I’d like you to imagine that you are a young, not-yet-verbal child who is entering a foster home. Naturally, you are a nervous about meeting your new foster parents, and wonder what life will be like. You don’t yet know what will be expected of you or how you will be treated. And since you’re […]
via Cooperation Versus Coercion — Wilde About Dogs
July 4th was always one of my favorite holidays growing up. Where we lived, it was legal to fire off fireworks, and my favorite were the Roman Candles. Independence Day always ended with the customary light show lasting late into the night. I do not remember ever thinking about the impact the holiday had on our Pekapoo. I don’t remember it being an issue, but looking back I suspect the issue was that we couldn’t see what our dog was going through.
I have now been training dogs for over a decade, and I am painfully aware of the effect fireworks have on man’s best friend. There is simply no way for a dog to understand what the sudden loud noises are, where they are coming from, and if it is safe to come out from under the couch.
There are a few things you can do to help your dog through this time.
- Ask neighbors if they would consider not shooting fireworks. If they aren’t willing to give them up, ask them what time they plan on starting so you can make a plan for your dog.
- Download an amazon audio file of the sound of fireworks. Play it very quietly in the background for the next few weeks during your dog’s meal and playtimes. Start the soundtrack quietly just before the fun starts. Over the next few weeks, gradually increase the volume, but never enough to alarm your pet.
- When the day comes, place your pet in an interior room with classical piano music playing. Check out the music and corresponding study in “Through a Dog’s Ear”. This type of music was found to be the most calming. Give your pet something super-awesome to focus on, like a nice raw meaty bone! If your dog has problems being confined like this sit with him. If you absolutely cannot sit with him do some practice runs starting with just a few minutes (or even seconds). Put him in the room, give him something really awesome, let him be – time yourself! Don’t be gone long enough to upset him! Return to your dog, take his stuff, and let him out. Gradually work up time. Better yet, just change your plans and sit with your dog!
- Do not under any circumstances leave your dog outdoors! July 5th is the single busiest day for shelters across the US. Dogs are picked up as strays after escaping their yards in a panic. Leaving your dog in the yard could end in a lost dog, or in him being killed. It’s not worth the risk.
I want to strongly urge you to plan to spend this holiday home with your pets. It’s the safest and least frightening thing for them. Break out the grill and have a day of it, but when the time comes for the fireworks to start go inside and create a safe space for your dog.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
There are a number of ideas about dogs that have originated in their genetic connection to wolves and our understanding of wolf packs. Most of these ideas are wrong.
We’ve made great strides in the past two decades in our studies of our closest animal friends. Only relatively recently has research been done exploring the way our dogs think. The way we look at wolves has also evolved since some of these theories about dog behavior came about. Science has shown us an entirely new understanding of dog behavior, yet society still operates under the myths that science has overcome.
the study of wolves has come a long way. There was a time when, in order to look at a species, we took all our data from observing captive species in zoos and the like. The creation of technologies such as wildlife cameras and GPS trackers have revolutionized our ability to study these creatures. What we have found is that animals behave very differently when placed in captivity. There are a few reasons for this:
- When wolves were captured and confined the entire pack was not taken. Generally lone wolves or wolves that had strayed from the pack were captured. So the groups that ended up in enclosures were unrelated and had no existing social hierarchies to fall back on. We were no seeing the behavior of wolf packs. We were seeing the behavior of unrelated groups of wolves thrown together. They didn’t know each other or how to react to one another because their social group was gone.
- In the wild, the best bet for survival is escape. It doesn’t make sense from an evolutionary perspective to fight. One might be injured or killed. There are no veterinarians to patch up wounds, and infections can be deadly. In order to survive it is best to avoid any interaction that might result in an injury. When there is a fence there is no escape. One must find alternative ways of coping with potentially deadly interactions. While these will be based in existing patterns of behavior, they take on entirely new meaning in an artificial situation. Behaviors that were once reserved to be used to show affiliation between group members morphed into what were interpreted as submissive behaviors used by one wolf to convince another not to attack.
Wolf packs are now known to be family groups that rarely have any sort of aggression between family members. The “alpha” pair is the breeding pair, and the rest of the pack is almost always made up of their offspring. So called submissive behaviors are performed to greet each other and show affiliation and are not about submission to any sort of social dominance.
