Whose Ball This Is I Think I Know (Playing Fetch)

“I swear I just found it!”

Whose ball this is I think I know.

I make him throw and throw and throw.

Some will, no doubt, think him a fool

To play the role of dog-whipped wretch

And expose himself to so much drool

As he makes me fetch and fetch and fetch.

How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch

“Gimmee that ball!!”

While some dogs love to play fetch, and for dogs like retrievers the game comes very naturally. Other dogs may find the idea of fetch foreign. Some dogs don’t have much interest in toys or aren’t naturally inclined to bring toys back after being thrown. Similarly, some rescue dogs may not have had experience playing with toys as puppies and just don’t know what to do with a toy. Fetch is a game that most people want to play with their dog and it can be frustrating if you throw a toy and your dog just sits watching you or goes and gets the toy but doesn’t bring it back. Although fetch doesn’t come naturally to every dog, it is a skill that can be taught!

Supplies Needed to Teach Fetch:

Toys

When teaching a dog to fetch, I like to have an array of toys available. This will let you get a feel for what kind of toys your dog is going to like. Some dogs are ball lovers while others prefer plush toys. If your dog is really not toy motivated (especially if they are a rescue dog who didn’t have a lot of exposure to toys as a puppy) it can help to find toys that have a velcro compartment to put food in can be very helpful. I’ve even used fun fur pencil pouches filled with smelly treats for teaching fetch to dogs who are especially reluctant to put something in their mouth.

Treats

For teaching your dog to fetch you want to have a lot of small pieces of high-value treats.

Clicker

If you use a clicker to train your dog, have it ready. Clicker training can be especially useful to help you communicate with your dog in the early stages of teaching the trick.

Step 1: Teaching Hold

The first step to teaching your dog to fetch is to teach hold:

Teaching Hold

  • Sit on the floor with your dog facing you, while holding a toy show it to your dog.
  • When your dog goes to investigate the toy praise/click and treat. At this stage, you want to reward any interest in the toy.
  • Next, increase the criteria slightly. Wait until your dog sniffs the toy click/praise and treat. Next wait to praise/click/treat until they put their mouth on the toy.
  • When your dog is regularly putting their mouth on the toy, start building duration into the trick by not immediately clicking/praising the instant they put their mouth on the toy. Wait a moment, and while their mouth is still on the toy click/praise and treat. Build up very slowly, adding just a half-second and then a second before you praise/click and treat.

Going very slow here will pay off later.

When your dog is constantly keeping their mouth on the toy for a couple of seconds before you click/praise and treat you can begin introducing a verbal cue like “hold.”

  • Once your dog is keeping their mouth on the toy until you click/praise and treat you can start adding in more time. Again, go very slowly building with fractions of a second of time you are asking your dog to hold. You can also begin moving your hands off of the toy. Then quickly put your hand back on the toy before your dog drops it. Praise, take the object, and give them a treat.
  • Keep your dog successful by working at their pace building the length of time they are asked to hold very slowly. It’s much better to do many repetitions of short holds then asking for one very long hold.
“You’ll give me back my ball if I let you have it, right?”

Step 2: Teaching Fetch

Once your dog has mastered “hold” it’s time to start teaching fetch!

Teaching Fetch

  • Hold the toy out to your dog in your outstretched palm and ask them to “hold”. If your dog takes the toy click/praise and treats. If they don’t take the toy that’s ok. Just practice the above “hold” skills a little more.
  • When your dog is successfully taking the toy from your outstretched hand place the toy on the floor in front of them. Ask your dog to “hold” the toy and when they pick it up immediately praise/click. This is where having gone slowly with building understanding with your “hold” cue will really pay off with your dog being able to generalize the skill to a new location. At this point, you can start to introduce your new verbal cue like “get it” or “fetch.”
  • When your dog has been consistently successful picking up and holding the toy, start moving the toy slightly further away from you. Start with the toy right next to you.
  • Start to very slowly increase the difficulty/distance away from you the toy starts just a few inches at a time.
The goal is to break down the retrieve into very small behaviors. Your dog can become successful instead of starting with the toy next to you and immediately moving it across your yard. That would be too much for a dog just learning the skill.
  • Continue increasing the distance you ask your dog to go to get the toy. As your dog gains understanding in the game, you can begin to alternate between asking your dog to get a toy that you have placed away from you and throwing the toy. It’s a good idea to also vary the toy you are asking your dog to fetch. Practice with balls, plush toys, rope toys etc.
  • Continue to build distance very slowly and keeping your dog’s rewards very high value. You will be building a lot of value in the hold/retrieve game.
“Hey, I was the one that was suppose to fetch that ball!”

With a little patience and consistent practice, the finished skill will be a smooth cued retrieve of any toy. Just remember that for dogs, you teach to fetch the reward isn’t the game itself. Be sure to continue to reward the fetching behavior with treats.

Dog Eye Tears And What They Mean

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Do Dogs Cry?

If you are a dog owner, then you surely understand that your canine has feelings. And research increasingly supports the view that dogs experience a range of emotions. But do dog eye tears really mean they are sad?

A study in 2016 showed that dogs are able to recognize emotions not only in other dogs but in humans too. In addition, many dog owners share stories about their dogs trying to comfort them when they are crying or upset.

Excitement, fear, love and anger are some emotions that your dog is likely to feel.

When trying to understand your canine’s emotional range and figuring out their overall health needs, you may wonder whether your dog feels sadness and cries like a human.

You also may be curious whether they cry due to pain or illness.

Keep reading and we’ll discover whether dogs feel sad and if they shed real tears.

Do Dogs Feel Sadness?

We know now that dogs experience a wider range of emotions than previously thought.

Unlike humans, dogs become emotionally mature early and have an emotional range equivalent to a two- to two-and-a-half-year-old child.

If you are familiar with toddlers, then you certainly know that they cry. Like a toddler, dogs feel emotions like fear, distress, anger, and suspicion.

These emotions are related closely to sadness. However, more complex emotions like shame and guilt never develop in dogs. So, dogs do not feel sadness quite like humans do.

Despair, remorse, depression, dejection, and misery are a few words that you might use to describe your own sadness. But when it comes to your dog, stress, discontentment, and uneasiness are better descriptors.

