In 2021, due to the ongoing pandemic, I had to focus mainly on my online activities. I was able to organize five free live webinars for you and the traditional Christmas Live. It also took me a long time to write my book and prepare for new webinars and a new online course for puppy owners. I hope that all these projects will see the light of day in 2022. If you want to be up to date with what is happening with me, I recommend subscribing to my newsletter. In it, I inform not only about all the news on the blog or the Piesology channel, but also about free webinars and other events that are often available only to people subscribed to my newsletter.
On the blog, you most read the entries:
On the other hand, the most watched films in 2021 were:
If you have read my 2020 summary or follow my social media, you probably know that in 2020 I participated in the workshops. “Train your chicken first” organized at the Stokrotka ranch. There I had the opportunity to work with chickens using the clicker method and teach them a few simple behaviors. In 2021, I was able to return to the second part of the “One World, Many Minds” workshop, where I was teaching chickens a bit more complex chains of behavior. You can see the effect of my work below. 😀
In June, we went with the dogs to the Stołowe Mountains. You can easily book a nearby accommodation with dog-friendly accommodation. The surrounding nature is beautiful. The biggest attraction is, of course, the Table Mountains National Park with many picturesque routes. However, equally beautiful and interesting are the surrounding mountains covered with beautiful spruce forests, which are located outside the National Park.
The end of the year was less kind to us. A hacker unfortunately jumped over a ditch in a field while walking. He whined as he landed and began to limp. The next day, the right front paw swelled and a hematoma appeared. After some time, swelling also appeared on the left front paw. A visit to a dog’s orthopedist and examination revealed torn tendons. For the near future we are to drastically limit the movement, so we love the longer walks we love. I also ordered an orthosis made to measure Haker’s feet from the manufacturer of orthopedic rehabilitation equipment for animals, Admirał. This is not a paid collaboration. However, if you ever need orthoses, prams, prostheses, orthopedic collars or other specialized equipment, I can recommend the Admirał company with a clear conscience. They have a huge selection, fulfill orders quickly, sew to size and in terms of quality, everything is done perfectly. Now we are going to rehabilitate with Haker and I hope that in a few months we will return to our favorite long walks and running in meadows and fields.
Dogs see the world very differently than we do. Their senses work differently from ours. Their brains process information differently. Dogs also have their own means of communication that are often unavailable to us. All this makes trying to get along with the dog can be much more difficult than we think. Therefore, it is good to create a common language that will be understandable both to us and our dogs. Improve your Relationship with your Dog can be very helpful in creating such a language.
In general, markers are all signals that help us communicate with the dog. These can be sound markers, e.g. words spoken by us or the sound of a clicker, visual markers, e.g. gestures, various objects and tactile markers. The latter are especially useful when working with dogs that cannot see and hear. For such dogs, touching the shoulder blade, ear, or mouth can provide the clearest signal.
The use of markers during training makes it easier for the dog to understand us. Thanks to this, he is less frustrated, better focused on the task and learns new commands much faster. Markers can be used both during training sessions and in everyday communication with the dog.
We can distinguish at least six types of markers depending on their function in communication with the dog.
The readiness marker is usually the dog’s name. When uttering them during training, we ask the dog, “Hey, are you ready to go?” When the dog looks at us, we have a clear affirmative answer and we can give him an order. When we don’t have the dog’s attention, the chance that it will obey our command drops drastically. We also need to focus on the task in order to do it well. When our thoughts are elsewhere, we may not even hear that someone is asking us for something, and it looks similar in our dogs.
For many dogs, a sachet of treats or toys can be a marker of readiness, i.e. a signal to start work. If these accessories always appear during training, the dog will quickly recognize them. Our clothes can also be a marker of readiness. Dogs know perfectly well in which shoes we go to work and which shoes are intended for a walk or training. For some dogs, entering a designated area is a marker of readiness. There are many possibilities here.
Reward markers tell your dog that they are doing something right, may be finished, and that they will be rewarded in a moment. A popular marker for a reward is the clicker sound. It is very precise, so we can mark exactly the behavior we want. It is also unambiguous, repeatable and unique, so the dog will not confuse it with other sounds in the environment.
We can also use short voiced words such as “yes”, “si” or “tak” as a reward marker. It is best to chant them differently from the words used in everyday life. We don’t want common words to get confused dog with a reward marker. It is also very important that this award always appears after the award signal. It doesn’t always have to be a treat. Many dogs prefer to work for example for playing with their handler.
You can also have many different reward markers depending on what the reward will be and where it will appear. For example, we can use a clicker as a food marker. The word “have” may mean that food will appear on the ground, and the word “catch” may be an announcement of a toy that we will throw to the dog as a reward for correctly carrying out a command.
The lack of reward marker is a signal for the dog that something went wrong and that this time it will not get the reward. The most commonly used markers of no reward are the words “no”, “ee”, or “ooh.” After saying these words, we simply do not give the dog a reward, which of course is a kind of punishment. It can be compared to playing with the heat of the cold, where warm means we’re getting closer and cold means we’re farther away. Likewise, in communicating with the dog, we can use a clicker or other reward markers to inform him that he is doing something right and markers of lack of reward when he does something carelessly or wrong.
On the one hand, the more feedback you give your dog during training, the better. Try to play with heat cold, using only the word “warm”. Achieving a goal this way is usually much more difficult and frustrating than in play where we get both pieces of information. On the other hand, many people misuse the no reward signal. Words like “no” and “ee” are usually characterized by negative emotions. The no reward marker should be emotionally neutral. You cannot take your frustration or anger out on the dog. If you can’t control your own emotions, you’d better not use the no reward marker. It will also not work for dogs with a very delicate psyche. For such dogs, any dissatisfaction on the part of the handler creates enormous pressure, which these dogs simply cannot cope with.
Also, the no reward signal may not be used when the dog does not know what is required of him or when he does not know what exactly he did wrong. Imagine a situation where you learn a foreign language from scratch and the teacher constantly says “no”, “wrong” etc. This method of learning will not be effective and will quickly discourage you. Imagine a situation where you read a longer piece of text to your teacher and the teacher says “no” at some point. Does it give you clear information when you made a mistake and what exactly was it? Without clear guidance from the teacher, it is not so obvious.
It is similar with the marker of lack of reward when training the dog. The dog often does not know what he has done wrong and how he can correct it. It only adds to the frustration and does not get any closer to achieving the goal. Therefore, when the dog is not following a command correctly, it is usually best to simply go back to an earlier stage in learning. Before demanding anything from a dog, we must make sure that it knows exactly what we mean.
Due to all the reservations and mistakes that are very easy to make, I advise you to be very careful when introducing no reward markers into your training. If you decide to use them, it’s best to do it under the supervision of a more experienced trainer.
When training a dog, we often not only want him to assume a position, e.g. sit or lie down, but also to keep this position for a long time. This is where the continuation markers are very helpful, that is, popular praise such as “bravo” or “good”. Hearing these words, the dog knows that he is doing well and that he has to continue this behavior in order to get a reward.
