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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books

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

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

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

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

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

See Spot Live Longer – Steve Brown and Beth Taylor

The Truth About Pet Foods – Dr. Randy Wysong

Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet – Steve Brown

 

©31JUL17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Podcast – Health and Wellness – Eileen Anderson Remember Me? – Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

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Kate and Don talk with author Eileen Anderson about her book Remember Me – Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Like the author, Don and Kate have both lived with older dogs that developed cognitive dysfunction or what is often generically referred to as doggie dementia. No matter how old your dog is, we encourage you to tune into this show, so you are better prepared to recognize signs that your older dog needs some help.

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To Learn More

Website –  https://dogdementia.com/ AND www.caninecognitivedysfunction.com

©11JUN17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Book Review – Remember Me? Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction by Eileen Anderson

I would recommend that anyone with an older dog read this book. Thanks to modern veterinary medicine our dogs are living longer, and that means that they are more susceptible to age-related disorders like arthritis and dementia. In the past 21 years, I have lived with six dogs that lived into their teens. Three of them, fifty percent, experienced varying levels of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, or what some call “doggie dementia.” I have friends and colleagues that have had dogs that also experienced this disorder. As the owner of a boarding kennel and daycare, I can say, anecdotally, that the incidence of doggie dementia seems to be increasing. That is why I recommend that you read this book.

Author Eileen Anderson starts by sharing the story of her Rat Terrier Cricket and how dementia affected both of their lives. She discusses the symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, the importance of getting a veterinary diagnosis, and various treatment options. Anderson also explains how to manage your dog’s environment and daily routines to minimize stress for the dog and you. I like that she emphasizes that caring for a dog with this disorder will impact your life and can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster.  Anderson stresses the importance of taking good care of yourself if you want to be able to do the best for your dog.

The author’s guidelines on how to help your dog face specific challenges such as drinking, eating, elimination, hygiene, sleeping and basic movement are all very helpful. I love that she has discussed the importance of mental enrichment to help keep your dog’s mind engaged. Mental stimulation is something that I recommended with a young dog, long before you need to worry about dementia, but I find often overlooked until it is too late. If you are not already providing your dog with frequent mental stimulus, talk to a reward-based trainer and ask how they can help.

Anderson discusses medications and supplements that can be helpful in managing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. The one area where I differ with her is on the topic of nutrition. I would recommend any pet owner work with a holistic veterinarian to develop a diet made of fresh whole foods, rather than feeding highly processed food from a bag. Nutrition is the foundation of good mental, physical, and emotional health and that starts with fresh food, whether we are a person or a pet.

At the end of the book, there are recommendations on techniques you can use for objectively assessing your dog’s quality of life and on factors to consider when making that difficult decision about euthanasia.

Recommended Resources

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

Assessing Pets’ Welfare Using Brambell’s Five Freedomshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/01/animal-welfare-assessing-pets-welfare-using-brambells-five-freedoms/

 

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

Podcast – The Special Needs of Senior Pets with Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinichttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/02/25/podcast-the-special-needs-of-senior-pets-with-dr-mark-hanks-from-kindred-spirits-veterinary-clinic/

Web Sites

The website companion to Remember Me?http://dogdementia.com/

Grief Resources

Argus Institute Counseling and Support Services (Colorado State University)http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/vth/diagnostic-and-support/argus/Pages/default.aspx

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavementhttp://www.aplb.org/

Lightning Strike Pet Loss Supporthttp://www.lightning-strike.com/index.htm

 

©8-Mar-17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Pet Professional Profile – Teoti Anderson – Dog Trainer, Author & Speaker

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9JUL16-Meet Teoti Anderson 400x400Kate and Don interview Teoti Anderson from A Dog’s Best Friend in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Teoti is a dog trainer, an internationally recognized speaker and author of seven books on dog training, including her latest; The Dog Behavior Problem Solver: Step-by-Step Positive Training Techniques to Correct More Than 20 Problem Behaviors. Teoti shares how she got interested in dog training and started her career as a pet care professional. We discuss her book, asking her to address the top three problem behaviors she sees with her clients. We round out our interview with Teoti asking how she would advise a first-time puppy parent and a student interested in a career as a pet care professional.

