Warning Signs Before Starting Canine Massage Therapy

When you contact a massage practitioner about your dog, one of the first questions she should ask you is whether and when your dog has been seen by your veterinarian. Be wary of any practitioner who would work on your animal with an illness or injury if you haven’t at least tried to get a […]
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Beware Blue-Green Algae Poisoning

The post Beware Blue-Green Algae Poisoning by Jackie Brown appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.
Toxic blue-green algae blooms have been identified in all 50 states. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is found in stagnant freshwater sources like ponds and lakes during warm weather. The Michelson Found Animals Foundation shares the following tips for keeping your dog safe: Inspect water before allowing your dog to swim. Bluegreen algae looks like green slime …
The post Beware Blue-Green Algae Poisoning by Jackie Brown appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Confused Dog Refuses To Leave Porch After Family Moves Away

One day, a family in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania packed up their things and moved away. But they left something very important behind: a sweet brown dog. The dog continued to sleep on the porch, just outside the home he knew. His family never returned for him. Still, he waited. Janine Guido, founder of nearby Speranza Animal […]
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Rescue Staff Helps Service Dog Diagnosed With Cancer Complete “Bucket List”

Wonka the service dog has only spent a few years on this planet, but he’s managed to accomplish so much in that time. In the last two months since his diagnosis with terminal cancer, the 6-year-old Golden Retriever has been even busier than usual. Hearts Alive Village, the rescue organization where Wonka works, put together a […]
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Hungry Mama Dog And Litter Found Freezing In Minnesota Snowdrift

In January, a pregnant dog needed a place to have her litter of puppies. All she had was a snowdrift to lie in, and that’s where she had 6 pups. Soon, the poor malnourished mama stopped producing sufficient milk to feed her little babies. Fortunately, a concerned family discovered the hungry, huddled family and drove […]
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The City and County of Denver Dog Bite Statistics by Breed and Injury Severity Over a Three Year Period (2017-2019)

Denver dog bite statistics over a three year period: 2017, 2018 and 2019. Denver, CO – On February 24, Denver City Council members will determine if they can override the mayor’s veto of the pit bull ban repeal. Nine votes … Continue reading →
The post The City and County of Denver Dog Bite Statistics by Breed and Injury Severity Over a Three Year Period (2017-2019) appeared first on DogsBite Blog.

Weekly Pet Quiz: Toxic Food, Aggressive Cat and Arthritis

1 A current total of 35 class action lawsuits brought by pet parents across the U.S. against Hill’s Pet Nutrition for toxic levels of ________ in dog food have been combined into a single federal lawsuit.
Vitamin D
A current total of 35 class action lawsuits brought by pet parents across the U.S. against Hill’s Pet Nutrition for toxic levels of vitamin D in dog food have been combined into a single federal lawsuit. Learn more.

2 What is one thing you can do to manage an aggressive cat?
Feed them kibble
Avoid aggression triggers
Tips for managing an aggressive cat include avoiding triggers when possible, recognizing the look of a kitty who’s about to become aggressive, and teaching your cat to obey commands to receive things she values. Learn more.
Lock them away

3 There is nothing you can do to prevent your dog from getting arthritis.
Arthritis in dogs is common today and has several causes; the good news is there are many things pet parents can do to help their canine companions avoid this debilitating condition. Learn more.

4 Puppies who aren’t properly _________ during their first 3 months are at dramatically increased risk for behavior problems like aggression, fear and avoidance.
Puppies who aren’t properly socialized during their first 3 months are at dramatically increased risk for behavior problems like aggression, fear and avoidance — these are dogs who, fill animal shelters and rescue facilities across the U.S. Learn more.

5 ______ can be a part of your pet’s detoxification protocol, and also offers soothing relief for hot spots and mouth sores.
Green tea
Green tea can also be a part of your pet’s detoxification protocol, and also offers soothing relief for hot spots and mouth sores. Learn more.


5 Good Reasons Why Your Dog Needs to Chew

You may have noticed that chewing is one of your dog’s favorite pastimes. Not only is your Canis lupus familiaris (domesticated dog) a natural chewer, but she also uses her mouth to explore her environment, picking up objects to see how they feel and taste.
There are actually lots of other reasons dogs chew, some of which are beneficial, and others, not so much!
Benefits of Chewing for Dogs

1. It’s a boredom and stress buster — Boredom and stress or anxiety are often triggers for humans who bite their nails. It can be an unconscious response you don’t even notice until it’s too late to save your manicure. For dogs, chewing on anything available can serve a similar purpose. Dogs who are chronically under stimulated physically and/or mentally are likely to do more chewing than their well-exercised and therefore calmer, counterparts.
2. It’s good for teeth, gums and jaw muscles — Adult dogs chew to brush and floss their teeth, massage their gums, and work their powerful jaw muscles. Puppies and young dogs who are still teething often chew in an attempt to relieve itching or pain.

3. It can help your dog learn to spend time alone — Pups and adult dogs who are regularly given a private spot and plenty of time to chew on a food-stuffed toy or raw, meaty bone learn to spend time alone — which makes them much less likely to develop separation anxiety.
Since I always recommend that you supervise your dog whenever he’s chewing on a raw recreational bone, it’s important to offer only food-stuffed or treat-release toys when you leave him home alone.
4. Chewing the right things prevents chewing the wrong things — Since puppies and dogs are hard-wired to chew and will do so with or without your blessing, the best way to preserve your own possessions is to ensure your canine family member has plenty of his own approved items to chew.
5. It’s doggone satisfying — “I sit watching one of my dogs chewing on a raw beef shank bone and wonder at how blissful the experience seems to be for him,” writes dog behavior expert Dr. Stanley Coren. “There appears to be no better canine sedative than a bone to gnaw on.”1

When Your Dog’s Chewing Is Abnormal

It’s rare, but an underlying medical condition can be the cause of a dog’s chewing, such as tooth or gum problems, oral masses, certain neurologic conditions, stomach or gastrointestinal (GI) issues, or a medication that causes extreme hunger.
Some dogs suffer from a condition called pica, which is a compulsive behavior that causes them to chew and often swallow strange non-food items such as rocks, dirt, or soap.
Needless to say, if you suspect your dog has an underlying medical problem or compulsion that may be causing abnormal chewing behavior, make an appointment with your veterinarian to have her checked out.
I have found that many “misbehaved” dogs who seem compelled to consume certain things have some type of underlying medical issue. This became overwhelmingly clear to me when I studied applied zoopharmacognosy with Caroline Ingraham. If your dog consistently exhibits the same annoying chewing or eating behaviors, she’s very likely trying to communicate with you, not annoy you.
When Your Dog’s Chewing Is Destructive

Destructive chewing is most commonly seen in bored, anxious, or stressed dogs. One common cause is separation anxiety in dogs left alone at home. If you arrive home to find a chewed-up crate, baby gate, door, or window frame, chances are your dog was trying to escape the house as a way of coping with his anxiety.
Many dogs naturally grow bored when their humans are away from home all day, and this can lead to destructive chewing. Leaving a dog home alone for 8 or 10 hours is similar in many ways to leaving a toddler alone for that long. Boredom that leads to destructive chewing can also be due to lack of adequate exercise, playtime, or mental stimulation on a daily basis.
In addition, changes in your dog’s routine, or the loss or addition of a family member (two- or four-legged) can create stress that may lead to destructive chewing.
Fortunately, problem chewing can be redirected to appropriate items for the sake of your dog’s health as well as your belongings. But keep in mind that until he has learned what he can and can’t chew, it’s up to you to make sure he doesn’t have opportunities to chew forbidden objects.
First, Redirect Your Dog’s Chewing Behavior

This is the very first step in resolving an issue with destructive chewing. However, until your dog is fully trained, make sure to keep anything you don’t want chewed out of her reach. This is the responsibility of everyone in the household. A good rule to live by: “If you make it available and the dog chews it, it’s on you, not the dog.”
Secondly, make sure your dog has plenty of her own toys and other appropriate things to chew on. Also make sure none of her toys resemble or are, in fact, household items. If you give her an old sock or slipper to play with, don’t be surprised or annoyed when you find her chewing something brand new. Dogs don’t know the difference between old and new.
Provide a variety of safe, non-toxic toys of varying textures that range from soft and squishy to firmer and less pliable. Until you know your dog’s preferences for what type of toy or chew provides the most chew-satisfaction for your own dog, offer a variety of natural options and allow your dog to choose. For more information about what edible bones are safest for pets, catch my review here.
The goal in modifying your dog’s behavior is to give her every opportunity to succeed, and no chance to fail. When she picks up an inappropriate item in her mouth, grab a treat and give her a “drop it” command. As soon as she complies, give her the treat and replace the item with one of her own toys. It’s extremely important that you do this consistently in order to successfully modify your dog’s behavior.
One thing you never want to do is give chase when she has something her mouth, because for many dogs the “Catch me if you can” game is great fun. During times when your dog will be home alone, the kindest and most effective way to prevent destructive chewing is to crate train her.
Next: Lots and Lots of Exercise

Dogs who get plenty of physical exercise and playtime are much less likely to develop destructive behaviors born of boredom and/or stress. As I always say, “A tired dog is a good dog.”
Giving your dog access to your fenced-in backyard, no matter how large and inviting it seems, won’t do the trick. This is because like us, dogs need a reason and incentive to exercise. That means you need to get out there with him and tire him out for at least 20 minutes, preferably twice a day.
If he likes to retrieve balls, you’ve got a built-in way to give him a good workout. For bigger dogs, a toy like the Chuckit! Ball Launcher works well to increase the distance he runs out and back. You can also take him on a power walk, or to the dog park, or on a hike or a bike ride. Change things up regularly so he doesn’t get bored.
I can’t stress this aspect of controlling behavior issues, including chewing, enough. Without exhausting your under-stimulated, mouthy dog on a twice-daily basis, he’ll continue to be under-stimulated and mouthy. A physically tired dog is a good dog.
Finally, Provide Plenty of Mental Stimulation

