The Danger in Dog Shaming

Dog shaming has become a part of our online culture, and sure, why not. Dogs do some downright shady, shameful things. Snacking in the cat box, chewing up valuables, rolling in nastiness. Some dogs haven’t received the memo that part of domestication means not chewing up mom’s undies or peeing down a forced air duct.

So when we come home and find that our dog has done some shameful thing, we react. Because we’re humans, not dogs, and it doesn’t make sense to us why they chewed up the remote control. And, after a time or two seeing our reactions, most dogs start to have their own reciprocal reactions. (I say “most” because my “sweet, but dumb” Rottie girl would gladly lie down next to the evidence and wait for you to catch her with the smoking gun.) But, your average dog will hide or approach you with their head down if they’ve been caught being naughty.

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Guest Post: Behavior Problems Require Behavior Counseling, Not Training

We live in a fast paced, do-it-now, society and our pets live there right with us. We are stressed out, running around, trying to meet deadlines, both at work and in our lives. Our animals sense our stress. They are so in-tune with us. Think about it, we are their world, so anything that stresses us out, stresses them out. No wonder we see more behavior problems in our pets than ever before. Throw in the indiscriminate breeding practices that are rampant in our country and you can get some pretty messed up pets.

Behavior ProblemsOur society is also one in which we want the quick and easy fix for our pet’s behavior problems but, alas, there is no panacea. It often takes a combination of behavior counseling and drugs, just like in people. Notice I did not say behavior training, because training is NOT behavior counseling. This is a problem I see often. This is a very important point. No shock or pronged collars have ever cured a behavioral issue. They often make things worse and I have seen it happen way too many times. Trainers do a fantastic job at training your dog in obedience and manners. Thank god we have them, but behavior counseling is a whole different beast.

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Podcast: Addressing Problem Behaviors by Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Today’s podcast issue is well, just that...behavioral issues. We’re looking at behavioral modification from both the medical and training angles.

Some of the common concerns Dr. Patrick Mahaney and I tackle are:

  1. Separation anxiety: Separation anxiety is frustrating and there's often no easy fix. What really works? What are the current medication recommendations when training and other behavioral methods don't work. Are there really more anxious pets or are pet anxiety issues just more often diagnosed than they were 10 years ago?
  2. Litterbox issues: With inappropriate urination and defecation being the leading causes of cats being surrendered to shelters, any special tips or tricks you can recommend to owners struggling with litterbox problems?
  3. Canine inappropriate behaviors: What trends are you finding helpful in the management or correction of inappropriate canine behaviors like excessive barking, chewing, digging, scratching, etc?
  4. Finding a trainer: Do you have any "must-have" recommendations for pet parents that are looking for a trainer or behaviorist? What sorts of professionals do you recommend and who should we avoid? (link mentioned: American College of Veterinary Behaviorists)


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August is Solving Problem Behavior Month

It wasn’t until we started talking about the idea of “problem behaviors” here in the office that I realized I’ve chalked a lot of my dog Kayden’s behavior issues up to personality quirks. From fear-motivated barking to submissive urination, I’d just shrugged these issues off as “eh, could be worse. Not worth worrying about.”

Kayden Problem Dog BehaviorA “wanted” poster was made by a fellow Embracer after Kayden peed on our office yoga instructor. That’s the definition of embarrassing behavior.

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Podcast: Considering Pet Safety by Dr Patrick Mahaney

Today’s podcast topic is pet safety, which can cover a multitude of areas. Safety in the home, safety interacting with other people and dogs, safety in different environments.

The questions Dr Patrick Mahaney and I tackle are:

  1. Recently a friend told me that it was OK to leave his dog in the car if it was in the shade with the windows down a crack. Can you give us some facts on internal/external temperatures of a car so show that’s just not going to help
  2. Can you talk about the Yellow Dog Project? It’s big out in Colorado
  3. Any suggestions on important first aid type items to keep on hand for your pets? [link mentioned] Can you do the Heimlich Maneuver on your dog?
  4. Where’s an official place to get alerted about pet food recalls? Often the press releases are put out late Friday afternoon and I might miss an important one (fda site) [link mentioned]
  5. I have big dogs so don’t crate them in the car. What do you suggest for car safety while traveling? [link mentioned]

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January is Pet Training Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

Just as understanding how you can maximize your pet's health is part of pet parenting, so is maximizing the quality time you spend together. Training isn't just for tricks; training also:

  • strengthens the bond between you and your dog or cat
  • integrates your pet seamlessly into your family life and the outside world
  • improves the effectiveness of your communication with your pet
  • lets you give your pet more freedom and fewer restrictions
  • and reduces stress and increases happiness of having a pet in the household

Friend of Embrace, Liz Palika, talks about why you should train your dog in her article No Training? Why Not? Rules are important for your dog's social well-being, as well as your own, plus he/she is safer if she's not dashing up the road every time you open your door. And training can be fun - it's not boot camp for either party.

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July is hot topics and summer pet dangers month at Embrace Pet Insurance

Bailey the patriotic goldendoodleIt's that time of year again with fireworks, loud noises, bee stings, heat strokes, water dangers, snake bites - whoever thought summer was fun!

Well, of course it is fun but certainly for your pets, a certain amount of awareness of simple safety strategies keeps everyone safe and healthy.

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Guest Post: dealing with anxiety and stress in dogs

Dr Riggs discusses something we all face in our lives - stress. As we continue on our discussion of behavioral issues in cats and dogs, Dr Riggs talks about some solutions to the issues you might be facing.

Anxiety is a part of modern life.  We all have stress, or at least perceived stress, in our daily existence.  We work long hours, often not eating right, don’t get enough exercise and sleep poorly.  Many of us ooze stress.  Dogs are very perceptive of our moods.  They are often a mirror of our feelings.  Dogs can feel our moods.  I have worked for years with Canine Companion for Independence service dogs, and I am amazed of how perceptive and intuitive the dogs can be.  They actually anticipate their owner’s needs.  One of these dogs lives in our local hospice, and I can’t tell you the number of times that dog goes to the person and family dealing with the imminent passing.  Dogs feel our pain.  So it is not hard to see why we are seeing more anxiety issues in our pets.

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June is Pet Behavior Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

OK, confession time.

A few months ago, I found myself pulling my hair out over my nine year old daughter's behavior. What really bothered me was that it was so illogical, starting with crying at the least significant thing, then escalating into full blown door slamming, and drama for the whole family.

While I know she is growing up and this sort of behavior is normal, I realized that it was me that was part of the problem. My behavior and my reaction to the initial trigger were causing the whole thing to escalate. But I couldn't seem to help it! Thank goodness for good parenting books is all I can say.

I only tell that story because I don't have a dog to tell behavior stories about - but I'm sure it would be the same. As owners and pet parents, we are responsible for our charges' behavior and we certainly don't want to accidentally enable the behavior we are trying to stop or at least curtail down to a soft landing.

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Guest Post: All About Cats with Dr Patrick Mahaney

This month we’re all about cats at Embrace so we have some intriguing questions from Embrace facebook friends on the topic.

Cat issues are also very interesting for Dr Patrick as he can sometimes be seen treating cats on the Animal Planet show “My Cat From Hell”, now going into its fourth season.

So let's launch into it. In the podcast below, you will hear the answers to the following questions: 

Monica B: My 12 year old cat pulls his fur out periodically. It is usually when he is very hungry. He has "hot spots" along his spine that I massage on a daily basis and this is where he pulls. Is there anything else I can do to alleviate these hot spots?

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