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Greg Kleva

Greg Kleva is a celebrity in the dog world. He’s a professional dog behavioral therapist and master trainer with Bark Busters Home Dog training. Greg hosts, “It’s a Dog’s Life” on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius XM 110. He makes frequent guest appearances on TV shows and has had many articles written about him and his training methods. Lucky for us, he agreed to sit down for a Petside interview.

Q: Why do some dogs freak out when you go to pat them on the head?

A: Moving toward a dog quickly and reaching over the top of a dog’s head can feel threatening. Just like humans, some dogs are born less affectionate, not touchy-feely, and don’t like having their personal space invaded. We unfairly put pressure on our dogs to accept everything we throw at them. It’s important to know your dog’s individuality. If your pet doesn’t enjoy being picked up, snuggled, or hugged, respect those feelings. Some dogs will shun touch because of past unpleasant experiences. Dog owners who constantly pick the dog up, grab their collar, discipline their dog physically by hitting them or approach too quickly or in a threatening way are programming that dog to lose trust in hands. Dogs don’t understand our emotional reasons for doing things. Even well meaning owners who attempt to interact in a loving, affectionate way can cause a freak out. Some approaches feel overbearing from the dog’s perspective. Think about relatives who grab you too fast and hug too hard. It feels overwhelming and you hate it, right?

Q: Why do dogs look like they feel guilty when they misbehaved?

A: What we interpret as a guilty look can be a display of submission, a dog’s way of saying, “I understand that you’re not happy right now.” Signs of submission include tail down, ears down, head down, or body low to the ground or rolling onto their back to expose the belly. This type of dog body language does not mean the dog feels guilty. Many dog owners say, “My dog knows when he did something wrong.” The reality is, if you walk into a room and your favorite shoes are lying in the middle of the floor chewed to bits, and you shout, “FIDO, WHAT DID YOU DO?!” your dog may slink away and retreat to a safe place but not because he knows what you’re unhappy about. Only if you’ve caught your dog in the act of an unwanted behavior will your body language and stern tone be associated with the canine-misdemeanor taking place at that moment.

Q: Why is it so difficult to train dogs not to bark or pull on their leash?

A: Confusion is the biggest underlying factor where problem behavior is concerned. Don’t assume a dog should know how to walk on a leash. You have to teach the dog what you want. Dog owners complain, “My dog won’t come when I call him.” How much time has been spent teaching what the word “come” means? To raise a happy, well-behaved dog, owners need to commit time to teaching. Another issue that can get in the way is not providing leadership. Dogs who perceive themselves as the boss may pull on the leash or bark. Exercise is very important, too. If a dog is not physically and mentally stimulated they can suffer from boredom or anxiety and problem behavior will ensue.

Q: Does a dog have to be extremely intelligent to learn complicated tricks?

A: Some of the smartest dogs I’ve met were accused of being stupid, stubborn, or deaf. They weren’t. They were confused by their owners’ unclear communications.

Celebrity Dog Trainer Greg Kleva with grown-up Sammy on The Pet Stop with Dr. Brian Voynick
Celebrity Dog Trainer Greg Kleva with grown-up Sammy on The Pet Stop with Dr. Brian Voynick

Q: How can a dog be taught not to eat food off the street?

A: Take time to teach the command, “Leave It.” Begin instruction inside the house where’s there’s less distraction. That will make it easier for your dog to learn. Use less tempting items at first. Get your dog to understand that looking to you when he hears “Leave It” will get him a higher-value reward, like a piece of cheese or meat, and lots of praise. Incrementally move to more distracting environments and use more tempting items to test your dog. Don’t expect your dog to learn if you haven’t worked toward creating this habit. Also make sure your dog is getting the nutrition he needs daily. If your dog isn’t starving for nutrition he’s less likely to scavenge for food on the street.

Q: My dog swallowed pieces of toys a few times but never made a connection between that and the intestinal surgeries. Why?

A: Dog behavior is determined by immediate outcome. It makes sense to us that the dog shouldn’t want to re-live an unpleasant operation but the dog doesn’t make a connection between the two events. That’s human thinking. The dog thinks, “I like swallowing chewed pieces of toys because they smell good and make me feel full.”

You can contact Greg Kleva on Twitter and via Email.

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This little Yankee fan walked upright on his two-hind legs all the way down the runway. So adorable.

Your dog is probably your best friend, or even thought of as a family member, which is why making your dog happy should be one of your number one priorities. This can all change when starting a business, though, as you’ll probably not have much time for yourself, let alone your dog. That said, it’s important you do everything you can to ensure your dog is still happy with the arrangement. Of course, things will have to change and the amount of time you get to spend with your dog will diminish, but there are still plenty of things you can do to ensure your dog is leading a happy lifestyle and these are outlined below.

Take Your Dog for a Long Walk in the Mornings

Your dog won’t be happy with the diminished time they get to spend with you due to your business commitments so it’s important you make sure you take your dog for a long walk at least once per day, even if that means you have to get up an hour earlier in the morning. There is no good to come of letting your dog out in the garden and then expecting another family member to take the dog out for a walk during the day when you could be getting up earlier to do it instead. Deep down, your dog will wonder why they don’t get to see you as much, but as long as they get to spend at least a little time with you per day, that’s is all that matters.

Make the Most of Your Weekends Off

When running a business, it’s hard to have any time off at all, but any time you do get off should be spent with the family and that includes your dog. Whether you go on a day trip somewhere or even just for a walk around the park, try to get your dog involved as much as possible so they don’t feel left out. Even if you are running a successful business that takes up most of your time, it’s always important to make time for your loved ones and that includes your dog.

Buy Your Dog Regular Treats

This doesn’t necessarily mean buy your dog any treats related to food. Instead, buying a new chew toy once every couple of months, and a small treat every week or so, could be the difference between your dog knowing you care and thinking you don’t.

You may well have achieved an online MBA degree via one of the many online MBA programs to give you the business administration experience required to succeed in running your own company, but none of that will matter if you do not spend some time with your loved ones once in a while. Your dog might be a dog, but it doesn’t mean that they do not understand what is going on around them.  So please keep these tips in mind to keep your beloved dog a priority.

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dog collar

Finding the right dog collar and pet ID tag combination can be tricky. You might have had the cutest little collar and bone-shaped ID tag all picked out for your pup, but upon putting it on your dog, it didn’t go down so well.

We know how that feels, clothes can be restricting. If you’ve ever had to wear brassiere you KNOW the relief of taking it off at the end of the day. How do we know it’s not the same for our puppy pals? When I take my dog’s collar off to give her a good brush, she seems to relish in her nakedness. I feel bad putting the collar back on, but I know it’s necessary for her to wear. After all, it has her personal ID and immunization records, so if she’s found wandering away from home (fingers crossed this never happens) the kind stranger that finds her will know her name and to whom she belongs. Though just as an extra safety measure, she’s been microchipped too.

Understanding Your Pooch

Like humans, dogs have unique eccentricities. Some like to run through a dewy field and others would prefer to lie in front of the stove all day—keeping their paws nice and toasty. Some dogs adore playing fetch for hours at the local dog park, others show absolutely no interest in rubber balls. No two dogs are the same, so why would we expect them to be happy with the same uniform collar and tags? I know what you’re thinking…different styles appeal to the dog owner’s taste. Fido may not have our delicate fashion sensibilities. To keep our dogs and ourselves happy about canine accessories it’s fun to check out personalized pet ID tags and collars. It’s fun mixing and matching to find a favorite combo.

What’s in a Lifestyle?

The comfort of a dog collar first depends on your dog’s fur type. Typically, rolled leather collars are best for dogs with long hair, and flat collars are ideal for dogs with short hair. However, the material of the collar and the design of the ID tag depends on the activity levels of your pooch.

For the active dog, the flat nylon collar would be the most durable, particularly if most of the pup’s movements have to do with water sports. The nylon collar forms well around the dog’s neck, and its flathead buckle keeps from being a hindrance. The only problem with the nylon flat collar is that it only lasts for about a year before showing considerable signs of wear and tear. And because the material becomes weakened over time, sewing in a flat, engraved ID will cause it to weaken that much quicker. Thus a nylon collar requires the traditional ID tag.

One way to keep the traditional, dangling ID tag from bothering your four-legged fur baby is by framing the tag in a rubber tag holder. That will keep the tag from bouncing around as much and will silence the clinking of tags, proving to be less of a distraction for your puppy in training.

