Chewing, Bite Inhibition, and Play-Biting

We have a guest blog post from one of our trainers, Devan Amundsen, who is writing about life with his new puppy! Check out ‘The Pup Blog!’

Well Wade is out cold! He naps so much, it’s almost easy to forget he’s in my life now!

But, when he isn’t napping, he’s biting.

He chews on absolutely everything.

So how do you manage it?

Obviously, it’s an extremely normal puppy behavior. Their teeth are growing, their gums hurt, and chewing is a fantastic way to pass the time!

Great. Just don’t chew on my shoes… Or the carpet… Spit out that rock! DON’T EAT THAT!!

Photo 2013-05-30 12.22.35 PMSo far, I’ve coated all power chords he can get to with some bitter “yuck” spray. It tastes incredibly bitter, and Wade hates it. You can even just use white vinegar diluted with water.

This stuff works great. Every time I catch him chewing on something that I can’t move out of his reach, I just spray some of this on there.

Corners of rugs, edges of furniture, power cords, baseboards, everything and anything my pup can chew on that I don’t want him to has a small amount of this on there.

So far, it’s working really well. He learned immediately that power cords taste disgusting, and why would he want to chew on something disgusting?t

But it’s mean and non-sensical to just walk around and tell him what he can’t chew on.

That’s where this little group of indispensable items comes in handy.

Photo 2013-05-30 12.22.27 PMI’ve been using these constantly with Wade.

Every time I catch him chewing on something, I take it away from him, say “no,” (Calmly and neutrally,) and hand him one of these things to occupy his time.

He immediately forgets all about what he was doing, and happily gnaws away at something good for him!

The rope is great for his teeth, massaging his gums and providing something soft, but firm to chew on.

The bully sticks are STINKY! They smell awful! But he loves them. C’est la vie. My only warning with these is not to leave him unattended for too long with one. Wade did chew on one for basically a whole day, and it turned into a soggy mess that he ended up half-swallowing. Thankfully, I was there to take it from him.

That’s another thing. Take things from your puppy. A lot. Take it, praise him, maybe give him a treat, and then give it back. That way, your puppy knows, “Whenever someone takes something from me, it’s okay! I get a treat and I get it back eventually anyway!”  Possessive issues solved.

I almost forgot about my favorite toy of all… The Kong. Wade absolutely loves his Kong. I have two, and I have one stuffed at all times. I stuff it almost entirely with food, but layer it with Kong stuffing so it stays interesting and challenging all the way through. Wade LOVES IT! He gets all of his meals through a Kong or hand-fed to him.

I almost forgot… Play-biting.

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This picture was probably counter-productive, because it took 2 straight minutes of him biting my hands before I could get an acceptable picture… But he looks VICIOUS!

Wade is being such a little butt-head about biting! He likes to nip at fingers, clothes, and even faces when he’s playing! AHHH!!

This is normal puppy behavior as well, and as much as I’d like to teach him never to bite anyone ever, it’s too early for that.

Why?

Let’s say you taught your puppy to never bite anyone ever. Extremely reasonable, and your puppy should be doing that soon.

But not yet.

First, we need to teach him bite inhibition. Teach him that his mouth is a tool he can use sometimes, especially when playing with other dogs, but that he needs to be GENTLE! We’re teaching a “soft-mouth.” That way, one day when a small child scares the heck outta your dog by running up and jumping on him, the dog won’t turn around and bite with all of the immense power possible.

Basically, bite inhibition keeps a dog from doing actual damage if there was ever a need to use his/her mouth.

Teaching bite inhibition:

  1. Play with your pup. Be rough.
  2. When the pup uses any bite force whatsoever, yelp and pull your hand away.
  3. If your pup bites you three times in a row, stop the play session immediately, but calmly. Call him/her a bully, and walk away.
  4. Your puppy is going to be like, “What!? I was playing with thaaaaat!”
  5. When you come back into the room, make your pup sit calmly before initiating another play session.

It’s that easy.

Once your pup has a nice soft mouth, (about the time he gets his grown-up teeth,) We can teach him that with these new grown-up teeth, he is not allowed to bite. Ever.

Teaching Not to Bite:

  1. Any time your pup puts teeth on you, yelp, and walk away.

That’s it. End of story. Biting is restricted exclusively to toys… And maybe other dogs…

A fantastic way to reinforce bite lessons is to just let your puppy play with other puppies! There’s options everywhere, just search around. What you’re looking for is for your puppy to get some experience playing with other puppies. Other puppies instinctively know what’s appropriate, and what isn’t.

