Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Is Your Dog Driving You Crazy?

We've all had one, or at least know some one who has... or still does. A crazy dog. It seems no matter how much exercise they are given or how old they get, they just don't slow down.
The Dog Diva to the rescue!
Below you will find 5 simple and cheap tips for calming your crazy dog....you're welcome.

EXERCISE: Whatever exercise you are currently giving your dog...double it! Romping in the back yard or a quick trip around the block is not sufficient for most dogs. Your dog needs to get really tired out! Go for a run or a bike ride, or simply extend the length of your walk. Don't forget about your dogs mental needs either. Fido should be both mentally and physically tuckered out. Try getting involved in agility, Frisbee or fly ball. On a rainy day you can play Hide and Seek with your dog for some indoor fun!

DO NOTHING: Behaviorist Sue Sternberg developed this idea, and it really works! All that is required of you is that you do...well...not much. Sit in a small quiet room and read a book or a magazine; or get some work done on your computer. All while paying peripheral attention to your dog. If your dog nudges you, barks, whines, paws, jumps or tries to get your attention in any other way, ignore them completely. (This may take some time at first.) When your dog finally settles down, hand them a treat and say GOOD BOY! (Or girl!) If you are thinking that this will in turn send your dog running to you in hopes of attention, well, you're right. But what you must do is ignore them once more. Again, after they settle, give them another treat and a GOOD DOG. Repeat. Remember to continue to reward your dog the longer they remain calm and quiet.

FOOD: You may actually be feeding your dog the crazies! Many dog show ADHD like behaviors when they eat a poor diet. If you can't pronounce all of the ingredients in your dogs food, don't feed it to them!

LAVENDER: A few drops of lavender essential oil between your dogs shoulder blades or a spritz on a bandanna around their neck can have calming effects. Even if this doesn't work for you, your dog will smell great!

T-SHIRTS: A snug fitting shirt can help sooth and calm dogs. (Kind of like a hug!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tis The Season For FOOD!

This is the time of year when we all tend to gain a couple of pounds. But did you know that a few pounds on your dog can actually be incredibly hazardous to their health? I know how tempting it can be, with all the scraps and leftovers hanging around, but remember, turkey skin and bones are choking hazards!
Also, chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, avocados and macadamia nuts, among other things, can be toxic to your pet. All of which brings me back to my cardinal rule: People food for people, dog food for dogs!

I have already given you a few of my favorite recipes tailored especially towards K9 cuties, but you've asked for more! Below you will find two more yummy made for dog baked goods.

But before I get to the recipes themselves, I'd like to take a moment to talk about how to have a save and successful Thanksgiving with your dog.

First, keep your dogs' routine as consistent as possible. The holidays are a very stressful time for us all, and your dog is no exception. The more consistent you can make your dogs life, the less stress they will have.

Make sure all guests in you home know the 'doggy rules'. No scraps from the table, no jumping up etc... Also make sure they store their medications away from Fido's reach, and just in case, know the poison control hot line (888-426-4435) and the number for you nearest emergency vet!

Afraid your best friend will embarrass you with bad manners during dinner time? No worries, stuff a KONG or two with wet food, baby food, peanut butter or treats and they'll happily settle in for a feast of their own!

OK now for the recipes. Oh and on a side note, if you happen to have any left over doggie goodies, you can always take them to your local shelter and share them with less fortunate, homeless pets.

Shush Puppies

2 cups cornmeal
1 cup wheat flour
1 2/3 cup cheddar cheese
3 tsp garlic powder
4 tlbs oil
1 cup powdered milk
1 1/8 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Gradually add oil and water. Mix well. Dough should form a sticky ball. Place on greased cookie sheet by spoon fulls and bake for about 20 mins.

Banana Pupcakes

2 cups water
2 bananas
1 tps vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tbls baking powder
1 egg
3 tbls honey

Heat oven to 350 degrees, mash bananas. Mix all ingredients together and pour into cupcake pan. Bake for 20 mins.

