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Week-by-week: A fun filled first year with your dog

A mouthy puppy is completely normal. Puppies perceiving everything as a chew toy is a natural part of their development. It is their way of learning the world, similar to babies discovering objects by touching. You will see this behavior especially during playtime, which can include nibbling on hands, feet and clothing. Save your hands, shoes, furniture and clothing from unwanted puncture marks from the dreaded puppy mouthiness.

Tips to combat your puppy’s piranha teeth

Not every pup learns the same way but here are a few ways you can help them understand that your hands aren’t toys.

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Having trouble leaving your dog alone? Check out this post on tips to curb Separation Anxiety

Puppy mouthiness have you at your wits end? Meet with one of our trainers to guide you through this stage and beyond.

Managing Your Puppy’s Needs

The first year with your dog is a year filled with exciting firsts, as well as challenging milestones. You are probably wondering what sort of changes you will have to make to your lifestyle with a new puppy, i.e., will they need to be drastic, how much attention and training does my dog need, and where do I begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you!

a black puppy lying down with a blue ball in her mouth
Pre-Puppy planning, breeder, rescue expectations, and beyond Three Weeks Prior:

Discuss what your breeder or rescue is currently doing for the care of your puppy, set proper expectations.

Two Weeks Prior:
  • Schedule a session with a Trainer to create a schedule and start puppy-proofing your home. You should expect to go over
    • How to create a “safe zone”
    • Creating a dog’s schedule
    • Creating a consistent language for the household
  • Set up a Zoom call with New York Veterinary Practice to discuss your dog’s Annual Wellness Plan.
Day of arrival – tips for success:
Entering Your Home:
  • Take your dog to their “safe zone,” setup during your puppy-proofing. Your dog should have access to go in and out of the crate. Put kibble or a treat in the crate so there is positive association with the area.
  • Based on the schedule established with the Trainer, put down food and water (do not leave these down for more than 30 minutes). This will help your dog feel more comfortable.
  • Introduce your dog to your family and household. Do not approach all at once as this can be overwhelming. Allow your dog to come to you.
  • Tour your dog around your home, avoid areas you do not want them to go.
  • Now is a good time to begin your brief period of solitary downtime in the playpen / crate
    • Solitary downtime, or crating, should be no more than one hour per month of age
    • Avoid exceeding nine to ten hours in a day (not including sleeping periods).
    • This development is important for bladder control, preventing chewing / destructive behavior, and independence. A one hour period of aerobic exercises should follow these sessions.
Your puppy is home, has their own space, and is comfortable – what next? Check out this week-by-week guide to check in your and your puppy’s progress!
What is Matting?

Matting occurs when a dog’s hair next to the skin gets knotted, tangled in clumps masses. If un-brushed, the clump gets bigger, tighter, and closer to the body.  This can be caused by a lack of brushing, wet coats that have not been brushed out or dried properly, or a harness or collar that continually rubs against a dog’s fur. It is important your dog stays mat free as it can cause health issues like stress from licking and biting at the area, leading to general discomfort. Fleas and parasites might be hiding in their coat, which might cause sores, lesions, bruising, or discolored skin. The matted hair might also be hiding hot spots, and other skin infections. Unchecked, those areas can get bigger and spread. This could lead to the dreaded shave down.

a brown dog half way through getting a shave down

Simply put, matting is painful for your dog and brushing out established matts involves a process of pulling live hair out of the skin as healthy hair is encase in the matting. De-matting can cause increase pain and irritation, redness, and swelling.

What does it feel like to brush it out? Imagine a painful knot you’ve had to brush out of your own hair. Now imagine that you don’t understand what’s causing that pain. And to top it off, its on sensitive areas of your body like behind your ears, or in your armpits or on your chest. Yikes!

Do we need to get a shave down?

If the matting is somewhat loose and not close to the skin, it may be possible to brush through and remove some areas. This process is usually painful and stressful for most dogs. The kindest way to remove matting is the dreaded shave down, whether the matting is sparse or covers the dog. Shaving out the matting is not an easy fix! The clippers the groomers use get hot, which can cause further irritation. The matting might pull on the skin as it’s being taken off, which increases the likelihood of nicks. The best thing to do is to avoid matting in the first place, and maintain a healthy and knot free coat.

Maintain your Dog’s Coat = No Shave Down

short, manageable, & cute

Separation Anxiety Preparing Pets for Post-Quarantine Life By Erin Lovett, General Manager & Tito Rivera, Senior Behavior Counselor

According to Dr. Nick Dodman of the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts

“Separation anxiety affects nearly 20% of the approximately 80 million pet dogs in the United States. That equates to 16 million dogs who suffer from Separation Anxiety. Older dogs are more prone to the condition. It is a devastating diagnosis leaving dogs and the parents who love them in distress.”

There are various reasons why a dog develops Separation Anxiety. Environmental factors, age, anxiety levels, genetics, physical health, and poor early coping skills between the ages of 3-12 weeks may contribute to the likelihood that  dog may develop the condition. A new factor, one of which is new for many of us, is the very abrupt work from home status since March. The issues have become so prevalent that many New Yorkers are finding themselves questioning,“how did we get here?”. In May, the New York Times put together an article discussing how to prepare to leave your dog home alone, again:

Read More: How to Prepare Your Dog to Be Left at Home Alone (Again)

Common Misconceptions

It is a common misconception that a dog will chew, destroy, or defecate because they are mad at their owners. In reality, the dog is experiencing some level of stress and is looking for a way to find relief.

Warning signs may include:

  • shadowing the owner from room to room
  • door dashing through opened doors
  • over exuberant greetings upon arrival urination or defecation
  • continuously vocalizing or destroying things in the absence of its’ owner

For others with less clear and milder symptoms, the signs may go untreated and cause daily distress for the dog.

Although there are a wide variety of symptoms that a dog with Separation Anxiety may display, the symptoms themselves resemble other factors such as: boredom, lack of mental and physical stimulation, cognitive dysfunction, noise phobias, and physical pain. Seek professional help if your dog displays any of these symptoms; separation anxiety does not resolve on its own.

Solutions

In conclusion, provide your dog of any age with lots of fun things to do throughout the day. If you suspect separation anxiety, make an appointment with your vet to rule out alternative medical concerns. Then speak to your behavioral counselor to create a tailored training and management program.

Gatherings

By Michelle Aragon, Apprentice Behavior Counselor
 

In this blog we will talk about what to do with your furry friend during big family events.

The most important thing is safety. The doors will be opening and closing as you welcome in your family and friends but this is also an opportunity for your furry friend to run out the door. Pick a spot in the house that is away from the entrance, most preferably a room, and place a crate or a bed. If you do place a crate make it as comfy as possible. Put a blanket over it to make it more private for your dog. This will secure that your dog does not bolt out the door as your greet your guest.

If you do want your pets present in the festivities have them tethered so they don’t bolt out the door as it also minimizes any risk of injuries; we don’t want our happy pups tumbling people down by accident. You can also set up a baby gate to block them from reaching the opened door. We also recommend giving your pet breaks throughout the holiday gatherings. They may love to socialize but there will be a point where they just want to nap and take a break. This is where that comfort spot comes in again. You can place them in their comfort spot so they can rest and recharge.

Dogs know their family but they might get a little shy around new family or friends they have never seen. To help with introducing your dog to family or friends they have never seen have a bowl of treats in the entrance on the door. Have people grab one treat and ask for a simple sit and treat your pet. This will create a positive association with new people and will also reinforce proper greetings. No one knows your dog better than you do, so if they are noise sensitive give each guest a heads up so they can approach your puppy in a quiet and calm way.


Always know what makes your dog uncomfortable. Any sudden movements from a person can spook your pooch, kids screaming, high pitch hello’s, loud clattering, deep voices, tall people, it can be anything small or big. Giving your pet a break throughout the festivities will help them enjoy the day more. Have their first greeting with a new member a positive one and remember to have your pet in a safe, secure spot while your guest come in. Micro-chipping and having the proper identifications is always highly recommended.

We hope these tips help you during all the holidays throughout the year. Have a great holiday and a very happy new year!

 

Guide Dog Month

By Kristin Sells, Senior Behavior Counselor – CPDT-KA
 

September is international Guide Dog Month! It is only proper that we write a post in honor of these dogs and their faithful service.

Many handlers will refer to these special dogs as their eyes. I have personally had the privilege of raising five of these dogs, and I am currently raising a black Labrador Retriever for the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in Smithtown, NY.

While there are multiple organizations in the United States that provide these dogs to the visually impaired, they all are very similar in the methods used to train and prepare the dogs they breed for their very important jobs. Much research goes into the process of preparing dogs for Guide and Service dog work, with regards to both breeding and training. This article will be referencing the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind. The Guide Dog Foundation breeds and trains Guide Dogs, and provides them free of charge to people who are visually impaired. Its sister organization, America’s VetDogs, provides service dogs for Veterans and first responders. They are non-profit and rely completely on the generosity of the public.

When a dog returns to the Guide Dog Foundation for formal training, it has already been preparing for this moment the entire first year of its life. The journey of a Guide Dog puppy starts well before they are even born! Their parents are carefully chosen from breeding stock produced by the Foundation that are temperament tested as well as thoroughly health tested to ensure they are the cream of the crop. These dogs are mostly Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador/Golden Retriever crosses, and Standard Poodles. Much research has gone into the breeds of dog used for service dog work. German Shepherds are another breed used frequently. Which breeds are used entirely depends on the specific Guide Dog School.

Breeder dogs live with families, typically the family who raised them, and have great lives, only being called upon when their services are needed.  I am the proud raiser of a Golden Retriever breeder dog named Levi. He has sired two litters which produced 14 healthy and happy puppies, who will soon begin their formal training as guide dogs and service dogs.

While some Guide Dog puppies are raised and trained then used for breeding purposes, most are on the path to becoming Guide or Service dogs. But who do these dogs live with during their first year? At roughly 8 weeks of age, puppies are ready to go out to their puppy raisers. They have been introduced to many things at their young age, such as different surfaces and sounds in order to prepare them for life as a service dog. A puppy raiser is the term used for the people who open up their home and heart to raise these dogs for the first year of their lives. Dogs are usually returned for formal service dog training with a qualified instructor once they are 14-16 months old. The success rate is approximately 50%. If it is determined that a dog does not want to become a service dog and would rather be a pet, they are offered back to their puppy raiser, or placed on the school’s adoption list. Dogs are never forced to work, If you see a working Guide or Service Dog, they truly do love their job. Finding homes for a released Guide Dog puppy is never a challenge. They are extremely well behaved, housebroken, and crate trained. However, they do not come this way! Although these dogs are very well behaved and have excellent dispositions, they do not come potty trained or crate trained, and are just beginning to learn basic obedience when they reach their raiser. It is the raisers job to teach them under the helpful guidance of the Foundation’s puppy advisers, who are employed to help puppy raisers with any issues that arise during this process.

