Saturday, February 28, 2009

If You're Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be Too, Says Veterinary Study

If You're Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be Too, Says Veterinary Study
ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2009) — In a new, year-long University of Pennsylvania survey of dog owners who use confrontational or aversive methods to train aggressive pets, veterinary researchers have found that most of these animals will continue to be aggressive unless training techniques are modified.

The study, published in the current issue of Applied Animal Behavior Science, also showed that using non-aversive or neutral training methods such as additional exercise or rewards elicited very few aggressive responses.

“Nationwide, the No. 1 reason why dog owners take their pet to a veterinary behaviorist is to manage aggressive behavior,” Meghan E. Herron, lead author of the study, said. “Our study demonstrated that many confrontational training methods, whether staring down dogs, striking them or intimidating them with physical manipulation does little to correct improper behavior and can elicit aggressive responses.”

The team from the School of Veterinary Medicine at Penn suggest that primary-care veterinarians advise owners of the risks associated with such training methods and provide guidance and resources for safe management of behavior problems. Herron, Frances S. Shofer and Ilana R. Reisner, veterinarians with the Department of Clinical Studies at Penn Vet, produced a 30-item survey for dog owners who made behavioral service appointments at Penn Vet. In the questionnaire, dog owners were asked how they had previously treated aggressive behavior, whether there was a positive, negative or neutral effect on the dogs’ behavior and whether aggressive responses resulted from the method they used. Owners were also asked where they learned of the training technique they employed.

Of the 140 surveys completed, the most frequently listed recommendation sources were “self” and “trainers.” Several confrontational methods such as “hit or kick dog for undesirable behavior” (43 percent), “growl at dog” (41 percent), “physically force the release of an item from a dog's mouth” (39 percent), “alpha roll”physically -- rolling the dog onto its back and holding it (31 percent), “stare at or stare down” (30 percent), “dominance down” —- physically forcing the dog down onto its side (29 percent) and “grab dog by jowls and shake” (26 percent) elicited an aggressive response from at least 25 percent of the dogs on which they were attempted. In addition, dogs brought to the hospital for aggressive behavior towards familiar people were more likely to respond aggressively to some confrontational techniques than dogs brought in for other behavioral reasons.

“This study highlights the risk of dominance-based training, which has been made popular by TV, books and punishment-based training advocates,”Herron said. “These techniques are fear-eliciting and may lead to owner-directed aggression.”
Prior to seeking the counsel of a veterinary behaviorist, many dog owners attempt behavior-modification techniques suggested by a variety of sources. Recommendations often include the aversive-training techniques listed in the survey, all of which may provoke fearful or defensively aggressive behavior. Their common use may have grown from the idea that canine aggression is rooted in the need for social dominance or to a lack of dominance displayed by the owner. Advocates of this theory therefore suggest owners establish an “alpha” or pack-leader role.
The purpose of the Penn Vet study was to assess the behavioral effects and safety risks of techniques used historically by owners of dogs with behavior problems.
Adapted from materials provided by University of Pennsylvania.
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University of Pennsylvania (2009, February 18). If You're Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be Too, Says Veterinary Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2009, from /releases/2009/02/090217141540.htm

Friday, February 27, 2009

Classes & Workshops!

Polite Greetings and Leash Walking

Does your dog's pulling or jumping embarrass you? Or maybe you just want your arm back in its socket and the scratches on your legs to heal. Whatever your reasons for teaching your dog not to jump up during greetings and to walk politely on leash, it's a great idea! Just $80 includes workbook and snacks (for Alumni the cost is on $50)

Sat April 8, 2009 5:00-7:00 pm

Help out the Shelter Night

Come make pull toys for the dogs for of Dakin Animal Shelter. This wonderful night you will be enriching the life of a dog at the shelter while making a toy for you beloved fur-ball. Supplies cost is $15, please bring a dish to share.

Join us! April 23 6-7:30
Focus, Control and Recall EVERYTIME

This workshop is like two workshops in one, learn to keep your dogs
focus, in any situations including dog parks, around those pesky
squirrels, learn come when called EVERYTIME ™and so much more. Fee is
$95 (Alumni cost is just $60) and workbook limited to 5

Saturday April 25, 9:30-1:00
Pet First Aid,
This informative class, will be based on American Red Cross Pet First Aid and experience as an vet tech and EMT skills. This hands-on class teaches the needed skills to deal with an emergency or animal injury. How to make your own first aid kit. Limited to 6 students. Fee is $50 includes class, refreshments provided (no dogs please) Will use stuffed animals, will one real dog. Books will be available for sale that night.

Saturday April 25 2009; 4-6:30pm
Pet Nutrition-what the pet food companies don’t want you to know..., (include coffee and muffins & Danish) Get the Facts real fact on dog food, treats and so much more, limited to 10 students. Fee is $40 includes class, handouts (no dog please)

April 30th at 6:30-8pm

Massage Work & Aroma Therapy for your Canine and yourself!

This special class is taught Linda Jackson from Centre for Acupuncture ( Linda will share her 27 years experience with participants. This class is limited to just 8 students and their dogs. The class will cover basic and advanced canine massage, stretches, the use of aroma therapy and so much more. Fee is $95 includes class, supplies is provided. Limited to 8 students!

