Author Archive: drbrooksafftonvet

Teach your Dog to Come

training dog

Teaching your dog to come is just as important for your pet’s safety as it is a convenience to you.

Before you begin, you’ll need a collar and a long leash (at least 15ft). Give your dog a chance to get used to the collar and the effect of the leash. Pick a time and place without distractions to train.

This first lesson should only be a few minutes long. Stand with your dog a few feet away. With the leash, and without verbal command, gently pull your dog toward you. Give your dog praise when he approaches you Repeat the process several times.

After a few lessons, your dog should approach you at the slightest tug of the leash. Once this happens, say “come” once in a normal tone at the same time you tug the leash. Repeat this process until your dog responds without the leash having to be tugged.

Now that your dog will respond to the verbal command, you can work without the leash in a controlled area. Continue to use the verbal command and reward your dog with praise when he responds correctly. If your dog challenges your authority and does not respond to the verbal command, you can go back to using a combination of verbal command and the leash for a while.

 

How To Remove A Tick

Before you begin, get a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or special tick removal instruments. They allow one to remove the tick without squeezing the tick body, which could force harmful bacteria into your pet’s bloodstream. Do not use your fingers to remove or dispose of the tick.

You want to grasp the tick by the head or mouth parts where it enters the skin. Again, do not pinch the tick by the body.

Pull firmly and steadily directly outward, without twisting or jerking.

After removing the tick, you can place it in a jar of alcohol to kill it.

Clean the bite wound with a disinfectant. You can also apply a small amount of triple antibiotic ointment.

When finished, wash your hands thoroughly.

It is not uncommon for a welt and skin reaction to occur. In some cases the bite area may be permanently scarred leaving a hairless area.

Do not try to make the tick back out by applying petroleum jelly, a hot match, or alcohol. These irritants may just cause the tick to deposit more disease-carrying saliva in the wound.

Tagged as: Lyme diseaseMedicineMicrobiologyTick

Do you know to help your PET?

canstock9888688It’s thunderstorm season. While I’ve read that 20 percent of dogs are thunder-phobic, the number may actually be higher, as it doesn’t include people who have never sought treatment for their thunder-phobic dogs. People with thunder-phobic dogs know that it is no small problem. It doesn’t go away by itself, and left untreated, it only seems to get worse with age.

Symptoms of canine thunder-phobia include destruction, anxiousness, pacing and panting, hyperactivity, and crawling into a confined space, such as a bathtub or under the bed. The fear is often completely irrational. In most cases, nothing “bad” has ever happened to the dog during a thunderstorm. It’s more about a fear of what could happen. A dog with a severe thunderstorm phobia appears to think the world is coming to an end. Some people worry that their panic-stricken dogs are going to have a heart attack. To make matters worse, people often feel helpless and panic-stricken themselves when they don’t know how to help their dogs.

Six Holistic Ways to Calm your Thunder-Phobic Dog:

1) Confined Spaces: Allow them to go into a confined space, if they desire. If they are most comfortable in the bathtub, their crates, under the bed, or in a closet, allow them to be in that space. The space they retreat to may also be a quieter space that helps them minimize the sounds of the thunderstorm.

2) Counter Classical Conditioning: The idea is to pair something that your dog absolutely loves with the thing that they are afraid of. Timing is of great importance, because it’s important to start this before your dog’s anxiety is built up too much. When he is just sensing a storm approaching and starts to show mild signs of anxiety, make chicken fall from the sky, or take out his favorite toy for a fun game of play. If your dog is food motivated, this is a good time to have some very high value reward that he goes bonkers over. If you wait until your dog is already extremely panic-stricken, this probably won’t work. But, if you can keep his focus on the treats or toys, when the sounds get louder, rewarding just after a loud thunder boom with the high value reward could be very beneficial. Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., CAAB, has more detailed information on counter classical conditioning here.

3) Sound Therapy has been very effective in helping dogs with mild to severe thunder phobia issues. Play Music to Calm your Canine Companion by Through a Dog’s Ear . It includes classical selections with psychoacoustically designed changes that are clinically demonstrated to relieve canine anxiety issues. It is usually most effective when you first play the music well before the thunderstorm starts, at a time the dog is already feeling peaceful and relaxed. He will begin to associate the music with being calm and content. The music doesn’t need to be loud to be effective as it has been clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Here’s a great story from Mel about her dog Bean, a formerly panic-stricken thunder-phobic dog. Though skeptical, she had tried everything else and introduced Bean to Through a Dog’s Ear music right when the storm started. Bean not only snoozed through that storm, but has since slept comfortably through every subsequent storm. Listen to free sound samples

4) Desensitization and Habituation: Canine Noise Phobia is an innovative desensitization training tool that combines three distinctive elements for the treatment and prevention of sound-sensitivities and noise-phobias: progressive sound effects, specially-designed psychoacoustic music, and reward-based reinforcement protocols. Thunderstorms CD includes training protocol written by Victoria Stilwell, the famed dog trainer on Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog.

