Scared Scary Dogs
Do You Speak Dog?
Scared Scary Dogs - How to Help Them and Yourself
All about Heartworm Disease
Do You Speak Dog?
there was a post of a video from a local shelter showing a black Labrador
"smiling" - holding his lips up almost like a snarl as he wagged his
tail, came when called and accepted petting.
He was being passed over for adoption because the "smile"
looked a lot like a snarl. And looking
at only the "smile" one could not tell if he would be friendly or
aggressive. It was the rest of the body
that showed this was a friendly body
language sign from this dog. Confusing -
yes - he likely learned to do this for
attention. This is why it is so
important to become very observant of the whole dog and understand what this
dog is saying. So many people miss these
cues and misinterpret what a dog is trying to say. I will cover some of the main points of
reading your dog's body language, especially to avoid problems.
has it's own body language. Barks,
growls and whines certainly tell us a lot, but the way a dog hold's it
ears, and tail tells us much more than just vocalizing can. One must be
very observant to the whole body
of the dog and what that dog does as it
is showing these behaviors. Many people
focus on just the face or eyes of the dog. This is where they are weak
in learning the dog's language. Observing the whole body and
whole picture is key to communicating well with your dog.
Humans communicate by body
language, but the
concentration of that message is focused on the face. Not so between
dogs. Dogs look at the whole body from the ears to
the tail to read each other's message. They read our body language in
the same way. If your dog was slow to sit on command, just
try standing up straight like you did in training class. Your dog will
likely sit right away. Bending over had them confused - you bend
over when you put my leash on, to scold me, to put my food bowl down.
Your dog is running through this list trying
to figure out what you are trying to
say. When you stand up straight and give
a clear hand signal with a clear one word command then bingo! Your body
language is clear and the dog
follows the command. So pay attention
to the head, ears, body and tail as you read what your dog is saying.
signs of fear and aggression are common amongst dogs but it can be
read depending on the breed, age and size of the dog. This is when
trouble can happen. A shaggy coat, cropped tail and ears or small
body size makes it difficult to read the
signs. Before you can really interpret
body language you have to see the pet's body!!!!
If you have
a shaggy dog - get a close hair cut for the dog no matter the breed. They will not get cold - if you are worried get a doggie
coat. With short hair you can see if the
dog is staring or looking away. You can see if the hair is rising on the back. When they tense up their body you can see it
with shorter hair. For dogs with docked
tails, they have to express with their
ear carriage. If both tail and ears are
docked - good luck. These dogs are
difficult to read but with practice you can see how the rest of their body
looks, the eyes look and other signs. With older pets, it may be difficult to lower
or raise the tail due to arthritis. If
your old dog seems to suddenly burst out with aggression, or hiding - there may
be pain going on.
have learned that showing their fear or distress did not help them out.
By immediately biting, this dog learned that
aggression worked best. If your dog
suddenly snaps or attempts to bite for no apparent reason, get your pet
certified veterinary behaviorist. Often
pain is triggering these dogs but they learned that acting in pain did
them get help. Aggressing removed what
may cause more pain. Few dogs are jerks - just biting for the sake
of biting. It has amazed me how many
dogs became much easier to handle at veterinary exams when we gave pain
relief medication. If you have an explosive dog do not delay
contacting a certified veterinary behaviorist for help.
Not all dogs
"speak" the same body language. Take the time to watch your dog whenever
you are out. When on a
walk, playing with other dogs
and people, or feeding. See how they ask you for pets and how they act
when they are happy. Note how they act when they are first timid
or anxious. Now you can understand what your dog is
thinking. This is the language of your
dog, the most important dialect of dog language for you to learn.
Scared Scary Dogs - How to Help Them and Yourself
Most dog bites, lunging and over barking is due to the dog
being afraid not being dominant. Dogs
tell us early that they are tense or afraid but we miss those signs. Knowing these signs will help you avoid
getting hurt while you can then work out a plan to help your dog be less
Most of us know the signs of fear such as a tucked tail,
ears back against the head or cowering. These are high anxiety or fear.
It is very important to recognize the early, less fearful signs.
Here are some as outlined in Dr. Sophia Yin's hand out
"Body language of Fear in Dogs" www.drsophiayin.com
Licking lips - this happens when there is not any food
nearby. Think of a nervous person with a dry mouth. That is what it looks like.
