Shared Article – Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too!

A version of this article was published in the May 2017 Issue of  BARKS from the Guild

By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA

< This is short link to this article on my blog
< http://bit.ly/ThanksPPG-Gus >

I was not allowed to get my first puppy until I was a junior in high school in January of 1975. I am not sure why my parents succumbed to my pleas after twelve years, but they did. When I purchased my cute little puff of black fur, a Keeshond/Poodle and we never caught the father mix, neither the pet store nor the veterinarian suggested training her. Other than some basic housetraining, Trivia had no real training during her life. She was a happy dog who liked everyone and was with us for 14 wonderful years. However, I believe that the life Trivia and I shared could have been so much better if I knew then what I know now. I am thankful that PPG exists today because they are an excellent resource for anyone who has just adopted their first dog.

My first venture into training a dog was when my wife Paula and I got our first puppy as a couple. It was the spring of 1991, we had just purchased our second home, and we decided we needed something to shed on the carpets; just kidding! We did some research,

Don & Gus in 1991, Before the Alpha Roll

and on the advice of Paula’s boss, a veterinarian, we went looking for a Cairn Terrier puppy.  We found one and named him Laird Gustav MacMoose or “Gus,” because he just acted like a “Gus.” On the advice of Paula’s boss, we immediately enrolled ourselves and twelve-week-old Gus in a puppy kindergarten class offered by the local dog club. We also purchased, and read both, Mother Knows Best and How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend because those were the two dog training books that were recommended at the time.

Our first night in puppy class was a complete disaster. Things went downhill the moment I was told to command Gus to sit, and Gus failed to comply. Now, this was not a big deal to us nor a surprise, as Paula and I were well aware that Gus had not received any training. However, it was a huge deal to the two instructors. They told me, in no uncertain terms, that Gus is exerting his dominance and that I had to alpha-roll him to show him that I was the alpha. The alpha role was exactly what the books we were reading recommended. So not knowing any better I did as I was told. As I grabbed Gus by the scruff and pinned him, he immediately began thrashing around underneath me, growling and snapping, and trying to connect his teeth with any part of me, so that I would let him go. I know now that he was terrified.

When I was told to grab his muzzle and told to “hold it shut,” I again, naively, complied. That is when Gus’ taught me that the dog’s teeth will ALWAYS be faster than the human’s hand. Gus instinctively sunk his canines deep into my palm. I said something inappropriate and immediately let go and begin to bleed profusely all over the training room floor. As one instructor ran to get me some ice for my hand, the other gave me a dirty look and continued teaching the class. I handed the leash to Paula, disappointed in Gus and disappointed in myself.

After we had gone home, it was evident that the relationship between Gus and I was severely damaged. I was no longer being asked to “throw the ball” by the Cairn with a tennis ball in his mouth and a vibrating tail. Gus did not trust me, and I did not trust him. I let Paula handle him in the remainder of his puppy classes, and when she went on to the next level of classes, with a different training club, I elected not to participate. I am thankful that PPG exists and today can guide a young couple with a dog so that they can find a qualified trainer that will teach them how to create and maintain a relationship based on trust and positive reinforcement. I am grateful that PPG can also recommend which books to read, and equally important, which to avoid.

Over time Gus and I learned to trust one another again, and training and behavior became a something we both enjoyed. Paula and I adopted a second dog, and we were fortunate to discover Dr. Patricia McConnell and her Dog’s Best Friend Training facility, where we learned about the wonders of reward-based training. I worked with Gus, and Paula handled Shed, and the four of us learned a great deal but more importantly, we also had lots of fun.

Gus eventually became the catalyst for our getting into the pet care services industry. His behavioral issues, he became reactive when people tried to leave our home, led to my interest in aggression and reactivity. His bladder and urinary problems, determined to be due to diet, resulted in our preoccupation with pet nutrition. When Gus developed epilepsy, he sparked our interest in complementary medicine. Thank you, Gus, you were quite the teacher as well as being a fabulous, furry, friend.

In the fall of 1995, we moved from Wisconsin to Maine, after purchasing the Green Acres Kennel Shop. Paula and I jumped right into our new business. Having learned the value of professional organizations in my previous career, I found and joined both the American Boarding Kennel Association (ABKA) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). Through the APDT email list, I met several people, many that are now wonderful friends, and started to read books that they recommended. I also began attending seminars, and I worked with our existing trainer to learn my craft.

In 1998 I attended my first APDT conference in Valley Forge, PA and stepped right into my first debate over shock collars. A shock collar company was exhibiting at the APDT trade show, and there was a significant discussion as to whether or not they should be allowed to do so. I was firmly in the anti-shock camp. After that conference, APDT adopted a policy that prohibited the promotion of shock collars at their conferences.

Three years later I was encouraged to run for the APDT Board of Trustees and started my first three-year term on the Board in 2002. Hoping to expand upon the ban on promoting shock collars at the conference, in July of 2002 I proposed that the APDT adopt a resolution defining dog-friendly dog training. At the core of my proposal was the statement “Dog-friendly training” does not include the use of tools or methods that cause pain, physical injury, suffering or distress.” Sadly, my motion died for lack of a second. I was very disappointed that no one was even willing to discuss my proposal.

