Pet Advice

Puppies are Supposed to Misbehave so Don’t Blame Them!

When you welcome a puppy into your home, your puppy will inherently misbehave.  After all, everything is new to them and they can and should be expected to misbehave.  Therefore, it is up to you to steer their behavior in the right direction.  Each experience they encounter and how you react to it teaches them how to behave which is why it’s important to start training your puppy from the start (and with kindness).

Make time each day to train your puppy or enroll him in a training class

It’s important to establish a training groundwork for you puppy.  NEVER punish your puppy for unwanted behavior, but train your puppy to perform the behavior you desire. Get the help of a class instructor, private trainer or behavior specialist to learn what behaviors your puppy needs to learn.

Make training fun and practice every day

Make training fun for your puppy and practice every day. Then when your puppy misbehaves, you can immediately switch into one of the trained behaviors and have the puppy doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing. With consistent practice and encouragement, your puppy will eventually develop the habit of doing the desired behavior instead of the undesired one.   Have treats handy and/or always reward your puppy for doing the right thing.

 

puppy agressive

  

Teach your puppy to give you things and don’t run after your puppy

If you can teach your puppy to give you things, rather than go after him or her, it can minimize aggressive behavior. When a puppy takes something and runs off, don’t chase after your puppy. The pup is playing and if you run after him or her, your puppy will become either fearful or aggressive in self-protection and might even bite you.  If your puppy takes the wrong item, simply hand him a toy and praise him for choosing the right one and the other thing was a ‘no no’.

Use your voice and body language to give directions to your puppy

You want your puppy to trust the touch of humans and to relax when touched. This is not the instinctive response of a dog or even of a person and needs to be taught. A positive response to touch is learned. It takes a lot of good touches to develop this positive response and let your puppy know that you’re encouraging and loving him.  For some puppies, it’s inherent while others need a little coaxing to know touching and petting is good!

Try not to excite your puppy by jumping or grabbing anything

Instead of grabbing, jerking, and jumping around with your puppy, slow things down so your puppy can stop and think. Don’t ever encourage your puppy to put teeth on human skin (even if your puppy is teething).  Similarly, don’t let anyone pet your puppy when he or she is jumping up on them.  Only pet your puppy after he or she has calmed down and reward him for the correct behavior.

Don’t ever overreact or yell at your puppy for misbehaving

If your puppy reacts inappropriately and tries to antagonize you, try not to overreact. Instead, stand your ground and give your puppy the time to realize those tactics just don’t work with you. Don’t fight with your dog, and don’t back down.  Simply be firm and try to show your puppy the correct behavior.

If you spend some time training your puppy and use positive reinforcement, it should help tame any misbehaving. You need to practice and be encouraging and try not to yell or get angry at them when he or she misbehaves.   We all lose it from time-to-time, but your puppy will only react the right way with love, training and encouragement.

 

6 Ways to Check Your Dog or Cat’s Dental Health!

February is officially designated as dental health month for our pets.  We all take our pets’ to the vet to check their overall condition, but when is the last time you checked your dog or cat’s teeth?  Proper dental care can help avoid other health risks for our beloved cats and dogs.   And, as always, preventive care is the best care of all.

Below are six ways to check and improve your pet’s dental health.

1.  Take a whiff of your dog or cat's breath

As appealing as that sounds, just get a quick sniff of your dog or cat’s breath (preferably not right after eating something stinky!).  Your pet’s breath shouldn’t be offensive or have an abnormally strong odor (doesn’t have to smell like roses either).  If it does reek, your dog or cat could have a digestive problem or a gum condition such as gingivitis and should be taken to your vet for a thorough exam. 

2.  Look out for tooth decay (discoloring) in your dog or cat 

Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause a buildup your dog or cat’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss.  If your dog or cat’s teeth are discolored, it’s time to start a brushing program with a toothpaste to ward off decay.

 

 

3.  Examine your dog or cat's gums (carefully)

If you want to look at your dog or cat’s gums, make sure he or she is facing you and then gently push back his or her lips and take a look. Your pets’ gums should be firm and pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling.  Their teeth should be clean and free of any brownish tartar, and none should be loose or broken obviously (they should look just like human gums)!

