Understanding Your Shy Dog

Many of us dog lovers have found ourselves at one time or another, sharing our homes and hearts with a shy dog…one who tends to be anxious or fearful…reactive and misunderstood… especially when encountering new people and situations. It is up to us to teach and reassure them that their world is friendly and safe.
 Here are some tips to get you started:
 1. Stay calm. Although you want to reassure your dog and protect him don’t inadvertently intensify his fears by acting in nervous or fearful in any situation.
 2. Learn his signs of stress. This could be as lip licking, raised hackles, locked stare, yawning, shaking, and turning away.  If you’re not sure what your dog’s signals are, have someone videotape him around the fear trigger. Play it back, in slow motion if possible, and watch for signals of nervousness.
 3. Never force your dog to confront his trigger. You will make things worse or lose your dog’s trust entirely.
 4. Never allow strangers to approach him too closely or touch him. Keep new people at a distance and never allow them to stand over your dog, stare at him, or attempt to pet him. This is extremely uncomfortable for shy dogs. It is also important that people not approach him directly but rather from the side with their eyes averted.
 5. Desensitize him through exposing him gradually to scary things. For instance, if your dog is afraid of people, choose a helper and have her stay at distance that is comfortable (or safe) for your dog. When he takes his eyes off your helper (or the trigger) and turns towards you, reward him. Move closer and repeat.
 6. Remember, you are his protector, should situations go sideways. Often people act foolishly and may try to greet your dog, despite your instructions. If this happens, step between him and the person and in a strong voice, tell the person to back up and turn sideways. Your dog will love you for it.

A FEW OF THE BEST THINGS FOR AGING PUPS

1) Slim is always best. Regardless how old your dog is, make sure he remain thin and healthy. Obesity in dogs, as with people, is terribly harmful to many diseases, including cancer. In addition, extra weight will put damaging strain on his joints and organs. Ensure your senior is eating a high quality food, preferable raw food, in a scaled back serving size that reflects his current level of activity.
 2)  Exercise. It’s very important the physical and mental health of our older dogs be maintained as they age into the latter part of their lives. Just because they may seem tired or lacking energy, they should still continue to get ample exercise a slower pace to loosen muscles and joints and stimulate their senses.
  3) Help support aging joints: Joint supplements can be a powerful aid to assist aging pups with stiff joints. These supplements reduce stiffness, promote ligament and tendon health, and help prevent cartilage wear and tear. They are also powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Look for ingredients with chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine and MSM. Older dogs can get often become unsteady and are at risk of falls on slippery surfaces. As such, place runners or area rugs on your hardwood floors for added traction. Also, if your pup has a weak back-end, consider a soft, padded belly sling with a handle to help your dogs walk when necessary.  
 4)  Teeth Care. Good dental health is very important for your dog’s overall wellness. Unchecked tartar build up can cause gingivitis, which can cause bacteria to circulate through your dog’s blood stream and harm his internal organs. It’s essential to keep up with the daily tooth brushing throughout his life.

Vacationing with Your Pet

Traveling with your pet can be a wonderful experience if you are well prepared and carefully plan ahead. Woofhoof brings you some great travel tips to help make that happen:
1. Think carefully about all of the items that your dog will and may need during your travel. Pack a bag and keep similar items together- it will make them easier to access when you need during your trip. Items you may need include:
•    Food and food bowl
•    Water, water bottle and bowl
•    Extra leash and collar
•    Toys for chewing and fetching
•    Medications
•    Protective clothing and booties for hiking
•    Dog-safe insect repellent and sunscreen
•    Blanket and dog towel
•    Brush and shampoo
•    Flea comb and tick remover
•    Poop bags
•    Treats
•    First Aid items
2. Make sure that all of your dog’s identification information is current and securely attached to his collar. Put your cell phone number on his tag as you will not be home to take the call if he becomes lost. 
3. Contact your vet to ensure your dog is up-to-date for vaccinations, and ask if additional vaccinations are required for the trip since your dog may encounter different threats, (like ticks that carry Lyme disease), at your destination or along the way.
4. Get a copy of your dog’s medical records and if he is on medication, bring extra meds in case your trip is delayed. Also, make sure that you program your phone with contact information, including the address, for a 24/7 emergency dog vet at your destination.
5. The safest way for dogs to travel in a car is in a safety-certified, crash-tested crate. It will also provide a comfortable, safe, and familiar place for your dog to sleep in at the hotel, motel, or other accommodation.
6. Many dogs suffer from car sickness, so it’s best to feed your dog a few hours before you get in the car. Before you head out, take a nice, long walk, so she’s ready to rest and relax for the trip.
7. If your trip exceeds two hours, plan to take a 15 to 30 minute break every 2 hours. 
8. Bring your dog’s favorite items from home such as a treasured stuffed animal, toy, or bone—any item really, that is familiar and comforting.If he is anxious, you can also try rubbing a little lavender oil between your hands for a little aromatherapy or a massage beginning at the base of her head and down his spine.
9. Don’t ever leave your dog in a parked car, especially when it’s warm out. Even with the window cracked open, the car can quickly turn into an oven, which will cause dehydration and eventually death. 
10. Do your research about accommodations.These days, many hotels welcome pets but most will have policies and fees - you want a hotel that will meet both you and your dog’s needs. Also, if you are attending an event that will take you away from him for a period of time, make arrangements for him with a friend or family but if this is not possible, get a recommendation for a local dog day care. 
11. Don’t leave your dog unattended at the hotel because chances are the unfamiliar environment will be very anxiety provoking for your dog. Most hotels also do not allow dogs to be left alone in hotel rooms.
12. Because you are away from home, there will be tons of new sights, smells, sounds, and potential food distractions for your dog. Make sure you’re vigilant wherever you go about what’s around, especially things your dog could ingest. 
13. Try and maintain your dog’s routine as much as possible. The more you remain consistent, the better. Once you reach your destination, feed and walk your dog on the same schedule you would at home. If you can, increase the walk time to help him get rid of the extra excitement and anxiety that comes from being away from home.
14. Most of all, HAVE FUN! 

