Jindo Info & Dog Tips :

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  • Poop #1

    What’s in the Poop? (Part I)
    The longer I’ve been a dog mom, the more attention I’ve learned to pay to poop. It started with Jasmine who had ongoing poop issues from the day she came to us. After years of being left in the dark, she was finally diagnosed with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). Every time her stool was normal, it made my day brighter.

    Why does it matter what poop looks like?

    Our guys get a bad poop every now and then. This is more of a reflection of what they got into than an actual health issue. If the abnormalities continue though, I look into figuring out what’s behind it. When the stools are consistently or chronically abnormal, you need to investigate.

    What I consider ideal poop could be best described as hand-rolled chocolate cookie dough—brown, well-shaped, firm but not hard, kind of segmented.

    (by Jana Rade)

    What’s in the consistency?

    To some degree, consistency can depend on the dog and their diet. However, stool shouldn’t be consistently too hard or too loose. Which brings me back to the cookie dough.

    Diarrhea is a more common problem than constipation for dogs. In fact, people often think that their dog is constipated when in fact they have diarrhea. Lots of straining with nothing coming out can be a sign of large bowel diarrhea as well as constipation. It is important not to try to treat constipation without having a solid confirmation (pun kind of intended).

    Constipation may simply be caused by insufficient fiber and water intake but can also have a more serious underlying cause.

    With Jasmine, I kept a detailed chart where I entered day-to-day information, including her stool quality and number of bowel movements. There are official fecal scoring charts out there, going into various amount of detail. For Jasmine, I was using 5 values with 5 being ideal and 1 being watery (Jasmine didn’t have problems with constipation). The most typical scoring system goes to 7 with 1 being constipated and 7 being watery. (I came up with my own scoring back then before I knew there were systems in place already)

    Nothing – it’s not good when a lot of straining and hunching doesn’t produce any poop at all. Your dog could be constipated or even blocked up. As mentioned above, though, severe diarrhea and colitis can cause similar symptoms. In either case, see a vet.

    Small, dry, hard pellets – yes, that’s constipation. A couple of times Cookie got hard stools from eating too many bones and not enough vegetables. I immediately corrected that and things went back to normal. Constipation can have serious causes and effects. If Cookie had hard poops for more than one or two bowel movements and it didn’t resolve with adjusting her food, I’d take her to the vet.

    Firm but not hard, dry logs that look segmented – that’s good poop in my books. With Jasmine, every time she had a poop like that, we celebrated.

    Moist and soggy but still formed – this kind of poop gets me in an alert mode. Something isn’t quite right. JD and Cookie get these every now and then with the next poop being normal again. Something didn’t sit right but all is now good. When Jasmine got these, it meant her IBD was starting to act up. If my dog had these type of stools consistently, I’d investigate.

    Pudding – poop that loses its form once it hits the ground; there is texture to it but it doesn’t hold shape. The gut isn’t happy. When it continues for more than one or two bowel movements, it’s time to do something. Could mean intestinal parasites, such as Giardia, intestinal infections (bacterial, viral or fungal), immune/inflammatory disorders, metabolic diseases (e.g., liver failure), heart disease, cancer, and more.

    Watery – the gut is really unhappy. When Jasmine got these, her gut was in trouble. Large volumes of watery diarrhea, with or without blood in it, can be an emergency particularly in smaller dogs and puppies.

    Stay tuned for other aspects of poop, such as color, coating, etc.


    Choosing a dog that is right for you

    Choosing A Dog That Is Right For You

    Choosing a dog that’s compatible with you and your family is an extremely important step towards becoming a responsible and happy dog owner.

    To choose the dog that is right for you, it’s essential to find the information necessary to help you make a knowledgeable decision, evaluating your family, lifestyle, plans for the future, living space, financial situation and yourself. Always keeping everyone’s best interests in mind, including the dogs’.

    Becoming a dog owner is a decision that needs to be planned carefully, although choosing a dog is an important part of this journey, you must cautiously determine first, if you and your family are ready to bring a dog into your home and handle the added work and responsibilities necessary to provide your dog with a quality life.

    Once you have decided if owning a dog is the right thing to do, it’s time to move along and get into choosing a dog; and also think about where is best to get your new dog from and plan how are you going to start this relationship the right way.

    The Importance Of Making The Right Choices

    Most dog owners start their journey in dog ownership with plenty of good intentions and their heart overflowed with love, however overflowing shelters all over the world show that good intentions and a big heart are not the only qualities a responsible dog owner should have.

    One of the most frequent reasons why dogs are surrendered to shelters are that their owners got them without knowing about the responsibilities involved in owning a dog and without thinking of the consequences their choices could have, specially for the dog, considering that only about half of the dogs that are surrendered to shelters are adopted, all the rest are killed within a few days.

    The best way to avoid finding yourself in that situation is to inform yourself before owning or choosing a dog, considering all the aspects involved in choosing a dog that is compatible with your family, lifestyle, energy level, financial situation and future plans.

    Now it’s your chance to make it right and create a great life experience for yourself, your family and your new dog.

    Start by choosing a dog that fits in your lives.

    Please continue reading and find all the information necessary to help you evaluate all the aspects that play a part in the process of choosing a dog and planning for a successful dog ownership experience.

    STEP 1 – Let’s Make Sure This Is A Good Idea…

    Before choosing a dog it’s important that you determine if bringing a dog into your home is a responsible decision. Don’t forget that as a dog owner you are responsible for caring and providing a quality life for your dog.
    To find out about the benefits, commitment and responsibilities of owning a dog. Visit our Owning A Dog page.

    But don’t stop there…. There are many aspect of your life that must be considered and evaluated to help you determine your potential to become a good dog owner.

    * Is Your Family Ready To Have A Dog?

    Bringing a dog into your home is a decision that needs to be discussed with everyone in your home, whether it’s your spouse, kids or roommates.

    Talk about the idea of having a dog, the benefits, commitment and responsibilities involved in owning a dog.

    Evaluate their opinions, to get a better idea of their understanding regarding the responsibility and commitment; and how eager they are to get involved in the dog’s life and care duties.

    Watch for fearful reactions, jealousy, nervousness or if someone is against the idea of having a dog, issues like that must be corrected before you bring a dog home, to prevent behavioral problem between the dog and that person.

    If you already own a dog(s), we suggest that you correct any behavior problems before you get another dog to prevent behavioral problems between the dogs.

    Remember, it’s important to take everyone’s opinion into consideration, but ultimately you must be the one to decide if bringing a dog into your home is a responsible decision.

    * Does A Dog Fit Into Your Long-Term Plans?

    Take time to look into the future and evaluate if you are going to be able to fit your new family member into your plans and how changes will affect you capability to live up to your commitment, considering that a dog lives approximately 10 to 15 years.

    Estimate how owning a dog is going to interfere in your plans for the future and how willing you are to modify your plans to accommodate your dog into them, think about changes like moving, having babies, changing jobs, traveling and others…

    Timing is key for success, if you consider that maybe getting a dog right now is not a responsible decision, is always best to wait until the conditions are more favorable.

    * Can You Take On The Financial Responsibility?

    You must determine if you can afford the cost of basic dog care, which includes food, veterinary care, obedience and behavior training, shelter, safety and grooming.

    The best way to make owning a dog more affordable, is choosing a dog that’s right for your budget and utilize the low cost resources available in your area.

    Here are a few tips for choosing a dog that is budget friendly:

    – Choose a dog from a shelter, their rates are considerably lower than a rescue organization or a breeder, and their dogs are just as good.

    – Choose a dog with a mellow temperament, to save on extensive obedience and behavioral training.

    – Choose a medium or small dog to save on shelter and safety.

    – Choose a shorthaired dog to save on grooming.

    – Choose a small dog to save on dog food.

    – Choose the low cost veterinary care services provided by your local humane society or animal shelter. Services often include low cost vaccination, spay and neuter clinics, affordable veterinary care, financial help and more…

    Please visit our resources page to find a list of reputable Humane Organizations.

    * Do You Have The Time To Care For A Dog?

    It is essential that you evaluate your time availability to take proper care of your dog, most of us have busy lives already and adding a new member to your family can become overwhelming if you are not prepared.

    You must know if you will have the time and energy necessary to fulfill your dog needs for daily exercise, obedience training, socialization, potty breaks, playtime, and others; specially at the beginning where training and bonding require that you dedicate even more time, to prevent the development of behavioral problems.

    * Is Your Living Space Adequate For A Dog?

    It doesn’t matter how big or small your home is, if you get the appropriate dog for your space and provide plenty of physical activity a dog can adapt to any environment.

