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Crossroads Pet Resort http://crossroadspetresort.com Animal Behavior Specialists with over 35+ years experience. You are welcome to tour at any time during our resort hours! Tue, 07 Jul 2015 20:47:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 The Truth about Canine Flu http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2015/06/the-truth-about-canine-flu/ http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2015/06/the-truth-about-canine-flu/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 00:02:02 +0000 renee http://crossroadspetresort.com/?p=1199 News about the Canine Influenza is causing concern among dog owners. We thought we would share some facts about the “flu” because knowledge is key to keeping our dogs safe. While the flu should not be taken lightly, it important to understand that most dogs will recover within a few weeks with proper veterinary care. Because the canine flu spreads much like any other virus, dogs can be exposed even if they do not go to dog parks, boarding facilities [...]

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News about the Canine Influenza is causing concern among dog owners. We thought we would share some facts about the “flu” because knowledge is key to keeping our dogs safe. While the flu should not be taken lightly, it important to understand that most dogs will recover within a few weeks with proper veterinary care. Because the canine flu spreads much like any other virus, dogs can be exposed even if they do not go to dog parks, boarding facilities or other dog-populated locations. The important thing to remember is to always keep an eye on your dog and know what is normal and what is not. When something doesn’t seem right, seek veterinary help as it’s always better to play it safe.

As of this posting, Crossroads has not seen or heard of any cases of influenza. To keep all dogs safe, if you suspect your dog is not feeling well or is displaying ANY signs of any illness, please see your vet before exposing your dog to other dogs.

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The H3N8 strain of canine influenza was first recognized in 2004 and since then it has been reported in 30 states. The recent outbreak of more than 1,000 dogs in Chicago was a result of the H3N2 strain which until this year, had been limited to Asia. Infections are now reportedly emerging in other states, including California.

Because this is still an emerging pathogen, all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection and have no naturally acquired or vaccine-induced immunity when first exposed to the virus. The incubation period is usually two to four days from exposure to onset of clinical signs. The highest amounts of viral shedding occur during this time; therefore, dogs are most contagious during this 2-4 day incubation period when they are not exhibiting signs of illness. Virus shedding decreases dramatically during the first 4 days of illness but may continue up to 7 days in most dogs and up to 10 days in some dogs.

Virtually all dogs that are exposed become infected with the virus, but approximately 80% develop clinical signs of disease. The approximately 20% of infected dogs that do not exhibit clinical signs of disease can still shed the virus and can spread the infection.

Nevertheless, the H3N2 canine flu — not to be confused with the seasonal H3N2 human flu that sickened so many people last winter — is not a cause for panic, experts say.The American Veterinary Medical Assn. reports that dogs that are sickened by canine flu fall into two categories: those with a mild form (causing coughing, lethargy and sometimes a nasal discharge) and those with a more severe version accompanied by high fevers and pneumonia. “It’s the entire range, just like in people,” said Dr. Polina Vishkautsan, a UC Davis veterinarian. As for all viral diseases, treatment is largely supportive. Good husbandry and nutrition may assist dogs in mounting an effective immune response. Dogs that do get sick from canine flu can be treated with supportive care including antibiotics for secondary infections or fever-reducing medications, and most get better within two to three weeks. Fewer than 10% of dogs confirmed to have canine flu die as a result of the infection, the CDC says.

Early treatment is key. If you notice any change in your dog’s behavior, seek veterinary help, especially if your dog has been around other dogs, whether at a dog park, boarding or daycare facility, or even the veterinarian’s office.

In terms of prevention, there are currently two H3N8 CIV vaccines available however there is no U.S. commercial vaccine for the H3N2 strain of canine influenza virus, and it is unknown whether the H3N8 vaccines will provide any cross-protection against H3N2.

The canine H3N8 vaccine is intended as an aid in the control of disease associated with canine influenza virus infection. Although the vaccine may not prevent H3N8 infection altogether, it may significantly reduce the severity and duration of the illness, including the incidence and severity of damage to the lungs. In addition, the vaccine reduces the amount of virus shed and shortens the shedding interval; therefore, vaccinated dogs that become infected develop less severe illness and are less likely to spread the virus to other dogs. These benefits are similar to those provided by influenza vaccines used in other species, including humans.

The canine influenza vaccine is a “lifestyle” vaccine, and is not recommended for every dog. In general, the vaccine is intended for the protection of dogs at risk for exposure to the canine influenza virus, which include those that either participate in activities with many other dogs or are housed in communal facilities, particularly where the virus is prevalent. Dogs that may benefit from canine influenza vaccination include those that receive the kennel cough (Bordetella/parainfluenza) vaccine, because the risk groups are similar. Dog owners should consult with their veterinarian to determine whether their dog’s lifestyle includes risks for exposure to the canine influenza virus, and if vaccination is appropriate for their dog.

