Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Oh No, my dog needs drugs!

So often when I'm doing behavioral work, we decide it would be in the best interest of the dog to get on some form of calming drugs.  Yes, I've been know to try oils, etc.  But most of the cases I see are way beyond that.  (I use lots of oils for myself - love them, love them on my dogs for various reasons).  Please remember that taking the edge off your dog will allow him to "hear and respond" to you better.  The drug alone isn't magic, and won't work without doing behavioral modification in tandem with it.  So if the vet says your dog would benefit from a calming med, be sure to IMMEDIATELY contact a behavioral trainer to help you with the modification portion.  There are some vets who are wonderful at remembering this, there are some that aren't. 

Also make note of how your dog may change during the initial six weeks of trying to find the right dosage.  Just like people, there is an adjustment period when a new drug is introduced.  You may see for the first 2-3 weeks that your dog is sleeping more, seems a little lethargic, etc.  Remember, you are now seeing him RELAXED, and if he truly hasn't been able to do that lately, it will look different to you.  My dogs sleep a lot during the day - and they are not medicated, they are just being relaxed dogs!  If indeed after your first month you are concerned he over medicated, talk to your vet and get his dosage changed.  Yes, we WANT to see a difference in his behavior, but if he's been a zombie for 3 weeks, then his body isn't adjusting and we need to drop it down a bit.

Just being on drugs won't help him with aggression, or reaction.  He will still have them, but it may be in a lighter dose than before.  This is why we want to use training during this period, to help him actually "feel" how doing an alternative behavior works for him (i.e. treats and love!).   Before meds he would most likely get into a reactive zone so fast  you couldn't possibly step in with modification exercises!

So be aware that meds can be helpful.  I always start folks out saying we'll readdress the med's in six months to see if he needs to continue, or if he's modified his behavior enough to be off them.  It's always about the dog - not the handler! 

Enjoy your day folks - hoping to get some warm weather now that we're nearly into June!

Deb and her crew, Evereee (BC), Eli (Bloodhound), Cosby (Basset) and Kizzie the torie cat!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The right breed for you!

Finding the right breed of dog for you takes more work than most people ever consider or put into!  Often I see dogs and folks who, individually, are very nice, but together just don't mesh.  Just like any relationship, you need to be sure you're giving as well as receiving what you and your dog needs.  Certain breeds need stronger leadership skills than others.  Some don't do well in crowds, some do great in crowds.  Breed temperament plus personality temperament need to be taken into consideration. 

We take more time choosing friends and loved ones than we do a dog.  Yet, the dog is a family member, and is expected to behave as one.  

So do your homework, know your dogs breed and temperament.  Don't go by what a friend said, or that "one" dog you met that made you love this breed.  The beauty of the internet is we can find out just about anything.  So be careful how you choose this new pup, because this is a relationship that for your dog, is a lifetime!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Containing your Dog Safely outside!

When I talk to folks I'm always surprised when I find out they live in a house, but do not have a fence for their dog.   Containment for your dog is so very important.  Dogs need to have a yard, and if they're lucky enough to have one, they should be able to wander around it safely.

Many folks get a dog and later get a fence.  That's cool.  But truly it should be the other way around.  Just like we prepare for a baby, things need to be in place before the dog comes into your house.  Containment can be either a fence or Invisible Fence, whichever fits your yard the best.

Having to leash your dog when he's outside will eventually make your pup more reactive on leash, as well as on his tie out.  Dogs who are tied know they are literally stuck there.  If something comes in that scares them they have no ability to run.  Dogs have a fight or flight instinct, most have flight.  But if they can't "flight" then they will fight or sound off in a scary manner. 

Please please always remember that having a dog requires more than just wanting a dog.  Keeping them safe, balanced and happy is our job. 

So what can you do when you live in an apartment or townhouse with no yard?   It's important to find a place where your dog can be off leash safely.  Dog parks can certainly be an option for our dogs with no yards, but be very careful out there.  Not every dog at the park should be there.  Daycares are great as they give your dog a safe place that is supervised and dogs are usually screened for health and behavior as well.