Exciting Endeavors: Caring for Your New Puppy

new puppyThere is nothing more exciting than bringing home a new puppy, and experiencing all the love and joy they will add to your family. Owning a puppy isn’t all fun and games, however. By putting a little time, energy, and planning into puppy care, you can ensure that you’ll have a best friend for life.

Animal Family Veterinary Care Center shares our best tips and ideas for caring for your new puppy. We’re excited to be a part of your pet care family, and looking forward to setting you and your puppy on the road to lifelong health and happiness together.

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Beyond Fresh Breath: Why Pet Home Dental Care Is So Important

pet home dental careMost pet owners are familiar with the unpleasant (or downright foul) stench of doggie or kitty breath, but did you know that bad breath can indicate less-than-stellar dental health for a pet? Studies show that 85% of adult pets have some form of dental disease, and the bacteria found in plaque and tartar can have a negative impact on the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver.

When it comes to pets, a healthy mouth is paramount to a healthy body. You can help your furry friend achieve optimal oral health through a commitment to pet home dental care, and your team at Animal Family Veterinary Care Center can get you started.

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Dog Friendly Businesses Near and Far

dog friendly placesWe live in a world of animal lovers – and dog owners never miss a chance to take their favorite pooches with them wherever they go. Fortunately, many business and public places are embracing our canine companions by providing dog friendly spaces for well-behaved Fidos.

If you plan on sipping a cold brew on a dog-welcoming patio, playing fetch at a local dog park, or going for a walk downtown with your four-legged, here are some tips to help you find those great dog friendly spots.

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Socialization or How to Raise a Good Dog

cute bulldog puppy

 

We love spring at Animal Family. It’s not just the warm weather either. It’s the appearance of all those cuddly puppies we see every year.   After all, what’s much more adorable than a 7 week old puppy? The owners are great too. Generally kind and caring people who want to do everything they can to give their new friend the best possible start in life.  That includes socialization.

This is the time when we talk about core vaccinations, worming and getting puppies on parasite preventatives. We go over food choices and house training. We also discuss socialization. Our owners are encouraged to enroll in puppy classes and maybe Camp Canine as well. All of this is great but is it enough?

When it comes to socialization, the answer is no. Developing a healthy, well rounded dog is long term commitment.

Are there perfect dogs? Are some dogs born unsocial? Much like people, dogs are born with predispositions for shyness, reactivity, fear and other traits. Still, even the best dog can be improved and poorly socialized dogs are not always a lost cause. Nurture can influence nature. That’s why careful, ongoing socialization is so important.

Socialization begins the moment a puppy is born. Littermate interaction teaches canine social skills while handling and controlled exposure to stress by a knowledgeable breeder helps make puppies even more stable and accustomed to human interaction.

Puppies need to see as many different types, races and ages of people as possible. They need to be exposed a wide variety of objects too. Show them everything from umbrellas to hats to cars, bells, livestock and bunnies. Don’t put the dog away when there is company. Have them meet everyone but try to keep it as nonfrightening as possible.

As soon as it’s safe, dogs really need to meet other species as well. Cats, rabbits, rats, horses, llamas and everything else that’s not poisonous. Be sure supervise to keep interactions safe but the more new things the better.

Remember, that even if your dog did well as a puppy they can develop problems as a young adult if they end up confined to the backyard at 5 months. A well rounded dog needs continued trips to dog parks, day camps and additional training. If you walk your dog, try taking a different route every time. Bring along a bag of treats and have helpful souls feed your dog so new people are associated with good things.

Even if your dog doesn’t go to camp, bring them with you to pick up food or medications. They enjoy seeing us when we give them a treat instead of a vaccination.

Remember your reaction can influence any canine to canine meeting. Please, don’t let the end of a tight leash be the way you introduce your pet to other animals. Try using a head halter (Gentle Leader) instead of a regular collar during walks. They discourage straining forward which can lead to excitement and aggressive behavior.

If your dog barks or growls, don’t punish them. It’s not the end of the world. Get some distance from the other dog and distract yours with a treat.   The next time may go better. It can take time. Remember that even if you all you achieve is a dog who can pass another animal and ignore them that’s still great!

