Essential Resources for Training your New Dog

You are bringing home a new dog soon.  You have done research on its breed, age, and history, so you have an idea of what behaviors you can expect from it.  You have all of the gear–leash, crate, collar, and food. Now, you are in a bit of a panic, as you are thinking of some of the ways in which your life will be different from here-on-out.  One way is that your daily routine will change. In the first couple of weeks, you will not have the relationship with your new companion that includes the mutual understanding and teamwork to ensure safety, order, and the balancing of needs of both pet and parent.

Hoping to get started on that new relationship and move towards the reestablishment of harmony?  Beginning promptly to housetrain your dog and teach them obedience–with constancy and positive reinforcement–can really make a difference!  You may want to make your dog’s first day with you a full one in order to advance as much as possible towards your goal.

Acclimation

The word “training” may send off signals to you to look at the section on basic commands, but beginning with housetraining–allowing them to explore home, crate, designated waste areas, and leash life–can address needs, such as your dog’s sense of security and ease.  It can also make progress towards your own needs for your house’s cleanliness, and for building a strong foundation for  caring for, trusting, and understanding your new pet.

The Spruce has 4 articles on each of the above topics–and many more–that offer “how to’s,” tips, and explanations on the purposes of some of the methods:

  1. How to Crate Train Your Dog or Puppy by Amy Bender

  2. How to House Train Your Puppy by Jenna Stregowski, RVT

  3. Introducing Your Dog to the Leash by Amy Bender

  4. Leash Training for Dogs by Amy Bender

Basic Commands

Practicing the basic commands of “sit,” “come,” “down,” “stay,” and “leave it”  with your dog within the first few days of bringing them home is of great importance.  It contributes to your own peace of mind, as you can begin to trust that your dog will do as you ask in service of their safety or your need for order and peace.  Juliana Weiss-Roessler wrote a helpful article for Cesar’s Way that describes a step-by-step process of training your dog for these 5 commands.

Methods and Strategies

The methods you use for training are important because they can both facilitate and/or hamper the learning process for your dog, and they can also influence whether your relationship is built on things like affection or fear.

Positive reinforcement is held in high regard as an effective and affectionate method for training pets.  Rewards such as praise, petting, and treats are received happily by dogs and are shown to yield results.  To better ensure that learning will happen, you can choose to follow desired behaviors swiftly with such rewards.  It is also constructive to reward any progress made towards the fulfillment of commands and to practice the same behaviors often, eventually in different situations.  This being said, the learning curve for your dog may be slow and they may not behave as you expected them to based on your research.  Be patient and be willing to get creative and go through some trial and error with commands and treats!

The effectiveness and ethical value of negative reinforcement is contested in the training community.  One resource suggests that non-physical negative reinforcement, such as placing motion-sensing air compressors in areas that you want your pet to avoid, like countertops or spaces containing fragile valuables or wires, produces results.  Another argues that punishing pets for not completing a command can foster fear and resistance.

Training is a wholesome activity for you and your dog.  It can be a good mental exercise for them, as they are challenged to figure out what it is you want them to do, or to figure out how they can get that treat.  Furthermore, it can be a satisfying way of consuming energy, although other types of training, like sports or agility,  can be more effective at tiring dogs out!

If you and your dog are hitting a roadblock in training with certain behaviors and are having issues finding the source and solution, a professional perspective can be beneficial.  Veterinary behaviorists can help identify the cause of certain behaviors and offer suggestions for future work.  Sugar Land, Texas is home to the Texas Veterinary Behavior Services, which can be contacted Monday-Friday and some Saturdays, from 10am-6pm at (281) 980-3737.  Locally, you can contact Jennifer Lavendar or Pam Orms (contact information below).

Good luck training!  And don’t forget that cats can do it, too, with many of the same strategies, and that both pet and parent can benefit from the process.