4. Peruse your dog or cat's mouth for anything unusual

If you see any of the following, there could be a bigger dental issue in your cat or dog’s mouth and you should take your pet to the vet: dark red line along the gums, loose teeth, pus or extreme salivation, difficulty chewing food, excessive drooling and/or excessive pawing at the mouth area

5.  Learn how to brush your cat's or dog's teeth (if you don't do it already).

While most pets don’t love it, it’s important to brush your dog or cat’s teeth.  You’ll need a small toothbrush and a type of toothpaste formulated for dogs or cats.  You can also use salt and water. It really isn’t that different from brushing your own teeth and can be done quickly once you get the hang of it.

6.  Buy chew toys for your dog or cat to strengthen their teeth.

Chew toys are great for your cats and especially dogs for so many reasons.  It keeps your pets’ occupied and can also make their teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help floss your pet’s teeth, massage their gums and scrape away soft tartar.

Make sure to take the time to check your dog or cat’s mouth regularly for any issues that might occur and try to implement brushing their teeth in your routine.  If you see anything out of the ordinary, make sure to schedule and appoint with your veterinarian as soon as possible.  

 

How to Help Your Overly Active Dog

If your dog is filled with an abundant amount of energy, he or she is probably an overactive dog.  An overactive dog typically has endless energy, loves to walk for hours and never seems to get tired.  As a dog owner, there is no need for alarm with an overactive dog; just make sure that an overactive dog gets enough exercise and training.

However, a hyperactive dog is more problematic as he or she is similar to a child that is hyperactive… his activity is almost frantic.  A hyperactive dog will pant constantly and has a heart rate that is elevated.  And, this behavior continues until he or she is so tired, that the poor pup passes out.  This can be dangerous in dogs and should be monitored.

Take your dog to the Vet

The first thing you should do if you think that you have a hyperactive dog is take him or her to the vet to see if there is a medical issue.  Make sure to properly document why or how you think your dog is hyperactive.  If your dog truly is hyperactive, he most likely will demonstrate this behavior while you are with your vet.

 

 

Based on a full medical examination of your seemingly hyper dog, your vet can come to a conclusion about the reason for his excess activity levels. She may prescribe medication to treat any medical causes of his behavior.  There are some medications that you can try to see if it helps the issue.

Make sure your dog gets enough exercise

Even if your vet does describe medication, you should first try exercising your dog more and see if this helps his over-activity.  If you take him or her on runs and teach him after to sit down on a mat and rest, this could help. Remember, that behavioral changes take time so don’t expect results overnight.  With time and effort, you might be able to calm your dog merely by working him out more.

Your dog might be hyperactive due to lack of training

Some hyperactive dogs become this way due to lack of training.  Maybe you adopted a dog that won’t settle down.  Or maybe you have given your dog too much attention even when they are barking, jumping or biting your furniture and he likes the attention.  Your dog will need to learn the basics of dog training and if you think he is hyperactive, you should hire a dog trainer.  A trainer will be more skilled to teach you how to work with your dog.

Some dogs are not hyperactive but suffer from anxiety

Some dogs suffer from anxiety and are constantly stressed out.  This usually manifests itself by dogs that pace the floor and pant heavily.   These dogs might have a compulsive disorder and as in humans can repeat the same behavior over and. These dogs aren't hyperactive; they just need help to settle down.   A vet will know if your dog has a compulsive disorder and will prescribe medication or it could be time to see an animal behavior specialist.

If your dog is seemingly hyperactive, make sure to give him plenty of time, love, attention and exercise and that might just be the cure.

 

Is Wet Food Better Than Dry Food for Your Cats?

Some of our cats are very finicky eaters and will only eat a certain kind of food.  Some cats like wet food better while others like dry food better.  There are benefits of both wet and dry food, but if your cat is not a finicky eater, the choice is yours and your cats!  So what’s a cat owner to do?

What is the real difference between wet and dry food?

Both canned and dry foods are (if you buy a high quality food) nutritionally complete. The biggest difference between the two is moisture content with canned food having a much higher moisture content.  Many cats do seem to find wet food more palatable and this can be especially important if you have a cat with a finicky appetite. 

