dr. fluff at
Please welcome Kelli Danielsen to the Alameda Small Dog Team! She is the founder of Pride and Pedigree, a Dog Day Care and Training Facility in Oakland. She is joining Stephanie & Ms. Mims as Dr. Fluff Columnists. Read more about Kelli at the end of the December column.
SPRING WISDOM 2008
Dear Dr. Fluff,
I have recently adopted a Chihuahau mix from the Oakland SPCA. His name is Chico. I could not wait to bring him to the dog park in Alameda as I have been a long time admirer of that area.
The first time I took him to the park, he was quite shy and hid behind me most of the time. He played a little bit but was quickly overwhelmed. Two weeks later we returned to the park. This time he seemed to have no problem acclimating and it appeared he was having a great time playing with the other dogs. However...in the two weeks between visits...he started becoming very weary of strangers and would act aggressively from time to time. I thought that maybe more frequent visits to the park might help to socialize him towards dogs AND people...but during our second visit to the park Chico began being aggresive towards nearly any "person" that came close to him. If given the opportunity he would even nip at their ankles and pant leg if they turned their back on him. I immediately removed him from the situtation.
He is obviously going to require much more training and we are trying... however.. I would desperately like to continue to socialize him. I am considering bringing him to the park with muzzle. I have read and heard differing opinions on this issue so I thought I should ask for your opinion before bringing him to the park. I do not want to offend the patrons of the Alameda Small Dog Park, and I know that you can not speak for everyone... but... generally speaking... do you think that bringing a muzzled Chico to the park would be improper?
Thank You for your time and advice.
Congratulations and thank you for rescuing Chico! Chico is doing a very good job communicating to you what his needs are, and you have actually chosen words on your own that nail the issue right on the head:
Dear Dr. Fluff,
We have two cockapoos - one about 20 pounds and one about 15 pounds. They both just turned one year old. We take them to the small dog park and one is having a great time and loves to chase tennis balls (the 20 lb one). The smaller one sniffs around a lot, sometimes chases a ball, sniffs every new dog that comes around, loves to chase and be chased, and is very friendly with humans. When another small dog who is very energetic either sniffs him or meets him face on, he will growl and snap. It appears to be a warning and that's the end of it. We usually intervene, put him on his back, and do a time out so he can't play for a few minutes. I don't think he's an agressive dog and doesn't initiate the contact that leads to this behavior. Is this aggressive behavior? If so, how do we handle it?
Thank you for such a great question! I am glad to hear that two of your little pooches enjoy getting out and enjoying the lovely spring weather! I am glad you asked this because I think your smaller pup is trying to tell you something. You did not mention if these two are littermates, but, dogs are a lot like people in their social preferences; some are social butterflies, others prefer to ponder nature and think about the latest kibble in a bit more solitude. This is what I think your smaller cock-a-poo is saying, that he or she is not as social as your bigger dog, and needs more space. This is not a bad thing! Humans tend to want to ensure their dogs have a glorious time with lots of doggy friends, but, just as some folks prefer the library or a solitary hike to a cocktail party or Metallica concert, so do some dogs.
Best of luck to you!
OCTOBER WISDOM 2007
Dear Dr. Fluff,
Dear New Owner,
Congratulations on your new addition! I can understand your concern at Pepe's lack of interest in his diet.
First, did you have your new little guy checked out by your veterinarian? This is something you should have done right away if you have not done so already. Changes in things appetite should always be reviewed by a vet to be sure nothing is amiss.
Second, have you confirmed with Pepe's previous owner what he has been used to eating, or if this is a "normal" behavior for him? Once you have those two things confirmed, then I would look at what you are feeding him. Small dogs can have a reputation for being fussy eaters, however this does not have to be the case. You want to find a good quality food with minimal to no grains, no by-products and as close to a dogs natural diet as possible.
My first recommedation would be trying a raw meat diet. It is the closest to a species specific diet, and there is very minimal processing involved. Some great brands are Primal, Farmore or Natural Balance. Bear in mind this is still controversial in some circles, so some vets are not supportive, which is okay, but you may want to research it. You just need to be mindful of hygiene procedures.
