Choose your dog services carefully.
The UK as the animal loving nation that is it known for has lead the way in animal welfare changes for the last century, so you would anticipate the statistics regarding animal welfare issues to have decreased with it?. However between 2013 and 2015 3000 people were convicted of animal cruelty but only 7 % of these received a custodial sentence. (RSPCA 2018) in 2018 the RSPCA rescued more than 102900 animals and investigated a total of 130700 cruelty complaints only 1678 of these cases resulted in prosecution. So have the changes in legislation helped pet welfare?
A BBC report stated that in 2009 Battersea Dogs home euthanized a total of 2815 dogs 1931 of these for behavioural and temperament issues. BBC (2010),
Are the laws promoting awareness or are they part of the problem?
As The Animal Welfare Act 2006 now pushes the responsibility for duty of care, more and more people are seeking the help of ‘professionals’ as the vast majority of dog owners are aware that training and exercise are vital to ensure a well balanced happy dog that can be integrated into society.
So why are there so many dogs that need help with behaviour problems. The canine world is a confusing place, for dogs, owners and people that work within it. Media ‘experts’ are all over our screens now, each dishing out their own approach to solving problems. This is still an unregulated field and there is no single professional governing body to ensure certain standards are adhered to. In the hands of an inexperienced or misled professional the very issues the dogs are displaying can become exaggerated to the point the dog is surrendered and or put to sleep.
Under the Animal Welfare act this ‘professional’ does have an obligation to work within the guide lines of this law. So any walker, pet sitter, trainer or behaviourist that works with a dog has a responsibility for not only the dog, but also its actions whilst under their instruction! They also have a duty of care to ensure the dogs welfare needs are met and that it does not unnecessarily suffer. While working with a fearful dog if the wrong approach is taken or the correct programme rushed the dog could very likely be subjected to unnecessary suffering in the form of stress or fear, and the ‘professional’ will be held responsible for it. This responsibility reaches further than just the basic needs of the dog. The Control of Dogs Order 1992, states a collar must be worn with adequate detail whilst the dog is in a public place if the dog has no owner details whilst in the custody of a another person then they will be accountable. As is the same under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 section 3 clearly states that a dangerously out of control dog in public place is a criminal offence and whomever is in charge of the dog at the time will be deemed accountable for its actions.
“BUT MY DOG WOULDN’T HURT ANYONE” I hear you say and you are probably correct however you need to understand what defines a dog as dangerously out of control. The Control of dogs order defines a dangerously out of control dog as:
A dog that not just injures someone which you would expect but one that a person has grounds for reasonable apprehension that it may do so. The implications of this are momentous, if training or walking a reactive dog a member of the public comes to close and the dog lunges barking at them even though they have not made contact with that person and the situation has been controlled very quickly, The dog can still be reported as it could be deemed to have caused the person a reasonable apprehension that it may injure them. This could lead to the dog being seized. Even something as everyday as a dog chasing, barking or jumping up at someone could lead to a complaint. If the dog happened to break free and injure a member of the public during a session this would mean the dog may never be returned home to it family and could very likely be destroyed.
Safety and understanding of the implication of the law need to be the main priority for anyone working with dogs. Ability to interpret canine body language and continually managing the environment you are working within will reduce the risks and likelihood of any incident happening.
Professionals taking money for services from the public have a duty of care not only to ensure they abide by the law but they understand the implication if things go wrong and to also explain and assist you the owner as the same situation could quite easily happen. Did you know that your dog jumping up to say hello could get your lovable pup reported as a dangerous dog more importantly does the person you are paying know!
BBC (2010) Press Office, Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk (Accessed: 28/05/2019).
RSPCA. (2019) Facts and figures, Available at: http://www.rspca.org.uk (Accessed: 28/05/2019).
the national archives (2019) The Dangerous dogs act 1991, Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk (Accessed: 25/05/2019).
Dog on dog aggression is one of the most common behaviour problems that owners face, Dr Ian Dunbar states that the major reason why dogs become aggressive toward other dogs is that during their puppy-hood, dogs are often deprived of adequate socialisation with other good-natured dogs. As a result, many pups grow up with poor social skills, unable to ‘read’ other dogs and exchange subtle communication signals with them. So how can we ensure our dogs don’t end up one of these statistics? Socialisation clearly, but what does that mean? There are many misconceptions around this, one that I hear a great deal is ‘but we have other dogs’ having other dogs will not teach your puppy how to greet and play with dogs he has only just met! In fact, it could even make him worse. Do you greet your family in the same way you greet a stranger? All dogs just like us have their own individual characters, some need loads of exercise and love boisterous play others not so much, some like to play chase games some don’t want to play or even to say hello! Your pup needs to understand this and know how to interact with every dog.
