My Evolving Opinion on the Speuter.

My very first blog post on WordPress was about spaying and neutering your pet. Let me say, I still believe in it. I believe the average pet dog owner isn’t knowledgable or attentive enough to mind their dog and keep them from reproducing. With that said, I am also a huge proponent of education regardless of opinion. My opinion doesn’t matter when it comes to your dog. You are the one who lives with and needs to handle your pet. I just ask if you keep it intact, you keep it from breeding unless you know what you’re doing.

Unfortunately, most people don’t think like I do and for most of my life I was fed a one sided opinion on spays and neuters. My normal was having dogs who were altered between twelve weeks and six months of age, for their “health” and to keep them from breeding. No mind being paid to the extent of the surgery or risks associated. It was just how it is. I needed to go out on my own, do my own research and meet people with a completely different background in order to hear the other side of things. Between what I learned on my own and evolving opinions in the veterinary world, my opinion has changed. Now, I will not have my dogs spayed or neutered until at least a year of age.

New studies are showing there is actually a detriment to the health of dogs who are spayed or neutered too early. Specifically joint disorders and cancers are a focus because neutering removes male and female sex hormones that play an important role in physical maturation such as closure of bone growth plates.

Results from a study funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation to research early spay/neuter in Golden Retrievers:

  • Showed an increased occurrence of hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, mast cell tumors, and canine cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture in neutered dogs.
  • The risk of hip dysplasia doubles and is occurring at an earlier age in neutered dogs.
  • No occurrence of CCL disease was observed in intact male or intact female dogs, or in late-neutered females. In early-neutered dogs, the incidence of CCL was 5.1 percent in males and 7.7 percent in females. This finding suggests that neutering prior to sexual maturity significantly increases a dog’s risk of developing CCL disease.
  • Cases of lymphoma were three times greater in early neutered males. (But cases of mast-cell tumors and hemangiosarcoma were higher in late-neutered groups)

A study published in the Veterinary Medicine and Science journal concentrated on German Shepherd dogs and found:

  • 7% of intact males were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders where 21% for males who were neutered before 12 months of age.
  • 5% of intact females were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders where and females spayed before 12 months of age was 16%.
  • Urinary incontenince was found in NO intact females and 7% of females spayed before 12 months of age.
  • Mammary cancer was diagnosed in 4% of intact females but less than 1% of early spayed females.

In a paper written by Laura J. Sanborn M.S. she outlines the long term effects of a spay and neuter.

Pros of neuter in male dogs:

  • eliminates risk of testicular cancer
  • reduces risk of non-cancerous prostate disorders
  • reduces risk of perianal fistulas
  • possibly reduces risk of diabetes

Cons of neuter in male dogs:

  • when done before 1 year of age, significantly increases the risk of bone cancer.
  • triples the risk of hypothyroidism
  • increases the risk of progressive geriatric cognitive impairment
  • increases the risk of hemangiosarcoma
  • QUADRUPLES the small risk (<0.6%) of prostate cancer
  • doubles the risk (<1%) of urinary tract cancers
  • increases the risk of orthopedic disorders
  • increases risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations

Pros of spay in female dogs:

  • done before 2.5 years in age, greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors
  • almost eliminates the risk of pyometra (which affects about 23% of all intact females and kills 1% of intact female dogs)
  • reduces the risk of perianal fistulas
  • removes risk of uterine, cervical, and ovarian tumors

Cons of spay in female dogs:

  • done before 1 year of age, significantly increases risk of bone cancer
  • increases the risk of splenic hemangiosarcoma and cardiac hemangiosarcoma. This is a common cancer and a major cause of death in some breeds.
  • triples the risk of hypothyroidism
  • causes urinary “spay incontinence” in 4-20% of female dogs
  • increases risk of persistent or recurring urinary tract infections
  • increases risk of recessed vulva, vaginal dermatitis, and vaginitis, especially for females spayed before puberty
  • doubles small risk (<1%) of urinary tract tumors
  • increases risk of orthopedic disorders
  • increases risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations

Sanborn goes on to explain these findings in great detail, you can find her paper here.

