Education and Inspiration
By: Jennifer Petrowiak
Daring Dogs in our City~ Sioux Falls K9 Unit 11/09/19
The Sioux Falls Police Department goes to extensive lengths to keep our city safe. One
particular unit that serves a unique purpose is the K9 unit. The K9 Unit is unique because of the
different circumstances they experience. There are no other units that can perform these dogs’
duties with such efficiency.
Sioux Falls is fortunate enough to have the largest K9 unit in the state. To train these
dogs, there are four different areas that they can specialize in: Police patrol, narcotic detection,
explosive detection, and scent tracking. In the Sioux Falls K9 Unit, we have five teams. Four of
the teams are dual-purpose, and one is a single purpose. The dual-purpose teams are (listed as
handler first and dog second): Shannon Irish & Bram (narcotic detection and patrol), Cody
Nachreiner & Spike (narcotic detection & patrol), Grand Vanvoorst & Biko (patrol & training
narcotic detection), and Garrett Bruhn & Tommy (explosive detection & patrol). The single
purpose team is Chad Westrum & Robi (narcotic detection). The final person that completes the
Sioux Falls K9 Unit is their administrator, Sergeant Mike Olson. He prepares and assesses their
skills for the field. Each team plays an important role within the department.
There may be questions as to why these dogs are not trained in all areas, or why Robi
only has a single purpose. Like humans, dogs have their own personalities and their own
strengths. For each of these dogs, they may have been exposed to each area. But, with that
encounter, the teams have learned that their dogs excel in specific areas. Focusing on these
specialized skills enable their handler and trainer to help these dogs master their skills.
Once the dogs’ strengths are identified, then their training is focused on their unique skill
set. For each job, it is important for the dogs to have a high hunting instinct. However, each area
requires an additional skill to be successful. Narcotic and explosive detection requires high
hunting and prey instincts. Since detection and tracking are so similar, tracking requires the same
instincts. To be a patrol dog, the dog needs to have a high hunting instinct and fighting instincts.
Keep in mind, this type of fighting instinct is not rooted in aggression. It is rooted in play
fighting. A dog that has high instincts in play fighting are able to think quickly and are fast on
their feet. While the instincts are critical in setting the dog up for success, it is only half the
battle. While many dogs may possess these instincts, they must prove their skills to become a
certified K9 unit dog.
To train for detection, it is important to associate their objective with a reward. In this
case, the K9 unit trains their dogs by placing some type of toy (often cloth knot toys) in an
airtight container with the scent they want to identify (e.g. marijuana, C4, etc.). Over time, these
toys will carry that odor. Then, their training entails hiding these toys in different venues. As the
dogs become more accustomed to the scent, the venue becomes more challenging. Once they
find the item, they are trained to indicate they found it by sitting and staring. There may be some
instances when they stand and stare or even bark. Regardless, seeing that body language means
that they found something. It is definitely important for these dogs to practice this passive
indication because it keeps them and the scene safe. This is especially critical with explosive
detection dogs. When these dogs are out in the field, their handlers don’t want them thinking that
the drug or explosive they find is a toy. What they do so their dog can still receive a reward is a
“cheat.” Once the dog has found what they are supposed to be looking for, they go into their
trained position (sit and stare) and the handler brings up their hand like they have a toy. When
they bring their hand to the dog’s face, the toy disappears (there actually was no toy). Through
this “cheat”, the dog is able to get their reward. After they are praised, they return their dog to the
vehicle. Being a narcotic and explosive detection dog, there are certain calls to respond to. They
often do protective sweeps for big events (e.g. air show, high school graduation, etc.). Or, an
explosive detection dog may be called to a firearm related call because they are able to find spent
shell casings and gun powder residue. The detection that these dogs do keeps us safe in both big
and small ways.
Training dogs for scent tracking is similar to detection. It is similar by how they affiliate
their finds with a reward. What makes scent tracking significantly different is what they are
tracking. The movies portray these dogs by smelling something of the missing person and
finding them that way. It is different in real life. In reality, what the dog is trying to find is
disturbances in the ground. When someone steps in grass, it creates a different scent than the
grass surrounding that spot. To help dogs identify these disturbances, they give dogs a reward;
often, in the form of a treat or toy. In addition to finding disturbances, these dogs are also trained
to find things out of place (i.e. evidence). To continue to challenge these dogs in their training,
they spread out the distances. While the Sioux Falls K9 Unit does not have a dog specialized in
scent tracking, each dog has had introduction into this field and uses their version of this skill in
their daily tasks.
Out of all four types of training, patrol training is the most comprehensive. To be a patrol
dog, they need to have a high hunting instinct and fighting instincts. Remember, the fighting the
K9 units are looking for are directed toward battling; like a puppy play fighting with another dog
or their human. These skills found in these instincts are perfect for the procedures needed for a
patrol dog. As they go through their training, they must master critical skills (e.g. socialization
(being neutral around others), tracking and evidence area search, apprehension, etc.). While
patrol dogs practice similar skills as those in detection and tracking, the most important skill for
these dogs to master is obedience control. Obedience control enables the handler to establish
safety in every situation. To train a dog in obedience control, it is quite similar to how we would
teach our dogs control. Teaching them the basics like sit or stay, and utilizing positive praise or
various tools to help them grasp these skills. Patrol dogs have mastered a range of skills and
practice them every day. They often respond to burglary, fleeing from the scene, felony in
progress, etc. While they do work regular shifts, they are vigilant for calls that the patrol dog
would be an asset in the situation.
With all of this training, it seems impossible to find a dog up to the challenge.
Thankfully, there are several breeds that love to work and often want to exercise their mind. It is
just a matter of finding not only a breed that would thrive in this field, but also a personality that
suits the unit and job they will be fulfilling. To help the unit find these dogs, the department goes
through a company called Kasseburg Canine Training found in Alabama. The owner, Pam
Rogers, goes to various locations finding dogs for K9 units throughout the U.S.A. There are two
different routes that Pam uses to find dogs for their unit. One way is finding KNVP (Koninklijke
Nederlandse Politiehond Vereniging (In English this means: Royal Dutch Police Dog
Association, Holland).) champions. The KNVP is a competition found in Europe that challenges
dogs to execute these skills (e.g. apprehension, sit and stare, etc.). These dogs can only compete
until three years of age, and that is where many K9 Units might adopt these dogs. Another way is
finding breeders that specialize in the specific temperaments the Sioux Falls K9 Unit is looking
for. Pam found several of the Sioux Falls K9 Unit dogs through breeders in Holland (except for
Robi who is from Turkey). These routes are favored by many K9 units because there is less
likelihood of the dogs facing serious medical issues during their service. There are many
different breeds that can work for a K9 unit. It all depends on what temperament each K9 unit is
When we think of what breed belongs in a K9 unit, there is usually a specific breed or
two that comes to mind. Movies, in most of our cases, have affected what we expect from K9
units. Specifically, in regards to what breed we expect to see. Believe it or not, there are no
German Shepherds or Blood Hounds in the Sioux Falls K9 Unit. All of the dogs currently in the
Sioux Falls K9 Unit are Belgian Malinois’. The Sioux Falls K9 Unit favors this breed because
they are fast, good sized, have a high drive, and are hard working. They are fast--both in mind
and speed. While their minds seem to go a mile a minute, they are able to remain focused. Their
size (medium-sized) is good for their jobs because there is a considerable amount of physical
activity. Their size allows them to be quick and agile, but also does not put too much strain on
their bodies. Their high drive is in reference to their high energy level. When they are focused,
this energy serves them well. Last but not least, this breed is incredibly hard-working. They will
not stop, until told to. When each characteristic works together, it makes for a perfect breed for
the K9 Unit. While these characteristics are common throughout this breed, each dog is subject
to their own personality. Their personality affects which trait they favor, this may alter what
specialty they are trained for.
Training these dogs takes a significant amount of discipline from the dogs and handlers.
To become a certified K9 unit dog, the handler and dog must put in sixteen weeks of training. In
addition to that training, these dogs must pass a series of scenarios to be officially certified. Now
the scenarios vary according to what the dog is specializing it. For example, a dog training for
explosive detection will have to go through scenarios of small and large venues or in various
vehicles. To keep up their certificates, these teams have to train for eight hours in a week. With a
certified in house K9 trainer, Sioux Falls K9 Unit is able to routinely keep their dogs’
certification up to the appropriate standards. Their training varies depending on their dogs. For
instance, dogs certified for patrol need sixteen hours of patrol training and sixteen hours of
narcotic training. To help these teams in any of their certification needs, as well as any other K9
teams through South Dakota, the state hosts a dog camp twice a year; one in Rapid City and the
other Sioux Falls. The dog camp is a type of basic training. Depending on the dog, it entails six
to seven weeks of detection training or seven to eight weeks of patrol training. With every
moment of training at work and every moment of relaxation at home, the handlers and their dogs
develop strong relationships.
With the rigorous training and guidance to equip these dogs, the policemen in this K9
unit must also be appropriately trained. To become apart of the K9 unit in Sioux Falls, the
handlers must become a certified officer and have three of experience. After gaining that
experience, they are able to apply for the K9 unit. If they are accepted to become a K9 handler,
they must also go through training with their dogs. This training is necessary for the dog and the
handler. It helps the officers learn the personalities of their dogs and learn what is expected of
them. Especially, if they are a new handler. In addition to their specialized training with their
dogs, the handlers also go through a Canine Causality Care course. This course allows them to
care for their dogs through a wide range of scenarios. They cover every avenue possible to
prepare for any situation.