Regular contact with playmates is necessary for dogs to develop social confidence. Sign up to a puppy class or find a small day centre that offers puppy mornings, your local vets may even have puppy parties. All interaction needs to be supervised to ensure they are positive socialisation experiences.
Follow us on facebook – watch our events page for upcoming social walks and training. http://www.facebook.com/doghampton
You need to be very fit for this.
You need to own a working type dog.
It is not suitable for pets
I wont fit in
My dog is too nervous to take part
All the above are false, One of the best trailing dogs I have seen is a Chihuahua called Flynn, (I think I have fallen in love with him)!! Most dogs can join in, any age and breed. We can make the trails suitable to you and your dog, for the adventurous we will aim towards woodland and cross country trails. For the less adventurous shorter trails on paths, grass areas and sometimes pubs!
If you think you are you ready for a fun new dog sport, but still unsure of signing up. Why not try an introduction day? 2 to 3 hours in a fab location, It will give you the chance to see how we work and whether this is for you.
WHAT IS MANTRAILING?
‘Mantrailing’ is the search for a specific person know as a runner (dont worry you dont have to run) by you and your dog. The dog is given the scent of the runner from a piece of their clothing (normally gloves or scarf) this if where we rely on the dogs amazing sense of smell and their instinctive behaviour to follow the direction the ‘runner’ went and eventually find them.
My dog cant do that Ill look like a fool
All dogs can. Some just take longer to learn the basics.
DO I NEED LOADS OF EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT?
We supply all that you require for the introduction session. As you move on through the levels, we can advise on dog equipment which is generally just a suitable harness and long lead (5 meters).
What personal equipment do I need?
Outdoor clothing, good outdoor footwear and possibly waterproofs for our lovely British weather!
Why trail with your dog?
1.Strengthens the bond and trust between you and your dog by working together to solve the problem.
2. Can help nervous dogs become more confident
3.Builds self-assurance, self-motivation, independence because they have to think for themselves.
4. Reduces stress and anxiety by the release of happy hormones.
5. Even if your dog has no recall it can still take part.
6. All breeds can join in
7 Teaches you to read your dogs body language
We work after the Kocher Method and only ever use positive reinforcement,
Rewarding teamwork and a knowledgeable Instructor is waiting to take you on your incredible journey.
Please check out our facebook page for upcoming events
Christmas is a happy time for humans to get together and be merry (or argue depending on your family) But it can be a stressful and confusing time for our dogs.
Routines change, more people visit, or they are alone more often than normal, most dogs like routine and can get anxious when there are changes. On top of this they now have to cope with a tree in the house they can’t pee on, it has shiny balls all over it and nobody throws them! sometimes there are even edible things hanging there too that can’t be eaten, interesting presents they can’t chew, twinkling lights with wires that bite.
Did you know some fir trees produce oils which are mildly toxic and if ingested could cause your dog to vomit or excessively drool.
We all know there are loads of Christmas foods which are poisonous or toxic to your dog, including grapes, sultanas chocolate and raisins,
mince pies, Christmas puddings, dried fruit nuts, chocolate, even something that sound like they could be safe often aren’t. Turkey scraps could contain tiny bones which are dangerous.
This doesn’t mean we should lock ourselves away and not celebrate, it’s just something all dog owners need to be aware of so we can make sure Christmas is a happy time for our dogs too.
Dog bites over the Christmas periods are higher than any other time of the year, in the majority of cases this involves young children. Not all dogs like tiny humans, they are loud and erratic. At Christmas they can be more excited than normal, maybe they have friends over, or even relatives the dogs have never even met!
All of this on top of probably getting less physical exercise than usual as we are all busy desperately trying to prep a meal and trimmings for the whole of the Moscow state circus !
Most well-socialised family dogs can cope with the temporary craziness of Christmas – and some actually enjoy it, however for a surprisingly large number it’s stressful and worrying. A dog that is under-exercised, over stimulated, under-supervised and over-threshold is an accident just waiting to happen.
So how can we prevent the dog from biting?
Make sure they get enough exercise, (it might actually help your stress levels to escape in the fresh air for an hour. Aunt Mable won’t notice the dust behind the chair!
Supervise all interactions between children and dogs. If you can’t, then create a safe space for your dog to get away
Try and keep your dog’s routine the same as always.
Watch out for any signs your dog might be getting stressed.
Licking their lips, or parts of their bodies
Following you around
peeing in the house
Pacing or shaking
Whining or barking. …
If you recognise the early signs then help your dog,
Give them a quiet area away from everyone. Maybe try Lick mats or a kong, with some tasty treats.
Have yourselves a merry Christmas and relax and enjoy the time with your friends and family knowing that your dogs are safe and happy too.
Pacing or shaking
Whining or barking. …
If you recognise the early signs then help your dog,
Give them a quiet area away from everyone. Maybe try Lick mats or a kong, with some tasty treats.
