Virginia Beach Dog Life Academy
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Things to never feed your dog

Unfortunately, there are a number of household items which we tend to take for granted that are potentially very dangerous to your dog's health. It is especially important to be aware of this because as you know, dogs are essentially scavengers and will often eat just about anything they can sink their fangs into.

II would say that my own dog is more like a mobile garbage disposal. It is also very important to be aware of these items since their sense of smell is so well developed that your pooch will be able to find what you may think is well hidden.

One of these dangerous household items, it turns out, is simple chocolate. While chocolate has been reported recently to be high in human-friendly antioxidants, it appears to be potentially lethal for our pets, and particularly for our dogs. Cats are mostly unaffected since they do not care for the taste of chocolate, but dogs tend to be crazy about it. Certain breeds of dogs react differently to chocolate. The root of the problem is that chocolate contains various chemicals which are called methylxanthine alkaloids (some types have more of these chemicals than others) Sadly, relatively miniscule amounts of these chemicals are capable of causing such serious problems as constriction of the arteries and an increased heart rate. Large amounts may cause even more dire symptoms and a pound of milk chocolate could possibly kill a sixteen pound dog.

If you find that your dog has eaten chocolate then by all means take note of the it's type and try to estimate the amount eaten. Then get on the phone with a veternarian or an emergency facility. Be sure that your children know how important it is to keep chocolate out of your dog's reach. If you are not aware that your dog has consumed chocolate, the consequences could be severe. If consumption is not found within 4 to 6 hours without the right treatment, cardiac failure, seizures, coma and death could result, according to veternarian Dr. Jane Bicks.

In addition to seemingly innocent chocolate, there are a number of other common household items that may seem safe for our dogs but that can be downright dangerous.

Some mushrooms, for example, can produce abdominal pain, liver and kidney damage and amenia. So be aware of wild mushrooms when you are out walking your dog in wooded areas. Garlic may seem benign but can cause vomiting, liver damage, anemia and diarrhea so do not give your pet baby food since it can contain garlic. Anti-freeze can shut down your dog's kidney and they tend to love the taste. Miscletoe can cause vomiting, abdominal pain and depression.

Onions can cause liver damage, anemia and diarrhea. Onion can also sometimes be found in baby food. Cats are actually somewhat more sensitive to this one so keep out of the reach of both. Coffee, like cocoa, is especially dangerous, and may cause heartrate increase, diarrhea, seizures, coma, death. Caffeine just does not have the same effect in dogs. When outside be careful around apple and cherry trees. While the fruit is safe, the leaves and roots are not. And be very careful about Moth Balls. it's primary chemical naphthalene is extremely toxic to dogs and can result in tremors and seizures.

Concerning dog food, you should be looking for dyes and other chemicals, according to Dr. Jane BHA, for instance, which is one of the main synthetic antioxidant preservatives used to prevent food discoloration, has been observed to cause cancer in laboratory rats at certain doses. Small doses are as yet unclear but since dog food is eaten every day caution is advised. Many conventional dog food brands have large quantities of sodium to make them palatable, and this can be quite harmful to a dog.


If you think your pet may be having a medical emergency, call your veterinarian.

"Pet owners know if something is wrong with their pet, but they can't always know without specialized training whether a condition is critical or not," says Dr. McCullough. "Don't worry about whether or not to call. Just call. If it is not an emergency, your veterinarian can tell you how to care for the situation and what to expect. If it is an emergency, then time is critical and the sooner your veterinarian sees your pet the better its chances of recovery will be."

Common emergency conditions include ingestion of non-food items, accidental trauma, bloat, urinary obstruction, and seizures. The signs of these conditions are highly variable.

Non-food items that don't sit well in the digestive tract include medications, poisons, bones, toys, and just about any household item that will fit your pet's mouth. If your pet ingests a medication or rat poison, it may not show any immediate signs and by the time it acts sick, it may be too late to treat.

Bones cause dogs many problems. Chicken, pork chop, rib eye, and spare rib bones often end up wedged in a dog's mouth, esophagus, or stomach and require surgical removal. If your pet has consumed a non-food item, your veterinarian will know whether it will safely pass out the other end or whether it should be retrieved to prevent damage.

A pet injured in an accident, such as being hit by a car or falling from a window, must be handled cautiously for the benefit of both the handler and the pet. An animal in pain will aggressively protect injuries and will bite. You can make a muzzle by putting a piece of rope or a belt over the animal's nose, crossing it under the jaw, and tying it snugly behind the neck. To protect the animal from further injury, transport it on a stable, flat surface, such as a piece of plywood, or in a box that will support the animal's weight.

Bleeding can be stopped with mild pressure applied to the area. Loss of more blood than a puddle the size of your hand may require medical treatment.

Internal bleeding, which can be even more serious, may be difficult to detect.

Pale mucus membranes and weakness following trauma are indications of internal hemorrhage.

Bloat, which is distention and blockage of the stomach, occurs for unknown reasons in some dogs. Signs include a distended abdomen, dry heaves, increased salivation, and depression. The dog may repeatedly lie down and get up, pace, whine, or stretch. Bloat is a surgical emergency. It can't wait overnight.

Urinary obstruction is fairly common in cats. Signs include straining to urinate, howling in the litter box, and urinating in unusual places (such as the tub, sink, countertop, or in front of the owner). Straining to urinate should not be confused with constipation. A cat with urinary obstruction will rapidly get worse and needs to be seen by your veterinarian.

An animal in seizure needs to be protected from hurting itself. A seizure can be a slight loss of muscle control or can be severe, with the animal paddling on the ground completely out of control. An animal will lose bladder and bowel control, be mentally unaware of its surroundings, and appear dazed after a seizure. A severe seizure is an immediate emergency.

"Even for apparently minor conditions, take the two minutes to call. Tell your veterinarian the symptoms and their duration. Veterinarians would rather have too many calls regarding non-critical conditions than a few calls after precious time is lost. Even if you know you'll be taking the pet in for immediate care, call ahead so that your veterinarian will be prepared to treat your pet when you get there.

For more information on emergency animal care, contact your local veterinarian.

How dogs see

The retina, which covers the back of the inside of the eyeball, contains cones and rods-two types of light-sensitive cells. Cones provide color perception and detailed sight, while rods detect motion and vision in dim light. Dogs, which have rod-dominated retinas, see better in the dark than humans do and have motion-oriented vision. However, because they have only about one-tenth the concentration of cones that humans have, dogs do not see colors as humans do.

"Many people think that a person who is red/green color blind cannot see any color, but there are variations of being color blind. Most people have vision that is trichromatic (three color variations). People who are red/green color blind are dichromatic (two color variations). Dogs can pick out two colors-blue-violet and yellow-and they can differentiate among shades of gray." Dogs are unable to distinguish among green, yellow, orange, and red. They also have difficulty differentiating greens and grays.

Dogs use other cues (such as smell, texture, brightness, and position) rather than rely on color. Seeing-eye dogs, for example, may not distinguish whether a stoplight is green or red; they look at the brightness and position of the light. This and the flow and noise of traffic will tell the dog that it is the right time to cross the street.

The set of dog's eyes determines the amount of field of view and depth perception. Prey species tend to have eyes set on the sides of their head because the increased field of view allows them to see approaching predators.

Predator species, like humans and dogs, have eyes set closer together. "Human eyes are set straight forward while dog eyes, depending on the breed, are usually set at a 20 degree angle. This angle increases the field of view and therefore the peripheral vision of the dog."

However, this increased peripheral vision compromises the amount of binocular vision. Where the field of view of each eye overlaps, we have binocular vision, which gives us depth perception. The wider-set eyes of dogs have less overlap and less binocular vision. Dogs' depth perception is best when they look straight ahead, but is blocked by their noses at certain angles. "Predators need binocular vision as a survival tool,". Binocular vision aids in jumping, leaping, catching, and many other activities fundamental to predators.

In addition to having less binocular vision than humans, dogs also have less visual acuity. Humans with perfect eyesight are said to have 20/20 vision-we can distinguish letters or objects at a distance of 20 feet. Dogs typically have 20/75 vision-they must be 20 feet from an object to see it as well as a human standing 75 feet away. Certain breeds have better acuity. Labradors, commonly used as seeing-eye dogs, have been bred for better eyesight and may have closer to 20/20 vision.

Don't expect your dog to recognize you across the field by sight. He'll recognize you when you do some sort of motion particular to yourself or by smell or hearing. Because of the number of rods in the retina, dogs see moving objects much better than they do stationary objects. Motion sensitivity has been noted as the critical aspect of canine vision. "So much of dog behavior deals with posture and appropriateness. Small changes in your body posture mean a lot to your dog,". Dog owners need to modify training based on this fact. If you want your dog to perform an action based on a silent cue from you, Dr. Hamor suggests using a wide sweeping motion to cue your dog.

When dogs go blind, owners often wonder if the dogs' quality of life has diminished to the point where they are no longer happy. "We know that humans deal well with being blind, and humans are much more dependent on their eyes than are dogs,". "Blind dogs lead happy lives if they are comfortable." The owner may need to make some adjustments in the pet's environment, such as having a fenced yard, taking leashed walks, and not leaving unusual objects in normal pathways. "When blind dogs are in their normal environment, most people don't know they are blind."

For further information on dog vision and problems with your dog's eyes, contact your local veterinarian.

Why does my dog eat faeces?
Some prefer horse faeces, others cat faeces. Frozen faeces are popular in the winter time. Why do dogs do this?

In the past it was believed that faeces eating, also known as coprophagia, was caused by either poor diet or poor health. However, this theory is not supported by current research. "Behavioral research has discounted the idea that it is a dietary deficiency or a pancreatic enzyme deficiency," says Dr. Jo Ann Eurell, a veterinarian and animal behavior specialist at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. "Dogs are historically scavengers, and this is believed to be a scavenger behavior.

"It is important for dog owners to know that this behavior is normal for a mother dog with pups," adds Dr. Eurell. Newborn pups must learn to urinate and defaecate. The mother teaches the pups by licking their bottoms. The pups respond to this "tickle" by urinating and defaecating.

The mother then consumes the pups' excrement, which serves two protective purposes: it keeps the den area clean and it removes smells that could attract a predator. Some pups learn this behavior from their mothers and will stimulate themselves and consume their own faeces. Most pups stop by the time they are weaned.

It is more difficult to understand why adult dogs eat faeces. Some dogs will learn this behavior from other dogs. In some cases, eating faeces may be an attention-seeking behavior. For some dogs it is possibly due to anxiety or boredom. Most often the motivation for eating faeces is just not known.

Owners find this habit in their pet disgusting -- particularly when the consumed faeces are thrown up all over the new carpet. In addition to being socially unacceptable, eating faeces exposes the dog to parasites and diseases. So, what is a dog owner to do?

"Eating faeces is a problem that is easier to prevent than to cure," says Dr. Eurell.

"Don't allow the opportunity to arise. Keep the dog's yard clean by disposing of feces promptly. Move the cat box out of the dog's reach. If cleaning the outdoor area is not feasible, then keep the dog on a leash or use a muzzle when outside."

There are some "cures" that have been used with limited success. Punishment generally only works in the early stages, before the behavior becomes habitual.

Feeding the dog MSG, garlic, or pumpkin is believed to give faeces a bad taste, making it less attractive to the dog. Other products can be applied to the faeces directly; however, dogs are very perceptive and can probably distinguish between tainted and untainted faeces.

The best solution is to supervise the dog and not let it develop the habit. If you would like further information about this behavior, contact your local veterinarian.

