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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Den Dwellers

Virtually all dogs are descended from wolves. This is obviously apparent in the majority of the Spitz breeds, but almost all breeds show major traits inherited from wolves.

Den dwelling is one such trait. Most dogs will gravitate toward cool, quiet, dark spaces to rest or sleep. We can attempt to recreate these characteristics in the house or even a single room to coerce our pooches into relaxing and calming down. simply turn off the lights, and keep the door open to the room of your choice, so that your pooch feels invited and not confined or cornered. If you like to keep your house cool, it's a definite plus for your pooch, as it allows them to keep a cooler body temperature and to feel more comfortable when it is time to relax.

If you decide to crate train your pooch, the object is to have the crate viewed as the den. Keeping it cool and comfortable to minimize your dog's anxiety is your main objective. Anxiety will lead to difficulty with training and misbehavior in most dogs. The dark and quiet should help to avoid some of the anxiety.

As always, the trick is to just know your pooch, and adapt your strategies to their personality.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pest Control

     There are multiple forms of pest control for your pooch, such as topical medication, pills, chews, flea collars, and even some natural remedies. Different methods work better for different dogs, so your first choice may not be the most effective or the healthiest for your pooch.
     Topical medications can get into your pet's digestive system if they are prone to cleaning themselves often, as many Shiba Inus are. This can cause a range of effects from mild digestive upset to severe poisoning  requiring a vet visit. If your pet is a diligent cleaner, be sure to avoid these if at all possible.
     Flea and tick control pills are an excellent alternative for pets who are prone to grooming themselves or just for owners who aren't comfortable with topical medication. Usually given once or twice a month per month, these pills come with a list of side effects that would surprise even the most experienced pet owners. Most of these side effects are fairly uncommon, but they still do happen occasionally, so they must be taken into consideration.
     This is our preferred method with Marou, as we can hide the pill in a piece of cheese or a scoop of yogurt, and he never realizes it's there. He does get some lethargy, and it occasionally makes him sick, but it is the best of all the flea prevention methods available in our area.
     Chews typically share most of their characteristics with pills, but they are typically flavored favorably to entice your pup to eat  them instead of needing to be hidden in food or treats.
     Flea collars are a time-proven method of flea control, but compared to the methods of today, they are fairly spotty and unreliable. They do work quite well at repelling fleas on smaller dogs, but on bigger dogs, other methods may be far more effective and reliable.

     Natural remedies will fit in better with some of today's "greener" households and environmentally conscious families. Some of these methods are proven to work, while some of them are simply rumors with no proven effectiveness. Certain plant leaves and scents are said to repel fleas and ticks, and some people will swear by these methods. I have never tried any of these methods, simply out of contentment with our chosen method's effectiveness and convenience (I must mention the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.")

     It may take you some experimentation to find your preferred method of flea control, or you may get lucky, as Josie and I did with choosing a method for Marou. Either way, this is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Coconut oil is known to be an excellent supplement to improve a pup’s skin and coat, and many dogs go crazy over the taste. Not to mention, it can also freshen up the room if you don’t care for the smell of dog food. Just a teaspoon per day is enough for smaller breeds, while larger breeds may require up to 2 or more. Many dogs will eat it by itself, but it is best when mixed in food or water to allow for easier absorption into the body. As an added bonus, coconut oil can be used by people as a nutritional supplement for skin and hair health, lowering cholesterol, relieving stress, regulating blood sugar, promoting weight loss, and relieving kidney problems in some people.
                If coconut oil isn’t readily available in your area, or if you would simply prefer not to have to mix the oil into your pup’s food, coconut chips or pure shaved coconut are great alternatives. Shaved coconut can be given as a treat by itself or sprinkled over food to give an extra layer of flavor for your pooch. Be very careful to get only pure coconut, not the shredded/shaved coconut used in baking, because pure coconut doesn’t contain any of the extra sugar or other additives that make the baking-style coconut taste so delicious to people. Those extra additives and sugar can cause a lot of harm to, or even kill, your pooch.
                Used properly, coconut oil can be an excellent addition to both yours and your pet’s diets (especially if you don't care to use fish oil or someone in the house has an allergy to it.). As with any supplement, it is just that, a supplement. It is not a replacement for any other part of yours or your pet’s diet.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Doggie Stress 101

     Doggie stress is a huge part of any canine's life. It can cause various adverse effects on your pup's health, such as immune system issues, decreased appetite, vomiting, and other potentially self-destructive habits. Some stress is useful as a good motivator, but in large amounts, stress will cause the aforementioned array of health issues and sometimes more.

