I once went to a pet vist for two dogs and were warned by the Owners that..."the dogs will bark and growl, but he won't bite you, he just wants to be pet." Well, I got bit twice. I have studied and worked with dogs, just like this little guy, for about 10 years. Any Veterinarian or Trainer will tell you that barking, growling and showing his teeth is NOT a sign that he wants to be pet or played with at all; that he is having fear and anxiety at that very moment.
ALWAYS keep in mind that what might seem scary to a dog will feel normal to us. Respect how that dog feels. When I was very young, there was a family member that used to "tease me" when he caught a roach and I was terrified of them! He would then pretend to throw it at me and I would scream out of shear terror and run as fast as I could. Picking up the roach, to that guy, was no big deal, but for me it was scary and cruel. Have you ever walked your dog and he saw a Halloween decoration in a yard and backed away from it, barked or growled at it...that is fear to them but normal to us. Sometimes dogs will see just some litter on the ground and react the same way...fear for them but normal for us.
There are several ways that I have shown my staff and owners on how to manage a situation like this when you walk in the front door and some of them are:
1. START BY understand that you are entering the DOG'S home, probably for the first time and he doesn't know you. His [distressful] barking or growling likely means he being anxious and fearful. Fearful and anxious dogs will bark, back up, growl, show their teeth and not let you touch them or maybe even try to nip at you. Dogs that aren't socialized correctly will usually have this before to new people walking THEIR home. That being said, NEVER try to touch, pet or stick your hand out when a dog is clearly distressed and do NOT bend over his head. Always have bite size treats with you when you go to a fearful dog's home.
2. Always Assess First before walking further into the house: Is the dog's tail wagging while he is barking or is his tail stiff and he is growling and showing his teeth? Is he moving closer to you to smell you while he is barking or is he backing away due to fear, continuing to bark? If the tail is wagging, that is a good sign and means that he is a little nervous because he doesn't know you. If he is reacting more viciously that is called a REACTIVE dog and he is scared and doesn't know what to do.
3. So the first method: Show the dog that you respect his space and it's his house. I always talk calmly to the dog, let him sniff me and literally ask him, "can I come into your house?" or "show me your toys? It sounds ridiulous but the tone of my voice and my body language can be calming and most times I can walk past him, but follow through with taking him outside, seeing his toys or taking him for a walk. But if is still showing signs of anxiety or fear, just go about your business WITHOUT MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH THE FEARFUL DOG. Let him hear your voice and speak as calmly and friendly and always mention the dog's name. If he follows you to go outside to potty in the yard or preparing his food, etc., give him a little treat for every calm and positive effort that he is making.
4. Second method: If you CANNOT get past him (likely a bigger dog), then you stay at the entrance of the home and wait till he can calm down. Once he calms down a bit, lower yourself to his eye level but not close in front of his face; that takes away the fear of you towering over him which can be intimidating for any dog just meeting you and it keeps you from possibly getting bit in the face. Keep avoiding eye contact, which is a trigger and can cause a dog to take that as a challenge. While lowering yourself to the ground, don't make any gestures or try to touch him or bend over his head. Let him calm down even more and he should start to sniff you. If he doesn't, go to #5.
5. Another method is to lower yourself to the ground slowly BUT turn your back on the dog. Turning your back on him removes eye contact, your arms are in front of you and away from the dog and you aren't trying to engage with the dog in any way. That removes some immediate fear right away. Every fearful dog whereby I use this technique, has always slowly approached me (feeling safer w/my back turned) and starts to sniff all around my back, my hair, then my shoulders and neck while you just stay still and talk to him calmly mentioning his name. If you happen to have a small treat (not a large one), slightly hold it out with your arms extended, still with your back to the dog. Let him take the treat and that will be one sign, to him, that you are not there to hurt him. If he is calmer, then slowly try to stand back up.
6. After he has settled down more, don't move around the house in a rush, as that couldl trigger the dog that something might be wrong and he likely will return to being anxious. Just move about the house calmly, go to the back door and let them outside to potty. If you're taking him on a walk, put the leash on the floor, with a treat, and use the word "walk" or "outside" to elicit some sort of response, from him that he wants to go for a walk with you.
WRAPPING THIS ARTICLE UP, LET ME SAY;
Knowing canine body language is very important. All dogs have fears and triggers; it's so important to discover what they are in an effort to help them. Sometimes it may appear that he is fearful or aggressive when he actually is in pain somewhere. SO BEFORE AN OWNER ATTEMPTS THESE STEPS, FIRST RULE OUT, WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN, THAT HE IS OKAY. So many times the owners thank me because their Vet said that he had something in his paw, his arthritis was worse or he had a virus. It could easily be so many things that aren't easily recognizable to us. So always rule out pain first with your Vet.
