Pulling on the Leash

As a certified dog trainer I can attest that one of the most common problems dog owners endure is being pulled around when taking their dogs for a wa(k. The problem is certainly not a small one, leash pulling can lead to several other problems: Being dangerously dragged causing falls, being unable to control a potentially dangerous dog, scaring strangers on the street due to your lack of control, not to mention being unable to provide dogs with the guidance they crave…

Of course, an obedience trainer is the right place tO start to solve these problems, but not all people have the financial resources to afford that or they simply may not have the time. Some owners (and this is not that rare) may also refuse to go to dog training school, simply because they are too proud to seek out the help of a professional or because they are embarrassed.

Heeding as taught in the Brain Training for Dogs course.  

These folks would prefer to take care of the issue themselves, even though they are not completely sure how.

Nothing can really replace the structured setting and opportunity for socialization a class offers. Dogs learn to be under control despite high distractions such as other dogs and people. If your dog is capable of walking nicely on the leash in this environment, he will very likely be well under control durin9 your evening walk around the block! So taking your dog to a dog training class is a big plus with many advantages. Not to mention the perk of having a professional point out solutions to commonly made mistakes.

Secrets to a Nice Walking Dog

Your main objective is to have a dog that walks on a loose leash. Remember: A leash is just there because the law requires it, you want your dog to follow simply because he wants to be with you and knows that your side is the best place on earth! Of course, this may seem like an unattainable goal, but you will eventually get there (or quite close to it!).

So how to get a dog into this sort of mindset? It takes a mix of classica! conditioning, operant conditioning and special tools for the most serious cases. Let’s take a look at all of these components, one by one:

Classical Conditioning

Have you ever heard of Pavlov and his studies on drooling dogs? If not, Pavlov was a Russian scientist who started ringing a bell and offering food to dogs right after. With time, it was noticed that the dogs started salivating in anticipation at the sight and sound of the bell, even before the food was even offered! This helped us understand how dogs think and use it to our advantage.

How do we app/y this in dog training? It is quite simple. We make a sound (such as a smacking sound with our mouth) and classically condition the dog to associate it with something great such as food. To learn how to use the smacking sound refer to his oagg. Once your dog gets the hang of the smacking sound, teach him the full Look into My_Ey    game.

Once things start clicking in the dog’s mind, we are ready to start moving in a fenced area and can begin walkine with the dog, making the smacking sound with the treat held at eye level. Once the dog looks up and makes eye contact, we give him the treat. With practice, the dog will be “attention heeling” like the pros!

As the dog gets better, the dog is introduced to areas with more distractions. This is when going to an obedience school is best: The dog will learn to not pay attention to other dogs and people, rather, he will chose to make you the most interesting thing out there!

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning takes place when a dog starts thinking “if I do this, I get something for it.” It puts the dog’s mind in a working mode. If the dog looks at you and makes eye contact, he will quickly learn that eye contact gets him the reward. This will mahe your dog eager to work and “operate” for the reward.

Most training today is based on rewards. While the older aversive training methods focused on having a dog obey to avoid pain or discomfort, nowadays, the dog is encouraged to “operate” for rewards. This positive method teaches the dog two things: “If I work I get something,” and “my owner brings good things and I trust him/her,” rather than having the dog fear the owner and associating the owner with aversive techniques.

How to Teach Your Dog to Stop Pulling on the Leash: For comprehensive instructions on how you can train your dog to walk by your side instead of pulling on the leash, see: Heeling & Attention Heeding.

Troubleshooting Walking Problems

So you have your dog walking nicely, next to you, but what should you do if your dog looks up at you, takes the treat and then lunges forward, pulling you and going back to his antics? Here you must be more stubborn than your dog and not give in.

Stop as soon as the dog pulls and either:

  1. Walk in the opposite direction.
  • Stop and bring your dog back to being next to you (as shown in: Healing & Attention Heeding) and start walking together.”

There is only one bad thing that you can do in this exercise: Follow your dog when he pulls. Indeed, when we deal with pulling dogs we really are most likely not dealing with a dog who wants to be “dominant” or stubborn, rather we are most likely dealing with a dog who simply thinks fiKe this: “On waits it works tnis way… f go forward and my owner follows…” In other words, the dog thinks he must drag his owner around because he was never taught otherwise!

  Stop being pulled! Your dog will look   U’ at out and seem to ask “so why did we stop?”  

Therefore, it is simply something that has worked in the past, and the dog assumes that is just the way it is. Not to mention the fact that going forward is very rewarding to dogs, and walking much faster than humans, dogs take up the “pulIer” role very easily. Once we stop walking when the dog pulls, after a few repetitions the dog starts thinking something along the lines of “oh, so it does not really work the way I thought,” and adjusts accordingly.

Tools to Stop Dogs from Pulling

If you have a very large dog and simply do not have the strength to control him, you may be wondering if there are any training tools that would at least allow you to not be dragged along for the ride. There are several different training tools that may work.

The prong collar was once recommended for dogs that lunged and pulled, but it may be too strong of a correction to sensitive dogs or dogs that are fearful or lunging out of defensive aggression (the “I attack first to prevent being attacked“ dogs). Since most people are not fully aware of what emotions go through the dog’s mind and because this tool can potentially cause pain, I would not recommend this training device.

Preferable training tools are head halters and front-attachment harnesses. Head halters somewhat mimic what a horse wears. It gives owners a higher level of control since it embraces the whole head and dogs seem to respond to it more, than an average leash. Although they offer excellent control, there are several cons to using head halters: they take a while for the dog to get used to it, they have the potential to cause injury, and they can subdue your dog’s natural behaviors. If you do decide to use a head halter, ensure that it fits your dog property. A well fitting head halter does not rub around the eyes and instead rests around the nose area, where the dog is unable to paw it off.

According to Terri Ryan, it should look like a V for victory and not an “L” for loser.

The other option is the front-attachment harness, a harness with a front ring that allows more control, and its pressure on the chest area teaches the dog how to respond properly. In order to work well, the dog must learn that he must stay by the owner*s side with the use of treats at first (as taught in: Heeling & Attention Heeding). Dogs appear to respond well to this tool and many people are quite satisfied with the results.

Of course, training devices may hetp you gain control, but let‘s remember: they are simply tools. Nothing can replace actual training, which requires time, patience and persistence. If you stop allowing your dog to pull you and abide to a “no pulling policy,” it may take an hour the first day to just walk a block, but in the long run, your dog will soon understand that when he is ahead of you, you will not go anywhere and it gets quite boring. If your are more stubborn than your dog, you will ultimately start seeing results!

Signs of Dementia in Senior Dogs

In humans, old age often triggers a variety of changes at both the physical and mental level. These changes may take place gradually over the years, or may seem to have a sudden onset, almost out of the blue. In humans this progress in signs is mostly caused by a disease known as “Alzheimer’s disease.”

Similarly, as they age, canines also undergo a variety of changes affecting their mobility, senses, memory and general bodily functions. This canine version of Alzheimer’s disease is known in the veterinary field as “Canine Cognitive Dysfunction” or CCD. The main cause of

’”           this condition appears to be the accumulation of beta amyloid in the brain, a protein responsible for damaging nerves. \ Ith time, as the build-up of this protein progresses, the

brain eventually develops plaque which interferes with the proper transmission of neurological signals.

As much as this condition sounds like bad news, the good news is that when detected at its early stages, it’s often possible to slow down the process, improving the dog’s overall brain activity.

Einstein Says: Acoording to Pfizer Phamaceutical, 62°4 of dogs aged 10 or older will develop signs of this condition.

Signs of Dementia

There are several signs that suggest the possible onset of dementia in dogs. These age-related signs are often accepted by dog owners as signs of -getting old,“ but there is a lot that dog owners can do to help their aging four-legged friends. While there is currently no diagnostic test to actually confirm the onset of dementia, most veterinarians will recognize the signs of dementia after a thorough examination and provide the most appropriate treatment plan. Following are some signs of dementia in dogs:

Separation Anxiety

This condition can affect senior dogs and may leave dog owners puzzled. The dog may appear clingy, following the owner around the home. If left alone the dog may urinate or defecate, and may also develop barrier frustration, chewing at the doors and scratching at the windows. Often, this fom of anxiety develops when the dog’s senses start to fail, leaving the dog frightened of being alone. My article about Sq         gy will prove a helpful read for these circumstance.

Getting Lost in the Home

Dog owners may complain their dog gets lost in the night, barking, howling and appearing disoriented. In other circumstances, the dog may stare at a comer or get blocked behind a piece of furniture. They appear confused in familiar surroundings, often appearing helpless and disoriented. Some just stare aimlessly at walls or objects as if day dreaming.

