Wednesday, October 23, 2019

When Your Dog Gets Carsick

I received an email from a client whose adolescent dog is still getting carsick, even on very short car rides.  She is starting to get quite concerned that the dog won't grow out of this behavior and she'll spend her life dreading car rides.  For my client, the amount of drool this dog can generate, plus the vomit, makes for a very unpleasant and stressful experience for everyone involved.

Car sickness is just one type of motion sickness.  While many puppies and young dogs suffer to some extent from car sickness, most will outgrow it by their first birthday when the area of their inner ear associated with balance is fully developed.  Some dogs, however, don't outgrow it until closer to their second birthday, and then there are some dogs, who like some people, just get sick every time they ride in the car. There are things you can do to try to ease their discomfort, but not every technique works for every dog/situation.

Start by having your dog only ride in the car with an empty stomach.  Only drive a short distance and build up to longer rides.  Don't use the A/C, instead roll down the windows.  Make sure your dog is facing forward, either in a crate or using a dog safety harness. Stop frequently and let your dog walk around; this helps them get their "sea legs," so to speak. If your dog begins drooling even before getting in the car because they are anticipating getting sick, try just getting into the car, rolling down the windows, etc. but not going anywhere.  Once they can sit in the car without anxiety, build up to turning the car on, and then going a short distance such as just around the block.

If you must take your carsick dog a long distance, being prepared will help.  Benadryl works for some dogs to make them drowsy and thus calmer, sleeping off their nausea. For other dogs, Benadryl won't work, but CBD oil or CBD treats will, so that's worth a try.  For example, when Ozzie was a puppy and got sick in the car, I discovered that giving him a couple ginger snaps cookies about 30 minutes before a car ride (the Nabisco ones you find at the grocery store!) was sufficient to control his nausea.

Finally, having to bathe your dog after every car ride is no fun.  You can try putting a bib on them to soak up the drool. There are even plastic bibs that come with a "spill pocket" on the front that can work to catch drool and vomit (Ozzie had one of those!).  Some people just put a t-shirt on their dogs to soak up the saliva.  There are carseat covers that are easy to clean and are actually made to cover the seats and protect them from kids that get carsick!

Because dogs that get carsick begin to associate car rides with feeling crappy, you will have to put in some time desensitizing your dog to the car in order to eventually make car rides less of a stressor.  For Ozzie, short car rides facing forward with walks built in, ginger snaps, a plastic bib, and time to outgrow his motion sickness, were what it took.  Now, he loves car rides and can go any distance without an issue.

As always, if you have questions about your pet's behavior, you know where to find me.

Ozzie loves a good car adventure now, but got very carsick as a puppy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Who You Gonna Call?!

Did I just make you start singing the "Ghostbusters" theme song?! And why am I even asking you this question?

Earlier this week, I spoke with a client that I have known for close to 15 years.  She and her partner and their pets have worked with me several times during the years I have had the pleasure of their acquaintance.  When something weird/bad/strange happens with their pets, they know who to call. They call me.  We laughed about how some folks might consult the internet (Doctor Google!), or rely on the information they saw on TV, but these folks go to "a trusted source" for their animal behavior questions.  And I so appreciate that they do!

Whether your question is about your own health and well-being, or that of your beloved pets, consulting the internet may not be the best strategy. Oftentimes the answers you find there may be too simplistic at best, and dangerous at worst.  Sometimes the answers you find will be misleading or seem counter-intuitive.  And sometimes the answers you get may seem utterly ridiculous!  I've often joked that I never want to google any of my aches or pains because I'm sure I'll discover that I have some exotic disease for which there is no known cure, rather than simply realizing that my current pain is probably the result of lifting two chunky collie dogs up and down off of the grooming table.

While I love the internet as much as the next person, and I definitely use it to locate resources for myself and my clients, I don't rely on it for diagnostics.  Knowing when you need assistance is the first step, finding out who can help you best is the next one.  And if you are in doubt about what your pet might need, ask your veterinarian first.  You always want to rule out medical causes for changes in behavior first anyway.  Once you've done that, however, you are ready to move forward and consult with an animal behavior specialist.  Plus, your vet can help you decide who it is that you might need. Do you need a veterinary behaviorist?  A certified animal behaviorist like myself? Or does your pet need a really competent dog trainer?  The internet can't help you make those fine-tuning decisions; it can, however, help you locate someone in your area once you know who you are really looking for to help your pet.