All in all it is a personal decision to be made. My goal was only to provide as much information as I can so the public can make educated decisions. The great spay/neuter debate was very one sided for a very long time for most people, especially in the United States. Most people still believe that spaying and neutering is the only option and not doing this makes you a bad dog owner. No, being a bad dog owner makes you a bad dog owner. 

I still very much stand by neutering your pets. Like I mentioned, most pet owners are not equipped with the knowledge, time or energy to manage an unaltered animal without incident. At the end of the day, animals will be animals and if you aren’t minding your female when she is in heat, accidents happen. As an animal rescue advocate, I see there are far too many animals without homes to advocate that most people NOT neuter their animals at any point. The more I read about spays and neuters, the more I learn. There is no longer just a “neuter”/”spay” or “keep intact”. There are more options!

  • Ovariectomy, or the removal of just the ovaries. Some veterinarians are offering this as an alternative and are able to perform the procedure laparoscopically, significantly reducing the post-operative complications. This option is not quite as common in the U.S. and is more expensive.
  • Ovary Sparing Spay, or a partial spay. This surgery removes the uterus and leaves the ovaries and the hormones behind. This surgery removes the bleeding during heats, greatly reduces or eliminates the risk of pyometra, and eliminates the risk of unwanted pregnancy. Ovarian cancer and mammary cancer are still a concern, but are a very low risk whether the dog is fully intact or undergoes a OSS. Again, this procedure will be more expensive than your average spay.
  • Vasectomy, or the cutting of the vas deferens, which effectively prevents reproduction but the dog keeps his testicles. Therefore keeps his testosterone. This procedure is significantly less invasive and has post-op risks, but again, will probably be more expensive. I would imagine it’d be more difficult to find a Vet to perform the procedure as well because it is less common.

 

Finally, I want to address behavioral concerns. Many trainers and behaviorists believe spaying and neutering before sexual maturity reduces the chances of behavioral issues. Sometimes that may be the case, but most of the time I don’t think it is. Studies are actually showing dogs who were altered early demonstrate more anxious and aggressive behaviors than intact dogs! I have a rescue who was neutered before 8 weeks and is littered with behavioral problems. I have a dog who was neutered as a puppy who is an exceptional dog. I’ve met intact dogs who are more well behaved than 90% of other dogs I’m in contact with and I’ve met intact dogs who are absolute jerks. A male dog with more testosterone may be more testy and stubborn, but overall it won’t make a difference. I cannot agree with surgically altering an animal for the sole reason that the owner isn’t equipped to handle a “possibly” more difficult dog. And by more difficult I mean barely. The one thing I will say is that many times two intact males will not get along, but dogs don’t need doggy buddies. Your dog doesn’t need to be friendly with other dogs to be an exceptional pet and friend.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to alter your pet falls to you. Personally, I will be leaving my dogs intact until they are at least 18 months of age when I have the choice. (AKA it’s not a rescue.) I may never alter, I may just do it late. It will be many years before we welcome a new puppy into our home so I have time to decide. What I do know, is it will be a decision made after many hours of my own research. Truthfully, what is best for the dogs needs to be not only taken into account, but be the most important aspect of the decisionmaking. I do not mean don’t alter your animals, I just mean discuss the pros and cons with your veterinarian. Do your research and come to a decision for your specific situation and your specific pet. Do what is best for not only you but your animal as well.

Tail wags and puppy kisses!

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Children and Dog Bites

“-The odds that a dog bite victim will be a child are 3.2 to 1. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention )
-Severe injuries from dog bites is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years.
-Three quarters of dogs involved in bite incidents belong to the victim’s family or a friend.
-The majority of dog attacks (61%) happen at home or in a familiar place.
-When a child less than 4 years old is the victim, the family dog was the attacker half the time (47%), and the attack almost always happened in the family home.
-The face (lips, nose and cheeks) of children under 10-years-old are the most frequent target of a dog bite (77% of all injures).
-The odds that a victim of a fatal dog attack will be a burglar are 1 in 177. The odds that it will be a child are 7 in 10.” (safetyarounddogs.org)

