Gardening Tips

pittie in flowersI commonly see and hear about dogs that get sick from the garden or garden products. I noticed this past weekend – tons of gardening going on. Mulching, planting, weeding. I went to Lowes and their garden center was BUSY!

Anyway, this is “flower” month and I want to make sure you know what you need to know about planting a pet safe garden. Maybe your dog or cat doesn’t go into the Flower garden – and if that is the case – good for you. But I know you also want to protect other animals from getting sick.

To help keep your garden pet safe.

The most commonly used lawn care products are of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. When applied according to package instructions or by a qualified lawn care service most of these products are not harmful. Pets are primarily poisoned by contact with concentrated products. This may occur from inappropriate storage, failure to read package instructions, or by intentionally using more product than needed. Dogs are especially good at finding poorly stored containers, chewing them up and drinking the contents. Pet owners should be especially vigilant when using insecticides as these tend to have a higher degree of toxicity.
Dogs may be exposed by digging up treated earth, chewing on pellets, or rooting around ant mounds shortly after insecticides are applied.

Many pets chew on plants in the yard and garden. Fortunately for dogs, who for some unknown reason seem to enjoy eating grass and then vomiting, most grasses are non-toxic. Holiday ornamental plants such as poinsettias and Easter lily are often put outside for the summer. Ingestion of poinsettia stems and leaves may cause some mild gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting but is not deadly. Ingestion of all parts of the Easter lily causes depression, vomiting and diarrhea in cats. Left untreated most cats die of kidney failure. Tulips (bulbs), Lily of the valley and azaleas are all springtime plants that can be deadly to pets if ingested in large enough quantities. Dogs should be watched carefully when these plants are being cared for.

Most lawn seed and Mulch products are generally not associated with toxic problems in pets. Cacoa bean mulch is perhaps the only product known to cause poisoning in dogs. This mulch is made from the hulls of cacoa beans and when fresh has a rich, chocolate aroma associated with it. Some larger breed dogs have actually eaten several pounds of the mulch, more than enough to develop poisoning associated with the chocolate remnants. These over eager dogs should be kept away from the mulch until the aroma has dissipated. Generally a heavy rainfall or thorough watering is all that is required.

As you work outside be sure to take an extra moment or two to protect your pets. Read all package instructions carefully before any applying products to your lawn or garden. Be sure not only that it is safe to use around your pets but that you are mixing or applying it correctly. Check with your local garden center about the safety of plants you are putting in your garden. Finally, be sure to close the top tightly on all containers and put them in an area where your pets do not have access to them.
With a little careful planning, you and your pet can enjoy a safe and relaxing garden environment. Whether you’re planning a large garden to feed the family or decorating a small space with hanging baskets and containers, here are a few factors to be considered.

lab eat garden

Plant Selection

Plants and flowers are nature’s attention getters. Their fragrance, appearance, and cool shade they create are natural attractants for you and your pet. Curiosity often leads pets to consume the flowers and foliage of ornamental plants, which can produce irritating and sometimes life threatening side effects.
Plants for a Sunny Location

If the location of your garden, gives you 4 or more hours of direct sunlight, a day, you have a long list, of annuals and perennials from which to choose. Annuals grow from seed and last one growing season. They are good choices for fast, instant color impact. Garden and discount centers will offer a wide variety of annual plants at economical prices. Perennials return year after year from growth at the roots, they are a little more expensive, but do not need to be planted every growing season. Most gardeners have their favourites and mix both types for the longest possible color show. Safe choices for sunny locations include:

Annuals
• Zinnia (Zinnia sp.)
• Snapdragons (Antirrhinum sp.)
• Cosmos (Cosmos sp.)
• Calendula (Callendula sp.)
• Petunia (Petunia sp.)

Perennial
• Bee Balm (Monarda sp.)
• Phlox (Phlox sp.)
• Roses (Rose sp.)
• Catmint/catnip (Nepeta sp.)
• Coneflowers (Echinacea purpura)

Plants for Partial Sun

If your garden receives less than 4 hours of direct sunlight a day, the following list of non-toxic annuals and perennials requires less sunlight.

Annuals
• Primrose(Primula sp.)
• Butterfly flower(Schianthus sp.)
• Spider flower (Cleome sp.)
• Nasturtium (Tropaeolum sp.)

Perennials
• Columbine(Aquilegia sp.)
• Coral Bells (Heuchera sp.)
• Turf Lilly (Liriope sp.)
• Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus)

Shade Gardens

A shade garden receives little to no direct sunlight, although the sun may filter through the trees for dappled light. Plant selection for these areas may include the following:

Annuals
• Begonia (Begonia sp.)
• Impatiens (Impatiens sp.)
• New Guinea Impatiens
• Violet (Viola sp.)
• Coleus (Coleus sp.)

Perennials
• Bugbane (Cimifuga racemosa)
• Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis lutea)
• Astilbe (Astilbe sp.)
• Queen of the Meadow (Filipendula ulmaria)

Vegetable Gardens

If you’re interest is vegetables, you’ll need 4 or more hours of full sun for most plants. Keeping your pet out of the vegetable garden may be your biggest task, especially when plants are young and fragile. Some clearly visible fencing may help. Avoid hardware cloth as pets can become entangled. Motion detector sprinkler systems can be useful in keeping pets and wildlife out of newly planted areas, and are not harmful. Most vegetable plants do not pose toxicity problems with a few exceptions. Onions, chives and garlic, which a lot of pets do like, contain compounds that, if ingested, can cause anemia. The leafy part of the potato plant, and the green part of the potato skin contain compounds that are toxic if eaten in sufficient quantities. Fruits also contain toxic chemicals in their seeds/pits. Apple, plum, cherry, apricot and peach seeds/pits contain cyanide, which can cause fatal seizures.

golden gardening

The 10 Least Wanted

The following is a list of plants that is best to avoid altogether due to their toxic nature. It is not a comprehensive list, if you are considering any plant of which you are unsure; consult your local plant nursery.
• Castor bean (Ricinus communis)
• Oleander (Nerium oleander)
• Morning Glory (Ipomea sp.)
• Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata)
• Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)
• Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
• Nightshade (Atropa belladonna)
• Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
• Precatory Beans (Arbus precatorius)
• Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans)

Lawn and Garden Chemicals

It is very easy to reach for a chemical pesticide, fertilizer or fungicide when faced with a problem in the lawn or garden. Fortunately for the average home gardener, safer alternatives are available for most commonly encountered problems, reducing the risk of a toxic exposure for your pet. You would not think that your pet would have any reason to consume these products but sadly they do, either intentionally or inadvertently and these types of poisonings are all too common. Remember before applying any product to your lawn, vegetables, or ornamental plants to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Many of these products are designed to persist in the environment days to weeks after application, so a pet can have an exposure days to weeks after initial application.

Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides

If you notice damaging insects on your plants such as aphids, spider mites or thrips, these insects can be eliminated or reduced by a simple spray of water. These soft-bodied insects are easily dislodged. Adjust the nozzle of your hose so a firm spray will not harm your plants and wash them away. If you have only a few plants, use a good stream of water from your watering can and a little hand washing. It may take a day or two but an infestation can be cleared by no more than a good shower!

Soap and Water

If your insect problem is more serious, add a teaspoon of dish soap to a gallon of water and use it in a garden sprayer. The soap is an irritant to a lot of insects and can help break down the protective barriers of their external skeleton. There are commercial insecticidal soaps available that are less toxic than most chemical alternatives.

Compost

The “black gold” of the garden, recycled kitchen and yard waste can be combined to produce the best garden fertilizer at no cost and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. It can be applied to the lawn and garden twice a year and it will replace the essential nutrients that growing plants and grasses require.

And Don’t Forget

Sometimes we forget the simplest things! Put your pets inside when mowing the lawn. A lawn mower can make a projectile out of a stick or rock that can injure your pet. Paint your garden tools a bright color such as red or yellow so you can see them out in the yard. Many pets step or trip on sharp garden implements. Store your chemicals out of reach and in their original containers. Don’t assume your pet will not be interested in consuming these products. If there is a toxic exposure or consumption, call your veterinarian immediately with the information from the product label. Keep your pets inside when applying any chemicals to the lawn or garden. With a little planning you and your pet can enjoy a safe and beautiful garden.

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What Is Your Dog Saying? A Key to Canine Body Language

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Keys to Understanding Canine Body Language

Every dog, whether Akita, bichon, or beagle, knows the same language. You and your dog probably pick up on each other’s signals without thinking much about it. But if your dog begins to behave differently, if you are getting to know a new dog, or if you encounter a dog you don’t know, it helps to be able to read the universal body language of dogs.

If you and your dog landed in Tokyo or Timbuktu tomorrow and were greeted by a local person and his dog, it would take only a few minutes for the two dogs to understand each other. Hours later, you would still be wondering if you were bowing properly, making acceptable hand gestures, or using the right table manners. The dogs, on the other hand, would know just what to do – the lead dog eats first.

Signals Dogs Use to Communicate

Although a dog can’t speak and has no hands and fingers for gesturing as humans do, you can watch key parts of his body to determine how he’s feeling and reacting to the world around him.

Face. Although the dog’s facial muscles are not as refined as a human’s, he can wrinkle or straighten his forehead to show confusion or determination. If your dog wants you to give him further direction, he may raise his eyelids quizzically and tilt his head to one side.

Eyes. A dog’s eyes brighten when he looks at a creature he considers friendly and when he wants to play. If he is afraid, his pupils dilate and he shows the whites of his eyes. He averts his eyes to avoid confrontation. But if he is angry or ready to defend himself, his eyes narrow and follow your every move. At this point, it’s particularly important not to look the dog in the eye because he sees that as a challenge to defend his position.

Lips, teeth and tongue. A relaxed dog in normal posture may let his tongue loll out of his mouth. If he wants something from you, if he is happy or wants to play, he may pull his lips back in what appears to be a smile and show his teeth, an expression, by the way, dogs show only to humans and not to other dogs. But beware the dog that bares his clenched teeth and wrinkles his nose. He is ready to attack.