I love being a resource for my clients.  I've had clients move out of the area (and out of the country!) who said I would be one of the people they missed the most.  While I am flattered and pleased to be on that list of folks they will miss, I also remind them that a move out of the area doesn't mean we can't still consult, if needed. I happily provide email, phone, and video consults all around the world!  And if the problem is something that can't be addressed other than in person, I am happy to help my clients find the right resource wherever they are located.  Peace of mind from a trusted source and no need to dive too deep into the unknown on the internet!

As always, if you are having a problem with your pet's behavior, you know where to find me.  And now you know that we can "talk" in many different ways no matter where you are located!

My office assistant, Desi, and I are just a phone call or email away!
And he loves being available on the video consultations too!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Thoughts on Misbehavior

I spoke earlier this week with a woman who is very frustrated with her dog.  He pees AND poops in her house!  According to her, this happens all the time and may just be the end of her marriage as her husband has had it with the dog's misbehavior.  She thinks the dog is mad at her and this is how he shows his displeasure. She did take the dog to the vet's office for a check up; nothing medical going on and that's where she got my contact information.

Come to find out that this dog is new to this home; he's been there just two months, and this is his fourth home.  This new home environment is huge (more than 7000 square feet) and also has a toddler in residence.  During my phone conversation with the owner,we were interrupted by said toddler a half dozen times!  When I asked where the dog was while we were talking on the phone and her toddler was running in and out of the room, and the owner didn't know.  So, why am I telling you all of this?  Oh, yeah, misbehavior.

Misbehavior, by definition, means bad behavior.  Toileting is obviously in and of itself not bad behavior. Toileting in this house MIGHT BE, depending on the house.  If this dog had been taught in one of its previous homes to toilet inside on pee pads,for example, then the fact that he toilets now indoors isn't all that surprising, nor is it misbehavior. If we think about the large home space available now, add in the lack of supervision, and a toddler who by all accounts terrorizes the dog, then we have a recipe for disaster.  And a dog who toilets inappropriately.We need to address the underlying reason this dog is toileting in the house, not just talk about the behavior itself.

I suggested treating the dog as if he were a new puppy. By keeping the dog on leash, in his crate, or in an x-pen, she will know where the dog is and she can listen for cues that he has to use the bathroom. If she feeds him two meals a day rather than free-feeding him, she will have a better idea of when he needs to go to the bathroom. Keeping him on leash, in a crate, or in an x-pen also means that she will know when her toddler isn't treating the dog properly and that can be corrected. Obviously, we also discussed how to go about cleaning up all of those previous messes and what to tell her husband we are doing to take action on this issue.

The bottom line:  this example of "misbehavior," isn't really about misbehavior at all. The inappropriate toileting was just a symptom of a much bigger issue.  My hope is that this owner will do all of the things we discussed, even though she is a bit overwhelmed caring for a dog and a toddler.  I did tell her that this dog will need some retraining if he was indeed taught previously to toilet indoors.  We will cross that bridge the next time we talk.  In the meantime, I am crossing my fingers that this all works out. I'd hate to see this nice dog get moved to a fifth new home.

As always, if you have questions regarding your pet's behavior, you know where to find me.

Westley loves his crate and crating him certainly 
helped with his house training as a puppy.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Exciting News!

I had the opportunity this morning to be interviewed for a podcast called, "Play With Fire." While I have known Ashly McHatton, the host, for several years, being asked to share my story and my passion for animals with her audience is really exciting.  I've done all sorts of interviews over the years, but this was one I was really looking forward to doing.  As many of you know, I'm in the process of writing a book about my life as an animal behaviorist. I was thrilled to be able to talk about some of these stories and the path I took to get here. I'll let everyone know when my interview goes live, but for now I encourage you to check out the other interviews that are available to listen to on Apple podcasts and Spotify.  All of the interviewees have interesting stories; they will inspire you, make you think, and help you find what fires your passion professionally, personally, or both. Whether you are a creative type, an entrepreneur, an athlete, or none of the above, there is something in this podcast for everyone.

Here are the links: