How to Stop Puppies Jumping

How To Stop Puppies Jumping Up On People.

I think most puppies go through a “jumping up” phase. It can be quite a challenge to stop the behaviour, but if we understand what is underlying it, it can help us to work through the best way to manage it.

When puppies are born, they are normally born with several litter mates. This means they are used to climbing on other puppies from the time they’re born, and they learn that jumping on their siblings is a great way to start a game.

When puppies start interacting with people, they try to replicate the same behaviour to start a game. They jump up to get our attention, and it normally works – we start to play with them. In the process of doing this we inadvertently reinforce the behaviour, and it becomes confusing for the puppy if we let them jump up some times but tell them off at others.

To a young, very excited puppy, negative attention is often better than no attention. If we remember that jumping up is designed to get our attention, we begin to understand that telling the puppy off is potentially giving them what they want.

The best way to stop a puppy from jumping is to withdraw attention. We recommend pulling your arms in to your body and turning away from the puppy. In dog body language, this is a very strong message that jumping up isn’t appropriate. Once the puppy settles, give it a simple command like sit (every dog should start learning this as soon as they arrive). Once it is sitting, you can then give it a pat and some attention. By doing this, you’ll teach the dog that jumping up will be ignored while good behaviour such as sitting will get a reward.

This is a very important technique to teach children. Often when dogs jump on kids they will squeal and flap their arms. To an excited puppy, this can be easily confused as play behaviour which encourages them to jump and become more boisterous. By teaching kids to pull in their arms and turn calmly around, you give them an important tool to avoid being jumped on or even bitten by a dog.

For more helpful tips on puppy training, get our FREE New Dog Guide Book, available HERE. 

Do You Need a Bag?

Do You Need a Bag?

The story on the news last week about the dog attacks and people not controlling their dogs in public has made me think about other ways that irresponsible dog owners are affecting the owners who do the right thing.

After out of control dogs, I think people not picking up after their dog is the biggest threat to our right to take our dogs to parks, beaches and other places.

All too often we see dog owners failing to pick up their dog’s pooh. The reason for this might be laziness, a dislike of the job, not having a bag handy, or a number of other excuses.

I think that as dog owners, we have a responsibility to encourage people to do the right thing while ensuring we never become intimidating, abusive or rude.

I would like to see a “Do You Need a Bag” campaign started amongst all dog owners.

This simply means that if you see someone not picking up after their dog, ask them “do you need a bag?”. This is a great way to remind them of their responsibility in a non-confrontational way. It also means if they’re normally a responsible owner but don’t have a bag on them (I’ve run short myself before when my dog has had four poohs on a walk), you can help them out.

If people know that other dog owners will keep them accountable for their actions, they are more likely to do the right thing in the future, and the problem of dog pooh will be reduced.

If the person denies that it was their dog, or refuses to pick it up, I would encourage everyone else to do the right thing and pick it up for them. It’s never a pleasant job, but if dog pooh is left in public places then we all run the risk of not being able to take our dogs to certain areas in the future.

Let’s all spread the word and encourage everyone to do the right thing. #doyouneedabag

Barney the Blind Farm Dog

blind farm dogFarmers have a reputation for being tough. The problem with this perception is that it is so often wrong. Some of the softest, most caring clients I have ever worked with have been farmers. To my mind, it is their caring and compassionate nature that actually makes them a good farmer.

While working in Cornwall, in the South West of England, one of our farmers, Tim, had a blind dog called Barney. Barney was born blind, but despite Tim normally acting like a tough bloke, he was really a bit of a softy.

I would have thought that Barney would struggle to survive on a farm. A blind dog isn’t much good for cattle work, and I thought he would get lost too often or injure himself.

Fortunately for Barney, Tim fell in love with him. He built a special cage inside his Landrover (in the cab, so Barney was always safe and warm), and he was never far from Tim’s side.

One day, while walking between the house and the dairy, Barney fell into a hole. He eventually struggled and got himself out, and the next day Tim was out with his cement mixer and filled the hole completely. This is when we realised how good Barney’s sense of direction was. Every time he walked between the house and the dairy, he would walk around where the hole had been. He knew exactly where it was, and because he couldn’t see that it had been filled in, he kept walking around that spot. He seemed to know exactly where he was on the farm at all times.

Another time Barney’s blindness nearly caused him a major problem was when he was charged by a cow.

Tim had been out checking his cows and saw one was calving. He was on the phone to our receptionist when he said “hang on, I’ll call you back”. He didn’t have a chance to hang up, so our receptionist heard the sounds of an angry cow, Tim running, then a loud crash. He then picked up the phone again, puffing, and asked for us to come out to help with the calving.

When I got out there, I could see Tim was a bit scratched and sore. Apparently the cow had charged Barney. Tim knew that Barney, being blind, didn’t stand a chance without him, so he picked up Barney and ran to the hedge with the cow close behind him. He threw Barney over the fence to safety, but by saving Barney he put himself in danger and the cow knocked him head-first into the hedge. Tim was lucky that the cow didn’t cause more serious damage as they can easily break bones when charging. Barney escaped without injury, and was still happily living on the farm when I left to come back to Australia.

I had the pleasure of working on Tim’s farm for a number of years, and it was always a pleasure to work with the sort of farmer that treats his animals with so much respect and love.

Desexing Your Pet Rabbit

rabbit isolated on a white background

Did you know that it is very important to desex rabbits, even if they are on their own?

Male Rabbits:

The reason for desexing males is pretty obvious: testosterone makes them cranky!

Despite being cute and fluffy, rabbits can be very temperamental, especially when they have high levels of testosterone. Castration helps reduce testosterone levels, which leads to a happier, more relaxed rabbit which is less likely to show aggression towards people and other animals.

It is very important that two entire male rabbits are never left together once they reach sexual maturity. They are highly likely to fight, and can cause fatal wounds to each other.

Female Rabbits:

Desexing female rabbits has two advantages: birth control and cancer prevention.

By removing the reproductive organs, we obviously make them infertile. As we all know, rabbits can breed like rabbits, so it is important to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Female rabbits are also very prone to cancer of the uterus. It is estimated that 60-80% of entire female rabbits will develop uterine cancers, which are fatal if left untreated.

When to Desex:

We recommend desexing rabbits between 4 and 6 months of age. We would recommend 4 months of age when multiple males or mixed sexes are together, while waiting until 6 months of age is ok for females when they have no access to entire males.

What does desexing involve:

The surgery itself is done as a day procedure. Unlike dogs and cats, we don’t fast rabbits before surgery. We ask the owners to bring their normal food in with the rabbit so it can continue eating until shortly before surgery and start eating again as soon as possible afterwards.

Males are castrated through an incision over each testicle, with the skin closed with special tissue glue. Females are desexed through the middle of their abdomen, and will normally have internal sutures.

We don’t send rabbits home with collars, as they would interfere with their normal eating routine.

If you would like to talk about desexing your rabbit, please give our clinic a call and we can either discuss the procedure with you over the phone, or book a free pre-surgical consultation with one of our vets.


Spot, the Snake Bite Survivor

jack russel puppyFirstly, thanks to everyone for your kind words and messages following last week’s article. It meant a lot to get so much support.

It is always hard to know how much to share the emotional side of our job, as it can be hard express how we feel or why some things affect us so much.

Fortunately, to match the low points we also have some real highs, so if you don’t mind me going a bit “James Herriot”, I’d like to share another story from my days as a new graduate, and once again starring the wonderful bosses I had in Esperance.

When you graduate as a vet, you still have a lot to learn. Not only do we need to be able to treat a wide range of species, we also need to cover a wide range of roles for each animal. We need to be a GP, anaesthetist, obstetrician, dentist, dermatologist, endocrinologist, emergency doctor, etc. for dogs, cats, and whichever species come our way.

