Congratulations on your new dog or puppy
We are so glad you have made the decision to adopt a cat from Animal Aid!
If you are having any problems or have any questions please contact the shelter as soon as you can.
BRINGING YOUR DOG HOME
Introducing a new dog to your home and making the settling in period as smooth and stress-free as possible is vital to ensuring a happy dog.
When you bring your dog home, we strongly suggest having them on a lead as much as possible during supervised time. Your dog can trail the lead around as it walks, hence the need for supervision so as to avoid your dog getting tangled.
You should assume that your dog is not toilet trained, so keeping it on lead will help assist with this aspect of its training and make for an easier transition from the shelter environment.
The first week at home with you is the main settling in period for your dog. During this period, your dog will be learning the rules of your house. You need to look at this period from the perspective of the dog, using canine psychology, not human psychology.
Your new dog will need time to bond with you and your family and adapt to its new home. Visitors should be limited as much as possible, as this gives your dog the opportunity to recognise and bond with you as his or her owners. Visitors popping in to meet your new dog may seem like a good thing, but unfortunately this can increase their stress level as they do not always understand that the person is a visitor, not an owner leaving them.
Contrary to popular belief, going for a walk during this period may also increase the stress levels in your dog. They need time to feel safe and secure in the home environment; going for a walk can add significant stress on your dog and should be avoided in the short term.
Be sure to introduce your dog to the property, showing your dog where its bed and water is. Be sure to reward calm behaviours such as sitting and remaining relaxed. Be sure to ignore any undesirable behaviour such as jumping, barking, whining and demanding attention during this time.
When taking your dog in the car it is best to confine them in a crate, behind a barrier, or fitted with a car harness and attached to a seatbelt. These are the safest forms of travel for both you and your dog.
It prevents the dog from bouncing around the car, distracting the driver and in the event of an accident keeps the dog secure, minimising injuries to both the two-legged and four-legged passengers.
It is also important to secure your dog on a lead BEFORE you open the car doors to ensure they don’t jump out.
Introduction to the yard and house
When you arrive home put your new dog/puppy on a lead and take the time to introduce them to their new surroundings.
- It is a good idea to show them the yard first and give them a chance to relieve themselves after the excitement of the ride home.
- Walk them around the yard allowing them plenty of time to explore and sniff around.
- Remember that dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to investigate their surroundings so don’t rush this process.
- If your dog does relieve themselves in the right place, give them lots of verbal praise and a food reward never goes astray either.
- Once the yard is thoroughly explored it is time to introduce your dog/puppy to the house.
- Keep them on lead and walk around the house allowing your dog time to sniff and look around.
- If they look like they are going to relieve themselves inside in the house, react quickly and calmly by taking them back outside.
- Spend a bit more time outside and praise them if they go to the toilet in the right place.
It is a good idea to restrict free access to the house until you are confident with their level of cleanliness. This way you can keep a good eye on them and take them outside at the first sign of needing to toilet.
Meeting the family
When you first bring your dog/puppy home you will no doubt all be very excited, but it’s important not to crowd or overwhelm them.
– Keep the dog on lead and introduce them to each family member one at a time.
– It is important to establish some ground rules here and teach the dog to respect everyone’s personal space.
– Each person should avoid making eye contact and wait for the dog to relax or settle down before interacting.
– If the dog is excitable and jumping up, don’t acknowledge this behavior in any way (no eye contact, speaking or touching other than to gently brush off more exuberant attempts to attract your attention).
– Once the dog is calm you can make eye contact with them and call them to you for a reward and a pat.
– If the dog seems nervous allow it to approach at its own pace.
– You can sit on the floor to appear less intimidating.
– Have a yummy food reward and encourage the dog to come to you rather than you going to the dog.
– Try not to crowd a nervous dog, give them space and time to gain confidence.
– Give your new dog time to settle into the new home and routine.
Reintroduction to existing dog
Even though your existing dog and your newly adopted dog have been introduced at the shelter, it is a good idea to re-introduce them carefully and under supervision.
– Have both dogs on lead (it is helpful to recruit a friend or family member to assist with this one!) and keep some distance between the two dogs initially so that they can get used to the sights and smells.
– Gradually bring the two dogs together keeping a close eye on their behavior.
– Watch out for signs of nervousness or bossiness.
– Try to keep the leads loose to avoid causing any pressure and move around the dogs to avoid tangling the leads up.
– You can walk the dogs in a circle following each other to encourage nose-to-tail sniffing as this is much less confrontational than direct nose-to-nose introductions.
Introduction to existing cat/s
Your cat’s reaction to a new dog will play an important part in how this introduction process goes. It is important to take it slowly and carefully.
You may not actually introduce them on the first day, but give each animal a chance to familiarize themselves with the other’s scent. When you are ready to introduce them, have your dog on a lead so that you are in control of the situation and ensure that the cat has an escape route if it is feeling uncomfortable.
To avoid injuries do NOT hold the cat in your arms and try to take them to the dog. If the cat panics, you are likely to get scratched! Instead, allow the cat to sit where it is comfortable and bring the dog to them.
Keep plenty of distance between the dog and cat at this stage. Reward your dog with verbal praise and a tasty treat for good/calm behavior.
DO NOT leave your cat and dog unsupervised at all during this settling in period!
If your dog shows any negative reaction or gets overexcited, take them away quietly without making a fuss and try again later when the dog has settled down. You want to show the dog that the cat is a member of the family and no barking, growling, chasing, etc. will be tolerated.
Remember REWARD CALM behavior and REMOVE/ISOLATE the dog for negative behavior.
Introduction to poultry, small animals and livestock
When introducing your new dog to existing animals (be they poultry, rabbits, guinea pigs, cattle, horses or livestock) it is important to do so carefully and not rush things, particularly if you don’t know the dog’s history and previous experience, if any, with other animals.
– Initial introductions should be done ON LEAD so that you are in control of the situation at all times. It is best to start at a distance, preferably with a barrier between the dog and other animals, such as a fence or hutch.
