To some dogs, everything is a chew toy. If your dog or puppy has an appetite for destruction, it’s important to address it sooner rather than later.
While most of us humans see our home decor as something to preserve for many years, our dogs may have a different opinion. To them, nothing is more exhilarating than ripping a pillow apart, and chomping on an antique table leg is a great way to pass an otherwise boring day.
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When a veterinarian and a dog trainer get together, what do you think they talk about? (Hint, the #1 topic is probably "#1" and "#2.")
I had the pleasure of sitting down with friend and veterinarian Kaarin Vekman, DVM, to play a little game we called, "Whom should you call first: your vet or a trainer?" As a trainer, I get a lot of questions about topics that should really be directed to a vet. Likewise, vets are often asked behavior questions that are more in a trainer's territory. Then there are other cases where vets and trainers can work together to tackle a dog's issue from both medical and behavioral angles. And so when your dog is having a problem, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Our game covers issues such as house training, separation anxiety, puppy vaccinations, nutrition, aggression, and nail trims. Though we were both involved in creating the questions, we didn't discuss our answers ahead of time.
This game was also a good test for Dr. Vekman and me. Prior to playing the game, I was worried we would have widely differing points of view and possibly end our friendship over the contentious "puppy vaccination" topic. And while we do look at the same issue from different angles, it turns out these differences do not lead to confusion or conflict; rather, educating owners from both a medical and behavioral perspective can give them a more well-rounded understanding of their dogs' conditions.
You adopted a puppy and took a whole week off to make sure he’s settled into his new home. Then, after your first day back to work, you find a note on your apartment door: “Your dog has been barking all day. Please make it stop.”
At this point, you might assume your dog has separation anxiety and your life is about to be turned upside down. True separation anxiety can be a difficult issue to deal with, but the good news is that many people who think their dogs have separation anxiety are mistaken. In this case, it’s good to be wrong! What looks like SA may actually be temporary stress when a dog comes to a new home, a surplus of doggie energy that is not being sufficiently burned, or plain old boredom while home alone.
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Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, MS, is an author and dog trainer with Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY.