Monday, November 22, 2010


The rush to get everything in order for Thanksgiving will be keeping most of you busy this week.  Helpful Buckeye will streamline this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats just a bit so that our readers can enjoy this issue as well as spend some time preparing for the holiday.

Several of you e-mailed Helpful Buckeye this past week asking what kind of dog Sam is (Cathy, from Florida...her account of kennel selection).  Sam is a Pomeranian and a very good representative of the breed!  More on "Poms" further down the page.

The poll questions from last week showed that most of you (75%) did NOT choose your current dog based on its characteristics meeting your family's life style.  Also, only 2 respondents (5%) indicated they have had a legal claim against them as a result of their dog biting someone.  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


This week's discussion will finish the topic of Separation Anxiety

A Necessary Component of Separation Anxiety Treatment

During desensitization to any type of fear, it is essential to ensure that your dog never experiences the full-blown version of whatever provokes his anxiety or fear. He must experience only a low-intensity version that doesn’t frighten him. Otherwise, he won’t learn to feel calm and comfortable in situations that upset him. This means that during treatment for separation anxiety, your dog cannot be left alone except during your desensitization sessions. Fortunately there are plenty of alternative arrangements:

• If possible, take your dog to work with you.
• Arrange for a family member, friend or dog sitter to come to your home and stay with your dog when you’re not there. (Most dogs suffering from separation anxiety are fine as long as someone is with them. That someone doesn’t necessarily need to be you.)
• Take your dog to a sitter’s house or to a doggy daycare.
• Many dogs suffering from separation anxiety are okay when left in a car. You can try leaving your dog in a car—but only if the weather is moderate. Be warned: dogs can suffer from heatstroke and die if left in cars in warm weather (70 degrees Fahrenheit and up)—even for just a few minutes. DO NOT leave your dog in a car unless you’re sure that the interior of your car won’t heat up.

In addition to your graduated absences exercises, all greetings (hellos and goodbyes) should be conducted in a very calm manner. When saying goodbye, just give your dog a pat on the head, say goodbye and leave. Similarly, when arriving home, say hello to your dog and then don’t pay any more attention to him until he’s calm and relaxed. The amount of time it takes for your dog to relax once you’ve returned home will depend on his level of anxiety and individual temperament. To decrease your dog’s excitement level when you come home, it might help to distract him by asking him to perform some simple behaviors that he’s already learned, such as sit, down or shake.

To Crate or Not to Crate?

Crate training can be helpful for some dogs if they learn that the crate is their safe place to go when left alone. However, for other dogs, the crate can cause added stress and anxiety. In order to determine whether or not you should try using a crate, monitor your dog’s behavior during crate training and when he’s left in the crate while you’re home. If he shows signs of distress (heavy panting, excessive salivation, frantic escape attempts, persistent howling or barking), crate confinement isn’t the best option for him. Instead of using a crate, you can try confining your dog to one room behind a baby gate.

Provide Plenty of “Jobs” for Your Dog to Do

Providing lots of physical and mental stimulation is a vital part of treating many behavior problems, especially those involving anxiety. Exercising your dog’s mind and body can greatly enrich his life, decrease stress and provide appropriate outlets for normal dog behaviors. Additionally, a physically and mentally tired dog doesn’t have much excess energy to expend when he’s left alone. To keep your dog busy and happy, try the following suggestions:

• Give your dog at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity (for example, running and swimming) every day. Try to exercise your dog right before you have to leave him by himself. This might help him relax and rest while you’re gone.
• Play fun, interactive games with your dog, such as fetch and tug-of-war..
• Take your dog on daily walks and outings. Take different routes and visit new places as often as possible so that he can experience novel smells and sights.
• If your dog likes other dogs, let him play off-leash with his canine buddies.
• Frequently provide food puzzle toys, like the KONG, the Buster Cube, the Tricky Treat Ball™ and the Tug-a-Jug™. You can feed your dog his meals in these toys or stuff them with a little peanut butter, cheese or yogurt. Also give your dog a variety of attractive edible and inedible chew things. Puzzle toys and chew items encourage chewing and licking, which have been shown to have a calming effect on dogs. Be sure to provide them whenever you leave your dog alone.
• Make your dog “hunt” his meals by hiding small piles of his kibble around your house or yard when you leave. Most dogs love this game!
• Enroll in a reward-based training class to increase your dog’s mental activity and enhance the bond between you and your dog. Contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of great skills to learn and games to play together. After you and your dog have learned a few new skills, you can mentally tire your dog out by practicing them right before you leave your dog home alone.
• Get involved in dog sports, such as agility, freestyle (dancing with your dog) or flyball.

Medications Might Help

Always consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your dog any type of medication for a behavior problem.

The use of medications can be very helpful, especially for severe cases of separation anxiety. Some dogs are so distraught by any separation from their pet parents that treatment can’t be implemented without the help of medication. Anti-anxiety medication can help a dog tolerate some level of isolation without experiencing anxiety. It can also make treatment progress more quickly.

On rare occasions, a dog with mild separation anxiety might benefit from drug therapy alone, without accompanying behavior modification. The dog becomes accustomed to being left alone with the help of the drug and retains this new conditioning after he’s gradually weaned off the medication. However, most dogs need a combination of medication and behavior modification.

If you’d like to explore this option, speak with your veterinarian, a veterinary behaviorist or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist who can work closely with your vet.

What NOT to Do

Do not scold or punish your dog. Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses! Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.

