Dogs Playing in Dog Parks

 Dogs Play at the Park

Sarah loves playing tag with her pals. Charlie is happiest playing catch, while lazy old Beau prefers to stand on the sidelines.

This sounds like playground life anywhere, only these are dogs, not children, who romp in their local parks every day, and their numbers are growing from coast to coast. From Portland, Ore., to Portland, Maine, communities are carving out public space for unleashed dogs, and finding them as popular as the sites set aside for soccer and softball.

Dogs left alone all day are desperate for exercise when their owners get home from work. Running with other dogs off leash, wrestling with them and playing tug of war get these couch-potato pooches into shape, developing their muscle tone, agility and stamina. Better yet, after an hour of nonstop exercise, most dogs are too tired to chew the furniture or dig up the garden, so behavior improves as a result.

Canine Play Groups Good for Pets

For solitary city or suburban pets, regular contact with friendly, healthy dogs pays off in several ways. Dogs are pack animals, and they learn from one another. At any dog park, there’s a hierarchy in place, made up of the old-timers and mature dogs and then the newcomers and young dogs. The older dogs teach the younger ones what is appropriate behavior and what’s not. Furthermore, pups who grow up playing with other gentle dogs tend to be well socialized; that is, comfortable around other dogs rather than fearful or aggressive.

But there’s another facet to a canine play group’s appeal, and that’s the human connection. Just like parents meeting over the sandbox, dog people who might otherwise never cross paths swap training tips, share toys and celebrate birthdays – cementing friendships in the process.

For the first few years after moving from New York City to suburban Connecticut, Jane Birnbaum knew no one beyond her immediate neighbors. When she adopted Rags, her cocker spaniel, and took him to doggie play dates at a local field, she discovered a real sense of community. Now, if she goes out of town unexpectedly or works late, her dog field friends help out with Rags. If a personal problem arises, it’s her pals from the dog park who provide support.

“For people who work, a dog play group is particularly important,” says Birnbaum. “Rags looks forward to his evenings at the dog field, but it’s also my time to wind down from the work day. After a while, it becomes more about the people than the dogs.”

Dog Park Etiquette

New to the dog park scene? Here are some guidelines:

 

  • Only friendly, well-trained dogs are welcome at public dog parks. If you can’t control your dog off-leash, exercise him elsewhere.
  • Supervise your dog at all times in case play gets rough. Just like children, dogs sometimes get over-excited and that’s when accidents and injuries occur.
  • Wait until your pup is fully immunized (usually by 4 months) before introducing her to a play group. Until she gets bigger, play dates are best with dogs of a similar size.
  • Take a young or timid dog to a play group when there are just a few easygoing dogs, not when it’s a free for all. Peak hours on weekdays are usually just before and after work: 7-9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.
  • If your dog behaves aggressively or starts a fight, remove him from the park at once.
  • Keep your dog leashed until you are within the park limits. Also check for leash laws within the park; some don’t allow dogs to run free.
  • Spayed and neutered pets are less aggressive than non-neutered dogs. Leave dogs in heat at home.
  • Is water available? If not, BYOB, especially when it’s hot.
  • Pick up after your dog. Many dog parks provide “poop bags.” If yours doesn’t, bring one from home.

 

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

What Is Your Dog Saying? A Key to Canine Body Language

Keys to Understanding Canine Body Language

Every dog, whether Akita, bichon, or beagle, knows the same language. You and your dog probably pick up on each other’s signals without thinking much about it. But if your dog begins to behave differently, if you are getting to know a new dog, or if you encounter a dog you don’t know, it helps to be able to read the universal body language of dogs.

If you and your dog landed in Tokyo or Timbuktu tomorrow and were greeted by a local person and his dog, it would take only a few minutes for the two dogs to understand each other. Hours later, you would still be wondering if you were bowing properly, making acceptable hand gestures, or using the right table manners. The dogs, on the other hand, would know just what to do – the lead dog eats first.

Signals Dogs Use to Communicate

Although a dog can’t speak and has no hands and fingers for gesturing as humans do, you can watch key parts of his body to determine how he’s feeling and reacting to the world around him.

  • Face. Although the dog’s facial muscles are not as refined as a human’s, he can wrinkle or straighten his forehead to show confusion or determination. If your dog wants you to give him further direction, he may raise his eyelids quizzically and tilt his head to one side.
  • Eyes. A dog’s eyes brighten when he looks at a creature he considers friendly and when he wants to play. If he is afraid, his pupils dilate and he shows the whites of his eyes. He averts his eyes to avoid confrontation. But if he is angry or ready to defend himself, his eyes narrow and follow your every move. At this point, it’s particularly important not to look the dog in the eye because he sees that as a challenge to defend his position.
  • Lips, teeth and tongue. A relaxed dog in normal posture may let his tongue loll out of his mouth. If he wants something from you, if he is happy or wants to play, he may pull his lips back in what appears to be a smile and show his teeth, an expression, by the way, dogs show only to humans and not to other dogs. But beware the dog that bares his clenched teeth and wrinkles his nose. He is ready to attack.
  • Ears. The dog’s sense of hearing is much more acute than ours and even dogs with floppy ears have the ability to move and turn them to follow sounds. If a dog’s ears are raised, he is relaxed, listening, or showing acceptance. If they are back, he may be signaling submission and deference or may be frankly fearful.
  • Tail. A dog wags his tail when he is happy or wants to play. It is really an energy indicator. When he is submissive, he tucks it between his legs. A taut tail, held down rigidly behind him, may show that he is prepared to spring since he uses his tail for balance when jumping.
  • Voice. Dogs are vocal animals. They yip, bark, whimper, howl, and growl. The pitch or volume of their sounds can increase with their level of emotion. A bark may be playful or aggressive. Unlike body signals, dog noises can mean different things from different dogs.

Dog Posture Speaks Volumes – What Your Dog is Saying

When two dogs meet, as long as their human companions aren’t tugging tight on their leashes, they carry out a series of actions that looks like a choreographed dance. With their bodies tense and tails taut, they circle and sniff each other, silently gathering and exchanging information, ready to defend themselves at any moment if necessary. They hold their ears back and the hair on their back may stand on end. They often avoid direct eye contact at first, sizing each other up to determine if the stranger is strong or weak, male or female, hostile or non-hostile. One dog may place his head on the nape of the other’s neck or nip at his nose. It seems they are getting ready to fight and then, one lies down. Soon, they may separate and urinate. At this point they have agreed on which dog is dominant.

Dogs learn body language from their mothers during the first 8 weeks of their lives and they test out this form of communication with their littermates. If a dog misses out on such training, he will have trouble communicating with other dogs throughout life.

  • Normal posture. The dog appears alert with head held high. His tail moves freely. His jaw is relaxed.
  • Invitation to play. The dog happily signals his desire to play by wagging his tail and dipping down into a “play bow.” His front legs are in a crouch and his backbone swoops up, leaving his rear haunches high. His head is held up expectantly to capture your attention. He may raise a front leg or lean to one side with his head.
  • Submission. The dog crouches down further and still appears relaxed. He may lift a front foot as in a play invitation, but his ears are back and his tail is down. He may yawn, scratch, or sneeze, which is meant to calm him and the dogs or people confronting him.
  • Fearful aggression. A dog who is afraid tenses his body and holds his tail rigid, though it may be wagging. His rear legs are ready to run or spring. He bares his teeth, draws back his ears and the hair on his back stands on end. He growls or snarls constantly to warn off the subject of his fear.
  • Dominance aggression. Teeth bared, this dog stares you down and advances confidently with his tail wagging slowly and his ears in the forward (alert) position.
  • Total submission. The dog drops his tail and curls it between his legs. He drops his head to avoid eye contact. He rolls over on his side and bares his belly, with one hind leg raised and urinates. If he isn’t afraid, he’ll tilt his head up a bit and raise his ears to show trust.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Retractable Dog Leashes: Are They Dangerous?


 

Once you have bought the items that’ll make your furry new family member feel welcome in your home—like beds, treats, and toys—it’s time to make decisions about practical things—like which leash you will use for walking with your canine companion.

There are the traditional leather or nylon leashes, which come in enough colors and lengths to suit any pet owner’s style, and there are retractable leashes, which also come in a host of different styles to suit individual preferences. The main goal, however, should be to choose the safest leash for your dog.

While it can be said that there are pet owners who are happy with their retractable leashes, before you make that final decision, consider the pros and cons of these devices.

The Pros of Retractable Leashes

Some dog owners prefer using a retractable leash over a standard leash when walking their pup. For Josh Manheimer, a direct mail copywriter for J.C. Manheimer & Company in Vermont, using a retractable with his 2-year-old basset hound Stella makes sense so she can still explore all the smells she wants.

“The benefits of extending leads are clearly that dogs can have more interesting walks and poorly trained dogs can still be prevented from running off and into danger,” says Dr. Roger Mugford, animal psychologist and CEO and founder of the Company of Animals.

There are benefits for both the dog and the human walking them, says Phil Blizzard, CEO and founder of ThunderWorks, which makes a retractable ThunderLeash. In addition to exercise, Blizzard says a retractable leash allows the human to keep a steady pace while the dog can freely sniff things that interest them.

The Cons of Retractable Leashes

The main drawbacks of retractable leashes revolve around training and safety.

Blizzard realizes that retractable leashes can be a safety concern. To help this, the ThunderLeash comes with a booklet to help dog owners use it more safely. The ThunderLeash can also be arranged to be a “no-pull” leash, wrapping around the dog’s torso to discourage pulling, says Blizzard.

“You need to be paying attention if you have the retractable on the open setting where it can go to the full length,” he says. “If you’re in the city you need to make sure you’re keeping your dog on the sidewalk, out of danger, and not running up to somebody. It’s not a good multi-tasking device as they’re currently designed.”

Manheimer says he hasn’t had any issues while walking Stella, but he’s still cautious. “My biggest concern is if Stella absentmindedly wanders after an attractive scent, or worse, lunges for a squirrel.” Cars are another issue, he says. “Neither of us is aware of the stealthy Prius in electric-mode.”

Safety Factors to Consider with Retractable Leashes

Not all pets, or pet owners, are good candidates for retractable leashes. Veterinarians say they see a lot of injuries related to retractable leashes.

