Archive for the ‘Dog Training’ Category

Resolutions for the New Year That Will Benefit You and Your Pet

January 1, 2012

The transition to a new calendar year may inspire you to muster the resolve to make good changes in your life. How about the lives of your pets? No time like the present to make some new year’s resolutions that will benefit both of you. Here are three suggestions:

More Face Time With Your Pets

Our furry family members are more than happy to be our exercise partners, confidantes, psychotherapists, and nonelectric heating blankets. Take advantage of such pet-facilitated services as much as possible this year!

What dog doesn’t crave attention from their favorite human? Teach your best friend some new tricks. Begin working on that long overdue grooming. Get your pup out for more exercise (lose the sedentary human behavior at the dog park). Don’t let the winter weather be a deterrent. Go shopping for some canine winter apparel and gift yourself with Dr. Phil Zeltzman’s book, Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound to glean some inspiration!

What about our kitties? Well you know how it is- cats tend to like things on their terms. However, even the most curmudgeonly of cats will benefit from a feather toy tempting them to expend some energy and some affectionate scratches under the chin. The challenge is to spend more quality time with your kitties while convincing them that the activity is of their choosing.

Fewer Vaccinations

Your adult pet’s good health requires inoculation with core vaccinations no more than once every three years. The term “core” is reserved for those vaccines, such as distemper, that are recommended for every adult animal. Overvaccinating (vaccinating more than once every three years) exposes your best little buddy to needless risk (yes, there is some risk associated with every vaccination). Besides, why spend your hard earned money on something that is completely unnecessary?

If your veterinarian has remained on the “once a year bandwagon” and the thought of convincing him or her otherwise gives you a case of the willies, I encourage you to read the chapter called, “Discussion About Your Dog’s Vaccinations” in Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet. Kathie please make this a live link to the Amazon page The information found there will provide you with all the inspiration you need to broach the vaccination conversation with your vet. (For those of you who are cat fanciers, please know that my hope is to create the feline version of this book within the year. In the meantime, know that the basic principles provided in Your Dog’s Best Health apply to kitty care as well.)

Recruit a Professional to Help With Your Pet’s Behavioral Issues

Would you love to be able to leave your dog home alone for more than ten minutes without the house being destroyed? Would you be ecstatic if your precious puss quit spraying your walls with his version of graffiti? Would you relish the idea of taking your dog for a walk without having to ice your shoulder afterwards? There is no time like the present to tackle such behavioral issues. I encourage you to get the professional help you need so that you and your pet can fully enjoy cohabitating. Chronic behavior issues tend to gradually result in more and more isolation for the pet until most of their waking hours are spent within a crate, a single room of the house, or the backyard. Such isolation begets even more negative adaptive behaviors, and the end result may be relinquishment to a shelter or rescue organization; worse yet, euthanasia.

Please know that if your dog or cat has a significant behavioral issue, you are certainly not alone. Also know that the sooner the issue is dealt with, the happier the outcome will be for both you and your pet. Hiring a pro to help you work out a behavior bugaboo will be one of the best investments you make this year!

When choosing a trainer or behaviorist, check in with your veterinarian for a recommendation. Additionally, check out the websites below. You’ll find lots of information about how to choose the right person to help you with the issue at hand. These sites also have “locators” to help you find a professional in your area.

Association of Pet Dog Trainers

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

Animal Behavior Society

American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

Have you made any “pet resolutions” this year? Does your pet have a behavioral issue that is affecting the quality of your life? Have you successfully dealt with a significant behavioral issue in the past? Please share what you know so that others may offer advice and/or benefit from what you have learned.

Best wishes for a happy new year,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

The Dog Days of Summer Camp

August 15, 2011

Nothing quite tickles my heart like stories conveying the human animal connection.  Sometimes such stories put a big goofy grin on my face, and sometimes they cause my eyes and nose to become uncontrolled leaky faucets.  Needless to say, I prefer the former to the latter!

The following human-animal bond story was written by my dear friend Kathie Meier and was published in Marin Pets, a blog moderated by the Marin Humane Society.  Between Kathie’s descriptions and her fabulous photos, this story succeeded in putting a big goofy grin on my face!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

 

Even though I am many moons past my own summer camp days I look forward each year to volunteering with my animal companions at the Marin Humane Society’s summer camp for children entering first through sixth grades.

For nine weeks on Friday afternoons the Pavilion is filled with the laughter and chatter of excited campers, and the tail wags and kisses of ten fabulous SHARE dogs.  In no time the kids have their eager buddies doing sits, downs, and puppy push-ups and traversing beginning agility equipment.

