Eureka! Dog Blog

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Archive for January 2009

Case Study: Puppy Mill Dog

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All names are changed in the case studies.

Mary came to us with a story of mismatched expectations. Her dog of many years had died, and she tried to find a new dog within a few days of her loss. She wanted to adopt a dog from a shelter (Well done, Mary!), but she found shelters very upsetting to visit. So she picked out a dog by breed and looks on the internet, then went to the shelter to see that particular dog. The dog Mary wanted and needed was a cheerful, outgoing, cuddly, upbeat dog. The dog she found was Hannah, a breeder dog from a puppy mill, who was scared or people and very undemonstrative.

Mary took Hannah home, and was distressed to find that Hannah would not come to her, or eat in front of her. On our first visit, we found that Hannah was prepared to sit on a cushion near Mary, but stayed very still, and would run to her crate if someone else arrived.  Mary was concerned because Hannah seemed unhappy, and was not eating properly.

In a future post, we’ll talk about the steps we have taken to make the household work for everyone.  For now, let’s observe that adopting a dog requires planning and selecting the right dog.

Mary tried to get a dog she thought was the same breed as her old dog.  That’s a little like losing a husband, and looking for another 35-year old bank teller, because that’s what worked before.  This bank teller may be very different from the previous one!

Dogs in shelters are often a little reserved, and it may take weeks or months for their full personality to emerge – they have to learn to trust you and feel comfortable first.  Hannah’s case was extreme – a dog who has lived such a life has had to develop survival strategies, and in Hannah’s case, she was focused on staying away from everyone, having a safe place to run to, and never taking anything when someone was around.

If you are looking to rescue and rehabilitate a dog like Hannah, thank you!  She is a sweet little dog, deserves a second chance, and will eventually repay your kindness.  But if you need a dog who will be able to interact with the rest of your family almost immediately, make sure that the dog you take home does not come with known, serious problems.  Spend time with the dog at the shelter, and with your family there, so that you all get a feeling for how well the dog will fit into your home.  Make sure that the dog is not fearful of men or boisterous children (both common fears), and that s/he appears to pay attention when each family member talks to or touches him/her.  See how much the shelter knows about the dog’s previous history, and how s/he has got on with other dogs at the shelter (and cats if you have one at home).  Information about a particular breed is useful, but not all labradors have the same personality, any more than all people from Houston do!

More about Mary and Hannah next week.

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Written by eurekapaws

January 27, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Posted in Case Studies, New Adoptions, Training

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Socializing New Puppies

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This has come up a few times over the last couple of weeks.  If you have a new puppy, he should not be going out and about until he has had all his puppy vaccinations.  We’ve heard from several people who have adopted new puppies (some as young as 6 weeks old – too young to be taken from their mother and litter-mates) and who are not aware of this. 

Yes, we all agree that puppy socialization is very important – you want your puppy to have as many happy experiences as possible, so he is not scared of the world, and so that he knows how to greet new people and dogs.  But until you know he is protected from the common diseases that kill puppies, he should not be walking around parks, streets, shopping malls, dog parks, etc.  Carry him instead of letting him run on the sidewalk.  Let him run around the house and the enclosed yard.  Have him meet older or young adult dogs that you know are not carrying diseases.

Once he has had all his puppy shots, then start letting him meet and greet other puppies, walk in common areas, go to puppy classes.  Just make sure you are there to deal with any problems he encounters.  If he is startled by something, don’t reinforce his fear by grabbing him and soothing him – that will make him believe it was something to be scared of.  Instead, just get his attention and do something fun – play with him or give him a treat, and act like nothing bad was happening.

Written by eurekapaws

January 22, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Clicker Expo Austin

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The Clicker Expo was fascinating.  Exciting to see so many really skilled trainers in action.  I felt not only did I learn a lot, I was also motivated to make changes in what I do and the way I do it.

I had a companion with me – Bailey, the weather pup.  Bailey is all kinds of a terrier, and she  was out of her comfort zone being in a hotel environment.  She is called Bailey the weather pup because she alerts us to storms.  She goes very quiet and tries to hide under something when a storm is on its way or when there are high winds.  On one occasion, not long after she came to live with me, I found her hiding in the pantry as a storm approached.  I got down on hands and knees to call her out, and she ran out and hid under me!

During the Expo, she lay down under my chair for the sessions (which were typically an hour and a half long), and she was extremely well-behaved.  When we came out of a session, she focused straight in on the glass doors and windows.  The message was clear – I’m a dog, I need to be outdoors having fun!  At lunch breaks, we drove to a Starbucks and I sat outside with a coffee while Bailey and I practiced clicker exercises.

Bailey the weather pup

My friend Gail was kind enough to put Bailey and me up while we were at the Expo.  Gail has 2 dogs and 3 cats, so it was a very simpatico household.  Once again, Bailey was a credit – she didn’t try to steal any food or make trouble with the dogs or the cats.  Of course, she is a terrier – so she did manage to take possession of the most comfortable dog bed several times.

