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  • Preventing Aggression: 6 Tips For Socialized Puppies


    With the new year approaching, there will be an abundance of cute new puppies. It is important to know the proper etiquette when it comes to socializing puppies. When thinking about aggressive dogs, one might first imagine a pit bull, rottweiler or german shepherd. But their bad reputations have come from a great deal of misinformation and hype being fed to the general public over the years.

    Many people might be surprised to learn that members of these particular breeds aren’t amongst the most aggressive. Smaller dogs can be just as mean or overbearing as larger ones, it depends on many factors, including training and socialization techniques.

    While any dog has the potential to be aggressive, according to their unique breed characteristics many canines can be unfriendly to unfamiliar dogs. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to socialize your pet, especially when they’re at their youngest.

    #1 – Start Young

    Just like human children, those formidable years from infancy through becoming a toddler, are crucial to their psychological and social development. For dogs, there are two stages thought to be the most important time to begin socialization techniques. The first comes at 3-5 weeks of age and the second at 6-12 weeks.

    Although the first time period is likely out of our control, it’s important for puppies to stay with their mother and other siblings during this important bonding and development stage. This is when these young dogs establish a “pecking order,” as the more dominant one steps up as a “leader of the pack” and the more submissive dogs will follow.

    #2 – Picking Your Puppy

    If you’re choosing a puppy and you’re able to see them with their litter-mates, you’ll likely be able to tell who is, in fact, the leader of the pack. If this will be your only dog, the strongest of the bunch be likely be more outgoing and playful. On the other hand, if you’re adding another dog to your family, you should look for one that is more on the submissive side. Conversely, many people prefer the runt of the litter and believe them to have the potential for the most personality.

    #3 – People Pleasing

    Puppies are naturally curious and are likely to warm up to just about anyone, but if they do shy away from a new person in your home, politely ask your guest to take a seat and ignore the animal completely. Trying to force an instant bond is not the route to take in this particular situation. Instead, give the dog some space and let them make the first move, on their own terms and time schedule … they’ll come around … literally.

    #4 – Other Dogs

    Your best bet for a good first encounter with another dog is with an older female, especially one who has given birth in the past. They’re much more likely to be accepting and affectionate with your youngster. When you do put another animal in the presence of your pup, begin by holding your dog and letting them view the newcomer from a distance at first.

    When they begin to interact, stay close, but only intervene if there’s trouble brewing. Dogs will naturally explore each other with plenty of sniffing and could begin to play. Again, only step in if there is aggressive growling or biting, but even a few little nips are safe.

    #5 – Other Animals

    If possible, try to introduce your puppy to many different breeds and types of other animals, especially cats. They’ll learn that other animals are their friends and not prey, which means they’ll be less likely to chase felines in the future. If you don’t have a cat, see if you can borrow one from a friend or family member who may have one that’s already dog-friendly.

    #6 – Children

    Start with older children who know how to behave around dogs and work your way down to the younger brood. If you have children of your own, teach them how to behave around animals and be sure they understand they shouldn’t assume puppies want to play 24/7. Children should also know to let sleeping dogs lie and don’t bother them while they’re eating.

    In closing, after the ice has been broken, so to speak, especially during this formative time, introduce your puppy to as many different kinds of people, sights and sounds as humanly possible. This will make them more confident and less fearful in the long run.

    *Written by Amber Kingsley

  • Does Your Dog Have Anxiety?


    The majority of dogs seemingly have little to worry about. With humans providing them with practically everything they need, it’s hard to imagine that dogs would have anything to cause them anxiety. We humans tend to think of anxiety as a human-only problem, the result of our daily stresses over matters such as our careers, our relationships, and our fears about the meaning of life. Believe it or not, it’s surprisingly common for dogs to feel anxious, too. Even though dogs may never have to worry about paying their bills, maintaining a marriage, or achieving complete satisfaction with their lives, they can experience nervousness that can affect their behavior.

    It’s important for dog owners to understand this, because anxiety can cause a number of problems for them and their dogs. A dog that has anxiety may have difficulty eating, damage the house when left alone, or pick fights with other dogs. Since no dog owner wants to deal with these types of behavioral issues, it’s vital for dog owners to understand the potential causes of anxiety in their dogs, how to prevent it, and what treatments exist.

    What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?

    Anxiety can be the result of a fear, a dog’s personality, or age-related conditions. For example, one of the most common sources of anxiety in dogs is the fear of unfamiliar or unpleasant locations, such as a new home, or the vet’s office. Separation anxiety is another extremely common trigger, as dogs often don’t know how to cope with being left alone for extended periods. Older dogs may experience cognitive disorders as they age, leaving them confused and forgetful. This makes them more prone to anxiety.

    How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Anxiety?

    Any sudden change in your dog’s behavior may be the result of anxiety. In general, though, there are some definitive warning signs that can indicate your dog may need some help. Some of these signs can be glaringly obvious, but others might not be noticeable right away. Here are some of the most common behavioral changes that may indicate your dog is experiencing anxiety:

    • Destructive behavior. A dog that is feeling anxious may lash out at its surroundings in an attempt to escape. Your dog may try to chew through a door or rip furniture apart.
    • Housebreaking issues. Even if a dog is housebroken, it may urinate or defecate inside the house if it is feeling anxious. This behavior typically is associated with separation anxiety.
    • Repetitive behavior. Pacing around the room, overgrooming the same body part, or other repeated behaviors could be signs that your dog is nervous about something, especially if the behavior doesn’t seem to have any apparent purpose.
    • Aggression. A dog that snarls and snaps at other dogs or even people may be experiencing some form of anxiety. Growling and barking are telltale signs of aggressive behavior.

    How Can I Prevent Anxiety in My Dog?

    Although dogs can have anxiety no matter what, there are some steps dog owners can take that can prevent anxiety and give their dogs the coping skills they need to deal with stress. These include:

    • Obedience training. Giving your dog a foundation of strong obedience training can help create a stronger bond between you and your dog. Ultimately, helping your dog feel more secure.
    • Socialization. When dogs are often exposed to people and animals that are new to them, it can help them feel more at ease when they encounter different people and new situations in the future.
    • Learning to read body language. Your dog’s body language often is the first sign that it is experiencing anxiety, so it’s important for dog owners to learn to read it. If your dog has a specific type of body language when it begins to feel nervous, such as tucking its tail between its legs, excessive panting or drooling, it may be easier to identify the situations that are causing stress.
    • Avoiding stress. It may be possible to simply avoid the situations that cause your dog to experience anxiety. For example, if you know that fireworks cause your dog to experience anxiety attacks, it might be best to keep it inside on the Fourth of July.

    A dog’s life is often pampered with many products to make pets happy and comfortable. Yet even with the most doting owner, a dog may still experience anxiety. That anxiety can lead to serious behavioral issues unless they are addressed, so it’s up to dog owners to identify anxiety in their dogs and help them overcome it.

    Written by Stephanie N. Blahut

    Stephanie is Director of Marketing for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.