Category Archives: Services

Dog owner responsibilities by William E Campbell

Darwin Play Bow Rascal 011711

January 23, 2011

Joyce Kesling, CDBC, Professional Dog Trainer

I had to share this with many of you, knowing you will more than appreciate what he says.  I feel exactly the same way, but he says it so elegantly. I have referred to these types of individuals as “predators” taking advantage of others, who either lack understanding or as he suggests the needs of the individual, not the pet.

The client who wants instant, off-leash control of a potentially dangerous dog doesn’t only want to have his cake and eat it, too.  He is violating the laws of most communities and adding fuel to the forces who want to outlaw dog ownership in many cities.  His viewpoint is not only dangerous to himself and others, (including the dog), but is awash in irresponsibility.

The ‘solution’ to this type of client’s situation lies in counseling that motivates the owner to change his attitude about his responsibilities.  In other words, we need to differentiate in our minds between clients-wants and client-needs, and apply our skills to bring new insights to this kind of client.

There are those in this field who use and sell devices ranging from choke and prong collars to electrical shock-collars as a means of off-leash training or containing dogs in the yard.  However, the reality of the average dog-owner’s dilemma of ‘wants versus needs’ begs for a counselor who will help that client recognize that dilemma, deal with it, and then become a responsible dog owner in a society that is becoming alarmingly more anti-dog due to irresponsible pet owners and distorted media coverage regarding dangerous breeds.

I regard people who prey on human weakness as hucksters because these devices are not 100% effective, and because they feed on human selfishness.  Further, they utilize a mechanistic ‘ends-justifies-the-means’ mentality in man’s relationships with one of his oldest mammalian partners, the dog.

I have explained the essence of this viewpoint to many clients during preliminary discussions of problems, and the vast majority agree; when an owner must rely on painful, artificial control of a pet dog, something is terribly lacking.  Very few really want a dog who comes who comes when called simply because they, the owners, represent a means of escaping 250 volts of electric shock to the throat.

Source:

Dog Behavior Problems: The Counselor’s Handbook by William E. Campbell, 1999

Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior? (follow up)

This is not funny!
This is not funny!

November 4, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

I’m beginning to read Alexandra Horowitz’s new book “Inside Of A Dog…” including her “prelude” and “prefatory note…” and couldn’t help but be reminded of a earlier blog when I suggested dog owners marginalize dogs, their behavior, and those who study dogs (Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior?).  Most specifically those most equipped to help in problem solving.  According to Horowitz, the “prevailing view of behavioral scientists” suggested there was no data to be obtained from the study of dogs.  Primates remained the species of choice studying animal cognition.  She says further “dog owners seemed to have already covered the territory of theorizing about the dog mind…theories generated from anecdotes and misapplied anthropomorphisms.” 

Why do we ignore our part when a problem occurs within the human-dog relationship?  Why do dog owners continue to ignore how influential a dog behaviorist is, not only preventing problems but also resolving problems without creating more conflict? 

I suggested in “Does simply being around dogs or owning dogs indicate knowledge of dog behavior?” the following could be contributing to the continued neglect and importance placed on resolving dog behavior problems. 

Some of the most easily identified, as cause and effect are the following examples.

  1. Too much self-help on the internet – recipes to train and problem solve
  2. Dog training and problem solving made easy by TV dog trainers while sitting on one’s couch
  3. Shelters, rescues, humane societies offering free telephone call in support
  4. Shelters, rescues, humane societies offering free downloaded “recipes” for problem solving
  5. Myths and anecdotal information and experience incorrectly interpreted
  6. Lack of knowledge and understanding about normal dog behavior
  7. Misunderstanding of dog-human relationships
  8. Unskilled dog trainers lacking sufficient knowledge in behavior
  9. Publics general awareness and importance using credentialed professionals at both levels, dog trainers and behaviorist
  10. Misunderstanding dogs in general

Several of these causes suggest a general lack of seriousness by owners, shelters, rescues and some instances the veterinary community.  We think so little of our part in the equation; we further fail when we do not acknowledge both physiological and mental health is closely linked. 

We further marginalize the process offering solutions to “fix the dog” in the worst way via internet and/or TV dog training programs.  In most instances, owners need counseling, offering training solutions, in many instances, choosing painful punishment i.e. e-stimulus (shock collars) collars without first getting a behavior evaluation and history.  To do otherwise suggest dogs and cats are automatons and applying fixed general rules and/or training are applicable to all situations, environments, and families/owners.  It is simply not that easy.  If our current system is working, why do we continue to see millions of dogs and cats relinquished and euthanized because of behavior problems? 

