Can You Trust What You Read on the Internet?

Words-woofs-Meows-High Res with TM 755x800As the internet has grown, blogging has become very popular. It’s a great medium for a writer to share their thoughts and an easy means for a reader to learn something new. However, as we’ve learned from that famous commercial for State Farm Insurance just because it’s on the internet does NOT mean it’s true. Likewise, just because someone writes about something and posts it online does not mean that they have any qualifications to be posting on a particular topic. Lastly, some bloggers, like myself, write to share information and do so freely. I get no financial remuneration for anything that I post on my blog unless after reading something you decide to utilize the services of my business. However, some bloggers are compensated every time you read their work or are compensated by companies for posting articles that promote certain companies and products. For example, my wife and I, and Paula is not a blogger, recently received the following email:

Dear Don & Paula,

We are reaching out to you to invite you to participate in our sponsored paid post program. While conducting research we identified your company’s blog as an excellent fit to help us create awareness of our brand and product. We’d love to inform your readers about how Company with Questionable Ethics [NOTE: I changed the company name for the purposes of this post] can be used to help keep dogs safe in the home and yard. We are limiting participation to 10 bloggers on a first come, first serve basis.

As a sponsored host, you will receive a payment of $225 USD via PayPal upon publication of an article on invisible fencing options. Additionally, we will give you a $25 Amazon gift card for one winner to serve as an incentive for your readers to engage by either commenting or sharing the post on social media.

Because we want our messaging to be aligned to your readership, you may choose to either write an article from your perspective as a pet services provider, or you may choose to post an article provided by us and specifically crafted for your blog [emphasis added].

If you decide to participate we do need the post to be published no later than August 7 and the giveaway winners selected no later than August 14. If we find that you are an influencer, we will add you to our list of preferred bloggers and invite you to participate on additional paid and sponsored blogging activities.

The small print:

The article must include several do-follow links to informational material on our website. You may indicate this is a sponsored post.

We are happy to help you by engaging in conversation with your readers and addressing concerns regarding dog fences.

Attached is a sample sponsored post. If you agree to participate, we will provide you with more specific guidelines for posting. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.

Now obviously this company did not research me or Green Acres Kennel Shop very well or they would have discovered that the likelihood of me posting anything on my blog recommending shock collars is non-existent. However, I suspect that they use this approach because it works and unfortunately for dogs and the people who love them, found 10 bloggers who played along and just like Judas received their 30 pieces of silver, or in this case $225.

The point to this post: Be careful out there, not everything you read is true, and not everyone will be honest with you. Endorsements by celebrities and less-than celebrities are often far from honest and nothing more than paid advertising made to appear as sincere belief.

Not sure why I wouldn’t recommend a shock collar? <Click here>


 

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

Pets, Who Cares for Them When You Are Away?

< A version of this article was published in the September 2015 issue of Down East Dog News>

Don and Muppy - Summer 2014
Don and Muppy – Summer 2014

It is September, and Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here before you know it. If you plan on going away for either holiday and will need someone to care for your pets at that time, you should be looking for that someone NOW. No matter who cares for your pets during your absence, there are only so many spots available at the inn, and when they are gone, they are gone. The best places will typically fill up weeks in advance of the holidays. While pet care providers may have last minute cancelations, you probably don’t want to bet your airline tickets on that.

A friend or family member, a professional pet sitter, or a professional boarding facility are all options that you may wish to consider when looking for someone to care for your pets when you go away. This post will highlight some of the benefits and disadvantages of each of these options as well as review factors that apply to all of the various pet care choices.

Before entrusting the care of your pet to anyone you should:

  • Notify your veterinarian and let them know that someone else is caring for your pet and may be contacting them in case of an emergency.
  • Set up an opportunity for your pet to meet those that will be caring for them. Make sure that your pet is comfortable around them. Likewise, the caregivers need to be comfortable with your pet. If your pet is not staying at your home while you are away, it is a good idea to give your pet an opportunity to familiarize themselves with where they will be staying ahead of time.
  • Make sure that the people caring for your pet understand their behavior and any health issues. It is absolutely essential that you be completely upfront and honest about your pet’s health status and behavioral quirks. If your pet has aggression issues, failing to disclose all the details about your dogs aggression and reactivity is putting others at risk. If they have occasional lameness, and you forget to mention this, you may put your pet at risk for overexertion.
  • Make arrangements for an emergency contact, someone who can authorize medical care for your pet in the eventuality your pet care provider is unable to contact you. This individual may also be needed to care for your pet if the pet care provider indicates that they cannot care for your pet. Your contact may need to assume financial responsibility for your pet in your absence. Most veterinary practices, especially emergency clinics, require payment upfront. Emergency veterinary care can easily result in a bill greater than $1000. If the pet is a senior or has existing health issues, you may want to leave written instructions for the veterinarian with your pet care provider, just in case they require medical attention in your absence.
  • Whoever is caring for your pet should have contact information for you, your veterinarian and the closest emergency veterinary clinic. They should also have a copy of your pet’s most recent vaccination records and any other information applicable to specific health concerns for your pet.

Before you entrust the care of your pet to anyone, you should ask them the following:

  • Have you had formal training in pet first aid and are you able to apply first aid if necessary?
  • Have you had training in and experience with supervising interactions between pets that do not interact on a regular basis? Are you familiar with basic canine body language?
  • Do you have experience in giving pets medications; pills, ointments or injections?
  • Do you promise that you will not use any of the aversive tools or techniques defined as harmful in the AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines? Tools and methods that the guidelines list as harmful are; prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. As horrendous as this sounds it has happened, even here in Maine.

Friends and Family

Having a family member stop by your home or having them take your pet to their home while you are gone is certainly an option worth considering. However, it is in your pet’s best interest that a friend or family member have the same basic qualifications as noted above. Also, consider that the holidays are especially hectic events for most families and are probably a less than an ideal time to take on pet care responsibilities for someone else. You will want to ask a friend or family member many of the same questions you would ask a professional pet, sitter. You will also want to review where your pet will be staying. Is there a fenced yard where your dog can spend some time outdoors? If your dog has a quiet area for sleeping, ask if they will have a similar area where they will be staying? If your friend has pets of their own, and they do not get along with your pet, will the friend be able to keep all pets separate, safe and happy?

Professional Pet Sitter

A pet sitter can often be a good alternative for a pet that is unsettled by change. A pet that is anxious in new environments or is uncomfortable around other animals may do better staying in their home. Likewise, a senior pet that is no longer in the best of health may find it easier to stay at home.

