Category Archives: Dog Behavior

Why Is My Dog Humping Everything?


If dogs could have their own TV show in the style of Jerry Springer or Jeremy Kyle, I’m sure it’d be tagged ‘Why do I feel the need to hump everything in sight? Dog humping, often embarrassing, occasionally humorous, but mostly an unwanted behaviour that many a dog owner would like to stop. Let’s see if we can offer a solution on why dogs hump and, more to the point, how to stop dogs humping.

1. Indiscriminate Dog Humping


This type of indiscriminate humping isn’t about mating. Even a dog who is frenzied by hormones knows the difference between a receptive partner and someone’s leg. It’s not even about pleasure, although that may play a role. Dogs mainly hump because they’re trying to assert themselves. The longer they get away with it, the more powerful they feel.

Humping usually starts during a dog’s adolescence – between 6 months old and 2 years old – depending on the breed. This is the time when reproductive hormones are starting to reach adult levels, and some dogs go a little bit crazy. And dogs are always trying to prove that they’re tougher than the next guy. Some do it by humping. Others do it by putting their feet on another dog’s back. They reach sexual maturity before they reach emotional maturity.

2. Is It Just Dogs Prone To Humping?

Humping is not strictly a male dog behaviour, although males are the worst offenders. Unlike females, whose hormones ebb and flow with their reproductive cycles, males maintain fairly steady hormone levels all the time. The hormones themselves don’t cause humping, but they make dogs more likely to do it.

There’s another reason that males are more likely than females to latch on to human legs, one that has nothing to do with reproductive urges. Males are just more competitive. They’re always trying to prove (to people as well as to other dogs) how big and tough and independent they are. Humping is just one way in which they push the boundaries and assert their dominance within a family.

3. Why Do Puppies Hump Each Other?

Watch a litter of puppies at play, and you’ll see that they spend quite a bit of time climbing on top of each other, mounting and sometimes, even the littlest of the little squirts, thrusting their Elvis-like hips in a mesmorising display belying their tender age. The more assertive dogs may take advantage of their position and throw in a little humping session now and then. It’s their way of saying that they are, quite literally, top dogs. They hump to show their dominance more than for any other reason. Even puppies understand rank.

Once dogs are out of the litter and living with people, the same instinct remains. Human legs don’t have special appeal, but they’re accessible and easy to wrap paws around. In the wild, dogs never mount dogs who are higher in rank than they are. The only time that a dog tries this with people is when there’s some confusion in his mind about who’s in charge and who isn’t.

4. How To Stop Dog Humping

Sexual mounting has been successfully treated in many cases by neutering the offender. However, when the behaviour is psychologically ingrained, this may be ineffective. If the dog (male or female) is neutered in an attempt at correction, environmental/behavioural alterations are also advisable. It should go without saying that the owners must not allow or encourage further sexual mounting.

Neutering a dog or spaying a female is a big decision. It, in and of itself, is not a cure for anything – other than the prevention of tiny little paws appearing sometime down the line. Don’t be too quick to rush your dog to the vet as a shortcut to curing a behavioural problem. You’ll be disappointed. Behavioural problems require behavioural intervention. That includes mounting/humping.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

3 Bad Behaviors Dog Parents Encourage


We all strive to be the best pet parents we can be, but we often accidentally encourage those naughty behaviors that drive us nuts. It could take double the time to “un-train” the behavior as it did for him to start doing it. The following are some of the top pet-parent encouraged problems, along with tips to make them go away forever.

1. Jumping Up

2. Begging

They call them “puppy eyes” for a good reason. It’s hard to resist them when your dog gives you that look that seems to say, “I’m starving to death,” so of course you give in and share whatever is on your plate. The reality is you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of splitting your food with your dog.

Instead of sharing, give your dog his own delicious treat while you eat. Find a treat-stuffable activity toy or bone that will keep your dog happily occupied during meal time. If your dog finishes before you do and resorts to begging again, ignore him. (Again, if you have a persistent dog it’s not easy to do!) This behavior, like many of these problem behaviors, will likely go through what’s called an “extinction burst,” which is a temporary increase in the begging behavior before it goes away.

3. Leash Pulling

Dogs have places to go and things to pee on, and if your dog is a puller, you’re just an anchor keeping him from the next adventure. Pulling is another “creep up” behavior because we often allow our dogs to pull now and then, not realizing that if we let the pulling continue, we’re going to end up competing with our dogs’ muscle memory. Dogs very quickly learn that “a tight leash means I go forward,” and that feeling of tension around their necks becomes the set point for walking.

The goal is to teach your dog that pulling never works, and a loose leash is the way to go. When your dog pulls, stop walking every single time (you really have to pay attention during this exercise). When he circles back to you, or even looks back at you, offer him a reward right next to you, so that he has to come close to get it, and continue walking.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

How to Calm Your Dog During a Thunderstorm


If you’re like many dog owners, you’ve witnessed the terror that summer storms can strike in your pet. “Thunder phobia” most commonly develops in dogs between ages two and four, according to animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell. This fear can manifest as a variety of challenging behaviors—hiding, whining, scratching, slobbering, or tearing down door frames in a state of panic—and it can get worse with age.

What’s important to remember is that dogs suffering from thunderstorm fear are not misbehaving, says animal behaviorist Lindsay Wood of the Boulder Valley Humane Society. They’re displaying symptoms of anxiety.

Vets and animal specialists aren’t certain exactly what part of a storm causes dogs the most discomfort – the noise, the flashing lights, or something else entirely. Some dogs may be worriers in general and panic at any change, while others may be overly sensitive to sound, according to CJ Bentley of the Michigan Humane Society. Dogs also possess special sensitivities that make storms even more terrifying: dogs can sense the change in air pressure, and may hear low-frequency rumblings that humans can’t detect. Some vets also believe dogs experience shocks from the buildup of static electricity that accompanies thunderstorms.

To help your dog cope with stormy weather, Cynthia Bolte , who works on the animal behavior team at Purina, offers the following tips:

  • If there are windows in the room, close the blinds or curtains, or cover the windows so the dog can’t see outside.
  • Provide a safe indoor area, like a crate. A plastic crate is preferable, but if you have a wire crate, you can cover it with a sheet to create the feeling of a haven. Leave the door open so the dog does not feel trapped.
  • Play calming music to drown out the thunder claps.
  • Stay with the dog.
  • Try to distract your dog with treats and familiar games.
  • If your dog seems most upset by sound, you can try desensitization. Download thunderstorm sounds and practice by playing them quietly to your dog, and give the dog treats or play a fun game with him while the sound is on. Gradually, over weeks, increase the volume. Stop the play or treats when the sounds are turned off. The goal is to help your dog relate the sound of thunderstorms with happy times.
  • Use calming massage to reassure the dog.

There are a few products that might help your dog relax as well.

Tight jackets such as the Thundershirt provide a sensation of pressure, which can alleviate pets’ anxiety. (Swaddling a baby operates on the same principle.) You can also make a DIY version by buying a small T-shirt and putting the dog’s front legs through the armholes of the shirt. The shirt should fit snugly around your dog’s torso.

  • Visual filters such as the Thundercap reduce visual stimulation and can be soothing to dogs.
  • In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend a low dose of an anti-anxiety medication.

Your veterinarian is the best person to talk to when it comes to helping your dog cope with storms. He or she will be best equipped to pinpoint exactly which stimulus is troubling your pet.

Most importantly, practice positive reinforcement with your dog. Do not scold or punish her for her displays of anxiety, but remember that her behavior is not about disobedience, but about high levels of fear. And that old saw about not comforting your dog because it “reinforces” the fear? Not true at all. Do anything you can to help your dog feel better; teaching her new, pleasant associations is the best way to reduce fearful behavior.

We hope these tips help you and your dog weather the season’s storms.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

How to Socialize a Dog


Veterinarians can tell if a dog has been socialized the moment they walk into an exam room. Some come in excited while others hide behind their owner and don’t want to come out. Socialization helps make the difference. Here are 3 ways to socialize your dog.

Start at a few weeks of age

Puppies need to be socialized before they are 16 weeks old. Owners tend to isolate their puppies at that time and expect that at a year, they’ll get them used to cars and different environments.

The ideal time for this kind of puppy training is between 3 and 12 weeks of age. The window of opportunity to socialize your dog usually closes around 18 weeks. Even if you adopt an adult dog, they can get used to individuals they see on a regular basis.

Set goals

Think about who and what a puppy will be around when it gets older and make a long list the things your pet needs to be socialized to.

That means children, adults, men, women, crying babies, people of different nationalities, crowds, people wearing hats, and people not wearing hats. The wider the variety of people you can expose your puppy to, the better.

Include different environments

Have your puppy walk on grass, concrete, through buildings like pet stores, on busy streets, quiet streets, areas with other animals — and near cars, trucks, buses, and trains.

You can even take your dog for rides in the car through different areas of town, through fast-food drive-thrus, and through car washes. This is also the time to get your dog used to be handled during grooming.


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

Why Do Dogs Smell Butts?

 Why Do Dogs Smell Other Dogs' Butts? The Real Answer!

Why Dogs Smell Other Dog Butts

You know the scene: you’re out with your dog when you come across another friendly canine. There’s the initial sniff, and a circle around. Now, another moment and another sniff, right on the rear end. Then it’s time for another loop around and yet another butt sniff. Why do dogs do this?