You can learn more about Teoti at:

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620, WZON, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://www.wzonthepulse.com or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show, and can be downloaded at www.woofmeowshow.com and the Apple iTunes store.

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

Book Review: Barking: The Sound of a Language by Turid Rugaas

Barking- The Sound of a Language by Turid RugaasAnother excellent little book from Turid Rugaas, this one dealing with a common complaint from dog guardians – “My dog barks too much.” Rugaas explains the many reasons dogs bark and offers advice on how to determine why your dog is barking. She also offers suggestions on how to change your dog’s behavior so they bark less. Since many of the reasons dogs bark excessively are a result of stress and anxiety, Rugaas addresses the need to reduce the dog’s stress, which may mean changing our behavior as well. She also clearly explains why punishment based strategies and tools like anti-barking shock collars are more likely to make the problem worse, rather than better. If you feel your dog is barking too much, this book is a MUST READ. Even if your dog is quiet as a mouse, I recommend this book as it will give you greater insights to your dog’s vocalizations and their canine point-of-view.

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

Podcast/Book Review- Considerations for the City Dog by Melissa McCue-McGrath

Considerations for the City DogKate and I recently had dog trainer and author Melissa McCue-McGrath join us on two episodes of The Woof Meow Show to discuss her new book. Considerations for the City Dog. The book offers excellent advice on what to consider before getting a dog, which is the subject of our first show (Interview with Melissa McCue-McGrath author of Considerations for the City Dog – part 1 – click to listen).

In the second show (Interview with Melissa McCue-McGrath author of Considerations for the City Dog – part 2 – click to listen ) we get into the nitty gritty of the book which is useful to any dog owner, whether city dweller or hermit. Topics we discuss include; the environmental shock that can occur when a dog rescued from the rural south ends up in a major urban area like Boston. We also discuss how these dogs are transported and how that can negatively impact the dog’s future behavior. Many rescues do this right, but some do not, and intentionally flaunt the law. Like Kate and I, Melissa believes that meeting the dog first is absolutely necessary before adopting, yet many rescues do not require or even offer this opportunity. Melissa’s book contains many tips on what to look for in a breeder, rescue or shelter as well as suggestions on what to avoid.

We also discuss walking devices; leashes, collars and what works best. The importance of mental stimulation in a dog’s life and how to accomplish it. How to find a good trainer and behavior consultant and what to look for in that individual.

The concept of shared space is discussed; the need to respect and follow leash laws and to make sure that we do not allow our dogs to infringe on the space of other dogs who might not enjoy an interaction with another dog.

This book is a “Must Read” list of every breeder, rescue and animal shelter employee. This week we talk about factors to consider when getting a dog. You can learn more at http://considerationsforthecitydog.com/ and at Melissa’s blog http://muttstuff.blogspot.com/

Book Reviews – Do You Really Know Your Dog? – Part 1

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

In her book, Inside of A Dog, author and researcher Alexandra Horowitz writes, “We are known by our dogs— probably far better than we know them.” Horowitz is right, and sadly dogs don’t come with a user’s manual. In my 19 years of teaching dog training classes, I have tried to teach my students about more than training; if you want to be a good companion to your dog, you need to know about your dog’s language, natural history, anatomy, emotions, and everything else that makes your dog a dog.

I believe one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves and to our dogs is a better understanding of who they are. In my columns for November and December, I’ll review the books that everyone who lives with a dog should read. It’s a perfect time to pick one up for yourself or for another dog lover in your family or circle of friends.

