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Hot dogs!

Hot dogs!

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You can help your dog stay cool this summer

5 tips to help your dog beat the heat

Summer heat can be hard on dogs. If your dog has a shorter than average muzzle (Boxers, bulldogs pugs, some Mastiffs) or thick, dark coloured coat, it’s even harder for him to stay cool when the weather is sweltering. Here are 5 easy tips that will help any dog keep his cool on these hot summer days.

1) Avoid car travel, unless it’s to a favourite swimming hole where you can both cool off! Never leave your dog in a car parked in the sun in the warmer months, even with the air conditioning on.

Almost all dogs enjoy a dip in cool water in summer heat

2) If you have to leave your dog in the car briefly, park in a really shady spot, taking note of where the sun is headed. Leave the windows open as much as is safe to keep your dog in and dog thieves out. Breeze Guard window screens are a great product that can be custom made to fit any vehicle and allow windows to be left fully open. The 1/4 inch powder coated steel mesh keeps him secure in the vehicle while keeping people out. If you want additional shade, (Aluminet) shade cloths have been proven to keep vehicle temperatures 10 degrees cooler than the exterior ambient temperature. These large (up to 10×20 feet) are draped over the vehicle to provide shade wherever you are.

3) Get a plastic wading pool for him to splash in. Simply fill with water, add toys, and let the fun begin!

4) Pupsicles. Pupsicles are a frozen treat your dog will love! They are easily made using a 1 litre yogurt pot, or even a medium sized mixing bowl. Simply fill about half way with a mixture of diced meat or hot-dogs , peas, blueberries and/or diced apple, and a small Nylabone, or other chew toy. Next fill the yogurt pot or bowl up with water or (if you want to get really rover the top) stock. Freeze for 4 hours or until it is frozen solid. When your pupsicle is completely frozen, you can run some warm water over the container to release it . Serve in a shady spot outdoors.

Jetstream cooling vest is great for helping active dogs stay cool in the summer heat

5) Cooling vests. Ruffwear Performance Dog Gear makes two styles of cooling vest: The Swamp dog cooling vest, a loosely fitted cooling vest suited for fluffier coats, and The Jet Stream cooling vest, more form fitted for dogs who partake in active summer fun. Each of these multi layered cooling vests performs by being soaked in cool water, and are then wrung thoroughly. The outer layer allows for cooling evaporation , the middle layer is absorbent and holds the cool water. The layer of fabric next to the skin is designed to wick moisture away from the skin, while allowing cooling vapours from the water to keep the dog’s skin significantly cooler than the ambient temperature.

Reactive Dog? Aggressive Dog? What’s the difference?

Reactive Dog? Aggressive Dog? What’s the difference?

Aggressive dog snarlingThe terms, “Reactive” and “Aggressive” are sometimes used interchangeably. Neither word defines the dog, but both words describe behaviour which is very often rooted in fear, and rarely, in dysfunctional social skills.

The only way to fix reactive dog behaviour permanently is to change the emotional response of the dog to the scary thing is by carefully applying a program of progressive counterconditioning and desensitization and having the dog practice self control through specialized interactive games. Changing reactivity to non reactive, calm behaviour requires changing the dog’s emotional response to a perceived threat, whether we are dealing with leash reactivity, resource guarding, or any other situation where the dog becomes aggressive.

Why not just correct the dog with a tug on a training collar, or another physical or verbal correction when he acts aggressively? There are several good reasons not to correct your dog for aggression. The first is that most dogs will figure out that when scary things approach, you become aggressive and confusing. This will stress a dog more, and the dog will often learn to associate the scary thing with stress and getting a physical correction. Then when you aren’t around, the aggressive behaviour tends to increase, and new anxiety related behaviour may show up. Science has shown that dogs who are trained through the use of corrections are more likely to show an increase in aggressive behaviour. Since the early 21st century, at least two published studies have found that dog aggression and anxiety behaviours increased when punitive training methods were used.** Meghan Herron and her colleagues from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reported in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science that using punishing techniques when training dogs tends to increase the aggression in the animals, rather than decreasing it.** Not surprisingly, dogs trained using corrections don’t learn as quickly as dogs trained using positive reinforcement with a scientifically designed training protocol. One study even found that most owner directed aggression would cease when the dog owner stopped using physical corrections in training.

The only long term, effective approach to training a reactive dog is always to use a counterconditioning and desensitization protocol.

How long will it take? The time it takes to thoroughly fix any behaviour problem depends on the individual dog, owner compliance to the training program, and how many times the behaviour has repeated itself successfully before the training program began. While improvement is typically seen after the first session, each repetition of the new, calm behaviour will help to make the threat response disappear for good. It can take up to 3 months of practicing controlled repetitions before the new, confident, controlled and relaxed emotions are solid enough to be reliable.

** Dog Training Methods: Their Use, effectiveness and interaction with dog behaviour and and welfare, EF Hibey et al, Journal of Animal Welfare (2004)
**Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors Meghan E. Herron *, Frances S. Shofer, Ilana R. Reisner, Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour (2009)