Have yourselves a merry Christmas and relax and enjoy the time with your friends and family knowing that your dogs are safe and happy too.
The line we use is the way we communicate to our dogs while they are working: The length between you and your dog needs to be long enough to allow your dog to work to the edges of the scent with minimal hindrance from us. If it is too short (which we see all the time) the dog will not be able to naturally follow the scent and work uninfluenced, too long and you will spend your time untangling it and tripping up your dog.
The tension on the line is so super important, I really cant stress this enough, Lines that drop on the floor with no tension and aren’t looped up quick enough often result in the dog being jerked at a critical point, (most common is after casting at a junction, the dog makes the correct direction choice, heads off quickly full of enthusiasm, reaches the end of the line with a jerk and reads this as a correction or a negative communication, the motivation drops and some dogs who are eager to please their owners will even just head off in the direction the handler is facing whether it is correct or not!
The line should NEVER be used to Influence your dog while they are working. Using the line to direct or guide your dog will simple teach them to rely on you and not their own abilities to follow the scent. Use your words to engage your dog to trail, and be patient, to quote Kevin Kocher
“communicating with your dog through the lead is part of handling a dog. It is what separates a dog handler from a lead holder”.
Don’t be a lead holder! your dog deserves more than that from you!
And finally never underestimate how your position behind your dog can unintentionally influence them on a trail. A line to short and a handler stood or facing to the left in a junction can and often and does encourage the dog to head off in that direction. Patience is the key, always, and I really do mean ALWAYS try to stay directly behind your dog at safe but non hindering distance. Some handlers have a right or left bias, meaning they naturally walk slightly to one side or another, at a greater distance behind your trailing dog this may not be problem, but closer, maybe in a busy town or next to traffic when the line needs to be shorter for safety reasons, this slight bias may make for bad decisions on your dogs part. Dogs are clever at reading us, and taking situational cues we don’t even realize we are showing, this is true in trailing too, as instructors we are very careful not to influence your dogs as we invariably know where the trails go and are very aware that some dogs will pick up on us standing still at a missed turn or moving over to one side or another when a turn approaches.
For the more advanced trailing teams we follow you when you make mistakes and encourage you to ‘have a plan’ and assist you in helping your dog make the right decision.
Some dogs are quick we know this and their directional changes are equally as rapid which will mean the line will end up on the floor, we understand this and totally sympathize with the difficulty as one of our dogs is just the same. The skill you have to practice is a little like cowboy rodeo training, gathering the line in a tidy loop at the same time as staying behind and facing the dog! I’m dizzy just typing this, but it can and must be done to ensure our dogs progress without influence or hindering, so grab your Stetson and get practicing!
How Scent and Airflow Works.
rattlerjen9 years ago
How do those dogs find missing people?
Remember PigPen from Charlie Brown? He always appeared to have clouds of dust coming off of him wherever he went. This is not far from the truth.
You have thousands of tiny pieces of your body leaving you every minute; 40,000 pieces to be exact. These tiny cornflake like bits are called rafts.
They are made up of skin cells, hygiene products, bacteria, fungus, parasites, sweat, hormones, and enzymes. They are unique to each individual human. Even skin rafts from identical twins are different. These are what dogs smell.
Some skin rafts are lighter in air, easily carried by air currents. Others are heavier than air, alighting on vegetation or falling to the ground.
Dog Handlers pay attention to air currents.
Skin rafts are carried along currents of air like millions of fluffy dandelion seeds.
We pay attention to physics. Warm Air rises
and Cool air sinks. Cold and moisture make air heavier. Your skin rafts first leave your body at about 2mph up in the air traveling along the current of air your 98.6 degree F produces.
Without any air movement
scent diffuses evenly
But of course, there is always something making air move.
When things are perfect, scent moves predictably like this:
Objects and other factors often cause air to move like this:
Turbulent Air Flow
Turbulent air flow causes handlers and their canines to mutter choice words under their breaths.
Different Types of Airflow
Normal Daytime Air
When the ground heats up during the day time, air begins to rise.
Normal Nighttime Air
When the ground begins to cool, air cools and begins to fall. It flows downhill like water.
- movement of scent from subject downwind in the shape of a cone
- during cloud covered days or nights
- travels long distances
- ideal for dogs
A dog will run perpendicular to the flow of the scent crossing in and out of the scent cone zeroing in to its source.