When looking for a pet sitter I always suggest that you look for someone that will check your pets during the day and be there at night to watch over your pets and your home. How often they check in on your pets during the day will be variable with your pets specific needs; however, I would recommend a minimum of two visits per day. While cats can technically get by with someone stopping by for a half hour twice a day, the same cannot be said for dogs. You want to keep your pets schedule as normal as possible, so a pet sitter should be in your home the same times of the day that you and another family member are there.

Maine does not regulate pet sitters, so make sure you check them out thoroughly. In addition to asking the questions above, I suggest you also ask:

  • Are you a member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, Pet Sitters International or the Pet Professional Guild? Although not the same as being licensed, a pet sitter that is a member of at least one of these associations is demonstrating a commitment to their profession. Those that are members of the Pet Professional Guild must also commit to and follow PPG’s Guiding Principles. A significant part of the PPG Guiding Principles is this statement: “To be in any way affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild Members Understand Force-Free to mean: No shock, No Pain, No Choke, No Fear, No physical force, No physical molding, No compulsion based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.”
  • How much time will you be spending with my pet(s)? In addition to feeding your pet and taking care of bathroom breaks, a pet sitter should be playing with and exercising your pets and depending on your pet, just spending some time with them relaxing.
  • What steps will you take if my pet accidentally gets away from you and runs off? Make sure that they can safely handle your pet when taking them outside so that your pet does not inadvertently run off.
  • How many employees do you have?
  • What happens if you get sick, are in an accident, have car trouble or there is a blizzard? What will you do to ensure that my pets will be cared for on schedule, every day? Many pet sitters are one person businesses. Please be sure they have a contingency plan in place and that you are comfortable with how they will ensure your pets are cared for if they are unable to do so.
  • Are you and your employees bonded and insured? Remember, a pet sitter will have keys to your home.

Professional Boarding Facility

Professional boarding facilities are regulated and licensed in the state of Maine; they must follow state regulations for the boarding of pets. These rules govern housing, feeding, sanitation, record keeping and basic standards of care. However, these rules are typically very rudimentary, and the best facilities will do far better. The best facilities will have staff training requirements for pet first aid, pet behavior, health, and handling skills. They may often include daily playtime as part of their package. Most facilities will have detailed contracts that you will be asked to sign for the benefit of you as well as the business.

Most pets do very well when boarding and many facilities suggest you give your pet a “test drive” by either boarding during the day or maybe even trying an overnight before you book a weeklong vacation. In addition to the questions above, the following are some suggested questions for the kennel.

  • Are you licensed? Even though it is a legal requirement, some try to get around the law.
  • Is anyone on your staff credentialed as a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant or Certified Professional Dog Trainer? Understanding pet behavior is critical when caring for someone’s pet. Changes in a pet’s behavior can be subtle, and may often be the first sign that they are not doing well physically and emotionally. Individuals that have the above certifications have been accredited by internationally recognized organizations and must continue their education to maintain their certification. Having at least one such person on staff is a sign of a superior facility.
  • Do you allow interactions between other dogs and if so, how are they supervised? Supervising dogs at play, especially dogs that do not interact on a frequent basis, requires knowledge of canine behavior and communication. Staff training will include professionally developed programs on these topics. Staff will evaluate each dog for size, age, and playstyle.  A staff person will always supervise dogs when at play. At Green Acres, we have one pet technician for every five playing.
  • Does someone stay at the facility at night? In some cases, owners may live on site, but there are facilities where that is not the case. Prior to purchasing Green Acres my wife and I we boarded our pets. Having someone on site at night was and is still an essential requirement for us when boarding our pet.
  • I am repeating the following from above, but that is because I believe it is so important. Do you promise that you will not use any of the aversive tools or techniques defined as harmful in the AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines? Things that the guidelines list as harmful are; prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. Sadly there are facilities in Maine that use these tools and methods.

Hopefully, you now have some ideas of what to look for if you need someone to care for your pets. If you are going away for the holidays, now is the time to start looking. Keep in mind that pet care providers are busiest when pet owners travel, which often corresponds to when the kids are out of school. Reserve your spots early!

For more information on Green Acres Kennel Shop and our boarding services, check us out at www.greenacreskennel.com, or better yet stop by and visit us in person at 1653 Union Street, Bangor ME. We can be reached at 207-945-6841.

You can listen to an episode of The Woof Meow Show where we discussed this topic at http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-09-05-Pet_Care_Options_When_You_Go_Away.mp3

______________________________________________________________________________
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>

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

25JUL15-Dog Training w-Mark Hanks-Part-3 400x400Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinic has been a frequent guest on The Woof Meow Show, giving Kate and I several opportunities to “pick his brain” about a wide variety of topics. For quite some time he’s been asking to “host” the show and to turn the tables so to speak; interviewing Kate and I and asking us questions about animal behavior and training.

 

This is part three of a four part series with Dr. Hanks as guest host.

In this episode Dr. Hanks asks Kate and Don about: dominance, pack hierarchy and alphas and the current science which indicates wolves are a cooperative social species, the benefits of kind leadership as opposed to coercive based leadership, the myth of dogs doing things just to please us, temperament and personality in dogs, the importance of knowing parents because of the genetic role in temperament, “stubborn” dogs versus under-motivated dogs, epigenetics and the possibility of mental health disorders in dogs like autism and PTSD, and temperament as a continuum and nature versus nurture.

You can listen to this episode of The Woof Meow Show at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-07-25-Dog_Training_Questions_for_Don_and_Kate_w_guest_host_Dr_Mark_Hankspart-3.mp3

You can download this episode of The Woof Meow Show at the Apple iTunes store, or you can download it at: http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/webpage

You can listen others episodes in this series at the links below.

Pet Behavior Counseling and Don and Kate – 10JAN15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/01/10/podcast-pet-behavior-counseling-and-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 1– 12JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/12/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-1/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 2– 19JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/19/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-2/

For more information on the Woof Meow Show go to: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/woof-meow-show/the-woof-meow-show

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

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

18JUL15-Dog Training w-Mark Hanks-Part-2 400x400Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinic has been a frequent guest on The Woof Meow Show, giving Kate and I several opportunities to “pick his brain” about a wide variety of topics. For quite some time he’s been asking to “host” the show and to turn the tables so to speak; interviewing Kate and I and asking us questions about animal behavior and training.

In this episode Dr. Hanks asks Kate and Don about: Green Acres holistic approach to training (husbandry, nutrition, body language, ethology, and training) and how we work with families to understand their dog and the importance of having a good foundation of education so people can better understand their dogs, how some students may attend class without their dog either because their dog is sick, in heat or simply because the dog learns better at home, private training options at Green Acres, the critical period of puppy socialization and habituation, why socialization needs to be actively planned and implemented by owners – it doesn’t just happen, what do you do you when want your puppy to be a therapy dog, the difference between therapy dogs, service/assistance dogs, and emotional support dogs, the fake service dog epidemic, can you teach an old dog new tricks, how do you deal with constant barking, and how do you deal with clients that need the dogs behavior changed tomorrow.

