Shared Blog Post – (Declawing Cats) Still Common in the US, yet Banned in Several Countries – Why Is This Happening?

In this blog post from August 15th, 2017, veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker notes: “Declawing of cats is still legal in the U.S., and sadly, it’s still somewhat common, It’s important to understand that declawing is not nail removal, it’s the permanent amputation of bones in each of your cat’s toes, A recent study concluded that declawed cats have more pain and behavior issues than non-declawed cats, The study’s authors hope their results will encourage veterinarians to reconsider declawing cats, and There are many alternatives to declawing your cat, starting with providing appropriate scratching surfaces and training kitty to use them.” [Emphasis added]

To read the entire post, just click on the link – http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2017/08/15/declawing-de-toeing-cats.aspx?

Book Review – Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health by Kymythy Schultze

I believe that providing our pets with species-appropriate nutrition is one of the most important things we can do to help our pets live a long life, but also a high-quality, vital life. Sadly, due to lack of knowledge, misinformation spread by big pet food companies, or choosing our convenience over our pet’s health this does not always happen.

My wife and I have been eager students of pet nutrition long before we even knew we would enjoy careers in the pet care services industry. We had a dog with severe medical issues that were related to his diet ( FMIhttp://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition ) which caused us to devour everything we could learn from books, seminars, articles, people and more. We focused mostly on dogs at first then expanded to cats. When our newest cat, Boomer, developed nutritionally related health issues at a young age, we started looking for even more information on cats and nutrition. Like most things dog and cat, there is often less available about our feline friends.

Kymythy Schultze’s first book Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats has long been the book I recommend for clients that want to prepare a homemade diet for their pets. I like that it is short, simple, and easy to understand while at the same time being complete. When I heard about Kymythy’s latest book, Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health I immediately added it to my “To Read” pile. As has happened more than once, I am kicking myself for not putting this book on the top of the pile sooner.

By reading Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health, you will learn the how and why of feeding your cat for optimal health. Additionally, you will also learn about the relationship between veterinary schools, the veterinary community as a whole, and the big businesses that represent the vast majority of the pet food industry. The latter makes this book a “must read” for dog people in addition to cat lovers.

One of the things that I like best about Kymythy and her books is that they are based on common sense, something that seems to be disappearing from our world. For example, early on in the book, she states “A good diet for your cat is one that provides the correct nutrients, in the proper forms, that it needs to be healthy and happy. Plus, the regimen has to please you, too. If you’re uncomfortable with a particular way of feeding or if you don’t understand it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. How you feed your cat must fit into your personal comfort zone and be good for your cat as well.” Kymythy’s book provides the reader with expert advice on feeding a cat, but Kymythy recognizes that not everyone will have the resources to feed as she does and she makes that clear. She provides the reader with the information that they need, seldom provided by pet food companies or veterinarians, so that you can make an educated decision that will be in the best interests of both you and your cat. As she notes “The main goal here is to get some real food into your feline friend!

Kymythy’s recommendations certainly have merit. We recently interviewed her on The Woof Meow ShowFMIhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/07/31/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-kymythy-schultze-author-of-natural-nutrition-for-cats-the-path-to-purrfect-health/ ) where she told us that her most recent cat to cross the Rainbow Bridge lived to be thirty-two years old and that most of her cats lived into their mid-twenties. Kate and I were speechless for a few moments and those that know us, know that is a rarity. Kymythy obviously is on to something!

In Chapter 1, Kymythy starts by defining good health. She discusses the many health issues found in cat’s today (“Problems with skin, coat, parasites, teeth, weight, odor, digestion, kidney, thyroid, pancreas, diabetes, urinary, respiratory, and immune systems are not normal. They’re not signs of good health!”) which are all too often accepted as “normal” because they are becoming more and more prevalent. Then she discusses why what we feed our pets plays such a significant role in their health. Central to that theme is the importance of eating and feeding real food instead of processed products;  “As both humans and felines have strayed from eating fresh foods, both our species have suffered a huge increase in obesity, diabetes, allergies, cancer, behavior problems, general ill health, and more.

The book also discusses the anatomy and physiology of the cat and how that determines what food is biologically appropriate for them as a species. The cat is an obligatory carnivore which means that they MUST eat meat. Many of our cats who spend time outdoors routinely hunt, kill and consume what they have killed – preparing their meals just as nature intended. Mice and birds are a more natural source of nutrition for our cats than processed kibble which can be as much as 60% carbohydrates, something that the cat has no need for in their diet; “Even the National Research Council’s Subcommittee on Cat Nutrition states that “. . . no known dietary carbohydrate requirement exists for the cat . . .” Obesity is a major problem for both dogs and cats, and we all know the link between carbohydrates and obesity in humans. Pets are no different.

The cats need for water from the food that they eat is also addressed, something that cats do not get in sufficient quantities from dry food and treats. We also discussed this on The Woof Meow Show with Kymythy where she noted: “If your cat is going to a water bowl frequently it is likely they are not getting enough water in their food and may be dehydrated.” The cats instinctual need for water in their food is yet another example of why feeding fresh meat, or a quality canned food, at least as a supplement, is a better choice than only feeding your cat dry food.

In Chapter 4, Kymythy addresses pet kibble, cans, and the major pet food manufacturers. She discusses how pet food regulations are developed and how these regulations are, in her opinion, lacking. In reference to those that establish the regulations she states “The authors actually say, “Few nutritional requirements are known for the adult cat for maintenance or for pregnancy and lactation.” Kymythy then discusses how these commercial kibbles are tested, in a feeding trial where “Quality of life and longevity aren’t part of the test, and even a year-long feeding trial may not expose imbalances that take longer to affect a cat.”

If you are interested in pet food regulations and the scary underbelly of the pet food industry I would encourage you to watch the documentary Pet Fooled: A Look Inside A Questionable Industry ( FMI http://www.petfooled.com/  ).

Kymythy addresses what is in the bag in chapter six, explaining why “veterinarian recommended” on the bag is not as helpful as many assume. She reviews common ingredients used in cat food and tells you what to look for and more importantly what to avoid. As Kymythy states “One might think it reasonable to assume that the premium price of this brand of food and the fact that it’s sold through veterinarians would assure us of better-quality protein. But I suppose the lesson is: Don’t assume!

The concept of feeding our pets something that is not cooked is hard for some, especially veterinarians, to understand. In Chapter 7 Kymythy explains how cooking food for our pets, especially at high temperatures and pressures, can be detrimental. She states: “Research at the National Cancer Institute and John Hopkins University in the U.S. and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London, and other studies— including those conducted by experts in Japan and Europe— show that cooking meat with high temperatures creates chemicals that aren’t present when it’s raw. Seventeen different carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds develop that collectively are called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These HCAs interfere with the body’s genetic structure and are proven to cause cancer in animals. They’re specifically linked to cancer of the stomach, pancreas, colon, heart, and breast. The substances are even found in nursing youngsters, so we know they travel through breast milk.” She also cites a study by Dr. Paul Kouchakoff that examined the effect of cooked and raw food on the immune system; “After much research, he concluded that raw food was viewed by the immune system as “friendly,” and cooked food was viewed as dangerous.” Lastly, Kymythy discusses the 10-year study by Dr. Francis Pottenger that demonstrated that cats fed an entirely raw-food diet were vastly healthier than those fed a cooked diet.

She concludes Chapter 7 stating “It’s ironic, really, how all these years later, many cat lovers are actually still repeating this research by feeding cooked petfood products to their cats. And not surprisingly, many are seeing the same ill-health effects that Dr. Pottenger saw in his cooked-food cats. These people certainly don’t intend to hurt their animal friends, it’s just that the cooked-product companies are very large, powerful, and convincing in their marketing. So who’s to blame for our cats’ health problems?

In Chapter 8 Kymythy discusses responsibility and the fact that as our cat’s guardians, we are ultimately responsible for their health. She also discusses, as she did on The Woof Meow Show, many of her concerns about the pet food industry and the overly close relationship they have with veterinarians, especially veterinary schools. Kymythy notes in the book: “…when I was studying animal nutrition at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine a few years ago, only a couple of my professors weren’t paid employees of petfood companies.” Like Kymythy, I find this corporate bias in our educational system very alarming.

In our interview with Kymythy, she also talked about how little time was spent in her nutrition classes at Cornell learning about real food; whole unprocessed, food in its natural form. However, when one considers that most of these “nutrition classes” are taught by a pet food company employee and that those companies do not use real food in their product, I guess one should not be surprised, although I would hope everyone would be disappointed.

In Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health Kymythy also discusses the brilliant marketing strategies used by big pet food companies. What she says is so important I am quoting her below.

The biggest petfood companies hire brilliant marketers to sell their products. After all, what could be better than having experts (veterinarians) endorse your product? How did this come about? Well, one of the parent companies that’s become very involved with vets also makes toothpaste. Do you remember the old advertisement that boasted eight out of ten dentists recommend a particular brand? It was a brilliant campaign and put this firm at the top of toothpaste sales.

At the time, the company also had a very small petfood division they were about to sell, but an executive came forward with a great idea: If they could use the same tactic with this branch as they had with their toothpaste, they’d be equally successful. So they used the pharmaceutical industry’s practice of spending tons of money to woo doctors. In fact, a retired sales executive from the petfood company commented on why this marketing strategy works so well: “It’s just like taking drugs: You go to the doctor, and he prescribes something for you, and you don’t much question what the doctor says. It’s the same with animals.”

They know that the trust cat guardians have in vets is so strong that they’ll feed what they’re told without question. So the manufacturer spends a great deal of money enforcing that connection. In fact, other than universities, this company is the country’s largest employer of vets! They fund research and nutrition courses and professorships at veterinary colleges and offer a formal nutrition-certification program for technicians. They’ve also written a widely used textbook on animal nutrition that’s given free of charge to veterinary students, who also receive stipends and get products at zero or almost-zero charge.

This relationship doesn’t end after graduation. The corporation sends veterinarians to seminars on how to better sell their products, provides sales-goal-oriented promotions, gives them lots of promotional tools, and offers big discounts so that vets make more money on product sales.

Although not discussed in Kymythy’s book, as it is a recent development, a major pet food company is now purchasing veterinary clinics adding, even more, bias and pressure for the veterinarian, who will now be an employee of that company, to exclusively promote the company’s products. This direct financial relationship affects not only pet food but also vaccines. ( FMIhttp://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2017/06/25/pets-over-vaccination.aspx )

In Chapter 9, Kymythy discusses how she decided to feed her cats by making her food at home, instead of relying on any commercial product. As she points out, while some call feeding pets real food a fad, commercial pet food is a relatively new idea. For hundreds of years, people with dogs and cats fed their pet’s real food that they prepared themselves. Some in the veterinary community will argue that there is no proof that feeding a pet a raw diet or homemade diet is safe. Kymythy states: ”There’s no proof that feeding your cats a processed pet food is better for them than a properly prepared meal of fresh, species-appropriate food. And anyone who says cats are living longer today because of those processed products also has no proof. Certainly, a cat may live longer today if it’s not outside being hit by a car or attacked by another predator. But the cats of my grandmother’s day were frequently living well into their late 20s without benefit of processed products. Feeding real food is really just the longest used way of feeding cats.” The fact that no studies exist to support that feeding processed foods provides optimal nutrition are also made by veterinarians Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Barbara Royal in the documentary Pet Fooled: A Look Inside A Questionable Industry. ( FMI http://www.petfooled.com/  )

Kymythy concludes the book by discussing how you can start making food for your cat. “The C.A.T. diet— CatAppropriate and Tasty! It’s a simple combination of raw meat (muscle and organ), bone, and a few supplements (or “supps” as we call them at my house). The ingredients provide every known nutrient, and the meal is easy to prepare.” She discusses shopping for supplies, preparing the food and how to transition your cat to their new diet.

If you want to learn how you can make healthy, nutritious meals for your cat or if you just want to find out more about cat nutrition and the good and bad of the pet food industry, I highly recommend Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health by Kymythy Schultze

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Pet Nutrition – What Should I Feed My Pet?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/06/04/pet-nutrition-what-should-i-feed-my-pet/

What do you feed your dog?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/05/31/pet-nutrition-what-do-you-feed-your-dog/

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gushttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/03/pet-nutrition-some-myths-and-facts-part-1-my-story-with-gus/

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 2 – In the Spring 2017 issue of Maine DOG Magazine, Coming here soon!

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 3 – Look for this article in the Fall 2017 issue of Maine DOG Magazine, Coming here soon! –

Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/09/11/pet-nutrition-should-i-feed-my-pet-a-raw-diet/

Video – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton – A video of animal nutritionist, Dr. Richard Patton’s presentation, The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition, presented by Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, ME on April 28th, 2016. – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/09/10/pet-nutrition-the-science-and-dogma-of-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/23/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-changes-in-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-1/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/12/15/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-2/


Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Patton
http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/16/book-review-ruined-by-excess-perfected-by-lack-the-paradox-of-pet-nutrition-by-richard-patton/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/06/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-1/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/07/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/08/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-3/

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sensehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2012/05/04/nutrition-why-rotating-diets-makes-sense/

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2008/11/08/nutrition-determining-true-pet-food-costs/

Pet Nutrition – How Much Fat Is In Your Pet’s Food?  – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/12/pet-nutrition-how-much-fat-is-in-your-pets-food/

Pet Nutrition – New Zealand dog diet study a wake-up call for dog nutritionhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/05/19/pet-nutrition-new-zealand-dog-diet-study-a-wake-up-call-for-dog-nutrition/

Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Foodhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/14/pet-nutrition-vital-essentials-pet-food/

Shared Blog Post – FDA on a Witch Hunt Against Commercial Pet Food? A Little Spritz of This Makes Pet Food Far Saferhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/11/28/shared-blog-post-fda-on-a-witch-hunt-against-commercial-pet-food-a-little-spritz-of-this-makes-pet-food-far-safer/

Pet Nutrition – From Dr. Karen Becker – A Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Is Not Healthy For Your Dog or Cathttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/09/27/pet-nutrition-from-dr-karen-becker-a-vegetarian-or-vegan-diet-is-not-healthy-for-your-dog-or-cat/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Kymythy Schultze Author of Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/07/31/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-kymythy-schultze-author-of-natural-nutrition-for-cats-the-path-to-purrfect-health/

What do you feed your pets?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/22/podcast-encore-what-do-you-feed-your-pets/

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/03/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/

Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harringtonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/05/06/podcast-pet-fooled-a-look-inside-a-questionable-industry-with-kohl-harrington/

Books

Beginnings – Getting Your Dog and Cat Started on a Raw Diet by Melinda Miller and Honoring Your Cat’s Natural Diet by Terri Grow < Click here for a free download >

Feline Nutrition: Nutrition for the Optimum Health and Longevity of your Cat – Lynn Curtis

Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purr-fect Health – Kymythy Schultze

Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats – The Ultimate Diet – Kymythy Schultze

Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – Dr. Richard Patton

See Spot Live Longer – Steve Brown and Beth Taylor

The Truth About Pet Foods – Dr. Randy Wysong

Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet – Steve Brown

 

©31JUL17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Our Pets – In Memory of Tyler

Tyler joined our family on March 20th, 1996, about six months after we purchased Green Acres. His previous guardian was looking to place him in a new home, and we thought he would make a welcome addition to our family. We are not sure how old he was when he came to live with us but suspect that he was at least four. Tyler suddenly developed cancer in August of 2003, and while we kept him comfortable for as long as we could, we decided it was time to help him across the Rainbow Bridge on August 26th.

I have always tested as being “very allergic” to cats, so our initial plan was for Tyler to live in the store, where he could greet clients and serve as the official “mouse patrol.” Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, this did not last long. We quickly learned that Tyler was part retriever and lived by the motto, “If it is edible, eat it now, in mass quantities.” He had no compunction about ripping into the largest, most expensive bag of dog food for a little midnight snack. When this became an every night occurrence, we decided it was not economically viable to have Tyler “protect the food from mice.” As a result, he moved into the house with us; allergies be damned.

At the time, there were five adults in the house (Paula, me, Paula’s mom and my mom and dad) and three dogs (Shed, Gus, and Queen). While Paula and her mom had lived with cats before, it was a first for my parents and me. The three of us did not consider ourselves “cat people.” In fact, I would even go so far as to say that my father disliked cats. Tyler did his best to change that and started with the most unlikely subject, my dad.

Dad’s time with us in Maine was difficult. He was in the hospital and nursing home frequently. To my initial amazement, the pet he almost always asked about was Tyler. I still remember asking the nurses at EMMC if we could bring Tyler in to visit, and how happy dad was to see him. He snuggled up on the bed next to him, and the two of them were content as “two bugs in a rug.” I have no idea how Tyler converted dad, but I am very grateful for it. They were good buddies.

We quickly learned that if we wanted to sleep peacefully, we needed to close and latch our bedroom door. Tyler was banned from the bedroom because of my allergies and his desire to try and sleep on our heads. However, early every morning he would come knocking on the door, wanting breakfast. If the door were not latched, he would eventually get it to open, hop on the bed, and start head butting one of us to let us know he was ready for breakfast.

Tyler still liked visiting in the store, and we would occasionally allow him to do so, under supervision. We noticed how well Tyler did with the dogs, and for a couple of years, he would assist Kate and me with dog training classes. I can still remember the time Tyler sauntered through a room full of dogs, not the least bit threatened. There was a huge Great Dane, and he just sat in front of him, gave him “the look,” much like a General inspecting the troops, and then went on his way.

After my father and Paula’s mom had passed in the fall of 1996, Tyler spent lots of time with my mom. He was a great companion for her and gave mom someone to spend time with when Paula and I were working in the store. When Tyler was not on her lap, he was nearby, watching her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost a year after Tyler joined the family, an 8-week old Golden Retriever puppy named Tikken entered the equation. I do not know exactly how their relationship developed, but it was evident Tikken, and Tyler were fast friends. Whether sharing the love seat in the living room, playing or, enjoying a full body massage, they were frequent companions. I will never forget the time I came up to the house from the kennel and found Tyler lying on the couch as Tikken used her front paws to gently bat at his entire body. As strange as it may sound, they were both enjoying this activity. Up until the end, Tikken was around to give her friend kisses, to play, and to clean him as necessary. Tyler got along well with most dogs and enjoyed spending time with them, usually just relaxing.

Tyler was big on relaxing and felt comfortable enough in our home, co-populated with as many as five dogs, to rest anywhere. The arm of a love seat, the floor, boxes, and bags all made excellent spots for chilling out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As previously stated, when we moved to Maine I was not a “cat person. I had never felt a connection with a cat the same way that I had with dogs. Somewhere during the past couple of years, I am not sure exactly when that changed, and I realize now that I am a cat person. I enjoy their company, their antics, and the joy they bring.

Over the past several months, Tyler and I developed a ritual. Often, when I was working late at night, he would come down to my office, rub up against my legs once, and then settle down on Tikken’s bed, right behind my desk chair. He might just lie there watching me or drift off into a catnap. Often I would find myself watching him. During his naps, I got to witness first hand how cats dream and the strange noises they can make in their sleep. I guess one of the factors in my discovering I am a cat person was when I found myself missing Tyler’s company on the nights he chose not to join me in the office. My office is a sadder place without his presence.

Tyler Hanson passed into a peaceful sleep on Tuesday, August 26th. I know in my heart he has rejoined my father, Shed, and Crystal and is patiently awaiting the day when we will all be reunited. Tyler, thanks for brightening up our home and helping to teach me about the wonder of cats.

 

 

 

 

©20MAR17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

No Pain, No Force, & No Fear – AVSAB Adopts Position Statement on Positive Veterinary Care

(Updated 29APR17)

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has adopted a new position statement on positive veterinary care. This document emphasizes the importance of making visits to the veterinarian free of stress, anxiety, and fear. This statement outlines why fear-free veterinary visits are so important and provides guidelines for veterinary practices, as well as other pet care professionals, as to how they can make this happen. I believe that making the care and training of a pet free of pain, force, and fear is equally essential for animal shelters, boarding kennels, daycares, dog trainers, dog walkers, groomers, pet sitters, and rescue organizations, as it is for veterinarians and their staffs.

I encourage every pet parent/guardian/owner, whatever you call yourself, as well as every pet care professional to read and implement these guidelines. Please share this position statement with those that have pets and anyone that cares for your pet.

You can access the position statement at this link – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Positive-Veterinary-Care-Position-Statement-download.pdf

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care – <Click Here>

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs <Click Here>

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1 – <Click Here>

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The PPG – Part 2 – <Click Here>

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – A Veterinary Perspective – Part 3- <Click Here>

Shared Blog Post – Are You Failing Your Patients in This Major Way? – <Click Here>

Pet Behavior and Wellness – Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness – <Click Here>

Podcast – ENCORE: Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinic – <Click Here>

Canine Behavior – Myths and Facts – Part 1, Where do we get our knowledge about dogs? <Click Here>

Dog Training – How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ages – <Click Here>

Pet Care Services – Please Be Cautious When Choosing Who Cares For Your Pets – <Click Here>

Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stress – <Click Here>

Animal Welfare – Understanding Behavior; Why It Matters – <Click Here>

Pet Health and Wellness – Your Pet’s Behavioral Health Is As Important As Their Physical Well-Being – <Click Here>

Dogs – The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collar – <Click Here>

Web Sites

AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of animals.  <Click Here>

AVSAB Position Statement – Punishment Guidelines: The use of punishment for dealing with animal behavior problems. <Click Here>

 

©30DEC16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

What Is A Pet Behavior Consultant?

A pet behavior consultant is someone that is trained and credentialed in animal behavior. These specialists can help you understand an animal’s normal and abnormal behavior and whether not an animal would be appropriate for a particular role. They also specialize in assisting pets with behavioral problems, just as mental health professional’s work with people. Unlike an animal trainer that focuses on teaching an animal to offer a particular behavior when given a specific cue, behavior consultants typically work with animals exhibiting an undesirable behavior based on instinct and emotion.

Those working in pet behavior will typically be a member of one one more of the following organizations; the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), The Animal Behavior Society (ABS), and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB).

Founded in 2004, the IAABC is working to standardize the practice of companion animal behavior consulting. With over 1,000 members throughout the world, IAABC members are an excellent resource for or those with pets with behavioral issues. The IAABC credentials Dog, Cat, Parrot and Horse Consultants. Those credentialed by the IAABC must demonstrate competency in counseling skills and social systems assessment, behavioral science, a general knowledge of animal behavior, genetics, neuropsychology, ethology and species-specific knowledge of healthcare, nutrition, husbandry, and behavior. Those certified are required to accumulate continuing education units on a regular basis. These individuals focus on the use of behavior modification protocols to treat animals. You can find a list of IAABC behavior consultants at this website: http://iaabc.org/consultants

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) is a group of veterinarians and research scientists dedicated to improving the lives of animals and people through an understanding of animal behavior. AVSAB has published several important position statements on animal behavior. The membership of AVSAB is restricted to veterinarians and those that hold a Ph.D. in animal behavior or a related field. However, unlike the IAABC, the ABS or the ACVB, AVSAB does not offer a credential to its members that presupposes a level of expertise in the field of animal behavior. You can learn more about AVSAB at https://avsab.org/

The Animal Behavior Society (ABS) is a non-profit, 501(3)(c) professional organization dedicated to promoting education and research in the field of animal behavior. Members who work with clients and their animals are Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAAB). These individuals are credentialed by the Animal Behavior Society and typically have doctoral degrees in animal behavior or related fields. They focus on more challenging cases and the use of behavior modification protocols to treat animals. There are very few such individuals in the United States. You can find a list of Animal Behavior Society Certified Applied Animal Behavior Consultants at this website: http://certifiedanimalbehaviorist.com/members/

Veterinarians that specialize in animal behavior are credentialed by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists as a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (DACVB). These are veterinarians who have completed an approved residency program in veterinary behavior and have passed a national board examination in that discipline. A board-certified Veterinary Behaviorist specializes in clinical animal behavior and can diagnose and treat medical and behavioral problems, as well as prescribe medications to treat those problems. There are very few such individuals in the United States, most of them in larger cities, major universities or veterinary schools. You can find a list of veterinarians accredited by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists at this website: http://www.dacvb.org/about/member-directory/

Green Acres’ Don Hanson is an IAABC Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, and an Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant. Don is also a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). His BFRAP credential means that he has completed the required courses and examinations to be registered by the Dr. Edward Bach Foundation in the use of the Bach Flower Remedies with animals. You can review Don’s credentials at this link: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/about-the-owners/dons-credentials.html

 

©12DEC16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Shared Blog Post – Are You Failing Your Patients in This Major Way?

This post appeared on the blog of Dr. Andy Roark. Written by, veterinarian Dawn Crandell, her opening paragraph reads “There needs to be a shift in veterinary medicine, and it can’t happen too soon.  It isn’t about the medicine.  It is about the way we view our patients.  And it is all about behavior.” While this post is geared specifically towards veterinarians and their staffs, it is applicable to any of us in the pet care services industry as well as pet owners.

Dr. Crandell concludes her post by stating “The pervasive silent influence of the dominance mindset is getting in the way of us doing our jobs, of doing the best for our patients, of being the kind and caring veterinarians our youthful selves envisioned when we submitted our application to veterinary college.  Let’s be a collective voice and kick dominance to the curb.  Maya Angelou wisely says do the best you can until you know better.  Once you know better, do better.  When I graduated more than two and a half decades ago, we did not know better.  Now we do. Let’s all of us do better.”

It is so nice to see the world coming around and moving forward with a new, informed attitude on pet behavior.

If you are a pet care professional (veterinarian, vet tech, vet assistant, dog trainer, pet care technician, groomer, or shelter worker), read this article so you can do the best possible for the pets in your care.

If you are a pet parent, read this article so that you know what to look for and what to avoid in pet care professionals. – http://www.drandyroark.com/this-one-major-way-we-are-failing-our-patients/

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Pet Behavior and Wellness – Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellnesshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/28/pet-behavior-and-wellness-pet-behavior-as-an-essential-component-to-holistic-wellness/

Dog Training – How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ages – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/21/dog-training-how-science-and-reward-based-training-have-pulled-dog-training-out-of-the-dark-ages/

A Rescue Dogs Perspective on Dog Training – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/04/dog-training-a-rescue-dogs-perspective/

Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/01/canine-behavior-understanding-identifying-and-coping-with-canine-stress/

Dog Behavior – Dominance: Reality or Myth – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2) – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 1 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/02/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-1-knowledge-relationship-management-training/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 2 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/28/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-2/

Dog Training – What Is Clicker Training? – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2007/02/01/dog-training-what-is-clicker-training/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/boarding/what-is-pet-friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/training/position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/05/dogs-the-unintended-consequences-of-shock-collar/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

Canine Behavior: Myths and Facts

The Four Essentials to A Great Dog  

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 1

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 2

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 3

The Dominance and Alpha Myth

BOOKS

Dog Behavior

On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, Dogwise Publishing, 2006, An excellent book on understanding a dog’s body language. Includes descriptions of how you can use your own body language to better communicate with your dog.

Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet, John Bradshaw, Basic Books, 2011,

The Other End of the Leash – Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs,Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D, Ballantine Books, 2002, An information-packed, immensely readable book. In it you will learn how to have a better relationship with your dog through better communications. Dr. McConnell clearly explains the manners in which dogs and their people communicate.

For the Love of A Dog Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend, Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D, Ballantine Books, 2005, 2006, A superb review of emotions in both dogs and their people and how they bring us together and can rip us apart. Once again Dr. McConnell helps us to better understand our dogs and in doing so have the best possible relationship with them.

Dogs: A new Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution, Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, University of Chicago Press, 2001, An evolutionary biologist and dog lover, Coppinger outlines the likely process which resulted in the longstanding canine-human relationship.

Stress in Dogs, Martina Scholz and Clarissa von Reinhardt, Dogwise Publishing, 2007, This book outlines the physiology of stress in dogs, signs of stress, and how to make your dog’s life less stressful. It emphasizes that more activity and involvement in dog sports is often not the answer to reducing stress in dogs but can be a major contributing factor. This book is a must read for anyone with an anxious or hyper dog.

The Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson, James & Kenneth Publishers, 2005. An exciting book by an outstanding dog trainer and one of Don’s favorites. Donaldson makes a powerful case for thinking in terms of behavior modification rather than the older and more anthropomorphic dominance models of dog training. Includes an excellent section on operant conditioning. Winner of the Dog Writer Association of America’s “Best Behavior Book” award for 1997.

Dog Training – Basic

The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001. I have been reading Pat Miller’s articles in the Whole Dog Journalfor years and have loved everything she has written. She is a skilled and compassionate dog trainer who really knows how to communicate to dog owners through her writing. This book is a superb “basic dog book” for anyone with a dog, and I highly recommend it.

The Dog Whisperer, Paul Owens with Norma Eckroate, Adams Media Corp., 2007. This book emphasizes a compassionate, nonviolent approach to dog training. It offers great advice on building a relationship with your dog and shows you how to teach your dog all of the basics they need to be a great companion.

Don’t Shoot the Dog – The New Art of Teaching and Training (2ndedition), Karen Pryor, Bantam Books, 1999. A pioneering book using shaping to change behavior in animals – dogs, cats, even humans.

Cat Behavior & Training

Training Your Cat, Dr. Kersti Seksel, Hyland House Publishing, 1999. Written by an Australian veterinarian, this book is an excellent primer on cat behavior, care and training. While many people think cats cannot be trained, this book demonstrates exactly how easy training a cat can be.

 

©3DEC16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Pet Nutrition – Homemade Food for Your Pet

Pet Nutrition – Homemade Food for Your Pet

This post is a handout for Dr. Mark Hanks presentation Cooking for Your Pet given on Saturday, October 29th as part of Green Acres Kennel Shop’s fundraiser for The Green Gem Holistic Healing Oasis

Homemade food for your pet: Canine

One-on-One (Dr. Pitcairn)

2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

1 cup lean hamburger or similar

1 cup cooked kidney beans

1 tbsp. Healthy Powder

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp bone meal

10,000 IU Vit A and D capsule

400IU Vitamin E capsule

1 tsp salt or soy sauce (optional)

1 small clove fresh garlic (optional)

250kcal/cup 32% protein, 17% fat, 47% carbs

 

Green Turkey (Barbara Taylor-Laino)

3lbs ground turkey meat

1 egg

1 cup finely chopped raw seasonal produce

1/4 finely chopped fresh dark leafy greens

2 tbsp. bonemeal

2 tbsp. alfalfa powder

1 tsp powdered garlic

1 tsp kelp

1 tsp dulse

 

Healthy Pawsibilities Blend (Dr. Cathy Alinovi)

6 oz. beef liver

6 oz. beef kidney

6 oz. ground chicken

6 oz. ground beef

6 oz. ground turkey

2 tbsp. olive oil

12 oz. cauliflower

12 oz. broccoli

12 oz. carrots

12 oz. canned kidney beans

12 oz. pinto beans

Healthy powder—

2 cups nutritional yeast,

1 cup lecithin granules,

1/4 cup kelp powder,

1000 mg vitamin C

 

Homemade food for your pet: Feline

Mackerel Loaf (Dr. Pitcairn)

4 large eggs

3 cups whole milk

3 tbsp. healthy powder

1 1/2 tsp bone meal

100 IU Vitamin E

1 tbsp. fresh vegetables

500mg taurine supplement

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2-15 oz. cans of mackerel

6 slices whole wheat bread, crumbled

Ground chicken and eggs dinner (Cynthia Cherry)

4 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs

7 oz. turkey or chicken livers

14 oz. raw chicken heart

1 cup bottled spring water

4 large egg yolks

4000 mg wild salmon oil

200mg vitamin B complex

200 I U Vitamin E supplement

2000 mg taurine

1tbsp psyllium husk

 

(Healthy Cat Food Cookbook)

Pet Behavior and Wellness – Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness

This post is a handout for my presentation Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness given on Saturday, October 29th as part of Green Acres Kennel Shop’s fundraiser for The Green Gem Holistic Healing Oasis.

pet-behavior-as-an-essential-component-to-holistic-wellness-draft-23oct16

 

What is behavior? The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines behavior as:

  • the way a person or animal acts or behaves
  • anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation

In August of 2015, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) addressed behavior-problems-are-a-major-issuethe issue of behavior problems in pets with the publication of the AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines. This groundbreaking document reports that “Behavioral problems affect more dogs and cats than any other medical condition and are one of the most common causes of euthanasia, relinquishment, or abandonment of pets.” The report recommends that a behavioral wellness assessment should be part of every pet’s visit to the vet.

The task force that wrote the AAHA Guidelines also looked at the question “Why have behavior issues become the number one issue for our pets?” According to the AAHA guidelines, it is because of:

  • “Mistaken or misinformed beliefs…..” about canine behavior held by Breeders, Rescues and Shelters, Pet Care Professionals (Boarding Kennels and Daycares, Dog Trainers, Dog Walkers, Groomers, Pet Sitters, and Veterinarians), and Pet Owners
  • The Use of Aversive Training Techniques

While not cited in the guidelines, studies suggest only 5% of dog owners ever attend a dog training class, and I suspect that also plays a factor in the frequency of behavior problems. A well-designed dog training class will cover much more than just how to train the dog. Our classes at Green Acres discuss husbandry issues, health and wellness, ethology, animal learning, and normal and abnormal behaviors. As a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and Certified Professional Dog Trainer, I work with clients on both training and behavioral issues. Most of the clients that I see for behavioral issues did not take any dog training classes and may not have spent any time training the dog. I see very few clients for behavioral matters when the dogs and their people have been through at least one training class taught by a professional.

knowledge-1The AAHA Guidelines suggest that the some of the “knowledge” we have about pet behavior may be more myth than fact while some of it is just plain erroneous. This antiquated mythology may be detrimental to our pet’s well-being and our relationship with our pet.

So, let’s look at where people acquire knowledge about their pets. When I ask people this question, typical responses include; books, the breeder, a dog trainer, a family member, a friend, the internet, the shelter or rescue, or my veterinarian.

Not typically mentioned in the list is the societal influence of what we have knowledge-2learned about pets, especially dogs, through the mass media. Many of us had our first exposure to dogs through characters like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Eddie, and Wishbone. We were probably exposed to these fictional dogs through TV shows, movies, books and sometimes all of the above. However, whether it was a book, movie, television show or comic book, it was a marvelous, heart-wrenching piece of fiction. Did it causes us to like dogs? Most likely it did, however, what these stories tell us about dog behavior is not real. As for cats, there is not as much “hero worship” in movies, books, and TV. When cats are portrayed in a movie, they are often the villain.

knowledge-3Personally, much of what I first learned about dogs was based on these two popular books written back in the 70’s. When we brought our Cairn Terrier puppy home, we purchased copies of How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend by the Monks of New Skete and Mother Knows Best by Carol Lea Benjamin. These were two of the most highly recommended books at the time, and both authors took the position that the dog is a descendant of a wolf and that we as its “parent” should teach it, or train it, just as a mother wolf would teach or train their offspring. Sadly, that often involved lots of intimidation, fear, and pain. Even sadder, these recommendations were not made based on any sound science. To this day I regret how following the recommendations in these books damaged the relationship between Gus and me. I cannot recommend these two books under any circumstances, expect as examples of what not to do.

I am pleased to say that there are now many books that I can recommend. They knowledge-4are based on sound science and respect for dogs. Five books that I believe belong in every dog aficionados library are: On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas, Dog Sense by John Bradshaw, The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D, For the Love of A Dog by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D, and Dogs by Lorna Coppinger and Raymond Coppinger. My training colleagues will probably want to know why I have not included a training specific book in my recommendations. My answer is that basic training information will typically be provided by any professional trainer teaching private or group classes and I believe that pet parents/owners should take their dog to classes taught by professionals if they want the best for their dogs. However, for those that want a book on the topic, I recommend The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller.

knowledge-5I have not forgotten cats. Unfortunately, cats have been studied much less than dogs and have typically been easier to acclimate into our lives. As a result, not as much as been written about them, especially their behavior. However, if you ask me to recommend a book on cats, the book I recommend will be Cat Sense by John Bradshaw.

knowledge-6Family members, friends and co-workers are often listed as a source of information about pets, often because they have had pets themselves. Some of these folks keep up with the latest information, but often they take the approach that is expressed in this slide; “I have had pets for over 40 years, and this is the way we have always done it!” implying there is no need to change. Since this person is often an authority figure in our eyes, we tend to follow their advice blindly. Recently I had a client tell me that their boss had suggested that they take a switch to their dog when the dog was whining. Even sadder is that I still occasionally have clients tell me that their breeder or even a member of their veterinary team has recommended hitting the dog with a newspaper for urinating in the house. It takes a long time for erroneous information and bad ideas to go away, so be a critical thinker when people suggest something and do not feel compelled to follow their advice.

knowledge-7Today, many people look to television, “Reality TV” in particular, for information. I am not sure why they make this choice, other than “it is easy” and that it is also allegedly entertaining. The fact that it appears under the auspices of National Geographic also frankly gives it an aura of credibility that is not deserved. As I address some of the specific harmful myths about dog behavior still being perpetuated, you will find that these are the things people are “learning” on this particular show.

Just to be fair, I am not a fan of most reality TV shows. They often present complex behavioral issues and then show them being “fixed” in a week’s time. I get it. People want an easy fix. Easy fixes are seldom reality with behavioral problems. When these same shows recommend things that the AAHA Guidelines specifically cite as the reason for behavior problems, I am going to advise you to turn them off.

Last on my list is the internet. In the last twenty years, the internet has become knowledge-8the first choice of information for many. Earlier in this article, I shared a definition from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. I love this easy access to valuable information, but as the State Farm Insurance commercial illustrated in this slide has demonstrated so well is that not all information on the internet is reliable information. Just because it is on the internet does not mean that it is true. Just as the internet has made information more accessible, it has also made the dissemination of inaccurate information easier. Be a critical thinker.

I am now going to address some of the most egregious myths about both dog and cat behavior. This will not be a complete discussion of the topic but will be a start. For those of you that want to know more (Good for you!!) I will list recommended resources at the end of this article where you can do just that.

This idea that dogs are the same as wolves is the big lie on which many of these dogs-are-wolvesother myths have been based. The fact is the wolf, coyote, and the domestic dog did have a common ancestor 9,000 to 34,000 years ago. However, that ancestor has been extinct for centuries, and the wolf, coyote, and domestic dog have each evolved to fit a different ecological niche. While biologically they can interbreed, behaviorally they are very different.

dogs-are-not-wolvesWolves do everything they can to avoid humans, having an almost instinctual aversion to us. This is easy to understand since humans have been trying to exterminate wolves as a species for thousands of years. At the same time, most dogs are drawn to humans as long as we treat them kindly. This attraction has much to do with how the domestic dog evolved. The best theory on the domestication of the dog was developed by Lorna and Ray Coppinger and is discussed in their book Dogs. The domestic dogs came about around the same time that humans shed their hunter-gather ways and settled into villages and developed agriculture. Since we were no longer on the move, we could not just walk away from all of the refuse our wasteful species creates, so some early person invented the concept of the village dump. The least fearful wolves noted this development and started feasting at the dump as the humans slept. Why go out on a dangerous hunt where you might not find something or could get maimed or killed, when you could feast on the waste of humankind. Over thousands of years these wolves evolved into the domestic dog, basically domesticating themselves.  In fact, feral populations of dogs can still be found in many places throughout the world, often around the city dump.

Since many people erroneously believed that dogs are wolves, they also assumeddogs-are-pack-animals that dogs were pack animals. A wolf pack consists of a breeding pair of wolves and often multiple generations of offspring, working together as a family, to survive and to pass on their genes. Both parents, as well as older siblings, play a role in raising the young. For male domestic dogs, procreation is all about a one night stand. In feral groups of dogs, the male plays no role in raising the young and usually is not seen again. A group of dogs does not resemble the tight-knit relationship of a pack in any way.

Dogs are social animals, and when they live ferally, they may form loose, dogs-are-not-pack-animalstemporary associations with a few other dogs. Two or more dogs may occasionally hang out together, but they do NOT live in close family groups like wolves. While many of us have multiple dogs living in our homes, they also do not have the tight-knit family connection and evolutionary drive to keep the family genes alive. That may be one of the reasons it is not always possible to get a group of dogs to live together peacefully. I have lived with a variety of multiple dog scenarios, and I can only recall two dogs that enjoyed one another’s company on a regular basis.

i-must-be-alphaAlso out of all this wolf nonsense came the doctrinaire belief that to keep order and to be able to train my dogs that one must be dominant, or that one must be the “Alpha.” Dominance is not only an erroneous understanding of the dog-human relationship, but it is also counterproductive to a harmonious relationship with our dog. Trying to be dominant may cause aggression.

The two books I mentioned previously, How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend by the Monks of New Skete and Mother Knows Best by Carol Lea Benjamin, bought into the Alpha concept big time. In my opinion, this is the myth that has done the greatest harm to dogs. The idea that we must be the Alpha is responsible for training methods and tools based on force, pain, intimidation, and fear. Which is why, in the AAHA guidelines, the American Animal Hospital Association specifically tells veterinarians to avoid recommending clients to trainers that use the dominance model of training.

Most people get a dog to be their companion. Why would we want to use fear, force, and pain to nurture a relationship with a friend?