Your puppy should be playing with other puppies as SOON AS POSSIBLE!

So there you have it. Your quick guide to chewing, bite inhibition, and play biting.

Fit ‘N’ Furry’s Paw-by-Paw Guide: How to Paint Paw-Print Nails!

We all love our furry friends, and we all show it in different ways; some more prominently than others! If you are one of those that prefers to display your love of the four-legged variety (like we are!), then read ahead on how to paint some puppy or kitty paw prints on your nails.

Supplies:

  • Clear base & top coat polish
  • 2 or 3 colored nail polishes (it is best to use a lighter color on the base, and darker color for the paw prints)
  • Nail kit including: nail trimmers, emery board, & cuticle nipper (if desired)
  • Nail polish remover
  • Q-tips
  • Manicure stick, nail art brush, nail art dotter, or toothpick
  • Tinfoil

Instructions:

Gather all of your supplies and choose your desired nail polish colors. As noted above, the paw prints will show better if you select a lighter color for the bottom coat and a darker color for the paw prints, but choose whatever fits your mood at the time and play around with it!

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Start by prepping your nails; remove any previous polish, trim and file nails, soak if wanted and trim cuticles. I decided to paint my toenails since this was my first time trying this out and wanted to make sure I had my dominant hand to do the art with! For you more adventurous or steady-handed types, you can obviously apply all these same techniques to your hands.

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Once clean and pretty, apply clear base coat to all nails.

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Paint nails your chosen color for the background. I would recommend doing 2 coats, especially, if like me, you chose a super light nude color. I also went with a design for the background on my toes, just to try out my nail-art-applying skills. These, as you can see, are not really up to par just yet.

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 I used a piece of tinfoil as my palate. Just place a couple drops of the nail polish you will be using for the paw prints on this and use a toothpick, wooden stick, or more professional nail art device to apply.

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 Start with the the largest part of the paw first – the pad. Paint one larger circle in your chosen color for the paws.

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Next, I painted 3 smaller circles arching around the top of the ‘pad’ circle. Technically dogs (and most cats) have 4 toes, but I went with 3 for simplicity’s sake.

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Paint remaining paw prints on other nails and, Voila! You have pet-inspired, and oh-so-cute, paw print nails to show off to all your two-legged friends!

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See? Not too difficult at all! Switch up the designs to what suits you; multiple tiny paws, one on each nail, etc. Nail art can also be done on the tolerant dog, and could look something like this: Image

 Happy painting!

Fit’n’Furry Investigates: What Pet is Right for My Child?

“Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaassssse?! He’s so cute! I promise I’ll look after him! I’ll do everything for him. He’ll be mine! You won’t have to do a thing! Please can we get him, Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaassssse?!”  A familiar sound at shelters, pet stores and adoption events, a child’s plea for a pet is cute (unless it’s a shrill cry) but as a parent you may be wondering – when is the right age for your young one to take care of an animal. What pet is right for him? Is he an appropriate age? Is he responsible enough? How much of the work am I going to end up with? Each child and family is different, but here are some guidelines to keep in mind before taking your little bi-ped to adopt a new quadruped family member. 200155493-001

The ASPCA recommends different animals for different ages for first time little pet owners. Between the ages of three and five, your child is learning about contact and empathy. ASPCA experts recommend a guinea pig for a pet. “Guinea pigs like to be held, seldom bite and will whistle when excited or happy, to the delight of most kids. Your child can also help with responsibilities by filling the water bottle and food dish.” Of course, mom or dad will need to supervise playtime and make sure that the cage is washed properly.

goldfishinbowlFor five to ten year olds, small pets such as gerbils, rats, hamsters and fish are recommended for learning proper care and pet hygiene. This keeps the parent’s involvement (aka: work) to a minimum.  Children at this age tend to have a short attention span. Keep watch that your child is giving clean water and is feeding the appropriate amount of food. They can help with chores such as cleaning the cage, washing the toys and measuring the food. These steps are vital before adopting larger pets that require more dedication. During this time of learning, your child is gaining confidence and a sense of responsibility which will bring them to the next step, if wanted.

