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How To Cure Unwanted and Excessive Barking

Although the nuisance of noisy dogs is an obvious problem amongst homeowners, are anti-bark collars just a quick fix to a more deep-routed, long term dog behavioural problem?

Contributed with the help of Karen L Overall of the Centre for Neurobiology and Behaviour, Psychiatry Department, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

There are many causes for this behaviour. Separation anxiety, craving for attention and even the doorbell can cause the most placid dogs to bark inappropriately.

When trying to discourage inappropriate barking it is important that you know the reason for the barking. Some dogs bark at the doorbell in protection of their pack (the family).


It is important not to discourage the desire to protect the family, but allow the dog to associate the doorbell with good things. Practice this by inviting friends over to ring the doorbell. Correct any barks with a firm ‘no’ and allow your friend to reward the dog when he resists temptation to ‘warn you of intruders’.

Dogs that suffer with separation anxiety should be treated for that before any barking issues are addressed as barking is a symptom of it rather than a result.

The key to dealing with dogs that bark for attention is patience and the ability to be on hand to reward good behaviour. It is ineffective to reward a dog for simply not barking, unless that reward is an alternative to the undesirable behaviour.


Again, your friends can help with this. Get a friend to sit with the dog as you ‘leave the house’. Your friend can distract the dog with the treat and also positively reinforce the no barking rule.

Only return to your dog when he has successfully completed a designated period of not barking. As soon as the dog barks, your friend should leave the room.

Then try it without your friend. Simply leave a few treats with the dog on his own. Do not return to him if he barks. If he continues to bark return to the dog, issue a ‘no’ and leave, offering no attention or physical contact.

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Money Munching Dog Needs a New Home

Many people say that taking on a dog 'eats' into their finances, but the staff at Dogs Trust in Uddingston who've been looking after a certain cash hungry hound have experienced the literal sense of that thought.

Meet Otis, a 13 month old Collie / Rottweiler crossbreed who arrived at the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre in Uddingston recently.

Otis’ former owner handed him in after struggling to care for him due to his size and the responsibility of owning a dog. Sadly many people get a dog without really considering the commitment and responsibility involved; many dogs live for 15 years and can cost around £8,000, and Dogs Trust urges people to think about the commitment needed to care for a dog throughout his whole life before getting one.


Otis is a strong dog, full of fun and energy; but he also has a taste for the richer things in life. Yes, Otis has the unusual habit of eating money. On his first day at the Rehoming Centre the canine carers were bemused to find 4 £1 coins in his pooch poop!

Sandra Downie, Dogs Trust Glasgow Rehoming Centre Manager, comments:

“Otis is a real character and we couldn’t believe it when we started finding money in his kennel when we came to clear it out. Needless to say there has been plenty of staff offering to clean his kennel now! On a more serious note Otis is looking for a new loving home with owners who are experienced with such energetic breeds and also one where money and other valuables aren’t left lying around!”

Otis is house trained and has experience of children but would be best suited to children over 8 years old. He also needs a home with a secure garden, and strong physical owners who are able to keep up with him and tire him out; rather than the other way round!

Dogs Trust Glasgow is the newest addition to the network of 17 Dogs Trust Rehoming Centres across the UK. Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and cares for over 14,000 stray or abandoned dogs every year.

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Canine Bloat - The Silent But Deadly Canine Killer

Bloat. What a horrible word. What a horrible feeling, to be bloated. What’s bloat got going for it? A bloated body is not too pleasant. A bloated ego isn’t particularly attractive either. OK, a bloated bank balance is at least one desirable association with this generally disagreeable word. A dog with bloat, now that’s really unpleasant and in many cases, tragically fatal.

What is Canine Bloat?

Canine bloat is a build up of gas in the stomach which is unable to be released by the dog’s intestinal system. Bloat with Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists.

Bloat, sometimes referred to as a twisted gut is a more serious problem in large breed dogs. When combined with the difficulties of GDV, bloat is a leading cause of death of dogs, second only to cancer. That’s just HOW serious the condition is.

Worryingly, the exact cause of bloat is not commonly know. It’s thought that excessive eating or drinking a lot of water followed by immediate vigorous exercise could certainly be a major contributing factor.