“The most common are neck injuries, since a pet might start to run before the owner can lock the leash,” says Dr. Duffy Jones, DVM, of Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Georgia. “Many times the dogs have a full head of steam before the owner locks the leash, so it creates a good deal of force on their collar when the leash finally locks.” Reports of lacerated tracheas (windpipes) and spinal injuries are relatively common.

Other injuries include dog fight injuries due to a dog being too far away for the owner to bring it back quickly enough, and although Jones says never treated a dog that’s been hit by car due to a retractable leash, he says it’s easy to see how such things can happen.

“A few years ago I was driving home in my neighborhood after dark and I saw a man walking on one side of the street,” he says. “As I got closer, I realized his dog was on the other side of the street with a retractable leash.  Luckily, I was able to stop to allow him to retract the leash and get his dog back on the same side of the road as himself.”

And it’s not only pets that can be injured by a retractable leash, humans can be injured by getting wrapped up in a long leash and falling, Jones says.

Mugford says that some of the safety issues with retractable leashes come because people don’t know how to use them properly.

“Too often, people don’t get the hang of thumb controls, and they panic and lose control of the dog,” he says. “Owners reach forward to grab the line of the extending lead with their free hand and can then sustain nasty rope burns.” In one case that received attention a few years back, a woman had her index finger cut off by a retractable dog leash.

It’s clear that leash manufacturers understand that retractable leashes come with safety concerns.

Mugford’s company makes the HALTI Walking retractable lead, which he says alleviates the rope burn problem with soft tape. The company also takes safety into consideration with reflective thread in the leash and an ergonomic handle.

Another retractable leash manufacturer, flexi, offers written directions and a video on their website so owners will better understand how to use retractable leashes. The directions cover possible safety issues like falls, face injuries, and finger amputations, and tells people how to avoid these dangers.

How Retractable Leashes Affect Training

Even if you’re committed to using a retractable leash while walking, you may want to reconsider it if you’re looking to train your dog, trainers say.

“As a trainer, one of the biggest things I see people coming in for is loose-leash walking,” says Merritt Milam, founder and head trainer at Wags ‘n Whiskers in Alabama. “It’s what everyone’s worried about, but a retractable leash literally teaches a dog to pull.”

If you want to train your dog for loose-leash walking but have been using a retractable leash with your dog, Milam says it’s harder to reverse the behavior. It’s also difficult to train other behaviors while using a retractable leash because the dog is so far away.

“If they’re four to six feet away, they’re still in your vicinity and you can talk to them and give them cues as you need to,” she says. “[Retractable leashes] might not teach them to ignore, but it gives them the opportunity to ignore as much as they want.”

Instead of retractable leashes, Milam recommends a four-to-six foot flat leash. “Just a regular leash that’s not going to let them drag their owner 15 feet, that’s my favorite.”

She uses longer leashes for training sometimes, such as a 20-foot leash, but notes that she can make them shorter if necessary and isn’t relying on a button to do so, like on a retractable leash.

Even dogs who are used to walking with a retractable leash can learn loose-leash walking, Milam says. “It just takes more time and patience.”

Overall, there are clearly concerns about retractable leashes when it comes to both training and safety. If you have specific questions, talk to your veterinarian or trainer to see which option will work best for your dog.

 

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

The Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs

 How to Do the Heimlich on Your Dog

How to Do the Heimlich on Your Dog

Before administering any first aid, make absolutely certain your pet is actually choking. Many people confuse difficulty breathing with choking. If you witness your pet ingesting an item and then immediately begin pawing at the face, the throat, acting frantic, trying to cough and having difficulty breathing, only then should the Heimlich maneuver be considered. If your pet is not really choking, the Heimlich can cause serious injury.

What Happens If a Dog is Choking?

After determining that your pet is choking, remove any item that may be constricting the neck. Examine inside the mouth and remove any foreign object you see. Do not blindly place your hand down your pet’s throat and pull any object you feel. Dogs have small bones that support the base of their tongues. Owners probing the throat for a foreign object have mistaken these for chicken bones. Do not attempt to remove an object unless you can see and identify it.

If your pet is small and you cannot easily remove the object, lift and suspend him with the head pointed down. For larger animals, lift the rear legs so the head is tilted down. This can help dislodge an item stuck in the throat.

Another method is to administer a sharp blow with the palm of your hand between the shoulder blades. This can sometimes dislodge an object. If this does not work, a modified Heimlich maneuver can be attempted.

  • Grasp the animal around the waist so that the rear is nearest to you, similar to a bear hug.
  • Place a fist just behind the ribs.
  • Compress the abdomen several times (usually 3-5 times) with quick pushes.
  • Check the mouth to see if the foreign object has been removed.
  • This maneuver can be repeated one to two times but if not successful on the first attempt, make arrangements to immediately take your pet to the nearest veterinary hospital.

    Even if you are successful in removing a foreign object, veterinary examination is recommended. Internal injury could have occurred that you may not realize.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Canine CPR, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

 How to Do Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on Dogs

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for Dogs

As much as we try to protect our dogs, accidents do happen. So, it is important to be as prepared as reasonably possible. One way to be prepared is to know how to give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

CPR is an emergency technique used to help someone whose heart and/or breathing has stopped. Although somewhat modified, the same techniques used for people – rescue breathing and chest compressions – can be used to help treat an animal in distress.

