Fecal Snacks? Why Does My Dog Do “That”?

Fecal Snacks? Why Does My Dog Do “That”?

It’s a common issue that nobody likes to talk about.  You take your dog for a walk and they “do their business” as usual but instead of moving on they turn and gobble it up. Just the thought makes you sick, so why does my dog do “that”? Dogs’ consuming their own feces (or other animals’) is known as coprophagia. Many species of animals do this; however, it is not known exactly why it occurs. It occurs most often in puppies. Luckily, most of the time the puppy will grow out of it as they mature. Nursing mothers also participate in coprophagia until a puppy is about three days old. Since a puppy that young is not able to eliminate on their own the mother will lick her pups to activate the defecation reflex. Mom will consume the fecal in order to maintain cleanliness and to keep predators away. Some dogs continue the habit into adulthood. Going back to 15,000 years dogs were known as the waste management company. They would help keep the land surrounding their settlement clean. Needless to say old habits die hard.

If your pet is currently participating in coprophagia it is important to discuss it with your veterinarian. If your pet isn’t getting nutrient rich balanced diets or if they are unable to digest the nutrition in food they may resort to coprophagia. How to prevent my dog from doing “that”: Since it is natural for a dog to sniff feces as part of their investigative behavior discouraging this will prove difficult.

i will not eat poop

•Be sure to dispose of fecal matter immediately. Disposing of fecal waste will eliminate the option of consuming as well as help with the prevention of worms and intestinal parasites being transmitted.

•Provide your pet with toys and activities that provide exercise.  This will help prevent fecal eating from becoming a compulsive behavior.

•Teach your dog the “leave it” command. See article – http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/teaching-your-dog-leave-it

•Use a taste deterrent such as meat tenderizer. Sprinkle your pets’ food with the tenderizer. It will take a couple days to pass through digestion system and be noticeable to your pet in feces. If it’s been more than four days and it has not helped increase the amount sprinkled consistently for another 4 days.

•You can also purchase products at your local pet store that are formulated to make feces less appetizing.

• Keep your pet on a leash when going out and be aware of other pets’ feces.

Teach Your Dog Not to Chew

Teach Your Dog Not to Chew

dental-diseaseLet’s look at some techniques that will help guide you as you teach your dog not to chew. First, let’s get into the right mind set.  It is important to think about rewarding your pet for their good behavior instead of punishing them when they chew.  Just as you would child proof your home for the arrival of a new baby, you should puppy proof your home for your new puppy.

If you are bringing a new puppy or dog home select a variety of toys made with different material and textures until you know what toys your new pet prefers.  Rotate the toys so they are seeing something new every couple of weeks.  This can be an easy way to keep them entertained.

You may have the best toys and have done a great job of rotating them to prevent boredom and still find your pet chewing on items around the house.  Check the items that you find them chewing on and remove any toys that resemble that item.  Your pet may confuse what they can chew on and what they cannot.

While your pet is getting use to their new surroundings you may want to consider a crate.  A crate can be a safe place for your pet to sleep and chew on their own special toys or treats.  When you are home to supervise your pet attach a leash to your pet.  This can serve two purposes if a leash is new for your pet this helps them get use to wearing a leash.  It also acts as a handle for you to easily grab when your pet needs to be redirected.

If you find that your pet is destroying items only when you are away from home, they may need additional exercise to burn off excess energy.  Get your pet on a routine and take them for a long walk in the morning or before you leave the house.  You can also save a special toy like a Kong filled with their favorite treat that they only receive when you are leaving.  If you are unable to correct the behavior their separation anxiety may need to be discussed with your veterinarian.

Crate Training – A Safe Haven For Your Dog

Crate Training – A Safe Haven For Your Dog

Why might my dog need to be confined or crate trained?

Dogs are highly social animals that make wonderful pets. They can be effective as watchdogs, are excellent companions for play and exercise, and are sources of affection and comfort. However, with the lifestyle and schedule of the majority of families, dogs must learn to spend a portion of the day at home, while their human family is away at school, work, shopping or engaging in recreational activities. During those times when you are away and unavailable to supervise, the pet may still feel the need to chew, play, explore, eat, or eliminate. These behaviors can be very distressing and damaging to the home. Confining your dog to a play area with its toys is akin to putting a young child in his or her playpen; while teaching your dog to relax and sleep in its crate or bed would be similar to putting your baby in his or her crib when it’s time for bedtime or a nap.

