When “Fine” Isn’t

Copied from another Blogger a good article to read.

spider gone

Socialization can go wrong when people don’t recognize a puppy’s signs of fear. Here’s what to look for and how to avoid problems.

“We don’t understand where this aggression came from,” the woman said, tears in her eyes. “We took her everywhere as a puppy like you’re supposed to do. She went with us to stores, to our kids’ practices, to friends’ houses. She was fine! But now she growls at people and other dogs, even ones she’s met before.”

The Shepherd mix, Chloe, was now 1 year old, and barking at me from across the room. She would approach, then retreat, growl, and flinch every time I moved.

“Tell me about those early socialization visits,” I said.

“We started right when we got her at 9 weeks,” she replied. “She was fine! She was so quiet. Everyone would compliment her on being so well behaved.”

I asked, “When you introduced her to new people, did she run right up to them, all wiggly? Trying to kiss them? When she met other dogs, was she the same? All curvy and bouncy?”

“Oh no,” she said, “She was a quiet puppy. We would just put her in laps and she’d fall asleep half the time. She wasn’t interested in other dogs. They’d approach her, and she’d just look away like they weren’t even there. But she never growled at them until recently.”

Bingo. With further questions, I learned that Chloe rarely initiated contact with people or other dogs as a puppy. This puppy hadn’t been fine. She had been shutting down. She wasn’t well-behaved. She was too frightened to move. Now that Chloe was an adolescent, she was more willing to protect herself by barking and trying to scare away the people and dogs who frightened her.

Socialization Is More Than Exposure
My client was not a bad dog owner. She knew that socialization was important. She just didn’t realize that done improperly, socialization can backfire. Proper socialization is ensuring that a puppy has a variety of experiences, all wonderful ones. The puppy gets to decide if the experience is wonderful or not. In Chloe’s case, she wasn’t given the chance to go up to people of her own accord, at her own pace. She was placed in people’s laps – in essence, put in the laps of monsters. They were probably all very nice people, but Chloe didn’t think so. Her association with people became worse. When other dogs approached her, she signaled she didn’t want any interaction by turning away. Chloe’s mom didn’t understand that Chloe was uncomfortable, so she didn’t intervene. Now Chloe thought dogs were scary, too.

I’ve seen enough of these cases over the years that I’ve started to call them “Sleepy Puppy Syndrome.”

There are degrees of sociability in dogs, but a normal, healthy, confident puppy will want to explore. She’ll be curvy and wiggly. She may jump up to try and reach faces, trying to kiss chins. She’ll sniff and explore her surroundings.

Signs Of Fear And Stress
A puppy can whine, cower, and try to hide when she is afraid, but sometimes she will act sleepy.

Yawning is a sign of stress. Avoidance is, too. When a puppy is faced with something obvious, like another dog in her face or a looming stranger, and she starts sniffing the ground nearby, scratching behind an ear and ignoring the situation completely, this is a puppy practicing denial.

Understanding these signals can help prevent fear from blossoming into aggression as the puppy gets older. Always bring treats with you when you take your puppy anywhere. Pair each new experience with yummy cookies. If your puppy will not take the treats, it can also be a sign that she is too afraid.

It took three lessons before Chloe would let me pet her. I waited patiently for Chloe to approach at her own pace, rewarding each brave step with a liver treat. With a behavior modification plan and a dedicated pet parent who now understood how to work with Chloe’s fear, Chloe gradually learned the world was not full of monsters. In time, she learned to be truly fine after all.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin

The Dog Nanny Website

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What are the Myth’s about Dog Training

The 10 most common Myths about Dog Training & Behaviour
Hang with dog folks long enough and you’re sure to hear some pretty interesting theories about dog behavior. 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.

training

Below I will explain why these 10 popular myths should not be used as the justification for a training or behavior modification technique. I am always exhorting my interns, apprentices, and clients to be critical thinkers. When someone offers you an alleged nugget of canine wisdom, regardless of who 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 behavior, does that concur with your understanding of positive reinforcement? (That a dog’s behavior makes a good thing happen, so the behavior 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 behavior makes a bad thing happen; behavior 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, aversives, 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 behavior 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.)

puppy jeopardy treats
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 behavior 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, behavior problems.
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.)

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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 behavior today believe that canine social hierarchies are much more based on deference than dominance, and that most canine behavior that many misguided humans attribute to dominance . . . isn’t!
A dog’s goal in life is to make good stuff happen. Behaviors often labeled “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 behaviors are reinforced; they make good stuff happen. Pulling on leash gets her where she wants to go. Jumping up gets attention. Behaviors that are reinforced continue, and even increase – but they have nothing to do with social status.
If you remove all reinforcement for the unwelcome behaviors (pulling makes us stop; jumping up makes attention go away) and reinforce more appropriate behaviors in their place, the dog will change her behavior.
Myth #3: “If you let your dog sleep on the bed /go through doors first/win at tug-o-war, he will become the alpha.” (Fails all three tests.)