– Have an exit available for the other animal if they feel under pressure. Reward your dog with verbal praise and a tasty treat for calm behavior. If your dog reacts negatively (barks, growls, or gets overexcited) walk them away.
– You may need to remove the dog completely from the situation or just to a distance where they settle and stop reacting.
– Repeat the process until the dog is displaying calm behavior around the other animal.
– Even if the introduction goes well, don’t leave the dog in the same area unsupervised with ‘free access’ until you feel completely confident. This could involve starting off with supervised time together, then being supervised from a hiding place such as a window or doorway, where your dog is unaware of your presence. This way you can observe what they will do when you are not around.
THE FIRST NIGHT
The first night that your newly adopted dog spends at your house can be a stressful and scary experience for them. It is for this reason that we suggest you prepare an indoor area such as a laundry, bathroom, enclosed verandah, etc. with a bed and a couple of toys. You may even leave a radio on for some background noise.
By putting the dog in a crate or providing an enclosed secure area the dog will feel more comfortable and not have to worry about all the night sounds and smells. You will also feel more confident knowing that the dog is secure and can’t escape.
We recommend keeping your dog in this area at night for the first couple of weeks while it settles in to your home. Be sure to choose an area that is easy to clean in case of accidents, and remove any items that you don’t want destroyed or chewed on.
Last thing at night make sure you take your dog out for a final toilet break, then when it is time for bed, bring the dog calmly into the prepared area with a “good dog” and without too much fuss close the door.
When you first bring your new dog/puppy home avoid letting them have access to the whole house unsupervised. Where possible close doors to bedrooms and hallways so that you can easily observe the dog.
If no one is available to supervise the dog, it’s a good idea to place them in a more confined area such as a playpen, large create or laundry, with a bed, toy and water bowl, to prevent them wandering off and toileting somewhere in the house.
Toilet Training Tips
– Ensure that you provide frequent toilet breaks.
– Initially take the dog out at regular intervals, including after meals and after play.
– Look out for signs that your dog might be looking for a place to go to the toilet, such as circling, whining, pacing or sniffing.
– Take the dog out on lead to a suitable toileting area and calmly ignore the dog until they go to the toilet.
– Once toileting has taken place be sure to reward them, and then if you want you can let them off lead and engage in a game. This approach prevents the dog from going out and getting distracted thus forgetting to toilet until they come back inside the house.
– In the case that your dog/puppy has an accident in the house, do NOT punish them. All this will do is make the dog less likely to go to the toilet in your presence. Dogs that are punished for accidents in the house are more likely to become “sneaky poopers” that will hide behind the couch or the bed to toilet where you can’t see them.
When cleaning accidents in the house blot up the mess with an old towel or some paper and then soak the area with a white vinegar solution (1 cup vinegar to ½ bucket of water) and blot again. Avoid use of bleach or ammonia based disinfectants as these can attract the dog back to the same place to toilet again.
It is highly recommended that you put a personal identification tag on your dog’s collar including their name and one or more contact numbers. Personalised identification tags can be ordered through Animal Aid.
It is a legal requirement that all dogs over the age of three months be registered with the council in which they reside, and that they wear their current registration tag at all times. In the state of Victoria registrations must be renewed in April each year. It is your responsibility to register your dog each year.
Microchipping involves the implantation of a chip (about the same size as a grain of rice) under the skin between your dog’s shoulder blades. The chip carries a 15 digit number which is linked via a computer database to your details. This means that if your dog were lost and taken to a vet or a pound, the dog could be scanned and identified as belonging to you and quickly returned. Microchipping is a good way to ensure that your dog is always identifiable, even without a collar on. Microchipping does not replace a normal council registration.
All animals adopted from Animal Aid have already been implanted with a microchip and you will have filled out the appropriate forms during the adoption process. Ensure that your details are kept current; you can update any of your information via Central Animal Records.
MEAL TIME MANNERS
Mealtimes are a good stage to set some ground rules for your dog or puppy and to teach them to have some self-control around food.
Prepare the meal in full view of the dog. If they are demanding in any way (i.e. barking or jumping up), stop what you are doing and wait for them to settle. You do not need to tell them anything at this stage; you are giving them time to think about what they are doing and to work out that if they are calm they get their dinner. When the dog has calmed down, proceed with the meal preparation.
When you are ready and the dog is calm, put the bowl down and move away to give them some space to eat.
When the dog leaves the bowl (whether they have finished their meal or not!) you need to collect the abandoned bowl. If your dog doesn’t finish the meal, you do not feed it again until the next designated meal time. By not leaving food down for your dog at all times you will avoid creating a “fussy” eater by showing them that it is YOU who decides when the meal time starts and finishes, not them.
A healthy dog or puppy will not starve itself! If you have any concerns about your dog or puppy please do not hesitate to contact Animal Aid for advice.
All dogs and puppies at Animal Aid are fed Savourlife dry dog food, a premium, nutritionally complete diet with high quality, highly digestible ingredients.
Dogs have very different digestion to ours, which can be easily upset when you change their food in any way. Savourlife or other premium brands provide the best all round nutrition for your dog, but if you are going to make a transition to any other food do so gradually, slowly increasing the amount of the new food over a period of at least seven to ten days, so your pet can adjust. Don’t worry if your cat has an upset tummy at the beginning as this is normal.
You should maintain a nutritionally balanced diet for your dog, and when you go to the supermarket, pet shop, vet clinic or butcher you will be faced with many choices including:
Dry or Tinned Food?
Specially formulated dry foods are one of the most economical forms of feeding. They come in a wide range of formulations including puppy, adult, senior and low fat, in addition to formulas designed for specific medical conditions and individual breeds.
While tinned foods also come in complete and balanced formulations to suit a wide range of stages in your dog/pup’s life we don’t recommend feeding it as your dog/pup’s sole diet. Tinned food is not good for keeping your pet’s teeth clean and when fed in large quantities can also cause diarrhoea. We recommend that you use tinned food sparingly if at all. Pups which are fed commercial puppy food (tinned or dry) will not need additional calcium or vitamins!
