December 2018

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of you that life with dogs is highly emotional. Our canine companions can make us laugh hard and cry hard, sometimes on the same day! But I, for one, wouldn’t trade my time with them, even the difficult ones, for anything else in the world. I’ve learned so much from working with them – and there is always more to learn. This month, I’m taking Training Editor Pat Miller’s article on “demand behaviors” to heart in order to deal with a budding problem with Woody’s newfound attention-seeking behavior. I feel just like any other dog-training student as I fail, again and again, to ignore his repeated efforts to engage me; he’s just so cute!

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There is no single style of recovery collar that fits all dogs and protects all wounds. Every dog is different in shape, flexibility, and emotional response to a recovery collar. The products reviewed here are sturdy, made of tough, flexible materials, reusable, and easily cleaned; all of them will store flat and some you can trim to size. Some will work better than others for certain dogs.

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In classical counter-conditioning, the goal is to try to transfer the positive feelings the dog has for high-value treats (or toy play) onto the trigger (in this case, the presence of other dogs), thus creating a new association in the dog’s mind. For example, when you know at what distance your dog can see other dogs, but still feel safe enough to not react, be prepared to feed a steady stream of treats the entire time the trigger (another dog) is within eyesight. As soon as the dog is out of sight, the treats stop.

Download the Full May 2017 Issue PDF

Puppies do go through fear periods – developmental phases when the world is just a little more overwhelming. If your pup seems suddenly scared of more things than he was previously, take a step back from socialization and provide him with comfort, fun things to do, and gentle experiences. Fear periods often pass in one to two weeks.

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Many other force-free trainers also embraced the new design as a huge improvement over head halters, which were clearly aversive to many dogs. In contrast, most dogs seem to accept the front-clip harness instantly, with only a very small population who seem to find the harness aversive. In my experience, most dogs who object to the harness are sensitive to touch and/or handling, and it’s the process of putting the harness on, rather than wearing the harness, that they object to.

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On February 3, 2017, the FDA announced that Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food had recalled five lots of its canned Hunk of Beef dog food, for a “potential contaminant,” pentobarbital. One dog has died as a result of eating the contaminated food. Evanger’s canned food appeared on WDJ’s “approved canned dog foods” in our October 2016 issue. Evanger’s makes its own canned foods, and is blaming its meat supplier for the problem. Evanger’s dry foods, which appear on our “approved dry dog foods” list in the February 2017 issue, are produced by a contract manufacturer and are not involved in the current recall.

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We’re not zealots when it comes to nutrition; while we think home-prepared diets are ideal, we understand that not all dog owners are ready, willing, or able to shop for and prepare a homemade diet for their dogs. We’ll help you learn about and find healthful foods for your dog, whether you feed commercial kibble, canned, dehydrated, or frozen diets, or make his food from scratch.

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Whole Dog Journal’s mission is to provide dog guardians with in-depth information on effective holistic healthcare methods and successful nonviolent training. The methods we discuss will endeavor to do no harm to dogs; we do not advocate perpetrating even minor transgressions in the name of “greater good.” We intend our articles to enable readers to immediately apply training and healthcare techniques to their own dogs with visible and enjoyable success. All topics should contribute to improving the dog’s health and vitality, and deepening the canine/human bond. Above all, we wish to contribute information that will enable consumers to make kind, healthy, and informed decisions about caring for their own dogs.

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A warning growl is a dog’s cry for help. It’s your dog’s way of telling you he can’t tolerate a situation – as if he’s saying, “I can’t handle this, please get me out of here!” Instead of making things worse, heed the warning. Help your dog out of the situation that’s causing him discomfort, and take behavior modification steps to help him become more comfortable with the stressor.

Download the Full November 2016 Issue PDF

Plants were the original pharmacy for humans and animals, and over thousands of years, cultures around the world developed remedies that remain in use today. Herbal teas, tinctures, capsules, poultices, rinses, and massage oils are widely sold. American consumers spent nearly $7 billion on herbal products in 2015, which is $480 million more than we spent on them in 2014, marking the 12th consecutive year of growth. The medicinal herbs industry is thriving.

Download the Full October 2016 Issue PDF

Fed in appropriate amounts, canned food is a very healthy choice for dogs. Its moisture content is far closer to that of so-called evolutionary diets for dogs, the sort of food dogs ate before they came to rely on us to feed them. Good-quality canned foods generally contain far more meat than dry foods; meat, the most natural canine ancestral diet ingredient, often accounts for as much as 95 percent of a good canned food! And meat is incorporated into canned foods in a much less processed form than the meat used in most dry foods. In top-quality canned dog foods, real, fresh meats from named species are the rule, not the exception. That’s awesome!

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Nobody like subjecting her dog to surgery – especially for a second time, as was the case with my dog! And there’s always the occasional piece of anecdotal evidence suggesting that dogs with cryptorchidism can live to a ripe old age without surgical intervention or complications. For me, however, the combination of my vet’s recommendation to re-neuter Saber by age four, the gnawing fear of cancer, and some unwanted, hormonally driven behavior (insatiable sniffing), solidified my decision to pursue the second surgery – which was successful. (And, I’m pleased to report the excess sniffing stopped almost immediately; I wouldn’t have believed it could happen so quickly, had I not witnessed the remarkable change.)

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Regular exercise helps reduce stress, another lifestyle factor in the development of cancer. Uncontrolled stress has been shown to exacerbate tumor growth in humans. Signs of stress in your dog vary from obvious (digestive upset or lack of appetite) to subtle (persistent licking with no other cause, yawning, scratching for no obvious reason, dropped tail, drooling, low/back ears). Feed a good-quality food in appropriate amounts to keep your dog fit and slender. Be sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, and address stress issues by incorporating the help of a trainer or your veterinarian to isolate and eliminate the source.

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Prior to the development of DNA testing, the only method available for identifying the breed of a dog whose heritage was unknown was visual assessment. A shelter worker, veterinarian, or animal control officer examines the dog and assigns a breed designation based upon physical appearance and conformation. Even with widespread availability of DNA tests, most shelters and rescue groups continue to rely upon visual identification to assign breed labels to the dogs in their care. Given the life or death import of these decisions for some dogs, it is odd that the question of the reliability of these evaluations has not been questioned.

Download the Full June 2016 Issue PDF

Without a doubt, gaze and eye contact are highly important to dogs. They use eye contact in various forms to communicate with us and with other animals. We know that many dogs naturally follow our gaze to distant objects (i.e., as a form of pointing) and that dogs will seek our eye contact when looking for a bit of help. And now we know that dogs, like humans and several other social species, can be aware of what a person may or may not be able to see and, on some level, are capable of taking that person’s perspective into consideration.