From dogs to cats, our animal-loving pet experts answer all of your burning questions. Whether you want to learn about methods to train your new puppy, or to explore healthier dog food recommendations, our top veterinarians and pet trainers are here to help. Browse informed answers from a curated list of board certified experts and specialists on AnyQuestion.
Supplements are a great way to add more nutrition to your dog's diet without any synthetic ingredients. For the best advice on what supplements to give, it is important to speak to a qualified canine nutritionist and homeopath who can provide an individual plan for your dog. Transcript: "Today there are so many supplements that you can give to your dog to help to aid digestion. So if you feed a raw diet or a bath diet you should already be familiar with the amount of supplements that are out there to add to your dog's meal and obviously the different kinds of treats that you can use to offer them more nutritional variety and to make sure that they're getting as many supplements as possible and obviously doing this in a controlled and safe way. So for example certain bones contain collagen so a lot of raw feeders like to give chicken feet as an add-on because this is natural collagen and it's also as natural as possible and it's not synthetic. If you're worried about your dog's nutrition and what supplements it is that you can give them I highly recommend speaking to a qualified canine nutritionist alongside a canine homeopath as well who's licensed so that your dog's individual needs can be met as an individual and you make sure that you're not going to be giving them anything that's going to further cause any more digestive distress because digestion and the dog's digestive system is so important for their behaviour and when we see changes in behaviour this can be because of digestion and because the gut microbiome has been altered. So it's really important that you speak to somebody who really knows what it is that they're talking about and unfortunately this isn't pet stores or pet shops it is qualified canine nutritionists and qualified canine homeopaths as well because these guys are experts in their field relating to nutrition and to supplements and they will learn so much about your individual dog and then they will break it down for you as to the supplements that are going to be beneficial and helpful to your dog because as we know there is too much of a good thing and we don't want to harm the dog in any way."
Dogs chew shoes because they have a powerful sense of smell and want to feel close to us. This behavior can be driven by separation anxiety, fear or teething. It is important to speak to a vet and a qualified behaviorist to identify what is driving the behavior and understand that the dog is not trying to punish you. Transcript: "This is a great question as to why your dog chews up your shoes. It can be just because you left them out and you did not put them away. So puppies and dogs are opportunists and they will just grab something that happens to be there. It isn't personal to you, they're not trying to punish you. The shoes can be tasty and unfortunately humans are smelly and their feet are particularly smelly and dogs have a very powerful sense of smell and they also enjoy tasting things and feeling close to us. So many times owners will say that they found their dog sleeping on their pillow because we breathe onto our pillows and they smell of us directly from our breath and our feet also emit a lot of sweat which means that our dog is going to have a field day with feeling extremely close to us. This is why your dog chews your shoes. So they want to feel close to us so we need to start looking at the emotion driving their behavior. Whether the dog isn't feeling securely attached to us. So this could be that they chew your shoes because you've gone out with your separation anxiety. It could be that they're feeling distressed or nervous or fearful about something or it could be that they're teething. So it's really really important to speak to a holistic vet or an integrated vet alongside a qualified and accredited behaviorist as well so that you can identify what is going on with your dog or your puppy and help them in the best way possible. But it's important to be mindful and understand that they aren't doing this to punish you. They aren't doing it out of spite or jealousy or any of those human emotions. They are just doing it because they want to be close to you. So if they want to be close to you, you then need to start breaking it down and understanding the why behind the behavior and also it's really important to be mindful that just like a child you put your shoes out of the way and anything else that you do not want to be chewed."