Keeping your dog’s mind active is also critically important in preventing undesirable behaviors like destructive chewing. Boredom is the breeding ground for “bad dogs,” including destructive chewers. In addition to daily activities to engage their brain, dogs should be continuously socialized throughout their lives with frequent opportunities to interact with other dogs, cats, and people.
Regular training sessions are also a great way to keep your dog’s mind occupied and strengthen the bond you share with him. Nose work, which encourages her to use her natural hunting instincts and scenting abilities, can be a great way to keep her mentally stimulated. Even allowing your dog to have 10 minutes a day of sniff-time in a natural area will enrich her senses and fulfill her need to experience the world through her nose.
And as I discussed earlier, don’t overlook the value of treat-release and food puzzle toys, which not only challenge your dog’s mind, but also provide appropriate objects for her to chew. I find the Treat & Train Manners Minder a great tool for this purpose.

It’s also a good idea to rotate your dog’s toys regularly. If you leave all of them out in a big basket, she may lose interest in them quickly. A better idea is to leave out one or two and put the rest away. In a day or two, swap them out. Also be sure to play with your dog using her toys; rigorous, engaging play sessions several times a day are a great way to her pent-up energy and bond with her at the same time.Sources:Bark Post

Public Lands Improvements

Rolling with the wee wolves yesterday. It’s hard to complain when we have over 300 miles of smooth bike path next to rivers and forests connecting Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh. On the section, below, they’re still working on putting in the new surface. This is the rough gravel that is […]

Canine Massage Case Reports

Aimee Johnson of Little Bear Animal Massage (littlebearanimalmassage.com) in St. Paul, MN, reports: One of my clients is a 13-year-old German Shepherd Dog, Izzy, who was referred to me by her traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) veterinarian, Dr. Deb Brown of Pequot Lakes (MN) Animal Hospital. Izzy is a former agility dog and has arthritis in […]
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Canine Massage Therapy

As a newly board-certified canine massage practitioner, I want to encourage everyone who is dedicated to their dogs to consider adding professional massage to their dogs’ healthcare plan. Who needs this? I would suggest every dog. For some dogs, it is essential; for the rest, it will enhance their lives, at a minimum. How so? […]
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No Pain, No Force, No Fear: An Interview With Niki Tudge

I’m very excited to have a fantastic guest with me today, Niki Tudge, who founded the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) in 2012. The PPG mission is to provide educational resources to pet care providers and the public that emphasize force-free pet training and professional pet care.
Following are the highlights of our discussion. You can download the full transcript at the link above.
One Terrified Dog Was the Inspiration for the Pet Professional Guild

Niki has been training dogs since 2002, and in 2006, she and her husband bought an animal hospital and pet resort. One afternoon, Niki was in a pet store buying supplies for her business and watched, horrified, as a trainer in the store was “literally choking a dog because it was reacting to other dogs.” The poor animal was howling in fear.
Niki found the manager and told him what she’d just witnessed. He insisted the trainer was following protocol and refused to discuss it further with her.

“I actually left the shopping cart, which had several hundred dollars’ worth of equipment, in the store,” Niki recalls. “I walked outside and burst into tears.”

That evening, as she went back over the incident in her mind, she thought, “Wow. How could this not only take place, but take place in such a large organization, and with people just passing by thinking it’s absolutely okay?”

Up to that day, Niki had been training dogs more as a hobby than a career, but on that day, she decided (with her husband’s blessing) to create a platform of sorts for like-minded professionals to come together to voice the need for force-free training and pet care.

“The voice doesn’t have to be an extreme voice,” Niki thought, “and it doesn’t have to be a critical voice. It just needs to be a voice that says ‘here is the science, here are the facts, and here are the ethics. This is where we should be taking this industry in this era.”

Niki has a background in business, so setting up and marketing her new venture wasn’t an intimidating experience for her. However, what was intimidating was the overall culture of the dog training and pet care professions.

“It is very much a whack-a-mole type of environment,” she explains, “where if you say something someone else doesn’t necessarily agree with — whack!”

