Just like us, our furry family members can become stressed and anxious. Being aware of the signals dogs show when nervous, stressed or unhappy helps prevent unwanted behavior and helps your dog live a happy and healthy life.
Often the indicators of stress are easily identified, but occasionally the ways your pup communicates stress can be quite subtle and surprising. Here are a few of the various ways your dog may express stress or anxiety:
Aggression towards people and other animals is one of the most common signs of stress or sickness in dogs. If you notice your pup is becoming increasingly agitated, this could be a sign of an underlying issue. This symptom is usually accompanied by fearful body posture and tense facial expressions.
Sometimes it is normal for dogs to seek alone time and solitude. However, dogs are pack animals and if you find this becoming a common behavior, it could be a sign of Distress.
Loss of Appetite
Most furry family members love to eat, so it can be quite upsetting when we notice them not eating at all. We may even notice drastic weight loss which can be a big indicator of stress, anxiety or an underlying health issue.
Many pet parents are familiar with their pup’s sleeping schedule and can recognize if their pup is sleeping more than usual or seems overly lethargic. Lethargy is usual one of the first and most common symptoms of stress and anxiety in dogs.
Although mainly related to allergy or sickness, gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea and constipation, can also be connected to stress levels. If you notice these symptoms are lasting more than 24 hours, it is best to check with a vet to ensure it isn’t a result of a greater health issue.
How can I help my stressed dog?
You must be familiar with your dog’s regular habits and demeanor in order for you to get a better understanding of when your pup is acting out of character. If your pup is exhibiting abnormal behavior, consider taking these steps:
Visit your veterinarian
It is always best to check in with your veterinarian if your dog experiences sudden changes in their behavior. Your veterinarian can rule out any underlying medical issues and make professional recommendations to help lower your dog’s stress levels. You may even be referred to a canine behaviorist who can help identify the cause of stress and develop a plan to help manage your furry family member’s anxiety.
Exercising with your dog regularly helps prevent and eliminate stress – for both of you! Physical activities, like a game of fetch or taking a walk to the park, are highly recommended for stressed or anxious pups to release tension.
Create a ‘safe’ area
Create an area in your home where your pup can relax and escape to when feeling stressed or anxious. Make sure it is a place they are familiar with and feel safe, such as their doggie bed or a crate. Provide your pup with some comforting things such as their favorite toy and be sure to visit and reassure frequently – your presence is very reassuring to your dog.
Stay calm and positive
It is important to remain positive and calm as your pup is able to sense your stress levels. This can affect your dog and give them more of a reason feel anxious.
You know your dog better than anyone and if you feel that something is off, it’s best not to dismiss it. Give them plenty of healthy food, exercise, affection and time to rest. Seek help when needed and remember that stress is part of everyday life for us and our dogs. Noticing and addressing signs early will help your pup stay calm and live a happy, healthy life.
Bringing home a new puppy is one of the most exciting experiences a pet parent can have and it’s natural to want to show them off to the world. While exercise and socialization are very important for a growing pup, there are a few precautions you should take before going on any outdoor adventures with your new furry family member:
Before you take your pup anywhere, it is important for you to visit your vet and get their immunizations underway. Vaccinations will help protect your pup against harmful, highly contagious and transmissible diseases that can pose a risk to your health, too. Many of these illnesses can be potentially fatal to your pup and very expensive to treat if contracted, so yo ensure your pup is well-protected before they venture outside.
Start socializing your pup early
Before you take your new furry family member on their first walk, they can start experiencing the world through smaller social interactions like having friends over or toting them around in a doggie carrier. Pups are most adaptable between the ages of 4-12 weeks, so early interactions can introduce them to new sights and sounds and teach them new things. This will ultimately build their confidence for when you start going on walks.
Keep in mind that if your pup meets other dogs during these experiences, make sure they are positive experiences. Beware of older, injured or non-friendly dogs, as they can pose a threat to your little furry friend. Always ask other pet parents before letting your pup approach!
Get your walking supplies
You want to be fully equipped for your puppy’s first walk to ensure everything runs smoothly. Be sure to have all of these essentials ready:
treats to reward your puppy
dog waste bags
a phone for emergencies
a bottle of water and pop-up doggie bowl
any doggie apparel if needed
At first, a leash and collar can feel very strange for a pup and the first time you put it on, you may notice that they won’t walk. Slowly introduce a leash and collar by putting it on your dog a few days before your walk for them to get used to the feel of it and become more comfortable walking and moving around with them on.
