Brachycephalic: Trendy Dog Breeds Suffer for Popularity

A recently published study points to a disturbing trend in dog ownership.

Researchers analyzed Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) registrationstatistics from 1986 to 2013 for 181 breeds. They found that people are becoming increasingly likely to purchase smaller, brachycephalic dogs. In other words, breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs that have a short muzzle, wide head, and prominent eyes.

Why is this a concern? Brachycephalic dogs have more than their fair share of health problems, chief among them brachycephalic airway syndrome. By selecting for this unnatural head shape, we’ve created some potentially serious anatomic abnormalities, including:

  • narrowed nasal openings
  • a thin trachea (windpipe)
  • a long soft palate
  • outpouchings of tissue into the larynx (voice box)

These characteristics can combine to make breathing very difficult for these poor dogs. Typical symptoms include noisy breathing, working harder than normal to breathe, an inability to exercise normally, a tendency to overheat, and gagging. In severe cases, dogs may collapse due to low blood oxygen levels. Also, small brachycephalic dogs often cannot give birth naturally. Their pups have to be delivered by C-section, the timing of which may not ideal for the pups’ welfare.

“Other brachycephalic-predisposed conditions include mast cell tumours, chemoreceptor system neoplasms, hydrocephalus and multiple digestive, ocular and dermatological disorders,” according to the Australian researchers. Most disturbingly, the authors report that “life expectancy is estimated 4 years lower in highly brachycephalic breeds than those not (8.6 years vs 12.7 years).”

And this trend toward smaller brachycephalic breeds is not limited to Australia. As the paper states:

The brachycephaly boom seems to be worldwide. In agreement with our results, brachycephalic breeds such as English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs have been becoming increasingly popular in the United Kingdom (UK) over recent years, and the numbers of Bulldogs and French bulldogs registered with the American Kennel Club have increased by 69% and 476%, respectively, in the past decade.

Why are we seeing a “brachycephaly boom”? The authors theorize that it has to do with a combination of three factors:

  • The increasing popularity of smaller homes, which could limit the appeal of large dogs.
  • The round head, prominent eyes, and small nose of brachycephalic dogs are infant-like and stimulate caregiving tendencies in adults, even across species.
  • Pure fad

Are you thinking of getting a small, brachycephalic dog? I’m not (necessarily) trying to change your mind, just be aware of the consequences of your decision.

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.
310 919 9372


Dog Psychology: Can Dogs Sense Our Emotions?

Can Dogs Sense Our Emotions?

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 Our Emotions?

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.
310 919 9372

Benadryl for Cats?

When you have an allergic reaction, it’s easy to just pop a Benadryl to ease your symptoms. Many dogs are given Benadryl to help them fend off allergic reactions. But is this drug safe for cats too?

“It is safe,” says John Faught, a DVM and medical director of the Firehouse Animal Health Center in Austin, Texas. “Benadryl is just an antihistamine, and it’s relatively safe for both dogs and cats.”

Benadryl is the brand name for the drug. The active ingredient is diphenhydramine, which you also can buy if you’re looking for a generic form of the medication. The Benadryl you’d get at the vet’s office is the same drug you’d buy off the shelf at your local grocery store.

How to Give Benadryl to a Cat

The easiest way to dose a cat is to syringe liquid Benadryl, says Faught. But many cats will simply refuse to take it if they don’t like the odor or taste. If your cat won’t take it, you can try going through a compounding pharmacy where the staff can flavor the liquid with chicken, fish or another cat-approved taste, which may increase the chance of your feline taking it. Pills also can be flavored, if you’d prefer to give the medication that way instead. You also could try to mix it up with their food to see if they’ll consume it with the meal.

Faught says his office doses Benadryl at about one milligram per pound. For an average sized cat, you’ll probably want to give half of a 25-milligram tablet. A 10-pound cat will most likely need about four milliliters of liquid (available at a concentration of 12.5mg/5ml) to get the right dose, he says.

What is Benadryl Used for in Cats?

Benadryl is most commonly used for itchy or allergic skin reactions, vaccine reactions or bug bites. Occasionally, the drug can work as a mild sedative that you can use during long car trips. Benadryl can be used as an anti-nausea or motion sickness medication, but Faught cautions that it’s best to use a different medication if that’s the symptom you’re trying to treat.

Precautions to Take When Giving Benadryl to Cats

Just like in people, Benadryl can cause a wide range of symptoms. Your cat may act drowsy. The drug, sometimes, may also cause a cat to get amped up or hyper. Overdoses can lead to seizures, coma, difficulties breathing, and even death.

