Thursday, June 29, 2017

4th of July Safety!

The 4th of July is so much fun, said no dog ever.

Many pets are terrified of fireworks and other loud noises. These sorts of noises are hard to predict and even harder to work on with training. My dogs are usually over threshold immediately upon hearing the first bangs or pops.

Fireworks can cause a great deal of stress in dogs. Some signs to look for would include:

  • Shaking or Trembling
  • Drooling
  • Barking or Howling
  • Refusing to Eat Food
  • Pacing, unable to settle
  • Trying to hide or trying to get into or out of the house, fence or enclosure
  • Loosing control of their bladder, bowels or anal glands. 

Things we can do to help our dogs get through the night:

Exercise your dog early and make sure to walk them before it gets dark. I'm planning on running the girls several miles out at the big park in the afternoon. Hopefully they will be tired and sleep through the festivities.

Keep your pets indoors! Many pets who are left outdoors during fireworks end up panicking and getting lost. If you must go outside, keep your dog on a leash attached to a harness. Harnesses are a lot harder to escape from. Pets should also be wearing ID tags with your most current information.

Close your curtains or blinds. Turn on your TV, fan or radio to provide them with some background noise and distraction.

Some dogs find hiding in their crate to be comforting. My dogs love their crates and I will often throw a blanket over their crates, too which gives them an extra sense of security.

If your dog will take food, you can try to keep them busy with a food puzzle toy, like a stuffed kong. 

Some dogs do just fine with the noises but other dogs, like mine, are not easily calmed by petting or talking to them. They are just too upset by the noise. Pets who are very frightened and who might hurt themselves should never be left alone. If nothing seems to work for your pet, you should consider speaking to your veterinarian about sedatives. We've had really good luck with trazadone but it's important to consult with a veterinarian to find out which drug might work best for your dog.

I hope everyone has a safe holiday!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Silhouette Sunday

Happy Sunday everyone! We recently took Zoe and Phee on a weekend trip to the Oregon Coast! We visited three different beaches and toured Fort Stevens. The girls had a blast and as soon as I'm done editing the photos, I will share more of our trip with everyone!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

Making Better Choices!

Hi everyone! I hope you're all having a great day. Today I have an update on how Phoenix has been doing. As most of you know, we started Phoenix in play groups at my work back in the beginning of February to try and help her with some of her dog/dog issues. Along the way, we've had some struggles and we've learned so much about her. Phoenix also attends our reactive dog class whenever there is room for her and helps other dogs learn how to be calm around each other, so she's getting some additional counter conditioning on leash with other dogs in a controlled manner. Working my own dog in that class has been really helpful for me and has helped me improve my handling skills which is great for Phoenix and great for all the dog training classes that I help with.

The main thing that Phoenix struggles with is greeting new dogs. She is fearful and face-to-face
 (----> <---) greetings are hard for her. Sometimes a face-to-face greeting can illicit a soft snarl and flash of teeth all the way up to an actual snark with light contact. I say light contact as she has never hurt anybody.

The other issue that we've seen is what we call "breed-specific (hereditary) chasing and nipping. This behavior is very interesting as it seems like something she has a very hard time controlling on her own. It's like some sort of compulsive action that she can't help doing. When she sees a dog moving, her first instinct is to chase them and nip at their butts.

We've also seen some low-level separation anxiety from me. As soon as I would leave the room, she would continually pace and try to figure out where I went or try to get back to me. Transitioning times between employees and dogs were pretty stressful for her.

I'm happy to report that things are going a lot better and it seems like each week she does better. We've been setting her up to win with new dogs by introducing her dead last. That way the new dogs are distracted by the rest of the group and Phoenix is also distracted by the group. She is not able to zero in on a new dog to chase and nip or get snarky upon greeting them. We control the greetings by feeding the other dog so Phoenix can sniff them without conflict. We are very careful and thoughtful on how we do greetings and it's really helping. She's doing amazing outside of my work when we go hiking and meets new dogs on her own without help. We have not seen much snarky behavior in weeks, most of what we see is avoidance or a very low level lift lip. We've even seen her solicit play from new dogs out at the park, which is amazing.

A post shared by Lauren Miller (@zoepheedogs) on

Playing in the water surrounded by new dogs she's never seen before!

The chasing and nipping has gotten much better as well. Today I actually saw her think about **NOT** doing it. She started to do it and then stopped herself, turned around and came back to me. She was SO good!!! I was excited to see her do that. She is also not nipping as much if she does end up chasing and is able to recall off the dogs and come to us. We've also seen some play that did not include chasing with her, actual play bows and jumping around a little. It was so cute!

The separation anxiety and worrying about where I am has gotten much better. My coworkers report that she's doing really well and participating in all the training activities that they've been doing. She's still really worried when the dogs are transitioning to go home but we wait until she's completely calmed down before she's allowed to get back to me, which seems to be helping a lot too!

I'm so happy with her progress and I'm really glad that I stuck with the play groups, even though she had a hard time at first. I'm so thankful that I work with awesome trainers and that my coworkers have been so helpful with her. The support I've gotten has been amazing. I wish everyone had a facility like this to help them.

Note: Our play groups are not in any way close to what you would find at a traditional "Doggie Daycare". Our facility is first and foremost a training facility where we work with the dogs to help them with their issues and understand them better. I do not recommend traditional doggie daycare for dogs who have dog/dog issues, as they can end up flooding a dog and causing more issues. A training facility that understands behavior, does training and careful, thought out introductions is where Phoenix goes and it's the only sort of facility I would ever recommend. Pet owners need to thoroughly vet the places they are taking their dogs.