If your dog is able to do well at the dog park or day camp, even better. Just make sure you use a camp that temperament tests and groups dogs by activity level and sociability.

Finally, before you bring home a new puppy, research breeds and what their original use was. Compare and contrast breed traits with your personality and lifestyle. Recognize that there are variations within the breeds. There are aggressive Golden Retrievers and there are bully breeds that love every little creature, right down to tiny hamsters. Don’t forget to look closely at who you get your pup from. Puppy mills do not socialize.

So what if you do everything right and your dog still becomes, fearful, aggressive or overly anxious? It’s not hopeless. Consult with your veterinarian and have them recommend a trained animal behaviorist who can help you achieve a healthier pet.

Canine Careers:  Working Dogs and Their Jobs

Young Girl Being Visited In Hospital By Therapy DogIf you are like most adults, you probably punch the clock in one form or another. Working can be a pain, but it brings us a source of income, a feeling of fulfillment, and a sense of purpose. Believe it or not, many of our canine friends are no different. Keep reading to learn more about working dogs and what type of jobs they have beyond being loyal friends.

Working Dogs Who Help the Public

Public service is a place where our working dogs excel. They are a natural at many of the jobs asked of them. Dogs who work in the public sector may work with the military or law enforcement and often specialize in particular areas such as: Continue…

A Walk in the Park: Creating a Safe and Enjoyable Dog Park Experience

Funny catchingDog parks can present several benefits for our canine companions. From opportunities to socialize to essential mental and physical engagement, our dogs thoroughly enjoy those daily or weekly dog park excursions. But, there is a caveat: dog parks can also be sources of dog fights and irresponsibility on the part of pet owners.

Whether you’re new to the dog park routine or are simply looking for some tips to make your dog’s social experiences more enjoyable, we will cover some dog park basics that are often overlooked or ignored. Continue…

What to do about Dog Fights

 

 

 

Dog fights are frightening.  Worse, trying to figure out what started the fight in the first place can be confusing. That’s because there are many different reasons why dogs fight.

The first thing to determine is what constitutes a fight.  Dogs may scuffle and argue while establishing hierarchy, teaching a younger dog the rules of behavior, curbing over enthusiastic play or just testing the boundaries of an established relationship (such as a young dog testing the authority of the top dog as it ages). Scuffles may be loud but they are usually short in duration and don’t cause any injuries.  However, the one thing that can make a scuffle turn south is an interfering human.  Sometimes the best thing we can do is to let our dogs settle the small stuff themselves. Learn to stand back and watch for some moments before interfering.

 Fights are a different story altogether. Fights can be bloody and cause injury to both animals involved. Fights are just bad news. 

What sets off aggressive behavior?  

  • Anxiety:  Dogs who were not properly socialized as puppies and do not understand the social cues of other dogs will respond with anxiety and/or aggression.  They also appear unstable to other dogs who may respond aggressively. 
  • Resources:  Food, toys, favorite dog beds, the couch and you can all be important resources in the eyes of your dog.  If the top dog claims the lion’s share of the toys and you redistribute them “fairly” a fight may ensue. 
  • Excitement:  Try not to generate too much craziness when you play with your dogs.  Over the top adrenaline can cause a fight in even the most stable of dog families.
  • New Dog:   Adding a new dog to the household upsets the hierarchy. There may be just minor scuffles or a major fight as the social order is rearranged.
  • A housemate coming back home after illness, dog shows or travel:  Different smells and just the excitement of a homecoming can cause enough instability to start a fight.  It is usually a good idea to arrange a cautious reintroduction to the pack at home.
  • Top dog is ill or dies:  The sudden death or loss of health of an established leader of the pack can throw everything into a flux.  Younger or lower ranking dogs may see their opportunity to move up and start conflicts.
  • Pain:  Pain induced aggression can occur when the affected animal strikes out in fear and anxiety,
  • Leash Aggression:  Some dogs react aggressively on lead either because they fear  they will not be able to retreat if needed, they think their owner will back them up or their owner is telegraphing their own anxiety down the lead and unstablizing the dog.
  • Mother love:  Females will always protect their young.  Motherly protectiveness may cause them to attack housemates they have previously co-existed with amiably.
  • Territory:  a normally peaceable dog may become aggressive if a stranger enters his yard.

