Spring time!

It’s turned into Spring. A wet one, but still Spring. Trees are blooming, cute little fuzzy baby geese are learning to walk, and the sail boats are on the Charles.

What does this time of year mean for you and your pup? Are you planning some hikes or long walks? Are you going to BBQs at friends’ houses? Going to one of the beaches before dogs are banned on or before Memorial Day?

Whatever you do, make sure that you have a plan for your pup. Whether you decide to let him spend a night at a day care (Happy Tails Doggy Daycare in Franklin!) or he gets to go with you, it’s important to know stuff about where you’re going. Check leash laws, town by-laws and websites like Bring Fido.

I feel like I’m always warning people in these blogs. Watch out for laws, watch out for plants, make sure you don’t leave you dog in a hot car, make sure you have a first aid kit, etc.… How about for this blog, I just wish you all a safe and happy Spring.

So, from all of us at Integral Dog Training, we hope you have a wonderful Spring!

Dressing Up Your Dog

Generally, I’m not a fan of dressing up animals. I mean, baby goats in pajamas aside, does any animal really need to wear a unicorn hat? But, there are definitely exceptions.

We are smack dab in the middle of a polar vortex. Humans can get frostbite in minutes. Did you know that your pup can also get frostbite? Dogs paws are in the elements every day. Signs of frostbite on your dog’s pads include them becoming very pale with bluish tinge, very brittle, and it hurts your pup when you touch them.

I started having my dog wear boots when we walked around the city in the winter. The rock salt that everyone uses is bad for your dog’s paws. Also, there have been some incidents of dogs being electrocuted when standing on badly grounded grates. (I think, thankfully, that’s fixed now.) Gunnar, my dog, has several pair of booties, depending on the situation. He’s not a long haired dog, but he can still get snowballs between his toes, so boots help minimize that. It also keeps his pads off of the ice and snow.

Keeping your dog’s feet warm in this extreme cold is important. It’s also important that you know the signs of frostbite in dogs, so head on over to your favorite vet and ask.

Coats are important for dogs that don’t have a lot of hair. But in weather like this, coats are a good idea for everyone. I know one Diva collie that must wear a coat any time the temperature dips below 45 degrees. Gunnar has a couple of coats, too. Waterproof ones and warm ones, so that when he goes to play in the snow, he doesn’t get wet and frozen.

It’s not a fashion statement when you’re trying to keep your dog safe. If you want to keep her safe with a $2000 Gucci dog coat, well….I guess that’s okay, too. As long as it keeps her warm.

Say What?

“I am not a vet, and I suggest you talk with your vet first before you do anything.”

I was in a pet supply store today. This store is supposed to be “Natural” and “Healthy.” As I stood in line with 4 other patrons, we listened to a sales clerk tell a woman about a product that they sold in the store.

The woman’s elderly dog has hip displaysia. The dog’s vet suggested Rimadyl for the pain. The sales clerk suggested essential oils.

“I love this stuff. I use it on everything. My dog has seizures, and he was having a seizure once and I squirted this in his mouth and he stopped seizing!”

I think that trying natural things first is important. A lot of our medicine comes from plants and other natural things. And, sometimes you’re just so desperate that you’ll try anything. But I also trust the experts. There are very few vets who work in pet supply stores.

I’m sure that the sales clerk was well trained, she really knew the contents of her store. But, giving medical advice that differs from, well, the medical community, is a dangerous thing. Not that a few essential oils were going to harm this poor old boy, but what if that were Tea Tree Oil? Did you know that Tea Tree Oil is toxic to dogs? Yet, places still sell shampoo that contains it. You know where I learned that? From a vet.

We have given our share of medical advice to pet owners. But we always preface it with “I am not a vet, and I suggest you talk with your vet first before you do anything.” We suggest this for everything from puppy teething to newly developed aggression in an older dog. People have lots of opinions about things, and they can be a wealth of knowledge. But you need to take all of it with a grain of salt (or in some cases, a salt lick.)

It takes a lot of work to become a Veterinarian. And, of course, medicine is an art. Some people are better at it, or have more of a gift for it. There are very bright people in this field, so there are a lot of differences of opinions. But the one thing that vets having going for them is that they have science on their side. All of the vets I know are happy to show you the science behind their decisions.

