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!

Breed of the Week: Borzoi

Russian borzoi, greyhound dog standing. Outdoor shoot
Russian borzoi, greyhound dog standing. Outdoor shoot

The last couple of weeks we’ve enjoyed looking at some rough and tumble working dogs that aren’t afraid of getting muddy! This week we’re switching things up and looking at one of the most graceful dog breeds around, the elegant and swift Borzoi!

 

The Borzoi breed was created by Russian aristocrats looking to have a hunting companion type dog who was extremely fast and brave enough to hunt large animals such as wolves. There are rumors that this breed dates as far back as the 13th century! Because of their remarkable hunting skills, the Borzoi was originally known as the Russian Wolfhound and the name was changed to Borzoi in 1936. And very suitable that they changed the name as Borzoi in Russian actually means ‘swift’!

 

This graceful breed is certainly a wonder to watch when they’re in full gallop! Their strides are as if they are floating along and their long locks just flow in the wind! Many Borzoi owners compare their dog to a cat as they are so light on their feet you often can’t hear them walking through the house! They are the epitome of the ‘gentle giant’. They stand at about 2’2???-2’8??? and weigh around 100 lbs when fully grown. They very rarely bark, making them not so great guard dogs. They can be a bit standoffish with strangers and should be very well socialized with strangers and young kids. The Borzoi is not always a good match for a home with small animals as they do have a very high prey drive and will chase anything that moves fast.

 

The Borzoi’s long hair should be combed through about twice a week to prevent mats and knotting. Due to their super silky hair, dirt just rolls off of them so you don’t have to worry about frequent baths. Depending on your personal preference, you can keep the Borzoi’s coat short, or keep up with regular hair trimming every couple of months. Be sure to speak with your groomer about the proper tools/products to use on your dog, as the Borzoi do have some special requirements (for example, it is recommended to never use a slicker type brush on this breed as it can damage their skin and coat).

 

The Borzoi can be a fantastic companion for an active family with lots of fully fenced backyard space. A happy Borzoi is one that is running in the wind! They need a gentle and patient leader for their training as they are very sensitive dogs. It’s a pleasure watching these wonderful dogs frolic and play, they will make a wonderful addition to any outdoorsy families!

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.

 

Breed of the Week: Berger Picard

berger picard

This week we are featuring a French dog breed, the Berger Picard. You may recognise this dog from the novel-based 2005 movie ‘Because of Winn Dixie’. While many people think the star of the movie was a mixed breed, it was in fact the lovable Berger Picard!

 

The Berger Picard is thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds belonging to the sheepdog group. The Picard breed was developed in 9th century France. They were bred for herding livestock and many in France are still used even today as herding dogs. Many Picard enthusiasts debate over the Berger Picards relation to other breeds. Some say they are closely linked to the Briard, while other say they the Belgian Shepherd. The breed almost became extinct during World War I and again during World War II. Although breeders fought very hard to keep this wonderful breed going, it is still considered to be a very rare dog breed today.

 

This wonderful dog breed got the starring role in ‘Because of Winn Dixie’ because of its scruffy mutt-like appearance. As with many movies that have animal actors, the director needed several dogs to perform so that when one dog needs a break they can bring in another doggy actor to take over. So to stay true to the novel of having a mutt-looking dog, but also keep consistency amongst the several doggy actors, the director decided to go with the Berger Picard breed.

 

One benefit to the Picard being a rare breed even today, is that there is less chance for ‘over-breeding’ which can result in many health and temperament issues. So the Berger Picard remains to be a very healthy breed with a life expectancy of 12-15 years and very few major health problems.

 

The Picard is a great family dog, he can get along very well with children and other pets when socialized properly. The Picard is often very standoffish with strangers and needs a heavy focus on how to stay calm and relaxed around new people. Many Picard owners will tell you their dog is the pickiest eater. You will need to take plenty of time finding the right food that is nutritionally balanced that your dog will also enjoy. Picards are notoriously picky-eaters and for this reason are often not motivated by food during training sessions. Lucky for you they are very loyal and absolutely love to make their owners happy, so often times praise is worth more to them than a dog treat.

 

This scruffy dog breed is super low-key when it comes to grooming. They have a double coat with a rough, wiry top coat. The Picard has a naturally lower oil content in their fur, which is what helps to give them that scruffy, tousled appearance. This also helps to make it very rare to get matting in the fur, as well as dirt seems to just rub right off of them, resulting in a less smelly pooch! Their coat sheds twice a year, and they only need to be brushed about once a week.

