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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

Monday, July 16, 2012

Training Tips - General Training

Training every dog is a different challenge, but some general guidelines apply to just about any pup.

1. Always keep treats on hand
      This is probably one of the most, if not the most, important rule of training. Just about every training i've spoken to has recommended this to ease and accelerate training, especially with stubborn or independent breeds such as the Shiba Inu. You should keep a high value treat (something that your pup really enjoys) on hand when doing any kind of training. This works extremely well with potty training, as your pup will be a lot more inclined to do the action correctly when treats are involved.
     There are literally over one hundred different brands, flavors, and types of training treats. I won't recommend any specific brand here, as we've had success with multiple brands and flavors, but be sure to check the ingredients of any treat before you buy to verify that all of the ingredients are pet safe and your pet's stomach can handle them all.

2. Be Consistent
     Another important rule that, if followed correctly, can greatly ease the process of training. This point was proven by Ivan Pavlov's classical conditioning experiments in the early 1900's. Consistency is key in any form of training, as consistency implants the behavior/reward cycle into your dog's memory, which is exactly what you are working toward with any type of training. Consistency will prevent your pooch from getting confused about the importance and your opinion of the action.

Learning to Sit

3. Catch 'Em Early
     Starting with training early on can mean the difference between training your pooch and struggling for what seems like an eternity to hopefully teach your dog a lesson. As puppies, canines are far more impressionable, so they are much easier to train and condition. Catching them early means that you have many more options for training your pup and much more time to reinforce these lessons.
     The other side to this is that if taught improperly or if taught the wrong lessons at this stage, your pooch can become a danger to themselves or other pets or people. At this stage, a training mistake can be corrected if caught early enough with little to no impact on your pup's life.

These short but important guidelines can make training your dog at least a little easier on you and on your pooch as well.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Little Explorer

The Shiba Inu is known as a curious breed, so it should come as no surprise to any owner that they would absolutely love to explore. They love to get into anything and everything they possibly can. They will end up in places that you never thought possible, like small crevices, inside of boxes, in your trash can (and i mean inside of it), or even trapped under a pile of stuff in the back of the closet. If there is a possible way to get there, they'll figure it out.

Marou is quite the mischevious one, as he will get into just about anything and try to play it off as if he didn't know we were watching him the whole time. In addition to the typical "Mine!" attitude of the Shiba, he seems to think that he can just get into whatever he wants then look cute when he gets caught and everything will be fine. He's quite the spoiled little Shiba, but his exploration does provide Josie and I with some high quality entertainment.

Exploration of new things or changes is perfectly fine and honestly quite entertaining as long as you make sure to pay close attention to your pup while he/she does it. Satisfying these natural curiosities is part of what helps make our dogs better adults and better behaved canine citizens overall. Keeping you pup out of mischief while he/she is exploring is priority number one, as this is the best and simplest way to keep your pup safe and sound.

Luckily, the closest thing to mischief that Marou gets into is try to run toward the neighbors who are terribly afraid of dogs and trying to play with every animal he sees (including strays). He loves to try to explore at night, but all that happens is that he gets startled by every little leaf that he steps on and every little thing that moves. He's a little scaredy-dog, or as a friend of mine would say, "His bark is worse than his bite."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Beggars Can't Be Choosers

We've all had to deal with our pooch begging or trying to steal our snacks and meals. This behavior is usually  started by offering your pooch food from your plate or table food in general. Once they are given table food, they generally develop a preference for it over kibble and sometimes even over dog treats.

Table food can be given as an occasional reward for good behavior, but should not be given by itself, as it can lack many essential nutrients needed by dogs to grow and maintain a healthy immune system. Some owners prefer to give their pups a full diet of raw or cooked meat without any kibble, which by itself can be lacking in many areas, so dietary supplements are necessary to give all of the necessary nutrients. We prefer to feed Marou a kibble diet with supplements to help with a few of the deficiencies of kibble, like omega fatty acids and probiotics.

Stopping the begging behavior can be incredibly difficult if it is allowed to continue for too long. One of the simplest and probably most effective ways of doing this is to give your dog a toy like a Kong or another puzzle toy with a delicious treat in it to keep him/her occupied and not whining or sulking by the table. Another possibility is to keep him/her secluded behind a baby gate or other structure to keep him/her out of the room while you eat. If you must have them in the room and don't want to give them food or a treat, you may tether them to a large piece of furniture or other heavy object.

