5 Kinds of Dog Aggression: #GetTough on Dog Fighting

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Images courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

April 8th is DOG FIGHTING AWARENESS DAY, and I’ve written about this before. It’s a good time to review the 5 common kinds of dog aggression and what to do. According to the ASPCA, dog fighting happens all over the country and in all kinds of communities–rich, poor, middle class, it doesn’t matter, it’s there festering just beneath the surface. When fight rings are located, cases are built, offenders are prosecuted, and abuse survivors find loving homes.

Patrick Stewart lends his voice to the cause, seeking to help the ASPCA educate as many folks as possible about this cruel sport. Yep, can you believe it? it’s considered a SPORT by fight proponents. #GetTough on Dog Fighting campaign offers free information and ways for all animal lovers to get involved.

DOG FIGHTS AFFECT ALL PETS & PEOPLE

Hey, dog fighting isn’t just about one breed. It impacts ALL dog owners–and cat lovers, too, because dogs are trained to fight by “practicing” on other animal victims.

http://shojai.com/genre/thriller/Spectators even bring kids to the fights to introduce them to the sport. *wiping eyes* The thought makes me weep with anger. That’s why my 3rd pet-centric thriller SHOW AND TELL shines a light on this dirty practice (and for once, the bad guys get appropriate justice!).

While breed bans might suggest that “dog aggressive breeds” are at the heart of this issue, let’s get real here. All dogs, even the one snoozing on your lap, may from time to time act in an aggressive manner. The fight industry exploits and perverts canine behavior for its own ends. Still, it’s important for all dog lovers and even those who do NOT have dogs, to understand what’s going on with “aggression.”

Barking dog

5 Kinds of Dog Aggression

Here’s the deal. Aggression is a NORMAL part of being a dog, and while dog-on-dog aggression is more prevalent in some breeds, ALL dogs have the potential to fight and bite. Aggression can arise out of pain or health issues. Growly dogs believe they have a good reason to aggress (they often do!) whether owners agree or not.

Aggression can be complicated and require professional help, but here’s how to recognize 5 common types and learn how to keep the peace.

dogs playingPlay Aggression looks scary but dogs tell each other it’s just pretend by using gestures like the play bow (butt up, front down). Puppies learn to inhibit bites when they play with other dogs, and owners also can teach limits.

If the mouthing hurts, YELP like another puppy. Whimper and say, “You hurt me.” Immediately after you yelp, give the dog a 10-minute time out—no mouthing allowed—to teach him that hard bites make the fun stop.

Predatory Aggression includes stalking, chasing, catching and biting like in play, but predatory dogs won’t play bow—they’re deadly serious. Joggers, bicyclist, and moving cars and cries of young children, babies and smaller pets can trigger prey drive.

Predatory behavior may go away as the youngster grows up, but keep targets safe with strict supervision. Identify triggers (like joggers) and avoid them. Teach dogs to control natural impulses with obedience drills. A “happy” word the dog can’t resist (ball, cookie, ride) can often change the dog’s attitude and interrupts the behavior.

FearChihuahua_1541404_originalFear Aggression results when a dog can’t escape a scary situation. Caged, chained or cornered dogs often bite out of fear. Snarls, growls or bites make the scary “thing” go away, which rewards the dog so she’ll repeat the behavior. Reaching for the scared dog’s collar almost always prompts a bite, because a hand descending toward the head looks threatening.

Avoid petting on the top of the head. Instead, pet the dog’s sides or chest. Don’t stare, which can intensify intimidation. Play builds confidence, so teach “fetch” while avoiding tug-games that can encourage fear biting behavior. Use pheromone therapy such as Comfort Zone with DAP to help calm fears.

Territorial aggression typically involves herding and protection breeds. Dogs bark, lunge and growl at the fence or doorway, and are rewarded when the mailman, new dog, or your fiancé goes away. Conspire with visitors so the outcome changes.

Have the mailman toss treats to the dog, but without making eye contact or saying anything. Once the dog quiets to munch the treat, the mailman can say, “Good Rex!” and walk away. He should NOT walk away as long as the dog barks and lunges. If Rex ignores the treat and continues to bark and lunge, then YOU call the dog and reward him with a treat or toy for coming. The mailman leaves as the dog retreats—so essentially neither won.

solve dog aggression

Learn what to DO about dog-to-dog aggression here!

