- Quality and Quantity of Life
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- Inflammation: The Condition You Can’t See
With the holiday season approaching, the months of feasting are upon us! Everything in moderation, right? Right?? There are problems stemming from obesity that involve almost every system in the body. Even without signs you can see, obese pets have higher anesthesia risks, medical costs, and require special care in selecting the correct dose for medications. Excess weight is easier to prevent than treat, so keeping a lifelong healthy weight will help keeps pets healthier and happier. Being overweight has been linked with many conditions that can affect a pet's health including…
You've gone and done it - you've brought a new puppy into your home. Now what? Often, owners tend to have unrealistic expectations for puppies, both in terms of the time it takes to train them and how much supervision is required. Too often, new pet owners forget about proper training until after the excitement of a new pooch has worn off. The worst thing you can for you pup is to wait on training.
No matter how soon you begin training and socializing, you'll undoubtedly face some, if not all, of these questions at some point: How can something so small make so much noise? How can something so young cry so bitterly, when all you want to do is love and care for him? Why won’t he eat the food the breeder said the litter has been raised on? And given that he won’t eat, how does he manage to produce what seems to be his own weight in poo and pee every hour or so, and after you had just taken him out, too?
Why does he flop and scream when you put the leash on him, as if you were trying to murder him? How can you stop him from chewing through your possessions like a giant termite? Where is the rest of the family, who were going to help look after him? Will no one save you from this turbulent beast? And now he’s just bitten you on the hand.
Good news, puppy owners! Veterinary behavior specialist, Dr. Meghan Herron from Ohio State University’s Veterinary Medical Center, has answers! Dr. Herron wrote the following, “Behavior Guide for Your New Puppy."
Behavior Guide for Your New Puppy
Congratulations on your new puppy! We hope you are enjoying the recent addition to your family. Believe it or not, behavior problems are the number one reason owners give their dogs to animal shelters. Fortunately, most behavior problems can be prevented through proper training and socialization as a puppy. This guide is a brief overview of puppy behavior basics. For a more in-depth understanding of dog behavior, we recommend the readings on the list at the bottom of the page.
Proper handling of puppies during their critical socialization period is essential to the prevention of behavior problems. The critical socialization period in puppies begins at age 3 weeks and continues through age 12-16 weeks, (about 4 months) depending on the breed. Appropriate socialization involves exposing your puppy to a variety of novel people, animals, places, and situations. Early socialization allows for healthy social behavior development, and can help prevent acts of aggression based on fear of other dogs, people, or new environments. Veterinary Behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar recommends 100 people meet and have positive interactions with your puppy before he is 16 weeks old. Sounds like a great excuse for a few parties! An easy and effective means of socializing your pup is to enroll him in a puppy socialization class. This special class provides a means for puppies to form social relationships with other animals and people in a safe, controlled environment. Recent studies show puppies that participated in puppy socialization classes were more likely to be retained in their homes than puppies that did not. Ask your veterinarian about puppy class options near you. The effects of improper puppy socialization can be devastating, leading to fear-based aggression towards people and/or other dogs, plus extreme shyness and anxiety.
Basic Potty Training
As house soiling is one of the top complaints of pet owners, it is important to implement a potty training protocol as soon as your new puppy arrives. The rule of thumb for puppies is that they can “hold it” for no longer than one hour per each month of age, up to about 10 hours maximum. Here are three basic rules for you potty training regimen:
Remember, BE CONSISTENT and never leave your pup loose and unattended in the house during the training period. Mistakes happen – minimizing their occurrence is the key. Should your pup make a mistake, DO NOT punish her. After the fact, she does not associate your punishment with her inappropriate elimination. The “guilty” look she may display after urinating in the house is really just a scared look as she can read your anger and anticipate that something bad is going to happen. In some cases when dogs are punished for eliminating in the house in front of the owner, they will learn to eliminate in an area out of the owner’s view (i.e. in the basement or behind the couch).
In this case the puppy associates: “pee in front of my owner = bad things happen” and it can be an even bigger challenge to get them to go outside. Strive for: “pee outside = good things happen!"
Crate training is beneficial to a puppy’s life in that it provides a safe means to prevent inappropriate elimination in the house, a place where the puppy can go to escape excessive handling by small children, and a way to prevent destructive and potentially dangerous behaviors in the house when you are away. Additionally, the crate can be used to teach independence by preparing the puppy to be calm when left alone. This independence is essential in the prevention of separation anxiety.
Pheromones Provide Comfort
A pheromone diffuser called "Adaptil," is available in a spray, a collar and a plug-in diffuser. Adaptil mimics the pheromones that a mother dog releases after she gives birth, which is very comforting to the puppy. Studies have shown that using pheromones the first night away from mom helps puppies calm down, because it can be very traumatic to be separated at first. This can be very helpful in the transition from mom and litter mates into the human household. The collar is body-heat activated; you can get it from a veterinarian or on Amazon.com. You cannot get it in a pet store; the ones in pet stores are imitations. The collar and plug-in each last a month. The best place to put the plug in would be near the crate, where you’re trying to create sort of a safe den area.
The Mouthy Pup
Mouthiness in puppies, however undesirable, is a normal, natural behavior. Puppies use their mouths to gather information about their environment. When a puppy’s mother raises her offspring to adulthood, she teaches them about biting. Since most of us acquire our pups without their mothers to keep them in line, it is our responsibility as puppy owners to teach them this important lesson – bite inhibition. Some use of the mouth for exploration is acceptable in puppies less than four months of age, however, biting that is excessive or the least bit painful should not be rewarded.
Here are some tips for discouraging inappropriate mouthiness:
A dog’s adolescence usually starts around six months of age and will continue until she 18 months to 2½ years of age, depending on the breed. This period of time is notably the most frustrating for pet owners. Lessons she has learned as a puppy begin to take lower priority as her adult dog interests develop. Adolescent dogs become less dependent on their owners for guidance as they begin to explore other dogs, scents, and environments. Additionally, energy levels, especially for larger breed dogs, are at a peak during this time, making exercise requirements much higher than they were during puppy hood. Some breeds, such as Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, and Cattle dogs, require more exercise than others. However, the rule of thumb for any breed is that the more energy a dog spends on exercise, the less energy she will spend on unruly behaviors. Furthermore, as dogs grow larger, many behaviors that may have been cute and loveable as a puppy, such as jumping up, sitting on you lap, liking faces etc., are no longer acceptable – especially for small children or guest that visit your house. Don’t expect your dog to realize this change on her own. Start young and reward her for sitting. Do not allow people to give her attention when she jumps up on them. Yelling or punishing her for jumping up may give her a negative association with you, your family members or guests, causing her to be anxious, fearful, and even aggressive.
All your hard work in socialization and teaching good manners can go to waste quite rapidly during this time period if you do not make an appropriate effort to maintain it. It is pertinent that you continue to expose you dog to other people and animals through her adolescence. Positive reinforcement obedience classes should begin just after age six months – before your dog has had a chance to develop and strengthen undesirable behaviors. Clicker training is a fun and effective method of teaching your dog both basic and advanced obedience skills. The use of a head collar can be a helpful aid in managing your overactive adolescent during training and even on walks. AVOID training classes that utilize choke chains, shock collars, pronged pinch collars or any other painful punishment. Scientific studies show that pain can create a negative association with you, induce fear, inhibit learning, and at times, cause aggression. Make sure the class you choose is a positive experience for both you and your dog!
We know it’s hard to ignore the lure of a warm and fuzzy puppy or kitten when you’ve made the decision to adopt a pet. What about the white muzzled dog or cat looking at you with desperately hopeful eyes, that might have had a loving home and because of illness, death, rental housing restrictions, or financial circumstances, the owners had to their surrender pet.
Relinquished senior pets are the most vulnerable animals in the shelter. Their former lives are lost and they feel it. Once used to a sunny window or a warm bed, they may huddle at the back of their cage, scared and confused, making them appear less adoptable. Sadly, these older animals are overlooked while adopters, not knowing the benefits of adopting an older pet, go to shelters or rescue organizations looking for puppies or kittens.
November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month and we encourage all potential adopters to consider an older pet! Some shelters even waive the adoption fees for senior pets.
Here are some reasons why you should bring a senior pet into your home:
1. Adopting a senior pet will save its life. When shelters become overcrowded, older animals are the first to be euthanized simply due to their age. Additionally, senior pets can become ill from the stress of being in a shelter and from the trauma of losing their home and family. They can suffer unbearable grief and sadness because the life they once had is gone.
2. They have experience being part of a family. Many shelter pets have already been well socialized with families and other pets before being relinquished. Senior cats are already litter trained, and senior dogs are often housebroken and know basic commands.This can allow them to fit right in with your family.
3. What you see is what you get. Senior pets are fully matured. You'll know it's size, grooming needs, temperament (e.g. - is the dog or cat good with other dogs or cats? Will they fare well with children?) They often have a story that can be woven into your family's fabric (maybe the dog loves water and you live near a lake or pond!).
4. Age is just a number. It is a myth that age means health problems; age is not a disease. Younger pets can have health problems that lead to large medical bills too. Plus, often age related conditions, such as arthritis, can be managed with proper veterinary care.
5. They can "chillax." Senior pets are typically less active. Perhaps you have kids leaving home or you’re a senior yourself who may have a less active lifestyle. While they still need exercise, seniors pets are usually happy with a nice walk or a warm lap to curl up in.
6. Lastly, everyone deserves a second chance.
Take advantage of this awesome month and adopt a loving senior pet from your local shelter! You might end up asking yourself, “Who saved who?”
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