Archive for the ‘Dog Sports’ Category

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.  http://canine-massagetherapy.com/Home_Page.html   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.  http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Anatomy-Coloring-Robert-Kainer/dp/1893441172/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353256641&sr=1-1&keywords=canine+anatomy

http://www.amazon.com/Canine-Muscular-Anatomy-Anatomical-Company/dp/1587795043/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353256641&sr=1-12&keywords=canine+anatomy

and, finally, a Massage Specific book:  http://www.amazon.com/Canine-Massage-Complete-Reference-Manual/dp/1929242085/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353256641&sr=1-11&keywords=canine+anatomy

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…”

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  The problem with many dog-trainers is their brains.  We turn everything into a Plan, a Strategy…a Science.  We seldom back away from these things because we’re hard-wired to strategize, analyze, and conceptualize.  That’s the beauty of being the top of the intelligence pyramid.  It’s also the bane of some of our attempts at living a positive existence.

Dogs know almost nothing about planning, and nothing at all about science.  (Alright, observing my German Shepherds “strategize” how to separate me from my Peanut butter and banana slice waffles each morning does suggest a thought process that resembles “Strategic Thought”.  But I digress)  The point is, WE THINK EVERYTHING INTO FUTILITY!!!

  I came to this conclusion researching the techniques of  Sports Trainers and Extreme athletes…  It doesn’t matter which sport it is either.  They all have an undercurrent of, “Let yourself go…Don’t Think about it, DO IT! ”    Some athletes, after an exceptional performance, will ask, “What happened?  Did I make any mistakes? Did we win?   It’s as though they go into a  mental Happy Place that only they inhabit, and their performance becomes a product of  DESIREDesire to win, desire to outperform themselves, desire to enjoy their sport, desire to feel the endorphin rush of performance.  They are “In the Moment” and nothing else distracts them. Standard issue human beings over-think many things,(Sadly, we under-think other important things) we make them complicated and difficult.  Training a Dog, (and rehabilitating  a dog I’m told)  is better served and more successful when we get our human brains  the heck out of the way and allow for the “energy” and “emotion” that dogs “feel” and “sense” to do it’s alchemy. 

  I’ve read in several places that we should “visualize” the ideal behavior that we are training to achieve.  The perfect “heel”, the sharp and immediate “down”, the unquestioned “Out”, the sharpest weave-pole run.  And this is a good technique…as a beginning. 

  Again, it’s up to you, the Handler, to achieve the optimal mind-set, energy, or emotion that brings out the best in your team. 

When I first went to an Agility class/demonstration, I thoroughly believed that I would see “clickers” everywhere.  There are those who believe that “science” is the only way to train everything.  I did  observe a few using them, but the Trainers that were teaching, had a very different mind-set.  They were advising a “relationship” style method of building “desire to perform”.  (Their term)

Bruce Van Kamp, a self-described amateur trainer, and successful Agility handler, explained his “evolution” away from clickers.  “Clickers train the dog to chase a treat.  They run around looking for the treat, and it’s a distraction from running the course.  As we’ve (his Jack Russell Terror, Spike) (No, I meant to spell TERROR) gained a relationship and an understanding of what he enjoys doing, we’ve shifted into a different way of training.  Now, I’m always conscious to come to the training area in a happy mind-set, with everything else put aside.  No distractions…And my own “energy” is always positive, encouraging, and excited.  Spike picks that up and just zooms!!!  I’m aware that not over-thinking the run in Spikes presence.  I will take care of the course memorizing in my private space.  Spike needs my “energy” to fuel his legs, and that’s what I’m learned to provide.

Spikes first run of the night broadcasts his pure, unadulterated, joy at his run.  The last item on the course is the platform that he needs to jump onto, and plant himself.  When he turns the last curve, he hits his Turbo-boost and flies the last 10 feet, landing squarely on the platform.  Stubby tail wagging furiously.  His reward is being allowed to jump into dad’s open arms and giving him a doggie-bath.  “You see that?  If I relied on treats and clickers, I’d never get that celebration because he’s be looking for food.  But, we always give a celebration with high output energy!”  Bruce explains.     

“We don’t NEED no silly Science! That’s YOUR job Dad!!”

In the “Positive Training” mode however, negative words like “NO!” are frowned upon.  Yelling at a dog for making an error is simply not allowed.  Cursing, calling the dog names, or the like is even penalized in competition.  Being “In the Moment” most certainly means that you are aware of how the “Now” is talking to the dog.  Are you reviewing the mistake your dog just made on the course, your Obedience trial, or tracking exercise in your mind?  That energy transmits like rays of the sun! 

So, how do I train myself to “Be In The Moment”?  :  My First Advice is this:  Whatever training you pursue, make it fun!  For you AND your dog!  Very few of us depend on your dogs performance to feed our family, probably leaning toward 1 in 100,000,000.  You do this crazy dog stuff because it’s fun!!!  Even those who use similar methods to rehabilitate dogs with serious issues, must make it as fun and enjoyable as possible.  All dogs live to eat,  have a lot of fun,  sleep, have a lot of fun,procreate, and have a lot of fun.  If you don’t enjoy working with your dog , why do it?

Second:  Work over your own personality to a more positive and happy energy!  This not only affects your personal health and outlook, but your dogs as well.  Medical studies prove that petting a dog lowers blood-pressure.  Without doing a study, I can tell you that sometimes, humans raise their dogs blood-pressure!!  STOP IT!!

Third:  Stop trying to Multi-task everything in your life, and in your dog training.  Dogs are already prone to distraction (Squirrel!!!) and we don’t want to feed that chaos.  Somebody, back in 1989, decided that the best workers were able to “Multi-Task” 500 projects at once, including eating lunch.  That person was an IDIOT.  Multi-tasking your dog during training or at any time goes against his nature.  And no matter what you may have been told, YOUR nature as well.  PUT IT ASIDE in as many facets of life as possible.  It takes you OUT of every moment!

Fourth:  Due Diligence!  Do the work it takes to train your dog, and yourself!  The method you prefer doesn’t matter, but the attitude you have about that method does.  Don’t allow a militant, “This is the ONLY method that works!” attitude.  Find ways to expand and move beyond “science” into something more powerful that touches what your dog feels and thinks. 

Fifth:  Don’t subject your dog to the planning and strategy phase of YOUR training and preparation.  He doesn’t understand it, and he doesn’t care.  He’s looking for YOUR leadership and Guidance, and is relieved to see that YOU have come to him fully prepared to LEAD!

Sixth:  Look back and remember times that you may have performed beyond what you thought possible.  Concentrate on how you were feeling, what you were thinking, and the endorphin rush you felt as a result.  Make yourself a written list of these times and allow yourself to feel that way again.

Seventh:  At the risk of going all “Mr. Miyagi” on you, remember to breath!!!  Deep, lung-filling, breaths will calm your nerves, and calm your dog.  Be “aware” of your own physicality in the moment.  Your physical and mental state are like a template laid over your dog.  Be Aware of what you are putting out…

  I still have 2316 words on this subject to edit…So much has come from my recent exposure to Agility training that the words have poured out in waves.  They need to be simplified and re-thought for clarity.  The whole idea of “being in the moment” was conceived months ago, but the application was woefully short-changed until the Agility Trainers opened up this discussion, and I am grateful!!  Thanks for reading!!

Those of you that have problems understanding (or outright deny it’s application)  “energy” as it applies to dog training and behavior are about to have your “Eureka!” moment…IF You’ll just keep reading…It’s not “magic”, it’s not mumbo-jumbo, and yes…It’s Scientific from a neurobiological studies viewpoint.

Agility training and the Communicative Approach are symbiotic.  Or, at least, they can be.  They have, in fact, been together for some considerable time.  The most successful trainers/competitors in Agility have been practicing the concept without putting a name on it, in conjunction with a variety of  training methods.  This is very exciting…

It is my decided opinion that, in the world of Dog Training, Agility Trainers/Handlers are well ahead of the curve in cutting edge dog Psychology / Behavior and Training.  They are “Thinking in Doggish, and Observing what their dogs are communicating” while working together.

For the last two months, I have been observing several different classes of Agility dogs and their handlers in progress.  Just listening, and observing.  Nothing more than an occasional question to the instructor or student after the class is finished. More understanding comes from shutting up and absorbing what you observe than imposing yourself in the process.  Bottom line of my observation?   These people Get It“.  They understand and utulize real communication in their training!  I’ve also been reading the books and blogs of some of the more astute trainers, and I have found a group of experienced people that are encouraging student handlers to   “…feel and feed the dogs energy.” 

