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It is every child’s dream… to own a pet. Whether its the stray cat at your doorstep or the playful pup in the pet store window, animals find a way into our hearts. We naturally want to care for them, feed them, and hold and squeeze them! They do not come empty handed either as they provide companionship, comfort, and a chance to be a kid again yourself! You may want to say yes to your child’s next plea of, “Can we keep him?” since studies show that a child’s social, emotional, physicial, and cognitive development can all be encouraged by interaction with the family pet.

SOCIAL

Pets can be wonderful social facilitators as they create an invitation for children to enter otherwise uncomfortable or uninteresting social scenarios. Making friends is less intimidating when their is a furry friend to be made as well.

A pet itself can be a social object for children because of the nature of their relationship. “Because animals accept us for who we are, pets give some practice in a social relationship,” says Dickstein, Ph.D., Director of Humane Education for the ASPCA. Carlie Van Willigen’s five-year-old son Murphy is developmentally disabled, his mother reports that he never really noticed his surroundings. That all changed when they got a dog two years ago.

“For a while, he didn’t seem to even notice the dog, until one day he was running through the kitchen and skidded to a stop in front of the dog and started petting her. Eventually, he began throwing his ball and the dog would fetch it and he thought that was the greatest thing.” says Van Willigen as she sees their dog as one of the catalysts that helped Murphy learn that there is a world outside of himself and his own needs.

EMOTIONAL

Pets can be a safe place for children to express their emotions and give them the time to process how they feel and think about a situation. We all need a safe place to turn and a pet is a ready listener who won’t offer any negative feedback- just a furry back to rest your head upon.

This self-awareness can be a bridge to self-confidence as Dickstein points out, “As kids age and take on more of the care for the pet, it helps to build self-confidence.” She points out however, that it is not guaranteed that owning a pet will teach children responsibility. “Parents teach responsibility,” explains Dickstein, “Pets just make a good vehicle for learning.”

Keep in mind that the responsibility a child has for her pet needs to be age appropriate. Starting at around three years old, a child can help fill food and water bowls. By five, he can begin to groom as well as to help keep the pet’s living area clean. As children near the mid-elementary school aged years, they can begin walking a dog independently, and as the teen years approach, the child will most likely be able to take over the majority of responsibilities for a house pet.

PHYSICAL

“Pets provide an impetus for running and practicing motor skills,” says Sheryl Dickstein. It is the perfect excuse for taking a break form the TV watching and video games that kids are tempted to default to. Taking the dog for a daily walk, running in the back yard, and throwing a ball are great ways to exercise the dog as well get children moving around.  Small motor skills can be encouraged when children scoop food and pour water into dishes, and help to groom them. Depending on the child’s age, parental supervision is recommended for both the child’s and the pet’s safety.

COGNITIVE

Encouraging children to read about their pet as well as to take part in obedience classes can encourage a child’s cognitive development as it sparks the desire for learning. Bringing the child along to a veterinarian appointment will give him a chance to ask questions about proper care and his pet’s health.

Helping children to research information about their pet on the Internet is another way they can learn about the pet’s special needs and unique characteristics as well as to correspond with other owners of the same type of pet .As children grow, they may develop an interest in a specific type or breed of animal and you can encourage them to follow their interests even if they do not own that particular pet.

Brining a pet into the family is not a decision that should be made lightly. It first must be a commitment by the parents, not the child, as they will ultimately be responsible for the pet’s welfare. Once that commitment has been made, however, and an appropriate pet has been found for the family, the joys and benefits of the pet relationship will last for many years to come.

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Catnip, the herb Nepeta cateria, is somewhat mysterious to us. By simply sniffing it, cats seem to be overcome with playfulness. It is a member of the mint family, nonaddictive, and completely safe for cats. So what is the secret to its overwhelming influence over felines?