I served on the APDT Board for two consecutive terms waiting for an opportunity to get APDT to take a more assertive position on dog-friendly practices, but it never happened during those six years. I was again encouraged to run for the Board in 2010, was elected to another three-year term. Sadly, it was evident the APDT was still not ready to take a stand. I do believe that APDT has done many good things for our profession, but it disappoints me that they have never been willing to take a strong position against the use of force, fear, and pain.

In 2014 I took my first serious look at PPG, applied for membership and let my membership in the APDT expire. Earlier I stated that I believe professional organizations are important. To me, membership in such an organization demonstrates an individual’s and a business’s commitment to the best practices of their profession. For that reason, as soon as a staff member at Green Acres’ completes their probationary training period, I enroll them as a member of the PPG no matter what role they play here. Every trainer, pet care technician, groomer, customer service associate, and manager is a PPG member and is expected to live up to the PPG guiding principles. It is a condition of employment.

I am so very thankful that I finally found a cohort of like-minded pet care professionals who are committed to the same things that I am and are willing to say so publicly. Thank you PPG and thank you Niki Tudge.

I became the manager of an email list for boarding kennel and daycare operators in 1996. Ten years later some members of the list began discussing how they used squirt bottles, spray nozzles on hoses, and anti-bark shock collars on their guests to control barking. I was appalled and made being pet-friendly a requirement of being a member of the list. Around the same timeframe, a client informed me that a kennel in our area used a shock collar on their dog while they were a guest. My clients were very upset that this had happened. As a result, Green Acres’s published our first position statement entitled “Green Acres Is A “Pet-Friendly” Facility.” Some of our competitors were not happy because they felt it made them look bad, but I believed then what I believe now. We were doing what was in the best interest of our clients and their pets. Our continued success confirms our clients agree. However, I have taken my share of flack from others in our profession and again, want to thank PPG for making the world a less lonely place.

Resources

Green Acres’ First Statement on Being A Pet Friendly-Facilityhttps://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/green-acres-first-statement-on-being-a-pet-friendly-facility/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://bit.ly/GAKS-Pos-NoPain-NoForceNoFear

Pet Professional Guild Guiding Principleshttp://www.bit.ly/2mUCTqN

Pet Professional Guild – Pet Training, Management and Care: We Now Know Enough to Stop Shocking Our Pets – An Open Letter to Pet Industry Representatives Regarding the Use of Shock in Animal Training – http://bit.ly/2mUEj4Q

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationshiphttp://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

Dominance: Reality or Myth –  http://bit.ly/Dominance-RealityorMyth

______________________________________________________________________________

Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He also produces and co-hosts The Woof Meow Show heard on AM620 -WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. He is committed to pet care that is free of pain, force, and fear.

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gus

< A version of this article was published in the Winter 2017 issue of Maine DOG Magazine>

In this series of articles on pet nutrition, I will start by discussing myself, my pets, and why I am so passionate about this topic. I will follow that with an article discussing the fundamental nutritional needs of both dogs and cats along with my opinion on the pros and cons of various type of diets; kibble/dry, canned/wet, homemade, frozen raw, freeze-dried raw, dehydrated, and others. Next, I will review the many myths circulating about pet food and the facts that refute those myths.  Lastly, I will discuss what to look for in a pet food and a pet food company and what to avoid.

The first four things I tell my clients and students about pet nutrition are; 1) Quality, wholesome nutrition from fresh, whole foods is fundamental to good health, 2) all pet food companies and pet foods are NOT the same, 3) there is no single brand or formula of pet food that is the “best” for all pets, and 4) Be wary when seeking advice on pet nutrition, as the pet food world can be a deceptive place. Considering the latter, you are probably asking yourself; “Why should I trust what this guy has to say about pet nutrition?”  So I will start with some background on why I am so passionate about this topic, and hopefully, you will find that I am worthy of your trust.

I became interested in pet nutrition long before I knew I would become a pet care professional. My interest was not driven by choice but by necessity. My wife and I adopted our Cairn Terrier Gus, in 1991. Before Gus had been with us for a year, he started to have chronic urinary tract infections (UTI). Our veterinarian tried all of the conventional treatments, and without fail, the infections kept coming back.

Crystals are often present in the urine when a dog has a UTI. Gus had two types of crystals in his urine; calcium oxalate crystals which occur when the urine is

Gus

acidic and triple phosphate or struvite crystals which occur in urine when it is alkaline or base. If you remember your high school chemistry, you will recall that acid and base are opposites. Measured on a numerical pH (Hydrogen potential) scale, seven is neutral, less than seven is acidic, and more than seven is base.