    However, there are some indispensable safety requirements:

    – If your dog is going to stay in the yard, it needs to be appropriately fenced to effectively keep your dog from escaping and also keep unwanted visitors out, like stray dogs or someone trying to steal your dog.

    – Your home and your yard should be free of materials that could hurt your dog, like chemicals, toxic plants, exposed nails, unprotected balconies and others…

    – Your home or yard must provide sufficient shelter from the weather, whether hot or cold, extreme temperatures can kill a dog quickly.

    * Get A Free Trial… Consider Fostering A Dog

    Homeless dogs in rescue organizations and dog shelters need foster homes until they get adopted to a permanent home. Fostering a dog is a great way to experience how it would be to own a dog.

    If you decide that owning a dog is not for you, you can return the dog to the rescue organization it belongs to, or if you like the experience, perhaps you could even adopt your foster.

    STEP 2 – Choosing A Dog

    Now that you know about the facts involved in owning a dog and evaluated your real potential to become a responsible dog owner, It’s time to learn about the facts involved in choosing a dog that’s suitable for you, your family and lifestyle.

    * Choosing A Dog Breed

    When choosing a dog breed, consider size, energy level, temperament and what purpose the breed was created for.

    Dog breeds where created by humans to create dogs that excelled at a specific purpose, whether it’s work, sports or companionship, find out what breed or breed mix would be more compatible with you, your family and your lifestyle.

    If you have kids, choosing a dog breed or breed mix that is good with kids is important, but don’t forget to match their temperaments and energy levels no matter what breed you choose.

    Choosing a dog based on its looks could be a big mistake, please do some research and make a responsible decision.

    * Choosing A Dog With The Right Temperament

    Your goal is choosing a dog with a balanced behavior. Curious, respectful and calm.

    Evaluate your own temperament; are you excitable, mellow, soft, calm, strong, confident or vigorous?. Then look for a dog that’s compatible with it, ideally a dog with a similar or mellower temperament than yours.

    Dogs that show signs of fear, insecurity, hyperactivity or over-excitement are cases that need more attention and training to become balanced.

    If you become interested in choosing a dog that is fearful, insecure, hyperactive, overexcited, dominant or even aggressive, you can always consider the possibility of committing to help the dog overcome his issues.

    – Should you consider choosing a dog with behavioral problems?

    There are so many troubled dogs in need of a home with an experienced leader that can help them overcome their issues.

    However, you should only do it if you are an experienced dog owner, have a good understanding of dog behavior and training techniques; and can provide the leadership needed to help a dog with behavioral problems overcome his issues.

    Choosing a dog with behavioral issues is a choice that requires a higher level of commitment and work, but ultimately, helping a troubled dog find balance and happiness is an extremely rewarding experience.

    Just make sure you are choosing a dog with an issue you can handle, if you don’t know how to properly correct the problem you could make it worse and instead of helping, you will be preventing the dog from having a real chance to have a better life.

    * Choosing A Dog With The Right Energy Level

    You must choose a dog that can be easily included in your daily routine, share your favorite activities and play an active role in your life.

    Think about choosing a dog for a purpose, whether it is a jogging partner, a companion for walks, a playmate for the kids, a companion for a senior, someone to relax with, an adventure partner or others; and choose a dog with the right energy to serve its purpose.

    The more activities you can share with your dog the more balanced your dog will be.

    As a general rule it’s recommended that you choose a dog with a little lower energy level than yours.

    Dog breed descriptions can give you a good idea of breeds typical energy levels and what kind of activities the dogs excel at, but to find a good energy match, you must also consider the dog’s age, since usually young dogs have way more energy than senior dogs; and when it comes to temperament, dominant dogs have more energy and strength than submissive dogs.

    * Puppy, Adult Or Senior?

    Here are few facts to consider about a dog’s age:

    Puppies are the cutest things in the world, but on the other hand, they need lots of attention, obedience training, housetraining and socialization; in addition to that, they have lots of energy and if not exercised properly they can become destructive or develop behavioral problems.

    Adult dogs are easier dogs, since they have already calm down and learned how to properly behave around people and dogs, most adult dogs are housetrained and against popular believe, training an adult dog is not difficult.

    Adult dogs are recommended for families with kids because are more calm and even tempered.

    Senior dogs are perfect companions for calm people or seniors; they need a calm environment and enjoy low intensity exercise. Adopting senior dogs is a great chance to provide comfort and happiness to a dog in his final years. However, you must consider that senior dogs are at higher risk of developing health problems.

    * Choosing A Dog That Is Compatible With Your Other Dogs Or Pets

    If you already own a dog, you must consider your dog’s temperament and find a dog with an equal or lower energy level, ideally a dog in the same life stage and similar age.

    * Choosing A Dog You Can Handle

    Powerful and big dogs are not recommended for inexperienced owners, they require owners that can offer strong leadership, good understanding of dog behavior, obedience training skills; which is crucial to prevent the development of behavioral problems.

    You should also make sure you are physically strong and fit to handle a big and heavy dog; and provide the physical activity they usually need.

    If you choose a puppy don’t forget to consider how big it will be when fully grown.

    STEP 3 – Where To Get Your Dog?

    Once you have come up with a good idea of how your ideal dog should be, it’s time to determine where to get this dog from and why some places are better than orders.

    * Your Local Dog Shelter

    Choosing a dog from a dog shelter is a great option; in a shelter you can find a huge variety of great dogs, including pure breed dogs. Dogs from shelters are temperament tested, vaccinatinated, dewormed, spayed or neutered and their adoption fee is very reasonable.

    And best of all… you would be saving two lives, the life of the dog you are taking home and the life of the dog that takes his place.

    However, when choosing a dog in a shelter it’s important that you don’t become overwhelmed by the harsh conditions; stay focused on choosing a dog that matches your criteria, and don’t let sadness or pity influence your decision. Remember that if you want to save a life and give a dog a great living you must choose one that is appropriate, that will be the dog you can really help.

    * Dog Rescue Organizations

    These organizations are also a great option, you can find great dogs for adoption there too and if you are looking for a specific breed there are pure breed rescues for almost all breeds with plenty of dogs waiting to find a forever home.

    A well thought out dog rescue will require at least an adoption application, an interview and a home check visit, plus a contract with a variety of conditions, but you must keep in mind that they do this because it’s needed to ensure their dogs go to good homes.

    A reputable dog rescue will also vaccinate, spay or neuter, microchip and temperament test all their dogs.

    To find a respectable dog rescue organization you can search online at petfinder.com, pets911.com or your local humane society.

    * Dog Breeders

    Dog breeders are the way to go if you are looking for a pure breed puppy, these puppies are bred for good temperament and other traits depending of the breed.

    Find a local dog breeder so you can go visit their facility and meet the puppy’s parents, while there you must pay attention to the dogs living conditions, their temperament and health.

    A reliable dog breeder is a licensed breeder; which tells you that they take their business seriously enough to be licensed and operate in compliance with their local animal welfare laws.

    * Where NOT To Get Your Dog?

    Pet Stores and Online Sales are not good places to find healthy dogs.

    A respectable and responsible dog rescue organization or dog breeder would never sell their dogs in a pet store, ALL dogs sold at pet stores come from puppy mills or negligent breeders.

    Puppy Mills and backyard breeders are inhumane breeders that use cruel breeding techniques, no veterinary care for the puppies or their mothers, no positive human interaction and keep their dogs in the most horrible and unsanitary conditions a dog could live in.

    Puppy mill dogs usually have health problems and malformations due to inbreeding, unsanitary conditions and cramped wire cages; in addition they have behavioral problems due to cruel treatment and lack of socialization.

    That is why we ask you to please stay away from pet stores and Internet dog sales, as those are the outlets these cruel and ruthless breeders use to sell their dogs.

    The best way you can help end this sickening business and end the suffering of those dogs is to never support their business by buying dogs at pet stores, the Internet or allowing yourself to be scammed.

    You must be on the lookout, because they will pose as rescue organizations, reputable breeders, or loving dog owner that had an “accidental” litter or “found” a litter of puppies, making you believe that you are rescuing a homeless puppy.

    How Can You Tell?

    A trustworthy dog breeder or rescue organization will…

    – Provide a complete and informational service.

    – Have many questions and requirements for you, to make sure they are giving their dog to responsible and knowledgeable owners, they never let their dogs go to any home too easily.

    – Answers all your questions.

    – Give you an opportunity to see their facility to see if all of their dogs are healthy, well cared for and have good temperaments.