Pam Orms, Pam’s Dog Grooming and Obedience School, 2508 Hendricks St, Gladewater, Texas 75647,(903) 845-4890; https://www.facebook.com/PamsDogGroomingAndObedienceSchool

Jenny Lavender, People Training for Pets, 315 Meadowlark Lane, Longview, Texas 75603; (903) 702-9877;
https://www.facebook.com/PTFPeasttexas903

An Overview of Pet Insurance

Studies have shown that people invest a lot in their pets, but not in pet insurance: Americans spent $50 billion on pets in 2011 and $15 billion on veterinary bills in 2014, but less than 5% of dogs and 1% of cats are insured.  These staggering numbers may indicate unawareness, misunderstanding or incomplete understanding, or distrust of the concept.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance operates a lot like health insurance for your family members, maintaining their well being and your finances, but for your pet instead of a relative.  There are a variety of policies that cover the costs of veterinary bills for a variety of health risks and procedures.

Some statistics on pet health:

  • 4 out of 5 pets will experience a medical emergency in their lifetime
  • 1 in 3 pets will need unexpected veterinary care each year

Why Some People Buy Pet Insurance

If you browse the web, you will find that, when people buy pet insurance, they do so generally out of the desire to meet 3 needs – financial security, peace of mind, and contributing to the life of their pet.  They want to protect their emotions, their wallets, and their pets from some of life’s most unfortunate accidents and developments.  

  • Personal Security & Contribution to Life of Pet
    Buying pet insurance contributes to personal security and the desire to care for life in a variety of ways.  In general, it grants you some ease in decision-making about medical issues and peace in the downtime when there isn’t a medical matter at hand.  For example, certain policies can allow you to authorize or deny medical treatment for your pet solely on the basis of how it may contribute to the future well being of your pet – without the stressful consideration of how much money you have in the bank.  A pet health insurance policy can also give you reassurance that, should an accident happen or an illness develop, all can be taken care of.  Furthermore, pet insurance policies can contribute to the well being of both you and your pet in that they allow you to choose any vet, whether out of the comfort of familiarity or the assurance of quality care, or both!  Those who opt for pet insurance also appreciate when it covers for costly but effective and life-enhancing remedies, technologies, and procedures.  
  • Financial Security
    When people buy pet insurance for financial security, they may do so to protect their lifetime investment from the rising costs of emergencies and even general checkups, and from high-interest credit cards or loans.  Some of the ways that pet insurance helps are by reimbursing up to 80% of the cost of a bill after deductibles and preventing you from drawing capital from other funds – emergency or otherwise – and from friends.  It also provides you with the money when you need it, allowing you to avoid setting up a plan to repay a large bill to your vet in installments over a long period of time.  

Why Some People Don’t Buy Pet Insurance

For many pet owners, not buying pet insurance may also be a way of meeting a need for financial security.  The decision to refrain from the purchase is likely not for lack of care for one’s pet or out of disregard for one’s emotional needs.  Different providers offer different payment strategies – month-to-month, bi-annually, or annually, for example – but a policy might generally start out at a premium of $20-$50 per month, and then increase as your pet ages.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

  • The claim-making process may vary across insurance providers and veterinarians.  Some plans may ask that you pay your vet and then send the receipt for your bill to your provider who, in a few days to a few weeks, will send you a check for part or all of the costs, as agreed upon in your policy.  In some instances, your vet may file paperwork for you.
  • Different plans cover different needs: some only cover accidents, others only cover vaccinations and checkups, and others will cover for certain conditions.
  • There are more options for coverage if you sign up when your pet is young.
  • Most policies don’t cover for pre-existing conditions.
  • Most plans offer discounts for additional pets

If you’re a pet parent or are about to become one and you are considering buying pet insurance, there is a great resource available at Reviews.com – Pet Insurance that gives all the ins and outs about the plans and options that are available.  You can also learn more at http://www.petinsuranceguideus.com/the-basics/.  

If you are not quite sure you are ready for pet insurance, feel free to give Dr. Foye’s team at Longview Animal Hospital a call at (903) 807-0887 and ask us about CareCredit – a program that allows payments over 6 months with no interest!  

Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet

You know you want to get a pet.  You may even know what kind of pet you want.  But, you’re not sure what it takes to provide for one, and you’re afraid things could end badly, so you’re stuck between your yearning and your fear, looking for some guidance.   Being  aware of some of the personal factors that can affect your ability to provide for the needs of a prospective pet in the first place can be helpful.  Below is a list of such factors.

Just because you may be limited in one or two areas doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t have a pet!  We hope our list prompts you to consider what kind of animal companion might work best with your needs, or what areas in your life you might be able to adjust to meet the needs of the pet you want.  Happy pet matchmaking!

Personal Factors that Affect Your Ability to Care for a Pet:

1 – Lifestyle and Time.  Consider the demands of your job, family and social life, daily routine, hobbies, and plans for the future of your living situation.  Do you think you could make sacrifices in some of these areas to make room for caring for a pet?  For example, some plants, foods, and common house chemicals are toxic to some pets – could you give them up or reconfigure the layout of your home so that your pets can’t get into them?  Furthermore, given your current life schedule, do you think you have or could make the time to devote to training, experimenting with foods, treats, and toys, playing, and researching?

Tip – Cats, dogs, and bunnies tend to fare better when they have a lot of attention, but tend to suffer in solitude.  Fish are a little less high-maintenance, and guinea pigs have a reputation for being a good first family pet, as they are social and playful, tolerant of petting, and are usually a short-term time commitment.  If you have children, you may also want to research the temperament of cats and dogs breed-by-breed to minimize the likelihood of biting and scratching.

2 – Personality and Energy.  After tending to the above aspects of your life, what would you say is your average level of energy in a day?  You might want a pet whose energy level matches yours, so that neither of you are too exhausted after time together or are just not interested in spending time together.  Do you have the energy or the interest to put into training a dog or a cat?  Be sure to research breed-by-breed, again!

3 – Location and Space.  Certain accommodations, neighborhoods, and climates may be better for some pets and worse for others.  If you’re renting, you’ll want to respect the building’s and owner’s pet regulations.  Some dwellings might not be big enough to keep a dog or a cat, or have the neighborhood ideal for walking and playing with them.  Furthermore, you’ll also want to have a good veterinarian fairly close by, as well as options for petsitters and boarding.

4 – Bank Account.  Multiple sources agree that it may take about $1,000 annually to take care of a pet, including their food, toys, collar/id and pictures, vet’s visits, and grooming, among other costs.  Some specific pets may cost more than others depending on different health or grooming needs.  Professional grooming for dogs with long hair can cost between $50 and $90.

5 – Health.  You may also want to consider your own health needs, and whether they are compatible with owning a pet.  Be aware of allergies, and make sure medications stay far away and out of reach of your pets.

Getting a pet is a big decision and requires a lot of forethought. Our team at Longview Animal Hospital is available to advise you with guidance about your prospective pet’s needs, such as vaccinations, diets, spaying and neutering, and dental hygiene.  Give us a call at (903) 807-0887 or stop by for a visit at our offices at 2500 Estes Parkway in Longview!

Pet Appreciation Week 2017

Ten Fun Ways to Show Your Pet You Care

Happy Pet Appreciation Week!  To honor this event, we encourage you to take some time to contemplate the comfort, joy, fun, and companionship your furry family members bring to your life.  Express your feelings of thankfulness or gratitude for any and all pets – your own or those loved by someone you know (or even by someone you don’t know), stray or accommodated, past or present.

One of the best ways to show you care is to become an expert in communications with your pet. The language barrier between animals and humans can make it hard to tell whether our gestures of recognition and affection are fully appreciated.  That’s why knowing how our cats and dogs behave to communicate their needs and feelings can be one of the best ways to convey our love and thanks.  Not only that, it can also strengthen your relationship by enabling  better understanding and trust.

Look below for some ways to meaningfully communicate with your pets and let them know that you care for them by using their very own language! Included are some ways of acknowledging the service done by pets in general and also some ways of caring for your pet in less personal and maybe even less enjoyable ways, though more beneficial in the long run.

Personally…

  1. Eye Contact.  For many animals, eye contact can be confrontational, so make sure you and your pet are in a state of relaxation when you want to have this feelings jam.  
    – For dogs, you want to speak softly and stroke them gently while you gaze into each other’s eyes.  This is an eye-hug, which releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin in both you and your dog.  
    – With cats, eye contact is another story.  Cats blink slowly and bow their head as a testament to their trust in you, as it is a vulnerable action.  When your furry feline friend approaches you, it may do well to demonstrate your trust in them in return by baring the top of your head to them and slow-blinking.  This will likely bring on a head-bump.