Tweens are generally known to teens_walking_dog_in_parkhave the greatest interest in owning a dog or cat. They are mature enough to clean the litter box, and keep them watered and fed properly. For walking, they should not do so independently until they are typically over the age of 15. This is because kids under this age may not know how or be physically able to handle dangerous situations that may arise,  such as unleashed dogs. Kids of this age group can also attend training classes for Pooch; a wonderful learning opportunity! This is an age of reliance but parents should still keep tabs on how the pet is doing in terms of hygiene and diet.

Once your child reaches teenage-dom, they tend to become very busy with extracurricular activities, friends, school, and more. The ASPCA mentions birds or fish for first-time-teen pet owners. Your rapidly growing and maturing “little ones” will soon find themselves going to college and leaving their nest. So, remember that any pet is a FOREVER pet and the parent may end up with Fido or Fluffy for a very long amount of time.

It is up to the parent to create and keep guidelines for their child. Sure, they may make the promises to feed, water, clean, play and care with those cute little faces at the shelter. However, the situation may turn into the parent taking all the responsibility once the child finds out that it’s not all fun and games to own a pet. A great way to build trust that your child will take care of their pet is for them to use their allowance money to purchase treats, beds and toys. GlobalAnimal.org says that immediate positive reinforcement is a perfect and productive way to praise your child for a job well done; more confidence boosting and a feeling of responsibility. An outline to read with your child can be found here. No matter what and when your child decides to take on a new pet, it is the family’s duty to make sure that the pet is well looked after; it’s just a matter of how much time and effort everyone is willing to dedicate.

Something Fishy for Fido?

ImageThere are so many wonderful benefits from taking vitamins. It strengthens our joints, makes our hair soft and smooth, and gives us additional energy. So why wouldn’t we give it to little Fido or Fluffy?

Fish Oil in particular is really a one stop shop kind of a vitamin! Constant use of Fish Oil helps with certain allergies towards our doggies itchy, dry skin by making it nice and smooth, like Fluffy just walked right out of the Groomer!

Is absolutely wonderful for strengthening of the joints for dogs diagnosed with arthritis, and even kidney disease! It may also be somewhat preventative. Well known canine published author and veterinarian, Nancy Kay, mentions that “Studies have documented that dogs suffering from heart failure who were treated with fish oil along with other standard medications showed decreased vulnerability to development of heart rhythm abnormalities, weight loss, and heart muscle damage.”Image

Natural food stores or even online pet websites all sell Fish Oil. They typically come in pill or liquid form and can usually sneak it in to your pups breakfast or dinner.

Just like starting any new vitamin or diet, please consult your veterinarian to see if the benefits of fish oil would be safe for your pooch!

We’re All Smiles at Fit’n’Furry Pet Resort!

We all see the commercials. Those perfect, well groomed canine specimens lying on the white carpet calmly nibbling on their new treats mom or dad just bought at the local store. But wait! There’s more! These yummy treats help clean teeth and prevent tartar as well as fight gum disease! Hurry to your closest pet store to grab your bag today! But are these “dental sticks” and treats really all that they’re hyped up to be? Fit’n’Furry is on the case getting down to the “root” of the question: Are these products truly an effective way to keep your pet’s teeth clean?

First of all, to help prevent tooth and gum issues, make sure you are feeding Fido an appropriate diet of dry, crunchy kibble. Soft, wet food and people snacks gets stuck along the gum line much more easily. This contributes to plaque buildup which then leads to tartar that will devastate the gum line. According to dogdentalcare.net, once the gum line has been destroyed and/or diseased, the dog can lose teeth, ensuring the need for professional dental care. Bacteria from the diseased gums can also infect organs via the pet’s bloodstream.

If you’re able to, frequent brushing of Fido’s teeth is a great way to avoid dental (as well as internal) complications. Many grooming facilities offer teeth brushing with their services if you’re not able to at home. Natural bones and even Nylabones (make sure the product is toxin-free) are easy and entertaining ways to scrub and scrape away plaque but not as effective as brushing. When giving natural bones, be mindful that Fido doesn’t snap off a piece and swallow. Natural bones can also cause tooth fracture.

So, are those wonderfully marketed “dental treats” as effective as frequent teeth brushing? No. But they still benefit Fido’s dental health!  Fit’n’Furry found on pets.webmd.com that coating treats with a substance called polyphosphate reduces tartar by 55% (Some treats claim to reduce tartar buildup by 80%!). The coating prevents plaque from turning into tartar by isolating calcium on teeth. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is an organization that evaluates pet products to see if they meet standards for reducing plaque or tartar. Only purchase treats that have been approved by the VOHC and adhere to your pet’s breed and dietary needs. For a list, please visit: www.vohc.org/accepted_products.htm .

