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  • The Whole Dog Journal’s Dry Food Recommendations 2015

    In our opinion, the most important factors to consider – the starting place for the search – are the food’s ingredients. The following are desired traits – things you want to see on the label.

    Lots of animal protein at the top of the ingredients list. Ingredients in pet food, just like human food, are listed in order of the weight of that ingredient in the formula, so you want to see a top-quality animal protein at the top of the list.

    Importantly, that animal protein should be identified by species – chicken, beef, lamb, etc. “Meat” is an example of a low-quality protein source of dubious origin. “Poultry” is more specific but not specific enough!

    Animal protein “meals” are made through a process called rendering, wherein the animal tissues (muscle, fat, skin, connective tissue, and some smaller amount of bone, hair, and/or feathers, depending on the species) are ground, and then heated to separate the fat and reduce the moisture. If it’s made from rendered chicken, the resulting product is chicken meal; if made from lamb, it’s lamb meal, etc. Just as with the fresh animal protein, look for a named species (i.e., “chicken meal”) but avoid “meat meal” or “poultry meal.”

    When a fresh, named meat is first on the ingredient list (such as “chicken”), there should be a named animal-protein meal (such as “chicken meal”) in a supporting role to augment the total animal protein in the diet. The closer to the top of the ingredient list that this supporting meal appears, the better. The ingredient list of the best foods will start out with something like, “Chicken, chicken meal . . .” and go on from there. Fresh meat contains a lot of (heavy) water, so if meat is first on the list, it acts like a diluted protein source; while it adds an appealing flavor and aroma to the food, it doesn’t actually contribute that much protein. That’s why another named source of animal protein should appear in the top three or so ingredients.

    Whole-food ingredients: vegetables, fruits, and/or grains or other carbohydrate sources such as potatoes, peas, chickpeas, or sweet potatoes. Fresh, unprocessed food ingredients contain nutrients in all their complex glory, with their vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants intact. Don’t be too alarmed by one or two “fractions” (a byproduct or part of an ingredient, like tomato pomace or oatmeal), especially if they are lower on the ingredient list. But the more fractions present in the food, and the higher they appear on the list, the lower quality the result.

    We also think it’s important that you know some ingredients to look out for. Avoid the following:

    Meat byproducts and poultry by-products, meat byproduct meal, or poultry byproduct meal. Some of the animal tissues that go into the ingredients that are identified on labels as animal byproducts are highly nutritious, such as lungs, spleens, kidneys, brains (of some animal species, not all), livers , blood, bone, fat, and emptied stomachs and intestines. Poultry byproducts also includes necks, feet, and underdeveloped eggs. In addition, poultry byproduct meal may contain poultry heads.

    However, believe us when we say that these ingredients are not handled as nicely as the higher-value cuts of meat of which they are “byproducts.” Because they are not headed for human consumption, these products are not kept clean and chilled through processing and transport; it’s a given that whatever bacterial burden may flourish during this time will be reduced by later processing. As they become oxidized – rancid – these animal tissues develop a certain level of peroxide. Pet-food producers may specify byproducts with lower peroxide values, but these cost more.

    A “generic” fat source such as “animal fat.” This can literally be any mixed fat of animal origin; it need not have originated from slaughtered animals. Meaning, it can be obtained from renderers that process dead animals. “Poultry” fat is not quite as suspect as “animal fat,” but “chicken fat” or “duck fat” is better (and traceable).

    Added sweeteners. Dogs, like humans, enjoy the taste of sweet foods. Sweeteners effectively persuade many dogs to eat foods comprised mainly of grain fragments (and containing less healthy animal protein and fats).

    Artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives (i.e., BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin). The color of the food doesn’t matter to your dog. And it should be flavored well enough to be enticing with healthy meats and fats. Natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract, can be used instead. Note that natural preservatives do not preserve foods as long as artificial preservatives, so owners should always check the “best by” date on the label and look for relatively fresh products.

    Along the bottom of these two pages is a list of relatively well-known dry dog foods and their first five ingredients. They appear in order of how we would rank them in quality, with the lowest-quality foods on the left, and the better-quality foods on the right.

    Why have we put them in this order? First, understand that we wouldn’t buy any of the foods on the left page. Not a single one has an animal-protein source at the top of its ingredients list. Instead, each uses corn as its major source of protein. (Note: There is absolutely no difference between the designations each uses for “corn.” All those phrases mean the same thing.) The array of amino acids that make up the protein in corn are not as beneficial for dogs as the amino-acid profile of animal proteins; while dogs can survive on it, it’s an unnatural and low-cost protein for them.

    We have Kibbles ’n Bits ranked below all the rest, due to the fact that its source of animal protein, the very low-quality “meat and bone meal,” appears lower on its ingredient list (third) than the next foods. Even its low-quality, artificially preserved fat source appears lower on its ingredient list than its competitors. (These things are reflected in its low protein and fat percentages.)

    The next two foods are nearly identical, with one small difference: Pedigree uses an artificial preservative on its low-quality fat, so we would rank it lower in quality than the Purina Dog Chow. By the way, corn gluten meal, which appears third on both of these products’ ingredients lists, is a concentrated protein made from corn – again, a lower-cost, lower-quality nutrient for dogs than an animal-protein source.

    Beneful has a significantly better animal-protein source than its predecessors; chicken byproduct meal is at least a named animal protein. And it’s present in a higher amount than in the preceding foods; see the higher protein content?

    We’d start to consider foods that appear on this page. They meet our basic criteria as described above, displaying some of the good traits (a named animal protein first on the list, whole grains, a named supporting animal-protein meal) and minor infractions with the “undesirable ingredients” (brewers rice, a food fragment). We’d call the Hills and the Iams product nearly a tie, with the edge in quality going to the Iams food, with the credit given for chicken meal in the fourth spot on the label (rather than fifth, as in the Hill’s food). Again, this is reflected in the total amount of protein seen in the food.

    We jump upward in quality with the next two foods. The Taste of the Wild product is a grain-free food, so remember to expect it to be higher in protein and fat – not something that every dog can handle. But look at those nice named meat sources – one fresh at the top of the list, followed immediately not one, but two supportive named meat meals. Nice!

    We will take another upward jump with the highest-quality product on this list, Orijen. Five ingredients down and there are still no grains or other carbohydrate sources on the ingredient list. It’s packed with high-quality named animal proteins, and this is reflected in its high protein content.

