Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Adventures at Planet Dog!!

So my son and I had to go to the big city of Portland today on a couple errands. I realized part way there this could mean a stop at a favorite dog store, Planet Dog. I told my son "Hey I think I want to go to Planet Dog" and he looked at me like I had two heads. (I'm quite sure he was thinking Mom's finally lost it! She wants to travel to a PLANET full of dogs!) "It's a store and it's on the way." There is a store called Planet Dog??? Yup! And it is fabulous!

The first thing I have to do though is apologize to the clerk that waited on me. When asked what kinds of dogs I had I answered a pug and a long-coated akita. She made the remark about how they must be rare, my response was a lackadaisical "not really". When I left the store my son said "Mom, sometimes you should just play along". Um what? To some people long-coated akitas ARE rare. OK good point. I'm not sure if it was a knee jerk reaction to the word "rare", which unscrupulous breeders use to sell pups to those that don't know any better, or my dog store ADD cropping up.

You see this is what happens to me at the check out. The clerk says, Did you find everything ok today? Or whatever they are saying to me, trying to be NICE! and this is what is going on in my brain: "Did Do I really want to buy this or the other shirt? you Should I get that puzzle toy for Jenny? find I wonder if that comes in another color? every Dammit I think I missed that corner of the store! thing I could go back and get that other book... o I think I'm almost out of treats. k Naw I can get that at the Biscuit. today Crap I'm sure I'm forgetting something. ? Oh look at that cute dog in the bed!! Yeah that is about right. They keep talking and my brain keeps spinning. Can we say distracted?? It even happens in my local dog store if anything has been rearranged. I'm talking to Heidi and looking around and my brain gets vapor lock because Hey is that new?! It is ridiculous! But it is how I am wired. I have DSADD (Dog Store Attention Deficit Disorder!) So I apologize to that clerk and all the others I am sure I have acted like a total idiot to. It's not you, it's me. Please forgive those of us so inflicted with DSADD.

I originally wanted to check out the t-shirt with the above logo that I know they sell. (it is also on the bottom of their bag) They did have it in stock but it was $30. I am an admitted cheapskate. I have a hard time spending that much on a t-shirt. Of course now I will obsess about it and probably get it eventually because I love it but I have to think about it awhile first. Yeah I know it doesn't make sense. This is what I picked up instead.
Two t-shirts from the sale table (only $10 each!) and a book on allergies in dogs. Score!! It was a great side trip for sure.

And while I am showing off stuff I've scored here is my latest acquisition from T.J.Maxx. It is a new set of couch steps for Jenny. One of the errands we were doing was to pick out our 2 new leather couches and the ugly plastic set of steps wasn't going to cut it anymore. I nabbed this for only $15! I did add the no-slip grip tape to the top and some no slide on the bottom so it won't slip on the floor. Isn't it cute?

I'm very excited about the new couches. I am hoping this helps cut down on the dust mite dander since we will be getting rid of the two we have now. I'm sure they are dusty considering how old they are. (and both were used when we got them) It certainly can't make anything worse one would think. And now I have the new book so that should help in some way too. There must be a useable tidbit in there somewhere. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Do protein levels in dog food matter?

Like everything else in the dog behavior world the answer is, well that depends. I've been searching for a while for information regarding protein levels in dog food affecting behavior. I knew I had heard about a possible link to high protein causing or exacerbating problems like aggression and hyperactivity but I couldn't put my finger on where the info came from originally. (Though I am quite sure Dr. Dodman had spoken about the subject at the seminar I attended.) I did some internet searching here and there but nothing came back that answered my questions specifically. (Many veterinary sites are private which didn't help.)

Fast forward to a discussion with a dog food rep recently and I asked her if she had heard about the possible aggression link. She said she had some info she could send me. Well it arrived today so I am going to type out the part of the report that deals with the protein level question. This is the closest I have come to the information I was looking for. It is long because I am including the whole section because there is other info included that I found relevant to dog training as well. The references are listed in the article and included at the end of the article. I highlighted a couple tidbits I found interesting.

