Guide to Albany
dog talk

A. In honor of National Kids & Pets Day on April 26, encourage your children to play with your dog in the fresh air and sunshine! Playtime enhances the bond between your two-legged and four-legged family members, too. Here are some outside games and activities to keep your dog and your kids healthy, happy, and safe. Always supervise children and dogs!


Keep your dog motivated with praise, belly rubs, favorite toys, or treats. If you do use treats, one way to keep your dog from gaining weight from too many snacks is to use some of his mealtime kibble to play the games. As with any activity, keep each session short and fun! It's better to end the game before your dog gets bored or overly excited.

FREESTYLE OBEDIENCE

Take your dog to a large enclosed area or fenced yard and have him follow your child around as he delivers instructions such as SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME. Give lots of praise when your dog completes the correct action. Move on to more advanced commands, such as BACK UP, JUMP over something, CIRCLE around, etc. Continue having your child walking around the area so that your dog has to focus his attention on the child!


BATTING PRACTICE

 

For a twist on traditional fetch, your child can grab a Wiffle bat and a dog-safe ball to hit across the yard and have your dog play outfielder--no glove required! Try not to hit another ball until your dog has brought the first all the way back to your child so that he learns he must return the item for the game to continue.


 

WET & WILD

 

Fill up a kiddie pool with water and encourage your dog to splash around. For even more fun, grab a hose and have your dog chase the stream of water in and out of the pool. Add some dog-safe shampoo to combine playtime and a bath. Be sure to include adult supervision and plenty of towels!


HIDDEN TREASURE

Start with your dog in a SIT/STAY, allowing him to smell a treat, then have your child hide it somewhere in the yard. Release your dog from the SIT and watch him explore to find it! As your dog masters the game, add a degree of difficulty by getting your child to hide a number of treats in advance. Favorite dog toys can be substituted for treats if your dog prefers them.


 
A: 

Dog parks can be a great way to socialize your dog, but can also be unsafe depending on the park.


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Keep in mind that not all dogs enjoy meeting new dogs. Don't let your dog get overwhelmed by meeting too many dogs at once. 

 

u    Be sure your dog is healthy and is up-to-date on all of his inoculations. Also, most parks only permit neutered and spayed dogs to enter.  

Consider visiting the park without your dog for the first time to familiarize yourself with the park and the dogs that play there. Before bringing your dog inside the park, spend a few minutes watching the other dogs and how they interact. If the dogs seem too rough for your dog, come back at another time or try a different dog park. 

 The first few visits to the dog park should be short, no longer than 15 minutes. Slowly increase the length of your stays as your dog becomes more comfortable.

Choose a time that is less busy for your first few visits to the park. Weekday evenings are peak, high-traffic times at dog parks, and weekends and holidays tend to be busy all day long.

Supervise your dog and don't get distracted while talking to other owners. Keep an eye on your dog at all times, watching his body language to help you avoid any trouble before it begins (and to clean up after him quickly!).

 

      Let your dog off leash as soon as you enter unleashed areas. Mixing leashed and unleashed dogs can create a hostile situation.

 Don't bring children with you to the dog park. You will not safely be able to watch your kids and your dog at the same time.  It's simply too easy for a child to get hurt at a dog park.

 

Puppies less than four months old aren't fully immunized yet and are at higher risk for contracting diseases. Leave your puppy at home.

 

Do not bring toys or food. Rewarding your dog with treats or giving him toys in front of other dogs can create jealousy and aggression.

 

Leave the park if your dog is being threatened or bullied and seems fearful; begins to display aggressive behavior by becoming overexcited or threatening toward other dogs; is panting heavily; or seems overly tired

DO NOT physically intervene in a dogfight. Never reach in to break up fighting dogs. 

Bringing your dog to the dog park is a great way to have him burn off energy and have fun with other dogs. However, if your dog is not able, for whatever reason, to go to the dog park, remember that you can have just as much fun with him by taking him on a walk or by playing fetch in your own yard.

A: Aggression is a behavior, not a temperament. It is very rare to find a dog that is born aggressive.

