Dogs in the Andaman Islands

IMG_2409 copyThis past November I had the pleasure to go to the Andaman Islands which are a group of islands off the coast of southern India. Going to the Andamans is kind of like taking a journey back in a time machine. The islands are mostly uninhabited and many of those that do have people on them are almost primitive. I spent about 3 days on Havelock Island and watched how the dogs lived on the island. Most groups of dogs that I saw seemed to be families living together. Studies over the last few years suggest that the idea of a pack of dogs is really just a “family” of dogs.There appeared to be two different groups of dogs here—one that was living amongst the natives and one that seemed to be living a much more isolated existence.

I tried to help this dog but he ran away when I approached him

I tried to help this dog but he ran away when I tried to approach him

I witnessed a turf battle between the two groups. One dog lived in a territory right by my cabin. I would hear him bark every night to keep other dogs away. He was very protective of his turf. In the afternoon on my second day, I heard a dogfight going on from inside my cabin and ran to discover a horrific sight. The dog that l had heard barking every night had taken a huge chunk of flesh off the head of an intruding dog. I tried my best to help the injured dog but could not get near him. As I pursued him, he ran away from me.

IMG_2432 copyDogs in the market (or town) are shooed away and seen mostly as pests. It is not the norm to see these Indian natives treat these dogs with much compassion. However, I did witness some exceptions. Shop keepers and street vendors will typically have a resident street dog that lies on the stoop outside the shop waiting for left overs that may or may not come their way. These resident street dogs are very wise while at the same time a bit leery. I met one outside a wonderful restaurant and tried to approach her. However, she would only let the restaurant owner pet her. They had established trust over the years and although she certainly was not the restaurant owner’s pet, she viewed him as a friend.

When I told the natives I was here to study the dogs on the island, most people could not understand why I would be interested in these dogs. These people are far off from viewing the dog as part of the family. The dogs remain as they have for thousands and thousands of years—scavengers that live among the people.



Not the Best Way to Introduce Dogs!


I took this picture recently in Amsterdam at a local organic market. Lots of dogs about. Look at how these dogs are being introduced. The dogs are being loaded up by their owners as they hold them tight onto the leash and by the collar. This could have been a recipe for disaster.The dog on the left is definitely a bit more “forward”. Look at that stare! His owner is holding that collar with only one finger! The dog on the right is doing a “look away”,showing reversed body pressure and basically saying “no problem pal, I’m cool!, just chill”.

Polite Dog Greeting

Polite Dog Greeting

It is always better to give dogs more slack in the leash and let them by-pass the face to face and get right to each others butts. That’s a friendly doggie greeting after all!

One of the Weirdest Appointments I have Ever Experienced!

dog-statue-lawn-ornament-animal-statue-sitting-bulldog-23-l-x-16-w-x-20-h-300x300Last week I went to a lesson for a male bulldog named Patton. Sarah and Jack had bought Patton when he was 8 weeks old and had him neutered at around 9 months of age.  When I got to the house, Sarah and Jack explained to me that Patton had a very peculiar behavior that he would do throughout the day, especially when Jack (who was a police officer) was at work. They said that they had called me to to fix a very disgusting behavior, as it was very upsetting to Sarah.

Are you ready for this???? Patton would sit facing Sarah and he would get an erection as he stared at her.  Sarah explained that often he would continue by licking himself.  OK, I am sorry….I usually never write about such things, but I just could not help myself here.

This was the most bazaar behavioral problem I had ever been asked to fix. Sarah wanted me to teach Patton to turn his back to Sarah when he was exposing his full Monty. How in the world was I going to teach this dog to do this? I explained that this is a normal canine behavior.  We have all heard the joke, “why do dogs lick their balls?? Because they can!” However in this case I don’t feel it was about pleasuring himself and I also didn’t share Sarah’s interpretation that her dog was a pervert and was doing this on purpose. Sometimes neutered dogs will get erections when they get excited over certain events (going for a ride in the car, going hunting, going to doggie daycare), however this was not really an erection, but the sheath pulling back, exposing the penis. The anatomy of Patton seemed to be the basic issue here. When Patton would sit, his knees would spread. By seperating his knees the skin in his groin (which was a bit tight), would pull the sheath back from the penis, exposing his phallus.  With the penis exposed, Patton would lick it, to encourage it to retract.  So unfortunately there was not much I could do for these clients, except to try and get them both to understand that what Patton was doing was disgustingly normal for a male dog!



