"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume II - Issue 15:  April 23, 2004
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  Doggie Prozac?
=>  Breed of the Week - Shar Pei
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  The 15 Best Things to Say ...

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Christopher's Drool

Hi Folks!

Just when I thought we were going to have an early summer the rain has returned. Oh well, we really didn't have enough rain this year, and, in the foothills of the Sierras, this is wild fire country, so I guess I should be relieved the rain has appeared.

I have a couple of product alerts to let you all know about this week.

The first I mentioned a few weeks ago, but the manufacturer has made some convincing press releases saying their product is effective. I am talking about the microchip being implanted by Bansfield Hospitals that have several facilities inside your local PetsMart pet stores.

PetsMart finally stepped to the plate and has stated the microchips may not be effective in all areas and has asked Bansfield to stop implanting the chips until they have made the reading devises widely distributed. I have a couple of friends and I call their facilities around the country, and they are still using the 134kHz implant that can't be read in the majority of the country. Apparently, profit has once again outweighed what is best for our dogs.

Just my opinion, but I wouldn't take my dog to any Bansfield facility even for vaccinations. If they cut corners on their microchip programs effectiveness, it makes me wonder where else they cut corners. As far as I am concerned, they are banned until they can show that animal wellness is their chief concern. I mean, isn't that what a vet is suppose to do?

Next is the Pedigree dog food recall. This applies mostly to our readers in Asia and Southeast Asia.

Pedigree dog foods and Whiskas cat food have been voluntarily recalled from Asia and Southeast Asia as a result of several dogs becoming sick in those regions after eating those foods. The cause was microscopic mold, which formed on the raw materials in the Taiwan Plant.

Anyone having these foods should discontinue using them and return the foods to the place of purchase for a full refund. The products in the USA and Europe are not included in the recall and have been deemed safe, as they are manufactured at different facilities. For additional information, you can go to www.pedigreeinfo.com/pedigreeinfo/en-US/

One last thing ... There will be no newsletter next week as I'm finishing up the site for the Paws for Change Foundation. For the last few weeks, I have been focused on legislative issues and things other than straight-on training. When I'm back in two weeks, we will start a new series of articles on training and behavior. I will leave the Drool section for legislative alerts and other such things. This doesn't mean I won't do future articles on these issues in the future, but I want to focus more on the grass roots of what this newsletter is about.

Okay people, that's all for now. Keep the letters and comments coming.

I'm outta here!



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Hi Chris,

I have a dog we rescued recently from the local pound. ( your suggestion by the way) She is sweet little mutt who weighs about fifty pounds. When we saw her in the pound we fell instantly in love with her eyes and expression and knew she was the dog for us. She was already scheduled for euthanasia so we didn't hesitate to bail her out and take her home.

She was very nervous at first and has come out of her shell some but still is nervous around other people and dogs. She will hide behind us when we have guests or another dog approaches when we are at the park. She is also afraid of raised voices and loud noises.

We don't have any trainers around who do in-home training so we took her to a class from a trainer that had some good references. Needless to say, she was a wreck in the classes and was unable to focus on training as she was spending more time hiding. The trainer recommended I get a product called “Rescue Remedy” and give it to her before we brought her back to class. He also said many dogs have to stay on it for life.

We looked it up online but didn't see anything about using it on dogs. Have you ever heard of this product? Is it safe for dogs and do they have to stay on it for life? Would love to hear your thought. Thanks for all the great information!

Caroline J.

Doggie Prozac?

When dogs has been through drastic changes in their lives, or have suffered from abuse or neglect, it is not uncommon for them to suffer from extreme stress anxiety or fear. Dogs aren't any different than we are, and some situations or events make us nervous.

It is natural and okay providing it doesn't affect the way we live our lives or keep us from enjoying it. A few months back I addressed anxiety in dogs in an article, but here we have a bit of a different circumstance, so we will call this a companion article to the first one.

A Quick Recap ...

In the last article we were dealing with a dog that had been owned since it was a puppy. We also had a good idea of what caused the anxiety and were thus able to work out a solution without the need for drug therapy. Also, we addressed only prescription drugs as a solution to the anxiety and did not explore some of the natural/holistic therapies for the disorder.

In our current situation, we have no idea what the cause of the fear is and are addressing fear that is constant as opposed to situational. This is far more difficult to address as we must basically "reprogram" a dog's entire thought process. This takes time and often products, both holistic and pharmaceutical, can be helpful, and in some cases, absolutely necessary.

The Quick Fix vs. The Permanent Fix

The thing to remember is products like this must be coupled with therapy, training and behavior modification techniques so the dogs can one day be free of the medications and deal with the fear on their own. It's kind of like fixing a leaky pipe. Once you find the source of the leak, you fix it. You might wrap it with duct tape as a temporary fix, but certainly not a permanent one.

All to often when it comes to our dogs, we look for a quick and convenient fix when it comes to their behavior, rather than take the time to address the reason for the behavior. Now, I whole-heartedly support the use of holistic and all natural products to address behavioral issues in dogs, but only when used under the supervision of a behavioral expert or to deal with uncommon stress. Let me explain.

