Tennis balls are the quintessential modern dog toy.
This is because, while they are undeniably one of the most beloved dog toys out there, tennis balls can pose health risks for dogs.
Dogs with powerful jaws can easily break tennis balls in their mouths. This can lead to serious choking hazards. Sometimes, one-half of the tennis ball can get lodged in the back of their throats, blocking the airway.
The ball itself is not the only choking risk. Some dogs enjoy shredding the yellow-green fuzz that surrounds the tennis ball. Eating this fuzz can lead to choking hazards and intestinal blockages that could require surgery.
Tennis balls pose another risk: dental wear and tear.
That green fuzz might seem soft, but tennis balls are designed to withstand tennis courts and rackets. Dr. Thomas Chamberlain, a board-certified veterinary dental specialist, warns that the fuzz is actually quite abrasive, and accumulated dirt and sand increases the abrasive quality of the ball. As your dog chomps on a tennis ball, the fuzz acts like sandpaper, gradually wearing down the teeth in a process called “blunting.” This can eventually lead to dental problems such as exposed tooth pulp and difficulty chewing.
All in all, tennis balls can be a fun part of your daily routine, as long as you are aware of the potential risks and take the necessary steps to prevent accidents.
A rubber ball, especially one designed for powerful chewers, makes an excellent substitute, without some of the risks.
*AKC credit for this article

The wagging of a tail is the most recognised dog communication to humans. But we often misinterpret it. A wag can mean happiness, of course, but a tail wag can also signal other moods.

Dogs will wag their tail to convey a range of emotions: happiness, nervousness, feeling threatened, anxiety, submission and excitement. It’s thought that when a dog is relaxed, its tail will sit in a resting position. This position will vary depending on the breed of dog.

The wag of a tail is instinctive in dogs; it’s used as part of their varied communication with one another and with humans.

Essentially, the higher the tail, the more assertive the dog. Dogs with their tails pointing down to the ground or even tucked between their legs are feeling fear and stress. Dogs with their tails held up like a flag are feeling confident, perhaps even aggressive.

There are three sources of information coming from the tail: the tail’s pattern of movement, the tail’s position, and which side the tail wags more towards, the right or left in relation to the dog’s body.

The tail acts as an emotional meter, so it is necessary to look at these three sources of information when trying to figure out whether your dog is happy or nervous.

The subject is a lot more complex and there are ALWAYS many other signs you should consider to identify if your dog is happy or not.

One thing to remember however is that

The majority of people I come across have some idea of how to teach a dog to do something- most commonly, SIT. But how reliable is that SIT?
Applying the principle of the 4 D’s in your training plan will help you solidify all your cues and get a response from your dog when you need it most.
DURATION – Duration refers to how long your dog will continue to do a task without interruption. If I am standing having a chat or just waiting to cross the road, I want my dog to hold the sit position until I release them.
DISTANCE There are two parts to increasing distance. One is how far away you can be from the dog and still get them to sit. The other part is to have the dog sit and remain sitting whilst you move away from them.
DISTRACTIONS – Distractions, or what behaviourists call competing motivators, are all those things in life that will compete with you for your dog’s attention. Fun things, scary things, smelly things…life is full of distractions. In the dog training world, it is best to teach anything new with no distractions and gradually add distractions to make any exercise more challenging. Bouncing a ball or just asking someone to walk past a dog in ‘sit-stay’ is a form of adding a distraction. Behaviourists and trainers will often use the term “proofing” to describe distraction training. Proofing is generally the biggest element of training that is skipped, meaning that when you need your cues to work most, they are likely to let you down.
DIFFICULTY – Anything that can be taught can be made tougher. If you teach the dog to sit on the kitchen floor, they may not know how to sit on grass, the patio or the carpet or even in a different room. These may seem like very small changes but some of these may seem ‘huge’ to your dog. Work towards getting the dog to sit in different rooms, on different surfaces, in the car or by the roadside. Every time you teach them to sit in a more difficult way, you are increasing their understanding of the cue.
Start by gradually adding one D into your training at a time.  Remember that when increasing one “D” it’s important to decrease the others, so that you and your dog can have fun learning and find success! If your dog can’t be successful, go back and make the training easier. Endeavour to lower the other D’s when adding or increasing the D you’re focusing on. So, if you have effectively performed a 5 minute sit/stay in the kitchen and want to progress this to the garden, work on a 10 second sit, reward this then build it up to the 5 minutes. Once successful with it, you can add in a small distraction.
All Work in Unison
Each time you handle your dog and ask them to perform an exercise, action, or command, you must first stop and ask your self these questions:
  1. What distractions are around?
  2. What is the distance between me and the dog and/or the dog and a distraction?
  3. What duration am I expecting from the dog?
  4. What will be the overall degree of difficulty for this exercise, command, or action? In other words, how hard will this be for my dog to complete successfully?
It may be helpful to keep a log of each of these questions for every command and exercise that you practise with your dog when you first begin teaching a new command or exercise. It will help you keep track of what’s been done, what needs more work, and when your dog is ready for the challenge factor to be increased.
Enjoy your training!
While many dogs enjoy the opportunity to play with dogs they know, most adult dogs don’t enjoy social interactions with every single dog they see. Unfortunately, social media and dog park culture stereotypes suggest that all dogs should be friends with one another. This leads to owners allowing — or even pushing — their dogs to interact (often rudely) with other dogs they meet in public.
Although most puppies are very dog social, in adulthood most dogs become dog selective or dog tolerant, with very few remaining truly dog social. Some may even become dog reactive.
Hearing someone proclaim “but my dog is friendly” can be frustrating for many dog owners, especially when their dogs are being bombarded by young, boisterous dogs whose owners have let off-leash but have no off leash recall.
Unfortunately, these negative interactions can lead to dogs developing behavioural challenges like reactivity.
If your dog does enjoy meeting and playing with dogs, be sure to seek consent before allowing them to approach another dog. Or, better yet, connect with other dog owners to set up planned play dates with dogs you know are healthy, social, and have a compatible play style with your dog.
Facilitating a proper greeting lays the foundation for your dog to have strong relationships not only with other dogs, but with you, their owner, as well. It is another opportunity for your dog to know that you’ve got things under control, which builds trust.
If your dog has a history of biting or aggression, your situation is beyond the scope of this post.
Last but not least, the three second rule is particularly important for the first greeting, but a very good practice for all dog greetings, even for dogs that already know each other. Give them their three seconds, walk away and if all goes well, take it from there. There will most likely come a time when you can eliminate the three second rule but it’s always a good idea to work up to it. 
Three seconds is the maximum amount of time the initial greeting should last. Now, if there’s barking or growling that happens before that, walk away sooner. We don’t want it to escalate.
It’s common for dogs to part ways after a short greeting. Dr. Camille Ward, PhD, studied greetings at a dog park amongst 52 dogs and found that they were surprisingly brief — typically six to eight seconds, with dogs going their separate ways after this fleeting interaction. The shortness of the greetings was not the only surprise in the study; Dr. Ward also found that only 12 percent of greetings progressed to play. This suggests that (a) when dogs are free to choose, they greet and move on quickly and (b) play is not nearly as likely an outcome of greetings as you might think.
Some dogs don’t engage in greeting behaviour at all — and that’s okay. Dr. Ward, who saw no aggression during this study, found that more than 80 percent of the greetings were unreciprocated. (When dogs were of similar weight, it was more likely that the greeting would be reciprocal.)
Socialising with dogs and people helps to keep them balanced and fulfilled, so by no means do I want to discourage you from having your dog acquire new playmates. All I ask is that you set yourself up for success by having your eyes wide open and your attention on the dog.
As with any of these tips, if you have questions or are nervous, get a professional involved. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Many dog owners have the idea that meeting every dog you pass during a walk is an essential part of dog socialisation. It is not.
On-leash greetings are actually the opposite of what you want to do. Rather, they are a great way to cause fights, reinforce poor behaviour, and damage the bond between you and your dog.
Dogs don’t need to greet or engage with other dogs to be happy or fulfilled. In fact, allowing your dog to greet every dog you see can lead to longer-term behavioural issues: pulling on the leash, frustration, reactivity, loss of focus, loss of control and obedience, risk of injury and illness – just to name a few.
Rather than encouraging your dog to engage with other dogs, it’s far safer to teach them neutrality by asking your dog to turn attention toward you instead. This skill is easiest to teach with young puppies when you first introduce them to walking, by rewarding them for any attention they give you on a walk. But while it’s great to start building these skills when your dog is young, you can absolutely teach it and reinforce it with older dogs.
To create neutrality toward other dogs when you’re out in public, your goal is to make yourself more interesting and “valuable” to your dog. We want our dogs to understand that going out with us anywhere (from a neighbourhood walk to dog-friendly events) is a chance to play and engage with us and not other dogs. By avoiding setups where our dogs routinely greet strange dogs, we can teach them that paying attention to us is more fun and rewarding.
Remember, just because your dog may typically be happy-go-lucky, doesn’t mean that all dogs are easy to get along with and it doesn’t guarantee that the chemistry will be good between your dog and the new dog right from the start. If you happen to stumble across a dog out in the world and you don’t feel comfortable with having your dog meet him, that’s ok. You can politely excuse yourself from the  greeting by saying that your dog is in training and you need to keep him focused.
DOG FACT : In all dog breeds, eye sizes are the same.
The eye is the first major organ to develop in a foetus.
All the variations you see in dogs, size, color, temperament take place on the genetic level after the eyeball has developed. That’s why small dogs often seem to have bulging eyes. Their skulls are holding the same size orbs as their gigantic brethren.
The vets allow that there could be minor differences in eye size, and that disease, or bad genetics could result in an eye larger or smaller than usual, but, all things being equal, all dogs have the same size eyeballs 🤷🏻‍♂️
Most people (even dog owners) do not know how to approach a dog properly! Fact 🤷🏻‍♂️
Today‘s advice is not about how to greet dogs the right way (posted on that before) but how to avoid unsolicited greetings.
Hoovering over the dog’s space to say hello, extending a hand to be sniffed, patting a dog on their head from above, looking into their eyes as they do so, softening their voice or sounding like an excited kid are all recipes for biting!
Dogs are aversive to 3 main things when not comfortable:
  1. Direct eye contact
  2. Patting / touching or
  3. Invading into their personal space.
I very often take puppies and “human reactive” dogs in public for training purposes. Every time, I come across someone who means well, but is very determined to get too close.
“Ah.. dogs love me.
They feel no fear from me, I’ll be fine.
I got dogs at home, she can smell them”, etc.
Some of the things I say / do to keep those people away are:
I’m sorry but she’s in training!
I’m sorry but she’s not all that friendly with strangers!
I use my body / arms to block off their access if need be.
I’ll have the dog slightly behind me, to let the dog know that I got this.
So next time you come across an extra zealous dog lover, please thank them for their intention but DO ALL YOU CAN to keep them away!
Your dog will thank you, and you’d definitely earn her trust with your handling.
One of the biggest problems in training is CUE NAGGING (when your dog doesn’t respond to a command , so you keep REPEATING it).
This often happens with the words COME, SIT and WAIT. You say it; your dog doesn’t obey, so you keep saying it. Pretty soon, your dog doesn’t pay attention until you’ve said the word five or six times.
By repeating the cue, you’ve taught your pet that he doesn’t have to respond right away — and your cue is now “come, come, come.” You have also depreciated the meaning and value of that command to the dog.
It’s imperative to say the cue just once, maybe twice if your dog is distracted. If you don’t think he’s listening, it’s better not to say it at all.
Instead, it’s best to go back to teaching the behaviour you want to see and get it rock solid BEFORE adding your verbal cue. This behaviour should be absolutely worthwhile for your dog to perform.

Happy training!

Did you know that statistics show most people are more intimidated by black dogs, regardless of their size or breed?
Black Dog Syndrome also known as BDS, is a phenomenon in pet adoption in which black dogs are ignored in favour of light-colored ones. Observed by shelters and rescue groups across the world, BDS is an issue negatively affecting the adoption rates of black pets.
Movies and television shows often portray big, black dogs as aggressive and intimidating, which could also convince potential adopters to avoid them.
Some believe it could come down to how photogenic dogs are. Notoriously, black dogs do not photograph well. Lighter-coloured dogs, on the other hand, do. When shelters or rescues photograph their adoptable animals to post on their social media, lighter-coloured dogs may have the upper hand.
A 2013 study by physiologists revealed that people find images of black dogs scarier than photos of yellow or brown dogs – respondents rated the dark-furred animals less adoptable, less friendly, and more intimidating.
It might also come down to facial expressions. People attach to dogs when they can read their facial expressions, and on black dogs those are harder to make out. You can barely see their eyebrows, and it becomes harder to humanise them and connect on an emotional level.
Adopting a black dog is a surefire way for you to help those wonderful souls find forever homes!
Black dogs are NO DIFFERENT than dogs of other colours. They act the same, provide the same amount of love, and give just as many kisses!
We all see the joy that dogs get in sticking their head out the window of a moving car so it’s a natural question as to whether it’s a good idea or not.
The short answer is NO ⛔️
Allowing your dog to stick his head out the window is a very dangerous habit. Their eyes are exposed to dirt, rocks, dust and other debris. These materials can easily puncture and scratch your dog’s eyes.
Damage to the ears is another big concern. When a dog’s ears flap in the wind, his soft earflaps (pinnae) can easily become irritated, swollen and very tender. The constant and rapid flapping of the pinnae against your dog’s head from high-speed winds causes trauma to the ear and results in swelling. Repeated trauma such as this can cause lifelong problems for your pup.
This habit can also lead to more severe outcomes, such as falling out of the car or getting his head stuck in the window opening. Taking a turn a bit too fast, traveling over bumpy terrain, a car accident or even over excitement can cause your dog to lose his balance and easily fall out of the window. These types of incidents occur more frequently than one might imagine and can cause severe injury or death to dogs.
The best place for your dog to ride is in the back seat or cargo area of your vehicle, properly secured of course. Utilising a pet safety belt, car seat, vehicle pet barrier, or a travel crate are the best ways to ensure that your pup’s travels are happy and safe.
Sure, crack the window, but NO HEADS OUT
There are basically two kinds of infections that are commonly seen in ears: yeast or bacteria. Your vet should always perform a cytology, looking at a stained slide under the microscope using some of the debris from the ear canal. This can determine whether yeast or bacteria make up most of the infection.

Getting water in the ears can lead to bacterial infections; this is commonly seen with dogs that swim a lot or after grooming or bathing if water enters the ear canals.
Bacterial infections most commonly show up as yellow or green discharge from the ears that looks like pus, with a very foul odor and significant pain.

Yeast infections, on the other hand, tend to have a brown or dark gold greasy discharge.
The yeast is usually described as smelling like “corn chips”. These infections may not be quite as painful, but do seem to cause more scratching. Yeast and bacteria are always present in the ears and on the skin, but in amounts that are not problematic in animals with a healthy immune system. When there is a yeast overgrowth, the body is not able to deal with the infection.
Chronic yeast infections are commonly associated with a food intolerance, particularly protein intolerance (proteins are not found just in meats; grains and legumes also provide significant levels of protein). If the pet is fed a chicken-based diet, he may fare better on a fish or beef based diet. Yeast feeds on sugar. Diets high in carbohydrates will feed the yeast overgrowth. By changing the diet from a high carbohydrate product (i.e.- dry kibble) to a more species-appropriate, meat-based diet, many pets will show significant improvement in chronic yeast infections.
Always consult your vet when infections occur and make a habit of checking your dog’s ears weekly!
What exactly is xylitol?
Discovered by German chemist Emil Fisher in 1891, xylitol is commonly referred to in labels as “birch sugar.” The xylitol we consume is manufactured by beginning with a product called xylan found in hardwood trees and corncobs, hence the name “birch sugar.”
After a dog consumes a significant amount of xylitol, there is a massive release of insulin from the pancreas. This, in turn, results in a dangerously low blood sugar level and symptoms such as weakness, trembling, seizures, collapse, and even death.