Not long ago, it was thought that any dog that showed aggression would be euthanized. Now we know that aggression can be caused by fear, adrenaline, or inappropriate education. The last of these can be caused either from another dog (if a dog's father was a bully, he will think bullying is a perfectly normal behavior) or a human being who, intentionally or otherwise, has taught the dog aggressive behavior. Sometimes it can be a combination of two, or even all three of these ingredients which has fueled the aggression.

The most prevalent single cause of aggression is fear. Fear causes more dog bites than the other two causes added together.

It can lead to a pre-emptive strike from the dog - "Don't you come near my mom!" or "Don't you come near me!" even when the approaching dog or human intends no harm.

Many dogs that show aggression are stressed and anxious. What stresses a dog the most is not knowing what is going to happen next. Dogs like routine, and when they follow a routine, they know what is going to happen. 

Obedience training can help give you the tools to establish a routine for your dog, such as having your dog to sit for his food, his leash, and to greet you and visitors. If you need assistance establishing a routine for your dog, or if your dog is showing signs of aggression, please do not wait until your dog bites someone before you begin to take some action. To locate a certified professional dog trainer in your area, click Association of Pet Dog Trainers.


A: The holidays are a busy time for most of us. Friends and family come and go, delicious aromas waft through the kitchen, deliveries are made to the door, and a general happy hubbub means that something special is going on. Your dog has no idea why this is happening, but he does know that he is VERY excited!

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Some dogs may love the change of pace. Other dogs find this to be a confusing and stressful time. Your normally placid dog may suddenly begin to exhibit unusual behaviors, such as stealing food, jumping up on people, or growling or snapping at visitors. You need to communicate to your dog that while his world may be different, you will continue to keep him safe and secure.

 

If your dog is already well-socialized dog, he is comfortable meeting and being with others. Insecure dogs, on the other hand, may lash out when they are in situations that make them uncomfortable.


Here are some suggestions to help calm your dog and keep everyone in the home safe during the active holiday season:

1. In a household with no children, dogs may not be happy when kids come to visit. The chaos created by grandchildren, for example, will raise the energy level in the house, causing the dog to stress out. Always supervise kids (especially very young children) and dogs when they are alone together. This is when most dog bites to children occur.


2. Dogs need to have their own safe place where they feel secure and calm. If your dog doesn't already have a place of his own, create one for him, such as a crate, pet carrier, or a room with the door closed. Direct your dog to go there when you need to set boundaries, especially if he is getting underfoot or begging for food.


3. Older dogs may not enjoy the extra hustle and bustle of the holiday season. They usually don't like their routine to be disrupted. Remind children to leave him alone. If your elderly dog gets cranky around guests, take him to his special quiet place.


4. A knock on the door can be a stimulating event for a dog. If he explodes with excitement at the sound of the doorbell, or sometimes dashes out the door and runs into harm's way, help him be calmer by exercising him prior to the arrival of guests. For everyone's safety, have him in a secure place or keep him on a leash when answering the door. Teach him to Sit and Stay on command, and don't open the door until he does so.


By anticipating how your dog might react to new activities and visitors, you can help ensure that everyone has a fun and safe holiday season.

A: Sure! Bringing your dog home for the holidays will definitely add to the fun. There's just a few things to keep in mind while you get your suitcase packed and gas in the car for the trip.

Although it hasn't been legislated yet, its only a matter of time before New York passes a law that dogs must be restrained while traveling in a car. It actually makes good sense to keep your dog safe by using a special seat belt harness that you can find online or in any pet supply store. Kurgo makes some of the best ones I've seen.

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If you don't already have ID tags for your dog, get one now! Even better, have him microchipped. This is a permanent form of identification, and helps ensure your dog is returned to you if he gets lost during the trip.

Who doesn't have a photo of their dog on their smartphone? Download the photo and print it out to make it easier for others to help you look for him should he gets lost.


Bring bottled water and your dog's own food and bedding. Familiar items will make him more comfortable and prevent stomach upsets as well.

And speaking of upsets, if your dog tends to get anxious or sick in the car, ask your veterinarian to recommend a medication.
 

Plan to stop every 4 hours or so to give your dog (and you!) a break. Always leash your dog before taking him out of the car.