You can get a flat leather collar for the active dog too, but it requires more care. When leather gets wet, the oils of the leather bind with the water, making the leather more brittle. If the wet collar is not removed and cleaned properly, the water will damage the leather beyond repair. This is about the only drawback of the leather dog collar. Leather collars are more form fitting and move with the movements of the dog. And unlike the nylon collar, you can sew a nameplate tag into the collar without fear of weakening the material.

Here’s to a new year of fun with your dog!

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Paws

Written for Sniff & Barkens • All photos © Dorri Olds
Photo above: Chihuahua Chai Latte shows off her fabulous pink nails.

Celebrity Catwalk’s dog fashion weekend, “Paws in the City, in Manhattan lived up to the hype. Furry beasties and besties got together in the Big Apple and whooped it up for three days thanks to the founder Jennifer Bartok-Taylor. Their mission? To have a blast while raising funds for K-9 brethren through nonprofits: Zani’s Furry Friends, Pugs for Pinky, and Yorkie911 Rescue. It was three days of nonstop fun and heartwarming holiday tales of tailwaggers.

dog fashions
Yeyush and Renzo in Furry Fashionista outfits

“Merry & Bright Yappy Hour” kicked off the weekend on Friday, December 9, followed by “Santa Paws & Pups” on Saturday, and Sunday’s “Bah Humbug Brunch.” Crafty canine fashion designers included Dapper Dogues & Glitzy Paws, Roxie by the Baie, and Off the Cuff Stuff for Pets.

One of the stars this year was Angel Song, an adorable Chihuahua dressed pretty in pink by designer Barbara Klubeck. Angel Song was rescued by fitness coach Summer Strand and their love story is epic. “Ada Nieves of a Chihuahua Meetup group sent an email about a homeless Chi,” said Strand, “Somehow I just knew with my whole being this Chi belonged with me.”

Chihuahua
Summer Strand’s Angel Song in a pink dress by Barbara Klubek.

Read more…

Chai Latte
Chai Latte in Roxie By The Baie outfit (Sparky in the background)

Thinking about adopting a shelter dog over the holidays? Sniff & Barkens’ in-house dog expert Amy Robinson has five reasons to adopt an adult dog instead of a puppy.

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Buddy in Santa Hat

You know what holiday foods you need to avoid, but your pets don’t. Here are 10 common seasonal foods that are the most dangerous to dogs and cats. My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Buddy, is at the tippy-top of every year’s “I give thanks for” list. It’s easy to write out the reasons he rocks my world: Buddy stares at me lovingly with big brown eyes like Bambi’s. He follows me around because he needs to know where I am and what I’m doing every second of every day.

The Budster Velcros himself to me while we’re watching TV or reading. Whenever I awaken, his little brown-and-white head pops up like a periscope. OK, we could be here all day. Let’s reel me in. I’ll stop there and get back to the topic at hand — which foods are dangerous for your pets to ingest during Thanksgiving and holiday season festivities.

REMEMBER, SIZE DOES MATTER

The smaller the pet and the larger the portion of the food they ingest, the more likely you will have to rush your dog to the emergency room, so don’t take any chances. Be sure that all of your guests, especially children, understand that they are not to give anything to the dog or cat. Many people have no idea what certain foods can do to animals, so here is my list of the top 10 worst offenders at a holiday celebration:

TURKEY OR CHICKEN BONES

These are extremely dangerous for your pets because the bones can easily splinter and get stuck in your furry loved one’s gastrointestinal tract. The sharp edges from splintered bones can cause dangerous perforations. An all-too-common choking hazard can occur if a bone becomes lodged in the throat of your dog or cat. Please be careful over the holidays to not leave anything in the kitchen garbage. Pets know how to be sneaky and can easily get into it. Take the garbage outside, tie it and secure it in a covered garbage can far away from Fifi or Fido.

CHOCOLATE

Obviously, chocolate can contain a lot of fat, that is why we get fat when we eat too much of it. Fat isn’t any good for your pets, either. Chocolate also contains methylxanthines, which are stimulants including the obromine and caffeine. Depending on the size of your dog or cat, the amount of chocolate eaten and the type of chocolate (milk, dark or baking), horrid things can happen. Your pet may experience vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, irregular heart beat, seizures and even death. Their little pancreas can become inflamed causing pancreatitis, which can be fatal. Four ounces of milk chocolate — or merely half an ounce of baking chocolate — can seriously harm a 10-pound pet.

