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Note: Steve’s part of the text in the magazine is usually in blue, but this time it appears in pink due to an editorial error.

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An article in Ladies Home Journal that includes Steve’s tips for walking your dog.

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Just like people, dogs can become overweight-even obese. As a many as 1/3rd of all dogs are overweight. Excess pounds are hazardous to your dog’s health for many of the same reasons theyíre hazardous to our health: they can lead to heart problems, diabetes and a shortened lifespan.

Sometimes people can overcome a weight problem without assistance. But if your dog weighs too much, heís going to need your help to get back in shape.

Here are some of the reasons dogs become overweight:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor eating habits
  • Treats, rawhides, bones that contain too many calories
  • Food is available to him outside of normal meal-time
  • Food is available to him from people other than his owner (table scraps are a good example)
  • Medical conditions like Hypothyroidism
  • Behavior adapted from the owner (a dog might adopt the nervous habits of his OCD owner)
  • Getting your overweight dog back in shape requires a plan, and some changes in lifestyle. And it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. Remember that effective weight control depends on reducing your dog’s food intake and increasing his exercise. But improving his diet is key-a better diet alone has more impact on your dog’s health than does exercise alone.

    How will you know when your dog has hit his ideal weight? Here are some signs:

  • You can feel his ribs easily, but cannot see them easily
  • He’s “cut” (defined) in the loin area
  • You can feel or see a bit of his spine
  • Your dog does not have a back so flat and wide you could rest a beer on it
  • Some of the most effective weight control for your dog involves exercises both you and your pooch can do.


    Just like us, dogs need exercise. Exercise does the same things for dogs that it does for us: it keeps them healthy and happy.

    For dogs-and dog owners-there are even more benefits to a regular exercise routine: it helps to curb behavioral issues, like hyperactivity, aggression and destruction. When you exercise with your dog, you get a chance to bond with your pet and help to establish your leadership.

    It’s always a good idea to check with your veterinarian before your dog begins participating in a regular exercise routine. Keep these other guidelines in mind, too:

  • Puppies younger than 16 months should not take part in a vigorous exercise routine because their bones are still growing, and the stress of a difficult routine could lead to early hip and joint issues.
  • Overweight and senior dogs should get a vet’s OK before starting a vigorous exercise routine.
  • Pugs, boxers and other breeds with shorter noses tend to get winded sooner than other dogs, so keep the exercises less vigorous and the session shorter.
  • Dachshunds, Bassett Hounds and other breeds with short legs and long backs can develop back problems, so check with your vet before beginning an exercise routine.
  • Food is just as effective of a motivator for your dog during exercise as it is at other times-but if you use food as a reward during a workout, use it sparingly: keep the pieces of food very small (about the size of a pea) and limit the total amount of food. Don’t feed your dog a full meal’s worth of food during active exercise or he may fall victim to a potentially fatal stomach condition called bloat. Great Danes, Bloodhounds and Weimaraners are especially
    susceptible, but the condition can afflict any breed.
    A normal, healthy, adult dog needs about an hour of exercise a day. You can break that up into two sessions.

    Puppies and senior dogs require roughly two 15 minute sessions per day.

    It’s called an exercise routine for a reason-it works best if you do it regularly. So make it a commitment-and a priority in your life-to exercise with your dog (it’ll be good for your health, too).

    Here are some other tips for making your routine a habit:

  • Schedule a specific time every day that’s just for you and your dog to exercise
  • Start slowly and work up in intensity and duration as you and your pooch make progress
  • Vary the exercises to keep from getting bored
  • Make it fun.
    To your dog, exercise is no different than almost everything else in his universe: it’s more fun when he’s doing it with you. A big flat grassy back-yard may strike you as an open invitation to your dog to run and play, but once you turn around and go back inside the house, your dog probably sees the yard as the perfect place to lay in the shade and catch some shut-eye.

    You’ve made the commitment to exercise with your dog. Find exercises that engage both of you, and it’ll be easier to keep that commitment.

    You’ve heard me say this before: “Like people, all dogs are different.” Remember that when you’re planning your dog’s exercise routine. Dogs of different breeds, ages, sizes and abilities require different levels and types of activities.
    Here are some other things to remember:

  • Some dogs may be fulfilled by a simple walk around the block, while others may require something more active
  • Retrievers like fetching and swimming
  • Sledding dogs like pulling carts and jogging
  • Dock-diving, agility, fly-ball, tracking, herding and protection and tricks are other activities that might interest your dog
    Dog parks and similar facilities offer lots of wide open space for you and your dog to exercise, but also some dangers. You may not know the other dogs, how well they are trained, or how attentive are their owners. So enter at your own risk, use caution-and be prepared.

    Before you take your dog to a dog park-or to any off-leash environment, even if it’s just the sidewalk in your neighborhood-be sure he knows Steve’s Four Commandments .

  • Come
  • Stay
  • Heel
  • No
  • Be aware of your dogís limitations, and what might set him/her off. You know that your kids are little angels, but you also know that if a scuffle breaks out on the playground, you have to be open to the idea that your little angel might have started it. Hard as it may be to believe, the same wisdom applies to your four-footed canine angel.

