Sabal Chase Animal Clinic

Sabal Chase Animal Clinic
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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dishing with the Doggie Diva Part 2- Canine Boredom

 For the next few weeks, our blog will be written by Dee Hoult, owner/operator, and head trainer at Applause Your Paws. Dee is a certified professional dog trainer and more importantly, she is one of Zohan's favorite people in the whole world! We hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we have!

Canine Boredom

Boredom in dogs is a very common behavior problem. You, as a dog owner in Miami Florida, cannot devote 24 hours a day to just your dog, you have things to do! In this post, I will go over some of the most common behavior problems related to boredom as well as how to handle each problem behavior.
Dog’s require a lot of interaction, whether it be from a human, another animal, or even a toy. When a dog is bored, it will create activities for itself which usually are annoying behaviors to us. Say for instance you are very tired from a long day at work so you want to relax and maybe lie down or watch TV. Your dog who has been away from you all day is likely looking for attention from you but because of your extreme exhaustion you just ignore the dog, so your dog will start looking around trying to entertain itself. Your dog might try to get on the couch, and you find yourself reprimanding or have even saying no to the dog — yet the dog still does it. WHY? Well the answer is simple; even the negative interaction you gave your dog is the attention he wanted in the first place. Even your physically shooing him off the couch is every bit of social interaction that the dog wanted from you in the first place. Another example and this seems to be the “all too common” one, is when a dog greets someone excitedly at the door. Why do you think that your dog jumps at you all the time when you enter the house despite your continuous shooing it off, or telling the dog no, or giving it a quick little nudge? Well, it’s because you are giving your dog exactly what it wants again —INTERACTION.
We see this all too frequently where a dog will jump and bark and go crazy when someone comes through the door. The most common excuse we get from dog owners is “ Oh, well he’s excited to see me”. Although that may be true in some instances, there could be multiple reasons as to why your loved one is jumping you at the door. Your dog was excited because there was nothing else to do for the amount of hours you were gone, and now all the dogs’ energy is now focused on you, which can be overwhelming for any dog owner. Luckily there are solutions to these sorts of behaviors as well as fixing the boredom issue for your loved one.
Give your dog something to do while you’re gone. Try this, grab yourself a KONG TOY (the one that looks like a little snowman) and stuff it with non flavored, fat free yogurt as well as put some of your dogs food in there. Put it in the freezer, and let it freeze for 24 hours. Now when you leave to work, make sure to give your dog the Kong toy and your dog will now have something to do. Now, when you come back from work, and your dog is jumping on you, try standing still, no eye contact until your dog is calm, once your dog is calm, then give your dog all the attention in the world.
Simple solutions can be found, you just have to have patience and consistency to tackle through these behavioral issues. Even in such a diverse place like Miami, canine culture is still misunderstood. The goal for any dog owner is to be on the same page as your beloved friend. This is where we come in. Need help with your dog or puppy? Does your dog have a behavioral problem? Do you want your dog to be more obedient? Call us your expert Certified Professional Dog Trainers at APPLAUSE YOUR PAWS, 786-529-7833. and remember, you don’t have to be ruff, to teach your dog stuff.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dishing with the Doggie Diva Part 1- Fence Fighting

For the next few weeks, our blog will be written by Dee Hoult, owner/operator, and head trainer at Applause Your Paws. Dee is a certified professional dog trainer and more importantly, she is one of Zohan's favorite people in the whole world! We hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we have!

Fence Fighting

You’re sitting peacefully on your back patio enjoying the summer breeze, your dog is lounging quietly at your feet. You’re listening to the sound of birds chirping and the palm trees are swaying. You take a sip of your freshly squeezed lemonade, kick up your feet onto your extra patio chair and are just staring to think to yourself “this moment couldn’t be any more peaceful,” when your neighbor lets their dog outside. Your picture perfect moment is gone as your dog charges off your patio at top speed, barking the entire length of your back yard until he hits the fence line. Literally, he hits the fence line. Your dog and the neighbors dog begin fighting through the fence, running up and down, back and forward, tearing up the earth beneath them (well, what’s left of it anyway from all the previous times this has happened) as they bark, lunge, salivate, growl, chasing each other along the perimeter of your yard. You scream “HEY!!!!!”

This is your life with your dog. What you may not realize, however, is that your dog’s fence fighting behavior has a much more detrimental affect to your dogs emotional health than yours.  Although many times we perceive that this is a “fun” behavior that our dogs enjoy, it is quite the contrary. Routine fence fighting quickly becomes a compulsive type of behavior in dogs, which is far from healthy. In fact, fence fighting often leads to dogs becoming aggressive with other animals and/or people. Every time your dog rehearses the lunging, growling, air snapping and barking he is practicing and being reinforced for inappropriate behavior. Can you really blame him for the times when he’s gotten snappy or assertive with an otherwise friendly dog you’ve met while out on a walk? Your dog being leashed becomes another barrier – another fence – meaning that your dog is likely to display the same behaviors on leash as he does with the dog on the other side of a fence line. Fence fighting isn’t just annoying, and it’s certainly not innocent. It is detrimental to having a well socialized, friendly, and neurochemically balanced dog. Neurochemically balanced? Yes. You read it correctly.

