Reel It In – Why I don’t like Retractable Leashes

There’s an old joke about if there’s one thing that two dog trainers can agree on, it’s that the third one is doing it wrong. But if you know me at all, you know I hate online squabbles; I don’t participate in digital fights about training methods or tools.

That said, I think I’ve found something that very nearly ALL dog trainers agree on, and that I will defend anywhere, anytime, and it’s this: Retractable leashes have no place in dog training.

It almost reaches the level of a joke: If you go to a dog park or almost any gathering of dog people and their dogs, the worst-behaved dogs will be the ones on retractable leashes. It’s sort of a chicken or the egg thing: What came first, the poorly behaved dog or the leash that teaches him nothing?

I get how convenient it is to be able to walk along with your dog on leash and have your dog stop for a moment to smell something or take a quick pee, and you only have to slow your pace for a moment, rather than stop dead. When he’s through or he hits the end of the retractable line, he can trot to catch up, and you don’t have to scoop up all that line the way you would with a long leash, you can just allow the spring-loaded retractable thingie to wind it up.

However, what do you do when your dog is at or near the end of the line and:

  • You are suddenly confronted by a loose dog, looking a little aggressive, coming your way, fast.
  • Someone walks quickly out of a storefront, in between you and your dog.
  • Your dog suddenly sees a squirrel on the ground across the street and bolts into the street in an effort to reach the squirrel.

The biggest problem is with these and countless other situations, when your dog is more than a couple of feet from you, there is nothing you can do very quickly to get him back to your side. The products can retract only when there is not tension on the line. As you know if you’ve ever used one, you really cannot grab the part of the cord that retracts into the handle and pull even a smallish strong dog back toward you. About the only way you could pull a dog to safety would be to mash the lock button down, while quickly turning in the opposite direction and trying to call or drag your dog in the other direction – depending on whether you’ve trained him to do emergency U-turns or whether he’s engaged already with the other dog or still on the hunt for the squirrel.

And to retract the slack when there is a chaotic situation brewing, like when that loose dog – or even one on leash! – is squaring off with your dog, and they are spinning around? Lock to prevent the dog from getting farther away, release to retract, lock, release, lock, release . . . it’s darned hard to do in calm circumstances.

When I want a dog to explore his environment without taking him off leash, I use a long line – a 20 or even 30-foot leash. I only use a tool like this in an environment where there are NO other people or dogs who might get tangled up with us, and the line is as smooth and easy to handle as my leash; I can easily grab anywhere on the line and manually reel in the dog if I have to.

And what about the many cases in which someone accidentally dropped the handle, which started dragging on the ground and clattering loudly behind the dog, and spooked him into running in a blind panic into traffic? A dog who takes off dragging a regular leash stands a good chance of being caught by someone who manages to step on or grab the leash. But the retractable leash is likely to retract after being dragged a way, so that it’s short and very difficult to grab.

We don’t even have to discuss emergency situations to get most trainers to chime in about how useless these tools are. They more or less train dogs to pull against pressure, by rewarding/reinforcing the dog when he pulls against the product’s spring (there is always some tension, even when the operator isn’t pressing the lock button) in order to reach something he wants to investigate. Getting to sniff something he was curious about is a reward – and behaviors that are rewarded get repeated. Simple as that.

Yes, a person can lock the handle and prevent the dog from pulling the line out of the device, preventing him from getting this reward. But then, you may as well just have a fixed-length leash.

As a final point against them, all I can say is, when this blog gets posted to the The Dog nanny Canine Training Academy Facebook page, go ahead and post your photos of the deep, slashing cuts that you or someone you know has received when a retractable cord got wound around their leg when a dog was going nuts. That should give a little credence to the warnings against these products.

Can anyone honestly make a case for the responsible use of retractable leashes?

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What to do – Dog Fights

DOG FIGHTS

UNPROVOKED ATTACKS ARE ACTUALLY EXTREMELY rare but very dangerous.

When they occur, there is usually a considerable size difference between the two dogs—the attacker is large and the victim small—and the attack is usually eerily silent, rapid, and often predatory.

Often both the attacker and the victim are un-socialized. Sometimes the attacker picks up and carries and shakes the victim. This is a dire emergency: scream blue murder! Create as much noise as possible to convince other people to shout and help chase down the dog and get him to release the victim. I once chased down a neighbour’s Golden Retriever to rescue a Yorkshire Terrier. Sadly, the Yorkie died a few days later.

Dog fights, on the other hand are extremely common but rarely dangerous.

Dog fights occur between all dogs but most usually between male dogs less than two years of age.

Most people assume one dog is a dominant bully and the other an innocent victim but more usually both dogs are under-socialized and lack confidence and social savvy.

