Category Archives: Pet Guardians

Puppies 4- 6 weeks.

Week 4 to 8 is when change is occurring rapidly for baby puppies.

This blog will deal with the changes in week 4 – 6. In the last blog (click here) I was talking about the puppies being still very much in the xpen. From 5 weeks of age they start to find out ab0ut the big wild world outside of the pen. This has to be done with caution of course as they are susceptible to many diseases and accidents at this age. They have fairly good immunity from disease still from mum but it is not good for them to be in environments where the disease or vaccination status of other animals is not know. As they are tiny they also must be carefully supervised around even the best tempered adult dog. Baby dogs like human babies have no comprehension that a growl is in fact a signal to back off. They just keep coming and can be far to “in the faces” of adult dogs.

Week 4 to 6 milestones are:

  • Now going out and about. They would have been outside more but the weather was too wet and the ground too muddy. However they went into a specially constructed pen in the training center for a few days a week initially then for 5 days in week 6
  • They got to meet new people
  • They carefully started interaction with selected adult dogs.
  • Recall training is started (off lead using pup, pup, pup whenever I wanted them to come to me).
  • Toilet training is started. They are praised for all wees and poos outside. When getting out of the car they are released from their car carrier and placed on the ground where the natural instinct is that most puppies wee. They are told what clever dogs they are and if possible given a treat
  • Car training starts – in a secure car crate
  • Mum helps with all of this training and starts to wean them off her milk
  • Different food sources are introduced
  • Puppies start to explore their environment.
  • Relationship with humans deepens greatly mostly via the provision of food and fun
  • They play more and more with each other and bite inhibition is learnt.
  • A good day/night regimen is formed.
  • Separation anxiety is guarded against by letting them spend time alone away from humans.
  • The start of grooming and handling training by touching feet, noses, ears, mouth etc.
  • They learn that humans are associated with rewards that are delivered for when a behaviour happens that is acceptable. At this age there is only use of +R  and a very light amount of -P (in that if they are whining they don’t get attention) However the owner should be ensuring that no whining occurs as all needs should be predicted before that point.

 

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Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

About Me 

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Miniature Poodle puppies 6-8 weeks

These weeks build on the solid foundation of the previous 6 weeks. If all has been done well then by now puppies are confident, eating well, sleeping through the night, not barking, not whining and interested in exploring new environments, people and animals that come their way. They are not showing signs of being unwilling to go somewhere new and are happy. healthy bouncy puppies.

The highlights of this phrase include:

  • Now actually interacting with adult dogs and learning how to use cut off signals to indicate they are no threat and learning that they can not rush headlong into the face of an adult dog.
  • Learning from their litter mates how to use their teeth in play.
  • Increasing variety of food being introduced
  • More and more outings to puppy safe venues
  • Increased independence from mum and the other puppies
  • Grooming training  starts (this is very important for poodle puppies)
  • Reinforcement of a good day/night routine
  • Being separated from humans and other dogs for part of the time so that separation anxiety is not going to become an issue.
  • Recall training, start of lead training, start of loose lead walking training (being asked to follow a human around without a lead)
  • Introduction of enrichment toys such as food dispensing toys.
  • Spending time as single pups away from other dogs so they can handle being an only dog.
  • Exploring the outside world and finding out about wind, rain, horses, cattle, leaves, trees and that fences mean containment.
  • Learning how not to be afraid during a thunderstorm
  • Learning how not to be afraid when they hear loud sounds like radios, gun shots, trains, cars, trucks, babies crying etc.

Just a quick comment on vaccination. I follow the most up to date schedule for vaccination from Dr Jean Dodds, a world expert on vaccination, and do not give the first vaccination (C3) until puppies are 8 weeks of age. I then only give one more after 16 weeks of life and then no further vaccination for the rest of the life of the dog. I also do not microchip until as close to over 8 weeks as possible as I feel it is fairly traumatic for baby puppies. It is required as a condition of sale in my state. The puppies are wormed at 3 and 6 weeks and then again as they are about to go to their new homes.