it's call furniture
This one is mostly just silly.
See Myth #2 for the myth busting response to this one. If you don’t want your dog on the furniture, that’s your lifestyle choice, but you don’t need to defend it with the dominent alpha-garbage argument. I teach my dogs to sit and wait for permission to go through the door (“say please!”) because it’s a polite, safe behavior and reinforces deference, but not because I’m terrified that they’ll take over the house. And I like to win tug-o-war a lot because it reinforces polite behavior. You can quit worrying about your dog becoming alpha just because you don’t rule with an iron bar.
If you are concerned that your dog is too pushy you can implement a “Say Please” program, where your dog asks politely for all good things by sitting – a nice, polite, deference behavior (see “Be a Benevolent Leader, Whole Dog Journal August, 2003). If you think your dog is potentially aggressive, it’s even more important to avoid conflict; your attempts to physically dominate him are likely to escalate his aggression rather than resolve it.
Myth #4: “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.)

not a bad dog
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 behavior problems, and examined the effects of reward, punishment, and rule structure (permissiveness/strictness and consistency) on training and behavior 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 behaviors.
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 behaviors, and will also make judicious use of negative punishment (dog’s behavior makes a good thing go away) to let him know he made an unrewarding behavior choice.
Myth #5: “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 behavior.
Treats can be a very high-value reinforcer and quite useful in training a wide variety of behaviors, 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 behavior on cue 8 out of 10 times, and incorporate a variety of reinforcers so you’re never dependent on any one particular reward choice. (For more information about how some people might fail when applying positive training techniques the wrong way.
Myth #6: “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.)

toy destroy
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 behavior repertoire.
There are two rational explanations for the behaviors 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 behaviors 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. For more information.
Myth #7: “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” behavior, eagerly sought-after and highly valued. Behaviors 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.
Whole Dog Journal readers know full well that human-grade food is better for dogs than much of the junk that’s in many brands of dog food. Whether it’s fed in a form that we recognize as something we might consume, or it’s been transformed into something that more resembles our mental concept of “dog food,” it all still comes from the same basic food ingredients.
Myth #8: “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 behaviors. He’s probably thinking something like, “I don’t know why, but my human looks upset. I’d better offer some appeasement behaviors so her anger isn’t directed at me!” Even when the “guilty” expression is a direct and immediate result of your dog’s behavior 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.

no matter why dogs celebrate 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 behavior 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 behavior 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 #9: 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 behaviors 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 behavior consultant to learn about more effective and less potentially harmful methods.
Myth #10: “Aggressive/hand-shy/fearful dogs must have been abused at some point in their lives.” (Fails the scientific test.)ddb halloween ball
This is a very widespread myth; I hear it so often it makes my brain hurt. Fortunately, while the behaviors 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 behavior, a myth-corollary to our Myth #10 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. For more about rehabilitating a chronically fearful dog.

The Dog Nanny Website

Do Some Dogs Need a Heavier Hand?

thought i was the master
It never fails—someone always says it. In a recent online discussion about a trainer known for using less-than-gentle methods, someone made a comment that sounded a lot like this: “Positive training is fine for smaller dogs and puppies, and maybe even some adults, but there are some dogs that need a heavier hand.”
Really? Because that sounds an awful lot like justification for, yanking, hitting, shocking, and other things done to dogs in the name of training.
I’ve heard the excuse for heavy-handedness put like this: “They’re RED zone dogs”. The term is meant to indicate dogs that are severely aggressive, and often the trainer has been brought in as last-ditch effort before the dog is euthanized.
In my years of working in canine training and behaviour, I’ve worked with many of what would be termed “red zone” dogs. Lest you think I don’t fully comprehend the extreme aggression the term is meant to denote, one example from my own clientele is the 140-pound Mastiff who had put a hole through his owner’s hand. His owner, a 6-foot-240 pound man, had adopted the dog as an adult. The first week, the man went to grab a toy on the carpet at the same time as the dog did, which resulted in the hole in the palm through which daylight was clearly visible. The dog was also very aggressive toward strangers, and had severe barrier frustration aggression. I’m happy to report that with a course of kind, gentle training and behaviour modification, and some beautiful follow-through on the part of the clients, all lived carefully but happily ever after. I could go on about successful outcomes with dogs, who have delivered multiple puncture-wounds to multiple people, and how gentle methods were successful…but you get the idea. And plenty of other trainers could share similar stories.
Whenever I hear the argument for certain dogs needing a heavier hand, I think about the wolves I’ve worked with over the years. Wolves are incredibly intelligent, and they learn very quickly. They do not, however, respond to things in the same way dogs do. An attempt to physically overpower them would not go well for the human—so how could anyone possibly work with them? Gently and with respect. It’s the method use with all Canids and other large animals.

pack equals family to dog
It’s true that some dogs are naturally softer than others as far as temperament, and they’re more tractable when it comes to training and behaviour modification. There are also some very pushy, obnoxious dogs out there (have you met my dog Saphira?), and yes, even aggressive and severely aggressive dogs. But when we put those dogs in a box and slap a label on it (Red Zone! Beware!), we do them a disservice. That label implies, at least to some, that desperate situations call for desperate measures. Nothing could be further from the truth. Attempting to establish dominance over the dog is the first thing many trainers attempt when working with these high-risk types. I suppose the theory is that the dog will then be biddable; after all, how can you work with a dog that might go after you? But this theory misses the point. It’s not about force to begin with—it’s about gaining the dog’s trust.