As with giving any new medication, it’s best to talk it over with your vet to see if Benadryl might be right for your cat and ensure that the dosage won’t interfere with any other medications your cat may be taking.

It’s also best to ensure that the medication is not masking a larger issue, says Faught.

“Oftentimes, you can have mites or infection or something else that’s going on that might be the underlying component,” he says. “Benadryl treats a symptom; it doesn’t necessarily take away an underlying problem.”

If your cat is having a severe allergic reaction—with problems such as trouble breathing—it’s best to contact your vet to discuss the issue instead of just giving Benadryl to see if the symptom disappears.

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.
310 919 9372

Flea Control for Dogs and Flea Bite Allergy in Dogs

Flea bite hypersensitivity and flea allergicdermatitis is the most common skin disease in pets. And although the allergies usually develop when dogs are young (less than one and up to five years of age), flea allergies can begin at any age. It is the saliva from the flea that is actually believed to be the cause of the allergy or sensitivity.

The flea life cycle includes the adult flea, egg, larva, and pupa. Adult fleas do bite but cannot survive long if they are not on the dog. Once the adult flea lays its eggs on the host it will fall off, leaving the eggs to mutate through the rest of their life cycles. This generational process continues on the host pet until the flea population has been eradicated entirely.

The condition described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how flea bite hypersensitivity and flea allergic dermatitis affect cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.


Flea bite hypersensitivity or flea allergic dermatitis usually causes severe itching of the skin. This condition is medically referred to as pruritis. As few as one or two flea bites a week can cause pruritis, so symptoms will often persist even after some form of flea control has been used. Symptoms are often episodic, but most dogs will have symptoms that worsen with age. Some dogs can also suffer behavioral problems as a result of flea bite hypersensitivity, with a condition called neurodermatoses.

Most owners first notice frequent and severe itching and scratching, hair loss, and scabs on the dog’s skin. Many times the hind end is affected more than the front of the body or the head, however, dogs that are being affected by an allergic reaction to the fleas can have lesions anywhere on the body. Moreover, fleas or flea dirt may or may not be visible.


By using a flea comb to inspect your dog’s hair, fleas or flea dirt can be seen more readily. Skin tests for mites or bacterial skin diseases may be recommended if fleas cannot be found. Sometimes the best diagnostic method is to just treat for fleas.


Flea control and prevention is essential for dogs with flea bite hypersensitivity. There are numerous options on the market that kill the adult fleas for a period of time, but all should be repeated (as indicated) for continuous flea control. Insecticides often are applied as spot-on treatments – typically topical treatments that are applied to a small area, usually at the top back of the neck where the dog is unable to lick it off. Oral products are also available, some of which may be more useful and practical for you and your dog. Flea shampoos can also be beneficial for young animals or for an acute flea infestation, but continuous management with one of the long-term products is essential.

Flea control for outdoor pets is virtually impossible, but current flea control products that are available may be sufficient for short term treatment, as long as the house does not become infested. There are many pet products that can be used to treat for fleas during their immature stages of life (i.e., eggs). However, if the house or yard has an infestation, environmental treatment will be necessary. Fleas will actually bite humans in the house if flea medications cause them to leave their animal host to search for another host.

Dogs that are allergic to fleas may require steroids or antihistamines to combat their sensitivity to the bites. Likewise, if a secondary bacterial infection develops as the result of open sores, antibiotics may be prescribed. Follow-up exams are often necessary to determine how treatments are progressing.


The most important factor in managing a dog with fleas is the application of regular doses of flea treatment on a timely basis. Because it takes only one or two bites for a flea allergic animal to start itching, it is best that you be consistent with flea control products. Other factors to consider, such as frequent bathing, and whether you are using spot-on treatments or other topical products, will determine how long to wait between product applications.


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.
310 919 9372

Apple Cider Vinegar: A Natural Fleas Preventative


Fleas are annoying, but every pet owner knows the pests are actually more than a nuisance—their bites can cause itching and irritation on your pets skin, and they carry a myriad of diseases, too. There are plenty of options available for killing fleas, but many contain chemicals and non-natural ingredients.

A natural flea killer is likely sitting in your pantry right now: apple cider vinegar. It can be an inexpensive alternative to pricey medications, and it’s easy to use. Read on to learn more about how to use apple cider vinegar for fleas.

Apple Cider Vinegar: A Natural Flea Killer?

Apple cider vinegar doesn’t actually kill fleas, but it does provide an unpleasant environment that will make fleas want to move on. Both the smell and the taste are off-putting to fleas, which means they avoid your pet if they smell and taste like apple cider vinegar, says Darcy Matheson, author of “Greening Your Pet Care.”

