Thursday, October 28, 2010

When Your Dog Barks

    Dogs bark for many different reasons.  They can communicate with you through their vocalization.  Your dog can show surprise, yelp in pain, whine, and sometimes even sound like they are saying words. They can bark at intruders, alert you to dangerous medical problems, call for help (remember Lassie?), and yes, they can bark for hours on end at nothing at all.  How, then, do we eliminate the "problem barking?"

1)  Reward the behavior that you want to keep (the quiet times).
     If your dog starts barking in frenzy when you come home from work, and you greet him with hugs and pats, you have just encouraged him to bark more every time you come home.  By giving him love and attention immediately after he barks, he learns that barking gets attention.
    Instead of rewarding the barking, reward the quiet times.  Ignore your dog's barks when you come inside.  Change clothes, sit down, read the paper.  When he is sitting quietly by your feet, give him one small treat (as small as a single piece of dry dog kibble).
   When you exit your home, and your dog is staying home alone, do not make a big deal out of your leaving.  Get ready for work, sit down, read the paper.  Leave when your dog is quiet and not paying attention.  Do not say goodbye or call any attention to the fact that you are leaving.  Staying home alone is not a big deal.  Don't make it into a big deal by calling attention to it.

2)  Extinguish the behavior you want to eliminate.  Decide in advance what you will do when you hear the inappropriate barking. Choose an unpleasant consequence that you deliver immediately upon hearing your dog bark.
a.  Go to your dog instead of calling him to you.
b.  Deliver a stern "NO" in a tone of voice that commands attention.
c.  Follow this with either a two-finger tap on the nose OR a quick spray in his face with a water bottle.
    The idea here is NOT to hurt the dog, but rather to give an unpleasant sensation to teach the meaning of "NO."
d.  Immediately leave the dog's presence.  Do not play with him or give any attention to him.

3)  Let all the people in your dog's life know the new system.  Everyone must be consistent in their training and treatment of your dog if you are to eliminate the unwanted behavior.

What have you tried?  What works for your pet dog who barks too much?  Leave a comment below.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Protect your Pet from Halloween Candy!

Why is chocolate bad for dogs? 

Chocolate can contain methylxanthine, which is a caffeine-like stimulant. If eaten in large amounts, chocolate may cause dogs to vomit and have diarrhea,  pant, have greater thirst and urination, be hyperactive, have abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even die in severe cases.

The darker the chocolate, the higher chance of problems from methylxanthine poisoning. Baking chocolate contains the highest and white chocolate, the lowest, level of methylxanthine. As few as 20 ounces of milk chocolate (about 13 Hershey's chocolate candy bars)—or only two ounces of baking chocolate—can cause problems in a ten pound dog.

Be sure your Halloween treats are kept up high, out of reach of pets.  You may want to keep your pet confined in a back room on this night of trick or treating.  Children in costumes may be scared of your dog and your dog may be scared of them!

Dogs Love Pumpkin!

  It's October and what could be better for your dog than a little pumpkin? Dogs like to eat it and it's good for them! Pumpkin is full of beta-carotene, which aids in cancer prevention, reduces inflammation, and converts to Vitamin A in the body. Dogs need fiber, too! Pumpkin is high in fiber, good for digestive health. Use a  small amount of canned or fresh pumpkin puree for dogs with upset stomachs or motion sickness.  Be sure it is plain canned pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix, which is full of sugar and spices.