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DO I GO HOME TODAY? http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2014/08/do-i-go-home-today/ http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2014/08/do-i-go-home-today/#comments Sat, 02 Aug 2014 19:09:46 +0000 renee http://crossroadspetresort.com/?p=1074 Here is a poem, written by trainer Sandi Thompson, which heartbreakingly describes what happens to dogs that do not receive proper training. PLEASE, if you or someone you know is thinking of relinquishing a dog, contact us for help. Mention this blog and receive a FREE evaluation (normally a $35 fee). Contact us at 714-821-6622. Do I Go Home Today? –Written By Sandi Thompson My family brought me home cradled in their arms. They cuddled me and smiled at me [...]

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Here is a poem, written by trainer Sandi Thompson, which heartbreakingly describes what happens to dogs that do not receive proper training. PLEASE, if you or someone you know is thinking of relinquishing a dog, contact us for help. Mention this blog and receive a FREE evaluation (normally a $35 fee). Contact us at 714-821-6622.

Do I Go Home Today?
–Written By Sandi Thompson

My family brought me home cradled in their arms. They cuddled me and smiled at me and said I was full of charm. They played with me and laughed with me and showered me with toys.

I sure do love my family, especially the little girls and boys. The children loved to feed me; they gave me special treats. They even let me sleep with them – all snuggled in the sheets.

I used to go for walks, often several times a day. They even fought to hold the leash, I’m very proud to say! These are the things I’ll not forget – a cherished memory.

I now live in the shelter – without my family. They used to laugh and praise me when I played with that old shoe. But I didn’t know the difference between the old one and the new.

The kids and I would grab a rug, for hours we would tug. So I thought I did the right thing when I chewed the bedroom rug. They said I was out of control and would have to live outside. This I didn’t understand, although I tried and tried!

The walks stopped one by one; they said they hadn’t the time. I wish that I could change things; I wish I knew my crime.

My life became so lonely in the backyard, on a chain. I barked and barked all day long to keep from going insane.

So they brought me to the shelter but were embarrassed to say why. They said I caused an allergy, and then they each kissed me goodbye. If I’d only had some training as a little pup. I wouldn’t have been so hard to handle when I was all grown up.

“You only have one day left”, I heard a worker say. Does that mean I have a second chance? Do I go home today?

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The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2014/04/the-use-of-punishment-for-behavior-modification/ http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2014/04/the-use-of-punishment-for-behavior-modification/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 20:00:14 +0000 renee http://crossroadspetresort.com/?p=1000 The philosophy at Crossroads Pet Resort, home of Best Behavior Training, is that training should focus on reinforcing desired behaviors, removing any reinforcement for undesired behaviors and changing the emotional state of the dog that is driving any undesirable behavior. This approach is supported by the American Veterinary Society of Veterinary Behavior (AVSAB) in their Position Statement on the Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification. In this Statement, the AVSAB suggests that such an approach “promotes a better understanding of [...]

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The philosophy at Crossroads Pet Resort, home of Best Behavior Training, is that training should focus on reinforcing desired behaviors, removing any reinforcement for undesired behaviors and changing the emotional state of the dog that is driving any undesirable behavior. This approach is supported by the American Veterinary Society of Veterinary Behavior (AVSAB) in their Position Statement on the Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification. In this Statement, the AVSAB suggests that such an approach “promotes a better understanding of the pet’s behavior and better awareness of how humans may have inadvertently contributed to the development of the undesirable behavior”. Although punishment may have its place and it can be very effective in specific cases, it should not be used as a first-line treatment in training due to its potential adverse effects.

To read the full AVSAB Position Statement: http://avsabonline.org/uploads/position_statements/Combined_Punishment_Statements.pdf

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Born to Run? http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2014/01/born-to-run/ http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2014/01/born-to-run/#comments Wed, 22 Jan 2014 19:10:04 +0000 renee http://crossroadspetresort.com/?p=980 Dogs are our best friends and many people enjoy taking their dog with them when they run, roller-blade, bike or hike. While most dogs will be thrilled to have their leash hooked on and will explode with joy over the upcoming outing, they may or not actually be able to handle the task. Before engaging in any type of endurance exercise, your dog should have reached maturity and his growth plates should have closed. Although it depends on the breed, [...]

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Dogs arzepe our best friends and many people enjoy taking their dog with them when they run, roller-blade, bike or hike. While most dogs will be thrilled to have their leash hooked on and will explode with joy over the upcoming outing, they may or not actually be able to handle the task.