Exercise can cause food or fluid in the stomach to produce a build up of gas. The severity of the condition is increased when the stomach twists, causing the inlet and outlet of the stomach as well as blood vessels which supply the stomach to become constricted at both ends.

As a result, the constriction will cause the stomach tissue to die and in a very short time, the stomach becomes restricted of nutrients and oxygen. If not treated, the dog will die.

The Symptoms To Watch Out For

We’re all hypochondriacs. We read a medical book and then have the uncanny knack of diagnosing ourselves with everything from tennis elbow to the Ebola virus. We’re just as anxious when it comes to our pets and no doubt every dog owner will recognise some of the symptoms of bloat from time to time. Usually we say, don’t worry unduly or bother the vet with misguided apprehension about our pet’s help. 


With bloat, we make the exception. Early detection is absolutely critical to the dog’s chance of survival. Never be too coy to at the very least call your vet and discuss possible symptoms, which are:

Anxiety and restlessness
Distended or bloated tummy (the stomach may even sound like a water-filled barrel when tapped)
Attempting to vomit or actual vomiting
Excessive drooling
Whining or general lethargy
Lack of appetite
Pale gums, dull eye colour
Increase in heart rate.
Difficulty in breathing or movement

The Causes

There are several possible contributing factors leading to bloat such as

Stress and worry can create a build up of gasses in the stomach
Eating or drinking too fast
Exercise before or immediately after eating
Having a barrel-like chest (think Rottweiler, Mastiff, Bernese Mountain Dog etc)
Hereditarily contracted

Which Dogs are Most at Risk?

Canine bloat and GDV as a general rule tends to affect larger dogs but smaller dogs are still at risk. It is thought that some dogs are genetically more at risk than others and it’s always a good idea to as the breeder who supplied your dog if there is a history of bloat in the line.

Though bloat can occur in puppies, it is very rare and the condition usually occurs in adult dogs. Male dogs are more likely to suffer from bloat than female dogs and these breeds in particular are thought to be the most vulnerable to the condition:

German Shepherd
Great Dane
Standard Poodle
Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dog
Irish Setter
Old English Sheepdog
Golden Retriever
Irish Wolfhound
St. Bernards
Labrador Retriever


Bloat is an incredibly serious and sever problem. If you suspect your dog may have even the slightest symptoms of bloat, don’t hesitate to contact your vet immediately. Every second is crucial and can be the difference between life and death.

If picked up early enough, initial treatment will involve inserting a tube into the dog’s stomach wall to release excess gas and if necessary, the vet may need to operate in an attempt to untwist the stomach. Consequent treatment may involve treating shock, dehydration, fatigue, and other complications resulting from the distension of the stomach.


As there are so many possible causes for bloat, the exact one’s still largely unknown, it is very difficult to prevent bloat in individual dogs. Each case is unique and must be treated on an individual basis. If you have a dog that may be at significant risk there are some measures you can take to minimise the risks.

Do not overfeed.
Feed smaller meals through the day if possible rather than one large one in the evening
Do not allow your dog to drink large amounts of water immediately after eating a large meal.
Try not to allow your dog to exercise vigorously either directly before or, more crucially, immediately after eating. Allow the food in their system to digest a little or let them have a short toilet break on a lead.
As is often the case, arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible about your dog and their lineage if at all possible could ultimately be a life saver. Be prepared, be aware and never, ever underestimate the seriousness of the condition.

Copyright © K9 Media Ltd. All rights reserved.

Canine Massage and Stretching - A Practical Introduction

There is a growing interest in various complimentary methods of pet health care. Massage and stretching is one such practice which could considerably improve the quality of your dog’s life and may enable your pet to enjoy the natural agility of youth for many more years of its life.

As a canine physiotherapist I treat dogs with muscle, tendon, joint and ligament related problems and injuries.

My activities include a number of different forms of treatment including electrotherapy, acupuncture, laser treatments, massage and stretching.

An important part of my job is to inform and improve knowledge about the everyday care of dogs in areas such as hygiene, coat and paws, nutrition, exercise and training. Massage and stretching can considerably improve the quality of your dog’s life.

The dog may be able to enjoy the natural agility of youth for many more years of its life. Massage and stretching are a complement to daily exercise, obedience training and diet and are suitable for all dogs regardless of breed, age or size.