How do we fix this? Education. As an owner or parent/guardian it is our responsibility to monitor 100% of interactions between children and dogs, whether that is your family pet or a strange dog. Along with monitoring interactions we must:
Socialize our dogs with children from a young age. Many dogs are intimidated by our tiny humans because they are eye level, loud and energetic.
Teach our children appropriate interactions with dogs. Don’t allow a child to take advantage of a dog who is exhibiting extreme patience. No ear pulling, sitting on, jumping on, pulling tails, etc. No Max doesn’t “love it”. I promise.
Be aware of your surroundings when you are out and about. Especially in an area where there is a high population of stray dogs. If you see one, call your local animal control. If a neighbor has a dog who isn’t the friendliest and the dog has a tendency to wander, call your local animal control.
-While you’re out walking with YOUR dog, unless your dog is 100% comfortable, do not let unknown kids greet him/her. A dog who cannot flee because they are on leash could feel the need to lash out to defend himself. Our Erni loves HIS child and children he’s regularly exposed to, strange children make him incredibly nervous.
Do not let children chase your dog, if the dog wants to interact with the child it will approach them. A dog will only flee a situation for so long, if fleeing isn’t working they will try another approach. Usually this approach involves teeth and claws.
– If you are having people over and those people do not follow your training protocol or the children are less than respectful around dogs, Fido can be put away where he will be safe and so will the kids. Being “bummed” about not being able to play with the dog will heal much faster than a dog bite wound.
-Be mindful of an older or sleeping dog. If a dog is startled they can instinctually go into “fight or flight” and defend themselves. Never let your children wake a sleeping dog.
Never let your children ride, sit or jump on your dogs, for not only your child’s safety but for the safety of the dog as well. They are hardy animals but being jumped on hurts them, too!
NEVER allow your child into your dog’s crate/kennel, especially if the dog is also in there. That is your dog’s safe space and should stay that way, not to mention in case of an emergency you have limited access to get to your child quickly. Even the most well rounded animal can be uncomfortable with their space being invaded in close quarters.
Watch dogs at play. An overly playful or excitable dog can also pose a threat to the safety of children, especially young children. The dog can jump on children or be especially mouthy leading to injuries. More worrisome, when a dog is in an escalated state of mind, or very excited, it isn’t uncommon that they will redirect their energy or exhibit an unusual behavior. By this I mean they could resource guard the ball they have been chasing or “tiff” with other family dogs. This is why those of you with multiple dogs can see your dogs go from playing well to a scuffle in a blink of an eye. So be mindful of children while dogs are playing, whether they play with each other or fetch/tug with their owner. The last thing anyone wants is a child to get caught up between two 60lb dogs.
Know at LEAST a little dog body language. Understand stress signals from your dog so you can tell when they are reaching their threshold. Even the most tolerant and patient dog has a snapping point, it is your job to intervene before it gets to that point. Some stress signals include:
-yawning
-heavy panting
-lip/nose licking
-frequent full body shake-off
-“whale eye” or you can see the whites of their eyes
-Avoidance whether that be “looking away” or the dog keeps turning their head from the child OR the dog has removed himself from the situation several times.
-growling
-baring teeth
-ears pinned flat back
-excessive shedding
-tension in face, especially the eyes/mouth
-tail tucked between legs or held very low
-dilated pupils
-carrying weight more on back paws
-sweating from paws
-especially slow and tense movements or especially quick movements
-low body posture
-not attentive to owner
Each of the above listed stress signals do not individually mean your dog is overly stressed, but if your dog is exhibiting several of these behaviors simultaneously then it’s safe to say your dog is stressed and wants to be removed from the situation.

Dogs cannot speak english, they are not humans, they cannot verbally communicate “please leave me alone”.  It is our responsibility as adults/owners to know our dogs and their body language well enough to be able to be the bridge in communication between children and dogs. We need to step in when the dog is overwhelmed because a whale eye and growl can turn into a snap very quickly, and in this case it wouldn’t be the fault of the dog’s. By giving any of the above signals he has clearly communicate that he is uncomfortable and wants to be left alone.

Dogs can be AMAZING additions to our families, but lets keep them and our children all safe! Tail wags to all!

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Toys.

Toys. One of the number one things I am asked about as a trainer. What kinds? Why won’t Fido play with this toy? How do I get Precious to stop chewing up all of the toys? Why do they chew the chair/my shoes/pillows/carpeting/me when they have a WHOLE BOX of toys?!