Before engaging in any type of endurance exercise, your dog should have reached maturity and his growth plates should have closed. Although it depends on the breed, 18 months can be a good benchmark. The breed of your dog will factor as to the level of exertion that is safe for him.  Short-nosed dogs (e.g. pugs) and giant breeds (e.g. Great Danes) are not the best choices for endurance sports. Some typical examples are:

·         Golden and Labrador retrievers have moderate to high energy levels and will be happiest covering shorter distances at a faster pace, although can be trained for a slow, long run.

·         Huskies and Malamutes are both exceptional runners and are well known as Iditarod dogs, although they will not do well in warm weather.

·         Herding dogs, such as Shepherds, Collies, and Heelers are great for short sprints but are not distance runners.

·         Pointers (e.g. Weimeraners, Vizslas) love to run for long distances and can run very fast.

·         A common misconception is that Greyhounds are good runners. They are in fact, a bit lazy, and can run very fast for 2 to 3 miles and then will nap for the rest of the day! Sprinters, yes. Distance runners, no.

·         Boxers, although short-nosed, are actually quite good runners, but because of their short muzzle, breathing issues can arise in the heat.  

·         Pitbulls are very active but not bred for long distance running; however they can be ideal for 5 to 10 mile runs.

It is important to remember that there are individual differences within breed types and regardless of the breed, it is up to you to monitor your dog’s health throughout the process – that is, both during the exercise and while your dog is resting.  Do not assess your dog’s state based on how you feel. We cool ourselves through sweat, but dogs can only pant and use small sweat glands in their feet. Panting is a dog’s natural cooling system, but panting uses an internal water reserve so it makes dogs easily susceptible to dehydration. There is a loss of water to the blood as a result of increasing body temperature and this places a strain on the circulatory system which can lead to organ failure and death. The result can be permanent organ damage even if a dog survives from overheating.

Panting is the first sign that your dog is working to cool itself. The tongue will become fatter and brighter the longer and harder your dog works. It may begin to curl at the end or look like a paddle. Signs of dehydration are the thickening of saliva, loss of coordination, and/or wide, glassy eyes. Vomiting, diarrhea, and listlessness are more serious signs to be aware of. Eventually a dog will become unresponsive and slip into a coma.

It is important that you do not push your dog beyond its limits as most dogs will keep going beyond exhaustion to keep up with their owners. By the time your dog has slowed down, tongue hanging out and heavily panting, it may be too late.

Always check with your vet before beginning any new exercise routine and slowly ease into running or any long distance activities. You have to build up your dog’s endurance gradually. Start with a half a mile, up to a mile, every other day and do not add more than 10 percent distance every week.

When you do go out with your dog for any length of time, always bring water and allow your dog frequent water breaks. Also bring along high-protein treats that contain fat (a dogs’ endurance is fat based fuel). And always closely watch your dog. Pay attention to what his body is telling you and even if he is running right along with you, if he is showing signs of heavy panting, stop and take a break. It could save your dog’s life. disc dog

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Get Up and Get Moving! http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2013/04/get-up-and-get-moving/ http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2013/04/get-up-and-get-moving/#comments Mon, 01 Apr 2013 23:50:49 +0000 renee http://crossroadspetresort.com/?p=813 In the U.S. , excess calories and minimal movement are creating a health crisis for both people and dogs. Not only people, but our dogs and cats too are suffering from being overweight or obese. Some research suggests 40% of our dogs are overweight and they suffer from the same complications that overweight people do such as joint pain and heart disease. It is often a daunting task just to get started with an exercise program. Many programs recommend getting [...]

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tips for successful outingsIn the U.S. , excess calories and minimal movement are creating a health crisis for both people and dogs. Not only people, but our dogs and cats too are suffering from being overweight or obese. Some research suggests 40% of our dogs are overweight and they suffer from the same complications that overweight people do such as joint pain and heart disease.

It is often a daunting task just to get started with an exercise program. Many programs recommend getting started with a partner.  Enter….your dog! Walking or running is an excellent way for all species to get back into shape. Among other benefits, a recent study suggested that there is a release of hormones in people and dogs – the “runner’s high” – that comes from intense activity. Our dogs are almost always ready for a brisk walk, so they provide us the perfect motivation to get up and out.

Too much all at once equals sore muscles and the need to rest once again so easing into a walking-running program is the way to start and stick with it. For example, try starting with just 20 minutes, alternating 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking. Working out just 3 days a week, these intervals should continue to increase progressively until it is all running for 30 minutes (it doesn’t have to be at marathon speed – even fast walking alternated with normal pace will get your heart rate up).  (Check out Pooch to 5k at www.poochto5k.com to download free training programs that you can do with your dog).

When walking, hiking, biking, or running with your dog, be sure to use commonsense as our dogs can’t tell us when they are finding it too tough. You have to adapt your regime to your dog’s ability and a slow, progressive buildup, moderation and adequate recovery are all essential. Know when your dog has had too much. For example, he starts lagging, a change in the jingling sound of the collar tag (could indicate a change in the dog’s gait indicating pain or injury), panting harder than usual, or if your dog is still sluggish the next day he may be experiencing aches and pains – a dog should be recovered from exercise by the next day.

