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Excellent video guide to Dog Body Language – YouTube

Zoom Room Guide to Dog Body Language – YouTube.

Look for upcoming post on dog language and dog body postures.

Website on Home-Prepared Dog &Cat Diets

Great resource check it out !! here is the link

Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets.

Your Dog Doesn’t Listen when you don’t have treats?

Excellent, up beat video on how to get off the treat train.

http://youtu.be/r5tQ7crqrlU

Read my post for info on the Role of Rewards in training:

In the language of behavior training this is called “fading”.

Sudden stopping of a  training reward can backfire and even result in anger.

Here’s an example most can relate to. Imagine you have worked the usual 40 hour week. You like your job well enough, but it is getting routine. It’s 4:30 PM on Friday & your Boss announces that no-one will be paid for the last day (or week) of work. You’d  be mad. You’ve already worked for your pay and expect the promised rewards. This is how it works for dogs, especially, once they master a behavior and can do it well. They expect the reward to stay motivated. Suddenly, cutting off treats can reduce motivation by the dog for   past learned behaviors and even future interest in learning. Why…, because the trainer just broke an “implied promise which reduces trust”.  The promise “I do what you ask & I receive a food reward”.

Good trainers plan their training schedule from point of view of the dog. Knowing that dogs don’t do what we ask “because they love us”,  just like our Kids.  This is one of the universal “laws of learning” on the planet.  All creatures are “designed to use behavior” to get what we need and want from their environment. People are particularly good at this skill.  Even bacteria will move or grow in different directions based on what they find in the environment. Dogs need to benefit in some way to stay motivated.  We use food because it is a powerful motivator for dogs, especially under 8 months of age.  Like humans getting paid for a job, dogs will work for stuff other than food. Watch the video to see the first step to fading the food.  Other rewards for dogs include: play, tug on toy, going for a walk, getting access to a favorite thing or place, attention, ear scratches, and often over-used  phrase “Good Dog”. People love to be told “you have done a good job” so it works well for us. Not so much for dogs. Social rewards like being allowed to sniff other dogs butts is more inline with dogs value system.

Another way to replace the food treat as a reward is to immediately follow the food with something else, like an ear scratch,  these  are called secondary re-inforcers.  Creating a secondary re-inforcers is a trick of metabolism. An event, person or object, that is paired with “something we really like”, gets the overflow of positive emotions which increases it pleasure in our subconscious. Think of movies and popcorn or hanging out with Grandma and cookies.  This how the words “Good Dog” really work. But the timing must be fast and consistent for this to work well.

Here’s an example from my dog’s training. The dog is blind in one eye, so he hated the car  because he experienced severe car sickness (vomited, diarrhea and peeing at the same time) as a puppy.  After training him to sit in the car for food,  with help of my husband, he was trained to ride in the car for food treats. I drove, my husband fave him bits of cheese.  I didn’t want to have to give treats all the time while riding in the car, so I watched him to see what his favorite activity was, after leaving the car. He loved to great new people and gets lots of attention. So for one month, we went on one, short, car ride to the grocery store and asked people if willing, to pet the dog. Food treats during the car ride was replaced with food on arrival at a store. Then, slowly, I increased the time between arrival & treat to after he was out of the car, until he was out of the car and being petted by a new person.  He loved it and now he leaps into the car, when I say “lets go for an adventure”.  I replaced, food treats for riding in the car, with ,access to people/attention immediately after car rides. The dog added his own rewards to car rides when he noticed dogs or people on the side of the street. He barks, a favorite activity (which I ignore in this context), so that  looking and barking became a natural reward.  He stops barking when the dogs/people are out of site.  The car ride is now self re-inforcing; because looking out the window became  a secondary re-inforcer for barking.  Barking was a natural reward for greeting people after the car ride, which replaced the beginning reward: the food treat. Rides are now  rewarding for him whether he sees someone or not. I would have been happy to stop the training at the greeting people stage, but this is a good example of observing naturally occurring rewards and using them.

