Why does my Dog do that?

Why Is My Dog Licking Its Paws So Much?

Firstly, is this a regular or occasional habit?

 If it is an occasional and random occurrence, it could simply be boredom, particularly if it occurs when you are away from your Pet Try to ensure that your Pet has plenty of toys (particularly interactive ones) to keep them interested and occupied. 

If it is regular, is it all paws, or only one. Licking or chewing only one paw could be an indication of a problem with that paw alone, such as a cut, or other irritation such as a thorn or toenail problem. 

If your Pet regularly licks or chews all paws, then there are a few things to ask yourself. 

Is this a seasonal problem? If you notice this happening in the summer months, then it could be hay fever. Dogs can inhale pollen granules in exactly the same way as we do, but the resulting responses are different. While we tend to react with a runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing, a Dog allergy will generally show on his skin. This is because the histamines released by the body in response to pollen in animals are mostly released in the skin rather than in the nose and eyes. 

It's not just by inhaling pollen that a Dog can suffer hay fever either. Direct contact with the skin can also trigger these responses so frolicking in a grassy meadow this summer could leave your Pet with a persistent itch. 

If suffering from Dog skin allergies like hay fever he is likely to scratch and bite his body, possibly to the extent that he will pull some of his coat out.  He may also lick his paws, shake his head and rub his face on the floor or furniture.  He is likely to be more sensitive to being touched and generally miserable in his demeanour. 

In more severe cases, the skin may well appear pink, red or inflamed, and if they have scratched so much that they have broken the surface of the skin, the scratch may well have become infected with bacteria. 

If your Dog is sensitive to seasonal allergies, it is likely that they will start showing these symptoms from April onwards as Dogs are particularly sensitive to tree pollen, which is about much earlier than grass pollen and the early days of spring are when we usually see it. 

If this is the case, consider either changing your Pet’s diet to a food that contains high levels of fish or fish oils, or if you are already feeding a good quality food, you may wish to add some salmon oils to it, or consider an oil treatment, such as Yumega. 

If it appears not to be linked to the seasons, then it may be a food intolerance. 

Many food brands (even some of the more expensive and well-known names) will contain high levels of cereals, and Dogs have problems digesting cereals easily, and this can lead to skin and coat problems. Once again, consider changing your Pet Food brand to one containing a proper meat or fish as its first ingredient, and try to avoid ‘open’ recipes that simply state cereals, or meat and animal derivatives. This may cost you more initially, but can save money on expensive vet bills.

Is your Pet nervous, anxious or generally hyperactive?

If your Pet suffers from these problems, then chewing or biting paws may just be a result of a form of compulsive behaviour.  Many people associate hyperactive behaviour with High protein foods, and change to a lower protein food to try to cure the problem. No matter what you are told, there is NO proven link between high protein and hyperactivity. Changing to a low protein food may ‘slow’ you Pet down, but probably only because his general energy levels are lowered, because he is not getting the nutrients he needs. This may seem like a solution, but the probability is that he may not then be getting enough nutrients to keep him in good condition, which can lead to other more expensive problems in the future.

Once again, look at your Pets diet. If you are feeding a food that is brightly coloured, it is possible that it contains some artificial colourants that can affect its temperament or behaviour. Another time to consider changing your Pet Food brand to one containing a proper meat or fish as its first ingredient, and try to avoid ‘open’ recipes that simply state cereals, or meat and animal derivatives. If you are happy that you are feeding a suitable food, then you could consider using one of the many products available which can help to de-stress your Pet, either a home ‘plug-in’  or spray product, a calming collar, or herbal tablets.  

Does your Pet limp or appear stiff in his movements?  Dogs that have difficulty getting around spend more time licking and grooming. So Dogs that are overweight, and Dogs that have joint and mobility problems are more likely to injure their skin and paws in the process. If it is a mobility problem, then consider adding a supplement to his food. If it is a weight issue (and weight can cause a problem with joints anyway) then ensure firstly that you are not overfeeding, and if not, change to a lighter food and make sure that your Pet gets enough exercise.
 

Why does a Cat have whiskers?

Also known as "tactile hairs" or vibrissae, whiskers are long, thick and specialised hairs on the side of the mouth. They are around 2 - 3 times thicker than "normal" hairs and are embedded three times greater than other hairs.  Cats have approximately 24 whiskers, 12 on each size.

They are highly mobile and extremely sensitive and are supplied with a mass of nerve endings. Whiskers can move either forward and backward, and have several uses. They can detect air currents and vibrations and enable Cats to tell the distance and shape of an object in the dark. It has been shown that cats who have had their whiskers cut are able to hunt and kill prey normally in daylight but in the dark, they can catch the pray but misjudges where to place the killing bite.