Wet food is beneficial as it has a higher water content

Due to its higher water content, wet or canned food can be of particular benefit for cats with kidney problems (it helps keep them better hydrated) or lower urinary tract disease (it helps produce more dilute urine that can alleviate or reduce the frequency of symptoms).

 

The higher water content may make it easier to put your kitty on a diet (if necessary) because most cans of cat food contain roughly the same number of calories as 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dry food, but in a larger volume of food, so the cat may feel fuller at meal time.

The benefits of dry food are the following:

Dry food is good for your cat’s teeth

Dry kibble can be more convenient and many vets feel that dry food is better for a cat's teeth. However, dry food is not a substitute for dental care and most cats, regardless of whether they have eaten canned food or dry food, will need professional dental care at some point in their lives.

Dry food can be left out all day

Dry food is also convenient for cat owners who leave their cats at home alone every day and want them to be able to graze during the day.  Some cats that are not big eaters will nibble at it all day until they are full.  However, if your cat is overweight or tends to eat a lot, only leave out a certain amount of dry food during the day so that he doesn’t gorge when you aren’t around!

If you feed your cats’ dry food, make sure that your kitty drink water

If you feed your cat dry food, he or she should drink at least one cup of water for every ten pounds of body weight daily. In warm weather, your cat will need even more. Cats on canned food diets only need to consume one-third to one-half that amount of water.

Ultimately, wet or dry food is up to you and your kitty

The real decision should come down to your cat and your lifestyle.   If your cat is happy with both, feed your kitty wet food in the morning and leave dry food out all day.   If your cat only likes dry, then just make sure to have plenty of water for your cat due to the lack of water in the dry food.  If you feed your cat a premium cat food, with very few additives and enough crude protein, he or she is likely to thrive whether the food is wet or dry.

 

3 Ways to Make Raw Feeding More Affordable

by Kimberly Gauthier, Dog Nutrition Blogger for Keep the Tail Wagging

What attracted me to raw feeding was that it sounded simple, inexpensive, and was the answer to all of our dog’s digestive issues, allergies, and joint pain.  When I started my research, I quickly realized that raw feeding wasn’t inexpensive; especially when you’re raising several big dogs.  Over the past few years, I’ve learned enough to allow me to feed four dogs a raw food diet without breaking the bank.

1. Choose Homemade Over Pre-made Raw

Whenever someone asks me how to get started with raw feeding, I recommend starting with a reputable pre-made raw brand, because you don’t have to worry about ingredients, sourcing, and creating a balanced raw diet.  Of course, you’re going to pay premium for someone to do this for you.

If you have the storage space, you can buy meat and other ingredients in bulk when you find good deals.

 

2. Find a Local Raw Food Co-Op

I belong to a co-op that services Oregon and Washington pet owners.  Not only can I order meat from local farms, I can order canned food, dry food, cat food, treats, supplements, toys, and other supplies.  Most of my shopping is now conducted through our local co-op.  As a member, I’ve been able cut our shopping budget by 50% - the annual membership is less than $50.

Find an updated list of US raw food co-ops at Keep the Tail Wagging

3. Feed a Partial Raw Diet

This option isn’t ideal, however, in my opinion - some raw is better than no raw. 

When our dogs were transitioned to raw, I fed them pre-made raw in the morning and dry dog food in the evening.  It worked out really well for our dogs and our budget.  If you choose to go this route, don’t mix the raw and dry dog food in the same meal - this can lead to stomach upset.

I started making our dogs’ raw meals at home two years ago.  At first, it was a lot of work, but once I developed a system, it became easy.  If the cost of feeding raw is holding you back, know that it is possible to afford a raw diet for your dog.

 

About the Author:  Kimberly Gauthier is the blogger behind Keep the Tail Wagging, a blog about raw feeding, dog supplements, and raising littermates.  Kimberly and her boyfriend are raising two sets of littermates in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy a property with plenty of room to run and explore.  Kimberly finished her first e-book on raw feeding called Raw Feeding from A to Z.  Rodrigo, Sydney, Scout and Zoey are all herding mix dogs, including Blue Heeler, Border Collie, Catahoula, Australian Shepherd, and Labrador (a lover, not a herder).

 

 

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