Always try to get the best quality food you can afford. Cheaper supermarket brands tend to be full of artificial colours and flavours which should be avoided where possible. Stick to the premium brand dry foods available at pet shops and vet clinics such as Eagle Pack, Iams, Eukanuba, and Hill’s Science Diet, or better quality supermarket brands such as Optimum or Purina.
Homemade diets should be approved by a Vet in order to avoid health problems which may result from a poorly-balanced diet that is deficient in vital nutrients. Meat is an important source of protein, but on its own doesn’t create a complete and balanced diet, being deficient in calcium which is required for healthy bone development.
Cooked or raw vegetables can be an adequate dietary supplement but are completely unnecessary if a good quality dry food is fed. Some vegetables, such as onion and garlic are toxic to dogs and should be avoided, as they can cause breakdown of red blood cells and anemia.
Milk is unnecessary for your dog or puppy, and cow’s milk can cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea. If you want to give milk, choose the lactose free varieties such as soy or pet milk (available in the pet food aisle of the supermarket) and feed in small quantities.
Cereals are unnecessary as a breakfast item for puppies, and whilst they do provide carbohydrates they are deficient in many other essential nutrients. It is more beneficial to simply provide your puppy with a complete and balanced puppy food.
Bones help to clean teeth and gums. The best bones are the large, whole marrow bones and raw chicken wings, while chicken necks are good for pups and smaller dogs. Small breed dogs are predisposed to developing dental disease and it is very important to feed bones and dry food regularly to prevent this.
Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s teeth at each yearly check-up and vaccination, and if they are dirty, your dog may require an anesthetic to clean them. It is better to start an early prevention program to keep the teeth clean.
Regular bones and dry food are an excellent way of maintaining dental health, but occasionally dogs may need dry food which is specifically formulated to keep the teeth clean. These foods contain additives which inhibit plaque deposition on teeth and the kibble size and consistency is such that dogs are able to sink their teeth into each piece before it breaks, allowing a mechanical cleaning component as well.
Refer to your vet for further advice regarding the most suitable type and frequency of bone for your dog. Please be aware that if you have other dogs or children, bones should only be given under strict supervision.
Clean, fresh water should be available at all times for your dog or puppy. It is important to remember that your dog may tip over the bowl and so multiple water sources should be available. Ideally a solid heavy bucket or ceramic container which is hard for your dog to tip over and which can hold a large volume of water is best. Remember that your dog will drink more in hot weather so check the water supply regularly.
Frequency of meals
Puppies have small stomachs and therefore need to be fed small meals frequently. Any changes to the diet need to be implemented gradually to avoid problems such as diarrhoea.
The frequency of feeding varies with the breed and age but as a general rule:
6 weeks – 4 months = 3-4 meals per day
4 months – 12 months = 2 meals per day
Over 12 months = 1 or 2 meals per day
We recommend feeding adult dogs two smaller meals per day rather than one large meal. In deep-chested dogs like Dobermans, Great Danes etc., we recommend feeding twice daily to avoid the condition called Bloat or Gastric dilation & volvulus. Bloat is a syndrome where the dog’s stomach swells and can actually twist, and usually occurs due to large volumes of gas or food in the stomach.
Bloat is an emergency and can lead to death if left untreated.
Treatment usually involves deflation of the stomach (by passing a tube through the esophagus and into the stomach to allow drainage of abdominal contents) and by surgery if the stomach has twisted. Owners of dogs which are at risk of this condition should attempt to familiarize themselves with the early signs and also with the following preventative measures:
– Feeding two small meals daily (rather than one large one)
– Encouraging their dog to eat slowly and not gulp their food
– Never exercising dogs after a meal
– Not feeding their dog straight after exercise
– Keeping their dog calm around feeding time
– Raise the food bowl off the ground
Pups and dogs should be fed according to the feeding guide on the food you use, but sometimes this can be too little, or more frequently too much for some adult dogs.
You should judge how much is right for your dog by the condition they are in. If you are feeding a set amount of food and your dog gains or loses weight, you can adjust the quantity you feed appropriately.
To assist you in identifying when your dog is in the ideal weight range, you can compare with the body condition score system (applicable to adult dogs only) provided below. Most commercial foods come with a feeding guide, but the amount needed will vary between individual dogs.
Grooming is an essential part of responsible dog ownership.
Not only does grooming improve your dog’s appearance and health, it also builds and strengthens your relationship with them. If you do not see grooming as a chore, you and your dog can derive great pleasure from the benefits of grooming on a regular basis for life.
In addition to improving your dog’s appearance, regular grooming removes dead hair, foreign matter such as grass seeds and prevents matting and felting in long coated breeds. Correct grooming also removes dirt and parasites, and by stimulating the blood supply to the skin produces a healthier and suppler coat.
Regular grooming allows you to detect any skin ailments or other conditions thus making it possible for early veterinary diagnosis.
The first groom
When you acquire a new dog, whether it is a puppy or older dog, you should get it used to being groomed from day one. A little at a time, stroking with your hand first until they settle. Then begin by brushing (with the correct brush) gently along the back with the lay of the coat. Gradually move from the back to the chest, the legs and belly, always be gentle especially underneath where the skin is very delicate. Finally, brush the head, ears and then the tail.
Talk to and praise your dog while it is being groomed and of course reward it handsomely when the groom is over. Grooming should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience for both of you. Don’t try to groom your dog if it is excitable or rushing around. You need to choose a quiet time and a quiet place where there are little or no distractions; this applies for not only the first groom but those thereafter.
Long haired dogs need to be brushed thoroughly to keep them tangle free. As with short haired dogs, start with the back, lift the hair and brush underneath right to the skin NOT just across the top. Break up the dog’s coat and untangle any matted areas using a wide tooth comb. Always brush following the ‘hair streams’ – the lines of hair growth that run from the head down the back and sides to the legs and feet. Do NOT tug and pull at tangles, it hurts! Always be gentle but as firm as you can without hurting or stressing your dog.
