February 2020 Blogs

Canine Troubles: How to Win Over Your New Love’s Dog

You've fallen in love and nothing can interfere with your new budding relationship until you meet the dog.

Your initial introduction with Dog goes terribly awry. Instead of tail wagging and face licking, he greets you with growls and snarls of aggression. Is there couples therapy for dogs and new significant others? Dog likes the mailman and the UPS driver. So why do his hackles go up at you?

Winning over your partner’s new pup is much like trying to impress your future in-laws—it’s a relationship that requires time and nurturing. Before despair sets in, review these tips and revel in a newfound furry friendship.

Couple with Dog

• Retreat, Reacquaint, Renew

So the first introduction didn’t go well. You physically retreated with Dog’s initial greeting, so an emotional retreat seems appropriate, too. Try re-introducing yourself to Dog, but this time on neutral turf. How about a park? Anywhere is fine as long as it's not at Dog’s home. He is protective and territorial, and he sees you as a trespasser. Have your “Meet & Greet” in a quasi-Switzerland and watch neutrality provide positive results.

• Bow - Wow

Bow down to Dog on his level. Establish those ground rules by literally getting down on the ground and then wow him with his love language—a Frisbee, a tennis ball, a peanut butter stuffed Kong. As long as your partner gives you the go ahead, pack your pockets full full of treats. Dog will soon equate your presence with treats, quickly moving you up his ladder of affection. The sooner your competitor (and that’s how Dog views you) can change his perspective, the sooner you will be able to carry on your human love connection.

• Speak the Right Love Language

Healthy relationships require time and attention. Once you’re allowed on the sofa (but not in Dog’s favorite spot, of course), invite Dog onto your lap (assuming he is not a St. Bernard), and give him a rub behind the ears. Other ways to heighten your appeal? Become his primary food distributor, engage in fun interactive games (fetch, fetch and fetch!), assume pet routines and duties and best of all, get to know him.

• Teach Your Children Well

Dogs are trained to follow a pack leader, so be that leader. Make eye contact and stay the course. Your significant other can help by immediately nipping any aggressive behavior in the bud. The sooner Dog learns that you are his new Alpha (or at least his Beta), the happier life will be for you both.

• Dog Eat Dog World

Despite your best intentions, it is possible that Dog will just not learn to like you. A dog’s trust and respect are not always automatic. And even the best laid plans can’t guarantee that his canine heart will be won over.

In the end, if your human love relationship is worth continuing, Dog may have to permanently move in with a friend, a cousin, a neighbor. Beware of the possible resentment this might provoke on the part of your significant other; both of you must agree that this is the best choice for your future as a couple.

Hopefully, with dedication and effort, you will find yourself enveloped in a happy and accepting trio: your significant other, Dog and you. And you’ll feel like Top Dog.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Dental care is vital to your pet's health. If you've already established a dental care program for your pet, you're off to a great start. But if your pet hasn't received a dental exam from your veterinarian, it's time to get started. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, the perfect time to schedule a dental exam for your pet and develop a home dental care regimen for your best friend.

Why is dental care so important for your pet? Periodontal disease is the number one diagnosed problem in pets. By the age of two, more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have periodontal disease in one form or another. The buildup of plaque and tartar on your pet's teeth leads to bacterial infections that can enter the bloodstream and infect other parts of your pet's body. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, osteoporosis and other problems.

The good news is that periodontal disease is easily prevented. Regular dental cleanings and a home dental care regimen can eliminate the plaque and tartar that lead to gum disease and oral infections. During a dental cleaning, your veterinarian also performs a complete oral examination of your pet. This includes screening for oral cancer, broken teeth and cavities. Spotting these problems early makes them easier to treat and improves your pet's overall oral health.

Your pet's dental cleaning is more involved than the same process you go through at your dentist's office. Anesthesia is required to keep your pet still and comfortable during the procedure. Because of this, your pet undergoes a thorough physical examination before each dental cleaning. Laboratory blood tests, as well as other diagnostic procedures are also used to screen for potential problems and risks before anesthesia is administered. Using these results, your veterinarian develops a safe anesthetic protocol specifically for your pet.

A Cat's Teeth Before and After a Dental Cleaning

During a dental cleaning, tartar is removed from your pet's teeth with a hand scaler. Next, a periodontal probe is used to check for pockets under the gumline - where periodontal disease and bad breath start. An ultrasonic scaler is used to clean above the gumline and a curette is used to clean the teeth under the gumline and in the crevices. Finally, the teeth are polished and an anti-bacterial solution is applied to help delay future tartar build-up.

Dental care doesn't end in your veterinarian's office. Brushing your pet's teeth at home is an added level of protection against gum disease. In order to be most effective, brushing must be done at least three times a week; however, daily brushing is ideal. Brushing your pet's teeth can be supplemented with antiseptic rinses. Some pet foods and treats are also effective in preventing plaque and tartar buildup. However, there is no substitute for regular brushing and professional dental cleanings.

Call your veterinary hospital to schedule a dental examination and cleaning for your pet today. Your best friend will thank you!

Hearing Dogs Help Owners in a Silent World

Imagine yourself in a silent world. You can't hear the ring of a telephone or a knock at the door. Even danger signals - the shriek of a smoke alarm or the rustlings of a prowler - go unnoticed. For someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, the feelings of vulnerability and isolation can be overwhelming. And having to depend on mechanical devices or other people to be alerted to everyday sounds can be frustrating. Now imagine that you have a dedicated hearing dog assistant who can alert you to these important sounds.

Hearing dogs are trained to alert their guardians to a knock at the door, the ring of a doorbell, a telephone/TDD, an alarm clock, a tea kettle whistle, a smoke alarm and even an oven timer. These canine companions provide a new sense of security, companionship and independence for their deaf and hard of hearing guardians. Proudly wearing their bright colored vests, they enjoy the same public access rights as guide dogs for the blind.

The Training

Each dog goes through months of comprehensive training using positive reinforcement techniques. The trainers teach the dogs a technique called "sound keying." The dogs run from their trainer to the source of the sound, then run back to the trainer and make body contact to alert him or her to the sound. In response to a smoke alarm or alarm clock, hearing dogs are taught to jump onto a bed or couch in order to wake up a sleeping person. This is done using physical contact or sloppy kisses. The dogs are also given basic obedience training and taught how to understand both voice and sign language commands.

For more information about hearing dogs or hearing dog programs in your area, contact your local humane society.