STRANGER DANGER …

As dog lovers, we all want to believe that every dog we meet is a happy and well-adjusted dog that loves to be petted and played with! We also want to think that our dog will get along with every dog it meets because it is socially well adjusted. Unfortunately that is nowhere near the truth!

Case in Point:
My dog and I were enjoying our walk several weeks ago when we came in contact with an elderly gentleman who was walking his two little dachshunds. Its was one of those peaceful scenes that would make a great painting.Stranger danger

As we got closer to them, the dogs both exploded into a volley of uncontrollable barking and began lunging in our direction. In itself, this is not that uncommon. But this time it raised some concerns with me. That was because just a few houses away from us were several small children playing in the front yard. They looked to be between 4-7 years of age.

With their tails tucked and the hair on the back of their necks standing straight up, these two dogs were showing me signs of fear aggression. They were obviously very uncomfortable and warning us to back away. The owner was apologetic. I assured him that I understood the situation and we moved back and across the street to help defuse it.

We held our position for a minute or two and watched them move down the street. As they did, I noticed that the man also crossed the street to make more distance between himself and the kids. I was glad to see that he was aware of the possible issues at hand.

My concern became confirmed as I saw one of the kids run to the curb as the two dogs began to pass by. I held my breath for a few seconds, but relaxed when I heard the child ask if she could pet the dogs.

The man thanked the little girl for asking but told her that his dogs were not used to being around kids so she better not approach them. Needless to say I was very impressed with both the child and the dog owner.

After giving the man a minute to make his way down the street, we continued down the street. Sure enough, the girl asked me if she could pet my dog. So I put my dog in a “sit” and told her it was OK to come over. I took the opportunity to praise her for “asking” before she approached us.

Just then the little girl’s mom came out of the house and asked what was going on. I explained the situation and told the mom that I was very impressed with her little girl. After talking with the mom for a few minutes I found out that the family had just gotten a new Yorkie from the shelter last week and that she is teaching the kids about dogs. I told her about “A Better Dog 4U” and told them if they needed any Dog Training Tips I would be more than happy to help them if they wanted it. Then we continued on our way.

For many years we have made a very big deal of teaching our kids about the dangers of talking to strangers. Tehe fact of the matter is that not all dangerous strangers are humans! It’s also very important to teach our children about the dangers of approaching dogs, cats and other animals that they don’t know.

Many thousands of dog bites can be prevented and the lives of thousands of good dogs could be saved every years if teachers, parents and dog owners would just take just a few moments to instruct kids they know about these dangers.

It’s up to all of us to keep our loved ones safe. The human ones … and our pets!

Why You Should Never HIT Your Dog!

All dogs misbehave from time to time. When this happens it is very tempting to correct the bad behavior with a swat on the butt, or another handy place on your dog’s body. But you should never discipline your dog in this way.

Spanking or other physical corrections can be confusing or frustrating to your dog.

If your dog is acting out, or not following your instructions, you need to ask yourself “WHY” this is happening. Some of the reasons why may be:

1). The dog does not understand the dog training.
2). Something in the environment may have the dog over stimulated or distracted.
3). Doing what you asked may cause the dog pain or fear.
4). The training has not been proofed enough.

Dogs are not vindictive and do not intentionally disobey. Spanking or hitting your dog can cause the dog to become hand-shy or fearful of you. If your dog becomes fearful, it can cause the dog to lash out and bite you or someone else nearby.

Hitting your dog will never teach him the desired behavior.

Dogs will only listen to you if they trust you and respect you. If you break that trust your dog is never going to listen to you. Instead of hitting, take a step back and figure out why the dog isn’t listening to you. If you can’t figure it out, contact a local training or ask your veterinarian for advice.

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Reasons Why Talking to Your Dog Is Important in Training

I’ll be the first to admit that I talk out loud to my dog.

It is well known that talking to newborn babies in a kind and reassuring voice improves bonding between the parent and child. Much less know is that people who talk their dogs tend to have a much stronger bond with their dogs than those owners who don’t.

A lot of people talk to their dogs, but I’m not talking about all of those words like “Get Back Here,””No No No, Not in the House,” and “Leave The Cat Alone.” I’m talking about the same types of conversations you might have with that baby or even your best friend.

OK, I’ll give you that it can be a bit embarrassing when you get caught talking to your dog about your new boss, or the argument you had with your spouse last night. For this reason you may want to use a “filter” when you talk to your dog in public. Maybe save the juicy stuff for when you are behind closed doors.

Here are several good reasons we should all have daily conversations with our dogs.

Researchers have proven that dogs understand a lot of what we say by using cognitive association. Without understanding all of our words, dogs are capable of reading our body language and the tone of our voice in order to determine our state of mind at that moment in time.

It has also been suggested that the sounds we make help to develop an emotional feeling long before words have any meaning to them. This means that dogs read us by our body language and tone before they hear the words we speak.

– While all dogs are as different as all humans, it is a known fact that most dogs can understand as many as several hundred words.

During training an average dog is training to recognize as few as eight words and as many as one hundred depending on the kind and amount of tasks it is being train to complete. Most of this training is done through word association. We teach the dog to realize that when it hears a sound that sounds like “Sit” it needs to put its butt on the ground in order to get a reward.

