Category Archives: Care

Rethinking Puppy Socialization

New puppy owners and breeders sending puppies off to their new homes will both benefit from the information in this excellent blog post by Lisa Mullinax.  Click on the title of the article to visit Lisa’s blog for more training advice!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

June 30, 2015

Lisa Mullinax, ACDBC

Why does my dog have a behavior problem?  I TOOK him to puppy class!”

I hear this – or variations of this – a lot.  Like, all the time.  In fact, at least half the dogs in my aggression cases have taken a puppy class.  That’s way up from 10-15 years ago.

While more dog owners are aware of the importance of socialization than they used to be, the complex concept of socialization has been boiled down to almost useless sound bytes.  Online articles give generic advice like “Socialization is very important.  Enroll your puppy in a socialization class.”

I taught puppy classes for many years.  And I can say that even the best puppy class provides only about 5% of the socialization that a new puppy needs.

A puppy class is held in just one environment, with one group of people and one group of puppies. Imagine if a child were only exposed to two places – home and the same classroom – for the first 10 years of their life…they would not be a well-socialized child!  Socialization means exposing a puppy to many novel sights, smells, sounds, and surfaces, in as many different environments as safely possible, ensuring a pleasant experience in those environments, especially for (but not limited to) the first 14 weeks of their life, the critical period of socialization.

Basically, be prepared to come home from work and take your puppy on a safe socialization field trip to a new location every day for the first six weeks in your home.  After that, you can drop it to 2-3 days a week until your puppy is at least 5 months old.  Ideally, until your puppy is past the adolescent stage (approx 18 months old).

Seem extreme? I didn’t say these trips have to last for hours. They can be quick trips to the local grocery store parking lot or even sitting on a local park bench (keeping new puppies off the ground) for 10 minutes before heading home.  But you need to do something new every day.

Or, you know, you could wait 6 months and then spend $900 or more to hire a trainer to help you undo your dog’s leash reactivity or stranger-directed aggression.  Totally your choice.

Socialization prepares your puppy for life in your world, which frequently presents unusual and even scary situations.

What is NOT a socialization program:

  • Breeder/rescue having a lot of dogs

  • Having a “friendly” breed

  • Having a puppy who is already friendly

  • Having other dogs at home

  • Having other people at home

  • Introducing a puppy to one dog

  • Taking a six-week puppy class

Just because your puppy is currently friendly to dogs and people now, in your home, or in one or two environments, does not mean you don’t need to provide the same amount of socialization that a more reserved puppy needs.  Not if you want to ensure that your puppy remains friendly.

The more novel experiences your puppy has which result in a positive, pleasant outcome, the more prepared your puppy will be for his or her future life.

Contrary to popular belief, a puppy does not need to make contact with dogs and people for socialization to occur.   This is why you can still provide socialization without putting your puppy at risk.

DO’S AND DON’TS

DO:

  • Carry your puppy into dog-friendly stores (this doesn’t just mean pet stores – you’d be surprised at how many banks and non-dog retail stores are willing to help a responsible owner with socialization).

  • Be generous with rewards.  Cheese. Hot dogs.  Small little tasty bits of meaty, cheesy goodness that accompanies all new and potentially scary experiences.  No, your puppy isn’t going to get fat.

  • Watch new people from a distance – overly-exuberant puppies can learn that they don’t get to greet everyone just because they want to (impulse control – important life skill), and shy puppies can learn that the appearance of strangers does not mean a scary encounter.

  • Carry your puppy into the vet for non-vaccination visits, and the groomer (if your dog will require grooming) for a quick treat without the shampoo.

  • Expose your puppy to other dogs…from your car: Sit in the parking lot of the dog park and let your puppy watch the dogs come and go.

  • Fill a kiddie pool with water bottles, boxes, and other strange objects and let your puppy explore…then repeat this in different areas of your house, in your yard, even on your front porch (if you can safely contain your puppy and prevent him/her from getting on the front lawn).

  • Buy a fun playset with tunnels and tents from your local toy store.  Fill the tunnels with toys and treats to encourage your puppy to explore.

DON’T

  • DON’T ever force your puppy to approach, enter, or interact with anything that they aren’t willingly approaching, entering, or interacting with.  EVER.  Shy puppies sometimes need multiple approaches to work up the courage to interact.  Don’t force it.  If you do, I might just show up on your porch and squirt you in the face with a water bottle.  No!  Bad puppy owner!