Experts say that walking or taking them out to a dog park, a run on the levee, dog play dates or even Petco to smell all of the goodies, are all great ways to provide your dog with different stimuli and experiences [adventures] that will provide him fun, exercise and socialization. How will a fearful or aggressive dog ever learn that poeple are okay and safe if they never meet them? So it is SO IMPORTANT to provide these adventures for your dog to give him confidence rather than fear, enrichment rather than living only within the house and backyard.
We definitely get it; your life is busy with work, cooking, laundry, homework, baseball or soccer practice, school events, etc., THAT IS WHAT WE ARE HERE FOR...to make YOUR life a little easier and to provide your dog enriching experiences and you will find a happier, calmer and better behaved dog for your family to enjoy.
Written by Liz Schneider,
Owner of Nonie's Pet Care
I am going to attach an article from the Anti-Cruelty Society, 2022. that addresses determining your dog's triggers and then how to deal with them.
Finding your dog’s trigger(s):
It’s crucial to always be aware of your dog's behavior and to take note of the things she is afraid of, aka her “triggers”. Along with noting what her triggers are, observe the amount of the scary thing she can handle before behaving in a fearful manner. This is called her threshold. It is important to never exceed your dog’s threshold throughout the training process.
Managing your dog’s trigger(s):
Once you have determined her triggers and threshold, create a plan to limit her exposure to these things. When you’re training her, it’s important that you don’t scare her more.
In most cases, it’s almost impossible to completely avoid every trigger. Make sure to have a “Plan B” in case you aren’t able to avoid a trigger, such as taking a U-turn on a walk or crossing the street. Be sure to always have treats on you to reward your dog for moving away from the scary thing!
Reintroducing triggers through positive reinforcement:
Introduce your dog to the things that scare her slowly, gradually, and in a controlled environment. To prevent your dog from being more afraid, it’s incredibly important not to rush this process and never to force your dog into a situation where she is scared. Remaining calm throughout this process is also key. Use calming gestures such as stroking her head and talking to her in a soft tone of voice to help ease your dog’s anxiety and fear.
Start off by introducing the scary thing to your dog at a distance and rewarding her with lots of treats and praise when she does not show signs of fear. This will teach her to associate yummy treats with the scary object. If at any point she does start showing signs of fear, take a break and calm her down by softly petting her. Start again from the last point when you succeeded and go even slower.
For example, if your dog is afraid of strollers, feed your dog a treat every time she sees a stroller, even if it’s from a distance. Soon enough, your dog will start associating the stroller with treats and be less fearful of them.
As a cat parent, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of common illnesses so you can seek veterinary help for your feline friend in a timely manner if necessary. Read on for information about diseases and other medical inflictions that frequently impact cats.
CancerCancer is a class of diseases in which cells grow uncontrollably, invade surrounding tissue and may spread to other areas of the body. As with people, cats can get various kinds of cancer. The disease can be localized (confined to one area, like a tumor) or generalized (spread throughout the body).
Diabetes in cats is a complex disease caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin. After a cat eats, her digestive system breaks food into various components, including glucose—which is carried into her cells by insulin. When a cat does not produce insulin or cannot utilize it normally, her blood sugar levels elevate. The result is hyperglycemia, which, if left untreated, can cause many complicated health problems for a cat.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Cats infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) may not show symptoms until years after the initial infection occurred. Although the virus is slow-acting, a cat’s immune system is severely weakened once the disease takes hold. This makes the cat susceptible to various secondary infections. Infected cats receiving supportive medical care and kept in a stress-free, indoor environment can live relatively comfortable lives for months to years before the disease reaches its chronic stages.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FelV)
First discovered in the 1960s, feline leukemia virus is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats. Because the virus doesn’t always manifest symptoms right away, any new cat entering a household—and any sick cat—should be tested for FeLV.
Spread by infected mosquitoes, heartworm is increasingly being recognized as an underlying cause of health problems in domestic cats. Cats are an atypical host for heartworms. Despite its name, heartworm primarily causes lung disease in cats. It is an important concern for any cat owner living in areas densely populated by mosquitoes, and prevention should be discussed with a veterinarian.