Aptly named, catnip seems to only affect cats. Sniffing or ingesting this herb invigorates them through all of the five sense of sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. It has a varying influence from cat to cat with some being more greatly affected than others and a small amount are not affected at all. After contact with the herb cats can display a wide range of behaviors from sneezing, sniffing, licking and chewing, head shaking, chin and cheek rubbing, head-over roll and body rubbing, eating the catnip, mewing and purring. The effects only lasts a few minutes.

Your cat may enjoy occasional contact with catnip. It can be purchased at the store in dry form as well as in many cat toys. Pet owners can even grow their own plant at home allowing your cat to approach it on his own time. No need to worry about your cat overdosing as its affects are due to scent and not consumption.

While catnip is not a necessary part of a cat’s diet, it can provide a fun outlet as well as a bonding experience for you and your pet.

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A time honored tradition is to “give a dog a bone.” More recently, there have been some stipulations as to what type of bone is healthy for your dog as some may even be lethal. 

“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” says Dr. Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Bones are unsafe no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery, or even death.”

This warning is familiar to some but how do we reconcile this with the traditional beliefs we have held to?

The missing link here is that there is a big distinction between a cooked bone and a raw bone. In the wild, a dog has no problem eating the entire animal, bones and all, as raw bones are very easily digested. The cooking process, however, makes bones more brittle, increasing the likelihood they might splinter and cause internal injury to your dog. Cooking can also remove the nutrition contained in bones.

In their April 20, 2010 Consumer Update, the FDA lists the following risks associated with giving your dog a cooked bone to chew:

  1. Broken teeth. This may call for expensive veterinary dentistry.
  2. Mouth or tongue injuries. These can be very bloody and messy and may require a trip to see your veterinarian.
  3. Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw. This can be frightening or painful for your dog and potentially costly to you, as it usually means a trip to see your veterinarian.
  4. Bone gets stuck in esophagus, the tube that food travels through to reach the stomach. Your dog may gag, trying to bring the bone back up, and will need to see your veterinarian.
  5. Bone gets stuck in windpipe. This may happen if your dog accidentally inhales a small enough piece of bone. This is an emergency because your dog will have trouble breathing. Get your pet to your veterinarian immediately!
  6. Bone gets stuck in stomach. It went down just fine, but the bone may be too big to pass out of the stomach and into the intestines. Depending on the bone’s size, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which your veterinarian uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone from the stomach.
  7. Bone gets stuck in intestines and causes a blockage. It may be time for surgery.
  8. Constipation due to bone fragments. Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they’re very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along. This causes severe pain and may require a visit to your veterinarian. Bones also contain a lot of calcium, which is very firming to the stool.
  9. Severe bleeding from the rectum. This is very messy and can be dangerous. It’s time for a trip to see your veterinarian.
  10. Peritonitis. This nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen is caused when bone fragments poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines. Your dog needs an emergency visit to your veterinarian because peritonitis can kill your dog.

Those are some serious warnings! While this advice is accurate and should be headed concerning cooked bones, raw bones are another story. Raw bones can be both safe and healthy providing you follow some simple guidelines. Canines in their natural habitat eat prey, including the meat, bones and stomach contents. In fact, your pup has a biological requirement for the nutrients found in bone marrow and the bones themselves. Chewing raw bones is a great treat to dogs for the yummy taste, the mental stimulation, and also because all that gnawing is great exercise for the muscles of the jaw.

The health risks listed above for cooked bones can also apply to recreational raw bones if your dog has unrestricted, unsupervised access to them. The following are do’s and don’ts for feeding recreational raw bones:

