One of our rescue dogs is skittish and fearful. We are always on the lookout for ways to help this dog relax and take it easy. We’ve done all kinds of behavioral work and tried multiple training techniques. The good news is that he seems to making progress. Even so, there is plenty of work that still needs to be done.
The other evening after he finished eating his favorite grain free dog food – CANIDAE PURE Elements with Lamb – he was lying on the sofa next to me and I began rubbing his ears. He snuggled closer and I began to feel all of the tension slowly leaving his body; it was if someone had stuck a tiny pin in a ball and the air was seeping out gradually. I know all the tricks for putting our cat into this state of relaxed euphoria, but I’d never been able to get this dog to fully let go until that moment. With a big grin on his goofy, loveable face, he fell into a happy trance.
It turns out that rubbing a dog’s ears is a natural sedative, almost like a tranquilizer.
The ears of a dog are one of three nerve centers on his body. The other nerve centers are between his toes and the center of his belly; all of these places are extremely sensitive to the touch. The benefit of knowing where these nerve centers are is that you know where to rub your dog to instigate relaxation. And it’s more than simple relaxation. When you stroke your dog’s ears, the sensation he feels goes further than just the ears themselves. The intense pleasure he feels extends deep into his body.
We like to take our dogs out in the woods to let them run and play off-leash. There is a secluded area near our house that’s perfect for this kind of activity, and we try to get out there so they can romp around at least twice a week, weather permitting. The fresh air and sunshine is good for all of us. We’ve been doing this for years and consider it quality family time.
Recently on one such outing, Frosty came back limping. We checked her pads carefully to make sure there wasn’t a thorn or cut causing the limp. Everything looked fine, but she wouldn’t put her left rear leg down so we called our vet and went straight over.
When we walked in, he took one look at her and said “I hope it’s not what it looks like, but I’m pretty sure it is.” They took her to the back to get x-rays and then confirmed what he suspected. Our dog had a rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). She had torn her CCL, which is similar to a human’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
A dog’s CCL (and a human’s ACL) is the ligament responsible for stabilizing the knee joint.
When a dog twists on her hind leg or makes an abrupt turn while running full speed, she can tear her cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). The twisting motion puts sudden, extreme tension on the ligament which can cause it to tear. Sudden CCL tears most commonly happen when a dog slides on a wet surface, makes a sharp turn when she’s running, or gets hit from the side by a car.
Some CCL tears happen over time. Obese dogs have a higher likelihood of developing this problem than healthy weight dogs. Excess weight puts undue stress on a dog’s knees and the cranial cruciate ligament becomes so weak that it slowly begins to degenerate until it ruptures, sometimes without any extraneous activity.
There are several surgical options for repairing a ruptured CCL. Our vet opted for a procedure that involves using artificial suture fibers (he likened it to fishing line) to reconstruct her ligament. He used this synthetic material to weave between the lower outside part of our dog’s femur (the bone above the knee) and the upper inside part of her tibia (the bone below the knee), creating a manmade cranial cruciate ligament.
The other surgical options are called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and a tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA).
There are cases where surgery is not an option. If a dog is elderly, has a condition that inhibits healing, or is afflicted with another complicating factor, then a combination of medical treatment, restricted activity and physical therapy may be the best route.
For an overweight dog, it’s important to take steps to reduce his body weight. Feed a high quality dog food like CANIDAE, and make sure your pet gets plenty of age-appropriate exercise.
This is where things get tricky, especially if you have more than one dog in your home. After a dog undergoes any of the surgical options for a torn CCL, she must stay completely inactive for a minimum of two weeks. She can only go outside to relieve herself. At around the two week mark, most dogs will do what our vet calls “toe touching,” which means the dog will tap the toe of the hurt leg to the ground and slowly begin putting a bit of weight on it. Our dog isn’t quite there yet. She will occasionally tap her toe to the ground, but most of the time she just hops around on three legs. She’s become amazingly adept at this.
We were told to restrict Frosty to short leash walks for six more weeks to allow complete healing. Because Frosty and our other dog Al are active and like to wrestle, it’s been difficult to keep them from playing around – but we were strictly warned. Limited activity is important in order to avoid damaging the surgical correction.
Our vet thinks Frosty’s prognosis is good if we constrain her activity. We will also continue to massage her knee and perform gentle rehabilitation exercises.
A ruptured cranial cruciate ligament is a serious issue and requires a lot from the pet owners and the pet. However, if you follow your vet’s advice to the letter, your furry friend should be back on all fours in due time. Wish us luck!