Do Dogs Cry When Sad?

When a dog is sad, you may see telltale signs that it is upset.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), canines have specific types of body language that can tell you how they are feeling.

While body language may not directly indicate a specific emotion, it can tell you if your dog is content, scared, or feeling aggressive.

Relaxed Face

Relaxed features indicate contentment. When relaxed, your dog’s mouth will be slightly open with the tongue out, and it may be panting. Its eyes may almost seem to be squinting, and the ears and tail will be in neutral positions.

Fear or Stress Face

In the case of fear or stress, your dog may take a submissive posture. Eyes will be partially closed, the ears will be pinned back against the head, and the tail will be between the legs. You may also see the mouth closed and the snout angled toward the floor.

It may seem as though your dog is cowering in front of you.

Dog In Distress

When your dog is in distress, you may notice some vocalizations.

Stress vocalizations include high-pitched barks, whimpering, and yelps. Yelps, whines, and whimpers may also indicate that your dog is experiencing pain. A dog in pain is more likely to growl or bite, so use caution if you think your dog might be suffering.

Dogs Mimic Humans

In some cases, you may even notice your canine companion mimicking human words or sounds. This is a common tactic your dog may use to show affection if you have reinforced this behavior.

While all of these things may be noted, there is one thing you will not see—your dog crying tears.

Can Dogs Cry Tears?

You may want to know, can dogs cry? Yes, dogs can shed tears.

However, they do not cry in the way we do in response to emotion. To understand dog eye tears and crying, it may help if we take a look at how a dog’s eyes are constructed.

Dogs have the same basic eye structure as other mammals. The cornea, lens, conjunctiva, and sclera make up the different tissues within the eyeball, just as they do in our eyes.

The eye sits in the orbit—or eye socket—and is protected by the upper and lower eyelids.

The tissues of the eye need to be kept moist. Moisture lubricates the tissues so the eyes can move smoothly in the socket and the eyelids can glide over the eyes.

We all know how uncomfortable dry eyes can be, and it’s the same for dogs.

Moisture also helps to wash away grit and debris that can scratch the sensitive surface of your dog’s eye.

Humans have a fairly simple lubrication system that involves the secretion of fluid from glands. They are called lacrimal glands, tear glands to you and me, and each eye has one.

These glands release fluid that is then forced over the surface of the eye with the help of your eyelids.

Do Dog Eye Tears Differ from Human Tears?

Yes, our dog’s tears are different from ours.  Dogs have much more complicated lubrication and eye moisture systems.

First, canines have a third eyelid located in the inner portion of the lower eyelids. This third eyelid, or nictitating membrane, is a clear structure that moves over the eye to protect it. It also moistens the cornea while maintaining vision and produces lymph fluid that helps prevent infection

Dogs also have three types of glands that provide moisture for the eyes. These glands work together to produce the moisture your dog needs to keep its eyes healthy and functioning properly.

They are the lacrimal glands, like humans have, the meibomian glands and mucus glands. The lacrimal glands create watery tears, the meibomian glands produce an oily tear while the mucus glands produce mucus.

When your dog blinks, these three are mixed together. This creates a thicker fluid that takes longer to evaporate and offers better protection to the eyes.

Is Your Dog Crying Tears?

No, your dog isn’t crying tears of sadness. Dogs do not cry when they are sad.

In fact, humans are the only beings that cry. According to Scientific American, humans even stand out against other primates as the only animals that cry emotional tears.

So, what is going on if you see dog tears? Well, it is likely an issue that requires the assistance of your veterinarian.

In medical terms, the excessive production of tears is called epiphora.

Epiphora is a medical condition that can be caused either by disease or a congenital disorder. In the case of a congenital disorder, your dog may be predisposed to watery eyes due to the shape of its face, particularly the eyes and nose. Excessive tears may cause red or brownish stains.

Congenital epiphora conditions are most commonly caused by the turning in of the eyelashes, the folding inward of the eyelids, or the bulging of the eyes themselves. 

Flat faced dogs like this French bulldog are vulnerable to eye problems that cause watering and tears.

Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Bulldogs, Pugs, and Mastiffs are just a few breeds that are prone to these sorts of issues. 

Other symptoms of epiphora include:

  • redness
  • crusting or discharge
  • eye sores or ulcers
  • odor
  • loose or inflamed skin around the eyelids
  • squinting.

If your dog is exhibiting these symptoms, speak with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Treatment should be provided right away so your dog feels as comfortable as possible.

Treatment may be as simple as applying a topical medication daily or as complicated as corrective surgery.

What Causes Dog Eye Tears?

If not caused by a congenital issue, a medical issue may be causing the eyes to water excessively.

The following conditions may result in excessive tearing:

  • foreign matter or debris in the eye
  • conjunctiva infections
  • sinusitis or acute sinus infections
  • allergies
  • tear duct obstructions
  • immune-related illnesses.

In order to diagnose the cause of epiphora, your veterinarian may need to use imaging tests to find the problem.

Specifically, X-rays may be needed to find eye abnormalities. Imaging and visual examinations may be done with contrast dyes to help your veterinarian distinguish the structures of the eye.

In situations where simple tests cannot be used to locate the issue, the veterinarian may order blood tests, MRIs, or CT scans. In cases where a serious issue is suspected, but cannot be positively identified, surgical exploration may be required.

Dog Eye Tears – Summary

Dogs produce excessive tears from their eyes in response to injury or infection or due to inherited problems with their facial anatomy.

Dogs don’t cry tears in response to emotions, such as sadness or fear, or when they are in pain.

That doesn’t mean that dogs don’t feel emotions. On the contrary, recent research shows that dogs experience and understand a range of emotions. Learning how dogs display their emotions through body language can help us understand them.

If your dog is producing excessive dog eye tears, they are likely to be sore and uncomfortable, so do get it checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible.


Behind the Door at the Vet

I have worked in the veterinary field for many years and have seen plenty of dogs that come in because they are crying and have something going on with their eyes. The first thing the vet will do is look into their eyes with a light to make sure their pupils are dilating correctly and see if the retina is still attached to the back of the eye. Next, they will stain the eye with fluorescein be sure there are no scratches on the cornea.