Do NOT use human shampoos/conditioners or clothes washing liquids as they are not suitable for dog hair and skin and may cause irritations. You can use a conditioner suitable for dog hair if you want to and this will make long coats easy to brush out.
Some short haired dogs can go for very long periods of time without being bathed especially if they have been brushed regularly. Dry mud will brush off quite easily in some dogs, so try brushing first before rushing into bathing especially if you don’t have good bathing and drying facilities or if the weather is very cold. There are times of course that a dog gets into such a smelly and muddy mess that it has to be bathed.
Dogs that visit a groomer will usually have a bath at the time of their groom and if this is done on a regular basis then you don’t need to bath in between times as long as YOU keep up your dog’s grooming between visits. Bathing a very long haired dog should only be done after ALL the tangles and matts have been removed as they will only get worse during the bath.
Animal Aid in Coldstream offers a professional grooming service located at our Vet Clinic. Please contact our Grooming Salon staff on 8756 1316 to make an appointment.
Puppies and dogs should be vaccinated against:
– Parvovirus: a potentially deadly virus which causes bloody diarrhea.
– Distemper: a potentially deadly virus which affects the nervous system.
– Hepatitis: an adenovirus which causes severe liver damage, that is potentially fatal.
– Canine Cough (Parainfluenza and Bordatella bronchiseptica): an upper respiratory tract infection which is common in facilities where large numbers of dogs are housed and areas where potentially unvaccinated dogs come together (training, parks etc).
Our vaccination recommendations for dogs or pups are:
– 6 – 8 weeks old: C3 vaccination (against parvovirus, hepatitis and distemper)
– 10 -12 weeks old: C5 vaccination (as above plus both forms of kennel cough)
– 14 – 16 weeks old: C5 vaccination (only necessary with some brands of vaccine)
– Over 16 weeks: Annual booster for all dogs (C5)
Generally it is recommended that a puppy should not mix with other dogs in parks and public areas until 10 days after the last vaccination, when immunity is complete. Before this your puppy may be at risk of picking up potentially fatal diseases like parvovirus from the soil or from other dogs.
Here at Animal Aid we use Forte Dodge Duramune vaccines so our pups under 10 weeks only require two vaccinations, and dogs over 12 weeks only require a single dose of C5 to be completely vaccinated for a year.
We do urge you to continue vaccinating your dog with a C5, which should be done yearly at your pet’s annual health check.
Fleas are a common cause of skin problems in dogs, and with the newer forms of flea control products available, it should never be necessary for your puppy or dog to have any fleas! Fleas feed on the blood of your dog, and each bite is irritating and painful for your pet.
The adult fleas which you can see on your dog only represent about 5% of the total flea population so it is important to use a control product which treats not only your pet, but also the environment.
Flea collars, shampoos and rinses all have a low efficacy at maintaining a flea-free environment and can be harmful to young animals, so ask your vet for some information on the newer forms of top-spot and tablet- form medication available.
Flea Allergies: Flea allergies usually present as intense itchiness over the tail base with hair loss, scabs and often fleas and/or flea dirt (flea faeces) visible in the hair. Fleas are more of a problem in the warmer months, but can survive all year round inside thanks to heating. Flea allergies generally improve well if an effective flea control program is started, but if there is major damage to the skin further treatment from a veterinarian is recommended.
There are 4 major kinds of intestinal worms affecting dogs
– Tapeworms (Common Tapeworm and Hydatid Tapeworm)
We recommend using a veterinary all-wormer such as Drontal, Guardian or Milbemax, and adhering to the following regime:
– Pups up to 12 weeks of age should be wormed every 2 weeks
– Pups from 3 to 6 months of age should be wormed monthly
– Dogs over 6 months of age should be wormed every 3 months
Worms can be picked up from the soil as well as from other animals and can be potentially harmful for people, so regular worming is essential.
Heartworm is a worm which lives in the chambers of the heart, and also in the blood vessels of the heart and lungs. The larvae of the heartworm are transmitted by mosquitoes, and therefore heartworm is a condition which is impossible to prevent without regular treatment with a heartworm preventative. As the worms mature into adults and increase in number, they hinder the blood-flow out of the heart eventually leading to heart failure and even death.
Heartworm preventatives should be administered to puppies as early as possible and can be started from 6 weeks of age. There are many different brands and formulations so you should ask your vet for a product which suits you.
If you have a dog which is older than 6 months and has not previously been on a heartworm preventative, he/she will need to have a heartworm test prior to initiation of a control program.
Starting a dog which has a heartworm infestation on a preventative will not kill the adult heartworms, and infection can be FATAL!
All dogs adopted from Animal Aid which are over 6 months old will have had a heartworm test performed prior to adoption.
Common Toxins in and Around the Home
There are many items around the home which can be dangerous to pets. Common toxins include some foods, laundry powder, cleaning products, pain relief medications (especially panadol), rodenticides, snail bait and some varieties of plants which may be found in your garden.
- Onions cause damage to your dog’s red blood cells and result in anaemia. Symptoms of poisoning can include vomiting, weakness and pallor.
- Grapes & Raisins can lead to kidney failure in dogs. The reason for this is unclear, as is the amount of grapes or raisins required to cause a problem. For this reason it is better to avoid feeding your dog any grapes or grape products.
- Macadamia nuts cause weakness, depression, vomiting, ataxia (loss of balance and coordination), tremors and a high temperature.
- Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are both classified as methylxanthines. Unfortunately, dogs are sensitive to the effects of methylxanthines which can cause hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors, and potentially death when ingested at a toxic dose. Other effects seen with chocolate overdose include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst, increased urination, and lethargy. The amount of methylxanthines in chocolate depends on the type; generally dark or bitter chocolate is more toxic and only small amounts need to be ingested to be toxic. As a rule you should not allow your dog to have access to chocolate of any type.
