Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? Understanding Your Dog’s Craving

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? Understanding Your Dog’s Craving

Dog parents like me have likely observed their pups grazing on grass at some point, leaving many to wonder why dogs engage in this behavior. While it may seem peculiar, dogs eating grass is a common behavior, and researchers and veterinarians have proposed several explanations for this quirky habit.

Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass:

  • Digestive Aid:  One theory suggests that dogs eat grass as a means to induce vomiting. In the wild, dogs may consume plant material to help purge indigestible matter from their stomachs. Grass, with its fibrous texture, may act as an irritant and trigger vomiting, in order to remove unwanted substances.
  • Nutritional Deficiency:  Some experts propose that dogs may eat grass due to nutritional deficiencies in their diets. If a dog lacks certain vitamins  or minerals, they might instinctively seek out alternative sources in the form of vegetation. However, it’s crucial to note that modern dog diets are carefully formulated to meet nutritional requirements, making this explanation less likely.
  • Instinctual Behavior:  Eating grass could be an instinctual behavior inherited from the dog’s wild ancestors. Wolves and other wild canines have been observed eating plants.  This behavior may have been carried on to domesticated dogs.

  • Boredom or Anxiety: Dogs, like humans, can resort to certain behaviors out of boredom or anxiety. If a dog is left alone for extended periods of time and lacks mental control, it may turn to eating grass as a form of entertainment or self-soothing.

  • Taste and Texture: Some dogs simply enjoy the taste or texture of grass. Dogs use their mouths to explore the world, and the different textures of grass may be appealing to them. This is especially true for puppies, who are known to explore the world through mouthing.

  • Natural Laxative: Grass contains a significant amount of fiber, and ingesting it may act as a natural laxative for dogs. In some cases, dogs may consume grass to help alleviate constipation or other digestive issues.

Is Eating Grass Bad for Dogs?

The act of eating grass itself is not inherently harmful to dogs. In fact, many dogs consume grass without experiencing any adverse effects. However, there are concerns about the potential ingestion of pesticides or chemicals present on the grass, which could be harmful to dogs.

Effects of Eating Grass on Dogs:

While most dogs can tolerate eating grass without consequences, there is a risk of gastrointestinal upset if the grass is treated with chemicals. Signs of distress may include vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy.

How Can I Stop My Dog from Eating Grass?

If you’re concerned about your dog’s grass-eating habits, consider these strategies:

  • Ensure a Balanced Diet: Make sure your dog is on a well-balanced diet to address any potential nutritional deficiencies.

  • Provide Mental and Physical structured activities : Engage your dog in regular structured activities where he or she has to practice self control. This way your dog will be tired and  content instead of getting restless, bored and anxiuos. Note that unstructured games or activities can lead to restlessness and more anxiety. 

  • Choose Safe Grass Areas: If your dog enjoys grazing, ensure they do so in areas free of pesticides or harmful chemicals.

Is Eating Grass Instinctual or a Psychological/Physical Need?

While the exact reason dogs eat grass remains a subject of debate, it likely involves a combination of instinctual behavior, exploration, and potential physical or psychological needs. Dogs may eat grass for various reasons, and the motivation behind this behavior can vary from one individual to another.

When Should I Call the Vet?

If your dog exhibits signs of distress such as persistent vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or if you suspect they have ingested toxic substances from the grass, it’s crucial to contact your veterinarian promptly. A professional can assess the situation and provide appropriate guidance based on your dog’s specific circumstances.

While grass consumption is a common behavior in dogs, understanding the underlying reasons can help pet owners make informed decisions about their dog’s well-being. Monitoring the environment, ensuring a balanced diet, and seeking veterinary advice when necessary are key components of responsible dog ownership.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved December 2023

Is Sleeping with Your Dog a Good Idea?    Navigating the Debate on Sharing Your Bed with Your Dog

Is Sleeping with Your Dog a Good Idea? Navigating the Debate on Sharing Your Bed with Your Dog

As the sun sets and the day winds down, many dog parents face a nightly dilemma – to invite their four-legged companions into the bed or not. The discussion surrounding co-sleeping with dogs has evolved into a nuanced debate, with pet parents weighing the pros and cons of this age-old practice.questions like: Is it good for my dog to sleep in my bed? Is it good for my kids to sleep with our pup? Is it good for me? 