  • DON’T place your puppy on dirt or grass in public areas or in back yards where friends/family have lived for less than two years. That’s because viruses like Parvo can live in the soil for that long.

  • DON’T take your puppy to the dog park until they are at least 5-6 months old and have already been socialized to a variety of other dogs.  Dog parks are for socialized dogs, not for socialization.  Being charged, swarmed, knocked over, humped, and generally terrorized is definitely not a positive experience.

  • DON’T let well-meaning strangers overwhelm your puppy with enthusiastic greetings, invasive handling, or their own, special form of training that they claim to have gleaned from dog ownership.

  • DON’T let your puppy meet strange dogs you encounter in public unless you are prepared to embark on a significant behavior modification program.  Relying on a complete stranger to be honest and objective about their dog’s behavior is gambling with your puppy’s safety.

  • DON’T let your friendly puppy get away with murder in the name of socializaation. Part of socialization is learning how to interact with the world.  For confident, friendly puppies, that also means learning good manners around strangers and strange dogs.  Allowing a friendly puppy to treat the world like his mosh pit when he is little is going to make life super fun when he’s 60 lbs.

The best socialization program starts at the breeder or foster home, who introduces puppies to new sights, sounds, surfaces, and smells long before they come home with you.  This breeder provides a fun play area for her puppies:

ADOLESCENT SOCIALIZATION

Starting around 5 months of age, your puppy is going to freak out a little.  Part of this is normal adolescent behavior (oh, and has anyone told you that this is when teething really starts?), but adolescent dogs go through multiple and brief fear periods.  During this time, you’re going to need to renew your socialization efforts.

Here’s the key:  Listen to your dog.  If something is scaring your adolescent dog, the fear is very real to them.  Don’t force the issue just because you know it’s just a statue or garbage can.  Give your dog the distance they need to feel safe, then reintroduce the scary thing from a distance, accompanied by LOTS of great things.  This is where a good trainer can help you.  The goal here is for your dog to learn that a) scary things usually aren’t as bad as they seem and bravery is always rewarded, and b) they can trust you to keep them safe.

YEAH, IT’S A LOT OF WORK…BUT YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO DO IT RIGHT

Waiting until a puppy has received a full set of vaccinations to begin a socialization program is too little, too late! Socialization begins on Day 1 with you.  The first 8 weeks in your home should be devoted to teaching important life skills that you only get one chance to get right.

Don’t worry about “obedience” training right away, outside of a good name response and recall. A solid down-stay is not going to make for drama-free nail trims or prevent your dog from biting strangers.

Could you skip all this work and still end up with a happy, well-adjusted pet?  Maybe.  But that’s a big – and expensive – risk to take with a 15+ year commitment.

Could you do all this work and still end up with a dog with a behavior problem?  Maybe.  There are a lot of other factors that contribute to aggressive behavior, including genetics (trainers can’t fix your dog’s DNA) and learning history (if a trainer tells you to yank on your dog’s pinch collar every time he sees another dog, he’s got a really good chance of getting cranky when he sees other dogs).

Dog behavior is about risk assessment and management. My recommendations to my clients are designed to minimize the risk that their dog will develop a behavior problem in the future.  There are no guarantees – behavior is not static, it changes and adapts depending on the dog’s needs. Your job is to reduce the odds that your puppy’s behavior changes for the worse.

By doing all this work, you significantly minimize the risk that your dog will develop a problem that could jeopardize his success in your home…or even his life.  If this seems like more work than you can handle, you might not be ready for a puppy.  Check out your local shelter for a nice 4+ year-old dog.  There are no longevity guarantees no matter what age dog you get, so you may as well pick a dog who fits your lifestyle now.  10 years with the right dog for your lifestyle is far better than 15 years with one who doesn’t.

Finally, if your puppy’s veterinarian insists that your puppy stay indoors until they are “fully vaccinated,” find a new veterinarian who is up-to-date on the importance of puppy socialization.

And if a veterinarian or a member of their staff tells you that you must physically manhandle, pin, roll, or shake your puppy to establish dominance, pick up your puppy and RUN out of that office as fast as you can!

Treating Dog Anxiety – AKC.Org

Thanks to Barbara Manson for sharing this article from the AKC website. Gordon Setters are not normally an anxiety ridden breed, however they can have their anxious moments just like every other dog, cat, pig, sheep or goat  – not that we’re talking about cats, pigs, sheep or goats here, I just get to rambling sometimes.