Many pet parents eagerly open their windows to enjoy the weather during the summer months. Unfortunately, unscreened windows pose a real danger to cats, who fall out of them so often that the veterinary profession has a name for the complaint—High-Rise Syndrome. Falls can result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs and pelvises—and even death.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including cats, dogs and humans. This preventable disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii. There’s good reason that the very word “rabies” evokes fear in people—once symptoms appear, rabies is close to 100% fatal.
Although the name suggests otherwise, ringworm isn’t caused by a worm at all—but a fungus that can infect the skin, hair and nails. Not uncommon in cats, this highly contagious disease can lead to patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings. Also known as dermatophytosis, ringworm often spreads to other pets in the household—and to humans, too.
Upper Respiratory Infections
A cat’s upper respiratory tract—the nose, throat and sinus area—is susceptible to infections caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria.
Cats can acquire a variety of intestinal parasites, including some that are commonly referred to as “worms.” Infestations of intestinal worms can cause a variety of symptoms. Sometimes cats demonstrate few to no outward signs of infection, and the infestation can go undetected despite being a potentially serious health problem. Some feline parasitic worms are hazards for human health as well.
Common Types of Worms in Cats
Outdoor cats and those who are routinely exposed to soil where other animals defecate are prone to worms. Kittens and cats who do not receive regular preventative health care are most at risk for developing complications associated with internal parasites.
Symptoms differ depending on the type of parasite and the location of infection, but some common clinical signs include:
Treatment for Worms
Please don’t attempt to treat your pet yourself—your cat should be treated for the specific type of worms he has.
A large number of roundworm eggs can accumulate where cats defecate. People, especially children, who ingest such eggs can develop serious health problems, such as blindness, encephalitis and other organ damage. Treatment of blindness caused by roundworm may involve surgical removal.
Hookworm larvae can penetrate human skin and cause lesions. People can acquire tapeworms through the ingestion of an infected flea, although this is rare.
Another topic that is near and dear to my heart is a family dog whose whole life is inside the house and in the backyard only; the dog that no one has time to walk. We take ourselves out to eat, we go to Saints games, we go shopping and some of us work out; the kids go to baseball games, dance or soccer. Our calendars are so full. But the poor family dog gets sItuck at home.
Think of it this way:
I had a wonderful, local Veterinarian tell me once that walking a dog and letting him sniff all of the smells durg the walk is just like when we scroll through our Facebook page and see who is doing what. For a dog, it is the same thing. I see dogs getting walked every day, but for the 500+ cliets that we have, I worry about the dogs that aren't getting walked, enjoying the exercise, being outside, sniffing the smells and just BEING HAPPY.
NONIE'S HAS A WALKING/PLAYTIME PROGRAM specifically designed for busy families who LOVE their dogs but just don't have the time to give their dog a good 30 minute walk a day, or maybe 3 times a week. We also have a one-hour visit that inludes a 30 min long walk and then we play fetch with the Dog Nerf Ball Launcher [fetch] that the dogs just LOVE! The younger dogs need to burn off that energy and the older dogs need that exercise to keep arthritis pain at bay as long as possible. We also have special slower dog walks aroud the neighborhood for the senior dogs and we let them call the shots, they lead the way and tell us when they have had enough. And don't get me started on WEIGHT MANAGEMENT and HEART DISEASE. We take our dogs to the Vet for check ups or when they get sick, but more walking, playtime and exercise will keep the those Vet bills few and far between.
BELOW IS AN ARTICLE THAT I AM SHARING WRITTEN BY TWO VETERINARIANS WHO EXPLAIN HOW IMPORTANT WALKING REALLY IS.
When you say, “It’s time to walk the dog,” many people assume that your pup needs to go do his “business”. Yes, walking the dog is essential to keeping the household carpet unblemished, but taking a stroll with your pooch provides many other benefits.
How does walking keep my dog healthy?Walking your dog is a simple task that has a positive impact on many aspects of overall health such as:
Weight and Body Condition. Obesity is a major health issue, but barring medical complications, it has a reasonable solution: burn more calories than consumed. Regular exercise, like walking, is a good way to burn those excess calories and keep the pounds off – for both you and your dog.
Joint Health. Immobility is another common health problem. Joints, even old ones, need to work. People and pets get stiff when sedentary for too long, and keeping joints in motion improves their function.
Digestive and Urinary Health. Regular walking helps regulate the digestive tract. Some dogs, like some people, prefer to “go” on a schedule, and providing your dog with routine trips outdoors prevents constipation. Also, when urine sits in the bladder for long periods of time, bladder infections are more likely to occur, so regular emptying keeps this part of the anatomy happy as well.