Apple cider vinegar is best used as a preventative measure in protecting your pets against fleas. And while there are plenty of commercial products available for killing and preventing fleas, not all veterinarians like them. “I recommend using natural flea products instead of chemicals due to the many detrimental side effects that can occur when using chemical products,” says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian in New Jersey. She notes that some chemicals found in commercial options can potentially negatively affect not only the pet, but also the humans—including children—who administer them and come in close contact with the treated pets.

Using apple cider vinegar as a preventative flea treatment will make things easier for you later. Dr. Pamela Fisher, a holistic veterinarian in Ohio, notes that fleas are much harder to deal with once they’re on your pet and in your home.

But not all veterinarians support apple cider vinegar as an effective flea preventative. “I would only recommend natural options for owners who are holistic or for patients who do not respond well to medicated flea treatments,” says Katie Gryzb, DVM, a veterinarian based out of Brooklyn. “I would never recommend a natural option over a medicated flea treatment except for the previously stated cases.”

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Prevent Fleas

Pouring a bottle of apple cider vinegar over your pet will not magically make fleas disappear—so don’t try it. However, there are multiple ways this natural flea repellent can be used: in drinking water, in baths and as a spray.

If you choose to use apple cider vinegar to bathe your pet, using a diluted solution is best, says Fisher. This option can be used as a preventative or a treatment, depending on your needs.

Adding apple cider vinegar to your dog’s drinking water can be a good option, but it may be a little tricky, explains Matheson. For this option you should include a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for every quart of water, but your dog might not be a fan at first. “You may have to introduce this gradually because apple cider vinegar does have a distinct taste,” Matheson says.

How to Make an Apple Cider Vinegar Flea Spray

To use apple cider vinegar in a spray, just add equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water to a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on your pet when you notice fleas, or before they go outside to discourage fleas at the outset. This mixture can also be used in your home if you notice fleas in your carpets or bedding, but be sure to always test on a small area first to see how the material will react.

If using the spray method, it’s important to be aware of where you’re spraying. “Be careful to avoid their eyes, noses and ear area when you’re misting around the face,” Matheson says.

This spray can be even more effective if you add a few drops of some essential oils, says Morgan. She recommends lavender or cedar oil as both have flea-repellent properties and will make your dog smell a little better than if you just use apple cider vinegar.

Other Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs


Apple cider vinegar can be used as a natural flea killer in many ways, but dog owners have other natural options, too.

Many people like to use essential oils, which Morgan uses on her own pets when necessary. It’s important to make sure essential oils are diluted before use on your pet, Morgan says, because otherwise they’re too strong and could cause skin irritation or respiratory distress These oils can be mixed with water and added to your dog’s collar before he heads outside—Matheson says to use 8-10 drops of oil and two tablespoons of water to make the mixture. Oils such as lemongrass, cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary and thyme are also safe and effective mixtures to use as possible flea preventatives. It’s equally important to know which oils not to use on pets—tea tree oil, for example, can be toxic to both cats and dogs, Matheson says.

Matheson also recommends using lemon as a home remedy for fleas on dogs. Similar to the vinegar, fleas are repelled by the taste of lemon. Simply add a cup of lemon juice to your dog’s bath or include some on a comb while you’re brushing them out.

Natural flea killers, however, aren’t without their downsides. “Many of the products need to be reapplied on a regular basis,” says Fisher, “but are well worth the effort to keep our pets and families safe.”

Remember that it’s best to work with a veterinarian to safely control and prevent fleas, even if you’re using natural products.


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.
310 919 9372

Natural Remedies for Mange in Dogs: Do They Exist?

Mange in dogs causes bald spots, lesions and severe itching in dogs. And pet parents are searching for natural mange remedies to treat the unpleasant skin condition.

But are natural treatments an effective option for dealing with mange? We checked in with some holistic veterinarians to find out.

Understanding the Types of Mange in Dogs

“Demodectic mange is an inflammatory disease triggered by a microscopic mite that almost all dogs and people have in their skin,” says Christina Chambreau, DVM, CVH, of Sparks, Md. “It only becomes a problem when the immune system is weakened and the mites multiply.”

Demodectic mange, also known as “demodex” or sometimes “red mange” is the most common form of mange, and is often less severe than sarcoptic mange. It often causes hair loss, bald spots and sores.  This type of mange is not contagious.

Also known as scabies, sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious disease caused by a mite which burrows into the skin creating a red, moist, inflamed and sometimes crusty appearance on a dog’s skin. Sarcoptic mange often causes intense itching in addition to hair loss, scabs and sores. It is spread through contact with animals and places that are infested.

