Complementary Medicine – Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – My Journey

< A version of this article was published in the October 2016 issue of Down East Dog News>

Don and Muppy in class*
Don and Muppy in class*

I am often asked by clients how and why I became interested in holistic pet care. It was not a sudden revelation for me but has been a journey of many steps.

Holistic is a term that is thrown around a great deal, and often people attribute its meaning to be natural, healthy, or “good for you.” Merriam-Webster defines “holistic as – “relating to or concerned with complete systems rather than with individual parts. relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts <holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body> <holistic ecology views humans and the environment as a single system>.” Holistic simply means that we consider the whole individual organism and the environment where it lives. Complicated, but also pretty basic.

Gus, our first Cairn Terrier, was the catalyst for our first steps on this holistic

Don and Gus in WI
Don and Gus in WI

journey. Before he was a year old, he was suffering from chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs) which his veterinarian felt was related to an unidentified nutritional imbalance. That led to our striving to continually learn about pet nutrition to find a food that would cure Gus’ condition. It was a long journey that involved many different foods, fed singly and in combination, and even homemade diets formulated from recipes in Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Gus’ UTIs finally stopped when we switched to a dog food made by Wysong which we fed in conjunction with specific supplements for his condition. We learned more about pet food and a holistic approach to wellness from Dr. Wysong, which eventually led us to start to explore raw diets for pets.

tikken-was-fed-raw-most-of-her-life-800x800Paula and I attended our first seminar on raw diets for pets in 1998, started feeding raw to our dogs for at least one meal per day in 2000, and were selling raw diets at Green Acres by 2001. We continue to learn more about nutrition every year and have been feeding 100% raw for several years. We credit a raw diet to our Golden, Tikken, living for 16 years.

Appropriate nutrition is part of a holistic lifestyle, but it is not everything. Gus started having seizures, and when conventional medicine had done all it could to control the seizures, Paula started looking at other alternative treatments. She had read about homeopathy in  Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, attended a seminar, and soon Gus’ was being treated homeopathically for epilepsy. About a year later Paula enrolled us both in a four-day seminar on veterinary homeopathy being taught by Dr. Charles Loops. It would be fair to say that I went along kicking and screaming.

Before moving to Maine to purchase Green Acres, I had a seventeen-year career in the medical device industry in a variety of managerial positions. I was trained in and believed in traditional, modern medicine. It had been my livelihood. Since homeopathy challenged some very fundamental scientific principles, I felt it was “quackery” on a grand scale. Less than three hours into the seminar I was convinced that there was something to homeopathy, and it was far from quackery. However, what convinced me most was how homeopathy cured my Golden Retriever when traditional medicine could not1.

As our journey continued, we would learn about the benefits of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, herbs, chiropractic care, and essential oils. In 2002 I started formal training with the Bach Foundation, learning how to use the Bach Flower Remedies to treat emotional and behavioral issues with pets. In 2003 I completed my studies in England, becoming the first Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner in the America’s. Holistic practices continue to be my approach to wellness for myself, my pets, and even dog training.2  To learn more about my experiences, check out my podcast Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Our Personal Journey at http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/08/podcast-holistic-and-complementary-wellness-for-pets-our-personal-journey

If you would like to learn more about holistic wellness options for your pet, I invite you to join me at the Holistic Wellness Day for Pets on Saturday, October 29th at The Green Gem Healing Oasis in Bangor. FMI – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/event/3/the-green-gem-healing-oasis.html

 

1 Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression & Homeopathy, http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/06/complementary-medicine-tikken-vaccines-aggression-homeopathy/

2 A Holistic Approach to Dog Training – Part 1, Downeast Dog News-January 2015, A Holistic Approach to Dog Training – Part 2, Downeast Dog News-February 2015 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

Recommended Resources

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

Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression & Homeopathyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/06/complementary-medicine-tikken-vaccines-aggression-homeopathy/

Bach Flower Remedies – An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedieshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/22/bach-flower-remedies-an-overview-of-the-bach-flower-remedies/

Dogs-Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2)http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

 

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

 

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 – Pet Health and Wellness – Don and Kate’s Journey with Complementary Medicine http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/08/29/podcast-pet-health-and-wellness-don-and-kates-journey-with-complementary-medicine/

 

______________________________________________________________________________
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.

©8OCT16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Behavior – Dog Bite Fatalities & Dog Bites – Parts 1, 2, and 3

<Updated 11JUN17>

< Part 1 of this article was published in the July 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News, and Part 2 was published in the August 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News, and Part 3 was published in the September 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News>

Dog Bite Fatalities & Dog Bites – Part 1

On Saturday, June 4th, deputies from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of a dog attack at a home in Corinna, ME. A seven-year-old boy died as a result of the attack.

Don and Muppy-Fall 2015-1As of a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, the media often contacts me to comment on incidents where a serious dog bite occurs, and this one was no different. The following week I was interviewed on two radio stations and by reporters from the three major TV networks in Maine. Typical questions in this type of interview are; why do dogs bite or kill, is it because of the dogs breed, and how could this have been prevented?  Unfortunately, because of the way the news works, I felt my comments were far too brief for a topic of this complexity. Without adequate information, I do not see the dog bite situation changing, so I arranged to interview a national expert on dog bites on The Woof Meow Show and to also to discuss this issue here in a series of articles.

How “serious” of a problem are dog bite fatalities?

Janis Bradley is a professional dog trainer, author and the Director of Communications & Publications for the National Canine Research Council. Her first book, Dogs Bite, But Balloons and Slippers are More Dangerous was written as a result of an especially horrific dog attack and fatality that occurred in San Francisco in 2001. At the time, Bradley was working at the San Francisco ASPCA, teaching professional dog trainers and working with what would be considered ‘high-risk” dogs, yet she nor none of her colleagues had experienced a serious dog bite. Yet, both the local and the national media were giving extensive airtime to this incident using phrases like “dog bite epidemic.” As a result, Bradley started researching the academic literature on dog bites because she wanted to understand the seriousness of this issue. What she learned was that there was not much reliable research on dog bites. Thankfully, due to Bradley’s efforts, we have a better understanding of dog bites and fatalities today.

Dog bites resulting in fatalities to humans in the US are thankfully very rare. Over the last decade, there were about 30 human deaths per year due to dog bites.   That is about one person per 11 million people. While this is an extremely tragic event for all those in some way connected to the victim and the dog, statistics indicate that you are far more likely to be killed by other causes. For example:

  • You are1000 times more likely to be killed in a car accident or an accidental fall.
  • You are 500 times more likely to be murdered by another human.
  • You are 1.5 times more likely to be killed by a lightning strike.

The Center for Disease Control has stopped tracking dog bite related fatalities because they are so rare and cannot make any useful conclusions from the data.

While death by a dog bite is tragic, such deaths are exceeding rare, and it is their rareness and often the horrific nature of the incident that attract a disproportionate amount of media attention. Add to that the response by people on social media, and it is understandable how misinformation is created and circulates.

I want to thank the Penobscot County Sheriff’s office for their responsible release of information for this particular incident.

Next month I will address non-fatal dog bites and what we think we know and what we really know.

Dog Bite Fatalities & Dog Bites – Part 2

Last month I started a series on Dog Bite Fatalities and Dog Bites due to the death of a seven-year-old boy on Saturday, June 4th. My July column dealt specifically with fatalities from dog bites and the fact that while they are tragic, they are also quite rare. You are 1000 times more likely to be killed in a car accident or an accidental fall than to die as the result of a dog bite.

