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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Blue Buffalo Recall 11/26/2015

Well folks, before you blame your Great Aunt Betty for that sick feeling after eating her semi appealing Thanksgiving dinner, check out what's in your 'Pet Treat Closet' first! If that  proves to be safe, then you may have a feasible lawsuit against your old Auntie and can take all her possessions before her demise! But if you are that type of person you probably should not own a dog!

Blue Buffalo is recalling individually wrapped Cub Size Wilderness Wild Chews.

UPC :8402243110087  with an expiration date of November 4, 2017 due to salmonella

This is a voluntary recall during a routine testing, salmonella war found in the product.  The product was distributed at or around November 19, 2015 in PetSmart stores.  These stores include the states of:

California- Kansas- Michigan- Minnesota- Montana- Nevada - Oregon- Utah- and Washington

 For more information or to fill out a report regarding any dog food/treat related problems contact the  US Food and Drug Administration.  Link Here

Contact Blue Buffalo  888-641-9736 from 8 AM to 5 PM EST Monday to Friday or  email them at:   

Salmonella causes illness in pets and humans.  It is particularly dangerous for  the elderly  and young children. Wash your hands after touching and treats or foods for your animals.

Salmonella causes flu like symptoms in humans with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody) , abdominal pain and fever.

In pets you will see much of the same. Keep in mind that some of your dogs may be carriers only and not show any symptoms. So if you have more than one dog in your family and one of them is not showing symptoms it does not mean the others do not have salmonella. Contact your Veterinarian for treatment.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Dog Like Eddie

 It has been approximately 8 weeks since I have taken that cute, bubbly, puppy known as Eddie, into my fold and he has been a true blessing.  Eddie belongs to the Helping Paws Organization and is from the E litter also known as the Edge litter, of potential assistance dogs.  If you missed my last posting, Helping Paws enlists volunteer puppy raisers to take a pup for two and a half years and bring it to its full potential. In the end, it will hopefully be trained well enough to become someone’s service dog.

In the short weeks that I have had Eddie, he has learned a kit and caboodle of behaviors and cues which are very diverse, and not what one would learn in a six week obedience class.  There was the 'shaping' of different ways to interact with a plastic tub, to his now known repertoire of cues going in the order below:

“Better Go Now” (to go potty on command)
“Release” (being released from a cue)
“Kennel” ( just as it describes)
“Uh Uh” (stop that behavior)
“Off”  (from jumping up on someone or something)   
“Car”  (getting in the car)
“Wait” ( a brief pause)
“Name” ( Eddie)
“Come” ( as it implies)
“Easy” ( taking something from the hand in an easy manner.)   

When training for general obedience, my normal course would go like this. Teach the dog its name, eye contact (watch me), sit, down, heel, wait, stay, leave it, and come.  Generally one to two commands would be taught a week. We would normally say the dog’s name, lure the dog into a position if needed, give the command, and then click and treat. We also would not start training a dog in public until all puppy shots were done, thus making the dog near or over the 3 month mark. In many instances, people do not take their dogs for training until they are older and more problematic.  

Having gotten Eddie at the age of 7 weeks old, and starting training with him that very week, he has already learned more than what many older dogs would learn in a six to eight week obedience course.

 Through my training with Eddie you will notice that his name was not actually put to a formal cue until pretty far down the list.  We have not, up to this point, done any luring with special treats, rather we wait patiently for the puppy to figure out a behavior we want to see, then click and treat that behavior using his normal daily dose of dog food.  We don’t actually introduce the cue until about a week later, or longer, with the exception of ‘Better go now’, which we use right away, both on leash and off. 

I hate to brag, but Eddie is one very smart little puppy, more than likely due to excellent breeding stock. As I went through his list of 75 cues that he would eventually have to do, I noticed that he is already doing things on that list that I have not asked of him.  For instance, there will come a time when I have to put to cue “go to your bed.”  Since day one, Eddie has been coming into the house and going directly to one of the dog beds in the kitchen, regardless if there is already a dog lying on that bed! He will go to the bed, sit down, sometimes sitting on Brody’s head, and look at me and wait.  I have never asked him to do this, but though I cannot yet put a cue to it, I want to build on that behavior and reward him for it each time.  Sitting was another cue Eddie had been performing from the day I brought him home. He will follow me from room to room and sit in front of me, then look up at me as if to say, “Here I am!”   This is a desired behavior; however that cue has not yet been introduced either.

I am finding it fascinating that though this way of training, to me, seems backwards,  it works just as well, if not better. If the dog is doing the desired behavior on its own and being rewarded for it, we know the dog will repeat that desired behavior for the reward,  and then, we add the cue to it later. In the end, the dog has learned or taught itself a desired behavior for life.  On the other hand in normal obedience training, we put the command to the dog, then lure him into place, and then we are finding at times that we need to repeat our commands more or give more prompts/treats to get the desired behavior. 

At this point, I have to say that I am thrilled to be learning a new way of doing things, and I can see why it takes so long to ready a dog for life long skills to aid a human.  I can also see why normal obedience classes would not work this way for a trainer. The cost would be phenomenal due to the time it takes  and there would be no clientele who could afford it! 

Of course shaping and cues are not the only things going on for Eddie during the week. There is socialization to a variety of people, places, other dogs, sounds, textures, and more. We go through stores with Eddie sitting on his bed in a shopping cart so he can see and hear all that go on. One of his favorite places is Home Depot, where he get lots of loving, and his second would be Target, where on a nice day, he can sit outside the store and greet people, as well as practice his skill of walking nicely beside a cart.
  One day while sitting outside of Target, I  asked an elderly lady  if we could follow her to her car so Eddie could practice walking beside a cart. She was very happy to help us in our mission and we chatted as we walked. It turned out to be a bit longer than we expected as she forgot where she parked her car! Ah, the little smiles in life!

We also go to the lakes so he can experience the texture of the sand, the docks, and the water, as well as see the geese and sea gulls up close and personal.  

 At this point in his life, Eddie seems to like all people he has come in contact with and has only been frightened by a couple of items. One being a bunch of small flags on the church lawn, that seemingly touched him like a bunch of fingers coming up from the ground in a bad Halloween movie, and the other frightening thing was the hollow sounding water drains that run through the sidewalks of town.

How you can help from afar!

This Thursday, November 17, in MN is Give to the Max Day. It is a day for all to come out and support organizations that make the communities stronger.  Eddie and the E litter will be on display to the community showing what they have learned so far.  I am sure there are many wonderful organizations out there but I am partial to this one!

If you have an extra ten bucks to spare, it will go a long way in helping another human to gain a piece of their life that was taken from them through special circumstances or illness. Actually you will be helping more than just one person; a dog such as Eddie can help the whole family in many ways. A dog like Eddie can give a war veteran with PTSD   the strength to take his kids to a park, or to school.  A dog like Eddie can help a person dependent upon a wheelchair and family, to become independent in other ways thereby freeing up some family duties.

10 bucks people!  Compare it. If you drink two cups of Starbucks coffee a day, you will spend 126.00 a month, or 1,533.00 in a year, and 45, 99.00 over 30 years!  

Now, doesn’t ten dollars seem like a real bargain?   Help me to help them!

Click this link to take you to the donation page.  LINK  Type in Helping Paws and the amount you wish to donate.

Click here to see Eddie learning the retrieval of every day household products 

UPDATE: Eddie has come a long way since the above clip when he was just a pup, He can now  retrieve items and place them in my hand, close doors and drawers, turn on lights and remove clothes from the dryer. click here is a short clip of this . 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Helping Paws~ The Recipients~

Eddie  7 weeks old
The Veterans 

            As I turned the street’s corner, I saw a man and women walking two  beautiful Golden Retriever puppies near the tree shaded building.  I parked my car on the road’s side, grabbed my camera case and car keys, and exited the car.

            Immediately I took the camera from its cradle inside the case, put it to my eye, and started shooting pictures. I then took out the mini video camera from my back pocket in order to capture all the movement as well. After all, this is what I came to see!

            A few more dogs and handlers arrived and made their way into the building, the building where the Helping Paws Organization does their training. I shut the camera down and followed them inside. Standing inside a huge open room was a tall young woman with long curly black hair. She was dressed in Capri’s, flip flops, and a sleeveless blouse to combat the summer’s heat.

            “Jo?” I asked.
            “Yes.” She replied.
            “Hi, I’m Sally.” I said. “I’ve been the one emailing you about coming to see how this process works.”  
            “Oh, Yes!” Jo replied. “Glad you could make it.”
            “Thank you.” I said. “I have been very interested since I saw the news clip.”

            The news clip had been about the organization needing volunteer puppy trainers to help with their next litter of pups. What is a volunteer puppy Trainer?  They are people that Helping Paws uses to raise and train their service dogs for the first two and a half years of the dog’s life, under the guidance of their professional instructors.

            As Jo and I spoke, more dogs and handlers arrived and each went to a different place in the room.  I glanced around and noticed the different items used to train the dogs. There was medical equipment, different types of doors with pull handles, a handicapped door button that one would see in public buildings, a working light switch, a sliding glass door, and stands for the dogs to jump up on. Each person was working their dog on a piece of this equipment. I saw one man working his dog to open the sliding glass door and a woman having her dog turn a small light switch on and off, as the light bulb blinked in conjunction with every movement of the dog’s nose. Another was working her dog to pull a regular house door open, and yet another lady was working her dog to get up and down off of the stand. There was so much to watch, that I was not sure where to look first!

            “As you can see,” Jo said, “each dog is working on a different skill set. They will make their way around the room to practice on each piece of equipment.”
            “Wow!” I said. “I am not sure what I expected, but this is very impressive!”
            After about fifteen minutes Jo addressed the group. “It’s so nice outside, why don’t we go out and play a game with the dogs?”

