Acupuncture for Dogs: What You Should Know

Acupuncture for Dogs

You might have heard of acupuncture in the context of treating humans, but did you know that acupuncture can have many benefits when used on dogs? Acupuncture is an alternative medicine practice that can help soothe a variety of ailments, notably arthritis and nerve pain.

When you love your dog, you’ll try anything to ease their pain. If you’ve been looking into alternative medicine practices and have stumbled upon acupuncture, don’t let the needles scare you away. When done by a professional acupuncturist, there’s usually nothing to worry about.

To learn more about what acupuncture is, what it can help treat, and what to expect during the procedure, keep reading!

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice where a trained administrator enters fine needles into specific points where nerves and blood vessels converge. These points are called acupuncture points; they’re believed to control the energy transmitted through a body. Much of traditional Chinese medicine is based on the idea that illness is caused by an imbalance of energies within your body.

When the fine needles are inserted into these points, they can help enhance blood circulation and promote healing capabilities. It stimulates the nervous system to release anti-inflammatory substances into the dog’s body to relieve pain. Research suggests that acupuncture could work by modulating the nerve pathways by interacting with nerve fibers in the skin. This activates a release of chemicals, many of which can help alleviate pain.

How Does It Help Dogs?

Acupuncture can help dogs the same way that it helps humans. The process of acupuncture and the outcome won’t be much different because it has the same function. It improves a dog’s blood flow, relaxes muscles, may limit how much pain medication they need, reduces the amount of waste product produced, and helps to increase the metabolic waste the body removes.

There are no real systemic side effects of using acupuncture as a treatment for your dog because it covers a more holistic approach. For dogs in poor health who could be at higher risk when undergoing certain surgeries or using certain medications, acupuncture might prove a suitable alternative.

Let’s review a few of the benefits associated with canine acupuncture.

Conditions Acupuncture May Help

Acupuncture can help soothe the symptoms of multiple conditions, including some of the following:

  • Arthritis: Dogs with arthritis and other joint diseases often experience chronic pain and stiffness. Acupuncture helps relax the muscles, rejuvenate the joints, and alleviate some of that pain.
  • Nerve pain: Acupuncture could help to alleviate discomfort from pinched nerves or slipped discs.
  • Cancer side effects: This treatment can help boost energy and even limit nausea, which can be a side effect of cancer or cancer treatment.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: This can work to soothe cases of diarrhea and other symptoms of stomach issues.
  • Surgery: Acupuncture can relieve anxiety and pain from surgery.

What Is the Acupuncture Process?

During a typical first acupuncture session, you’ll go over your dog’s overall health, any concerns you have, and what you’d like to focus on with the provider. The provider will conduct a physical exam and then decide what should be treated. Your next few sessions will be where needles are placed, and the treatment begins.

The veterinary acupuncturist will insert needles into specific areas of your dog’s body. Your dog is highly unlikely to even feel this happen and soon should relax as they begin to do their magic. The first session can take up to an hour, but the next few will be anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. Your vet will come up with a plan of how many sessions a week your dog could benefit from, and then you go from there.

For the most part, even the most nervous of dogs will relax after the needles have been inserted. It’s part of the benefit of acupuncture and often a sign that something is working.

Are There Side Effects?

Most people that want to bring their dog in for acupuncture treatment wonder if there’s anything that can truly go wrong. The most common side effects are soreness and mild bleeding. Sometimes you might notice a bruise at the sight of insertion, but this can easily heal up with some icing and rest.

Dogs with heart conditions, who may be pregnant, or have seizure disorders, should avoid doing electroacupuncture because they may have adverse reactions. Talk with your dog’s primary veterinarian before you begin any other treatments just to keep them updated and to get their opinion on things!

Alternative Methods Are Impactful!

Acupuncture is often where you end up when you’ve tried everything else in the book. Alternative medicine can be really impactful for dogs that have nowhere else to go, but ideally, it should be done in addition to regular veterinary treatment. It can be hard to navigate medical treatment for our pets, especially because they can’t communicate the exact problems that they are having.

Alongside acupuncture, your vet might recommend other alternative methods, such as massaging. If you think about how nice a massage feels for yourself, it’ll be easy to understand how your dog might benefit from it. Many of these alternative methods can be used in conjunction with each other, which can only promote the benefits that they have.

Similarly, some veterinarians may recommend your dog take herbal supplements in addition to their full care plan. Holistic treatments might not be enough to treat your pet, but when used in conjunction with other methods, we can provide our beloved four-legged friends with the best care possible.

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Ask Questions With AskVet

With something like acupuncture, you’re bound to have a variety of questions. Even after an acupuncture visit, you might be wondering if your dog is okay or if there are ways to monitor for any reaction. For these questions, you can speak with the experts at AskVet.

When you sign-up with AskVet, you can gain access to our team of veterinary experts and Certified Pet Coaches. Talk to our veterinary experts to discuss your dog’s issues and what you’re doing for treatment. They can offer advice and give you a better picture of what your dog is going through and the process of acupuncture.

If you’re looking to work towards improving your preventative care techniques and setting your dog up for success, AskVet has got you covered. Get started today to gain access to a variety of resources, use our vet chat 24/7, and join a community of pet parents who are all looking out for their pets.


Acupuncture | College of Veterinary Medicine | Purdue University

Effect Of Acupuncture On Pain And Quality Of Life In Canine Neurological And Musculoskeletal Diseases | NCBI

Evidence-Based Application of Acupuncture for Pain Management in Companion Animal Medicine | Veterinary Science

Effect Of A Single Acupuncture Treatment On Surgical Wound Healing In Dogs: A Randomized, Single Blinded, Controlled Pilot Study | Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica

Acupuncture in Veterinary Patients – Management and Nutrition | Merck Manual

Electroacupuncture – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics

Service Dog Training: A How-To Guide

Service Dog Training: A How-To Guide

Service dogs take the saying, “A man’s best friend,” to the next level. They are a necessary and essential part of many people’s lives, helping those with disabilities and medical conditions. In general, dogs are great workers and companions and can help lower stress levels, increase physical activity, and boost morale.

Training a dog to be a service dog takes hard work and lots of practice, but it is possible! Due to the high demand, there are some puppies that are born with service dog training in mind, so if you aren’t able to train your own, you can often find a service that matches you with an already-trained service dog.

To learn more about service dogs and how to train them to help you, keep reading!

What Is a Service Dog?

Service dogs are companions and helpers to people with disabilities, assisting them so that they can live more independent lives. A person’s service dog will be trained to perform specific tasks that help that individual with their daily life. The tasks that are taught to that dog are directly related to that person’s disability.

Common service dog tasks might be related to those who are blind or visually impaired, have difficulty hearing, have mobility issues, have psychiatric conditions, such as PTSD, or need to be notified about the onset of a medical issue such as low blood sugar or seizures. There are so many services that a service dog can provide!

Some types of service dogs are:

  • Psychiatric service dogs
  • Mobility service dogs
  • Visual impairment service dogs
  • Medical alert service dogs

Service dogs are considered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as working dogs and aren’t technically considered pets. This allows them public access to any environment or building and gives them certain protections against discrimination.

What Is Not a Service Dog?

Service animals are different from emotional support dogs and therapy dogs:

Service dogs are trained specifically to do at least two tasks to help with a disability. On the other hand, emotional support animals (ESAs) can be any type of animal, including rabbits and snakes. These animals might help us through a panic attack by silently supporting us, but only a service dog would know to offer trained responses like deep pressure therapy.

Therapy dogs are dogs trained to go into hospitals, libraries, schools, or other venues to offer emotional support to the people there. Typically, a therapy dog needs to pass a therapy dog test similar to the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.

Our canine companions improve our quality of life no matter what, and obedience training is always essential!

Common Service Dog Breeds

Any dog can be a service dog if they are able to complete the set of tasks they’re required to. There isn’t a requirement for your dog to be any certain breed, but you may want to consider what you need your dog to do before settling on a breed. For instance, smaller breeds may not be great for guide dogs or to help perform tasks requiring mobility assistance but could be fabulous alert dogs or something along those lines.

The three most common service dog breeds that you will come across are German Shepherd Dogs, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers. This is because these dogs are of good size and strength, are extremely intelligent and trainable, and bond deeply with their humans. They like to be given a task and are already protective of their humans to the point where they want to help them.