    Retrievers like fetching and swimming. If you allow them to do so in a pool, make sure they know the way out. This can be done by placing a marker- a planter, a cone, anything visable from his vantage point- and place it near the steps or other major exit points. It’s important to make sure good things happen when they reach that marker.



    You and your dog walk for 30 seconds, then jog for 30 seconds, then sprint for 30 seconds, then repeat.

    BENEFITS: Aerobic conditioning; strengthens the heart and lungs, boosts metabolism so it burns more calories on a daily basis (the more frequently you do this, the greater the effect over time)

    BEFORE YOU START: Your dog should know Heel and how to walk properly

    BROOKS’ TIP: For an overall body effect and greater impact, move your arms as vigorously as you do your legs


    You sprint to a nearby tree and call to your dog to Come. When he’s midway to reaching you, yell “Down” and Stay Then, do some jumping jacks or squats. Your dog should remain in the Stay. Release the dog on your terms and repeat.

    BENEFITS: Increased cardiovascular strength and endurance

    BEFORE YOU START: Your dog should know Heel and Stay

    BROOKS’ TIP: While your dog is sprinting and you are resting, work on breathing properly. While you’re moving, take long strides to have more of an impact on your leg muscles


    You perform walking lunges while your dog weaves through your legs. Start with a small handfull of treats in each hand. Step forward into a lunge. Guide dog through legs and reward dog with kibble each step.

    As you progress, reward dog every two lunges and then every four lunges. Increase the number of lunges between treats as you and your dog improve.

    BENEFITS: Strengthens and tones your inner thighs and butt

    BEFORE YOU START: Be sure your dog knows what youíre doing and what you want him to do, or youíll end up on the ground

    BROOKS’ TIP: Keep your knees in alignment with your feet, not ahead of them. To keep your balance, focus on something at eye level in front of you and don’t look down-at your feet or the ground. Breathe consistently for better cardiovascular effect


    You shuffle sideways while your dog heels forward.

    BENEFITS: Increases your range of motion, particularly at the hip joint area; works the muscles of the inner and outer thighs; strengthens the ankles and knees. Based on your pace, can improve your cardiovascular endurance, too

    BEFORE YOU START: Your dog should know Heel.

    BROOKS’ TIP: Extend your arms straight out at shoulder level for some upper body involvement and shoulder muscle stimulus


    Throw a ball or dog toy that your dog can run, retrieve and return to you. Alternate throwing to the left and right to focus on both sides of your body.

    BENEFITS: Aerobic exercise thatís fun for both of you

    BEFORE YOU START: Be sure your dog wonít have to run into the street to retrieve what you throw, and make sure he knows Come and Stay.

    BROOKS’ TIP: To increase the aerobic intensityóand the fun factoró once your dog retrieves the ball runaway and have them chase you.


    NOTE: Not for all dogs! See BEFORE YOU START, below.
    This game is a favorite of almost every dog, and depending on the size of your pet, can be a real strength exercise for you. But your dog must know the rules of the game: that the game starts only when you say so, and that when you say the game is over, it means right now.

    BENEFITS: Strengthens your arms and shoulders

    BEFORE YOU START: Be certain that your dog is not aggressive; that he does not have a tendency to bite; that he knows and immediately obeys a “drop it” command

    BROOKS’ TIP: Use a rope long enough that your dog can’t accidentally bite your finger; do not lift your dog off the ground by the rope in his teeth


    You and your dog run up a flight of stairs, run down, repeat.

    BENEFITS: Aerobic exercise for both of you

    BEFORE YOU START: Your dog should sit this one out if he’s overweight; if he’s a breed with short legs and/or a long back; if heís very young or very old; or if the stairs are in a public place and are crowded

    BROOKS’ TIP: If your dog gets tired and is good with a “Stay”. Let him rest at the top or bottom of the stairs while you complete our exercise


    Put your dog in a down and stay while you perform a set of cardiovascular exercises. He must maintain down and stay.

    BENEFITS: Your dog learns self control which could save his life, while you work your cardiovascular fitness.

    BEFORE YOU START: Your dog must master down and stay.

    BROOKS’ TIP: You can do jumping jacks, squats, squat jumps or even running in circles while the dog maintains a down and stay.


    Place both dogs in a Stay, then run 25 yards or so away and stop. Face the dogs and yell “Come”. The first dog to Come and Sit (or Down) wins a
    reward (a treat or a hug).

    BENEIFTS: Sprints for you, then a sprint for the dogs

    BEFORE YOU START: If your dog isnít safe off-leash, use a 20 or 25-foot leash and run only that distance away

    BROOKS’ TIP: Work on your breathing while the dogs are running

    Once you and your dog get the hang of your regular routine, you can get creative and add some new exercises, like Doggie Pushups: Command your dog to Sit. Then issue a Down command. Keep the repetitions to a maximum of 4 or 5, otherwise your dog may become confused and frustrated. Take a break, then repeat.