Responsible Dog and Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Certified Dog Behaviorist

Professional Dog Trainer

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188

http://responsibledog.net

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

http://www.youtube.com/joycekesling

http://vodpod.com/responsibledog

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009

 

 

Dog Training 101 Proofing Cues using doggie pushups and more!

Rat will work for food!
Rat will work for food!

 

September 29, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Dog Training 101 Proofing Cues, using doggie pushups and more!

I decided to write this blog after following up with a puppy client today.  I recorded the training sessions this morning and while waiting on all the downloads called the client.  Like many clients, they have ups and downs for all kinds of reasons.  This is one reason pet dog training can be challenging as opposed to working with dog owners who compete with their dogs.  The competition dog trainer can rely on these owners showing up every week, training like crazy in-between classes, because their dog serves a conduit for meeting other types of human needs, not just companionship. 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with just wanting a pet dog simply for companionship, personally that’s my choice.  Companionship with dogs, whether it requires competition or simply filling in as a friend, the dog provides  different kinds of needs.  In some instances, that’s why we have specific breeds.  However, whether we choose dogs strictly for companionship and/or going for titles, we all should strive for dogs to have good manners.  Dogs with good manners tend to be more appreciated, we enjoy being around them, like good friends.

Clients often have reasonable excuses for inconsistency; however, one problem often cited by pet dog owners, inconsistent cue delivery could be problematic.  Ah ha, something we all suffer from when we live with spouses, children, well meaning but…relatives and friends, we can expect inconsistent responses from our dogs.  This is a personal problem, remember the dog is just being a dog, doing what dogs do and we can always view the problem as insignificant.  However, if a dog’s behavior is causing conflicts not just between owner and dog, but other humans as well, then we need to figure out how to resolve the conflict between man and dog. 

In this case, we have an adolescent dog with a lot of energy.  Some of us recognize energy expenditure doesn’t always mean physical, in fact for some dogs too much exercise can actually be counterproductive.  We forget or neglect that training is mentally exhausting.  That is one reason pet toy manufacturers have devised so many puzzle type objects.  I’m sure some of us know what it’s like working in jobs that need a lot of mental thought and focus, we are not just mentally exhausted but physically too.

Therefore, suggestion is get going and start using doggie pushups more…thank you Dr. Ian Dunbar.  This is a great way for proofing cues.  In addition, don’t forget to slow down setting your dog up for stay training, attention and recalls, not focusing on walks and energized play sessions.  It’s also a good idea, if possible, to break up the dogs food ration to use throughout the day during these training sessions.  You can still do this even if you work away from home.  No Excuses.

These next two videos show doggie pushups, proofing cues, adding new behaviors and using non-reward markers as directive cues.  It’s also important to emphasize both verbal and especially hand cues.  Dogs do not understand the English language; they actually understand visual cues better.  They pay closer attention and understand what our body and expression is saying, rather than what’s coming out of our human mouth. 

In this first video, I briefly discuss concern-using treats with this “individual” dog.  Emphasis on “individual” since I have some knowledge of his earlier behavior problems and immediately noticed he wouldn’t work for anything unless you “bribed” him with a treat.  I still use his food during training sessions, but work at getting more and more individual behaviors before rewarding him.  I’m also adding new behaviors to break up the monotony that may impede learning when using repetitive behaviors.  This is also one reason short 5-10 minute training sessions work great in the beginning of training while slowly working up to longer sessions. 

Note using the non-reward marker provides the dog with a directive cue to try something else; you will see a few examples where this was used effectively.  There are also times when one gets stuck, simply move away, redirect your dog to do something else and then go back to your previous goal behavior.  Most of all, notice how rarely if ever cues are repeated, an occasional mistake is not going to be the end of the world, but repeated and inconsistent cues coupled with reinforcement contingencies has the potential to create frustration and anxiety for dogs. 

There’s a funny moment when our communication was not in synchrony.  I wanted Darwin to follow my hand around to my side and he chooses to get there using a different way, perhaps for him, it made more sense.  Sometimes we have to remember we are training dogs.  We are training them to do what we want dogs to do; it does not mean dogs understand why and/or that it is natural for them!  I try to remember this when training, it prevents me from blaming the dog and/or as some people and trainers might suggest the dog is trying to dominate me, is stubborn, and my favorite is trying to get back at me, spiteful behavior!  Dogs are capable of doing many things, we see it all the time, but using human emotional descriptions suggested here goes beyond what dogs are capable of thinking.  Equating “guilt” for example has been disproved, dogs are simply responding to our body language!

