When Big Ears Aren’t Enough

By Urban Bent Studio
Meet Copper. Once a shy young Shetland Sheepdog living on the streets, Copper was fostered by the Hansen family and is now a sociable well adjusted dog living life with his forever family. But it is not just Copper’s past that makes him different from other dogs. This little fellow is deaf and is presumed to have been born that way. Sadly, even in this day and age, a great many misconceptions surround deaf canines, the foremost stigma being that they are aggressive and impossible to train. However, as Copper will attest, such accusations simply are not true.
Linda Hansen, who shows Shetland Sheepdogs and has titles in Rally, Agility, Obedience and Herding categories, contradicts the unflattering myths surrounding canines who are hard of hearing. “It wasn’t about whether or not we could train Copper,” she says. “He was a bright, intelligent, active, high energy, young dog that was quick to learn. It was more about finding the most effective techniques to help him learn what we wanted from him.”


So how do you begin to communicate with a dog that cannot hear your voice? “You have to think silently,” says Lynn Hyndman, a member of the Canadian Association for Professional Pet Dog Trainers and founder of Dogs in Harmony in Nepean. Hyndman, who offers a variety of private classes, from puppy manners to advanced obedience, says she would incorporate only a few modifications when working with a deaf pupil.
When training a hearing dog basic obedience, you use cue words as commands, such as “sit.” To train a deaf dog, you need to change your cue from an auditory signal to a visual one. Hyndman suggests using standard signals for basic commands such as “sit,” “down,” and “stay,” and then adding signs from the American Sign Language repertoire for more complex tricks. For example, you can pick out signs you like for “shake” and “shake other paw,” but it is important to implement signals with consistent meanings.
There are many ways to teach your dog obedience, but at the end of the day it all comes down to a matter of consistency. Hyndman uses the popular clicker method in her classes, which is used as a tool to mark a specific behaviour that is happening in the moment. “For example, when teaching a dog to sit, you would click when the dog’s tush touches the floor,” explains Hyndman. The pup would then receive a treat and once the behaviour is performed consistently you can phase out the marker and the treat.
Of course, a clicker would not work as a marker when training a deaf dog, so instead Hyndman suggests using a laser light (being extremely careful not to point the light anywhere near the dog’s face.) If laser lights make you a bit antsy, flashlights are also suitable. At the very least you want to be able to communicate to your dog when he has done something good and when he has done something bad. The universal “thumbs up” and “finger wag” are often used for this, but one must not forget body language. All dogs are strong body language communicators and those like Copper are even more attentive to what is expressed through the body, so avoid sending mixed signals when reinforcing or halting a behaviour. Make sure all your attention is focused on the pooch in question. 

By Urban Bent Studio

The Biggest Challenge

According to Hyndman, the biggest challenge when training a deaf dog is not gaining their attention or even keeping their focus, but rather working at a distance from them. In these situations you cannot vocally call or whistle your dog to you, so you want to reinforce a good recall (“come”) from a visual cue. When Hansen wanted Copper’s attention, she would turn the lights in the room on and off. Alternatively, if Copper was not in the room, she would use vibrations to call him by stomping on the floor or tapping walls. It is important to remember that stimulation means nothing to a dog without the proper associations. However, deaf dogs can be trained just as easily as their hearing counterparts.

Keeping Your Pup Safe

Just as hearing dogs startle to loud sudden noises, a deaf dog who is not paying attention to his surroundings may be startled when touched. It is a myth that deaf dogs become aggressive when startled. Just like people, a dog’s reaction depends upon his personality and whether or not he has been conditioned to certain behaviours.
Praise and an abundance of happy things (like treats and belly rubs) can go a long way toward desensitizing your deaf dog to such stimulus. All the same, some owners prefer to give their dog a “heads up” before they touch them, such as stomping on the floor, flicking a light, or tapping a wall to warn them of approaching contact.
The “heads up” cue is also good to establish for social situations. Deaf dogs around their own species are labeled as being socially inappropriate because they fail to respond to verbal cues from other dogs. They are also slow to learn the acceptable “play bite” force, because they can’t hear the yelps of their litter mates. Giving your dogs a “heads up” in this situation can all them to use the appropriate body language when faced with others of their kind and avoid awkward social interactions.
Another great way you can protect your dog is by training them to “check in” with you every so often, by being aware of your constant presence. This is especially important when out of the house. Deaf dogs cannot hear things we take for granted, such as the Doppler effect of a passing car. Keeping your dog on a lead when outside is important to keeping him safe and the sign of a responsible owner (not to mention, it’s the law in many places). You must be their ears and having them know you’re around and “check in” with you gives you an opportunity to warn them of the dangers they cannot hear.

Going to School

If all this training feels a little overwhelming, enrolling in an obedience class is not out of the question. Hyndman believes that should the dog have no behavioural problems, they could do well in either a group or a private class. In addition to strengthening the communication between canine and human and learning amidst plenty of distractions, the class environment is a social environment. It is the perfect place for your dog to learn social cues and “fit in” with hearing dogs.
Over the several months Copper was in foster care with the Hansens, he learned basic obedience and agility. With a little bit of patience, Hansen says, “Copper turned around from a shy dog into an outgoing social guy, who wasn’t ever phased by anything, pretty quickly.”
By Krystine McKinnon

Rover’s Relaxation

By Cindy Orti
A massage can be one of the most relaxing things many people can experience. After a stressful day, a nice rhythmic rubbing of the sub-dermal tissues can just melt that tension away. But why should humans be the only ones to get delightfully deep massages? After all, we’re not the only ones with stressful lives. A full day of stick-catching and best-friend-being is just as exhausting to Rover as a jam-packed day of chores is to us, if significantly more pleasant.

But what does massaging really do? A quick search through the ‘intertubes’ reveals a myriad of results, everything from the sane and logical to the slightly less so. At its most basic, a massage is the poking and rubbing of the skin and muscles. This (when done properly) is good for relaxing any tightness or tension, which in turn can relieve soreness and weakness. Also, tense muscles have a tendency to restrict the flow of bodily fluids, so relieving the pressure can bump up circulations. Lastly, a loose muscle is a injury-free muscle! A supple muscle won’t strain or tear, but a tight one is much more prone to such injuries. Think of the difference between a brand new elastic band, and a dry and crusty elastic band.
By Cindy Orti
Doggie massages are very similar to those of a more human nature, especially in that there are two major veins of it: casual and professional. Casual is something that anyone can do in their homes and is moderately pleasant and relaxing. In essence, the casual pet massage is very much like a long, focused form of petting; not too much force, but just enough to lightly rub the muscles under the skin. For a deeper massage it is necessary to go to a pet masseuse. There are lots of them out there, all accessible with a little bit of local research. Professional massages are much more effective than any preformed by untrained hands, and have boosted benefits over the casual pooch rub-down. Want to learn the intricacies of canine massaging? There are many accredited courses on the subject and most of them can be completed online. Be warned however: these aren’t flakey programs, they are long and intense. For those interested, check out TreeTops Animal Massage Education.
All this said, don’t forget that pets are like people – every one has a different personality and different likes and dislikes. While many pets and people enjoy messages, there are those that quite decidedly do not. If a pooch, at any point, expresses discomfort it’s important to stop immediately. If they were enjoying the massage before that point, just repeat what the doggie liked. Remember, wrestling shouldn’t be a part of the dog massage! But if everything goes right, a nice massage could be just what Rover needs after a hard day of being the best dog he can be.
By Alexander Bentley

Social Butterflies are the New Pet

By James Vorstenbosch
One day my friend and I stumbled upon an amazing find. While walking along the beautiful Harbourfront in Toronto we found The PawsWay: a centre devoted to our four-footed friends, canine and feline alike. Intrigued by the bright colourful banners we decided to investigate and discovered a whole new pet world that revolves around the concept of pet socialization.

Located right in the heart of downtown, The PawsWay is a Purina PetCare Legacy Project – a place where people (and their pets) can go to learn about important pet topics, participate in pet activities and socialize with other pet owners. Admission here is free and your canine friend is very welcome to wag along, as long as they behave appropriately and you are willing to take care of any accidents that might occur. The centre also houses The Purina Animal Hall of Fame to honour the many pet heroes and their brave acts (to learn more, check out this article here). All in all, it is a place designed to celebrate and learn about the joys of pet-hood.
No matter what your interests or breed, The PawsWay offers something for everyone. It’s museum like entrance showcases all sorts of interesting facts and information about cats and dogs in attractive wall displays, like the benefits of owning a pet and insights into behaviour. There’s even a set of scales so you can weigh your furry friend and make sure you’re not spoiling them with too many treats. But interesting facts aren’t where the true fun lies. The centre also offers a variety of events to keep your pup entertained, like agility activities, weekend wellness groups and exclusive photo shoots! The centre even has a weekly walking club where owners and dogs can enjoy the beautiful waterfront routes as a pack.
By James Vorstenbosch
But if you do want something a little educational to go along with all that exercise there are special events which focus specifically on different breeds, such as the Toy or Scottish breeds that were featured in August. The amazing selection of workshops the centre offers might suit your fancy as well. Ever have a question about your pet that nobody seems to know the answer to? Well, The PawsWay hosts regular ‘Ask the Vet’ nights, which can remedy any of your queries and teach you all sorts of things, from training tips to nutritional news.
Of course, if you’re looking for something a little more chill, you and Fido can always drop by and relax during one of their movie nights, featuring… your favourite animal movies, of course! Or you can grab something to drink at the Williams Coffee Pub, which is a dog-friendly eating zone.
Angela Leung, who has visited the PawsWay with her sister and beloved Chihuahua, Oscar, loves what the centre has brought to her little pup’s life. “At the back there are some rooms for dog playgroups,” says Leung. “We occasionally bring him to the Chihuahua playgroup so he can socialize with dogs his own size.” Small dogs like Oscar have a designated time each week to play with each other off-leash. Don’t worry, large breeds get their own time too. “It was relatively nice and clean, which is a change since we’ve been to some other playgroup places which were not as nice,” says Leung, who although preferring outdoor play groups, appreciates the centre’s presence during the summer heat or rainy days when pooch plans are ruined. The indoor play area is also a great alternative for dogs who aren’t so obedient off-leash.
Although a few of the events come with some cost (for example, the meeting groups have a small fee and the Walking Club is $25 for a six-month-membership), the overall expenditure is very reasonable. The centre is an affordable way to meet lots of great people and their respective pooches. Remember, your puppies need some friends too!
Oftentimes pets don’t often have much of a social life. They sit patiently by the front door waiting, while their owners get to go out and party. The PawsWay, however, is striving to give pet’s a fun social outlet, by providing a completely fur-friendly space where people can go with their dogs and cats and watch them transform into social butterflies.
 By Allison Vorstenbosch

August 2010 Pet of the Month!

Little Miss Bailey is nothing short of an extraordinary girl! Once a bedraggled, matted, petrified mop of fur, this adorably sweet tempered Wheaten Terrier mix was adopted by doting parents, Michele and Joel Lonky, from Florida Little Dog Rescue.

Soaking up as much life as she possibly can, Bailey is always thrilled to accompany Mom or Dad to work and delights in being around people no matter what the occasion. Toss her a pair of Mutt Muffs and she’s ready to rock out at a Rob Zombie concert or any other kind of musical extravaganza while Joel is busy working as a sound engineer.

“She is simply the best dog ever,” says Michele without hesitation. “My husband and I are so grateful for her sharing our lives.”

Loving, joyful and in command of one of the waggiest tails you’ll ever see, Bailey is one happy-go-lucky puppy, proving that if you give pups a second chance they will give you their all.

Congratulations Bailey! August 2010’s Pet of the Month!

Punkin, Pumpers, Bailey BooLittle, Booble, B-Dawg
Almost 2 whole years!
It’s gotta be the ball!
Squirrel…no hedgehog…no squirrel! Oh, I can’t choose! Squirrel, hedgehog, flea toy or balls…you pick! Any of those and I’m happy!

Bully Sticks! Sooooo goood!
Not to brag, but I’m kind of a pro at swimming! Barkley Square Dog Park is my most favourite place to paddle!
One day I found an open pack of hotdogs on the kitchen counter at Grandma’s house, just lying there! So I gobbled down as many as I could before getting caught red-pawed!
(I can’t believe this happened…) I was running full speed to jump onto the bed, but misjudged the distance a tad (only a tad!) and had to cling to the side of the bed with just my front legs until Mom came to the rescue. *blush blush*
Amazing by Aerosmith. “Out on the street, just tryin’ to survive…scratchin’ to stay alive… It’s amazing and I’m sayin’ a prayer for the desperate hearts tonight…”

If you would like to nominate your pet friend for next month’s “Pet of the Month” contest, please email submissions to info@pawsh-magazine.com.

Hot Dogs in Canada

By Neeto da Silva

The last eight months have proved to be the warmest on record and the above average temperatures are forecasted to continue through until the end of the year. However, even though summer has finally come to a close and temperatures are cooling off ever so slightly, we cannot lose our vigilance for heat related dangers and how they relate to our pets.

Heat stroke, or hyperthermia, is a life-threatening condition, but is seldom thought about in the cooler months. It is, after all, associated with animals overheating from exposure to heat. However, it is important to note that certain dogs are at higher risks than others and just because the weather outside is cooler does not mean that temperatures inside are.
Hyperthermia is a condition in which the body temperature is elevated above normal.  This can be a response to many things, such as inflammation in the body or the environment.  When humans need to cool down, we sweat through our skin. Dogs are not this fortunate; they release heat by panting and sweating through their pads and nose only. When their internal body temperature reaches 41°C (the average healthy temperature is between 37°C and 39°C) the heat begins to cause irreversible damage to their organs. By this point, there is little time before permanent damage, or death, can occur.
The good news is dogs usually begin to show signs of heat stroke before they need emergency veterinary attention. Dogs suffering from heat exhaustion and then heat stroke will be panting vigorously.  Their gums become dark red and dry or tacky.  They may be nauseous  and vomit.  They will want to lie down and be unwilling or unable to get up.  They may become dizzy or disoriented, or even collapse and loose consciousness.
By Neeto da Silva
The first thing to do if you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke is to move your dog out of the heat.  You may begin cooling your dog with a cool (not iced) wet washcloth placed around their head, their foot pads and their belly.  You want to avoid covering their entire body, as the heat has to escape from somewhere.  You may also offer your dog cool water, but do not force them to drink it.  The idea is to reduce your dog’s internal body temperature to normal quickly and without over doing it.  Hypothermia (lower then normal body temperature) can be just as dangerous. Following these measures, you will want to call your vet and tell them you are on your way.
It is important to remain vigilant in the face of heat stroke, even in this cooler weather. Patti, a very active member on http://www.yorkietalk.com, took Annie, a Pomeranian, to her groomers in the winter.  To dry Annie’s glorious coat, the groomers left her under a dryer and when Patti arrived to take Annie home, she noticed she wasn’t breathing quite right. The owner of the establishment eventually offered Annie some water, but not before her temperature had reached 42°C. Patti immediately called her vet who stayed open late to care for Annie. The little dog was put on an ice pack in an oxygen chamber and given fluids while Patti waited outside. After a few hours, she was doing well and Annie now shows no sign of lasting problems.
Annie was at high-risk of suffering from heat stroke because of her heavy-coat. To lower the risk of long or dark coated dogs, their coats can be trimmed to one inch in length (in hot weather). You want to leave some length as this protects from sunburn and provides needed insulation. The bracycephalic (flathead) breeds, such as Shih Tzus and Pugs, are at the highest risk of suffering from heat stroke. This is because these breeds have short faces and snubbed noses and are not able to effectively ventilate to reduce their body heat. Additionally, the very young and very old, the overweight and those that have heart conditions or breathing problems are at an elevated risk as well.
Although Annie was at a high risk for heat stroke, her condition could have easily have been prevented. Prevention in general can be a very straight forward process if you keep a few key points in mind. First of all, dogs’ temperatures run hotter then humans. Just because you are comfortable does not mean they are. Thus, if you must blow-dry your dog’s coat, use the cool setting. Dogs should also always have access to fresh water. Lastly, and we hear it every year, regardless of the outside temperature, dogs should never be left alone in a car!*
Unfortunately, many dogs are not as lucky as Annie and do not survive their ordeal. Some, like Annie, fully recover with no lasting damage while others require lifelong treatment. The important thing is to take action and prevent heat stroke before it strikes. If, however, you do find your dog in distress, call ahead to your veterinarian and seek medical attention immediately. It can be the difference between life and death.
*For additional preventative measures and information regarding heat stroke, consult with a veterinarian.

By Krystine McKinnon