This is fluorescein in the eye to check for any scratches on the cornea.
This is a test to see how dry or watery the dog’s eye is.

If the eye is bad enough, the vet might suggest surgery to remove the eye if nothing has worked. Dogs are very resilient and this only effects their depth perception and not seeing peripheral vision on that side.


References:

Albuquerque N, Guo K, Wilkinson A, Savalli C, Otta E, Mills D “Dogs recognize dog and human emotions”  The Royal Society 2016

Morris P, Doe C, and Godsell E, “Behavioural reports and subjective claims by animal owners”  Journal of Cognition and Emotion 2007

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-humans-the-only-prima/

https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/eye-disorders-of-dogs/eye-structure-and-function-in-dogs

Dog Poop: What Your Dog’s Poop Is Telling You

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“After I empty myself, you know I’ll want more food!!”

*Warning: Dog Poop Pictures are Ahead. At least there’s no stink!!

Dog owners have to have a high tolerance for being grossed out. We’re expected to clean up after our pups, and not many of them are trained to use a human toilet.

But picking up your dog’s poop isn’t just a courtesy or a matter of public health, it’s a chance for you to find out what’s going on inside your pup. Dog feces can tell you a lot about a dog’s health and what may be wrong with their diet.

If you see anything unusual about your dog’s poop, then it’s time for a call to your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment!

Here are a few things your dog’s stool can indicate.

Normal Dog Poop

Normal, healthy dog poop tends to be firm and a little moist.

You should be familiar with your dog’s normal stool so that you can monitor any changes. The volume, color, and odor are important to note, too.

Dogs who get too much fiber tend to produce high volume with a strong odor. This happens with certain dry food diets, as your dog can’t process all the nutrients and pushes them out. Raw food diets can result in smaller stool with a weaker smell.

Any of these can be normal depending on your dog’s diet, so pay attention to what your pup’s poop usually looks and smells like.

White, Chalky Dog Poop

Dogs who eat a raw food diet that’s high in calcium or bone might pass stool that is chalky and white. This can be a sign that your dog is at risk for obstipation, which is an inability to evacuate their bowels without outside help.

This chronic constipation can lead to lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. It requires help from a veterinarian, so save these stool samples and bring them in.

White Or Tan Specks in Dog Poop

If you see white or tan specks in your dog’s stool, you should save a sample and bring it to your vet right away.

These specks can indicate a parasite infestation, like roundworm or tapeworm.

Your vet should be able to detect these things before you see evidence in your dog’s stool, which is why you should always go in for regular check-ups.


Black, Tarry, Green, Yellow, Or Red Dog Poop

Poop that is black, tarry, green, yellow, or red usually indicates bleeding and can be a sign that there are problems in the intestinal or anal area.

It can mean anything from an injury to the GI tract to cancer.

This will require a trip to the vet to determine exactly what the problem is, so again, save your dog’s stool sample so it can be tested.

Soft, Loose Stool

If your dog’s poop seems soft and loose, it may just be an indication of a change in diet, or it may mean your dog has been eating things they shouldn’t be eating.

If you’ve changed your dog’s diet recently, monitor changes in poop. You may have to alter the diet if it doesn’t improve.

A soft, loose stool can also indicate giardia or another intestinal parasite. Make a trip to the vet if the poop consistency doesn’t return to normal.

Greasy, Gray Stool

Poop that looks gray and greasy can indicate that there’s too much fat in your dog’s diet.

It may be time for a dietary change because too much fat can lead to inflammatory conditions like pancreatitis. These conditions can be mild or life-threatening, so take your dog’s diet seriously.

Watery Diarrhea In High Volume

“I can’t stop pooping!!”

If your dog is having three to five bowel movements a day and producing a high volume of diarrhea every time, it’s likely a problem in the small intestine.

There can be any number of causes from injury, to a viral infection, to bacteria, to food allergies.

Your vet will need to determine the cause, so bring in a sample of the stool for testing.

Watery Diarrhea In Low Volume

If your dog is having more than five bowel movements a day and producing a low volume of diarrhea each time, the problem is probably in the large intestine.

Again, there can be a range of causes, including worms, polyps, ulcers, or cancer.

Your vet can determine the cause, so you should provide a sample of the stool for testing.

Soft Stool With Mucous

A soft stool with a coating of unusual mucous can be a sign that parvovirus or parasites are present. If you notice worms or eggs in soft or watery stool, this is also an indication of parasites.

If you see this type of stool, then–this shouldn’t be a surprise at this point–get to your vet and provide them with your dog’s stool sample.

Your vet should be able to catch many of these infestations before you see visible signs in your dog’s stool, so make sure to keep up with regular check-ups.

My Personal Dog Poo Stories

I’ve had my fair share of looking at dog poop from Frankie and Chloe to working with other people’s dogs.

With Frankie, he would always be eating something he shouldn’t like leaves and seeds that fall from trees. It would always make him have diarrhea. When he got older, we started noticing mucus and blood in his stools. We took him to the vet and he was diagnosed with pancreatitis. Thanks to us paying attention to his poo, he got medication right away.

Chloe usually has normal poops. I’m always looking closely to make sure nothing is weird about her stools. Once in a while when she gets new treats, she might get some diarrhea, but we keep her very regular with her food.

When working with other people’s dogs, I always let them know what types of stools mean. Being a vet assistant, I am always happy when clients bring in stool samples of their dogs. It’s a very important item to dissect to understand what is going on inside the dog.

Stinky Dog Farts: Causes And Prevention Tips

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Eww, Who Farted?

Stinky dog farts are sometimes a thing of legend. You know your dog has a gassy problem when cuddling on the couch turns into a test of how long you can hold your breath. Your four-legged family member can let them rip with more stench than any person you know. While all dogs fart on occasion, some have the unnerving ability to pass gas that can only be described as deadly.

Song of the Skunk Cabbage

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,

By the shining Falling-Water,

Sat a sated son of nature,

Breaking wind with sacred pleasure.