May 3, 9:30-1:00

Private Massage Sessions are also available following the workshop on May 3. These wonderful private sessions are just $40. Sessions fill VERY quickly! Sessions are 30 mins each from 1:30-3pm. Also there will be a monthly private sessions scheduled. Future dates to be scheduled at the May workshop.
Overcoming Fears! is your dog or you afraid of certain situations? Is you dog afraid of something (or everything) in his world. Do you feel like you are loosing your mind? This class goal is overcome his fears of children, dogs, loud noises, etc. This workshop fee includes refreshments $75.00 No Dogs!

Thurs May 14 6-7 pm


GREAT START PUPPY CLASS OPEN ENROLLMENT for puppies between 8 weeks-20 weeks, Class covers puppy-hood 101, the basic commands including sit, come when called, and stay among others. Socialization…Socialization, what it is, how to do it right and so much more to make your canine a good canine citizen! Skills covered include housebreaking, chewing, polite greetings, no begging, and no jumping, among others. This class is full of helpful information and participating in it will help build a better relationship with your dog. Just $140

Class meets Sundays 5:15-6:15 Join anytime!

Manners 101 How are your dog's manners? This 8-week class covers basic commands including sit, come when called, and stay among others. Skills covered include polite greetings, no begging, and no jumping, among others. This class is full of helpful information and participating in it will help build a better relationship with your dog. Just $160 for 8 weeks

Sat March 7-April 25 @ 8-9 am
Tues March 10-April 28 6-7 pm

Therapy Dog ClassThe focus of this class is on preparing the handler and dog for the therapy environment. This class is ideal for both the novice and experienced handler. This class will include field trips into the community to gain skills. Skills include working around medical equipment, loud noises, food, toys, and other distractions. Topics covered include stress and calming signals in dogs, infection control, medical ethics, general liability, and handling difficult visitation situations. Fee is $125 Limited to 6 students

Sat March 14-April 18 @ 10-11am

Agility for Beginner and IntermediateThis will allow you to explore the fastest growing dog sport and take their skills to the next level. You and your dog will learn trust and teamwork as your progress your skills and with sequencing obstacles and learn the footwork needed to be successful in the sport of agility. Your dog will jump through tires, tunnels, and weave poles, walk up ramps and much more. (Dogs must be a minimum of 5 months. for health and safety reasons) This 8 week class is limited to 6 dogs, fee is just $160

Tues March 10-April 28 @ 7-8 pm

Experience Handler Class: This class is ideal for the handler and dog with some experience under their collar and want to take there skills to the next level and improve their relationship. This group class covers relationship building skills. Class will cover improving your off leash walking; come when called with intense distractions; distance work, advanced sits and downs and other commands, intro to Rally –O, play with the agility equipment just to name a few. This wonderful class meets for 10 weeks. Fee is only $190 Limited to 8 handlers

Monday March 30, 2009 6:30-7:30 pm

Trick, Targets and games oh my…. This fun on going class is for graduates of 102 and above, this class will cover tricks and the art of drill team. We will cover marching, tricks are varied by the group, other skills cover is shaping and targeting, We will spend equal time on learning how to march and become a working, active drill team. There will be some small additional fees for such things as a drill/trick team t-shirt and other related items. Donations welcome in lieu of formal fee suggested donations $10. Limited to 12 handlers teams

Mondays 5:30-6:30 pm

Graduate Handling and Training: is for the most experienced handlers. This class will focus on skill building, the ultimate distractions while maintaining focus, social skills and so much more. This wonderful class will explore a variety of training skills, theories and sports; including drill team, free style, rally-o and agility, and so much more. This class is open to students with the desire to improve and bond more with their dog, the fee is $600 for this 6 months class. Limited to 8 students ONLY 2 spaces currently open (pro-rated rate)

Jan – June 2009 Sunday @ 8:30-9:30 am this on-going class

Aggression..... what is it REALLY???

A dog's bark may be worse than his bite, but most of us would rather not find out one way or the other. Growling, baring teeth, snarling, snapping, and biting are all aggressive behaviors—but dog aggression includes any behavior meant to intimidate or harm a person or another animal. Although these messages are among the handful of communication tools available to dogs, they're generally unacceptable to humans. Because humans and dogs have different communication systems, misunderstandings can occur between the two species.

But from a dog's perspective, there's always a reason for aggressive behavior. A person may intend to be friendly, but a dog may perceive that person's behavior as threatening or intimidating. Dogs aren't being schizophrenic, psychotic, crazy, or necessarily "vicious" when displaying aggressive behavior.

Because aggression is so complex, and because the potential consequences are so serious, we recommend that you get professional in-home help from an animal behavior specialist if your dog is displaying aggressive behavior.

Types of Aggression

Dominance Aggression: Dominance aggression is motivated by a challenge to a dog's social status or to his control of a social interaction. Dogs are social animals and view their human families as their social group or "pack." Based on the outcomes of social challenges among group members, a dominance hierarchy or "pecking order" is established.

If your dog perceives his own ranking in the hierarchy to be higher than yours, he'll probably challenge you in certain situations. Because people don't always understand canine communication, you may inadvertently challenge your dog's social position. A dominantly aggressive dog may growl if he is disturbed when resting or sleeping or if he is asked to give up a favorite spot, such as the couch or the bed. Physical restraint, even when done in a friendly manner (like hugging), may also cause your dog to respond aggressively. Reaching for your dog's collar, or reaching over his head to pet him, could also be interpreted as a challenge for dominance. Dominantly aggressive dogs are often described as "Jekyll and Hydes" because they can be very friendly when not challenged. Dominance aggression may be directed at people or at other animals. The most common reason for fights among dogs in the same family is instability in the dominance hierarchy.

Fear-Motivated Aggression: Fear-motivated aggression is a defensive reaction and occurs when a dog believes he is in danger of being harmed. Remember that it's your dog's perception of the situation, not your actual intent, which determines your dog's response. For example, you may raise your arm to throw a ball, but your dog may bite you because he believes he's protecting himself from being hit. A dog may also be fearfully aggressive when approached by other dogs.

Protective, Territorial, and Possessive Aggression: Protective, territorial, and possessive aggression are all very similar, and involve the defense of valuable resources. Territorial aggression is usually associated with defense of property, and that "territory" may extend well past the boundaries of your yard. For example, if you regularly walk your dog around the neighborhood and allow him to urine-mark, he may think his territory includes the entire block. Protective aggression usually refers to aggression directed toward people or animals whom a dog perceives as threats to his family, or pack. Dogs become possessively aggressive when defending their food, toys, or other valued objects, including items as peculiar as tissues stolen from the trash.

Redirected Aggression: This is a relatively common type of aggression but one that is often misunderstood by pet owners. If a dog is somehow provoked by a person or animal he is unable to attack, he may redirect this aggression onto someone else. For example, two family dogs may become excited, and bark and growl in response to another dog passing through the front yard; or two dogs confined behind a fence may turn and attack each other because they can't attack an intruder. Predation is usually considered to be a unique kind of aggressive behavior because it's motivated by the intent to obtain food, and not primarily by the intent to harm or intimidate.

Individual Variation

The likelihood of a dog to show aggressive behavior in any particular situation varies markedly from dog to dog. Some dogs tend to respond aggressively with very little stimulation. Others may be subjected to all kinds of threatening stimuli and events and yet never attempt to bite.

The difference in the threshold prompting aggressive behavior is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. If this threshold is low, a dog will be more likely to bite. Raising the threshold makes a dog less likely to respond aggressively. This threshold can be raised using behavior modification techniques, but the potential for change is influenced by a dog's gender, age, breed, general temperament, and the way in which the behavior modification techniques are chosen and implemented.

Because working with aggressive dogs can be potentially dangerous, behavior modification techniques should only be attempted by, or under the guidance of, an experienced animal behavior professional who understands animal learning theory and behavior.

What You Can Do:

First, check with your veterinarian to rule out medical causes for the aggressive behavior.

Seek professional advice. An aggression problem will not go away by itself. Working with aggression problems requires in-home help from an animal behavior specialist.

Take precautions. Your first priority is to keep people and other animals safe. Supervise, confine, and/or restrict your dog's activities until you can obtain professional guidance. You are liable for your dog's behavior. If you must take your dog out in public, consider a cage-type muzzle as a temporary precaution, and remember that some dogs are clever enough to get a muzzle off.

Avoid exposing your dog to situations where he is more likely to show aggression. You may need to keep him confined to a safe room and limit his contact with people.

If your dog is possessive of toys or treats, or territorial in certain locations, prevent access and you'll prevent the problem. In an emergency, bribe him with something better than what he has. For example, if he steals your shoe, trade him the shoe for a piece of chicken.

Spay or neuter your dog. Intact dogs are more likely to display dominance, territorial, and protective aggressive behavior.

What NOT to Do:

Punishment won't help and, in fact, will often make the problem worse. If the aggression is motivated by fear, punishment will make your dog more fearful, and therefore more aggressive. Attempting to punish or dominate a dominantly aggressive dog may actually lead him to escalate his behavior to retain his dominant position. This is likely to result in a bite or a severe attack. Punishing territorial, possessive, or protective aggression is likely to elicit additional defensive aggression.

© 2002. Adapted from material originally developed by applied animal behaviorists at the Dumb Friends League, Denver, Colorado. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What is Clicker Training

"Clicker Training" is a slang term used to describe a way of training animals that has become increasingly popular in the last decade because of its gentle methods. The scientific term for it is operant conditioning.

What is Operant Conditioning?

Operant conditioning is the way any animal (including the human kind) interacts with and learns from its environment. Simply put, an animal tends to repeat an action that has a positive consequence and tends not to repeat one that has a negative consequence. Trainers can take advantage of that natural tendency by providing positive reinforcement following an action that they want the animal to repeat. In order for the animal to connect the positive reinforcement to the behavior that he is doing, the reinforcement must happen AS the behavior is occurring, not afterwards. The actual reinforcement can't always be gotten to the animal at that precise instant, however.

Trainers needed to find another way of letting the animal know that he was doing the right thing, so they began using a conditioned reinforcer. A conditioned reinforcer is anything that wouldn't ordinarily be something the animal would work to get. A primary reinforcer, on the other hand, is something that the animal automatically finds reinforcing, such as food or water. When a conditioned reinforcer is paired with a primary reinforcer, they become of equal importance to the animal. Enter the clicker as a conditioned reinforcer.

The Clicker is generally a small plastic box with a metal strip that makes a sharp, clicking sound when pushed and released. It can be any sound really. What makes the clicker so effective its value is that the unique sound doesn't get lost in the babble of words we are constantly throwing at our dogs. It is faster than saying "Good dog!" and allows the trainer to mark with great precision the behavior for which the dog is being reinforced. Paired with something the animal finds very reinforcing such as food or playtime with a toy, the clicker becomes a powerful tool for shaping behavior.

Leading the Way offers all level of clicker training....

When you shape behavior, you reinforce closer and closer approximations of the actual behavior you are looking for. For instance, if you are trying to teach your dog to "shake hands" you would click and treat at first if he simply raised his paw just a bit off the ground. As you progressed, you would stop reinforcing a slight raise of the paw. You would now require that the paw is raised higher, and then the paw would have to come towards you, etc. Breaking the behavior down into TINY steps allows progress to be made quickly.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bring on the treats!

Bran 'n Cheese Balls
This cheese dog treat recipe is super easy.
1/4 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup Swiss cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup Bran Flakes (crumbled)
Combine cheeses, garlic and oil. Using plastic wrap, shape mixture into a log about 1 inch in diameter and 8 inches long. Roll log in crumbled Bran Flakes.
Refrigerate for about an hour. Slice into 1/2-inch rounds and serve.
Makes about 16 treats.

Microwave Doggie Cookies:

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tbs. oatmeal
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp garlic powder
2/3 cups beef or chicken broth

Place flour in a bowl, add egg & broth. Mix well. Blend in oatmeal & garlic powder. Roll dough into a ball, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with small cookie cutters. Arrange on a dish and bake in microwave for 5-8 minutes on high or until firm.

Best Buds Dog Biscuits Recipe
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup nonfat dry milk powder
½ cup oats, rolled (raw) -- quick cooking
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar

Cut in 1/3 cup shortening until mix is coarse crumbs. Stir in 1 egg. Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant chicken or beef bouillon granules in ½ cup water. Stir liquid into flour mix with a fork. Form dough into a ball and knead on floured board for 5 minutes. Divide ball in half and roll each portion until ½ inch thick. Use a cookie cutter or shape biscuits. Put 6 on a plate and microwave at medium for 5 to 10 minutes or until firm and dry to touch. Turn biscuits over after ½ cooking time

Homemade Frosty Paws

• 1 Quart plain or vanilla yogurt
• 1 banana or 1 lrg jar banana baby food
• 2 Tbsp peanut butter
• 2 Tbsp honey
• 2 Tbsp carob powder (optional)
If using regular banana mash well....mix all ingredients until well blended ( you could use a food processor or blender) Place into ice cube trays or small bathroom sized cups and freeze. Once frozen you can store in freezer in plastic bag. The great thing is you can play with recipe and add stuff that your dog likes. I use the carob powder or carob chips . Some people add granola to theirs.

No Bake Healthy Homemade DogTreats

APPLE SMEARS..................Approx 2 minutes
• Core an apple and cut into rings or wedges
• Make pieces as thick as you like
• Smear top with a thin layer of any of the spreads
• Watch your dog gobble it up!
ASPARAGUS SPEAROS........Approx 2 minutes
• * Cut off the bottom, hard end of a spear
• * Cut the spear part off and save for your dinner
• * Make a vertical slice into the remaining piece of stem
• * Smear a small amount of one of the spreads into this crack
BROCCOLI BOATS..............Approx 2 minutes
• Cut off the bottom, hard end of a broccoli stem
• Cut the floret parts off and save for your dinner
• Cut a slit in the remaining stem
• Apply a small amount of your dog's favorite into this "boat"
CARROT COOKIES...............Approx 2 minutes
• Cut a large carrot into rounds as thick as you want
• Spread one round with topping of choice, stick another on top
• You're done already!
CELERY SANDWICHES.........Approx 2 minutes
• Slice a celery stalk into two equal lengths
• Smear filling inside the groove of one stalk
• Stick the other stalk over it
• Feed to your dog(s) - yup, that quick!
POPCORN PUPPIES.............Approx 2 minutes
• Take two kernels of popcorn
• Add a 1/2 teaspoonful or less of spread
• Roll kernels in the spread till they stick together
• Give to doggie(s). Wash hands
WALNUT WEDGIES..............Approx 1 minute
• Take half a walnut
• Apply spread
• Stick another half walnut on top
• Repeat up to three times

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Calming Signals

Calming signals are a set of body language skills which dogs use to maintain healthy relationships and resolve conflict without having to resort to aggressive behaviors. These signals often occur early in interactions, as soon as a dog becomes aware that a situation may need “calming down.” This facet of canine communication is designed to help dogs calm themselves and others in the face of stress. Additionally, many dogs make use of calming signals in an effort to simply show goodwill. Dogs with the inability to signal and/or respond appropriately to signals often find themselves in predicaments. Essentially, calming signals are meant for the dog to display their stress in the hopes that the individual it is communicating with will understand and alter their behavior.

