Salinger: Week Two

Week Two and this little guy is starting to really settle. He makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis and I'm consistently blown away by his resilience. Walks are a lot of fun in this gorgeous weather as we explore the neighbourhood and meet some of the friendly dogs who live near us. There's a lot of exploring and grasshopper-hunting.

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Alpha Rolls and Alpha Roles

Dear well-meaning people in dog parks,

Please, for the love of doG, stop giving advice to other dog guardians that includes telling them to pin their dog on the ground after the dog has behaved in a way that concerns you.

What you have done with this advice is the following: 
a) put the person pinning the dog at risk for a serious bite
b) put the dogs near the dog who is being pinned at risk for a serious bite
c) caused long-lasting emotional trauma to the dog being pinned
d) made yourself *feel* good, but look very uneducated

Don't believe me? Ask the dog who mauled me in 2009 because I pinned him. Ask the many clients who have had to undergo reconstructive surgery because they pinned their dog.

Alpha rolling is NOT an acceptable human behaviour and it is no less inappropriate and damaging than alpha rolling a 3 year old child in the middle of a daycare.

http://respectyourdog.com/…/what-alpha-rolling-is-really-do…

I appreciate the business your well-meaning but dangerous advice brings me, but I would much rather see SAFE advice coming from people who have not studied animal behaviour and psychology.

What can you do when you see a dog behaving inappropriately in a dog park?

a) commiserate with them because we've all had *that* dog
b) ask them to retrieve their dog and take a break by going for a leashed walk
c) remove YOUR dog and recommend to others to do the same
d) hand them one of our business cards and let them know that behaviour change CAN happen but it's best to seek professional advice
e) avoid judgement, emotion, and conflict as best as you can - it's very frustrating to have a dog behave in a way that makes others uncomfortable

Thank you in advance,

An Actual Certified Professional Animal Trainer Who Has Studied Animal Behaviour And Psychology And Truly Understands Behavioural Science As Opposed to Dog Whispering Myths and Silliness.

The Daycare Dilemma

Daycare can be a great option for dogs who would otherwise be left alone for 8+ hours a day, or if they have isolation distress / separation anxiety that you are currently modifying. We must advise that there are few dogs that are a good fit in a daycare environment. Dogs are not built to be physically and mentally stimulated for long periods of time, and daycare can do just that. Overstimulation can cause aggression and inappropriate play between dogs. 

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Anaesthesia-Free Teeth Cleaning for Dogs

In the past few years I have come across a few incidents of an individual practicing anaesthesia-free teeth cleaning and every time, it has been very hush-hush. I wondered about the safety aspect, but also about the qualifications of the individuals who are practicing.
Recently this practice has become a little less hush-hush and clinics are being advertised openly. The marketing is enticing and the details sound credible to the average pet owner.

Those of us who actively and reputably work in the industry (trainers, veterinarians, groomers, etc...) know that this practice is highly dangerous, not to mention technically illegal. Even if the practitioner claims to be trained and “certified” - it doesn’t matter.

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The "Dog Park Dog Trainer"

We dog trainers have what we call a negative conditioned emotional response to a few things in the dog world. The terms "alpha", "pack leader", "stubborn" and (human) behaviours like alpha rolling, or the use of positive punishment (leash corrections, shock collars, physical reprimands). 

A common one comes to mind this week after three separate clients came to me and stated "this week I tried [XYZ] because there was a dog trainer in the dog park and (s)he said that it's very effective." 

It's hard to bite my tongue in those moments because [XYZ] is generally well-meaning but poor or dangerous advice from someone who may be a hobby dog trainer, but has little to no education in the field. More often than not I have to undo the damage there and explain why pinning the dog on the ground after he barked at the dog who was relentlessly humping him [or insert some other normal dog behaviour here] is not only ineffective but dangerous and considered inhumane..

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Your Dog's Cottage Survival Guide

Summertime is cottage time for many of us and that includes our four-legged friends. While we all dream of our summertime travels being relaxing, oftentimes a lack of preparation causes more stress than we bargained for. 

Whether you're heading to the cottage or a pet-friendly hotel or resort, or even simply to visit family and friends, this list of tools and tips will help you prepare for the worst and hopefully in turn give you the peaceful and enjoyable vacation you imagine. 

Summertime is cottage time for many of us and that includes our four-legged friends. While we all dream of our summertime travels being relaxing, oftentimes a lack of preparation causes more stress than we bargained for. 

Whether you're heading to the cottage or a pet-friendly hotel or resort, or even simply to visit family and friends, this list of tools and tips will help you prepare for the worst and hopefully in turn give you the peaceful and enjoyable vacation you imagine. 

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My biomedical scent detection project

For the past year and a half I have been doing a project at a hospital in Toronto (a collaborative project with researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax) which has been a dream come true in a sense: I have been able to combine my PhD education and 15+ years of experience as a researcher in cell biology and my love of training dogs. The project is in a relatively new and emerging field, biomedical scent detection research, the purpose of which is to investigate whether dogs’ sense of smell can be used to diagnose diseases. In my case the focus is on training dogs to detect a pathogenic micro-organism which is a major concern in healthcare facilities and certain communities. I still need to be cryptic here as the study is not published as we speak, but I want to share some observations and personal thoughts that have been on my mind regarding the training aspect of it.

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Just wait here...

As I walk through the city of Toronto on a daily basis, I am still shocked to see how many people still tie their dogs up outside outside stores and leave them for a stretch of time. I’ll admit to doing it up until 2011 when we had a series of dog-nappings in the city and my eyes were opened to the dangers. 

Dog-napping is not the only concern that is a reality when we tie our dogs up outside, but it’s a very real one. Dogs who are stolen are sold on Kijiji and Craigslist, sold for research (yes, that happens here in Ontario!), used as bait dogs in dog fighting rings, walked around the city for days/weeks/months/years on end by the homeless.

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