    – Have good references.

    In conclusion… If they only ask you for money, they are likely to be puppy mills or backyard breeders posing as dog rescue organizations or responsible dog breeders to sale their dogs.

    STEP 4 – Dog Searching Day

    Before you move forward and actually bring a dog home, there is something you must know…
    Owning a Good Dog is not a matter of luck. It’s crucial that you commit to ensure your dog is healthy, friendly, well behaved and happy.

    You must pledge to do whatever it takes to make sure your dog lives a quality life and never give up on him as challenges come along. Dogs are not disposable.

    When you bring a dog into your home, your dog’s life is in your hands and you become responsible for his well being, physically and mentally; and also for the safety of everyone around him.

    Now ask yourself… Are you ready to take on this commitment?

    Well… Let’s Find Your Dog!!
    Based on your previous research, by now you should have a very good idea of what you are looking for in a dog and where to get it.

    But that’s not all you need to know…Now that you are ready to go out there searching for your dream dog, there are some important aspects you must consider to efficiently be able to recognize the behaviors that fit your criteria and spot the dog that’s right for you.

    In this step you must be very careful and strong, all your research can go out the window if you let your emotions take over. It’s important that you remain focused and don’t get distracted by other cute or needy dogs you might see, just keep in mind the importance of choosing the right dog and the consequences of making a bad decision.

    Your goal is to choose a dog with a balanced behavior; Calm, respectful and curious. It’s not about choosing the cutest dog.

    Remember… Dogs that show fear, insecurity, hyperactivity or overexcitement are best for experienced owners that know how to correct those issues and prevent them from escalating into problems like aggression.

    * Meeting And Evaluating Your Candidates

    Whether you are choosing a dog from a shelter or choosing a puppy from a litter, you should follow the same guidelines.

    You must introduce yourself to the dogs in a way that they can understand as trustworthy and respectful. Only that way dogs feel comfortable enough to show you their true colors.

    The best way to accomplish that is to stand still and relax, before you have any kind of interaction with the dog, including eye contact. Just allow the dog to sniff you, after the dog is done you can touch or talk to the dog, making an effort not to share too much excitement or love, Just stay calm and allow the dog to be around you. If your kids are present, instruct them to do the same.

    If the dogs are in kennels, avoid any interaction with the dogs until they can be taken out.

    First, narrow down those dogs that you consider as good candidates according to your criteria. Start by looking for the right size, and other physical requirements you might have.

    Once you get a chance to meet those good candidates outside a kennel you can start focusing on behavior, since true dog behavior only shows out of the kennel.

    You must remain focused on your goal. So once the introductions are done, it’s time to look for the clues that will tell you about the dog’s temperament and energy level.

    You should be able to identify these 3 most typical dog behavior types

    * The “Pick Me!!” Dog

    This is the dog that seems to be begging you to take him home, pushing everyone out of the way and jumping on you like you where made for each other, full of energy and extremely happy to see you.

    Should you choose this dog?

    I would recommend you to skip on that dog if you are NOT an experienced owner with lots of energy to burn and a strong personality.

    Here is why…

    – Begging, pushing and jumping on people or other dogs are clues of disrespect and dominant behavior. Therefore you must know how to control those behaviors before they become a bigger problem, generally aggression. A dominant dog needs an owner with a strong personality and good leadership skills.

    – Hyper and overexcited behaviors are clues of high levels of energy, which require lots of physical exercise and training to keep your dog under control.

    – Please don’t misinterpret the dog’s behavior, the dog is not begging you to take him home, he is just claiming you. See it as a red flag!

    * The “Cool” Dog

    This dog will come around you, sniff you and show just the right amount of happiness and excitement. This kind of dog is easier to deal with, playful and respectful, not pushy or overwhelming. This dog has a relaxed body language, like everything is just fine.

    Should you choose this dog?

    Yes, this is The Dog You Want To Pick, especially if you are an inexperienced owner.

    Here is why…

    – Dogs that show this kind of behavior tend to be even-tempered, respectful, submissive and easier to handle and train.

    – But don’t get it wrong, any “cool” dog can become “not cool” if you don’t provide the leadership and exercise the dog needs to stay balanced.

    * The “Shy” Dog

    This is the dog that shows no interest on coming close to you, even if you call him or try to approach him. His body language is tense with low ears, low tail or tail between the legs.

    Should you choose this dog?

    This is another case that needs a more experienced owner, one that knows how to properly deal with issues like insecurity and fear. In this case love and comfort are not the solution.

    Here is why…

    – That lack of curiosity is a sign of insecurity or fear, which are behaviors that need to be corrected immediately and properly, since they can easily turn into aggression or other behavioral problems.

    – If you feel compelled to adopt dog with issues like these it’s essential that you get professional advice immediately to help your dog overcome his problems; remember love and comfort are not the way to help dogs conquer their fears.

    A Few More Tips:

    – Take the dog for a short walk if possible; evaluate his energy level and how comfortable it makes you feel. If a dog feels like too much to handle, it probably is.

    Pay attention of how the dog reacts to the outside world, cars, people, and other dogs. Avoid choosing a dog that shows signs of fear or aggression like barking or growling, unless you are skilled and committed enough to work on correcting those behaviors.

    – If you are adopting a dog from a dog shelter or dog rescue, find out as much as possible about the dogs behavior, why and how the dog became homeless and also about health issues the dog might have.

    – If you already have a dog at home, bring him or her to meet the candidates before making a decision. Remember, the dogs should have similar energy levels and get along well, with no displays of dominance or disrespect.

    When it comes to choosing a dog that is right for your other dog(s), you should choose a dog that can mingle with your dog in a calm, respectful, submissive and playful manner.

    – The day you go out to get your new dog, making a good choice is essential; but that’s easier said than done, there is a lot to consider and evaluate. If you are not confident about your skills to efficiently evaluate a dog’s temperament and energy levels it’s always a smart decision to ask for professional advice. Hire someone to go with you and guide you through the process of choosing a dog that is right for you.

    – If you don’t find a dog that feels right in your first outing, come back some other day or go look somewhere else, but don’t rush into decisions, wait until you find the right one.

    Now you have chosen your dog…

    Now is your change to start living up to your commitment, but don’t panic, if you did a good job choosing a dog, you are in for a real treat… Owning a dog that’s perfect for you.

    If you start building a relationship based on trust, respect and love with your new dog from your first day together, your dog will reward you beyond your expectations.


    Canine body language

    (From Victoria Stilwell “Positively”)

    Because dogs don’t speak our language, the only way to truly comprehend and communicate with them is for us to understand and appreciate what they are telling us through their body and vocal language. Often, gestures or actions that we assume mean one thing are actually the dog telling us the exact opposite, and determining what that wagging tail or exposed tummy really means can sometimes be the difference between a belly rub and a bite.
    Dogs communicate using a complex language of body signals that reflect what they are thinking and feeling. They use these signals consciously and unconsciously to communicate intent and ensure their personal safety by affecting behavior in others.

    Appeasement & Displacement
    A dog might try to appease another by actively seeking attention via one or more of the following behaviors:

    muzzle and/or ear licking
    jumping up
    lowering and curving the body
    clacking or exposing the teeth “(“smiling”)
    lip licking
    lowering the head and ears
    play bowing

    Although much appeasement consists of this active body language, passive submission such as cowering and body freezing seems to be done in response to escalating fear in the presence of a perceived threat. A socially experienced dog receiving these signals will tolerate this language of appeasement and reciprocate with appropriate signals; other less experienced dogs might take advantage of this deference and attempt to control or aggress.
    In addition to appeasement, dogs also commonly use displacement signals to avoid confrontation. These body signals are used to provide a distraction – a way of covering up what the dog is actually feeling. Yawning, sniffing, scratching, sneezing, and licking are all active behaviors that keep the dog calm and provide a distraction to refocus the attention of others away from him.

    Common Body Language
    Any signal that is demonstrated by a particular part of the dog’s body must always be read in the context of whatever other body or vocal language the dog is communicating. Similar signals have different meanings in different situations, so the position of the body and other vocal signals will help you understand a dog’s intent and emotional state.

    Stress/Discomfort/Nervousness Language
    When dogs are stressed and nervous they exhibit many different kinds of behavior that either help relieve the stress they are feeling or appease a perceived threat. While dogs like humans, yawn when they are tired, they are also much more likely to yawn when they are nervous. Lip licking does not always mean a dog is hungry or has just eaten either, but is a very clear stress signal that is performed when a dog is nervous or experiencing fear.

