Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Trainer Tips--Lavender Oil & Dogs

Lavender Oil for your Dog:
Lavender is a naturally calming scent for both humans and dogs.  To use lavender for your dog, take some time to give your dog a massage and some good petting.  Put just a little dab of lavender oil on your hands.  Before massaging your dog and/or petting him in his favorite spots, allow him/her to smell the oil you have applied to your hand.  If the dog remains calm, proceed to using nice, calming, slow strokes.  Slowly massaging the outsides of the spine from the neck down is a proven approach.  Do this several times to really associate the smell of lavender to a relaxed state of mind for your dog.

The point of this exercise is to associate the smell of lavender with a nice calm, relaxed state of mind.

Be sure that you are purchasing oils free from contaminants.  Be sure to only use therapeutic-grade Lavender Oil from a reputable company and verify the quality of the oil before use.  (For Maui, I recommend purchasing your Lavender Oil from Down to Earth in Kahului.)

Do not use a lot of Lavender oil.  A tiny dab will do just fine.  You do not need a lot to get the smell, and we do not want to have dogs licking excessive amounts of oil off themselves.  Be sure to buy diluted oil or dilute it yourself.  Use oil on your dog in moderation and with caution.  Be sure to avoid the eye and mouth areas.  I also recommend that you do NOT use Lavender Oil on your dog every day.  Some dogs may develop a sensitivity to the oil if used too often.

Why use Lavender Oil?
Lavender Oil is naturally soothing to the central nervous system in both humans & animals.  Many humans with anxiety-related issues use lavender oil to help calm themselves in stressful situations.  This oil may be used in a similar way for your dog.

If your dog suffers from anxious or nervous behaviors or has separation anxiety, Lavender oil could help.  You want to start using the oil as directed above, and then continue to have the scent present in situations that are stressful to your dog.  

For example if your dog suffers from separation anxiety, start as directed above, then do the same ritual before leaving your dog for the day.  Remember to remain calm and relaxed (do NOT try and do this if you are rushing out the door).  Your mood must match what the lavender oil is trying to accomplish:  a calm state of mind.  

Another example:  if your dog is frightened of guests:  start again as directed above, then bring back the scent of lavender right before guests come over and have them follow the "No touch, No talk, No eye contact" policy to further help relax your dog.

Have a dog that is afraid of car rides?  Start as directed above and then apply a drop of diluted Lavender oil on your dog's collar before your next car trip.  Remember to remain calm yourself.

If you have a dog that is high-energy who easily gets over-excited, Lavender Oil can be used to help calm their behavior.  Start as directed above then re-apply the scent before events that may excite your dog.  For example if you dog becomes very over-excited when guests arrive, apply the oil a few minutes before they arrive.  (Also remember to remind your guest to follow the "No touch, No talk, No eye contact" policy until the dog fully calms down.)

Older Dogs/ Dogs with Physical Pain:
Lavender oil is also an excellent way to help dogs with joint and other types of physical pains.  Two of our dogs are getting into their "senior" years and starting to show signs of joint pain.  We use lavender oil while massaging the areas of the dog that are aching and in pain.  This helps both relieve their joint pain and relaxes them at the same time.  We are associating the smell with the relief of massage and relaxation.  Essential Oils have also been known to help reduce inflammation.  So next time you notice the dog is having a bad pain day, you can bring out the Lavender smell and it will help the dog both mentally and physically relax.

Allergies & Skin Conditions:
Lavender oil has also been known to help with dog allergies and skin conditions.  If you dog suffers from hot spots, try applying a few drops of diluted Lavender oil.  Start out small to be sure your pet does not have a bad reaction.  
If your dog suffers from allergies, try adding a Lavender oil diffuser near the pet's main area.

Lavender Oil is also a natural repellent for fleas, ticks, and other insects.  Add a few drops of Lavender Oil to your dog's shampoo and shake well.  Use as normal for bathing and your dog will have an added natural insect repellent, plus smell great!