Aggression is best prevented by good management and early intervention on the part of the ownerLearn to recognize the signs of aggressive behavior and body language.

  • Direct and unwavering stare at the other dog.
  • Hackles up
  • Stiff and rigid body posture and movement.
  • Lowering of the head.
  • Growling, raised lips that show the teeth or a tight closed mouth.
  • Standing over or raising up of the body next to the other dog.

How do you prevent fights before they happen?

  • Spay and Neuter.  Can we say that too much?
  • Socialize your puppy!!!  Puppy classes need to start as early as possible, As soon as your puppy has had two in the series of vaccines and has been wormed get them in a controlled environment with other dogs.
  • If you get a second dog make it the opposite sex of your current pet.  Same sex households have more fights.
  • Feed and give treats separately
  • Avoid too many dogs in too small of an area.  Make sure everyone has a place to get away from each other.
  • Allow your dogs to establish a pecking order without interfering.  A few growls and scuffles should establish who is boss and what acceptable behavior is. Helpful humans cause a lot of fights.
  • Establish a routine and stick to it.  Order begets order.
  • If you aren’t sure everyone gets along and you can’t be there to monitor, use crates when you’re gone.
  • The more dogs you have, the greater the chance of fights.
  • Know your breeds.  Any dog can fight but if you have a dominant terrier you better adjust your management to fit a feisty personality.

What if a fight breaks out?

  • DO NOT scream and yell.  That just adds to the adrenaline.
  • DO NOT put your hands anywhere in the middle of a dog fight.  You will get bit.
  • First try distraction.  Command OFF or LEAVE IT or whatever command you have to stop activity.
  • Try an air horn or a shaker can as distraction
  • Use a tennis racket, small board or other object to get in between the dogs.
  • If that doesn’t work move up to a water hose or commercial citronella spray. Once they are separated get them in different areas of the house until everyone calms down. If you feel it is safe, allow them to calm down in the same room but make certain you act as leader and no new fighting erupts.      
  • Spend time trying to figure out what set off the fight and how you can change your management to prevent future problems.
  • If you aren’t sure what to do…consult your veterinarian for their advice and recommendations for an appropriate trainer.

Animal Family’s Easy Guide to House Breaking your Puppy

 When it comes to puppy training consistency is the key.

 

  • Always use the same door to take your puppy outside to eliminate. 

 

  • Take him or her to the same area.  Hopefully once that area smells like urine and stool their sense of smell will help stimulate them to eliminate.

 

  • Go out with them, so you can praise while they are going and give a treat right afterwards.  Don’t give them their treat once they are in the house.  If you do,  you praised them for is coming back in, not going potty outdoors.

 

  • Always use the same word for elimination, Start talking as soon as you take them out of the kennel and continue until you get to the designated place outside.  Choose a word.  It can be “go potty”, “do your business” or any other phrase that works for both you and your puppy.

 

  • If your puppy starts going to the door on his or her own, ask them to let you know it’s time to go out.  An easy way to do this is to hang a bell by your door.  You can teach the pup to touch the bell or simply reward them when they do it inadvertently. 

 

  • If your puppy goes outside and doesn’t get down to business (within 5 minutes or so) bring them back indoors and put them in their kennel (yes I do recommend crates or kennels).  Wait about 15-20 minutes and try again.  Make a big deal about it when they go outside (“YEH!!! GOOD PUPPY, GOOD JOB….LOOK HOW SMART YOU ARE!!!!!”)  Go ahead and give a treat as well. (Remember,  give the treat while they are outside.)

 

  • Anytime your puppy has been playing for more the 30 minutes go outside again…… Puppies can’t engage in more than  30-50  minutes of active play without needing to eliminate!

