Tips for Walking Small Dogs

Here is everything you need to know about walking small dogs.

First of all, yes, it is important to walk a small dog. Dogs that lack sufficient activity can exhibit mental problems, behavioral problems, and obesity. Small dogs are more prone to heart issues and obesity than large dogs, and daily exercise can help to prevent these problems and extend your dog’s life.

Walking small dogs is just as important as walking large dogs. In addition to the physical health issues, all dogs need mental stimulation to help avoid behavioral problems caused by boredom. When you take your dog outside for a walk, you introduce him to the chance to explore a wealth of new things. Regular exercise can also help prevent aggression, fear, anxiety, and hyperactivity in your small dog. To learn more about hyperactivity, go to Hyperactivity (ADHD) in Dogs.

A short two block walk with your small dog a few times a week can help to prevent multiple health issues like joint problems, muscular issues, heart problems, mange and other diseases.

Walking small dogs can be challenging. Their short legs may look like they are struggling, but every dog needs some exercise to stay healthy and happy. Owners of small breed dogs have noted that walking their dog has helped them to calm down. Walking small dogs can also help to lessen or eliminate Napoleon’s Syndrome, which is so common in small dogs.

Walking small dogs can help to regulate their temperament and make your dog a better companion. They can take any hyperactive or rowdy behavior and put it into their exercise.

How Far or How Long Should I Walk My Small Dog?

A small dog needs about a half hour a day outdoors to maintain their health. You can break this time into two 15 minute walks.

Your small dog needs daily walks to stay healthy and to control their weight. But too much of a good thing can be harmful, so moderation is the key. Small dogs like bulldogs and pugs have squished faces and their shortened muzzles limit airflow. That means they can get overheated pretty quickly if they’re out too long.

When considering how long and how far to walk your small breed dog, you should always consider your dog’s age and health level. These factors will determine how much time your dog should be spending on daily walks.

What to Do If You Encounter a Bigger Dog on Your Walk

It’s only natural to worry about your small dog’s safety while out on a walk. There have been instances where larger dogs approach and harm the small dog, sometimes badly injuring or even killing the small dog.

If you’re out on a walk and you encounter a bigger dog, it’s best to scoop your dog up so you can help to protect him or her. The most important thing in this scenario is not to act alarmed or frightened. Even though every fiber of your being may be struck with fear, you don’t want to make yourself more of a target. It is best to act calm so that you seem in control of the situation. Do not yell at the bigger dog. This only makes the encounter more interesting to him at a time when he is looking for some physical activity.

To learn more about walking a dog, go to The Pet Owner’s Guide to Walking a Dog.

What You Need to Know About the Pit Bull Temperament

If you’re thinking about getting a pit bull, it is imperative that you understand pit bull temperament.

Pit bulls were created by crossing bulldogs and terriers. Early breeders were trying to combine the mad bravery of the terrier with the strength of the bulldog. Apparently, they succeeded because the pit bull rapidly grew to be one of the most popular breeds involved in dog fighting – a practice that is now outlawed in the U.S.

A strong determination is one of the most fearsome pit bull temperament traits. Combine that unyielding determination with his enormous strength and powerful jaws and you’ll see why a pit bull often is dreaded. Some people believe that a pit bull’s jaws actually lock to prevent it from never letting go, but this is not the case. It is simply his strength and his undying determination that drives the pit bull. He is a superb fighting machine and a serious confrontation can be fatal for the opponent. This is one of the reasons many people believe that pit bulls should be banned. This is a debate that will no doubt continue for many years to come.

While pit bulls are famous for being vicious fighting dogs, and the media has been known to sensationalize stories of pit bull attacks, that characterization is not true. Unfortunately, shelters are overrun with pit bulls and certain cities like Denver and Miami have even banned the breed. While the name “pit bull” can fill us with fear, that fear is often unfounded. The breed is not about aggression toward humans. The pit bull is a friendly and stable breed. A well-bred pit bull who lives in a loving home is a loyal, loving pet.

The pit bull temperament is not vicious. Instead, it is clownish, loving and loyal. A pit bull loves his family and wants to be a part of everything they do. The protective and fearless pit bull has a playful and friendly nature and it has a strong desire to please people.

This active and athletic dog is a good companion for those who love to run or bicycle. The breed also loves to swim and retrieve. The pit bull is an athletic dog that needs a significant amount of daily exercise. The pit bull needs more exercise than the average dog. Without exercise, the pit bull will get bored and destructive.

What Are Common Characteristics of the Pit Bull Temperament?

Separation anxiety is a big part of the pit bull temperament. It is very important that pit bulls get enough exercise throughout the day and that they have enough activities to keep them busy while they are left alone. Otherwise, they will become destructive. Some pit bulls need to be crate trained well into adulthood to keep them and your home safe when they are left alone.

While pit bulls love people, they are not so crazy about other animals. Animal aggression is a very common part of the pit bull temperament. Some pit bulls are so aggressive that it is not safe to keep another pet in the house. Because of their fighting history, even if they are raised alongside cats or other dogs there is no guarantee that they won’t go after them one day. Pit bulls have a very tenacious and determined personality and even the easiest going pit bull won’t back down from a challenge. Even if he doesn’t start the fight, a pit bull will finish it. Along with dog-directed aggression, the pit bull is known for its high prey drive towards cats, rabbits, birds and other such animals.

A pit bull is bred to be an alpha dog. It is crucial that you keep him in his place. There must be absolutely no doubt that you are the “alpha”. Training should begin at an early age.

It’s never a good idea to isolate a pit bull. They need plenty of socialization from an early age so they can be accepting of new people and new situations. If he is not properly socialized, a pit bull may become wary, which can lead to problems.

In general, a pit bull is a happy and easy going animal as long as they come from a reputable breeder and have plenty of love and good parental supervision.

To learn more about pit bulls, go to All About Pit Bull Breeds.

My Dog Is Constantly Licking His Nose

Have you ever wondered why your dog may lick his nose? There are numerous reasons why dogs may lick their noses and some can have serious health consequences. Below we will review causes for dogs to constantly lick their nose.

Causes of Dog Constantly Licking Nose

Below are some possible causes for dogs licking their noses:

Behavioral Causes of a Dog Constantly Licking His Nose

  • Normal behavior
    • Dogs rely on their amazing sense of smell and will lick their nose to keep it moist. The increased moisture can allow dogs to better pick up scents.
    • Some dogs will lick their noses when there is something on their nose. For example, a dog presented because pinesap was on his nose and it felt funny/sticky so he was constantly licking his nose.
  • Behavioral reasons
    • Some dogs will lick their lips or noses when they are confused or anxious. For example, some dogs with storm phobias may lick their noses when they are nervous.
    • Some dogs will lick their noses due to a behavioral problem such as a compulsive disorder. Compulsive behaviors are repetitive sequences of behavior that are fairly consistent in their presentation. They do not appear to serve any obvious purpose, although some argue that they function to reduce a dog’s stress level. Some compulsive behaviors appear to be triggered by anxiety or stress. Compulsive behaviors may be time consuming, may result in physical injury to the dog, may significantly impair the dog’s ability to function normally, and may impair the dog’s relationship with his owner. Learn more about Compulsive Behavior in Dogs.

Medical Causes of a Dog Constantly Licking His Nose

Health problems can lead to a dog constantly licking their noses and may vary from minor issues to very serious problems. Nose licking is most concerning when the nose licking is new, excessive, or when it is associated with nasal discharge or blood.

Possible causes of nose licking include:

  • Trauma. Any trauma that results in a cut, puncture, abrasion, or injury to the nose area can feel funny and can cause a dog to scratch, rub or lick his nose. Skin trauma such as cuts and punctures can become infected, which can itch and cause a dog to lick their nose and rub their face. It is also possible to notice a scab, puncture, abrasion, discharge and/or a foul odor from an infected wound.
  • Bites or stings. Any type of bite to the face or around the nose can cause dog nose licking. Bites may include insect bites from spiders, horse flies, mosquitos, and/or a bee or wasp sting. Snakebites can also occur around the face and mouth and cause pain, swelling, discharge, and/or nose licking.
  • Foreign body. Dogs with something caught in their nose will often lick their noses, rub their noses, sneeze, and/or have nasal discharge that may include blood. For example, a plant awn or grass blade can get inside the nose and cause these symptoms.
    Dental disease. Signs of dental disease in dogs may include not eating, a foul odor to the mouth (halitosis), inflamed red gums, tartar, and sometimes drooling, lip licking and/or nose licking. As dental disease advances, plaque turns to tartar and bacteria can create gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) and tooth loss. As dental disease progresses, in very severe cases, teeth can abscess up through the skin into the cheek and sometimes can extend into the nasal cavity.
  • Nasal infections. Dogs can develop bacterial or fungal infections of the nose that can lead to nasal discharge. A natural response to dealing with a runny nose for dogs is to lick their noses. Some dogs will also sneeze and will sound congested when they breathe. Sinus infections can also cause nasal discharge and nose licking.
  • Nasal tumors. Cancer can occur anywhere in a dog’s body including the nose. Signs of a nasal tumor most often is sneezing and/or nasal discharge. Sometimes the discharge is bloody as the tumor progresses.
  • Seizures. Canine seizures can result in different types of behaviors or movements. Some dogs that have seizures will lie on their sides paddling their legs as with full grand-mal seizures. Other dogs with partial seizures can result in more subtle signs of a seizure such as lip licking or nose licking.
  • Nasal discharge. Dogs can have a nasal discharge from in infection but it can also be due to a bloody nose. The medical term for a bloody nose is epistaxis. This can be caused by ingestion of rat poison, foreign bodies, nasal tumors, and infections. Learn more about sneezing and nasal discharge in dogs.
  • Nausea. A very common sign of nausea in dogs is lip licking and some dogs will also lick their noses. Dogs with nausea will often hypersalivate, drool, lick their lips and these behaviors are sometimes followed by swallowing. This commonly occurs just prior to the act of vomiting. Some dogs may also eat grass when they are nauseated. Learn more about nausea in dogs and vomiting in dogs.

What to Do if You See Dog Constantly Licking Nose

The first thing to do if your dog is constantly licking his or her nose is to look at the nose and around the nose. It is important to determine if the dog nose licking is due to a medical problem. Is there a nosebleed? Is there sneezing? Is there nasal discharge? Is there anything caught in the hair around the nose? Is there an injury such as a puncture?

My Dog Keeps Licking The Air — What Does That Mean?

Have you ever wondered why your dog keeps licking air? There are numerous reasons why dogs may lick the air and some can have serious health consequences. This article contains information for dog owners looking into why their dog keeps licking air.

Some dogs are bigger lickers than others. Some dogs will lick their owner’s hands, lick faces, floors, their lips, and lap up every last morsel in their dishes while other dogs don’t lick as much. Some dogs will also lick the air.

Causes of Dog Keeps Licking Air

Below are some possible causes for dogs licking the air:

Behavioral Causes of a Dog Who Keeps Licking Air

  • Normal behavior
    • Dogs may lick the air when you scratch them in a place they generally can’t reach. This may mimic the sensation they get when licking or scratching themselves.
    • Flehmen response. This response can appear like a dog that is licking air. The typical flehmen response consists of the dog pushing up and curling back the upper lip and wrinkling their nose to expose the vomeronasal organ (also known as the Jacobson’s organ). This allows them to take in the full smell. Dogs most often do this response when they smell different odors such as urine, blood or feces.
    • Some dogs lick just because they like to. Some dogs will lick floors, faces, hands, legs and even the air. The sensation of licking may give some dogs comfort in some way.
  • Behavioral reasons
    • Some dogs will lick the air when they are confused or anxious. For example, some dogs with storm phobias may lick the air when they are nervous.
    • Some dogs will lick the air due to a behavioral problem such as a compulsive disorder. Compulsive behaviors are repetitive sequences of behavior that are fairly consistent in their presentation. They do not appear to serve any obvious purpose, although some argue that they function to reduce a dog’s stress level. Learn more about Compulsive Behavior in Dogs.

Medical Causes of a Dog Who Keeps Licking Air

Various health problems can cause a dog to constantly lick the air and can vary from minor issues to very serious issues. Air licking is most concerning when the air licking is new, excessive, persistent, or is associated with other symptoms such as seizures.

  • Seizures. Canine seizures can result in different types of behaviors or movements from the seizure. Some dogs that have seizures will lie on their sides paddling their legs as with full grand-mal seizures. Other dogs with partial seizures can result in more subtle signs that appear as lip licking, nose licking or air licking. Some dogs will actually look like they are trying to catch a bug. This can be caused by a partial seizure.
  • Nausea. Dogs with nausea may drool, lick their lips, or they may lick the air. This may occur just prior to the act of vomiting. Some dogs may also eat grass when they are nauseated. Learn more about nausea in dogs and vomiting in dogs.
  • Pain. Some dogs may lick the air when they experience pain. Pain can originate from the gastrointestinal tract such as the stomach or intestines. Possible problems causing gastrointestinal pain include a gastrointestinal foreign body, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcers of the stomach or intestine, or other causes of pain. Other signs of gastrointestinal problems are decreased appetite, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
  • Trauma. Any cut, puncture, abrasion or other trauma to the nose, face or mouth area can feel funny to your dog and can cause a dog to scratch, rub or lick his nose or lick at the air. Some dogs will also rub at their faces. It is also possible to notice a scab, puncture, abrasion or discharge and a foul odor if a wound becomes infected.
  • Foreign body. Some dogs with something stuck in their mouths may lick at the air or paw at the mouth. Common foreign bodies that occur in the mouth are bones and sticks.
  • Dental disease. A sign of dental disease in dogs can be not eating, a foul odor to the mouth (halitosis), and sometimes drooling, and licking the air, lips or their noses. As dental disease advances, plaque turns to tartar and bacteria can create gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) and tooth loss. As dental disease progresses, in very severe cases, teeth can abscess causing pain and the desire to lick. Signs of dental disease in dogs may include red inflamed gum, severe tartar, and pain.
  • Bites and stings. Any type of bite to the face or around the nose can cause a dog to lick the air as they try to comfort themselves. Bites may include those from insects such as spiders, horse flies, mosquitos, and/or a bee or wasp sting.
  • Skin problems. Skin problems that cause a dog to itch can cause them to lick the air when they are scratching themselves or when you scratch your dog. Dogs with allergies may also have ear infections or lick their paws. Most dogs with skin infections will have red inflamed skin.

What to Do if You See Dog Licking the Air

The best approach to a dog that is licking the air is to have your dog examined by your veterinarian. Because this behavior may not be constant, if possible, obtain a video of your dog’s behavior. Log how often it happens and for how long.

My Dog Keeps Licking and Swallowing

Have you ever wondered why your dog may lick and swallow? There are numerous reasons and some can have serious health consequences. This article contains information for dog owners looking into why their dog keeps licking and swallowing.

Some dogs tend to lick their lips more than others and most pet owners worry when the licking becomes excessive or is a new behavior. Dog licking and swallowing can be a symptom of a medical problem, behavioral problem, or a normal behavioral communication tool.

Causes of Dog Licking and Swallowing

Below are some possible causes for lip licking and swallowing in dogs:

Behavioral Causes of Dog Licking and Swallowing

  • Behavioral reasons
    • Some dogs will lick their lips when they are confused or maybe even a little frustrated. As a behavior, some behaviorists refer to dog lip licking as an “appeasement gesture”. Dogs will use their body to communicate they are the stressed or frightened. An appeasement gesture is a behavior that acts as a calming signal. Other appeasement gestures are yawning. An example of when a dog may lick his lips would be when a dog approaches another dog. The approached dog may avoid direct eye contact and lick his lips. This communicates to the other dog as to say, “Hi – I don’t want to fight”.
    • Dogs can lick lips if they are frustrated. For example, if a dog is being trained that doesn’t understand what is expected of them, they may lick their lips.
  • Normal behavior
    • Some dogs will lick their lips when their lips feel dry, a bug hits their lip or face, or something is stuck near their lip such as a piece of food or a blade of grass. The lip licking can be followed by swallowing.
    • Another normal cause for lip licking is when a dog is about ready to eat or anticipates eating. A normal physiologic response in anticipation of food is for the salivary glands to flow. This commonly causes lip licking followed by swallowing.

Medical causes of Dog Licking and Swallowing

The causes of dog licking and swallowing can be caused by various problems that vary from minor to serious. The most common problems involve issues related to nausea or oral pain.

  • Foreign body. A common cause of lip licking followed by swallowing is a foreign body. Some dogs can get something caught in their mouth, also known as a “foreign body”, that causes pain and discomfort, which commonly causes lip licking followed by swallowing. Dogs with a foreign body may also shake their heads and paw at their mouths. Common items that can be caught in the mouth can be a bone, rawhide, toy, or stick. Another cause can be a plant awn getting caught in the mouth such as a foxtail.
  • Dental disease. A sign of dental disease in dogs can be lip licking and swallowing. As dental disease advances, plaque turns to tartar. The build-up of tartar both above and below the gum line can gradually produce an environment for bacteria to grow that is destructive to the periodontal tissues (also known as periodontal disease). As dental disease progresses, dog owners may notice a foul odor from their dog’s mouth, significant accumulations of tartar, red inflamed gums, and in advanced cases they can see food and hair wrapped around infected teeth.
  • Nausea. One of the most common signs of lip licking followed by swallowing is nausea. Dogs with nausea will often hypersalivate which results in lip licking naturally followed by swallowing the saliva. Nausea commonly occurs just prior to the act of vomiting. Some dogs may drool and eat grass when they are nauseated. Learn more about nausea in dogs and vomiting in dogs.
  • Oral ulcers. Oral ulcerations can cause pain, lip licking, drooling and/or excessive swallowing. Ulcers can develop from oral infections, dental disease, systemic infections such as kidney disease or from ingestion of caustic substances. Caustic products that may cause oral ulcers include ingestion or oral exposure to laundry or dishwasher detergent pod toxicity or liquid potpourri.
  • Unpleasant tastes. Dogs that lick something different or unpleasant can develop a funny taste in their mouth and lick their lips. Common causes can be from licking or eating a different food, cleaning chemicals such as Windex® or Dawn®, or by licking poisonous toads such as the Marine or Cane toad and Sonoran Desert toad. Signs of toad venom toxicity include drooling, lip licking, and foaming at the mouth. Signs can progress quickly. Learn more about Toad venom toxicity.
  • Bites. Any type of bite to the face or around the lips can cause dog lip licking followed by swallowing. Bites can be from insects such as spiders, horse flies, mosquitos, and/or a bee or wasp stings. Snakebites can also occur around the face and mouth and cause pain, swelling, discharge, and/or lip licking.

What to Do if You See Dog Licking and Swallowing

The first thing to do if your dog is licking his or her lips and swallowing is to look at this relative to the behavior and determine if there is an underlying medical problem. Two important points include:

  • Evaluate your dog’s behavior. Is your dog nervous? Anxious? Fearful? Try to determine if the lip licking and swallowing is a message of anxiety. If your dog is cornered, in a situation that you believe may make him or her or uncomfortable, then give your dog some space. If a child or other person is making your dog nervous, remove them from close proximity to the dog. You can displace this behavior by offering your dog a toy, playing a game or going for a walk as an option. However, it is recommend that you avoid giving a dog with this behavior special attention if this is a behavioral message so as not to reinforce his anxiety or fear.
  • It is important to determine if the dog lip licking and swallowing is due to a medical problem. The best approach is to have your dog examined by your veterinarian. They will likely want to examine the skin around the face, lips, gums, teeth, and do a complete oral examination. They will look for any foreign body in the mouth, dental disease, and an oral ulceration. They will also want a detailed history of your dog’s eating patterns, food change, exposure to trash or toxins, overall appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and weight loss.

SPECIAL NOTE: If your dog is trying to vomit unsuccessfully – this could be a medical emergency called “bloat.” Please see your veterinarian immediately.

My Dog Keeps Licking His Lips — What’s Happening?

Have you ever wondered why your dog may lick his lips and then keep licking his lips? This article contains information for dog owners looking into why their dog is constantly licking their lips to the point it may seem to be excessive.

In general, some dogs tend to be bigger “lickers” than others. Some dogs lick their lips as well as their owner’s faces, hands, floors, doors and more. Some dogs will lick their bowls for seconds even after they are empty while other dogs walk away and don’t lick at all. There are dogs that also will even lick the air. On the other hand, some dogs rarely lick.

Licking and lip licking can be normal in some circumstances. Dogs will do it when they are bored, nervous, anxious, have something on their face or lips, or even when they have a dental problem or oral pain. The problem is when the lip licking becomes excessive or is caused by a medical problem.

What is Licking and Why Do Dogs Lick?

Let’s look at licking in general. Why do dogs lick?

  • Licking is a natural part of life starting with puppies being licked by their mothers when they are born. The licking stimulates breathing immediately after birth, removes fluids and blood, and creates a bond.
  • Licking is a normal part of grooming. The tongues of dogs are rough and licking helps to remove dirt and germs from their skin, fur and feet. It also helps dogs clean themselves after urinating and defecating in some cases. Minimizing odors is a natural protective instinct.
  • Licking can be a natural way to comfort oneself. For example, if we hurt our wrist, we may rub it. Dogs may lick at a wound or a sore area in an attempt to comfort that area. Physiologically, it may also increase circulation and aid wound healing if the licking is not excessive.
  • Licking can also be a way of getting attention. If a dog is licking your face for example, pet owners will often react. Depending on your response, you may be giving your dog positive reinforcement that encourages continued licking.
  • Other dogs lick…just because they like to. Some dogs enjoy the sensation of licking and find comfort in the sensation.

When is Licking a Problem?

Dogs that just like to lick and are not hurting anything may not be a problem. Some pet owners don’t mind. However, licking is a problem when it is excessive and causes harm or appears to be uncontrollable such as from a seizure disorder.

Below are some problems that can develop from or be from excessive licking.

Wound Problems

Wounds can cause dogs to lick. A wound can be infected and itch or a dog may instinctively want to keep the wound clean. A little is okay, but excessive licking can prevent wounds from healing. If a wound is treated with sutures, some dogs will lick out the sutures. Wounds around the face and mouth can cause excessive lip licking.

Lick Granuloma From Excessive Licking

Some dogs can create a wound by licking the same spot over and over. They can often create a lesion referred to as a lick granuloma or “acral lick dermatitis”. This compulsive repetitive behavior might be done out of boredom or anxiety. For some dogs, licking can comfort them in a similar way that sucking one’s thumb can comfort a child. The most common area for a lick granuloma to occur is on the front legs. Some dogs will lay and lick the same spot on their legs for hours.

Uncontrollable Lip Licking

Some dogs can suffer from a seizure disorder that appears as chomping at the mouth, biting at the air or even excessive and uncontrollable lip licking. This is most often a “focal seizure”. Learn more about Seizures in Dogs.

Oral Problems

Dogs that are nauseated or dehydrated can excessively lick their lips. Medical problems of dental disease, oral infections, suffering from trauma in or around the mouth, or having something stuck in their mouth (such as a stick or bone) can also have excessive lip licking. Dogs that lick the floor that has cleaning chemicals or soap can have a funny taste that can cause dogs to lick their lips.

How to Stop Your Dog From Lip Licking

The most important thing to do if your dog is excessively licking and it is a new behavior is to determine the underlying cause.

If your dog is licking excessively at a paw or wound, you can help to stop your dog from licking by using an e-collar. It is also important to understand why a pet is licking at the paw. Is there a wound? Is it infected? Does it hurt? Or is it a compulsive behavioral issue? But when a dog is licking its lips, an e-collar won’t work.