Shadie is a 7 year old terrier mix available for adoption from the SPCA of Central Florida. She'd love to go home with you for the holidays!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Dog Diva on National TV!

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to announce that I will be taking the The Dog Diva's message to a television set near you!
I will be appearing on several pet segments during the national morning show The Daily Buzz. My first segment will air on Thanksgiving. Tune in for Safe Holiday Pet Tips by the Dog Diva!
Following that will be segments on Training and Pet Holiday Gift Ideas. (Nov. 30th and Dec. 14th respectively.)
All segments air around 7:45am.

Thanks for your continued support and please...spread the word!

Diane aka The Dog Diva

Monday, November 16, 2009

Give Treats, er I Mean Thanks...

During this time of year, we humans tend to eat a lot of food. Much of that food is, let's face it, not that good for us. But what about our K9 companions? Do you find yourself giving Fido your table scraps more during the holidays? Naughty naughty!

It's OK to want to 'spoil' your dog this time of year, it's only natural. But instead of stuffing and pie, why not cook up some of these special yummy treats designed especially for doggies! You can make enough to share with your dog's friends or the less fortunate dogs at your local shelter!

Happy Cooking!

Massive Mastiff Munchy Muffins

2 Carrots (shredded)

1 1/2 cups water

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 tbls Honey

1 1/2 over ripe bananas mashed

4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbls baking powder

1tbls Cinnamon

1tbls Nutmeg

Mix all wet ingredients together in a bowl. Then add banana, mix thoroughly and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients and add wet. Mix thoroughly. Coat a 12 muffin pan with non-stick spray (or muffin cups). Fill with batter about 3/4ths full.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Bull Dog Brownies

1/2 cup shortening

3 Tbls Honey

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup carob powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream shortening and honey. Add all remaining ingredients and blend well. Bake in a greased cookie sheet for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.


12 ounces non-fat cream cheese

2 tbls Honey

Blend together and spread over brownies.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Under The Surface

Dogs dig period. It is a natural canine behavior. However sometimes the digging can get a bit out of control, or compromise the dogs safety. In these cases, we need to dig deep and find out what is going on with the dog....under the surface.
Your first task will be to figure our exactly WHY your dog is digging. Is there a critter living in your flower beds? Is your dog simply looking for the perfect place to marinate his bone? Does your dog enjoy a game of tug of war with roots? Do you live in a hot climate? If so your dog may be digging to stay cool. Or is your dog simply bored, and looking for a way to stimulate his mind? It is important to find the cause behind the digging because the treatment is different for each.
As always remember you cannot scold your dog after the fact. If you come home to find a new hole in your yard, it's too late, better luck next time. If you catch your dog in the act, you can interrupt them with a firm NO and then redirect them to a more appropriate behavior.

After some spying and sleuthing, you've hopefully come to a conclusion about why your dog digs. Did you find a critter in your garden? The best solution here is to have the small animal humanely removed from your yard.
Is your dog digging to bury his bone? Why don't you hold onto the bone for him, and only let him have it when you can supervise him?
Is your dog playing tug of war with trees? Give him something to play with that doesn't destroy your maple. Tie a rope toy or spring toy from a branch and encourage your dog to play with that instead.
If heat is the cause, why not provide your dog with a nice wading pool to cool off in? (Baby pool.) Or better yet, bring your dog inside where the AC is!

If your dog is digging out of boredom, you have a harder task in front of you. Dogs that dig out of boredom often dig out of their yards and 'escape'. Your dog is searching for something to stimulate his mind, and because you did not provide anything for him, he will go and find his own fun. This of course compromises your dogs safety and should be dealt with ASAP!

To prevent your dog from getting under your fence, you can bury chicken wire about one to two feet under the soil at the base of your fence. Once you have your dog securely in your yard, please give Fido something to do! A KONG toy or two stuffed with yummy ingredients such as peanut butter, baby food, cheese or wet food.

