Thursday, April 26, 2012

READING K9 BODY LANGUAGE


Pet owners play an important role in dog interactions and should consider themselves safety monitors and gate-keepers of the peace. Whether you have more than one dog in your household, you frequent dog parks or pass other canines on walks with your dog, the ability to understand and read canine body language is an essential skill to have for any dog owner.

Meet and Greet

When dogs play together, one of the most pivotal moments is the greeting. This will determine whether or not the two dogs will get along successfully. Can your dog tell who wants to be their friend and who doesn't? Can you? Daycare and group play is so important for your dog’s development because it provides multiple playmates with different experiences and communication skills.  A dog who plays regularly with other dogs can tell from the greeting ritual if the dog they're meeting is a friend or foe.   

What is an appropriate greeting? An appropriate greeting is rotating from sniffing the face, to sniffing the rear, sometimes doing this continually, and in circles for 10 to even 30 seconds.  An inappropriate greeting would be for another dog to come straight on, staring your dog directly in the face with no intent to sniff. Also inappropriate would be if another dog put their head or paw over your dog's shoulder without having said hello first.  The worst scenario is when a dog doesn't want to be sniffed! When this happens, your dog has two options: to understand that they have enough self confidence not to feel threatened in the "inappropriate" scenario and to not reciprocate equally negative behavior. Your dog may feel the need to communicate back to this "rude" dog.  This is when the human may need to step in. 

What You Should Know 

For the safety of the dogs, it is vital to recognize what both dogs are "saying to each other." Common stress signals to watch for are:
-Licking their lips with their tongue over and over again
-The hair on their back is raised. This can either mean, “I'm really excited" or "I'm a little nervous." 
-Ears pinned back
-Tucked tail
-Stiff body 

What You Can Do

Does your dog tend to approach other dogs the wrong way? It is absolutely possible to work on that and teach your furry companion proper greeting behavior.
1. Reward your dog for good behavior.  A simple comment like good boy/girl with some cuddly scratches can make a difference as well as a little treat.  Dogs understand they get a yummy treat when they do the right thing, so they will continue to do it.
2.  Redirect if the first meeting isn't going well. Is one dog more comfortable than the other?  Call the dog that's more confident away so the nervous dog can have a minute to get their bearings and then you can try the meeting again.

The video below demonstrates an appropriate greeting between Livvy (brown) and Hannah (brindle).While we don't reccommend having strange dogs meet on-leash, it is important to give you the right knowledge since this event is unavoidable. 


video

What was done right?
-Loose leashes by the two handlers (if the leash is tight this can sometimes cause an unwanted or unnatural repsonse from a dog because they are restrained)
-Relaxed and wiggly body language from both and alot of appropriate sniffing.
-Livvy, the older dog decided to end the greeting ritual first by going around mom's back, Hannah, who is still very young, read this "cut-off" signal perfectly and decided that she was done sniffing too. Hannah comes to daycare twice a week and practices these greeting skills on a regular basis. Livvy is owned by our daycare manager and assists with evaluating new dogs to join our daycare crew.


Well managed groups or play overseen by a person that understands canine body language and interactions can help a dog improve their communication skills and gain confidence. All of the daycare staff at Morris K9 Campus are trained in this skill  in order to ensure the safety of every pet and their success in the world of canine communication.

Friday, April 20, 2012

DOES YOUR DOG NEED A BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION PLAN?

Basic training is always helpful. Behaviors like stay, come, settle, and lay down help us to teach our dogs to be great pets. In group training classes, humans learn how to effectively communicate what they want to their dogs. There are some dogs that may need a training program specifically designed for them. A specialized training plan that is built around the needs of the dog and the family that is training him or her is called a behavior modification plan.

