"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume III - Issue 6:  February 11, 2005
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  Raising a New Litter
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Mail Bag
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  Lakota Native Legend

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Christopher's Drool

Greetings All,

Last weekend, we celebrated my daughters sixth birthday by having a party at the local bowling alley. Now, I'm not a bowler but thought it would be something the kids would have fun doing. Believe me, they did. I was a little harried dealing with fourteen 6-9 year olds on two bowling lanes, but it was worth it.

My only complaint was not with the kids, facilities or even the parents. It is with the party supply companies. Truth be known, it really isn't even them. It is the creator of the paper party horn. You know the one I'm talking about. It shoots out the paper “tongue” and squeals at a pitch that I am certain can wake the dead.

Now I'm constantly whining about ridiculous legislation but I think regulating the pitch and volume of such devises is not only necessary but absolutely essential. I am currently drafting legislation to send to my senator. Something has to be done about these instruments of torture. I swear my ears are still ringing.

For the last several weeks I have been talking about the difference between Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. This week, I was asked what my definition of an activist was. This question really got me thinking. Here is my response in part.

When I (and I think many others as well) hear the word activist we automatically think of radical groups with protest signs, someone who "moves in" to a redwood tree, or people willing to break the law in order to push their particular agenda. Personally, I don't think this is fair but we have to face the fact that this is the perception.

I think those of us who have made it our life's work to improve the quality of care our companion animals receive (and address the absolute mess we as people have created regarding animal over population) spend far too much time worrying about titles.

Semantics are a “you know what.”

I believe we all are activist to one extent or another. It doesn't matter if our passion is animals, our children's education, or the ecology.  If we actively work to make change I guess we can be called an activist. I, in addition to the humane education I do every week, also work in my daughter's kindergarten class 2 days a week.  I do it because I want to make sure she, and the other kids, are getting all the help they need to be successful.  In this respect, I guess I could be called an education activist.  Personally, I just consider myself a father.  Just a matter of semantics.

What I would like everyone in the "animal biz" to do is drop the titles.  Why can't we just say animal lovers and work together for a common cause?

I have my own foundation that works towards Humane Education. Until a short time ago, I had no idea who Randy was, other than a name.  When we met and spoke recently, I realized we could do more together than on our own.  I don't agree with every position he takes on every issue any more than he agrees with me on everything.  The difference is we are willing to have a dialogue that will work towards the common good and check our egos (at least on this issue) at the door.

So, is activist a dirty word?  I guess it depends on who you talk to.  I am an animal lover.  Kind of hard to put a nasty spin on that.

You know, I have been critical about many organizations in the past and I think rightfully so. At the same time, I believe some of these organizations could be a part of the solution to issues like pet over population and humane education, if they were willing to band together constructively instead of taking on an elitist attitude.

Imagine what could be done if all animal groups (regardless of whether they are designated AR or AW) came together to simply address those two issues mentioned above. How many dogs and cats could be saved? They could continue to push their own agendas but those two issues alone could very well be resolved. Just my two cents.

Keep those letters and suggestions coming. They are greatly appreciated.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm outta here!



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I started reading your newsletter a while ago and my family and I decided to start rescuing dogs from the pound on their last day and finding them new homes. We don't take in more than one at a time, but think it's better than nothing. Its' been so rewarding and we thank you for planting the seed. Here's my problem.

Last week, we brought home a female who is pretty scared of men. When we took her to the vet, we discovered she is pregnant. Our ACO doesn't spay/neuter when a dog is adopted. They issue a certificate at a local clinic. She is a mutt but will have the pups in the next few weeks. We don't want the puppies to end up in a shelter one day and want to know what we should do to make sure they are happy and well adjusted. How do we do this considering momma dog's timid nature?

Any advice you have will be appreciated.

Kathy Menden

Raising a New Litter

First, I want to commend you for having the conscience to make animal rescue a part of your life. You are a wonderful example of what can be done. If every person who loves dogs, and has the ability, rescued one dog at a time, there would be far fewer dogs being killed every year. I applaud your efforts.

I have worked with a number of timid or fearful dogs over the years. Admittedly, when I was younger, I approached it in the wrong way. Maybe I should rephrase that. Not so much the wrong way, but I definitely took the long way about it.

Now, I know you have all heard me say there are no quick fixes. This is true but that doesn't mean we have to make the whole thing a long and drawn out process. This is particularly true of dogs that are timid/fearful. Fear is a learned behavior and not an instinctual one. It is usually due to a lack of socialization, abuse or neglect.

