Thursday, March 1, 2018

Hydrogen peroxide could save your dog's life.

Does your dog ever eat things they shouldn't?
Ahahaha! Silly question.  It's a dog!  The answer is almost 100% surely "yes".
BUT, does your dog ever eat things that could harm them or even kill them?  Not all dogs have this problem (Leopold, for example, is pretty good about just eating food... and grass... and maybe cat poop).  But some dogs just can't help themselves.  Like Halo....

We've always had issues with Halo eating things that she shouldn't.  She's gotten better, but there have been times where she seems like a canine vacuum cleaner for anything and everything within reach: her bedding, sticks, bugs, compost, important bills and documents, cardboard (especially cardboard)....  She knows enough to not eat these things when we're around, but when we're out of site, all bets are off.  It's caused problems and rather large vet bills.

To be honest, it had been a while since Halo had really gotten into anything she shouldn't.  She's even pretty good about not eating sticks now.  But... then the holidays rolled around... 
When I worked at a veterinarian ER, the holidays were always associated with an increase in dogs visiting our clinic because they ate something that could potentially harm (or kill) them.  Human treats containing chocolate and raisins being the big offenders, of course.  This past holidays season was the first year we had this issue with our own dog.

Incident #1 was some fish-leather that I had left out to dry after tanning.  I should have known better to leave the skins so accessible, but the "dog area" is also my work area and I was feeling optimistic because I had been tanning fish skins for weeks and leaving them out to dry in a Halo-accessible area.  But then I came home from a morning of errands to discover all but one of my skins were missing.  There were foul words said, despite being in the presence of my toddler, and I stood there, dumbfounded.  That was a lot of fish-leather she had consumed.  I was worried about risk of blockage.   

Incident #2 was two whole dark chocolate bars -- the really fancy ones that also help save the rainforest.  My husband had done a little Christmas gift-wrapping the night before: chocolate and fishing lures.  And in the depths of Christmas chaos and late-night fatigue, he left them sitting on the coffee table.  Halo helped herself to what, I'm sure, she thought were special Christmas gifts just for her.  Again, I came home from errands to discover she had gotten into something she shouldn't.  Chocolate wrappers and wrapping paper all over the place.  Thankfully, she didn't eat any of the fishing lures, though I was pretty freaked for a bit b/c she had chewed up all the packaging :-O.

Incident #3 was also chocolate -- some really special and fancy stuff that my parents brought all the way from my hometown in Wisconsin.  We got home from some family outing and we had barely come in the door when my husband realized what had happened and shouts to me, "Get the stuff!"  Again, we should have known better, but in the Christmas chaos, we weren't thinking, and the chocolate got left in my husband's office area, which is also part of the "dog area".

Luckily, in all three of these incidences, we were able to deal with the situation fairly easily at home instead of taking Halo to see a vet.  How?  By inducing vomiting in order to force Halo to puke up the offending material.  

Why am I telling you all this?
Partially because I have a tendency to over-explain...
But mostly because I wanted to talk about what you can do in situations like this and why it's a good idea.
The faster you get whatever your dog shouldn't have eaten out of their gastro system, the better.  If you wait too long, it could move on out of the stomach and then require surgery if it's a "foreign body" (indigestible, non-food item), or it could be absorbed and cause toxicity and possibly death (grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate, gum with xylitol, antifreeze, rat poison, etc.....).  There are situations where you might not want to induce vomiting; for example, if your dog ate something needle-like that could cause further damage if brought back up (There was once a dog come into our clinic that had eaten a holiday candy display and had to have a ton of pins removed from it's gastro system. Eek!).
But in most cases, inducing vomiting at home can help save your dog's life or at least save you some hefty veterinary bills.  

So, how do you induce vomiting in a dog at home?
Hydrogen peroxide!