Frequently, the two dogs will eyeball each other and the tension will progressively escalate as each dog is incited by the others reactivity. The resulting dogfight is often noisy and protracted; however, a few of these altercations necessitate a trip to the veterinary clinic.

The dogs are reactive but not dangerous because, during puppyhood, they both developed bite inhibition and learned to settle differences via Marquis of Dogsberry Fighting Rules: only biting the other dog from the neck forwards (scuff and soft part of neck, muzzle, head, and ears) and never puncturing the skin. Learning bite inhibition and socially acceptable stereotypical fighting patterns are the most important reasons for dogs to attend off-leash puppy and adolescent classes.

The best, safest, and most effective way to break up a dog fight is by pushing a “pig board” (a 36” x 30” piece of plywood with a handle in the top) between the two dogs. Maybe this should be standard equipment for all dog parks, boarding, and day care facilities. Certainly do not try to separate the dogs with your hands or feet. Even though dogs may have good bite inhibition towards each other, they may or may not have developed sufficient bite inhibition toward people depending on the degree of puppyhood play with humans.

Standard dog park procedure is for as many people as possible to quickly approach and circle the dogs (to prevent other dogs joining in the fray) while shouting, “Sit! Sit! Sit!” and then praising the dogs as soon as they stop fighting.

Breaking up dogfights is never without potential danger to people so the best strategy is to never let your dog get into a fight.

Prevent the desire to fight by thoroughly socializing your dog during puppyhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

Routinely condition your dog to enjoy the proximity of other dogs.

Never let your dog eyeball, lunge towards, or vocalize at other dogs.

Simply ask your dog to sit and shush and look at you. Three basic obedience commands—Sit, Shush, and Watch Me—will go a long way to prevent your dog from getting into trouble.

If your dog sits and shushes, he cannot bark and lunge, and if he looks at you he cannot eyeball and amp up the other dog.

But more importantly, if your dog sits and looks at you, he presents the aura of a calm and confident dog, one that has a much more important mission (paying attention to you) than being concerned with the growly silliness of other dogs. Basically, you are training your dog to emulate the behavior of a true Top Dog.

Remember, calm and confident dogs are seldom picked on, but under-socialized insecure dogs are attack/bait.

 

What to do when family dogs don’t get on

The challenge of defusing intra-pack aggression.

Knowledgeable dog people are quite aware that not all dogs get along with each other, despite the fact that canis lupus familiaris (domestic dog) is a social species. Hey, we humans are a social species, and we certainly don’t all get along! Dog-dog aggression is unhappily common in our world. As a professional behavior consultant who works with aggression cases, I probably see more than my fair share of it. By far the most difficult and most distressing presentations of dog-dog aggression are intra-pack aggression cases: dogs in the same family who aren’t getting along with each other.

SAM_1476Cersei & Cadbury

This is the picture that most of us have in our heads when we choose to adopt multiple dogs: a big, happy pack of dogs who get along. When, instead, we get one who doesn’t like another, it can disrupt the entire family and cause heartbreak.

I’ve had a spate of these clients in recent weeks. Even our own Cersei & Cadbury (Dogue De Bordeaux) who don’t always get along seamlessly, seem to have experienced an increase in relationship tensions this winter. I can’t give you a tidy explanation as to why, but I’m beginning to put more stock in the explanation jokingly offered by my colleague, when she called it “snow aggression.”

Stress happens
We do know that aggression is caused by stress. With the very rare exception of idiopathic aggression – at one time called “rage syndrome,” “Cocker rage,” or “Springer rage” and grossly over diagnosed in the 1960s and ’70s – aggression is the result of a stress load that pushes a dog over his bite threshold.

You can compare it to incidents of “road rage” in humans. When you read about the man who pulls out his .38 revolver because someone cut him off on the freeway and blows away the unfortunate offending driver, you can bet there was more going on for him than just a simple traffic violation. This is the guy who was likely laid off his job, lost his retirement investments, had his wife tell him this morning that she was leaving him, and just got notice in the mail that the bank is foreclosing on his home. Getting cut off on the freeway is simply the last straw – the final stressor that pushes him over his “bite threshold.”

So it is for dogs. When tensions increase betweenCersei & cadbury, I need to look for possible added stressors in their environment that are pushing them closer to, and yes, sometimes over, their bite threshold. From that perspective, “snow aggression” is a real possibility: the resulting decrease in exercise opportunities as well as higher stress levels of human family members who aren’t fond of snow (guilty!) can be stressors for the canine family members.

To resolve aggression issues between your own dogs, you’ll want to identify not only the immediate trigger for the aggression – fighting over a meaty bone, for example – but also everything in your dog’s life that may be stressful to him. The more stressors you can remove from his world, the less likely it is that he will use his teeth – the canine equivalent of pulling out a .38 revolver.