Unfortunately, many dog handlers forget about these praises. They say, for example, “sit down”, the dog sits down for two seconds, but nothing happens, there is no human feedback. The dog may feel that he is doing something wrong. So she gets up and sits down again. Nothing again? This begins to give the paw, lie down, and display other behaviors that previously rewarded. This way the dog tries to guess what you really mean. If your dog is behaving this way, it is very possible that your communication during training is not the best and it is worth introducing continuation markers.
Another very useful marker is the release marker. I wrote a little more about him in this post. The release marker tells the dog that the exercise is over and that he can do something else. For example, when we teach the dog to sit down and extend this position, it is worth teaching him that a speed marker will appear at the end of the exercise. In my case it’s the word “ok”, but you can also use other words like “already”, “can” or “run”. Thanks to this, the dog does not get impatient, but calmly waits for the release marker. Without this marker, the dog may break commands frequently, as it will never know when the exercise is over.
The End Marker can be used at the end of a training session or at the end of a game. An excited dog may not know when a training session is over and will demand our attention long after it is over. Therefore, it is worth introducing an end marker, which means “This is the end of training / fun. You are free, do what you want. ” For me, it is the word “end”, but I also encountered the command “free” or “thank you”. After issuing the end marker, we hide the treats, toys and do not take care of the dog. We don’t play with him. We don’t give any orders anymore.
It is possible that you are already using some of these markers in a more or less conscious way. It is very important to systematize them and create your own dictionary of communication with the dog. Think in what situations and why you want to use the marker. What word, sound or gesture will the marker mean. If this is not clear to you, how is your dog going to get it?
Of course, all people training with a dog should use the same dictionary. Dogs are very intelligent, and even if one person uses a marker and another doesn’t, the dog will figure out what’s going on over time. However, this is an additional difficulty for the dog, which significantly extends the training and may be a source of unnecessary frustration for the dog. It is as if he had to speak a different language to each member of the family.
It is also important to teach each marker that we use in communication with the dog first. Dogs aren’t born knowing what a clicker sound means or words like “ok”, “bravo” or “finished”. At the beginning, all these sounds are neutral for the dog and only we, during appropriate training, give them meaning.
I am very curious, which markers do you consciously or unconsciously use in communicating with your dogs?
The clicker training method is based on marking and strengthening the behaviors we want. A clicker is used to mark selected behaviors. It is a small box with a plate which, when pressed, produces a characteristic sound. One of the advantages of the clicker method is that we do not use any physical or mental pressure on the dog. We can also teach the dog to carry out new commands remotely. You can read more about the clicker method in my post Clicker method – how to start? Today I wanted to focus on the 10 most common mistakes in clicker training.
At first, the clicker sound is something neutral for the dog. It’s just another sound that occurs in the environment and means little to the dog. So we can’t buy a clicker and start training the dog with new commands right away. In order for the clicker sound to become a prize announcing marker, we must first condition it. Conditioning the clicker is very simple. All you have to do is give your dog a reward with each click. During conditioning, we do not expect any particular behavior from the dog. We just want to pair the click stimulus with the reward. After a few short series of conditioning, you can usually see that the dog is expecting a reward after hearing the telltale clicker sound. This is a clear signal that the clicker has been conditioned and that we can start working with this tool.
A clicker is a very precise tool that allows you to select exactly the behavior you want. The problem arises, however, when we have poor reflexes and click too fast or too late. Poor timing causes us to send the dog the wrong signals. It is difficult for him to find out which behavior we mark and reward. This can lead to a lot of confusion and a lot of frustration for the dog. Such training will be ineffective. So, before you start using the clicker while training your dog, it’s a good idea to practice dry. You can drop the ball to the ground and try to click exactly when the ball touches the floor. You can also toss the ball up and mark the moment when the ball is highest with the clicker. I also recommend exercises with an assistant who, for example, can tap a finger on the wall, and you can click this behavior with a clicker.
Some people use a clicker to get a dog’s attention or to call it to them. When we condition the clicker sound well and the dog already has a long history of amplification associated with it, it will of course respond enthusiastically to the sound. However, we cannot use the clicker as a command. A click should always be a signal to the dog that it has done something right and that its reward is about to come.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the clicker sound should be a neutral signal for the dog. However, there are dogs that are extremely sensitive to sound stimuli and are simply afraid of this sound. If you have such a dog, you cannot train with him with the help of a classic clicker. Changing a dog’s association with its sound to neutral or even positive may prove to be too difficult. The alternative is to use a clicker, which makes a quieter sound, or to use a marker in the form of a short voiced word, eg “yes”.
One of the basic principles of training a dog with a clicker is that there must always be a reward after each click. Even if we sometimes make a mistake and click at the wrong time, or if we accidentally select the wrong behavior that we want to teach the dog. The dog should not be held responsible for our mistakes. If we do not give the dog a reward after clicking, we will weaken the clicker. Over time, its sound will cease to be of any importance to the dog and will lose its usefulness in training the dog.
Another principle of clicker training is that the behavior that we select with a clicker must always appear first, and then the reward should appear. Dogs can be very fast, so catching all the desired behaviors is not that easy and requires a lot of reflexes. Additionally, we often want to provide the dog with a reward as quickly as possible, so that he can associate it with his behavior. As a result, it may happen that the dog shows a behavior, our hand starts reaching for the treat and only then clicks. If we repeat this pattern several times, the dog will quickly learn that the announcement of the reward is not really the clicker sound, but the movement of the hand towards the treats. Of course, this will weaken the clicker’s performance over time. To avoid this mistake, I recommend keeping the treat container a little further apart. Thanks to this, in order to reward your dog with a reward, you have to get up, take a step or two, and then reach for the treat.
At the beginning of learning a new command, we should give the dog a lot of feedback when it is going in the right direction. However, it may happen that for a long time the dog will not display any behavior that we could mark and reward. Long breaks like these without clicking or being rewarded can be very frustrating for a dog. The doggy has no idea what we mean and what he has to do to get the award. In such a situation, it is best to stop training and think about changing your strategy. Perhaps we are asking too much of the dog and need to break down the behavior into even smaller pieces? Or maybe you will have to consider a complete change of the criteria that we click?
Another common mistake is clicking repeatedly for the same behavior and not raising the bar for the dog. If we teach the dog to lie down, at the very beginning we can mark and reward a slight deflection of the front paws. As soon as we manage to achieve this, we should choose and reward only such bending of the paws that lead, for example, to the chest touching the ground. So we are changing the criteria. We no longer click on the deflection of the front paws, but touch the floor with the chest. If we stop there, the dog will think that this is the target behavior. So he will not try to bend his paws more and put his buttocks on the ground, because this is not what he is rewarded for. So we will get a beautiful bow, not a lying position. Raising the bar too quickly will make the dog confused and will not know what we mean. On the other hand, not raising it at all and constantly rewarding it for the same, will make it never progress.
