Healing Hip and Joint Pain with WagWorthy Naturals

Hip and joint pain affect many pets, especially older dogs. Pets with creaky, achy hips have trouble getting up after they’ve rested for a while. Many dog lovers want to learn how to help a dog with arthritis at home. WagWorthy Naturals Hip+Joint supplements can help ease the pain and increase your dog’s mobility.

dog arthritis supplements

Thank you to WagWorthy Naturals for allowing me to share this sponsored post. I am being compensated to share this information about HIP+JOINT supplements, but BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD only shares information that is relevant to my readers. (Some images provided by WagWorthy Naturals, copyright as noted)

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

Not all limping comes from arthritis. Pulled muscles can cause pain or bruising when the pet overdoes, often with young athletic dogs. These injuries cause acute pain–yelping, sudden favoring of one leg, limping, or holding up a paw. But most often, hip and joint pain results from age-related arthritis or from a congenital joint problem like hip dysplasia.

Pets with hip dysplasia have a distinctive “bunny-hop” gait to relieve discomfort from poorly fitting hip joints. They often develop arthritis early. Very large dogs may injure the shoulder joints. And senior citizen dogs with arthritis act reluctant to exercise, have trouble getting up from a nap, and may stop jumping up because it hurts. While severe problems require veterinary attention, drug prescriptions, or sometimes surgery, home remedies and supplements designed for hip and joint support can slow down the progression of joint disease and help keep your achy dog comfortable and moving.

What Causes Arthritis in Dogs

The joints of the body are the “hinges” between two or more bones that allow movement by providing a smooth, lubricated surface composed of cartilage. A lubricated fluid similar to plasma coats the cartilage encased inside the joint capsule. The firm but spongy surface offers ten times less friction than any man-made ball bearing system. The synovial fluid feeds the joint, and motion of the joint pumps fluid to the cartilage to maintain joint health and nutrition.

Injury to the cartilage from disease, or damage due to bone, muscle, or ligament injury causes pain. When dogs hurt, they favor the injury, limping from shoulder or hip pain. Since the joint only pumps fluid into the cartilage through movement, refusing to move makes the joint even more painful, creating a vicious cycle that causes arthritis in dogs with the joint continuing to degenerate.

How to Help a Dog with Arthritis at Home

The joint only pumps lubricating fluid into the cartilage through movement, so gentle regular exercise helps reduce arthritis pain and keeps pets mobile. Walk dogs every day. You can also inspire reluctant pets to get off their furry tail by placing food bowls at the top of a ramp.

Slimming down overweight dogs removes stress from the joints. Slow down bing-eating dogs that gobble their food (Beagles and Labradors come to mind) with puzzle toys.

Warmth helps loosen up creaky joints, so a heated bed can help. Hip dysplasia or arthritis pain also gets relief from moist heat that helps loosen up the stiff joints. Drape a damp cloth over the hips, and then use a hair dryer to blow warm moist air into the area. For pets that dislike the noise of a blow dryer, microwave a damp washcloth and apply to the sore area.

arthritis in dogs

Shadow doesn’t have arthritis–yet–but supplements from youth onward can help slow the progression. And he BEGS for this like a treat, go figure!

WagWorthy Hip+Joint Supplements: Best Arthritis Medicine for Dogs?

Always consult your veterinarian for the best arthritis medicine for dogs. In many cases, though, an over-the-counter nutraceutical (nutrition supplement) helps with the discomfort.

When Jane Bernard, the founder of WagWorthy Hip+Joint Supplements, reached out to ask me to review her product, I couldn’t–because Shadow-Pup doesn’t have arthritis. I am happy to share information about the supplement, though, especially after reading the great reviews on the site and also the positive reviews on Amazon.

Goobstercars on Amazon writes: THIS REALLY WORKS!  “My 10-year-old greyhound was taking a prescription medication for arthritis that was $90 for a 30-day supply. I started giving her this supplement in October. She has done so much better, that I’ve discontinued the prescription meds. I’m not saying this will work for everyone’s situation, but it really improved Wilhelmina’s mobility and stiffness. She’s actually resumed chasing the younger dog around the yard on a daily basis. I definitely would recommend trying it out. I wish I had put her on this a few years ago.”