            She then grabbed a couple of tubs with various objects in them, brought them outside and emptied them onto the ground. She had the trainer’s trade dogs and form teams. Each team of dog's and handler's had to select one item on the ground and use a command to have the dog pick it up, and then drop it back into the tub. Whichever team filled the tub first, won.  The dogs were at various stages of learning, so some got it right away and some needed a bit more practice. But all gave it a valiant effort!

            Once the game was finished, Jo had had everyone go inside and grab a wheelchair and once again all headed to the beautiful weather outside. I observed dogs walking at the side of the trainer’s wheelchair, dogs that were instructed to wait at a door, dogs that were instructed to push the automatic door button, and dogs that were instructed to hop over the trainer’s legs to get in the right position to push the automatic button, then hop back into a left heel position to the wheelchair.

            This is something I want to learn more about! I thought. I really appreciated Jo allowing me to come down and see what ‘puppy raising’ was all about.

            Months went by and life got busy for me. Peter and I had just adopted a young Newfoundland rescue, who we named Skylar.  Skylar was the third large dog to occupy our already crowded space in this small home. She also needed a lot of training, but settled in nicely with our other two dogs, Brody, a Newfoundland/Golden mix, and Emma, my old Newfoundland girl that I had since her birth.

            Jo notified me shortly after my adoption of Skylar, that there would be a litter due in the Helping Paws organization and asked if I was still interested in being a puppy raiser.

            I gave it a lot of thought, and in fact I had been giving it a lot of thought since that day  I first visited them. However, Skylar, at the time, was still very much a puppy and a very large puppy at five months old, and still needed direction. To take on another pup at this time would probably not be wise.  Also, in the back of my mind was that heavily weighted question. 
"If I were to become a puppy raiser, I would be its foster and trainer for approximately two and a half to three years and then I would have to give it up. Could I do that?"

One Year Later

            A year flew by since I considered becoming a puppy raiser. One day an email came to my inbox inviting me to join Helping Paws at their upcoming open house to meet the dogs and some of the recipients.   Skylar’s training was going fantastic, and in that year sadly, I had lost my old girl Emma. The house was now down to just two dogs.

            “Hey Pete?” I yelled from the basement. “Do you want to take a ride to Hopkins?”
            “What?” Peter asked. “What’s in Hopkins?”
            “Helping Paws.” I replied. “You know that place that trains the service dogs? They are having an open house. You can see the facility and how they do things.”
            “Sure!” Pete replied. “Why not?” 

            And so we went. We met and talked with many puppy raisers as well as talked to the recipients of dogs past.  The rest, as they say, is history!  

            That ‘thought’, the one that weighed so heavily in my mind, of giving the dog up,  had been played out over and over again in my mind for a year, and was still lurking in the background.
       With that thought however, also came the thought of my mom, who was stricken with polio in her twenties and raised a family of six.  How awesome would it have been if she could have had such a dog to help her?  Of course, that thought was a bit selfish on my part as my childhood Saturday mornings came to mind. Had she had an assistance dog to aid her, the dog could have walked with her and the bundles of laundry to the laundromat, spent the day with her washing and drying those bundles, and it would have left my Saturdays free!   Pathetic I know!

            Weighing it all out, in the end I thought, how selfish of me!  Yes, I will cry for weeks once the dog is gone. Let’s face it, you can’t go through that much bonding time and not have it effect you.  But, my few weeks of crying, is not enough of a reason to not do it. My heart may feel empty for a while, but another’s heart will be filled for a lifetime.

            And so, I began the journey three weeks ago, with a little black Labrador Retriever from the Max and Myrtle litter, also known as the “E” litter, who Peter and I  have named Eddie.

            These last  threes weeks have been a lot of exploring, shaping, and getting to know each other, and yes, there is already that bond, and I see it each time I take him into public to socialize him around people. He is pleasant in his greetings with all, but his eye contact always comes back to me.  This is the making, I believe, of a great service dog.

            Just a few nights ago, Peter and I had the pleasure to attend the graduation of twenty Helping Paws service dogs. It was a handing over of the leash, from the puppy raiser family, to a matched recipient and a new journey for the dog.

            The new owners of these beloved dogs had the opportunity to share their feelings with the crowd. I had the pleasure to once again take pictures and video, and would like to share their thoughts with you via a video in the link below. The video has been shortened for time, but all the sentiments from the recipients were the same. Sentiments of thanks and gratitude to all who took part in such a precious gift which would give them back a part of their life.

At the time of the graduation, the recipients had been working with their dog for three weeks, getting to know each other and cramming in all the learning that the puppy raisers had done over the years.  When you think about it, that’s a lot of homework!

Helping Paws is a non profit organization that runs on the generosity of others. If you would like to get involved or make a donation please go to their link.  The cost to the recipients is minimal due to the volunteers and public’s general outreach and donations. Please, go to the link and see how you can help.

 Helping paws link:  

          The Graduation 2015

My first visit with Helping Paws

Eddie  9 weeks old 

Monday, October 5, 2015

K-9 Kraving Dog Food Recall

K-9  Kraving dog food has issued a recall due to possible Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, a double whammy if you will!

The recall pertains to  their Chicken Patties Dog food shipped around the July 13- 17 dates. 
Salmonella and  listeria Monocytogenes can  affect animals and and humans.

 Make sure to wash your hands after handling the food any dog food or treats. Wipe down counters  or other items that have been exposed to this product.

Salmonella symptoms for dogs:    Vomiting , diarrhea (sometimes bloody), lack of appetite, abdominal pain, fever. You may have dogs in the home that are only carriers, so if one dog is not showing signs of illness this does not mean the other dogs are not affected. Read more here

Salmonella in humans can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, flu like symptoms. 
This is especially dangerous to the very young and the elderly as well as frail immune symptoms.

Listeria Monocytogenes in dogs can vary from no symptoms to mild flu like symptoms. Fever , weakness, vomiting muscle aches , lack of coordination. Link here

Listeria Monocytogenes in humans : fever, chills  muscle aches,nausea , diarrhea, headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dingo Twist treats Recalled due to AMANTADINE!

Hey Folks!

I have been a bit off my game on the upkeep of the blog an dog food recalls because I am currently raising a puppy to become an assistance dog. So Much of my time is spent  with the pup and my other two hounds that get jealous of the attention and so I must shower myself on them just as much!  If I don't lose weight by the end of this adventure there is something seriously wrong!  

So down to business:

The recall  involves Dingo Chip Twists "Chicken in the middle" 6 per bag.  The treats come from china (no surprise there) but is put out by United Pet Group Inc, in Cincinnati OH.
  more information here

 Product was distributed to  CA, IA, IL, MN ,NY ,OH, OK ,PA ,TX ,VA ,WA, and WI

What is Amantadine?

 This is a drug that is for human formulation and is an antiviral which blocks actions of viruses in the body. This is not a drug approved for animal food. 
It is used to prevent viruses like influenza and is used to treat Parkinson's disease.

It has been known for some adverse side effects in people to the central nervous system. Effects are  anxiety, agitation, insomnia. It can affect  an existing seizure disorder. 

In Dogs you may  nausea. vomiting ,loss of appetite ,Flatulence. diarrhea and agitation  most likely in the first few days of exposure.
You can read more here


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

More Listeria Bacteria Found ~Vital Essentials

More listeria found in dog food. This time it is  the Carnivore meat company of Green Bay Wisconsin which is voluntarily recalling Vital Essentials raw frozen food.

Recalled products are 
Vital Essential Frozen Beef Tripe Patties and  Vital Essentials Frozen Been Tripe Nibblets 
Lot number 10930  and Lot 10719 

If you missed  my last posting on how Listeria affects you and your pet please read below.

What does this mean to you?

Listeria can be deadly to  humans with weakened immune systems , ages 65 or over, pregnant women and the unborn fetuses, and young children.

Symptoms are fever and muscle aches, and diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Someone diagnosed with this has an invasive infection and it can spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract,
Other symptoms would be headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.

 Pregnant women may experience  fever , fatigue and aches. This can lead to  miscarriage , stillbirth and premature delivery. The newborn can suffer a life threatening infection.

Here you can read what causes  Listeriosis  

What does it mean for your dog?

You may see neurological signs: circling, depression and hemiparesis (paralysis). Unfortunately clinical signs are see when testing infected tissue after death. There were  signs or lesions in the  lungs, liver , spleen, kidneys, adrenal glands and lymph nodes.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Stop Sale! Stella & Chewy's

Stella and Chewy's has been issued a STOP SALE order by the  Maryland department of Agriculture. Stella  and Chewy's Freeze dried chicken patties dog food are contaminated with Listeria Monocytogenes

Lot number : 11-15  with expiration date of 4/23/16

What does this mean to you?

Listeria can be deadly to  humans with weakened immune systems , ages 65 or over, pregnant women and the unborn fetuses, and young children.

Symptoms are fever and muscle aches, and diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Someone diagnosed with this has an invasive infection and it can spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract,
Other symptoms would be headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.

 Pregnant women may experience  fever , fatigue and aches. This can lead to  miscarriage , stillbirth and premature delivery. The newborn can suffer a life threatening infection.

Here you can read what causes  Listeriosis  

What does it mean for your dog?

You may see neurological signs: circling, depression and hemiparesis (paralysis). Unfortunately clinical signs are see when testing infected tissue after death. There were  signs or lesions in the  lungs, liver , spleen, kidneys, adrenal glands and lymph nodes.

Update as of 7/7 2015  from the FDA

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Face Recognition Finds Your Lost Dog!

There is as new online and phone app that may possibly be the next best thing to a gravy biscuit for Fido owners! This new app is called and what it does is allows people to reunite with their lost pets with only a picture using face recognition.

This will be helpful this July 4th holiday when so many pets run off once the boom of the fireworks start. Unfortunately many do not keep their dogs in the home  and sometimes dogs that are in the home become so frightened they jump out the window.  is an easy to use , Just go online, to  upload your dog’s picture, try to use a facial profile as you will need to put the eyes in a certain place. Add the name, breed, and birth date or age and you are set!
You can find their face book page here

Uploading pictures to the computer 

 You can download the app to your Iphone or android.  The App is FREE!  Anyone who finds your pet can then take the picture and submit it to finding rover! The facial profile from that picture is matched with the one you registered.

