A Stress-Free Guide to Pup Playdates

As a pup-parent, you’ve likely met other dog owners and have bonded over a shared love of your four-legged friends. Eventually, the idea for a playdate between your two dogs is likely to come up. The idea seems like a fun one at first, until you remember a few instances of your pup’s bad behavior. Even if your dog is generally well-mannered, you never know how he might act around a stranger, whether human or fur ball. Pup playdates are a good chance to socialize your dog to new experiences and individuals, but there is a right and wrong way to go about them. Avoid a meeting mishap between your dog and his pup-pal by reading this to-do list and ensuring your playdate is a success!

1. Pick a Playmate
Not every dog will be the right friend for your dog. Factors like age, size, sex and energy level should be taken into account to give this playdate the best chance at success. For example, it’s best to pair up dogs of opposite sexes, as dogs of the same sex may see each other as threatening and are more likely to get into fights. This is not to say that two female dogs or two male dogs can never get along, but it is not as encouraged as having a male and female dog play together for the first time. A playmate close in age to your pup is also ideal, as the energy levels of the pups will be more likely to match up, whereas a young, lively puppy might get on the nerves of an older, more tranquil dog. Likewise, it’s best not to have dogs of differing sizes playing together, as one may end up overpowering the other or injuring the other without intention. Finally, make sure your pup is up to date with his vaccinations, and aim to surround him with other vaccinated pups to reduce the chance of spreading illness.

2. Choose a Neutral, Secure Environment
Where the playdate takes place matters just as much as who your pup is spending it with. Like your pup’s playmate, the setting must also be a good match; not too cramped, but also not too spacious. Avoid having the first encounter at your or the other owner’s house, as the dog living there may feel like his territory is being infringed upon when an unfamiliar dog enters it.

3. Take it Slow
For your dog’s first introduction to his new playmate, you will want to maintain a cool, calm demeanor. Since our dogs can pick up on human feelings of stress, going into the meeting with bad feelings can set your dog up for a failed experience. Keep a lax grip on your dog’s leash and encourage him with a praising tone of voice. Most importantly, don’t force the interaction. Despite trying your best to pair your pup with what appears to be the right playmate for him, it still might not be a perfect match. Take it slow by allowing your dog sniff out his playmate and encourage the other owner to do the same. Pay attention to body language to see how both dogs feel about the experience. Tongue-out smiles and wagging tails are signs of a good time, while a stiff body, exposed teeth and growling might be signs to separate the two pooches. But if both pups look relaxed and eager to play with each other, then allow them to play off-leash under your supervision.

4. Break Time
Even if all is going well, your pup and his playmate are bound to get tired sooner or later, so interrupt the play about every five minutes to split up the dogs, allowing them both some time to take a breather. After refueling them with water and treats, you can send them on their way again while keeping a watchful eye.

5. In the Case of a Fight
You’ll know if the encounter turns into a fight if you hear a lot of angry noise or see the dogs tangled up or displaying signs of aggression. Although most dog fights are minor, a risky situation that involves two irritated dogs should be halted immediately to avoid injury or worse. To safely end the fight and avoid getting hurt yourself, spray the dogs with water from a hose or spray bottle to distract them away from the tussle. Alternatively, you can make a loud noise to startle the dogs into silence. Always keep your hands away from either dog’s face. Once the dogs are separated, document any injuries and keep both pups secured on leashes, where they can no longer interact. If you wish, you can give the playdate one last shot on another occasion, but depending on the severity of the fight, you may have to accept the fact that not all of “man’s best friends” are meant to be “best friends.”

Dog playdates can be a fun socialization activity as well as provide a healthy means of exercise. As long as the encounter is kept safe, a pup playdate should be a positive experience for all involved.

Epilepsy in Dogs: Is My Dog at Risk for Seizures?

Seizures don’t just affect those of us who walk on two legs. Our four-legged friends can also suffer from seizures, and if the fits of uncontrollable twitching turn into a pattern, your dog may have epilepsy.

About Canine Seizures
Seizures are uncontrollable outbursts of twitching or shaking which result from surges of electrical activity in your dog’s brain, according to WebMD. They can last anywhere from less than a minute to several minutes. Some causes of seizures in dogs include eating poison, liver disease, a sudden rise or drop in blood sugar, anemia, head injury, stroke and brain cancer.