The courses, training, and care for these dogs are not the only aspect that set this unit
apart. Every moment is accounted for in this unit. Each handler must document both usage and
training logs for their dogs. Every detail must be documented because it can significantly affect
the result of a given court case. For example, it may be pointed out that a dog did not sit and
stare, but instead stood and stare. If the handler is able to demonstrate that there are other
instances that their dog has displayed that body language, then the evidence that was provided by
the dog would still remain substantial.
The handlers go to extraordinary lengths to ensure their dogs are healthy and safe. To
help these officers keep their dogs safe, they provide equipment that protects them while they
perform their duties. All equipment used in the K9 unit is specialized for their unique purposes.
The dogs receive specialized collars and harnesses that identify them as police dogs, and it also
contains space for an E-collar. For some situations, the dogs also have a bullet and stab resistant
vests. These vests were donated by a nonprofit organization called Vested Interest in K9s. There
are also scenarios where the dog will have to remain in the vehicle. To ensure their safety, each
K9 vehicle contains a system for the dogs to stay cool. A thermometer constantly measures the
car’s temperature, and when it gets too high it automatically lowers the backseat window and
turns on a fan to cool the vehicle down. There may also be scenarios where the handler is away
from the vehicle, but will need their dog’s assistance. Each handler has a remote electronic
release to their dog’s door. Every piece of equipment has a special purpose to benefit the dog, the
handler, or both.
There are many dogs that enjoy a hard day’s work because they can be mentally and
physically engaged in the task at hand. It is undeniable that these dogs get to use their minds and
bodies every day. The dog’s health is always at the forefront of the department’s mind.
Identifying an appropriate time for retirement is important for each dog in the unit. Depending on
the dog, they usually retire at about ten (for patrol) to thirteen (for detection) years of age (M.
Olson & C. Westrum, personal communication, October 9, 2019). While these dogs get several
years to live an exciting lifestyle, the department remains aware of each dog so they can still
have time as a pet.
The Sioux Falls Police Department goes above and beyond to keep our city safe.
Applying various tools and devoting numerous hours in training to ensure they are best prepared.
The K9 unit is a small but significant part of the department. They keep us safe with their strong
noses, instincts, and extensive training. In return, the unit gives these dogs a sense of purpose and
joy as they perform their duties, and exhausts all avenues for their safety. As their handlers show
their appreciation for these dogs every day, all of us at Paws Pet Resort want to extend our
appreciation for such brave and diligent dogs.
Olson, M. (2019, October 9). Personal Interview.
Westrum, C. (2019, October 9). Personal Interview.
Game on! Favorite Dog Play Styles. 10/12/19
Every dog loves to play. Whether it is with their human, or with other dogs. There is always a play style or styles that they favor. There are a number of different play styles, but that does not always restrict them to that specific style. When a dog is motivated to play, they may adapt their play style and even size to match their playmate! Below, I will list the common play styles and how to possibly match up your dog’s playmates.
Dogs have a variety of ways they play with one another. There are some dogs that love to be 110% engaged with their playmate. While other enjoy playing more lightly, or just being on the outskirts of the real action. The type of playing that is on the lighter side includes, cheerleading (or policing), chaser, tugger, or soft toucher. Cheerleading generally includes the dog always being on the outskirts of the action, occasionally nipping and barking — sometimes barking excessively. They will run around on the periphery of the play, and if they feel motivated to, they may jump into the middle to break things up (that is why it is also referred to as policing). As we move forward, the next few play styles are much more interactive in their own unique way. For instance, dogs that are chasers or chasees are engaging with their playmates, but they often barely touch. You often see this play style with dogs that have lots of energy. In some cases, they will play a form of tag. They will keep running and running until they collapse in exhaustion, and once they’ve had enough rest they keep going! Some dogs may not like to run that much, in which case, they might enjoy the classic tug-of-war. Tuggers are all about finding anything and enticing another dog into grabbing the other end. Once they have another dog on the other end, the war begins! Last but not least, in the light play styles, are soft toucher. Soft toucher sounds like an odd name for a play style, but that is exactly what it is. When you see it in action, it is basically a light version of wrestling. Occasionally, touching nose-to-nose or nuzzling in the other’s neck. This type of play style is usually seen among shy or older dogs (Unleashed Joy, 2016). These kind of play styles can be found in any breed and any age. It all comes down to your dog’s personality.
