Archive for the ‘Agility’ Category

I’m never going to get rich from dog-training.  It would be wonderful if I was able to develop a bullet-pointed, annotated, technique rich, program that I could take on the road as a way to make a living.  Karen Pryor has her Clicker Expo.  Cesar Millan has a road-tour.  Michael Ellis has well attended seminars all over the country.  Roger Abrantes is known globally for his speaking engagements.  And there are lots more…

"I already know how to learn!  Now it's YOUR turn!"

“I already know how to learn! Now it’s YOUR turn!”

If  I developed such a speaking tour, each date would probably last less than 15 minutes, and my audience, (If they showed up at all) would feel as though I owed them more time for their investment.  I can give you the foundation of the Communicative Approach in just about 5 minutes, with 10 minutes left over for audience questions and a friendly meet-and-greet.  Write an entire book on the subject?  Five or six total pages does not a book make…The reason for this anti-marketing of myself and the Communicative Approach is simply this:  YOU alone are responsible to define, develop, and practice your communication with your dog.  The steps leading to that goal are straightforward, self-revealing, and they come from within YOU…Not a long-winded seminar, not a book, and not a DVD.  Not that I’m criticizing those talented trainers out there with something concrete that enables them to produce an actual “Program”, or  “Training System”.  They are certainly out there.  I recently reviewed Angie Winters new “3 Dog Days” dvd and it was wonderful…I love the Michael Ellis DVD’s produced thru the groundbreaking Leerburg company…and there are others.

But the Communicative Approach to Training Theory (C.A.T.T.)  does not make that approach possible.  The Heart cannot be fully instructed externally.  Your heart could NOT sit in a classroom and be taught to love,  develop relationships, or empathize with other living things in a meaningful way.  That comes from within you…That’s why this post carries the title above and this warning:

“Do Not Attempt This Technique Without Consulting Your Motives and Commitment. “

Many people “own” dogs.  Some because it’s a status symbol to have a cute little dog in your shoulder bag. (Think Paris Hilton)  Others because the dog is used as a tool to achieve some dubious and highly questionable honor or personal glory. (Think Michael Vick)  A few don’t think having a dog thru with any understanding. (“Hey…A cute little puppy!  That would be a great Christmas present for the kids!  What breed is it??”)  Others have the wrong motive entirely.  (I want me a dawg that’ll attack anybody that comes around my house or property!)Granted, perhaps Paris Hilton takes good care of her pup.  Or pays someone to do it for her.  I’m seeking evidence that her Chinese Crested is more than just another Helsburg Diamond to her.

But there also those owners/trainers that do pursue good training for the dog, and for themselves.  Yet something it missing.  I’ve seen them at schutzhund, agility, and formal dog shows.  The dog is incapable of socializing properly with people and other dogs, so they spend the balance of their time in a crate,often covered with a blanket to keep the dogs world insular.  The dog’s life is simply to perform when commanded.  They are trained as little robots…Thankfully, these types are not common.  Most Dog people at least try to develop a relationship that fulfills their dog.

So now I’m going to give you the only bullet-pointed list that goes with the Communicative Approach to Training Theory.  I will expand upon each of them in upcoming posts, but I hope you can think about each of them, and come to your own conclusions.  They work with  formal training methods, not replacing them.  You still need to learn about training.  But go beyond them, and embrace these attitudes, and you will  find success beyond your expectations!  (Note: These are NOT in order of importance.  That order can change and be adjusted every day)

* Love Your Dog

*Live With Your Dog

*Listen To Your Dog

*Learn With Your Dog

*Learn About Your Dog

*Learn Your  Chosen  Method Well

* Prioritize Play With Your Dog

There you go…The foundation of the Communicative Approach.  Next up, I’ll expand on each of these.  I believe that if we all practice these attitudes, our dogs will be better, our training will be better, and you just might learn something about yourself…Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to FOLLOW us!!!



I am an advocate of silence when I work with my dogs.  Body language, eye contact, and hand signals.  Dogs watch us closely for these things with a laser-like precision.  When we are not attentive to the signals we give, the dog becomes confused, and leadership from the human trainer  fails.  We must always be aware of what our faces, limbs, and body are communicating to our dog.  Learning and applying this knowledge  of the silent art is an ongoing process for me, and others who attempt it.  I may never become its master, but the dogs are helping me learn more each day about their silent language…

The dog, yours and mine, has mastered an understanding of human communication and language far faster than the reverse.  When we speak to our dogs using the spoken word, they grasp it quickly.  And it makes no difference what national language we use…I have heard English, German, Dutch, Russian, Italian, Gaelic, Hungarian, and Nonsense words used on the training field to direct dogs, all with equal success.

In the year 2012 A.D.,  “Language” has become a political battlefield.  As in “politically correct” or decidedly “politically incorrect.”  You can find examples of this without excess effort in most every human endeavor…And this brings me to the subject at hand.  I was recently informed by a professional dog trainer that the word “No” is unacceptable and possibly even cruel to use when training a dog…Hmmmmmmmm.

I was working with our 18-month old female German Shepherd, “Holly”, at the Agility training facility that we frequent.  The trainer was not our usual one, a gentleman  I consider a very talented trainer that understands how a dogs mind works.  No, this days observer was a young lady that is very much the Operant Conditioning style of training.  She is very well versed in this method, and has her share of admirers and success, as she deserves.  I’ll call her “Katie” because that’s the name her parents bestowed upon her…

We had Holly running a fairly straight-forward course with two separate 180 degree course reverses, one that requires entering a tunnel obstacle.  Holly sometimes prefers running around the tunnels, than entering them.  And that’s what she attempted this time.  As she dodged the entrance, I gave her a command she knows well, and responds to quickly as I have trained her.  I spoke it to her in a no-nonsense tone that she also knows well.   “NO!!!” 

She stopped in her tracks, reversed course and entered the tunnel, tail-wagging.  She exited the tunnel and shot out directly for the teeter-totter without mental pause.  Katie immediately blew her whistle in a long blast and stopped the run, (which thank goodness wasn’t a qualifying run anyway).  “Recall your dog…” she commanded me sternly.

