Stressed or Anxious dogs?

Stress is a biological response to external stimuli. Stress is the body answering the question – should I fight, flee, freeze, or fawn when in the presence of a real or perceived threat?
Puppy Porthos’ first day in his new home – very scared.
He didn’t know how much he was going to be loved 🥰
Things that stress our dogs can include:
  • Separation/being alone.
  • Sounds – like thunder, fireworks, or one of my dogs was terrified of the sound fire alarms make when the batter is low.
  • Strangers – in the home, approaching the home, or out on walks.
  • Other dogs – your dog can be afraid of other dogs idiopathically or because of some incident(s) involving other dogs.
  • Anything new or things moved to a different location.
  • Cars – this could be idiopathic or because of an incident. This could also be about the sound and/or the movement of the vehicles.
  • Unusual surfaces – those of you who live in a city know how often our dogs scurry around sidewalk grates to avoid walking on them. I’ve had clients whose dogs would not walk on tile or linoleum.
  • Being kenneled for the family’s vacation or in a shelter environment, or rehoming
  • There are many more.
It’s important to remember each dog has their own idiosyncratic stressors. You will want to learn your dog’s stressors so you can help them when afraid or anxious.
A dog’s response to stress can be any or many of the following:
  • Whining
  • Heavy panting
  • drooling
  • Inability to follow simple directions.
  • Sudden dander (usually only visible on dark short-coated dogs)
  • Hiding or freezing in place
  • Running away or towards (remember flight or fight)
  • Growling, barking, baring teeth
    • Stress facial signals like tight commissures, whale eye, tension below the eyes, and more
    • Flat or overly perked ears
  • Tail wrapped low or the opposite, straight up high.
  • Stomach upset including diarrhea.
  • More…

This list is not complete. And you can see from this list that many of these signals can mean a number of things besides stress. How do you know which is which?

You need to know your dog by observing and registering their typical behaviors when happy, worried, or downright scared and note the differences.
What can you do?
  • Hire a certified behavior specialist. The AKC has an article outlining the different type of behavior specialists.
    • I am a CDBC (Certified Dog Behavior Consultant)
  • This behavior specialist will help you begin desensitizing/counterconditioning (Ds/Cc) your dog, implement management strategies to help your dog avoid triggers before they are ready to face them, and work on other training skills that will help your dog overcome their fears.
  • Supplements – sometimes our dogs need help to simply be around their triggers. A dog who is riddle with fear cannot learn so sometimes we need to help them internally. There are some helpful supplements that are proven effective and easy to find.
    • L-theanine and L-tryptophan are both amino acids that are very safe.
    • I advise my clients to use these two links above, so they are giving their dog nothing other than the amino acids indicated. Compounded anti-anxiety products will have a number of other components many of which can cause issues, and with compounded products we won’t know which element is doing what.Here is a great Overview of Behaviour Supplements for Dogs and Cats. Remember to check with your vet before starting any supplements.
    • If Ds/Cc is stalling or not working and the supplements are not helping your dog work through their stress and fears, it is time to consult a veterinary behavior specialist.
There is a lot you can do to help your dog process stress in their environment to give them a happier and safer life.
Pax’e in her happiest place –
four flights up on her balcony watching the firetrucks go by.
To each their own…

Spring Dog Training

Three Dogs Training class enrollment.

Pax’e is using the dictionary to learn more words for
treat, food, goodie, pizza crust, and others…
Spring session starts Saturday March 4th 2023.
  • Basic – 9:00 am – 3 available spaces
  • Distract O Doggie – 10:10 am
  • Intermediate – 11:20 am – 1 available space
Pax’e learned the word for donut
But forgot to specify what kind of donut…

For more information:

click here or contact

Bad Xylitol, Bad…

Did I mention Xylitol is bad???

It can be in candy, gum (a lot of gum), chewable vitamins, supplements, peanut butter, substitutes for sugar, and even sold in a container that looks like honey as a honey substitute.

So many products like this one below have xylitol listed only in the fine print.
In this label, xylitol is very high on the list…

Read every one of the ingredients in the products you have around the house AND especially items you will be giving you dog.

Remember ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. In other words – biggest first. Xylitol is very high on the list for this product.

Others have done a great job of outlining the toxicity of xylitol in dogs. Here are some excepts from the veterinarian professionals:

Preventive Vet’s article “My Dog Ate Xylitol,” includes some of these warnings:

Dogs rapidly and almost completely absorb xylitol.

Ingestion of greater than 0.1g/kg can result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)…greater than 0.5 g/kg may result in acute liver failure.

Xylitol can cause low blood sugar within thirty minutes after ingestion… but may not show initial symptoms for twelve hours…

Preventive Vet, Dr. Beth Turner

Twelve hours is a long time to wait for symptoms to appear for a poison that acts this quickly.

So, if you think your dog has ingested xylitol – call the vet or poison control hotline immediately. A lot of irreversible damage can occur quickly.

VCA Animal Hospitals article “Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs,” includes some of these warnings:

The most common source of xylitol poisoning that Pet Poison Helpline gets calls about comes from sugar-free gum, although cases of xylitol poisoning from other sources such as supplements and baked goods are on the rise. In 2020, Pet Poison Helpline had 5,846 calls involving dogs ingesting xylitol!

VCA Animal Hospitals, Dr,’s Renee Schmid and Ahna Brutlag

Xylitol is too dangerous, too quickly toxic, and too easy to miss.

Reading the label of everything that comes into your house can help you avert tragedy.

Then… research online ahead of time so you know who to call if you suspect your dog has ingested xylitol. Don’t wait until time is running out.

Here is the website and phone number (888) 426-4435) for the ASPCA Poison Control. There may be a charge.

New Year’s dog training resolution?

Did you make a resolution to train you dog in 2023? Or did you resolve to get some pesky dog behaviors under control in 2023?

It’s never a bad time to improve your dog’s behaviors and improve everyone’s quality of life.

Management does not guarantee your dog will be able to build snow-people.

But we can try…

Winter 2023 session starts Saturday January 14th, 2023.
  • Basic – 9:00 am
  • Distract O Doggie – 10:10 am
  • Intermediate – 11:20 am
For more information

click here or contact

Animal Assisted Intervention and Advanced class.

The Animal Assisted Intervention and the Advanced classes have been merged because there is so much overlap.

All the skills that would normally be considered only for the Animal Assisted Interventions class should be in everyone’s toolbox as they take their dogs out into public for walks, recreation, pick up kids at the school bus, vacations, sports, etc.

Every interaction your dog has with a stranger is a moment to affect that person’s life.

  • If you have wanted to do the Advanced class to hone skills or prepare for the CGC – this is the class.
  • If you want to volunteer with your dog to do Animal Assisted Interventions – this is the class for you.
  • If you are already working your dog on Animal Assisted Intervention visits, this class will help you develop more broad handling and supporting skills.
  • If you are training your dog to do service work for you, this class will give you the tools so you can work your dog appropriately in public.

If you have questions, or are not sure if your dog is ready for this class, please email me.

Or to enroll, click here.