Archive for the ‘Man Trailing/Tracking’ Category

Once again I tread the minefield of turning our dogs into little human beings.  I promise you that I won’t, but there are good, demonstrable reasons to include “Love Your Dog”, into the process of the Communicative Approach.  Let me start with the axiom, “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Done To You.”

That’s right, the good, old-fashioned “Golden Rule”.  In case you are unaware, that was originally written in the Bible book of Matthew chapter 7 verse 12, about 2000 years ago.  It’s origin sometimes gets lost these days, but it’s good Life-Counsel no matter the source.  I just happen to believe it important to recall the words of Jesus Christ in this context.  No translation of the scripture says, “Do Unto Just Other Human Beings…”   Nope, they all say some derivative of “Others”, allowing for the conclusion that it applies to all living creatures.  Okay, Bible lesson finished…(That didn’t hurt a bit did it?)

All of the separate parts of the Communicative Approach, could technically fall under the umbrella of “Love Your Dog”, but there’s more detail to each and every one that I feel is important .  Therefore I’m using Love as a separate feature.  I know, as I develop this further that you’ll understand why.

First of all, what is your definition of “Love”?  Just think it over for a bit, as there are many ways to describe love.  For my purposes here, I will define Love as, “A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a friend…the benevolent affection of Man for his charges …A strong, warm, personal attachment.”    This is not romantic ,love, nor is it the love of Principal.  No, it just simply means that you are trying to treat your dog as you would like to be treated if you were a dog!

Okay, now imagine that YOU are your dog.  See the world thru his eyes, smell thru his nose, hear thru his ears…

From the day you brought your puppy or rescued dog home, he looked to you for nearly everything.  You were the source of food, water, play, care,  comfort, and (hopefully) leadership.  Loving your dog means giving these things freely and in proper amounts.  Making your dog know that you will always provide these things…Being prepared and willing to provide the best of these things that you can is part of loving your dog.  Does your dog spend most of his time locked in a crate, or small room alone, because you’re busy??  If your dog becomes sick, do you make sure that you consult a Veterinarian?  Do you carefully make decisions regarding vaccinations?  (This is a touchy subject, as some common vaccinations are actually dangerous and unnecessary)  This requires that you make informed decisions…Will you take the time???  Will your dog find itself tied outside to a post or tree in cold, heat, rain, or snow left to create a path where it paces alone wondering where his pack is???  Referencing the Golden Rule, would YOU enjoy that???  Your dog has a sophisticated and active mind.  Will you fulfill his mental needs with active play, exercise, and stimulation?  And 15 minutes a day is NOT enough.  Most behavioral problems have their source in boredom, inactivity, and lack of leadership.  Loving your dog means fulfilling these needs, and it takes TIME.  Maybe more time than you realize…Never let it be more time than you are willing to give, for your dogs sake.  This is a big reason why shelters and rescues are so busy and filled with dogs.  (Or should I say “Inmates”?)

Is your dog an “At Will” employee?  Meaning that you can “fire” him for whatever reason at whatever time?  Some dogs are gotten rid of when they become an “Inconvenience”.  Some of these are even “Euthanized” because they become more responsibility than the human wants.  Let me re-phrase that so you get the full impact.  SOME PEOPLE HAVE THEIR DOG PUT TO DEATH BECAUSE THEY NO LONGER WANT THE RESPONSIBILTY.  I grieve at the lack of “Love” that human beings are capable of demonstrating.

I believe you probably understand what loving a dog entails.  Time, effort, money, resources, more time, research, a bit more time…But the end results are MORE than worth the efforts!!!

You will always find that “Love” is a part of every facet of communication.  It is simply putting yourself in your dogs paws and asking yourself, “If I was a dog, and my owner did that to me, how would I feel?”

Next, we’ll dig into “Live With Your Dog.”   Thanks for reading, and please feel free to FOLLOW German Shepherd Adventures by pushing the FOLLOW icon at the top of the page!!!!


    A  Dog-Training DVD that is simple, effective, AND engaging.  Hmmmmm…Sounds like the most difficult formula in the industry today.  So many training  dvd’s become victims of bad editing, poor production, or convoluted training methods that require too much explanation.  Many others, while informative, are often boring.  Well, now I’ve found a DVD that is entertaining, informative, and uses a methodology that IS  something truly innovative…Common Sense, and sound canine psychology.