Think about it: Why is the dog behaving aggressively? In the vast majority of cases, it’s because he or she does not feel comfortable, and is taking the offence to keep the big, scary thing at bay. Sure, there are also dogs who are flat-out territorial or otherwise aggressive without it being fear-based, but even then, gaining trust in a non-confrontational way goes so much further than simply establishing dominance. And let’s say the trainer can “dominate” the dog. Where does that leave the family members who have to live with the dog every day?

I’ve seen way too many clients who were advised to use harsh, punitive methods on aggressive dogs, and it backfired. One of my clients had been advised by a previous trainer to put her American Bulldog on his back and sit on him whenever he became aggressive. The woman had been bitten in the face, and as a result, was seeking a better way.
I don’t care if a dog is 150 pounds or 10 pounds, and whether the issue is leash manners or biting visitors. There are no dogs that need a heavier hand—there are only trainers who need more knowledge and a lighter touch.

not a bad dog

The Dog Nanny website

How to Load a Marker

The Use of a Marker
Everywhere you read about Dog Training you’ll see

that TIMING & CONSISTANCY are mentioned.

TIMING is referring to the timing of your MARKER.look into my eyes you will give cookies
A MARKER is a sound that let’s your dog know they just did the right thing and a reward is coming.
CONSISTANCY means you use the same word/sound/command/hand signal and that your Rules are always the same.

Animal trainers for years have used a MARKER, be it a whistle or a word for Dolphins, Whales, Bears, Elephants or Lions.
I am sure most of you have heard of Clicker Training which is becoming more and more popular with dog owners and trainers, the Clicker still falls into the MARKER Category.
It is still a sound that let’s your dog know they just did the right thing and a reward is coming.
However, after 25+ years of teaching people how to train their dogs, I know that having that CLICKER to hand at all times, just does not happen. You said Sit, your dog did and now you are patting your pockets trying to find the Clicker, the moment for Marking has past and thus the opportunity to confirm your dog just did the right thing.
What you always have to hand is your VOICE, as a marker is a sound, you could just as easily use your voice over a Clicker or Whistle.
So what sound do you make……………………..
As it’s natural to say YES, when something is right, YES would be the obvious choice for us humans, but we want that sound to be just for our dogs, so they know each time they hear it, it was solely directed at them.
So I suggest we say “YESSSSSSS”, unless of course you go around saying YESSSSSS, to others, which in this day and age is unlikely, with all our slang of Yep’s, and OK’s.
YESSSS also falls into how dogs understand sounds, the Y is a little high squeaky in tone, therefore Praise/Play sound, the nice long SSSSSSS, makes it very different from YES.
Try it say “YES” now say “YESSSSSS”.
Timing of this MARKER is very important, you need to issue it the very second you get the correct behaviour.
The better you are at MARKING the faster your dog learns behaviours.
I must add here I do love clicker training, BUT, only for those handler’s/owner’s whom are proficient and confident and know to have that Clicker handy and are great at timing it’s use. A skill that comes with time and practise.

The Dog Nanny Website

 

Understanding Bad Dog Behavior

toy destroy

It can be frustrating when you experience dog behavior problems. Dogs are very different than people. A dog’s actions sometimes don’t make sense to us. It’s hard to understand why a dog does what he does. So, what is it that’s behind common dog behavior problems and what can you do to correct these problems?

If you have a dog that is behaving badly, you need to correct the problem; but to do that, you need to understand your dog’s behavior.

First and foremost remember that a dog is a pack animal. Your dog sees himself as part of your pack. That’s why it’s so important that you lead him and make him understand that you are the leader of the pack. If you allow your dog to continue with certain dog behavior problems, he will think that he is the alpha dog, and your dog behavior problems will continue.

If you’re curious about why your dog does what he does, you’re not alone. Common dog behavior problems can be easily resolved, as long as you follow the right training methods.

How many times have you uttered the words, “No – bad dog!”, only to find it has no effect on your dog’s behavior? That’s because punishment doesn’t work. Most of the time, dogs don’t understand what they’re being punished for, and the behavior continues.

Changing dog behavior problems isn’t quick and easy – it can take weeks or months to achieve. The most important thing to remember is that any attention rewards your dog – good or bad. If you are trying to change your dog’s behavior, remember that punishment doesn’t work. To stop bad dog behavior problems, you must respond to the behavior in the right way. If you yell at your dog when he does something bad, you are still giving him the attention he seeks and telling him that his bad behavior paid off.