Puppy raisers socialize the dog in every situation possible, in order to ensure that the dog will be able to work with distractions when it goes in for formal training. They also carefully expose the pups to anything that may elicit fear, for example a loud subway station with multiple tracks. Raisers take their dogs to restaurants, movie theaters, malls, and on many different forms of public transportation. Some puppies even accompany the raiser to work! They are all given a “future assistance dog vest” that lets the public know that this is a special dog, with an important calling. Under NY State law, puppy raisers are not granted public access with puppies in training, but are generally allowed the right of passage because of their bright yellow “future assistance dog” vest.  They attend bi-weekly classes with other puppy raisers in their region in order to make sure the dogs are where they should be in their training and socialization process. A lot goes into preparing a future guide/service dog for “college” which many puppy raisers say when they refer to when they send their dog back to the Foundation for formal training, where they work with licensed service dog trainers who prepare them to aid a disabled individual.  It is both a sad time, and a time of celebration. Having raised five puppies in the NYC area, I can undoubtedly say that the number one question I am asked is “how do you give the dog back? I could never do that”.  My reply is always the same “Yes you could. Become a puppy raiser and you’ll see why”.

I’ve done some pretty awesome things in my life. Two time CUNY Women’s Basketball Champion at Baruch college, graduating from US Army Basic training and Army Medic school were all pretty big accomplishments for me. However, at the absolute top of my list, is seeing my Guide Dog puppy “Sarah” with her new handler. As well as my puppy “Dave” who decided the Guide Dog life was not for him, become an incredible pet and therapy dog to one of my best friends. The pride and love I have in these dogs I imagine is unfathomable to anyone that has not experienced this. We put our heart into raising these silly puppies who turn into magnificent adult dogs, who I’ve been told first hand “He saved my life. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for him”.

So, with that being said, if you do not have the time or cannot commit to raise a puppy for the Guide Dog Foundation, I will ask you to please support their mission with a donation, no matter how big or small. It would mean the world to me and you’d be helping a wonderful cause. If you are interested in raising a puppy, or making a donation, please go to www.guidedog.org or call (631) 930-9000. If you want to learn more about service dogs, please contact info@guidedog.org.

 

 

Biscuits and Bath offers training classes, private lessons, train-and-play sessions, and home phone consultations with our trainers. Ask about what is best for you and your dog!

 

Resource Guarding

By Tito Rivera, Senior Behavior Counselor – IACP
 

Hello and welcome to another blog brought to you by the Biscuits & Bath training team. Today we are going to discuss about resource guarding. We are going to talk about what it is, what may cause it and ways to help prevent it.

Resource guarding is a normal canine behavior and is often misunderstood as aggression. Resource guarding can occur with objects, people, food and small spaces (guarding a large space such as a yard is a territorial display, this is related to but not the same as a resource guarder). Resource guarding can stem from several factors including shortage of food, competition for food, having items constantly taken from them, or something the dog may see as vital to his survival (even if it isn’t, the key factor is that the dog thinks it is vital to him/her).  Dogs will also display resource guarding in two main ways, the first is a more defensive stand where the dog will only react if you come very close to the resource, the second is a more overt display of aggression. Both of these displays stem from insecurity more often than not. Now that we have identified our problem how do we correct it?

After establishing a baseline, we can think about what we’ll need for our training. We’ll need a motivation (usually kibble), the trigger object (for our purposes we’ll use a food bowl), and a leash may be helpful. You’ll want to start with your dog’s EMPTY bowl on the ground with you standing next to it. Allow your dog to come over and check things out. Once your pup looks up at you after realizing the bowl is empty you can praise him/her and put a couple of pieces of kibble in the bowl. Each time your dog eats the food and looks up at you repeat the process. You should do this over the course of a week or two, adding more food per handful each time. The goal here is that after a week or two you should be able to stand near your dog’s bowl without problem. The next step will be to repeat the empty bowl set up, however this time you will be moving past the empty bowl and reward each time your dog looks up and appears relaxed with you moving near the bowl. Always remember to place all food rewards in the bowl during this exercise.

This is a basic example of working with resource guarding and is recommended to be used with pups or dogs that are in the early stages of displaying this behavior. If your dog is exhibiting more extreme guarding behaviors such as advancing or attempting to make physical contact then consult one of the behavior counselors in our training department immediately before proceeding. Take your time with training as solid results are more important than quick results. Until next time take your time and have fun training!

