Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Toy and Food Aggression in Dogs- A.K.A. Resource Guarding

I have had people ask me if it is normal for their dogs to become possessive over food and toys, and yes it is to a point, but it can become a problem if the dog is allowed to get away with too much which prompted me to post this article that I found online. One thing with Cockapoos that people need to be aware of is that they are smart, super smart, and that leads to some easy training but can also lead to some bad habits if their owner does not properly guide them or lets them get away with too much bad behavior, especially at an early age:

Dog Resource Guarding
by Andrea Arden

Resource guarding can be described as the propensity of some dogs to maintain possession of or guard particular things. These can include, but are not limited to food bowls, toys, territory, and people. Dogs displaying guarding issues will often freeze, growl or snap when approached, when you attempt to take an item away, or while being touched. In the worst case scenario a dog may go beyond these warning signals and actually bite.
Guarding things they consider valuable is a very normal, natural and necessary part of dog behavior. After all, survival is often based on being able to successfully get and hold onto things such as food. People guard resources as well, including houses, cars, and jewelry. However, for a dog to live safely and happily in a home he or she needs to clearly understand that guarding from people is not only unnecessary but also inappropriate.
Some dogs seem to have a stronger genetically based propensity towards resource guarding than others. But, as with most behavior issues, it is usually a bit of nature and nurture that plays a part. Some dogs guarding issues also seem to stem from the simple fact that they have been allowed by their people (albeit inadvertently) to guard things. For example, a young pup who is allowed to consistently grab things and run off to the corner to chew on them may well come to think that doing so is his or her right and if someone tries to take something back a battle of teeth on hands may ensue.
We all love our dogs so much that we usually give them just about everything they want in life for free. They can jump on us or the couch for attention, they have a basket of toys at their disposal, we serve them meals and water even if they jump madly about barking at us. In some of these cases a dog who is temperamentally inclined and is allowed to be pushy may make for a dog who basically takes control of what he or she wants in the home.

So, it is important to be careful not to 'kill with kindness.' That is, not to indulge your dog to point where you allow a potentially serious behavior issue to develop. Any dog will be even that much more loveable when they have a clear understanding not to guard resources from people.
As with any behavior problem, it is always easier and safer to focus on prevention rather than cure. If your dog is already presenting signs of having a resource guarding issue it is advisable to seek the assistance of an experienced, reward based trainer to help you in person.
In order to prevent resource guarding issues we need to condition our dogs to not only tolerate, but actually like something that doesn't necessarily come naturally to a dog. In this case, to respond promptly when we request them to give up objects.
Management - Management is a way of preventing problems from being practiced but also a way to help your dog understand that you control a valuable resource, i.e. his access to you and your home. Management is something we practice everyday in many ways with our dogs, including in the form of walking them on leash to keep them safe. When working on preventing behavior issues, management should be used intensely at first and then may gradually decrease depending on your dog's progress. For example, once you feel confident your dog is happily releasing things when you ask him or her to, you may choose not to use on leash supervision anymore (assuming your dog is housetrained and doesn't have other behavior issues you are also trying to prevent or resolve).
1. On Leash Supervision: When you are home and can supervise your dog keep him or her on a leash tethered nearby or while you hold it or step on it. This way you have a gentle and effective means of maintaining control. For example, if your dog is off leash and grabs something inappropriate to chew on you would have to chase after him or her to get it back. This scenario is likely to reinforce many inappropriate behaviors including playing keep away from you and guarding.
2. Short Term Confinement: When you can't your dog let him or her rest quietly in a crate, exercise pen or pet safe room.
3. Controlling Resources- Perhaps the most important part of any training protocol, controlling the things your dog wants in life is the first step in getting him or her to understand why paying attention to you and figuring out what you want is important. A dog that gets everything he or she wants in life for free is likely to have a hard time understanding why you (and listening to you) are valuable. Doggie resources are:
-Life Rewards (anything else you can think of your dog wants such as walking out the front door, being allowed to play with other dogs, sitting on the couch, etc.).
Get control of all of these things by not allowing your dog free, unlimited access to them and use training skills such as sit, down, come, etc. as a way to show your dog how to earn what he or she wants. That is, ask him or her to sit before getting a tummy rub, to hand target before getting dinner, to shake before going out for a walk, etc.