I don’t think that the store clerk would be able to show the science behind her claims. And, sadly, from the horrific experience of having a dog that had grand mal cluster seizures for 4 years, I know that essential oils would never have stopped him from seizing - unless that essential oil was Oil of Valium, administered rectally.

If you have questions about the health of your pet and want to learn how to help them, go to your vet and ask questions. They love answering questions. If you want to learn about what is in your dog’s food, ask a store clerk. Although, this clerk taught this woman that Labs have notoriously bad livers. Is this true? I don’t know, but I bet I know someone who does….and they have a DVM after their name.

Training should be fun!

Getting a dog is a happy event. You bring a dog into your family for myriad reasons. Being a partner with a dog should be fun, energizing, happy and fulfilling. We "train" our dogs so that they fit into our life better, know what's expected of them, and what they expect of us. Regardless of why we train, it should be fun.

Police dogs are trained to look for contraband as a game. The reward, once they've found whatever they're looking for, is their toy and a romp with their handler. It's a no-brainer that you learn better when you're having fun. No one wants to sit in a dark room being made to memorize multiplication tables, or having grammar forced down your throat. You wouldn't like it. Why would your pup?

I recently came across a fantastic woman and her amazing dog. Her dog was "acting out" whenever she went to training classes. The trainer was very vocal about her dislike for the dog and the way that the woman worked with her dog. The trainer belittled and humiliated this wonderful woman, who was only trying to do what's best for her dog. Oh, and this dog is really a puppy - she has the attention span of your average gnat - and doesn't have the bandwidth to focus for a full hour. Never mind that her mother is a quivering mess of unconfidence after dealing with this trainer. How would you like to work in a manner that scared you, while watching your mother, also shake with fear?

Listening to this woman's story, I vacillated between being horrified and angry. No one should be treated that way - human or otherwise. So, here are some things that I hope you keep in mind when you're looking for a trainer:

  • If you get a bad feeling - run. Trust your instincts. And, even if you do stay for a class, if you don't like it, don’t go back. I've seen students leaving other trainers' classes in tears. This isn't a good thing. If you see that, it may not be the class for you.

  • If the trainer yells at you, your dog, or anyone in the class, it may not be the best fit for you. No one learns anything from fear and condescension.

  • If the trainer is tugging, pulling, pushing, hanging or doing other physical violence to your dog - you have to stand up for your dog. You wouldn't let anyone do that to you - don't let an "expert" do that to your dog.

  • Go to a class before you sign up. Any trainer worth their salt is happy to let someone audit a class to see if it's a good fit.

  • Speak up! There is ALWAYS more than one way to train. If you don't like the way the trainer is doing something, say so. A professional trainer will always have more than one technique to show you.

  • Get a second opinion. If your trainer recommends something you don't like, ask another trainer. Ask me! I don't care if you take classes with us or you live in Kathmandu, just ask if you have questions.

Remember that there's no such thing as an "accredited" trainer. People that go to the Animal Behavioral College get a certificate. People can take the CCPDT test and get certified, which means that they have a CPDT-KA or CPDT-KS after their name. These people take dog training very seriously, have taken the time to take a test and pay the $300 fee for taking the test.

An Animal Behaviorist is someone who has been to veterinary school, or has an advanced (Ph.D) degree in Animal Behavior. A lot of trainers call themselves animal behaviorists or animal behavioralists, but unless they have the degrees to back it up, they aren't. It's a career no-no to call yourself a behaviorist when you're not.

Look for someone that you connect with. Someone that treats you and your dog with respect. Someone who will LISTEN to you, help you set goals and build your bond and relationship with your dog.

I had a bad math teacher when I was in grade school. Really bad. I was terrified of Mrs. O'Brian, and when she called on me, even though I knew the answer, I couldn't say anything. I fell 140 pages behind in math. I'm still 140 page behind in math. Math terrifies and confounds me. All because of one teacher who was the blight of 3rd grade. If your trainer turns out to be a Mrs. O'Brian, leave. Take your beautiful and loving pup somewhere where both of you will be safe and happy.