You can listen to this episode of The Woof Meow Show at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-07-18-Dog_Training_Questions_for_Don_and_Kate_w_guest_host_Dr_Mark_Hankspart-2.mp3

You can download this episode of The Woof Meow Show at the Apple iTunes store, or you can download it at: http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/webpage

You can listen others episodes in this series at the links below.

Pet Behavior Counseling and Don and Kate – 10JAN15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/01/10/podcast-pet-behavior-counseling-and-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 1– 12JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/12/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-1/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 3– 26JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/27/blog-post-27jul15-podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-3/

For more information on the Woof Meow Show go to: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/woof-meow-show/the-woof-meow-show

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

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

11JUL15-Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate w-Mark Hanks-Part-1 400x400Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinic has been a frequent guest on The Woof Meow Show, giving Kate and I several opportunities to “pick his brain” about a wide variety of topics. For quite some time he’s been asking to “host” the show and to turn the tables so to speak; interviewing Kate and I and asking us questions about animal behavior and training.

In the second of four shows in this series, Dr. Hanks interviews Don and Kate about their experiences as professional dog trainers. He asks Kate and Don about: how training has changed in the past 26 years since Mark began his practice, why training a dog is important, the importance of training for mental enrichment, how breed effects training and compatibility with a family, how human intervention has adversely effected health and behavior, researching dogs before one decides what dog and breed to get, making temperament a key decision when picking a dog, what we typically teach a client and their dog, Green Acres holistic approach to training (husbandry, nutrition, body language, ethology, and training), inadvertent reinforcement of undesirable behaviors, the continuing necessity to refute antiquated and inaccurate myths about canine behavior, the optimal age for starting training,  the structure of Green Acres training classes, Green Acres program to help parents find the best pet for them, how family lifestyles have changed and how that affects time for a dog, knowing when to wait before starting a group training class, and how they deal with special needs rescue dogs.

You can listen to this episode of The Woof Meow Show at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-07-11-Dog_Training_Questions_for_Don_and_Kate_w_guest_host_Dr_Mark_Hankspart-1.mp3

You can download this episode of The Woof Meow Show at the Apple iTunes store, or you can download it at: http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/webpage

You can listen others episodes in this series at the links below.

Pet Behavior Counseling and Don and Kate – 10JAN15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/01/10/podcast-pet-behavior-counseling-and-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 2– 19JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/19/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-2/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 3– 26JUL15 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/27/blog-post-27jul15-podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-3/

For more information on the Woof Meow Show go to: www.woofmeowshow.com

 

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

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – A Veterinary Perspective – Part 3

This article first appeared in the July 2015 edition of the Downeast Dog News.

<You can listen to a companion podcast to this article, first broadcast on The Woof Meow Show on the Voice of Maine on June 27, 2015, by clicking here>

When this series started back in April, the intent was to alert pet owners that not all pet care services are pet-friendly and to emphasize the importance of making sure a pet has the most positive experience possible when it is boarding, day-caring, being groomed, training or while at the veterinarian. All of these animal care services can be done with a pet friendly approach; our pets deserve that. In this column I’ll be focusing on visits to the veterinarian and how many in the veterinary community are working to make those visits fear-free.

Few people look forward to visiting the doctor or the dentist so we should not be surprised when our pets get anxious at the veterinarian. A healthcare usage study by Bayer Veterinary indicated that 37% of dog owners and 58% of cat owners said their pets hate going to the vet1. Going to the vet can be a frightening experience and fear is a powerful emotion. According to Dr. Marty Becker, “Fear is the worst thing a social species can experience and it causes permanent damage to the brain.” As a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, I work with many dog owners and their dogs, often on fear related issues. It is a basic survival mechanism that allows fear to be locked into a memory in an instant and that trauma can be remembered for a lifetime. While these fears may be overcome, it can often take weeks, months, and even years of work to do so.

Unfortunately, if we as pet owners and the pet care professionals handling our animals don’t recognize the signs and detrimental effects of stress and fear in our dogs and cats we cannot help them. In her blog The Science Dog, Linda P. Case recently wrote about fear and two research studies2 that examined how well owners and pet care professionals recognized and responded to signs of stress and fear in dogs. The first study indicated that over 90% of the people that participated could tell when a dog was happy; however, only 70% of dog professionals and 60% of dog owners could identify the fearful dogs. [bold emphasis mine]. That means a significant number of pet professionals and dog owners cannot tell when their dog is stressed or afraid. Clearly there needs to be more education in this arena.

The late Dr. Sophia Yin, a veterinarian and animal behaviorist, made it her mission to educate other veterinarians, pet professionals and pet owners on how people can better understand and interact with pets so as to reduce stress for all concerned. Her seminars, DVDs, and book on low stress handling of pets have helped pet professionals make their practices “pet-friendly.” When professionals can identify fear and stress, and know how to respond accordingly, they can make efforts to minimize or eliminate it so that pets actually enjoy visiting and being handled. At the same time, the skills learned help staff become more competent in animal handling, resulting in improved safety for all parties and reduced costs. Pet professionals, pet owners and pets are all benefiting tremendously from these practices3.

Many other veterinarians are also addressing this issue.  Dr. Marty Becker is a veterinarian who is actively educating his colleagues on the importance of fear-free veterinary visits. In January, Dr. Becker presented on this topic at the North American Veterinary Community conference1, one of the largest continuing education events for veterinarians in the world. He talked about the Hippocratic Oath taken by veterinarians which emphasizes “First do no harm” and to “Cure sometimes. Treat often. Comfort always” [bold emphasis mine]. He discussed how the intense focus on medicine has caused veterinarians to sometimes neglect the parts about doing no harm. Dr. Becker continually underscores the value of making sure a patient is comfortable.

The trend toward fear-free veterinary visits is rapidly growing. A Google search of the words “fear free veterinary visits” yields about 819,000 results. The website DVM360, a website for the veterinary community, lists 19 articles on the fear-free philosophy from April 1st through June 5th alone.

With this trend, the move towards “Fear-Free” veterinary care is alive and well in Maine. Kate and I recently invited Dr. David Cloutier, from the Veazie Veterinary Clinic4, to join us on The Woof Meow Show to discuss his clinic’s approach to fear-free veterinary care. Dr. Cloutier is clearly very passionate about this topic. He explained how it’s not only the best approach for the vet, the vet’s staff, the pet owner and the pet, but is also personally very rewarding.