Regards
Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

About Me 

Training puppies for grooming

Establishing a good relationship with a puppy or dog is not just about teaching them to sit, stay or come when called. Grooming is a vital part of their basic training and in my opinion training adult and puppy dogs to accept the grooming process is very much over looked by groomers, trainers and pet parents. The grooming process is not natural for dogs, especially when very aversive equipment like clippers and high velocity dryers are used in the process. Dogs need to be taught to accept the equipment and the handling that inherent in the grooming process.

Puppies such as poodles, have a coat that requires high maintenance and it is important that a relationship with their owners and/or professionals is established based around grooming  as early as possible. This relationship must be one based on trust that they will not be frightened by the equipment required and that the person undertaking the grooming has an ability to observe and interpret canine body language.  If you are not proficient in understanding what a dog looks like when it is scared and how to stop that from happening then you should not be grooming any dog, let alone a vulnerable baby puppy.

Video One shows how to develop a caring and as stress free grooming relationship as possible for a puppy. This miniature poodle puppy is 7 weeks old and step one is to get it used to being up on  a high table and to accept the attention from brushes, combs and being touched in an way that is not natural for a dog. An important point is this is not done after washing a dog. It is undertaken at a totally different time when the pup is totally relaxed. Stacking the activities of a scary wash and then up on  a high table will increase the stress for the pup and set him or her up for failure before you even start.


(the noise in the background of this video is rain on the tin roof)

The second very important point is that restraint SHOULD NOT BE USED during these initial grooming training sessions. My reasoning is that dogs that get frightened of something need to be able to move away from it. Adding any sort to restraint in grooming training will automatically make it an aversive process  so that the pup is unable to learn as it is stuck in fear mode. Learning to handle restraint should be done separately once the puppy is comfortable on the table. The puppy should never be left on the table and all equipment should be placed in advance so that the handler can keep one hand on the pup at all times. This can be done at home by owners using a table with a non slip bath mat. Not only does it train for grooming but it also gives valuable one on one time that enables relationship building. 

The next step in the grooming process is teaching a dog or puppy not to be frightened of a dryer. The high velocity dryer is THE most abusive item of grooming equipment in a dog grooming salon. Most dogs are terrified of it and have every right to be so. It is a piece of equipment designed for groomers who want to do the maximum number of dogs in the shortest period of time. It is one of the big reasons I can no longer subject dogs to the practice of professional grooming. It is vital that any dog that will be attending a professional groomer is trained to accept this practice.  How long it takes for a dog to become ok with this process depends on the skill of the groomer in reading canine body language and the overall socialization and fearfulness of the dog or puppy. This training should NEVER be done when the dog is being presented for its first groom.

The important points to note are:

  • No restraint
  • Diffuser off the dryer
  • Dryer on lowest possible setting
  • Start with counter conditioning to just the noise (i.e. dyer on ground and not pointed at the dog)
  • Dryer aimed at the dog for very short bursts of seconds only and never at the head
  • Watch the dog and stop immediately you see escalation of minor stress signs such as lip licking, freezing,  ears back and yawning.
  • The whole process is performed often for very short periods not rarely for long periods. (This is why is cannot be started in the context of a grooming session)

The next video is with a different puppy and shows some of the signs to look for in a pup that is not ok with the process.

  • Pup stopped eating so counter-conditioning was not being effective as pup was too scared by the process. Dryer needed to be further away.
  • Body Language becomes stiffer, more lip licking, not able to head turn and became stuck in one place on the table.
  • Reward used was not high enough and scary object was too close.
  • Pup startles at 1.30 minutes indicating it went into fear mode.

This is just a quick overview of training puppies for grooming using positive force free methods. It is part of a larger body of work I am putting together. If you need assistance on an particular grooming issues please contact us via the comments section or email.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

About Me 

Summer is here- Quick shave off the dogs!

Dogs come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and colours; they also have different grooming needs. Read more here. What they don’t vary in is that they are susceptible to heat stroke and get matted if not brushed effectively. So it follows that you shave off all dogs in summer to keep them cool don’t you? Is that idea based in science or is it based on humans who think that dogs cool the same way we do?

Do we shave Poodles, Shih Tzu’s and Maltese to make them cooler or just to make them easier to maintain?

