Monday, September 30, 2019

Hind Leg Weakness in German Shepherd Dogs

Does Your GSD Suddenly Start Showing Signs of Hind Leg Weakness?

Rear Limb Weakness (RLW) or hind leg weakness is commonly seen in large breeds including GSD. A German Shepherd that used to run around without missing out even a single step may suddenly exhibit signs of Rear Limb Weakness (RLW) and pain in the hind leg(s). This condition of sudden and progressive weakening of your GSD's hind limbs may go worse day by day, and its sudden onset will put wrinkles on the owner's forehead. This post is aimed at helping you with detailed information about the probable reasons of the condition.


Degenerative Myelopathy

Among the several neurological disorders that manifest themselves with RLW and hind part pain, degenerative myelopathy is commonly found in dogs - irrespective of breed type, size and genders. In worst cases DM in your dog may eventually lead to paresis - partial loss of voluntary movement of the hind limbs. DM starts with malfunctioning of the spinal cord, where the signals are not properly carried to the brain and the dog gradually loses strength and control of the hind legs.


Spinal Cord Injury

Another major reason - quite common - for weakness in hind legs is spinal cord injury, caused by both traumatic and non-traumatic reasons. Any kind of bruise or inflammation in the spinal cord eventually lead to weakness in the rear legs. Severe injury to the spinal cord, and/or vertebral fractures leads to paralysis of rear limbs.

Common traumatic causes of spinal cord injury in dogs:

• Animal abuse (hit by humans)
• Automobile accidents
 • Accidental falls
• Violence - mainly from Gunshot wounds - common in police and war dogs
• Medical/ Surgical Complications


Common non-traumatic causes of spinal cord injury in dogs:

While non-traumatic spinal cord injuries are not as frequently seen as traumatic spinal cord injury, but they are still prevalent.

• Osteoporosis
 • Spinal tumors and cancer
• Multiple sclerosis (disabling disease of spinal cord and brain - the central nervous system(CNS))
• Inflammation of the spinal cord
• Arthritis
• Spinal Stenosis
• Blood Loss


Cushing's Diseases

Cushing's Disease is quite common in dogs of 6 years or above. Cushing's disease
(hyperadrenocorticism caused by an ACTH-secreting tumor of the pituitary gland) is the excess production of cortisol hormone by adrenal glands that are located near the kidneys. The hyper-secretion of Cortisol adversely affects the functioning of many organs and is often accompanied by hind leg weakness, excessive shedding and baldness, pot-bellied appearance, excessive thirst and hunger and general weakness.


Diabetes Mellitus

If your dog has high blood sugar, he/she may exhibit signs of back leg weakness. Overweight canines that are kept on high sugar diets and diets containing grains are more prone develop Diabetes Mellitus. The most common complication that arises from high blood sugar in dogs is diabetic neuropathy, where a temporary or permanent damage of nerve tissues. Such nerve damage usually progresses as a neuropathic problem resulting in weakening of hind legs. This condition eventually progresses either to pain or numbness, and finally the dog will stop movement.


Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD)

Non-Chondrodystrophic breeds like German Shepherd Dog, Doberman Pinscher and Labrador Retriever are prone to the risk of IVDD (Intervertebral disc degeneration). Also called Degenerative Disc Disease or disc rupture, the obese dogs are more exposed to the risk of this condition where the dog loses strength of hind legs, accompanied by mild pain. IVDD often leads to partial to total paralysis of back legs.


Arthritis

Another reason for your GSD's back leg weakness may be arthritic pain. Older dogs may suffer arthritis, weak joints and hip joint pain, which may severely compromize the dog's normal mobility. Arthritis in dogs may also lead to change in attitude and behavior.


Treatment

Treatment completely depends on the cause of RLW. There is no single treatment for all causes of the condition. Your veterinarian may want you to perform and x-ray for your dog to ascertain the cause of weakness and/or pain the back legs. More than that, the vet may also ask you to perform blood tests and urinalysis of your dog that can help him in proper diagnosis. Sometimes general weakness along with RWL may be triggered by the altered (rise or fall) level of minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, or phosphorous in the blood. Electrolytic imbalance can be treated easily.


Note: Sometimes genetics are responsible for RLW. Unscientific breeding without keeping anatomy in focus cause puppies to grow with RLW. YOu will suddenly notice your adolescent pup or the adult GSD showing weakness in his hind, and losing motor function of his hind legs. Over time, the weakness grows into pain and may even get worsen. Proper breeding is hence highly desirable.