Biscuits and Bath offers training classes, private lessons, train-and-play sessions, and home phone consultations with our trainers. Ask about what is best for you and your dog!

 

Frolic

Frolic – Why Kids Need Dogs

By Mary McGranahan, Biscuits & Bath Intern
Have you ever been stopped by a kid on the street while walking your dog? Has your dog ever scared a kid by jumping on them to play? Both high energy and friendly, dogs and kids are a perfect match. Here are some reasons why children should experience dogs in their life.

 

Safety

Children are going to run into dogs their whole lives, especially children who are living in New York City. It is important for them to know how to approach dogs or react when they are approached by them. If they learn to read the nonverbal cues a dog gives, they will be able to tell which dogs are safe to pet and which dogs are best left alone. They will also know how to control their actions around dogs. Sometimes excited movements and affectionate gestures, such as hugging, that are natural to a child, may frighten a dog and cause them to lash out. Children who know how to properly greet dogs will be opening their world to many happy new encounters.

Self Esteem

Dogs are great at giving unconditional love and encouragement. Children benefit from the nonjudgmental nature of a dog’s love. It boosts their self-esteem. Studies have found that children who have trouble reading or verbally communicating will talk and read to dogs. They know dogs cannot understand if they make a mistake so they feel comfortable around them. Children also gain confidence from being made responsible for the care of a dog. Even completing the smallest task, such as filling the dog’s water bowl, makes a child feel accomplished.

Leadership

 A child gains leadership skills through teaching a dog. The child has to give the dog commands. The child also learns how to say yes and no to the dog. In leading a dog, the child is gaining confidence in their ability to lead others.

Socialization

Having a dog can help a kid come out of their shell. People like to approach dogs on the street and dogs like to say hello to new people. A kid will learn how to socialize as he or she is doing the same for the dog. This is especially evident in kids with Autism, who are more likely to introduce themselves and respond to questions when they have spent time with a dog.

 

Empathy and Compassion

Children learn empathy and compassion through interacting with animals. Dogs are reliant on the help of humans to meet their needs. Through feeding, bathing, and walking a dog a child is learning to take care of others. In return for their care the dog gives them love and companionship. This teaches them that, not only is caring for others right, it is also rewarding.

Happiness

The simple fact is, dogs make kids happy! When a kid interacts with a dog their brain releases serotonin and dopamine, both chemicals that make you happy. Blood pressure drops as well. When a child plays with a dog they are getting exercise and all the good endorphins that come from it. Dogs are therapeutic for kids who have PTSD, OCD, anxiety, fears, and developmental delays. They are used in hospitals and on college campuses to help students deal with grief and anxiety.

Children who have spent time around dogs will feel safe and be more empathetic, confident, and happy. To learn more about how you can give your child and their friends great experiences with dogs check out frolickids.com, email us at info@frolickids.com, or call 212-401-3015.

Unleash your inner dog!

Separation Anxiety

By Tricia Del Sorbo, Senior Behavior Counselor – CPDT-KA
 

“Hi my name is Rocky. I love long walks and playtime with my friends at Biscuits & Bath. Most of all, I love my mom. In the morning, I wake her up by licking her feet. Then she gives me my breakfast and we go for a walk. I love walks! When we come back inside she takes a shower. I don’t like this because she closes the door and I can’t see her. Then she puts her makeup on.  I really do not like when she puts her makeup on because after she puts her makeup on, she goes outside alone. When she goes outside alone, then I’m left all alone.  I don’t know if she’s forgotten me or if she’s gone forever. I yell for her to come back but she does not hear me. My heart starts to race, I pace and shake but she still does not come back.  I panic so I chew on the couch. Sometimes I even wet myself because I am so worried. I hate it when I cannot see her. My effort pays off though. After 8 hours of yelling for her she comes back.” -Rocky

“Hi my name is Jennifer. My dog Rocky has been destroying my home and peeing out of spite. He barks so much my neighbors are complaining. I am at risk of being evicted from my apartment. He is an angel when I am with him. I do not know what to do.” -Jennifer

According to Dr. Nick Dodman of the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, separation anxiety affects nearly 20% of the approximately 80 million pet dogs in the United States. That equates to 16 million dogs who suffer from Separation Anxiety. Older dogs are much more prone to the condition. It is a devastating diagnosis leaving dogs and the parents who love them in distress.