- Mouldy Foods can contain certain toxins which affect the nervous system, resulting in muscle tremors, ataxia (loss of balance and coordination) and convulsions which can last for days. Treatment is urgent!
- Laundry Powder and other cleaning products like bleach can be caustic and burn pets’ mouths, resulting in deep ulcers and burns in the mouth and even down the oesophagus and into the stomach. Most cases will require immediate veterinary attention to minimise pain and infection. Affected animals often have trouble eating but severe cases can result in stomach perforation or ulceration.
- Pain relief medications which are meant for human use are not safe for use in animals. Panadol contains a chemical which is not able to be broken down effectively by dogs or cats and even small doses can be fatal in pets (especially for cats). It is important to make sure your pet cannot get access to human medication. If you are worried that your dog is in pain and needs pain relief, you should see a vet for a diagnosis and the prescription of an appropriate pain relief for use in animals.
- Rodenticides (rat/mouse baits) contain components (e.g. warfarin) which inhibit Vitamin K’s contribution to blood clotting. This means that ingestion of rodenticides can lead to potentially fatal internal bleeding. Early symptoms can take 3-5 days to occur and usually include bleeding gums and bruising in the skin, especially on the inner thighs and abdomen. Treatment is possible by supplementing your dog’s vitamin K intake, but early intervention is needed. All measures should be taken to reduce the risk of your dog being exposed to sources of rodenticides.
- Snail Bait contains chemicals which can cause tremors and seizures in animals. Ingestion can be fatal if left untreated and treatment generally involves stomach pumping, enemas and intravenous fluids.
- Plants: there are many varieties of plants which can be toxic to dogs if ingested. For example, many varieties of lilies contain a product called oxalate which can cause potentially irreversible damage to the kidneys if left untreated. It is best to avoid planting potentially hazardous plants in your garden, but if your dog eats any of the plants in your garden you should call your local vet to see if they could be harmful to your dog.
Allergies in Dogs
Dogs can suffer from allergies just like people can. The major types of allergies seen in dogs are food sensitivities, allergies to inhaled allergens (atopy), contact allergies and flea allergies. If your dog is itching at itself you should ideally visit your Veterinarian for an assessment, but as a general rule, you may be able to get an idea of the cause based on the following:
- -Food sensitivities: fairly rare, affected dogs are usually itchy all over. Food allergies can be relieved by feeding diets which are specifically formulated to avoid common allergens.
- Atopy: common in some breeds (e.g. West Highland White Terriers), and symptoms generally include itchy ears and feet (affected dogs usually chew at their feet a lot) and sometimes red irritated eyes. This is an allergy which is harder to control as it is hard to limit your dog’s exposure to pollens and allergens in the air. Your vet will be able to give you some hints to minimise your dog’s itch level.
- Contact allergies: common in spring and summer and dogs are usually itching in sparsely haired areas (i.e. armpits, groin, inner thighs and abdomen). Common plant allergens include Wandering Dew, Ivy, Bamboo, Paspalum and Rye grass, but many more plants can cause irritation.
WHEN TO SEE THE VET
It can sometimes be hard to decide when your dog needs to see a vet. The following signs can be a guide, but using common sense to identify abnormal behaviour for your dog is the best way to tell if your pet needs veterinary attention.
If in doubt, always call your local vet clinic for advice and they will be able to tell you if your dog should be seen. In general, the following can be interpreted as symptoms which require veterinary attention:
- A loss of appetite which lasts longer than two consecutive meals (this may be only a few hours in a puppy, or up to 2 days in an adult dog depending on the frequency of feeding)
- Lethargy, loss of interest in play or exercise, unwillingness to get out of bed
- Vomiting more than once
- Diarrhoea for more than 12 hours in pups or 24 hours in adult dogs
- Mild lameness which persists for more than 24 hours or significant lameness after an injury
- Wounds which may be bleeding, painful or infected (swollen, mucky, red or sore)
- Sore eyes (sore eyes can be serious and should receive immediate attention)
- Smelly, red, sore or dirty ears, especially if the dog is shaking it’s head or scratching at its ears
- A nasal discharge which is anything other than clear
- Excessive panting, coughing or difficulty breathing (especially if this does not follow exercise and if the weather is not excessively hot)
- A loss of exercise tolerance (tiring quickly after exercise, slow recovery post-exercise)
- A skin rash which is red and itchy, especially if there are any scabs or disruption to the skin surface
- Changes in frequency of defecation or urination
- Significant changes in appetite or thirst
Expecting the Unexpected
Caring for your pet can be expensive. Even routine care like worming, flea treatments and vaccinations can be costly. It is a good idea to save for unexpected Veterinary costs which may arise if your pet falls ill. Treatments at emergency vet clinics, which may be necessary if your pet gets sick or injured when your normal clinic is closed, can easily add up to $1000 per 24 hours or even more.
There are Pet Insurance plans which will help to cover unexpected veterinary bills if you pay a monthly premium, and this is a good idea in breeds which have a high incidence of inherited problems (for example hip or elbow dysplasia, eyelid deformities like entropion, etc.).
For your average pet it is probably more beneficial to have your own savings plan and set aside a small amount of money each month for an emergency fund. This means that if you are lucky enough to have healthy pet and you never have to use this money, you will have access to it for other things in the future. Choose the right plan for your individual situation, but expect the unexpected and be prepared! It is always better to be able to make a treatment decision based on what is best for your pet rather than making a decision impacted by financial restrictions.
FUN AND GAMES
Most dogs enjoy playing with toys and a good idea to keep your new dog or pup’s toys interesting is to rotate them every few days. This way it’s like having a new toy every couple of days, rather than seeing the same old toy every day.