Farting is completely natural and sometimes even good for your dog’s health, but poots that make you gasp for fresh air are a sign something isn’t right with your dog’s digestion. Smelly dog farts can’t actually hurt the person who’s forced to smell them, but the underlying issue could be affecting more than your home’s air quality. Before I get into ways to stop the smell, consider possible reasons your dog’s fart are especially bad.

Why Dogs Fart

According to the AKC, dogs develop gas for the same reasons their owners do.

“A change in diet, a food that doesn’t agree with them, and gastrointestinal illness can all lead to imbalances in the microflora in your dog’s stomach and small intestines. These organisms are responsible for the excess gas and subsequent farts that are making you and your dog miserable.”

“Well how dare you do that near me!”

Eating too much fiber and ingesting foreign objects can both be reasons why a dog is farting more than normal. Certain dogs also tend to swallow a lot of air when they eat and drink, especially short-nosed brachycephalic breeds like Pugs and Boston terriers. This additional swallowed air has to come out some way!

“Do you guys smell that?”

A sudden change in their diet can also upset a dog’s stomach, and excessive farting may be a symptom of food allergies. Before you can successfully put an end to the stink, you’ll need to determine whether the issue is related to a medical problem or nutritional lapse. If your dog isn’t interested in trying the new food you decide on, use this special trick.

  • Pick up the food bowl that has the new food that your dog doesn’t seem interested in.
  • Go to the fridge and open it, shuffling things around in the fridge.
  • Act like you are putting something in the dog bowl and shuffle the food around.
  • Set the bowl back down for the dog to eat.

Most dogs will think, “Hey, they just put some good yummy human food in my bowl!” and start to eat the new food.

How to Help Stinky Dog Farts Less

Your strategy for helping relieve your dog’s stinky dog farts will largely depend on the underlying cause. It might not be necessary to try all these suggestions, but if your dog seems otherwise healthy and you haven’t been able to pinpoint anything specific that’s causing the smell, it won’t hurt to initiate a full-on plan of attack. Here are a few things you can do.

1. Switch Dog Foods For Less Farts

Before you stress over the possibility of your dog being sick, realize the food they eat is directly related to the gas they produce. VetWest Animal Hospital writes,

“Most cases of chronic flatulence are caused by a diet that is poorly digested by the dog. These poorly digestible diets cause excessive fermentation in the colon and subsequent gas formation.”

Commercial dog foods aren’t always formulated with a dog’s healthy digestive system in mind. It’s up to you to read the list of ingredients and determine if it’s helping or hurting your dog’s health. The extra food your dog earns through begging could also be an issue. Dogs aren’t built to properly digest most human food, and regularly eating table scraps could be the simple reason why your dog farts. High-fat diets are known for causing excess gas, and foods like beans, dairy, and peas aren’t good either.

Try switching to a better quality dog food to test if it affects your dog’s gas. When you make the switch, do it gradually. Your dog’s stomach and intestines need time to adjust to the dietary change.

2. Make Them Eat Slower, Less Air for Stinky Dog Farts

Along with what your dog eats, how they eat could also be contributing to their farting problem. Dogs that scarf down their food in seconds also swallow a lot of air. The extra air passes through the digestive system and puffs out the other end in the form of flatulence. You need to slow your dog’s roll, and the best way to do that is with a slow feed dog bowl. These bowls have maze-like ridges on the bottom that force chowhounds to slow down.

PetMD also reports respiratory diseases can cause dogs to take in extra air, and AKC lists brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs and pugs as being more likely to swallow air while eating. Dogs might also take in excess air because they’re eating near a competing dog and feel the need to hurry up and eat before their food is stolen. Moving them to a private area during dinner will help them relax and eat without swallowing too much air.

3. Get Moving, Leave Farts Outside

Overweight dogs that rarely exercise are more at risk of developing chronic gas than the average active pup. Regular exercise helps stimulate the gastrointestinal tract. When digested food moves through the system smoothly, noxious gas is less of a problem. Going on walks also encourages dogs to poop, and going to the bathroom gives them the chance to expel those nasty odors somewhere other than your living room.

4. Feed Multiple Meals Per Day

Feeding a dog one or two large meals a day is okay, but it isn’t what’s best for their intestinal tract. With small meals, there’s less food sitting in the stomach that can ferment and turn into gas. This prevents there from being a build-up of gas that eventually turns into an expulsion of toxic fumes (aka stinky dog farts). Eating smaller amounts of food is also easier on digestion for dogs with sensitive stomachs. It won’t change the amount of food your dog eats, it only spreads out calorie consumption to be more manageable.

5. Avoid Handing Out Table Scraps

“If I just could have some of that please.”

There’s a reason dog food comes separately from our own. Foods high in fat and sugar that we humans enjoy (probably too often) can upset a dog’s tummy. Most dogs are lactose intolerant as well, so don’t go tossing them cheese or cakes. You should also avoid letting them have steamed vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. (If it makes you have major gas, it’s going to be worse for your poor dog.)

6. Try Dietary Supplements for Farts

A study (admittedly of humans) found that charcoal and zinc acetate reduced the fart smell. Another study found that Yucca schidigera reduced hydrogen sulfide concentrations that make dog poop extra smelly. All of these are available as dietary supplements, but consult your vet before you start giving them to your dog. They might also recommend probiotic powders or antacids.

7. Visit the Vet If Farts Are Not Resolving

If nothing seems to be working, it’s time to consider the possibility your dog has a medical condition. Excessive gas could be a symptom of any of the following issues:

  • Canine colitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cancer
  • Pancreatitis

But don’t freak out just yet. The only way to confirm the theory is to visit the vet. Don’t hold back when describing the severity of your dog’s smell and the frequency of their farts. Whether your dog has a GI illness, allergies, pancreas function failure, or parasites, a vet will be able to give you a diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatment.

“Hurry up and give me one of those gas pills. I’m feeling bloated!”

Frankie’s and Chloe’s Stinky Dog Farts Story

“Fart war begins after we eat.”
“There goes that sound again!”

Frankie was a pug, so I knew there would be farting. It was always cute at first when he would fart because he would toot and be startled by it. You’d hear a little “pffft” and he would quickly turn and sniff asking “Did that just come out of me?”. Later in his life he developed pancreatitis, which made his farts the worst I’ve ever smelled. It would make you gag! Then we’d have the family fanning the awful fart smell around the room!

