TRIUMPH & PHANTOM'S TIPS & TRICKS

Over the last several years Triumph and Phantom have had quite an education. They've learned from their own experiences, which unfortunately were sometimes quite unpleasant. On occasion they learned by observing other dogs and their humans, and by listening to many Kuvasz and dog stories. Information from books and articles, and surfing the Internet also taught them tips and tricks. They would like to pass along a few suggestions and anecdotes to other Kuvaszok and their people, with the hope that some of what they have learned and use will be a benefit.
  • I am one of the many Kuvasz who is VERY VERY SENSITIVE TO ANESTHETIC. While an anesthetic like Isoflurane gas can eliminate some of the risk, it is imperative your human knows and follows pre and post sedation instructions, knows your exact weight, and that the clinic staff is not only AWARE of KUVASZ SENSITIVITY, but actively demonstrates EXTRA CARE AND CONCERN. 
  • While we are on the topic of concern, do your Kuvasz have concerns, or do certain things upset them? If the answer is yes, you might be interested in this safe and natural way to calm them - Bach Flower Remedies. You can usually obtain these remedies and guides to their understanding and use at health or natural food stores.
  • While Phantom was off getting poked with needles and walking in water, I was trying to balance my yin and yang, and especially my qi. In the extraordinary book Four Paws Five Directions, A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs, you can learn about the five elements, meridians, vital essences, herbology, food therapy and even acupressure and massage techniques. Veterinarian Cheryl Schwartz will teach you how to treat literally every part of the Kuvasz body inside and out.
  • A lady we know says anyone who has a large dog and carpets, but doesn't have a steam cleaner or rug shampooer, is stupid. Every once in a while a nameless person here could be seen blotting rug areas with water soaked towels to prevent staining before the professionls could arrive. So I guess we know who falls into the stupid category. Although in his defence, it only took him a few years to catch on. He also realized after reading the book above, that Phantom and I seemed to invariably get sick around the same time of day - 5:30 am. So he walks us at 5:00 am.
  • I've always liked visiting the vet. That's not only because I'm an affable Kuvasz, but because when I was little I attended a puppy party at a veterinary clinic. Most of the pups there were the same age (16 weeks or so) and had their second round of innoculations. The people there with the pups gave me treats and so did the clinic staff. It was a good business and public relations promotion for the clinic, it was a good way to socialize the pups on a Sunday afternoon, and I've never been intimidated going to any vet clinic since. 
  • The largest wire dog crate available was my den when I was a little guy. It was a very cozy home for me until I was older and could be trusted not to get into mischief when left unsupervised. It seemed to move around the house depending on where the action was and where the people were during the day and night. Sometimes a blanket thrown over top made it nice and dark. That kennel is still here, and on occasion when it's set up for a visiting pooch I still like to go in and lie down. It is also a good place to rest if a doggie needs a place to be perfectly still when they are recuperating from a hurt or sickness.
  • Kuvasz are very furry dogs so you can't always see little growths and such right away. If you examine us thoroughly at least once a week, maybe while you are grooming us, you might detect a problem early and prevent future serious complications.
  • Until I was about 5 months old I was car sick every time I got into a vehicle including my very first time. I didn't find out until years later that a couple of spoonfuls of honey would have settled my stomach.
  • We shouldn't wear chokers and collars unless we are on leash, and especially not when we are left unattended, or when we are playing with other dogs. If we should snag them on something, or if another dog's tooth gets caught in a link, we can panic and strangle or seriously hurt ourselves.
  • Phantom and I have very comfortable polar fleece boots which we occasionally wear in the winter time. They have velcro straps that wrap around the top so they stay on, but even if they fall off it's pretty easy to see red in the snow. The boots protect our feet in the very cold weather, keep the ice from collecting in our pads, and our humans have been known to tape them on if we have made a mess by scratching too much someplace. They came from a man who races sled dogs and were very inexpensive.
  • I have always had problems - otitis externa with my ears. Many floppy eared dogs do. The lack of air circulation exacerbates pre-existing factors such as bacterial and yeast infections, parasitic infestations, allergic (especially to food) reactions, the presence of foreign bodies, and autoimmune disease. However my people check my ears regularly, and especially when I seem to be shaking my head and scratching frequently. They clean my ears weekly with a 50-50 combination of white vinegar and water, and the problems don't seem to appear quite so often. They made a little hole in the cap of the vinegar bottle and while I'm lying on my side they pour in the concoction. Then they put a cotton ball in to keep the fluid from running out, and massage my ear canal from the outside, almost like they are trying to push the wax from the bottom to the opening. It makes quite a squishy sound. Then they roll me over and do the other ear. After that I go outside and shake my head and make the cotton balls fly out 50 feet in opposite directions. A quick wipe with another cotton ball to clear out the residue, and I don't have any excuse not to hear them talking to me. Just like the nail clipping, tooth brushing, and all my other grooming requirements, they've done it since I was the size of a little roast. I objected then but couldn't do much about it because I was so little. But I'm used to it now and don't mind too much, in fact sometimes I even go to sleep when they are cleaning me.
  • A soccer ball inflated to about 90% capacity (so we can sometimes cheat and carry it using our teeth) makes a great toy for little pups and big pups. Sweatshirt type sleeves and the arms and legs from other discarded clothing can make pretty good tug of war material for 2 or more Kuvasz.
  • I'm a real chow hound and treat moocher. But anyone can take food or treats right out of my mouth. In fact when I was little Gregory ate the vegetables right out of my bowl while I was eating. Karen used to and still occasionally holds onto my rawhide bones while I'm chewing and even takes them away for awhile. Babies have given me some of their food and then taken it right out of my mouth. I don't mind because I've always received lots of praise when I don't react, and I know there will be lots of treats and food to come later.
  • When it's warm and we are on safari I get very thirsty. My humans bought a dromedary bag from a camping store and they bring along a frisbee to use as a drinking dish. Your people can also get water bottles and canteens from sporting goods stores. While we are on the topic of warm... NEVER EVER LEAVE A DOG IN A VEHICLE WHEN TEMPERATURES ARE HOT! Even with the window down a little, and even if it's "just for a minute", a car parked in the sun can turn into a deadly oven. Also please keep in mind that my feet and pads can burn if I walk on pavement or a similar surface on a hot day.
  • My Kuvaszok ancestors and I are reputed to possess extraordinary endurance and be able to run great distances. In part that is true, however you should be aware our natural Kuvasz trot is a gait which is probably about the same speed as a person would jog slowly. Moreover, even if we are healthy enough to train with you, we really shouldn't run distances before we are a year old, and you should take care not to always run with us on hard surfaces. Keep in mind that we can't tell you when we start to develop shin splints and other training related injuries, and most of the time we have high pain thresholds which could subsequently be to our detriment. And don't be too surprised if we run a mile or two with you and then just quit. We weren't carriage dogs like Dalmatians, and we don't always see the point to running aimlessly with you just for the sake of doing so.
  • Phantom would stay home even if the yard wasn't fenced, but I wouldn't. Almost every door and gate has to be modified to keep me from breaking free and roaming, no matter where I am. I use my teeth, my nose, my paws, my body weight, or whatever it takes to be free. I can climb, jump, and shapeshift through openings you would think only a mouse could. Even invisible fencing couldn't hold me! I just grit my teeth and ran through the momentary shock. So for the safety and welfare of your Kuvasz, please keep in mind they may be like me, and enjoy breaking free. This touring isn't always for social purposes either. Pet and working Kuvasz alike will often try to expand the territory they protect.
  • Sometimes Gregory gets quite annoyed with me when I don't come right away when called. And my dog language signals didn't work on him until after he read the book On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas. It's only a little book 33 pages long, but now he knows I yawn, or stop and sniff the grass, or walk in a curve toward him instead of directly, because I don't have any chill pills or tranquilizers to give him. This Norwegian lady's book, and her seminars all over the world, teach humans how and why dogs do some of the things they do using body gestures. He's also much more observant when we're around many other dogs now.
  • I was about 132 lbs for the first 4 years of my life. No one ever told Gregory I was overweight, and based on feel he didn't think I was. Nor did any of the many many veterinarians we saw in that time even hint at the fact. Then after he stopped feeding us dog food I lost weight. A lot of weight. Since then I've been 110 lbs and never more fit and energetic in my life. The vets agree, and admit they don't tell clients their dogs are fat because they don't want to offend them, and realize most aren't going to do anything about it anyway.