Other breeds that are known to make great service dogs are:

  • Poodles (Toy, Mini, and Standard)
  • Border Collie
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Pomeranians
  • American Staffordshire Terriers
  • English Setters

How To Find the Best Service Dog for You

Some people don’t have the ability or time to train their own service dog, and that’s okay! There are plenty of training programs out there that breed and train service dogs so that you don’t have to.

In these programs, the people training the dogs check to ensure they have a good temperament, are sociable, are in good health, and are trainable. Often, there are very long waiting lists for obtaining one of these already-trained service dogs.

When you adopt or go to a reputable breeder and are matched with a dog from one of these programs, your needs are taken into consideration, and you usually meet with the different dogs available first. This helps you to form connections with potential matches and see which one is the best fit.

Training Your Own Service Dog

Now, you may have a dog at home you love and want to make into your service dog. Maybe they already perform some basic obedience tasks for you, and you think they may be a strong candidate for training.

If that’s the case, you can give it a try! Especially if you already have a relationship and have built trust with this dog, it may make the training process easier and more fun.

1. Is Your Dog a Good Fit?

Before starting the training, be sure your dog is a good candidate for a service dog training program. Are they alert and easily trainable? Does your dog get distracted easily or too excitable?

Do they have any behavioral obstacles such as reactivity in public or have fear issues? Overall, what is your dog’s temperament, and have you witnessed them in a variety of different situations?

Not all dogs are meant to be service dogs, and that’s okay!

2. Go Through the Basics

When you’ve decided that your dog is ready, start with the basics. This can set the stage for how the rest of your training will go. If your pup picks up on tasks easily and shows signs of being interested, that’s a great sign. Future service dogs must be socialized with people and other dogs, as well as cats, if possible.

Ensuring that they can behave on the leash and walk without interruption or disruption is a sign that they will make for an attentive service companion. Additionally, they should be well-behaved off-leash and never run off or stray from your commands.

3. Test Their Attentiveness

The next step is practicing eye contact. You don’t want your dog to be easily distracted. Maintaining eye contact with you is a great sign for a successful service dog. Train them to keep their eye on you a lot of the time so that they don’t miss a command from you.

Practice this by bringing a bunch of different distractions to your dog. This could be another person, a dog, a couple of toys, and a really enticing treat. Work with your dog to ensure they know you are the most important thing to them, and only when you give them the command to go see the distraction are they allowed to.

4. Expose Them To New Places

Service dogs need to be exposed to new places so they don’t become easily overwhelmed. They need to learn how to adapt and stay focused no matter where they are. Bringing your dog to public places that you frequent is a good way of exposing them to new places and getting them comfortable. This way, they will be prepared when they arrive at a location they’ve been to before.

Service dogs in training are allowed in all the public spaces where fully-trained service dogs are. While the ADA grants service animals access, there are a few exceptions. For instance, some animal sanctuaries or zoos do not permit service animals to enter the premises or certain areas (like open-air topiaries or carnivore enclosures).

You could end up in any kind of environment; your dog should be prepared as well. That way, there are no surprises when you take your dog to a busy shopping mall or to a concert venue.

5. Determine Their Tasks

Lastly, when training a service dog, determine what tasks you’d benefit from. This knowledge helps you focus on specializing your dog’s abilities and making sure they perform tasks that are useful to you. If you are someone with a mobility disability, making sure your assistance dog can open doors, reach light switches, retrieve items, and assist you as you move around is essential.

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Training Your Dog With a Helping Paw

As you continue to train your service dog, you may find yourself coming up with questions you can’t answer. When you sign-up with AskVet, you gain access to Certified Pet Coaches who can provide you with support and advice on the training process. They can recommend certain resources to you that will be helpful and connect you with behaviorists that can help you understand your dog’s actions and responses.

Sign-up today for a virtual consultation about what AskVet can offer you. You’ll find that having this additional resource does wonders during your training sessions, so don’t wait another day!


How to Stay Healthy Around Pets and Other Animals | CDC

ADA Requirements: Service Animals | ADA

Enhancing the Selection and Performance of Working Dogs | Frontiers

Mobility And Medical Service Dogs: A Qualitative Analysis Of Expectations And Experiences | NCBI

How To Tell if Cats Are Playing or Fighting: 7 Signs 

How To Tell if Cats Are Playing or Fighting: 7 Signs

Sometimes determining if your cats are playing or fighting is not as easy as you’d think. You notice that they are getting a bit rough, and you aren’t sure if both of them are now playing the same game. Knowing your cats’ body language and how they get along can help you come to a pretty safe conclusion on what is going on, but it can take time to learn these things.

Especially if one or both cats are new to your house, you might be wondering if they’re truly getting along. Luckily, there are signs that your cats will give you to alert you and the other cat about how they feel about the situation. By understanding these signs, you can avoid further confrontation and keep both of your cats safe.

Keep reading to learn more about the difference between playing and fighting.

Watch Their Body Language

A cat’s body language will tell you everything you need to know about how they are feeling. Some people argue that trying to pick up on a cat’s feelings is more difficult than a dog’s, but cats can be very straightforward in displaying their emotions. This is what can help you to figure out if they’re still playing or if it’s shifted into a fight. You can better determine when your cats feel anxious if you understand their body language.

Cats playing can seem like they are fighting if you just look at how they are interacting with each other. There can be some biting, swatting, and tumbling around the house. However, cats that are play fighting will appear much more relaxed. They won’t be defending themselves in the same way as if they were fighting.

Play fighting is much more back-and-forth with breaks and relaxed breathing. The tension simply isn’t there when your cats are fighting, even if you are wondering if it is. The cats’ body language will also change as soon as it shifts into a real fight. You’ll notice they may make sounds that make it seem like your precious angel is trying to appear larger or intimidating.

Know How They Interact Normally

An easy way to better understand the difference between fighting and playing is by knowing what a normal interaction between your cats looks like. When first bringing a kitten or two home, you can’t always predict how they are going to get along. Take some time to figure out each cat’s behaviors and quirks to determine when they are enjoying themselves and showing signs of defensiveness or aggression.

Over time you will feel like you understand your cat by simply observing him for a couple of seconds. As your cats develop their own relationship, you will pick up on what is normal behavior and interactions between them. When things are off and your cats are stressed, you’ll know.

Signs Your Cats Are Playing

There are some signs that your cats will give to each other to show that they are playing. Fair play with a relaxed air is a marker of playtime. It helps each cat know what is acceptable to the other and what is crossing a boundary. As soon as a boundary has been crossed, your other cat’s behavior will shift and no longer display the same level of calmness.

The following signs are good when your two cats are going at it. Always monitor your cats’ interactions when you’re able to ensure they are getting along. Be sure to do this before ever allowing your cats to be alone for extended periods of time.

1. They’re Being Quiet

When cats play, they are generally quiet. You won’t hear so much as a peep unless one of your cats gets hurt or annoyed. They will chase each other all over the house, tackling one another and causing a ruckus, all while being virtually silent. You may hear the noise from their feet jumping around (or from the potted plant being knocked off the shelf!), but you won’t hear any vocalization.

Even as your cats bite at each other, they will remain very quiet. This indicates that they are picking up on each other’s signals and are getting along. Of course, if they’re too quiet, you might want to check on what those two little sneaks are up to …

2. They’re Taking Turns

Playing is also indicated by whether or not your cats are taking turns. Cats that are playing will usually launch an attack and then permit their playmate to attack back. They typically don’t “go at it” at the same time and allow each other to breathe and settle down.

This goes back to understanding each other’s signals. When cats take turns, they can gauge how their feline friend feels about the ongoing level of play. It’s a way for them to communicate their boundaries.

Sometimes cats will even groom each other in between play-fights which may seem odd, but it’s a true symbol of affection. You’ll see them licking each other one moment, then bouncing and rolling around the next.

3. They’re Gentle

Cats learn how to play as kittens with their littermates. During this time, they learn about body language and what’s considered too aggressive. In other words, they learn how to be gentle when they want to be. When they want to play, they know they have to be gentle or else it may not be reciprocated.

During playing sessions, your cat will have their claws retracted so that they do not hurt each other and will not bite down on each other. This kind of play is adorable and reminiscent of kittenhood, so it’s really just your cat showing off their youthful side.

4. They Relax Easily

Playing is also characterized by your cats’ ability to relax and calm down after going at it. If your cat is capable of stopping rather easily and settling down, this is a sign that they were simply playing. Your cat should not be out of breath or hissing after the play has stopped. Otherwise, this could be a sign that there is more to the situation.