    Yawning can be a sign that a dog is tired, but it also signals stress
    Lip licking or tongue flicking. Dogs lick their lips when nervous
    Brief body freezing – the dog is still for a few seconds before reacting
    Body freezing – the dog freezes until the threat goes away or he decides to use fight or flight
    ‘Whale Eye’ – the dog turns his head away but keeps looking at the perceived threat, showing the whites of his eyes
    Head turn – the dog will turn his head away from a fear source as a gesture of appeasement
    Furrowed brow, curved eyebrows – caused by facial tension
    Tense jaw – the mouth is closed, and the dog is preparing for action
    Hugging – a dog will gain comfort by holding onto his owner
    Low tail carriage – indicates discomfort and uncertainty
    Curved tongue – the tongue is curved at the edges from tension
    Raspy, dry-sounding panting – nervousness reduces saliva production
    Twitching whiskers – caused by facial tension
    Shaking – caused by adrenaline release
    Drooling – stress can also cause excessive salivation
    Lack of focus – an anxious dog finds learning difficult
    Sweaty paws – dogs sweat through their foot pads
    Piloerection – the hair on a dog’s neck and spine stands on end (like human goose bumps), making the dog appear bigger while releasing odor from the glands contained in the dog’s hair follicles

    Appeasement/Deference Language
    Deference language is designed to appease a perceived threat, avoid injury and is crucial for survival. If the dog engages in non-threatening behavior this helps deescalate the negative intentions of another animal or human. Most appeasement behavior is extremely submissive with the dog lowering the body, making it appear smaller and less threatening. Socially appropriate dogs will respond positively to this deference while others often take advantage of what they perceive as weakness.

    Head bobbing or lowering
    Head turning
    Averting eyes
    Lip licking
    Low tail carriage
    Tail tucked between the legs
    Curved and lowered body
    Stomach flip – the dog flips over quickly, exposing his stomach; he is not asking for a belly rub, but signaling that he is withdrawing from interaction
    Curious/Anticipatory Language
    Dogs are naturally curious animals and the more confident they are, the more they can deal with novelty and change. All dogs will size up any situation to ensure safety using the following language:
    Head cocked to one side or the other
    Front paw lifted – anticipating what will happen and what the dog should do next
    Mouth closed – sizing up the situation in preparation for action

    Displacement Language
    Displacement language helps the dog to self-calm and refocus attention away from them and onto something else. If a perceived or actual threat approaches and the dog is nervous or uncomfortable she will often indulge in behaviors that take the threat’s focus away from what could be a negative intention. The threat’s attention is diverted onto the behavior the dog is doing, like sniffing the ground or scratching and not actually the dog herself. These behaviors are often performed when the dog needs an outlet for their pent up energy or frustration, but can become compulsive if the outlets are not given. Displacement behaviors can result in compulsive behaviors including excessive spinning or licking.

    Nose licking
    Chattering teeth
    Shake off – dog will release stress and tension by shaking their bodies as if trying to get water off their backs.

    Defensive and Offensive Language
    When a dog has to defend herself from an actual or perceived threat she will demonstrate defensive or offensive language in order to keep herself safe. This language manifests itself in behaviors that encourage a threat to keep their distance. If the threat does not back away and the dog has nowhere to go, defensive behavior will turn offensive and the dog will bite. These behaviors are usually easy to recognize and understand.

    Body leaning forward
    Tense mouth
    Lips pushed forward and vibrating as the dog growls
    Air snapping – the dog snaps in the air to warn something to back away
    Snapping with skin contact – also a warning to back away
    Fast nip – an immediate bite and release with bruising or slight wound, telling a threat to back off
    Deeper bite – a dog that bites with more intensity is intending to harm
    Bite and hold – intent to harm
    Bite, hold, and shake – intent to harm and potentially to kill. Some dogs will bite, hold, shake, and disembowel stuffed toys, simulating the killing of prey; while this is prevalent among dogs with high prey drive, even dogs with low drive can indulge in behavior of this type. If your dog likes to disembowel stuffed toys, this doesn’t mean he wants to do the same with people or other animals. Sadie loves to disembowel toys, but she is incredibly gentle with people, especially children.
    Wagging tail – again, a wagging tail does not always mean a happy dog
    Hard, staring eyes

    Relaxed Language
    There is nothing better than being with a happy dog. The body is fluid and relaxed, the mouth is slightly open with tongue hanging to the side and all the signals a dog gives off communicate joy, confidence and a desire to invite play and attention.

    Mouth slightly open, tongue relaxed and lolling to one side.
    Small body freezes during play.
    Play bow – this signal invites play and tells others that whatever action comes next is still just play.
    Turning over, inviting belly rub – showing trust and enjoying social contact.
    Relaxed facial expression.
    Squinty or blinking eyes.
    Tail wagging fast, either side to side or in a round motion like a helicopter.
    Wiggling backside.

    What does a wagging tail mean?
    Tail wagging is a frequently misinterpreted signal. Most people believe that a wagging tail only means a dog is happy, which of course is often true, but some dogs also wag their tails when aroused, overstimulated and frustrated. You can usually tell the difference by looking at what the rest of the body is doing:

    A confident or aroused dog will hold his tail in the air, allowing scent from the anal glands to circulate more freely and advertise his presence.
    A dog that is wagging his tail but barking with a defensive body posture, tense face, and hard staring eyes is overly aroused and frustrated, which means that he should not be approached.
    A tail that is held low or between the legs signals a lack of confidence, nervousness, or fear
    A tail that is held high but wagged more slowly means that the dog is assessing a situation.
    A tail that is extended and curved means that the dog is tense and ready to take offensive or defensive action.
    A tail that wags around and around like a helicopter and is accompanied by relaxed fluid body movement and a wiggling bottom signals friendliness and a willingness to engage.
    Research has shown that when a dog sees someone they like, his tail wags more to the right. When he sees an unfamiliar person, his tail wags more to the left. Subtle body language like this is easy to miss.

    The tail is important for both balance and signaling, which is why the practice of tail docking, or partial removal of a dog’s tail, is so harmful. Because the tail is a prime indicator of mood, dogs with docked tails are unable to communicate properly using that part of their body, which means that other dogs and people miss vital signals.
    – See more at: https://positively.com/dog-training/understanding-dogs/canine-body-language/#sthash.ZMoHWxZb.dpuf

    Having visitors to your home and introducing to your dogs

    This is how we manage introductions between the pack and guests. (Some may find this overkill, but this is what we do. It works for us!).

    Basic Principle: It shouldn’t be “about” the dogs, i.e. they shouldn’t be the centre of attention. They should be incidental to the meeting of human beings. Ignoring the dogs is MUCH better than making a fuss of them.

    • Person A goes outside and meets visitors/guests. Person A gets their attention and explains that he/she needs to communicate something important, namely how we are going to manage the introductions to the dogs safely. Make sure children are listening. Person A explains to visitors the process you will follow (namely steps below).

    • Person A tells visitors the Basic Principle and the Golden Rule – namely that they are to follow the instructions you are about to give without deviation.

    • Visitors (especially children) must be told to move in an “adult” fashion. No running, no jumping, no sudden movements, no shouting. Just calm, regular movements/gait. No running to hug people – there will be plenty of time for that later. And luggage is to be left in the vehicle for now.

    • Person A walks the visitors to an agreed point on the property such as garden/garage, etc. Stop and hold at a given point.

    • Person A starts a conversation with visitors. Eye contact and concentration maintained between visitors and guests. No distractions.

    • The 2nd person then allows dogs out into the space a few at a time, in an order agreed with the 1st person.

    • The dogs will likely rush over, bark, sniff, make a lot of noise. Visitors and guests maintain their position, their conversation and don’t pay any attention to the dogs whatsoever.

    • Dogs will quickly get bored and go off and do other things. When all dogs have been introduced per plan and when dogs are calm, walk visitors into the house. Maintain conversations: remember dogs should not be the focus of attention. They are to be ignored until owners give the go-ahead to pet. No favourites – all to be treated equally.

    • When it is time to bring luggage in, have owners go get it/accompany visitors (dogs may forget the person who came in, went out and then came back in again).

    • Have visitors ask permission to do things (e.g. “Is it OK if I pet the dogs now?”), and then give specific instructions. Do not be afraid to say “No”, “Not yet” and “Stop!”.

    • Visitors should understand there is to be no tail-gating (i.e. they go through a door/gate first, no dogs are allowed to go through the door with them/behind them, no dogs allowed to run IN through the door/gate as the visitors are going out etc).
    Put simply: if a door is shut, and you are going through it, close it behind you. If a door is open, it is probably wise to check with the owners first if it is meant to be.