Triggers
It’s often relatively easy to identify the immediate trigger for your dogs’ mutual aggression. It’s usually whatever happened just before the appearance of the hard stare, posturing, growls, and sometimes the actual fight.

Tension over resources is a common trigger. Dog #1 is lying on his bed, happily chewing his deer antler, when Dog #2 approaches. Dog #1 tenses, signaling to #2 Dog, “This is mine and I’m not sharing.”

In the best of worlds, #2 defers by looking away, saying in canine speak, “Oh, no worries, I was just passing through.” When things go wrong, however, a fight breaks out. Dog #2’s approach was the trigger for #1, even if #2 had no interest in the chew item. Perhaps Dog #2 failed to notice or failed to heed #1’s warning. Remember that resources include more than just food; a guardable resource can also be a high-value human, a coveted spot on the sofa, or access to a doorway. The stressor in these cases is obvious: the dog is anxious over the possibility of losing or having to share his treasured possession.

Other triggers may be less obvious. If a dog is in pain, but not showing it, the mere proximity of a pack mate who has inadvertently bumped her in the past could be a trigger. Dogs can be notoriously stoic about pain, especially slowly developing arthritis, or unilateral pain (where you may not see a limp). The undiagnosed arthritic dog may become defensively aggressive in anticipation of being hurt by a livelier canine pal, trying to forestall painful contact in what looks to the owner like “unprovoked” aggression.

“Status-related aggression” can result when neither of two dogs in the same family is willing to defer to the other. Note that this type of aggression is more about deference (or lack thereof) than it is about dominance. A truly high-ranking member of the social group, like our Tarkas (Douge De Bordeaux), doesn’t engage in scuffles – he doesn’t have to!

When you have identified your dogs’ triggers, you can manage their environment to reduce trigger incidents and minimize outright conflict. This is critically important to a successful modification program. The more often the dogs fight, the more tension there is between them; the more practiced they become at the undesirable behaviors, the better they get at fighting and the harder it will be to make it go away. And this is to say nothing of the increased likelihood that sooner or later someone – dog or human – will be badly injured.

Stressors
Stressors, in contrast, can happen anytime and be anywhere. Remember that it’s the sum total of a dog’s stressors that push him over his bite threshold, so the more of these you can identify and get rid of, the more you’ll ease tensions between your canine family members.

When I sit down with a client for an aggression consult we create a list of all the stressors we can think of for the dog or dogs in question. Then we discuss possible strategies, assigning one or more strategies to each of the listed stressors. These strategies are:

– Change the dog’s opinion of the stressor through the use of counter-conditioning and desensitization.

– Teach the dog a new behavioral response using operant conditioning.

– Manage the dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor.

– Get rid of the stressor.

– Live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors). Next, I help the client make a management plan that will go into place immediately, to help defuse the tension until she is able to start work on behavior modification. Then we create action plans for two or three of the stressors on the list, starting with the one the client is most concerned about – in this case, the dog-dog aggression.

First option: Aggression modification
My first choice with most clients is the first strategy listed above: changing the dogs’ opinion of each other through counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC&D).

CC&D for intra-pack aggression involves changing your dogs’ association with each other from negative to positive. The easiest way to give most dogs a positive association is with very high-value, really yummy treats. I like to use chicken – canned, baked, or boiled, since most dogs love chicken and it’s a low-fat, low-calorie food.

Here’s how the CC&D process works:

  1. Determine the distance at which your dogs can be in each other’s presence and be alert or wary but not extremely fearful or aroused. This is called the threshold distance. If one dog has a greater threshold hold distance than the other (often the case), work at the greater distance.
  2. With you holding Dog A on leash, have your helper appear with Dog B at threshold distance “X.” The instant your dog sees the other, start feeding bits of chicken, non-stop. Your helper will feed chicken to her dog, too, the instant he notices your dog.
  3. After several seconds, have the helper step out of sight with Dog B, and you both stop feeding chicken.
  4. Keep repeating steps 1-3 until the sight of the other dog at distance “X” consistently causes both dogs to look at their handlers with a happy smile and a “Yay! Where’s my chicken?” expression. This is the physical presentation of the dogs’ conditioned emotional response (CER); each dog’s association with the other at threshold distance “X” is now positive, so they can deliberately look at you to get their chicken, rather than staying intensely focused on each other.
  5. Now you need to increase the intensity of the stimulus by increasing the length of time Dog B stays in sight. Continue to feed chicken when they are in view of each, occasionally pausing to let them look at each other again, and immediately feeding chicken when they do.
  6. When length of time seems to make no difference to either dog – you’re getting a consistent “Yay, where’s my chicken?” response regardless of how long Dog B stays in view, increase the intensity again, this time by increasing Dog B’s movement. Have the handler walk back and forth with her dog, still at distance “X,” slowly at first, then with more energy, even adding in some other behaviors such as sit, down, and roll over.
  7. Now you’re ready to starting decreasing distance by moving Dog A a little closer to the location where the Dog B will appear. When you obtain consistent CERs from both dogs at each new distance you can decrease the distance a little more, until both dogs are happy to be very near each other.
  8. Then return to your original threshold distance and increase intensity stimulus by having Dog B move around more and more, as you gradually decrease distance and obtain CERs from both dogs along the way, until they are delighted to be near each other.
  9. Now go back to your starting distance and increase intensity again, by having both dogs move more naturally as the distance decreases, offering CERs at each new distance before you come any closer, until they can be within six feet of each other, moving around, still relaxed and happy about chicken.
  10. Finally, find ways for your dogs to engage separately in mutually enjoyable activities together. If they both enjoy car rides, take them for a drive, but be sure they are seat-belted or crated far enough apart to avoid any tension. If they love hiking, take them on “parallel” walks, one with you, one with your training partner, with humans between them at first, and eventually with dogs between humans when you’re sure their emotions are appropriate. Parallel swims, for dogs who love the water, can work well too.