On our show with Dr. Cloutier we talked about dogs and cats and the fact that creating a fear-free visit for a cat is every bit as important as a fear-free exam for a dog however, because of a cats highly developed flight or fight instincts, doing so takes even more effort. Dr. Cloutier worries that if a cat owner has a bad experience taking their cat to the veterinarian that they may never go back to any veterinarian. This can result in very negative consequence for that cat’s health which is why making every visit a good one is so essential.

Some of the things that Dr. Cloutier and his team at Veazie Veterinary are doing to make a pet’s visit fear-free include staff training on behavior, stress, and canine and feline body language, having separate waiting areas for dogs and cats, being patient and allowing pets time to settle, minimizing restraint as well as the number of people in the room with the animal during an exam and treatment, using high-value treats to reward calm behavior and to desensitize a pet to any perceived threats, using pheromones like Feliway with cats to help calm them, and teaching clients what they can do at home to help prepare their pets for a visit to the vet.

It is essential for all pet care professionals to be following a pet friendly, fear-free philosophy if we are going to do well by your pets. If one of us causes a pet to have a fearful experience, due to the way the brain processes and remembers fear, that animal may now fear all of us.

Lastly, we talked with Dr. Cloutier about the role of the pet owner in reducing stress. That role starts with learning about your pet and signs of stress and discomfort.  Next it requires you to be an advocate for your pet and all of the people that participate in your pet’s care. You not only need to make sure that pet professionals that care for your pet follow a pet friendly philosophy, but you also want to make sure that family members and friends that care for your pet also follow your philosophy. Your pet cannot speak for themselves so please ask questions and speak on their behalf. They’ll be glad you did.

Next month’s article will be focused on specific things you can do at home to help prepare your pet for a visit to your veterinarian, a boarding kennel, the groomer, or a training class.

References

1 Creating Fear Free® Veterinary Visits Puts Pets Back Into Practices -DrMartyBecker.com, Presentation at NAVC – http://www.drmartybecker.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Creating-Fear-Free-Veteirnary-Visits-NAVC-15-FINAL.pdf

2 Fear Itself, The Science Dog, June 9, 2015, by Linda P. Case – https://thesciencedog.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/fear-itself/

3 http://drsophiayin.com/

4 http://www.veazievet.com/

 

Other Links of Interest

Signs of anxiety and fear in dogs from Dr. Marty Becker – http://dvm360.com/sites/default/files/images/pdfs-for-alfresco-articles/Signs_of_anxiety_fear.pdf

Links to the first two part of this series can be found below.

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

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

 

______________________________________________________________________________
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>

Bach Flower Remedies – An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedies

(This article was first published in the March/April 2006 issue of The APDT Chronicle of the Dog. Copyright 2006 The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, www.apdt.com, 1-800-PET-DOGS, information@apdt.com, and was included in the book The Dog Trainer’s Resource 2, edited by Mychelle Blake, and published by Dogwise Publishing in 2008. The article was updated 0n 24JUN15 to include new web addresses, to change the term “Bach Flower Essences” to “Bach Flower Remedies,” to provide updated information on our consultation services, and to add additional references.)

BFFP_Cafe_PressLike many people, I was initially very skeptical of complementary and alternative medicine and treatments such as Bach Flower Remedies. Having an engineering/science background, I found it difficult to deal with the concept that complementary medicine could not always be explained by science. It wasn’t until one day when I had one of those “a-ha!” moments that I discovered they might be a subject worthy of further study. My moment began with a client who had a dog with mild separation anxiety. Our discussion revealed 1) the dog was mildly destructive when left home alone; 2) the clients were concerned about the dogs emotional state but not what was being destroyed; 3) they were uncomfortable with the idea of using any drugs such as Clomicalm but were open to natural remedies; and 4) in my opinion the couple was unlikely to have the time or motivation to follow my standard behavior modification protocol. They were very busy and the problem was just not severe enough to cause them to take action.

I wanted to help these people and their dog, but was uncertain how to proceed. Based upon their comments it was obvious that my normal treatment plan, Clomicalm from their veterinarian and a behavior modification protocol, was not going to be acceptable. I asked if they had heard of Bach Rescue Remedy®. I explained that I had limited knowledge of flower remedies, but that I had been looking for a natural, anti-anxiety treatment for one of our dogs, and had done a little research on this product and had heard of many people who had great success using Rescue Remedy®. I provided them with dosage guidelines, and sent them to the local health food store to buy a bottle (since this was before we sold the Bach Flower Remedies at our store). Approximately one week later my clients called and told me that after giving the dog Rescue Remedy® for a week, all separation problems had resolved! The clients indicated that they had made no changes in their routine, were not treating the dog with anything other than the Rescue Remedy® and had done no behavior modification. They reported that there dog was no longer showing any signs of stress when left alone and all destructive behavior had ceased. While this is only anecdotal evidence, it was enough to convince me that I needed to learn more about Bach Flower Remedies.

Most of the information I will be presenting in this article is based upon anecdotal evidence. Because it is not based upon statistical research and the scientific method, anecdotal evidence is often dismissed by the scientific community, yet the following is a prime example of the role and importance that it plays. As early as the 1700’s, sailors were fed limes as a way of preventing scurvy. This practice was based strictly on anecdotal evidence. It wasn’t until 1932 and the discovery of vitamin C that the scientific method was able to prove why limes and other citrus fruits helped prevent and cure scurvy. Fortunately, no one stopped sailors from eating limes because scientists had not completed a study demonstrating that eating limes cures scurvy. Anecdotal evidence is often the first step in the discovery of new methods and ways of thinking.

Bach Flower Remedies fall into the realm of complementary and alternative medicine along with Chinese medicine and acupuncture, herbal medicine, aromatherapy, homeopathy, and others. You will not find vast numbers of studies scientifically and statistically proving these modalities work, yet much of the world’s population, including many scientifically trained physicians and veterinarians, use these modalities with great success on a daily basis. While my engineering background initially caused me to be very close-minded about complementary medicine, I have seen first-hand, with myself, pets, friends, family and clients, how complementary modalities do heal.

A few studies have been published on the use of Bach Flower Remedies with people. These studies concluded that they were effective in treating clinically depressed patients1, safe and effective when used with children for a variety of disorders2, and effective at reducing stress3,4.

What Are the Bach Flower Remedies

The Bach Flower Remedies are all natural, very dilute solutions made from spring water, an alcohol preservative, and the parts of specific flowers. They are used to help balance the emotions and bring about a state of equilibrium in living organisms, and have been successfully used with people, animals, and even plants. Bach Flower Remedies are listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS), have been issued with National Drug Code (NDC) numbers by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are sold as over-the-counter homeopathic products in the United States.

Although the Bach Flower Remedies are listed in the HPUS and are prepared at a 5X homeopathic dilution (0.00001 gram of active substance per milliliter of tincture) they are not considered homeopathic medicine. While they are prepared from plant material, they do not fall in the same category as herbal medicine. The fact that we refer to them as “essences” suggests to some that they are aromatherapy—the use of essential oils and other aromatic compounds from plants to affect someone’s mood or health—which they are not. Flower remedies fill their own unique niche in the arsenal of complementary medicine. Like homeopathy, Chinese medicine and acupuncture and Reiki, the Bach Flower Remedies work at an energetic level in the body. This class of complementary therapies is usually called vibrational medicine. In his book, A Practical Guide to Vibrational Medicine, Dr. Richard Gerber, a physician, describes vibrational medicine and the Bach Flower Remedies thusly:

Vibrational medicine is based upon modern scientific insights into the energetic nature of the atoms and molecules making up our bodies, combined with ancient mystical observations of the body’s unique life-energy systems that are critical but less well understood aspects of human functioning. Bach believed that his flower remedies would not only neutralize negative emotionaland mentalenergy patterns but also infuse positive vibrations associated with specific virtues into an individual such as the virtues of love, peace, steadfastness, gentleness, strength, understanding, tolerance, wisdom, forgiveness, courage or joy.”

The Chinese call this energy Qi, homeopaths call it vital force, and Dr. Bach called it “positive vibrations.” While we cannot currently use scientific instruments to measure any of these forms of energy, many believe in their healing ability. There are many entrenched in the world of orthodox, traditional medicine who would say it is unwise to use a method of healing when we do not completely understand how it works. This is why there has been resistance to complementary medicine by many modern scientists. Yet, our knowledge of many medicines accepted by the traditionalists is equally sketchy. Aspirin, found in most household medicine cabinets, has been commercially available since 1899, yet scientists only began to understand how aspirin worked in the 1970’s. Buspirone (Buspar) is a commonly prescribed drug for certain anxiety disorders. In 2006 when I originally wrote this article, The National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus database (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/uspdi/202100.html) contained the following citations for Buspirone:

“Buspirone is used to treat certain anxiety disorders or to relieve the symptoms of anxiety.”

“It is not known exactly how Buspirone works to relieve the symptoms of anxiety.”

[NOTE: The Internet changes and the web address above no longer works. However, thanks to the WayBack Machine, a project to archive the internet, you can still view this citation at: https://web.archive.org/web/20060613050327/http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/uspdi/202100.html.]

Considering that Bach Flower Remedies can also be used to treat anxiety and do not have the side effects of Buspirone, I believe consideration of the Bach Flower Remedies would be a smart choice.

There are a total of 38 different Bach Flower Remedies, 37 made from specific flowers and one made from the water of a spring believed to have healing properties. Each remedy is used to treat a specific emotion or state of mind such as fear, anger, apathy, etc. These are all emotions that most people can readily identify in themselves and in other people, and with training can also identify in animals. These emotional states and their corresponding remedy are all described in The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies by Edward Bach, MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, DPH. Dr. Bach’s goal was to create a system of medicine that was simple enough that people who become familiar with the remedies through his publications could identify their negative emotional state, select the corresponding remedy and thus treat themselves.

The Bach Flower Remedies may be used individually or in combination. Rescue Remedy® is the only combination remedy prepared and sold ready-made; it contains five remedies and is typically only used for emergencies or extremely stressful situations when the subject is in a state of mental or physical shock, terror, or panic. It should not be used as a replacement for veterinary care, but it is often used as a complement to traditional treatments. I know of many people who use Rescue Remedy® to calm themselves before trips to the dentist and who also use it with their pets before trips to the veterinarian. I always carry a bottle in my briefcase and car, so it is available in case of an emergency or accident.

The Bach Flower Remedies are very safe. The only contra-indication is hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients. Since the botanical component is so dilute, a reaction is very unlikely. Grape alcohol is used as a preservative, so the essences may be unsuitable for those sensitive to alcohol.

Bach Flower Remedies are not used to treat physical disease, but rather the emotional state of the patient. They can be used to help resolve fear and anxiety, anger, grief, and many other emotions. Common sense and numerous research studies5 have shown how stress can have a negative impact on the immune system. Anything that we do to reduce or relieve stress, including use of Bach Flower Remedies, has the potential to positively affect our immune system and thus aid in maintaining physical health.

History of the Bach Flower Remedies

The Bach Flower Remedies were discovered by Dr. Edward Bach, a Welsh physician practicing medicine in the early 1900’s. Trained in conventional allopathic medicine, Dr. Bach observed that his patients’ recovery seemed to have as much to do with their emotional health as it did with any physical condition. Those in a positive emotional state recovered quicker.

Dr. Bach’s area of expertise was bacteriology, but as he became more intrigued with the emotions of his patients, he started to study the work of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathic medicine. Homeopathic medicine emphasizes treating the “whole” patient including their emotions and mental state, rather than focusing exclusively on physical symptoms. As a result of his research, Dr. Bach developed seven nosodes to treat intestinal disease. A nosode is a homeopathic remedy made from a pathological specimen. The Bach nosodes are made from bacteria found in the bowels. As Dr. Bach began to use the nosodes with his patients (which are still in use today) he observed that he could select the appropriate curative nosode for his patients based solely on their emotional state6.

While Dr. Bach was very satisfied with the positive effects of homeopathy, he was concerned that many of the typical homeopathic remedies were made from toxic substances (bacteria, Belladonna, Mercury, Arsenic, etc.). He was convinced that if he were to devote his efforts to searching among the wonders of the natural world, he would find non-toxic medicines that would have a similar effect. In 1930 Dr. Bach left an extremely lucrative private practice in London and started on his quest to find what would become known as the Bach Flower Remedies. During the next six years he would discover and successfully use the same 38 essences that we use today.

My Journey with the Bach Flower Remedies®

After my “a-ha!” experience I enrolled in the Dr. Edward Bach Foundation’s practitioner training program. (http://www.bachcentre.com/found/index.php) The foundation offers two training tracks; one for those who wish to use the remedies with people and one for those who wish to use them with animals. You must complete the first two levels of the human track before applying for the animal program. My level one and two human classes each involved two days of study in Boston, MA. These classes provided an in-depth review of each of the 38 essences and their use. The level two class also included case studies and an overview of counseling techniques.