If raw is not your thing, then a high quality canned would also be a good idea. Brands like Innova or Innova Evo, California Natural or Natural Balance would be great. The kibble options I like best is a brand called Origen, which can be hard to locate, but you can find it (as well as the other foods mentioned) at the Village Dog in Albany. Another good option is Innova and Evo dry, or Canidae, which also has a canned formula.
Best of luck to you!
My chihuahua tends to bark at every little noise he hears outside. He runs to the doors or windows and barks ferociously. Even if i am right there telling him to be quiet he continues barking. If i pick him up, he just keeps on...what can i do to discourage him from doing this? He starts, and then my other two dogs who are generally quiet, join him and it can be a real problem. My other two will stop barking when i ask them to. What concerns me is that my chihuahua ignores me!
Hiring a professional dog trainer is not an option for us right now, so please give us some advice and tips on how i can work on this issue at home on our own.
Well, sure sounds like your little guy is a perfectionist at alerting you to possible threats! The key to managing this behavior is interrupting the barking and then taking the opportunity to reward for quiet.
I hope this helps, and, take comfort in the fact that your Chihuahua is acting like a normal dog, especially one of the little guys!
Best of Woof!
Please, could you explain to me why my pet Yorkshire Terrier barks at all dogs while taking his walk? He is so aggressive towards other dogs. Please give me some good advice. I just enrolled him into pet school.
This is a great question and actually quite common. Often, dogs will be more “aggressive” when they are on leash or behind a barrier. The reasons for this can vary, but it can be anything from frustration to fear. Enrolling him into school is a great plan, just be sure the instructor is experienced in positive reinforcement techniques and you should inform him or her of this issue prior to attending the class.
Taking your pooch to an area where there are so many other dogs to trigger this behavior will not be helpful for either of you. The way I would want my Mom to start to manage this behavior is with a good counter conditioning program, possibly even with a clicker. You definitely need the assistance of a good trainer here, and private lessons would be ideal before the class experience.
Some good resources are:
Occasionally at the small dog park, there is a dog that seems to play rough and upsets the other dogs - or - even starts a fight with another dog to the point that the owners have to go and pull the dogs away from each other. It is really a drag when the owner of the aggressive dog doesn't have a good attitude and denies that his/her dog is the problem.
What advice do you have as a dog professional to deal with situations like this? I should not have to leave the park because there is an aggressive dog there...shouldn't the problem dog leave?
Thanks, Worried at the Small Dog Park
This is a sticky one, isn’t it!! I understand your concerns and yes, they are valid. In this situation, you don’t want to have an altercation with someone if they seem to be “in denial” about their dog’s behavior.
We dogs are such social creatures, what a great question to ask to help us all avoid a doggie “faux paw”.
First, you want to determine if the dog your schnauzer is potentially meeting is friendly. It is not necessary for us to meet and even like all dogs we see! It is perfectly acceptable to “pass” on any introduction where the other dog is a little too intense. That said, greetings should ideally be from a side angle - meeting head on with an intense stare or rushing up is considered a bit rude. Often puppies will do this simply because they don’t know any better, but it is less tolerated in adult dogs. Also, when meeting another dog who is on a leash, be sure your leash is relaxed with plenty of slack, and that you are relaxed too - tension travels right down the leash, and if you are anxious about your dog meeting another dog, your schnauzer will feel it and will begin to think meeting new dogs is a cause for concern.
To sum it all up, trust your instincts and keep in mind not all dog have to meet one another. That will ensure nice relaxing walks for both of you! Thanks for the great question and happy walking!!
Dear Dr. Fluff,
Just wanted to know your thoughts about this.
Thank you for thinking of the safety of dogs at the dog park. Stuffed Toys can present a number of hazards, especially in a social situation, just as you describe. Stuffed toys are very fun and can become very valuable to some dogs. This can create possessive tendencies in some dogs who aren't so good at sharing. And, this of course can lead to “scuffles”.
The stuffed toys also can get torn apart, which can present health hazards, as you mention, so, I must agree with you that stuffies may be best kept at home. I think that by asking other doggie “parents” how best to remedy this, you may find a lot of folks in agreement with you, and coming to the final decision as a group can help in keeping the park as safe as possible.