Before leaving on your trip, and after you arrive, give your dog plenty of exercise. Exercise will help him be more relaxed and able to acclimate to his new surroundings.Enjoy spending time with your loved ones, especially since ALL of your family members - even the four-legged ones - are together for the holidays!
A: Probably. Your dog may have become used to having the whole family around. Suddenly, everyone is gone during the day!  Dogs are creatures of habit, and so any change in routine can affect them. Here are some suggestions for keeping your dog content - and out of trouble - when he is left alone for long periods of time.

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While dogs naturally sleep a lot during the day, when they wake up, they want something to do. Provide toys and activities that can keep your dog entertained, even when you're not at home. Some examples are:
  • Scatter food - Dogs are natural foragers who enjoy sniffing out food on the ground. Before you leave the house, scatter some dog kibble around the house. Hide a few special treats, too, so your dog spends extra time looking for them. Always provide fresh, clean water to keep your dog well hydrated.
  • Toys - Dogs love toys. Buy high-quality, virtually indestructible puzzle toys that hold treats like the KONG™ and Buster Cube™. Rotate the toys weekly or daily to give your dog something new and interesting.
With everyone away from the house all day, dogs left alone can become stressed and anxious. Sometimes this results in destructive behaviors and endless barking. To reduce the potential for separation anxiety, do the following:
  • Start early - A few weeks before the kids go back to school, get your dog used to being alone. For example, if you frequently take your dog with you to run errands, leave him at home instead.
  • Pay less attention to your dog  - About a week before school starts, pay increasingly less attention to your dog each day so it won't be a total shock when there is no one there to pay attention to him at all.
  •  Practice leaving the house - Go through the motions of leaving the house. Pick up your keys and go out the door, but then come right back in again. By removing the triggers that he associates with your leaving, you will help your dog him be more relaxed when you actually do go.
  •  When you leave - Don't soothe your dog by saying things like "Be a good boy, Max. I'll be home soon. I love you." Your sweet-toned voice might make him think it's okay to feel anxious. As difficult as it is to do, ignore your dog for 10-15 minutes before you leave.

Dogs need a safe place when left alone. Often, having the full run of the house makes them feel restless and unsettled. If your dog likes his crate, by all means, keep him in the crate while you are away. However, if your dog hasn't been crate trained, don't start training him the day the kids leave for school. That's too late and can actually add to his stress. Also, ask a friend or hire a pet sitter to come by to let your adult dog out to toilet if you are going to be away longer than 8 hours.

If your dog will be inside all day and is not housebroken or tends to chew inappropriate items, consider confining him to a small room, such as laundry or mud room, using a baby gate

Be aware that a child coming home from school may be greeted by an over-excited dog. After being left alone all day, the dog has pent-up energy. When he sees the kids, his excitement might cause him to become too exuberant.

  • Train the kids -  to avoid going right to the dog's area as soon as they get home. Kids should ignore the pet for several minutes to allow him to settle down. With young children, it is always safest to have a parent present to reduce the chance of a problem.
  • Train your dog - to understand what is acceptable and what is not. Have your dog Sit quietly to be greeted when anyone comes home. You will be rewarded with a more relaxed dog that is happy to see you and be reunited with his family.

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A: It's up to you to decide if your dog should swim in your pool (never in a community pool!). Many dogs like to swim, it's a great form of exercise and will help keep him cool during the hot summer months.   

It is up to you to keep your dog safe in pool, too.

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If your dog loves the water and sometimes jumps into the pool, make sure he knows how to get out safely. It is important to teach your dog where and how to get out of the pool, regardless of where he went in. 

To teach a dog how to get out of the pool, first attach a leash to his collar. Guide your dog into the pool using the steps. The dog will instinctively turn around and get out from the point of entry--the steps. Continue to walk your dog into the pool from the steps several times. Once he realizes that he can scramble out via the steps, have him jump into the pool from the other sides, and use the leash to guide him to the step area. Don't pull, just gently guide.

It may take awhile for your dog to orient himself to the steps in relation to the house, and to understand how to use the steps to exit the pool. Once he consistently uses the stairs, the danger of him drowning in the pool will be reduced. Practice as much as possible with your dog, especially with puppies. Don't let your dog get exhausted. He'll need a towel and shady place to rest after a swim, just like you do!