    By the way, don’t be afraid of feeding protein to your dog; he’s well suited to utilize it. If you’ve been warned about the dangers of too much protein, please see our article “When to Say No to Low-Protein” in the May 2005 issue of WDJ.

    Hopefully, you feel comfortable now in reading an ingredient list. Here are just a few more things to look for when considering a new food for your dog.

    Other Considerations, List of Approved Foods

    Many of the other things we want you to read the label for are neither good nor bad, just things you need to be aware of when shopping for your specific dog. Remember, each dog is an individual, and while it’s great when it works out that all of your dogs do well on the same food, don’t take this for granted.

    You will need to become aware of how much protein and fat your dog thrives on – how much is too much, and how much is too little. Top-quality foods contain a lot more protein (and often, more fat, too) than lower-quality foods, so you may have to reduce the amount of food you feed quite a bit if you switch from a low-quality food to a really good one. (One upside is that good foods are much more digestible, and your dog’s poop should shrink a lot, too.)

    Look for a “best by” date that’s at least six months away. A best by date that’s 10 or 11 months away is ideal; it means the food was made very recently. Note: Foods made with synthetic preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin) may have a “best by” date that is 18 months or more past the date of manufacture.

    Grain-free or not? Be aware that grain-free foods generally contain higher protein and fat levels. Also, keep in mind that grain-free does not mean carbohydrate-free; another carb source has been employed to take the place of grain (you can’t make kibble without any carbohydrate at all). Be sure you can identify the carb used in the food you choose – the most common ones used today are potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, and chickpeas – and keep track of how well your dog digests it.

    Some companies use a small amount of dehydrated or freeze-dried meats in their formulas. These unprocessed ingredients add both concentrated protein and taste to a finished product, but are wickedly expensive, so they aren’t often used in dry food.

    Here is the reward for those of you who have applied yourself to “learning to fish.” On the following pages, we’ve listed a number of companies that make foods that meet our selection criteria. Some of them make just a few foods; some make dozens and dozens of different formulas. Some sell a relatively tiny amount of dog food; some sell quite a bit.

    Only a couple of companies on this list could be considered corporate titans – and in the case of the ones you may identify as such, you need to look carefully to see which line of their products has actually met our selection criteria. We predicted a decade ago that if the largest pet-food companies ever wanted to put a lot of small companies out of business, all they would need to do is to produce a few formulas that more closely resemble the higher-quality products formulated and marketed by the “boutique” companies, but with the economy of scale and efficiencies of their large production facilities and ability to write big contracts with ingredient suppliers – and you should be able to see that this is happening. Many of you don’t trust the “big guys,” but I’m here to tell you that you’ve never seen cleaner, more professionally run manufacturing facilities and fantastic in-house labs than those operated by “big food.”

    The FDA has a site where all the pet food recalls since 2008 are listed (it’s here: fda.gov/animalVeterinary/safetyhealth/recallswithdrawals/default.htm). We’ve indicated which products on our list have had a recall since 2008, what it was for, and when it happened. Keep in mind that we are not terribly concerned about recalls for Salmonella in dry dog food. (To understand why, see “Do You Recall” in the April 2013 of WDJ, as well as “Why Are There So Many Recalls?” in the October 2013 issue.)

    We also included information about the foods’ price, but this is fairly unscientific, given that retailers vary wildly in their markup. We gathered prices from a variety of retailers – brick and mortar and online. We also checked prices on each variety, in large bags and small bags; the price per pound is much less in large bags than small bags, but not everybody buys (or should buy) large bags. We averaged these prices per pound and came up with these categories:

    $ Food is less than $2.50/lb.
    $$ Food is $2.50 to $3.50/lb.
    $$$ Food is more than $3.50/lb.

    Because of the number of variables, the price range may not be accurate for all foods in all places, but rather a rough guide to help some of you identify which foods may or may not be in your budget. Just remember: To some extent, price does equal quality. While it’s highly possible to pay a lot for a mediocre food, you cannot buy a great food for less than the cost of the superior ingredients that are needed to make it.

    Finally, look for your favorite foods alphabetically under their maker’s name. So don’t freak out when you don’t see Orijen under the O’s; it’s listed under the name of the company that owns it: Champion Pet Foods.

    How to include your dog in your will

    By Josh Weiss-Roessler

    Our dogs are more than just pets — they’re family members.
    When you bring a four-legged companion into your home, you become responsible for their well-being, making sure they’re exercised, fed, and able to do their business, while remaining healthy and happy. In return, they teach you new things, provide unconditional love and devotion, and often help you to branch out in ways you never expected. Many people feel that they become a parent to their dogs just as much as they would to any human child.
    But what happens if your dog is still around after you pass on? How can you make sure that he or she will be taken care of? Do you need to set up a trust to take care of your dog? They’re available in 46 states and Washington, D.C., and some people have left millions to ensure proper care of their pets. (The states that have no such laws are Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota and Mississippi.)
    But you don’t need to get that fancy. The answer is fairly simple, really: include your dog in your will.
    You need to put a plan in place
    Unfortunately, there’s simple — and then there’s simple. If you want your kids taken care of, you leave them money or other assets. But you can’t leave property to a dog because the law considers dogs to be property themselves. You have to do it in a roundabout way, which means coming up with a plan.
    Pick a caregiver
    Even if you could leave your dog a million dollars, it wouldn’t do much good because dogs aren’t exactly savvy financial planners. If pets don’t have someone to take care of them, often they end up euthanized, so your first order of business is to identify someone you trust to take care of your dog and make sure they’re willing and able to do it.
    Name this person in your will as your dog’s caregiver and make sure to select a backup person, too, just in case things change.
    Provide money
    Once you have a caregiver in place, you state in your will that you want them to receive a certain amount of money to be used to take care of your dog. If the dog dies before you do or that person backs out, they don’t get the money.
    And that’s it, really. Do those two things, and you’ve done all you really need to do as far as the law is concerned.
    Want to take it a step further without setting up a costly trust? Sit down and write up a “study guide” of sorts about your dog. Does he really love belly rubs more than anything? Can she only eat or drink certain things? Do they have medical conditions? What’s the vet’s contact information? Are there people they really get along with? Is it a bad idea to bring kids around? What is her favorite toy? His favorite place to run?
    Give this “guide” to your dog’s future caregiver to help them to get to know your pup, and you’ll be helping to ease the transition if it becomes necessary.