All breeds of dogs have calming signals; however some are more developed than others due to the differences in their physical attributes. Sometimes these signals may be very subtle in nature and at other times much more overt, often depending upon the level of threat that a dog is feeling. Many calming signals appear to be hardwired into dogs. For example, puppies may exhibit yawning as early as their first day when they are being picked up and handled. Dogs never completely lose their language, but if they do not have the opportunity to practice their signals, or if they are inadvertently punished for using them, calming signals may become suppressed, which unfortunately turns into a vicious circle.

When assessing if a dog is exhibiting calming signals or not, it is important to always look at the context of the situation surrounding the behavior.
1. Head turning/Averting gaze
2. Blinking/Softening gaze
3. Turning away
4. Play bow
5. Curving
6. Slow movements
7. Yawning
8. Sniffing
9. Splitting
10. Nose licking
11. Sitting/Laying down
12. Tail wagging
13. Marking
14. Freezing

Averting the Eyes
Breaking eye contact, by averting the eyes is often the first sign of stress observed in a dog.

Turning of the Head
If your dog becomes nervous about the approach of another dog or person, he may turn his head from side-to-side, or may just turn away. This signals the other dog that they are approaching too quickly or too directly.

Turning Away
This is an extension of turning your head. If a group of dogs are playing and some of them get too rough, other dogs may turn their side or back to them in order to get the dogs settled down. If your dog is jumping or whining at you, turning away from them may help calm them.

Nose Licking
Rapid flicking of the tongue over the nose is also a common calming signal. It is often seen with dogs at the veterinarians or when the dog is at the groomers.

Sniffing as a calming signal must be reviewed within the context in which it appears. Obviously, dogs sniff for other reasons than to just indicate stress.

Dogs may yawn when in stressful situations such as at the vet’s office or during a quarrel among its family. If your dog is feeling stressed, standing still and yawning may help them relax. They need to see you yawn though, so even though it is impolite, you do not want to cover your mouth if this is to work.

Play Position
Dogs will use a “play bow” (front legs and chest on the ground with hind quarters in the air) to initiate play or to calm another animal down that they are unsure about. You can do a play bow to initiate play or to help relax a dog.
You can learn much about your dog by just sitting back and watching them interact with you, other family members, other dogs and other animals. If you spend the time to do this, it will greatly increase your ability to communicate with your dog

When two dogs meet for the first time, it is very common to observe calming signals being demonstrated. In an effort to show politeness and good will, curving, or not approaching head on, is the typical way that two unfamiliar dogs will greet one another. If one dog is approaching too fast or straight on, and the second dog is concerned about this, you may witness the second dog sniff the ground, turn its head or even its entire body in an effort to slow down the approaching dog.

We also may witness calming signals during play. When play gets too rough, often one dog will stop and sit, signaling to the others that it is feeling some stress. Additionally, this is a time when splitting frequently occurs if one dog feels that two of the others are getting a bit too confrontational in their play style. Incidentally, this is what often takes place in a household when two people hug and the dog tries to move in between them. The dog is not feeling jealous; rather it is concerned that a confrontation may ensue.

Dogs use calming signals not just in inter-dog communication but also when communicating with other species. For example, when a guardian raises their voice to their dog, or even makes extensive hand gestures, the dog will frequently look away. For many dogs subtle movements such as leaning forward may be enough to elicit calming behavior on the part of the dog. There are numerous physical acts that we as humans do which our dogs find distasteful, such as hugging. In almost all instances that we have seen a human hug their dog, the dog looks miserable and is performing a head turn in an effort to display that they are uncomfortable with the situation. Moreover, we commonly see a dog nose licking or yawning at the veterinarian’s office where they typically experience high levels of anxiety and/or restraint.

When working with dogs we watch for calming signals and at the first sign of them we attempt to modify our behavior. For example, when approaching a dog we do so in a curved fashion if at all possible. This allows for our initial greeting to be polite in nature. Also, when training, if we have a dog exhibiting calming signals, we may end the session if we cannot determine and make the appropriate adjustments to ameliorate whatever is distressing to the dog. Splitting is commonly used during classes and playtimes if we feel that dogs are getting too rowdy or we are concerned about a potential conflict. In order to show good will, one of the signals we use most frequently and one of the easiest to use is a head turn followed by turning sideways to the dog if need be. Some signals of course are easier for humans to imitate than others, such as averting eyes, turning, yawning and splitting.

