Good Dog: Behavior & Training
How many dogs are in your bed?
A three dog night refers to weather so cold that three dogs had to be called into bed to keep a person from freezing to death. We don’t know whether this expression originated in the Australian outback, or far north in either the Americas or in Europe. What we do know is that for many of us who sleep comfortably indoors in houses with central heat, having only three dogs in the bed is for amateurs. There are a lot of dog lovers out there with four, five or even more dogs sharing a pretty limited sleeping space.
My cousin Leslie posted this picture of her husband with four of their dogs sharing the bed with him. (It’s not obvious where my cousin sleeps, but she jokingly claims to have rights to the other corner of the bed.) These four dogs are small, but anyone who has settled in for the night only to have 16 additional feet and their attached bodies climb aboard knows that crowding is a hazard. Dogs of any size can steal the covers, cause you to overheat and wake you up multiple times.
They also keep you cozy while making you feel safe, secure and very loved. It’s a wonderful feeling to have dogs snuggle up at night, or even during a nap. Many people sheepishly admit that their dogs sleep with them, only to find out that the person receiving this confession also has canine bed buddies. There’s so much love and joy when we share the bed with our best friends, so I’m happy that judgment about it is less common that it used to be.
In some families, there are dogs with bed privileges and dogs who are given their own comfy bed or a spot on the rug. It may be the dog’s choice, but more often, the guardians make this important decision. Sometimes size influences a dog’s sleeping position, with extra large dogs interfering too much with sleep. In other cases, it’s dogs’ behavior that determines whether or not they are welcome on the bed. Dogs who settle down and sleep calmly all night are welcome in the big bed while dogs who spend the night walking around or who mistake the comforter for a tug toy are more likely to find themselves sleeping on the floor.
I know of many couples who must compromise because one person wants the dogs in the bed but the other person wants the bed to be for people only. In those cases, often just one dog is allowed up. It may be the same dog every night, or they may rotate so each gets a turn.
How many dogs share your bed and how is that working out for you?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
K9 Medals of Courage were awarded last week at Capitol Hill.
Last week four incredible dogs were honored at Capitol Hill for the K9 Medal of Courage, the nation's highest honor for military dogs. The award, given for extraordinary valor and service to America, were created by philanthropist and veterans advocate Lois Pope along with the American Humane Society.
“It is important to recognize and honor the remarkable accomplishments and valor of these courageous canines,” said Rep. Gus Bilirakis, co-chair of the Congressional Humane Bond Caucus, which hosted the event. “By helping locate enemy positions, engage the enemy, and sniff out deadly IEDs and hidden weapons, military dogs have saved countless lives in the fight for freedom.”
These are the four pups that were honored, all of which are still playing valuable roles back home.
While on one combat patrol, Isky's right leg was injured in six places, leaving the German Shepherd with so much trauma and nerve damage that it had to be amputated. But even on three legs, Isky continues to serve alongside Wess. Isky is now Wess' PTSD service dog. Wess says that there isn't a moment when he doesn't feel safe with Isky by his side.
Hats off to these amazing pups!
News: Guest Posts
Most dog professional feel crates are a necessity when sharing your life with a dog. Crates can be a great management tool. They are helpful with a new puppy’s house-training routine. They can be a wonderful place for your dog to safely go and relax when there are too many visitors in the home or small children are at risk of bothering him. They are often recommended to safely transport dogs in a vehicle, and they can be a nice, comfy place for your dog to take his afternoon nap.
Having said all that, you may be surprised to hear that I don’t always recommend using a crate. The reason is, as a certified separation anxiety trainer, I spend much of my time working with dogs who suffer from separation anxiety and isolation distress. These dogs’ brains process things a bit differently, and confining them to a small space can often heighten their anxiety and stress levels. Think of it like being trapped in an elevator full of people, or in a traffic jam in an underground tunnel. Even those of us without anxiety issues may become a bit nervous or uncomfortable. Now add in an actual anxiety disorder and bam!, you have a full blown panic attack.
There could be several reasons a dog is not comfortable in a crate and it’s not always due to separation anxiety. If you have rescued a dog from a shelter, he probably spent many hours confined to a small wire kennel. It’s very possible that he has a negative association with this type of enclosure and won’t find an even smaller crate a comfortable place. This can sometimes be easily overcome by using positive reinforcement training and fun games to help your new dog build a positive association with his crate. Crate Games by Susan Garrett is one example.