It is also important to exercise commonsense to ensure you do not trip over your dog, especially if running together. Before embarking on a training program that includes jogging or running, make sure your dog knows to walk on a loose lead and to stay at your side (or ahead on a 6′ lead). Spare yourself the skinned knees and fractured bones by teaching your dog proper leash manners.

Many people have found that once they get into a routine with their dog, whether it’s walking or running, their dog gets hooked and this in turn motivates the owners. The dog turns into a demanding coach. And to be worthy of your partner and coach, you will continue to get up and get going!

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All I Want For Christmas….. http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2011/12/all-i-want-for-christmas/ http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2011/12/all-i-want-for-christmas/#comments Wed, 21 Dec 2011 22:43:13 +0000 renee http://crossroadspetresort.com/?p=502 The holidays are upon us, and, if you are anything like me, your dogs will be receiving holiday gifts too. (It isn’t just me that does this, right??). But before you order that really cute squeaky toy for your pit bull, or that yummy meat bone fo buy kamagra r your old lab, give some thought to what the best toys actually would be for your particular dog. The type of toy you purchase must reflect your dog’s age, size, [...]

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The holidays are upon us, and, if you are anything like me, your dogs will be receiving holiday gifts too. (It isn’t just me that does this, right??). But before you order that really cute squeaky toy for your pit bull, or that yummy meat bone fo

r your old lab, give some thought to what the best toys actually would be for your particular dog.

The type of toy you purchase must reflect your dog’s age, size, and breeding. The pressure from a dog’s jaw can be close to 450 pounds per square inch (depending on the size and breed of dog), so the toy you give your German Shepherd will be very different from what you give your little Yorkie. If you happen to have a multiple dog household and the dogs vary in size and weight, you need to be even more careful so that your large dog doesn’t get a hold of a toy meant for your small dog, which the large dog could easily swallow.

For all dogs, stay away from old shoes and socks. These items smell like you and your dog can’t be expected to know the difference between an old shoe and your new pair. Additionally, veterinarians will tell you how often they must surgically remove personal items from dogs’ gastrointestinal tract. Don’t encourage your dog to chew on any of your personal items.

Along the same lines, check out your yard and play areas for things that your dog might turn into a chew toy. Dogs often have a tendency to chew on things such as rocks, sticks, and plants and these can easily be swallowed too.

Many dogs love a squeaky toy. If you have a tiny little dog, you may get away with a latex toy, but larger dogs can easily rip these apart and ingest the parts. Fleece type squeak toys are also popular with many dogs, but again, if your dog tends to rip them apart within minutes, these might not be the best choice as your dog could swallow the squeaker and/or stuffing. There are some toys that crinkle instead of squeak and others that are made without filling, so options exist depending on your dog’s preference and play style.

A good choice in a toy is an indestructible one. Pick one that is big enough that your dog can’t swallow it. Many of the hard rubber toys are hollow or have a space that can be stuffed with dog food or treats, turning the toy into a “food puzzle”. The toy should also be resistant to your dog’s personal chewing habits and play style. Safe toys must also be void of any parts that can break off and be swallowed.

Whatever toys your dog may have, be sure to remove them once they crack, fray, or otherwise start to come apart. Also, pay attention to your dog. Older dogs may have bad teeth or gum disease and may have trouble grasping toys or chewing hard bones may hurt.

If your dog does ingest a toy, see your veterinarian immediately. Signs that your dog might have swallowed a foreign object include vomiting, lack of appetite, and belly pain or discomfort, as well as retching, or excessive salivation, especially if lodged in the esophagus. The sooner you get your dog to the vet, the greater the likelihood of a favorable outcome. Don’t let your dog become a statistic.

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Buyer Beware http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2011/12/buyer-beware/ http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2011/12/buyer-beware/#comments Sat, 03 Dec 2011 01:20:06 +0000 renee http://crossroadspetresort.com/?p=482 The pet training industry is seriously lacking in any type of governing body that provides certification to trainers or behaviorists. At present, anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a dog trainer and, in most cases, an animal beha Viagra online without prescription viorist as well. This is a cause of concern because there is also a lack of education to the general pet-owning public about the differences between a dog trainer and an animal behaviorist as well [...]

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The pet training industry is seriously lacking in any type of governing body that provides certification to trainers or behaviorists. At present, anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a dog trainer and, in most cases, an animal beha

viorist as well. This is a cause of concern because there is also a lack of education to the general pet-owning public about the differences between a dog trainer and an animal behaviorist as well as what to look for when choosing to hire either a trainer or behaviorist. It is very much a “buyer beware” situation.

