Canine Behavior – ADAPTIL™/DAP COMFORTZONE™

Adaptil™, formerly labeled as ComfortZone™ with D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone), is a product that can be useful in helping reduce a dogs’ anxiety. It looks much like an air freshener that you plug into a wall outlet. When plugged in, it releases dog appeasing pheromone into the air.

Dog appeasing pheromone is a substance produced by a mother dog 3 to 5 days after giving birth to a litter of puppies. Scientists believe this pheromone enhances the attachment between the puppies and their mother and also helps reassure the puppies by providing them with comfort and emotional stability. Research has demonstrated that the pheromone is also effective on adult dogs, facilitating social interaction and positive emotions, thereby reducing anxiety.

Use of the D.A.P. ComfortZone has been useful for dogs with fear and separation anxiety issues. We have occasionally used DAP at Green Acres and at times have found it helpful and at other times have not noticed any change. In discussions with other trainers and behaviorists throughout the country I have heard similar reports. Because it does appear to work very well with some dogs, I think it is worth considering with any dog that does exhibit anxiety.

We sell the Adaptil/D.A.P. ComfortZone at Green Acres.

A DAP collar is also available through veterinarians, which may be another alternative you wish to consider.

Other Articles You May Find Helpful

Alone Training – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/08/01/dog-training-alone-training/

Bach Rescue Remedy – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/22/bach-flower-remedies-bach-rescue-remedy/

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Training – Alone Training

ALONE TRAINING

OBJECTIVE: To teach your dog that it is safe to be left alone.

Dogs are social animals and actively seek out our companionship. They can quickly become accustomed to being part of a group 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whenever a new dog is brought into a home, especially a young playful puppy, people have a tendency to interact with them constantly. While this interaction is a very important part of socialization and bonding, you need to make sure that you are not setting your puppy up for a big disappointment when you must leave him at home alone. Including some “alone training” right from the beginning will be beneficial to both your puppy and you.

Older dogs, depending on their previous circumstances, might also need to learn how to cope with being alone. For example, a dog that was housed in a shelter or kennel situation where other dogs and people were always around may have trouble coping being by themselves.

If you have not already done so, start leaving your puppy/dog alone for brief duration’s throughout the day. He needs to learn that 1) people are not always around and 2) you will come back. When leaving your puppy/dog alone, put him in his crate or in a puppy proof room. Be sure to give him some of his favorite chew toys so he can have some fun while he awaits your return. Do not make a big deal out of leaving. Just pop the puppy/dog in his area and leave.

Your puppy/dog may start to whine or bark when you leave. This is very normal. Your first impulse may be return to the puppy/dog and try to calm him, however, that is the worst thing you can do. If you want him to stop whining, you must make sure you do not reward the puppy/dog for whining .Do not pay any attention to your puppy/dog and do not let him out until there is a lull in the whining. Reward him for being calm and quiet.

Leaving your puppy/dog at home, at the veterinarians, at the groomers or at a boarding kennel should also be a very low-key, non-emotional event. Likewise, the same applies when returning to your puppy/dog. If you make leaving or returning into a big event, with lots of cuddling and petting, your puppy/dog is more likely to be stressed by your arrivals and departures. You can, and we hope you do, miss your puppy/dog when he is not with you. We just do not want to let him know that.

Start your alone training by building time slowly. Five to ten minutes is a good place to start if your puppy/dog has never been out of your site for that length of time. Like all training, we want to work in small achievable increments that the dog can handle. Continue leaving your puppy/dog alone for longer and longer periods of time.

If this behavior does not improve after a few days, or if your dog exhibits destructive behaviors such as digging, scratching or chewing on themselves, house soiling, destructions of objects, extreme vocalization, constant pacing, digging and scratching at exits such as doors and windows in an attempt to reach you, and following you excessively, never letting you out of sight then you should immediately discuss this situation with your veterinarian.  These are also symptoms of separation anxiety which many need to be treated with appropriate medications and a behavior modification program specific to separation anxiety. Your veterinarian will probably refer you to a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) to develop a behavior modification plan for your dog and your family.  Resolving separation anxiety will typically involve changes in your family’s behavior in addition to your dogs.  This is typically not an easy problem to resolve and becomes more difficult to resolve the longer it goes on.

Things you should start doing immediately:

  • Make an appointment to discuss this issue with your veterinarian. If your veterinarian suggests medications follow their advice.
  • Contact and work with a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant to develop a behavior modification plan for your dog. They may also suggest additional things you can try such as Adaptil/DAP and Bach Rescue Remedy.
  • Leave your dog home alone as little as possible until you have successfully modified their behavior.  This is the hard part and can take weeks and even months; however, it is essential if you wish this problem to resolve. Consider it from your dog’s perspective, they are living in extreme fear. Every time your dog causes through this process of your leaving and there becoming anxious makes this behavior more likely and decreases the probability of resolving the behavior. You also need to consider the serious damage a dog can do to your home and belongings and themselves. I have colleagues that have worked with families where the dog has done thousands of dollars of damage to themselves and to their surroundings in less than 30 minutes. If you yourself cannot stay home you have some alternatives. Perhaps a friend or family member can stay with your dog while you are gone. Doggie daycare or day boarding may also be an option. However these alternatives do not always work if the dog is very attached to you.
  • Do NOT make a big deal about your leaving and returning. No attention for the dog until they settle.
  • Look for cues you may be giving your dog that suggest your leaving is imminent. This can be things like; picking up keys, closing a brief case, putting on shoes, putting on a coat, packing a lunch, etc. Start offering these keys at times when you are not leaving so they are no longer predictors of being alone.

Other Articles You May Find Helpful

DAP/Adaptil – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/08/14/canine-behavior-adaptild-a-p-comfortzone/

Bach Rescue Remedy – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/22/bach-flower-remedies-bach-rescue-remedy/

You can learn more about Green Acres Behavior Counseling services by clicking here.

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2

<A version of this article was published in the July 2014 issue of Down East Dog News>

Last month Don discussed how to evaluate the companies making the pet food. This month he discusses how to evaluate individual brands and formulas within a company.

After selecting companies you are comfortable with, the next thing a pet parent should do is to look at the individual foods produced by a company. In this day and age most pet food company’s manufacture and market multiple lines or brands of food. For example, the Natura Pet Food Company, which is currently owned by Proctor & Gamble, manufactures 5 brands of pet food: California Natural, Evo, Healthwise, Innova, and Karma. They do this to meet specific needs (hypoallergenic and grain-free formulas), marketing niches (organic) or various price points (good, better or best).

Pet food companies recognize that budget does matter to pet parents, and they try to offer a food brand in multiple price categories. Unfortunately, because people focus on the price per bag and price per pound, instead of the cost per feeding, these categorizations aren’t always logical. It really can save you money if you learn how to calculate the true feeding cost of a pet food (click here to read: Determining True Pet Food Costs). You will often discover that the actual difference in the feeding cost between the categories is often negligible and the food that costs more per bag actually is a better value.

When choosing pet foods to offer in our store or for personal use, we also look for a brand that offers multiple, adult formulas, with different protein sources that support our philosophy of dietary rotation (click to read Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense). A great example of this would be PureVita’s formulas in which they offer chicken, duck, bison, salmon, or turkey formulas. When we first started talking about dietary rotation many years ago, we quickly became the pariah of many food companies and some local veterinarians. Interestingly, now some food companies also actively promote rotation and many veterinarians recognize that it is not harmful and makes sense.

Other factors to consider are the availability of a pet food brand. The small family owned companies we discussed in my last column typically and intentionally choose to market their products through independent, locally-owned retailers who are knowledgeable and passionate about sharing their knowledge of pet nutrition. They also typically offer a money-back guarantee – if you are not satisfied with the food return it to the retailer for a full refund. They also often offer frequent buyer programs that help that retailer build customer loyalty. Remember when you buy from a locally-owned store you are getting expertise and service and you are also helping your community.

In my next column I’ll discuss looking at the labeling on pet food, specifically the ingredients used.

______________________________________________________________________________
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.

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1

<A version of this article was published in the June 2014 issue of Down East Dog News>

In this first of a three part series, Don discusses the importance of looking at the companies behind the foods.

Not a day goes by here at Green Acres without at least somebody asking us, “Which brand of pet food is the best?” And when pet food companies are in the news, either due to recalls, buyouts or lawsuits, we are asked this question with even more frequency. Unfortunately, there is no single commercial pet food that will be the best food for all pets, despite of what some food companies try to tell us. Individual animals have different needs and these may shift over time. Additionally, pet food formulas and the people and companies behind pet food brands can and do change; today’s great food might become tomorrow’s worst. This is why we choose to offer multiple brands of food in our store and why we are constantly monitoring the foods and the companies behind them. It’s also why taking a close look at the company is the first step in selecting a food.

Our first preference for a pet food company is one that is a family owned and primarily focuses on making pet food as opposed to pet food being a sideline business. These companies typically own and operate the plant where the food is manufactured,  know the farmers that produce the raw ingredients for their food, have tighter quality control measures in place, and also usually only produce their own food. These brands very rarely advertise on TV, preferring to spend their money on the ingredients that go into the bag. They know that when you have a superior product, nothing beats “word of mouth” advertising.

On the flip side pet food companies that we avoid are “marketing only” companies. These companies typically don’t have a plant or manufacturing facility, nor do they have a permanent research and development staff. Instead they contract a nutritionist to develop a formula and then contract out the sourcing of the ingredients and manufacturing of the food to the lowest bidder. Often the plants that manufacture these foods vary from contract to contract, and they are also often the plants making the lowest quality foods in the market; the generic brands and house brands for supermarkets and discount stores. These marketing companies focus on what they are best at, manipulating the masses to believe that their food is the single best food available. They typically do this by creating a website and TV advertisements that tug at your heart. Like a dirty political campaign, they focus their efforts on pointing out why other brands are bad instead of why their food is good.

In the middle are the other types of companies in the pet food business. Often held by conglomerates such as Colgate-Palmolive or Procter & Gamble, these companies will sometimes still produce high quality pet foods and fund R&D in their facilities. That being said, these pet food lines continue to always require close scrutiny because of less than positive histories in the pet food industry. Two huge candy conglomerates, Nestlé and Mars, own a number of pet food brands and by some accounts may hold as much as 78% of the market share for pet food in this country. Other pet food companies are owned by venture capital funds that typically have a goal of developing a brand until they can sell it, hopefully for an enormous profit. Now the fact that they may be investing in the food usually means good things, but that may be temporary.  The reality is that knowing who owns a pet food company and their motivations for being in the business is huge in selecting a quality, healthy pet food.

In my next column I’ll discuss looking at the various brands and individual food formulas offered by a pet food company.

______________________________________________________________________________
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.

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Housetraining

(If reading is not your thing – checkout our podcast on housetraining below)

Training your puppy or dog not to urinate or defecate in your house should begin as soon as you bring them into your home.

The same process used to housetrain a puppy can also be used with an older dog that is not housetrained or that develops housetraining issues. If you have an older dog that you thought was previously housetrained but is now having issues, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with your veterinarian. It is highly likely that your dog’s housetraining problem is not behavioral, but medical in nature.

With young puppies, a major factor in housetraining will be the size of their growing bladder and their control over it. A puppy that is under 10 weeks of age may need to go out every hour during the day and possibly once or twice every night. This is not necessarily a matter of training, but one of bladder control. By 12 weeks a puppy should be able to go up to 2 to 3 hours during the day without urinating and can usually make it through the night. When a puppy is 16 to 20 weeks of age, it should only need to go out every 4 to 6 hours during the day. Many adult dogs can eventually go up to 8 hours during the day before they require a potty break.

Crate Training

The first step in housetraining your puppy will be to get a crate. We recommend a fiberglass/plastic “airline” type crate. These crates are enclosed on all sides and provide a den-like atmosphere for your dog. If you prefer a wire crate, drape a cloth over the sides to make it more like a den, but be sure that the puppy cannot pull the cloth into the crate through the wires. You can achieve this by placing a board that extends out on all sides over the top of the crate, and then draping the cloth over the board so that it hangs at least a few inches away from the wires.

A crate should be large enough for your dog to sit up, lie down and turn around comfortably. However, the dog should not have enough room to sleep in one corner and urinate or defecate in the other. Usually it is most economical to purchase the size crate that will fit your puppy as an adult. For the time being you can place an old milk crate or some other non-edible object in the back of the crate to take up some space or else you can invest in a crate divider sold specifically for this purpose

There are beds specially made for dog crates, but we do not recommend them for young puppies. An old blanket or some towels will do just fine, providing the puppy does not tear and consume them. A couple of good chew toys will occupy a young dog’s time in the crate. While you are housetraining your dog, you should not offer water in the crate, but do make sure it is available at all other times.

Generally the crate should be placed in an area that is quiet, but where your dog can still see and hear you. Remember, dogs are social animals and want to be with the rest of the family; they do not like feeling isolated. Putting the crate in your bedroom at night will help to strengthen the bond between you and your dog by allowing him to sleep near you. You may have a couple of sleepless nights initially, but it is worth it in the end. Having the dog near you while you sleep will also aid you in hearing the puppy when he needs to eliminate during the night.

It is very important not to abuse the crate. We want the dog to like the crate so it should never be used for punishment. If your dog spends a significant amount of time in a crate it will also need a significant amount of time to exercise and play.

