A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

Posts tagged ‘Pomeranians’

To Shave or Not to Shave–Keeping Dogs Cool in the Tropics

We’re at the height of summer here in Jamaica, where the temperatures soar into the 90s accompanied by a high heat index.  The humans are miserable, and so are the dogs.  In an effort to keep Fido cool, some dog owners have opted to shave their dog, thinking that the animal will be cooler.  But is it the right thing to do?

Unlike humans, who lose excessive heat through their sweat glands located in the skin, dogs lose excessive heat through panting.  They lose a small amount of heat through the pads of their feet, but they do not have sweat glands the way we do.

According to Yona Zeltis McDonough from WebVet, “Dogs sweat from their paws, so shaving has little impact on dogs’ body temperature.”

Fur actually protects dogs during the summer.  It protects them from biting flies and mosquitoes.  Most significantly, at least in the case of white dogs, such as white German Shepherds, it protects them from sunburn.

Shaving a dog, especially breeds such as German Shepherds and Pomeranians which have double coats, can actually ruin the coat.  Sometimes the hair will grow back sparsely, or have a softer texture, or the color will lighten.  In some breeds, such as Pomeranians, the fur may not grow back at all.

It is best to find other ways to keep you dog cool in the summer.  Curtail activities with the dog during the day when it’s hottest, provide cool water, and allow access to cool spots in your home.  I like to put down wet towels for the dogs to sleep on.  Sometimes I put chunks of ice in the folds of the towels, which the dogs really like.

If you really feel that shaving your dog is the best solution, speak with your groomer before picking up the clippers.

A Guide to Keeping Dogs Cool in the Tropics

Let’s face it, if you live in the tropics, there’s no way to escape the heat.  It hangs around all year long.  If you live in Jamaica, it cools down for perhaps December and January, but just barely, and the heat still affects dogs.

This is the first of a series of articles on keeping our K9 companions cool in tropical climates. In Jamaica we have no access to cooling mats or body vests or any of those nifty inventions available in more temperate climates, so we have to find economical yet effective ways to keep our beloved dogs comfortable.

Traveling by car

Jamaicans love to travel with their dogs, even if it’s a brief trip to pick up milk at the grocery store.  Be very careful.

Don’ leave the dog in the car with the windows down and water available in the car.  Dogs generate a lot of heat in the spaces where they are confined, and their body heat will drive up the already hot temperatures.

If your car has air conditioning (a/c), carry two sets of keys.  Leave the a/c running with the dog in the car, and lock the doors.  Use your spare to get into the car on your return.

Don’t develop a false sense of security if you leave the a/c running in your car.  If the car shuts off, or the a/c stops functioning, the car will heat up to the outside temps in no time. CHECK ON YOUR DOG FREQUENTLY.  Don’t just look through the shop window at your dog:  Go to the car and ensure that the car and a/c are in fact running.

“A hot car can be a death trap for dogs…” says Mark Evans, RSPCA chief veterinary adviser.  Temperatures in a car can reach 117 degrees in less than an hour, and your dog can be cooked to death.  An adult dog’s normal body temperature is 102 degrees Fahenheit.  Brain damage occurs when body temps rise to 106, and death occurs at 108.

There’s nothing cuter than an ShihTzu traveling in the front passenger side of a vehicle, or sitting in the driver’s lap, head out the window and ears flapping in the breeze.  That’s a dangerous practice.  Windshields protect passengers inside of a car from dirt, dust, pollution, and flying bits of stones and glass from getting in their eyes.  If your dog has his head sticking out the car window, what’s there to protect his eyes?

Think of that ping you hear from the windshield or side of your car as a bit of stone hits the vehicle.  Now imagine that bit of stone hitting your dog’s eyes.

Carry water for your dog, but do not store it in the car where it will get hot, like on the floor.  If you are traveling long distances, be sure to stop a few times along the way for potty and water breaks.

It’s always a good idea to let your dog go bathroom before setting out on a drive.  Some dogs will whimper and get restless if they need to go, so listen to what your dog is saying.  However, some dogs will just go on your backseat, especially if traveling makes him very anxious.  You can eliminate this unpleasant aspect of traveling by following this advice.

Happy traveling with your dogs!

Picture above:  There’s nothing my male Pomeranian enjoys more than a car ride.  He is quite capable of jumping into the car without any help, thank you very much.  While I packed the car in preparation for a recent dog show, Snuggles contemplated driving us to the show grounds.