  • Do supervise your dog closely while he’s working on a bone. That way you can react immediately if your pup happens to choke, or if you notice any blood on the bone or around your dog’s mouth from over aggressive gnawing. You’ll also know when your dog has chewed down to the hard brittle part of a knuckle bone, making splinters more likely. When the bone has been gnawed down in size throw it out. Do not allow your dog to chew it down to a small chunk he can swallow.
  • Do separate dogs in a multi-dog household before feeding bones. Dogs can get quite territorial about bones and some dogs will fight over them.
  • Do feed fresh raw bones in your dog’s crate, or on a towel or other surface you can clean, or outside as long as you can supervise him. Fresh raw bones become a gooey, greasy mess until your dog has gnawed them clean, so make sure to protect your flooring and furniture.
  • Don’t give them to a dog that has had restorative dental work/crowns.
  • Don’t give them to your dog if she has a predisposition to pancreatitis. Raw bone marrow is very rich and can cause diarrhea and a flare-up of pancreatitis. Instead, you can feed a “low fat” version by thawing the bone and scooping out the marrow to reduce the fat content.
  • Don’t give a recreational bone to a dog that’s likely to try to swallow it whole or bite it in two and eat it in huge chunks
  • Don’t feed small bones that can be swallowed whole or pose a choking risk, or bones that have been cut, such as a leg bone. Cut bones are more likely to splinter.
  • Don’t feed pork bones or rib bones. They’re more likely to splinter than other types of bones.

Do give your dog a bone following the guidelines above. Chewing is a very important part of maintaining healthy teeth, gums, and digestion is dogs and keeping the jaw muscle strong.

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If your great dane is acting like he ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog lately, then it may be that he has the back to school blues. Yes, even your pet can get down when his favorite playmates have gone from full to part time. This can mean his life has gone from fun and fantasy to loneliness and boredom. He may be left feeling neglected and depressed. Alternatively, if he is spending long days in the crate, he may overwhelm you with all the stored up energy that is waiting to be unleashed once his family arrives.

Is your dog displaying symptoms of depression such as lack of energy, loss of appetite, hiding or cowering, and not wanting to play? Separation anxiety is another possibility. Unlike depression, separation anxiety manifests itself in erratic behavior, including excessive barking and whining, frantic clawing at doors, windows, or fences to get out, destructive chewing, and going to the bathroom in the house. Dogs with separation anxiety will be ecstatic when family members get home, whereas a depressed dog may not even get up from his bed. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, he may be upset by the recent change in schedules.

It is important to not disregard your dog’s feelings. Instead take a look at these tips to help your dog cope with the difficulty associated with this time of transition.

SCHEDULING TECHNIQUES AND TWEAKS

Remember that it is going to take some time. If your dog has gone through this routine in past years, he may remember the routine and settle in more quickly but if this is his first time, be sure to be patient as he learns to adjust to the new way of life. Having a simple routine in place can help alleviate any stress your dog feels. Even if your dog does not suffer from depression or anxiety, he will still appreciate this simple routine, which will ensure he gets enough attention and exercise.

AM Exercise: Exercise is essential for having a healthy and happy dog. Create a schedule with your family that gets everyone involved. Each morning someone should get up a little bit early, even just fifteen minutes, to take the dog out for a walk around the block or even the back yard before the day starts. Not only will this let your dog know you still care, but getting out that extra energy means he is less likely to be destructive while you are gone.

Upon Leaving: When it is time to leave for the day, don’t make a big deal of it. It is ok to pet your dog, but don’t get emotional. Dogs can sense your emotions. If you are upset, he will be more likely to be upset. Distract him with a toy or a treat-stuffed toy. For anxious dogs, leaving a radio or TV on can help.

Afternoon Break: Try to schedule someone in your family to go home around midday and let your dog out for some quick exercise. Not only does it break up the length of time he is left alone, but it will also relieve some energy. If no one in the family is available, consider asking a neighbor or hiring a dog walker. Taking her to a doggy daycare a couple of times a week is a good alternative.

Upon Arrival: When you return home for the day don’t make a big deal of it. If your dog has anxiety, making a grande entrance will only feed his anxious emotions. The best thing to do is ignore him when you first get home, then after a few minutes, calmly greet your dog and take him out to go to the bathroom if needed.

PM Exercise: When you finally arrive home, it is easy to put off the dog. You have had a long day, you had to cook dinner, help the kids with homework, and now all you want to do is sit on the couch. But your dog has been waiting for you all day and most likely has unspent energy. After his dinner, be sure to take him out for some exercise and play time.

Following this routine will help your dog have some things to look forward to each day and help him not to dwell on your absence. Continue to monitor him, and if his symptoms worsen or do not improve, take him to a veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions that might be causing the symptoms.

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It’s been a long day at work. You finally pull in the driveway and your eyes meet his as he stares intently at you through the window. Before you even exit your car you hear it: the incessant barking from your dog as if you were wearing a ski mask and holding a chainsaw and were there to kill everyone inside. You are getting mixed signals. Besides feeling annoyed you wonder, “If he is really happy to see me, why is he treating me like an intruder?”

The truth is, your dog really is happy to see you. He is letting you know in the most vocal and flamboyant way he knows how. Unfortunately, this is not the method that most owners prefer to be acknowledged by. There could be some underlying anxiety driving this over the top performance.

Part of the problem may be that your enthusiasm has driven a ritual of anxiety that you are unintentionally encouraging. Any positive reinforcements such as petting, holding, or just speaking soothingly to a dog during these wild times can give your dog the idea that he’s being rewarded. Instead he needs an early correction. At times like these it is important to ignore your dog (as difficult as that may be) and not speak to him or look at him directly in order for your dog to understand that his is not a condoned behavior. Then consider using a tool such as a Promise head halter, which your dog can wear comfortably while you’re gone. Adjusted properly it will allow her to eat, drink, pant, and even bark normally.

Then, as soon as he starts barking grab the lead on his head halter and pull so that his mouth closes. Tell him “No”. Speak quietly but firmly. Wait until he begins to calm down before you say “OK”. When he’s collected himself you reward him with a yummy biscuit. End of lesson. Repeat hundreds of times.

Want a faster solution? You can add a citronella anti-bark collar. These work well for most dogs but they discourage all barking. And there could be other causes for all the noise. Some dogs may have serious anxiety or a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). For these dogs medications may be necessary. But whatever you do correct this problem early and correct it often. Consistency is key.

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Dog begging for food is one of the most common discipline issues that dog owners face. An unfortunate side effect of loving our dogs so much is that we would like to give them everything that they want. In the end we have created something we can not maintain when whining and incessant barking at dinner time turns to annoyance and embarrassment. How do we reverse it?

Fortunately, with a little willpower and discipline on your part, begging can be one of the easiest behaviors to correct. Follow these simple tips to turn your hairy panhandler into a productive member of society once more!

The obvious place to start is to stop giving food to a dog that is begging. When your pup stars at you with those wide eyes and makes that high pitched whine that shoots right to the bone, it takes all the resolve one can muster to withstand the trance. Your dog knows what works and if you break under the pressure, it will only strengthen your dogs will to use the behavior again and again. Giving food is a form of affection, and giving affection reinforces the behavior preceding it. Your dog has learned that if he begs, he gets food! Take a stand and start a new trend. Find the willpower to withhold that food, and your dog will learn that he can’t expect rewards for begging behavior.

Secondly, it is imperative to ignore a begging dog. Begging is an attention-seeking behavior. Rather than give in to your dog’s demands, ignore the behavior and teach your dog that it does not get results in this house! When you talk to your dog, give him affection, or engage in direct eye contact, which feeds his mental state. Do not entertain him in this way. Instead, practice no touch, no talk, no eye contact.

Resist the urge to feel sorry for the dog. He is well-fed. You should know; you feed him! He is not in danger of going hungry if you don’t give him that scrap off the table. On the contrary, many dogs are in danger of various health issues and become over weight due to the table food they are fed between meals. So, don’t let him persuade you with that pitiful stare and brushing paw on your leg. You are doing what is best for your pup by feeding him the food that is formulated specially for his health.

Be consistent in discipline. In any kind of training, consistency is the key to success. For your dog to learn that his begging behavior is ineffective, it has to be ineffective 100% of the time. Inconsistent enforcement of the rules leads to an inconsistently obedient dog! Make sure that every pack leader in the household understands and enforces the same rules in this area and any other.

