Saturday, April 11, 2009

Is My Dog Too Fat? Part 1

A friend with a Shiba Inu recently asked me if I thought the family dog was too fat. Shibas with their offstanding coat can look much wider than they really are. My friend's dog was actually fine.
But it got me thinking on the subject of feeding dogs and specifically feeding them table scraps.
Unless you are actually taking the time to prepare a full balanced diet for your dog, I don't recommend feeding people food. Your dog won't do well with our highly spiced diet and it will tend to make him turn up his nose at his regular balanced food. It's like feeding your child nothing but ice cream and potato chips. After a while you find that you can't get him to eat his peas!
But its fun to give your dog treats so I give mine raw veggies. Carrots, brocolli, cauliflower and even raw potatoes are great choices. And the veggies don't spoil their appetite.
Best Sandy

Friday, April 3, 2009

Small Dog Dominance

Hi Sandy,

Hope you are doing well. I have a question regarding Yoyo and Tony. For some odd reason these two only get along with each other. The problem starts when we have other pet guests they seem to growl and are always on attack mode especially Tony. Tony has a habit of biting strangers at their ankles he has bit UPS deliverymen, my cousin to name a few. I am not very comfortable leaving him alone around children. What can I do to prevent some of his behavior? I cannot watch him 24/7 when I have family members or friends visiting. I loved your website especially the pics.

GJ, Atlanta, GA

Tony's problem is one of dominance and the biting of ankles is basically his effort to herd people around. Guarding the house against other pets is somewhat different; he is protecting his territory. Many Silkys are aggressive towards other dogs, and while this can be toned down, it is against their nature to eliminate it entirely. You are not going to turn an alpha Silky into a cocker spaniel, no matter what you do.

The key here is the word alpha. Tony is demonstrating to you that he feels like your boss. This is not good! Last time I checked, dogs cannot answer the telephone or pay a mortgage. Even though he is not a puppy, Tony needs training to show him that you are his boss, not the other way around. I'm sure there are good obedience classes in your area. You can go on, click on Show Information, then Search By State. Click on Georgia then scroll down the shows to find an obedience club that looks fairly local. The club show page will have names and numbers of officers who can help you find a good local class. Given some good training under his belt, Tony can definitely learn that chewing on ankles is not acceptable behavior, and while I don't see him ever "playing nice" with strange dogs, a well trained Tony with a solid understanding of "DOWN!!" and "STAY!!!" will at least avoid getting killed by an irate big dog who had had enough of his nonsense.

Please keep me posted.

Best, Sandy

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Small Dogs Shaking

Hello Ms./Mrs. Mesmer
Your website is very informative. We've had silkys now for about 3 years and learned more from your site than from anyone we have talked to during that time.
We have a pair, Princess about 3 years and Sammy about 2 years, well one last male from our first litter, little buddy, he's 4 months. We haven't tried to show them, just love them, and have had one litter, making several people very happy.
Your site invited questions, one thing that really bothers us, and the only answer we can get about it is don't worry, they all do that. Perhaps you know the answer...
Both dogs, tremble and shake from time to time, I've began to think Princess uses it to make us feel sorry, so she can get her own way. But Sammy "Yosemite Sam" seems really frightened and shivers and demands cuddled at times and seems to last a few days.
There is no health problem. I did notice once a sharp sound set him off, but most of the time it seems random. One night it was so violent we rushed him to a 24 hour vet. several miles away. who couldn't find anything other than an slight ear infection. Our Vet is only open regular hours.
Anyway, Do you know why they shiver and shake? seems everyone we know, there dogs do the same. Not as bad as Sammy but to some degree.
Thank You in advance. Gordon

Dear Gordon,

I am so glad you like my website. In answer to your question about your dogs shaking:

First of all good for you that you have thoroughly checked out any medical reason why they shiver. That was definitely a good first step.

It sounds to me that your two dogs are simply shy. It would actually cause me to hesitate continuing to breed them, especially together, as they will tend to perpetuate this negative trait in any offspring they have.

However all is not lost. I have occasionally had a shy dog, and I found that it is basically an issue of confidence. A fabulous way to instill general confidence in your dog is obedience training. There are lots of good classes available, from store classes to professional trainer group classes to training clubs affiliated with the AKC. Just be sure to do the training yourself. It does you no good to have your dog confident around his or her trainer, and you will have a lot to learn as well.

Additionally please make sure when you work with your dogs that you don't feed their anxieties. A solicitous voice, bending over them to reassure them communicates to your pet that you are worried that they are okay. They will respond to this by being more worried! Not what you are going for! No, your attitude needs to be: of course they are wonderful, of course they can do this -- you need to be calm and certain. This will give them every chance to be so as well.

Best, Sandy

Thank You Sandy

In 3 years of asking people this is the first real answer. Most of the time I get, "All small breed dogs do that."
Thank You Again

Pottying on Lead

I often get asked why it's so hard to potty a small dog on lead. They sniff and sniff until you feel they know every blade of grass on a very personal basis, yet they won't go. Then you decide that they don't really need to go, come back inside and -- boom-- they do their business right there. What's with that?
I think it's important that you realize how much you communicate to your dog through the lead. If the lead is tight or you are jerking them in any way from place to place, realize: I am telling my dog that he must be under my control and do what I say. And just like we like to do our business in a quiet, unstressed environment, so do our dogs.
So first and foremost, loosen up. Loosen your hand on the lead. Go to where you want your dog to go. Stop. Become a post. Let your dog walk round you, finding the right spot. Watch the pretty clouds. Or an interesting tree. Pretty soon, if he needs to go, he will squat. Then praise. Continue this until he looks like he's done. Then take a nice walk. You don't want to head straight back to the door as soon as he's done because that tells your dog that the longer he holds it, the longer the walk will be.
This way pottying on lead can become a regular and happy routine.