One particular Saturday afternoon, I was invited to sit in on a class as an observer.  The class was made up of a group of  wonderful  4-H youth, all 12 to 16 years old.  A couple of them are “experienced” at Agility competition, and one of them is a National Level Winner.  At 13 years old, this young man has dog-handling skills that most adults would envy.  His big red Visla, “Rex”, and he work as a single unit, a team that knows what the other wants before it’s wanted.  The young mans name is Jesse, and he’s been involved with  Agility for 4 years.  He was raised with a dog, and he speaks fluent “Doggish”… I’ll put it plainly. After meeting Jesse, I’m finished teaching Search & Rescue people how to handle a Canine.  From this point on, I’ll recruit young people that know dogs like he does.  It’s easier to teach emergency protocols to Dog people than vice-versa…This young man could handle a canine in any discipline he decides to pursue.  Hopefully it will be my team that earns his service. 

I want to tell you more about Jesse and his thoughts on canine training, and I shall.  But it behooves me to first tell you where his thoughts originate…I want you to meet Greg Smithreid.  (Greg would rather I not post photo’s of him, and I’ll respect that.  He’s embarrassed enough that I’m writing about him.)

Greg is a middle-aged gentleman that loves dogs.  Simply loves dogs.  He is soft spoken, but has a quick wit.  He has been training and coaching Agility and Rally-O dogsports for several years.  He is now part owner of a training facility, (Which I’ll profile here in time) and running a successful business.  I first observed Greg teaching a Beginners course in Agility at his school.  Greg is a very positively styled trainer, with vast pockets of doggy-treats at the ready.  But he is not a “one-trick pony” in his training.  He is very adept at teaching people to “read and understand the dog as it works.”  Greg takes notice of each human students mood as they practice, qualify, and perform in competition.  Before a class begins, he encourages all the students to run and play with their dog in the arena, take jumps, run tunnels, and just generally “motivate their energy” (His words!!)  The pep-talk he gave at the conclusion of this class was the hook that said, “I need to work with this Trainer…He KNOWS!”

It went like this:

“Okay class!  Gather ’round and let’s take this session apart together.  First, I want to give commendation to you all for your Enthusiasm, and Energy today!  I know you worked today, or went to school, and you’re tired.  But you showed up with your dog tonight, and you were HAPPY about it!!  Always remember…Your mood, your energy, is what will really fire up your dog.  The dog “feels” the same way you do…if you act tired and dopey, your dog will pick that up and share it!  You need to communicate with your four-legged friend, and give him what he needs to perform well! “

  That was enough for me to stay put until he was done.  He went on to ask each and every student what they had learned in this session.  He wanted the answer to be more than a simple oft heard phrase, and he prodded each to really come up with something constructive.  This guy is a Teacher… He then went into the best part.

“I want all of you to think about something new for next time.  We’re going to talk about “The Zone” that you and your dog are in when you work together.  Are you focusing together?  Is one member of your team distracted?  The Zone affects you and your dog on the training ground and in competition.  You must be in the “Zone!”  Good Work tonight and Thank you!”

It was time to meet this gentleman for myself.  I had just finished a blog-post I had called, “Be In The Moment: The Communicative Approach.” and here he was beginning to describe it for his class!

Our methods and philosophy are very similar, and our thought process comes from the same source.  The desire to build drive and motivation in our dogs using natural methods, without the artificiality of clickers, collars, and constant treats.  “Scientific methods are fine.” says Greg,”But only if they allow the dogs desire to be used as well.  That’s not science, that’s communication.”  There is hope for this world!

We discussed my post and his thoughts. We come from very different disciplines, his Agility, and my Tracking/Trailing Scentwork.  But we agree that “Being in the Moment” or “Being in the Zone” are essentially the same thing.  The focus of the handler is extremely important, your distraction is the dogs distraction.

