Aggression in dogs

A recent study at the University of Helsinki showed that aggression in dogs toward humans can be attributed to the following:

  1. Fearfulness
  2. Age
  3. Breed
  4. The company of other dogs
  5. Owners previous experience with dogs

They determined that fearfulness had a strong influence on aggressive behavior. They found that older dogs were more likely to be aggressive than younger ones. They attribute this partly to age related pain or discomfort and impairment of their senses such as hearing and sight.

They found that small dogs were more aggressive than medium or large dogs. However, because of their small size people are less likely to feel threatened by a small dog’s aggressive behavior and thus not take measures to cure or prevent it.

The researchers found that males were more aggressive than females and that neutering and spaying had no effect on aggressiveness.

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that first time dog owners with less dog experience were more likely to have aggressive dogs. They also found that dogs who lived with other dogs were less likely to show aggressive behavior. Even though previous research has shown that multiple dog households have less aggression, it is unclear why.

Interestingly, the researchers found that the Long-haired Collie (Lassie type), Poodle (all sizes) and Miniature Schnauzers were the most aggressive breeds leading to the consideration that this is related to genetics. I would like to point out that it seems that the researchers focused on the common pet breeds and did not consider the breeds that are by nature aggressive, but not common pets.

The bottom line is that anyone who is considering getting a dog should thoroughly research the breed and the lines that are available to them in their area. The temperament of a breed can vary from area to area based on the local breeding practices. I offer an informative brochure at no cost about how to select the right dog and the right breeder. Email me at sbulanda@gmail.com for a copy with “brochure” in the subject line.

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.

Mechanical disease-sniffing device vs dogs

A number of researchers from various universities have joined together to try and develop a mechanical device that can rival the scenting ability of dogs to detect diseases in people. No one denies that dogs have a remarkable ability to detect the early stages of disease in humans. But the cost of training the dog and the dog’s length of service makes using them expensive. If scientists can develop a device that can equal a dog’s nose it would reduce a lot of the cost.

What has proven elusive to scientists is that dogs can pick up connections that researchers cannot mimic in a machine. For example, some dogs that have been trained to detect one type of cancer will identify other types of cancer as well. When the researchers tried to determine what the dogs were detecting, they were not able to. The differences were not detectable by current tests. What complicates the problem is that the different cancers that were detected by the dogs do not have any biomolecular signatures in common. The dogs were able to generalize from one kind of cancer to be able to identify others.  

The detection system that has been developed is 200 times more sensitive than a dog’s nose but the machine cannot figure out the elusive patterns that the dog can, that allows the dog to detect various cancers. In other words, the machine cannot think and make the connections. Until the researches solve the mystery, the machine cannot replace the dog.

The important point for people who use dogs for scent detection work is that dogs are capable of analyzing scent in a much more complex way then they have been trained to do. The bottom line is that if your scent dog gives you an indication that does not make sense to you, trust your dog and look further.

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.

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.

Detector Dogs and Scent Movement

Detector Dogs and Scent Movement: How Weather, Terrain, and Vegetation Influence Search Strategies by Tom Osterkamp, published by CRC Press: Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

ISBN:13: 978-0-367-07429-6, 236 pgs. $64.95 USA, £47.99 (GBP), $101.00 (AUS), $113.00 (NZD)

When Mr. Osterkamp asked me to review his book, based on the title I thought it would be just another run-of-the-mill book about scent for SAR dog handlers. I was very wrong. This book is by far the most meticulously researched book that I have read in a long time. It is a collection of scientific material that covers in depth, all search situations regarding scent detection dogs. Each chapter has sub chapters making it easy to find the exact information you need. There is a detailed index, and three appendices, Abbreviations, Acronyms and Questions and Needs for SD (Scent Detection) Training and Deployment.

In his Preface, Mr. Osterkamp says, “This book reviews the scientific literature on scent and scent movement with emphasis on scent movement in outdoor environments. . . . Throughout the book, comments and suggestions are made to show how handlers can use the information in training and deploying search dogs. Several new hypotheses are made about scent and scent movement.”

Although no book can explain how to handle every situation that a SAR dog handler will encounter, Detector Dogs and Scent Movement gives the handler in-depth details that will help the handler make decisions in the field. Mr. Osterkamp has lived up to his statements in the Preface.   

I liked the fact that he included cause and effect situations, for example: “When a dog or handler works harder and longer during a search than during training, the dog is more likely to give a false alert and the handler is more likely to make mistakes.” (pg.46)

Mr. Osterkamp’s writing style is direct and unbiased, presenting scientific studies in a manner that is easy to read and understand. However, this book is not a how to train your dog guide. The material in this book will help the handler understand how scent affects his dog on a search, in training and how to better utilize his dog for the maximum results. The chapters outline potential problems and a summary of the chapter.

There are seven major chapters:

1. Introduction

2. The Dog’s Nose and Scent

3. Scent and Wind

4. Above Ground Searches

5. Buried Sources

6. Water Searches

7. Trails and Trailing

I have to strongly recommend that every scent dog handler and trainer, SAR or other working scent detection K9’s as well as those who use dogs in sports that involve scent work, study this book.