Lastly, be patient and don’t give up on the process. If you have followed these tips and your dog still continues to beg, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Ask yourself, am I using the discipline techniques above consistently? If you are then it will not be long before your dog waves the white flag and you can enjoy your meals in peace for the rest of your days.

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Basic obedience is foundational to training your dog’s character early and having proper control over him. Once this has been established, teaching your dog a few tricks can be fun and rewarding for both pet and owner as he receives treats and praise for his efforts and you feel a sense of pride over having a hand in his accomplishments. Reciting the tricks regularly will help your dog not to get rusty as well as keep him mentally stimulated which can be a great outlet especially in the  cold weather months.

1. SIT

This is usually one of the first things people teach their dogs, and forms part of basic obedience training. It can also be one of the most useful things to teach your pet. A sitting dog will be less frightening for those nervous of dogs; it’s an alternative action to jumping up when meeting people (and one he can be rewarded for!); always asking him to ‘Sit’ before crossing a road will ensure he pauses rather than stepping straight out into passing traffic; and even if he doesn’t have a great stay or recall, a well-established and ingrained sit can drop him on the spot in an emergency.

The sit is very easy to teach. Hold a tasty treat in your hand just in front of your dog’s nose and allow him to smell it but not eat it. Very slowly bring the treat up and back over his head; as his nose comes up following the treat, his back end will lower until he’s sitting. Once he’s sitting, praise and reward him. Practice at every opportunity — not just during training sessions, but asking him to ‘Sit’ before having his collar and lead put on, or before getting his dinner (which then also becomes the reward). As he gets the idea, phase out holding a treat in your hand (but not the praise and reward), and gradually begin to make your hand signal more subtle. Attach a verbal command, and practise both so he’ll respond promptly to either a gesture or your voice.

2. COMMANDO CRAWL

Ask your dog to lie down, and then holding a treat just in front of his nose, use it to lure him forwards in a commando crawl. Move the treat slowly and keep it close to the ground; praise and reward every small movement at first, gradually increasing the distance you ask him to go until he can wiggle along on his tummy. This can be a handy trick if you come across a barrier you can’t lift him over while out on a walk — he can crawl under it instead.

3. LEG WEAVE

This looks really impressive but is actually very simple to teach. Hold a small treat in each hand and stand with your feet spaced far enough apart so that your dog can comfortably pass through them. Start with your dog in front of you, and lure him through your legs by holding the treat in your right hand behind your right leg. Move it forward and around your right leg as he follows it. As he comes level with your knee, praise and reward, and then use the treat in your left hand to encourage him to move through your legs again, but this time luring him round to your left hand side.

Once he’s managing a single figure of eight with confidence, begin asking him to do one and a half, and then two continuous weaves, gradually increasing the number before rewarding. This is a great exercise for increasing coordination and agility, but does require a lot of concentration, so build it up in easy stages. As he starts finding it easier you’ll find he becomes faster, but don’t rush him while he’s still learning. As he grasps what you want him to do, you’ll find you’ll also be able to start straightening up and giving more subtle hand signals.

4. TAKE A BOW

While your dog is standing facing you, take a small treat in one hand and place it right in front of his nose. Very slowly lower the treat towards the ground just between his front paws; as his nose follows it his front end will go downwards while his back end stays in the air, making it look as though he’s taking a bow. Praise and reward him. Gradually increase the time he stays in the bow, and also begin moving your hand less, but continue to bend forwards — this becomes your cue, but to anyone watching it will look as though you’re politely bowing to each other.

5. ROLL OVER

Ask your dog to lie down, and then use a treat to lure him into lying on his side by placing it just in front of his nose and bringing it slowly round towards his shoulder. When he’s comfortable about doing this, bring your hand round a bit further towards his spine, and as his nose follows the treat take it a bit further still until he rolls right over. Once he’s confident with rolling over you can attach a cue word just before he goes over so he begins to associate it with the action.