Introducing the dog to the crate

  1. Open the door to the crate and let your dog explore it. Toss in a treat or a favorite toy so he goes in to investigate. Feed your dog meals in the crate to further create a positive association.
  2. Pick a word such as “kennel,” toss a treat in and shut the door after the puppy enters. Now pass a treat through the gate and then let your puppy out. Repeat this several times, increasing the length of time your puppy is in the crate.
  3. Say “kennel,” wait for your puppy to enter and then shut the door and pass them a treat. Leave the room for one minute and then return to let the puppy out. Never make a big deal of crating your dog or letting him out. If you act as though it is nothing your dog will accept the idea much more quickly. Also, remember to not reward your dog as you let him or her out of the crate. Exiting the crate should be a non-event.
  4. Allow your dog to become used to the crate. Start with a couple of minutes and then increase the time from there.
  5. If your dog is barking, ignore him. Otherwise he will learn that barking results in your attention, which is what he wants. However, if he whines in the middle of the night, he may have to go outside. In this case take him out immediately and then put him back in the crate for the remainder of the night.

The happier you are with the crate, the happier your dog will be. You will be amazed at how rapidly dogs come to like their new home.

If you are having difficulty teaching your dog or puppy to accept its crate, please talk to us. There are many little tips and tricks that can help.

Diet and Housetraining

Your puppy’s diet will have a large impact on housetraining. The quality of what goes in will greatly determine the quantity of what comes out. The frequency of feeding will also have an effect on how often your dog needs to eliminate. By feeding at set intervals you will make bowel movements much more predictable. I recommend you feed a puppy 3 times a day. Set the food down for 15 minutes and if the puppy walks away from anything that is left, pick it up and put it away until the next meal.

The Housetraining Process

Until such time that your dog has been housetrained (roughly 6 weeks without an accident), they should always be in a crate, on a leash attached to you, or under constant supervision. You must not take your eye off the puppy if you want to prevent accidents. This means that if a responsible adult is not devoting all of their attention to the puppy, then the puppy should be in its crate.

It is essential that you minimize the number of accidents an animal has inside; your goal should be none. Every accident the puppy has provides positive reinforcement, in the form of relief, for eliminating inside. Positive reinforcement causes behaviors to be repeated, something we do not want in this circumstance.

You should take your puppy out to eliminate whenever:

  • They finish a meal or snack.
  • They awake from sleeping.
  • They come out of the crate, whether they have been sleeping or not.
  • Immediately before and after play sessions.
  • Any time the dog’s behavior suggests they may need to go out (circling, sniffing, walking away and sitting by a door).

When taking your puppy or dog out to eliminate, follow these steps:

  • Put your dog on a leash, 6ft in length or less, so you have control over them outside. You need to stay out with them, so dress appropriately.
  • Always go out the same door. This will help them to identify why they are going out.
  • Go directly to the area in your yard you have selected as the bathroom area. This area should be fairly close to the door so you can get there in a hurry when necessary. Dogs tend to favor porous surfaces so they will generally prefer to eliminate on a grassy area. After your puppy defecates here the first time, leave some stool for the first few days to serve as a marker that this is the place to go.
  • Remain standing in one place. When the dog starts to eliminate quietly say “good,” remain silent and allow them to finish. Give them a treat and lots of praise immediately after they have finished. This treat needs to be delivered within 1-2 seconds of the dog completing the behavior if it is to be associated with the behavior. If you wait to give the puppy the treat until after you get back inside, you are NOT rewarding for the bathroom behavior but for coming inside. This may create a puppy that is in a hurry to get inside and thus does not finish going to the bathroom outside but does so inside. After your puppy is finished eliminating, then it is time for play or a walk.
  • After your dog is eliminating in the same spot you can start to add a verbal cue. When your dog starts to eliminate, repeat the word you want to use for elimination (“Do your business,” “Go potty,” etc.). Always use the same phrase as we eventually will use this to get our dog to eliminate on cue.
  • Give your dog up to 10 minutes to eliminate. If a puppy, wait an additional 2 minutes after they have eliminated just in case they have not finished. If they eliminate again, reward them with another treat.
  • If your dog does not eliminate after 10 minutes go directly back inside with no play, walk or treat. Remembering that you have a “loaded” puppy, either put them in their crate or keep them attached to you by a leash. If your puppy starts to whine in the crate or shows any pre-elimination behaviors immediately take him outside.
  • Once your puppy is going reliably in his special place you should start training them to go on cue in other places. If you stay at Grandma’s be prepared for the possibility of an accident. You need to watch your puppy closely in new situations and may need to do some remedial training.

When Accidents Happen

No matter how good you and your puppy are, the odds are there will be some accidents in the house. If the puppy starts to eliminate inside, say “Out!” sharply. This should get their attention and cause them to momentarily stop. Quickly scoop them up or leash them and take them outside, following the steps above.

If an accident occurs in the house and you did not actually catch the puppy at the instant it was eliminating, just quietly put him in the crate while you clean up the mess. If you punish the dog after the fact it will not understand why it is being punished. If you think your dog “looks guilty” and knows it has done something wrong, your dog is picking up on your negative body language. He senses you are upset but does not understand why.

Be careful about reprimanding your puppy even if you catch them in the act. Rather than associating your punishment with going inside they may associate it with eliminating in front of you which can make housetraining even more difficult.

When your dog has an accident inside it is imperative you clean it thoroughly. Any residual feces or urine may trigger the puppy to eliminate in that specific location again. We recommend that you use an enzymatic based cleaning product such as such as Urine Off or Nature’s Miracle. These products contain enzymes which break down the urine that “mark” a spot as an appropriate bathroom area. Many household cleaners only cover the smell left behind and do not breakdown the urine. Do NOT use ammonia-based cleaners, as to many dogs these may actually smell like urine.

Things You Do Not Want to Do

Walking to Eliminate

Taking your dog for a walk to eliminate may actually make housetraining more difficult. Most dogs enjoy walks and if they learn that the walk ends when they go to the bathroom (essentially punishing them), they may delay eliminating in order to extend the walk. It is easier to teach that eliminating quickly at home results in a fun walk.

Paper or Pee Pad Training

Training your dog to go inside on newspapers or pee pads will make the entire housetraining process more difficult and lengthy. Every time a dog goes inside on a newspaper or pee pad, he is learning and being positively reinforced for going inside. Training him to only go outside after this has been allowed is extremely challenging so avoid this if possible.

That being said, at times you may find this necessary, particularly with the cold Maine winters and some smaller dog breeds that struggle to maintain warmth outdoors. If you do have to resort to inside toileting, just remember that you have added an extra step and will have to be patient when trying to retrain the puppy to urinate and defecate outside.

submissive urination – don’t punish, ignore until excitement diminishes

Housetraining Issues with Adult Dogs

Marking

Upon reaching sexual maturity, many male dogs and some female dogs exhibit marking behavior. They urinate on objects to leave their scent, thus staking out their territory. Remedial housetraining may be necessary in these cases. Early neutering of males, before this behavior develops, may help prevent this behavior from developing. Many veterinarians can neuter and spay puppies as young as 8 weeks of age.

Illness

If an adult dog with a good record of housetraining suddenly starts having accidents, take them to your veterinarian. Urinary infections or cystitis can cause a dog to urinate inside. Internal parasites or other illnesses can cause diarrhea or increase the frequency of defecation.

Accepting the Pet You Have

< This article was originally published in Green Acres Kennel Shop Paw Prints, January 2005>

<Updated: 26NOV13>

Accept the dog you have, not the one you wish you had.” This quote, from a presentation entitled: Relationship: The heart of positive reinforcement training, by Leslie Nelson of Tails-U-Win! Canine Center in Manchester, CT, was for me, the highlight of the 2005 Association of Pet Dog Trainers educational conference. In twelve words, Leslie summed up the essential ingredient to having a happy relationship with your dog.

Sadly, I know many people often wish their dog was different. I’ve even been there myself. Countless times I have heard people say things like: “I wish he was more like my old dog,” “She’s so much noisier than the dog I had as kid,” “The breeder said he’s not supposed to be like this,” “The shelter said he wouldn’t run-off,” or “She’s certainly no Lassie.” These are clearly people who are unhappy about their pet. I suspect their pets are not very happy either.

What I call the dreaded “Lassie Myth” is a major reason for many peoples unhappiness. When people compare their personal dog to some “ideal” dog in their mind, they are inevitably disappointed. It is important to remember that the Lassie books, movies and TV shows were all works of fiction. Rin Tin Tin, Eddie, and Wishbone are also fictional characters, not representative of real dogs. Sadly, the mass media frequently sets us up for disappointment by showing us dogs that act more like furry versions of perfect people. When was the last time you saw a perfect person?

Our own egos can also create unhappiness in our relationship. I know I have been guilty of wishing for something my dog was not. Gus, our late Cairn Terrier, was the first dog I trained. As a new trainer I wanted him to be a perfect obedience dog so that I could use him for demonstrations and to “show off” my skills. However, he was a Cairn Terrier, a breed not exactly known for winning obedience competitions.

In my early days as a trainer I naively thought “blind obedience” represented the pinnacle of success and happiness for both trainer and dog. Gus and I drilled and trained and trained and drilled. Together we accomplished a great deal as he was a certified therapy dog, but that was not enough for me. I wanted more. We continued to train until one day fellow trainer Kate Dutra made me realize how miserable Gus and I had become. Neither of us were enjoying training because it brought no pleasure, no fun. It was only then that I started to see how my unrealistic expectations for Gus had seriously damaged our relationship. Fortunately, Gus and I were able to repair our bond, but I will always regret the opportunities for fun that we lost, all because I would not accept him as he was.

All too often, I think that many of us that are pet professionals (trainers, veterinarians, breeders, shelter workers, authors,) also perpetuate this lack of acceptance by giving people unrealistic expectations for their dogs. When you want to sell a puppy or adopt a dog into a new home, it is often easier to make them look better than they really are by glossing over any problems or embellishing positives. Statements like: “This breed is always good with kids,” “Yes, he’s completely housetrained,” “Your dog will learn everything they need to know in seven weeks,” might make it easier to place a pet or to sell a service, but at what price to the dog? By professionals creating unrealistic expectations difficulty in the relationship is essentially guaranteed.

As a pet care professional, I believe my first responsibility to a client is to make sure that they have the knowledge required to understand their pet as it is; a very different species with its own needs and desires. I may not tell them what they want to hear, but I want to make sure they do not have any unrealistic expectations. Secondly, people need to understand that each pet is an individual with its own unique personality. Lastly I want everybody to understand the importance of patience and kindness.  With knowledge, patience, and kindness comes acceptance and a furry companion you will cherish forever. You see the key to accepting our pets is no different than accepting one another.

.

UPDATE: I still discuss the importance of acceptance with my clients. Yesterday, friend and client Alan Garber shared this video with me on FaceBook. It’s a wonderful story about a person training a puppy to be a service dog and then one day realizing that no matter how badly they want this puppy to be a service dog, it’s just not going to happen. The trainer then discovers new wonderful traits in their dog, just by letting them be the dog they are meant to be.

Dogs are wonderful and amazing creatures but each is a unique individual. Not all dogs can be service dogs, therapy dogs, agility dogs, hunting dogs, great with all other dogs, perfect with kids, or whatever we want them to be. However, each dog will have their own special skills and abilities where they will thrive if we only let them.

To quote the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want.” But I truly believe “Even if your dog isn’t what you want, they’re still wonderful!” This video illustrates that perfectly! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGODurRfVv4 Thank you for sharing Alan!

Updated: 26NOV13

 

©26NOV13, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family

<  UPDATED – 3SEP17 >

You can listen to two podcasts on this topic by clicking on the links below.

<Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 1>

<Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 2>


I love dogs. That is one of the reasons why my wife and I decided to get into the pet care business over 21 years ago. Nothing makes me feel better than seeing a family get a new dog and watching them bond and grow old together. However, that does not happen automatically. Dogs can make wonderful companions, but not every dog is the right dog for every person or family. Finding the right fit takes time and work, something that does not happen when you get a dog or puppy on impulse. The odds are your dog will be with you longer than you have your car. It is worth taking the time to do it right.

In my business, I see thousands of dogs every year, and I know that some of them, as happy as their family is with them, would not be the right dog for me. Sadly I also see some dogs and families that are terrible mismatches; neither dog nor people are enjoying the relationship. That is why I like to sit down with people and help them learn how to find the right dog and the right source for a dog so that the dog and their family have a wonderful life-long relationship.

This article is something we provide to people when they come in for one of our FREE consultations. You are welcome to use it without the consultation, but I would encourage you to give us a call (945-6841) and set up an appointment. We think you will be glad you did.

Getting A Dog Is A Commitment

Getting a dog can easily be a 10 to 15-year commitment, so it is imperative that you pick the best breed or mixed breed for your family, and the best individual dog. Selecting the right dog is an important decision and one you should research thoroughly before making a decision. Once you think you have decided on a breed/mixed breed, do lots of reading, talk to pet professionals such as veterinarians, trainers, kennel and daycare owners, and groomers as well as others about your choice. Make sure you ask for both the good and the bad points of a specific breed. No breed is the perfect dog for everybody. Consider the bias people may have when recommending a breed or individual dog. If they are trying to sell you a dog; which is what a breeder, pet store, or shelter/rescue is trying to do, then they may not be giving you sound, objective advice.

Factors You Need To Consider BEFORE You Start Looking For A Dog

  1. Is anyone in your immediate family afraid of dogs? If so, you need to seriously ask yourself if getting a dog is a good idea. Living with a dog is not necessarily going to help the person afraid of dogs and may end up in your having to rehome the dog. That is not fair to the dog.
  2. Is anyone in your family allergic to dogs? If so, spend a significant time around dogs to determine if this will be a problem before you get the dog. Beware of claims by people trying to sell you that they claim is “hypoallergenic.” While some pets shed less and cause less of an allergic reaction than others; I do not believe any breed of pet is truly hypoallergenic. My wife and I are both allergic to dogs and cats, and we cannot imagine a life without pets; however, not everyone is willing or able to put up with allergies.
  3. If you live alone or are the dogs only caregiver, have you considered who will care for your dog if something happens to you? Hopefully, nothing will happen to you, but we do suggest that you have planned ahead of time just in case.
  4. Do all adult family members support the idea of getting a dog? Dogs are not for everyone. They are also very good at reading humans and knowing if someone wants them. We have seen more than one situation where the dog was not welcomed by the entire family, and that does not always change over time. I recommend that everyone be on board with the decision to get a dog.
  5. Will your dog be around children? I am not just asking about your children, but also the children belonging to your neighbors and other family members. Not all dogs will enjoy the company of children. You need to choose both the breed and the individual dog wisely to have the best probability of dogs and children living in harmony.
  6. Will you take your dog to work with you or will they be around your business? Not all dogs enjoy other people and may, in fact, be a liability in your business. Selecting a dog with the right temperament will be very important.
  7. What time of year do you want to bring this new puppy or dog into your family? Depending on where you live and what you do for a living, there are times of the year that are better for getting a dog. The first few months with your new dog will most likely require a significant amount of your time, and you and the rest of the family may need to adjust some priorities, in particular with a Below are some factors to consider.