 

The Berger Picard is a very energetic breed that is up for any type of activity. They are great at going on long hikes, swims, camping, bike rides, you name it! They are generally fairly easy to train in obedience as they just love to keep busy and love being given a task. If you and your family are looking for a sweet-natured dog to go on long hikes or swims with, consider getting the wonderful Berger Picard!

What is the Canine Good Citizen Program?

dog smiling with owner

Is your pooch the perfect gentleman? Knows all his manners and loves to meet new dogs and people with a calm demeanor? Your dog may already have what to takes to pass the CKC Canine Good Citizen test!

What is the Canine Good Citizen program? It was created by the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) in 1989 to encourage responsible dog ownership and the goal being that the dog acts appropriately in various surroundings and situations. The program encourages the owner to use non-aversive training methods, and to strengthen the bond between owner and dog to improve training results as well as overall happiness (for both the owner and the dog). This program also helps improve communities as the dogs are less likely to act inappropriately towards strangers, assuming the manners continue to be maintained after the certificate has been earned. Even people who may be a little nervous around dogs, are typically much more at ease when you tell them your dog is a certified Good Citizen!

For your dog to earn his Canadian Canine Good Citizen certificate (also known as ‘CCGC’), you must set up a testing date with one of the CKC approved evaluators through the CKC website. On the date of the test, you must bring all paperwork for your dog such as proof of vaccinations and license, dog brush, plastic bag, leash and collar (or harness is also acceptable). The test must be done in a public place so that there are some distractions around. The dog is given the Canine Good Citizen Test broken down into 12 steps.

1. Accepting A Friendly Stranger (Owner shakes hands with a friendly stranger, dog must remain calm)
2. Politely Accepts Petting (Evaluator pets the dog, testing the dog for shyness)
3. Appearance and Grooming (Evaluator inspects that the dog is well looked after, coat in good condition, healthy teeth, clear eyes, etc.)
4. Out For A Walk (Owner walks the dog, any tension on the leash is automatic failure)
5. Walking Through A Crowd (Dog remains calm in busy public setting, does not show signs of stress or nervousness, must continue to have a ‘loose leash’)
6. Sit/Down On Command and Stay In Place (Dog must know ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘stay’ and able to perform these reliably even with distractions)
7. Come When Called (Dog must know ‘come’ reliably even with distractions)
8. Praise/Interaction (Evaluator observes the relationship between owner and dog when owner gives praise, as well as the dog should be able to calm down easily and quickly after praise is done)
9. Reaction To A Passing Dog (Dog remains calm and not nervous, shy or aggressive when passing a dog)
10. Reaction To Distractions (With distractions present, dog must remain confident and not fearful or overly excited)
11. Supervised Isolation (Evaluator tests that the dog continues to have good manners and respond appropriately to commands from a stranger while the owner is not within their eyesight)
12. Walking Through A Door/Gate (Dog waits for the owner to give the ok before going through gate, dog must calmly walk through door or gate and not charge or pull)

It may seem daunting at first if you are in the early stages of training with your dog, but completing the CCGC program is an excellent foundation towards more fun things with your dog like agility or performance events. Not only does it help give a foundation to training, it also greatly increases the bond between you and your dog as you spend lots of time together practising and training for this test. You will also learn to read your dog’s body language better and it will almost be like you can have conversations together! The Canine Good Citizen program gives you the confidence to take your dog anywhere and know he will be on his best behaviour.

Breed of the Week: Italian Greyhound

italian greyhound

Meet our cute and tiny featured breed this week, the Italian Greyhound! This miniature pooch is super playful and gentle. When they aren’t cuddling up to you on the couch, you can find them bouncing around outside with pure joy!

 

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sighthound group. The breed originated in Italy approximately 2,000 years ago when Italians started breeding naturally smaller greyhounds. Many experts will debate the origin of this dog actually dates back as far as 6,000 years ago as some drawings on ancient Egyptian tombs have depicted a small dog very similar in resemblance to the Italian greyhound. There is even rumor that an Italian greyhound looking dog was discovered in the remnants of the city of Pompeii. Being from the sighthound group, the Italian Greyhound’s original purpose was to hunt for small game.

 

With their natural hunting instincts, it’s easy to see why this dog will often chase anything that moves! The Italian Greyhound can be found either bouncing off the walls and wiggling his body like crazy, or nuzzled into a cozy blanket or lying in a sunspot. Because of their high energy spurts, you want to be sure to give your Italian Greyhound lots of time every day to run around outside and let lose some of that energy. Preferably with some doggie friends as the Italian Greyhound gets along amazingly with other dogs, they thrive having canine friends to play with.

 

Italian Greyhounds makes wonderful family pets and are very suitable for apartment or condo living with their small size (but be sure to get them out to run around every day!). They get along great with kids, and usually tolerant of young kids when socialized properly. As long as the young kids are polite and respectful to the dog, and know not to try to pick them up unexpectedly (Italian Greyhounds are very sensitive to touch and usually dislike being grabbed by surprise) They are very sweet and gentle dogs that also get along well with other pets such as cats. Much like cats themselves as they like to nuzzle up to a warm couch or sleep under a sun beam from the window. Italian Greyhounds will often perch themselves on top of a couch so they can look out the window, much like a cat. But make sure they don’t climb too high, this breed often suffers from broken legs from trying to jump across high places.

 

This breed is very easy to maintain their good looks. Being short-haired, you don’t need to worry about taking them to the groomer for hair trimming. Just basic maintenance grooming like teeth and ear cleaning, nail trimming, baths, etc. Although not hypoallergenic, they do shed very little so hair all over the house won’t be much of a problem.

 

Italian Greyhounds are a wonderful choice for a family pet and get along fantastically with other dogs. The have a contagiously happy and playful personality. If you’re looking for a cute little clown that’s also an expert cuddlebug, look no further than the Italian Greyhound.

Breed of the Week: Gordon Setter

gordon setter

Our super loveable featured breed this week is the calm and graceful Gordon Setter. These gorgeous dogs are part of the setter family (alongside the Irish setter and English setter). They are large, alert dogs ready to take on any task, but also have a silly side!

 

Black and tan setter-type dogs are recorded in Scotland as far back as the 16th century and it is widely believe that these were the ancestors to the Gordon Setter we know today. The breed became more popular in the late 17th century and were mostly kept and bred at the Gordon Castle near River Sprey. The breeder of these dogs had the goal in mind of a sturdy hunting dog, able to do accurate ‘air-scenting’ for game birds. Although these dogs were not the fastest hunting companions, they were amazingly accurate (would not give many false ‘alerts’ to the hunter) and had great stamina to continue hunting through the day with very little rest.

 

With their amazing stamina and scent work abilities, it’s no wonder the Gordon Setter Breed can often be found competing in field trials. As their ancestors would generally work with only one hunter all the time, this has translated to the breed being a bit standoffish with strangers today. As well, the Gordon Setter needs a lot of socialization with other dogs and animals. The Gordon Setter get jealous very easily so it is important for them to learn how to nicely share toys and affection with other dogs. The Gordon Setter has a lot of love to give and can also be prone to separation anxiety so be sure to find ways to keep him busy and active all day, and to practise entering and leaving the home calmly to not promote separation anxiety.

 

The Gordon Setter is a very intelligent dog and once they have bonded to an owner, they are very trainable. But if the Gordon Setter doesn’t know the person well who is giving commands, he is likely to just ignore them. They take loyalty very seriously! The Gordon Setter can get along great with kids when they have been socialized and the kids are respectful, homes with very young children are not suitable for Gordon Setters as these dogs have a tendency to jump on people and be a bit rambunctious. Gordon Setters generally prefer to be the only dog in the home as they can sometimes get jealous of their owner giving affection to anything that isn’t them!

 

The Gordon Setter has a black and tan coat that is naturally long and feathery. This breed can also (very rarely) come in other colour variations such as red or buff, but these colour variations are not ineligible for showing (although they still make wonderful family pets!). Their fine hair should be brushed and combed 2-3 times a week to keep out tangles. The hair on the feet should be trimmed once every couple of months, depending on your personal preference. Many groomers recommend you bathe a Gordon Setter once every 2 weeks. As bathing too often can easily dry out the skin, you may decide to bathe less frequently, or use a very sensitive shampoo formulated for frequent dog bathing.

 

These loving companion dogs are still to this day dominating field trials and out alongside their owners on the hunt. Although a bit standoffish with strangers and new dogs, they are truly one of the most loyal dogs you will find.