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How to reduce shedding

Posted on 10 October, 2017 at 22:25 Comments comments (0)



You can't stop shedding altogether, but ensuring your dog is healthly and with regular brushing and bathing it can be reduced significantly.

 

The main thing you can do to reduce shedding is regularly brushing your dog. Brushing helps to remove excess and loose fur and redistributes your dog's skin oil into the fur helping it to stay in place. The best brush to use for your dog will depend on the type of coat they have. For short haired smooth coat breeds such as pointers and dalmations a bristle brush similar to you use on your own hair or a rubber grooming tool such as a Zoom Groom or similar. For many breeds from sherperds, spaniels or other medium to long coat breeds a slicker brush. These brushes have tiny tightly packed short wire pins. These are good to loosen undercoat and to remove any tangles before using a deshedding tool. There are a few differrent types of deshedding tools such as Furninators, shedding blades and undercoat rakes. Be very careful when brushing your dog not to press to hard or do too much at once as you can cause brush burn on your dogs skin. A good stainless steel 50/50 comb or dematting comb is ideal to run through your dogs coat after brushing to get any remaing dead undercoat the brush may not have picked up. Speak to your local pet store to find out which would be best for your dog's particularly coat.

 

Regularly bathing will also help to loosen dead undercoat. I recommend using a soap free shampoo as you don't want to dry out your dog's skin and strip out the natural oils in your dog's coat. Alot of the fur will come out in the bath instead of on your furniture. Towel dry your dog with firm but gentle rubbing which will also help remove dead fur. Finally blow dry your dog using a low heat setting. You can give your dog a good brush once dry and you will find it is easier to brush a clean coat they a dirty one. If you don;t have the time, energy or facilities to bath and brush your dog regularly use a grooming service. Also, keep up to date with flea treatment for your dog as constant scratching will also make coat come out.

 

The second most important thing you can do is to ensure your dog's coat remains healthy and they shed less is through high quality diet. These may cost a little more in the short term but will improve your dogs overall health and save on vet bills in the long term. Dogs with food allergies or sensitivities are particularly prone to diet-related shedding. You may need to experiment with a few different foods before you find one that's right for your dog.

 

In addtion your can add Salmon oil,olive oil or flaxseed oil to your dog's food. One teaspoon (5 mL) per 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of body weight is a good place to start.These oils contain omega-3 fatty acids that help calm inflamed skin, decrease dandruff, and improve overall coat texture.

You can also increase your dog's omega-3 fatty acid intake by feeding it salmon, tuna, or other fish rich in these fatty acids. Finally remmeber to ensure your dog has access to fresh water at all times.Dehydration can lead to dry skin, which can cause excessive shedding and even illness. Make sure your dog always has access to as much clean, fresh water as it wants to drink..

 

 

 

How to Massage your Dog

Posted on 19 September, 2017 at 3:30 Comments comments (0)




Massaging your dog is a great way to bond with your pet and spot potential health problems, like tumors or sore spots, before they get out of hand. Massaging a dog is different from massaging a person; instead of doing a deep tissue massage to loosen muscles, the aim is to use gentle motions that help your pet relax and feel comfortable. Consider pairing massage with a grooming session to help your dog feel healthy, happy and loved.

Begin with gentle petting. Pet your dog in the spots you know he likes best. This will help him settle down and get relaxed enough to enjoy the massage. Pet him on the head, tummy, back, and other spots using gentle strokes.

 

Let your dog sit, lie or stand in a comfortable position.

Have a calm, relaxed demeanor and speak to your dog in soft tones to help him destress. You can use your fingers or a canine massage mitt.

in conjunction with special canine massage oil incorporating aromatherapy into your session.

Massage the dog's neck. Use the tips of your fingers to make a circular motion just below the head. Apply gentle pressure, but not so much you make your dog uncomfortable.

 

If you have a small dog, use smaller motions. For a larger dog, use larger motions.

 

Don't press your dog's body so hard that he flinches. Remember, you're not trying to do a deep tissue massage. You just want to rub his body to help him feel calm and bond with him.

 

Move down to the shoulders. Slowly work your way down the neck and to in between his shoulders. This is usually the dog's favorite spot, because it is one of the only places he can't reach himself, so spend extra time there.

 

Next do the legs and the chest. Some dogs don't like being touched on the legs; if your dog flinches, remove your hands and move to the next part of the body. If he likes it, see if he wants a paw massage, too.