    Read more: http://www.cesarsway.com/the-scoop/features/How-to-include-your-dog-in-your-will?utm_content=NL-%20Adding%20dog%20to%20your%20will&utm_campaign=CW.com%20Article&utm_source=Facebook&utm_term=dog%20care%2Ccw%20article%2CA%20Knowledge%20Trust%2C%22cw.com%20%22&utm_medium=1424624825#ixzz3SV94ePXc

    Common eye problems in dogs

    Canine eye care


    by Josh Weiss-Roessler

    Dogs aren’t quite as dependent on their eyes as we are (nose, eyes, ears, remember?), but their vision is still a major way that dogs interact with the world. As the Pack Leader, you have to pay special attention to your dog’s eyes during her care routine.

    Four common dog eye problems

    Eye infections
    How do dogs get eye infections? Sometimes they just get something in their eye that has bacteria. Other times they may come into contact with another dog that’s infected.
    Signs of a canine eye infection include excessive crying and whining, light sensitivity, redness, and green or yellow discharge that crusts over their eyes. Breeds prone to eye infections include cocker spaniels, Maltese, Pekingese, poodles, pugs, and Shih-Tzus.
    This largely genetic condition will make the lens of your dog’s eye appear increasingly white or cloudy, coinciding with a progressive deterioration in his vision and eventually blindness.
    All dog breeds can develop cataracts, and it’s also possible to get them from disease, immune system problems, or injury. But some breeds are more susceptible than others. These include: American cocker spaniel, bichon frise, Boston terrier, Havanese, miniature schnauzer, miniature and standard poodle, silky terriers, and smooth fox terriers.
    In-growing eyelids
    Also known as entropion, with this condition, your dog’s eyelids will actually grow or roll inwards, rubbing up against the cornea and causing damage and discomfort.
    Though it can occur in any dog, entropion is a leading health concern in breeds such as the Akita, American Staffordshire terrier, bloodhound, Chinese Shar-Pei, chow chow, English bulldog, English mastiff, Great Dane, Neapolitan mastiff, Rottweiler, spaniel, vizsla, and Weimaraner.
    Third eyelid prolapse
    This may sound strange, but every dog has a third eyelid. The gland of this eyelid protects the cornea by secreting tears. Sometimes, though, this gland can become swollen and exposed.
    When that happens, you may see yellow mucus indicating the irritation. Brachycephalic or “flat-faced” breeds like the Pekingese, pug, and Shih-Tzu commonly have this problem.

    How to take care of your dog’s eyes
    While each of the problems above are likely to require veterinary consultation and specific treatments to solve the issue, there are still a number of general things you can do to keep your dog’s eyes healthy and to catch things early on.

    Gaze into her eyes
    Check your dog’s eyes regularly by taking her to a bright area and looking for crust, discharge, or tearing, and making sure that there’s white around the eyeball.
    You should also watch out for cloudiness, unequal pupil sizes, a visible third eyelid, a change in eye color, closed eyes, or rubbing of the eyes. These are signs your dog needs to see the vet.

    Check the lining
    While you’re there, look at the inner lining of his eyelid by rolling the lid down. You want it to be pink, not white or red.
    Clean them out
    Keep her eyes free of gunk and crustiness by using a damp cotton ball and wiping outward from the corner of her eye, being careful not to scratch the cornea. Use dog eye wash if you see redness, which is common during dry winters.
    Keep your dog clipped
    Long hair can scratch and poke your dog’s eyes, so trim those bangs using round-tip scissors.
    Close the windows
    It might bring a smile to your face — and your dog’s — when they stick their head out the window while riding in the car, but wind and debris can actually cause serious eye problems.

    Read more: http://www.cesarsway.com/dog-care/dog-eyes-and-ears/All-about-canine-eye-care#ixzz3Rq05de6d

    Dog ownership: a learning experience


    By: Sarah Lukemire

    We’ve all been there, the day you bring home your new dog or puppy and they pee all over your floor, chew up something they weren’t supposed to and your find yourself suddenly questioning, “What did I get myself into!?”.

    I’ve done it, twice. But I can say that our two dogs are more than worth all the headaches they’ve caused (and still occasionally do).

    Dog ownership is a learning process and for me, it was a little bit of a journey finding and discovering what I believed in as far as training methods, veterinary care and even the right food and toys for our dogs. I”ll admit, before I knew better I’ve used a prong collar, let my dog run off leash in an open field or while we were on a hike and I even once believed that I had to be the “dominant” one for my dog to listen to me.

    Training & Obedience

    We wanted to be responsible owners and so naturally, the first thing we did was enroll our new pup in beginning obedience class at the popular training facility that was conveniently located within a few miles of our house. They were also big promoters of every dog wearing a prong (or pinch) collar.

    A short while later, after reading many articles online, digesting what I read and learning more and more what I stood behind, we quickly switched trainers. This is okay, it’s better to switch versus feeling a certain way or disagreeing with the methods used, but not sticking up for what you believe in. We all make mistakes but can hopefully learn from them.

    Switching trainers was one of the best moves we made since adopting our dogs. Our new trainer taught us how to use clicker training and the benefits of positive, reward based training. The progress we made was remarkable.

    Lola, our first dog, acted as if she was in a weight pull competition every time we hooked the leash on. This can be very frustrating as those with leash-pullers can strongly relate. Two months of dedicated training on my end and help from our trainer quickly taught me that yes, even I can have a dog that can walk at my side on a leash (without the use of a prong or pinch collar)!

    Of course, using a trainer or going to a facility isn’t always an option for everyone. And let’s face it, much of the training needs to take place at home so that’s a good place to start. There are a ton of resources at your fingertips whether it is a book, online blogs and websites and on TV. I personally use several online training resources such as Victoria Stilwell, Your Pit Bull and You, Paws Abilities, Patricia McConnell, Sophia Yin, and many others.

    Veterinary Care

    We were very lucky and by word of mouth, found a vet that we love on the first try.

    It is important to choose a vet who you and your dog feel comfortable with, who respects your input and beliefs on your pet’s health, and who has patience with your dog.

    Even though we love our vet, we have visited different veterinary offices with our foster dogs that I could tell from the first visit, weren’t ones that I would personally use. Go with your instinct and if you get a bad feeling or are uncomfortable with any of their practices, it may be time to move on.

    Food, Toys, & more Toys

    We have two dogs that will literally play with and eat anything you put in front of them.

    Obviously this is not always the case. Some dogs can be very picky eaters and it may take some experimenting with different foods to determine what your pup likes best. Food for your dog can get very expensive, very fast – so determine what works for your budget, your schedule and go from there. Again, everyone will have their opinion on this, so try to take it with a grain of salt and feed what works best for you and your pup. I commonly use dogfoodadvisor.com as part of my research when checking out new foods or diets.