    Freestyle dancing and good old fashioned stretching are also fun and effective elements of any workout-for you and your dog.

    Frisbee is an classic activity that some some dogs really enjoy. Simply having your dog carry a toy or the owners purse can be an addition that leads to extra burned calories.

    For some older dogs you might try a food hunt, where, much like an easter egg hunt, you hide food through your yard. A good low impact exercise is dissecting a Kong toy sutff with a low calorie treat. These can be both mentally and physically challeges.

    Treadmills may be popular, but beware because they can be dangerous. If you put your dog on a treadmill, make sure you constantly monitor them. However, if you’re going to spend you time monitoring, you might as well spend some quality time with them and take them for a walk.

    ~ Steve Brooks K9U Family

    Some Tips For The Holiday Season

    The holidays are here again, and along with all the preparations, the question arises: What do you do with the family dog? For many of us, the house hound is a beloved part of the family and we can’t imagine excluding or leaving him or her behind.

    Here are a few helpful tips to help you and your Best Friend have a happy holiday season.

    Q: When deciding whether or not to take “Fido” along on a holiday gathering, what are the factors that should be considered in the decision?

    A: If you plan to celebrate at a house that is not your own, the first consideration is to simply ask your host if it’s ok to bring your dog. Some people forget this first rule of pet etiquette, which can ultimately lead to problems if the host or guests are inexperienced, afraid, allergic, or simply do not care for dogs.

    It’s also necessary to know whether the host has their own dogs or cats, and if so, are they indoor or outdoor? The house pet may be territorial. Even dogs that have met before get territorial over a variety of things, including food and water bowls, beds, hallways, yards, toys and bones. Some dogs get very protective over family members as well. If a dog is territorial or protective, they may act out aggressively, not only against the other dog, but against humans as well.

    Q: What if I host?

    A: If you are hosting guests at your house, it’s best to either pick up all the dog toys, bones, dog beds, food bowls etc., before the guests arrive, or alternatively, leave many dog toys and several water and food bowls out so each dog feels he has his share of the goodies.
    If needed, there should be a separate, secure place to put each dog, such as a puppy- proofed yard, dog run, kennel/crate, baby-gated area or private bedroom. Additional management options include using a leash, a non-slip soft collar or a head halter. Your dog should be able to be left alone without any separation problems. If not, start working on it now.

    Q: What are the training fundamentals we should make top priority?

    A: I recommend that dogs understand and listen to the following five things. They are the foundation of what I teach all dogs in my care:
    Come: To Come quickly when called, even if distracted.
    Walk / Heel: To Walk on a leash without pulling (heel), even if distracted.
    Stay: To Sit or lie down and be still until released, even if distracted.
    No: To Stop whatever he or she doing right then (you can achieve this with a stern look and body language as much as with words).
    Dogs Name: Look at me when I say your name, even if distracted.
    Knowing this sets the stage for you to be able to manage any behavioral problems that may come up during the holidays – knowing these commands can also save your dog’s life in the world at large.

    These tips are also helpful:
    If your dog will be a guest in someone else’s house, potty training is a must. If this skill has not been mastered, get a pet sitter to stay in your home or find a boarding facility.

    Q: How can I reduce the chances of doggy “potty accidents” during the holiday visit?

    A: If you are the guest and you think there is a chance your dog will urinate on the floor or jump on people and furniture, keep him on a leash. Remember, dogs are more apt to pee when they are in a new home, with new smells, and when they are excited. If you have a submissive dog and/or a dog that urinates when he gets excited, it’s best to keep the greetings mellow. It also helps to give the submissive or excited dog something to keep him busy when the doorbell rings. A stuffed training KONG toy, or a low value reward, like a hand full of dry kibble, should do the trick.

    Q: What should we consider if we have our dog stay with a friend?

    A: If you decide to have your dog stay with a friend, it’s important to consider if your dog and your friend are familiar with each other and if they get along. This is will make a doggy-sitting situation easier on your dog and your friend. Be prepared to supply your friend with food, supplies and any necessary medications during your dog’s stay. This will help keep your dog entertained and on a consistent diet and dosing regimen. Be sure to also leave the phone number of your vet in the event of an emergency.

    You also need to consider your friend’s house and environment for your dog. Is it a safe place and pet friendly? If not, pick a different friend to dog-sit or consider a kennel.

    If you are lucky, and a friend agrees to look after your dog while you are gone, it’s essential to have a conversation about the specific daily care and routine of your dog. Responsibilities and expectations should be set from the get go to protect your dog, and your friendship!

    Q: If we decide to board our dog, what features should we consider in selecting a kennel?

    A: No one dog is the same and this applies to kennels as well. The most important factor to evaluate is the staff’s qualifications for watching over your dog. Kennels can vary dramatically when it comes to social activity, safety and quality of care. Ask people you know and trust for referrals.