“In order to diagnose if sarcoptic mange is present, veterinarians do a skin scraping and look under the microscope. In some cases, a biopsy may be required,” says holistic veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney, who is based out of Los Angeles.

Sarcoptic mange generally is more complicated and can take longer to heal than demodectic mange because it doesn’t just live on the skin. It is a highly contagious infestation, and often invades the entire house, like fleas. If one animal in your home has mange, talk to your veterinarian about the need to treat other animals that share household space (bedding, crates, etc.)

How to Manage Mange in Dogs Naturally

“The initial goal is to soothe the itch,” says Chambreau. “Holistic veterinarians use a variety of flower essences, essential oils, herbs, Chinese and Western herbs because they naturally reduce inflammation, relieve the itch and calm the skin.”

Western herbs include Valerian, Chamomile, St John’s Wort and Kava Kava. Although these natural products are available over-the-counter, Chambreau strongly recommends working with a holistic veterinarian so that mange does not reoccur and your dog remains in optimal health.

Other holistic treatment options include Reiki massage and acupuncture which lower anxiety and calm distressed animals, which can help alleviate excessive itching. Acupuncture is believed to release hormones including endorphins and cortisol, which make dogs feel good.

To manage the itching, Mahaney recommends bathing dogs with a benzoyl peroxideshampoo, which has an antibacterial effect. This can be done at home or by a professional groomer.

When Natural Treatments Aren’t Enough

Most severe cases of mange, especially sarcoptic mange, will not be made better without prescribed medication from a veterinarian.

When sarcoptic mange cannot be controlled by natural treatments, Mahaney prescribes Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug in liquid form. “The owner gives the medication to the dog orally every day until the veterinarian confirms two negative skin scrapes, seven to fourteen days apart.”

The Importance of Diet in Managing Mange in Dogs

Mahaney stresses the connection between mange and diet. “Most pet food is designated ‘feed-grade,’ unfit for human consumption. It contains higher allowable level of toxins like mold-produced mycotoxin than ‘human-grade’ food that can cause inflammation, weaken the immune system, and can be carcinogenic.”

He strongly recommends a whole-food diet containing only human-grade food.

Chambreau also emphasizes the importance of restoring a dog’s weakened immune system by making dietary improvements. “People know that healthy food is local, fresh and has lots of variety,” she says. “These same rules apply to your dog’s diet. By making changes in diet, the dog’s own immune system will kick back in and the mange may disappear.”

Before making any dietary changes for your dog, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian or a board-certified dietician to ensure you’re feeding a well-rounded diet to your pet.

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.
310 919 9372

Understanding Puppy Teething

What is Teething in Puppies?

Teething is a term that refers to the process of permanent teeth coming in to your puppies’ mouth. Permanent teeth will replace the baby teeth.

Tell me More About Puppy Teeth

The teeth are located on both sides of the mouth with two rows of upper teeth that are anchored in the maxilla bone of the face. Two rows of lower teeth are anchored in the jaw bones (mandibular bone).

Dogs generally have 28 baby teeth, also referred to as deciduous teeth, and 42 adult or permanent teeth.

When Does Puppy Teething Typically Start?

Puppies, like human babies, are born without teeth. Only the gum surface is visible. This allows them to nurse without hurting the mother.

There are two stages to teething. The first is when the puppy gets in his baby teeth and the second is when the baby teeth fall out and your puppy gets his adult teeth. Things happen quickly in puppies as compared to humans.

When a puppy reaches 21 to 30 days of age, their deciduous or temporary (baby) teeth start to break through the gums. This is referred to as “erupting.” The exact age for this will differ amongst breeds and can even vary within puppies of the same litter.

Puppies have a total of 28 deciduous teeth by the time they reach 45 days of age (just over 6 weeks of age). The first teeth to break through are the incisors which are at the top front of the upper and lower jaws. These can begin as early as 14 – 21 days but often are closer to 30 days. After this – the needle like canine teeth (often called the fang teeth) appear between days 30 and 45. The teeth behind them in the back of the mouth are the premolars and molars and come in between days 21 and 45.

The second phase of teething is when the adult teeth start coming in which generally starts around 8 weeks of age and most breeds show permanent teeth at 6 to 7 months of age.

Teething is often worst between 12 and 20 weeks of age.

When Do the Adult Teeth Start to Come in?

The permanent teeth include six pairs of sharp incisor teeth, which are in the front of the mouth, surrounded by two pairs of large canine teeth. The premolar teeth are located just behind the canine teeth. The molars sit behind the premolars and are located towards the back of the mouth.