6.PLAY DEAD

Have your dog lie down on his tummy. As you gently roll him over on his side, say, “Take a nap.” While he is lying on his side, keeping his head on the floor, say, “Take a nap.” Don’t give him a treat. Encourage him to stay there for a couple of seconds. Then say, “Ok” or “Wake up!”, let him stand up, and give him his reward.You can use the treat to lure your dog into a lying down position. Don’t give your a dog a reward while he is lying down. Give him a treat after he has completed the trick.

7. CATCH

Learning to catch a treat isn’t always as easy for your dog as you might think, and it can take time for him to perfect the necessary coordination, so be patient with him if he fluffs it at first. Make your throws easy to start with, throwing upwards and towards his mouth — it helps if you use slightly larger treats rather than tiny ones. If he doesn’t make much of an effort, but just lets the treat bounce off his nose and on to the floor, be ready to beat him to it and pick it up before he can eat it so he doesn’t end up getting a reward for doing nothing. As he starts to get better at catching the treat, you can begin to use smaller ones and to throw them a little to the side to make it more challenging.

8. BALANCE THE TREAT

This requires a huge amount of self-control from your dog as well as the ability to stay motionless until you release him. Ask him to sit and gently support his chin with one hand so his nose is parallel to the ground while you place a biscuit on top of it. Use a treat which is a bit boring rather than super-tempting. To start with, gently hold the biscuit in place for a second, then remove it, and praise and reward him.

Gradually increase the time you hold the treat there, then progress to letting go of it and increasing the time you can do that, and then to briefly removing your hand from beneath his chin. Build up the time he can manage to keep it balanced on his nose, and either finish the trick by telling him ‘OK’ so he can tilt his head and let the biscuit fall to the floor, or if he’s good at catching, say ‘Catch’ to encourage him to flip the treat in the air and catch it.

9. WIPE YOUR FACE

Make it look as though your dog is cleaning his face by gently sticking a Post-it note to the top of his muzzle. Most dogs will bring a paw up to wipe the annoying piece of paper off. When he does, praise and reward him and repeat, using another Post-it if he’s dislodged the first one. Once he’s consistently bringing his paw up to wipe his face, attach a cue word, and keep practicing until he’s made the association and you can do away with the Post-its. Don’t use anything stickier than a Post-it note as it will stick too firmly to his fur and will hurt him when he tries to remove it.

10. SHAKE HANDS

Start by having your dog sit. Say, “Shake hands,” and take his paw with your hand. Hold his paw and say, “Good dog!” Let go of his paw. Do this a few times every day.After a while, say, “Shake hands,” but don’t take his paw. See if he raises his paw by himself. If not, keep showing him what to do by saying, “Shake hands,” and taking his paw with your hand. Your dog is not slow; he is just learning!

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I have always been amazed at how after a night of sleep I wake up to start my day and our dog is staring at me blankly, not knowing what to do with himself, and just waiting for me to crate him. Sometimes he actually goes into the crate on his own. From there is snoozes for a couple of extra hours. How could he be so tired at 7:00 in the morning after a nights rest? My first theory was that he must be awake at night patrolling the house because that is something he does during the daytime as well, but after some research I realized that it is a normal behavior for dogs to sleep so much. 

It is normal for dogs to spend a good part of their life sleeping because that’s how they’re genetically designed. The time to worry is when your dog isn’t sleeping as much as he used to. Changes in sleeping patterns can indicate a problem such as a health issue or stress.

NORMAL SLEEPING PATTERNS

All dogs sleep a lot, some more than others. In fact, depending on the breed, your dog might sleep up to 18 hours a day. According to Pet Place, larger breeds sleep more. On average, a dog sleeps about 12 hours or so. Dogs don’t sleep the way we do. Instead, they take a lot of short naps. This helps them recharge their energy quickly, so they can be ready to get up and go again.

NIGHT SLEEPING

Wild dogs tend to be very active at night, often hunting in the darkness. Domestic dogs have adapted to their humans’ schedules, though, and they might snooze the night away as long as they have a comfortable place for it, complete with a comfy bed and also a room at an appropriate temperature.