Guarding Food, Toys, Furniture are all part of dominance aggression. These dogs often object to being restrained—as for nail trims—and the aggression can gets worse with punishment or confrontation. They’re often young intact male dogs who want to call the shots with people, but then tremble or seem to act “remorseful” afterwards. An argument over toys or mealtime that prompts a first instinctive snarl teaches the dog that aggression keeps others a safe distance from important resources.

Dominance aggression can be complicated and dangerous to solve and usually requires a professional. Neutering the dog and managing resources can help. If the dog protects toys, remove them so he has nothing to guard. Require the dog to “earn” privileges by paying with good behavior. For instance, ask him to “sit” (he sits), which earns him what he wants (attention/food bowl/open door/verbal praise). He should get NOTHING unless he earns it by responding in a positive way to your command.

Are dog fights a problem in your community? Have you ever had an issue with aggression in your dogs or in a dog that belongs to someone else? How did you handle it?

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Dog Allergies & Soothing Itchy Dogs

Spring is the SNEEZE season for humans, complete with runny eyes and sinus issues. For dog allergies, itchy skin is the more common sign of discomfort.

dog allergies

I’ve been told by some veterinarians that West Highland White Terriers “put their kids through college…” because of the allergy issues the breed is prone to. Image Copr. Amy Shojai

It’s less common, but runny eyes also may develop–and of course, my Magical-Dawg has to be one of these unusual cases. His eyes began watering back in January, and combined with his acral lick foot itchies, he was miserable. Thankfully, he doesn’t suffer from the all-over itchy skin, hair loss, and worse that our first shepherd suffered. But here in North Texas (and other parts of the country), it’s helpful to understand dog allergies and how to soothe our itchy dogs.

This is simply an overview of the kinds of allergies. For more details, you’ll want your veterinarian to diagnose your dog, and explain what’s needed to help your pet. You can also find more details about pet allergies in my DOG FACTS book.

DOG ALLERGIES CAUSES & CURES

Pets suffer from the same kinds of allergies that people do. Food allergies (probably the least common in dogs) happen when dogs react to certain proteins in the food. Major culprits are meats like beef or chicken–and even lamb, if the dog has eaten it before and become “sensitized.” It can be complicated.

Food Allergies

How do you cure dog food allergies? Well, you don’t…but you can manage them. The first step is diagnosing exactly WHAT causes the reaction and only a veterinarian can do that. See, commercial foods contain a smorgasbord of ingredients, some in tiny amounts, and while you MAY find one your dog tolerates more than others, switching around can be hit-or-miss. It also may confuse things when you’ve then exposed the dog to bunches more potential culprits and reduced the “safe” alternatives that he’s never before tasted.

Drawing of cartoon flea

Fleas are nothing to laugh about

Flea Allergies

Flea allergy is the most common of all. Dogs (and cats) sensitive to the flea saliva can itch all over after a single bite from one of these tiny vampires. Flea allergy also is one of the most easily managed, usually through one of the modern safe flea prevention products. I use Revolution (from the vet) on Magical-Dawg because it takes care of heartworms, fleas and a number of internal parasites, too.

dog allergies

Fleas are more than itchy aggravations and spread tapeworm as well as cause skin disease.

Get details on allergies & treatments.

Inhaled Allergies

Atopy–or inhaled allergies–can be due to pollens, molds, and even dander. Hay fever in people that makes us sneeze instead causes itching in pets. That’s what our first shepherd developed. After we moved from the Ohio Valley region (and its airborne fungus and other “schtuff”) and were in Texas, his health drastically improved.

Could a dog be allergic to himself, or to the cat? Theoretically, that’s possible! But more typically it’s the springtime/summer allergens that drive pets nuts. Wintertime when the furnace comes on for the first time can stir up household dust and set them off again.

Atopy can be the toughest control. It’s seasonal so the signs can lessen during the winter. Dogs absorb grass and dust allergens through the toe webbing in their foot pads, so simply rinsing off poochie feet after the dog’s been outside can help enormously. Also, dogs (and cats) are furry dust mops that collect and carry allergens in their coat–so rinsing ’em off weekly also helps.