We try to feed Marou when we eat, as it usually keeps him occupied enough that he doesn't beg or try to steal our food. We do occasionally offer him a bite of our food if we have done our homework and know that it is one hundred percent safe for him and he's been very good lately. Sometimes this doesn't even work because Marou catches on to the fact that we are just trying to distract him, and he totally ignores all other food and treats.

Although begging is a nuisance, it can possibly be destructive with bigger dogs, as they can accidentally break things or hurt people to get to the food they're after. Early training resulting in prevention or minimizing of the behavior is important in making your canine a good citizen and keeping your meal times pleasant.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pucker Up!

Every dog owner loves a good doggie smooch every so often, but little do most of us know that our lovable pooch can actually transmit several diseases.

Dogs that tend to scavenge while out on walks or out doing their business are far more likely to pick up bacteria from items that they find on the ground and transmit them to their owners or other animals that they may come into contact with throughout the day.

Dogs that come into contact with large amounts of other animals or bugs are also highly likely to carry diseases that could be harmful to humans or other animals. Other animals, especially in areas where diseases besides rabies are less regulated by local authorities. In areas where pets are required to have more vaccinations, this is less likely to be a problem, but it should always be taken into account.

Typical doggie kisses are fine as long as you keep a close eye on your pooch to make sure he/she isn't picking up any gross little pieces of food, feces, or other foreign matter and eating or playing with it. It's also a good idea to give your pooch a drink of water beforehand just to keep his/her breath in check as well.

The old adage "A dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's" is not necessarily true, but with proper action, you can prevent your pet from spreading many diseases to you and keep your healthy, affectionate relationship thriving.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Down, Boy!

Dog aggression is very common in all of the Spitz dog breeds as well as some other families. Aggression is probably the most misunderstood trait of any canine. Aggression is commonly dealt with in the wrong way, as many dogs show aggression as a sign of dominance over an not-so-confident owner or intruder.

When you make quick movements, your dog may be startled, and he/she could nip or claw at you. This can understandably startle you, causing you to draw back, which teaches your dog that aggression is ok. Though aggression is totally natural in dogs, it is our responsibility as owners to teach them that it's not ok to be aggressive toward people or other animals.

One of the most common ways to stop this behavior is with a "negative mark", which is a behavior that your dog learns to associate with negative opinion. Put simply, it means "don't do that". These are usually actions that startle your dog or interrupt the behavior while it's being performed. The most widely used of these is the classic "Bad Dog!", but others are "No!" or "Stop That". Feel free to get creative as long as it gets the point across.

Actions such as loud claps also work well for interrupting bad behaviors, as they can startle your dog and cause him/her to associate the behavior with the loud, undesired noise.

Positive reinforcement for doing the correct behaviors in situations with negative stimuli are also a definite must to reinforce your training efforts and keep your dog on his/her toes (er...paws).

These can be treats or petting or even a quick trip outside to reward him/her. Whatever you do, make sure to always reward your pooch for good behavior, as this is just as important as stopping bad behavior.

With aggression, one of the biggest things to remember is to not withdraw when the situation arises, but never offend your pooch either. This can cause even deeper issues than simple aggression.

As with any training method, the situation dictates your exact actions, but these guidelines should aid in dealing with aggression and other undesired doggie habits.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


     Every dog has a favorite bone that they love to chew on. Marou's new favorite bone is actually a cow hoof that we bought from our local pet boutique as a treat for being good while we were out in town one day. He has thoroughly enjoyed his new bone, and it has lasted him quite a while for a chewing bone. 

     The Issue with giving any dog a bone to chew on is to constantly watch them while they are chewing it, as ingesting large amounts of bone can cause digestive upset resulting in possible vomiting. The uncooked, unbleached bones are better for dogs, as they don't splinter as easily and they aren't treated with the harsh chemicals that the bleached bones are. Cooked bones tend to splinter very easily, and this causes digestive problems as well as possible bleeding in the digestive tract.

     Organic bones and cow hooves are a great treat for almost any dog, and they can be filled with spread such as Kong's Stuff'n or your choice of wet dog food and frozen to make an almost irresistable treat for any pooch. 

     After your pooch finishes cleaning out the bone or hoof, politely take it from them, rinse out any residue, and pat dry to save it for later use.