The Best Treats to Use for Positive Dog Training

The choice of treats are definitely very important in the world of clicker training.  First and foremost, the treats must be something that the dog really likes.  Secondly, the treats should be small, pea-size or slightly bigger for a large-breed dog and smaller for a small/toy breed.

I have found when training rottweilers and german shepherds that if the treats are too small, the dogs invariably choke on them.  If they are too large, you simply run out of treats before you are really finished training.  I tend to treat generously and often, so that is a big issue for me.

When training toy breeds, like pomeranians, if the treats are too large, the dogs will fill up quickly and you will have to either find an alternative to food as a reward, or quit training for that session.  I have never had this issue with my large dogs, so I can’t swear that it won’t happen to larger breeds.

Treats should be smelly and soft.  If they are smelly, they will be palatable to the dog; if they are soft, the dog will be able to eat the treat quickly and not disrupt the training session.  I store my treats in a zip-lock bag to seal in moisture and stuff it in my treat bag (which is nothing more than an insulated lunch sack for humans which I clip to my belt when I train).  When I’m finished training, depending on the treats, I store the zip-lock bag with any remaining treats in the refrigerator.

Because my dogs tire of eating the same treats over a long period of time, I tend to add variety.  So for several days or even weeks I’ll train using bits of cheese, then I’ll switch to bits of sausage, then pieces of boiled liver.  I have found sausage (hotdog) to be very messy as the links invariably retain lots of moisture, especially if you thaw them then serve.

Unlike many trainers, I do not mix treats within a training session.  It’s just too much work and gets cumbersome to manage during sessions.  Timing is important in clicker training, so you don’t want to be fumbling with getting the treats out of the pouch, especially when training an inexperienced or young dog.

Of late I’ve been using commercial treats for variety, especially for Athena, who is not a food oriented dog.  One of the treats, Scoops made by Seargent, is supposedly made with real cream.  It is a soft treat and breaks into small pieces very easily and are not nearly as messy as sausage.  I just started using Beggin’ Strips, too.  I like these treats because they are the least messy of all.  I can push a few strips in my pockets and not worry about messes.  Although they break up quite easily.  I have found that the dog needs some time to chew the treat during training, and depending on the size of the dog, if the treat is too small, the dog has a hard time chewing it.

Bottom line is, choose food that your dog truly enjoys.  The reward must be of a high value to the dog.  If the food isn’t something that the dog particularly relishes, then the very act of offering a treat becomes an aversive.

I feel as though I moved house today…

Or, at least rearranged the furniture in my house.  I didn’t, of course, not literally, but I spent the day engaged in two activities:  redesigned this blog and moved my dogs around.  I think the former activity is self-explanatory; the latter activity, however, needs some explanation.

All three bitches are on heat, and emotions run high.  Busta, my male Rottweiler, would like annihilate my male Pomeranian, Snuggles.  Snuggles would like to mate with Cody, and the tart keeps teasing him.  Athena would like to do damage to Kissy, and Busta would like to put Tuvok, my four-month-old puppy in his place (as in, don’t touch any of my women!).

Fortunately I live in a large house with lots of crates and holding areas for the dogs.  Everyone was locked away in their own special place, but I spent the day letting out individual dogs–or groups of dogs that got on well–for potty breaks and time in the house with Mom.  Of course I had to remember who was in the yard at any one time, and who was running around the house, or hiding under the sofa. 

It’s the end of the day now, 11:38pm to be precise, and I’ve just finished training three dogs.  Gretchen learned a neat trick today:  turning her head to look left.  I wanted to do a bit of shaping with her, and couldn’t figure out what to do.  She started turning her head, and I started clicking and treating away.  Soon, I started clicking for only left turns.  The little bugger caught on.  I really have no idea to what end this new behavior will serve.

Many, Many, MANY apologies…

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet, but it sure does feel as though civilization suffered a brief hiatus:  I have been without phone or internet for the past week, and only just got it back.  Apparently a big truck drove down our street and ripped out the phone lines! 

This week I’ve been incredibly busy, first with my two-footed pupils competing in music competitions, and they did SPLENDIDLY, and now my four-footed pupils are competing in the dog show.  They have done splendidly, too, with my Pomeranian bitch winning Best in Show. 

It isn’t over because I go back in the ring tomorrow.  I’ll post more news once the weekend’s over and I surface to catch my breath.  It’s off to bed for me now because I have to wake up before God to get to work, the head off to the show with my other dogs.

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