In this discussion, we’ll dissect the intricacies of sleeping with your pup, considering the health implications for both humans and dogs, evaluating the potential benefits and drawbacks, and examining scenarios where co-sleeping might not be a good idea.

Is it Healthy for Me to Sleep with My Dog?

The emotional bond between humans and their dogs is undeniable, and for many, the idea of sharing a bed is a testament to that connection. Research suggests that having a pet in the bedroom, particularly a dog, can positively impact sleep quality. The companionship and sense of security provided by a canine bedmate can reduce stress and anxiety, promoting a more restful night’s sleep.

Nevertheless, the debate persists as some argue that co-sleeping with dogs may lead to disturbances in sleep patterns. Dogs, creatures of routine, may wake up during the night or shift around, potentially disrupting their owner’s sleep. Additionally, concerns about allergies arise, as dogs can introduce allergens into the bed, which may affect individuals with allergies or asthma.

Is it Healthy for Dogs to Sleep in Our Beds?

Dogs, being descendants of pack animals, often crave closeness with their human family members. The practice of sleeping in close proximity can deepen the bond between pets and their owners. However, considerations such as the size and breed of the dog become crucial factors. Larger dogs might occupy more space, potentially causing discomfort for both the dog and their human bedmate. Striking a balance between companionship and the dog’s need for undisturbed sleep is paramount.

Pros and Cons for Humans:

Pros:

  • Comfort and Companionship: The warmth and presence of a dog can provide a sense of comfort and companionship.
  • Stress Reduction: Studies have linked the presence of a dog to reduced stress levels and improved mental well-being.
  • Warmth: Dogs’ body heat contributes to a cozy sleeping environment, especially during colder nights.

Cons:

  • Disturbed Sleep: Dogs may move around or wake up during the night, potentially disrupting the owner’s sleep.
  • Allergies: Allergens from dogs, such as dander, may be a concern for individuals with allergies or asthma.
  • Space Issues: Larger dogs may take up a significant portion of the bed, leading to discomfort for the owner.

Pros and Cons for Dogs:

Pros:

  • Bonding: Co-sleeping can strengthen the emotional bond between dogs and their owners.
  • Comfort: Dogs often find solace in being close to their human companions.
  • Security: Sleeping with their owners can make dogs feel more secure and reduce anxiety.

Cons:

  • Space Constraints: Dogs may have limited space to move around, affecting their comfort.
  • Disrupted Sleep: Human movements or restless sleepers can disturb a dog’s sleep.
  • Allergens: Dogs may be exposed to allergens present in the human bed, affecting their health.

Some of Us Should not sleep with our dogs

While the benefits of co-sleeping with dogs are evident, certain situations call for caution or abstaining from this practice.

Breathing Issues:

Individuals with respiratory conditions, such as sleep apnea or snoring, may find that a dog’s presence exacerbates these issues. In such cases, maintaining a separate sleeping space for the dog is advisable to ensure the owner’s respiratory health.

Some Dogs with Behavioral Issues Should Not Join the Family Bed:

Co-sleeping with dogs can be a delightful experience, fostering a sense of companionship and warmth. However, the decision to welcome your canine companion into your bed should be guided by considerations that go beyond mere comfort. One crucial factor to assess is the behavior of the dog, as it can significantly impact the co-sleeping dynamic.

For starters, Dogs with behavioral problems, such as aggression or possessiveness, may not be suitable bedmates. Co-sleeping can reinforce dominant behavior in some dogs, potentially leading to conflicts and safety concerns. On top[ of that some dogs will bite when they get startled or woken up from a deep sleep without any warning. 

Puppies, despite their undeniable cuteness, might not be the ideal bedfellows in the initial stages of their development. While they undoubtedly crave the warmth and security of being close to their human family, allowing them into the bed too early might contribute to the development of separation anxiety. Puppies, like human infants, need to learn independence and establish a routine that includes periods of separation to avoid potential attachment issues. A separate sleeping area, perhaps a cozy crate, can provide them with a secure space while still being close to their human companions.

