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.

Davenport IA, Veterinarian Talks Explains Diseases You Could Share With Your Pet…but Shouldn’t

 

According to the AVMA, in 2007 there were 72 million pet dogs, 82 million pet cats and over 4 million pet birds. At least 3% of the US households own a reptile. Almost one half of those pet owners consider their pets to be a member of the family. We are a pet loving country. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we can share more than love with our pets. Did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control that almost 14% of the US population has been infected with Toxacara (roundworm of dogs and cats). That’s because up to 30% of dogs fewer than 6 months of age and 25% of all cats are infected with roundworms.

Cats and dogs can carry Roundworms, Tapeworms, Hookworms, Leptospirosis, Ringworm and Rabies to name a few. Pocket pets and reptiles can carry Salmonella. Birds can also carry Salmonella as well as Psittacosis (a bacterial disease).

Who is most at risk? According to our friends at CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), it is generally those who come in contact with the soil the most often. That includes, gardeners, plumbers, sunbathers and of course children. Immune compromised individuals need to be particularly careful.

So should we get rid of all of our pets? No need to get so carried away. Following are some relatively simple measures you can take to control the risk of zoonotic transmission in your family.

  1. Wash your hands after handling pets, soil and feces. Be especially vigilant with youngsters.
  2. Don’t eat or smoke while you handle your pet. Especially if it is a reptile, bird or pocket pet.
  3. Pets and food preparation do not go together.
  4. Keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming. Dogs and cats should be on broad spectrum, year round anti-parasitic products.
  5. Get annual fecal parasite checks. That’s because you may give your pet his preventative but he may either spit it out or throw it up later on.
  6. Treat pets and their surroundings for fleas.
  7. Dispose of pet feces on a daily basis.
  8. Cover up your children’s sandbox when it’s not in use.
  9. Feed only cooked, canned or dry dog and cat food.
  10. Don’t allow birds or reptiles to roam loose in the house.
  11. If you are scratched by your pet, wash the area thoroughly.
  12. Vaccinate. Yes, there is some risk (1/10,000) of soft tissue sarcomas in cats with the use of Rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines. We try to make it safer by vaccinating every 3 years. However, our biggest concern is that Rabies is out there and it kills all of us all the time.
  13. Immune compromised individuals should not own reptiles or amphibians.
  14. Don’t let your dog or cat drink from the toilet bowl. According to CAPC this can spread human adapted strains of parasites to pets

Davenport, Iowa Veterinarian Itching to teach you about Fleas

 

Who hates fleas?  Everybody hates fleas!  Ctenocephalides canis or felis better known as the common flea is not a visitor anyone ever welcomes to their home.  For those of us who have had to deal with a flea infestation- once is definitely enough! Aside from the obvious “yuck” factor, there are a lot of good reasons to avoid this hopping, biting scourge of the insect world.

  1.  Fleas make their living by biting other animals and feeding on their blood.  When fleas bite they inject saliva into the skin of their host which can cause inflammation, itching, allergic dermatitis and hair loss.  Even worse, if the host is small enough or the number of fleas’ large enough, anemia can result from blood loss.
  2. Fleas don’t just bite your pet.  They bite you.  They bite your children.  Everybody gets itchy.
  3. A single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs each day and up to 2000 eggs in her short life time!!!  Of course by the time you discover that your pet has fleas, there are most likely eggs and larva throughout your home.
  4. Fleas act as a transport vehicle for the aptly named “Flea” tapeworm.  Pets ingest fleas as they groom.  Once the flea is in the digestive system, the larva breaks free and finds a home in your pet’s intestines. An adult tapeworm can grow up to 75 cm (29.5 inches).  According to CPAC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), “Infections of children with D. caninum following ingestion of an infected flea are occasionally reported. The disease induced in the child is generally mild, confined to the intestinal tract, and readily treated, but can still be distressing to the family.”
  5. Fleas carry the Plague – the Bubonic Plague.  This is particularly important in the Rocky Mountain States.
  6. Fleas carry Typhus and yes it can be transmitted to humans.  According to Pubmed Health, “Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii.” The form of typhus depends on which type of bacteria causes the infection. Murine typhus occurs in the southeastern and southern United States, often during the summer and fall. It is rarely deadly. Risk factors for murine typhus include:
    1. Exposure to rat fleas or feces
    2. Exposure to other animals such as cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks and rats
  7. Fleas can help to transmit “Cat Scratch” disease from one cat to another.  We humans get Cat Scratch Fever when we are scratched by an infected feline.
  8.  Fleas can transmit  Mycoplasma haemofelis a blood borne parasite that can cause damage to the red calls which results in anemia in your pet.
  9.  Even if your pet never goes outdoors, you can carry fleas into the house on your pants legs. Fleas can survive the winter just fine as long as you continue to heat your home. 
  10. Once there is an established flea infestation, it can be time consuming and expensive to resolve.  Like so many other problems fleas are much easier to prevent than alleviate.

 

I don’t know about you but I’m going to go make sure my dog is up to date on his flea prevention.

Davenport, Iowa Veterinarian Provides a Guide to Vaccinations

Vaccinations are one of the most common procedures a pet receives at the veterinarian’s office   Vaccines help enhance your pet’s  immune response as a way to prevent infectious disease.  Most species including humans receive vaccines at some point in their life.

We begin the process in young animals as maternal antibodies (received in the womb and while nursing) decrease. Once an animal becomes an adult, vaccinations are continued at regular intervals based on manufacturer’s recommendations and those of agencies such as the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and AHHA (American Animal Hospital Association) and AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners).  Your vet may increase frequency or even discontinue specific vaccines on a given animal if there is concern regarding immune response.

Vaccines are divided into two groups – either core or noncore. Core vaccines are recommended for every animal of a given species. An example of a core vaccine would be Parvovirus. It is endemic to the United States and can cause death or severe illness in affected dogs.

 Noncore vaccines are recommended for those individuals who are at risk for exposure to certain infectious agents. An example would be recommending Lyme vaccine for a pet that has had tick (which are known to transmit Lyme disease) infestation in the past or frequents areas that are known tick habitats.

AAHA vaccine guidelines consider the following vaccines core:

:

  • Canine Parvovirus: All puppies should receive 3 doses between the ages of 6 to 16 weeks administered 3 – 4 weeks apart. All puppies should also receive a one year booster. Unvaccinated adults require 2 doses at 3 – 4 week intervals. Annual vaccination is not recommended in adults.  This is why we use a 2 year vaccination interval at Animal Family.
  • Canine Distemper Virus: All puppies should receive 3 doses between the ages of 6 to 16 weeks administered 3 – 4 weeks apart. All puppies should also receive a one year booster. Unvaccinated adults require 2 doses at 3 – 4 weeks apart.  . Annual vaccination is not recommended in adults this is why we use a 2 year vaccination interval at Animal Family.
  • Canine Adenovirus (Hepatitis):  All puppies should receive 3 doses between the ages of 6 to 16 weeks administered 3 – 4 weeks apart. All puppies should receive a one year booster. Unvaccinated adults require 2 doses at 3 – 4 weeks apart.  Annual vaccination is not recommended in adults. This is why we use a 2 year vaccination interval at Animal Family.
  • Rabies: State statutes dictate rabies vaccine protocolsIn Iowa, puppies should receive one dose as early as 4 months.  All puppies receive a 1 year booster. Thereafter a dog may go to 3 year vaccination intervals.  Unvaccinated adults receive a single dose, a booster at 1 year and boosters every 3 years thereafter. Boosters must be done close to the original administration date or the animal will require a 1 year booster.

 

AAHA vaccine guidelines consider the following vaccines as non-core:

  • Parainfluenza: All puppies should receive 3 doses between the ages of 6 to 16 weeks administered 3 – 4 weeks apart.  All puppies should receive a one year booster. Unvaccinated adults require a single dose. 
  • Bordatella (Kennel Cough): Both puppies and unvaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3 – 4 weeks apart.  Thereafter annual boosters are recommended for high-risk animals.  We consider this to be a core vaccine at Animal Family because all dogs have exposure to other canines
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease):  Puppies should receive 2 doses.  The first at 9 – 12 weeks and the second 3 – 4 weeks later. Unvaccinated adults should receive 2 doses at 3 – 4 week intervals.  Annual boosters are recommended thereafter. Vaccination is recommended for those animals who live in or visit areas where exposure to tick vectors is high or animals who live in an area where the disease is considered to be endemic.
  • Canine Coronavirus:  AAHA does not recommend this vaccine since clinical cases rarely occur.
  • Leptospira:  Puppies should receive 2 doses between the ages of 12 to 16 weeks administered 3 – 4 weeks apart. All puppies should receive a one year booster. Unvaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3 – 4 weeks apart. Annual vaccinations are recommended thereafter.  We consider Leptospira a core vaccine at Animal Family because we see clinical cases every year.

This covers the vaccines recommended for dogs.  Next week we will cover feline vaccination recommendations.