    Recently, Lola developed a reaction to what we determined was her food (after a year of being on that food). So we did our research, spoke with several friends and switched to a grain free minimal-ingredient diet with a higher protein and fat content due to her activity level. Again, I wish we would’ve switched much sooner. Poo tells a lot – we love nice small and solid stools around here, haha.

    (Growing up we used to feed our dogs (what I now know is) a low end, bad quality dog food which I thought was fairly close to filet mignon when I was younger…always do your research and continue to learn.)

    We can’t forget about toys. Even toys have given us a scare and proven to teach us a thing or two. If your dog is a destroyer (*ahem* Lola, Rio), stuffed toys aren’t the best. Or maybe they are just given on special occasions if they really love them (and then immediately taken away so that a squeaker, stuffing, or a nose isn’t swallowed). After all, I’m sure none of us are really begging for any trips to the E-vet.

    Our favorite toys for around the house: Kongs, quality antlers, tugs and tennis balls. Knowing that from the beginning I’m sure we could’ve saved a buck or two. Of course, always supervise play time and never leaving a toy/bone with your dog when they are alone is wise precaution. For example, we leave our dogs with a Kong in their crate when alone, but would never do this with say, an antler. This was another learning experience.

    What have you learned from the first time you brought home your new dog to now!? Have you made any drastic changes in food, training and toys?

    Have you made mistakes in your time as a dog owner? I think we all have, after all this is life which is continually a learning process.

    5 common mistakes adopters make when bringing home a new dog

    Applies to both new adopters as well as new fosters!


    Everyone knows that adopting a dog from a shelter saves animals’ lives and makes us all feel good. At any time of year, but especially around the holidays, social media feeds are packed with heartwarming stories of shelters adopting out large numbers of dogs to their forever homes. It’s feel-good central and we eat it up.
    What people don’t talk about as much, however, is what the first few weeks at home with a new dog are like, particularly if it’s difficult. And even less talked about is the fact that many dogs are returned to shelters within just a few weeks. Some statistics say as many as 20%. Why is this? How can things go from happy to – pardon our French – crappy so quickly?

    We, the trainers at The Local Bark, have a few thoughts about this. We did, after all, recently select four dogs from Sacramento County Animal Shelter to foster, train and place in forever homes. And even though we’re professional trainers and this should all be easy peasy lemon squeezy, we were reminded at how easy it would be to fall prey to the common mistakes well-meaning adopters make when bringing home a new dog. Keep reading, because these mistakes are NOT what you think.

    We selected Olaf, Elsa, Crystal and Snow using the same criteria any potential adopter might use: 1) they appeared to like people and other dogs (no obvious signs of aggression), 2) Olaf is a pure-bred German shepherd (highly desirable + handsome), 3) Elsa is a snuggly pit bull (we love pit bulls and there are so many homeless ones) and 4) Crystal and Snow are adorable small dogs (great companions and not too barky). Done, done, and done.
    Here’s where we all walk out of the shelter and into the sunset, our hearts full, ready to give these dogs the lives they deserve. It’s what we’ve been waiting for! And it is what we do next that will determine if the integration of these dogs into a family-type setting goes smoothly, or if it goes, well, to the dogs.

    First, let’s take a look at Elsa, the kissable 8-month-old pit bull who went home with trainer Jaclynn.
    According to Jaclynn, as soon as they walked in the door, Elsa happily trotted over to the couch, hopped on, and looked about as at-home as you could imagine. Jaclynn said if Elsa had thumbs she probably would have grabbed the remote and turned on the TV. It would have been easy for Jaclynn to just leave Elsa there, what with that precious face and all.
    After all, a dog fresh out of the shelter needs the comforts of a couch to feel welcome, right? Wrong. Hello Common Mistake #1.
    The last thing Elsa needs is a plethora of choices in the furniture department. Elsa needs direction. What starts out as self-inviting to the couch can lead to other pushy and undesirable behaviors like jumping on people, becoming “guardy” of valuable spaces like couches or beds, and more. Remember we don’t know anything about Elsa’s true behavior and tendencies. And we won’t for quite a few weeks.
    Remedy? Jaclynn (who hadn’t yet taken the leash off Elsa…more on that in a minute) simply and quietly led Elsa off the couch. And when Elsa tried to jump up again – certainly Jaclynn was mistaken – Jaclynn repeated the calm removal, this time leading Elsa to her bed. When Elsa stepped onto her bed, Jaclynn said “good girl!” and gave her a treat and lots of kisses. And remember, Elsa – not being human – doesn’t get hurt feelings that she’s being relegated to a bed made especially for her on the floor. She was just happy to get kisses.
    The reason Jaclynn was able to calmly show Elsa what she wanted from her was because Elsa was wearing a leash. That brings us to Common Mistake #2: a dog coming from the cooped-up confines of the shelter needs freedom and free reign to “get to know” her new home, right?
    Elsa needs boundaries. Too much freedom can be overwhelming to new dogs. And you know what dogs tend to do when they’re overwhelmed in a new environment? Pee. Even the housebroken ones. They pee to mark new territory, they pee because they’re scared, they pee because they don’t know what else they’re supposed to do. It’s our duty to make sure we’ve set up an environment where a new dog can’t make a mistake, like chew the computer cord or the arm of the couch, for example. Inconsistent and unclear boundaries encourage all kinds of unwanted behaviors and other problems that keep us trainers employed. Not to mention the overwhelming-ness of a brand new environment and all those new sights, sounds and smells can cause a lot of dogs to go into a very reserved mode, often leading new adopters to believe they’ve hit the jackpot and brought home the most mellow dog in the shelter. (More about this phenomenon in “Snow” below.)
    So, the ideal set-up is a centrally located room, like the kitchen or family room, blocked off with a gate, with a nice dog bed and a crate. Crates are wonderful tools. They appeal to a dog’s nesting instinct. Most dogs quickly learn that a crate with a nice comfy bed inside is a safe place to rest. (If you think your dog has a strong aversion to a crate because she appears extremely stressed at the sight of it, call a dog behavior professional. Don’t abandon the crate as an option too quickly).
    When you have to leave the dog alone for short-ish periods of time, which you will, the crate is the safest place. Nobody gets into trouble. When you have to leave for long periods of time, like to go to work, you’ll need to make sure the dog has a reasonably sized space, like a room that doesn’t contain a bunch of tempting-but-forbidden items that might get chewed on. When you’re home and supervising your dog, make sure she drags a leash so you can lead her outside for potty and remind her to stay off the couch.
    Plan on employing these boundaries for several weeks at least. Jaclynn said it was a month before she let Elsa have any free access to the house, and even then Jaclynn would call her when she went out of sight.