Signs Your Cats Are Fighting

When your cats are fighting, the easiest way to be sure of it is to look at how their body language has changed. Some of the following changes are indicators that they are no longer enjoying the interaction.

5. Their Posture Is Tense

If your cats’ postures start to shift and tense up, they may be trying to signal that they are done with the interaction. If they puff up their fur, arch their back, stare deeply at each other, or begin to lean away from each other while hissing, they are not comfortable. They will also flatten their ears back and swish their tails back and forth as a warning.

They’re telling each other to back off and trying to make themselves bigger than their opponent. Try to diffuse the situation and separate the cats so they can calm down.

6. They’re Very Loud

Cats that are fighting will become loud. As soon as you hear your cats begin to hiss and growl at each other, sometimes even screaming, this is not a good sign.

Either one or both of the cats has entered into a defensive mode that could lead to aggression. They are still sizing each other up and using their voices as a way to appear larger and warn the other cat that they mean business.

7. They’re Swatting at Each Other

While cats may swat at each other from time to time, if both are doing so in a flailing and wild manner, it’s likely because they’re fighting. Swatting at each other in a flurry of paws and legs is aggressive behavior and should not be allowed. If your cats get into this kind of situation with each other, you need to separate them and consider chatting with an animal behaviorist.

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How To Make Things Better

Sometimes your cats need more time to adjust to each other and don’t want to be thrown into a situation of cohabitation just yet. You may need to give them more time and not force anything. Sometimes, speaking with Certified Pet Coaches from AskVet can help bring some calmness into your home.

When you sign-up with AskVet and chat with our Coaches, you can get advice on how to reintroduce your cats and ways to make them both comfortable. Whenever you have a question or concern come up, you can hop onto our vet chat and talk with a professional right away. Using AskVet can help ease your worries and keep the peace at home for years to come.


Recognising And Assessing Feline Emotions During The Consultation: History, Body Language And Behaviour | SAGE Journals

The Gaze Communications Between Dogs/Cats and Humans: Recent Research Review and Future Directions | NCBI

Conflict And Affiliative Behavior Frequency Between Cats In Multi-Cat Households: A Survey-Based Study | NCBI

Are These Cats Playing? A Closer Look At Social Play In Cats And Proposal For A Psychobiological Approach And Standard Terminology | NCBI

How To Manage Leash Reactivity in Your Dog

How To Manage Leash Reactivity in Your Dog

Do you dread taking your dog on walks because of how they behave while they are on their leash? Are you constantly rubbing your shoulders due to them pulling or lunging at other dogs that pass by?

These types of behaviors that your dog displays while on a leash is called leash reactivity, and it’s a common behavior challenge faced by many pet parents. These intense reactions can make walks stressful, challenging, and downright unworkable for both you and your dog.

These behaviors can be managed and improved, though. With proper understanding, training techniques, and patience, a peaceful and relaxing walk with your dog is on the horizon. Today we’ll chat about what you need to know about leash reactivity, ways to address the behaviors, and some practical strategies to help you address this behavior.

What Causes Leash Reactivity?

Think about all of the stimuli you experience on a walk. Cars pass by on the street, sometimes honking. People walk past; they may be talking on their phones or carrying a load of shopping bags. Birds are whistling; kids are playing; other dogs pass by, and not to mention all the smells that catch your attention (so imagine what your dog’s nose picks up).

Being outside can be overwhelming for your dog, especially if they are in a new place. All of these external stimuli can cause your dog to feel excited, frustrated, or even stressed. They may also feel restricted by their leash.

While we know the leash is there for their own safety, your dog may not feel that way as they feel overwhelmed by all the activity happening around them. They aren’t able to get away and are now being confronted by these triggers, resulting in leash reactivity.

Preparing for Success

The key to managing a dog’s leash reactivity is first identifying the stimuli that cause them to feel overwhelmed. If your dog begins to bark and lunge at other dogs, then it’s safe to say that other dogs trigger their leash reactivity. If your dog whines and tries to approach other people, then people are their trigger. Sometimes it can be a combination of both or something else entirely!

If your dog’s trigger is other dogs, avoid the dog park or places where others are taking their furry friends on their daily walks. If this can’t be avoided, try to put as much distance as possible between your dog and the others.

The same thought goes for crowded areas with other humans. If your dog reacts to other people, take your dog to less crowded spaces. While we often can’t resist a cute dog while out and about, you’ll sometimes have to advocate for your dog if another human approaches them.

One helpful trick is to let the other person know what your dog is in training. This’ll send the message that while you appreciate their love for dogs, you and your dog need some space.

You should see some improvement on walks if you are able to avoid your dog’s triggers. While this isn’t a feasible long-term plan, in the beginning, this will help with effectively managing your dog while on walks.

Positive Reinforcement Training 

Positive reinforcement training is very effective when training your dog, especially if they are food motivated. When utilizing this type of training, you’re giving your dog a reward (treat, praise, anything positive that your dog enjoys) to reinforce behaviors and create a positive relationship with something that your dog does.

You’ll want to keep this training in mind while working on managing your dog’s leash reactivity. If you know your best buddy’s favorite treat or toy, stock up on these to help training go more smoothly!

Loose Leash Walking

If you start to see an improvement when avoiding your dog’s triggers while on a walk, then it would be a great opportunity to teach your dog loose leash walking. This is another skill that will help make your walks more enjoyable.

Loose leash walking is when your dog walks calmly near you during walks, which results in a loose leash. This will result in no pulling, and your dog will pay more attention to you during walks. This will help later if they see any triggers that cause leash reactivity.

Reward your dog with treats when they walk nicely on a leash. If they begin to pull, immediately change direction. This will let your dog know that pulling will not get them what they want. Once they start to walk calmly again, offer them a treat. They will soon learn that walking next to you instead of in front of you and pulling will result in a tasty morsel.

Managing Walks and Encounters

As we mentioned earlier, avoiding your dog’s triggers isn’t a long-term plan. At some point, a dog will need to be exposed to their triggers, but you can give them opportunities to deal with these stressful moments in a controlled environment.

You’ll have to help manage their behavior and desensitize them to their triggers. In the future, when you and your dog have to face these stressful moments, you’ll be prepared.

Positive Reinforcement Is Key

This is where positive reinforcement comes in. You know your dog best, so you know if they enjoy treats, a pet, praise, or a toy. Keep those rewards on you and go on your walk. Whenever you see one of your dog’s triggers, don’t avoid it like you usually do. Keep walking as normal until your dog sees the other dog or person, and offer them a treat. If your dog still reacts or does not take the reward, it means you came too close to the trigger. Try again, but this time keep more space between yourself and the trigger.

This is where you want your dog to start making the connection that when they see another dog or person, they get a treat. This is the sweet spot where your dog starts to associate the trigger with treats. In their mind, this starts to turn the negative into a positive.

With consistent training and counter-conditioning, your dog’s triggers will elicit less of a reaction. This will take time and consistency on your part. With each training session, start to get a little closer to the triggers while giving your dog their treat and showing them that everything is okay.

Watch Your Dog’s Body Language

Watch your dog’s body language during all training sessions. Your dog may show signs that they are anxious but haven’t completely started to react. Look for raised ears, panting, lip licking, and whining.

When these behaviors increase, pull away from the situation to a calmer environment. You don’t want your dog to show their typical reactive behaviors like barking or pulling. You’ll have to constantly monitor your dog while walking so you can pivot and change direction if needed to help your dog feel more comfortable.

Note that if a dog has a history of biting or a risk of biting, ask your dog trainer if it would be safer for everyone involved (including the pup) if the dog wears a basket muzzle or similar safety device.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Remember that just because your dog shows leash reactivity, this doesn’t mean that they are a bad dog or can’t learn. There’s no such a thing as a bad dog anyway — everyone needs a little help now and then, including our dogs.

Sometimes, we need a bit more guidance in this area when our approaches aren’t working. Professional guidance can be very helpful, as these experts deal with these types of issues on a regular basis and have received special training.

AskVet can be your tool in helping minimize leash reactivity in your dog. For one, our Certified Pet Lifestyle Experts™ can help you better understand why dogs behave the way they do. This will allow you to be better equipped to handle your dog’s leash reactivity, especially if you have already tried other approaches.

Together, you’ll be able to come up with a personalized plan for your dog. Frequent check-ins will allow your expert to make changes as needed to better suit your pet. Think of these as lifestyle coaching sessions for your dog. Schedule a chat with a Certified Pet Coach and get started today.

