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The Confident Pooch

Certifed Dog Trainers &

Behavior Modificaion Specialists


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The Confident Pooch Blogosphere

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Beat the Boredom! Why Fetch, Walks & Tug Aren't Enough

Posted by [email protected] on March 3, 2022 at 5:20 PM

When it comes to playing games with our dogs, most people simply throw a ball for them to fetch or hold a toy for them to tug with.  We take our dogs on long walks hoping to wear them out.  These activites certainly provide our dogs with enjoyment and allow them to release their engery, but they do very little in terms of stimulating their minds.  Mental stimulation is one of the key things to dog's happiness and we forget this fundamental element all the time with our dogs.  Mentally challenging uour dog will not only help beat any boredom as they are exposed to new things, but it can also help boost their confidence and hep establish an even greater bond between you.  Most importantly have fun!

1.  The Muffin Tray 

This is a great game to start with, as it is relatively simple.  Unfortunately for you dog there aren't any real muffins involved in this game, but there will be some treats!  Place come kibble or some training treats in certain pockets of the muffin tray.  Place some balls or other items over those pockets.  Your dog will have to work out how to move the items to gain access to the treat!  This is a fantatic game for puppies or beginners (dogs that haven't been doing puzzles).  Amazon and Chewy also sell puzzles with the same concept but they are expensive!

2.  Use a Treat Ball

Treats balls are excellent at making your dog work for their food, both physically and mentally.  The idea of a treat ball is that it only dispenses food when it is positioned or squeezed in a certain way.  Fill a treat ball with kibble or training treats and watch your dog roll the ball around and work out how to release the food! Treat balls or interactive toys can be bought in most pet stores.  I am in love with the Starmark Green Treat Ball and the PetSafe Sqeak n' Treat Ninja Star. 

You can also fill up a lidless water bottle without the cap as a cheap alternative, and it will require your dog to do some problem solving to earn theri dinner.

Starmark Green Treat Ball

PetSafe Squeak n' Treat Ninja Star

3.  Hide and Seek

Once your dog has mastered the "Stay" command, try going out of sight and into another room before tell them to "Come!".  You should start by keeping the proximity close, and progressively increase the distance as your dog becomes more disciplined at the game.

Make sure you only say "Come" one time, rather than repeating saying it or shoutin their name.  You need to give them a chance to think hard and work out what you are asking them to do by that once commmand.  When your dog comes to you, reward them with a lost of praise and a treat!  This will also build reward history with your actual Come command in a fun way.

4.  Treasure Hunt

Smell is a dog's most powerful sense, so use it to stimulate their brains with this game!  Place some open cardboard boxes around a room and place treats in just a few of them.  Associate the game with the "Search" command and watch them run from box to box wokring out where the treats are.  You can increase the difficulty of this game by removing the boxes and placing treats in different objects like a laundry basket.

5.  Name You Dog's Toys

Increasing your dog's vocabulary is a brilliant way to challenge them mentally.  Start with two of your dogs favorite toys.  Teach them to fetch each one bu givin gthem a specific name.  For example, you might say "Fetch Rope" or "Fetch Tug"!  Use lots or praise or training treats when they pick up the correct toy.  Once they have mastered two toys, you can begin adding more.  This game requires a lot of patience, but as with all tricks, it is incredibly satisfying when they work it out.  You can also use a clicker to mark when they pick up the correct toy.  Click, praise, treat!


Jekyll & Hyde - Is It Leash Aggression?

Posted by [email protected] on October 21, 2016 at 7:15 PM

Jekyll & Hyde – Is It Leash Aggression?

So, you used to like walking your dog, but now he goes nuts when he sees other dogs, squirrels, bunnies and wants to stop and sniff everything. Most natural behavior for dogs include wanting to meet, greet and/or sniff every dog, human and tree. Dogs are social animals and 40% of their brain is dedicated to smells. They cannot help it. Unfortunately, we don’t always have time on walks for our dogs to “smell the roses”. But meanwhile your dog is thinking “I want to say hi, I want to sniff, I want it, I want it, I want it now!!!”. So what do we do? We drag them with us down the sidewalk or away from what it wants to go investigate so we can get that walk done. The more this happens to your dog the more frustrated the he becomes and the more determined he is to get to what it wants to. The pulling gets worse, behavior towards other dogs appears aggressive. We end up trying a harness which either helps a just a little or makes it entirely worse having the same effect as a tight leash. Walking your dog is no longer pleasant and in some cases seemingly dangerous. I cannot tell you how many people stop walking their dogs entirely when it gets to this point and I can totally understand why.