If this doesn't work or you find your dog just simply loves to dig, then I say let them. In a controlled and appropriate manner of course.

Build your dog a dig box. (Similar to a child's sand box.) Place it in an area in your yard that will be your dogs dig spot. Fill the box with sand and loose soil. Now, bury items for your dog to find. Make it easy at first until they get the idea. As time moves on you can bury items deeper and deeper. Encourage your dog to dig in that spot and praise them for doing so. Continue to correct the dog anytime he or she digs outside of the box.

You have now successfully taken control of the digging behavior. Congratulations, you and your garden can now breath easy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You Ate WHAT!? Ewww.....

I know it's gross, but many dogs suffer from COPROPHAGIA. That is the technical term for "eating poop". Yep, disgusting. Some dogs eat their own, some prefer the taste of others, and then there are the dogs that don't care where it came from, they just know they want to eat it. Makes you think twice about that last face lick you received doesn't it?
OK, all kidding aside, coprophagia is a serious problem that can either be behavioral or biological.

Some dogs may consume feces out of pure boredom. If this is the case, then please, buy your dog a KONG toy!
You must catch your dog in the act to prevent this from happening in the future, but the best solution is to pick up all droppings immediately.
Feces contain undigested and semi-digested material which can provide needed nutrients for a dog with a specific nutritional deficiency.
It is normal for nursing mothers to consume the feces of their puppies in order to keep the den clean and to prevent predators from picking up their scent.
Always make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and has lots of different things around to stimulate his mind. If these remedies do not work, your dog may have a vitamin B or K deficiency. If this is the case, your vet can recommend supplements for your dog to help remedy this.
Simple aversion therapy can also be done by letting the dog approach the feces while on leash. The second your dog begins to sniff the feces, say NO LEAVE IT and continue walking past the pile. Make sure to praise your dog every time during this exercise.

And last but not least....brush your dogs teeth! :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Set Your Dog Up For Sucess!

Pointers for a positive training session:

Wear appropriate attire! Closed toed shoes, long pants and no dangly jewelry! Equip yourself with a training pouch, and fill it will lots of different yummy treats.
Don't get distracted! Stay to the task at hand!
Determine where the session will be held. Find a place with as little distractions as possible to start.
Keep things consistent!
Dogs love a leader! Lead through a firm voice and straight body posture.
Keep body language and facial expressions appropriate.
Pay close attention to your dogs body language. Is their attention waning? Are they getting frustrated?
Prior to the training session, let your dog run a bit and relive themselves. This will help them focus.
After training is over, reward you dog with some free time. I like to call this "belly rub time!"
Don't over do it! A session should not be much longer than about 20 minutes, remember, school is tough!
Focus on new commands, but intersperse with commands your dog already knows.
Always end the session on a positive note! This is extremely important. If you have been working and working on a command and suddenly the dogs does it right, praise them like crazy, give them a 'jackpot' of treats and stop! If you are working on a more difficult command and the dog (and you) are becoming frustrated, have the dog preform a simpler task in order to be rewarded, then end the training session.
Keep written records of your dogs progress. This way you will never forget where you left off!

Good Luck and Happy Training!

Friday, November 6, 2009

No! Off! Alright! Good Dog!

Welcome to the next instalment of my series on basic obedience. We will start this lesson off with the word people use most frequently with their dogs; NO! If a dog only knows one word, I guarantee you this is it. And it's unfortunate. People tend to spend all their time telling their dogs what NOT to do, and not nearly enough time letting them know what they are allowed to do! Think about it; when is the last time you praised your dog for lying quietly at your feet while you watched a movie? Isn't that exactly what you want your dog to be doing at that moment? Then why not tell them so!?
"NO" is used to stop a dog from exhibiting a behavior that is undesirable. There is no need to yell NO at a dog, a firm tone will be suffice.