This is an excerpt from "Dietary effects on canine and feline behavior" by Katherine A. Houpt, VMD, PhD and Steven Zicker, DVM, PhD. (Taken from The Veterinary Clinics Small Animal Practice book 2003)

Effect on canine aggression:

An interesting effect of food on behavior is the motivation of dogs for different foods. A hierarchy can be constructed based on the frequency with which dogs display aggression over a particular food. Most dogs aggressively defend rawhides. Next in attraction is any human food, bones, and toys. A few dogs guard their ordinary ration of food, and fewer still protect their water dish. (Fig. 1) From the blog author: Figure 1 is a bar graph showing the percentage of dogs that guard, to the resources listed with the highest bar at Rawhide, table, bone, toy, biscuit, dog food, and water in descending order. Table equaled human food.

A standard instruction to owners of aggressive dogs is to obtain dominance over the dogs by eating before the dog is fed. Forcing the dog to wait to be fed results in more food begging and general unruliness at dinnertime. Furthermore, it seems highly unlikely that the dogs equate the people seated at the table eating salad with a fork and drinking wine from a glass with a pack of dogs vying for a bite from a carcass. In fact, Jagoe and Serpell [14] found that dogs that were fed after their owners were more likely to be aggressive to strangers.

There have been two studies directly testing the hypothesis that higher protein diets lead to aggression. The first compared scores for two types of aggression and hyperactivity. The types of aggression were territorial and dominance. Owners scored the dogs on a 10-point scale, where 0 was no aggression and 10 was uncontrollable aggression when strangers entered the house (territorial) or when the dog bit, lunged at, or chased family members, becoming worse with disciplined (dominance) in many circumstances.

The diets were 10%, 25%, and 32% protein, which corresponds to 2, 3, or 4 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, and were fed for 2 weeks. Fat was substituted for protein in the lower protein diets. There was no significant effect on dominance aggression and a trend toward decreased aggression when the dogs were fed the higher protein diet. Aggression toward strangers was significantly greater when the dogs were fed the higher protein diet. Within that group were dogs that were offensively aggressive and dogs that were defensively (or fearful) aggressive. The fearful dogs improved most when fed the lower protein diets. Control dogs were scored for the same behavior and showed no change in score with diet. [15]

(Sidebar by blog author: True dominance aggression tends to be directed towards the owners and NOT people outside of the home. This is one clue that helps us diagnose it as such. True dominance aggression is also the more rarely seen of all the types of canine aggression.)

In the second study, there were four diets, high (30%) and low (18%) protein with or without 1.45 g of tryptophan per kilogram of diet added to the basal diet of 0.15% tryptophan per kilogram. The significant effects were that dominant aggressive dogs fed high-protein diets without tryptophan were more aggressive than those fed the other three diets and that dogs fed the low-protein diet plus the tryptophan were less territorially aggressive. There were no dietary effects on fearfulness, hyperactivity, or excitability [16]. Diets formulated for dogs with renal disease and some commercial diets for normal dogs are lower in protein than the low-protein diets tested and may be more effective. On the basis of the Dodman et al [15] and DaNapoli et al [16] studies, lower (18%) protein diets should be recommended for aggressive dogs. This is in contrast to earlier suggestions that high-protein diets might improve behavior [17].

The reason why low-protein diets and tryptophan may reduce aggression is that tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin; it is converted by tryptophan hydroxylase to 5-hydroxytryptophan, which in turn, is converted to 5-hydroxytryptamine or serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being and satiety. Tryptophan is found in low concentration (<1%) in most protein sources. It must compete with other large neutral amino acids for a common blood-brain barrier transporter mechanism. Increasing dietary tryptophan increases brain serotonin. The lower the protein level the diet, the higher is the ratio of tryptophan to large neutral amino acids and tryptophan transport to the brain. Tryptophan has been shown to decrease aggression in chickens [18] and primates [19]. Care must be taken when adding amino acids to a diet however, because an imbalance in amino acids and consequent anorexia could result [20].