Niki realized very quickly that she needed to surround herself with people who were true professionals with integrity and a similar vision, who could support and protect one another from the inevitable criticism they would encounter.
Today, the Pet Professional Guild has about 8,000 members according to Niki’s estimate. The organization has what she calls “unwavering” guiding principles and nonnegotiables. However, since PPG members are professionals, they exercise autonomy in how they run their businesses and the training techniques they use — as long as they stay within the parameters of nonpunitive methods (e.g., no yelling, shouting, or physical punishment).
PPG Provides Practical Business Advice to Its Membership

One of Niki’s goal with the PPG is to provide practical tools to members in the form of free webinars, handouts, and other types of information and training. Because she has a background in business, Niki quickly realized that lots of dog trainers leave the profession due not to a lack of training experience or skills, but because they don’t know how to set up or manage a business successfully.

“It broke my heart every time someone said, ‘I’m not renewing my membership because I’m just not able to make a living at this’,” says Niki. “I would think, ‘But you can! You absolutely can’.”

Like so many small operators, dog trainers who start their own businesses are required to be not only dog trainers, but public relations, marketing, financial, and human resources experts.
In my opinion as a practicing veterinarian, even though vets graduate with little to no background in animal training, we really need to be on the front lines in terms of referring clients to trainers who use positive, nonpunitive methods.
It would be wonderful to have a single resource to refer people to with complete confidence. It can make the difference between a pet who returns with his human to our practice year after year grounded and well-balanced, and a pet we never see again because his family dropped him off at the shelter due to his behavior problems.

We see this revolving door in veterinary medicine all the time. And the missing piece for us is being able to point pet owners in the right direction to get the help they need to build relationships with their animals rather than neurotically trying to control them.

PPG’s Guiding Principles and Programs
Niki’s goal in defining the PPG’s guiding principles was to make them not just groundbreaking, but also realistically achievable. For example, she looked at all the equipment dog trainers use, and advocated against any that are designed to inflict harm, such as choke, pronged and shock collars.
In terms of a philosophical approach, the PPG advocates for “no pain, no force, no fear” training methods. It’s important not to cause physical harm; it’s also important not to approach training with the mindset “you will do this, or else.” The goal is to foster good dog-human relationships.
As time went on, it became necessary to more clearly define certain terms, such as “no force,” because it means different things to different people. Niki ultimately decided that a forceful approach is one that causes physical or emotional fear.
There are many dog trainers out there who say they use positive reinforcement techniques, but who in practice have an aggressive demeanor or don’t allow the dog any choices, which creates an overall environment that is very unpleasant for the animal.
One really exciting aspect of PPG is their junior membership, which is for young people 12 years and up. They have their own study guides and tests and credentials. The goal is to be able to shape the behavior of young people who may be looking at a career in dog training.
At the present time, PPG is also working on standardizing three specific operating procedures: boundary training, recall, and no bark, because, as Niki points out, “We can’t expect Joe Public not to buy an electronic fence or a shock collar if we don’t provide him with alternatives.”
Niki’s group has also developed the Pet Professional Accreditation Board, which offers three levels of credentials, including “Canine Trainer,” “Professional Canine Trainer” and “Behavior Consultant.” Each level tests for knowledge, skills, and teaching ability/people handling.
Niki has also published a book that Niki believes is the right model for the industry going forward. It covers topics such as ethics, competency, continuing education, and oversight.
The PPG Pet Dog Ambassador program is fashioned after the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program, but it’s more about “real life skills,” says Niki. Whereas the dog obedience business tends to be very formal and stiff, Niki’s approach is more laidback. She believes in letting dogs be dogs, while helping them learn to live in harmony with people.
PPG’s Brand-New Pet Rescue Resources Program

PPG is about to roll out a brand-new program, two years in the making, called the Pet Rescue Resources. It will be a massive free resource targeted to shelters and “fosters, adopters, rescues, cats, dogs, birds, whatever,” says Niki. The first two protocols will address dogs who jump or mount, and dog playgroups. Shelters will be able to implement the protocols right away because they contain guidelines, videos, handouts — all the tools needed for each protocol.

“I think when it comes to the welfare of animals, and I know this is a really broad statement because resources are so limited, but it just doesn’t make sense to me that organizations that exist to save animals don’t put as much focus on behavioral wellbeing as physical wellbeing,” says Niki.
“I’m really hoping that next year we can shape how we interact and work with the rescue community. And our advocacy committee is also working on goals as well as a shock free coalition to hopefully partner more effectively with the veterinary community.”

Niki is obviously very skilled at taking a vision or dream and turning it into an action plan, which is fantastic. Very few people can do that. And she’s also doing a magnificent job of covering all possible bases, such as veterinary community relationships and the homeless animal population.
If you’re interested in learning more about PPG, you can visit the website at Pet Professional Guild, which contains lots of free educational resources and a member directory. If you decide to join PPG, “don’t be afraid to step forward,” says Niki. “It’s not the sort of environment where if you’re not one of the crowd, you feel you have no value.”
I’m looking forward to checking in with Niki again in a year or two to see what new initiatives PPG is working on, and the evolution of the organization!