Such tools are often sold as harmless devices, and they’re proliferating. Don’t play along.
I’m amazed how many tools you can buy that cause dogs pain and fear. There’s the SimpleLeash, a leash and shock collar combo that automatically shocks your dog every time the leash goes tight — that is, every time she wants to smell something, investigate a new person, or lift a leg on a tree out of leash range. Which is to say, every time she wants to be a dog.
There are now collars that shock your dog when he barks, collars that shock your dog at the press of a button for any reason you like, and mats that shock your dog when they place their paws on them. You can even get a handy-dandy Stay! Mat Wireless Crate, which shocks your dog if he gets up from the mat until he returns to it and lies down. Yeesh! If I am reincarnated as a dog, please don’t let it be to a home where I have to use one of those.
These tools are often sold to well-intentioned pet owners swayed by a variety of euphemisms — a shock is referred to as a “sensation,” a “tickle,” a “tap,” a “stimulation.” They would probably be a pretty hard sell if “shock” were used, or if you were told this tool would hurt your dog. If a dog is “man’s best friend,” we sure have a funny way of showing it.
For some dogs, these tools seem to create few unwanted side effects. Like with people, tolerance for pain varies widely among dogs, and for dogs that have a higher pain tolerance and a strong prey drive, a shock of a few seconds is easily trumped by the joy of chasing a deer — in other words, it’s worth the trouble.
For others, the side effects may be more subtle and only readily apparent to someone well-versed in reading dog body language: a succession of lip licks, yawns, and head turns, which are saying, “Please make it stop.”
Shock collars can create anxiety, stress, fear and unwanted aggression in dogs. They can make a dog skittish, nervous and create an array of new problems.
Pet owners purchase shock tools in desperation, not knowing how to improve their dogs’ quality of life. Some are hoping for a quick fix to long-standing behavior problems. Instead, they end up having to address the original problem and also repair the damage done by inappropriate training tools and techniques. Dog owners, don’t be fooled. There are other training techniques that will be far more effective with far less damaging results on your dogs.
Would you want to walk around with a shock collar on all day not knowing when that moment will come and you’ll be zapped by an electrical jolt!
Nearly 90 percent of dogs communicate silently. Vocalizations and bites represent only 10 percent of their language. So, how do you know what your dog is saying in his silence?
Here are some common signals and their meaning:
Turning the head away: Peaceful intentions. Avoiding possible conflict. Prevents eye contact, which most dogs find threatening.
Lip licking: Peaceful intentions. Calms a social group, eases tension. But it also may precede a bite from a fearful dog.
Yawning: Stress reducer. Commonly observed at the veterinarian’s office or at the groomer.
Tail positions: Up means confidence. Down signals a relaxed or submissive state. Between legs means fear. Wagging with entire body signals joy. Wagging without the body indicates stress, interest or excitement.
Raised hackles: The dog feels threatened or is overstimulated.
Shivering: Fear, tension or overstimulated.
Paw lift: Forward weight distribution signals a friendly state or begging. Rear weight distribution could indicate fear or distrust.
Closed mouth: Precedes bite. Helps gain scent, conveys seriousness.
Open mouth: Relaxed.
Grimace: Tense jaw muscles with mouth pulled back at corners exposing canines or all teeth signals fear, excitement or aggression.
Whale eye (whites of eyes visible, dilated pupils): Conveys fear or aggression.
Presenting stomach: Laying squarely on back with paws over center of chest signals submission or trust. On side, lifting one hind leg indicates fear, apprehension or fearful submission.
Sneeze: During or after enjoyable activity signals happiness.
Bowing: Means the dog is playful.
Breathing: Through stomach signals a relaxed state. Through chest indicates excitment or stress.
Sniffing ground: This is a calming signal that shows peaceful intent, relief of stress or an attempt to gain a scent.
Freezing: Signals the dog is contemplating a fight or flight.
Drooling: During the presence of food means the dog is hungry. During stressful situations signals fear and, for dogs that suffer car-sickness, often precedes vomiting.
Do you ever ask yourself how much water your pet should be drinking a day? Probably not! We generally fill their bowl up in the morning and go about the day. Your pet may not be getting enough hydration, especially if the bowl is empty two hours later, but no ones home the rest of the day! Here’s some factors to think about to make sure your pet is getting properly hydrated and ways to easily achieve it.
