Pet Parenting: My dog is itching like crazy

petparent6-no-sponsorDear Denise,

My dog is itching like crazy, but he doesn’t have fleas and I’m not seeing any obvious problems on his skin. All that scratching is making him — and us! — a little crazy. Any idea what could be wrong?

Dear Mama:

I generally don’t like to answer questions that appear to be about health, as I am not a vet, and your personal vet is an excellent resource for addressing the health of your animal. However, it seems I get this question pretty frequently, especially in the winter.

itchy dogYour problem could stem from a variety of things. It could be allergies (food, environment, fleas- even one bite is enough to set off a reaction in an allergic dog), dry skin, or maybe you didn’t rinse all the shampoo out of the coat last time your dog had a bath.

If it’s allergies, you’ll probably need your vet to help you solve that one. If it’s a bad rinse, then a more thorough rinsing followed by a second rinse with vinegar and water may help remove any soap residue.

If it’s dry skin, there are a number of things you can try. A coat conditioner, either after a bath or between, some sort of coat enhancing supplement available at pet stores or through your vet, or you can try adding a little bit of oil (olive, sunflower, safflower, coconut) to your pet’s food each day to up the intake of essential fatty acids.

My dog, Henri, gets a little bit of coconut oil most days just because I love him. You could also try a raw or poached egg twice a week, as eggs are a great source of amino acids, which are also good for the skin. If you go the oil or egg route, you should see some relief in a few weeks. If you don’t, you probably need to investigate allergies as a likely culprit and make an appointment with you vet.

Happy Holidays!

Denise HolmesDenise Holmes loves animals and considers it her life’s work to help pets and their people live together in harmony. She trains pets through her business, Ain’t Misbehavin’ Pet Behavior Counseling. Denise also developed a product just for brand-new moms that’s available at some retail outlets around NWA. It’s a CD called My New Best Friend and features actual newborn baby sounds and is designed to help introduce the family pet to a new baby.

Pet Parenting: Finding a great dog for your kids at the local animal shelter

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It’s time for another installment of Pet Parenting! Local pet behavior counselor, Denise Holmes, who owns a local private counseling business Ain’t Misbehavin’, answers your most perturbing pet problems here.

The latest question:

Q: “We’ve decided to adopt a dog from the animal shelter. What’s the best way to introduce my 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son to our new family pet?”

A: I’d encourage you to involve your children in the adoption process. First, visit the shelter alone (kids tend to want every dog they see). Be sure to ask which animals are child friendly and only consider those.

weenie-tootsiedscn2762Select two or three dogs that you like, visit with them privately (out of their kennels). Check for things such as pain tolerance (pull the tail, poke his nose — gently, please), food/toy aggression, and restraint tolerance (give him a hug). Once the candidates get past these, it’s time to introduce the kids.

Let the kids meet each of the dogs you think might be appropriate and see who warms up to them. Hopefully, one of them will stand out and that’s YOUR dog.

Once home, be sure your pet has a secure place of his own and explain to the kids that this is “Rover’s Room” and they have to respect his space. I’d also involve the kids in his training and feeding so that the dog learns to respect them as part of the pack, and I’d start training as soon as possible.

Find a trainer who will work with you AND your children. Even the youngest is old enough to give simple commands such as sit, or play a game like fetch. These are important bonding exercises that will help everyone understand how to get along with one another.

Denise HolmesDenise Holmes loves animals and considers it her life’s work to help pets and their people live together in harmony. She trains pets through her business, Ain’t Misbehavin’ Pet Behavior Counseling. Denise also developed a product just for brand-new moms that’s available at some retail outlets around NWA. It’s a CD called My New Best Friend and features actual newborn baby sounds and is designed to help introduce the family pet to a new baby.

*Special thanks to Fayetteville mom, Carolyn, for the picture of her adorable dachshunds, Weenie and Tootsie.

 

Pet Parenting: How do I keep my neighbor’s dog out of my yard?

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Dear Denise,

My neighbor’s dog is constantly coming into my yard and causing my dog to bark like crazy from inside the house. It drives me nuts. I like my neighbor and his dog, but not the situation. Is there anything I can do to discourage the dog from coming into my yard? Besides asking my neighbor not to let his dog out, of course! :)

Dear Mama:

If you live within the city limits, there is very likely a leash law stipulating that dogs must be confined in a fenced area or on leash. Filing an anonymous complaint is probably your best bet.

