Blog

Mar 10

Treats are for Fleas

Posted by Bark to Basics

I know for some of you spring seems far off but here in Southern California it’s right around the corner. While many of us look forward to spring, the warmer weather brings one of our dog’s biggest pests, fleas.

Fleas can create a variety of problems for our dogs ranging from itchy skin to flea allergy dermatitis and even to tapeworms. While many people use the traditional topical flea treatments, like Frontline, or the newer pill form of flea control, Comfortis, many are unaware of a more natural option available to them and their dogs.

The traditional flea preventatives contain insecticides and toxins and dogs can experience a range of side effects including irritation or redness where a topical product was placed, hair loss, vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. In severe cases I have even seen dogs who have suffered from seizures and death after using these products. Certainly these cases aren’t the norm but like all medications these preventatives carry risks. Read a package of your favorite flea preventative and notice how it recommends you not allow it to come in to contact with your skin and instructs you to wash thoroughly if it does. If it’s not safe for our skin why would we want to put this on our pets?

One of my bassets, Dharma, has a range of allergies, including flea allergy dermatitis. When she gets fleas she turns in to a chewed up, red, bloody mess so we absolutely must keep them off her. So I set out searching for natural ways to prevent fleas. One that I came across was feeding small amounts of garlic, too much can be harmful to your dog, and gave it a try. It seemed to work for a while but eventually I found fleas on my dogs.

I expressed my concerns to my holistic vet at an appointment one day and he told me about Flea Treats. After doing some research I decided to give them a whirl. Flea Treats are a chewable tablet that guards against fleas and ticks using a vitamin B complex, which is known to reply bugs by creating a smell that they (not us) can detect. I even know of people who were given vitamin B shots to keep mosquitos away. One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to give them for around 10-20 days before you see their effectiveness.

There are a lot of pros to using this alternative. They’re not only natural and harmless, but they repel pests before they land on your pet, a major difference compared to traditional methods that kill fleas only after contact. Because vitamin B is water-soluble, your pet would not become ill even from eating an entire bottle. They’re also inexpensive, costing around $3 per month for a small dog and $6 for a 70 pounder. They’re safe for puppies, pregnant dogs and cats too. Best of all the company offers a money back guarantee.

But do they work?

Months later I’m happy to report that we are flea free using Flea Treats.

 

 

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Aug 13

People Need Training Too!

Posted by Bark to Basics

One of the things I love most about my job is that every day is different. Each owner/dog pair I work with is unique and I play a variety of roles – dog trainer, coach, cheerleader – to be most effective. Most of my clients realize at some point during the training process that I’m not only training their dog, I’m really training them! Luckily for the humans I work with I believe in positive reinforcement for training people too.

Most owners are very hard on themselves when they first take control of the leash and treats after watching me demonstrate the particular command or technique we’re working on during our session. They often feel awkward with the tools and struggle at first with getting the timing right. Many times the dogs aren’t the only ones working on breaking old habits like repeating commands – a big no-no with me!

This is where I go from dog trainer to coach and cheerleader. Training is a skill that develops with time and practice. Just like you don’t expect your dog to get something new on the first try (at least you shouldn’t) I know you need time to hone your new role as trainer. I don’t expect you to get it all right away and luckily, neither does your dog. I start by breaking your task into small and manageable steps – getting your coordination and timing right, communicating clearly with your dog and patience while he or she learns to work you. Clients are often frustrated with their rate of progress and focus on the steps they haven’t yet mastered rather than their successes. I coach you one step at a time, letting you know when you are doing things right and allowing you to be successful at one step before asking you to incorporate something new. Just like when I’m working with your dog, I gradually increase the criteria until you have perfected your training techniques. It doesn’t take long before both pet and owner are making progress and gaining confidence.

One of the most common questions I’m asked is, do you train husbands and kids? I always respond with same techniques, different treats. And I’ve heard some favorable reviews on my idea for freeze-dried beer treats for the husbands!

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Aug 2

Puppy Potty Training Tips

Posted by Bark to Basics

Lately it seems as though I’m meeting more and more families who are having difficulty house training their new puppies. Here are some tips to help get puppy on the right track.

  • Have a designated potty area and take puppy there immediately upon arrival home
  • Take your puppy to the potty area after eating, drinking, playing, naps, first thing in the morning and right before bed in addition to every 1-3 hours depending on the age of your puppy
  • Put puppy on a feeding schedule 2-3 times a day depending on her age and only leave food down for a half hour each time. Puppies will usually potty 30-60 minutes after eating.
  • Praise and reward for pottying in the correct location
  • If puppy thinks potty time is play time use a leash to keep him focused on the job at hand
  • Supervise, supervise, supervise! Puppies should not be left unattended unless confined to the crate
  • If you catch your puppy having an accident interrupt and bring to the potty spot (you are supervising, right?)
  • Select the appropriate crate size. Your puppy should have enough space to stand, lay down and turn around in the crate. Too much room too soon and he may potty inside
  • Crate train your puppy and use the crate for sleeping and times when he can’t be supervised
  • Use a leash and tie puppy to your pant loop or a piece of furniture in the room so you can keep a close eye on her
  • Keep a potty chart so you can track your progress
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