As owners and breeders though, we do need to know how to read a dog’s body language, and we especially need to understand when we are seeing signs of anxiety so we can help to stabilize our dogs emotionally. We don’t want to be adding fuel to this fire!

We thought this article was a good starting place, but we also need you to share your advice, comments and suggestions to round it out, especially where your insight pertains to our Gordon Setters. Let’s give new and inexperienced Gordon owners a resource to guide them in building a calm, well behaved and socially adjusted dog. Thanks so much for contributing advice or stories in the comment section below.

Meanwhile you can read this article about anxiety below or follow the link embedded in the title to the AKC website for access to this and many other excellent articles.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Feature Photo by Susan Roy Nelson, Casper, WY (This boy looks cool as a cucumber, obviously anything but anxious.)

Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Dog Anxiety

If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety, then you know how difficult it can be to get through the day. What you might not know is that some dogs also suffer from anxiety.

Dog anxiety affects all breeds of dogs and can lead to serious behavioral problems if left untreated. Luckily, there are steps owners can take to help their dogs live with canine anxiety. Here are the symptoms, treatment options, and prevention techniques owners need to know about.

What Causes Dog Anxiety?

Dog anxiety can have several causes, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual. The most common are:

  • Fear
  • Separation
  • Aging

Fear-related anxiety can be caused by loud noises, strange people or animals, visual stimuli like hats or umbrellas, new or strange environments, specific situations like the vet’s office or car rides, or surfaces like grass or wood floors. These fears may seem inconsequential to us, but they create a lot of anxiety for dogs.

Separation anxiety is estimated to affect around 14 percent of dogs. Dogs with separation anxiety are unable to find comfort when they are left alone or separated from their family members. This anxiety often manifests itself in undesirable behaviors, such as urinating and defecating in the house, destroying furniture and furnishings, and barking.

Age-related anxiety affects older dogs and can be associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). In dogs with CDS, memory, learning, perception, and awareness start to decline, similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. This understandably leads to anxiety in senior dogs.

SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY

So how can you tell if your dog has anxiety? There are several important symptoms to look out for:

  • Aggression
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Destructive behavior
  • Depression
  • Excessive barking
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors

By far the most dangerous symptom of dog anxiety is aggression. This aggression can be targeted directly or indirectly, depending on the situation. Direct aggression occurs when a dog acts aggressively toward people or other animals. Indirect aggression can be equally dangerous, and often happens when a person comes between the dog and the source of the dog’s aggression, such as another dog. Even if a dog is prevented from harming others, aggressive behaviors such as growling or barking can lead to dangerous situations for humans and dogs, alike.

Urinating and defecating in the house is a common symptom of separation anxiety. Anxious dogs often work themselves up to the point that they pee or poop in the house, even if they are housebroken. This is frustrating for owners and can cause damage to property, not to mention the unpleasantness of the cleanup.

Destructive behavior is also common with separation anxiety. The damage is usually located around entry and exit points, like doorways and windows, but dogs in a state of heightened anxiety are also at risk of harming themselves. Attempts to break out of dog crates, windows, and even doors can result in painful injuries and expensive veterinary treatments.

Treating Dog Anxiety

The best way to treat anxiety is to talk with a veterinarian. She can help you identify the type of anxiety your dog suffers from and the possible causes and triggers. Veterinarians can also rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing your dog’s symptoms.

Your vet will help you come up with a treatment plan. Since anxiety is often caused by a variety of factors, the best way to treat it is usually through a combination of training, preventative strategies, and in some cases, medications.

TRAINING AND COUNTERCONDITIONING:

There are several training strategies dog owners can use to treat anxiety. One way is counterconditioning. The purpose of counterconditioning is to change your dog’s response to the stimuli responsible for anxiety, usually by replacing the anxious or aggressive behavior with a more desirable behavior, like sitting or focusing on the owner.

Another training strategy is desensitization. The owner slowly introduces the dog to the source of anxiety, preferably in small doses and at a decreased intensity. Repeated exposure and rewarding positive behavior can go a long way toward managing anxiety.

You might want to contact a professional dog trainer to help you choose the best approach for your dog, as training an anxious dog is not always easy.

