Author - Junior Watson

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is In Pain?

I know this article isn’t really a training article, but I thought it would still be helpful.

How to tell if your dogs in pain

Lately, with the release of a very nice anti-inflammatory/pain medication (called Rimadyl), people have been wondering if the drug would be appropriate for their dog. I have had calls from owners saying “My dog is favoring his hind end, but he doesn’t seem to be in pain. I wonder if this Rimadyl is something I should try for him?”

Think about us as humans…Many of us suffer from arthritis, or lower back pain, or frequent headaches. Unless the pain is sharp and sudden, you wouldn’t know that the person next to you on the bus is was even in pain! This is the same for dogs!

I guess this is where behavior and training can be a part of this article…

Sometimes you may talk to another person and that person will snap a smart and nasty remark at you. Later, that same person may approach you and apologize for his behavior and explain that he has the worst sinus infection in the world. Pain can drive people and animals to act crossly!

Say you have an older dog (sometimes this can pertain to dogs of any age), and your dog snaps at you for no reason. This behavior has never happened in the past. Have your veterinarian first look for any physical cause and then for a mental or training problem. Growling/snapping because you touch his side may mean pain there (it may also mean “Don’t touch me there!”) .

Dogs cannot tell us when they feel poorly – in words at least.
We veterinary professionals must look at the dog and see what he tries to tell us in his actions and demeanor .

All of the following can indicate pain in dogs:

  • Limping
  • Scratching
  • Favoring
  • Licking an area
  • Unusual mouth movements
  • Turning the head to look at an area frequently
  • Running in circles
  • Erratic movements
  • Snapping at people, other dogs or self
  • Reluctance to get up or lie down
  • Reluctance to climb stairs or climb into a car (usually an older dog)
  • Panting for no obvious reason
  • Sometimes even just an odd look to the eye or face

Remember, more often than not, you will not see your dog cry out or verbally express himself when he is in pain! You need to watch for the signs.

How To Stop Excessive Dog Barking

A dog’s natural instinct is to protect his home & property. A dog that is unsupervised or out of reach cannot be corrected for barking (or digging, or chewing…). In order to work with barking, therefore, the dog must be supervised and easily reached during times of (possible) barking.

how to stop a dog barking

To facilitate teaching not to bark, you do NOT have to wait for the situations of barking to happen. Enlist help, and set up the situation! Practice several times in a row to teach. The easiest way to work with barking (as with anything) is to have the dog on a leash (or umbilical leash – a little safer). That way, it is easier to catch and correct (and praise!) the dog.

Methods to stop excessive dog barking:

  • First, pick a word or phrase that will be your command to stop barking. Suggestions can be: “Quiet!”, “Enough!”, “No Bark!”, “Hush!”, “That’ll Do!”.
  • I never use “Shut Up!”, and I prefer not to use “No”.
  • Set up for barking, and have a leash on the dog. When the barking happens, take the leash (step on the leash if you have to “catch” the dog or just have the leash in your hand to start!), give a firm tug horizontally to the floor and firmly use your word.
  • When the dog is quiet, calmly & quietly praise (“GOOD quiet”). Sometimes a tiny soft-moist treat can reinforce your praise (brought down to the dog’s level).
  • If the pop on the leash doesn’t help, you can incorporate a squirt bottle into the equation. Give a sharp series of squirts right in the face, firm command to quiet, and, for extra measure, have the dog SIT. Your correction should only be as firm as it needs to be. You can also use a small “shaker container”. Do not use these tools to threaten.
  • I like to teach a command for “guard barking” – my command is “Who’s there?” My dogs will run to the door and bark. I tell them “Good who’s there!” and then I will use my quiet command to tell them that is enough. I use this to get my dogs to respond to the doorbell or knock.
  • If I have an excessive barker, or to make my point of QUIET clearer, I will enforce a firm DOWN. This is a leadership gesture on my part (I am the leader, and you comply with my wishes) and also a dog in a down generally does not bark. You can make sure the dog remains in a down by stepping on the leash.
  • Although you have no way to correct barking when you are not home, you may want to leave a tape recorder or video camera on to see when barking happens, what causes the barking and the duration of the barking. Guard barking, for example, is handled a little differently than lonely or random barking.

Barking is a normal dog behavior. In excess, it can be irritating. If controlled, barking can be useful!

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Ensuring A Safe & Happy Holiday Season

In the eyes of your dog(s), the Holidays are a time of change. Consider how Christmas looks to them:

  • A tree, the likes of which they normally see outside, arrives inside the house. (“Great, an indoor bathroom!”) It is often set up in an area that breaks their outside watch position (blocking a picture window or doorwall).
  • This odd inside tree also gets covered with really fun looking dangly things – which must be tasted and pushed around.
  • Next, flashing lights will really stimulate many dogs, especially visual breeds such as herding dogs.

THEN, after the tree arrives, strange items appear underneath, with glittery ribbons and other tantalizing ornaments. These must be tasted and maybe removing the outer covering would be a lot of fun. My dogs can always find the gifts wrapped for them – these cannot be left under the tree!

sleeping-christmas-dog

The topper is your attitude during this fine season. We all know how stressful and rushed the holidays have become. It may look to your dog like you’ve really gone off the deep end this time!

Things you can do to minimize risk and maintain routine (which dogs need)

  • Limit access to reachable decorated areas like trees, garland, candy on tables, etc. If necessary, use baby gates to block certain areas, crate your dog, or confine the dog to one room or the basement. Access to decorated areas should ONLY be allowed with supervision.
  • Keep all routines the same: feeding times, outside times, walk/exercise times and bed time.
  • Keep diet the same – resist offering extra table scraps, especially if your dog has difficulty tolerating dietary changes.
  • If you are stressed, take advantage of what your dog can offer you in the stress relief area. Spend time grooming, walking or playing with you dog.
  • If your dog ingests an ornament or other decoration, do not automatically induce vomiting. Sharp edges will cut and puncture on the way down AND on the way back up! Call your veterinarian for advice on how to handle the situation.
  • If you must let your pet in an area of low-hanging ornaments, don’t decorate a tree with tinsel or any other stringy item. If ingested, these could require complicated surgery to remove. All ornaments should be kept higher than the dog is able to reach.
  • Avoid adding anything potentially toxic to the water for your Christmas tree. Remember it’s at dog level and they may drink it.

Have a safe and Happy Holiday!

Ask Your Dog Training QuestionsHave A Question?

Don’t be shy to ask! Simply click here to get in touch with us – we’ll do our best to help!