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It is July and we are well into summer. There are a lot of things going on in our lives this month. First and foremost is the summer heat. We always have to be aware of shelter and safety for our best friend. Whether your dog is an indoor pet or an outdoor pet you need to make sure he is protected from the summer heat. We all know we should not leave our dogs in cars on hot days. The reason for that is that a car can become very hot in a very short period of time (10 minutes your care can reach 102 degrees or more).

Anytime the temperatures are reaching into the 80 and 90 degree marks we have to think about how hot our dog gets when he is left outside. You need to make sure your dog has plenty of water. It is very inexpensive and easy to set up a small play pool for your dog. Dru loves her pool, she splashed and swims in circles on hot days and then she gets out and rubs herself dry on the grass and lays in the sun. Another reason I like having the play pool is because the other three dogs can drink out of it and there is little chance that the pool will get dumped over like a regular water dish can. You do want to be sure you keep the water fresh in the pool.

Your dog needs nice cool areas to rest in on hot days. My dogs have access to the kitchen through their doggy door so they can come inside in the air conditioning during the heat of the day. If you have a dog that has to remain outside in the heat you need to make sure he has a nice large area or several smaller shaded areas in your yard where he can get out of the heat. He also need access to a safe covered area in the shade to get out of rain and hail this time of year. But be aware that a plastic or wooden dog house can get very hot without ventilation of some sort.

Do you know the signs of overheating in your pet? Your dog will have an increased heart and respiratory rate, he may be panting excessively and drooling. He will act fatigued, his gums may be dry or pale. His eyes may glaze over and he may seem confused. If you see any of these symptoms, he needs to get into an air conditioned area and call your vet.

If you have a dog that has a very heavy thick coat, you may want to get him sheared a bit, but do not shave your dog without talking to your vet. A dogs coat protects them from the sun and bug bites. While some breads need to have shorter hair in the heat, others need the insulation it provides.

Make sure you protect your dog’s feet from hot asphalt and cement. Hot pavement can burn your dog’s paws and can cause them to overheat very quickly. There are products you can get that help to protect paws. Moisturizers, dog shoes or socks, and paw wax. The safest thing is to keep your dog off of hot pavement. Along with tending to your dog’s paws, you need to also think about his nose. Pink nosed and thin coated white dogs sunburn easily.

Last, but not least: Never leave your dog outside unattended when fireworks are being set off. More dogs escape and go missing during the 4th of July holiday than any other time of the year. Dogs can be very frightened of the loud noise of fireworks. Make sure your dog is inside in a safe and secure area during loud celebrations. Allow them to hide somewhere or have them in a safe, covered crate or kennel.

Take care of your BEST FRIEND and the unconditional love and respect you receive is the best experience you can have in your life.

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Safety and Dangers

In many ways, our dogs are like perpetual children. Many of them never mature, and unfortunately, they never learn to avoid certain dangers.  Therefore, it is our job to protect them. I don’t want to scare anyone unnecessarily, but you always need to be aware of possible threats to your dog’s well-being.

Many dogs eat things that could be very harmful. Some will eat nearly anything (rocks, pantyhose, electrical cords, safety pins, etc.), some breeds seem more prone to the desire to eat non-food items, a condition known as Pica. In particular, retrievers can make a snack of anything they can manage to swallow. This may have to do with the fact that they’ve been bred to use their mouths extensively in their work. If you have a dog who is prone to Pica, you will learn to become very neat and tidy.

Many dogs die from ingesting poisons. Anti-freeze seems to be particularly attractive to dogs. It has a sweet taste, but just a small amount can kill a dog in a very short period of time. The same is true of many pesticides. Even lawn chemicals can do damage over time. If you use lawn chemicals, make sure you keep your dog off the lawn for at least twenty-four, preferable forty-eight hours. The chemicals from lawn treatments stick to the dog’s paws and then the dog licks them. Always wash off your dog’s paws after is has been on a treated lawn. Human medications, such as Tylenol and Advil, can be deadly for dogs, even in small doses. If you ever suspect that your dog has eaten human medications, or anything toxic, call the veterinarian immediately. Every dog owner should go to the ASPCA website and look at all the things we use and eat on a daily basis, and all the things that your dogs can come in contact with that are Toxic.

“Leave it” and “Trade it:”
A very useful exercise that may help you control what your dog puts in her mouth is the “leave it” cue. You teach the dog that “leave it” means to move away from the object she is approaching. You begin teaching this cue by showing the dog a piece of food. As the dog starts to take the food say, “Leave it” (in a pleasant tone) and wait for the dog to stop trying to get the treat and looks up at you. Say, “Yes!” when the dog looks up at you or looks away from the treat and give him the treat. The idea is to offer your dog something better than the object you’ve asked your dog to leave alone. Once your dog knows what “leave it” means, you can use it for anything you don’t want her to touch. Trade it is a similar command. I use, “trade it” when the dog already has an object in his mouth I want him to give up. I wave a tasty treat under the dog’s nose as I ask, “trade?’ Usually the dog will drop the object to take the treat. You can then give your dog the treat and move the dropped object away.

Continue reading Safety and Dangers

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How Dog’s Learn

This month let’s talk about how dogs learn.

To be successful in your training efforts, you need to understand a bit about how dogs learn. First of all, dogs are not machines. You can’t just flip a switch and expect the dog to do what you want. Dogs are very individual in their responses to training. Some dogs learn very quickly, even with poor instruction. Others require lots of patience and repetition in order to understand basic ideas. Just like people, some of you pick up on instructions and ideas very quickly; while others will need more time in order to understand the information.

I caution you very strongly against comparing the progress that you and your dog make against the progress of other dogs you may know. There are always teams that make phenomenal progress. Then there are those who come along a little slower at first. Certain breeds are known for being easier to train than others. However, any individual dog within that breed may not conform to that expectation. So be wary when someone makes a generalization such as, “Everyone knows Goldens practically train themselves,” or, “It’s absolutely impossible to obedience train a Scottish terrier.” All dogs have the capacity to learn and to become excellent companions.

Don’t expect your dog to learn in an organized, orderly fashion. Just when you think she understands something one day, she’ll give you a completely blank look when you ask for the behavior the next day. For another exercise, you may really struggle and be ready to give up when suddenly your dog “gets it.” Learning occurs in fits and starts, not in a straight line.

Above all, PATIENCE, PRACTICE and CONSISTENT EFFORT will go a long way towards achieving your training goals.

Finally, never, ever say, “This dog is stupid.” I have yet to run into a moronic canine. More likely, your training skills aren’t well developed. You may be making mistakes and blaming the dog. As you learn to become a better trainer, your dog will become better behaved.

Remember, training should be a fun time for your dog. Getting frustrated with your dog only upsets you and your dog. Several short training sessions a day works much better than 30 minutes to an hour of trying to keep your dogs attention on repetitive commands. Keep your sessions to 10-15 minutes max.

Don’t yell at your dog. Louder is not better. Repeating the command a hundred times does not work. The dog needs to be shown what you want him to do and then immediately rewarded for that behavior.