    Questions to ask include:

    Is there an outdoor play area for your dog?
    Are the dogs allowed to play?
    If so, for how long and how are they monitored, what is the dog to human supervisor ratio?
    Are the dogs separated by size and temperament during playtime?
    How and when are the dogs fed?
    Does the facility allow you to bring your own supply of food?
    Some dogs may get an upset tummy from a sudden change in diet. (Choosing from the facility’s food is ok as long as your comfortable with the foods they provide and your dog does not have a history of allergies or food sensitivities).

    If necessary, do they administer medications, and if so, how do they track them?

    Can you drop off and pick up your dog at anytime, at your convenience, or only during certain hours?

    Additional Tips:

    Ask for a tour to ensure the facility is clean and the dogs are housed in safe enclosures. If you are denied the opportunity to see where the dogs are actually kenneled, go someplace else.
    Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the facility’s current clients. Often there will be others picking up and dropping off their dogs who would be happy to share their experience. Dog people love to talk about their dogs!
    Set up a “trial” visit. Before you go out of town, arrange to have your dog spend a day or night at the facility as a test. If Fido has a blast, you can leave for vacation without feeling guilty, or at least a little less guilty. And remember, holidays book up quick!

    Look closely at the pricing. Is it “all-inclusive” or “a la carte,” where additional fees are applied for each service? Carefully consider pricing policies and pick-up and drop-off hours. What looks like a bargain on the surface is often not when you start to add additional days and services.

    Q: If I want to keep my dog in the same room with us as we have holiday dinner, what’s my best strategy to keep his behavior in check?

    A: First, don’t let the dogs hang out under the table. It’s best if your dog has been trained and understands the concept of sit down and stay. If this is understood, your dog should be settled at the far end of the room, away from the table. If they stay, you can bring them a safe treat to reward them for staying seated at the end of the meal.

    If they won’t stay, try tying your dog to something away from the table. For dogs that bark, it helps to give them a stuffed KONG toy or stuffed marrowbone full of something sticky, like peanut butter or cream cheese to keep them busy while you eat. If these techniques are not effective, you should probably keep your dog in a kennel/crate, or another room. If they can’t handle that, they may be better off staying at home until they can be trained to master their social skills.

    Q: If time and distance permits during the holidays, how do I introduce my dog to new K9 rulers of the home where we will be spending the holiday?

    A: When it’s possible to familiarize your dog with another, it’s best to have them meet away from home on neutral turf. Once they are familiar then have them walk in the home together. It’s usually best to let the guest dog in first and the resident dog in second. It’s also a good idea to keep a slack leash on until you feel comfortable.

    It also helps to rub a rag on each of their genital areas and let each dog smell the other’s scent via a rag before you let them get close. Afterwards, you can keep the dogs on loose leash or behind a baby-gate until you are more comfortable to put them together.

    Q: If we are planning to take our dog on a plane, what do we need to know?

    A: If traveling by air, you will need a health certificate from your vet — if your dog is very stressed, you may want to ask your vet about some medications to relax your dog. For more mild stress, it’s good to go with a natural remedy like Rescue Remedy or light massage with a relaxing lavender scent on the neck and collar.
    Remember, small dogs can travel on the plane in the seating area with you, but medium and large dogs go below with the plane cargo. If you plan to bring a larger dog, try to book a direct flight without transfers, and make sure to confirm with the airline that the cargo area is climate controlled. Also, try to avoid flying your dog in extreme weather conditions. If traveling overseas or internationally, check the quarantine rules and regulations for pet travel. Last but not least, always make sure your dog has gone potty before you travel.

    Q: If we are planning to travel by car, what can we do to keep our dog the most safe and comfortable?

    A: If you are traveling in a car, the safest way for your dog to ride along is in a secured kennel/crate that won’t tip over. The next best is a doggie seat belt, or on the passenger seat floorboard with a leash on. If your dog is not used to traveling, or is prone to carsickness, it helps to not let them see out the side window during the ride. In addition, it’s best to not feed the dog before traveling.

    Most of the time, your dog is sick because of travel stress, not carsickness. To help your dog feel relaxed, it helps to use over-the-counter remedies like Rescue Remedy in the dog’s water prior to traveling. Just two drops will do the trick! Placing a few squirts of lavender mist or a few drops of lavender oil on their collar while massaging your dog is a good practice. Pairing the smell of lavender and massage several weeks before you travel gets your dog conditioned to the scent as a relaxant. In severe cases, you can always ask your vet about medications for carsickness. Don’t forget to put down some blankets and bring some towels and bags just in case. A little classical music can also help.

    For a more relaxing pack-up experience, you may want to keep your dog outside or in another room while you pack so they don’t get too excited. You may also want to leave your suitcases out a few days prior to your departure, so your dog doesn’t associate your bags with you leaving.

    Q: What are the most important items to bring when packing for a trip with my dog?