Should we shave Border Collies, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Siberian Huskies?

Humans cool by producing sweat from our biggest organ, the skin, and cool by the effect of evaporation of this perspiration as air moves across our skin. This system is controlled by a sweating centre in the brain.  Dogs however have a panting centre which stimulates panting which is rapid shallow breathing that causes air to be passed through the nose and over the tongue allowing efficient evaporation to occur. The tongue has a rich blood supply and heat produced in the muscles and tissues enters the blood and is transported to the tongue. A dog’s nose maximizes this process due to its many tissue folds that increase the surface area the air can come in contact with and body heat is reduced.

Dogs also have sweat glands in their feet and ears; however they are inefficient and play a very small role in thermoregulation. A dog’s fur acts as insulation both against heat and cold, functioning much like the insulation in the roof or walls of your house. It keeps in warm air and cool air as required. Their skin has a number of hairs growing through each follicle with a guard hair that is normally longer than the others. Dog’s piloerect (raise these guard hairs) by contracting or lengthening muscle fibres therefore insulating against cold and heat with degree of insulation increasing with fur thickness. The natural seasonal shedding in summer and winter is the dog’s way of dealing with the amount of hair required to cope with varying temperature demands but only if the dog is kept well groomed.   Dog’s also utilise behavioural adaptations to handle heat, resting in the heat of the day and being more active at dusk and dawn.

So let’s say we decide to clip off a Border collie or Golden Retriever, what happens to its ability to deal with heat?   Biophysics, in the form of Newton’s law of cooling, provides a formula for measuring temperature at the tip of a hair and temperature at the surface of the skin and this estimates the ability of hair to conduct heat. Studies show that dogs with longer hair have less heat at the skin than those with shorter hair.  If you surgically clip with a very short blade such as a 10 or 30 the number becomes dangerously high. Hence educated groomers will attempt to find a happy medium between clipping short and clipping off half the length of the coat using snap on combs. If the dog’s coat is heavily matted and removed and the night time temperature decreases then the dog will be losing skin heat i.e. becoming hypothermic. A matted coat impedes the dog’s ability to vary the length of the hair (piloerection) and the mats also alter the dog’s ability to dump heat from their skin surface to the outside air, thereby causing heat stress. Therefore dogs that heat stress do so not because of the length of the coat but due to the coat holding unwanted loose hair. 

Barbara Bird, Certified Master Groomer, recognised worldwide as a leading groomer educator, has this to say about clipping dog breeds.

“In the US, a growing number of groomers are declining to do shave downs on double coated breeds, or will do them only when the owner signs a release form that states that they are aware of the possible outcomes and agree to hold the groomer harmless in the event of poor regrowth, sun damage, or heat related episodes”

Continuing to clip off dogs whose coats are not meant to be clipped can lead rise to clipping alopecia and also often produces a coat that is short but is in fact more prone to harbouring fleas and ticks as the coat is shorter but more dense.

(insert picture of clipper alopecia)

Do I clip off my black Belgian Shepherds when we get consistent temperature over 30oC in summer?

No I don’t but I do try to ensure they have well groomed, dematted coats, plenty of drinking water and a cool place to lie. I do some clipping for my very old dogs to remove some coat around the britches and groin area. Your groomer can advise on humane methods of dematting that maintain the guard hairs but remove the shedding undercoat and this should be undertaken 3 or 4 times per year as the natural coat growth/shedding cycle occurs.

For the full scientific principle and references used to produce this article – click here.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

About Me 

Winter comes again!

It feels like is was only yesterday and we were in the middle of winter 2012, yet here we are back again facing winter 2013.

Not much has changed except that we are all one year older and one year more creaky and less able to cope with the cold. Our dogs and cats that is of course !

What are the major issues that older animals have to cope with:

1) Arthritis

As nutrition and veterinary care becomes better our animals are living longer and longer. It is not uncommon to hear of dogs living until nearly 20 and cats for even longer. However their bodies were not designed to live that long. Their major joints such as back, hips and knees are prone to arthritis which is very susceptible to cold weather.  As your dog or cat ages they will not handle winter nearly as well. The first line of defence is to provide better bedding to take away the cold hard feeling of the floor and to elevate them off the floor. Then comes the addition of food additives such as Joint Guard and Sasha’s blend. As they age and these measures no longer give relief then it is time to progress to anti-inflammatory tablets and then finally to injections. Older animals need to go to the vets each winter for a checkup and discussion about their needs.