You can also refer them to this column, which may help too.
Kelli Danielsen: is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (C.P.D.T.), and has completed the Marin Humane Society's CITA/CBA program under the instruction of well-known Dog Behaviorist, Trish King. Kelli has attended numerous educational seminars in dog behavior and training and continues to educate herself in dog theory, and consults clients regarding dog training and behavior issues. Kelli is also certified in Reiki, an alternative healing modality and has earned a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art from CSU Sacramento.
Kelli has over 20 years of experience in animal care, dog training, and personnel management. Most recently, she worked with Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. in the Training department, Breeding department, and as Program Manager for the Puppy Socialization and Foster Care programs.
Prior to being employed by Guide Dogs, Kelli was a veterinary technician for over 10 years and has a passion for holistic and natural health for dogs. She handles Boston terriers for AKC Conformation competitions, as well as training her own dogs in obedience. Kelli is also a member of the Sierra Gold Boston Terrier Club as well as being on the SGBTC's Health Commitee. Kelli has also been a volunteer for Smiley Dog Rescue for over 5 years. She is currently owned by "Darby" a Boston terrier and "Bella", a French Bulldog.
Please visit her website for more information about her new daycare and training facility! www.prideandpedigree.com.
FLEAS! FLEAS! FLEAS! FLEAS! FLEAS! FLEAS! FLEAS! FLEAS!
Dear Dr. Fluff,
Fleas! What a blight upon dogs! You have brought up a great subject, one that many dogs are interested in. Fleas are a big problem in our warm climate, because they live year round. In colder climates, fleas aren't that much of a problem, so my usual consultant, Ms. Mims, who works in Truckee, wasn't able to help. You might want to check out this website it has an holistic approach
I consulted with my own veterinarian, who told me that he thinks it is a BAD idea to put diatomaceous earth on your fur. It can cause respiratory problems. Like many vets, he is a big believer in Advantage and all the other medicines that help with flea control by messing with (technical term) the flea life cycle. I have put a bunch of excellent links here to explain the reasons that these medications are a boon for dogs and cats and their owners.
I can speak
about fleas from my own experience. Being a bichon, I have very sensitive
skin, and recently
was bothered greatly by hot spots. A hot spot
is an itchy spot on my skin, that I have licked and bitten until it bled. My
veterinarian made me go to a recovery program to get over my addiction to biting
and licking my itchy spots, which I know now was a BAD habit. I really couldn't
have done it without my owner, who is now vigilant about putting a huge, ugly
cone on me whenever I am tempted to lick again. However, we also had to get
to the bottom of the question, why was my skin itching? Some thought it was
too much wheat in my diet, others thought it might be fleas. Since I live with
two smarmy, lowlife, flea bitten cats, I thought that was probably the problem.
So we did EVERYTHING to make some “life style” changes.
1) Change my diet to one with much less wheat.
Now, one of the problems for me, because I have such sensitive skin, is that if I get even one little flea bite, it can drive me mad! And all the stuff my owner and I are doing can’t really eliminate all the fleas from my world. I can pick up a flea taking a walk, or even at the dog park. That is one reason for the brewer’s yeast. Some people think it helps repel fleas, and though it hasn't really been proven, I still think it is worth trying.
Please write in your own experiences for controlling fleas. We will print some next month! It will be our own online flea support group!
This first link talks about the life cycle of the flea, and explains why the
new medications are so effective.
This link talks about herbal alternative flea control.
This link talks about itching and allergic skin in dogs.
This link compares different flea products for pets.
Hello Dr. Fluff:
Sometimes my mom would like to do a little nursing at home, without having to run us to the Vet for every little thing. Is this ok? How can she better prepare herself for this...I mean we love her, but we want to have the right treatment, ya know? How can we help her educate herself in this regard? Please steer her in the right direction!
Many thanks and we love your column!
