Category Archives: Langley Cornwell

Water Safety Tips for Dogs

By Langley Cornwell

As the mercury rises, our thoughts turn to summertime activities. If your plans include taking your best four-legged friend along for a trip to the beach, the lake, a swimming pool, or on a boat, there are a few water safety tips you should be aware of.

Water magnifies the sun so it usually feels hotter around beaches, lakes and pools. Watch your pet to make sure he doesn’t overheat when you’re near water; it’s good to be aware of the signs of heat stroke. Also remember that dogs are susceptible to sunburn, and hot sand or cement can blister your dog’s paws, so find ample shade for both of you.

Keep a lifejacket on your pooch when you’re near the water or on a boat. Not all dogs are good swimmers and even if your dog is, he can get cramps, get caught in a rip tide or simply get too tired to continue swimming.  Hose your dog off after a swim to get the salt water, lake water or chlorine out of his coat.

Bring along plenty of fresh water for your dog and if possible, keep him from drinking the “recreational water.” Salt water may give him a stomach ache, lake water can have muck and parasites which may lead to diarrhea and vomiting, and pool water is full of chlorine and other chemicals.

If your water activities involve boating, there are additional precautions to keep in mind. Modern Dog magazine has a clever acronym that makes boating safety tips easy to remember: SCRUB.

S is for Safety. When you’re on a boat with your dog, safety should be a top priority. Living in a coastal town, we hear stories all summer about dogs that go overboard. There are special lifejacket-type flotation devices that are designed especially for dogs that go boating. These devices have a lift-handle on the top so if your dog does go overboard, you (or a passing boater) can easily pluck your pooch out of the water.

C is for Comfort. A day on the boat should be as fun for your dog as it is for you. Therefore, if your dog isn’t a seasoned boater, introduce him to the concept gradually. Invite him to first come aboard when the boat is tethered to the dock. Remember, there is a lot of new stimuli for him to get accustomed to; the rocking of the boat, the noise of the engine, the smell of the motor, and the confinement of the space. Once your dog seems comfortable entering the boat, hanging out, and exiting the boat while it’s tethered, take a short trip to gauge his sea legs. Build up to longer distances and rougher waters gradually. Remember, some dogs get motion sickness so it’s wise to have the proper doggie medication on hand.

R is for Routine. As with all things, dogs respond well to routine. They like knowing what’s next and what’s expected of them. This is especially true with boating. Feed your pet his regular CANIDAE dog food at the same time in the same place. Moreover, designate a safe place for your dog to go on the boat. Let him know that he has defined quarters that are accessible to him at all times.

U is for Understanding. In this case, understanding means you should extend it to other boaters. In the waters where we boat, there are sandbars where people anchor and congregate to enjoy the sun and surf. Lots of people have their dogs with them so it’s important for everyone to be considerate of each other and the environment. Nothing can ruin a good day on the water like a chorus of barking, lunging dogs or poop scattered in every direction. Make sure your dog is well-behaved, clean up after him and please don’t let him harm the environment (sand dunes, sea oats, native wildlife).

B is for Be Aware. Be aware of where your dog is at all times. Pay close attention to him when he boards or disembarks the boat, especially if you are tied to other boats (rafted).  You don’t want your dog to fall into the water between two boats.

With these water safety tips in mind, you and your pet can enjoy a safe, fun-filled summer.

Top photo by Nathanmac87
Middle photo by Feeferlump
Bottom photo by Jon-Eric Melsæter

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How to Stop Dogs from Guarding Their Food

By Langley Cornwell

Food guarding is a natural behavior in most dogs. In fact, the act of guarding any prized possession is inherent in canines.  Before dogs were domesticated, wild animals that successfully protected their valuable resources were the most likely to survive.

These days, food guarding is inadvertently reinforced in young puppies. Some dog breeders feed their puppies from a single large bowl so at mealtime puppies have to compete with one another for their fair share of the food. The puppy that is able to eat the most food will grow quicker than his littermates. He will also get stronger faster, which means he will get even more of the food, and so on. This seemingly innocent set of circumstances ultimately rewards aggressive behavior in dogs at a young age.

That’s why food guarding is so common in dogs, but what can we do about it?

Food guarding can become a serious issue if you don’t take steps to manage it. For your own safety and the safety of family members and guests, it’s important to teach your dog to remain relaxed while he eats – no matter who’s around or what’s going on. If you have a dog with aggressive food-guarding issues, these steps will help you break his tendency to guard his food.
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Are Small Breed Dogs Less Obedient?

By Langley Cornwell

One of the things I rally against is breed generalizations. Having shared my life with many different types of dogs, I have experienced first-hand how uniquely individual each animal is. That said, I also understand the nature versus nurture debate, and believe the truth is a combination of both.

Andrea Arden, Animal Planet expert and author of several books on animal behavior and training, notes that during the last 150 years the number of pure-bred dogs in the world has tripled. When you add mixed breed dogs into the mix, you can see how the range of dog behavior and physical characteristics within Canis lupus familiaris would be so diverse. I am of the opinion that if you want to know a dog, you should evaluate his behavioral tendencies and personality, and leave blanket generalizations on the doorstep.

Because of all that, I was surprised to learn of a recent study from the University of Sydney that reported a connection between a dog’s size and his obedience level. The study, based on 8,000 dogs and their human companions’ accounts of the pet’s conduct, concluded that smaller dogs have worse, less obedient behavior than larger breed dogs.

What did they mean by “worse, less obedient behavior?

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Superstitions about Howling Dogs

By Langley Cornwell

Admit it, the melancholy sound of a howling dog sends chills up your spine, doesn’t it? If you’re not the superstitious type, then you may blame Hollywood for this association. We’ve all seen movies where the howling of a dog foreshadows something ominous, but do you know where the roots of this concept come from?

The idea that dogs are in tune with the supernatural has been around a long time, and is believed by many cultures. One of the most common superstitions is that a howling dog is an omen of death or extreme misfortune. It’s impossible to trace this concept back to a single source, but here are a few of the more widely accepted origins:

Nordic Countries

Norse legend links this belief to Freyja, the goddess of magic, love, fertility, war and death. The story goes like this – when Freyja is playing the part of the goddess of death, she rides her chariot on the crest of a storm. This fanciful chariot is pulled by two enormous cats. And since felines are considered canines’ accepted enemies, the belief is that when dogs sense the approach of Freyja they begin to howl at the goddess and her magical oversized cats.

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How to Care for Multiple Dogs by Yourself

By Langley Cornwell

There was a long period in my life when I lived with three dogs – two lab mixes and a German shepherd – and I was single. On top of that, I maintained my household and had a full time job. I don’t think that’s particularly special, it’s just what I did. If you fast forward the movie of my life to the present day, however, you will see a decidedly different picture. I now share my home with two dogs, a cat and a husband. The major difference is that I now have help caring for our pack. In fact, the truth is that I help my husband take care of our pack; an objective observer would probably deem him the primary caregiver for our four-legged friends.

The point is, I’ve had it both ways. I’ve been solely responsible for taking care of multiple dogs and I’ve shared the responsibility with another pack leader. Obviously, it takes more work to care for multiple dogs by yourself, but it shouldn’t be overwhelming. During my tenure as the single caregiver, I learned some tricks for maintaining a calm, stable household for myself and my canine companions.

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Tips for Managing Your Dog’s Strong Prey Drive

By Langley Cornwell

We had a major wake-up call last week. According to our normal routine, we let our dogs out in the backyard right before bedtime so they could do their business before we all tuck in for the night. There was a loud commotion and when we called the dogs back in, our male had blood on his muzzle. I washed him off while my husband went looking for the victim, which turned out to be an unfortunate possum. Needless to say, nobody got to bed on time that night.

I knew Al had a strong prey drive, but I didn’t realize the full extent of his instinct. As responsible pet owners, we began to research the issue and learned that there are five sequential steps to the standard prey drive: the search, the eye stalk, the chase, the grab bite, and the kill bite. Sadly, our pup had quickly escalated through all five steps.

A strong prey drive is a natural instinct for dogs because they are predators and hunters. Even so, not all dog breeds feel each stage of their prey drive with the same power. For example, Beagles naturally have a strong desire to search, Border Collies are known for intense eye stalking, and Greyhounds have a powerful draw to chase. Prey drive is a scent driven instinct, and all dogs primarily experience the world through their noses.

In the book Hands on Dog Training, Gloria Post offers suggestions and training techniques to help distract your dog and help him ignore the stimulus that ignites his prey drive. Additionally, she offers substitutes that fulfill your dog’s need to chase prey.   Post asserts that it’s incorrect to discipline your dog when you know he is about to give chase. Instead you should learn ways to redirect his attention.
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