How do I introduce my dog to my new baby?
As appears in American Dog Owners' Association, Inc.You or your family is expecting a new baby; however, you already have a "child," the family dog. The dog has been a member of the household since puppyhood and is very attached to you. He often attempts to wedge himself between you and visitors when the visitors get too close.

Why does my dog jump on the counter?
By Dea Jaffey
Several of my students have asked how to manage a dog that jumps on the counter when the owner is either in or out of the room, and clears all the contents. Owners try to put the contents on the counter to the back but the dog finds a way to remove any thing that is left on the counter. The dogs seem to grow front paws that have extensions that reach to the back of the counter.

What is canine diabetes
What is canine diabetes?
Canine diabetes is a condition where there is a deficiency of the hormone insulin or maybe insensitivity to it. Inside the islet cells of the pancreas insulin is produced.

Why is my dog peeing submissively?
Submissive urination is NOT a house-training problem. It is exhibited during greetings, either because the dog instinctively feels a need to show submission, or when the dog loses control due to being excited. Submissive urination or "Happy Bladder" is not a willful behavior, and punishment can make it worse.

Dog Mental Health Info
Your dog’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Keeping your dog happy and healthy is your main goal. Keeping your dog healthy also includes his mental well being. We will be talking about a few of the mental problems that your dog can have and ways to help your dog with his mental health.

Do dogs get depressed?
Of course, dogs get depressed. They go through bouts of depression and you will notice your dog moping about and not wanting to play, only drinking small amounts of water, and you may even notice them losing a lot of weight. You want your dog’s mental health to be good, but how can you tell what is causing this depression?

After you have ruled out a physical aliment by taking your dog to the vet; now you can look around and see what may be causing this change in your dog’s attitude and help get your dog’s mental health back on track.

Grief can cause depression in dogs just as it can in the human race. Has your dog lost a playmate recently? Maybe a dog down the street has moved away. Or maybe the child in your family has gone off to college. Your dog longs for that companionship and now it is gone. If you have moved or have left your dog in the care of others while you were on vacation this can also be the root of your dog’s depression. Start helping your dog enjoy life again. Give him extra attention and love. If he has lost his doggy playmate, take him to the park or to the doggie daycare so he can play with other dogs and maybe make a new friend that will help him over this depression. This may just pull him out of his depression.

Depression untreated can lead to more serious physical problems that you are sure to want to avoid. If you can not seem to bring the zing back into your dog’s life you may want to ask your vet for some anti-depression medicine.

Dog Anxiety is probably one of the most common mental disorders in dogs all over the world. It is your responsibility to notice when your dog is stressed and what causes his stress and to keep him out of these types of situations for his protection or to help him overcome his anxieties.

The different signs of anxiety and stress are excessive drooling, whining, panting, moaning, shivering, or reluctance to move.

The different types of anxieties and how to know them:

Separation Anxiety
This is probably the most common anxiety in dogs. Your dog will be soiling the floor, chewing up furniture, and their barking or howling can be heard clear down the block are sure signs of separation anxiety.

Noise Anxiety
Noise Anxiety is a problem for thousands of types of animals. Dogs that are afraid of loud noises often run to hide, but because of their fear they do not pay attention and may endanger themselves by running into oncoming traffic, etc.

Social Anxiety
This anxious behavior is seen in dogs that as puppies were never around other dogs or a lot of people. This can be seen when your dog is around others if he tries to cower in a corner to hide. He is feeling overwhelmed by his surroundings and all the commotion from the other dogs or extra people.

These are just some of the problems that your dog may have. Remember to pay attention to your dog; he is your friend and companion. He needs your protection as well as your love.

What is canine arthritis?
Arthritis in canines is just as common as it is in humans. The type of arthritis associated with dogs is osteoarthritis which is caused by the degradation of the cartilage within a joint.