At higher dosages, xylitol can cause massive liver destruction (known as necrosis) in which large numbers of liver cells die abruptly. This produces an acute health crisis and, in many cases, death.Vomiting is often the first symptom of xylitol toxicity. Other symptoms related to the low blood sugar level develop within 30 minutes to 12 hours following consumption. When xylitol-induced liver damage occurs, blood liver enzyme values typically begin increasing within 12 to 24 hours.

The dose of xylitol considered to be toxic for dogs is 0.1 gram or more of xylitol per kg of the dog’s body weight.
Treatment of xylitol toxicity in dogs
Emergency treatment is warranted after a dog consumes xylitol. If vomiting can be successfully induced within the first 30 minutes or so (before the xylitol leaves the stomach), the problem may be solved. Once xylitol leaves the stomach (the other way) and triggers the pancreas to produce insulin, intensive treatment is warranted in order to try to counteract the effects of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and liver damage. Treatment includes hospitalization with round-the-clock care, blood monitoring, and administration of intravenous glucose and liver-protective agents. In some cases, blood transfusions are needed to counteract the effects of blood clotting abnormalities caused by liver failure.
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Chewing gum
  • Sugar-free candy
  • Sugar free breath mints
  • Fruit drinks
  • Jellies and jams
  • Cereals
  • Baked goods
  • Sugar-free puddings and Jello
  • Over the counter vitamin supplements
Make sure to check labels in products for this ingredient, and if they do contain xylitol, keep them out of your pet’s reach at all costs!
Not all product labels clearly state if they contain xylitol. If a label states only, “artificially sweetened,” presume that it contains xylitol.
Being accepted as a member by this reputable organisation means I am being held responsible for practising with the highest professional standards and ethics to always maintain the successful well being of dogs and dog / owner relationships, as well as keeping up to date with the latest practical, scientific and proven methodologies of dog training / behavioural modification.
Founded in 1999, the IACP was established to develop and promote the highest standards of professional and business practice among canine professionals. The IACP has grown to include professionals from all over the globe—encompassing every facet of the dog world.
The IACP is home to some of the best in the industry. Steven Lindsay, Tyler Muto, Robert Cabral, Pat Stuart, Larry Krohn, Nino Drowaert and many other internationally renowned trainers have partnered with / or are members of this organisation.
In September, over 4 days, I virtually attended the IACP annual conference in Florida which provided an invaluable wealth of information across many aspects of dog training.
Looking forward to sharing all the learnings with my wonderful clients and their doggies 🐶😊

Growling should never be punished and also never be ignored!!!

Not all growls are negative. Some growls are play growls, attention seeking growls, pleasure seeking growls or frustration growls. They may all sound a little different and may be unique to the particular dog. This post is not about different types of growls, but about warning or aggressive growls.

When a dog growls, maybe even at us, the natural human response is to feel offended and maybe even angry. Surely dogs need to learn not to growl, growling is bad, growling is unacceptable, growling is a problem and needs to be punished so a dog learns it’s wrong, disrespectful and not to do it again, right?

NO, this couldn’t be further from the truth! A dog that growls has just provided us with a very valuable communication signal. In their way, they have just communicated to us how they feel without resorting to a bite. Dogs use growling in an attempt to avoid having to resort to biting, not to initiate it. They could just as easily have not even bothered to growl and gone straight to a bite.

Growling is a dog’s way of saying “please stop,” “stay away from me,” “go away,” “I’m not comfortable with this and I’m feeling threatened”. A dog that growls is trying hard to communicate and punishment suppresses this ability to communicate. Punishment doesn’t change the level of the dog’s discomfort; it creates more stress and the dog will feel more threatened.

Growling is not the problem. Growling is the result of and the symptom of a problem. A dog that bites without the warning of a growl is a far more serious problem than a dog that growls but doesn’t bite.

Look for any other early warning signals that may precede a growl. Recognize and take note of what makes your dog feel threatened and create distance between your dog and whatever is triggering them.
Be grateful for the gift of a growl – it provides us with an opportunity to address the cause & prevent the bite!


Fewer than 10% of the ingredients in synthetic air fresheners are disclosed on the labels.

Many of these unlisted chemical ingredients (such as benzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene) are known carcinogens, hormone disruptors or may cause allergic reactions. They can generate double the damage in dogs!

Synthetic aromas are largely made up of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which float through the air, are inhaled, and then enter the bloodstream. These highly popular aromatic liquids are actually chemicals, including benzene, lactones and aldehydes, all of which have been linked to cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, neurological disorders, and/or allergic reactions, including eye, skin and respiratory symptoms.

Our animals often spend their days stuck inside our homes, unable to get away from these airborne pollutants; if your goal is to remove damaging chemicals from your family’s living environment, the first place to start is by unplugging plug-ins.


Dogs kick the ground after pooping to tidy up and mark their territory. They have glands in their feet that secrete pheromones, and a couple of backward scrapes of the paws release those chemicals thus “claming” the spot.

These pheromones from dogs’ feet last longer than the scent of urine or feces, making them more effective as a communication tool.

The behaviour dates back thousands of years, when dogs lived in the wild and were responsible for fending off prey. In the presence of other dogs, the action was used as a protection method.

Your pup isn’t attempting to ruin the lawn, but simply letting other dogs know they’re in charge.

But it’s not always a warning to “back-off” — this form of communication also allows canines to alert other dogs that there isn’t a present threat in the area. If another dog comes near, they’ll immediately know that another animal of the same species is close by. When surrounded by other dogs during visits to the dog park, it’s normal for this action to go into overdrive.

It’s also important to take note of when it becomes an aggressive behaviour or a sign of anxiety. If your dog has begun kicking at grass more frequently, consider anything that might be contributing to their behaviour. It could be a new puppy in your home, a new neighbourhood dog in the area, or your dog feeling anxious about something else that has changed recently.


A dog’s freedom is probably the best reward you can ever give them! Freedom to not be leashed, restrained, be a dog and replicate their natural habitat as much as possible. 

However, choosing to let your dog off leash should be a decision you make very carefully. There are many risks associated with having them freely in public. A leash adds a layer of safety to almost any situation.

Consider those facts: 

  • You lose control of potentially dangerous situations with other dogs, animals, people, wildlife, etc. and you really never know how other dogs/animals/humans will react to your dog. This can potentially lead to fights and other unfortunate situations. 
  • Bad habits can be formed like chasing objects, running quickly in other directions (even if your dog comes back to you)
  • There is an inherent danger of your dog running into bad situations like cars, bikes, etc.
  • Even if you have the friendliest dog in the world, not everyone does. A friendly dog running at a nervous or fearful dog or person will cause long-term side effects for the unsuspecting dog and / or humans. 
  • Court cases for dog bites can range in costs up to $25,000. 
  • Depending on the severity of the trauma or bite caused by the dog, they might even be put down or declared a menace dog, meaning always muzzled and restricted to close proximity of most public areas as well as increased local council registration fees. 

Another reason to leash them is the law – (Australia) and many other countries – unless you’re in a designated off-lead area.

Local councils charge owners for walking their dogs off-lead!

Penalties under the Dog Act 1976 (Australia) range from $200 to $5000. 

Plastic pet food bowls are no. 4 of the top 10 germiest items in kitchens of homes with pets, and can leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can affect adrenal and thyroid function.
They tend to be inexpensive and unlikely to break if dropped. Many are dishwasher-safe. However, plastic bowls are generally not recommended for many dogs. Bowls made of plastic can be easily chewed or scratched by your dog, leaving places for bacteria to build up. Additionally, some dogs may develop an allergy to the plastic, resulting in a mild skin reaction on the chin or face. It’s probably best to find a healthier option for your dog’s meals.
A ceramic or stoneware dog bowl is a great way to express your style. These bowls are often decorated with fun designs and may even be handmade by artists. Their protective glaze makes them easy to keep clean, especially if dishwasher-safe. However, ceramic dog bowls will easily break if dropped. Even when handled carefully, these bowls can chip or crack, and become unsafe for your dog. Smaller, less visible cracks can harbor bacteria. Be sure to inspect your ceramic bowls regularly for damage.
Just about everyone agrees that stainless steel is the best overall option for pet food bowls.
They are by far the most durable and are also dishwasher-safe. These bowls are sometimes made with a non-skid rim on the bottom to prevent spilling. Stainless steel bowls do not often come in colors or designs, though some can be found. However, they are practical, inexpensive and stand the test of time.
Many vets agree that you should wash your dog’s bowl daily…
  • Dog bowl with DRY FOOD – If you feed with kibble, your dog’s bowl should be washed daily, after the final meal of the day.
  • Dog bowl with WET FOOD – If you feed with canned food or raw meat, your dog’s bowl should be washed and sanitized after every meal.
  • Dog bowl with WATER – Your dog’s water bowl should be washed once per day.
If you’ve noticed your dog eating grass, you might be relieved to hear that this is a common dog behavior, and, contrary to conventional wisdom, it is usually not because your dog has an upset stomach.
“But she throws up after she eats grass,” you say. “Doesn’t this mean her tummy is upset?”
Actually, no. Fewer than 25% of dogs who eat grass chuck it up afterward, and only about 10% of grass-eating dogs show signs of illness prior to grazing. So, rather than eating grass because they needed to throw up, most dogs who do throw up probably do it as an incidental after-effect.
So why do dogs eat grass?
Dogs have a natural carnivorous bias, meaning their teeth, digestive systems, and preferences lean toward eating meat. As historical scavengers, though, they also eat vegetable matter. The simplest explanation for grass-eating is that some dogs just like it. It tastes good and they like the sensation of grass in their mouths.
Dogs do need roughage in their diet, and grass can be a good source of fiber. A lack of roughage can be detrimental to your dog’s ability to digest food and eliminate normally, so eating grass may actually be beneficial to the canine digestive system.
How to stop your dog from eating grass
That said, there are some medical explanations for the grass-grazing habits of some dogs. Frequent grass-eating dogs who show indications of digestive distress may have a medical problem such as gastric reflux, inflammatory bowel disease, or pancreatitis.
If your dog shows signs of stomach discomfort a prompt visit to your veterinarian is called for to rule out or treat serious medical conditions.
There are also potential behavioural reasons for this behaviour. A bored dog may graze on greens for lack of anything better to do. The solution? Increase exercise and provide enrichment alternatives to reduce her desire to mow your lawn. Food-dispensing toys, scent work, “sniff walks,” canine play dates, and cognition games are excellent enrichment activities.
Stress can also lead to grass-guzzling. Chewing is a great stress reliever, and from a dog’s perspective, grass is a chewable stress object, especially absent more appropriate chew options. The solution? Explore ways to reduce her stress and be sure to provide appropriate high-value chew objects. (Sturdy toys stuffed with food and frozen top our list.)
Attention-seeking is another explanation. Your canine pal may offer behaviors to get you to engage in activities with her. If grass-eating successfully prompts you to interact with her, you are reinforcing the behaviour and increasing the likelihood she’ll do it more. The solution? Ignore her when she’s munching grass and pay attention to her when she’s engaged in activities you prefer.
When should I stop my dog from eating grass?
The biggest risk to your dog from grass-eating is ingesting lawn chemicals. If you treat your yard (or walk where grass is treated) then you must prevent her from munching on the greens. You could fence off part of your yard that you pave, gravel, or don’t treat so she can have a free-play area. Otherwise, walk her where it’s safe, and/or use treats or toys (play tug!) to reinforce her for keeping her head up when walking on grass.
By Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA
Long, unkempt nails not only look unattractive, but over time they can do serious damage to your dog (not to mention your floors). When nails are so long that they constantly touch the ground, they exert force back into the nail bed, creating pain for the dog (imagine wearing a too-tight shoe) and pressure on the toe joint. Long term, this can actually realign the joints of the foreleg and make the foot looked flattened and splayed.
Again, this isn’t just an aesthetic problem, it’s a functional one: Compromising your dog’s weight distribution and natural alignment can leave her more susceptible to injuries, and make walking and running difficult and painful. This is especially important in older dogs, whose posture can be dramatically improved by cutting back neglected nails.
In extreme cases, overgrown nails can curve and grow into the pad of the foot. But even if they are not that out of control, long nails can get torn or split, which is very painful and, depending on severity, may need to be treated by a veterinarian.
And in the end, unattended nails create a vicious cycle: Because the extra-long nails make any contact with his paws painful for the dog, he avoids having them touched, which leads to unpleasant nail-cutting sessions, which makes both human and dog avoid them, which leads to longer intervals between trims, which leads to more pain …
The most commonly accepted rule of thumb is that when a dog is standing, the nails should not make contact with the ground. If you can hear your dog coming, her nails are too long.
In addition to one nail at the end of each of the four toes usually found on each foot, many dogs also have a fifth nail, called a dewclaw, on the inside of the leg, below the wrist. Some dogs are born with dewclaws in the front only; others are born with dewclaws on every leg. There’s a great deal of debate about whether these should be surgically removed; some breeders do this a few days after birth because they believe that the dewclaws are vestigial, and are likely to rip or tear if they are not removed.
Proponents of dewclaws argue that dewclaws are not vestigial, but indeed used to grip objects such as bones, and to provide important traction when a galloping dog needs to change direction. (Poke around Youtube and you can find videos of Sighthound lure coursing; they actually lay their entire forearms perpendicular to the ground when redirecting their momentum.) Even the floppy double-dewclaws of breeds like the Great Pyrenees are said to have some purpose (traction or a “snowshoe” effect in the snow).
One thing is certain: If a dog has dewclaws, they need to be trimmed – perhaps even more often than nails that routinely touch the ground. Because the dewclaws rarely touch the ground and so aren’t worn down, they tend to be pointier than the other nails. But perhaps because dewclaws are so loosely attached to the forelimb, many dogs object to trimming them much less.

Helpful Tools for Trimming Dog Nails

Nail clippers use blades to remove the tip of the nail. There are a couple of different styles to choose from, but no matter what type is used, their effectiveness is dependent on the blades being sharp and clean.
Guillotine trimmers have a hole at the end, through which the dog’s nail is inserted; then, as the handles of the tool are squeezed together, an internal blade lops off the end of the nail in a fashion reminiscent of the execution device for which the trimmer is named.
Scissor- and plier-style trimmers are arguably easier to use, but need to be sharpened from time to time
Grinders are relatively new to the world of canine manicures.
Be sure to acclimate your dog to the sound of the grinder, and then slowly introduce the tool, so that your dog is accustomed to the grinding sensation on his nails.
It may also be helpful to dedicate a location in your home for doing your dog’s nails – somewhere comfortable for you and your dog and with a good light source. Make sure you have everything you need at hand before you begin: clippers, styptic powder and some tissue or a small clean towel or washcloth (in case you accidentally quick the dog), eyeglasses for you (if you need them to see well up close), and lots of small, high-value treats to keep the experience rewarding for your dog.
It’s also smart to have a leash on your dog, even if he’s usually fine with having his nails clipped; many dogs will attempt to leave abruptly if they are “quicked.” And who could blame them? If you do  make a mistake, don’t make a huge fuss. Feed your dog some treats, and proceed with more conservative clips.
By Nancy Kerns & Denise Flaim

Not a week goes by where I don’t have to reassure a concerned dog owner their dog’s social behaviour at the park is 100% NORMAL!

It’s so strange the way we expect our dogs to go to the park, meet 5-10 random dogs, and get along with them all perfectly.

Me? I hate going to nightclubs. I’d rather have coffee with one or two friends, or maybe a walk. Maybe you’re the opposite and love going to crowded pubs and making new friends! Neither of us are ‘abnormal’. 

Dogs too fall on a spectrum of sociability. Many puppies start up at the social end, happy to play with whoever they meet. Most dogs are more selective and choose their friends carefully. Some dogs truly fall on the aggressive end, and may not have many or any doggie friends.