Another great idea is to keep one or two special toys aside and only bring them out when you would like to have an interactive game with your dog. By initiating play time and deciding when it is over, as well as “winning” the special toy back at the end of the session, you are giving your dog good leadership signals. This is particularly important if you wish to engage in strength games such as tug-of-war, in which case it is important to teach your dog/pup to reliably give up the toy when requested so that the game doesn’t get out of control. You can teach this by swapping the toy with a food reward or another toy of equal value.
When playing with your dog it is important to set boundaries and remember not to engage in too much rough play. It is a good idea to teach your dog/pup to respect human skin, as we are not as tough as their litter mates or doggy pals are.
If your dog/pup gets too excited and starts to mouth your hands or clothes in play, you should issue a short high pitched “OUCH!” and stop play immediately, tucking your hands away and standing still. If every time the dog/pup grabs you with their mouth the fun stops, they will soon learn to play more gently with you.
It is particularly important to supervise children and dogs/pups while playing together so that you can step in if it becomes necessary to do so before the game gets out of control. Remember as an overall rule; if at any time you feel that things are getting out of control, immediately stop the game and walk away.
PETS IN SUMMER
Whether pets are at home with you, relocated during high fire-risk days or brought along on holidays, you need to plan and prepare for their safety as well as your family’s and your own.
Heat stress in dogs occurs when they are unable to maintain their normal body temperature on a hot day. On all hot days, especially days of Severe, Extreme or Code Red fire danger, keep your pets as cool as possible. Keeping your pets comfortable on a hot day is your responsibility.
Heat stress – look for the warning signs:
– Excessive panting.
– Pets that whine or seem agitated.
In cases of severe heat stress or heat stroke, pets may stop panting and vomit. If your pet shows these symptoms, consult a vet immediately. Keep your vet’s handy at all times.
Tips for keeping pets cool
- Have fresh, cold water available at all times.
- Ensure your pet has shade at all times or bring them inside into a cool room.
- Wipe your pet down with a cool, damp towel or leave wet towels out for them to lie on.
- Wet your dog with cool water several times throughout the day.
- Consider buying a wading pool for your dog.
- Place ice blocks in your pet’s water bowl.
- Place ice in a pillow case and place it near your pets.
- Consider having your dog clipped if their coat is long and thick
- Never leave your pets in a vehicle on a hot day.
DEALING WITH SEPARATION ANXIETY
Dogs are extremely social “pack” animals that prefer to live in groups. Separation anxiety is a common behavioural problem that occurs when the dog is separated from their “pack” which is represented by their owner/s.
Separation anxiety is characterised by signs of distress when the animals are separated from an owner or family to which the animal is highly attached. Behavioural responses may include destructiveness, escaping, house-soiling, excessive barking, digging or pacing.
The aim of the following treatment is to teach the dog how to be calm and relaxed during the owner’s absence. It involves changes in how you interact with your dog, changes in your leaving and returning home protocols, lowering the anxiety associated with your departure, teaching your dog how to be left alone, environmental changes as well as management and independence training.
Changes in pet-owner interactions
You are aiming to help the dog to become more independent. It involves ignoring your dog’s attention-seeking behaviour and rewarding your dog for being calm and relaxed. This behavioural therapy is vital to the treatment of separation anxiety.
Changes in leaving and return routines
In an attempt to decrease the level of anxiety that some dogs exhibit prior to an owner’s departure, it is recommended that the owner ignore the dog for 15-30 minutes prior to leaving. Upon return, they are to greet the dog softly and quietly, and attend to the dog only when it is calm and quiet. You may have to ignore your dog for 5-10 minutes when you return home.
Decreasing the anxiety associated with your departure
You need to change the pre-departure cues and re-teach the dog that the ‘routine’ no longer predicts your departure. This is accomplished through habituation, counter-conditioning and desensitisation which are explained below.
Habituation is a decrease in your dog’s response as a consequence of repeated exposure to your departure. The goal is to disassociate the pre-departure cues from your actual departure. Examples include picking up keys, putting on shoes, packing briefcase, or picking up your handbag etc. Using the picking up keys as an example, through habituation, the owner picks up the keys; the dog alerts, becomes anxious and comes to the owner. The owner ignores the dog and undertakes an alternative activity and does not leave the house. You could randomly pick up your keys during TV commercials or pick up and move your handbag or briefcase as you go from room to room about the house. Consequently, the dog learns that the keys mean nothing. This is done so that they no longer predict departure, no longer lead to an anxious response, and become less important to the dog and easier to ignore.
Counter-conditioning is a behaviour that is behaviourally and physiologically incompatible with another. A dog cannot be anxious and relaxed at the same time. In the case of separation anxiety, the dog is rewarded for relaxation and the technique is used to decrease the response of the dog to departure cues. For example, the dog is taught to sit/stay near an exit. If the dog is calm and relaxed, it is rewarded with a food treat or a pat and vocal praise “good dog”. This process is usually used in combination with de-sensitisation.
De-sensitisation requires a dog to be exposed to a low-level anxiety-causing stimulus, in this case separation. This low-level anxiety response can be easily interrupted and diverted. Gradually the intensity of the stimulus can be increased, ideally without eliciting the anxious response. An owner can get closer to the door, eventually step outside the door, but returns quickly. As the dog learns the task, the owner can increase the time away.
Teaching the dog to be left alone at home
This involves gradually planning your departures, which use short absences to de-sensitise the dog to their owner leaving and being gone. Prior to this part of the treatment, the dog must have already been habituated to departure cues, de-sensitised to approaches to the door and have some counter-conditioning default behaviours to fall back on.
Gradually planned departures are like real departures with two exceptions. Initially the absences are very short i.e. walking to the letterbox and as you depart, you leave a new and consistent ‘safety cue’ or signal for the dog. The safety cue can be a visual and safe place such as a towel or rug that is put down just prior to departure.