Next post I’ll talk about when naturally occurring rewards get in the way of training.

Happy training.

My dog/cat has arthritis. Which supplement is better: Glucosamines with Chondroitin or Fish oil?

Here is a link to a summary of a nice well done study on this question.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150191/figure/fig3/

What is important to know about supplements with:   

Glucosamine, Chondroitin or Omega Fats (Omega 3 Fatty acids)

1. With or without  Chondroitin.   Remember this; all animal source glucosamine (GA) supplements contain chondroitin sulfate (CS),  whether listed on the label or not.

2. Dose.   Studies comparing the glucosamines from cartilaginous fishes (shark, mussels, clams, shimp, crab) v.s. animals (cow, chicken, pig)   all have the same beneficial effects when the dose of GA & CS is made the same.  The amount of active ingredients in each gram of fish cartilage is much higher than animals. This means less powder needed  if you use fish compared to animal cartilage. This explains why capsules from shark or green mussel  work better than the same size capsule made of cow, chicken or pig cartilage. The same size capsule has more active ingredient when made from cartilaginous fishes.

3. New stuff- a plant based, synthesized form of glucosamine.  A word about the soybean derived formulations of glucosamines. The available information comes from the company that makes the product. They claim that it works as well as other GA products. I read the studies & found a few problems. The product was tested on only a few animals (<12 dogs) for a few weeks and there was no control group. I could not conclude from their information that these products are equal to natural GAs. Publications that directly compare the soy v.s the cartilage based supplements are needed but haven’t been published yet.  Since Cosequin(Soy based) is more expensive than most shark or green mussel nutriceuticals, I don’t recommend it at this time for dogs or cats.

4. Fish oil or Omega fats= Omega 3 fatty acids.

The high quality fish oils contain the omega 3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. These are from Salmon, Mackerel, Cod Liver oil. Plant oil sources of Omega FAs like: Flax, Borage, Safflower that are converted to Omega3 FA by  people, horses, cows are not metabolized by dogs or cats into a usable form of Omega 3 FA. Many carnivores lack the liver enzymes that covert these fats for use. So read the labels of all supplements to see if the Omega 3 FAs are all from fish sources.

5.One more important point to remember: Omega 3 Fats are not stable when heated .  So dry/packaged treats or dog foods that are “fortified” with Omega 3 fats, and have been cooked, have destroyed the Omega fats, a waste of money. Fortified and other “catch words” are added to product labels  to sell more product. If Omega 3 fats  is not listed on the label in mg amount, chances are it is not high enough. Food companies are happy to list the exact amounts when they are using the good stuff. I find many will mix, <20% fish oil with 80%+ vegetable oils for cooking. Then just list the total omega fats.   Most veggie sources have Omega 4, 6, 9  fatty acids. This example would be 20% Omega 3 and 80% Omega 4 & 6.

6. Omega 3 fats have a short shelf life, should be refrigerated, and never smell strongly fishy.  Strong Fishy odor = fats that are spoiled. Belching of fishy taste/odor indicates the same problem, the product is spoiled. Enough spoiled or “rancid” fat can irritate the stomach.

I  recommend Now® Brand of either Shark or Sea Mussel capsules and Shark powder when available. I have switched to the Veterinary prescription brands for fish oils because these are filtered and concentrated. Which removes the contaminates from the oil, such as pollution and heavy metals. Plus these are concentrated which makes the price of the Omega 3 FA, based on milligrams (mg) the same as the over  the counter brands. If not available in your area look for a cold pressed Atlantic Wild Salmon oil,  hopefully without flavors for dogs and cats.

Spring is here. Time to begin heartworm prevention, flea and tick control. Here is a useful link.

This is the best website to getup to date info on the prevalence of different parasites in the united states. The information is based on data from the “center for disease control”, the CDC. Future forecasts combine this data and weather reports that affect the population of parasites. “Look-up” Map are available for each parasite and by species. Also the many informative articles  can help you determine how to handle parasite control for your pet. This is the information used by Vet.s to make recommendations to their clients.

http://www.capcvet.org/parasite-prevalence-maps/

perception, illusion and reality

Great talk about why we struggle to allow into our world, new information when, “we know what we know”.

Takes about 15 minutes to watch this video about how we and creatures map reality.

TED | TEDx | Event Detail.

Applies to pet owners because many problem behaviors that happen in the average home are based on the principles revealed in this TED talk. Basically, our prior learning results in ideas and remembered brain images, about a subject within our world. These image-ideas can interfere with seeing what is really happening. Our brains are constantly editing out information that is in the environment, so that we  only pay attention to what is judged important. This is a brain based shortcut for daily living. Obviously, we don’t take as long to do activities of daily life compared to when we first  learned them.  This is the result of editing out any information that is not important to the task. How does this interfere with learning as life goes on? We create a very detailed map of the world as we acquire experiences. This map is brought out of our memory as we go through our day. Visual maps, hearing maps, feeling and movement maps and even thinking and emotional maps. There is even an area of the brain dedicated to making us feel certain about our maps. Even though we know that maps are only a guide, as we gain repeated experiences we begin to feel certain that our personal map is the same as reality. This is how phobias are formed and knowing that repeating experiences creates a new map is also how phobias are treated effectively.

Hopefully by now, someone has taken a photo or video of you that  demonstrates that what you remember can be very wrong. Yet we are stuck with feelings of certainty about how we see the reality around us. Luckily neuroscience is pointing out that each persons and each species only perceives a small portion of the world.

Let me explain how this applies to animal training. First, the experience of eye sight, hearing, feeling sensations, smells and second how this information is identified by the brain is very different between us and our animal companions. Many of the difficulties, that happen within human-animal households, can be traced to these facts. We do not see, feel, smell, hear, experience the same World. Modern pet training differs from, the older, so called “Leader of the Pack” beliefs, by applying what has been learned through 200 years scientific study of how animals  really experience their world.  More importantly, modern science applies the two principles: one –  what can be measured can be improved and two – what we know today is just a map of reality so learning never ends.

It is essential to document training ideas, methods and results in ways that can be objectively measured.  Renowned Innovators and Entrepreneurs  know that accepted thinking gets in the way of discovery. They also know the importance of measuring results. So as you train your animals I suggest that we all; test ideas, document objectively, retest, retest and have someone else look over your methods and results.

Once one realizes that accepted ideas can get in the way of seeing reality this is the best we can do, for now…..

Plastic in Foods & easy ways to avoid them.

This is an excellent, truthful, summary of  how plastic gets into our bodies. Plus, practical advice that is accurate, easy to follow and will  make a big difference to your families health.

Nutrition Diva : Plastic in Foods :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™.

Why are chemicals, that get into our food and water, allowed:

Veterinary and animal scientists have been warning since the 1980’s that the molecules from plastics were accumulating in animals and causing bone, hormone and health problems. However, neither the FDA nor the EPA  had the power to ban or even warn the public, because the findings were “only in animals”, not people.  Washington law makers have been unwilling to limit any industry because of economic concerns, so there have never been  requirements for safety prior to use or sale of chemicals in the USA.  Any chemical ingredients or products can be used freely in our environment, air, water, food, household goods, until proven harmful to people. Laboratory studies alone that may indicate harm are not sufficient to meet this standard of proven harmful in everyday use. The EPA can only act once sufficient numbers of people are harmed from a chemical that is proven to be the definitive cause of such harm. This is very hard to prove because we live in a chemical filled world, exposed to numerous chemicals every day of our lives.

Remember, we don’t need a government agency to protect us from everything. We can take action based on the large amount of knowledge from  “reliable scientific analysis” . What is clear so far: The harm from chemicals is not from a high dose of a single chemical,   rather the total  sum of many chemicals because they accumulate in our bodies.  The dose of  several chemicals that each interfere with  hormone function is well documented as a cause of many health problems in humans and animals. Beginning in 2008, with Bisphenol-A the EPA &FDA have  started to enforce more restrictions on known chemicals.