The size of your pet is important. A 90 pound dog will need far more water during the day than a 20 pound one. The food your pet is eating will affect the amount of water they need. Is the food wet or dry, what is the sodium content, are some ingredients going to make them more thirsty than others. All good questions to ask yourself!
How about your pets age. Younger dogs and cats need more water than senior dogs. More active breeds will drink more than lap dogs. Climate plays an important role in how much a dog or cat needs hydrating. The temperatures inside your home can also be an important factor. Also, is your cat or dog on medications that make them loose more of their bodies water weight.
It’s so important for your pet to stay hydrated all day long. Like humans, they will easily dehydrate if left without water for too long. Here’s some tips to remember.
If you’re crate training or leave your pet shut off from the rest of the house while at work or out for long periods, make sure to leave them with clean fresh water at all times. Make sure the bowl is large enough to last throughout the day. Or use an automatic water dispensing bowl.
Change the water bowl frequently and clean the bowls out daily. Find out what material the pets bowl is made of to determine how clean it stays. Our pets will stay healthier with clean fresh water in their bowls!
Remember when hiking with your dog to take along enough water for them to drink. A package of ice cubes work great to make sure the water is fresh throughout the day. You can even drop a few in their bowl during the day to keep the water full and clean.
You want to let your dog give you one of it’s slobbery loving kisses but, ohhhh no, it’s the breath of the beast heading towards you instead!
Signs of periodontal gum disease include the yellow and brown buildup of tarter around the gum line, inflammation and bad breath. Your dogs and cats don’t have to be seniors for this to start happening. Infact, it can start as early as 3 years of age.
You’ve tried giving them bones to chew on, breath drops in their water, even tried brushing their teeth with pet toothbrushes! Ya, like your dog likes a big hard plastic toothbrush in it’s mouth! Not my dog. Ugh! Nothing is working, now what?
If your dog doesn’t like plastic pet toothbrushes and if “finger brushes” make them gag, you might have more luck using a simple, thin cotton glove. Place toothpaste on your gloved index finger and gently massage your pet’s teeth and gums. Most dogs find this sensation pleasurable and relaxing.
The glove is analogous to your finger, which your dog presumably trusts, and not hard, inflexible, or rubbery. Wash your hand in the glove and hang the glove to dry for next time. (So simple!)
Eighty percent of humans brush their teeth at least twice a day, but very few pet owners brush their pet’s teeth at all. Yes, guilty as charged! But, with this glove idea, it’s made it easy and a positive experience for both myself and my dog.
Now, I’m working up the courage to try it on my cat! Meowrrrrrrr!!!!
Many pet owners have adopted or rescued their dog and may wonder, how old is this dog, really? Others pet owners may think they know it’s age by applying the old 7 to 1 ratio. For every year of a dogs life add 7 years. Which, by the way, is not exactly accurate either.
Dogs age much more rapidly in the first two years of their lives but then it slows down to a 5 to 1, 6 to 1 or a 7 to 1 ratio, depending on the size of your dog.
Small little Chihuahua’s will be in the 5 to 1 ratio after the first two years while Labs and Chow’s may be a 6 to 1 ratio. If you have a St Bernard lounging around the house, then bump that up to an 8 to 1 ratio. Yes, 8!
So, just how old is your dog? Here’s some other signs that may help you figure it out.
Your dogs teeth will be a good give away for signs of aging. Dogs usually have a set of permanent teeth by their seventh month, so if you’ve come across a dog with clean pearly whites, he is likely a year old or thereabouts. Yellowing on a dog’s back teeth may put the dog between one to three years of age, while tartar build-up at a minimal level could mean you have a dog between 4 and 6. Missing teeth or severe wear usually means the dog is settling into senior aging.
Your dogs muscle tone is another clue. Younger dogs are more likely to have some muscle definition from their higher activity level. Older dogs are usually either a tad bonier or a little fatter from decreased activity.
Does your dog have a shiny coat of fur? A younger dog usually has a soft, fine coat, whereas an older dog tends to have thicker, coarser (and sometimes oilier) fur. A senior dog may display grays or patches of white, particularly around the snout.
Look into your dogs eyes. Bright, clear eyes without tearing or discharge are common in younger dogs. Cloudy or opaque eyes may can mean your dog is starting to age.
One of the best ways to prolong the life and improve the functions of your dog as it ages is to carefully regulate its fuel intake. Older dogs exercise less and thus need fewer calories. No matter what your dogs age, a healthy dog is a happy dog and needs lots of love from it’s owner at any age!