Natural Cures for Dog Allergies

There’s a difference between HOLISTIC veterinary medicine and HOMEOPATHY (click this link for some details). For example, omega-3 fatty acids are a holistic/natural treatment that aid skin health and also have some anti-itch properties–so does bathing the pet in an oatmeal-based anti-itch shampoo. A flea comb to get rid of fleas is about as natural as you can get! Homeopathic medications attempt to “wake up” the pet’s own body to deal with and manage the health challenge.

Some dogs benefit from allergy medications like antihistamines. Magic’s runny eyes resolved once we began giving him Benadryl, recommended by our veterinarian. Please check with your pet’s practitioner for proper dosage and what’s safe for your fur kids. And for atopic dogs, simply rinsing them off with water (even just their paws) can help.

Here are some videos that offer some more comments and discussion (yes, they’re a couple year’s old!). There’s also info on OTC treatments for pets. For folks reading the blog, what has worked for your itchy dog? Any further tips you can share? Do tell!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Top 10 Puppy Proofing Tips to Save Dog Lives for National Puppy Day!

March 23 is National Puppy Day! Whether you plan to adopt a puppy, or already live with a cute puppy-kid, it’s important to know the top puppy proofing tips to save dog lives. I’m also formally announcing the re-issue of COMPLETE PUPPY CARE, a new oversize edition with detailed index (print version). Of course, the Kindle version is discounted…and you can borrow for free if you’re in the Kindle Unlimited program.
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WHAT IS PUPPY PROOFING?

Puppy proofing is the canine version of human baby-proofing when a new bundle of joy arrives, and it’s vital you know how to puppy proof your home and yard. Puppies explore their world with nose pokes, paw pounces, and chewing everything within reach.

For your new puppy, everything is a potential game. He uses his mouth the way infants reach out and grab. So tug-games with the curtains, keep-away when he steals your wallet, un-planting the potted palm or eating poisonous plants, and nosey sniffs of the candle flame get him in trouble.

During teething, he’ll want to chew even more to relieve the discomfort, but most dogs love to chew their whole life. Puppies not only damage your property, he could hurt himself or die from munching dangerous objects.

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Think Like A Puppy

Anything that moves, looks fun or interesting, or dangerous will attract your furry delinquent. Get a puppy-eye-view of your home by crawling around on all fours to channel your “inner puppy” –it’s okay, you don’t have to wag or bark, just find and address the dangers. Remember, some pups aren’t really grown up mature dogs until 18 months or so, and even adult dogs can get into trouble. Here are some of the most common trouble spots.

5 POPULAR PUPPY TARGETS

  1. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets often house cleaning supplies that can be poisonous if swallowed. When cabinets are within puppy reach, be sure the baby can’t paw them open. Child-proof latches are a good idea.
  2. Toilet paper is a popular puppy toy. Drinking out of the toilet is another nasty habit that could be dangerous if a small pup falls in and drowns or ingests chemical cleaners. The easy fix is—shut the bathroom door, and/or always put the lid down.
  3. Pups jump up on window sills to look out. That may tempt them to grab curtains or play tug with the cords on the window blinds. Some pups have strangled in these cords so tie them up out of reach.
  4. Waste baskets can be incredibly rewarding for a puppy to pillage. Table scraps to old used tissues can be found so invest in waste baskets with lids, hide them behind latching doors, or set them on counter tops out of reach.
  5. Dirty laundry must smell like heaven to puppies. Concentrated beloved human scent found on worn socks and underwear or shoes can be very appealing. The pillow your head rests on when you sleep also smells like you. So protect the laundry basket, and close the closet door to keep puppy marauders from stealing and chewing shoes, purses or brief cases left on the floor. Puppies may confuse throw pillows with legal chew toys so make it easy for them to tell the difference and put forbidden objects out of reach.

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5 PUPPY DANGER ZONES, BE AWARE & BEWARE!