Benefits of Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Dog Arthritis Pain

Studies have shown that cartilage-enhancing medications like chondroitin sulfate and glucosamineglycan (GAG), used at a very high dose early on and for the rest of the pet’s life, can slow the development of hip dysplasia. These substances help slow the progression of arthritis by protecting the joint cartilage.

Chondroitin and glucosamine also have anti-inflammatory properties, and can reduce swelling, and that can help with the pain. These supplements are probably most effective in dogs that have only mild arthritis, and don’t prevent arthritis, but can slow the progression of the disease.Cartilage never heals itself once it’s damaged; the cells do not replicate, so these agents just help the body keep existing cartilage as healthy as possible.

Shadow LOVES the flavor. Oh, and Karma-Kat tried to steal the bottle and wanted a “treat” as well.

How is WagWorthy Hip+Joint Supplement Different

There are many OTC supplements for dog arthritis, but they often include grain, fillers, or processed oils (that can promote joint damage). There are no guidelines for sourcing ingredients or proper dosing, so the effectiveness can vary from batch to batch. Many don’t deliver a high enough dose, or are made overseas with little oversite.

  • WagWorthy Hip+Joint includes glucosamine (from shellfish) and chondroitin (porcine source). Chondroitin inhibits white blood cell’s destruction of cartilage, stimulates cartilage synthesis, and helps the absorption of nutrients into the cartilage. But additional ingredients, in the proper combination, offer even more benefits.
  • MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) improves immune function, and is a natural and effective anti-inflammatory.
  • Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in joint (synovial) fluid and provides lubrication and shock absorption for joints. Both arthritis and the natural progression of aging causes a reduction in natural concentrations of hyaluronic acid.
  • Vitamin C: Dogs naturally create vitamin C in their liver, which acts as an antioxidant (sort of a metabolic rust prevention to slow the effects of aging). But stress or illness deplete the body’s supply of vitamin C, which can impact energy among other things.
  • Tart Cherry fights inflammation and arthritis pain because of a high content of anthocyanins – plant pigments in red and purple fruit (especially tart cherries) that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps the body recover more quickly from muscle pain and stiffness after exercise and helps reduce joint tenderness.
  • Omega’s 3 and 6 from Flaxseed, and flavored with chicken livers

Image (c) WagWorthy Naturals

How to Give WagWorthy Hip+Joint

Each bottle contains 60 tablets. You front-load the dose–a double dose in the beginning for the first 3 weeks, with the maintenance dose half that amount thereafter. You can crumble the tablet into your dog’s food, or feed as a treat (Shadow LOVES the flavor!).

Manufacturing: WagWorthy’s products are manufactured in the US in an FDA registered facility. All individual ingredients are of the highest quality and are tested 3 separate times for purity and potency. The finished product is once again tested 3 separate times for potency and purity, enabling us to proudly stand behind our products. We use no harmful fillers or additives.

Jane lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband and rescue dog Ollie, a lab/pittie mix. She regularly fosters usually senior dogs–perhaps one inspiration for the product–and has a background in biochemistry.

Your Turn…

Back to y’all–do you have a dog with arthritis? How do you manage symptoms? Have you tried WagWorthy Naturals? The company donates a percentage of every purchase to a senior dog rescue/programs. And you can Order on the website with Zero Risk. Jane says, “We are confident that this will support your dog’s health. If for any reason you are not happy with your purchase,simply contact us within 30 days of purchase and we will issue a full refund. No questions asked.”

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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

How to Choose the Best Herbal Medicine for Pets: What’s Safe, What’s Dangerous for Dogs and Cats

In today’s world of cutting-edge medicine, we consider herbs for pets and herbal medicine to be old-fashioned. But holistic veterinarians continue to use herbs for pets because many of these plants are the foundation of modern drugs and medications, but don’t cause the same side effects.