In addition to a turkey baster and measuring spoon, I also use
a bowl of some sort (I grabbed my pyrex this day apparently)
to put the measured H2O2 into.  The turkey baster will most
likely end up with dog saliva on it, and I really don't want that
in my bottle of H2O2.  
A quick google search will tell you to use 1 tsp of hydrogen peroxide for every 10 lbs of dog.  
Halo is about 55lbs, so I used 5.5 tsp of hydrogen peroxide every time I needed to force her to puke.
I also used a flavor-injector syringe (without the needle of course!) or turkey baster.  Anything to get the hydrogen peroxide to the back of her throat to force it down.  
The way I force Halo to drink hydrogen peroxide is squirt it in the back of her throat while her head is tilted up, and then I hold her mouth shut until she swallows.

The hydrogen peroxide will make a dog's mouth a bit foamy, so don't worry if that happens.  If they don't puke in the next 15 minutes, you can repeat the dose one more time.  If they still don't puke, take them to the vet ER.  Do not repeat another dose!  Another dose could cause more problems than do good.  The vet ER will most likely use apomorphine, which gets dripped in the dog's eye and then washed out once the dog has puked up whatever they shouldn't have eaten. 

But if they do puke up the offending material, all that's left to do is let loose a huge sigh of relief and maybe clean up a little puke--I recommend doing all this outside, by the way, but I also recommend either spraying the vomit with the hose to disperse it or grabbing a poo-bag to pick it up.  Basically, you just don't want your dog to re-consume their vomit, which we all know dogs will do.  (Dogs can be so gross...).

I'd say don't worry about memorizing the dosing:  Personally, I can never remember the how much hydrogen peroxide to give and how long to wait.  I always just google it when I need the information.
The important part is to have the hydrogen peroxide and syringe or turkey baster on hand.  If you're a dog owner, I highly recommend you have these things handy in your house just in case.

Hydrogen peroxide is so cheap -- like one of the few things you can still get for a dollar (ok ok, more like $1.50, but still!).  And turkey basters aren't a huge investment either.  Here's one on that's just a little over $5 (at the time of this post, anyway):  Meat And Poultry Baster
And if you're feeling lazy, you could always order hydrogen peroxide from too:  Hydrogen Peroxide Antiseptic Solution 16 Oz
Don't have measuring spoons? First, that's weird... Second, here's some incredibly cheap ones you can do as an "add on" on Prepworks by Progressive Snap Fit Measuring Spoons - Set of 5
And I'm just going to assume you have a bowl or cup or some sort of vessel you can measure the hydrogen peroxide into ;-)

I hope you never have a reason to induce vomiting in your dog, but if such a situation does arise, I hope that now you feel a little more prepared to deal with it!

Convenient product links:


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dean and Tyler harnesses: a step up in harness quality.

You may have seen my post: Walkin' Easy with the Easy Walk Harness.  I've touted Easy Walk Harnesses for years and years and years.  And I still think they're a good tool to help an owner control their dog -- especially large dogs.

However, I've always had problems with Easy Walk harnesses rubbing the undersides of my dogs' legs.  Their skin gets red and their hair rubs off, and sometimes they would even get a rubbed a little raw.  Ouch!  And on Leopold, the straps would also rub his fur off his chest, too.  I ended up adding some fleece padding to help solve that problem, and it worked for the most part.

Then, years ago at this point, we took Halo to see a behaviorist.  While we were there, she noticed the fleece on our harnesses and asked about it.  I explained, and she pointed out that the harnesses rub because they don't fit right.  And the harnesses don't fit right because, lets face it, Easy Walk Harnesses are not high quality.
I'll be honest, part of me was a little miffed because if you go into Petsmart or Petco or wherever and look at their selection of harnesses, the Easy Walk Harness is on the more expensive end...!  (At least they used to be; I haven't been in a Petsmart or Petco, etc in years.) But then the other part of me thought "Oh, duh. That makes sense".
The behaviorist made a recommendation: Dean and Tyler harnesses.  She had some on hand and we tried them out on the dogs.  They looked smart and seemed to fit well.  So we took her recommendation and bought a pair for our pups.

Not only do Dean and Tyler harnesses look smart, but once they're fitted properly to the dog, they do not rub at all.  I haven't had a problem with raw skin or even fur being rubbed off since we switched.