     The main downside that we have found to giving your dog organic bones (and probably any bone) is the smell. Our house smells like a pasture when we give Marou his cow hoof to chew on. We haven't found any way to avoid the smell, but we only let him chew it for a few minutes at a time, so it doesn't get too bad.

     Lamb ribs make a great substitute to avoid the smell associated with hollow bones and still give your dog a neat treat. Good ones will come with just a little bit of meat and fat scraps on them, which dogs seem to love to gnaw and pick at for hours, and after the meat is gone, the bone can still be used as a chew toy because of the oils and scents left behind. Extra care must be used with any rib bones, as they tend to splinter easier than thicker bones. They are also easier for your dog to break and swallow, so monitoring his/her ingestion of the actual bone is very important.

Deer antlers are another type of bone treat that seem to get dogs super excited. The good ones will have a decent amount of marrow in the center that your dog could spend hours trying to get out, which is a blessing when dealing with dogs who like to get destructive when bored. Marou will chew on the antler as long as we will let him and never get bored of it because he gets just a little bit of reward with every bit of effort. He has spent countless hours chewing on it over the time we've had it, and he still runs right to it as soon as we bring it out for him.

No matter the type of dog or bone, the important thing is to always pay close attention to them when they are chewing. Any dog can be potentially hurt by a stray bone splinter or shard that gets lodged somewhere it shouldn't be, but, if monitored properly, a bone can become your dog's new favorite treat.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Power walking

Walking is a critical part of any dog's life, but it can also be a huge nuisance if your pup doesn't understand who's the boss.
To emphasize this, it's necessary to start as early in your dog's life as possible. This way, no matter the potential size of your dog, they are conditioned to not resist, or in some cases to not resist as much.
The methods to this range from fairly simple to extremely complicated, and everyone has their own way.
We have tried multiple training methods to get Marou to behave on a leash, though most have had little effect other than making him mad or irritating him.

First, we tried to stand still until he quit pulling on the leash, but all that did was frustrate him and tire us out. He also got choked a lot by his harness from all of the pulling and jumping to get away. This startled everyone around us and worried us because we didn't want him to hurt himself. 

Next, we tried using slight leash tugs, and that had some significant results. This didn't give us any results at first, but as he has matured he has responded better to it. It's very important not to tug or jerk too hard on the leash, as doing so may choke your dog or even cause serious irreversible damage depending on the harness or collar used.

We've also tried simply picking Marou up and bringing him back inside when he doesn't behave, but we had little result with this, as he just got mad and got into trouble and destroyed some of our things.

There are many more methods than what I've posted here, and there are new methods created all the time, so everyone will have their own opinion.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Predator vs Prey

The Shiba Inu breed is known to have a fairly aggressive prey drive which makes having smaller animals or children around them a bad idea. They are known to stalk small animals such as birds, squirrels, and rabbits obsessively. They usually do well with larger animals and people as long as a pecking order is established early on and dominance is continually expressed by the owner or larger animal.

With Marou, we haven't had a whole lot of trouble with his prey drive besides it interfering with training. He 
likes to get distracted very easily by anything that looks like easy prey. This complicated his potty training at first, but we eventually managed to calm it down enough to maintain his attention. This required a lot of diligence and perseverance as well as a few bags of doggie training treats.

The prey drive can be a complicated obstacle in training, but if dealt with properly, can be little more than a mild nuisance in the long run. As with any obstacle, the best way to avoid it being a problem in training is to remove the invading stimulus or remove the dog from the situation. With smaller breeds like the Shiba, you can simply pick them up and take them inside or into a different room to avoid the stimulus. This technique can also be used to show them that action on the stimulus will result in the end of playtime or walk time. With larger breeds a little more effort is required, as most owners aren't able to just pick up a large dog and carry him/her for more than a couple of feet without resistance. One of the simplest ways to get any dog's attention is with treats, but if not carefully used, they can teach your dog the wrong lesson or simply the opposite of what you are trying to train them.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Wiggly Hugs