5) Wraps: There are two canine wraps on the market that reportedly help sound-phobic dogs. The original Anxiety Wrap was invented by professional dog trainer Susan Sharpe, CPDT-KA. The patented design uses acupressure and maintained pressure to reduce stress and the stretchable, lightweight fabric breathes and allows your dog to wear it in hotter temperatures. The thunder shirt is also a wrap for your dog that provides gentle, constant pressure (although made of a much heavier material). Their website reports that over 85 percent of Thunder shirt users see significant improvement in noise anxiety symptoms. Most dogs respond with the very first usage; others need 2-3 usages before showing significant improvement.

6) Pheromone Therapy: According to the Dog Appeasing Pheromone website, pheromone therapy has been very effective and successful in treating phobias and stress experienced by dogs. Pheromones are natural chemicals within animals and are said to be the chemical that affects animal behavior. For dog appeasing pheromone therapy, pheromones are taken in through the nasal passage of the dog to produce a calming effect on one part of the brain that is connected to the dog’s behavior and emotion. DAP is supplied to dogs as a plug-in diffuser, a spray (which has been scientifically tested and has been shown to be effective on decreasing stress driven behaviors by more than 85 percent), and a DAP collar.

These are all holistic ways to intervene and consult with your veterinarian an=s if these methods are not successful and pooch is struggling, need to intervene with possible medical intervention. There are a multitude of drugs that can be used to alter behavior; ideally, we don’t like to drug Fido…so talk with your veterinarian about the mentioned items to choose the right approach for your dog.

Crate Training For Puppy

An airline shipping crate or wire crate provides guaranteed confinement of your puppy for reasons of security, safety, travel, and house-training. Dogs love crates! It is their “own private place”–a “security blanket.” The crate helps to satisfy the “den instinct” inherited from their ancestors. If the dog would have his choice, I suspect he would take having his life controlled and structured by his owner, rather than being punished later for causing trouble. Failure to housebreak a dog is a major reason many dogs eventually end up in the animal shelter!

The crate when correctly and humanely used, has many advantages for both you and your pet:

You can:

  • Enjoy complete peace of mind when leaving your dog at home alone, knowing that nothing can be soiled or destroyed and that he is comfortable, protected, and not developing any bad habits.
  • Housebreak your dog more quickly by using the close confinement to encourage control, establish a regular routine for outdoor elimination, and to prevent “accidents” at night or when left alone.
  • Effectively confine your dog at times when he may be underfoot (meals, family activities, unwelcome guests, workmen, etc.), over-excited or bothered by too much confusion, too many children, or illness.
  • Travel with your dog without risk of the driver being dangerously distracted or the dog getting loose and hopelessly lost, and with the assurance that he can easily adapt to any strange surroundings as long as he has his familiar “security blanket” along.

Your dog can:

  • Enjoy the privacy and security of a “den” of his own to which he can retreat when tired, stressed, or ill.
  • Avoid much of the fear/confusion/punishment caused by your reaction to problem behavior.
  • More easily learn to control his bowels and to associate elimination only with the outdoors or other designated location.
  • Be spared the loneliness and frustration of having to be isolated (basement, garage, outside) from comfortable indoor surroundings when being restricted or left alone.
  • Be conveniently included in family outings, visits, and trips instead of being left behind at home. You want to enjoy your pet and be pleased with his behavior. Your dog wants little more from life than to please you. A dog crate can help to make your relationship what each of you wants and needs it to be.

CRATE COST:

Even the most expensive dog crate is a “BARGAIN” when compared to the cost of repairing or replacing a sofa, chair, woodwork, wallpaper, or carpeting! Always buy one that is “airline approved.”

CRATE SIZE:

A crate should always be large enough to permit the dog to stretch out flat on his side without being cramped and to sit up without hitting his head on top. It is always better to use a crate a little too large rather than one a little too small. Measure the dog from the tip of the nose to the base (not tip) of the tail. Allow for growth by adding about 12 inches. A crate too large can be made smaller by adding a partition of wire, wood, or masonite. Remember that a crate too large for a young puppy defeats its purpose of providing security and promoting bowel control.

LOCATION:

Since one of the main reasons for using a crate is to confine a dog without making him feel isolated or banished, it should be placed in, or as close to, a “people” area like the kitchen, family room, etc. To provide even a greater sense of security and privacy, it should be put back in a corner. Admittedly, a dog crate is not a “thing of beauty,” but it can be forgiven for not being a welcome addition to the household decor as it proves how much it can help the dog to remain a welcome addition to the household.

