Monthly Archives: January 2012

How to Train a Fearful or Insecure Dog

By Langley Cornwell

Some of you know about our rescue dog. We’ve learned so much from her that I can’t help but write about her in many of my articles. For those who don’t know, here’s a summary: we heard about a shy pup that urgently needed a home at a time when we were considering taking in another pet. We agreed to meet her. When describing the dog we met that day, the word ‘shy’ is an understatement. She wouldn’t stand up. She held her head down low and her tail tucked under. She nervously dribbled on the floor. When coaxed, she slowly belly-crawled over to where I was sitting on the floor and gave my ankle a timid lick. My husband took one look at me and knew immediately. She was coming home with us.

Since that time, our insecure dog has blossomed into a happy, well-adjusted pet. Even now, however, there are times when she reverts back to her fearful ways. In researching the topic, I learned that shy or fearful behavior in canines usually stems from insecurity. According to dogproblems.com, a dog’s insecurity can be a result of different influences including genetics, a traumatic experience, limited socialization or even mixed messages from the dog’s owner. Whatever the case, there are certain steps to follow when training a fearful or insecure dog. If you are consistent with these concepts, you’ll have the joy of watching your shy dog gain confidence.

Make sure your dog considers you the pack leader, and be a pack leader she can trust. Work on basic obedience skills with your pup, either individually or in a group training class. Teaching a dog to successfully sit, down, come, heel, and stay will build her confidence. Basic training is always easier if you reinforce desired actions with treats your dog loves, like CANIDAE TidNips. When a shy dog has a clearly defined and trustworthy pack leader, she can relax in her surroundings.

Gently control your dog’s body language. I learned this concept early and was amazed at the results. When our dog tucks her tail under and scrunches over, I gently lift her tail up to the normal/confident position. When I do, she stands up taller. Therefore, don’t accept submissive body language from your dog, even during training sessions. When you tell your dog to sit, don’t let her hang her head down and act like she is unsure of the request. Instead, softly reach below her chin and lift her head up. Apparently, the mind follows the body and if the body is in a confidence position, the dog feels confident.

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Lost Pet Alert Network Can Help Find a Lost Pet

By Linda Cole

There’s nothing worse than suddenly discovering your pet is missing. I know from experience how hard it is to search for a lost pet when you have no idea which way they went or where on earth they could be. In the past, all you could do was hang posters, talk to neighbors, walk the area around your home, and worry. It may not take the worry away, but there is a newly launched network that may be able to help. The Lost Pet Alert Network may be your best hope if you’re searching for a lost pet.

You can find animal shelters in every community across the country, in rural and city locations. Some are small and others are quite large. Over the last several years, pet populations in shelters have increased because of the slow economy. The Lost Pet Alert Network was launched on December 5, 2011 in an effort to help pet owners find lost pets that have made it into a shelter or rescue organization.

The best tool we have as pet owners that can assure a lost pet’s return is the microchip. Other than a tattoo that can help you identify your pet, a microchip contains pertinent information someone scanning you pet needs in order to return him to you. It has become a practice for animal shelters and rescue organizations to scan pets entering their facilities to see if there is an implanted chip. After all, it’s to their advantage if they can quickly return a pet to his family. Shelters depend on donations to operate and the slow economy has also slowed donations to many shelters across the country, leaving a lot of them struggling with their budgets.

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The Unexpected Benefits of Pets

By Julia Williams

When asked to name the benefits that pets provide, common answers include things like unconditional love and acceptance, companionship, laughter, happiness and fun. Pets offer numerous health benefits as well, including reducing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, encouraging us to get more exercise, and helping us cope with pain. Although most of us don’t adopt a dog or cat thinking they might save our life one day, many do just that! Stories abound of hero dogs and hero cats who alerted their owners to fires, gas leaks, venomous snakes, marauding bears, cancer and other dangers. I should think that for all of us, having our life saved by a pet would certainly qualify as an unexpected – but much appreciated – benefit.

A diabetic scientist discovered by accident that his dog was able to detect low blood sugar. The dog alerted him before he suffered a seizure, which led the scientist to form an organization that trains diabetic alert dogs. Another unexpected benefit many pets provide their owner is teaching important life lessons that we didn’t even know we needed to learn, such as how to be more tolerant, patient or trusting of others. Sometimes, pets teach us how to open our hearts just by providing a safe and loving presence. They show us how to slow down, live in the moment and savor even the smallest pleasures life has to offer. All great things to be sure, but not usually things we expect from our pets!

Years ago I experienced an unexpected benefit from a pet that I’ll never forget. It wasn’t even my pet, but it was a great help to me nonetheless. I was renting a country cottage that sat on several acres in Northern California. As a longtime gardener, it was the perfect place for me. I created my own private paradise with a large vegetable patch, a beautiful rose garden and several flower gardens. I built raised beds because the gophers who called this field “home” had no respect for my garden (imagine that!).

