Let’s be clear about one thing right from the start. A muzzle won’t train your dog. It will not teach your dog to stop biting or chewing, nor will it teach him to love small children, tall men with beards, hats and umbrellas, or your veterinarian. A muzzle is a behavior management tool, properly used as a temporary measure to protect humans (or other dogs) when dogs have to be handled in situations that are too stressful for them to tolerate. A muzzle is also a flashing neon warning sign that it’s time to do some serious counter-conditioning and desensitization so the dog in question can be handled in normal situations without resorting to muzzling.
August, 1991, was a fateful month for Betty King, a volunteer for Woods Humane Society in San Luis Obispo, California. That was when King first met Daymie, a dark gray miniature Poodle. “When the gal at the shelter held him up, he started coughing. He just looked awful,” recalls King, who was taking photographs of adoptable dogs for the humane organization. “I knew he would be euthanized if he didn’t get well,” says King. So she decided to take the sickly Poodle to a local veterinary clinic for treatment, get him well, then find him a home. “Who wouldn’t want to adopt a beautiful little Poodle?” says King.
Dogs aren’t born full-fledged “man’s best friends.” As with all baby animals, there is a period of time in their lives when they must learn about the world in order to survive. This critical period is a window of opportunity for socialization – a time when puppies learn what is safe and good and what is not. Opinions differ as to how long the window is open, but it falls somewhere in the period between four and 20 weeks. After the window closes, anything not previously identified as safe will automatically fall into the unsafe category. Dogs must be socialized to the human world during this time, or they will forever be fearful of – or, at the very least, anxious about – new people, sights and sounds.
I am so glad you are presenting information about immune system problems. I myself suffer from extreme immune dysfunction and environmental illness, and it is only because I have an excellent holistic M.D. and take numerous vitamins and supplements and eat organic food that I am alive. I appreciate your publication, as I have six dogs. I switched my four older dogs to Wysong Senior, and have seen a increase in vitality in all four. My old Ridgeback had ear problems for years, with scaling and thickening of her ear flaps. They are now normal, silky, and no longer cause her to scratch.
The second attempt to find a home for Suki, a five-month-old Akita, had met with failure. The well-intended, very loving couple were in tears as they brought her back to the Akita Rescue Family in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania. The normal expectations they had of her falling into place as the puppy of their “pack” had been quickly dashed. Suki had relentlessly attacked Lika, their 13-year-old spayed Chow mix, so viscously that the formerly “alpha” female became fearful and intimidated. She spent the last days of Suki’s short stay in a hiding place under the stairwell.
Non-dog folks turn pale at the thought. But responsible dog owners, knowing how important it is to clean up after our dogs, think nothing of reaching down and picking up a fresh, fragrant pile of Fido's feces with our hands. Oh, not our bare hands, of course, but often with nothing more than a couple of millimeters of flimsy plastic between epidermis and excrement. No big deal. Until, that is, one of those handy plastic bags breaks. Intrepid as committed poop-pickers may be, even we will blanche at the thought of . . . well, you can imagine.
Watching the smooth, even gait of a happy dog as it trots or gallops across a field is pure delight. It is obvious that all of the muscles and joints are working in harmony. We don’t often stop to think about the importance of muscles as a dog stands quietly at our side, but the same muscles that act antagonistically to move joints as the dog runs must cooperate to stabilize those same joints and change the limb into a rigid support when standing. It’s really an amazing relationship.
In the last issue, we discussed the importance of effluerage for increasing circulation and preparing muscles for deeper work. Effluerage is often followed by one of several petrissage techniques. Petrissage is another French term that means “to mash or to knead.” Unlike effluerage, the hands do not slide over the tissues. Instead, the tissue is lifted from underlying structures or compressed against them. Also known as “digital circles” or “digital kneading,” this is a very common and useful petrissage technique.
I wanted to commend you for your response to the letter regarding your “bias” (December 1999). I’m glad you said that WDJ is biased toward positive training methods! (I don’t know what kind of training that woman does, but if she needs to force or inflict pain on her animals that is in no way, shape, or form positive and motivational.) I also feel that positive training is the only way to go.
Because we feel deeply that dog training should be pleasurable and effective, and because we have personally witnessed innumerable successful demonstrations of completely pain- and fear-free training, we have taken the position that training tools and methods that inflict pain are inferior (a strong word, we know) to those that do not.