It's easy to get despondent

I am always surprised by the amount of cruelty in this world. Especially to animals. A while ago, a friend called to tell me that she found three kittens in her yard. There was no sign of a mother, and they’d been hiding in her wood pile for three days. We went over and got them out of her woodpile and set up a trap for the mother.

These kittens had no parasites, worms, ear mites, fleas, ticks….they were calm and comfortable with humans and the various sounds in our house. This means, most likely, that someone dumped these 4 week old kittens. We left the trap out for days, but we didn’t find their mother. These kittens were probably taken from their mother and dropped in the woods. How could someone take kittens that weren’t even weaned and dump them in a forest?

Yesterday while driving through downtown Franklin, we came upon a flock of turkeys that were standing beside the road. One of the chicks had been hit by a car and the hen was standing over her dead chick trying to protect him. There were probably 20 turkeys in the flock that consisted of chicks, hens and a tom. Someone had been impatient and just rode over this baby. I stopped the car and traffic and carried the chick to the side of the road so that the mother hen wouldn’t be hit, too. If someone had waited thirty seconds, this wouldn’t have happened. How is it that an animal’s life is worth so little to someone?

A while ago, I made a pact with myself. If I ever saw an animal in need, I would stop whatever I was doing and help. And I know that there are a lot of you out there that would do the same. But for every one of us, there seem to be ten people who don’t care.

It gets disheartening and feels hopeless. Every day there are horror stories of atrocities done to animals. How do we change this? How do we stop this? It will be a long time before I don’t see the image of the hen mourning over her chick whenever I close my eyes. Luckily, I have three kittens to make me laugh and smile.


Be Prepared - Not Just for Boy Scouts

Summertime is in full swing, and you are out and about with your pup. Aside from the usual heat-related suggestions, it’s important to have a first aid kit at the ready.

There are several different kits available online. Or, you can make your own. The important thing is that you have one. This will be your savior when you’re dealing with a toenail that’s been torn, or a muzzle that’s been stung. It will help when your pup gets a scratched pad from running on the beach, or a burn from walking on hot asphalt (don’t make your dog walk on hot asphalt.) It’s important to have a number of things in your kit, but you can make it as big or small as you’d like.

But first, here are some things to remember when you’re working on your pup:

  • A wounded dog may bite. Even if he’s been your faithful friend forever, when in pain, your dog may not know you. In this case, your first aid kit should have some kind of muzzle or restraint.
  • Some body parts bleed a lot more than others. Heads, noses, ears and nails will bleed more than other body parts. It’s easy to get freaked out when you see a lot of blood, but just remembering that ears bleed a lot more might help you stay a bit calmer.
  • Always have the emergency numbers for your vet and local 24 hour animal hospital with your kit. If you are traveling, it’s a good idea to check the area for local animal hospitals along your travel route and your final destination.

Your kit should evolve and be updated regularly. Check the expiration dates of the medicines you have and replace expired ones quickly. Change the contents of the kit for the seasons. For example, you’re probably not going to need bee sting protection in the dead of winter, or you’re probably not going to need frostbite supplies in the hot weather.

There are some things that should be in your kit year round. Things like hydrogen peroxide, Benadryl, bandages, a tourniquet, antiseptic wipes, a syringe, Neosporin or another wound cream, sterile eye wash, a leash, a muzzle or something to restrict your dog’s mouth, styptic powder, scissors, tweezers, tape, a thermometer, dish soap, water and, of course, treats. There are a number of websites that will provide you with a list. Or, ask your vet his or her opinion as to what should be in your kit.

It’s important to be prepared for anything, particularly when you’re on vacation or away from home. A little bit of planning goes a long way when you’re dealing with an emergency. So, be prepared, be safe, and have a great summer!

Leptospirosis and You

Leptospirosis is a disease that's caused by the Leptospria bacteria. This bacteria, which is present in both soil and water, is usually contracted from standing, slow or fast moving water. Leptopirosis, or Lepto, and can be passed from animals to people, but it's rare for that to occur.

Your dog can get Lepto from drinking from rivers, streams, creeks, etc., from other dogs, from rodents, or from farm animals (hence fields). They develop Lepto if their mucous membranes or any wounds come into contact with the bacteria.

How do you know your dog has Lepto? A few of the symptoms that your dog can have are: fevers, muscle tenderness, increased thirst, lethargy, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice or inflammation of the eye, liver and/or kidney failure.