When creating a behavior modification plan a certified dog trainer will evaluate what the problem is and why it's happening. It is important to solve what the dog gets out of the unwanted behavior. After answering these questions, and with help, your trainer will make a plan to change the behavior.
A typical behavior modification plan will include:

Management

Exercise and constructive play

Helping the dog's owners to become effective communicators

Instituting a nothing in life is for free program

Teaching the dog appropriate responses

Setting goals for dog and family to meet

If basic training is not enough for your pooch, don't worry and most of all don't give up! Our trainers at Morris K9 Campus know how to work with you and your dog to create a comprehensive behavior modification plan through private lessons. Every dog has the potential to be great dog and we can help you achieve that goal with time, patience, and an awesome behavior modification plan!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR DOG FROM TICKS AND FLEAS

Last winter was memroable to say the least. It snowed every other week, often several times in one week and was bitterly cold. We spent most of our mornings rising early to shovel a path out of our driveways. We grew accustomed to the couch and the TV and hibernated like bears. This winter on the other hand, was unseasonably warm. This allowed us to prematurely pull out our T-Shirts and tank tops and enjoy the outdoors, unencumbered by snow, icy sidewalks or thick coats. The only problem was that two tiny creatures were also benefiting from the warm weather: the tick and flea! Since we experienced a mild winter, the tick and flea season has been longer this year. Be on the lookout for those tiny critters and consider our advice to protect your canine from fleas and ticks this season, and all year round.

CRITTER IDENTIFICATION

Ticks:
There are three different types of ticks prevalent in New Jersey: the deer tick, the lone star tick, and the american dog tick. Deer ticks are the smallest of the three and are black in color. The deer tick is a transmitter of Lyme disease. The american dog tick is much larger in size, looks like a white or grey kernel of corn when engorged, and is the tick that is most frequently encountered. The american dog tick can be a transmitter of the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The lone star tick can be identified by the white spot on its back but is less common in this area.
Fleas:
Fleas appear as small red or black dots about the size of a pinhead and can be found on any part of the body, but tend to congregate around the neck and tail area of cats and dogs.
 

PREVENTATIVE MEASURES

Ticks tend to favor wooded areas with overgrown grass. After every hike or walk with your dog, take the time to diligently scan his or her body for ticks. Use a brush or a flea/tick comb to slowly comb through the hair. If any fleas or ticks were on your dog’s body, it would get trapped in the fine tines of the comb. It is important to speak with your veterinarian about the best preventative measure you can take, whether it's Frontline, K9 Advantix or any other lotion your vet recommends. Be consistent and apply the preventative medication once every month or as often as your vet recommends.

CURES

Ticks:
What do you do if you find a tick on your dog’s body? Use tweezers to pull the tick straight out, do not twist. Try not to grab the tick’s body but rather the mouth parts attached to your pet. Drop the tick in a jar of alcohol to kill it. If you want to be sure it is not a disease carrying deer tick, bring the tick preserved in alcohol to your local veterinarian to have it examined. Simply flushing a tick down the toilet will not kill it. Clean the bite wound with antiseptic.

Fleas:
Fleas are less dangerous than ticks but are much more annoying. As soon as a flea sucks blood, it is able to reproduce and will soon lay eggs. To completely eradicate fleas from your pet and your home it is crucial to wash all bedding where your dog sleeps in hot soapy water. Vacuum the entire house making sure to focus on baseboards and the corners of every room. Seal the vacuum bag in a plastic trash bag and either freeze it or pour flea powder into the bag to ensure the fleas do not return, then dispose in an outdoor trash receptacle. It may take several weeks to entirely wipe out those pesky fleas, so continue to wash bedding, rugs and pillows and be vigilant with your vacuuming. If these natural solutions prove ineffective after several weeks, it may be time to invite an exterminator over. Make sure that whatever fogger or spray is used contains an IGR, or insect growth regulator, to exterminate the flea in all its life cycles, from larva to adult.

To remove fleas from Fido, wash him or her in hot soapy water. There are many natural remedies out there that you may want to try before resorting to flea shampoos which contain harsh chemicals but may later prove to be necessary. Discuss your options with your veterinarian to determine the best and safest solution for your pet. If needed, Morris Animal Inn does provide flea shampooing.



Armed with these tips, you’ll be able to show any tick or flea whose boss!