We walk Leopold with his leash connected
to the front of the harness to help control
him if he starts pulling.
Some other nice features about these harnesses: they have multiple locations where you can attach your leash.  You can hook your dog up at the chest, which helps prevent a dog from pulling like the Easy Walk does, but you can also attach a leash to the back or the sides--a "pulling" function if you want to hook your dog up to do some work and pull something around.  There's also a handle, which I LOVE because it means it's really easy to grab my dog, and I don't have to grab them by their neck collar (seriously, how awful do you imagine it is for the dog to be grabbed and yanked around by their neck??).  There's also an option to add patches via velcro to either side of the harness.  Patches can say things like "Ask to pet" or "Therapy dog" or I've seen some that say things like "Lap dog" and "Mamma's boy". Ha!  Mine came with a blank patch, so I made my own with Leopold's name.

The downside is that the harnesses are a bit pricey.  And if you've got a deep-chested dog, you'll need to also purchase an extender piece for the belly (or multiple extenders...!).  Actually... I don't really consider Leopold a deep-chested dog; he seems pretty normal to me, but he needed the extender belly piece.  But you know what they say: buy right, buy once.

We love our Dean and Tyler harnesses and are very happy that we spent a little extra money for a product that works well and is more comfortable for our dogs.

Interested in purchasing your own Dean and Tyler harness?
Here's the product page on the Dean and Tyler website for Universal No Pull Plus, which is what I have.  And then here's the extender strap.
If you want it faster and have Amazon Prime, you can also purchase it from
Dean and Tyler DT Dog Harness.

happy walking!

Convenient Product Link (for

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thank you, Bronwen Dickey, for writing this book.

This is my first post on pit bulls.  I've purposefully stayed away from this polarizing topic because of the intense love or hate infused in many people's opinions.  While I feel for the breed and have long thought them the victims of unfair judgement, I've also been skeptical of the claims of both side of the argument.  Skepticism, of course, is something my science background has ingrained in me, and I've daydreamed for years about doing hard-core research on the pit bull question both to satisfy my own curiosity and to be able to have complete confidence in the factoids I spout to haters and lovers alike.  But who has time to do that kind of research??

Bronwen Dickey made time.
And I am so grateful to her for spending years meticulously investigating the pit bull question and laying out both the facts, the missing facts, and speculation in a way that is logical, non-biased (or at least less-biased...), and very well researched.  Remember my post about looking for references when you do your research?  This book has 35 pages of references in the back under the heading "Notes" and " Selected Bibliography.  She did her homework.

Her book, Pitbull: The Battle over an American Icon, is the best comprehensive look at pit bulls and their role in our society that I've seen.  It is a fascinating and illuminating book that at first seems like the story of pit bulls, but is actually the story of people.  The history and fate of dogs is so intertwined with the going-ons of humans that I didn't even notice.  In a lot of ways, dogs are the result of ourselves as a species.  They are the result of our fears, of our needs, of our hopes.  They exist the way they do because we made them that way.  They are a part of our quest to better ourselves and live a happy and good life.  And their history as a species is a reflection of our own.

The author looks at the pit bull question from many angles: the pit bull's history as a breed, a fighting dog, a beloved pet, and as a scapegoat. And always right there with the dog and all it's histories stands mankind.  It's not really a "pit bull question" then.  It's a "human question".  And that is an important distinction.

The pit bull has been painted as a demon by some and as an angel by others, but really, it's just a dog.  Don't believe me?  Then you should read this book.  I highly recommend this book to anyone, the lover, the haters, the skeptics, and everyone in between.  Chances are you'll learn that at least some of what you thought you knew isn't true.  And besides engaging in pit bull enlightenment, it's a good read.

