Candle dangers

While this topic does not directly relate to animals or our pets, I felt it was important to post. House fires can kill both people and pets. Please check out the link. House fires can cause forest fires and harm wildlife. Thank you to Wes Keller DCNR for sending me this link.

http://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Top-fire-causes/Candles

How high sugar affects memory in animals and people

Although this article is not specifically about animals, I thought it was important enough to include on my blog site.

A research team from the University of Georgia has conducted a study about how sugar affects the brain. I have quoted part of the article below. Based on this research I would caution pet owners, especially those people who have puppies that are slated to be working dogs, to watch the dog’s sugar intake. We do not know how this finding affects other animals. People who have younger children should be especially careful since they tend to share their treats with their pets which could significantly raise the pet’s sugar level.

“New research led by a University of Georgia faculty member in collaboration with a University of Southern California research group has shown in a rodent model that daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages during adolescence impairs performance on a learning and memory task during adulthood. The group further showed that changes in the bacteria in the gut may be the key to the sugar-induced memory impairment.”

GPS Tracker for dogs

I was given an article to use for my blog site by Your Dog Advisor and it think it is a great article. Unfortunately, it is too long for my blog. I urge you to go to their link and read the whole article. It is very informative.

Global Positioning System or GPS made for dogs is a way to track your dog’s activity, and/or location. There are many kinds of GPS devices and this article explains, with excellent photos, the types available. Many people in K9 SAR use them to show where their dog has searched in an area.

The canine GPS system is critical if your dog gets lost. The GPS can locate your dog for you. Many times, a dog that is lost will wander or will hide if they are frightened. A small dog can be hidden under debris or brush within a few feet of where you are looking. If they are frightened, they may not come out even for their owner.

In all environments, rural, suburban and urban, it is almost impossible to search every place where a dog could go. It is time consuming and manpower intensive. The GPS tracker will allow you to find your dog quickly.

Here is a list of topics that the article covers. I strongly urge you to click on the link and read their article.

What is a Dog GPS Tracker?

How Does a Dog GPS Tracker Work?

Are There Different Types of Dog GPS Trackers Available?

Which Types of Dogs Should Have a Dog GPS Tracker?

Top 6 Dog GPS Tracker Products We Love

Whistle Go & Go Explore Dog GPS and Health Tracker

Tractive LTE GTPS Dog Tracker

PetFon Pet GPS Tracker

Link AKC Smart Dog Collar

4 Pack Smart Pet Finder GPS Tag

Black and Decker 2-Way Audio GPS Dog Tracker

Does a Dog GPS Tracker Take Place of a Microchip?

Other Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe

Sue’s Note: A GPS tracker may also work for a cat if it is small enough.

Cats will play in the snow

          December in many parts of the world often means snow. Almost everyone who is an animal lover knows that most dogs love to play in the snow, but do you know that cats can enjoy the snow too? Many people believe that cats do not like any form of liquid, whether it be a bath, the rain, a swimming pool or even riding in a boat, but there are cats who do find these things fun to do.

          My cat is one of them. It all started when I was shoveling the deck and she saw a chipmunk run from under the bird feeder and dive into the snow. In a moment of excitement, she leaped off the deck and dove into the snow chasing the chipmunk. I stopped my shoveling to see what would happen. It wasn’t long before her head popped up through the snow, the flakes covered her ears, face and nose. She shook herself and started to come back to the deck. But as she walked, tiny snow balls started to cascade down the sides of her path through the snow. She stopped suddenly and pounced on them with both front feet, like cats do.

Playing in the snow chasing little snowballs

          I could see by her body language that she had discovered a new game and was enjoying it very much. She was oblivious to the fact that some of the snow was melting on her body, making her wet.

          As the winter progressed and we got more snow, she decided that she liked to follow me as I did my outdoor chores and pounce on the little balls of snow that slid into my footprints. She also joined the dogs for their romps through the snow. It is quite a sight to see her walk in the paths that they make, ever alert for sliding snow with her tail above the snow, standing straight up with a slight hook at the tip.

          The lesson I learned from this is that a pet of any kind may enjoy playing in circumstances that you would not expect them to like. In the case of my cat or a small dog, I am careful to keep a close eye on them because they could become disoriented in deep snow, become exhausted and not be able to get back to the house. In very windy conditions they may not hear you call, so it is also important to be able to walk to your pet while they play outside in the winter. I have taught my dogs to come to a sheepherding whistle which carries up to a mile.

          It is also important to be sure that your pet does not become too cold.  Dogs will play outside even though they are cold and wet, to the point of shivering, and not want to come indoors. Cats, however, seem to be more willing to come indoors when they get too cold.

          All pets that go for a walk on paved surfaces may have problems with salt, so it is a good idea to wash their feet when they come indoors. A dog can become cold and wet even if you put a dog coat on them.

          The bottom line is, let your pet have the opportunity to experience safe play, even if it is not the type of play that you think they would like. You never know.                 

Breeding dogs part three: types of breeders

The following is the third part in a series of eight articles about breeding dogs. Although it applies to a dog, it also applies to cats. People do not realize that there are cat mills which are similar to puppy mills. Note that these articles are based on my years of experience, my opinion and that I do not intend to refer to any individual. Please read the entire eight articles to glean a full understanding of breeding.

A top quality Havanese puppy

Part Three

There are six types of breeders.

  1. There is the ethical breeder who studies lines and has a goal that they hope to accomplish with a breeding. This goal can be for a litter who has a solid temperament. It could be for conformation showing, for a good working dog and a combination of qualities. It is important to understand that temperament and intelligence are the two qualities that make a dog a good pet or working dog. A dog who meets the conformation standard without a good temperament or intelligence is not a desirable pet or working dog.  

Ethical breeders are typically involved with a breed club or organization that monitors the ethics of the breeder. The ethical breeder does not produce multiple litters at one time and often only has one or two litters a year. They do not breed their dogs before they are tested for inherited issues or are under two years old. The ethical breeder will only breed those dogs who are worthy of breeding having been cleared of inherited issues and has been proven as a good show or working dog. Only exceptional dogs are bred. Ethical breeders work with the puppies from birth to placement so that they are socialized.

Ethical breeders often have waiting lists for puppies because their lines have been proven. They also only line breed or outcross. They rarely if ever inbreed.

The ethical breeder rarely makes a profit from their dogs due to the expenses of raising, testing and proving their dogs. Their litters are consistent in temperament, health and conformation. The ethical breeder will often guarantee the quality of their puppies.

Puppies from an ethical breeder are registered with a recognized registry. In the US this will be either the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club. In some cases, there are breed registries that are recognized as well. There are other registries that will register any type of animal and those that cater to the puppy mills. (See Registries Part 2)

  • The new breeder. Everyone has to start sometime. A small in-home breeder who is being mentored by an experienced breeder can be a quality, ethical breeder. Not every breeder has a large kennel. Most ethical breeders have a number of dogs that live in their house with them as pets. A home-raised puppy from an ethical breeder is the ideal place to get your puppy. The quality of the breeding is not measured by the number of dogs a breeder has, but by the care and goals of the breeder.
  • The commercial breeder mass produces puppies from a limited number of dogs. Their puppies are often registered with a national registry but the care and planning of the lines does not exist. Their goal is to make money so they often shortcut the testing and care of their dogs including the puppies. Their puppies are not from proven stock, are not consistent in temperament, health and conformation. These breeders will produce the breeds that are popular and likely to sell. They often produce a number of different breeds.
  • The puppy mill breeder. These people breed solely for profit. The dogs are often kept in cages and rarely given attention. They are not part of the family but viewed as livestock. They do no testing or planning and have no goals except to produce puppies and make money. Often these puppies are not pure and are not registered or if they are, they are registered with a non-recognized organization that supports puppy mills.

These puppies are often not consistent in temperament, conformation and are more prone to health issues.

  • The backyard breeder. This is the person who thinks they can make money from their pet. Due to a lack of understanding about breeding these puppies are one step away from the puppy mill breeder. The parents have no health testing, there is no consistency in the litter since they are randomly bred with no understanding of genetics. Because the backyard breeder does not understand all that is involved in producing and raising a quality dog, they do not take the precautions or socialize the puppies properly.
  • The last type of breeder is a rather recent phenomenon. This is the designer dog breeder. These people take two different breeds and try to create a dog of their own design. There is no consistency in the puppies that result because they do not have a solid goal. One of the excuses these people use is to create an allergy free dog. Because allergies are not a result of dog hair but of dander, this is not possible. All dogs have dander. Unfortunately, since there is no consistent conformation with designer dogs, there is no way other than a DNA test, to prove that the dogs are the mix that the breeder claims. I have had clients come to me with a dog that was supposed to be a Labradoodle and the dog grew up to be a terrier. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee the puppies and the buyer cannot know for certain that they are getting what they paid for. Also, it is unfortunate that these breeders charge as much or more for the mixed breed puppies as a buyer would pay for a well-bred puppy from an ethical breeder. These puppies are not registered or if they are, they are not registered with a recognized organization.

What is also important to consider is that a person who has a well-bred dog from an ethical breeder is not likely to cross this quality dog with another breed. Therefore, by default, many designer dogs are created from less desirable stock, often obtained from puppy mill breeders.

Breeding Dogs Part Two – Registries

The following is the second part in a series of eight articles about breeding dogs. Although it applies to a dog, it also applies to cats. People do not realize that there are cat mills which are similar to puppy mills. Note that these articles are based on my years of experience, my opinion and that I do not intend to refer to any individual. Please read the entire eight articles to glean a full understanding of breeding.

Part Two

Understanding registries is important because who a dog is registered with will give you a clue as to its legitimacy. There are a few types of registries.

  1. Nationally recognized registries. These are established organizations that register purebred dogs. In the United States it would be the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club. In some cases, there are breed registries that are legitimate. The way to determine if a registry is recognized is if other countries or registries accept a dog registered with the organization.
  • Non-recognized registries are those that anyone can establish. In the United States there are registries that cater to puppy mill breeders so that the AKC cannot shut down puppy mill operations.
  • Breed registries are those that are recognized but are designed to register certain types of working dogs. An example would be some of the working stock dog registries.
  • Anything goes registry are those that will register any type of animal for any reason.

Most people who own a pet dog feel that their dog is worth more if it is registered. They only understand that the dog has “papers.” They do not understand the value or uselessness of the papers. The non-recognized registries have used this lack of understanding to legitimize dogs by giving them “papers” that are not recognized by any national or international recognized registry.  

It is important to note that no registry can guarantee the quality of a dog or puppy. They can only guarantee that as reported to them the records have been accurately kept. If the breeder owns both the sire and dam, they can list any dog as the sire and dam of a litter. For example, I had a client who made an appointment for training and told me that he had a Rottweiler. When I questioned him, he assured me that he had AKC papers. When his breeder found out that he was coming to me for training, he admitted that the dog was a Rottweiler/German Shepherd cross, the result of an accidental breeding. Yet the dog had recognized registration papers because the breeder owned both the male and female. The real ethics depends on the honesty of the breeder.

Ethical breeders will only register their dogs with recognized registries.

Breeding dogs (and cats)

The following is the first part in a series of eight articles about breeding dogs. Although it applies to dogs, it also applies to cats. People do not realize that there are cat mills which are similar to puppy mills. Note that these articles are based on my years of experience, my opinion and that I do not intend to refer to any individual. Please read the entire eight articles to glean a full understanding of breeding.

Dempsey

Part One: The Bitch

First it must be said that only the best bitches and males should be bred. The only reason to breed is to better the breed.

Often in my career I have had clients tell me that they wanted to breed their pet dog. In most cases, they have no idea what is involved. It is much more than simply introducing a male and female.

Here are some of the reasons why they feel they want to breed their dog.

  1. To make a lot of money. Often people will pay a substantial amount of money for a puppy. They feel that if they breed their bitch, they will earn eight to ten times that money.
  • It will be good for the children to watch. Whelping puppies is pretty gory and most children cannot handle what is involved. In some cases, it can traumatize a child and if the child is a girl, make her afraid to have children of her own.

If you still want a child to see this, it is better to find a breeder who will let your child get up in the middle of the night to watch the birthing of a litter.

  • We love our dog so much we want another like him/her.  The chances of reproducing your dog are slim to nothing. Genetics is not an exact science and if breeders could control how a dog turns out there would be many more champions and exceptional dogs.
  • Everyone who meets my dog wants a puppy like him/her.  As soon as the litter is born most people find that all of those friends who said they wanted a puppy have excuses as to why they cannot get one now. Breeders who have dogs that are breeding quality have waiting lists for a reason. A home bred or backyard bred dog has no special qualities to warrant the cost.
  • We really love puppies. Raising a litter of puppies is a lot of work and if done right, is very costly.

New understanding of COVID 19

The question came up about why some animals such as cats, dogs and ferrets as well as humans can get the virus but bovine and swine do not. Researchers led by Professor Singh and his team which included Professor Rajinder Dhindsa (McGill University), Professor Baljit Singh (University of Calgary) and Professor Vikram Misra (University of Saskatchewan) decided to explore this question.