I completed my animal training at the Natural Animal Centre in the United Kingdom, the only place where the animal courses were offered at the time. This training involved a two -day, three-day, and four-day class and readings to complete at home in between sessions. (http://www.bachcentre.com/found/animal.htm) The classes covered the remedies as well as animal behavior and emotions, and counseling techniques. While we focused on canine, feline, and equine behavior we also studied turtles, rabbits, pigs, and other species. At the conclusion of the classes there is both an oral and written exam. Upon passing the exam, I had to successfully complete a series of case studies and a field study, before qualifying as a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). I have taken additional continuing education on the use of the Bach Flower Remedies both in the UK and the US.

Since completing my qualifications in December of 2003, I have been using the remedies with almost all of my behavioral clients. I have found them especially useful in treating many of the fears and phobias seen in pets. If a client’s veterinarian has recommended a prescription drug, I advise the client to continue to use that drug in conjunction with the Bach Flower Remedies. One of the nice things about the remedies is that they can be used with other treatments, including homeopathy, without interference.

The Consultation Process

The most current information on our behavior consultation services can be found at: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/behavior-consultations.

The Bach Foundation Code of Practice requires that I have a veterinary referral before recommending specific remedies and that I actually observe the animal’s behavior. When working with clients that are unable to bring their pet to my office in Maine, I review video of the pet’s behavior and work with the client, their local veterinarian, and a training or behavior specialist.

At the conclusion of the consultation I provide the client with a behavior modification protocol as well as a combination of remedies for their pet’s specific emotional profile. I usually use both behavior modification and Bach Flower Remedies because it has been my experience that the use of the remedies can shorten the amount of time for a given behavior modification protocol. One of the biggest problems with behavior modification is getting the pet’s guardian to comply with the protocol. If the remedies shorten the amount of time required it’s a win-win for the guardian and the pet. In these cases I cannot prove the remedies helped resolve the issue; however, I have also treated some cases only with remedies and have seen dramatic results.

I continue to have “a-ha!” moments with the remedies. For example, In 2005 I was treating a dog with severe resource guarding issues, some of the worst I have ever seen. Seven days after treatment with the remedies, and prior to beginning any behavior modification, the client sent me an e-mail noting “profound changes” in the dog’s behavior. I had them continue with the remedies and behavior modification due to the severity of previous incidents, but the dog has never again exhibited any guarding behavior and has become more engaged with her guardians. The behavior modification protocol we used involved safely identifying the items that were considered valued resources, managing the environment to prevent uncontrolled access to those items, and gradual desensitization to the loss of those items. While there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate that the Bach Flower Remedies caused this dramatic change in this dog’s behavior, if I look at the dog’s behavior, the remedies selected, and the short time in which the change occurred, I believe it makes a very strong anecdotal case for the use of Bach Flower Remedies.

I do not have a set of standard combinations of remedies used for specific problems (e.g. separation anxiety, resource guarding, show dog formula, etc.) as each pet must be evaluated as an individual. Two dogs, each with separation anxiety, may be treated with entirely different combinations of remedies. I remain in contact with the client and meet with them as the situation requires. At times I treat both pet and guardian, as often the pet is feeding off the guardian’s emotions. In almost all cases, the problem is treated as a chronic problem rather than an acute issue or passing mood. For chronic behavior problems, remedies should be administered at least four times per day7, 8.

The Bach Flower Remedies are not the proverbial “magic bullet.” While the two cases I have summarized showed dramatic improvement within a week, treatment typically takes longer. Depending on the issue being treated, the length of time the problem has existed, and the clients compliance, issues may start to resolve in anywhere from two weeks to a year. I have found the remedies typically help to accelerate the behavior modification process and therefore help improve client compliance. If clients start to see results, they are more likely to continue with the behavior modification protocol and the administration of recommended remedies.

Tips on Using Rescue Remedy®

Bach Rescue Remedy®, the most well-known of the Bach Flower Remedies, is a combination flower remedy formula created specifically for addressing stress in emergency or crisis situations. The remedies used in this formula help with trauma and shock (Star of Bethlehem), terror and panic (Rock Rose), hysteria or loss of control (Cherry Plum), impatience and agitation (Impatiens), and faintness and stunned feelings (Clematis). It is usually only used for acute or emergency situations, but can be used for treating chronic conditions, when appropriate. It can help after an accident or in any situation that causes extreme anxiety, nervousness or terror. Rescue Remedy® often has an immediate calming effect, and is safe, gentle, and non-toxic. It may be taken as often as needed without fear of overdosing.

Rescue Remedy® is not, however, a magic, instantaneous solution for long standing behavioral problems. While it can be helpful in reducing the stress and anxiety of a timid animal, it will not make them into a gregarious, “I love everybody” dog. Nor will Rescue Remedy® remove your pet’s natural instincts, although it can help your pet to adapt those instincts to its environment.

When dealing with sudden behavior changes, you should arrange for a complete medical evaluation by your veterinarian to rule out any physical or medical reasons for the behavior change before trying Rescue Remedy® or any of the other Bach Flower Remedies

How to treat your pet with Rescue Remedy®

Do NOT use Rescue Pastilles with pets as they contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol which is toxic to pets.

Rescue Remedy® is usually administered by mouth, diluted in spring water. A little goes a long way, because it is not necessary to use it directly from the stock bottle you purchase. If you wish, when you purchase a stock bottle, you may also buy an empty 30 ml eyedropper bottle to be your treatment bottle. To prepare the treatment bottle for use with your pet, do the following:

  1. Fill the treatment bottle ¼ full with vegetable glycerin, brandy, or vodka to act as a preservative. If you chose not to use a preservative, you must refrigerate the treatment bottle.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with spring water (do not use not tap water). Dr. Bach specified spring water because he felt it was natural, unlike tap water which can be loaded with chemicals.
  3. Put four drops of Bach Rescue Remedy® in the treatment bottle. You will treat your pet from this bottle.

Treating for an Acute Condition or Emergency

An acute situation might be a visit to the veterinarian or groomer, a thunderstorm, a dog fight, or a seizure. It is something that happens suddenly and rapidly affects your pet’s emotional state.

Place four drops of the mixture from the treatment bottle on your pet’s gums or tongue or on a treat or small piece of bread. Alternatively, you may apply the mixture to the paw pads, nose, belly, or ears. The remedy will be quickly absorbed from these areas.

If you see no improvement in 20 minutes, administer an additional four drops.

 References

1Masi, MP. (2003) BFE treatment of chronic major depressive disorder, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Vol. 9 No. 6.

