Chewing is for the Dogs

Dogs use their mouths the same way we use our hands. That means nearly everything goes into a puppy’s mouth as he explores the world. Chewing is more than exploring, though. Teething pups chew to relieve discomfort as their permanent teeth come in. Some dogs never outgrow the gnawing habit, though, and that can get them in trouble.

Many years ago, our first dog loved to hide in my closet and sleep among my shoes. He chewed off the high heel on one out of each pair of my favorite dress shoes. He also destroyed two television remotes. And our most recent dog stole my husband’s socks (the dirty ones) and gnawed them to pieces.

You Smell So Good!

Bored, lonely, and stressed dogs chew more, because it helps to relieve tension and pass the time. When a dog has a strong bond with a person, your soothing scent helps to reduce stress. After all, a dog experiences much of the world through odor, so the pleasant scent of a favorite person brings him a feeling of safety and can be a great comfort.

That’s why our first dog preferred to sleep in our closet where clothes and shoes held strong scent-reminders of me. He also found my husband’s scent-permeated items attractive—the TV remote (heaven knows I never got to handle that!), and repeatedly chewed them up. Dirty laundry, especially socks and underwear, has your personal signature scent all over it, and can prove irresistible to dogs.

Your Favorite Things

Think about the items you handle the most. These likely are important to you, or they wouldn’t be in contact with you so much. Your dog may target items that are accessible and easily fit into his mouth, especially if they give a satisfying CRUNCH when he bites down. Wallets, cell phones, tablets, purses, and laptop bags all come to mind.

Those chew marks are a back handed compliment, though. If your dog didn’t care about you so much, he’d ignore such things. Chewaholics need help, though, and the key to eliminating the problem is reducing your dog’s opportunities to chew illegal items.

Reduce The Risks

Make a list of tempting objects, and make sure they’re out of reach. Canine chewaholics force us to be better housekeepers.

When you can’t supervise, confine chewers in an area where they can’t damage property. I had nobody to blame but myself by allowing our first dog to sleep in the closet among my shoes! A crate, filled with legal chewies with treats inside, can be a wonderful and safe place for dogs to spend alone time.

Offer at least three to five “legal” chew options for your dog, and rotate a couple of times a week. That keeps your pet happy and your favorite property safe from his teeth.

Ask for Help

Stress and anxiety can fuel chewing. A Fear Free Certified Professional can help you find professional assistance to address your dog’s chewing habits.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT. Thanks to author Amy Shojai for helping our patients and their owners.

Originally published 11/8/2017

8 Winter Weather Tips for Pets

Baby, it’s cold outside! Temperatures are quickly dropping in Central New York. With news folks chatting about winter weather and freeze warnings on just about every channel, we thought it would be a good idea to send some tips your way to help you make sure your pets stay warm, healthy and happy in the chilly days ahead!

  • Inside is the place to be! Never leave your dogs or cats outdoors. If they get too cold or wet, they can get sick, just like you!
  • Keep your pets hydrated! Trying to stay warm will take up a lot of your pet’s energy. Make sure there is always fresh water available for your animals! Don’t forget — your pet will need extra food during the winter months, too!
  • Dress for the season. Have a shorthaired dog? He may be more cozy in a doggie sweater during walks. Try to find a coat or sweater with a high collar (think turtleneck style) and coverage all the way to the belly. Just because you’re a pup doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable!
  • Cozy up! Just like you, your furry companion wants a warm place to sleep. A dog or cat bed with a blanket or pillow away from drafts is purr-fect!
  • Never leave your pet alone in the car! In the winter, the car can become a refrigerator, causing your pet to freeze to death.
  • Put the clippers away! Never shave your dog down to the skin in the winter — his coat will provide warmth. And if your dog needs a bath, dry him off completely before taking him outside on a walk.
  • Heading for a snowy hike? Don’t let your dog off leash. Dogs can lose their scent easily and become lost in the snow. Don’t forget to make sure your pet wears an ID tag and has a microchip (with up-to-date owner information linked to it).
  • Be cautious when you start your car. The warm engines of parked cars are a magnet for outdoor cats. They love sleeping under the hoods when it’s cold outside, but when the motor starts, the kitty can be injured — or even killed — by the fan belt. Bang your hood loudly before start the car so cats have a chance to move away!

Special thanks to the Animal Foundation for these helpful hints!

Teaching to Roll Over

Teaching dogs new tricks is always a fun challenge, and we’re here to help! Check out our tips below for teaching your dog how to roll over.

  • Ask your dog to be in the “down” position (laying on their stomach)
  • Hold a small treat by the side of their head, near their nose
  • Move your hand from their nose toward their shoulder, this will lure them to their side
  • Repeat this a few times, praising them each time
  • Now continue the movement, having them go from one side to the other, rolling over!
  • Once they consistently roll over add the verbal cue “Roll Over” so they can learn the command

Click here to learn more and check out a video from AKC.

Giving Medication

Just like us, not all pets like taking medicine. This can be a stressful experience for you and your pet, but we are here to help! When it comes to oral medications we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves.

  • Hide the pill
    • many pets will take a pill if it is hidden within peanut butter, hot dogs, cream cheese, etc.
  • Crush the pill
    • always ask your veterinarian if it’s safe to crush the pill first
    • if it’s safe, take the powder and add it to canned foods, like tuna
  • 1-2-3 Trick
    • prepare 3-5 “treatballs”, and have one of them contain the medication
    • give your pet 1 or 2 of the treats, then casually give them the one with medication
    • follow this quickly with a “chaser” treatball

For more tips and tricks click here.

Dogs in a Cat Household

There has always been the stereotype that dogs and cats don’t coexist well; but that isn’t always the case. There are many ways to acclimate dogs and cats, and a few pointers are below!

  • “Match” your dog and cat
    • consider both pet’s personalities and energy levels
    • Example: if your dog likes chasing things, a shy cat probably isn’t the best fit
  • Introduction process
    • 1. Choose the location for their first meeting
      • do not bring your cat(s) to meet the dog at a different establishment (shelter, etc.)
      • meet at your home, where they will be coexisting in the future
    • 2. Separate them
      • spread between a few days, rotate which animal has freedom in the house – this allows each of them to investigate the other’s  scent
    • 3. Leashed introduction
      • have both animals in the same room but keep your dog on a leash
      • continue this until the dog is calm and ignores the cat, and the cat is calm (eating and using their litter box normally)
    • 4. Unsupervised interaction
      • proceed to this step once there has been some time where they have been supervised together, and you are positive they won’t harm the other

For more tips and tricks click here.

Bad Doggy Breath

Bad breath in dogs is usually caused by dental or gum disease, and especially for small dogs it’s caused by plaque and tartar.

Here are some great ways to prevent Fido’s fierce breath:

  • Bring your dog in for regular check-ups
  • Feed your dog an easy-to-digest food
  • Brush your dog’s teeth every day if possible
  • Provide your dog with treats specifically created to improve breath
  • Talk with us about home-use oral health products and we can make recommendations

For more tips and tricks, click here!

National Take a Hike Day

Happy National Take a Hike Day! No, we didn’t mean it in a ‘get lost!’ way, promise!

A great way to celebrate is to take your dog(s) for a hike with you. Below are some tips and tricks to ensuring a fun and safe experience for your both!

  • Make sure your dog is fit enough to hike the distance you’re planning
  • Obey all leash laws
  • Pick up after your dog(s)
  • Bring enough food and water for both of you
  • Watch what they ingest
  • Conduct a post-hike check up on your dog(s)
    • Especially for ticks!

For more tips click here.

Potty Training

Struggling to housebreak the furry new addition to your family? We’re here to help!

Dos

  • Set a routine
  • Pay attention to the clock and their eating schedule
  • Stay calm and assertive

Don’ts

  • Don’t punish your puppy for an accident
  • Don’t let your energy affect your puppy (impatience or nervousness)

For more details on Potty Training your puppy click here.

Benefits of Exotic Pets

Owning exotic pets can be a lot of work, but can be equally rewarding! Check out some benefits of having an exotic pet below.

  • You’ll learn from them
  • Most take up less space than a dog or cat
  • Most are hypoallergenic
  • Most don’t need to be walked
  • Most tend to live longer than cats and dogs

For more information and benefits, click here!

Territorial Behavior

It’s natural for dogs to guard the things that matter to them: us (their family) and their resources (food bowl, toys, etc.) With this being said, keep an eye out for excessive barking, growling, or snapping; this can lead to problems further down the road.

Check out these tips to aid your territorial dog!

  • Go over basic obedience skills
  • Recall (coming when called)
  • Ask your dog to work for reward (“sit” before putting their leash on, etc.)
  • Teach a command for them to not bark, such as “settle”
  • Reduce your dog’s anxiety

For more information on these tips, click here!