‘Fixing’ Your Dog: It’s Not a Dent, Dog Behavior Training May Help

“Is he fixable?” my client asks. She is a nice, older woman and “he” is Samson, a medium-sized, brown dog with deep black eyeliner and a jet black nose. Samson is in my office because he growls at people that he doesn’t know. Last week, he bit a delivery man.

“Nope,” I say. “He is a dog, not a broken stereo. He can get better, a lot better, but he will always have the predisposition toward this behavior.”

Samson’s owner asked the question that I hear each day, every day. She wants to know if her dog is “fixable.” Dogs are living, breathing beings with their own minds. They make their own decisions. They are not dents in a car that can just be fixed. They are not robots. Can you 100% guarantee your behavior tomorrow? Are you fixable?

Behavior disorders are not like orthopedic disorders, at least not exactly. Many orthopedic disorders are fixable. For example, my dog Sweetie who has since passed on had osteoarthritis due to hip dysplasia. We got her two new hips. She was fixed. You can find out more about Sweetie’s surgery and all that we went through with her orthopedic problems here.

Behavioral disorders are much like dermatologic disorders. The dogs are treated and often get better, but there is always the chance of relapse. For me, this concept is not so difficult to understand. I have emotional baggage. Unless you were raised in that perfect family that you see on T.V., you have some too. It has taken my adult life to work through some of that baggage, but a dog who can’t speak English and has the brain power of a one year old child should just fix his emotional baggage? This is a completely unrealistic expectation. Can we cut the dog a break?

I further explained to Samson’s Mom that by modifying her expectation of her pet, she would be better able to help him. If she can wrap her head around what her dog can achieve, she will most likely reach that goal. If she is stuck with her head in the clouds, it will be harder for her to be successful.

What is a realistic expectation for Samson? Some short-term goals (reachable in 2 months or so with work) would be for him to stop growling at unfamiliar people about 50-75 percent of the time when his owner is holding his leash and working with him.

Unrealistic goals for the next two months include:

  1. Allowing Samson to be loose with the owner’s grandkids or any unfamiliar people.
  2. Allowing Samson to be at the door when the owner receives a package or people come over.
  3. Going to the dog park.
  4. Letting people pet Samson when on a walk.

What happens after two months? If Samson is doing well, we can build on his plan so that we can reach higher goals like meeting new people in the house or being loose when a delivery comes. What is interesting is that owners often accept the first level goal and don’t push to the 2nd level goal.

What I mean is that when I see dogs like Samson for a recheck, the owners are often perfectly happy and don’t push to higher goals of having the dog off leash with people that he doesn’t know. It isn’t me. In many cases, I would be happy to help them go further. I think that owners often realize that their dog is happier without all that stress.  Their dog doesn’t want to meet new people. They also feel happier themselves. They have good control over their dog so they are less stressed.

Their dog isn’t fixed, but he is safe and happy. And that is enough.

Dr. Lisa Radosta

Do Animals Dream?

Do you ever watch your dog sleeping and suddenly he is running a race in his sleep?  His legs look as though they are running really fast.  Here is an interesting article about our dogs dreaming.–Diana Davidson, Westside Dog Nanny.

My adopted dog, Roxy, survived in a drainage ditch during the wettest and coldest time of the year with compound fractures of both wrists (bones protruding through open wounds), in coyote infested territory for 5 ½ weeks. Most nights, while fast asleep, she vocalizes; from pathetic whimpers to ferocious protective growls to unidentifiable, nondescript sounds. Is she dreaming of those lonely, fearful nights in the ditch? Is she longing for her former life? Is she dreaming at all? I think all of the above but she can’t confirm it for me. So I sought to investigate the possibility that animals dream. This data is far from scientifically defensible but I think worthy of speculation.

Dr. Stanley Coren, Dream Researcher

Dr. Stanley Coren, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, confirms that “at the structural level, the brains of dogs are similar to those of humans.” He also notes that during sleep their brain wave patterns are similar to that of people. These electrical stages of activity are consistent with the idea of dreaming in dogs.