To help shed some light and provide some much needed education, let’s fist discuss the functional job of both the dog trainer and the animal behaviorist:

  • A dog trainer handles basic obedience training. Come, sit, down, stay, etc.
  • An animal behaviorist assesses and treats behavioral problems, but typically can also provide obedience training as well.

That sounds pretty straightforward, right? Right, except for the fact that many dog trainers call themselves behaviorists simply because they can (remember…no governing body). So the next area for clarification is the difference in the qualifications:

  • A dog trainer may or may not have any formal education. A “trainer” may have taken an on-line training course then set off on his or her own or maybe just loves dogs, trained his or her own dog, and now sells dog training services. Others have studied with seasoned well-respected trainers and have worked with many dogs and attended many dog-training conferences to achieve a high level of skill. The level of expertise of dog trainers varies greatly.
  • An animal behaviorist typically has received a graduate degree (Master’s or Ph.D.) and has completed a research-based thesis or dissertation in their field of specialization. This academic training provides some assurance that the individual: Is familiar with scientific literature documenting research on animal behavior of dogs (which can then be used to assess and treat behavior problems); and understands learning theory and when to implement various reinforcement schedules, desensitization, counter-conditioning, and other behavioral modification techniques.

What does all this mean to the pet owner looking for help with their dog? It means do your homework. First, understand what your needs are. Do you simply want to teach your dog some basic manners (obedience commands)? If so, a dog trainer is a great choice. But when choosing a trainer, know what questions to ask to weed out those who are truly qualified from those who “want-to-be”. Do not base your decision on who is offering the lowest price. Often inexperienced trainers will low-ball their prices to increase their volume and gain experience. You do not want them gaining that experience through trial and error on your dog. While dog training is not brain surgery, a bad trainer can cost you money in the long run if you subsequently must find someone else to fix the problems that either did not get solved or that surfaced as a result of bad training. Not to mention the possibly irreversible toll it might take on your poor dog. Here are some questions to ask:

  1. What tools do you use? Avoid trainers who insist on one type of equipment or technique.
  2. How do you get behavior from a dog? Answer is lure it, shape it or capture it. Avoid those who use leash pops, choke chains, or other physical prompts.
  3. If a trainer uses the lure and reward method, ask them when the proper time is for adding the verbal command. Is it before your lure, as you lure, or after you lure? Correct answer is before you lure. This is basic training 101. If they don’t get it right, steer clear.
  4. Do you offer a guarantee? Again, steer clear of anyone who does because they do not understand animal behavior. It’s just not possible to guarantee the behavior of another living being.
  5. What motivators do you use? Avoid trainers who refuse to use food as a reward. Food is a powerful motivator. The best trainers will use food, toys, play, pets, and praise.
  6. Observe the trainer in action. Are the people smiling and dogs having a good time? If the dogs’ tails are between their legs and people aren’t having fun, find someone else. If the trainer won’t let you observe, find someone else.
  7. Ask what methodology is used. Look for a trainer that emphasizes rewarding good behavior rather than punishing unacceptable behaviors.
  8. Ask for references from clients and other professionals such as veterinarians.

If you need help with behavioral problems, you will want to look for a behaviorist. As noted above, most will have some type of advanced degree or training in animal behavior. However, that is not to say that many experienced and qualified trainers who do not have an actual degree are not capable of behavior work. Because of the lack of certification and the relative newness of advanced degrees in animal behavior, many trainers took it upon themselves to study under other qualified animal behaviorists and although these trainers lack a formal degree, they nevertheless are very qualified to handle behavior problems. As in any career, it is unfair to state that a degree automatically makes one person more qualified than another, as experience counts for a whole heck of a lot. So again, if you seek help with a behavior problem, be sure that the person you select either has a formal Applied (or Associate Applied) Animal Behaviorist designation, or an advanced degree in animal behavior, and has proven experience (including success stories from clients and other professionals). You can use the questions above as well as a few additional ones to weed out your choice:

1. Ask if they use Operant or Classical Conditioning. Answer should be both. Then ask them to define each. (Classical is about associations between two things i.e. pairing; Operant is about the relationship between a behavior and its consequences).

2. Ask them when treating fears, what is their preferred method and why. Without going into a lesson on fears, most often the best method is through desensitization and counter-conditioning.

3. After explaining your behavior problem to them, do they ask you about your last veterinary exam? Often medical problems pose as behavioral ones and ruling out such a problem is critical to success.

4. If the individual suggests obedience training as your solution, move on. While obedience is typically a necessary component, it will not solve a behavior problem.

5. Ask how they would deal with a food-guarding problem – do they set the dog up and punish it hard for aggressing or do they gradually teach the dog to accept someone meddling around its food bowl by reinforcing good behavior? (This would be the right approach).