The first lesson to know about CPR is that it doesn’t restart a stopped heart. The purpose of CPR, in both humans and animals, is to keep them alive until the heart begins beating on its own or a cardiac defibrillator can be used. In people, about 15 percent of those getting CPR actually survive. In animals, CPR is frequently unsuccessful, even if performed by a trained veterinarian. Even so, attempting CPR will give your pet a fighting chance.

The ABCs of CPR for Dogs

In both humans and dogs, you must follow the ABCs: airway, breathing and circulation, in that order. If you suspect your pet is in distress, immediately look at his posture. Note the presence of blood, vomit or feces; his breathing pattern and other bodily sounds; and any materials, such as possible poisons, around him.

It is vital to know for sure that your pet isn’t breathing or doesn’t have a pulse before beginning CPR; it is dangerous to apply CPR to an animal (or a person, for that matter) if he is breathing normally and has a pulse.

Look for the chest rising and falling or place a mirror in front of his nose and watch for condensation. When checking for a pulse, remember that animals do not have a distinct carotid (neck) pulse. To determine if the heart is still beating, place your hand on the left side of the chest.

How to Do Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on Dogs

Click on the video below to see the demonstration on how to perform CPR on your dog.

Airway

If your dog has stopped breathing, check to see if the throat and mouth are clear of foreign objects. Be careful about placing your fingers inside the mouth. An unresponsive dog may bite on instinct. If the airway is blocked, do the following:

  • Lay your pet down on his side.

  • Gently tilt the head slightly back to extend the neck and head, but be very careful: Do not overextend the neck in cases of neck trauma.

  • Pull the tongue out of your pet’s mouth.

  • Carefully use your fingers to sweep for any foreign material or vomit from the mouth. Unlike CPR for humans, you can reach into the airway to remove foreign objects.

  • If necessary, perform the Heimlich maneuver.

Breathing

If your dog is breathing, allow him to assume the position most comfortable for him. If he isn’t breathing, make sure the airway is open, and begin rescue breathing. Again, remember that even an unresponsive dog may bite on instinct.

  • Make sure the neck is straight without overextending.
  • For medium to large dogs, you will be performing mouth-to-nose breathing. Close the mouth and lips by placing your hand around the lips and holding the muzzle closed.
  • Place your mouth over the dog’s nose. For dogs under 30 pounds, cover the mouth and lips with your mouth. Your mouth will form a seal.
  • Exhale forcefully. Give four or five breaths quickly.
  • Check to see if breathing has resumed normally. If breathing hasn’t begun or is shallow, begin rescue breathing again.
  • For dogs over 30 pounds, give 20 breaths per minute.
  • For dogs less than 30 pounds, give 20 to 30 breathes per minute.Now check for a heartbeat. If no heartbeat is detected, begin cardiac compressions with rescue breathing.

Circulation

For most dogs, chest compressions are best done with the animal lying on his side on a hard surface. For barrel-chested dogs such as bulldogs and pugs, CPR is best done with the animal on his back.

Make sure your dog is on a hard surface. The sidewalk or ground should work. If the animal is on a soft area, chest compressions will not be as effective.

For small dogs (less than 30 pounds)

  • Place your palm or fingertips over the ribs at the point where the raised elbow meets the chest.
  • Kneel down next to the dog with the chest near you.
  • Compress the chest about 1 inch at a rate of twice per second. (Small animals have higher heart rates than people so compressions need to be more rapid.)
  • Begin 5 compressions for each breath. After 1 minute, stop and check for a heartbeat. Continue if the beat has not resumed.For dogs 30 to 100 pounds
  • Kneel down next to the animal with the back near you.
  • Extend your elbows and cup your hands on top of each other.
  • Place your cupped hands over the ribs at the point where the raised elbow meets the chest.
  • Compress the chest 2 to 3 inches at a rate of 1.5 to 2 times per second.
  • Begin 5 compressions for each breath. Check for a heartbeat after 1 minute and continue if none is detected.For dogs over 100 pounds
  • Perform CPR as you would for large pets.
  • Compress the chest about once per second.
  • Apply 10 compressions for each breath. Check for a heartbeat after 1 minute and continue if none is detected.Perform CPR until you have reached a veterinary hospital. After 20 minutes, however, the chances of reviving a dogl are extremely unlikely.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

How to Approach an Injured Dog Safely

How to Safely Approach an Injured Dog

If you encounter a dog in need or injured in some way, your first reaction may be to run to help. That’s a common reaction – most people don’t want to see an animal in pain. But without taking the proper precautions, you could get injured. And being injured along with the animal won’t help the situation.

It is important to remember that even the sweetest dog may bite if she is frightened or in pain. Here are some guidelines for approaching an injured pet.

Assess the Situation – Approaching the Injured Dog

Use common sense: Remember that your safety comes first.

  • If the dog is in the middle of the road, watch for traffic before going to assist.
  • If there is a house fire, do not enter the house until the fire department has eliminated the danger – very likely firefighters will rescue the dog.
  • If your dog has fallen, make sure no more items are ready to fall on you.
  • If your dog is covered in a toxic substance, do not touch the animal unless you are wearing protective gloves or can cover him with plastic (or some other protective material).
  • If your dog is covered in blood, do not touch the animal without protective gloves. Even though there are few diseases you can get from animal blood, there is no guarantee that human blood is not mixed in from someone else. That person’s blood may have spilled onto the animal, and with the threat of HIV, hepatitis or other illnesses, exposure to any blood is not recommended.

Determine If the Injured Dog is Aggressive

If the animal shows signs of fear or aggression, muzzling him is essential before helping. As you approach the animal, pay attention to his body language and any sounds he is making. Use a soft, gentle, calming voice. Avoid direct eye contact with an injured pet since some will perceive this as a confrontation or threat. A wagging tail is irrelevant. Some dogs with wag their tails throughout an attack.

Here are some body language signals to look out for:

  • Growling
  • Snarling with teeth exposed
  • Hair along back standing on end
  • Ears straight back and flat against head
  • Tail tucked between legs
  • Lunging toward you with snapping jaws
  • Intense staring
  • Submissive behavior such as lying on ground with belly exposed (these dogs can quickly become fear-biters)Remember, keeping yourself safe and uninjured is just as important as helping the injured animal. You cannot be much help if you also need medical assistance.If the animal you are trying to help is aggressive and there is a risk that you may get injured, do not try to administer treatment. Call a local animal shelter, humane society, veterinary clinic, animal control officer or police department.Try to stay nearby to watch where the animal goes and to assist when help arrives. If necessary, direct traffic away from the injured animal until further help arrives.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

First Aid for Dogs

 First Aid for Fido: How to Be Prepared for Any Dog-Related Emergency

Don’t panic, protect yourself from injury, and prepare in advance — those are three keys to managing any emergency with your dog.
When faced with an injured or severely ill dog, it is important that you spend a moment assessing the situation. Determine if the dog needs to be moved immediately. Decide if there is a danger of further injury to the dog or to first aid givers. For example, great care must be used before assisting a dog injured on a busy roadway. It may be safest to call for help so that traffic can be diverted before anyone provides first aid.
You must also ensure that you won’t be injured yourself — either by the surroundings or by the injured animal.
Prepare in advance by knowing the location and numbers of emergency animal care facilities.
Here are some more tips that will ensure you’re prepared for any dog-related emergency.
Approaching an Injured Dog
If you encounter a dog who is in need or injured in some way, your first reaction may be to run to help. That’s a common reaction — most people don’t want to see an animal in pain. But, it’s important to remember that even the sweetest dog may bite if he is frightened or in pain. If the animal shows signs of fear or aggression, muzzling him is essential before helping.
As you approach the animal, pay attention to his body language and any sounds he is making. Use a soft, gentle, calming voice. Avoid direct eye contact with an injured dog since some will perceive this as a confrontation or threat. A wagging tail is irrelevant. Some dogs will wag their tail throughout an attack.
If the dog you are trying to help is aggressive and there is a risk that you may get injured, do not try to administer treatment. Call a local animal shelter, humane society, veterinary clinic, animal control officer, or police department. Try to stay nearby to watch where the animal goes and to assist when help arrives. If necessary, direct traffic away from the injured animal until further help arrives.
Always use common sense, and remember that your safety comes first. If the dog is covered in a toxic substance, do not touch him unless you are wearing protective gloves or can cover him with plastic (or some other protective material). Likewise, if he is covered in blood, do not touch him without protective gloves. Even though there are few diseases you can get from animal blood, there is no guarantee that human blood is not mixed in from someone else. That person’s blood may have spilled onto the animal, and with the threat of HIV, hepatitis, or other illnesses, exposure to any blood is not recommended.

Administering CPR

CPR is an emergency technique used to help someone whose heart and/or breathing has stopped. Although somewhat modified, the same techniques used for people — rescue breathing and chest compressions — can be used to help treat an animal in distress.

The first thing to know about CPR is that it doesn’t restart a stopped heart. The purpose of CPR, in both humans and animals, is to keep them alive until the heart begins beating on its own or a cardiac defibrillator can be used. In people, about 15 percent of those getting CPR actually survive. In animals, CPR is frequently unsuccessful, even if performed by a trained veterinarian. Even so, attempting CPR will give your pet a fighting chance.

In both humans and dogs, you must follow the ABCs: airway, breathing, and circulation, in that order. If you suspect your pet is in distress, immediately look at his posture. Note the presence of blood, vomit, or feces; his breathing pattern and other bodily sounds; and any materials, such as possible poisons, around him.

It is vital to know for sure that your pet isn’t breathing or doesn’t have a pulse before beginning CPR; it is dangerous to apply CPR to an animal (or a person, for that matter) if he is breathing normally and has a pulse.

Look for the chest rising and falling or place a mirror in front of his nose and watch for condensation. When checking for a pulse, remember that animals do not have a distinct carotid (neck) pulse. To determine if the heart is still beating, place your hand on the left side of the chest.

This video will show you how to perform CPR on your dog.

Performing the Heimlich Maneuver

Before administering any first aid, make absolutely certain your pet is actually choking. Many people confuse difficulty breathing with choking. If you witness your pet ingesting an item and then immediately begin pawinging at the face or the throat, acting frantic, trying to cough and having difficulty breathing, only then should the Heimlich maneuver be considered. If your pet is not really choking, the Heimlich can cause serious injury.

After determining that your pet is choking, remove any item that may be constricting the neck. Examine inside the mouth and remove any foreign object you see. Do not blindly place your hand down your pet’s throat and pull any object you feel. Dogs have small bones that support the base of their tongues. Owners probing the throat for a foreign object have mistaken these for chicken bones. Do not attempt to remove an object unless you can see and identify it.

If your pet is small and you cannot easily remove the object, lift and suspend him with the head pointed down. For larger animals, lift the rear legs so the head is tilted down. This can help dislodge an item stuck in the throat.

Another method is to administer a sharp blow with the palm of your hand between the shoulder blades. This can sometimes dislodge an object. If this does not work, a modified Heimlich maneuver can be attempted.

This video will show you how to perfom the Heimlich Manuver on your dog.

Applying Bandages
If you and your dog are far from help (perhaps camping or hiking), and your dog hurts himself, you need to know how to stabilize him until you can reach a veterinarian. Therefore, learning how to properly apply bandages is vital.
Head Bandages. The most common reason a head wrap is applied is to stop bleeding from the ears. Use long strips of gauze or torn sections of sheet, and wrap them completely around the head, pinning the ears to the side of the head. Be very careful not to wrap too tightly, and do not cover the animal’s eyes with the head bandage. Once the bandage is in place, apply tape to the front edges of the bandage, and make sure that the hair is included in the tape. Test the tightness of the bandage, and frequently check for facial swelling or difficulty breathing.
Leg Bandages. Leg bandages are typically applied to help temporarily stabilize a fracture or to help reduce bleeding from a wound. Begin by wrapping several layers of cotton (roll cotton) around the leg. If the bandage is being used to stabilize a fracture, the joint above and below the fracture must be included in the bandage. After several layers of cotton have been applied, place several layers of stretch gauze over the roll cotton. This should be snug and compress the cotton. Be careful not to make the bandage so tight that circulation is disrupted. Finish the bandage by applying an elastic bandage such as VetRap®, Ace® bandage, or adhesive tape.
Splints. Splints are used to add extra support to fractures of the bones below the elbow. Be very careful if you apply a splint to the rear leg. Due to the natural position of the rear legs, bandaging these bones in a straight alignment can be detrimental. Splints are best used only on the front legs. First, follow the instructions for leg bandages. After the cotton and stretch gauze have been applied, place a flat stick or straight piece of metal on either side of the leg and tape in place. Cover the bandage and splint with elastic bandage such as VetRap® or Ace® bandage, and secure the top of the bandage to the animal by applying one layer of sticky tape.
Bandages and splints do not help fractures of the humerus (upper arm bone) or femur (thigh bone). They can even cause more damage. If you suspect that your pet has a fractured upper thigh bone or upper arm bone, do not use a bandage or splint. Try to keep your dog as quiet and confined as possible and contact your veterinarian.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Dog Behavior Problems

Guide to Dog Behavior Problems

In the beginning, before the days of behavioral psychology, man intuitively knew that rewarding dog’s desired behavior and punishing unwanted behavior would eventually encourage dog to conform more closely to his wishes and expectations. And so, training was created. Learning about canine training and behavior can help you understand what underlies your dog’s behavioral problems and will help you acquire the patience and know-how necessary to work with him.

Common Dog Behavior Problems

Even after formal obedience training and as recipients of oodles of love, some dogs develop disagreeable habits or unwanted behaviors. Learn about the potential problems that may occur, how to curtail these behaviors, and re-train your pet. With proper know-how, your dog can become a loving, obedient, and enjoyable member of the family.

Inappropriate Elimination. About 20 percent of all behavior problems in dogs fall into the category of “inappropriate elimination.” This term refers to the unseemly practice of dogs either urinating, defecating, or both on the floor or furniture inside the owner’s house.

Urine Marking. If urine marking by leg lifting in males or squatting in females, if conducted exclusively outside, it is not usually a problem for the dog owner and is certainly not one for the dog. The real problem arises when urine marking occurs within the home. As natural as leg lifting and other forms of urine marking may be, it’s still not acceptable to have such signaling directed toward your sofa or best wingback armchair.

Submissive Urination. In order to display deference to a more dominant individual, a submissive dog uses deferent gestures, such as averting her eyes, rolling on her back, or urinating. These signals demonstrate that the dog recognizes another individual’s dominance. But when submissive urination is expressed in front of a homeowner, or visitor to the home, it often has an aggravating, not appeasing, effect. Although a frustrating and embarrassing problem, submissive urination is one that is easily corrected.

Digging. Some dogs just love to get down and dirty by digging and digging. Meanwhile their masters can do nothing but watch as the yard starts to resemble a minefield. What you should do about digging depends on why your dog is scooping up soil by the pawfull in the first place.

Chewing. Whether the culprit is a young puppy exploring her new environment, an energetic juvenile displacing pent up energies, or an adult dog acting out distress caused by thunderstorm phobia or separation anxiety, a canine with a penchant for chewing can transform your valuable piano to splinters in a matter of hours.

Separation Anxiety. Most dogs adapt well to the typical daily separation from their owners. Unfortunately, problems can arise when an overly dependent dog develops an abnormally strong attachment to her owners. Separation anxiety may be manifested as destruction of the owner’s property and/or other behaviors that may be dangerous for the dog and annoying for people sharing the dog’s environment.

General Fear. It’s heartbreaking to see an anxious dog respond to everyday events by trembling, cowering, balking on his leash – or even biting. If your dog seems generally uneasy or is frightened by specific places or events, you’ll be happy to hear that he can learn to be more confident.

Fear of People. Although it is possible for a fearful dog to be frightened of his owners, this is rarely the case. Fearfulness is usually expressed toward strangers, toward unfamiliar people outside the family circle who are not frequent visitors to the household.

Fear of Other Dogs. Some dogs are aggressive toward other dogs through fear or anxiety. In the wild, this behavior is adaptive and protects the dog from harm; however, fear can also be maladaptive when the response is out of proportion to the real threat. Fears can reach such proportions that they impair a dog’s ability to function acceptably in society. Typically, dogs that are fear-aggressive toward other dogs have been improperly socialized as pups.

Aggression. Aggression in dogs may be defined as warning, threatening, or harmful behavior directed (usually) toward another living thing. Aggressive behaviors include snarling, growling, snapping, nipping, biting, and lunging. Treating aggressive behavior may involve a combination of behavior modification techniques, drug therapy, surgery, avoidance, and management. Each case is unique, and the success of treatment varies depending on the diagnosis, and an owner’s capability, motivation, and schedule.

Nipping and Biting. When puppies are playing with you or being petted, they sometimes begin to bite or “mouth” peoples’ hands or arms. This is not aggressive behavior, per se, but is a step on the road. However, it is easier to “nip” the problem in the bud by training youngsters what is and is not acceptable behavior. I.e. teach “bite inhibition.” And even if the behavior has been permitted to flourish, there are still corrective steps you can take.

Predatory Aggression. All dogs have some level of prey drive (the motivation to chase, catch and kill small furry or feathered creatures) because hunting and killing was a way of life for their ancestors and the means for their survival. Predatory aggression by dogs does not reflect a psychological problem and neither is the perpetrator vicious, malicious, or vindictive. Owners should supervise their dogs and use a leash when they take their dog out in public. They should also make sure that their yard is fenced.

Territorial Aggression Toward People. Typically, territorial aggression is expressed toward another member of the same species. But territorial aggression can also be directed toward human beings. This is probably because dogs regard us as fellow pack members, as well as friends and providers. The territory generally includes the house, yard, and the owner’s car or truck.

Territorial Aggression Toward Dogs. When dogs exhibit excessive territorial behavior toward dogs on their home turf, but do not respond aggressively to unfamiliar dogs on neutral territory, territorial aggression is the likely diagnosis. There are two different motivations for territorial behavior: dominance or fear/anxiety.

Dominance Aggression. Dogs fight for a number of different reasons, but quests for dominance often underlie much of the sparring. Aggressive incidents may be isolated to one or two specific situations, such as competition over specific resources or space-guarding issues.

Excesssive Barking. The first step in quieting your pooch is to understand why he’s raising such a ruckus in the first place. Dogs, after all, bark for all kinds of reasons. They bark when they’re anxious or when they’re lonely. They bark to draw attention to themselves – or to warn someone encroaching on the property. Sometimes, dogs seem to bark because it feels good.

Running Away. For dogs, roaming is a natural behavior that involves scouting, hunting, exploration, and discovery. But when the neighborhood is concrete or tarmac and is seething with automobiles and trucks, this can be a problem. Free ranging dogs get into a lot of trouble in our society and a good number of them wind up in the pound. For this reason, a wandering dog is not a happy dog – not in the long run anyway.

Begging Occasional begging for food isn’t the biggest behavior problem owners encounter with their dogs. However, some dogs won’t leave their owners alone at mealtimes and are constantly nudging for a piece of the action to the point of ruining the meal.

Jumping on the Furniture. Jumping on furniture is one of those behavior problems that bother some owners, but not others. One person may enjoy having his small dog resting on the furniture and may even encourage it. However, owners of seborrheic [oily skinned] or dirt-impregnated dogs may prefer that their dogs stay on the floor.

Jumping on People. What can be done to plant those four feet firmly on the ground? The human reaction to jumping should be no reaction. When good behavior is consistently rewarded, and jumping is always ignored, dogs quickly learn that keeping four feet on the ground is a preferable posture. When a dog jumps on you should remain utterly silent, avert your gaze, and adopt an indifferent posture. Unless you like being jumped on, that is.

Eating Feces. Whether by nature, nurture, or a combination of these factors, eating feces (coprophagy) often rears its ugly head as a persistent and irritating habit that long-suffering owners are forced to endure. In the majority of cases, coprophagy can be successfully treated in-home by means of a combination of managemental changes and environmental measures.

Once you understand what is behind the behavior and realize what is needed to correct the problem, you are well on your way to correcting the problem and having a well-behaved dog.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Do Dogs Feel Emotions? Can Dogs Sense Emotions?

Can Dogs Sense Emotions in Humans?