Signs of an Epileptic Fit

You can usually tell when a dog is having a seizure because of the strange behaviors exhibited. Your dog will likely feel the seizure coming on, and seek out her owner for comfort. After a period of restlessness, whining or hiding, a dog having a seizure will show symptoms like muscle twitching, collapsing, vomiting or foaming at the mouth. Afterward, the dog will experience a period of disorientation ranging from a few minutes to days. She may even be temporarily blind during the recovery period.

Types of Seizures

There are a few different types of seizures. A generalized, or grand mal seizure, is the most common type, in which abnormal electric activity throughout the brain causes the dog to lose consciousness and shake erratically. Conversely, in a focal seizure, the abnormal electrical activity only occurs in one part of the brain, and will likewise cause movements in only one side or part of the body. Sometimes seizures start as focal and then become generalized. A psychomotor seizure takes the form of an odd behavior, such as interacting with an imaginary object or some other apparent hallucination. Whatever the behavior is, the same one will repeat in future seizures. Finally, seizures with no known cause fall under idiopathic epilepsy. They usually occur in dogs six months to six years old, and are most common in Labrador Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, Beagles, Belgian Tervurens and Collies.

What to Do
If you notice your dog having a seizure, remain calm. Avoid contact with her until she has calmed down, but if there is something nearby that may hurt her, be sure to move the object or gently slide her away, taking care to stay away from her mouth. If the seizure lasts more than two minutes, your dog is at risk of overheating. Any longer than five minutes, time to take her to the vet.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Be sure to record observations of your dog’s seizures. If a pattern develops, your vet should be able to identify the type of seizures and administer the appropriate medications. For example, valium may be given intravenously to control prolonged convulsions. And, to regulate future seizures, vets commonly prescribe phenobarbital and potassium bromide. It’s very important to adhere to the dosage recommended by your vet. It’s also recommended to check liver function before giving your dog anti-epileptic medications. While there is no cure for epilepsy, appropriate treatment can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of these frightful fits.

Tips to Curb a Dog that Digs

He’s done it again! Fido’s dug a hole right in the middle of your freshly-pruned row of Petunias. Digging can be one of the most frustrating doggy behaviors, as well as one of the hardest to stop. Below are some pointers to keep your dog’s destructive habit from digging a hole into your brain.

Step 1: Identify the Causes

There are many possible causes of a dog’s digging that go beyond their simple enjoyment of the act. Once you identify the reason (or reasons) for your dog’s digging, it will be much easier to come up with a solution. A few of the fascinating causes for digging include:

• Entertainment—If you’ve seen the wide, gleaming smile of a dog digging a hole in the backyard, you know he has no qualms about tearing apart your garden; digging is just plain fun.
• Temperature Control—In the hot summer months, your dog might find a hole in the ground the perfect spot to cool down. Similarly, getting into a hole he’s dug can offer him more warmth when it’s cold out than staying above ground.
• Escape—High fences or gates aren’t always enough to keep a rebellious dog with a taste for wanderlust contained. Your dog may be trying to get away, at least for a little while.
• Hormones—Both male and female dogs may try to dig their way out of the yard in order to sniff out a mate.
• Burying Objects—Dogs dig to save food, bones and other prized possessions for later while keeping them hidden away from others.
• Natural Instinct—Some dog breeds like to dig more than others; it’s just in their nature. Thick-coated dogs such as Siberian Huskies and Chow Chows might dig to escape the heat, while earth dogs such as Terriers and Dachshunds were bred to do the very thing that gets under your skin—or lawn.

Step 2: Breaking the Habit

While there are no foolproof solutions to a dog’s digging, there are measures you can take to lessen the behavior. Depending on the cause for the digging, the appropriate solution may vary.