She didn’t even wait for Holly to return to my heel before her tirade began.  “At this facility we do not allow negative words to be used with any dog at any time.  You are harming the dogs mental health and she will become frightened…You must never use the word “NO” again with her or any dog while training here…”  (It should be noted that this rule is not the rule of most of the trainers here.  This was a singular event, and an opinion of a single individual.  Sadly enough though, this mind-set is common thru the so-called “Positive training” community.  In large part, I find Agility Trainers to have moved beyond such training and embraced more “relationship-based” style training.)

Now, I understand the ban on cursing in this public place, and I support it.  But when did the word “NO” begin to be squeezed into that definition???

During Holly’s next attempt, she repeated the mistake.  This time, aware that I was being watched closely, I didn’t speak.  However, I did stop suddenly, square my body directly at Holly, and gave her the unmistakable body language equivalent of,    “No! Stop, put your furry butt thru that tunnel and do it right this time.”   Our pony-tailed trainer missed my silent communication completely.  Holly read me clearly and without hesitation.  It didn’t seem to hurt her at all, as she returned to my side, tail wagging.  Either way, I told her “NO” and she understood without mental or physical trauma to her psyche…

Now let me explain something.  We CAN move our dogs without speaking to them.  But here’s why I will always, always, always, teach a verbal “NO” command to any dog I train.  I will expect an immediate and unquestioned response every time.  This will taught to them without striking the dog, or otherwise instilling fear.  But they will  obey the command.

In our search & rescue training, or trailing work, my dogs are often worked “off-leash”.  In these instances, the dog is never looking at me (as Handler) for behavior cues.  He is focused on the task at nose.  But he is using his secondary sense of hearing to keep track of his handler.  I’m watching his back, offering him cover so to speak.  Here, I use “NO” as an all-purpose command.  Whatever the dog is doing, STOP IT RIGHT NOW.  I may be protecting him.  I may be re-assigning his task.  I may be saying it’s okay to stop tracking, it’s break time.  If my dog jumped a deer out of the brush, my NO command will, (and Has) broken the pursuit off and redirected his brain.  Think of this:  Many dogs have the temerity to run from their owners after whatever grabs their  attention…Trainers see this every day.  Recalls are often the weakest link in a dogs training, and many dogs will head to the distant horizon trailed by a human shouting obscenities, or repeated cries of “Stop! Stop! in one language or another.”

That’s why I teach “No” as a general command to stop any activity.  It’s fast, unmistakable to a dogs knowledge, and instinctive to us. It will make a dog correct a small mistake on an agility course, prevent him from running into a busy street full of cars, or keep him from filching your pancakes carelessly left unattended.  The simple word, “No” is not harmful.  It is not a weapon.  It can be a life-saver.  What caring parent ever hesitated to say, or even scream “NO!!!”  at a human child that is headed for the street without caution?  Sadly, it seems that some parents today ARE refusing to say “No” to children so that they don’t “…stunt their self-esteem, or damage their development as free-thinkers…”    We’ve seen the results of this sort of parenting, and we may never come back from the brink of that disaster.

When a soldier in combat is commanded to “Halt” midstride by a less than cordial Platoon Sargent, do you think that he says, “That’s just mean of him.!” ?  I can say without fear of contradiction, No. You understand my point.

If you are of a mind to feel that “No” is a cruel command to teach a dog or a child, I urge you to expand beyond what political correctness or “behavioral science” might try to impress upon you as the “latest” model.  Such discipline is what “Leadership”,  in it’s best form is based upon.  Be Your Dog’s Leader…You owe it to him.


“German Shepherd Adventures” was first published on the ubiquitous Facebook.  As my posts became longer, and more photo-centric, I moved into the wonderful world of WordPress.  I love my online home here, and I am ever so thankful that this well-run, and easy to use site exists.  WordPress you are THE BEST!!!

Recently, as Facebook has become more of a mind to make as much cash as possible, or gather as much  information about its users as possible, they are making it more and more difficult to publicize and share my blog there.  At times, I have received messages from FB stating that I am writing SPAM, and will be prevented from posting for as much as 15 days at a time.  I do NOT sell anything on “German Shepherd Adventures”, I do not espouse political or religious views, but rather, I write a very positive blog that most dog lovers seem to enjoy.  Why “German Shepherd Adventures” has suddenly been branded  as SPAM by the FB people is beyond my understanding.  I can no longer depend on them as a conduit to spread information that helps people and their dogs.  It’s apparently okay to spread other “unsavory” sites featuring puking, drunkenness, violence, and foul language, but not stories and information about German Shepherds.  So be it.

That’s why I’d like to invite as many of you as would like to Subscribe to “German Shepherd Adventures” by hitting the “Follow” button at the top of the page.  If you don’t like my posts, you don’t have to do anything.  I suspect that perhaps someone on FB has labeled “GSA” as Spam enough times to make some computer somewhere take this action.  If you don’t want to read something you disagree with, I’ve never forced you to do so.  I’ve survived other attacks on FB over training methods, and perhaps one of those knuckle-draggers has something to do with this.  I don’t know…

So, please, if you enjoy my blog, come on over and subscribe.  I promise you it will be free, and I’ll continue to do my best to entertain, enthuse, inspire, and help you out with every post!   Thanks for your support!!   Robert Vaughan

It’s just another day out with your dog.  Not a care in the world.  But suddenly, your dog collapses for reasons you don’t understand…Maybe he takes a fall, steps on something sharp, overheats, maybe he is drowning, maybe the dog has a seizure, perhaps takes a tumble while training.  A Thousand possibilities exist…What do you do?  A FAST reaction can save your dogs life.  Panic and ignorance are sure killers.  It takes effort and planning to be prepared.  You will need to do some reading, you will need to spend some money, you will need to push what you think you can handle in an emergency.  The good news is that, “It won’t kill you, and it might save your dogs life.”

Your Dog Depends On You To Be Prepared…

Your most important and vital tool in emergency situations is your CELL-PHONE.  Is your Vets phone number programmed into your phone?  As emergency back-up, also include 2 or 3 other nearby Veterinary hospitals as back-up.  Do it NOW.



Thoroughly assess situation before reacting.  REMAIN CALM, your dog will feed off your reaction.  Be FIRM, but Gentle.  Assess whether or not you will need to muzzle the dog.  Is the dog lethargic or hyperactive?

Is the dog breathing properly?  (Panting may be normal.)  Is the Airway clear?

Check for heartbeat.  (Tips of fingers under the chest wall and thumb opposing.  Attempt CPR         ONLY  IF NECESSARY.

Recognizing SHOCK. – Shock is a failure of circulation of blood.

*Check the Capillary Refill time in the gums.

* refill time after pressure is normally 1 to 2 seconds.

* Push finger against upper gum line.

* Count seconds until color of gum returns to normal.

* What color is the mucus membrane?  Pale? Purple? Deep Purple?

* CHECK BREATHING:  Rate of breathing…Depth of Breathing…Ease of Breathing.

* Dogs Mental condition:  Anxious?   In Obvious pain?  Depressed or withdrawn, hiding?

* Heart rate and Pulse STRENGTH. ( Strong? Weak? Thready?  Difficult to locate?)

* Temperature extremes- Over heated?  Frozen?

* Obvious EXTERNAL bleeding.  Where?  Flowing or Pulsing?  Dark and arterial, or bright and superficial?  Bubbles(Lung puncture)

* Check for Abdominal pain, obstruction, fluid.   Is the stomach wall hard?  Is it pliable?  Palpate very carefully in examination.

*  Disturbance of Circulation (SHOCK) can follow ANY serious injury.  Dog will have white to pale to grey Coloration in the gums.  Capillary refill time will be prolonged or absent.  A dazed or semi-conscious attitude in the dog will be apparent.  Weak, Rapid, or Thready pulse.  Shallow respirations.  Grunting may be present at end of In Breathing.  Head may be extended to facilitate breathing.  Breathing will be choked and difficult.  Weakness and or collapse may occur.

*What is the dogs LEVEL of Consciousness?


Arrange transport to Veterinary help immediately.

Keep the dog as quiet as possible, avoiding panic.

Utilize something that will serve as a stretcher for transport

Clear dogs mouth of foreign debris or mucus, vomitus.

If possible and necessary, perform CPR or Artificial respiration.

Unless the problem is heat related, cover with a blanket.

No fluids should be administered orally at this time.  Choking is  a possibility.

Keep HEAD at HEART level.


Leg wounds can bleed fiercely!  A makeshift muzzle may be needed. Demonstrate.

Rapid flush with Saline or clean water.

Apply firm, steady pressure directly over wound.

Heavy gauze is best, but any clean, soft material, can be used as pressure bandage.

Before  applying permanent bandaging, lift pressure bandage to re-check blood flow.

If possible flush wound with saline or clean, cool  water.

If available, apply Celox or other coagulant.

Re apply pressure bandage.

Wrap stretch gauze around pressure bandage to secure.

Bandage may stay in place 1 to 2 hours.  Transport Dog as soon as possible to Veterinarian.

If the entire limb is NOT bandaged, circulation must be restored every 25minutes. Repeat

above  procedures with clean materials.

If bleeding is deep and PUMPING, DIRECT  PRESSURE is best treatment.

In The Event of a puncture wound that may have entered the lung or heart, check whether or not air is flowing freely thru the hole.  If NOT, Do Not Attempt to Remove the object.  If air IS flowing, pinch off the exit wound tightly and  transport ASAP.


Always suspect internal bleeding after any Blunt force trauma.  External indication may be masked for some time by your dog.  Look for these behaviors:

Anxiety or restlessness

Rapid, thread pulse

Pale Gums



Excessive Thirst

Blood coming from any  body orifice.

Soft tissues may become hard to the touch.


If Internal bleeding is suspected, you need to transport the dog ASAP.  The dog should be lying down, with rear legs slightly above front,

Make the dog as comfortable as possible.  If applicable, cover the dog lightly with blanket or towel.

Stay focused and calm, imparting your confidence to the dog.

Remember, the dog is probably shocky as well, treat as such.

Call the Vet and give a heads up that you are en route.

CPR and Artificial Respiration:

Cardio Pulmonary resuscitation can do great harm and should be a last resort.  Dog should show no sign or indication of heartbeat.

Lay dog on it’s Right side.

Check the dogs mouth and throat for obstruction.  Tongue may need to be retracted.

Best position for you is at the dogs back.

Without bending the elbows, place your left palm over heart region of the dog (SHOW) with right palm on top of left.  Press, do not slam, the ribcage into compression.

Compress for a count of ONE, release for a count of ONE.  Approximately 30 to 60 compressions per minute.

Every 10 compressions should be followed by ONE breath of Artificial respiration.  Close dogs muzzle and breath into nostrils slowly but with determination.  Look for lungs to inflate.

If another capable individual is close, perform ONE breath every TWO chest compressions.

10 minutes is the longest that you should attempt this.  Anything longer is futile.  And you will be near physical exhaustion anyway.

This should be a last resort.  CPR on canines has a depressingly low positive outcome.

FRACTURES:       Most fractures are caused by accidents of varying types.  Preparation and use of protocols for shock and bleeding should coincide with treatment.  Stay alert for other symptoms that will take priority over broken bones, such as No Breathing or Heart stoppage.

Most commonly broken bones in canines are femurs, pelvis, skull, jaw, and spine.  If a fracture has broken thru epidermal layer (skin) it becomes a Compound fracture, with great risk of infection.  Treat the wound for cleanliness as your priority, create as sterile an environment as possible

Take precaution regarding being bitten by the dog.  Apply a muzzle if available, or jury-rig one with shirt, towel, sock or belt.

Open wounds should be treated as soon as all symptoms have been triaged.

Splinting a fracture can relieve pain, shock, and further damage, but must be prepared for before you need this skill.  Improper splinting can cause more damage to the injury.  Simply put, you are NOT Re-setting the bone here by manipulating the bone. You are preventing a broken limb from swinging freely and causing more damage.

If the dog resists, let the limb alone, but do your best to keep the dog as still as possible.  Remain Calm!

Never move the limb, but splint it in the shape you find it.

Found objects that can be used as splints on fractures of the legs are magazines, paperback books, boards, newspapers.

Splints may be tie off, but not to tightly with string, wire, neckties, strips of material etc.

Difficult to splint areas should be left alone, and the dog transported lying down on a stiff mode of transport.

Head injuries and Spinal cord involved injuries require special care.  Utilize your cellphone before attempting any of the following.

SKULL FRACTURES:  Such fractures can be subtle (hidden) or gross (bloody, with skull mishapening)    Contusions may be apparent with or without Loss of Consciousness.  Dog will be dazed.  Keep the dog calm and prone if possible.

If the dog is unconscious, or was, then always suspect CONCUSSION.

Always Treat for SHOCK with above Protocols as priority before worrying about the fractures.

Be certain that the dog is breathing and CAN breath.  Check airway for obstruction.

Handle the dog with great care, and remain calm.  Feeling panic from you will excite and exacerbate the dogs injuries and mental condition.

Control bleeding as described before.

Devise a suitable flat stretcher for transport.  Do NOT LIFT the dog onto the stretcher, but slide it Under the dog following grain of the dogs hair.  Take this procedure slowly!!!  Take this procedure slowly!!!  Be observant for the dogs indications of pain or discomfort.

Observe and record signs of alertness from beginning of treatment thru to arrival at hospital.  Observe level of consciousness, eye movement, breathing, pupil reactions, and breathing.  Info vital to attending Veterinarian.

Transport dog with HEAD Higher than rear end, so as to alleviate cranial pressure.

Make note of any seizure activity.

Duct tape, with cloth underlay can sometimes be utilized to prevent thrashing of the dog.

SPINAL INJURIES:  Protocols for Spinal injuries are similar to Skull fractures in that EXTREME care must be taken into consideration.  As with every injury, use your Cellular Phone and contact the Veterinarian before attempting any procedure you are not comfortable with…Most important is to limit the dogs range of motion during transport.

BURN TREATMENT:  Burns can occur from many sources including chemicals, (internal and external)  Automobile exhausts, and other parts, hot pavement tar, fires in fireplaces, grass or campfires.  It is vital that you be aware of you’re your dogs curious nature, and guide him from situations that can lead to burns of any sort.

Before treatment, always prioritize the dogs symptoms into what is most vital.  Shock, Airway, Breathing always take precedent!

Any and all burns are best treated immediately with cool, running, clean water.  Submergence is acceptable if the temperature is not cold.

Do not attempt to administer any creams or ointments to the initial burn.

Do not burst any blisters that may form as a result of burn.

CHOKING:  (Referring specifically to foreign objects lodged in the mouth or throat)

Is the dog breathing?  Salivating?  Coughing?

Is an object visible and graspable?  If not, attempt to determine what may be lodged in the throat/larynx.  (Look around for bones, cloth, rope, etc.

Check the dogs tongue for proper position.

DO NOT Poke any visible obstruction, as forcing it further will complicate.

Lay dog on its side, and employ a helper to hold the dog in position.  If possible, have the obstruction in an outward and down position, allowing gravity to assist you in removal.  A pair of forceps or needle-nose pliers in you kit can be a great asset.  If manual removal is not possible:

Canine Heimlich Manuever:  Approach the dog from the rear, and place your arms around the dog.  Your fists should be placed into the sternum gap located at the bottom of the rib-cage.  Compress the body with a single upward thrust.  If the initial thrust is unsuccessful, repeat 4 or 5 times in succession.  You are forcing air up the larynx, which will usually dislodge the object.

If the object dislodges by your actions, observe the dog for bleeding, continued retching, fainting.

Dog should then be transported for veterinary examination.

If your attempts do not stop the choking, be sure that the dog is breathing at least adequately, and transport immediately.  Remain Calm…

Remember, your dog can also breathe thru his nose, but this is still an EMERGENCY situation.


Dogs will often not show that they are frostbitten!  You MUST be mindful of this in conditions that cause it.  Be especially aware that the tail, ear tips, foot-pads, and scrotum are especially vulnerable to frost-bite damage.

Frost-bitten skin will be pale white (dead looking) or blue in color.  If circulation returns, the skin will be deep red and swollen, perhaps badly.  Uncirculating will cause the skin to turn black and necrotic.

Treatment:  Apply warm not Hot water soaks to the affected area.  Using a towel is a best practice.  As the skin changes color, you may begin to return the dog to normal heat inside.  DO NOT RUB OR MASSAGE the affected area as damage can be done to the skin.  Follow up with a Veterinarian.

Be aware that as sensation returns, the affected area can be quite painful to the touch.  You may need to restrain the dog from biting or licking.


Dogs do not sweat, and therefore cannot tolerate HOT Atmospheric conditions.  PANTING is the dogs only means of naturally lowering their own core temperature, and when the ambient air temperature approaches their natural body temperature, (100 to 102.5 f. for adults, 97 to 99 for puppies) panting becomes an inefficient system.

PREVENTION-  A) Don’t leave a dog in a closed car even at lower temps of 50 degrees or more.  B) Curtail strenuous exercise during warm weather.  C) Play in water is a great alternative in warm weather  D) Always provide shade and fresh water to your dog whether inside or out.

INDICATIONS OF HEAT STROKE-  Heavy Panting or Labored breathing.   Dogs mouth, tongue, and gums will be BRIGHT RED.  Dogs saliva will become thick and viscous, and vomiting will occur.  Rectal temp will climb to 104 to 110.   Shock may set in, (See SHOCK protocols)  Seizures, collapse, and sudden expiring can occur.

TREATMENT- Emergency COOLING (a gradual, not SUDDEN process) is necessitated.  Move dog into an air-conditioned room first.  Monitor temperature rectally if possible.  Mild condition will quickly resolve itself.  If rectal temperature exceeds 103, dog should be cooled with cool water from a hose, bucket, or other device.  COOL Water, not COLD!  Too rapid a change can induce shock.  It may also work to place a wet dog in front of a Fan.  After a Heatstroke event, a Veterinary check-up for after effects is highly recommended.  Cardiac Arrythmia, kidney failure, and seizures are possible effects.


Treatment- Flush as much water from dogs lungs as possible.  Turn dog with mouth and nose down and allow gravity to help.

Check for pulse and breathing.  If absent, place dog on its RIGHT side and begin Mouth-to-Nose breathing.

Dogs from cold water can be revived! Don’t give up!


May occur when a dog bites or chews and electrical cord.

Do not allow dog to urinate on Holiday lights, yard lights, or path marker lights!

A Shocked dog may be found unconscious near an electrical source.

Heartbeat will be irregular heartbeat, followed by Cardiac Arrest.

Shock also may damage the capillaries of the Lungs.  Fluid can build up, causing pulmonary edema.

Remember that if your dog has bitten thru a wire, he may be UNABLE to let the wire go.  You will need to help him immediately!!

TREATMENT:  NEVER  touch a dog or person that you suspect may still be in contact with the electrical source!!!  Examine the scene thoroughly but quickly, assessing positively that the source is gone or deactivated.  If the source is still ALIVE, either find a way to  turn off the power first, or remove the contact with your dog by using a NON_CONDUCTIVE material…(Rope, Towel, Leather Leash, hose material)

CPR Protocols shall now be followed



Foreign body in the eye requires an assistant to steady the dog.

A muzzle or towel may be needed to prevent biting.

Fresh water or saline is needed.  A small squirt bottle will work best for flushing.

Demonstrate opening the eye for flushing with water.


In an emergency situation, only flushing the eye should be attempted.  Transport the dog NOW!


Caused by  METHYLXANTHINES which are toxic to dogs but not people.

Large dogs can be effected by as little as 16 ounces of BAKING chocolates.  Brownies or chocolate cake are reason for alarm.

Symptoms include Excitability, uncontrolled urination, diarrhea, rapid breathing, weakness, seizures, or coma.

If dog has not yet vomited, induce vomiting: A)  Use HYDROGEN PEROXIDE One (1) TEASPOON per 10 pounds of body weight.  Repeat at 15 minute intervals until dog vomits.  DO NOT USE SYRUP OF IPECAC!!!!

AFTER Dog has vomited, compressed activated charcoal  can be administered.  These are 5 gram tablets, one (1) tablet per 10 pounds of weight.  This will arrest further poison absorption.  YOU SHOULD HAVE THESE IN YOUR KIT!


Put this number in your phone:  (800) 548-2423   or   (900) 680-0000   These are the National Animal Poison Control Center.  Again, also have your Vets number close and available by putting it in your cell phone!!!

First priority is finding out what the dog has ingested.  Collect a sample if substance is unknown, or known, and bring it with you!!

Be PREPARED to induce vomiting if you are instructed to do so by your phone call.

If the container of the substance says “Do Not Induce Vomiting”,    DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING.

General rule of thumb: Do Not Induce Vomiting if:

Dog has already vomited

Dog is unconscious ,suffering seizures, or having breathing difficulty


If the dog has swallowed a SHARP or POINTED object.

I wholeheartedly beg you to research what is considered POISON to your dog, including plants, foods, and chemicals.  Poisoning is a top reason that dogs die en route to veterinary care.  Forewarned is forearmed.

This is by no means a compendium of every situation that can arise.  However, in my experience as a First Responder, its enough for anyone to get your dog to professional help quickly and still alive.  Take the time to read it, make a copy of it, and PRACTICE.  Gathering a few items will prove worth the time if something happens.  Find someone in your area that teaches a Canine First-Aid course, and complete it.  Look into Dog Day care centers, Groomers, or even your Vets office for such a class.

I sincerely hope that you NEVER need this knowledge, but chances are good that you will use at least some of it.  You have your assignment…Your dog is counting on YOU!!!! 

I’m not  your “New-Agey, Touchy-Feely, Transcendant Being”, kind of guy.  I like beer, beef jerky, and hunting.  I’m happiest in Wild Places miles from Cable TV, Cell-phone coverage, World News anything, and batteries.  I like eating broiled meat off the tip of my belt knife (which I may have scratched my back with only moments ago), and drinking coffee from a pot that has egg shells in it, from over an open fire.  And I love eating bacon from a cast iron skillet that also has trout merrily frying away in it.  I like chain saws, and double-bitted axes, and campfires that overlook blue water in deep, boreal forests.

With that manly and testosterone injected disclosure, I approach the subject at hand with an enthusiasm that shocks even me.  I have seen the benefits, the connections and the results of Massage for my Dogs.

Hopefully, your dog works hard, plays hard, and spends his days burning calories and fulfilling his need for activity.  Whether he is practicing  Agility, Schutzhund, Trieball, catching bad-guys, playing fetch, or shredding your $2000.00 leather sofa, he gets tired and in need of relaxation.  It’s also a great bonding between you and your dog.  That’s right, this is not about getting a massage for your dog, but about Giving your dog a massage yourself.  Strengthening the bond between you…

The Internet has a great variety of sites dedicated to Massage Therapy for Dogs…as per usual, some of them are just crazy.  Place hot rocks on a dog’s body?  Yeah that’ll be real successful.  Not that this treatment doesn’t feel GREAT to a human!  Dogs just don’t sit still for such goings-on lightly.  One other site asks you to help your dog “Meditate”.  Riiiggghhhhttt…The deepest thought on most dogs mind is, “Hey…I pooped in the middle of the yard…”    (Use THAT as a mantra!!!)

But, in the middle of all the chaff, are a couple of wheat stalks.  These are the benefits that I’ve gathered regarding Canine Massage:

Dog massage therapy promotes and improves the physical and mental health of our canine partners. This non-invasive technique of hands-on deep tissue massage can enhance the health and performance of our four-legged friends by:

  • relieving tension
  • relaxing muscle spasms
  • lengthening connective tissue
  • improving muscle tone
  • improving circulation
  • increasing flexibility
  • accelerating recovery time

I gathered this litany from a site found here.   This is a business that will do the job for you, near Point Pleasant, New Jersey.  I like this site for the tone it takes.  They treat this as a Physical treatment for pain, strength building, health, and welfare of your dog.  It’s a Doctors practice, not a voodoo hut, or Pixie-dust dispensary.  While it doesn’t teach you to do the job, it explains the benefits very nicely.

Each of my dogs react differently to massage treatments.  My 3-year-old working GSD Hans, becomes a big lump of soft-serve German Shepherd, and often ends up asleep before we finish.  On the other hand, it seems to energize our year and a half old female GSD.  We have learned that doing massage before practice or competition, fires her up!  Holly also enjoys a heating pad (set on LOW, and NEVER without supervision!!!)

My technique follows no rules that I know of from the professionals.  I just observe what the dog enjoys, and they gladly communicate too me what they enjoy.  I have however, made canine anatomy an area of intense study.  The muscles, nerves, and bone structure of the dog is important to understand, as attempting to extrapolate knowledge about YOUR own anatomy on to the dog is impossible. In other words,what feels good to you, might not be so good to your dog.  My advice is to find a good book on Anatomy, and give it more than a cursory read.  Here are a couple of  good examples that are not crazy expensive.

and, finally, a Massage Specific book:

A brief description of how I massage my dogs will be a starting point for you.  I highly recommend that you do some research for yourself, and your dog …

First, I make sure that I am calm.  This also guides the  dog to be in a calm state of mind.  I will sit in a straight-backed chair and put the dog in a Sit, facing me.  I first begin by gently stroking the dogs snout in small, circular motions with fingers only, above the upper tooth line, externally.  Take your time, and work this all the way to the top of his head until you feel a “crest” on the cranium, up the center of the skull.  At this point, begin to widen the circles outward, until you are behind the dogs ears.  Then, move forward on the skull, following the contour of the ear bases, and then down the jaw line.  Work this area, and don’t forget to rub gently around the eye-socket.  Facial massage feels good too many dogs, as long as it is slow and gentle.  Use this time to lift the jowls of the dog to inspect his teeth as well.  (While I recommend that you BRUSH YOUR DOGS TEETH daily, don’t interrupt his massage.)

Now begin working backwards towards the dogs upper neck.  Work your way in circular motions to the topline just behind the cranium.  Work your way down the neck to the upper shoulder.  Then begin working your way forward lower on the sides of the dog’s neck to the chest area.  By the time I reach this stage, my dogs are trying to lie down.  If so, allow the dog to do so.  If not, work the dog’s neck and jaw line a bit more, in a firm but very gentle manner.  Depending on his level of relaxation, it may seem that your dog wants to collapse…Success!!!  Now that your furry friend is lying down, (either side is acceptable),  give the dog long strokes down the dogs side, in the mid-line.  Go slowly!!  The idea is to straighten out the dog’s body and put the muscles in a relaxed position, as well as the skeletal frame.  Give this time to happen, say 5 minutes of gentle stroking…Then begin working forward to the dogs front chest region.  It’s okay to give the dog a fingertip scratch in this area, because they are unable to reach the area, and it feels very good to them.  Don’t dig in, but do scratch the area for 1 or 2 minutes.  Too much time spent here might cause the dog to attempt rising, so if he begins moving, move to the next area.

I now begin moving down the dogs leg structure, starting at the scapula.  Small. circular motions!!  Then I will grasp the leg in both hands and begin massaging downward towards the joint.  As I reach the joint, I will watch closely as the dog will react to any pain he may feel in the joint.  Remember: This is about communicating with the dog…IF you detect any pain in the joint, STOP!  Concentrate on holding the joint between your hands, providing warmth.  In older dogs, this is common.  Please consult your Veterinarian for chronic joint pain, or that which may come from an injury.

Now we reach my dogs favorite part:  His foot rub.  Before massaging, I will gently inspect the toes, webs, and pads for anything stuck there, or small lacerations or blisters.  Remove anything stuck to the toenails, and watch for what can be considered “Nail snags”.  I massage the feet with “Tuff-Foot” if the pads appear sensitive, or one of several other creams that treat the pad and keep them supple.

I concentrate on rubbing each toe-pad softly, and then move to the webbing between the toes, taking my time.  This usually has my 3-year-old “Hans” stretched out on the floor and doing his best cat impersonation.  If he was properly equipped, he’s PURR…

After a few moments of focusing on his feet and ankles, I’ll roll the dog onto his back and give him a brief belly scritching as a break.  This puts him into a position where its possible to inspect his underside for bug bites, lumps, lacerations, or anything out of sorts.  It’s very important to look and feel for these sorts of things for the sake of your dogs health.  Be observant, and thorough.

I finish the treatment by rubbing down the sides of the dogs spine.  Flat handed, circular motions from shoulder to base of the tail, finally checking the hips and knees of his hind quarters.  By this time, the dog is usually quite relaxed.  It takes less than 15 minutes to carry out this massage, and I have found that it provides a bond with the dog.  It also aids your Veterinarian when he or she has to examine your dog, as the dog is accustomed to physical touch, and not fearful.

Before I wrap up this post, I want it to be clear that this post is about a “Relaxing Massage”.  Before competition, or practice, I do a more aggressive warmup massage, designed to get the blood flowing.  That will be another post, allied with thoughts on getting the dog ready for strenuous activity…

For now, try developing a program of massage with your dog.  Do a little homework about where all the parts are, and get started.  You will find that this contact will deepen the relationship you have with your dog.  Start with whatever the dog will allow you to do.  Try focusing on one region at a time, perhaps the head and neck, or the feet and ankles…Whatever seems to please the dog most.

Enjoy the time together, speak calmly, and feed your dog calm soothing energy.  Try it, and see the benefits for both of you…

“After my massage, please draw my bath…”

Several well-intentioned readers have questioned me regarding publishing my book on the Communicative Approach to Training Theory.  And yes, I have interest from a small publisher on assembling what I’ve written into a book form.  However, for the foreseeable future, I don’t plan on doing anything about it.  My reason for this literary sloth became crystal clear to me when a reader of this blog messaged me with several questions.  Her inquiries revealed to me that she had a mis-understanding of what the Communicative Approach was intended to accomplish.  The exact details aren’t important at this point, but here’s why I’m not in a hurry to publish a book. 

Working from a blog-centered format, I was able to immediately respond to her and clarify several of her misinterpretations.  We had a wonderful conversation, and I believe that a friendship has been formed.  She is more comfortable continuing her chosen method of training, with the enhancement of “relationship-based” attitudes of the Communicative Approach.  If she had been working from a formal “Book”, or an “E-book” format, she would have gone away with an incomplete understanding.  I was able to help her immediately and with a personal touch.  Customer service is still King! 

  The other consideration that I have before me, is the inspiration I receive from my readers.  I sincerely feel that writing in a vacuum, without input from supporters and detractors, is egotism of the highest order.  And while I have a solidly formed outline for what I write, understanding of other opinions is important.  Understanding my readers is important.  When I take a controversial position, I’m better equipped to enter the fray of debate without being snarky or dogmatic.  That’s how you teach, and how you convince others, that you are worth reading.  I will always consider my Consumer here at “German Shepherd Adventures” ,   without compromising my beliefs.

I’m not going to reprint Ms. Clarkstons e-mail here, as it was quite lengthy, and some of it was superfluous to the subject at hand.  Our subsequent conversation was similar, in one respect:  It was absolutely riddled with the “scientific” vernacular of a particular style of training.  It required a very specific understanding of the vocabulary, and an in depth knowledge of the short-hand terminology used by adherents to “Operant Conditioning/Clicker” training.  Here is a short compendium of the words my new friend presented.

Variable ratio  –

Premack principle    –

(R+)   which means  Positive reinforcement

Rate of reinforcement


(P+) which means Positive punishment

(NRM)  which indicates No Reward Marker

(R-)  which means Negative reinforcement

(P-) which means  Negative punishment


Environmental reinforce

Differential reinforcement


Conditioned stimulus



Bridging stimulus

Conditioned punisher

“Wow,”  I thought as I read her e-mail, “So much technical hoo-ha to describe something which has a simple baseline to understand.”

Our conversation was equally strewn with the landmines of “Techno-E’s”, except that things were usually referred to in the vocal shorthand of the enlightened.  I’d repeatedly  heard references to (spelling here is phonetic, as I heard them) ” Are-Neg,” “Pee-Neg,”   “Are-Poz”,  “En-Are-Em”, “See-Stim” and a bunch of others that I allowed to dissipate into the ether.

After thoroughly examining the now hard copied e-mail, and engaging this nice lady in conversation for an hour, I stopped her and asked the simplest of questions.  “What are you trying to accomplish with your dog?”  Her reply was tentative and measured.

“I want him to be obedient, and protective of my family, respectful of our home.  I want a happy and eager dog…and I’m using all the latest science of behavioral studies to make him that way.”

“Okay, that’s a wonderful goal,” I replied.  “But why are you making it so hard on yourself, and complicated for Bruiser? (her dog)”

“What do you mean?” She asked, as though I had bitten a chicken’s head off in front of her.

“Well, you have such a technical program laid out here, that you’re forgetting to have a communicating relationship with the big-boy.  He’s a German Shepherd, and what he really wants is to play ball with you.  You spend all of HIS time, clicking at him, and looking for scientific support for what he’s doing, or NOT doing.  Understanding, and Listening to your dog tell you what makes him happy has to be done in Dog Language.  YOU have a great understanding of the language of Operant conditioning, but your dog doesn’t care.  Your timing is a bit off with him, and that creates problems, but what you really need is to start learning to incorporate a positive relationship with him, and assure him that you are trying to understand him,instead of insisting that he understand you.  That’s the trap of being insistent on using Operant Conditioning exclusively to train a dog…Unlike whales and dolphins, dogs live in our homes, with us.  That’s a next-level relationship, which has a far different responsibility.  To use your terminology, OC is a successful way to teach a dog various things you want him to do.  But it only scratches the surface of having a relationship that makes the dog comfortable in his own skin.  He wants to know that you are there to provide “leadership”, “protection” and “fulfillment”.  A Clicker cannot give those things.  When you depend on treats to insure your dogs compliance, you will eventually have to re-train him off some behavior.  When your dog recognizes your kind and gentle Leadership, he’ll make you the center of the galaxy.”

“I’m not quite sure I understand all that…the books I’ve read, and the seminars are more “science”.  I’m an RN, and I like  that type of precision.”

“Precision is great.  Keep using OC and you will have a precisely trained dog.  But there’s so much more that he wants and needs from you.  All of the fancy phrases and acronyms, and the jargon mean exactly “squat” to him.  They’re designed to impress other humans about your education and I.Q.  If you want to impress a Dog, prove to him that you can provide the Leadership that he instinctively looks for everyday.  What’s more, when you master the presence of being a leader, other people’s dogs will be drawn to you.  Especially if they are unbalanced by lack of leadership.  It’s not degrading to your dog, and he doesn’t feel abused.  You don’t beat him into following you, you prove to his brain that you will care him.  The Communicative Approach is an enhancement of your method, not a replacement for it.”

“That makes sense, because I’m convinced that  OC is the best method of training, but it is missing something that I can’t define…But it’s difficult to understand why “science” is’nt  the whole answer…and most Trainers are so supportive and convinced  of OC and clicker training.  They can’t all be wrong…”

“I never said they were wrong.  250 jumping whales can’t be wrong.   But they are incomplete.  Let me explain it this way:  If a human parent raised their children purely by scientific methods, ignoring “manners” , “social behaviors”, and the subtleties of everyday life, how would they turn out?  Like little, unfeeling robots.  They might be obedient, but they wouldn’t have any idea how to be “Likable”, they would lack the ability to be “nice” because science teaches survival of the fittest.  Get yours before somebody else does.  Which is kind of what we see today to a degree in people who were raised without the proper “Leadership”.  Permissiveness doesn’t create success.”

“Well, I hope you’ll help me understand how to train this to Bruiser.  It’s not as well laid out or defined as clicker training.”

“That’s the wrong approach.  Do you “Lead” people at your job?  You’re an RN in an Emergency Room…Do people recognize that you are there to help them, maybe even save their life?”

“If they don’t at first, they pick up on it fairly quickly…It’s an attitude I take when I’m doing my job.  I care about them, and I want to help them…”

“Did you learn THAT from a book?”

This finally set the siren off in her head.  “No…” she started slowly, “I’ve always just wanted to help in the best way I can…”

“Bingo! You understand the foundation of the Communicative Approach.  You can learn all the anatomy and physiology and chemistry and technical parts of medicine, how to help a person heal a sickness or wound.  But if you are an emotionless person, with terrible bedside manner, your patient will still not like you.  But a caring, comforting nurse, with little knowledge is still valuable.  Understanding that truth, a Caring, Comforting nurse with great technical knowledge is a treasure!!!  Be that “nurse” to your dog.”

That I understand…”

Relationships, with people, or with your dog, are always in motion.  The relationship can change minute by minute, day by day, and they will.  Whether for good or ill, that is the very nature of how living beings interact.  Maintaining a “good” relationship is a permanent state of activity, not a pathway with a destination that ends the journey.  If people would recognize this simple truth, the divorce rate of more than 50% of marriages in the United States would plummet precipitously.  The marriage relationship requires minute by minute attention and constant maintenance.  Many marriages end because, as some will say, “We just grew apart…”  Maybe you know this all too common reason personally…  I don’t mean to put Dog Training on the same level of importance as your marriage, but the principles involved are intertwined without doubt.  Simply stated, most marriages break up because “Balance ” in the relationship is lost, abandoned, or discarded by one or both individuals.   I’m not here to be a marriage counselor, but the same mind-set will help you in the daily relationship you have with your four-legged companion.  If you happen to glean a way of improving your other human relationships, then I am pleased that I’ve done more than I set out to do with this post.

Power is a much abused and misinterpreted word.  It always seems to be given on the negative connotations of control, dominance, or even abuse.  In a relationship, both parties have  power to improve, or damage the relationship.  When both parties realize and acknowledge this, then “balance” can be achieved.  Balance is knocked askew when “power” is ignored, denied, or abused.

Many dog-trainers/owners are sent into a roiling, emotional, reaction to the notion that Power is part of training a dog.  “My dog receives no negative reinforcement from me!  It’s cruel, inhumane, and unenlightened!” 

That’s a very human reaction to a concept and arrangement that our dogs accept without questioning.  Dogs know and accept that they are part of a hierarchy, an organization of Leader and Followers.  It comes to them naturally.  They are most comfortable when the Leader leads, and the followers follow.  To deny, and attempt to circumvent this natural inclination is to deny the instinctual behavior of the dog.  Why popular, scientifically minded dog-trainers think they know better is a great mystery to me.  Our dogs are NOT our equals.   We must be Leaders to them, or risk allowing behaviors in them that are at best annoying, and at worst, dangerous.  We must have authority over our dogs, give them structure and rules, or face creating a dog in mental crises.  We must have power over their behavior to achieve balance.  Those convinced of the “Purely Positive” methods will recoil at the very idea that we must say “NO!” to our dogs occasionally, or deny them something they want.  But balance and the use of power are not to be mistaken with cruel dominance or punishment.  And the use of body language, and touch are neither of those things.  Your dog understands that you have the power to care for him, feeding him, tell him where to eliminate, and many other daily demands for proper and acceptable behavior.  Taught well, you will have a well-behaved dog.  Taught insufficiently, you will have a frustrated, four-legged terror.

Observing a mother dog with her litter provides a window into the Truth of a dogs-eye view of Power, structure, and Order.  A bitch may at times appear to be very rough and even “mean” to some that are sensitive without being educated.  She will refuse to nurse puppies until they are calm and passive, she may give them nip if they stray too far from safety.  The truth is, she’s using her Power to teach them lessons that they will need as adults.  Dogs don’t understand or particularly care about “human” standards of fair or unfair.  But they are structured to understand a balance of powers.  Puppies grow up with a sense of proper and improper behavior by this proper use of power from their mother.  It is up to you, the Leader, to continue developing and maintain this balance of power.   And let there be no question, if we do not provide this balanced, leadership, the dog will take it on himself.  Whether or not he wants the job, because it is his canine nature to need it.  But problems always develop when a dog is not provided with Leadership.  If he finds himself in the superior position, over the human element, discipline and correction (Two more dirty words to the OC crowd, who misinterpret them badly)  become nearly impossible.  He has learned that the human expects nothing from him, and therefore he gives nothing.  The dog, in this elevated and superior state of mind, may even judge some of your actions as improper, and discipline you in the process!! A small growl if you approach his toy, or food.  Walking away from you as you plead for him to sit.  You are now a subordinate to your dog, and it’s your fault.

Your Power, Your Balance, Your Leadership…these things free your dog of stress that causes inappropriate behavior.

Your dog has a full-time job just observing you.  In fact, he works lots of overtime as well.  Every minute of every day, he watches your actions, or indeed, your inactions.  The instant he detects leadership waning, he will take up the slack quickly.  Not because he is looking or wanting to dominate you, but because that role must be fulfilled in his mind.  There must be Leadership.  Balanced, kind, and strong leadership.  Hopefully from you…

As you pursue training of any methodology, or are  just living day-to-day with a dog, fulfill his need to take comfort in being lead.  Subordination to a leader is not a negative in the canine mind, as so many humans seem to think.  Get over any notion that your dog is your equal, as this is not his desire.  Accept and develop the traits of a kind, and benevolent leader yourself, always recognizing that this is what makes your dog happiest.

“It is a privilege to fulfill leadership for such a magnificent creature; fulfill your role with balance, strength, and kindness.”