If you are the finder of the lost dog make sure to get a head shot to send in, not a full body shot though a body shot may be helpful later to show the potential owner.  .

On the website under the Search icon there is also a list of dogs lost and found in your area which is a good thing to check to see if your dog has been found or to help identify a dog you have found.   

This is relatively new so more dog members may need to get online and register in your area so spread the word to friends. The more dog owners out there, the better chance you have to recover your dog in your area, or if you are traveling and the dog gets lost, then it will help there too!

   Of course I would be remiss if I did not put this to the test! So after uploading Brody’s profile pic, I then went under the “found dogs” icon and uploaded another picture of  Brody’s face to see if his profile would come up. The site scanned Brody’s face and brought me to two dogs that looked like Shih Tzu’s not at all like Brody’s description. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed that Brody’s picture did not come up. However, I went back to my home page and reported Brody missing, then did another check and Volia, there was his picture at the top of the page under Found!

Lost Dog Post

Dogs that match Brody's  facial profile You can
see that Brody is on top of the list 

I would say I have to play around with this a bit on my android as I am not really phone savvy, But I can take a picture of a found dog on my phone, send it to my email then upload it to the site. As for the computer, it worked out fine and I was able to find my dog, albeit sleeping in my own bed!    

For youtube video of it's ease of use click  here   

I would give this App 4 paws up, especially for ease of use with the computer. If you are phone savvy then it should  be just as easy!

Reporting Instructions :

Report a Found Dog

Last Updated: Jan 23, 2015 02:05PM PST
On a Mobile Device
1.                       Tap Report! in the bottom middle of the screen
2.                       Click Found
3.                       Click Okay to upload a photo from your device or to take a new photo
4.                       To upload an existing photo, click on the photo boxes (bottom right)
5.                       To take a new photo, use the Bark Button (bottom left) to get your dogs attention, click the Photo Button. Make sure to focus on your dogs face
6.                       To retake the photo, click Back in the top left corner

On the Web
1.                       Click Report! in the top middle of the screen
2.                       Click Found
3.                       Click on the Choose File button to navigate to an existing photo

The following steps are the same on mobile devices and the web
Adjust the photo
1.                       Click on the photo to move it so that the eyes are lined up with the line across 
2.                       Click Next in the top right corner
3.                       Place a circle on each eye and the triangle on the nose
4.                       Click Next in the top right corner, the photo will then be scanned

1.                       Identify the location the animal was lost from by typing in an address, cross streets, or moving the pin to the correct location
2.                       Click Next in the top right hand corner

Enter details
1.                       Enter YOUR primary contact phone number (usually a cell phone)
2.                       Enter the actual date the dog was found
3.                       If there is a reward, enter the amount
4.                       Enter any additional information that will help (distinguishing features, gender, collar description, temperament, date/time found, etc.)
5.                       Click Done in the top right corner, the photo will be auto scanned

1.                       Based on a scan of the photo, Possible Matches posted by other Finding Rover members in the area will display 

Possible Match
1.                       If a lost report is located that could be the same dog, click on the photo of the Possible Match to open the profile
2.                       Click Match? to link the records together FIRST
3.                       Click Create Match (this will now show on your Home page)
4.                       The Possible Match record will display at the bottom of the screen (scroll down)
5.                       This will display the Possible Match record on the owners, finders or partners Home page that they will see the next time they access their account

Make Contact

On a Mobile Device
1.                       If a phone number is available, click Call ‘Name of Possible Owner’ to call
2.                       If a phone number is available, click Text Message ‘Name of Possible Owner’ to send a text
3.                       Click Email ‘Name of Possible Owner’ to contact through your email system (Outlook, Gmail, etc.)

On the Web
1.                       The phone number of the partner will display
2.                       Click Email ‘Name of Possible O

Internet search finding rover,  hit bars menu on upper left, click  login

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

TLC IS Not Enough

Working with a shy dog in the home

(This is also useful for people who do pet sitting of fearful dogs)

When you adopt a dog, there is a 50 /50 chance that the dog may be shy or fearful. Keep in mind that one never knows the true history of an adopted dog. This means you will not know how it was originally trained, socialized, or treated within the former home.

However, dogs, just like humans, are born with a fearful personality. It’s what you do with the dog on a daily basis that can help the dog adjust. This is not a “Let’s take the dog to puppy class for six weeks"  effort, but rather a continuous and life long adjustment which often needs addressing. The more prepared you are, the better off you can help the dog exist.
Be forewarned, that the dog might never accept a stranger, as strangers represent inconsistency and unpredictability. Are you prepared to live with such a dog?

In your own home, when you have a shy or fearful dog, you must represent structure, consistency, and predictability in order for the dog to feel safe around you.  Sometimes, even when everyone in the family does it right, the dog may still only bond to one person in the home, but will put up with other family members.  Children will be the most difficult for this type of dog because children run a lot on impulse, and therefore, are almost always seen as being unpredictable by a shy/fearful dog.