In Carolyn's case above, we are looking at a pretty severe case of fear/anxiety. It so severe that before we can work it out of the dog we have to calm them down a bit. Love will do better than anything for this but in some cases, it just isn't enough. We also don't have the ability to sit them down and say, “It's okay, I won't hurt you or let anyone else.” In these cases the use of holistic therapies can be absolutely essential.

The goal though is to bring our dog to the point where they can live a life free of excessive fear, full of confidence and without having to be medicated holistically or pharmaceutically. I know I like to burn sandalwood incense when I have had a particularly stressful day. I also know I wouldn't want to have to wake up and cram an incense stick up my nose in order to make it through my day. If I don't want to do that, why would I want my dog to?

Rescue Remedy

First, I should say I know several people who have used Rescue Remedy and absolutely swear by it. I also know some people who have used it who say it did nothing. It appears though the "yeas" far exceed the "nays."

I did go online and found a multitude of web sites where you can purchase this product. I found various product claims at the different sites. Some recommend one dose, some recommend drastically different ones. Some made claims I couldn't find on any of the other sites.

As a result, I went directly to the Dr Edward Bach Centre site. One of the things I did find is a statement on the site that supports my whole position for the application of these types of remedies. In the question and answer section of the site it says quite clearly it is to be taken for emergency situations and not deep-rooted problems. It also describes Rescue Remedy as a "... crisis remedy – something ready at hand when things have gone wrong."

I contacted a couple of distributors of this product and asked for a sample to test and do a review. None of them contacted me back. Maybe they've read the newsletter. ;) As a result, at this time, since I haven't put the product to the test, I won't endorse its use.

There is only one product out there of this type I currently endorse. It is called “Chill” made by Spot Organics. ( www.spotorganics.com ) I have tested this product, as well as others they produce, with the help of my vet and found them all to be excellent products.

The End Result

These items really are a must have for dog owners, but they are intended to be used as an aid to training, or when the dog is experiencing unexpected stress due to injury, surgical recovery, travel, or the occasional trip to the vet or groomer.

No matter whether you chose to use, pharmaceutical medications or holistic remedies to help your dogs' anxiety, you must remember they are an aid to a solution and not the cure. The only way to get permanent results is to build their confidence in a loving a natural way. This includes working with an experienced trainer or behaviorist whose main goal is to allow the dog to be healthy and confident without having to rely on medications or therapies of any kind as a day-to-day crutch.

If you are using these products as a day-to-day fix, you need to ask your self a question. Is it because it is best for your dog, or just more convenient for you?

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
Subscribe to the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter: subscribe@Master-Dog-Training.com
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My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am.

~ Unknown ~


Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)
Shetland Sheepdog

I was going to feature this breed in the Christmas Edition from last year and instead featured one that had been rescued in deplorable condition. (If you haven't read that article you need to go to the archive at my site and read it.) I then passed over the breed and never did my standard Breed of the Week article on the Sheltie. So, here we go.

You have all heard me say there is no "mean" breed and that any breed can be gentle and loving. You have also heard me say any breed can be made aggressive and mean. If I were ever to do an experiment to determine which breed would be the hardest to make aggressive, I am betting the Sheltie would be the clear-cut winner.

Often considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds around, this sensitive loving and loyal dog is extremely intelligent and makes a wonderful companion or working dog. While they may come off as a little prissy to some, make no mistake, this is a true working dog, capable of herding and directing even a herd of large cattle.

They are extremely willing to please their owner, are very dedicated to their family and handlers, and will do well with respectful children, if they have been socialized with them. They are quite tolerant of children they have been raised with in the family. They can be aloof with strangers and sometimes will try to avoid any physical contact with people they do not know.

They are known to be excessive barkers, which is the result of their herding instincts and also their aloof nature. This can be corrected through proper socialization training at a young age and can often be corrected when they are older. Many "expert" enthusiasts of the breeds recommend having the dog's barker surgically cut to make them "good neighbors."

While I often mention docking tails when it comes to certain breeds in this article, I usually only say I don't agree with it and little else. In this case, cutting a dog's vocal cords deserves more attention. This will completely destroy the dog's ability to communicate in the fashion they are accustomed to. DO NOT have these dogs' vocal cords cut! To me, this practice epitomizes cruelty, and those who promote it are ignorant and lazy! A Shelties barking can be corrected naturally without mutilating the dog. Enough said.

This breed is a "people" dog. They need companionship from their family and seem to do better in two-dog homes. Remember, this is a dog bred to herd. In most homes where the dog is actually working or being trained to work, they interact with other dogs on a regular basis. Bring a second dog, of any breed, into a home with a Sheltie, and you will see the Sheltie beam, and it will often bring shy Shelties out of their shell!

They need to be trained and extensively socialized from a very young age. Breeders should start to socialize pups before they are whelped, and training should begin once they arrive at their new home. This is for a couple of reasons.

First, they need to socialized in order to work through their naturally aloof manner, and introduce them to all kinds of stimulus they may encounter. They should be socialized, particularly to other animals and traffic, to discourage their instinct to chase. A good way to redirect this instinct is to teach them to fetch, play Frisbee,™ which they excel at.