Only use NO once for each correction. If you say NO NO NO NO NO etc...the word will loose it's meaning. There must be consequence behind it. Therefore, if you say NO and your dog continues on with the undesirable action, you must intervene and stop the behavior yourself. Once the behavior has been stopped, remember to redirect your dog to a more appropriate action.

Remember, NEVER call your dog to you to discipline them! If you call your dog to you, and they come, you must now praise them for doing what you've asked. If you call your dog to you and then reprimand them for their previous actions, what do you think the chances are of them coming to you the next time you call them over? Slim to none, because all the dog understands is: When I come to them, they yell at me!
(Just a note, instead of using the word NO you can make a buzzer sound: EH EH!)

I mentioned above that you will want to refrain from saying No over and over again. Well the same rule applies to the dogs' name. Some people try and use a dogs' name as a command. Ex: Max! Max! Max! MAX!!! Question: What is it that you would like Max to do?! Whatever it is, please tell him so. Just think how annoying it would be to have some one shout your name repeatedly at you with no further instruction of what they wanted!

The only other correction command we should be using is OFF. (In other words, No means No, not quit, stop or any other word that might confuse you dog.) Off is different because it is descriptive. It lets the dog know exactly what behavior is the undesirable one. To train your dog not to jump, simply fold your arms, turn around, look away and say OFF every time your dog jumps.
Jumping is an attention seeking behavior, therefore ignoring it is the best medicine. Beware of giving negative attention to your dog such as pushing or kneeing them. Negative attention is still attention! (Remember that little kid who would act out in class, just to see his name written on the board?)
You may have to repeat this several times before your dog understands, but the second they have all four paws on the floor praise them lavishly. If they jump again, quickly remove your attention and repeat the Off command. Timing and consistency is important.

A couple correction pointers: Never hit your dog. This is unnecessary and many times will produce an undesired result. A simple lack of reward is generally suffice to convey your displeasure with a particular action.

Easy; easy is a reminder for the dog to be gentle or behave more calmly. Does your dog try and take your fingers off every time you offer them a treat? If so, then this modification command is for you! Simply place the treat in the flat palm of your hand and offer it to your dog while saying Easy. Your dog will automatically take the treat nicely, and you can praise them with: Good easy! Once your dog begins to grasp the meaning of this word, it can also be used during play time if your dog begins to play a bit too rough.
Always say this command in a calm and gentle tone.

Alright is used to signal that a given task is completed. Once your dog has complied with your direction and does not need to stay in position any longer, you may release them with "Alright!"
I most commonly use this word when working with the 'stay' command. Always say it in a definite and exited way. In the beginning you may have to encourage your dog to break position.

Now we have come to the easiest part. Praise! When it comes to praise words are not important but emotion is! Dogs know when you're fooling them, so be sincere. The more into it you get, the better the reinforcement.

Come back next time when we go over pointers for a positive training session!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wait! Now Let's Have Some Fun!

Alright, we've had a bit of fun lately, but now it's back to serious business. At least for a bit! When we last left off, our doggy had learned how to sit, lie down and stay; not bad. But now it is on to one of the most challenging behaviors for a dog to learn. Wait or 'heel'. This is not only difficult for dogs to master, but pet parents tend to loose patience and become frustrated while training this as well.

This will take time! So be ready to invest in it. There is nothing worse than being drug around like a rag doll every time you take Fido for his evening walk. It's tiresome, painful and let's face it, a little embarrassing. Unfortunately, for many dogs, the solution equals no more walks.
This is just not fair, nor is it healthy for either human or K9. So let's tackle this problem head on.

First off, make sure you have the correct equipment. A 4-6 foot nylon lead and simple nylon buckle or snap collar. NO PINCH COLLARS OR CHOKER CHAINS! The only other acceptable apparatus would be a Gentle Leader Easy Harness. This is NOT a typical harness with the hook on the back that actually encourages pulling, but instead one that goes around the dogs' front legs and has a sliding ring at the chest. This will help greatly for 'problem pullers'.

