dog health

Is that a Lab? A few thoughts on dog weight.

“What kind of dog is he?”

You’d be amazed how many times I’ve had this question asked about my yellow Labrador Retriever.  According to the American Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever has ranked as the most popular breed every year since 1991.  If they’re so popular, why on earth do some people find Tucker so hard to identify?

Answer: Because he isn’t overweight.

The most common follow up comment when I identify his breed is, “Oh, I’ve never seen one that wasn’t fat!”  Or, sometimes they say, “I’ve never seen one so skinny!”

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Tucker, 6/20/2020

In my role as a trainer, I actually see far fewer fat dogs than I did when I worked at a veterinary clinic several years ago.  And, while I do think there is a greater understanding now of canine health than there was ten years ago, I think the largest reason I don’t see fat dogs is because fat dogs are less active – and therefore not displaying the same kinds of behavior problems that we see in healthy, energetic dogs.

Regardless, I think it’s important to take a brief moment to talk about weight and the way it impacts your dog’s quality of life.

Just as in humans, overweight animals can suffer from many of the same ailments: decreased life expectancy, bone/muscle problems, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes to name a few.

While all of the medical issues I mentioned are of concern, I’ve always been a stickler about my dogs’ weight because I know how great the impact of excessive pounds can be on their joints.  Since Tucker, my Labrador, has had his fair share of medical issues, I always joke that since his joints have always proven themselves to be in good shape, I am going to do whatever I can to keep them that way!

So how can you tell if your dog is overweight?  There are some very helpful charts on the internet to help you visualize this, but in most cases, when looking at your dog from above, you want to see a slight waist between his rib cage and hips.  While you don’t want to be able to easily see his ribs, you want to be able to feel them when you very gently press your dog’s side.  (Note: some very athletic dogs/breeds may have more defined ribs without being unhealthy/underweight.)

At their annual check ups on May 20, 2020, Tucker and Ellie were both identified as being at a “perfect weight” by our veterinarian, so we’ll let them serve as your visual for the moment.

 

If you’re now suspicious your dog may be overweight, ask your vet!  For dogs who are severely overweight, your vet will need to guide you on the best and safest way to slowly work your dog down to its ideal weight.  Remember, it’s hard to be on your best behavior when you don’t feel well, so don’t discount your dog’s health as a part of your training plans.

Let’s do our best to keep our pups happy AND healthy!

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Tucker, 9 years old – Ellie, 3 years old

 

 

Categories: Blog, dog food, dog health | 1 Comment

Dogs and Social Distancing – Keep it Up!

Most of us simply cannot wait for this “social distancing” stuff to be over.

But what if your dog is enjoying it?

Now, I’m not referring the time you’re spending at home (although your dog very well may be enjoying that, too).  I’m talking about social distancing on your walks and in public spaces.

Allow me to explain:

I recently had the pleasure of attending Nelson Hodges’ Relationship Based Behavior Modification workshop.  As often happens to me at workshops, I learned how to verbalize and put words to something that I may have noticed, but hadn’t yet defined in a repeatable way.  Allow me to use that information to frame this discussion.

  1. Anti-Social –  dogs who are against interactions with others
  2. A-Social – dogs who are indifferent about interaction
  3. Social – dogs who desire interactions on their own terms – usually pushy and rude
  4. Pro-Social – dogs who use proper interaction as part of a social unit – their actions benefit the group

Here’s the thing folks – only the dogs in category 3 – Social – are upset about social distancing right now.  The other dogs are saying, “hallelujah, strangers are staying out of my space!”

I’ve seen meme after meme from dog trainers about how nice the social distancing is at the park – because it’s keeping us and our clients from being bombarded by well meaning, but uneducated, people.

Let me speak to the owners of the “Social” dogs for a moment.  I know it breaks your heart when you have to tell you super ooey-gooey labrador puppy that he can’t just run up and say hello to every person and dog he sees at the park.*  But guess what?  I say this with love – it isn’t about him.  It’s about the shy dog who doesn’t like strange dogs rushing up into her space.  It’s about the owner who is working hard to reduce her dog’s leash reactivity and is trying hard to prevent an explosion.  It’s about the owner who has a pro-social dog who has no problem with you or your dog, but knows that face to face leashed greetings with strange dogs often end poorly.