Someday perhaps, trainers and behaviorists alike will be governed by a formal body that prohibits the use of such titles without certain educational and applied requirements being met. Until that time, ask questions and do your homework. Buyer Beware.

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Job Description: Couch Potato* http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2011/11/job-description-couch-potato/ http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2011/11/job-description-couch-potato/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2011 22:05:43 +0000 renee http://crossroadspetresort.com/?p=462 What does your dog do all day while you are away at work? For that matter, what does your dog do all day when you are home?? The answer for most dogs is……sleep. Have you ever just sat and watched your dog? Sometimes when I just sit and wa how to work at home tch TV or read a book (or play the piano or garden, etc.), I look over at my dogs and feel remorseful that I am “entertaining” [...]

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What does your dog do all day while you are away at work? For that matter, what does your dog do all day when you are home??

The answer for most dogs is……sleep.

Have you ever just sat and watched your dog? Sometimes when I just sit and wa

tch TV or read a book (or play the piano or garden, etc.), I look over at my dogs and feel remorseful that I am “entertaining” myself and they are…….sleeping. Sometimes it “guilts” me into getting up and taking them for a walk. But even then, an hour or so later, I am on to something else and they are……yep, sleeping. Ok, dogs do sleep much more than we do, but some mental and physical stimulation throughout the day is necessary for their total well-being.

While different breeds were bred for different jobs, such as finding prey, herding sheep, or retrieving game birds, all dogs were meant to live active lives. (Did you know that hunting or scavenging for food is almost a full-time job for wild dogs??) The good news is that you don’t have to take up hunting or purchase livestock in order to bring enrichment into your dog’s life. There are many practical ways to provide your dog with mental and physical exercise, thereby relieving boredom and excess energy.

Interactive Activities (Things to do together)

  • Walk – good for your body and good for your dog’s. Take different routes and check out different places so your dog can experience new sights and smells. This is a good option for weekends when you don’t have to go to work.
  • Chase – also good exercise for your dog (and for you if you have your dog chase you!). Dogs typically love to chase and some will chase until they are exhausted. You can tie a favorite toy to the end of a rope and attach the other end to a long stick (we use lunge whips purchased from a feed store). Drag the toy around, twirl it around in a big circle and snap it up into the air so your dog can chase after it.
  • Fetch – not as good for your body, but still good for your dog’s so this a good option when you come home from work and it’s too late or you’re too tired for a walk.
  • Tug-of-war – depending on the size of your dog, you may or may not get a workout too! Many dogs love this game as it allows them an outlet for their desire to grab and pull. There are important rules to this game however: your dog must only grab the toy when you tell him to and he must release the toy when you tell him to. Do not play this game if your dog ever exhibits aggression toward you over articles.
  • Find it – it is always amazing to watch how powerful a dog’s sense of smell is. Start off easy – with your dog in a different room, hide a few pieces of kibble in one room in places that will be easy for your dog to find. You can even put a few in partial view. You want your dog to be successful. Get your dog and tell her to “find it” just before she enters the room. Then sit back and watch. You might have to point out a few of them at first, but once she has learned the “game”, you can hide treats in increasingly harder places and allow her to use her nose and wear herself out.
  • Hide-and-seek – instead of finding treats, let your dog find you! A side benefit is that it can teach your dog to love coming when called! Vary the difficulty of your hiding places depending on the tenaciousness of your dog to actually continue to search for you.
  • Sports – if you like to really get out for more than just a walk and want to spend time with other like-minded people and dogs, there are many different sports that you can do with your dog, such as agility, flyball, tracking, hearding, dancing (musical freestyle), go-to-ground (for the little terriers), lure coursing, weight pulling and carting. You can Google them for more information and contact information for each organization.
  • Training is another way to bond with your dog, stimulate your dog’s mind and develop a communication link between you. Enroll in a reward-based training class (at Crossroads!)

Solo Activities (Things for your dog to do when alone)

  • Chew – Dogs need to chew to keep their jaws strong and teeth clean. They also chew for fun, and to relieve boredom or anxiety. Give your dog plenty of appropriate things to chew on like nylabones, marrow bones, and bully sticks.
  • Food Puzzles – if you stuff them creatively, these can keep your dog occupied for hours! A food puzzle is usually made of hard plastic or rubber with holes on the sides or ends, which allow you to put foodstuff inside but do not give your dog easy access to the food. (Can be purchased at any pet store). Dogs have to muzzle, paw, roll, shake or lick the toy to get the food out….lots of good problem-solving to help pass the time away. At first, make it easy for your dog to empty it (e.g. use small pieces of food that easily fall out) then as your dog gets better at it, use bigger pieces or freeze it after stuffing it.
  • Scavenger Hunt – by nature dogs are scavengers, so why not let your dog hunt for his meals? You can scatter it around your yard or patio, hide small piles around the house, or even stuff a food puzzle toy with his meal and make him work for food.
  • Daycare – dogs are social animals and most do better when they can engage with others, whether human or canine. When your hectic schedule makes it difficult to work in extra time with your dog, Doggy Daycare is a great way to provide your dog all the mental and physical stimulation she needs and give you peace of mind that your dog is happy and safe. Even if you do set aside time for your dog each day, going to doggy daycare at least once or twice a week allows your dog to experience canine companionship and develop (or maintain) proper canine social skills.