Of course, it is important to consult your doctor and your veterinarian before embarking on an exercise program.
Can’t my dog get all of those benefits with a good run around the yard?There are plenty of benefits to walking that go beyond physical health including:
Mental Health. Dogs do not like to be bored and if you give them something constructive to do, like taking a walk, they may be less likely to do something destructive, like chewing the couch. Walking exercises the mind as well as the body. Watching wildlife, exploring new paths, seeing other people with their pets, and so on, are great mental stimulation for your dog that he just cannot get in the same fenced area all the time. Walking also releases excess energy and helps dogs sleep better at night.
Emotional Health. You are the center of your dog’s universe and he craves your attention. What better way to spend quality time with your dog than taking a walk? Spending one-on-one time with your dog will deepen your bond and help deter annoying, attention- seeking behaviors such as excessive barking or whining.
Personal Health. Many people need outside motivation to work out, and may depend on an exercise buddy to get them off the couch. What happens when your exercise partner gets stuck at work or stuck in traffic or has another commitment? Your dog is only committed to one thing… you! That makes him the perfect exercise partner. He is always available and willing to accompany you on a walk.
Dog walkers: healthier people with healthier dogs
As you can see, regular walking has health benefits for both you and your dog and will help prevent obesity, which is a significant problem in both species. Nearly 75% of Americans are overweight and childhood obesity is on the rise (close to 20%). In a 2008 study based in Seattle and Baltimore, adults who regularly walked their dogs were less likely to be obese than their non dog-owning neighbors. In addition, walking for 30 minutes a day will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, colon and breast cancer, and type-2 diabetes.
"It is estimated that about 50% of dogs in the United States are overweight and 25-30% of dogs are obese."Canine obesity is a problem, too. It is estimated that about 50% of dogs in the United States are overweight and 25-30% of dogs are obese. The fact is, obese dogs do not live as long as lean dogs. Plus, they suffer more heart problems and joint ailments that affect their quality of life. While it is true that dogs may exercise themselves if left in a fenced-in yard, like us, they have a tendency to plop down in the shade instead of romping, especially if there is no one to play with. However, if given the chance, they will gladly go for a walk with their owners!
How much should we walk?
According to the World Health Organization, children 5-17 years old should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous (aerobic) exercise every day. Adults 18-64 years old should engage in moderate exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week and engage in strengthening exercises at least twice weekly. Seniors over 65 should also participate in moderate exercise 5 days a week, engage in strengthening exercise 2 or more days a week, and add flexibility and balance routines at least 3 days a week.
Walking your dog is a great start to fulfilling these recommendations for you and your family, and leads to a healthy, happier dog!
How do we get started?
Many people make a New Year’s resolution to exercise. What can you do to stick to your resolution? Make a reasonable exercise plan that does not overwhelm you by including your best exercise buddy. Formulating a reasonable walking schedule that does not over tax your body or crowd your busy schedule will help you stay on target and including your dog will motivate you to get going.
"Keep the routine interesting by walking in different areas that provide visual interest for both you and your dog."Start out slowly by taking a few 10 minute practice walks around the neighborhood. When you – and your dog – are ready, increase the time and distance. Try to walk for a total of 30 minutes each day – it doesn’t have to be all in one outing. You can take a 10 minute walk in the morning before work and add a 20 minute stroll when you get home. On weekends, you can vary the routine, perhaps doing three 10 minute sessions. Regardless of the schedule, strive for 30 minutes of daily exercise.
Keep the routine interesting by walking in different areas that provide visual interest for both you and your dog. Or substitute a game of fetch or a romp in the park if you feel up to it. The goal is to make exercise a priority that holds a scheduled spot in each day so that you feel less likely to avoid your plan. It will not take long for your dog to get used to the routine and he may remind you when it is time to exercise. That is just one reason why canines are great exercise companions!
Dog owners who like to mark their progress can download a walking calendar or exercise app or use one of an electronic tracking device that record daily steps and caloric history (calories consumed vs. burned). Sometimes seeing the numbers provides additional motivation to walk a little further or validates your efforts when you reach your goal.
Rewarding your efforts
Some humans like to be rewarded for their workout efforts, so they grab a cookie or have a beer after exercising. After walking your dog, you may find his grateful, calorie-free affection is all the reward you need. And your dog will feel the same way! A simple stroll is a great way to say, “I love you!”
Contributors: Krista Williams, BSc, DVM, CCRP; Lynn Buzhardt, DVM