Not The Quick Fix You Thought!
"The end no longer justifies the means."
Shock collars are a popular and easy technique used by many dog trainers in the elimination of unwanted behavior. Trainers advertise that they can get immediate results and transfer this technique easily to the owner; justified by the commonly used phrase, “don’t worry it does not hurt”. What owner would not want a “quick fix” that “does not hurt”? That’s the goal right? To have the dog stop doing whatever the “bad” behavior is and fast! The problem is. . .
THE NEW NORMAL
Well, my heavens, who would have thought...
that our lives would have taken such a drastic turn in such a short period of time? Not only has the COVID-19 virus affected our entire country, with closed borders and communities, but the rest of the world is on lockdown as well. During the past few weeks in self-isolation, I have spent my time taking
Michael Shikashio's "Aggression in Dogs" Master Course. It was time
well spent and a perfect opportunity while hunkering down at home.
When and why human vs canine communication fails
Humans and dogs have been co-evolving for more
than 15,000 years. This coexistence has created
a relationship that enables non-verbal and verbal
communication to exist like in no other human/animal
relationship. Alerting your clients to the canine human
communication system and its inherent failures can help
alleviate potential problems.
Selecting and Developing the Emotionally Sound Puppy Crucial for its Sociability
As professionals, we have clients whose philosophies about
selecting the best puppy vary. For some, only rescues are
considered and, for others, only the purebred puppy will do.
Regardless of whether the puppy is brought home from the
local shelter or imported from Germany, they all have the same
Let’s start with the basics. Besides overall good health, nutrition,
and training, there is another equally important component:
emotional soundness. Without it, the dog will not develop into
its fullest potential and may even develop emotional issues. The
clinging wall flower may never develop into the social butterfly;
the adage, “you can’t turn an apple into an orange,” comes to
mind, and you can’t make them “want to want to.”
CANINE COGNITIVE DYSFUNCTION
Caring For Dogs With Advanced Dementia
Whether you work in a shelter, rescue organization or are a pet parent, it would not be uncommon at some point to have to care for a senior canine citizen. Although each dog is an individual, there are some patterns of symptoms and behaviors in the aging process that we should be aware.
Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans; it is a “progressive agerelated neurodegenerative condition that affects cognitive function.” The disease, both in dogs and in humans,
affects many parts of the way an individual thinks, remembers, and feels. It is marked by memory loss, a decreased ability to learn, problems regulating emotions and interacting socially, problems with sleeping and
waking, confusion and disorientation that can lead to wandering and circling, heightened anxiety, bladder and bowel control issues, and a decrease in overall activity levels.
Attachment Scales as a Tool
Attachment, bonding, empathy, and attitudes toward dog ownership can be measured and used as a practical tool in assessing the human-dog relationship. They can be used with other kinds of classification tools, for example, they can give a sense of which of the Humane Society of the United States’ Four Levels of dog ownership the family is within. They offer you, as a canine behavior consultant, the ability to aid your client, their family, fosters, or potential adopters in identifying existing problems and for predicting potential conflict. They also aid in assessing the dog’s quality of life, and in developing a protocol.
Caring for the Canine Senior Citizen
The formula for developing a care plan for human showing signs and symptoms of cognitive impairment or decline is similar to that of
a dog. The first rule is routine, routine, routine! It is best to create a daily routine for meals, dressing, naps, bedtime, visitors, or outings,
and prevent change as much as possible. If the routine must be varied, it is best to do so in early hours of the day before fatigue sets in
from the day’s activities. Any stressors such as rushing to complete a task, a change of environment, visitors that create anxiety (such
as small, active children), loud noises, and expressions of anger or frustration by the caregiver, can create challenging behaviors, also
called “catastrophic reactions.”
What is an Expert Witness?
According to Professor Killenbeck, the role of an expert witness in a trial is to “Assist the trier of fact (either the judge in a bench trial or a jury in a jury trial) in understanding one or more facts at issue in the case. An individual may be qualified as an expert based on his or her academic, scientific, or other specialized training, or on his or her extensive practical experience, in an area relevant to the factual issues in the case. Generally, you will be asked about the following items to establish your credentials as an expert witness: your academic training and licensure in animal behavior, your practical experience assessing and training animals, your membership in professional organizations relevant to animal behavior, whether you’ve published anything in print or online, and any honors or awards you’ve received in the field.”
Separation Anxiety vs. Isolation Distress
Coming in late one night after helping with an illness in the
family away from home, I was counting my blessings. A good
friend living close offered their guest bedroom and said they would
not be coming home until late. This was an ideal situation, as I
did not have the energy for a visit—I just wanted a hot shower,
jammies, and a glass of wine. Driving up, I saw her Toy Poodle
Princess looking out the window and I thought “how sweet,” being
too tired to notice that, perhaps, this was a red flag.
Proper Diagnosis, Correct Terminology Essential When Assessing Canine Mental Health Issues
The term “mental health” is appropriate, because we are discussing the dog’s emotional state. The same terms we use for humans to describe an emotion can also be used to describe the dogs. One reason is that we have no other language or term specific for the dog, e.g., fear, anxiety, or aggression. There are multiple terms that are universally understood whether describing an emotional state in a human or dog such as: depressed, afraid, nervous, or happy. These terms are similar in their definitions and descriptions and can be appropriately applied to for both species. Everyone can understand their meanings, be it with a human or a dog’s be-havior. The problem, of course, is that a human can “tell” us how they feel; a dog can only “show” us. As animal science professor, Temple Grandin teaches us, overt behavior is indicative of the internal state. We must learn to listen with our eyes.
How to Know if the Dog is Dangerous?
There is a large spectrum from owners when it comes to
declaring that they have an aggressive dog. For example, I had
one senior client who was afraid of her dog. He would sit and
bark at her. She thought he was being “aggressive” and his
future entailed re-homing at best, or, at worst, euthanasia. Upon
observation, all he was doing was “talking” to her — it was his
way of communicating. She lived a sedentary life and he was
bored mindless. Education and an activity plan would have
been an easy fix, but she was not motivated nor committed to
the dog and choose relinquishment.
Selecting & Developing the Best Show Dog Puppy
There are many requisites that go into making a successful "show dog". For the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel this means the constant tail wag, open smile, and happy expression; his heart is in it from the time he enters the ring until he happily exits -- he is enjoying the overall experience. There are some, of course, that are born a natural showman, and everyone knows it when they see the jaunty, look-at-me trot around the ring. It seems that the dog knows it too!
Being Accepted as an Expert
The first part of the process is being accepted as an expert witness. The
the judge must accept you are sufficiently qualified to give expert testimony. When your name is called, the bailiff will escort you into the courtroom where you will take the witness stand next to the judge's bench and be sworn in. The plaintiff and the defendant will be seated at separate tables in front of you with their respective attorneys. The attorney for your side will stand up and qualify you as an expert. They will question you about your education, training, certifications, and experience, and will then submit you as an expert. What is an expert witness? fact finder-usually