When training a dog, it is important to first address the behavior you want to teach and set criteria. You should also focus on the dog's anatomy and keep the training fun. Make a plan and reflect afterwards. Transcript: "This is a brilliant question about how you should structure a dog training session. It's really important that when you're going to be doing a dog training session that you map out what it is first that you want from your dog. So by this we mean that you address the behavior. So what is it that you're looking to teach your dog? Then we set a criteria. So this means, for example, if we're going to teach our dog a trick and it's a sit pretty, for example, which traditionally you may know it as beg. So if we're going to teach that behavior, then we then have to map out what it is we're going to teach in that training session. So first of all, we need a fundamental understanding that to teach a sit pretty, for example, the dog's core muscles need to be strong. We're not going to teach a sit pretty in that first session or maybe even for a few months. What we can do is start shaping the behavior. So obviously your first step will be cueing the dog to sit. I'm rewarding the sit. And then you start asking for a paw. So the dog is putting a little bit of weight onto your arm and their core is slowly starting to build. And then you'd write down afterwards how the session went, what you can improve on. And then you need to be mindful about obviously the dog's anatomy. So then you make a plan over months to work with your dog that they can offer this behavior without causing any muscular damage to their core. Because otherwise they're going to find the behavior aversive and they're not going to want to do it anymore. And it's important as well as mindful that we keep training fun. So when it's not fun anymore, we stop just like gambling. But we want to stop before it stops being fun so that we don't adversely affect the dog or the experience that they're having from the training session. And so that you also don't get disheartened as well. So make a plan and then reflect on the plan afterwards."
When training your dog, it's important to remember that dogs have the brain of a two to five year old child and keep training sessions to a maximum of 5 minutes. This will help ensure that your dog is able to enter into deep sleep where their brain stores the memories from the training session. Keeping training sessions short and fun will also help ensure that your dog remains eager to learn and participate in the training. Transcript: "So when looking at how much time you should spend a day training your dog, what is it that you want your dog to learn? Do you want your dog to just be a companion, that you both have a fantastic relationship, or is it that you're trying to train a behaviour that you've addressed as a problem? So this could be lunging and barking on the lead when you go out towards other dogs, it could be fearful behaviour, it could be that you've got an agenda for you need to train something to adapt your life and your dog's life, because when we look at dog behaviours it is essentially to adapt the dog to our life to make our lives easier. And then obviously when we're doing behavioural modification we're looking at traumas and the negative experiences that a dog might have had to change that driving emotion. So it's really important that when we do look at training, whether it's a behaviour modification plan or if it's just training or if it's something to suit our lifestyles that we keep training to like five minutes a day. You may want to do this like three times a day at five minutes a go, but it's important to remember that dogs have the brain of a two to a five year old child and then once they've done a training session with you it's important that they are able to enter into deep sleep because during deep sleep their brain is altered and their brain is storing the memories from the training and the learning that has taken place so that you can repeat this training again in the future with success. That's really important that you are mindful of this and how dog training works exactly and obviously keeping training sessions to a minimum so that they remain fun, the dog's eager to learn and they want to participate in the training because there's nothing worse than a dog who's getting frustrated and then feeling negative because they don't understand what it is that you're asking of them or they are feeling tired."
Service animals are trained through a variety of methods depending on the country and financial circumstances. People who cannot afford to pay charities thousands of pounds often choose to owner train, which involves a professional helping the guardian train the dog to do mitigating tasks in the home and also public access work. Once both the guardian and the dog feel ready, an external verification is done to assess both the mitigating tasks and public access work. Transcript: "So the training journey for a service animal to become a service animal is very different across the board as to your country and also whether the puppy is being raised by a puppy raiser with a charity. The other problem that we have with this is that charities have a very very very long waiting list of years and they can also be incredibly expensive so for people with disabilities we simply just don't have the money to be paying charities thousands upon thousands of pounds. Because obviously we are inhibited by our disability anyway. Many of us choose instead to owner train and that's where professionals like me come in so then I can help people to train their assistance dog and I'm obviously qualified in this to do so. So we help owners to train their dogs themselves and we call this owner training and then what will happen is once the dog has learnt to do mitigating tasks for the guardian and they have also learnt public access work and they both feel ready which is normally between 18 months to 2 years. We can then get a colleague to externally verify them so what this means is that we will get a colleague who has not been training with us to independently assess them with their mitigating tasks. So they will ask them to run through a series of exercises in the home and then also for public access work as well so that's making sure that the dog can focus out in the environment and fully support their handler as they need and obviously not get distracted in grocery stores or supermarkets and not get overwhelmed or engaged with reactive dogs for example. So they can ignore all of this so they can help their handler at all times and mitigate their disability."