Dogs are very social by instinct. They are very curious about everyone, everything and every dog. Allowing your dog to actively investigate, interact and socialize with children, people, dogs, etc. is critically important. Starting immediately after you adopt your dog, you should begin the social circuit. If your dog was born with other litter mates, he or she has already been observing and learning about the dance of the dogs . . . ie. the sniffing of the butt. To sniff and be sniffed. This is how dogs greet each other. I always see humans stopping their dog from doing the sniff – and even scolding their dog for doing this natural act. Please, allow your dogs to sniff and be sniffed. Yes, it is socially awkward for humans to imagine that this is socially acceptable – but for your dog – it is. Basically, your dog is deciding whether or not to become friends with the sniffee or not. You will know right away what your dog decides and trust your dog’s instincts, if he doesn’t like a dog or a person, don’t force it.
I have ALWAYS trusted my dog’s keen ability to recognize the good from the bad. Is there someone your dog always growls and barks at? And other people your dog instantly loves? TRUST what your dog is telling you, believe me – they know!
The more your dog interacts with other dogs and people, the happier your dog will be – and so will you. Your dog will have less anxiety and less stress. This really is the key to training your dog. You can immediately spot a dog that has never been socialized – nervous, shaking, nipping, barking, hiding, jumping, stressed out. It’s just not fair for your dog to feel this way. It is so easy to socialize your dog . . . go to dog parks, take classes in dog obedience, take your dog to meet-ups with other dog owners, take your dog to the pet store, take your dog with you when you go out to lunch, etc.
Is your dog a healthy weight? Personally, I find it extremely difficult to determine if my dog is the perfect weight, overweight or underweight. I don’t have the right scale at home to weigh my dogs, and even if I did, how do I know if their weight is healthy or not? I recently went to my Veterinarian to get the yearly Rabies vaccination for Bruce Lee. She weighed Bruce Lee and did a physical examination before the vaccination. Bruce Lee is part Corgi and part Chihuahua, so his body is thick, long and low to the ground. I told the doctor that I was concerned with his weight because most people make a comment about his weight, saying things like, “Your dog is so cute and chubby”, “Beefy Brucie”, etc.
The Veterinarian showed me how to do a test that would allow me to easily check my dogs weight without a scale, THE RIB TEST. Simply touch gently around your dogs ribs, are you able to feel each rib completely, slightly or not at all?
If you cannot feel a rib – your dog is overweight If you can slightly feel each rib – your dog is a healthy weight If you can completely and easily feel each rib – your dog is underweight
It’s that easy!
During our test, I realized Bruce Lee could stand to lose about a pound, so we are working everyday on walking a little more and eating a little less. Obesity can lead to diabetes, damage to joints, bones and ligaments, causing debilitating back pain and heart disease and high blood pressure. Try THE RIB TEST on yourself; are you at a healthy weight?
My little dog Rocco Jet is currently going through congestive heart failure, basically he has a “leaky valve” and a heart murmur. He is been prescribed several different medications for his condition from his cardiac veterinary specialist. What I was completely unprepared for was the HUGE cost of these medications. I want to provide all of you with what I have learned during this process. If you are required to give your dog a prescription of ANY kind, first ask your Veterinarian to provide you with a written prescription – DO NOT PURCHASE THE PRESCRIPTION FROM THE VETERINARIAN. Most of the medicine given to pets is actually also used for humans. For months I was spending a small fortune purchasing these “special” med’s from the veterinary specialists and from an online pharmacy. I had no idea that I could actually purchase these medications from my local Target Pharmacy.
Let me give you an example of the cost comparison between purchasing from a veterinary specialist, a veterinary clinic, an online pharmacy and from your local pharmacy such as Target or Walmart. I will use the prescription Enalapril as an example:
Veterinary Specialist $53.10 for 30 pills ($1.77 each)
Veterinary Clinic $22.50 for 30 pills ($ .75 each)
Online Pet Pharmacy $7.50 for 30 pills ($ .25 each) plus shipping & handling charges
Local Pharmacy (Target) $4.00 for 30 pills or $10 for 90 pills ($ .11 each)
Unfortunately, there are medications that your local pharmacy cannot order. But I would suggest shopping around to get the best price from other veterinary clinics or reputable online pharmacies. Most veterinary clinics will fill a prescription providing you have a written prescription even if your dog is not a patient at the clinic. My advice to you is to start at your local pharmacy like Target or Walmart. It is insane that clinics are making you pay $53.10 for the exact same medicine from Target or Walmart that you can get for $4.00. Save yourself $49.10 by getting your prescription in writing.
One of the most important things I have learned about both of my dogs is that they absolutely LOVE their private spaces. If you have a dog, buy them their own private space today! Rocco, shown above, loves his padded dog house. It is soft, small and very much his own. I have added a pillow and blanket to add to the comfort.
All of you that have a dog please perform the Dog Comfort Test. Put yourself at your dogs level, this means, lay on the ground of your home and look around. I mean, really look, go to every room that your dog spends a lot of time. Is the floor cold, dirty, cluttered? See what they see, feel what they feel. If what you see isn’t somewhere you would like to be, change it. Look around for an area that would be a perfect place for their private space to add a dog house or fluffy dog bed.
Introduce the bed as a safe haven for your dog. Put their favorite toy inside the house and praise them after they enter. Give them a treat in their house or on their dog bed occasionally. After a while, they will enjoy the idea of their little Home Sweet Home. You may find that you might have to move the private space a couple times to areas that your dog prefers. Everyone in your family has a bedroom, so should your dog. It helps create independence and confidence. Believe me . . . Your dog will Thank You!
DOGS NEED TO WALK OUTDOORS! You may be like a lot of people today (including myself), you’ve purchased peepee pads, you have installed a “mock” grassy area in the corner of your house and these are great for emergencies, such as hurricanes, late night potty breaks, etc. but your dog needs to venture outside everyday at a minimum of twice a day. Dogs enjoy the feel of the grass on their paws, the smell of the outdoors is like sweet perfume to your dog. They love to investigate every blade of grass and every tiny bug. To leave your dog locked indoors is abusive to your dogs physical and mental well being. Taking your dog on at least 2 walks a day will lift their spirits, initiate social skills and stretch their muscles (it gets the blood flowing). I suggest a walk after meal times and periodically throughout the day. I walk my dogs 4 times a day. Starting at 6am I walk them every 5 hours. I know this may be difficult due to your personal schedules, I recommend personal dog walkers, neighbors or friends to assist in the daily walks. You wouldn’t leave your human child trapped in the house all day would you?
Always make sure your dog is on a leash when outdoors. This is SO incredibly important. Unless your dog is in a secured fenced in area, your dog should be on a leash. I don’t know how often I see people walking their dogs without leashes and it strikes fear in my heart. Dogs love the chase – if they catch a smell that interests them, they are going to follow it (and that could lead them directly in front of a moving vehicle). I recommend purchasing a harness and not a collar to attach the leash to. A well fitted harness will pull on your dogs chest compared to your dogs throat with collars. Never purchase a choke chain or those horrific choke chains with spikes digging into your dogs neck. They are called “CHOKE” for a reason.
Take into account the weather, if it’s winter and you need a coat, chances are your dog will also. Also, even though t-shirts and sweaters are cute – your dog is already wearing a fur coat. In the summer, pack away those items with your winter clothes, dogs can easily overheat.