[14] Jagoe J, Serpell J. Owner characteristics and interactions and the prevalence of canine behavior problems. Appl Anim Behav Sci 1996; 47:31-42.
[15] Dodman NH, Reisner I, Shuster L, et al. Effect of dietary protein content on behavior in dogs. JAVMA 2000; 217:376-9
[16] DeNapoli JS, Dodman NH, Shuster L, et al. Effect of dietary protein content and tryptophan supplementation on dominance aggression, territorial aggression, and hyperactivity in dogs, JAVMA 2000; 217:504-508.
[17] Campbell WE, Behavior problems in dogs. Santa Barbara (CA): American Veterinary Publications; 1975
[18] Shea MM, Douglass LW, Mench JA. The interaction of dominance status and supplemental tryptophan on aggression in Gallus domesticus males, Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1991; 38:587-91
[19] Mehlman PT, Higley JD, Faucher I, et al. Low CSF 5-HIAA concentrations and severe aggression and impaired impulse control in nonhuman primates. Am J Psychiatry 1994; 151:1485-91
[20] Gietzen DW, Duke CM, Hammer VA. Amino acid imbalance, a nutritional model: serotonin & mediation of aversive responses. Physiol Behav 1991;49:981-5.

Now I know there is some discussion on the TYPE of protein being important. These tests were done with dogs using a kibble based diet. I know raw feeders do not typically find this a concern because of the difference in how the protein is digested and processed. If anyone has more recent studies to refer to I would love to hear about them.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, June 20, 2011

Walking the Dog

I have this bad (?) habit of checking out the pet section of any store I go in that might have one. You never know what you might find in them that you can't live without. Our local T.J.Maxx has been good for the occasional dog related treasure. Check out my latest score, a dog walkers belt:

I have been looking for an alternative to a purse or backpack for dog walking in warm weather and this seems to perfect. (Cold weather walking means a jacket and pockets to utilize.) It has a place for my wallet and keys, (and phone and camera) as well as a water bottle and poop bag dispenser. There is also a mesh pocket to carry a full poop bag if necessary. I am all about having my hands free for leash holding and training as needed. The white piping is reflective for walking at night. Because it is a belt all the way around I can clip my favorite bait bag to the front of it as well. (coincidentally also made by Olly Dog) This awesome find was only 12.99!! How cool is that? It do admit it makes me feel a bit like Batwoman at times. (Where's that pesky repelling hook?)

Wearing a belt isn't always the most flattering either but I'll take function over form any day. It's all about priorities.

Sunday was a beautiful day for a walk on our local boardwalk with Jenny. I've been toying with the idea of taking a beginners Agility Class with her. As I snapped this photo I noticed something that might hinder that plan.

Hmmm Not sure those front hocks are built for much jumping. Lord knows I don't need to be doing anything to create more vet bills for her. So that plan is now on hold. As least until I get some feedback on the subject. And yes I know her nails look long. I clip them about every 2 weeks yet haven't been able to get the quicks moved back. I'd love to hear reader tips on the subject of you have any.


So tell me, what is your favorite un-expected canine treasure find?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Weekend Pooch Parade Fun

I do not usually dress my dogs up, but sometimes you just go with it. There was a pooch parade hosted by my favorite local dog store the Loyal Biscuit for the start of the towns Solstice Celebration. The Loyal B also had some special guests come by and set up booths with free product to try in front of the store. Represented were Planet Dog, Smart Pup, TriPom Chews and Zelda's Biscuit Bakery. Their people were also the judges for the parade pooches. Catagories included biggest dog, smallest dog, most original costume, cutest dog, and such. The weather was sunny but cool enough that I decided to take both dogs. (The parade route is also amost completely shaded.) I dressed Jenny up as rapper diva "Miss J" who hits include "Scratch my butt it itches" and "Give me a treat you B****!" Jack went as her security. I was the paparazzi.