The real fun begins when the kids “teach” their companion a trick and then perform it.  To the absolute delight of all we’ve watched Mooki, Duncan and Winston zip through legs, Sophie sit upright and wave her paws, Woody shake, Chudleigh play dead, Charlotte play the toy piano with her nose, Tigger, MJ, and Angus run an agility course, Katie dance, Autumn, Kuri and Frisco jump through hoops, Chloe and Mitzi roll over, and Lance balance a treat on his nose and catch it.
This is my 11th year coming to summer camp with my dogs. While the kids have grown and changed over the years, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the magic of the bond of having animals in our lives.  The camp provides the children a wonderful opportunity to spend the week learning about animals of all shapes and sizes and to work 1-on-1 with some very special dogs.

The Marin Humane Society SHARE Program dogs participate in a wide variety of animal-assisted therapy programs including visits to seniors, reading with children through SHARE a Book, and classroom humane education programs throughout Marin.  I know my pup Charlotte would say that paws down the summer camp dog training is her favorite!  No surprise that each year it’s also the favorite activity of the children.

Kathie Meier- www.brrnese.com

_____________________________________________________

Have you and one of your pets participated in an animal-assisted therapy program?  If so, I would love to hear all about it.

Best wishes for good health,

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Patricia McConnell on The Diane Rehm Show

March 19, 2010

Patricia McConnell, expert on canine and feline behavior and dog training and author of more than a dozen books on canine behavior and dog training will be the featured guest on the NPR’s highly popular Diane Rehm Show on Monday March 22nd.

Please visit the NPR website to  find your local station- http://www.npr.org/templates/stations/schedule/?prgId=33. The podcasts are also available through ITunes and on the show website shortly after broadcast.

Patricia McConnell on The Diane Rehm Show

March 19, 2010

Patricia McConnell, expert on canine and feline behavior and dog training and author of more than a dozen books on canine behavior and dog training will be the featured guest on the NPR’s highly popular Diane Rehm Show on Monday March 22nd.

Please visit the NPR website to  find your local station- http://www.npr.org/templates/stations/schedule/?prgId=33. The podcasts are also available through ITunes and on the show website shortly after broadcast.

Puppy Mills: Part II

January 16, 2010

I received an abundance of feedback in response to my recent blog about puppy mills.  Thanks to all of you who took the time to share your feelings concerning this emotional topic.  Virtually all of the comments expressed agreement that puppy mills are despicable and we wish they would cease to exist.  They also included important ideas that prompted me to think, “Wow, I wish I’d included that in my blog!”  Needless to say, I can’t resist sharing these wonderful comments and stories. 

Many of you reminded me that puppy mills spawn significant behavioral issues in their “merchandise” that can be just as devastating, if not more so, than the health issues that arise: 

Debbie wrote, “The physical abnormalities in puppy mill dogs are often accompanied by behavioral problems as well, fear being a major issue for many of these dogs who receive inappropriate or inadequate socialization. Like many medical issues the damage done due to inappropriate socialization may also be irreparable.” 

Diane commented, “I wanted to point out that for me, behavioral issues are also a major concern in addition to the health problems.  Don’t get me wrong, I get my business from people who buy these puppies, but honestly, I would rather just have a class full of wonderful healthy puppies and find some other way to make money.” 

Viviane wrote, “The health problems associated with puppy mills are truly heartbreaking and your post about this brought me to tears.  As a dog trainer and dog behavior consultant, I also see the behavioral results of this sort of breeding operation all too often, and that too is heartbreaking for unsuspecting souls who fall for a sweet face only to discover profound shyness and/or reactivity.  The dog that should have given a lifetime of joy and companionship and of course received the same, now is a beloved but seriously flawed family member who requires management and training to varying degrees for a life time.” 

Vanna stated, “I think it is really important to also point out that these puppy mill dogs aren’t properly socialized early on and therefore there are often serious issues by the time they bring the dog home.  Of course there is also an issue since they aren’t breeding for temperament.” 

Some thought I was tough enough on the puppy mills, but far too soft on the people who patronize puppy mills.  

Kerri commented, “It angers me because people who are educated about these horrible operations still buy from them. You say in your post, “Puppy mills stay in business by preying on people who are willing to buy a puppy without doing their research.” When I read that, I thought it was letting the buyers off way too easy. By the late 1990s when I rescued my first Doxie and wrote an investigative piece, Disposable Pets (http://www.writeforyou.biz/Disposable-Pets.htm) it was becoming known, but I think the general public could still be excused for ignorance. Today, the puppy mill buying public would have to literally live in a bubble not to know the problem of puppy mills and the terrible conditions from which these dogs come.” 