In the beginning :

The three challenges:

1) Eye contact
2) Talking to
3) Touching

All of these actions to a human would signify a way of comforting another. However, to a dog, they are challenges, and a fearful dog will magnify those actions ten times. So it is very important that you do not look directly at the dog, do not continue to talk to the dog (even in soft tones), and you don’t reach out to touch the dog, until such a time that you notice the dog is feeling comfortable. 

Positive training is essential to boost a shy dog’s confidence. So, how do you train if you can’t look at, talk to, or touch it?

Gaining trust is key!
Start by getting down on the floor to the dog’s level. Do not look at the dog, either watch TV or turn your head away from the dog. Lay your hand on the floor, palm up, with a special treat, such as a hot dog sliver or chicken sliver. Anything that has an aroma should work. It will also help if you have not fed the dog a recent meal.  Allow the dog to make its way over to you to take the treat from your hand.  If the dog is too shy to get that close to you, you can try putting the treat on the floor at a greater distance from you, or, if it is your hand the dog fears, remove it and lay the treat in that spot where your hand was.   Eventually, as the dog gains confidence, you will try again to put the treat in your open palm. 

  Continue this until the dog realizes that when it comes near you, you are not a threat or a challenge. You want the   dog to realize something good is coming to it when he/she is near you.  Gradually, as the dog builds confidence you will call its name, offer the treat and then continue moving up the chain of the 3 perceived challenges. You will make brief eye contact, and then add a brief verbal cue, such as “Fido.”  The last challenge would be a brief petting of the dog and do this on the dog’s side, not the head.  An attempt to pet the dog on the head is perceived as most threatening.

   Reconditioning a shy /fearful dog can take many weeks to months to accomplish, and for some dogs, it may take even longer. Much is going to depend on how much time you have to spend with the dog.  Dogs, like humans, fear the unknown, so the more you can work with the dog, the more you show predictability to the dog. If the dog knows what to expect, it becomes less frightened.

The reason that shy dogs have so many problems getting used to strangers, either in your home or when out for a walk, is that each person walks, talks, and moves in a different and unpredictable way to the dog. This makes them less trustworthy.  Also, most owners, when out walking the dog, do not come in contact with the same people on a daily basis. The same may be true for people who visit you in your home.  If something does not happen on a daily basis, then it does not become normal or predictable for the dog. 

When you have company come over, they should ignore the dog altogether and have a seat and wait to see if the dog comes to them. As the dog becomes a bit more inquisitive of the person sitting in the chair, you can have them drop a treat to the floor for the dog, but do nothing else.  The guest should not really try to interact with the dog. Your goal here is just to have the dog learn that when people visit, they are not threats.   Unless you have a daily visitor, it is possible that the dog will never accept a stranger (even a family member that comes to visit) in your home. In these cases, it is best not to push the dog into any situation that will yield a backfire in experiencing people being around it. When we push a dog into an uncomfortable situation, the likelihood of growling and snapping may occur.  In cases where dogs do not readily accept strangers it is a good idea to have a safe place for your dog to retreat to, such as a crate or a bedroom.  Remember it is your responsibility to protect the dog that you have chosen.

Eventually, you want to do daily obedience training to build trust and confidence. Do this training in short sessions, and do them several times a day. This shows the dog you are consistent and predictable.  Positive method training tells the dog that when it listens, something good happens.  The more successful the dog is during training, the more confidence the dog acquires in itself.  

Punishment has no place in any dog’s life, regardless of if they are shy or not.  Remember that dogs act out for a variety of reasons. Fear, boredom, challenges, anxieties, and instinct for survival, are just a few. It is how you deal with it that can make it better or worse for the dog.

If you have gotten your dog to a certain point of comfort and trust, you can very easily make them take two steps backward through punishment or dominant acts.  It is much easier to stay the course of being positive and figuring out a positive way to turn a behavior around, than it is to undue the damage caused from one punishing act.

Let’s think about this logically, such as how humans might act in a punishing situation.
You are 4 years old and are in the store with your father. You walk away from dad to take a look at the toy section, as most kids do.  Your father turns around and notices you are gone, and so a panic ensues. Most people, when they are in a surprised or panicked moment, react negatively and defensively.   Finally you hear your father calling you, and you set out to look for him. When you find him, he yells or spanks you for leaving his side, and you are taken home. What did you learn from this?   

You might have been able to figure out that your father acted this way because he was frightened, but that is highly doubtful, because in a 4 year old mind, they cannot put together fear and punishment.   You may have learned it is not a good idea to leave your father’s side when shopping because that makes him mad. Or, you may have learned that answering your father’s call in certain situations may yield you punishment.  In all 3 scenarios the main focus for the 4 year old is, Dad and Punishment.     

When you use dominance or punishment on a shy dog, you put more at risk than just the dog fearing you. You put at risk ‘every’ human hand that reaches out toward the dog. 

