Category Archives: Langley Cornwell

How to Tell if Your Dog is Smart

By Langley Cornwell

Our two dogs are sweet, lovable, and have completely bonded with us. Those are some of the traits they share. A trait they do not share is intelligence. I have had the great good fortune of sharing my life with a menagerie of animals with a wide range of behaviors and characteristics. Of all the animals I’ve ever lived with, however, the big boy I have now is, well, he’s the least smart of the bunch. That’s right, he’s just not that bright.

Not bright, but so willing to please. We call him “the little gentleman” (even though nothing about him is little) because he’ll come and sit down right in front of you as if to say “what do you want me to do now?” If there’s a group of us standing around talking, he’ll walk into the middle of the group and sit properly with his ears and eyes alert, just waiting for someone to tell him what to do. This dog will do anything you ask of him, if only you can get him to understand the request. That’s where things start to break down. He just doesn’t get it. In fact, he doesn’t get much.

I know this is just his nature because we have another dog that is bright. She understands our requests, responds well to training and commands, and clearly exhibits thinking characteristics. She makes wise decisions and seems to know what is expected of her with minimal urging. She has a large vocabulary. I would classify her as a smart dog.

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How to Plant a Dog-friendly Herb Garden

By Langley Cornwell

The first day of spring just passed and where I live that means it’s time to start planting. Here in coastal South Carolina, it’s usually safe to sow your seeds around this time of year, so I jumped right in. I was worried that I started too soon, though. After I planted my raised bed and some giant containers, it rained and rained and rained. It rained so hard and so long that I was afraid I’d wasted my time; I was sure the seeds were going to either wash away or rot. Well, guess what! They’re poking their tiny heads up already. I think they liked that long drink of water because they are responding with hardy germination.

As someone who shares her life with dogs and cats, I’m always mindful about what I’m planting and where I’m planting it. If you’ve ever seen your dog chew on grass, you know that animals have an instinct about plants. They will seek out certain plants and eat them when they are not feeling well. Because of this, it’s vitally important to keep any harmful and toxic plants out of your pet’s reach.

On the other hand, you can make your life easy by simply planting a dog-friendly herb garden like I did. With the herbs listed here, it won’t matter if your dog goes in and chomps on anything. In fact, some of these herbs are even being used by pet care professionals who lean towards herbal or homeopathic remedies. Here are some of my favorite dog-friendly herbs.

Basil

If you’ve ever taken a giant whiff of a handful of freshly picked basil, you know what summertime smells like. This has to be one of the best smells offered by nature. Easy to grow from seeds, this healthy herb adds a sublime dimension to everything you include it in. You might use it to make a big batch of pesto or a fresh Caprese Salad, but did you know basil is loaded with antimicrobial, antiviral and antioxidant properties? So if your dog decides to sample the basil, there’s no harm done.

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Why Do Dogs Love Having their Ears Rubbed?

By Langley Cornwell

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.

Nerve Centers

The ears of a dog are one of three nerve centers on his body. The other nerve centers Dog-Animated-no-offerare 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.

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What Should You Do If Your Dog Tears a CCL?

By Langley Cornwell

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.

Causes

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.

Treatments

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.

Recovery

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.

Prognosis

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!

Photos by Langley Cornwell

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How to Get the Most Out of Dog Walks

By Langley Cornwell

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.

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6 Common Dog Training Mistakes

By Langley Cornwell

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!

Inconsistency

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.

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