Pacing Around at Night

Senior dogs are often reported to pace around the home aimlessly for no obvious reason. This may be seen most often at night because dogs affected by Alzheimer*s also develop changes in their sleeping patterns. They may therefore be sleeping more during the day and staying awake more in the night.

Not Responding to Commands

Dogs suffering from canine dementia may also not respond as well to commands as before. However, this may also be due to hearing loss, a condition quite common in senior dogs. Owners also report that their dog is more “distant,” no longer greeting people he knows and asking for agention )ess often.

Loss of House Training

Dogs suffering from canine dementia may forget to go potty when outside and may then not be able to hold it when inside, leading to accidents. Or they may not even realize they are urinating at times. As much as this is indicative of canine dementia, it is important to have a dog exhibiting such symptoms seen by a vet, as there are several medical conditions which can cause this. A senior dog urinating on the rug may be suffering from a urinary tract infection, arthritis, lack of bladder or bowel control or other medical conditions.

If your senior dog is soiling indoors, this article may help: Senior Dog        I g in the House.

Reduced Drinking/Eating

Senior dogs may forget to eat and drink and must often be reminded. However, if fhere is lack of interest in food or water, a vet visit is warranted to rule out medical conditions and find a way to provide adequate nutrition. Dehydration may set in quickly if the dog does not drink enough.

From Normal Sleeper to Night Owl

Sometimes the dog may have difficulty recognizing the difference between night and day and forgets all about routines. These are the dogs who wake up at night and start having accidents around the house, or start drinking or eating in the middle of the night. After their nighttime adventure they will sleep during the day and have no daytime accidents.

Debating on Being Indoors or Outdoors

Some dogs may even forget why they are being sent outside. While before they would go out and do their business right away, now they will sniff around and ask to be let back in, wondering why they were out in the first place. Just as some dogs forget about going outside, some dogs also forget their name or that they already ate.

Memory Loss and Difficulty Recognizing the Owner

Some dogs may even forget who their owner is and may growl or act unusually timid around them. At other times they may have moments of seeming to remember. This may be very heartbreaking for the owner because the pet may appear disinterested in playing or being petted.

A Blank Stare of Seeing Imaginary Things

Dogs affected by dementia may stare at a wall or other object for no apparent reason. Some may even chase imaginary objects or bark while nothing is there. A routine veterinary check-up is recommended, as there are some neurological disorders and seizures that may cause these symptoms.

Treating for Canine Dementia

Unfortunately, there is no cure for canine dementia, but there is a medication (Anipryl) known to slow down the process. OAP diffusers may help to relax some dogs and reduce anxiety. Several steps may be taken to manage the dog’s environment as well:

Keep the dog’s routine as stable as possible.

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Night lights may help dogs that become disoriented at night.

Feed foods with antioxidants, vitamin E or ask your vet about prescription diets such as Hill’s B/D. Encourage play and puzzle games as depicted in Brain Training for Dogs. Practice obedience commands and tricks if the dog responds to them. Remind the dog to eat, drink and go potty outside.

Separation Anxiety in Senior Dogs

Einstein Says: Did you know, music and specifc soothing sounds can relax dogs dealing with anxiety? Click this link to discover a number of excellent tracks to quickly and effectively calm down your anxious dog, plus an entire booklet focusing on the issue of anxiety.

Dog owners often believe that separation anxiety is a condition lhat only arises in dogs when they are young, and therefore, they assume that their elderly dog is spared from the condition, since the dog has never exhibited any signs of such condition up to the present day. However, changes can take place and it is not unusual for an elderly dog to start becoming clingy, following the owner around the house, and pacing anxiously when he perceives the owner is about to leave the house. This can be a part of the aging process.

Indeed, accordine to veterinarian Holly Nash, separation anxiety is one of the most common behavioral problems encountered in senior dogs. But why would this only occur when the dog is older and has never had such a problem before? The causes may indeed be clearly linked to the aging process and are therefore the main culprit of these behavioral changes.

  If your senior dog becomes extra clingy, he could be developing separation anxiety.  
Causes of Separation Anxiety in Older Dogs

A big role is played by vision or hearing loss. A dog who loses one or both of these senses can become increasingly anxious when left alone. If we put ourselves in a deaf dog’s shoes (or should I say paws?), we would understand why a dog may feel particularly vulnerable being left alone, since he would be unable to hear noises that could signal danger. The dog would also be prone to startle and become anxious when he does not hear well and finds himself face to face with something scary, or when he does not see well and is touched without notice.

Another contributing factor if your senior dog appears more anxious, paces in the night, and is now also suddenly starting to soil your home, is a medical condition known as “Canine Cognitive Dysfunction“ (often abbreviated as CCD), the doggy equivalent of Alzheimers.

So yes, elderly dogs may start suffering from separation anxiety, but it is more likely linked to a loss of cognitive or sensory functions or other health ailments compared to the classic causes of separation anxiety seen in younger dogs.

This is why it’s important to have a senior dog undergo a wellness exam to exclude potential hearing loss or vision loss, or even CCD, which may be contributing to the dog’s clingy behaviors and anxiety about being left alone. Most vets today recommend twice yearly vet visits for senior dogs in order to make an early diagnosis and treat conditions accordingly.

Separation Anxiety

Einstein Says: Did you know, music and specific soothing sounds can relax dogs dealing with anxiety? Click this link to discover a number of excellent tracM to quickly and ePectively calm down your anxious dog, plus an entire booklet focusing on the issue of anxiety.

Owners of dogs with separation anxiety know for a fact how heartbreaking this condition is and how difficult life can be alongside these canines. Many owners are housebound, too worried to leave their pals behind in fear of coming home to find a destructed home, or worse, an injured dog. It’s not unheard of for some dogs to break through glass windows, self-mutilate themselves, or scratch doors and walls until their nails and teeth are bleeding.

Owners of dogs with separation anxiety are often desperate for a solution. They are exhausted from finding damaged entry ways, accidents on the carpet and puddles of drool. Contrary to what many may think, the solution to separation anxiety is not only strictly through desensitizing and counterconditioning the dog to fake departures. Actually, in order for treatment to be effective it often requires a synergistic, holistic approach employing a variety of strategies.

Just like many other behavior problems in dogs, separation anxiety treatment requires an insight into a dog’s lifestyle tackling medical, nutritional, and behavior issues together. This synergistic approach offers a higher chance for success since there is less chance of something being missed.

Separation Anxiety Management and Solutions

So you know you have a dog suffering from separation anxiety. The symptoms start only when you are about to leave. The items chewed are windows and doors and items that have your scent such as the remote control. Your perfectly house trained dog soils when you leave, or leaves puddles of drool. Upon recording the behavior, you notice your dog never settles — barking, whining, chewing and digging the whole time until your return. Following are some solutions and management options.

See Your Veterinarian

There are times when separation anxiety is triggered by a medical problem. Separation anxiety                         g may signal hearing or vision loss, causing the dog to become more clingy to the owner. In some cases, in elderly dogs, it can be a sign of canine cognitive dysfunction. If your dog is young, he may have a medical problem that is making him more needy than usual.

Consult with a Dog TraineriBehavior Consultant

Many times, what owners think is separation anxiety iS only boredom. Separation anxiety is often over-diagnosed. A dog who chews the couch when the owner is away may just be killing time by having fun or venting his frustration. A dog who whines for the first 10 minutes and then settles is not suffering from separation anxiety.

Exercise

You want the dog to be relaxed before you leave. A dog left alone with boundless energy doesn’t do well, and in a dog with separation anxiety, all that pent-up energy will go into rehearsing the unwanted behaviors of barking/digging/scratching and so on. Often separation anxiety is worse in the early morning, as the dog is happy to see his owners after a night of sleep. A nice, long and brisk walk in the

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morning would be helpful in this case. Skip playing fetch or ball for just 10 minutes, as you’ll get your dog all hyped up and full of adrenaline, then when you suddenly leave, you’ll be left with a dog that is worse than before.

Nutrition

You want your dog to be on a high-quality diet. A meal loaded with fillers such as corn and byproducts may have the dog bouncing off the walls when you leave. Studies have shown that com, for instance, Towers tryptophan levels in dogs, which is a substance that aids the body in using the “calming chemical” serotonin. Eliminating all com from the diet may be helpful, and switching to a higher quality diet may already create positive behavioral changes in dogs within 3 weeks. Consult with a nutritionist for the best diet for your dog.