 

2) Grooming

Dogs that are clipped off during summer (to cope with the heat supposedly  still need regular grooming over winter. In fact they  need more grooming as longer coat means more matting. Please do not leave long coated dogs to become horrible matted messes that you think can only be removed when the weather gets warmer. Well trained and knowledgeable groomers can take of as much or as little coat as you like as they work with blades of varying lengths. The most common request over winter is FFB (meaning face, feet and bottom). I have a number of customers who I see all year around and in winter the coat is left much longer than in summer but still fully groomed out. Matted coat is not healthy and leads to skin issues and pain for the dog or cat.

 

3) Feeding quantities may vary over winter with some dogs being more sedentary and needing less calories to meet nutritional needs. Dogs or cats who are in pain and stressed as a result may however need more. If they are on anti-inflammatory medication make sure that they are taking this with food so as to avoid gastrointestinal side effects. You may have to consider smaller meals more often to compensate.

Here are the links to a few articles I have written in previous winters:

A solution to the smelly damp winter dog : click here 

I only want a bit off this time- a groomer’s winter lament: click here

And for all those groomers who find it hard to get up and think about dealing with water all day and are suffering aching backs, knees and shoulders from a lifetime of grooming!

It’s winter and I really have a problem getting out of bed: Click here

There is one good thought to hold onto and that is Winter will be shortly over and we will be back to the craziness of summer and all the winter clip offs of horribly matted dogs who went through winter.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    www.petcaremagician.com |  Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Promoting Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Australian Pet Professionals

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors. About Me 

Puppy Grooming tips guest article on about.com

I have had the pleasure of being invited to write and article for About.com Puppies site this week. The article is titled Puppy Grooming Tips -How to Prepare Puppies for Grooming and can be viewed here. It out lines a protocol that teaches pet owners the steps they can take to ensure they will have a puppy that will accept grooming techniques or handling at vet visits. This protocol is however also useful for all puppies, especially those living with children. Puppies and dogs do not always accept hugs from humans and this can be the reason why children and adults get bitten. If a puppy is trained using this protocol they can become accepting of the way humans approach them and need to hug and hold them.

My thanks to Amy Shojai who hosts the site for the opportunity and to Karen Deeds from Canine Direction for the inspiration for the article.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    www.petcaremagician.com |  Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Promoting Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Groomers who chose to use positive methods to groom dogs and cats

Australian Pet Professionals

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors. About Me 

Is force free grooming a reality?

I spend many hours on Facebook talking to force free (or positive reward) trainers from all over the world and there is an opinion that professional grooming is a very negative thing for dogs to experience. and that groomers cannot work force free.

I can understand this to a certain extent due to the fact that canine and feline behavior is fairly rare to see offered in grooming courses.  There is plenty about equipment, how to shampoo a dog, the correct way to scissor but not much, if any, about how to read the stress signals in a dog or cat. When I certified as a groomer many years ago I was taught nothing about canine behavior. Talking to groomers and we agree that is is very difficult to groom in a totally force free way. We don’t like using force but often we are faced with severely matted, aggressive and untrained dogs that we have to remove severely matted coat from.  When it comes to those groomers who do cats the situation is even worse, as there is not many courses on feline behavior out there in the world, let alone Australia and who trains a cat for handling let alone grooming.

Where does that leave groomers?

I am very pleased to tell you that in the world there are enlightened groomers who seek out this information on their own. They are committed to doing their job in as force free a manner as possible and are actively seeking out ways to improve their processes. Sadly there are many who are not willing to work in a force free manner and adopt the attitude that says
“I do what it takes to groom the animal” They are backed up by owners who often say exactly the same thing and what it takes may mean the groomer ends up being badly bitten and the dog traumatised.

I recently started a facebook group for groomers who want to expand out their knowledge and look at better ways to do what they are doing. It is a dynamic and exciting group containing many individuals from all over the world who are interested in examining their techniques and trying new things and already we have made some interesting changes to our way of working.