99% of the time, my response is actually a question. Where are the toys located? And the response is usually: “Well Poochie has a toy box in the livingroom where she will go and pick what she wants…” Well, therein lies the problem. (Note: While, boredom is the most common reason for chewing, it is not the only reason.)

In many ways, dogs are just like children. We hear people call their dogs “fur babies” and “children” they’re not totally wrong! “Mommy, I’m bored!” We’ve all heard it… and we’ve all wondered how this child is possible bored with a playroom full of great toys. Just like that child, if your dog has 24/7 access to toys they are going to get bored with them, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t have expendable income to just go out and buy a new toy everyday! The solution: pick the toys up and only offer your dog a select few during “play time”. Then when playtime is over, put them away. My dogs have stuffed animals they have long since destroyed, leaving only the skins of the poor christmas characters… but when I pull these lifeless, tattered skins from the box, they still go nutty and play with them like its a brand new toy, straight from the packaging!

Now, an under-stimulated dog is often a destructive dog. Not only can they become destructive, but if your dog is not mentally engaged they can begin to show behavioral problems such as aggression and anxiety. Play time isn’t only for fun, it’s also a great way to strengthen your bond as well as stimulate your pup.

There are basically two general types of toys; isolation and interactive.

Isolation toys are toys that your pup will play with alone. These are things like the Kong, meaty bones, Nylabones, treat puzzles, etc. Toys that your dog will enjoy alone. While we are talking about this, I never recommend rawhide in any situation, ever. There are many healthier, safer alternatives. Rawhide, especially the bleached rawhide is unhealthy. It’s not uncommon rawhide bones have trace chemicals in it, IE BLEACH. Beside it lacking in the nutrition department, its also dangerous. Often when dogs chew rawhide, they rip of large chunks and swallow it. Depending on the size of the piece, it can get stuck at any point in the dog’s digestive tract and cause a major, expensive problem.

Interactive toys are the kind that require another dog or human to make it fun and stimulating. Things like balls, rope toys, a flirt pole, stuffed animals, frisbees, etc. These toys should only be given to your dog when they have a playmate, whether it be canine or human, for maximum play potential and for safety. We have all picked up the fluff from a murdered Teddy, and that fluff ingested can cause blockages which is a very pricey and potentially painful surgery. A client, just this last week, asked why rope toys are in the interactive category because she was told they “floss” the dog’s teeth if they are allowed to chew it. While I admit, I don’t know whether the flossing theory is true or not, I do know the rope can shed and be ripped apart into smaller, swallowable pieces. These pieces can collect and cause a major blockage. Now, I don’t mean to make the average pet owner fear these toys for they can be incredibly fun for your dog (Who doesn’t love a game of tug?), I simply mean to educate and hopefully help you to avoid some pricey vet bills and potential heartache.

I recommend that dogs are always monitored while playing with toys and the toys are regularly checked over for damages and sharp, broke, ripped or dangerous pieces.

Here are some fun ways to use toys you may have or to even make some homemade toys:

  • A fun summer treat using the Kong is to clog the small end with peanut butter, freeze it. Once the peanut butter is frozen, you can fill the kong with broth of your choosing and again, freeze it. I recommend giving this toy outside for it can become quite the mess, but it will keep your pooch busy for some time.
  • Many dogs enjoy water bottles as toys, something about the crinkle! If you have a large tube sock, you can put an empty water bottle inside and your dog will love it! (Note: when giving dogs water bottles, remove the top as it is small and easily ingested!)
  • Cut up old jeans and tie multiple knots.
  • Take a muffin tray, hide treats in half of the holes and fill the entire tray with tennis balls. The dog will have to lift the ball out to find the treat hidden underneath!
  • A fun game I tell my clients to try is to hide small treats all over your house. Initially you want to lead your dog to the first few treats, but after they get the hang of it, the game can give them something to do while you are at work!
  • Cut a straight line in tennis balls and fill it with treats. Make sure its not a circular hole, but a slit so the dog has to really work to retrieve the treats.
  • Cut old t-shirts, or any material really, into strips and braid them, making a fun, homemade rope toy.
  • Pup-sickles! Get a homemade popsicle tray and fill it with broth, then take bully sticks and stick them in before letting them freeze! A fun, refreshing treat. (You can also use milkbones as the “popsicle stick”!)
  • Lots of dogs LOVE to play with old soccer or basketballs! If your child has outgrown his or her sport, your pup certainly has not!

