Monthly Archives: October 2019

Recognizing A Pet Emergency

dog who is sick

Many pet owners have found themselves in difficult situations in which they know something is wrong with a pet, but the veterinary clinic is closed. How do you know when it’s a true emergency and how do you know when it can wait until the clinic opens the next day?

To answer this question, Dr. Christine Rutter, a clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, discusses some common situations that often cause pet owners concern.

If an animal is showing lameness, such as abnormal movements or the inability to use a limb, the severity will determine the degree of urgency. If lameness is severe, suddenly worse, associated with bleeding, or persists for more than 24 hours, it should be considered an emergency situation.

“Weight-bearing lameness, or limping, can typically be evaluated within one to two days by a primary care veterinarian, rather than on an emergency basis,” Rutter said.

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Forget About Stress & Anxiety

POSITIONING THEMSELVES FOR REINFORCEMENT First off, sorry. The title was designed to get your attention. We cannot forget about stress and anxiety but rather than focus on those conditions we assume a dog is experiencing, let’s get down to the business of behavior. It has been important that people have been encouraged to […]

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Cats are securely bonded to their people, too

Cats have a reputation for being aloof and independent. But a study of the way domestic cats respond to their caregivers suggests that their socio-cognitive abilities and the depth of their human attachments have been underestimated. The findings show that, much like children and dogs, pet cats form secure and insecure bonds with their human caretakers.

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14 Surprising Dog Facts You Might Not Know

Celebrate Adopt a Shelter Dog Month with these cool dog facts.
dog playing on floor

From fastest dog to poop alignment, we never get tired of learning new facts about dogs so check out these 14 surprising dog facts that you might not know.

1. Breeds: The most popular dog today in America is a mixed-breed dog with 38 million mixed breed pet dogs in homes in the U.S.

2. Big to Small: the tallest dog on record is a Great Dane who stood 44 inches tall with the shortest being a Chihuahua measuring just 3.8 inches in height.

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Cute Custom Portrait Mugs

Custom Pet Portrait Mug
Custom Pet Portrait Mug

Celebrate your furry friend with this one-of-a-kind personalized and handmade dog mug. Artist Hadley Sedgwick makes these beautiful ceramic dog designs from scratch in her Georgia studio, her work has even appeared on shows such as 2 Broke Girls. Made from durable stoneware clay, this custom mug is non-toxic and microwave/dishwasher safe. Peek into her store and you’ll see that in addition to custom dog mugs she also offers personalized pet bowls and is now offering custom pet pencil cups. Your office will not be complete without a personalized pen and pencil holder featuring your own pup’s delightful pet portrait.

Mug size:  4” height, holds 14 ounces
Pen holder: 4” x 4” x 2”

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The Truth Behind “Designer dogs” and Dog Breeding

Recent news articles, such as “The creator of the labradoodle says he made ‘Frankenstein’s monster,’” are bringing into question the issue of “designer dogs” again

 Dr. Bruce Smith of Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine answers some questions about so-called “designer dogs” and dog breeding genetics.

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Genes play a role in dog breed differences in behavior

Border collies are highly trainable, greyhounds love to chase, and German shepherds make good guard dogs. While the environment plays a role, traits like these are highly heritable, according to a study of 101 dog breeds. The work identifies 131 genetic variants associated with breed differences in behavior.

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Forget About Stress & Anxiety

POSITIONING THEMSELVES FOR REINFORCEMENT First off, sorry. The title was designed to get your attention. We cannot forget about stress and anxiety but rather than focus on those conditions we assume a dog is experiencing, let’s get down to the business of behavior. It has been important that people have been encouraged to […]

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Top Ten Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe & Calm this Fourth of July

 

 

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Finding balance: Choice and Structure

Choice is the degree to which we allow our canine learner to choose their direction, ideally with an understanding of all possible consequences.

“Do you want your nails clipped? If you opt in then you will get cookies. You will also get your nails clipped. If you opt out, you will get neither.” It is a choice, and it comes with consequences.

Excellent trainers structure situations so that the dog ops in reliably.  For example, rather than attempting to clip all of a dog’s nails for a cookie, odds are good that this trainer will have the clipper make a sound and give the dog a cookie, progressing to clipping as the dog shows readiness. Over time, opting in becomes a habit.

Structure is where we remove choice and set the dog’s path for them. Ideally, the trainer understands the consequences of this decision.

“You will get your nails clipped. It is not a choice, but they are sufficiently long that your health is in danger or my chid is in danger when your paws land on him or you are ruining my floors. So in the best interest of you or my child or my floors I am going to clip your nails.”

Excellent trainers recognize when a situation suggests structure; there either is not time to train with choice or the situation is sufficiently threatening to either the dog, the handler, or society’s well-being that it is not a rational option. Rather than offering choice when it is going to happen one way or the other, trainers simply make it happen. There is no choice. Over time, the dog becomes resigned and hopefully cooperation takes place as the dog comes to understand the process. Or maybe the trainer comes to find that they actually can train for the situation and choice does eventually come into play.

Which one is right?

It depends.

I offer as much choice as I possibly can. I work hard to set up my dog’s lives so that I don’t have to structure them very much over the long run because I find a cooperative dog who opts in to be a joy to engage. But there are exceptions.

My exceptions are as follows; if a bad choice will lead to harm to the dog, the handler, or to an aspect of society as a whole, then I remove choice and structure the dog. I set the path and the dog is taken in the direction of my choosing.

This has nothing to do with corrections. If my dog is moving towards another dog and I think the end result of the dog’s meeting is somewhere between a social greeting and a dogfight, then that meeting will not happen. I will use the leash to structure my dog and remove choice; there will be no approach. I do not risk a “bad” choice that could physically or emotionally harm my dog, the other dog, myself or some other aspect of society.  I call that a function of good leadership and I take it seriously.

If you are a trainer who uses physical corrections or emotional fear in training, odds are good you use too much structure and not enough choice. The end result is that you will often get your way and your dog is likely to be ” less”  than they could. Less empowered. Less confident in their abilities.  Less personality.

Of course this is my opinion so before you get up in arms about your personality filled dogs, recognize that I am using a stereotype and a generalization based on my experience.   Your situation may or may not apply.

If you are a trainer who is positive reinforcement based and who avoids physical pain and emotional distress at all costs, odds are good you use too much choice and not enough structure. The end result is that your dog will feel highly empowered and show plenty of personality, and you may be struggling to get your way when you need cooperation.   Again, this is my opinion using stereotypes and generalizations based on my experience.

In all cases, you and your dog will not reach your maximum potential if you cannot find some balance.   In all cases, the more excellent you are as a trainer, reading dogs well and taking care with your decision making,  the closer you will come to a relationship that is as good as it can possibly be.

Dogs need structure in their lives. Dogs also need choice and freedom. One teaches the dog to feel confident in their decision-making and the other teaches the dog to rely on you and to know you’ve got their back. Together they strengthen both the dog and your relationship.  If you find a place that make sense for your team then you will maximize your situation together.

My line in the sand is no pain or emotional distress but that doesn’t mean I won’t structure a dog as a part of living life.  Sometimes my dog will not get their way.  Sometimes they will experience frustration when I refuse to give choice because I decide it may not be in the best interest of the whole.   That also doesn’t mean I don’t take chances occasionally, such as allowing my dogs to walk off leash or to greet the occasional unknown dog.  I do that too.

Look at your situation.   Don’t worry about your neighbor or your trainer or their dog.   Look at your situation and your dog.  What makes sense for you?    Do you re-evaluate this over time?   Spend some time thinking about you, your dog, your society, and your situation, and then see about maximizing the well-being of the whole.

 

 

 

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