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The Secret Behind Your Dog’s Ears

Does your dog have perky, upright ears? Or do they hang down in an endearing, droopy flop? It turns out there’s a reason why some dogs have erect ears and others don’t. Charles Darwin even wondered over this difference 150 years ago when he wrote On the Origin of Species. And, it turns out, he was onto something.

When it comes to the structure of your dog’s ears, one popular theory centers around domestication syndrome and neural crest cells. Neural crest cells help dictate the size and shape of many animal characteristics, from their skeletal and connective tissues to their facial structure and ears. These cells also play a role in how an animal’s adrenal glands function and the “fight or flight” response.

So, what do neural crest cells have to do with your dog’s ears being floppy or upright? That’s where domestication syndrome comes into play. It’s believed that thousands of years of domestication altered the neural crest cells in our dogs. Basically, as dogs became more and more tame, the number and behavior of their neural crest cells changed. As a result, new traits started to emerge, like floppy ears, shorter snouts, different in coats and tail form, and even reduced tooth size! We went on to accentuate (or inhibit) each of these traits through centuries of intentional breeding to enhance the characteristics we found most appealing.

To learn more about how some dogs came to have floppy ears, watch the video below:

By |September 16th, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

It’s Your Party!

August Birthday Roundup

Juliet

Has your dog celebrated their birthday with us yet?

Our Birthday Club is FREE and your lucky pup can enjoy their special day with a complimentary Playday, bandana, and birthday paw-ty!

Visit our photo gallery gallery to see all of our August party pups!

By |September 9th, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

Happy Labor Day!

Minnesota Working Dogs

We often think of Labor Day as the end of summer and our last chance to get to the Minnesota State Fair for cheese curds and mini donuts. But, it’s actually a day set aside to celebrate American workers. In honor of the 125th anniversary of this national holiday, we thought it would be fun to recognize some little-known Minnesota workers: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s TSA dogs.

Courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration

TSA dogs are officially known as Passenger Screening Canines. There are nearly 1,100 canine teams hard at work around the country, busy sniffing for explosives or explosive materials in security lines. To become a Passenger Screening Canine team, they undergo a 12-week intensive training session at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio. This $12 million facility has 25,000 square foot canine training space with seven classrooms. It also has 13 indoor venues that recreate numerous airport sites, including a baggage claim, checkpoint, cargo facility, and the interior of an aircraft.

As of last February, MSP had six canine teams on active duty. When looking for a dog to go into this line of work, trainers watch for more than a great nose. It’s also imperative that these dogs also have a high-energy drive to work. There are currently seven breeds that have shown exceptional capabilities as Passenger Screening Canines, including:

  • German shepherds
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Labrador retrievers
  • German shorthaired pointers
  • Wirehaired pointers
  • Vizslas
  • Golden retrievers


And don’t worry about the dogs who don’t complete their training or retire. The TSA also runs a doggy adoption program, but you’ll have to wait more than seven years if you’re interested in getting one of your own! In most cases, trainers are given the opportunity to adopt their partners first, and they rarely refuse. We can’t blame them!

Happy Labor Day!

By |September 2nd, 2019|blog|Comments Off on Happy Labor Day!|

Happy Fall!

Our Favorite Dog-Friendly Fall Activities

Summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over. It’s only just beginning! With cooler weather heading our way, that can only mean one thing: Getting outdoors. And what could be better than enjoying a fun, fall activity with your dog?

Here’s what made our top 5 favorite list of dog-friendly things to do in the fall.

1. Outdoor Festivals

If you’re looking for a fun, FREE, dog-focused event, you don’t want to miss Linden Hills Woofstock. When you hit Woofstock, you’re in for a day of doggy-specific programming with live music, local artisans, and food trucks. You can also meet different animal nonprofits and learn more about the work they do. And, did someone say shopping? Get ready, though; these items are all about pets and their owners! Don’t miss Linden Hills Woofstock on Saturday, September 7, from 10am-3pm.

2. Feel-Good Fundraisers

Looking for ways to support a good cause this fall? Look no further than Strut Your Mutt®! This local walk is part of a national partnership with Best Friends Animal Society®. As part of the effort, they team up with local rescues, shelters, and animal welfare organizations around the country to help save homeless animals everywhere. On September 28, Strut Your Mutt Minneapolis takes place at Wolfe Park where all of the money raised goes directly to supporting lifesaving programs. Learn more about getting involved so we can Save Them All® by visiting this page.

3. Taking a Hike

Fort Snelling State Park may be closed due to spring flooding, but there are still plenty of places to get outdoors and explore our beautiful state. Whether you want to hit the road for the weekend or head somewhere close to home, this roundup of great dog-friendly hikes in Minnesota has something for everyone. And, if you’re new to hiking with your dog, we’ve got tips to help get you started, so you’ll be enjoying the fall colors in no time!

4. Apple Orchards & Pumpkin Patches

You can’t go wrong with picking your own apples. But, when the destination also includes pumpkins, friendly farm animals, and a winery with wine tasting, count us in! This fall, head over to Deardorff Orchards & Vineyards in Waconia. And, if you’re dog still has energy to burn after your visit, head down the road to the Carver Park Reserve dog park – they have 27 acres of off-leash area that’s completely fenced, so your dog has plenty of room to run free! They also have a small enclosed area so small and frail dogs can play safely too.

5. Breweries & Wineries

We may be the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but we’re lucky to have a lot of great craft beer too! In fact, it’s hard to choose a single location with a great patio, especially since so many are dog-friendly now. If you want to enjoy a great craft beer this fall, why not try one of our favorite spots in the South Metro? Bald Man Brewing and Lakeville Brewing Company – each location welcomes dogs on the patio! And, if you prefer wine, Glacial Ridge Winery in Spicer has it all. They even welcome well-behaved, leashed dogs in their apple orchard, which means you can also find fresh apples, cider, and caramel apples during your visit.

What is your favorite dog-friendly way to enjoy fall? Tell us in the comments below!

By |August 26th, 2019|blog|Comments Off on Happy Fall!|

Tail Wagger of the Month

Meet Blue, Toby, and Teagan!

Bloomington Tail Wagger

One-year-old Blue has been part of our Bloomington pack since he was only three months old. When this frisky Vizsla comes to WTPR, he really loves POOL DAYS. Once he’s done wrestling and chasing his doggy friends, he also enjoys settling in for a nice nap and snuggle.

When Blue isn’t at Wagging Tails, he likes to wrestle with his human brother, 5-year-old Bodin. One of his favorite ways to play involves grabbing Bodin’s pants and pulling him around the house until they finally come off!

Blue is a sweet boy who loves being the center of attention, often nosing you for pets and playing “keep away.” His owner Rhonda also told us that Blue keeps his family on their toes, especially since he learned to turn the faucet on so he could drink his water his favorite way — straight from the tap!


Eagan Tail Waggers

Toby and Teagan have been coming to our Eagan location for three years. At six, Toby takes his big brother role very seriously and wishes he didn’t have to share 4-year-old Teagan with anyone — and Teagan seems to feel the same way! These two dogs are either lurchers or staghounds and love spending time together. At home, you can often find them lounging on their couch in their room “Hound Town” while keeping an eye on the neighborhood. When they’re with us at WTPR, they’re lapping up attention from the staff.

These two rescues from Denver failed miserably at keeping coyotes away from the farms where they worked. At home with Kelly, Steve, and Clare, though, these dogs are total winners. The family loves Toby and Teagan’s unique personalities. When out on the streets, Toby acts as mayor of the neighborhood, being sure to greet everyone he passes. But, once he gets home, he’s a strong-willed pooch who can be stubborn. Kelly and Steve say that Teagan is the exact opposite; outdoors, this feisty girl is tough and ready to rumble. Back inside with her people, however, and she’s a cuddle bug who can’t get enough snuggles.

Congratulations, Blue, Toby, and Teagan!

By |August 19th, 2019|blog|Comments Off on Tail Wagger of the Month|

Your Dog’s Health: Joint Pain

Recognizing the Signs of Joint Pain & Providing Relief

Dogs of all ages can experience joint pain; it’s not just a problem for seniors anymore. Common causes of joint pain in dogs include:

  • Tendon, ligament, or muscle diseases leading to tears or ruptures
  • Joint fractures
  • Congenital and metabolic disorders
  • Hormonal, dietary, or inflammatory conditions, like Lyme disease


Another major cause of joint pain is obesity. That’s because carrying extra weight can be as hard on a dog’s body as it is on ours!

But how do you know if your dog is in pain? And is there anything you can do to help?

Symptoms of Joint Pain

It’s not always easy to know if your dog hurts because they may not yelp, whine, or hold a paw out in pain. Fortunately, dogs offer other clues to let you know they’re uncomfortable.

Common signs of joint pain in dogs include:

  • Moving slowly or stiffly when getting up
  • Lagging behind on walks
  • Having problems climbing stairs
  • Being reluctant to run or jump
  • Holding a limb off the ground or limping
  • Having difficulty standing, sitting, or lying down
  • Expressing less interest in normal activities
  • Decreasing energy levels
  • Becoming irritable
  • Losing muscle


Some dogs also have visible swelling or stiffness in their joints or obsessively lick tender areas of their body.

Treating Joint Pain

If you think your dog has joint pain, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. After diagnosing their condition, your vet might recommend a variety of therapies based on the severity of your dog’s symptoms, their age and overall health, and the cause of their discomfort.

Weight Management

One of the most important things you can do to keep your dog healthy and comfortable is address any existing weight issues. Losing weight helps minimize joint pain and inflammation by decreasing excess strain on your dog’s body. Talk to your vet about the safest way to help your dog lose weight, especially if they have health issues or pain that affects their ability to exercise comfortably.

Foods & Supplements

Certain ingredients or additives — like fish oil, chondroitin, and glucosamine — can have a regenerative quality on joints and help with pain. Before supplementing your dog’s diet, talk to your vet about your concerns, and ask for their nutritional and supplement recommendations that support joint health.

Physical Therapy & Complementary Treatments

Vets with advanced training in canine rehabilitation and sports medicine — like Dr. Julia Tomlinson at Twin Cities Animal Rehab and Sports Medicine in Burnsville — offer a wide range of complementary treatments, such as physical therapy, hydrotherapy, chiropractic care, massage, and acupuncture. These therapies can offer significant pain relief, especially if your dog has a chronic or degenerative condition.

Medications

Sometimes, pain relievers might be the best option to keep your dog comfortable. But, never give your dog pills made for humans. After talking with your vet, they might recommend prescription medications, like carprofen, meloxicam, or glucocorticoids, to reduce joint pain and inflammation.

Remember, if you think your dog is in pain, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. With their help, your dog will feel better in no time.

By |August 12th, 2019|blog|Comments Off on Your Dog’s Health: Joint Pain|

Your Dog’s Health: Kennel Cough

Understanding the Risks & Identifying the Signs

kennel coughKennel cough, also known as Bordetella, is a highly contagious dog virus. Similar to a cold or virus in humans, dogs with kennel cough typically recover without treatment, but some dogs are at higher risk. It is important to know the symptoms so you can help reduce the spread of this virus and seek veterinary care for your dog as soon as possible.

How Do Dogs Catch Kennel Cough?
Like the human cold virus, dogs can catch kennel cough through aerosols in the air, from direct contact with an infected dog, or through germs on contaminated objects. This makes it highly contagious in boarding facilities, animal shelters, training facilities, and at veterinary clinics. Dogs in frequent contact with other dogs have the highest risk of contracting the virus; young, old, unvaccinated dogs, and dogs with medical conditions are especially vulnerable.

What Are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is a form of bronchitis that causes an inflammation of a dog’s voice box and windpipe. The most pronounced symptom of kennel cough is a persistent dry cough that is often accompanied by a “honking” sound. Most dogs appear healthy except for the cough, but others display sneezing, runny nose, eye discharge, foamy phlegm, loss in appetite, and decreased energy. Dogs can also have kennel cough or be carriers of the virus without displaying any symptoms at all.

I Think My Dog Has Kennel Cough, What Should I Do?
Separate your dog from other dogs immediately and contact your veterinarian. While most dogs recover over a few weeks, it is important to involve your vet in their treatment to prevent more serious conditions from developing.

How Is Kennel Cough Treated?
Veterinary treatment of kennel cough varies depending on the age, condition of your pet, and the severity of their illness. Some infected dogs are isolated from other dogs, and the virus runs its course, and others receive cough suppressants or antimicrobial prescriptions. Either way, it is important to work closely with your veterinarian to keep your dog comfortable while they recover. Most dogs improve in three weeks, but vulnerable dogs like puppies, seniors, or dogs with medical conditions can take up to six weeks or longer. If your dog has nasal discharge, rapid breathing, refuses to eat or seems lethargic, contact your vet immediately.

Is There a Vaccination for Kennel Cough?
There are three types of kennel cough vaccine: oral, nasal, and injection. Wagging Tails requires a kennel cough vaccination for all canine guests in our facility. But, similar to the human flu vaccine, it does not guarantee protection from this illness. However, dogs vaccinated against kennel cough often display more mild symptoms if they contract kennel cough. These vaccinations are also not effective if your dog currently has a kennel cough infection.

Vaccinations are typically given once a year but can be given more often if a dog is at higher risk for kennel cough. Work with your veterinarian to determine which option is best for your dog.

How Is Wagging Tails Trying to Reduce Kennel Cough Exposure?
At Wagging Tails Pet Resort, your dog’s safety is our top priority. We have an extensive cleaning protocol in place; all the playrooms are disinfected daily, and suites are fully disinfected between every guest. Additionally, toys, food bowls, and water bowls are thoroughly cleaned after every use to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Each of our employees is also trained to recognize the signs of kennel cough in a visiting animal. If we suspect that a dog in our care is sick, it is our policy is to quarantine the animal and seek veterinary treatment immediately to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to our other dogs.

It is important to us to do everything in our power to minimize the exposure risk to dogs in our care. Because kennel cough is so highly contagious and can be spread by dogs not displaying any signs of illness, we also rely on open communication with our clients. By proactively communicating about local outbreaks and educating them on the symptoms to watch for in their own homes, we can work together to reduce the exposure of dogs in our care.

By |August 5th, 2019|blog|Comments Off on Your Dog’s Health: Kennel Cough|

It’s Your Party!

July Birthday Roundup

Ernie

We could be a little biased, but we think the BEST way to celebrate a birthday is at WTPR — just ask Ernie!

Our Birthday Club is free and comes with a complimentary Playday, bandana, and a birthday party!

Has your dog celebrated with us yet? Visit our Photo Gallery to see all of the happy dogs in our Birthday Club!

By |August 5th, 2019|blog|Comments Off on It’s Your Party!|

Tail Waggers of the Month

Meet Bauer and Lenni Rae!

Bloomington Tail Wagger

Bauer is a 5-year-old Finnish Lapphund who has been coming to our Bloomington location for two years. This breed was specially created to herd reindeer in Finland. Bauer makes the most of these exceptional skills by herding his family when he’s at home and vocalizing often so they always know exactly what he wants. When he comes to Wagging Tails, Bauer enjoys chasing his fur friends, relaxing, and begging for treats.

Several years ago, Bauer developed a cough that’s treated with a low-dose steroid inhaler. The medicine helped his cough, but it also made him perpetually hungry, and he’s become a master snack stealer! Now Bauer spends most of his time counter surfing and watching his human siblings for tasty tidbits to swipe. His owners tell us that nothing is safe in their house anymore – whether it’s lobster tails, chicken legs, bags of bread, or even toys!

During the winter, Bauer loves sleeping in the garage in the back of the car with the windows cracked. His owners think Bauer found food in there once, so now he loves to curl up and enjoy the cool temperatures – and look for any forgotten morsels.

Eagan Tail Wagger

Lenni Rae is a 1-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog who’s been part of our pack since she was 16 weeks old. During her visits, this happy girl loves to bark her friends, play outside, eat all of the treats she can, and nap. Lenni also can’t resist playing with her best friend Finn, especially when they get to run, dig, and slobber all over each other!

When Lenni is out on walks with her dog mom Kelly, she’ll stop mid-walk, flop on her back, and roll around in the grass or snow. Then, Lenni lays there with her legs in the air! Kelly says cars have stopped just to make sure Lenni’s okay. Walks aren’t the only place you get to see this girl’s unique personality; she’s also afraid of pretzels and some sticks, and she absolutely refuses to swim. Kelly says that’s okay, though, because Lenni loves to snuggle. Lenni also insists on following Kelly everywhere she goes, even into the bathroom!

Kelly says Lenni is a little lazy, but she still makes a great protector from Amazon delivery people. Unfortunately, Lenni also eats underwear and breaks Kelly’s necklaces whenever she jumps up to greet her. Even though Lenni likes to eat strange things, though, Kelly says she’s a very good dog and has never destroyed any furniture or the walls. Lenni’s also incredibly attentive and loving, greeting you with the same excitement every time, even if you’ve only been gone for five minutes.

But what’s the best part of having Lenni in her life? “Lenni is the BEST snuggler! She is a true companion that loves her family unconditionally,” Kelly says. “She is gentle but will protect her family.”

Congratulations Bauer and Lenni!

By |July 22nd, 2019|blog|Comments Off on Tail Waggers of the Month|

Do You Have A Shy or Fearful Dog?

Help Them Gain More Confidence

It’s easy to assume that all dogs love everyone and everything. Why wouldn’t they? They’re dogs! But many dogs are actually shy or frightened of some people, things like loud noises, and certain situations.

Recognizing a Shy or Fearful Dog

There are different ways to identify shy or fearful dogs because they often express specific behaviors in response to their triggers, including:

  • Urinating involuntarily
  • Trying to move away or hide
  • Trembling
  • Panting or drooling
  • Shedding excessively
  • Refusing to make eye contact



Unfortunately, shy or fearful dogs can also react in more aggressive ways too, like barking, growling, and snapping. In fact, most dog behaviors that seem aggressive are usually a sign of fear, not aggression problems.

What Makes a Dog Shy or Fearful

In some cases, it’s easy to understand why a dog is shy or afraid. Maybe your dog was abused at one point or experienced a traumatic event. Sometimes you can trace fearful reactions to limited socialization as a puppy. There are also dogs who have a genetic predisposition that makes them more wary – this doesn’t mean some breeds are more fearful or shy. Instead, it means that traits in dogs can be passed from parents to children. So, if you have a shy parent, you can also have a shy puppy.

And, just as often, some dogs can develop fears for reasons we’ll never know.

Helping Shy or Fearful Dogs

If you have a shy or fearful dog, it’s essential to recognize their fears and try to help them become more confident. Remember, this can take a lot of time and patience, but these steps can help.

Management

Fear puts dogs in a heightened state of emotion. The first step should involve managing your dog’s environment so they can avoid things that trigger their fear response. For example, if your dog is afraid of strangers, avoid crowded areas filled with people because they can overwhelm your dog. When your dog is in an environment where they feel safe and relaxed, you can start working on training, desensitization, and counter-conditioning.

Training

Training is an essential aspect of building a strong relationship with your dog and helping them grow more confident. This doesn’t mean you have to have a certified service dog by the time you’re done, but having reliable training foundation like sit, down, and stay paves the way towards having a dog who relies on you for guidance on how they should react when they feel afraid or uncertain. We offer group and one-on-one training classes in our Obedience Academy, so let us know if you would like suggestions on how to work with your shy or fearful dog.

Desensitization and Counter-Conditioning

In an ideal world, all we’d have to do is say, “You don’t have to be scared, Fifi, that’s just thunder.” Unfortunately, communicating with a dog takes a little more work, especially if they’re in a heightened emotional state because they’re afraid.

To help your dog overcome their fears, slowly expose them to their triggers a little at a time while simultaneously giving them pleasant things to enjoy, like super tasty treats. The idea behind this is to change your dog’s emotional and physiological response to the things that scare them by helping them associate their fears with something positive.

Be Patient

Remember, if you have a shy or fearful dog, it’s crucial to take things slow. It can be a long, slow process to help them grow more confident, especially if you have an extremely fearful dog. Let them set the pace as you work with them; never try to rush them or force them into situations that make them uncomfortable. It’s also important to discuss your concerns with your veterinarian.

Do you have a shy or fearful dog? What helped them gain confidence? Tell us in the comments below!

By |July 15th, 2019|blog|2 Comments|