Chinese herbal medicine has regained popularity for both human and pet care treatments. I learned a lot about them while researching my book NEW CHOICES IN NATURAL HEALING FOR DOGS AND CATS. And when the vet diagnosed Bravo-Dawg with hemangiosarcoma, I learned about I’m-Yunity, a Chinese herbal medicine treatment shown helpful in veterinary studies of the herb.

herbal medicineWhy Medicine from Herbs Works

Chemicals derived from herbs get isolated to a single ingredient that works quickly but can sometimes be too harsh. The original plant, though, has other components that buffer these effects. For instance, willow bark contains a chemical that works similarly to aspirin. But while aspirin can predispose to gastric ulcers, willow bark protects against them.

Most herbs contain active ingredients within their bark, seeds, roots, and leaves so a single plant could be effective in multiple conditions. For example, slippery elm not only can ease diarrhea, it also will soothe a sore throat. Because they have many active ingredients, but are relatively safe, herbs may be effective even when the veterinarian hasn’t been able to pinpoint what’s causing the problems.

Herbal Medicine and Drugs

Herbs are rarely used by themselves. They work well alongside conventional treatments. However, the chemical components of the herb may interact with the medications your cat or dog already takes. It’s always best to check with your vet about any herbal products before giving them to your pets. Sometimes, using herbal medicine allows the veterinarian to reduce the dose of conventional drugs (chemo, for example), because the herb increases the effectiveness of the medicine.

pet holistic medicine

Available as Ebook, print, and audiobook.

Be cautious with OTC products, as they’re not as well regulated as FDA-approved drugs. The strength of a given herb may vary and be much weaker—or even triple the strength—of the exact same herbal medicine from another company.

Here’s another dangerous scenario. A common drug given for heart problems is digitalis. The herbal remedy for heart problems is hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata). If you give them together they can amplify the effects of both the drug and the herb and create an overdose that could potentially kill the pet.

How to Choose the Best Herbs for Pets

Herbs also come in many forms—fresh, dried, concentrated, or packed into capsules—and the form may be chosen based on the best way to administer to your pet. Even when the active ingredients are the same, herbs have different effects depending on how they’re prepared and packaged.

Bulk Herbs

Apothecaries sell bulk herbs as fresh green plants, as dried or as powdered. Fresh and dried herbs don’t last forever. Look for expiration or harvest dates on the label and give them the sniff test. If they smell dry or musty, they’ve probably given up their essential oils and won’t be as effective.

Store herbs in a cool dark place or they lose strength when they’re exposed to light and heat. Some herbs will react with chemicals in plastic containers, so it’s better to store them in glass, instead.

Liquid Herbal Medicine

Extracts and tinctures are concentrated liquid forms of herbs absorbed quickly by the body. You make teas and tonics by steeping bulk herbs in boiling water or sometimes in alcohol. Once prepared, the liquid herbal medicine easily mixes in a glass of water to pour on your pet’s food or administered directly into the mouth.

Tinctures made using alcohol taste bad, though. Alcohol preparations can be potentially dangerous (especially for cats!). For that reason, only a vet should prescribe herbal tinctures made using alcohol.

herbal pillHerbal Pills, Capsules, and Tablets

Herbal capsules and tablets are just as effective as fresh herbs but are absorbed less quickly by the body. When speedy action isn’t an issue, these are convenient to give to pets easy to pill.

What Else to Know About Herbal Remedies for Pets?

The strength of herbs varies from batch to batch due to differences in climate, soil conditions, and which fertilizers were used. The only way to be sure you’re getting the best quality every time is to rely on a reputable supplier.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cataloged over 80,000 herbs. Choosing the right ones for your dog or cat challenges even the smartest among us. Think of herbs as medicines, so you MUST have a veterinary diagnosis to choose the best herbal medicine for your pet. Then you can ask your vet for a recommendation or seek a reputable source like PawHealer to ask for recommendations for a specific herbal remedy.


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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 Vacation Options: Boarding, Pet Sitters, Stay-Cation?