The most important thing that you can do when working with your dog is to simply watch the dog. Humans have a very different communication system from dogs and many things that we do our canine companions find offensive and distressful. When our pets show us calming signals, we need to observe these and cease what we are doing. All dogs are individuals and some will be more sensitive than others to particular situations. Some of the more predictable human behaviors that elicit calming signals are raising our voices (I hope that one is obvious), leaning over the dog, staring, patting the dog on the head, and physically manipulating the dogs body position. While dogs can be taught to tolerate some of these items, and even occasionally come to like them (not yelling), this does not come naturally for the dog.

Stress has the same effect upon the body whether it is “good” stress or “bad” stress, and that effect can be disastrous over the long haul. Stress occurs in any situation when a dog is feeling threatened or as though it cannot cope with the present circumstances that it is finding itself in. Essentially, what transpires when a dog gets stressed is that first its adrenaline levels increase. This increases strength and ability to move quickly should need be. The adrenaline is a short term stress hormone that in turn activates cortisol, a longer term stress hormone. When adrenaline increases it affects ADH (antidiuretic hormone) which controls water balance. This is why we see sweaty pads and increased urination in times of stress. The gastric juices, sex hormones and defense mechanisms also rise, leading to increased irritability. It takes anywhere from two to six days for cortisol levels to return to normal. This is why it is so critical that animals not be stressed on a daily basis and that they learn to cope in a positive manner so they are not continually producing cortisol as the stress can accumulate slowly. This is where the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” comes into play.

The following are some of the signs that a dog may exhibit when they are experiencing stress:
1. Panting
2. Vocalizing
3. Shedding/Dandruff
4. Scratching/Licking/Biting self
5. Shaking
6. Sweaty paws/Increased urination
7. Diarrhea/Urinating or defecating inappropriately (providing house trained)
8. Circling/Restless/Pacing
9. Chewing items
10. Allergies
11. Displacement behaviors/Increased reactivity
12. Shuts down

It is important to remember that all calming signals are displayed at low levels of stress. As the stress level increases, calming signals will cease to be displayed.
The following is a list of just some of the items that can lead to stress in a dog:
1. Not having basic needs met (food, water, elimination needs)
2. Punitive training/aggression
3. Too much exercise or too little exercise
4. Pain
5. Being left alone or being in an overly crowded area
6. Sudden changes
7. Frightening situations
Remember, all dogs are individuals and as such different things will stress different dogs.
Dogs that live with high levels of stress are much more likely to have health problems, such as gastrointestinal difficulties, and be quicker to react in difficult situations.
Rugaas, Turid. On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals. Dogwise Publishing, Washington. 2006.
Rugaas, Turid. Calming Signals: What Your Dog Tells You. Dogwise Publishing. (DVD run time 48 minutes).
Calming Signals Community -

Monday, February 23, 2009

Where dogs go to ruff it.....CAMP UNLEASHED

This is the 4th season Leading the Way has had the amazing opportunity to be part of this wonderful experience. Join us this June and or Sept 2009!

from Camp Unleashed web

Hello and Welcome to Camp Unleashed!

Camp Unleashed is dedicated to honoring and respecting the spirit of dogs in the community of like-minded souls, both human and canine.

I founded Camp Unleashed completely out of my love for dogs and the joy that I experience by their presence in my life. I also believe that people who are drawn deeply to dogs are participating in an incredibly rich journey of discovery that is pioneering a path toward more inter-species communication and partnership.

Camp Unleashed is a retreat in the countryside where people who feel this extraordinary kinship with dogs can come to experience and celebrate their relationship to the fullest, while deepening their understanding of the canine nature and having a lot of fun, too!

With that purpose in mind, I have brought together a team of outstanding and devoted dog professionals to lead us in a weekend of absolute enjoyment. You will be amazed at the elevation of spirit that comes from being in nature with a pack of wildly happy dogs and their people.

I invite you to join us for our next session. Let the howling begin!

Annie Brody
Founder and Director Unleash your dog's true canine spirit!

Escape to the country and enjoy a re-energizing retreat in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. Hike with your dog off-leash in a safe, forested setting; take refreshing swims together in a a lake; discover your dog’s talents in agility and other canine sports.

Camp Unleashed takes place on the 1,300-acre grounds of the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA Camp, in Becket, MA. We are within easy reach of the New York State Thruway and the Massachusetts Turnpike, 39 miles northwest of Springfield, 121 miles west of Boston, and 150 miles from New York City.

Summer and Fall Camp Unleashed sessions take place at Camp Becket of Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA in the Berkshires. The facility features spacious woodsy cabins and open space in a forested lakeside setting. There are 12 miles of hiking trails. Lodging is truly rustic — there is no electricity in the cabins. Fresh towels will be provided, but campers need to bring their own linens, sleeping pillow and blanket. Each group of cabins has its own wash house with private toilets and shower stalls, sinks, electrical outlets, lights and hot and cold running water. Three healthy meals, with options for vegetarians, are served daily.

Our camp sessions generally take place from Thursday afternoons at 2:00 pm and end on Sunday afternoons around 4:00 pm. Camp package fees include your selected lodging (dogs sleep with you!), meals (for people) and snacks (for dogs and people) plus all standard activities and workshops. Food quality is far and away above standard camp fare and offers many choices including options for vegetarians.