Many dog owners invest considerable time in activating their dogs by obedience training, seeking activities, tracking and protection exercises at training grounds, out in the countryside or in the forest. We might present dogs at shows and judge their appearance and breed attributes.

These activities allow us to spend time with our dogs while also keeping them physically and mentally alert. We also spend time to improve the everyday care of our dogs in areas such as hygiene, coat and paws, and nutrition.

We easily spend a considerable amount of time and money every year on the caring and training of our dogs. We do tend to “forget” a simple and low cost preventive treatment. That is massage and stretching. The cost of massage and stretching is low and is a great and important investment in our dog’s health. The knowledge of massage and stretching cost so little but gives so much.

Let me take an example from a “normal” day. We all agree that we do feel better  when we are exercising. Maybe we go out for that weekly jogging round and of course we bring our best friend with us for company. When we get to the woods we do not dash out of the car and run for our lives a couple of hundred metres and then stop, making some short explosive rushes and then stop again. After that we run as hard as we can again for some more hundred metres. And so on.

No, of course not, you say. We are starting of with a walk and then after a while we will start jogging and maybe we after a while will increase our tempo to running. When we have finished

our 3 or 5 kilometres round we slow down to jogging tempo for a while and then slowing down further to walking. And when we have stopped we use some minutes for stretching our sore muscles. I think we all can relate to this. We will feel much better the next day after some stretching. And then of course who wouldn't like some massage afterwards as well.

Well, that was us. How are we treating our best friend in a similar situation, maybe at the training ground or out in the woods for a longer stroll? How many times haven't we just released our dog and then it has taken of like a tornado. Maybe we have thrown balls or sticks for it to catch and so on. Honestly, why are we not as generous to our dog as we are to ourselves? It is so easy to do the same procedure with our dog.

How to do it!

First remember that the dog should have warmed up before starting the exercise. I also strongly recommend that you allow your dog to wind down after the exercise before any stretching activities.

Here is a check list that could be used before the exercise.

Let the dog walk slowly for a while and then increase the tempo for 2-3 minutes.
Let the dog trott for 2-3 minutes.
Let the dog gallop for one minute.
Then let the dog make some short explosive moves.
Let the dog wind down a little by going back to trotting and then walking.

Warming up does not tire the dog but rather increases blood circulation and warm up the muscles ensuring that the joints are lubricated and more supple. The dog is now ready to perform. After the warm up you could also easily test your dog’s mobility using the eight most common stretching grips. You should be sensitive to your dog’s signals. The dog should not experience any discomfort. If it does, don’t hesitate to contact the vet.

After completing the exercise let the dog wind down and then carefully do some stretching exercises. And when you come home reward the dog with massage and you will get a happy performing dog ready for new challenges. Massage and stretching is an essential and low cost investment in your dog’s health and future competitions.



Massage is by far the best treatment for reducing muscle tension and the recovering period is reduced. You can progress faster with tougher training if you integrate massage and stretching because the muscles are assisted in the work of increasing the absorption of nutrients and the removal of lactic acid. Massage also extends the tissues and muscles we are unable to reach through stretching. Massage and stretching will give you a relaxed and better performing dog.

“The greater part of the pressure you exert should be applied by the flat hand although your thumb and fingers are also engaged in manipulation.” 


Stretching is when you extend an extremity towards it’s ultimate position, in other words you separate the muscle’s root and insertion, holding this position for a moment. With stretching you work up good mobility in the muscle and around the joints and you also reduce the pressure on the joints. I think that we should pay greater attention to assessing mobility to encourage the sort of care that can spare dogs unnecessary injuries in the future. A well-functioning dog has retained its natural elasticity and suppleness.

“Hold the dog’s elbow with one hand, grasping the wrist with the other. Move the leg forward and upwards, stretching the elbow joint and the flexor muscles of the foreleg (shoulder joint)." 

Massage and stretching are an essential and low cost investment in your dog’s health and will give you a happy and healthy canine friend. As a dog owner you can massage and stretch your dog’s muscles regularly. This enables your dog to maintain good health longer through life and improves the quality of your dog’s life. The risk of injury is substantially reduced and you may be able to detect changes in your dog’s health before they can be seen. So why don’t you try it?

You will see that your dog will want a massage and will no longer be content with random rubbing and neither will you.


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