Here Jack was checking out McGruff the crime dogs credentials. (McGruff was very dog savey and did proper introductions with the dogs there. I dare say not many had seen the likes of him before!)
And this is Prudence as a hula girl. Complete with bikini top, grass skirt and lei. She won for best costume. Her second year in a row as winner for that catagory!

They did great with the crowds. I think I said "He's a longcoated akita" a bajillion times though. That and "He weighs 115lbs. He looks bigger cuz he's fluffy". Going out with Jack is like hanging out with a rock star. One girl even asked to have her photo taken with him! Luckily he loves the attention. I did put him in his gentle leader though because I always worry about what people will do in crowded situations. So many people think because he is cute they should get right in his face. This is rude behavior in dog language so I perfer to have control over his mouth in case anything happens to keep everyone safe. He's never been snarky about it in the past but why take any chances?

Jenny's top was made from a purse I got at TJMaxx. I'm not sure she was all that impressed with my mad skills. She also stole a TriPom chew from the lady's hand! as she was passing it to Jack. Thief!! Then she sat in front of the booth hoping to get more.

Jack won a gift bag for being the biggest dog. It contained lots of our favorite goodies. We were very excited! It was a great time and maybe we'll do it again next year. I think I already have a costume idea.

If you want to see more photos they are posted on my facebook page and the Loyal Biscuit facebook page as well under the Solstice Pooch Parade albums. (Photo credit for the photos with me included to Holly Sherburne. And of "Miss J's top" to Ashley Bickford.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Still fighting the fight

First a shout out to my reader who recognised me at PBMC earlier today. I'm sorry I didn't catch your name. It made me feel like a celebrity. Thanks for reading!
Sometimes living with dogs is very stressful. Especially if we are struggling to keep them healthy. Jenny is still having skin issues. I decided to try something different and go to a homeopathic veterinarian to see if that might work for us. I was concerned with the long term side effects of steroids and autoimmune suppressants. After 2 months of trying many different remedies we haven't found the magic yet. I decided to take a mental break and go back to some conventional methods for a spell. I had managed to keep trying because she wasn't uncomfortable. Lately that hasn't been the case however so I threw in the proverbial towel, at least for now. I still have great respect for homeopathic medicine and will pursue that as much as I can in conjunction with the conventional stuff. For instance I will be doing titers on Jenny from now on in lue of simply vaccinating her. Her system is clearly compromised so adding to that in any way is not going to help. This is how she looks today:

I'll spare you the close-ups of her skin, but you can get the idea. Red and inflamed and gooey in spots. So as well as taking her for an anti-inflammatory injection, I have decided to start her on a new diet. (yes again**) This time we will be trying the honest kitchen's Zeal. I am also going to add their supplement for healthy skin called Sparkle. (Thanks to Prudence for the tip on the skin supplement!) Our own local Loyal Biscuit Co. has some fabulous trial sizes for those who want to try THK but aren't sure their dog will eat it.

AND on the back of the box is a coupon if your dog likes it! I had to order a 4lb box so I picked up a couple of trial boxes so I can introduce it to Jenny slowly while we wait for the big box to arrive.

Here are a few tips I did find helpful to use on Jenny that are more natural than chemical filled shampoos. I found bathing her actually makes her worse most of the time.

One is the Aveeno oatmeal bath. I found this at Wal-Mart. You mix 2 tablespoons with 1 gallon of water and use it as a rinse. Do NOT rinse it off and towel dry. I used very cool water on Jenny. It will leave a residue but can be used twice daily and usually gives 12 to 24 hours of relief from itching. The only downside is you need to use it after mixing as it will NOT keep. I found the residue wasn't a problem on the furniture either. The other was using lavender oil. I found this in the health food section of my grocery store. Mix 4 drops of the lavender oil with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Rub on irritated skin to soothe it. I thought this would be messy but it absorbs into the skin very quickly. It also smells wonderful! I keep some mixed in a spray bottle for easy application. I also mixed some lavender oil with water in another spray bottle so I can "mist" an area that doesn't need a full rub. Hopefully someone else might find those tips as useful as I did. Lavender is also a natural healing agent and can help with cuts and burns.