There are vaccines for this disease, however, there are several different strains of the Lepto bacteria, so the vaccine may not prevent all of them. The best thing is to be vigilant about letting your dog romp in water or farm fields. Have your dog checked for the bacteria by your vet yearly. If you suspect that your dog may have Lepto, see your vet promptly. Catching this disease early may prevent chronic liver or kidney disease. Your vet will put your pup on antibiotics, and in a couple of weeks, your dog will be feeling better.

If you have any questions about Lepto, talk with your vet. They can give you tons of information on what to do, and what not to do, to prevent or treat this disease.

How to Walk Your Dog

We know that dogs love coming to Happy Tails, so we’re delighted when we see dogs charging into our foyer. But, sometimes the enthusiastic pup is pulling a bedraggled owner behind them. It’s no fun being pulled by your dog. Your pup has to learn that, while it’s great that he’s excited to get to his friends, he doesn’t have the right to pull you like a 5 year old with a helium balloon.


There is a technique to teaching your dog to walk. We call it Loose Leash Walking. Here is what you will be doing:

1.        Create a zone – We call this creating a batter’s box. In baseball, when a batter steps out of the batter’s box, the game stops. When you create a zone, you’re creating an area that your dog walks in. That zone can be as small or large as you’d like. However, when your dog steps outside of that zone, you stop. That’s it. Just stop. But stopping is hard.

Both humans and dogs have this thing called Oppositional Reflex. This is a reflex that makes you want to pull your head in the opposite direction when someone pulls your hair. This is the reflex that makes your dog want to pull more when you’re pulling on his leash. This ends up in a tug-of-war, which you’re probably going to lose.

So, we say “Don’t pull, just stop.” Because this is harder than you think we suggest something like putting your hand in your pocket, or tying the leash around your waist. You may not get far, but your dog will learn the dimensions of the zone (or leash) and learn that if he pulls, he won’t get anywhere….fast.

2.        Praise your dog – When your dog is walking along side of you, praise them. We always tell our dogs what we DON’T want them to do, but we rarely tell them what we WANT them to do. It’s a lot more specific to tell a dog what you’d like them to do than to let them try and it out themselves. If you’re using a command, like With Me, then say “Good With Me, Fido!!”

3.        Get your dog to pay attention to you – When you’re walking with your dog, it should be a partnership. If you’re boring, your dog will look for something more interesting to engage in. So, talk to your dog, use the Look command, walk fast, walk slow, turn directions, slalom telephone poles…do whatever you can to make the walk fun.

4.        Share the walk – Your dog wants to smell who has been around lately. So, tell him “If you walk to the hydrant nicely, you can sniff there for a bit.” Also, remember that this walk is for both of you. If you need to get some exercise, that’s great. But if you take off at Mach 6 and you have a small dog, he’s not going to enjoy himself after a block or two. So, half the time you’re asking for him to walk appropriately, and half the time you’re letting him enjoy himself with sniffs, or rolls, or whatever.

Rules about walking

There are a couple of rules about walking your dog:

First, don’t wrap your leash around your wrist and arm. If your dog started to run, you might not be able to disengage. This is a dangerous way to hold a leash. Hold the leash with two hands, or use a shorter leash. Shorter leashes make it easier to train your dog to walk with you because they don’t much momentum to pull you off your feet. Using a 2 foot long leash or traffic lead will help your dog learn the zone quicker.

Second, relax. If you keep your arm at a weird angle, or you’re walking stilted, your dog is going to feel like you’re acting strange. Just be relaxed and trust your dog. Be aware of what’s going on around you, but try and enjoy yourself.

What you need

As we’ve said, we recommend short leashes when you’re starting to teach your dog. Once they start understanding the zone, you can switch to a longer leash. Choose a leash that is comfortable when you hold it folded up in one hand. Also, for those times that your dog sees a squirrel and takes off despite all of his training, a nylon leash can leave a nasty burn. Leather leashes, while a bit more expensive, are a lot less painful.

Harnesses seem like a good thing, especially when you have a dog that’s gagging and choking because he’s pulling. If your dog is making himself gag, you probably should use a harness. We recommend the Harness Lead because it doesn’t put any stress on a dog’s throat, sternum or back. Remember, dogs running the Iditarod wear harnesses so that they can get their entire weight behind their pull.


You love your dog. You just have to show him how to walk with you better. Remember, if you’re frustrated, your dog is, too. Be patient, it takes a while for dogs to get this command. Create a zone and get your dog to focus on you. If he goes out of the zone, stop and try not to pull. Remember to praise your dog when he’s doing the right thing. And, you want to have fun and make the walk interesting for both of you.

This is just a basic introduction to Loose Leash Walking. In our classes and workshops, we go into greater detail and help you practice this technique.

The Fourth of July!

You know that your dog can hear and smell things better than you, right? My dog can hear a squirrel drop an acorn out of a tree three blocks away. These heightened senses can make things like thunderstorms and fireworks displays nervewracking for dogs. Did you know that there is an increase of lost dogs and cats after fireworks? Even though your dog may not have responded in the past doesn't mean that they won't this year. Or, maybe they don't react to your town's fireworks display, but they may react to your neighbor setting off bottle rockets.

Keep your pup safe. Here are some tips for helping your pup to have a great Independance Day.

  • Don't set of fireworks at home. If you plan on doing so, put your dog inside, preferably someplace safe and secure, like their crate or your bedroom. Don't think that he's going to want to watch the display. And, let everyone that is attending your fireworks display know that your dog must stay inside.
  • Don't bring your dog to your town's fireworks display. There are too many bad scenarios to list here, so... just don't.
  • Make sure that your dog is wearing a collar with tags that include your phone number and maybe the Animal Control Office of your town. I knew a dog that bolted when his neighbor set off a string of firecrackers. The dog ran onto a highway, and luckily, was picked up by some good Samaritans. Because he had his tags on, the good Samaritans were able to call his owner when they got home - 25 miles away.
  • If you know that you're going to be out and about with your pup during fireworks, use two leashes and two collars or a collar/harness, so if he slips one collar, he might not be able to slip the second. Don't use retractable leashes, as a dog that is scared and bolting will think that the big plastic handle thingy is chasing him, making him run faster and further.
  • If your dog is having a difficult time with the noises, there are things like Bach's Rescue Remedy or NaturVet's Calming Biscuits that can help. Or, if your dog has a severe reaction, talk with your vet.

There are some dogs that are un-phased by fireworks. There are some that are terrified. Regardless of how your dog reacts, it's always a good thing to take precautions to ensure your pet's safety.

Oh, and if your house is set on fire by fireworks (as happened to one of our clients), make sure that you have a predetermined evacuation plan for yourselves and your pets. (Their house sustained damage to the roof and the garage - but still....)

Happy and Safe Independance Day from all of us at Integral Dog Training!

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a very common tick-borne disease here in the northeast. Some vets estimate that up to 75% of dogs in the northeast test positive for Lyme. But, your dog might not ever present with the illness. Your vet may want to perform a Lyme test to see if your dog  is carrying the infection. If your dog starts to show signs of lameness, fever, lethargy or enlarged lymph nodes, seek medical attention. These symptoms begin occurring about two to three months after your dog gets the initial infection. Luckily, the medication used to treat Lyme is pretty successful.

The Lyme-infected deer tick has to be attached to your dog for at least 48 hours for the infection to be transmitted. This means that you should do a daily check for ticks. These little suckers are tiny, so be very meticulous in your searches. Prevention is the most sucessful method of avoiding infection. It's probably best to talk with your vet about the best tick preventative for your pup. There are a lot of options out there, and not all of the options suit everyone.

Also, remember that humans get Lyme disease. So, you should do checks on yourself AND your dog after being outside. You don't have to be in the woods. You can get jumped (on by the tick) in your own backyard. Make sure you know the symptoms of human Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a reportable disease, meaning that your doctor is required to report cases of human Lyme disease to the state health department and the CDC. So, don't become a health statistic, cover up with light-colored clothing, use tick repellent and do a tick check when you get inside. Do the same for your pup, although they probably won't want to cover up with light colored clothing.

Hot Cars

Hot cars are deadly for pups. Within a few minutes, a car can become overwhelmingly hot and dangerous, regardless if you leave the windows cracked or not. There are lots of web pages that show graphs of the way that cars heat up. There are YouTube videos of people showing how the temperature raises in the car quickly. I'm not going to go over that information. I'm going to give you some first hand experience on dogs and hot cars.

In 2013, the pet sitter with whom we trusted our dog, left our dog in her car. It was July, and the temperature was 98 degrees. She somehow "forgot" that she had our long-haired, 60 lb. German Shepherd in her black car that she'd parked in her driveway in the blazing sun. While this pet sitter sat inside her air conditioned house, Kismet died alone in her car.

My vet, in an attempt to comfort me, told me that Kismet's death was quick. As you can imagine, it didn't help me feel any better. In fact, this the first time that I've written about Kismet's death. And, as I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I can see her food bowl, which, almost 5 years later, I still can't bring myself to move. 

The repercussions of what happened with Kismet affected our other dog, Karma. Karma couldn't live without his big sister, and died 24 days later of a broken heart. Within less than a month, I lost both of my pups.

Now, whenever I'm in a parking lot and I hear a dog barking in a parked car, I have a visceral reaction. Luckily, in Massachusetts, there are laws against leaving dogs in cars. If you find yourself in a situation where you see a dog trapped in a hot car, do something. Don't let another dog die alone in a hot car.

It's Memorial Day Weekend!

It’s Memorial Day Weekend!

There’s so much to do, now that Summer is kinda sorta officially here. It’s fun to head off to the lake or the beach. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you’re out and about with your pup.

  1. Never leave you dog in a car alone. Not only do cars get exponentially hotter as the minutes tick away, but your dog can get into all kinds of trouble. Parking in the shade and leaving the windows cracked do nothing to dissipate the heat and prevent something awful from happening. Leaving a dog with a collar and a leash in a car is also asking for another tragedy. So, just NEVER leave your dog in a car alone.

  2. Here in Massachusetts, public beaches do not allow dogs on the beach after Memorial Day. If you’re lucky enough to have a private beach, be aware of things that could be dangerous to your dog. This includes things like seaweed, seawater, nettles and jellyfish.

  3. Dogs can have too much water. Dogs that are hyper-hydrated can seem disoriented, sluggish, and dizzy, and are in need of immediate medical attention. While this is a relatively well known occurrence in long distance runners, most people don’t know that it can happen to dogs, too. Too much water in a dog’s system can interfere with their electrolytes and cause serious and fatal problems.

  4. Another thing about letting your dog drink a lot of water is that, while no one is 100% sure, this could be a recipe for bloat. Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach flips, trapping whatever is inside. Having a stomach full of water and then playing has been known to cause bloat. This is a severe life-threatening situation. Within 20 minutes, your dog’s stomach will start dying. You must get to an emergency vet immediately. If you see your dog stretching, drooling, rolling on his back, and generally acting uncomfortable, measure your dog’s stomach. If 60 seconds later the measurement is larger, your dog is in dire need of medical attention. Even if you suspect that it is bloat, you should attend a hospital.

  5. Xylitol is deadly for dogs. This sugar substitute is found in so many foods, it’s almost pointless to list them all. The main culprit is sugarless gum, or anything that’s “sugarless.” Even a large dog ingesting a small amount can be fatal. So, watch for your dog rooting under that picnic table.

We don’t mean to be a Nervous Nellie, but it’s important to us that everyone have a safe and happy Memorial Day!

Gardening and Your Pup - Part II

This list is the second of a two part blog. This list is from the ASPCA website, where more plants are listed. I've included the more popular plants here on this list. Please refer to the ASPCA website for further information.

  • Rhubarb - Can cause vomiting, and salivation. The leaves and roots are toxic to everyone, including you.

  • Poison Hemlock - Can cause agitation, tremors, drooling, diarrhea, paralysis and death.

  • Poison Parsnip (also known as cowbane) - Can cause diarrhea, seizures, tremors, extreme stomach pain, dilated pupils, fever, bloat, respiratory depression and death.

  • Ragwort (or Tansy) - Can cause liver failure, weight loss, weakness, lack of coordination and neurological problems.

  • Rhododendron - Can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, weakness, coma, hypotension, cardiovascular collapse and death. Only eating a few leaves can cause serious issues.