His research is corroborated by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have very suggestive evidence that sleeping rats dream. Rats that were subjected to a complex maze had the same electrical brain recordings during the actual maze training as they did while asleep, presumably dreaming of the maze activity. The dreams waves were so specific that researchers could identify the exact point in the maze that the rats were dreaming about.

The Dog’s Dreaming Brain

The dog brain is even more complex than the rat brain, so it is not a far leap to assume that dogs also dream. In fact, studies have shown that dogs exhibited body movement only at brain wave stages associated with dreaming. “Dreaming Springer Spaniels flushed imaginary birds, while Doberman Pinchers picked fights with dream burglars.”

Dr. Coren’s Observations on Dog Dreams

“It is really quite easy to determine when your dog is dreaming without resorting to brain surgery or electrical recordings. All that you have to do is to watch him from the time he starts to doze off. As the dog’s sleep becomes deeper, his breathing will become more regular. After a period of about 20 minutes, for an average-sized dog, his first dream should start. You will recognize the change because his breathing will become shallow and irregular. There may be odd muscle twitches, and you can even see the dog’s eyes moving behind its closed lids if you look closely enough. The eyes are moving because the dog is actually looking at the dream images as if they were real images of the world. These eye movements are most characteristic of dreaming sleep. When human beings are awakened during this rapid eye movement or REM sleep phase, they virtually always report that they were dreaming.”

Cat Dreams

It appears cats also dream and act out wake behaviors. Researchers have witnessed “sleepwalking cats walking, swatting their forepaws, even pouncing on imaginary prey.”

Do Our Pets Dream?

Personally, I think so. The scientist in me has doubts about the quality of the present research and extrapolation to various animal species. However, Roxy experiences something most nights that is undeniable. Your thoughts are welcome.

Dr. Ken Tudor

Best Quotes about Animals and People

Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

— Anatole France

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

— Roger Caras

I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love.

— James Herriot

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.

— Milan Kundera

When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.

— William Shakespeare (Henry V)

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

— Mahatma Gandhi

I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.

— Abraham Lincoln

The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

— Henry Beston (The Outermost House)

He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.

— Immanuel Kant

Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.

— A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)

All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.

— Samuel Butler

If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.

— James Herriot

The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.

— Samuel Butler

Dog Safety: Camping with Dog

 Some of these dog safety tips you will be familiar with but they are especially important when camping with dog and spending time outdoors.

1-While I am not a big fan of vaccinations you should check to see if there are any proof of vaccination requirements at the campgrounds you plan to visit or at any state or national border crossings. Typically a veterinarian issues pet health certificate will suffice if required

Make sure that dogs are permitted at the campgrounds you plan to visit . The National Park System has varying restrictions on access to campgrounds and trails that you must be aware of..

You can search for campgrounds nationwide in the U.S.   by Clicking Here  or visithttp://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm

2- Make sure that you have an ample supply of the kibble that you use and any supplements or meds that you give Fido daily.

We  carry small bags of Great Life Kibble http://www.doctorsfinest.com/?click=865, supplements and enzymes that make our crew a happy pack 🙂 A change of diet and routine on a sudden basis can be disconcerting to Fido and produce some unwelcome intestinal consequences.

 

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 It’s fun to take Fido boating but we recommend a  life jacket for safety sake

3-Make sure to have a harness or equally safe restraint so that Fido can ride in the 
back seat. Dogs unsecured can easily be propelled thru a window in the case of an impact. The most dangerous place for a dog to be is on your lap or in the back of a pickup with a leash. It can be a virtual death sentence if an accident  or sharp turn is necessary. Just don’t do it

4- If your camping trip involves any boating or water sports, make sure that you dog 
has a life jacket NOT EVERY DOG CAN SWIM ..in fact some don’t at all ! In the case of an emergency even a good swimmer may need life saving protection

5- Jot down the phone number of an emergency 24 hr veterinary clinic in every locale that you will be visiting… it may take a few minutes but sometimes the that can be the difference between life and no life after an accident or incident.  We hear of away 
from home emergencies on a regular basis… knowing what to do and WHERE to go 
can be life saving

6- If Fido is prone to run off and explore make sure that you keep him in harness . 
If absolutely necessary have a crate for short period use for HIS safety. And of course, NEVER lock your dog in a car for any amount of time. Even a few minutes can be fatal from heatstroke