Dog Gone Smart’s Advanced Technologies Keep Pets Clean and Odor Free

Isn't technology beautiful?

logoPets can be a one of the biggest contributors to smell, dirt and allergens in the home. When it comes to odor, the biggest contributor is the oil in the animal’s coat or fur that gets on fabrics and then bacteria attacks it. Another disgusting but true fact is that dogs will also release their anal glands on rugs and furniture as a way of marking or when they have irritation. Of course, an indoor cat that eliminates inside the cat litter pan will not only create odor, but may also track the litter through the house upon exiting the pan. If not cleaned up properly, pet mistakes will leave an odor of urine and feces in carpets, tile floors as well as dog beds and furniture. Dogs and cats will also track dirt, water and mud from outside and into the house. Shedding is always an issue when it comes to a clean home—hence we are now seeing the popularity of hypoallergenic dogs and dogs that do not shed. Many of these are the new popular designer breeds we are seeing in the pet segment.

Repelz It FINAL LogoDog Gone Smart is one of the industry leaders in seeking out the most advanced technologies to solve many of the common pet problems we face today. Our chief concern is to help homeowners maintain a clean and odor-free environment. Our fabrics are finished with an invisible technology called Repelz-it™. Repelz-it™ Nanoprotection helps prevent liquids, dirt and coat oil from sticking to our fabrics. Repelz-it™ also uses a state-of-the-art bacteriostatic that inhibits the spread of odor-causing bacteria. So, when you use one of Dog Gone Smart’s beds, mats or jackets for your dog, the product, as well as your house, is more likely to stay clean and odor free for years.

Untitled-1Using an advanced microfiber wicking technology, Dog Gone Smart’s Dirty Dog Doormats™ absorb the dirt, water and mud off your dog’s paws as they come from outside into the house. Not only do these mats look attractive, but also we are seeing people use them as bathroom mats as well as resting places for their pets.

Dog Gone Smart recently introduced the Cat Litter Mat that uses the same advanced microfiber technology as the Dirty Dog Doormat™. The mat acts like a magnet, trapping the cat litter off the cat’s paws and into the microfibers. Now Cat litter messes throughout the house are a thing of the past.

Dog Gone Smart is always improving on their technology and trying to stay on the forefront of new technologies. We are continually developing new products to help with cleanliness and odor control. Our Repelz-it™ technology is not only safe to the environment, but also to the end user. There is no other fabric finish repellent technology in the pet industry that is both PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perflourooctane sulphonate) free. These are the carcinogens found in other “stay clean” fabric finishes.

In March 2014 Dog Gone Smart plans to introduce several new innovative products to help keep pets clean and odor free.  More information of all of these products is available at Master Pets.

Using Wee Wee Pads Can Increase the Chances of Your Dog Eating Its Own Feces


Dog using Wee Wee pad inside house

Dogs have a den instinct and will usually not poop in their den. When a female dog has a litter of pups, the mother will usually lick the puppies’ anuses and eat the puppies’ poops in an effort to keep the den area and puppies clean. While this is normal during the whelping period, the female will generally not continue this practice after the puppies are weaned and can move about. Coprophagia (the name given to the act of a dog eating its poop) is unfortunately very common among canines and it is quite natural.

There are many theories as to why dogs do this ranging from poor health issues, to starvation, to it just tastes good. However, one reason that I continually see is when people use wee wee pads in their homes. When you place a Wee Wee pad in your home, you are actually encouraging your dog to go against his natural instincts to keep his den clean. Unfortunately many dogs will poop on the Wee Wee pad and then turn around and eat it in an effort to keep the den clean. So generally I am against using these kinds of pads in the house. I know that many of you use the pads and I am sure many of you also have poop eaters! So if you are thinking of using a Wee Wee pad for your new dog, think again. If you are up in a high rise and are kind of forced to use this type of pad, try putting the Wee Wee pad in an out of the way room that you rarely use. This way the dog will see the defecation area outside his den which should encourage him not to eat it.


It’s Winter Time—Is There Anything I Really Need to Do to Protect My Dog From the Elements?

Many dogs need protection from extreme weather conditions

Many dogs need protection from extreme weather conditions

So…sigh, yes, it’s winter time. The holidays may be over, but the weather outside is still frightful. Cold, wind, snow, all these conditions can make outdoor time for our pets dangerous. A common question I get asked frequently as a canine expert— is there anything I really need to do to protect my dog from the elements? The answer is YES, absolutely!