Calming Aids

To help your dog through behavior modification there are some calming aids that can help him to stay calm. Composure is an over-the- counter chew by Vetri-Science that helps alleviate anxiety. DAP diffusers release pheromones that can help dogs with anxiety. Other aids include Thundershirts or Anxiety Wraps, recorded music for dogs (“Through a Dog’s Ear“ is one such recording) and in severe cases, prescription medications like Clomicalm and Reconcile. Many owners have found that leaving music or the TV on helps dogs to cope better, as long as this is done as well when the owner is not leaving, otherwise it becomes a pre-departure cue. Some like to record daily activity noises like noises of them washing the dishes and talking on the phone, then play those whan the dog is alone.

Confidence Building

Dogs with separation anxiety need to gain more confidence. It’s almost as if these dogs are unable to function when their “other half” is away from the home. Clicker training, obedience training and nosework are some great confidence building options which can all be found in the Brain Training for Dogs course. If your dog follows you from room to room or sleeps in your bed, work on installing baby gates and getting him used to brief absences and give him a dog bed at a distance from your bed.

Management

You’ll need to try your best to prevent your dog from rehearsing the anxious behavior. The digging/barking/whining behaviors are self- reinforcing behaviors as they help to release frustration, and if the dog is doing that when you come back home, the dog gets in the mode of thinking that it’s thanks to his behavior that you ultimately came back. In order to work on behavior modification you will need to endure staying at home as much as possible, especially during the initial weeks. Getting a pet-sitter/friend/relative or taking him to doggy daycare may help if you need to leave your dog during this phase. If you must leave and your dog gets nervous at the sound of the car, park your car faMer away the day prior, then on departure day, close the door without making much noise, then walk to the car so the engine noise is possibly muffled with the other cars, and hopefully your dog won’t pay much attention to the sound.

Depending on how severe the anxiety is, some dogs may do better in a crate and some absolutely not. This is something you will need to evaluate. Some dogs who tend to pace a lot, once in the crate, stop doing so. Others will panic so much they risk getting hurt once in the crate, especially if it’s a metal crate or if they tend to self-mutilate. Several dogs do better left in a bedroom because people’s scents are there more. Kitchens are good options for dogs who soil. Giving the whole run of the house is counter-productive, especially when the dogs ruin windows and doorways. It’s best to choose a single room and make it an extra happy place to be. When you are in the chosen room with your dog feed him treats, play games with him, give him a massage, or indulge in any other activity he particularly enjoys.

Remote Monitoring

You want to be able to record your dog’s behavior during set ups, and if you can afford it, it would be ideal to have a webcam such as the rF_g_bg_Qgg Camera that you can monitor from outside so you know what’s going on and when it’s best to return inside (you don’t want to do so when the dog is actively whining/barking or you’ll reinforce it).

Low Key Demeanor

Your demeanor has a huge impact on how your dog manages your absences. Don’t make a big deal when you’re leaving the home and when coming back. Act normally and matter-of-fact.

Tip: Fortunately there is a way to see what your dog is getting up to while you are away using the Furbo Dog Camera. It lets dog parents see, talk and toss treats to their dog remotely.

Behavior Modification

For a more heavy duty approach to treating separation anxiety, we can look into using desensitization and counterconditioning.

How to Use Desensitization to Reduce Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

In the case of separation anxiety, the goat is to have the dog become used to an owner’s absence through set-ups. Counterconditioning can be added on top of desensitization to power up the results. In counterconditioning, you are changing a dog’s emotions towards the feared situation or feared stimulus. Following are some ways to desensitize a dog to being separated from you.

Train your dog that it’s OK for you to walk around the home without him following you. Train your dog to perform a sit-stay and down-stay and build up on it (the Brain Training for Dogs course teaches your dog how to st, lie down and stay.). In this case, you’re working at a small distance just a few steps away from your dog, and then you’ll be gradually building more and more distance.

Take advantage of doom or install baby-gates in your home to rehearse fake departures. Tell your dog to sit-stay in your bathroom, (or behind a baDy gate) get out, then come back in, gradually increasing your time away. Then practice sit-stays with you finally exiting the real front door of your home.

Counter-condition your dog to associate your absence with something good. When you are about to leave the room for some time, give your pooch a stuffed KONG that will keep him entertained during your absence. What you are doing here is you’re working on a differential reinforcement of incomnatible behavior. In other words, you are setting your dog up for success by giving him a behavior to engage in (working on the KONG) which is incompatible with following you around the house.

Desensitize your dog to all the cues you are about to leave the home. You know how we talked about grabbing the keys being a cue, a predictor of you leaving the house? Well, now we’re basically re-programming the dog’s brain in such a way that all those cues mean nothing. So in other words, you will grab the keys and then sit on the couch. Put your jacket on, grab the keys and then watch TV. Then you would put on the jacket, grab the purse, get the keys and eat a sandwich. Basically, those cues are now no longer a cause for concern. You know you’re at a good point when you grab the car Keys and Rover doesn’t even pricx nis ears up… Booring!

It’s very important to never let your dog experience the full-blown sensation of separation anxiety during desensitization. Remember: In desensitization it’s crucial to expose him to situations (set-ups) that are significantly less stressful than the real thing. Your dog needs to remain calm. Each dog has a different perception of what is stressful, so you’ll need a good grip on what constitute Sjgns of stress in your dog.

You can keep your dog calmer by engaging in exercise prior to departing or by using calming aids or medications prescribed by your vet.

It’s best to employ the help of a professional to help your dog overcome separation anxiety. In severe cases, your vet may need to prescribe medications such as Clomicalm or Reconcile to use in conjunction with behavior modification.

Disclaimer: This article is not to be used as a substitute for veterinary, behavioral or nutritional advice. If your dog has developed symptoms congruent with separation anxiety consult with your vet, then once a clean bill of health is obtained, get a referral for a qualified dog trainer/behavior consultant. By reading this artide you accept this disclaimer.

Signs of Fear and Stress in Dogs

As humans, we are used to looking for evidence, and often when there is lack of evidence we automatically assume things, though our perceptions may be wrong. When it comes to fear in dogs, it is not unusual to hear a dog owner say something like “oh, don’t worry, my dog is fine, you can pet him, see, he is doing just fine,” while a dog trainer may see a whole different picture. The fact is, when a dog is stressed or fearful, there are evident and less evident signs of such emotions. The evident ones are pretty easy to spot, they are obvious even to the least experienced eye. The less evident ones are subtle, often barely noticeable, or they may be seen but may not be readily associated with fear or stress. This guide will help you recognize the obvious and less obvious signs of fear.

Why is recognizing subtle signs of fear and stress important? There are many good reasons to learn how to “scan” your dog*s emotions. Let’s

tahe a look at some:

Reading your dog for stress and fear plays a crucial role if you ever need to engage with the hetp of a professional in a dog behavior modification program.

Reading your dog is crucial so you can prevent your dog from going over threshold.

Reading your dog helps you to recognize problems before they become bigger and more difficult to manage.

Reading your dog gives you a better understanding of your dog’s emotions and will help you to bond better with your dog. Reading your dog helps you avoid putting your dog in situations he is not comfortable with.

These are just a few of the many benefits, but there are many more. As seen, it is well worth the effort to learn how to recognize these obvious and less obvious signs. However, consider that just as in humans, every dog is different, so each dog has his own “language.” Your dog may be more likely to manifest one sign, while another dog may be more likely to manifest another, so interpret these signs with a grain of salt; just because your dog is not showing one sign doesn’t mean you can automatically deduce he is doing fine, thera sre msny others to look out for!

What is Fear in Dogs and Why Does it Happen?

Generally, the most evident signs of fear are recognized when the fear is intense enough to create obvious physical manifestations. What exactly is fear† And how does it cause physical manifestations? Fear is an emotion linked to survival; indeed, when an animal deals with a perceived threat, it most likely reacts to move away, hide or fight if confronted or there is no escape route. This basic survival mechanism often stems from a response to a stimulus perceived as frightening, the sensation of pain or danger.

When a dog deals with something perceived as scary the flight or fight mechanism is activated, which causes several physiological changes. The heart rate accelerates, the muscles become tense, the breathing rate increases, and the blood flows to skeletal muscles as the body is ready to take action. The brain structure responsible for the activation of these reactions is the amygdala which secretes hormones that create a sense of a!am and alertness. The hormones released are: Epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. These hormones are therefore responsible for the signs of fear we see in our dogs.

Evident Signs of Fear in Dogs

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These are the signs most people readily recognize in their dogs, and are therefore the most obvious, though many people may not recognize them as fear. For instance, several aggressive dogs are often confused for being mean and vicious, when they are simply fearful or stressed.

Cowering/Moving/Backing Away/Hiding

  This dog’s ears are back and his lips are pulfed back in fear.  