7-Make sure that Fido does not eat strange and exotic things he finds in the brush… 
this includes cigarette butts and thrown away food which may be toxic or cause intestinal distress

8-Make sure to have a First Aid Kit. You may have this list from a previous issue
but just  in case here it is again

 First Aid Kit– Make sure to have a basic first aid kit in the car that includes:

  • Bandages such as gauze pads, cotton gauze, and masking tape.
  • Hydrogen peroxide and anti-bacterial ointment
  • Diarrhea medication (over the counter options available at many pet shops)…ask your vet
  • Scissors, tweezers
  • Eyedroppers for dispensing liquid meds.
  • Syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting in the case of poisoning. Ask your vet for instructions
  • Activated charcoal capsules kelps with poisoning, diarrhea and flatulence
  • Blankets an towels
  • Call your hotel/motel/lodge for dangers such as snakes, poison plants or extreme temps
  • Phone number for your vet and nearby emergency veterinary hospital

 

7- NEVER leave you dog alone at any campground or place that you visit

9- A word about Microchips-  If Fido is microchipped, is the contact information correct? I always make certain that every harness has its own tag with 2 current cell phone numbers…in case something happens to me when we are out walking…our 
dogs are small and always close..but even small dogs need protection in the event of 
the unexpected.

OK… now that you are well prepared… pack in advance and double check that you 
have everything..then get in the car and hit the road…maybe we’ll see ya’  at the 
next stop !

till next time

MR Bruno

Adopt a Dog- Take him on a Camping Trip !

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 to Feed a Sick Dog

What do you think of the saying, “Starve a fever; feed a cold”? On one level it makes sense. The fever, in this case, is indicative of an infection that is provoking a generalized immune response. Fighting the infection needs to be the body’s focus, not obtaining, digesting, and absorbing food, all of which requires the expenditure of energy and other resources. On the other hand, the fever itself increases the dog’s caloric and other nutritional requirements, so given enough time, not eating is going to take a toll on the body’s ability to mount an effective immune response.

When I’m treating a dog who has a fever I’ll respect his desire not to eat for several days as long as he has been on a good plane of nutrition previously. Dogs can go for a few days without food and avoid developing adverse biochemical and physiological effects (unlike cats). I also expect to start making inroads against whatever is causing the dog’s fever within that time, so hopefully the dog will start feeling better and eating on his own. If, however, that does not happen, we eventually reach the point when directly addressing the dog’s poor appetite becomes necessary.

I usually try to steer clear of medications that have the sole purpose of bringing down a dog’s temperatures unless it is so high that it becomes dangerous in and of itself. Fevers serve a purpose. Some parts of the immune system work better at higher temperatures so a fever can increase the chances that the dog’s immune system will be able to fight off invading microorganisms. But after a dog has not been eating for a few days, I feel that the benefits of fever start to be overwhelmed by the downsides of poor nutrition. In these cases, I will use a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (as long as it is not contraindicated based on a dog’s health status and/or the use of other medications) so the dog can feel better and hopefully start to eat.

During this time, I’ll also offer the dog special diets designed to be fed to sick animals. These products have several benefits over “regular” dog food. First of all, they are extremely palatable; dogs that have some appetite left are often unable to resist them. Secondly, they are very nutrient dense. Dogs do not have to eat much to receive a big nutritional boost. The high nutritional density also reduces the amount of work the digestive tract has to do, allowing the body to continue to focus on its immune response. Finally, many of these products have a soft and wet consistency. Dogs can lap at them or even be fed via syringe or feeding tube, if necessary.

We should never “starve” a fever in the sense of preventing a dog who wants to eat from doing so. Temporarily, there’s no harm in giving him the discretion to decide whether or not food should be a high priority, but after a few days, it’s time to intervene.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

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

Knowing When it’s Your Pet’s Time: Pet Euthenasia

This post particularly relates to my own situation.  My beloved Logan, a German Shepherd Dog, had to cross over the Rainbow Bridge on April 22, 2013.  He was too ill with DM, degenerative myelopathy, common with GSD; similar to MS in humans.