The training session cannot be too long. It is difficult to come up with one correct length of session that will work for all dogs. Much depends on the dog’s age, health, ability to concentrate on the task, motivation or emotions. In some dogs, the session should last several seconds, in others – a few minutes. Of course, prolonging training sessions indefinitely can lead to mental fatigue in the dog. It can also be frustrating or over-agitated your dog. All this worsens his cognitive abilities and makes training less effective. Training with a clicker is also very demanding for you as trainers. You have to be very focused on what your dog is doing, picking up, marking and rewarding the right behaviors at the right times. With too long training sessions, not only your dogs’ concentration deteriorates, but also yours. So it is definitely better to do too short sessions than prolong them too long. I know that during clicker training, keeping track of the length of the session is particularly difficult. We focus on the dog and on clicking at the right moment and giving him a prize. At the same time, we stop paying attention to the passing time. When the dog starts to do something, we want to do one more repetition and one more … and finally there are too many repetitions.
Dog training can be divided into three stages. The first is the obtaining of preservation stage. At this stage, we train the dog to perform a given behavior on our verbal command or gesture. Then we have the behavioral consolidation stage in which we train the dog to obey the command in various distractions and situations. The third step is to maintain the behavior, that is, from time to time remind the dog of the previously learned behavior. The clicker is useful in the first stage of training, which is obtaining behavior. It helps us clearly and precisely explain the behavior to the dog. However, once we have obtained the behavior and teach the dog to perform it on a verbal command or gesture, there is no reason to continue using the clicker in the next stages of learning. Using this tool for too long can make the dog stop trying and start obeying the command more and more carelessly.
Of course, there are many more training mistakes that can be made when working with a dog. In this post, I tried to focus on errors related directly to the clicker method training. I am very curious, which of these mistakes you made, and maybe you still do? I recommend recording and analyzing your training sessions here. When we look at ourselves from the outside, we can see many more mistakes. Or maybe you make other mistakes that I have not listed here, and about which you would like to warn others?
I was browsing through Tik Tok recently and found a lot of funny and really cute dog videos, but I also found quite a few videos that shocked and saddened me. Unfortunately, many people, including those professionally working with dogs, still cannot read the signals sent by them. Ignoring calming signals, also known as early stress or threatening signals, leads to many unnecessary conflicts. So I thought it might be a good idea to give you my comments on some of the movies I found on Tik Toku.
In the first video, the groomer looks after a 9-month-old Golden named Brooke as if nothing had happened. She bathes it, dries it, combs it, trims its fur … nothing unusual. However, already during drying, the dog jumps on the groomer, which was a big surprise for her. Later, when the groomer grabs the dog’s mouth with her hand and brings the scissors closer to him, Brooke tries to bite her. This behavior was also not expected by the groom. As he says in the film, the dog hadn’t shown any signs of aggression before, but was it really so good for the dog to take previous grooming treatments and suddenly tried to bite without warning?
Not! The video clearly shows a series of calming signals that indicate the dog is stressed. Brooke clearly avoids eye contact with the groomer, turns her head, panting nervously, licks her nose. Additional stress may result in the dog being immobilized on a special grooming table and it is impossible to escape. We also do not know if Brooke was used to all these grooming treatments and grooming before. A dog will behave completely differently when the treatment is performed by a person he knows and trusts well than when it is done by a stranger.
Unfortunately, all signs of Brooke’s stress have been ignored here. If we do not react, when the dog calmly “talks” to us, it begins to “scream” loudly. In other words, when we ignore the calming signals, the dog may begin to show threatening or even aggressive signals, as with Brook.
In the next movie we see a girl trying to kiss her little bitch on the face. The bitch clearly does not like it and after a moment of threats she attacks the girl’s face. This scene is juxtaposed with a rottweiler growling loudly at a man kissing his face. The difference is that the Rottweiler does not attack him. In the description of the film, we can read that the dog’s growling is not even a warning signal.
In my opinion, however, this is a clear warning sign. The Rottweiler is tense, avoids eye contact with a man, licks his nose, shows proteins in his eyes, the so-called “Moon eye”, of course, it growls and shows its teeth. So it presents a series of calming and threatening signals at the same time. The only difference is he doesn’t attack… this time. The dog apparently has more patience with this type of human behavior than a small female, but that doesn’t mean it won’t attack in a similar situation in the future. And the consequences of a rottweiler attack can be much more serious than for a small female dog.
In the third film, we have a small child seated on a dog in the form of a German Shepherd. The child is very happy and so are his guardians, but what about the dog in this situation? You could say that the dog is also happy, because he smiles so widely, does not growl, does not attack the child … Unfortunately, from my perspective as a dog trainer and behaviorist, and from the dog’s perspective, it looks a bit different. The wide “smile” presented by the dog in this film is nothing more than nervous panting. When a child pulls his dog’s ears, bends over him, grabs his head, puts his fingers in his eye, the pooch shows a series of stress signals such as avoiding eye contact, turning the head, “moon eye” or licking his nose.
Unfortunately, many dog parents and guardians fail to pick up on all these little signals or consciously ignore them. Because more important than the emotions of the dog is that the child has fun. Because you have to take a funny picture on social media, etc. Fortunately, in this video the dog did not attack the child, but if this happens again, it may eventually lose its patience. Unfortunately, the consequences of such an attack will most likely be borne by the dog, and not by its irresponsible guardians and guardians of the child.
Below I am throwing you a video with my full analysis of these three ticks. If you are interested in the subject of dog communication, please click and watch.
How often do we hear or read in the media that the dog has bitten without warning? Dogs send us various messages all the time. We just need to learn to read them and respond accordingly. I hope that posts like this one will help you understand your dogs even better and avoid the situations that I am describing here.
Growling is one way of canine communication. Depending on the context of the situation and the dog’s body language, it can mean different things. This can be a warning sign, but it can also be a sign of normal excitement while having fun. In today’s post, I will try to describe the causes of different types of dog growls and how to deal with a situation when a dog growls.
Growling can be a warning or a threatening signal. The dog says “stay away because I’m ready to attack you” or “stop what you’re doing because I might bite you.” So it is a clear message that something is happening that the dog dislikes very much and is causing him nervousness or fear. A dog never sends out warning signals for nothing. There can be many reasons for a growl, and it can be accompanied by a variety of emotions.
Many dogs growl when they feel anxious or fearful. These emotions can arise when we do something unpleasant for the dog, when we act by force or by surprise. That is why proper socialization and getting dogs used to different situations is so important. Without it, the dog may perceive an attempt to pick it up, put on a harness, bathe or cut its claws like an attack. Many dogs also growl in defense of their territory, their family members, or exceptionally valuable resources. Such resources can be tasty teethers, a bowl of food, but also a favorite toy or, for example, a bed. Some dogs also treat their guardian as such a valuable resource and are able to actively defend them.
Dogs can also growl in frustration when their basic needs are not being met. For example, a dog that is very social, but has no contact with other dogs because it is kept on a leash or behind a fence, may respond to the sight of another dog with a snarl. It is not anger but frustration. However, such a growl can turn into aggressive behavior both towards the stranger and the handler. Some dogs relieve tension in such situations by biting the nearest thing or person within reach of their teeth. You have to be aware of this and be very careful in such situations.
