Category Archives: fleas

Teaching your puppy to walk off leash


Teaching your puppy to walk off leash

by Emily Larlham

You can teach your puppy to walk off leash safely by using a long line attached to the harness your puppy is wearing.  Make sure you never attach the line to your puppy’s collar, as you can seriously damage his neck if he were to run and hit the end of the leash.  Walk your puppy on the long line and before the puppy hits the end of the long line, call your puppy to you and feed him an amazing treat for coming back.   When your puppy is walking within a distance from you that you like, praise him and feed or toss your puppy a treat.  By doing this, you will be building walking close to you as the most reinforcing thing to do when on an outing.  Call the pup back whenever he roams farther than the distance you wish him to stay in relation to you in the future when off-leash.  If your puppy doesn’t have a great recall, you can try running in the opposite direction of the puppy to entice your puppy to want to chase you and follow you.  Then reinforce the puppy with treats for following you.

Here is a video on how to train a recall to use for this exercise:

Puppy Recalls- Teaching come clicker dog training

The long line will give the puppy the feeling that he is off leash, but also prevent him from ever learning the frightening habit of running away.  You may have a puppy that always stays with you, but perhaps on one walk your puppy will see a rabbit and chase it without coming back when you call him.  This one incident can be so reinforcing that it will be very hard to un-train in the future.  If that same puppy was on a long line for safety, he would not get that extreme reinforcement for running away from you and would be much easier and faster to train to be off-leash around rabbits in the future.  Only when your puppy is ready can you start walking him off leash in safe areas.  The long line is basically like a safety net to prevent your puppy from learning to run away as well as keeping him out of danger.  Make sure that if you are near a road, that there is not enough lead for the puppy to run into the road if he were to do so.

When your puppy is ready and in a safe environment you can let the long line drag behind him or take him off leash.


The Top 8 Summer Hazards for Dogs


The Top 8 Summer Hazards for Dogs

Keep your dog safe as the weather gets nice with these tips from our resident vet.

Dr. Eric Barchas

I live in San Francisco, where the weather is famously mild. However, we recently enjoyed (and yes, I do mean enjoyed) a heat wave. It was a San Francisco heat wave, so it wasn’t actually very hot. Highs were in the 80s, and almost everyone in town put on their shorts.

My pal Buster and I were not exceptions. However, I think I enjoyed the weather a bit more than he did. He’s a Black Lab who spends plenty of time in the fog. Naturally I didn’t push this dog too hard in weather to which he was not properly acclimatized.

On one of the beautiful days in question, I saw something that made me cringe. A woman was running, in the sun, during the heat of the day, with a French Bulldog.

Folks, if you want to run with a dog, I humbly suggest that you choose a breed other than the French Bulldog. Other so-called brachycephalic breeds — the ones with snubby noses such as Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Boston Terriers, also don’t generally make good running companions. These dogs are prone to a condition called brachycephalic syndrome. This condition is caused by a combination of factors relating to their short snouts, and it can trigger life-threatening respiratory crises. Two things tend to trigger crises: hot days and heavy activity.

I thought about chasing down the woman to warn her, but she was going fast, and my pal Buster and I probably couldn’t have caught her. Plus, nobody likes a busybody. Fortunately, the Frenchie seemed to be extraordinarily fit, and he appeared to be managing the run relatively well.

But the incident got me thinking about the myriad risks prevalent in the summer. There are so many that summer is universally known as the “busy season” at emergency veterinary hospitals. This is partly because more people and dogs are out and about, and so there’s more opportunity for them to get into trouble. This sort of trouble is somewhat unavoidable, unless you don’t want your dog to have any sort of life. However, some summertime risks are well known and avoidable. I’m here to help you avoid them.

Let’s start with the obvious.

1. Heat stroke

Heat stroke occurs most commonly in the summer, especially early in the summer before dogs have had a chance to acclimatize. Older dogs, brachycephalic dogs, and overweight dogs are at a higher risk. It’s best to keep your dog inside or in the shade during the heat of the day, especially early in the summer. Never lock your dog in the car during the warm months. And remember that shady areas may become sunny as the day moves on, so a yard that’s cool and shady at 9 a.m. may be scorching hot at 1 p.m.

2. Sunburn

The strong summer sun does more than warm. Sunburn and skin cancer are surprisingly prevalent in dogs. Short-haired dogs (especially white ones) may be burned almost anywhere on their bodies. Even dogs with plush coats may have thin hair on their abdomen. This is another reason to keep your dog out of the sun when it’s strongest during the middle of the day.

3. Heartworm

Warm weather favors the transmission of heartworm disease. Also, the mosquitoes that carry the parasite are more prevalent during the summer. No part of North America can safely be considered free of heartworm during the summer. Fortunately, safe, monthly preventatives are highly effective. Talk to your vet about testing for heartworm and starting a preventative.

4. Fleas

Mosquitoes aren’t the only insects that are more active and common in the summer. Warm weather also causes fleas to come roaring out. Dogs needn’t have visible flea infestations to suffer from skin problems, ear infections, and other flea-related issues. Now is a good time to make sure your buddy is on a high-quality flea preventative.

5. Ticks

Many of those flea preventatives also prevent ticks. These eight-legged pests spread all kinds of scary disease such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. Heavy tick infestations can also cause life-threatening paralysis in dogs. In temperate areas, ticks are more common during the summer. In addition to using a high-quality tick preventative, I recommend that dogs be kept out of brushy areas and tall grasses, which are likely to harbor ticks.

Don’t forget that many of the products available to treat fleas and ticks are not high-quality. They often are not effective and they may carry a high risk of toxicity. Grocery store brands and products made by Hartz, Sergeant’s, and Bio Spot have poor track records, in my experience. Talk to your vet to confirm that your flea and tick product is safe and effective.

6. Fireworks

If God is a dog, then there will be a special place in hell for people who enjoy lighting off fireworks. July 4 is easily my pal Buster’s least favorite day of the year. I am confident that more dogs are lost on July 4 than on any other day, as they burrow under or knock over fences in an effort to get away from what they perceive as armageddon. Even indoor dogs are at risk — I have seen more than one who jumped through plate glass windows in their terror. If your dog hates fireworks, consider getting some tranquilizers from the vet. Or, better yet, go camping with him.

7. Foxtails

Half the vets in California would go out of business if foxtails went extinct. Unfortunately for dogs, there is no prospect of that happening. Also known as grass awns, foxtails are public enemy No. 1 for dogs in areas where they grow. Foxtails are a seasonal threat, with the greatest risk occurring in the summer. They are shaped like arrows, and they are prone to embedding in eyes, ears, noses, the skin, and even the genitals of dogs. They cause immense irritation and pain. They also cause infections, and they can burrow or migrate from one part of the body into another. Every dog owner needs to know what foxtails are. Keep your dog away from them at all times, and search your dog (especially his feet, abdomen, and ears) for foxtails after every walk.

8. Trauma

Finally, I encourage you to enjoy the summer with your dog. But be vigilant. Dog fights, motor vehicle injuries, wildlife altercations, and all other sorts of trauma are more common during the summer simply because there are more dogs (and wild animals) frolicking for longer every day. Pay attention to your dog, use a leash when appropriate, and stay away from dangerous areas such as cliffs and highways (and, some would argue, dog parks).