So the sooner we all realise that our dogs have personalities too, the sooner we can stop creating goals for our dogs that they’ll never enjoy.

For an aggressive dog, a reasonable goal is to walk past another dog on leash at 5m distance. It’s not a reasonable goal to expect them to enjoy playing with random dogs!

As humans, we rarely stop to chat to folks on the street, unless we know them. Somehow this idea goes out the window with dogs, there’s this expectation to meet every single other dog on a walk!

Most people would want their dogs to cope with the fair expectations of living safely in our community – to be neutrally social and robust. So let’s set some fair expectations:

🐩 Think about your dog’s play style. Different breeds play differently! Eg herding, wrestling, body slamming, chasing…

🐕 Find a couple of well matched doggy friends for your dog, and let them play in low traffic locations (eg someone’s backyard, a secluded park) to enjoy play time.

👋 Set the expectation early that not all dogs are there for play! Teach your puppy that most dogs you meet on the street aren’t relevant to them.

🤚Advocate for your dog in play. Don’t allow dogs to ‘sort it out’, or for your dog to bully or be bullied.

🤷‍♀️ Avoid dog parks. Sorry folks, these places generally suck for fair, beneficial and harmonious play.

Happy playing!

Observe how your dog interacts with other dogs. Does your dog bark, pounce, and snap? How rough does she normally play?
If you know what behaviour your dog usually exhibits around other dogs, it will be easier to tell when there’s a fight happening.
When dogs play, it often sounds a lot like it does when they’re fighting. Dogs will growl, snap their jaws, and bite one another roughly. Instead of listening, watch the dogs’ bodies.
If they look loose and relaxed, and they’re wagging their tails, they’re probably just playing. However, if the dogs’ bodies appear stiff and rigid, and their tails are down (defensive reactive) or they are highly raised (dominant offensive), they may be getting ready to fight.
In some cases, one dog will think it’s playtime, but the other isn’t having it. If this is the case, it may be better to separate the dogs.
Sometimes, playtime can be too rough, even if both dogs seem to like it. A very large dog might accidentally hurt a small dog, for example.
Dogs can get territorial over food and toys. Some breeds are more apt to defend their rights to beloved possessions, while others are better at sharing.
Know your dog’s unique personality traits so that you can prevent a battle from happening when another dog comes around.
Put treats, food, and toys away when your dog is having social time with other dogs.
Feed multiple dogs in separate rooms if they tend to get territorial.
When you first bring your dog home, it’s your responsibility to teach your dog not to attack others.
Use positive reinforcement to reward good behaviour. When your dog bites, growls or exhibits other behaviour that seems too violent, separate her from the dog she’s playing with and put her in time out until she calms down.
If your dog is good at obeying recall , you’ll be able to pull her out of most tense situations before they escalate too much.
Start training her how to come and stay when she’s still young, and practise often, especially in the company of other dogs.
Most dog fights only last for seconds. Your greatest advantage in this situation is a clear head. The best thing you can do is to startle the dogs enough to distract them.
Resist the urge to grab your dog by the collar. This might be your first impulse, but when dogs are really fighting, they may whip around and bite instinctively, even without any past aggression.
When the dogs’ bodies are rigid and it’s clear they’re actually fighting, not playing, don’t risk reaching your hand in there.
Know circumstances in which you should intervene. Again, it’s important to note that most scuffles between dogs last only seconds and can appear worse than they really are.
Fights involving fighting breeds should be stopped as they have trouble reading social signals from other dogs.
Fights between dogs of two very different sizes, or two females in heat likely will need to be broken up, as well as fights involving dogs who are known to have done physical harm in the past or will not walk away.
Under almost no circumstances should you get between two dogs that are actively biting. In the confusion, the dogs will mistake you for another target and you will get bitten.
If the dogs are very small, then you may be able to step between the two dogs to block their view from each other and diffuse the situation.
Dogfights don’t last long, so use whatever you have at hand.
Yell, shriek, stomp your feet, and clap your hands — whatever you can do to attract the dogs’ attention.
If you have metal dog bowls or garbage cans nearby, you can bang two pieces of metal together.
Water — as much as you have — can really get a dog’s attention. Douse the fighting dogs with a hose or a bucket. No harm done, and in most cases the dogs will walk away just a little wet.
Look for something you can use to separate the dogs. A large piece of cardboard, plywood, a garbage can lid, a big stick — any of these can be used to separate the dogs without putting your hands in harm’s way.
Some dogs will stop fighting when they can’t see each other anymore. If you have a large blanket, a tarp, a jacket, or another piece of opaque material, try tossing it over the fighting dogs to calm them down.
If you still need to physically intervene, approach your dog from behind and grab the top of its hind legs.
Lift their back paws off the ground into a wheelbarrow position. Begin walking backwards, circling to one side so the dog will not be able to turn and bite you.
This works best if someone else is there to grab the legs of the other dog so you can pull them apart.
Never insert your arms into a dog fight, as you will get bitten.
Once they have been separated, keep the dogs out of each other’s sight*. They may start to fight again when they see each other. Put your dog in the car or behind a closed door as soon as possible.
Use a belt or a tie as a temporary leash if the dog does not have one, and if you are alone. Tie one dog to an immovable object and remove the other dog to another location.
If nothing else is working, you may feel that you have to get physically involved to prevent serious injury to your dog.
If you’re wearing pants and heavy shoes, you may be able to push some dogs apart with your legs and feet.
Understand that this should only be attempted with smaller dogs, and that it should not be done if the dogs are actively biting, as they will bite your legs.
Understand that you are at potential risk of injuring yourself. This method is not advised for large dogs, such as German shepherds, since it is possible to receive collateral damage from a nasty bite to the groin.
This technique is especially effective when done with more than one person.
It is not necessary to kick or try to hurt the dogs; the goal is to separate them.
Once you have separated the dogs, don’t forget to protect yourself. In particular, if one or more of the dogs becomes aggressive towards you, don’t turn and run — continue to face the dog, stand still, and avoid eye contact
*This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice.
*NOTE: Keeping the dogs separated after the fight will most likely teach them that they should NOT be together, so that will continue to be a problem. So make sure that everyone is safe as well as the dogs. Let them calm down for a few minutes. Then take them for a 1 hour walk together, relatively close by (parallel walking) . They will not be fighting again that day!
You’ve just got home and found a massive hole in your backyard.
What should you do? Should you tell your dog off for digging it up?
Believe it or not, it is TOO LATE to communicate with the dog that he should not be digging in your backyard, unless he starts to dig again while you are there.
To punish a dog for a past deed only confuses him, hurts the trust between owner and dog, and does not teach the dog anything useful. Dogs do not have the same sense of logic that humans have. They do not plan, premeditate or reason out situations like humans do.
The dog may show signs that he knows you are upset, but that does not mean he knows WHY.
Dogs live in the moment. Whatever the dog is doing at the very second you correct him is what the dog will think is bad. If the dog is lying down on his bed when you show him displeasure, the dog will think lying on his bed is what you are upset about, NOT digging your garden some 4 hours ago.
Of additional note here is that the reluctance and “guilty” look your dog may throw your way the first few times they actually respond to your angry call have nothing to do with any feelings of guilt about digging up the garden!
They are merely displaying appeasement and avoidance behaviours because of your angry tone and body language.
Punishing a dog after the fact can result in a dog that’s afraid of you, a dog that may not come when called, and possibly even a dog that could become aggressive towards you and others.
How should you avoid bad behaviours in the future?
Don’t allow unsupervised access to areas or items you want your dog to leave alone until you’ve trained them to do so, and make sure that your dog’s physical and mental exercise needs are being met so they will be less likely to seek entertainment on their own.
If you’ve punished your dog like this before, you’re not alone. Dogs can be so like us sometimes that we forget they’re not human. Start a rewards-based training program and you’ll soon be on your way to a happy, well-trained dog, and most certainly, a happier you!

Your veterinarian will tell you if your dog’s medication can be given with food or if it must be given on an empty stomach. 