Proofing cues, discussing food motivation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IkvTTk1dpE

Proofing cues, adding new behavior and distance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBGkvxj_lbU

 

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Sarasota, Florida 34277

http://responsibledog.net

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948 

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat 2009

 

 

Pet Dog Training 101, training stand, often neglected!

Josef Standing ~ he was a beautiful dog!

Josef Standing ~ he was a beautiful dog!

September 29, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Boudicca reliably sits 80-100%.  Recently I wanted to train a new behavior; I realized her sit was too good!  Over the months, I’ve allowed her “back” cue to include sitting (scooting) and never reliably trained and/or proofed stand.  It was not easy to reverse this; it took several days feeding her entire meals training. 

We broke training sessions up to no more than 10-minute sessions, throughout the day and used a clicker (reward stand only) and some prompting using previously trained behavior i.e. hand cues.  In this first demonstration, I’m not using treats, she’s already doing a pretty good job at standing, backing up and staying. 

Note, during the demonstration and without prior training (thought) I realized I didn’t have a cue for relaxed walking versus heel/sit, required in formal obedience and/or rally training contexts.  This just means it’s necessary to maintain heel/sit, heel acts as a directive cue in this case.  When we are relaxed and walking, I could easily using a standard pet dog cue “let’s go” indicating she has a choice, either she can sit or stand when we stop, but she still has to walk nicely on lead (no pulling). 

The purpose of this demonstration emphasizes the importance for teaching all three behaviors, sit, down and stand.  In addition, stay and distance is added to each behavior once the dog is reliably responding at least 80% (8 out of 10X) when cued/asked for each basic behavior.

If you’re wondering why we might need to teach a dog to stand (duh moment), stand can be effectively used when dogs are not under reliable recall is one example, keep this in mind when training.  Keep in mind; this is not an example of a reliably trained behavior.  It will require at least 1000 repetitions. If you prefer using positive reinforcement, rather than risk harming the relationship you are developing with your dog, it will be worth all your effort.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlLtE4uS_DI

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Sarasota, Florida 34277

http://responsibledog.net

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

 Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat 2009

 

 

 

Considering drives and motivations when training dogs 8-)

Boudicca...doing what dogs do!

Boudicca...doing what dogs do!

 

 

Septempber 19, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Considering drives and motivations when training dogs

 

 

The following two youtube videos demonstrate dog training using toys as rewards.  When training dogs, I like to think about what dogs do naturally, some more than others.   Dogs expressing parts of the prey drive not intended would be considered faults.  Border collies for example don’t naturally express “eye” they need the right environment to express that characteristic.  Without it, they probably wouldn’t make a good working and/or herding dog.

In this first video, Boudicca is demonstrating learned behavior take and give (release).  Training this behavior should be included in all puppy training. Rules are essential to maintain training new behavior during the acquisition phase, but also for maintaining already trained behaviors.  Note, how I emphasize my cues, hand signals and body language.  When we lack this type of consistency we can expect inconsistent behavior from our dogs.  However, this is not the same quality of precision one attempts to achieve in show obedience trials, however providing clear cues for behavior is essential, otherwise even pet/companion dogs may become anxious and frustrated.  Make sure you watch for my mistakes. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ik_9vaeq-MY

In this second video, Boudicca is demonstrating how we can train dogs using parts of their natural prey drive using an internal reinforcer, rather than external.  This would be especially helpful for some dogs who might naturally express that behavior given the right environment. 

In the previous video, I used a variety of objects to generalize the behavior.  In this second video I get her started with my goal behavior, catch.  I then add the distraction, dropping a ball at my side, she should stay focused on me not the other object.  I pre-selected a soft bone shaped toy to use as the throwing object, this helps her catch a large object and express the kill bite part of the prey drive. 

The purpose for training this type of behavior not only teaches bite inhibition further but includes impulse control and cooperation.  When dogs willingly trust us to release objects, from their jaws and teeth and willingly retrieve objects to us, demonstrates very desirable manners and skills every owner should want for their dog. 

Note, how I continually use toys as rewards rather than food treats.  I use food treats to get a desirable behavior but move away from them to life rewards, especially play behaviors sooner than later!   When you consider internal and external motivation and drives, I’ve found incorporating rewards in training that stimulate internal motivations rather than relying on external motivators might be necessary for some dogs.  Teaching dogs to rely on food treats for good behavior can be compared to how we use food to satisfy unmet needs, resulting in eating disorders. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RAQqSv_VWU

 

Responsible Dog and Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188 

http://responsibledog.net 

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/ 

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/ 

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/  

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Coyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009

Vaccinations, dog boarding, and pet sitting, what is wrong with this picture?