Hemangiosarcoma cancer linked to Bartonella bacteria

Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that dogs who have hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels have high levels of Bartonella bacteria. This leads researchers to believe that there is a connection between persistent infection and/or inflammation and some types of cancer.

Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is an aggressive, deadly cancer that comes from cells lining the blood vessels. It is responsible for two-thirds of all heart or splenic tumors in dogs, and is most common in medium-sized and middle-aged dogs.

What makes this difficult is that the bacteria are found in tumors and tissues but not detectable in blood samples. This indicates that Bartonella can survive undetected within tissue.

I have personally lost two dogs to cancer of the spleen. I hope that the researchers can develop a simple test to detect hemangiosarcoma and the Bartonella bacteria.

Jib, SAR dog who died from cancer of the spleen

Dog Training Tips 4 The age to start training

For a long time, it was believed that you should not start training a dog until he was six months of age. I feel that this came about for a number of reasons. One, trainers did not know how to train a young puppy. Two, people did not have the patience to train a puppy. Three, trainers felt that a dog younger than six months was not mature enough to train. But consider this, from birth a puppy is able to learn. At birth they learn how to nurse, how to sleep with their litter mates and that they have a benefactor, their mother.

As they grow, they learn how to play with each other. If they are raised by a diligent breeder, they learn how to interact with humans. Each week that they grow, they are able to learn more about their environment. They explore, watch, and interact. By eight weeks of age they are able to associate and mentally sort what they experience well enough to start learning things like house-training. The point is, that puppies are very able to learn.

However, they have a very short attention span and seem to forget lessons from one day to the next. In reality they do not forget, they are developing the ability to categorize what they have learned. Even humans will learn something much quicker and easier if they can relate it to something they already know. When people have to learn something totally new, it takes much longer. Dogs are no different than people.

If you wait until a dog is six months old to start training them, you have to undo all of the things they have learned on their own that you do not want. The dog has been learning anyway. It is much easier for the dog and the owner to start training as soon as you bring your cute puppy home. I recommend giving the new puppy a week to adjust to his new environment and you, then using clicker training to teach him his house manners. The main thing is to have patience and realize that it will take longer for the puppy to be reliable, but he will learn. I started training all of my search and rescue dogs at 12 weeks of age. They grew up knowing the job that they had to do.

The key is to understand that each dog will learn at their own pace. You have to be patient because dogs learn the same way as human babies or young children. Training should never physically or mentally hurt the dog. Only reward the behavior you want. In the next Dog Training Tips, I will talk about how to communicate to a dog.

Heavy mixed breed dogs have greater health risks

Benjamin Hart, a professor emeritus at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, did a comprehensive studyon health issues in mixed breed dogs weighing 44 pounds and over. He found that if these dogs were spayed or neutered prior to one year their health risks increased.

Scout SAR training wood pile

The study analyzed 15 years of data from thousands of dogs at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. They found that joint disorders including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament tears, and knee injuries jumped from 4% in intact dogs to 10 – 12% in those neutered or spayed prior to one year.

The problem which the study pointed out, is that when someone adopts or purchases a mixed breed dog as a puppy, they may not know who the parents are and thus will not know for sure how big the dog will get as an adult.

In an earlier study, the scientists determined that health risks due to the age of neutering varied a lot depending upon the breed of dog. In this case the common belief that a mixed breed dog is generally healthier than a purebred does not seem to be the case.

My question is, why is there a difference between mixed breed and purebred if the injuries are a result of weight.

The bigger issues as pointed out in the article is that the common practice of early spay and neuter needs to be reviewed and possibly modified. This is also important information for people who train working dogs.

CBD for dogs

In a study at Baylor College of Medicine the researchers found that giving dogs with arthritis cannabidiol, or CBD brought relief from arthritis. It has also been used to reduce anxiety in dogs. As an aside, I know that when I give it to my dog before a thunderstorm, he is much calmer. It does seem to take about a half an hour to work but it does help.

Scout SAR training wood pile

Dr. Matthew Halpert, of the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor conducted the research about arthritis and found that nine out of the ten dogs tested benefited from CBD. They also noted that the pain relief lasted for about two weeks after the treatments stopped.

It seems that CBD significantly reduces the production of inflammatory molecules and immune cells associated with arthritis. The improvement in the quality of life for the dogs was documented by both the dog’s owner and veterinarians. Since the structure of arthritis in dogs is similar to humans, the study supports future scientific evaluation of CBD for human arthritis.

However, it should be noted that the researchers found that the effect was quicker and more effective when CBD was delivered encapsulated in liposomes than when it was administered ‘naked.’ Liposomes are artificially formed tiny spherical sacs that are used to deliver drugs into tissues at higher rates of absorption. This means that buying CBD over the counter may not work as well or as quickly.

If you would like to try CBD, talk to your veterinarian first. It is never a good idea to administer any type of medication, natural or otherwise, without first checking with your veterinarian. I know from personal experience that although veterinarians use human medicines and herbal formulas for dogs, the dosage can be radically different for a dog.