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.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Emergency Treatment for Buffo Toads

If you live in the South, you run the risk that sooner or later your small dog will encounter a buffo toad. I am of course not a vet but my years of breeding and showing have taught me that when your dog meets up with a buffo, there are things you must do immediately to save his life.

As spring freshens and the oak flowers drop, so do toads emerge -- cute brown toads and very occasionally buffos. These are monster creatures that can get as big as a dinner plate. And they are highly, highly poisonous. My Jimmy (World Ch. Tessier Jimmy Mack) died in 2000 from a close encounter with such a toad. Even mouthing such a creature allows the poison to enter the dog’s system. Death occurs in less than an hour.

First of all, if you live on the east coast of Florida below about Jupiter, do not leave your dog outside for more than a quick potty break in the evening. Buffos, like all toads, are nocturnal. And they are more prevalent on the east than west coast of Florida.

A few years ago my Shiela came in the house foaming at the mouth.I suspected that she has had a run-in with a buffo. I knew I did not have time to speed to the vet. Shiela would probably have been dead by the time I got there. I put her in the kitchen sink, fed her spoonfuls of baking soda and flooded her mouth with my spray attachment for about 20 minutes. I fed her 5 spoonfuls, correct for body size of about 8 pounds, but I knew I couldn't give her too much. Yes, I was sopping wet from Shiela spraying me when she shook and my kitchen resembled a lake by the end but Shiela was alive.

Then I took her to the vet. And she was fine if not for the shivering from being wet for so long.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Soapbox -- Update

Due in no small part to the howls of protest from all over the state, HB 451 was amended yesterday to a bill asking for an additional $5.00 to do towards low cost spay/neuter -- something I think we can all agree with! Many many thanks to everyone that let their voices be heard against this bad bill.
But we're not done yet. Our friends at PETA and HSUS have introduced another bill, it's State Bill 2002 and it's identical companion in the House HB1249. This is called "The Commercial Breeder's Bill" and it starts out with "If you have more than 50 dogs..." sounds okay, right? Yes, but the devil is in the details. For example, if you have a pet store, you are exempt. And if you have 10 or more dogs in your house, intact or not, your house can be searched at any time without a warrant, whether or not anyone has filed a complaint. The fact that this is blatantly unconstitutional doesn't seem to bother our friends at PETA. More details and a link to the full bill can be found at
What can you do? Go on, find out who is your State Rep and Senator and let them know how you feel.
Hopefully I'll be back to small dog training tips tomorrow, and another "Crazy Humans" is on it's way.
Best, Sandy

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Soapbox -- Ban Mandatory Spay/Neuter and Other Anti-Pet Legislation

Over the last several years there has been an increasing wave of proposed bills that seek to restrict the rights of all breeders and fanciers.

I am a huge believer in responsible dog ownership and "ban the deed" as opposed to any sort of mandatory legislation. For example, the city in North America which has the lowest kill rate in their shelters is Calgary -- they have no "mandatory this or that" legislation at all but a very active ownership education program.

There are problems but they need to be addressed individually. Addressed as a blanket statement the problem won't get handled, just moved out of that particular city, county, state or nation. What all this mandatory legislation does is ban the honest, usually show breeder. This is the person who does all necessary tests on his or her dogs, screens owners carefully, is always willing to take a dog back and truly cares about the future of his or her breed.

An excellent article appeared recently in the LA Times -- if the below link doesn't work, it was written by Judith Lewis in the Opinion Section titled The Obama Family Dog.,0,7144557.story

I really wonder about the individuals behind this wave of proposed legislation. Do they want us to have pets? Or maybe they think we would be better off in a world where no one ever owned an animal? Makes me really wonder.

Best, Sandy

Monday, March 23, 2009

Carsick Barbie

I had a question about this recently. Sorry -- I lost the specific email into the mists of my Inbox, but anyways, here is my answer.

My dogs travel all the time with me in the car. They come along to dog shows of course but when they are little I bring them along on bank runs (the teller always gives out biscuits) even long before the puppies get to come along to the park.

Most of my dogs love going on car rides. But not Barbie. She was terrified of the car. Came out of her crate drooling so badly that she had looked like she had been under a hose.

To help her (and me), I started putting Barbie in the car in a gradient. First of all, I never put her in the car loose, only in her crate. A crate trained dog treats their crate like a security blanket. So first I put her in the car in my drive way for 5 minutes. Then I made it longer. Then I took her with me in the car. Not long trips, just around town. It was important to do frequent small trips. It was also important not to coo and sweet talk her in the car. I've always found that cooing tells the dog that there's something wrong. Eventually Barbie drooled less and less, until she stopped. She was never thrilled about car rides, but she ceased being terrified.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chasing as a Game

Hi Sandy
We checked out your Blog site and it looks good. I tried to add us to the site by following your directions but I don't know which service to add as I already have a home page and don't want to make it Google or any other.
I've added it to my favorite list and can access it that way.
We bought Abby from you and are really enjoying her. Last April she drove home with us to Alberta and got her first taste of snow (literally) We are back down in Florida for six months and head back to Canada in 5 weeks, The first year with Abby was very trying - she ate everything when she was on walks - worms, rabbit poop, tree dropping etc etc etc. She's improved quite a bit but we have to watch her. The other trying time is when you want to pick her up to put her in the kennel. Earlier this year when I said "Kennel" she would run and get in the kennel. Now when I say it or go to pick her up - she runs and the chase is on. Hopefully I can stop this behavior.
Bottom line... We love Abby and she is the greatest dog we have ever owned. She's affectionate (not like our last Silky) she loves everyone and all other dogs. She is the best!!
Good luck on your Blog
Could you send us your grooming article?

Here's the data --

Dogs can get into a state of mind where it's a great game to avoid their owners. While obedience works and teaching "come" is in the end a super idea, there are things that can be done in the short run. It's interesting to see that the more you chase your dog, the more they run away!
If it is a matter of Abby going to her kennel properly in the house (in other words, there are no open doors or other safety issues) it really is a matter of NOT chasing her, and making it her idea that going to her kennel is the right and fun thing to do.
I have a little girl Lucy who will not come willingly to me. I can corner her and get her but this doesn't resolve the issue for the next time. So I open the pen gate which opens into the house and ignore her. She comes happily into the house; after a bit she touches her noise repeatedly against the back of my knee. It's like she's saying "I'm right here!! Chase me!" I keep ignoring her and stroll to her crate, which has some nice goodies in it. She can't resist, happily "goes crate" and I shut the door.

You can use this exact procedure with Abby. Good luck and keep me posted!

Best, Sandy


Ha Ha! Humans are such suckers.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dear Sandy,

O.K., I'll bite....(haha) Here's a doggy question: I have one of your Silky's. We call him Dude, and he's the love of our lives. But here's my question: We take him outside about four times a day to do his business, and he's fine with that; but, at any other time, when he might want to go out in between, he doesn't know how to ask. This results in a very occasional accident...very seldom...but I'd like it if he could let us know. I tried ringing a bell before taking him out, thinking maybe he would make the association and bump it when he wants to go (my son's dog does that); and if he acts excited and starts to pester me, I ask him if he wants to go, thinking maybe he'll do the same thing the next time; but I haven't had any luck. When he comes up and wants attention, it's not to go's to play. If I even look at him, he goes for a toy. (He really is the most fun little guy you could imagine). Anyway, this isn't a "biggie," but if you have any suggestions, I'd like to hear them. By the way, I've been grooming Dude myself, and I think I do a pretty good job, but I'd like to have a copy of your article. Good luck with your website.


ST, St. Petersburg

It's good to hear from you too. Consistency and word association should really help you here. Every single time you take him out that door ring the bell and say "go potty" or whatever key words you want to use. Eventually he will connect the dots. If other people let him out, make sure they are doing the same.

Best, Sandy

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dear Sandy,

I recently bought a puppy, and he seems to enjoy putting everything in his mouth. While I know all about supplying him with lots of toys to chew on, I still worry about him getting into things he shouldn't. Is there something I can do to be prepared? BP, Clearwater, FL

Yes, there is definitely something you can do to at least alleviate the danger. Go to a pharmacy and buy a box of cotton balls. You want the real thing, not synthetic. Also buy a quart of half and half and put it in the freezer.

Should your puppy eat something she shouldn't, defrost the half and half and soak the cotton balls in the liquid. Dogs under 10 lbs should eat 2 balls, Dogs 10 to 50 lbs should eat 3 to 5 balls, and larger dogs should eat 5 to 7.

I have used this remedy twice and each time the dog ate the soaked cotton balls easily. As the cotton works its way through the digestive tract it will find all the sharp pieces and wrap itself around them. Even the tiniest shards will be caught and wrapped in the cotton fibers and the cotton will protect the intestines from damage.

My dogs' stools were really weird for a couple of days and I was careful to check for fresh blood or a tarry appearance to the stool. If either of these symptoms had occurred, I would have rushed my dogs to the vet. But my two brats were fine.

Best, Sandy