Click to a Well Behaved & Happy Pup

Clicker training is a science-based way to communicate with your pet that has been used since the 1940’s, beginning with BF Skinner and operant conditioning, who discovered that using a clicker created the promptness and precision required to enhance cognitive connections for speedy learning. Following his lead, two of students, Marian and Keller Breland started and ran one of the most successful animal training businesses in the 40s and 50s using clicker training.
They started the first scientifically trained dolphin shows at Marine Studios (now Marineland) in Florida in 1955, and in their career trained many animal species, including pigs, and parrots, crows, albatross, lions, giraffes, and  elephants.  Clicker training uses a sound—a click—to mark good behavior and tell your dog when he does something right. It is a method that uses positive reinforcement such as a food treat, along with a clicker to precisely mark the behavior being reinforced. When training a new behavior, the clicker helps your dog quickly identify the precise behavior that results in the treat.
Many dog trainers believe that clicker training is the most humane and effective way to shape any new behavior in dogs as well as extinguish existing behavior problems.There are many resources available to begin clicker training with your dog and here are a few great ones: Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals by Karen Pryor; Click & Train Your Dog by Mary Ray; and Clicker Training for Obedience: Shaping Top Performance--positively by Morgan Spector. 
In order to begin your clicker training journey, you must first have the best tools: a clicker and a treat pouch to carry treats. We offer both items in one product! WOOFHOOF’s Click Draw is an exceptional product for those new to clicker training as well as the pros! It is a treat pouch with an integrated clicker so you are only using one hand to click and reward. 

Keeping your Dog Food Safe

Years ago, with my first pup, I knew next to nothing about selecting a truly high quality dog food. But as many devoted dog owners, I learned quickly. With a sensitive belly and prone to allergies, I immersed myself into finding the very best nutrition for my beloved dog. One thing I discovered was the importance of reading labels.
A good rule of thumb is the first three ingredients on the label should be an animal protein and the first five ingredients will give you a good sense of the overall quality of the food. Poor quality dog foods will usually list a meat ingredient first, but followed by several by-products and fillers. Because every ingredient matters, be sure to read all the way through the ingredient panel, as artificial preservatives or colors are usually at the end. Avoid pet foods that use chemical preservatives BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin. Vitamin E and Vitamin C are great preservatives that are much better for your dog. Choose Premium Brand dog foods instead of "Economy Brands".
The cheapest ingredients are rarely the healthiest ones. Choose Premium Brand dog foods instead of Economy Brand dog foods. For more great information, check out this great site:  http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com. It is a great tool as they have reviewed over 3000 dog foods. 
As with food, it is important to feed your pup healthy treats too. One of my favorites is to buy beef liver at the grocery, bake it, and cut it up in small cube sized pieces. There is nothing that my dogs are crazier about than liver! I separate only what I will use in a week, and put the rest in the freezer. If you are not into cooking your treats, buy ones that just have one ingredient. These will be freeze dried or frozen options; anything else may contain unhealthy fillers. Lastly, don’t forget a good treat pouch to stash your pup’s yummy treats in!