There are some common factors in dog bite fatalities. A study published in The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) in December of 2013 identified several controllable factors that played a part in dog bite fatalities. Four or more of these factors were present in at least 80.5% of the dog bite fatalities examined.

No able-bodied person was present to intervene to attempt to stop the attack. In 87.1% of the cases reviewed, it is quite possible that an attack could have been prevented or interrupted if another person were present. This is why all interactions between a child and a dog should ALWAYS be closely monitored and supervised by a responsible adult. The same applies to an adult who may not have the physical or mental capacity to interact with the dog.

The victim had no relationship with the dog. In 85.2% of the incidents, the victim did not have an established relationship with the dog for at least ninety days. They were not necessarily a total stranger, but they were not part of the immediate household or one who interacted in a positive manner with the dog on a regular basis.

The dog had not been spayed or neutered in 84.4% of the incidents. The decision to spay or neuter a dog has many variables, and it is not as clear cut as it was a few years ago. In some cases, people delay a spay/neuter due to medical reasons or the cost. However, the benefits of spaying and neutering from an animal welfare and a behavioral perspective are also well established. An individual who does not choose to spay/neuter should consider that their decision may increase their dog’s probability of biting.

The victim was physically unable to manage their interaction with the dog or defend themselves due to their age or physical condition (77.4%). – For purposes of the study, “Victims were deemed unable to interact appropriately with the dog if they were < 5 years of age or they had limited mental or physical capacity that increased their vulnerability (e.g., dementia, alcohol intoxication, impairment from drugs, or uncontrolled seizure disorders). As noted above, dogs must be supervised when they are left around those who may not be able to control the dog.

The dog was not a family pet, but lived on the property, often kept outside and often kept in isolation from people, resulting in little or no regular opportunities for positive interactions with people (76.2%). It does not surprise me that dogs that are considered to be part of the family, and thus have a closer bond with people are less likely to bite as opposed to a dog that is mostly consigned to an outdoor kennel or being tied-out on a rope or chain. The study described the latter as “residential dogs.” Those that keep a residential dog as opposed to a family dog, should make sure that said the residential dog is contained to limit any possibility of interactions that could result in a bite.

There was a documented history of inadequate management of the dog (37.5%). In this case, there was evidence that the owner of the dog had allowed the dog to be a danger to others in the past as indicated by previous bite incidents or allowing the dog to run at large.

The owner abused or neglected the dog (21.6%). Neglect by an owner included the dog not being given access to shelter, food, or water or having an untreated medical condition. Abuse constituted cases where the dog was used for fighting or where there was clear evidence of deliberate physical punishment or deprivation.

So what about the breed of dog? This same study reported that the breed of the dog which had killed could NOT be reliably identified in more than 80% of the cases. Sadly, when a dog bite fatality is reported, often the first question from the public and media is “What breed was the dog?” Far too often the dogs breed then becomes the focus of local authorities who then propose new laws centered on breed (Breed Specific Legislation [BSL]) when the dogs breed is not relevant. This paper discusses other studies that have demonstrated that breed-specific legislation has not been effective at reducing dog bites or dog bite fatalities. That is why “…major professional bodies (e.g., veterinary associations in the United States and Europe, the American Bar Association, the National Animal Control Association, and major humane organizations have not recommended single-factor solutions such as BSL.”

Clearly, reducing dog bites is the responsibility of all of us. Next month I will address some of the things that I believe we could all do that would help do just that.

1 Gary J. Patronek, Jeffrey J. Sacks, Karen M. Delise, Donald V. Cleary, and Amy R. Marder. Co-occurrence of potentially preventable factors in 256 dog bite–related fatalities in the United States (2000–2009). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, December 15, 2013, Vol. 243, No. 12 , Pages 1726-1736.  (doi: 10.2460/javma.243.12.1726)

Part 3

Even though statistically, dog bites are not a serious societal problem, a dog bite, no matter how superficial, is a traumatic event for the person bitten, the dog and the dog’s owner. We need to do everything we can to prevent dog bites and it is going to take all of us if we want to be successful. We also need to understand how dog bites are classified by canine professionals, the legal system, and insurance companies. You can learn more about canine bite levels by downloading this poster from Dr. Sophia Yin <Click Here>

Here are my thoughts on what we can do to decrease the incidents of dog bites. First of all, we need to accept some basic facts.

  • All dogs, irrespective of breed or how good they have always behaved in the past have the potential to bite.
  • Misinformed beliefs about canine behavior and the continued use of aversive training tools and philosophies (choke, prong, and shock collars and the dominance construct) are a major reason for behavior problems such as aggression and dog bites which often result in a dog’s death.1
  • Most dogs give ample warning before biting, and if people would learn these signs, many dog bites could be prevented.
  • Not all dogs will like all other dogs nor will they like every person just because that is what we want.
  • If you have a dog that is aggressive and has bitten or has almost bitten, seek out professional help from your veterinarian and a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant immediately. The longer this behavior continues, the longer you delay, the lower the probability of changing the behavior. Biting is often an emotional response and training alone will not make your dog feel emotionally safe. There is no evidence to suggest that dogs will outgrow this behavior.
  • Not all dogs with behavioral issues can be rehabilitated.

Prospective Dog Owners – Do not get a dog on impulse nor should you get a dog without first meeting it in person. You will hopefully have your dog for many years, probably longer than you keep your automobile and perhaps the home where you live. You are making a lifetime commitment, so it is essential you choose wisely.

Do your research before you start looking for a dog, Seek advice from trained professionals such as veterinarians, dog behavior consultants, and dog trainers. These individuals typically have knowledge and experience with a wide variety of dog breeds and temperaments and can provide less biased information than someone trying to convince you to adopt/purchase a dog.

If you are unsure of your ability to evaluate a puppy/dog, consider hiring a qualified pet care professional to assist you.

When you do agree to adopt/purchase a dog, make sure you have the return policy in writing.

Breeders are often criticized, and shelters and rescues are often given a free pass; judge both critically. In the past several years we have had more clients complain about bad experiences with rescues than with breeders or pet stores.

For my information on finding the right dog or puppy <Click Here>

Puppy/Dog Owners – Attend and complete a pain-free, force-free and fear-free dog training class with your puppy/dog, taught by a dog training professional accredited by either The Pet Professional Accreditation Board, The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants or the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. In my experience, most of the dogs that I see for aggression and other serious behavioral issues have never attended a training class and were often not properly socialized during the critical period between 8 and 16 weeks of age. Taking a training class with your dog will further your understanding of their behavior and needs and will strengthen your bond. For information on what to look for in a reputable trainer – <Click Here>

If the training class you attend does not thoroughly discuss behavior, canine body language, and dogs and kids, seek that knowledge elsewhere. You can find many articles on my blog (http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/),

Those Selling/Placing Puppies – Please make sure your puppies stay with their mother and siblings until they are 7 to 8 weeks of age. Puppies that do not have this opportunity to learn are often more likely to develop behavioral issues.