The key to changing bad dog behavior is not to allow him to be rewarded for it. Instead of yelling, give your dog the chance to succeed and reward him when he does. For instance, if your dog is jumping up, tell him to lie down – and when he does, give him a treat. This is the type of positive reinforcement that will eventually stop bad dog behavior. Your dog wants to understand what you want him to do, but it will take patience and time to make your dog learn what you expect of him.

When you are interacting with your dog, you are communicating with an animal that speaks a different language than you do. That’s why training is so important to help improve your dog behavior problems. Try to teach your dog a new command every week, and remember to keep practicing old commands. When your dog understands what you want him to do, you will have a much better relationship.

Also remember the old adage, “a Brain tired dog is a good dog.” It’s true. A Brain tired dog is less likely to exhibit behavioral problems. So make sure that your dog gets plenty of opportunities to work, run and play. Exercise is important for all dogs. It helps them use up all that pent up energy, so they’re less likely to direct that energy toward unwanted behaviors. If you work outside of the home and your dog is home alone all day, make sure to give him the opportunity to run around outdoors when you come home.

From aggression and barking to destructive chewing, nipping and separation anxiety, dog behavior problems can have a real impact on your life.

 

The 10 Most Important Things to Teach A Puppy

valentine ddbYour new puppy will learn his most vital skills through lots of appropriate socializing and positive training techniques.

I don’t care what breed or mix of breeds you’re talking about, puppies are inarguabley, impossibly and adorably cute. You have to be pretty hardhearted and cold or otherwise emotionally damaged not to get gushy over baby dogs, with their innocent faces, sweet puppy breath, satiny ears, and soft pink paw pads. It’s no wonder that people adopt or purchase them, take them home, and then all too often don’t know how to properly care for them.

It shouldn’t surprise me but it does, still, that there are far too many people out there who don’t seem to have a clue about how to properly raise a puppy. My Blog Readers and Clients, are not likely to fall into the “completely clueless” category, but in case you haven’t had a puppy for a while – or ever – and recently adopted or are thinking of adopting, here’s a refresher course for you on the topic of the 10 most important things you should teach your puppy.

1. Socialize Your Puppy to Many Situations
If you teach her nothing else, teach your puppy that the world is a safe and happy place. The formal name for this process is “socialization,” and it means taking your puppy lots of places, exposing her to different sights, sounds, surfaces, humans and other animals, and making sure she’s having a good time while doing so. You want to give her a positive classical association with the world and all things she’s likely to encounter in her dog life. Lots of people understand the part about taking their puppy lots of different places for socialization. They sometimes miss the critically important part: making sure the puppy has a good time.

The primary socialization window is alarmingly small – from three to four weeks to about 13 to 14 weeks. If you get your pup at age eight weeks, half that period is already gone – so hopefully the owner of the pup’s mother has already laid a good socialization foundation. Now it’s your turn.

Take your puppy to safe places where you can control the environment to a reasonable degree. Loud parties and crowded street fairs are not a good idea. Small social gatherings, controlled groups of children, and well-run force-free puppy classes are. Find businesses that welcome pets (many hardware stores and outdoor cafes are pet-friendly) and take her shopping with you (but don’t leave her in a hot car!).

If she seems fearful at any time, move her away from the fear-causing stimulus, let her observe from a safe distance, and feed high-value treats to help her have a good association with the thing, whatever it is. Then make a mental note (or keep a written list!) of things you want to help her become more comfortable with by doing focused counter-conditioning sessions.

omg is that a new collar

2. Prevent Separation Anxiety by Leaving Your Puppy Alone
Dogs are social animals. In a world not controlled by humans, our dogs would spend most of their time in the company of others. Feral dog populations show us that, while not a true pack in the “wolf” sense of the world, wild dogs tend to exist in loose-knit social groups and do choose to be in the company of others of their own kind. In contrast, in our world, a significant population of canines are “only dogs” and are left home alone for eight to 10 hours or even longer. The incidence of separation and isolation anxiety behaviors (SA and IA) in our canine companions is sad testimony to this.

To avoid inducing SA or IA in your pup, introduce her to “aloneness” gradually. Include crate or exercise-pen training during this process so she can be left safely confined while you are away. Plan to take at least a few days off work after your pup arrives so you can help her get accustomed to longer and longer periods alone. Play with her first so she’s tired, then put her in her crate or pen, give her a food-stuffed Kong or other yummy chew, and sit nearby, reading or working on your computer. Slowly increase your distance from her and the length of time you leave her alone, until she is calm and relaxed on her own.

pee mail

3. Housetrain Your Puppy to Relieve Himself in Designated Places and/or Times
Once known as “housebreaking” – “housetraining” is a better term; what were we “breaking” anyway?! – the process of teaching your pup to eliminate where you want her to go is critically important. The process is very simple – but not always easy. Successful housetraining requires ultra-management: You simply never give your pup the opportunity to go to the bathroom anywhere other than the desired place(s).