What they found is that those animals who can get the virus have two cycteine amino acids while those who do not only have one. This discovery will most likely lead to a cure for the virus. This is exciting news. Please read the whole article for a more in-depth explanation of how this works.

Touch is important for pets and people

A recent study conducted by the University of South Australia explored how important touch is to humans and animals. This phenomenon was recognized in early studies of children in orphanages who fared better with as little as ten minutes of cuddling. Pets fill the need for touch for many people.

The researchers found that during the COVID19 restrictions, more people have adopted pets of all kinds. Even breeders having long waiting lists. Many people have reported that touching a pet gives them comfort. They have even stated that their pets seem to know when they are depressed or sad and will comfort them.

The isolation caused by the virus has brought to light how important touch is to people. In the study lead author Dr. Janette Young stated that physical touch is a sense that has been taken for granted and often overlooked. The isolation due to the virus has brought to light how important touch is to people, their pets fill the void.

Dog training tips 5 Communication with the dog

Teach and Show!

Today we have wonderful methods to teach young puppies. The best method is clicker training. This is a way to communicate exactly what you want the puppy (or older dog) to learn. It is also fun and a great way to motivate a dog to want to work with you. Clicker training is a successful, positive training method. Unfortunately, many people do not understand the technique. Note: although I refer to dogs, clicker training applies to almost all animals. I have clicker trained birds and cats.

Scout finding the missing child (training)

It is very sad that many trainers still use harsh punishment methods that cause pain. Imagine if an instructor gave you a complex mathematical problem and told you to solve it. The teaching method was to jerk a rope around your neck or shock you every time you got it wrong. Eventually you would either get it right or have a complete mental breakdown from fear and frustration. Whether you got it right or wrong, how would feel about mathematics? How willing would you be to do the next problem even if you were rewarded for finally getting it right? How well would you like your instructor?

Because people are deeply bonded to their dogs, they forget that dogs do not speak our language. They have an amazing ability to watch our body language, couple it with what we say and seem to understand. But in reality, they interpret what we do based on canine language and meaning first, even though they can learn what our body and spoken language means.

Dogs love to do things with us. They want to understand us, but we can make it difficult for them. When training a dog, you must teach and show them what you want. You cannot tell them. You must not expect your dog to “get it” immediately. Puppies can be especially frustrating because they may seem to learn quickly but in a short time, sometimes hours, they act as though they forgot the lesson entirely. In reality they have not completely forgotten, they have not had enough time to practice the lesson to have it go from short term memory to long term memory. Life for a puppy and a young dog is fascinating, everything is new, exciting and distracting. It can be hard for them to focus on a lesson. This is no different than it is for young children. Like us, the more a dog learns the easier it is for them to learn new lessons. This is because the young dog has not had enough life experience to relate the new lesson to something he already knows, but the older dog has learned how to learn. They can relate it to other lessons. This is no different than the way people learn. 

Jib alerting that he found someone

If you show your dog what you want and then reward him for doing it, he will be willing and happy to work with you. Most dogs try very hard to do what we want them to do. Each dog has a different personality and drive to obey. Some breeds are not as willing to obey (being biddable) as others. It is important to recognize this. Before you train your dog, be sure to understand the dynamics of his breed. If he is a mixed breed a DNA test will help you understand the genetics that are dictating his behavior.

For example, if there were a flock of sheep in a pasture and a rabbit hidden in the brush. A Border Collie would focus on the sheep even though he knows the rabbit is there. On the other hand, if a Beagle were taken to the field, he would ignore the sheep and focus on the rabbit. This is a simple example of how genetics affects behavior.

Clicker training is a way to communicate to your dog what you want him to do. The click only says “Yes, that is correct.” What is very important to remember about obedience is this: Once a dog is trained and knows what the command is, the ability to obey depends entirely on how well the dog can exercise self-control, not on how well he knows the exercise. Even people have difficulty with self-control. Think about it.

In conclusion keep these points in mind.

  1. Understand the genetics that drive your dog.
  2. Teach and show your dog what you want.
  3. Do not use harsh methods.
  4. Give your dog time to learn what you want.
  5. Obedience depends on self-control–no one is 100%.
  6. Self-control comes with practice.
  7. Puppies need more time to relate to the lessons.
  8. Reliable obedience depends on positive motivation, not fear.