Does your dog think he’s the leader of the pack at your house? Ignoring commands? Pushing through doorways ahead of you? Trying to move you from your favorite resting spot? When it comes to behavior problems, he may be sending you hints that he thinks he’s the top dog, and you’re the underdog.
A dominant dog may not want to hurt anyone, but just wants to be in charge. And though this article refers to the dog as “he,” it could easily be “she.” It could be a big Labrador or a little Chihuahua. Gender and size have little to do with dominance in dogs.
Remember that dogs don’t necessarily think like you and I do. They operate on a system of social behavior inherited from their wild ancestors. This centuries-old system is what keeps order among the family, or the dog pack. Dogs crave the security of knowing where they stand in the pack’s ranking. Once they understand who is in charge, they may feel much more at ease.
Look for the following signs of dominant behavior:
- Preventing people from petting him on the top of his head.
- Growling or barking at you during play.
- Trying to mount or hump people. (Even female dogs may do this)
- Refusing to release a toy or bone when commanded.
- “Marking” (peeing on) your personal items.
- “Mouthing” (not necessarily biting, but placing his teeth on) you.
Trying to correct dominant behavior? An obedience course is the place to start. The obedience training should involve everyone in your family, at least to some degree; consistency is key when it comes to your dog’s discipline, so everyone needs to be on the same page.
In addition to obedience training, here are some ways you can use the language of the dog pack to reinforce the message of who is in charge:
- Does your dog have a favorite spot? A pet bed or a favorite chair? Stand or sit in that spot for a couple minutes, several times a week.
- Don’t pet the dog unless he does something praiseworthy.
- Before the dog’s feeding time, make sure he sees you eating first.
- Never let the dog get up on furniture without permission.
- Don’t let the dog sleep on your bed. If you want to let him sleep in your room, he should stay on the floor or in his own dog bed.
Most importantly, be consistent. Over time, your dog will get the message and will learn to enjoy your leadership, and you’ll enjoy your dog more, too.
Sure, there have been plenty of amazing scientific advances in veterinary medicine, but what may be one of the most exciting new treatments is actually thousands of years old.
Today, non-traditional medicine like acupuncture is becoming more popular than ever. Exactly how acupuncture works is uncertain, though clinical trials have actually shown its effectiveness. In fact, acupuncture has the most scientific support of any form of non-traditional healing methods.
Western doctors believe that acupuncture may help release natural chemicals that promote healing within the body or stimulate of neuromechanical mechanisms that diminish pain and promote healing. As developed by Chinese healers over the course of two and a half centuries, this healing art is based on a principle of restoring balance within the body.
In pets, acupuncture is often used for pain relief and to treat diseases of the liver, kidney, and skin. It may help older dogs feel and act many years younger. Acupuncture treatments can be used together with traditional approaches to healing such as physical therapy and medications.
Veterinary acupuncture may not be widely available, though more and more veterinarians are beginning to offer this type of non-traditional treatment within their practices. And if your pet is covered by a Pets Best insurance policy, benefits are available for acupuncture and other non-traditional treatments (check here for details).
Keep in mind that pet acupuncture isn’t a cure-all, but it’s another tool your vet can use to treat ailments and enhance the quality of your pet’s life.
So you and your beloved pooch are out for some fresh air and sunshine, trotting along a trail in the great outdoors. The dog is a few paces ahead (of course), and is busy smelling everything in sight.
Suddenly you hear a yelp of pain and surprise. You run to catch up with your pet and see the tail of a snake slithering into the brush. What should you do?
If you’re anything like me, the first thing you’ll do is start freaking out and shouting, thinking that your dog is about to die a painful death. Well hold on there, tiger. Settle down.
The fact is, most snakes in the U.S. are not poisonous. There are only four varieties, including rattlesnakes, cottonmouth moccasins, copperheads and coral snakes, that are venomous and pose an immediate threat to the dog. There are three ways to tell if the dog is in danger:
- Identify the snake—if you’re not a herpetologist (that’s a snake expert) you might need some help here. Catch and kill it if possible so you can bring it to the vet’s office for identification. If not, you should at least be prepared with a good description of it. Does it have identifying colors or patterns? A large, arrow-like shape to the head? Elliptical pupils (like a cat’s) or round ones?
- Check out the bite—poisonous snakes, which have fangs, will leave two prominent puncture marks, just like a vampire in a horror movie. The skin will react quickly with swelling, redness, and intense pain. Non-poisonous snakes have even rows of teeth and may leave a pattern that resembles a horseshoe.
- Watch the dog—they may exhibit symptoms such as panting, drooling and weakness. They might become extremely restless. Later, the dog could have other symptoms such as diarrhea, or they might collapse. Sometimes they will have seizures.
If you believe your pet has been bitten by a poisonous snake, try to keep them calm. Frantic movement or exercise will rush the poison through the dog’s system. Call your veterinarian immediately, they may be able to talk you through procedures for drawing out some of the venom and applying a tourniquet. Get your pet to a facility where they can get medical treatment ASAP.
Even if your dog was bitten by a common garden snake, you’ll want to have them treated; without the right antibiotics and treatment, the bite wound can become infected, so even non-venomous bites can be dangerous.
Has your pet insurance policy saved you from putting a much-loved cat or dog to sleep? Or kept you from going thousands of dollars into debt to save a life? If so, you’ve probably told the story to your family, friends, neighbors, and anyone else who would listen.
Well now, that story could win you a $500 prize!
To celebrate National Pet Health Insurance Month, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, or NAPHIA, invites you to tell them how pet health insurance has helped you when your pet was in need of medical care.
The submitted stories will be used in NAPHIA’s mission of educating pet owners about the values and benefits of pet health insurance. NAPHIA board members will review the submissions and choose one contest winner, who will receive $500.
Here are the contest details, as published on the organization’s website:
- The story must discuss pet insurance in action.
- A digital photo of the pet must also be submitted.
- All submissions must be received by September 30, 2009 at 11:59 PM EST.
- All submissions must be submitted digitally, sent via email to email@example.com.
- Winner will be notified by October 14, 2009.
- By submitting a story and photo, you grant NAPHIA permission to publish your story and photo on their website and for other promotional purposes.
- The decision of the judges is final.
The group is also looking for stories about great veterinarians, and will award an educational grant to the winning veteran’s practice! Get all the information about both of these contests by clicking here.