Sled dogs wearing booties for protection

Sled dogs wearing booties for protection

Dogs, just like humans, need to protect themselves in the winter from extreme weather conditions. Although dogs have fur and hair, this protective layer may not be enough when the weather conditions become extreme. We all have seen pictures of the Nordic breeds of dogs mushing through the snow as they pull the sleds. Unfortunately, not all dogs are suited to survive in this type of weather. If your dog has a thick undercoat, the cold will not affect him as much as some other dogs that don’t.  If you take your hand and go against the grain of the dogs fur and you can see the skin below, chances are your dog has little, if any, undercoat. Dogs like Dobermans, Boxers, smooth haired Dachshunds, Weimaraners and Viszlas are breeds that  do not have undercoats and may require some added protection, especially when the temperatures drop below freezing.

dave in teal aspen parka

Dog Gone Smart’s Aspen Parka

Putting an insulated dog coat on your dog is a great solution, especially if the dog will be outside longer than a few minutes. When buying a dog coat, you want to make sure that the jacket is designed to cover and protect your dog’s underbelly. If you use a harness to walk your dog, make sure the harness hole is where you need it to be before you buy the jacket.

Frosty the Snowdog!

Frosty the Snowdog!

I encounter one of the biggest problems when walking my own dog Dave, seen above wearing Dog Gone Smart’s Aspen Parka. While the jacket keeps his body protected fromthe elements, the snow balls up around his paws and pads making it very uncomfortable for him to walk. If this happens to your dog, have the groomer clip the fur around and between the pads to help prevent this from happening. There are also some great new dog booties on the market that protect your dog from the ice, salt and snow. I like the new booties made by RuffWear. They have a sensible design that protects the dogs’ pads, paws and pasterns, and also give the dog a good grip or “paw hold”.  My kennel manager Debbie owns Bouviers (this is a breed that has a lot of hair around the dogs pads). She swears on Pam, the non-stick product used in cooking. She sprays a little on each of the dogs’ pads before they go outside, and voila, nothing sticks!

Many times housebreaking issues may develop when there is deep snow. Dogs just can’t get out far enough away from the house to eliminate. Make sure you shovel a path to your dog’s favorite potty spot, and also shovel an area for him to eliminate.

When it comes to salting the sidewalks and driveways, be very careful which products you use. Some of the products meant to melt the ice tend to burn your pup’s paws and cause irritation. They also can be toxic if your dog licks his paws. Products like Safe Paw Ice Melter work very well and are non-toxic. I cannot keep enough of this product on my store shelves.

Dogs also tend to not get enough exercise during the winter season. This can lead to boredom and even behavioral issues at home. If you are finding that you just can’t get out and bear the weather, try bringing your pup to an indoor doggie daycare.  At Dog Gone Smart, we are very busy during the snowy season and the dogs get lots of time to run, play and even swim. When the owners pick up their dogs at the end of the day, they are exercised, tired and content.

With some precaution and planning, you can make the cold weather safe for you pets so you can all enjoy a cozy winter!

Family Walking Dog Through Snowy Woodland

Tethering or Chaining Your Dog Outside Is a Bad Idea

Dog on Chain

Dog on Chain

When threatened, all dogs have the natural instinct to fight or flee. This defensive reaction is common to all animals. When you tether or chain a dog up outside, you are eliminating the ability for flight, and are leaving no other option but to build the fight instinct. This usually builds aggressiveness in the dog. Of the approximately 25 fatalities caused by dogs in the USA annually, many of these dogs were left isolated and tethered outside. Almost half of these fatalities were children under the age of 12. Unfortunately kids playing in neighborhoods often are the targeted victims of dogs that are tethered. As the children scream and yell during play, the dogs get “loaded” up. It usually only takes a short time before the dog is lunging at every child that runs by the yard. When the dog breaks the tether or escapes off the chain, the child is the first target.