Whiskers are as wide as the Cat's body, therefore act as a guide to tell the Cat if it is able to fit into a narrow space.

Whiskers are an extremely important sensory tool for the Cat and they should never be cut.

Why does my Dog eat grass?

There are two main types of canine grass eating. 

The first is simple grazing where your Dog happily munches on grass and suffers no ill effects. Some vets suggest Dogs eat grass to make up for a nutritional deficiency but even Dogs that eat well balanced diets will eat grass so  It's possible that they simply like the taste. It can be like salad to them, so even if you're feeding your Dog well, he just might fancy some greens! 

Instinctive behaviour The other type of grass eating is when a Dog eats some grass and throws it up. This is thought to be a deliberate instinctive attempt to induce vomiting after they've swallowed something that makes them feel ill. Dogs that eat to make themselves vomit usually swallow grass as quickly as possible, barely even chewing it. It is believed that the long, un-chewed pieces of grass tickle their throats to bring on the vomiting reaction. If your Dog eats grass then vomits and seems fine, he's probably taken care of whatever was bothering him. If he keeps retching and is unable to throw up or keeps eating grass and carries on vomiting, you should take him to see the vet. 

Safe to eat? With all grass-eating behaviour, keep a careful eye on the sort of grass your Dog is consuming. Don't let him eat anything that has been treated with pesticides or fertilisers. Most lawn-care products will indicate whether or not they're safe for Pets.

Why does my Dog eat Poo ?

Copraphagia (poop eating) is usually a nasty habit and not a medical problem. There are a number of reasons why Dogs eat poo and what you can do to curb their appetite! 

Oral fixation habit . Puppies (like human children) go through a phase where they put anything and everything in their mouths in order to investigate. Unfortunately, this often includes faeces. As Dogs mature, usually this habit goes away…but not always. Try to encourage oral investigation of toys and other objects. Do not punish or give excessive attention if your puppy does eat faeces—this will just reinforce the behaviour. 

Attention getting behaviour—many Dog owners get very upset when their Dog eats poop…which means he is getting the attention he desires. Although it is negative attention, it is attention nonetheless.  Try not to react so negatively when you know your Dog has been snacking on his poo. Pretty soon it will lose its novelty and without your attention, many times they drop the behaviour. 

Housekeeping—Dogs that are crated, or even kept in one room within the house will learn to function as their own housekeeper. In other words, if they poo in their space, they will "clean up" the only way they can. Clean any faeces up immediately. If your Dog is crated throughout the day, consider asking a friend or hiring a Dog walker or someone to come in during the day to clean up.

Hiding the evidence—if your Dog is reprimanded for pooping (for example, in his crate or other space), he may eat the poop to stop you from finding it and getting angry. Try not to react negatively  if your Dog poops in the cage. Don't punish the Dog or you may have a nasty habit to deal with. 

Genetics/Instinct—there are some breeds that are "carriers"…they carry poop around and may or may not eat it. Also, if your Dog has puppies, she is likely to eat their poop. This is an instinct to hide the poop from predators. This instinct usually goes away in a mother Dog. Otherwise, the best you can do is to teach the "leave it" command and be a meticulous cleaner! 

Food problems Not very likely these days, but still thought by many to be the main problem. If a Dog is not getting a nutritionally balanced diet (rare, these days), or eating a poor quality food, they may be eating their poop because of a deficiency. If your Dog is eating too little or eating too much, they can also engage in poop-eating. Always feed a high quality, nutritionally balanced diet in the correct quantities to maintain your Dog's ideal weight. 

Medical problems—this is the least likely reason for your Dog to eat poop. If a Dog is plagued with parasites or problems that cause maldigestion or malabsorption, they may eat poop. If you are really unsure, have your vet check your Dog for parasites and perform a general health check. Remember, if your Dog eats poop routinely, they are more likely to acquire parasites and you always worm 4 times a year anyway. 

As well as using any of the above methods, you can use products such as Stoll Repell-um, which contain  active ingredients that are ingested by your Dog and then become  activated in the small intestine and may help to produce a stool which is unpalatable to your Dog.

Why Does my Dog eat soil

There are many possible causes include mineral deficiencies in the diet,  as Dogs do seem to be able to sense when they are lacking in certain minerals such as iron and compensate by eating soil. However, this is only likely to be  an issue if you are giving him a low-quality food, or if he has problems absorbing all the nutrients from the food. 

It could could be an example of a behavioural problem called pica which is when Dogs (or people) eat inappropriate things. Check his diet and make sure it is a really good quality food. If this doesn’t solve things, enlist the help of a qualified behaviourist to evaluate his mental state. 

