Truffles originally came to us for an extensive board & train program. She had a bit of a rough start to life and is trying her hardest to catch up on her social skills. Originally she had issues over reacting, nipping, charging and barking at people, dogs, kids, anything that moved really. Walking in public was nearly impossible, let alone loose leash walking or obedience from a distance. Fortunately, she has some very dedicated owners who are putting in the work and willing to give her the time and practice she needs to come around. Here are some clips of her progress this past week:
One of the questions my clients always ask me is, “What are you feeding your dogs?”
I always hesitate a little. Not because I don't want to answer but because it’s not a short or easily answered question. Mostly, they expect to hear me say some brand name and formula. In short, I try to provide them with the information necessary to do the research themselves and discover what they are comfortable with feeding. I usually start with explaining to them what dog kibble is and how we ended up feeding our dogs processed food.
In 1860 the pet food industry was born when a young electrician from Cincinnati named James Spratt , witnessed dogs devouring the leftover “ship’s biscuits” at a boat dock and he got an idea he could make cheap biscuits for dogs and sell them to the ever growing dog owner population. His intent wasn't quality, it was simply an entrepreneur doing what they do best, business.
In 1931 Nabisco bought into these dog biscuits and we ended up with the Milkbone biscuits we’ve all seen today. At the time, Nabisco employed a sales team nationwide and soon enough our local stores started carrying them. For the first time dog biscuits became a part of regular grocery shopping.
Then in the ‘50’s The Ralston Purina Company used their factory, that at the time was producing Chex Cereal, to begin production on the first food processed for dogs. Once it went into mass production it was named “Dog Chow” and we began seeing it everywhere.
In 1958, The Pet Food Institute was established to provide education about pet food and treat safety, nutrition, and health to pet lovers (Still exist today and but all board members are pet food companies). They began a 50 million dollar campaign to get people to stop feeding their dogs anything but packaged dog food. They funded "reports" that appeared in magazines, detailing the benefits of processed dog food, and even produced a radio spot about "the dangers of table scraps."
As of 2015 statistics the pet food industry is raking in over 23 Billion dollars annually. Gee, with that kind of success, what could possibly be motivating them to continue selling kibble?
So, what do I recommend to clients that want to purchase a premade dog food vs. feeding a home cooked or raw diet? A good quality dehydrated formula.
My go to dehydrated food is The Honest Kitchen. THK is human grade, organic, non-GMO, it’s prepared in a human grade facility with all locally sourced food and all the ingredients are excellent quality. The food is not over cooked, over processed nor does it have chemicals.
What’s on the label? Let’s look at THK Marvel formula:
All USDA Organic food
Zinc amino acid chelate
Vitamin D3 supplement
Vitamin E supplement
Iron amino acid chelate
Copper amino acid chelate
What's NOT in Honest Kitchen: (That can be found in even the best kibble)
Rendered products - Rendering is a process that converts waste animal tissue into stable materials
Spoiled grocery meats
Slaughterhouse waste (organs, heads, hooves, beaks, feet)
Bread and cereal rejects (cobs, stalks, mill sweepings)
Dying, diseased and disabled farm animals
Road kill (deer, skunks, and raccoons)
Contaminated grain middlings
Distiller fermentation waste
Spoiled supermarket food
Euthanized cats and dogs
Dead zoo animals
Genetically Modified Ingredients
Meat and Bone Meal
So in summary, I will always recommend a product that is AAFCO approved, FDA approved, USDA Organic, non-gmo certified, locally sourced, processed in a human grade processing plant, free of by-products, free of chemicals, free of preservatives, no corn, no soy, no wheat, no hormones and no antibiotics.
#dogfood #TheHonestKitchen #SacramentoDogTrainer #AnimalMindsBehavior&Training
Over the coming weeks we will be answering some of the questions we've received over the years. Please remember that the answers are provided based on the details given. We cannot provide outlined or foolproof answers without having met the animal or worked with it. All answers are suggestions only and are followed/implemented at the owners own risk.
"We got this dog from a friend and I believe he is 4 months old..he is a german shepherd and seams to look like me might of been hit alot...he won't move on the leash and always has tail between his legs...he won't look at me always has his head down and never wags his tail always seams scared and every noise he hears he trys to run and hide... I just don't know what to do...."
