Tag Archives: dog

Fake Testicles, Facemasks, the New Level of Pet Pampering

NEW YORK – People and their pets often end up resembling each other, but image-obsessed Americans are taking that age-old relationship a step further, treating their four-legged friends to everything from spa facials to testicle implants.In a nation of surgically enhanced human breasts, teeth and skin, perhaps it was just a matter of time before the beauty stakes were raised for pooches and cats.

FYI, give dogs a break, go out and train, play, teach them manners, socialize them with other humans and dogs, this is getting ridiculous! Don’t the people doing this, these faux dog specialists have anything better to do?

“One end of the spectrum features dogs like Hops, a Maltese terrier who recently was given a blueberry facial, followed by a blow dry, and tooth brushing with chicken-flavored paste, at Manhattan’s Downtown Doghouse spa.”

“Groomer Ani Corless described this as the new normal for lapdogs.”

ME:  NO, not new normal, disturbed people thinking it’s normal!

“These are man-made breeds and they require maintenance,” she said.

ME:  What dogs need is not makeovers, they have real needs based on biology, not skewed psychology based on humans with obvious emotional and real problems…living in reality!

“Mid-facial, Hops ejected a tiny puddle of vomit, but otherwise did seem to enjoy the attention.”

ME:  Can you really blame him? He could have been so upset being put through such unnatural behavior, both human and dog expected, it would make me puke too!

“More extreme — and painful — makeovers are also gaining ground.”

ME:  Someone please stop the madness, dogs really don’t like this shit!

“New York Republican lawmaker Nicole Malliotakis says animals are subjected to tattoos, earrings, nose rings, chin rings, tummy tucks, even facelifts.”

“Owner of two Chihuahuas called Peanut and Olympia, Malliotakis has proposed a law to ban cosmetic alterations to pets in New York state, calling this “a form of animal cruelty.”

ME:  Someone with some sense, it IS animal cruelty!

Read more Fake Testicles, Facemasks, the New Level of Pet Pampering | petMD.

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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

No Shock Collar Coalition ~ Join for Dogs Sake!

Little Sunny...now Big Sunny!

No Shock Collar Coalition ~ Join for Dogs Sake!

The following is from an organization of supporters, received as a member and supporter and being passed on in its entirety to help get the word out. Please take the time to evaluate the efficacy and harmful effects determined by scientific studies and observation and sign up to show and express your support for dogs who can’t speak up for themselves. If you’re not familiar with this information then please ask those who are already members and/or you are welcome to contact me…I have sufficient information  for using these devices. Let’s raise happy dogs, not dogs trained using fearful aversive training methods and tools. The dogs will thank you and not out of fear of you!

No Shock Collar Coalition

Getting Started
You are receiving this message because you have previously signed up with the No Shock Collar Coalition.

This silent movement began in 2006, as those who love our canine companions and respect them as our brethren objected to the use of electric shock devices being used in the training and containment of dogs. In 2006 we were concerned by the proliferation of these devices, and now, three years later, there appears to be continued focus on shock collars as acceptable tools, not only in the dog trainers’ toolbox, but in the hands of the general public.

Since this problem has not abated, we believe it is time to stand up and be counted and make our position on this matter known to those who promote these devices and profit from them. In addition, raising awareness among those well-meaning trainers and owners who use them out of ignorance is also on our agenda!

To this end, we’re asking those of you who have previously signed up for the NSCC to consider your commitment to this cause; if you are no longer interested in supporting us, please use the ‘opt out’ instructions in this email to have your email address removed from our list.

If you have continued commitment to the No Shock Collar movement, please help us by encouraging your like-minded friends, relatives, clients and others to sign up with us and lend their support to our campaign. New members can sign up by visiting http://www.baddogsinc.com/noshockcollars.html.

Over the coming months, we’ll be collecting articles and other information about the use of shock collars to help educate users and distributors alike. In addition, we’ll be looking for ways to make our position known to those who profit from these devices, either knowingly or unknowingly.

Thank you in advance for your support. Remember that a handful of committed people can make a huge difference for good!

With gratitude to those who honor and respect our canine brethren, I remain

Sincerely,

Barbara Davis
BADDogsInc
Family Dog Training & Behavior
Corona, CA

Thanks

Joyce Kesling, CDBC
Responsible Dog
http://www.responsibledog.net

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/

Teaching Relaxed Sit

Boudicca Relaxed Sit

Boudicca Relaxed Sit

 

Relaxed Sit

The purpose of teaching a relaxed sit is training calm behavior.  A dog that has learned to sit calmly is easier to train and accepts distractions in their environment.  It’s absolutely necessary to teach a reactively aggressive or anxious dog this behavior.  The ideal dog is relaxed and under no obvious distress.  A distressed dog indicates the same level of physiological distress that accompanies emotional distress.  A dog in constant emotional distress will be unable to cope with his environment and unable to learn new behavior.