As you witness dogs in more rough play, there might be questions of whether it is playful or aggressive. Thankfully, there are a few indicators to let us know this is fun. The two most significant types of engaging play are wrestler and body slammer. Dogs that enjoy wrestling with each other is all about the full contact. Before dogs engage with each other, you will often see a play bow. This means your dog will have their butt in the air, but their head low resting their body weight on their front legs in a sort of crouched position. As dogs begin to play, you’ll often see dogs pin one another. The way you know this is about fun, and not aggression, is when they take turns pinning each other. As dogs wrestle with each other, you will also see occasional neck biting. There is no need to worry because they are not putting their full force into their bite; it is on the gentler side. A variation of wrestling that some dogs may prefer is boxing. Where the dogs will take some techniques from wrestling, but more often stand on their hind legs and swat at each other with their front paws. The final common play style is body slammer. I am betting you can imagine what this would look like. To clarify any misconceptions, body slammers will run and slam themselves into others. Sometimes even rotating their bodies so they are contact other dogs with their butt (Unleashed Joy, 2016). It may sound silly, but when you get two dogs that are body slammers, they have a blast together! Dogs love to play, but they all have their favorite styles.
Dogs are not always limited to their favorite styles of play. If your dog loves to chase, and are surrounded by others that love to wrestle. They may adapt their play style to match their playmates. Sometimes dogs won’t let their age or size restrict them from any type of play. Regardless of who they are playing with, they may even adjust themselves to make it fair to their playmate. For instance, some bigger dogs may play lying down so a smaller dog can have fun on a fair playing ground (“Dog play styles: Get your game face on,” n.d.). While dogs may adapt their play style and even their size, in order to play with others. Sometimes dogs are determined to play in their favorite style, or they are simply too shy to play with others. When we introduce our dogs to others, it is important to match their playmates well so they can best enjoy themselves.
When creating a play date with one dog or several, there are a few aspects to consider for the best compatibility. Keep in mind: play style, energy levels, age, breed, and dogs who they already know and get along with (“Dog play styles: Get your game face on,” n.d.). Matching these aspects with dogs make for the best experiences. Even if you don’t know a dog’s personality yet, you can look at their age and breed to give you hints. So, pairing your dog with similar breeds and sizes enables them to feel like they’re on a level playing field with other dogs; and not get intimidated. Breed is a significant aspect to consider because they often carry the same instincts. For instance, many dogs don’t often favor the body slamming play style. However, I have seen a couple of bull dogs enjoy that particular playing style with one another. Don’t forget the age. Even if your dog loves to wrestle, they may not be able to wrestle as much as they used to. There are many variables to consider when attempting to have your dog make new friends. Always be aware of your dog’s personality as well as others before setting up a play date. Be sure to talk with your veterinarian to help identify safe play, so you know what to expect. Identifying these aspects will give you a place to start from, but as you explore you may find new aspects to consider for your dog.
Above you see the different play styles of dogs interacting with one another. We both know that not all dogs prefer that kind of play. Sometimes dogs prefer their humans. In most cases, dogs favor fetch, keep away, and tug-of-war. Don’t let any of these games limit how you play with your dog. For example, I have even seen my dog try to catch the light from a laser pointer. When dogs want to play, they will let you know. There will be no boundaries for them to define fun.
Playing is important for your dog because it affects them in a positive way. Depending on the game, your dog will get plenty of exercise, get a chance to stimulate their mind, and give them opportunities to socialize. As you expose your dog to new experiences, always keep in mind what is best for your dog. Simply enjoy the new experiences your dog creates when playing new games and making new friends.
Dog play styles: Get your game face on. (n.d.). In Practical Paw. Retrieved from https://www.practicalpaw.com/dog-play-styles/
Unleashed Joy. (2016, March 15). Dog Daycare & Dog Play Styles. In Unleashed Joy. Retrieved from https://unleashedjoy.com/dog-daycare-dog-play-styles
Why Your Dog Doesn’t Like Group Play. And, That’s Okay! 09/15/19
As we look at our dogs, we simply assume that they are social creatures — like us. What we don’t realize is that our dogs’ personalities are more similar to us than we think. They are similar in how our socialization levels may vary. For instance, some of us would call ourselves extraverts and others would call themselves introverts; even a mix of both. Dogs are like that too. Some enjoy meeting new friends and playing for hours on end. While others, would enjoy meeting only a few dogs at a time. Or, just one-on-one time with their human. Finding either of these characteristics in a dog is completely normal — just as it is with us. However, we do want our dogs to socialize to some degree. In which case, we can introduce them to it. It just takes patience and practice.
For those of us that have dogs in our lives, we know them personally. They have as unique as a personality as we do. Not only do they have a unique personality, but many dog breeds have certain instincts. For example, many herding breeds fall back on those instincts when they are in large groups. When herding breeds are found in large groups, and are not in control, they become overwhelmed (Miller, 2016). Having a Border Collie of my own, I have seen this first hand. When he was introduced to several dogs that were bigger than him, he got overwhelmed and just focused on his instincts; which is herding them. Since then, I have been working on techniques that has improved his socialization with other dogs. In the meantime, he loves to be around humans more. Not unlike many other dogs.
Seeing dogs that are not very “dog-friendly” usually occurs among dogs that have been adopted from breeders or rescues. In other cases, it is merely their personality. It is seen more often among dogs from breeders and rescues because dogs generally acquire their socialization skills as a puppy (Miller, 2016). Even if your dog has played and socialized as a puppy, but they still don’t enjoy their presence of large groups; that is okay! Just like us, dogs like to hang out with only a few dogs at a time, or just with their human, or even alone to chew on a bone. Regardless of how social your dog is, it is completely normal. What is most important, is the love you share with your dog.
When we hang out with our dogs at home, we love interacting with them in their own special language. Enjoying every single quirk of their personality. Although, when we bring them to public places (on walks, dog parks, daycare, etc.), we hope they are the perfect pup that they are at home. Sometimes there are so well behaved, and other times not so much. Honestly, that is okay! Simply being aware of your dog’s experiences and personality can go a long way when introducing them to new experiences.
If you know that your dog is new to socializing with other dogs or could be considered an introvert, there are a few strategies that can help. First and foremost, keep the love coming from home. That means doing the things they love! Giving them good food, going on walks (or other enjoyable forms of exercise), and fun mental stimulation. It is important for dogs to have a constant at home. Secondly, avoid unfamiliar dogs and dogs that you know are very playful. Introducing dogs that have a similar personality to your dog can help them come out of their shell in their own time. That is why it is equally important to not pair them with an excessively extroverted dog; your dog would possibly become overwhelmed by the experience and it could have negative effects on future experiences. On that same note, you could practice interactions with calm and socially savvy dogs. Having a dog that can remain neutral will give your dog the opportunity to explore the situation in their own time. Third, be aware of your dog’s body language. If another dog approaches your dog, then your dog may turn away, put their ears back, or lick their lips. These cues are your dog saying “no thank you” to the other dog, so be sure to reward your dog for being so polite! Your dog is being kind to any other dog that enters into their bubble. It is wonderful when they display these cues, so they should know that this is a good thing to practice. Lastly, let your dog go at their own pace. We don’t want to pressure them for something they are not ready for — or even want (Fratt, n.d.). It is great for you and your dog to have experience with other dogs. That will give you more of an understanding of where they are at socially, and what kind of personality they have. Ultimately, bringing you closer to your dog.
It is amazing to see how unique each dog is. Accounting for what breed they are, their markings, and their silly quirks. What is even more amazing, is the bond that we establish with our dogs. There is so much love and trust in that bond that it can not be taken for granted. Further understanding your dog’s relationship with other dogs is important to getting to know your own dog. Whether you classify your dog as an extrovert or introvert (or both), they will never lose that place in your heart.
Fratt, K. (n.d.). My Dog Doesn't Play With Other Dogs. Is that OK?. In Journey Dog Training. Retrieved from https://journeydogtraining.com/socially-awkward-dog/
Miller, J. (2016, December 10). Group Play Doesn't Work for Your Pup? It's Ok. . In Canine to Five. Retrieved from https://www.caninetofive.com/not-all-dogs-are-suited-for-group-play/
Paws Pet Resort Boarding. What to Bring and to Expect. 09/10/19
When you leave your pet behind, it feels like you are leaving behind a piece of your heart. It is difficult to not think about them with every minute you are away. Thankfully, at Paws Pet Resort, we pour out all our love for these animals to ensure your pet is happy and safe. Before boarding your pet be sure they are up to date on their vaccinations. The vaccinations we require are Bordetella, distemper, and rabies. Once their vaccinations are confirmed, then the next step is bringing them to Paws! Naturally, there are many questions. The questions we receive most often is what to bring for boarding. Below, there is an easy list to follow that helps us to create the perfect atmosphere for your pet.
What to bring:
- Your pet’s food
- We appreciate and prefer pre-packaged meals in Ziploc bags. Although, if your pet is staying longer than five days, we can accommodate larger containers.
- Two personal items
- Bringing a couple items make your dogs feel at home. Especially, if those items smell like you.
- Attempt to limit it to two personal items. For example, a bed/blanket and a few toys.