Situations like this are a tough one. Without knowing the past of the dog, I always encourage people to simply work with what you have. Train the animal in front of you. Not the unknown story behind it. We may never know if the pup was abused and there are many pups who may appear that way but unfortunately, it's also entirely possible that it is a genetic issue as well. Or a lack of socialization or neglect. There are so many what-if's that often times it's best just to progress with what you can actually see and that is 'behavior'. What is the puppy doing? What can you tangibly and repeatedly see affecting the animal and it's responses? Take note of those things (for future reference) and contact a trainer that can help you begin to build confidence in your own skills as well as the puppies. The sooner you get to working on things like this, the better.
"My 12 year old hound-rotty mix has started chasing (more of a limping hobble) and nipping at dogs's rears at the dog park. She will also growl and bark while wagging her tail, and she won't leave other dogs alone until she has had a chance to smell them and then yell at them. Most of the dogs there will ignore her but some don't know how to react. Can you explain what this behavior is?"
It is likely a mix of several things. Hounds love to follow their nose and often bark/are vocal towards anything that causes excitement or a reason to "alert". Not all breeds are quite as vocal as most hounds and this can certainly cause confusion for dogs who aren't sure what is so exciting. The nipping could be a way to demand a response from the confused/neutral/ignoring dog. Either way, it is a behavior I would encourage you to interrupt as it could understandably lead to miscommunication and if she's baying at the wrong dog, an aggressive response. It's important to make sure any of our dogs, when playing with others, play with well matched groups. If a dog doesn't seem to respond well to yours, that's totally normal and its time to move on.
Children and dogs, it's a touchy subject. One that most all in the dog world feel very conflicted about. I remember as a child my animals, dogs included, were by far my best friends. I had several breeds that were "known" to potentially be bad matches with children. Some might say I got lucky or that I just had really good dogs, and perhaps that was it but what I also had was good parenting. A mother and father that could read their animals well and teach their child how to be appropriate.
Now, we see tons of pictures these days of dogs clearly expressing stress or discomfort when a child is riding them or being inappropriate in some way. In the picture below, that I received from a client, you see an adolescent Mastiff with a toddler curled up taking their nap together. I'm sure some would say it may be inappropriate. It struck me that so often all I see now are the bad pictures and that perhaps, people are hesitant to post pictures with their children and their dogs these days.
It also was a reminder that there is ALWAYS gray area. There are those animals out there that seem to have that something special with a kid. This is one of those pictures. I've seen them together and that little girl is "his person". As someone who has cringed at as many youtube videos and meme's as I'm sure everyone else has, along with fellow trainers who are constantly gritting their teeth when watching clients dogs and children interact... the other side of the hill still exists. Know your dog.
Good parents still exist, children loving dogs are still around, and everything should be interpreted on a case by case basis. A picture or a video clip doesn't tell the whole story. This story with this picture is of a little girl and her dog that is every bit the dog he appears to be in the picture
When hard work and persistence comes together. Anyone who has successfully trained an animal knows that feeling. Particularly those with working goals. Whether it's service work, sports, etc. it takes an incredible amount of time and diligence. Today was one of those days where everything came together for this team and we're very proud of them. We've been working with Rosie and her family since she was a pup, day in and day out they followed our guidance on how to best prepare her for the road ahead. They have been an exemplary client and owners and today, Michael got to test out all that training and Rosie took right to it as well as anyone could have expected. Great job guys!
Thank you to the Better Business Bureau! We had a great time filming and look forward to participating in more Pro Tip videos in the future!
One of the hardest obstacles faced by animal shelters, veterinarians, rescues, fosters, trainers, really anyone who works in animal care or welfare really - is an unrelenting expectation and grossly misrepresented portrait of animals and how they should behave. Now, the reason I titled this blog “animals” instead of “pets” is simply to remind people that these are in fact ANIMALS we are speaking of. Living, breathing beings.
It seems like a simple concept really, right? Animals vs. pets. But the funny part is many people seems to have forgotten the animal part. People hear “pet” and think of something very different. We seek out these “pets” and bring them into our home. We let them sleep with our children and curl up with us on the couch. We go adopt a “stranger” from a shelter or breeder, of another species that sometimes we know very little about personally, and give it free reign of our home and valuables. And then, to make the concept even more interesting, we become surprised or upset when bad things happen. Now of course these bad things can be small, potty accidents or chewing of shoes - but other times they’re catastrophic for both the people involved and the animal. And when those things go terribly, suddenly we remember that it is an “animal”.
I pose this question to you - what other species does this? What other species takes an animal we know nothing about and just lets it into their home? Why is it we do it and think everything will be simple?
I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard, “If I had known they would be like this I wouldn’t have gotten them.” And that statement has been said about many various species over the years to me and nearly each and every time it was due to the person not doing their research. Very rarely was the animal acting so out of sorts that it warranted such a statement.
Whether it’s a dog, cats, horse, bird, tortoise, fish, whatever you intend to get - please take your time. Read, talk to others who own them, visit with them beforehand and MAKE SURE it is what you want. Taking on a life that will depend on you should be along the same lines as having a child. Some may shake their head and say “how can you compare having pets to having a child?” A life is a life. And seeing the affects it has on the animals when they are rehomed, neglected, abused, time and time again - and the way it breaks them - then you begin to understand that no matter what you may have originally thought… there is not one life that is worth more than another.
"If something seems too good to be true, it usually is."
I've seen a wide array of videos lately from trainers professing "miracle" results within a matter of minutes with dogs who have various behavioral issues. Now, they may not use the word miracle but the whole 'point' of the video is to show these tremendous results in a very short period of time. Additionally, they often mention other trainers have failed this dog in a type of "Look what I can do..." manner. Or as a testament as to why their methods “work" and others do not. This then becomes a battle for or against use of aversive/negative reinforcement or positive only. "This is why positive only doesn't work in real life..." while the dog in the prong collar sits quietly while a dog being lured with treats fails or reaches threshold and barks or "look what all those collar corrections did..." when the dog arrives fearful.
As a business, we must sell ourselves as does any business. Our process, skills, experience, etc. However if integrity and results are truly valuable to you - why wouldn't you value long term results? Why would you take to bashing other trainers and methods? To most every day pet owners things seem all well and good. They don't typically notice the issues with this "quick fix" training as they see instant results and are immediately satisfied. We are after all in a day and age where extra importance is placed on quick results. There are times where it can be imperative to see relatively quick results in order to help keep the dog in the home but more often than not - these “quick fixes” are more often than not - unnecessary and impractical. The dog is the one who suffers in the end.
For those of us that work in the behavior field and train along side these people… we know there is no ‘quick’ fix. Weeks or months down the line after your customers have gone on their merry way and your "quick fix" often begins to wear off… Other trainers are left to pick up the pieces with a much more difficult dog and you then become the one who failed the dog. It’s a vicious cycle, no puns intended. The other sad and often unmentioned part of this cycle, is for the dogs who it does not “wear off” because the dog has now learned to just stop reacting. Instead, you now have owners who have a false sense of security in their animal and often take them into situations they just aren’t ready for. (I will explain further towards the end).
Every dog is different and of course, should be evaluated as such. While some cases are easier than others - I will say this having worked on both sides of the fence:
Just because you can shut a dog down & teach it to avoid does NOT equate to the animal learning the social skills necessary to interact or engage in every day life. Teaching one but not the other is a disservice to the animal and your clients. Learned helplessness is real and if it is a term you are unfamiliar with, I urge you to catch up quickly. Whether the dog is fearfully reacting, has had a lack of boundaries/instruction/communication, is genetically a wreck, or is proactively challenging people/other dogs, etc… there are certain behaviors that need to be taught in place of these responses in order for the dog to move forward positively.
A missing link many seem to forget is although a dog may stop physically exhibiting the signs, does not mean they ‘feel’ different internally. Only through further training, time, experience, exposure and proofing do we confirm these thoughts. They cannot speak for themselves to tell us in the moment (if only) so how is it you magically 'know' this issue is solved? If you have not walked the steps I just listed, you don't know. It's an assumption. And we all know how safe those are to make in regards to animals and their behavior. It's not about positive or negative, both can be effective, it's about the quality of the trainer and their ability to evaluate the animal and their behavior continuously throughout their time with the dog. There is no blanket method that covers every behavior, temperament type, or situation successfully.
It is never professional to bash another trainer or method of training. It is certainly not professional to film or take pictures of people having difficulty or doing something that doesn’t work. They certainly will be too embarrassed to come to you when/if they decide to give another method a shot. I don’t care how much someone may have antagonized you for your use of a prong collar, I assure you I’ve received just as many “treat training doesn’t work” remarks while working my dog as I have negative remarks on my use of prongs or slip leads.
I do see a lot of trainers finding a happy “medium” to all of these methods and I do believe this to be the answer. However, I still see a ton of bashing and just have to wonder - why? Isn’t this about the dogs? Let your methods, experience, and skills speak for themselves.