Medical problems can also be another cause of the warning growl. When the dog hurts something, and we touch this sore spot, the dog may react by growling. Dogs are reluctant to show that something hurts them, so if you notice unusual behavior of your pooch, it is worth taking him to the vet and thoroughly examining him.
When your dog growls in warning, it’s best to stop doing what’s provoking him and walk away calmly to a safe distance. If a dog growls at people or dogs while walking, avoid them at a wide berth or even change the walking route to avoid unnecessary confrontation. Of course, just avoiding the dog growls will not solve the problem. Therefore, you also need to consider what caused the dog’s growling and work on it best under the supervision of an experienced behaviorist and veterinarian.
You must not punish the dog for growling. By applying penalties in such a situation, we enter into an open conflict with the dog and we can provoke him to attack. The penalty will not solve the root cause of the problem either. It can, however, teach the dog that this form of communication is unacceptable and that the next time the dog attacks without any warning.
Unfortunately, many people still believe that the dog is trying to dominate us by growling. It’s hard to say, however, that a dog that hurts something or is afraid of touching, lifting, putting on a harness, grooming or neighbors’ dog thinks about domination. There is also no the domination theory to explain each dog’s behavior, which I wrote more about in this article.
Growling is not always a warning sign, however. Dogs may also growl when playing with people or other dogs in excitement. Play is mock hunting or fighting. It exhibits the same behaviors as in real hunting or combat. The difference is that the dog is in control of its behavior and does not want to harm anyone.
Dogs growl especially when wrestling with other dogs or when dragging a shark. Growling while playing is not aggressive. The dog does not want to dominate its guardian in this way. Such a growl shows that the dog is having a great time and is very aroused.
On the one hand, we should be glad that the dog is deeply into the game and will snarl. When a dog likes to play with us, we can use it to learn the basics of obedience. Play is a great way to reward your dog during training. On the other hand, you should always be careful not to over stimulate the dog. The line between having fun and over-excitement leading to aggression can be thin. Therefore, we should control the dog’s excitement level, so that this limit is never exceeded.
It is worth introducing clear rules when playing with the dog and observing them consistently. It is helpful here to enter commands such as “have”, “let go” and “end” while playing with a jerk. By teaching your dog to catch and release a shark when prompted by word, and by communicating clearly when the game is over, it is much easier to keep his emotions at a safe level. I wrote more about how to teach a dog these commands here. I also recommend introducing the rule that each catching the human body with your teeth means the immediate end of the game. Many dog handlers allow the dog to pinch them or even chew them while they play. Some people find it funny. Others say their dog grabbed the hand by accident. Unfortunately, tolerating such behavior and rewarding it with more fun can lead to unnecessary aggression.
As you can see, the signals sent by dogs can be ambiguous. Growling can be a warning sign, but it can also be a sign that your dog is having a great time. If you are not sure what the intent of your dog’s growling is, it is always safer to assume that it is a warning snarl. I also recommend consulting a behaviorist who can help you identify the exact causes of your pooch’s growls.
Nobody would like to see a mess or a large pool of urine in the middle of the living room when they return home. Unfortunately, dog handlers sometimes have to face this reality. Many people get angry in similar situations. They tell the dog that he did wrong, they put bitten objects under his nose, etc. The dog reacts in such a situation with fear and shows a number of so-called calming signals, also known as stress signals. The dog crouches, avoids eye contact with the handler, puts his ears back, licks his nose, yawns. Some dogs raise the front paw or wag their tail nervously. If the stress level is very high and the dog feels that his life may be in danger, he can trigger one of five survival strategies. Most often, the pooch will just try to escape from a difficult situation, but he can also noticeably slow down his movements or even freeze motionless.
I have recorded a video for you with my commentary on tiktoków in which dogs show such behavior. However, do they prove that the dog feels guilty and knows that he did wrong? Will he exhibit undesirable behavior in the future when we punish him?
Dogs possess most mental abilities, including emotions, about the level of a two-to-a-half-year-old child. So they feel excitement, anxiety, contentment, disgust, fear, anger, joy, shyness, or attachment. On the other hand, emotions such as guilt, shame, pride or contempt are completely alien to dogs. What we often read as a dog’s guilt is actually fear. The dog, seeing our reaction, knows that something is wrong. However, he does not necessarily associate our anger with his previous behavior.
It is worth remembering that for the punishment to be effective, it must occur when the undesirable activity is performed by the dog or a few seconds later. Punishing a dog a few minutes or hours after the fact does not make any sense. The dog simply will not associate its behavior with its consequence, i.e. punishment. However, he will learn that when the guardian comes home and is very angry, it is better not to get in his way.
Professor Alexandra Horowitz conducted an interesting experiment. The dogs’ keepers would put the treat on the ground and forbade their pupils to eat it, after which they left the room. Only the observer, who filmed his behavior, remained in the room with the dog. The dog could obey the guardian’s prohibition and leave a treat, or disobey and eat it. In addition, the observer sometimes took the treat from the ground himself without the knowledge of the dog’s handler. Before returning to the room, the handler was informed whether his dog had broken the command or not. This information was not always correct. Upon hearing of the obedience, the guardian was to greet the dog in a friendly manner, while the disobedience was to be punished with a verbal reprimand.
It turned out that the dogs’ behavior did not depend on whether they were obedient or not. It depended, however, on the behavior of their guardian. When the handler greeted the dog in a friendly manner, the dog was happy even when he ate the treat lying on the ground. On the other hand, when the handler punished the dog with verbal reprimands, the dog displayed behaviors interpreted by many people as guilty even when the dog obeyed and did not eat the treat.
Based on a similar study by a team of researchers in Hungary and Scotland, it has been established that the behavior of dogs when greeting a handler cannot be a reliable indicator of whether the dog has committed a “crime” or not. What about punishing dogs for destroying, pampering themselves at home or stealing food in our absence?
When a dog has not been taught to be independent and stays home alone for many hours, it will look for ways to cope with increasing stress and anxiety. When biting or tearing objects apart, serotonin is released in your dog’s body. It is a hormone responsible for improving the dog’s mood, among other things. Destroying objects is therefore one of the stress coping strategies for dogs. If, after returning home, we scold the dog for the damage, we will not teach him this behavior. We can, however, increase his stress level and intensify unwanted behavior in the future.
The dog can also destroy objects in the house out of sheer boredom. If we do not provide him with the right amount of movement and mental stimulation, he will be looking for ways to meet these basic needs. In this case, punishing the dog will also not stop it from destroying the apartment. Disease can also be a cause of chewing things. Many dogs find solace by chewing on various objects when they have digestive problems. Biting is also more severe in puppies who replace their teeth permanently. Neither punishing a sick dog nor a teething puppy will solve the problem of destroying items in your home.
Another problem that dog handlers face is killing a dog while the handler is absent. There can also be many reasons for this behavior. Perhaps the dog has never been properly trained to clean and simply doesn’t know that he shouldn’t pamper himself at home. It is also possible that the dog had to wait too long for the next walk. Often, changing the diet, times of meals and walks causes the pooch to relieve himself at other times than usual. Many dogs kill themselves at home in the absence of their owners due to stress. You cannot forget about the diseases that make the pooch have to go outside more often.