Check out your local library for a copy, or you can always purchase Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon from

"Pit bulls are not dangerous or safe.  Pit bulls aren't saints or sinners. They are no more or less deserving than other dogs of love and compassion, no more or less deserving of good homes. They didn't cause society's ills, nor can their redemption--real or imagined--solve them. There is nothing that needs to be redeemed, anyway; they were never to blame in the first place. To frame anything in such narrow terms is to look at human-animal relationships through the wrong end of the telescope.  More important, there never was a 'pit bull problem.' What happened to these animals was a byproduct of human fears, and what humans feared most was on another."
~ Bronwen Dickey, Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon

Convenient Product Link:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Doing your own dog research: separating turd articles from gems

And.... six months later I finally have some time to do some writing.  ha-HA!  Holy wow does time fly when life is happening with a toddler...!

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that I would talk about how I do my doggy research.  So here it is.  Better late than never, right?

Why am I writing this post?
For the last post, I did some research on turkey + dogs + pancreatitis + triptophan...
and during my research I came across a lot of bad information.  Real turd articles.  My experience researching the topic was not unique.  In fact, one of the reasons I started this blog, as you may have read on my About page, was to share the conclusions I've come to after filtering out the crap from the mountain of dog-related information out there.

It's funny that I say I filter out the crap, because while in the process of writing this post, I learned that there actually exists a "C.R.A.P." test for evaluating sources (Shout-out to my librarian friend Amy who made me aware of this useful tool!).  And a lot of what I already do is in the C.R.A.P. test, so that's awesome.

And while you could just go check the C.R.A.P. test (and you totally should!), a promise is a promise, so here's what I do when I'm researching information for a post on Leopold's Crate (or when I'm researching information for any reason, really...):

Wikipedia = like asking a really smart friend
Wikipedia can be a good place to start
But the information on wikipedia is populated by anyone who wishes to do so, which means that it's possible that some of the information is incorrect.  I keep that in mind.  Someone once told me that using wikipedia for information was like asking a very smart friend: chances are they know what they're talking about, but it's possible they're wrong.  Information that has a citation (an associated reference) is more trust-worthy, though it's smart to double check that the reference isn't crap.

I try to stick to websites that I know and trust.
But, if I'm unfamiliar with the website, I read the "about" section to see if I can figure out where the information on the site is coming from and/or who is doing the writing.  For exampling, provides articles that are apparently written and approved by petMD's "trusted veterinarians".  That's good.  I am the ever skeptic, though, and know that self-proclamations aren't always trustworthy, so sometimes I also google the credibility of source.  For example, when I googled "credibility of petmd", I found a page on Boston Street Animal Hospital's website that mentions that yes, petmd is credible, but the information isn't always accurate.  (Bonus: the article I found on the animal hospital website has a list of "credible and verified" websites for pet parents to use when researching pet-related stuff).

I look for articles that provide references, especially peer-reviewed article references.
What are peer-reviewed articles?  They're articles that have been through a rigorous process of anonymous and unbiased review by experts in that field of study.  Articles are not published unless they pass the scrutiny of expert peer reviewers and the journal editors.  Peer-reviewed articles are pretty much the gold-standard of credibility when it comes to researching a topic.  A word of caution: there do exist "predatory journals" that appear to be peer-reviewed, but they are NOT and they will publish just about anything, which means their articles are not credible.  Not sure if the reference you're looking at is a peer-reviewed article?  Google it.

Media sources are NOT good references.  
A well-researched news article can be a good way to find new paths to venture down for information.  But, generally speaking, a news article is not "proof" of anything.  There is often some sort of spin put on the article to lead you to believe something in particular, so be wary.

I look for facts, not opinions.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between facts and opinions.
This is because some writers present their opinions as facts.  It's important to be able to tell the difference.  The proclamation that "I know for a fact that cats are vile" is presented as if it's a fact.  But it's actually an opinion (one I do not share, by the way.  Cats are great! They just make me sneeze a lot...).
It's imperative that you know and understand that there are websites out there on the internet devoted to anything you can imagine, no matter how absurd, how biased, how ignorant, or how dangerous the ideas are.  Just because you found a website devoted entirely to an idea does not make that idea right.

I look at more than one source. 
I like to find multiple trust-worthy sources and compare information.  If it's hugely different, there might be some opinions sneaking in there instead of facts.  Or one source might be outdated.  Research is constantly advancing, so the date of a published source can matter.

