Cedar Pet Clinic Blog

Training for Your Pet

When deciding to bring a new pet into a home, people create checklists of items that will help make the pet more comfortable and happy…..tasty treats, cute sweaters, plush dog beds, and maybe even toys galore. However, one item that may never even make it on the list is the need for behavior or obedience training.

January is designated as “National Train Your Dog Month” for very good reason - people who take the time in working on core obedience skills with their dog tend to have stronger bonds and a more fulfilling experience as a pet owner. Why is training your dog so important?

Misinformation is Prominent in Internet Searches

There are a multitude of websites which offer advice on pet training, and unfortunately, not all of them are good consult. Some can even be downright harmful to your pet or set in motion a lifetime of fear, anxiety and stress. It’s important to find reputable trainers who embrace positive reinforcement strategies. This will help build your dog’s confidence and trust in you. Training which inflicts punishment is harmful to the emotional and social development of your dog.

Once you find a training opportunity which you feel comfortable with, try to enroll before your puppy is around 8 weeks of age. This is a critical time in his or her development. (Make sure your pup is up to date on vaccinations!) If you adopt an older pet, ask for appropriate classes or possibly even in-home training to help get your pet started off on the right paw!

Dogs That Receive Positive Training Reinforcement are More Social and Predictable

By setting up positive experiences around other dogs, people and situations, your dog will learn to be calmer and less fearful of change and unknown situations. Learning basic commands and being rewarded with a high-value and tasty treat sets the stage for positive associations with training, and your pup will love the time shared with you! Some of the valuable commands or skills that your pet may learn include:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Off
  • Drop it
  • Bite inhibition
  • Crate training
  • Tips for potty training

By having these commands and experiences to rely on in new situations, your dog will be calmer, more confident in knowing what to expect and have an association draw from on how to behave properly.

Training Helps Reduce Anxiety-Induced Behaviors

By spending time with your pet in training, you are helping them burn mental energy - right along with physical energy. It’s often said, “A tired dog is a good dog!” - and there is some merit to this. By giving your dog tasks or a job to do, you’ll notice a significant impact on the leftover energy they have each day. You’ll likely notice a calmer, more rested canine. This leaves less time for shredding furniture, chewing on shoes, digging, or other inappropriate behaviors.

Training Helps YOU Be a Better Owner!

By spending time with your dog, you’ll learn how take cues from his or her body language -- subtle, as well as not so subtle. By recognizing moments where your dog is becoming stressed, even slightly, you can redirect the behavior into something positive or remove your pet from the stress-inducing situation. For example, if a neighbor comes to visit and you notice your dog licking or persistent yawning, you’d know that this is an experience which is causing stress, not necessarily excitement or boredom. You’ll know that this is a situation in which you should intervene, potentially before it escalates, possibly into even a fear bite. This infographic by Dr. Sophia Yin clearly illustrates body language of fear and anxiety. It’s a good reminder that fear doesn’t always look like we think it may. Time in training with your dog helps keep these stress signals in mind.

In our Lake Elmo Area and surrounding communities there are a few of the training schools which may be in close proximity to you:

For The Love of Dogs in Hudson

Animal Inn Training

St. Paul Dog Training Club

Schindler Dog Training

If you’re looking to learn more about pet behavior and ways to help enrich your pet’s life through behavior training and understanding your pet’s “language”, ask one of our veterinarians, and we’ll point you in the right direction. There are several behavior issues that can be solved, or at the very least, mitigated with proper training.

Important to note: any time that your dog has a change in behavior, such as seeming to forget potty training, when it previously was a well-known skill for him or her, there may be an underlying medical cause, so be sure to contact us. 

Happy training!

Photo Credit: mdmilliman

The Importance of Exercise to Your Pet

We’re two weeks into the new year, and if you’re like many people, you’ve likely thought of changes you’d like to make in your life to do better in the year ahead. As a pet owner, maybe you’ve even thought of ways that you can enhance and enrich your pet’s life. If so, one of the best commitments you can make for your pet, (and one in which you’ll reap the benefits, too!) is exercise. Here are a few reasons why this is so important!

Help in the Prevention of Obesity

It’s clear to see that pet obesity has reached large segments of our pet population. This last October, we posted this to our Facebook page:

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With pet obesity having its own “day” named after it, we know that we should direct attention to the cause of the problem. By committing to a plan of daily exercise, you’ll help keep your pet’s weight at an appropriate level. At your pet’s next preventive care exam, ask us which type of activities will be best for your pet, based on age, breed and overall health conditions. Exercise may look different for each pet - for example, it’s pretty simple to put a leash on your dog and head outside around the block a few times. For our feline friends, having plenty of toys around, or even a laser light for then to chase may be a perfect way to take in some exercise. For those of us who share our home with a pocket pet, bird or other exotic species, there are very specific exercise regimens that will be of benefit - we can help you with activities appropriate for your pet's needs.

Mental Stimulation

When exercising, especially when venturing outside, there are plenty of opportunities for your pet to enrich his mind right in addition to the physical benefits to his or her body. With the potential for socialization with the other dogs on the stroll, plenty of critters to see (squirrels, birds, rabbits), and the abundance of new smells and sounds, your dog will benefit from a good deal of mental stimulation. This helps to burn mental energy, leaving less time for separation anxiety and the destructive behaviors that may coincide with it.