Punishing a dog that is relieved of stress, because he is ill, because he has not been taught cleanliness or because he is taken too rarely for a walk will certainly not solve the problem. It can, however, aggravate your dog’s stress and make him pee at home even more often. A dog that is punished for taking care of himself in the house may also learn to eat his droppings. When there is no excrement, the person is not angry and there is no punishment. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to teach your dog this behavior later on.
Some dogs just wait for the handler to disappear from sight to steal food from the table, kitchen countertops, or the garbage can. It’s important to know that this is a natural behavior for many dogs. In the canine world, as long as the dog eats or stands over food, the food belongs to him. However, when the pooch leaves him and ceases to be interested in him, everyone can come and take them. In the human world, the rules are slightly different. When we leave the sandwich on the table and go to another room for a while, we expect food to be waiting for us when we return. Due to these differences in human and dog habits, we often have unnecessary conflicts.
Of course, you can teach your dog not to move any food that is left for a while. However, it should be remembered that this behavior is not natural for the dog. We also cannot expect the dog to guess what rules prevail in the human world and to follow them perfectly. We cannot demand behaviors from the dog that we have not taught him before.
If we have a dog that has experienced hunger in his life, his need to constantly get food can be very great. Punishing a dog for this behavior will not make it stop stealing food. Some dogs are constantly looking for food because they are just hungry. If we feed our dog with highly processed, poorly digestible food, even giving him large portions will not satisfy his nutritional needs. Punishing a dog that is hungry, lacking in its diet, or is sick will not suddenly make it stop stealing food.
If your pooch destroys various items, takes care of things at home or steals food, the key to solving the problem is always finding its causes. Only when you know the causes of your dog’s undesirable behavior, you can try to change them. If the pooch destroys the apartment because he suffers from separation anxiety, it is worth taking him to the vet and to a behaviorist who will develop an individual plan for further therapy. On the other hand, if the dog destroys various objects at home out of boredom, increasing the number and intensity of walks and introducing additional mental stimulation in the form of olfactory games or learning the basics of obedience should solve the problem.
Likewise for dogs that mess around in the house or steal food. We first identify the causes of the problem, and only then consider how we can change the dog’s undesirable behavior. We will work differently with a dog that has not been trained to clean, and differently with a dog that has a sick bladder. One thing is for sure, yelling at your dog will not solve the root cause of the problem and will not change its behavior. However, it can negatively affect your relationship and your dog’s sense of security.
Coren S. (2013). Which Emotions Do Dogs Actually Experience? Psychology Today
Hecht J, Miklósi Á, Gácsi M (2012) Behavioral assessment and owner perceptions of behaviours associated with guilt in dogs. Appl Anim Behav Sci 139: 134-142.
Horowitz A (2009) Disambiguating the guilty look: salient prompts to a familiar dog behavior. Behav Process 81: 447–452.
What is the best dog food for poodles? When selecting the best dog food for your poodle, you need to focus on the correct balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Whether your poodle is still a puppy or already in its senior years, you need to make sure you continue selecting a high quality dog food throughout its life.
One way of making sure that you select the correct type of dog food, is to check the Guaranteed Analysis info. All pet food labels have to show this nutrient content analysis. It will give you an indication of the crude protein and fat content percentage, as well as the crude fiber and moisture content.
By feeding your dog the best dog food for poodles, you will be assisting its immune system to be as strong as possible. Other benefits of a good diet include good eye sight, a healthy coat and it can even affect your dog’s personality.
An important aspect to keep in mind, is that your poodle has specific nutritional needs at various life stages. Your dog’s general health, age, size and activity level can influences the choice of dog food as well.
The Bones and Raw Food diet (BARF) is a new trend that has recently become very popular. It’s a great alternative to commercial dog food. All the ingredients you will need for this diet, can be bought at your local supermarket.
Add the following: fruits and vegetables; eggs; raw chicken, backs and necks plus other raw meats and bones. You can add all these ingredients together in your blender to create natural dog food. But when considering this diet for your poodle, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Firstly, it can be a very messy meal. So you might have to clean your poodle more regularly. You also need to take the strength of your poodle’s jaw into consideration. There are a few rules to follow when it comes to feeding your dog bones. Read our post Can Dogs Eat Rib Bones? to be aware of all the health risks involved in feeding your dog bones.
Please note: check with your vet before switching to the BARF diet.
When deciding upon the best dog food for poodles, it’s best to find a brand that you trust and continue to feed it to your dog throughout its life. Most dog food brands have a specific nutritional mix for puppies, adults and senior dogs.
It’s crucial to switch between dog food stages at the correct times during your dog’s lifetime. At each life stage your dog requires a very specific combinations of nutrients. By finding a high-quality dog food brand, you can rest assured that all your dog’s dietary needs are fulfilled.
Unless your dog is reacting very strange to a specific brand or experiencing odd health issues after eating it, you shouldn’t be jumping around between different types of dog food brands. Your dog’s body needs to become accustomed to the specific dietary combination of a dog food brand.
Don’t simply pick the cheapest dog food brand because you want to save money. You might save money now, but selecting a low-quality dog food brand, can end up costing you more in vet bills later on. If you’ve bought your puppy from a reputable breeder, rather stick with the dog food brand they’ve selected to feed your little poodle.
If you do want to switch to a brand you are more familiar with, you need to create a diet transition period so that your puppy can become accustomed to the new food. Mix the new food slowly with the old food, starting with a high ratio of the old food and only a little bit of the new.
A good indication of a high-quality dog food brand, is the protein content. Check the ingredient list and see how much beef, chicken or fish it contains. Steer clear from brands with high quantities of cornmeal and flour. Also, preservatives are important to extend product life, but too many can be harmful. Read this article about bad preservatives in dog food.
Just like humans, dogs can become bored with their diets. So make sure you don’t buy the same type of dog food from your preferred brand every time. You might also notice that your dog likes one type more than the other, for instance chicken flavor instead of turkey. Use canned food as an occasional treat, not the main source of your dog’s diet. They are usually made up of 70% water, so they don’t have very high nutritional value, but can spice up a boring meal a little bit.
If you do decide to stick with the dog food that your poodle breeder was using, make sure that they did not opt for a low-quality brand because they want to save money when buying in bulk. When this is the case, rather switch to the best dog food for poodles recommended by your vet. Remember to change over to a new brand slowly, a fast change may cause tummy upset or digestive problems.
A poodle puppy grows really quickly, so it needs to consume a lot of calories, especially in the first five months. During this time, you will need to feed your puppy twice as many calories per pound as an adult poodle. Your dog food brand will have a calorie intake indication on the bag that you can use. Once you have this information, use this handy dog food calculator to determine how much you must feed your poodle puppy.
For the first four to six months it’s best to feed your puppy three times a day. Once your puppy turns six months old, you can switch to feeding it twice a day.
Tip: switch to adult dog food when your puppy reaches 90% of its expected adult weight.
A small poodle weighing 20 pounds or less can switch to adult food between 9 to 12 months. A medium sized poodle between 20 and 50 pounds should switch between 12 to 14 months.