The pH of Gus’ urine could swing between 5 and 8 in a 24 hour period, going from base to acid and back. This variation in pH was just one more conundrum in determining what was going on with him, but our veterinarian was convinced it was a nutritional issue. As a result, he had us purchase several bags of different brands and formulas of pet food and to feed Gus x number of kibbles of one brand and y number of kibbles of another brand while monitoring his urinary pH and keeping records of our results. We did this for several weeks, and there was still no significant change. The infection cleared up, but the crystals remained, they continued to be an irritant and Gus continued to have accidents and infections. We kept trying different foods and measuring pH to no avail, and Gus eventually had to have a bladder stone removed.

In the summer of 1994, we vacationed in Maine, and while we were here, my wife purchased a copy of Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Dr. Richard Pitcairn. After reading the book, Paula started preparing Gus’ food from scratch, based on recipes in Dr. Pitcairn’s book. We tried different recipes, measured Gus’ urinary pH, and there were still no significant, lasting improvements.

We moved to Maine in the fall of 1995 when we purchased Green Acres Kennel Shop, and Gus’ UTI’s remained a part of our lives. In the spring of 1997, a pet food distributor walked into the store trying to convince us to sell his brand of pet food. We were not looking for another food at the time, but as we chatted, we started sharing dog stories. We told him about Gus and his UTI’s, and then we realized we had something in common; he also had a dog that had had crystals in his urine. He told us his dogs UTI’s resolved when he started feeding his brand of food, supplemented by a probiotic and a pH supplement also manufactured by the company he represented. He offered us a six week supply of the food and supplements at no charge saying “Try it and let me know what you think.” At this point, we had been dealing with Gus’ UTI’s for over five years and thought what have we got to lose. Before we had used the six-week supply, we saw marked improvement in Gus’ urinary health and decided we needed to learn more about this pet food and supplement company.

We started feeding this brand of food to our pets and selling it in our store. This company has a strong belief in education, so we started reading the books written by the company’s owner, a veterinarian. His approach to nutrition was very different from other pet food companies. When asked “Why shouldn’t we feed our pets only dry pet food, even if it’s a quality brand?” he responded “For the same reasons people would not eat the same tired old packaged product at every meal for a lifetime. We intuitively know variety and freshness are linked to health. 100% is not known about nutrition, and it is therefore absurd to claim one can fabricate a 100% complete diet. It seems that the ideal would be for people to make their own pet foods, but many people are too busy for this. The critical thing is to know the ideal, and for pet carnivores that is their natural prey diet–fresh, whole, and raw. Since it is never possible to achieve the ideal at all times, compromises must be made. By keeping the diet as close to the ideal as possible, one makes the fewest compromises and thus has the best chance at health.” [emphasis added]

Wow! The owner of a pet food company is saying that fresh, whole food prepared by a pet’s guardian is a better choice than any commercial pet food. That is not something I ever expected to hear from the owner of a pet food company, but at a common sense level, everything he said makes perfect sense. This prompted us to start reading everything we could on pet nutrition as we wanted to feed our pets as best as we could afford while helping our clients do the same.

We have been on this pet nutrition journey for 24 plus years. We learn new things all of the time while watching the continually changing cast of characters in the pet food world. It takes effort to keep current with all of these changes, but we feel it is necessary because we need to be looking out for our pets.

 

Recommended Resources

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

 

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

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 for 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 1 – http://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/

Homemade Food for Your Pet – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/31/pet-nutrition-homemade-food-for-your-pet/

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

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

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

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

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

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/

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

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

 

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

 

What do you feed your pets?http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow2016-06-04-What_do_you_feed_your_pets.mp3

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

Podcast – Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Our Personal Journeyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/08/podcast-holistic-and-complementary-wellness-for-pets-our-personal-journey/

Podcast – Raw Diets and the Carnivore Meat Company-Vital Essentials-Dee Ferranti and Jodi Langellottihttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/17/podcast-raw-diets-and-the-carnivore-meat-company-vital-essentials-dee-ferranti-and-jodi-langellotti/

Podcast – Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Nutrition and Raw Food for Pets with Bette Schubert from Bravo Pet Foodshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/02/podcast-holistic-and-complementary-wellness-for-pets-nutrition-and-raw-food-for-pets-with-bette-schubert-from-bravo-pet-foods/

Podcast – The Rationale for Feeding Pets Raw Foods with Bette Schubert from Bravo Pet Foodshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/03/podcast-the-rationale-for-feeding-pets-raw-foods-with-bette-schubert-from-bravo-pet-foods/

Podcast – Bravo’s Raw Pets Food, Treats, Chewables and Bones with Bette Shuberthttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/10/podcast-bravos-raw-pets-food-treats-chewables-and-bones-with-bette-shubert/

Podcast – Feeding Your Pet A Raw Diet with Gary Bursell of Steve’s Real Food for Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/16/podcast-feeding-your-pet-a-raw-diet-with-gary-bursell-of-steves-real-food-for-pets/

Podcast – Feeding Your Pet A Raw Diet with Nicole Lindsley of Steve’s Real Food for Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/23/podcast-feeding-your-pet-a-raw-diet-with-nicole-lindsley-of-steves-real-food-for-pets/

 

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

 

________________________________________________________________________
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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