What the campers have to say...
the most profound weekends of my life. . . By allowing dogs off-leash in the company of other creatures—Camp Unleashed creates an environment that leads to discovery. —Prof. S. Sokuvitz

I cannot express how grateful I am for this experience—my dog and I have bonded more than ever. —D. Bartlett

Thank you for making our doggie weekend away a most memorable and fulfilling experience! We both enjoyed the many activities as well as the beautiful surroundings. . . The camp and the freedom it allows our dogs to have is the way it was meant to be for our special friends. What a joy to see them roaming free and interacting with other dogs and their people! —D. Corcoran

I loved that my dog got to act as part of a pack! I got to see that I could trust him to return to me and I got to watch him RUN and PLAY!! it was heartwarming. —C. DiMarzio-Richards

Great bonding experience! I also learned to trust my dog so much more off leash!! —J. Rosenbaum

What a fantastic experience for both of us—to live the entire weekend with the dogs off leash! I love this camp and the whole philosophy. —Anonymous

Camp truly was heaven on earth for both our dogs and the humans in my group. —K. Dolan

Thanks for an awesome dog camp experience! —D. Gallagher

It was great to be able to spend 24 hours a day with my dog. Having her welcome everywhere was great. Everyone was extremely friendly. The care and love for the dogs was especially obvious. —P. Connagher

I can't remember Sadie and Roo ever having such fun...a three-day "walkie!" It took them about two weeks to settle down afterwards... Things have returned to normal but I bet they dream about those three glorious days and all their new canine friends running free. —K. Lynch

Thanks for your wonderful selection of lecturers. I have started making my own dog food and have been doing massage and Reiki on my 11½ year old elkhound. She is bouncing with health and happiness! —L. Sassman

Through camp I gained a better understanding of who my dog and I are and how we are, together. Before camp my understanding of Pansy was MY experience with other dogs. But in reality she's nothing like any dog I've even known. I've become very aware of how she reacts to me and my feelings and how I react to her and hers. —J. Pierce

We can't thank you enough for the wonderful time we had at Camp Unleashed. It was really a dream come true for all of us—the two and four-legged participants! Our dear dogs, Miss Paws and Lillie, smiled from arrival through departure. When we returned home both slept soundly while dreaming of their great trip and running in their sleep. We all went to bed with smiles and great memories. —L. Blick

If you want to connect to the funniest, sweetest and coolest parts of yourself, go to Camp Unleashed. And as an added bonus, see yourself laughing with your favorite pal, Your Dog! —T. Rosen

Summer session: June 4-7, 2009
Fall session: September 4-7, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Does your child(ren) love dogs? Come join Pioneer K-9 4-H club!

Dog Project

Whether you are preparing to purchase or adopt your first dog or you just want to learn more about the dog you currently own, the 4-H Dog Project will teach you how to select the right dog, how to properly feed and groom your pet and the basics of training, judging and showing. 4-H dog members can also learn about agility, record keeping and public presentations.

4-H Project Record Books are an important part of all 4-H projects. In the Dog Project, you will keep records on:

Vaccinations record and dates.
Expenses: Veterinary, food and supplies, training fees, etc.
Income: Awards, pet sitting jobs, sales of puppies, etc.
Training record for your dog.
Experience in community service, club activities, any offices held, dog activities, presentations, etc.
The State 4-H Dog Camp is a weekend event held in May at 4-H Camp Farley in Mashpee, MA. This event gives youth the opportunity to take their dog to camp to improve on their handling, grooming and obedience skills plus have a fun time at camp.

A State 4-H Dog Show is held in the month of May. This is a great opportunity for members to meet other 4-H dog enthusiasts from across the state and prepare for the Eastern States Exposition 4-H Dog Show in September in West Springfield, MA.

It is recommended that club members or their families own a dog, although it not a requirement.

If you are interested in becoming a 4-H Dog Club Leader or if you would like to join an existing club, please contact one of our staff listed below.


American Kennel Club:

Eastern States Exposition 4-H Dog Show Rules:

Points to Consider When Purchasing Companion Animals

Members: may request one free copy each of the AKC publications listed below. See address below under Leaders section:

Obedience Regulations
Junior Showmanship
Dogs--A General information Booklet
Canine Summer Safety
Winter Care for Canines
Getting Started Series
Rules Applying to Dog Shows
Leaders: may request one free copy of each of the AKC publications listed above, and the following:

AKC Order Form
Canine good Citizen Program Information
Print your name, address, city, state, and zip code and send the postcard to:
American Kennel Club
5580 Centerview Drive, Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27606-3390
For further information, please contact:

Carrie Chickering-Sears
Director of Community Education in Animal Agriculture
University of Massachusetts Amherst Veterinary & Animal Science Dept.
111 North Maple Street
Hadley, MA 01035
Phone: 413-549-3257

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ways You Can Volunteer to Help Homeless Pets

Volunteer to help with pet adoptions at outlying locations.

Many shelters partner with chain stores such as PETCO, PetSmart to set up temporary adoption locations on certain days of the week. You can help just a few hours a week.

Volunteer your services.