To quote this article:  “How would you know when enough is enough? In my experience, those who fear answering this question are the most prepared because they are so cognizant of their pet’s needs and well-being.  They often simply tell me they “just knew it was time.”

 Yes, Logan was euthanized on Monday, April 22nd; I knew something sad was going to happen the previous Friday…I just knew.  When, on Monday,  my vet took me aside and said that I must let him go, he is too far gone…..I said, “I know, I know!”

  ” I am still grieving.”  —Diana Ruth Davidson, Westside Pet Nanny

A common anxiety among most owners of pets with cancer is a fear of not knowing when their pet is in pain or is suffering as a result of their disease, and the ensuing concern about keeping their pet alive for their own benefit.

Veterinarians use objective parameters for determining if an animal is painful, such as looking for an increased heart rate and/or respiratory rate, noting vocalizations or the presence of dilated pupils, etc. However, these are relatively “obvious” signs even non-medically trained individuals would likely be able to recognize.

What about more subtle signs of pain? How can we tell if a pet is nauseous? Can we detect achiness or fatigue? How do we know when these signs impact a pet’s life so greatly, the solution to end the suffering is the fairest option?

You may be surprised to learn I often have no black and white answer to those important questions. I see how this frustrates owners, especially when one of their main goals in talking with me is to find out the statistics of what their pet’s expected survival time would be with or without treatment or how will they know when it’s time?

It’s nearly impossible for me to predict how long a pet will live based on tumor type. I can usually describe what the end stages of disease may look like, but it’s impossible for me to know when those will be so impacting to an owner that they would decide to humanely euthanize their pet. I can only tell them things to look for that will potentially affect quality of life, I can’t make the decision for them.

A few examples may be the best way to clarify my point.

Dogs and cats with tumors of their urinary bladder and/or urethra will often show signs of straining to urinate, passing only small amounts of urine, and increased frequency of urination. They may even show signs of incontinence as the pressure in the bladder builds up against the obstruction of the tumor.

Typically the pets are completely normal in every other way: they eat, drink, play, sleep, and cuddle just as they always did, but there are clear signs of discomfort observed when they try and eliminate. When I see dogs and cats show such signs, I do not hesitate to tell owners I feel their pets are in pain. Even so, I’ve seen pets with such tumors live more than six months with their signs. Is that fair for that pet? Would it be better to euthanize them before these signs show up or is that equally unfair because they seem so happy at all other times?

Pets with lymphoma, a common cancer of a white blood cell called a lymphocyte, will often show signs of lethargy, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and weight loss as their disease worsens. Signs are progressive and may persist for weeks or more before an animal might pass away naturally, but is this fair for an animal to endure? Do I believe these animals are painful? Basing my information on what we know about humans with lymphoma, the discomfort associated with the disease is not acute and sharp, as would be expected from a wound or a fracture. But does this mean it’s acceptable to watch pets not feel well before making the decision to end their lives? What, if any, degree of nausea, lethargy, or weight loss is acceptable?

The most difficult cases to manage are pets with tumors within a bone or multiple bones. Pets will show outward signs of pain by limping or not bearing any weight on the affected limb, but often still appear happy, active, and well.

Logically, we know such pets are painful. If they weren’t, they would be using the limb normally. Despite having several options for treating bone pain, I don’t believe we really do an adequate job of keeping the pet comfortable and I do discuss euthanasia as an option for pets at the time of diagnosis. Since many of these animals aren’t typically showing other outward signs of sickness, owners can have a hard time rationalizing this.

I always say, “What one owner will tolerate, another will not,” and there is no way I can predict how long any of those pets with the aforementioned tumor types will survive because it ultimately will be the owner’s decision as to how long they will be able to live with their pet showing clinical signs.

A major part of my job is to be the strongest advocate for my patient and to let owners know when I think we are out of options and when their pet is suffering from their disease. It’s not a particularly enjoyable part of my job, but it’s a responsibility I’ve taken on. Likewise, owners also have a huge responsibility for making sure their pets are well taken care of, and also to know how to relieve suffering when it’s “time.”

How would you know when enough is enough? In my experience, those who fear answering this question are the most prepared because they are so cognizant of their pet’s needs and well-being.