For cats, providing them opportunities to forage for their food makes meal time an enriching activity. Hunting feeders keep your cat physically active, while also meeting the need to hunt and prey. This leads both to a slimmer and better behaved feline companion!

Overall Wellness and Health

Just as in people, frequent exercise helps reduce the risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, diseases of the heart and kidneys, cancers, and respiratory conditions. Meanwhile, daily walks and exercise help keep your pet agile and limber. Even a twenty-thirty minute jaunt has health benefits which will ward off premature aging by helping to develop an overall state of fitness and wellness.

As you do venture out of doors, keep an eye on your pet to monitor them for tiring or signs of discomfort, particularly in our cold January temperatures. Additionally, if your pet has any medical conditions, you’ll want to modify an exercise routine specifically to your pet’s health needs and limitations.

Time With You

Of course the health benefits to your pet are important, but one of the most important rewards of exercise with your pet is the time you’ll share together. Not only do you help build your pet’s confidence and enhance the bond you share in spending time with them, but this time will contribute to BOTH of you in emotional and psychological ways.

We hope you have a fabulous start to your new year, and that it is one of health and wellness for both of you! Please don’t hesitate to contact Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo if you have additional questions about your pet's behavior or health.

Reference used in this article:
“5 Reasons Why Your Pet Should Be Your Workout Buddy.” Pet Health Network, www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-checkups-preventive-care/5-reasons-why-your-pet-should-be-your-workout-buddy.

 

Photo Credit: kzenon

New Pet? Let's Get Started off on the Right Paw!

Have you recently made a commitment to decide to adopt a pet? Or have you already brought your pet into your home and are wondering how you can be the best pet parent you can be for your new companion? In this article, we’ll offer some tips on how to ease the transition of your pet into your home as well as get him or her started onto a healthy journey, maximizing the time that will be spent with you!

Tip #1: Prepare your home.

This sounds simple, but in reality, you really need to view every item in your home from the height of your pet. Perhaps furniture items that you never give a second glance to harbor curious extra sniffs, tugs or even chewing. Consider what you are leaving out in your pet’s reach and remember that he or she really doesn’t know the difference between a $10 pair of shoes or a $350 pair of shoes. As an alternative, have several pet-safe toys in the area your pet will be occupying. Clear away anything else that you don’t want to have innocently damaged.

Secure an appropriate crate, food and water bowls, and check for pet licensing requirements where you live.

Tip #2: Schedule your pet’s veterinary visit.

Preventive care is the key to your pet’s overall health. Vaccinating against disease, such as lyme, leptospirosis, Bordetella (kennel cough), and implementing other preventive measures to protect against heartworm, or tick-borne illnesses, help to not only keep your pet healthy and parasite free, but your family members, as well! On your pet’s first visit, we’ll help to set up a vaccination schedule and help you know what you might expect at the various stages of your new friend’s life.

Tip #3: Start with a dental regimen right way.

Much like preventive care that we discussed in tip #2, proper care of your pet's teeth will also help to contribute to his or her overall health. We can help show you how to brush your pet's teeth, but you can also check out the video below! It's important to begin this routine early on in your pet's lifetime, so that they can not only benefit from the rewards of dental health, but to help desensitize them in having their mouth, gums and face handled. Our team can provide suggestions on some of the toothpastes and brushes that both we and our clients prefer.

Tip #4: Socialization

The window of time from several weeks up until about 4 months is a significant time for your new pet, especially as a puppy. This socialization period impacts him or her for the rest of their life in reactions to environmental stimuli. For kittens, this time may vary from 2-14 weeks. 

Why is this so important? By helping pets feel calm in fearful situations or unfamiliar circumstances, you’ll not only build their confidence, but also help reduce potential for aggression, fear biting, or submissive behaviors that become difficult to manage. 

Seek out local obedience classes or ask our veterinarians for suggestions on how to maximize this pivotal moment in your pet’s life. Are you noticing excessive barking, destructive chewing or house training issues that seem to be lingering? These tips may help.

Tip #5:  Choose Good Nutrition

Navigating food labels is complicated for us as humans. Trying to understand what our pets need can be even more difficult. It’s important to choose a high quality pet food that meets each stage of your pet’s changing physical and mental needs. Our veterinary team can help provide guidance on the right amount of food, the best type for your pet’s individual needs, and what your pet’s feeding schedule should look like. Important to consider - even though treats may seem tiny and harmless to you, pet obesity is a common problem, and each calorie adds up in their overall daily dietary intake.

Tip #6:  Prepare for a Lifetime of Devotion and Companionship

Pets truly are a gift in our lives and they will be your most devoted of companions. By committing to a schedule of preventive care, parasite prevention and a healthy, active lifestyle, your pet will thrive and you’ll further strengthen the bond that you share. At Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo, we’re here to be with you on your pet’s journey of health, whether your pet is a dog, cat,  rabbit, gerbil, hamster, hedgehog, turtle, rat, chinchilla, ferret, guinea pig, pet chicken, duck, goose, snake, iguana, chameleon, frog, or, sugar glider! (or even, a tarantula!)

References:
Becker, Mikkel. “Your Guide on How to Socialize a Kitten.” Vetstreet, www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/your-guide-to-socializing-a-kitten.
Donovan, Liz. “Puppy Socialization: Why, When, and How to Do It Right – American Kennel Club.” American Kennel Club, 4 June 2015, www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/puppy-socialization/.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species
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Oakdale, MN 55128
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1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)
651-293-1800