ANXIETY MEDICATIONS FOR DOGS:

Some cases of anxiety are so severe that your veterinarian may recommend medications or natural therapies. SSRIs and antidepressants are occasionally prescribed for dogs with anxiety, including fluoxetine and clomipramine. For predictable anxiety-producing events like thunderstorms, fireworks, or car rides, your vet might prescribe a medication such as benzodiazepine in conjunction with an antidepressant to help your dog cope with the stress.

Senior dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome may benefit from the drug selegiline, which can help reduce some of the symptoms of CDS. Selegiline is also used for treating chronic anxiety in Europe.

The Merck Veterinary Manual also states that natural therapies and products can help dogs with anxiety. Some products work best in conjunction with other medications, while others can be used alone, depending on your dog’s case. Natural products use pheromones and aromatherapy to reduce anxiety. Talk to your vet about the natural products best suited for your dog.

Preventing Dog Anxiety

It is hard to predict if a pet will develop anxiety, but there are ways to help a new dog or puppy avoid anxiety-related problems.

Body Language

One of the best things you can do is learn to read dog body language. Knowing when your dog is uncomfortable or scared can help you avoid negative experiences or use them as a positive training moment. Body language can also tell you when a dog is getting anxious, which is especially useful if your dog has a history of aggression-related anxiety.

Socialization

Proper socialization can prevent the development of anxiety. Introducing your dog to new people, dogs, animals, places, and experiences can help them avoid an exaggerated response down the road, and also helps them become well-adjusted canine citizens.

Obedience

Obedience training is an essential tool for preventing and managing anxiety. It lays the foundation of a healthy relationship and establishes trust. A well-trained dog is easier to socialize than a dog without training, and obedience classes are a great place for dogs to meet other dogs in a controlled environment.

Exercise and Nutrition

Regular exercise and stimulation are crucial for a dog’s development, physical, and mental well-being. A stimulated dog is less likely to pick up destructive behaviors, and good nutrition is equally important for your dog’s health. Making sure you take care of your dog’s physical and mental needs can help you prevent any behavior problems that don’t stem from anxiety, letting you know the areas where your dog needs the most help.

Situation Avoidance

If your dog has been diagnosed with anxiety, you can also try to avoid or prevent situations that trigger your dog’s anxiety. For example, if you know that your dog grows anxious around large groups of dogs, you should avoid dog parks. Avoidance does not mean that you need to put your life on hold, but it can reduce some of the stress on you and your dog.

If the source of the anxiety cannot be avoided, preventative measures like leashes, body harnesses, and, in some cases, basket muzzles can prevent dangerous situations. Once you know your dog’s triggers, you can prepare for these situations ahead of time.

Take Action Now

Don’t let your dog’s anxiety take control of your life. With the right treatment strategy, you can help your dog overcome his anxiety and prevent dangerous and destructive situations from happening in the first place. If you think your dog might have anxiety, talk to your veterinarian today about a treatment plan that best fits your dog and your lifestyle.

Hot weather tips from AKC

steelfurnaceFeature Photo – River’s Edge by Susan Roy Nelson

Hot weather is the norm here in AZ and it starts in the spring for us. When the wind blows here it feels something like standing in a steel foundry next to the furnace. Keeping our dogs cool is an art form for us, and we practice our skill with a vengeance.

 

I’m only managing two girls right now so they spend most of their time indoors lounging on the couches in the air conditioning. They do, however, still need plenty of exercise and potty time, but even during those breaks we need to employ a good deal of caution when our temps are soaring above 100 degrees. Kenna likes to retrieve toys from the pool so getting her wet to help her stay cool is easy, not to mention that swimming is great exercise.

Sara by the hoseSara, on the other hand, hates swimming so she sits next to the garden hose to remind me to come over there to soak her down instead.

The girls and I get up early in the morning, before the sun rises, so they can get morning exercise without battling the desert sun, the ground has cooled off over night and they get an hour or two to run and play before the sun heats everything to blistering temperatures. The misters on the patio, sun shades, trees and umbrellas in our backyard offer additional patches of cooler temps. It doesn’t take long though for the sun to rise and the temperature along with it. That’s when the dogs head back into the house to laze the day away in the air conditioning, waiting for the sun to go down and the ground to cool off so they can get another couple of hours to play when the temps go down. Needless to say they refuse to spend more than 10 minutes or so on potty breaks during the heat of the day, and not wanting to burn their feet on the hot rocks that make up the desert landscaping of our yard, they stick to the shady areas whenever they do go out to pee.