Keep an eye on your dog because swimming can be very tiring for a dog. Just like many dogs will chase a ball or Frisbee again and again until they nearly collapse, many dogs will continue swimming without any thought as to how tired they are. And unlike chasing a ball on land, they have no solid ground on which to rest.     

Remember that some - not all - dogs enjoy swimming. If your dog is reluctant or afraid of the water, don't force him into the pool. Make sure he has plenty of fresh cool water to drink, and consider providing a sprinkler or kiddie wading pool as an alternative to the family pool. Many a dog enjoys a romp through a sprinkler or will happily lie down in shallow water as a way to get through the dog days of summer.

 

 

A: Nowadays, many workplaces allow their dog-owning employees to make every day "Take Your Dog to Work Day." If you are one of these lucky people, here are some ideas to help your dog be a wonderful office companion. Take your dog to work day.jpg

Prepare yourself and your dog BEFORE introducing him to your fellow employees. The privilege of taking your dog to work depends on you, so be sure your dog is well-behaved and well-mannered.

The same rules and expectations you have at home for your dog apply at the office, too! Before you introduce your dog to the exciting and challenging environment of a shared workspace, be sure he is already in the habit of listening to you.


Know your dog's temperament. A dog that is shy and fearful around visitors in your home is probably not a good candidate to go with you to work.

Have a good sense of your dog's timing and toileting needs. Your supervisor or manager should be aware that you will need to take your dog out periodically. Of course, you will clean up diligently after your dog.

You should have excellent on- and off-leash control of your dog. He should respond consistently to basic commands such as "come," "stay," "leave it," and "kennel-up" or "go to bed." Your dog should also be able to ignore distractions, especially people (with or without their own dogs) passing by your workspace. Teach and test your dog's tolerance of distractions in your CGC.jpgfront yard or at a dog-friendly café or retail store--not at your workplace.

Consider working with your dog to achieve the AKC's Good Canine Citizen® designation, which has many of the requirements just listed. Visit akc.org or ask me! I am an AKC CGC Evaluator. 

Get an OK from your supervisor ahead of time to leave work early if your dog isn't ready to handle the new environment. If he becomes too stressed, overexcited or inhibited, it's best to just take him home. Do NOT opt to leave him in your vehicle while you continue to work.

If you have access to your office after hours, it may be helpful to bring your dog in for a "test run" where he can sniff around and get acquainted with the building and your work space in a calm, non-stressful environment. Make it a short, relaxed and pleasant experience so your dog will have a positive association with your office when you bring him in for a real workday.


Help your dog acclimate to the office by bringing a blanket, bed or crate from home. The familiar and comfortable smell will help him relax in his new environment.

Bring a leash to walk your dog from the car to your office, to take him outside for toileting, and to control him in the office. Even if your dog is used to being off leash, don't risk letting him go off leash in the unfamiliar surroundings of your workplace.

Bring some food or treats, his water bowl so he can stay well hydrated, and bags to clean up after toileting. Also, bring along food-based dog puzzle toys such as the Buster Cube® or KONG® products to help him pass the time.

To make things easier for you, set up all the new supplies a day or two before you bring your dog to work, so you won't want have to leave him alone right away to make a trip back to the car.

Put his bedding in your work area where your dog can feel secure (such as under or next to your desk) in a place that is out of the way of foot traffic. Teach your dog to stay there unless you invite him to do otherwise. Use a baby gate to block the doorway to keep him from wandering. Even a well-housebroken dog may mark or toilet in a hallway or unoccupied office.

Schedule break time to take your dog outside. If you must leave for a meeting, isolate your dog in a closed office or have a dog-familiar friend sit in until you return.

If you anticipate a particularly busy day, it may be best to leave your dog at home or elsewhere (such as at a doggie daycare) so that you can focus on your work. You don't want your dog to become stressed from being in a strange place without you for long periods of time.

If picking up a ringing phone and starting a conversation triggers your dog to bark or wander, set up learning opportunities to teach him that this is not acceptable behavior. Have a friend or co-worker call you, so you can teach without undue stress or neglect of your work responsibilities. You might also enlist a co-worker to walk by your workspace at a pre-arranged moment to teach your dog not to respond to such distractions.