  1. If you have cats, be sure the litter box is out of reach. Puppies like to snack on poop, especially kitty potty deposits and aside from the unsanitary issue, this will hiss off the cat and cause potential inter-pet problems. Most cats can leap onto a tabletop to find their litter box, which keeps it out of dog range.
  2. Electrical cords tempt puppies to chew. They can be shocked and sometimes even rescue breathing and CPR may not save them. Bad tasting products like Bitter Apple may help but don’t rely on these as some funny canines like the taste. It’s better to keep the cords out of reach by installing baby gates to make rooms off-limits, moving electrical items and their cords elsewhere, or bundle the cords together. Home product stores offer products designed to do this.
  3. Some common house plants are poisonous if chewed and swallowed. Even if nontoxic, your puppy may have great fun gnawing and dragging pieces around the house, or practicing his excavation technique. Either hang baskets or set houseplants on tables out of reach, or throw away if they’re of the toxic variety.
  4. Find a safe place out of puppy tooth range to store cell phone, TV remote or other such objects. If you’re paper training the puppy, remember that the newspaper, books, magazines or music left on the floor may invite puppy potty attention you don’t want.
  5. Puppies also spend time in the yard. Don’t think a fence makes him safe. Puppies can wiggle out of tiny openings or get caught and injured trying to escape. Anything that can be turned into a toy should be put out of reach. Lawn and garden chemicals should be shut in puppy proof rooms or boxes.

What have I missed? Are there DANGER ZONES unique to your neck of the woods? I cover a whole lot more in my book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE, and I’d love to hear what else has been a safety issue for your furry wonders!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

PET POISON! 7 Top Toxins & Pet 1st Aid to Keep Cats & Dogs Safe

Easter Lily poisonous to pets

Easter lilies are highly toxic to pets, especially cats. Be safe this Easter season!

National Poison Prevention Week runs March 20-26, 2016, and is a wonderful time to learn how to protect pets from household dangers. Most cases of pet poisoning are accidental, and preventing accidents and knowing pet poison first aid saves pet lives.

Dogs are particularly prone to poisoning because like human infants, they put everything in their mouths. Cats are more discriminating about what they eat, but contact poison can affect any pet if they walk through something toxic or it spills on fur and is licked off during grooming.

Symptoms vary depending on the poison, amount of exposure, and the individual animal. You may see anything from drunken staggers and collapse, to salivation, seizures, or hyperactivity.

7 TOP PET POISONS & FIRST AID HELP

  1. Poisonings from human medications (both over-the-counter and prescription meds) has become the most common pet poisoning over the last several years. Dogs either gulp down tasty candy-coated pills, or owners give them human drugs without realizing the risks. Cats may play with pills, and accidentally swallow them. Be aware that pets don’t metabolize Tylenol, aspirin, ibuprofen or neproxin (Aleve) the same way people do, and can die from taking them. A single extra-strength Tylenol can kill a cat. Keep meds out of reach in pet-proof cabinets.
  2. Chemical toxicity used to top the list but the safer flea and tick products have reduced the numbers of overdosing. Problems still happen when you misunderstand directions. What’s safe for a dog may be deadly for a cat! Wash your pet immediately if you suspect toxicity, and call the vet.
  3. lilies poison pets

    WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?!!!

    Plant poisonings are particularly dangerous to mouthy pets. Some varieties that can be harmful to pets include lilies, azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, kalanchoe and schefflera. Dogs fall victim most often because of their urge for recreational chewing. But some cats nibble leaves or paw-play with plants and may be poisoned when they later lick their claws clean. Beware of Easter lilies this holiday–learn more here!

  4. Pest baits also tempt dogs and cats, and can poison pets that catch or scavenge poisoned rodents, roaches or snails. The same cereal grains often used in commercial pet foods also are used in rodent baits so dogs may willingly eat the poison. Anticoagulants like warfarin prevent blood from clotting, and cause uncontrolled and fatal bleeding from the rectum, nose, and even the skin. Pest poisons may take 24 to 72 hours to induce signs, but once the dog or cat shows distress, treatment may not be as effective and can be too late. Veterinarians have antidotes for some, and others require gastric lavage and supportive care. Pets may be poisoned by eating dead varmints that have succumbed to pest baits, too.

BEWARE THE DANGERS OF SWEET POISON!

Keep poisonous grapes out of dog reach.