The m-“oral” (Or perhaps, the “molar”) of the story is, don’t rely on dental treats alone for Fido’s teeth and gums’ well-being. Learn how to brush your pet’s teeth, take him to a groomer or visit a pet dentist regularly (just like we would make a dental appointment ourselves). But to keep up the good work in between appointments, these popular dental treats are delectable, amusing and are a great purchase. Don’t forget, good oral hygiene can add years to your pet’s life span!

It’s a dog’s life! Frolicking with friends at the local daycare, chasing squirrels in the back yard, sitting on laps, and eating yummy kibble everyday … life can be SO hard sometimes! With our pet’s tough schedules, there is always time for a spa day and pampering can not only be pleasing to the eye but also beneficial for a pet’s inner workings which include the not so delightful subject: anal sacs or “scent glands”.

ImageNot too many are familiar with anal sacs or how issues with them are caused. If you have found Fido lately to be doing a sort of “scooting” maneuver, licking more than usual in the hind area, or any look of discomfort while laying down, there is a chance he may be in need of a little TLC “down there”.

All animals have anal sacs. They just use them differently. Wild animals such as skunks use them as a defense mechanism, while domestic furry friends  use them more as territorial markings and a way to greet other canines.

These sacs are located within the anus of the dog and typically empty (or “express”) its potent, liquid substance whenever the dog defecates. However, it is possible for the glands to not exert enough pressure to release which could lead to discomfort and pain. If not expressed often, bacteria and other infections could form and could potentially lead to pricey veterinary visits and, worst of all, an irritated, swollen bum for little Fido.

Pet Stylists have the chance to bathe, trim, as well as examine the anal glands. Upon inspection, the groomer will squeeze the sacs to ease any tension that may have been built up over time. This prevents possible future anal gland challenges. In case of an infection or abnormality, it’s best to have a medical professional look and handle these types of ailments rather than attempting to remedy the situation yourself which could further injure your furry family member. The groomer will tell you if Fido needs to visit the veterinarian.

The importance of clean hygiene could not be  “expressed” more. Make an appointment with a recommended pet bather and/or groomer . Ask if anal gland expression is a part of their routine. Your pet can then enjoy a spa treatment that is not only aesthetically pleasing but is a major health benefit, too!

Flea & Tick Prevention For Your Pets!

They may be small enough to fit on the head of a pin, but  we all know that fleas and ticks can be the cause of major problems for both dogs and their owners. In one day, a flea can attack you cat or dog by biting them more than 400 times, consuming more than its body weight of your pets blood. And before its finished, a female flea can lay hundreds of eggs on your unsuspecting furry friend, making him the unsuspecting host of many future flea generations! As a result, itching and scratching from flea bites can lead to skin irritations, open sores and even fur loss. And let’s not forget about ticks! Tick bites aren’t just irritating; they may cause allergic reactions as well as transmit disease such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. And ticks can give the same infections to you!

Here are a few tips to help prevent flea and tick infestations on your furry friends:

  • Keep dogs on a leash when walking or hiking;
  • Comb your pet with a flea comb regularly;
  • Vacuum often and dispose of bags immediately after use;
  • Mow areas of the lawn where your dog spends time;
  • Wash pet bedding weekly and bathe your pet with a pet shampoo recommended by your veterinarian;
  • If your dog spends time in wooded areas, hand-check for ticks often;
  • Mark your calendars for regular application of flea and tick treatments;
  • Also, flea and tick collars provide long-lasting protection against fleas and ticks with no mess and no fuss!

Natural Remedies for Flea and Tick Prevention:

  • Add a teaspoon of Grapefruit Seed Oil to your pets water once a week;
  • Brewer’s yeast is also a common natural remedy for dogs with fleas. Holistic veterinarian Richard Pitcairn recommends it for that purpose. It is thought to work against fleas because it contains sulfur compounds that make your dog less palatable to fleas;
  • Add no more than 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar into a large bowl of water. Or Make a spray of 50% ACV and 50% water and spray onto your dogs coat. Make sure to avoid their eyes!
  • And Red Cedar shavings and bedding help prevent fleas and ticks as well. The aroma of Cedar oil overwhelms the breathing system of fleas and ticks and causes them to die almost immediately!

Keep in mind that regular bathing and grooming is also key for a healthy pet!