Monthly Archives: February 2020

Forget About Stress & Anxiety

POSITIONING THEMSELVES FOR REINFORCEMENT First off, sorry. The title was designed to get your attention. We cannot forget about stress and anxiety but rather than focus on those conditions we assume a dog is experiencing, let’s get down to the business of behavior. It has been important that people have been encouraged to […]

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Forget About Stress & Anxiety

POSITIONING THEMSELVES FOR REINFORCEMENT First off, sorry. The title was designed to get your attention. We cannot forget about stress and anxiety but rather than focus on those conditions we assume a dog is experiencing, let’s get down to the business of behavior. It has been important that people have been encouraged to […]

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Pet FBI: Reuniting Lost Dogs with Their Families

lost dog

Scroll through your local Nextdoor, Craigslist or Facebook site and you’re sure to see far too many notices of lost, found or wandering dogs. Ditto when you walk around your neighborhood, go to your vet’s office or stop by the pet supply store.

While all these notices are good as far as they go, they’re siloed, restricted to their respective venues. Making connections across all these platforms isn’t necessarily easy, or even possible. What’s needed is a nationwide lost-and-found pet database, one that harnesses the power of the internet and the capacity to search and sort that databases provide. Luckily, several have come online over the past few years, including one we find particularly noteworthy.

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Forget About Stress & Anxiety

POSITIONING THEMSELVES FOR REINFORCEMENT First off, sorry. The title was designed to get your attention. We cannot forget about stress and anxiety but rather than focus on those conditions we assume a dog is experiencing, let’s get down to the business of behavior. It has been important that people have been encouraged to […]

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Meet AJ

AJ is one of a kind. If only we could all be as happy as AJ…life would be incredible! There is nothing like a dog to give you the unconditional love that can fill your soul.

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Puppy Doesn’t Want to Walk Outside

What do I do when my puppy won’t walk outside?
Picking up puppy

Dear Bark: Why doesn’t my puppy like walks? About two months ago, I got a puppy. He loves to play inside the house, and to sit in front of our house. However, he doesn’t enjoy going on walks around the neighborhood. I often wind up picking him up and carrying him, but even that freaks him out. He seems more inclined to walk when the rest of the family is around, but not when it’s just the two of us. What can I do to get him going à deux

—Help My Walk-Resistant Puppy!

It’s not at all unusual for puppies to resist going on walks. While most dogs get more enthusiastic about them as they get older, there are 7 things you can do when your puppy doesn’t want to walk to help your puppy get moving.

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Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization (CC&D)

Counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC&D) involves changing your dog’s association with an aversive or arousing stimulus – in this case, another animal – from negative to positive. 

The easiest way to give most dogs a positive association with something is with very high-value, really yummy treats. I like to use chicken – frozen strips (thawed), canned, baked, or boiled, since most dogs love chicken and it’s a nutritious, low-fat food. 

Here’s how you would use the CC&D process to change your dog’s association with an animal he found aversive or arousing. Make sure the other animal is in a cage, crate, or on a leash, so you can control his movement. 

Let’s imagine that we are working with a dog and a cat in a carrier. 

1. Determine the distance at which your leashed dog can be alert and even wary in the presence of the cat but not extremely fearful or aroused. This is called the “threshold distance.” 

2. With you holding your dog’s leash, have a helper present the cat in the carrier at your dog’s threshold distance. The instant your dog sees the cat, start feeding bits of chicken to your dog. Pause, let him look at the cat again, feed him again. Repeat as long as the cat is present.

3. Continue alternating the pausing and feeding bits of chicken to your dog. After several seconds, have your helper remove the cat. As soon as the cat is out of your dog’s view, stop feeding him the treats.

4. Keep repeating steps 1 through 3 until the presentation/appearance of the cat at your dog’s original threshold distance consistently causes your dog to look at you with a happy smile and a “Yay! Where’s my chicken?” expression. This is what we call a conditioned emotional response (CER); your dog’s association with the cat at his original threshold distance (let’s call it “X”) is now positive instead of negative.

5. In the next few steps, you need to increase different aspects of the intensity of the stimulus, making sure to get and/or maintain the desired CER from the dog at decreasing distances. What?! How do you increase the intensity of a cat?

For a dog who is aroused by the sight of a cat, the least intense presentation of a cat is what you’ve been using so far: a single cat in a carrier. To increase how stimulated your dog is by the cat, you might open and close the door of the cat’s carrier, so your dog can see the cat more clearly. You could also bring in another cat in another carrier. If your cat is confident and won’t immediately try to leave the scene, you could let her out of the carrier – or, to take this to a stimulating extreme, have your helper invite the cat to play with a toy. Each of these things will be a more intense stimulus for your dog.

Back at your dog’s original threshold distance, start increasing the intensity of one aspect of the cat’s presentation while you decrease the distance between your dog and cat in small increments. Achieve the desired CER (with a happy “Where’s my chicken?” expression) at each distance, until your dog is calm very near the cat, perhaps even sniffing or targeting (touching with his nose on cue) the cat’s carrier. Then move away from the cat. 