Dogs having fun!

Dogs having fun!

 

Vaccinations, dog boarding, and pet sitting, what is wrong with this picture? 

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

September 15, 2009

http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2009/09/over-vaccination-is-bad-medicine.html  

The above blog is worth reading, especially if you are concerned and/or need additional information concerning vaccination requirements for your pet.  In many instances, boarding facilities arbitrarily require yearly vaccinations; however, this may be contrary to the real needs of your pet. 

Unfortunately, this is a very sensitive subject, and not just for pet owners aware of the issue; many of us may qualify our veterinarians based on this awareness.  However, many pet owners aren’t aware of the issue and perhaps blindly without question continue to vaccinate their dogs on a yearly schedule and/or do this out of need for boarding/kenneling mandates. 

I discuss this issue http://www.responsibledog.net/choose_a_kennel.html and recommend based on evaluating several key pieces of literature that suggest this requirement should be made on an individual basis, not arbitrarily and routinely, as has been the past.  When issues of boarding mandate your dog require specific vaccinations, you should consult with your veterinarian for advice.  However, at the same time, you should be armed with knowledge that enables you to discuss the matter openly so that you and your veterinarian make the best decision for your individual pet/s. 

Additional concerns might include when boarding includes socialization/play time.  You should want qualified staff actually educated in dog training and/or behavior overseeing the facility; in addition, you want to know how well supervision is provided.  Another issue of importance often ignored is cleaning up pet waste and why, this is covered in my paper referenced above.  Finally, one should evaluate the mental and physical needs of one’s dog.  This means understanding stress and exercise constraints.  Stress in dogs has been studied and analyzed and applies to boarding situations, here is an excerpt from the paper cited earlier. 

Is stress a consideration during boarding?

“Stress occurs when any demand is placed upon a dog that requires the dog to change or adjust” (Lindsay, 2000). For stress to occur events or situations do not have to be unpleasant, but rather any biological or psychological demand placed on an animal is capable of producing stress. There are certain amounts of healthy stress all animals are capable of adapting to, however chronic stress may lead to stress-related conditions. This is an important consideration when making your decision on how, where and under what conditions you will board your animals.

Stress-related hormonal changes occur during separation in a number of species. Tuber and colleagues (1996) studied dogs and found a “differential glucocorticoid (cortisol and corticosterone) response” occurs during five conditions of separation.

1. Alone in a novel environment

2. With a conspecific (another dog) in a novel environment

3. Alone in a familiar environment

4. With a human in a novel environment

5. With a conspecific (another dog) in a familiar environment.

The results of their study showed dogs left alone in novel environments had the highest level of cortisol output with the lowest level occurring in home kennels with a familiar conspecific. However, dogs tested in novel environments with a human companion had significantly lower cortisol levels when compared to dogs kept in the novel environment with a conspecific. These results lend support when considering your decision concerning your dog’s welfare when kenneling or boarding.

What exactly does my dog prefer?

According to these studies, dogs prefer the company of humans even in novel (unfamiliar) environments when compared to at home environments even with a familiar dog!  What this means, is you may need to consider your dogs stress levels when using a pet sitter who only drops by on occasion and compared to a kennel alternative that not only meets your dogs need for dog socialization but also benefits from more human contact.

I recently wrote Pet Sitting Personal Attention or Madame Running Prostitution Business! after hearing a terrible story about a dog left in the care of a pet sitter.  I had no idea dog owners were actually leaving dogs alone at home for 24-hour periods while paying a per visit charge, usually only 30 minutes.  It was always my understanding pet sitting provided working owners a service by providing walks for midday exercise and/or opportunities to potty and especially for owners raising new puppies.  It was my further understanding that pet sitting actually meant the pet sitter was actually staying at the owners home, what I require if it’s necessary for me to be out of town.  It seems the business has morphed into what it is today, a drive by business coupled with employees, supposedly screened and in most instances little to no education in dog training and/or behavior. 

This can create a serious welfare issue for dogs, leaving dogs locked up in kennels all day and night (to prevent destructive behavior) and/or leaving them loose seems neglectful considering individual dog needs (Tuber et al, 2006).  Returning to the issue of vaccinations, if this is one of the reasons for deciding on this type of service, one might want to rethink that decision, there are those of us that fully recognize your needs, your pets, and concerns regarding vaccinations and still provide a safe environment for your pet. 

Responsible Dog and Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188

http://responsibledog.net 

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009

 

Pet Sitting Personal Attention or Madame Running Prostitution Business!

Pet Sitting Personal Attention or Madame Running Prostitution Business!

This connection actually entered my always-questioning mind some time ago, but recently a client brought something to my attention causing me to investigate this type of service.  Being naïve, thinking pet sitters gave “personal attention” to their charges you can understand how shocked I was when I put paw and paw together and realized these businesses do not offer personal attention for your pet at all.  Not really. 

If you consider hiring what may be unskilled, minimum hourly wage individuals, just because they love dogs, supposedly are qualified and passed background checks, then you’re just as naïve as me, if you think this constitutes personal attention then you and I surely don’t think about our pets in the same way. 

In fact, some of these pet sitting services are growing franchises and/or large personally managed businesses operating as pet sitters, but actually, who is doing the pet sitting!  You and your pets are being assigned individuals who may not even meet you personally, you are dependent on the Madame, oops, I mean pet sitting owner to “assign” individuals to your job!  Your pet’s needs are being relegated to a job, performed by individuals you won’t even personally know!

Oh I know, I know, other businesses use subcontractors too, but this is a very personal business involving peoples pets, whose owners often refer to as children!  I am not sure, but I do not think the human nanny business is managed in such a carefree manner and maybe even carelessly! 

The care of dogs is a welfare issue, that’s why I happen to be quite knowledgeable about dog care, housing needs, socialization, behavior, training, breeding practices,  raising behaviorally healthy as well as physically healthy dogs, medical issues related to behavior and how behavior and stress often cause medical problems and medical problems often cause stress, behavior problems and anxiety.  The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote, the complete article is on my website www.responsibledog.net and blog https://k9psych.wordpress.com/


What you should consider when boarding, using a pet sitter or that swanky spa!

When boarding includes socialization privileges

A well-socialized dog could be characterized by how readily it interacts and plays with other dogs.  However, dogs will be dogs! In most cases, if there are altercations, they are often minor, but one cannot be careful enough when allowing a group of dogs to interact.  If you decide to board your pet in this type of environment, make sure the staff have good working knowledge how dogs communicate, meaning they can read dogs well and have the ability to handle multiple dogs while keeping every one safe.

Often these kinds of businesses include behavior assessments, however, future behavior is not always predictable, and there is always a chance that dogs may not get along with specific dogs.  It’s best in these environments that numbers be limited by the effectiveness of staff, and sometimes alternating dogs in smaller groups, giving consideration to size, breed and personality can help provide safety while still providing interaction and socialization opportunity.

It is your responsibility to make sure your dog is safe so your decision should include evaluating the level of expertise concerning animal behavior when boarding your pet in these types of environments.  If the staff is not sufficiently educated in normal dog or cat behavior, and specifically aggression, how to manage it, recognize it and modify it, then you should be concerned about your dog’s welfare.

Is stress a consideration during boarding?

“Stress occurs when any demand is placed upon a dog that requires the dog to change or adjust” (Lindsay, 2000).  For stress to occur events or situations do not have to be unpleasant, but rather any biological or psychological demand placed on an animal is capable of producing stress.  There are certain amounts of healthy stress all animals are capable of adapting to, however chronic stress may lead to stress-related conditions.  This is an important consideration when making your decision on how, where and under what conditions you will board your animals.

Stress-related hormonal changes occur during separation in a number of species.  Tuber and colleagues (1996) studied dogs and found a “differential glucocorticoid (cortisol and corticosterone) response” occurs during five conditions of separation.

1. Alone in a novel environment
2. With a conspecific (another dog) in a novel environment
3. Alone in a familiar environment
4. With a human in a novel environment
5. With a conspecific (another dog) in a familiar environment.

The results of their study showed dogs left alone in novel environments had the highest level of cortisol output with the lowest level occurring in home kennels with a familiar conspecific.  However, dogs tested in novel environments with a human companion had significantly lower cortisol levels when compared to dogs kept in the novel environment with a conspecific.  These results lend support when considering your decision concerning your dog’s welfare when kenneling or boarding.

What exactly does my dog prefer?

According to these studies, dogs prefer the company of humans even in novel (unfamiliar) environments when compared to dogs kenneled in home environments with a familiar dog! What this means, is you may need to consider your dogs stress levels when using a pet sitter who only drops by on occasion compared to a kennel alternative that not only meets your dogs need for dog socialization but also benefits from more human contact.


 

You should pay close attention to the study’s conclusions, the conditions offering the least amount of stress.  The results do not lend credibility to pet sitting but rather in-home kenneling and/or traditional kenneling that at minimum offers some socialization but most of all more human attention and supervision. 

 

Pet sitters suggest in their marketing materials that in-home boarding and/or other similar larger facilities do not provide enough attention or contact with your pet.  This is simply a grossly over exaggerated generalized statement.  This is why you need to thoroughly check out the facility you choose, not all boarding facilities are managed the same, nor do the owners of these facilities have the same knowledge level.  Many offer very little other than caged conditions all or most of the day, you need to process the marketing materials you are reading more critically, do not assume anything they say as being true. 

 

What is so odd about this practice is the cost for using pet sitters actually exceeds the cost of leaving your dog at a kennel and/or in-home boarding facility.  In my opinion, these businesses are predatory type businesses; they market their services focusing on human emotions, not what is really best for dogs! 

 

When are we going to grow up and start treating our dogs like dogs, it is the most mature thing we humans can do to help our dogs.  Stop listening to people who do not know anything about normal dog behavior, stop watching television dog trainers, get off the couch and find individuals with the best qualifications that meet your dog’s specific needs.  The things that should matter most to you and your dog are the following:

 

  • Do you first know how to select the best dog for you?
  • Do you know how to raise and train a puppy correctly?
  • What are really the best care options for my dog/s?
  • How much experience does the kennel owner have?
  • How much experience does the dog trainer have?
  • What credentials does the behavior specialist have? 

 

Buying cutesy cloths, collars, bowls, beds are all luxuries, they do not make your dog any better, it makes you feel better.  My dogs have these things (material objects), but most of all they have someone who truly understands what they really need!

 

So that you understand the seriousness of this choice, I have been rather light on you so far, I am going to include a recent example of what I am talking about.  A potential client contacted me concerning some dog behavior problems.  The dog ate nearly an entire bath towel causing a serious digestive problem; luckily, there was no blockage.  It took over a week of antibiotics and recovery time before the dog felt normal.  This occurred during the “careful” watch (?) of a pet sitter!  I am sorry, but based on this dogs history, this would not have occurred under my watch, so pet owners beware who you leave your pets in the care of, it may end up costing you more than you bargained for. 

 

Pets under my care do get individual care, they get sufficient and supervised play time, and it’s all provided by someone with a background in professional dog training and certified in dog behavior ( www.iaabc.org ).  Yes, there is a difference; the difference is who is actually taking care of your pets and that individual’s qualifications. 

 

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

In-Home Pet Boarding

www.responsibledog.net

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

Florida Dog Boarding, Kenneling, Dog Sitting Services

Bad habit picked up at the kennel!

Bad habit picked up at the kennel!

Boarding, Kenneling, Dog Sitting Services

How does one choose the right service and what considerations should be evaluated?

With all the choices available for boarding, kenneling, dog sitting, some even coming with fancy names like bed and breakfasts, doggie spas, motels and hotels, it might seem like an overwhelming choice for the average owner in selecting the proper boarding facility. However, in spite of luxurious claims compared to a bare bones facility, the most important consideration should be providing a safe, secure, predictable environment, with friendly and competently trained staff.

Before you make your decision, you should visit the facility; your visit should be welcome if not encouraged by management and staff. I consider it an important part of the decision making process. This provides the owner a visual representation where their pet will be kept and viewing outdoor areas used for potty and play.

Any questions and concerns should be answered to your satisfaction; because it is important while you are away that you feel comfortable, knowing your pet is being cared for properly.

 

Depending on the specific environment you choose, it should be a priority to evaluate the kennel staff experience and expertise in normal dog behavior, training, and general knowledge concerning dogs and cats.  Ask how much training the staff has received, where and for how long. Beware of franchise establishments their staff has little to no experience believe me, I inquired!

If you choose to board in a facility-offering dog daycare or interactive activities including other dogs, it’s even more important the staff is sufficiently educated in normal dog behavior, dog communication, recognizing behavior problems and emphasis on aggression.

What are bare bone considerations when selecting a kennel?