    Snow, a perky little small-dog mix, went home with The Local Bark’s agility trainer Amanda. Amanda has a zillion dogs, mostly border collies, and because of this has to enforce rules of structure and boundaries, and she already has the ideal set-up in her home.
    Where it would have been easy for Amanda to make a Common Mistake with Snow is in the area of exercise. Snow was the perfect example of the “jackpot” pup – mellow and accommodating – when she first got home to Amanda’s.
    As mentioned earlier, some dogs go through a “honeymoon” period where they are not their usual energetic selves. They are processing all kinds of new information, which is exhausting. This leads many new adopters to believe their new dog just doesn’t require much exercise, which brings us to Common Mistake #3: not starting and keeping up some kind of daily exercise routine with your new dog.
    One thing that makes combating Common Mistake #2 (enforcing boundaries) a little easier is a regular exercise routine. Exercise and mental stimulation encourage relaxation, and a relaxed dog is a dog that’s easier to manage indoors. Unless you brought home a high-energy working dog (have treadmill?), “exercise” doesn’t require you take up running. One of the most pleasurable things you can do with your new dog is to allow her to safely explore at the end of a long-line (a 20+-foot cotton training lead found at your local pet store). Bring treats and reward your dog when she looks at you. Praise her heartily when she walks toward you. Start bonding by working together. Combine this activity with a 30-minute leash walk and you’ll most likely be meeting your new dog’s exercise needs. At least you’ll be getting a sense of what those needs might be. And keep it up, even when the novelty of walking your new dog wears off. Which it will. Especially when it’s cold outside.
    Amanda can’t resist training a “blank slate” and she had Snow doing all kinds of “work” within a few days. She said Snow was actually really smart and loved to learn – not just obedience commands but fun tricks as well. Many people don’t think of small dogs as requiring mental stimulation, like they get with basic training, but they definitely do. Otherwise they can turn into little monsters. Which brings us to Crystal and Common Mistake #4.

    Trainer Chris had the pleasure of bringing home adorable Chihuahua, Crystal. According to Chris, Crystal clearly saw herself as queen of everything. And boss of everyone. Someone had made a few Common Mistakes with Crystal, particularly Common Mistake #4: Allowing free access to possessions, aka “spoiling” with lots of high-value toys and treats with no rules about access to them.
    Big mistake.
    This is one of the most serious problems we trainers deal with in our small-dog clients: resource or possession guarding. Many new adopters feel like the quickest way to their new dog’s heart is through “stuff”. This includes access to high-value places, like the couch, or your lap, with no rules.
    Chris has other dogs, and right away Crystal went into queen mode, claiming all kinds of possessions around the house. Chris said she hadn’t been home 30 minutes and was in the process of figuring out spaces for confinement (boundaries) and finding an appropriate collar and leash for 5-pound Crystal to drag around before Queen Crystal settled herself on the end of the couch and proceeded to “defend” her space as the other dogs approached to say hello. Where this really gets tricky is if a dog will defend spaces and possessions not just from other dogs, but from people.
    Remedy: Chris set Crystal up in a nice big pen (boundaries) and immediately started “trading” with her. She would approach Crystal with a treat, say “take it” then give her the treat, establishing herself as the human Pez Dispenser of goodness. This got Crystal’s attention. Then, after repeating that a few times, Chris gave Crystal a toy, and then “traded” her the toy for the treat. This reinforced the concept that Chris represented giving things, not just taking them away. This is a great exercise but it must be practiced in tandem with boundaries and structure. Crystal cannot have free access to the couch, nor be given a high-value treat like a bone, until it has been established that she will give it up without defending it. And this takes time. Usually weeks. She can’t sit like a queen on a lap and be allowed to tell the other dogs to “go away”. Our laps and the personal space around our bodies must also be treated as a high-value resource to a dog. That takes us to everybody’s favorite foster dog, Olaf and Common Mistake #5.

    Olaf was the young German shepherd that presented himself at the shelter as super shy and subdued. He went home with the boss. That’s Kristin, owner of The Local Bark. Three days in, when asked how he was doing, Kristin said “he’s lucky he’s cute, and he’s lucky I love shepherds, because he’s driving me crazy.” Uh oh.
    Common mistake #5: “Spoiling” aka allowing invasion of personal space and excessive affection. A dog from the shelter likely had a horrible, abusive life and needs love and affection to flourish, correct?
    Olaf was driving Kristin crazy because he attached himself to her hip. She couldn’t move without him tripping her. He didn’t “know” how to NOT try and become one with whoever was closest to him. And it was not coming from a happy place. It was coming from a place of insecurity and fear. He crowded her other dogs as well, although dogs have a great knack at quickly teaching each other what line not to cross when it comes to their personal space. They’re way better at it than we are because we give mixed signals. We allow them to “snuggle” on us, invade our personal space, follow us into the bathroom, all uninvited. Then we get irritated when we trip over them in the kitchen. Well-meaning new adopters mistakenly think they’re offering security to their new dog when they’re really nurturing unbalanced and anxious behavior. First step on the road to separation anxiety. Or a launch on the path to guarding the human as a valuable resource.
    One of the most endearing things about Olaf is that he loves being hugged by Kristin’s young children. But Kristin couldn’t allow ANY of this for the first few weeks because she needed Olaf to become confident standing on his own, and he needed to become aware of his size and the personal space requirements of the children, adults and other dogs around him.
    Olaf needed to be a normal dog with structure and boundaries. Kristin set up a comfy space for Olaf in her garage where her other dogs spend time when not being supervised in the house. Everyone gets a crate, a comfy bed, stuff to do, and outdoor access to potty. Ideal dog set-up. When in the house, Kristin used a tie-down to safely tether Olaf to an area where he could lay on a dog bed, chew on a bone, and just hang out and watch. By ignoring him, except to occasionally praise him for lying quietly, Olaf had the opportunity to simply observe. Kristin could bring in her other dogs, send them to their beds, and Olaf got to see how a people-centered and dog-friendly household runs.
    Let’s review. Most of the common mistakes well-meaning adopters make when bringing home their new dogs have to do with lack of boundaries and structure. We cannot stress the importance of starting your relationship with your new dog with these things in mind. It takes a few months to start getting to know a new dog. Put in the management up front to avoid the pitfalls that lead to so many dogs being returned to the shelter.