“I think I just farted.”

Chloe has a little smoosh in her nose and has a elongated palate, so a lot of air gets trap when she eats and gets treats out of her toy. I’ve never heard a dog fart so loud! Some of the time I think it’s my husband. Chloe doesn’t care when she farts. She just lets them flow right out without noticing what she’s doing. When she’s sleeping is when the worst of the farts come out. All you hear is a “hhoooo” and all of a sudden it reeks!

Winter Time! Taking Care of Your Dog in the Cold

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“I need more clothes than just a scarf!”

Yay! It’s snowing!

Dogs can have a blast in the winter, exploring and frolicking in freshly fallen snow. But dogs (well, most dogs anyway) particularly love a snowy terrain. They like to bound and dig in their giant, new, snowy playground and never seem to want to go inside no matter how ready their humans are to leave the cold and wet outdoors behind.

However, frozen precipitation and colder temperatures can also be dangerous for dogs if their owners don’t take proper precautions. If you’re a new pet parent, or simply unsure of the best way to care for your pet during the winter months, it’s important to get acquainted with the do’s and don’ts of keeping your pet safe and healthy out there.

Keep Them Bundled Up

“I know I look dapper in this sweater!”

Even if the temperature is above freezing, pets’ extremities, just like our own, are extremely susceptible to wind chill. They can get hypothermia and frostbite on their exposed paws, noses and ears. While dogs don’t typically wear hats for long, you can help protect them from the cold by putting them in insulated sweaters and jackets, and covering their feet with waterproof paw booties. Those booties will also help keep their paw pads from cracking from the de-icing salt on roads and walkways.

Wipe Them Down as Soon as They Come Inside

“After you dry me with the towel, can I go back outside?”

As a form of precipitation, snow can leave pets cold and very wet at the end of a snowy play session, and if they remain like that for a while, they could get a cold or hypothermia (your furniture will also take a beating). In order to avoid all that, make sure to towel them off as soon as they come inside. You can keep a designated pet towel by the door so you never forget this important step.

NEVER Leave Pets Outside Overnight or For an Extended Period of Time

“Are they ever going to let me in? I’m starting to get balls of snow stuck to my fur.”

According to the Humane Society, you should never leave pets outside for long periods of time when it gets cold. In fact, leaving a pet outside alone in temperatures below freezing for more than 30 minutes is considered neglect, which is a punishable crime. Even if you have a typically outdoor cat, they should be able to get inside somewhere warm whenever they need to.

If your pet has to spend a significant amount time outdoors, they should have access to a dry, insulated shelter that’s large enough for them to move around in and maintains their body heat.

Eating and Drinking Guidelines

“Is this melted snow?”

Dogs especially expend more energy when they’re running outside in the cold. You can help them make up for that by feeding them a bit more food so they can replace the energy/calories they lost playing. You may also want to consider exchanging your metal food and water bowls for plastic ones if you keep them outside as a warm dog tongue could easily get stuck to them.

Keep Pets From Eating Rock Salt

DO NOT LET DOGS EAT SALT ROCKS

Pets suffering from salt poisoning, unfortunately, becomes much more common in the winter months. Rock salt is regularly used to de-ice the roadways and walkways they walk on. If they ingest it, either while on a walk or by licking it off their paws, it can be fatal. The best way to prevent salt poisoning is to keep an eye on your pet and if you notice they’ve eaten salt, wash their mouth out and call the pet poison hotline. If you’re not sure whether or not your pet has ingested salt, here are some warning signs of salt poisoning to watch out for:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • lethargy
  • not eating
  • excessive thirst
  • and/or urination
  • incoordination
  • tremors
  • seizures

There are safe alternative products to use on your slippery walk and driveway that are pet safe.

Take Them for Their Annual Vet Visit

“You said this was just a check-up. If I feel any shots, I’m pooping in your car!”

Right before winter hits is the perfect time to take your pets in to see the vet, because you’ll learn if they have any new conditions that might make winter a bit tougher on them. For example, chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease can lower a pet’s cold-temperature tolerance. And, of course, new or worsening arthritis can make for stiffer joints during cold snaps.

Shorten Walking Times

“I wish I had some fancy boots to keep my paws warm.”

It may be tempting to let your pet play in the snow for hours on end, but like us, they have cold weather limits, they just aren’t as aware of them. So if it’s below freezing, you should limit playtime to under 30 minutes, especially if you have an older pet or one that’s compromised in any way.

Cold Temperature Guidelines for Dogs

“I don’t whether I want to look silly or be cold.”

In general, cold temperatures should not become a problem for most dogs until they fall below 45° F, at which point some cold-averse dogs might begin to feel uncomfortable. When temperatures fall below 32° F, owners of small breed dogs, dogs with thin coats, and/or very young, old or sick dogs should pay close attention to their pet’s well-being. Once temperatures drop under 20° F, all owners need to be aware that their dogs could potentially develop cold-associated health problems like hypothermia and frostbite.

Don’t Leave Your Pet in a Cold Car

“Ummm, I think you forgot to roll up the window.”

Just like how a car left in the hot sun can heat up fast and basically become an oven for any living thing inside it, cars left out in the winter become like refrigerators. So the general rule of thumb is don’t take your pets on errands if you know you’re going to be leaving them in a car for longer than five minutes, especially if it’s balmy or freezing outside.

Pet-Proof the Inside of Your House

“I could sleep here all day with that warm fire.”

Since your pets should be spending more time indoors in the winter, it’s a good idea to secure all of your heating devices that could be susceptible to a bounding and/or large creature. For example, if you’ve set up a portable heater in your living room, make sure you have a barrier around it so that your pet doesn’t knock into it or knock it over and potentially start a fire. And if you have radiators that can get hot, you might want to put a barrier around them as well so that pets don’t burn themselves.

Frankie Hated the Snow, Chloe Loves the Snow!

“I don’t want to go into that crappy snow! I’ll just poop inside!”