 

There are many other ways to make fun toys for your dog, I could go on forever. Please comment if you have any other awesome suggestions and feel free to contact me with any questions!

 

 

*May that pesky mailman finally get the hint! Tail wags and puppy kisses.* 

The Truth About Doggy Daycare

First, let me say that I love my job. I believe in what my mentor/employer is doing and I am blessed to be able to work with her. She had a pet sitting business for many years but when she saw what was happening in doggy boarding and daycare facilities she was unhappy with it, so she opened her own facility to set the standard. The thing is, it’s working. Other facilities in the area, even large country-wide chains, are changing the way they do things. Now, beyond believing in her vision, the experience and knowledge I am gaining from simply watching different dogs and different breeds interact and play is invaluable. With all of that said, there is so much the average owner simply doesn’t know about what happens when they drop their dog off. I’ve seen things firsthand in the facility where I work as well as heard the many, many stories from clients as well as previous employees from other facilities!

What you first need to understand about these facilities is that they aren’t necessary. Sure, its nice to have somewhere to board your dog when you travel but your dog does not need doggy daycare.

“But dogs are pack animals and they need doggy friends!”  While dogs SHOULD be well socialized as youngsters so they aren’t aggressive or nervous around other canines, they do not need to play at a daycare. Not only are the dogs at a facility not a pack, domestic dogs do not need a pack like wolves do. YOU and other dogs in the home are their pack. A pack is a structured hierarchy where there is a level of respect and a family-like dynamic, they know the leader, they know each other. You wouldn’t consider children at a human daycare siblings, right?

The pros of doggy daycare:

I have no interest in turning everyone off of using facilities with their dogs, that is not my goal here. There ARE good things about it! First and foremost being, your dog is gonna be tired. This must be the number one reason people bring their dogs, they use the socializing as a way to burn off their dog’s energy so they can enjoy the cute and cuddly side of their pooch, and lets be honest… we all prefer the pup snugs instead of the crazy, jumping dog when you walk into your house.

If GOOD doggy daycare is consistently and correctly used from puppyhood, it makes for a well-socialized pup. Socializing is important for so many reasons. One, someday you might want another dog! If your dog isn’t already socialized with other dogs… and is now aggressive, good luck getting a new one! What if someday you need to re-home your dog for whatever reason? Take it from me, it is hard to find a new home for a dog aggressive dog. A dog aggressive dog is also a liability… if your dog were to ever escape the yard and injure another pup walking by… YOU are responsible for that. As the owner it is your responsibility to socialize your dog from the moment you purchase/adopt it.

Some(by some I mean few) facilities employ very knowledgable staff, as in trainers, behaviorists, rescuers, etc, who know enough about canines to be able to modify your dog’s behavior and help them become comfortable around other dogs. This is the exception, not the rule, but nevertheless it is a definite pro. If you have rescued a dog who has some dog anxiety or aggression issues, it is possible it can be helped… with the right guidance and knowledgable people to help.

The cool thing about doggy daycares with knowledgable animal people is if you don’t know much about dogs, they can catch things you wouldn’t. There are many times where myself or my co-workers notice something about the dogs coming in and are able to share it with the owner. Whether it be odd behavior from a dog that we see almost daily, or injuries, or an illness, or a large dog growing incorrectly because of genetics or something… anything abnormal, we would be able to notice and bring to an owner’s attention. We even have a couple clients with dogs who have genetic diseases who come in so we can monitor them for their hard-working owners.

Now the cons:

Most facilities DONT have knowledgable staff and think about it, it is extremely costly to have vet techs, behaviorists, trainers, etc on staff. The reality is most employees for doggy daycares are high school kids looking for a short term job. Most places just employ them, throw them in the yard with sometimes up to 80 dogs and say “have at it!”, some will show a couple hour course about doggy body language then send them on their way with good luck wishes, only a small few facilities have career animal people as employees. Which employees would you want watching over your dog?

Over-escalation is a huge problem in these facilities. To understand this, you need to understand the canine brain which we break up into three parts, fore, mid and hind brain. We will focus on fore and hind. Forebrain is where your dog is when you are working through your obedience cues and he is thinking, hindbrain is where your dog is when the mailman comes or they are chasing the squirrel in the backyard. An over-escalated dog is in hindbrain. When they are in hindbrain they are essentially taken back to their roots and are in a purely instinctual state of mind, fight or flight. This is why a dog who has just been hit by a car could bite his owner even though he is the sweetest dog on the planet who wouldn’t hurt a fly in normal circumstances. When a dog is playing they begin to escalate, they get wound up and start teetering on that edge between normal behavior and escalated behavior. A rough playing dog can go from a body slamming good time to snapping and “aggressing” at their playmate within just a few seconds. With ill educated employees, that is terrifying. Over-escalation is the cause of most fights in facilities and if you do not know enough about dog behavior or body language to be able to recognize the dogs’ escalation levels and react accordingly by giving the dog a break or stepping into the play to redirect the attention, you will have a fight on your hands. From what I’ve heard from friends who were once employed by other (well-known) facilities, there were times they were breaking up fights sometimes six times a day, mostly just because of pure volume of dogs in the yard at one time and lack of humans to monitor it.

Dogs do learn from each other just as much as the learn from their owners. That is one reason why most will recommend leaving a puppy with its littermates for at least eight weeks, they learn valuable body language and behavior from one another. Anyone with multiple dogs can attest that dogs pick behaviors up from each other. My Erni didn’t bark until he was almost 10 months old and he learned it from a female I was fostering for a short time. Now, even after she has found her home, he barks. Quite the alert dog, he is. In facilities this can be problematic. Dogs can learn to jump, dogs can learn to bark, to resource guard, push through doorways, react at crate/kennel doors, etc.

 

Your dog can be hurt. Anyone who tells you that your dog could not possibly be harmed is not being truthful. Just like children at daycare or in school, your dogs can come home with scratches from another dog while they played, scraped paw pads, a limp from being jumped on, scratched face from trying to escape a crate, its even possible your dog was the victim of an over-escalated dog and was bit. It does happen. And anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Now, I’ve gone on and on about the dangers and compared facilities. Some are good and some are bad. But how do you know? How do you pick a good from a bad facility? First, you need to trust your gut. I know many dog owners are not very knowledgable, so it could be difficult to feel like you can truly make an educated decision, but you can definitely trust your intuition. If you feel like something doesn’t add up or you don’t feel comfortable, do not leave your dog there. Do not let someone talk you into something you are uncomfortable with because they sound like they know more than you because, it’s possible they don’t know much more than you! Be weary of facilities where your dog isn’t given the opportunity to rest. Just like children, our dogs need a chance to settle down and relax. They need to have down time just like they need to be able to play. ASK what kind of training the employees receive before they are working with the dogs because it is important. Just having a dog at home is not enough experience to be the single human in a yard with 35-80 dogs.  Ask where your dog goes if they are overwhelmed, where they can go to have their own space in case the yard is too over-stimulating for them. Ask how the dogs are introduced to group, if they respond “on leash” LEAVE. It’s one thing to have a dog on leash with it dragging behind them just in case, its another to introduce dogs face to face on a tight leash, if they don’t know what that does to a dog behaviorally, they do not know enough to leave your dog there. If they say that they just throw the dog in the yard, LEAVE. Having cameras for the owners doesn’t mean much, either. Like I mentioned before, if you don’t have the knowledge you can’t really tell what is happening on those videos. For example, if you’re watching you see a dog resting, I see that cute Golden Retriever laying in the corner as a terrified, over stimulated dog in the wrong playgroup. If they will allow you in the yard with your dog to watch them play, LEAVE. A dog will ALWAYS behave differently when their owner is around. It is dangerous for you, your dog and the other dogs for you to enter the yard to watch play at any point in time. If possible, find a facility where there are SMALL play groups rotated throughout the day. Ours has a 15 dog max per playgroup, but most of the time the groups hover around 6 to 8 dogs. 35-80 dogs is simply too many dogs to ensure as much physical, mental and emotional safety as possible.

