Common Dog Behavior Issues and How to Fix Them

Every dog is going to need some type of home training as there are common behavioral issues that can arise. Dog owners are capable of fixing many of these issues, although it often takes patience and consistency. Here is a look at some common dog behavior issues and the ways to fix them.

Excessive Barking

There are times when dogs just keep on barking, which can be frustrating for their owners. However, the barking is typically a sign identifying the state of the dog. For example, barking is a product of dogs being startled, playful, bored or anxious. Barking can also be done in an effort to seek attention or identify themselves to other dogs. It is important to be able to read your dog and recognize the cause of the barking. Shouting at dogs and yelling “no” will usually worsen the situation. In order for dogs to stop barking, they need to be relaxed and comfortable. Positive reinforcement is recommended as owners should attempt to make their dogs feel at ease to eliminate excessive barking.

Chewing on Furniture and Household Items

Dogs who chew up furniture and other household items can cost their owners a pretty penny. When that problem occurs indoors, it is wise to invest in some chew toys which can replace the furniture. If the problem is occurring in your backyard, try putting a leash on your dog the next time he/she ventures outdoors. When dogs are set to chew on something they are not supposed to, give a tug and let them know that is not okay. It may take a few times to do this before they learn their lesson.

Begging

When you are sitting down to have a snack or meal, a begging dog can be an unwelcome sight. The first step to eliminating this issue is to not feed your dog anything from your plate. One or two crumbs is enough to keep them begging for more, even days and weeks later. Another important step is to ignore a begging dog while you eat. Doing this consistently will eventually teach the dog that those begging efforts will be to no avail. It is also important to not feel sorry for a begging dog, who is usually very well fed and does not need any scraps from your plate.

Jumping on People

Some dogs have a tendency to jump on people as soon as they set foot in a home. Remedying this issue will take some work and reinforcement. Try putting your dog on a leash and have someone knock on your door. Walk to the door and command your dog to sit. Do not open the door until your dog complies. When the door opens, have the person ask the dog to sit and reward the dog with a treat when that directive is followed. If the dog tries to jump, prevent him by tugging on the leash. This will need to be repeated until the dog learns that he will be rewarded for sitting instead of jumping when guests arrive.

Aggression

Some dogs have been known to act aggressively and that could be due to a variety of causes. Some forms of aggression may be in the form of a growl or quick nip. Aggressive behaviors range widely and include territorial, social, protective and possessive forms of aggression. The first task is to identify what is motivating your dog to behave aggressively. Behavior modification is then used as a way to treat aggressive behavior. There are several exercises owners can do with their dogs in the behavior modification process. However, patience and consistency are imperative for this to work as each approach much be tailored to the particular type of aggression.

Humping

It can be quite embarrassing when your dog starts humping every leg he can find. Some dogs will exhibit some early warning signs before beginning trying to hump someone or something. When you notice those signs, try to distract your dog by giving him a treat, chew toy or ask him to play some type of game he is familiar with. And when your dog does try to hump, use a firm voice and tell him “no” while pushing him down. If it continues, put him in another room for a time out. However, there will still be the need to go beyond discouragement as the humping will need to be replaced with a positive activity, such as sitting on cue.

Different Types of Dog Food and Their Nutritional Value

Simply because a product is labeled as dog food does not necessarily mean it is good for dogs to eat. Similar to food sold for human consumption, there are types of dog food which are both good and bad for dogs.

When buying groceries, most people take the time to check the ingredients within certain products. However, not everyone checks out the ingredients of the dog food they purchase. Here is a look at some of the differences among today’s most popular dog foods.

Dry Dog Food

There is a large selection of dry dog food to choose from and it also has a very long shelf life. There is also the convenience factor to consider as it comes ready to eat. However, this is a processed food, which means there are preservatives and fillers added. Nutrients are also lost in the processing of dry dog food. This is also a significant lack of freshness. Dry dog food does have its advantages when it comes to rationing meals as dogs who eat a little at a time can continually come back to dry dog food. It is good for dogs who are considered grazers while the kibble may also make dogs less inclined to finish large servings immediately.

Wet Dog Food

Wet dog food is easier to chew and is often viewed as a better alternative for older dogs who may be experiencing problems with their teeth or gums. Wet dog food is also a better option for dogs who are still growing as it typically contains more protein than dry dog food varieties. Wet dog food can actually last longer than many types of dry dog food. There is also the option of blending wet and dry dog food to get a mix of the benefits offered by each variety.