• Keep Him Busy—If your dog resorts to digging as a form of entertainment, he may not be getting the proper attention at home. Prevent boredom in your pup by scheduling daily playtime and exercise.
• Keep It Cool—If your dog is digging because he is hot or because of physical discomfort or distress, make sure you pay attention to him and provide him with what he needs to stay cool and comfortable.
• Get Him “Fixed”—Spaying or neutering makes a dog less likely to wander in search of a mate. Coupled with regular exercise, this can solve escapism, as well as curb hormonal instincts.
• Limit Treats—To get your dog to stop burying his food, don’t give him more than he will finish. If you see him trying to stash a treat for later, quickly take it out of his mouth before he has a chance to bury it. If he reacts aggressively to this gesture, it’s a sign your dog needs immediate professional help.
• Compromise—There’s not much you can do to stop a dog from digging if it’s his natural-born instinct. If he’s digging for temperature control, you can trim his fur in the summer or give him a sweater in the winter. But what if he’s a Terrier with digging in his blood? In this case, it may be best to designate a single spot in the yard where he can dig, rather than him digging holes all over the place.

Step 3: Reward, Reward, Reward

When training your dog, one of the best ways to get your desired outcome is to reward positive behavior. This is called positive reinforcement, and is often more effective than punishment. The same goes for training your dog to stop digging. Instead of scolding your dog for digging, reward him with praise and treats for obeying commands, reacting calmly or digging in the right spot. Hopefully, both you and Fido will dig the end result.

Keeping Your Dog Fresh and Clean Between Baths

Fluffy comes home from the groomer’s looking prim and perfect, with a coat as white as snow. The next day on your walk, she rolls around in a pile of manure, practically undoing the maintenance of yesterday, but it’s too early for another bath. What’s a dog owner to do?

Taking your dog to the groomer’s can get expensive and time-consuming, especially if your pup is one to get into all types of smelly trouble. We’ve got you covered with a list of tips and products to keep Fluffy smelling fresh before her next bath and after playtime.

Brush Early and Often
You might have had the experience of trying to comb a massive knot from your pup’s fur. Mats in your dog’s fur are not only unsightly, but they can also cause pain and discomfort for your dog. The good news is that matted fur can easily be prevented with regularly brushing. For long- or thick-haired breeds, daily brushing is recommended. You can even purchase a fur-detangling spray to make your dog’s fur easier to work with before brushing.

Try Doggy Wipes
Doggy wipes are an easy and convenient way to freshen up your pup when there’s no time for a full blown bath. You can use them on your dog’s entire body, or on particularly dirty areas like the paws or rear-end. While they aren’t a replacement for a proper bath, many dog owners love using wipes like these when they’re on the go.

Dry Shampoo: Not Just for Humans
For those of you unfamiliar with the recent fad, dry shampoo is a powder that is used to remove excess oil from the hair while deodorizing and cleaning. Just rub the formula into your pup’s fur and brush it out. (She’ll most likely take care of the rest by giving a big shake.) Once again, this is not a replacement for bathing, but rather a quick on-the-go solution.

Spritz on Some Fragrance
Doggy perfumes or colognes can be used in the same way that human fragrances are used—to add an extra bit of “oomph” on a special occasion, or alternatively, to hide an unwanted stench. While some doggy perfumes are made to mimic popular human brands, you should NEVER spray your dog with a human fragrance, as it can cause severe irritation.

Keep Her Bedding Clean
A dirty bed not only makes for a dirty dog, but a smelly general living space. Alleviate the lingering odor of dirty dog bedding by cleaning out your dog’s bed, blankets and other possessions on a regular basis. Products like NuVet Stain & Odor Remover can effectively eliminate both physical and airborne signs of a dirty doghouse.

Give Her a Teeth Cleaning Treat
You can spray and wipe your pooch all you want, but without good dental hygiene, you’ll surely smell your pup before you see her. A teeth cleaning treat like this one can keep her teeth clean while giving her something to chew on.

You don’t have to worry about a dirty pup when your next grooming appointment is still weeks away. Simple hygiene pup-keep can keep her looking and smelling her best, both before and after the groomer’s!

Managing Your Dog’s Tendency to Jump on People

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and had their dog jump up on you? While some dog lovers may not think twice and some may even welcome this behavior, others could be taken aback, frightened, or annoyed. The truth is, dogs shouldn’t jump on people, whether it’s their own family members, a house guest or stranger. Learning how to manage your dog’s inclination to jump is essential to having a safe, happy household for both your puppy and your family.

You Make Me Wanna Jump, Jump: Why They Do It
There are several explanations for a dog’s tendency to jump on people. Although this behavior may sometimes simply be a result of your pup’s overwhelming excitement or desire to play, it may also be rooted in a dog’s instinctive desire to reflect their standing in their ‘pack.’ When dogs greet one another, they sniff each other’s faces. Therefore, jumping up on you is widely believed to be an attempt to level their height with yours and greet you as an equal. A dog may also be trying to reach your face in order to lick it, which is a learned behavior that indicates submissiveness. Puppies licking around their mothers’ mouths shows her that they are submissive to her (“sorry, mom!”), so this behavior is meant to demonstrate to you that your pup views you as her leader.

Conversely, jumping may also be a dog’s reaction to feeling uneasy when someone (especially someone new) comes into the house. In this case, jumping is an attempt to show the pup’s dominance over this visitor. Your pup may also be jumping because she is anxious, and has quickly learned that if she jumps on you, she will be picked up and held close or petted.

Fix the Problem
It’s best to correct this problem during puppyhood, when your puppy is busy growing, absorbing information and learning how to become a well-behaved family member. If the jumping continues past these early years, it’s much more likely that the dog could frighten, or worse, injure someone. At a young age, a puppy’s biological mother teaches boundaries in a firm, calm manner. You should take a similar approach to correcting this behavior, and establish your expectations early on.

The most widely accepted way to stop a dog from jumping is to simply ignore it. Each time the dog jumps up, turn away, and don’t look or speak to your dog. Only reward her with your attention once she has had all four paws on the ground for several seconds. If the pup jumps again, repeat the process until she is back on all fours once again.

It’s always a good idea to reward your dog with attention once she is calm, even if you are irritated at her for jumping. Yelling at the puppy or scolding her is generally considered not to be as effective as simply withholding affection and attention until the bad behavior is no longer happening. This will allow your puppy to make the connection between having all four feet on the floor and getting all the belly rubs and cuddles she wants!

If you believe your dog is jumping on guests to assert control, you should consider not allowing her to greet guests right away. Confine the dog and allow her to greet guests once she has calmed down. If your pup acts aggressive towards visitors, it may be best to simply keep them separated – this will keep both the guests and the dogs safer and happier.

Consistency is Key
Being inconsistent in your treatment of this behavior will only lead to misunderstanding and anxiety in your dog as well as frustration for you as the behavior will not change. Be clear every time you encounter the behavior that it is unacceptable, and that you will only greet a dog who has all four feet on the ground! It will be confusing for your puppy if you allow her to jump on you but then expect her not to jump on guests. Pick one approach, and stick with it! You can even involve your close family or friends in your puppy’s training, and show them how to treat the behavior when they come over. Pretty soon, you’ll have a polite, well-behaved furever friend ready to be part of the greeting committee at your home.

Clean Your Dog’s Ears in Just a Few Easy Steps

With all of the upkeep that goes into caring for your beloved pooch, ear cleaning can be an easily forgotten hygiene task. But don’t play this health regimen “by ear,” if you catch our drift. It’s imperative to clean your dog’s ear canals on a regular basis and keep them unobstructed to prevent infection, discomfort and in worse cases, hearing loss. Convinced yet?

You may know that dogs have superior hearing to humans, yet surprisingly, their ears do not have a mechanism for self-cleaning. Your pooch needs YOUR help to get his ears up to their optimal performance. Cleaning your dog’s ears at home is not only a good potential bonding activity, but it also saves money on vet or grooming visits, where the professionals will charge extra for the simple service.

Follow these easy steps to clean your dog’s ears properly and safely:

1. Inspect your dog’s ears carefully. Once he’s in a comfortable sitting or standing position and you have easy access and visibility into his ear canals, take a close look. If you only see dirt or ear wax, your dog’s likely in good shape and ready for his ear cleaning. If you happen to see any of the following warning signs, stop right away and call your vet: drainage of fluid or discharge, foul smell, redness, swelling, crusty texture, hair loss, thick waxy material, scratches, scabs, wounds, mites, ticks, fleas or parasites. Also, if the earwax is brown or black, it’s a sign that he has an infection. Call your vet and schedule an appointment right away as cleaning an already infected ear could make the condition worse. Do not under any circumstance, use a Q-tip in your dog’s ear. You can easily rupture an eardrum or injure your dog with this instrument.