If anyone would like to inquire further about doggy daycare facilities, facility names, horror stories, or alternatives to daycare feel free to contact me. I am more than open to answering any questions anyone may have or even advising anyone on where to take their dog.

 

Licks to everyone!

 

Doggie CPR

Let’s start with the five W’s.

Who? The CPR’s of Dog Training was brainstormed by Deborah Vitale owner of Pawsitive Performance and Beaches Pet Resort & Training Facility in St. Clair Shores, MI. Please do not take this and relay or repost without giving her appropriate credit, please and thank you!

What? CPR stands for consistency, patience, and repetition.

Where? Anywhere!

When? Every time you work with your dog!

Why? The most important. Why is CPR so important? Because it will save your dog’s life. Does that sound dramatic? It really, truly shouldn’t. One of the most common reasons people re-home or surrender their pet is because of difficulties when it comes to their training. They’re “rude” and jump, steal food from children, wont potty train, counter surf, etc and the frustration eventually leads the owner to a crossroad: find a good trainer or get rid of the dog.  Even if you never want to surrender or re-home, a dog that has not be properly trained can be a danger to himself by: escaping the yard, running into the street, not responding to “come”, etc. Remembering CPR will contribute to a respectful, positive relationship between you and your furry partner as well as ensure maximum potential for learning and growth.

Now, we will break down CPR!

Consistency: This is so incredibly important. First, let me address that for most people, they only want a pet. This means that training doesn’t go beyond basic obedience and they just want a well behaved animal in their home. So the “old school” idea that there should be one master and one person working with the dog is not applicable here. When you move on to advanced training where you are competition level, it’s possible that you may want a primary trainer, but for most people you want a dog who will listen and respond to not only everyone in the house, but other people who may need to interact with your dog. So consistency, everyone in the home and out of the home needs to be on board with your dog’s training. If cousin Sally is coming over and you have been working your butt off to break Max’s jumping habit, Sally needs to understand and respect the expectations you have set for your dog. “Oh I don’t mind he jumps on me!” Sure. But I DO MIND and your five year old nephew that you babysit on Thursdays DOES mind. Sally doesn’t live with the dog, you do. For every one person who allows your dog to jump on them rudely, your training to break this habit is taking five steps back. If you have a particularly persistent friend who just refuses to help you train your dog, don’t feel obligated to subject your dog to being set up for failure. Put your dog in his crate or away while this friend is over. Do NOT feel obligated to allow this person to interact with your dog unless you want them to! Dogs do not think in shades of gray, they are black and white. Consistency is key.

Patience: “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” ― A.A. Milne. The relationship between you and your dog is not a sprint, it is very much a marathon. Training doesn’t have an expiration date and old dogs can learn new tricks! You have a whole lifetime with your dog, use the time you have to the fullest. Just like humans, dogs learn at different paces. You need to remember that your dog does not speak the same language as humans. They do not know English. Not only do you need to teach the command, you need to teach your dog what the command means. So, you need to take your time! Allow your dog to make mistakes because, everyone makes mistakes. We don’t expect perfection from our children all the time, why would you expect it from an animal? If your patience is running thin one day, back track and go over a command he well knows, end on a good note and walk away. Be done. When you get frustrated, so does your dog and no one benefits from this.

Repetition: How does ANYONE learn anything? Repetition. We re-write our spelling words in elementary school five times each for memorization. We practice riding our horses daily for muscle memory. We can still sing every word to our favorite song from high school because we’ve listened to it seven thousand times on repeat.

 

Now go out and do some CPR!

The Speuter.

It’s a beautiful spring day, your Poochie Poo is due for her booster shots and you need new Heartworm Preventative, so off to the vet you go! You’ve noticed her gaining weight the last couple of weeks but you haven’t thought much of it since you haven’t been taking her out on walks much anyways!

You arrive at the clinic and sit to wait for the tech to come in and get you guys started. A few minutes pass and then she has come to take Poochie’s weight, before she walks her out to the scale she runs her hands over her swollen belly and looks puzzled.

“Has Poochie been bred?” She asks and you respond with an “of course not!” The tech walks out to get the vet and sure enough, he confirms that Poochie Poo is expecting!