Beyond the realm of puppyhood, certain dogs may exhibit behavioral issues that make co-sleeping less than ideal. Dogs with anxiety or separation anxiety issues, for instance, might not thrive in the family bed environment. While the instinct to seek comfort from their owners is strong, dogs with anxiety-related challenges may benefit from a structured routine that includes crate training. A well-designed crate can become a safe haven, offering a retreat for the dog to cope with their anxiety and establish a sense of security.

Co-sleeping can inadvertently reinforce certain behaviors, and for dogs with anxiety, the close proximity to their owners might exacerbate rather than alleviate their distress. Crate training, when approached with positive reinforcement and patience, can provide these dogs with a designated space where they feel secure, reducing anxiety and promoting better overall mental well-being.

As you can see the decision to allow your dog into your bed is a multifaceted one. Puppies, with their boundless energy and need for structure, may benefit from a separate sleeping space to foster independence and prevent separation anxiety. Similarly, dogs with anxiety or separation anxiety issues may find solace in a well-designed crate, offering them a retreat that aids in managing their emotional challenges. As responsible pet parents, it is our duty to recognize and address the unique needs of our pups, ensuring that the sleeping arrangement contributes positively to their overall well-being.

In the grand scheme of things the choice to sleep with your dog is deeply personal and dependent on various factors, including lifestyle, preferences, and the needs of both the owner and the dog. Whether you decide to snuggle up with your dog or designate separate sleeping spaces, the key is to prioritize the well-being of both human and canine sleep partners. In the ever-evolving debate of sleeping with your dog, acknowledging the uniqueness of your case and the above mentioned factors is key to create and foster a harmonious coexistence, both day and night.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved December 2023

“Leash-Free Living: Is Your Dog Park Ready for Off-Leash Adventure?”

“Leash-Free Living: Is Your Dog Park Ready for Off-Leash Adventure?”

In the world of dog ownership, the idea of letting your dog roam freely in parks, dog runs, or on beaches seems idyllic. There’s a common misconception that in these off-leash environments, dogs will naturally figure things out and tire themselves out in the process. However, the reality is far from it. Allowing your dog to run, play, or fetch in an “out of control state of mind” or in an unstructured environment doesn’t lead to exhaustion but rather restlessness and heightened excitement. This often leaves pet parents puzzled when their dogs remain full of energy despite hours of daily exercise.

Think of “Off Leash Park Time” as a sport or game with rules. Without these rules, it can quickly turn into chaos, much like an unsupervised playground of toddlers. As any parent knows, a lack of rules and structure leads to crying, fighting, and tantrums. Similarly, in off-leash areas, unstructured play can result in restlessness and stress, manifesting as destructive behaviors or tantrums at home. 

Contrary to popular belief, an off-leash dog park or run is not a natural wilderness where dogs establish their own rules and structure. In reality, these environments are created by humans and come with a set of rules that dogs need to follow. The constant influx of different dogs in these spaces makes it challenging for them to establish any form of consistent structure, and chaos can ensue with the introduction of a single new dog. 

Although some times dogs off leash in a park can figure it out, that’s usually because only well behaved dogs tend to go to off leash parks. But it takes one dog to start creating chaos and that dog can be your dog if you’re not careful.

Excitement is often mistaken for happiness, especially when dogs anticipate a trip to the park. However, unchecked excitement without limits or rules can quickly lead to “out of control” behavior, encompassing issues like excessive barking, rough play with the wrong dogs, fixations, aggression, and possessiveness over toys. The root cause? Lack of boundaries and rules from the outset.

To make the most of off-leash experiences and maintain control, consider the following steps in more detail:

1. Controlled Walks:

Start controlling your dog’s behavior from the moment you leash them up at home, not just when you reach the park. Walking should be a controlled, tension-free experience. Encourage loose-leash walking, where your pup walks beside you or slightly behind you, without pulling. This sets the tone for a calm and controlled entry into the off-leash environment.

