Category Archives: canidae

Life Lessons for Puppies

life lessons freewineBy Linda Cole

The learning process begins the minute we are born, and it’s the same with puppies. Behaviors that pups are allowed to develop – both good and bad – will follow them into adulthood, and it’s much easier to deal with behavioral issues at a young age. Our job is to bond with and love a puppy, but we are also responsible for discipline and teaching him how we want him to behave. Even dogs have life experiences that mold their perspective and attitude about their environment, people and events they will encounter. The life lessons a puppy should learn will follow him into adulthood and create a more stable and self confident dog who is better equipped to handle whatever life throws his way.

Socialization

Behavioral issues in adult dogs are often rooted in lessons not learned at an early age. If a puppy isn’t given adequate opportunity to learn how to react to different experiences, he will have a harder time discerning what is safe and what isn’t. An aggressive or anxious response based in fear is best addressed at a young age. Puppies learn through positive and negative experiences how to react to different situations. When a pup is allowed to develop behavior that won’t be acceptable when he’s older, like jumping up on people or protecting his food, bad habits left unchecked will likely become a lifelong issue and harder to correct when he’s older.

Pups should be introduced to people of all ages, different sounds, sights, and situations when they are between the age of 6-14 weeks. This is when a puppy can best develop his own perception of his world and learn how to react appropriately.

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Llamas and Alpacas as Therapy Animals? Why Not!

Rojo-HiResFloralBy Julia Williams

First there were therapy dogs. Then came therapy cats. More recently, the list of therapy animals has expanded to include horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, potbellied pigs…even llamas and alpacas! It seems people have finally begun to realize what I have known for most of my life – that virtually any animal has the capability to help our seniors, special needs children, hospital patients, rehabilitation facility residents and others who need cheering up.

When it comes to therapy animals, size doesn’t matter because animals are so pure of heart and willing to lend a paw (or a hoof) to spread cheer. Case in point: a big, shaggy-haired llama named Rojo and an equally hairy alpaca named Napoleon can bring on the smiles every bit as much as a fluffy little dog can!

Admittedly, llamas and alpacas might not be the first species that comes to mind when you think of therapy animals. However, the Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas don’t let this stop them from visiting schools, hospitals, senior communities and rehab facilities throughout Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA. Offering friendship and a warm hug, these very special therapy animals help alleviate loneliness and reduce stress, and their presence brings a sense of normalcy to institutional settings.

rojoreading revMountain Peaks, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, offers therapy teams that have successfully completed the Animal-Assisted Therapy Certification process. Rojo was their first therapy animal; this unusually people-friendly llama received his Certification in 2007. Since then, the Mountain Peaks menagerie – Rojo, Smokey, Beni and Little Chap (llamas), and Napoleon, Jean-Pierre and Andre (alpacas), have completed more than 900 therapeutic visits. Mountain Peaks also provides theme-decorated llamas and alpacas for birthday parties, BBQs, weddings and other private and corporate events.

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What Do Dogs Think About?

dogs_think_jeffreywBy Linda Cole

Ivan Pavlov, a Russian scientist, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1904 for his work on the digestive system of mammals. He is famous for his revelation in classical conditioning. Pavlov discovered by accident that the dogs in his lab had learned to associate food with his lab assistants. They would salivate when any of the assistants entered the room whether they had food or not. It was a response to a stimuli and something the dogs learned on their own. Classical conditioning was the first step in beginning to understand how dogs think.

From the beginning of the 1900s up to the 1960s, scientists focused on dog behavior, but they lost interest and didn’t resume studying canines until the beginning of the 21st century. For the last 14 years, scientists have found a renewed interest in canine research to better understand a dog’s body language – including subtle signs they use, how they think, how they learn, the emotions they feel, how they view their world, and what they like. As we learn more about why dogs behave in certain ways, we have a better understanding of the canine mind and what dogs think about.

Of course, the answer to the question of what dogs think about is as complex as it is in determining what humans think about. We don’t have the ability to get inside the mind of another person to understand precisely what’s going on in their mind, nor can you really understand what your dog is thinking about when he’s staring at you. I know from personal experience how good some dogs are at problem solving, especially if they are trying to figure out a way to escape from their enclosure or steal food behind your back.

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Actions That Could Save Your Pet in a House Fire

house-fire-Angela-Antunes-1By Langley Cornwell

A fire breaks out in your kitchen and quickly becomes larger than your fire extinguisher can handle. Or maybe you wake up in the middle of the night to the smell of smoke and the blare of smoke detectors. You need to get your family out fast – including your pets.

No one is ever fully prepared for the reality of a house fire, but those who are best prepared have an evacuation plan, a go-bag with important documents, and a meeting place for everyone in the house, including  pets. These suggestions could help save your pet in case of a house fire.

Proper Pet Identification

Make sure all of your pets are wearing collars and/or have microchips. The sound of a fire alarm is scary and may send a skittish pet into hiding, as will the smell of smoke. Your pet may accidentally end up outside the house, or may bolt out of your grasp in the chaos. Identification will make it easier for him to be returned home if he’s found.

Having a pet identification sticker on your front window is important because it will alert the fire department that there are pets inside the house, if they don’t come out of the house with you. Write the number and type of pet (dogs, cats, etc.) on the sticker.

Leashes and Carriers

Have your leashes and carriers in easy-to-find locations. For most dogs, the leashes should be kept in common areas or near doors so you can quickly attach them before you leave the house.

house-fire-robin-zebrowskiYour cat carrier should be kept in a safe place, but preferably one that gives the cat constant access rather than anxiety. Many cats fear their carriers and will panic, bolt and become defensive when it comes into sight. Cats that have access to their carriers all the time are less likely to panic when you try to put them inside. If your cat is the anxious type, you may want to leave some heavy gloves near your carrier to protect you from the bites and scratches of a panicked pet.

The Family Plan: Identifying Hiding Spots

What type of plan do you have for the members of your household? It’s a good idea to have someone designated to grab the go-bag, someone responsible for making sure the kids are out of bed, and someone designated to locate the pets and usher them to safety. If there is chaos, will that person know where to look?

Pay attention to the places your pets hide when they’re scared – especially during storms. Many animals have a place where they feel safe. Your dogs and cats are likely to go to those same places, many of which – especially in the case of cats – are small and confined.

With dogs, you may try to train them for emergencies. The Emma Zen Foundation, for example, offers dog safety games you can use to teach your dog how to react in an emergency. You can train him to respond to specific commands or even a smoke detector. Training your dog to go to a specific spot will give you a great starting point when it comes to locating him in a true emergency.

If you for some reason can’t locate your pet, leave a door open when you exit the house. Your pet may run outside by himself.

house-fire-joel-kramerHave an Emergency Kit on Hand

You should have an emergency kit for both your family and for your pets. In the pet emergency kit, include a few days’ worth of premium quality CANIDAE pet food, bottled water, copies of vaccination records, a first aid kit, an extra leash, and photographs of your pets. Some experts recommend having pictures of your pets alone in case you need to make “missing” flyers later, but also pictures of your pets with your family in case collars and tags are lost and you need a way of proving ownership.

Where Will You Go?

Finally, where will you go once you are out of the house? There will be quite a bit of chaos outside, especially after the police and fire department arrive on the scene. Do you have a pet-friendly neighbor or nearby family member who can take your pets, preferably indoors? Your pets will need a safe, quiet place where they can be kept calm throughout the ordeal.

Over 500,000 pet deaths occur each year during house fires.  Taking a few precautionary measures and having a plan in place will help prevent your pet from adding to that number.

If you want to know more about the dog that inspired the Emma Zen Foundation, check out our RPO article:  Meet Emma Zen, Fundraising Canine for Pet Oxygen Masks.

Top photo by Angela Antunes/Flickr
Middle photo by Robin Zebrowski/Flickr 
Bottom photo by Joel Kramer/Flickr 

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

Tips for Training a Hyper Puppy

hyper-puppy-fizzyBy Laurie Darroch

A hyper puppy can be a challenge to live with and train. At times they can test your patience. They will push the limits of behavior if they can. This is not abnormal, but it is behavior that needs to be rerouted, retrained and controlled.

Here are some simple tips to help you deal with their bursts of high energy and inappropriate impulses.