These dogs are going into “flight mode” by trying to make themselves look as small as possible, almost as if saying “I am a harmless being, please leave me alone.” Typically they will shrink, with their body carried low, head down, flattened ears and tail between the legs. Often, the dog moves away as it cowers or hides behind the owner’s back. It is a myth hard to debunk that a cowering dog has a history of being abused. Often, the dog is simply genetically fearful, has not been socialized well during puppyhood, or has learned that cowering keeps him safe so keeps on engaging in this behavior to protect himself.

Lunging/Barking/Growling

While some dogs go into flight mode by cowering and escaping from the threat, others prefer to go into “fight mode” by acting fearful aggressive. Rather than backing off, these dogs will move forwards, lunging and possibly barking, showing teeth and growling. They may also try to make themselves look bigger by erecting the fur on their shoulders, keeping the ears forward, keeping the tail up, and puckering the lips. While the cowering dog going into flight mode was saying “I am small, please be nice to me,” this dog is saying *I am big and wish to scare you away.” This *bluffing” behavior is reinforcing since the people or other dogs back oP when they see the dog aggressing in this way.

Trembling

When a dog is scared, you may see him visibly shake as if cold. It is not unusual to see some small dogs shake when they are at the vet’s office. Some high-strung dogs are prone to shaking when nervous or scared.

Less Evident Signs of Fear and Stress

There are several subtle signs of fear in dogs. These are signs that are often missed and that often require an attentive eye. Other times,

these signs are not perceived as a sign of fear but of something else. Let’s take a look at a few of these.

Yawning

Tf your dog is yawning, he is likely not tired, but rather trying to release tension. This is one of the several “calming” signals listed in Turid Rugaas’ book “On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals.”

Panting

Dogs pant when they are hot, when they are in pain, when they are exercised and when they are scared or tense. If your dog is panting and there is no obvious reason and the context may be frightening or stressful, there*s a good chance your dog is stressed.

Licking Lips

The fast lip flicks are the dog’s way of saying “I am getting uncomfortable.” You see them in many pictures because dogs may be uncomfortable being photographed or the camera flash may scare them.

Whale Eyes

Whale eye (also known as half moon eyes) occur when the white of the dog’s eyes show. It is often seen in dogs who turn their heads but want to keep an eye on what is going on as they do this.

Dilated Pupils

This is a physiological response to the flight or fight response. If your dog’s pupils become large, your dog likely saw or heard something very frightening. Keep in mind that tight can also affect pupil dilation.

Leaving Sweaty Paw Prints

Dogs do not sweat from their skin and am pits as humans do. But they do sweat from the paw pads. Often, you see this when your dog is lifted off the vet’s examination table.

  An example of whale eyes in a dog.  

Submissive Urination

When you dog is intimidated by your tone of voice or imposing posture, he may pee submissively to tell you “I respect you, I mean no harm.” You can read more about this bgrg.

Anal Gland Emission

When dogs are particularly scared, their anal glands may excrete a brownish discharge that has a characteristically strong smell of fish. I used to get a good whiff of this smell when dogs at the vet’s office were scared of a procedure. Other dogs that perceive this smell may become nervous too.

Displacement Behaviors

These are out of context behaviors, such a sudden itch, or a sneezing fit taking place when the dog is becoming uncomfortable. In training classes, you may get a dog who suddenly has an urge to drink from the water bowl right when he is asked to do something he is not too comfortable with.

Refusal to Take Treats

When your dog is too scared, his appetite will lower and he may be unable to take treats. Yet, some dogs when scared will quicMy gulp them down. If you need to do behavior modification, you need to find a way to make the feared stimuli less intimidating so learning can take place. Often this can be accomplished by increasing the distance between the aog and the feared stimulus.

Walking in a Zig•Zag Motion

If your dog is scared, he may walk in a zig-zag motion rather than next to you. He may also be sniffing the ground as he tries to calm himself down.

Scrolling the Fur

No, your dog’s fur is not wet, in this case, the do9 ›s seen scrolling the fur after something a bit stressfu1 happened. It’s as if the dog would scroll the fur so he can forget the happening and move on.

Brain And Causes Personality Changes in Old dogs

under closer scrutiny.

The Process of Oxidation

As your dog ages, several changes occur in his brain which may affect the way he acts and interacts with you. As much as this may sound like bad news, consider the good news: Dogs are living longer lives due to better veterinary care. This is also why we are seeing many more conditions related to old age such as cancer, organ failure, painful arthritis, and yes, behavior changes due to old age.

But what happens to the dog’s brain to pave the path to behavior changes? Do dogs develop the canine version of Alzheimer’s disease known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD)? To better understand this, we must took at the dog*s brain

Aging in dogs is not a disease, it*s a process. The brain of aging dogs undergoes several changes at a molecular and cellular level. One of the main causes of aging comes down to unstable oxygen molecules (better Mown as “free radicals”) which damage the cells and cause a loss of brain function under the form of behavioral changes. While several free radicals are present in the dog’s environment. a great quantity are simply produced by the dog’s own body. It’s a known fact that the mitochondria of a young dog produce more energy and less free radicals; while the mitochondria of older dogs produce less energy but increased numbers of free radicals.

Why is the dog’s brain so vulnerable to the effects of free radicals? According to Hill’s Vet, the brain is attacked by free radicals because it has a high lipid content, limited antioxidant defense mechanisms and limited repair capabilities. Last but not least, the nervous system tissue is particularly vulnerable to attack by free radicals. While this process of oxidative damage to a dog’s brain cannot be stopped, it can be slowed down through the use of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and several other steps.

What Behavior Changes Should You Expect in an Older Dog?

several benavior changes may be seen In older clogs. Some of these changes tend to appear gradually over time rather than all at once. If your dog shows behavior changes, see your vet, as they may be indicative of some medical problem or cognitive issues. Following are some common changes you may notice in your aging dog.

Different Sleeping Patterns

Why do old dogs sleep a lot more? This is a normal part of the aging process, so it’s quite natural for your senior dog to sleep a lot more compared to when he was younger. Interestingly, puppies and older dogs tend to dream more compared to adults, so yoU’ll likely see your older dog acting out his dreams during REM sleep quite often. The old adage “let sleeping dogs lie” is true, and you should avoid abruptly waking up your old pal to prevent him from being startled.

Why does your old dog wake up in the middle of the night? Along with sleeping more, you may may notice diPerent sleep-wake cycles. Your older dog may sleep more during the day and then have difficulty sleeping at night. This can be a sign of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, the canine version of Alzheimer’s disease, or a sign of discomfort or pain. It could also be that the dog wakes up because he needs to go potty, which brings us to the next behavior change.

Accidents Around the House

Why do older dogs have accidents around the house? Something you’ll likely notice is accidents around the house in previously well house- trained dogs, why is this happening? Elderly dogs can be prone to several medical conditions that can increase their urination or defecation frequency, or can cause them to have less control over their bodily functions, explains veterinarian Theresa DePorter. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction may be a cause, but so can urinary tract infections, kidney disease, hormonal changes, gastrointestinal problems and neurological issues. Mobility issues may also cause a dog to be reluctant to move about to go potty, or reluctant to go to the door to inform you about the urge. Accidents around the house when the owner is away may be a sign of separation anxiety in older dogs which brings us onto…

Onset of Separation Anxiety

Why is my old dog so clingy? Many owners of senior dogs notice their dogs becoming more clingy, sometimes to the point of developing separation anxiety, something they may have never suffered from earlier in their lives. This can stem from the fact that older dogs may have trouble coping with changes in their routines, and the fact that they may be subject to age-related vision or hearing loss which makes them feel vulnerable and anxious. They may therefore rely more and more on their owners and feel vulnerable when they are left alone.

To learn more, see this article: Separation Anxiety

Why is my old dog acting aggressive? If you thought being grumpy only affects old men, think again, because old dogs tend to get grumpy too! If you notice the onset of aggression in your dog, consider that it can often be a sign of a medical problem. Old dogs are prone to painful conditions such as arthritis and painful dental diseases. On top of that, vision or hearing loss can make them more likely to startle from unexpected touches or noises. Also, consider that a dog who has painful joints and mobility issues is more likely to react by growling, snarling, snapping or even biting to get out of an unpleasant situation, rather than removing himself by getting up and leaving as he may have done in the past.

This means old dogs require close supervision so they are not pestered by children or other pets in the household. This may not be the ideal time to get a new puppy, especially if your older dog is more irritable and less mobile. Sometimes younger dogs may get into squabbles with older dogs. This is often believed to be attributed to the younger dog trying to rise in rank, but chances are, the conflict arises simply because older dogs may fail to offer appropriate social signals due to physicai impaiment, explains veterinary behaviorist Lisa Radosta.