Stick to the feeding instruction of your dog food brand. Or if you want to make double-sure that you are not over or under feeding your poodle, make use of the dog food calculator mentioned about. It’s all about getting the balance right, taking into consideration how much your dog weighs and its activity level.
Poodles are high energy dogs, so it is best to help them maintain a constant energy level by feeding them twice a day. This is especially import for small poodles, standard poodles can function on one feeding, but two feedings are more beneficial
Some people debate that you should only switch to senior dog food if your dog has health issues. But as your dog grows older, its nutritional needs change. Dog food brands create special formulas to compensate for this.
Once your dog hits its senior years, when it’s between 10 to 12 years old, your dog’s metabolism will start to slow down and it will need less calories per day. The amount of food you feed it, will depend on whether you are sticking with adult food or switching to senior.
As your dog gets older, its bowl movements will also change. You can consider switching to feeding it only once a day, or you can give it less food at night to avoid any unwanted mishaps in the house if your dog sleeps inside.
Because poodles are high energy dogs, it’s crucial to invest adequate time when you are searching for the best dog food for poodles. By finding a high-quality dog food brand, you can enrich your dog’s life quality, as well as save on unwanted vet bills.
Have you discovered a specific dog food brand that works best for your poodle? Or did you successfully switch to the BARF diet?
Ten interesting facts on dog psychology you probably did not know!
What really goes on in the mind of a dog has been a great topic of discussion for many years. What do they think? Why do they think this way? How did they develop this manner of thought and behavior? While we may never be able to have a conversation with our furry companions, we have made several amazing advances in the study of dog psychology that help us understand them a little better. Here are ten of the most interesting facts about dog psychology.
Many dog owners have probably noticed their dogs twitching, moving their paws, gently barking or crying and huffing in their sleep. It was usually a minor musing that the dog may be dreaming, and the thought of whether or not an animal can actually have dreams was commonly discussed among dog owners. However, several studies in dog psychology now say with certainty that our canine friends do actually experience dreams. Dogs share similar sleep patterns as humans, and their brain activity while sleeping also resembles that of a human brain when asleep. Due to such similarities, it’s strongly believed that dogs actually can dream. In fact, they likely do it as much as any normal person does. Researchers also believe that the most common dreams are happy and involve activities such as playing, chasing an animal or simply running around. Studies also show that smaller breeds tend to dream more frequently than bigger breeds, and that recent events such as playing, seeing an old friend or going someplace new can prompt dreams when the dog goes to sleep.
Many forms of dog psychology can be linked to the world of human psychology. For example, in much the same realm as a baby understanding that its cry draws the attention of its parents, a dog also understands that a bark elicits a reaction from its owners. In addition, like an older child who gets rewarded after tantrums to get them to stop making noise, dogs also tend to become stuck in their ways and behaviors if this is consistently reinforced. Owners who tend to give into their dog’s barking, such as in instances where an owner will take a dog barking near the food bowl as an indication that they want to be fed, commonly experience difficulty in controlling their dog’s barking.
Even those without a minute of experience in studying dog psychology know that dogs are smarter than people tend to give them credit for. They may not be solving complex math equations, but they’re usually not easily fooled, and they learn very quickly. Exactly how smart do they commonly get in comparison to humans? Research indicates that many dogs have intelligence and understanding on par with a human toddler of about two years old. They have the capacity to learn how to count, understand around 150 words and they can solve problems as well as devise tricks to play on people and other animals.
While their vocabulary may never reach the complexity of even a young child, our understanding of dog psychology indicates that they can easily understand a wide range of vocal tones. For example, your dog may understand their name and react when called, but the tone of voice used when calling the dog can change their behavior when they come to you. Happy tones make a dog excited and playful while angry tones make dogs feel sad or frightened. If there is fear in your voice, the dog may believe that you’re being threatened and rush to protect you. Sharp tones of pain may prompt comforting behavior from the dog.
One of the most basic and accepted pieces of dog psychology is introduced through the signal of the trademark tail wag. It’s widely accepted by nearly everyone from people who have never owned dogs to authorities in dog psychology that a wagging tail means that a dog is happy, but it’s a more complicated matter than you may think. It is true that when a dog is happy, they wag their tail. However, this is only true when the tail is being wagged to the right. If it’s wagging to the left, it’s indicative of fear. Low tail wags mean nervousness, and rapid tail wags mixed with tense muscles can be a sign of aggression.
Researchers put dogs side by side and gave them commands. Both dogs would perform the same given command and only one would get a treat. The one who was not given a treat showed signs of agitation, avoided contact with the rewarded dog and scratched more often. This was further attributed to jealously as these signs of agitation appeared more frequently in the experiment with pairs of dogs than in times when a dog was alone and was refused a reward.
An interesting aspect of their feeling of jealousy is in the lack of importance of what’s being offered as a reward. If one dog is being given something great as a treat such as a piece of steak while another is given something like a small dog biscuit, the signs of jealousy are not present. They only care that they get rewarded, not what the reward is.
Interestingly, dogs react the same way no matter if they performed the act or not. While it’s unlikely that one dog could actively frame another dog for a misdeed, there are the circumstances of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Merely seeing or hearing the negativity from their owners or anticipating punishment is enough to bring on that sad puppy dog face.
Many people turn to dog psychology books and guides to help them in training their dogs. However, the presence of a trained older dog may be the easiest way to teach them how to behave and react to commands. Puppies commonly model their behavior from older dogs in their household. If the older dog is trained well and behaves, the puppy can adopt the behavior of the dog quite quickly.
When the older dog is given a command, performs it and gets a treat, the puppy may be able to more easily understand what this command means and what to do when it is given through a form of mimicry.
There are several times in a dog owner’s life where they could swear that their dogs are behaving badly as a way to get revenge for something. For instance, a dog making a mess on the carpet while its owners are gone all day or chewing up a pillow because its owners didn’t want to play outside can easily be viewed as vengeful acts. However, these behaviors can easily be explained through other more likely reasons.
For example, the first dog could have gone to the bathroom on the carpet because it was stressed out from being home alone all day or having a drastic change in routine. The second dog could have been frustrated due to pent up energy from not being played with and released the energy through tearing something up.
The major issue with the idea of vengeance in a dog is the fact that it requires some form of premeditation that dogs don’t seem to be capable of. Dogs can act in immediate retaliation such as when they’re attacked, but they don’t appear to have the mental capacity to purposely plan out and perform acts of vengeance against anyone. The bad acts should be addressed through proper methods such as stress management and alternative play time not punishment.
While giving your dog plenty of love and attention is an important aspect of raising a happy dog, studies in dog psychology state that this alone is not good enough to raise an emotionally and mentally healthy dog. Dogs need a healthy balance of affection, attention and discipline in order to feel secure, safe, happy and like a true part of the family.
If they don’t receive some form of discipline through effective and consistent training and their owners taking a dominant stance, they can easily become unhappy, confused in what is and is not acceptable behavior, emotionally unstable and insecure.