2. Use a commercial all-purpose dog ear cleaning solution or make your own. Products such as NuVet Ear Cleaner and Life’s Abundance Ear Care Formula use natural ingredients to alleviate common ear hygiene issues. To concoct the fluid yourself, mix a few tablespoons of vinegar with the same amount of rubbing alcohol together in a clean bowl. Make sure the solution is at room temperature as cold liquid in the ear can be very uncomfortable for your pooch.

3. Dip a cotton ball into the liquid. Squeeze out the excess so the cotton is wet but not dripping. If you have a very small dog, you may want to use just a half of a cotton ball. An alternative is to wrap a piece of gauze around your pointer finger, hold in place between your thumb and middle finger, and dip into the liquid. Again, the gauze shouldn’t be sopping wet.

4. Swab the inside of your dog’s ear flap. Gently remove all dirt and debris you can see. This process may take quite a few cotton balls. As long as you’re calm and stay towards the front of the hearing canal, your dog should tolerate this procedure very well. Be thorough in cleaning out all the crevices where dirt and wax build up the most. Remember to clean carefully as the delicate skin in the ear canal can easily be broken and vinegar and alcohol can sting.

5. If deeper clean is needed, call the vet. If you notice after several swabs, that there is still a lot of debris, dirt and wax in the ear, it’s worth a call to your vet to get approval for a full irrigation. Once you receive the “ok,” put the solution in a squeeze bottle and drench the ears completely, then gently rub the base of the ear and massage the ear carefully for a minute. Use dry cotton ball or gauze to clean out the gunk that comes out. This process should remove most if not all of the sticky, thick material from the ears.

6. Let your dog clear out his ears. You’ll notice your dog immediately have the urge to shake his head after the cleaning. Let him do so, but make sure to turn away so you don’t get fluid or debris in your eyes. The head shaking will help shake out any excess liquid out of the ear canal.

New Year’s Resolutions to Set With Your Dog

“New year, new me!” Many of us recite this saying to ourselves every New Year in hopes of self-improvement, but we often forget to include our furry friends in our resolutions. This New Year, aim to make a few resolutions that that will improve the relationship between you and your dog. Instead of the tired old mantra, this year think: “New year, new us!” Here are some New Year’s resolutions to make together, as well as practical ways to help you stick to them.

Make Time for Playtime
Dogs can get irritable and destructive if they’re left idle for too long. If this sounds like your dog, then you might want to take a look in the mirror and assess whether your lifestyle is contributing to your dog’s bad behavior. Your dog may be craving your attention, but not getting enough of it. Making time for physical play gives your pup exercise, mental stimulation and a healthy release of otherwise dangerous energy. Therefore, it’s imperative for you as your dog’s parent to give him an appropriate amount of attention; depending on the breed, this amount may be more or less. If you’re not spending enough time playing with your pup because of a busy schedule, you may want to enroll him into a doggy daycare, or have a dog sitter or walker look after him while you are away.

Stay Active and Well

Health is just as much a canine issue as it is a human one, so this year, resolve to be your dog’s best workout partner. Whether it’s a simple walk around the block or a run on the beach, there are plenty of ways to get exercise that both you and your pup will enjoy. Start with a small goal just outside of your comfort level, then turn it into a routine that you can follow realistically. Don’t forget about a healthy diet—just as it’s important for you to limit your own fat and sugar intake, you should also resist giving your pup too many treats. Saying “no” to those pleading eyes may be more challenging than resisting your own cravings, but it will be worth it in the long run to see a healthy pup who has the energy to play with you for years to come.

Visit the Vet
When’s the last time your dog went in for a checkup? Regular veterinary visits shouldn’t be viewed as a hassle, but rather, as an opportunity to ask questions, gain insight, and prevent health problems in the future. Getting a professional’s advice will give you peace of mind and help you understand your dog better. So don’t delay this necessary maintenance any longer; schedule an appointment with your vet before the next ball drops.

Learn Something New
Old or young, any dog can benefit from learning a new trick or two. Challenging your dog with new tricks is not only a fun bonding experience for the two of you, but it’s also great mental exercise for a dog of any age, keeping your pup’s brain sharp and high functioning. New tricks are also good for obedience training, since your dog will have practice obeying your commands. Plus, he’ll love the reward he gets at the end! By teaching your pup something new this year, he’ll get adequate mental stimulation, while you get another way to impress your friends and show off your clever canine.