If you have any questions about this article or your dog in general, we are here to help. Call us at 714-821-6622. Wags, Woofs, and Behavior Self!

 

 

* From: Enriching your dog’s life, ASPCA. Retrieved 8-24-10 from http://www/aspcabehavior.org

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The Simple Solution to Dog Behavior Problems?? http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2011/10/the-simple-solution-to-dog-behavior-problems/ http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2011/10/the-simple-solution-to-dog-behavior-problems/#comments Thu, 27 Oct 2011 22:01:45 +0000 renee http://crossroadspetresort.com/?p=455 Does your dog bark, jump up, dig, pull on leash, or perform some other unwanted behavior? The good news, according to many training “experts” is that solving these problems is easy. If you want to solve any behavior problem your dog might ha buy viagra in canada ve, all you have to do is remember one simple rule: dogs repeat behaviors that pay off for the dog. That is, if the behavior is reinforced, the dog will continue to repeat [...]

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Does your dog bark, jump up, dig, pull on leash, or perform some other unwanted behavior? The good news, according to many training “experts” is that solving these problems is easy.

If you want to solve any behavior problem your dog might ha

ve, all you have to do is remember one simple rule: dogs repeat behaviors that pay off for the dog. That is, if the behavior is reinforced, the dog will continue to repeat the behavior. Let’s say, for example, that your dog greets you by jumping up on you and you respond by yelling and pushing him away. If, despite your response, your dog continues to jump on you, then your behavior (yelling and pushing, which are both forms of attention) is actually reinforcing your dog and he will continue to jump to greet you. To stop the unwanted behavior, remove the reinforcer, (i.e. your attention). Instead of yelling and pushing, stand perfectly still until your dog stops jumping and has four-on-the-floor, preferably in a sitting position, then pet him. Easy right? Wrong. Read on…..

Although the concept of removing whatever is reinforcing the behavior and rewarding a more appropriate behavior sounds easy, the actual application of it can be a bit more difficult in real life because it is hard to be consistent. For example, you tell yourself before you walk inside the house that you are going to ignore your dog and just wait it out until he sits. You have it all planned out in your head. You are going to stand as still and silent as a tree until he sits, no matter what. Then, you walk inside the house, your arms full of groceries and your dog, as usual, persistently jumps up on you. You stand still even as the groceries begin to weigh heavy in your arms. Soon your dog starts whining and jumping and getting even more carried away and, in one of his exuberant jumps up, snags his nails across your arm causing it to bleed. “OUCH” you yell as you walk over to the counter, put the bags down and perform first-aid treatment to your arm. Your dog is even more excited now that you have spoken and moved and he continues to jump on you. You turn to him and yell “NO” and push him off. “AH HA” your dog thinks….”all I have to do is persist to get your attention”. Now, your jumping problem becomes even worse and just waiting it out will become even harder to do.

Ok, so maybe this scenario is a bit extreme, but you get the idea; stuff happens. And when stuff happens, consistency goes out the window and so does your training. So, what do the training experts suggest you do? They simply tell you to start being consistent. Wait? What? We already know that in real-life consistency isn’t likely to happen. So are you supposed to just live with an out-of-control dog and hope he calms down with age? No, of course not. There are things you can do to improve your dog’s behavior. Training is one of those things, and yes, when you train, you need to be as consistent as possible. For the behaviors you do decide to train, your training plan needs to be set up in a manner that fits with your individual lifestyle so that you can be as consistent as possible. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to training. If you are having trouble being consistent in your training, it is a good idea to consult with a trainer who can help you develop a plan that will work for you. Any really good trainer will look at all the variables in your life and put together a personalized plan that you can stick to.

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Learning, motivation, and Rewards http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2011/09/learning-motivation-and-rewards/ http://crossroadspetresort.com/index.php/2011/09/learning-motivation-and-rewards/#comments Fri, 09 Sep 2011 20:47:26 +0000 renee http://crossroadspetresort.com/?p=444 Learning is motivational. Here are some facts: Those who are engaged in a subject matter by the instructor will enjoy the process and learn more than those who are bored to tears during instruction. Motiva cheap cialis online tion ( Purchase cialis online and learning) is enhanced when the information to be taught is organized in a way that is meaningful to the individual. Feedback and reinforcement increase motivation. Incentives motivate learning. So, what do these facts have to do [...]