Good pet vacation plans depend on the individual pet and your special circumstances. This past fall, when my mother became ill and then passed away, we need to find a pet boarding place for Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat to stay. Does your dog love riding in the car, meeting new people at the boarding kennel, hide from pet sitters, or become hyper around strangers? Maybe you’d like to learn about traveling with your pet.

Perhaps Chance the cat enjoys riding in the car but your brother’s dog hates kitties, or Grandma is allergic. Are pets more comfortable at a kennel away from your nephew’s hair-pulling fingers? Or does your pet go on a hunger strike if boarded?

vacation with pets

PET VACATION?

I can’t remember the last time that my husband and I had a vacation together, but I do remember how boarding my dog led to a broken arm (read on for that story!). Since that time, we make an effort to not be gone at the same time. There are times, though, when we must leave them behind, maybe not for vacation but other reasons.

Of course, if your dog suffers separation anxiety, you’ll want to address that as well. Cats aren’t immune to feline separation anxiety, either. And many cats seem to hate vacations and act out during your absence, or after you come home.

I’m very particular when it comes to who I trust to care for my furry wonders. Most pet parents are. It can be tough to find the RIGHT pet vacation service that doesn’t cost a furry arm-and-a-tail or that you don’t have to travel a great distance to find. Here are some options to consider for your cats and dogs.

Generational Difference Impact Pet Parents (And Pets)

A new-to-me company, Trusted Housesitters, conducted a recent survey that revealed surprising results. They compared Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen X & Z generations in how they relate to their animal companions.

Guilty Pleasure-ers: Millennials and Gen Z most willingly give up their guilty pleasures (social media, alcohol, coffee, sleeping in, and their favorite TV show) instead of leaving their pet in an overnight kennel for a week.

Excuse-Makers: Gen X and Boomers are 2x less likely to use their pet as an excuse than Gen Z and Millennials. Gen Z and Millenials are more likely to use their pet as an excuse to avoid social gatherings with friends.

Entertainment Ease: After their pet’s favorite toy, Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to play music to calm their pets, whereas Gen X and Boomers are more likely to turn on the TV. The most popular song mentioned as a pet favorite is “Who Let The Dogs Out?” (not a particularly calming piece of artistry!).

Helicopter Parents: After spending two years watching their pet’s every move, nearly one third of Millennial pet parents have taken to GPS/Activity collar devices to obsessively track their fur babies as they may head back into the office and social scene. I’ve heard from may pet lovers they now use cameras and apps to interact long-distance with their furries. You can learn more about the company to find out if you’d like to become a TrustedHousesitters Member!

pet vacation

“Don’t leave me!”

CATS WANT TO STAY AT HOME!

Some pets enjoy traveling with you on your vacation. Here are tips for teaching dogs to love car rides, and more tips on how to travel with pets here.
Cats typically hate vacations. The best choice for cats, paws down, is a pet sitter. That person can come into the home at least once a day, sift the cat box, check the food and water, and make sure Kitty hasn’t picked the window lock with his rabies tag and escaped into the great beyond. A pet sitter for your dog’s stay-cation works well, too. Learn more about pet sitter options here.

WHEN STAY-CATION WON’T WORK FOR DOGS

Veterinarians may have kennel space available for dogs or cats with health issues that need monitoring. Even if they don’t, ask your veterinarian for recommendations regarding boarding facilities.

Reputable kennels require proof of adequate health care, so get vaccination proof from your veterinarian in advance. The best of these boarding facilities offer home-like environments with sofas, playtime with other dogs, cat trees, videos of squirrels to watch, or even internet access for you to check in on them from the road. Of course, the more they offer, the higher the $$ too, so sometimes it comes down to whether you’ll fund holiday gifts for the rest of the family, or a stay-cation for your pet.

Some dog boarding facilities require animals to be neutered. That’s especially true for facilities that include doggy daycare options for pet interactions. Check everything first.

dog travelBE A RESPONSIBLE PET PARENT, TOO

Whether pets stay in your home or have a pets vacation at the kennel, be sure to leave caretakers detailed information. That should include each pet’s care needs, veterinary contact information, and emergency phone numbers where you can be reached. Leave your pets’ leash, medications and other “must-haves” in an easy access area and show the pet sitter where to find them, or provide them in the kit that accompanies your pet to their home.