When you feel the dogs are ready to finally interact with each other again, be careful not to undo all your hard work. You might first let them greet through a barrier, such as a baby gate or exercise pen.

Chronic stress and unrelenting tension  reduce the quality of life for your whole family; sometimes rehoming is kinder.

It’s useful to desensitize both dogs to a muzzle over the period you’re desensitizing them to each other (in separate sessions), so the first time you’re ready for them to actually interact together you can muzzle them and be confident they can’t hurt each other. (For instructions on how to desensitize your dog to wearing a muzzle, go to abrionline.org/videos.php and click on “Jean Donaldson, Conditioning an Emotional Response.”)

The more intense the relationship between the two dogs, the more challenging it is to modify their behavior. The more negative interactions they’ve had, the more injuries, the longer the tension has been going on, and the stronger their emotions, the longer it will take to reprogram their responses to each other. If they were good friends at one time, it’s likely to be easier than if they’ve always been aggressive with each other.

Remember to seek the help of a qualified positive behavior professional if you don’t feel competent and confident about working with your dogs on your own.

Second option: Operant strategies
The second option is to teach your dogs a new operant behavior in response to each other, using the “Constructional Aggression Treatment” (CAT) procedure developed by Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz and Kellie Snider at the University of North Texas. In daily life, dogs learn to offer aggressive “distance increasing” signals in order to make other dogs go away. Every time this works, the “go away” behavior is reinforced. The CAT procedure teaches the dog that calm behavior can make the other dog go away, and as a result, the aggressive dog can ultimately become friendly and happy about the other dog’s presence.

A variation on the operant approach is the “Behavioral Adjustment Training” procedure (BAT) created by trainer Grisha Stewart, MA, CPDT-KA, CPT, at Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle, Washington. BAT is similar to CAT, but uses a variety of environmental reinforcers rather than the location and movement of the other dog exclusively.

As in CAT, the BAT procedure reinforces behaviors other than aggression in the presence of the other dog. In this case, however, your repertoire of reinforcers is larger, including the use of food reinforcers and having the “subject” dog (the aggressive one) move away instead of the other dog. (For more information about BAT, see ahimsadogtraining.com/blog/bat.)

If one or both of the dogs are ready to do battle on sight, they must be strictly managed and kept separate from each other except when you’re doing your controlled modification procedure with them. If the aggression is more predictable and situational, the dogs can be together as long as you can manage and prevent the trigger(s) from causing conflict.

Third option: Management
What does it mean to “manage your dogs’ environment to minimize exposure to his stressors”? Simply put, it means making changes to your dog’s environment in order to keep your dogs away from the stimuli that stress them.

If the dogs are stressed by each other, of course, the first task is to keep them separated, through the assiduous use of doors, fences, baby gates, crates, and tethers. Smart positioning can help; locate the dogs’ crates or tethering area out of the other dogs’ sightline. Take them outdoors to potty separately, and separate them well before feeding time, to reduce tensions that arise when everyone is jostling to be fed first.

Next, try to minimize your dogs’ exposure to other stressful stimuli. For example: Say one of your dogs goes over threshold when she sees the mailman approaching your house through the living room window, and her barking display of aggression seems to agitate your other dog. Installing shutters on the window might work (to block your dogs’ view), but closing the door to the front room (to keep the dogs as far away from the sight and sound of the mailman) would be even better. Or you could move your mailbox to toward the sidewalk, instead of next to the front door – the farther from the house, the better. Be creative!

More management tools: Stress-reducing strategies
There are a host of other things you can do to lower general stress in your dogs’ environment.