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Learning is motivational. Here are some facts:

  • Those who are engaged in a subject matter by the instructor will enjoy the process and learn more than those who are bored to tears during instruction.
  • Motiva

    tion (

    and learning) is enhanced when the information to be taught is organized in a way that is meaningful to the individual.

  • Feedback and reinforcement increase motivation.
  • Incentives motivate learning.

So, what do these facts have to do with training dogs? Read on……

As trainers, our goal is to keep dogs in their homes (and out of shelters) so we work with clients and their dogs on a daily basis to help bring harmony between the two species. Before working with the dog, we will ask the client what are the dog’s favorite things that he or she would want to work for? Usually the answer is food or toys and so we explain to the owner that we will use those things to reward the dog for good behavior and to motivate the dog to continue to work for us. It is at this point that some owners start to object and tell us that they do not want to use food (or toys). They will say things like, “I want my dog to do what it is asked because I expect it to”. Or, “I want the dog to do what it is asked out of a desire to please me”.

It is unfortunate that the importance of motivation is not recognized between species. If you think about it, everything we do is influenced by motivation. We do things because it brings intrinsic value, it avoids conflict or harm, it gets recognized (rewarded) by others, it provides for us or our families, it moves us closer to an end goal….the list goes on. So why should it be any different for our dogs? The answer is it shouldn’t be and it isn’t.

Our dogs do “love” us, but they are motivated by the consequences of their actions, not by their love for us. If the consequence of listening to a command brings them our squeals of praise and a generous petting, (assuming that the dogs finds this a pleasant thing), then the dog will continue to listen to our commands. If the consequence of not listening to our commands brings them a time out away from us, or a harsh reprimand, the dog will learn that not listening does not pay off. Think of it this way: Dogs will repeat behaviors that are followed by something they find pleasant; Dogs will not repeat behaviors that are followed by something they find unpleasant or that result in nothing happening at all. In other words, reward your dog for doing things that you like; ignore or reprimand those things that your dog does that you don’t like.

So let’s talk about rewards. What exactly is a reward? It is anything the individual (in this case, the dog) wants at that moment in time. It is something immediately meaningful to him or her. Yes, sometimes that might be a food reward; sometimes a toy, a petting, a walk, a drink of water, a word of praise, chasing a squirrel….the list could be quite lengthy. But one thing a reward is not: It is not a bribe. A bribe is offered before the requested behavior is performed. For example, you tell your young son that you will buy him an ice cream cone if he cleans his room. Likewise, you show your dog a yummy treat before you ask him to sit. Both of these are bribes because the individuals receiving the bribe know about it before they perform any behavior asked of them.

Now let’s look at it another way. You ask your young son to clean his room. To your surprise, he immediately goes to his room and tidies up. When he is done, you tell him that because he did what you asked so willingly, you are going to take him out for an ice cream cone. Likewise, you ask your dog to sit. After your dog sits, you walk over to the cupboard, grab a treat and give it to him. In both of these cases the same things (i.e. ice cream and a treat) have turned into rewards because they are produced after a behavior has been performed and without the individual having any knowledge that they were coming.

Ok, big deal, huh? Yes, it is a big deal. When you resort to bribes, you get stuck having to use them all the time to get a desired response. When you fail to produce the bribe, you fail to get a response. It makes sense: if the individual knows you aren’t going to pay out, there is no motivation for the individual respond. However, when you use rewards, the individual learns that when they behave as you expect them to behave (or do what you ask them to do) good things often happen, so they learn that it is in their best interest to do as requested so that something good will come their way. And, it usually does. It may not always be an ice cream cone or a treat, but it will be something desired such as your praise or a big thank you for your child, or praise or a pet for your dog, and these simple things then motivate future behavior.

People who do not want to use rewards when training their dog have typically fallen victim to using bribes or have been influenced by people who confuse the two or who fail to understand the importance of motivation in getting behavior. But hopefully now you have been enlightened and see the importance of using rewards to motivate learning and behavior. So back to the beginning:

  • Those who are engaged in a subject matter by the instructor will enjoy the process and learn more than those who are bored to tears during instruction:
    • make the training fun for the dog and the dog will want to work for you.
  • Motivation (and learning) is enhanced when the information to be taught is organized in a way that is meaningful to the individual:
    • by rewarding behavior you want, dog learns what behaviors payoff and which do not and will repeat only those that do.
  • Feedback and reinforcement increase motivation:
    • dogs, and people, like good things to happen and are thusly motivated.
  • Incentives motivate learning:
    • each reward provides incentive for future learning as a way to earn more rewards.

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