Marou has recently hit "doggie puberty" and with it has come the phenomena of humping and leg lifting. The leg lifting hasn't really been much of a problem because he knows everything inside is his territory and there's no contest for it, so he only really marks outside.
The humping or "Wiggly Hugs" as some of Josie's friends have dubbed it, has been a little bit of a nuisance because he doesn't like to just stop. He does it constantly until either he gets tired or something else catches his attention.
We have partially succeeded in redirecting the behavior to another object (a throw pillow), but getting rid of it is going to require getting him neutered, which we are hoping to wait until right around his first birthday to do.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Puppy Paw-dicure

Some pups have problems tolerating yeast in their food or dietary supplements, and this can cause them to have yeasty or "frito" smelling feet. This can cause them some annoying itching and irritation. They may chew on their paws or rub them on rough surfaces to attempt to ease the itching. 
This can cause them even more problems such as broken nails that could be extremely painful or cuts and such on their pads. This can result in an infection that may or may not go away on it's own.
We had a problem with this, and we searched all over the internet for a solution. This biggest suggestion was to change foods, but even then the smell and itching continued, so we had to take other measures.
Josie found a simple solution to soak a pup's feet in to alleviate the smell and itching .

It consists of:
1 tbsp peppermint per gallon water
1 cup distilled vinegar

Soak your pup's feet in the solution for 10-15 minutes no more than once per day. Repeat as needed.

When we used this with Marou, we didn't use the vinegar because we didn't have any on hand, but the solution worked great without it. It only took a few soaks to relieve his itchy feet, and they haven't been a problem since.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Social Networking

Socializing Marou has been a large part of our lives since he arrived in february. We have done our best to expose him to as many people and animals in as many situations as possible to help him establish a friendly demeanor. The trick has been not to just openly expose him to everything, but to expose him and reward him for good behavior while disciplining for unwanted behavior.
As a result, he has become a not-quite-model citizen, but he is quite well behaved. We are still trying to break him from jumping on people, but we have socialized him to the point that he doesn't bite or bark unless his prey drive is triggered. He does like to "talk" to new people, though, and they love it.
He has the usual "look-at-me-i'm-cute!" Shiba attitude, and since he's unique in this area, people absolutely adore it. 

Patiently Waiting to Go Outside

Ruff Housing

As a Shiba Inu, Marou can be very aggressive when excited or startled, which can be fun for people who like to be rough with their dogs or to train them as guard dogs.
The Shiba Inu is not the kind of dog i would care to make into a guard dog, though i do like to do a little rough housing with him from time to time as a reward for good behavior or using the potty outside.
I have to be very careful so as to not get hurt badly or hurt marou in the process, as he is a little guy and he bounces very well.
Josie and I have been pretty diligent about teaching him to calm down when we accidentally get him a little too excited. It's always helpful to have a 'safe command' (to make the dog stop/sit down or lay down) for rough play just in case your pet gets a little too aggressive, especially in larger canines.

Comes in different colors and works wonders for keeping pups occupied

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Marou's Day Out

A few months ago we decided that it was time to take marou to his first big social event. The event was called "Bark In The Park", and it was hosted at our local recreational park by a few vendors and charities. There were kiddie pools to keep the dogs cool.
Marou was extremely excited to see all of the other dogs and people. So much so that he relieved himself in the middle of the path. It took him a while, but he got accustomed to all of the action and had a blast meeting other dogs and people.
We also signed a petition to hopefully get a dog park in the area.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Shibas are known to be an independent breed, though some are known to be affectionate. Marou can be the biggest cuddlebug i've ever met. He can't stand to be without josie or myself around for even a minute, and if we are in separate rooms, he will run back and forth to check on both of us.
His favorite spots to nap are all right next to Josie and I, and a lot of them are on us. He loves to cuddle up next to Josie when she lays down, and as a puppy he would lay on top of us to nap or just to relax. 
We have no idea why he is so cuddly, but we wouldn't change it for anything.
Maybe he's the 1 in a million.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Fox and the Toad

One of Marou's favorite outdoor activities is to stalk small animals and bugs. The amusing part is when they stop running away from him and move toward him. I would never think that this 20 lb dog would be startled by a 3 oz toad that is less than 2 inches tall. He will hop like a bunny when startled by even the smallest prey.

After a few minutes of hunting, Marou usually gets bored and goes about his business and proceeds to relieve himself/mark his usual territory.
As amusing as it is to see Marou hunt, Josie and I have to keep a good watch on him because he has already had an intestinal infection from eating/drinking something that he found on the ground.
While the sport is fun, safety must always come first.