What you may not realize about dogs is that when they get aroused, like during a fence fighting episode, it can take days for their neurochemistry to return to normal. Imagine if your dog fence fights everyday, or multiple times a day! Your dog could be living in a constant state of stress – distress! If you want to learn about how stress really affects dogs you can click here to read an awesome article by my good friends at Green Acres Kennels in Bangor, MA.
To recap, here are three reasons why you shouldn’t allow your dog to participate in fence fighting:

1. Your dog is rehearsing aggressive interactions with other dogs and/or people
2. Your dog is likely being reinforced for unwanted behavior
3. It’s just not healthy!

So what can be done? I have a few ideas for you. You can:

Install a visual barrier
This is by far the easiest and quickest way to eliminate or significantly decrease fence fighting. Out of sight, out of mind. If erecting a 6ft wooden fence isn’t in your budget I recommend installing green privacy mesh over your chain link fence.

Always supervise your dog while he’s in the yard
If you leave your dog outside unsupervised then there is no one to teach him that fence fighting is not a desired behavior. You should always supervise your dog’s activity when he’s in your yard. Take some tasty chicken or another high value treat your dog loves outside with you so that the next time your neighbor’s dog comes outside you can reward your dog for staying close to you instead of charging the fence.

Use a long line and a harness
In addition to supervising your dog in the yard I strongly recommend that you get a comfortable fitting harness for your dog to wear when he’s in your backyard. By attaching a 25 foot training line to the harness you can quickly step on the line should your dog decide to tear off towards the fence line. You can literally put your foot down on unwanted behavior! Remember you should never attach a 25 foot line to a dog’s neck collar as a running dog hitting the end of a 25 foot line could potentially injure your dog. Always use a body harness for this strategy. It’s important that if your dog does decide to charge the fence you can quickly interrupt the behavior and prevent the rehearsal of your dog’s aggressive display.

Provide some cognitive and environmental enrichment in the yard
It’s worth every penny you’ll spend in buying some easy to solve dog food puzzles that can be provided to your dog when he’s out in the yard. Puzzles filled with dog treats will keep your dog busy and focused on more productive activities than fence fighting. If your dog likes to dig, you can even build him a sandbox to encourage alternative natural and fun behaviors your dog likes to do. Anything to keep him happy so he doesn’t feel bored or tempted to fence fight.

Hire a professional dog trainer to help you learn how to properly counter condition and desensitize your dog away from fence fighting
If you find that you need a little extra help, you can find certified dog trainers through the Association of Professional Dog Trainers ( It’s important you work with a trainer that is using positive dog training methods to modify your dog’s behavior. You dog isn’t dominant, he just doesn’t know better. It’s your job to teach him what’s better!

Happy training!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Sick Cat- Part 5

This week marks our final installment on the subtle signs of illness in cats.  Let’s look at one final behavior that can indicate health problems in our cats.

Changes in Litterbox Habits

This one is far from subtle, yet it is often dismissed as a behavioral eccentricity.  Cats who urinate or defecate outside of the litterbox may be doing so because they are ill.  Blood in the urine or feces warrants immediate medical attention.  Cats who cry when picked up, vocalize in the litterbox, or strain to urinate, must be seen by a veterinarian right away.  If your cat is attempting to urinate, but is unable to pass any urine, his urethra may be blocked.  This usually occurs in males and is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate medical attention.

The dignified, stoic nature of cats can work against them -  as well as the pet parents who love them.  It is not unusual for veterinarians to see loved, well cared-for cats who have been quietly suffering for weeks.  By watching for these covert clinical signs, we can better understand our feline friends when they need our help the most.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Sick Cat- Part 4

This month, our topic is behavior in our cats that may reveal underlying illness.  Let’s continue to look at some strange cat behaviors that may be a sign of trouble for our feline friends.

Changes in Vocalization

Shy cats who begin to vocalize, or cats that howl in the night may be doing so as a result of an underlying medical problem.  Feline cognitive dysfunction, thyroid disease, heart problems, or high blood pressure are just a few of the possible explanations.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Pet of the Month!

Our Pet of the Month for April is Ace!

Ace is roughly 10 years old and was found abandoned in a lumber yard. His new family decided to give this senior dog a second chance. Little by little, Ace has been getting all of the care that pets of his vintage deserve. Congratulations to his new family for taking in a loving soul who will forever be grateful. And congratulations Ace! Tell all your friends-you're our pet of the month!