Bailey needs frequent reminders of her place in the household.  Even on a 4 day trip away from home, she realized some of the rules had changed, and tried to rewrite her personal bill of rights.  We had to do a few exercises to remind her that she is not the leader of the pack!  A reminder – any time you travel or make changes in the household (moving house, gaining or losing a pet or human household member), dogs will investigate to see how this changes their status.  You need to enforce the same rules, and increase regular brief training sessions.  In Bailey’s case, that meant reminding her that she is allowed up on furniture only when invited up by a human, and then she has to get down again as soon as she is told to.  And lots of work on Down and Down-Stay, as well as the fun targeting and tricks.

Written by eurekapaws

January 20, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Training

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Gone Clickin’

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No posts for a couple of days – I’ve gone to Clicker Expo in Austin.  I’ll write about it when I get back. 

Till then, Happy T(r)ails !!!Happy Tails to You!

Written by eurekapaws

January 15, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Training

Jake

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Yesterday, Jan was taking the dogs to go for a walk, when she saw a dog st the side of the road, staggering and falling down.  After our dogs were safely home, Jan went back to the home and spoke with the owners of the dog.  From what she had seen, he was in significant pain and disoriented, having difficulty walking.  The owners did not seem sure what was going on, and did not seem interested in getting him help, so Jan called the vet office at 380 West in McKinney.  They offered to look at the dog if she could bring him in.

So, Jan talked with the owners and got their consent to take the dog to the vet and take any necessary action.  They were fine with that, as long as it would not cost them anything, and they fetched the dog.  The dog did not have a name, so Jan called him Jake.  She put him in her van and went to the vet.  By that time, she was pretty sure he was in the later stages of distemper, and after discussion with Dr. Shelton, the decision was to put him out of his considerable pain.

Jake was only 8 months old, and did not have a chance.  He had not had vaccinations, and distemper is a horrible disease, which could have been prevented.  If you have a chance to help educate your neighbors, please do so – we can all help save lives.

Many thanks to the good folks (especially Dr. Shelton and Elizabeth) at 380 West http://380westanimalhospital.com/ .  Jake couldn’t thank them, but we can.  Not only did they do the right thing for Jake, they also helped Jan by providing powerful disinfectant so she did not bring home the disease on herself or in the van.

Written by eurekapaws

January 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Posted in General

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Microchip Your Pets!

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Here’s a story with a happy ending from friend and customer, David.  His dog went off around the neighborhood in search of adventure, and they couldn’t find her.  She had ended up sitting on a local doorstep, where the homeowner found her.  Although this person did not know the dog, they guessed she was chipped, so they took her to the local 24 hour clinic.  The clinic simply scanned the dog, and was able to contact David.

A friend had an elderly cat that normally stayed in the house or yard, but who one day strayed to a neighbor’s house.  They did not know the cat, thought it was a stray, and took it to the vet.  Because it was an older cat, and not in the best of health, they agreed that the best thing to do was to euthanize it.

We worked with Robin and Matt getting a semi-wild dog to trust them so they could trap and adopt her.  They made an appointment to get her spayed, and decided to get her microchipped at the same time.  The day before she was due at the vet’s office, she jumped out of the car and ran away.  Incredibly, this story also has a happy ending – they put up signs and went looking for her every day near where they lost her, and more than 2 weeks later, they found her.  They did not wait to get her chipped that time!!

No matter how careful you are, or how well trained your dog is, there is always a chance that you will get separated.  Microchipping your dog can save its life.  Think of the worst-case scenarios.  If your pet is injured, who will make sure he gets veterinary care?  Some microchip companies will offer insurance to make sure that emergency care is covered even if they cannot contact you immediately.

So, well done, David!  Thanks for your reminder.  And thanks to the people who found her and made sure she was reunited with her family.

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR PETS ARE MICROCHIPPED !!!  It’s not expensive, and it can make the difference between a sad loss and a happy reunion.  If you don’t know where to go, try the website www.LocalMicrochips.com – enter your zip code and they will give you a list of suggestions.  In Carrollton, Operation Kindness offers $15 microchipping on the last Sunday of each month – see their website www.operationkindness.org

Written by eurekapaws

January 8, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Posted in New Adoptions

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New Year’s Resolutions

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I resolve to work with each of my dogs every day.  Just a few minutes a day on simple commands or fun tricks helps build the bond, and solidifies the household hierarchy.

I resolve to make sure that my dogs get enough exercise every day.  Most dogs don’t spend their free time making sure they get enough aerobic exercise: they do that when they have exciting company – us.  A well-exercised dog is a well-behaved dog.

I resolve to make sure my dogs get out and socialize with other dogs and people.  The more they encounter social situations, the better they behave.  Most Starbucks have outside seating – I like to just sit there and drink a coffee while my dog gets to be with me and learns about the world I inhabit.  Letting a dog play in a dog park for half an hour allows him to let off steam, but doesn’t teach the same social skills.

For ideas on other ways to improve your relationship with your dog, check our our website www.eurekapaws.com or email us at eurekapaws@yahoo.com .

Written by eurekapaws

January 4, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Posted in General

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