Dog lunging on chain

Dog lunging on chain

A common practice to make a dog more aggressive for dog fighting or even for protection dogs is to tie them up and antagonize them. By creating almost a cornered response (the dog has no ability to run away), the dog learns very quickly that barking and lunging at the supposed threat makes most people and dogs go away. A dog that leans against its tether is actually being put into an aggressive and threatening body position. The dog is bracing forward and is usually barking. Most other dogs as well as humans will also see this dog as being threatening. Tethered dogs tend to have little social interaction. The dogs become lonely, and then start to bark and create a nuisance.

imagesBy nature, dogs are social animals and thrive on interaction with humans and other dogs. Unfortunately approximately 200,000 dogs are left tethered outside by themselves everyday in the USA.  This inhumane treatment causes otherwise friendly and happy dogs to become bored and lonely which often leads to the development of aggressive behaviors. We need to all do something to stop this treatment of dogs in America. Fortunately, progress is starting to be made. In June of this year (2013) Oregon passed a new law that prohibits dog owners from tethering or chaining dogs up outside. We need to continue to make such progress in other states.

So next time you see a dog chained up outside in your neighborhood….say something! It may actually prevent an injury and will also make the dog’s life much happier.






So, What’s the Secret to Getting a Dog to Play Fetch?

Unknown-1Many people find it very frustrating to teach their dog to play fetch. Often they throw the ball, the dog grabs it and runs away and does not bring it back. I am going to share with you a technique that usually works in solving this common problem.

First of all, you need to buy two squeaky balls that look almost the same. Carry one of the balls in your pocket, occasionally showing your dog this valued ball. Have fun making this ball the best thing in the world. Bounce the ball and then take it quickly away teasing him with it. Always stop ball play and leave him wanting more. Think of the ball as the squirrel your dog “rarely” catches. You control these balls and the access to them. When the dog gets excited and runs to you when you show him your ball, we are ready to teach him how to play fetch

Unknown-3Take both balls and hold one in your pocket and hold the other one in your hand. Squeak the ball in your hand and then throw it in one direction. He will quickly chase and grab the thrown ball, now reach into your pocket and grab the other ball. Call his name and squeak the ball several times. At this point he should run to you carrying the ball you had thrown in his mouth. When he gets to you, tease him with the ball in your hand and squeak it. He should release the ball in his mouth in anticipation of getting the ball you are carrying. As soon as he drops the ball, throw the ball in your hand in the opposite direction of your last toss. You should basically be the monkey in the middle. Never throw the ball over your dog’s head, as this makes him not come in close when retrieving the ball. You want the dog to drop the ball basically at your feet and not back up in anticipation of the next throw. By throwing the ball in the opposite direction of the previous toss, the dog will retrieve the ball very closely.images-2 Repeat throwing a ball, and then picking up the one he has just dropped and squeak it. Do this over and over and pretty soon your dog will get the idea that running to you with the ball in his mouth and dropping it at your feet makes you throw another ball. He gets to have the chase over and over.

Remember that you always want to end the ball game when your dog still wants to play more and has not gotten tired and quit. Make sure the two squeaky balls remain in your control and that your dog only has access to them when “YOU” want to play ball.

Have fun!

The Holidays Can Be a Stressful Time for Your Pets


The most wonderful time of the year can be a very stressful time for your pets. The holidays highlight the importance of a well trained, well socialized pet that can adjust with ease to new environments.  Most animals (particularly dogs and cats) like consistent structure in their environment. Dogs and even cats live in social groups (packs/families). They feel most comfortable and secure when the dynamics of the pack (humans included) stay the same. During the holidays is when family and friends tend to visit most.  Our children come home from college and bring a new dog they recently adopted, or our parents/In-laws move into the house, or your sister comes to visit with her two toddlers.  These changes to the pack dynamics can really be a problem and cause major stress for your pet.

As a canine behavioral expert, I will receive many phone calls the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years because of their dogs becoming aggressive and even biting a guest or family member. I also hear through the grapevine of people who can’t find their cats, who have been hiding for days. If your dog/cat is not used to small kids and toddlers or is a bit leery of strangers, visiting dogs and new situations in the house, you may want to re-think how you are going Brooks and Maddie elevatedto handle these pets during the Holidays. For dogs that like to sleep on couches, beds and chairs you need to be very careful that small children and toddlers do not put their faces up to theirs. Many dog bites occur when dogs are elevated and children go to kiss them on the face or hug them. Don’t let the children play on the dog’s beds or in their crates. Watch your pets, and put them in another room when they seem stressed and/or have had enough of your houseguests. Be careful when alcohol is involved, people tend to not “read” animals correctly when they are under the influence. I can’t tell you how many times I hear of a family member or houseguest that becomes Cesar Milan at a party and attempts to train the dog, and unfortunately freaks the dog out or even gets bitten.