Because one person can only know so much, especially as a new graduate, I made sure I knew what to do in an emergency as I knew I might not have time to read up on what to do.

The first snake bite victim I saw was a young Jack Russell called Spot. His owner found him with a tiger snake in his mouth, so rushed him in to see us.

During the drive to the clinic Spot became quieter and quieter, then stopped breathing. By the time the owners ran in through our door, Spot’s heart had stopped.

Fortunately for Spot, it was a quiet day at work, and we had two vets and three nurses there to start work on him straight away. We intubated him (inserted a breathing tube), gave him some emergency drugs and began CPR. After a couple of minutes his heart started again, so we know he had a chance.

To treat a pet following a snake bite, we need to give them antivenom, which is very expensive. Back then is was around $500/vial, and they often need more than one dose to survive.

We needed to have a talk to Spot’s owner about how much the treatment was going to cost. Spot’s owner could only afford $750, so we knew Spot needed to respond to one vial or he wouldn’t survive.

We gave the vial to Spot, and 10 minutes later he still wasn’t breathing on his own. He was unconscious, and we knew that the one vial wasn’t going to save him.

One of my bosses, Nicole, was helping with Spot. She made one of the most generous decisions I have ever seen a vet make and told the owner that the clinic would cover any costs above $750. Over the next hour we gave Spot five more vials of antivenom, which was every dose we had. The clinic had effectively donated $2500 of drugs to try to save Spot.

For the next six hours we continued to breathe for Spot. We took it in turns keeping Spot alive. After so many hours, we were amazed when Spot took a breath for himself.

That night I slept on my swag next to Spot’s cage, and by morning he was awake and wagging his tail. We sent him home later that day, back to his normal self.

He’s one of those cases which remind me why I became a vet, and I’ll always remember the feeling I had as he walked out the door, happy and healthy again.

A personal story about life as a vet.

Braden with Juniper

Braden with Juniper

After the article in last week’s newspaper about suicide in vets, I wanted to share a bit of a personal story about my experience as a new graduate.

During the first year or two of practice, most vets will lose a patient either as a result of getting something wrong, or even have a patient die because of what they did. I was no exception to this.

My first job was down in Esperance. It’s a beautiful place to work and the practice owners there were fantastic bosses. They gave me all the support I needed, and took really good care of me. Unfortunately, when working in mixed practice, you don’t always have a senior vet supervising you, and in those days we didn’t have great mobile coverage there.

On one particular day, I was called out to a “downer cow”. This is where the cow can’t get up at around the time of calving, and is normally due to some electrolyte imbalances.

I drove the 150km out to the farm (we covered a large area down there), and found the cow down in the paddocks and unable to rise. She looked like she was in the process of calving.

When I got out the car, she tried to charge me straight away. Aggression in a downer cow can be a sign of low blood magnesium, so I thought I had my diagnosis.

Because she was so aggressive, I couldn’t do a proper examination on her, so happy I had my diagnosis I decided to treat her with some magnesium into the vein. I drew up a big dose, got the stockmen to hold her head and gave her some intravenous magnesium. Five minutes later she still couldn’t stand, so we repeated the process, with the same result.

I decided to give her a third dose. The stockmen held her head, I injected once more into the vein, and the cow died as I finished giving the third dose. I had got the diagnosis wrong and the cow had died as a result.

The drive back was horrible. An hour and a half drive with the farmer’s angry words still ringing in my ears. It was one of the worst moments I have ever experienced as a vet.

I got back to the clinic, and as soon as the boss saw my face he knew something was wrong. I asked to have a chat with him, and I burst into tears as soon as I sat down in the office.

Luckily the boss was very understanding, explaining that something like that happens to many vets in their first couple of years. We talked through the case, discussed what could be done differently the next time, then he called the farmer and organised to pay him the value of the cow out of his own pocket.

I think if the boss hadn’t been so supportive I would have considered leaving the profession, as I couldn’t have faced that feeling again without a god support network around me.