Learn how to read your dog's body language around visitors to your office, especially those who are afraid of dogs. if your dog responds defensively to human fear, you should not leave him unsupervised in your workspace. Get help from a trainer at home.

JUNE 22, 2012 is TAKE YOUR DOG TO WORK DAY!

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A: Whether your dog is recovering from an injury, illness or surgery, follow the directions given to you by your veterinarian! It is important to look after his needs and ensure that he has time and space to recuperate.

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We feel sorry for our dogs, but remember that consistent rules and guidance are what our dogs need from us for a safe and speedy recovery.

Your dog will probably not have the same energy level as usual. He may want to sleep more. This is a normal reaction to illness or surgery. Think how you feel when you are ill or hurting! Help him heal by minimizing distractions such as children playing, visitors, and other pets. This could mean keeping him in a separate room, pen or crate. You might have to take him outside on a leash to do his business, or in some cases, carrying him out if walking is difficult for him. 

Spend time with your dog on a daily basis, stroking and gently grooming him. During that time, you can look for any changes in his skin or coat, unusual discharges or swelling from the injury. Check with your veterinarian to see if gentle massage is OK. This can increase circulation to any wounds and help in the healing process.

Keep track of his weight and let your veterinarian know immediately if your dog experiences any vomiting or diarrhea. Follow the guidelines provided by your veterinarian when giving any medication to your dog.

Bandages, splints, casts or other dressings may be required to help stabilize a healing fracture or surgical procedure and protect the wound from infection. Dressings can also provide protection from your dog's natural tendency to lick a wound. If your dog continually licks at or attempts to remove the dressing, distract him with a toy or treat, or consider a taste deterrent such as Grannick's® Bitter Apple.

Once you receive the go-ahead from your veterinarian, start your dog on his usual routine. Walking is a great way for you and your dog to reconnect. Go at a slow pace at first, building up his endurance. With your help and patience, he'll be feeling better in no time.

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A. Digging is a normal behavior for dogs but it can be made worse by boredom, stress, underground critters like moles or voles, heat, or in rare cases, a diet deficiency. Knowing this doesn't mean you have to live with those myriad holes in your yard!Digging dog2.jpg


Here are a few things you can try to persuade your digging dog not to excavate your lawn. Keep in mind that all dogs are different, so what works on one dog may not work on another. A combination of training, prevention and safe deterrents is the most effective approach.


  • Diet is an important factor. A healthy, balanced diet can assist in reducing the digging. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on nutrition.

  • A busy dog is a happy dog. Keep yours mentally stimulated with a variety of dog toys that he can play with independently. Food-based puzzle toys, like Kongs and Buster Cubes, are practically indestructible and don't require a human being to be used effectively, like a ball or a rope tug.

  • Try diverting your dog to an acceptable place to do his digging. Create a sandbox in a child's wading pool. Fill it with dirt, heavy duty dog toys, and some biscuits. Guide your dog there repeatedly so he gets the message. Be sure to locate the sandbox in a shady place where he can lie in it to cool off.
  • To deter your dog from the garden, you may need to fence to keep the most determined canines from exploring your vegetable seedlings. A spray of Bitter Apple over the ground can be effective with some dogs, too.
  • Don't reprimand your dog when you discover the holes. He won't connect your scolding with his digging, and you could inadvertently be discouraging him from coming when called.

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Rachel Baum,CPDT-KA

RACHEL BAUM, CPDT-KA is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and Red Cross Certified in Pet First Aid. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the International Association of Canine Professionals, and is recommended by local veterinarians and rescue groups, including Forever Home Greyhounds and the Capital District Humane Association. Rachel does Pre-Pet Counseling (assistance with choosing the right dog for your family), Welcome Puppy (in-home instruction on housebreaking, obedience, problem prevention, crate training) and Behavior Consultation (any dog, any age, any problem). Using dog-friendly techniques, Rachel can help owners establish a relationship with their dog based on love, trust and guidance. She can find solutions to potentially embarrassing problems like jumping up on people, nuisance barking, and pulling on the leash, as well as aggression, separation anxiety, housebreaking, and destructive behavior. Clients (or dogs) with special needs are welcome! Rachel is also available to speak to organizations, schools, or businesses about dog safety and dog behavior. She can be reached at 518-248-1781 or

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