- If any medications are necessary to your dog’s health, we are happy to accommodate. Simply provide the medication itself, any instructions, and any tips on how to administer the medication (i.e. pill pocket, peanut butter, etc.).
Bringing these simple items for your dog’s stay, helps us to make them comfortable in new experiences. However, bringing too many items or unnecessary items may hinder our attempts to provide the best service for your pets.
What NOT to bring:
- Food Containers/Full Bags
- Please leave your pet’s personal bowls at home. We have bowls at our facility that we sanitize daily.
- The only exception is if your dog has a slow feeder.
- Retractable Leash
- We prefer you have a four to six-foot leash. Retractable leashes are more difficult to keep control of your dog when bringing them to and from their kennel. Also, it will make your dog and other dogs feel safer in the lobby; less likely to be tangled with other dogs.
Limiting your items will help us to create a comfortable setting, and enable us to do our jobs to the best of our ability. While we do everything in our power to make sure your pet is happy and health, exposing them to new experiences can cause unwanted reactions. For instance, dogs like to chew; especially, when they are in an unfamiliar setting. Keep in mind they may chew on their belongings. Dogs may also “mark” their belongings when away from home. While potty accidents may happen often, we do everything we can to keep their space and items clean. In either situation, we are sure to contact in you in the event that they destroy their items. Or, if their potty accidents become a cause for concern.
In addition to what your pet might do when they are in their kennel. There are some expectations every owner should be aware of when your pet is placed is a social setting. Dogs who are more social are more likely to catch common viruses. Such as, Canine Cough or Canine Influenza. However, that is not the only concern. When dogs are sociable, they become more prone to accidents. When dogs wrestle with one another, they often use their paws and mouths. Which brings of the possibility of their nails or teeth catching on another’s skin. In addition to playing with each other, dogs have so many fun options here for playtime. We encourage them to be active and explore. However, that can sometimes mean pulled muscles, or twisting something wrong due to all the fun! Please know we work so hard to keep everyone safe while encouraging them to explore and be dogs!
Every dog has their own personality. Some are balls of energy, and some go to their own beat. It is exciting to watch all the different personalities interact with each other. While the dogs experience new places and new friends, accidents may occur. Whether your dog’s experience includes pure joy or a pulled muscle, we will be sure to keep you updated every step of the way. It is tough to be away from your pet, but no matter what happens we do everything humanly possible to ensure your pet is loved and safe in our facility.
Canine Cough. Dogs’ Seasonal Sickness. 08/20/19
When you bring a beloved pet into your life, you have a vision of what it will be like. Imagining the perfect pet, well-knowing that there will be some adversity along the way. Adversity that is difficult to cope with is when your pet gets sick. There are many different types of ailments that can affect your dog. A contagious infection that your dog may encounter is Canine Cough. Canine Cough, more commonly known as Kennel Cough, is an illness that frequently plagues pups periodically throughout fall, spring, and most significantly, summer.
Canine Cough is an upper respiratory infection that can be caused by bacteria or virus. It affects your dog’s lungs, windpipe, and voice box. You’ll find similar symptoms in what humans’ experience in a cold. There are a few symptoms that characterize Canine Cough. The most significant symptom is a dry, hacking cough; sounds like honking. In addition to a cough, your dog may have some discharge from their nose and eyes. This discharge is generally watery and clear. If it becomes cloudy or discolored, that is a sign of a secondary infection. These two symptoms are most common, but you may also see lethargy and fever. However, not all dogs get lethargic. If there is a fever, your dog is most likely afflicted with a severe form of Canine Cough (PetAirpy, 2019). As you see these symptoms, your only question is how to cure them.
There is no clear cure for this infection. Just like a cold, you have to let it run its course. Mild cases of Canine Cough may last a week or two (AKC Staff, 2019). However, if your dog has a weakened immune system, is a young puppy, or is significantly older, it may take up to six weeks for a complete recovery. While your dog is experiencing the symptoms, there are a few ways to help your dog recover: Exposing your dog to humid air, using a harness on walks, and creating a stress-free environment may quicken recovery time. Using a humidifier may help sooth your dog’s airways; bringing your dog into the bathroom while the shower is running can have the same effect. Naturally, it is still important for your dog to get exercise. If you take your dog for regular walks, be sure to use a harness. Collars can put more stress on the neck; especially, if your dog likes to pull on the leash. This can stress your dog’s trachea. In turn, making their coughing worse. Furthermore, attempt to create a stress-free environment. Avoid exposing them to situations that may cause anxiety. This way their system can primarily focus on fighting off the infection. There are also home remedies that can be used for your dog’s cough, such as honey or tea, but it is best to consult your veterinarian before implementing them. These are small acts you can do as a pet parent for your dog’s recovery (PetAirpy, 2019). However, if your dog is showing symptoms, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian. It is important to see your veterinarian as soon as possible because they may prescribe antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, and even cough medications (AKC Staff, 2019). Canine Cough should be taken seriously because it is easily contracted and could turn into something worse if not properly managed.