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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Playtime Hyper Excitement In German Shepherds



play time over excitement in German Shepherd Dog

Playtime Hyper Excitement has got nothing to do with aggression or any other behavioral problem.

Playtime excitement is quite common in the German Shepherd Dog breed. Hyper excitement during the playtime is also not very uncommon in these dogs. The roots to the creation of the GSD as a breed is directly from the sturdy working sheep dogs and hence the natural energy level is higher than most of the other dog breeds. GSDs are powerful dogs too. They require exercises a lot more than many other dogs to attain a content and balanced playtime.

For German Shepherds that exhibit hyper activeness or over excitement during the playtime needs to be handled in a little different ways during the time of exercise. Firstly, being the alpha member of the team (team composed of you, as the leader and your German Shepherd as your follower), you need to establish a set of rule and ceilings in order to prevent him from taking the advantages of the playtime. The ceiling here denotes a particular type of play that is correct and is desired and your German Shepherd should follow you as the pack leader. All you need to do is to show him how to fetch the ball or how to catch the frisbee. But how to?


Well, this is not a rocket science! And this is highly possible. Make sure that you will not skim the frisbee in the air or throw the ball until he comes to you and calms down to a comparatively cooler state and sits, waits for the throw. Throw the ball after he waits for it and gives you an eye contact, which is a sense of respect towards you – his leader. This way you can frame boundaries or rules of play. But prior to that there are certain steps to be taken, else you will not be able to set up the rules and put him into that.


There is nothing like playing frisbee or fetching a ball with your GSD in order to get his energy drained out. But before you start playing with your hyper active dog, it is recommended that you get a part of his energy exhausted to a little extent. This is important for the process of putting him into your established rule. A long walk accompanied by occasional trotting for few minutes in between the walks can be a great option of drive out some amount of his energy prior to the play. After the walk get into an fenced yard and allow him rest for a while. Then let him play with the ball by himself – rather not involving yourself into the play. Finally give a twist to this entire exercise regime by throwing the frisbee or the ball for him to fetch. Throw it as far away as possible and allow him to fetch.

Also allow him to play with the ball or the frisbee alone when at his room or in the garden. This will gradually degrade his sensitivity to the toys and make the toys less attractive to him eventually.


Most often this kind of overly excited playtime behavior – especially towards the toys are misrepresented as aggression. That's NOT aggression. Many dog owners confuse between play-time over excitement  and aggression. This playtime hyper excitement is nothing to be worried about and there’s no reason for it to be associated aggression. It is just the extra level of excitement and energy that he exhibits through exhibiting hyper sensitivity towards certain toys or certain place (for example a large open lawn or many be your yard) during the playtime – especially the toys that he loves the most.


Remember this entire process is just a package and you need to repeat the whole process as explained over and over until your German Shepherd start behaving in a desensitized way during the play time. However, in such situations it is required to put him into good volume of exercises as explained above throughout the dog's life, until the time he can play well. Volume of exercise must be optimized based on his age and health.

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German Shepherd Puppy Training Tips


Step-by-Step Training Tips For Your German Shepherd Puppy

Shoulds and Should Nots

So you are planning to bring your GSD puppy home! I assume you understand that dog ownership is a life-time commitment, which is not only a commitment of money and effort, but also a commitment of time and relationship too. The German Shepherd puppy is going to be a part of your family and will continue to grow with different requirements – nutritional, activities, space and socialization.


Training your GSD puppy involves building desirable habits that includes everything - starting from feeding and potty habit to desirable play behavior. German Shepherd puppies are very intelligent and grab new tricks quite faster. However, that's not always a fact though! With growth, the puppy will have a desperate need for daily exercise accompanied with ongoing training in order to check all kinds of negative puppy behavior. For a successful and effective training, the puppy should be put to right socializing process. To start off with, your puppy should be socialized with other animals from a very early age, for instance 4 months age.


First time outdoor: Take your puppy outdoor for the first time after the first set of vaccine shots are fully done. Keep him in the fenced area and let him explore the entire external world that he can see for the first time ever. Allow him to sniff out the leaves and grasses, and chase the butterflies, moths and birds. Let him run, play and experience the sounds of the falling leaves, chirping birds and other sounds. This kind of socialization is considered as the most significant part of the beginning of an effective dog training.