    Why do dogs have dewclaws?


    by Stanley Coren, Ph.D

    Dogs do not create museums or libraries to preserve the history of the evolution of their species. Dogs simply store their wisdom in their genes. But sometimes we can read bits of this history by looking at a dog’s behavior or his physiology. Take the case of dewclaws. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term you can see from the picture here that dewclaws are short claws or nails on the side of the foot which don’t touch the ground. Most dogs have dewclaws only on their front paws, and it is rare to find them on their back paws. However in several breeds, such as the Great Pyrenees and Briards, rear dewclaws are common. The Great Pyrenees even has a double dewclaw, an inherited trait called polydactyly, so that there are two bony digits instead of one.

    For most dogs the dewclaws are nonfunctional, however they really are an interesting bit of evidence of the distant evolutionary past of the species. Some 40 million years ago, there was a tree climbing cat-like animal known as miacis which was an early ancestor of our modern dogs. Obviously if you climb trees having five toes is an advantage. However, miacis eventually evolved into the ground dwelling species cynodictus. From this point on, successive generations of the animals that would become our dogs began to become specialized as social hunters. As hunters of fast moving prey, speed became an important factor. Today’s dogs are a cursorial species which means that evolution has adapted them to be swift runners and they could be the fastest land animals on the planet. To obtain this added speed required a change in canine physiology.

    Animals, like humans and bears, are plantigrade species which means that they place the full length of their foot on the ground during each stride and then move with a rolling action that goes from heel to toe. While this gives good balance and stability, this is a slow process. What evolution did to dogs was to rock their legs forward so that their heel would no longer touch the ground. In so doing they became a digitigrade species, meaning that they walk on their digits. This, along with longer and stronger forelegs gives them additional speed. Human beings depend upon their ability to manipulate things so the structure that became the dewclaw in dogs became our thumb. The dog has four digits that make contact with the ground and the dewclaw is simply a vestigial structure that has been left over by evolution. Because of these physical changes the sole of the dog’s foot never touches the ground and the dewclaw is too short to be of any functional value. Evolution has an additional trick to further increase the speed of an animal. It involves reconstructing species so that they walk on their tiptoes, which have often developed into hooves. This is what we have in deer and horses. Dogs still do require some limited ability to manipulate objects in their world with their paws so hooves would not be an advantage to them (nor to those of us who keep our dogs in our homes and would like to have our wood floors stay intact).

    Dewclaws, both front and rear, are often a cause a bit of worry in dog owners who are afraid the nail will catch on something during a run through a forest or over rough terrain. If this happens it can be torn off and cause serious injury. However, some dewclaws are held in tightly against the leg, and with regular nail trimming are unlikely to catch on anything. Others can be loose and floppy, presenting a clear hazard, especially for dogs who like to romp outdoors where roots, trees and other hazards are common. For that reason some breeders will have them removed before the puppy is adopted out, although the majority of dogs are still left with their dewclaws intact.

    There is an interesting bit of folklore that keeps some people from removing the dewclaws of their dogs. In the southern states in America there is a common belief that dogs that are born with dewclaws on their hind feet (which is somewhat rare) have a natural immunity to the venomous effects of snake bites as long as the dewclaws remain intact. Once, when I was in South Carolina, an old man brought out a favorite hound of his and showed me the dewclaws on her back legs. He explained to me, “She’s been snakebit more’en one time, but she’s still here ‘cause them dewclaws sucked up the poison.”

    Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: The Wisdom of Dogs; Do Dogs Dream? Born to Bark; The Modern Dog; Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History; How Dogs Think; How To Speak Dog; Why We Love the Dogs We Do; What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs; Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies; Sleep Thieves; The Left-hander Syndrome

    Why adopting/purchasing two litter mates might not be a good thing


    by Jeff Stalling, CPDT-KA

    The email described a familiar scenario: “We were planning to adopt one puppy, but the breeder said that raising two sisters would be easier. After we brought the girls home at nine weeks, their behavior became increasingly out of control. My husband and I could not get their attention for more than a second or two—it was as if we weren’t even in the same room. And then they started displaying alarming fearfulness of people and other dogs.” I made an appointment for a home visit so I could meet the family and the puppies.

    Many dog behaviorists, trainers, breeders and shelters discourage adopting siblings. Anecdotal evidence suggests that behavioral issues may arise during key development periods because the two puppies’ deep bond impedes their individual ability to absorb and grasp the nuances of human and canine communication. Since fear is the canine’s default reaction to odd or unfamiliar stimuli, this muddled understanding of the world around them can lead to impaired coping mechanisms later on.

    Of course, many factors influence behavior, and not all siblings raised together will exhibit this problem, which is called “littermate syndrome”; it’s a risk, not a foregone conclusion.

    Early Indicators
    Signs include fearfulness of unfamiliar people, dogs and other novel stimuli (neophobia); intense anxiety when separated, even briefly; and difficulty learning basic obedience skills. In some cases, the two dogs will fight incessantly. Over lunch, veterinarian and dog behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar [4] and I discussed raising sibling dogs. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen for the littermates because they don’t get socialized to other dogs or people, let alone to their owners,” he said. Many owners assume that the dogs’ interactions with one another are adequate, “but when the puppies are five or six months old and meet an unfamiliar dog in a novel setting, they absolutely freak out.”

    Dunbar points out that raising littermates necessitates training two puppies, which is particularly challenging when they’re essentially wearing blinders to all but each other. “It’s more than twice the work; it’s exponential. The two combine to produce levels of energy that we can barely measure. Tension develops in training and compliance as they squeeze the owner out of the relationship. They’re always living with an enormous distraction: each other.”

    The Tie That Binds
    Cohabitating siblings may become so emotionally dependent on each other that even short separations provoke extreme distress. Behavior specialist and author Nicole Wilde [5] recalls a case in which two nine-year-old sibling Huskies attended her group class. “They were so bonded to each other that I literally could not take one and walk a few feet away to practice loose-leash skills because the other would scream.”

    Wilde believes the problems are rooted in hyper-attachment, which leads to hindered social development and communication issues. “People assume that having two same-age pups who play together and interact constantly covers their dog-dog socialization needs, but they in fact don’t learn how other [dogs] play and have no idea about social skills with other puppies, adolescents or adult dogs. Perhaps one puppy is a bit of a bully, which his littermate puts up with, but his rude behavior might not be tolerated by a new dog in a new setting.”