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Walk in Sync With AskVet

Managing leash reactivity in your dog requires patience, consistent training, and a positive mindset. By understanding what causes leash reactivity, you can implement positive training techniques to effectively address and manage this behavior.

Progress may take time, and we’re here whenever you need any guidance. Remember to reach out to AskVet and schedule a virtual session whenever you have any behavioral questions. We’re here for your and your best furry pal every step of the way.

As a member of AskVet, you’ll also have access to a pet parent community so you can share and get advice on any pet topic you can think of. If you need a more personalized touch, our Certified Pet Lightstyle Experts™ can help to create a personalized pet plan for your dog.

Additionally, anytime you have any health-related questions, AskVet has veterinary experts on hand. They’ll let you know when it’s time to go to the vet or if there is anything you can do to help your furry friend be comfortable when they aren’t feeling their best.

Together with AskVet, you and your furry buddy will be able to walk in sync and enjoy peaceful walks together.


Positive reinforcement training | The Humane Society of the United States

Managing reactive behavior | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Anxious behavior: How to help your dog cope with unsettling situations | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Teach your dog to walk on a loose leash | Animal Humane Society

Dog Muzzles: When, Why, and How to Correctly Use Them | AKC

How To Train a Rescue or Shelter Dog

How To Train a Rescue or Shelter Dog

Becoming a pet parent to a rescue or shelter dog is a very rewarding experience. Not only are you saving a life, but you are also gaining a new friend and family member. While it may take a few weeks to a few months for you both to adjust to this new life together, before you know it, you’ll have a comfy-spot-stealing, shenanigan-starting, good-time-having best pal.

While this relationship doesn’t occur overnight, there are a few things you can do to establish a positive relationship with your new pal. By training your rescue or shelter dog, you’re giving them structure, routine, and building a lasting relationship that will be one of the most rewarding in both of your lives.

Understand Your Dog’s Background

One of the most critical aspects of understanding where to start the training process with your pooch is to understand their background. Your new dog may have experienced a not-so-positive start in life, whether it be neglect or abuse.

Like in people, this may affect a dog’s ability to trust or influence certain behaviors, so knowing what challenges may lay ahead will help you plan accordingly. Take all the notes you can from the rescue on the dog’s past (if they have them), the dog’s likes and dislikes, and everything else. By being patient and understanding, you can create a safe and supportive environment for them to thrive.

Establish a Consistent Routine

You want to start off on the right foot (or should we say paw?) when bringing your dog home. To maintain consistency, start your dog’s training the day that they come to their new home from the shelter.

This can be established quite successfully in the beginning by having a routine. Dogs absolutely love having a routine, and you can help make your new family member feel welcome in their new home by giving them some predictability in a new place.

One of the best ways to establish your dog’s routine is to feed them on a regular schedule in a consistent place. When you have a regular feeding schedule, your dog will likely start to be on a regular bathroom schedule. Getting your dog on a regular schedule can be a big help with their training. Many rescue dogs are already potty trained, but some might not be.

Give your dog a space of their own, whether it be a dog bed or a crate. Along with giving your dog a space of their own, it’s also equally important to set boundaries. This may include not allowing them to beg for morsels at the dinner table, lounging on the sofa, and using a baby gate to keep them out of certain rooms.

While you may want to show them extra love to make up for the time they spent in the shelter by letting them do as they wish, these will be difficult habits to break down the road.

Provide Opportunities for Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Just like humans, dogs need physical exercise to maintain their health. Not only does it help keep weight off, but your dog will get a chance to get outdoors and sniff to their heart’s content. They’ll be able to burn off excess energy and be less likely to get themselves into trouble when left alone. Going on walks with your dog also gives you extra time to bond, which is important in the early days.

We may we wish we could, but we can’t spend the entire day walking our dogs. This is where mental stimulation comes into play. Giving your dog puzzles and interactive toys helps to keep them engaged and keep their mind working, which is a perfect way to distract your dog while you are not actively interacting with them. Better to load a toy with treats than your dog to discover what a trash can is!

Both regular exercise and mental stimulation are important for your dog. Their physical health will benefit from getting outside and moving around, and their brain will get some well-deserved exercise by figuring out puzzles. This will come in handy when it comes to training your dog.

Prioritize Training

When it comes to training your rescue or shelter dog, assume that they are coming to your home not knowing any training or how to properly behave in your home, and you will be starting from the very beginning. Training your dog is a must so that your dog can function around other people and other dogs. This keeps them and everyone around them safe.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is the best way to instill skills in your dog. Whenever your dog exhibits a desired behavior, you give them a treat to enforce the behavior and let them know it is desired. Many dogs are highly food motivated, so they’ll be eager to figure out what to do to get another treat. Positive reinforcement is very effective, and your dog will be learning essential skills in no time.

1. Teach Your Dog Their Name

One of the first skills your dog will need to learn is their name. Anytime you say their name and they look at you, give them a treat. After a while, your dog will learn that anytime they hear their name, they’ll get something positive in return, whether that is a yummy morsel or a sweet scratch behind the ears.

2. Teach Your Dog To Sit

Next, teach your dog to sit. While your dog is standing, hold a treat over their head and slowly move it back over their head. This will make them look up, and they will sit on their bottom on the ground. As they do this, you can say ‘sit’ and give them a treat. Continue this behavior until you just say “sit,” and they do the action. Always reward them when they obey the command!

3. Adjust 

If you find that your rescue or shelter dog has come home with less than desirable behaviors, like jumping or chewing, redirect them to a positive behavior and then reward them. If your dog jumps on you when you first enter the door, ignore them. Once they stop jumping and engage in another behavior, present a treat.

If your dog is chewing an object you don’t want them to, give them an alternative toy. This will show your dog the items that they are allowed to gnaw on.

What To Know About Separation Anxiety

If your rescue or shelter dog had a less-than-positive past or even a well-meaning pet parent who didn’t work on training and surrendered their dog, you might see some behavior issues pop up. While this is not the only behavioral concern you could see with your pet, a very common behavioral concern in dogs is separation anxiety. This is completely understandable in rescue or shelter pets, especially if they were surrendered by their previous owners.

Separation anxiety occurs when your dog becomes upset that you are not home with them. Behaviors may include excessive chewing, barking and whining, and using the bathroom in the home. Your dog may start becoming clingy when they get the sense you are going to leave, often when you get your bag, grab your keys, or put your shoes on.

One key way to help this behavior is not to make a big deal when you leave or come home. Being calm lets your dog know that everything is normal. Taking your dog on a walk or leaving them with interactive toys prior to leaving gives them an outlet to get rid of excess energy. When your dog has been physically or mentally engaged, they are more likely to snooze when you are out of the house.

Seek Professional Help When Needed

Other behavioral concerns are fear and aggression. Your pup may have experienced fear while in the shelter since there is so much unknown, and this can come out as aggression when your dog feels stressed out. When it comes to addressing these behavioral concerns, working with an experienced dog trainer or expert can help with omitting unwanted behaviors.

When you are an AskVet member, getting in touch with a Certified Pet Lifestyle Coach is easy when you have behavioral concerns. You can sign up for a virtual session easily, and before you know it, you’ll be chatting with your Certified Pet Coach and coming up with an action plan that will help your pet live with you comfortably.

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Furever Love

Adopting a rescue or shelter pet is a remarkable decision, but it does come with responsibilities. It will take patience and understanding to help your new best pal overcome their past and develop into a well-adjusted and loving member of your family.

Becoming a member of AskVet gives you one-to-one support in managing your pet’s daily health and wellness — like having a life coach for your pet. You also have 24/7 vet support anytime you have a health-related question.

With AskVet, you can transform your new pal into a beloved family member in a wag of a tail. Join us today!


​​Why Your Dog Needs a Routine at Every Stage of Life | American Kennel Club

Benefits of Exercising with your Dog | VMBS News

Positive Reinforcement Dog Training: The Science Behind Operant Conditioning | American Kennel Club

Developing Diagnostic Frameworks in Veterinary Behavioral Medicine: Disambiguating Separation Related Problems in Dogs | Frontiers in Veterinary Science

Separation Anxiety | ASPCA

Dog Skin Cancer or Wart? How to Tell the Difference

Skin Cancer or Wart? How To Tell the Difference on Your Dog

One day you might be running your fingers along your dog’s body as you always do and come across something that piques your interest. Bumps and scratches can appear on your dog without you knowing how, so they might stand out on their otherwise smooth skin. When you first come across a bump, your first instinct is going to be to grab your flashlight and look closely at it.