Most of the time, we tend to approach a fearful dog on eggshells because we are afraid we are going to scare them worse. In actuality, this will normally only make the problem worse or only get minimal results. What we need to do is keep things as normal as possible, be loving, and allow the dog to adjust naturally. I'm not saying to do nothing. I'm saying to keep it simple.

Man of the House

In the writer's situation, we know the dog is afraid of men. Providing she is not outwardly aggressive towards the men in the home, they should take on the role as the primary care givers to the dog. This means feeding, walking, right down to being the first to acknowledge the dog when the family comes in the house.

He will need to use a soft tone of voice whenever he talks to the dog. If the dog needs to be corrected for inappropriate behavior, it should be done by a female in the house and not be overbearing. Whenever possible, the man of the house should sit on the floor and just talk quietly to the dog. The purpose of this is to promote the man as the nurturer of the family pack and to form a bond between the two.

The dog should be petted and stroked all over the body by the man as much as possible. This will not only build a stronger bond but acts as a confidence builder for the dog. We can assume her fear of men is due to abuse/heavy handedness by a male ,so building her confidence around men will be critical. The stroking of the dog will do more to build this confidence than anything.

The Pups

My approach to raising confident, well-adjusted puppies is different from what many trainers or behaviorists will tell you. However, I have done it like this for years and haven't had a puppy go bad on me yet. Our writer will have to modify it based on the actions of the mothers' response to interacting with her pups.

I firmly believe there needs to be early and frequent interaction between the puppies and humans. It, of course, shouldn't interfere with their feedings or sleep.

The First Week

After the puppies are born, they should be placed with momma is a clean topless box and placed in a warm softly lit area where there is little household traffic or loud noise. They should be checked on at regular intervals (every two hours or so) to make sure the pups and mom are doing okay.

During these checks, take a minute or two to just sit by the box and talk softly to momma and the pups. This is soothing to the mother, which will make her more comfortable with your presence and interaction with the puppies. Handle the puppies only when necessary at this point but make sure to pet momma on the chest and stomach as much as possible.

Towards the end of the week, whenever momma goes out to potty, take a few seconds to pick up and pet each of the puppies. Make sure you stroke their entire bodies to start them getting used to being handled. This process should continue through the middle of the second week.

Weeks Two and Three

At the middle of the second week, you should start to spend a little more time handling the puppies, only now you want to do it when momma is present. At this point she should be used to your smell on the puppies and be comfortable with it. Keep the puppies in eyeshot of momma and allow her to take the puppies back if she decides your time is up. If you only take one puppy at a time, she is less likely to try to take the pup from you. You should do this four to five times a day.

During these sessions, you should make it a point to move the puppies' legs, head and tail around. This is important as in the next few weeks, as they gain more independent motor control, they will be use to such “manipulation” and be less likely to resist. This will make life easier if it is introduced when they are young, particularly when you have to go to the vet or pick the dog up.

The box they sleep in should be brought out into the high traffic areas of the house during the day. This will help them get used to common household sounds making them a non- issue later. Run the vacuum, dishwasher etc. Just remember, you don't want to introduce them to these sounds, like the vacuum, by firing it up right next to the puppies. Start on the other side of the house and just progress towards them.

If they, or momma, aren't getting out of the box yet, you should be doing for them. This gives them time to do an initial exploration of their surroundings. Make sure there is nothing out they could get themselves hurt on.

Weeks Four through Six

This is the most fun time in the development of the puppies. They are mobile, inquisitive and their individual personalities should start becoming apparent. Weather permitting, they should be spending a good bit of time outside each day. If they go potty while outside, be sure to give them lots of love and praise.

When the puppies are four weeks old, they should be fitted for a collar and wear it during the day whenever someone is home. It should be made so it can quickly be snapped on or off. This is a critical step because I have found that the older a puppy is when they are first introduced to the collar, the more likely they are to resist the leash and training in general.

In a day or two, once they are used to the collar, it is time to introduce the leash. The leash needs to be extremely light. In fact, the lighter the better. Often, when people start to leash train, they use a leash that is simply too heavy. This is the most common cause of the dog resisting. It is best to do this later in the day when the dog is a little tired as they will less likely to bite at the leash and more likely to comply.

Don't try to teach them to walk on leash yet. That can wait for a week or two. The idea here is simply to get the dog used to wearing it. Once again, it will be far easier to do when they are four weeks old than it will be when they are eight weeks old.

