Can You Tell When a Dog is About to Bite?
Most dog bites can be prevented simply by learning how to speak a little dog.
Many people who are bitten by dogs say that they dog gave no warning, that it bit out of the blue. The truth is that dogs always give cues before they bite. The number of cues, types of cues and cue duration does all depend on the dog. Just like people, some dogs have shorter fuses than others.
Did you know that a yawn means a dog is stressed? Or that a wagging tail isn't always friendly? These are just a few common misconceptions when it comes to reading dog behavior.
What's the number one thing to look for? Look at the dog's overall posture -- is it loose or stiff? If a dog is at ease, his/her body will be loose and fluid. If a dog is stressed, anxious, or unhappy, his/her body will be more ridged and stiff. If a dog is stiff, back up. Give them space. Stop whatever you are doing that might be upsetting them.
Take a look at this graphic to learn more specific cues that you should watch for to prevent bites.
Does Fido Eat His Food Too Fast?
Does your dog eats his food at the speed of light? If so, it's important that you take actions to slow their eating habits to prevent severe, even fatal, medical conditions. When they practically inhale their food, they're not chewing it, so they are more likely to choke or may cause vomiting. When dogs race through their food, they also swallow a great deal of air, which can cause burping, gas or more importantly, bloat.
Bloat occurs when a dog's stomach fills with air. The longer a dog's stomach if filled with air, the more likely it is to twist, which is called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus and can be extremely deadly. Deep chested breeds such as Great Danes, Weimaraners, hound dogs, German Shepherds and Boxers, but any dog can get it. For more information on recognizing and treating bloat, click here.
So now that you know why it is important that your dog eat slowly, how do you accomplish that goal?
There are several products on the market designed to slow your dog's eating. You can purchase slow feeding dishes, like those made my Durapet and Brakefast. You can also choose to feed your dog using food toys like the Kong Wobbler which force the dog to work for his food. Looking to use your current bowl? Try getting two large, smooth stones (too large for your dog to swallow) and place them in the food bowl so that your dog has to eat around the stones. Another great option is to feed your dog in a muffin tin so that they have several small portions to eat.
Try feeding your dog more than once a day to ensure there are smaller portions for him to eat.
If your dog is eating fast to make sure another dog can't access his/her food, then try feeding them separately, perhaps in their crates, so they will feel safe and be less likely to race to eat everything.
Nail Trimming 101
Many people choose to take their pet to the groomer to get their nails trimmed because their pets dislike it or they are scared of making them bleed. That's totally fine! The important thing is that your pet's nails arae kept short to prevent their nails from snagging things, scratching you (or themselves) and causing paw problems.
For those of you who prefer to trim your pet's nails yourself, check out these great tips on how to prevent bleeding with proper maintenance.