When working with dogs who suffer from anxiety when left home alone, confining them to a crate or other small area is often recommended by well-meaning professionals. They might suggest using an exercise pen (also known as an X-pen), a baby gate, or closing the dog in one small room. The reasoning behind these suggestions is usually to prevent potty accidents on the rug and/or destruction to the home while the human is gone. The irony is that many dogs with separation anxiety manage to cause even greater destruction or self-injury while in their confinement area or crate. This can be seen in the form of torn up bedding, bent crate wires, broken teeth or bloody gums and/or nails. Not to mention, their anxiety typically worsens now that there is a combination of “home alone” and “confined to a small area.”
I have found that many of my clients’ dogs with separation anxiety also suffer from confinement anxiety. Therefore, they actually begin to relax and show more progress when allowed to be free in all or a large portion of the home. Once we eliminate this confinement, they no longer have that feeling of being trapped, or as if the walls are closing in on them. This allows us to introduce our behavior modification program with one less hurdle in front of us. My clients are very relieved once they see their dogs begin to relax and lie down on their comfy dog bed.
Our individualized protocol keeps the dog below their stress threshold during the desensitization process, which means they are not pushed to the point of destruction or self-mutilation. This allows the dog to move about and explore their environment calmly while their guardians’ know they won’t return to a mess. Humans are usually fine forgoing the crate once they realize how calm their dog is becoming.
Please don’t get me wrong. I still believe a crate can be a wonderful thing for a dog. In fact, some dogs I work with will seek out their crate and willingly go in it several times a day. I just think it’s important for all of us, including trainers and veterinarians, to consider that this is not a “one size fits all” solution. We must be willing to consider what’s best for each individual dog and honor those needs. This should include performing a proper and safe assessment to determine if a dog is comfortable in a crate, especially when left home alone. Some dogs need us to think outside the box before placing them in one.
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Sometimes people miss the dog the most
I remember a college friend commenting that he considered himself lucky to have gotten out of a bad relationship but also mentioning how much he missed his ex’s dog. He probably would have been completely happy about the break-up if it hadn’t been for Peaches. Most people discuss the person that they have broken up with, but in this case, our entire social circle heard about the dog, not the ex-girlfriend.
It’s common for people to ache from the pain of missing the children of their ex, so it’s no surprise that there is great sadness when people no longer get to live with or even see the dog they’ve come to love. When members of a couple adopt a dog together, there are sometimes visitation rights discussed during a break-up or written into a divorce agreement. If, however, you were with someone who had a dog before you were in the picture, you are unlikely to have any legal recourse. You will be allowed to see the dog if your ex lets you, but otherwise you are simply out of luck.
Sometimes people take the high road and allow their former partner to see the dog either because they recognize that it is good for the dog, or out of a loving kindness to the person with whom they just split. Sadly, denying access to a dog after a break-up is often done as retaliation, just to be mean and spiteful. (The same thing happens with children, which is extremely troubling.)
Were you allowed visits or some time with your ex’s dog after a break-up or a divorce?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
New Jersey seeks to ban retail pet sales.
According to the ASPCA, every year approximately 3.9 million dogs enter animal shelters and 1.2 million are euthanized. Meanwhile, thousands of puppy mills sell pets to stores that encourage impulse buying, which too often results in these dogs ending up at the local shelter.
New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak has been looking to break that cycle by prohibiting new pet stores in his state from selling dogs and cats from breeders. Senator Raymond feels strongly about stopping puppy mills, which put profit ahead of the humane treatment of their animals, creating health and behavioral problems.
Last week, his bill was passed in the state Senate by a 27-8 vote and is now in the hands of the Assembly. If put into law, the restriction would apply to any pet store licensed after January 12. Existing stores would not be affected.
The pet industry of course opposes the bill, claiming the legislation would make it difficult for new pet stores to open and would weaken a pet protection law that has been a model for the rest of the country. The bill revises the New Jersey Pet Protection Act and includes other additions, such as prohibiting shelters from purchasing dogs or cats from breeders or brokers, and requiring rescue organizations to be licensed in the town in which they are located.
Other cities, such as Richmond, British Columbia, West Hollywood, California, and South Lake Tahoe, Nevada, have already banned pet store dog and cat sales, but if Senator Raymond's bill passes, it would be the first statewide mandate.
While the law would not stop all stores from selling dogs and cats, it's certainly a step in the right direction.
A ruling in an animal abuse case in Oregon should have far-reaching ramifications because the Supreme Court of that state ruled recently that pets are not just “mere” property. The case involved the conviction of a dog owner who was starving her pet. In this instance the owner had appealed her conviction for second-degree neglect because a veterinarian had drawn the dog’s blood (without her permission).
According to the Court’s summary of the case:
The case at issue began in 2010, when an informant told the Oregon Humane Society that Amanda L. Newcomb was beating her dog, failing to properly feed it and keeping it in a kennel for many hours a day. An animal-cruelty investigator went to Newcomb's apartment in December 2010 and, once invited in, saw "Juno" in the yard with "no fat on his body." The dog, the investigator reported, "was kind of eating at random things in the yard, and trying to vomit."
The investigator asked why, and Newcomb said she was out of dog food but that she was going to get more that night, according to the summary of the case.
The investigator believed that defendant had neglected Juno. He asked her for permission to take the dog in for medical care, but defendant, who thought her dog looked healthy, refused and became irate. The officer therefore took protective custody of Juno without defendant’s consent, both as evidence of the neglect and because of the “strong possibility” that Juno needed medical treatment. He transported Juno to the Humane Society, where Juno would be housed and medically treated as appropriate. From medical tests, the officer expected also to be able to determine whether neglect charges were warranted or whether Juno should be returned to defendant.
The vet gave Juno food, charted his weight and measured his rapid weight gain over several days. The vet also drew Juno's blood and ruled out any disease. The investigator concluded nothing was wrong with the dog other than it was very hungry.
Newcomb was then convicted of second-degree animal neglect, a misdemeanor. Among other problems with the conviction, Newcomb argued, authorities violated her constitutional rights to be protected from unreasonable searches of property by drawing blood from her dog. Under Oregon law, animals are defined as property.
The prosecutor Adam Gibbs had argued that taking the dog to the veterinarian office was similar to care in suspected child-abuse cases. And further argued that a dog is not a container—like an inanimate piece of property—that requires a warrant. Rather, Gibbs argued that a dog "doesn't contain anything"—and that what's inside a dog is just "more dog."
The Supreme Court’s ruling agreed with his, stating that the chemical composition of Juno's blood was not "information" that Newcomb "placed in Juno for safekeeping or to conceal from view."
And concluded that the “defendant had no protected privacy interest in Juno’s blood that was invaded by the medical procedures performed.” And while dogs are considered personal property in Oregon, the ownership rights aren’t the same as with inanimate property, imposing other limits. “Those limitations, too, are reflections of legal and social norms. Live animals under Oregon law are subject to statutory welfare protections that ensure their basic minimum care, including veterinary treatment. The obligation to provide that minimum care falls on any person who has custody and control of a dog or other animal.”
Also interestingly the court added,
“As we continue to learn more about the interrelated nature of all life, the day may come when humans perceive less separation between themselves and other living beings than the law now reflects. However, we do not need a mirror to the past or a telescope to the future to recognize that the legal status of animals has changed and is changing still[.]”
See the full opinion here.
News: Guest Posts
The sensation of fur between the fingers. The sound of toenails tip-tapping across the floor. The ability to offer love and acceptance without uttering a single word… For patients facing the end of life, the sheer presence of a dog can provide comfort and reassurance like nothing else.
Perhaps that’s why Hospice of Southern Maine has introduced PawPrints, a new program that brings trained therapy dogs bedside to visit patients receiving end-of-life care in their facility. Such programs are part of a growing trend around the country, and it’s easy to understand why. According to studies cited by the National Center for Health Research, companion animals can alleviate loneliness, anxiety, and depression in a way that humans — and even modern medicine — simply aren’t able to do.
Sophie comforts a patient at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough, Maine.
“Hospice care is all about making the most of the time we have when dealing with end of life,” said Hospice of Southern Maine CEO Daryl Cady. “For our patients, connecting with trained therapy dogs can help normalize and reduce the anxiety of being away from home.”
That’s no surprise to dog lovers. And as these types of programs become more common, animals may take on greater and more esteemed roles in institutions that were once reserved for imperfect two-leggers.
News: Guest Posts
Prompt park officials in Arizona to ban dogs
The city of Phoenix is now banning dogs from hiking trails when it hits 100 degrees at the parks.
Under the pilot program, which went into effect July 1 and runs through Sept. 1, someone who disobeys the rule could be cited for a Class One misdemeanor, be fined up to $2,500 and receive up to six months jail time. Phoenix officials say they are emphasizing the educational aspect of the program and not the punitive measures.
Phoenix has some of the largest municipal parks in the country with 15-mile trails that cut through desert that is beautiful but shadeless during the summer.
Summertime temps in the metro Phoenix area can easily reach 110 during the day and stay warm throughout the night, hovering around the mid to upper 80s. In 2015, there were 88 days when daytime temperatures were 100 degrees or higher.
Although the parks open at sunrise, it is not uncommon for runners, hikers and cyclists to be on the trails even during the hottest parts of the day. Already this year, six people have died on area trails and there have been reports of dog deaths but no statistics are kept in that area. Frequently, dogs who are overtaken by the heat are taken to nearby vets or emergency-animal clinics for care.