Introduction to the training session: Gradually! Your GSD puppy should be introduced to actual training session gradually and in a progressive manner. Start off with potty training your puppy. After each meal, lead him the way outdoor where you want him to defecate. Control him through the lead and don’t let him go else where until he is done. It requires a lot of time to potty train your puppy, because sometimes GSD puppies are typically headstrong.



Crate training: Crate training the puppy is important. Make sure that his create is just big enough for him to turn around and lie freely inside it. Note that while starting with the crate training your puppy will exhibit behavioral problems with continual whining. I suggest not letting him out until he stops whining. However, it is advisable to crate him in for smaller time span to begin with. As soon as you unlock his crate, make sure to chain him and lead him outdoor without any delay and take him to the place you want him to urinate and potty. It is suggested that you always follow the same and most feasible route to that place. Taking different routes will make training ineffective, as it will confuse the pup.


Introduction to verbal command obedience training: No age is too early or too late, and right time is to start today and now if he has crossed three months of age and properly vaccinated. Vaccination is very important because you may need to take take him outdoor if you think inside your house is not the right place for him to be trained. Moreover, training outdoor has its unique effectiveness provided you choose the right time when there will be no disturbing element that may deviate his attention. Early in the morning and during the night are the two suggested times. Better start off with the command “COME”. Let him play enough to be a little tired and will want to sit. Let him sit, while you move away to a distant. Be sited yourself and deliver the command “COME” while encouraging him, showing him a piece of cookie. If he denies, repeat the command, lovingly and encouragingly. Offer him his tidbits when he comes to you and praise him lavishly. The trick is to let him know which sound associates with which desirable action and if he makes you happy he will be getting his favorite tidbits. Firm voice and strictness won't work at this age.


Most Important Puppy Training Tips

Your training will be successful if you make your puppy feel that training session is just a play session and a fun! 

Transition from one command to the other – “COME” to : This is the most delicate point and chances are there that your puppy will get confused with commands and action. Consistency, repetition and patience are the key to the success story. The best command that should be chosen after “COME” is “SIT”. After he is well acquainted with the sound “COME”, stop offering him his cookies when he comes. Start with teaching him how to sit with the Command “SIT” now. Sit before and hold the cookie run your hand slowly over his nose and head and towards his loin and gently press the loin region and deliver the command softly yet firmly “SIT”. He will automatically sit while following the cookie in your hand. One he sits offer him his cookie and praise him. Repeat the whole process again and again starting from “COME” to “SIT”.


What’s next: The best lesson to teach him after “SIT” is the command “DOWN”. Once he is quite well with “SIT”, start with “DOWN”. Teaching the “DOWN” command to your puppy requires additional patience. More importantly, you need to first establish yourself as the ALPHA member (leader of the pack, where the pack mates are you and your puppy). Sometimes, teaching “DOWN” command is typically tough because the puppy will associate the action of lying down to the sense of submission, and he will try not to be submissive too easily. What is desirable to be achieved with the down command is to make your puppy cool and get down to the laying position, with the belly touching the floor, and his front legs extended in the front.

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Rehabilitating Shy & Unsocialized German Shepherd Puppies



Socializing Your German shepherd Puppy

If your German Shepherd puppy is gradually getting aggressive towards other animals and strangers or strange situations or if he exhibits unpredictable behavior and shies away when your friend approaches him with a friendly gesture, then you should admit that you have not socialized your dog properly when he was young. It is your fault - not your dog's, although there are instances about shyness being genetically instilled into the progenitors from their parents.

There are many reasons why some German Shepherd puppies grow different and shy away and try to attack other animals and strangers. Many a times novice owners pick puppies from their dam or separated from the pack before they reach at least 2 months of age. It is a must to keep the pup with its damn and newly born pack members, because of four major reasons:

a) It gets the total nutritional benefits of the mother's milk

b) Keeping it with his pack members until at least 8-10 weeks of age will help each puppy to learn how to mingle and behave with other dogs

c) Keeping it with another adult dog (its mother), each puppy learns certain skills, gains confidence that make each of them naturally social by birth

d) Being with an adult dog (its mother) helps each puppy to get groomed up with special skill to resolve conflicts


Shyness caused by Social Deprivation

A German Shepherd puppy that is separated from his pack before at least 2 months does not learn adequate skill and confidence to handle a strange situation which they face from time to time.