    During my appointment with the family, we determined that the best course was to rehome one of the 12-week-old siblings. Dunbar agrees that it’s often best to separate littermates, especially if symptoms appear early, so that each has a chance to develop normally as an individual. This is obviously a burdensome decision for the overwhelmed owner to make, a sort of canine Sophie’s Choice, so he recommends that potential new owners meet both puppies and determine which to take home.

    Together Forever
    Those committed to raising a pair should ensure that the puppies spend significant portions of every day apart so each learns how to be alone—a key lesson in any well-thought-out puppy program. This means feeding, walking and training separately, with individual crates in different parts of the home. Even trips to puppy socials and the vet should be separate so they learn to incorporate these episodes into their respective psyches without being overly dependent on their littermate. This separate-but-equal arrangement is timeconsuming, exhausting and seems to defeat the original intent of acquiring siblings. Wilde notes that planned separations must begin immediately. “I’ve been called into homes where four-month-old siblings have been sleeping in the same crate for eight weeks and not purposefully separated by the owners, who had the best intentions but were unaware of littermate issues. Even getting the puppies to sleep in separate crates right next to each other is traumatic for them.”

    Dunbar, too, is adamant that one of the key lessons a puppy must master is how to be content with being alone, which is all but impossible with two siblings. “Once we’ve done that, yes, he can live with other dogs and have free run of the house. But if you don’t teach puppies early on how to be alone, and especially with siblings who have always been together, it will be catastrophic when one dies.” Dunbar encourages multiple dog households— “I always like having three dogs”—but the timing, temperament and age that each enters the home is paramount.

    Most people have never heard of littermate syndrome, finding out about it while researching their dogs’ problematic behaviors. Increasingly, however, trainers and behavior professionals recognize that the cons of adopting siblings far outweigh the pros. “The only advantage I can think of is a short-term gain of the puppies being less lonely in the first month of life,” says Dunbar. “Everything else is a loss.”

    Exceptions and Hope
    While there are indeed struggles in raising siblings—including ongoing aggression and fighting often seen between same-gendered littermates— there are also well-adjusted cohabitating pairs. A common thread seems to be that littermates are more likely to thrive when introduced into a household with an older dog, who perhaps acts as an arbiter and stabilizing influence.

    Myriad factors affect dog behavior, including genetics, early life experiences and owner engagement. As University of California, Davis, veterinary behaviorist [6] Dr. Melissa Bain points out, “Two fearful littermates very well may be genetically predisposed to fear.” Bain is less inclined to apply the term syndrome to the set of symptoms. “It makes you think all littermates have problems, which is not the case.” She also emphasizes that the level of owner involvement is key, saying, “The symptoms escalate when the owners treat them as one dog with eight legs.” When conflict ensues between the pair, Bain believes it’s due to the dogs being similar in size, age and gender. “This uniformity makes it difficult for the siblings to delineate a hierarchy,” she said.

    After one of the siblings had been rehomed, I received an email from the owner describing how the remaining puppy began to thrive under a remedial socialization program. “Dora has blossomed in the last three months into a delightful household companion, and she continues to improve. She now approaches people out of curiosity. We know she would still be fearful had we not separated the two before it got any worse. Dora has become more confident with all kinds of dogs, and successfully completed a group obedience class.”

    Increased Awareness
    Recognition of the risks of dual adoption appears to be spreading, with many breeders and shelters declining to place siblings together. Shelley Smith, adoption center manager at Pets Unlimited [7] in San Francisco, said her shelter stopped placing siblings together after a particularly disturbing case. “A Dachshund mix named Thelma was returned to the shelter because her sibling repeatedly attacked her; she had multiple injuries by the time the heartbroken family returned her to us. Thankfully, we were able to rehome Thelma, but it’s almost certain the fighting and anxiety could have been avoided had the two littermates not been placed together. We now separate siblings and inform adopters about the rationale for our policy.”

    While siblings blessed with extraordinary genes and socialization-forward owners may avoid littermate syndrome, the consensus among canine professionals is that it’s not worth the risk. Most would encourage new owners to adopt a single puppy who suits their lifestyle and to focus on the training and socialization that strengthens the interspecies bond unique to humans and dogs. Once your puppy is a dog, by all means, get a second, since the two will be at completely different stages, and the older one may very well emerge as a great life teacher to the younger.

    This article first appeared in The Bark,Issue 80: Winter 2014
    Jeff Stallings, CPDT-KA and owner of Better Nature Dog Training, works and blogs in the San Francisco Bay Area.


    The Right Tool at the Right Time

    Not every canine behavior needs to be changed through training; sometimes, simple managment is more effective.

    Few dogs behave in ways that please us all day every day – especially puppies, adolescent dogs, or newly adopted adult dogs who have little experience living closely with humans. “Training” is what we usually call our formal efforts to teach dogs how to behave in ways that please us more – and most frequently, dog owners use that term to describe what is needed to prevent their dogs from causing chaos in or destruction to their homes, or upsetting or harming other members of the household (whether human, canine, feline, or anything else). But when discussing behaviors that we’d like to prevent our dogs from practicing, many trainers would likely say that what’s needed in many of those vexing situations is better canine management, not training!

    What’s the difference? “Management” generally means using simple tools – such as leashes, fences, doors, and gates – to prevent the dog from practicing behaviors we don’t want him to do (such as wandering away from home, chasing your cat through the house, chewing your sofa cushions, helping himself to food from the kitchen garbage or on the counter, or jumping on visitors).

    In contrast, “training” usually refers to situations where we are teaching the dog what to do.

    Both management and training are highly effective in modifying our dogs’ behavior so that they can share our lives and homes more peacefully and pleasingly – but it’s helpful to be aware of the difference between the approaches, and use each to its best advantage, in order to most effectively and efficiently (and humanely) get our dogs to behave the way we’d like them to.

    I’m a trainer, and believe me, I love training, and am fascinated by any pain- and fear-free method that can be used to teach dogs to perform behaviors that are helpful or just plain enjoyable to us. But there are many instances when training is not the most efficient or effective way to change a dog’s behavior!

    “Counter-surfing” is a perfect example. When a dog has learned to help himself to food that’s on the kitchen counter, some people will set up elaborate traps that are meant to scare the dog and teach him not to jump on the counters any more, or spend time teaching him “off” or “leave it.”