There are spray deterrents, but those are usually recommended for gardens and small areas, not the perimeter of entire yards. So, I don’t think it would work for your situation. I also suspect that your dog will bark anytime the neighbor’s dog is within sight, even if it’s not in ‘your’ yard. My dog, Henri, thinks he owns the sidewalk, too! Unfortunately, this isn’t a training issue; this is more a good neighbor issue.

I would suggest that you try to talk with your neighbor. If he does not have a fenced yard, perhaps suggest some sort of tethering system. A trot line between two trees and attached to a harness would be a safe and inexpensive alternative.

Another, less expensive alternative, would be an electronic system. It doesn’t have to be one of those high-dollar underground kind. There is a system that mailboxconsists of a box kept indoors, that establishes a 360 perimeter from the box. The owner sets the distance.

If you aren’t comfortable confronting your neighbor, then we are back to square one…reporting it. You could always stick one of my cards in the mailbox as a friendly suggestion. He might take the hint ;-)

I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help on this one. Good luck.

Denise

Denise HolmesLove. Trust. Teach. CDP, Inc
www.LoveTrustTeach.com
“You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Pet Parenting: My cat won’t stay off the counter!

Dear Denise,

My cat won’t stay off the kitchen counter and it’s driving me crazy. I’ve tried using a spray bottle filled with water, but it does not seem to faze her. She gets down at the time, but gets right back up when I turn my back. Any other ideas for keeping her on the floor?

Thank you!

Dear Mama:

double sided tapeAs you’ve already discovered, punishment doesn’t work too well in this situation, and that is because the punishment is coming from you. If you aren’t there, nothing bad happens.

The solution to your problem is two-fold. First, you need to make you counters less attractive. In fact, make them super-no-fun at all. I’d suggest double stick tape. I know it’s a little inconvenient for you, but it should work.

When kitty jumps on the counter and her feet stick to it, she won’t like it. Just run a few strips across the counter when you leave the house. You can remove them when you get home, and you should only need to do it for a couple of weeks to instill the notion that the counter is sticky.

cat treeNext, you’ll need to make sure she has an alternative.

Do you have a high place that she IS allowed to be? If not, create one. You can do this in a number of ways, but the easiest might be to get a cat tree of some sort, and if possible, put it in the kitchen (at least for a little while), maybe by a window.

Then treat the tree with some Feliway pheromone spray, or rub it down with catnip if she likes that. That should attract her, and combined with the new yuckiness of the counter, she should prefer the new spot to the old one.

Good luck!

Denise

Denise HolmesLove. Trust. Teach. CDP, Inc
www.LoveTrustTeach.com
“You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Pet Parenting: That dog won’t stop barking!

Dear Denise,

My dog barks all day long and I’m worried my neighbors are getting annoyed. What anti-bark techniques or devices would you recommend? What about the sonic devices? I’m a little desperate.

Thank you!

Dear Mama:

Barking dogs can be a real barrier to harmonious neighborhood living. Thank you for recognizing that. I get asked all the time by my own clients how they can stop a neighbor’s dog from barking.

The easy answer to that question is to recommend a device that works. I really like the ultra sonic devices. They emit a noise only the animal can hear, so it doesn’t disturb the neighbors further. The noise is also emited when the dog barks, so it’s immediate and easily associated with the barking behavior.

I don’t really like shock collars, and oftentimes, the dogs either get used to the citronella spray, or the collar rotates and doesn’t target the face like it should.

dogwaggingtailUse one of these devices if you must, but I urge you to also try to address the reason for the barking. Some dogs bark for no reason, but very few. I’d look for reasons.

Is your dog getting enough exercise? Just because he’s outside in the yard all day, doesn’t mean he’s getting exercise. Does he get walked regularly? Regular walks can solve a multitude of problems.

Does he have things to do in the yard? Not just toys, but things that engage him. A kong stuffed with something yummy, a place to dig and find cool things (I have instructions for a digging hole on my facebook page), or even a tether ball tied to a tree, can give bored dogs something to do besides bark.

Another option is an occasional visit to daycare. Even just once or twice a week could be a nice change of pace, and most dogs come home from daycare very tired.

I really encourage you to address this behavior from both ends. Obviously, you need to stop the barking, or at least minimize it, but it isn’t fair to punish your dog for being a dog. Make sure your dog is being physically and mentally stimulated in such a way as to alleviate boredom. You may discover that the barking will diminish on its own when that energy is redirected.

Good luck,

Denise

Denise HolmesLove. Trust. Teach. CDP, Inc
www.LoveTrustTeach.com
“You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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