Another reason why of dogs becoming fearful and unsocial even though they were picked after they reached two or two and a half months of age is Social Deprivation. Social deprivation during a puppy's grooming phase (early years) is commonest cause for the puppy (irrespective of breed, class and gender) growing into an unsocial adult. If they are kept away from the external world - enclosed in a hall or kept in a backyard where they hardly get to encounter with various sounds, situations, incidences, animals and people. Consequently, when they are brought to the world outside their enclosed territories, they get nervous and tend to shy away when people or animals approach them or they face situations that is strange to them. They begin to consider every single stranger or strange situation and incidence as a threat. Treating shyness caused by social deprivation can be tough and a time consuming process, and in worst cases sometimes fixing the problem seems impossible and requires serious intervention of professional canine behaviourists.

You have an immense responsibility, if you want to handle things by yourself. First off, always keep in touch with a knowledgeable professional who can guide you in this process. Establishing yourself as an alpha member is of prime importance. Once you've done that successfully, things will become much easier and controllable. You need to control the way your dog interacts with other people who are stranger to him and Vice versa. As soon as a person, who is unknown to your dog, approaches him he will shy away due to his normal instinct. Ask the person to ignore him totally and not to proceed further and touch him. Also the stranger should not make any eye-to-eye contact with him... means nothing that can make him feel unsecured. "Ignoring" him is the way you can make your dog feel that people who approach him do not have any wrong notion, and should not be considered as threat. And your dog will relax from within his mind. This is a training process (Socialization) and is not as simple as it reads here, rather needs a rigorous daily practice. It may take a few months to even a year to get your dog socialized with strangers. The key to the success story is to adopt a non-treacherous, docile and very thoughtful method to make him understand that the world beyond his territory is not a threat to him. For sure you will be glad to see one fine morning he will start coming closer to people. Let him sniff a new person. Even now it's not the right time to touch him! Discourage a person to touch your dog, even if your dog is smelling the person and exhibiting a slight wagging. "Slight wagging" (wagging with slight breaks or not in full swing) indicates that your dog still have confusion and doubts in his mind about strangers. He is yet to open up for a better interaction. Be patient!

Start Socializing Your Puppy at The Early Age

Some German Shepherd puppies are stubborn by birth and this trait gets instilled into them genetically from their parents. Pushing them to do something will never be fruitful. Although characteristics that are genetically influenced cannot be easily manipulated, yet a certain level of repetitive practice of socialization will definitely help. For instance, if he shows stubbornness and signs of attacking or misbehaving with other dogs and strangers in the park, consider taking things more seriously. Talk to your friends who have dogs with balanced mental configuration. Tell them that your dog is in a training session and you need their help. All you need to do is to go for walk together and in the process do force your dog to befriend them instantly. Notice your dog and keep in under strict control, so that he doesn't exhibit any kind of wrong behavior to strangers and other dogs. Let him feel that everyone in the pack (including the human) is trustworthy and he will gradually realize that going out with them will be safe. Doing this almost everyday, if possible, will make things easier and bring your dog in the main stream faster.

Socializing Your GSD Puppy With Sound

Socializing with sound is another important thing. Sometimes honking car, thunderclaps, or other noise may scare him. He may consequently exhibit sudden fear-behavior, and will try to get into a safer place. Don't try to comfort him instantly. Ignore it, and continue moving forward. Being the leader of the pack, guide him towards focusing more on his confidence, and walk forward, without giving a halt. Addressing to his nervousness will help in nothing, but his nervousness will be encouraged.

"Rehabilitation" is a word used for dogs that have not been properly socialized. Putting your German Shepherd puppy to a session of socialization will stimulate the five most important senses in him that can make him a balanced dog. "Socializing" your German Shepherd puppy is getting him introduced, exposed and desensitized to the five distinctive situations that include smells, sight, sounds, touch and feelings that he may come across in his day-to-day life.




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All you need to know about German Shepherd Dogs. Read out what I have to share with you regarding the amazing German Shepherd Dog breed. Are Alsatian dogs and German Shepherd Dogs same? Who was Max Von Stephanitz and What is SV? Also learn a bit more in depth on German Shepherd Dog training tips, German Shepherd puppy care tips, German Shepherd Dog behavior, German Shepherd instinct, German Shepherd Dog standard and history of German Shepherds.

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