While doing any sort of bite work, the handler, for his own safety, had best be focused on the dog, and be in the moment!  One distraction might cause serious injury.  There are those trainers that have lost their concentration, and they have large FACIAL keloid (scars) welts to show for it.  Not to mention broken occipital bones, noses, and missing teeth.  These are Handler problems, not the dogs.  So the reasons here are easily understood.  Watching Agility handlers work, this is also easily observed.  The dog takes his cues from his handler, sometimes vocal, sometimes gestural.  Some of the better dogs seem to read the handler’s mind as they run courses!  Mistakes usually happen when the handler gives miscues, or fails to think ahead of the dog.   If you enter practice or competition with half of your mind and emotions focused on something else, so will your four-legged partner, and mistakes will happen.

I want to say this, as so many say they do Agility “Just for fun.”  ” Our scores don’t matter, as long as we enjoy the sport, and have a tired dog…”   That’s terrific, and if that’s your goal, great.  But think how happy your dog will be if you practice being “in his moment” in whatever you are doing!  THAT’S Communication with your dog!!!  By honing your skills with the dog, you may even find a few ribbons and trophies gathering in your home!

I’m going to post this now as a pre-amble (or Ramble”) to the strategy behind “Being In the Moment”.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned!!!

Army dog handler Sergeant David Heyhoe and army explosives search dog Treo, from 104 Military Working Dogs.

I truly believe that everyone should try something new and unfamiliar once every six months.  New perspectives, new thought patterns, old habits put aside, old opinions questioned and tested.  It stimulates and invigorates.  That’s what has been happening on this side of German Shepherd Adventures for the last month…

Our family has taken up Agility/Rally with our young female German shepherd, Holly.  She’s just over a year old now, and has the energy reserves that you’d expect from a young, working dog.  Holly’s training up to this point has involved CGC, Therapy work, and Scentwork.  But this little girl is an always boiling kettle of something… maybe estrogen?  She is less patient than Hansie, unwilling to content herself with watching over her people as they go about their daily activities.  She needs to be in the middle of everything, and everything needs more action.  We knew that she would eventually need to have an activity that engages the intense athlete that lives in her heart.  We considered bitework, but Holly is under my wife’s direction, and she wants her to continue therapy work.  Early temptations with a bite-rag proved that she would do quite nicely in protection work, without a lot of prodding.  She would be a Tasmanian devil for sure, and this was not what CarolAnn had in mind.  No, Holly would require something uniquely her own…

 

We were fortunate to find an Agility competition taking place locally, and we decided to attend.  We thought that observing a couple of hours of the three day event would give us some direction. In the end, we attended all three days, and got completely engaged.  Holly’s course became clear to us, as mere humans…but it remained to see what my baby girl would want.  (By the way, in the future, if I slip and refer to “Baby Girl”, it means Holly.  This is the nickname that she’s earned from her Daddy) She proved enthusiastic and more than willing… She loves the action of the games, the constant motion, and the challenge of learning something new.  She also seems to enjoy the applause and the attention of the audience…What’s more, CarolAnn enjoyed this new activity that neither of us had experienced, and it was clear that she would be handling and training Holly.  That’s more than fine with me, as I’ve gotten intrigued with the coaching and judging aspects of the sport.  We can work together on this project, and create a team of three…Family togetherness is just one benefit of this new horizon. 

The best thing about it, from my viewpoint, is that we know there’s a lot to learn!!!  And what we do know already, will translate into it very nicely…I’m sure I’ll have opportunity to rile up at least some people here, as a pure Operant Conditioning training is practiced by the olde guard.  That’s fine…There’s a wave forming in the training world, even as we speak.  I know, because I’ve been researching some of the more successful Agility trainers, and how they train.  Cutting edge, communicative technique.  With sidebars of Relationship based motivation and drive development.  Naturally, you’ll hear all about thissubject as it unfolds.  That having been said, we will enter this new sport without preconception.  It will develop as we get trained, and find our direction.  Holly will show us the way with her drive, determination, and desire to perform.  She will be our ultimate guide…My wife just hopes that she earns a dog that doesn’t want to play ball at 3 A.M!  Stay tuned gang, this should be fun!!!

 

Thanks to my good friend and Photoshop genius, Chance Lozzio, Hans and I can best express our support for the greatest NFL team in the world!  (You can find Chance on Facebook!)