Focus on positive experiences
With every walk, your puppy is learning and trying to make sense of everything around them. Ensure they experience these things in a positive way through tons of play and treats!
When you notice any undesirable behavior or signs that your pup may be stressed, remove them from the situation. You don’t want to overwhelm your puppy or have them associate walks with anxiety.
Know your pup’s limits
You may be giddy with anticipation at the thought of taking your puppy on their first grand adventure but remember that your puppy needs to start off small and gradually grow into longer walks. At about 4 months after your puppy’s vaccinations, your doggie walks should be about 20 minutes long, twice a day and you can increase it by 5 minutes every month as they grow older. This can help protect their joints and prevent them from overly exerting themselves.
It is essential that you allow your pup to walk at their own pace. Take them somewhere quiet and secluded and let them initially guide the walk, allowing them to them stop, sniff and explore as they please. Soon, they will look forward to walks and bonding time as much as you do!
Can’t get out to walk your pup? Let Dogtopia help! Our state-of-the-art facilities offer exercise and safe socialization for all the pups in our care. Find a location nearest you!
There’s nothing like the unconditional love of a dog and bringing home a puppy is truly one of life’s greatest joys. However, many people fail to realize all the responsibility and commitment it takes to look after a new furry family member. Are you ready to take the plunge into pet parenthood? Here are five signs that now is the right time for a puppy:
You have time to train your puppy and shower them with attention
Just like a baby, bringing home a puppy requires a huge commitment of time and patience. When welcoming a new pup into your family, be prepared to invest a lot of hours into potty training, safe socialization with humans and other pets, training them on the rules of your house, and helping them distinguish between toys and off-limit items. Training your pup right off the bat will help them grow to be a well-behaved and obedient dog, however, it will remain an ongoing process. Training is something that should be consistent throughout your dog’s lifetime. Your new pup will demand a lot of your attention and if neglected, they can become very bored which may lead to destructive behavior.
You lead an active lifestyle
Aside from doggie training, puppies also need a lot of attention and plenty of activity, even on those days when the weather isn’t great or you’re tired. Playing with your new pup helps them burn energy, keeps them healthy, and taking your pup out with you gives him or her tons of exposure to other people, pets, smells, sights and unexpected noises. Although some dog breeds have higher energy levels than others, every dog needs adequate exercise.
You are financially prepared
Make sure you are ready to take on all the financial responsibilities that come along with your new furry family member. From food, toys, vaccines, cleaning supplies, spaying or neutering, vet trips and potential professional training, dogs incur expenses from puppyhood throughout their lives. Keep in mind that emergencies happen, which means unexpected veterinarian bills that can be very costly. Many companies offer pet insurance as a way to offset some of the high veterinary costs with a smaller monthly payment.
Everyone in your family is on board
Whether you’re married with children, living with a significant other, or have roommates, you need to ensure everyone in your household is on the same page when it comes to welcoming a puppy into your home and contributing to his or her care. Discuss it together and create a plan where you outline each person’s responsibilities, as well as the puppy’s rules to ensure that training remains consistent. Not only should you get every person in your household on board, but your other pets, too. We recommend checking in with your veterinarian or a canine behaviorist for tips on how to safely introduce your other pets to your new pup.
You’ve done your research
The most important thing you should do before considering bringing a puppy home is research! Different dog breeds suite different lifestyles, so take the time to analyze your living habits to find the dog that is the best fit for your family. Research dog food, toys, cleaning supplies, nearby vets and daycare/boarding facilities to prep for your new furry family member and ensure you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Being a puppy parent can be very difficult at times, so be prepared to put up with them waking you in the middle of the night, chewing your things, and going to the bathroom in places they shouldn’t. Living with a dog requires responsibility and effort, but it’s undoubtedly worth all the loyalty and unconditional love you’ll receive in return! At Dogtopia, we are the Puppy Love Experts! Let us help socialize and educate your pup so they can become proper canine citizens. Find the location nearest you.
Getting a new dog is an exciting time. You take every precaution to make sure your home is ready for your new family member, from proper food to toys and everything in between.
Which means, as part of your preparation, you’ll want to take every precaution to review your home and make sure it’s safe from poisonous and harmful materials. Some things are obvious like rat poison, bleach, and other cleaning products but some dangers are not so obvious.
Three Pet Poisons That May Surprise You
Pet Poison Awareness Month is a great opportunity to remind ourselves of our surroundings and how to keep our environments safe for our pets. Here are some of the less well-known substances to be mindful of:
Xylitol – found in sugar free gum and candy, dogs can’t digest this substance. Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure and seizures. More than one dog has gone in his owner’s purse and “stolen” sugar free gum. So, if you keep this around, make sure it’s well out of reach of your dog.