REM SLEEP

Just like humans, dogs experience REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycles. These are the deepest sleep cycles, necessary for the brain to process information. Since dogs sleep for short periods only, they need to sleep often in order to get enough REM sleep and be able to keep their brains in top working condition. While it takes humans 90 minutes to reach REM, dogs will reach REM in about 15 minutes, according to Perfect Puppy Care. This means they can wake and go back to sleep and be back in that vital REM sleep quickly. If you’ve ever seen your dog making weird sleeping noises or kicking his legs, you’ve seen REM sleep.

EXCESSIVE SLEEPING

While tons of napping is common, your dog should not be asleep all the time. In between naps, he should be active and moving around. If you think Doggie is sleeping too much, he might be suffering from depression or a medical condition and need to take a visit to the vet. Some medications also cause sleepiness. Old dogs also sleep more, as do newborn puppies.

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Yesterday we looked at many different reasons why a house-trained adult dog would suddenly begin urinating in the house. If you have ruled out any medical conditions then consider that your dog may be “marking his territory.” It is well known that dogs are territorial animals. They let other animals know what areas belong to them by urinating in a certain spot.

Your dog may be urine-marking if the issue is mostly urination. Dogs rarely mark with feces. Markings are a small amount of urine found principally on walls, cabinets and other vertical surfaces for male leg lifters. Even if your dog is a squatter not a lifter, she may still be marking with urine. Non-spayed or non-neutered intact dogs are more likely to mark their territory, however, even spayed or neutered dogs will mark if there are other intact pets in the house. One clear sign is when your dog urinates on things that are newly introduced to the house (a new piece of furniture, your friend’s purse, or new baby’s belongings); on things that have unusual odors, or on things that smell of another dog or cat. Another common scenario is when your dog is clashing with another dog or cat in the house. When a “pack” is not getting along, your dog may urinate in an attempt to establish dominance over the others

In order to reduce the odds of your dog urine marking in the home, spay or neuter him as soon as your vet recommends. Spaying or neutering could stop marking completely, but, if your dog has urine-marked for quite awhile prior to spaying or neutering, the behavior may continue. Also, take care of fights or dominance issues between your dogs. Having a healthy pack structure in your home where you are the pack leader is essential to eliminate dog behavior issues including. If your dogs marking is triggered by dogs being walked by your house or other animals, try to limit your dog’s ability to see these outside animals from inside your house. If you can’t keep your dog from the windows or doors, try to control the presence of other animals outside the house. There are sprays and plants that can help.

When urine-marking occurs, clean the area immediately. Clean with a stain and odor remover made for especially for pet stains to discourage the dog from returning to this spot. In areas where your dog has urinated try to keep him from it or take away the attraction. For example, if he has urine-marked a house plant, move the plant to another spot he can’t get to. If you can’t do this, try to change the meaning of those spots to your pet. If you feed or play with your dog in those spots, he will be less likely to remark there. Try to keep things that could encourage your dog to mark out of reach. Items such as visitors’ possessions and new things should be placed in a closet or cabinet for a while.

If your pet is urine-marking in reaction to an addition to your household (i.e., a new roommate, spouse, new baby, etc.), have that person and your dog get to know each other. Have them feed and play with your dog. With a new baby, give him lots of positive reinforcement, treats, and toys when the baby is around. If your dog urinates on your new baby’s stuffed toy, it isn’t from spite or jealousy. The unusual odors and noises of a new baby in the house are driving him to remark his territory and the new things in it. Be patient and help your dog to learn that the new arrival can be a bundle of joy for him as well.

Learn the signs that indicate your dog is about to urinate and watch for them when he is inside. If he starts, stop him by clapping or making other loud noises and bring him out to the yard. If he goes, praise him and give him a treat. If you find yourself in situations where you can’t keep an eye on him, put him in the crate, or place him in a small room where he hasn’t urine-marked. Another option is to put him on his leash and hook the leash to you to provide consistent accountability.