How can this misbehavior be prevented?

Preventing inappropriate behaviors when you are absent involves both scheduling and prevention. Scheduling means ensuring that the pet has had the opportunity to play, eat, and eliminate before you leave it in its confinement area or crate. By maintaining a regular daily routine and timing your departures (or other daily commitments) at a time when your dog would normally be napping or playing with its own toys, there should be minimal resistance to confinement.  Prevention involves keeping the pet in a confined area where it is secure, safe, and can do no damage to itself or your possessions.

What are my options for confinement?

Depending on the structure of your home, it may be possible to confine your dog to a limited portion of your home, by closing a few doors, or putting up some child gates or barricades. The dog can then be allowed access to the remaining areas of the house. Another option is to use avoidance devices that keep the pet away from selected areas.  If dog-proofing is not possible when you have to leave your dog unsupervised, you might need to confine your dog to a single room, pen, or crate. This smaller confinement area not only provides safety for the dog and protection of the home from damage, but also provides a means of teaching the dog what it is supposed to chew, and where it is supposed to eliminate i.e. setting up for success rather than attempting to punish what might be undesirable, but normal play, exploration, scavenging, or elimination.

Isn’t crate training cruel?

Crate training is neither cruel nor unfair. On the contrary, leaving the dog unsupervised to wander, investigate, destroy, and perhaps injure itself or be later punished is far more inhumane than confinement. Ensure that the crate is large enough for your dog to stand, turn and play with its toys.  Proper timing and scheduling can help your dog to adapt.  Be certain that your dog has had sufficient play, exercise, attention, and an opportunity to eliminate before confinement, and that you return before the dog next needs to eliminate.  Ideally the pet should be placed in its crate at times of the day when it is due for a nap, or when it normally amuses itself by playing with its own toys.  Although confinement should be used when you cannot supervise your dog, when you are at home you must try to keep the pet with you (except during the pet’s nap times), as this is the only way to train and reinforce desirable behavior and direct the pet away from undesirable behavior.  An extra long leash can be used to facilitate this if necessary.

What are the benefits of crate training?

Confinement training has many benefits.  It keeps your pet safe and prevents damage to household possessions.  The crate also provides a place of security; a comfortable retreat where the dog can relax, sleep, or chew on a favorite toy.  Confining the pet to a crate or room, when the owner is not available to supervise can immediately prevent behavior problems. If the puppy is crated when it is napping or playing with its own toys, the risk for over-attachment and separation anxiety might be reduced.  While in the crate, the puppy learns to spend time away from the owners.  When you are at home, supervision and rewards can be used to prevent undesirable behavior, and to teach the dog where to eliminate, what to chew, and what rooms and areas, if any, are “out of bounds.”

Will cage confinement help with house-training?

Crate training is one of the quickest and most effective ways to house-train a dog. Since most dogs instinctively avoid eliminating in their sleeping and eating areas, dogs that use their crate as a bed or “den” will seldom eliminate inside unless they have been left in the crate for too long or they are excessively anxious when confined.  Crate training can also help teach the dog to develop control over its elimination.  As soon as your dog is released from its crate, take it to the designated area and reward elimination at acceptable locations. Since the crate prevents chewing, digging, and elimination on the owner’s home and property, owners of crate trained puppies have fewer behavior concerns, the puppy receives far less discipline and punishment, and the overall relationship between pet and owner can be dramatically improved.

Will the crate provoke barking?

The crate can also be a useful way to reduce or eliminate distress barking. Rather than locking the puppy up and away from the owners at nighttime or during mealtime, the puppy can be housed in its crate in the bedroom or kitchen. In this way the puppy cannot get into mischief, and is less likely to cry out or vocalize, with the owners in the room.  Of course if the puppy is not napping and you are available to supervise, your puppy should be out and about with you watching closely to ensure that it comes to no harm and does not get into mischief.  Distress vocalization is far more likely for owners that lock their puppy out of harms way in a laundry or basement with no access to them. When and if the owner then goes to the puppy to quiet it down or check it out, the crying behavior is rewarded.