I couldn’t resist sharing Diane’s inspirational comment with you:  “Here! Here! I go one-step further…… I do not buy ANYTHING from pet stores that sell puppies!” 

A few people reminded me that, as states are cracking down on puppy mills, the innocent victims wind up in shelters and breed rescue organizations.  The people who care for them will require extra help for these emotionally fragile dogs.  There is an instructional DVD addressing this unique situation (check out www.missiondog.com). 

Lastly, before I share Jeff’s poignant puppy mill story, please be reminded:  The purebred dog of your dreams may be awaiting you at your local shelter (yes, many purebred dogs do land there) or breed rescue association.  Please don’t forget to consider these options when you are thinking about “expanding the family.” 

Now, here is Jeff’s story:  

“Nancy: As you may perhaps recall, you sent a couple of very kind emails last year when our little Yorkie, Shelly, died suddenly after having three vaccinations in one day.  Soon after we were lucky enough to adopt two Yorkies who were saved from a raided puppy mill near New Hope, Pennsylvania.  Forty-six Yorkies were found in an abandoned house in the winter with no heat or water.  They were living in birdcages.  The Bucks County SPCA is the hero of this story.  Their director, Ann Irwin and her people responded to the police in the middle of the night.  She mobilized her whole staff and descended on the house at two in the morning and snatched up the poor little dogs.  I visited the SPCA a day later when they were giving the little tykes baths.  Most were so matted and filthy that they just shaved masses of fur rather than try to wash them.  We adopted a very small female, Molly, who they estimate is 5-6 years old.  She has numerous cesarean scars on her tummy from her various births.  When we got to the house, I took her outside to pee, but she was shocked at standing on grass; a first time experience.  After a day or so I was concerned that she wasn’t drinking water.  Then it struck me that she probably was not used to drinking from a bowl.  I bought her a tube type water dispenser like you would give to a hamster in a cage.  She practically emptied it.  I don’t think Molly will ever be completely house broken.  The extraordinary thing is how affectionate she is.  Having gone through what she did one would think she would fear humans.  She is the most loving little dog I have ever owned. The second dog is a puppy from one of the pregnant mothers who they let go to term.  We originally called her Lucy, but I renamed her Lucifer because she is so bad!  These dogs are a great joy, but I have no illusions about Molly.  I don’t think she will become an old dog due to her difficult years living in birdcages in unheated basements with poor nutrition.” 

Molly at the SPCA after being shaved and bathed

Molly at the SPCA after being shaved and bathed

Molly in her new home

Molly in her new home

Molly and Lucifer

Molly and Lucifer

Thanks to everyone who shared their opinions and stories.  Let’s hope for ongoing progress in the fight against puppy mills.  Wishing you and your four-legged family members abundant good health.

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Order  a copy of Speaking for Spot personally signed by Dr. Kay – http://www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

 

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Nellie (Toto) is a Superstar!

January 1, 2010

My little Nellie has become a star of stage! For those of you who may have missed it (http://speakingforspot.com/blog/?p=537), I blogged about volunteering to train my little, bitty ragamuffin of a mutt to become a believable Toto in the Santa Rosa Junior College production of the Wizard of Oz.  Nellie and I trained tirelessly for two solid months during which time no one was allowed to call her Nellie.  We helped her “get into character” by referring to her only as Toto.  There were training treats galore (she may have gained a pound or more) and my family and neighbors grew tired of hearing my high-pitched commands of, “Nellie come!”  While all of this was going on, my husband Alan was rehearsing for his dual roles as Professor Marvel and The Wizard of Oz. 

           

The production was a stunning success!  The actors were brilliant, the costumes were breathtaking, and the sets were extraordinary.  There were flying witches and flying monkeys, and the hurricane scene was dazzling.  I may be a bit biased in my assessment, but want you to know that my husband was nothing short of spectacular in his acting debut.  And what about little Nellie?  This marvelous little canine actress captured the character of Toto in a fashion never before realized on stage or film.  She was utterly captivating as she sat demurely in her basket, listened attentively as her beloved Dorothy sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, stole a hotdog on cue from Professor Marvel, acted fearful in the arms of the flying monkeys, and successfully escaped from the witch’s castle! 

From start to finish, Nellie was a little angel and grew to love going to the theatre.  The entire cast and technical crew doted on her and she even had her own personal stage manager who made sure that she had opportunity to empty her bladder and showed up at the right places at the right times.  She received thunderous applause during the cast bows.  My little Nellie is truly a superstar.  It may be time to think about finding her an agent! 