    However, dogs who are highly motivated by food may find the prospect of finding food so rewarding that they gladly run the risk of whatever traps their owners devise (or learn to identify the traps and detect any time the traps haven’t been “set”). And expecting a dog to perform a behavior in the many hours you are absent is unrealistic; why would you expect him to “leave it” for hours when you would never expect him to, say, hold a “down/stay” for the same period of time?

    In this case, managing the dog’s behavior – by preventing him from being able to do it at all, by, say, using a baby gate to keep him out of the kitchen altogether – is a far simpler solution than training.

    In contrast, there are also instances when we can use a tool to manage the dog’s unwanted behavior, but it would be even more helpful if he learned to do something that we like better. That’s when training is indicated.

    Complementary techniques
    Here’s an example: If you have a dog who is prone to chasing your cat in the house, you can manage his behavior by keeping him on a tether at all times, or using gates that your cat can jump over, go through, or run under to evade your dog’s pursuit. This is a good, first-line-of-defense strategy that will protect your cat, especially when you are not present. But teaching your dog to look at you or come to you when he sees the cat will be a better long-term solution, one that may eventually result in the animals’ peaceful co-existence.

    I have lived this example for the past 10 years, ever since my husband and I adopted a young Cardigan Welsh Corgi from a shelter. Lucy spent six months’ worth of evenings on a leash next to me on the sofa so I could prevent her from leaping after Barney, our black-and-white tuxedo cat, when he bounced into the living room. That was management.

    But while I managed Lucy’s cat-chasing behavior, I also worked to convince her that cats appearing in the living room makes treats appear for her to enjoy. That was training – and it pays off to this day, almost 10 years later. Just this evening, as I sat on the living-room sofa, fingers on my laptop keyboard and one eye on the television, I noticed Barney waltz into the room. Next to me, Lucy sparked alert.

    I watched and waited. A second later, her head swiveled toward me. Ah! Good girl! I usually reward her with a treat; I almost always have some in a pocket or on a nearby table. Sometimes her reward for a behavior that I like – such as looking at me – is a few moments of petting and praise, or a chance to chase a toy.

    The right time
    When does it make the most sense to manage your dog’s unwanted behavior and when should you work to train him to do something you like more? It’s almost always most effective to immediately manage the dog’s environment to prevent him from practicing (and being reinforced for) the unwanted behavior. In some cases, that’s all that’s needed – especially when a simple management tool replaces unrealistic training expectations. For example, if you really don’t want your dog to snooze on your sofa while you are at work all day, it would be far easier and more effective to simply block her access to the room with the sofa than it would be to devise, set up, and monitor some sort of remote surveillance and training system to teach her to stay off the sofa when you aren’t there.

    In other cases, it makes sense to manage the dog’s environment (again, to prevent your dog from practicing the unwanted behavior) for just as long as it takes you to teach the dog a new, more appropriate behavior. For example, you may want to use a head halter or front-clip harness to prevent your large dog from pulling you off your feet when you take him on pottying walks, while you also take a class or work with a trainer to teach him to walk politely with just a flat collar in slowly increasingly distracting environments. This will set him up for eventual success, while (we hope) preventing him from ever experiencing the thrill of pulling the leash out of your hand in order to bolt after a squirrel on the sidewalk across the street.

    Caveat: Failure factors
    I’m a big fan of management – good management tools and practices can often salvage a previously frustrating dog/owner relationship – but management does have a bad name in some training circles. “Management always fails,” some will pontificate, meaning that there may be a high price to pay if you rely solely on a gate or leash to control your dog’s behavior, and someone forgets to latch the gate or the leash breaks. I try to avoid saying “always” or “never” to my clients, though. I prefer to say, “Management has a high likelihood of failure, so if you plan to manage a behavior, be aware of the potential for failure and what the risks are if management fails, and make training and management decisions accordingly.” It’s not as snappy a sound bite, for sure, but it is far more accurate.

    When you do decide to employ management – whether as an alternative or a complement to training – it pays to be thoroughly aware of its potential for failure and the potential risks of any possible failures. What do I mean by this? Let me flesh out one of the examples above. Say you have adopted a large dog who hasn’t yet been trained to walk nicely on a leash, and who is reactive to other dogs. You are taking a group class with a good trainer, and working hard to improve his social and on-leash skills, but his behavior is much better if he gets a lot of exercise. So, even though it’s challenging to take him on walks, you use a front-clip harness (management tool) to help control him on walks, which you take very early in the morning (management technique, to try to avoid seeing many other dog walkers).

    There are many risks of this approach: The harness or leash could break; the dog could pull the leash out of your hand with a strong bolt; he could pull you over (if there is a size/strength disparity between the two of you); or someone else’s dog could get loose and come after your dog and you might be unable to pull or summon your dog away. If your dog got loose in one of these ways, he might run off and get hit by a car, or initiate a fight with another dog.

    Then there are the mitigating factors: you bought good equipment; you check it frequently to make sure it’s not chewed or frayed and that the leash snap is not cracked and its mechanism is working properly; and you keep your cell phone in your pocket and stay attentive to the appearance of any other dogs on the horizon, so that you are ready to execute a quick turn in the other direction. All of these things will minimize the risk of your temporary management strategies.

    Potential for Management Failure and Failure Risk
    When considering management, short- or long-term, as an option for dealing with a behavior, it’s important that you make a realistic assessment of the potential for and risk of management failure.

    Factors that contribute the likelihood that management will fail include but are not limited to:

    Poor-quality equipment (such as frayed or chewed leashes, doors that don’t latch properly, inadequately installed gates, fences in poor repair)

    Children in the home

    Lots of activity/traffic in and out of the house

    Multiple residents in the home (especially if some aren’t conscientious about management protocols)

    Lack of commitment to or inability to implement management protocols

    Creative, persistent, determined, and/or anxious dogs

    Intensity of behavior

    Predictability of behavior (either extreme)

    Consider, too, the potential risks (to your dog or other family members, or other people or animals) if your management techniques or tools fail. What is the most serious or tragic thing that is likely to happen if your management does fail?

    Management is not an appropriate option if the likely consequences are very serious, such as someone (a human or animal) being badly bitten or even killed, animal-control action being taken against you, someone filing a lawsuit against you (and possible loss of homeowner’s insurance), or significant damage to valuable possessions.

    Remember, every behavior and training scenario invites you to make choices about how much to manage and how much to train. Choose wisely – your dog’s well-being depends on it.

    Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, is WDJ’s Training Editor. She lives in Fairplay, Maryland, site of her Peaceable Paws training center, where she offers dog-training classes and courses for trainers.

    (From The Whole Dog Journal, Dec 2014)

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