The ultimate goal of wait/heel is for the dog to walk at your pace, and stop when you do. A properly executed heel places the dog on your left side. Use the dogs name plus the command to begin; "Fluffy, Wait."

If the dog runs ahead and pulls at the lead, stop walking and repeat the command. As soon as the leash becomes slack, take another step. Repeat. Yes it is certainly possible that you will only get to take one step at a time, but keep at it. Before you know it you will be on to two, then three and so on. Eventually the dog will learn that pulling gets them nowhere fast.

(Cheat sheet: Carry tasty treats in your pocket and offer them to your dog when they walk beside you. This will help encourage them to stay close!)

After you and your dog master this, adding in the automatic sit will seem like a day at the park! The goal here is to have your dog sit every time you come to a stop. This behavior comes from simple repetition. Walk stop sit walk stop sit etc... you'll be surprised at how fast your dog learns this especially when a food reward is offered for the sit part!

If you've made it this far, congratulations! You have a very well behaved pooch! However, people never seem fully amused or satisfied with this and insist that the dog learn other people pleasing behaviors such as "gimme 5" Roll over or crawl....so here we go!

"Gimme 5", "Shake" or "paw" is probably the number one favorite trick that people teach their dogs. It has come to a point where it seems almost as expected of them as sit! Despite being immensely popular and easy to train there are some very important rules that go along with teaching this trick to your dog.
Your dog MUST learn sit, down and stay BEFORE beginning this trick! This is more important than is sounds. Just ask anyone who taught sit, then shake and then attempted down. You've just made a lot more work for yourself trust me! Besides that, down is a submissive behavior and shake a more dominant one. You should always teach the submissive behaviors first.
To train your dog to offer up their paw, place them in a sit position and take one of their front paws in your had and say "gimme 5!" (Or shake or paw) Then "Good!" and give them a tasty treat. Repeat. eventually your dog will offer their paw in exchange for a treat, or a pat on the head.
Once your dog learns this it is important to vary their routine! Don't get caught in a rut. (Sit paw down, sit paw down...) as your dog will go on auto pilot. Keep them thinking by varying their behaviors. Also important is to never reward a paw you didn't ask for!

"Crawl" is another easy one. Have your dog lie down, then hold a treat on the ground just out of their reach. Say Craaaaawl......! Your dog will most likely scoot their body on the floor to get the treat. Repeat, gradually increasing the distance you ask them to crawl.

Roll over is another immensely popular trick, but it's not the easiest, nor is it for every dog. Take into consideration your dogs shape, age and size. For example, Dachshunds should never learn this behavior as they have very fragile backs. It may be hazardous for an older or large dog as well. If your dog is young, healthy and strong enough to attempt this, then you may proceed.

Place your dog in a down position and lead their head over their shoulder with a treat. (Most dogs will 'pick a side' when lying down, so make sure to go with that and not fight it.) At first you may only succeed in getting them on their sides, but with enough work and patience, you will soon get them on their backs and then the rest of the way over.
Please note that this is an incredibly submissive behavior and extremely shy or nervous dogs may refuse to preform it. That's OK, don't force them.

Join me next time when we cover corrections, modifications, releases and praise!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pumpkin Dog Cookies!

Dogs LOVE pumpkin! (Don't tell 'em it's good for them!) My dog enjoys this time of the year most because my love for all things pumpkin means that she will be reaping the benefits! This year while you're working so hard on your cranberry sauce, stuffing and Tofurky; take a minute to whip up a batch of these easy to make yummy pumpkin dog treats for the dog in your life, who is forever thankful for you, and the love and care they receive.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup pumpkin (canned)
1 Tblsp. Brn sugar
1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg
4 Tbls. Crisco
1 egg
1/2 Cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Beat wet ingredients and combine with flour mix. Drop by tablespoons onto un-greased cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool, and let your dog enjoy!
Remember to only give a couple a day as pumpkin aids in your doggy's digestion...if you get my meaning!

Happy Fall!

The Dog Diva