Don’t freak yourself out by assuming the worst. Warts can be a common and harmless thing for your pet to have on their bodies. There are key symptoms that you can look for when inspecting these warts to infer if they might be more than just your everyday wart.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between skin cancer and regular warts so that you can provide your dog with emergency medical attention if needed.

Coming Across Something Suspicious

The first time you notice a wart on your dog, it will definitely spook you. You might find yourself snatching your hand away at the idea of a foreign object being on your dog: Is it a tick? A scab? You’ll have to find out for yourself by inspecting it further.

What you are noticing could very likely be benign, but being on the lookout for any abnormality means you are being a good pet parent. It also means that if it is cancerous or life-threatening for any reason, early diagnosis and intervention can improve your pet’s health and wellness.

Not all warts require a trip to the vet, but it can be helpful when you are able to distinguish between regular warts and abnormal lumps. If you think that you are coming across something abnormal, it’s best to set up an appointment with your vet immediately to get further testing done.

Are All Dog Warts Cancerous?

Not all warts that you come across are going to be cancerous. A good majority of them will be nothing more than a regular wart, and you won’t have to worry yourself sick about your pet’s health. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the wart checked out, though – mainly for your peace of mind.

If you want to determine what the growth on your dog is and if it’s a cancerous lump, you will need to get it examined and tested by your veterinarian. Once testing is done to determine what kind of bump your dog has got, necessary treatment can begin. If it’s a benign wart on your dog, your vet might still remove it, but otherwise, your pup should be in the clear.

Benign Warts on Dogs

Warts are small and round bumps that form on top of your dog’s skin. They usually range from a dark brown to a black color and might be flat or raised. It varies for each wart, but these traits don’t mean that they are more likely to be cancerous or not.

It’s very rare for a wart to become cancerous over time, but it is possible if they grow deep into the layers of skin beneath them. Warts form due to a contagious virus to other dogs, though they are rarely life-threatening. Even if not dangerous, your pup might find these warts annoying and uncomfortable.

Cancerous Warts on Dogs

Cancerous warts on dogs will look pretty different from normal warts. They might be large and abnormal in shape. Cancerous warts also will have a bumpier feel to them and might grow at a rapid rate. If you monitor your dog’s warts closely, you are more likely to notice if any moles change.

While you should always consult your veterinarian if you notice a mole, these are of particular concern:

Lumps that grow faster than others

Lumps that do not go away

Lumps that change color or texture

Lumps that are abnormally shaped

Your vet will likely take samples and send them to a lab for further testing if they suspect something is wrong with the wart. They will also ask about any changes in behavior or symptoms that your dog has experienced recently.

If the tests come back with undesirable news, your vet will then come up with a treatment plan for your dog’s specific cancer type and needs. These results will also help determine how far it might have spread.

Should You Remove Your Dog’s Warts?

Not all warts will need to be removed, but your vet might suggest surgery for some. Ultimately it comes down to their evaluation of the wart: How big is it, where is it, and is it causing discomfort to the pet?

Warts can appear anywhere on your dog’s body, and some may cause your dog more discomfort than others. Papillomas are caused by a virus and can come in multiples or just one. All cases are different, but they can usually be treated. Some might not be a bother to your dog, and therefore, a vet might not recommend removing them.

If your vet notices a suspicious-looking wart, they might recommend its removal. Potential options include (but aren’t limited to) having the wart frozen off with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery) or removal with a scalpel.

Vets offer surgery to remove warts or be frozen off with liquid nitrogen, and they will go over the best options for your dog with you.

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How Much Will Dog Wart Removal Cost?

The cost of wart removal for dogs depends on a few different factors. All vet offices will have different prices based on the office’s size, the wart sizes, how many there are, and what kind of anesthetic is needed to be used. Your vet might charge you a flat fee for everything or charge you per lesion. Before you make any decision, your vet’s office will go over all of your options.

Typically, people can spend anywhere from $150 to $1,000 on removing their dog’s warts. If your dog has multiple warts that you wish to remove, the total cost of the visit might be on the higher end than if you were to remove just one. There might be payment plans available at your vet, so be sure to ask.

Ask and Answer: Help Is Here

When you find a new wart (or your first) on your dog, you might want to panic, but it’s best to remain calm.

If you want answers and guidance fast, consider signing up with AskVet. You can get connected with a veterinary professional whenever a question arises. Yes, that means 24/7!

You can join a live chat session where you go over your pet’s symptoms or concerns. Whoever you speak with will guide you through some steps to try to distinguish if the wart you are seeing is benign or abnormal. They can provide you with advice on whether or not to seek further veterinary assistance.

When you join, you can even come up with different behavioral and treatment plans to improve your pet’s health and wellness. You shouldn’t feel alone when you are concerned about your dog, but you don’t always have access to your vet’s office. With AskVet, you don’t have to worry about waiting for answers. Schedule a session with a CPLC™ so you can get back to that game of fetch with your furry best friend.


Current Status of Canine Melanoma Diagnosis and Therapy: Report From a Colloquium on Canine Melanoma Organized by ABROVET (Brazilian Association of Veterinary Oncology) | Frontiers in Veterinary Science

Characterization Of Canine Oral Papillomavirus By Histopathological And Genetic Analysis In Korea | NCBI

5 Types Of Skin Cancer In Dogs | NC State Veterinary Hospital 

Benign Skin Masses of Dogs | MSPCA-Angell

Why Does My Cat Randomly Bite Me: 4 Common Reasons

Gray cat with green eyes biting owner's hand

Many loving cat owners have been bitten, sometimes even ambushed, by their favorite felines, only to ask, “why does my cat randomly bite me?” This may have happened while you were walking by your kitty in the hallway, or during a petting and purring session, or seemingly out of the blue.

The truth is that, when someone suffers a cat bite, there is nothing “random” about it—the cat is trying to communicate that something is distressing them. Cats have limited ways to “talk” with their owners, and almost all of that communication is through the cat’s body language. Biting is one tool in the kitty toolbox that tells their person, “hey! I need some help over here!”

If you’ve noticed that your previously placid kitten is suddenly biting family members, seeing your local vet should be the first item on your to-do list. One of the most common reasons cats bite is because they are painful or physically uncomfortable somewhere. Your veterinarian can check for signs of an ear infection, painful dental disease, back pain, arthritis, belly pain, and uncomfortable skin conditions. They may recommend bloodwork to evaluate your kitty for hormone problems, and even screening him for high blood pressure if there has been a sudden change in his behavior.

Once medical ailments have been addressed or ruled out, it’s time to really focus on what might be causing your cat to bite.

1. Understanding Playful Biting in Cats

The most common reason that cats bite their owners isn’t that they have an aggressive cat, it’s because they are trying to play! While sharp teeth or claws may not feel very “playful” to you, hunting behavior equals play behavior for your kitty. This means stalking, pouncing, biting, and kicking.

If you have raised your cat since kittenhood, you may have made the mistake of using your hands as targets of play. Waving your hands in front of your kitten’s face, offering your fingers up so their tiny mouths can “munch” on your hand, and similar games teach your growing kitten that hands and human bodies are playthings. This translates to their behavior as adults—when playtime is just as important to them, but their teeth are sharper, and their jaws are stronger!

To re-train your cat that human body parts are NOT meant for chomping, offer them appropriate choices. Have cat toys placed strategically in the living areas of your home. If your cat tries to bite your hands or pounces on your feet, immediately grab the cat toy and use it to redirect your cat’s behavior. Over time, they will learn that toys—not feet or fingers—are a whole lot more fun to play with!

If you don’t have an appropriate cat toy within reach when they start to chomp down on you, simply stand up and walk away from your cat to find one. Keep things calm, so you don’t excite them further—and do not punish your cat, as this can make them more aroused and associate negative emotions with you—exactly what we don’t want!

2. Dealing with Redirected Aggression in Your Feline Friend

This is one of the most common reasons that cats bite their owners. The term “redirected aggression” refers to a cat’s natural instinct to pounce/attack being thwarted and unable to be exercised on the true object of their angst….and then redirected to a convenient target (aka, you!).

Picture this: your cat is staring out the window, watching a neighborhood kitty stroll around in front of your house. Your cat’s tail is twitching, their ears are flattening, they are leaning forward, and possibly growling. You walk over to see what’s got your kitty so focused—or just happen to walk into the room—and your cat suddenly attacks you with teeth and claws. OUCH!