According to studies conducted by Paul Zak, a professor at Claremont Graduate University in California, a dog’s brain releases Oxytocin, which is the love hormone, when it interacts with humans and other dogs. Humans releases Oxytocin when we hug or kiss.
You can read a bit more about Paul Zak’s study right here.
Are you worried that your dog might have worms, but do not know what the symptoms of worms in dogs are? If you’ve had your dog for any reasonable length of time, you would be very lucky if your dog had not had a bout of worms at some point.
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Worms are a very common issue with dogs. Despite it being common, if left untreated, worms can be very dangerous for your dog. And of course your dog could feel ill and uncomfortable, which is the last thing you would want.
So here, we’ll list the main symptoms of worms in dogs you need to look out for, how to treat your loved pet, and also how to prevent your dog getting worms in the future.
Quick NavigationThere Are Five Type of Worms That Commonly Affect DogsSo What Are The Common Symptoms of Worms In Dogs?Treatment For The Symptoms Of Worms in Dogs, and Prevention To Stop Future InfectionsHow To Prevent Symptoms of Worms in DogsConclusion – Symptoms of Worms In Dogs
Before we jump into the common symptoms of worms in dogs, we first need to understand what kind of worms a dog could have. Below are five common types of worms that could affect dogs.
Tapeworms – This type of worm is caused by your dog eating pests that are infected by tapeworm, or from your dog licking themselves when grooming and ingesting fleas that contain tapeworm eggs. This type of worm usually infects dogs with flea infestations, or hunting dogs. This is one of the easiest worms to spot as your dog’s faeces will resemble grains of rice. These worms attach themselves to your dog’s intestines, where they absorb some of the nutrients from your dog’s food, and therefore can cause malnutrition in your dog. A tablet or injection can kill tapeworms. Humans also get tapeworms, but this is not usually from an infected pet. If you like to know more about tapeworms, read this article.
Roundworms – Roundworms are basically worms the live and feed inside your dog’s intestines. Most dogs will have some roundworm at some stage of their lives. You can usually spot if your dog has roundworms by looking at their poop (or their vomit If they are throwing up). If you see light brown or white things that look like spaghetti that are a few inches long, chances are that it is roundworm. Roundworms are quite common and puppies are usually at most risk of getting the worms and becoming sick from it. A puppy can usually get the worms from their mother, either while they are still in the whom or even by drinking her milk. Other ways your dog might get roundworms is by eating poop that has roundworm eggs in it, or eating smaller animals (such as mice) that are infected with roundworm. Take note that roundworms can be transmitted to humans through contact of faeces or contaminated soil. If you want to read more about roundworms, read this article.
Heartworms – This type of worm is mainly spread by mosquitos, so you need to keep in mind where you live. Areas where there are a high chance of your dog being infected by heartworm in the USA are Midwestern and Southeastern states, and along the Atlantic coast. This worm is often the hardest to diagnose as the infection process is slow, and your dog will show only minor and very subtle symptoms until the infection passes onto a more advanced stage. Once it infects it host, it lives in the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs, as well as the heart itself. Symptoms include your dog coughing a lot and having problems breathing, amongst other symptoms. At an advanced stage, heartworms will affect how your dog’s heart works and cause blood clots, which could be fatal. Treatment is usually two to three arsenic-based drugs injected into your dog, and then around a month of rest. If you would like to know more about heartworms, read this article.
Hookworms and Whipworms– These types of worm propagate in wet or damp soil. Therefore, if your dog is kept on grass runs, and even more so in humid, warm environments. These types of worms are much more common in dogs that stay in kennels where they have access to communal grassy areas. Adult dogs are usually infected when they are cleaning themselves, or through their skin. A very unpleasant type of worm, it will live mainly in the small intestine of your dog and sucks the blood from their host. Once infected, your dog will feel weak and malnourished. As with roundworm, this worm can also pass from mother to pup, and it can lead to the death of puppies. A couple of rounds of deworming medicine will usually do the trick, but if you have a puppy, they may need further treatment. It’s worth noting that humans can also get hookworms, but that’s usually from eating unwashed vegetables, or walking on damp soil or sand barefoot. If you would like to know more about hookworms, read this article, and if you want to know more about whipworms, read this article.
So no that we know what kind of worms can affect our beloved dog, we can start looking at the symptoms of worms in dogs:
It is good knowing what symptoms of worms in dogs to look out for, but what can we do about it? Below we list some possible actions to take if you notice symptoms in your dog:
If your dog is feeling really sick and you are worried about your dog, you should definitely take it to the vet to get it properly diagnosed. However, if you want to treat a mild case of worms there are dewormers available to buy over-the-counter. When looking for a dewormer, make sure you get the right options to suit your dog’s size and that will be effective for the specific type of worm that your dog has.
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This dewormer helps treat hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. Treatment using this dewormer is to give your dog one packet of powder each day, for three days. You can mix the powder in with some dogfood to make it easier to get your dog to take it. There should not be much side-effects when your dog takes this dewormer. They might have some loose stools though.
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What I like about this dewormer is that it is a natural dewormer that does not have a bunch of chemicals in it. It contains some healthy ingredients, such as Black Walnut Green Hull, Black Seed, Sage Leaf, Fennel Seed and Papaya Leaf . This dewormer helps treat pinworm, roundworm, giardia, tapeworm, whipworm and ringworm.
Take note though that this dewormer takes a bit of time to work (usually a few weeks!).
If you also have cats, you can use this to deworm them too, which should save you some hassle and money!
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This is another powder based dewormer that you can mix in with your dog’s food. It treats tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. Similar to the Panacur dewormer, this is a three day treatment and you can adjust the amount you give your dog based on their size.
Take note thought that this dewormer is only intended for dogs that are 6 weeks or older. So do not get this for a new born puppy!
If you are concerned that your dog has worms, there are some great dewormer products that you can try. One such a product is Merck Animal Health Panacur C Canine De-Wormer, Net Wt. 12 grams, Package Contents Three, 4 gram packets. It helps treat hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms.
We all would prefer having a healthy and happy dog! So what can we do to prevent the symptoms of worms in dogs? Below we list some actions you can take proactively:
If you notice symptoms of worms in dogs, take action! Do not wait too long hoping it will just go away. We listed some possible actions you could take to address the symptoms of worms in dogs, but if the problem persists take your dog to a professional veterinarian that can properly diagnose the symptoms and prescribe a treatment.
What are the best dog toys for chewers? For me the best dog toy for chewers has to be from Kong. They make dog toys from quality material and are designed to be not only durable, but also entertaining for your dog. The KONG Classic Dog Toy is durable, fun and can be stuffed with a treat. It also comes in various sizes, so you can choose the best size to suit your dog!
What are the best dog toys for chewers? Dogs like to chew on things. Especially younger dogs that still have itchy gums! That is just the way it is. So rather than your dog destroying your furniture, shoes, pillows and who know what else, a better option is to get a chew toy that will not only satisfy their chewing needs, but also hopefully keep them entertained for a little bit.