Panting - moderately fast when it is not hot. Similar to a person breathing shallow rapid
breaths when nervous.
Frowning or "worried" look - the brow is furrowed
and the ears are pointing sideways
Moving slowly - walking slowly - slinking. They are looking out for what may be around.
Acting sleepy or yawning - seems odd but this happens as a
Looking around a lot - hyper vigilant - like a person
walking down a dark alley late at night.
Pacing - following you from room to room constantly - or
won't settle down.
Turing away or moving away from the activity - they want to
get away so they leave
Suddenly won't eat - you have to feel good to eat. A pain or anxiety trigger will drop appetite
So, now that you know the early signs look out for
them. When you see them stop whatever
you are doing and think of what is happening at this moment. Did the grandchild come running in the
room? If so little people, noise, or
running may trigger this dog. Is
thunder rolling in? If so the noise may
be triggering the fear.
Make note of the
events to identify the triggers. Observe
everything - the place, time, people, other animals involved. One change
can be the trigger. Now that you have an idea what sets your dog
off you can begin to help change your pet's mind about it. Rewarding or
good things that gets your pet
calm or happy when the trigger happens is called counter conditioning.
The key to counter conditioning is keeping
your dog in a calm, not fearful state as you offer the rewards.
The basics of counter conditioning:
First find what your dog really loves - a super yummy treat
- a ball - your "happy" voice. What ever gets their tail wagging.
Use this reward at times when your pet is behaving well so they know
when they are good.
Next have your dog around the trigger -
say children - but
far enough away or with a barrier to keep your dog calm, or very low in
agitation. This is where people start
off wrong. They put the dog right in the
scene that is upsetting them and it is overwhelming. So, with the fear
children example - you need a baby gate or dog in crate that helps the
protected from the kids. Then a positive
like a food treat tossed as the kids walk by, run or make noise. As long
as the dog eats the food reward as
the kids are there - now the counter conditioning is working. If the dog
is too nervous, you have to
increase the distance or make the triggers less intense - only hearing
kids. When the dog is relaxed and happy for each step - hearing kids -
seeing kids - then hearing and
seeing kids running all the while taking
treats behind the gate then you can move on to trying the dog in the
a leash on to keep things safe.
Counter conditioning is a step by step process that you want
to do maybe 5-10 minutes max at a time, hopefully daily. It is like breaking an old habit and learning
a new one. It often takes weeks to have
it repeated so often it becomes habit.
This is the second stage where training fails. People find it takes too long, rush the steps
and fail or think the one time the pet did well - all was learned.
There are tools and medications that speed learning by
decreasing fear. These products are good
to use. They are not a failure of your
dog or you if you need them. It is far
better to use a Thunder shirt, or Reconcile medication than to struggle with
fear problems and be stuck with dangerous behaviors. Your dog is not happy or cute growling,
lunging, or barking out of control. It
is best to help them learn to be more calm and social.
All About Heartworm Disease
What is Heartworm Disease? Heartworm Disease is caused by an infection of Heartworms in the heart and lungs. Both dogs and cats can have Heartworms.
How do I know if my pet has Heartworms? We, along with the American Heartworm Society, recommends a heartworm test every year for dogs. We take a small sample of you pet's blood and test it. The test only takes 10 minutes.
How did my pet get Heartworm Disease? Heartworms are spread from one pet to another by mosquitos. A mosquito will bite a pet with heartworms and suck up some of the baby heartworms (microfilaria) along with the pet's blood. The baby heartworms grow a little while they live in the mosquito. The baby heartworms then travel to the mosquito's mouth where they are injected into another pet. The baby heartworms travel around the pet's body until they grow into adults. The adults live in the heart and lungs.
Can my pet be treated? Dogs are given two injections of a medication to kill the heartworms. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for cats at this time.
Can I prevent my pet from getting Heartworms? Yes. Prevention is given monthly year round and can be a liquid applied on the back or a pill your pet eats. Revolution, Heartgard, Trifexis and Interceptor are a few examples of heartworm preventatives. Many of the heartworm preventatives also prevent other intestinal parasites.
Can I get Heartworms? People are rarely affected. People with weak immune systems can have heartworms in their body for a short time. Their immune system will eventually kill the worms.
Want to learn more? Read our article about Heartworms.