If your dog starts to get overstimulated, fixated on the cat, not taking your treats (or taking them with a “hard” mouth), you are moving too fast. Increase the distance between the cat and the dog, and/or decrease the intensity of the cat (back into the carrier!). 

6. Return to your dog’s original threshold distance and increase the intensity of the cat in some different way, gradually decreasing the distance between your dog and the cat and attaining the desired CER along the way, until your dog is delighted to have the cat in relatively close proximity. A loose cat, a playing cat, a meowing cat, two cats . . . Keep working until your dog maintains his relaxed, happy, “Where’s my chicken?” look throughout each of these cat presentations, even at a close range to the cat. He should now think of the cat as a very good thing – a reliable predictor of very yummy treats.

7. If appropriate, you can gradually work up to actual interaction with the cat or cats at this stage. If not appropriate, don’t! Don’t push your dog “over threshold” – the point at which the cat (or other animal) is too exciting for him and he loses his composure. The rule for effective CC&D is “Go slow – and then slow down!”

The post Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization (CC&D) appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.

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Meet Bear

Bear loves to go on adventure walks, car rides, meet new dogs, spy on the neighbors from the deck in his yard, and eat cheese whiz on his lickety mat.

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Fur-friendly 'wearable for pets' and their humans

Researchers have invented a new health tracking sensor for pets and people that monitors vital signs through fur or clothing.

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Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog

It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy. Consider how you exercise your dog now: perhaps you play tug with your Chihuahua in the living room, jog or play fetch with your active retriever, or ask your senior mixed breed to sit in the kitchen — all of these activities can exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Let’s further explore how you can make the most of your time with your dog while safely and effectively gaining the benefits of exercise.

Here are three secrets to safely and effectively exercising your dog through activities and games that you probably already play.

1. Discuss with your veterinarian

Before beginning any exercise (even training class!), it’s important to get a full health check with your local veterinarian. Let your vet know which activities you are thinking about pursuing, and ask which activities would be most appropriate for your dog’s age, musculoskeletal structure, and preferences. Remember, just like with children, jumping from high places or playing on hard surfaces can be detrimental to joints. Be sure to ask how long the activities should last, how intense they should be, and about any necessary equipment or weather precautions. Just because your dog wants to fetch constantly, doesn’t necessarily mean that this high impact, sustained exercise is healthy. Describe the activity and environment to your vet in detail, and be sure to get clearance before enjoying with your pup.

2. Explore variation

After speaking with your veterinarian about appropriate activities for your dog, plan to vary the types of activities each day. If your veterinarian approved some shorter distance jogs for your pup, perhaps the next day you could spread his food in the backyard as a scavenger hunt. Varying high intensity with low intensity workouts is just as stimulating for your pup, and the variation will keep him engaged. You can also vary exercises within the activity itself. For example, if you frequently throw a ball or disc for your dog until she lies down and pants, consider asking for tricks between different types of throws. By varying distances and body movements you can help your dog regulate her arousal and stay safe.

3. Remember warms up & cool down

Before beginning any activity, it’s important to set up your dog for success. Dogs have the same basic musculoskeletal components as people, and therefore they can sustain similar injuries from rigorous use or clumsy accidents. However, dogs are more athletic compared to humans (even your couch potato probably has a higher VO2max than you!), and they can exert a lot of energy at playtime. It’s important to warm up and cool down your dog’s muscles before use. Consider the type of exercise and what body parts are involved, and plan for a warm up. For example, if you’re about to open the back door for your dog to dash out with his powerful hind legs, take a couple walking laps around the living room first. Ask for a few repetitions of sit and put a treat in front of his nose to lure him in a few circles before opening the door. Much like a short jog, squats, and plyometrics before a sprint, these exercises can help protect your dog’s soft tissue before dashing off. The easiest part is that the same exercises can be performed in reverse for a quick cool down.

Using these three secrets, you can safely and effectively exercise your dog in the same amount of time and help you and your pup enjoy the benefits. Through warms ups/cool downs and varying your dog’s activities you can tire your pup out in no time at all. Talking to your veterinarian about the type, duration, and intensity of activity can also tailor the exercise to your dog and avoid costly injury. 

Many caretakers believe that their dog needs to sprint in order to get tired, when in reality sniffing, training, or a combination can be just as taxing. Check out the table below for more ideas! Challenge yourself this week to change one thing about your dog’s exercise routine, and see if you enjoy a calmer, healthier dog!

 

Activity

Variation

Warm up/cool down

Hide a treat/toy in the house

High/low places, obstacles, multiple rooms

Walk laps, sits, crawls

Sniffy walk

Hide treats, change route

Walk laps, sits

Tug

Side to side, stop/go, 2 tugs

Jog laps, play bow, weight shift

Fetch

Short/long distances, walking breaks, sit/down/spin/beg/back

Jog laps, downs, circles

Jog

Walk/run, canicross, sniff breaks

Sniff, walk laps, sits

 

 

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