When you sell or place a puppy, make sure that you inform the new owners of the importance of properly socializing that puppy between 8 and 16 weeks of age. If you keep the puppy longer than eight weeks of age, make sure that you are properly socializing the puppy daily. Emphasize the importance of pain-free, force-free and fear-free training classes specifically structured for proper puppy socialization. For more information on puppy socialization <Click Here>

Shelters/Rescues – Rescue dogs, and I have had several, can be wonderful companions; however, they often have a rough start in life and thus have a higher probability of behavioral problems. Do your best to assess a dog’s behavior and to be completely and totally truthful about what you learn or suspect. Do not omit any information, even if you believe it will make the dog less adoptable. You are not doing your organization, or the dog, any favors when you adopt out a dog with a history of biting or aggression.

Thoroughly assess, in-person, any potential adopter. Please make sure an adopter is physically and mentally equipped to care for the dog. Be especially careful with adoptions to the elderly who may have been able to care for their 12-year-old sedentary Doberman, but will find a young, hyperactive Doberman with behavioral issues beyond their capabilities, despite their best intentions.

Understand that placements do not always work out. If a dog you have placed is threatening people in its new home or bites someone, be proactive in removing the dog immediately. Do not attempt to shame the family into keeping the dog by telling them that it will be euthanized or require that they keep the dog until you find a foster home.

All Pet Professionals (Veterinarians, Dog Behavior Consultants, Dog Trainers, Boarding Kennel & Daycare Operators, Groomers, Shelters & Rescues) – Read and make sure you understand the American Animal Hospital Association 2015 AAHA Behavior Management Guidelines and adopt an official policy statement demonstrating your support of these standards. Ensure that you train all staff and volunteers on the basic premises of the guidelines as well as canine and feline behavior, canine, and feline body language, and the standard definition of bite levels. Commit to pain-free, force-free and fear-free pet care and make that philosophy a core part of your educational efforts in your community.

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

 

Thank you to colleagues Mychelle Blake, CDBC, Gail Fisher, CDBC, Tracy Haskell, CPDT-KA, and ,Melissa McCue-McGrath, CPDT-KA for their input on this column.

Recommended Resources

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

Adopting A Pet – Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Familyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/16/adopting-a-pet-finding-the-right-dog-for-you-and-your-family/

How to Choose a Dog Trainer http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Puppy Socialization and Habituationhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/27/dog-behavior-puppy-socialization-and-habituation/

Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellnesshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/28/pet-behavior-and-wellness-pet-behavior-as-an-essential-component-to-holistic-wellness/

Canine Body Language – How To Greet A Dog and What to Avoid – Dr. Sophia Yinhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/04/canine-body-language-how-to-greet-a-dog-and-what-to-avoid-dr-sophia-yin/

Dog Behavior – Introduction to Canine Communicationhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/16/dog-behavior-introduction-to-canine-communication/

Canine Behavior – What Should I Do When My Dog Growls?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/18/canine-behavior-what-should-i-do-when-my-dog-growls/

Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stresshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/01/canine-behavior-understanding-identifying-and-coping-with-canine-stress/

Behavior Consulting – Management of An Aggressive, Fearful or Reactive Doghttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/04/behavior-consulting-management-of-an-aggressive-fearful-or-reactive-dog/

 

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

 Podcast – Dog Bites and Fatalities with Janis Bradleyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/06/24/podcast-dog-bites-and-fatalities-with-janis-bradley/

 

Web Sites

Was It Just a Little Bite or More? Evaluating Bite Levels in Dogs – https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/was-it-just-a-little-bite-or-more-evaluating-bite-levels-in-dogs/

Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale (Official Authorized Version) – http://www.dogtalk.com/BiteAssessmentScalesDunbarDTMRoss.pdf

Dr. Sophia Yin Canine Bite Levels Posterhttp://info.drsophiayin.com/download-the-bite-levels-poster

Dog Bite Preventionhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/dog-bite-prevention

 

©11JUN17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

 

Pet Nutrition – What Do You Feed Your Dog?

<Updated 11SEP16>

< A version of this article was published in the June 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News>

<This topic was also discussed on The Woof Meow Show on 4JUN16 – click to listen>

Don and Muppy-Fall 2015-1Most of you know that I own Green Acres Kennel Shop and that we sell pet food. As such, it is not uncommon for someone to walk into the store and ask me, “Don, what food do you feed your dog?” Based on experience, I find that many people expect me to say “I feed my dog brand X because it is the best food for all dogs!” Sadly, when asked the same question, this is often the answer they hear from pet stores, breeders, shelters, and even veterinarians. Since that is not what they will here from me, and since my response will not be that simple, I thought I would answer it here.

If someone sells or even gives away pet food, he or she has a financial interest in which food they recommend. Green Acres’ sells pet food, and we gain financially when you purchase pet food from us. However, one of the things that I believe makes us different from many purveyors of pet food, is that once people get to know us they understand that all of us in the store care greatly about nutrition and want to help you find the food that will be the best for your dog and your budget. In fact, because we all have different dogs, with different needs, if you ask each staff member what they feed their dog you will discover you will get different answers. There is no single food that is the best choice for all dogs and all situations.

So when I am asked this question I typically respond with; “I feed Muppy, a variety of foods from a variety of manufacturers with a goal of rotating the primary protein source every time I purchase food.”

Twenty years ago I predominantly fed my dog’s kibble. Additionally, I have fed; canned food (wet food), homemade diets, frozen raw diets and freeze-dried raw diets. In 2002, we started selling Steve’s Real Food for Pets, a commercially prepared, frozen, raw food in the store. At the time, we had five dogs, so economics dictated that we fed a raw meal once a day and kibble once a day. When we were down to two dogs, we switched to feeding 100% raw. I made this choice after a great deal of research.

My fundamental reason for feeding a raw diet is that it is primarily composed of muscle meat, organ meat, and bone. Depending on the brand there is very little or no soluble carbohydrates in these foods. A diet with little or no carbohydrates is the natural diet of a carnivore like a dog or a cat. Even the best kibble is going to be high in carbohydrates which are not a necessary nutrient for dogs or cats. Our Golden Retriever Tikken lived to be 16, and I attribute that was partially due to the nutritional choices that we made for her.

When Tikken passed, we decided that we would down-size for our next dog. Our target was a dog weighing between 20 and 30 pounds. We did that for two reasons. One, both my wife and I have some back problems and carrying a 50lb dog (Tikken) up and down the stairs the last year of her life was not always easy. However, even more importantly to me, I wanted to make sure that we would always be able to afford to feed our next dog the best diet possible throughout her life. That is easier with a small dog who eats less.

Since the day Muppy joined us, just over three years ago, she has been fed a commercially prepared, frozen raw diet, which we occasionally supplement with canned food or freeze-dried food.  She is fed a variety of frozen raw foods made by Bravo, Steve’s Real Food for Pets, and Vital Essentials. We rotate the primary protein source every time we purchase food and also rotate between brands because each has advantages. Vital Essentials and Steve’s both offer their formulas in small nuggets which make portion control easier. We also keep freeze dried diets from Bravo and Vital Essentials on hand for those occasions when we fail to defrost Muppy’s frozen ration in advance of meal time. We vary protein sources at every purchase, rotating between beef, chicken, pork, turkey, and turducken. Additionally, we supplement her meals with freeze-dried green tripe, coconut oil, a probiotic and Wysong Dentatreat.