Living in AZ I’m always aware of the heat and the impact it can have on my dog’s lives. It’s easier though, for people to forget the dog’s needs when living in more temperate climates, and a heat wave can be deadly for dogs if owners aren’t prepared. AKC has offered some tips for breeders that I’m sharing here, and as breeders we also like to share tips with our puppy buyers. It never hurts to remind folks that dogs need protection from the heat as much as humans do.

So – what tips would you share with others about how you keep your dogs and kennels cool? Use the comment section to share your best advice!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

From the AKC website tips for breeders – How to get your kennel ready for hot weather

Summer officially arrives next month, but hot temperatures have already hit many areas of the country. Get your kennel ready for the warm weather and assure your dogs are comfortable and avoid heat stroke even on the hottest days.

  1. Clean and service your fans and air conditioners prior to using them.
  2. Make sure your dogs have plenty of sturdy shade that will not blow away or shred in high winds.
  3. Keep the dogs’ exercise/play yards mowed and edged to reduce pests.
  4. With the good weather, it is a great time to make repairs. Freshen up things from the winter months and add some curb appeal to your facilities and sites.
  5. Think about adding a water element for your dogs to cool off, such as a wading pool in the play yards. But make sure they have a separate sturdy water bucket or bowl for fresh drinking water. Keep the buckets and bowls under shade to assure that drinking water stays cool.

And from the AKC website – Dog Health – Here are a few more tips on how to keep your dog cool during the hot summer months.

Summer Safety Tips For Dogs

Hot weather can make us all uncomfortable, and it poses special risks for your dog. Keep the following safety concerns in mind as the temperature rises, and follow our tips to keep your dog cool.

Heat Hazards

If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in. Doghouses are not good shelter during the summer as they can trap heat. You may want to fill a child’s wading pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in.

Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water.

Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun’s heat is less intense.

Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog’s paws.

Dogs that are brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Japanese Chins, and Pekingese, have an especially hard time in the heat because they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs. Keep your brachycephalic dog inside with air-conditioning.

General Health

Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date, especially since dogs tend to stay outdoors longer and come into contact with other animals more during the summer months.

Keep dogs off of lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or according to package instructions), and away from potentially toxic plants and flowers.

Keep your dog well-brushed and clean.

Fleas and ticks, and the mosquitos which carry heartworm disease, are more prevalent in warmer months. Ask your veterinarian for an effective preventive to keep these parasites off your dog. The AKC Pet Healthcare Plan can help with the cost of providing quality healthcare, including preventive medicine, throughout your dog’s life.

Beach Tips

Make sure your dog has a shady spot to rest in and plenty of fresh water.

Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog’s exposure during the day and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.

Check with a lifeguard for daily water conditions. Dogs are easy targets for sea lice and jellyfish.

Running on the sand is strenuous exercise. A dog that is out of shape can easily pull a tendon or ligament, so keep a check on your dog’s activity.

Do not let your dog drink seawater; the salt will make him sick.

Salt and other minerals in ocean water can damage your dog’s coat, so rinse him off at the end of the day.

Not all beaches permit dogs; check local ordinances before heading out.

Water Safety

Most dogs enjoy swimming, but some cannot swim, and others may hate the water. Be conscious of your dog’s preferences and skills before trying to make him swim.

If you’re swimming for the first time with your dog, start in shallow water and coax him in by calling his name. Encourage him with toys or treats. Or, let him follow another experienced dog he is friendly with.

Never throw your dog into the water.

If your dog begins to paddle with his front legs, lift his hind legs and help him float. He should quickly catch on and keep his back end up.

Don’t let your dog overdo it; swimming is very hard work and he may tire quickly.

If swimming at the ocean, be careful of strong tides.

If you have your own pool, make sure your dog knows where the stairs or ladder are located. Be sure that pool covers are firmly in place; dogs have been known to slip in under openings in the covers and drown.

Never leave your dog unattended in water.

Travel

By Air

Many airlines will not ship animals during summer months due to dangers caused by hot weather. Some will only allow dogs to fly in the early morning or in the evening. Check with your airlines for specific rules.

If you do ship a dog, put icepacks or an ice blanket in the dog’s crate. (Two-liter soft drink bottles filled with water and frozen work well.) Provide a container of fresh water, as well as a container of frozen water that will thaw over the course of the trip.

By Car

Keep your dog cool in the car by putting icepacks in his crate. Make sure the crate is well ventilated.

Put a sunshade on your car windows.

Bring along fresh water and a bowl, and a tarp or tent so you can set up a shady spot when you stop. Keep a spray bottle filled with water to spritz on your dog to cool him down.

By RV

A dog’s safety should not depend on the air conditioning and generator systems in an RV or motor home. These devices can malfunction, with tragic results.

If you leave your dog in an RV with the generator running, check it often or have a neighbor monitor it. Some manufacturers have devices that will notify you if the generator should malfunction.

Never leave an RV or motor home completely shut up, even if the generator and AC are running. Crack a window or door or run the exhaust fan.

Never, ever leave a dog unattended in a vehicle in the summer months. Heatstroke and death can occur within minutes in warm temperatures.

Heatstroke

Heatstroke can be the serious and often fatal result of a dog’s prolonged exposure to excessive heat. Below are the signs of heatstroke and the actions you should take if your dog is overcome.

Early Stages:

  • Heavy panting.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Bright red gums and tongue.
  • Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.

Advanced Stages:

    • White or blue gums.
    • Lethargy, unwillingness to move.
    • Uncontrollable urination or defecation.
    • Labored, noisy breathing.
    • Shock.

If your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool the dog down:

  • Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog’s paw pads.
  • Apply ice packs to the groin area.
  • Hose down with water.
  • Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
  • Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.

Check your dog’s temperature regularly during this process. Once the dog’s temperature has stabilized at between 100 to 102 degrees, you can stop the cool-down process.

If you cannot get the dog cooled down and you begin to see signs of advanced heatstroke, take the dog to the veterinarian immediately.

Blastomycosis—What Every Dog Owner Needs to Know – Life with Llewellin Setters

Blastomycosis, or Blasto as it is often called, is a very serious and potentially deadly, systemic fungal disease that can affect dogs, humans, and other mammals. Blasto is caused by inhaling the spores of the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis. B. dermatitis grows as a mold in acidic, organically rich …

Source: Blastomycosis—What Every Dog Owner Needs to Know – Life with Llewellin Setters

This Substance Is Making Dogs Sick, and It’s Probably in Your Home Right Now – American Kennel Club

This post contains a link to, and excerpts from, the article published by the AKC, Dog Health. Please be aware of the substance and danger, read the entire article by clicking here:

This Substance Is Making Dogs Sick, and It’s Probably in Your Home Right Now – American Kennel Club

Dangers Of Xylitol

EXCERPTS:

A substance called xylitol is making thousands of dog sick and even causing death…something this benign, an ordinary sweetener, could be toxic to pets.

What Is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar substitute most often associated with “sugar-free” chewing gum and mints, but it’s also found some brands of peanut butter, toothpastes, certain medications, and vitamins, many sugar-free products (chocolate, JELLO, yogurt, pudding), and even some household products such as baby wipes and lip balm. A comprehensive list of products is available here. VCA Hospitals reports that xylitol is 100 times more toxic to dogs than chocolate.

Why Is Xylitol So Dangerous?

According to Caroline Coile, AKC Family Dog Nutrition & Health columnist: “The dog’s pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and releases insulin to store it. The insulin removes real sugar from the bloodstream and the dog can become weak, and have tremors and even seizures starting within 30 minutes of eating it.” Other symptoms of hypoglycemia include poor coordination and vomiting/diarrhea.

Liver failure (and death) can also result from xylitol ingestion, and symptoms can take as much as eight hours as show up. A dog only needs to consume a very little amount of xylitol to receive a deadly dose. As much as two pieces of gum can cause a problem in a small-breed dog.

 

Excerpts from and links shared by Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photograph by Susan Roy Nelson

 

 

What to Expect: Introducing a Puppy to Your Adult Dogs | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

If I were to tell you that in my family, growing up with 4 brothers and sisters, we got along famously all of the time, never argued, never bickered, never hit or tattled, shared our toys and our treats, shared love with mom and cuddling on the couch and never, ever, said a bad word to each other or argued bitterly I’d have a nose the length of Florida!

Raising dogs, like raising kids, does take patience along with a common sense approach if you want to create a happy household, and this is especially true when bringing a young puppy into the fold.

Whether you’re the new puppy  owner, or the breeder who wants to provide the new puppy owner with sound advice, the article by Karen Pryor “What to Expect: Introducing a Puppy to Your Adult Dogs” is right for you. Simply click the highlighted article title to go there to learn.