Is it possible to work force free as a groomer?

Yes and no is my answer to that. Yes if the client has presented with a dog that has been well handled and trained as a puppy to grooming techniques or is willing to put in the time and effort to do the training required in an older dog. No if it is the client who leaves their dog to get into a matted mess and then tells us to do “whatever it takes” and doesn’t care about how aggressive their dog becomes in the process.  Clearly I and most groomers who love to see more of the first and so much less of the latter. There are ways a groom can be conducted in a less forceful way but it takes willingness on the part of groomers and our clients to do that.

One can only wish and in the meantime keep educating  pet owners and groomers.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    www.petcaremagician.com |  Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Promoting Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Groomers who chose to use positive methods to groom dogs and cats

Australian Pet Professionals

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors. About Me 

Are our dogs affected by stress?

Christmas has just finished and for many people that is a very stressful time of year. We know how it feels to be stressed suffering with headaches, tiredness, sweaty palms, irritability but what is actually going on in the body biochemically when under stress? Is all stress bad? Crashing the car, losing a job, trashing the remote control (OK that is just the guys) are clearly incidences of bad stress, also called Distress.  Good stress or Eu-stress is getting married, having a fantastic holiday or even winning a million dollars. The chemical reactions occurring in the body during either are identical.  Dogs also experience stress any time they are threatened and the flight or fight response kicks in. That might be in a veterinary surgery, at the groomers or even at the dog park when a gang of not so nice dogs comes running. It might even be when the next door kid jumps all over the dog in a not so enjoyable hug.

Hans Selye (1907-1982) is generally considered one of the key investigators into the human stress response with his work on the General Adaption System (GAS). He observed that the body responds to any external biological source of stress with a predictable biological pattern that attempts to restore the body’s internal homeostasis. The initial hormonal reaction is the fight or flight stress response and it evolved to handle stress quickly. Cavemen needed to fight the scary monster or flee rapidly.

There are three stages in the GAS reaction:
1) ALARM STAGE –

Recognition of the danger and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) kicks into gear which then influences the nervous system and adrenal glands. Cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenalin are released to provide instant energy. This stage is subdivided into two phases:

  • Shock phase: in which a stressor effect occurs that resembles Addison’s disease. The body goes into a level of circulatory shock that results in changes including reductions in blood volume , sodium, osmolarity,  blood chlorine and blood sugar.
  • Antishock phase: The threat or stressor is identified and the body becomes alarmed. The sympathetic nervous system is activated and adrenaline is produced resulting in the fight-or-flight response with increases in muscular tonus, blood pressure and blood glucose.  Glucocorticoids such as the stress hormone cortisol are produced.

In less modern times this energy produced would be used in physical action by either fleeing or fighting. In the modern world the stress response has become mal-adaptive in that fleeing and fighting are frequently no longer appropriate responses in either dogs or humans. Or in the case of dogs they are prevented from fleeing due to being trapped on leads and behind fences or worse on prong or shock collars. Therefore this response becomes harmful to the body in the following ways:

  • The blood pressure surge due to adrenalin damages blood vessels of the heart and brain potentially leading to heart attack and stroke.
  • Damage to cells and muscle tissues due to cortisol release which has been implicated in cardiovascular conditions, stroke, gastric ulcers and high blood sugar levels.

2) RESISTANCE STAGE –

This stage occurs when the source of stress is possibly resolved due to the fight or flight response being enacted. Homeostasis begins restoring balance and a period of recovery for repair and renewal takes place. Stress hormone levels may return to normal but you may have reduced defenses and adaptive energy left. However if the stressful condition persists the body may adapt by continuing to resist the stressor and staying in a state of arousal. If this process repeats too often with little or no recovery then problems will occur as seen in the final stage.

3) EXHAUSTION STAGE –

If the stress continues for so long the body’s ability to resist is lost as the adaptation energy supply is depleted. Stress levels go up and stay up in what is commonly called overload, burnout, adrenal fatigue, mal-adaptation or dysfunction. I believe in dogs this is what happens when they shut down due to chronic stress such as that experienced when flooding occurs in what is commonly called freeze. The ability to react stops but hormones continue to circulate. This is the stage of the general adaption syndrome that is most hazardous to health. It looks like the fight is over physically but biochemically the body is stuck in a vicious feedback cycle.