Cartilage is what keeps the bones in a joint from rubbing together. As the cartilage breaks down it causes the function of the joint to reduce causing pain and stiffness.

In the beginning canine arthritis is uncomfortable, but in severe cases it causes extreme pain as the bones are rubbing directly against each other.

Signs to watch for are favoring a certain limb repeatedly, trouble when sitting or standing, not as active, stiffness in their joints, reluctance to run or jump, and lethargy. There is no cure for canine arthritis yet, but there are several good treatments.

Pain relieving lotions are one of the safest and best ways to ease your dogs pain associated with canine arthritis. Your vet may prescribe some medicine for swelling and discomfort.

A new treatment is now being used which is dietary. Glucosamine and Chondroitin have been found to be helpful in reducing the degeneration of dog’s bones due to canine arthritis and also aids in the reducing inflammation.

This combination attracts fluid into the cartilage between the joints, which helps the body repair damaged joints while keeping the destroying enzymes under control.

The most important factor is to relieve your dog of discomfort associated with canine arthritis so can live a better life. He also needs to move the joints so the canine arthritis does not become severe.

If you have noticed any of these signs in your dog, make an appointment with your vet so you can better know how to treat your dog if in fact he does have canine arthritis.

With the proper treatment you can help improve your dog’s quality of life, which is what you and your dog both want.

Dog Allergies
Did you know that your dog can have allergies, just like you?

The most common dog allergy is itching of the skin. Their respiratory tract can also be affected causing them to wheeze, sneeze, and/or cough. You may even notice a discharge from their eyes and nose. In some cases, the digestive system can be affected which will cause them to vomit or have diarrhea.

In the United States around 20 percent of the dogs suffer from some type of allergy. Some of the allergies might be allergic to fleas, atopic dermatitis, allergies to food, allergies to some thing in the air, allergies to some thing they come in contact with or a bacterial allergy.

Atopic Dermatitis

This canine allergy is caused by the dog’s immune system hypersensitivity to common substance around them, such as dust mites or mold. Atopic Dermatitis is an allergic skin disease that usually appears within the first two years of a dog’s life.

Watch your dog for grooming excessively, by licking or chewing his back legs, paws, and abdomen, these are signs that he may suffer from atopic dermatitis. Another way to check is to see if his ears are reddened and hot to the touch.

There are signs that are not as noticeable like in the armpits, groin, and between the toes of his paws. Saliva staining is another sign of atopic dermatitis. It appears as a reddish brown stain. If the case becomes severe, the skin may change color, especially the abdomen, from a pink to a dark red to a very dark black.

It can be difficult to diagnose because flea allergy, food allergy and parasitic infections have some of the same signs. After you have ruled out the three above allergies from you list you may then need to have your dogs skin tested for allergies such as dust mites, pollens, and mold. After your vet has determined the cause of the atopic dermatitis he can recommend treatment.

Flea Allergy
No the flea is not the real allergy here, it is the fleas saliva. Your vet can perform a skin allergy test to determine if your dog is allergic to flea saliva. If he is then a regular strict flea control regimen is required to reduce your dog’s symptoms. But, be sure to use the chemicals with caution, as some can harm your dog.

Inhalant Allergy (allergies to some thing in the air)

These allergies are caused by the same things that cause allergies in humans, tree, grass, weed, dust mites, molds, and chemicals.

Any dog is susceptible to inhalant allergies, but the most common dogs affected are terriers, golden retrievers, poodles, dalmations, German shepherds, Chinese Shar-peis, shih tzus, lhasa apsos, pugs, Irish setters, and minature schnauzers.

If you notice your dog chewing at his feet and constantly licking then he may have inhalant allergies. Other common symptoms include biting, and scratching. The worst itching will be on his feet, hind legs, groin and armpits.

Inhalant allergies are often associated with recurring ear infections in you dog.

Food Allergy
Food that your dog may have eaten for years may become a food allergy. So, this type of allergy is often overlooked.