And now for something completely different. Check out the double dewclaws on one of the prison pups. They look the same on both back feet.

If these were on the front feet I'd wonder if they had any puffin dog in them! I did learn that some livestock guarding breeds have these and it is part of their breed standard. Who knew?

**So it turns out that the company that did Jenny's food allergy testing has admitted that the food panel isn't all that accurate. They recommend doing food trials instead. They still offer the test however because some vets want to be able to offer that service to their clients. I cannot quite convey how incredibly pissed off that makes me. One because I wasted money on a test that isn't worth a damn and two because those results changed how I chose her food and wasted my friggin time!! So thanks Greer. You are a real peach of a company!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

My fluffy weekend

So this weekend I got to have this cutie to take care of. A 13 week old rough coat Chow Chow named Batu. He was here for some extra socialization and an evaluation. I know, I know, tough job right? Socialization for puppies is extremely important. I have written a past post on the topic here.
Here he is with his new friend Chuck from the Loyal Biscuit Co.

Here he is pestering Jack to play.
And this is his new buddy Levi from the K-9 Corrections program.

Then he met my sisters bulldogs G.G. and Minos.

That was just a sampling of our busy weekend. He met at least 13 other dogs and countless people on our outings. We were both exhausted by the end of it.

What they say is true; a tired puppy is a good puppy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Can you see it now?

Jack got a new collar today. Whadda ya think?

Yeah my husband thinks I am touched to buy him a fancy collar since it isn't exactly easy to see. But hey, he deserves new bling now and then to. Even if we can't see much of it. Here it is:

I got it at my favorite local pet boutique the Loyal Biscuit. It is the martingale "Punk Skulls" by Murphy & Gus. Slightly ironic given Jack's laid back nature. I just liked the "tattoo" look of the design.

I'm resisting going back for the matching leash. But at least that you would be able to see!

They are getting some new designs by another company I love in soon. I'm sure I'll be adding one (or two) of those to the collection as well. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A K-9 Corrections update

Both Brody and Rocko have gone on slumber party's to (hopefully) their new permanent homes. They were seen at the Humane Society's Grand Re-Opening event. Yay for them!! They weren't on the program as long as some of the others we have had. Brody wasn't the wild man he was described as and once we implemented the proper plan to address his submissive urination it went away. Rocko had no real issues aside from being a young terrier/pit mix. He was the first pit bull on the program and he definately won some people over to them being just another dog and were nothing to fear after all. Hopefully this trend continues. Here are our new additions to the program. Levi and Liam, two 10 week old pit/boxer mixes:

Liam is the brindle boy. Don't let those photos fool you, he's a handful! I also have 3 brand new handlers so this is going to be interesting. It also turns out that some of the other inmates try to play rougher with the pit mixes than they have with the other puppies. They think that is what you are supposed to do with them. This is making me wonder if some of the overstimulation we see in some of them (in big cities for instance) has been created. Why would people think that is appropriate simply because they are this breed? Food for thought. I might have to come up with rules for all the people at the facility when it comes to their interactions with them if the handlers can't nip it in the bud themselves. We'll see how it goes.

(Photo credit to Ashley Bickford)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meet Briggs ~ Looking for his place in the world.

Briggs is a 4 year old male french bulldog looking for a new home or a foster placement. He is described as very agile and a bit to big for his britches. Push overs need not apply! This good looking boy needs a home with someone who can set rules and stick to them. He has lived with another dog but may do best as an only pet UNLESS he is in a dog knowledgeable home. Any trainers out there looking for a project? He needs a foster home OR a permanent home in the right situation. He has been raised with teenagers but may not be trustworthy with young children. He does have a checkered past with one incident with a workman who came into the home. He needs a place where he will be trained using positive and NON-confrontational training methods, but will not be allowed to get away with being bossy. Remember, positive training does not equal permissive!!