They often simply tell me they “just knew it was time.”              Dr. Joanne Intile

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

Can Dogs Eat Grapes and Raisins?…No

The most tragic accidents are those that could have been avoided. I’ve written about the danger that grapes and raisins pose to dogs before over on Nutrition Nuggets, but in honor of Ted, an eight-year-old Maltipoo who is no longer with us, I’d like to bring up the topic again.

Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, but until recently, veterinarians weren’t aware of this connection. I’m sure that some of the cases of kidney failure I’ve treated in the past were due to grape or raisin ingestion, but I didn’t even know to ask the question, “Could your dog have eaten grapes or raisins?”

Ted’s story is emblematic. He was a much loved member of a family that included two young children. As anyone who has spent time with the toddler/preschool set knows, their snacks stand about an equal chance of being swallowed or landing on the floor, being buried under the couch cushions, etc. Ted’s owner is sure that at any given time a few raisins could have been found scattered about the house. Ted was probably eating them for some time.

When Ted was seen by a veterinarian, he was suffering only from gastrointestinal upset. No one was overly concerned at the time. But as his condition deteriorated and evidence of kidney failure was found on a panel of blood work, the severity of his situation became evident. His veterinarian asked about exposure to potentially nephrotoxic (damaging to the kidneys) substances — antifreeze, bodies of water that could contain Leptospira bacteria, some types of medications … and grapes/raisins. That’s when the pieces all fell into place. Despite heroic efforts to save him, Ted’s condition declined to the point where the only humane option that remained was euthanasia.

Here’s what we currently know about grape and raising toxicity:

  • The causative agent, which has not yet been identified, appears to be in the flesh of the fruit. Peeled grapes or seedless varieties don’t appear to be any less toxic.
  • Raisins are more dangerous than grapes, probably because they are dried and are therefore a more concentrated source of the toxin.
  • There is a lot of variation in how individual dogs react to eating grapes. Some can ingest relatively large amounts with no adverse effects, while in others very small exposures can lead to big problems.
  • Cats also appear susceptible, but since most cats aren’t interested in eating grapes or raisins we don’t see as many problems in this species.

Initially, dogs that have eaten grapes or raisins may experience nausea and vomiting followed by diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, and lethargy. If the kidneys continue to shut down, urine production may slow and eventually stop altogether. Bad breath and oral ulcers develop as uremic toxins buildup in the body, and affected dogs can finally lapse into a coma and die.

If you know that your dog has eaten grapes or raisins, call your veterinarian immediately. Inducing vomiting within a few hours of ingestion can remove some of the toxin before it enters the bloodstream. The oral administration of activated charcoal can also help bind the toxin and prevent its absorption. Treatment for kidney failure centers on intravenous fluid therapy to support kidney function and flush toxins from the body and symptomatic care (e.g., anti-nausea medications and gastric protectants to prevent or treat stomach ulcers). Mild to moderately affected individuals will usually recover with appropriate care, albeit with permanently reduced kidney function. If urine production stops, the prognosis becomes poor. Hemodialysis can buy time for kidney function to return, but if the kidneys are too damaged, euthanasia or a kidney transplant (a procedure with less than a 50% success rate in dogs) are the only remaining options.

Please help spread the word about grape and raisin toxicity in dogs. Ted’s family certainly wishes someone had mentioned the risk of these ubiquitous snacks pose before their beloved family member fell ill.                   Dr. Jennifer Coates

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 You Love a Breed As Much as I Love the German Shepherd Dog?

For me, German Shepherds have always been my soul dogs. Do you have a breed like that?

Annie Phenix

This article is close to my heart.  I just got a 15-week-old German Shepherd Dog    -Diana Davidson

I have a new German Shepherd puppy. This whirling dervish is named Trinket. She was the runt in her litter but you’d never know by the size of her paws. She keeps me on my trainer toes because she is brilliant, feisty and easily bored. She’s not my first German Shepherd, nor will she be my last. I am nuts about this breed.

Every year when annual “most popular breed” reports arrive, I keep hoping my favorite breed — the German Shepherd — will finally be announced as the No. 1 breed in the country. They keep getting beat out by Labradors and Golden Retrievers as America’s favorite dog. Every year I check these listings and my beloved German Shepherd never lands in the No. 1 spot.