There are various reasons why a dog develops Separation Anxiety. Environmental factors, age, anxiety levels, genetics, physical health and poor early coping skills between the age of 3-12 weeks may contribute to the likelihood that a dog may develop the condition. Sometimes separation anxiety may develop in the same way as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in which a single scary experience causes a lifetime of stress. For dogs who have been moved around from household to household or from family to family may develop attachment issues and panic when left alone.

Separation Anxiety is a medical condition that should be diagnosed by your vet in close communication with your behavior counselor. Often, dogs with separation anxiety will require both medication and training. Some dogs may experience psychogenic anorexia, which makes them so nervous that they refuse to eat in the absence of their owner. Other dogs may be so anxious that they injure themselves in panic or even self-mutilate by chewing their paws, legs, rump or tail.

It is a common misconception that a dog will chew, destroy, or defecate because they are mad at their owners. In reality, the dog is experiencing some level of stress and is looking for a way to find relief.  Luckily, we now have the technology to help us in these situations. If you suspect your dog may be anxious when they are home alone, set up a camera to monitor their behavior. Symptoms of Separation Anxiety vary from dog to dog. Warning signs may include shadowing the owner from room to room, door dashing through opened doors, hyper-arousal and over exuberant greetings upon arrival. For some people, the signs of Separation Anxiety are clear. The dog may try to escape, self-mutilate, urinate or defecate, continuously vocalize or destroy things in the absence of its owner. For others, the signs may not be as clear and milder symptoms may go untreated and cause daily distress for the dog.

Although there is a wide variety of symptoms that a dog with Separation Anxiety may display, the symptoms themselves resemble other factors. Boredom, lack of mental and physical stimulation, cognitive dysfunction, noise phobias and physical pain can also manifest in ways that may seem similar to Separation Anxiety. Seek professional help if your dog displays any of these symptoms.

According to Malena DeMartini, the leader in setting the road map for treating separation anxiety says: “An SA dog’s body is flooded with stress-inducing chemicals each time he’s left alone. The experience of daily panic and fear begins to make him hyper vigilant, constantly watching his owner for signs she may be leaving.”  “This constant state of mild stress punctuated by the panic brought on by actual absences contributes to a devastating cycle of stress chemical production that makes it impossible for a dog to learn to feel safe while alone without training intervention.”

Separation Anxiety does not resolve on its own. Early prevention is key. Start alone training as soon as you get your puppy. Keep them in a safe place and create a routine of leaving them alone for at least 30 minutes a day, not to exceed 4 hours. Play calming music for your pup while you are away to break the sound of silence. Through A Dog’s Ear is a composition of music aimed at calming your dog’s brain. Keep your comings and goings low key. In some cases, the dog starts by looking forward to the explosion of attention and endorphin when you return. The anticipation of your arrival may cause anxiety when the anticipation is prolonged for too long. There is no need to say goodbye when you leave. In fact, for a dog that is anxious when you leave, it may become a signal to the dog that they are about to experience a lot of stress. Some dogs may display aggressive behaviors simply upon hearing the word “goodbye”.  When you return, ignore your dog for a few minutes until they are calm.

In conclusion, provide your dog of any age with lots of fun things to do throughout the day and if you suspect separation anxiety, make an appointment with your vet to rule out alternative medical concerns then speak to your behavioral counselor to create a tailored training and management program.

Biscuits and Bath offers training classes, private lessons, train-and-play sessions, and home phone consultations with our trainers. Ask about what is best for you and your dog!

 

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