Chronic stress can damage nerve cells in tissues and organs with the hippocampus section of the brain being most vulnerable   Thinking and memory are likely to become impaired, triggering anxiety and depression in dogs and humans. Adverse effects on the autonomic nervous system can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and other stress related illnesses.

Cortisol levels, with a primary function to redistribute energy (glucose) to regions of the body most needing it to flee or fight e.g. major muscles and the brain,  stay high. It also acts to suppress the body’s immune system. Hence organisms under chronic stress may succumb to immune complex diseases such as Addison’s and Cushing’s diseases both of which are on the rise in the dog population. The body becomes vulnerable to immune system attacks.

Signs of stress may be cognitive, emotional, physical, or behavioral  (Items in bold are of particular interest in dogs)

Cognitive symptoms

  • Memory problems 
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Pessimistic approach or thoughts
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying

 

Emotional symptoms

  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of l loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness

 

Physical symptoms

  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Indigestion
  • Low blood sugar
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds
  • Irregular periods.

 

Behavioural symptoms

  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping  too much or too little
  • Isolating oneself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing, self mutilation)

There is a clear link between levels of stress, especially chronic stress, and the production of disease. This list of effects reads like a who’s who of all the diseases that are on the rise not only in the canine population but also in humans. I am sure if we could get dogs to tell us how they are feeling we would also find many more of the symptoms of excessive stress also being present.

The conclusion to this long list of biochemical processes and diseases is what?

Understanding that EXCESSIVE levels of stress are bad for all animals (two and four legged) and that we need to reduce them wherever possible. Stress exists for a reason and all stress is not bad but chronic stress is and the more we force dogs to exist in our world by relying on stressful equipment such as electronic fences and collars and ensuring that dogs live in a way far removed from their natural way of life the more disease we will see in the canine population. The more humans place themselves in situations of excessive stress the sicker they will become. We also need to see research into the effects of chronic stress on dogs and the link in dogs between stress and disease.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    www.petcaremagician.com

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Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors.

More information

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serotonin

http://www.essenceofstressrelief.com/general-adaptation-syndrome.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Selye

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_adaptation_syndrome#General_adaptation_syndrome

http://www.mindalive.com/articleseven.htm

Counter-conditioning a dog to a crate

Recently I commented on the use of Flooding as a technique used by dog groomers. (Read article)  It is apparent from the uproar that the post caused on a closed Facebook groomers group that the post hit a few nerves and it is also apparent that some groomers do not understand what flooding looks like. We are used to seeing a certain television personality fighting with red zone aggressive dogs until they “submit”. Experienced trainers and behaviorists agree that this is not a suitable technique to use in dogs unless it is totally a last resort and conducted by trainers highly experienced in its use..

I have shot some video to show what minor flooding looks like in a day to day grooming situation.

Meet River my noise phobic non-crate trained 3 yr old Belgian Shepherd farm dog. River was taken into the grooming salon on this day and forcibly pushed into the crate, which is a not an uncommon practice in pet establishments.  This is a fairly common technique in grooming salons as many dogs fight when it comes to going into crates. Note not all salons use crates and of course mobile groomers rarely do. The video shows the result.

Watch video on Youtube here

Here is the observation of the stress signs seen in this dog.

Rapid respiration in the absence of heat, tongue widened, lip lick, blinking, unable to settle, turning around, ears back, tense, sniffing, ears flicking around, sniffing, ears further back, lip licking, starts to look for way out, more ears back and moving, pacing, whale eye, lip licking, yawing, more lip licking, sniffing, still heavily panting, scanning area.

Groomer walks out of sight: starts worried barking, now groomer is back in area he won’t respond to hand, whale eye, ears back, asking for reassurance, whining, looking around, agitated. After 30 mins finally lying down ears still back, still panting but less tightness at mouth corner, ears held with less tension but still not really settled.