Training - Once you have focused on developing good management skills as outlined above you are ready to move on to working on specific anti-resource guarding exercises as a preventative.
1. Chew Toy and Bone Sharing - With your dog on a leash present a chew toy. Offer the chew toy to your dog to investigate and chew on for a moment while you hold one end. After a few moments, take it away and offer your dog a tiny, tasty treat from your other hand. As you progress with this game you can let go of the chew toy and gradually allow your dog to chew on it for longer before you take it away and give a treat. This is a simple, but wonderful interactive game for you and your dog. By continually taking objects away and replacing with an object/toy/treat of equal if not greater value your dog is sure to look forward to you doing so.
2. Food Bowl Bonuses - When you have time, hand feed your dog at least part of his or meals. This way you can put a bowl on the ground with a few pieces in it, reach to take it away and offer a piece or two from your other hand. You can also reach towards the bowl as after you place it down and toss in some food. You should also work with bonus, high value treats that you can offer occasionally when you reach towards the bowl.
3. Practice in Many Places, with Many Things - Playing these trading games as many times as you can in as many different environments and with as many different things as possible is a great way to help your dog learn to want to share everything!

Andrea is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers and a Certified Pet Partners Team evaluator for the Delta Society and the AKC's Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. She is the Director of Andrea Arden Dog Training in New York, and was named the best dog trainer in New York by New York, W, Time Out, Quest and the Daily News. Her website is located at http://www.andreaarden.com and she can be reached at 212-414-9597. You can follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/andreaardendogtraining.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Andrea_Arden

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting a Pet~ Are You Really Ready??

It is important to me that my puppies go to good homes so there are a few things I would like you to think about before you adopt a pet whether it be from me or someone else. To begin, analyze your life style and ask yourself if you have the time, patience, money, and ability to properly care for an animal. Ask yourself if you would be willing and able to take care of a 2 year old child at this point in your life because they would be very similar to what you would be dealing with if you brought a puppy into your family- If that answer is ‘no,’ then it’s not the proper time to get a pet.

Puppies and animals take a lot of work!! No matter how much time and attention a breeder has given a puppy when they raise them you, as the owner, still have a ton of work to do once you get them home. Ask yourself if you can deal with potty training. How will you react when your puppy goes to the bathroom on your brand new white rug? How will you handle getting up in the middle of the night to let your puppy out for a potty break? What will you do with your puppy during the day when you are at work and they need to go outside? Do you have what it takes to put in the time and effort to get them properly potty trained?

Ask yourself if you can afford proper care and vet bills. Generally the first year is the most expensive when adopting a new pet. My Cockapoos come home up to date on their vaccines and de-wormings but they still require additional vaccines as they grow, additional de-wormings, additional vet checks, getting spayed/neutered, their rabies vaccine, and any other preventative care you or your vet desire.  Can you afford it if there is an accident and your dog needs to have emergency surgery? Can you afford it if an unexpected health issues appears? Also ask yourself if you are willing to pay for extra, unexpected expenses that could occur at any time.

On top of medical care animals require healthy food, toys, beds, grooming, supplies, treats, and most of all lots and lots of attention. Ask yourself if you are financially able to provide what is necessary to keep them healthy and happy and if you have the time to reciprocate that unconditional love they will endlessly supply you with.

Ask yourself if you have what it takes to put in the time and effort to properly train a puppy. Can you afford puppy classes and do you have time for them? Animals need to be molded into the type of animal you want them to be. If you want a fun loving, outgoing, and friendly animal you need to make them that way. Take your puppy for walks, take them to social events, expose them to kids, have friends over to visit, take them for car rides to mold them into what you want them to be. If you leave a puppy in the house all day and don’t put in any effort to train or expose them to things don’t expect them to just become the puppy of your dreams on their own. Ask yourself if you have what it takes to change an unexpected or undesirable character trait. What if your puppy doesn’t like your husband? What if your puppy chews on the table? What if your puppy develops toy aggression? Are you willing to put in the extra time and work that it will take to change bad behaviors? Are you willing to potentially pay for a trainer to help you change those issues? Most of all, are you willing to accept that you may be the reason for certain bad behavior and not only work on training the animal but also training yourself to be a better parent to them?

