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Socializing Your Dog or Puppy

Ongoing socialization is extremely important to prevent behavior problems.  Socialization is especially important before the age of 3 months, but should also be done throughout your dog’s lifetime. Gentle socialization plays a huge role in preventing aggression and fearful behavior.  

Lack of socialization can lead to hyperactive behavior, barking, shyness and aggression.  The younger you begin socializing your dog, the better, but all dogs can be gradually brought into new and even initially fearful situations and learn to enjoy them.  

Socialization is a lifelong process.  For example, if your dog does not see any dogs for months or years at a time, you would expect his behavior to change around them when he does finally see them again.

How to expose your dog to something new or something he is wary of:

  • Make sure that you remain calm, and up-beat and keep his leash loose, if he is wearing one.
  • Expose him gradually to what he is fearful of, never forcing him.  Allow him to retreat if he wants to.
  • Reward him for being calm or for exploring the new situation.

Try to expose your dog regularly to all of the things and situations you would like him to able to cope with calmly in the future.  Progress slowly enough so that it is easy for your dog to enjoy the sessions.  It will seem like a lot of time to spend at first but it will pay off with a well-behaved dog.  

Below are some examples, but this is just a start:

  • Meeting new people of all types, including children, men, crowds, people wearing hats, in wheelchairs, etc.
  • Meeting new dogs (do not bring your pup to areas with lots of dogs until after 4 months)
  • Exposure to other pets such as cats, horse, birds
  • Teach him to enjoy his crate
  • Riding in the car (be sure to restrain him using a crate or seatbelt for safety)
  • Being held, touched all over and in different ways, being bathed and groomed
  • Visiting the Vet’s office, groomer, daycare, boarding kennel
  • Exposure to loud noises and strange objects (example – umbrella opening)
  • Exposure to traffic, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards, joggers
  • Getting him used to being left alone for a few hours at a time
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Treating Canine Anxiety and Aggression


If you’re a pet owner, you probably know that animals sometimes experience anxiety and stress. Although the symptoms look somewhat different than in humans, they’re real issues any dog can face.

It helps to know what anxiety looks like in your canine because just like humans it varies. It’s also important to be aware of the sources of your pet’s anxiety to rule out any physical illness.

The same applies to pet aggression. Animals are usually not aggressive unless they feel threatened in some way. If your canine is acting out and starts to nip at people, figuring out the triggers are important for helping your pet overcome their aggressive behaviors.

Canine Anxiety

There are various things that can cause your dog to feel anxious. Experts seem to indicate that the main sources are separation, aging, and fear. Fear is the most common source of anxiety in pets.

When your pet is afraid, they get anxious, much like humans do, although the triggers are different. If there are unfamiliar people or animals in your home, it might cause your pet stress. Loud noises are also a main source of anxiety for pets.

Many pets don’t do well in unfamiliar environments. That’s one reason pets tend to get anxious when travelling. Some dogs also don’t do well when it comes to flying or driving in cars.

Every pup is different and different pets will have their own unique response to stressful situations. Once you have been able to identify the cause of your pet’s anxiety you can help to reduce or eliminate it. Talking with your vet is a great place to start and they’ll be able to offer solutions for helping put your pet at ease.

Canine Aggression

The sources for canine aggression can vary, but typically the reasons involve feeling threatened. When your pet feels like they’re in danger they may become aggressive. The most important thing you can do is to figure out their triggers.

Some pets may not be aggressive towards humans and only are aggressive with other animals. Other pets can feel threatened by household objects, like the vacuum. Understanding why your pet feels threatened is important in helping them become less afraid.

When you adopt a dog, it’s important to consider its temperament. While every pet has their own unique personality, there are certain traits that are more common in each breed. Some breeds are bred to be more aggressive. This will require the owner to make sure the pet is properly trained so their pup isn’t aggressive in inappropriate situations.

There are also different forms of pet aggression. This can range from protective, fear, or pain induced aggression. Many times, when pets feel they need to protect their owner they will act out in an aggressive way. You’ll want to make sure that you have a good handle on your pet’s aggressive tendencies because you don’t want your pet hurting another person or animal when it’s unwarranted.

Canine Anxiety and Aggression

When dealing with your pet’s anxiety and aggression, it’s important to know and understand the source. When your dog’s in pain its behaviors can change dramatically, since animals tend to act out when they’re hurt. Make sure your pet is healthy before you begin training.