CRATING A PUPPY:

A young puppy (8-16 weeks) should normally have no problem accepting a crate as his “own place.” Any complaining he might do at first is not caused by the crate, but by his learning to accept the controls of his new environment. Actually the crate will help him to adapt more easily and quickly to his new world.

Place the crate in a “people” area the kitchen, if possible, in a spot free from drafts and not too near a direct heat source. For bedding, use an old towel or piece of blanket that can be easily washed. Also you might include some freshly worn unlaundered article of your clothing such as a tee shirt, old shirt, etc. Avoid putting newspaper in or under the crate, since its odor may encourage elimination. A puppy should not be fed in the crate and will only upset a bowl of water.

Make it clear to all family members that the crate is not a playhouse. It is meant to be a “special room” for the puppy, whose rights should be recognized and respected. You should, however, accustom the puppy from the start to letting you reach into the crate at any time, lest he become overprotective of it.

Establish a “crate routine” immediately, closing the puppy in it at regular intervals during the day (his own chosen nap times can guide you) and whenever he must be left alone for up to 3-4 hours. Give him a NYLA-BONE chew toy for distraction and be sure to remove collar and tags which could get caught in an opening.

The puppy should be shown no attention while in the crate. Dogs tend to be much better psychologists than their owners–often training the owner, rather than the owner training the puppy. Any attention shown to the puppy will simply cause the puppy to believe that whining, crying, etc., is all that is needed for him to get more attention.

The puppy should be taken outside last thing every night before being put into the crate. Once he goes into the crate, he should stay there until first thing in the morning. IMMEDIATELY when the puppy is removed from the crate, he should be taken to the chosen area for his bowel eliminations.

Always feed the puppy early enough to allow ample time for bowel elimination after eating before placing the puppy in the crate. This can be up to one hour, depending on the dog. Simply clock the time after eating until the bowel movement occurs to determine this time interval for your particular puppy.

After the puppy is fully housetrained (usually 8-12 weeks of cage use), you simply can leave the door open (or take it off) and allow the puppy to come and go as he chooses. If the puppy becomes destructive during his growing phases, it is a simple matter again of confining him in the crate when he is not under your supervision.

Even if things do not go too smoothly at first-DON’T WEAKEN and DON’T WORRY! Be consistent, firm, and be very aware that you are doing your pet a real favor by preventing him from getting into trouble.

Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

 

Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth at Home can go a long way toward prevention of dental disease. Some pets resist brushing, but most will eventually accept it, especially if you start brushing when your pet is young (10 weeks to 10 months). Brushing your pet’s teeth should minimally be performed three times per week. For even better results, aim for once daily.

Tooth brushing requires training, just like other commands such as “sit”, “down” and “come”. First select a consistent and convenient time for you and your pet. This should be a time when you are both relaxed.

Step 1:
For the first few days, simply hold you pet close as you would when you are petting his/her head and face. Gently stroke the outside of you pet’s lips and cheeks for a minute or two. Get your pet used to your hand surrounding their muzzle.

Step 2:
Choose toothpaste you pet likes. Several brands and flavors are available to help coax your pet into the brushing routine. (Do NOT use human toothpaste, as it may be toxic if ingested).

Place a small amount of the flavored paste on your finger and offer it to your pet for several days as a reward or treat. This will help condition your pet to view brushing as fun and rewarding. Once your pet accepts the toothpaste as a reward, use your index finger on the pet’s gum line and teeth to simulate the brushing motion of a toothbrush. Remember to praise your pet with enthusiasm while giving the daily dose of flavored toothpaste.

Step 3:
In 5-7 days introduce a finger brush or a soft-bristled pet toothbrush. You can give a small amount of toothpaste in the beginning of the session and again at the end to reinforce the learned behavior.

The brushing technique for dogs and cats is similar to that for people. Position the bristles at a 45-degree angle to the tooth. Make small circular strokes at the gum line while rotating the bristles outward to remove debris. Start at the back teeth and work forward around to the other side, gradually increasing the number of teeth brushed each day until you have built up to 30 seconds of brushing per side. 8-10 strokes are sufficient for a given area. The outer surfaces of the teeth are the most critical to clean. Holding the muzzle closed aids in preventing chewing at the brush as well.

Very few pets will tolerate inner surface brushing and it is not recommended to attempt brushing inner surfaces until such time that your pet is consistently allowing and tolerating the outer surface brushing. To brush the inner surfaces of the teeth, try inserting a hard rubber toy in the front of the animal’s mouth to hold it slightly open with your hand wrapped gently around their muzzle while you brush. Do not force inner surface brushing on your pet as it may cause undo stress and reluctance of your pet to accept tooth brushing all together.

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