When a friend or family member wants to bring their new dog along, you really need to know how your pet will react.  In general this is not a great idea. If your cat is not used to dogs or the visiting dog is not used to cats, it could prove to be a disaster. I just had a client whose cat was killed by her daughter’s new dog when she brought it home from college. If your dog tends to be protective of your home and yard when they see another dog, you will need to be very careful when having another dog visit. If you have a guest who is insistent on bringing their dog, first take both dogs on a long walk together and then introduce them in a neutral area.  If all seems well, then introduce them in your yard next and then proceed to inside.  Be sure to separate both dogs during feeding time.  Pick up all dog toys and bones, as this is how many fights begin. In general, having your friend’s dog visit your home should be discouraged.

A great idea is to bring your dog to a boarding or daycare facility during this time. I have many people that will bring their dogs to my canine center (Dog Gone Smart) when they have a holiday party or out of town guests. The dogs may either stay for the day or even spend the night. This allows for your dogs to have lots of fun, get exercise and for you not to have to worry. You can enjoy the holidays and concentrate on your house guests. Another option is to set some off-limit rooms where your dog and cats can stay during the party. Unknown-2Put a sign on the door saying please keep out.  If you can lock the door, all the better. For cats this can work great, but for dogs it may prove to be a problem if they can hear you and they tend to bark, scratch and whine. Crating your pet in a separate room may also work. Remember to leave them food and water and to let them out to relieve themselves. Don’t forget the kitty litter box for the cats.

With a little pre-planning your pets can be stress free and you can all enjoy the Holiday season.

Exciting Things at the Dibevo Trade Show in Holland— Products Reemerging From Years Ago and New Products That Will Change the Future of How We Walk Dogs!


Dibevo 2013 Pet Trade Fair in Holland

I recently returned from the Dibevo Pet Trade Fair in Holland.  The show seemed a bit smaller and slower than last year.  Big dog and cat food companies like Eukanuba and Royal Canin, did not exhibit this year.  The economy seems to have taken its toll on the pet trade in Holland, which is no surprise.  Dog Gone Smart introduced some new products, including the new Dirty Dog Doormat Runner. It was great to see such a positive response and I sold a bunch to the stores.

Baby turtles for sale

Baby turtles for sale

I saw some cool baby painted turtles at the fair.  Since the 1980’s, due to the Salmonella scare, baby turtles have been mostly outlawed to be sold in American pet shops.  The worry was that the baby turtles were so small that children would put them in their mouths and get sick. A few states like Florida still allow their sale, but I always questioned this ban that was implemented in most other states.  Over my childhood, I had many baby red-slider turtles and so did many of my friends. I never knew anyone who got sick from having these turtles, but then again I never knew anyone to put them in their mouths (except possibly my older brother… that’s a story I’ll save for another day). Anyway, do you remember the plastic turtle ponds with the island and the plastic palm trees on them?  I loved those!  Seeing these turtles again brought back such childhood memories.

turtle acquarium

Aquarium to house the baby turtles. Look familiar to anyone?

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 10.25.10 PM

New Flexi Vario Retractable Leash

The coolest new product I saw by far was the introduction on the new Flexi Vario leash. Finally Flexi has gotten back to innovation and again designed the best retractable leash in the world. They have been loosing a lot of market share over the years because of all the copies. The Vario is a game changer! The new options include an adjustable grip for people with different sized hands, a flash light on the front and a blinking red light that faces to the rear when you are walking. You have a space to store poop bags, the ability to put different types of leashes on the end of the retractable and many other components.  I have not always been a big fan of retractable leashes over the years.  They can cause injury to both people and dogs and most people have a hard time managing them. However, the new Flexi has really made me reconsider my opinion.  I will need to test it on a dog to be sure, but I am seriously impressed with Vario’s new technological advancements and the German engineering that has gone into making it.  The new Vario launches in Europe next month and should be in the U.S. market early next year.

Now off to Barcelona to exhibit at the Iberzoo show for our first time.  Spain….. Now this is also going to be interesting, considering its slow economy.  Seems I’m a glutton for punishment.  Regardless of the economic situation, don’t you think Spanish dogs and their owners deserve great new products too?

One thing for sure, I love Barcelona……tapas  and salsa dancing here I come!

Ciao for now!