  • Cleanliness is the most important feature you should consider. This should include proper sanitation procedures preventing spread of contagious disease. See important information concerning fecal matter below.
  • All accommodations including kennels, crates, outdoor-indoor runs or private rooms should be clean and odor free and pets should appear clean and well cared for.
  • Check designated potty areas and outdoor play areas. These areas should be free from accumulated fecal matter and depending on substrate routinely cleaned.
  • Ask how fecal matter is disposed of. Kennel facilities should take responsibility how fecal material is treated and disposed. See important information concerning fecal matter below.
  • Exercise should be a concern, ask how often it’s provided. Some kennels offer extra exercise opportunities at additional costs.
  • Ask to see the outdoor toilet areas your dog will be using, how often access is provided. Normal dogs need toilet breaks at least every 6 hours, the only exception during normal sleeping hours.
  • Providing natural daylight is a plus, good air circulation and proper ventilation decreases risk of spreading disease.
  • Consider the number of staff compared to number of animals. A greater number of staff versus animals may indicate more individual attention. This depends on the environment provided, dogs kept in outdoor-indoor kennels, runs, or cages don’t usually get much attention.
  • Ask about veterinary care procedures in case of an emergency.  Personal preferences should be discussed with the kennel owner.
  • If your pet requires medication or other treatments, make sure the kennel staff can accommodate your pet needs.
  • Grooming services are often required in kennels.  Sending pets home clean or freshly groomed is a plus. You want to make sure the groomer is sufficiently trained in proper grooming procedures. Providing dogs with baths and grooming requires two completely different amounts of skill.
  • Make sure someone lives on the premises; fires or other natural disasters do occur.  Kennels often do not provide this protection.
  • Ask if the owner carries liability insurance, especially for this type of business
  • Make sure you include emergency information or instructions; this should be included on the boarding intake form.

What you should know and consider when boarding, using a pet sitter or swanky spa!

When boarding includes socialization privileges

A well-socialized dog could be characterized by how readily it interacts and plays with other dogs. However, dogs will be dogs! In most cases, if there are altercations, they are often minor, but one cannot be careful enough when allowing a group of dogs to interact. If you decide to board your pet in this type of environment, make sure the staff have good working knowledge how dogs communicate, meaning they can read dogs well and have the ability to handle multiple dogs while keeping every one safe.

Often these kinds of businesses include behavior assessments, however, future behavior is not always predictable and there is always a chance that dogs may not get along with specific dogs. It’s best in these environments that numbers be limited by the effectiveness of staff, and sometimes alternating dogs in smaller groups, giving consideration to size, breed and personality can help provide safety while still providing interaction and socialization opportunity.

It’s your responsibility to make sure your dog is safe so your decision should include evaluating the level of expertise concerning animal behavior when boarding your pet in these types of environments. If the staff is not sufficiently educated in normal dog or cat behavior, and specifically aggression, how to manage it, recognize it and modify it, then you should be concerned about your dog’s welfare.

When boarding you don’t want your dog learning bad habits, proactive owners are concerned in preventing behavior problems and it’s not uncommon when dogs return from kennels poor habits have developed resulting from insufficient housing, management, exposure to dogs with bad habits and generally poor care.

Is stress a consideration during boarding?

“Stress occurs when any demand is placed upon a dog that requires the dog to change or adjust” (Lindsay, 2000). For stress to occur events or situations do not have to be unpleasant, rather any biological or psychological demand placed on an animal is capable of producing stress. There are certain amounts of healthy stress animals are capable of adapting to, however chronic stress may lead to stress-related medical conditions. This is an important consideration when making your decision on how, where and under what conditions you board your animals.

Stress-related hormonal changes occur during separation in a number of species. Tuber and colleagues (1996) studied dogs and found a “differential glucocorticoid (cortisol and corticosterone) response” occurs during five conditions of separation.

1. Alone in a novel environment
2. With a conspecific (another dog) in a novel environment
3. Alone in a familiar environment
4. With a human in a novel environment
5. With a conspecific (another dog) in a familiar environment.

The results of their study showed dogs left alone in novel environments had the highest level of cortisol output with the lowest level occurring in home kennels with a familiar conspecific. However, dogs tested in novel environments with a human companion had significantly lower cortisol levels when compared to dogs kept in the novel environment with a conspecific. These results lend support when considering your decision concerning your dog’s welfare when kenneling or boarding.

What exactly does Your dog prefer?

According to these studies, dogs prefer the company of humans even in novel (unfamiliar) environments compared to dogs kept/left in home environments even with a familiar dog!  This means, you need to consider your dogs stress levels when using a pet sitter who drops by on occasion sometimes no longer than 30 minutes.  Compared to a kennel alternative that meets your dogs needs for socialization as well as human contact, it’s almost a no brainer.