    • Bedroom doors to be kept shut as dogs are incredibly inquisitive!

    Our dogs are quite comfortable and have their areas they can retreat to should they need space, but you might find too that your own dogs prefer having baby-gates set up to keep themselves separate – only you will know your dogs well enough to determine that.

    12 Helpful Tips for Finding your Lost Dog

    (from Victoria Stilwell – “Positively”)
    by Tim Link

    As part of my animal consulting business, I have worked with people around the world who have missing animals. For over a decade, I have had a great deal of success in reuniting animals with their families. While no one can guarantee that a lost dog will be reunited with their family, implementing these steps will increase your chances of being reunited with your missing dog.

    1. Create a laminated ‘lost dog’ sign that contains the word ‘REWARD’ at the top, a recent color picture of the animal in the center of the sign and the phone number to contact if your dog is seen by someone or found. It’s very important not to list any other details. Using too many details clutters the sign and makes it more difficult for people to remember the information. NOTE: Use a large enough sign that it can be seen by drivers from their cars. If the sign is too small, they will not be able to read the information.

    2. Post the ‘lost dog’ sign around your neighborhood, at local veterinarian’s offices, at the county animal control shelter and at local animal rescue shelters.

    3. If you live in a major city with a lot of restaurants nearby, provide each restaurant with the ‘lost dog’ sign or fliers. After all, the animal will find food wherever it is convenient.

    4. If your dog is micro-chipped, contact the issuing company (e.g. Avid, Home Again, etc.) and ensure that they have your current contact information on file.

    5. Visit your local animal control offices and local animal rescue shelters daily to see if your dog is among those at the shelters. Unfortunately, most animal control offices have a very short time frame that they can house animals. So, it’s very important to take the time to do this. In addition, the shelters often use volunteers to work in the facilities. These volunteers change on a daily basis. So, who you spoke to yesterday may not be there today.

    6. Place a ‘lost dog’ ad in your local newspaper and on web sites that are typically used in your area to post missing pet information. Include the same information that you have on the ‘lost dog’ sign and fliers.

    7. Check ‘found dog’ ads in the local newspaper, on local animal rescue shelter web sites and on various web sites where ‘found pet’ information can be posted.

    8. Canvas a three-block radius around your neighborhood from your home. It is important to literally knock on doors and talk to your neighbors so they are aware that your dog is missing. If they aren’t home, leave a flier with your pet’s photo and your contact information on it.

    9. Set a humane trap, pet taxi or crate in a safe area near the exterior of your home (e.g. front porch, deck, back porch, etc.) and cover the back and sides of the trap or carrier with a towel or blanket that has your scent or your dog’s scent on it. Check on the trap, taxi or crate frequently but do it discretely so as not to scare your dog away. Put a bowl of fresh soft dog food, peanut butter or your dog’s favorite treats in the enclosure to lure your dog into the enclosure. You may catch other animals as well, but you might also catch your own dog if they are nearby. If you do happen to catch other animals, release them from the trap while you are standing at the back of the trap. They will generally run away very quickly and not look back.

    10. If you live in a neighborhood that has a homeowner’s association, contact one of the board members and ask them to post your dog’s information on the neighborhood’s web site and to send out an e-mail to everyone in the neighborhood asking that you be called if someone sees your dog.

    11. Provide a “lost dog” flier to drivers with regular routes in the area and ask them to contact you if they spot your missing dog. This includes mail carriers, trash collectors, school bus drivers and delivery truck drivers (e.g. FedEx, UPS, etc.).

    12. Actively keep searching for your lost dog no matter how much time has elapsed. Lost dogs can turn up weeks and sometimes months or years after they’ve gone missing.
    The most important thing to do is to remain calm and implement a plan to find your lost dog.

    – See more at: https://positively.com/contributors/12-helpful-tips-for-finding-your-lost-dog/#sthash.UDbw1DXP.dpuf

    Things to know about Jindos!

    Things to know about Jindos!


      • Jindos are not for people in a rush – they appreciate considerate and thoughtful owners.
      • Don’t absent yourself from training sessions – both Jindo and owner(s) should train together.
      • They can be challenging through (potentially long-lasting) puppyhood and adolescence.
      Do: provide structure, routine, consistent and fair leadership, and positive reinforcement.
      Don’t: use sustained negative reinforcement & positive punishment.
      • Jindos are intelligent: they can learn commands quickly (but as independent thinkers, may decide to ignore them equally quickly, as recall can be selective); being off-leash is not recommended in built-up areas and requires methodical training.
      • They are generally quiet & clean – so they can do well in apartments & houses.
      • They bond strongly to their owners and can be good watch dogs without being overly needy.
      • Can be both escape artists (often excellent jumpers and climbers) and territorial.
      • Aloof with strangers – this can make them difficult at the vet & boarding kennels.
      • Can be sensitive to being touched around head, neck and paws, unless conditioned.
      • Need regular exercise but may not be interested to play fetch, etc.

      Health & Diet

      • Medium size (from 35lbs to 55lbs) but powerful.
      • Not hugely temperature sensitive, and naturally healthy with few genetic disorders. Long-lived.
      • Twice yearly shed (which can be dramatic).
      • Can be picky eaters – they do better on grain free diets – they tend to eat, and take food, gently.

      Interactions with other animals

      • High Prey Drive.
      • Need to introduce to other (especially small) animals cautiously.
      • Can be intolerant of pushy dogs.
      • Tend towards dominance in a group of dogs: strongly hierarchical in pack situation, which can mean NOT good at dog parks.
      • Managing same sex Jindos can be difficult.

      Always have a back up plan with your Jindo!

    Myth v Fact: Positive Training

    There is a fierce debate raging in the dog training world between traditional dominance and punishment-based trainers and the positive training movement.

    (from Victoria Stilwell’s “Positively”)

    Common Dog Training Myths:

    There is more than one way to train a dog.
    Positive training methods don’t work on ‘red zone’ dogs.
    Dogs only ‘respect’ leaders who assert their ‘dominance.’
    Positive trainers do not believe in discipline.
    Training a dog with food is basically bribery.
    Positive training stops working when you stop giving treats.
    Aggressive dogs are trying to be dominant.
    Dogs are pack animals like wolves and are hell-bent on becoming the ‘alpha’ or ‘top dog’ over their owners.
    Dominance training is safer because it works faster.
    Positive training is always slow.
    Positive training and dominance training are both equally effective.
    Positive trainers treat dogs like human kids
    ‘Alpha Rolls’ make dogs calmly submissive.

    MYTH: There is more than one way to train a dog.

    FACT: This is the trickiest one to answer, because technically speaking, this is true. You can train positively or you can train with intimidation. (Within these two approaches, there are a lot of different tools and methods you can use.) What you have to ask yourself, though, is what kind of person do you want to be and what kind of relationship do you want with your dog? Punishment does work for a while – if you poke, yank, shock, kick or hit your dog, he will probably stop what he is doing, but trust will be broken, and if you continue to intimidate him, he may well bite. If you want to have an emotionally balanced and confident dog that trusts you and wants to be with you, the positive path is the one you should take.

    So yes, there are different ways to train your dog, but until certain punishment-related tools and techniques are (correctly) deemed as illegal, it is left up to your individual moral compass to guide which path to follow when building a relationship with your dog.

    The simple question is this: do you want your dogs to follow you because they want to, or because they are scared of what will happen to them if they do not? There is no place in the healthy, balanced dog/human dynamic for macho, intimidating behavior, and only positive training methods create and foster relationships with your dog based on mutual trust, respect and love rather than pain, fear and intimidation.

    MYTH: Positive training methods don’t work on ‘red zone’ dogs.

    FACT: Actually, this is where positive reinforcement methods are at their most powerful. Using positive training to treat ‘red zone’ or severely aggressive dogs is not only a safer option, but a much more effective one.

    Positive training doesnot only work on small dogs with minor obedience issues – it is also by far the most effective way to treat severe anxiety and ‘red zone’ aggression cases. On It’s Me or the Dog, her other shows and in private practice, Victoria and other positive trainers around the world successfully rehabilitate big, powerful dogs suffering from severe aggression issues on a regular basis. But instead of fighting aggression with aggression (a game-plan that usually results in someone eventually getting bitten), a qualified positive trainer is able to truly change the way dogs feel for the rest of their lives using force-free methods – not just the way they’re acting at that moment.