Fear of Noises

Some older dogs may become noise sensitive as they age. This may sound strange. Indeed, if you think that many older dogs start losing their ability to hear as they age, you would assume that sounds would bother them less. But older dogs may feel more vulnerable around sounds since they are more reluctant to get up and check the source of the noise, or it could be that they are unable to remove themselves from the noise. Some dogs may also become more reactive to noises because they cannot determine its source as before, or they may be unable to cope with stress as well as before. Vocalizations in the form of barking and whining as a result of noises may therefore increase in old age.

Appearing Confused and Forgetting

Why is my old dog acting oddly† Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, just like Alzheimer’s disease, takes place when there is a decline in a dog’s cognitive ability. Affected dogs may appear confused, forget commands and sometimes may not recognize friends or owners. Affected dogs may forget where to potty or which door to ask to be let out from. They may pace at night, stare at things or get stuck in corners. Some dogs may engage in obsessive or anxious behaviors.

As much as all these behavior changes may sound like bad news, the good news is that there are many things you can do to make the life of your senior dog better. In the next section we will see how.

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Tips for Coping with Senior Dog Behavior Changes

As seen, senior dogs go through several behavior changes. When caught early, the first signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction can be managed fairly well with the aid of your veterinarian. There are many steps you can take to help your senior dog cope befter with the aging process. Following are a few ways to help your senior dog.

See your vet. As we have seen, many times what appears to be a behavior problem may actually turn out to be a medical issue. Once your dog’s medical problems are addressed, you may seen a change in behavior for the best. Senior dogs benefit from twice-per-year wellness exams so issues can be caught early.

Manage painful conditions through acupuncture, massage, herbs, chiropractic care, physical therapy, or supplements/drugs as prescribed by your vet. If your dogs checks out well in the health department but likely has some level of cognitive dysfunction, the drug L-Deprenyl, also known as Anipryl (generic name selegiline hydrochloride), can be beneficial.

Some nutraceuticals can be given under the guidance of your vet. Novifit‹E by Virbac has shown to alleviate cognitive dysfunction signs in a double-blinded, placebo controlled study. ProNeurozone‹E by Animal Health Options combines antioxidants and vitamins to stow down the progression of cognitive dysfunction, while Senilife@ by Ceva has shown effectiveness within 7 days, explains veterinary behaviorist Lisa Radosta.

Keep your dog at a healthy weight. A slim dog has less weight putting pressure on the joints which can help with arthritis and other painful joint conditions.

Feed a good senior dog diet. Antioxidants such as vitamin E protect the cell membranes from the damaging effects of oxidation, and thus, can help to improve cognitive abilities in senior dogs. Vitamin C also plays a strong role in preventing oxidative damage. Omega 3 fatty acids promote the health of cell membranes and are beneficial thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. Acetyl L-Carnitine and Alpha-lipoic acid are also healthy supplements that Dr. Wynn, a nutritionist at Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Sandy Springs, Georgia, suggests in addition to antioxidants for dogs with cognitive dysfunction. Consult with your vet or veterinary nutritionist for guidelines.

Dr. Gary Landsberg, a veterinary behaviorist, notes that a high intake of fruits and vegetables has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects which may help to fight cognitive dysfunction. Not to mention, the extra beneficial flavonoids and carotenoids.

Keep on training and exercising your dog. Moderate exercise under the form of walks keeps blood flowing to the joints. Ask you vet about an appropriate exercise/training regimen. Also, keeping the dog exercised and mentally stimulated through training and puzzles may keep the mind busy and can reduce the instances of pacing in the night. The Brain Training for Dogs course contains several games which require little movement, such as Ihe Shell Game. The Shell Game may also help to keep the senses (which typically decline with age) sharp.

Provide environmental enrichment. Exercise, rotating toys on a weekly basis, food puzzles and foraging can all help with this. “With more blood flow to a particular organ, you’ll see more nerves firing and more synaptic involvement, and you should definitely increase cognitive ability at that point, too,” explains Jonna Kanable, a Certified Canine Rehab Practitioner (CCRP) working for AGanta Animal Rehab and Fitness in Roswell, Georgia.

A predictable routine is reassuring to senior dogs, so it’s best to minimize the chances for abrupt changes which may cause stress. Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be used as a subsite for professional veterinary, nutritional or behavioral advice. If you are noticing cognitive changes in your dog please consult with your vet or a veterinary behaviorist for help. By reading this article you accept this disclaimer.

Senior Dog Dietary Needs

Along with painful joints and less desire to move about, many elderly d 9S ^£ y ref\Jse food more often than usual. While this may be alarming for most owners, please keep in mind that,

as dogs age, their metabolism slows down, and generally their need for calories decreases. This means that you cannot feed an elderly dog the same amount you used to feed him when he was young. This is the main reason why we see so many obese elderly dogs. Below you will find various guidelines and tips for feeding your elderly dog:

  1. Check his mouth

More often than not, elderly dogs have a certain amount of dental decay. This decay may be the cause of a dog suddenly refusing to eat his dry food. Because of the discomfort experienced upon chewing hard kibble, some dogs may take a mouthful of food and drop some kibble here and there. Dogs suffering from dental decay also have a tendency to salivate, and you may notice a foul odor coming from their mouth.

  Feeding a senior dog may not be as simple as filling his bowl with Nbble.  

When a vet is presented with an elderly dog who has become a finicky eater or has stopped eating, the first thing he or she will do is check the mouth. In many cases a dental cleaning and possibly extractions are su9sested.If your elderly dog is in good health and his bloodwork results return negative, very likely the vet will advise that you have your dog put under

anesthesia for a dental procedure. This is a routine procedure done successfully even on senior dogs. Periodontal disease is known to cause a loss of appetite, weight loss, mouth pain, and even kidney or heart disorders.

Should your dog present some extent of periodontal disease, you can help by offering him canned food or by moistening up his dry kibble by adding a bit of warm water/broth with no onion or garlic in it. This will decrease the amount of pain, and hopefully your dog will be a bit less reluctant to eat as a result.

  • Let’s Keep Things Moving

Elderly dogs are also prone to bouts of constipation. Just as in humans, their metabolism slows down and their bowel movements may begin happening every other day rather than every day. In such cases, look for a dog food with fiber. Most dog foods made especially for senior dogs do have a good amount of fiber. Always add new foods gradually. You can also help alleviate cases of constipation by adding 1— 2 teaspoons of plain canned pumpkin (not the pie version with spices in it) into your dO9      od. He witl enjoy it, and the extra fiber will help to keep things moving.

  • Provide Plenty of Water

Elderly dogs need to drink a good amount of water. Entice your dog to drink by always having fresh bowls of water around the home. In some cases, having more than one water bowl around the house will remind him to drink. Water helps prevent constipation and dehydration.

However, carefully watch for signs of increased drinking and increased urination which may indicate serious disorders like kidney failure, Cushing’s disease or diabetes.

  • Keep an Eye on the Scale

If your dog is obese, you want to reduce portions and add some more exemise. Overweight dogs (especially seniors) are prone to heart problems and respiratory problems. Not to mention the extra strain those excess pounds put on their joints. Ask your vet about putting your dog on a reduced calorie diet. But be aware that what may seem like obesity to you may actually be a case of ascitis (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen), suggesting heart or liver failure. Always contact your vet if your dog appears to have a pendulous, pot-bellied abdomen.

  It’s important to watch the weight of   your senior dog to prevent obesity.  

Are Your Dog’s Ribs Sticking Out?

On the other hand, you want to report promp5y to your vet if your dog is losing weight. As a general rule of thumb you want to weigh your senior dog at least once a month. If there is a toss of weight have him screened for periodontal disease, kidney disease, heart disease and cancer. Always see weight toss as a red flag suggesting something may not be right.

  • Two is the Magic Number

There are still myths suggesting that dogs must be fed once daily. Ideally, dogs must be fed at least twice, this particularly applies to senior dogs. Give one portion in the morning and one portion in the evening. By doing so their stomach will digest the food much better than when they are given one large, bulky meal all at once.

  • Cheek Labels

Elderly dogs may need to be given a premium complete dog food or may require supplements. This is due to the fact that a senior dog’s intestinal tract may have a reduced ability to retain vitamins and minerals. Look for anti-oxidants as they combat the free radicals that speed up the aging process. Ask your veterinarian about adding anti-oxidants to your dog’s diet if the dog food you are feeding doesn’t have them listed. Common anti-oxidants are vitamin E, vitamin C, and co-enzyme Q.

  • Fishy Pills

In dogs with anhritis you can consult with your vet about adding glucosamine to your dog’s diet. This supplement is very safe and effective in reducing joint pain. It is made from mussel shells so they smell very fishy! Of course dogs will eat these fishy pillc right away! Glycoflex io a popular supplement often prescribed by veterinarians. Omega-3, another supplement often sourced from fish, can also help with joint pain.

  • Go Special

Some conditions that senior dogs suffer from may require a special diet. Hills has made various diets for various conditions, such as J/D standing for Joint Diet (for pets with arthritis), A/D standing for appetite diet (for anorexic dogs), B/D standing for brain diet (for dogs with age related cognitive dysfunctions), R/D standing for reduced diet (for obese dogs), and K/D standing for kidney diet (for dogs with kidney failure).

  1. Make Food Enticing

Some senior dogs lose some of their sense of smell. Of course, with this, their appetite may go out of the window too. Try to make food more enticing by adding a few carrots or string 6eans. You can also try microwaving some canned food to release some more scent. Adding a bit of warm broth (with no onion or gartic) to kibble may soften it up, making it appear more flavorful while providing some hydration at the same time.

As seen, feeding an elderly dog is a whole new story. But with some extra care, they may gain a few extra years and enjoy a good quality of life in their later years. Just like cars, regular tune-ups and maintenance are the key for dogs living longer lives and even aging gracefully for

many more years to come.

Disclaimer: This article is not to be used as a substitute for professional nutritional advice. By reading this article you accept this

disclaimer.

Siqns of Fear and Stress in Dogs

As humans, we are used to looking for evidence, and often when there is lack of evidence we automatically assume things, though our perceptions may be wrong. When it comes to fear in dogs, it is not unusual to hear a dog owner say something like “oh, don’t worry, my dog is fine, you can pet him, see, he is doing just fine,” while a dog trainer may see a whole different picture. The fact is, when a dog is stressed or fearful, there are evident and less evident signs of such emotions. The evident ones are pretty easy to spot, they are obvious even to the least experienced eye. The less evident ones are subtle, often barely noticeable, or they may be seen but may not be readily associated with fear or stress. This guide will help you recognize the obvious and less obvious signs of fear.

Why is recognizing subtle signs of fear and stress important? There are many good reasons to learn how to “scan” your dog’s emotions. Let’s take a look at some:

Reading your dog for stress and fear plays a crucial role if you ever need to engage with the help of a professional in a dog behavior modification program.

Reading your dog is crucial so you can prevent your dog from going over threshold.

Reading your dog helps you to recognize problems before they become bigger and more difficult to manage.

Reading your dog gives you a better understanding of your dog’s emotions and will help you to bond better with your dog. Reading your dog helps you avoid putting your dog in situations he is not comfortable with.

These are just a few of the many benefits, but there are many more. As seen, it is well worth the effort to learn how to recognize these obvious and less obvious signs. However, consider that just as in humans, every dog is different, so each dog has his own “language.” Your dog may be more likely to manifest one sign, while another dog may be more likely to manifest another, so interpret these signs with a grain of salt; just because your dog is not showing one sign doesn’t mean you can automatically deduce he is doing fine, there ore many others to look out for!

What is Fear in Dogs and Why Does it Happen?

Generally, the most evident signs of fear are recognized when the fear is intense enough to create obvious physical manifestations. What exactly is fear? And how does it cause physical manifestations? Fear is an emotion linked to survival; indeed, when an animal deals with a perceived threat, it most likely reacts to move away, hide or fight if confronted or there is no escape route. This basic survival mechanism often stems from a response to a stimulus perceived as frightening, the sensation of pain or danger.

When a dog deals with something perceived as scary the flight or fight mechanism is activated, which causes several physiological changes. The heart rate accelerates, the musdes become tense, the breathing rate increases, and the blood flows to skeletal muscles as the body is ready to take action. The brain structure responsible for the activation of these reactions is the amygdala which secretes hormones that create a sense of alarm and alertness. The homones released are: Epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. These hormones are therefore responsible for the signs of fear we see in our dogs.

Evident Signs of fiear in Dogs

These are the signs most people readily recognize in their dogs, and are therefore the most obvious, though many people may not recognize them as fear. For instance, several aggressive dogs are often confused for being mean and vicious, when they are simply fearful or stressed.

Cowering/Moving/Backing Away/Hiding

These dogs are going into “flight mode” by trying to make themselves look as small as possible, almost as if saying “I am a harmless being, please leave me alone.” Typically they will shrink, with their body carried low, head down, flattened ears and tail between the legs. Often, the dog moves away as it cowers or hides behind the owner’s back. It is a myth hard to debunk that a cowering dog has a history of being abused. Often, the dog is simply genetically fearful, has not been socialized well during puppyhood, or has learned that cowering keeps him safe so keeps on engaging in this behavior to protect himself.

  This dog’s ears are back and his lips are pulled back in fear.  

Lunging/Barking/Growling

While some dogs go into flight mode by cowering and escaping from the threat, others prefer to go into “fight mode” by acting fearful aggressive. Rather than backing off, these dogs will move forwards, lunging and possibly barking, showing teeth and growling. They may also try to make themselves look bigger by erecting the fur on their shoulders, keeping the ears forward, keeping the tail up, and puckering the lips. While the cowering dog going into flight mode was saying “I am small, please be nice to me,” this dog is saying “I am big and wish to scare you away.” This *bluffing” behavior is reinforcing since the people or other dogs back off when they see the dog aggressing in this way.

Trembling

When a dog is scared, you may see him visibly shake as if cold. It is not unusual to see some small dogs shake when they are at the vet’s office. Some high-strung dogs are prone to shaking when nervous or scared.

Less Evident Signs of Fear and Stress

There are several subtle signs of fear in dogs. These are signs that are often missed and that often require an attentive eye. Other times, these signs are not perceived as a sign of fear but of something else. Let’s take a look at a few of these.

Yawning

If your dog is yawning, he is likely not tired, but rather trying to release tension. This is one of the several “calming” signals listed in Turid Rugaas’ book “On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals.”

Panting

Dogs pant when they are hot, when they are in pain, when they are exercised and when they are scared or tense. If your dog is panting and there is no obvious reason and the context may be frightening or stressful, there’s a good chance your dog is stressed.

Licking Lips

The fast lip flicks are the dog’s way of saying “I am getting uncomfortable.” You see them in many pictures because dogs may be uncomfortable being photographed or the camera flash may scare them.

Whale Eyes

Whale eye (also known as half moon eyes) occur when the white of the dog’s eyes show. It is often seen in dogs who turn their heads but want to keep an eye on what is going on as they do this.

Dilated Pupils

This is a physiological response to the flight or fight response. If your dog’s pupils become large, your dog likely saw or heard something very frightening. Keep in mind that light can also affect pupil dilation.

Leaving Sweaty Paw Prints

Dogs do not sweat from their skin and arm pits as humans do. But they do sweat from the paw pads. Often, you see this when your dog is lifted off the vet’s examination table.

  An example of whale eyes in a dog.  

Submissive Urination

When you dog is intimidated by your tone of voice or imposing posture, he may pee submissively to tell you “I respect you, I mean no harm.” You can read more about this IIef .

Anal Gland Emission

When dogs are particularly scared, their anal glands may excrete a brownish discharge that has a characteristically strong smell of fish. I used to get a good whiff of this smell when dogs at the vet’s office were scared of a procedure. Other dogs that perceive this smell may become nervous too.

Displacement Behaviors

These are out of context behaviors, such a sudden itch, or a sneezing bit taking place when the dog is becoming uncomfortable. In training classes, you may get a dog who suddenly has an urge to drink from the watet bowl right when he is asked to do something he is not too comfortable with.

Refusal to Take Treats

When your dog is too scared, his appetite will lower and he may be unable to take treats. Yet, some dogs when scared will quickly gulp them down. If you need to do behavior modification, you need to find a way to make the feared stimuli less intimidating so learning can take place. Often this can be accomplished by increasing the distance between the dog and the feared stimulus.

Walking in a Zig-Zag Motion

If your dog is scared, he may walk in a zig-zag motion rather than next to you. He may also be sniffing the ground as he tries to calm himself down.

Scrolling the Fur

No, your dog’s fur is not wet, in this case, the dog is seen scrolling the fur after something a bit stressful happened. It’s as if the dog would scroll the fur so he can forget the happening and move on.

Fear of Water/Bathing

A puppy is adopted at 8 weeks old… He is nourished, vaccinated and kept for the most part safely indoors, in a warn, comfy environment. He is taken outdoors to potty several times a day and during the night. When it rains, the puppy owner does as much as he can to keep the puppy dry. Very likaly, he waits for the clouds to disappear or for the rain to become a light drizzle. If it still rains, the puppy owner brings out an umbrella and quickly takes the puppy outdoors to potty. If the puppy is reluctant to go potty under the rain, very likely the puppy owner will try to rush him and gets frustrated in the process. The puppy ultimately learns that rain is something to avoid; indeed, he detects the owner’s negative energy about the rain and discovers the goal is to get out of the rain as soon as possible. He ultimately starts associating the rain with something unpleasant.

  There are many ways to help dogs afraid of water.  

When it stops raining, the puppy is taken out and does his business right away and the owner is happy. This further confirms in the puppy’s mind that rain is bad and lack of rain is good.

Then the big day comes and the the puppy owner tries ta give the puppy a bath. The puppy is frightened but the puppy owner ignores the fear and continues to bathe the puppy. The puppy gets shampoo in his eyes, is scared of all the water poured over him and tries to squirm his way out of the bathtub. Because the bathtub is slippery, this unsure footing makes the puppy insecure and causes him to panic. The puppy owner quickly dries the puppy at this point and lets him go free.

Months later, the puppy is much older. He is never taken out when it rains and is kept safely indoors. If there are puddles, the puppy owner guides the puppy away from them. Then one day, the puppy owner decides it is time again for another bath, but the puppy has grown quite big now and is reluctant to move near the water. The puppy owner tries to force the puppy into the bathtub again but the puppy freezes. The owner tries to lift the puppy but the puppy growls and shows his teeth. The puppy owner gives up and decides to try another day. All the ingredients for a dog afraid of water have been laid out and now the result is a dog terrified of anything related to water including puddles, rain, baths and wet surfaces.

How Dogs Become Scared of Water

In the wild, the dog’s ancestors raised puppies in a den, a hole built underground before whelping. Once the puppy’s eyes were open, puppies were ready to explore their enticing surroundings. The pups and nature became one element. The puppies learned about the wind, thunder, lightning, rain and the feeling of wet grass under their paws. The puppies played in puddles, got mud all over their coats and learned to accept the many intriguing variances Mother Nature featured each day.

  Vintage shot of Einstein and I enjoying the Mediterranean Sea!  

For obvious survival reasons, the dog’s ancestors hunted regardless if it is was raining, snowing or if there was a thunderstorm under way. Rain, snow, wind and thunder were all accepted as normal events of life. Mothers were obviously not there to accompany the puppies with an umbrella or use a hairdryer if they got wet! It is quite obvious why canines in the wild couldn’t care less about getting wet while puppies raised in a domestic setting are prone to becoming water-phobic!

Why Puppies and Dogs Are Scared of Water

Breeders, trainers and many books recommend heavily socializing puppies to people, dogs

and other animals during a brief window of opportunity which closes once the puppy is 12 to 16 weeks old. Puppy classes, puppy play dates, and puppy parties are organized to ensure that puppies learn that people, dogs and other animals are not threatening. But what about rain?

Not many dog owners dedicate enough time to making rain and the sensation of getting wet something fun and enjoyable! While some puppy owners may give the puppy a bath, often they overwhelm the puppy without paying attention to subtle signs of discomfort. Because during the socialization period puppies tend to store good experiences as well as bad ones, should the puppy have an unpleasant experience with raln or water, it may be have quite an effect on his future feelings abouf water. Following are some common reasons why dogs may be scared of water.

Fear of the Unknown

Puppies and dogs raised in areas with dry climates or not exposed to rain during puppyhood become fearful of water simply because it is unfamiliar.

Overwhelming Experiences

Puppies forced to be bathed without much gradual exposure tend to be overwhelmed and frightened, a process known as looding.”

Negative Experiences

Dog owners getting frustrated when it rains or getting mad when their puppy is scared of water often leads to negative experiences in the puppy’s mind.

Water Used as Punishment

Owners squirting their dog with squirt guns only teach the dog to hate water.

Is your puppy or dog scared of water? Not all is lost; some remedial work may help puppies and dogs fearful of water. My dogs were raised in the Arizona desert where rain was quite rare for most of the year. When monsoon season approached, they were scared of rain and the sensation of getting wet. Thanks to a good desensitization and counterconditioning program they now love the water, as you saw earlier in the picture depicting my Rottweiler Einstein enjoying the waves in the Mediterranean Sea!

How to Help Your Dog to Love Water

As mentioned, two behavior modification techniques will be handy for helping your dog overcome his fear of water. Desensitization involves getting the dog gradually used to water and the sensation of getting wet. A good desensitization program requires owners capable of working the dog under the threshold. This means you would have to work under the imaginary line that makes your dog react and get panicky. If you are good in reading your dog when it manifests signs of stress or fear, you want to avoid getting to that point. For instance, if the sight of the water hose makes your dog squirm, you are overwhelming him. This is too much for him and this experience will make the fear of water worse. Therefore, you need to work on keeping your dog at a distance from the water hose from where he appears calm and work from there, sub-threshold. We will go over some easy steps for a a gradual desensitization program in the next section.

  Bathing can be fun!  

To make a good desensitization program work, you can make it even more powerful by adding counterconditioning. This means changing your dog’s emotional response to water. From getting panicky, you want your dog to shift to looking forward to a bath. Sounds unrealistic† Not at all, you can do wonderful things to your dog’s emotional state if you put in the effort.

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Following are some examples on how to desensitize a dog to water, but keep an eye on your dog for signs of discomfort. Go too fast and you set your dog up for failure. If you are going too fast, take a step back and take a more gradual approach. The secret is to avoid overwhelming your dog in the process. Dry your dog after each exercise. Avoid using hairdryers; most dogs are scared of them if they’re not introduced properly. Use a towel instead.

Get a sponge, wet it with water and casually pass it lightly on your dog’s back one day right before putting his food bowl down. Repeat for three days. Dry your dog with a cloth right after he finishes the meal.

Get the same sponge and casually pass it tightly on your dog’s chest one day right before putting his food bowl down. Repeat for three days. Dry your dog with a cloth right after he finishes the meal.

In the next three days, pass the sponge on your dog’s back and chest before putting his food bowl down. Repeat for three days. Dry your dog with a doth right after he finishes the meal. As he gets good at this, increase the amount of body parts sponged.

When it rains Iigh5y, get the ball or your favorite fetch toy and get your dog really engaged in a game of fetch in the rain. Dry your dog with a cloth upon coming back in and become boring.

When it rains lightly, put the food bowl out and have your dog eat his meal under the rain.

Get a water hose and start squirting the water in different directions away from the dog. Sing silly songs as you squirt the water and make it look like a fun game. If your dog comes close, try to get him to chase the water squirts.

As you squirt the water, toss a handful of tasty treats from the sky and make them rain onto the ground. Make it look as if the water hose is shooting treats out along with the water.

Slightly spritz your dog with some water making it look like a game. Give him a treat right after the water spritz. It should be like this: Spritz, treat, spritz, treat, spritz, treat,

At some point, if you get your dog really engaged, he will be drenched. This is a good time to rub in some tearless shampoo and work it in. Sing a song as you massage your dog happily. Continue the spritz-treat game until your dog is shampoo-free. Then have fun rubbing and drying your dog. Water has never been so fun!

Make sure your dog associates the water with good things. Play and treats must abrupdy end the moment you shut off the water. Water ends, fun ends! Make it clear!

Tips to Make Water Fun

These tips will aid you in ensuring water becomes a fun and rewarding experience. Never force your dog to be bathed if he is not ready. Go slowly and gradually and you may end up

with a pal that will likely be pleading you to open that water hose! Many dogs have a blast trying to catch that water coming out of the hose!

Useateadessshampoo,alyouneedisabad expeñenceofburningshampooin your dog’s eyes to ruin all the progress you’ve made!

Invest in a non-slip mat. If you are using a bathtub, many dogs are scared of slippery surfaces. A non-slip mat may do wonders.

Start outdoors with a great game with the hose and then as your dog starts liking the water, gradually work your way inside, exposing your dog to indoor sources of water such as the shower.

If you dog is scared of the bathtub, try outdoors with a hose instead or a light shower. Some dogs have a hard time getting over negative experiences happening in the bathtub.

Some dog owners take showers with their dogs to keep it fun and rewarding. Sing silly songs as you play with the water.

Start desensitizing your dog to getting wet by walking in a puddle. Reward your dog lavishly for getting near the puddle, looking at the puddle and then putting a paw in the puddle. Clicked training with a puddle as a target area works great for those enamored with the training technique.

