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Dog Training 411

posted April 15th, 2008 by
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Story by Mary Green

QMy male 8 month old bulldog seems to be like Oscar the Grouch when meeting new dogs. I went to visit a friend and meet her three-month old female bulldog and my bulldog growled at her and nipped her on the face. Then we were standing at the checkout buying dog food and an adolescent boxer pup came in and  my bulldog growled at him. My bulldog is so sweet at home. He loves all my children and always wants to be near me. We have a male Maltese who is neutered and they get along just fine.  I really must learn how to teach my bulldog to be kind and tolerant of animals.  

AThere are a lot of dogs that get along well with the dogs in their own family, but do not readily welcome outsiders.  The fact that he gets along with your Maltese is not necessary indicative of his sociability with other dogs.  It is good that he loves your children, but there are many dogs that love “their” children but may not love visiting children.  

Maybe when you were introducing your bulldog to the three-month old bulldog puppy, she came on too strong!  He may have been well within his rights to correct her.  He may have given her a warning that she didn’t heed.  He may have been more interested in exploring a new environment than meeting a new prospective friend.  It could be that when the young boxer came up to say “hi” your dog was minding his own business and was just telling the boxer to keep its distance.  Lots of adult and even adolescent dogs are not tolerant of puppies invading their space and coming on too boldly.

In order to increase your dog’s tolerance to other dogs, be careful not to force your bulldog to make friends.  It may be best to meet new friends in a neutral setting.  Use the leash for safety, but be careful not to telegraph your tension with a tight leash.  Try not to let visiting dogs overstay their welcome.  Be sure your dog has an escape route, or a place he can go to be alone.  

Do not punish, scold, reprimand, or correct him if he growls at another dog.  You never want to erase the growl; it is a warning sign that your dog is uncomfortable!  Instead, practice at a safe (comfortable) distance away from the other dog, and feed your dog something wonderful.  Instead of your bulldog becoming anxious or nervous at an approaching dog, he can learn that the presence of another dog means really yummy treats coming his way.  Say something like, “Look, Buddy!  Here comes a lovely boxer!”  Your jolly voice can convey the message of “all is well,” instead of a harsh “No Growling.”  Teaching your dog a cue that means to look at you is effective in breaking the eye contact that can often trigger an aggressive action between dogs. 

The behavior your dog is showing now at eight months could well be related to his early socialization experiences.  “Dogs have a sensitive period for socialization between the ages of 3 and 12 weeks. This means that pleasant exposures to people, other dogs and other animals during this time will have long-lasting influences on the sociability of your dog. Well socialized dogs tend to be friendlier and less fearful of the kinds of individuals they were socialized to.”1  

Still, that early experience should not be the end of your dog’s socialization.  There are lots of dogs that as puppies were well socialized and got along well with other people and dogs, and began showing fear or aggression later in their adolescent stage.

Whether or not your bulldog was adequately socialized to dogs as a puppy, you are right to take measures to help him become tolerant of other animals, and more dog-friendly, even if he does not want to be best friends!

QMy poodle, Chloe, is really a great dog except when I am on the phone.  If I stay on the phone for too long (in her opinion) she starts to get into trouble.  She will steal things and chew them up, or bark and carry on.  This can be very annoying.

AThat behavior would come under the category of Attention Seeking.  She knows that when you are distracted, she can engage in some naughty behavior that you can’t possibly ignore.  We have had good success using a “go to your place” cue and teaching the dog to stay on her mat while you are doing your activity.  Teach her to go to her mat by luring her with a treat a few times, then tossing a treat to the mat as you tell her to go to her mat, until you can say “Chloe, go to your mat” and she will go directly there, and you give her a reward.  To get her to stay on her mat while you are on the phone, have a supply of chew toys handy so that you can keep her interested in staying there.  She would not otherwise have access to these special chews.

1.  Socialization: It Isn’t Just for Puppies by Daniel Estep, Ph.D. and Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D. 

She’s a Winner

posted April 15th, 2008 by
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Story by Pat Atkinson

Roxanne Scratches Up Lotto Fame, Fortune

Roxanne is a Lucky Dog and that makes her lucky for lottery players.

Hand over a buck for a “scratcher” Lucky Dog card and odds are that one time in 10 you’ll draw a ticket picturing this fluffy gray and white Alaskan Malamute.  Scratch off the paw prints for a chance at winning up to $1,000.