- occurs in the morning before sunup
- scents travel down valleys like water
- subjects on a hill can be detected by dog down below
- It is good to get dogs out before sunrise
- Occurs after sun sets
- The ground is cooling but aloft air is still warm
- usually occurs in valleys first then other areas later on
- Work dogs on the high ground in the evening
- at night in stable air
- scent holds at the same elevation level without falling or rising
- dog may alert across a drainage or canyon at the same level, but can’t find a person
- Be sure to report your alerts as scent can carry
- collects in an area like a pool of water
- usually occurs in a low area
- Occurs where there is little dispersal of scent by the wind
- It hard for dog to follow a scent pool to the subject
- circular air forms behind an object (turbulence)
- prevents scent from traveling along prevailing wind
- example: eddies form at a line of trees next to an open field
- Occurs in clear sky or with high clouds
- Occurs at midday, a high convection situation
- scent rises, cools, falls, heats up, rises, cools, falls, etc.
- Dog will alert by putting his head up, but will lose the scent.
- Happens when air currents move straight up an object
- alerts may occur nearby -but-
- scent may come down as much as several hundred meters away from the subject
- This makes it nearly impossible for the dog to find the subject
- You should check around tall objects in the area
- caused by significant temperature and humidity differences in short distances
- changes in elevation
- drastic changes in shade and sunny spots
- creates a wall like barrier of scent
I think the frustration with hounds comes from a lack of understanding of them and what their original purpose for being selectively being bred.
Hounds do not believe that they NEED you. You are a lovely part of their day – like a favorite coffee cup or a favorite pair of shoes. If the cup is broken or the shoes are lost, we can get along just fine with another.
Let me explain:
Where other breeds of dogs like Labradors, Shepherds, Border Collies, and a host of others are bred to work WITH man; their original bred temperament is to work alongside man in cooperation to achieve a goal.
The Border Collie follows man’s commands to herd the livestock. The Lab follows the hunter’s commands to get the quarry – so and so forth. They are a teammates of man. Neither can do their work without the other — and so they have been bred for eons to have that in their make up — to be anxious to please. Even the worst behaved Labrador cares when mom and dad are annoyed. It is in their DNA to make man happy.
Hounds… not so much.
Hounds have been bred for eons to be taken out to the edge of the woods or field and be let loose to go out and do what they do with NO INSTRUCTION from the hunter or handler. They go out and do their thing, all on their own. They make their own decisions and do their own work. And when that work is done and they have found their quarry, they command/call the hunter to come to them with those beautiful voices. (Who is working for whom in that scenario?)
Do you see how your hound thinks differently?
Life with a Hound is far more like having a spouse than a dog. It is far more of a “cooperative effort” with all the give and take that implies. Hounds are not going to do what you say just because you have said it. You are secondary to their desire. There has to be something in it for them. There has to be a trade off. If there is no reward or benefit for the Hound, the Hound cares little what you are asking him/her to do. People incorrectly refer to this as being stubborn – or worse, stupid.
Hounds are actually neither of those things – they are just independent and cunning. They prioritize things differently than do other breeds. They prioritize differently and you are not always their priority.
And, This is EXACTLY AS THEY SHOULD BE.
They were bred to be this way. It is all necessary to be a Successful hound dog.
When working with a Hound you have to always be thinking:
How do I make myself the priority?
What do I have to give this dog to make me more important than what it smells – or wants?
(and do not expect that anything will ever be 100% successful every time – always be looking for your Hound to act like a Hound.)
We humans always think we are in charge of things. We think that we are top of the chain, the head honcho’s…and we naturally approach training our dogs and living with our dogs this way – as though we are in charge.
Your Hound doesn’t see it that way.
Your Hound – at best – sees you as a family member or as a sibling (if you are very fortunate – as a parent). Do you walk into your sister or brother’s house, start barking orders and they hop to?
Mostly your Hound sees you as a good friend. And what do we do with our friends? When a friend does something for us, we return those favors. There is give and take. When a friendship is out of balance – when one friend takes and takes but does not give – the friendship suffers.
Hounds are happiest when their humans are humble and work with their character. A bond with a hound is not an easy one to create. There is a lot of ground work involved but when it is established and the balance is there, it’s a beautiful thing.
So if you have a hound or want one, love and appreciate them for what they are and not what they aren’t.
(This is a repost from a few different areas on the web where the author is unknown. If anyone knows of the author I would be happy to tag them!)
Owning a nervous dog can be hard work. It can not only be distressing, but also isolating for you and your dog. The opportunity to join in with classes or meet other dog owners can be difficult. When building confidence in your dog we want to create positive experiences for them, and encourage them to want to investigate new things. These are built into the very essence of mantrailing.
Mantrailing is teaching your dog to find a specific person’s scent. All dogs are born being able to use their nose so what we’re teaching them isn’t anything new to them. But instead we are just directing their natural talent into a confidence building game using the power of scent, which allows your dog to work naturally in a fun way.
The olfactory bulb in your dogs brain, which processes scents takes up 1/8th of the dogs whole brain. This is why the dogs sense of smell is the their most prominent sense. The olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system which is the part of the brain which deals with emotions, memory and behaviour. Scent passes through this when being processed by the brain, it also travels to the cortex which deals with conscious thought.
Positive associations with scent allow the brain to release endorphins and serotonin. These hormones allow the dog to feel good about what they are doing, and these positive memories are brought to the forethought as they work on the scent again. The scent informs the dogs about the good things, but it also forewarns about the bad. Smells last for a lifetime in the memory of dogs and if we can build positive associations with a specific scent there is a huge foundation to work with.
Dogs can even distinguish the direction of travel of the scent, as well as time passed and the individual’s scent.
Another way mantrailing helps your dog become more confident and overcome their fears, is there always an exciting reward waiting at the end of the trail. This reward and its presentation is individual to each dog. They are able to work as an individual and make choices about how close they want to approach the person or not, we don’t want to create a conflict in the dog about going over to the person.
On introduction courses we can use people the dogs know as their trail layer for the first trail, and then from there we transition onto unknown trail layers when the dog is comfortable and knows the game. These unknown trailer layer do not have to interact with the dog at all and just become the scent to follow in order to get to the prize at the end, be that the food, or a toy. Surprisingly many dogs that initially show avoidance towards the trail layer will start warming up to them after a few trails, and want to investigate them as they have a positive experience with them and are not put into a contradictive situation.
As mantrailing is a dog sport where dogs are worked one at a time, it is ideal for those dogs who are worried about other dogs. Once they get into the task, they often become oblivious to the things around them and they can start to ignore other dogs, or things that would normally frighten or distract them. It can help them get past some fears by indirectly exposing the dog to them. Mantrailing helps create a shift in priorities for your dog from looking for danger, to following the scent. They are less likely to react to things that may trigger them normally.
If we use a toy as a reward, we have to make sure that we choose and instruct a trail layer that is capable of presenting or playing with the toy to ensure that we have the best reward possible for the dog. The sheer existence of the toy is often not enough for the dog, it needs to be interactive in a way that is positive for the dog.
If we use food as our reward, we want it to be licked out of the pot. Licking for dogs has been scientifically proven to release endorphins, the hormone linked to the feeling of happiness in dogs.
Article from Mantrailing uk
Let’s talk about separation anxiety for a moment!
A label I hate, and a condition I personally find frustrating.
It’s often misused as a blanket term without understanding the actual cause.
Some dogs are just bored when they are left alone, some not trained to be alone, others left in a state of arousal.
Ask yourself does your dog stress because:
(Separation anxiety)- there are no humans with them?
(Separation frustration) (fomo! More frustration than anxiety.) – something is going on that they are not included in.
(Barrier frustration) – when there is a gate or blockage between you?
(Isolation distress) – They are alone completely isolated?
(Hyper- attachment) – they cannot cope without their primary care giver.
This list is not entire but for now I’ll expand on the last.
Hyper dependancy or hyper attachment can be common with rescue dogs. It is easy to understand why, they have lost everything, sometimes more than once. Now they have everything, food, warm bed, toys, treats, someone to look after their every need, they will never be hungry or cold again. It is easy for them to attach to their new owners a little too much and you almost become an enabler for the anxiety!
In the firsts fees weeks/ months it’s a fine balance with emotionally scared dogs, they need to feel safe and grow confidence. This will only happen with a bond and knowing they are supporting. But a hyper attachment will hinder this growth as they will use you as a shield, and ultimately may even begin to guard you as a prized procession they will not be able to cope for a second without you. They may even begin to look for signs that you may leave, (picking keys up ect) Their lives will be full of stress even if it’s subtle it can still lead to massive problems.
Sign of stress
Barking / howling / whining
Only eating with you.
Following you everywhere
Scratching (themselves or objects)
Staying at the last place you were
Watching doors window
Chewing your things
Again this list goes on…
Most things you’ll read about solving this will not be aimed at rescue dogs with emotional baggage. Tread carefully you could make matters worse.
My rescue street dog ‘Goose’ came to me from Cyprus aged six and half months old, for 3 days I allowed him to bond and get used to his new home. I let him follow me everywhere and spent every minute with him.
From day 4, I closed the gate to the kitchen whilst cooking, making lunch or a brew. To begin with he sat with his nose pushed through the gap watching my every move. If I went out of sight he whimpered. If he had been quiet for a few seconds I would go back to the gate and give hime a treat. We built the time between treats, as he began to relax and lay by the gate whithout making a sound when I was out of sight. We extended this to me leaving the kitchen (through the other door) just out and back in, to start with.
For the next 11 days this is all I did, tiny little steps of time or in new area. Goose now lays in his bed on the landing when I shower. Stays in the lounge when I use the loo. Even stays in the lounge when I make a cuppa.
Today I left him in the house without a human for the first time.
I prepped by leaving the tv on, put my boots on, picked up my keys, all low key, no big fuss, dropped some treats on the floor and walked out.
I left the doors open so he could come to the hall gate and see I wasn’t there, he walked back and forth a few times and gave a little whimper or two. But that was it. I was out for 8 minutes, and at this point that’s fine, I will now build this up in tiny steps.
He needs to be happy on his own. Taking the time to get this right now will make things so much easier later on. He is an amazing little dog and deserves everything I can give him to ensure his further happy and stress free.
A brilliant article by Julia Langland
A diet that is high in protein can certainly affect behaviour in some dogs. Dogs on a commercial complete diet containing too much protein can suffer from anxiety, aggression, restlessness, light sleep and depression. Too much protein in the diet can also exacerbate existing mental health/nervous system issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. This is due to a lack of serotonin in the brain which regulates mood. Serotonin production relies heavily on the amino acid tryptophan which is found in many ingredients such as fish, eggs and chicken. Unfortunately in an excessively high protein diet this essential amino acid – tryptophan- has to compete with other amino acids also found in proteins. Competing in this way can result in low levels of tryptophan and therefore difficulty producing serotonin and in turn cause instability of mood. Most dogs are quite happy on a high protein diet, but some dogs may have insufficient serotonin production as a baseline and it is these individuals that may benefit from the trial of a lower protein diet.
The average protein content of a middle of the road ‘one size fits all’ dog food marketed as a maintenance food for an adult dog usually contains around 25% protein. An adult dog’s average protein requirement for weight maintenance is around 18%, most working dogs require around 25% and a racing sled dog during work requires around 35%. So for a dog in a pet home the maintenance diets available would appear to be only suitable to the athletic working dog due to the elevated protein content, or are they? Unfortunately manufacturers of pet foods are geared towards profit, to this end the ingredients list can be very misleading. There are vast differences in the qualities of different protein sources with some generically termed proteins being difficult or impossible for the dog to metabolise. Any protein termed as ‘animal’ ‘meat’ or ‘poultry’ is generally speaking likely to be of a very low quality, look instead for specifics such as ‘chicken’ ‘beef’ or ‘lamb’. Although the vast proportion of complete pet foods available appear to have too high a protein content this is not always the whole truth and they could actually be of a very low ‘useful-protein’ value contrary to the company marketing insinuations. Careful analysis of the labelling of a food is required to make sense of the confusing terms, unfortunately a full breakdown of ingredients is often not available on the packaging – however details are usually available on the manufacturer’s website or upon request.
There are a vast myriad of complete foods to choose from but there appears to be a huge gap in the market as I have found to my irritation. Most foods that contain high quality, easy to absorb protein tend to be very expensive and excessively high in protein making them only entirely suited to very active dogs in full time work, whereas the cheaper lower protein foods available, although initially appear ideal, are virtually all made up of exclusively low grade protein meaning that the already low protein content is very much lower than initial analysis would suggest. The only way I have found to comfortably match the protein requirements of my particular pack has been to find a 23% chicken protein food and to keep the dog’s exercise on the vigorous end of the scale! In summer when this level of exercise is not really practical due to the dog’s thick double coats I reduce the protein content by reverting to the same brand’s ‘mature’ food which is almost identical in every respect but includes less calories and only 19% chicken protein, in this way I allow for the more sedate period without changing the composition of the food too much. This works for me but finding a solution entailed a lot of research in order to cut through the different terms and marketing jargon.
As tryptophan is found in abundance in poultry and eggs a good way to ensure that your dog is getting enough is to feed a chicken based food of suitable overall protein content rather than one based on red meat, or to supplement a standard food with egg white. Egg white is an excellent source of protein and contains over 40 different proteins including all 20 proteogenic amino acids required for protein synthesis. It is the best ‘dog suitable’ source of tryptophan and as it has a low calorific content is a good solution for adjusting the intake of tryptophan and other amino acids without the need to adjust the calorie intake/amount food, this is a way of introducing a good balance of amino acids without increasing the calorie intake/exercise requirements.There are also some excellent supplements available that maximise serotonin production.
B6 is required for the conversion of tryptophan and supports the nervous system. Other B vitamins are required for the efficient absorption of B6 so the addition of a B vitamin complex to the diet can help where dog continues to exhibit symptoms despite appropriate adjustments to protein content in the diet. In addition to this some disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder can severely deplete levels of serotonin, put simply, due to the dogs elevated and frequent perceived need for a fight or flight response. In cases where dogs are experiencing anxiety to the level where the skin is dry and flaky (this can be a side effect of stress), a good alternative to/addition to albumen is oily fish such as sardines, these are good for replacing the oils in the coat and skin during periods of stress as well as being a good source of tryptophan, if sardines are tinned in oil and the oil is to be given too, the addition of sardines should be limited to once or twice a week to avoid digestive upsets.