Environmental changes and management
Suggestions include increased play, exercise and mental stimulation – taking the dog for a walk in the morning may help to reduce their anxiety levels when they are alone during the day. ‘Doggie Day Care’, organising a dog sitter or walker to walk the dog during the day, ‘mixing up’ departure cues, masking departure with noise while the dog is busy with a toy in another room; providing food treats in dog toys such as “Kong’s” so the dog can preoccupy themselves trying to access the food treat. You can use a scatter feeding technique and treasure hunts to help keep your dog mentally stimulated.
In some cases, where the dog may be a danger to itself (e.g. a dog that causes serious physical injury to itself due to anxiety) veterinarians may suggest a combination of medication and behavioural modification and training to help the dog.
Nervousness is a trait that is usually inherited from the parents of the dog. Nervous dogs need extra care when being introduced to new situations or people, as they are naturally more cautious than other dogs. It is vital that, as puppies, all dogs are correctly socialised and are exposed to situations and environments on a regular basis, but particularly nervous dogs. All of their experiences should be controlled to ensure any interaction or exposure to stimuli is positive. This must be done with great care to ensure that the dog is not overwhelmed or scared.
When nervous, a dog may display a number of signs or behaviours; some may be very subtle and go unnoticed while others are overt.
When dogs are stressed they may lick their lips, yawn, avoid eye contact by looking away or try to escape by backing away or hiding. If you notice any of these signs, you should either remove the perceived threat or retreat to a greater distance where the dog is more confident and is willing to engage with you. By playing a game of tug or having reliable obedience commands to run through with your dog, you are able to set your dog up for success which can help them to associate the situation or stimuli with something pleasant and fun.
When these subtle behaviours are unnoticed (or ignored) the dog may then begin to cower, usually you will see them tuck their tail between the legs and their respiration rate will increase (panting).
Do not force your dog into situations in an attempt to “get your dog used to it”.
If an animal is continually forced into situations and unable to avoid or escape, it may resort to more intense behaviour as they can perceive that their life is in emanate danger. Some of the behaviours that dogs may display when they feel threatened are growling, lunging forward and snapping in an attempt to remove the perceived threat, be it a real threat or not.
If this behaviour is allowed to present itself, it is important that the dog is not punished for the behaviour, this will only intensify the reaction, confirm the dogs “emotional” perception (fear) of the stimuli and or environment and the dog will learn that exhibiting aggressive behaviours is an effective response to control situations that it believes to be scary.
Punishing a frightened dog may also result in them becoming afraid of you and they may redirect their aggression onto you, e.g. biting you in defence. Preventing your dog from having to feel the need for self-protection, starts by looking out for the early signs of fearful behaviour as mentioned above.
Regardless of the breed of dog, each dog should be treated on its own merit and its responses and behaviour to the situation.
Socialisation and habituation for a nervous dog can be helped by controlling the exposure to the specific situations, whilst engaging the dog with something that it enjoys such as a game of tug, ball or food.
When desensitising a dog to any stimuli that it perceives as a threat, it is important to remember that whilst it may not be a realistic threat or danger, the dog believes it to be. Educate yourself about canine behaviour and observe your dog carefully, when the first signs of nervousness are displayed, calmly move your dog away from the stimuli until you are equipped and prepared to work on the issue correctly.
Keeping your dog in the situation with reassurances only reinforces nervousness, however by moving away, you have taken control and shown that your dog can trust you and in the future, with time and patience, the dog will learn to look to you for guidance when in stressful situations.
By having your dog understand basic obedience commands, this allows for confidence to build in the dog. By simply rewarding your dog when it complies, the dog is learning that if it displays certain behaviours, good things happen.
Building a dog’s bank of positive behaviours can almost create default behaviours that it can display when it feels stressed e.g. sit and focus on the handler. This in effect gives the dog some control in a stressful situation; they can decide the outcome by presenting the desired “default” behaviour and be rewarded. It should be noted that the obedience commands must first be taught via the reward based method in a calm environment where the dog is relaxed and gradually expanded to include multiple environments.
Food can be a great reward as this has a physiological effect on the dog; it decreases the cortisol levels (stress hormone) and increases the serotonin level (happy hormone) within the dog.
BUILDING CONFIDENCE IN YOUR DOG
Working with and training a submissive dog can in many ways be harder than a crazy, active dog. Taking the first step to opening your dog’s eyes to a brand new world in which they will not be scared but will fully enjoy, will make your dog’s quality of life much better!
Recognising a submissive dog by their body language is easy. Look for a low tail and head posture. They will usually slink around with low posture, rather than walk confidently with their head held high. A submissive dog may also be hesitant to leave the side of their owner. Submissive dogs can toilet out of fear. This behaviour should NOT be reprimanded as it will only make the behaviour and fear worse.
REMEMBER THAT DOGS GROW INTO BEHAVIOURS – THEY DO NOT GROW OUT OF THEM
Begin your training as soon as you bring your dog home. You should also bear in mind that…
EVERY INTERACTION THAT YOU HAVE WITH YOUR DOG IS TEACHING THEM SOMETHING.
I.e. if you pat your dog when they jump up to greet you, you are reinforcing the jumping behaviour, therefore teaching your dog to jump.
From a medical perspective, every time your dog displays or performs behaviour, the neural pathways in the dog’s brain become more and more cemented, therefore becoming somewhat like default behaviour for the dog to display.
Where to Start
We recommend starting with the base obedience position and command, sit. You should do this in the least stressful environment available for the dog. Then by coming back to these base points in training sessions, your dog will have a sense of familiarity. Familiarity is the most important part of developing your dog’s confidence!
Confidence is a key point to remember in training a submissive dog, the goal in training is to teach them to ignore a very strong internal distraction and focus all of their energy on performing their newly learnt behaviour. Using obedience commands to teach your dog how to navigate through confusing or terrifying moments is the key to getting them to come out of their shell.
We advocate using agility and problem solving games to build confidence in a dog. You don’t need to have competition agility equipment, nor join a club to start. You can build confidence by getting your dog to sit and get them to catch food treats or a ball. You can play hide and seek with your dog around the home by hiding behind a door for example and calling your dog to come and find you. All fun games like this help to build confidence in your dog.