If your normally docile pet suddenly starts to act aggressive, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with your vet. They will be able to help determine if your animal is dealing with any health issues. It’s important to not ignore signs like this so your dog isn’t in pain.

Visiting your vet is a great place to start and, in many cases, they will be able to help remedy the problem. This may be by identifying the health issue that is causing their anxiety and aggression or providing medication to help lower their stress. Your vet may even be able to suggest trainers to help teach you how to manage your pet’s triggers.

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16 Things NOT to Feed Your Dog

No matter how hard your dog begs and pleads, there are simply some people foods you should never fork over. And of course, you also need to make sure potentially toxic foods aren’t left out where your dog could get at them. Read on to find out what foods dogs should not eat.

Bad Food for Dogs

You may already know not to offer chocolate to your pooch, but did you know that avocados can be bad for dogs too? Look over this list of 16 foods you should absolutely never feed your dog to see how many you knew about.

  • Chocolate
  • Gum and candy
  • Xylitol
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Tea leaves
  • Raw yeast dough
  • Spoiled foods
  • Fatty foods
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol

You’ll find this list at our 101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet, which names a bunch more (101 to be exact!) of common household items that can cause problems for your dog. Be sure to check it out later, but for now, let’s break it down with more about why these foods are bad for dogs.

why dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate

1. Chocolate

While melt in your mouth chocolate makes humans happy (and if it doesn’t, I can honestly say I don’t understand you at all!), it can be very harmful to your dog. It contains caffeine and theobromine, two stimulants that can make your dog’s heart race, blood pressure skyrocket, and even cause seizures and death.

The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be for your pup because it contains even more of these substances. So baker’s chocolate and semi-sweet nibs are big no no’s. Smaller breeds can also be affected by a lesser amount of chocolate than larger breeds. You can see just how much is too much in our Dogs and Chocolate Infographic.


why dogs shouldn’t eat gum or candy

2. Gum and candy

Thinking about a dog chewing on a piece of gum might elicit a chuckle or two, but it’s really not a laughing matter. A dog wouldn’t have a clue what to do with this strange, chewy substance and may be likely to swallow it, which can cause choking or blockages in the digestive system. Candy can result in the same issues, especially if it’s super chewy, like caramel or taffy. Hard candies can also fracture your dog’s teeth.

Plus, if that gum or candy is sweetened with Xylitol, it can cause some serious problems for your dog. Xylitol is such a dangerous substance it has it’s own spot on the list.


why the substitute sweetener Xylitol is dangerous for pets

3. Xylitol

Xylitol is a substitute sweetener used in many different foods, including gum, candy, desserts, yogurt, and peanut butter. Ingesting Xylitol can result in low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), seizure, and liver failure in dogs. So please check the ingredients of anything that might contain Xylitol before giving it to your dog.


why dogs shouldn’t eat grapes

4. Grapes

Grapes are highly toxic to dogs and can result in severe complications, including sudden kidney failure. Even just a single one can cause a very bad reaction in your dog, so keep those bowlfuls of grapes and fruit salads out of paws reach. If you happen to come home and find a straggly, empty grape vine on the floor near your dog, contact your veterinarian or animal poison control immediately (more on that at the end of this list).


why dogs shouldn’t eat raisins

5. Raisins

You know what raisins are, right? They’re dried and shriveled up grapes, of course! That means they’re just as harmful to your dog as their round and juicy friends. Raisins are also tricky, since they can hide in cookies and other goodies that your dog might try to gobble up.


why dogs shouldn’t eat macadamia nuts

6. Macadamia nuts

These nuts originated in Madagascar and Australia, but were brought over to Hawaii and California many years ago. They can now be found in plenty of local grocery stores and are sometimes baked into cookies. It’s not known what in these nuts causes a bad reaction in dogs, but symptoms can include a severely upset tummy, vomiting, hyperthermia, and tremors.


why dogs shouldn’t eat avocados

7. Avocados

These fruits (yes, they are a fruit!) contain a substance called persin, which can be harmful to dogs. There is more persin in the leaves and skin of avocados, and different varieties can contain more or less of this toxic substance. In any case, it’s better to be safe than sorry and keep your dog’s nose out of the guacamole bowl on game day.