 Dogs do not think ahead to conspire, they do what is natural instinct.  So when a dog does not come to you right away when you call it, and then it is punished by you when you finally get a hold of it, what are the chances of that dog wanting to come to you the next time you call it?   Keep in mind that even your tone of voice when you interact with the dog, can be seen by the dog as negativity and punishment.

Will a stern voice get you a desired outcome?  Yes, sometimes, it would depend on the dog.  However, keep an eye on the dog’s movement, is the dog happily coming to you or is the dog coming back where it thinks it belongs? 

Dogs use their body movements to try to deflect or calm a situation and this can be seen by the way they walk to you, lick  their lips,  hold an item in their mouth, and by the drop of the tail or ears. These are normal signals they send to each other when in a stressful situation with other dogs, however most humans do not pick up these subtle cues.

What humans normally pick up from a dog whose tail is down, ears back, and is slowly coming toward them after a stern reprimand is given is  “The dog knows he did the wrong thing because he looks sad or remorseful.”

No, he is trying to deflect the situation long enough so that the human calms down and he can go over to the human in comfort.  The longer it takes the dog to get to you, (not near you in an area, but actually get to you) means it is trying to stall a bit to give you the time to change your tone or body language.

Leashing your new shy dog for outings

I guess you are wondering how to put a leash on a shy dog to take it on potty outings if you cannot talk to, look at, or touch it!  Here is a simple method and one I use when I babysit shy or fearful dogs. Rather than trying to attach the leash clasp to the collar which can make a shy dog move away from your hand, flip the leash over so that you are holding the clasp and pull it through the handle to make a loop.  From above, guide the loop over the dog’s neck (the leash will look similar to a slip lead that is used in a Vet office).  By doing it this way, you can stand at a distance, you do not have to physically touch the dog, nor do you need to look directly at the dog as this can be done in your peripheral vision.  Once the leash is on the dog, drop a treat to the floor and then head out the door. If you give a treat each time, this tells the dog that if it stands for a specific amount of time near the door with you, a treat will come. It also tells the dog that if it allows you to slip the lead over the head a treat follows quickly after.
  This is a way to get the dog used to you in the beginning; eventually as trust builds, you will be able to hook a leash to the dog’s collar or harness.  

Below are links to clicker training for positive obedience. Keep in mind that some dogs are fearful of the clicker noise. Although there are now different sounding clickers, with some having a softer sound than others, your dog may still be afraid of it. If this is the case, then you can use your voice as the marker, but use only one word such as “Yes” or “Good.”    

Let’s keep in mind also, that we are not as perfect as our dogs would like us to be. We get stressed and nervous and short of temper. So if you cannot stop yourself from the occasional heavily toned voice, or the stomping of the feet as you pick up the mess your dog has left on the floor, that’s okay!  It happens!  Just know it may take a few extra training lessons and some fancy rewards for your dog to forgive you, and it will forgive you.

Until next time, happy training!

The aspca has a great article and pictures on body language, click here

Clicker training, a positive method can be found by clicking here:

video’s to see how clicker training is done, click here and scroll down to videos 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

How The Change Of Seasons Affect Dog Behavior

Ah, I open my eyes to the sound of birds singing outside my screened window. The longer days afford me the opportunity to snap a photo of the sun setting upon the lake, and the aroma of newly blossomed flowers fills my nostrils with delight. Spring is in the air!

“Fido, sit! Fido, stop! FIDO!” An unhappy owner screams at their dog, as it is going nuts at the picture window that faces the street. “What’s gotten into you anyway?”

Fido is a new dog in my life  and, until now, Fido has been doing wonderfully with all of his commands and with potty training. All winter long he has been the picture perfect star of obedience!  Suddenly though, his training is falling by the wayside and Fido is not listening anymore.

We all know that the change of seasons can affect our new dog in health with allergies, allergic reactions, and other ailments, but how does it affect their behavior?  Well, this would depend on the dog (or puppy), and how long you have had it.

A question came across my desk yesterday and it was not something I really gave much thought to over the years.  I guess because in the past I spent time walking my dogs, Chance and Steeler, either through my quiet neighborhood, or the busy streets of town. As well, they spent their time in the community’s eye, more so than any other family dogs I've owned.  

 I have to admit, they probably were not the ordinary dog companions that most people have, as they were shared with the public both as Therapy Dogs and as mascots for the Animal Response Team.

So when a customer wrote in with a problem pertaining to his newly acquired dog, which suddenly forgot all of its potty training manners and was messing in the home, I first looked at possible health problems, to which I was assured, were ruled out by a Vet.

I then asked if there was anything, or anyone, new in the home, or in the pup’s life. It seemed there was a recent change, which included another dog that visited regularly each weekend. Of course, that could be part of the problem even though the puppy grew up knowing this dog since it was 8 weeks old.

 I explained to the customer that as a pup grows, it can go through changes, and if this pup felt challenged by the other dog, who was suddenly taking up residence on his turf, then this could have caused the dog to mark its territory.   I suggested solutions to remedy that problem.