Most of us also know that there are a few words that we must S-P-E-L-L O-U-T in order to keep the dog from associating the sound of it to something that it knows and understands. Dogs are capable of understanding long strings of words if they are repeating often enough. I have actually taught all of my dogs the phrase, “Don’t You Make Me Come Over There.”

– As we mentioned earlier, dogs read our body language and our tone of voice.

While there are other ways to relate to your dog, people who take the time to regularly talk to their dogs tend to have a stronger bond with them. That bond enforces trust and respect between the dog and the human.

Being closely bonded with your dog will make training easier because the dog will trust that you are asking it to do something it needs to know to please you.  They see it as being mutually beneficial.

– There is an old saying: “If you have a dog you have a workout buddy, a best friend and a therapist all rolled into one.” That’s actually a lot closer to the truth than you might think.

While it is normal to contemplate issues and problems, talking to your dog can help you verbalize them which can help you work them out much quicker.

Talking to dogs is proven to help children too. There are programs that provide dogs to children who have reading and speaking problems. Dogs help them because they are a non-judgmental friend and companion who is only there to listen.

Talking to dogs also helps the elderly reconnect and stay active when they are on their own or in retirement or nursing facilities. Animals of all kinds have also been shown to have the ability to open the lines of communication from children with autism who have been previously unwilling to interact with family and caregivers.

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How To Remove Ticks From Your Dog

Every year ticks infect thousands of animals and people with illnesses like Lyme disease. Disease transmission can occur in as little as three hours after a bite occurs. Therefore the sooner you remove the tick the less chance there is that your dog will get sick.

Removing a tick from your dog may not be pleasant, but it’s important to do it quickly and correctly. It seems as though everyone has a favorite method for removing a tick. There are literally hundreds of suggested ways to remove them.

Remove Ticks From a dog

This is the way that the medical industry says you should go about it.

To safely remove a tick, all you really need is a pair of pointy tweezers and a good eye.

Pointy tweezers are a must for ticks. You want pointy tips, not squared-off ones. Ticks can be very small. If you use regular tweezers, you might tear them.

Before you begin, you’ll need to get:

  • Pointy tweezers
  • Rubbing alcohol (If you don’t have it, soap and water will work too)

Now that you have your tools, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Pull the hair or fur back to expose the skin around the tick.
  2. Thoroughly clean the area around the tick bite with rubbing alcohol. (or soap).
  3. Get your tweezers right down on the skin so you can grab as close as possible to the tick’s head.
  4. Pull straight up slowly and firmly. Do not jerk or twist. Steady pressure straight up will do it.
  5. Clean the bite area again. If the bite area bleeds let it. It will help to clean the wound. If it continues to bleed call your veterinarian at once.
  6. Wash your hands, with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  7. Dispose of the tick properly.

And that’s it. If part of the head breaks off when you pull the tick out, that’s OK. You can try to remove it with tweezers, but if you can’t, it’s no problem. As the skin heals it will force the head out to the surface.

What To Do With the Extracted Tick?

There are two options: Get it tested or get rid of it.

Get It Testing:

It can help everyone in the area to get the tick tested. If there are outbreaks in your area you’ll know if it was carrying any diseases. To have it tested place it in a sealed container along with a blade of grass to keep it alive. Then, take it for testing.

Some state agencies do tick testing, but if you’re not sure where to send the tick, ask your veterinarian or call your doctor.

Get Rid of It: 

If you just want it safely out of your life, you can:

  • Drown it in a container with rubbing alcohol or soapy water
  • Flush it down the toilet
  • Wrap it tightly in tape, then throw it out

Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to crush it with your fingers. This is another way you can get disease from it.

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Is This Heaven?

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After some time, they came to a high stone wall made of fine marble. There was a tall arch with a golden gate that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing at the magnificent gate he saw a man at a desk to one side. The man called out and said, ‘Excuse me, where are we?’

‘This is Heaven, sir,’ the man answered. ‘Wow! Would you happen to have some water?’ the man asked.

Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up. ‘The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

The traveler and his dog began toward toward the gate when the man at the desk said, ‘I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.’

The man thought a second or two and then turned back toward the road and continued down the road with his dog.

After another long walk, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.

As he began down the dirt road he saw a man. He was leaning against a tree, reading a book.

‘Excuse me!’ he called to the man. ‘Do you have any water?’

‘Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there, come on in.’

‘How about my friend here?’ the traveler gestured to the dog. ‘Sure, there should be a bowl by the pump.’

They went down the road a bit further were they found an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink. Then he refilled the bowl and gave it to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree..

‘What do you call this place?’ the traveler asked. ‘This is Heaven,’ he answered.

‘Well, that’s confusing,’ the traveler said. ‘The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.’

‘Oh, you must mean the place with the tall arch and golden gates! Nope. That’s Hell.’

‘Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?

‘No, we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.

My Perfect Valentine’s Day

Are You Just “The Master” or Does Your Dog REALLY Love You

by Michael Albee
According to a Gallop Poll, 44 percent of all American households have a dog living in it. Estimates say that this equates to approximately 78 million dogs nationwide.