XYLITOL

This sugar substitute is often found in candy, gum or other packaged foods and even in toothpaste. If your dog or cat ingests as little as an eighth of a teaspoon of xylitol, it can cause pancreas to secrete insulin, which can lead to dangerously low blood sugar. Ingesting half a teaspoon could lead to liver damage or even liver failure. Symptoms include vomiting, loss of muscle control, lethargy and seizures. Liver failure can occur quickly. Rush your pet to the animal hospital.

GRAPES OR RAISINS

Did you know that your dog or cat could become extremely sick just by eating a handful of grapes or raisins? Nobody knows exactly why because the poisonous substance has never been identified, but even in small amounts, grapes or raisins can cause acute renal failure, and your beloved fur-baby could die. Don’t take a chance. Symptoms of a toxic reaction include diarrhea, excessive thirst, urinating excessively or not at all and lethargy. There is no antidote. Get your pet to a hospital immediately.

ALCOHOL

What you may perceive as only a smidgeon of alcohol can poison your pets. It’s very common for drinks to be left unattended at a holiday gathering, and your pet could easily be attracted by the smell of liquid in a glass, especially if it’s a sweet cocktail. Don’t leave open bottles on counters, either, and remember that many other foods — like rum cake or wine sauce — can contain enough liquor to put your dog or cat in danger. Alcohol poisoning can cause liver and brain damage. Just two teaspoons of whiskey can cause a coma in a five-pound pet; three teaspoons could kill. Obviously, the higher the alcohol proof the more damage it can cause.

DAIRY PRODUCTS

Most cats are lactose intolerant. Dogs can be, too. Lactose is made up of two sugar molecules. For a dog or cat to digest foods that contain lactose, their bodies must contain lactase, an enzyme that can split up the two sugars and make them digestible. Without lactase, your pets’ system cannot digest dairy foods containing lactose. Signs of upset include vomiting, gas and diarrhea.

MACADAMIA NUTS & WALNUTS

Macadamia nuts can cause toxicosis. Symptoms usually occur within 12 hours of ingestion and last for approximately 12 to 48hours. Your poor little doggie can experience vomiting, tremors, increased heart rate, fever, hypothermia and even become unable to stand. Although uncommon, it can lead to death.

ONIONS, GARLIC, SAGE, NUTMEG

Onions and garlic contain sulfides, which can damage red blood cells. Too much of one of these taste enhancers can cause toxic anemia. Days can go by before you notice a problem. This warning includes all forms of onion: powdered, raw, cooked, dehydrated, leeks, scallions and chives. Nutmeg can cause seizures. Sage and other herbs have oils that can cause stomach pain and/or affect a pet’s central nervous system. Cats are especially sensitive to sage.

CAFFEINATED COFFEE, TEA & SODA

Caffeine can harm your dog or cat. It can cause heart palpitations, rapid breathing and muscle tremors. In large quantities, it can cause death. Caffeine is also in some cold medicines and pain relievers, but I’m sure you already know that any medicine for humans, even over-the-counter stuff, can kill animals. That’s why there are warning signs all over the packaging and many medicines come with safety caps. So, as Judge Judy loves to say, “Don’t be stupid.”

THE MAKINGS OF THE MEAL

The kitchen is one big danger zone. While you are preparing your holiday meals, keep the following big offenders in mind. Uncooked eggs can cause salmonella poisoning or E. coli infection. Yeast dough is an extreme hazard. The uncooked dough can rise, and while it is expanding in your pet’s stomach, it can cause dangerous distress. If you abandon the kitchen to join your guests, do not leave any of these things accessible to your pet: fat trimmings, gravy, rich sauces, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, turkey cloth, wax paper, batter, spoons, toothpicks — all of these can be swallowed and can cause consequences that are too terrifying to even think about. Just don’t do it.

One last note: No matter how careful you are things can go wrong. It’s important to keep phone numbers on auto dial for your vet, the local 24-hour animal hospital, and ASPCA’s Animal and Poison Control Center: 888.426.4435. Now that you are armed with info, have a safe and happy holiday season!

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