Once your dog is once again healthy, there are methods to help prevent this infection. To help understand how to prevent this infection, it is best to understand how it can be transmitted. Canine Cough predominantly spreads through the air. An infected dog can simply cough, sneeze, bark, or shed for other dogs to contract it. It is not always easy to determine which dogs are infected because some dogs carry the infection but show no symptoms. These bacteria and viruses are able to stay alive in the air for as long as two weeks on tiny dust particles — awaiting their new host. Even though it is primarily spread through the air, the bacteria called Bordetella Bronchiseptica can survive on surfaces for up to forty-eight hours (bowls, toys, etc.). As well as being affected through direct contact. To halt spreading, any dog that has Canine Cough should be isolated immediately (PetAirpy, 2019). These three routes are the most direct ways Canine Cough infects others.
There are a few simple steps you can take to lessen your dog’s chance of getting Canine Cough. First, have regular visits with your veterinarian. Second, make sure your dog, as well as any dog yours associates with, has had the Bordetella vaccine. While you take your own precautions at home, we have also taken precautions here at Paws. In our facility, we apply two safeguards against contagions. First, a rigorous disinfection routine. Each day we thoroughly clean every aspect of Paws. We regularly clean each room, kennel, yard, and object at our facility. In each cleaning routine, we use veterinarian used and approved cleaning supplies. The cleaning supplies we use are called Rescue and Consume. Rescue is a degreaser, disinfectant, and sanitizer all in one. Rescue is certain to kill any bacteria or viruses it comes into contact with. We use Rescue on both indoor and outdoor cleaning. Consume is our outdoor cleaner. This cleaner most significantly helps with odors. Secondly, our HVAC system releases new air every seven minutes. Also, our ozonaters puts ozone into the air to attack bacteria. For additional cleanliness, we put our bowls and Kong toys through an industrial sanitizing dishwasher. This dishwasher is used at a high temp to kill any bacteria or viruses, and is used between every single use. Utilizing these top of the line products in a rigorous routine are essential to the comfort and satisfaction of every animal we care for.
Canine Cough is a very contagious infection. We take all precautions possible here at Paws, but take into consideration that dogs in our care are facing the same challenges you do at school or work. When other people are sick around you, it will most likely infect you. As the seasons come, we will see Canine Cough from time to time. While it might come into our walls, our cleaning equipment and technique will help to stop it in its tracks.
PetAirapy. (2019). Kennel Cough (Canine Cough). In PetAirapy. Retrieved from https://petairapy.com/canine-c...
AKC Staff. (2019, January 23). Kennel Cough in Dogs - Symptoms Treatment & Prevention. In American Kennel Club. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-adv...
New Experiences and Mixed Feelings. Understanding Anxiety in Your Dog. 08/11/19
When we leave our beloved dog for a few days, it can cause a significant amount of anxiety. Not only for us, but for our pet. It is like leaving a piece of our heart behind. When welcomed into Paws Pet Resort for the first time, they may be overwhelmed by the new place, people, and animals. Many dogs are able to adapt easily. Soon becoming accustomed, and even loving, the new experiences that Paws Pet Resort provides. Not all dogs can adapt as easily, and they end up becoming more anxious than excited.
When there is a change in your dog’s life, whether it be a change in their usual schedule or visiting a new place. They have a chance of developing anxiety. Some dogs are more susceptible to it than others. There are few different ways dogs can develop anxiety: Fear, separation, or age-related. Fear can happen due to loud noises, meeting new people or animals, unexpected visual stimuli (e.g. opening an umbrella), new environments, or specific situations. Separation speaks for itself. Dogs obviously don’t want to be away from you. Keep in mind, separation anxiety only affects about 14% of dogs. Lastly, age can cause anxiety. The way it causes anxiety is similar to that of humans. Just as humans get older, dogs’ cognitive functions may deteriorate. For example, they may have difficulty with their memory, learning, perception, and awareness leading to confusion and ultimately giving them anxiety (Kriss, 2019). Each of these causes has a different effect on the severity of the anxiety your dog experiences. It all depends on how resilient your dog is as well as how you react to the situation.
When dogs experience anxiety, there are a few ways they express it. To name a few, dogs may become aggressive or depressed, urinate, defecate, bark or howl excessively, chew, dig, or try to escape (Kriss, 2019). As we notice these symptoms, we are able to take action in treating their anxiety.