 

Massage your dog's back. Work your way back up to between the shoulders and slowly travel down the back. Use small circular motions with your fingers on either side of the spine.

 

Finish with the back legs. Continue massaging until you end up at the base of the tail. Gently massage down the dog's back legs. Continue to the paws if your dog enjoys having his feet picked up.

Helping Your Dog Feel Comfortable

Massage at a peaceful time of day. Do it during a time when you and your dog are already in a relaxed state of mind, like at the end of the day after dinner. This will make it easier for your dog to relax under your touch.

 

Don't massage your dog when he's worked up for some reason or another; it's better to wait until he's already pretty calm.

 

Don't massage right after an exercise session; give him a half hour or so to rest first.

 

Don't massage your dog if he's not feeling well; simple petting will do, but he might not be up for getting massaged.

Work your way up to a five or ten minute massage. Your dog may not like the massage at first, and it could just be that he's not used to it. See if your dog likes being massaged for about a minute, then work your way up to longer massages. As long as your dog enjoys it, there's no limit to how long you can massage him, but five or ten will give you enough time to massage his whole body thoroughly.

 

Stop if your dog doesn't like it. The point of a massage is to help your dog feel happy and relaxed, so don't do it if he doesn't like it. If he's happy being massaged, he'll stretch out and breathe easily. If he doesn't like it he may do the following -

Stiffening when you move from simple petting to massage

Flinching

Growling

Biting at your hand

Running away

 

Consider grooming your dog as part of your massage session. Since your dog is already calm and relaxed, it might be a good time to brush or clip his nails as well. Only do this if your dog actually enjoys the process of being groomed. Otherwise, he'll come to associate massage time with discomfort and anxiety. It is also an ideal time to apply a topical paw pad and elbow cream to sooth dry and cracked pads and elbow areas.

 

Help ease your dog's arthritis pain. If your dog is on the older side and suffers from arthritis, massage can help. Very gently massage around the area that's affected, using a kneading motion to help relieve the pain. Do not press too hard, and do not massage directly over the affected area

You can also gently bend and stretch your dog's legs to help ease the pain.

Some dogs enjoy this, while others do not. If your dog flinches, don't continue massaging. Forcing it could cause your dog to feel worse instead of better.

 

Feel for lumps and areas that are inflamed. Massaging your dog regularly is a great way to examine his body for sore spots that might need attention from a vet. Take note of lumps or bruised areas that you haven't noticed before. Pay special attention if your dog yelps when you touch him in a certain spot. If you notice something alarming, take your dog to the vet to have it checked out

The best way to feel for lumps is to run your hands over your dog's body in a smooth, long stroke. Feel the stomach, legs, chest, and back. Make sure you don't miss any spots.

 

Leave deep tissue massage to a professional. If you think your dog could benefit from a good deep tissue massage, make an appointment with a trained animal massage service. Deep tissue massage can be beneficial for animals, but if you're not intimately familiar with dog anatomy you could actually end up injuring your pet

Other Tips

 

Taking the collar off can make it easier to get all of the neck areas.

Dogs love having their tummies scratched, take a bit of time to just pat them and love them up too.

With smaller dogs just use your finger tips, but still apply pressure as needed.

Dogs also love having their ears massaged too!

It's key to give them the massage in a quiet area, it sets the mood for them and it calms them down.

 

How to Reward your Dog

Posted on 7 September, 2017 at 1:25 Comments comments (0)



When training your dog or just in general it is important to reward them for the wanted behaviour not just to reinforce that behaviour but to also continuely grow your bond. Rewards should not be limited purely to giving treats and machine gunning treats down your dogs throat can do more harm than good. Firstly, obviously it is not in the best interests of your dogs general health and treats should be less than 10% of there daily calorie intake. Secondly you may find yourself with a dog that will only do what you ask if they think there is a treat in it for them. Also, it is not the best way to strengthen your dogs bond with you. It is also important to note the difference between a reward and a bribe. A reward is given after the desired action by your dog where as a bribe is held in front of the dog like a lure before the desired result.

Rewarding your dog generally falls into three methods:- Gift, Verbal or Touch

 Gift is fairly obvious. It is giving something to your dog such as treat or a toy. It can even include "life rewards". For example if your dog loves going for a walk have them sit and be calm before leaving (the wanted behaviour) and then go for the walk (the reward). These life rewards can easily be incorporated in to everyday life.

As mentioned excessive use of treats can have some negative results so if using treats it is important to reduce the treats as quickly as possible eventually not needing the treat to get the behaviour. This is best done by using other reward methods in conjunction with the treat so that when the treat reward is phased out the behaviour continues to be reinforced.

Using a favourite toy and having a quick game is a good way to reward your dog as it also helps to release energy making your dog calmer and builds your bond at the same time. Playing with your dog can be a powerful relationship builing tool, as well as a potent reward.

 

 

Verbal reward is also fairly obvious. Giving praise such as happy talk or a simple "good boy or girl". Some dogs find praise naturally rewarding, but even dogs who don't seem to can become praise seekers if you frequently pair your praise with another reward such as a treat or fun game.



 

Touch is probably the most underated of the three reward methods. There are numerous places on your dogs body that have a large concentration of nerve endings that if patted or rubbed release endorphins to the brain such as dolpamine (the reward chemical) and serotonin that give your dog that natural high feeling. Examples of this are between the front legs under the chest or were the ears joins the head. Other areas are rubbing them on the side or at the top front of the rear leg where they have the skin fold. Quite often your dog will lift up the rear leg so you can hit the spot they like. If you experiment with your dog you will find other spots that they respond to. It is important to be aware of your dogs feedback when trying different touch techniques as they may enjoy some places being touched and be uncomfortable in other areas. For example, your dog may enjoy being rubbed on the chest but may shy away from a head pat. If your dog ducks or pulls away it is probably not rewarding. If they engage, come towards you or asks for more, then it probably is rewarding. Another touch spot that makes your dog calmer is on the stop (between the eyes on bridge of nose). If your dog is showing signs of being nervous just rub here with your thumb and notice how it calms them. Another way to calm a nervous dog is the "calm hold" which is to simply go down on one knee and firmly but gently put your hand on your dogs shoulder to reassure them.


Timing of rewards is also very important. For best results it is crucial to reward or praise your dog the instant they respond to the command at least wthin a few seconds. Additionally it is important to cut down on the rewards slightly when your dog starts to follow the command regularly, especially food reward. This is important as you risk watering down the effectiveness of your rewards, which can make future training sessions more challenging when it comes to holding your dog's attention and making them feel suitably rewarded. You can still give occassional food rewards to keep them on their toes and thinking they might get a food reward next time, but soon enough your dog will be content with satisfaction of verbal or physical rewards.

Tailor the reward your give according to the difficulty of the action your dog has performed, using a lower value one for behaviours that are well established and when there are little or no distractions. When learning anything new or in more challenging situations the reward will need to be more motivating. Examples of different level of reward may be using a more bland treat such as their normal kibble as lower value and a more desirable treat such as cooked chicken as a higher value treat. Or using simple praise as the lower value reward and a combination of rewards such as praise, a pat and a fun game with a favourite toy.

  

In summary

Rewarding your dog falls into one of three categories, gift, verbal, touch. Gift is giving something to your dog such as a treat or toy. Verbal is happy talk and praise. Touch is using a touch that your dog enjoys.

Timing of the reward is important and should be immediately after the action is performed. Tailor the level of the treat to suit the situation. Higher value rewards should be given for learning something new or under distraction and for behaviours that are well established a lower level reward is fine. Having a variety of different ways in which your can reward your dog makes it easier to select the right incentive for the situation.

 

 


 

 

Not All Dog Toys are Created Equal

Posted on 27 August, 2017 at 5:15 Comments comments (0)




If you take a trip to your local pet store you will see that there are an overwhelming number of different dog toys.Most dog owners will simply just get a selection of toys that look interesting or think their dog may like. However, if you understand the three main catergories of dog toy you can develop a strategy to use the various toys to develop your relationship, teach important skills and behaviours and help to make your dog calm, balanced and happy.


The three catergories are Chew Toys, Interactive Toys and Plush Toys.


Lets take a look at each of these dog toy types and how you can implement them starting with:


Chew Toys


These are designed to be chewed, punctured, gnawed on and beat up on on a regular basis. These should be available for your dog all the time. Some people may say that their dog isn't interested in chew toys as they prefer their ball or stuffed toy. It is important to condition them to want to use this type of toy as the benefits are huge. You can achieve this by smearing a small amount of peanut butter or similar on the toy or you can encourage them by rewarding them for showing interest in the toy by way of treats, verbal encouragement or pats.