Dogs usually cannot tolerate fish, eggs, whey, milk, chicken, pork, beef, corn, wheat, soy products, chemical preservatives, and artificial sugars in their meal.

It may take a long while to determine the food allergen. A way to find the allergen is to put your dog on a diet that consists of protein and starch that your dog has not eaten before.

Start adding back the ingredients of the dog food you have been feeding him, spreading this out over a week. If the symptoms return then you should be able to determine the food allergen.

Then look for a dog food that does not contain the allergen. Symptoms of food allergies in your dog may be scratching at ears, shaking of the head, itchy skin, licking and biting their back legs, rubbing their face on carpet, inflammation in their ears, coughing and in rare cases vomiting, sneezing, and diarrhea.

Contact Allergy (allergies to some thing they come in contact with)

This is the least common type of allergies in dogs. Some of the common items that may cause a reaction are wood bedding, grass, plants, and flea collars.

Bacterial Allergy
There are several different types of Staphylococcus (Staph) living on your dog’s skin. That is normal! Most dogs do not develop an allergy to them, but some dogs might.

Bacterial allergies will cause hair loss that looks similar to ring worm. The areas that are infected need to be treated with antibiotics.

Dog Medecine
Fleas and Ticks:
All dogs may at times have a few fleas, which usually is not much of a problem. But, in some cases your dog may be allergic to flea saliva, which will cause a skin allergic reaction to even just one bite. Also, ticks can be a major problem, in some areas. From ticks your dog may contract tapeworm infestation or Lyme disease.

Some products that can help control flea and tick infestations:

Frontline Plus – Each tube contains fipronil and S-Methoprene which kills flea eggs and their larvae. This is one of the best products on the market to fight the infestation of fleas and ticks. Be sure to use this product as described. This product can make some dogs sick if they ingest the medicine.

Advantage – This product works extremely fast on relieving the flea infestation. It works by stopping the life cycle before it begins by killing the fleas before they have time to lay eggs. Advantage is water-resistant, so you can give your dog baths and know he is still protected against fleas and ticks. The active ingredient is imidacloprid. As with Frontline Plus read the directions and apply correctly; can make some dogs sick if ingested.

Bacterial Infection
To help heal and prevent skin infections from scrapes or dermatitis and also to reduce fungal growth use topical treatments. You can find Antibacterial topicals in all kinds of forms. There are ointments, shampoos, and sprays. Any type will
help as long as it has hydrocortisone.

Some products that can help control bacterial infections:
Septi-Clens Antibacterial Topicals – This product helps to heal skin irritations and minor cuts and also prevents them from becoming infected. As with all medicine please read the directions. You may want to cover the area where applied with a bandage to prevent ingesting.

Antibacterial Deodorizing Shampoo by Eight In One – This is a great product! You can give your dog a bath and help fight against infection. This shampoo is gentle to your dog’s skin and has added ingredients against infection.

For Worms Your dog can become a victim of several types of internal parasites usually known as worms. Roundworms are the most common in puppies. Tapeworms can become a big problem when your dog has a high flea infestation. Treatment for worms usually comes in a pill form that will rid your dog of these parasites.

Some products that can help control gastrointestinal worms:

Drontal suspension is the most recommended by vets. This product will help control roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. It is best for puppies and small dogs. The active ingredients are febantel and pyrantel embonate. As with any medication watch your dog for any signs that he might be allergic to the medication. If his appetite changes or you notice a change in his bathroom habits, please contact your vet.

D_Worm Liquid Wormer – This is an easy to give wormer that is safe for all age dogs. It can be mixed directly with their dog food. It will eliminate roundworms. The active ingredient in D_Worm liquid is piperazine. Be sure to read instructions and administer as recommended.

For Digestive Problems and Gas Relief
A common problem in dogs can be vomiting, diarrhoea, and growling intestines. The cause of these common problems can range from diet to disease. You can buy Gas Relief Dog Medicine for your dog. If you notice that the medicine is not helping or you notice any changes in your dog, please contact your vet.