Ears. The dog’s sense of hearing is much more acute than ours and even dogs with floppy ears have the ability to move and turn them to follow sounds. If a dog’s ears are raised, he is relaxed, listening, or showing acceptance. If they are back, he may be signaling submission and deference or may be frankly fearful.

Tail. A dog wags his tail when he is happy or wants to play. It is really an energy indicator. When he is submissive, he tucks it between his legs. A taut tail, held down rigidly behind him, may show that he is prepared to spring since he uses his tail for balance when jumping.

Voice. Dogs are vocal animals. They yip, bark, whimper, howl, and growl. The pitch or volume of their sounds can increase with their level of emotion. A bark may be playful or aggressive. Unlike body signals, dog noises can mean different things from different dogs.

Never tell a dog off for Growling.png

Dog Posture Speaks Volumes – What Your Dog is Saying

When two dogs meet, as long as their human companions aren’t tugging tight on their leashes, they carry out a series of actions that looks like a choreographed dance. With their bodies tense and tails taut, they circle and sniff each other, silently gathering and exchanging information, ready to defend themselves at any moment if necessary. They hold their ears back and the hair on their back may stand on end. They often avoid direct eye contact at first, sizing each other up to determine if the stranger is strong or weak, male or female, hostile or non-hostile. One dog may place his head on the nape of the other’s neck or nip at his nose. It seems they are getting ready to fight and then, one lies down. Soon, they may separate and urinate. At this point they have agreed on which dog is dominant.

 

Dogs learn body language from their mothers during the first 8 weeks of their lives and they test out this form of communication with their litter-mates. If a dog misses out on such training, he will have trouble communicating with other dogs throughout life.

Normal posture. The dog appears alert with head held high. His tail moves freely. His jaw is relaxed.

Invitation to play. The dog happily signals his desire to play by wagging his tail and dipping down into a “play bow.” His front legs are in a crouch and his backbone swoops up, leaving his rear haunches high. His head is held up expectantly to capture your attention. He may raise a front leg or lean to one side with his head.

Submission. The dog crouches down further and still appears relaxed. He may lift a front foot as in a play invitation, but his ears are back and his tail is down. He may yawn, scratch, or sneeze, which is meant to calm him and the dogs or people confronting him.

Fearful aggression. A dog who is afraid tenses his body and holds his tail rigid, though it may be wagging. His rear legs are ready to run or spring. He bares his teeth, draws back his ears and the hair on his back stands on end. He growls or snarls constantly to warn off the subject of his fear.

Dominance aggression. Teeth bared, this dog stares you down and advances confidently with his tail wagging slowly and his ears in the forward (alert) position.

Total submission. The dog drops his tail and curls it between his legs. He drops his head to avoid eye contact. He rolls over on his side and bares his belly, with one hind leg raised and urinates. If he isn’t afraid, he’ll tilt his head up a bit and raise his ears to show trust.

 

What’s The Importance of Socializing Pups

There are two things that determine a dog’s behavior, nature and nurture (in other words, genetics and experience). There’s not much we can do about genetic influences except select the right breed for our lifestyle and exhort breeders to breed their dogs responsibly and with temperament in mind. Once a pup has been born, he is on a certain trajectory of life that is determined to a large extent by his genetics.

DDB Puppies Log
But this trajectory can be altered, for better or for worse, depending on the pup’s experiences, particularly in an early “sensitive” period of development. With optimal experiences, the pup can become all that he can be. Under these circumstances, his social and behavioral progress will be augmented or constrained only by his genetic potential. A pup without innate flaws of temperament can become a super dog if properly raised, and a genetically challenged pup can be made quite livable. But the reverse is also true. Potentially good pups can be ruined by adverse experiences early in life and those with inbuilt character flaws can become living disasters.
The contribution of nature and nurture is thought to be about 50:50, with adverse early experiences probably accounting for the greatest proportion of temperamentally flawed adult dogs. Faulty raising practices are rife and unfortunately are almost the rule rather than the exception. In general, neither breeders nor new puppy owners understand when to start socializing a puppy, or indeed how to do it. Puppy mills and their pet store outlets are incapable of providing what is needed and some veterinarians add fuel to the fire by advising against social contact for the first 3 to 4 months of life. Their reasons center around vaccination status and the potential for disease. While it is true that attention must be paid to health aspects, it is also true that one half of the pups born in the United States do not see their second birthday largely because of behavioral problems that stem from improper nurtural experiences in early life. Clearly this matter must be understood and addressed if viable, socially compatible pups are to be produced.

When to Start
The answer to this question is as early as possible, even before a pup’s eyes have opened. The process of acclimating a pup should begin at this time and continue through the first 12 to 14 weeks of life and beyond.

The Goal
When pups are young, their minds are like sponges and ready to absorb almost anything we throw their way. This super-absorptive power can be used for the good, but can also lead to lifelong problems in attitude and behavior if the wrong kind of learning occurs during this period. The idea of socialization is to acclimate the young pup to people of different ages, sizes, genders, colors, and deportment while the window of rapid learning and acceptance is still wide open. When pups are first born they trust everyone and everything. At this time they should be exposed, under pleasant circumstances and with positive consequences, to people and animals of all sorts. The window of rapid acceptance begins to close toward the 8th to 10th week of life. If adverse experiences occur during this stage, the negative connotation is exacerbated and is likely to become indelible.
In socializing young pups, part of the mission is to prevent such negative experiences. I am not suggesting that because socialization is so vitally important we throw all caution to the wind and expose new pups in public places from the time they are born. This practice would this pose an unacceptable health risk to an unvaccinated pup and would not accomplish what is required. Veterinarians are right to recommend a degree of isolation but it should not be total. To have friends visit your house and interact with your pup, to pick him up, feed him, play with him, and talk to him soothingly, are all good experiences for him.
Also, it is helpful to have the pup interact with fully vaccinated and well cared for animals of the same or different species, as long as it can be assured that they are friendly. “Puppy parties,” as advocated by Dr. Ian Dunbar, are helpful to teach your dog confidence and social acceptance of other people and their pets. In these perhaps bi-weekly “parties,” people and their pets can form a circle of friendship, presenting mild passive challenges of novelty that can be escalated modestly from week to week. The process is one systematic habituation until all strangers and their pets are accepted as normal and non-threatening.

New Research Into Managing Chronic Inflammation In Dogs

Current medical science, in both human and veterinary fields, recognizes chronic inflammation as a key component in all disease.

In fact, every chronic disease we can name is essentially an inflammatory condition. This includes common ailments like:
Allergies
Asthma
Autoimmune disease
Cancer
Diabetes
Dementia
Heart disease
This means learning how to prevent and reverse inflammation will go a long way toward preventing or minimizing disease, as well as slowing the aging process and keeping our pets (and ourselves) healthy and more vigorous for a lifetime.

All About Inflammation
What is inflammation? It’s the body’s response to injury, irritation or infection. This is normally a natural and healthy process. It’s what helps the body repair wounds and clean up debris resulting from injury or toxins.

What is inflammation?
It’s the body’s response to injury, irritation or infection. This is normally a natural and healthy process. It’s what helps the body repair wounds and clean up debris resulting from injury or toxins.

This means that inflammation is beneficial when needed, but it can be disastrous when it remains in a chronic state. Chronic inflammation generates a constant supply of free radicals that overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defenses and ultimately damages the DNA. Free radicals are harmful because they create microscopic damage to the body’s cells. This damage is called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is what leads to the “aging” process, and is also what causes disease of every description.

At the root of inflammation and disease is oxidative stress. In fact, more than 200 diseases have been linked to oxidative stress, and research on this topic is mounting.

Yes, oxidative stress is a “normal” event that occurs in the body and contributes to the natural process of aging. But it’s the excessive and gradual accumulation of microscopic damage to cell membranes, DNA and enzyme systems that leads to dysfunction of the organs and the immune system. This causes the body to be more vulnerable to disease.

Where Do Free Radicals Come From?
The body actually produces these damaging molecules as a normal part of living, breathing, eating and digestion. As such, this ongoing process is normal and the body does need a certain balance of free radicals for healthy functioning.

But, free radicals are also produced in the environment all around us. In the form of sunlight, pollution, toxins in food and water, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) from wi-fi devices and cellular towers, and also importantly – from poor diets and heavily processed foods.

Free radicals are also produced in the environment all around us. In the form of sunlight, pollution, toxins in food and water, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) from wi-fi devices and cellular towers, and also importantly – from poor diets and heavily processed foods.

Of course, most dogs eat processed foods, drink tap water, and are routinely treated with insecticides to control parasites. They’re also exposed to fairly high levels of pesticides in the grass and the environment. The fact is, as technology and society progress, both pets and people are being exposed to more and more environmental and food based toxins leading to cellular damage. This helps to explain why cancers and degenerative diseases in animals and humans alike are becoming more common.

The consistent heavy burden of free radicals creates an imbalance. With too many free radicals (or too few antioxidants), the result is destruction of cell membranes and DNA. This leads to tissue and organ damage and a wide variety of chronic diseases.
New Research Into Managing Chronic Inflammation In Dogs
Current medical science, in both human and veterinary fields, recognizes chronic inflammation as a key component in all disease.
In fact, every chronic disease we can name is essentially an inflammatory condition. This includes common ailments like:
Allergies
Asthma
Autoimmune disease
Cancer
Diabetes
Dementia
Heart disease
This means learning how to prevent and reverse inflammation will go a long way toward preventing or minimizing disease, as well as slowing the aging process and keeping our pets (and ourselves) healthy and more vigorous for a lifetime.

All About Inflammation
What is inflammation? It’s the body’s response to injury, irritation or infection. This is normally a natural and healthy process. It’s what helps the body repair wounds and clean up debris resulting from injury or toxins.

What is inflammation? It’s the body’s response to injury, irritation or infection. This is normally a natural and healthy process. It’s what helps the body repair wounds and clean up debris resulting from injury or toxins.