Exercise can be immensely helpful in minimizing overall tension. Physical activity uses up excess energy that might otherwise feed your dogs’ aggressive behaviors, (a tired dog is a well-behaved dog). Exercise also causes your dog’s body to release various chemicals, including endorphins and norepinephrine, helping to generate a feeling of well-being; an exercised dog is a happy dog! Happy dogs are simply less likely to fight.

Even the food you feed your dog can have an impact on his behavior. Poor quality protein can interfere with a dog’s ability to make use of the serotonin that occurs naturally in his system. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep, and also affects memory and learning. Foods containing high-quality protein can contribute to your dogs’ behavioral health and physical health.

Basic training enables you and your dog to communicate more easily with each other (which is less stressful for both of you), and helps your dog understand how his world works, which reduces his stress. A good training program emphasizes structure and consistency, both of which make a dog’s world more predictable. Predictability equals less stress; unpredictably is stressful.

If you’ve ever had a massage, you know how calming touch can be. Dogs aren’t that different from us; you can calm and soothe your dog with physical touch, both through canine massage and TTouch. Combine your calming touch sessions with aromatherapy, by using a therapeutic-quality lavender essential oil in an electric nebulizing diffuser in the room while you massage your dog. Then you can build your dog’s “ahhh” association with the lavender scent to help him be calm in more stressful environments, by putting a few drops of essential oil on a bandana that you tie around his neck or on the bedding in his crate.

Other environmental stress reducers include: ¡ö Comfort Zone™ (also known as Dog Appeasing Pheromone, or DAP). This is a synthetic substance that is supposed to mimic the pheromones emitted by a mother dog when she’s nursing puppies. Available through pet supply stores and catalogs.

– Through a Dog’s Ear. This set of audio CDs consists of bio-acoustically engineered soothing classical piano music, which has been shown to reduce dogs’ heart rates. Available from throughadogsear.com or (800) 788-0949.

– Anxiety Wrap.™ /Thunder Vest. These products helps dogs (and cats) overcome their fears and anxieties using the gentle technique of “maintained pressure” – similar to the effect of swaddling for a human infant.

Options four and five
Sometimes you’re lucky: it’s easy to either get rid of your dogs’ stressors or just live with them. Stressors you could get rid of easily include choke, prong, or shock collars (even those used for electronic containment systems); physical or harsh verbal corrections (punishment), and treatable medical conditions. Without these present in their environment, the dogs’ stress level will decrease.

We all have some stress in our lives, and it’s pretty near impossible to get rid of all of it. Just because you’ve identified a stressor for your dog doesn’t mean you have to make it go away. You probably don’t have enough time in your schedule to address every single thing on your list. As you look at your dogs’ list of stressors, the ones they can probably live with are those that don’t happen frequently, that cause only a mild stress response, and don’t appear to escalate over time. You can also refrain from eliminating your dog’s “fun” stressors, such as squirrel-chasing sessions. If you make your way through the rest of your list and still have time on your hands, you can always address the “live with it” items later.

If all else fails
Intra-pack aggression can feel overwhelming. In fact, it can be dangerous, if fights erupt regularly and you try to intervene. Many an owner has been bitten trying to break up fights between her own dogs. The stress that the constant tension generates can damage the quality of your own life, as well as your dogs’ lives.

When a situation feels beyond your ability to cope, your first best option is to find a qualified positive behavior consultant in your area who can help you implement appropriate management and modification procedures, to keep everyone safe and to start making change happen in your dogs’ mutual relationships.

A consultation with a veterinarian who is well-educated in behavior, or even a veterinary behaviorist, should also be on your list, not only for that all-important medical workup, but also for the consideration of psychotropic behavior modification drugs, if and when appropriate, to help your dog’s brain be more receptive to your modification efforts.

If you feel you’re done your best and peace isn’t in the cards for your pack, it’s okay to admit that some dogs will never get along, and you have had the misfortune to adopt two who don’t. If that’s the case, your options are:

– A lifetime (not just a temporary measure) of scrupulous management

– Rehoming one of the dogs

– Euthanasia

Some trainers say, “Management always fails.” In truth, management does have a high risk of failure, perhaps with potentially dire consequences. The risk is even higher if there are children in the home – not only because they’re more likely to forget to close doors and latch gates, but also because they are at greater risk of injury themselves if they are in the vicinity when a fight happens. Still, I know of several dog owners who have successfully implemented lifetime management protocols for dogs who didn’t get along, and felt that their own quality of life, as well as that of their dogs, was above reproach.

Rehoming can be a reasonable option, especially if the dog being considered for placement has no other significant inappropriate behaviors, and if he can be rehomed to an “only dog” home, or one with dogs he’s known to get along well with. Of course, it can be challenging to find an experienced, appropriate home for a dog with a known aggression behavior problem, but it may be possible, particularly if he’s otherwise wonderful.