Alert the neighbors that a pet sitter or family friend will be coming and going from your home so they won’t be alarmed at strangers in the neighborhood, and give the pet sitter your neighbor’s name and phone number. Talk with your veterinarian about signing a “just in case” authorization for medical care (you can designate the dollar amount). That way, emergency care is available and funded even if you are unavailable to give your okay in person.

I BROKE MY ARM BOARDING MY DOG

You think I’m kidding? Au contraire!

Years ago, we didn’t have many options when we traveled, other than to board our dog at the kennel. He always came home smelling funky like the kennel, too, and needed a bath. Today, of course, many facilities offer bath options before you pick up your furry wonder. That would have changed the outcome.

My first shepherd hated the kennel! Wish we’d had another alternative… Image Copr Amy Shojai, CABC

I gathered materials and persuaded my 70-pound Shepherd to get into the tub of sudsy, warm water. No sooner had I got him standing in the several inches of warm, sudsy water than the phone rang in the next room. Yes, this was long before cell phones…

I told my good-boy to “stay” and turned to go answer the phone. He wanted to follow me, dripping water and suds. Quick-like-a-bunny, I whirled to stop him–

And slipped on the wet linoleum, fell, and landed on one outstretched hand, and BROKE–MY–RIGHT–WRIST!

Now I’m on the floor, screaming (I’ve never felt such pain). A kennel-stinky-dripping-suds dog climbed on my lap, also crying, licking my face, probably thinks I’m dying Finally, I managed to wriggle out from under him, lever myself upright, get to the phone that has since stopped ringing, and call my husband at work to take me to the ER.

CHOOSE VACATION OPTIONS WISELY…

The dog never got his bath. I wore a right-angled cast for six weeks. So boarding my dog not only broke my arm, it killed several writing deadlines. These days, if we ever choose to board Bravo-Dawg, I’ll make sure to include a bath in the services before pick up.

How about you? What do you do when you hit the road? Do you board your dog? Take him with you on your travels? Engage a pet sitter for your kitty? Have you ever broken your arm bathing your dog? Do tell! Rover pet sitters may be a good option!


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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? 

NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Puppy Temperament Tests: Understanding Puppy Testing

Many breeders and shelter workers swear by puppy temperament tests–or they swear AT them! Learn what puppy temperament tests offer, and how best you can use them to find the pup of your dreams. If a new puppy figures in your 2022 plans, take a look at what you need to know about puppy temperament tests.
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What Are Puppy Temperament Tests?

When Magic was a baby, his breeder conducted a series of puppy temperament tests to better predict his future personality. Many professional breeders do this best match each pup to future owners. We won that lottery, in part because Magic was an opinionated, head-strong, smart-aleck pup with test indications predicting he’d make a great Schutzhund dog. Because we’d had a German Shepherd in the past, and my background in behavior, the breeder figured we’d know how to channel that drive. Even so, Magic still nearly drove us crazy when the normal delinquent behavior began! That’s when many dogs lose their homes.

Inappropriate expectations by prospective pet owners are a major risk factor for relinquishment. Owners fall in love with a barking bundle of joy, or a needy shivery stray. They dream of the Lassie-beneath-the-fur, but end up with a headstrong aggressive delinquent, or a clingy anxious pooch that eats through doors. That’s where temperament tests can help, not just for professional breeders, but also shelters and rescues.

Yorkshire terrier

ARE PUPPY TEMPERAMENT TESTS VALID?

Temperament testing strives to be a canine crystal ball to identify personality tendencies and predict potential problems. They measure different aspects of temperament such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness, and the pup or dog fails if he exhibits unprovoked aggression, panic without recovery, or strong avoidance. Once tested, puppies or shelter dogs are matched with owners. Better matches save dog lives and preserve loving relationships.