So that is how I answer the question; “Don, what food do you feed your dog?” Is that what I would suggest you feed your dog? What I recommend will depend on your dog’s nutritional needs and what you are looking for in a dog food because there is and never will be a single brand of food that will be the best food for every dog.

Recommended Resources

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

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/

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/

Nutrition – 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/

Nutrition – 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/

Nutrition – 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/

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense – http://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/

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 – 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 – 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>

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.

©10SEP16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Canine Behavior – Myths and Facts – Part 1, Where do we get our knowledge about dogs?

< A version of this article was published in the May 2016 issue of Down East Dog News>

Don and Muppy-Fall 2015-1I recently asked listeners of The Woof Meow Show to email me questions that we could answer on the show. A dog training colleague who listens to the show asked: “What is the one thing you wish every dog owner knew about dogs? My answer was that I wished people knew more about canine behavior, specifically what is factual, and what is not.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association’s 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines,Behavioral problems affect more dogs and cats than any other medical condition and are one of the most common causes of euthanasia, relinquishment, or abandonment of pets.” This document posits that mistaken or misinformed beliefs about canine behavior are a major reason for these behavioral problems, This column is the first in a multi-part series where I hope to educate readers and dispel some of these myths. However, first, I think we need to look where we get our information about dogs.

Interestingly, society has many misconceptions about dogs and what constitutes normal canine behavior. Many of those misconceptions go back to what we “learned” about dogs as children. For some of us, that goes back to Rin Tin Tin and Lassie. Both dogs were portrayed as canine perfection; however, whether it was a book, movie, or television show or all of the above, it was a marvelous, heart-wrenching piece of fiction.

In my case, in addition to fictional stories, I was also greatly influenced by two dog training books we purchased when Paula and I brought our first puppy home. The Monks of New Skete How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend was published in 1978 and Mother Knows Best by Carol Lea Benjamin was published in 1985. These books were very popular at the time. Both authors insisted that dogs are essentially wolves and thus the best way to train a dog is to treat it the way a mother wolf would treat a wolf pup. This “motherly love” often involved lots of intimidation, fear, and pain. [see Gus and the Alpha Roll below for my experience with how these techniques worked.]

For some, their knowledge of dogs is based on what a family member or friend has told them about their experience with dogs. This is may be someone with no formal training but who will tell you that they have been training dogs since “Pluto was a pup” and know all that they need to know. They often insist that this is the way they have always done it and scoff at doing anything differently for any reason, even if it is easier or offers other benefits. Sadly this approach is also often counter-productive to our relationship with our dog.

Today, many people reach their conclusions about canine behavior based on “reality” television which in reality is not very real. The Dog Whisper, broadcast by the National Geographic Channel, involves “self-credentialed” “dog psychologist” Cesar Millan solving serious behavior problems while using force, intimidation, and pain because that is all part of being the pack leader. It is the same misinformation from the two books I’ve mentioned, formulated for television. Because the National Geographic brand has a long standing reputation as being based on solid science, it gives the show an aura of credibility that it does not deserve. Since its inception, it has been challenged by experts in the field of canine behavior. For example, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist credentialed by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University said this back in 2006: ”My college thinks it [The Dog Whisperer – Cesar Millan] is a travesty. We’ve written to National Geographic Channel and told them they have put dog training back 20 years.” Yet versions of the show continue to air today.

Lastly, there is the internet. I know of very few professionals that do not have mixed feelings about the “Dr. Google” and the misinformation spread via the internet on a daily basis. Sharing information is great when the information is factual and reliable; however erroneous information can be very harmful. And as State Farm Insurance has taught us, just because it is on the internet does not mean it is true. Unfortunately, too many people think otherwise.

The fact is, much of what we think we know about dogs, is incorrect. Sadly, this misinformation has done a great deal of harm to the dog – human relationship and the dog’s wellbeing. To repair that damage, in future columns, I will examine the most significant and damaging myths about dogs, and then discuss the facts that counter those myths.

Gus and the Alpha Roll

My experience in my first puppy class with “experts.”

Gus and Don on lawn-croppedThe instructors in the first dog training class I attended advocated training that viewed the dog as a wolf. Gus, our Cairn Terrier, was about 12 weeks old our first night in class and had no prior training. I was told to ask Gus to sit and when Gus failed to comply, remember he had never been trained to sit, the instructor told me that Gus was being dominant and that I needed to alpha-roll him.

The Monks of New Skete described the alpha wolf roll-over as the ultimate punishment for the most severe disobedience. It involves grabbing the dog by the scruff of their neck, and firmly and rapidly rolling the dog on its back and pinning it while making eye contact and yelling at the dog. In their book the Monks asserted that these disciplinary techniques are what a mother wolf would use in the wild to discipline her pups.

Not being a dog trainer at the time, I did what I was told to do and alpha-rolled Gus. Gus reacted immediately, wildly thrashing around, growling and snapping his teeth. It was at this point the instructor told me to grab Gus’ muzzle and hold it closed. This did not sound safe or smart to me, but I believed that the instructor would not tell me to do anything dangerous, so I did what she said. Instantly Gus’s canine teeth pierced the flesh of my palm; I instinctively let him go, and we both pulled away from each other. Gus and I were wary of each other for several weeks. The trust we had built in the few days we had him was destroyed in one senseless act of violence.

Years later I learned that by alpha-rolling Gus’ I had probably caused him to fear for his life. How this was supposed to make him understand “sit” means to sit, is still unclear to me. We now know that those professing to treat dogs like wolves really did not understand either species. Sadly, these methods are still popular and recommended by some breeders, dog trainers, and even veterinarians. They are clearly responsible for much of the misinformation about canine behavior.

Gus and I eventually reconnected and became pals, but to this day, I regret the damage I caused because I blindly followed the advice of an alleged expert.

Recommended Resources

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

Dog Training – How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ages – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/21/dog-training-how-science-and-reward-based-training-have-pulled-dog-training-out-of-the-dark-ages/

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

Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/01/canine-behavior-understanding-identifying-and-coping-with-canine-stress/

Dog Behavior – Dominance: Reality or Myth –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2) –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 1 –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/02/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-1-knowledge-relationship-management-training/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 2 –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/28/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-2/

Dog Training – What Is Clicker Training? –http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2007/02/01/dog-training-what-is-clicker-training/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/boarding/what-is-pet-friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/training/position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/05/dogs-the-unintended-consequences-of-shock-collar/

 

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

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

2015 Dog Training Classes at Green Acres Kennel Shop

Canine Behavior: Myths and Facts

The Four Essentials to A Great Dog  

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

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

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

The Dominance and Alpha Myth

______________________________________________________________________________
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.

 

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

Pet Care Services – Please Be Cautious When Choosing Who Cares For Your Pets

< A version of this article was published in the April 2016 issue of Down East Dog News>

Don and Muppy-Fall 2015-1Does your boarding or daycare facility use shock collars for training or in an attempt to get a dog to stop barking? While Green Acres Kennel Shop has never used such a device, nor would we use such a device, they are used at other pet care facilities. The story at this link from WNCN details how a boarding facility used a shock collar on Sophie, a dog owned by Danielle Shroyer and Jason Freeman (http://wncn.com/2016/03/12/shocking-nc-couple-picks-up-dog-from-daycare-finds-shock-collar-around-her-neck/). It was just a year ago that I shared a similar story about a dog in Las Vegas. What is even scarier, some facilities will not tell you that they are using these tools and methods, as was the case in this incident in North Carolina and Las Vegas. The fact is, I see or hear stories like this on a regular basis, and yes, this does happen in Maine.

NoPainNoForceNoFearAlthough we have never used shock collars at Green Acres, we wanted to make sure that our clients and prospective clients know our policy on training tools and methodologies. That is why we adopted our Pet-Friendly position statement <click to read> back in February of 2006. Since then we have also adopted a Position Statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs <click to read> to further clarify our position and to include a list of articles supporting our position.

AAHA logoWe are far from alone in our philosophy. Last summer the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) issued their 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines which states:

This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem-solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior. “ [Emphasis added]

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG), is an organization made up of dog trainers, ProudMembers Badgeboarding and daycare operators, groomers, veterinarians and pet owners that are committed to pet care that is free from pain, force, and fear. The PPG not only has position statements on dominance and punishment, but they require their members to comply with their guiding principles which state:

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 compulsion based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.”[Emphasis added]

Green Acres Kennel Shop is proud to be a member of The Pet Professional Guild and we enroll all of our staff as members as well, because we believe in and support PPG’s Guiding Principles.

So what can you do to make sure this does not happen to your pet? First of all, before leaving your pet anywhere; for boarding, daycare or grooming, ask these questions:

“Do you use any tools or training techniques that are aversive like; prong/pinch or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, or squirt bottles?”

“Are you aware of and do you comply with the 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines?”

“Are all of the members of your staff members of The Pet Professional Guild and does your facility comply with the PPG Guiding Principles which state that no shock, no pain, no choke, no fear, no physical force, and no compulsion based methods will be employed to train or care for a pet?”

If you are not getting the answers you want, or if there is hesitation and dithering, look for another facility. A good pace to look is at the website for The Pet Professional Guild – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Zip-Code-Search

 

Recommended Resources

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

Pet Care Options When You Go Away: Pet Sitter, Neighbor, Boarding Facilityhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/09/01/pets-who-cares-for-them-when-you-are-away/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/02/yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-green-acres-kennel-shops-pet-friendly-philosophy-part-1/

Traveling – Do you take the dog along or leave him with someone?

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

 

Pet Care Options When You Go Away: Pet Sitter, Neighbor, Boarding Facilityhttp://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-09-05-Pet_Care_Options_When_You_Go_Away.mp3

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2015-04-11-Kinder_Gentler_Pet_Care_Part-1_GAKS_Pet_Friendly.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.

 

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

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 2

< A version of this article was published in the March 2016 issue of Down East Dog News>

Don and Muppy-Fall 2015-1Last month I told you that I believe that every dog has the potential to be a great dog if their person; 1) has adequate and up to date knowledge about dogs, 2) is committed to developing and nurturing a relationship with their dog, 3) understands the importance of managing the dog and its environment, and 4) is committed to training the dog. All of this needs to happen throughout the life of the dog, as just like us, the dog is a living, breathing entity that is constantly learning and changing.

I discussed the importance of obtaining key pieces of knowledge before you even start searching for a dog and explained that the relationship between you and your dog will be the foundation of all that you will do together. This month I will address the remaining two essentials to having a great dog; management and training.

Management

Management is one of the simplest ways to resolve a behavior issue and in my experience is ironically, one of the hardest things to get many clients to consider. Far too often when someone has a behavioral issue with a dog they look for an elaborate training solution when all they need to do is to change the dog’s behavior by manipulating their environment. Management is simply taking the necessary steps to ensure your dog is not placed in a situation where they may not behave appropriately. In its simplest form, it translates to: If you do not want your puppy chewing on your new shoes, then do not leave the puppy and the shoes in the same room unsupervised.

I believe that management is essential to your dog’s training because every dog has, at least, two trainers; 1) their guardian and 2) the environment in which the dog spends its time. While you may spend an hour per day training your dog, your dog has the potential to learn from their environment 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The environment in which your dog lives may consist of; other people, other animals, noises, odors, tastes, and visual and tactile stimuli that all have the potential to reward your dog. If you do not initially control your dog’s interaction with its environment, he may quickly learn behaviors that you do not want, such as tearing up magazines,  chewing on bedposts, or jumping up on people. While providing this management may seem incredibly time consuming, when done properly it will pay off as you will eventually be able to give your dog free access to your home.

Part of managing your dog also involves meeting their physical, emotional, and social needs. These needs are; 1) making sure your dog adequate access to water and appropriate food, 2) ensuring that your dog is free from physical and emotional discomfort and things that may cause them harm, 3) making sure that your dog has access to veterinary care and is free from pain, injury and disease, 4) ensuring that your dog is free from fear and distress and 5) making sure that your dog is free to express behaviors normal for their breed. The latter is especially important to consider before you get a dog, as not all normal behaviors are always appreciated by dog guardians.

Management is simple and profoundly effective. Just do it!

Training

Training involves teaching your dog and controlling the learning process. The objective of training is to have a happy dog that fits in with your lifestyle. I believe that every dog will benefit if they are trained to:

  1. Allow you to take away items that may pose a danger to them.
  2. Allow you to brush and groom them.
  3. Come when called.
  4. Walk politely on a leash.
  5. Sit or down when asked.
  6. Leave things when asked.
  7. Allow you to be near them when eating.
  8. Cope with being left alone.
  9. Quietly welcome our guests and us without jumping,
  10. Tolerate teasing children.
  11. Only urinate and defecate in specific locations on our schedule.

These are all foreign concepts to a dog and may be dangerous to them if they behaved this way in the wild. A feral dog that waited to be offered food and allowed it to be taken from him would not survive long. We must remember that dogs have instinctual needs to protect their food and themselves.

It is our responsibility to make sure our dog is trained to understand our world. When we do so, our family and friends welcome our dog and our dog is accepted in public places, and thus is allowed to be with us more frequently.

Working with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer/Professional Canine Trainer-Accredited (CPDT or PCT-A) can be one of the easiest and most effective ways to learn how you can best train a dog. Whether you work with such an individual in a group class or private one-on-one training, these highly skilled individuals can show you how to get the behaviors that you want through rewarding the dog. Equally important, they can help you learn how to extinguish the behavior you do not want; things like jumping up on people and stealing socks.

When choosing a trainer look beyond how close they are to where you live, the day of the week that classes are offered, and the cost of the training. The most important characteristic to look for in a trainer is how they train. Insist on a trainer that is committed to force-free, fear-free, and pain-free methods. That means that they will not be talking about dominance and alpha-rollovers or using tools like electronic shock collars, choke collars or prong collars. While these tools and methods were routinely used in the past; organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), The Pet Professionals Guild (PPG) and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) are unified in their recommendations that these tools and methods should NEVER be used in the training or the behavioral management of dogs. They are not only unnecessary but are counter-productive as they inhibit the dogs ability to learn and often make a dog reactive and aggressive.

Dogs can be wonderful companions and the best way to make sure that happens with every dog is to; 1) acquire the knowledge to understand your dogs behaviors and the language unique to them as a species, 2) have fun with your dog every day as one part of nurturing your ongoing relationship,  3) manage your dog and their environment so as to meet their needs while preventing undesirable behavior and 4) invest timer and energy into training your dog not only for your benefit, but their benefit as well.