As a pet owner, the natural thing is to want to pull your dog away from the other dog when they are performing this ritual. After all, it is a little embarrassing when your dog starts smelling the butt of a friend or neighbor’s dog while you are having a conversation.

It seems pretty weird, especially considering how humans communicate, but it’s actually an important part of canine behavior. Here’s why.

Butt sniffing is a very natural, instinctual, and basic form of dog-to-dog communication. Strangely enough, it is how dogs greet and get to know each other. Even dogs that know each other will sniff butts to “see what’s new” and reinforce their bond and communication.

The dog butt sniff is the canine equivalent of “hello, how do you do?” and similar to how humans use a handshake when meeting and being introduced to someone. Dogs communicate with each other using their strong sense of smell and detect signals in the chemicals in smelly oil from the anal glands.

What a Dog Sniff Can Reveal About Another Dog

To understand what a sniff can tell a dog, it is important to understand how dogs are different. There are four main differences in the ways that dogs communicate in comparison with human communication.

  1. The first difference between dogs and humans is a dog’s amazing sense of smell. They are reported to have approximately 40 times more smell-sensing cells in their nasal passages than we do (and some reports suggest an ability as much as 1,000 to 100,000 times greater than that of humans). With such a super ability to smell, dogs rely on this sensory information far more than humans. Some experts believe it consumes over 30% of a dog’s brain function as opposed to about 5% in humans. It’s so strong that a dog entering a room can perceive if another dog previously in the room was happy, stressed, scared, or in heat. Although it is difficult for humans to completely understand exactly how this works, the “sniff” can somehow also tell the dogs if the encounter is likely to be friendly or not friendly.
  2. Dogs have prominent and active anal glands. These apocrine glands, which sit on each side of a dog’s rectum, produce strong-smelling secretions intended to send chemical signals about that dog’s identity to other animals. These signals include information like the sex of the dog, what the dog is eating, and even some clues about a dog’s emotional state.
  3. The third difference of note is the presence of the Jacobson’s organ (also known as the vomeronasal organ). This is a small piece of olfactory nerve tissue filled with extrasensory receptors that perceives odors transmitted through the air. Also present in many animals including cats, snakes, and even elephants, it transmits information to the brain from its position just inside the nose and mouth. You might notice a dog is activating their Jacobson’s organ when they make a funny face called the “Flehman response.” Dogs will often tilt their nose up and curl their lip to optimize their ability to “smell” in this way.
  4. The last big difference is that unlike humans, dogs will reintroduce themselves frequently, sometimes several times in a day or even an hour. Any change or stimulus will often lead to the butt sniff. Some believe the “sniff” can actually relieve tension and stress by helping an individual feel more comfortable about the other dog. Two dogs living in the same house may smell each other when one comes in from the outside or comes back from the vet to confirm information about the dog’s state including diet, stress, availability for mating, and mood.

What You Should Do During Dog to Dog Butt Sniffing

Behaviorists suggest that because the butt sniffing routine is a normal part of dog behavior, it’s best not to interrupt it if the dogs seem friendly. Interrupting this behavior is equivalent to you stopping a friend from shaking hands with someone they are meeting: it can annoy or upset the friend and can make the introduction awkward. In fact, lack of this butt sniffing communication between dogs can create stress between the dogs.

With that being said, some dogs are more aggressive “sniffers” than other dogs and not every dog that meets will actually like each other. If the sniffing gets intense and you notice any other signs of aggression, then it is appropriate to pull your dog away from the other.

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

Why Dogs Wag Their Tails?

Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails?

An old joke about wagging tails goes like this: A young boy is afraid to pet a dog. An adult says, “He’s friendly – look, he’s even wagging his tail.” The boy responds, “Yeah, but he’s barking and growling – I don’t know which end to believe!”

This poor excuse for a joke contains a lot of truth, because a wagging tail does not necessarily mean a dog is friendly. So, if a wagging tail does not always indicate friendliness, what does it mean?

A dog’s tail position and motion is incorporated as a component of a complex system of body language that domestic dogs use, along with “verbal” cues such as barking, growling or whining, in order to communicate. A wagging tail indicates excitement or agitation. But whether the dog means it as an invitation to play, or to warn another dog or person to stay back, depends on other body language.

A slowly wagging tail that curves down and back up into a “U” usually indicates a relaxed, playful dog. If his ears are erect and pointing forward, and he is in the classic “play bow” position, he’s inviting you to play.

A tail that is held higher, whether wagging or not, indicates dominance and/or increased interest in something. If the end of the tail arches over the back, and is twitching, you may be faced with an aggressive dog.

