All posts tagged: Medical Benefits of Dog Ownership
Teaching Dogs the "Come" Command

For dogs, learning to come when called is not only a behavior issue. It’s a safety issue.

For instance, if your dog slips out the front door and races down across the yard, you must be able to get him to stop and come back before he runs into the street.

Bear in mind that the “come” command isn’t always the best option when you want your dog by your side. For instance, if you haven’t fully trained your dog to understand what you want when you say “come,” don’t use that command and expect results. It’s better to go and get him than to say “come” repeatedly.

Keep practicing the “come” command until you are certain your dog will respond immediately the first time you call.

Method 1 for teaching your dog to come: The back up and recall method

You can practice this method in the house or while out on a walk with your dog.

  • Put your dog on a leash.
  • Hold the other end of the leash, say “come” once, then quickly move backward.
  • Keep moving backward until your dog gets all the way to you.
  • When your dog catches up to you, say “Yes!”
  • Give your dog a treat.
  • Training tip: Teach your dog polite leash behavior
  • The Back Up and Recall is a good way to teach your dog not to pull on his leash when you take a walk.
  • Each time he starts to pull, say “come,” and move backward until your dog gets to you. Say “Yes!” and reward him with a treat.

You may spend much of your first few walks going backward, but it won’t take long for your dog to learn that he must pay attention to where you are going instead of choosing his own path and speed.

Method 2 for teaching your dog to come: The long line

You can also practice “come” outside using a long (20-foot) training leash. The long leash makes it easy to catch your dog if he gets distracted and wants to wander around the yard. For this method, you’ll need the help of another person.

  • Attach the long training leash to your dog’s collar.
  • Your assistant should stand behind your dog and hold him by lacing her hands across his chest.
  • Get your dog’s attention by holding a treat in front of his nose and talking to him in an excited voice.
  • Run away a few feet then call your dog to “come.” Encourage him by clapping your hands or making noises but don’t repeat the “come” command.
  • When your dog runs to you, say “Yes!”
  • Give him a treat.
  • As he gets better at “come,” run farther away before you call him.

Training tip: Make it a game for your dog

As your dog learns “come,” practice inside (a leash isn’t necessary) by having your assistant distract or hold your dog while you go out of the room. Call out, “come.”

When he finds you, say “Yes!” and give him a treat. Over time you can make this game more difficult, by moving to more distant rooms of the house before you call “come.”

Why Dogs Bark

Check out some of the reasons why dogs sound off!

Dogs have a lot to say, and they do it by barking. They bark to go out, come in, to tell you a stranger’s in your yard, and at people, cars, and other animals.

Too much barking or barking at inappropriate times can be a problem. You want to be respectful of your neighbors as well as local laws, so you need to get your dog’s barking under control.

In order to determine why your dog barks, you may need to do some clever detective work—especially if it occurs when you’re not home. You can ask your neighbors what they see and hear, go around the block and watch and listen, start a tape recorder or video camera when you leave the house. After some sleuthing, you may be able to find out which of the following common problems is causing your dog to bark.

Common Causes of Barking

Attention/Demand: Your dog may want to eat, go outside, or your undivided attention.

Boredom/Frustration: Your dog may have been left outside day and night, or confined to one room for a long period of time.

Fear: Your dog may be afraid of objects, people, places, other animals, or loud noises such as thunder and fireworks.

Tip: Your dog’s posture can tell you if he’s barking out of fear. Typically his ears are back, and his tail is held low.

Territoriality/Protectiveness: Your dog is barking in the presence of “intruders,” which may include people and other dogs in adjacent yards.

Tip: If your dog is being territorial, his posture appears threatening with his tail held high and his ears up and forward.

Playfulness/Excitement: Your dog may be overly playful and excited when greeting people.

Health Issues: Your dog may have Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or deafness, causing him to bark because he’s unable to hear himself bark.

Dealing with health-related barking

Some dogs bark because of age-related dementia or deafness. Be patient with your dog. Keep his environment simple and orderly; don’t make frequent changes. Talk to your vet about medications that may help the dementia. Teach your deaf dog the “quiet” command using hand signals or a flash of light or a vibrating collar (NOT a shock collar) as the cue instead of saying the word “quiet.”

Dealing with multiple barking dogs

If you share your home and your life with more than one dog, you know how they can set each other off. The doorbell rings and deafening, out-of-control barking ensues. You must train each dog individually before you can work with them as a group. It takes a little more effort to settle your pack of wild hounds, but you’ll be rewarded with a group of well-mannered dogs. And your friends and relatives will no longer dread coming to your house!

Dog Coughing - Kennel Cough Image

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough (also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Dogs commonly contract kennel cough at places where large amounts of canines congregate, such as boarding and daycare facilities, dog parks, training groups, and dog shows. Dogs can spread it to one another through airborne droplets, direct contact (e.g., touching noses), or contaminated surfaces (including water/food bowls). It’s highly treatable in most dogs but can be more severe in puppies younger than six months of age and immunocompromised dogs.
What are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough?

If your dog is affected with kennel cough, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • a strong cough, often with a “honking” sound – this is the most obvious symptom
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • low fever

Although kennel cough is easily treatable in healthy dogs, it’s important to report a coughing symptom to your veterinarian because it could be a sign of a more serious disease.

The canine distemper virus and canine influenza virus both start off with symptoms nearly identical to kennel cough,” he said. Other conditions that can cause coughing include a collapsing trachea, bronchitis, asthma, and even heart disease.

How Is Kennel Cough Treated?

Typically, mild cases of kennel cough are treated with a week or two of rest, but a veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection and cough medication to ease the symptoms.

Nebulizers and vaporizers utilizing inhaled antibiotics or bronchodilators have been reported to be beneficial but are usually not prescribed. Speak to your veterinarian for treatment recommendations. Also, it’s important that owners use a harness rather than a collar to walk a dog with kennel cough because irritation of the tracheal can aggravate the cough and possibly even cause damage to the trachea. If you have a household with multiple pets, it may be useful to separate them as much as possible or at least to separate their water and food bowls to prevent the sick dog from infecting the other animals. Humans cannot catch kennel cough.
Can Kennel Cough Be Prevented?

A vaccine is available for the bordetella bacterium, which is the most common agent to cause kennel cough. Dogs who are frequently boarded, visit doggie day care, compete in canine sports, or otherwise are exposed to large groups of dogs may benefit from the vaccine, and many training, boarding, and daycare facilities require proof of vaccination. The vaccine is available in oral, intranasal, and injectable forms, and depending on the form, it is usually initially given in two doses two to four weeks apart, followed by a booster every six months to a year.

Although most cases of kennel cough are caused by bordetella, some are caused by other agents, including the bacteria bordetella bronchiseptica, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, canine respiratory coronavirus, and mycoplasmas, so the vaccine may not prevent your dog from catching the disease.

If you notice your pet coughing or if you plan to introduce your dog to large groups of animals, speak with your veterinarian.

Woman sitting with Labrador photo

If you have a dog in your life, you already know what joy your pooch brings. We’ll show you some benefits that you might not have known about.

Walk down any residential street in the early hours and you’ll find one unescapable fact: Dogs are popular pets in the US. In fact, a recent study estimates that 44% of all US households have at least one canine member of the family.

If your family is one of these households, your dog is giving you some surprising benefits.

COMPANIONSHIP

You already know how good a friend your dog can be. What you might not have noticed is how much more you talk to other people when you’re out with your dog. You’re simply more likely to interact with other humans when your dog is with you than when you are out for a walk by yourself.

EXERCISE

Having a dog also increases the chances you’ll go for walks and play in the park. It’s harder to skip your morning run when your exercise partner is bouncing excitedly at the door with his leash in his mouth. How can you tell him you want to skip walks today?

Evidence is starting to show that children with dogs have a 50% lower chance of being overweight, as compared with those without. With all the running and walking involved in playing with the family dog, even in the house, maybe this isn’t so surprising after all.

NURTURING

You might have noticed that families are smaller these days. Most people feel a need to nurture that used to be fulfilled by raising a baby or helping to take care of smaller siblings. For people without children and children in small families dogs are increasingly fulfilling the role of substitute child or sibling. The dog gives them someone to care for and nurture with all the positive physical and mental benefits that come with doing so.

EMPATHY

Perhaps the practice in nurturing is the reason behind the observation that kids with dogs tend to be more empathetic than other kids, all else being equal. They also tend to be more popular with their schoolmates and have healthy self-esteem. These are all good things for a child’s emotional and social development, whatever the connection with their canine friend might be.

SOCIAL CAPITAL

Dog-owners tend to interact with other dog-owners in their neighbourhoods. This is true of most groups of people brought together by a common interest, but dog-owners might well meet up several times a day, by chance or design, during walks and playtime at the park. This frequent interaction strengthens the entire community.

READING

Some children read to their dogs. These kids often have higher reading levels than those children who don’t. It’s great for the child and the dog: the dog gets attention and the child gets reading practice. Playing “teacher” with a canine student is fun, anyway.

MEDICAL BENEFITS

Some researchers have noticed that pet-owners tend to have shorter stays in the hospital, fewer visits to the doctor’s office, and lower levels of stress overall. Having a pet might also lower your risk of heart disease, by possibly as much as 4%. If this turns out to be true over the long term, that would be a benefit similar to going on a low-salt diet.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

Many of the studies looking into the benefits of pet ownership took into account differences of wealth and social standing. As a result, the benefits of dog ownership are believed to be connected to the pet directly, and not just linked to having the money and leisure to be able to afford a dog.

It’s good to know that having a dog is good for you. However, it is not a wise plan to purchase a pet with only these benefits in mind. Remember that the pooch is a living creature with its own physical and emotional needs.