In his younger age, Frankie would tolerate being in the snow to potty, but he never played a whole lot. He just went out to do his business and wanted to come right back inside the house. As he got older and developed diabetes, his litter paws couldn’t take the cold any longer. He would walk out alright, but then he would hop around until someone would pick him up to go back inside.

“Throw me another one of those snowballs!”

Chloe on the other hand could play in the snow forever! She loves running through the snow and being goofy. She especially loves when I make snowballs for her and throw them. It’s funny when she instantly freaks out because she can’t find it in the snow! Then I let her lick a snowball so she knows its a real ball!!

What I Look For In a Poem (Only In Dog Poetry)

“This poem comes straight from my Boxer heart.”

Being a dog loving person and loving a good dog poem, some of the dog topics may sound weird. I like looking for all kinds of information about dogs and different medical health conditions. Sure, I know some topics people may think I’m weird, but I just want to know all I can about keeping fur companions happy and healthy.

Many people feel that they sound stupid or uneducated about dogs. Don’t be shy! I’m here to help you with anything to do with dogs.

No question is a stupid question.

Albert Einstein
“I wish I was bilingual in dog and Human language!”

What I look for in a poem is grace,

In which each word knows its place

And metaphors flow out of sense,

And there’s consistency of tense.

I look for poems about rabies

Or the threat posed by dogs to babies,

That focus on scabies or skin conditions

Or dogs who can’t control their emissions.

But all of it done in extremely good taste!

Because a poem is a horrible thing to waste.

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions. I’ve probably heard them all! Contact Me!

I Hope You’re Having Fun (Biscuit on Nose)

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Training your dog to balance a biscuit on their nose is a great bonding experience. Your dog may not be so happy to wait for a treat that is right on their nose though!!

“Come on, you know this kills me to perform this trick.”

Your lack of kindness–it shows.

Your imagination? Not fecund.

You’re not the owner I would have chose;

My hate for you deepens and grows

With every single second

This biscuit stays on my nose.

Training Your Dog to Balance a Biscuit on Their Nose

With some practice and a lot of patience, you can teach your dog the treat on nose trick.

Let’s teach your dog a trick that reinforces patience with food!

Try the following steps to train the Treat-On-The-Nose trick!

(Brush up on your sit-stay before you attempt this trick.)

Your dog has to sit perfectly still to hold the treat! This trick requires a lot of patience on both parts. Be prepared to stay calm and not get frustrated. Remember this is something fun for you and your dog, not a requirement!

  • Start with a sit-stay directly in front of you while you sit in a chair. Their head should be slightly resting on your lap.
  • Put one hand under the dog’s head and raise its nose until it is level to the floor.
  • Place the treat slowly and gently on the flattest part of their nose.
“You better let me play in the mud after this!”
  • While you rest their muzzle in your hand, alternate praise with the phrase “Hold It!” in your command tone.
  • After a few seconds, release him, praise him, and let him flip the treat off his nose and eat it.*
“Finally I get the biscuit!!”
  • Repeat this process five to ten times per day for several days.
  • As your dog begins to hold their own head steady, begin to remove your hands slowly from their muzzle to let them do it alone.
“I could just roll this biscuit into my mouth!”

*Dropping the biscuit

Some dogs will drop the treat on the floor and pick it up. Others will flip it into the air and catch it. If you want the flip method and your dog is a “dropper”, immediately command them to “leave it” if they drop it. Let them take it if they flip it.

With consistency, this will condition the dog to flip it. If they do not catch it on the first flip, praise the effort with “good dog!” so that they do not give up. When they do catch it, praise vigorously!

Have fun!

“If I could just get my tongue on that biscuit!”

Why Do Dogs Chase Squirrels? National Squirrel Day!

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Why Dogs Chase Squirrels

“I’m going to get you little squirrel!”

A walk in the park or a stroll down a country lane can turn into a frenzied hunt for squirrels for some dogs and their owners! A flighty little dash of fur and suddenly your pup is off on the chase. Their prey drive kicks in and there is very little you can do when this happens.

Hunting, chasing and rushing off after small animals are a worry if you are out walking and trying to enjoy some exercise. Everyone wants to feel safe to walk in a park or open country environment with their dog.

Chasing squirrels is particularly common for breeds of dogs with instinctive desires to hunt. They get the scent of a little critter like a squirrel and Mother Nature takes over. Small breeds of dogs, like Terriers, are natural born hunters. In many situations, uncontrolled chasing can have unhappy consequences. Overcoming instinctive reactions is challenging but not impossible. Armed with patience and some helpful guidelines, you will be able to make a difference and curb this behavior.

The Root of the Behavior

Hunting

“I’m going to get you this time! That’s the last time you poke fun at me.”

Hunting is a natural behavior of animals like dogs that have descended from wolves. Nature has equipped dogs with a strong sense of smell and a desire to chase smaller creatures. Their brains are wired to respond to an animal running away with a chase reaction. Add to that some breeds are bred to track and flush out game. They are driven by the scent of the animal they are chasing and an innate prey drive response. When your dog gets into this instinctive mode, it is difficult to change their mind without some prior intervention and coping skills.

Sense of Smell

“I know I can smell a trail of squirrels around here somewhere. Can you smell them?”

A dog’s keen sense of smell is the key issue. Dogs have a sense of smell that is between 1000 to 10,000 times more powerful than ours. Some dogs, like Beagles, are incredibly scent driven. Dogs also have a large olfactory center in their brain where they can store all the information about smells they know. The scent of squirrel is probably high up there on the list of scents to remember. In some cases, long after the squirrel has disappeared, your dog will carry on the chase just because they still smell the scent of the squirrel.

Squirrel: “Maybe if I just act like a dog, he won’t notice me.”

The hound group of dogs is especially scent driven. It is a good idea to find out about a breed and it’s instinctive behavior before you contemplate having them join your family.

Positive Reinforcement Obedience Training

A good place to start correcting the behavior is with some basic obedience training. If you are aware that the breed you have is a member of the scent hound division, then keeping their focus on you is going to be very important.

Your dog should focus on you while on walks when you notice something that may trigger your dog to misbehave.