This list of resolutions is a good start for reinvigorating your relationship with your furry friend. What New Year’s resolutions are you making with your dog this year? Comment below!

10 Puppies Celebrate the Holiday Season

We each have our own way of celebrating the holidays. Check out how these 10 pups embrace the holiday season!

This pup is ready to devour his turkey.dog-eating-turkey-2

This Chihuahua is eyeing the last piece of pumpkin pie. Dibs!chihuaua-pumpkin-pie

This puppy thinks she’s a gift for all to behold.puppy-in-gift-box

This pup is all wrapped up the spirit of the holidays.puppy-christmas-lights

This puppy was just dropped off by Santa—and now he’s just hanging out.stocking-puppy

This dog is getting lit for the holidays.hannukah-dog

This puppy wants to know what flavor the green ornament is.puppy-eating-ornament

This pup just took a selfie with his new smartphone.jack-russel-with-iphone

This puppy is crashing after a candy cane sugar high.puppy-with-candycane

This party animal wishes you a happy New Year!new-years-dog

7 Dogs Who Live a More Pampered Life Than You Ever Will

It’s a known fact that many dogs live “the life.” They have a home-cooked meal three times a day, more clothes than Cher Horowitz and endless amounts of puppy love. We’ve compiled a list of seven dogs who probably live a more pampered life than you ever will.

Source: JillDoppel.com

This Yorkie in a custom dress and matching necklace.


This Sheltie getting some R+R in a bathtub straight out of Architectural Digest.

Source: @Zeus.the_husky

This Chihuahua’s first birthday party is more intricate than any one-year-old human’s party we’ve ever attended.


This Husky whose daily nap makes grown adults everywhere long for the days of scheduled sleep.

Source: @teddygramnyc

This English Bulldog’s handmade tutu complete with full-on photoshoot backdrop.

This doodle who takes a cab rather than having to brave the streets of NYC.lavish-dog-7

This Maltese has his own train and isn’t afraid to “toot” his own horn.

5 Holiday Gifts for Fido

The most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner! This year, why not stuff Santa’s stockings with your favorite furry friends in mind? Whether looking for a gift for a friend’s dog or your own precious pup, here are 5 gifts that will be sure to fill any dog with holiday cheer!

1. Festive Sweater

Image from puppykisses.com
Source: puppykisses.com

What better way to show your holiday spirit than with a festive “ugly Christmas sweater?” With a sweater like this, your pooch will fit right in with the family while also staying warm and cozy. This makes an especially great gift for more cold-prone pups like Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and Doberman Pinschers. This page has lots of cute sweater options to choose from.

2. Christmas Collar

Image from puppykisses.com
Source: puppykisses.com                                                                     

If sweaters aren’t your thing, a statement collar is a quick and easy way for your pup to celebrate the holidays in style. Go all out with a colorful, ruffled collar, or keep it simple with a basic red or green piece. You can even buy one that lights up!

3. Sweet Treats

Image from drsfostersmith.com
Source: drsfostersmith.com                                                 

For those of us who favor gifts of the edible variety, there are plenty of holiday-themed dog treats out there that will have your pup howling with gratitude.

4. Spirited Toy

Image from puppykisses.com
Source: puppykisses.com                                             

Other than food, it’s no surprise that playtime will be one of your pup’s favorite gifts. Put him in the spirit with a squeaky reindeer , snowman plush or stuffed dreidel toy , like the one above.

5. Get Personal

Image from personalizationmall.com
Source: personalizationmall.com                            

If your dog loves to claim what’s his, a custom gift with his name on it might be just what he needs. Get him a personalized food bowl, decked-out dog tag or custom bedding to show him how much you care. Find more examples of custom gifts to spoil your furry friend with here.


Can You Read Your Dog’s Body Language?

Every pup parent wishes their dog could talk and wonders what their dog would say if she could. Humans are verbal creatures and it can be frustrating to communicate with non-verbal animals. The good news however is that your dog DOES communicate. You just need to understand how to interpret her non-verbal signs.

Just as some words can mean different things in different contexts, dog body language can vary from animal to animal and it takes a perceptive pup parent to get the right “feel” for how your dog communicates. Yet, to get a general sense of what your dog is trying to tell you, here are some common body language signs and their corresponding meanings. Take each with a grain of salt!

Language Signaling Nervousness or Anxiety

Wide eyes: Your dog is afraid or uncomfortable. Try to remove her from the situation she’s currently in as soon as possible.

Ears pulled back: This is a sign of nervousness or anxiety.

Bristled fur: A sign of aggression.

Yawning: Many believe this to mean a dog is tired; however it can also signal that your dog is overwhelmed or anxious. Consider the situation when deciding what your dog’s yawn means.

Rolling onto her back: She may be asking for belly rubs because she’s feeling playful, or she could be nervous and looking for comfort. In general, if she’s more stiff, she’s more likely to be anxious than happy.

Wagging tail: Tail wagging is a frequently misinterpreted sign. Most people believe a wagging tail only means a dog is happy, which of course is often true, but some dogs also wag their tails when aroused, overstimulated and frustrated. You can usually tell the difference by looking at what the rest of the body is doing.

Raising one front paw: Your pup is telling you she’s feeling uncertain. Some do this when they need more time in the backyard to go potty, too.

Bared teeth: Paired with other signs of nervousness, a dog showing her teeth is acting aggressively. Some dogs can show teeth when they are hot or happy though, as well. You can tell the difference if the rest of the dog’s signals are relaxed.

Lack of eye contact: If a dog refuses to look at something, chances are it’s frightening her. It’s pretty easy to tell when a dog is just scoping out the scene versus pointedly trying not to look at something. As you get to know your dog better, you’ll be able to tell the difference.

Sitting: If you didn’t ask your dog to sit, and she sits down in a hurry, she may be tense, especially if she freezes and shows other nervous signs, like staring straight ahead or lifting a paw.

Shaking: Is your dog cold? If not, she’s probably scared. If you’ve noticed your dog shaking during a thunderstorm or fireworks for example, you’ll be able to associate the sign with frightening situations.

Signs of Curiosity or Anticipation

Head cocked: When a dog cocks its head to one side or the other, they’re assessing the situation to better understand their surroundings and gain a sense of security.

Front paw lifted: Your dog is anticipating what will happen next and preparing her reaction.

Mouth closed: Similar to the front paw lifted, your dog is sizing up the situation to determine her next move.

Language Showing Relaxed Demeanor

A proud pup parent knows the true signs of a happy pooch, but here are a few reminders if for nothing else than a prime photo opp:

Mouth slightly open: Especially if the dog’s tongue is relaxed and lolling to one side, consider this a state of euphoric contentment.

Small body freezes during play: Your pooch is excited and joyful from the social interaction.

Turning over, inviting belly rub: This move demonstrates trust and the desire for affection.

Tail wagging fast: Depending on the length and look of the tail, some people call this move “helicopter tail,” which is a true sign of happiness

Squinty or blinking eyes: You may notice this expression when you’re giving your dog a head massage or back rub – it’s almost as if she could nod off at any moment – the true look of relaxation!

Winter Hazards and Keeping Puppy Safe

For many, it can be the most beautiful time of year full of holiday festivity, snowy landscapes and warm fires. But, winter can also be a dangerous time of year…especially for our four-legged, furry friends. It’s crucial to be aware of winter-specific hazards so the necessary steps are taken to ensure our pets’ health and safety.

Indoor Threats

Heat Sources – Fires, candles, space heaters and wood-burning stoves create the dangerous potential for burns and smoke inhalation. The crackle, flickering light and warmth of a fire can be interesting stimulation to dogs, so make sure your dog is never left alone in a room with open flames or hot electric elements. And of course when a fire is lit, monitor your dog closely so he doesn’t get near it and endanger himself or those around him.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Remember to check all furnaces, gas water heaters and gas/kerosene space heaters regularly for any leakages. Since dogs tend to be indoors for longer periods of time during the winter, they are more at risk to exposure if there are leaks, which can cause serious health issues and even be fatal. Checking your smoke detector (or purchasing one if you don’t already have one) will help protect your pet and your family. Keep in mind carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen if dogs are left in cars too long with the motor running or kept in a garage near a running car.

Outdoor Threats

Cold Weather – Just like human beings, dogs are susceptible to serious health conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia (low body temperature) if kept outside too long in frigid weather. Make sure you take the necessary precautions such as keeping your dog away from frozen water and thin ice to prevent drowning as well as making sure your dog has fresh, unfrozen water available to him and the ability to come inside if he needs to. If your dog has a dog house or igloo outside, make sure the interior is insulated. A good layer of straw or safely heated mats are options to keep your dog warm and comfortable. Older or ill dogs should be kept inside when possible to prevent their health conditions from worsening. If your dog is short-haired, consider dressing him in a sweater with high collar or turtleneck to cover him from the base of the tail to the belly. Also, avoid shaving your dog down in the colder months. A longer coat will provide him with more warmth.

Chemicals – Ice melts and salts as well as the chemicals ethylene glycol and methanol found in antifreeze and windshield wiper fluids are dangerously toxic and can cause serious, if not fatal health problems if your dog ingests them. Ice melts and salts can stick to the bottom of your dog’s paws, so make sure you wash their paws after all outdoor walks and remove any snow balls from between his foot pads where these chemicals could be present. If your dog is long-haired, trim him to minimize clinging ice balls, salt crystals or de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin.


1. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your dog as soon as he comes indoors. Repeatedly coming out of the cold and into dry heat can cause itchy, flaky skin.

2. Bathe your pets minimally during cold spells. Washing too often can also cause dryness and remove essential oils from their skin. When you do bathe your dog, use a moisturizing shampoo.

3. Pets burn extra energy during the wintertime in order to stay warm. By feeding your dog a bit more during the cold months, the extra calories will provide additional sustenance. Always providing plenty of water to keep your dog well-hydrated is also crucial.

4. At night, temperatures drop significantly. Make sure your pooch has a warm place to sleep, off a cold floor and away from any drafts. A cozy bed with warm blanket is a good option.

Training Your Dog for the Busy Holiday Season

As the smells and sights of Christmastime fill the air this time of year, so do emotions of excitement and anticipation. While the holidays are a time of joy for many, the busy schedules leading up to them can leave people overcome with stress and anxiety, and unfortunately our dogs often pick up on these feelings as well. To prevent your restless pup from ravaging the house and misbehaving when guests come over for the holidays, it is important to start preventative training beforehand. Here’s a guide to keeping an energetic or anxious pup in check so the holidays stay cheerful for both humans and our four-legged friends.

Call a Professional

If your dog is still a puppy who likes to play by her own rules, it may be a good idea to enroll her in obedience classes. This may be an especially viable option for those who fear aggressive behaviors from their pooch, which may be triggered when new family or friends come into the picture. If you don’t see yourself being able to train your pup before the holidays, it may be time to call a professional.

Invest in a Crate

A crate can be a very helpful tool in containing an overactive puppy. As soon as you sense your pup getting antsy around guests, it’s time to take a proactive approach by pulling her away from the situation and placing her in a crate. Even if your dog isn’t the type to bite others, new, stressful situations such as a busy holiday get-together may spark behavior you’ve never seen in her before. This is why it pays to have a crate handy, especially for younger dogs whose behavior can be unpredictable. And if you start crate training prior to your event, your dog will be comfortable going in her crate when you ask her to.

Utilize the “Sit” Command
The “sit” command is probably one of the first things you’ll teach your dog to do, and it’s also the foundation of proper obedience. With the right training, this simple command will come in handy to control a jumpy dog who pounces on every guest who enters the door. Now, your guests might not mind if there’s a tiny fur ball scraping at their ankles, but if it’s a larger, more menacing-looking breed who’s practically leaping atop their laps, it may be a cause of concern. Teach your dog to sit when she approaches you, and reward the behavior so she does the same in front of guests. This command also works for when your little beggar comes out during mealtime. Combined with a firm “stay” or “down,” the command can be especially effective. Yet, if you still find your pup pestering your guests for food, then it’s time to break out the crate.

Praise Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement is one of the fundamental techniques to encouraging desired behaviors from your dog. By rewarding her with treats and praise every time she behaves favorably, you can, in theory get your dog to do almost anything. Get your family involved, too! Invite willing guests to praise your dog for good behavior such as sitting and staying away. You can even give a small baggy of dog treats to each guest to use when your pup acts calmly around them. And finally, when you reward the positive, you, your furry best friend and everyone she meets will all benefit.