  • The rounded tips of moustache scissors make trimming hair around eyes, ears, and in fact everywhere less dangerous.
  • I really enjoyed running and playing. Unfortunately my back leg conformation is not very good, and I began suffering  rear end stiffness when I was only 5 months old. Then in December of 1997 when I was only 4 years old something happened in my left leg and I wasn't able to run and play for a long while. While at first glance it might seem some injury occurred at that time, it didn't. The severe limp and discomfort was the result of damage over time, and as a direct result of my very straight hip configuration and cow hocks. But as bleak as my situation appeared, there were some remedies available.
  • So you've just had some kind of knee surgery? Well make sure your person wraps and holds a towel or scarf under your abdomen so they can lift and take the weight off a girl's back legs when she squats to pee.
  • Although we Kuvasz grow to be quite large, we can run very fast and sometimes our reflexes get the better of us. So when I was very small I was taught an emergency command. Whenever I heard the word sit from my humans I stopped whatever I was doing and put my behind on the ground. Sometimes they weren't too concerned when I ignored some of the other words they taught me, but I absolutely had to obey that emergency word. They used it often, especially when I was young. I overheard them say it was easier to get me to sit than to come, especially if I was running in the opposite direction. Once they had my attention I would usually go to them when they called me.
  • Triumph may like visiting the vet but I don't! It wasn't such a bad place before Gregory left me for a whole day to be spayed at 8 months of age, and after that I disliked going into new buildings because I thought every one was a clinic. If your Kuvasz reacts the same way, you might consider visiting vet clinics regularly and especially when your dog isn't sick. When you are going by the vet's stop in and just weigh your pooch. Chat with the staff or people and pets in the waiting room. Give them treats to give your dog. Then those hospital places might not always be associated with sickness, pain, and being left with strangers.
  • A 50 foot nylon rope attached to my collar with a clasp that swiveled, gave my slow two legged companions a bit of chance in a foot race with me. They tied quadruple knots along the rope so it wouldn't slide through their hands or under their feet if they were trying to catch it. They would call me one time while holding the rope, and if I didn't go to them they could enforce their command with a tug.
  • STICKS ARE DANGEROUS! Running with a stick in your mouth can cause injury. Someone throwing a stick can hurt a dog too. Eating sticks can make Kuvasz sick or damage them internally.
  • A dog's teeth are not indestructible, and while some Kuvasz may have stronger teeth than others, chew hooves and very hard bones can break our teeth. Did you know that humans actually have more enamel on their teeth than dogs do? Human enamel is 4 millimeters thick while a dog's is only 1. That's because people's teeth are meant to grind while canines are supposed to tear their food. It is very important that you care for our teeth.
  • While we are on the subject of teeth.... some pet insurance companies like PetPlan for example, offer liability insurance as part of their coverage. Their optimum plan includes 2 million dollars in liability protection, while the allotted portion of the premium is apparently less than 2 dollars. Interestingly enough, they have never had to pay out any money on this portion of their coverage on behalf of any of their thousands of Canadian clients during their 12 years plus of operation. Do you suppose this is because people who get insurance coverage for their pets are more conscientious about having better behaved dogs? Or is it just luck? 
  • Puppy fur can be quite fine and delicate. So when my choker started a bald spot on my neck, I began to wear a mock turtle neck or dickie under it. These clothing articles can be many different materials, and can be worn as protection under Elizabethan collars after surgery as well.
  • It is relatively easy to teach a Kuvasz pup pet to poop and pee on command. Why would you want to you might ask? There are several reasons, including expediency during inclement weather and while travelling, when samples for the vet are necessary, or when one is restricted to short walks on leash after a surgery for example. You may also consider teaching your Kuvasz pup to bark on command. If you can turn them on, then you will likely also be able to turn them off
  • There are lots of different kinds of dog beds and pillows, but most of them are not so large that I can stretch out on them. Sometimes a human mattress can be just as good or better. If you put a plastic mattress cover under the sheet to protect it from the wet and dirt we drag in quite frequently, the bed will last a long time. You can also buy a baby crib mattress which doesn't take up quite as much space and is moisture and soil resistant.
  • I've always had quite an alpha personality even more than your average Kuvasz. One way that Gregory enforces his dominance over me is to pick me up. He has always lifted us and any other dogs in and out of the back of his truck. That's not just because he doesn't want us to hurt ourselves, but so we understand he is not only our friend but also our alpha. Dogs don't like to be off balance and not in control. Kuvasz in particular like to be in charge and control. But we don't fuss when he picks us up and thereby acknowledge that we don't mind him being in charge. On a couple of occasions it was lucky I was used to being picked up and even carried, because I was hurt and couldn't walk. 
  • Karen always taught us to take treats very carefully and politely. When we were very young she made us wait - which taught us patience, and made us understand we shouldn't reach for a snack. Then she would feed us a very very small portion from her lips. We had to be very gentle taking the treat, and not snap with our teeth, so we didn't make her yelp. As a result I whisper treats from human hands. Nonetheless Karen always shows children how to hold the treats in the palm of their hands so other doggies lick them off without using their teeth.
  • A long scarf, or bandana, or similar clothing can be used as a temporary muzzle in an emergency. An injured dog does not always know you are trying to help, so a loop around the muzzle and a loop and tie around the neck just below the ears can prevent a bite.
  • One day I kissed a man on on the cheek and 10 minutes later he had a rash. There is no pet dog or cat who is hypoallergenic. People can be allergic to the allergens in a pet's saliva and skin dander. The fact of the matter is that some humans out there are allergic to everything and anything. However usually allergic reactions are relative. In this case they are relative to the amount of allergen to which a person is exposed. The less fur and dander a dog produces and sheds, especially a big dog like a Kuvasz, the better. Unlike Poodles, Bichon Frises, and Schnauzers, we Kuvasz do shed, (a lot) so frequent grooming, proper nutrition to reduce dry skin, and even the use of topical humectants like Humilac can reduce allergen production. According to a local allergist it is not unusual for pet companions like Karen and Gregory to become partially desensitized to their own breed of dog or cat, but they may become more sensitive to others.
  • Have you made specific arrangements in your will for your Kuvasz in case something happens to you? Do you have a regular veterinarian for your Kuvasz? Does the clinic provide 24 hour emergency service? If not, you could maintain a relationship with the regular vet, but also introduce your Kuvasz and yourself to the staff at a facility which is always accessible. Then they will have a medical history and records in case a need arises, and will also be familiar to you. Does your dog's microchip, tag, or other identification include your vet's phone number or other specific contact information? Does your vet have written approval to administer medical attention to your dog if necessary? If you and your companion were both injured in a car accident for example, and you were unconscious, a vet should still be able to help your Kuvasz. The pre-existing waiver might also save your companion's life if she was separated from you and involved in an accident of some kind.
  • You should have your emergency phone numbers of all kinds, Kuvasz contacts included, in an easy to find location like the refrigerator. You don't want to be fumbling around in a panic looking for the Animal Poison Control 1-888-426-4435.
  • Is your Kuvasz in contact with many dogs at play areas, dog shows, or boarding kennels? It might be a good idea for her to have a bordatella shot. Triumph and I get a quick spray up our nose each spring. The protection lasts about 6 months, and while it is only effective against certain strains of kennel cough, in much the same way human flu shots work, it's better than nothing.
  • Years ago there was a tragic accident reported on the Internet by Kuvasz owners. They had just moved into a 20 year old house purchased in the southwestern United States. A happy 6 year old Kuvasz girl had a yard to play in and nice deck to lie under for protection from the noon day sun. One morning not long after they discovered her in the yard in severe distress and barely breathing. She died. It seems the deck had been treated with termite protection when the house was new, and although the product had been banned for years, its organ crippling ingredients never broke down. They had simply been washed from the deck into the dirt underneath. The pet dug and lay and even ate the dirt. A person couldn't even imagine this happening.
  • Our nails must be cut regularly. If they aren't, it can affect the way our foot lands, and even hurt us. You should start when you bring us home as babies. You don't need to take a lot off, in fact just the very tip is fine if you are concerned about cutting too short. And if you do cut too short, just touch the nail tip into a bar of soap and that will usually stop the bleeding. 

 
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