Note: For more on how Targeting works, see h}_jg_jZagg.

Encourage your puppy or dog to follow you into a small stream of water. Don’t force it if he panics. Most puppies and dogs are so eager to be near their owners they will walk into the stream, with a bit of hesitance at first, but once in, make sure you make a big deal of it with praise and treats.

Start with low water pressure in the hose. Same with puddles, start with very shallow puddles or streams. Many dogs dislike being lifted into the bathtub. Portable steps may be helpful.

If your dog does not take treats, try to skip his meal one time. Feeling hungry, your dog will take them more readily. If your dog still does not take treats, you may be asking too much at once, take a step back and work under the threshold.

Have a helper deliver treats as you give your dog a bath to keep it fun. Always work under the threshold.

Invest in some great water games for dogs. One of my favorites is the Bobbing for Treats game from the Brain Training for Dogs course!

if you don’t give up and your puppy starts enjoying baths, something great will happen: The dath itself will become a big reward and you will

no longer need to give your Oog treats!Disclaimer: Please consult with a dog behaviorist if your dog is displaying aggressive behaviors when you attempt to bathe him. Only a dog behaviorist may see and assess behaviors and offer the most appropriate behavior modification program tailored specially for your dog. Use extreme caution and make safety your top priority. By reading this article you accept this disclaimer and assume full responsibility for any of your actions.

Classed and Operant Conditioning

There are many ways dogs learn, but if you are training your dog to respond to a cue or if your goal is to change his emotional response to a trigger, you will very likely use the basics of operant and dassical conditioning. The word conditioning simply means “learning”. You do not need have to have a degree in behavioral science to understand the meaning of these two; we will take a look at each using some common examples in your daily interactions with your dog.

  Psychologist B. F. Skinner.  

Operant Conditioning

In operant conditioning, your dog learns to “operate” in his environment because his behavior is maintained by consequences, those consequences being either reinforcement or punishment.

For instance, in the case of reinforcement, if you tell your dog to “sit” and upon sitting down you give him a cookie, he learns that doing what you say and “operating” (in this case, sitting)

results in a pleasant consequence: The cookie. If you reward the behavior often enough, especially during your dog’s initial stages of learning, you will see an increase in the sitting behavior. This follows Thomdike’s law of effect which states: “Responses that produce a satisfying effect in a particular situation become more likely to occur again in that situation.” A behavior is therefore said to be reinforced when it occurs with a greater frequency.

In his Skinner box experiment, B. F. Skinner (the father of operant conditioning) delivered food to rats that engaged in a specific behavior, which was pressing a lever. After careful observations, he came to the conclusion that “behaviors that are reinforced, tend to be repeated and strengthened, whereas, behaviors that are not reinforced tend to extinguish and weaken.”

Jn the case of punishment, if your dog is wandering in the woods and gets sprayed by a skunk one day, he may be shocked enough to avoid going near the black and white animal once and for all. He may then decide to “operate” in his environment by running the other way upon spotting one. In this case, according to Thomdike’s law of effect, “responses that produce a discomforting effect become less likely to occur again in that situation.” Behaviors are therefore said to be punished when they occur with less frequency.

Einstein Says: Punishment is not determined by using hostile or aversive methods but rather by its effect on the rate of the behavior. In behavior science, “punishment” does not mean hostile, but rather means that it causes a behavior to occur with less frequency.

To sum things up, the environment around a dog can lead to behavioral changes because of consequences. From a dog’s perspective there are three possibilities taking place ¥¥’hen faced with stimuli.

Neutral Operants

The environment neither increases nor decreases the probability of a behavior being repeated. To a dog, the color of the sky is pretty irrelevant and has no effect whatsoever on his behavior.

Reinforcers

The environment increases the probability of a behavior being repeated. A dog may increase his jumping behavior because he is given

attention when he does this (positive reinforcement), or a dog may increase the behavior of hiding behind a couch because when he does so, the owner stops chasing him to give him a bath. (negative reinforcement).

Punishers

The environment decreases the probability of a behavior being repeated. Punishment weakens and extinguishes behavior. A dog may stop pestering a cat after the cat has scratched him (positive punishment), or a dog may stop jumping on the owner because the owner leaves the room every time he engages in such behavior (negative punishment).

We will see this in more detail in the “Four Quadrants of Operant Conditioning” segment later in the article.

Note: In the case of positive and negative reinforcemenVpunishment, you can think of positive as meaning something is added, while negative means something is removed — the words do not mean “good” or “bad” in this context.

Classical Conditioning

In classical conditioning, a stimulus signals the occurrence of a second stimulus. The father of this form of learning is Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov. In a study on digestive processes, Ivan Pavlov was evaluating the role of salivary glands. He employed several dogs for his experiments, and as good droolers, the dogs were salivating abundantly at the sight of food. This is a normal, natural response known as an “unconditioned response.” Indeed, the dogs did not have to learn to drool at the sight of food, because this is innate, natural behavior.

However, as time went by, he noticed that the dogs started salivating even when no food was in sight. Instead, they were drooling at the simple sight of any person wearing a lab coat! How did this happen? Basically, the dogs learned to associate seeing the people working there with receiving food. To further prove these associations, Ivan Pavlov started ringing a bell before feeding food, and with time, the noise of the bell alone had dogs drooling. The bell which was a neutral stimulus (meaning it initially meant nothing to the dog) became a conditioned stimulus (the dog learned to associate the bell with food), causing a conditioned response (the drooling). There are several conditioned stimuli surrounding dogs each day. Following are examples of conditioned reinforcers:

The Sight of the Leash

To dogs a leash initially means nothing (neutral stimulus), but with time, they start associating it with walks (conditioned stimulus) and get excited by the sight of it (conditioned response).

The Doorbell

To a dog the noise of a doorbell means nothing at first (neutral stimulus), but with time, he starts associating it with people coming into the home (conditioned stimulus) and starts getting excited/nervous/anxious when he hears it (conditioned response).

A Clicker

To a dog the clicking noise of a clicked means nothin9 initially (neutral stimulus), but after “charging* it by pairing it with treats, the clicker is associated with treats (conditioned stimulus), and the dog becomes happy as soon as you take the clicker out of your pocket

(conditioned response).

You can learn about clicker training and how to charge the clicker on h gdgg.

Classical Conditioning versus Operant Conditioning

ConNsed about the differences between dassicat and operant conditioning? The two are different, yet similar in some ways. Here are some tips on how to tell them apart.

Operant Conditioning

B.F. Skinner is considered the father of operant conditioning.

The behavior the dog engages in is voluntary (the dog willfully sits upon request).

The dog rationally associates a voluntary behavior with a consequence (the dog learns the equation “if I sit, I get a treat”).

The dog is an active participant and makes choices based on consequences (“should I sit down in order to receive the tasty treat?”).

Classical Conditioning

Ivan Pavlov is considered the father of classical conditioning.

The behavior the dog engages in is involuntary (physiological or emotional responses are automatic reflexes).

The dog develops an involuntary response to a conditioned stimulus (the dog drools at the sight of the food bowl because he has learned to associate it with food).

The dog is passive and learns without performing any vo\untary actions.

Basically “operant” conditioning involves the dog doing something (“operating”) to receive a reward, while in classical conditioning the dog remains passive.

The Four Quadrants of Operant Conditioning

There are various methods dog trainers and dog behavior experts resort to in order to make a dog operate.

Einstein Says: Once again, it is important to point out that in behavior tams, the words positive and negative are not used to mean good or bad, but rather, positive means addition and negative means subtraction. Also, as mentioned earlier, the term °reinforcement” denotes a behavior that increases in frequency, whereas, the term “punishment’ is not used to mean anything hostile, but simply denotes a behavior that decreases in frequency.

Pos*ive Reinforcement

In this case, positive means adding something to make a behavior increase (reinforcement). Example: You start giving (adding) your dog attention when he jumps. With time, the behavior of jumpin9 increases.

Negative Reinforcement

In this case, negative means removing something to make a behavior increase (reinforcement). Example: You stop staring (subtract) at your dog in a threatening way, the moment he looks away. With time, the behavior of looking away increases.

Positive Punishment

In this case, positive means adding something to make a behavior decrease. Example: In this case you start giving (add) a squirt of water in the face the moment your dog barks. With time, the behavior of barking decreases.

Negative Punishment

In this case negative means removing something to make a behavior decrease. Example: You stop giving (subtract) attention to your dog when he jumps. With time, the behavior of jumping decreases.

Please note that these are just examples to make things easier to understand. You should never squirt your dog in the face with water or stare at your dog in a threatening manner. To learn more about the benefits of reward-based training methods, see this article.