Wishing you and your four-legged family members abundant good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Order  a copy of Speaking for Spot personally signed by Dr. Kay – http://www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Online Connections Thanks to Speaking for Spot

October 28, 2009

 It has been a year since my book Speaking for Spot was released, and what an amazing year it has been.  I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible about the book business.  I’ve traveled with Spot, met many Spot fans, and was interviewed by one of my all time idols on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.  As word of Speaking for Spot has spread, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful people online and have thoroughly enjoyed hearing about their lives and their doggies.  Here are a couple of examples. 

Carolyn is a wildlife biologist living in Belize.  I’m jealous! My family had the good fortune of visiting Belize a few years back- my husband and I fantasized about not returning home!  Carolyn has provided me with some photos of her menagerie of dogs.  I sense that Maggie is the apple of her eye.  It’s no wonder- take a look at the photos of this insanely adorable little dog. 

Maddie and Carolyn

Maggie and Carolyn

Judy shares her life with Ricochet, an incredible Golden Retriever who loves to play in the waves, but not in the conventional canine fashion.  Ricochet rides a surfboard!  As Judy describes it, “Ricochet was slated to be a service dog for people with disabilities.  But she had too strong a chase drive, and I couldn’t trust that she wouldn’t try to chase birds while attached to a wheelchair.  I struggled for 18 months trying to make her something she wasn’t.  When I finally let go, she just flourished!” 

Ricochet and Patrick

Ricochet and Patrick

The sweetest part of Ricochet’s story is her special connection with fellow surfer, Patrick Ivison.  Patrick is a teenager who sustained a spinal cord injury and has now mastered the art of adaptive surfing. Patrick and Ricochet have surfed together as part of a successful fundraising campaign to raise money for Patrick’s physical rehabilitation program (donations are still being accepted at http://www.ripcurlricki.com/Donate.htm). To read more about Ricochet and Patrick, pay a visit to http://www.ripcurlricki.com/SurfinforPawsabilities.htm

Patrick and Ricochet

Patrick and Ricochet

If you’re like me, you just can’t help but smile looking at these photos.  Thanks to Carolyn and Judy for telling me about Maggie and Ricochet.  If you have a wonderful dog in your life (I’ll bet you do), I invite you to share your story!

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

September 24, 2009

It began as a simple request from my incredibly talented friend, Leira.  She is directing a production of The Wizard of Oz at our local junior college, set to run around Thanksgiving.  Knowing that I am well connected in the dog world, she asked for my assistance in finding a suitable Toto.  She told me that any breed or look would do as long as the dog was small enough to fit in a basket and was well trained.  

I reassured Leira that I would be able to readily recruit a few suitable candidates to audition for her.  I let my dog training buddies know, put out word at the dog park, and solicited all of my more than 100 dog-loving coworkers.  My notions of being a successful talent scout were quickly dispelled.   I heard the same response over and over again-  “I’d love for my dog to be Toto, but he’s not really well trained,” or  “I know a dog who would be the perfect Toto, but she’s doesn’t really obey commands.”  I should have considered things a bit more carefully before reassuring Leira that I had the role of Toto covered.  My experience tells me that the vast majority of little dogs are not well trained.  It’s not that they are not smart- in fact the opposite is usually the case.  They are so smart that it is more about them training their humans than the other way around!  

I approached Leira with my tail between my legs and let her know that I’d struck out.  I should have kept my mouth shut after saying, “I’m sorry.” Rather, the part of me that hoped to “fix” the situation blurted out, “You can use Nellie if you want.”  What in the world was I thinking! Nellie is an 11 or so pound Terrier mix who was delivered to my hospital a couple of years ago by a good Samaritan.   He’d found her wandering the streets. She was a skinny little ragamuffin- in heat, terribly underweight with horrific skin disease, and her body was peppered with BB’s.  The second I looked into her eyes, I was smitten. I took her home just to “try things out.” It took just a night to know she was ours for keeps.  She is the very first little dog we’ve ever shared our home and hearts with and yes, she is our very first dog that has not been taught all of the basic obedience commands.  She is lovely, kind, adorable, and sweet in every way, but we simply never “trained” her.  Somehow, just as for all those other “little dog people” it simply seemed that such training wasn’t really necessary, that is until now.  I have until mid-November to teach my little Nellie to play a convincing Toto.  Come by my house these days and you are likely to hear a high pitched “Dorothyesque” voice shouting, “Toto come!”  Oy Vey! What have I gotten myself into!?

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –