Preventing Joint Problems In Dogs

senior dog with ball

If you’ve ever owned a large breed dog, you’re probably familiar with how common it is for large dogs to develop joint problems. Many of us don’t realize when our dog has joint problems until it has progressed to the point of them needing medication. So we’ve put together some helpful tips to preventing joint problems so that hopefully your dog won’t have trouble getting around when he gets older!

 

 

Ensure Minor Injuries Get Proper Rest

If puppies have a big fall, tumble down some stairs, etc., they need the proper time to fully heal. Ideally the fall should try to be avoided completely, but puppies will be puppies! After the injury, make sure to limit your pup’s activity until the injury is fully healed. For minor injuries that don’t require a vet visit, you can still call your vet and describe the situation so he can give you a general time to keep the pup on a lower activity level. Injuries that don’t get proper time to heal will often leave the joints weakened and can mean joint issues later on in life for your pooch.

 

Keep Your Dog Active!

Dogs that are carrying extra weight are putting more pressure on their joints when they walk around. This speeds up the deterioration of joint cartilage which can’t be reversed. Keeping your dog slim by giving him regular walks, not too many treats and a wholesome diet will help keep him moving around easily and not put additional pressure on his joints.

 

Early Detection

One of the best ways to ensure that your dog is comfortable moving around and not in any pain is to know the warning signs of early arthritis and sore/weak joints. Taking notice of things like, stiffness when standing up if lying down for a while, limping when walking or after a certain amount of walking, whining or whimpering when doing certain movements. These could all possibly be signs of early joint deterioration. If you start to notice any of these signs, be sure to speak with your vet on how to make your dog more comfortable and if he/she recommends any dietary supplements to help reduce inflammation in the joints.

 

Although arthritis and other joint problems cannot be reversed, and can be hard to avoid, they can definitely be slowed down. With help from you and looking out for any warning signs of joint pain, your dog can live a long happy life!

Becoming a Service Dog

Service-Dog

You may have noticed at a mall, restaurant, or just about any public place, a service dog helping his owner in whatever way he can. Service dogs are more than just lovable companions, many people’s lives depend on their service dogs for emergencies, a sense of relief, getting around, and much more! If you think you’re dog has a good temperament and is eager to please, you may be considering training your dog to become a service animal. Today we will be looking at the process of training a dog to become a service animal and the many things that service animals can do!

 

It’s truly remarkable the amount of ways a service dog can help us. Depending on what they are trained in, service dogs can help detect chemical changes within our bodies that could lead to a possible seizure, or change in blood sugar for people who are diabetic. The service dog we all usually think of is one that helps someone who is blind or partly blind. There are also dogs who help people with impaired hearing, autism, anxiety, even allergies! There are so many people who depend on service dogs to help them get through their day to day lives.

 

The most traditional breeds to become service dogs are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Poodles. These breeds commonly have an even temperament, are very intelligent and very trainable (meaning they catch on quick to new concepts and are eager to please their handler). But the service dog industry is not limited at all to these breeds, any dog can become a service dog, it really just depends on the individual dog if they have the right temperament.

 

The first step in a dog becoming a service dog is to look at their health. Are they overall in good health? Do they have any major problems that would make it hard for them to work all day? All service dogs must be neutered or spayed before starting the process of training. The biggest reason for this is you don’t want the dog to be distracted while on the job. If you have an intact male service dog pass by a female dog in heat, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for that service dog to think about anything other than that pretty female dog that just walked by.

 

The next step is to find a reputable service dog trainer. You want a trainer that specifically focuses on service dogs as they will know the specifics of what the dog will need to know, and it’s likely that they’ve trained dogs on these exacts tasks many times before. The dog trainer can help you assess your dog’s personality to ensure that they will be a successful service dog. The trainer will help guide you through the entire process of having the dog be calm and relaxed in all types of public places such as the bus, subway, busy malls, as many places as possible to ensure the future handler needing the service dog will not be limited on where he can go. International standard for training a service dog mandates a minimum of 120 hours of training over a 6-month (or more) time period. At least 30 of these hours should be done in busy, public places.

 

The trainer will often break down the dogs training into three parts. The first is ‘heeling’, possibly the hardest thing to teach a dog. The dog must learn to stay alongside his owner without constant commands (not repeating ‘heel’ over and over again!) and the dog must learn to move with his owner no matter how unpredictable his movements are. The dog should be constantly watching and anticipating his owner’s movements. The next part is often called ‘proofing’. This is basically teaching the dog to stay calm in all situations no matter the location, noise level, distractions, etc. Even at a busy concert, the dog has to remain calm and more importantly, remain alert for any commands from his owner. The last part is called ‘tasking’. This is ensuring the dog is 100% on the specific tasks he will have to perform for his owner. Service dog tasks will vary depending on what their owner needs. For instance, someone who is blind doesn’t need their service dog to alert them to noises or alarms, but this would be something very important to someone who is deaf.

 

It’s remarkable the many ways dogs help to improve our lives. Even our companion dogs that don’t work as service animals, make our lives more interesting, help to calm us down, and just make us happy!

Breed of the Week: Otterhound

otterhound

The big, friendly Otterhound is our featured breed this week! This large and very hairy dog loves to spend every minute of the day outdoors getting dirty and rolling in the mud. He’s a rugged and rambunctious dog that loves to play!

 

The Otterhound originated in England in the 1300’s. The breed was created to hunt otters (to stop the otters from taking all of the fish). A specialized breed was needed to hunt the otters as the dog needed good scent-tracking abilities, able to fight the otter (weighing upwards of 20lbs), and able to withstand the freezing waters that the otters were in. With the Otterhound being a very old breed, there is a lot of debate over their early history, particularly with the size and look of the original Otterhound. Some experts believe the Otterhound was simply a term used to describe any fierce scent-tracking dog able to hunt otters. Others believe the Otterhound was originally a terrier type breed rather than hound. Today, the Otterhound is considered a ‘Vulnerable Native Breed’ by the AKC (American Kennel Club). There are approximately 600 Otterhounds remaining in the world!

 

This breed was built to be outdoors! They do best in homes with lots of space to run around, making them great farm dogs! This friendly breed gets along great with other dogs, but is better with big dogs as the Otterhound may be inclined to chase small pooches due to their high prey drive. Otterhounds generally are born with a very easy-going and sweet personality, which is good as this breed is notoriously stubborn and often slow to train. They get along best with owners who have the mindset of ‘Dogs will be dogs!’. As long as this dog gets lots and lots of exercise, they rarely have anxiety or major behavioural issues. But one quirk this breed often has (especially if bored or lots of pent up energy) is baying. They have that distinctive hound ‘bay’ instead of a bark, and man are they ever loud!

 

Do you love brushing and bathing dogs in your free time? If you do, the Otterhound is perfect for you! This large dog has a lot of hair and needs frequent hair trimming, brushing and bathing. The Otterhound’s goal every day is to get as dirty as possible, so you will definitely need to be prepared for daily upkeep of their coat.

 

The Otterhound is suitable for very active and outdoorsy families or individuals. They are not recommended for homes with small children as young Otterhounds can be quite rambunctious and knock kids over. They need a very patient and consistent owner who is willing to take the time to train them and give them enough mental and physical stimulation (they were bred to be high-energy working dogs). This dog is definitely not suitable for small apartments or living in a busy city. They thrive on the outdoors and being too cramped will give you an unhappy Otterhound! If you’ve got lots of space, patience, and don’t mind a bit of a dirty house, the Otterhound could be your loving and playful companion!

Dogs and Thunderstorm Anxiety

dog watching storm

If you’ve owned several dogs in your lifetime, chances are you’ve seen firsthand dog anxiety during a thunderstorm. It is very common for dogs to experience nervousness with the big noisy thunder and flashes of lightning, it can be scary! But just because it’s fairly common, doesn’t mean your pup has to be scared of thunderstorms anymore!

 

If your pooch suffers from anxiety during thunderstorms, it’s important to first look at any other issues or anxiety your pup may have. Often times, a small issue like anxiety during thunderstorms, is linked to a much bigger issue. Does your dog get enough exercise during the day? Does he have enough mental stimulation? Do you practise bonding exercises with him? Does he show anxiety during any other times? Does he suffer from separation anxiety? These are just some examples of questions you will need to ask yourself before addressing your dog’s anxiety. If we aren’t asking these questions and only seek out to solve this one problem, your dog may still have issues in other areas in his life that could be linked to the thunderstorm nervousness; and it will be much harder to calm him down during thunderstorms if these other issues aren’t addressed.

 

The cause of anxiety can be drastically different in every dog. Maybe your dog hasn’t had enough mental stimulation and so he is all ‘pent up’ when the thunderstorm starts, resulting in shaking, barking, hiding, etc. If you are having trouble identifying the underlying cause of your dog’s behaviour, look up a dog behaviourist for advice.

 

The signs of anxiety in your dog during a thunderstorm can vary, but commonly panting, barking, whining, hiding, drooling, and/or dilated pupils.

 

With most behavioural issues in dogs, the answer is often ‘desensitization’. Meaning the dog is slowly introduced in a positive manner to the thing, place or person that they have an undesirable reaction to. With lots of time and patience, the dog learns to be calm in the presence of the previously reactive item.

 

Unfortunately, storms are a special case as it is difficult to truly mimic a thunderstorm in the sense of a dog. Not only are they picking up on the thunder and lighting, they also hear the changes in the wind and changes in the barometric pressure (this is why dogs can often sense when a storm is coming). So it is even more important when it comes to thunderstorm anxiety, to investigate if your dog is fulfilled in other areas of his life (such as physical and mental stimulation, training, bonding with dogs and humans, etc.) With these other areas of his life fulfilled, you will see a dramatic difference in your dog during the storm.

 

What else can you do to help your dog during the storm? With all of your dogs needs being met, he may still show a few signs of anxiety during the storm. Some quick fixes for this are the ‘thundershirt’, a clothing item for your dog to wear that has antic-static lining and fits snugly on your dog to mimic the feeling of being swaddled. Make sure during the storm that everyone in the house stays calm, don’t over react or anticipate your dog to freak out as he will feed off that and often freak out more. If your dog has extreme anxiety and you’ve consulted a dog behaviourist, you may want to speak with your vet about homeopathic remedies to help calm down your dog. But remember, any quick fixes will not solve any underlying problems or truly help your dog to learn to calm himself down without your help. Your dog depends on you to not only protect him, but also to teach and guide him how to calm down without depending on or waiting for you to be there.

 

Making New Doggy Friends

dog friends

Are you looking for a new best friend for your pup? Has he been looking a little bored or lonely lately? Well, if you aren’t looking to add another dog to your family, a great solution is to find new playmates for your pup! We’ve put together our favourite tips on making new doggy friends.

 

Neutral Territory

One of the great things about going to the dog park, is that very rarely will you find dog’s being protective of the dog park itself. When you bring another dog into your home, your dog may feel he needs to protect the home and instead of trying to be friends, he may worry that his home is being threatened by this visitor. Having dogs meet on ‘neutral ground’ takes away those feelings of having to protect or guard the area and makes it much easier for dogs to play together and bond.

 

Similar Minds

When looking for a new best friend for Spot, you may find that your dog often gravitates to playing with certain breeds or certain sizes of dogs. This is not to say that opposites don’t sometimes attract in the dog world; but your border collie may not be having fun playing chase with a pug if the pug can’t keep up! Often times this is most true with highly active breeds such as border collies or dalmatians. They enjoy chasing and being chased….and going really really fast! So if their doggy buddy can’t keep up, you may need to look around for other high energy play times to really tire your dog out and help him get the most out of playtime.

 

Positivity

It can be very beneficial to use positive association when trying to help your dog bond with a new friend. Giving affection or praise after your dog had a long play session with his new buddy, will really enforce the thought of ‘I had a lot of fun today with that new dog and my owner was happy with me! Good things happen when I play with that dog!???. Be careful though to not create any jealousy between the dogs. If they are in the middle of interacting with each other, it may not be the best time to offer a treat as this could cause jealousy in the other dog and he may react aggressively, creating a negative experience. If you are unsure about creating positive associations for your dog, it is best to consult a certified dog behaviourist for advice.

 

With these helpful tips your pooch is sure to become a social butterfly!