The list of problems known so far:

1. Silent inflammation -This occurs without major symptoms but continues deep within  in our bodies and leads to premature aging, obesity, heart disease, auto-immune diseases and cancers. The single most important known cause of  life limiting diseases of modern times.

2. Hormone problems  are rising in numbers like a slow epidemic. These are: low or high thyroid function, abnormal immune function, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, low fertility in men and women, plus cancer of lymph nodes, pancreas, adrenals, brain, breast, ovary, testes and prostate.

4. Children – starting the womb, chemicals are taken up by rapidly growing cells of the fetus. Later chemicals can be  transferred to children in breast milk. Children are regularly getting higher doses than adults. The rising number of children with health problems of the brain, immune system, hormone organs, skin, bone and bone marrow are linked to their higher exposure. One widely used group of  chemicals work by disrupting hormone function in pests or weeds, or are useful in plastics and coatings. One example, Bis-phenol A, has been in the news. Health problems linked to these chemicals in children include: brain tumors, ADHA, autism, childhood cancers, leukemia, allergies and other autoimmune diseases. abnormal bone formation and early onset of puberty and obesity  in girls and boys.

What can we do

Anti-oxidants in our diet can help to reduce the harm by counteracting silent inflammation. This alone is not enough, we can  reduce  how much we take  in through minor changes to daily life choices. See link at top of article.

Stay informed and Vote with your wallet. When we consumers buy healthier choices, companies quickly change their products to keep us loyal to their company. This action on our part also produces new products that in the end stimulate new business and the economy. Important skill to practice is reading labels carefully looking for hard to identify words (tip off to a chemical)  Be informed and check into products who use advertizing slang to blur the real ingredients. Large words on the front are meaningless it is the back in the ingredient list that matters and is regulated by truth in labeling laws. Slang to look for Green, Healthy, Low fat, Low carb. or no carb., Naturally made, Naturally   fill in the blank___ .

I provide a link to the FDA website from this blog where you can look up foods or ingredients to see what is real.

I will continue be tuned to this subject and pass along meaningful information so  my readers can actively protect their families, pet and human.  I am extremely interested in this subject because my background as a Veterinarian includes 10 years of teaching & research at 2 Universities specializing in reproduction, hormones and nutrition.

Keep Pets Safe This Holiday Season

Keep Pets Safe This Holiday Season: Tips from Pet Poison Helpline. Check out this short article on how to prevent problems at the Holidays.

I would add  be sure to secure your guest suitcases, or shopping bags.

Here is a short story. They are smarter than you think.
One year my brother came to visit as usual. Unknown to me, he had a carton of malted milk balls in his suitcase.

We left the house to go shopping, his bedroom door was open a crack and suitcase on the bed, with the top shut, but not latched. This was no problem for my Dachshund. She easily found, opened his suitcase,  ate through the carton and  a lb of milk chocolate covered treats.  She greeted us at the door, looking satisfied and very full, breath smelling of chocolate. She seemed so proud of herself for solving the obstacle course we left for her. We spent our Christmas evening, inducing the dog to vomit, and monitoring her for heart problems from chocolate. She had a bad case of diarrhea but survived.

I learned a good lesson, not all pet loving guests  know which items to safeguard from our pets. So without ruining any surprise treats, I ask guest  to put suitcases and shopping bags be in either closed “pet proof” closets, or behind latched bedroom doors.

Enjoy the holidays

Dr Smith

Great Thorough article Dog whispering in the 21st century

Dog whispering in the 21st century – Seattle Dog Training, Behavior, and Nutrition | Examiner.com.

Excellent Canine reproduction course from LSU Dr Bruce Elits

This link is for breeders and others interested in the details of reproduction of the dog. Link is to start page with this of  chapters. Choose which you want to learn more about. This is a Veterinary level course in dog  reproduction. If you have a Bitch or dog who varies  from the average or  normal development, seek out the advice of a Board Certified Theriogenologist who is a specialist in canine reproduction.

Canine Index.

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