Socializing doesn’t mean you have to touch, wrestle, lick, or be within so many feet of another dog.  Socializing is getting out and seeing the world – taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and doing so in a responsible way.**

So maybe, just maybe, our social distancing practice during this pandemic can encourage some of you to really analyze your behavior out in public with your dog.  Are you the person who asks every dog who walks by to say hi?  Are you the person who always says, “but my dog is friendly!” without ever pausing to consider the feelings of the other person or dog?  If so, I would ask you to consider trying to see the world from the other owner and dog’s perspective.  Try to practice respectful distancing when this is all over.  Am I suggesting you should never ask to pet a puppy at the park again?  Not necessarily.  But you should be willing to graciously accept a “no” if the owner/trainer doesn’t want to participate, and you should DEFINITELY stop forcing attention and interaction on the people and dogs who don’t care for it.

 

*Training tip – the folks who let their puppy spend the first several months doing whatever they want at the park, and saying hi to everyone all the time, are the ones who call me between 6-8 moths old and say, “my dog just can’t focus and he pulls me towards every dog and person in the park!”  Guess what, you accidentally taught your dog that this is exactly how the park works and what he’s supposed to do!  It’s okay to set boundaries early and show your puppy that the park is about the two of you getting out and having a great time – not about seeing how many people and dogs you can rush up to and smother with kisses.  There are times and ways in which saying hi is appropriate – but it has to be done responsibly and within reason.

**We fully support supervised, guided playtime/social time at daycares and boarding facilities where the staff are not only supervising, but stepping in and teaching the dogs what Pro-Social behavior looks like and how to read the body language of the other dogs involved.  There is a big difference between an off leash scenario like this and randomly walking head on at another leashed dog out in the park.

 

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Photo just for attention – and because they’re adorable.  Our dogs, Ellie and Tucker, with Search and Rescue dogs Sabre and Reign.

 

Categories: Behavior, Blog, dog health, dog training, Dogs and COVID-19, Fearful dogs, leash laws, owner encouragement, Puppy Socialization, Rescues, training tips | 2 Comments

UltraCell CBD – for Dogs and Humans!

I am a total skeptic about most supplements – but I have experienced some really amazing results while taking Zilis’ UltraCell CBD.  Since this product is also approved for use in dogs (and cats), we want to share it!

This blog’s purpose is to announce these new products that we will be adding to our shop and offering online through www.zilis.com/highcountrycbd.  The UltraCell CBD product and the boosters, Ice and Dream, are safe for dogs.  The other boosters should be used for humans only at this time.

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First, allow me to explain that this product is made from hemp, not cannabis, and it’s THC contents are incredibly low – the bottle I am currently using tested at 0.0155% THC.  I know this because Zilis has each batch tested at an independent lab and then puts a QR code on each bottle so the end user can access the lab results – pretty cool!

Second, I’ll tell you that for me personally, it has done wonders for the symptoms of my anxiety and my productivity levels.  I’ve never even considered selling supplements, but after my husband and I saw the effect it had on me, we decided we wanted to promote the product and tell all of our friends about it!  If you have any personal questions about my experience with the product, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I am also giving it to Tucker, my Labrador.  He loves the taste (I feed him his 6 drops on a spoon) and it has not had any adverse side effects on him that I can tell – which is great since Tucker is such a sensitive boy (epilepsy, irritable bowl syndrome, acid reflux, allergies, etc).  We started giving it to him to see if it would have a positive effect on some medical conditions.  He seems slightly more energetic, but he can go through phases of higher levels of energy, so we look forward to seeing if this is a phase or a new normal for him! (UPDATE as of 4/15/2019 – he DEFINITELY has more energy – he’s eager to play, explore, and even be a little more silly than normal!  It did also have a positive affect on some other medical conditions.)

I can also share with you a testimonial from one of our clients, Stacy, about her dog Brit.  If you follow our Instagram or Facebook, you’ve seen photos of her.  She has always had some anxiety, but it got worse and became somewhat aggressive after she was attacked at a park.  Eventually she lashed out at one of the family’s other dogs and became very reactive on walks.  She also had recurring shoulder pain and limping from time to time.  Here is what her mom has to say about UltraCell:

“Our 7 year-old Labrador, Brit, has been taking UltraCell for the past month.  She has been more playful and energetic since starting the product.  Prior to starting UltraCell, she had back pain and right front shoulder pain.  Now, she actively plays with our two 5 month-old puppies.  She loves the taste (and so does our puppy, who seems to know when we open the bottle!).  We are very thankful for UltraCell.”

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Brit and her sister hanging out with Ellie at a lesson in September 2018.

I am so excited to see how adding UltraCell CBD oil to a solid training regimen will help some of our clients – dog or human!