I am happy to let you know there are solutions to this very common problem. Basic obedience and loose leash walking training usually solves it. Once your dog understands obedience commands and an open line of communication is open between you and your dog, you will have amazing control over the situation. We always teach alternate behaviors like heel, sit and down. Your dog cannot go after or sniff people, birds, bunnies, trees, and other dogs when it is in obedience mode on command. They learn to walk on a loose leash and heel which takes care of their need to pull. We also use other behavior modification technique to break your dog of being that excited about distractions in general. It is worth every penny to hire a certified trainer to solve this problem. Walking your dog is very necessary for its health and it should be an enjoyable experience for both of you.


Let's Talk About Bloat In Dogs

Posted by [email protected] on October 6, 2016 at 6:15 PM

Bloat is the second leading killer in dogs; it is a canine medical emergency. Bloat can occur in two forms: swelling of the stomach from gas (gastric dilatation) or torsion (gastric dilatation with volvulus), which occurs when the stomach twists on its axis. Often, both forms of bloat occur in a single episode. When this happens, bloat is fatal in minutes. The disease progresses in minutes or, at most, hours. The only treatment is emergency medical treatment. In its two advanced forms, the only treatment is surgery.

Symptoms Of Bloat May Include:

1. Excessive salivation

2. Extreme restlessness/pacing

3. Unproductive attempts to vomit/defecate

4. Evidence of abdominal pain

5. Rapid breathing/panting

6. Collapse

The Following Are Risk Factors For Bloat:

1. 110% risk increase associated with using a raised food bowl, no raised feeder!

2. 15% risk increase for speed eating (for dogs weighing 49 to 100 pounds)

3. 20% risk increase for each year increase in a dogs age

4. 170% risk increase for each unit increase in chest depth/width ratio

5. 63% risk increase associated with having a first degree relative with bloat (first degree relative is defined as sire, dam, litter mate, or offspring).

Important Tips To Decreasing The Chances Of Bloat:

1. Raised food bowls: Pet suppliers and manufactures have made claims that raised feeder/bowls aids a dog’s digestion and prevents bloat. No scientific research supports these claims. Some studies have found that use of a raised feeder actually increases the risk of bloat by 110%. Approximately 20% to 50% of bloat cases were attributed to having a raised food bowl.

2. Gulping food: when a dog gulps food, the dog ingests air with the food. Air ingestion causes gas that may, in turn, cause the dog to bloat. This is especially the case in dogs weighing over 49 pounds.

3. Exercise after eating: Allow at least one hour of rest after eating. The worst activity a dog can do after eating is rolling on its back.

4. Feed multiple meals: Studies have shown that feeding in the morning and evening greatly reduces the risk of bloat.

5. Changing food: It is extremely important to introduce new food slowly; it can take several weeks for a dog to adapt. New food if not introduced slowly can cause extreme gas in the stomach and in some cases cause bloat.

6. Table Scraps: Feeding dogs occasional table scraps have been shown to reduce bloat

Information for this article was gathered from an ongoing study at Purdue University Department of Veterinarian Pathobiology.

Important: If you think your dog has bloat do not hesitate, RUSH to the closest veterinarians. In this circumstance every minute counts, if left unattended there is a 100% fatality rate.


Do You Know How To Bathe Your Dog?

Posted by [email protected] on September 28, 2016 at 2:15 AM

Let's face it...for some of us bathing our dogs can be a daunting task.  Some dogs will fight us to the end of the earth before getting into the tub or shower.  In those cases a professional groomer might be the right choice. But if you think you are up to the challenge, then roll up your sleeves and get ready to lather up!  