On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas  – This book and its author, Turid Rugaas, have influenced my understanding of dogs more than any other book or seminar. While this book is few in pages, it is rich in information depicted in great photos. This gentle, kind, woman is incredibly knowledgeable about canine behavior and ethology. She has taught many how to live in harmony with our dogs by helping us to better understand what they are trying to tell us, and in turn she has taught us a better way to express ourselves to our dogs.

Full of photographs illustrating each point, On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals focuses on how dogs use specific body language to cutoff aggression and other perceived threats. Dogs use these calming signals to tell one another, and us, when they are feeling anxious and stressed and when their intentions are benign. If you have more than one dog, or if your dog frequently plays with others, or if you are a frequent visitor to the dog park, you need to be familiar with calming signals. This book will help you learn ‘dog language’, for which you will be rewarded with a much better understanding of your pet and its behavior.

FAVORITE QUOTE: “If you want your dog to respect you, you must also respect your dog. A good relationship is based on two-way communication, and living together in a well-balanced togetherness. Leadership does not solve anything; it only creates problems, in our lives as well as in the dogs’ lives.”

The Other End of the Leash – by Patricia McConnell, PhD – Back in the early 1990’s, before I entered into the pet care business, I was fortunate to attend several dog training classes taught by Dr. Patricia McConnell. Her understanding of how dogs and humans communicate and her emphasis on rewarding good behavior made this the first class my dog Gus and I really enjoyed.

The Other End of the Leash is an information-packed, yet readable book. In it you will learn how to have an improved relationship with your dog through better communication. As a scientist who has studied both primate and canine communication systems, Dr. McConnell has a keen understanding of where the communication between humans and dogs often breaks down, creating frustration and stress for both species. For example, she explains how simple innate greeting patterns of both species can cause conflict. We know that when two people meet, the polite thing to do is to make direct eye contact and walk straight toward one another smiling. However, as Dr. McConnell notes: “The oh-so-polite primate approach is appallingly rude in canine society. You might as well urinate on a dog’s head.” Direct eye contact and a direct approach is very confrontational to a dog.

Dr. McConnell also emphasizes how dogs primarily communicate visually, while humans are a very verbal species. The picture she paints of the frustrated chimp, jumping up and down, waving their hands, and screeching repeatedly is only a slight exaggeration of the frustrated human, saying “sit, sit, sit, ahhhh please sit” while displaying countless bits of body language. Primates, including humans, “…have a tendency to repeat notes when we’re excited, to use loud noises to impress others, and to thrash around whatever is in our paw if we’re frustrated. This behavior has no small effect on our interactions with dogs, who in spite of some barks and growls, mostly communicate visually, get quiet rather than noisy to impress others, and are too busy standing on their paws to do much else with them.” With these fundamental differences, it’s amazing we can communicate with our dogs at all.

FAVORITE QUOTE: “If humans are understandably a bit slow at responding to the visual signals that our dogs are sending, we are downright dense about the signals that we generate ourselves.”

DOGS: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger – This book refutes a great number of the popular myths about the domestic dog with sound science. Dr. Coppinger is a professor at Hampshire College where he teaches evolutionary biology. He and his wife Lorna have over 40 years of experience living and working with all varieties of dogs.

The main premise of this book is that humans did not create the dog by taming and domesticating the wolf, but instead the dog self-evolved from the wolf. Tamer and less energetic wolves started hanging around human settlements for the discarded food and over time these wolves evolved into today’s village dog. Only in the last few hundred years have humans become involved in consciously, and not always responsibly, engineering the village dog into the many breeds we see today. The Coppinger’s have studied village dogs (feral dogs living in human communities) as they exist in the world today in places like Mexico City, and Pemba.

FAVORITE QUOTE: “Dogs as a species are most likely less than fifteen thousand years old, which is a barest instant of evolutionary time. Wolves as a species are maybe five million years old, and they need protection from extinction. … [There are] four hundred million dogs in the world – that is a thousand times more dogs than there are wolves. If wolves are the ancient ancestors of dogs that means dogs have achieved a biological coup, successfully outpopulating their ancestors by a lot.”

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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.

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