Pawsibilities NY

Month: January 2013

The Things You Shouldn’t Share with Your Dog

There are a lot of things in our environment that can be very hazardous to dogs. A lot of us have heard that chocolate is bad for dogs, but what else is on this list, and what can you do if your dog does ingest a poison? Hopefully this will help you to better understand those things that you need to keep far away from your dog, and what to do if your training and management fail.

It is a very good idea to teach your dog a formal “leave it” command. To me this means a command that teaches your dog the behavior of turning his head away, or backing away from an item that he will never get. This is not a parlor trick where you will release the “leave it” and allow your dog to “take” the item. If you have taught “leave it” this way, I would just teach the behavior the way I have described with a different command.

Human medications can be very hazardous to your dog. Ibuprofen, and antidepressants are just two examples of drugs that can be very dangerous. I find it is best to take any medications behind a closed door with your dog on the other side! Management is the safest way to deal with medications as your dog can dive for, and ingest a pill more quickly than a box of cookies.

Be very careful when applying your dog’s flea and tick prevention! If you have a small dog be very careful not to use a dose for a dog that is much larger, or be cautious not to use the entire vile if you are on the lower end of the suggested weight. Also be very careful about placement of the oil, use a fine tooth comb to separate the hair directly between your dog’s shoulder blades so you can get as close to the skin as possible. Be careful about petting the area, especially if you have children! Discard the empty vile by placing it a plastic bag, one of your dog’s poopy bags can be a good option, tying it tightly in a knot and bringing it directly to an outdoor trash. Don’t risk your dog getting into the garbage and eating this!

Some seemingly healthy foods are very dangerous for dogs. Avocados can be deadly, they contain persin which acts as a poison causing vomiting and diarrhea. Grapes, raisins, milk, onions, garlic cloves, and macadamia nuts are all to be avoided as well. When cooking with any of these foods, chocolate too, I find it best to block your dog out of your kitchen, or use your leash to tether him away from the area. This way if you drop something it will not cause him any harm. If he cries or begs then try a food stuffed toy, you can read more about food stuffed toys in my previous blog: The Kibble-Dispensing Toy Comparison. Some foods that aren’t too healthy for us can cause more problems for our dogs, such as alcohol, coffee, caffeine, and xylitol or artificial sweeteners, these are all to be avoided!

The products you use to clean your home can also be very hazardous to your dog. Some may seem obvious like nail polish remover, drain cleaner, and bleach, but others may be more surprising to you. PineSol and any pine cleaners are very bad for your dog. Laundry detergents can be very dangerous because they can have sweet smells that attract your dog, and can cause seizures if ingested. I would highly recommend cleaning your home while your dog is out, perhaps on a park run, or if nothing else, at least removed to another room. Also use caution when discarding and storing batteries, as a strong chewer could try to make toys of them and they are also poisonous! Finally human toothpaste can be deadly! Be careful with toothpaste, store it in a place your dog definitely cannot get to it, and throw it out directly outside when you have finished a tube! Only use pet approved tooth pastes when brushing your dog’s teeth.

You will also want to use caution when choosing flowers and plants for your home. Lilies, tulips, and azaleas can be dangerous for your dog. If you can’t place these plants out of your dog’s reach, then eliminating them from your home will be the safest way to deal with this. You can also teach you dogs to leave the plants alone, but it will be best to train this behavior with plants that are not poisonous, for obvious reasons!

Finally you want to use caution when choosing your dog’s food, treats, and toys. Keep an eye out for any recalls linked to your dog’s food as these happen. When choosing toys, don’t always choose the least expensive, even if your dog is very destructive. In fact the cheaper toys usually contain more sub par materials so when torn apart or ingested can be even worse for your dog. Tennis balls can cause problems for dogs for many reasons. Tennis balls and other toys that can be crushed or smushed, run the risk of reinflating in your dogs mouth or throat which can cause choking. Also a chewed up tennis ball is not made of good materials so remove it before your dog eats it! Be very cautious of treats made in China. Waggin’ Train Treats are also to be completely avoided, if you can find them, as the company has voluntary removed them from stores, but they have been responsible for many dog related deaths. Be cautious of other similar jerky type treats, such as Dogswell’s jerky treats. Always read the directions on your dog’s food and treats! Some treats will include an proper amount over a certain time, don’t over do it!

If you think your dog has ingested a poison, but you are not sure, you should contact a veterinarian immediately. The Animal Medical Center in New York City is open 24 hours:, and the ASPCA offers a poison control hotline: (888) 426-4435. There is a $65 consultation fee for this service. If you have seen your dog ingest a poison and can react fairly quickly to this, then you can give your dog 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. This will cause vomiting, and hopefully will cause your dog to vomit up the poison. I like to do this somewhere I don’t mind if my dog throws up and I begin to give him one capful of the peroxide until he begins to vomit. Be sure to give him plenty of water once he has thrown up.

The ASPCA’s center for poison control reports that their most common poison calls are for dogs who have ingested medications. Don’t let this be you! It is easy enough to shut a bathroom door, prepare a medication, take it and come out, so your dog has absolutely no chance of coming into contact with those medications. Take the time to manage your environment so you can keep your dog safe!

The Kibble-Dispensing Toy Comparison

For the past five days I have been experimenting with different toys that allow me to put Nadia’s kibble in them to make her work for her food. I have compared the differences between 5 food toys. They all have pros and cons, but I was hoping this would help you to pick the right one for you and your dog! It is important to note a few things, first of all they were given to Nadia in the order they appear below, prior to being used for her breakfast Nadia has used each toy at least once, with treats in it. She regularly eats out of a stainless steel bowl, she gets 1/3 of a cup of kibble with a few broken up treats mixed in. Prior to the start of this experiment I made five bags of her pre measured food with the treats mixed in, ready to go each morning so that the time preparing her food would not be taken into consideration with everything else. As for the length of time each toy takes, it is important to remember that Nadia, like most dogs, gets better and better at “hunting” for her food the more I give her toys like this, so this may account for the shorter time lengths of the later tested toys.

Premier Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble

The Kibble Nibbler comes in two different sizes to accommodate dogs of different sizes. With my dog since she is 20 pounds I find I can use either size.
Preparation: The rubber teeth at either end need to be trimmed to accommodate your specific kibble size, and this can be a somewhat difficult process. Try not to trim too much off all at once because this will make this toy far too easy for your dog and the kibble will fall right out! The process took me about 15 minutes when I first bought the toy. I took a large piece of my dog’s kibble and tested how easily it would fall through the opening as I trimmed one tooth only slightly at a time, until I had trimmed all four a bit.
The rubber that surrounds this egg shaped toy makes it good for tough chewers and helps make it quieter. This toy does tend to roll under things, which can be annoying. When there are only a few pieces of kibble left, they don’t come out easily, Nadia kept trying, but it could be frustrating for some dogs.

Time to Fill: 1 Minute

Time: 20+ minutes Nadia ended up with about 5 pieces of kibble that wouldn’t just fall out on their own so I ended up opening the toy and letting her eat them, but this was easy enough and did not take extra time to empty. Cleaning with warm water and gentle soap was easy enough.

Average Price: $12

Premier Busy Buddy Magic Mushroom

The Magic Mushroom comes in two different sizes to accommodate dogs of different sizes. With my dog since she is 20 pounds I find I can use either size. The Premier website does not reflect their new smaller size available in the magic mushroom, but I have both sizes and have seen the smaller one in several pet stores. The Magic Mushroom is noisy! I practice with Nadia to teach her to keep her toys on the carpet, but when it would roll off onto the wood floor it made a lot of noise, and Nadia loved to pick-up and drop this toy even on the carpet it made a lot of noise. Nadia loves this toy and will continue to play with it long after it is empty. As a general rule, to keep these toys high value, I don’t allow her to play with the toys too long after they are empty, but with this one I notice she stays interested in chasing it around.

Preparation: There is an opening where the kibble will come from and it can be opened half way or the full way depending on the size of the kibble you are using.
This toy also tends to roll around and under things a lot.

Time to Fill: 1 Minute

Time: 20 minutes

Average Price: $15

Nina Ottosson Dog Treat Maze

The treat Maze comes in several different sizes including a cat option! Hand wash only, but not difficult to clean. Only good for dry foods and treats.

Filling this toy each day is a bit tedious, and does take about 3 minutes, which is the longest of all the toys. The kibble starts to fall out as it gets full. This is a sturdy toy that will likely hold up to the serious chewers, especially with the different size options.

Nadia finished this one very quickly.

Preparation: None it is ready to use right out of the box
This toy is very skinny and does spin and roll under the furniture.

Time to Fill: 5 minutes

Time: 5 minutes, Nadia worked through this one the fastest.

Average Price: $16

Northmate Interactive Green Dog Feeder

This is large, and does not come in different size options. It is also a bit more expensive than the other toys. This is the only toy that is advertised as being dishwasher safe, but I don’t have a dishwasher so it was rather tedious to clean, it took the longest to clean by hand. It is well made and seems like it would hold up to even the strongest of chewers.
Preparation: None, this is ready to use, out of the box.