We hope to have some samples for sale at our shop as early as next Monday, 3/25/19.  If you’re interested in purchasing one, please let us know!  Remember, our office hours are by appointment only – contact us if you’d like to come by.  828-699-3977  discoverydog1@gmail.com

You can see the dosage chart by clicking this link! 20180830-ultracellpetdosageflyer

Consult your qualified veterinarian provider prior to using this product. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Categories: Behavior, Blog, dog health, dog training, owner encouragement, training tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leash Laws – They Aren’t Just About YOU!

This one is going to step on some toes – sorry folks!

I often hear people explain their choice to have their dogs unleashed in public/leash-required areas by saying, “My dog is super friendly – he won’t hurt anyone!”  I’ve also heard, “He doesn’t go too far, and he almost always comes when I call.”

These individuals assume that the leash law is just for them – and that because their dog is friendly or usually comes when called that the law is irrelevant to them.  Friends, this simply isn’t the case.  Nearly every week, I hear my clients complain about off leash dogs who run up on their leashed dogs.  And here’s the thing – most of these client dogs ARE REACTIVE.  Dogs who are aggressive or fearful do not need your happy-go-lucky pup running up into their faces – no matter how much of a social butterfly your pup may be!

I have clients who have worked extremely hard to improve their dog’s behavior, but they are still nervous about going to our local Greenway because of the large number of off leash dogs who show no obvious training or manners.  That is simply unacceptable.

Listen folks, I get it.  Most of you don’t have large yards to let your dogs run and we only have one dog park (which I hear negative reviews on regularly) in the area.  Regardless, it doesn’t give you the right to ignore a law or rule that has been put in place not only to protect other dogs and people, but your dog as well!  If you need to practice obedience at a distance, or even play a small game of fetch, why not use a lightweight long line to make sure you remain in control?

Please, respect your fellow dog lovers and keep your dog leashed where required – especially when that area is a high traffic area.  Remember that some of the dogs you see at the Greenway have been attacked by off leash dogs – and they are still affected by that fear and anxiety!  

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Fall 2017 – I needed to work on off leash obedience with Beau, but since we were at the Greenway, I used a green parachute cord as my long line to make sure we were still being respectful of other patrons.  Choosing a material that blends in and isn’t heavy helps simulate an off leash environment.  

Categories: Aggressive Dogs, Behavior, dog health, Dog Parks, dog training, Fearful dogs, freedom, leash laws, training tips | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Common Puppyhood Injuries

Puppies, like children, often get sick or have accidents.  And while some of these sicknesses and accidents are unavoidable, there are some things we can do as owners to attempt to reduce visits to the vet.

The AKC recently published an article about the top puppy injuries they see come through their insurance program (yes, doggie health insurance is now a thing).  You can read the full article by Clicking Here.

Two of the five most common items they discuss are ear infections and ingestion of a foreign body.

In Puppy Preschool, we discuss the importance of first aid and proper grooming, which includes regularly checking your puppy’s ears and knowing how to properly clean them when they become dirty.  Some breeds are more susceptible to ear infections than others, such as breeds with floppy ears and/or a lot of hair in the ear canal.  Ear infections can be quite painful, and at times costly, so it’s important to utilize preventative strategies when possible.  Even so, ear infections can still occur, so owners would do well to familiarize themselves with the early symptoms so they can receive medical treatment before the infection worsens.

Anyone who has ever owned a puppy also knows that they explore the world with their mouths.  That means that anything within a puppy’s reach is often fair game for mouthing and/or ingesting when unsupervised.  Puppies can often make quick work of certain household objects, so best practice is to crate your puppy when it is unsupervised.  If you are crate training properly and helping your puppy understand that the crate is his safe space, crating him should not cause undo stress.  Even if your puppy doesn’t love the idea of going in his crate while you go to work or run an errand, his safety (and the safety of your belongings) should still be prioritized over his feelings.  As the mature adult, it’s your job to make decisions for him – he’s just a baby!

Even diligent owners who move objects to higher ground and utilize a crate can still find themselves with a puppy who has ingested a foreign object.  While some objects may pass through your puppy’s digestive tract without causing harm, other objects can either leech toxins or become stuck along the way.  When in doubt, call your veterinarian.  He or she may want to take x-rays to identify and locate the object in order to create an appropriate treatment plan.

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Don’t forget that “all natural” objects can become a problem, too!  Puppies who swallow large chunks of wood, rocks, or even large nuts could end up with a digestive issue.  Supervision is always key!  

 

 

 

Categories: dog food, dog health, dog training, Puppy, training tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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