Channel Bouts of Energy  

Very active and energetic pups need outlets for all that pent up energy. Expecting them to sit around all day or calmly be the perfect house mate is not realistic if they cannot release some energy in a healthy way. If they don’t do it in a positive, constructive way, they will find other ways that are worse.

When your hyper puppy runs around at high speeds crashing into objects, grabbing, nipping or uncontrollably acting out, they need to get more exercise. Give your dog exercise every day. For some dogs, more than once a day is needed. Take your puppy to a place they can run full out, walk for long periods, swim, chase balls or a stick, play fetch, or even practice on an obstacle course; these are all good energy releasers.  A high energy dog needs to have purpose and focus to maintain composure.

hyper-puppy-RLHLearn Cycles

During the worst times, your hyper puppy will seemingly forget training, act out, avoid you when you try to control him, ignore commands, and vie for attention in whatever way possible. This is when a puppy turns into a four-legged terror.

Puppies play and sleep in cycles. You will begin to notice that often their extreme burst of hyper activity come at specific times of the day. Those times when they seem out of control are the most difficult time to make them behave. For your puppy, they are also the most difficult times to control their own excessive behavior. Working together with your puppy can help them learn how to act more appropriately.

Pay attention to the way their impulsive behavior cycles throughout the day; it will give you clues to know when to focus more on behavior management. If you learn the pending signs, you can be prepared and help teach them to channel their boundless energy into less destructive behavior. Cut off the problem before it takes hold.

Have Patience

A hyper puppy can push your limits. They can make you react in anger and frustration, which is exactly what you should not do. In a hyper state, an energetic, out of control puppy will feed on your negative energy. Use a calm voice and gentle, but firm actions. Dogs read body language as well, so stay as relaxed as possible no matter how much your puppy is pushing your buttons.  You want to burst that energy bubble and get the puppy to behave. Filling it with negative energy will only exacerbate it.

Remember, a puppy is still learning how to behave, the same way a human child learns as they grow. Good behavior is not automatic and often takes repetition and patience to teach. It takes time for your puppy to learn.

Provide Alternativeshyper-puppy-beverly

When your puppy is wound up like a top and acting out, give them alternatives to channel that energy. Play ball or chase, give the puppy a chew toy, take them outside to defuse the situation. Distracting your puppy at hyper times will teach them to find alternate ways to use all that energy.

Reward Appropriate Behavior

Praise, a fun activity and a favorite CANIDAE dog treat will reinforce the calmer behavior. The puppy will start to associate the loving attention with the good actions instead of negative attention for bad behavior. They respond better to love, reward and praise than anger and punishment. Be consistent in your training and positive reinforcement.

Overly energetic puppies can wear you and your patience out. Be the responsible pet owner in control of the situation. Help your beloved puppy learn the right way to channel and use all that energy.

Top photo by Fizzy Pup/Flickr 
Middle photo by RLH/Flickr 
Bottom photo by Beverly & Pack/Flickr

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

How Dogs React to Magic Tricks

dog magic darkuncleBy Linda Cole

“Object permanence” is a term created by Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. It’s the ability to understand that an object continues to exist even if it disappears. It may be gone from view, but we know it still exits even though we can’t see, touch, smell or hear it. This concept is an important development of awareness that human babies learn at around 18-24 months.

Researchers have discovered that dogs also understand the concept of object permanence, and it occurs earlier in canines than it does in humans. Puppies can understand the concept as early as 5 weeks.  It’s easiest to see when you watch how dogs react to magic tricks.

Object permanence is not an ability that humans or dogs are born with. It’s a learned perception of awareness that comes from processing the existence of a stimulus while it is present. One summer a chipmunk set up an underground home inside my dog pen. I wasn’t aware of it, but noticed that my dog, Dozer, kept nosing around in one corner of the pen. It was obvious a smell had his interest, but he acted more curious than anything else. That is, until he caught sight of the chipmunk scurrying into his hole. Once he saw the critter disappear into the hole, his terrier heritage kicked in. Even though he couldn’t see the chipmunk, he knew it was in that hole. I’m sure it was Dozer’s persistent digging that caused the chipmunk to move his home to a safer location.

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