All dog owners like to think that their pet can sense their mood and emotions. Although researchers now accept that dogs, and other non-human animals, can experience primary emotions such as anxiety, fear, and anger, they still do not accept that “animals” have a sense of self and are capable of sophisticated secondary emotions. Instead, the scientists believe that non-human animals are incapable of understanding the feelings of others around them. Without a sense of self, they say, secondary emotions, like jealousy (he’s enjoying that … but I would enjoy more) or empathy (what a terrible situation that person/other dog is in) are impossible.

This is a complicated argument, and we don’t have to review the details here, but suffice to say, not everyone agrees with the scientists. As sympathetic as I am to the difficulties of scientifically proving animal self-awareness and secondary emotions, I prefer to give animals the benefit of the doubt. I assume that higher animals, like dogs, are sensitive creatures with feelings and emotions that can and do project beyond the blatantly obvious.

Examples of Dogs Sensing our Emotions

  • Almost every dog owner has found out that when they are really sad, their dog acts differently toward them. A dog may approach its disturbed owner with a concerned look and, quite out of character, hunker down next to them as if to provide some emotional support. It is as if they are saying, I know there’s something wrong, I don’t know what it is but I’m here for you, anyway. Are there other explanations? Of course, there are, but none make as much sense. You could argue that the dog observes your posture and appearance as submissive and, almost reflexively, approaches to investigate or respond to the new situation. Perhaps, seeing you in a submissive posture, the dog feels it has to grovel to remain below you in rank. Yeah, right.
  • Fear-aggressive dogs are more often aggressive to people who fear them. They garner from a person’s demeanor that the person is uncomfortable around them and capitalize on their perceived weakness. Perhaps it is because the person has a pained expression; perhaps it is because the person is a little tenuous; or perhaps the dog reads fear in the person’s eyes. Whatever is the mechanism, under-confident dogs “know” when a person is afraid of them and will move forward on them, perhaps to attack.
  • Top trainer William (Bill) Campbell is famous for his “jolly routine” approach to treating fear in dogs. Most people think that this involves being jolly with your dog, but actually that’s not the case. The real “jolly routine” implies that all the people in the household should behave in a happy, jolly manner toward each other. The dog, sensing their level of relaxation, figures out that nothing bad is going to happen and relaxes himself. The fact that the technique works is testimony to the fact that dogs are influenced by our emotions and behavior. When we’re “up,” they’re “up” (and vice versa).
  • Many dogs slink away and hide or sulk when their human “parents” argue. A major league fight between adults really seems to take its toll on some dogs. It appears from the dog’s behavior that he understands discord and does not want to be around it. Of course, it can be argued that raised voices might drive the dog away but I have heard of dogs that sulk even when their owners purposely keep their voices low. It’s almost as if you can’t hide anything from a dog.
  • If an owner comes home and finds their home trashed by their dog, the guilty party will often be found hiding, perhaps with a hangdog look. Owners believe their dog is feeling guilty about what he has done. If you accept the guilt explanation, you must also accept that the dog is able to project about your feelings of disappointment or anger. Hard line behaviorists (naturally) disagree with this interpretation, preferring to believe that the dog simply associates his owner, the damage, and his own presence with past punishment and acts submissively. This is all fair and well, but I know dogs that have never been punished and who still act in this way. Sure, their owners may have been disappointed and disheartened by the damage, but that’s about it. The dogs must have “read” their owner’s disappointment from their expression, because they sure weren’t responding to any form of punishment.
  • Some naughty dogs do not appreciate their owners hugging or kissing each other. They seem to know that the people concerned are experiencing some pleasure and they want to be part of it. So, they try to leverage themselves into the situation by shoving, pushing, pawing, and jumping. This behavior sure looks like jealousy but many mainstream behaviorists disagree, preferring explanations like possessiveness or conflict-induced behavior, because dogs (surely?) cannot understand how we feel.

Conclusion About Can Dogs Sense Emotions in Humans?

Examples of dogs seemingly picking up on our emotions are endless but still the scientific proof is not there. I suppose it would be very difficult for some folks to accept that dogs, or any animals, might have minds that work in ways similar to our own. I suppose the believers still have a long way to go to convince the skeptics.

The case against animals being able to pick up on our mood and mindset is based on lack of confirmatory evidence as opposed to conclusive evidence to the contrary. But the times they are a changin.’ In one primate experiment, Harvard researchers trained a monkey to lower a basket of fruit down from a pulley in the ceiling. When the researchers stopped putting fruit in the basket, the monkey stopped lowering the basket. When another monkey was suspended in the basket and screamed blue murder, the trained monkey lowered him to the ground. The action appears to reflect empathy though the researchers are still working on other possible explanations.

From an evolutionary point of view, it would be very strange if dogs did not have the ability to sense mood. It would also be an almost incredible fluke if self-consciousness suddenly occurred for the first and only time in the human animal. It doesn’t make sense to have a pack animal like a dog unequipped to realize when he was getting into trouble with another dog or when his behavior was having the desired effect. If dogs feel what we feel, they should be happy when we’re happy, sad when we’re sad, and on the lookout (or hiding) when we’re angry. All of the above do occur, on an almost daily basis, in our homes.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372