Springtime is right around the corner, and the weather will be ideal for spending more time outside walking with your dog. You wouldn’t think walking a dog could be overly complicated. You just strap on a leash and head out the door, right? Well, not exactly. If you want the walk to be safe and relaxing for you and satisfying for your dog, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
Bring the Necessities
If you’re going for a walk in warm weather or if you’re planning to be outside for a while, bring along a bottle filled with enough water for you and your dog to drink.
Also, bring along some high value dog treats like CANIDAE Bakery Snacks. Dog walks are a great time to brush up on your dog’s obedience skills; stop at random times to practice basic sits, downs and stays. If you’re working on new tricks, being outside is a good time to practice them because of the additional distractions. What’s more, the added fun of working on skills (and getting treats!) will further reinforce for your dog how enjoyable walks can be.
Don’t forget some type of poop bags. It’s a good idea to bring extras, just in case.
People seem to make the same dog training mistakes over and over, me included. It’s easy to get into a rut and continue doing what you’ve been doing. For the best results, however, it’s good to take a step back. Every once in a while, it’s important to reconsider how you’ve been training your dog and evaluate if things are progressing the way you hoped they would.
To that end, I’ve listed the most common training mistakes dog owners make—along with some easy adjustments—so you and Rover will have a clear and easy line of communication open. This list is not in any particular order. You may need to brush up on some or all of these. I’ll refrain from telling you how many I need to brush up on but I will say this, I need to take my own advice in a big way on some of these!
Dogs understand consistency, and if you vary your approach too often, your dog’s ability to learn will be compromised. For example, if you are tolerant with a stubborn dog one day but become impatient with him the next, he won’t understand you. Over time, inconsistency can damage your dog’s trust and confidence in you. Establish specific training methods and consistent expectations and stay the course.
A consistent timeframe is also helpful. Be careful not to let the training session go on too long or your dog will become disinterested. Likewise, make sure the sessions are not so short that the dog doesn’t understand what you are asking of him. Learn the length of time that works best for your dog and stick to it.
We went to the animal shelter last weekend to visit with the shelter pets and give them some one-on-one attention. We do this fairly often and it always pulls on my heart strings; I want to bring carloads of the sweet, homeless animals home with us, but I know it’s not feasible so I stay strong and do what we’re there to do.
On this visit, however, my heart strings were nearly ripped out of my chest. The puppies! Our local shelters are bursting with loveable little puppies. When I got over the initial cuteness-overload response, this made perfect sense. One of the most common reasons dogs are taken to animal shelters is because of excessive barking. This time of year, many puppies that were given as gifts over the holidays are now being relinquished to shelters for things like barking and biting and generally being a puppy. It’s reported that one-fifth of all the dogs adopted from shelters are returned within a few months. What a sad statistic.
Our recent shelter visit compelled me to review my previous article on Tips to Curb Puppy Biting and Aggression and expand the subject to include excessive puppy barking. My goal is to educate new puppy owners on what to expect from young, precocious pups and offer suggestions to curb or even prevent these unwanted behaviors.
Why does my puppy bark so much?
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, but it usually boils down to some form of communication, boredom, a request for attention, or a response to a perceived threat. Your dog wants to be a contributing member of the family and they often assign themselves the role of the protector. Everything is new to a puppy, so his barking may be a warning that a garbage truck is nearby or a neighbor is walking past the house or your hat is on crooked.
Don’t we all marvel at the calm, focused demeanor of service dogs? My husband and I were being seated for lunch last week when I immediately noticed a giant Newfoundland calmly lounging under the bar. The dog wore a bright red “service dog” vest. My eyes traveled up to the gentleman sitting above the pup, eating his lunch, and I gave him a weak, polite smile. I didn’t want to gawk, but the dog captured my attention and it was hard to turn away.
Some time later when I was convinced the gentleman wasn’t looking, I stealthily pulled out my camera phone and snapped a photo. Don’t judge! Have you ever seen a Newfie service dog? It was a sight to behold. Congratulating myself on my sleight of hand, I snuck a look at the image. The photo was blurry. I’m clearly not cut out for the spy business.
I really wanted a closer look at this dog before the guy left, so I approached him, introduced myself and told him I was an avid animal lover and was mesmerized by his dog. He beamingly said she was one of only a handful of Newfoundland service dogs, told me about her special training, and allowed me to pet her. When I got up to leave, he said “Do you want to take another picture? I’m sure the first one didn’t turn out too well.” I laughed and told him I was trying to be sneaky. He confirmed that I need to keep my day job.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.