You also want to start to introduce a couple of commands during this period. The most important ones at this point, at least in my opinion, are come, stay, good boy/girl and no. Many say you shouldn't introduce “no” until they are older but I strongly disagree. They are developing habits that can, and often will, last a lifetime. You don't yell it or even say it firmly. Just a normal tone of voice.

Weeks Six through Eight

During this period you can introduce all the basic obedience commands and work on walking on leash. The important thing during this period is to be careful about the games we play with the puppies. These often cause more problems than anything else.

Avoid playing tug-o-war with the puppies. Playing this with puppies this age will often make them believe they can yank and pull on anything you have in your hand. This is a precedent you don't want to set.

You can give them a toy of their own to chew on - just make sure it doesn't resemble a household item. I am amazed at how people can't figure out why their puppy is chewing up their shoes only to find out they gave the dog an old slipper as a toy.

Don't play the chase game. This happens more often than not with children. This will encourage a dog's prey drive and can often be the cause of accidental dog bites.

Don't play keep away. This too can often lead to territorial behavior that can lead to a dog bite.

Don't “wrestle” with your puppy. They can do that with their littermates or parents, (the four legged ones) but they should never be encouraged to engage in any dominance games with humans. It is simply not necessary for a domesticated dog.

As I am sure most of us know, it's easier to keep a habit from starting than it is to stop it once it has developed. If someone follows even the basics that are here, their puppies will grow to be confident, obedient and good citizens of the community and their own pack. Puppies need us to be their leaders and mentors just like children do. As their owners/parents it is our responsibility to ensure we follow through.

This article may be republished using the following attribution box:
Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies
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Quote of the Week

Outside of a dog, a book is probably man's best friend; inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

~ Groucho Marx ~

Mail Bag

Oh, Christopher,

The "pet rock" cracked me up! It's not funny but I think - as I've said to you a couple of times - more people would be better advised in owning a pet rock rather than a dog. They are social creatures just like us and we could learn a lot from dogs and how to behave!

In wellness,
Kim Bloomer

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Story of the Week

Lakota Native Legend

When the world was created, First Man and First Woman struggled to stay alive and warm through the first winter. First Dog struggled also.

Deep in the winter, First Dog gave birth to her pups. Each night, she huddled in the brush of the forest, longingly watching the fire, which kept First Man and First Woman warm.

First Winter was severe, so cold that First Dog dared not leave her pups to search for food to fill her own belly, fearing that her pups would freeze to death in her absence. She curled around them, but the wind was bitter. Her belly shrank with hunger, and soon she had no milk. The smallest pup perished, and First Dog felt her own life draining away as she struggled to care for the remaining pups. Fearing for the fate of the others, she knew she had no choice but to approach the fire and ask First Woman and First Man to share their food and the fire's warmth.

Slowly, she crept to the fire and spoke to First Woman who was heavy with child. "I am a mother," said First Dog, "and soon you will be a mother too. I want my little ones to survive, just as you will want your little one to survive. So I will ask you to make a pact."

First Woman and First Man listened. "I am about to die. Take my pups. You will raise them and call them Dog. They will be your guardians. They will alert you to danger, keep you warm, guard your camp, and even lay down their life to protect your life and the lives of your children. They will be companions to you and all your generations, never leaving your side, as long as Mankind shall survive. In return, you will share your food and bring them inside for companionship and the warmth of your fire. You will treat my children with love and kindness, and tend to them if they become ill, just as if they were born from your own belly. And if they are in pain, you will take a sharp knife to their throat and end their misery. In exchange for this, you will have the loyalty of my children and their offspring until the end of time."

First Man and First Woman agreed. First Dog went to her nest in the brush, and with the last of her strength, one by one, she brought her pups to the fire. As she did so, First Woman gave birth to First Child, wrapped her in Rabbit skins, and nestled First Child among the pups by the fireside. First Dog lay down by the fire, licked her pups, then walked away to die under the stars.

Before she disappeared into the darkness, she turned and spoke once more to First Man, "My children will honor the pact for all generations. But if Man breaks this pact, if you or your children's children deny even one Dog food, warmth, a kind word or a merciful end, your generations will be plagued with war, hunger, and disease, and so shall this remain until the pact is honored again by all Mankind." With this, First Dog entered the night and returned in spirit to the Creator.

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Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2005 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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