Eruption of the permanent teeth is as follows:


  • Central: 2-5 months
  • Intermediate: 2-5 months
  • Corner: 4-5 months


  • 5 months


  • First: 4-5 months
  • Second: 6 months
  • Third: 6 months
  • Fourth: 4-5 months


  • First: 5-6 months
  • Second: 6-7 months
  • Third: 6-7 months

What are Signs of Teething?

Some puppies are more bothered by teething than others. This may be because of soreness and swelling in the gums before a tooth comes through.

Symptoms associated with teething usually begin about 1 to 3 days before the tooth shows, and signs generally disappear as soon as the tooth breaks the skin. Many puppies don’t seem to be affected by teething at all.

Puppies often chew to help relieve the pressure in their gums. In rare cases, puppies may be reluctant to eat and drink because their mouths hurt.

How Can You Help Your Puppy While Teething?

Teething is worst between 12 and 20 weeks of age but is noticed by most puppy owners around 8 weeks which is a common time to acquire a new puppy. By the time your puppy is about 6 months old – they will have all of their adult teeth. Here are some tips to help your puppy feel better while teething:

  • Provide safe chew toys. Toys ideal to use during teething should be durable (can’t be chewed and swallowed) but are soft in texture so they don’t damage the teeth coming in.
  • Plush toys are great but have the risk of being shredded and eaten causing a life-threatening foreign body so they are not recommended.
  • Some treats can be frozen which can soothe inflamed gums while chewing.
  • Puzzle toys are often great ways to keep your puppy busy and occupied (and keep their mind off their teething). Examples of good puzzle toys include the Kong products and Buster Cube. You can often fill these toys with treats such as a kibble of food, soft food, or peanut butter. Many puppies will spend minutes to hours trying to get the treat out.
  • Rawhide type chews are popular but can be dangerous as large chucks are chewed and eaten. Rawhides are not recommended as chew toys.
  • Encourage exercise. Keep your puppy active and busy so they aren’t just focused on their mouths. Encourage them to run and play such as fetch. Take a walk. Do some training such as teach your dog to sit, stay, roll-over.
  • Rotate toys. Puppies can be bored by playing with the same toy day after day. Rotate toys after you notice your puppy isn’t playing with it like he used to then rotate it back in when he or she is bored again. Or if the toy is a puzzle toy – refill it with a treat.

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.
310 919 9372

Dogs at Play – How Dogs Play

 How Dogs Play


How and Why Dogs Play

Play, by definition, is fun. When play stops being fun it stops being play. Play is a pleasurable activity during which animals engage in behaviors that are not part of the immediate business of life, but rather are performed in mimicry, rehearsal or display. During play, dogs behave without real seriousness – running, jumping, chasing, mouthing, chewing, wrestling, biting, hiding and even humping. In play, all behaviors are a game to the players and are performed for fun. There is no hidden agenda.

Dogs have a unique gesture, the play bow, that signals “play mode.” The signal involves dogs going down on their elbows with their rear end elevated, tail raised and wagging. During such posturing, they have on their “play face,” with mouth open and ears pricked. They may bark to signal their wish to solicit another’s involvement, and may approach or withdraw from a potential play partner while pouncing and leaping about.

Play is usually, but not always, between two or more individuals. Sometimes dogs without partners will play by themselves. Solitary play is a rather sad event and may even have unwanted long-term repercussions.

Why Do Dogs Play?

It has been suggested that play is a necessary part of growing up for all young social animals and that without it they may not develop to their full potential. This does not appear to be the case, as animals deprived of play for reasons of sickness or ill health grow up to be behaviorally indistinguishable from their play-satiated peers. This is not to say that “players” may not develop more rapidly than their play-deprived peers, just that the end result often turns out to be more or less the same.

If play is not absolutely imperative for normal development to develop, what good is it? Well, play is a role-playing rehearsal for adult behaviors and as such will prepare a youngster for what lies ahead. During play, pups exercise their bodies and minds, making them healthier and smarter for it. In nature, this may give players the edge over their unrehearsed counterparts who may be still struggling to learn the Ps and Qs of canine etiquette or the rudiments of the chase. Note that different types of play unfold in parallel with sensitive periods of learning, so that play learning is most efficient. Mouthiness is first seen at 3 weeks of age, right after the transitional period. Then come play solicitation, play fighting, scruff holding, deference, and finally sexual play.

All these forms of play start in the socialization period between 3 and 6 weeks of age and they intensify as the pup approaches adolescence. Object play, chewing and chasing objects, occurs a little later, becoming most intense after about 16 to 20 weeks of age.

