Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fears and Phobias

Unfortunately a large number of our four-legged friends are terrified of things in everyday life. How are we supposed to help them? First, you have to notice the dog is having a hard time.  Then you have to determine whether it is a fear or a phobia.  A fear is when a dog startles and worries about the stimuli, and a phobia is when a dog shuts down and worries to the point of exhaustion. Some dogs with a phobia will do anything find way out of the situation, causing them to get loose or run out into traffic and get hurt or worse; some dogs will bite; other dogs will check out. When checking out happens they can either be in a panic or standing completely still and look like they are fainting. Dogs can also have dilated eyes, dry panting, and many other symptoms. .No matter what symptoms your dog has, you have to find things that can help them cope.
One thing that is highly recommended is Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP). This comes in the form of a collar, spray, or diffuser. The pheromone is a synthetic version of the pheromone a mama dog would put off in her milk to relax her puppies. It’s works just like we would use aromatherapy in our homes to relax ourselves.
Another thing to try is the Thundershirt. It works just the same as swaddling a baby. When you put it on the dog it makes them feel secure and in turn can relax them.  I have had a lot of luck using this shirt with phobias. Every dog is different, so it will depend on how severe the phobia is as to what the results will be. Dogs with extreme reactions may only slow down movement or trembling. Although, dogs with less severe reactions may stop shaking or come out from under the bed. Dogs with minimal reactions to the stimulus may just go about life normally. I have found that the shirt doesn’t always work the first time. Sometimes they have to wear it 4 or 5 times to start relaxing when it goes on.
Of course, to help the dog with any fear or phobia, it would be most beneficial to add training into the mix. This can teach the dog how to handle a scary situation, in turn making it less scary.
I do want to say that sometimes we have to recommend you go to your vet to get started on medication because the symptoms are so severe. (We always recommend you try the non-medicinal things before you make that vet trip). After getting the dog on the right medication you want to add the training in. Our company works with the local Veterinarians; they prescribe the medications, we help the owner with the training. The medication just takes the edge off so we can start conditioning the dog to handle the anxiety in a different way. Many times the dog only has to take the meds temporarily.

In closing, when severely stressed, dogs can do amazing things. Make sure your dogs have collars with tags in case they bolt. A microchip will help get your dog home if the tag falls off. Good luck with your four-legged babies and call Side Kick Dog Training for further information about your dogs fear or phobia, so we can get you started in the right direction. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

"My dog doesn't usually do that?'

People who spend a lot of time with their dogs, know their dogs. (Or at least should) If you ever hear yourself say, "That's not something my dog usually does", STOP. What was the thing your dog did? Is it a dog (or any animal) you haven't had for very long? If so they could hopefully just be adapting to your home. If not, or if it's a dog you have had for years... you have to look a little more carefully. The behavior could be anything; sleeping more; sleeping less; eating more; eating less; pacing; whining; not wanting to go on a bike ride; less interest in toys; licking obsessively and the list goes on. Noticing something out of the ordinary can mean the difference between life and death. Unfortunately our furry friends can't tell us if something is wrong with them, so we have to listen to the subtleties. If you have any worries, talk to your vet. If you want a second opinion, don't worry about hurting your veterinarian's feelings. If anyone is a true professional they wont mind. I talk with my colleagues all the time to see if they have any different ideas to help with behavioral issues. I want all dogs to do well in life, even if it wasn't my idea that helped them. So love your four legged furry friends and take notice when they might be trying to tell you something important.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why do we scoop our dogs poop?!

The long and the short of it is so that we don't spread diseases... Believe it or not, many people don't get their dogs the shots they need and fewer get them dewormed. If you're one of those people, please be extra careful with your dog's feces. Just take a few seconds to pick it up. You never know when you be causing someone else to have a sick dog and a huge vet bill.
For those of us who do get our dog's shots and dewormings, pick it up anyway. If your dog isn't on a monthly preventative, they could still contract parasites....Therefore spreading them to others. I know some of these medications can be expensive, but they are still cheaper than a dying dog's vet bill. And not to mention, if the infestation is bad enough with certain parasites... you just might loose your best friend.
For more information on parasites, the ways to contract them, and prevention, contact your local vet.