Since then, there have been a few cases where I wonder if I could have done something different and saved a pet’s life. There are also the patients which I get very attached to (we’re not meant to get attached, but I think if you can’t love your patients then you’re in the wrong job), and when I have to say the final goodbye to them I still shed a tear. Some days, being a vet is incredibly hard, though most days I absolutely love my job.


Middle ear infections – otitis media

CT Scan of dog with otitis media.

CT Scan of dog with otitis media.

In a world where more and more people are consulting Dr Google, pet stores, and people in Facebook groups before they talk to a vet, we are starting to see some cases where diseases have progressed further than they would have if a vet had been consulted first.

Ear infections leading to middle ear disease are one such example.

The majority of middle ear infections come from external ear infections (otitis externa), which is when the ear canal is infected.

In most cases, otitis externa is relatively straight forward to treat, with combinations of ear cleaners and antibiotic/antifungal ear drops. If the ear infection is caused by a grass seed, then we obviously need to remove that as well. We also need to look at the cause of the infection, as ear infections in dogs rarely occur without an underlying problem.

We see middle ear infections occur when foreign bodies such as grass seeds migrate in through the ear drum (which separates the outer and middle ear), or when otitis externa is left untreated or inappropriately treated.

A quick search on Google gives a scary number of home remedies, everything from putting crushed garlic into the ears through to vinegar and yoghurt. Not only are these treatments largely ineffective, they could cause additional pain and even permanent deafness if the eardrum has been ruptured.

Many pet store treatments may be quite good for maintaining ears once the infection is controlled, but they are often ineffective at treating active infection.

We also need to remember that ear infections are painful (ask any mother who’s child has an ear infection), so early and appropriate treatment is needed to alleviate the pet’s suffering as soon as possible.

Once an ear infection has progressed to otitis media, it is much harder and more expensive to treat. Otitis media often requires surgery or flushing under anaesthetic, and long courses of broad spectrum antibiotics. In the worst cases, the pet may need removal of the ear canal and middle ear to resolve the problem.

If you ever need advice on things such as ear or skin care, or if you’re not sure if your pet needs to see the vet, please feel free to give us a call. Our highly qualified staff can discuss any concerns you may have and determine if a consultation with the vet is required.

Early, appropriate treatment is always going to be cheaper than trying to cure a more advanced and painful condition, and early resolution of such conditions is always going to be better for the welfare and quality of life of your precious pet!

Rabbit Calicivirus Vaccine Shortage

We have just received the following information from the Australian Veterinary Association about the rabbit calicivirus vaccine

rabbit isolated on a white background

rabbit isolated on a white background


From today, a new strain of calicivirus (RHDV1 K5) is being released across Australia to help land owners control wild rabbits.

AVA’s advice to owners of pet rabbits is to ensure their rabbits are vaccinated.

However, we have just been advised that stocks of the Cylap® vaccine are running low and that the manufacturer is expediting shipment to replenish current stock levels. Unfortunately, the timing of the arrival of stock is unknown.

In the meantime, if you run out of the vaccine, please advise clients to take the following precautions:

  • If possible, keep rabbits inside for the next few weeks or until they can be vaccinated and your vet advises it is now safe for them to be outside.
  • Prevent direct and indirect contact between domestic and wild rabbits.
  • Avoid cutting grass and feeding it to rabbits if there is the risk of contamination from wild rabbits.
  • Wash hands, with warm soapy water in between handling rabbits that are not normally in contact with each other.
  • Good insect control is vitally important and will help reduce the risks of introduction of both RHDV and myxomatosis. Insect control should include insect proofing the hutch or keeping the rabbits indoors.
  • Infected rabbits should be isolated and any dead rabbits should be disposed of in a manner that will minimise environmental contamination. Contact your local vet for more information.

All cages and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Disinfectants that can be used to decontaminate equipment include 10 % bleach, 10 % sodium hydroxide, or parvocide disinfectants. Autoclaving will also kill the virus.