If this sounds familiar, you have been a victim of redirected aggression from your kitty. When your cat is stressed by something or someone, all of that frustration builds up inside—like pressure in a teapot—and eventually, that frustration needs somewhere to go! Unfortunately, that means that the closest moving object is likely to experience kitty’s wrath, and more often than not, it’s you.

While seeing “stranger” cats through the window is a common trigger for redirected aggression, we can see these behaviors in cats any time their frustrations build at an unattainable target. If another human (usually a child!) is bothering your cat, and the cat gets punished for establishing their boundaries by lashing out—then YOU are the most likely target for that pent-up frustration the next time you walk by your kitty.

So, what can you do? If you can look out for these signs of stress in cats and identify the source, then helping them avoid it can short-circuit this process completely. In our example of staring at a neighborhood cat out the window, avoidance can mean lowering the blinds, removing any cat window seats from the area, or placing ultrasonic “cat deterrent” devices on your property. All of these can keep your house cat from getting riled up by seeing someone come into their “territory.” If the problem is more inside of the home, it may take retraining your cats to get along, or teaching humans in the house to stop antagonizing the cat.

As always, plenty of playtime with your cat’s favorite toys is essential for creating those positive endorphins, tiring out your kitty, and giving him an outlet for those hunting and predatory behaviors in a safe and playful way.

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3. Preventing Petting-Induced Aggression in Cats

“I was having a petting session with my cat, and she was purring…and then WHAM! Out of nowhere, she bit me!” Another common cause of cat biting is petting-induced aggression. We all know that cats are very particular about most things—their bathroom, their food, their toys…and of course, those personal preferences extend to their bodies!

When an adult cat is biting while being petted, it’s a way for the cat to tell you, “I don’t like that.” It could be that your cat likes to be pet in some places more than others, or pet more in short strokes rather than long whole-body pets, or only for short periods of time.

Since cats tend to groom each other around the face and neck, cats usually prefer for their humans to focus on these areas, too. While your cat might like short pets around the ear, cheeks, and chin, they might be uncomfortable with petting near their tail, on their belly, or even along their back. Pay attention to the signals your kitty is sending you—if her ears start to flatten, she stops purring, or her tail starts flicking—take your hand away and see if she relaxes again. It’s up to humans to understand what our cats are trying to tell us—and just like people, every cat has certain body parts that are “off-limits.”

While we humans LOVE scratching and petting our kitty companions and consider it an expression of love and affection, keep in mind that long strokes tend to build up energy within your cat. By petting down the length of their body over and over, you may be winding your cat up with excess stimulation that needs to come out—and that outlet is usually through biting or running away. If we continue to ignore what our cats are telling us, they may preemptively try to bite us if they feel like we are going to engage in an unwanted behavior—and so we may see a cat “randomly” pounce on our feet or attack our legs as we walk by. In some cats, this sudden aggression is merely a protective strike, meant to prevent previously unwanted stimulation.

If your cat seems to have a low tolerance for petting and runs away after a few strokes, or starts to bite after a couple of pets, then our choices as humans are simple: either acknowledge your cat’s boundaries and accept them, or try to build a positive feeling when your cat is being petted. You can do the latter by feeding your cat super yummy treats or canned food and petting them briefly while they enjoy—the whole goal is to make receiving pets a positive experience for your cat.

4. Speaking Your Kitty’s Language

By now, you can see that when your cat bites you, it is almost never truly “random”—they usually have a reason for doing so, and it’s up to us kitty caretakers to understand what our cats are telling us! If you have tried identifying any triggers outlined here and are unsuccessful in figuring out why your cat is biting you, then you may need to see a board-certified veterinary behaviorist to evaluate your kitty for a true mental health problem.

Our AskVet Veterinarians are available to discuss all of your pet’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether it’s learning how to calm down a cat or understanding why a cat is pooping outside the litter box, just sign into your account and one of our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary experts will attend to your needs, no appointment required. Chat with an online veterinarian at AskVet today!

Written by:

Allison Ward, DVM
Dr. Allison Ward grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and started working in veterinary hospitals when she was 14 years old. After graduating from veterinary school in 2011, she completed a small animal rotating internship in New Jersey, followed by a neurology/neurosurgery internship in Miami. After completing this advanced training, Dr. Ward then moved on to general small animal practice. Dr. Ward’s professional interests include feline medicine, neurology, and pain management. Her passion for educating pet owners carries over into her work with AskVet, and she loves being able to help pets and their parents at all times of the day (and night!). She currently resides in sunny south Florida with her two cats, Larry and George.

How To Greet a Dog (and How Not To)

How To Greet a Dog (and How Not To)

Every dog that you come across will be different. How you might greet your own dog or a dog you know will likely differ from how you greet an unknown pooch. When greeting a dog, the goal is to create a calm environment that minimizes the risk of excessive barking, nervousness, or even aggression from the dog.

The best thing to do is learn more about canine body language to better understand if a dog is enjoying your greeting or wishes to disengage. This can help prevent any harmful interactions between you and the dog.

To learn more about the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of how to greet dogs, keep reading!

What To Do When Greeting a Dog

Whether you see an unfamiliar dog approaching you on-leash or you are being introduced to your friend’s dog inside of their house, there are things that can help ensure the meeting is relaxed and positive.

For starters, whoever is handling the dog will likely inform you of the best way to greet that specific dog. They might have some specific needs or considerations to keep in mind based on Fido’s history or what their dog trainer recommends.

Listen to what their human parents have to say to succeed in making a new canine friend. If you yourself have a shy dog who you want to introduce to the world, check in with AskVet’s dog training resources for tips and tricks.

In general, there are a few things to do when meeting a new dog that will help you gauge how the interaction is going. Dogs have very specific body language signals that they send out to let people and other animals know how they are feeling. Once you’re able to pick up on some of these signals, meeting a new dog becomes a lot easier.

Ask First

While this one might seem obvious, ask first so you don’t infringe upon a dog’s personal space.

It’s very important to teach this lesson to children as they approach dogs, especially since many dogs who haven’t seen babies don’t understand what these tiny humans are (which naturally makes them nervous). You can’t run up to a dog or advance towards them head-on without asking their human, as it could seriously startle the dog, causing an adverse reaction.

This is the easiest way to keep you safe, as that dog’s human might tell you that they aren’t interested in being approached. But don’t worry: There are plenty of other dogs in the world that will want to be pet!

Let Them Come to You

If their human does say that you can greet the dog (hooray!), allow the dog to come over to you. Crouch down to let the dog come over near you. For a shy or anxious dog, this helps them recognize that you’re not a threat. You don’t want to move too quickly towards them, as that might cause them to jump back or become reactive or protective.

If the dog sniffs you and decides to distance themselves from you, they are making it clear that they are looking for some personal space. Encouraging them with a treat can help, but make sure you are tossing it to the dog — you don’t want them to come to you because they want the treat and realize they accidently are closer to you than they are comfortable with. Give them time to come around to you, and you’ll see the greatest results.

Remain Calm

You don’t want to wind the dog up and make them act out, so try to remain calm during the interaction. Speak with a low voice, and don’t make any sudden movements.

Behave as you normally would and continue conversing with their human so they can get used to the sound of your voice. While the pup’s family members might be able to greet them with a high-energy hello (perhaps with some zoomie-activating running), strangers don’t quite have this privilege.

Use Caution

When everything seems to be going well, you can attempt to pet the dog. It’s advised that you pet the dog on their chest, side of the face, neck, or back rather than over the top of their head.

These positions are more neutral and don’t have your hand hovering over their face. If you happen to notice any signs of stress or agitation with the dog, slowly remove your hand from their space.

Caution is exceedingly important when it comes to approaching a lost dog. Go slowly, talk calmly and softly — you can even hold a treat or two. For a lost dog approach, never run or chase.

While deep down, we feel that strange dogs are simply friends we haven’t met yet, safety needs to come first. If it’s not safe to capture and contain this lost pup, call animal control or similar who knows better how to deal with a potentially aggressive dog in a safe (yet loving) manner.

What Not To Do When Greeting a Dog

Even more important than what you should do is what you shouldn’t do when meeting a dog for the first time. There are certain actions and behaviors to avoid doing to enhance your chances of success.

