Blog

Oct
12
The Economics of Energy

All dogs have energy but adolescent dogs have TONS! I bet you already knew this!

Dogs must burn off all that energy either physically or mentally, specifically through their feet, mouths or brains. When a dog isn’t stimulated in each of these areas daily and in an appropriate way, the energy will be expended in inappropriate ways. It is a simple case of supply and demand. Here are some suggestions on how to provide creative ‘demand’ for your dog’s seemingly endless supplies of energy!

  • Feet (physical) – They need to RUN! Walking, no matter how long or how far, just won’t cut it. They really need some good cardio activity where they can burn off steam! Play fetch! Play chase! Get them swimming! Practice long-distance recalls! When their physical energy isn’t expended properly, your dog will move to the next form of physical exercise – using his mouth. If your dog is gnawing on you or your furniture, it is a safe bet that they haven’t had enough exercise.

  • Mouths (physical) – They need to CHEW!!! Giving your dog appropriate chew toys like Kongs, bones, food puzzle toys, and the opportunity to play tug will help to direct their excess energy to an appropriate activity. Yes, I said ‘tug’. This is a natural activity for dogs and gives them something to use their mouths on. If your dog doesn’t get enough of the right things to use his mouth on, he will use it on you and on your stuff!

  • Brains (mental) – Dogs have ‘INQUIRING MINDS’! They like to figure things out. Training (not just repetitive drilling but training that requires them to really think), playing (both with you and other dogs), exploring and hunting are things that keep dogs fascinated. Dogs that aren’t using their brains will make up games to keep themselves entertained, like ripping up sofa cushions, peeling paper off walls, or chewing the flooring! (For further ideas, see the blog entitled,‘Think About It’.)

So, if your dog is mouthy with you or your things, or ‘creatively’ keeping himself busy, then you must consider whether you have a balanced economic plan. Exercise and mental stimulation are as essential to a healthy dog as...


May
08
Oh No You Didn’t!

The first thing most people think about when they bring a dog home is how to stop bad behaviors. Stopping them is important but even more important is preventing bad behaviors from occurring in the first place. Prevention not only keeps bad behaviors from becoming habits, it also stops the dog from finding out how much fun those bad behaviors can be! Behaviors that are fun for the dog will get repeated with greater frequency.

Imagine the dog who likes toilet paper. At his first opportunity, he enters the bathroom grabs a mouthful and runs! This gets the nearby human to immediately chase him in what he considers to be a great game of pursuit. Young dogs are explorers, so when you bring one into your home, look at the house from the dog&rsq...


May
08
Talking Dogs!

We’ve all heard the expression, “There’s an App for that!” It must be true because recently,I saw that someone had designed a smart phone application that translated ‘dog’ into English. Of course, they are just for fun and don’t really translate, but it was fun to think about. The truth is, you really don’t need an app to understand your dog. All you need is a bit of knowledge and some observational skills to receive and understand the message they are sending.

Dogs communicate in a variety of ways. Scent, vocalizations and body postures all convey information to other dogs. Scent is form of communication that we currently don’t know much about. Considering the amount of time and effor...


May
08
Shhhhhh!!!!!

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After a long cold winter, the warmer weather is finally here! As soon as it is warm enough, my first reaction is “let’s open the windows”! It is wonderful to be able to let the fresh air in but sometimes noise, like the sounds of dogs barking, filters in as well. This is the time of year when people suddenly become aware of their dog’s barking. Either because the warm weather is providing more opportunities and things to bark at or because the neighbors are complaining. Either way, it is a problem.

It is a familiar request. “Can you please help me to stop my dog from barking?” Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as the question. There are many different ways to deal with unwanted barking but how ...


May
08
Leashes On! To Greet or Not to Greet?

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Is it ok to let your dog greet another dog while on leash? You see it happening everywhere. Everyone does it, from neighbors to complete strangers in the park. It looks easy and fun, and it is considered a very social thing to do, for both people and dogs. With leash laws and dogs that aren’t trained to reliably come when called, how else can you let them socialize with members of their own kind?

The truth is, allowing dogs to greet on leash can be tricky and even risky. Leashes can increase tension between dogs when they greet because they are so close to each other and have a limited escape. This inability to flee can make dogs uncomfortable and cause them to react inappropriately. Combine that with dogs that may not be friendly a...


Aug
13
The Risks of Being Social

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A social dog is one that is comfortable in new situations, with a variety of other dogs, people and things. Having a social dog means that you are able to take them with you anywhere that dogs are allowed to go, without any drama. Socialized dogs don’t bark excessively, lunge or misbehave. They aren’t skittish or anxious, they adjust quickly to new situations and relax.

I have had lived with under-socialized dogs that required management and special care and I have had the privilege of owning social dogs that were easy going, friendly and confident. These dogs are a joy to live with everyday and I can include them in almost every aspect of my life. I would want it no other way.

Getting to ‘social’ requires effort. You must get your dog out and about for positive experiences with a variety of new things, places, sights, sounds, people, dogs and other animals from an early age. Then, you must continue this adventure you are both on, well-beyond their adolescence (i.e., two years). The benefits will pay off when you are enjoying the companionship of your best buddy and showing him off to boot. I love hiking with my dogs in the woods, taking them swimming in lakes, watching them play with friends and form new friendships. We enjoy going to the beach where children want to pet them and other dogs are curious. Thankfully, we sail through these encounters with nothing but pleasant memories.

The Risks
This type of socialization comes with some risks however. Hiking in the woods can result in getting a tick or two. There are tick preventatives of course, but as everyone knows, they don’t always work and Lyme disease vaccinations are only approximately 75% effective in preventing disease. Swimming in lakes can be problematic for ear and skin infections, hot spots, or ingested toxins. Going to dog parks can result in injuries. Walking your dog on the street can increase the likelihood of contracting parasites. Chewing on bones can cause broken teeth. Visiting Petsmart or even the Vet’s office can expose your dog to illnesses, like Kennel Cough, Ringworm, and Canine Papilloma Virus. A well-managed day care, the ultimate in social interaction for your dog, is no different.

What We Do
At Coventry Day Camp, we are proud of the social dogs that we have helped to nurture over the years. We provide a safe environment for the dogs to play and supervise and guide them to help them learn good social skills. But, no matter how safe we try to make things (i.e., rubber mats, rounded equipment, gates that open in, etc.), injuries can still occur. A jubilant adolescent who is happily being chased and running at breakneck speed, doesn’t see that 10 ft. piece of play equipment in front of him and WHAM! A scrape or sprain occurs! Have you heard the saying, ‘its all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone’? We screen all day camp applicants to ensure that they are friendly and good with dogs, but even under the best circumstances, with the friendliest of dogs, arguments occur.
The same is true for some illnesses. We require vaccinations of all dogs and check them regularly. Some would say that we can even be a bit nagging about keeping them current. We don’t allow dogs that have been recently adopted to even enter the building for a day camp evaluation until they have been known to be clear of diseases for a minimum of two weeks. We scrub the walls, floors, crates and equipment daily with the same disinfectant products used by Vets. But still, dogs can catch airborne diseases.

What You Can Do
Choosing to have your dog attend day camp to enhance his sociability is the perfect option for people who love dogs but have limited time due to their work schedules. Knowing the risks, what you choose to do will depend on what you want for your dog’s life with you. There are as many responses as there are owners. Some owners may decide to err on the side of caution and eliminate risks by limiting their dog’s activities to the back yard with little or no contact with the outside world. Others may choose to accept some risk while avoiding others. Some opt to accept the risks while doing their best to minimize whatever risks are within their control. At the end of the day, you get a tired, satisfied, socially active dog.

With some proactive steps on your part, you can minimize illness risk. Vaccinations are an important first step but not the only answer. Bordatella is the vaccination for kennel cough, the doggie equivalent of a cold. However, like human flu vaccines it isn’t effective against every strain and despite being immunized the dog can still get the virus. Additionally, there is no vaccination for Canine Papilloma Virus more commonly known as oral warts. The best alternative is to keep your dog healthy by supporting his immune system with natural dietary supplements. Like an ‘apple a day’ keeps the Doctor away,’ some additions to your dog’s meal might keep illnesses away too.
Here is a list of some suggested supplements to give your dogs that can keep them healthier and enjoying a full social life at the same time!