I only want my favorite breed to be No. 1 so that others publicly acknowledge what I know about these dogs: They are phenomenal! I don’t really want them to be as popular as they are because so often when a breed becomes that big, their health goes down the drain as opportunistic breeders start breeding the popular dogs for a lousy buck. That part of being a popular dog truly sucks.

I have started thinking lately about why German Shepherds are so loved. This breed came from herding stock in Germany, hence the “shepherd” part of their name. Herding breeds are nearly always put near the top of the list when it comes to which dogs are the most intelligent. I like a smart dog. I am particularly found of herding dogs because they are among the few we allow to have some sort of original thought process as they work. A herding dog must make split second decisions, and since they are eye level with the sheep and the handler is not, a good sheepherder is invaluable to the working shepherd. Usually the dog’s intuitive decisions are faster and better than the human’s. The dogs do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and they do it far better than we ever good.

The German Shepherd is a good-looking dog. They look a bit like a wolf, and perhaps that ancient bond our ancestors likely developed with people-friendly wolves speaks to us still. Their appearance in my opinion has suffered the past few decades, when breeders fell in love with that sloped back hip appearance. I hate that look and like many other aficionados of this breed feel that their hips and thus their health have suffered from breeders going for that famous slope.

Shepherds can have serious health concerns. I’ve shared my life with many of these dogs and only one of them lived until 13 years old, and he was a rare Shiloh Shepherd. I mourned so many shepherds dying so young that for a decade I shifted over to Border Collies. I once again have a gorgeous German Shepherd puppy in my life, and now my life feels complete again.

German Shepherds are quite possibly the most versatile dog there is. You see them as police dogs, war dogs, search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, obedience competition dogs, sport dogs and on and on. It would seem that whatever a human can think up for a dog to do, a German Shepherd can do it — just one more reason for their popularity.

For me, German Shepherds have always been my soul dogs. They both represent and speak to my soul somehow. Is it their eyes and they way they look deep into a person’s inner self that makes them seem so soulful? Is it that they seem to know exactly what their human is feeling and how to help when you are sad or upset, as well as how to share in your joy when you are really happy? Perhaps it is that every shepherd I have shared my life with walks right next to me of their own free will, constantly checking in with me by looking right into my eyes. Perhaps what they truly shepherd are our souls?

All of these things and more make German Shepherds famously popular. Even saying all that I have about this great breed, they are not for every person on the planet. For one thing, their big brains mean you need to keep them mentally stimulated. This is not a dog who will sleep all day and night and leave your couch, shoes, walls, and whatever unmolested if you have not satisfied his mental genius each day. They are supremely built athletes (except for those sloping hips) and you must ensure they get daily exercise. Please do not bring a German Shepherd into your life and home unless you truly can commit to daily brain and physical work. Shall I repeat that? These dog are a lot of work, so if you are a lazy owner or hate to work hard on behalf of a dog, skip this breed.

Sometimes people get German Shepherds for macho reasons. They think they look tough or menacing or God knows what with a German Shepherd dog at the end of the leash. People who have this dog for this reason have little understanding of the true nature of this breed. Underneath all that they can do, there is nearly always a sensitive dog soul in there who loves his human so deeply that he is willing to die for us in the line of duty — especially when the shepherd sees his duty as protecting us. We humans owe this breed more and have to finally step up and stop the everyday abuse from owners and trainers who insist that this sturdy German dog needs a “heavy hand” in training.

All of my shepherds are clicker trained, even my super brave, incredibly feisty working-stock, long-coated German Shepherd puppy. She has that powerful canine brain coupled with a desire to please me, and we get along famously in our training sessions. My only real problem in training is keeping her from boredom.

As you can tell, I love this breed. I wish more people could look deeply at this magnificent creature and see that while they are tough, physically strong and brilliant, they are still vulnerable and have feelings inside just as we do. They give us so very much of themselves, so lets give them back a little of us and do right both in breeding and training these loyal, beautiful dogs.

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

 

Animal Rescue: Animals are Optimistic

Rescued Animals Are Optimistic

 

All animals deserve love and care, especially those who have been neglected and left to fend for themselves. For all of those individuals who’ve rescued a lost, abandoned, or unappreciated animal, your kindness has not been overlooked and is making a bigger change than you may think.