Tail position and movement is simply used as a social indicator for other living things. Dogs generally don’t wag their tails when they are alone. For example, if you pour your dog a bowl of food, he may wag his tail excitedly at the prospect of eating. But if he finds the bowl already filled – without anyone being around – he will usually not wag his tail. He may still be happy to eat, but there’s no one around with whom to communicate his happiness.


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 Playing in Dog Parks

 Dogs Play at the Park

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

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

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

Canine Play Groups Good for Pets

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

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

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

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

Dog Park Etiquette

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


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


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

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

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

Keys to Understanding Canine Body Language

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

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

Signals Dogs Use to Communicate

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

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

Dog Posture Speaks Volumes – What Your Dog is Saying

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

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

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

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

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Dog Behavior Problems

Guide to Dog Behavior Problems

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

Common Dog Behavior Problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

How to Protect Yourself From Dog Bites

How Common Are Dog Bites to People?

It sounds hard to believe, but dog bites comprise the second most common childhood injury requiring emergency-room care. This is because 60 percent of the 4.7 million people bitten each year are children, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In fact, about half of all children 12 and under have been bitten. This places dog bites ahead of playground accidents, which rank third according to the American Medical Association. (The most common cause of emergency room visits is injury occurring during baseball or softball games).

Other categories of people who are frequently attacked include elderly folk and delivery people, such as mail carriers. The image of a dog chasing the mailman is not a just a stereotype. Most attacks occur at the dog’s home or in a familiar place. The attacking dog usually belongs to the family or a friend of the family.

The increasing number of dog bites has led the CDC to label dog bites as “epidemic” (dog bites are addressed toward 2 percent of the U.S. population annually) Fortunately, most bites are not fatal. About 10 to 20 people die each year as a result of dog bites.

Why Do Dogs Bite?

There are many reasons why a dog may bite: fear, to protect territory, or to establish their dominance over the person being bitten. Some dog owners mistakenly teach their dogs that biting is an acceptable form of play behavior. Sadly, every year a number of newborn infants die because dogs seem to regard them as “prey.” Because dog bites occur for several different reasons, various aspects of responsible dog ownership – including proper socialization, supervision, humane training, neutering, and safe confinement – are necessary to prevent dogs from biting. To learn more about aggressive dogs, see Aggressive Dogs and Society.

If you’re bitten, it is very important to identify the dog that bites you. If you don’t know anything about the dog, you may have to be treated for rabies as a precaution. Also, you will want some action taken to prevent future attacks. Whether your doctor recommends rabies vaccination for you after you have been bitten will depend on how prevalent rabies is in your area (i.e. the circumstances).

Tips on How to Avoid Dog Bites

  • Never approach a strange dog, especially one who’s tied or confined behind a fence or in a car.
  • Don’t pet a dog without letting him see and sniff you first.
  • Never turn your back on a dog and run away. A dog’s natural instinct in this situation is to chase and catch you.
  • Don’t disturb a dog while it’s sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies.
  • Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog sees you as an intruder or potential threat.
  • If a dog approaches to sniff you – remain still. In most cases, the dog will go away when it determines that you’re not a threat.
  • If you encounter a potentially aggressive dog, never scream and run.
  • Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog. Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
  • Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your own pet with respect. Because children are the most frequent victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:1. Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.2. Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations.3. Teach young children, including toddlers, to be careful around pets.4. Teach children not to approach strange dogs and to ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting it.

What to Do if Attacked By a Dog

  • If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and it.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Do not scream or roll around. The face is the most common area for attack, particularly the lips, nose, and cheeks.
  • Some people, such as mail carriers, carry protective devices, such as pepper spray, to ward off attacks. One deterrent product that does not physically harm the dog is called the “Dazer.” It produces ultrasound that can ward off a dog within a 20 foot radius.

Why It’s Best to Remain Still During an Dog Attack?

Dogs attack for one of three basic reasons:

  • Dominance and territoriality – the will to control and protect resources
  • Through fear – for reasons of self-protection
  • Fear predatory reasons – when the so-called “prey drive” is activatedDominance aggression is usually directed toward the face or hands of a person when their face looms too close or their hands somehow threaten or interfere with the dog or its possessions. Standing motionless and looking away will often defuse this type of aggression.Fear aggression often takes the form of a “cheap shot” directed toward a person’s calf or thigh as they turn to exit the scene. Standing still can deactivate this type of aggression by halting the perceived challenge while simultaneously holding one’s ground.Predatory aggression is stimulated by motion and commotion, running away and by yelling. It is best to stand still and be quiet to defuse such attacks.In summary, if a dog is making an aggressive advance – stop running, remain motionless and silent, do not look into the dog’s eyes, and keep your hands to yourself. Or, in an extreme situation, drop to the ground, curl in a ball, and protect the nape of your neck with your hands.

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