  2. Sleeping, Napping, or Lying Together is also a vulnerable act for your pet, and demonstrates trust.

  3. Petting.  Most pets like to be pet and have specific areas and ways of being pet that they prefer.  Pay attention to how your cat or dog reacts to being pet in different areas.  Some breeds of both families like to be pet on the stomach, but also watch for when your furry family member might be thinking enough is enough.  We’ve heard that dogs and cats also really like being scratched on and around their ears.  What may be news is that they might not like being hugged as much as we like to give them hugs.  
    – For some dogs, leaning on you can be a display of trust, and thus they may get the message if you give them a lean or two right back.  
    – Cats have a little bit more of a complex communication system when it comes to petting.  When your cat rubs itself nose-to-tail on you, it is supposed to transfer pheromones that communicate their ownership of you to other cats.  Therefore, petting your cat nose-to-tail can inform your cat that you are happy to be owned by them.  Furthermore, cats like to head-butt, which can sometimes hurt, but is also a sign of respect.

  4. Training.  Cats, in addition to dogs, can in fact be trained!  Not only can the process increase your and your pet’s mutual understanding, but the positive reinforcement and rewards system can also reinforce your pet’s trust in you as their provider of food as well as a source of affirmation.

  5. Playing.  Being a part of your cat’s or dog’s playtime is another great way to build trust, since your pet can also begin to associate you with fun or a time when they get to hone their focus and hunting skills.  Technology has also developed to the point where there are some automatic and timed toys your pet can play with while you are away, in case yours is a cat or a dog that gets bored or despondent during that time.  If you have some friends with pets, and everyone has a history of getting along, a playdate can be a good idea, too!

  6. Feeding.  Food can be a great motivator as in training, but it can also be a great way to show appreciation and affection.  We’ve heard that feeding by hand can not only contribute to bonding but can also decrease some of your pet’s (usually dogs’) aggression surrounding food.  There are also some foods that all cats, dogs, and humans can eat, and so it could also be a fun tradition to cook a special  meal once in a while to eat all together.

  7. Learn How They Communicate.  There is definitely more in terms of  what different behaviors and actions can convey.  Being able to recognize and then respect and respond appropriately when your pet is distressed or playful can really reinforce the loving relationship you already have with each other.

Generally…

8. Grooming/Maintenance.  Your pet may not enjoy it when they have to get their nails clipped, their ears cleaned, and their coat brushed, or when they have to be taken to get vaccines, but they may enjoy some of the comfort it can provide them afterwards.

9. Pet Insurance.  Similarly, presenting your pet with an insurance card may not produce a gleam in their eyes, but it could get them treatment later on when they really need relief from pain.

10. Volunteering at or Donating to Your Local Shelter.  If you don’t currently have a pet, but have wonderful memories of a pet you had in the past, or if you just love animals in general, there are plenty of opportunities for you!  Try donating to a local shelter or spending some time as a volunteer cleaning facilities or walking shelter pets.  You can also purchase items that an animal shelter needs on a regular basis (things like blankets and towels, food, dishes, crates, etc.).  These actions can be equally rewarding for both you and the animals you appreciate.

We know you don’t always have the time or the resources to make grand gestures in expression of your feelings for your pet, but we hope some of the above might be able to worm their way into your daily routines to enrich the relationship you already have with your pet!  If over time your newly developed sensitivities to your cat’s or dog’s feelings and needs pick up on extra irritability, there could be a pressing reason, though one we might not be able to see from the outside.  Keep watch and give us a call at 903-807-0887 if this is something you ever do detect!

Why it is Important to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Bringing a new puppy or kitten into your home is such an exciting, joyful occasion. There are many decisions awaiting the owners of a new puppy or kitten. One of those is the decision as to whether to spay (females) or neuter (males) your new fur baby. Unless you plan on breeding your new addition, it is highly recommended to perform this procedure. Your loved one will live a longer, healthier life if you make the decision to spay or neuter. In addition, you will be making the responsible decision to make sure more unwanted pets do not become a burden on society.

Health Benefits

Spaying or neutering can help prevent common health issues such as uterine infections and breast cancer for females, and testicular cancer and prostate issues for males.

  • Male dogs who are neutered live 18% longer than their unaltered counterparts, and female dogs who are spayed live 23% longer than their counterparts.

  • Animals who are altered do not gain weight because of the procedure. They gain weight because they are fed too much. After being altered, feed your pet 30% less than what you would feed an unaltered pet.

Behavior Benefits

This operation can also reduce some mating-motivated, dominance-related, and aggressive behaviors:

  • Mating-related behaviors that this procedure may reduce or eliminate include escaping and wandering in search of a mate, mounting people and objects, and heat cycles, which cause vocalization and urine marking.
  • Dominance- and aggression-related behaviors include barking and peeing to mark territory.
  • These behaviors can increase the likelihood that your pet will come into harmful or even fatal encounters with traffic or other animals, and thus sterilization can further protect the life of your pet, and save you a large amount of money.
  • Reducing the marking behavior can also protect your property from costly damage, not to mention your health from the ammonia found in concentrated cat urine.
  • The longer an animal goes without getting spayed or neutered, the less likely the behaviors will decrease after surgery.

  • Sterilization is not the sole solution to all unwanted or destructive behaviors.  Some of these may be inherent to your pet’s personality or are habits that have gone uncorrected.

  • Sterilization additionally does not alter a pet’s personality, intelligence, protective instincts, playfulness, or affection.

Greater Benefits

Last of all, this procedure can contribute to the lessening of the pet homelessness crisis and to the lessening of the amount of adoptable animals that end up being euthanized.

  • Every year in the United States, 6-8 million animals enter shelters.

  • Each year, half of these sheltered animals are adopted, but more than 2.7 million of them are euthanized.

Invest in a healthier and happier future by scheduling the surgery any time after your pet reaches 4 months of age. We recommend you arrange for this procedure to be performed at a veterinarian’s office where your fur baby will receive individualized care, high quality anesthesia and take home medication to prevent infection. As always, if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, Contact our Team at Longview Animal Hospital.

DIY Toenail Trimming with Dogs

One of the most difficult things to do in the upkeep of your pet’s health is trimming their toenails.

Big dogs seem especially harder to keep controlled during this process.  Even if you start out doing this easily when they are puppies, they are still reluctant to hand over that paw to your care on their behalf.

Be sure to take a look at this great step by step guide from the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine here:

https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/procedures/dogs/clipping-your-dog’s-claws#39;s-claws

Things to remember:

Use the right tools for the job – familiarize yourself with the tools for nail trimming and determine which ones you want to use for your process with your dog.  The AKC has an overview of some of the clipping tools here: http://www.akc.org/content/dog-care/articles/how-to-pick-dog-nail-clippers/

 

Be careful not to trim too much.  The quick (the blood supply for the toenail) grows along with the nail, so if your dog’s toenails are long and have not been maintained, you will have to catch up to an ideal toenail length over a period of time by trimming a small amount each time you are able to trim.  The quick will recede naturally as the toenails are shortened – so you can safely trim a small amount of nail once a week until at the proper length – and then you can maintain every two weeks from there.  You will be able to see the quick if your dog has light colored nails, however, this will not be visible in dogs with dark colored nails.   Keep a wet Qtip and some styptic powder handy when you are doing your nail trimming just in case you hit the quick – it will help to stop the bleeding more quickly.

Image from https://dogs.thefuntimesguide.com

 

A few tips that you can try to help you with the nail trimming process:

The treat method – Give your dog a special treat a few minutes in advance of the clipping process.  (Make sure that is not the only time you treat them as you don’t want treats to be solely associated with nail trimming.)  While your dog is distracted by the treat, try to trim a little bit off of each toenail.

 

Slow conditioning – Clip a small amount off of one nail successfully and then immediately take your dog out for a fun walk.  Do this each day right before a walk until you have clipped all toenails, then start over and try for two nails followed by a walk, etc.  The hope is that your dog will come to see the nail clipping process associated with a positive reward and will be less likely to continue to struggle with it over time.