A new study by scientists at Queen Mary, University of London has discovered that animals rescued from abuse and neglect, aren’t a lost cause. These animals can recover and in some cases have a more optimistic outlook on life compared to other animals.

As the first scientific study of rescued animals, 18 goats were observed – nine who had experienced a poor diet and lack of shelter, along with nine who had been treated well. Placing the goats in a spatial awareness test, the scientists observed how the two types of goats engaged in finding food in an area unknown to them.

Believing the well-treated goats would perform better, the scientists were surprised to discover that the positive treatment the neglected female goats received at the sanctuary, made them more optimistic.

“Mood can have a huge influence on how the brain processes information. In humans, for example, it’s well known that people in positive moods have an optimist outlook on life, which means they are more resilient to stress. In the same way, measures of optimism and pessimism can provide indicators for an understanding of animal welfare,” explains co-author Dr. Elodie Briefer from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

So even though our furry friends can’t literally thank us for our hospitality in their time of need, it’s their outlook on the future, after they’ve been cared for, that proves that we are making a difference in each rescued animals life one at a time.

Take a cue from Fiona, a rescued pooch from South Los Angeles. She was found blind, flea infested, and fending for herself, but after being rescued you can see in her demeanor and wagging tail how she’s come a long way from that parking lot she was found.

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

Pet Safety in EXTREME HEAT

Pet Safety in EXTREME Heat

According to composer George Gershwin, summertime means “the livin’ is easy; fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high”. This special season can also mean we need to protect our companion animals from extreme heat.

Keep in mind that when it is hot for you, it is even hotter for them. Dogs and cats do not sweat through their skin. They cool themselves by panting or rapid breathing, which means animals must work hard to stay cool.

Too much heat can be extremely dangerous or even fatal. If your best friend has a shorter nose, like Persian cats and bulldogs, he is more susceptible to heatstroke than breeds with longer noses.

If your dog or cat begins very rapid, noisy breathing, has trouble swallowing, and looks very distressed, she could be having a heatstroke. Heatstroke is an emergency. Get the animal out of the heat. Apply cold, wet towels to the back of the head. Place cold packs wrapped in towels or plain wet towels between the back legs and on the belly. Cool off your furry friend and then take her to the vet immediately.

The best plan is to keep your dog and cat protected from the summer heat.

  • Always make sure that your dog or cat has plenty of fresh water to drink. A bucket that holds a gallon or more of water will stay cool longer than water in a shallow pan. Some dogs consider ice cubes a treat, and you can add a few to the water bowl.
  • Dogs and cats do sweat a little through the pads of their feet. The cats I know do not appreciate water added to any part of their body, but dogs often enjoy having cool water on their feet. Some dogs enjoy walking through or even lying in a child’s wading pool.
  • It is dangerous to leave your dog or cat in a car for 5 minutes. If he cannot go inside at every stop with you, he is safer at home on hot days! Car interiors heat very quickly in the hot sun, even with the windows open. If it is 85 degrees outside, it will climb to 102 degrees inside your car within ten minutes. In half an hour, it will reach 120 degrees or more! If it is 90 degrees out, temperatures can top 160 degrees faster than you can walk around the block.
  • While walking your dog outdoors, play particular attention the hot pavement or sidewalks that make your dogs walking area hotter and can even burn their feet. Early morning and later evening walks will be more comfortable for you both!
  • Animals who go outside need access to shade. Dark coats absorb heat. Lighter coated animals, especially white ones, are at higher risk for skin cancer from exposure to the sun and they are more susceptible to sunburn.
  • Longer coated dogs and cats who are brushed regularly have natural insulation from the heat. However, if the coat has gotten matted, a summer clip will make your buddy much more comfortable and allow you a new start at keeping him brushed. Remember, newly clipped animals can be sunburned.
  • If your dog spends time in the yard, make sure she has access to shade. Shade trees, a covered patio, or a cool spot under the porch can help keep her comfortable.

Companion animals want to be with you. They will be safer and cooler inside with you, where they can spend their time doing what they do best: being your best friend!

 

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(888) 452-7381

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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

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