Chewing releases endorphins that calm your dog down and produce feeling of contentment. A chew toy trained dog is comforable being alone and tends to stay out of trouble when unsupervised and is less likely to chew items that they shouldn't eg shoes, slippers or even your neighbours pet rabbit.

Also included in this catergory are dental chew toys and Kongs or similar toys that can be stuffed with food. Dental toys have ridges, knobs and fins on them and  have the benefit of cleaning teeth, they massage gums and promote blood flow. In addition you can put dog toothpaste on them for better cleaning and breath freshing. Never use human toothpaste as your dog obviously can't rinse and will ingest the toothpaste which is not good.  It is also important to check these regularly for damage to ensure that bits are not coming off that your dog may swallow or choke on. In fact this is true for all chew toys and they should be disposed of if showing too much damage.

With the Kong or similar toys you stuff with food is is important to ensure you are not using junk quality foods. You can buy the paste and treats that go into these but generally they are low quality calories.These type of toy don't hold as much food as you would think, so I suggest selecting the toy you think is right for your dog and buying the next size up. Your dogs diet should not consist of more than 10% treats so it is a good idea to use there normal balanced diet for stuffing. If you dog eats dry kibble you can soak it in water, stuff into the toy and freeze until you want to give it to your dog. If you feed a raw diet simply stuff the toy with this food and again freeze until you are ready to give it to your dog. You can even use there regular food as training treats and save the special treats for a bonus reward.

Food stuffed toys are great to help speed up crate training as they keep your dog mentally stimulated making alone time more enjoyable and circumventing the destructive behaviour associated with boredom and isolation distress. You can also tie a rope through the toy and hang from a tree to add another level of challenge.

Ultimately chew toys are great for funnelling your dogs energy into something and helps to cope with stress keeping them calm while not destroying things they shouldn't.



Interactive Toys

Interactive toys are toys that have more interaction they just lying around and chewing. These toys are great for building your bond with your dog, providing mental stimulation and burning energy In this category are included everything from balls, frisbees, tug toys and even puzzle type toys. These are best brought out when you want to initiate a play session with your dog. This way you decide what game to play and when. This way you can leverage the toy and activity as a training reward. Rewards don't always have to be treats and toys are a great way to phase out treats altogether. There are three main ways to reward your dog. Gifts such as treats or toys, verbal praise and touch. Touch is a very powerful reward as by rubbing your dog in certain areas such under the chest between the front legs or where the ear joints the head you are stimulating a concentrated group of nerve endings. This produces endorphins such and dolpamine (the reward chemical in the brain) and serotonin (the love chemical) which strengthens the dogs bond with you.

Many people may say you should never play tug with your dog but as long as they know how to release when you say and knowthe rules of the game it is fine. It also teaches your dog bite inhibition and soft mouth knowing not to bite your finger by accident while playing. Tug toys withourt squeakers are probably better as the sound can trigger high levels of arousal and may encourage your dog to destroy them to get to the squeaker.

Puzzle type toys are also a very valuable training aid as they stimulate your dog mentally and teach them problem solving skills.



Plush Toys


Many dog owners buy their dogs plush toys and simply give them to their dog to destroy. This is not a good habit to encourage. Remember your shoes, slippers or the neighbours pet rabbit. If your dog doesn't destroy plush toys it is ok for them to have them all the time, otherwise bring them out only when you can supervise your dog. These toys are a great opportunity again to teach soft mouth and how to be gentle. You can start off with a game of tug or similar and them give them the plush toy rewarding them for being nice with the toy. If they start to get to rough take a five minute break with the toy and continue with the interactive toy. Repeat the cycle until you get the desired result. It is not necessary to use treats as a reward in this situation as the reward is the activity and fun they are having with you.


In Summary


The three types of toy are chew toys which include food stuffing toys and dental toys, interactive toys including tug toys, balls and puzzle toys and plush toys. By understanding the differences it will enable you to use each type of toy as a training tool to teach important skills, to provide mental stimulation for your dog and release energy and to help strenghten your dogs bond with you. I hope this guide as been of value to you and you may never see dog toys the same again.


Home Cleaning Hacks for Dog Owners

Posted on 17 August, 2017 at 23:05 Comments comments (0)




Having dog is a true joy but the reality is that keeping your home clean requires alot more work. Here are some clever ideas that may help and are low cost.


1. To help eliminate and neutralise odours pour some white vinegar in a bowl or glass and hide around the house eg behind ornaments or pictures.


2. Use a rubber dishwashing glove to remove fur from your furniture. There are two ways to do this - the dry method and the wet method. With a dry glove rub your hand over the furniture which pulls the fur to the surface and vaccum off, or the wet method half fill a bucket of water, dip your hand in water and run over furniture and redip hand in bucket to remove fur from glove.




3. Use a window squeegy to lift fur from carpet and vacuum off. You can also spinkle baking soda (bicarbonate soda) on the carpet, leave for 10 minutesor longer then vacuum to elimate ordour in the carpet. The longer your leave it the more ordour it will lift from the carpet. Alternatively, put white vinegar in a spray bottle and lightly spray evenly over carpet and allow to dry. I promise that your home won't smell like fish and chips.






4. Wash your pets bedding and blanket regularly as you will be surprised how much dirt they trap. Put a spoonful of baking soda (bicarbonate soda) in the wash to effectively eliminate pet odours.


5.  Bath and brush your pets regularly. I would recommend using a soap free or gentle shampoo to avoid stripping the natural oils from their coats. Regular brushing will remove alot of dirt from the coat and help to reduce shedding. You can also go to a groomer and ask for a deshedding treatment. You can also vacuum your dog as long as they don't mind. Some dogs are frightened of the vacuum and it is best not to stress them.


6. A teaspoon of olive oil on their food each day will also help to keep your pets coat healthy and reduce shedding


7.Put a place matt under your pets food and water bowl to keep the floor cleaner. Alternatively, feed them outside. If you don't want to attact ants draw a chalk line around bowls.


8. Put an old towel or have a mat inside the door to reduce the amount of dirt your dog tracks in, or give their paws a wipe before entering.


Hopefully you have found some useful ideas to make cleaning with a pet in the home easier. If you know of anymore feel free to add in a comment.


Happy Cleaning





Do Dogs Laugh?

Posted on 13 August, 2017 at 18:55 Comments comments (0)

Dogs do laugh. Dog behaviourists have observed a short, hard panting sound that dogs make when they greet people and other dogs and initiate play.

It sounds like "heh-heh-heh". I have noticed this with my own dog as we are playing with a toy. In fact, she laughs her ass off.

They typically make this sound with a wide, open grin.Your dog may laugh as they play bow to invite play or when being cuddled or tickled.

In a study researchers recorded this sound and played it back to dogs in a animal shelter full of highly stressed dogs. The dogs in the shelter showed reduced levels of stress and many even bounced around and starting laughing themselves.

Should you have your double coated dog clipped?

Posted on 13 August, 2017 at 18:20 Comments comments (0)


As a dog groomer I am frequently asked if you should clip a double coated breed i.e retreviers, collies, etc in the warmer weather. People generally want to do this for two reasons:


- to help keep their dog cooler. This is not the case as it hinders the natural function of the double coat. The double coat consists of a top coat (guard coat) which functions to protect your dogs skin and a softer undercoat to keep your dog warm. When the weather is colder they produce more undercoat and when warmer this coat dies off and is shedded. This is by nature's design and functions well. Regular brushing helps to remove this dead coat.


- to reduce shedding. This may result in increased shedding as the coat often grows back thicker producing more undercoat and can mess up the nature function of the coat. It also tends to make the coat more prone to matting.


Some Vets recommend clipping the coat if your dog as bad skin issues so the skin can have better airflow. This is something best to discuss with you vet but I feel brushing out the undercoat would have the same result.

In some cases if your dog is very matted clipping may be the only option.

The downside to clipping is that it can alter their coat resulting in it growing back thicker, coarser and even patchy. This change in coat varies from dog to dog with some dogs showing very little change and others it can spoil the coat. Therefore it may result in them shedding even more and doesn't make them cooler as it hinders the natural fuction of the double coat. By clipping the guard coat which is designed to protect your dogs skin may increase the risk of sunburn.

My recommendation is that if you have had your dog clipped before and are happy with the result continue to do it.

However, if you have never done it I would recommend having your dog deshedded i.e all dead coat is removed. This will result in keeping your dog cooler and reduce the fur left around the home. I also feel it looks nicer than a clipped off dog.

A further way to keep them cool is to clip under the chest and belly only.



 


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