2Campanini, M. (1997) Italian medical study of 115 patients, La Medicine Biologica; Anno XV, n.2, Aprile-Guigno.

3 Cram, J. (2001). Two double-blind scientific studies of flower essences and stress. Flower Essence Society, www.flowersociety.org.

4 Walach, H. & Rilling, C. (2001). Efficacy of Bach-flower remedies in test anxiety: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial with partial crossover. Journal of Anxiety Disorders UK. 15(4) July-August.

5Segerstrom, SC & Miller, GE (2004). Psychological stress and the human immune system: A meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 4.

6Howard, J. & Ramsell, J. (1990) The Original Writings of Edward Bach. The C. W. Daniel Company, Ltd., England.

7Bach E. (1933) The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies. The C. W. Daniel Company, Ltd., England.

8Product Information and Usage Guidance Sheet, Nelson Bach USA Ltd., Wilmington, MA. http://www.nelsonsnaturalworld.com/en-us/us/our-brands/bachoriginalflowerremedies/about-the-remedies/faqs.

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

Help! – My Dog’s Been Skunked! (Phew!!!)

skunk-canstockphoto3735380If your dog has had an altercation with a skunk, the first thing you need to do is to check for injuries. Make sure there are no bites or scratches. If there is any possibility of the latter, get your dog to your veterinarian immediately. Skunks can carry rabies, and you want to make sure your dog and you are safe.

If the skunk has just turned your happy dog into an anti-air freshener, your next step is to clean them up. We strongly encourage you to avoid trying tomato juice. In our experience all this will do is make more of a mess and give your dogs coat a pinkish tint. While there are several specialty products made for removing skunk odor, we have found that the following home products do the best job. It is what we use when you bring your dog to us to be “de-skunked.”

In an open container, mix the following:

  • 1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of a liquid dish detergent, such as Dawn

(This amount of mixture will handle a dog the size of a beagle)

Wet your dog with water.

  • Work the solution into the dog’s coat with a bath puff and let it set for a bit.
  • Rinse the dog’s coat with water.
  • You may need to repeat if the skunk odor is still strong.

 

You may want to use a conditioner, formulated for a dog’s skin and coat, to restore the proper moisture to the coat and skin. When done, dispose of any remaining solution. DO NOT PUT THIS SOLUTION IN A BOTTLE!!! Once mixed, the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda is no longer stable.

<Click here if you wish to print the a reminder for future use>

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

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

This article first appeared in the May 2015 edition of the Downeast Dog News.

<You can listen to a companion podcast to this article, first broadcast on The Woof Meow Show on the Voice of Maine on May 2, 2015, by clicking here>

Trust. Before becoming part of the pet care service industry I found it essential to get to know someone very well before entrusting them with the care of my pets. It’s a character trait that I find essential when leaving my pets in the care of someone other than myself. I need to be confident that my furry family members will be cared for to my standards.

I find that those of us that work with pets professionally are often trusted without a great deal of questions. Many seem to assume that because we work with animals that we will care for their pet the same way that they would. WhileIm A PPG Dog I believe that is true for me and my staff at Green Acres, there are people in the pet care services industry where that can be a dangerous assumption, as noted below.

Last month a post came through on my Facebook feed with the title “Unauthorized Use of Shock Collar Angers Dog Owner.” It referenced a story reported by KSNV My News 3 in Las Vegas which discussed a pet owner who left their dog with a pet sitter, only to come home and to discover that the pet sitter had used a shock collar on their dog. The dog’s owner had not been told this would happen, nor would it have been something they would have authorized. The dog’s owners were rightfully upset and angry and were stunned that something like this could happen. This is exactly the type of behavior in the pet care service industry that I was warning pet owners about in my last column. And yes, this type of thing has happened in Maine, more than once.

When I share stories like the one above the usual response I get is moral outrage followed by “How can something like this happen?” That’s when I explain what I feel are three reasons why this can and does happen.

  1. The pet care service industry is minimally regulated if regulated at all. Regulations typically only occur at the state and/or municipal level and often only focus on a facilities cleanliness, amounts of space and a pet’s physical care. A pet’s mental or emotional well-being is simply not covered in most regulations. Here in Maine, pet boarding facilities are regulated but there is no professional standard of knowledge that is legally required of the people that own and manage and care for the pets that they board. For example, there is no standard that says a boarding kennel operator needs to be knowledgeable about; pet first aid and CPR, canine social behavior, feline social behavior, species specific communication, and the supervision of animals in group play. Those that do not offer boarding but only provide daycare, group play, pet sitting, grooming and training are essentially not regulated at all. Just because someone likes dogs and has had a dog of their own does not mean that they have the knowledge and experience to safely care for the pets of others.
  2. Pet parents assume, with good intentions, that everyone in the pet care industry has the requisite knowledge and experience to properly care for pets, loves pets, and wouldn’t intentionally do anything harmful to a pet. That is a dangerous assumption and as I noted in last month’s column there are some questions a pet parent should always ask before leaving their pet in someone else’s care.
  3. The pet care industry does not currently have a universally accepted standard of care that encompasses the physical, mental and emotional well-being of pets. Fortunately that is changing with the advent of the Pet Professionals Guild, the first international organization to be committed to being “The Association for a Force-Free Pet Industry

ProudMembers BadgeThe Pet Professional Guild (PPG) was founded by Niki Tudge in 2012. PPG’s focus started on dog training and the need to help the industry move beyond the out-dated concepts of dominance and coercion/punishment based training. Today the PPG is open to all in the pet care services industry as well as pet owners. In a recent interview on The Woof Meow Show, Ms. Tudge described PPG as a place where professionals could come together and help each other, support each other, learn from each other, and network. Additionally, she described PPG as a meeting place where pet owners could access those pet professionals that share their values. She stated: “It is a place where we can advocate for how we believe our pets should be trained and cared for.”

At the heart of the Pet Professionals Guild commitment to force-free pet care is their “Guiding Principles.” A pet care professional can only become a member if they agree to abide by these principles which are clearly stated on the PPG website. Section one states: “To be in anyway affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild Members Understand Force-Free to mean: No shock, No pain, No choke, No fear, No physical force, No physical molding, No compulsion based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.” To me that’s pretty clear and fits right in with how we have officially defined “pet friendly” at Green Acres for years. Based on feedback we get from our clients at Green Acres,’ I’d say a significant  majority of pet parents are looking for pet care providers that comply with this type of standard but as I’ve noted before, people need to ask to make sure providers do indeed actually comply with these standards.