And lastly, I take everything with a certain grain of salt.
I know that there are a lot of weirdos out there who may not actually be who they say they are, so I try to keep that in mind when I'm reading things online.  Additionally, I know that even scientists get it wrong.  And sometimes different studies will give opposite results. The scientist part of me really wants to explain to you all the ways a study can give bad results, but I doubt you want to hear that.  Lets suffice to say that scientist aren't always right, BUT what they have to say is more likely to be correct than someone who doesn't study that topic as a way of life.

Time for some examples:

Here is an example of a real turd of an article:
Love Your Pets, Just Don't Feed Them Turkey
No references, and more importantly it's an article on NBC, a major media company, so, you know.... sensationalism.  Whatever sells, right?  Not surprisingly, the information in this article is wrong and misleading.

Here's one that I feel a bit skeptical about, but it may have some clout:
Dog Pancreatitis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
There are no listed references on the webpage, which is why I feel more wary of the information.

YESSSSS.  This "About" page on Science Dog
makes me feel good about trusting the writer.
Here's one I feel is truly a nice, shiny gem:
Talking Turkey
There are references cited at the end of the article, and the author of Science Dog is schooled in the topic of both science writing and animal nutrition.  Her credentials as listed on her "About" page are stellar.

Want more information on how to research pet-related topics?  I found this article that has a list (and links) of helpful websites:
YOUR WHOLE PET/ I read it on the Web: A pet owner's guide to finding good health information online

Happy researching!  And good luck.

Have any questions?  I've love to answer them!  Leave a comment or send me a message and I'll respond as soon as I'm able!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Last night I was told that turkey can kill my dog.

Leopold eyeing up some leftover turkey from last night.
Deep fried myths.
Last night my husband and I threw a "fry party", where we heated up a deep fryer in our back yard and guests came over with ingredients of their choosing to drop in the vat of peanut oil.  It was a night of indulgence for sure.  My favorite fried goodies included oreos, bananas, and the large turkey my husband prepared.

At one point Leopold was eyeing up that turkey (and by eyeing up I mean sniffing awfully close!).  I don't blame him. It smelled good and tasted better.  A couple of the guests were watching and said something to me, in what I thought was jest, about how turkey can hurt dogs.  I laughed and said "Leopold seems to disagree".  They then proceeded to tell me that turkey can, actually, kill dogs.
I responded by saying "What? That's not true".
 Yes it is, they said.  Tryptophan, they said.  Then they told me of their relative who's dog ate a bunch of turkey and turkey fat and then died from pancreatitis.  (which is very sad)

I hope I didn't come off as rude to the well-meaning guests, but in my years working with dogs in both a professional and personal setting, I have never once come across that little factoid.

And that's because it's not... actually.... true....
(sorry, friendly guests!  Either your information is outdated or false. =/  )

Online myths propagation.
I'll admit that I was terribly afraid that I was wrong. So I did some research online.

I did find articles and blog posts about the dangers of turkey.  "Skip the turkey at Thanksgiving for your dog!", stuff like that.  Or this one from NBC that contained a subheading "Toxic Turkey" and advised people to "Refrain from giving any part of the beautiful bird to your cat or dog".
(NBC.... come on man....)

But the articles that made claims about turkey toxicity had no cited references.  No quotes from veterinarians.  So, I'm not sure where they were getting their information--possibly other websites that were getting their information from other websites that were getting their information from a random stranger who claimed turkey killed their dog.  (Apparently if enough people believe something, that makes it true.  ...Except that it doesn't.).

The articles I found that did have any sort of clout explained that turkey, as a meat, is fine to give to dogs.  In fact, it's a high quality protein source.  That's why you can find it as an ingredient in some dog foods.  In fact, "smoked turkey" is on the list of ingredients in the kibble I feed MY dogs -- Taste of the Wild, Wetlands recipe.

