Refocus Your Dog

refocus your dog
refocus your dog

"Focus"

It came to my attention, just the other day, how important it is to keep your dog’s focus on you while walking.  Sounds simple, right?  Well it can be if you remember to follow a few steps.  I learned this from a dog trainer in Maryland who worked for the local animal shelter.  She said it is especially effective with dogs that are food-motivated, so….I think that gets all of them!!  Before you leave your house, put a few treats in your pocket.  If your dog is like mine, he will know right away that you have the goodies.  Why?  Because he knows where the treats are and just getting close to that source will make him salivate.  If he doesn’t notice, you can always pass one right under his nose and he will get the picture loud and clear.  Begin your walk and praise your dog as he is quietly walking beside you.  Depending on your dog and how quickly he loses interest in your presence, walk a few paces then call your dog’s name.  If he is close to you and turns to give you his undivided attention, give him a treat.  If he is at a distance, as soon as he makes eye contact show him the treat and wait for him to come closer then give him the treat.  When this pattern is repeated over and over your dog will soon learn that you are a source of unending goodness as long as he is paying attention to you.  Keep in mind that over time it is best to give the treat intermittently for it to retain it’s allure.  If your dog thinks he just has to look at you to get a treat, you will run out of money before your dog runs out of attention!  In Behavior Modification, the inconsistent reward has a stronger and longer lasting result than a consistent reward.  That works to our favor in regards to dog training.  Many people will pair the action with a command, usually “focus” or you could use “look at me” .  I have a black terrier that I see regularly and he has a penchant for barking at anything that moves while we are walking.  Sometimes he gets really carried away and will start lunging at the object.  This could be a car, a person or another dog.  It’s a bit disruptive to the walk and a bad behavior for your dog to learn.  This happened on our walk and I was reminded about the “focus” command.  It works like a charm and will have your dog watching you like a hawk whenever you go for a walk.

Feline Gingivitis or “Poor Sammy”

How ironic can this be that just weeks after posting about pet dental care, one of my kitties is diagnosed with gingivitis?   Sad but true.  Little Sammy came home one day from cavorting around in the woods.  His fur under his neck was all matted and sticky and after grooming him, he was drooling.  The drooling wasn’t so bad, however  the foul odor from his mouth could have knocked over a pro linebacker!!  I was really scared for my fuzzy little friend and decided he needed to see a vet.  I was absolutely sure there was some sort of decaying carcass in there. I was sure he had some mysterious and expensive infection.   My alarm was a bit of an over reaction, much to my husband’s chagrin.  He actually thought this post should be about waiting a few days before seeing the vet when a problem is found.  Men are so silly, that wouldn’t have helped little Sammy at all.  He needed a diagnosis and treatment.  So after spending a good bit of our hard-earned cash, we were armed and ready to battle the gingivitis.

First the obligatory antibiotic treatment.  I love how the vet says “Just tilt your cat’s head back and the jaw will drop right down.  Pop in the pill and your done!”  Not so fast, sister – and not so simple either.  Did you know there are articles written on how to pill a cat?  It’s that tricky.  So little Sammy and I sat down on the comfy bed.  I held his fuzzy little body close to mine in order to keep a close eye on his claws.  With my left hand behind his head, I used my thumb and index finger to apply pressure to the jaw as I tilted his head back.  Sure enough, the jaw dropped down…Cool!!  Now if I could just get him to sit still.  I popped the pill in the back of his throat, closed up the jaw and stroked his neck to encourage him to swallow.  Okay.  That step was done.  Now on to the preventive steps that we will continue for a long time – brushing his teeth.The video from my previous post made it look easy.  And  it is with dogs because they are easier to secure and less likely to slash you with razor sharp claws. Cats are a bit different. The video below will show you how to wrap your cat in a towel, thus disarming him of his lethal weapons – the claws. Before I safely tuck little Sammy in a towel, I wrap my dominant finger with gauze and put a small amount of kitty toothpaste on the gauze. Once secured, Sammy is ready for his dental hygiene routine. I gently lift the front lip and begin rubbing the teeth in a circular pattern. I then move to the back teeth. It is not necessary to clean the inside of the teeth – thank goodness!!  Cats really don’t like to have their mouths opened by anyone but themselves.   When I’m done, I give lots of praise and treats. I like to use the FELINE GREENIES GREEN 6 OZ. treats that are designed for dental health. It has taken several attempts to make this a smooth process and Sammy’s gingivitis is improving.  I trust you will find this post helpful.