I am an enthused reader of Whole Dog Journal; it is the only doggy magazine/journal that I subscribe to and read. I also operate an independent home business delivering high quality pet foods such as Natura, Canidae, and Natural Balance foods. Your continual attention to the quality of products has made me a fan of your work. However, recently you referred to the members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers as being non-force trainers, and you suggest that readers look to the APDT list for referrals to trainers. As a trainer of pet dogs for 26 years and one that is completely force-free, I can assure you that some members of APDT do use force-based training methods.
Every week, I get at least one call from a reader who has had an unfortunate experience with one of the health problems we have discussed in a recent issue. Often, these readers are anguished and upset with themselves for failing to find and take a treatment path similar to the ones our article discussed because they worried that conventional care led to the demise of their dog. I can sympathize with them. My Border Collie, Rupert, is 10, and has been afflicted with a number of small but troubling ailments throughout his life. He’s always been itchy, prone to painful ear infections, and a magnet for ticks and fleas.
I still have the very first Kong I bought 20 years ago for my Australian Kelpie, Keli. The indestructible black toy looks like it could have been purchased yesterday, despite 14 years of intensely hard use by typically obsessive herding dogs. Pre-dating the popular sport of Kong-stuffing by more than a decade, Keli was dedicated to chasing the four-inch, hollow, beehive-shaped rubber object as it bounced and boomeranged erratically across the asphalt at the shelter where we worked. Dang, it was almost as much fun as herding sheep!
Some dogs have a rough start in life. Consider BP, the 50-pound black-and-tan Shepherd-mix owned by Lucia Colbert of Cordova, Tennessee. BP was dumped in a neighborhood and left to fend for herself until rescued by Colbert in 1988. Colbert took the thin and sickly dog to the vet: BP had a host of internal parasites, including heartworms; part of her tongue was missing; and she had a chest full of buckshot (discovered later on a chest x-ray). “I knew she’s hadn’t had a piece of cake for puppyhood,” says Colbert. Once adopted, BP thrived. She enjoyed a good life with Colbert, a professional tennis player and triathlete. BP jogged daily with Colbert and sat by the tennis court while she taught.
We put collars on our dogs for several reasons. Collars give us a convenient place to hang ID tags and licenses very important for a dog's health and safety should he ever get lost. They make a convenient handle when we need to restrain our dog for some reason for safety, training, or to comply with leash laws or social convention. Finally, in some cases, collars are used as training tools, to reinforce cues to a dog; this is a compulsion-based application, not generally used in positive training. In this article, we'e looking at dog collars primarily as a restraint tool, especially as a means to keep our dogs from slip-sliding away.
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.