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It’s pleasing to me that some of my readers are asking questions about First-Aid/Trauma kits specifically for their dogs.  Their are a number of ways to build a kit, or buy one complete.  Both ways will cost between $25 and $500.00, depending on your needs and ability.  Fortunately, most will need to spend under $50.00, to be well equipped, and prepared for anything short of major trauma.

I AM NOW GOING TO PUBLISHED A LIST FOR YOUR CANINE FIRST-AID KIT.  THIS DOES NOT REPLACE YOUR VETERINARIAN IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM.  CANINE FIRST-RESPONSE IS DESIGNED TO GET YOUR DOG TO THE VETERINARIAN ALIVE AND REASONABLY CALM.  NOT REPLACE SUCH CARE.

Important Phone Numbers
Veterinary clinic phone number and directions to the clinic
Emergency clinic phone number and directions
Poison control center phone numbers
Equipment and Supplies
Muzzle
Magnifying glass
Scissors
Tweezers
Nail clippers and metal nail file
Styptic powder or sticks, Kwik Stop, or cornstarch. I recommend  CELOX!!!
Penlight
Nylon slip leash
Eye dropper or oral syringe
Cotton swabs
Cotton balls
Clean towels – cloth and paper
Rectal thermometer
Lubricant such as mineral oil or KY Jelly (without spermicide)  Trust me on this.
Disposable Prophylactic gloves
Syringes of various sizes. W/O needles!
Needle-nose pliers or hemostats
Grease-cutting dish soap
Bitter Apple or other product to discourage licking
Pet carrier
Towel or blanket to use as a stretcher, another to keep your dog warm during transport (some pharmacies and camping outlets carry a thermal blanket)
Cold packs and heat packs (wrap in towel before using)
Stethoscope
Bandaging Materials
Square gauze of various sizes – some sterile.  some should be large-12″ x 12″
Non-stick pads. Steri-strips.
First aid tape/also a roll of Athletic Tape
Bandage rolls – gauze and Vetwrap
Band-Aids (for humans)
Nutritional Support
Rehydrating solution such as Gatorade or Pedialyte
Nutritional supplement such as Nutri-Cal, Vitacal, or Nutristat
High sugar source: Karo syrup
Medicines*
Wound disinfectant such as Betadine or Nolvasan.  Saline water.
Triple antibiotic ointment for skin
Antibiotic ophthalmic ointment for eyes, e.g., Terramycin
Eye wash solution
Sterile saline
Antidiarrheal medicine such as Pet Pectate
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for allergic reactions (obtain dose from your veterinarian)
Cortisone spray or cream, such as Itch Stop
Ear cleaning solution
Hydrogen peroxide (used to make a dog vomit – only use as directed by a veterinarian)
Activated charcoal to absorb ingested poisons (consult your veterinarian before using)
*Watch the expiration dates on any medication, and replace as needed.

You do not need to buy this list in it’s entirety all at once.  BUILD your kit starting with items that STOP BLEEDING.  Gauze, pads, saline water, and a coagulant such as Celox, described here. http://www.elitek9.com/Celox-8-x-8-Gauze/productinfo/F051/ .   And even more info. can be found here.  http://celoxmedical.com/wherebuy_veterinary.htm.

Education is the most important part of your Kit.  And confidence in your ability to help, and not PANICKING.  I’ll address that next.

Here is an outstanding kit that is available from Elite-K-9.  $99.00 can bring you alot of peace of mind….Next post will cover EDUCATION for YOU!

Everybody reading these words loves dogs.  Otherwise, there’s little reason for you to have stumbled on my blog.  If you’ll allow me the hubris, may I address the subject of”Loving Dogs” for a few paragraphs?  Bear with me, it might not be so bad after all…

  As most of you know, taking on the responsibility of making a dog part of your family, is a HUGE, even life-style altering event.  Most of us here know and accept that with some resignation.  The joys of working with, training, or just enjoying the company of a canine far outweigh the hard work, frustrations, and sacrifices we make for the dog.  Many of us go even further, reading, studying, and observing our dogs carefully and making their daily care a central part of our family’s daily life.  We read the fine print on dog food bags.  We spend hard-earned money on training, silly outfits, and dog toys and daycare and grooming, oh my!    We build websites and blogs about our dogs.  We chat on Facebook incessantly about our dogs with other dog lovers. Some of us write poetry, create art, or write about our dogs.   Hopefully we get familiar with our dogs medical needs and practices.  We take walks 2,3, or even more times each day.  We clean up their messes, be it a bout of diarrhea, or the remains of what formerly was a roll of toilet paper.  The list of things we do for our dogs goes on and on.  We refer to these things as “Loving my Dog”.  And those things do prove that we LOVE our dogs.  But if we made a daily list of everything we do each day specifically because of, or for, our dog, what would be on your list?  Or better still, what WOULD’NT be on that list?  This is important…