If you want detailed information on the dominance myth, with references to the scientific literature, read http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

Directly associated with the idea that one must be dominant over a dog was the you-need-aversivespromotion of aversive tools and methods designed to compel and intimidate the dog. These tools included; squirt bottles, choke collars, prong collars, citronella collars, shock collars, the Monks of New Skete’s infamous alpha roll and others. Some trainers and books even went so far as to recommend beating a dog or even almost drowning a dog for digging.

aversives-have-no-placeThe 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines opposes the use of aversives.

This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior.”

The fact is, dogs respond well to a kind and trustworthy leader skilled in the dogs-respond-well-to-leadershipscience of reward-based training. Even children, with adult supervision, can take part in training when food rewards are used.

For reasons known only to them, the Monks of New Skete stressed that a dog should work just to please us and not for food. The fact is, rewards work very well for training almost all species of animals. When it comes to dogs, food has more value as a reinforcer than either praise or touch, as confirmed by a study published in the Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior in July of 2012.

dogs-want-to-pleaseI hear students say it, I see it all over the internet, and I get why people might want to believe that dogs naturally want to please us. Unfortunately, it is just not true. Put your logical hats on and ask yourself this; “If dogs naturally want to please us, why are behavior problems the number one problem facing dogs and dog owners? Why do dog trainers and dog behavior consultants even exist? The fact is, dogs are like every other living thing on this planet, they do certain things because it benefits their existence.

Now I will agree that most dogs, not all, have an affinity for people. They enjoy dogs-have-an-affinity-for-peopleour company, seek us out, and have an uncanny ability to read us and behave accordingly. In fact, studies suggest that dogs read us better than wolves, the species closest to the dog, and chimpanzees, the species closest to humans. This ability to read humans probably has much to do with how dogs evolved, hanging around humans and observing our behaviors and signals that indicate when we are “safe” versus “dangerous.”

There are many other myths about canine behavior, but due to our limited time I have only covered some of them today. Subscribe to my blog http://www.words-woofs-meows.com and you will be notified when I post new articles.

so-what-about-catsSo what about cats? I think we would all agree that they do have behavioral issues. Like any animal, they can be afraid, angry, anxious and depressed. For whatever reasons people are more likely to live with a cat with behavioral issues than they are with a dog. Also, cats have been studied much less than dogs, so we do not know as much about them. However, there are some misconceptions about feline behavior that I would like to address today.

Many see the “domestic” cat as being independent to the point of being anti-cats-are-antisocialsocial. Compared to most dogs, cats are less gregarious, but there are some very good reasons for that behavior. Like puppies, kittens have a critical socialization period where they are more likely to be accepting of novel stimuli; however, this period is over before a kitten is eight weeks of age. Unless the breeder, humane society, or person with a box full of kittens has been actively and appropriately socializing those kittens, as adult cats they will most likely be fearful or at least suspicious of anything that they have not experienced before eight weeks of age.

We must also recognize that cats have been persecuted by humans for centuries, and I suspect we all have at least a few people in our lives who have stated: “I hate cats!”

cats-are-commensalistsLastly, although we consider the cat to be domesticated, animal scientists would suggest that is not the case. Feral colonies of cats are abundant throughout the world, and they survive well on their own. Cats are just not as dependent on us as dogs, which is why they are classified as commensalists; a species that derives benefits from living with another species but does not cause it harm.

Unlike their wild ancestor’s, cats are highly social with one another, and female cats-are-highly-socialcats that are related will often live in social groups and may even raise one another’s young. However, males are excluded from these groups as they would typically kill the kittens if given the opportunity. As a result, the males live in less affiliated social groups, away from the females.

cats-are-territorialCats are very territorial, both outdoors and indoors and with known and unknown cats. Litter box issues, the most common behavioral complaint with cats, can be caused by a cat guarding and denying access to the litterbox or a new outdoor cat moving into the neighborhood. Typical behavioral responses to territorial issues include; fighting, urine spraying, urine marking, fecal marking, scratching, and scent marking.

Most cats will live longer if they are kept indoors and not allowed to go outside; cats-are-not-better-off-indooorshowever, a cat who is not allowed to go outdoors is not necessarily living a better life than those who live indoors and out. The dog and cat are both predatory creatures, but the cat, because it is less domesticated, typically has stronger predatory instincts than most dogs. They still have a very instinctual need to hunt and if given the option, would be highly mobile, traveling as much as six miles per day.

Brambell’s five freedoms describe the basic needs we must meet to ensure an animals basic welfare, and one of those freedoms is the ability to express normal behaviors. Hunting, killing, and consuming small rodents is a normal behavior for a cat. When we deny that behavior, it may cause other behavioral issues.

bhx-driven-by-emotionBehavioral issues are usually driven by emotion. Whether your pet is displaying aggression, hyperactivity, fatigue, irritability, or a loss of interest in life, there will usually be an underlying emotion such as fear, anger, grief, frustration, or depression behind the behavior. Training, teaching a dog to sit or stay, does not typically change emotions and can, in fact, make a negative emotional response worse. For example, is your dog likely to feel better or worse if they are afraid of men in beards and you make your dog sit and stay next to you while you have a conversation with a bearded man? I suspect they will feel trapped and more fearful.

Now while you may believe that there is no reason for your dog to fear the bearded man, that DOES NOT MATTER! While your dog’s response may seem irrational to you, it is not irrational to them.

Some pet guardians insist that their pet MUST like all people. I understand why a pets-like-peopleperson may want that response, but is that a realistic expectation? If we are honest with ourselves, most of us would admit that we do not like and enjoy the company of every other human on the planet. Is it fair to ask that of our pets?

Equally problematic are the people who insist that they “love all animals” and that all animals love them. These folks then try to force their “love” on an animal and will not stop until you ask them to, and sometimes even then they continue. The fact is not all pets are going to like all people, and there is nothing we can do but to accept that.

What a wonderful world it would be if your dog liked all other dogs and all other dogs liked your dog. Moreover, it would be even better if all cats liked all cats, and dogs and cats all enjoyed one another’s company. While we are at it, let’s add mice and chickens to the dog and cat Kumbaya moment. Is this a realistic expectation? We all know that is not realistic.

pets-like-petsI have lived in a multi-pet household for over twenty years with a total of eight dogs and six cats. I had two dogs that, in my opinion, enjoyed one another’s company, two cats that had frequent positive social interactions, and I had a dog and a cat that had a “relationship.” However, in all those cases there were always times when the “friends” were not friends. In most cases, most of my pets had no interest in the other pets.

When we bring a pet into a home with existing pets, we cannot guarantee it will work out, and sometimes the kindest thing we can do is to rehome the newest pet. We introduced a new dog to our family that had to be rehomed because she was going to kill one of our other dogs.

I think it is great that people rescue pets; however, and each situation is different, I do believe that a home, and by “home” I mean more than the physical environment, has a maximum carrying capacity for pets. When you exceed that capacity, you start to see behavioral problems. My wife and I have intentionally downsized or furry family so that we can make sure each pet has the best life we can provide.