If you have other advice or strategies or helpful links please share them with us in the comment section as our aim is to provide an in-depth guide to help new owners and breeders.

Thanks for joining us here, till next time…Sally

Photo (Elfie) by Sarah Armstrong

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

What to Expect: Introducing a Puppy to Your Adult Dogs | Karen Pryor Clicker Training.

Dewclaws – should we remove them?

“Do the Dew” …should we or shouldn’t we? M. Christine Zink DVM certainly gives food for thought in her articles, but she’s not talking about that well known bright yellow soft drink, instead she’s talking about dewclaws and the fairly common practice of removing these. Dr. Zink exposes us to her concern about the long term ramifications that may occur from foreleg dewclaw removal, the possibility of injury or disease (carpal arthritis).

Quite frankly I’ve always removed the dewclaws from puppies in my litters, and I haven’t really given much thought to the practice. I’d always been told that the dewclaw served no purpose, and that when working in the field, the dewclaw could be a source of injury if caught on a branch or bramble. So, I simply had them (the dewclaw that is) lopped off at my earliest convenience within a day or so of the puppy’s birth. I do remember being told that it wasn’t a good idea for an amateur like me to nip those claws off myself, as if done wrong, one could damage the tendons in the dog’s foreleg causing lameness or a limp, so I always asked my vet to perform this simple procedure.  Well, those tendons attached to the dewclaw that I just mention, that’s what lead me to share these articles with you today, articles by Dr. Zink that offer a different opinion about the function of the dewclaw and how injury or disease might result from their removal.

M. Christine Zink DVM, PhD, DACVSMR of Johns Hopkins University “When a dog runs, however, the entire foot from the carpus to the toes contacts the ground. If the dog then turns, it can dig the dewclaw (the equivalent of our thumb) into the ground to stabilize the leg and reduce torque on the rest of the leg.”

dewclaw
Anatomical diagram viewing the medial side of a dog’s front leg demonstrating the 5 tendons that attach to the dewclaw.  From Miller’s Guide to the Dissection of the Dog

Wikipedia:  Dewclaws and Locomotion

“Based on stop-action photographs, veterinarian M. Christine Zink of Johns Hopkins University believes that the entire front foot, including the dewclaws, contacts the ground while running. During running, the dewclaw digs into the ground preventing twisting or torque on the rest of the leg. Several tendons connect the front dewclaw to muscles in the lower leg, further demonstrating the front dewclaws’ functionality. There are indications that dogs without dewclaws have more foot injuries and are more prone to arthritis. Zink recommends “for working dogs it is best for the dewclaws not to be amputated. If the dewclaw does suffer a traumatic injury, the problem can be dealt with at that time, including amputation if needed.”[1]

To gain a full understanding of Zink’s position regarding the dewclaw’s purpose and any injury that may result from their removal read through links I’ve provided to her articles. Click the bold type link to open and read each in full. You’ll also find I’ve included a few excerpts if you’re looking for a quick Reader’s Digest version.

Dewclaw Explanation

“I have seen many dogs now, especially field trial/hunt test and agility dogs, that have had chronic carpal arthritis… Of the over 30 dogs I have seen with carpal arthritis, only one had dewclaws.”
“…there are 5 tendons attached to the dewclaw… at the other end of a tendon is a muscle, and that means that if you cut off the dew claws, there are 5 muscle bundles that will become atrophied from disuse.”
“Those muscles indicate that the dewclaws have a function… to prevent torque on the leg. Each time the foot lands on the ground, particularly when the dog is cantering or galloping the dewclaw is in touch with the ground. If the dog then needs to turn, the dewclaw digs into the ground to support the lower leg and prevent torque. If the dog doesn’t have a dewclaw, the leg twists. A life time of that and the result can be carpal arthritis, or perhaps injuries to other joints, such as the elbow, shoulder and toes.”
“As to the possibility of injuries to dew claws. Most veterinarians will say that such injuries actually are not very common at all.”

I also found this video that may be of interest to you. It illustrates how dogs use their dewclaws on ice.

 

I haven’t decided whether to make any change to my practice of removing dewclaws. Whether to “do the dew” or not is still in question for me, and I’m not here to give you my advice, or to assert that you change what you do, what I did want was to simply share this information with you and then to ask whether you have any thoughts, questions or practices that you’d like share about dewclaw removal through the comment section?