Your goal

 

  • The dog will sit on verbal or hand signal when asked and remain until released.

 

  • Sitting is an impulse control exercise and reflects a submissive and calming position and emotional state.

 

  • This calm state can diffuse other dogs’ intentions.

 

  • This exercise is mandatory behavior for all dogs whose owners expect to take them out into public.

Prerequisites

  1. 4-6” lead to prevent dog from wondering away.
  2. Training treats- the smaller the better
  3. Reward marker – good or yes
  4. No reward marker – wrong, oops or sorry
  5. Schedule of reinforcement – beginning with a fixed (continuous) schedule of reinforcement changing to a variable schedule once the dog is reliably offering the correct response in at least 3-4 different locations 

A dog still vibrating while sitting does not indicate a calm dog, if this describes your dog,  you will need to learn how to shape calm behavior.   

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training & Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188 ~ 941-587-2049

www.responsibledog.net

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.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 and Cat Rev A 2004-2009

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

Responsible Dog & Cat
Dog Training and Dog Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling
P.O. Box 15992
Sarasota, Florida 34277

www.responsibledog.net
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
© Responsible Dog & Cat Rev A 2005-2009

 

Dog Barking ~ Canine Communication

Barking is a form of communication for dogs. Communication is described as a transmission of information between one animal and another or between groups of animals with the intent to affect behavior. Typically, communication takes place-using signals that may include verbal, tactile, odors (pheromones), facial expressions and body movements. The communication exchange will usually have three components. These components consist of 1.) the animal sending the message, 2.) the animal receiving the message and 3.) the communication signal. The purpose of the message is to change the attitude, mood or behavior of the recipient. The receivers’ response indicates whether the senders’ message, the function of the behavior has served its purpose.

Communication can take place between the same species (intraspecific) or with another species (interspecific). In the case of dogs, Canis lupus familiaris communication is common in both situations.

According to Lindsay (2000), “…expressive social behavior…exercises an important modulatory effect over emotion and mood.” Communication is a behavior, says Horowitz (2001), having a “goal and function” and communication in higher organisms serves to “regulate social interaction” among members of the group and its purpose to facilitate “cooperative behavior,” according to Lindsay (2000), which is vital to a groups survival.

The importance of understanding how dogs communicate

Understanding how to communicate with dogs can partly be achieved by understanding how dogs developed under domestication, as well as how they adapted to their ever-changing environment. Another reason why is partly founded in one’s acceptance or non-acceptance that “animals are endowed with a private experience or self-awareness comparable to our own” which presents a “moral crisis” according to Lindsay (2000) that “would revolutionize how we view and treat animals under our care.” Temple Grandin (1995), suggests dogs are “…akin to the thinking style of artists or musicians” considering things in “…terms of their immediate sensory significance, relevance to the animal’s current motivation state and associated memories” added into the context or situation (Lindsay, 2000).

Lindsay (2000) sums this up saying “meaningful communication would appear to require an internally represented and empathetic experience of the other.”

The subtle social communication occurring between humans and dogs seems to imply that
there exists a shared cognitive or empathetic substrate mediating, assessing, and evaluating
mutual intentions and meaning, as well as deliberating on different possible courses of action
based on parallel appraisals and emotions experienced by the affected communicators.

Understanding how our dogs communicate is essential in helping owners resolve behavior problems related to barking. Communication lacking clear understanding can influence behavior, so establishing clear communication with our dogs should be considered an essential part of ownership.

When does vocalization behavior begin?

Canine vocalization patterns begin during the neonatal stage of development and gradually develop until adulthood. Young puppies’ first sounds consist of whines and yelps, called distress vocalizations, and function to reunite the pup with its mother. These behaviors are replaced gradually with sounds associated with relief of stress or discomfort, contact comfort with siblings, mother and warmth, and by 4 weeks of age a more “adult-like phase of vocal communication begins” (Beaver, 1999).

Barking usually begins during the first 2-4 weeks, occurring in most cases during play-solicitation and is not associated with aggression until after 8 weeks, which usually occurs in response to a growl associated with weaning from the mother. The intent of the aggressive bark gradually increases and changes according to context and is most often associated with food defense or directed toward strange dogs.

The tone usually indicates the purpose with higher tones indicating excitability, play and greeting behavior and lower tones indicating threat or distancing behavior. The function of barking includes greeting, play, alarm, hunting, tracking, herding, vocal alerting, defense, threat, care seeking, distress, contact seeking, and group vocalization and the specific function can be determined based on the contextual situation combined with the dog’s observed body language (Beaver, 1999).

Why do modern dogs bark?

In Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) he says, “[c]an it, then, be thought improbable, seeing that variations useful to man have undoubtedly occurred, that other variations useful in some way to each being in the great and complex battle of life, should sometimes occur in the course of thousands of years?” He suggests, “…individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind.”

According to archeological evidence, dogs have been living in close proximity to humans dating back as much as 14,000 years and some speculate even longer. The relationship between early man and dog was probably a commensal type and as dogs became more domesticated, the relationship changed to a more symbiotic type. The most compelling reason for early dogs’ ease of domestication was their willingness to live in close proximity to humans. This advantage not only provided mutual protection for early man but early prototype dogs as well. The early dogs unlike their wolf predecessors barked more, had lower thresholds for fear, and infantile facial features that stimulated human care giving instincts, factors contributing to our future interspecific-bonding process.

Barking Classifications

Alarm barking

Probably one of the earliest advantages dogs provided was alarm barking, providing early dogs selective advantages over their wolf counterparts. Alarm barking not only functioned to serve notice to other predator intruders of their location but also in turn provided warnings for early man. These early alarm barks did not distinguish friend from foe, but most likely functioned as an alarm announcing the presence of a strange animal or person.

Understanding pitch, duration and the context of barking and quite possibly breed contributions will be helpful in identifying the motivation behind the dogs barking. This understanding will contribute to treating a barking problem indicating the dog is simply over-reactive to his environment

Territorial barking

Territorial barking originated as a function for communicating long distance with other members of their group or functioning to establish their presence and location to other neighboring competitors. Contrary to this environment, modern dogs do not need this form of communication but this behavior seems to have persisted.

Howling is often the precursor to the beginning of a neighborhood bark fest, and according to Dodman (1999), “the stimulus for howling is certain tones and frequencies of sound” acting as a releasing stimuli for this underlying drive. Fire alarms seem to be a common releasing stimulus for dogs to perform this behavior.

Excitement barking

Dodman (1999) cites an interesting observation using “inhalation anesthetic” saying, “…each species goes through a stage of supposedly unconscious involuntary excitement” consisting of “species-typical disinhibition of reflexive behavior.” The most common behavior he observed was paddling their limbs along and that “all species vocalize.” The point, “if dogs vocalize when disinhibited, when excitatory systems discharge unchecked, barking must be a reflexive behavior triggered by excitement” even in a fully conscious state.

Just as we can become overly excited over certain events, dogs it seems are capable of the same inability to control their own actions, i.e. dogs who get overly excited at chasing squirrels, playing games or meeting other dogs and people.

Owner reinforcement

Since we all know dogs bark rather easily in many contexts and with significant triggering stimuli, preventing unwanted barking in the future makes sense and can easily be accomplished by well-informed owners who understand how dogs learn. Dogs learn from barking they can get what they want or when ignored dogs learn that barking is unsuccessful and cease using it as a means of reinforcement.

A good example I saw of owner reinforcement for barking was an Animal Planet show featuring the Bouvier des Flandres and even though classified by the AKC in the herding group, they are considered a working dog first serving as a police, defense, or army dog in Belgium where they originated.

Bouvier’s are considered excellent watchdogs probably needing little encouragement to bark at intruders or even guests. This subject came up during the Animal Planet program with the owner demonstrating by encouraging the dog to bark at an approaching person on the street. The dog responded with a fierce response. In this case, the owner clearly prompted the dogs barking response-facilitating learning to bark in that context. I might question this practice unless the situation is fully thought out and taking into consideration owner absence.

We often forget while raising puppies that what we might consider cute during this period of development may become what we consider a behavior problem later when the dog is no longer the innocent and cute puppy. So if we are going to teach our dogs to respond to certain stimuli, we should be equally prepared to teach the dog appropriate responses to inhibit the response. A reminder might be “Be careful what you reinforce.”

Fear related territorial barking versus confident dog

Often we find that dogs use barking in relation to fear related issues and in some instances because they are confident. In both situations, context and body language can offer the owner clues to the meaning for the dogs barking response.

The fearful dog is often evidenced by the owners’ initial inability to quiet the dog and once the dog does quiet, they retreat to safe locations waiting for the next opportunity to bark at what this dog perceives as a threatening target. Often these dogs bark at service people i.e. the mail carrier, delivery people and often-household guests. Their behavior is continually reinforced every instance a delivery person or guest leaves the house. These dogs learn they can intimidate and remove unwanted people simply by the reinforcing qualities this brings the dog.

The fearful dog will need counter-conditioning and desensitization to help them over their fears and anxieties in those contexts where the dog is uncomfortable about accepting strangers, this may even include other dogs.

Contrary to this, the confident dog will alert owners to the presence of intruders but will quiet when they accept the owners’ decision to introduce guests and strangers. In cases where territory is not the issue, an assertive confident dog can be truly dangerous. These dogs are known to stand their ground perhaps even walk toward you as if daring you to come any closer. Their body postures may not be easy to read due to conflicting emotional states. It would be unwise for one to continue approaching a dog who is advancing while continuing to emit warning barks, thus causing this type of dog to further escalate his warnings to stay away. These dogs also learn their threatening behavior keeps people and strange dogs away and if this behavior causes an owner problems counter-conditioning and desensitization can be effective in changing their perspective and response.

Distress vocalization related most often to separation anxiety and frustration

One of the saddest forms of excessive vocalization is with cases of separation anxiety. These dogs often have other signs indicating an anxious state when faced with being left alone, but the most common is barking.

According to Lindsay (2000), MacLean (1985) “…has proposed that the neural substrates mediating separation distress, maternal care, and play belong to the same paleomammalian portion of the limbic system” and these “socially directed vocalization patterns may have originally evolved to maintain close contact” between the mammalian mother and offspring. In addition, Panksepp (1982) “views distress vocalization as stemming from a primal mammalian emotional system…specifically originating in those areas of the brain that mediate panic and explosive behavior” and further says, “…the major adaptive function…is to sustain social cohesion among organisms whose survival depends on reciprocity of care-soliciting and care-giving behaviors” (Lindsay, 2000).

When dogs are confronted with differing stimuli associated with owner presence and absence these areas of the brain and interconnecting circuits are activated resulting in signs of distress and panic in the dog (Lindsay, 2000).

This type of behavior problem can be complicated and if one suspects their dogs excessive barking is related to issues associated with separation distress I recommend either consulting with a certified veterinary behaviorist or qualified behavior consultant.

Play solicitation

According to Lindsay (2000), this same emotional system has evolved to include vocalization behavior functioning to “facilitate social harmony” among conspecifics and is first experienced with littermates and as they mature they continue to use barking as part of their social play repertoire.

One should be familiar with play behavior between dogs, as it is important to recognize any escalation between playing individuals. Oftentimes play behavior can result in serious fights. According to Lindsay (2001), [p]lay is relatively incompatible with aggression and fear” however “under the influence of escalating frustration or threat” often exhibited by barking “play may slip over into overt aggression.”

Genetics and rearing practices

Lest we forget that dogs have been selectively breed for specific purposes that include barking as part of their repertoire.

Often dogs will exhibit over-reactive personalities often attributed to genetics but one should also consider the environment where the dog was raised. Often dogs raised by over-reactive parents and sterile environments lacking novelty grow up to be hyperactive, over-reactive dogs. The result often includes common behavior problems i.e. attention-seeking behaviors related to jumping, mouthing and barking.

Finally, according to Dodman (1999), “it is always helpful for owners to understand the roots of a problem if they are going to invest time trying to correct it” rather than simply offering “mindless retraining exercises.” However, offering an explanation may not always be possible especially in cases of rescue dogs whose behavioral history may not provide sufficient information to draw definitive conclusions. In these cases, the behavior consultant and perhaps even the certified veterinary behaviorist may simply treat the reinforcing consequences of the behavior taking into consideration any precipitating stimuli that may be causing the barking. Often barking cases require assistance from qualified behavior consultants that may be helpful in finding out precipitating causes that may be contributing to the overall problem and often owners are unaware.

Is punishment appropriate for barking?

Barking is a normal communicative method for dogs and punishment has no place in treating barking problems, in fact, dogs often will bark for attention especially when bored or living in socially deficient environments. A trainer with sufficient knowledge in scientifically grounded positive training principles and canine behavior should be capable of offering a multitude of training options along with management strategies depending on the context of the barking for the average owner and without a more serious problem.

References

Beaver, Bonnie V. Canine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians

PA: Saunders. 1999.

Coppinger, Raymond, and Lorna Coppinger. Dogs: a new understanding of canine origin,

behavior and evolution. Chicago: Chicago UP, 2001.

Darwin, Charles Robert. The origin of species by means of natural selection.

New York: Gramercy, 1979.

Dodman, Nicholas H., Dogs behaving badly: an A-to-Z guide to understanding and curing

behavioral problems in dogs. New York: Bantam Books, 1999.

Horwitz, Debra F. (2001). Canine Communication.

Retrieved from http://www.vin.com/VINDBPub/searchPB/Proceedings/PR05000/PR00469.htm .

Lindsay, Steven R. Handbook of applied dog behavior and training. 2 Vols.

Iowa: Iowa SP. 2000. Vol. 1.

Lindsay, Steven R. Handbook of applied dog behavior and training. 2 Vols.

Iowa: Iowa SP. 2001. Vol. 2.

Thompson, Nicky (Ed.). (1995). The international encyclopedia of dogs/Anne Rogers Clark,

Andrew H. Brace . New York: Simon & Schuster.

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