Most of us love our dogs and they are treated like a part of the family! We have many ways of showing them how much we love them. We give them food and water, and take them to the veterinarian on regular bases. We take them for walks, give them toys and we give them treats too.

neka-bellyBut how can we really know if our dogs are happy? Who can we know if they really love us? Most of us would like to think that they love us, but wouldn’t it be great to know it for sure?

Our dogs can all be stubborn and strong-willed at times. We have all had to deal with dogs that don’t want to “come” when we call them. We have all had those times when they want to play when all we want to do is sit down and relax after a hard day. And how about those times that they try to pull us down the street instead of calmly walking beside us?  Yep, it sometimes feels like a one-sided relationship.

So how can you know for sure that your dog really loves you? Here is a short list of things that will tell you that they love you as much as you love them!

#1 – A Wagging Tail

A wagging tail isn’t always a sign of happiness. But it is generally considered to be a sign of affection and happiness when it is displayed toward the dog’s owner upon arrival home or when coming into a room. In conjunction with other body language (non-ridged stance and general excitement), you can safely assume that your dog is very happy to see you!

#2 – Hanging Out With You

Ally-TuckerDogs will hang out with humans for a variety of reasons. The most obvious reason is that they quickly learn that humans are the main source of their food, water and shelter. But dogs are also pack animals. They not only feel more safety in numbers, they also enjoy being with their families.

Hanging out with you and being in close approximation to you is another big clue that your dog loves you and that you make it feel safe and cared for. Yes, they might be “under foot” and be “in the way” once in a while, but just remember that they love the company and just want to be close to you.

#3 – Sleeping With You

As mentioned above, dogs are pack animals. Pack animals sleep huddled together for several reasons. One reason is that it helps them to feel safe because it adds a layer of security. If one of the pack hears something it will alert the rest of the pack. It also provided a sense of companionship and dependence on the whole pack.

Dogs know that the pack is much stronger together than any one dog is by it’s self. It also helps them with warmth. Dogs love to be warm. It is a large part of being comfortable in their surroundings. So the next time your dog wants to cuddle, it is a way for your dog to show you that it not only cares about you, it shows that you are someone that it feels safe around. It wants to be near you because it’s a natural way of showing you it feels comfortable and sees you as family.

#4 – Playing and Roughhousing With You

Every time I walk through my door my dog greets me. It’s always with a waging tail and she always has her favorite toy in tow. Most of the time I have my hands full, but I always take a few seconds to greet her and tell her I’m glad to see her. After I unload my hands I give her a quick pat on the head and I give her a treat. Then, even if it’s only for a moment, I take time to play with her.

We have scheduled “play times” several times per day, but sometimes she gets playful when I’m working or busy doing something. This is natural. It’s a way of connecting with us. If you’ve ever watched a group of dogs playing together you’ll recognize they offer the same behavior to each other as they do to you. Playing and roughhousing is an essential activity and is a quick and effective way to build a bond between you and your dog. It is also a great way to keep your relationship strong!

#5 – Trust And Respect

As with human relationships, the relationship you have with your dog MUST be based on trust and respect. Building a strong bond is the only way your dog will trust and respect you. As one who has worked with dogs for over 45 years, it is very easy for me to see if a dog has trust and respect in their owner.

Like a human relationship, trust comes only with time. The more time you spend with your dog, the faster the bond of trust will develop. Once trust is built, respect will come. When trust and respect are present your dog will do ANYTHING you ask without question because it knows that you will do the same for it.

This is known as Unconditional Love!

Putting Christ Back into Christmas

christmas-manger_300Yes, we as Christians need to put more emphasis on Christ (and less on “Material Stuff”) in our lives, especially during this time of year.

If you are a Christian I am more than happy to wish you a Merry Christmas … and a Happy New Year too.

But we also need to remember that our country is a “Melting Pot” of 100’s of cultures from all over the world. Some of these people do not believe the same things that we as Christians do. There are over 30 religious and seasonal festivals that are celebrated during November, December and January.

The phrases “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays” first came to prominence over 60 years ago. And what we often forget is, that in an attempt to include people of ALL faiths, these greetings were designed to unite us during this festive season that we all share this time of year. They were created so that no one group would feel left out of any of the fun and happiness of the season.

I have several friends and clients that do not celebrate Christmas. Several of them celebrate Hanukkah and a few others have no religious ties. Out of respect and because I know there faith, I greet them with the greeting they prefer. This doesn’t bother me in the least. They also greet me with “Merry Christmas” and they don’t mind that either. It’s all out of mutual respect.

Saying Happy Holidays is not removing Christ from Christmas, and it is also not an attack on Christmas as some of our media would have us believe. It is simply just another way to bring us together and show respect to others who may not worship in the same way that we do.

If we want to keep Christ in Christmas we need to put his teaching back into all areas of our lives on a daily basis and not just during this time of the year. We can all share the “spirit” of Christ by being kind, respectful and understanding to everyone that we meet. When we do this we are giving witness that our Christian faith teaches us to treat everyone we meet with the same respect that we want them to shown to us!