Certain human behaviors can make a dog anxious, so we will want to avoid them when being introduced to a new dog. Additionally, if the dog’s human asks you not to do something specific, listen to them — they know their dog best, after all.

Avoid Making Eye Contact

Direct eye contact with a dog can be perceived as threatening, so you want to avoid it at all costs. Specifically, prolonged eye contact can come across as a challenge. It’s okay to catch a dog’s eye, of course, but keep your face soft and demeanor friendly and light so that they don’t get the wrong impression.

Even though you aren’t gazing lovingly into their eyes (yet), monitor their body language. A wagging tail isn’t always a sign of happiness. A low, slow wag could indicate fear or apprehension.

Don’t Force an Interaction

If the dog that you’re greeting does not want to be petted, do not pet them. It can be hard as a dog person not to love on every dog we meet, but it’s simply manners.

Don’t force a dog into a situation that they are not approving. This includes grabbing, petting, hugging, patting, booping their nose, or trying to play with them. If the dog shows anxious or avoidant behavior, this could be a sign you might be crossing a boundary.

Don’t go for a dog’s face or a dog’s head as the first thing to touch. This is not often welcomed by most dogs, and you could be putting yourself at risk for a dog bite.

Don’t Yell or Become Overly Excited

The decorum for meeting strangers is similar, whether it be human or dog.

Just imagine that someone comes into your space and begins jumping around and yelling and making loud noises. Not only would that be irritating and scary, but it would be overwhelming. A dog doesn’t want this, either.

Dogs are sensitive to noise; an outburst being directed at them is very intimidating. The response to an act like this might be to pull away from you or look for something to hide behind.

Don’t Tower Over Them

The optimal position to be in when greeting a dog is a crouched position at the dog’s level with your back turned slightly away from them. If you approach a dog and tower over them, they may cower and become anxious about what your next movement will be.

Dogs don’t like when objects or hands come over the tops of their heads, in what’s referred to as “overhead dread.” They can’t anticipate what’s happening if they’re being approached from above. Give them a clear line of sight and an indication of what your actions will be.

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AskVet Has Answers

Maybe your dog is struggling with greetings, or you’re trying to encourage family and friends to behave more cautiously around your dog. Whatever the case may be, AskVet is here to answer all of your questions. Not only do our Certified Pet Coaches have training resources and guides to promote a healthy and helpful life, but you can chat with someone at any point of the day to get answers.

Sign-up today for a virtual session where we can learn more about your dog and their personal needs before coming up with a plan to improve their overall well-being!


Communication in Dogs | NCBI

Canine Olfaction: Physiology, Behavior, and Possibilities for Practical Applications | NCBI

Eye Contact Is Crucial for Referential Communication in Pet Dogs | NCBI

Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails? | American Kennel Club

Introducing Your Dog to Your Baby | Mallard Creek Animal Hospital

Dog bite prevention | American Veterinary Medical Association

If You Find a Lost Pet | American Humane Society

Service Dog Commands You Should Know

Service Dog Commands You Should Know

Whether you are training your own service dog or are simply interested in learning about the process, many basic obedience commands are part of this intensive training process. Even if you’re not looking for a service animal, it’s essential to teach dogs how to behave at home and out in public.

Even better, having an understanding of the tasks of service dogs may come in handy if you ever come across a service dog actively working. Most service dogs will undergo specific training starting when they are puppies to help train them to perform specific tasks and to help with specific disabilities.

Keep in mind that there are several differences between emotional support animals and service animals. Emotional support animals can be any type of animal, but they are not granted the same public access by the ADA. Essentially, your service dog can go to the movie theater or grocery store with you, but your emotional support dog cannot. Service dogs are working dogs, and interfering with one can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the action.

Be wary of any site that offers you a certificate or ID for an ESA/Service dog. These are scams — any dog trainer worth their salt could tell you that there is no certification process or ID necessary.

Service dog training never truly ends. As you age and change with your dog, new needs might come about that require assistance. It’s a never-ending process that helps build trust and a special bond between the handler and the dog. To learn more about different service dog commands that you should know, keep reading!

Which Breeds Can Be Service Dogs?

Any dog can be a service dog. It’s true that you’ll likely find intelligent, trainable breeds like the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, and Labrador Retriever to be likely candidates, but don’t judge a book by its cover. While small service dogs might not be amazing at closing doors, they could do other tasks such as sniff out their human’s low blood sugar, warning them of an attack before it happens.

What Are the Different Types of Service Dogs?

The main types of service dogs are:

  • Psychiatric service dogs
  • Mobility assistance dogs
  • Guide dogs
  •  Hearing dogs

Service dogs can help people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, mobility difficulties, seizure disorders, mental health struggles, and so much more.

What Do Service Dogs Do?

These dogs learn a set of tasks to help make their human’s life more comfortable and overall easier. Service dogs help to foster a sense of independence in their human, which can boost their confidence and make everyday life easier and better.

Service dogs can be trained to help open doors, turn on and off lights, safely guide people across busy streets, navigate their ways through unknown environments, and monitor heart rates or blood pressure. These dogs can even warn their humans if they are going to experience an episode related to their medical condition.

For example, some service dogs alert people with PTSD to an anxiety attack. During a panic attack or flashback, these dogs are trained to perform specific tasks, like deep pressure therapy. Unlike emotional support dogs, who can cheer you up, service animals go through specific obedience training to perform these tasks either on command or independently based on an involuntary response in their person.

We know that dogs are intuitive, and service dogs hone in on this ability to read their human and provide the care that they need.

The Three Goals of Training Sessions

Most service dogs have to start their training as puppies. There are programs out there that specifically train puppies with the intention of them going on to become someone’s sidekick. If you’re looking to train your own dog to help you with specific tasks, you have to be sure that their temperament will help them to be successful.

The three main goals of training a service animal are:

  1. Socialization is important with people, other animals, and in different environments. This helps desensitize them from their surroundings so they can take care of the task at hand.
  2. Build trust. You are going to be a partnership that relies on each other to be successful. This kind of training requires an intense amount of determination and commitment in order to get the results you want.
  3. Teach basic commands and manners. Dogs need to be taught what behaviors are desirable for their specific task in order to do them correctly. They also need to remain calm and be able to perform basic functions when out-and-about.

Basic Commands To Teach a Service Dog

Take Time To Learn

As you build up the trust between you and your dog, there are basic service dog commands to work on. Some of the following are recommended to teach them before working toward any advanced commands.

Don’t move on too quickly before your dog has gotten the hang of each command they’re taught. Practice these commands in public and private so they can learn to ignore the stimulation going on around them.

The Basics

  • Name: They need to be able to respond to their name, so this should be the first thing that you work on with your dog.
  • Sit: Your dog will need to learn how to sit calmly when out in public, so this will be one of their most commonly used commands.
  • Down: Similarly to sit, they will need to be calm and lay down for possibly extended periods of time.
  • Stand: When you’re done with down and ready to continue on, the stand command teaches your dog it’s time to get moving again.
  • Come: This will get your dog to come directly to your side and wait for the next direction.
  • Stay: This can come in handy out in public if you need to direct your own attention to something else for a second and need your dog to be still.
  • Heel: This tells your dog to stay directly by your side and walk at the same pace as you.
  • Potty: This lets your dog know they should go to the bathroom since it might be a while before they get the chance again.

Adjustment Commands

  • Careful/Gentle: This tells your dog to continue with their task but at a more gentle speed and energy.
  • Quiet: Service dogs should not make any sound unless they are prompted to by a task or to warn you of something. This command helps to stop them from making unwarranted noises.
  • Leave It: This will tell your dog to stop touching something you don’t want them to.
  • No: This will tell your dog that they are behaving in a way that is incorrect.
  • Settle: if your dog is becoming anxious or excited, this can tell them that it’s not the time and they need to relax.

Direction Commands

  • Follow: This will tell your dog to follow behind you and not on the side or out in front.
  • Go Around: If there is an obstacle in the way, this directs the dog to move around it.
  • Closer: If your dog is retrieving items for you, this can be helpful to tell them to bring it a bit closer so you can reach it.
  • Go To: Followed by a name or location, this tells the dog to go directly over to a person or into a specific room or spot in the house (like a kennel or crate).
  • Under: When out in public, whether at a restaurant or entertainment show, the under command can help to move your dog out of the way of other people and place them underneath your chair or under a table.
  • Left Side/Right Side: This tells your dog where to stand in relation to you.