Some products that can help control gas relief and digestive problems:

Odor Disposes Gas Relief – This is an effective natural gas reliever for your dog. This is one of the most effective on the market today. You can also turn the pills into powder and mix with your dog’s food.

Gas Be Gone by 21st Century – This is a safe natural product that can be given to dogs and cats for relief of painful gas and digestive problems. This product also aids in a healthy digestive system.

For Canine Arthritis
If you know that your dog has canine arthritis, there are ways to ease his pain. You can find pills that you can give him for pain and for inflammation, also there are creams that can be applied. In severe cases your vet can prescribe a pain reliever.

Some products that can help control pain:

Healthy Joints & Hip supplements from 21st Century – Your dog needs to stay active as he gets older to keep control of weight gain and stiff joints. This product is a chewable tablet that contains 500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride, 100 mg of vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese for a healthy combination of pain reliever and helps support the connective tissues of the joints.

Glucosamine Plus by NaturVet – This product is awesome it combines glucosamine hydrochloride with vitamins C and E, which are anti-oxidants that will remove damaging radicals from your dogs system. It also contains yucca and boswellia which are two natural anti-inflammatories that aid in control pain and stiffness. This product contains just what your dog needs to be active.

Nutrition and Your Puppy
People want to get the very best they can when purchasing products. They research all of the alternatives and select what they feel is the best suited for their needs whether a car, washer/dryer or a pet.

How intelligent is a dog?
Many times in a week I am informed that a dog only understands German, French, Spanish, English etc.

I find that many owners and some trainers have a misguided perception of what a dog really is and entertain false expectations of their pet. Most think their pet is a small hairy person based on the assumption that a dog's level of understanding is equal to their own.

It is vital to keep in mind that dogs do not have the capacity to intercept human language, behaviour or emotions.

How intelligent is a dog?

Dogs are capable of linking two ideas' together, but cannot link actions, which are separated to another time. If for example a dog makes a mess during your absence there is no point in telling the dog off or getting annoyed; the dog's brain cannot link the action. Many will say ' He knows he has done wrong' He does not, the brain is not formulated this way.

A dog's brain is much smaller than man's in particular the cerebrum - the portion of the brain associated with intellectual function, emotion and personality. Dogs cannot understand our human language. It is far more important to use sound patterns, intonation and facial and body language as a form of communication. A dog wants to please and all learning should be based on a positive reinforcement of reward. Owners should keep in mind that a large part of a dogs brain is occupied with sensory activity, particularly the interpretation of scent.

Instinct is something either there or not there.

Dog's natural instinct plays a vital role and often it is difficult to understand why so few dog owners can differentiate between instinct and intelligence. Instinct is an urge from within. Instinct makes a dog act in certain ways and has no connection with intelligence.

Dog's first instinct is to survive, when a pup is born he squirms about until he finds a teat and then sucks it. No intelligence or learning by any association plays a part in the process. The maternal instinct tells the female to clean up the foetal membrane etc. and stir the puppy into action by licking it. The female is not taught, she has not seen another female do this. Most instincts provide pleasure to the dog, and because it associates the action with pleasure, the instinct grows stronger with usage.

Instinct can be strengthened, weakened or diverted, it cannot be put there, and it cannot be taken away. It might lie dormant, but once developed it can never be weakened. A dog with an obsession for chasing balls can be controlled by training and by providing other outlets for his energy. The same if a young dog is corrected the first time he chases a car he may give up the idea, but if he is allowed to chase cars the hunting instinct becomes stronger, and in no time it will be very difficult, even impossible to cure the habit.

Instinct also covers survival, hunting, guarding, and the pack.

Stan Rawlinson ( Doglistener) is a full time Dog Behaviourist and Obedience Trainer who has owned and worked dogs for over 25 years, starting with Gundogs then moving on to the behavioural and obedience side of Pet Dogs.


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