The end of year holidays – For most people, November and December are the two most hectic months of the year. Most of us celebrate three major holidays, we are invited to more gatherings than average, and children have a wide variety of holiday-related school events. Are you ready to miss some of those events due to a new dog or puppy in the family? A new puppy or a rescue dog, and the latter will most likely also have some behavioral baggage, will need lots of your time, as well as stability, and in many cases quiet. Can you and your family commit to that during the holidays? If not, waiting until January or spring may be a better option for you and your new canine companion.

Housetraining and the weather – if you live in the snow belt, you will need to take the puppy out several times per day for housetraining no matter how cold it is or how hard it is snowing (see http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/02/16/housetraining/). Even though an older dog may be advertised as being housetrained, that is not always the case.  Living in a state that can have harsh winters, I would not get a new dog between November or mid-March.

The summer holidays –  Many people choose to get a new dog, especially a puppy, once the kids are out of school, especially if one of the parents also has the summer off. This can be a very good time to get a new dog, but can also be a recipe for creating a dog with separation issues when everyone disappears during the day come the end of August. If you get a dog during this time of year, make sure that you immediately start teaching them how to cope with being alone (see http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/14/dog-training-preventing-separation-anxiety-teaching-your-dog-to-cope-with-being-alone/)

Family Vacation – This can be a nice time to get a dog if you are planning on staying home. However, if you are going away and traveling, I would postpone getting the dog until you return. The first few months with a dog are important for developing the bond between you and your new friend. If the dog is with you for two to four weeks and then you are gone for two weeks, you may need to spend some extra time rebuilding that bond. I cannot imagine taking a puppy or a rescue dog on vacation immediately after they join my family. As mentioned above, they need stability and consistency the first few months with us. That typically does not occur when you are traveling.

  1. Do you have other dogs in your family? Not all dogs will get along with other dogs. A puppy may be more than an eight-year-old dog wants to handle. They may grow to tolerate or even like each other but will require close supervision until they do.
  2. Do you have other pets in your family? Dogs and cats do not always get along (ask me about Batman and Tikken) and small rodents or chickens often may be very tempting to a dog. Remember your dog is a predator. Some breeds will do better than others around other animals but remember supervision and training will also be important.
  3. Why do you want to get a dog? What will be the dog’s role in your family? Do you want a companion to share your days? Do you want a dog that will be your teammate in dog sports? Do you want a dog that can be a Therapy Dog and bring joy to people in nursing homes? Do you want the dog to go hunting with you, or do you want one or more of these things or something else? Not all dogs will be well suited to all of these tasks and even if their breed suggests that they have a probability of doing well at something, say retrieving, that does not mean that will be the case. Are you ready to accept your dog for whomever they turn out to be?
  4. Who will be the dog’s primary caregiver in your family? If you want your children to take part in caring for the dog, that is fine, but please understand that based on 21 plus years of experience, I am confident that it will be an adult family member who will be providing most of the care for a dog. Children often drive a family’s decision to get a dog, and when I meet with a family for a consultation, I always ask about the children’s extracurricular activities. Today it is not uncommon for a child to be involved in several afterschool activities every week. If your children want a dog, I encourage you to ask them what activities they are willing to give up so that they have time for the dog. If they say they want a dog but are not willing to give up any other activity, it may not be the right time to add a dog to your family.
  5. Do you want a puppy, an adolescent or an older dog? Dogs of any age can become great family members, but there are pros and cons at every age level. The first twelve months of a puppy’s life can keep you quite busy; however, by knowing the breeder and the dog’s parents and having control over their early learning and development, I believe that you have a greater probability of getting what you want when you choose to get a puppy. However, that does depend on you putting in the time and energy to manage and train the dog.

Adolescents, typically the dogs between six months and three years of age often end up being rehomed because of behavior problems. These problems are often the result of inadequate or no socialization and little or no training or inappropriate training. These dogs can become wonderful companions, but you need to be patient and be willing to invest time and love in training and rehabilitating these dogs. Theses dog can be a great deal of work so carefully assess if you have the resources to give them what they need. Loving a dog is seldom enough.

Older dogs, those five and up, often end up in a shelter or rescue due to financial reasons or other family life changes. If the dog has only had one prior family and lived in the house as a companion, they could be a perfect dog for you. Often these dogs have had a basic level of manners training, are housetrained, and are just looking for a home where they can live out their years, getting affection and giving it back. Shed, was adopted when she was five and fit in our family very easily.

  1. Do you want a pure breed, a mutt or a designer breed? Selecting the type or breed of dog to get may be one of the most complicated decisions you will make and also the one with a significant amount of emotional content.
    1. Pure Breed – You are NOT a bad person if you choose to get a purebred puppy from a reputable breeder. I would rather have you get the dog you want than get a dog from a rescue because you have been told that is the “right” thing to do. Paula and I have had both purebreds from breeders and mixed breeds and purebred dogs from rescues. They can all be good However, I have also helped many clients who had a bad experience with a rescue; both with pure breds and mixed breeds, who have since had great experiences by getting the dog they want, not the one friends or family told they must get. Get the dog that you believe will be the best fit for you and your family and do not be swayed by emotion.

If you do choose a pure bred, make sure you thoroughly understand the genetic health issues that they may face as well as some of the human-made features that can affect a dog’s health. Dog breeding is probably one of the longest running examples of genetic engineering, and it has not always ended up benefitting the dog. Due to breeding for certain facial structures, some dogs will be breathing impaired their entire life. Other breeds cannot even breed or deliver puppies naturally.

  1. Mutt/Mixed Breed – The loveable mutt, and yes they can often be quite lovable, is typically the result of an accidental breeding. How did that happen? Well, two
    EPSON DSC picture

    people with dogs were not responsible enough to get their dogs spayed/neutered or to prevent them from breeding. Shed, that five-year-old I mentioned above, was a mixed breed and was delightful; however, it was quite evident from her behavior that she was well cared for and trained from an early age.

The problem with a mixed breed dog is that you never know what you are getting from both a physical and behavioral perspective. For example, let’s say you get a Bassett Hound/German Shepherd mix. These are two breeds with fundamentally different temperaments, and you may not know which will be the predominant personality until you have lived with the dog for a while. It may or may not be the dog you had hoped to have.

Mixed breed puppies can be great if they are properly raised between birth and eight weeks of age but if the owner was not responsible enough to prevent the breeding the likelihood of doing everything else that is necessary for two months with a litter of puppies seems unlikely. Leaving the puppies in the barn with mom until they are eight weeks of age is a disaster waiting to happen.

For years it was presumed that mixed breeds would be healthier due to hybrid vigor. The latest research suggests that is not the case and in fact, mixed breeds are just as likely to have the same health issues as pure breed dogs.

Also, recognize that when a shelter labels a dog as being a certain mix of breeds they are often inaccurate. A recent study indicated that the determination of a dog’s mix of breeds by shelter workers or pet care professionals (veterinarians, trainers, and boarding kennel operators) were wrong 87.5% of the time when compared to DNA testing. The fact is, unless someone saw the actual act of conception, the odds of picking correctly are only 12.5%

  1. Designer Breed – The designer breeds (the Doodles, the various Poo’s, and others) are typically the deliberate breeding of two purebred dogs to create a “designer-breed” that is then often sold for much more than the typical purebred. As the designer breeds have become increasingly popular, breeding them strictly for monetary reasons has become more common; this has never been good for dogs. Some of these designer breeds can be great dogs, but they usually do not have all of the “benefits’ that they are advertised as having. For example; the Labradoodle and Goldendoodle are often promoted as being “non-shedding” or “hypoallergenic.” The Poodle does have a very different coat type from the Labrador or the Golden, but the coats of doodle puppies can vary wildly within the individuals in the same litter. To claim that they are all “non-shedding” or “hypoallergenic” is pure nonsense. As a potential purchaser of one of these dogs, it is also important to understand that very few reputable breeders of purebreds are going to knowingly sell one of their dogs to be used in a designer-breed breeding program. That means that it is possible that these designer-breeds are the offspring of lower quality breeding stock which can have a detrimental effect on both health and temperament. I am not saying never to get a designer-breed, but it is important to understand that when one breeds for physical characteristics, it also can affect temperament, and often in a negative way. This is a case where you will want to physically see both mom and dad and as many generations of this lineage as possible, before committing to a purchasing a puppy.
  1. What size dog do you want? – Dogs come in a wide variety of sizes; everything from a 4lbs Teacup Yorkie to a 200lbs+ English Mastiff. If you plan on a life of outdoor activity for you and your dog, especially if you will be hiking off the beaten path, I strongly encourage you to get a dog that you can physically carry from wherever you are to a vehicle. If your dog injures itself out in the middle of nowhere, you may have no other choice. If your physical abilities are limited or if you are just getting older, you need to ask yourself “can I carry my dog up and down the stairs or out to the car?” When our Golden Tikken passed at 16 years of age, my wife and I decided that we needed to “downsize” for our next dog. Tikken only weighed 50lbs, but the last year of her life we had to carry her up and down the stairs, which with bad backs was not always easy nor was it healthy. Our new dog, Muppy, weighs a lean twenty-five pounds.

Size also play a role in other ways. Big dogs eat more which will affect your wallet, and they will also leave larger deposits for you to clean up in the yard. Caring for a large dog can also end up costing you more at the veterinarian and the groomer.

Within the specific breeds, there are those breeding for incredibly tiny or gigantic dogs. Often these dogs also have extremes in temperament and health issues. If the words “Teacup” or “Giant” are affixed to a breed you are considering, talk to several professionals, knowledgeable about dogs and not trying to sell you a dog, about the pros and cons of getting a dog of unusual size.

Lastly, large dogs tend to have shorter lifespans than small dogs. One of the hardest things about owning a dog is knowing that they will probably pass before you, and no matter how many times you experience a dog’s death, it never becomes easier.

  1. What type of coat do you want? – Dogs come in a wide variety of coat Everything from the short-haired easy to maintain Beagle to the long coated dogs like the Samoyed, Rough-coat Collie and of course the elaborately groomed Poodle. No matter what breed you choose, you will need to spend time brushing them at least once a week. The longer haired breeds will require much more time and effort and more frequent brushing. In some cases, dogs will require professional grooming every 4 to 6 weeks in addition to the brushing you do at home. That needs to be considered when you look at the expense of owning a dog.
  2. Do you have the resources necessary to care for a dog properly? – Living with a dog and caring for it takes time and money. A dog needs to be trained when you first get them, and training does not stop until they have passed away. They will minimally require an annual trip to the veterinarian as well as annual licensing. On a daily basis, they will need to be fed, exercised, taken out to go to the bathroom several times, and provided with adequate mental stimulation and companionship. Depending on their coat type a dog will also need to be brushed, bathed and have their nails trimmed on a regular basis. They may require annual teeth cleaning at your veterinarians, and you really should consider brushing their teeth daily. If you go away, and cannot take your dog with you, you may also need to consider the cost of boarding your dog or hiring a pet sitter. If you are already limited on time or if you need to watch your budget closely, it may not be the right time for a dog.
  3. Are you prepared to travel to see the dog you want? – No matter if you choose a purebred or mixed breed, breeder or rescue, you may need to travel to get the dog you want. We have clients that have driven 12 hours north into Canada and flown to Texas to get the dog they desired. Others have had dogs flown over from Europe and elsewhere. If you follow only one of the recommendations I suggest, please let it be this one: NEVER purchase a dog or a puppy without seeing it in person first. Over the years we have had far too many clients that have been sent dogs with severe health or behavioral issues, or in some cases, they were sent a totally different dog than the one they saw online. This has happened with both breeders and rescues. In some of these cases, these breeders/rescues then made it very costly or next to impossible for the client to return the dog.

 

Where Will I Get the Dog I Want?

When looking for a source for a puppy, you will typically go to a breeder if you want a pure bred dog or a shelter/rescue if you are looking for either a purebred or mixed breed dog. I have listed the traits you will want to look for in these two sources.

Reputable Breeders

  1. A reputable breeder will typically only breed one or two litters a year. The best breeders will have committed homes for their puppies before the mother is ever bred and therefore will probably have waiting lists. They will not need to advertise in the newspaper or put up signs along the side of the road nor will they give their puppies away to be auctioned off at a fundraising benefit.
  2. They will typically only breed one or at most two breeds of dogs.
  3. They will not breed adult dogs until they are at least 2 to 3 years old. Many health and temperament issues will not be apparent in a dog until it is at least two years of age.
  4. A bitch will not be bred more than once per year.
  5. They will discuss in detail, with anyone interested in their puppies, the health issues affecting their breed. They should be able to provide documents from a veterinarian certifying that the parents and at least two previous generations are free of any of these health issues. Common health issues with many purebred dogs include hip dysplasia, central progressive retinal atrophy, subvalvular aortic stenosis, and others. For more information on breed specific health concerns you can check the Canine Inherited Disorders Database maintained by the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre at the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association at http://www.upei.ca/cidd/intro.htm.

Educate yourself about these genetic health issues before visiting any breeders, and rather than bring them up with the breeder, see if they tell you about them first. If they fail to do so, you may want to consider a different breeder.

Also, understand that you can choose the best breeder, who is doing everything right, and these genetic disorders can occur in a puppy. That is just the nature of genetics. While this may be unlikely to happen, I would encourage you to have a discussion with the breeder in advance, so you understand their policies if this should occur.

  1. Ask the breeder what type of temperament they see in their dogs and how that affects their breeding program. Since most dogs in the US are pets and companions, the best breeders will focus on breeding dogs with a sound, friendly temperament. If the breeder focuses on working dogs (protection, field trials, tracking, livestock guarding, and herding), their dogs may not have the best temperament to be a family companion. Working dog breeders may have puppies that the breeder believes are not suitable for the job they were bred for, which they will then sell as “pets.” That does not mean that they will have an ideal temperament to be a family dog.
  2. The best breeders will raise the puppies in their home along with the adult dogs and their human family. They will not be raised in isolation in a basement or another building.
  3. The best breeders will keep the puppies with their mother until they are ready to go to their new homes and will also hopefully have other adult dogs that are allowed to interact with the puppies appropriately. From four to eight weeks of age is when a puppy learns how to interact with its species. If they are deprived of this opportunity, they are more likely to have issues with other dogs in the future. If the mother is not a good parent and abandons the puppies, then the breeder needs to find another mother dog to take her place.
  4. The size of the litter is also important. A singleton pup (a litter of one) will miss out on many learning opportunities without other puppies in the litter. Ideally, the breeder should place this pup in another litter with a mother and other pups.
  5. The best breeders will allow you to see both parents so that you can evaluate their health, behavior, and temperament. If the mother has been artificially inseminated, they will put you in contact with the breeder that owns the stud and the best breeders will have a video of the stud so you can observe his behavior. Being informed about both parents temperament is crucial, as studies have indicated that if either parent is shy, anxious, or timid, then the puppies will also have this temperament Behaviors that have a genetic basis typically do not change or get better.
  6. The best breeders actively socialize the puppies before letting them go home with you. Socialization should start at four weeks of age and continue until it is legal to sell the puppy at eight weeks of age. Specifically, you will want to ask them how many children, men, women, and non-family members have gently handled, trained, and played with the pups daily. The best breeders will have this documented in a daily journal.
  7. The best breeders will not suggest you get multiple puppies at the same time, but will in fact actively discourage you from getting more than one.
  8. The best breeders will offer a written contract with health guarantees that also offers to take the puppy back, at any time, for any reason. State laws may require a breeder to provide you with certain legal documents at the time of the sale. Make sure you know what these documents are so that you can make sure that the seller provides them.
  9. The best breeders will begin housetraining the puppies, and the puppies will have a designated housetraining area within the space where the puppies are confined. Be wary of breeders that keep puppies in rooms covered in newspaper or other materials where the puppies are urinating and defecating anywhere and everywhere in the room. You should only see piles and puddles in the designated housetraining area, and if the breeder has an adequate cleaning schedule, there should be very few of those. The best breeders will start crate training the puppies, in an airline style crate, before sending them to their new homes.
  10. Ask how the breeder feeds the puppies. We recommend that they give each puppy their own bowl rather than feeding all of the puppies from a single communal bowl. Over the years we have seen puppies for severe resource guarding, and food aggression behaviors and a communal bowl seems to be a common thread with these puppies.
  11. The best breeders will ask you lots of questions about why you want a puppy, why you want this particular breed, and how you will care for the puppy. They will want to verify that you have time for the puppy, that you will enroll it in a reward based training class, and have a yard and home suitable for the puppies exercise needs. They will ask you for references. They will often require a fenced yard.
  12. The best breeders will discuss the advantages of spaying/neutering your puppy and if it is not suitable for breeding will require that you have the puppy spayed/neutered.
  13. The best breeders will be licensed as a breeding kennel if the state where they live is wise enough to require breeders to be licensed. When you find a breeder, call the agency responsible for licensing breeders and verify that the breeder is licensed and ask if any complaints have been filed against the breeder. In Maine, breeding kennels are licensed by the state Animal Welfare Program, and they can be reached at 1-877-269-9200.
  14. Ask the breeder how they train their dogs and what types of tools and methods they use and what they recommend for their puppies. In 2015 the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) issued a document entitled 2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines. This document discusses the prevalence of behavioral problems in dogs and cats and recommends:

“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. Nonaversive techniques rely on the identification and reward of desirable behaviors and on the appropriate use of head collars, harnesses, toys, remote treat devices, wraps, and other force-free methods of restraint. This Task Force strongly endorses techniques that focus on rewarding correct behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors.“ [Emphasis added]

I recommend that you avoid any breeder that recommends or uses any of the aversive techniques that the AAHA has outlined in their guidelines.

Humane Societies/Shelters/Rescues

  1. Dogs that end up in a shelter or rescue are typically strays or have been surrendered by someone locally because they can no longer care for the dog or no longer want the dog. Dogs are surrendered for a variety of reasons, including finances, where someone lives, or health issues. Surrendering a dog is hard for most people and as such the reasons they give may not always be entirely accurate, nor are their descriptions of the dog’s behavior. They might paint a picture of a wild, crazy dog to make themselves look better or that of a mild, easy-going dog to increase the dog’s chances of adoption. Bottom line, the information on the dog may not always be accurate.

Often shelters have little or no information about strays. Dulcie, one of our Cairn Terriers, was a stray, so we had little information about her when she became part of our family.

Some shelters and rescues are also bringing in dogs from out of state, typically from the south. These dogs may be surrenders or strays, but often the quality of information about them is not very high. I have mixed feelings about bringing in dogs from out of state. In full disclosure, our newest dog Muppy came here from Mississippi. Muppy has been a great dog for us, but we did meet her in person before we adopted her and I also asked the Maine rescue some very pointed questions before we did adopt. Specifically, I wanted to know what the rescue was doing to stop the overpopulation problem in the south. This Rescue, Canine Commitment of Maine (now Helping Paws Maine), is helping to fund mobile spay/neuter services in Mississippi. Not all rescues are doing things like that, and some of the groups down south have discovered it is very lucrative to sell dogs and puppies to us folks up north. They are essentially puppy mills without the breeding program, so buyer beware.

  1. The best shelters and rescues will give all dogs that they adopt a thorough veterinary exam, will spay and neuter them and will make sure they are current on all necessary vaccinations before they ever leave the facility. Before adopting a dog from the south, verify its heartworm status. Heartworm is endemic in many parts of the south, and it is unlikely that a rescue dog was on a heartworm preventative.
  2. Many shelters and rescues will also give dogs a temperament test to determine what type of home would be best for a dog or to assess whether the dog is even safe to adopt. Sadly some dogs end up at shelters due to aggression issues; facts that those surrendering the dog failed to disclose. What you need to understand about temperament tests is that they are not a guarantee. Not all people performing the tests have the same level of skill and experience. A temperament test is also only a snapshot of what a dog’s temperament was like at a specific movement in time. When you consider the fact that a dog in a shelter/rescue situation is under a great deal of stress, it is not unusual at all for a dog to act very differently after they have been in your home for a couple of weeks. Sometimes it may take a couple of months before you see a rescued dog’s true Because of this, the value of temperament testing by shelters is being questioned.
  3. Puppies may end up at a shelter because someone left them in a box in front of the door; in which case you will know very little about those puppies. A shelter may also have puppies available because a pregnant mom was surrendered. In those cases, the best shelter will find a foster home for the mom, where she will live until she has the puppies and they have been weaned and are available for adoption. The same requirements for raising those puppies during that time frame are the same as those that apply to a breeder.
    1. The foster parents will raise the puppies in their home along with the mom and their human family. They will not be raised in isolation in a basement or another building.
    2. They will keep the puppies with their mother until they are ready to be returned to the shelter at eight weeks of age and will also hopefully have other adult dogs that are allowed to interact with the puppies appropriately. From four to eight weeks of age is when a puppy learns how to interact with its species. If they are deprived of this opportunity, they are more likely to have issues with other dogs in the future. If the mother is not a good parent and abandons the puppies, then the foster parent needs to find another dog mother to take her place.
    3. The size of the litter is also important. A singleton pup (a litter of one) will miss out on many learning opportunities without other puppies in the litter. Ideally, the breeder should place this pup in another litter with a mother and other pups.
    4. Studies have indicated that if either parent is shy/anxious timid the puppies will also have this temperament trait. Behaviors that have a genetic basis typically do not change or get better. Unfortunately, when you adopt a puppy from a shelter, it is seldom that you will even know who the father was and possibly may know nothing about the mother. In other words, they have less information on which to assess what the pup’s behavior might be like as an adult.
    5. The shelter/rescue/foster parent should actively socialize the puppies before letting them go home with people. Socialization should start at four weeks of age and continue until it is legal to sell the puppy at eight weeks of age. Specifically, you will want to ask them how many children, men, women, and non-family members have gently handled, trained, and played with the pups daily. The puppy raisers should have this documented in a daily journal.
    6. They will begin housetraining the puppies, and the puppies will have a designated housetraining area within the space where the puppies are confined. Be aware of shelters that keep puppies in rooms covered in newspaper or other materials where the puppies are urinating and defecating anywhere and everywhere in the room. You should only see piles and puddles in the designated housetraining area, and if the shelter has an adequate cleaning schedule, there should be very few of those. The best shelters will start crate training the puppies, in an airline style crate, before sending them to their new homes.
    7. Ask how they feed the puppies. We recommend that they give each puppy their own bowl rather than feeding all of the puppies from a single communal bowl. Over the years we have seen puppies for severe resource guarding, and food aggression behaviors and a communal bowl seems to be a common thread.
  4. No reputable shelter/rescue will suggest you get multiple puppies at the same time, but will in fact actively discourage you from getting more than one and may not allow you to get more than one.
  5. A reputable shelter/rescue will offer to take a dog back, at any time, for any reason. They should never make you feel guilty about returning a dog or make it difficult to do so. A client of ours adopted an adult dog from a rescue which they quickly discovered was aggressive towards children. The dog’s aggressive behavior not been disclosed by the rescue. The rescue begrudgingly agreed to take the dog back but told the client it would be as long as six weeks before they had a foster home available. Before you adopt from a rescue or shelter, make sure you have their return policies in writing.
  6. A shelter/rescue may ask you lots of questions about why you want a dog, why you want this particular dog, and how you will care for the dog. They will want to verify that you have time for the dog, and may require you to enroll it in a reward based training class. Many shelters/rescue will ask for references and may even do a home visit. They will often require a fenced yard. If you have other dogs, they will require that your dogs meet the new dog before adopting.
  7. Some shelters work with trainers and behavior consultants to help prepare dogs for adoption. Make sure that they are only working with trainers committed to Force-Free, reward based training. Preferably these trainers will be members of The Pet Professionals Guild and certified as a Professional Canine Trainer (PCT-A) by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (http://www.credentialingboard.com/), or certified as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (http://www.ccpdt.org/) or credentialed by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (https://iaabc.org/) as a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC).
  8. Ask the Shelter/Rescue how they train their dogs and what types and tools they use and what they recommend for training. In 2015 the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) issued a document entitled 2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines. This document discusses the prevalence of behavioral problems in dogs and cats and recommends:

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. Nonaversive techniques rely on the identification and reward of desirable behaviors and on the appropriate use of head collars, harnesses, toys, remote treat devices, wraps, and other force-free methods of restraint. This Task Force strongly endorses techniques that focus on rewarding correct behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors.“ [Emphasis added]

I recommend that you avoid any Shelter or Rescue that recommends or uses any of the aversive techniques that the AAHA has outlined in their guidelines. I would also avoid them if they refer to trainers that use those techniques.

  1. A reputable shelter/rescue will be licensed as a shelter/rescue in the state of Maine. When you find a shelter/rescue, call the Maine Animal Welfare Program and verify that they are licensed and ask if any complaints have been filed about their practices. The phone number for the AWP is 1-877-269-9200.
  2. Lastly, understand that most shelters and rescues are non-profits and may ask for donations. That is fine as long as they are legitimate non-profits; however, not all have filed the necessary paperwork required for their non-profit status to be legal. Why is that important? It is important to make sure that the money you are donating is being put to good use. In 2013, an individual representing a rescue group in our area was arrested and convicted of embezzling over $100,000 from the group. That is a great deal of money that never went to helping rescued dogs. A place you can check on any non-profit organization is http://www.charitynavigator.org/ and http://www.guidestar.org/.

If you need assistance or advice in finding the perfect dog for your family, do not hesitate to contact us. We want to help you find the best dog for you and your lifestyle.

Recommended Resources

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

 

Accepting the Pet You Havehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/11/26/accepting-the-pet-you-have/

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

Adopting/Getting A Pet – Before You Adopt A Dog…http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/01/adoptinggetting-a-pet-before-you-adopt-a-dog/

Does My Dogs Breed Matter? – Parts 1, 2 & 3http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter

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

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

Maine’s Puppy Lemon Law and Your Rights As A Consumer – While getting a new pet usually goes very well, occasionally people have a bad experience when purchasing a new pet. This can happen when getting a pet from a pet store, a breeder, and even when getting a pet from a shelter or rescue. In this show, we address consumer’s legal alternatives when things do not go as you wanted.

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – How to choose a dog trainer – Kate, and Don discuss what to look for when choosing a dog trainer and dog training class, as well as what to avoid. Dog training and recommended approaches to training a dog have changed dramatically as we have learned more about canines. As a result, we now know that some long-standing methods used to train a dog in the past, are in fact detrimental and can cause serious, long-term harm to your dog. Learn what to look for so that you and your dog have the best experience possible.

The benefits of training your dog and 2017 Training Classes at Green Acres – Kate and Don discuss why training a dog is so beneficial to all involved; the dog, the dog’s immediate family, and society in general. They discuss the advantages of working with a certified professional dog trainer so that you have someone that can coach both you and your dog when things are not going as expected. Additionally, they discuss why choosing a trainer that is committed to pain-free, force-free and fear-free training is so important. Lastly, they discuss the training classes that will be offered at Green Acres Kennel Shop in 2017.

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic – In this week’s show Kate, Don and Dr. Dave Cloutier of the Veazie Veterinary Clinic discuss the American Animal Hospital Associations (AAHA) new guidelines on behavior management for dogs and cats. This groundbreaking document represents the first time that a major veterinary organization has addressed pet behavior. According to the guidelines “More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.” Tune in and learn why behavior is so important and why a behavioral assessment should be part of every pet’s annual wellness exam.

Dr. Cloutier, Kate, and Don discuss reasons for an increase in behavior problems, and how these problems can best be addressed. Dr. Cloutier explains changes he and his colleagues have made to work towards free-free visits for their clients. We address serious behavioral problems such as separation anxiety and aggression as well as nuisance behaviors like jumping, barking, and counter surfing. We address how veterinarians and dog trainers can work together and why it is essential to focus on rewarding desired behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors. Lastly, we review the guidelines recommendations on refraining from using any training methods that use aversive techniques such as electronic shock collars, choke collars, prong collars, alpha-rollovers, and other things that work by causing fear, intimidation, force, discomfort or pain.

Web Sites

Canine Inherited Disorders Databasehttp://www.upei.ca/cidd/intro.htm

Maine Animal Welfare Programhttp://www.maine.gov/dacf/ahw/animal_welfare/

The Pet Professional Accreditation Boardhttp://www.credentialingboard.com/

The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultantshttps://iaabc.org/

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainershttp://www.ccpdt.org/

Charity Navigatorhttp://www.charitynavigator.org/

Guidestarhttp://www.guidestar.org/

Professional Pet Care Associations

The Pet Professional Guildhttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/

The Association of Professional Dog Trainershttps://apdt.com/

________________________________________________________________________
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.

©15-Jan-17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dogs – The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collar

< Updated 22OCT17 >

< To view this article as a PDF, click here >

< On October 28th Don and Kate discussed this topic on The Woof Meow Show. You can listen to that show by clicking here.>

What Is A Shock Collar?

A shock collar looks like a standard collar that has a small box with two metal electrodes attached to it. The collar is designed to be worn around the dog’s neck.  The collar is fit on the dog, so the electrodes penetrate the dog’s fur and press directly against the dog’s skin. When activated, there is a potential of 1500 volts to 4500 volts across the electrodes, which delivers a painful electrical shock to the dog5. Some collars may even operate at higher voltages. Unfortunately, it is impossible to confirm voltages because manufacturers are very secretive about the amount of voltage their systems apply. In addition to shocking your dog, these collars can cause burns, something we have observed on dogs wearing these devices.

Currently, there are three types of shock collars in use; 1) underground/non-visible fence containment collars, 2) remote training collars, and 3) anti-bark collars. The manner in which the collars are activated varies with the type of collar.

Underground fence containment systems administer a shock to the dog when they approach or cross a buried wire. Typical collars emit an audible warning tone or beep as the dog approaches the wire and ideally, the dog will stop upon hearing the warning tone and will not get a shock. However, if the collar is to be effective at all the dog will need to be shocked at least once, and typically many times if the collar is to be effective. During the training phase with this type of shock collar, small flags or some other visual indicator are supposed to be placed in the ground making the invisible border visible.

Remote training collars utilize a transmitting unit, held by the person. By pressing a button on the transmitter, the person can deliver a shock to the dog from a distant location. A warning tone may sound before the shock. The shock is used as a form of positive punishment (the dog is shocked when it does something the person does not want). For example: if a dog were chasing the neighbor’s livestock it would be shocked in the hopes of stopping the behavior. Remote shock collars are also used for negative reinforcement (the dog is shocked continuously until it exhibits a desirable behavior). For example: if a dog does not come when called it would be shocked continuously until it returned to the handler. People typically use these collars for treating behavioral problems (chasing livestock/predatory behavior, poor recall) and in dog sports such as field trials and hunting. There are even dog trainers that advocate the use of a shock collar for training typical pet dog behaviors such as sit and stay.

Anti-bark shock collars work by detecting when the dog barks and then administering an electric shock as a form of punishment, in theory, stopping the dog from barking.

Scientific Evidence Outlining the Concerns with the Use of Electric Shock

There is no doubt that shock collars cause pain. While proponents might call it a “stim” a “tap,” or a “static charge” we know from the science of operant conditioning that the aversive stimulus (electric shock) must be sufficiently distressing (i.e., physical or emotionally painful) to cause a change in behavior.

Multiple studies6,7,8,9 have reported that shock collars cause undue stress on a dog. A study of guard dogs6, specially bred for toughness and low sensitivity to pain and stress, found that training with shock collars caused long-lasting stress effects to the point that the dog continued to associate their handler as aversive even outside of a training context. The dogs exhibited behaviors associated with fear and anxiety long after they had received shocks. The scientists conducting this study stated: “The conclusions, therefore are, that being trained [with electric shock] is stressful. That receiving shocks is a painful experience to dogs, and that the dogs have learned that the presence of their owner (or his commands) announces reception of shocks, even outside of the normal training context.”

Another study7 examined the use of shock for training to stop undesirable hunting/chasing behavior. This study also revealed the dogs found being trained with shock to be very stressful. The authors concluded, “…the general use of electric shock collars is not consistent with animal welfare.

A third study8 compared the features of several shock collars and examined how they are used by typical pet owners. The researchers concluded “for a subset of dogs tested, the previous use of e-collars in training are associated with behavioural and physiological responses that are consistent with significant negative emotional states; this was not seen to the same extent in the control population. It is therefore suggested that the use of e-collars in training pet dogs can lead to a negative impact on welfare, at least in a proportion of animals trained using this technique.” (p4).

The scientists conducting this study8 also observed that the instruction manuals that came with these products did not explain features well. When the individuals using the collars were interviewed they could not explain how to use the collar properly and often indicated that they had failed to read the instructions or ignored them. The researcher’s conclusion: “…some of the reported use was clearly inconsistent with advice in e-collar manuals and potentially a threat to the dog’s welfare.” (p25)

As noted in this study, misuse and inappropriate use of shock collars are not uncommon. One of Green Acres’ staff witnessed such abuse at a field trial event right here in Maine. A dog owner with two dogs was working with one of his dogs and had a second dog in his truck in its crate. The dog that he was working with did not respond to a command, so the owner pressed a button on the remote to shock the dog. The dog still did not respond to the command, so the owner shocked the dog again. Meanwhile, the dog in the crate was yelping each time the owner was intending to shock the dog he was allegedly training. It was not until our staff member pointed it out that the owner realized he was shocking his dog in the crate and not the one he was working with. It would seem that the owner had picked up the wrong remote unit.

Because of the findings of “Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs”8 scientists initiated a fourth study; Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs; field study of dogs in training9. This study was designed to investigate how dogs would react when a shock collar was used per the manufacturer’s instructions. The study looked at three different groups of dogs; all with owners that had reported their dog either had a poor recall or chased cars, bicycles or animals. One group of dogs was trained with a shock collar by dog trainers that had been trained by shock collar manufacturers; the second group of dogs was trained by the same dog trainers but with positive reinforcement. The last group of dogs was trained by members of the UK APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) using positive reinforcement. The conclusion of the researchers: “…the study did find behavioural evidence that use of e-collars negatively impacted on the welfare of some dogs during training even when training was conducted by professional trainers using relatively benign training programmes advised by e-collar advocates.” The study also demonstrated that the shock collar was not any more effective at resolving recall and chasing behaviors than positive reinforcement training. This supports another recent study10 that concluded: “more owners using reward based methods for recall/chasing report a successful outcome of training than those using e-collars.”

You can read a summary of two of these studies8,9 at http://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2013/06/the-end-for-shock-collars.html

Shock Based Containment Systems

We believe that individuals that choose underground fence systems for containment are not intending any ill will towards their pet; in fact, it is often quite the opposite. People want to give their pet as much room to run as possible, and they believe that an underground containment system allows for more “freedom” at less financial cost. The problem lays in the lack of understanding about the pitfalls of this type of containment system and the lasting harm that may come to the dog.

In our experience, shock collar systems, where a dog hears a beep followed by an electrical shock at their neck if they continue across the boundary line of your property, create a false sense of security for dog owners and often cause a dog to become fearful and anxious, especially towards other people. The false sense of security comes from the fact, as many have observed, the non-visible fence does not always keep the dog on their property. A dog can see, hear and smell beyond the invisible line buried under the ground and may be attracted to something on the other side of the line causing them to blast through the “fence,” resulting in their getting a shock. If the dog wants to return to its yard, it must now suffer a shock to do so. In other words, there is no incentive to go back home but an intense motivation to stay away.

Additionally, these containment systems do nothing to prevent others dogs, animals or people from entering into your yard. A regular fence has a much higher probability of keeping a dog in and keeping others out, thus ensuring the safety of your dog.

People also tend to think that since there is a containment system in place; their dog can be left alone in the yard. They leave their dog unattended, even though most of the manuals for these systems explicitly indicate you should remain with your dog at all times as they are not a substitute for a reliable fence. Containment systems using electric shock do not offer you the same level of freedom as a conventional fence.

Electric shock causes anxiety in a dog because it hurts. The cause of that pain is then often associated with what the dog was focused on at the time the shock occurred. This could be something totally benign such as; another dog, a neighbor’s cat, a person or someone’s child passing by your yard.  For example, if a dog sees your neighbor’s child, runs toward it intending a friendly greeting, and in its excitement crosses the invisible line and is shocked, it is quite likely that your dog will associate this pain with the child. Your dog may now feel anxious and possibly aggressive towards all children. The same can happen towards adults as well as other animals. (See How Does Pain Cause Aggression- Case #1 below for a real example)

While dogs do not always get the shock, sometimes they just hear the beep, that uncertainty in itself can create even more anxiety. If you are from the Midwest you can relate; the anxiety starts when the tornado sirens go off whether the tornado happens or not.

If people approaching the dog cause the dog to get a shock, or even just a beep (a reliable predictor of a shock or the system would not work) and the dog has nowhere else to go (the fence essentially traps them in their yard) then the dog is going to do everything possible to drive those people away – including taking an aggressive posture which may increase the probability of creating a dog with territorial aggression.

Other factors to consider are how your dog will feel about their yard, the space you have designed to give them “freedom.” Sadly I have consulted with clients where the experience of being shocked in the yard causes the dog to refuse to go into the yard. Even more distressing, I have worked with clients where the dog now trembles in terror anytime it hears a beep that sounds anything like the beep of the shock collar (e.g., your mobile phone when you get a text, the smoke alarm when the battery is low, or a kitchen timer when it goes off). The beep even without the shock can and does cause anxiety.

Lastly, like most pieces of technology, shock collars can malfunction. I know of people that have used shock based containment systems where the battery has stopped working which means the collar will no longer beep or shock. More frightening, I have been told of cases where the collar has malfunctioned resulting in the dog being shocked continuously until the battery dies.

The companies that design, manufacture and sell these shock collar systems are unregulated and are primarily interested in profit. They are under no regulatory obligation to report problems that have already occurred.   If you do report problems to the manufacturer, you will likely be told you did not follow the directions properly.

Since these products are not regulated, we have no idea how many problems have occurred or how severe those problems have been.  While these companies claim their products give pets more freedom, keep pets safe and even save pets lives, these claims are not supported by published scientific evidence. In fact, the evidence in the peer-reviewed literature on the subject of shock collars suggests the exact opposite.

Some people argue that using an underground fence to contain their dog gives the dog more freedom. Dr. Karen Overall, a veterinary behaviorist answers that argument like this: “It’s a myth that invisible fences provide dogs with more freedom. In fact, these devices violate the principles of three of five freedoms that define adequate welfare for animals:  Freedom from pain, injury, and disease, Freedom to express normal behavior and Freedom from fear and distress.”11. The five freedoms Dr. Overall has mentioned are Brambell’s Five Freedoms – a standard for assessing animal welfare since the 1960’s12.

Alternatives to using a containment system based on electric shock include; a real fence, a small fenced kennel area on your property, and more frequent walks/exercise with your dog – something that that would be good for both you and your dog.

Shock Collars for Remote Training

Electric shock via remote control is used to positively punish (a momentary shock to decrease behavior) or negatively reinforce (an ongoing shock to increase a behavior) a dog.

Our own experience in dealing with dogs that have behavioral issues, as well as scientific research by experts in the field, indicates that using tools that cause pain and fear can actually elicit or increase aggression and other behavioral problems.5,6,20,21 Fear, anger and confrontation are all stressful. Physiologically a dog’s body will react in the same manner as a human’s when stressed. Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol as well as other biochemical changes.13   Studies completed in Japan and Hungary in 2008 demonstrated that dogs that were strictly disciplined had higher levels of cortisol and that these increased cortisol levels were linked to increased aggressive behavior. The many adverse effects of using punishment led The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) to publish guidelines on the use of punishment in training in 2007.2

While punishment can temporarily stop a behavior, it often causes new and additional problems. A study published in Animal Welfare by E.F. Hiby in 2004 concluded that dogs trained with punishment were more likely to demonstrate behavior problems and were less obedient than those trained with positive, reward-based methods.14  Another study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior by Emily Blackwell in the fall of 2008 found that dogs trained with punishment had higher aggression scores while those trained with rewards had the lowest scores for fearful and attention seeking behaviors.15

For a real example of the use of a remote shock collar and its consequences, read How Does Pain Cause Aggression- Case #2 below.

Alternatives to using a remote controlled shock collar include; more effective management of your dog and its environment and a reward-based training program. As for performance sports or working dogs, Green Acres staff and students, as well as many others, have successfully trained dogs for field trials and search and rescue using clicker training and reward based training. Some of the most amazing working animals in the world, those working for the U.S. Navy, have been trained exclusively with reward-based training.

Shock Collars Used for Excessive Barking

Barking is a very normal and very complex behavior for a dog, meaning that there are many possible reasons a dog barks. One of the most frequent reasons a dog barks is due to anxiety. If a stressed dog suddenly receives a painful shock on its neck, it is much more likely to become even more anxious and increase its vocalizing, thus receiving more shocks. These collars cannot distinguish why a dog is barking so just keep shocking away. Because sound triggers them, even another dogs bark can trigger the collar around a dog that is being quiet. For this reason alone, these devices should never be used in multi-dog households or any places with multiple dogs like a boarding or daycare facility. Sadly there are such facilities in our community that use these devices.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is on record stating “Dog collars which are activated by the noise of barking to produce an electric shock are considered as hazardous to the health of the animal.” “Complaints received, which were later corroborated by our own testing, included severe burns in the collar area and possible personality adjustment injuries to the dogs. The shocking mechanism was found to be activated not only by barking but by vehicle horns, slamming doors or any other loud noise.”16

Working with a qualified dog behavior consultant to determine the cause of the barking and to assist in developing a management and behavior modification plan to address the barking will have a higher probability of success.

How Does Pain Cause Aggression?

At some level this seems like a foolish question. I bet that everyone of us can come up with several examples of where we were hurting and not feeling well and were acting rather surly/ Animals are no better or different than us.

The use of positive punishment in the form of choke collars, prong collars, and shock collars can cause aggression. This occurs because the anxiety and pain the dog feels when shocked or choked are often associated with whatever the dog was focusing on at that instant rather than their own behavior. Both real-life cases described below illustrate how using a shock collar created aggression in previously friendly dogs.

Case #1

“Jake,” a very social dog, bounded off to greet every person he saw. Jake’s guardians were concerned about him leaving the yard because he frequently went to visit the neighbor. For what they believed was his protection, the family installed an underground fence system that would keep Jake in their yard. They trained him to the system per the manufacturer’s instructions.

A few weeks after the system was installed, Jake saw the neighbor out in her yard. Since Jake had always liked his neighbor he ran straight for her when he was shocked for crossing the line. This happened a few more times, the once friendly Jake always getting shocked as he ran towards the neighbor. Then one day Jake was inside his home when the neighbor knocked on the front door. When the family opened the door, Jake saw the neighbor and immediately reacted by biting her in the leg.

To Jake, the neighbor was the predictor of the shock, and he now associated the neighbor with being shocked. This incident could have been prevented with the installation of a good, old-fashioned fence or by supervising Jake when he was out in the yard.

Case #2

“Jenny,” would drag her guardians around on her leash, especially when she saw another dog. Jenny was just curious and friendly and wanted to greet the other dogs, but her guardians were older, and Jenny was a strong dog. They had made no attempts to train Jenny and were frustrated with being pulled all over anytime Jenny saw another dog. They went to a big-box pet store where it was suggested they purchase a remote shock collar. They were instructed to shock Jenny whenever she pulled on her leash.

On their next walk, Jenny, as she always had done, moved forward in friendly greeting when she spotted another dog. Jenny was fixated on the dog she wanted to meet when she was shocked. The next time Jenny saw another dog on a walk she immediately became anxious. As the dog approached, Jenny lunged, but this time she also growled and bared her teeth. Jenny had become very afraid and was trying to look fierce to scare the dog away before it hurt her when she was shocked yet again. Jenny, now anxious and confused about other dogs, has learned to become defensively aggressive.

Jenny’s guardians did not train her to stop pulling; all they succeeded in doing is making a previously dog-friendly dog, dog aggressive. If they had enrolled Jenny in a reward based training class or made use of a front-connect walking harness they could have taught her to walk nicely without ever causing her any pain or fear.17

These are not isolated occurrences. I have training colleagues throughout the country that could tell you of similar incidents.

What Do the Experts Say About Shock Collars?

A study published in 20005 looked at five dogs who were subjected to shock collar containment systems and who later bit people, resulting in a lawsuit. No dog had a prior history of displaying aggression towards people, and it is believed that the dogs received a shock at the time of the attack. There is no evidence to suggest that the humans bitten were acting threateningly before the attack. In all cases, the dogs bit the victim repeatedly and uninhibitedly, resulting in serious bodily injury. Other studies on the use of electrical shock on other species, including humans, have noted the extreme viciousness and intensity of shock-elicited aggression.

In their 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Guidelines, The American Animal Hospital Association says this about aversive training techniques:

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. Nonaversive techniques rely on the identification and reward of desirable behaviors and on the appropriate use of head collars, harnesses, toys, remote treat devices, warps and other force-free methods of restraint. This Task Force strongly endorses techniques that focus on rewarding correct behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors.” [Emphasis added]

In her book, Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats noted veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Overall says this about the use of electrical shock for the training of animals.

“To understand people’s willingness to shock their dogs and cats (and sometimes horses), one important association needs to be acknowledged: people reach for tools such as shock when they feel helpless to address their pet’s behavioral concerns and when they feel that this is the only way that they can keep their pet safe and alive. Unfortunately, companies that make and market shock collars prey on these concerns, claiming that their products keep pets safe and save lives. There is no published evidence to support these claims, but there is now considerable evidence published in the peer-reviewed literature that refutes them. Anyone considering the use of shock for behavioral problems— whether it is a remote/ bark activated shock collar, a remote controlled collar, an invisible fence, or a device such as a Scat Mat that shocks anyone who touches it— should know:

  1. The use of shock is not treatment for pets with behavioral concerns.
  2. The use of shock is not a way forward.
  3. The use of shock does not bring dogs back from the brink of euthanasia; instead, it may send them there.
  4. Such adversarial techniques have negative consequences that are dismissed/ ignored by those promoting these techniques18 [Emphasis added]

Jean Donaldson, founder and principal instructor, The Academy for Dog Trainers and author of The Culture Clash states:

Electric shock has no place in modern dog training and behavior management. It is never necessary, and is inhumane and side effect-laden. I know of no valid argument for the continued sale of these devices.”

So What Can You Do To Help Prevent Dogs from Getting Shocked?

Visit the Shock Free Coalition by clicking on the graphic to the left or at the at the following link https://shockfree.org and educate yourself about why shock collars need to be banned. If you are ready to take the pledge and join us, click on the graphic to your right or on the following link https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Sign-The-Pledge 

 

 

 

Once you signed the pledge download materials from Shock Free Coalition and share them on social media. Get your friends and family members to take the pledge as well. While you’re at it, ask your veterinarian, boarding kennel, doggie daycare, groomer, dog walker, and pet store to take the pledge. Why wouldn’t they?

If you would like to learn more about what we are doing in the state of Maine visit our website at http://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME or click on the graphic to the left.

 

 

As the late Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Using electric shock on animals is not treating them kindly or effectively. While we recognize both managing and training a dog can be frustrating at times, there is always a better way to deal with a situation than using electric shock.

References

1 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Guidelines, American Animal Hospital Association, https://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx

2 American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, AVSAB Position Statement The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals. https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

3 British Small Animal Veterinary Association Position Statement on Aversive Training Methods, http://www.bsava.com/Resources/Positionstatements/Aversivetrainingmethods.aspx

4 British Veterinary Association Policy on Aversive Training Devices for Dog, https://www.bva.co.uk/uploadedFiles/Content/News,_campaigns_and_policies/Policies/Ethics_and_welfare/BVA%20position%20on%20Aversive%20training%20devices%20for%20dogs_PS20JUL2016.pdf

5 Polsky, Richard, (2000), Can Aggression in Dogs Be Elicited Through the Use of Electronic Pet Containment Systems?, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 3(4), 345-357, http://www.dogexpert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Electronic-fences.pdf

6 Schilder, Matthijs B.H. and van der Borg, Joanne A.M., (2004), Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects, Applied Animal Behavior Science 85 (2004) 319-334, http://eldri.ust.is/media/ljosmyndir/dyralif/Trainingdogswithshockcollar.pdf

7 Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J. and Jones-Baade, R., Stress Symptoms Caused by the Use of Electric Training Collars on Dogs (Canis familiaris) in Everyday Life Situations, Current Issues and Research in Veterinary Behavioral Medicine, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159106003820

8 Defra AW1402 (2013) Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs. University of Lincoln / University of Bristol / Food and Environment Research Agency.  Final report prepared by Prof. Jonathan Cooper, Dr. Hannah Wright, Prof. Daniel Mills (University of Lincoln); Dr. Rachel Casey, Dr. Emily Blackwell (University of Bristol); Katja van Driel (Food and Environment Research Agency); Dr. Jeff Lines (Silsoe Livestock System). http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=15332

9 Defra AW1402a (2013) Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs; field study of dogs in training. Final report prepared by Prof. Jonathan Cooper, Dr. Nina Cracknell, Jessica Hardiman and Prof. Daniel Mills (University of Lincoln). http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&Completed=0&ProjectID=17568#Description

10 Blackwell et al., The use of electronic collars for training domestic dogs: estimated prevalence, reasons and risk factors for use, and owner perceived success as compared to other training methods, BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:93, http://www.biomedcentral.com/1746-6148/8/93

11 Overall, MA VMD PhD DACVB CAAB, Karen, Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats, Mosby 2013, location 4757

12 Hanson, Don, APDT Chronicle of the Dog, Fall 2015, Assessing Pets’ Welfare Using Brambell’s Five Freedomshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/01/animal-welfare-assessing-pets-welfare-using-brambells-five-freedoms/

13 Scholz, Martina, and von Reinhardt, Clarissa: Stress in Dogs, ©2007, Dogwise Publishing

14 Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., Bradshaw, J.W.S., 2004. Dog training methods—their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Anim. Welfare 13, 63–69. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ufaw/aw/2004/00000013/00000001/art00010

15 Blackwell, Emily J., Twells, Caroline Anne, Seawright, Rachel A. Casey. 2008. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, September/October 2008, pp 207-217. http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878%2807%2900276-6/abstract

16 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Compliance Policy GuideSec. 655.300 Barking Dog Collar,  http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/ucm074684.htm

17Words, Woofs and Meows – How Do I Get My Dog to Walk Politely Instead of Pulling on the Leash? – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/27/dog-training-how-do-i-get-my-dog-to-walk-politely-instead-of-pulling-on-the-leash/

18 Overall, MA VMD PhD DACVB CAAB, Karen, Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats, Mosby 2013, location 4862

19 Pet Professional Guild (PPG) Position Statement on the Use of Shock in Animal Training – https://petprofessionalguild.com/resources/Position%20Statements/Position%20Statement%20on%20The%20Use%20of%20Shock%20In%20Animal%20Training.pdf

20 Bradshaw J.W.S., Blackwell E.J., Casey R.A. 2009. Dominance in domestic dogs – useful construct or bad habit? Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, May/June 2009, pp 135-144. http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878(08)00115-9/abstract

21 Herron M.E., Shofer F.S., Reisner I.R. 2009. Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 117, pp. 47-54. http://vet.osu.edu/assets/pdf/hospital/behavior/trainingArticle.pdf

Recommended Resources

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

Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/25/dog-training-reward-based-training-versus-aversives/

The PPG and AAHA – Making A Kinder World for Dogshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/11/the-ppg-and-aaha-making-a-kinder-world-for-dogs/

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Please Be Cautious When Choosing Who Cares For Your Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/11/pet-care-services-please-be-cautious-when-choosing-who-cares-for-your-pets/

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 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/02/yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-green-acres-kennel-shops-pet-friendly-philosophy-part-1/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The PPG – Part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/05/02/selecting-a-pet-care-provider-yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-the-ppg-part-2/

 

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

Podcast – The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockPodcast

Podcast – The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudgehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/09/27/podcast-the-woof-meow-show-the-pet-professional-guild-and-the-shock-free-coalition-with-niki-tudge/

Podcast –Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinichttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/07/02/podcast-encore-pet-behavior-vets-the-aaha-canine-and-feline-behavior-management-guidelines-dr-dave-cloutier-veazie-veterinary-clinic/

The Unintended Consequence of Shock Collarshttp://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2014-03-29-Unexpected_Consequences_of_Shock_Collars.mp3

 

From the Green Acres Kennel Shop Web Site

Press Release – Green Acres Kennel Shop Joins the Shock-Free Coalition – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/09/25/press-release-green-acres-kennel-shop-joins-the-shock-free-coalition/

Maine Shock-Free Coalition –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/donate/shock-free-coalition-of-maine.html

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2010/07/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-statement-on-pet-friendly-force-free-pet-care/

 

From the Shock-Free Coalition Web Site (https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/advocacy-resources)

The Shock-Free Pledge –  https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Shock-Free-Coalition

The Shock-Free Pledge (PDF) https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/resources/No%20Shock%20Coalition/PPG%20Pledge%20Document.pdf

What is shock traininghttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/What-is-Shock-Training

Electronic Fences, What You Need to Knowhttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Electronic-Fencing-What-you-need-to-know

Are Electronic Shock Collars Painful or Just Annoying to Dogs?https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Are-Electronic-Shock-Collars-Painful-or-Just-Annoying-to-Dogs

What Experts Sayhttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/What-Experts-Say

Myths and Misconceptionshttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Myths-and-Misconceptions

Other Web Articles

Can Aggression in Dogs Be Elicited Through the Use of Electronic Pet Containment Systems?http://www.leaonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/S15327604JAWS0304_6;jsessionid=nFup

Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effectshttp://eldri.ust.is/media/ljosmyndir/dyralif/Trainingdogswithshockcollar.pdf

Association of Pet Behaviour Counselors Press Release on Shock Collarshttp://www.apbc.org.uk/article2.htm

Dog Trainer & Author Pamela Dennison on Invisible Fenceshttps://www.pamdennison.com/why-i-really-hate-electric-sock-invisible-fences/

A scene on shock collars from the documentary Dogs, Cats and Scapegoatshttps://vimeo.com/231589923

©2017, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Vaccinations–Interviews with Dr. Ron Schultz

Vaccines are incredibly important in preventing infectious diseases in both animals and people. However, they can also cause life threatening adverse reactions. This interview discussed the importance of vaccines and how to use them in the safest manner possible.