Recommended Resources

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

 The Four Essentials for a Great Dog – Part 1 – Knowledge, Relationship, Management & Traininghttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/02/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-1-knowledge-relationship-management-training/

Dogs-Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2)http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

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/

Dog Behavior – Introduction to Canine Communicationhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/16/dog-behavior-introduction-to-canine-communication/

 

Podcasts on Don’s Blog

PODCAST – The Four Essentials to A Great Doghttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/21/podcast-the-four-essentials-to-a-great-dog/

PODCAST – Canine Behavior: Myths & Facts

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

PODCAST – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 2– 19JUL15http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/19/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-2/

PODCAST – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 3– 26JUL15http://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/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)
The Four Essentials to A Great Dog – HTTP://TRAFFIC.LIBSYN.COM/WOOFMEOWSHOW/WOOFMEOWSHOW2016-02-20-FOUR_ESSENTIALS_GREAT_DOG-PODCAST.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.

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

Dog Training – The Four Essentials for a Great Dog – Part 1 – Knowledge, Relationship, Management & Training

Don and Muppy-Fall 2015-1< A version of this article was published in the February 2016 issue of Down East Dog News>

Most dogs become great dogs only after we invest time and energy in helping them to become the near-perfect companions we want them to be. However, I believe that every dog has the potential to be a great dog if their person; 1) has adequate and up to date knowledge about dogs, 2) wants to develop and nurture a relationship with their dog, 3) understands the importance of managing the dog and its environment, and 4) is committed to training the dog. All of this needs to happen throughout the life of the dog, as just like us, the dog is a living, breathing entity that is constantly learning and changing. This month I will discuss knowledge and relationship.

Knowledge

When someone tells me that they are considering getting a dog, I suggest that even before looking for a dog that they need to do four things. 1) learn as much as possible about dog behavior and husbandry. 2) research the characteristics of the breeds or mixes that they are considering, paying particular attention to health and behavioral issues associated with the breed or breeds. 3) learn how dogs and people can best communicate with one another. 4) investigate what we need to do to meet our dogs, physical, mental and emotional needs. This is no small list, but one that I feel is essential if you want to have a great dog. I recommend that people do this before deciding on a dog because not all breeds or individual dogs will be the best choice for an individual and their lifestyle. The dog world has created a wide variety of breeds, many that were bred for very specific purposes. Some of what these breeds have been bred to do, may not fit within our perception of a great dog, so we want to choose wisely, because once we have the dog, it should be for a lifetime.

There are many sources where one can obtain knowledge about dogs, but not all are always reliable choices. If someone is trying to sell you, or give you a dog, it is essential to understand that their primary motivation is you leaving with a dog. They have a bias in any transaction, and even though their heart may be in the right place, they may not give you the best, unbiased information.

Books, videos, the internet, family, and friends can all be sources of information about dogs; however, the information they present may be incorrect or outdated, in which cases it may be detrimental. Information from the internet can be especially questionable (see http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/09/03/can-you-trust-what-you-read-on-the-internet/). Kennel and daycare operators and groomers typically have interactions with a wide variety of dogs as do veterinarians and can share their perceptions on certain breeds. The latter can be especially helpful in assessing health issues related to a specific breed.

A dog’s behavior is often a major determining factor in whether or not they become a great dog, I recommend that anyone getting a dog work with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer/Professional Canine Trainer-Accredited (CPDT or PCT-A) or Certified Dog Behavior Consultant or Professional Canine Behavior Consultant-Accredited (CDBC or PCBC-A), both before and after getting a dog. Individuals with these credentials have demonstrated their knowledge by successfully completing a comprehensive exam. Additionally, they are required to complete regular, continuing education in order to maintain their certification. Without question, these individuals are the most knowledgeable resource for current, up to date information about dog behavior and training. If you do choose to obtain your knowledge without the assistance of one of these excerpts, be wary of anyone telling you the following; 1) you must be dominant or alpha to train a dog, 2) dogs should work for praise not food, 3) dogs have an innate and almost “saint-like” desire to please us, and 4) dogs know right from wrong. These are four of the most harmful myths still being perpetuated about dogs.

Relationship

The relationship or bond between you and your dog is the foundation for everything you will do together. It involves doing things together that you both enjoy and incorporating your dog into as much of your life as possible.

You can train your dog all you want, but first and foremost you must have a mutually positive relationship. You need to like and enjoy your dog, and your dog needs to like and enjoy you. Many problems perceived as training problems are in fact relationship problems.

The following are some important tips to help you with both training and your relationship with your dog.

  1. Spend quality time with your dog every day. Train, play, exercise, and enjoy quiet time with your dog.
  2. Acknowledge your dog many times throughout the day. Make eye contact, smile at them, and give them a gentle touch when he is not demanding attention.
  3. Always acknowledge and appreciate good behavior. Too often we only pay attention when the dog does something we do not want them to do.
  4. Know your dog’s likes and dislikes and be a responsible guardian and remove your dog from tense situations whenever possible.
  5. Understand and accept your dog’s breed characteristics. Learn how they can be used to make training easier and learn which characteristics may make training more frustrating.
  6. Remember that your dog has its own species-specific needs and make sure that you meet them
  7. When something goes awry, such as your favorite slippers being chewed or the dog racing out of an open door, examine the situation to see what you can do differently in the future to prevent the behavior from occurring again -either management or training or both – and then do it!
  8. Accept your dog for the unique canine spirit that they are. As much as we might want a dog that excels at dog sports, loves visiting a nursing home, or wants to snuggle with every person they meet, not every dog is going to become the particular dog that we had hoped would be our companion.

Next month I will focus on the two remaining essentials to having a great dog; management and training.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (HTTP://WWW.WORDS-WOOFS-MEOWS.COM)

Dogs-Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2)http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

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/

Dog Behavior – Introduction to Canine Communicationhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/16/dog-behavior-introduction-to-canine-communication/

 

Podcasts on Don’s Blog

PODCAST – The Four Essentials to A Great Doghttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/21/podcast-the-four-essentials-to-a-great-dog/

PODCAST – Canine Behavior: Myths & Facts

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

PODCAST – 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/

PODCAST – 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/

______________________________________________________________________________
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.

 

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

Dog Training – A Rescue Dogs Perspective

< Updated 1 APR18 >

< A version of this article was published in the January 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News>

By Muppy Hanson, CUTE, ADORABLE, VIVACIOUS

Hi, everyone! My name is Muppy. Don asked me to write this month’s column because he thought I could provide some valuable insights. Plus he said if I did this for him I would get some extra tummy rubs and yummy treats!

Muppy and Ernie on the way to Maine
Muppy and Ernie on the way to Maine

So what do I know about being a rescue dog? I am one, thanks to the kindness and compassion of several people in my birth state of Mississippi. I might not be here without them. I was living with a family, I had puppies, and then one day my people moved away and left, and my puppies and I were all alone. Fortunately, a nice lady named Catherine heard about me and rescued me by taking me to Rose, another nice lady. Rose fostered my puppies and me until we could be put up for adoption. I took good care of my pups until they were eight weeks old and then they were transported to New England to new homes. Soon after that, I was also sent to a rescue group in Maine, Helping Paws-Maine, where I was placed into a foster home until I was adopted. I got to ride to Maine with my friend Ernie who was also going up for adoption.