If the tablet or capsule can be given with food, make a “meatball” out of minced meat or cheese and place the medication in the centre of it. 

Always give a test “meatball” to your dog to make sure she is willing to eat it and also to see if she chews it or gulps it whole. 

Dogs are more likely to gulp the “meatball” without chewing. If they do chew the “meatball” and spit out the pill, the tablet or capsule will partially dissolve and become very hard to handle. 

If the dog bites into the tablet or capsule, which will leave a bad taste in her mouth, she will be harder to medicate on the second attempt. So, you will have to decide what works best with your dog.

Sometimes you might have to give medication to your dog on an empty stomach. Please use caution when doing it, to avoid a bite.

1. Hold the dog’s head from the top using your left hand if you are right-handed and tilt the head back.

2. Hold the pill or capsule in your right hand between your thumb and index finger. Use the middle finger of your right hand to pull open the lower jaw. Keep your middle finger over the small incisor teeth NOT over the sharp fangs.

3. Drop the pill or capsule as far back over the tongue as possible, then immediately close the mouth and blow on the dog’s nose which will encourage her to swallow, or gently rub her neck with the head still in the upright position. 

You should never attempt to hand-pill a pet that has shown any signs of aggression during medication administration, such as growling, lifting of the lips, or snapping. It is important that you keep yourself safe when medicating your pet, never ignore signs of discomfort or fear.