So what's the poop?
The poop is that sometimes the manner in which the turkey is given to a dog can cause gastrointestinal upset and in some cases pancreatitis.  It's not the turkey, it's the fact that a dog isn't used to eating turkey, and/or the fat content of the turkey tidbits they're eating is too high (the skin has quite a bit of fat in it, for example).

Thanksgiving is often the time we give our dogs turkey, or maybe even a whole meal comprised of the different delicious dishes we, ourselves, enjoyed.  Thanksgiving turkeys and side dishes are more likely to be decadent, full of extra butter and oil.  At least that's how it is in our house...  Most dogs don't eat this kind of food on a daily basis, and therein lies the problem.

Have you ever tried to switch your dog's kibble to a new brand or a new recipe?  If you try to switch outright, the result is a sick doggy who probably needs to be let outside many many times if you're luck or hours of cleaning for you... (ew.....)!  To switch a dog's food, you're supposed to slowly introduce the new food over time, gradually adding more of the new and less of the old over ten or so days.  And switching dog food brands/recipes is a much more innocuous event than is offering Thanksgiving leftovers.
Imagine, then, that the Thanksgiving meal you're giving your dog is not only atypical to their diet, but is very possibly higher fat that normal.  There's a good chance that it's not going to sit well.  And in some cases can result in pancreatitis and even death, such as the case my guests were relating to me.

What about tryptophan?
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in turkey.  And tahini.  And yellow mustard seed.  And parmesan cheese.  And seaweed....
It does not kill dogs.  It doesn't harm dogs.  In fact, there are even supplements on the market that use tryptophan specifically for dogs to help relieve anxiety (research suggests these supplements don't work...).
If you want to know more, I found this great science-based article online that gives the rundown of tryptophan and dogs.
I'm not sure why my guests thought tryptophan was the blame for the pancreatitis of their family's dog.  I hope their vet didn't tell them that...!

Moral of the story.
Turkey does not kill dogs.  Tryptophan does not kill dogs.

BUT, be smart about the little extras you give your dog.  Is your dog on a low-fat diet? Don't suddenly give them a bunch of fat.  Does your dog never get to eat "people food"?  Don't suddenly give them an entire meal of "people food".  Also, it's a good idea to cover and put your leftovers away so that your dog doesn't sneak onto the counter and help himself. has a great article that gives easy guidelines on how to safely share your special holiday meals with your dog.  And if you're worried about the fat content of the turkey you're giving your dog (for example, if you deep fried it....!), then maybe boil it in water first to remove some of the fat.

yes... yes... I did give Leopold a taste of turkey.  Halo, too.  How can I say no to those faces??

I did research online to write this article.  Part of feeling confident in the information I present to you, my reader, is knowing what to look for in an article that tells me it's a reliable source.  Interested in learning how to research dog-related topics (or... any topics, really), for yourself?  Stay tuned.  I'll work on that blog post next.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

If your dog is ever admitted to a veterinary emergency clinic: Here's one small way to help them stress less during their stay.

I worked at a veterinary emergency clinic for over 4 years before having to quit my job (because it's hard to make a living in the veterinary business...!).  I loved my time there.  I saw and learned a lot; even up until the end new scenarios would come into the clinic and I'd learn new things (always, it seemed, when I was training a new employee...  Murphy's law at work there...).  I'd like to share an observation with you in hopes that it could possibly help your dog be less stressed out if it ever has to stay at a veterinary ER, though I hope it never does (quick, knock on wood!!).

A stressful experience.
As you can imagine, it's a stressful experience for a pet to be at an ER.  And while I know taking a pet to the emergency clinic is stressful for the owner, too, this post is about it being stressful for the animals.  
How could it not be??  They're sick and injured, so they're already stressed about that, and then a barrage of strangers poke and prod at them while in a strange place with, sometimes, lots of other animals around.  We always tried our hardest to keep animal stress to a minimum (while still treating the animals and making sure they were receiving good care), but some amount of stress is inevitable in a place and situation like that.

Less stress.
One thing I noticed was that dogs would often panic less and were more calm if they were walked away from their owners as opposed to their owners walking away from them.