-- Are you a web designer? Offer to help with web site design, newsletter formatting and/or blogs.

-- If you're a digital photographer . . . you don't have to be a professional . . . offer to take photos of adoptable pets and edit those photos for website or print publications.

-- Do you know the fine points of search engine optimization for websites? Then help your shelter or rescue group with the copy and design tips that will help them be found online.

-- If you enjoy writing, offer to write articles for your shelter's website or newsletter. Or use your skills to write captions to describe adoptable pets for newspaper ads. Clever captions and descriptions of pets can create interest for that specific pet.

Offering transportation services, asking your veterinarian to provide discounted services for the local shelter, offering to spay or neuter your neighbor's pet, and more.

Help animals in your community who don't live in the shelter.

Meals on Wheels or other community services providing food for families in need often have pet food banks. Donate pet food to these groups.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What Kids Can Do for shetler andimals and other animals

Help the kids in your life improve the lives of homeless animals. Following are some ideas.

Start a pet drive at school, church, etc.

Meals on Wheels programs often deliver pet food to their clients. Dakin Animal Shelter has a partnership with Meal on Wheels. Find out what group(s) in your community have a food bank for people and partner with them for setting up a pet food bank if one isn't already established.

Start a tradition in your family of giving to a pet food bank . . . not just at holidays, but frequently throughout the year.

Volunteer for Animals as a Family

Shelters use volunteers to walk dogs and play with cats. Take your children (10 and up for most shelters) to your local shelter to participate. These pets need lots of human interaction to make them more sociable and adoptable.

Have your family Sponsor a Contest at child's School

Which class can bring the most pet food or other items for your shelter's wish list? Offer the winning class a fun activity, such as a pizza party.

Include Animals at Holiday Parties or Special Events

-- For Valentine's Day at school, bring "valentines" for the animals at the local shelter. Ask for the shelter's wish list, and ask each child to bring an item. Have a field trip to the shelter to deliver these valentines.

-- Plan your children's birthday parties to include a visit to the animal shelter. Ask guests to bring items from your shelter's wish list or pet food (specify the brands they ask for).

Involve Kids in the Pet Adoption Process

Partner with your local shelter to organize a sidewalk pet adoption at a mall or other high traffic area. Ask the shelter to let kids participate in the adoption process at community events, fairs, etc.

Help Kids Raise Money for Shelters

Sign Up for Our Email Newsletter

Kids can have a bake sale or set up lemonade stands to raise money for the local shelter in conjunction with community events.

Ask art galleries to sponsor an art contest for kids. The winning "artists" will present a check to the local shelter.

Think of activities that are appropriate for your community. Ask your shelter for ideas. Better yet, ask kids what they'd like to do.

Create Email Newsletters. Easy to Use with Free Support.

AWeber offers an easy to use solution for sending email newsletters. They offer free templates and manage the email database. It's the service we use. You have 30 days to test it and can get a refund if it's not right for you. Check out AWeber.

Participate in Education Programs for Local Schools

If your shelter and school aren't offering humane education at school, help your child and his / her friends to get a program started. Help them make the right contacts at the shelter and at school and make suggestions on what kids need to know about homeless animals.

Could you be a "chaperone" for animal visits to your child's school?

Local Boy Scout or Girl Scout Troops Can Earn Badges

Help your local troop earn a badge by helping animals. Get the scouts' input on what they'd like to do and coordinate with your shelter. Send a press release to your local paper to get community support.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Sharing the love with your pup...with valentines

Indulge your pooch with a "pet spa day." An aromatherapy spa treatment will relax your dog's cares away. Start with a warm bath and blow dry, and finish with a well-deserved massage. Your dog will return home rejuvenated.

• Try a night away for two. Getting out of town with your dog is a fun way to bond outside of the home. Whether you go down the road or somewhere exotic, there are many dog-friendly hotels that are more then happy to accommodate you and your pup.

• Get some exercise. A spirited walk and a picnic in your local dog park is a great way to burn energy and spend some quality time together. Who knows-maybe your canine will find a valentine, too.

• If outdoor therapy isn't for your dog, maybe a little retail therapy is! Spend time together on a shopping spree at your favorite pet retailer or boutique. Clothing and accessories aren't the only things that will spoil your dog. How about a luxury pet bed that will send your dog to an ultra comfortable dream world? You both will sleep easy knowing this purchase was meant to pamper.

• Remember this special day forever by having a one-of-a-kind pet portrait made of your dog. You will appreciate the elegance and joy that this artwork will bring for years to come.

• Give your furry friend a new toy. Nothing says "Be My Valentine" like a pink or red heart-shaped chew toy. Be sure it is dog-safe and your four-legged friend will get hours of enjoyment out of a new plaything. Plus, those cute little toys scattered throughout the house are just little reminders of how much you love your pup.
Leading the Way offers doggie daycare and all types of training, including private, group classes and a residential training program. Behavior assessment and modification is done using ONLY positive methods focused on shaping behavior.

We have over 25 years of professional experience, dedicated to enhancing the relationship of both ends of the leash, through knowledge, compassion, and building long term relationships with our clients, both two and four legged.