Vickie and Michael Chamberlain, Owasso residents and life-long Oklahomans, are Roxanne’s people, proud parents of their famous 5-year old big girl.

Vickie, art teacher at Collinsville Middle School, and Michael, owner of Printed Products, are regulars at the lottery game, one way they support education in the state.  

A few months ago, they read about the Lucky Dog contest on the Oklahoma lottery web site.

“When I saw they were advertising a Lucky Dog contest, I sent in pictures of both our dogs, Roxanne and Raider,” Vickie recalls.  Both dogs pictured in a snow scene, “I really thought Raider would win since his photograph was better.”  Raider’s the younger, more laid-back guy Malamute in the family.

As word spread, thousands of Oklahomans entered their dogs.  “There were pages and pages of the contestants on the web site,” Vickie says.

Then came the phone call – Roxanne’s now one of 10 selected for rotation on the cards.  Each dog’s face is portrait-style above nine paw print scratch-offs, which uncover winning amounts ranging from a free ticket to cash of $1 to $1,000.  Three like amounts and that’s what holders win.

“Of course, Rox is the best looking of every 10 cards produced,” Michael proudly notes.  “These two dogs are like our kids and both are from champion bloodlines.”  

Malamutes are large, powerful sled dogs – each about 130 pounds — often called teddy bears because they are soft, fluffy, friendly and love attention.  

Roxanne is daddy’s girl, according to Vickie, and Michael says her favorite activities are going for walks, tummy rubs and watching TV’s “Animal Planet.”

Raider is Vickie’s boy, nicknamed “Refrigerator Raider.”  She says he’s never met a food he didn’t like!

Roxanne is the socialite of the two, fitting for her top dog role.  Raider’s the home guy who lets Roxanne fill the paws of alpha dog in charge of their world.  Both are talkers, typical of their breed, preferring a large vocabulary of “woo, woo, woo” sounds to barking.

“Roxanne will tell you when she wants you to pet her, pay attention, come to her.  She summons you,” Michael says.

The state lottery web site says the Lucky Dog scratchers have sold $3.3 million and paid out $255,557, with about $54,300 remaining in prizes.

That’s a lot of fame and fortune for both dog and card-holders.   

“Our lives have been enriched with these dogs,” Vickie says.  “Our (human) families were grown and gone by the time Michael and I met, so we’re empty-nesters.  These dogs are our babies.”

Lucky dogs, lucky people, winners all around.

Lending a Paw – Meals on Wheels for Pets Too

posted April 15th, 2008 by
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Tulsa’s Meals on Wheels organization tested its newest program with one paw and soon was in it with all fours. About two years ago, high school 4-H Club member Kimberly Baab and friends helped Meals on Wheels staff develop the Meals 4 Paw Starz program, delivering meals to pets of homebound people.
“We started the pilot, then we were in on all four feet,” says Dan Rabovsky, MOW’s executive director. “It has had a wonderful response from homebound people and volunteers have stepped forward to do it.” MOW, one of Tulsa’s largest volunteer undertakings, prepares and delivers 1,000 meals to homebound people daily.

“We began noticing that some homebound people were sharing the meal that we delivered with their pet because they had no other resource to feed them, really,” he explains.  “We were concerned because people were giving up their own important nutrition to the pet, which was not necessarily the most nutritious food for the pet, either.” Once monthly a pet food brigade of volunteers gathers at one distribution location to handle inventory, purchasing, repackaging and delivery of pet food to 35 homebound people with pets.

Receiving these special deliveries are 29 dogs, 30 cats, one turtle, and several birds. All food is re-packaged from large sacks into small bags of daily servings.  “Many people are unable to lift or maneuver a big bag of food and this makes it much easier for them,” Rabovsky says. The food for pets and all of Meals on Wheels programs are supported by donations from individuals and businesses.  Care-taking for the pets has expanded to include special treats in delivery bags and during the holidays pets have received gift bags of toys, treats, beds and more.  For information and to support the pet food program, visit  www.mealsonwheelstulsa.org.

Story by Pat Atkinson

Cat Lovers Beware – Lilies are Toxic

posted April 15th, 2008 by
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Story by Sarah Freundenthal

This is the story of “Stanley,” a handsome cat in every way.  

I first laid eyes on him four years ago while I was working as a Registered Veterinarian Technician at a local veterinary clinic.  He was an abandoned kitten who needed a home.  He soon became a member of our family which at the time consisted of one dog and two other cats. 