Certain Foods – chocolate is commonly known to be dangerous to dogs, but did you know that onions, macadamia nuts, grapes, and raisins can be too? These can cause severe vomiting and gastro-intestinal illness.
Plants – Did you know there are dozens of common houseplants that can be toxic if ingested? African violets, Aloe, Tulip bulbs, Sago palms, and many more. If you already have these in your home, keep them out of reach of your dog. If you’re a gardener, keep an eye on your pup while working in the garden.
If you use mulch, know that the “chocolate mulch” can be poisonous for dogs because it’s made with cocoa beans (the source of chocolate.)
Common Symptoms of Poisoning
If a pet is poisoned by something he or she eats, there are typically symptoms. These symptoms are usually stomach related and can include:
But there can also be seizures, no appetite and generally “off” behavior like being unusually lethargic.
If you suspect your dog has ingested something poisonous, call your veterinarian right away.
Many pet parents are aware that regular exercise and mental stimulation are key factors in contributing to a healthy and happy pup, but what about in the winter months? With temperatures dipping to record lows across the nation this winter, it is important for pet parents to be aware of how cold is too cold for their pup.
Here is a guide to keeping your pup safe during frigid temperatures:
All dogs are unique:
Just like people, dogs have different tolerances when it comes to the cold. One pup may be overjoyed to run around in the snow, while another may not even want to set foot outdoors. What are some elements that affect how dogs tolerate the cold?
Coat Type: Pups with thick, double-layered coats tolerate cold temperatures very well, such as Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds and Samoyeds. These breeds generally originate from colder climates which allow them to thrive in frigid temperatures. On the other hand, pups with short, thin coats such as Greyhounds and Chihuahuas have a more difficult time in cold weather.
Size: Small dogs and toy breeds tend to get colder more easily. They lose body heat much quicker than larger pups, especially when in contact with snow. When smaller pups go out into the cold, their chest can easily be submerged in deeper snow, which will cool down their body temperature and make them cold and wet.
Weight: Body fat is a good insulator for pups, which makes thinner dogs more susceptible to the cold. However, trying to fatten up your dog to keep them warm in the winter could pose much greater health risks to your furry friend.
Age and Health: Healthy dogs in their prime are able to tolerate the cold temperatures better than those dealing with any health issues. Pups dealing with any health issues have weaker immune systems which can make it more difficult for them to keep warm in frigid weather. Give these pups special assistance with a doggie coat or scarf.
When enjoying the winter weather with your furry friend, look out for these signs that your pup has had enough:
Whining/barking: While some pups are more vocal than others, if your dog barks or whines at you while making eye contact, this could be a sign that they have had enough.
Pausing: If your furry friend stops walking, playing or moving, this may be a sign that they are too cold and need to go inside. If they lift up a paw while standing still, they may have balls of ice or snow between the pads of their paws.
Shivering: This is an obvious sign that your pup is too cold.
Anxiety: Many pups gets anxious when they are too cold and can begin acting fearful and nervous. If your pup tries to jump onto your legs, this may indicate they want to be held and should be a sign that it is time to go home. The anxiety could also be expressed with barking and whining.
Overall, don’t hibernate your pup just because it is cold but rather get to know your furry friends’ cold threshold. The best way to monitor your pup in cold temperatures is to keep a close eye on their behavior. If you notice any signs that they might be in discomfort by shivering, whining, slowing down, acting anxious, it is time to head indoors.
Alternately, if you want your dog to get plenty of exercise and stay comfortable during cold weather, consider placing him at an indoor doggie daycare like Dogtopia. We have climate-controlled playrooms featuring a safe, sanitary rubberized floors that are designed to be gentle on their paws and joints. Your pup will enjoy hours of exercise and play, no matter the weather outside. Find a location near you.
As humans, we have several solutions to bad breath: toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, mints, but what about dogs? You love your pup and his or her kisses, but sometimes your dog’s breath isn’t exactly the most pleasant. Don’t fret, as there are several fixes to combat your doggie’s bad breath:
Brush their teeth. We brush our teeth multiple times a day, so it seems only natural that your pup should get good cleaning too from time to time. There are several pet-friendly toothpaste options available, as well as special brushes that can help make the process easier for both you and your furry friend. Since dogs swallow toothpaste, be sure to find one that is safe for ingestion. Enzymatic type tooth pastes break down the structure of tarter for fresh, clean breath, and is safe to ingest.