This means that inflammation is beneficial when needed, but it can be disastrous when it remains in a chronic state. Chronic inflammation generates a constant supply of free radicals that overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defenses and ultimately damages the DNA. Free radicals are harmful because they create microscopic damage to the body’s cells. This damage is called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is what leads to the “aging” process, and is also what causes disease of every description.

At the root of inflammation and disease is oxidative stress. In fact, more than 200 diseases have been linked to oxidative stress, and research on this topic is mounting.

Yes, oxidative stress is a “normal” event that occurs in the body and contributes to the natural process of aging. But it’s the excessive and gradual accumulation of microscopic damage to cell membranes, DNA and enzyme systems that leads to dysfunction of the organs and the immune system. This causes the body to be more vulnerable to disease.
Where Do Free Radicals Come From?
The body actually produces these damaging molecules as a normal part of living, breathing, eating and digestion. As such, this ongoing process is normal and the body does need a certain balance of free radicals for healthy functioning.
But, free radicals are also produced in the environment all around us. In the form of sunlight, pollution, toxins in food and water, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) from wi-fi devices and cellular towers, and also importantly – from poor diets and heavily processed foods.
Free radicals are also produced in the environment all around us. In the form of sunlight, pollution, toxins in food and water, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) from wi-fi devices and cellular towers, and also importantly – from poor diets and heavily processed foods.
Of course, most dogs eat processed foods, drink tap water, and are routinely treated with insecticides to control parasites. They’re also exposed to fairly high levels of pesticides in the grass and the environment. The fact is, as technology and society progress, both pets and people are being exposed to more and more environmental and food based toxins leading to cellular damage. This helps to explain why cancers and degenerative diseases in animals and humans alike are becoming more common.
The consistent heavy burden of free radicals creates an imbalance. With too many free radicals (or too few antioxidants), the result is destruction of cell membranes and DNA. This leads to tissue and organ damage and a wide variety of chronic diseases.

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Breaking Free Of Free Radicals
Fortunately, the body is designed to help protect its cells from free radical damage. It has its own internal and powerful network of antioxidant enzymes for this. It also uses outside sources of antioxidants from nutrients found in foods. Antioxidants are compounds that react with and inactivate free radicals so they can’t cause cellular damage. In this way, antioxidants help to protect every cell, tissue and organ in the body.
With this knowledge, medical and nutritional science have started recommending consumption of (both food-based and synthetically produced) antioxidants in an attempt to combat oxidative stress. Over recent years, companies have added multitudes of antioxidant-based products to the market. Many of these are synthetic isolates of vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.
Unfortunately, antioxidants in the form of high-dose synthetic vitamin supplements are actually linked to more harmful effects than benefits.
By contrast, natural food-based antioxidants are known to help reduce the incidence of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. But the imbalance (or overload of oxidative stress) is difficult to manage with foods alone. Dietary nutrients have a limited capacity, because molecules of nutrient-based antioxidants (direct antioxidants) can only neutralize free radicals at a direct 1:1 ratio.
The good news is the body’s own internally produced antioxidants (indirect antioxidants) are far more powerful in counteracting the damaging effects of free radicals compared to food-derived antioxidants. The body actually makes antioxidant enzymes such as SOD (superoxide dismutase), glutathione, and catalase. These are exponentially more effective at scavenging free radicals because they deactivate millions of free radicals every second. This powerful antioxidant network is like the body’s own internal army that gets deployed when there’s a need to fight off any threats.

There’s no doubt that antioxidant foods and good nutrition can have a significant impact on health and disease. However, with expanding research we’re beginning to understand how we can use specific nutrients to promote successful aging and resilience to inflammation and disease.

Nutrigenomics – How Nutrients Affect DNA
Nutrigenomics is an exciting new topic in the field of health and wellness. It involves the study of how food nutrients affect the DNA and the activity of genes, especially with regard to the prevention and treatment of disease. This means that the presence of certain genes is not the only factor in the development of disease. Many other factors can affect the DNA and the expression of genes:
External factors (diet, exposure to chemicals and other toxins)
Internal factors (hormones and stress)
In other words, many factors can act upon the genes to ultimately influence both lifespan and healthspan.

Most of us know we can help our pets age more gracefully with early and proactive choices that promote resistance to disease. However, even with patterns of disease and chronic inflammation already present, we can now look to new ways of helping the body heal and repair. One way of approaching successful aging and minimizing chronic inflammation is to support health at a cellular (root) level.
This is where the emerging science of the Nrf2 pathway comes in.

The Pathway To Success
In the mid 1990s, researchers discovered Nrf2 (nuclear factor (erythroid derived 2)-like 2). Nrf2 is a DNA transcription factor that turns on the production of SOD, glutathione, and other internal antioxidant enzymes. The Nrf2 pathway has been referred to as the master regulator of antioxidant, detoxification and cell defense gene expression.
In essence, Nrf2 is a protein messenger that exists within each cell of the body and functions as the master regulator of the body’s own protection system. This means that Nrf2 is responsible for detecting cellular damage.
Once damage is detected, Nrf2 responds by signaling the DNA to produce powerful antioxidant enzymes, anti-inflammatory proteins, and detoxification or “stress response” genes. Therefore, the Nrf2 signaling pathway literally helps the body to heal itself. It’s even been called “a guardian of healthspan and gatekeeper of species longevity”.

Research has shown, however, that as the body ages, the Nrf2 activity begins to decline. Fortunately, it’s now known that activation of the Nrf2 pathway can be triggered by certain foods and herbs, and also by exercise and other lifestyle choices (such as intermittent fasting). This gives us an exciting new approach to addressing health and wellness at a cellular (root) level and also through the use of nutrigenomics.
Recent research has found that Nrf2 activation plays a largely protective, beneficial role in numerous diseases. This has led researchers to examine ways that we might harness Nrf2 activation using specific dietary supplements and medications. To date, several pharmaceutical medications that stimulate the Nrf2 pathway are being used or studied for the treatment of various diseases.
Luckily for those of us looking for a more natural approach, it’s now recognized that a variety of foods and natural herbs act directly upon the Nrf2 pathway. These include substances like sulforaphane (found in broccoli), turmeric, green tea extract and many others.

Promoting Nrf2 Activation
There are now specific herbal products that have been developed as dietary supplements to promote Nrf2 activation. It has been found that a specific synergistic blend of herbs can produce far more action than single doses of herbs.

A particular patented blend, created in a product called Protandim, contains 5 active ingredients (milk thistle, bacopa, turmeric, green tea and ashwaganda) that work to effectively reduce oxidative stress in humans by an average of 40 percent in 30 days.

This same synergistic blend was also created as a canine-specific product, now called Petandim, after demonstrating that it effectively reduced oxidative stress in dogs, as evidenced in blood tests and clinical results of improved mobility, flexibility and cognitive function.
In summary, as numerous diseases and degenerative conditions are linked to oxidative stress, affecting activation of the Nrf2 pathway allows a fundamental approach to affect and improve health at a cellular level. This is beneficial from both a treatment (therapeutic) and a preventative standpoint.
In fact, a 2015 scientific review article from Washington State University stated, “we may be on the verge of new literature on health effects of Nrf2 which may well become the most extraordinary therapeutic and the most extraordinary preventative breakthrough in the history of medicine”. The same researchers went on to say, “it is our opinion that raising Nrf2 is likely to be the most important health promoting approach into the foreseeable future”.

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Video testimonials

How to Put More Life in

We all want to keep our dogs happy and healthy, and to give them the best possible lives. As a veterinarian, I want to tell you that nutrition plays a key role in making that possible. But with so many dog foods and “premium” brands to choose from, how do you know that you’re making the right choice when it comes to your dog’s food?
Recently I found a video by veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter and I was really impressed by what I learned from it. Dr. Gary Richter is the international bestselling author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide. Dr. Richter was also voted “America’s Favorite Veterinarian” by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation in 2015. He’s spent two decades at the forefront of pet nutrition.
In this video, Dr. Richter tells us that the best way to help your dog live a longer, happier, healthier life is through good nutrition. Unfortunately, the nutritional standards for dog food are very low, even if you’re buying a “premium” brand. Because of the way dog food is processed, it loses all of its nutritional value and you’re left with the bare minimum — only the minimal amount of vitamins needed to keep your dog from suffering from vitamin deficiency or dying. And dog food has no requirements for Anti Oxidents, Omega-3s, digestive enzymes, polysaccharides, or probiotics, all of which are very important to your dog’s health.
Because of poor nutrition, our dogs are dying before their time. In the 1970s, the average life span for a golden retriever was 16 or 17 years. Now the average lifespan for a golden retriever is about nine years. And did you know that more than half of all dogs over the age of 10 will get cancer? Watch the video to learn more.
As a result of poor nutrition, our dogs suffer from a number of conditions including:
Itchy skin
Allergies
Mushy poop that smells bad
Aching, inflamed joints
Low energy
Depressed mood
Cancer
Shorter life span
Watch this amazing video to learn what you can do in one simple step to give your dog the healthy nutrition he needs to live his best possible life.
“NRF2 Dog Videos” – Dog Testimonial Videos

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What to Know If You Want to Give Your Dog CBD

Is CBD a cure-all, snake oil, or something in between?
If you have spent any time researching cannabis for dogs, and specifically cannabidiol (CBD), you have probably found yourself wondering whether these products are safe, and even if they will offer any real benefits for your pained, anxious, or elderly dog.

The simple story about CBD is that there is no simple story about CBD. Though CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical derived from cannabis or hemp that won’t get people or animals high like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it still falls into both a medical and bureaucratic black hole where it can be nearly impossible to extract definitive information.

But we have done our best to stare into the CBD abyss and pull out as much as possible to help you decide whether it might be good for your dog. As you’ll soon see, vets are placed in a difficult position when talking about these products, but you will hopefully walk away from this article with enough information to help you make a more-informed decision.

Lost ball in cana
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol for Dogs — Quick References

Is CBD safe for dogs?

What issues does CBD treat for?

Are vets studying CBD for dogs?

Tips if you’re going to give your dog CBD

Other alternative remedies for dogs
CBD is derived from either hemp (the rope and fabric stuff) or cannabis (usually the recreational stuff). It can be easy to get, is purported to offer many health benefits for pets (and people), and comes in anything from pills and oils to specialty chews and treats. Often, you will find CBD in the form of an oil or soft chew that can be given orally, although there are other products like biscuits and capsules easily found online. Most importantly, unlike THC (CBD’s psychoactive cousin), it won’t get your dog high.

Great! Case closed, right? Well … not quite.

There is still a lot we don’t know about CBD. More accurately, we know pretty much nothing definitive about CBD because of the bureaucratic minefield that is the U.S. drug classification system. Under federal law, marijuana is a schedule 1 drug — putting it on the same level as LSD, ecstasy, and heroin. So it’s amazingly difficult to even study marijuana, and the THC and CBD it contains, for medical use. Cannabis-derived CBD is still technically illegal under federal law.

“But can’t someone just buy CBD products?” you might wonder to yourself.

That’s because the CBD in those products comes from industrial hemp, which is sort-of legal. (Hemp-derived CBD became “more legal,” and less murky, in the 2018 Farm Bill.) Many states allow people to grow (cultivate) industrial hemp, which includes little to no THC. Other states don’t let people grow hemp, but it can still be imported after being grown and/or processed in other states where it is legal to grow, or even from overseas. As you can see, while the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp and hemp-derived CBD “more” legal, it didn’t completely remove all restrictions. Here’s a slightly more detailed

To add another wrinkle, there is some debate about the effectiveness of hemp CBD versus CBD that comes from a THC-rich cannabis plant. How accurate that debate is is itself a matter of debate, as studying cannabis-derived CBD is extremely difficult to do because of the legal classification of marijuana (see above). Not to mention that the CBD supplement market, or any supplement market for that matter, isn’t exactly standardized and well regulated. So it can be extremely difficult to know exactly what is in a particular product (exactly how much CBD, or even if it contains any traces of THC), how it was made (ensuring that there aren’t any impurities or potentially-dangerous solvents left over from the extraction process), or whether it actually even does what it claims. So the whole “CBD for dogs (and cats)” question and market is quite a cloudy one … but thankfully it is getting better! (See further below for the responsible companies who are leading the charge, doing great clinical research and ensuring the safety, efficacy, and proper dosing of their products.)

Cannabidiol (CBD) Chemical Structure
Is It Safe to Give a Dog CBD?
Most vets will agree that you should not give your dog an intoxicating amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. There are plenty of reasons why, which you can learn about in “Marijuana, Cannabidiol & Dogs: Everything You Want (And Need) to Know.” The quick and dirty version is that dogs will not enjoy THC the same way you might (or do), and it can actually be dangerous. So is CBD better? Maybe. And that’s about the best information you’ll get out of most vets.

Because of its cloudy classification and constantly-shifting political winds, CBD creates a legal quagmire for anybody who wants to study or recommend its effectiveness as a medicine for animals. UPDATE: The results of some of the clinical studies done at different veterinary colleges have now been published, and the results are looking quite encouraging. See the links added below, but note that the studies were done using very specific formulations of CBD and since not all CBD oils/chews/etc. are created the same, it doesn’t mean you should just run out and get any old (or even the cheapest) CBD product for your pets. Below the new links, we’re also including links to the companies whose CBD products were used in the university clinical trials. This is not an endorsement or recommendation for these products, but just to help point you in the right direction to start your research, should you decide to try CBD with your pets.

Updated Links to Study Results:

Forbes article on the CBD and Dog Arthritis study done at Cornell University: https://www.forbes.com/sites/julieweed/2018/12/13/cornell-university-research-could-help-hemp-entrepreneurs-and-make-dogs-feel-better/#2f65985783c2

The actual published Cornell University CBD and Dog Arthritis study: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2018.00165/full

Colorado State University release on the preliminary data from the (pilot) study looking at CBD as a treatment for Epilepsy in dogs: https://cvmbs.source.colostate.edu/preliminary-data-from-cbd-clinical-trials-promising/

CBS News story on the CBD and Epilepsy (pilot) study done at Colorado State University: https://denver.cbslocal.com/2018/07/16/csu-cbd-oil-dogs/

Here are the two companies that had their products tested in these clinical trials. These would be the two companies to look at first if you’re interested in finding CBD products for your pets. ElleVet Sciences is the company whose product was tested in the Cornell (dogs and osteoarthritis study), while Applied Basic Sciences Corporation (ABSC) is the company whose products were tested in the Colorado State University dogs and epilepsy (pilot) study.
What Conditions Does CBD Treat in Dogs?
In humans, THC and/or CBD have been reported to treat things such as:

Anxiety
Pain
Noise phobia
Nausea
Loss of appetite
Epilepsy
Inflammation

It’s not hard to find stories of pet owners who report similar effects after giving their dogs CBD oil or treats. However, the lack of published double-blind study for animals makes it hard to pull out real facts from the purely anecdotal evidence.

Do you give your pets cannabis/hemp products? If so, researchers want to hear from you! Help provide important information by filling out this anonymous survey from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Cannabidiol (CBD) Treats

Can CBD Treat Pain in Dogs?
As with other anecdotal evidence about CBD, you don’t have to look hard to find stories of dogs in extreme pain who purportedly found relief through CBD.

Many pet owners who praise the benefits of CBD will say that it helped reduce their dog’s pain and corresponding anxiety or immobility. These claims should not be discounted — nor believed blindly — on face value, but it’s one of the main reasons vets are so eager to study the possible medicinal uses of CBD (and marijuana in general) in pets.

UPDATE: Thanks to the Cornell University study mentioned above, we now have legitimate and valid scientific data to show that, at least the ElleVet Sciences CBD formula tested, does in fact provide significant pain relief to dogs with osteoarthritis.

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What Vets Think About CBD for Dogs
First the unsatisfying answer: Vets don’t have anything definitive to say about marijuana or CBD products for dogs because, as mentioned above, they have limited means to study the potential benefits and, more importantly, the potential for harm. Add to that the fact that a vet could face disciplinary action (even loss of license to practice) for discussing, recommending, or prescribing cannabis for their patients, and you can see why vets’ lips are collectively sealed on this touchy topic. At best, you might find a vet who will say that CBD probably won’t be harmful to dogs, and it may or may not offer any actual benefit. UPDATE: In September of 2018 Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2215 into law, making it legal now for California veterinarians to DISCUSS cannabis for pets with their clients. They still can’t explicitly recommend or prescribe it, but they can at least discuss its use.

CBD-pet-storeEven in states where marijuana is legal (under state law), vets can be held liable if they prescribe marijuana or CBD for a pet. Oddly, human physicians are legally protected if they prescribe marijuana, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and even pet store employees recommend and tout CBD-containing products for pets all the time. Thankfully, there has been a recent push by veterinarians to reclassify marijuana and CBD in order to study, discuss, and prescribe it responsibly and without legal repercussions.

Dr. Richard Sullivan of the AVMA, recently told Congress: “Clients are asking us, and it’s our obligation morally and ethically to address these cases. We need the research, and we need our national association to represent us at [the] FDA and get things moving. … We do need to be in the conversation.”

It’s not that vets think marijuana products, either THC or CBD, are a panacea to all health problems for dogs and other animals. Instead, the lack of solid information about these drugs has created an unregulated environment where many pet owners are simply running the experiments themselves, sometimes with dangerous consequences.

Dr. Diana Thomé is at least one vet who said she has seen more animals with marijuana (THC) toxicity. “Our clients come in almost daily asking us about the use of marijuana,” she explained to Congress. “Legally, I can’t tell them anything … other than to say I can’t advise them to use it.”

Without study, vets can’t say whether it’s safe to give any amount of THC or CBD to certain dogs, what it might treat effectively, what the suggested dosage might be, or any other information that could help reduce preventable harm.

‘I Don’t Care What Anyone Says, I’m Giving My Dog CBD’Hemp
It’s understandable that many people are frustrated by the ambiguity surrounding CBD and dogs. It often results in pet owners who go with their gut, especially when they think A) an existing medication isn’t working, or B) there are better, “more natural” alternatives. And this is equally frustrating for vets who can’t definitively say anything about it.

That being said, here are things to keep in mind when you give any unregulated, unstudied supplement to your dog.

Do Your Research: This is especially true if you are buying something online. Avoid falling prey to the marketing hype and unsubstantiated claims. Seek out impartial reviews to see what others are saying (it’s often helpful to read the most negative reviews first).

Conduct a little background research on the company: Have they been sued and, if so, why? Have they been penalized by the FDA for allegedly making false claims? Do they have a veterinarian on staff, or do they work with a veterinary school?

As mentioned above, both ElleVet Sciences and Applied Basic Sciences Corporation have at least had their products undergo double-blinded, placebo-controlled, university-run scientific study to prove efficacy and safety. These two companies would be a good place to start with your CBD for pets research.

Natural Doesn’t Mean Better: First of all, no marijuana or CBD product you might give your dog is natural. Apart from raw, unprocessed marijuana (which you should absolutely NOT give to your dog), anything you get has been processed or altered in some fashion. Second, natural things can be dangerous, too. For example, xylitol is a “natural” sugar-free sweetener, derived from sources like birch bark, but it is highly toxic to dogs.

Medications (either natural or synthetic) prescribed by your vet are prescribed for a reason: they have been studied, vetted, regulated, and well-documented. Your vet can also answer your questions about proper dosages, side effects, and when it might be time to go off a medication or try another.

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True… Ah, the online CBD dog products. Sounds too good to be true, right? The CBD you get online comes from industrial (or “agricultural”) hemp that might have originated in your home state, or it might have come from overseas or another processing facility where the CBD was extracted through less-than ideal processes. There are several ways to extract CBD from hemp, but one of the quickest and cheapest involves using solvents such as butane and hexane, which can leave a toxic residue if not properly handled. That’s not to say all online products should be distrusted, but definitely do your research on the company, how they make their product, their claims, and what unbiased reviewers are saying.

Document It: Keep a journal of your dog before and for several days if you decide to use a CBD product. This will help you decide whether it’s having a positive effect. Better still, record video of your dog to document their progress, or lack thereof (this will help you overcome the flaws of human memory). Or ask your friends/family whether they’ve noticed any difference in your dog without telling them that you’ve been giving your dog CBD (the closest you’ll get to a blinded study).

Know the Warning Signs: As with anything you give to your dog — from chew toys to prescribed medications — it’s important to recognize when something isn’t quite right. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, it might be a good idea to check in with your vet. The following side effects have been reported by humans who took CBD, so do your best to translate them to dogs.

Dry Mouth: Your dog can’t tell you if they have dry mouth, but it’s safe to say they might increase their water intake. And increased thirst could also be a sign of other serious problems, such as antifreeze or rodenticide poisoning, or conditions like diabetes.

Tremors: Human patients with Parkinson’s disease have reported increased tremors at high doses of CBD. Tremors of any kind should be cause for concern in a dog.

Low Blood Pressure: If your vet notices low blood pressure during your next wellness visit, let them know that you have been giving your dog CBD. Until then, check whether your dog seems overly tired or lethargic.

Lightheadedness: Your dog won’t tell you if they’re feeling lightheaded, but they might seem disoriented or dizzy.

Drowsiness: Pay attention to your dog’s sleeping patterns to see if there’s any change.

Let your vet know about anything you give your dog. This goes for both legal and illegal substances. Vets aren’t obligated to report illegal drugs, unless they suspect animal abuse.

an alternative

How do I – All about Puppies

The world of puppies is filled with questions for new owners, but this exciting and confusing time can be easily managed when you have the answers. Here are responses to the Top 10 questions we’ve been asked over the years.

DDB Puppies Log

How do I housebreak my puppy?

In a nutshell – supervise, schedule and praise. Get him outside frequently for bathroom breaks, especially if he’s been crated or involved in strenuous play, and right after eating. Crate your pup when you can’t supervise – dogs don’t like to soil their beds. Most can comfortably wait one hour for every month of life, plus one. This means that your four-month-old pup should be fine if left for five hours. Always praise lavishly when your pup eliminates outside. Do not punish him for accidents when you weren’t supervising.

How do I socialize my pup and introduce him to strange situations?

Socializing your pup means to the world he lives in, not just his four-legged buddies. Walking down the same streets to the same parks to visit the same people is not enough. Get him into the car for road trips, let him accompany you on your next trip to the pet-supply store, and make sure he’s accustomed to the noises of the real world. Feed him part of his meal or a tasty snack when he’s in a new environment, to show him in dog language that when the situation changes, good things happen.

My puppy pees almost every time I come into the room. How do I stop him?

Submissive urination is quite common in young pups. This is rarely a housetraining issue, so should not be considered an “accident.” The good news is that pups often grow out of it. The bad news is that in order to eliminate it, you have to ignore it. Ask your family and guests to pay attention to your pup only once they are well inside your house and not in the doorway. Teaching your pup some simple obedience words, such as Sit and Stay, will increase his confidence.

silence is golden unless puppy

How do I teach my puppy to not chew our things?

This can’t be stressed enough: Supervision is the key. A pup with the run of the house will get into mischief. Make sure your pup has regular physical and mental stimulation. Put him into his crate or a puppy-proofed area of your house when you can’t supervise. Supply him with an assortment of chew toys and put away your shoes and valuables.

My puppy is aggressive and bites me. What should I do?

It is even more important to understand what not to do. Aggression does not lessen with more aggression. Keep the scene from escalating by being calm but clear. Immediately give your pup a time out so he’ll start to realize that if he bites, he loses out on all the fun. In severe cases, consult a professional dog trainer.

My puppy is so rough. How do I get him to play nicer with other dogs?

Playing with the other dogs is lots of fun if it is done with a few rules and manners. Watch your pup closely and if he’s getting overexcited, take him out of the group. Put a long line on your pup so you can be ready to step in and stop the roughhousing when necessary. Do a time out and re-focus him with a few obedience exercises before you allow him to rejoin his buddies.

How can I stop my puppy from jumping up?

The more a behaviour is rewarded, the more likely it is to occur. Teaching your pup what you want him to do is far more effective than yelling at him for what you don’t like. Teach a solid Sit and reward him for sitting quickly. Now, when he starts to jump, ask him to sit and reward him for doing as he’s told. You’ll soon see him race toward you and screech into a sit. Always remember to acknowledge him for what he’s doing right.

Should I take my puppy to obedience school? When is a good time?

Most trainers suggest starting classes when a puppy is between 10 and 14 weeks old – as soon as he gets the go-ahead from his veterinarian. Avoiding naughty habits is far easier than having to correct them later, and pups that learn at a young age often keep those learning skills throughout their lives. As well, your pup will have the oppor-tunity to interact with others his own age. Puppy classes are for the pet parent, too, and will start you off on the right paw. The trainers will be able to identify normal puppy behaviour, and give you the confidence to be successful in training.

My puppy is bothering my adult dog. Should I stop him?

Many dog owners think that the dogs should be left to sort it out. But not all adult dogs stop their young charges, and senior dogs deserve to have us step in and give them a break. Pestering an adult dog at home may inadvertently also teach the lesson that this is an acceptable way to interact with all dogs. Teach your pup manners in his own home first. The lessons learned now will serve him well in the future.

Will playing tug make my puppy aggressive?

Playing tug will not make your pup aggressive. Years ago it was thought to create aggression. We now know that playing tug is a great outlet and a great reward for many dogs. Of course, with tug comes “Drop it” and your dog must learn that you can end the game as quickly as you started it, which is a great lesson itself. So, go and have some fun with your pup!

The Dog Nanny’s website

When It Comes to Dog Training, Practice Makes Perfect

Anyone who has ever learned to do something physical – hitting a baseball, sewing a garment, driving a car, you name it – understands that you gain competence only through practice and repetition. At first, your movements and timing are clumsy and imperfect. You probably over correct, making crooked or zig-zagging seams or driving the car over the centerline bumps. But over time – and especially if you have some expert guidance – your movements become smooth and coordinated, and it seems to any observers that you’re a natural!
Ha! If only they could see you at the beginning!

training

Learning new skills is hard work – for people AND dogs
Now, think about learning something new with a partner who is also learning the same skill, such as a new dance or perhaps sign language. The difficulty factor goes way up!
It’s going to take a bit longer for the result to look smooth.

Now imagine that your dance partner or sign language conversation partner speaks a different language! If this is the case, all of your clumsy efforts require that much MORE patience, creativity, and humor with each other as you try to figure out how to communicate while simultaneously managing intricate dance steps or movements of the hands.

This latter scenario, you may have already guessed, is exactly what’s at play with new dog owners and their new dogs or puppies!

Every new owner wants their puppies or dogs to behave well – to stop doing uncomfortable or naughty things like chewing shoes, jumping on people, or barking at the leaves falling in the back yard, and to perform good behaviors on cue, such as sit, down, wait, and leave it. It adds quite a layer of difficulty to teach them to do what we want, in a language that is not their own, while we are simultaneously learning to use our posture and movements (body language!) for cues and the timely delivery of reinforcers!

Using markers and reinforcers
In the late 1940s, pioneering animal trainers Keller and Marian Breland started teaching other animal trainers to use a marker and the immediate delivery of a reinforcer to teach animals to perform behaviors. They found that chickens were a great species to use to help trainers learn the physicality of cues and reinforcement delivery – especially, the timing of the marker and reinforcer delivery, as well as the location and presentation of the both the cue and the reinforcer.

Chickens who were raised around people aren’t afraid of humans, they notice very minute differences in the appearance of things, they are very quick to react when they notice these differences, and they are very motivated by food to try new behaviors. They also don’t carry a lot of behavioral “baggage” along with them, resulting from living with sometimes-intemperate humans! They make amazing practice partners for anyone who is learning how to observe animal behavior and learn to change it swiftly and without force, and there is a long legacy of trainers who still use chickens to teach dog trainers how to refine and improve their training technique.

Don’t blame the chicken!
Another brilliant thing about using chickens to teach people how to train: people don’t get mad at chickens when they are failing to get the chicken to perform a specific behavior! They don’t tend to start calling the chicken “stubborn” or “spiteful” – or blame the chicken’s breed, origins as a “rescue chicken” or anything else. They are able to easily see that training the chicken is just a matter of presenting the training challenge to the chicken in a precise way that makes it easy for the chicken to do the behavior (or some approximation of it), for the behavior to instantly be “marked” (with the click of a clicker or a verbal marker, such as the word “Yesss!”, or the flash of a penlight, or what have you!) and be reinforced for it immediately.

They are also able to see that if they are late with the marker, or fail to deliver the reinforcer in a timely fashion and in a location that doesn’t pull the chicken out of the position the trainer wanted her in, that it’s impossible for the chicken to “get” the point of the exercise! They see that it’s their own clumsiness or bad timing, not the chicken being “bad.”

stop that get back here smile dog

Get a second set of eyes
If you are having trouble teaching your dog some new behavior, consider taking a little video of yourself as you work with your dog, or ask someone who you consider to be a good trainer to watch you. It might develop that you simply need a little coaching on how you are presenting the cue, or marking the desired behavior, or delivering the reinforcer. Strike that: It is undoubtedly a problem with one of those things, not that your dog is being dumb, lazy, or a non-native speaker of English.

Honestly, if you are motivated to learn how to more effectively teach your dog new behaviors quickly, sign up for a class or even just a private lesson or two with someone who is experienced with positive reinforcement-based training (and who does NOT use punitive, physical “corrections”). With a few pointers, you will be amazed at how quickly you and your dog or puppy will be happily speaking the same language as you dance through life together.

The Dog Nanny Website

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Dog Owners

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Dog Ownersdog-humor-your-move-dummy-book

These powerful lessons can improve your overall relationship with your dog and improve his behavior as a positive side effect.

Almost 30 years ago, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey was published for the first time. The self-help book went on to be called the “most influential business book of the 20th century.” To date, more then 25 million copies of the book have been sold.

As a small business owner, I found the book very enlightening and helpful, but I mostly found myself relating to Dr. Covey’s “7 habits” as things that would really help anyone who lived with and worked with dogs!

As a Certified Professional Dog Training Instructor, I get to work with people from all walks of life and the dogs they love. Interestingly, no matter who they are, what they do for a living, or what kind of dog they have, their issues are similar: They call me because they want their dog to stop doing “X.” Usually, they say they have “tried everything, but the dog just won’t listen.”

I love the opportunities I have to work with so many amazing dogs. But a lot of what I do comes down to coaching the dog’s owners on how to look at things differently to obtain a new outcome.

With Dr. Covey’s “seven habits for success in business” in mind, allow me to apply them to people who want a more successful relationship with their dogs.

 

  1. Be proactive.

Much of the old-fashioned dog training we were exposed to growing up focused on waiting for the dog to make a mistake and then harshly correcting him. While most of us simply accepted this as “how you train a dog,” we were missing the bigger picture. This method never taught the dog what he was supposed to do in that situation the next time.

It doesn’t make sense to let an untrained dog loose in your house and then follow behind correcting him with “No! Don’t! Off! Stop! Get down! Quit that!” for every wrong decision he makes. It is much more effective and productive to take the time to teach this new family member how to act appropriately in your home.

 

In modern, science-based animal training we understand the importance of teaching the learner, in this case the dog, what to do by being proactive. To use the example above as what not to do when you bring your new dog or puppy home, start things off on the right foot by first showing your new family member where she is supposed to go potty – before you ever bring her indoors! Stay out there until she goes, and immediately reward her with treats and praise!

Then, instead of turning her loose in her new home, allow your new dog to have access to just one room or area in the house at first – a place where she won’t be able to make mistakes like jumping up on the bird cage, soiling a precious rug, or chewing up a family heirloom. Allow her to relax in an area where it’s safe to explore without being able to make any major mistakes and where her water, food, toys, and beds are located. Reward her for sitting politely as she meets each member of the family and each visitor to the home!

Dogs do what works for them and what’s safe for them. If you introduce behaviors that are safe for the dog and work for you both, your dog will begin to choose them naturally.

 

  1. Begin with the end in mind.

To change an unwanted behavior, you first need to decide what you want your learner to do instead. It is very easy to say, “I want my dog to stop jumping” or “I don’t want my dog to bark at the mailman.” You need to turn that around and decide exactly what you’d rather have your dog do in those moments.

To modify the unwanted behavior, we must be able to picture the final goal. If your dog is jumping on guests, you would probably prefer that he sit politely instead. If your dog is barking, you may decide you want him to play with his toy or go to his bed while the mailman passes by. These are the finished behaviors you can have in mind so you know exactly what you’re going to teach your dog to do.

If you don’t have a goal in mind and you’re only focused on stopping a behavior, your dog will never learn what he’s supposed to do the next time a guest comes to visit or the mailman delivers a package. This will set up an endless cycle of wrong behavior, harsh correction, confused and scared dog, frustrated guardian. This cycle can be broken easily if you begin dealing with your dog with your end goal in mind.

 

  1. Put first things first.

Prioritizing is a necessity in all aspects of our lives. Working with your dog is no exception. There will probably be several things you wish to change or work on with your dog, but certain ones should take precedent. Any behavior that is necessary to keep your dog and other family members safe should be a top priority. This could be teaching your dog to come when called because you live near a busy street. It may be working on creating positive associations for your dog with babies because you’re expecting. If you’ve recently brought home a new puppy, proper and humane socialization should be your number one priority due to the brief window of time puppies have to learn about their world and whether it’s safe.

Focus on teaching your dog whatever behaviors meet your immediate needs; usually, the rest can be handled with proper management such as baby gates, fences, a leash, stuffed food toys, etc. There is nothing wrong with using management to keep everyone safe and happy until you have a chance to work on that next issue with your dog.

 

  1. Think win-win.

Always think in terms of mutual benefit when working with your dog. I doubt you added a dog to your family to spend the next 10 to 15 years in an adversarial relationship. Therefore, it’s not helpful to think in terms of dominating your dog or expecting your dog to spend his life trying to please you.

Instead, make the things you ask your dog to do just as beneficial for him as they are for you. Thankfully, this couldn’t be easier, since most dogs will gladly work for food, toys, praise, and/or petting.

Your relationship with your dog should be like any other in your family, built on mutual respect and love for one another. If you stop and consider how your dog must feel in a given situation – just as you would for your partner or child – you can then approach it in a way in which you both receive what you need in that moment: a win-win.

 

  1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Humans are quick to demand full and complete comprehension from our dogs. It’s surprising when you consider we expect this from an entirely different species – one that doesn’t speak our language! On the flip side, consider that dogs speak to us all day long with their ritualized body language. Sadly, the majority of humans have never learned this language.

Dr. Covey wrote in his book, “Seek first to listen with the intent to understand the thoughts and feelings of others, then seek to effectively communicate your own thoughts and feelings.”

We must remember that our dogs have their own thoughts and feelings and that the environment we subject them to affects both. If you cue your dog to sit or lie down while at the vet clinic or on a busy street corner and he doesn’t do it, it’s not because he is being stubborn. Your dog may be scared, anxious, or overwhelmed in this situation and feels that it would be unsafe or uncomfortable to sit or lie down. He is not defiantly disobeying your orders. He is responding to his instinct and emotions in the moment. Every one of us does this when we feel scared or threatened.

 

Learning how your dog communicates with his body means you care about this family member with whom you share your life. It also shows your dog that he can trust you to help him out of overwhelming moments and you will understand what he needs. What an amazing gift to be able to offer him!

 

  1. Synergize.

This means recognizing your own strengths and celebrating the strengths of those around you. You may have adopted a dog because you thought it would be nice to visit nursing homes and cheer up people with a sweet, fluffy therapy dog. However, the dog you end up with might be full of energy and better-suited for an agility field.

Instead of seeing this as a failure in your dog’s ability to be a therapy dog, consider the amazing possibilities you could have doing something more active together. Perhaps this unexpected development will open up a new world to you, with like-minded friends and fun travel. (And perhaps your dog will grow to share your interest in providing comfort to people later in his life!)

Just as you would with a child, try meeting your dog where he is, accepting him for who he is today. Be open to discovering the wonderful gifts he can bring to your life right now.

 

  1. Sharpen the saw.

There isn’t an individual on this planet that ever stops learning. In fact, learning is always taking place, even when we don’t realize it.

If you think of training a dog as something you do haphazardly (when you find the time) for the first few weeks he’s in your home, you will not be happy with the results. Alternatively, if you weave training into your everyday life with your dog, thinking of each brief interaction as a teaching moment, you will be amazed by the outcome. Your dog will receive clear and consistent messages from you in all types of settings and situations. This will allow him to develop into a calm, confident dog who truly understands what is expected of him and which behaviors are appropriate to choose on his own.

It’s not uncommon for someone to ask me, “How long will it take before my dog is trained?” The truth is, there really isn’t an answer to this question because there should not be an “ed” on the end of the word train. As long as we are alive, learning is always happening and none of us is ever fully “trained.”

Instead of being disappointed by this and thinking that you will have to train your dog for the rest of his life, I encourage you to flip that narrative and become excited about the opportunity to share a mutual journey in learning alongside each other – a journey that builds a bond like no other.

Is your dog bored? How can you tell?

Bored dogs are usually pretty easy to spot. They mope around the house and don’t seem to want to get up. Other times they pace frantically, panting and even drooling. Sometimes you can find them by following the trail of shredded papers, pillows, and shoes they leave in their wake, they jump at you, bark at you, whine/cry, Basically a Bored Dog Acts Out/Up.

toy destroy

Boredom can lead to a variety of problems such as inappropriate urination, destructive behaviours such as scratching, aggression, depression, lethargy, over-vocalization/crying, increased or decreased appetite, and sleeping more.

Dogs have a much better time of it these days. No longer do they have to while away hours in the doghouse outside; they are more often kept indoors and treated like family members. But, although we may have changed our attitude toward our pets, we have changed our lifestyles, too, and we are now less available.

Frequently both parents work away from home and the kids are at school. So, although dogs no longer have to battle the elements outside, they do have to contend with being home alone during the day, sometimes all day, with little to occupy their time. From the owner’s point of view, the home may be ideal: plush rugs, elegant furniture, and chic décor, but dogs do not appreciate such environmental refinement and would by far prefer to be socializing with people or other dogs, or chasing a blowing leaf outside. Like children, dogs have an agenda that is subtly different from that of adult humans, and have likes and dislikes that can be diametrically opposed.

Some “Type-B” personality dogs may nap during their owners’ absence, arising lazily with a yawn and stretch upon their return. Other more compulsive “Type-A” dogs may suffer extreme boredom and stress during their owners’ absence. The telltale signs are easy to see: the garbage can contents may be strewn across the floor, cupboard doors opened, food stores raided, paper or pillows shredded, and so on. While there is a well-known syndrome of separation anxiety, the bored dog scenario is distinct from separation anxiety and represents the sometimes ingenious attempts of a dog that is “bored out of his mind” to find something time-filling to do.

In attempting to distinguish between a dog with separation anxiety and one that is just bored you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you acquire your dog from a shelter or pound?
  • Has he had multiple owners?
  • Did you get him when he was over three months of age?
  • Is he a “Velcro dog”? (Does he follow you around constantly?)
  • Does he appear anxious as you prepare to depart?
  • Does he whine or bark after you have left?
  • Does he urinate or defecate ONLY in your absence?
  • Does he destroy things ONLY in your absence?
  • Does he refuse to eat when you are away?
  • Does he greet you over-exuberantly when you return?

    A score of five or more “yes” answers is highly suggestive of separation anxiety. If any doubt exists as to the precise cause of the dog’s unrest or agitation when you are away, a video recording will serve as the tiebreaker. Dogs with separation anxiety are visibly anxious, pacing, panting, and whining or barking, whereas dogs that are bored simply wander around searching for something to do. Also, they may get up and down frequently and act in an unsettled, restless way as if experiencing a dilemma (which they probably are).

    The key to managing an otherwise bored dog is “Environmental Enrichment” (the big E’s). Below is a list of measures that owners can employ to reduce their dog’s tedium during long stints home alone.

  1. Get a dog for your dog. Although getting a dog for your dog rarely works to improve separation anxiety, this can help your bored dog – as long as the two dogs get along. However, introducing an overly dominant, oppressive dog may have exactly the opposite effect. If in doubt, ask an expert to help you select the right dog for your dog and lean toward a younger individual and one of even temperament.

    2. Hire a dog walker. Most dogs really appreciate the lunchtime visits of a dog walker who provides a much welcome respite in the middle of an otherwise long day of nothing to do.

    3. Doggy day care. One better than a dog walker is doggy day care. The problem here is that sometimes it is expensive and that cheaper facility looks and smells dirty or the Daycare staff seem to lack those doggie communication skills, etc; Check out the day care center thoroughly as you would child day care for young children.

    4. Crates. Providing a dog with a crate gives him a room of his own, a place in which to hang out and to get away from it all. If you don’t provide a crate, most dogs will improvise, finding solitude under a table or bed or behind a couch. I think it is rarely, if ever, appropriate to shut a dog in his crate all day while you are away but an open crate is another matter.

    5. Food puzzles/sustained release food. Most people have developed the habit of feeding their dog before they leave in the morning. The dog wolfs down his food and then has nothing to do all day. It may be more appropriate to feed the dog as you leave and/or to arrange for the food to be discovered by the dog after you have left.

    6. Radio/TV. Many people already leave a radio or television on for their dog when they leave. The “white noise effect” does seem to have a soothing effect and thus may have some redeeming features. Think of it this way; any lilting/melodic sound (not “heavy metal”) or even just background gibberish is probably better than the sound of silence or a clock ticking on the mantelpiece. Most animals seem to prefer seeing images of other animals or nature programs.

    7. Room with a view. Some of the best visual enrichment that a “home alone dog” can enjoy is the “real TV” experience of observing the world outside through a window with a panoramic view.

    8. Transitional object. Some people report that leaving out an article of their apparel comforts their dog. The dog can then snuggle up to the item in their absence and be reminded of better times.

    9. Rotation of toys. Well-meaning owners leave toys out for their dog to play with, in their absence. This is a valuable enrichment strategy but will not work well unless the toys are interesting and novel. Toys that move or are good to chew are apparently the most fun and the way to keep them riveting is to rotate them so that they don’t lose their appeal.

    10. “A brain tired dog is a good dog.” You could also say, a happy dog. Exercise generates serotonin in the brain and thus has a calming and mood-stabilizing effect on man and beast. A dog that has had a good run for 20 to 30 minutes before the owner departs will be less anxious, more composed, and prepared for a little R & R in the form of a good nap.

    11. Dog door/fenced in yard (except perhaps in the big city). Another idea, if you live in the suburbs and have a reasonable-sized fenced in yard, is to fit a dog door to allow your dog to come and go at will.

    There are many ways that we can try and make our dogs’ lives more interesting and engaging during our absence. Some dogs will fare quite well with the application of just a few of the measures listed above. Nevertheless, the wisdom of getting a highly social pet like a dog must be considered if you know in advance that you will be required to be apart from that pet for many hours each day. It is preferable to choose the right time in your life to acquire a dog and the right breed for your lifestyle – a time when you are in a position to spend sufficient quality time with your pet and not wind up a latchkey parent. For those of you for whom this advice is too late, take heart, adopt the some of the big E’s, and look out for your old pal.

The Dog Nanny website

 

Top 10 Tips To Reduce Your Dog’s Stress During Fireworks

Top 10 Tips To Reduce Your Dog’s Stress During Fireworks

 

The summer is an exciting time for humans. Besides the warm weather, we get an entire season packed full of holidays, celebrations, and festivals, typically ending our nights with a bang. There is just something magical about throwing your head back and watching color burst into the night sky like confetti. However, thinking like a dog, fireworks are terrifying. A dog’s survival instinct makes them naturally afraid of loud noises but fireworks are so much more than just noise to your pup. They come with no warning signs and are bright, erratic, and leave a burning smell in the air. It’s no wonder more dogs run away in the U.S. on the 4th of July than any other day of the year. They must think the world is exploding!

 

Now, not all dogs are scared of fireworks, but unless you 100% know otherwise, we recommend trying some of the following tips to make firework season less stressful for your dog.

Fireworks NO DDB

 

Make alternate arrangements for your dog, especially if you plan on going out or live close to a fireworks display. A couple options would be dropping your pup off at a friend or relative’s house, a dog daycare, a boarding facility, or even hiring a pet sitter to stay with them. That way if your dog does get scared, they are somewhere safe with supervision.

Create a safe spot in your home. If you are unable to bring your dog somewhere away from the fireworks, giving them a spot they feel safe in can help. Maybe your dog already has a safe spot, like a crate, kennel, or even under your bed. Make this spot is easily accessible for them during the main event so they can hide if they want to.

Remove the visual stimulation. There is no way to cover up the noise of fireworks, but you can still do your dog a favor by closing your windows, blinds, and curtains so they do not have to see the bright flashes of lights.

Reassure your dog. Speaking to your dog in a calm soothing voice while petting them will also help ease their anxiety. Getting mad or forcing your dog to “face their fears” will only make the experience harder for them.

Stay calm. Dogs are very in-tune with our emotions, body language, and tone of voice. If you make a big deal out of the fireworks by being scared or even just worried about your dog, they can pick up on this and will assume they have good reason to also be worried.

Consider anti-anxiety tools. Talk to your veterinarian or trainer about different ways to manage your dog’s anxiety during fireworks. There are many different options such as Thundershirts, calming pheromones, supplements, and medication that could help reduce your pup’s stress.

Be sure to feed and water your dog before the fireworks begin. If your dog is extra anxious about fireworks, they may not want to eat or drink once the noise begins. An empty stomach is one more stressor you can help your dog avoid. Also be sure to let them outside to go to the bathroom beforehand.

Tire your dog out. A tired dog is a calm dog, so be sure to get as much exercise in before the festivities begin. The goal is to have your dog as sleepy as possible when the fireworks begin. So a walk around the block may not cut it. Try going for a run or playing fetch at the park.

Give your dog something to do for the evening. A few minutes before the fireworks start, give your dog a special treat they can enjoy instead of paying attention to the loud noises. A Kong frozen with peanut butter, a bully stick, an antler, or any other type of long lasting chew, will be the perfect thing to help keep their mind occupied.

It is possible to train a dog not to mind fireworks, the same way a hunting dog doesn’t mind a gunshot. However, desensitizing your dog to noises does not happen overnight. The idea is to play your dog a quiet recording of fireworks paired with a tasty treat. Then slowly increasing the volume over months. Going too loud too fast can backfire making your dog more nervous of the sound. We highly recommend consulting a trainer to help with the process.

 

Make firework season enjoyable for everyone by taking a few minutes to think about it from your dog’s perspective. In the end, your pup will thank you for thinking of them and making sure they are safe and happy during the festivities.

Analyzing Dog Behaviour and Puppy Behaviour

As positive dog trainer and canine behaviour expert here I dispel some common and pervasive myths about dogs and their behaviour.

Hang with dog folks long enough and you’re sure to hear some pretty interesting theories about dog behaviour. Some are, of course, useful and accurate, but the dog training world is littered with myths, many of which are at least several generations old. Some of them are just silly; some have the potential for causing serious damage to the dog-human relationship; and still others are downright dangerous. It’s time to get past the myths.

When someone offers you an alleged nugget of canine wisdom, regardless of whom the someone is, you’re wise to run it through your own rigorous filters before accepting it as real wisdom or adopting it as the basis for a training technique. These should include:

  • A scientific filter. Does it make sense scientifically? If someone assures you that shock collar training is actually positive reinforcement training because the shock is no different than someone tapping you on the shoulder to get you to stop a behaviour, does that concur with your understanding of positive reinforcement? (That a dog’s behaviour makes a good thing happen, so the behaviour increases.) Don’t be fooled by the euphemisms “e-collar” and “tingle,” “tap,” or “stim” for the word “shock.”
  • A philosophical filter. Is it congruent with your own philosophies about dog training and relationships? Positive punishment (dog’s behaviour makes a bad thing happen; behaviour decreases) makes sense from a scientific standpoint. That doesn’t mean you want to – or have to – use it with your dog, and risk the damage it can do to your relationship. Trainers with a positive training philosophy generally try to avoid the use of positive punishment, or any methods that work through the use of fear, pain, aversive, and avoidance.
  • An “acid test” filter. It may seem sound scientifically, and it may feel okay philosophically, but does it work? If you’re comfortable trying it out and you don’t like the results, feel free to continue on and explore why it’s not working or simply toss it out. Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it has to work for you.

Now, keeping these filters in mind, let’s see how some of the most common and harmful myths about canine behaviour create a flawed foundation for training.

Myth #1: “Puppies should not go to puppy classes/the mall/friends’ houses until they have had all their vaccinations at 16 weeks/6 months of age.” (Fails all three tests.)

This one lands squarely at the top of the “dangerous myth” category. It’s generally perceived as credible by new puppy owners because it’s often offered by the pup’s veterinarian.

While it appears scientifically sound on its face (an unvaccinated puppy is at risk for contracting deadly diseases!), puppies who aren’t properly socialized are at a much greater risk for developing behaviour problems, including aggression, that are likely to shorten their lives.

The vet is right on one hand; the best way to ensure that your pup isn’t exposed to dog germs is to avoid other dogs. It’s certainly true that you want to prevent your pup’s exposure to unknown and/or possibly unhealthy dogs (and their waste). But it’s also critically important that your pup get lots of exposure to the rest of the world, including healthy puppies in a controlled environment, before the critical socialization period ends at 12 to 16 weeks. If he doesn’t, he’ll be at risk of developing serious, sometimes deadly, behaviour problems. (See “Shoot for Early Admission,” Whole Dog Journal September 2007, for more information on early education for puppies.)

In addition, during the period leading up to the age of four to six months, your pup has protection from his mother’s immunities, and should receive “puppy shots” to cover that period of time when his mother’s protection starts to decrease. Not only is it “okay” to take your pup places while exercising reasonable caution, you have an obligation to provide him with extensive socialization in order to maximize his chances of leading a long and happy life.

Myth #2: “Dogs pull on leash, jump up on people, (add your own) because they are dominant.” (Fails scientific and philosophical tests.)

Like the first myth discussed, this one can be dangerous, because those who believe this myth are likely to believe that they need to use forceful methods to assert their status over their “dominant” dogs.

No one disputes that dogs living in a group understand and respond to the concepts and dictates of a social hierarchy. The fact that canine social structures share elements with human social structures is probably one of the reasons that dogs make such wonderful companions for us. However, most experts in animal behaviour today believe that canine social hierarchies are much more based on deference than dominance, and that most canine behaviour that many misguided humans attribute to dominance . . . isn’t!

A dog’s goal in life is to make good stuff happen. Behaviours often labelled “dominant” because they are perceived as pushy and assertive – like pulling on leash and jumping up – simply persist because the dog has learned that the behaviours are reinforced; they make good stuff happen. Pulling on leash gets her where she wants to go. Jumping up gets attention. Behaviours that are reinforced continue, and even increase – but they have nothing to do with social status.

If you remove all reinforcement for the unwelcome behaviours (pulling makes us stop; jumping up makes attention go away) and reinforce more appropriate behaviours in their place, the dog will change her behaviour.

Myth #3: “Dogs can’t learn from positive reinforcement. You have to punish them so they know when they are wrong.” (Fails scientific and philosophical tests; fails acid test unless punisher is very skilled.)

This myth has good potential for causing serious harm to the canine-human relationship. Research confirms what positive trainers hold dear: that positive reinforcement training is more effective and has far fewer risks than positive reinforcement training combined with positive punishment.

One study, conducted by scientists at the University of Southampton in the UK and the University of Life Sciences in Norway, evaluated whether punishment was a contributor to behaviour problems, and examined the effects of reward, punishment, and rule structure (permissiveness/strictness and consistency) on training and behaviour problems. Information was collected via questionnaires from 217 dog guardians. Those who used strong and/or frequent punishment had a significantly higher level of training problems and lower obedience in their dogs. A similar study, conducted at Britain’s University of Bristol, also found that dogs trained only with positive reinforcement exhibited fewer problem behaviours.

For most humans, this makes sense. Do you learn better if someone acknowledges (and rewards) you when you do it right, or slaps you upside the head when you do it wrong? Even if you get rewarded for doing it right, if you also get slapped for doing it wrong, your fear of getting slapped will likely impede your learning and make you more reluctant to try things.

Of course, a good positive training program makes use of management to avoid giving the dog opportunities to be reinforced for unwanted behaviours, and will also make judicious use of negative punishment (dog’s behaviour makes a good thing go away) to let him know he made an unrewarding behaviour choice.

Myth #4: “If you use treats to train, you will always need them.” (Fails all three tests.)

This just isn’t true. A good positive training program will quickly “fade” the use of food as a constant reinforcer while moving to a schedule of intermittent reinforcement and expanding the repertoire of reinforcers to include things like toys, play, petting, praise, and the opportunity to perform some other highly reinforcing behaviour.

Treats can be a very high-value reinforcer and quite useful in training a wide variety of behaviours, so it’s plain silly to turn your back on them. Just be sure to fade food lures quickly in a training program, move to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement when your dog will perform a behaviour on cue 8 out of 10 times, and incorporate a variety of reinforcers so you’re never dependent on any one particular reward choice.

Myth #5: “A dog who urinates inside/destroys the house/barks when he is left alone does so because he is spiteful.” (Fails the scientific and philosophical tests.)

This myth definitely causes harm to the dog-human relationship. Dogs don’t do things out of spite, and to think so gives owners a negative perspective on their relationship with their canine family member. Dogs do things because they feel good, they work to make good stuff happen (or to make bad stuff go away), or because they are reacting to events that occur in their environment. While our dogs share much the same range of emotions as we humans, they don’t seem to indulge in all the same motives. Spite requires a certain amount of premeditation and cognitive thinking that science doesn’t support as being evident in the canine behaviour repertoire.

There are two rational explanations for the behaviours described in this myth. The first is that the dog isn’t fully housetrained and hasn’t yet learned house manners. In the absence of direct supervision, the dog urinates when he has a full bladder (an empty bladder feels good) and becomes destructive because playing with/chewing sofa cushions, shoes, ripping down curtains, tipping over the garbage, and barking are fun and rewarding activities.

The other explanation is that the dog suffers from some degree of isolation distress. These behaviours are often a manifestation of stress and the dog’s attempt to relieve his anxiety over being left alone. If your dog regularly urinates (or worse) in the house or destroys things when he is left alone, he may be suffering from a moderate degree of isolation distress, or more severe separation anxiety. This condition can worsen without appropriate management.

Myth #6: “If you feed a dog human food, he will learn to beg at the table.” (Fails all three tests.)

This is silly! One dog owner’s “begging” is another’s “attention” behaviour, eagerly sought-after and highly valued. Behaviours that are reinforced continue and/or increase. If you fed your dog his own dog food from the table, he would learn to beg at the table. It has nothing to do with what type of food he’s being fed! If you don’t want your dog to beg at the table, don’t feed your dog from the table.

Myth #7: “He knows he was bad/did wrong because he looks guilty.” (Fails all three tests.)

This myth is damaging to the relationship, as it leads owners to hold dogs to a moral standard that they aren’t capable of possessing. When a dog looks “guilty,” he is most likely responding to a human’s tense or angry body language with appeasement behaviours. He’s probably thinking something like, “I don’t know why, but my human looks upset. I’d better offer some appeasement behaviours so her anger isn’t directed at me!” Even when the “guilty” expression is a direct and immediate result of your dog’s behaviour because your punishment was timely – “Hey! Get out of the garbage!” –your dog’s turned head, lowered body posture, averted eyes – are simply an acknowledgement of your anger and his attempt to reconcile with you.

A trainer friend of mine once did an experiment to convince a client that her dearly held “guilty look” belief was a myth. He had the client hold her dog in the living room while he went into the kitchen and dumped the garbage can on the floor, strewing its contents nicely around the room. Then he had the client bring the dog into the kitchen. Sure enough, the dog “acted guilty” even though he had nothing to do with the garbage on the floor. He just knew from past experience that “garbage on floor” turned his owner into an angry human, and he was already offering appeasement behaviour in anticipation of her anger, and to divert her ire from his dog-self.

Finally, most owners who have punished a dog for something that was done in their absence can attest to the fact that the punishment generally does not prevent the dog from repeating the behaviour another time. What does work is simple management. Put the garbage somewhere that the dog can’t get to it; under a sink with a safety latch on it, for example. Keep counters clear of anything edible. Leave the dog in a part of the house that is comfortable but not easily destroyed. Hire a dog walker to come by in the middle of your dog’s longest days home alone to let him out, give him some stress-relieving exercise, and leave him with a food-filled chew toy. These actions will result in an intact home – and a dog who is not afraid to greet you when you return.

Myth #8: The prong collar works by mimicking a mother dog’s teeth and her corrections. (Fails the scientific and philosophical tests.)

It’s a little discouraging to think that people actually believe this myth. It would be silly if it weren’t so potentially damaging to the relationship and potentially dangerous as well.

Prong collars work because the prongs pressing into the dog’s neck are uncomfortable at best, painful at worst. Because dogs will work to avoid pain and discomfort, the prong collar does work to stop a dog from pulling on the leash, and can shut down other undesirable behaviours as well, at least temporarily. However, like all training tools and techniques that are based on pain and intimidation, there is a significant risk of unintended consequences.

In the case of the prong collar, the primary risk is that the dog will associate the pain with something in his environment at the time he feels it, and this can lead to aggression toward the mistakenly identified cause. A dog’s unmannerly, “I want to greet you” lunge toward another dog or person can turn into, “I want to eat you,” if he decides that the object of his attention is hurting him.

If you have used or are considering the use of a prong collar to control your dog, please consult with a qualified positive behaviour consultant to learn about more effective and less potentially harmful methods.

Myth #9: “Aggressive/hand-shy/fearful dogs must have been abused at some point in their lives.” (Fails the scientific test.)

This is a very widespread myth; I hear it so often it makes my brain hurt. Fortunately, while the behaviours described in this myth are problematic, the myth itself may be the most benign of our top 10.

There are many reasons a dog may be aggressive, hand-shy, or fearful. Lack of proper socialization tops the list, especially for fearfulness. If a pup doesn’t get a wide variety of positive social exposures and experiences during the first 12 to 14 weeks of his life, he’s likely to be neophobic – afraid of new things – for the rest of his life (see Myth #1). This neophobia manifests as fear, and for some dogs, as fear-related aggression.

Widely accepted categories of aggression include:

  • Defensive (fear-related) aggression
    • Possession aggression (resource-guarding)
    • Maternal aggression
    • Territorial aggression
    • Status-related aggression
    • Pain-related aggression
    • Protection aggression
    • Predatory aggression
    • Play aggression
    • Idiopathic (we don’t know what causes it) aggression

Note that there’s no category for “abuse-related” aggression. Abuse can be one of several causes of fear-related/defensive aggression, but is much less common than the fear-related aggression that results from under socialization.

Regardless of the cause of a dog’s fearful or aggressive behaviour, a myth-corollary to our Myth #9 is that love alone will be enough to “fix” the problem. While love is a vital ingredient for the most successful dog-human relationships, it takes far more than that to help a fearful dog become confident, or an aggressive one become friendly.

The Dog nanny website