So, if you accept that your pet’s behavioral health is an essential component to seek-knowledgetheir overall health and wellness, what can you do? Since lack of knowledge or erroneous knowledge is a primary reason for behavioral issues with pets, continue to seek knowledge. Be open-minded and willing to let some of those old notions, like dominance, drift away. Be a critical thinker. Make sure what you are learning makes sense and feels right.

seek-help-earlyIf you have behavioral concerns with your pet, seek professional help early. The longer these problems continue, the longer they will take to resolve. The probability of satisfactorily changing a behavior also decreases the longer it occurs, as many of these undesirable behaviors are self-rewarding.

Many behavioral problems can be the result of medical issues.  Seek medical seek-vet-adviceadvice from trained veterinary professionals to rule out medical issues first. If there is an underlying medical issue, a behavior specialist may be of limited help. Discuss your pet’s behavior, good or bad, with your veterinarian at EVERY visit. Changes in behavior can be an early indicator of other health issues.

Make sure that your veterinary team meets or exceeds the standards set in the American Animal Hospital Association AAHA 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines and that they will work with the behavioral professional you choose. Also, make sure that your veterinary team does not use or recommend aversives.

Avoid seeking veterinary advice from Google, breeders, family members, friends, or co-workers.

seek-bhx-adviceSeek advice from trained behavioral professionals not Google, breeders, family members, friends, or co-workers. Pet training and behavioral consulting is an unregulated profession, so you need to choose your caregiver wisely. I only refer to those credentialed by the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). Also, make sure that your behavioral consultant meets or exceeds the standards set in the Position Statements of The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and the American Animal Hospital Association AAHA 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines.

Make sure that your behavioral consultant will work with the veterinary professional you choose and does not use or recommend aversives.

Reject the use of ANY and ALL aversives and choose professionals that do so as well.

Aversives may stop behavior temporarily, but they do not resolve the underlying reject-aversivescause of the behavior nor do they teach the pet the behavior we want instead. Aversives impair learning and often cause the behavior to become worse. They can also damage the bond between you and your pet.

train-your-dogAs a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Certified Dog Behavior Consultant I work with a wide variety of people and their dogs. They might seek out my advice on what to look for in a dog or enroll in one of our training classes to learn how to effectively and humanely train their dog in a fun manner. In some cases, they come to me because they need help with a dog with separation anxiety or aggression issues. In almost all of the latter cases, those dogs have had little or no training.

If you get a dog, invest the time in taking them to at least a Puppy Headstart and Basic Manners training class. You will not regret it.

Thank you for your time today. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at Green Acres Kennel Shop (207) 945-6841 or email me at donh@greenacreskennel.com

gaks-pet-friendly

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Dog Training – How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ages – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/21/dog-training-how-science-and-reward-based-training-have-pulled-dog-training-out-of-the-dark-ages/

A Rescue Dogs Perspective on Dog Training –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/04/dog-training-a-rescue-dogs-perspective/

Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/01/canine-behavior-understanding-identifying-and-coping-with-canine-stress/

Dog Behavior – Dominance: Reality or Myth –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2) –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 1 –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/02/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-1-knowledge-relationship-management-training/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 2 –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/28/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-2/

Dog Training – What Is Clicker Training? –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2007/02/01/dog-training-what-is-clicker-training/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/boarding/what-is-pet-friendly

 Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/training/position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/05/dogs-the-unintended-consequences-of-shock-collar/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

Canine Behavior: Myths and Facts

The Four Essentials to A Great Dog  

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 1

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 2

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 3

The Dominance and Alpha Myth

Books

Dog Behavior

On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, Dogwise Publishing, 2006, An excellent book on understanding a dog’s body language. Includes descriptions of how you can use your own body language to better communicate with your dog.

Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet, John Bradshaw, Basic Books, 2011,

The Other End of the Leash – Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs,Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D, Ballantine Books, 2002, An information-packed, immensely readable book. In it you will learn how to have a better relationship with your dog through better communications. Dr. McConnell clearly explains the manners in which dogs and their people communicate.

For the Love of A Dog Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend, Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D, Ballantine Books, 2005, 2006, A superb review of emotions in both dogs and their people and how they bring us together and can rip us apart. Once again Dr. McConnell helps us to better understand our dogs and in doing so have the best possible relationship with them.

Dogs: A new Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution, Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, University of Chicago Press, 2001, An evolutionary biologist and dog lover, Coppinger outlines the likely process which resulted in the longstanding canine-human relationship.

Stress in Dogs, Martina Scholz and Clarissa von Reinhardt, Dogwise Publishing, 2007, This book outlines the physiology of stress in dogs, signs of stress, and how to make your dog’s life less stressful. It emphasizes that more activity and involvement in dog sports is often not the answer to reducing stress in dogs but can be a major contributing factor. This book is a must read for anyone with an anxious or hyper dog.

The Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson, James & Kenneth Publishers, 2005. An exciting book by an outstanding dog trainer and one of Don’s favorites. Donaldson makes a powerful case for thinking in terms of behavior modification rather than the older and more anthropomorphic dominance models of dog training. Includes an excellent section on operant conditioning. Winner of the Dog Writer Association of America’s “Best Behavior Book” award for 1997.

Dog Training – Basic

The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001. I have been reading Pat Miller’s articles in the Whole Dog Journal for years and have loved everything she has written. She is a skilled and compassionate dog trainer who really knows how to communicate to dog owners through her writing. This book is a superb “basic dog book” for anyone with a dog, and I highly recommend it.

The Dog Whisperer, Paul Owens with Norma Eckroate, Adams Media Corp., 2007. This book emphasizes a compassionate, nonviolent approach to dog training. It offers great advice on building a relationship with your dog and shows you how to teach your dog all of the basics they need to be a great companion.

Don’t Shoot the Dog – The New Art of Teaching and Training (2nd edition), Karen Pryor, Bantam Books, 1999. A pioneering book using shaping to change behavior in animals – dogs, cats, even humans.

Cat Behavior & Training

Training Your Cat, Dr. Kersti Seksel, Hyland House Publishing, 1999. Written by an Australian veterinarian, this book is an excellent primer on cat behavior, care and training. While many people think cats cannot be trained, this book demonstrates exactly how easy training a cat can be.

______________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©26-Oct-16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy)

Podcast – Listener Questions No. 26 All About Cats with Dr. Mike McCaw from Veazie Veterinary Clinic

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22oct16-listener-questions-no26-all-about-cats-mike-mccaw-400x400In this episode of The Woof Meow Show from October 22nd, 2016 Kate, Don and Dr. Mike McCaw from the Veazie Veterinary Clinic answer listener questions about cats. Questions we address are: How many kittens are in the typical cat letter?,  How old should kittens be before you can handle them and play with them?, Do all indoor cats need to have a Rabies shot?, If I live in a rural area is it okay to let my cat outdoors? How can I help an outdoor cat learn to like being indoors?, What is it with cats and bags and boxes?, How big of a deal is teeth grinding with cats?, Why does my cat always follow me into the bathroom?, Why do some cats play in their water dishes? How can I keep my plants safe from my cats?, When should I be concerned about my senior cat’s mobility and pain levels? We have a cat door, and my cat brings in “feathered gifts,” what can I do? and cats and holiday ribbon – help!?!

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©22OCT16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>