When my husband and I found out that we were pregnant with our first child we were a bit concerned about how the animals would adjust.  Twenty weeks into my pregnancy I found out that I hadcomplications which caused me to be on bed rest.  The days were long and boring but Stanley rose to the challenge of keeping me entertained.  He would bring me toy mice (sometimes in the middle of the night) and want me to play with him.  He was notorious for curling up at my head to help lull me to sleep with his purring.  After seventeen weeks of this, our son was born and the concerns we had with the introduction of him had vanished.  All the animals took to his addition well, especially Stanley.  He loved to curl up with his little infant toes and as my son grew older he accepted everything from tail yanking to hair pulling.  Just recently I caught my son basking with him in the sun.

It was Valentine’s Day and my husband sent me flowers to my work.  They didn’t show up, but were surprisingly delivered to my house that night.  It was a lovely bouquet with some greenery and several types of flowers including just three large tropical looking pink and white lily blossoms.  I try not to keep flowers and plants in the house because the cats like to eat them, so I wasn’t surprised to see a small portion of leaf eaten off of one of the lilies.  To keep the rest of the flowers from being eaten, I moved the bouquet into the garage so I could take it to work with me the next day.

A few hours later Stanley vomited, which didn’t concern me, as I knew that eating foliage of certain types of plants could sometimes cause gastric upset.  What did concern me however, was that Stanley didn’t eat dinner that next night.  By the next day he was very lethargic and stayed in the playroom behind a chair.  He stayed there until I took him to the vet.

After a complete physical exam and blood work diagnostics we found that his kidney blood values and electrolytes were extremely elevated.   He was treated with intravenous fluids and after he received a small bag it was determined that his kidneys were not producing urine.  I knew the prognosis for complete kidney shut down was not in his favor.  It was decided to take him into emergency exploratory abdominal surgery to be sure just what was going on. 

The exploratory revealed that his kidneys were unsalvageable.  A normal kidney is a rich red brown color and his were completely white!  His bladder was totally empty, indicating that his kidneys were producing no urine.   At that point I had to make the decision that no pet owner wants to make.  It was time to let him go peacefully, euthanasia was the only humane answer.  He had already gone through enough and there was no way he would survive without functioning kidneys. 

When I got home that night my son, who is now two, said to me, “Stanley sick.”  I had to put on a smile and tell him that Stanley wasn’t sick anymore, that he had gone to Heaven.

It is generally well known that Easter lilies are toxic. A quick look through the toxicology book shows that all species of lilies should be considered toxic and deadly to cats.  Even the smallest amount of ingestion, of any part of the plant, leaves, stems or flower, can be enough to kill.  Only a few hours after consuming the plant, the cat may start to vomit and without immediate veterinary intervention and treatment the cat may go into kidney failure and die.

If your cat does happen to eat any of the lily plant, seek veterinary care immediately.  As of now, there have been no reported cases of this in dogs, the only concern man’s best friend has is an upset tummy.

Stanley was not only a pet, but a member of our family.  He helped me through my difficult pregnancy and was a best friend to my son.  We were blessed to have him with us, even if it was only for four short years.  There is not a day that will go by that I won’t think of his death and how it could have been prevented.  If I know that his story can save the fate of at least one cat, then my family and I can finally be at peace.

Is Your Corgi Covered by Car Insurance?

posted April 15th, 2008 by
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Many of you have seen the television ads by Progressive Insurance touting that they are providing collision coverage for your pet – up to $500 – if Fluffy or Fido is injured or dies in a car accident.  And while this is not an endorsement of any particular company, my initial reaction was “Wow, that’s great – and they do it for no extra premium!”

Then the legal side of my brain kicked in and I began wondering why pets were not already covered.  As pet lovers know, the law treats dogs and cats as personal property.  If my beloved briefcase or favorite shoes were in my car at the time of the accident, wouldn’t they be covered?  Yes, but probably under my homeowner’s insurance, subject to my deductible and assuming the item of personal property was not excluded (such as electronics) or covered only with a special rider (like jewelry).  Typically, auto insurance coverage – liability and collision – will cover the insured person’s damage to his or her vehicle in an accident, the damage to the other person’s auto or property if the insured was at fault, as well as medical bills, all up to the maximum stated in the policy and subject to the deductible.  At this point in time, only Progressive is covering pet injuries – dogs and cats only – under their auto policy, in hopes of distinguishing their company in a highly competitive market.