After thinking about all of the questions stated above finally ask yourself if you are willing to make a 10-15 (average) year commitment to an animal? I’ve said this before and I am sure I will say it a thousand times more but an animal is not an object, they are a living, breathing being with emotions, needs, desires, and unconditional love- they are not to be disposed of when things are inconvenient to you or if they have not become the pet of your dreams overnight. If you are currently renting an apartment that allows pets what will you do if you have to move, will the pet come along or will you get ‘rid’ of them because it’s too hard to find a new place that allows pets? What happens if you lose your job, have kids, get a divorce, move out of state, or decide you want to travel for awhile? It is not fair to bring an animal into your home if you are not ready and willing to commit to them for life. I understand that situations do happen but I have seen over and over again that people simply dump an animal at the shelter because they were too much work, didn’t turn out as expected, or just got inconvenient for them and that is not fair to the animal and not what I want to happen to my puppies. 

Please be sure that you are able to take on all the responsibilities, good and bad, of owning a pet and are truly willing to make a lifelong commitment to them before adopting one.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Homemade Nutty Bacon Biscuits

Nutty Bacon Biscuits

3 slices of bacon
1 egg
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup soy flour
1/2 whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat germ

-Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
-Fry the diced bacon until crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the crispy bacon but save the fat and allow it to cool slightly (2-5 minutes.) Slice/dice the bacon into little pieces to mix into the recipe.
-Add the egg, peanut butter, maple syrup and water to the bacon fat and mix thoroughly.
-Add in the flours and wheat germ and mix until combined. Stir in the crispy bacon pieces.
-Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thick. Cut into desired shapes, I have cookie cutters but also use small spoonfuls if I am in a hurry.
-Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until they are lightly browned.
-Cool the biscuits and spoil your babies!
Makes about 6 dozen 1" diameter treats

Please remember that this recipe is for treats and they should be fed in small quantities. It is important to feed your pet a healthy, well balanced diet high in protein and low in fat.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

What Are Dew Claws?

Take a look at your hand and focus on your thumb, a dew claw can be considered a dog's thumb, it is higher up on the paw, has a toenail, and never reaches the ground like their other nails do.  Dew claws are located on the inside of the front paws and some extra special dogs even have them on their back paws but it is not very common.

When calling about a Cockapoo puppy people often ask me if I remove the dew claws and the answer is no, I do not remove them, and do not see a need to. Because dew claws do not touch the ground their nails do not get worn down like the other ones do, hence their need to be monitored and clipped more often than the other nails. Some people simply do not like to maintain or clip their dogs nails so they remove the dew claws, usually when the puppies are first born, or when their pet is getting spayed or neutered. Sometimes dew claws do not grow properly, they can dangle or grow inwards resulting in them getting caught on things or snagged, so it is important to monitor them and if you see an issue it would be a good idea to discuss it with your vet.

The reason I do not remove dew claws is because my dogs have theirs and I have never had any problems with them, I view it as an unnecessary cosmetic surgery (just like tail docking.) I do monitor my dogs dew claws on a regular basis and clip them as needed.
Removing a dew claw is the equivalent of amputating your thumb, during the surgery the vet will remove the entire toe and claw and your dog must wear bandages during the healing process. Most people choose to have this procedure done while their dogs are getting spayed or neutered so that they don't have to go under anesthesia more than once and they also save on multiple trips to the vet.

When you first get a puppy that has their dew claws I suggest keeping an eye on their paws for the first few months, if you don't have any issues with their dew claws I do not see a reason to remove them. If you find that they are abnormal, floppy, or getting tangled on things then I suggest discussing it with your vet to see if they should be removed. If you do keep them make sure you clip them on a regular basis.

Interested in adopting a Cockapoo puppy? Please visit my website:

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Spaying and Neutering your Dog~ When and Why?

There is a lot of preparation involved with getting a new puppy and talking to your vet about getting them spayed or neutered on time is very important. Spaying is the term used for Females and Neutering is the term used for Males and the general age to have this done is between 4 to 6 months old. With Males it is less invasive and cheaper, their testicles are removed and they go home and are told to limit their mobility for awhile. With Females it is a surgical procedure and more expensive than neutering a Male, Females may spend a night a the vets office and will go home with stitches and also have limited mobility for awhile. Some Females are bothered by their stitches and have to wear what is called an "E" collar to restrain them from licking and biting at their stitches. Depending on what type of stitches your vet uses your dog may have to come back to the clinic two weeks after being spayed to have them removed while other vets use internal stitching that dissolves over time and do not require them to be removed.

Benefits of Spaying a Female:
Unspayed females have a higher risk of developing uterine infections that can be fatal, called Pyometra.
Unspayed females have a higher risk of developing uterine and ovarian cancer, while a female spayed before her first heat cycle has almost zero chance of mammary cancer later on in life.
Unspayed females have 'heat cycles' every 6 to 8 months where they become moody, have bloody discharge, and can also develop an unfriendly odor that most people don't want throughout their house.
When an unspayed female is in 'heat' a male 'stud dog' can detect their smell from miles away and will do whatever he can to reach her which can then result in unwanted puppies, injury, and potential disease spread to your dog during breeding.
Spaying a female before she reaches her first heat cycle can also eliminate the risk of breast cancer.
Spaying a female prevents unwanted puppies and helps control the animal population, keeping them out of overcrowded shelters.
Pet license fees are generally higher for pets that are not fixed.

Benefits of Neutering a Male:
One of the biggest 'fears' people have about adopting a Male puppy is that they think he will spray urine and 'mark his territory' all over the place. This is true IF he is not neutered on time. I tell everyone that adopts a puppy that it is vital to get their animals fixed on time, especially with a male so that their hormones don't kick in and they don't pick up stud like behaviors. If you do wait too long to get your male fixed some of the stud like behaviors that they can develop may not go away if you do eventually get them neutered.
A male that is neutered on time does not develop behaviors that a stud will: they won't mark their territory, act aggressive, fight with other dogs, hump your leg, or run all over the countryside trying to find females that are in heat.
Neutering a male dog can help prevent enlargement of their prostate gland, testicular cancer, hernias, and tumors.
Neutering a male of course prevents unwanted litters of puppies and protects them from potential disease and injuries they can get during breeding.
Neutering a male prevents unwanted puppies, helps control the animal population, and keeps animals out of already crowded shelters.
Pet license fees are generally higher for unfixed pets.

In general spaying and neutering your pets can lead to a longer, healthier life with a milder and more predictable personality. The cost to have the procedure done may seem expensive at first (shop around and compare prices at various vet clinics,) but it's not nearly as expensive as treating Cancer or other issues that may arise in a pet that hasn't been fixed.
For anyone on a tight budget there are generally low cost spay and neuter clinics available in larger cities, please ask your vet or local shelter for more information.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Phythiosis "Swamp Cancer" in Dogs