    A: The essentials include: medications, bowls, food, water, towels, blankets, treats, a favorite toy, a soft non-slip collar or head halter and regular 6-foot leash. It’s also good to have your dog tagged and micro chipped as a precaution. Bring a kennel/crate if possible, and poop bags for sure. Its also a good idea to bring a doggie first aid kit containing: Ace bandage or Vetwrap, Medical tape, Nonstick Pads, Cotton padding or other bandage padding, Betadine solution or other disinfecting solution, Benadryl, Antibiotic cream, Hydrocortisone cream, Hydrogen Peroxide. Also don’t forget your veterinarian’s and emergency centers phone number and address!

    Q: We look out for our dogs every day, but during the holidays additional risks can arise. What are some additional precautions we should consider?

    A: The holidays bring changes to the home whether we decide to stay home or travel. In celebration, we add a lot of new things to the household environment that can be festive for us, but a party-pooper for our pups. Be sure to steer your dog clear of these hazards.

    Holiday Plants & Decor
    Holly: If ingested, holly will induce vomiting, diarrhea and central nervous system depression.
    Fruit and Nut Trees: This includes apple, peach, almond, cherry and apricot, all of which have stems and leaves with traces of cyanide.
    Mistletoe: Munching on this holiday mainstay induces cardiac problems in dogs.
    Poinsettia: This common decoration can be irritating to the mouth, stomach and possibly the heart of your dog.
    Holiday Decorations: The shine and the shapes will naturally attract your dog but be sure to keep your dog away from ornaments, tinsel, artificial snow and candles – and watch that your dog doesn’t mark his territory on the tree!

    Festive Foods
    Chocolate: This sweet treat can cause heart and central nervous system problems. This applies especially to unsweetened bakers chocolate, which contains 10 times as much caffeine and Theobromine as milk chocolate. Just 1.6 ounces eaten by a 10-pound dog could kill him.
    Meat: Sounds tasty but chicken, turkey and pork bones can pierce a dog’s esophagus.
    Greasy Table Scraps: Again, sounds tasty, but even a single ingestion of foods such as onions, moldy walnuts, certain types of mushrooms, grapes and raisins can be life-threatening for your dog.
    Alcohol and Medications: We all tend to get a little loose around the holidays but you want to keep a tight leash on alcohol and medications. One ounce of 20 proof alcohol can put a small dog in a coma. During or after the party, you may be reaching for headache medications like aspirin or ibuprofen but be sure not to leave the bottles (alcohol) included, scattered around and in your dog’s reach.

    Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun! Dogs are very sensitive to your emotions and during the holidays, many of us are stressed – and our dogs pick up on that. The calmer and happier state that you are in, the calmer and happier your dog will be. Be sure to have fun and your dog will too!

    ~ Steve Brooks K9U Family


    Halloween can be scary and dangerous for your dog, and that can turn the holiday into a real nightmare for you. Here are some things to remember on All Hallow’s Eve-and the days and nights before and after:


    Dogs are creatures of habit, so make that work for both of you in the days and weeks leading up to the holiday. Be sure your dog is on a regular, routine feeding, exercise, and sleeping schedule. That will help to prepare him for the stress and excitement of a whole night when the doorbell never stops ringing-and for the endless parade of bizarre looking creatures that appear when the door opens! When your dog feels stress, he can react with aggression

    The best place for your dog on Halloween may be his crate, where he feels safe and comfortable. At the least, consider keeping him in a separate room during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Either way will save you the stress of making sure your dog doesn’t dart out the front door every time you open it for Trick or Treaters.

    If your dog does manage to get out the door while you’re occupied, he’ll find his neighborhood pretty frightening: it’ll be filled with strange-looking creatures (who may tease him), strange sights and strange sounds. So if he’s too confused to find his way home, be sure he’s wearing a tag with his name and your phone numbers on it. And if your dog doesn’t have a pinhead-sized identification microchip implanted between his shoulder blades, now’s the time to get him one. All animal shelters, most vets and many pet stores have scanners that can read the chip-which contains your contact information.

    A few dogs will tolerate you putting a costume on them, but most find the exercise confusing, uncomfortable and stressful. But if you must play doggy dress-up, be sure the getup does not constrict his movement, vision or hearing; prevent him from breathing or barking; or contain small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces on which he could choke.


    Halloween is when humans and dogs should each stick to their own tricks and treats. Halloween chocolate is toxic to your dog, and many other human sweets can be, too (and that’s true all year ’round-not just on October 31). If you want to include Fido in the fun on Halloween, keep some dog treats handy so he wonít eye the candy in that plastic Jack O’Lantern by the door.

    It’s a sweetener used in candy and gum, and itís toxic to your dog, so make sure products that contain Xylitol are out of your pet’s reach.

    That Jack O’Lantern you carved out of a pumpkin looks great with a candle in it. But if your dog knocks it over with his tail, he may burn himself-or start a serious fire.

    Candy isn’t the only hazard your dog faces on October 31. Pumpkins and decorative corn are relatively nontoxic, but if your dog eats them, he may suffer an upset stomachóor even an intestinal blockage.