On the May 2nd/3rd edition of The Woof Meow Show Niki, Kate and I discussed the growth of doggie daycare and the lack of professional standards and regulations. We discussed how supervising dogs playing together requires extensive knowledge and training in order to keep dogs safe and to make sure that every dog is having a good time. Niki indicated that PPG will be launching an accreditation program for dog trainers, behavior consultants and other pet care professionals in the coming months. Green Acres’ has developed its own extensive training program for our staff but we look forward to learning more about PPG’s move towards industry wide standards because we know they are necessary so that all families can feel comfortable when they leave their pet in someone else’s care.

The Pet Professional Guild was founded in 2012 and in less than three years has grown to over 4000 members across 27 countries. Pet owners can join for free and get access to webinars, some free, the PPG publication “Barks From The Guild,” and other great articles.

The Pet Professional Guild website (http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/) can also be a valuable resource for pet owners to find trainers, boarding facilities, daycares, groomers and others that share PPG’s force-free philosophy and that have committed to abide by PPG’s Guiding Principles. If the couple in the news story “Unauthorized Use of Shock Collar Angers Dog Owner” had selected a PPG professional member, their dog wouldn’t have ended up wearing a shock collar.

If you’re a pet owner/parent I encourage you to join PPG. What have you got to lose, it’s free! If you are a provider of services to pets (boarding kennel, daycare, pet sitter, dog walker, groomer, trainer, behavior consultant, vet tech and veterinarian) I encourage you to take the pledge to commit to force-free pet care by joining PPG and supporting other force-free pet professionals.

Next month I’ll wrap up this series with a discussion of what veterinary clinics are doing to make your pet’s visit to the vet fear-free.

Links to the other two parts of this series can be found below.

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

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

______________________________________________________________________________
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>

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

<Updated 2MAR17>

This article first appeared in the April 2015 edition of the Downeast Dog News.

<You can listen to a companion podcast to this article, first broadcast on The Woof Meow Show on the Voice of Maine on April 11, 2015, by clicking here>

Leaving your dog at a boarding kennel, doggie daycare, grooming salon, training facility, veterinary clinic or even leaving them at home with a pet sitter is not a decision you should make lightly. The question you need to ask yourself is: what happens once you are gone? How will your pet be treated? Will your pet be comfortable and relaxed during their stay with their caregivers? While there are many wonderful facilities that could easily and honestly answer that your furry companion is in great hands; this is not true for all. However, it is with great relief that I can say with some confidence that we are beginning to see a trend toward kinder and gentler professional pet care. Today, the terms “pet friendly,” “force-free,” and “fear-free” are becoming much more commonplace in our industry.

In 2012, the Pet Professional Guild was founded in an effort to “provide educational resources to pet trainers and professional pet care providers and advocates for mutually agreed guiding principles for the pet care industry.  PPG partners, members and affiliates focus on each pet’s physical, mental, Im A PPG Dogenvironmental and nutritional well-being adhering to a holistic approach to the care and training of family pets.” In a nut shell, the ultimate goal of the PPG is to be “The Association for a Force-Free Pet Industry.” At the same time, thanks to the efforts of the late Dr. Sophia Yin and Dr. Marty Becker, veterinarians are learning how they too can make your pet’s visit to their office a fear-free experience.

Nevertheless, the reality is that the terms “pet friendly,” “force-free” and “fear-free” have no legally binding definition. These standards are voluntary and not mandated by any regulatory agency so it is still a case of “buyer beware.” Even though many facilities are licensed by the state, nothing in the law requires staff training or that a facility focus on minimizing stress and anxiety for the animals in their care. Nor do these laws restrict facilities from using aversives such as squirt bottles, citronella collars or other confrontational techniques. It is in your pet’s best interest that you have a discussion with any prospective pet care provider before leaving your pets in their care. The following are some questions that you should ask:

  • Is your staff trained in canine behavior, body language and stress signals?
  • How will you handle the situation if my pet is scared or fearful?
  • What do you do if my dog barks while they stay with you?
  • How does your staff respond if a pet growls?
  • How is the staff trained to respond if my dog jumps on them?
  • Will my pet interact with other pets that are not part of their family? If so, how will these interactions be supervised?
  • Are punishers, such as squirt bottles, ever used?
  • Will my pet ever wear a shock, citronella, choke or prong collar while with you?
  • Would your staff ever attempt to dominate or alpha-roll my dog?
  • During peak times, do you overbook? Is there a chance my pet will be boarded in a crate instead of an indoor/outdoor run?
  • At what point do you stop a nail trim or a grooming if the dog is showing signs of stress and discomfort? How and when do you decide if an animal will be muzzled?
  • Are you and your staff members of The Pet Professional Guild and do you follow their “Force-Free” philosophies?

The following is a recent example of how we worked with a dog boarding at Green Acres for the first time:

A new dog arrived for its first boarding stay. It was placed in its indoor/outdoor kennel. Immediately the dog began to back away and growl at staff when they attempted to approach it to take it outside. The pet care technician on duty contacted the manager who then came to assess the situation. Very slowly, and allowing the dog to do all the approaching, the manager was able to hook the dog to its own leash and the dog was taken for a walk to get an opportunity to assess the environment. The dog was walked on leash several times the first couple of days, by multiple staff members, until it reached a point where it was very relaxed and comfortable in the kennel. In addition, a DAP/Adaptil (dog appeasing pheromone) diffuser was plugged in near this dog’s kennel.

On this dog’s final day, it was scheduled to have a grooming. The dog was very good for the bath, but when it was time for the nail trim, it immediately tensed and became agitated. The decision was made to not to do the nails. The dog in question had progressed so far, from being absolutely terrified on day one to having a good stay, and we did not want to undo that progress. It was imperative for this dog’s future kenneling experiences that this first visit end on a good note, and forcing a nail trim would not have been beneficial to the mental health of the pet.

ProudMembers BadgeWhile we understand, and even expect, that a trip to the boarding kennel, groomer or veterinarian will have some associated stress for your animal, the onus is on those of us in the industry to make these visits as relaxing and fear free as possible. These changes need to happen system wide and here at Green Acres we call upon all other facilities to join the movement and become pet friendly facilities and we also call upon you, the consumer, to see that it happens.

For more information on Green Acres philosophies on “Pet Friendly” pet care, visit our website and look for our position statements on Pet Friendly Pet Care and Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs.

Next month, we will go into a discussion about the Force-Free philosophy of The Pet Professional Guild and their efforts to educate pet guardians and the pet care services industry about force-free pet care. In addition, we will explore what veterinary clinics are doing to make your pet’s visit to the vet fear-free.

Links to the other two parts of this series can be found below.

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

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

Green Acres’ First Statement on Being A Pet Friendly-Facility – <Click Here>

______________________________________________________________________________
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>