Dear Frankie and Zeke,
This is a great website with lots of dog (and cat!) information and some good articles about when to take your dog to the veterinary hospital or clinic:
Here is a one of the articles:
Ms. Mims, my favorite veterinary technician, who works up in Truckee, suggests checking out the Red Cross website::
They actually have dog mannequins now for practicing CPR. If it doesn't work, just google pet first aid and the first option should be the Red Cross. (it's about their classes on pet first aid, how to make a kit, etc.)
There are alot of commercially available Pet First Aid kits now on the market but you could basically use anything in a human first aid kit except for medications. Although some vets might give human medications in very small doses one time depending on the case, to be on the safe side you should never give your dog Advil, Tylenol, etc. Cats can't tolerate any of those including aspirin. (Dogs can often take buffered aspirin safely but the same rules apply that you would apply for humans--take with food, watch for stomach ulcers with long term use, it can prolong bleeding time so don't give before surgery, etc.)
first of all, leave your butt alone! licking will not help the situation, and will only cause your humans to put one of those humiliating plastic cones around your neck, and believe me, that is NO FUN! i called upon my favorite vet tech, ms. mims, and she forwarded the following link and information.
there is a lot of other information there, for your humans, about all kinds of medical stuff. This information is from a brochure on their website about disaster planning for dogs and cats:
DISASTER KIT. Maintain a disaster preparedness supply kit for each of your pets.
PAPERWORK AND RECORDS. Store important animal documents in a zip-lock or waterproof plastic bag. These should include vaccination and medical records.
VACCINATIONS. Your pets need to be current on vaccinations. You will be required to show proof of vaccination if you need to board your pet.
TRANSPORTATION. Each animal should have their own pet carrier. Familiarize your pet with the carrier or cage before an emergency.
LEASHES AND COLLARS. Keep a leash handy for each dog and cat in your home. Consider using a harness.
BUDDY SYSTEM. In case you are not home when disaster strikes, ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals. Exchange veterinary information and file a permission slip with your veterinarian authorizing them to get emergency treatment for your pet if you can't be located.
Disaster Preparedness Kit
- Your veterinarian's information
- Portable radio and extra batteries
- Pet carrier or cage for each pet
- Two weeks' supply of food and water
- Non-spill food and water bowls
- Medications and dosing instructions
- Pet first-aid kit
- Vaccination and medical records
- Cat litter box and litter
- Plastic bags for waste disposal
- Paper towels
- A current photograph of each pet
Be sure to provide your pets with as many amenities as possible. Remember, they are counting on you for their support and survival!
Listen to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on the TV or radio.
If you take your pet:
Evacuate your pet early, if possible.
Take your disaster preparedness kit, including the pet's vaccination and medical records, as well as identification photographs with you.
If you can't take your pet with you:
Visit each shelter in your area at least once every other day.
The California Veterinary Medical Foundation generously provided the funding
for this brochure. The main goal of CVMF is to help California's animals affected
by disasters. If you would like to assist California's animals, please make
a donation to CVMF.
dear dr. fluff,
i think greenies are quite delicious, and i encourage my mom to give them to me, too. i know for sure that they help my breath, because she always lets me lick her face after i've chewed one, and that is my favorite thing to do. i also hate the brushing, but fortunately my mom doesn't always get around to it - she just bought a new kit a few weeks ago, and forgot about it. i wont be reminding her! i did see some alarming pictures of funky dog teeth, showing us what could happen if we don't take care of our teeth though - here is the link:
this link also has information about funky dog teeth and the problems caused by not brushing. they have products to help keep teeth clean. i am also including the link to greenies - they have some info that shows they help dental health for dogs. you can bet i am showing that link to mom....
dear dr. fluff,
i'm kind of a size queen myself, so i understand. like
everything else in this complicated world of the canine, it depends
on the dog. some little dogs are comfortable with big dogs and some
react like prey species (running and shrieking) or they think they are
mastiffs and go on the attack. either behavior can invite trouble from
a big dog with no bite inhibition. i do have to say that i've met great
dogs at the alameda small dog park, and at this time
feel no need to stray.
hear ya. i'm a couch potato myself. i think the important thing
for our humans to understand it that if we are happy and satisfied
after a visit to our favorite place, by which of course i mean the alameda
small dog park, then it doesn't really matter what we do
Do you need some small dog advice?