2. Entrance and Leash Removal:

Ensure your dog enters the park in a calm state of mind. If your dog is overly excited or pulling at the leash, take a moment to wait until they settle down. Only remove the leash when they are not pulling or exhibiting excessive excitement. This simple step can prevent the release of pent-up energy in an uncontrolled manner.

3. Constant Movement:

Encourage your dog to follow you by changing locations within the park. If the area is spacious enough, consider moving from one spot to another rather than remaining stationary. This keeps your pup engaged and focused on your actions, fostering a sense of connection. A dog that is mentally engaged with its owner is more likely to exhibit controlled behavior.

4. Setting Limits:

Establishing boundaries during play or interactions is crucial. Call your dog to you for a break, particularly if their excitement levels are escalating. Intervene when play becomes too rough or if things are about to get out of control. Temporary leashing can also be a useful tool to help your dog calm down. These strategies may vary based on your dog’s unique personality and the specific situation, emphasizing the importance of adaptability. 

Creating and maintaining harmony in an off-leash environment is a nuanced process that requires awareness and effective communication with your pup. Remember, there are no strict rules written in stone—each dog and situation is unique. By adopting a thoughtful and proactive approach, you can ensure that off-leash time becomes a positive and controlled experience for both you and your dog.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved December 2023

Is Your Puppy Training Plan Missing These 4 Key Elements?

Is Your Puppy Training Plan Missing These 4 Key Elements?

When it comes to raising a well-behaved and happy puppy, understanding the nuances between training and behavior is paramount. Mastering the application of these two concepts can be the key to fostering a harmonious relationship with your pup. In this article, we’ll dive into the four essential elements that could be missing from your puppy training plan.

1. Differentiating Training and Behavior: The Foundation of Success

Before diving into the specifics, let’s revisit the core principle of distinguishing between training and behavior. Knowing when and how to employ these approaches forms the foundation of effective puppy parenting. 

Behavior 

Giving structure and setting clear boundaries provide calmness and self-control to your dog. It also builds up trust. Provides clarity on what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t. Boundaries has nothing to do with punishment, dominance or being the alpha. It has to do with clear guidance. Boundaries is not about punishing for bad behavior is about not letting unwanted behavior to happen. 

Obedience/Training.

Working on obedience with positive reinforcement and games provides excitement and fun. It builds performance and it teaches commands or cues like: come, sit, stay, go to your place, drop it etc

Both are important, and you should always aim to have a good balance of both.

The first one, structure and clear boundaries, it’s what takes care of most behavioral issues. The second one obedience and training, teaches dogs commands, cues, and tricks.

2. Socialization: Building Strong Foundations

  • a. Socializing with People: Exposing your puppy to various individuals in different settings is crucial. Encourage interactions with men, women, and children to help them become comfortable and well-adjusted in diverse environments.
  • b. Socializing with Other Dogs: Puppies, having been separated from their littermates, naturally thrive on playtime with fellow canines. This interaction not only provides exercise but also imparts essential social skills, boundaries, and bite inhibition. It replicates the lessons learned in the canine community and contributes to a well-rounded, socially adept puppy.

Moreover, your role as the new parent involves providing structure and guidance, mimicking the role of the mother and adult dogs. Boundaries, structure, and playtime are integral aspects of effective puppy parenting.

3. Teaching Independence: Preventing Separation Anxiety

Dogs, inherently social beings, may struggle with solitude. To avert potential separation anxiety issues, it is imperative to teach your puppy to be comfortable when left alone. Failure to do so could result in incessant barking, whining, destructive behavior, and even inappropriate elimination. As a responsible dog owner, perfecting the art of leaving your puppy alone is crucial for their well-being.

4. Recall Training: The Key For Freedom!

Imprinting the “Come When Called” cue, also known as Recall Training, is a pivotal aspect of your puppy’s education. Puppyhood provides a unique window of opportunity to instill this command, offering a lifetime of benefits. Similar to how humans grasp languages more efficiently in their formative years, puppies absorb cues like “come when called” more readily during their early stages. Seizing this critical period allows you to establish a strong bond with your puppy and ensures a reliable recall throughout their life.

A well-rounded puppy training plan encompasses differentiating between training and behavior, socialization, teaching independence, and imprinting crucial commands like “come when called.” By integrating these elements into your approach, you set the stage for a fulfilling and positive relationship with your puppy, laying the groundwork for a well-behaved and joyful companion.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved Nov 2023

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

According to Learning Theories, Positive Reinforcement is widely recognized as the best and, in fact, the only effective way to impart skills and build self-confidence. However, there are two subtle nuances and flaws within this statement that deserve your attention:

1. Learning skills are distinct from behavioral skills.

2. Self-esteem and resilience also develop when faced with failure and adversity, not solely in times of success.

It is crucial to emphasize that Positive Reinforcement remains an essential tool for nurturing confidence and self-esteem in your dog. Positive Reinforcement stands as the primary method for teaching dogs new tasks or skills, as it hinges on motivation and rewards. Yet, it is not the sole element at play and for many dogs it is not enough.

Let’s talk about  those two very important aspects that you should consider to build self esteem in your dog:

1. Learning Skills vs. Behavioral Skills

Boundaries, rules, and discipline fall under the realm of social behavior and coping mechanisms rather than learning theory methodologies. These are two distinct fields. To illustrate, let me share an example:

Years ago, during my tenure as a jazz musician, I began teaching music to troubled kids in the South Bronx Projects. My teaching approach was rooted in positive reinforcement, yielding fantastic results. Why? Because there were two other staff members responsible for discipline; they adeptly set boundaries and rules, maintaining clarity with the children. My role revolved around the enjoyable task of music instruction, while theirs involved handling conflict and behavioral issues. It’s evident that these roles differ significantly.

I want to stress that, in behavioral training, there is no requirement for physical corrections or the use of tools like prong collars, e-collars, or choke chains. While these tools might have their place when used by knowledgeable trainers, they do not align with my training philosophy and are not, in my opinion and experience, necessary.

2. Self-Esteem and Resilience in the Face of Challenges

Teaching your dog to navigate through distressing situations contributes not only to enhanced self-esteem and resilience but also to self-control, a vital skill in behavioral training. Confronting unfamiliar or uncomfortable circumstances and mastering them cultivates resilience and confidence. This capability enables your dog to respond appropriately and independently when confronted with conflicts. The goal is to teach your dog the ability to cope and react autonomously when conflict arises. Which is what Behavior Training exercises are about.

Relying solely on Positive Reinforcement may lead to a constant need for redirection and the offering of alternative behaviors.

In contrast, behavioral training exposes your dog to stressful situations while maintaining a manageable level of discomfort (under threshold), allowing your dog to learn coping skills, independent thinking, and the power of true choice. This fosters self-control and the development of social skills not impulse control and obedience performance skills like “sit”, “down”,  “wait”,  “place”, etc 

Consider the following example:

If another dog barks and lunges at my dog, my objective in Behavioral Training is not to command my dog to “sit” and “wait”. Instead, my aim is to equip my dog with the skill to control his reactions. It becomes his choice to either ignore the dog, attempt to facilitate socialization, or move away. These choices come from my dog’s self-control, as opposed to my direct commands like “sit,” “wait,” or “leave it.” The ability to control his responses and remain in the “green zone” characterizes Behavioral Training. Conversely, instructing my dog to “sit,” “stay,” or “leave it” constitutes Obedience Training, focusing on conditioned learning from external cues.

Let’s take another example: jumping at guests. 

Dogs jumping results from overexcitement and human reinforcement. In Behavioral Training, the goal is to teach your dog to manage his excitement during guest interactions, preventing jumping from occurring. This avoids the need for correction or redirection. Dogs naturally greet by sniffing and investigating, not by jumping. In Behavior Training we’ll teach the dog to greet guests without jumping. 

