By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA
< A version of this article was published in the February 2018 issue of Downeast Dog News>
Last month I introduced you to Brambell’s Five Freedoms and how they provide a valuable reference point for assessing a dog’s quality of life. I discussed the first of the freedoms; Freedom from Hunger and Thirst. This month we will examine Freedom from Discomfort.
- an inconvenience, distress, or mild pain
- something that disturbs or deprives of ease
- to make uncomfortable or uneasy
– Collins English Dictionary
Many things in our dog’s life may cause pain or anxiety. This may vary in individual dogs depending on their genetics, temperament, anatomy, size, age, and other variables.
- Are you familiar with how your dog expresses discomfort so that you recognize when your dog is anxious and afraid? – Dogs often indicate stress by various changes in their body language, often called calming or displacement signals. Signs such as looking away, yawning, and tongue flicks will typically occur before signals such as growling or snapping. If you wish to keep your dog comfortable, you first need to know how they indicate their discomfort. Just because a dog is not reacting does not mean they are comfortable. Most people have not been taught how dogs communicate, yet it is one of the most important things they need to know. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear )
- Is your dog’s environment free from things that may cause anxiety, stress, and pain? This will vary with the individual dog. Common causes of anxiety can include children, adults, other animals, objects, loud noises, having their picture taken, having their nails trimmed, being hugged, wearing a costume, and many more. One of the easiest ways to avoid these issues is to spend time thoughtfully socializing and habituating your puppy to novel stimuli during their critical socialization period which occurs between 8 and 16 weeks of age. (FMI – http://bit.ly/SocializationPuppy ) If your dog was older than 16 weeks of age when they joined your family it is very likely that they were not adequately or appropriately socialized. Remedial socialization is possible with an older dog, but it is even more essential that you plan such sessions carefully and that you proceed slowly. In this case, consulting with a professional fear-free, force-free, pain-free trainer is highly recommended. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer )
- Have you trained your dog? When a dog joins a family, many expect them to automatically fit in, even though dogs and humans are two very different species with different cultural norms. We must teach our dogs how to live in our world, and that can best be accomplished through reward-based training. Failing to train our dog is almost sure to cause discomfort for both them and us. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining )
- Are you committed to NEVER using aversives to manage or train your dog? If you are using an aversive (shock collar, choke collar, prong collar, leash corrections, or anything where the intent is to physically or emotionally punish) to train or manage your dog, you are making your dog uncomfortable. The very definition of an aversive is to cause discomfort, possibly up to the point of causing physical or emotional pain. Dogs that are trained in this manner are unlikely to be happy and have a much greater probability of becoming aggressive. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive )
- Does your dog have shelter from the elements, especially extremes of temperature, wind, and precipitation? This one seems straightforward, yet every year dogs are left out in dangerous weather and freeze to death.
- Does your dog have a quiet, comfortable place where they can rest undisturbed and where they will feel safe? Dogs, like people, need downtime and a place where they will feel secure and safe so that they can get adequate rest. People and especially kids need to respect the adage “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
- If you have multiple pets, does each pet have adequate resources? Many people have multiple pets. Do the pets get along and enjoy each other, or is there frequent conflict? Are there sufficient resources (food, space, and attention) for all of the pets? If your dog feels they do not have what they need to survive, or if they feel threatened or intimidated by another pet in your home, they are not free of discomfort.
- Do you maintain your dog’s physical condition, so they do not experience discomfort? – Fifty percent of the dogs in the US are clinically obese. Just as with people, obesity often causes pain and discomfort. Many dogs with long coats require weekly grooming by us to prevent their coats from becoming tangled and matted and uncomfortable.
Next month we will examine the Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs-Farm Animal Welfare Committee-Five Freedoms: http://www.defra.gov.uk/fawc/about/five-freedoms
Press Statement”. Farm Animal Welfare Council. 1979-12-05: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121010012428/http://www.fawc.org.uk/pdf/fivefreedoms1979.pdf
Assessing Pets’ Welfare Using Brambell’s Five Freedoms, D. Hanson, APDT Chronicle of the Dog, Fall 2014 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/images/stories/pdf/Articles/assessing%20pets%20welfare%20using%20brambells%20five%20freedoms-apdt_cotd_fall2014.pdf
Articles on Don’s Blog ( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com )
Helping Your Dog Thrive – Brambell’s Five Freedoms – Part 1, Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2018/01/03/helping-your-dog-thrive-brambells-five-freedoms-part-1/
Animal Welfare – Assessing Pets’ Welfare Using Brambell’s Five Freedoms – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/01/animal-welfare-assessing-pets-welfare-using-brambells-five-freedoms/
How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful? – http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear
Puppy Socialization and Habituation – http://bit.ly/SocializationPuppy
How to choose a dog trainer – http://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer
What is Dog Training? – http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining
Dog Training – Reward Based Training versus Aversives – http://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive
Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member?, If Yes, Then Please Join Me and Take the Pledge – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/10/01/is-your-dog-your-best-friend-or-a-family-member/
The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars – http://bit.ly/ShockCollars
Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stress – http://bit.ly/Canine-Stress
Signs of Anxiety and Fear from Dr. Marty Becker – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2018/01/17/signs-of-anxiety-and-fear-from-dr-marty-becker/
Preventing separation anxiety – Teaching your dog to cope with being alone – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/14/dog-training-preventing-separation-anxiety-teaching-your-dog-to-cope-with-being-alone/
Crate Habituation to Reduce Anxiety – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/30/dog-behavior-crate-habituation-to-reduce-anxiety/
Your Pet’s Behavioral Health Is As Important As Their Physical Well-Being – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/08/01/pet-health-and-wellness-your-pets-behavioral-health-is-as-important-as-their-physical-well-being/
Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show ( http://www.woofmeowshow.com )
Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinic – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/07/02/podcast-encore-pet-behavior-vets-the-aaha-canine-and-feline-behavior-management-guidelines-dr-dave-cloutier-veazie-veterinary-clinic/
Canine Behavior: Myths and Facts – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/27/podcast-canine-behavior-myths-and-facts/
Separation Anxiety with Dr. David Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/05/01/podcast-separation-anxiety-with-dr-david-cloutier-from-veazie-veterinary-clinic/
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. He is committed to pet care and pet training that is free of pain, force, and fear. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.
©02FEB18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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