Are you afraid that your dog might bite another person or dog? Are you not comfortable taking your dog to an off leash park or other public areas just in case a fight might start?
Then this article is for you.
Any dog can bite. According to the USA Centre for Disease Control, dogs bite around 4.5 million people each year. This number may seem frightening, but there are a number of things you can do to ensure that your dog doesn’t contribute to this statistic.
Bite inhibition refers to a dog’s ability to control the force of his mouthing. A puppy or adult dog who hasn’t learnt bite inhibition with people doesn’t recognise the sensitivity of human skin, and so he bites too hard, even in play.
Bite control is typically learnt as part of juvenile play behaviours, when the animal is still in the company of its mother and siblings: by biting each other during play, the young pups learn that biting a companion too strongly leads to the abrupt termination of play activities.
We separate them from their litter at an early age so the ongoing training of bite inhibition lays with us, the handlers.
Once your dog has bitten someone for the first time, the likelihood of your dog biting again increases, as they will see how effective it is in getting the person / dog to retreat.
When a dog bites another dog or person, it is often out of fear or protectiveness, or when they aren’t feeling well and want to be left alone; when they chase during play.
By working on obedience training, you can use basic commands to keep your dog focused on you in situations in which it is uncomfortable. If you are able to control your dog’s behaviour, it is less likely to bite.
Teach your dog to be gentle first, then teach your dog that teeth don’t belong on human skin.
Those skills will be later transferred to his interaction with other dogs, as the behaviour was learnt.
Socialisation will also increase your dog’s confidence and adaptability to more stimuli.
Understand dog body language and the fact that most dogs show specific warning signs before biting. These include growling, snapping, raised fur, a rigid posture, and rapid tail wagging. Stay aware of these as a dog owner and when interacting with any dog.
For example and most commonly: dogs who duck when about to be patted will most likely bite later in life.
Teaching bite inhibition is important for a few reasons.
No dog will ever like all people and all other pets. Your dogs will get into fights throughout their life.
You may have a reactive dog who’s prone to biting but won’t do damage as they have learnt how to control their bite. The fight might look scary but minimal to no damage done.
You may also have the friendliest dog out there, but if you’d accidentally step on his tail or approach him when he’s asleep, he will bite and puncture skin, because he doesn’t know how hard his bite can be.
It’s important to note that some dogs can easily tip from arousal biting into more aggressive biting if they become frustrated or overstimulated.
If you suspect your dog may be biting or mouthing out of aggression, or if overstimulation seems to lead to aggressive behaviour, do not attempt to tackle their mouthing without the guidance of a professional.
An Objective Assessment of Danger of Fighting Dogs
Establish the number of full-contact fights plus the number of fights in which the victim was taken to a veterinary clinic for treatment of the bite wounds. The ratio between # Fights and # Bites (i.e., damage done) will indicate the level of bite
inhibition and whether or not the dog is dangerous.
1. Not Dangerous — Many fights but no opponent admitted to veterinary hospital for treatment. Excellent prognosis — the dog has extremely reliable bite inhibition since it has never damaged another dog in numerous fights. The dog is unlikely to damage other dogs in future fights. The dog is not dangerous. Rehabilitate with classical conditioning and basic training to build the dog’s confidence around other dogs / people. The vast majority (over 95%) of fighting dogs are not dangerous.
2. Dangerous — Few fights but most victims admitted to veterinary hospital. The dog is highly likely to damage other dogs in future fights. The dog is dangerous to other dogs / people and should not be taken on to public property unless muzzled. Please seek professional help immediately.
HOW TO RESTRAINT A DOG - Vet visits / grooming
Appropriate restraint is all about empathy, finesse, and technique – it has little to do with strength.
Prevents injury and bites
Necessary for examinations, treatments and grooming
More comfortable for the dog and handler
STANDING restraint
Place one arm under the dog’s neck with the forearm, holding the head
The other arm is placed around the animal’s body to pull it close to the handler
Can be used on floor or table
Use: General exams, specimen retrieval, nail trims
SITTING Restraint
Same technique as standing restraint, but dog is sitting
Can be against a wall to keep the dog from backing up
Use: general exams, cleaning ears, blood draw
LATERAL Recumbency
Begin in Sitting restraint
Carefully place in lying position: observe exact leg position and grabbing.
Hold legs that are on down side of table/floor, prevents dog from standing
Pay attention to the head of the animal!
Use: X-Rays, blood draw, nail trims (extreme)
According to Jaak Panksepp and his colleagues, there are 7 basic animal emotions, or as he calls them, 7 emotional systems, based on specific neural systems that have been identified: Seeking, Rage, Fear, Lust, Care, Panic and Play.
Recognising what emotional state our dog is in can help us adapt our own behaviour for a more positive and constructive interaction. At the same time, we need to take responsibility for our own emotions and understand their effects of our reactions and behaviour on our pet.
Panksepp’s 7 Basic Emotions:
1- The seeking system
This emotional system is at the basis of many behaviours. When we’re engaged in a task that we enjoy, we experience a certain amount of pleasure from the activity itself. This pleasure is mostly due to a release of dopamine. In dogs, this system is activated when engaged in behaviours they have been bred for, like herding, stalking, chasing or running.
This system can lead to addictive pleasure-seeking behaviours and when dogs cannot perform the behaviours that have a strong genetic basis, they will redirect their drive onto other behaviours that may be considered as undesirable by their human caregiver.
2- The rage system
When the seeking system is aroused but cannot be satisfied, like with excessive frustration, hunger or thirst, the person or animal can get angry. Rage can also arise when the animal is restricted from activity or when experiencing irritation or pain.
Lack of love and acceptance, restriction from rights and pleasures, neglect or abuse, all have the potential for damaging effects on the person or animal and engender long lasting anger.
Things get even more complicated when different emotions get mixed. The fear system, for instance, can trigger an animal’s defensiveness even more than rage alone.
3- The fear system
Three distinct neural pathways have been identified:
The high road: When the animal hears a sudden noise or sees a scary object, the information is carried to the sensory cortex where cognitive processing will take place. This is when the dog can make a decision of the best action to take to stay safe.
If a dog that is generally reactive to other dogs is unlikely to display any aggressive behaviour when introduced in a large group of dogs. The behaviour that works when only one dog is around is simply too dangerous in this situation.
The low road: when a dog has been previously exposed to a scary situation, that memory is now stored and the information will go directly from the thalamus to the amygdala. In this pathway, there are no decisions made. The dog will have an immediate emergency response. This is why it’s always best to take the time to desensitise the dog to anything that scares them.
The royal road: when the animal is repeatedly exposed to stressful situations, it will develop neural pathways that will help it anticipate and possibly avoid the situation altogether. This route runs between the amygdala and the periaqueductal gray of the midbrain and is at the core of anxiety disorders.
4- The lust system
No need to go into much detail with the lust system, this one speaks for itself. This system is of course involved in all reproduction activity and will elicit highly desirable feelings. The strong urges associated with these emotions are important as they contribute to the survival of the species.
5- The care system
Present in all mammals, the care system is critical to the survival of the offspring. The distress calls of cows when separated from their calves for milk production illustrates how powerful this emotion can be. In the same way, bitches will run to the distressed calls of their pups.
The care system is triggered by a change in hormone levels and activates the mother’s ability to look after her young, but it’s also involved in the bond that our dog and us develop for each other.
6- The panic system
Separation anxiety is a direct product of the panic system. Extensive research on the effects of separation in several mammal species has shown that social pain is a deep rooted and ancient emotion. It probably evolved to ensure that members of the same group don’t get separated from each other and be exposed to danger.
The areas in the brain that regulate this system also show considerable overlap with areas responsible for physical pain suggesting that separation can trigger distressing emotional reactions to the animal. In the most extreme cases, separation anxiety is a real panic attack.
7- The play system
The play system is characterized by the release of endorphins or other opioids generating a euphoric state of mind. Play is very important in animals (and humans of course) as it promotes a more relaxed and happy state of mind. Play also facilitates social attachments as well as better social skills.
HIP DYSPLASIA: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Hip dysplasia in dogs is a common developmental condition in large breed dogs like German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers and Newfoundlands.
It’s caused by a hip deformity that results in joint looseness, and can lead to pain, mobility issues, and osteoarthritis.
When a dog moves around with a loose hip joint, it can cause permanent damage to the joint’s anatomy.
If left untreated, the condition can turn into osteoarthritis (also called degenerative joint disease), as the abnormal movement wears away cartilage and leads to the formation of scar tissue and bone spurs.
What Are the Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
Canine hip dysplasia affects both young and old dogs, but not always in the same way.
The Morris Animal Foundation divides the signs according to age of onset:
  • juvenile (dogs younger than 18 months of age)
  • lameness (limping) in one or both of back legs
  • bunny-like hopping (dog holds its back legs together and hops instead of running normally)
  • difficulty getting up
  • clicking sound from hips when moving or getting up
  • shifting of weight to front legs
  • unable to exercise for long periods
  • mature (dogs older than 18 months of age)
  • history of lameness (limping) in back legs
  • limping after exercising
  • loss of muscle mass in one or both of back legs
  • difficulty jumping or climbing
It’s important to note that while dogs can develop clinical signs as puppies, many don’t show any outward symptoms until they’ve lived with the condition for multiple years.
What Are the Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
Genetics plays a central role in the development of canine hip dysplasia, as dogs can pass the condition to their offspring, and large breed dogs are more prone to the disease. However, it isn’t the only risk factor.
Puppies with a genetic predisposition for hip dysplasia are more at risk of developing the condition if they’re given more food than they need, resulting in faster than normal weight gain and growth. Heavy exercise is another risk factor in puppies.
How is Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed?
Though the signs listed above can point to hip dysplasia, the condition is usually diagnosed via hip x-rays in both young and adult dogs. Your veterinarian may also use their hands to examine the hip and check for looseness.
What is the Treatment for Hip Dysplasia?
The best treatment depends on the age, condition, and lifestyle of the dog.
Typically, surgery is recommended for young dogs with long, active lives ahead, as it provides the most long-term comfort. Two common surgical options for dogs with hip dysplasia are total hip replacement and femoral head osteotomy, in which the head and neck of the femur are removed.
For older dogs and dogs for whom surgery isn’t an option, medical management at home can effectively manage pain.
The most commonly used medications to help with joint pain from hip dysplasia are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
However, it’s important to note that NSAIDs can have significant side effects and must be closely monitored.
Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can help prevent cartilage breakdown in the joint, which can ease pain as well.
Other potential treatments include cold laser therapy, acupuncture, and physical therapy. Your veterinarian will work with you to determine the best options for you and your pet.
Have you found yourself excited to buy some new food for your dog, have it placed in his bowl just to hardly get a sniff and have him walk away? And you automatically wonder if your pooch is ok? Oh yesss, he most likely is!
So are they really fussy eaters?
I’ll have to say NO. And experience has taught me that dogs will eat almost anything, most times, providing is given to them the right way.
Your dog is descended from opportunistic hunters that were accustomed to eating what they could get when they could get it. Frequently, the cause of a dog’s finicky eating isn’t a result of its behaviour but rather ours, the humans. Adding something nicer to their food, or even substituting it with table scraps or too many treats.
Dogs will NEVER starve themselves.
We inadvertently teach the dog just that: Fido, if you don’t eat your meals, I’ll “reward” you with some better food!!! So next time, they will learnt to wait, as something better is about to land on their plate!
What should you do?
As long as a dog is not ill, either with a chronic illness such as kidney disease, with an acute illness such as a respiratory infection, or a dental issue, he can survive for over a week without eating. Most dogs will not hold out very long before their survival instinct kicks in and they begin to eat what is offered.
One approach is to offer food at a morning mealtime, leave it out for 10-15 minutes, then take it away until the next mealtime. At the next mealtime, do the same. Whatever is not consumed is removed. This approach works best with dry kibble.
If you offer canned food, it is best to discard what is not eaten in order to prevent illness from spoiled food.
Unfortunately, this means wasting food. To reduce waste, offer just a small amount of food per meal, gradually increasing to an appropriate meal size when the smaller volumes are eaten consistently.
A second approach to having a food motivated dog is to use it for obedience training as rewards. Not only that they will LOVE working for it (it’s in their nature) but will create a lot of mental stimulation, fun, increase your bond with your furry friend and make commands / focus so much more reliable! Give it a try 🙂
Valid reasons why they might reject food:
* Dogs might refuse food when they are getting too distracted by noises, kids – set up his eating place in a quiet area, so he can eat undisturbed.
* Age or health can be an issue. If your dog’s lack of appetite is sudden or goes on for a while, especially if your friend is older, ask your vet if you can bring them in for an exam. If your dog is quiet, not themselves, or displaying any other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness or lethargy; or has not eaten at all for 2 days then you should seek veterinary attention.
* Dogs might also refuse food when they suffer of anxiety, mainly separation anxiety. Check for other symptoms such as: vocalisation, destructive behaviour when left alone, excessive salivation, elimination in unusual places, increased vigilance, pacing.
* Wild canines, (foxes and wolves), do not eat 2 or 3 meals a day. Their eating pattern revolves around food availability and they may not even eat every day. There appears to be a segment of the domestic dog population that simply eats when they feel like it. These dogs may simply not eat on the schedule we have chosen for them.
* It may be that the dog really does prefer a particular texture or flavour of food. For these dogs, once you identify what they like, stick with that formulation for consistency’s sake.
Recent studies suggest that they actually do have some colour vision—but it’s not as bright as a human’s. As it turns out, dogs have only 20% of the cone photoreceptor cells—the part of the eye that controls the perception of color—that humans have.
Behavioural tests suggest that dogs see in shades of yellow and blue and lack the ability to see the range of colours from green to red. In other words, dogs see the colours of the world as basically yellow, blue, and gray.
One amusing fact is that the most popular colours for dog toys today are red or orange. The problem, of course, is that red is difficult for dogs to see and may appear to them as a very dark brownish gray or even black.
So if your dog runs right past the toy that you tossed, he may not be stubborn. He’s probably just having a hard time discriminating it from the green grass of your lawn.
The colours easiest to identify are: Blue and Yellow.

Teaching a puppy or a dog proper socialisation skills is vital to the safety of both your dog and other dogs and people with whom he comes into contact.  A properly socialised dog is a happy dog, and a joy to be around for both humans and animals.  A poorly socialised dog, or one with no socialisation at all, is a danger to other animals, other people and even his own family.

Socialisation is best done when the puppy is as young as possible.  The socialisation lessons a young puppy learns are difficult to undo, and it is important to remember that the socialisation skills the puppy learns will affect his behaviour for the rest of his life!