If you are interested in this handsome boy please e-mail me directly at CanineHelp@aol.com or call me at 207-354-6488 for more information and I can put you in contact with his people. (I am easiest to reach in the evenings between 7 and 9pm.) He is currently located in Massachusetts. Please feel free to pass this info on. Thank you!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Front yard agility

OK so I admit I don't know that much about agility. I know what it is but have never pursued it aside from having a few obstacles to play with a little. I have practiced the jump with Jenny before because it is in the higher levels of Rally. I toy with the idea of taking a class with Jenny just for fun but that would require having enough free time. Since today was a beautiful sunny and cool day I got all the equipment out and set it up in a kind of mini course. (Alright I admit seeing a super awesome video of a pug at the world games sparked the urge.) The cones are for for heeling practice. I have a tunnel (a former barrel with the bottom cut off) and the blue thing in the background is usually a ladder footing obstacle. It occurred to me to try setting it on it's side and use it as a makeshift weave pole obstacle for Jenny. It works pretty well!

I use Missy's old ramp as a dog walk set up against the picnic table. On the other end is an upturned bucket with a rug as a step down. I need to paint it and add some more grip tape or sandy paint.
This is an upturned bin with some "no slip" cloth on it as a raised table. Clearly this will only work with a small dog.

Jack preferred to play with his toys than try any of the obstacles. I did get him to do the jump but only once. It just isn't his thing. (And we are fine with that.)

You can make up a course with things you have handy around the house and yard if you are motivated to try it. It doesn't have to look fancy. Just be sure anything your dog will get up on is sturdy for safety and keep the jumps low in the beginning of training. And if you don't have anything to jump, if they are willing, you can always use your other dog!

Happy Training!!

The harsh truth of the matter

I almost hate to post this on a beautiful Sunday morning. But there is never really a good time to expose truths such as these.

Today I share a post from a favorite blog of mine, Frogdog Blog. WARNING!!!! It has a very graphic and disturbing video with undercover footage from a puppymill. It is probably one of the worst I have ever seen. While no one wants to see this sort of thing I think it is important for us to watch. Why? because we HUMANS are allowing it to happen!! You will see in the news story how that is possible.

It is: Where does your puppy come from??

If your puppy came from a pet store it probably came from this type of breeder. No good breeder would EVER let their puppies be sold by a third party. EVER!!!! Nor does a reputable breeder hawk their puppies online with a "click to buy it now" option. EVER!!!! Now as a trainer it shouldn't matter where my clients get their dogs. If anything puppymill dogs come with a host of behavior problems that are a potential source of income to me. (and veterinarians as well) However as a human being who LOVES animals this disturbs me greatly. Can you imagine being one of those dogs and living that kind of life so a human can make money off selling your babies? It is clearly a living hell. And if you are not part of the solution by supporting reputable breeders, rescue groups or shelters then you are part of the problem. Period. Until we can break the supply and demand for puppies to be purchased like a product than this will keep happening. This woman is still in business remember. Personally I think being able to "order" a dog off the internet with a credit card is ridiculous. It is a living breathing being, not a pair of shoes.

And if that isn't enough info for you check out this blog post from Ruffly Speaking: How to kill a shelter dog.

I operate on the principle that when you know better you do better. So here is the information for someone to possibly learn the lesson. I don't think is is enough to be horrified by the photos and video of puppymills. I believe we need to spread the word every chance we get. No matter how that may cause people to feel. If you bought a puppy from a pet store or back yard breeder and didn't know better than you can claim ignorance. If you do it after learning about the existence of puppymills and bad breeders then shame on you. If we don't educate people on the issue of puppymills and internet puppy sellers then those uneducated people will still buy from them. I can't remember where I read it but someone mentioned maybe we need to give a stigma to buying from pet stores. If it becomes an unpopular choice would that help at all? I dunno but clearly something needs to be done if these kinds of kennels can still exist and stay in business. SOMEONE is buying these puppies after all. So who is it?