Raw Dog Food

This option allows dogs to get nutrients in their purest form. This often consists of muscle meat, which is still on the bone. The advantages of using raw dog food extend to cleaner teeth, shinier coats, increased energy levels, smaller stools and healthier skin. There is a lot of upkeep with maintaining this type of diet as meat must be eaten shortly after purchase or frozen and thawed before eating. It can be costly and there is also the risk of bacteria in raw meat. However, if handled correctly, a raw dog food diet can improve the health of a dog.

Dehydrated Dog Food

Nutrients in dehydrated dog food are very pure and there are generally less digestive problems than there are when using dry dog food. The dehydration process retains a lot of the minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and vitamins. This serves as a contrast to the way that dry dog food process uses high temperatures that eliminates many of the nutrients. Dehydrated dog food also does not add any additives or preservatives.

Homemade Dog food

Freshness is readily available when it comes to homemade dog food. This option gives dog owners complete control over what goes into their dog’s meals. While this can be time-consuming, there are other factors to consider. Dog owners need to learn what dogs can and cannot eat. There is the need to balance the ratios of what kind of nutrients dogs need in their diets. A balanced diet is necessary, but requires a different kind of balance than humans. For example, dogs have difficulty digesting grains and have no biological requirement to include them in their diets. That is just one of many factors in maintaining an appropriate and balanced diet.

Ingredient checks

It is important to note that not all meats are the same in dog food. Much of the meat used is rendered meat, which remains a bit of a mystery. Dog foods listed with just meat or meat meal are not divulging where that meat came from. And when it comes to chicken, look for chicken or chicken meal as an ingredient, as opposed to chicken byproduct. It is also important to note that some dog foods use corn as a food filler. This type of food is the dog equivalent of human fast food. It will satiate your dog’s hunger, but it is not at all nutritional or healthy.

A Look at Dog Parks and What They Entail

Dog parks have benefits that people and their pets can both enjoy. Dog parks are also on the rise throughout the United States as they have become the fastest growing kind of park in the country. These popular spots have created a unique kind of culture and here is a closer look into all the intricacies that comprise American dog parks.

Dog Benefits

Being able to run freely without a leash can be a welcomed opportunity for dogs. A trip to the dog park also allows dogs to socialize with other dogs. That is an important aspect which is strongly emphasized in dog obedience classes. Numerous behavioral problems among dogs are commonly linked to a lack of physical activity. Dogs are meant to be active and many dogs which are pets, build up a lot of excess energy. Keep in mind that dogs were not always limited to being household pets. More time outdoors could mean a healthier life for your dog. The fresh air is also a benefit and breaks up the monotony of being indoors all day long.

Owner Perks

Dogs are not the only ones who benefit from visiting a dog park as owners can also enjoy their share of perks. This is a good place for owners to socialize and meet new people. Other dog owners are there for the same reasons, so that common interest serves as an icebreaker. Speaking with other dog owners is also a great way to gather new tips on how to take care of your dog. Dog parks afford owners the chance to take a break from their everyday routines and do something different. And there is always a feeling of satisfaction that is attained when owners can watch their dogs run freely and enjoy all that t park has to offer.

Dog Park Etiquette

Dog parks have grown to develop their own form of etiquette. These are an unofficial set of guidelines and rules to follow when visiting a dog park. The first rule is to keep a watchful eye on your dog. Some dogs are better on leashes while others behave well enough to be free of a leash. Obedience is also important. If an incident occurs, it is a tremendously helpful to be able to call your dog right to your side. And when meeting someone within a dog park, it is considered proper etiquette to ask the name of the dog prior to asking the name of the owner. It is also recommended to be complimentary of other dogs. Picking up after your dog should be an obvious rule of etiquette and failing to do so will hamper your chances of making any kind of new friends in a dog park.

Dog Park Culture

Dog parks are rapidly becoming more and more popular as it has created a type of sub-culture for dog owners. This is a place where people with a common interest can visit and truly be around like-minded people. Should anything ever happen to your dog, the sympathy you receive from other dog park regulars will be unlike the sympathy any you’ll receive anywhere else. Many dog owners prioritize their pets and dog parks are a haven for those who share that same special connection. Dog parks can also eliminate any demographic differences among owners as they are often judged more on how their dog behaves than anything else. Some dog parks even have Facebook pages where owners can correspond with one another at any time.

Community Benefits

Dog parks instill a sense of community as it is a friendly way for people to interact. In many communities, people are not open to just initiating conversation with a random stranger. However, dog parks provide a unique setting where people are more approachable and quicker to lend out insight or advice. Off-leash violations have also been reduced in communities equipped with dog parks and public complaints have seen a significant decrease. Dog parks have even made the job of animal control professionals much easier. As a result, public parks have become much safer and make for a better overall environment for the entire community.

Watch Your Pet, You’ll Become Richer

If you watch your dog, you’ll have more money. No, you don’t get paid for watching your dog, but you will save on vet bills if you closely observe your dog on a daily basis.