So why don’t other companies offer this coverage?  The jury is still out as to what this will cost Progressive and whether it attracts new customers to offset these costs.  At the time of this article, the local office had not had any pet claims yet submitted.  In our informal and totally unscientific telephone polling done as part of the preparation of this article, only Geico admits that they are looking into offering something similar (like what else is a company with a gecko spokes“person” going to say).  Allstate, Farmers and State Farm all said pets were not covered.  Interestingly, dogs, cats and pets are generally excluded from home-owner’s coverage as “property,” although most homeowner’s policies do cover instances where the pet has caused injury to a person or someone else’s property.  You should not just assume that this is the case, however.  I was surprised to discover that about one third of all homeowner claims involve dog bites so companies are beginning to refrain from selling insurance to households with dogs or to persons who have certain breeds of dogs, or they are starting to exclude damages from dog bites from their coverage altogether.  Since there is no “standard” form of policy – and they vary even between people with the same company – each person must review his or her own policy to see what is covered and what is excluded.

One of the companies we spoke with – State Farm – said that if you have “appraised” animals, such as show dogs or pedigreed breeder stock, you can obtain coverage under the “Personal Articles” portion of a homeowner’s policy, but indicated that, in general, pets were not covered.

Keep in mind, this Pet Injury coverage is different from general pet insurance which is basically health insurance for your pet.  With pet insurance, you purchase a health policy from a company and then submit the vet bills when your pet has a covered illness or procedure, and they reimburse you, less the deductible.  Depending on how you view the world, the Pet Injury coverage offered by Progressive Insurance elevates your dog or cat to a “semi-person” or an extension of your automobile, up to a value of $500.

My opinion of all of this is that all automobile insurance companies should cover pets while they are being transported in your family vehicle, regardless of whether you view them as fuzzy children or personal property that eats.  If Progressive’s campaign is successful, you will see other companies falling in line.  However, insurance is like all other businesses – they will only provide a service if they know that such coverage is desired and only we can make them aware of this fact.

Story by D. Faith Orlowski

Liberty aka Libby aka Libby Dibby Doo

posted April 15th, 2008 by
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Story by Catherine Tatum

My eyes are slow to focus so I wasn’t sure if I really saw a strange dog in the backyard.

My friends and neighbors know I rescue dogs and cats so it is not unusual to find a stray in my yard. Later, I thought I saw the dog again, but when I opened the kitchen door she was gone.

After watching several times, her curiosity won over her shyness and she slowly approached when called. Obviously, from the behavior of Lucy, Lady and Lucky, she was no stranger.   The four frolicked like children tumbling across the yard.

She stayed for dinner that evening and later went home through an opening in the fence. As I was leaving a few days later, there she was in the utility room “chowing down.”

Soon we had a routine. At her house, she was not allowed on furniture, but she knew she could get by with murder at my house.  She was here when she heard my garage door go up, spending afternoons lounging on the sofa or on my bed. She and Lucky competed for favorite spots.

They snuggled together, romped in the den and ran through the house like hooligans forcing me to watch out for flying dog feet.

Did I mention the doggy door?

One evening I was in bed and heard the doggy door flap open and close.  She trotted in, stepped onto the bed, curled up next to me and spent the night.

I called my neighbors the next morning to let them know we’d had our first “sleepover.”  She ate breakfast with my kids, then trotted home.

A social girl, she wanted to be in the action. When her family was home, she was there, obeying all the rules of that household, and when they were gone, she was with us in our undisciplined home.

My dogs barked enthusiastically when she was on the front porch. I’d open the door and in she’d run, straight to the kitchen and the cookie jar, then settling in for a nap.

She could be naughty, taking and probably burying items in the backyard — a Baccarat bunny, an Arthur Court magnifying glass.

Libby was a dear stepdog and I loved her as one of my own. She was always welcome here and stayed with us when her family vacationed. What a treasure. Loved by her family, my family, the dog sitters and neighbors. She will be missed.

I returned from a short trip and my dog sitter told me the sad news. I cried then and the next morning when I called her “mom” Susan to offer my condolences, we cried together. I’m crying now as I write her story.

Libby, a lovely, social and special golden retriever who slipped through the fence and into my heart will be remembered forever.