Each year, the United States Humane Society estimates that 6 to 8 MILLION Dogs are cared for at Humane society branches.  Nearly one half of those dogs are euthanized.  That’s politically correct speech for “They are put to Death, because nobody wanted them, or someone couldn’t care for them properly.”

This post is NOT about spaying or neutering to avoid too many puppies being born.  Not at all.  The direction I’m headed in is called, “Honest-Self evaluation/Personal Responsibilty of myself as a Dog-Owner”. 

  We are all completely powerless to the charms of cute puppies.  You see a puppy, you want the puppy.  You hold or pet the puppy, you want it even more.  Play with the puppy, let it lick your face, you will decide that you NEED the puppy.  That’s what most people would describe as “Loving Dogs.”  We need to redefine that phrase.  Immediately.  Too many dogs suffer because of people who, “Love  Dogs”, and hastily decide to take one into their lives. 

The first week or two is full of activity, great intentions, and forgiveness of puppy’s little indiscretions on the floor.  The next week, work and other obligations fill in time that used to belong to walks or ball games with puppy. The “indiscretions” become “Awww he peed on the floor again!!  Rotten little…”

The second or third month, the puppy has started to rebel against the hours he’s left alone in the house while his humans lives go on.  Walks have become a “Once a week”, event lasting about 15 minutes.  The puppy is growing bigger everyday, and getting a bit more rambunctious.  He’s even nipped you a couple of times.  Choice words have been muttered about the expense of the Vet visits, (Does the dog really NEED shots?!!!??)  his good dog food, (Let him eat the cheap stuff!  It’ll do!  He eats better than we do!) and the idea of any formal training has now been abandoned completely. ($50.00 an hour?!!)    At about this time, the family may be ready to go on a vacation or somewhere else, and the cost of boarding the dog causes the biggest fight yet.  It’s usually about this time that the 6-8 month old puppy has stopped being a pet, and becomes a big hassle.  Casual inquiries go out, searching for a new home for the innocent soul that wants only to play with his family, and feel secure.  After a few weeks of failed searches, the puppy ends up at a shelter, or worse.  Nobody has time for him, and the expense was never thought over.  “We LOVE the dog, but he just doesn’t fit into our lives.  It’s just a dog.  He’ll be easy to place in another home!” are usually the last words that the dog hears from his original family.

That’s NOT “Love for a Dog”.  That’s loving the idea of HAVING  a dog…A dog that requires no time, attention, expense, or anything outside of an occasional pat on the head.  That is not a family member…it is Property.  Most of these dogs, whether or not they are purebred, don’t ever again see a proper home, or the attention of a proper pack.  The dog may very well have taken on certain undesirable traits from his lack of socializing and training.  Strike 2.  He may be a large, imposing breed.  Strike 3.

  “Personal Responsibility” is a rarely practiced discipline that has been replaced by the society we live in now.  Everything is somebody else’s fault.  If something goes wrong, somebody else will take care of it for me (Government, family, anybody!) 

   Before you take that gorgeous puppy, examine your lifestyle.  Do I have time?  Do I have the interest in developing my dog into more than an ornament?  Am I willing to fit my life around my dog rather than abandon him when he’s inconvenient?  If he needs help, medically or behaviorally, am I willing and able to spend the time and money on him? 

Thats how we show love to our dog.

This is meant to be a very positive plea for the sake of all dogs.  If you honestly find that you don’t have the situation to take a dog into your family, but you STILL LOVE Dogs, try this:  Visit your local shelter or breed rescue.  They will beg you to play with the dogs, walk the dogs, socialize with the dogs, and if you have any training to offer, the dogs are ready and willing!  Have fun, they will!

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