I did find this funny tidbit on Physchology Today in an article written by Stanley Coren“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.”

well…there are rattlesnakes here in AZ and we are in the south so…

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Developing High Achievers When Raising Puppies

Sarah Armstrong
Sarah Armstrong

Please thank our Guest Blogger – Sarah Armstrong  MI  for her contribution today with a link to information and comments about her experience with Early Neurological Stimulation for puppies.

Sarah wrote:

I learned about the bio-sensory stimulation after my first litter.  I’ve experimented with it, doing it on one litter and not on another.  What I have found is that it DOES work!  It makes the puppies better able to handle stressful situations and to make a quicker recovery when they get scared or startled.
One puppy in a recent litter flew to Denver.  A few weeks later had to be “rescued” and he went to live with friends in Nebraska for a month.  He was then dropped off

Photo by Sarah Armstrong
Photo by Sarah Armstrong

in Chicago with fellow Gordonites for a weekend before continuing his journey back home to me.  He was maybe 4.5 months at this point.  In Chicago he strutted down the sidewalks like he owned them.  The people, the cars, the noise, nothing phased him.  Maybe he would have reacted that way had I not done the stimulation, but I would rather help them from wet to the time they leave become the best companions they can be!  This will always be my protocol with puppies!

Photo by Sarah Armstrong
Photo by Sarah Armstrong

The link to the article and method followed will open on a new page by clicking the title: Developing High Achievers by Dr. Carmen Battaglia orginally published as “Early Neurological Stimulation”.

Sarah Armstrong, MI

The Importance of Exercising Your Dog’s Brain – YouTube

This is a link to a wonderful resource for everyone who owns a dog, and is certainly pertinent to our Gordon Setter. Veterinary behavior expert, Dr. Karen Overall, introduces her discussion on the importance of exercising a dog’s brain and the effects it has on physical and mental health.

View this in its entirety – free registration compliments of the AKC Canine Health Foundation simply click this link to go: The Importance of Exercising Your Dog’s Brain – YouTube.

NEWS FLASH – Gordon Setter Students & Mentors

I started a new discussion group that you may find totally useful if you’re seriously into breeding and/or competing with your Gordon Setter. Now, I realize that many of you are not on Facebook and may well have sworn never to go there BUT you don’t have to turn into a Facebook junkie, nor do you need to accumulate a slathering of friends, but you will need to set up a Facebook account in order to view and post to the group.  There are already fabulous discussions starting, questions being posed, and pictures being shared of dogs from way back, all things educational can be shared here.

Here is the link Gordon Setter Students & Mentors click here if you’d care to check it out or join the group.

Gordon Setter Students & Mentors

Description

Welcome Gordon Setter students and mentors! This group is meant to serve as a resource and learning tool for Gordon Setter fanciers who are serious students or experienced breeder/exhibitors willing to join forces where everyone can learn about and mentor the art of breeding better Gordon Setters. A place also to fine tune our skill and expertise when competing in conformation, performance or field events. Topics might include such things as genetics, structure, pedigrees, ancestors, health, and proper care, grooming, as well as training tips pertaining to competition in conformation, performance and field events. To make the most of this forum you are encouraged to submit questions, content and photos to provide examples as well as actively participate in discussions with helpful answers and guiding principles.

Things to keep in mind:

No personal attacks, ridicule, or harassment on or about another member’s post. You will be removed from the group and blocked. We don’t always need to agree and various opinions on a topic are encouraged to promote a learning environment, however remember when you are expressing an opinion to please do so in a tactful and polite manner.

Since this group is meant to serve educational purposes only, please do not submit your win photos and brags, we do love to see those and are very happy for you, but let’s post them on other forums to maintain focus here. The same would be true of those happy Gordon photos we post just for fun.

Please focus on the positive traits of any dog pictured. If you have constructive criticism always be considerate and tactful in your comments to ensure you are providing encouragement as well as an educational experience for the student. Please do share educational articles and links to other sites that will educate and promote better breeding and competition practices.

No SPAM or ads to promote the sale of merchandise or dogs. Spammers will be removed.

No personal attacks on other members! We are here to help each other learn and we will respect everyone and treat each other with dignity because of our differences, a different view could be where a new learning begins.

Enjoy!
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Photo by Bob Segal – 2015 GSCA National Specialty

We are dedicated to building a knowledge base and a sharing site for those who are involved in all of the various aspects of competition with Gordon Setters, competitions that showcase the Gordon Setter’s Beauty, Brains and Bird-Sense.

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