Types of Ways Dogs Play

Social Dog Play

Social skills are honed by playful interactions between individuals. One pup may jump on another pup, pin him, and then mouth him around the head and neck. If the pressure of the pup’s bite exceeds tolerable limits, the temporary underdog will roll over, yelp or run away. Both parties learn an important lesson. The biter learns to inhibit his bite if he wishes the fun to continue, and the pup that is bitten learns that deference or escape will cause the unpleasant experience to come to an end. Of course, sudden role reversal is also a feature of play, with provisional subordinates suddenly becoming pursuers and “attackers.” A happy medium is reached when truly dominant dogs learn their gift for mastery, and subordinates learn how to avoid or deter unpleasant exchanges. This dynamic may explain why dominant dogs are less successful than their subordinates in soliciting play. Aloof pups that don’t play much, and orphaned pups, often grow up to be socially inappropriate. In repelling borders, they may send a message that is too profound, failing to inhibit their bite – and they may not be able to deliver convincing messages of deference.

Sexual Dog Play

This mostly takes the form of mounting, clasping and pelvic thrusting (“humping”). The lack of seriousness is indicated by the somewhat haphazard orientation of this behavior, initially. Male and female pups are equally likely to be targeted, or in their absence, peoples’ legs and cushions may have to suffice. Dogs that have had no humping experience will not be as immediately successful in mating as previously rehearsed counterparts. Also, dogs without playmates may imprint on inanimate objects or human appendages as substrates for humping behavior, and become an embarrassment to own if not neutered. In addition, the relationship between humping and dominance must be born in mind if the correct human-companion animal relationship is to be preserved.

Oral Dog Play

Young puppies have a biological need to mouth and chew malleable objects. It seems to give them almost undue pleasure. Unlike social and sexual play, this type of play does not require a partner, though socially-testing tug-of-war games sometimes evolve as a spin off. Of course, by teething time, at around 6 to 8 months of age, object chewing becomes an extremely useful adjuvant to assist with tooth loosening and dental eruption, and may even provide some relief from gingival discomfort.

Predatory Dog Play

Chasing moving objects is a sure way of fine-tuning predatory skills. Ball chasing, stick chasing, and leaf chasing, are all ways in which this play form is expressed. With appropriate opportunity and guidance, pups will learn the ins and outs of the chase – how to accelerate, turn on a dime, brake suddenly, and how to pounce with accuracy and alacrity. If deprived of play predatory opportunities, dogs may resort to vacuum chasing of imaginary creatures, maypace, circle, or chase their own tails. This is a sad state of affairs.

Playtime as Dogs Age

In many species, like wolves, play is pretty much restricted to juveniles and adolescents. Adults do not normally have the time or energy to waste in such trivial pursuits. Domestic dogs, however, seem to be enduringly suspended in a juvenile frame of mind. Thus play is not something they outgrow but rather an activity they keenly pursue throughout their lives. Unhealthy and unhappy dogs do not play, so play serves as a barometer of well being, indicating that a dog is well fed, in good health, and content. Dogs, like humans, do not play when they’re sad or distressed. Dogs that do not seem to enjoy playing should be carefully scrutinized to make sure all is well in their lives.                     Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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.
310 919 9372

How Dogs Meet Each Other/Dog Contacts

How Dogs Meet Each Other

Very few dogs live in splendid isolation. They almost all encounter others of the same species throughout the course of their lives. Sometimes meetings between dogs take place on the street, sometimes they occur at public or private events, and sometimes they occur in the privacy of one or other dog’s home or yard.

How a dog responds to such a meeting depends on a number of factors, such as the dog’s temperament, his level of socialization, previous experience with other dogs, the other dog’s behavior, the location that the meeting takes place, whether he is on lead (controlled) or free, and (not least) the presence or absence of his owner. All this can paint a pretty confusing picture for the owner who often has no idea whether a particular meeting will be friendly or hostile.

Friendly Dog Meetings

When a couple of well-balanced, well-socialized, happy-go-lucky dogs meet, the result is often pure joy on the part of both dogs. They may run excitedly toward each other tails raised and wagging, mouths held relaxed, partly open, with lips slightly retracted (almost smiling), and with tongues lolling from side of their mouths. On establishing close contact, they proceed to investigate each other using every single sense to familiarize themselves with their new contact. Vision plays a key role in such recognition. They recognize a smiling face and relaxed body posture in another dog, as we do in a friendly stranger, and know when it’s safe to proceed. Next they sniff one another. As odd as it may seem to us, “anogenital” investigation is a natural, mutual greeting through which personal data is exchanged. The dogs then engage in a more physical greeting, perhaps licking, pawing, or body rubbing against each other. Their mutual appreciation endorsed, they may then signal a desire to play by means of ritualistic play bows and they’re off to the races.

