him.

 

How Does Your Dog Think?

Dogs rely on their instincts.  That means they look for the basic things in life.  They need food, they need a place to sleep and they need a good pack they can rely on to help keep them safe.  That means they also need a strong pack leader.  A good pack leader is someone who acts as a guide and offers protections.

As a dog owner it’s your job to take on the role of the alpha pack leader.  This is what your dog needs you to be.  You have to make sure that your dog isn’t left alone to care for himself.

You also need to understand how a dog thinks.  They don’t picture things in words as we do.  Your dog may learn to answer to a word or command but that doesn’t mean they know what the word means.  Dogs don’t understand words the way that humans do.  It’s more likely that dogs will associate an action with an action.  Dogs understand body language.  As far as words go, it seems likely that dogs will be able to understand commands that are made with single words.  If you speak a sentence to your dog, your dog probably understands a single word and follows it.

If you say something to your dog such as, “Do you want to go outside?”  your dog probably understands “outside” and you could shorten the phrase to just that word, spoken in a friendly tone.  You would get the same result from your dog.

Thinking Like Your Dog

So, what does all of this mean?  What it means is that you need to learn how your dog thinks and what he needs.  Your dog doesn’t use words.  Your dog is more likely to think in terms of actions and what he wants.  Your dog understands body language.  Your dog pays attention to the tone of your voice and how you are acting.  That means more to your dog than the words you use.

If you understand that your dog thinks in images and actions it will help you influence how your dog behaves.  For example, if you give your dog a friendly greeting every day when you return from work, your dog is going to start expecting it.

If you give the friendly greeting every day, your dog will get excited and start getting happy before you get home.  But, if you don’t come home when he’s expecting you to, your dog will start to get upset.

So, you can tell that your dog’s actions are based on what he’s been expecting and what’s happened in the past.  What you do will teach the dog to expect something.  If you don’t do what the dog expects then it can make the dog very anxious.

This is why some people tell you that you shouldn’t greet your dog as soon as you get home.  If you greet your dog as soon as you get home it will encourage your dog to get too excited and connect the positive feelings with your return.

You can help your dog avoid a lot of frustration and anxiety if you manage their expectations in that way.  Learn to control their perceptions so they don’t get too over-excited about receiving food or going for a walk or getting attention.

It also helps if you can change your own expectations.  Stop expecting your dog to act like a human and remember that your dog is a dog.

Your dog is a loving, funny, terrific dog, but he’s still a dog.  And that should be plenty.

The Best Treats For Dogs

One of the best things in the world is being able to make your dog dance around in happiness when you give him a treat he loves.  Unfortunately, some owners give their dog’s way too many treats.  The treats may taste great but they can cause a lot of health problems if you give too many, or the wrong ones.

I’m not telling you to stop giving treats entirely.  Certainly you should reward your dog for doing things you like and it’s great to indulge your dog a little occasionally.  But some treats can be good for your dog in ways other than just emotionally.

Foods to Avoid

There are some treats and foods you should not give your dog.  For instance, don’t give your dog table scraps for treats.  Table scraps can be bad for your dogs in some ways.  Even something as harmless as garlic powder can cause your dog to have some digestive problems.

Additionally, human food often has a lot of fat in it that your dog doesn’t need and it can lead to problems for your dog’s organs such as fat in your dog’s liver or an enlarged or weakened heart.  Your dog can even develop diabetes.  In general, if food is not developed for a dog then you probably shouldn’t feed it to him/her.

Besides table scraps, inexpensive dog biscuits and cookies that are high in fat are often fed once in a while but if you feed them every day they can lead to health problems for your dog.  You should avoid giving your dog treats that are high in fat or which are full of corn and wheat fillers.

Other things you should avoid giving your dog include pig ears (because of the risk of salmonella), ham bones and cookies that are high in fat, especially if your dog is allergic to the grains which are often used in cookies.

Good Things for Your Dog

So, what kind of treats should you be giving your dog?  There are some treats that I have found dogs love and which are healthy.

Here is my list:

Stuffed Kong’s:

Kong toys are great because your dog can chew on them literally for years and they won’t be destroyed.  Even better, you can put treats, peanut butter and even chunks of meat inside them to keep your dog interested in chewing on them.

Frozen and Ice Treats:

Most dogs love ice, unless they have some dental problems.  Have you ever see a dog run at a snow bank?  Somewhere inside your dog he is programmed to love eating frozen water.  And here’s the best part of all: frozen and ice treats are free and they’re healthy for your dog, though they can get messy sometimes.

Rawhide Made in America and Australia.

Dogs love rawhides and they make a great treat but you do need to be careful about giving them to your dog.  Make sure you buy pressed rawhide so big chips won’t tear off when your dog chews on it.  And, secondly, make sure the rawhide you buy is American-made as there has been some discussion from news sources that rawhides from other places may contain arsenic.

Heavy, Big Bones:

It’s okay to give your dog some bones, as long as you watch and supervise your dog.  These include large, heavy beef bones.  But don’t give your dog small bones that can chip or break, especially ham bones.

Jerky:

Dried meat, like jerky, is a great treat for dogs. Jerky doesn’t usually have a lot of additives, dogs don’t choke on it and they are usually safe to feed to your dog.  They can make good training treats, too, because they are easy to break up into smaller pieces.

When you’re looking for treats for your dog you should look for treats that don’t have a lot of fillers or artificial ingredients.  Look for treats that have organic, grain-fed meats from the U.S. and Australia.  That way you’ll know they have been handled properly and they don’t contain ingredients that might make your dog ill.

Finally, every dog owner needs to have good treats for their dog, so take care, do your research and always choose a treat that your dog will like.

Sudden Dog Aggression

Today I want to tell you about something that you will run into at some point if you are a professional dog trainer.  This doesn’t happen very often but now you will know what to do when it does.

I received a phone call from a previous client recently.  She owned a 3 year old Rottweiler that had been a real sweetheart of a dog.  It had been socialized properly was well trained and was very good with people and other dogs.  But all of a sudden the dog has started showing aggression toward people and dogs.

I asked if she had taken the dog to the vet recently to make sure that there wasn’t anything physically wrong with the dog and she said yes and that the dog had been given a clean bill of health.

In talking to her and scheduling an appointment to come take a look at the dog, I asked her if the dog had been tested for hypothyroidism.  She told me she wasn’t sure.  I asked if she would call her vets office and ask the question.  She did and the answer was no.  The vet questioned why I would even suggest that the thyroid could be a problem.  The answer is simple, low Thyroid can cause sudden aggression in dogs.  However it is often overlooked.  In fact Rottweilers are high on the list for this problem

I suggested for her to take the dog in to have the Thyroid checked.  When she called the vet’s office to schedule the test he acted like I was crazy and so was she.  The test came back with a low normal level.  Her vet suggested putting the dog on medication.  Here is the amazing part, after putting the dog on medication his Thyroid levels came up to a higher level and the aggression went away.

Now you have to understand the dogs Thyroid levels were in the accepted normal level BUT in a very low normal.  By giving the medication its levels came into the higher range of where it’s Thyroid should be and the aggression went away.

Keep this information stored away and remember it.  When you hear of a dog that has no health issues, has been a sweetheart of a dog and very friendly, suddenly become aggressive remember HYPOTHYROIDISM.

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