     Decreasing stress can be accomplished in a variety of ways including medications, the widely popular "ThunderShirts", and even some good old-fashioned training. We prefer not to try medications unless absolutely necessary, as Marou is sensitive to many substances already. Training has done very little to help, so, with recommendations from a number of friends and acquaintances, we are going to try a thundersthirt to hopefully ease Marou's stress, and I will be posting a review when we finally do get one.

     Stress in many canines is situational, with kennel anxiety and separation anxiety being the main complaints from owners who I've met. Both of which are very difficult to overcome without professional help. "Crate games" have been known to help with kennel anxiety to an extent, but they aren't a definite solution, nor are they always a practical solution. One very important thing to remember when it comes to kennel anxiety is to never use the kennel as punishment to avoid the negative idea that it could give to your pooch. The only cure i have found for separation anxiety is company.

     As with anything concerning your pooch, you are the final authority on any decision, and you are always free to get creative with your remedies for common issues.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement

     We've had Marou on an Omega-3 Fish Oil supplement for approximately a month now, and it has improved his skin and coat health dramatically. It has alleviated his sensitive skin greatly. He also likes to play will the caplets like little toys.

     We find it easier to get him to eat them if we poke a hole in them with a needle or snip a small piece off with a pair of scissors to allow the oil to seep out. He will squeeze the oil out by himself if we open up a hole for it.

     Now that he has learned that the delicious oil comes from inside the caplet, he is a lot more willing to eat it and thoroughly enjoys it.

     Since starting him on the supplement, we have noticed that his coat is shinier and softer, and his overall health has improved every so slightly. The only downside to the fish oil is that it does expire, and it can expire before you realize it. No one wants to taste expired fish oil, after all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Trimming Claws

     Whether you're a do-it-yourself-er or just wanted to see if you could trim your dog's nails, we've all been met with some resistance in this area.

     Josie and i prefer to trim Marou's nails, as nobody else can seem to get him to calm down whatsoever once we leave to room, and we don't want him to hurt anyone. We have a few tips that should help any dog owner with their anxious/rebellious pooch not to mention a few recommendations for products to help a little bit with some common problems in puppy and dog nail clipping.

     We actually use an infant nail clipper to trim his nails and an emery board to file his nails to a gentle, rounded tip. Because Marou's nails are clear, we can see exactly how far we can clip his nails without causing him any pain or bleeding. It's always a good idea to keep some styptic powder on hand just in case if you plan on clipping your pup's nails.

     Our trick to getting Marou to cooperate with us when we trim his nails is to have a small bag of kibble handy. We feed him a piece or two at a time just to keep him distracted, and he doesn't struggle or resist  us at all.

You're not getting that thing near me!

     You can also try to pet or maybe even play with your pet (don't move around too much) to keep him/her distracted as well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Training Tips - Bad Behavior

While many of us dog owners have been lucky enough to not have to deal with a lot of bad behavior, there are some who, for whatever reason, are not quite so lucky. The following are a few tips for owners with less-than-model pooches:

1. Never Hit Your Dog
     This seems simple enough, but it's surprising how many people i've seen that will physically hit their dog as a punishment for negative behavior. Not only does this actually do the opposite of what it's meant to, it can make the dog aggressive toward people in general. An aggressive dog is a danger to all around him/her, and if it gets too bad, animal control may be forced to get involved. There is always a better way to reprimand a dog than physical violence.

2. Speak With Authority
     Dogs can sense when their owners are weak willed. When giving your pooch commands, speak with a firm, dominant voice and look your pet in the eye to help establish your dominance in the pecking order. It's surprising how much of a difference a dominant, confident voice will make in training or reprimanding a dog. Some dogs misbehave simply because they feel that they are the authority in the house, so they do what they please which we see as mischief.

You called?
3. Turn Away
     Attention is an excellent motivator for most, if not all, dogs. Dogs look to their owner for approval with everything they do. Your attention can heavily influence whether or not your dog repeats a behavior whether they receive treats and other rewards or not. When your pooch does a positive or desired behavior, always be sure to give him/her plenty of attention and praise, but on the contrary, if he/she is misbehaving you need to look away and avoid giving them any attention long enough for them to calm down and if necessary use a dominant "No" to stop them in their tracks.

Hopefully these tips will provide some insight to the owners with mischievous or disobedient pooches