Are there other benefits to crating?

Throughout its life, whether traveling or boarding, your dog may require crate confinement for varying periods of time. Dogs that are comfortable with crating are more likely to feel secure, and far less stressed, should caging be required.  By bringing along the dog’s bedding or its own crate for boarding, the pet may feel even more settled and relaxed.



What type of crate or confinement area works best?

A metal, collapsible crate with a tray floor works well, as long as the crate is large enough for the dog to stand, turn, and stretch out. Some dogs feel more secure if a blanket is draped over the crate. Playpens or barricades may also be successful as long as they are durable and escape proof.

Where should the crate be located?

Because dogs are social animals, an ideal location for the crate is a room where the family spends time such as a kitchen, den, or in a bedroom where the dog might sleep at night.

How can crating or confinement become a positive experience?

Most dogs quickly choose a small area, such as a corner of a room, in a dog bed, or on or under a couch, where they go to relax. If your puppy has just recently been adopted from the breeder, kennel or pet store, crate training should be relatively easy, since your puppy is likely already accustomed to sleeping in a pen or crate.  The key to making the crate the dog’s favorite retreat and sleeping area, is to associate the crate with as many positive and relaxing experiences and stimuli as possible (treats, chew toys, bedding) and to place the dog in its cage when playing with new toys, during scheduled rest and sleep periods or even as a feeding area.  You must therefore plan and be aware of the dog’s schedule, including its needs for exploration, play, food, and elimination, so that the dog is only placed in its cage, when each of these needs is fulfilled. You must then return to the dog to release it from its cage before the next exercise, feeding or elimination period is due.  A radio or television playing in the background may help to calm the dog when it is alone in its cage, especially during the daytime. These may also help to mask environmental noises that can stimulate the dog to vocalize.  The crate should NEVER be used for punishment.

How do I crate-train my new puppy?

Introduce the puppy to the crate as soon as it is brought home and as early in the day as possible. Place a variety of treats in the cage throughout the day so that the puppy is encouraged to enter voluntarily. Bedding, toys and water can also be offered to the puppy in the open cage.  Food might also be placed in the pen or crate if you wish to also designate it as a feeding area.

Choose a location outdoors for the puppy to eliminate. Take the puppy to the location, wait until the puppy eliminates, and reward the puppy lavishly with praise and/or food. After some additional play and exercise, and when you feel its time for your puppy to take a nap (or when you see your puppy begin to settle down for nap), place the puppy in its crate with water, a toy and a treat and close the door.

If the puppy is tired and calm, it may take a “nap” shortly after being placed in its crate.  If not, be certain to provide a few novel and stimulating toys or chews for play.  In this way the crate serves one of two functions – as your puppy’s bed (crib) or your puppy’s play area (playpen).

Leave the room but remain close enough to hear the puppy. Escape behavior and vocalization are to be expected when a dog is first placed into its crate. If the “complaints” are short or mild, ignore your puppy until the crying stops. Never release the puppy unless it is quiet. This teaches that quiet behavior, and not crying will be rewarded. Release the puppy after a few minutes of quiet or a short nap.

A brief disruption may be useful to deter crying if it does not subside on its own. Citronella based bark-deterrent collars or automatic ultrasonic noise disruptors can be utilized.  This is a humane way in which your dog can be taught that barking has unpleasant consequences whether you are present or not. When the barking ceases, the disruption is stopped.

Repeat the cage and release procedure a few more times during the day at each naptime and each time your puppy is given a toy or chew with which to play.  Each time, increase the time that the dog must stay in the crate before letting it out.  Always give the puppy exercise and a chance to eliminate before securing it in the crate.

At bedtime, the dog should be exercised, secured in its crate, and left for the night. Do not go to the dog if it cries. The crate might remain in the same place as it has been during the day, or might be moved (or a second crate used) to the bedroom.

If the pup sleeps in one end of its crate and eliminates in the other, a divider can be installed to keep the puppy in a smaller area providing the puppy is not required to spend more time in the crate than it is capable of holding it’s urine or stool. Never leave the puppy in its crate for longer than it can control itself or it may be forced to eliminate in the crate.