 

  • Puppy stays in the kennel when you can’t give them 100 %  of your attention!!!! That way they can’t sneak off into another room.  Use it like a play pen or crib for babies .  As they get better, try using the kennel less and less. 

 

  •  If your puppy makes a mistake in the house, clean it up thoroughly and be more vigilant.  The fewer mistakes your puppy makes indoors the faster he or she will learn.  No corrections unless you catch them in the act.  If you see your pup going potty in the house, startle and redirect.  Yell, shake a penny can or throw a toy towards them and then quickly take them to their designated area outdoors.  Spankings just scare and confuse the puppy.

 

  • Repeat as needed for good house breaking…. If you put all of your work in at the beginning you and Rover WILL SUCCEED! 

 

  •  House breaking is easier in the winter.  I find that you and your dog spend very little time outside, so the puppy really learns what you want.  Whereas in the summer, when both people and pets want to spend a lot of time outside,  puppy can potty any time and may have a much harder time understanding the actual mission.  Still if you are consistent you will get the job done.

How to Keep Your Pet Exercised in the Winter Months

AAHA Pets’ Matter is a great source of information on pet health.  This week we’d like to share their tips for keeping your dog healthy and active in the winter months.  Just click on the link below.

AAHA Pet’s Matter

Have a wonderful and safe New Year!

Making Veterinary Visits Better for Your Dog

We have all seen owners and/or trainers who have taught their dog, bird, horse or cat to do amazing things.  Birds with huge vocabularies, bike riding dogs and dancing horses.  So how hard should it really be to teach our dog to tolerate a visit to the vet??  If you’re willing to invest a little time, you can train your dog to be a happier patient.

It’s all about practice, practice, practice.

  • The first place your new puppy should visit is the veterinary office. The very first visit should just be to say hello and get some treats. Use the second visit to make sure they are healthy…
  • Get your puppy used to having his/her feet handled at home. Start by holding a paw then move on to grasping a toenail. Even if you never plan on clipping nails at home, get your pup accustomed to the clipper around their feet.  Remember to use lots of treats and praise! 
  • Teach your puppy how to take pills before they actually need to.  Have your puppy sit sideways next to you or on your lap if they are small.  Place one hand around the top jaw with your thumb and middle finger behind the canines.  Use your other thumb and forefinger to gently open the lower jaw.  Now just place a small treat or piece of cheese in the mouth on the tongue.  Do this a few times and you shouldn’t have any trouble when the time to actually medicate comes along. Today there are even specially made products to hide pills in that most dogs love!
  • Handle your puppy’s ears, clean the area around their eyes, lift their tail and run your hands along their abdomen. Desensitizing your pup to handling is one of the kindest things you can do for them.
  • Teach your dog to stand quietly.  Much of a veterinary exam is done with the pet standing.  If your dog is accustomed to standing calmly beforehand the stress level will go way down.  Again, use treats and gentle praise to let your dog know they are doing the correct thing.
  • Teach your dog to walk on a leash.  If your dog is out of control in the waiting area things will only go downhill in the exam room.
  • Once your pet is protected by vaccines, schedule a puppy class and/or doggie daycare. A well socialized dog is a stable dog.  
  • It’s OK to bring something from home. A toy or blanket work fine.  The familiar odor of home is calming.
  • If you‘re nervous your dog will be too.  Whatever you feel telegraphs directly to your pet.  Some people can’t actually be in the room with their dog.  That’s OK.  Just don’t let your limitations make things more difficult for your pet.
  •  If your dog acts up on the exam table please don’t stroke them and tell them everything will be OK.  Even though it seems reasonable to you it is actually rewarding negative behavior.  Remember your dog has no idea what you are saying he just knows he’s getting good feedback so his bad behavior must be fine with you.
  • When you’re done with your visit take your dog for a short walk around the outside of the clinic before you get in the car.  This will allow them to relax at the clinic not in the car as they are leaving.
  • Finally, don’t let going to the vet be the only time your dog gets in the car.  Make sure to take lots of fun rides as well where you can both relax and enjoy yourselves.