  • Skunk Cabbage - Can cause oral irritation, pain and swelling of the mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.

  • Sorrel - If eaten in large quantities can cause weakness, muscle fasciculations, and potential seizures.

  • Vinca - Vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, depression, tremors, seizures, coma and death.

    When in doubt, you can go to the ASPCA's website and select Animal Poison Control. The ASPCA also has an app that you can download called ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).

Gardening and Your Pup

Spring is here!

And it's beautiful outside! The flowers, the trees, the bushes, everything is in bloom. It smells wonderful! Especially to your dog. I know you want to be outside with your pup, basking in the warmth and fresh air. We want your outings to be fun and safe, so here are a list of plants that you may have in your yard or local park that are bad for your dog:

This list is the first of a two part blog. This list is from the ASPCA website, where more plants are listed. I've included the more popular plants here on this list. Please refer to the ASPCA website for further information.

  • Bittersweet - Causes vomiting, diarrhea weakness and seizures.
  • Holly - Causes vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
  • May Apples - Causes vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, panting and coma. Can also cause redness and skin ulcers.
  • Yews - Causes tremors, difficulty breathing, vomiting, seizures and sudden death from acute heart failure.
  • Azaleas - Causes vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and cardiac failure.
  • Begonias - Causes kidney failure, vomiting and salivation.
  • Laurel - Causes vomiting, diarrhea, depression, cardiovascular collapse, hypersalivation, weakness, coma, low blood pressure or death. Even a few leaves are dangerous.
  • Black Nightshade - Causes hypersalivation, severe gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, drowsiness, confusion, lethargy, weakness, dilated pupils and slow heart rate.
  • Black Walnut - Can cause tremors and seizures.
  • Ivy - can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation and diarrhea. The foliage is more toxic than the berries.
  • Buckeye - Severe vomiting and diarrhea, depression or excitement, dilated pupils, coma, convulsions and instability.
  • Iris - Can caulse salivation, vomiting, drooling, lethargy and diarrhea.
  • Cardinal Flower - Can cause depression, diarrhea, vomiting, hypersalivation, abdominal pain and heart arrhythmia.
  • Caster Bean (Caster Oil Plant) - I'm just going to copy from the ASPCA's site here: Beans are very toxic: oral irritation, burning of mouth and throat, increase in thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, convulsions. Access to ornamental plants or pruned foliage most common in poisonings. Ricin is a highly toxic component that inhibits protein synthesis; ingestion of as little as one ounce of seeds can be lethal. Signs typically develop 12 to 48 hours after ingestion, and include loss of appetite, excessive thirst, weakness, colic, trembling, sweating, loss of coordination, difficulty breathing, progressive central nervous system depression, and fever. As syndrome progresses, bloody diarrhea may occur, and convulsions and coma can precede death.
  • Choke Cherry - The stems, leave and seeds of this plant contain cyanide. Can cause dilated pupils, brick red mucous membranes, difficulty breathing, panting and shock.
  • Daffodils - Can cause vomiting, salivation and diarrhea. Can also cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors and cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Dock - Can cause kidney failure, tremors and salivation.
  • Foxglove - This is the plant that Digitalis is made from. It can cause cardiac arrhythmia, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure, death.
  • Horse Chestnut - Severe vomiting, diarrhea, depression or excitement, dilated pupils, coma, or convulsions.
  • Hops - Can cause panting, high body temperature, seizures, death.
  • Larkspur - Can cause neuromuscular paralysis, constipation, colic, hypersalivation, muscle tremors, stiffness, weakness, recumbency and convulsions, in addition toe cardiac failure or death from respiratory paralysis.
  • Lily of the Valley - Can cause vomiting, irregular heart beat, low blood pressure, disorientation, coma and seizures.
  • Milkweed - Can cause vomiting, profound depression, weakness, anorexia and diarrhea. These may be followed by seizures, difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, dilated pupils, kidney or liver failure, coma, respiratory paralysis and death.
  • Morning Glory - Can cause vomiting or, taken in large amounts, hallucinations.
  • Moss Rose - Can cause kidney failure, tremors and hypersalivation.
  • Oleander - Can cause drooling, abdominal pain, diarrhea, colic, depression and death.

I will upload Part II of this list next Sunday. In the meantime, have fun, be safe and enjoy your spring!

Finally! Spring is here!

It's been a long winter. It seemed like the snow would never stop. But, finally, it seems to be getting warmer. That means that you and your dog are going to be outside a lot more. So, here are some things to consider.

There are a lot of poisonous plants out there. Things like azaleas and rhododendrons can be harmful if ingested by your dog. English ivy and yews are two other plants that are dangerous. The ASPCA has a great list of toxic plants. If you look around your yard, you'll probably find more than a few.

We want our lawns to look great, so we feed them so that they grow nice and lush. And then we mow them and complain because we have such lush lawns. Fertilizers can be very toxic. Read the ingredients and make sure they're safe for your four legged friend. Mulches can also be dangerous. Especially coco bean mulch. Check with your landscape expert to find the best mulch type for you and your dog.

Since you have such a great looking lawn, you'll be attracting a lot of wildlife. With wildlife, such as deer, rabbits, groundhogs and skunks, come with myriad other issues to worry about. Be aware of what is outside when you take your pup out for his evening constitutional. Thirty seconds of scouting out the yard is better than 3 hours of trying to de-skunk your dog. 

Being aware of the dangers lurking in your yard is important. With a few preemptive steps, you can prevent a trip to the emergency room, or worse.

Holidays can be great...

We all love or hate the holidays. But this time of year can be stressful for both two-legged and four-legged participants. Here are some things to keep in mind while you're travelling.

Make sure that you have a copy of your pet's records with you. Make an ID tag with the address and phone number of the place you're going to. It's a good idea to map out vets along the way, and to find the nearest animal hospital when you arrive.

It's also a good idea to make a list of things to bring, including a canine first aid kit. Ensure that your dog is secure in your car with a harness and seat belt connector, or keep him in his crate while travelling. NEVER let your dog ride in the front seat or - even worse! - on your lap. Not only is it dangerous for you and your dog, it is illegal in many states. That said, it might be a good idea to look up local laws so that you know what to expect. For example, some states require that a dog is kept on a 6 foot leash and not a flexible lead. Other states allow dogs to travel in the bed of pickup trucks, others (thankfully) don't.

If you're going through tolls (and don't have an EZ Pass), it's even more imperative that you keep your dog tethered so there's no jumping out of windows.

If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you might want to bring some of your house's water. I've heard the sometimes the water differences can upset a dog's stomach. Or just use bottled water. Don't forget treats and toys, something to occupy them while you and your family are sipping eggnog.

Be wary of the ribbons, tinsel and other hazardous things that we festoon our houses with during the holidays. If your dog ingests something toxic or bad, call the closest vet. If that's not an option, the ASPCA has a poison control hotline at 888-426-4435. Keep the numbers close so that you're not running around looking for them.

It's better to plan for the worst and expect the best, than to be caught off guard.

And with that, all of us from Integral Dog Training wish you a happy and safe holiday!

Why Train Your Dog?

Whenever we work with people, we try and emphasize that training is not about getting your dog to "do tricks." Training your dog allows you to show your expectations to your dog. It also helps you develop a line of communication.

We hate the word "train" because it has so many definitions, and none of them really fit our philosophy. We prefer the word "integrate" because it implies that you're working with your dog in a partnership to help him fit into your life. It may be just semantics, but it's an important distinction. Having a dog is to have a partnership. And the only way you can get that partnership is to learn how to communicate with each other.

We often say that getting a dog is a bit like getting a foreign exchange student (do they still do that?) When a dog comes into your home, chances are they have no idea what to do or what to expect in any situation. Your dog may not know that you don't want him to grab Grandpa's cane and run out the back door. She may not understand that standing on the table is a no-no. It's your job, as the host family, to explain to your new exchange student that we don't celebrate a great dinner by throwing our dishes into a fireplace. It's also your job to explain to your dog that jumping on people when they come in the door is not the best choice they have.

When you welcome a dog into your home, you have to show him the ropes. This is where training comes in. Training isn't about bending a dog's will to your command. It's about teaching you and your dog to communicate. Your exchange student speaks Labrador, but you only speak English. Your dog can learn English, and you can learn Labrador, but you have to work at it together.