When bathing your dog you will need Shampoo and Conditioner or an Two in One - but which to choose? There are many different kinds of shampoos on the market and you should pick the one that best suits the needs of your dog.  If your dog has allergies or sensitive skin you should buy a gentle shampoo. Most of these are Oatmeal based and moisterizing to the skin.  I also find shampoos with coconut oil or tea tree oil in them are pretty mild.  If your dog is all white you should consider a whitening shampoo.  There are also medicated shampoo and conditioners for flighting flea and ticks and certain skin conditions.  

As far as conditioners might ask if they actually need it.  The answer is YES! Conditioners are very important in that they help return natural oils to your dog's coat.  It can keep your dog's coat from getting dry and brittle in the winter or in drier months.  Don't skip this step!  

Before you get wet, make sure you take care of a few things first like cleaning their eyes and ears.  This is a very important step in dog grooming and in making sure your dog is healthy.  To properly clean your dogs ears use cotton balls and an alcohol-based ear cleaning solution for dogs.  Do not use Q-Tips no matter how tempted you are.  A Q-Tip might seem easier to use but is dangerous as it can go too far into the ear and cause damage of the ear canal.  So get your cotton ball, soak it with solution and then gently place it over the opening of your dog's ear canal.  Gently massage the dog's ear while the cotton ball is inside.  Take another cotton ball and wipe the insides of the external portion of the ear.  If you go to clean the ear and it is red or smells foul there might be an infection and you should have your vet take a look.  Clean ears should be pink inside and have no dirt or debris in it.  

For the eyes, get a soft clean cloth and wipe gently.  The white of the eye should be a bright white and the membranes around the eye should be light pink.  Generally a healthy eye should not have significant discharge, though some might be normal, especially in locations where allergy levels are high.  If your dog has typical tear stains, there are special facial shampoos that are easy on the eyes and aid in whitening of the tear stains.  

If you are able, trimming the nails is next.  Most dogs do not like us touching their feet and many dogs have had a bad experience with you or the groomer cutting the quick at some point.  If your dog's quicks are long, just tip the nails with clippers or a dremmel.  Do this a couple times a month to get the quick to recede.  Your dog's nails should not be touching the floor when they put weight on their feet.  If you nip the quick put pressure on it immediately and dip the nail in flour or use Quick Stop if you have it.  

Lastly, thoroughly brush your dog before you bathe him/her.  Gently brush or cut all mats out.  Wet mats are harder to work with than when they are dry.  Never let mats air dry as it makes the mats tighter!  

Ok, now time to lather up!  Water temperature should be luke warm.  Thoroughly wet your dog.  Adding a little shampoo along the spine can help water penetrate the oils on the rain coat easier than just water alone. Allow the hair to get wet all the way down to the skin.  Pour some more shampoo down the spine and with your hands work it into the coat starting at the head and working down towards the tail.  Hands are quite beneficial in helping remove oil and dirt from the hair.  Plus some dogs find it very soothing. Try not to get water in their eyes or ears.  You should wash ALL areas of your dog including the genitals and anal area to make sure your dog is completely clean.  Now it's time to rinse!  Allow your dog to shake off water if it wants to do so as it is instinctual behavior.  Repeat the shampoo process one more time and then rinse again.  Make sure all of the shampoo is out of the coat.  There should be no suds left and the hair should squeak as you pull your hands across.  Now you can use your conditioner if you aren't using a Two in One.  Same thing...rinse thoroughly.

Drying is not always a pleasant process for your dog.  It can be darn right frightening.  Use a slicker brush as you dry using the same pattern you would for normal brushing.  The slicker brush will help separate the hair and speed up the drying.  Start at the back end and work your way forward.  Dry your dog's head last.  This will give your dog time to adjust.  At the end, praise your dog and reward with treats!  Try to make this a good experience for your dog and then you won't meet as much resistance the next time you want to give him/her a bath!  

Here are some bathing products I really love:

Barklogic 2 - 1 Shampoo and Conditioner in Mint - has tea tree oil in it - makes the coat really shine - $12-14

DakPet Pet Grooming Deshedding too for short to long hair coats (much cheaper than the Furminator and works just as good!)  - $19-24

PortablePet Booster Bath Dog Wash Tub - great for outside and keeps you from having to bend over - Amazon usually has the best price $149