How long young wolves stay with their parents varies depending on environmental factors. Pack size is directly linked to what sort of food source is around. The larger the prey animal the more wolves need to be involved in killing and eating the prey. In this situation it is advantageous for offspring to stay on until they are mature enough to safely survive on their own, and sometimes even longer. With smaller, less dangerous prey, the pack needs fewer wolves to be successful. Offspring are more likely to venture out and find a mate and begin their own pack.
So what does this have to do with our four legged friends? Not much. The wolves we have long studied are the American timber wolves. Dogs do not share DNA with these wolves, but rather share a common ancestor with European gray wolves. In addition, dogs are separated from wolves by thousands of years of evolution. There is no evidence that the common ancestor they share bears any resemblance to the modern day wolf. According to renowned veterinary behaviorist Ian Dunbar, “Learning from wolves to interact with pet dogs makes about as much sense as, ‘I want to improve my parenting – let’s see how the chimps do it!'”
Not a wolf….
Not a wolf…
Still not a wolf…
Seriously. Not a wolf.
Okay… that last one is a wolf.
Some of you have met my little Killian in past blog entries or on his Facebook page. One thing I don’t talk a lot about with Killian is how incredibly difficult he can be to medicate. Now, I am not new to medicating dogs. I have even been hired by clients to come over and give medication to difficult dogs. But Killian is a master at avoiding his pills.
When I first got Killian I actually took him to the vet every day so they could give him his meds. Killian is not just paraplegic. He also suffers from epilepsy and chronic hepatitis. He takes a lot of medication to keep him going.
Killian is a small dog, so one would expect that, at the very least, I could force the pills down him. And I have. But Killian has learned how to cheek them or keep them just in the top of his throat where I cannot see them. As soon as I turn my back on him, ptooey! And he has some range – on occasion over six feet. The pill ends up across the room, and I am on my knees trying to locate it. Because not only are his pills varied for each condition, some of them are also extremely expensive.
So I feel your pain if you have a dog that is difficult to pill. Here are the options I have used over the years. Not all work with all dogs, but I find that usually one of them does work.
- Wrapping the pill in something yummy is usually sufficient for most dogs. American cheese works well if you don’t want to purchase pill pockets. Or a small piece of bread can work in a pinch.
- Peanut butter is an experience all its’ own when pilling dogs. Some dogs it works well. They cannot help but smack their lips and lick and swallow the delicious gooey mess.
- Force is my least favorite way to pill a dog, but in life or death situations it may be necessary. I always feel terrible opening a dogs mouth by force. But if you need to do it, the easiest way is to place your hand over your dog’s muzzle with the thumb on one side and your index finger on the other. Find the gap in the teeth (about half way back) and press in. You will find you can gently pull the mouth open. Place the pill as far back in the mouth as you can and close the dog’s mouth, holding the head in a normal position (parallel to the ground). Sometimes rubbing the throat will help the dog swallow. Gently hold the muzzle closed long enough that the dog swallows the pill.
Yeah, I know. If you are reading this you have probably tried all of this. I certainly tried and failed with all of these methods with Killian. A few tweaks can turn these failures into success. Here are the tweaks!
- Try the “Meatball Game”: Get three pieces of whatever you are wrapping your dog’s pill in. Roll two into balls, and put the pill in the third one. One at a time, toss each “meatball” to your dog. Save the pill for last. Usually by the time your dog gets to the third one he’s gobbling them up.
- Use something that is doughy to wrap the pills. Lunch meat may be delicious to your dog, but it doesn’t always stay on the pill well. Use something that will squish around the pill and completely encase it. You might even look online for recipes for homemade pill pockets.
- Use a chaser: Get something your dog can’t resist eating and feed it to her immediately after putting the pill in her mouth. I’ve used broth in a syringe, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a liquid as long as it goes down easily.
- These methods have worked for me in every case that didn’t involve disease induced anorexia. If the dog isn’t eating you’re going to have to resort to putting the pill in your dogs throat. If this is the case, look for a piller for your dog. This is a syringe type tool that will get the pill to the back of the throat without risking that your dog will bite down on your hand in an attempt to keep you from forcing the pill down. It also keeps your hand drool free.
Hopefully this gives you some new tools to help get medicine down your dog. Making this as easy as possible for your dog will make it easier for you, and will make it easier to pill her in the future.