In Memory of Tikken 300x300I first learned of Dr. Ron Schultz sometime between the spring of 2000 and the spring of 2002. Paula and I had started reading everything we could about vaccinations, especially adverse reactions due to over vaccination, because our Golden Retriever Tikken had started exhibiting some severe behavioral changes in the spring of 2000. Her aggression towards other dogs and subsequent obsessive-compulsive shadow and light chasing began shortly after her third Rabies vaccination. Her first Rabies vaccination was in 1997 when she was a puppy. Her second occurred when she was one year old in 1998 and the third occurred in 2000. At the time Maine law required revaccination for Rabies every two years, even though the Rabies vaccine was labeled as offering immunity for three years.

We were not initially aware that Tikken’s behavioral changes were a result of a vaccine reaction.  We consulted with our local veterinarian who provided treatment and then the veterinary behavior clinic at Tufts University when we saw no improvement. When there was still no improvement we consulted with an applied animal behaviorist in Wisconsin who suggested we explore a homeopathic treatment for Tikken’s disease. In the spring of 2001 Tikken was examined by Dr. Judy Herman of the Animal Wellness Center in Augusta, ME and diagnosed as having had a reaction to the Rabies vaccine. She was subsequently treated and cured for a Rabies miasm by Dr. Herman.

As a result of Tikken’s illness, Paula and I started educating ourselves about vaccines and I came upon the following quote, by Dr. Schultz, from a veterinary text book.

A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccination. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years in the life of the animal. – Veterinary immunologist Ronald Schultz and Tom Phillips make the following statement in Current Veterinary Therapy, volume XI, pp202-206, 1992.

It was apparent that experts in the field felt that the annual vaccination of our pets was not necessary. Knowing the types of reactions that vaccinations could cause, we continued to learn everything we could about vaccines. We also started to share that information with our clients at Green Acres Kennel Shop when I wrote the article Rethinking Annual Vaccinations for our April 2002 newsletter, Paw Prints.

On February 7th, 2013 Tikken crossed the rainbow bridge at 16 years of age. While she had mostly recovered from the behavioral issues resulting from her adverse reaction to the Rabies vaccine, she was never the same confident, anxiety free dog that she was pre-reaction. Her veterinarians have advised us that the two immune mediated diseases (hypothyroid disease and golden retriever uveitis syndrome) she later developed were also probably related to the Rabies vacation and her genetics. The vaccine triggered an abnormal immune response which affected these other organ systems.

Upon Tikken’s passing Paula and I were looking for an appropriate way to remember her and decided to commit to educating others by sharing Tikken’s story and to do a fundraiser for The Rabies Challenge Fund (http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Rabies-Challenge-Fund/119106981159?fref=ts). This interview and the four resulting Woof Meow Shows with Dr. Schultz are part of that educational effort.

The following are notes, not a transcript, from an interview with Dr. Ron Schultz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Schultz is considered to be one of the foremost experts on immunology and vaccinations for pets. The interview occurred on Friday, May 3rd 2013 and was broadcast as four separate editions of The Woof Meow Show on the Voice of Maine WVOM, 103.9FM & WVQM 101.3FM on four subsequent weekends.

  • June 22nd and 23rd – Vaccinations- Why they are important, Core Vaccines & Vaccination Schedules <click to listen>
  • June 29th and 30th  –  Vaccinations, Titer Testing, Non-Core Vaccines and Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex <click to listen>
  • July 6th and 7th –  Vaccinations- Non-Core Vaccines for Cats and Adverse Reactions to Vaccines <click to listen>
  • July 13th and 14th  – Vaccinations – The Rabies Challenge Fund. <click to listen>

The last show has actually aired twice. These four shows have been our most popular podcasts to-date with over 2800 downloads as of October 14th, 2013. All four shows are also available for download at the Apple iTunes store and at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/webpage

Thanks to the generosity of 53 clients, friends and colleagues we were able to raise a total of $1240 with our fundraiser for The Rabies Challenge Fund from September 1st through October 5th. As promised we matched that generosity dollar for dollar and have sent a check to the Rabies Challenge Fund for $2,535 as a memoriam for our Golden Retriever, Tikken.

Thank you to all of you that contributed; Ann Murray, Anonymous, Barbara Cyr, Becky Brimley, Belinda Doliber, Brent & Michele Slater, Carol Higgins Taylor and Juanita Taylor, Carolyn Clark, Chris & Jane Flieller, Cindy Black, Coastside Bioresources, Colleen Pelar, Cynthia Bentley, Cynthia Farrell, Dee Hoult (Applause Your Paws), Doreen & Ken Dybevik, Gary  & Deb Mickalowski, Ginger & David Ward-Green, Heidi Riggs, Helen Musselwhite, Jan & David Pilotte, Jen Shryock (Family Paws), Jill Marple, John Hamer & Anne Marie Storey, Dr. Judith Herman, Julie Perkins, Juliette Humiston, Kathy Klein, Ken & Peggy Grant, Laura Van Dyne, Linda Mosely, Links Online Marketing, LLC (Kristy & Ken Kimball), Maina Fernald, Margaret Hall, Maria Staples, Marjorie Speck, Michael Puls, Michelle Sirois, Nanette Belenger, Patrick Lyons, Ralph Carr, Rhonda & Rick Hutchins, Richard & Cristanna Cook, Rick and Jill Marston, Sandra Payne, Sarah Baldwin, Sherry Pfister, Susan Scammon, Susan Witt, Teoti Anderson and Vanessa Field.

The Shows

Vaccinations (22JUN13-23JUN13)
Why they are important, Core Vaccines & Vaccination Schedules

Core Vaccines

Vaccines are important because they can prevent some very serious vaccine preventable diseases that can make animals very sick and can even kill. Since the veterinary profession started to reexamine vaccines in the 2000’s, they have come up with the term “core vaccines” to identify the vaccinations that all animals should have. These vaccines are so effective that they will prevent the disease in all appropriately vaccinated animals.

According to Dr. Schultz, dogs should receive the following core vaccines Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), Canine Parvovirus (CPV-2), Canine Adenovirus-1 (Infectious Canine Hepatitis [ICH])/Canine Adenovirus-2 and Rabies Virus (RV). The latter is not only important for the dog, but because it is usually fatal and can be transmitted to humans, it is considered a public health issue.

Dr. Schultz recommends that cats receive the following core vaccines; Feline Parvovirus (Panleukopenia) Virus (formerly known as feline distemper distemper)FPV, Feline Calicivirus (respiratory) (FCV), Feline Herpes Type 1 Virus (FHV-1), and Rabies Virus (RV).

Vaccine Schedules

Since the late 1990’s there has been a big change in the recommendations for how often our pets should be vaccinated. For years vaccinations were given annually as part of a pet’s annual wellness exam. This changed with the eventual recognition that pets were being over vaccinated, which in turn in some cases was causing pets to become very ill or to even die.

Dr. Schultz indicates that dogs should not receive any vaccinations before they are six weeks of age. This is because a puppy/kitten gets some immunity through antibodies in their mother’s milk. Those antibodies help protect the puppy/kitten from disease but also will interfere with vaccinations. This is why puppies and kittens receive multiple vaccinations. Although the antibodies in the milk interfere with vaccinations, under no circumstances should you prevent the puppy/kitten from getting these antibodies.

Recommended vaccination schedule: Start at 8-10 weeks, give a second dose 3 to 4 weeks later and then a final dose an additional 3 to 4 weeks later, making sure it is at 14 to 16 weeks of age. By then the mother’s antibodies will not interfere with the vaccinations.

After these initial puppy/kitten vaccinations, Dr. Schultz recommends doing a titer test or revaccination when the puppy/kitten is a year of age and then revaccinating or re-titering no more frequently than every 3 years.

Some breeds (Rottweiler’s and Doberman’s) do not develop an immune response as easily, especially to the canine parvo vaccine. However, studies have demonstrated that if that last dose is at 14-16 weeks of age at least 98% of puppies will get immunized, regardless of breed.

What Determines How Long A Vaccine is Effective?

It’s the specific vaccine and the disease it was designed to prevent that determines how long it will confer immunity. All of the core vaccines, except Rabies, are modified live vaccines. This means that they actually must infect the animal in order to have an immunization effect and therefore must contain an attenuated version of the actual virus. The immunity that is conferred by this type of vaccine, just like the core vaccines for children (measles, mumps rubella), provide long term immunity because they are live, replicating viruses, much like the immunity one would get if one were actually infected with and recovered from those diseases. Immunity conferred by these vaccines is typically many years to a lifetime. If you get measles or are vaccinated for measles as a child you will not get it again anytime in your life, even if you are exposed. That is the same with distemper, parvo, and the other core animal vaccines. That’s why back in the 1970’s Dr. Schultz and others started questioning the need for annual revaccinations of our pets. In other words, for the core vaccines that include a modified live virus, once a pet has had their puppy series and their revaccination at one year of age, they should be immune for life and should NOT require further vaccination. This is why instead of revaccinating annually Dr. Schultz recommends that we only consider revaccination every three or more years. His personal preference is to do titer testing every three years. A disadvantage of titers is they can be more expensive than revaccinating, but it is much safer to do a titer because while the adverse reactions to vaccines are fairly small they still can occur. Plus it’s just not good medical practice to give a vaccine that’s not needed.

Rabies Vaccinations

Titers can be done for Rabies but due to legal and public health requirements, revaccination for Rabies is still required every three years. Those legal requirements don’t necessarily follow science or good vaccination practice, but they are the law of the land.

All states in the US now have a three year Rabies vaccination law. The initial Rabies vaccination should not occur before 12 weeks of age. The second vaccination should occur a year later and any subsequent revaccination for Rabies should not occur more often than every three years. If you travel internationally with your dog, other laws may apply. I had a friend who moved out of the USA and had to have her dog vaccinated for Rabies three times in a few months in order to be admitted to the country where she moved. The dog later developed hyperthyroid disease which is a possible vaccine reaction.

 

Vaccinations (29JUN13-30JUN13)
Titer Testing, Non-Core Vaccines and Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex

Titer Testing

Antibody titer testing is a good alternative to revaccinating every three years and should be considered when you bring your pet in for an annual wellness exam. An annual wellness exam is a very important part of any pet’s ongoing veterinary care. Additionally, some of the non-core vaccines must be given on an annual basis because they are only effective for a year.

Dr. Schultz recommends titers for Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and Canine Parvovirus (CPV-2). Titers are generally not needed for Canine Adenovirus-1 (Infectious Canine Hepatitis [ICH])/Canine Adenovirus-2) if you get positive results for distemper and parvo. Titers don’t need to be done more often than every three years.

Unfortunately there is confusion in the veterinary community as to how to use and interpret a titer test. A common misunderstanding about titering is that it is only a snapshot that indicates an animal’s immunity at a specific moment in time and that it does not indicate if your pet will still be immune in three months. Dr. Schultz indicates that is not the case at all. With regard to Distemper, Parvo and Adeno, a positive titer indicates immunity for life unless the animal contracts a severe disease that suppresses their immune system.

Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs

Non-core vaccines are not necessary for many animals and are only recommended when an animal as at risk of contracting the disease due to lifestyle and or where they live.

Dr. Schultz believes the most important non-core vaccine for the dog is the one for kennel cough or more correctly called Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC). This is a complex disease that involves a number of bacteria and viruses which can cause this disease. Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most prevalent of the bacteria that contribute to this disease. A variety of viruses can also contribute to this disease (Canine Parainfluenza, Canine Influenza virus, and several others). A variety of vaccines exist to reduce the severity of kennel cough.

“You cannot prevent kennel cough like you can prevent Distemper. You can prevent Parvo. You can prevent Adeno, ( infectious canine hepatitis). What we do is when we give the kennel cough vaccine we’re hoping to reduce the severity of the disease and we can’t as I say prevent it, as it is so complex.” – Dr. Ron Schultz

Other non-core vaccines for the dog that are important are Leptospirosis (caused by four different serovars/strains). The other disease that is regional for which there is a vaccine is Lyme disease.

These non-core vaccines, unlike the core vaccines, only provide short-term immunity and must be given annually.

Why don’t these vaccines confer long term immunity? It has to do with the immunity of the animal. There are some diseases, with humans too, where once we get the disease we develop a lifelong immunity. An example with this with humans would be measles. But with humans and animals there are also many diseases which we can get over and over again like Lyme disease and the common cold.

Some of the human vaccines that only give short term immunity would be tetanus. Part of the reason dogs require more frequent vaccinations than humans is that they don’t live as long.

Kennel Cough/CIRDC

Most boarding facilities, daycares and training classes require the canine cough vaccine, even though it’s not a core vaccine. Over the past 15 years the vaccines that are used for this complex group of diseases have changed, as well as the protocols for their administration. What in your opinion really works best?

First we need to remember that canine cough/CIRDC is not vaccine preventable. The vaccines only reduce the severity of the disease. Part of that is because we don’t even have vaccines for some of the organisms that cause CIRDC. However, even where we do have vaccines, they are often only 60% to 70% effective. That’s why a dog can be vaccinated and still get CIRDC.