Things you might want to include for your pets comfort

• A favorite bed, blanket, toy may help your pet feel at home.  Other dogs can destroy these items, unless provided under privately managed housing.
• Send your own food – pets can get stressed away from home, abrupt changes in diet can cause gastrointestinal upset that may include vomiting and diarrhea, you don’t want to stress your pet more than she/he needs to be. 
• You may want to include any special treats or chew items, make sure the kennel accepts these as part of their overall care.

Why is disposing fecal matter so important?

If fecal matter is not removed regularly (immediately), dogs will not continue to potty in designated areas. During housetraining, teaching the dog proper locations should be of utmost priority. Dogs will not continue to use designated potty areas contaminated with fecal matter, instead moving to other locations within the yard. When we remove feces, our dogs will continue to use designated areas, providing ideal housetraining. 

Additionally, feces should be removed because it creates a foul odor, is unsightly to humans, and presents a public health hazard.  The public hazard comes in the form of Toxocara canis, which is larvae deposited in dog stools that become mature and infective after two to three days. During the summer months, it is even more hazardous when the sun dries the fecal matter allowing wind to carry it, contaminating everything in the area.

Additionally, feces provides an excellent breeding place for flies, according to Dunbar (1986) “a single dog fecal deposit” provides for the proliferation of up to 588 flies! (Yuk) These mature flies then spread not only the toxocara larvae but also other infectious disease. These flies find their way into our homes, carrying these infectious agents. The best prevention is clean up fecal matter before flies have the opportunity to lay eggs. For owners, this is easily done using plastic bags, tying them up and disposing of them. When considering a boarding facility, you should ask how this material is being processed. You want to ask, because you don’t want to expose your pet to unnecessary illness or disease.

Lastly, this a responsible dog owner’s duty, not only does ignoring this responsibility cause potential public health problems, it does not promote good pet management and consideration of neighbors!

Health and Vaccination Requirements

All dogs and cats should be healthy and free of disease contagious to other animals. Pet owners who have pets with medical problems and currently being treated and stable should advise the kennel owner or staff prior to boarding to ensure the kennel staff could accommodate your pets’ needs.

Many products are available for treating fleas, ticks or other external or internal parasite, your pet should be treated prior to any scheduled boarding. Some kennels will treat dogs or cats if any external parasites are noticed and charge you for the treatment.

Some kennels may require health certificates or proof of vaccinations from your veterinarian. Because some veterinarians do not routinely vaccinate every year for DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza and parvovirus), your dog may not have all the vaccinations a kennel or boarding facility may require. It’s best to ask what an individual kennels policy is concerning vaccinations because “there is no generally accepted rule regarding vaccinations in dogs.”

FYI – Information concerning vaccination protocols

Among the veterinary community there is developing a “diversity of opinion” concerning which vaccines should be administered, frequency and safety of administering vaccines as well as their protective value.

The veterinary community attempting to individualize immunization programs has divided vaccine protocols into Core and Non-Core groups. Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs, Non-Core are recommended for dogs at risk, due to lifestyle, or exposure to infectious disease. Core vaccines are determined by infectious ability and transference to other dogs and humans.

Due to vaccine safety risks, this debate is of concern, the benefits of vaccination are well recognized, there are reports of “injection-site tumors in cats, vaccine associated autoimmune disease in dogs” and vaccine reactions occurring after booster administration.  This causes concern whether or not vaccines should be administered to all dogs and if annual booster administration is necessary for continued protection.

Recent publications suggest current vaccination schedules do not address effectiveness of vaccines protective immunity, saying, “depending on the infectious agent… protective immune response may persist for years” after vaccination questioning the continuance of boosters.  However, no published data substantiates any “uniform standard” concerning the duration of any vaccine-induced immunity with the exception of rabies.

Finally, Non-Core vaccines should be considered based on risk assessment for individual dogs, taking into consideration the dog’s history, environment and infectious agent of concern. Some Non-Core vaccines include Canine Bordetella, parinfluenza, Leptospira, coronavirus, Giardia, and Borrelia (Lyme disease). It is suggested vaccines that do not present risk to a dog be excluded from any vaccination protocol; clients should rely on their veterinarian to guide their choices, what is best for their individual pet.

References

Dunbar, Ian & Bohnenkamp, Gwen. Behavior Booklets – Housetraining Supplement.
CA: James & Kenneth. 1986.

Mansfield, Philip, DVM. (2000). Vaccination Issues of Concern to Dog Owners.
Retrieved from: http://www.scwtca.org/pdf/bmarch/28.2Mansfield.pdf#search=’philip%20D.%20Mansfield%2C%20D.V.M

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Dog Training and Dog Behavior Solutions

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941-966-1188 ~ 941-587-2049

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948
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