Also, if this begins to happen as you Pet gets older, sadly it could just be down to senility.

There are many possible causes include mineral deficiencies in the diet,  as Dogs do seem to be able to sense when they are lacking in certain minerals such as iron and compensate by eating soil. However, this is only likely to be  an issue if you are giving him a low-quality food, or if he has problems absorbing all the nutrients from the food. 

It could could be an example of a behavioural problem called pica which is when Dogs (or people) eat inappropriate things. Check his diet and make sure it is a really good quality food. If this doesn’t solve things, enlist the help of a qualified behaviourist to evaluate his mental state. 

Also, if this begins to happen as you Pet gets older, sadly it could just be down to senility.

Why does my Dog bark all the time?

There are many reasons why Dogs bark, and you need to determine why your Dog is doing this.

Initially, make sure you Pet is not fed on anything, such as a food or treats containing any artificial colours or other additives, which can affect behaviour or temperament.

Dogs bark for all sorts of reasons such as frustration, excitement and fear or when they are seeking attention or trying to be threatening. How you tackle problem barking depends to a large extent on the cause. In some cases there may be a quite simple and obvious solution but with others it may be more complicated. In such instances it may take time, effort and much patience before you begin to make progress and you may also need the help of a behavioural trainer. Remember to try to work out why your Dog is barking so you can address the cause and not just the symptom. Reward him for being quiet and never punish him for barking.

Dogs often bark when they want something, whether it's a toy, game, some food, or simply attention of any sort, and this is often a behaviour learned in puppyhood. This type of barking can be very insistent and difficult to ignore but ignore it you must since, from a Dog's point of view, any attention is better than none. Make your Dog's barking counter-productive by turning your back on him or leaving the room until he's quiet. When he does quieten down you can reward him with a pat and word of praise. Teaching a "Hush" command may also work, as can asking your Dog to do something - this will interrupt the barking and show him he has to earn your attention rather than demand it.

Some Dogs are reactive towards people or other Dogs walking past 'their' house. Drawing curtains when you're not around and using a "Hush" command when you are should help. If your Dog tends to bark at passers-by through the garden gate or fence create a screen of some kind or confine him to a different area. There may well be other issues, such as fear, territorial feelings or lack of socialization, at work which will need to be worked on to resolve the barking problem successfully.

If your Dog barks a lot during training sessions try breaking down the actions you want him to learn into a series of steps you can progress along in easy stages. Check your verbal and physical cues are consistent and clear and, if necessary, go back to the last step he understood. Also, make sure he is physically able to perform the task you are asking him to do.

Some noises may startle your Dog into barking and, again, teaching and using a "Hush" command can help. Where a particular sound consistently triggers barking you could try desensitizing your Dog to the noise by using recordings of it in the same way as when helping a Dog to overcome a fear of fireworks and thunder.

Alarm barking alerting you to a stranger calling at the door isn't necessarily something you want to discourage but you should certainly be able to control the duration by teaching a "Hush" command.

Separation anxiety may be the cause of the barking and your Dog may exhibit other signs of distress too, such as panting, pacing and destructive behaviour. You'll need to spend time working on increasing your Dog's ability to cope without you - maybe by putting him in an adjoining room and using a door gate so he can still see you initially. You could also change your habits when you leave the house. Try acting as if you're preparing to leave the house but don't actually go out as this may also help to reduce your Dog's anxiety levels. If you're unsure about devising a programme for reducing separation anxiety contact a behavioural trainer for advice.

Your Dog may give short, sharp barks at times when he is keyed up, such as when you arrive home, when playing, or perhaps on seeing another Dog he wants to play with. If this happens when you are playing a game, put the toy away until your Dog is calm. If he's spotted another Dog, walk away with him in another direction. When you arrive home don't greet your Dog until he is quiet.

Many Dogs are both under-exercised and lacking in mental stimulation. Increasing the amount and quality of exercise you give your Dog may mean he'll be happy to snooze while you're out rather than bark. When you do go out, provide him with activity toys.

The causes of barking are multiple - this is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few common causes. If you're having trouble working out the cause or finding a successful solution seek expert advice as the longer a behaviour continues, the more established it becomes, taking longer and being more difficult to remedy.

Whatever you do …try to stay calm, even though the noise makes you feel like screaming yourself. Reward quiet behaviour, keep on top of obedience training , as this can make it easier to resolve some barking issues. Seek help if you're having trouble remedying the problem.

And try not to shout yourself - your Dog will simply think you are joining in and bark even more. Be consistent - choose a single-word command such as "Hush", "Quiet" or "Enough" and make sure you always use it when you want your Dog to stop barking, speaking in a low-pitched tone.