The customer wrote back and asked: “Would this cause a total relapse in all commands so suddenly? The puppy is barking at everyone that is passing the house, he is not coming when called, and he is jumping on the furniture.”

I reminded him that this was a young dog, and that they do backslide from time to time.  However, my feeling was that the customer also needed to look at the dog’s environment as a whole, and other possible causes for a sudden change in behavior.

 I then began to take a look at the age of the puppy and the approximate time and season that the owner brought the puppy home to live with him.

You may be asking yourself, why would a change of seasons suddenly make a puppy, or any new dog in a  home,  forget its manners and commands, when it was doing so well  just weeks prior?

Let’s look at something that should be obvious, but is often not for most dog owners.

In looking back at my calendar, this puppy came into the owner’s life back in September, the fall season. It is now late March and springtime!

Let’s dissect this.

Fall ~ the puppy is young, very trusting of the new owner, and is willing to listen and learn. The air is getting cooler, and aside from some events, most people begin their indoor activities.  The kids are back in school and are usually in some type of after school program.

Winter:  The weather is colder, which leads people (including the owner of this puppy) to spend the majority of their time in the home. Aside from some snow shoveling or power snow blowers being used  at various times of the day, the winter is mostly quiet with limited children and critters in the area.  
The pup, is also growing, becoming more  sure of itself, as well as more secure in the routine of its surroundings. 

Spring:  The long cold winter is over. People are out in droves, and all different kinds of events are taking place. People are walking their dogs up the street, kids are riding their bikes and skateboarding, critters are coming out, motorcycles are zooming up the road, fire pits or grills are being used, and yard work is being done in preparation for the summer.   The daylight hours are now longer, keeping people outside later in the evenings. There are also more critters and bugs running or flying about. 

I will stop at Spring because this is when this pup’s problem began. Think about it ,Spring  is a whole new world for this pup and it is suddenly becoming aware of its changing environment.  After a long quiet winter of confidence building, where the streets and yards around it were fairly quiet, things are suddenly moving about and at a very fast pace!

Though the pup may have been trained in normal obedience during the quiet times and became very good at listening ,  it was never taught how to react to this new hustle and bustle that seemingly, and very suddenly, is invading its calm and peaceful surroundings!  

Now, when the pup is put in its cozy little fenced backyard, it is hearing, smelling, and seeing so many new things in its life, that probably did not exist during the fall or winter months.

This change in seasons does not only affect puppies. A new dog of any age can be affected by these new changes in environment. If you rescued a dog around the Christmas holiday, then prepare yourself for spring, summer, and fall. You may see changes in behavior for a year before the dog is comfortable with everything going on around it.

With seasonal changes, you also see new neighbors moving in, or new construction in the neighborhood. These events have not yet been identified by the dog as being normal. These changes can cause the dog to act out through barking or other fearful behaviors.  To the dog, acting out in this manner is also its way of warning you that something is different.

In the past, I have worked with dogs whose owner took the same walking route daily. Suddenly, their dog became fearful of this route and would pull the owner back toward the home. What happened?  

In many cases, there was construction in the area and a large dumpster sitting in the middle of the walking path. This was not in the dog’s normal routine, and just like seasons, neighborhoods are constantly changing!

These changes, as I said, can affect a dog of any age, and I will use my own rescue dog as an example. Last year in the fall, my young rescue, Skylar, suddenly became fearful of our fenced in back yard, but only  during certain nights. The only way she would venture into the yard, was if I walked with her and waited for her.  At first I could not figure it out. So I took a moment or two, too take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the yard. Finally, I reached deep into my brain and the memory came back to me. Over the summer there was an incident with the new neighbors which sent Skylar running back to the house in a panic, and pounding on the door to get inside.

 The event that left Skylar in such a panic was that the new neighbors, who have children ranging from teens and up , were sitting around their fire pit, which is just on the other side of my fence. One of them decided it was a good idea to set off fire works.  How frightening that is to a dog which  has not been trained around that type of noise before. Not only were there fireworks set off, but the remnants /casings of the fireworks, landed in my back yard, one of which unknown to me may have hit Skylar.

  From that incident, anytime the neighbor's gathered at their fire pit, Skylar did not feel safe enough to be outside alone.  She was associating the smell of the fire, the chatter of the neighbors, and the time of day (dark of night) with the fireworks event.  She was perfectly fine when the fire pit was burning during the daylight hours.

Eventually she got over it, but it took many outings with me and much reassurance. Luckily, there  were not  any new incidents of fireworks going off. 

Also in the spring during daylight hours, Skylar became afraid of going to the back yard to potty. It took some detective work on my part, but what I found was that the bees, yellow jackets, were out and living in the  ground of the yard. Skylar had apparently been stung by a bee and so was associating going through the fence with being stung during this particular time of year. 

So, if you feel your dog is suddenly acting out in ways that are bazaar, take the time to think about the season, and take in what is going on outside. Look, listen, and smell your surroundings, and through that, you will probably find your answer.

Until next time, happy training!