    When your kids go Trick or Treating, keep your dog at home. We enjoy seeing friends and neighbors conceal their identities behind unfamiliar masks and costumes, but the whole spectacle just frightens your dog. When your dog is afraid, his behavior becomes unpredictable. He may seek out a quiet corner or his “safe place,” or he may bite.

    If you suspect your dog has eaten something dangerous, here are some resources:

  • Call your veterinarian or local animal hospital. Keep their numbers posted.
  • Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435
  • Click the K911 button at the top of every page of my website for more resources.

    1. DON’T FORGET THE WRAPPERS Once all the Halloween candy is eaten, you and the kids forget about it. But your dog could find candy wrappers and packaging that could lead to choking or other injuries. Be sure to clear away all the Halloween debris as soon as your little goblins go to sleep!

    ~ Steve Brooks K9U Family


    Valentine’s Day is just another day to your dog, but if you’re feeling the love and want to do something special for your best friend, here are some tips:

    To your pooch, all time with you is special. So if you want to do something nice for your dog on Valentine’s Day, do something with your dog. Choose an activity he likes, even if it’s just toss and retrieve.

    Brush your dog’s teeth to give him fresh breath and a healthier future. Plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth can lead to infection and even heart disease. Don’t use a toothbrush and toothpaste made for people, though (they can harm your dog). Pet supply stores carry tooth cleaning tools that fit over your fingertip, and toothpaste that’s formulated for dogs and comes in flavors from peanut butter to chicken.

    Get your dog used to the idea of having your fingers in his mouth before you try to brush his teeth. For a few days, put a little peanut butter or cheese-snack on your fingertip, then rub it on his teeth. It won’t take long for him to look forward to this routine and he likely won’t resist when you replace the snack with the dog toothpaste.

    If you’d rather let a professional handle it, most veterinarians offer teeth cleaning services, both
    with and without anesthesia.

    It may seem like a cute idea to put a costume on your canine for Valentine’s Day, but I recommend against it. Dogs don’t understand costumes. Your pooch in costume may draw the aggression of another dog-to him, your pet may not look like a dog at all.

    Flowers can hurt your dog inside and out. Lilies can be fatal to dogs; if he eats them, your dog may develop vomiting, stomach upset, and diarrhea. If someone sends you a bouquet or arrangement that includes lilies, keep them out of your dog’s reach. Every rose has its thorn, and if your dog bites or steps on one, he could be in for more than just pain: puncture wounds can become infected.

    The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-the ASPCA-has a list of plants that are potentially toxic and/or fatal to dogs.

    All types of chocolate are toxic to dogs. If your dog eats chocolate, heís at risk of vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and an abnormally elevated heart rate. The high-fat content in light chocolates can lead to a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas. Don’t leave chocolate in a bowl or on a tray at dog-eye level, such as on the coffee table.

    Candles can set a romantic mood on Valentine’s Day. Keep them out of your dogís reach, though. His curiosity may cause him to burn himself. And there are few combinations worse than an unattended candle and a wagging tail: they could lead to a serious fire.

    Gift wrap, ribbons and bows are tempting to a lot of dogs, but chewing on them can be dangerous: he may choke, or a ribbon may become lodged in his digestive tract. Gather up the gift wrapping and toss it in the trash.

    Happy Valentine’s Day from Steve and everyone at SteveBrooksK9U!

    5 Tips for Growing Old in L.A., by Steve Brooks
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    Oh My Dog

    This is a selection from Oh My Dog by Beth Ostrosky Stern where I was interviewed as a resource. The book can be purchased on Amazon.

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    How to calm a pet dog spooked by loud noises

    A booming thunderstorm pealing across the horizon. The sudden pops and startling blasts of Roman candles, bottle rockets and M-80s on a warm evening in early July. The irritating rat-a-tat of a jackhammer piling its way through the pavement.

    While we are conditioned to accept or shrug off these noises as ordinary, everyday clamor, many dogs react to these strange and frightening sounds with whimpers, trembling or worse.

    Because dogs have such an acute sense of hearing, it’s natural for some dogs to respond fearfully to such stimuli, say the experts.

    “This is extremely common, because your pet usually sits at home in a nice, quiet house most of the time,” said Babette Gladstein, VMD, New York, N.Y. “The response is common in pets with separation anxiety. Sometimes it is traced back to a bad experience. Also, if the owner is nervous about loud noise and storms, the animal may be as well.”

    From a dog’s point of view, an event like the Fourth of July “sounds like the sky is falling down. Why wouldn’t they be scared?” said Jules Benson, BVSs, MRCVS, director of veterinary services for Petplan, a national pet health insurance company, and staff veterinarian at Doylestown Animal Medical Clinic, Doylestown, Pa.

    The news behind the noise

    Fear of loud noises may actually be a learned, reinforced response that worsens over time, Gladstein said. “We may condition them to this response by comforting them. Therefore, they get attention when acting fearful.”

    Some dogs not only have more sensitive ears, but also more sensitive personalities for reasons that scientists don’t understand, said Justine A. Lee, DVM, associate director of veterinary services, Pet Poison Helpline, Bloomington, Minn.

    Steve Brooks, CPDT (certified pet dog trainer), based in Los Angeles, Calif., trainer of the winning dog – a boxer named Presley – on “Greatest American Dog,” a reality TV show that aired on CBS last summer, said that two reasons are at the root of noise-provoking fears in dogs: innate and learned behaviors.

    “The former derives from genetics and is harder to fix, while the latter is from the dog’s environment,” Brooks said. Learned behaviors like fear of loud sounds may arise “if the dog didn’t get proper and early socialization and exposure to different environments as a puppy. A dog that is also clingy and overattached to its owner may exhibit insecurity problems like these, too.”

    Signs of a petrified pooch

    Gladstein, Benson and Lee said that common behavioral symptoms associated with noise anxiety may include:
    * Hiding
    * Cowering and trembling
    * Urinating and/or defecating
    * Panting
    * Pacing and circling
    * Digging or jumping in an attempt to escape
    * Passing gas
    * Barking and whining
    A pet owner should be concerned about this behavior “because you want to keep the stress level down for overall health reasons. The less stressful your life, the longer you live,” Gladstein said

    Rx for Rex

    Lee said veterinarians often prescribe medications that, when used as directed, can help during an anxiety episode due to noise.

    “The most common drug prescribed is acepromazine, a nonaddictive sedative that is really good, but doesn’t do anything to relieve the anxiety,” Lee said. “It can be used in young to middle-aged dogs and in certain breeds of older dogs, but it’s not recommended for dogs with any underlying heart or blood pressure problems.”

    A newer medication gaining in popularity is oral valium, an anxiolytic drug that can actually decrease canine anxiety, Lee said. Like acepromazine, valium is reasonably safe, but it can cause liver complications when used in large or frequent doses.

    “Any medication used to calm a dog is best given at least 30 to 60 minutes before the loud noises start,” Benson said. “It can be useful to confine your dog in a dark room as far from the noise as possible.”

    Like many vets and dog experts, however, Gladstein is not a fan of drugs to treat doggie noise phobias.

    “Medicating your pet can actually make its fears worse,” Gladstein said. Sedated pets “still experience the noise, but physically can’t react. This continues the cycle and the need for drugs. Prescription drugs should be used only with behavior modification programs under the supervision of a trained veterinarian.”

    Instead of prescribed drugs, Brooks touts herbal remedies, including lavender oil, geranium scent, chamomile, peppermint extract and a product called D.A.P. – dog appeasing pheromone – that can help to relax dogs.

    “Having a trainer or behavioral specialist work with your pet is the best way to approach this from a behavioral point of view,” Benson said, adding that certain dogs such as collies and sheep dogs (the herding breeds) are particularly sensitive to harsh noises.

    Massage the message

    Brooks recommends massage therapy to condition your dog to relax during a loud event. Try the following tips:

    Get your dog to lie on its side and give it a thorough massage.

    As you massage, let your dog smell lavender oil, which can induce a calming effect. Repeat this practice once a day over a few days.

    Obtain a “sound effects” CD that plays noises like a rainstorm or fireworks. Play the CD at low volume while giving the massage and letting your dog sniff lavender oil. Gradually turn up the volume every few days.

    The next time a loud event occurs in the neighborhood, such as a thunderstorm, massage your dog and bring the lavender oil up to its nose.
    If your dog continues to display signs of anxiety in response to noisy stimuli, don’t reinforce the behavior by giving a treat, coddling or reassuring your dog with sympathetic words.

    Instead, try to ignore the behavior; act happily and fearlessly. Praise and reward the dog with a treat when it displays signs of confidence and noise tolerance.

    Gladstein also advises these steps:

    Instead of a sound effects CD, introduce a white noise of some kind (a noisy fan, for example), the volume of which you can gradually increase over time to desensitize your dog.

    Try counterconditioning: If your dog enjoys a car ride, take it for a spin during a loud event so that it associates the noise with something it likes to do.
    Arrange for a play date with other dogs on a day when you know a loud event is coming. Your dog may be so busy having fun that the noises won’t bother it.

    Consider alternative forms of therapy, including acupuncture and chiropractic treatments.

    Forecasting future fears

    It is possible for dogs to outgrow these fears if you work with them regularly, Lee said. “But the truth is that some dogs will always need some form of medical or behavioral therapy to cope with these issues.”

    In this event, the upside of your dog getting older is that “sometimes, as a dog becomes deafer with age, the noises don’t affect them because they just can’t hear as well,” Benson said.

    Brooks said the key to preventing behavioral problems like noise anxiety is to start as early as possible. That means the next time you get a puppy, introduce it to various sounds, people and environments and train it to follow basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come” and “don’t pull” on the leash.