For Bordetella, the most important bacterial component of canine cough, we now have an injectable vaccine which is made from a dead organism, an intranasal vaccine which is a modified live vaccine, and an oral vaccine which is made from a modified live organism. The two live vaccines are more effective than the dead vaccine. Dr. Schultz recommends revaccination on an annual basis and prefers the intranasal vaccine. It not only includes Bordetella but also canine Parainfluenza. Since the normal path of infection for these diseases is via the respiratory system, Dr. Schultz feels the intranasal approach is the best way to administer this vaccine.

Both Bordetella and canine Parainfluenza can also be administered by injection, but Dr. Schultz indicates that neither work as well as the vaccine administered intra-nasally. Some dogs will develop a cough after being given the intranasal vaccine but it is not an infection but is actually an allergic reaction to the Bordetella component of the vaccine. These dogs have not developed canine cough but because they have a hyper sensitivity to the vaccine they are coughing.

 

Vaccinations (6JUL13-7JUL13)

Non-Core Vaccines for Cats and Adverse Reactions to Vaccines

 

In cats there are very few non-core vaccines that are recommended. While Feline Leukemia has previously been recommended annually this has changed to every 2 to 3 years since the publication of the new guidelines. It is now only considered a core vaccine for all kittens because if we get a major part of the population of kittens vaccinated we could reduce or even eliminate Feline Leukemia virus as a cause of disease in the cat. It would require two doses given between 8 and 10 weeks of age and between 12 to 14 weeks of age. Dr. Schultz would recommend a third vaccine again at one year and then no further vaccines for FeLV. They have actually eradicated Feline Leukemia in Switzerland using this type of vaccine program with kittens.

The Feline Immune Deficiency Virus vaccine is not recommended by Dr. Schultz. There is also a Feline Infectious Peritonitis vaccine that is available and most feline practitioners do not recommend this vaccine.

Non-Adjuvanted One Year Rabies Vaccine for Cats

A non-adjuvanted Rabies vaccine that requires annual revaccinations is also available for cats. In addition to the ingredients used to stimulate the immune response many vaccines contain an adjuvant, which is an additional ingredient designed to further stimulate the immune system. Unfortunately, this adjuvant is often the vaccine component which causes an adverse reaction, hence the development of this non-adjuvanted vaccine. This will probably become a three year vaccine in the near future.

Adverse Reactions Caused By Vaccines

Injection site sarcomas, the development of a malignant tumor at a vaccine injection site was one of the reasons vaccines started to be looked at more critically. This was discovered in the mid 1980’s when these lethal tumors started showing up in cats.

Vaccines do have the potential to cause harm, but for years the prevailing attitude was if a vaccine doesn’t help, it least it won’t hurt. Obviously this was not the case and people started to reexamine if their pets should be vaccinated so frequently, much less at all.

In general vaccines are very safe. Less serious adverse reactions can include causing a change in pigmentation at the injection site. The injection site sarcoma was very much a species issue related specifically to the cat. Injection site tumors in the dog are very rare. All of these adverse reactions are determined by the genetics of the animal, not only the vaccine. When breeders observe these vaccination reactions in litters, they need to make sure that those animals producing these litters are not bred again. Doing so only perpetuates the genetics and increases the odds of an adverse reaction.

Autoimmune diseases are genetically controlled but can be triggered by vaccinations. Immune mediated hypersensitivities like anaphylaxis have both a genetic and a vaccine component. Adverse reactions do not always occur the first time a vaccine is administered but can occur after subsequent vaccinations when the animal becomes hypersensitive.

Certain vaccines are more likely to trigger this type of hypersensitivity.  The Leptospirosis vaccine and the injectable Bordetella vaccine have caused hypersensitivity reactions. It’s often not the antigens in the vaccine, the substances that are meant to help the animal, that cause the reactions. Reactions are often caused by other ingredients in the vaccine like Bovine Serum Albumen, adjuvants, etc. By vaccinating only with the vaccines that are absolutely necessary and as infrequently as possible, we can minimize the risk of adverse reactions.

There are many adverse reactions that can occur from a vaccination. Dr. Schultz has a list over a page long of potential vaccine reactions. Even behavioral changes can be the result of an adverse reaction because the immune system is closely integrated with both the nervous and endocrine system. This is why behavior can be affected by a vaccine.

The only reactions that are considered to be caused by a vaccine are those that happen immediately, within 15 minutes to an hour after vaccination. There are other reactions that can happen days, weeks and even months later.

 

Vaccinations (13JUL13-14JUL13)

The Rabies Challenge Fund

Tikken’s Story

Don and Tikken-1with text 600x903Our Golden Retriever Tikken had started exhibiting some severe behavioral changes in the spring of 2000. Her aggression towards other dogs and subsequent obsessive-compulsive shadow and light chasing began shortly after her third Rabies vaccination. Her first Rabies vaccination was in 1997 when she was a puppy. Her second occurred when she was one year old in 1998 and the third occurred in 2000. At the time Maine law required revaccination for Rabies every two years, even though the Rabies vaccine was labeled as offering immunity for three years.

We were not initially aware that Tikken’s behavioral changes were a result of a vaccine reaction.  We consulted with our local veterinarian who provided treatment and then the veterinary behavior clinic at Tufts University when we saw no improvement. When there was still no improvement we consulted with an applied animal behaviorist in Wisconsin who suggested we explore a homeopathic treatment for Tikken’s disease. In the spring of 2001 Tikken was examined by Dr. Judy Herman of the Animal Wellness Center in Augusta, ME and diagnosed as having had a reaction to the Rabies vaccine. She was subsequently treated and cured for a Rabies miasm by Dr. Herman.

For more about Tikken, the Rabies vaccination and here treatment: <click here>.

The Rabies Challenge Fund

This is a project conceived by Kris Christine whose Labrador Retriever, Meadow, had an adverse reaction to a Rabies vaccine. Meadow developed a mast cell sarcoma at the injection site of the Rabies vaccination. Kris actually recruited Dr. Ron Schultz and another veterinarian, Dr. Jean Dodds, also very involved in vaccine work, to start a study to answer the question how long is the duration of immunity from today’s Rabies vaccine used with dogs? Current vaccines are labeled by the USDA as one year or three year vaccines. In some of these cases the vaccines are actually identical.

Because Rabies is a disease that can affect humans in addition to animals it is regulated more strictly than other vaccines. The duration of immunity is actually determined by challenging previously immunized animals with exposure to the disease to see if they survive. No additional challenge tests have been done beyond three years. A goal of the Rabies Challenge Fund is to complete this study at the 5 year and 7 year points.

The Rabies vaccine given today is a killed or non-infectious vaccine. Typically the duration of immunity for vaccines of this type is much shorter than the duration of immunity for modified live vaccines. For example a distemper killed vaccine provides immunity for about a year while a distemper vaccine made with modified live virus has a duration of immunity equal to the lifetime of the animal.

Up until the mid-1980’s, the Rabies vaccine was made with a modified live virus and that vaccine likely would result in lifetime immunity. However, because a few cats that received that vaccine actually developed a Rabies infection after vaccination the USDA no longer allows this vaccine to be used in the US. It is unclear why these cats developed Rabies from the vaccine. It is quite possible that their immune systems were already compromised due to an infection of Feline Leukemia virus.

The goal of the study being conducted by the Rabies Challenge Fund is to determine if the current killed vaccine will offer immunity up to five and seven years.

A new advance in Rabies vaccines is the development of vaccines made with recombinant technology. A feline version of this Rabies vaccine already exists. It behaves like a live vaccine but it cannot actually infect an animal with Rabies. This technology has also been used with the Distemper vaccine for the dog. That vaccine gives as long a duration of immunity as a modified live virus vaccine, up to nine years, which is considered a lifetime. Since there is no live virus in the vaccine it is also safer. It is also safer because recombinant vaccines, unlike killed virus vaccines, do not require the addition of adjuvants to help increase the immune response. It is believed that the hypersensitivity reactions to vaccines may be in part caused by these adjuvants.

The Rabies Challenge Fund is funded entirely by animal owners, not vaccine companies or any other company. The University of Wisconsin has been very generous in reducing the costs of the study since it is being funded by animal owners. Donations have come from individuals, dog clubs and others. The study is not over and fundraising is ongoing. If you are interested in helping fund this project you can find more information at (http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/).

The Rabies Challenge Fund is not only doing research but has also done some very effective lobbying to change the laws in all 50 states so that dogs only need to be revaccinated for Rabies every three years. Prior to that effort, there were many states that required the Rabies vaccine annually.

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Training – Chewing

< Updated 9APR16>

Click here to listen to a podcast on chewing broadcast on The Woof Meow Show on 12JAN113

OBJECTIVE: To learn how to manage your dog’s chewing behavior.

Tikken Chewing Nylabone
Tikken Chewing Nylabone

While a puppy may chew more during the teething stage, chewing is a very normal behavior for dogs of all ages. They do it out of pleasure; they do it to pass the time; they do it to relieve stress, and they do it to exercise their jaws and teeth. We need to allow our puppies and dogs to have an outlet for natural behaviors such as chewing. It is our responsibility to provide them with things that they can chew on and to help them learn that they are only to chew on their specified chew toys.

When they first come into our homes, dogs and puppies have no way of knowing the difference between a chew toy and a cell phone. They do not understand that a pair of shoes represents a $150 chew toy; they just know the shoes are available and are a pretty good chew. Consider all the items in your home that your dog is NOT allowed to chew in contrast to the number of things he is allowed to chew. Is it any wonder our dogs guess wrong some of the time?

Given the way a puppy works, we need to start training him early on as to what items he can chew. The first step is to restrict your puppy’s access to anything but his chew toys unless he is actively supervised. This keeps your belongings and your puppy safe. Sometimes dogs chew things that result in serious injury or illness.

Active supervision means that if you are not monitoring the puppy, you need toTikken with a stuffed Kong keep him in his crate or a puppy-proof room when he cannot be supervised. Adequate supervision means a responsible adult is devoting all of their attention to supervising the puppy.

The three key steps to chew training are:

  1. Get your dog some suitable chew toys and teach him how wonderful they are. There are five broad types of chew toys; natural chews like rawhide, bully sticks, antlers and other animal parts, man-made hard chews made to simulate a bone, man-made soft chews like rope toys and toys made of softer rubbers and plastics, toys that dispense treats and in doing so provide your dog with some mental stimulation, and super durable toys that are almost indestructible.

Natural Chews

Our favorite in this category is the Bully Stick. It is an all-natural chewing alternative made from a tendon from a steer. Unlike rawhide, your dog is unlikely to swallow too large a piece of the Bully Stick, and with most dogs they last a substantial amount of time. We occasionally use rawhide but are always very particular about the rawhide we choose. Rawhide is not naturally white/beige. It is normally brown and only becomes lighter colored after a great deal of chemical processing. For this reason, we prefer to only use rawhide that is manufactured in the USA. We always supervise the dogs when they are given any natural chew to make sure that they do not try to swallow more than they should. These types of chews are edible, but intake should be limited.

Man-made hard chews

These are probably the most common chew toys for dogs and often the most durable. Our favorite in this category are the NylaboneÒ products. They come in various sizes, flavors and degrees of hardness for the puppy and adult dog that is a voracious chewer. Many NylaboneÒ products also help keep your dog’s teeth and gums clean and healthy. If your dog lacks enthusiasm toward his NylaboneÒ, try sanding the surface gently with some fine sandpaper. This will help release the flavor. Another alternative is to drill some holes in the bone that you fill with peanut butter.

Man-made soft chews

Some of the NylaboneÒ products fall in this category as do rope toys and many of other products. Basically, these are any soft toys the dog can chew with supervision. Remember, because they are soft, your dog will be able to destroy them with less effort. They may not be appropriate for voracious chewers, even when supervised.

Treat dispensing chew toys

The toys in this category not only give your dog something to chew, but they can also keep him very busy. The granddad in this category is The KongÒ. Made of a hard, natural rubber and available in different sizes, their unique shape makes them bounce in an unpredictable manner, and their hollow center allows them to be stuffed with goodies. A KongÒ stuffed with various size pieces of dog biscuit, kibble, or carrot can keep your dog busy and out of trouble.

Super Durable Chews

GoughNuts come in sizes for small dogs to big dogs and in a variety of shapes (donut, stick, ball and cannoli). They are floatable, cleanable, roll-able, chewable, recyclable, fun-able, and available at Green Acres! Designed and manufactured in the US, each GoughNut contains an internal, red indicator material. If you can see the red material the toy has been compromised and should be considered “unsafe” and disposed of or returned to GoughNuts for a replacement. GoughNuts is so confident that this will so seldom occur that their guarantee states “If your dog chews through the outside wear layer, Green or Black, to expose the indication layer, Red, GoughNuts will replace your toy.” You do need to pay for shipping, but that is a pretty impressive guarantee for a chew toy.

No matter what toy or toys you choose, show your dog you are interested in them. Play with them and he too will start to show an interest.

  1. Prevent your dog from learning it is acceptable to chew things other than his toys
  • Make sure your dog is confined in his crate or a puppy-proof room unless you can keep him under 100% supervision.
  • When he starts to chew something he is not supposed to, redirect him to one of his chew toys. Praise him when he chews his toy. Do not bring more attention to the dog by scolding him for chewing an inappropriate item. Also, reflect on how your dog got access to the item he was not supposed to have and what you can do to prevent future access.
  • If your puppy chews things such as cords, try spraying them with a product such as BitterÒ Apple or Bitter YUCK!™. These products have a very bitter taste which 99% of dogs find objectionable. Once the dog chews on a treated item, it will stop chewing because it tastes so bad. We do sell two brands because some dogs amazingly like the taste of this stuff.
  1. Once your dog is doing well, start to give him more access to your home while continuing to keep him under close supervision. If he starts chewing something he is not supposed to chew, trade him for a chew toy. Now that he has been trained to know what he can chew it will be easier to redirect his attention.

Recommended Resources

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

Especially for New Puppy Parents

©2016, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>