I did not know it, but Don and Paula were looking for a dog about the same time I was arriving in Maine. They found me on PetFinder, completed an application and made an appointment to meet me at my Maine foster home with another nice lady named Victoria.

When I first met Don and Paula in my foster home, they were sitting on a couch with Ernie. That boy is quite the social butterfly, unlike me at the time. When Don sat down next to me on the floor, I moved away because I was not so sure about him. However, once he started giving me some treats, I decided he was safe!

We all visited for a while, and then Paula and Don did some paperwork and then I got to go for a car ride to Bangor. It was May 1st, and I had a new home! When we arrived in Bangor, Don spent the rest of the day with me. We started off

Napping on Don's Lap
Napping on Don’s Lap

snuggling on the floor and then I took a nap in his lap while he was in his recliner. I got to explore the yard and that evening I again fell asleep in his lap.

The next morning started with Don taking me out to do my poops and then he sat down on the floor with my breakfast and started teaching me an attention behavior. All I had to do was look at him, and I’d get a piece of kibble. Yummy! I like this game! Over the next few days, I got to meet the staff at Don and Paula’s business, some of the dogs, my new veterinarian and the people at the bank.

Don told me that eventually I would get to go to school, but because I was a bit unsure of new things, especially people, he said he was going to let me settle in first. He hung a bag of treats on the door to his office along with a sign asking people coming in to grab a treat to give to me. Until then he worked with me on the attention behavior, recall and sit. He said I was a fast learner, and I loved how he rewarded me when I got it! He always makes training fun for both of us.

One of the things I started doing in my new home was to jump up on people I liked. I just get so excited when I see a person that I like, that I cannot help myself. I see them and POP! my front paws are on them, and I am smiling, hoping they will pet me and say “Hi.” Since I was shy, Don allowed me to do this as it was so rewarding to me. Since it was something I felt good about it helped me feel good about interacting with people. One day a strange man came to visit Don in his office, and I did not even think about being shy. I just ran up and jumped and said, “Hi! I am Muppy!” He patted and talked to me and was real nice. After that Don told me it looked like I was over my shyness and we would now start to work on sitting for greeting. I do pretty well, most of the time. There are some people that I like so much; I am talking about you Deb and Miriam, that I cannot always contain myself!

I started my first group training class at Green Acres on August 30th, 2013, four months after joining the Hanson family. Both Don and Paula went to class with me; Don says it is very important for all family members to be involved with training.

Muppy Running-Square
Muppy’s Famous Recall*

In that class I learned to do the following on cue; look, sit, lie down, walk nicely on a leash, come when called, leave it, and wait or stay. I have since taken Green Acres Level 2 and Level, 3 classes, as well; some more than once! I love training classes because it is so much fun! It is an opportunity for me to interact with my favorite people whether we are actually in class, or I am working individually with Don on the days in between class. Moreover, when I see Don out in the training field teaching classes filled with other people and dogs; I let him know I want to have fun too! That is why he keeps enrolling us in classes because it is so much fun for both of us.

 

Don and Muppy in class*
Don and Muppy in class*

So I guess this is where I am supposed to tell you what I have learned. Every dog should be trained; training helps establish a bond and makes us better companions. It also makes it possible for us to go more places with you and to spend more time with you. Isn’t that why you got us in the first place, to be your steadfast companion? Work with a professional dog trainer either privately or in group classes as they can help you learn about your dog and make the process of training fun for both of you. Make sure any trainer you work with is committed to methods that are force-free, pain-free, and fear-free. The Pet Professionals Guild (http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/) can be a great resource for finding such a trainer. If you have a rescue dog like me, starting in a group class immediately might not be the best thing to do. A professional trainer can help you make that determination and can help you start working with your dog at home. Lastly, be patient with your dog and yourself and most importantly, ALWAYS make training fun!

*Photos by Debra Bell, Bell’s Furry Friends Photography

Recommended Resources

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

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer

Before You Go To The Dog Park – coming soon!

 

______________________________________________________________________________
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.

©2018, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2

Don and Muppy - July 2015
Don and Muppy – July 2015

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

My wife Paula and I have been part of the pet care services industry for over 20 years and in that time we have seen many changes. Last month I started writing about the changes we have seen in pet food and pet nutrition. I discussed how brands have changed, the need for consumers to be knowledgeable, the verbiage used by pet food companies, protein choices, and industry consolidation. Pet food is a big topic, and there have been many more changes that I address below.

Gus’ Story – Last month I started a story about how our Cairn Terrier Gus’ issues with UTI’s and crystals initiated our journey with learning about pet nutrition. It was not until after I sent my column off to the editor that I realized that I had not finished the story.

We eventually found a brand of food, Wysong, and some Wysong supplements

Playing Tennis Ball with Gus
Playing Tennis Ball with Gus

that cured Gus’ UTI and crystal issues. It was our first experience with what at the time was classified as an ultra-premium pet food. We learned a great deal from Dr. Wysong and his distributor here in Maine, the late David Hinson. Their commitment to quality nutrition should be an inspiration to all pet food companies.

Formula Proliferation – Twenty years ago the most common form of pet food was dry kibble, still the number one choice for food. Pet food companies offered kibble formulas for puppies, adult dogs, and overweight dogs. Then came senior and a few years after that we started seeing the large breed puppy formulas and in some cases, food for specific breeds of dogs. Many experts in pet nutrition, like Dr. Wysong, argue that the proliferation of formulas is more about SKUs, marketing and shelf space than nutrition. I believe their position is quite sound if we look at what and how canines eat in the wild. The nutritional rationale for all of these formulas is not necessarily based in science or good nutrition and often makes it harder for the consumer to make a good decision.

Recalls – We have seen numerous pet food recalls in the past twenty years just as we have with human food. As long as good quality food remains perishable, which I suspect will be forever, there are going to be recalls. A recall in itself as not a bad thing, but a lot depends on how the company handles the recall. The companies the handle recalls the best are the ones that offer full disclosure early in the process, and that keep their distributors and retailers informed. It is always our goal to contact our clients to let them know about a recall before they hear about it on the internet.

Misleading Advertising – Pet food advertising is made to appeal to people because let’s face it, your dog or cat is not making the decision of what food you will buy. Unfortunately, advertising can make any food look and sound wonderful. What makes it even worse is when the claims made in those ads are false; as has been the case with the ads by a pet food company that many would argue currently have some of the most appealing ads on television. Those ads claim this company never uses low-grade ingredients like poultry by-product meal and insinuates that food made by other companies do use low-quality ingredients. This company was first sued in the spring of 2014 and has now admitted in Federal court that they are indeed guilty of using the low quality ingredients they claimed not to use. What makes this even more incredulous is that the company is not accepting responsibility for their actions but instead is blaming the companies that make their food and their suppliers.  Yes, you read that correctly. There are companies out there that only market pet food and subcontract the development and manufacture of their food to other companies. In my mind, that is not a real pet food company but instead is an accident waiting to happen. That is why we prefer dealing with small, family-owned companies that buy raw ingredients from suppliers that they know, manufacture their food in their own plant, and then market it to independent stores like ours.

Dietary Rotation – For years, the standard recommendation from pet food companies and many veterinarians has been to find a food that your pet does well on and then NEVER change it, as any change could upset your pets digestive system. It is easy to understand why a pet food company would like this approach; it keeps profits going into their coffers.