No test is entirely predictive of behavior in the new home because there are so many variables involved. Personality and temperament aren’t cast in stone at birth. Nature and nurture work together, making predictive tests even more difficult to measure. Early experience, socialization, development and the consequences of learning will all have an impact on behavior. Even the development stages of pups can change the outcome.

When Are Puppy Temperament Tests Conducted?

Temperament tests are typically conducted on puppies between seven and ten weeks of age. But a number of behaviors of personality might not emerge until the puppy matures. For example, a pup born with a slightly anxious temperament develops fearfulness shaped by the environment and experience. This suggests that testing for behaviors such as dominance, activity levels in novel situations and fearfulness might, therefore, have greater predictability after three months of age. The later the test, the more likely you are to get an accurate reading. Of course, by that time the puppy often is already re-homed.

Shelter dogs or others that repeatedly exhibit aggression when touched or approached in a nonthreatening manner, aggression to other dogs, possessive aggression and fearfulness on the screening tests, are at risk for continuation or re-emergence of these problems in the new home. They may develop separation anxiety, for instance.

Testing in a shelter environment adds stress that also skews the results, depending on how long the dog has been in the shelter, age and health of the dog, and more. There may be risks involved to those conducting tests, too, when the dog being tested lashes out–but designing tests that are safe for the tester may skew results as well.

Cute dog kissing a woman - isolated over a white background

How-To Guide for Puppy Temperament Tests

Here are some of the typical tests conducted on the 7-10 week old puppy:

  • Cradle pup on his back like a baby, place a hand gently on his chest and look directly in his eyes. Pups that accept this handling are considered biddable, while those that resist are more likely to be independent-minded.
  • Hold pup suspended under her armpits with hind legs dangling, while looking directly in eyes. Again, those pups that submit are said to have a low score for willfulness, while those that struggle may want to do things their own way.
  • Drop keys or tin pan to test him for noise sensitivity.
  • See how pup reacts to a stranger entering the room–or to being left alone in the room. Does she run and greet, or cower and cry?

Common Puppy Temperament Tests

Tests such as the AKC Canine Good Citizenship Test, STAR Puppy Program, the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT), and American Temperament Test Society are often used to assess temperament of family pets. These often are adult dogs in which the character has already formed. As of August 2019, the American Kennel Club also authorized its own AKC Temperament Test. Such evaluations might include:

  • Accepting a friendly stranger’s petting
  • Walking on a loose lead including through a crowd
  • Basic obedience–sit, down, stay, come when called.
  • Reaction to another dog
  • Reaction to distraction such as dropped chair or jogger running past

More specific tests might then be added to assess a dog’s suitability as a therapy dog, such as how he reacts to wheelchairs, people with canes, or unexpected body postures and movements.

Shelter Puppy Temperament Tests

Shelters often use behavior assessments to determine whether a dog can be re-homed. Failure can mean death to the dog. Although emerging evidence supports the premise that shelter dog assessment tests have some predictive value, many of these tests have not been adequately validated.

The ASPCA uses the SAFER assessment program developed by Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist Dr. Emily Weiss, along with the Meet Your Match adoption programs. Mary Burch, Ph.D., a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, evaluated existing behavior assessment protocols and helped create the ADOPT shelter protocol–Assess Dogs on Practical Tasks. Such behavior assessments often rate such things as:

  • In-kennel and approach behaviors
  • Leash/collar and on-leash behaviors
  • Reactions to petting, handling, play and distractions
  • Reaction to other animals (e.g., dogs, cats)
  • Guarding of food or possessions

Some tests for aggression involve provocation–for instance, using a stuffed boxing glove or Assess-A-Hand (Sternberg protocol) to determine if the dog might bite. A child-like doll or Assess-a-hand may not accurately predict the dog’s response to the human hand or to children, but is safer for the staff during testing. In other words, dogs may willingly attack a fake hand or doll because they know it’s fake–but refrain from biting a real child or human hand.

SmilingPetDog_12329574_original

VALIDATING PUPPY TEMPERAMENT TESTS

Several years ago, child psychologist Margaret Shunick conducted two studies on temperament tests that did validate certain predictive generalities. In the first investigation, she chose a group of puppies that tests indicated would be bossy, willful adults. Half of these pups were given to new owners who were offered no comment or instruction about their personality. The owners given the remaining pups also received advice to teach them to behave with respect by requiring the pups to work for rewards such as sitting for a treat or a meal. The first group of owners given no instructions ended up with pushy, dominant-aggressive dogs. The second group developed into nonaggressive, respectful dogs.

Shunick conducted another temperament test project in conjunction with acquiring her master’s degree at the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy. She used the “Strange Situation” test originally for assessing temperaments of small children, and applied it to puppies. Children and their mothers–in this case puppies and their owners–are placed in a room with new toys. Shunick recorded puppy reaction when owners left the room, and found the pups fell into three broad categories:

  1. Couldn’t care less when owners left or came back perhaps indicating a tendency toward more independent, willful behavior or improper bonding
  2. Superneedy who whined and ignored toys when owners left and clung to owners when present, suggesting overattachment predictive of future separation anxiety
  3. Middle of the road paid attention to owners’ coming and goings, but not traumatized and enjoyed toys, suggesting a healthy attachment and easygoing personality without need of either firmness or coddling.

This work implies there is a way of singling out more pushy puppies, and those that probably would go on and develop separation anxiety. Even when you accurately predict the predisposition for separation anxiety, once in the new home the separation anxiety may fade away–or get worse. That has to do with the OWNER’S temperament.

Should You Perform Puppy Temperament Tests?

NEW-PUPPY-COVER-lorezSo even if you know what the dog’s doing, how can you predict the way that the owner’s going to be able to respond? Should this “driven” puppy be matched with a tough owner, or a kind owner? What about the shy pup? And how do you test the people to make sure? Predicting puppy temperament is only half of the equation, and the human half has life-and-death power over the partnership.

Temperament testing is effective to pick up the main tendencies of a dog especially if they’re extreme. But this also depends on whether people are testing properly. These tests can be abused, or misinterpreted, so the results can be wrong. In the final analysis, temperament testing is only as good as the tester.

Learn more about choosing and raising your perfect furry wonder in the book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE!

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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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!

How to Find Lost Pets

April 23 is National Lost Dog Awareness Day. Last night, we had both thunderstorms and New Year fireworks, and I know some scared pets ran away. Also, with our Shadow appearing as a lost baby I wanted to remind folks on tips to find lost pets. Now, chances are he didn’t get lost on his own, but for many adult dogs and cats that get scared, they run away from the scary stuff.

Whether it’s summer fun, or winter vacation, we often want to include our pets in the adventure. Nothing stops the fun faster than lost pets, so it’s vital to create a pet-safe plan. Thanks to the ASPCA for the fun infographic that can save you heartbreak. Read on for more tips to prevent pets going AWOL and how to find a lost pet.

WHY LOST PETS RUN AND HIDE

Fireworks offer great fun for us—and not so much for the pets. In fact, you can go to this blog for a tips post about dealing with fireworks fears in pets. But what happens if your scaredy cat or dog has already taken off, and gotten lost? A rash of lost pets almost always follows fireworks fun. A safe enclosure and proper fence (learn more here) can help prevent tragedy.

lost pet

Panic leaves no room for thinking. A terrified dog may run for miles, while a cat may hide nearby under the back porch–but remain frozen, unable to cry for help. Pets that may be friendly around you and the house may become so scared, they refuse to come to strangers–or respond to you, because they’re so darned scared.

How can you find lost pets if your dog or cat does the doorway dash or escapes the backyard fence? Even experienced pets may not have a clue how to find their way home, and puppies and kittens are at even greater risk of being injured by cars or picked up by well-meaning people who find them. According to the ASPCA, nearly one in five lost pets go missing after being scared by fireworks.

lost pet

IDENTIFY YOUR PETS!

Identification is vital for happy reunions. Thankfully, today there are many options for providing identification for your pets. Besides microchips (Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat have microchips), you can also invest in tracking collars to keep tabs on your pets. You can learn about one such service on this blog post. That technology had a big role in my pet-centric thriller series, to track down lost animals.

Microchips contain detailed information about your pet in a tiny rice-size surgical glass capsule. It’s placed beneath the pet’s skin similarly to a vaccination. Most pets don’t even notice. Once the dog or cat details are registered to that specific microchip, pet parents can access the information. That’s invaluable should your pet be lost or stolen, because shelters, veterinarians and rescue organizations can “scan” for the chip to reunite you. Some of the best-known microchip sources include HomeAgainAKC Reunite and Avid.

lost cat

HOW TO FIND LOST PETS

VISIT THE SHELTER. People often take strays to the local shelter. Don’t call and ask about a missing Great Pyrenees puppy. Baby dogs often look different from adults of the breed, and the shelter staff may not always know recognize your verbal description. You should visit several times to see if somebody has turned him in, and don’t take the staff’s word for it–insist on eyeballing the dogs. Your white fluffy baby may have rolled in the mud and now look brown, and you’re in the best position to recognize your furry wonder.

ID YOUR PET. July 1st is ID YOUR PET DAY…but this is important all year long. It’s ideal to have your pet wear some type of identification. Up to seventy percent of animals that arrive at shelters have no identification, and as a result a great percentage are euthanized. A metal or plastic tag with your contact information attached to the dog or cat’s collar offers the simplest method of identification. A rabies tag serial number with clinic contact information also helps. People can call the clinic, where they look up the serial number to identify the pet and his owner. Tattoos and microchips are also common and effective forms of pet identification.

BE SPECIFIC. Avoid describing pets as a Labradoodle or “whatever” cross when the combination can vary. Will other folks know what a “silver shaded tabby cat” looks like? (HINT: that’s my Karma-Kat…) Offer specifics: curly chocolate color fur, one ear up and one down, 45 pound neutered male, floppy (or erect) ears, docked tail — answers to “Spiffy” and dances and spins when you say “wanna cookie?”

lost pet cryingTELL THE WORLD

VISIT THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Alert your neighbors to be on the lookout for a lost pet. Kindly pet lovers may take in a friendly stray and watch for “lost” ads in the newspaper before taking them to the shelter. Go door to door, and ask permission to check out buildings, under porches where frightened dogs or cats might hide or become trapped in an infrequently used garage. Holidays, when neighbors leave town, may mean the pet becomes trapped and not noticed for days or weeks.

ADVERTISE. Make posters or fliers to leave with neighbors or at the shelter that includes several photos documenting a close-up of the face, full-body shots from both sides and the back, and any distinguishing marks. Lots of folks have a Labrador or Golden Retriever or calico cat but yours may be the only one with three pink freckles in a triangular pattern on a white tummy. Check with local newspapers about posting “lost pet” notices–often they do this for free. Use social media. Facebook friends and twitter followers organized to spread the word about a lost furry wonder to help reunite lost pets.

TRACKING SERVICES

TRACK HIM DOWN. Search and rescue dogs trained for years to find missing people lost in disasters, or that have wandered off due to illness or simply becoming confused. Today, specially trained dogs also are available to track down missing pets. One example is Dogs Finding Dogs, but you may find similar organizations in your neck of the woods. One time when Karma-Kat got out (EEEEEK!) and he wouldn’t come to us, we put his best friend on a leash, and Magical-Dawg used his excellent tracking skills to find his cat-buddy.

Cats also can track missing pets. And lost cat behavior differs from lost dog behavior. Refer to this excellent resource to become familiar with lost cat behavior, provided by expert Kat Albrecht (yes, that’s her name!). She also has cats that track missing cats. Felines’ ability to climb, and to access tinier spaces that much bigger tracking dogs make them an ideal choice in some situations. In fact, I used the concept of tracking cats in my latest thriller HIT AND RUN, based on this information.

Because a pet’s scent can fade over time, it’s important to contact a tracking dog organization for help as soon as possible. You’ll be asked to provide the pet’s favorite toy, a blanket or brush that smells like him for the tracking dog to scent and know what he’s looking for.

 

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