Tense Beginnings with Dog Meetings

Sometimes dogs are not immediately friendly. For reasons of mutual suspicion and the need to establish rank, they progress through a series of subtle challenges and necessary responses in order to establish an understanding. The most forward or challenging dog often approaches the other at right angles, body tense – ready for action, vision riveted, ears erect, and tail flagging. The other dog has several options ranging from returning the challenge to extreme deference or even running away. For the challenged dog to swiveling around to stand parallel to its challenger, even resting its head on other dog’s rump, is not necessarily cause for alarm at this stage of the proceedings – but from here things can escalate.

Challenge and response is layered on, often in fairly short order. A paw placed on a shoulder, a close up stare, even a growl, may be met with escalation upon escalation, leaving no option but for a fight to break out. Alternatively, as is most often the case, one of the pair folds, adopting a slightly more deferent posture or literally rolling over to signal his acquiescence. After this crucial exchange of hierarchical acknowledgement, the fun can begin. Owners are often surprised when the seemingly confrontational beginning of a relationship soon turns into play.

Dysfunctional Dogs

Some dogs are never happy to meet a new dog. Perhaps because they were deprived of social interactions with other dogs during a sensitive period of development (3 to 14 weeks of age) and never learned to trust. Or perhaps because of some profoundly negative experience with another dog, they prefer human company or just being alone, to being around their own kind. On seeing another dog, even at a distance, such dogs become tense and act in such a way as to deter the encouter. They stiffen and bark at the other dog with hackles raised and tail tucked. Even humans know what these dogs are trying to communicate – but still some dogs continue to approach. This is when real trouble can arise as the dysfunctional dog attempts to repel borders.

If a fearful dog is on a lead with a flat collar or choke collar, its aggressiveness is often augmented because any chance of escape is thwarted. That leaves a good offense as the best defense. However, if the owner’s leadership is signaled to the dog by means of a head halter system, the dog may well yield to the owner’s masterly control and permit introductions to be made. Then, at least, the dog can begin the process of learning not to be fearful other dogs. Dogs that are wary of other dogs are not always alone in the world when it comes to dog friends. They often have accepted one or two other dogs into their inner sanctum of trust and may enjoy their company. It’s newcomers that they prefer not to meet.

Where Dog Meetings Take Place

Most confrontations occur when dogs are introduced on one or other dog’s home turf (territory). For a dog, territory is not simply what is defined in the owner’s plot plan but rather extends up and down neighboring streets, especially anywhere the dog urine marks, and includes the owner’s car. For the best chance of success when attempting to familiarize strange dogs is to introduce them away from either dog’s territory and under pleasant circumstances. Later, once they have had a chance to interact and have shown that they can get along together, they can be brought back to one or the other dog’s home.

Owner Influence on Dog Contacts

If a dog trusts his owner to look after him, he will be less aggressive with other dogs and will be more likely to respond peacefully to potentially provocative encounters with other dogs. It’s as if the dog knows that his owner will protect him, and he gains confidence from that fact. Many owners misunderstand their dog’s aggressiveness to other dogs as signaling its protectiveness of them whereas, in fact, the dog is more likely protecting itself, believing his owner to be incompetent in this respect.

Dogs are social animals and, as such, normally enjoy the company of other dogs. In order to get to know other dogs, of course, they first must meet them and then appreciate them … or not. Just because dogs are social creatures does not mean they will therefore enjoy the company of all other dogs they meet. Barring occasional posturing that goes on during some encounters, there is usually little to be concerned about when dogs meet. The only serious problems come when unsure dogs of near equal dominance status meet or when unwelcome meetings are forced on a dysfunctional, anti-social dog. To avoid such catastrophic meetings, it is important to know your dog, his strengths and weakness, to control the moment, and, above all, to be his strong and trustworthy leader.      Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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.
310 919 9372

Dog to Dog Communication

 Dog to Dog Communication


Dog to Dog Communication

Without a sound, two properly socialized dogs meeting for the first time can size each other up in just a few moments. An exchange of glances can tell each canine if they’re going to be friends or enemies.
How can dogs do this without a sophisticated verbal language? The answer: facial expressions, body language and posturing. Although dogs signal intent by barks and growls, the message is not complete without the telegraphy of body and facial language.

Dog Body Language

Various parts of the dog’s body are involved in this form of communication.

Here is a quick primer in canine body language. Here are what canine facial expressions, head and neck positions, gestures, tail position and torso position means as to how dogs communicate.