Focus-Up Commands

  • Watch Me: This will get your dog’s attention, especially in moments when there is a lot going on around you, and you need their attention.
  • Let’s Go: This shows your dog that you are both ready to move.
  • Release: This command will signal to your dog that they can break command or that you are done with work for the day.

Advanced commands will be more specific to what you are training your dog for. If you are training them to be a medical assistance dog, you might teach them ways to alert you to an episode, how to get the attention of a nearby person for help, or to bring you specific medications that are needed. Each dog’s training will begin to look different once they’ve mastered the basics.

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Get Answers with AskVet

Training your dog to be a service dog might take several years to complete, so questions are bound to arise throughout the process. When you sign-up with AskVet, you can talk with our Certified Pet Coaches about concerns you may have or questions that you want answered.

AskVet provides you with around-the-clock access to animal behaviorists and professionals that can help make the service dog task training process a bit easier. Don’t wait, and hop on a virtual session with us today!


Selecting Quality Service Dogs | NCBI

Mobility And Medical Service Dogs: A Qualitative Analysis Of Expectations And Experiences | NCBI

Professionally- and Self-Trained Service Dogs: Benefits and Challenges for Partners With Disabilities | Frontiers

Socializing Effects of Service Dogs for People with Disabilities | Research Gate

Interfering with dog guide or service animal | Washington State Legislature

Types of Services Dogs & What They Are Used For | UDS

How To Introduce a Cat to a Dog the Right Way

How To Introduce a Cat to a Dog the Right Way

For many, bringing a new cat into the home is exciting but, at the same time, can also be anxiety-inducing. When there are other resident pets that live in your home, take into consideration how they might respond to sharing their space. Cats and dogs are capable of living happily together, but it takes getting used to having another animal in the house before you start seeing the benefits.

When you bring a new kitten or cat into a home with a dog (or dogs) that already resides there, take some precautions before the introduction happens. You’re trying to create a space that is inviting and safe for your new pet without overturning everything your dog has ever known. As a pet parent, the main goal is for your animals to be healthy and happy, so we recommend taking this introduction seriously.

To learn more about some of the best practices to use when doing introductions between your new cat and your resident dog for the first time, keep reading.

Consider Both Pet’s Personalities

You’ve probably been considering bringing home a new cat for quite some time. Getting an animal is rarely an “on-a-whim” decision, so that means that you’ve done some thinking about if your dog is even capable of this new relationship.

You know your dog best, and you might have an idea of if they could live with a cat or not. It’s important to determine if your dog is able to live with a cat before going through the process of adopting.

For example, some dogs have a higher prey drive than others, making smaller animals an easy target. If your dog is one that gets overly excited and has a keen eye for hunting, you might want to reconsider getting a new cat or spend more time working on your dog’s drive and impulse control.

The last thing anyone wants to do is bring a new cat into the home, knowing that their dog’s personality might be too big for it. (While dog breed type can affect prey drive, it’s not a hard and fast rule.)

If you think that your dog would match up nicely with a cat, it would be helpful to seek out cats that have lived with dogs before. Even a kitten, who has no past trauma related to dogs would be ideal, as they are somewhat of a blank slate. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but it might help to have a more calm and anticlimactic introduction.

How To Introduce a Cat to a Dog

Introducing cats to a resident dog doesn’t always go as planned right away. It can take several days to several weeks for a new cat to warm up to your dog, and vice versa. They’ll need time to adjust. Don’t jump right in by throwing them in a room together; this could be a potentially dangerous first meeting, not to mention stressful for both animals.

By taking your time and going through specific interactions, you can get an understanding of how the two animals will react to one another. These initial stages can give you a good read on their body language and if they are taking to the new friend well or are labeling them an enemy.

Keep Them Apart

Before bringing a new cat into your house, establish a separate room set up for your cat to stay in. Have their litter box, toys, some food, water, a bed, and cat furniture in one room of your house so that they get used to the new space before having to get used to a new animal.

Have both animals eat on one side of the door. This will get them used to the new pet’s smell while doing something enjoyable. If the door-closed hello goes well, try an augmented face-to-face introduction through a baby gate.

Don’t rush into introducing them before either of them are ready; this situation can be overwhelming.

Swap Scents

Once the new cat has spent some time getting their scent on some of the items in the room, take out a toy or blanket of theirs and swap it with one of your dog’s. Have both your dog and new cat spend time with each other’s toys so that they can begin to get used to each other’s scents.

Dogs heavily rely on their sense of smell, and this will prepare them for their new sibling. You can even rub your cat and dog with two different towels and place the towel under their bowls while they eat, again, to build a positive association.

If you have multiple animals in the house, like another dog or even another cat, swap scents with each of them and your new cat. This way, all of your animals can get used to the new animal’s scent, and your new cat can have a better understanding of how many other animals are in the house.

Independent Exploration

The next step is to allow your new cat to explore the rest of the house without interruption for your dog. Take your dog into the room where your cat has been and let them smell the cat’s space as your cat explores.

Give your cat ample time to check out all the rooms, nooks, and crannies. This is their time to become familiar with their new space without having other animals in their face.

Swapping rooms and allowing for some independent exploration will give both of your pets the ability to become accustomed to the other’s scent without the pressure of seeing each other face-to-face.

Leashed and/or Gradual Intros

Once they’ve had time to settle in, your new cat might be itching to get out of their confined room, and your dog is probably wondering who the new scent is coming from. The best thing to do is leash your dog and have your cat in some sort of crate/kennel. Allow your dog to go up to the crate and smell the new cat, but then have your dog step away and sit or lay down.

After a few minutes, let your cat out of the crate with your dog still on leash. Your cat can then take their time to come up and sniff the dog. It might not happen right away; don’t force the interaction.

Baby Gate/Separate Room Intros

Remember, you know your pet best. Your new puppy or new cat might have a better first introduction through a baby gate in separate rooms. This allows the cat to have a safe space as well as an escape route if they decide puppies aren’t for them. The new/resident cat can have a large room set up with all of their stuff. Their scratching post, litter tray, and hiding places are all there and undistributed.

Then, the face meetings can take place at the cat’s own pace. You can use door stoppers to prop open the door safely after a few days of eating behind closed doors to begin the process of introducing them face-to-face.

Shy cats, in particular, might be wary of new situations and this new animal family member in particular. If your feline friend decides to stay sequestered, make sure your cat feels like they are still important by spending time with them in their personal room. The same goes for a dog — our pets can get jealous!

Allow for Space and Time

Let your cat decide when they are ready to go up to them. Many cats are curious, and some are very brave. If your dog is giving them calming signals and not showing them they are a threat, the interaction could happen.

They might begin to gaze at each other as if communicating silently as a way of building trust. Just be patient!

Positive Reinforcement

Whenever your new cat or dog does something desirable, like sits calmly, boops noses, or sniffs gently, reward them with a treat and some calm praise. You don’t want to sound too excited, or else your dog might hear it in your tone of voice and become excitable.

Offer cat/dog treats and pets and let them figure it out for themselves. Positive reinforcement helps your pets make good associations with whatever they are interacting with.

Be Mindful of Body Language

All of the above can be dependent on both of your animal’s body language toward each other. Your cat may be giving signals that they are uncomfortable by raising their hair, hissing, or running away. If you notice these behaviors, the situation is likely progressing too fast for your new cat.

On the other hand, if your dog shows signs of aggression or becomes too excited, they might need to work on some things before furthering the introduction. If your dog becomes extremely focused and alerted to your cat, this could be a sign they see the cat as some sort of toy or snack. Immediately separate them to avoid harm.

Give your pet the personlaized care. Get the app!

Say Hello to AskVet

If you’re having difficulty with the introduction of your new cat to your current dog, consider using AskVet to get in touch with our Certified Pet Coaches. Our pet coaches can work with you to understand both of your pet’s needs and come up with behavioral plans to help your whole animal family thrive. They can also give you tips on how to improve the process and let you know if you’re doing anything incorrectly.

You want to make the introduction process as seamless as possible, but it’s much easier to do that with the help of AskVet. Sign-up today for a virtual session, and hopefully, you’ll be seeing a best-friend relationship form in no time!


The Gaze Communications Between Dogs/Cats and Humans: Recent Research Review and Future Directions | NCBI

Canine Olfaction: Physiology, Behavior, and Possibilities for Practical Applications | NCBI

Incentive Motivation In Pet Dogs – Preference For Constant Vs Varied Food Rewards | NCBI

Communication in Dogs | NCBI