What you are doing during these training session is “creating the new normal” via changing the neural pathways in the dogs brain. As these new behaviours become the norm, new experiences will also slowly be less daunting as the dog learns that working through new challenges will breed confidence.
On this note it’s important to know that dogs do not enjoy being in a stressful state, so when you “re-wire” the dogs brain to ‘learn how to learn”, you create an opportunity for the dog to help itself in stressful situations.
Your dog may avoid trying something new. It is crucial to recognise that this is avoidance and is a deeply rooted fear reaction and not defiance. These actions must be addressed and fixed. Simply applying more pressure to the situation will not necessarily fix it; you will need to be patient with your dog.
Using food rewards also helps build a dog’s confidence. You want your dog to learn through encouragement and leadership, NOT from fear.
Should you require any further information or support please feel free to contact the Animal Aid team on 9739 0300 or email email@example.com
If you like nothing better than coming home from a hard day’s work and finding that your dog decided to “go toilet” on the couch or use your favourite slippers as a new chew toy, then crate training isn’t for you.
However, if you’re like most people, then using a crate to properly train your dog will be time well spent. Crate training takes some time and effort, but it is a proven way to help train dogs who act inappropriately without knowing any better.
Crate training your dog can also reduce stress when your dog has to visit the vet or grooming salon, as this is where your dog is generally housed before and after treatment. Any thing you can do to reduce stress in your dog during this period can only be a good thing.
A crate is also a safe way of transporting your dog in the car or taking them places where it may not be safe for them to roam free. You can use your dog’s crate as an inside kennel when you travel and take your dog to dog friendly accommodation.
If you properly train your dog to use the crate, they’ll think of it as nothing but their very own safe place and will be happy to spend time there when needed.
Selecting a Crate
Crates may be plastic/fibreglass (often called “flight kennels”) or collapsible, metal crates. They come in different sizes and can be purchased from Animal Aid with all proceeds going back into our animal welfare programs and the shelter.
Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for them to stand up and turn around then lay back down in. If your dog is still growing, choose a crate size that will accommodate his adult size.
The Crate Training Process
Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s age, temperament, and past experiences. It’s important to keep two things in mind while crate training: the crate should always be associated with something pleasant, and training should take place in a series of small steps. DO NOT RUSH YOUR TRAINING.
Step 1: Introducing Your Dog to the Crate
- Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Bring your dog over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won’t hit or frighten your dog.
- To encourage your dog to enter the crate, drop some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that’s okay; don’t force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favourite toy in the crate.
This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days!
Step 2: Feeding Your Dog Meals in the Crate
- After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin, place the food dish all the way at the back. However, if your dog remains reluctant to enter the crate, put the food bowl only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. During this period you leave the crate door secured open so they can come and go as they please.
- Once your dog walks freely and enthusiastically into the crate to eat their meal, you can start to close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this; open the door as soon as they finish the meal.
- With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they comfortably stay in the crate for ten minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly.
- Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, it’s imperative that you NOT let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they’ll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they’ll keep doing it.
Step 3: Conditioning Your Dog to the Crate for Longer Time Periods
- After your dog is eating his regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety; you can confine them there for short time periods while you’re home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as “Crate” and encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate and lure them in with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give multiple treats to ensure they have a positive association with entering the crate, and close the door; again you can reward them when the door is closed. Quietly go about your business for five to ten minutes. When you return, approach the crate quietly and calmly, and then let them out of the crate.
- Repeat this process several times a day. With each repetition, gradually increase the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you’re out of their sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you out of sight the majority of the time, you can begin leaving them crated when you’re gone for short time periods. This may take several days or several weeks.
Step 4, Part A: Crating Your Dog When Left Alone
- Don’t make your departures emotional and prolonged, but matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give a treat reward for entering the crate, and then leave quietly. When you return, don’t reward your dog for excited behaviour by responding to them in an excited, enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return.
Step 4, Part B: Crating Your Dog at Night
- Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it is a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to toilet during the night, and you’ll want to be able to hear your puppy when they stir to be let outside.
- Older dogs, too, should initially be kept nearby so that they don’t associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
When a dog feels the need to guard their food, you should approach the training techniques from the mindset that the dog is in at that point in time. That is, “This may be my last opportunity to eat, therefore if I wish to survive, I must protect this food”.
If you keep this current thought process of the dog in mind when rehabilitating a dog, it will enable you to assist the dog to “change” its perception when it comes to food. You can do this in a number of ways.
- Divide the dog’s meal into two bowls and give the dog the opportunity to eat from both bowls. This still allows for the same nutritional value for the dog yet starts to change the dog’s perception that there is more than “that last bowl” of food available.
- The dog must learn to sit for its food and you should ask your dog to wait for their meal before they are allowed to eat.
- You then need to provide the dog with higher value food that comes from you, not a food bowl. Do not approach the dog so they feel threatened, stay at a safe distance so that the dog “chooses” to approach you for the higher value food
In this photo, the dog’s meal is divided into two bowls; the fresh sausage is to be hand feed to the dog by you.
- Start by saying the dog’s name and gently tossing the fresh sausage in or near the dog’s food bowl. You are aiming for the dog to realise that you have higher value food than what is in its bowl.
- You then need to encourage the dog to sit before allowing it to receive fresh sausage. Look for your dog to be sitting, similar to saying “please”, only when they display manners will they be rewarded.
What you are aiming for with this method of training is for the dog to start to see it as a “good” thing when you approach them when eating as you bring higher value food, opposed to “trying to take” the food away. Using the above technique is teaching the dog that when you approach their food bowl, good things come if they sit and wait.
Care should always be taken when dogs have access to food or bones and like all behaviours, regardless of species, new behaviours and thought processes take time to develop into habits.
Please let us know if there is a way we can assist you and your new pet.
We are so glad you have made the decision to adopt a cat from Animal Aid!
If you are having any problems or have any questions please contact the shelter as soon as you can.