Dog Facial Expressions

A combination of facial expressions communicate a dog’s mood and intentions that can be understood by other species, including humans. Here are a few examples of facial communication:

  • Relaxed mood: Soft eyes, lit up, looking – but not staring. Ears forward or flopped, with tips bent over (if anatomically possible). Mouth open, lips slightly back, giving the impression of smiling. Tongue hanging limply from the side of the mouth
  • Anxiety: Eyes glancing sideways or away. Ears to the side of the head or flopped. Teeth clenched, lips firmly retracted. Tongue either not evident or lip licking
  • Intimidating: Eyes staring like searchlights. Ears forward. Teeth bared
  • Fearfulness: Eyes looking forward or away, pupils dilated. Ears pressed backclose to the head. Panting/breathing hard through clenched or slightly open mouth. Jaw tense so that sinews show in the cheeks
  • Stress: Yawning plus other signs of anxiety or fearfulness (as above)

    Dog Head-Neck Position

  • Head down (“hang dog”): Submission or depression
  • Head in normal mid-way position: Everything is all right
  • Head/neck turned to side: Deference
  • Head held high/neck craning forward: Interest or, depending on other signs, a challenge
  • Head resting on other dog’s back: Demonstrating dominance

    Dog Torso/Trunk/Upper Limb

  • Tensing of muscles and the raising of hackles: Threat/imminent fight

    Dog Gestures

  • Play bow – head low, rump elevated: The universal sign of canine happiness and an invitation to play
  • Paws on top of another dog’s back: Dominance
  • Looming over: Dominance
  • Rolling over: Submission/deference
  • Urinating by squatting: Deference
  • Urinating by leg lifting: Dominance/defiance
  • Humping: Dominance
  • Backing: Unsure/fearful

    Dog Tail Position

  • Tail up: Alert, confident, dominant
  • Tail wagging: Dog’s energy level is elevated (excited or agitated)
  • Tail held low or tucked: Fearful, submissive
  • Tail held horizontal and wagging slowly: Caution
  • Tail held relaxed and stationary: Contented dog

The Conclusion on How Dogs Communicate with Other Dogs

There is no one sign that gives away a dog’s feelings but if you consider all the body language signs, you can get a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the dog’s head. A dog that is staring at another dog, his ears pricked and his tail stiff, is probably conveying dominance, or at least a wish for it.

A dog that averts his gaze from another dog and hunkers down nervously as if waiting for an explosion is likely fearful and is trying to defuse the situation by acting submissive.

Sometimes body language signs can be ambivalent, however. For example, it is not uncommon to observe a dog growling at another dog while occasionally glancing to the side, backing up, and with his tail wagging. Such a dog is invariably fearful. Whenever fear signs are present, fear is in the equation. These dogs are unpredictable with other dogs and will alter their body language and behavior according to circumstances. If the opposing dog retires, they may jump around and “look happy.” If the opposing dog approaches too close the fearful one may snap or bite. Owners, if present, can help defuse their dog’s ambivalence and uncertainty by taking a strong leadership role. It’s amazing how rapidly a fearful dog’s disposition will change when an authoritative owner steps in and controls the moment. Dogs need strong leaders.

Another aspect of communication is odor. Because dogs have such an amazing sense of smell, it is likely that they learn a lot about other dogs from their smell. That’s what all the sniffing is about. It is difficult to imagine what sort of information passes between dogs via this medium. We do know that intact male dogs “smell male” (because of male sex pheromones) and that neutered males do not have this characteristic musk. By neutering males, we alter the olfactory signals they emit and thus other dog’s perception of them. It may even be that the “non-male smell” equates with a diestrus (in-between heat periods) or a neutered bitch smell.

When an intact male dog meets a neutered one, the response may not be confrontational because the other dog doesn’t perceive a rival. He may believe the neutered dog is female.

Non-verbal communications signaling “let’s play,” “leave me alone,” “who do you think you’re talking to,” “I’m not going to cause you a problem, I promise,” are going on all the time between dogs but many dog owners don’t realize it. It’s amazing what can be conveyed with the odd glance or posture. Some dogs are masters at such subtle language.

The worst canine communicators are those dogs that have been raised without the company of other dogs during a critical inter-dog socialization phase of their lives (3 to 6 weeks). Hand raised orphans provide an extreme example of what may be lacking. Many of these dogs are socially inappropriate having not learned canine communication and social etiquette. They may attack andcontinue to attack another dog when the psychological war is already won. They may not know how to signal defeat when they are being attacked themselves. And that’s just the (extreme) tip of their communication failures.

Most dogs are not this “dyslexic” and can communicate what they need – as with humans – but the good communicators usually have the edge. Fully functional body language is a beautiful thing that can help resolve uncertainties at a glance. Humans communicate in body language too. We’re just not so good at it and some of us are positively stiff. If dogs could talk they’d probably categorize us as “dumb animals.”                   Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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.
310 919 9372