Make your dog work for his treats and rewards. This is a safe, non-challenging way to show you are the leader. It works on the premise that your dog must work for what he wants. Teach him basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, or down. Have him perform one of these commands before routine things like feeding or walks. Making it known to your dog that you are the leader will help to establish the hierarchy and reduce his need to urine-mark.

As tempting as it is, do not seek to punish your pooch for urine marking. After he has done his deed, he will not be able to make the connection that the behavior was what warranted it and you will create a dog who is fearful of his handler. While urine marking is often associated with dominance issues, anxiety can also be an option. An anxious dog may be stressed further by the sight and smells of other animals. If your dog is feeling overly stressed, think about talking to your vet about medications that may help while you work on his behavior through training.

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If your normally well behaved dog is having “accidents” in the house, take note. From having a medical condition to marking his territory, there are many legitimate reasons why your dog might urinate in the house. The key is being able to determine what your dog is trying to communicate to you. Here is a list of common reasons why dogs urinate in the house:

1. Changes in the family A child leaving for college, a birth or death, or a divorce can cause distress in many dogs.

2. Home renovations Remodeling the house, especially with workmen coming and going, can lead to house-training problems. Even a new carpet with different smells can cause some dogs to leave their scent by urinating on it.

3. Deviations in the daily household routine Dogs feel secure when the family sticks to the daily schedule. If the dog is used to relieving himself at specific times during the day and his schedule is changed, he might have a hard time coping with it. When possible, make changes slowly so the dog can adjust.

4. Feeling stressed or overly excited Some dogs will leak small amounts of urine when overly excited, fearful, or stressed — it’s called submissive urination. Although more common in puppies, some adult dogs will also do this. It’s most often seen when a person is greeting the puppy or dog.

5. Hormone induced incontinence Spayed, middle-aged or senior female dogs might become incontinent due to a lack of estrogen. Estrogen helps maintain muscle tone of the urethral sphincter.

6. Age-related diseases Kidney disease, cognitive dysfunction syndrome and other conditions affecting senior and geriatric dogs can cause them to urinate more frequently or become incontinent.

7. Other health problems Infections, tumors, spinal cord injuries, kidney disease and problems with the bladder can cause incontinence in dogs of any age and can lead to house-training accidents. Diseases that cause increased drinking may result in increased urination and accidents.

8. Side effects of medications Some drugs can cause the dog to relieve himself more often and trigger house-training accidents. Talk to your veterinarian about any possible side effects related to the medicine.

9. Something new in the environment Some dogs urine mark when they encounter nonresident dogs in their environments or smell urine left in their environments by other dogs. A dog’s environment may encompass his home, his yard, the route he usually takes when on walks, friends’ homes he regularly visits, and parks or other locations he frequents.

10. Social triggers Exciting social situations can trigger urine marking. Some male dogs only urine mark when in the presence of female dogs (especially if they’re in heat), and some urine mark only when interacting with other male dogs. Some dogs only urine mark when visiting homes where other dogs have urine marked before. Other dogs only urine mark when they become highly aroused and overstimulated in social situations. These dogs often mark nearby objects, people or other dogs.

11.  Anxiety Some dogs urine mark when they experience anxiety. Anxious dogs might deposit greater amounts of urine than dogs marking for other reasons. They might also urine mark on spots that aren’t vertical surfaces. A number of events can cause anxiety and trigger urine marking, including the presence of new objects, furniture or luggage in a dog’s environment, the departure of a resident from a dog’s home, a new person moving into the home, and conflict between a dog and people or other animals in the home.

Once you’ve gathered specific details, it’s time to consult your veterinarian and have your dog given a thorough physical exam. If medical reasons have been ruled out, work with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to identify the cause so that you can help correct the behavior.

Finally, whatever you do, don’t punish your dog out of frustration. Don’t yell, spank or rub your dog’s nose in the mess. This will not help the situation and may cause the dog to urinate behind the sofa or other hidden places.

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