It should be noted that very low protein diets may stunt growth in younger dogs and compromise the immune systems of all, a total of 22 essential amino acids are required for a healthy diet and reducing the protein content of the diet severely is not recommended, a diet with 18% being of a good quality protein is the ideal to trial if serotonin production is thought to be a factor, as a maintenance diet for an adult dog that is not in work.
Lowering protein in the diet is unlikely to eliminate aggressive or anxious behaviour entirely but in some cases will allow the dog to achieve the correct brain chemistry and enable a more successful outcome to any programme of behaviour modification.
The blood pounded in my ears the deafening echo of my heart filled my head making it impossible to think, my breathing so rapid I can’t get the oxygen I need to stop the panic I can feel bubbling up inside me.
The figure from the distance still running straight at me, My vision disfigured through the panic as if looking through a fish-eye lens. I have to get away I have to escape this creature who has me firmly in its sights. My friend has hold of me reassuring me that everything is ok, but I feel trapped and scared, overwhelmed by fear too much to even understand the words she is saying. And then it’s upon me, it’s hot breath in my face, the heady smell of it drowning out everything. I twist and turn trying to escape but she holds me tighter telling me it’s all going to be fine. My breathing is so hard, with every lung full reeking of his scent as if choking me with his stench.
If cry out in fear with my chest growing tight and still he is there breathing on my neck touching me taunting me. If I do nothing I will die! My instinct to survive takes over and I sink my teeth into him!
The ordeal is finally over I can breath again. But my friend is shouting I’m a ‘bad dog’ and “he just wanted to play”.
Running straight into the face of an unknown dog is NOT ‘FRIENDLY’.
It is rude and confrontational.
Any dog can be rude occasionally, they are animals but as owners we need to understand their world better and help them interact, after all many of these behaviours are because we have intervened in the natural interactions between dogs,
When we restrict our dog’s options to move away from something scary, we often remove the “flight option.” This leaves the dog few other choices, and one of them is often the “fight option.”
Never allow your dog to run up to another unless the owners have said its ok too, and even then remember that things can quickly change between dogs. My suggestion is the 3 second rule. Three seconds is the maximum amount of time the first meeting should last between dogs. This is more than enough time for the dog’s nose to have taken in and process an immense amount of information. Never pull your dog away as we don’t want either dog thinking there is anything negative about the meeting. A simple ‘this way’ or ‘come on’ maybe showing their ball if they have one. Many owners make the mistake of waiting that bit longer to see if they ‘get on’ or misreading a ‘freeze’ or other subtle body gestures that mean “I don’t like you furball, leave me alone”!
Do you use punishment when teaching and living with your dog?
Many people say that they don’t use punishment, but are they correct? What is punishment anyway?
Punishment: An operant conditioning term that refers to the application or removal of something immediately following a behaviour in order to reduce the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated again in the future.
The word ‘punishment’ has such a stigma attached to it with regards dog psychology/training – it seems to be only associated with abuse and bad practise in the public eye. This is understandable as we tend to think of punishment in human terms, as retribution, paying for misdeeds or ‘getting our own back’. We think of parking fines and imprisonment, loss of freedom etc. So in this context it would be an unpleasant and largely ineffective training approach if applied to dogs!
In the scientific context however the term ‘punishment’ is completely misunderstood. It refers to the act of providing a consequence in relation to a behaviour in order to decrease the likelihood of that behaviour being repeated, the ‘punishment’ is delivered in a neutral state and no emotion is implied or involved. This should be descriptive and usually ‘blocks’ an unwanted behaviour before it starts to escalate, thus allowing for an alternative behaviour to be trained in it’s place so that we can reward this, and teach a better response or reaction in future. So, looking at it this way, this is not cruel or abusive at all, it is a very basic fundamental need, it ensures clarity and confidence in behaviours, allows us to halt a ritual that is damaging so that we can redirect onto a great alternative that is rewarding. This maximises the potential for enjoyment of joint activities and ensures that the dog has all of the information that he needs to live in our complex world and to thrive, be included in family life and enjoy freedom within the structure. Dogs with boundaries are relaxed and confident, they know the rules, stress levels are low and security is high!
A dog leaving his food in order to go for a drink from the water bowl and returning to find that the cat has finished his dinner – the act of abandoning his meal has been punished. He may begin to guard his food from the cat – so not a good outcome here. Or he may merely learn to be more watchful when the cat is around – maybe doling out a bit of punishment himself in the form of strong eye contact. We could avoid this entirely by not allowing the cat to approach the food bowl.
Saying ‘No’ with a firm glance when our dog goes to steal our lunch is a punishment. In future he will understand that our food is off limits – possibly a life saver if that food happens to be a bowl of unattended chocolate raisins!
Telling off a dog that has chewed up the sofa earlier that day is punishing. Not a good time to punish however – the chewing was probably stress related due to our absence, likely due to our poor planning or a lack of fulfilment in the dog, and probably occurred hours ago! This is not an appropriate time or context to use punishment at all. Punish yourself by hitting the credit card to buy another sofa but don’t punish the dog, it’s too late, it’s not appropriate and it could make matters worse!
Putting a tennis ball into a pocket when our dog bites at our hand in excitement for a game is a punishment, this provides not only a punishing consequence for the teeth to maintain safety, but very importantly, provides a consequence for excessive excitement (this part is passive association so isn’t technically punishment, but it is an association that is super-important!!). Excitement slips into anxiety very easily and isn’t a good state to promote, we CERTAINLY shouldn’t throw the ball at this point.
Clapping your hands to interrupt with a startle as a dog dips her head into the bin to retrieve the string from the Sunday Roast is a punishment! Again possibly a life saving punishment, there’s tin foil and cooked chicken bones in there too!
Punishment gets a terrible reputation because of the potential for abuse, and some terrible misapplication in the past, BUT It is the way in which punishment is applied, and the circumstances surrounding the punishment that makes it a kindness or a cruelty, not the act itself.
A punishment that is too extreme, inappropriate in context or administered in anger or frustration is not in the spirit of natural punishment, and would be better termed abuse! In nature dogs gain such a lot of information from the environment through punishments and rewards – equally. They learn what is safe and healthy and what is not, how to approach dogs if they want to play and what kind of approach results in social aggression, they learn what gets them what they want and they learn the boundaries of others – in our complicated and busy human world we need to be sure to describe the many rules to live by very clearly indeed. If we tell our dogs what to do and reward then this is a great start! We mustn’t omit the other side of the coin however, rules that are enforced maintain physical safety, and promote emotional calmness. This is a need and a right, this is our job as caretaker, owner and as the dog’s family.
It is very unfortunate that behavioural research adopted the term ‘punishment’ in this way. The negative cultural connotations associated with it in no way describe the scientific principle related to decreasing a given behaviour. Historically punishment has been misapplied and this has created a huge taboo when discussing the concept frankly and openly. But I think we need to be clear about what it is we are referring to when we discuss any terms used in behaviour modification, as some such as this could be misconstrued. In fact they regularly are – and this is currently leading to a sinister upsurge of unbalanced, unhappy, stressed and miserable dogs. It is no freak coincidence that euthanasia within rescue, and dog bites have increased massively since society adopted the ‘punishment is nasty and unnecessary’ stance. I think that many people have thrown the baby, the bath and their common sense out with the bath water! In the true sense punishment is calming and descriptive, necessary and kind.
So to sum up, unless we allow our dogs to do only what they want to do when they want to do it, and hang the consequences, safety and emotional balance, then perhaps a more accurate statement would be to say that we ‘do not use abusive methods’. Or perhaps we could state that we ‘avoid all but low level correction’, ‘preferring to use reward based training where possible’. This would be more accurate and would be a great basis for training and behaviour! Genuine ‘reward only’ approach is not kind at all when it comes to behaviour intervention for the most part! It is a bastardisation of the science, it is ineffective for many dogs and for addressing many issues, and for me can be as confusing and cruel as adopting an approach that is devoid of all reward.
Food for thought… both punishment AND reward can be a kindness or a cruelty. One without the other will never be enough to help every dog in every scenario.
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article by Andrea D. Steffen May 14, 2019
Blood-sniffing dogs may become the latest frontier in cancer detection, a new study presented at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting during the 2019 Experimental Biology conference in Orlando, Florida reveals.
By using their superb sense of smell — which is 10,000 times more accurate than a human’s, therefore making them highly sensitive to odors we can’t perceive — the trained lab dogs were able to pick-out blood samples from cancer patients with 97 percent accuracy. Did we even need another reason to call dogs “man’s best friend?”
Heather Junqueira, lead researcher on the study, says the results could lead to canine detection as a low-cost, non-invasive approach to cancer screening and perhaps other diseases. Dogs may also be able to detect cancer earlier than other traditional exams, she added.
“This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools. One is using canine scent detection as a screening method for cancers, and the other would be to determine the biologic compounds the dogs detect and then design cancer-screening tests based on those compounds.”
Four beagles were taught to distinguish between healthy blood samples and those from patients with malignant lung cancer by Janqueira and her team at BioScentDx, the lab where the study was performed. One did not cooperate, but the other three dogs were able to identify cancerous samples 96.7 percent of the time.
Current And Future Studies
Now they are testing whether dogs can smell cancer in the breath condensate of breast cancer patients. The company launched a breast cancer study in which participants donate samples of their breath for screening by trained cancer-sniffing dogs. Next, they plan to isolate the chemical compounds in samples and find out exactly where the odor originates. They are quite confident the dogs will be able to perform well through all the types of smell tests they put them through.
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