Attending obedience classes and learning the basic commands of sit and stay will give you more control. Reward your dog for listening and being focused on you. Little treats that they really love will give the message that you have a better reward to offer than the squirrel in the tree. Correcting instinctive behavior is challenging. While you are trying to correct the behavior walk on a leash or even use a Head Collar to have control over lunging and pulling.

Avoid areas with lots of squirrels while you are training. Start your obedience activities a fair distance away from the squirrel zone and move closer as you see your dog being more focused on you and less on the squirrels.

Prey driven behavior may need the help of an animal behaviorist if you are not able to deal with this yourself.

Encouraging the Behavior

Squirrel chasing is always going to distract your dog on a walk as it buys into their prey drive instinct. The natural sequence of predatory action is:

  • search
  • stalk
  • chase
  • grab

It is important to watch out for the initial stages of this sequence and intercept before the chase begins. Try to watch your dog and anticipate the beginning of the sequence and intercept with a distraction. A noise distraction is often successful as this will draw attention away from the squirrel even if it is just for a moment. A tin full of coins to shake or loud whistle could be the noise distraction.

Join a Group For Tracking Dogs

The prey driven dog or scent hound may actually bring you a lot of joy if you recognize their natural ability and join groups of other dogs and their owners participating in tracking events. Training with other dogs and rewarding your dog for the behavior they were bred to do could be great fun for both of you.

Find dog tracking groups at: https://www.akc.org/sports/tracking/getting-started/

Scent Game at Home

Learn how to play scent games at home or in your backyard.

Start with a few bits of kibble or a treat and let your dog search for the treats. Say ‘find it’ or ‘go fetch’ as a command and then build on the experience by hiding treats in more difficult places. You will be rewarding your dog for using their natural instinct and challenging their mental and physical abilities. Although chasing squirrels is not to be encouraged, participating in scent trail groups and organized activities is a great idea.

Search and rescue activities and agility are all the kinds of dog outlets that will go a long way towards enjoying the instinctive nature of your dog as a true blue hound.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Your dog’s safety is always of paramount importance and therefore encouraging random chasing in public places poses dangers to the dog and other citizens. Starting obedience training early on in your dog’s life will help enormously to give you the upper hand.

Trying to break the pattern of a prey drive instinct will require patience and determination. You will always have to manage your walk with care as you look out for the instinctive signs of a chase mode. Getting your dog to focus on you is the important behavior you are looking for.

Remember the chase is enjoyable for your dog. They are having fun while you struggle to get them under control. Some breeds are more driven to chase than others, so take that into consideration and find activities to allow for this instinctive desire to chase. Your prey driven dog will thank you!

Patience Will Pay Off

“I know I’m not suppose to chase after that squirrel, but he’s been mocking me!”

Preventing squirrel chasing could be almost impossible with some breeds of dogs but you may be pleasantly surprised when some of your patience and time spent training pays off. Imagine how you and your dog will feel after a round of ‘find it’ in the park when you have a moment of success.

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Fido.

Fido who?

Fidon’t catch that squirrel, I am going to go nuts!

Chloe LOVES Looking For Squirrels

“What kind of creature are you?”

Chloe loves squirrels. Whether it’s sitting inside looking out the window for squirrels or walking and catching a glimpse of one before I redirect her attention. She’ll try sneaking on them if she’s in the backyard, but she’s not very good at sneaking!

She’s only caught one squirrel that had an injured leg (squirrel was too slow!). Chloe only had it gently in her mouth, then dropped it when I yelled at her to drop it! The squirrel wasn’t injured by Chloe and ran away.

On walks when she sees one, she’ll start whining and do her little jumpy dance. I just have to redirect her with a little “Ah, ah” and she will stop with a little huff. (She gets mad that she can’t play with the squirrels!)

Float Like a Malamute (Fly Like a Butterfly)

Just like us humans, dogs like to celebrate when they have won at something. They like to sing their own song that starts out “Float Like a Malamute”
This is a sports poem that dogs use when they are competing. The human version goes:

“Fly like a butterfly, Sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.”

Muhammad Ali
Famous Boxer in 1960-1981
“I promise that I’m a lover, not a fighter!”

Float like a malamute

Sting like a saluki

I look kind of cute

But when I hit you, you’ll puki

“I will fight to get the last treat!”

How To Stop A Dog From Digging

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Why Do Dogs Like to Dig Holes?

“There has to be some treasure here somewhere!”

Do you need to know how to stop a dog from digging up their yard? Just why do dogs dig holes? And how can we keep dogs from digging under fences and in flower beds?

If your puppy has been digging holes in the flower bed every time your back is turned, or every time you try and plant something in the flower bed, you are probably wondering how to stop them.

To stop a dog from digging effectively, it’s important to understand why they are digging holes. Dogs dig holes for lots of different reasons. Once you know why your dog digs holes in the yard, you’ll have a better chance of stopping them effectively, without conflict.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons your dog might be digging. And what you can do to prevent him from digging.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Digging?

There are two possible ways to stop a dog from digging. One is to prevent access to the area they like to dig. The other is to work out why they are digging, and then tackle the root cause.

Erecting a fence to separate your dog from any area that they could potentially dig is something that you could consider. If your puppy is still small, then you could use a puppy pen to prevent them from getting access to their desired area.

However, most people do not want to fence their backyard. They would rather enjoy spending time in it with their dog – but without fear for their rose bushes!

So let’s look at alternatives to fencing your dog out of their favorite digging zones.

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?

To understand how to stop a dog from digging, your first step should be to establish why they are doing it.

There are a lot of possible reasons that your dog could be digging. These include enjoyment, prey drive, accidental reinforcement from the owner, excess energy and even escape efforts!

Let’s look at each of the potential reasons in turn, and what you can do to help stop your puppy digging in each scenario.

“Where did I put that bone?”
  • Temporary Changes: Stress-Related Digging
  • Digging For Fun
  • Digging to Hide Food
  • Dogs That Have Learned to Dig
  • Dogs Digging to Solve A Problem
  • Energetic Dogs That Dig
  • Dogs Digging Under Fences to Escape

Temporary Changes to Your Dog’s Situation

Pregnant bitches can dig when they wouldn’t ordinarily, due to instincts to create a place for their pups.