A dog that is properly socialised will be neither frightened nor aggressive towards either animals or humans.  A properly socialised dog will take each new experience and stimulus in stride, and not become fearful or aggressive. 

Dogs that are not properly socialised often bite because of fear, and such a dog can become a hazard and a liability to the family who owns it.  Improperly socialised dogs are also unable to adapt to new situations.  A routine matter like a trip to the vet or to a friend’s house can quickly stress the dog out and lead to all sorts of problems.  

Socialisation is best done when the puppy is very young, perhaps around 10 weeks of age.  Even after 10 weeks, however, it is important that the puppy continues its socialisation in order to refine the all important social skills. 

It is possible to socialise an older puppy, but it is very difficult to achieve after the all important 12 week period has passed.

There are some definite do’s and don’t when it comes to properly socialising any puppy. 

Let’s start with what to do.  Later in this article we will explore what to avoid.

Socialisation DO’s

  • Make each of the socialisation events as pleasant and non-threatening for the puppy as possible.  If a puppy’s first encounter with any new experience is an unpleasant one, it will be very difficult to undo that in the puppy’s mind.  In some cases, an early trauma can morph into a phobia that can last for a lifetime.  It is better to take things slow and avoid having the puppy become frightened or injured.
  • Try inviting your friends over to meet the new puppy.  It is important to include as many different people as possible in the puppy’s circle of acquaintances, including men, women, children, adults, as well as people of many diverse ethnic backgrounds and ages.
  • Also invite friendly and healthy dogs over to meet your puppy.  It is important for the puppy to meet a wide variety of other animals, including cats, hamsters, rabbits, horses or others that he is likely to come across anyway later in life.  It is of course important to make sure that all animals the puppy comes into contact with have received all necessary vaccinations.
  • Take the puppy to many different places, including shopping centres, pet stores, parks, school playgrounds and on walks around the neighbourhood.  Try to expose the puppy to places where there will be crowds of people and lots of diverse activities going on.
  • Take the puppy for frequent short rides in the car.  During these rides, be sure to stop the car once in a while and let the puppy look out the window at the world outside.
  • Introduce your puppy to a variety of items that may be unfamiliar.  The puppy should be exposed to common items like bags, boxes, vacuum cleaners, umbrellas, hats, rubbish bins on wheels, lawn mowers etc. that may be frightening to him.  Allow and encourage the puppy to explore these items and see that he has nothing to fear from them.
  • Get the puppy used to a variety of objects by rearranging familiar ones.  Simply placing a chair upside down, or placing a table on its side, creates an object that your puppy will perceive as totally new.
  • Get the puppy used to common procedures like being brushed, bathed, having the nails clipped, teeth cleaned, ears cleaned, etc.  Your groomer and your veterinarian will thank you for this.
  • Introduce the puppy to common things around the house, such as stairs.  Also introduce the puppy to the collar and leash, so he will be comfortable with these items.

There are of course some things to avoid when socialising a puppy.

These socialisation don’ts include:

  • Do not place the puppy on the ground when strange animals are present.  An attack, or even a surprise inspection, by an unknown animal could traumatise the puppy and hurt his socialisation.
  • Do not inadvertently reward fear based behaviour.  When the puppy shows fear, it is normal to try to sooth it, but this could reinforce the fear based behaviour and make it worse.  Since biting is often a fear based behaviour, reinforcing fear can create problems with biting.
  • Do not force or rush the socialisation process.  It is important to allow the puppy to socialise at his own pace.
  • Do not try to do too much too soon.  Young puppies have short attention spans, and continuing lessons after that attention span has passed will be a waste of your time and your puppy’s.
  • Do not wait too long to begin.  There is a short window in which to begin the socialisation process.  A young puppy is a blank slate, and it is important to fill that slate with positive socialisation skills as early as possible.
When a dog bites or growls, many people wonder where this behaviour came from. There are actually a lot of behaviours dogs will show before biting to indicate upset, anxiety, and aggression. Many of us don’t recognise these small signs and then risk a dog bite or distressing your dog seriously.
Some dogs will indeed hide the mild and moderate signs as they might have been scolded before for displaying them, so they will learn to skip them as to avoid being told off.
This is why referring to the dog aggression ladder can be a lifesaver. You can identify your dog’s behaviour and when they are saying NO to a situation. Furthermore, you can see if your dog’s upset is mild or reaching severe levels.


  • Yawning: Although dogs can yawn on the odd occasion like us, it can also indicate aggression. Yawning repeatedly with often accompanied lick smacking (licking lips repeatedly). This is an early sign of a dog being overwhelmed.
  • Turning head: When your dog starts to turn their head away from you or from a certain stimuli. This is a coping mechanism for loud noises, or views that are distressing to them. They are physically trying to minimise the amount their senses are aware of or affected by this.
  • Turning body: When your dog starts to turn their body away from you or from a certain stimuli. Moving their body is one step above their head only movement because it’s positioning all parts of themselves away from the stimuli.


  • Walking: If something is bothering you, you will walk away. This is exactly the same with dogs. They will try to leave the environment, person, or stimuli that are bothering them.
  • Creeping: When a dog starts to get overwhelmed, fearful, or nervous, their movements may become smaller. They try to make themselves smaller so they are not noticed by whatever is upsetting them.
  • Crouching: This is another movement to appear smaller but is often a little more severe as this symbol may mean they are too afraid to move or are beginning to feel too trapped to move.
  • Lying down with their leg up: When dogs rest on their back with their legs up it can be a sign of submission due to fear or anxiety. This is not always the case so be sure to notice other behaviours to identify if this is through play or anxiety.


  • Stiffening: A dog’s body will stiffen when they are on the verge of aggression. This can be because of an adrenaline response or fear leading to a frozen position.
  • Growling: A clear sign that your dog wants to not be approached or to stop being touched. Snapping and biting are usually quick to follow after this.
  • Snapping: A dog will snap at you or whatever is bothering them as a sign to leave them alone. They may catch you with their teeth but often this is one bite in the air to warn you that they are serious.
  • Biting: A dog bite is when they intend to cause harm. This is at the top of the canine aggression ladder and can lead to a full attack.

What should you do if your dog is aggressive?

If your dog is aggressive you should contact a behaviourist immediately once you have ruled out injury and illness. You may want to go for a vet visit first, to check that your dog is well. After that, a behaviourist will be able to analyse your dog’s issues, past, and genetics to identify the cause. Then they can find a suitable treatment moving forward to minimise and eradicate that aggression.

Reactivity is most often a handler issue rather than a dog issue. It’s when the dog / handler bond competes with the environment, and the dog feels like having to make decisions for both of you.

House obedience and socialisation definitely help but DESENSITISATION and FOCUS is what many owners don’t do enough of.

As your dog is growing and becoming more confident, you’re now competing with environmental factors that stimulate the dogs a lot more than you do.

The more reactive they are and the more the other dogs  / people back off, the more they get reinforced to repeat the same behaviour.

Add your anticipation vibes of what’s going to happen when they react and you’d get an even more reactive dog.

Key points to work on:

  • Name focus and engagement – A MUST!
  • A strong LEAVE IT command
  • Desensitisation and counter conditioning
  • Leadership skills – keeping calm, correcting before the dog preloads, rewarding for keeping calm – timing is crucial.
  • Distance is your best friend. Work within your dog’s reactivity threshold and NEVER go over it.
  • Small steps, lots of patience and repetitions daily.
  • Reward dog heavily for being calm at closest possible range to another dog or person, reduce rewards as you increase distance to other dog.
  • Hence you form an association of … calm when close – pays off.
  • Make sure you use the right equipment for your dog: collars, leash, leash length, treats or toys.
  • Observe your dog’s body language – get someone to film you and your dog and replay to see changes in body language.
  • Have a management plan in place – be prepared for reactivity and know exactly what steps to take when you come across another dog or triggers.

Just remember that teaching a dog to stay focused on you is key to any training and the most important thing you can ever teach your dog!

You = the source of best things in their life.

Hope this will give you a good start in changing that 🙂



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