    By Erik J. Martin for WebVet

    Reviewed by Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS, and John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhD

    Dog External Anatomy


    First Aid Kit

    Dr. Christopher Cauble, DVM recommends putting together a first aid kit not only for the humans in your family, but for your animals as well. Dr. Cauble recommends keeping the following items in your pet’s first aid kit…

  • Ace bandage or Vetwrap
  • Medical tape
  • Nonstick Pads
  • Cotton padding or other bandage padding
  • Betadine solution or other disinfecting solution
  • Benadryl
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Towels for splints, stretchers or to wrap around an animal
  • Your veterinarian’s and emergency centers phone number and address
  • National Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426- 4435 with a credit card or 1-900-680-0000 without)
  • Any medications your pet is regularly taking. Be sure to rotate medication periodically to insure they do not go past the expiration date.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Drinking Water
  • Hemostatic Powder
  • About Christopher Cauble, DVM

    Dr. Christopher Cauble owns and operates Mobile Vet ( Since 1985, Mobile Vet has been serving the Los Angeles Area offering state-of-the-art medical care, emergency transportation, housecall services and other high-quality services for all species of animals. Dr. Cauble holds BS degrees in Zoology and Biology from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree from the University of California in Davis, California. He lives local to the practice with his wife, two young sons and their numerous animals!

    Puppy Vaccination and Socialization Should Go Together

    Common questions I receive from puppy owners, dog trainers and veterinarians concern:

    1) Whatis the most favorable age or period of time when puppies learn best?
    2) What are the healthimplications of my advice that veterinarians and trainers should offer socialization programs for puppies starting at 8 to 9 weeks of age?

    Puppies begin learning at birth and their brains appear to be particularly responsive to learning and retaining experiences that are encountered during the first 13 to 16 weeks after birth. This means that breeders, new puppy owners, veterinarians, trainers and behaviorists have a responsibility to assist in providing these learning/socialization experiences with other puppies/dogs, with children/adults and with various environmental situations during this optimal period from birth to 16 weeks.

    Many veterinarians are making this early socialization and learning program part of a totalwellness plan for breeders and new owners of puppies during the first 16 weeks of a puppy’s life — the first 7-8 weeks with the breeder and the next 8 weeks with the new owners. Thissocialization program should enroll puppies from 8 to 12 weeks of age as a key part of anypreventive medicine program to improve the bond between pets and their people and keep dogsas valued members of the family for 12 to 18 years.

    To take full advantage of this early special learning period, many veterinarians recommend that new owners take their puppies to puppy socialization classes, beginning at 8 to 9 weeks of age.

    At this age they should have (and can be required to have) received a minimum of their first series of vaccines for protection against infectious diseases. This provides the basis for increasing immunity by further repeated exposure to these antigens either through natural exposure in small doses or artificial exposure with vaccines during the next 8 to 12 weeks.

    In addition the owner and people offering puppy socialization should take precautions to have the environment and the participating puppies as free of natural exposure as possible by good hygiene and caring by careful instructors and owners.

    Experience and epidemiologic data support the relative safety and lack of transmission of disease in these puppy socialization classes over the past 10 years in many parts of the United States. In fact; the risk of a dog dying because of infection with distemper or parvo disease is far less than the much higher risk of a dog dying (euthanasia) because of a behavior problem.

    Many veterinarians are now offering new puppy owners puppy socialization classes in their hospitals or nearby training facilities in conjunction with trainers and behaviorists because they want socialization and training to be very important parts of a wellness plan for every puppy. We need to recognize that this special sensitive period for learning is the best opportunity we have to
    influence behavior for dogs and the most important and longest lasting part of a total wellness plan.

    Are there risks? Yes. But 10 years of good experience and data, with few exceptions, offers veterinarians the opportunity to generally recommend early socialization and training classes, beginning when puppies are 8 to 9 weeks of age. However, we always follow a veterinarian’s professional judgment, in individual cases or situations, where special circumstances warrant
    further immunization for a special puppy before starting such classes. During any period of delay for puppy classes, owners should begin a program of socialization with children and adults,outside their family, to take advantage of this special period in a puppy’s life.

    — Robert K. Anderson DVM

    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine
    Diplomate of American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

    How to Remove Skunk Stink from a Dog
    This is a selection from The Doctor’s Big Book of Home Remedies where I was interviewed as a resource in a bonus pet section. The book can be purchased on Amazon.

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    Dealing with Fleas and Ticks
    This is a selection from The Doctor’s Big Book of Home Remedies where I was interviewed as a resource in a bonus pet section. The book can be purchased on Amazon.

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    Dealing with Mites and Improving Digestion
    This is a selection from The Doctor’s Big Book of Home Remedies where I was interviewed as a resource in a bonus pet section. The book can be purchased on Amazon.

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    Exciting changes and more coming soon…

    You can trust the Resources section on as a trusted resource for valuable tips, articles and other lifestyle information. Our goal is to help you and your pet live a happier, healthier and more rewarding life. We’re not just dog trainers, we’re “You and Your Dog’s Best Friend.” Feel free to bookmark this page and I hope you’ll visit here often for all the latest changes and updates.

    For even more tips, pet news and information on Steve Brooks, visit our Steve in the Media section.


    Steve Brooks, CPDT

    Having dogs sleep in your bed

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