    Aggression in dogs needs to be handled sensitively and with compassion. Aggressive dogs are under stress and this stress needs to be managed so that the dog can feel better while the trainer finds the cause of the aggressive response and then works with the dog and the owner to modify it. Instead of using forceful or punitive techniques, a dog is guided by using positive techniques that help him see a perceived threat or potential loss of a valued resource in a different light. For some dogs this can be achieved relatively quickly but for others it can take a while, which is why it is important to see every dog and every situation as unique.

    MYTH: Dogs only respect leaders who assert their ‘dominance’.

    FACT: Well, dogs do need effective leadership from us, but the whole idea of dominance is a very complex and widely misunderstood concept which almost always takes dog owners down the wrong path when applying it to their dogs’ behavior.

    Instead of looking to become alpha, top dog or pack leader over us, most dogs simply want safety, security and those things which generally make them feel good. They know we’re not dogs, and in fact they prefer us to provide effective, non-combative and punishment-free leadership. Contrary to popular belief, we do not need to try and act like what we think an alpha wolf would do when dealing with our dogs, but rather provide consistent, reward-driven learning which helps guide dogs into making the right choices – the choices we want them to make in order to succeed in our strange domestic world.

    So do not get caught up in whether or not you or your dog has the upper hand in the battle for dominance. Focus instead on building a common language, rewarding the good behavior, redirecting the bad behavior, and instilling confidence in your dog to live successfully within the boundaries that you set for your household.

    MYTH: Positive trainers do not believe in discipline.

    FACT: Positive does not mean permissive.

    Most positive trainers do use discipline, in the form of vocal interrupters, time-outs, ignoring negative behavior, or removing something that the dog wants, all of which are used to guide the dog into making the right choices rather than forcing it to behave out of fear. In technical terms, such discipline is called “negative punishment” because it removes (negative = ‘minus’ or ‘less’) something that the dog likes, such as your attention, access to you, or a favorite toy. This is by no means to be confused with the term “positive punishment,” which, though it includes the word “positive,” is defined as punishing the dog by adding something to the equation that the dog does not like (corrections, physical force, or intimidation).

    Dominance-based discipline uses force and hard punishment such as ‘alpha rolls’ (when a dog is forcibly laid on its back and side and held down until it ‘submits’), ‘biting’ (where a person uses the tips of their fingers bunched together that are poked into a dog’s side in order to simulate a ‘bite’ that a dog would use to reprimand another dog), foot pushes (where a person uses the side of their foot or heel to prod or kick a dog when it is misbehaving), hanging (where a dog is hung by his collar until his air supply is cut off), and shock collars that deliver an electric shock when the dog misbehaves.

    Anyone can get a dog to behave using punitive training but it takes a real understanding of dog psychology to use discipline effectively without inflicting pain or fear and to guide a dog into not repeating negative behavior while maintaining trust between dog and person.

    MYTH: Training a dog with food is basically bribery. A dog should never be bribed into doing something for food but should obey their owners because they want to make their owners happy.

    FACT: Those who claim that food is bribery do not understand how powerful using food in training is.

    Food has the power to help a fearful or anxious dog overcome his fears. When food is presented to a fearful dog in the presence of a stimulus that causes that fear or anxiety, the smell and taste of the food bypasses all other parts of the brain and goes straight to the brain’s emotional center, the amygdala. Instead of feeling fear, the brain begins to be overcome with not just the pleasurable feelings that food gives but also allows the dog to focus more on the good sensation and less on the negative emotion. Food is incompatible with fear and is therefore a valuable tool in modifying a dog’s fear, anxiety and stress.

    Positive training isn’t just about using treats though. I encourage people to use whatever reward motivates their dog, whether it’s praise, play, toys or ‘life rewards’ like going for a walk or getting a belly rub.

    The bottom line here is that a reward that motivates a dog to learn is a great training tool because learning not only makes a dog more confident and able to live successfully in a domestic environment, it also encourages mutual understanding that increases the human/animal bond. That is not bribery.

    MYTH: Positive training stops working when you stop giving treats.

    FACT: Any reward that is used to motivate the dog to learn has to be of high value until the dog is responding reliably. When training positively, once this has been achieved, the high reward, such as food, is only used intermittently. That means the dog doesn’t get rewarded with the food every time he responds to a cue, but the next time he responds he might just get it. Then the next couple of times he responds, a lower-value reward such as praise will be used, but the dog continues to respond.

    In fact, intermittent reinforcement like this actually makes a dog respond faster and more reliably because it is based on the same theory that makes a slot machine in a casino so addictive. This is how dogs really learn so even if you don’t give a food reward every time, the possibility of the potential of one in the future makes a dog work much harder.

    MYTH: Aggressive dogs are trying to be dominant.

    FACT: This is very rarely true.

    Contrary to what many believe, dogs are not out to achieve world domination! Dominance theory relies heavily on the idea that if a dog is being aggressive, controlling or just behaving badly then it must be trying to dominate the owner. While domination does happen in the canine world, it shows a true misunderstanding of dog behavior to label everything a dog does as an attempt to be top dog or boss over a human.

    If a dog is exhibiting controlling behavior in or out of the home, chances are that he hasn’t been taught how to behave appropriately. If a dog hasn’t been taught how to function in a domestic environment he will behave in the only way he knows how. He might control access to food, space or furniture by aggressing at a human only because he is insecure and hasn’t been given the confidence to know that there is no need to guard these resources. Dogs guard and control for fear that they will lose access to their comfort and what makes them feel good and not because they want to dominate humans and the household, yet for so long these kinds of behaviors have been grossly misunderstood.

    MYTH: Dogs are pack animals like wolves and are hell-bent on becoming the ‘alpha’ or ‘top dog’ over their owners.

    FACT: Dogs are not wolves, and most of the common thinking which assumes that we should base our understanding of how dogs think and act on wolves is based on flawed and misguided research which has been renounced by the very scientists who first presented the idea.

    There are thousands of years and many generations removing dogs from wolves both genetically as a species and practically as our domestic companions. What’s more, even the idea of ‘top dog’ or ‘alpha’ status in the wolf world has been wildly misunderstood and is a dangerously misguided way of thinking about our dogs. Dogs actually offer submission to one another rather than aggressively staking out claims of superiority, and the way wolves interact has very little bearing on how we should assume our dogs think, feel and act.

    MYTH: Dominance training is much safer because it has quicker results.

    FACT: This is a flawed and dangerous way to think. This ‘quick fix’ idea demeans a dog’s experience and is psychologically unachievable.

    A dog’s emotional brain is wired in exactly the same way as that of a human. So his physiological response to emotion is the same as ours, which means that our bodies have the same internal reaction to emotions such as fear, joy, excitement etc. When a dog is suffering from anxiety or fear that provokes a negative behavior such as aggression, then it is dangerous and fundamentally wrong to assume that by punishing a dog, the dog is fixed.

    If a human has an anxiety problem, chances are they will seek out therapy to help them. That therapy does not work in one session (and certainly didn’t in the past when therapies were punitive). It takes time to work through an anxiety and change the way a human feels about something.

    It is exactly the same for a dog because time is needed to really change the way a dog feels emotionally. Punitive training just puts a band aid on the problem but the dog still feels the same inside if not more insecure for the punishment he has received for ‘behaving badly’.

    MYTH: Positive Training Is Always Slow

    FACT: This is not true. People who have yet to experience it are routinely amazed at how quickly the power of positive reinforcement transforms dog behavior. Positive training actually changes the way a dog feels, thus altering his tendency to make the ‘wrong’ choice. Once a dog learns to think for itself within the guidelines that we set for him, everyone is in for a far more harmonious, balanced and happy life experience.

    That’s not to say that more serious fear and anxiety-based behaviors don’t take much longer to get under control, because they often do. But which would you rather have: a quick solution based on ‘patching over’ the underlying issue with the huge risk that the bandage will likely come unstuck, or a solution that takes longer because it addresses what’s really causing the problem and is far more likely to truly change the dog’s behavior forever.

    MYTH: Positive training and dominance training are both equally effective.

    FACT: There are many great training methods and many different effective and humane ways to train dogs, but all of those methods fall under one general behavioral philosophy – positive reinforcement.

    For some reason, though, a lot of people still don’t like hearing trainers say that it’s not ok to train your dog using any method that ‘works’. Using that heavy-handed logic, it would be ok do just about anything to a dog if it meant they stopped misbehaving right then and there. Simply, there are more effective, safe and humane ways of doing things. There are many fantastic methods and approaches that can be used to effectively change dogs’ behavior, but all of those methods have one thing in common – a solid basis in the general principles of positive reinforcement and force-free training.

