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October 1, 2015

Help your Dog Adapt to Autumn & What does saying NO mean to your Pup?

Adapting to autumn

Many of us love this time of year — the changing color of the leaves, brisk fall breezes, and finally a respite from the hot weather of Summer. For your dog, however, fall may be more work than fun.

The change in the season can mean a decrease in exercise, and an increase in baths, allergens, and other unpleasantness for your dog. The following tips should help make the transition into the new season enjoyable for both you and your dog.

Health Concerns

Pet lovers may forget about such things as allergens, keeping your dog warm, medical issues, etc., that are associated with the changing temperature. With two of the biggest food holidays coming up — Halloween and Thanksgiving — dogs are in particular danger of food poisoning, choking on bones, or just overeating. Dr. Kerri Marshal, Chief Veterinary Officer at Trupanion, (dog insurance company) has a few tips to make sure your dog’s health is looked after during the fall season.

Seasonal allergies can kick in for dogs in the fall. These are most commonly skin allergies, but can also be allergic rhinitis, evidenced by sneezing, loud snorting or snoring, and clear discharge from your dog’s nose. Your veterinarian can diagnose and prescribe antihistamines or other therapy to make your dog more comfortable.

As the weather gets cooler, think about putting a coat or sweater on your dog during walks. Make sure it is rain-proof in the wetter parts of the year.

If you use space heaters, be very careful that your dog cannot be burned by them, and does not have access to chew the cord.

Regarding Halloween candy, there’s one simple rule: No! This is especially true of chocolate, which contains ingredients, that are toxic to dogs.

If your arthritis gets worse with colder weather, keep your acetaminophen away from your dog, as it can cause liver damage. The same is true of ibuprofen, which is also highly toxic to dogs. Your dog’s arthritis may act up too.

Dogs may need slightly more calories in cold weather if they spend time outdoors. Ask your vet to evaluate your pet’s “body condition score” and recommend the proper pet food and amount for active outdoor pets.


With the shortened days, it’s very likely that you are going to be walking your dog in the dark, either morning or evening, or both. The best ways to keep you and your pet safe are reflective gear, flashlights, or light-up collars, which are designed for safely walking your dog at night. The collar are solar powered and USB chargeable, and most have two lighting options: a steady or flashing LED light.

Fall also means colder weather, rain, and even snow, which can really make it hard to get outside. In these conditions, you can exercise your dog indoors using a treadmill, or by setting up an indoor “agility” course using households objects, such as clothes baskets, broom handles and furniture. You can then train your dogs to run the obstacle course and work for a treat reward. You can easily alter the course to keep your dog’s mind active and thinking.

While on walks, beware of ice that can cut dog’s paws or make you fall, and “salt” that is put down to melt the ice. While common table salt is frequently used as a chemical deicer, other chemicals which are poisonous to dogs are sometimes used, including ammonia nitrate, propylene glycol, and sodium ferrocyanide.

Try to avoid chemically treated areas, if possible. If you can’t, make sure that your dog does not lick at the ground, using a muzzle if necessary to prevent this behavior. If you need to ice your own drive or walkways, look for pet safe salts, which most pet stores (all 3 Crate Escapes!) carry seasonally.

These simple tips should help keep your fall fun and fabulous.



“No” Is Not Enough Information

By Laura Brody,

Of all the cues we give our dogs, “no” is probably the most frequent and least productive. In human terms, imagine going to work in an office where your supervisor introduces you to your job in this manner:

“Here’s the office. I’m not going to tell you what your job is, but, every time you do something that not part of your job description, I’ll yell out, “NO!”.

How long would you be willing to work under those conditions?

“No” is simply not enough information, because it keeps the dog guessing about what is a legal behavior.

I like to call no a “place holder”. A “place holder” cue should be something we can use to interrupt a behavior…until we gather our wits and give the dog a cue that replaces the behavior with something better or at least something incompatible. Before your head starts spinning, let me give you an example:

You dog may jump for joy when you get home. An incompatible behavior cue would be “sit” because if he’s sitting he can’t be jumping. Now you can calmly and quietly scratch your dog under the chin (if they are capable of sitting still) or you can grab a toy and toss it from your body and say, “go get it”. Again, he can’t be jumping on you if he’s chasing a ball. If you do this everyday for a month, the dog might start sitting instead of jumping or arriving expectantly with his ball, backing up slowly as he positions himself for a flying catch! But, you have to establish the habit.

Let’s say your dog is barking at a squirrel in the yard. If you go out and say “no bark” (I still can’t understand how that term became so popular), the dog doesn’t understand that you mean for the next hour…or forever. So, they stop momentarily and you think you’ve got it all under control. Then the dog starts to bark again. He’s done every thing you’ve asked him to do, but now you’re mad. The incompatible behavior cue I use for barking is “come” (which you need to work on daily with any dog). When the dog gets to me I reward them and then…and here’s the big reveal, I take them inside the house and offer them something more productive to do, like a bully stick or a dog puzzle.

You have to remember that “no” isn’t enough information. The dog has to do something, so ask yourself, what is a reasonable behavior for each undesirable situation . You can’t say “no” and expect the dog to know what it is you actually want him to do.

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