Time to Fill: 1 minute

Time: 10 Minutes

Average Price: $35

Home-Made Kibble Toy, using a plastic bottle

Prep Time: 20 minutes to clean, and cut the bottle so it will be a fun treat dispensing toy. I have used a knife and scissor to cut four holes into a long narrow plastic bottle. I used a piece of Nadia’s kibble to be sure the openings were big enough but not too big.

Time to Fill: 1 minute

Time: 10 minutes

As far as the time goes you can make this toy as easy or as hard as you want because you can cut as many or as few holes in the bottle to accommodate your dog. If she is great at food stuffed toys, then maybe only cut one or two holes into the bottle. If your dog is just learning about these toys and sometimes isn’t too food motivated, cut up to five holes in the bottle so it is easier for your dog to earn a reward.

Average Price: It depends on the kind of bottle used, but you also get whatever was in the bottle, so technically this toy could be considered free!

In conclusion, there are several different food dispensing toy options out there, and they are great for you dog for so many reasons! Make your dog work for his meals to help get his energy out, allow him to use his cognitive skills for problem solving, and slow down his food intake to keep him healthier. I think it is best to have a few different options for your dog, and hopefully you can choose the one that is right for you and your dog using the above information!

By in Training Philosophy 0

BSL: What It Is, and Why It Is Wrong

BSL stands for Breed Specific Legislation, and in short the best way to describe this concept is: people’s feeble way to address vicious dogs, without actually doing so in any logical, or even statistical way. It allows governments to go after specific breeds as a target for dog bite incidents in that area. The problem is we are blaming the wrong end of the leash! Any dog can be vicious, and this is more often than not, caused by human error, but certainly not limited to any one kind of dog, or even a sub category of dogs considered to vicous.

BSL goes after several breeds, but let’s face it the real “witches” in this witch hunt are the pit bulls. Further this makes BSL even more unfair because the group of dogs that fall into this “pit bull” category are actually several different types of dogs who may even be mixed, but the Center for Disease Control compares the incident of pit bull related dog bites to specific breeds. For example the Husky and Malamute are considered separately, but in the case of a the pit bull, two dogs who were this similar would both qualify, so really the group comparison is not a fair and accurate comparison. The proof should even be in their name; we capitalize the names of specific breeds, such as Doberman Pinscher, but we do not capitalize pit bull. The best reasoning I can give for this is that it would almost be like capitalizing the word “mutt.”

A few things I want to clear up right here and now: pit bulls jaws do not lock! Some say the pit bull’s jaw is as strong a crocodile, also not true. Now a few truths: The city of Denver has euthanized 4,000 pit bulls since 1989. These dogs were not temperament tested, or involved in any incidents, they simply were pit bulls living in Denver, taken from their loving homes, where most of them were companion animals-family pets! Now I am sorry, you don’t have to like pit bulls, and you can even be afraid of them, but this is plain wrong. In case you don’t believe me, check the statistics because Denver County has the highest incidents of dog bites resulting in hospitalization in the years between 1995 and 2010, and the breed that topped this dog bite list: The Golden Retriever! Who is the true danger here; these dogs to humans, or vice versa!

The media is shaping our opinions in a similar way that plane crashes scare us more than car crashes. To me the way the media reports on a pit bull dog bite is similar to a very heinous plane crash, whereas other dog bites by breeds such as Cocker Spaniels are reported on more in a fashion of a small car crash. The headlines involving pit bulls more often include the dog’s breed, whereas when it is any breed other than pit bull the headline usually reads “dog bite.” The word “attack” is very often used in conjunction with pit bull stories. Don’t let the media determine how you feel about these dogs, meet a few for yourself and see what you actually think, because if you think you are scared of pit bulls, after you meet one, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised!

Please don’t just take my word for it! Educate yourself about pit bulls, especially if you are fearful, because fear leads to irrationality, not only in people, but in dogs too, this is one of the reasons as a trainer I push so hard for dogs to be socialized and see lots of people and things, so they will know what they are, and not be afraid. The same applies to the knee jerk reaction of people towards pit bulls, perhaps if they educated themselves about these dogs, they would not be so fearful and want to be so aggressive towards them. I highly recommend taking an hour and half of your time and watch Libby Sherrill’s Beyond the Myth:

You may be thinking that this doesn’t affect you. You might have read this whole blog thinking pit bulls are fine with you, but you will never have one, so it doesn’t really matter. Well it should matter to everyone! If it starts with pit bulls today where will it end? BSL is already spreading to Rottweilers, Huskies, Great Danes, and more, so don’t just sit back and think it cannot affect you because before we know it there will be more banned breeds than allowed. If we continue to think the problem is with a specific breed, and not in our own handling, training, socialization and treatment of that dog, the problem of vicious and dangerous dogs will continue to exist. The question is which breed the law makers will target next, will it be your dog?