This concludes our 3-part series on Separation Anxiety.  This information was adapted from the ASPCA.
The Pomeranian is a cocky, animated companion with an extroverted personality. This compact little dog is an active toy breed with an alert character and fox-like expression. Today, the Pomeranian is a popular companion dog and competitive show dog. They can come in all colors, patterns, and variations although orange and red are the most popular. He has a soft, dense undercoat with a profuse harsh-textured outer coat. His heavily plumed tail is set high and lies flat on his back. He is alert in character, exhibits intelligence in expression, is buoyant in deportment, and is inquisitive by nature. The Pomeranian is commanding and animated as he gaits.

A Look Back

The breed’s name originally came from the historical region of Pomerania (now present day Germany and Poland). Originally weighing nearly 30 pounds, the dog served as an able herder of sheep in its larger form. They were not well known until 1870, when the Kennel Club (England) recognized the so-called Spitz dog. In 1888, Queen Victoria fell in love with a Pomeranian in Florence, Italy, and brought the specimen back to England, influencing its popularity dramatically.

Right Breed for You?

Pomeranians are very intelligent dogs that love to please. Because of their outgoing temperaments, they can be very good family dogs with the right training. Due to their small size they don’t require much exercise, but are an energetic breed that needs attention from their people frequently. They possess a thick double coat, which needs to be brushed on a regular basis.  Pomeranians ranked 14th in popularity in 2009, according to registrations with the AKC.

• Toy Group; AKC recognized in 1888.
• Ranging in size from 3 to 7 pounds, with the ideal weight for the show specimen being 4 to 6 pounds. 
• Bred down from sled and herding dogs, companion.


1) Thirty years after China imposed a one-child policy to limit population growth, authorities are turning their attention to overcrowding by man's best friend.  Authorities in Shanghai are considering a one-dog policy.  For the rest of the details, go to:

2) As the holiday season approaches, more people will start to consider New Year's resolutions related to physical and emotional improvement.  This year, there's a place where dog owners can get help adopting some similar resolutions for Fido, including weight loss and emotional well-being.  Arizona Dog Sports in Scottsdale opened earlier this year to help dog owners reach those goals for their pets.  The work-out program sounds like it might have a lot of appeal:

3) The holiday season is upon us—but for some, celebration does not come easy. With the economic downturn having dire effects, struggling families across our nation are forced to face one of the most devastating decisions of their life—the abandonment of their beloved pet.

As millions continue to file for unemployment, many families find they can no longer afford the costs of pet care, while others become evicted from their homes and are unable locate pet-friendly housing. The harsh reality is, with shelter intake rates on the rise, countless numbers of companion animals face euthanasia in overcrowded shelters—but the ASPCA is here to help:

4) A very sad situation occurred this past week in a suburb of Phoenix.  A hero dog who helped save U.S. soldiers from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan was euthanized by mistake at an Arizona animal shelter.  For the rest of the story, go to:

 Without passing any further judgement on who was at fault in this situation, this terrible accident is a startling example of what can happen if your dog gets away from you and becomes "lost".  Make yourself more aware of how easy it is for your pet to become separated from you.

5) This past Thursday was the Annual Great American Smokeout and The American Veterinary Medical Association offers this podcast on the health risks of tobacco smoke to pets:,_for_You_and_Your_Pets

6) A few weeks ago, we discussed the idea of using a pet sitter when you don't want to board your pets in a kennel.  There are a lot of important considerations you should make when choosing a pet sitter, but price is a pretty major one. To determine which cities reign supreme when it comes to locating dedicated, reasonably priced pet sitters, the pet care experts at: (Sittercity) took a look at factors like availability, actual job postings, and, of course, hourly rate.

Believe it or not, the best city in the USA for finding a pet sitter is...Milwaukee!  Check out the rest of the top 10 cities on this list:

7) As a final treat for your Thanksgiving enjoyment, watch Jesse, the Jack Russell Terrier, show off some pretty impressive tricks:

This video was suggested and submitted by Ken, from Flagstaff.

The Pittsburgh Steelers played the hated Oakland Raiders at home.  This game has always brought back memories of the battles waged between these 2 teams back in the 1970s.  The Steelers won, in a blowout.

The Ohio State Buckeyes men's basketball team went to Florida to play the Gators this past week.  The #4 Buckeyes clobbered the #9 Gators on their home court in Gainesville.

The Pitt Panthers men's basketball team, ranked #5, won their 2 games in a tournament at Madison Square Garden against 2 ranked teams.  So, both of Helpful Buckeye's alma maters are starting their seasons with high expectations for the year.


In an interesting connection to the OSU Buckeyes beating up on the Florida Gators, Helpful Buckeye and Desperado went to dinner at an interesting restaurant, out in the country, with some good friends and we all shared an appetizer of "blackened alligator".  It does have a certain symmetry, doesn't it?

Mark Twain expressed his "Thanks" in this response to a question about Thanksgiving: "You ask me for a sentiment which shall state how much I have to be thankful for this time of year. For years it has been a rule with me not to expose my gratitude in print on Thanksgiving Day, but I wish to break the rule now and pour out my thankfulness; for there is more of it than I can contain without straining myself. I am thankful -- thankful beyond words -- that I had only $51,000 on deposit in the Knickerbocker Trust, instead of a million; for if I had had a million in that bucket shop, I should be nineteen times as sorry as I am now. Trusting this paean of joy will satisfy your requirement, I am Yours truly, Mark Twain."  - letter to editor of New York World, 27 October 1907

Be sure to enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie on Thursday...Helpful Buckeye will for sure be doing so....

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

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