In 2011, three dogs died on trails in the nearby city of Glendale. The only way the city knew about those deaths was because its fire department was called to help the dogs. “For everyone incident reported, we believe there are dozens of animal fatalities that we don’t hear about,’’ said Sue Breding, Glendale spokeswoman.
Kristen Nelson, DVM, a Phoenix area veterinarian, said one Labrador recently came into her clinic with a temperature of over 107. The dog’s owners had taken him hiking at 2 p.m. during the day when it was over 100 degrees outside. The dog had collapsed on the trail and died two days later after many of his organs gave out.
In many southwestern cities like in Phoenix, dogs can overheat at any time of the year, says Aaron Franko, DVM, at BluePearl Veterinary Partners.
At end of February, he had a Labrador mixed breed dog come in who was suffering heat stroke. “It was a very warm day,’’ Franko said.
“People don’t realize how fast dogs can get overheated and into trouble,’’ he added.
All dogs can be bothered by the heat but some types are pre-disposed to problems, Franko said. Those types include short-nosed breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers as well as dogs with underlying heart disease, older dogs and those with thicker coats.
If it is warm outside, people need to bring water for their dogs and if it is hot, they need to avoid taking them out at all, Franko said.
He estimates that his central Phoenix emergency clinic sees five or more heat-stressed dogs a week. “And we are just one emergency clinic here.’’
Many veterinarians say that the summertime heat danger to dogs can’t be emphasized enough to people with pets. The Arizona Humane Society says it can easily receive up to 50 a calls a day during the summer for animal rescues and investigations. Up to half of those involve animals who don’t have enough water or shade to deal with the heat.
Phoenix city officials believe this may be one of the few times municipal trails have been closed to dogs because of heat. Many U.S. national parks prohibit even leashed dogs on trails because the dogs may endanger themselves or area wildlife. Parks from Portland, Ore. to Maine have closed dog-friendly trails for various reasons including protecting the ecosystem and safeguarding nearby livestock.
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
The most beautiful images of all
Photographer Nancy Levine sees beauty in old dogs, and in her new book, Senior Dogs Across America, the rest of us can, too. Levine photographed her own dogs constantly, and as they aged, she was inspired by the grace and dignity of their changing bodies. Having developed an interest in such dogs, she spent over a decade seeking out elderly dogs to photograph.
Levine traveled around the United States asking friends, veterinarians, rescue groups and sanctuaries about old dogs she could photograph. Her goal was loftier than a book of adorable pictures of dogs. She wanted to compile photos that showed dogs’ individuality and emotional expression. Avoiding close-ups, she chose to photograph dogs in their environment, whether that was out in the fields of South Dakota and Oklahoma, or on the streets of Manhattan and Baltimore.
Some of Levine’s subjects were stiff and had trouble moving, but others at the same stage of life still ran energetically. The beauty of these dogs is in their uniqueness, which comes down to their personality, expression and behavior as well as their physical appearance.
Levine’s has a special love for older dogs, and all her images, from the cover photo all the way through the book, reveal it.
Cecilia, 12, Baltimore
Murphy, 10, Connecticut
Red, 12, Connecticut
Lolli, 15, San Francisco
Bottom to top: Phyllis, 12, Logan County Rescue; Englebert, 9, Denver Dumb Friends League; Loretta, 12, Denver County Shelter; Eeoyore, 14, Denver Dumb Friends League; Enoch, 5, Denver.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
The annual fireworks tradition doesn't mix well with pets.
Fireworks are a favorite summer ritual, but for those of us with dogs, these light shows can result in traumatized pets. We just passed the peak time for fireworks, Fourth of July, but shelters around the country are still dealing with the aftermath. The week after the holiday is a busy time for animal shelters. San Diego area shelters alone reported 90 dogs that came into their shelters on Monday night, many of which are still waiting to be claimed.
It's our responsibility to make sure our dogs are safe, and that means making sure that they're secure if they might be afraid of loud noises. I was viewing a fireworks show last weekend and was surprised to see so many people who brought their dogs. As it turned out, one pup ended up panicking and ran very close to the area where the fireworks were being lit. It didn't look like the workers could see him, so they didn't stop. Fortunately the dog was not hurt, but it really underscores how dangerous this situation could be.
This week in Atlanta, Georgia, a man was charged with animal cruelty when a video surfaced online of him lighting fireworks close to his dog. Even if it wasn't intentional (which is still being debated), it's important to know where your pets and kids are if you choose to light fireworks.
These light shows will continue throughout the summer, so it's important to be careful and keep our dogs safe.
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