No one wants to think of euthanizing an otherwise healthy member of their canine family. Still, if you’ve done all you can reasonably do given the limits of your abilities and resources, and you’ve not been able to create a safe environment for your family and one of the dogs can’t be rehomed, then euthanasia is not an inappropriate decision. It will be terribly painful for you, and you may always feel guilt and regret about not finding the solution to the problem, although perhaps not as much guilt and regret as you would if one of your dogs badly injured or killed the other, or worse, a person.

 

Dog Walking Apps: Are They Safe?

Sharing article by By Sassafras Lowrey

Dog walker apps are trendy and easy to use, but are they dangerous? Get tips on safety and how to navigate interviewing a potential dog walking company and individual dog walkers.

Increasingly, companies like Wag!Rover and others have developed apps that make it possible for dog owners to be connected to dog walkers and schedule walks directly from their phone. These apps (commonly referred to as “Uber for dog walkers”) are easy and convenient for dog parents, but are they good for dogs? How can dog owners be sure about the quality of care their dogs are receiving in their absence?

I first became familiar with these apps through their lost dog signs and postings, which I see frequently in Brooklyn, New York.  In a one month period this year, Wag! walkers lost three dogs, and there have been others lost since. In my old neighborhood, a walker from the app lost a skittish rescue dog by dropping the leash; the dog was lost for over a week and was eventually hit by a car and died.

I have three dogs ranging in size from 10 pounds to 100 pounds, and the middle dog is a spooky and reactive former street dog. I am extremely picky about who gets access to my dogs and the dog professionals who I hire to care for them – with good reason. A traumatic experience with a bad dog walker could potentially undo years of behavioral training and confidence building.

dog walker in new york city

Are Dog Walking Apps Safe?

The way that dog walking apps work is that the company hires walkers, and then matches that walker with you/your dog, meaning that the walker showing up to give your dog a mid-day walk is likely someone your dog has never met before. “When you use a dog walking app service, you are inviting a stranger into your home who you have not vetted. You are handing your four-legged family member, with all his or her unique quirks, to a well-intentioned dog lover who most likely does not have the requisite education and training to keep your dog safe by understanding body language, recognizing early warning signs, knowing how to avoid incident, and what to do should something go wrong. This puts your dog at greater risk, and also your own liability,” explains Veronica Boutelle of Dog Biz Dog Walking Academy, which trains and supports positive reinforcement-based dog professionals in running ethical dog care businesses. She strongly discourages the use of dog walking companies that utilize this practice of hiring unprofessional dog walkers.

Should You Avoid Hiring Dog Care From an App?

Ultimately the choice is yours for who you hire to watch your dog. Megan Stanley, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, owner of Dogma Training & Pet Services, Inc., and chair for the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, encourages dog parents to avoid them.

I do not recommend this at all, especially where they have not met the dog. There is not time for an adequate introduction to ensure that your dog is comfortable with this person or the time to ensure the person handles and interacts with your dog appropriately. Just as you would never hire someone to be in your house without knowing them or even dream of doing this for someone who would work with your children, you should not do this for your dog. Many of these companies say they have a strict screening process, but these are still lacking. There is very minimal training, if any at all, and most just do a basic background check which does not ensure they will handle your dog safely. The risks to your dog are too high,” Stanley says.

Pack Walks: Avoid These Above All

Many apps and other dog walking companies, especially in large cities, utilize “pack walks”, where multiple dogs from different homes are walked together. “It may look impressive to see a dog walker with 10, 15, or 20 dogs. But the reality is that such practices are unsafe for you and your dog, and most likely stressful for your dog as well. Responsible professional dog walkers keep groups small to ensure individual attention and safety for all dogs in their care,” explains Veronica Boutelle.

tel aviv dog walker

How To Properly Screen Dog Walkers

Unfortunately, dog walking is an unregulated profession and is seen by some dog owners and would-be walkers as “unskilled labor”, when in fact walking someone’s dog(s) well and safely requires a lot of training and experience working with dogs that must extend beyond simply liking dogs, or having grown up with dogs. These are “qualifications” I’ve heard acquaintances give when saying that they were thinking of being dog walkers because it is an easy way to make money on the side.

Working with dogs is not easy work – it requires training and experience with dogs of varieties of sizes and temperaments. Things can go wrong on a walk in an instant for any number of reasons: your dog is approached by an off-leash dog, your dog is triggered by environmental factors, your dog is child-reactive, etc.

Stanley suggests, “It is important that you ask any dog care professional about their qualifications and experience. They should have formal training. Many people work with dogs with no experience and just consider themselves dog lovers. This is not adequate, especially for dog walkers, as they need to understand canine communication and basic training. These are critical to keep a dog safe and ensure they are not doing anything that would cause the dog’s behavior to worsen.”