“But how?!” You wonder out loud… Well… turns out that Fido from down the street can scale a fence with ease and since his owners are irresponsible too, you’re gonna be a grandparent!

Now I want to do some math with you. Let’s say Poochie has six surviving puppies, three male and three female, and you sell them to more people who don’t believe in alteration. Those three females can have a litter of six or more TWICE PER YEAR for most of their life… So lets say each one has just five litters in their life of six puppies. Thirty. Thirty dogs from one puppy. Those females that just popped out of your bitch produced NINETY OF THEIR OWN. What if those 90 aren’t altered? Those 90 aren’t even taking the three male dogs into consideration… they can breed almost daily… Impregnating all sorts of females. THIS is why there are so many dogs in shelters, on the streets, sick and dying homeless. It may sound like a stretch but this HAPPENS. Not only does it happen, it happens OFTEN. Your dog doesn’t need to be an outdoor dog who dug a hole to breed, they don’t have to escape your yard, things happen, they are animals and if given the chance, they can and will breed.

Now what if Poochie couldn’t birth on her own and you must go in for not only a c-section but an EMERGENCY c-section! Now we are talking thousands and thousands of dollars, not to mention the vetting for the puppies before they are re-homed!

 

Now for the responses to “you should spay/neuter!”

“But I don’t want to take my dog’s BALLS away!” 

He wont miss them! I swear! Probably wont even know what happened, wont notice. In fact, your male dog can actually be less anxious if they are neutered, he wont have to worry about, lets call it… “performance pressure” (lol). A neutered dog also wont have testicular cancer and the chances of prostate cancer are reduced. Altered male dogs can have more predictable and manageable behavior, there is less of a chance of other dogs being reactive and aggressive towards him.

Female dogs certainly don’t miss their parts, no one enjoys a period and one that lasts a MONTH we would enjoy even less! Your unspayed female will be susceptible to Pyrometra, which is a fatal uterine infection, along with cancers of the reproductive system. Not even considering the immense risks she faces during pregnancy and birth of her puppies. Speuter please.

“But someday I want a little baby him!”

This response is always the most worrisome to me. If you are not well versed enough in the world of dog behavior to know that you will never have a dog identical to the one you are hoping to duplicate, you have no business breeding. No two dogs are the same, your situation when you got the first dog and your situation when that dog is birthing this puppy is not the same. Your life will not be identical. The raising will not be identical. And while genetics do contribute to personality, you will never have another dog like that one. Why would you set the puppy up to fail? And chances are you will be extremely disappointed by the puppy and it will do nothing but make both of your lives more difficult. Speuter please.

“I want to earn the money back that I paid for him…”

Stop. Please do us all a favor and find someone to take your animals and never own one again. Don’t get me wrong, there is money to be made in the animal world. BUT breeding to make money isn’t the way to make money. The ONLY reason you should be breeding your animal is to better the breed overall. Reputable breeders come closer to breaking even on breeding than actually profiting from it. Before breeding your dog you should get a full health check done on both the male and female, hips, eyes, blood panel, etc. That alone can be pricey, but then we are going to add pregnancy vet care, the supplements for the mama, the special foods, etc. Now, lets add whelping supplies to the bill. NOW, lets imagine something happens during birth and you need to pay for an emergency c-section. Now what if, god forbid, all of the puppies pass away. You’re now a few grand in the hole and you look like a fool. Speuter please.

“She wants to be a mother…”

Oh really?! Did she tell you that? Speuter please.

 

All in all, just don’t breed. If you need any more incentive to not breed, go for a walk through your nearest Shelter. If you want to be REAL hardcore, go take a stroll through the closest KILL shelter near you. The kind of shelter where you can feel death as you pull up and those dogs who fill those kennels must LIVE there for the remainder of their life unless they are adopted. But who will adopt that dog(who is only 16 months old and would make an exceptional therapy dog because his temperament is extraordinary) when you are offering a backyard bred Poochie Poo/Fido mix? No one. So the three day hold ends and the shelter worker goes back, slips a lead around his neck and leads him to the back room where he will be put to sleep because dogs are so vastly overbred and they need the kennel for the next stray they pick up.