Illustrated Articles

Dogs + Behavior

  • Is there any truth to the old adage, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks?" Even though young pups may be more actively curious, dogs never stop learning. In fact, adult dogs are often easier to train than their younger canine friends specifically because they are not as active. Older dogs are not as easily distracted as pups and can focus for longer periods of time. This ability to concentrate helps them learn new routines more easily.

  • Dogs are indeed smart and we see examples of this through both scientific research and everyday real life situations. They can learn by watching, cooperating with another dog or person, or just by being in their environment over time.

  • Dog communication uses most of the senses, including smells, sounds and visual cues. Pheromones, glandular secretions, barks, whines, yips, growls, body postures, etc., all serve as effective means of communication between dogs. Unlike in people, canine body postures and olfactory (scent) cues are significant components of dog language and vocal communications are less significant. People are listeners; dogs are watchers.

  • The birth of a baby or the adoption of a new child is associated with a great deal of anxiety, excitement, and stress for not only the family, but also the family pet. Some dogs and cats can have a difficult time adjusting to these changes, especially if this is your first child, but preparation and planning will help.

  • Getting a new puppy is an exciting time and there is no perfect science to picking the perfect puppy. Have a brief look over them physically with their littermates as well as seeing how they interact together and with you. Be sure to take your puppy to a veterinarian as soon as possible to check for any health problems. 

  • Clonidine is a medication that is used to treat behavioral disorders in dogs, particularly anxiety or phobia-related. Give as directed. Side effects are generally mild if present and include sedation, lethargy, agitation/excitation, aggression, and constipation. Monitoring blood pressure as well as heart rate and rhythm is recommended with chronic use. If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately.

  • There are many types of collars and harnesses that are used for restraining or training dogs, ranging from simple strap collars to head halters; in the case of collars and harnesses, one size (or type) does not fit all. Functionality, comfort and safety should be the prime considerations in any choice. It is important to recognize that different designs have different purposes and control the dog in different ways.

  • In dogs, compulsive behaviors include acral lick dermatitis, flank sucking, pacing, circling, incessant or rhythmic barking, fly snapping or chasing unseen objects, freezing and staring, polydipsia (excessive drinking), sucking, licking, or chewing on objects (or owners), tonguing or licking the air and other forms of self mutilation.

  • Dogs tend to pull ahead and lunge forward for a number of reasons. The primary reasons for most dogs are that they are exploratory, playful, and social. They are motivated to investigate new areas, new odors, new people and new dogs, Loose leash walking is a complex skill and it requires patience, planning, and persistence.  

  • Dexmedetomidine is a sedative/tranquilizer used primarily in cats and dogs as a pre-medication injection for anesthesia or for chemical restraint. It is also used orally in dogs for short-term anxiety management. The most common side effect is a low heart rate. Dexmedetomidine should not be used in patients with severe heart liver or kidney disease. It should be used cautiously in young, old, or weak animals. Consult your veterinary office immediately if you suspect a negative reaction or overdose.