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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Preparing Your Doggie for the Veterinarian

Visiting your veterinarian is essential to keeping your dog healthy and happy, and it is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. However, a routine checkup can sometimes be distressing to our canine companions. It doesn't have to be that way...

When you consider what a vet visit entails, you can begin to appreciate why your dog may become so overwhelmed and (sometimes) hard to control. Not only will he encounter dozens of new smells, but he may also hear barking dogs, meowing cats, and strange voices. He may be handled by vet staff in unfamiliar ways that could add to his apprehension.

Help your dog feel more relaxed and even enjoy his vet visits by following these tips:
  • Take the dog to the vet clinic for brief visits prior to your appointment. Introduce him to the clinic when it is quiet to get him used to the smells and sounds of the new environment so it won't be entirely strange to him when you actually go for the exam. Let him meet the wonderful people who work there; have the staff give him a treat and place him on a scale, and allow him to sniff the exam room. A few visits like this will help him associate the vet clinic with a positive experience.
  • At home, during quiet times, you can help your dog become comfortable with being handled for a medical examination. Gently pat him on different areas of his body while he is in a relaxed state. Mimic how the vet will examine your dog -- touch around his eyes and ears, gently hold his feet and toes (which also helps alleviate his fear of nail clipping), lift his lips and touch his teeth, gently move his legs, etc. Take your time with this kind of touch, and do it ofter so that it becomes an agreeable experience for your dog both at home and at the vet.
  • Some dogs never go anywhere in the car except to the vet. Thus, a dog may begin to associate a car ride with visiting the vet and may begin to worry the moment you put him in the car. To prevent this anxiety, do some practice drives. Take him somewhere fun, so he learns that a ride in the car can end in a pleasurable destination.
  • Exercise your dog before a visit. A tired dog is more relaxed and easier to manage.
  • Throughout the visit, stay relaxed and unconcerned. Your dog can sense your feelings, and you need to remain calm so he can feel calm. Remember, your dog looks to you for his safety and security.
  • Keep your pet on a short leash while in the waiting area, and maintain control of him throughout your visit to avoid any stress, injury or altercations with other pets. If he shows any signs of aggression towards dogs or humans, be sure to have him muzzled for every one's safety.
  • If you have a small dog, take him into the clinic in his carrier. He'll feel more comfortable being in a familiar space, with his blanket, toys, etc.
  • After the vet visit, take your dog somewhere fun to play and to reward him.
Your veterinarian and clinic staff will also appreciate you taking the time to ensure your dog is calm and comfortable during his visit.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Proper Exercise in the Summer Heat

Wow! It is really getting hot out there and it is only the middle of June!

We always have this old idea that when it gets to summer, we all get outside and have fun. Well, that is the case if is doesn't feel like 100 degrees at 10AM in the morning. Because of the heat, we are spending more and more time inside. The same goes with our dogs. We don't walk them as much, we don't throw the Frisbee as much, we don't "roll in the grass" as much.

Exercise and entertainment are required activities to maintain a healthy and well behaved dog. I have recently experienced several clients who are keeping their dogs inside, without the needed "play time" and "exercise time". They start to misbehave and become "bored-destructive". The answer to this is simple. You must proactively manage a consistent "play time". Here are some ideas:
  • Get up early and take your dog for a walk in the cool of the morning. The sun is low and there are a plethora of great "morning smells" for your doggie to enjoy.
  • Plan pool time. Depending on the shades around your pool, jump in the water with your pooch for fifteen to twenty minutes. Have some floaty-catch toys that you can toss. Watch him carefully for any signs of exhaustion of fatigue. When you get out, go to your covered porch, dry him off, and then give him some water.
  • If you don't have a fenced area that you can use as a play yard, get a strong rope, put some hooks on the ends, and find an open area with a tree. Attach one end of the rope to the tree and the other to your dog's collar. Throw the Frisbee or ball. Just sit out there with him. Even if he isn't going crazy, the pure event of being out with you is something all dogs love. Do this, of course, in the cool of the morning or evening. And be sure to provide plenty of water.
  • NEVER leave your dog outside in the summer heat unattended. Like all dumb humans, we will forget they are out there. Hours could go by with them in the sun, heat, and possibly without water.
The big thing that I want to stress is that we shouldn't decrease our play time with our dogs simply because of the heat. Entertainment is one of the key factors our dogs require. We simply need to manage and plan our play time to take the summer heat into consideration.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why Extension Leashes are Bad

I hate extension leashes!!! ...And let me tell you why...

We Americans love things with buttons and gizmos, widgets, etc. An extension leash has a handle with a button. Button! Wow! I have to have that! No you don't. Bad, Bad dog owner.

When we are walking our dogs down the street, in the mall, at the park, etc., it is our job as dog owners to keep them safe. Our dogs need to understand that. They need to keep their focus on us so that if we change the direction of our walk, they will too. If we speed up or slow down, they will too. If we stop, well, you get the point.

In order to maintain this focus, our dog must always have an eye on us and we must have an eye on them. The only way we can accomplish this is if they are by our side. If they start to stray from our side, we must be able to appropriately guide them back to their proper position. When this takes place, we are providing the proper consistency and repetition of our actions to communicate to our dog "don't worry, you are with me."

Now we come to the dreaded extension leash. The only thing this leash does is to give your dog the ability to do whatever they want. Your dog is ten of fifteen feet out in front of you or beside you, or even behind you. Is he giving you focus to make sure that you are protecting him or is he sniffing the bush or barking at the squirrel? They are doing what they want. When this occurs in the canine world, and you allow it to occur, you are placing the "Boss Hat" on your dog. He gets to do whatever he wants because you are letting him.

When another dog or person starts to approach you, your dog will bark and jump at them. He is simply taking the leadership/protective role in the situation. You now get mad at your dog for his actions, but you were the one telling him he is the leader and has to protect you. That is that the extension leash does for you.

With the good old fashioned leash, you can keep your dog right next to you and naturally provide the leadership your dog requires. You will have a great "walkies" and a dog that will be well behaved on and off the leash.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Tip on Good Doggie Food

I feed my doggie Beneful because it looks so good on the TV Ad.... He always seems to be wacko!!!
I have never tried to pretend to be a nutritionist, but I would like to share some "rules of thumb" guidelines when looking for your dog's food.
  • Feeding your dog a good quality food can definitely help to extend their life. Just as we are encouraged to eat healthy, so should our dogs.
  • Feed your dog a dry food. Unless you are prepared to brush their teeth on a regular basis, wet food can lead to accelerated tooth decay.
  • When you are looking at the dog food ingredients, make sure that the meat is the very first ingredient. You do not want to see the word "by-product" following the meat. This means that it is a part of the animal that is normally thrown away. This is not healthy.
  • When reading the ingredients, you don't want to see corn, corn meal, maize, or any other corn derivative in the list. Corn can not be digested and simply passes right through your dog, providing no nutrition. The only thing that corn does for the dog food is add to it's weight.
  • Don't feed your dog Beneful. It simply makes them hyper and more likely to misbehave and not listen to your commands.
If you have any questions about your dog's diet, please ask your Veterinarian. They are the ones who clearly understand your dog's particular health concerns and can help direct you towards the products that will provide your dog with a happy, healthy, and long life.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.