First and foremost, if you need to hire a dog walker, keep in mind that the dog walker you hire will be responsible for the care of your dog out in the world when you aren’t there to monitor them.

Boutelle brings up the important reminder that, “The law holds all of us accountable for the actions of our dogs, even when we’re not present— just as the law holds us all accountable for the actions of our underaged children. In other words, you take on a liability risk sending your dog out into the world with a dog walker. Mitigating that risk is as simple as hiring a professional dog walker, one who has taken the initiative to seek out a high level of education and training about dog behavior, training, and management. One who does this as their dedicated professional career. One who forms long-term and accountable relationships to a small group of clients and their dogs.”

Interview Questions for Dog Walkers

Megan Stanley suggests the following questions are good to ask a potential walker or dog walking company you are considering to care for your dog:

– What training tools do you use for walking? Leashes, etc?
– How do you teach a dog to walk on a loose leash?
– How do reward good behavior?
– How do you respond to any inappropriate behavior from the dog?
– Are you bonded and insured?
– Do you perform background checks on all your dog walkers?
– Do you have a plan for emergencies?
– How do you communicate with us?
– Where will you walk my dog?
– How many dogs do you walk at once?
– How do you assess/introduce the dogs?
– What if a dog is unfriendly with other dogs or people?
– Will my dog be on or off-leash?
– What are the pick-up/drop-off procedures?
– Do you offer trial walks?
– Will anyone else walk my dog except the originally assigned walker?

Find more questions to ask and factors to consider right here.

Are There Any Safe Dog Walking Options?

Needing a walker is a fact of life for many working professionals with dogs. It is too unreasonable to expect our dogs to sit alone in the house all day, with no potty or social breaks. If your situation requires hired pet care, the most important thing you can do is put in the time to find a trained, professional walker that you and your dogs can build an ongoing trust and relationship with.

As Boutelle explains, “On the positive side, the emergence of these apps demonstrates the growth in demand for dog walkers. As more and more dogs are considered central members of their families, more dog lovers are seeking to provide a higher daily quality of life for their dogs, including physical exercise, mental stimulation, and companionship. That’s a wonderful thing to see. The next step is to provide dedicated dog lovers with the knowledge they need to make the best, most informed and safest choices about their dogs’ care providers, including their dog walkers.”

The Dog Nanny Website

Here’s How to Treat It A Dog Stung By A Bee

As Summer is here, I thought this a good article to share.

Dogs stung by bees can be hurt or even killed – bees, wasps, hornets, and fire ants may all cause allergic reactions. Learn what you should do if your dog gets stung or bitten by these flying insects.

Spring is springing forth all over the country. Flowers, grasses, and trees are blooming, and the pollinators are out in force. This is great news for plants, and less great news for our canine friends. Dogs are more prone to being stung by insects than we are, given that they aren’t always aware that some of the buzzing, flying insects they love to chase can hurt!

The most likely sting suspects are the Hymenopteraspecies, which include bees, wasps, hornets, and fire ants. As an emergency veterinarian, I often treated dogs who suffered bee and wasp stings, with reactions ranging from very mild localized swelling and pain to anaphylactic shock. These symptoms were sometimes caused by a direct sting to the muzzle or paw, but in some cases, they occurred when a dog ingested a bee! It’s important to know what is normal and what is not when this happens.

The typical dog bee stinging event leaves the dog with a single sting on the muzzle or foot. This is because of dogs’ horizontal, four-footed orientation and their innate curiosity. The feet often find the insects when running through the grass, and the curious muzzle will follow.

What to Do If Your Dog Gets Stung

In the case of most stings, there will be very mild redness and swelling. Your dog may suddenly limp and/or favor a paw, or have a red, swollen spot on the face. In some cases, a stinger can still be found in the wound. This is extremely difficult to find without a still, calm dog and a magnifying glass. In some cases, removal of a stinger must be done at a veterinary office. You can try to visualize and remove it at home, but it may not be possible.

Initial treatment for a sting or bite of this severity can consist of rest and a cold compress to relieve swelling and pain. Do not administer over-the-counter medications; these are generally not safe for dogs. If you are concerned that your dog is in significant pain, contact your veterinarian to discuss a pain-management strategy.

Hives, wheals, and welts are a moderate reaction to stings. Just like their human counterparts, dogs who have been stung can break out in unsightly hives. These are usually very itchy and uncomfortable. The first sign often noticed is the dog rubbing along furniture or scratching at the face and eyes. The hives may manifest as bright red streaks or lumps all over the body or be confined to a single place.