Salmon Oil – (Grizzly Oil or Nordic Naturals)

Aunt Jenis All Systems Go

Animal Essentials-Herbal Multi-Vitamin

Wholistic Pet –Canine Complete

Herbsmith Support Immunity

Nupro


Jun
29
Fireworks and Frantic Fidos

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WHIZ! BANG! POP! WHEEE!

It is almost the 4th of July and the fireworks are about to begin! This is a time for great excitement and family fun! Unfortunately, it can also be utterly terrifying for your dog.

The loud sounds that fireworks make, along with the bright flashes of light, are foreign to your dog. They have no idea what these things are; I imagine that they probably perceive them as some sort of cataclysmic natural event.

A scared dog, or any animal for that matter, can run blindly from the thing that frightens them. After the 4th of July, shelters are inundated with dogs that have fled their yards, homes and slipped their collars because of the fear that fireworks instill. The lucky ones end up in the shelter, some dogs never make...


May
08
Mounting: What is it and why?

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This past week I was asked about mounting behavior (i.e., ’humping’) and why it occurs. Since this is a frequent question, I thought that a blog about it might be a good idea.

This is the one behavior that seems to really freak people out. Most people erroneously attribute it to dominance. It is important to remember that dominance is NOT a personality trait. It is a term used to describe the outcome of a confrontation over a desired resource. The one that walks away with the resource, is dominant, in that moment. The next confrontation may have an entirely different result.

So let’s get to it, dogs mount for several reasons:

1. Excitement – anything that excites your dog can elicit mounting behavior. A favorite person arriving, the potential for a game or even their favorite snack may cause a mounting session.

2. Play – Dogs mount to entice another dog to interact with them. Occasionally, when two dogs are playing, a third will try to get in on it by mounting one of the players. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

3. Stress/anxiety relief – Some dogs aren’t sure what to do in certain social situations or are so nervous they resort to a comforting behavior, think of nail biting.

4. Social behavior – Dogs sometimes use mounting as a means of controlling another dog.

5. Sex – Yes, sometimes, it is about sex.

Mounting is not an exclusively male behavior. Females often engage in the activity as well. Additionally, the behavior is often directed at members of the same sex. When used in the context of play, excitement or anxiety, the sex of the “mountee” is not important.

So is it ok if they are mounting? The answer lies in the other dog. Does the other dog mind? In other words, are they growling or snapping or trying to get away? Do they turn to play and then take turns mounting? If it happens occasionally during a play session or once in awhile when your dog is very excited, it is no big deal. If it is your dog’s only behavior upon meeting other dogs or people, then you may want to determine what about the situation is either overstimulating or scary.

Will neutering stop mounting? Unfortunately, no. Some of the most dedicated mounters are neutered. There is no scientific evidence to support that neutering will change mounting behavior. If you would like to read more about mounting (and dominance) check out the link below:
http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/your-dog-dominant


Apr
14
Dominance and the Pet Dog

Dominance in the pet dog has become a common topic of discussion in just about every training session I conduct. Nervous and fearful owners confide in me “My dog is dominant” and then they timidly ask: “How do I dominate my dog?”. The more confident few even ask: “How do I teach my dog that my child is dominant?”.

Over the years I have heard just about every behavior you can think of attributed to dominance. From unruly behavior like jumping up on people or eating poop, to mounting, dominance is thought to be the root of all bad behavior. Just Google dominance in dogs and you will find a treasure trove of misguided information on the subject. I found one site that listed 28 behaviors that were attribute...


Aug
06
So, what’s in a name?

One of the more interesting things I’ve noticed over the years in training dogs is how the names of dogs have changed. I remember when dogs used to be named Buddy and Bowser, Rex and Rover or even names that focused on their appearance like Rags and Patches. In the last 10 years however, there has been a shift away from those traditional names. Now my class roster is full of names like Chloe, Abby, Allison, Oliver, Harry, and Charlie! And those aren’t the owner’s names either!

This is a wonderful trend and one that I think can be attributed to the fact the people are considering dogs as members of the family. Things can only improve for dogs as their status changes from family ‘pet’, to ‘family’.

W...