Month: August 2015

Common Behavioural Problems: Tail Chasing

Common Behavioural Problems: Tail Chasing

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Tail chasing can be a harmless behaviour; however, when performed regularly, and encouraged, can become a behavioural problem (and even damaging to the health of your dog).

Tail chasing (see video) often starts when the dog is young. When you have a puppy, and it is playing and bouncing around and being adorable and silly – and it chases that waggy thing behind it, and the pup is running in circles trying to catch that wild tail! You sit watching this cute display; cooing and talking to the puppy in your excited voice (you know the one I mean)! This, to your puppy, is encouraging the behaviour.

Try, despite how adorable it can be in a young dog, to discourage this behaviour. If you don’t, this behaviour may lead to obsessive compulsive behaviour or damaging attention seeking behaviour in your adult dog. The word compulsive is used to describe the repetitive, irresistible urge to perform a behaviour. Discourage this behaviour as a puppy, and throughout the life of your dog, to reduce the likelihood of this behaviour problem occurring.

Adult dogs with obsessive tenancies can become obsessed with catching their tail, and if they do, they can obsessively chew. The behaviour does not necessarily have a purpose to it, however the dog feels the need to perform it anyway – even past the point of pain. This can be severely damaging to the health of the dog, as obsessive chewing can occur past the point of pain and cause series damage (which can be a behavioural problem in and of itself).  A dog who repeatedly performs a compulsive behaviour may find that it gets in the way of normal activity – normal life. Tail chasing becomes the primary need in the life of the dog – so much so that the dog may lose weight, due to missing meals performing the behaviour; the dog may become lethargic/ exhausted, due to staying awake more to perform the behaviour; the dog my become anxious when not performing the behaviour.

Tail Chasing - Open Source Image
Tail Chasing – Open Source Image

This type of behaviour is more likely to develop in dogs whose living conditions cause stress/ anxiety. Dogs in situations where they are stressed; which can contribute to the compulsive disorders developing. Such as; dogs who spend a lot of time tied up, or confined to living in small areas, or a dog experiencing social issues – long separation from a companion or discord in social relationships, for example. Dogs with the opportunity to perform normal dog behaviour, or do not get the chance to socialise with people and other animals can succumb to obsessive, compulsive behaviour. Alternatively, there could be an underlying medical issue causing the behaviour.

Seek advice from your vet if you suspect that your dog has an obsessive behaviour – your vet may refer you to a dog behaviourist. Your vet will also be able to tell you if the behaviour is being caused by a health issue, and treat any health problems caused by the behaviour.

Image is open source, Google images. The video is a YouTube video, from the search result of “dog tail chasing”. The image and video are NOT my own.

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International Assistance Dog Week: 2nd-8th August 2015

International Assistance Dog Week: 2nd-8th August 2015

Assistance dog week is about recognising the hard work and effort put in by assistance dogs on a daily basis; and appreciating the new lease on life they give to those they assist.

Assistance dogs are not just a companion; but a carer. The person needs to put so much trust in their assistance dog, just to do the daily activities that most of us take for granted!

I know from being led around an obstacle course, by a brilliant guide dog, at a dog show; trusting this assistant dog to keep me safe, was really hard. Obviously time builds up trust; but having the courage to put your trust in these assistant animals is something the people they assist have to do. Once the bond and trust is established, it’s well worth it (at least in my opinion)!

Me being led by a guide dog

Guide dogs assist blind people; they learn how to think of leading around, and looking out for, a person – someone a lot taller than themselves. Obstacles that the dog could easily manoeuvre has be thought about by the dog from a human point of view; can my human navigate this obstacle? If yes, they will proceed. If no, they will find an alternate route. Knowing hazards and dangers that we take in the stride of daily life, need to be learned by the dog. Knowing the daily activities, that would not normally pose a hazard in daily life, need to be learnes how to navigate. Things such as; knowing when it’s safe to cross the road, standing a safe distance from the edge of a train platform, knowing how to get to and from home from various locations, and much more.

Mostly it is the Labrador that takes on this role, also commonly used is the Alsatian. For blind people with allergies to dog fur, the Labradoodle is being considered, as it does not moult.

Guide dogs wear bright yellow harnesses with a metal bar for the blind person to hold, when the dog is working. When a guide dog is just on a lead, it knows it’s off duty for the time being.

Hearing dogs assist deaf people around the home, and out and about. Hearing dogs learn various visual displays to signal different noises – the deaf person needs to learn what signal means what, so the lesson can take the appropriate action. For instance, the signal for the doorbell going and the signal for the fire alarm going off – not 2 signals you want to mix up!

Hearing dogs wear a plumb/ purple harness with a lead. Most commonly, hearing dogs are (Cocker) Spaniels, due to their brilliant hearing. However, the Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel x Poodle) is increasingly being used these days; beneficial for deaf people with dog allergies, due to not moulting.

Dogs for the disabled can be any breed really; often larger breeds such as, Labrador or Golden Retriever as larger breeds can reach things higher up. However, your pet dog can become a Dog for the disabled, if you suddenly require one, and would prefer your current companion; the smallest I have seen in this instance was a Miniature Poodle.

Dogs for the disabled do everything required for the person; from helping with the shopping to helping with laundry to just opening a door.

There is no doubt how much these dogs help and enrich the lives of those they assist – and we’ll worthy of a week of recognition!

This Assistance Dogs Short Documentary video is part of a documentary, which just gives a better idea of how assistance dogs help the lives of those they assist. This is not my video; the link is to a public YouTube video.

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