Although there is a great deal of individual variability, many puppies can control themselves through the night by 3 months of age. During the daytime, once the puppy has relieved itself, a 2-month old puppy may have up to 3 hours control, a 3-month puppy up to 4 hours, and a 4 month old puppy up to 5 hours.



What is the best technique for crate training older pets and adult dogs?

For adult dogs or older puppies that have not been crate trained previously, set up the crate in the dog’s feeding area with the door open for a few days. Place food, treats, and water in the crate so that the dog enters the crate on its own. Another alternative is to place the crate (or a second crate) in the dog’s sleeping area with its bedding. Once the dog is entering the crate freely, it is time to close the door for very short periods of time. Some dogs might do better with a pen, or confinement area with barricade (child gate).

Using the same training techniques as for ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ training, have the dog enter its crate for short periods of time to obtain food, treats, or chew toys. Once the pet expects treats each time it enters the crate, train the dog to enter the crate on command (e.g. kennel up!), and have the dog remain in the kennel for progressively longer periods of time, before the dog is allowed to exit. Give small rewards each time the dog enters the cage at first, and give the dog a favored chew toy or some food to help make the stay more enjoyable. At first, the door can remain open during these training sessions.

When the dog is capable of staying comfortably and quietly in the crate begin to lock the dog in the crate at nighttime. Once the dog sleeps in the crate through the night, try leaving the pet in the crate during the daytime. Try short departures first, and gradually make them longer.

Is crate training practical for all dogs?

An occasional dog may not tolerate crate training, and may continue to show anxiety, or even eliminate when confined. These dogs may adapt better to other types of confinement such as a pen, dog run, small room, or barricaded area. Of course, if the dog is being left alone for longer than it can control (hold in) its elimination, it will be necessary to provide an area much larger than a cage, so that the pet has a location on which to eliminate, away from its food and bedding.

Continued anxiety, destruction or vocalization when placed in the crate may indicate separation anxiety. The intervention of a veterinarian may be needed.

Stress Relief For Your Cat With Feliway

Stress Relief For Your Cat With Feliway

Do you have a cat that scratches the furniture, sprays, or hides under the bed for most of the day? Do you have multiple cats that hiss at each other and fight? If this sounds familiar your feline friend(s) may be feeling stressed. Things like moving, redecorating, traveling, or a visit to the groomer or veterinarian may be causing your cat undue stress. Don’t worry, there is a wonderful product called Feliway that can provide the relief your cat needs.

Feliway anxiety relief for cats

We have all seen cats rub their cheeks on the couch, up against our legs and even on the family dog. Cats mark their territory this way. This rubbing which is sometimes called “head butting” leaves behind the cat’s facial pheromone. This pheromone gives cats a sense of safety and security. When cats are stressed, this pheromone marking does not happen, that’s where Feliway comes in. Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone. This synthetic pheromone creates an environment of familiarity when cats are stressed or facing a challenging situation.

Feliway is available in a spray, a plug in diffuser, wipes and a multi-cat diffusor. The spray acts to inhibit scratching and marking. Simply spray the area where the unwanted behaviors are occurring and over time this behavior will decrease or be completely eliminated. It also works great for that yearly veterinary visit, spray 1 pump into the cat carrier before you travel to create that safe environment your cat is used to. The diffuser creates a continuous state of comfort for your cat, and will also aide in decreasing any of those unwanted destructive behaviors. The spray and the diffuser may be used together or work great by themselves. The wipes deliver the same pheromone as the spray and diffuser in convenient single use packets. The multi-cat diffuser should be used for multiple cat households whose feline residents just can’t get along. This diffuser utilizes a synthetic feline appeasing pheromone. This pheromone is produced by mother cats while nursing their kittens and can be detected by cats of any age. The multi-cat diffuser will help keep the peace in your house.

If your cat is showing signs of stress, give one of our veterinary technicians a call to discuss if Feliway is right for you and your feline friends.

Todd Metrision, BA





What do you mean – Fear Free?

What do you mean – Fear Free?

Two cats relaxing together after surgery.

What do you mean – fear free?  Picture Sally, a young woman about to enter an office.  See if you can guess where Sally is…

Sally opens the door and sees that the walls are covered in warm and tranquil colors, she hears the sounds of trickling water and soft music humming in the background, and the air is filled with a hint of lavender that immediately puts her at ease. Can you guess where Sally is?