Give your pup something to chew on. Chewing is a natural way for your dog to clean their teeth. Chewing helps keep the tartar and plaque from building up and can help to prevent gum disease, all of which contribute to smelly breath. Plus, safe chew toys can entertain your pups – a win-win for fresh-breath and playtime.
Change your dog’s water frequently. It’s important that your dog has fresh, clean water every day. If your pup is a heavy drooler, you may want to change his or her water two to three times a day. Make sure to wipe the water bowl clean to avoid any gunk or buildup.
There are several breath refreshers that are safe for your pup including dental chew treats or doggie mouthwash, which can likely be found at your veterinary office or local pet store. Of course, consult with your vet to make sure they’re the right fit for your furry friend.
There are also several at-home remedies that can help combat bad doggie breath. In fact, you can try sprinkling some parsley onto their food, as parsley is a natural and safe breath refresher.
It’s important to continuously monitor your pup’s dental health and what they eat, because in some cases, bad breath can be a sign of something more serious and might require a trip to the vet for a proper diagnosis. Abnormal signs including red gums, broken teeth and a severe tartar buildup could mean a trip to the vet.
Goodbye bad breath, and hello extra doggie kisses with these fresh-breath tips and tricks!
Ideally, puppies are socialized in their first year by being exposed to as many new experiences as possible. Dogs are most sensitive and receptive between this time frame, so the earlier that you get your dog socialized with other pups and humans, the better.
Unfortunately, not all pups are properly socialized within this time frame. Some say, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but that’s not true! No matter the reason why your furry family member was not socialized as a puppy, it doesn’t mean they can’t learn how to behave around others and gain BFFFs (Best Furry Friends Forever).
Here are some tips for socializing an adult dog:
Take your dog for frequent walks
Daily walks are great opportunities to expose your dog to new sights, sounds, smells, humans and other animals. It gives you a chance to practice proper behavior with your doggie since you’re likely to encounter more social situations during your walk.
If your dog barks or responds in a disruptive or undesirable manner, refrain from scolding or tugging on their leash as it will increase their excitement and create a negative experience for them. Instead, simply walk in another direction and remove them from the situation so they can calm down.
Have people over
Invite one or two friends over and host them in a space where your dog can feel comfortable, such as your living room or backyard. Make sure your friends do not approach, crowd or overwhelm your dog. You want your dog to make the first move and approach your guests when they are ready. If your pup does not wander over to investigate, your guests can toss a treat from time to time to show your dog they come in peace. Keep the environment very positive and laid-back to keep your dog relaxed and help them associate new people with good experiences.
Slowly work your way up to a dog park
A dog park is the epitome of socialization but taking your anxious pup or older dog to one right away isn’t always a good idea. Start off by walking your dog around the perimeter of the park and let him watch the other dogs from a distance. Gradually work your way up to entering by approaching the fence and allowing your dog to sniff and interact with other dogs. Make it a positive experience by taking it slow and giving a treat when they react in a friendly manner. This will create positive associations. If your dog responds aggressively or nervously, move away from the fence and start over when they feel calm again. Don’t be discouraged if your pup doesn’t have a good first visit; frequent and controlled practice will make perfect.
Monitor your attitude
It is important to keep in mind that dogs sense your emotions and if you seem stressed out or nervous about an experience, so will your furry friend, too. Through body language and tone, you should remain calm and confident. Don’t play into your dog’s fearful or nervous reactions. If you comfort them when they are frightened, you will teach them that there is a reason to be fearful. Your dog feeds off your reactions and attitude, so be calm, collected and act as though the situation is not a big deal.
Turn to professionals
If your dog is not responding well to your methods, contact a professional trainer or consider taking them to a doggie daycare setting like Dogtopia. Our certified Canine Coaches have experience with all breeds and temperaments and can expertly read a dog’s body language and help you determine if daycare would be helpful in socializing your older dog. Find a location near you.
When socializing an older dog, the key to success is repetition and consistency. Be patient and don’t get discouraged if they don’t catch on right away as it can take a much longer time for older dogs to adapt to new situations and environments. With each new experience, be sure to create a calm, loving environment with lots of positive reinforcement and you will have a happy, confident and well-balanced dog in no time.
Dogtopia of North Austin’s Matt and Jolene Urbancic had the pleasure of speaking with Fox 7 News Austin about the importance of socialization for your pup. Socialization through doggie daycare helps ease anxiety and allows your pup to be more comfortable in new situations and around new people and dogs. When dogs spend time interacting, exercising, and playing with other pups, it encourages them to live happy and healthy lives. New and good behaviors are developed by socializing, which leads to a more well-rounded pup.