In Obedience Training, the objective is to condition your dog to “sit” and “wait” for guests. The issue with Obedience Training arises when dogs lack self-regulation, potentially breaking the “stay” command or barking while in the “place” position. The fundamental problem with this approach is that your dog is “waiting”. At some point you have to release him/her. When you do, then they usually jump on your guests. The other problem is that a lot of high energy dogs, who are usually the jumpers, will bark excessively while waiting in their “Place position”. Teaching your dog to “wait” on Place is not the same as teaching your dog to greet your guests without jumping. 

Behavioral Training exercises and methods are designed to teach your dog self regulation and independent thinking. This eventually translates into social skills and coping skills which will enhance self esteem and self confidence. Obedience Training is designed to condition your dog to obey your cues on command with positive reinforcement. Very different outcomes and methodolgies.

Trends and misleading mantras:

Now, let’s address a recent trend promoting the idea that confidence and self-esteem can only be nurtured through positive reinforcement, banning the use of the word “No,” and cautioning against establishing boundaries.

This mantra goes as follows: “Never tell your dog ‘don’t do that’; instead, teach them what to do.

As with any decision in life, there are trade-offs to consider. To adhere to this mantra, you must navigate a complex labyrinth of environmental control until your dog reaches a state of readiness. This complexity arises due to a lack of clarity regarding boundaries.

In my experience, this mantra has led many dog parents to frustration, failure, and considerable distress for extended periods of time. It does not apply universally to all dogs. I am well aware of this because I find myself busier than ever, inheriting dogs that have gone through programs and protocols failing to establish clear and direct boundaries.

There are methods to impart clear boundaries and rules without resorting to force, corrections, or dominance-based Alpha theories. This reflects my vision and what I have successfully accomplished over the past 13 years designing exercises and routines to teach dogs self control through Behavioral Training.

  © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved September 2023

     

     

    What’s Dog Trancing? Is This Normal?

    What’s Dog Trancing? Is This Normal?

    What is Dog trancing?

    Trancing, also known as “ghost walking” or “shadow chasing,” is a behavior that some dogs exhibit when they enter a hypnotic-like state. It involves the dog walking slowly and deliberately, with their head lowered and their body rigid. During trancing, the dog may appear unresponsive to external stimuli, including their owner’s commands.

    Trancing is not a harmful behavior, but it can be concerning to some dog owners who may not understand why their dog is behaving in this way. It is important to note that not all dogs will exhibit trancing behavior, and it is more commonly seen in certain breeds, such as Bull Terriers, Greyhounds, Whippets, and Salukis.

    So why do dogs trance? 

    There are several theories, but no definitive answer. One theory is that trancing is a self-soothing behavior that dogs engage in to relieve stress or anxiety. In this sense, trancing may serve as a coping mechanism for dogs who are feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

    Another theory is that trancing is an instinctual behavior that is related to the hunting and stalking behaviors of wild canids. When a dog is in a trance-like state, they may be more focused on their surroundings and better able to detect prey. This may explain why some breeds, such as Greyhounds, which were originally bred for hunting, are more likely to trance than other breeds.

    Is Trancing  a concerning behavioral disorder?

    It is important to note that while trancing is generally considered harmless, there are some cases where it may be a cause for concern. For example, if a dog is trancing excessively or in inappropriate situations, such as when they are outside and should be paying attention to their surroundings, it may indicate an underlying medical or behavioral issue. Additionally, if a dog is exhibiting other concerning behaviors, such as aggression or anxiety, it is important to seek the advice of a veterinarian or experienced dog behaviorist.

    Can Trancing be learnt from dog to dog?

    Some dog owners with multiple dogs have reported that their non-trancing dogs will start to trance after watching the other dog trancing. The new dog may trance under the same trigger the first dog tranced under, but oftentimes one dog will prefer to trance under different triggers or environment.

    Should I do anything about it?

    Trancing is an odd peculiar behavior that some dogs have. For the most part trancing is harmless and is not a pre-cursor obsessive compulsive disorder. So when you catch your dog trancing go ahead and let them be. 

    Overall, trancing is a relatively common behavior in dogs, and while the exact reasons for it are not fully understood, it is generally considered a harmless behavior. If you are concerned about your dog’s trancing behavior, it is important to speak with a qualified professional who can help you determine if there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

    © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved April 2023