Chewing is a natural thing for dog. Puppies chew to learn about the world around them (much like human babies like to put things in their mouths and taste it) and to help itchy gums. Adult dogs chew to keep their masticatory (chewing) muscles strong, help clean their teeth or sometimes just to pass the time. So really, it is in your dog’s best health interest that you give it a chew toy that they can chew to their heart’s content.
All dogs chew the same, right? Well, apparently not. Dogs can actually be divided into three different categories in terms of their chewing habits.
Gentle Chewers – These are the dogs that are easy on their chew toys. They usually like to lick or even suck on their toys, rather than trying to destroy it!
Average Chewers – Average chewers like most types of chew toys! They usually like their toys so much that they tend to carry the toys with them where ever they go. These dogs might be destructive on softer chew toys, such as plush or fabric toys, but will not necessarily be very destructive on harder toys, such as rubber chew toys.
Power Chewers – These are the dogs that make it their mission to chew things up as quickly and as thoroughly as they can! They are what I like to call determined chewers. For these dogs you will need to choose a dog toy that is durable and interactive. If your dog is a power chewer, you might want to look at something like the KONG Extreme Dog Toy. It is specifically made for dogs that are powerful chewers.
For some tips on how to teach your dog to stop gnawing on everything in site, check out this article from The Humane Society.
So it seems chewing is a natural thing for your dog. It is actually even good for them! But how do you choose the best dog toy for a chewer?
When I look for a chew toy for my dog, there are a few important things I look for in the toy. Every dog is different of course, so you need to think about how old your dog is, how big it is and how heavy a chewer it is.
Rawhides and Pig Ears – You probably see a lot of these and they are usually an affordable option to consider. But I would not pick this is the best option when it comes to dog toys for chewers. The simple reason being that these rawhides can get lodged in your dog’s trachea (“windpipe”), which could cause choking. A piece of rawhide could also get stuck in your dog’s stomach, a resulting in digestive obstruction.
Edible Chew Treats – Your dog will probably really like these, but if you have a serious chewer on your hands then this is not a good option for you either. Simply, it will not last very long! You could however give your dog these as a treat in combination with a more durable/traditional chew toy. The benefit of these treats are that they usually help with your dog’s dental health. Give your dog too much of this, and it will of course get fat!
Cow Hooves – Cows hooves are also a common and affordable option for you to find, but as they can be quite hard they can break your dog’s teeth or even splinter. Splinters can cause injuries to your dog’s mouth or digestive tract. Even though they are affordable, I prefer to stay away from them.
Elk/Deer Antlers – There are some good reasons for antlers being really popular as chew toys for dogs. Antlers are natural (so no need to worry about suspicious chemicals) and are sustainably harvested (Deer and Elk shed their antlers naturally, so no need to feel bad for the Deer or Elk). But…similar to Cow hooves, antlers can break your dog’s teeth (antlers are really hard!). In fact, antlers have caused so many injuries to dogs that plenty of veterinarians and veterinary dentists have started issuing warnings to pet owners about antlers as chew toys for dogs.
Bully Sticks – This is another chew toy for dogs that is popular. You will probably see these sticks in most pet stores. Dogs love them and a lot of dog owners swear by them. But, there are some pitfalls to using these sticks. This includes an increase in your dog’s calorie intake (making them fatter than they should be). Some of these sticks can also have some nasty bacteria on them that will make your dog sick. Oh and by the way…these “sticks” are actually bull penises!
Rubber Chew Toys – Rubber dog toys are usually the safest and most durable dog toy option for chewers. You need to make sure that if you do go for the rubber option, that the toy is made from quality rubber, and not flimsy cheap rubber. Cheap rubber will not last nearly as long and might contain ingredients that are not very healthy for your dog. There is also a much smaller chance with quality rubber toys that a piece will come loose from the toy and get stuck in your dog’s digestive system. I also like that I don’t have to worry much that my dog’s teeth might break.
I usually like to look for a toy that is hollow so that I can put a treat or maybe some peanut butter inside. You will be pleasantly surprised how long this can keep your dog entertained!
Rope Chew Toys – I like rope chew toys because they are not hard, so less chance of your dog breaking its teeth. It is also the typical toy that your dog enjoys tugging on with you, which makes for fun play time for you and your dog. However, I would be careful to give a rope toy to a younger dog. The simple reason being that I am a little paranoid about a puppy possibly trying to swallow a piece of the rope, which will result in a panicked visit to the vet! If your dog is a heavy chewer, a rope chew toy might come undone quickly.
Okay, so now that we know what to look for in a dog toy for chewers and what kind of chew toys to avoid, we can look at some toys that might be excellent choices for our little chewers!
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Kong is one of the best known brands in the pet industry and is known for making high quality dog toys. A lot of dog owners only ever buy Kong toys for their dogs.
This particular toy is something that ticks most, if not all, the boxes for what I look for in a dog toy:
You can order this toy in different sizes, so you can order the size that best suits your dog. What I also like about this toy is that it is specified as being made in the USA!
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If you want a dog chew toy that you can also use when you play with your dog, this chew rope package is a great option. It is a pack of three, with three ropes of different sizes. So you can pick the size of rope that works best with the size of your dog. The shortest rope is approximately 10 inches, while the longest rope in the pack is approximately 20 inches.
It is made from recycled cotton rope and is designed to not easily fray. As it is made from cotton, it is easily cleaned by throwing it in the washing machine.
I like to play tug-of-war with my dogs, so this rope toy is something I really like. I also like the design of the toy where the knots in the rope helps to clean your dog’s teeth while they chew on it.
If you dog is a power chewer, a rope chew toy might not be the best option as they will likely manage to unravel the rope pretty quickly. I would rather get this rope toy for gentle chewers or maybe average chewers.
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Remember how I mentioned in the checklist to be careful of dog chew toys that are coated for flavoring, as it might upset your dog’s stomach? If I was looking for a flavored toy for my dog, this is probably the toy I would pick. It is flavored using real ingredients in order to give a real bacon taste! While I cannot guarantee that this toy will not cause your dog an upset tummy, there is little to no feedback from folks who have used this toy that it caused their dog any issues.
The toy is made from nylon to make it strong and durable, while having a curved wishbone design to help your dog get a good chewing position!
Take note that the manufacture does not recommend this toy for dogs that are more than 70 pounds in size.
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One of my favorite things to do on a beautifully sunny day is to play fetch outside with my pup. He gets some exercise and we spend some quality time together.
If your dog is a power chewer, then this rubber ball from Kong is an excellent option to consider. It is from their “Extreme” range, so it is specifically designed for power chewers.
It is made from rubber, which makes it very bouncy….and that makes for a lot of fun! It is 3 inches in total length (making it roughly the size of a tennis ball) and has a hole drilled through the center, which gives your dog some nice grip when it has a chew on it.
This toy is intended for medium/large dogs. So if your dog is still just a tiny puppy or a small dog, then this is perhaps not the best dog toy to consider (it is a little heavy, so a small dog might struggle with it).
I am sure you have tried a bunch of different toys for your little chewer. What have you found works best? Are there other toys that you think are the best dog toys for chewers, which is not on our list?
Please share your experience of dog chew toys with us by commenting in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!