    MYTH: Positive trainers treat dogs like human kids.

    FACT: Treating animals like they are human beings is called anthropomorphizing, and good positive trainers do not do it. In fact, many of the common behavior issues that Victoria and other positive trainers are regularly called in to fix stem from the owner’s tendency to anthropomorphize their dogs, and the first step in such situations is to convince them to stop treating their dog like a child.

    At the same time, modern behavioral science has shown us that the dog’s emotional brain is wired very similarly to a human’s – dogs have emotions, just not with a human’s level of complexity and ability to extrapolate. Comprehending this is the first step toward understanding our dogs: seeing the world from their point of view.

    Furthermore, studies have shown that the most socially mature dogs have an intelligence and ability to problem-solve and understand words and gestures similar to that of a two-year-old human child.

    In short, most of us now raise our children using all the same positive reinforcement philosophies at play in positive dog training, but that does not mean that we should equate the two or treat them exactly the same.

    MYTH: ‘Alpha Rolls’ make dogs calmly submissive.

    FACT: The complete opposite is actually true.

    The so-called ‘alpha roll,’ – a popular punishment technique used by dominance trainers – is the practice of restraining the dog on its back or side until it ‘calms down.’ It may indeed appear that the dog has become quiet and relaxed, but the dog has actually employed an instinctive survival tool we call ‘shut down.’ This response is used by animals to appease aggressors and attempt to avoid any further violence. If the dog remains still or ‘shuts down’ until the aggressor moves away, he is more likely to be safe.

    Even if a restrained dog’s demeanor appears calm on the outside, research has proven that forced submission or restraint raises a dog’s stress levels, due to a release of cortisol into the dog’s bloodstream. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in the adrenal gland and released in response to stress. Elevated stress inhibits learning and compromises a dog’s ability to function normally.

    To the untrained eye, a restrained dog’s stillness may indicate that he is calm, but an internal battle is being fought as the dog tries to cope with what is, in essence, a stressful episode brought on by of an act of physical violence by a human, in which the dog is the victim. Any ‘success’ that may be achieved when using dominance techniques on even a mildly aggressive dog is generally just a case of the dog’s ‘shutting down,’ suppressing his true instincts, and masking valuable warning signals.

    Trying to ‘put the dog in its place’ usually results in a short-lived quick fix, merely postponing the inevitable negative response once the dog feels threatened again. This delayed reaction can easily resurface at the worst possible moment, such as around children or in public.

    Elimination Round: Dogs with suspected food allergies

    Will Your Allergic Dog Benefit From a Food-Elimination Trial?

    Dogs whose allergies are suspected to be related to their diet will benefit from a food-elimination trial.

    By Cynthia Foley (The Whole Dog Journal March 2015)

    When your dog itches, you know it. That relentless licking, scratching, chewing – anything he can do to relieve the itch. He seems obsessed, and he probably is. Whatever you do, don’t ignore this problem (as if you could!). Incessant scratching and chewing may indicate food allergy. He’ll constantly tear into any place on his body that he can reach with his teeth or claws. You may see ugly hair loss. Until you find the cause, this problem will go from bad to worse.

    Yes, persistent skin irritations can also be due to something else, including dry skin, hormonal issues, liver disease, fungal infections, drug reactions, pain, boredom, anxiety, or a combination of any of those! For this reason, if your dog has chronic itching, it’s always worth a trip to the vet to rule out some of these potential causes.

    But the fact is, 70 percent of canine skin conditions are allergy-related – and most of those are due to flea allergy and/or environmental allergens, such as pollen, mold, or dust mites. If the dog has fleas, or if his symptoms have a seasonal component, it’s likely that environmental allergies are his primary problem.

    But an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the dogs who suffer from allergies are allergic to their food, or at least some ingredient or ingredients within their food. Many owners assume that a dog with a chronically upset stomach has food allergies, but many dogs who have chronic upset tummies may have a food intolerance; if there is no hypersensitive immune response, it’s not an allergy. (That said, one can use an elimination diet to help determine whether the dog is intolerant of certain foods, too.)

    The primary symptom of food allergies, just as with inhaled or contact allergies, is itching. Dogs with food allergies might also show gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and/or diarrhea), or secondary infections, such as chronic otitis (ear infections), but they might not; non-seasonal (year-round) itching might be their only symptom.

    A Diagnostic Diet
    Puppies aren’t usually born with food allergies. These hypersensitive immune responses tend to build up over time, usually appearing between the ages of 1 and 3 (but they can appear late in life, especially if the dog has been on the exact same diet for years and years). The most common food allergens in dogs are protein sources – especially beef, dairy products, wheat, chicken, egg, and soy – but the cause may also be a carbohydrate, a preservative, a dye, or anything else in the food.

    While there are skin and blood tests that can be performed for allergies, they’re expensive and have only a 60 percent accuracy, frequently returning both false positives and false negatives. No wonder many veterinarians consider them useless! Although all you’re going to hurt by trying them is your wallet, a far better solution is an “elimination diet.”

    Better described as a “restricted diet,” this limited-fare menu will help you both identify the foods that cause an allergic (hypersensitive) reaction in your dog, as well as find foods that can be fed to him without causing an allergic response.

    The first step in a food-elimination trial is to think hard about all the types of food you have fed to your dog, and then gather the ingredient lists for all commercial foods the dog has received, or foods you have included in his home-prepared diet. Write down (or list in a spreadsheet) all of the ingredients in the foods your dog has eaten. While it may be difficult to recall (or impossible, in the case of dogs who were adopted as adults) every food a dog has eaten in his lifetime, all of the ingredients in the diets that the dog has received most recently should be included on the list.

    You now have a working list of the ingredients you will avoid when selecting foods for the dog’s elimination diet.

    “Novel” Ingredients
    The goal for the first stage of the trial is to find ingredients that the dog has never received, in order to find some to which he is not allergic. You will then start him on a diet of these “novel” ingredients, in hopes that his itching reduces and then stops, indicating he is no longer eating something to which he is allergic, and that he is not allergic to any of the novel ingredients.

    If his itching and other symptoms of allergy stop, you can begin adding other ingredients back into his diet, one at a time. If the itching recurs, the most recently added ingredient is then put onto your dog’s list of forbidden foods.

    Ideally, an elimination diet initially consists of just one protein source and one carbohydrate source, neither of which appears on the list of foods your dog has previously eaten.

    “I recommend a limited-antigen diet: one protein, one carbohydrate,” says Eileen Fatcheric, DVM, co-owner of the Fairmount Animal Hospital in Fairmount, New York. “The foods should be ‘novel,’ meaning the dog has not eaten them before.”

    In order to ensure the food is new (novel) for your dog, your veterinarian may recommend some seemingly crazy cuisine. Ingredients often recommended for elimination diets include:


    Chickpeas (also a good protein source)

    Keep in mind that this initial, “one novel protein and one novel carb” diet is being used in hopes that you have eliminated whatever your dog has been reacting to in his diet, so that he stops itching, his skin clears, and any other allergic symptoms he has cease. Once he is totally asymptomatic – and this may takes weeks – you can add one ingredient to his diet for a few weeks. If he starts itching, that ingredient gets added to the “forbidden” list, and you retreat to feeding the diet that didn’t make him itch, wait until all is calm again, and then try adding yet another ingredient.

    The ingredients you choose to use for this initial trial should be new to your dog, but readily available to you and affordable. Some of the more unique proteins may be more available in frozen, dehydrated, or canned form than fresh.

    Decades ago, beef was the most common animal protein used in commercial dog foods, and so when a dog appeared to have a food allergy, most veterinarians would recommend a lamb and rice food. These ingredients were rarely seen in commercial foods at the time and, therefore, were novel to most dogs. The combination was even dubbed “hypoallergenic” – a misnomer for any dog who is allergic to lamb or rice! Of course, when food-allergic dogs improved on these foods, they became popular; soon, even owners whose dogs didn’t have allergies tried them, and more companies began offering foods that contained lamb and rice. The upshot is that within a relatively short time, both lamb and rice lost that all-important “novel” characteristic for many dogs.

    The same phenomenon is making it even more difficult for dog owners to find foods that contain ingredients that are novel for their dogs. The popularity of grain-free foods, and their inclusion of potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, and chickpeas (as replacement carbohydrate sources for grains) means that many dogs have been fed these formerly rare (in dog foods) carbs, eliminating those ingredients from the pool of potential “base” ingredients for the allergic dog’s preliminary restricted diet.