Likewise some dogs dig when they are anxious. This stress can be caused by a new environment or change in lifestyle. For example if you have gone on holiday and someone else is caring for them.

Provided things go back to the status quo soon, then this digging behaviour should reduce once normality returns.

If your pregnant bitch starts digging in a way which is out of character for her, then it’s worth waiting to see whether this behavior stops once she has had her litter of puppies.

However, if your puppy or dog is a keen digger and the behavior has increased gradually over time, then you will need to take action to stop your dog digging. What you should do to prevent dogs from digging holes will depend upon the reasons why they are digging them in the first place.

Dogs Enjoy Digging!

“Is this hole big enough for your flowers?”

Some dogs dig just for the fun of it. This is more likely to be the case with Labrador puppies than adults. Some dogs will lose interest in digging as they grow.

Sometimes a dog that digs for fun will continue doing it into adulthood however. This is something which certain breeds of dog, such as Terriers, are more inclined to do because of their ancestors’ roles.

For those dogs who continue to enjoy digging, there are ways to channel this enthusiasm more productively. One which a lot of people find success with is in making them a dedicated digging ground. This will usually consist of a structure much like a children’s sandpit. You can encourage them into it if they are reluctant to go by offering treats and standing in it yourself. However, most dogs upon realising that there is an easy to dig surface will happily redirect their efforts to it.

Rather than trying to prevent dogs from digging, in this scenario we just give them their own dedicated digging zone! The dog is still happy, and so are your rose bushes!

Dogs Digging to Hide Extra Food

“I have to hide this in a hole where I can remember for later.”

Dogs will also sometimes hide surplus food, so if they are given a large chew toy or bone to gnaw on for example, they will dig a hole to put it in when they have temporarily had enough.

If this is the only circumstance in which your dog is digging, there are a few ways in which you can stop them.

One is by only giving bite size treats which they won’t be inclined to store. Another is by supervising them when they have a large bone or chew toy. Either taking it away as soon as they are bored with chewing or eating it, or only letting them have it indoors where they haven’t got the option of digging.

If your dog is young, you can try giving them access to these things outdoors again in a few months when the habit has worn off.

Dogs Who Have Learned to Dig

The answer to the question ‘why do dogs dig holes?’ is sometimes “because someone accidentally taught them to”!

They have have been accidentally taught to dig by their owners, or rewarded by the things that they have found.

‘Just doing what needs to be done!”

If you are a keen gardener then your dog might have observed you shoveling soil on several occasions. You may even have laughed or encouraged them at some point when they tried to get involved.

They could also have found something tasty in the soil once, and effectively reinforced their own behavior and been encouraged to keep trying.

If this is the case you can break this habit.

First prevent access to the area of the garden that their efforts are focused on. Although this can be tricky, putting up temporary fencing or only exercising them on a long line for a while in the yard can break the habit effectively.

You may find if you do this that after a few weeks you are able to give them access to this area again without the behavior restarting. Although I would advise leaving them indoors when you do your weeding in the future!

Is Your Dog Digging to Solve a Problem?

“I love the feeling of smushed mud on my belly!”

Occasionally a dog will dig because it helps to solve a problem that they are having. The most common example is probably a lack of somewhere soft or cool to lay down. If the weather is hot and your dog digs a hole and lays down in it, they are probably trying to cool off. You can stop them from doing this by providing a shaded area or paddling pool for them to play in.

Likewise, if the weather doesn’t seem to be a factor but they are still resting in their newly turned out hole then it could simply be that the undug ground is too hard to lie down on.

Providing them with an alternative place to rest will mean that they don’t need to dig to achieve it. Perhaps an outdoors waterproof bed or a pile of straw, depending upon the set up in your garden.

Energetic Dogs Dig More

“Gotta dig. Gotta dig. Gotta dig!”

A lively dog might decide to start digging to burn off some of their energy. If they don’t have space to run, or have missed out on routine daily exercise, then they will find other ways to stretch their legs.

In addition, dogs with more prey drive may transfer this very specific energy to digging! Labradors, for example, were bred as gundogs. They have a certain level of inherent prey drive.

This may be transferred to digging if they have seen or smelled rabbits or other animals popping in to visit your back lawn. They are digging to try and get at the rabbits. Or other creatures that they can smell have been around the yard earlier.

If your dog is digging because they are bored or looking for prey, then keeping them busy when they are in the garden will help.

There are a couple of ways to keep your dog busy in the yard. You can try some games or do some fun bits of training. Make sure it is a positive experience for them. The excitement you offer is greater than that which they got from burrowing into the ground.

Try keeping their favorite toy just for yard time. Get some new special treats that you give for high reward training outdoors.

Dogs Digging to Escape

“I need to get to those pesky squirrels!”

If your dog is digging under fence lines because they want to get out of the back yard, this can be tricky to deal with. Especially if they have self-rewarded by managing to escape in the past.

Dogs are more likely to repeat a behavior that results in “things improving” for them. If your dog is digging in order to leave your yard, or just to be able to see out past the fence line, the solution is to make sure they get no ‘reward’ from doing this.

How to Keep Dogs From Digging Under Fence Boundaries

The best thing you can do is to enforce the fencing under the ground so that it is impossible for them to achieve anything.

Make sure that it is not just wire, as being able to see the outside world may be reward enough for them to keep doing it. A dig proof fence should be a visual barrier as well as a physical one.

If you can entirely block your dog’s visual access to the world beyond your back yard, they will over time give up on their endeavors.

But it is vital that you make sure they don’t gain anything from doing it. So make sure they don’t get out, or get to see more of the world by digging.

If they do, they will keep on trying to dig under the fence in the hope of another reward!

How to Stop a Dog From Digging

“I love helping out!”

Hopefully I’ve shown you that knowing how to stop a dog digging will depend partially upon why they started doing it.

You may find that solving this problem is simple once you have established why your dog is doing it. Or you might have to implement several of the options above to resolve the problem. For example, restricting access to certain areas of the garden and putting a digging zone into another.

Whichever method you use to prevent your dog digging in your backyard, make sure that you don’t fall out with them. They are not doing it to annoy you.

And although it might be frustrating or time consuming temporarily, it is totally within your power to stop them kindly but effectively.