Here is the same dog but this time desensitization (DS)  and counter conditioning (CC) are being used to set up a positive association with the crate. The door is kept open and the dog is free to go in and out as far as he feels comfortable. The pace at which he gets used to the crate is totally up to him. The dog will tell me when it is no longer fearful of the crate. In some dogs this can be minutes in others it may be a few short sessions.

Watch counter conditioning video on YouTube here.

Step 1: feeding at crate with open door. Dog won’t eat at first then eats from hand in vicinity of crate. Ears still back and somewhat unsettled, but ear posture further forward than in previous video, less panting.

Step 2: treats now put on floor near crate, dog scratches (stress) still unsettled, dog puts head in crate but refuses next time, won’t put more than head in crate, ears better. Body less tense, treats now into crate, dog allowed to go towards and away from create as often as he wants in his own time. Some stop to the panting from time to time. Food bowl put just inside crate and dog allowed to eat and leave.

Step 3: dog now enticed further into crate by treats and he goes right in and comes out no longer panting, ears forward engaged in game, does this a number of times. Groomer attempts to shut door slightly but makes a mistake and slams it – back track required as dog got frightened. Dog into and out of crate happily with door half shut. Dog happily eating and going in and out of crate with minimal stress. All food now coming in crate not from groomers hand. Speed he is being asked to go in and out increased. He starts to balk indicating he has taken enough for one session.

Further steps would be to increase the period of time the dog stayed in the crate and to gradually shut the door. At first the door would be shut only briefly and then immediately reopened working up to door being shut for longer and longer periods. This dog could initially only be left in the crate for short periods of time with a filled Kong to ensure it continues to have a positive association with the crate. This process could also be done at home by the dog’s owner.

A couple of days after this video was shot I came back to the salon after mobile grooming to find that River had actually gone into the crate to sleep while I was out. Clearly he now had a more positive association with it and no longer has to be physically forced into it. When the door is opened and I ask him to get in by a show of my hand he willingly walks in and lies down much more relaxed.

Here is the final video of River now happily walking and and out of the same crate without the use of treats.

I will continue to give him treats for a while yet however just to ensure that positive association remains as it is fragile in the early days with a dog that is in an alien environment such as the grooming salon is for a farm dog such as River.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au

Promoting Positive Reward Based Dog Training

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Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors.

Facebook saves Pets

I spend a lot of time on Facebook,  all of course in the name of research and education. A story  in The Standard Newspaper was posted in a link by a pet journalist that I follow. Read story here It was a report quoting the Lost Dogs Home in Victoria talking about lost dogs on New Years Eve. Nothing strange about this, all rescue services hate New Years Eve as many dogs get out and have to be housed temporarily. What caught my eye however was the following comment;

General Manager Sue Conroy said the North Melbourne Home had received just under 50 dogs since New Year’s Eve, with one dog arriving dead after being hit by a car. The Cranbourne Shelter had 36.

“It’s about a third of what we’d normally get by this time,” said Ms Conroy. “We are thrilled.

I commented on the status and was got a reply from Brian Pickering, from Boomerang ID -(pet ID tags that ensure no dog stays lost) who also confirmed that they had seen a significantly reduced number of calls this year as well.

Wow that is great I thought and then I started to think why would that be the case.

I work extensively with pet shops, groomers, trainers and boarding establishments and as part of this work I follow their business Facebook pages. I had noted without really thinking about it the number of pet care professionals who in the week leading up to New Years Eve had posted  great hints on how to keep a pet safe on New Years Eve. I skim read most of them as they did not contain any new information for me. But there were many of them, here in Australia and overseas. Then out comes the article and I think it is no surprise the Lost Dogs Home has reported fewer lost pets this year. Love or hate Facebook it is a valuable tool when it comes to keeping your clients and customers informed in a timely manner.

To all those pet care professionals using Facebook to educate and inform their clients and customers – Keep up the good work.

To those who aren’t ask me how I can help you get onto Facebook with minimal pain.

Meanwhile I have some status updates to check and make.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    www.petcaremagician.com

Promoting Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Like us on Facebook

Groomers who chose to use positive methods to groom dogs and cats

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors.

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