It is very common for customers to keep in touch with us after they adopt one of our Cockapoo puppies, and we really appreciate it, we love to see how the dogs grow and develop over time, and even if someone calls with a quick question we hope we are able to help in any way possible. A few weeks ago I had a customer call for some advice, his family had adopted a puppy named Linus from us two years ago and was encountering some health issues. Linus had lost his appetite, was throwing up, had diarrhea, and was lethargic so the family wanted to know if I had any ideas or advice as to what was going on. First we started off by going over the things the family was doing to treat and diagnose his issues. I asked if he had been taken to the vet, he was, and I wanted to know how the vet was handling the situation. When your pet develops health issues it is very important to be sure your vet is educated and doing the proper treatment. I wanted to be sure that Linus was being properly treated so I asked if the family had submitted a stool sample for testing, if blood tests were being done, and if lactated ringers (IV fluid) was administered to help him stay hydrated. Thankfully all the answers were 'yes,' and I was confident that the family, and their vet, were doing exactly what they should to try and find out what the problem was.
Since I am not a vet we just spoke about his symptoms and current treatments so that I could possibly come up with fresh ideas and offer any advice on what I thought what going on. I asked if they had changed his food, they had not too long ago, and their vet also changed it again to try and help battle his vomiting and loose stool. I asked if anything had changed in their household that he may be having a reaction to: new carpet, new cleaning products, did a pest control company treat their house or a close neighbors, had he been exposed to any new dogs recently? All of this was to try and help the owner see if any recent changes to the household or their activity could be affecting Linus. From all the information I was given I thought it would be a good idea to do an allergy test and also to test Linus for Lyme's disease. Their vet also thought that allergies may be affecting him and had rushed a blood sample to the lab for allergy tests. I asked that they keep in touch on the progress and let me know what they had found out about Linus.
After repeated visits to their vet and then a specialist Linus was determined to have contracted Phythiosis, otherwise knows as "Swamp Cancer," and unfortunately had to be put down. Of course I was very upset to hear the news and felt very bad for the family, they certainly were not given enough time to enjoy their wonderful puppy. I had never heard of Phythiosis so I went to work doing research on this potentially fatal disease and wanted to spread the word so that people become more aware of it and be sure to test their dogs if they develop any symptoms.
What is Phythiosis?
Phythiosis is an uncommon fungal infection that can occur in dogs, horses, and also rarely in cats. It is derived from an aquatic mold called Phythium Insidiosum that can be found in stagnant water. It is most commonly found in swampy/tropical areas of the Southern United States but has also been found in the Central Valley of California (Linus lived in Florida.) It generally enters the animals system through their sinuses, esophagus, or wounds on the skin and is most active in Fall or early Winter months where the fungus can thrive in ponds, wetlands, and swamps.
Symptoms and Types of Phythiosis:
There are two types of Phythiosis: Cutaneous and GI. Cutaneous causes non healing lesions on the animals legs, head, tail, neck, and inner thighs. These lesions eventually cause tissue death where the skin turns black and wastes away.
GI Phythiosis is more common and what Linus suffered from. GI Phythiosis affects the dogs digestive tract and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, fever, and abdominal pain. GI is a chronic disease and it will cause the walls of the stomach and intestine to thicken.
One of the most scary parts about Phythiosis is that it is a relatively new and emerging infection that many vets may not be aware of. The symptoms caused by GI Phythiosis are often caused by lots of other ailments so your vet may not immediately consider, or be aware of this, and not test for it until it's too late, which was what happened with Linus. To test for this your vet can take a swab sample to be studied with a microscope or material can be cultured in a lab for study and testing. A blood sample can be sent in for testing, a urine sample can be tested, and an ultrasound can also be done to detect thickening in the walls of the intestine or stomach.
The sooner you get treatment the better, if the disease is not diagnosed in a timely manner it may be too late and unfortunately this is what happened with Linus. For the Cutaneous form of Phythiosis affected tissue will need to be surgically removed and any remaining, affected tissue will need further treatment via laser to kill any remaining fungus. For the GI type of Phythiosis your vet may choose to put your dog on Anti-Fungal medications but results may be minimal and can severely affect the liver and kidneys so regular blood tests will be required. Another, newer option, is an immunotherapeutic vaccine that has been approved by the USDA to treat Phythiosis, as soon as your dog is diagnosed as having Phythiosis it is important that they are vaccinated to help their immune system fight against the disease. Dogs may also be given anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and boost their appetite which will also help their immune system to fight against the disease.

I hope I never have to hear about another dog contracting this awful disease, please spread the word to your friends that have pets and also ask your vet if they are aware of it and hopefully we can help spread the word and avoid a late and fatal prognosis.