As long as there is no attendant vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, or collapse, this can be managed at home successfully. Diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl) can be given at 1 to 2 milligrams per pound of body weight. If using a Benadryl product, check to make sure there are NO other active ingredients. Some Benadryl products contain decongestants as well, and these can be dangerous for dogs.

Diphenhydramine can be repeated every six to eight hours as needed to help with hives. They can sometimes take hours to a few days to completely resolve. Diphenhydramine can cause drowsiness, but in some dogs, it can cause excitement (called a paradoxical reaction).

Severe Bee Sting Reactions in Dogs

In the most severe cases, dogs can develop anaphylactic shock. In canines, the shock organ is the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (in contrast to cats and humans, in which it is the lungs). Dogs in anaphylactic shock do not necessarily develop difficulty breathing. They are much more likely to develop sudden onset of vomiting, diarrhea, and collapse. The diarrhea and vomit can both be extremely bloody, in some cases.

This is an absolute emergency and should be treated as such. Once evaluated by a veterinarian, your dog will be treated with intravenous (IV) fluids, epinephrine, possibly steriods, oxygen, and very close monitoring. Diagnostic testing will likely include blood pressure monitoring, bloodwork, and maybe an abdominal ultrasound.

hymenoptera species

Dreamstime

Often, when dogs are stung, it is not witnessed, so it can be difficult to determine the cause of the signs. Anaphylaxis can also look like an Addisonian crisis; severe, acute hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE); or mesenteric volvulus. One helpful test is the abdominal ultrasound. Gallbladder wall swelling (edema) can be used to determine if anaphylaxis is the true cause of the signs. Another indicator is that anaphylaxis is a very sudden onset in a previously healthy dog that has just been outside.

With rapid and aggressive treatment, most dogs will recover from this type of shock, but early treatment is essential. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend carrying an EpiPen Jr for future outdoor travels with your dog. Despite having this on hand, any suspicion of an anaphylactic event should prompt immediate evaluation by your veterinarian.

When Your Dog Suffers Multiple Bee Stings

Initial symptoms in dogs include multiple bites, marked pain and swelling, hyperthermia (temperature can elevate to a deadly 107 degrees), heavy panting, rapid heart rate, and in some cases, muscle tremoring.

There is no antidote, so treatment is aimed at supportive care. This must be aggressive, as dogs can later develop systemic effects such as kidney failure. The kidney failure develops due to generalized muscle trauma from the stings and hyperthermia. When the muscle is damaged, extra myoglobin (a muscle enzyme) is released into the bloodstream. This must be metabolized by the kidneys, and excess amounts can cause renal damage. This will lead to a dark brown color to urine and elevated blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine.

Treatment is centered on maintaining hydration with IV fluids, pain relief medications (generally strong drugs like opioids), and close monitoring of vitals and bloodwork. NSAIDs like carprofen and meloxicam should be avoided due to the risk of kidney failure.

A different and less-common scenario is a sting to the inside of the mouth or the tongue. These stings can be more severe because of the amount of pain and swelling. In rare cases, swelling in the mouth could lead to airway inflammation, obstruction, and labored breathing. While this isn’t common, it can happen. If you know that your dog was stung in the mouth or on the tongue, monitor closely for any signs of respiratory distress. These include wheezing or other noisy breathing, coughing, and difficulty pulling air into the lungs (inspiratory dyspnea). Seek veterinary care!

In these cases, your dog may need to receive respiratory support. This might include an oxygen mask, nasal oxygen prongs, or in serious cases, where the upper airway is obstructed, the placement of an emergency tracheostomy tube. This allows the veterinarian to bypass the swollen upper airway and provide the patient with life-saving oxygen. These are temporary and will be removed when the swelling has resolved enough to allow normal respiration.

Most reactions to bee stings are mild, but it is important to recognize the more severe symptoms so that immediate treatment can be started and systemic effects minimized.

dog stung by bee

What About Killer Bees?

A special note about Africanized killer bees should be made. These are a hybrid of two honeybees: the western honey bee and the Iberian honey bee. They were hybridized in Brazil in the 1950s with hopes of increasing honey production. Unfortunately, swarms escaped quarantine and migrated through Central America and into the Southwest and Florida. These bees are still largely isolated to those areas, but with global temperatures in flux, they can be expected to spread.

Unlike the usually docile honey bee, these bees can be very easily aggravated and aggressive and even chase victims. When annoyed, they tend to attack in large swarms. Interestingly, the venom is the same as other honey bees, which are rarely fatal. It is the multiple stings that can be fatal for animals and humans.

By Catherine Ashe, DVM

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.

ASTA ZAN TURMERIC AND RED ALGAE
Asta Zan combines natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that help fight joint pain, immune dysfunction and chronic health issues.
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”.

where to purchase Protandim

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

where to purchase

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!

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