In this issue: A World of Dogs: Understanding Fear in Dogs, Healthy Dog: Dementia in Dogs, 4 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Healthy, Our Services
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Understanding Fear In Dogs

Fearful dogWhen we think of a scared dog, what usually comes to mind is a trembling animal hiding in a dark corner or under the bed, whining, his tail tucked. Nonstop barking doesn’t often make the list. Nor do shredding of clothes, gnawing through window frames, or growling and lunging at visitors. But these can all be symptoms of fear in dogs. Fear-based behaviors vary so widely that we frequently don’t recognize them as fear-based. Instead we think the dog is being stubborn or naughty or is trying to run the household (the long-discredited dominance theory), which means we end up trying to solve the wrong problem. Clues in canine body language can help us identify fear and anxiety—fear-based behaviors always come with some physical, postural giveaways. It might be muscle tension, a tightly closed mouth or one wide open showing all the teeth, crouching, dilated pupils, yawning, ears held back, etc.
          Why dogs develop fear-related conditions in the first place is a complex question without an easy answer. Genetics play a role (experiments have shown you can breed for fear of people, for example), and so does proper socialization, the all-important early exposure to new people, places, animals, sounds, and objects. Puppies who have positive experiences with all-things-new are much less likely to develop fear later in life. But that isn’t the whole picture, because some well-socialized dogs do develop fear disorders. And again, bad experiences (abuse, accidents) can explain some of those cases, but not all.
          Helping a fearful dog takes patience and effort on the part of human companions. Once a visit to a veterinarian has excluded pain or illness as the source of a problematic behavior, a qualified trainer or behaviorist can assess the situation and design a behavior modification plan. Treatment might include desensitization (exposing the dog to something he fears at such a low level it doesn’t trigger his anxiety) and classical counter-conditioning (pairing something the dog fears with something he loves). The less-than-good news is the amount of time it can take to see improvement. But the good news is that dogs can and do overcome fear. Not all dogs, but most.

Healthy Dog

Dementia in Dogs

Old dog portraitDementia in dogs-- also known as "canine cognitive dysfunction"-- is similar to Alzheimer's in people and is caused by changes in the brain's chemical balance. The condition often gets off to a slow start with mild, almost imperceptible changes but can speed up quickly. If your dog is getting on in years, be on the lookout for symptoms like disorientation/confusion, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, apathy, lack of self-grooming, loss of appetite, and changes in sleep cycle.

We don't yet have a way to cure dementia in dogs any more than we do in humans. But you can make a great deal of difference to your dog's condition by keeping up a stimulating daily routine of exercise, play, and training. Your veterinarian may also recommend adjustments to your dog's diet as well as nutritional supplements like Omega-3, vitamin E and C, selenium, beta carotene, and L-carnitine, all known to have a positive effect on cognitive function in dogs.


Tips and Tools

4 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Healthy

Canine dental tools

As the Agnes Sligh Turnbull quote reminds us, dogs' only fault is that their lives are too short. Here are four tips for increasing your dogs odds at longevity.

Feed him well. Nothing beats premium fuel in the engine for supporting strong health, feed your dog the best quality food you can afford.

Keep him slim. Overweight increases your dog's risk of developing a myriad of health issues from diabetes to heart disease.

See the doctor. Even when your dog is healthy, schedule regular checkups with your vet for disease prevention and early detection.

Mind his gentle hygiene. Don't neglect teeth brushing and dental checkups. In addition to causing pain and discomfort, oral health issues can lead to heart and kidney disease.


Schedule a Private Training Session
Whether your dog is showing common behavior issues (jumping up, pulling on the leash, puppy nipping) or severe problems (separation distress, guarding food or toys, fear of unfamiliar people, reactivity to other dogs or people, thunderstorm phobia and more) - Get an evaluation and private training.  See the schedule for initial consultations here

Attend a Seminar
Leave your dog at home. Come to learn through presentation, video and demonstration. Volunteers and staff from shelter and rescue groups can attend for free.

Outsmart Your Dog -- Coming in June.
Discover the latest information on how dogs learn and how you can use this information to outsmart your dog at home.

Dogs With Issues -- Starts June 1!
Aggression, Reactivity and Fear – Get practical strategies for immediate relief from your dog's fears.  Learn to control your dog's reactivity through state-of-the-art training options.  Keep everyone safe. 

Take a Class with Your Dog
Reactive Rover -- Starts June 15!
Start your dog's transformation. Walk in the neighborhood without going crazy. Have visitors over comfortably.
Puppy Preschool
 -- Wednesdays at 7:00

The most important class your dog may ever take!  Don't miss your puppy's critical socialization period, 8 to 16 weeks
Get Control! -- Thursdays at 7:00

A single class with quick solutions for jumping up, pulling on the leash, nipping, and excitement barking.
All the Basics
 Obedience - Wednesdays at 8:00

Covering all the obedience skills your dog needs to be a well-mannered member of your family. Have guests over to visit while your dog greets politely, take a walk with your dog easily at your side.
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