Since this was my first time ever hearing about Phythiosis I had to do a lot of research online and found the following websites to be very helpful:



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Health Insurance for Your Pet

Last week my 10 and 1/2 year old kitty, Abbey, started breathing abnormally and I knew something was very wrong, it was late at night, my vet's office was closed, so I grabbed my phone and started video taping her so that I could show my vet the next morning what was going on. Once we got to the vet's office he told me that it looked like she had pleural effusion- a build up of fluid in her chest cavity which could be a sign of heart disease. We did some imaging of her at his office, did some blood work, and the next day I took her to a specialist to do an Echocardiogram ( a test that uses sound waves to create images of the heart,) and in less than 24 hours I had spent $1,000 simply trying to figure out what was wrong with her. Don't get me wrong, she's worth every penny and I will continue to work on treating her but this brought up the thought I just recently had about Pet Insurance. I have lots of pets and do not have any form of pet insurance but have often been curious about it to see if it would benefit me or my customers in any way. Since I have had pets all my life I, unfortunately, have also lost them over time and have spent quite a large amount of money giving them the best care possible before it's time to say goodbye. For those of you who have only a few pets I think pet insurance is something you may want to consider. In doing my research I have discovered that there are tons of companies out there and very specific things that you should look for before purchasing a plan to be sure it is the right one for you. Here are a few things that I have discovered, hopefully they will help you when shopping for a plan:
There are two types of pet insurance plans available out there- Lifetime and Non-lifetime. A lifetime plan is exactly what it sounds like, a plan to cover your pet over the course of its life. A non-lifetime plan is on an annual basis that needs to be renewed, the catch with them is that if your pet has had a health issue in the previous year they may not cover it in the future when you renew your plan, think of it as a pre-existing condition, it can be excluded from any future payouts.

When shopping for a plan always be sure that they cover your breed, and if they do, see if they charge extra for one particular breed over the other. Some plans also have age limits, they may not allow a puppy to be covered until it is 8 weeks old and then they may also terminate coverage after a certain age to avoid the costs of elder care.

If you have multiple pets ask if they offer a multiple pet discount, it doesn't hurt to ask. Also see if they have a free trial period or a money back trail period if you are unhappy with what you get.

Most, if not all, plans will have some sort of deductible. Make sure you are clear about whether it is a straight forward deductible or if it is a per incident deductible. I noticed that one plan I was looking at had a $100 per incident deductible so if your pet has multiple different things wrong at the same time they may count those as individual incidents and you may have to pay $100 for each one to be taken care of.

See if the plan you are looking at has a cap on the amount of coverage. Some plans will only pay out so much and then you have to pick up the rest while other plans do not have limitation on spending. Also see if the plan excludes coverage for genetic or hereditary issues. If you own a breed that is known for something like hip dysplasia and the plan doesn't cover that then it may not be the right one for you. Plans also do not cover pre-existing conditions so if my kitty Abbey is diagnosed with heart disease I can't call up and insure her tomorrow and expect them to cover the cost of her care for that.

Check to see if the plan you are considering is one that just covers accidents or illnesses or if it also covers routine care like vet exams, vaccines, dental care, etc. Some plans that only cover accidents or illnesses also offer routine care coverage but it's an extra expense.

Finally see how you submit a claim and how the company handles payment. Some companies I looked at require you to pay the vet out of pocket and then you have to file a claim and wait for them to reimburse you. I would check to see if some allow the vet to directly bill them, and if they don't and you have to pay up front, see what the average wait time is until you get a check back from them.

There are a lot of companies out there with a wide variety of options to choose from. One website that I really liked is: www.petinsurancereviews.com
It gives real reviews and ratings from actual customers on a ton of different plans. It also has links to pet insurance websites so you can take a look at what everyone has to offer. I also found a website called: www.topconsumerreviews.com/pet-insurance
which also gives reviews of the top rated pet insurance companies. Do your research to see what options are out there and also read the customer reviews to see how they feel about the plans.

Here are links to what seemed to be the most popular pet insurance providers:
24 Pet Watch- www.24petwatch.com
AKC- www.akcpetinsurance.com
ASPCA- www.aspcapetinsurance.com
Embrace- www.embracepetinsurance.com
Healthy Paws- www.healthypawspetinsurance.com
Pet First- www.petfirst.com
Pet Plan- www.gopetplan.com
Pet Premium- www.petpremium.com
Pets Best- www.petsbest.com
Trupanion- www.trupanion.com
VPI- www.petinsurance.com

If you love your pets like I do then they are family and having an insurance plan can really help out in a time of need.