Leashes, tethers, crates, baby gates, exercise pens, and eagle-eye supervision all come into play as your pup learns that “outdoors = bathroom” (or, for those who choose to teach their dogs to eliminate indoors, bathroom = pee pads or a sod box). The key is to take your pup to her potty spot more often than she has to go, and reinforce her when she “does her business.” At first take her out every hour on the hour, then gradually increase the length of time between bathroom trips.

It’s also a good idea to encourage her to go on different surfaces. Dogs develop “substrate preferences.” If you have her go only on grass you may find that she won’t go on gravel or dirt on those occasions when grass isn’t available.

After she goes, play with her for a bit; if she discovers that elimination makes the outdoor fun stop, she may learn to “hold it” as long as possible to prolong her outside time or interaction with you.

When you are sure she is empty, and after a bit of play, you can bring her back inside and give her some relative house freedom for 15-20 minutes, then put her back under your direct supervision or confinement until the next scheduled potty trip. As she comes to understand the concept of pottying outside, you can increase the length of time she gets post-potty house freedom.

In addition to her regular bathroom breaks, keep in mind that puppies usually need to eliminate not long after eating, and after any strenuous play sessions.

If you do catch her making a mistake, give her a cheerful, “Oops! Outside!” and escort her out to finish there. If you react strongly with a loud “No, bad dog!!” you may teach her that it’s not safe to go where you can see her, and she’ll learn to go to the back bedroom or behind the couch to poop and pee. Punishing accidents may also result in a dog who is reluctant to eliminate for you on leash, for fear that you will punish her. Just don’t.

toy destroy4. Only Enable Your Puppy to Chew on Designated Chew Objects
Just as dogs develop substrate preferences, they also develop preferences for certain things to chew on. If you manage your pup’s environment (with tethers, leashes, baby gates, exercise pens, and direct supervision) so she has opportunity to chew on only “legal” chew objects, you will be able to give her house freedom much sooner, with much more confidence that your valuables are safe.

Different dogs like different kinds of chews, so provide her with a wide variety of chewable items until you find what she likes. Remember that a dog’s need to chew goes far beyond puppyhood, so keep those chew objects handy throughout her life.

My general rule of thumb is that my dogs don’t get house freedom until they are at least a year old, and then only for short periods of time until I know that I can trust them not to chew.

5. A Positive Training Foundation Means an Obedient Dog
When force-free training was new to the dog world, 20 years or so ago, positive trainers had to endure a little (or a lot) of criticism about using treats for training. Now that positive training has come into its own, bolstered by studies that indicate that force-free training is faster and more effective than old-fashioned force-based methods, there is no need to be stingy with or defensive about food rewards.

I always have cookies in my pockets so I can always use treats to reinforce my dogs when the opportunity presents itself. Remember that all living creatures repeat behaviors that are reinforced. We all want to make good stuff happen! If you are good at reinforcing the behaviors you want, and making sure your pup doesn’t get reinforced for behaviors you don’t want (there’s that “management” thing again), your pup will spend lots of time trying to figure out what she needs to do to get you to give her treats. That’s a good thing.

6. Show Your Puppy It’s Fun to Learn New Things
Today’s skilled trainer knows that it’s important to make the whole training process fun for your pup. Along with treats, we want to incorporate happy voices, toys, and play as part of the training process. When you are selecting a training professional to work with you and your pup, either in private training or group classes, make sure you find one who is on board with the force-free, fun approach to training. Your pup’s eyes should light up with joy when you tell her it’s training time!

7. Teach Your Puppy a Fast Recall
Recalls (coming when called) may just be the single most important behavior you can teach your dog. A dog who has a solid recall can be given more freedom to run and play in areas where dogs are allowed off leash. Dogs who get to run and play are generally much healthier, both physically and mentally, and much easier to live with, as they can burn off excess energy by running around. A tired dog is a happy owner!

Use a recall cue that always means “good stuff” – such as a chance to play with a highly coveted toy or high-value treats – and never call your dog to you to do something she doesn’t love, like giving a pill, treating ears, or putting her in her crate. Certainly never call her to you and then punish or even just scold her. You never know; a solid recall might just save your dog’s life someday.

Unlike old-fashioned training, where you face your dog, command her to come, and jerk on the leash if she doesn’t, today’s positive trainer teaches the recall as another fun game to play with humans. I teach a “Run Away Come” by calling the dog and then running away fast, so the dog comes galloping and romping after her human, and gets to party with treats and/or toys when she catches up. The dog learns that “Come!” is an irresistible invitation to play the chase game.

so beautiful8. Help Your Dog Associate Human Touch with Love
Our dogs have to put up with a lot of human touching throughout their lives, and they don’t always like it so much. You can hardly blame them; a lot of the touch is unpleasant, and combined with forced restraint and pain.

You can make life a lot easier for your dog if you teach her as a pup that human touch makes good stuff happen (basic classical conditioning), and minimizing restraint to that which is only absolutely necessary. There is a new movement in the veterinary world to use low-stress handling techniques, so dogs don’t have to be forcibly restrained for routine exams, blood draws, and vaccinations.