Second, it is best to teach them when it is appropriate to bark and when it isn't at a very young age. To achieve the best results, it is best to start when they are young. This prevents the establishment of “bad habits” and the possibility of resentment when they are older if this instinct does develop.

Finally, they need early obedience training that is light hearted and based on the joy of the task. This is a sensitive working dog that loves to work. It is in their blood to “work” in some form or fashion and denying them this will make them insecure. Obedience training, and games like I mentioned above, give them a "job" and make them feel as though they have purpose.

These dogs need exercise because of their inherent instincts. They will do okay in an apartment but must be afforded proper exercise. Again, this is a premier working breed. They need the exercise to feel good, both physically and spiritually content. This must be considered when selecting this breed.

The muscular build of the Sheltie reminds me of that of a marathon runner. They are lean, incredibly strong, and capable of incredible speed and endurance. Their slight build is often hidden by their soft undercoat, covered by a somewhat rough topcoat. Their coat requires regular brushing to keep tangles to a minimum. Be gentle though. They aren't fond of a rough brushing. Their coat gives them a lion-like appearance.

They should be bathed when their coat appears oily or if it is giving off an odor. I recommend only natural shampoo products and spray on conditioners as needed for tangles. They shed with the seasons, spring and fall, and will repel dirt naturally.

I highly recommend they have a thorough grooming once they have shed to keep them in top condition. Be sure not to allow their feet to have excess hair growth between the toes. It can cause the toes to spread, which makes them compensate their stance for comfort. This can lead to joint disease and conditions.

Their head and nose should be long and wedge shaped with the top of the muzzle, being parallel to the skull. Their teeth should meet in a defined scissor bite and their nose should always be black. The ears should be proportionately small, and some fanciers like to see a slight droop at the tips but erect when they are attentive and focused.

They come in a variety of colors to include, blue merle, sable and black, and tan or brown. Certain amounts of brown should be included but I haven't been able to find out how much is too much and how little is too little. Some can be "spotted" like a Springer, but this is disqualifying in conformation competitions.

The hair on the feet and tail should be feathered, and the tail should reach the hocks. Their eyes should be black, with the exception of the merle coated, which can be blue or merle colored.

They are often judged based on their "look." "They" say males should look masculine and females should look feminine. I find this a little silly, but it doesn't hurt the dog, so who cares.

To be honest, I have had male human friends that have seemed a little feminine that I would never want to come up against in a brawl. On the flip side, I have known a few females who seemed masculine, I also wouldn't want to come up against. I would rather look for a good soul than worry about how they represent their gender.

They have a life expectancy of twelve to fifteen years and only have a few medical issues. They range in height from 12-16 inches (30-39 cm.) and weigh from 13-19 lbs. (5-9 kg.) They have a tendency to suffer from eye disease and a veterinary ophthalmologist should examine each puppy before they are sold.

As a result of being a competitive champion, many have been improperly bred and suffer from knee problems. Do your research before buying a pup and only buy from a reputable breeder.

The breed is thought to be a descendant of the Rough Coated Collie and the, now nearly extinct, Icelandic Yakin dog. The dog is thought to have been brought to the Scottish island of Shetland in the 1700's and was brought to its current form at the turn of that century. They were long used on the islands to herd sheep and other small herd animals on the islands, until they were recognized in England in 1909. Two years later, they were recognized in the USA, and it is believed the breed was defined in the twentieth century.

Today, they are one of the most popular companion dogs around. Their gentle nature, loyalty and desire to please, make them a perfect pet for the active family. They will do well in most living arrangements providing they are trained appropriately. If you are looking for a new dog, this breed should be on your list to explore.

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Joke of the Week

Top 15 Best Things to Say ...
If You Get Caught Sleeping at Your Desk

15. “WOW! They told me at the blood bank this might happen.”

14. “This is just a fifteen-minute power nap like they raved about in the last management course you sent me to.”

13. “Whew! I guess I left the top off the liquid paper.”

12. “I wasn't sleeping! I was meditating on the Mission Statement and envisioning a new paradigm!”

11. “This is one of the seven habits of a highly effective person!”

10. “I was testing the keyboard for drool resistance.”

9. “Actually, I was doing the “Stress Level Elimination Exercise Plan” (SLEEP) I learned at the last mandatory seminar you made me attend.”

8. “I was doing a highly specific Yoga exercise to relieve work-related stress. Are you discriminating against people who practice Yoga?”

7. “Darn it! Why did you interrupt me? I had almost figured out a solution to our biggest problem.”

6. “The coffee machine is broken again.”

5. “Someone must have put decaf in the wrong pot.”

4. “Boy, the cold medicine I took last night just won't wear off.”

3. “Ah, the unique and unpredictable circadian rhythms of the workaholic!”

2. “I wasn't sleeping. I was trying to pick up my contact lens without using my hands.”

And the #1 best thing to say if you get caught sleeping at work:

1. “Amen”

* To submit your joke to us: Joke@Master-Dog-Training.com

Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

Don't forget to send your comments, questions and suggestions on the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter to:


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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2004 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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