 

Quick Re-conditioning – Take a look at this video to learn how reconditioning works and see if it helps you in your process. Find a second person to help you with distracting the dog with treats while you go through the conditioning steps for trimming the toenails.

https://youtu.be/WWZUcLfHXLE


If all else fails, give our team a call at Longview Animal Hospital and we can schedule an appointment for your pet for a nail trim!  We’re here to help you.  

Longview Animal Hospital Receives Award from Texas Veterinary Medical Association

Longview Animal Hospital is pleased to announce that they have received the Texas Veterinary Heritage Practice Award at the 2017 Annual Conference and Expo of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) which took place in College Station in early March.  The award recognizes practices of veterinary medicine in Texas that have been in continuous operation for 50 years or more.

“We are honored to be recognized by the TVMA.  Our practice has a wonderful and rich history of providing quality care for animals since 1949”, stated Jill Foye, Practice Manager.  Longview Animal Hospital is the oldest continuously operating vet clinic in the area.

The practice, originally named Longview Veterinary Hospital, was established in 1949 by Dr. Alec Sears.  It has changed owners several times over its long history: Dr. Jack Clayton (Owner from about 1950-1952); Dr. Bob Terrell (1952-1994); Dr. Christina Odom (1994-2011).

In 2011, the practice was taken over by Dr. Brian Foye (Owner from 2011 to present).  Located at 2500 Estes Parkway, just south of the location where Estes divides and turns into High Street and Mobberly Avenue, the clinic underwent a facelift and a slight name change to Longview Animal Hospital.  Dr. Foye added a second exam room, and state-of-the-art medical equipment, fresh paint and new decor.  He has since doubled the size of his team, added a third exam room, purchased an ultrasound and upgraded his x-ray machine to digital.

Dr. Brian Foye graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991 and received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. A native Texan, having grown up in the Dallas area, he said he couldn’t wait to get back to his home state to start his veterinary career.  Before taking over the practice in Longview, he worked at Westlake Animal Hospital in Austin, Texas and Marshall Animal Hospital. “We appreciate the TVMA honoring this historic practice. I’ve been blessed to have owned it these past 5 years and look forward to many, many more!” shared Dr. Foye.
The award was presented to Longview Animal Hospital during the 2017 TVMA Annual Conference and Expo in College Station from March 3-5. ://tvma.azurewebsites.net/.

# # #

Longview Animal Hospital’s historic veterinary practice provides a
compassionate and experienced team for the highest quality of care
in a friendly, unhurried environment.
Preventative & ER Care, Surgeries, Dental Care and Climate-controlled Boarding.  

Longview Animal Hospital
Friendly Care. Healthy Pets. Happy Families.

Proudly serving Longview and surrounding areas for over 470 dog years!
2500 Estes Parkway • Longview, TX 75602

Brownie Bites’ Apple Oatmeal Homemade Dog Biscuits

Baking for others is a rewarding and inclusive activity.  Why not surprise your loving and loyal dog like you do your friendly neighbor, or even your neighbor’s own excitable dog, and pass on some baked treats?  And why not sweeten the pot by making it healthy for your dog?  The following recipe for Homemade Apple Oatmeal Dog Biscuits was found on Brownie Bites’ blog: http://www.browniebites.net/apple-oatmeal-homemade-dog-biscuits/

  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  3. Mash together in a bowl 1 cup of shredded carrots and 1 ripe banana.
  4. Stir in ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce and ⅛ cup of water.
  5. Fold in 1 cup of oats.
  6. Gradually add 1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour until dough is formed.  
  7. On a surface sprinkled with flour, roll out the dough until it is about ½ inch thick, and use a cookie cutter of any size to make the cookies, keeping in mind the size of your dog.  The batch will be small.  
  8. Place the cookies on the sheet and bake for 25 minutes.  After baking, leave the treats in the oven for 2 hours to make them chewy, or for 3 hours to make them crunchy, to your dog’s liking.  This practice also keeps them from going stale too quickly.  

 

Happy baking and treating!