why dogs shouldn’t eat onions

8. Onions

Onions contain a harmful substance that can damage your dog’s red blood cells, making them unable to carry oxygen through the body. This is as dangerous as it sounds and can be fatal. Now you might wonder what dog would eat an onion, but they’ve been known to gobble up slices dropped on the floor, snack on breaded onion rings, or nosh on sweeter tasting pearl onions. Onion powder is also a problem for dogs, so keep it safely stored away in the spice cabinet.


why dogs shouldn’t eat garlic

9. Garlic

Like onions, garlic can damage a dog’s red blood cells. Also like onions, you may be wondering what dog would want to eat garlic. But dogs don’t always shy away from strong tasting foods. They might eat up garlic cloves that fell while you were cooking or get into a jar of chopped garlic left open on the counter. Garlic powder can also be an issue, so be sure to store it safely.


why dogs shouldn’t eat salt

10. Salt

Too much salt, whether it’s poured directly out of the shaker or on potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, or other snacks, can cause health issues for your dog. It can lead to sodium ion or salt poisoning, which can damage the kidneys. Signs include excessive thirst and urination, vomiting, and diarrhea.


why dogs shouldn’t eat tea leaves

11. Tea leaves

While sitting down with a nice cup of tea can be one of the most relaxing points of your day, you should certainly avoid inviting your dog for teatime. Tea leaves contain caffeine, like I mentioned in our chat about chocolate, and can be quite troublesome for dogs. Although your dog may seem uninterested in tea bags, you should store cartons of them safely and avoid leaving mugs with used tea bags around where your dog could take a taste.


why dogs shouldn’t eat raw yeast dough

12.  Raw yeast dough

If you’re baking bread or other items with raw yeast, like homemade soft pretzels, be sure to let it rise somewhere safe from curious noses. The yeast in that dough can expand in your dog’s belly and cause painful gas and bloating. Bloat can cause a dog’s stomach to twist, which can turn into a medical emergency. There is also a risk of alcohol intoxication since yeast produces alcohol during the fermenting process.


why dogs shouldn’t eat spoiled food

13.  Spoiled foods

There can be all sorts of harmful things lurking in your garbage, such as spoiled or moldy foods, that can upset your dog’s tummy or worse. Some molds contain mycotoxins that cause serious muscle tremors. Be sure to throw old or rotten foods out where your dog can’t get at them, like a securely closed outdoor garbage bin.


why dogs shouldn’t eat fatty food

14. Fatty foods

Feeding your dog fatty foods, like hot dogs, bacon, ribs, or fried chicken, can upset your dog’s stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhea. It can also lead to pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas. Some breeds, like Miniature Schnauzers and Yorkshire Terriers, may be more prone to pancreatitis. If you notice your dog is hunched over with tummy pain, contact your vet.


why dogs shouldn’t have coffee

15. Coffee

Like tea leaves and chocolate, coffee is harmful to dogs because of the caffeine content. This goes for brewed, ground, and whole bean coffee. It’s also true of used coffee grounds, so be careful how you dispose of them.


why dogs shouldn’t have alcohol

16. Alcohol

Just like people, dogs can get buzzed from drinks or foods containing alcohol. This effect can be amplified for dogs, especially for those of smaller breeds. Alcohol can also affect your dog’s nervous system and even lead to a coma or death. There’s simply no reason to ever offer your dog an alcoholic beverage. You should also keep an eye on your dog during parties where drinks may be left around.


What Dogs are at Risk?

Dogs of any breed, shape, or size are at risk for ingesting something harmful. However, some dogs may be more prone to eating things they shouldn’t based on their personalities. While all dogs need to be protected from bad foods and toxic substances, dogs who are super curious or love to put things in their mouths may need closer supervision.

dog poison emergency tips

Dog Poison Emergency Tips

It’s good to know the list of bad food for dogs, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to protect your dog from getting into trouble all of the time. If you suspect your dog has ingested a harmful food or substance, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) immediately. The APCC is available 24/7 at 888-426-4435. A $65 consultation may apply.

Also, be sure to stay calm and never try to treat your dog without professional advice. You could injure your dog or get hurt yourself. Even the most loving dog can act out when in pain, scared, or upset. Depending on the situation, your vet may need to perform diagnostic tests, induce vomiting, administer fluids through an IV, or prescribe medications. Hospitalization may also be necessary in more severe cases.

While these treatments can get expensive, you can get help managing the costs with an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Get a quote for your dog now. This way, if you ever come home to find a ripped open box of raisins and a dog with an upset tummy, you can at least rest easy knowing that you’ll have help covering the medical bills.


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