When you go to the vet for any reason, even for annual vaccinations, what your dog does daily matters. When the vet examines your dog as part of a routine exam included with a vaccination, you might be asked questions about your dog. How long has he been limping? When did you first notice this red spot? Has she been shaking her head or tilting it to one side? If the answers to these questions are “I don’t know,” the vet might have to spend more money just to rule out some causes for the problem.

The money you save comes from having answers to questions like these, which will allow the vet to proceed with a better diagnostic plan, saving you money. If you can answer all the questions asked by the vet, you might avoid an expensive x-ray or unnecessary blood tests.

Knowing what has been going on around your house also helps. Was your yard recently sprayed with pesticides? Did someone recently put out rat poison that the dog might have gotten into? Has the diet changed? Did he get in the garbage, and what might have been in there?

When did her appetite start to wane? How long has she been losing weight? Does the vomiting occur right after eating, or much later? Is there blood in the diarrhea? Some of these observations are not always pleasant, but if you have answers to the questions you will save money.

This works for cats, too, and birds and ferrets and fish and any animal you keep (even large animals, but that is another topic). One condition in male cats involves a blockage of their urinary output, causing a backup of urine that becomes toxic. Your observation of when this began is important information for the vet.

Cats like to drink antifreeze because of its sweetness, and this too causes damage to their kidneys that becomes serious in a hurry. A spilled tablespoon on the garage floor might not seem dangerous, but it takes very little to affect a cat. Knowing how long the cat has been sick, when the antifreeze was used, and if the cat had access to the area of the antifreeze usage are all important pieces of information vital to the care of the cat, and which can save you money on treatment.

You love your dog or cat, and many of us treat and love them like children. So, observe them as closely as you do your children. Close observation is even more important for pets because many of us don’t have pet insurance, and the money for their care comes right out of our pockets.

If you want more money in your pocket, watch your pets.

Who Benefits Most From Dog Training

Many dog owners, with or without children, liken their relationships to their pets as children. The same principles in teaching your children good behavior and manners are transferrable to training your dog: consistency, patience, discipline and proper authority, and proper rewards.

Unfortunately, far too many dog owners train their dogs inadequately. In other words, the dog is spoiled. Even though parents know that spoiling a child eventually acts against the best interest of the child, they don’t apply this same philosophy to the training of their dog.

Just as teaching your child to look both ways before crossing the street is in the child’s best interest, training is in the dog’s best interest. Yes, it benefits you as well. Proper potty training prolongs the life of your carpet. Other training prevents shoes from being chewed, houseplants from being eaten, or spares houseguests from being jumped upon, humped, or crotch-sniffed.

The training that might save your dog’s life involves the basic commands of come, sit, stay, heel, or proper use of a negative command not to act on instinct, such as bolting out an open door, running across the street to chase a child on a bicycle or to confront another dog, or fleeing wildly in a thunderstorm.

Every veterinarian has had to pronounce a dog DOA because the dog escaped through an open door in pursuit of freedom, and did not heed any command to stop, stay, or come back and was hit by a car. Most vets have had to perform expensive surgery because the dog was not properly trained to stay out of the garbage or not eat anything it could fit in its mouth. Proper training might have prevented or lessened the seriousness of these situations.

Training has several advantages for the relationship between owner and dog. Dogs are pack animals and need to have an “alpha dog” to follow and obey. That alpha is YOU, if you train properly. If there is no alpha dog, or your dog is the alpha, your relationship will be marked by conflict and strife.

Training fulfills a dog’s need to obey and please. Asserting your authority, and giving the dog someone to obey and please increases the owner-animal bond, making your relationship with your dog stronger and more fulfilling for the both of you.

Whether your dog is like a child to you, or if it is simply fulfilling the role of “man’s best friend” and good pet, you’ll both be happier the better the dog is trained.

Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program

No Good Deed Goes Untaxed

VMLRP. Those letters are hard to remember, but they stand for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. The VMLRP was an act passed by Congress in 2003 intended to assist areas without adequate veterinary care (mostly for food production and public health needs) by providing up to $75,000 in loan repayment for a three-year commitment by a veterinarian to practice in designated areas of veterinarian shortages.

That sounds generous, and a wise use of taxpayer dollars, but this $75,000 commitment covers less than half of the average student loan debt of graduating veterinarians. The main catch for veterinarians is that these shortage areas exist for a reason—the pay is usually woefully low, and sometimes barter and trades are made in lieu of money for services.

Congress, in its benevolence, giveth and taketh. The $75,000 is subject to a 39% tax rate. We will do the math for you; the 39% amounts to $29,250, a significant chunk of the original allowance.

Since 2010, the VMLRP has placed 205 veterinarians in 45 states. We’ll do more math. Because the federal government took its 39% cut, it “saved” $6 million on those 205 veterinarians. But if the allowance were not taxed, 80 more veterinarians would be working in shortage regions. Isn’t that the point of the VMLRP?

Veterinarians protect the public health by monitoring the safety and sanitation of food producing facilities such as meat packing plants, dairies, and poultry production. One breach in this system can cost a lot to diagnose and control. An example is an outbreak of E. coli in the Finley school district in eastern Washington state in 1998, which cost the district $6.1 million to contain.

Now the federal government is mired in the passage of the VMLRPEA, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act, which would do away with the 39% tax. Less than 1 in 11 members of Congress have thus far supported this act, which would accomplish the goal of the original act.

If you are the type, and if you are not, ask your Congressional representative why the VMLRPEA has not been passed. Most probably don’t know what that means. But they should know basic math, which demonstrates the wisdom of investing in the VMLRPEA.

Can Dogs Get The Flu

Dogs get the flu?

Just like me and you, dogs do get the flu. If you don’t want your dog to get the new H3N2 flu, don’t take him where other dogs gather. These places include the vet clinic, doggy day care, kennels, or dog parks. Just as when we get the flu, we can’t avoid some places, such as work and grocery shopping. But we can avoid the health club, and the one place you can avoid taking your dog to avoid the flu is the dog park.

The new strain of flu in dogs, H3N2, is believed to have come to this country from Asia, and it is not a variant of an old strain or a mutation of a flu virus that has been around awhile. This new virus is its own virus. The H3N2 virus has been identified to have sickened over 1,000 dogs in four states in the Midwest.

The new dog flu behaves very much like the flu in humans. It has an incubation period of three days, meaning that your dog may have the virus before showing symptoms of coughing, fever, runny nose, loss of appetite, and general yuckiness. It is like any human flu in two more ways: it might last up to two weeks, and it is rarely lethal. So far, only six dogs of the documented 1,000 infected have died. As with all infections, the deaths often occur in animals who are old, weak, or have compromised immune systems.

Human flu is spread through direct or indirect contact with the virus: handshakes, doorknobs, sneezing in a crowded elevator. Dogs may be more unsanitary than humans, but they don’t engage in much of the behavior that leads to the spread of viruses—except one. When you put dogs together, they don’t know better than to avoid direct nose to nose contact. Dogs “shake hands” by nose to nose contact, and that is where the flu virus is just waiting to make the leap from dog to dog.

The dog park is the most contagious because the dogs are left to run free and do what they love to do. They meet new dogs, “shake hands,” and spread disease. At the vet clinic and kennel, the H3N2 virus may be present, but you can avoid the direct dog-to-dog contact that is most responsible for the spread of disease. This is impossible at the dog park, which is why this is the place to avoid most if you want to prevent your dog from getting the flu.

The new flu virus is not a nationwide epidemic. But dogs travel, and so do viruses. Read up on the progress of the H3N2 virus, or ask your vet about it the next time your dog is in the vet clinic.

Most of all, if you are concerned about the transfer of disease, avoid places such as the dog park where wanton and reckless nose-to-nose contact occurs between curious canines, and malicious viruses.

Veterinary Technicians Working With Service Dogs

A registered veterinary technician (vet tech) has many career options, beginning with which type of practice or facility in which to work.

A vet tech can specialize, too. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA.net), one of the leading national organizations for vet techs, provides a comprehensive overview of the eleven specialist categories approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association, one of which is the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. Though this sounds like it studies the behavior of veterinarians as much as animals, the focus of the Academy is “creating, maintaining, and strengthening the human-animal bond.”

A vet tech who achieves the designation of behavior specialist will be specially trained in animal behavior, problem management, and training. One of the growing fields these knowledge and skills are especially useful for is the training, management and placement of service dogs.

Service dogs are not just the ones you see in the grocery store with a backpack to help the owner carry his dog food home. Service dogs are specially trained for, of course, the blind, but also as mental health service dogs, therapy dogs, emotional support dogs (such as for people with PTSD), seizure response dogs, and service dogs for children with autism.

The training of these dogs can take from six to eighteen months and cost tens of thousands of dollars. There is a large investment in their training and health maintenance.

The websites listed below are excellent sources to learn more about this fascinating use of dogs as participants and assistance in the maintenance of human health.

At the time of this writing, at least one of these organizations was looking for a Director of Programs, with experience as a registered vet tech among the acceptable qualifications.

Working with service dog organizations is just one of the many examples of new career opportunities that the designation of registered vet tech can provide.