Let me explain.
Sometimes dogs needed to be admitted to the clinic for continued treatment and observation.  In that case, dogs would be brought back into our treatment area, where they would be housed in their own kennel or pen.  Often, especially for dogs who stayed extended periods of time, owners would come to visit their injured or sick furry family member.

When an owner came to visit, we would do one of two things:
A)  Have the owners walk back to the treatment room and visit their dog in/around their kennel, and then the owner would walk back up front when they were done.
B)  We would bring the dog to them to visit in one of the private rooms out front (normally used for veterinarians to first see a new patient).  When the owner was done visiting with their dog, we would come get the dog and bring it back to it's kennel in the treatment room.

There are always exceptions, but in many cases, scenario A would result in a very upset doggy.  Something about having their owner walk away from them while they're left behind in a strange place seemed to trigger anxiety.  Dogs clawed at their kennel door, barked, whined, and/or cried, sometimes for hours afterwards.  
Scenario B resulted in a stressed out dog much less often.

All humans subjected to constant barking can confirm that it's an unpleasant experience, but perhaps more importantly is that the increase in anxiety and stress does not promote healing for the animal itself.  It can also cause an increase in anxiety and stress for other animals currently at the clinic.
And while it probably doesn't mean life or death for your dog, if you're anything like me, I prefer to reduce the amount of stress and anxiety my dogs experience as much as possible.  And in emergency cases, I would want to give my dog the best chance at getting better as quickly as possible.

Scenario B isn't always possible; sometimes dogs are hooked up to so many life-saving things or need extra oxygen (and so are in a special oxygen cage) that they can't really be moved from their kennels.  And it's possible that a clinic could be so busy that there aren't any rooms available for an owner to visit with their dog.

But if it is possible when visiting, having your dog brought to you and then taken back to it's kennel by an ER staff member is one way you might be able to reduce the amount of stress your dog is experiencing if it has to stay at a veterinary emergency clinic.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Frustrated by a non-stop, stubborn sniffer? I may have a solution for you.

Leopold being stubborn on a walk.
So you're on a walk with your dog, and your dog pulls you over to a bunch of grass to sniff around.  Then he spends a while there before walking three more feet and stopping again to smell a stump. Then more time passes and he finally moves on: four more feet and he stops at a rock.  Then two feet and it's some random bit of who knows what that you can't even see because it's so small.  And every time your dog stops, you stop, because you're attached to him.
Sound like your experience?

It's certainly my experience with one of my dogs:  Leopold will stop dead and dig in his heals in order to thoroughly inspect an area with his nose.  If I let him, our walks would take hours.  I don't have hours, so Leopold's excessive sniffing behavior just can't happen.  I used to spend a good deal of our walk hollering at him to get a move on and eventually putting my weight into the leash to get him walking again.  Let me tell you, 70 lbs of stubborn dog can be hard to get moving, and all the hollering and pulling sure puts a damper on our walk.

But dogs like to sniff, and it's good for them.  It's an engaging activity that's great for mental health.  I'm all for doggy mental stimulation, but I'm a busy person and can't spend hours on walks.  I concluded that Leopold should get to sniff, but I get to decide when enough is enough and it's time to move on.  The trick is communicating this to Leopold so that I can avoid the whole forceful haul.

My solution was a countdown.
Here's how it works:
Leopold gets to stop and sniff, but when I feel like we need to continue on our walk, I say "Leopold, Three, Two, One" and then I start walking again.
And it works--Leopold starts walking again without me having to pull and yank on the leash.

It took a little time to teach Leopold the countdown, just as it takes time to teach anyone anything.  In the beginning, I would count down, and then give him a pull to get him walking. It didn't take long for him to learn that the countdown means he better get in one last sniff or finally pick something to pee on already, because when I get to "one", we're headed away from the area.

Both of us are a lot less frustrated, and walks are much more pleasant.  As with so many things, communication is key.

If you're frustrated by a dog that likes to sniff non-stop on walks, you might give this trick a try.  If you do, leave a comment and let me know if it worked for you, too!

Leopold gets to stop and sniff, but when I want to keep moving, I do a count down.