Begin by pairing non-invasive touches to your puppy with tasty treats; start somewhere non-threatening, perhaps with a touch to the side of her neck. Touch-treat. Touch-treat. Look for her eyes to light up when you touch her, and her head to swivel toward your treat hand. This is a “conditioned emotional response” (CER); it tells you she understands that the touch makes treats happen.

When this happens consistently, move your touch to other parts of her body that she might be less comfortable with: her ears, paws, or under her chest or belly. Make sure you get the CER at each new spot before proceeding any further. If she actively pulls away from you, you have proceeded too quickly; back up and go more slowly.

This process is invaluable, and will help you with everything from nail trimming to grooming to treating injuries.

9. Condition Your Puppy to Enjoy Car Ridesdogs in hot cars

It’s very sad when a dog doesn’t ride well in cars. It limits our ability and willingness to take her places, and makes it very not-fun when we do! Fortunately, you can teach your pup that the car is a wonderful place, and set her up to love going places with you for the rest of her life.

Part of the problem is that for many pups, that first car ride is very traumatic. It may be the first time she’s separated from her mom and littermates, and the stress of the separation and movement of the car can cause her to get carsick. Bingo! She now associates the car with stress and vomiting. If possible, ask your pup’s breeder to give her some short car rides with some of her siblings so she has a better association with the event. You can also request that the breeder, shelter, or rescue group not feed your pup for a few hours prior to your scheduled pick-up, to reduce the likelihood of carsickness.

If it’s too late for all that, your next best bet is to work to change your pup’s already negative association with the car. Start by sitting in the car with her; don’t even turn on the engine. Give her yummy chew toys, play some training games with her – make the car a fun place to be.

When she’s happy about just being in the car (this may take several sessions; take your time!), turn the engine on and repeat the fun-and-games process, without driving anywhere. Then, with a helper doing the driving for you, continue to play car games while the car moves a very short distance. At the end of the ride, take her out of the car and do fun stuff with her, then put her back in the car and travel another short distance. Gradually have your driver take you longer distances, with fun stuff happening at every destination. In time, your “Want to go for a ride?” query will be met with happy wags and a dog who voluntarily hops in the car in anticipation of fun stuff.

If you have a dog who gets carsick even after all that, try giving her a ginger snap or two before the ride, and/or ask your vet for medication that will help calm her stomach.

keep clam and hug a douge10. Reinforce Your Puppy’s Trust
After her puppy socialization, this could be the most important thing you teach and affirm to your dog throughout her life. You have an obligation to be your dog’s advocate, and not allow anyone, no matter who they are, to do things to her that go against your gut instincts about how she should be treated.

If you are committed to force-free, fear-free, and pain-free handling and training, don’t ever let anyone talk you into treating her badly. No leash jerks, no collar shocks, no alpha rolls. Ever. Stick to your guns; there is always another way. If your animal care and/or training professional insists that the use of pain or force is necessary, find another one. There are plenty of professionals out there who will support and respect your wishes when it comes to handling your dog. She cannot speak for herself; she is counting on you to speak for her.

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How to Puppy Proof Your Home

silence is golden unless puppy

Puppies are adorable and entertaining; they are awkward, playful and full of energy until they are suddenly in a deep sleep. But they can also be as troublesome as a toddler. They seem to get into everything and have a special power that enables them to find dangerous and potentially harmful objects. If you are getting a new puppy, make sure his new home is ready and safe before you bring him home.

Household Hazards

Furniture. Certain types of furniture can be dangerous to puppies. Reclining chairs can trap a curious pup that crawls inside. Rocking chairs can roll on a puppy’s tail or foot, so make sure your pup isn’t sitting near the rocker when you decide to take a break.

Slippery floors. Puppies in the early stages of learning to walk are not steady on their feet and are often clumsy. Slick floors, such as linoleum or hard wood, can result in slips and falls. Cover the floors with rugs to help your puppy with his footing. Don’t encourage running on slippery surfaces.

Stairs. These can pose another risk to your puppy. Not only can they slip and fall down the stairs but the stairs also lead to other areas of the house out of your watchful eye. Place baby gates so that the puppy does not have access to stairs.

Electrical cords. Puppies love to chew and electrical cords need to be off limits. Electrocution can occur easily and cause injury or even death. Tie up loose electrical cords or conceal them in hard plastic or rubber runners purchased at the hardware store.

Small objects. Not only do puppies love to chew on cords, but small objects are also a danger. Swallowed coins, pins, needles, rubber bands, paper clips, staples, nails, screws, yarn, thread, dental floss, earrings and other small jewelry, bells and small balls, left lying around can lodge in your puppy’s digestive tract. Keep them safely out of your pup’s reach.

Children’s toys and clothing. Puppies love to chew and toys and clothing are typical favorites. Your child’s bedroom and playroom should be off limits unless the puppy can be supervised. Keep clothing and shoes safely stored in cabinets, drawers or hampers.

Bathrooms. This area of the house poses its own risks. Bathroom trashcans, especially in homes with women, are very tempting to puppies. Though what they choose to ingest may not seem “choice,” remember that puppies are not too picky. Immediately discard any bulky bathroom items, such as sanitary supplies, to the outdoor trashcan. Dirty clothes should not be left lying around and towels need to be kept out of reach.

Medications should be safely stored away and toilet lids down if toilet bowl cleaners are used. (Actually, keep them down anyways – do you really want your puppy drinking from the toilet?)

Windows. Keep your dog from accidentally falling or escaping through an open window by fastening window screens securely.

puppy jeopardy treats

Outdoor Hazards

Big Bad World. Don’t leave your puppy outside unattended. Escaping from the yard, poisonous plants and the anxiety of the being in the big backyard alone can be dangerous. Make sure you remove or fence off all potentially dangerous plants. Check your fence for holes and keep him company until he learns his boundaries.

Pool or Pond. Your curious and sometimes awkward pup can fall into the pool and not be able to get out. Keep the pool or pond fenced off and don’t allow unsupervised access. Consider getting a pool alarm that sounds if something falls into the water.

Garage or Storage Sheds. Too many dangerous items can be found in garages and storage areas, including fishhooks, fishing lines, chemicals, herbicides and various garden supplies. Automotive items, such as antifreeze (which dogs are attracted to) can also pose a threat. Keep these areas closed and locked to prevent your puppy from getting into serious trouble.

Potential Poisons

Plants. Many common household and yard plants are poisonous. They range from lily-of-the-valley and daffodils to rhododendron and hydrangea. Eating them causes symptoms ranging from stomach upset to convulsions or death.

Chemicals. Chemical cleaning products and garden supplies should never be left out. To keep your puppy from opening the cupboards where you store cleaning products, attach safety latches to the cupboard doors.

Ashtrays. Cigarettes and even cigarette ash contain nicotine and are toxic to curious puppies if ingested. Keep all tobacco products safely stored away and never leave cigarette butts or ashes in areas that your puppy can reach.

Antifreeze. All antifreeze is poisonous. Even antifreeze made of propylene glycol is toxic if your dog ingests enough of it, so keep antifreeze spills cleaned up.

Drugs. Over the counter drugs as well as prescription medicine are tempting and toxic to your puppy. Keep all medicines out of your puppy’s reach and don’t let your dog play with pills that might have fallen to the floor. Pick them up and throw them away.

No house is 100 percent safe, but you can reduce risks by creating a dog-friendly environment. Be vigilant. Keep potential hazards at a minimum. Get down on the floor and look around at puppy eye level. See his world as he would see it to help make your pup’s new home safe.

oh hi is this yours

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Has your dog’s housetraining fallen apart with the advent (onslaught?) of brutally cold temperatures?

Getting Your Dog to Potty in Winter
Has your dog’s housetraining fallen apart with the advent (onslaught?) of brutally cold temperatures? You can hardly blame your dog for not wanting to walk out into such extreme cold, but there are things you can do to help encourage him or her to do so.

adorable animal canine cold

When temperatures hit near- or below-zero, you may need to strongly encourage your dog to potty – actually, insist on it! Veterinarians see spikes in the number of cases of urinary tract infections in winter, when dogs tend to “hold it” for as long as possible, declining invitations to go outside at their usual potty times, and failing to take the time to empty their bladders fully when they do go outside. The longer urine is held in the body, the more bacteria can grow in that urine; when the population of bacteria tips past a level that the dog’s immune system can control, discomfort and systemic illness can result.

You may need to encourage your dog to drink adequate amounts of water when it’s super cold, too. Many dogs become reluctant to drink when it’s cold, and end up getting dehydrated, which can set the stage for a wide constellation of disorders, especially in senior dogs. If you come home from work and your dog’s water bowl has gone untouched all day – it’s at the exact level where it was when you filled it fresh that morning – you should start experimenting to find whatever works best to get your dog to drink more. Some effectives tactics include filling the bowl with fresh water more frequently; warming the water to something more than room temperature; or adding bone broth, chicken broth, or even a bit of honey to the water. Feeding him a high-moisture food will also help, whether it’s canned, fresh home-prepared, raw frozen, or simply his regular kibble soaked in warm water or broth.

Assuming your dog is drinking enough, here are some tips for encouraging him or her to potty as fully and often as usual:

If you can, make a designated potty station outdoors. A covered outdoor area, preferably a spot with some protection from driving wind, is very helpful. Put down anything that will help protect your dog’s paws from the cold ground (or ice or snow): some straw or wood shavings work great, but a few squares of artificial turf (even if it’s just a door mat) that your dog can stand on to pee, will help. You can hose them off (or even toss them out) when the temperatures thaw! This is an emergency!

Outside walks in winter
Some folks walk their dogs to the nearest parking garage, or set up a “potty box” in their own garage when the weather is too nasty to spend an adequate amount of time outside.

Do you live in an apartment or other urban setting where you have to potty your dog on walks? If so, we hope you have already invested in and accustomed your dog to wearing some sort of paw protection. Wearing boots can help protect his feet from freezing temperatures as well as potentially dangerous ice-melt substances that can be found on urban sidewalks.

grayscale photo of person wearing coat walks on snow
Photo by Kylie Flores on Pexels.com

Make sure you are bundled up, too! Trying to rush your dog into going potty quickly because you are freezing can backfire; back in the house, when you step in a puddle in your socks, or find a pile under the dining room table, you can go ahead and smack yourself over the head with a rolled-up newspaper. “Naughty owner!” Dress as warmly as possible and let your dog take her time outside.

Make sure you give your dog some extra-yummy rewards when he or she goes potty outdoors in extraordinary temperatures. Anything you can do to help your dog associate going outdoors with good things, rather than an aversive experience, will help keep him or her “regular,” and help prevent “accidents” in the house.

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7 General Rules for Training Dogs

ddb puppy school

 

  1. Training should be an enjoyable experience for you and your dog. If you are not in the right mood for training, don’t even start. Keep training sessions short, on the order of 5-10 minutes, to maintain your dog’s motivation.If your dog doesn’t respond appropriately to a command after several attempts, don’t reward him. Resume training a few seconds later using a simpler command. Return to the more complex task later.Always end training on a positive note. Ask your dog to respond to a command you know he will obey. Then reward him for a job well done and issue a finish command such as “free” or “release.” Avoid common words such as “okay.” Following a training session, both owner and dog should be left with a feeling of accomplishment.

    2. Every dog should be familiar with the basic obedience commands, including come, heel, sit, down & stay. Teaching your dog to sit-stay and down-stay off leash is also a valuable lesson. Additional commands that are useful include: leave it, give it, stop it, and enough or cease.

    Keep in mind that a dog’s motivation to respond to a command decreases as the complexity of the task increases. The odds of success, hinge not only on the degree of sophistication of the task but also your dog’s motivation to respond. From a dog’s perspective the question is, which is more rewarding, chasing the squirrel or returning to the owner? Understanding this aspect will increase your patience and chances for success.

    3. Training should not involve any negative or punishment-based components. There should be no yelling, no hitting, no chain jerking, no hanging, and absolutely no electric shock. Each session should be upbeat and positive with rewards for jobs well done.

    Remember that the opposite of reward is not punishment; it is no reward. If you ignore unacceptable responses, your dog will not be rewarded for his failed response. Most dogs want to please their owners or, at the very least, to obtain highly valued resources (food, attention and toys).

    4. Ensure that your dog’s motivation for reward is highest during a training session. If food is the reward, train before a meal, not after. If praise, petting and other aspects of your attention are to be used as a reward, schedule the training session at a time when your dog hungers for your attention (for example, after you have returned from work).

    For complex tasks, such as the off leash down-stay, your dog will be more motivated to comply if he has received moderate exercise before the training session. Asking a dog that is bursting with energy to remain in a prolonged reclining position is asking for failure during the early stages of training.

    5. Make sure the reward you offer in training is the most powerful one for your dog. Food-motivated dogs work well for food, but the treats used should be favourite foods for the dog, such as small pieces of cheese or freeze-dried liver. You want your dog to be strongly motivated to obey commands to receive the treat.

    Food treats, if used, should be small – no bigger than the size of your little fingernail. The texture of the treat should be such that it does not require chewing and should not crumble, otherwise you will lose your dog’s attention as he Hoovers up the crumbs. Large treats, like Milk Bones®, take too long to eat, causing the dog to lose attention.

    If praise is used as a reward, deliver it in high singsong tones, which are most pleasing for the dog. Also, enthusiasm in your voice will be much appreciated. If petting is to be used as a reward, it should be in a way that the dog enjoys, such as stroking the dog’s hair on the side of his face in the same direction that it grows, or scratching him on the chest. Note: Petting on top of the head is not appreciated by most dogs.

    6. Timing of the reward is important. After a correct response, reward your dog within ½ second of the command to ensure that your dog makes the connection between his behaviour and the reward.

    7. Use short commands such as sit, down, leave it, quiet, out, and off. Say the word once. Do not repeat the command. Dogs will remember a command for about two minutes before the notion is lost. Shorter words are better than longer words and words that end in a hard consonant (C, K, T, X) are better than those that end in a vowel because you can “spit” them out.

    The only command that should have three sounds associated with it is come. In this case, you first have to attract the dog’s attention by saying his name, ROVER, then COME (the actual command word) and GOOD BOY, even before the dog comes so that he knows he is not in trouble. Make sure your tone is crisp and cheerful.

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Bio-Hacking your Dogs Health

New Research Into Managing Chronic Inflammation In Dogs

Managing-Chronic-Inflammation-1.jpg

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.

figures-for-inflammation-01-1

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.

figures-for-inflammation02-02-1

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.

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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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