Watch the video below to learn how Dogtopia can help your furry family member grow and learn.
Whether you find you and your dog house-bound due to extreme cold, snow or illness, your furry friend could get agitated from a lack of physical activity. When the weather won’t permit you to play outside, there is always fun options for indoor activities as well.
Here are five simple ways you can entertain your doggie at home when going outside isn’t an option:
One of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your pup entertained indoors is with pet-safe toys. It’s important to introduce new ones into your pup’s routine on a regular basis, or even rotating the ones they already have in order to keep their interest high. If you find your pup gets bored easily, kick it up a notch and try food-dispensing toys. These are perfect brain stimulators for your furry friend and will keep them working to get the healthy treats out of the toy. Remember that every treat adds calories to your pup’s daily routine – consult your vet before you make any major diet change.
Play the shell game
To play the shell game with your pup, you must let them watch as you put a treat under one of three cups. Then you shuffle the cups around and encourage them to find the treat. This simple problem-solving game for dogs will help keep their brain stimulated. Check out this fun variation of the game that we created using tennis balls and a muffin tin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNG5Rj4rLUg
This one may be a bit more work but it is definitely worth it! Helping your pup navigate through a course is a lot of fun. Create a few obstacles using chairs, a hula hoop, a ball, and just about anything else your creative mind can think of. Be sure to reward your pup with treats and lots of praise. It is important to tailor the obstacle to your pup’s physical ability and make sure it is fun rather than work and make sure you aren’t encouraging him to jump on something that you don’t want him jumping on later-like a chair or low table.
Arrange a play date
Invite some of your pup’s furry friends over for a play date to keep them entertained and active. Nothing is more exciting than a social visit from their BFFF (best furry friend forever)!
Play hide and seek
Tell your dog to stay then walk away and hide some place in the house. Once you are set, call their name in a happy and upbeat voice. Keep calling them until they find you, then give them tons of praise! If your dog isn’t great at the “stay” command, then you can have a family member hold the pup as you hide. Not only is this a great way for them to experience brain stimulation and exercise, but it also helps build a stronger bond with your furry family member.
Staying in doesn’t have to be boring. Dogs thrive on interactive play, and these five fun activities will be sure to keep them active and brains stimulated! Don’t have time to give your dog their required amount of exercise during cold-weather months? With Dogtopia’s doggie daycare, we exercise your pup and ensure they get proper socialization and ample play time. Playrooms are grouped by size, personality and play style to make sure your dog is safe and comfortable. Visit your nearest location today: https://www.dogtopia.com/location-finder/.
Getting a new puppy can be a very exciting and rewarding experience for your family – especially if it’s your first! Although it’s wonderful to bring a new furry friend home, adjusting to this new environment may be abrupt and stressful for them. Patience, consistency and a solid plan will help your new puppy through the transition.
Follow these tips to make it easier for your puppy to adjust to their new forever home.
Prep your house
Puppies love to explore the world with their mouths and will chew up just about anything they can get their paws on! Remove any sharp objects and block access to electrical cords, sharp edges and anything else you wouldn’t want them licking or chewing. Secure shelves, televisions, and even trash cans so that your furry friend can’t crash into these and knock them over. You may also want to temporarily remove any area rugs or carpets as this can become a popular potty spot for new pups who still need to be trained.
Establish a routine
Puppies thrive on consistency, so it is important to set a schedule or routine right away. This means feeding, leaving the house, returning home, going for a walk, playing and sleeping should occur at approximately the same time every day. By doing this, you will help your new furry friend feel safe and secure, which will reduce the chances of them developing anxiety in the future.
Puppies thrive on consistency and setting predictable boundaries can be very beneficial. As we do with children, it is important to enforce the rules from day one. Allowing something to slide “just once” may confuse your pup about what is allowed and what is not.
Supervise them closely
Some dogs can get anxious and even destructive when left alone. Be sure to keep your eye on them, especially during the first few days. When leaving home, consider leaving your puppy in a crate temporarily while they get familiar with their routine and boundaries. Just remember to properly introduce your pup to his or her crate by taking it slow and making it a positive experience for them. If properly introduced, a crate can even become a comforting and relaxing place for your puppy.
Every dog adapts at their own speed. Try not to over-stimulate your pup during the first few days but instead keep things calm and positive. It is important to give them time to settle in and get comfortable with their new surroundings and routine.
While the first few days with your new furry friend can be both exciting and exhausting, it is also very rewarding. Above all, be sure to enjoy every moment because your new pup will be your best friend before you know it!