DANGER! Grapes are highly toxic and can quickly kill dogs.

5. Dogs love sweet flavors and often poison themselves by eating chocolate. Dark chocolate and Baker’s chocolate contains higher concentrations of the caffeine-like substance, theobromine, but even eating too much of that candy Easter bunny can prompt a bout of diarrhea and vomiting. Find out more about chocolate toxicity here.

6. Both fresh and dried grapes (raisins) are quite toxic in dogs. The exact poisonous substance that causes reaction isn’t known, and sensitivity varies from dog to dog. No dog should eat any amount of this fruit because even a small dose can be fatally toxic for your dog. Be particularly aware of wild grapes in the yard or fields.

The most dramatic and serious problem caused by grape/raisin toxicity is sudden kidney failure with lack of urine production. For unknown reasons, kidney failure is not seen in all dogs after ingestion of grapes or raisins. Researchers continue to investigate why some dogs die and others are not affected by the poison.

The first signs of distress often include vomiting and/or diarrhea with only a few hours of ingestion. After about 24 hours, you may see grapes or raisin pieces in the feces or vomitus. Affected dogs lose their appetite, become lethargic and unusually quiet. They may suffer abdominal pain, and “hunch” their back from the discomfort. Dehydration develops from the diarrhea and vomiting, but they only pass small amounts of urine. Eventually they stop urinating at all when the kidneys ultimately shut down. Prognosis is guarded, even when treated, and most dogs die once the kidneys stop producing urine. Grape/raisin toxicity is an emergency that needs prompt veterinary intervention.

7. Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol used for sweetening sugar-free products such chewing gum, candy, toothpaste and baked products. It also comes as a granulated powder. Both forms are highly toxic to dogs. Xylitol ingestion causes a rapid release of insulin in the dog, which in turn results in a sudden decrease in blood glucose levels. Depending on the size of your dog, a single piece of sugar-free gum may cause symptoms that result in death. The ingested substance may cause vomiting, incoordination, seizures, or even liver failure. Bleeding may develop in the dog’s gastrointestinal track or abdomen, as well as dark red specks or splotches on his gums. Usually the symptoms happen quickly, within fifteen to thirty minutes of ingestion, but some kinds of sugar-free gum may not cause symptoms for up to twelve hours.

FIRST AID FOR PET POISONING

If you see or suspect your dog has eaten toxic foods or substances, induce vomiting immediately (but only if the dog remains conscious). Take a sample of the vomitus or feces if available to help the doctor be sure of the diagnosis. You’ll find more tips on how to make pets vomit at this post.

If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435. Details on specific signs and treatments of various poisons are also listed in “The First-Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats.” For more information on the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

YouTube ButtonI love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have anew puppy and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Have You Howled Today? Why Dogs Howl & What it Means

Do your dogs howl? Lately, Magical-Dawg has begun howling more often. For northern breeds, dog howling comes very naturally, but for my aging German Shepherd, his howls are more unusual. Oh, he’s always howled when I sing certain notes (everyone’s a critic!), and the coyotes sing a chorus when the tornado sirens sound. This was different.

WHY DOGS HOWL

Magic began a low “ar-ooooo-woo-woo” and slowly cranked it up. This happened early in the morning, before we’d got up. My husband and I figured he needed out–he did–and didn’t pay that much attention to it. But then Magic also howled outside the bathroom door when my husband showered. He came into the room and howled during my shower, too.

This went on for three or four days, just prior to his yearly veterinary exam. We’d been a bit worried about some of Magic’s aging issues anyway (read about his check up in this post). And I now realize I never mentioned the howling to the vet.

But…once Magic was given medication for his achy 10-year-old arthritic issues, the howling stopped. Lesson learned–howling may be MORE than the “usual suspects,” which I cover in the short Ask Amy video, below. Enjoy!

Dogs bark and howl to communicate–so what’s he saying?

Dogs know how to communicate. You gotta go “low tech” to really connect with doggy wags, growls, whines and more. Do your dogs howl? When do they howl–and why? Have you howled today? Try it–for a terrific stress relief (and you might get your canine’s singing along). Lately the tornado sirens have stirred up the canine chorus at my house.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!