One of the first things we learned from Dr. Wysong was his belief in the benefits of dietary rotation. Wysong produces a puppy and senior formula, as well as a couple of adult formulas; however, rather than feeding them strictly by age Dr. Wysong recommends you rotate among the diets. We would feed our dogs growth in the summer, when they were more active, and senior in the winter when they were less active, and standard adult formulas in the spring and fall. If one studies how wild canines eat, the concept of dietary rotation also makes perfect sense as what they eat varies widely, day to day. We are glad to see that in the past few years some of the pet food companies that we deal with now offer multiple adult diets and now also recommend dietary rotation.

Raw Diets & Homemade Diets – In 1998 Paula and I attended a seminar to hear Dr. Ian Bilinghurst talk about raw diets for dogs. The Australian veterinarian and author of Give Your Dog A Bone was one of the first veterinarians to discuss the benefits of feeding what he called BARF; Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. What Dr. Bilinghurst was saying is essentially what experts on human nutrition have been emphasizing; eat fresh whole food (meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables) and avoid highly processed food. Dry pet food, no matter who makes it, is one of the most highly processed foods on the planet.

Don and Tikken-1with text 600x903Paula and I sought more knowledge about raw pet food, and eventually started feeding our pets a raw diet in 2001. Green Acres began selling commercial, raw frozen diets at the beginning of 2002. At first, we fed one raw meal per day and a meal of kibble for the second meal of the day. When we started to see the changes in our dogs we switched to 100% raw, which is what we continue to do today. We practice dietary rotation, switching proteins every time we purchase food and readily switch between brands. I cannot prove it, but I do believe that a raw diet played a significant role in our Golden Retriever Tikken living past her 16th birthday.

What Does the Future Hold?

The only thing I can predict with any certainty is that the pet food world will continue to change and that we as consumers will need to remain diligent. More and more people are considering feeding raw diets or at least fresh whole food. I expect that trend to continue to grow. The pet food world is threatened by the same thing as the world of human-food; industrialization and consolidation. Hopefully as we become more aware of the importance of fresh, whole, locally-sourced food for ourselves that will change for pet food as well.

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Other Posts You May Find Interesting

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costs – <Click Here>

Pet Nutrition – How Much Fat Is In Your Pet’s Food? <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>

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1

Don and Muppy - July 2015
Don and Muppy – July 2015

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

My wife Paula and I have been part of the pet care services industry for over 20 years and in that time we have seen many changes. Last month I wrote about dog training. This month I will begin to address pet food and pet nutrition.

Paula and I became interested in pet nutrition long before we purchased Green Acres. Gus, our Cairn Terrier puppy, joined our family in the spring of 1991. Within a year, he was exhibiting serious health issues that his veterinarian attributed to his diet.

Gus had recurring urinary tract infections aggravated or caused by crystals that formed in his urine. One type of crystal even formed into a bladder stone that was removed surgically. Gus’ case was further complicated by the fact that he had more than one type of crystal in his urine. One was normally found in acidic urine, the other when the urine was base. The pH of his urine would swing

In Memory of Gus
In Memory of Gus

wildly throughout the day, from acid to base and back, which was very abnormal.

We were constantly in search of the “perfect” food for Gus. At one point, our veterinarian had us buying multiple brands of kibble and counting the numbers of each type of kibble we fed Gus on a daily basis, all in an attempt to stabilize his urinary pH. We eventually found, purchased and read a book; Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, that included several recipes for making homemade dog food. Shortly after that, Paula was making food for Gus every week. By the time we moved to Maine, about 14 months later, Gus still had UTI’s and crystals, and we were still searching for a brand of food that would cure him.

Changing Brands – When we became the owners of Green Acres Kennel Shop, we sold six brands of pet food. Our two biggest sellers were Hill’s Science Diet and IAMS/Eukanuba; however we also sold Nature’s Recipe, Bench and Field, and ANF. Eukanuba was considered to be one of the top brands, and the others were all better than what was available at the grocery store.

Green Acres’ no longer offers any of the brands of pet food we did twenty years ago. Pet foods and pet food companies change, like everything else, and not always for the better. We now offer seventeen brands of pets food from; Bravo, California Natural, Fromm, Eagle, Evanger’s, Evo, Holistic Select, Innova, Merrick, NutriSource, Natural Planet, Pro Pac, Pure Vita, Steve’s Real Food, Wellness, Weruva, and Wysong. Some of these brands were around twenty years ago and many were not. The brands we carry twenty years from now will depend on what happens with individual companies and brands. We are constantly evaluating the pet food marketplace and change products when we find something better.

Need for Knowledge – Based on our experiences with pet nutrition we knew that knowledge was important, so we scheduled training sessions with representatives from Hill’s and IAMS within the first few months of ownership. That is when we first learned that the training that companies provided to retailers such as ourselves was essentially the same program they offered to veterinarians. Paula had received the same training while working at the veterinary hospital. We have continued our education about pet nutrition through training providing by the food companies but also by reading books and attending seminars. One of the biggest myths about nutrition, whether human or pet, is that we know all there is to know. The fact is things are changing all the time, and it is our goal to be current so we can always provide clients with the latest information.

Premium, Super-Premium, and Ultra-Premium – Twenty years ago pet foods were pretty much divided into grocery store brands and premium brands. The big difference then and now, was that premium brands were made to a set formula whereas the ingredients in a non-premium brand changed with commodity prices. The premium brands typically used higher quality ingredients. Today we also have brands that label themselves as super-premium and ultra-premium. The problem with all of these labels is that they have no legal definition, so one has to be knowledgeable about pet food, ingredients, nutrition, and the people behind the company in order to judge whether or not the way a brand labels itself is deserved.

Protein Choices – Most pet food that was made twenty years ago used chicken as its base protein. Poorer quality foods used poultry which just means there was more in the mix than just chicken. The first novel protein source was lamb, which was introduced as an alternative food for pets that were allergic to chicken. Unfortunately, most companies promoted their lamb based formulas as the “best new thing” and pretty soon many of people were feeding lamb, and it lost its value as a novel protein source. That is why today we see things like duck, turkey, bison, venison, salmon, trout, whitefish, pork, beef, ostrich and kangaroo as protein sources for pet food.

Industry Consolidation – It is estimated that 70% of all of the pet food sold in the US comes from one of three companies; Nestle, Mars Candy or Smucker’s. Most people do not realize the huge number of pet food brands owned by these three food giants. I believe that bigger companies seldom produce better products. These conglomerates own so many brands that it is difficult for me to understand how any of those brands are differ from one another. Our preference at Green Acres is to offer foods that are made by small, family-owned companies that know their suppliers personally and that are committed to producing a quality product. Selecting pet food whether as a retailer or consumer involves trust and I find it easier to trust the smaller companies.

It has not just been the food companies that have been merging and buying each other. We have seen the same thing happen with the distributors that sell the food to retailers like Green Acres. When we first bought Green Acres three of the distributors, we purchased pet food from were Maine-based companies. Sadly today there are no pet food distributors in Maine.

Pet food and nutrition has seen many changes in the last twenty years. Next month I will discuss the proliferation in pet food formulas and SKUs, Pet Food Recalls, Misleading Advertising, Dietary Rotation, Raw Diets and more.


 

Other Posts You May Find Interesting

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costs – <Click Here>

Pet Nutrition – How Much Fat Is In Your Pet’s Food? <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>