Most might imagine that Sally has just entered a spa. However, Sally actually just entered her dentist office. What made the dentist want to change their office to resemble a spa? Remember that Sally was immediately put at ease….ah ha – we might be onto something.

Did you know that dentist rank as one of the most feared places to go?  Dentists have spent a long time researching how to get people into their offices. We all understand that dental health is important, but getting us to schedule an appointment and actually go is a whole other story. The next thing is how much anxiety do you have while you are there. They learned that massage chairs, TVs, warm colors, tranquil music and sounds all help the body relax and stay calm. Many dentists have adopted these principles when designing their offices. They care about our dental health and if we are more likely to commit to going to the dentist if we have a good experience, then why not make the change.

So how does this relate to veterinary medicine and becoming fear free? If doctor and dental offices can create a stress free environment for their patients, why shouldn’t veterinary hospitals take the necessary steps to achieve the same comfortable fear free experience for their patients? Well, at Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital we are!

The Fear Free Initiative lead by America’s veterinarian, Dr. Marty Becker, simply means we focus on your pet’s physical well-being as well as their emotional well-being. Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital believes a fear free initiative will allow us to continue to strengthen the human-animal bond.

The North American Veterinary Community and the American Animal Hospital Association have created VetFolio, a joint partnership. The Vetfolio team created an eight module certification program in conjunction with board-certified veterinary behaviorists, practice management experts, and veterinary technicians. The modules teach veterinary professionals how to create a calming fear free environment for patients, and educate clients on how to participate in achieving a fear free visit.

As the GVH team begins training to obtain certification, you may see some of the following changes designed to reduce stressful visits:

  • A blue towel sprayed with Feliway (a pheromone designed to help felines adjust to difficult situations) may be placed over your cat carrier or on the exam room table to calm our feline friends.
  • Music in our lobby and recovery areas will be kept below 60 decibels, which research shows is less stressful for patients.

  • Music selections will change to a more classical theme better suited to your pet’s sense of hearing.

  • Lower volume on phone ringers will be adopted throughout our office.

  • Our team may offer you a 5 minute “fun“ visit. To help reinforce that coming to the vet is not always a “bad” thing.

  • Our team may spoil your pet with treats as a distraction while performing certain procedures.




Back to School With Your Dog

Back to School With Your Dog

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to go back to school with your dog too! Since dogs can learn at all ages and stages of life, it is never too late to correct bad habits, teach new tricks, and improve your relationship with your dog. Enrolling your dog in a training program can also help teach your children responsibility if they are involved in the training of your pet. Many dogs may develop behavioral issues, such as vocalization and destructiveness once your children go back to school. It is important to correct the bad behavior before it gets out of hand. There are many different options when sending your pooch back to school…

On-site training classes – Classes provide the experiences and opportunities for your dog to interact with other dogs, with people, and in new environments.

At-home training classes – At home training gives you a one on one experience with a dog training professional. It also is helpful for dogs that are being trained for dog aggression and unable to be around other dogs.

Doggie Day Care – Classes provide the experiences and opportunities for your dog to interact with other dogs, with people, and in new environments. It also is a good option for dogs that have separation anxiety to become accustomed to you leaving them and picking them up.

Books on dog training – Books give you the convenience of training at any time. They also are a lower cost option then on-site or at-home training.  Check out our Pinterest page for a list of great training books.

On-line videos on training – Videos are also a convenient way for you to do training any time. Videos also help you have a visual when training.

Benefits of training and socialization:

  • Socialization has been found to be critical to the psychological health of adult dogs.
  • Training classes provide dog owners the skills and knowledge for dealing with common, normal dog behaviors.
  • Training provides dogs with the basic good manners we all want—from polite greeting when guests arrive, to walking nicely on the leash, to coming when called.
  • A trained dog is a fully participating member of the family.
  • A trained dog can accompany you to fun events where dogs are welcome. From kids’ sports game, visiting friends and relatives, going for hikes, swims, and everything else the family does together.
  • Training is shown to keep pets in their forever homes.
  • Training builds the bond between you and your pet.

So when the kids go back to school consider sending Rover too!! It’s never too late to learn.


-Meghan Burnell, AS
GVH Veterinary Technician

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