The landlord’s house was also on the property, and they had two dogs. The dogs viewed the field as an extension of their territory, and quite often I’d see them patrolling it. I’d also see the small dog furiously digging holes out in the field. Terriers are known to be fond of digging, and Pepper was true to her breed. She never dug holes near my garden though, so her digging didn’t really bother me.

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Dogs Helping Humans with Invisible Disabilities

By Linda Cole

For those of us who are writers, comments from our readers are special. We write because it’s something we love to do, and having an opportunity to write about the pets we love makes it even better. Sometimes a reader will ask a question or make a suggestion that sends us on a quest to find more information. My topic today, dogs that help humans with invisible disabilities, was suggested by a reader. After doing some research on it, I discovered another wonderful example of how important dogs are to us.

My mom developed Rheumatoid arthritis when she was pregnant with me. In the early stages, she didn’t really show any outward signs of the disease. She worked outside the home, took care of three kids, was active in our church, and appeared to be perfectly healthy. As I grew, her pain increased and the crippling effects of the disease began to take hold. By the time I was in grade school, she was spending more and more time in and out of the hospital for operations to repair damaged joints and continuous monitoring of new arthritis drugs she was taking. Mom was a fighter and refused to let her arthritis get the better of her, but I saw how hard it was for her on her worst days. As an adult, she told me on many occasions how important her dogs were to her. Without them, there would have been a lot of mornings she never would have gotten out of bed. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the invisible disabilities.

One important lesson I learned growing up is that just because someone looks fine on the outside, inside they may be dealing with crippling and life changing disabilities. Diabetes, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, lupus, sleep disorders, Lyme disease, food allergies, PTSD, epilepsy, lactose intolerance, chronic pain, autism, and ADHD are just a few of the invisible disabilities people live with every day. An invisible disability is any disease or disability that affects normal everyday life and hinders a person’s ability to perform daily activities, and it isn’t obvious to people who don’t know you.

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How to Help Your Cat Adjust to Change

By Langley Cornwell

Most of us have heard the old adage “the only thing constant is change” and we all know how true that is. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the type of person who embraces change and looks towards different circumstances as a new adventure, or you’re the type that dreads change because you thrive in familiar conditions; change happens.

If you have the privilege of sharing your life with cats, change happens to them too. While you can intelligently process the reasons for the change, your cat(s) cannot. All they know is that things are different and they are not sure how to deal with the newness, whatever it may be. They need help managing the stress that comes with change. There are steps you can take to help your cat successfully adjust to new circumstances.

New Home

If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, when you move plan to keep him indoors for approximately a month so he can become familiar with his new surroundings. For an extremely sensitive cat, it may be wise to establish a single room as ‘his’ and confine him to that room until he becomes more comfortable with the new home. Make sure the cat has access to a clean litter box and fresh water at all times. Whether your cat has the run of the house or is limited to one room, keep all the doors and windows closed and locked. Additionally, make sure your cat wears an I.D. tag at all times. A fearful cat can easily slip out of an open door or window and run away.

Keep distractions to a minimum; restrict the access of other animals and children to the cat as he is settling into his new territory. When cats are transitioning, they need assurance that their sources of love, shelter and food are still available. Therefore, spend more quality time with your cat than you used to, as he is adjusting to his new home. Talk quietly and reassuringly to him, and be patient. Your cat may display behavior problems during the first few weeks after a move but these issues usually clear up over time.   

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Using Body Language to Train Your Dog

By Linda Cole

Dogs know how we feel by our body language, tone of voice and expression on our face. They read us much better than most dog owners understand how to read them. It’s not difficult to understand what a dog is saying, and we can use their knowledge of body language to help us interact with them better. We can also use it when we are training a dog.

In the dog’s world, every movement, growl and gesture has a meaning. It can cause negative or positive reactions and be subtle or plain to see. They watch us like a hawk and interpret what we want by paying attention to us. The way we approach a dog, react to an aggressive dog, or interact with them while training can be better accomplished using their method of communication. When you send the appropriate message using body language, it can help you when meeting an unfamiliar dog and help you control your own dog.

Leaning forward into a submissive dog and moving your hand down towards the head will likely trigger a negative reaction that causes the dog to urinate. He reads your body language as dominant and is intimidated by you. But if you approach the same dog, crouch down next to him and bring your hand from his chest up to the head, you’ll get a much different reaction. When you crouch down next to a submissive dog, your body language is positive and nonthreatening. We naturally want to pet a dog on the head, but it’s better to stroke the chest of a dog showing submissive or dominant body language to avoid intimidating them.

One of the hardest commands to teach a dog is to come (recall). I’ve had dogs that refused to come, even for a treat. Instead of begging and yelling at your dog to come, turn your back and crouch down. You’ve shown him with your body language you’re not a threat and he’s not in trouble. He sees you as being calm and nonthreatening. You’ve given him an invitation to join you and most dogs will respond to your gesture. When he comes to you, give him a treat he loves, such as CANIDAE TidNips.

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