Here at Paws Pet Resort, we see all forms of anxiety within both boarding and daycare. Thankfully, there are simple methods to treat this anxiousness. As we assess the depth of a dog’s anxiety, we can determine what is the best method for the dog. Some methods are simple. For example, the dog may just need to keep busy. Thus, giving them a frozen Kong treat or extra play time can keep them distracted from their anxiety — and any destructive behavior. Or, it may just be as simple as your dog missing you. In which case, leaving behind an old T-shirt that smells like you or a few items that reminds them of home (ASPCA, 2019). In my own experience at Paws Pet Resort, I have seen dogs become skeptical to go into their boarding kennel. But, once I placed some of their items in the kennel (i.e. bed, blanket, toys, etc.) they rushed right in. Sometimes it is just about easing them into a situation. For instance, some dogs may not be comfortable around other dogs. In which case, we may start them off with a small group and work their way up. Unfortunately, not all dogs respond to these simple methods. Alternatively, there are anxiety medications that can help a dog cope with anxiety. Deciding what medication is best for your dog, is best discussed with your veterinarian.
Our dogs love us as much as we love them. They love their home, their toys, and their predictable schedule. Our dogs may not realize that sometimes change is inevitable. Whether the change is for better or worse, dogs will react to it. We all hope for a positive reaction, but we should always be prepared for a negative one. Anxiety is natural for many of us to experience, in both humans and dogs, and being aware and able to recognize the symptoms enable us to help our pets understand and embrace the new experiences in their life.
ASPCA. (2019). Separation Anxiety. In ASPCA. Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care...
Kriss, R. (2019, May 14). Understanding, Prevent, and Treating Dog Anxiety. In American Kennel Club. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-adv...
Striving for Safety. Instilling Safeness in the Organization. 08/10/19
Safety is our first priority for all the animals that come into our care at Paws Pet Resort. To help ensure that, we had all personnel at Paws become CPR certified! On July 21st, 2019, each person working at Paws took part in a course that educated us what to look for and how to take action when a dog or cat is in distress.
When it comes to humans, CPR is relatively easy because we all have the same type of anatomy. Dogs, on the other hand, have different bone structures. This significantly affects where the vital organs are within their bodies, and affecting how we would administer CPR to a particular dog. CPR is administered the same format as humans (i.e. duration of chest compressions, how to position the hands and arms, etc.). However, how dogs are positioned in relation to our bodies differs greatly. There are four main positions to keep in mind when administering CPR to a dog. First, average dogs (e.g. Labradors, Border Collies, etc.), are on their side with their back to us. We place our hands over the highest point on their chest. Second, keel chested dogs (e.g. Greyhounds, Vizslas, etc.), are positioned the same as average dogs except that we turn their body slightly upwards; where they are still on their side, but at an angle. Third, barrel chested dogs (e.g. Bull Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, etc.), are laid on their back and we place hand on the center of their sternum; similar to humans. The fourth type of positioning for CPR includes puppies, kittens, cats, and small dogs. With the significant difference in size, we only use one hand for these chest compressions. We would place our hand around their chest and squeeze for the compressions. As well as practicing these CPR variations, we created an action plan of what each person would do in that scenario.
CPR is not the only procedure that requires an awareness of animal body type. The Paws employees also learned how to administer the Heimlich to chocking animals of varying sizes. Smaller animals require being held in our arms while we thrust the heel of our hand against their abdomen. On the other hand, larger dogs require being held with their hind legs up while another person thrusts the heel of their hand against their middle to upper back. In both situations, we are positioning them in a way to let gravity work for us.
As we discussed and practiced CPR and Heimlich techniques, the question of weather came into conversation. More specifically, the heat! With the several heat advisories found this summer, it has been crucial for Paws to be vigilant in our dogs’ body language. With this course, we confirmed our previous knowledge and further developed our understanding of what to watch for in this heat. Several dogs can withstand the heat due to the breathability of their noses, but other dogs (e.g. Bull Dogs) do not have the same amount of resilience. Regardless of their anatomy, it is critical to limit the outside play time in this insane heat. The signs we know to watch for are heavy panting with occasional frothing, wider stance, muddy pink gums, disorientation, and elevated heart rate. With these signs in mind, we learned that if a dog is heating up not to give them any ice or cold water. This is important because it will fool their mind into thinking they are cold and make them heat up even more. The weather may be a cause for concern in many minds when it comes to their pets, but with this knowledge we are better prepared to care for each and every animal.
Life can be unpredictable around animals. With the variables of toys, weather, animal anatomy and personality, there is much to be aware of in the subject of safety. Thankfully, with our persistent vigilance and newfound knowledge, safety is our first thought everyday — right before fun! With this article and our certification, you can have a peace of mind every time your beloved pet comes into our care.