More Information on Animals & Essential Oils:

Previous SGDs Blog Article "Trainer Tips--4th of July Safety."
Audio Clip & Article:  Dr. Karen Becker interviews Melissa Shelton, DVM.
"Essential Oils & Dogs" article by The Bark.
"Essential Oils for Pets" article by Dogs Naturally.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Breed of the Month--Least Obedient Breeds

For this month's Breed of the Month, we are going to give you a list of some of the least obedient dog breeds.

1.  Afghan Hound
Socialization at an early age is especially important to reduce the Afghan Hound's large prey drive.  Although very intelligent, the independent Afghan can be difficult to train.  For best training results, be sure to use positive-based training methods.  The Afghan Hound excels at many events including:  dog shows, agility, obedience, and lure coursing.
(See previous post:  Breed of the Month--Afghan Hound)

2.  Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is generally aloof with strangers but will typically bong strongly to one person.  It is said that the Chow will not obey his master, but would be ready and willing to die for him.  The Chow Chow is naturally protective and aloof and must be properly socialized from puppyhood.  The Chow Chow does not like to be pushed, and requires a trainer who is both firm and fair.  Using positive reinforcement training methods for this breed is a must.
(See previous post:  Breed of the Month--Chow Chow)

3.  Besenji

The Basenji was also bred and used to hunt over long distances, making this breed independent and aloof.  The Basenji does love to play and is full of energy.  Use this love of play in positively based-training to get the dog interested.
(See previous post:  Breed of the Month--Besenji)

4.  Bulldog  
This is an intelligent breed that is capable of learning many things.  The Bulldog makes an excellent watchdog and although he does have strong protective instinct, he is one of the most gentle breeds.  Extra patience is key when training a Bulldog.
(See previous post:  Breed of the Month--Bulldog)

5.  Bloodhound 
The Bloodhound is easily recognizable with its long drooping ears and facial wrinkles.  The  Bloodhound is kind and gentle and gets along with everyone. Bred to be a pack animal and persistent, the Bloodhound should be kept in an enclosed yard so his nose does not get him into trouble.  The Bloodhound was bred to be an independent thinker and requires extra incentive to do basic obedience tasks, however the breed will thrive if asked to track a trail.  The best way to train any breed is to work with their instincts.
(See previous post:  Breed of the Month--Bloodhound)

6.  Pekingese
The characteristics of the Pekingese are quite distinctive.  The breed has a shortened muzzle and a flat face.  The Pekingese eyes can be prone to injury, and he also has a flat and wide head and short neck.  Pekingese are compact and fearless but never aggressive. The sole purpose of the life of the Pekingese is to comfort his companion.  This breed is quite charming but can become jealous of other pets or children.  Bred to be a lap dog, many refer to the breed as "stubborn" when it comes to training, however basic manners are still important.  This breed should be well socialized from puppyhood. 
(See previous post:  Breed of the Month--Pekingese)
7.  Borzoi
The Borzoi has an independant nature, but is extremely affectionate and loyal.  This dignified dog is incredible calm and cat-like.  He enjoys a calm atmosphere and does not easily tolerate roughhousing.  When training a Borzoi, consistency and patience are key.  Bred to be independent and with a high prey and chase drive, basic manners training can sometimes be a challenge.  Positive reinforcement training with a calm disposition and lots of patience is a must.
(See previous post:  Breed of the Month--Borzoi)

8.  Beagle
Although friendly and a cute size, the Beagle is still a hunting dog.  He was bred to use his voice, as all Hound dog breeds do.  Beagles do not generally like being left alone either.  These are things one should consider if thinking of adding a dog of this breed to your home.  Using positive reinforcement training combined with treat-based rewards is important for training a Beagle.  The Beagle can be quite stubborn at times, but is highly food motivated.  Keep your Beagle engaged in training by using high-value rewards.  Once your Beagle learns a new skill, he will quickly be ready to move onto a more difficult task.
(See previous post:  Breed of the Month--Beagle)