    Other owners may have fed novel proteins to their dogs in foods that appealed to them for reasons other than food allergies – just to provide the dog with variety, for example.
    We suggest that owners avoid feeding foods that contain uncommon proteins to their dogs, so they are available for use in the dog’s diet if he should develop food allergies later.

    Commercial Foods, Home-Prepared Option, Home-Prepared Option, Serving the New Food, Challenging

    Commercial Foods for an Elimination Trial?
    Today, a visit to any specialty pet-supply store will reveal that any number of companies offer “complete and balanced” foods that contain uncommon proteins such as rabbit, duck, venison, bison, and even kangaroo. Further, many of them are formulated to contain only one type of animal protein – what the makers often call “limited-ingredient” formulas. Those products seem ideal for feeding a food-allergic dog, right? Well, it depends.

    A commercial food is most likely to work in an elimination diet if it contains just one novel (to your dog) protein and one novel (to your dog) carb. However, if it contains (for example) one novel ingredient (say, rabbit) and chicken – which is the most common animal protein in commercial dog food today – it probably won’t work for use in an elimination diet. You have to look past the “headline” ingredients to see whether a food might also contain ingredients your dog has consumed many times; it doesn’t matter if a food is called “Brand X Bison and Barley Dog Food” if it also contains beef and rice.

    There is also the matter of the potential for cross-contamination at the pet-food manufacturing facility. A dog who is highly allergic to chicken, for example, may react to a food that contains no chicken, but was made on manufacturing equipment that was inadequately cleaned after running a batch of food that contained chicken.

    Also, even if it’s a single-protein, single-carb “limited ingredient” commercial diet, any “complete and balanced” food will necessarily contain more ingredients than a home-prepared diet that contains only the protein and carb sources. While it’s quite rare that the dog’s allergy is to a preservative or herb or fiber source in the food, the fewer ingredients that are used in the trial diet, the more certain you can be about what is or is not causing the dog’s symptoms.

    Home-Prepared Option
    Another option is to prepare your dog’s elimination diet yourself – a course of action that has its own benefits and pitfalls. While it provides you with the ultimate method of ensuring that your dog’s diet contains only those ingredients that prove to be safe for your dog, it may take some trial and error to figure out appropriate portion sizes and the best ratio of meat to carbohydrate for your dog. Also, you may be limited as to how long you can keep your dog on the diet, as it isn’t likely to be nutritionally balanced.

    It can also be expensive. When dog-food manufacturers use something like kangaroo or rabbit in their diets, they have the benefit of buying those novel proteins in bulk, for much lower prices than you are likely to pay. That’s why it can be a great boon if you’ve never fed your dog a diet that contains a common animal protein, that is, when your dog’s “novel” protein is something that’s easy to find and affordable, like fish or beef.

    Serving the New Food
    The switch to the elimination diet should take place over the course of a few days. Change your dog’s food gradually, substituting increasing amounts of the new food for equal amounts of the old food until the dog is eating only the new food. If you see any signs of gastric distress (vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, which may indicate your dog is allergic to one of the ingredients you have chosen) or if your dog refuses to eat the new food, you’ll need to choose different ingredients.

    The length of time that you feed the initial diet (of just one protein and one carb), and how long you should wait before introducing a new ingredient, will depend on how your dog’s allergies are expressed. Dogs whose primary allergy symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and gas will respond (for better or worse) relatively quickly after dietary changes are made.

    However, if the dog’s primary symptom is itching, it can take a lot longer for the problem to subside after the “trigger” food is removed from his diet. It may also take longer for him to start itching again when a problematic ingredient is added back into the diet.

    “For food-allergic dogs whose symptoms are gastrointestinal, you only have to do the ‘diet trial’ for two weeks,” Dr. Fatcheric says, adding that it could take as much as 8 to 12 weeks for skin problems to completely clear.

    If there is absolutely no change in the dog’s symptoms – no reduction in itching or GI problems – you may want to change both the protein source and the carb source and start a new elimination trial.

    If a second trial, with all-new ingredients, produces no reduction in the dog’s symptoms, it’s very likely that the dog’s diet is not what he’s allergic to; he most likely is allergic to something else in his environment.

    In contrast, if your dog’s symptoms reduce immediately and disappear quickly, you will know that there was something in his most recent diet (before the elimination diet) to which he was allergic.

    Few owners are willing to take a further step to confirm the link between their dogs’ old diet and the dogs’ allergy symptoms – a “challenge” phase – but many veterinarians feel this step is necessary. To definitively establish the link between the dog’s former diet (or even the single ingredient suspected of being the allergy culprit in the old food), some vets suggest reintroducing the old diet (or the suspect ingredient); if the dog begins to break out in itching or GI distress, the allergen for that dog is decisively confirmed. Quickly return to the diet that your dog did well on, with no allergy symptoms.

    Some owners stop there – and who can blame them? It’s a pain to employ such scrupulous supervision over your dog’s diet. If you feel confident that the trial and challenge have identified the ingredient that is problematic for your dog, you can start looking for (or formulating) a new, complete and balanced diet that is free of that ingredient.

    However, it can be incredibly useful to continue for a few more weeks, to challenge your dog with a few more ingredients (one at a time), in hopes of finding more ingredients that are safe for him to consume. Feed him the trial diet until his allergy symptoms are gone again, and then add one ingredient that you would like to use in his diet in the future. If you are able to add it and he doesn’t react with signs of allergy within two to three weeks, you can put that ingredient on his “safe” list for now. Once you have challenged his system with a few proteins and carbs without an allergic response, you should have enough ingredients on his “safe” list to enable you to buy or build a complete and balanced diet containing those ingredients (and none of the ones that he’s proven to be allergic to).

    If you’re lucky, you may be able to find a commercial diet that contains only the ingredients on your dog’s safe list and none of the ones that trigger an allergic reaction in your dog. But if you can’t find such a diet, or want to continue to prepare your dog’s diet at home, Dr. Fatcheric recommends that you “work with a veterinary nutritionist to make sure your diet is balanced and complete.” Another option is to consult with a company like JustFoodForDogs, which will formulate a diet based on your dog’s special needs. (See “Better Choices for Home-Prepared and Special Needs Recipes,” December 2013.)

    Tips to Ensure Clear Results
    Make sure your dog consumes only the “trial” food – even for treats. For training treats, use dried bits of the animal protein you are using in the trial. (See “How to Make High Quality Dehydrated Dog Treats” in the May 2012 issue of WDJ.)

    Be sure to check any medications your dog may be on, such as a monthly heartworm preventative, to make sure they have no flavorings. If they do or you’re not sure, ask your veterinarian for an unflavored alternative. It is critical that you are vigilant about your dog’s diet during this time.

    If you have several pets, you’ll need to oversee dinner time to ensure your dog doesn’t eat someone else’s meal. Or put all the dogs in the household on the same diet for the trial period. With an elimination diet, your dog can’t even lick the cat’s bowl clean or gobble down something he finds outside. You’ll need to watch everything he does. This is another time when it’s valuable for your dog to be happy and habituated in a crate for the periods when you can’t supervise him directly.

    “I myself would have a hard time being completely compliant for two to three months. No treats (of foods that aren’t part of the diet). No nothing. Be careful in homes with toddlers who drop food on the floor. And watch for well-meaning neighbors or in-laws slipping a treat,” Dr. Fatcheric says.

    The Proof
    A food-elimination trial can be a valuable tool in determining the cause of your dog’s discomfort. But it does take commitment, vigilance, and a little extra cash. It’s well worth the effort, though, if you do it correctly.

    If you stick with the restricted-diet regimen, you should see a reduction in itching by 50 percent or more at the end of the trial. If not, you haven’t eliminated the cause. That means you either need to try another combination, consisting of a new protein and new carbohydrate, or determine that dietary hypersensitivity is not the issue. That’s why it’s so important to involve your veterinarian right from the start.

    If the results do prove a dietary cause, you will have been given the key to an itch-free, happy, comfortable dog. You can then either choose a commercial food that contains only those ingredients you used during the elimination trial or consult a veterinary nutritionist to construct a diet that will work for your dog. It’s important that the dog’s diet for the long-term is complete and balanced.

    “Diet trials are hard. But the people with food-allergic dogs who successfully complete them potentially have a comfortable, itch-free pet without expensive and potentially harmful medications. It’s worth it, if you can tough it out,” Dr. Fatcheric says.

    Cynthia Foley is an experienced dog agility competitor. Also a lifelong horsewoman, she served as editor of Horse Journal from its inception in 1994 to 2014.