 The title of the DVD is,  “3 Dog Days”, produced by Columbus, Ohio based Dog Behaviorist, Angie Winters, and “German Shepherd Adventures” gives it an enthusiastic  5 PAWS UP! (5 out of 5). 

  It should be noted from the start that the methods here are NOT intended for dogs under 4 months of age, but are designed as lessons for teaching respect, structure, and leadership to your pet.  They would be especially effective for Rescued dogs, or those taken into your home at a later time than puppyhood.  That’s as close as I can get to a critical statement of the DVD…I truly hope that Angie produces more instructional dvd’s in the very near future, addressing other subjects such as bringing home a new puppy.  She has a gift for understanding dogs, and teaching people what to do for them.  Let’s get to the meat of the matter!

  “3 Dog Days” is based solidly on the owner being a LEADER.  Ms.  Winters first point is that her method provides “…firm structure in a respectful manner…never hit, kick, or yell” at your dog…Anger doesn’t teach anything” .  (Now you can say the words, “that’s just common sense”)  She further makes the point very clear, that this is all about the Relationship that exists between humans and dogs.  It’s a very special and unique arrangement that effectively helps the team to develop a mutually supportive atmosphere based on trust between Leader and Follower.  Winters has a sound understanding of how dogs think, and what they want from us in every day life, and she describes it very well.

Using three techniques, (1) Silent Support  (2) Companionship and Control  and (3) Crate Work, “3 Dog Days”  will guide you both thru a weekend that will create an entirely new atmosphere in your home.  These are very positive techniques, without being mired down by the “jargon” and “What does that Term mean?” of so many “positive training methods”.  Again, this is just innovative “Common Sense” being used.  Somewhere, we lost that in the science that has become so prevalent in dog training.

“3 Dog Days” also utilizes the idea that each and every dog is a unique individual, requiring  a different approach.  This is the true strength of Ms. Winters approach.  Her well-rounded, and flexible techniques allow for such needs, which makes the canine in the equation more at ease.  Affect the dogs mind, to create a respectful relationship…This is powerfully demonstrated by the use of a “feral”, completely untrained dog, undergoing the transformation into an ideal pet dog. 

One outstanding method used here, is the most difficult to master for the human.  KEEP SILENT while training.  Do Not use the voice to calm the dog.  All of us talk too much in this relationship and learning Silent Support will push you into a powerful tool in training your dog. 

Body Language is another tool in the “3 Dog Days” that you will learn.  Our dogs watch us closely, far more so than we as humans do.  Focusing on that will be a revelation to some.  Using the snap of a finger, Winters corrects the dog from a distance, and gets the results that make your dog the well-behaved pet you desire.  Achieving Leadership, Leadership, and Leadership are the backbone of the “3 Dog Days” method.  The dogs mind, and personality , are both  fully engaged by the trainer/owner.  The steps to follow are clearly and easily explained in their entirety.  Many instructional dvds today seem to hold back small details from the viewer, so as to create a need for another DVD, to explain even further.  “3 Dog Days” gives you every detail the first time…

Mention should also be given about the technical details of the “3 Dog Days”.  If you have ever watched DVDs from Leerburg productions, you have found them instructive and interesting.  But they have taken little care in their editing.  Spelling errors and other glitches are common, and annoying.  “3 Dog Days” was produced by professionals that crossed all the “T’s”, and dotted all the “I’s”.  The settings and lighting were well designed and easy on the eyes.  The best compliment I can give is that this dvd is one that you will watch over and over again!  “Common Sense” has found a home in the world of canine training!!!

  In conclusion, I need to explain something about the title of this review, in which the words “Bubble Bath” appear.  In a wonderful moment of whimsy and humanness, Winters demonstrates that your dog and his training should be FUN!!!  That’s all the detail I’ll give on that.  But the fact that this very instructional and informative  DVD doesn’t take dog-training rigidly serious, will surprise and delight you!!! 

The DVD is available from    found here.  It’s well worth purchasing!


“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

Honestly, I’m weary of this debate over Training Methods.  But every time I write about it, readership of GSA spikes dramatically.  I’m obviously addressing something that strikes a chord.  I’ve only had a sprinkling of negative comments, and a boatload of positives.  People want to be allowed the freedom to choose training methods without militancy, I guess.  The reason I wrote this post, was because I recently published my conclusion that Positive Reinforcement/Operant Conditioning was an “Incomplete” method on it’s own.  Two readers took great exception to this conclusion, and practically demanded explanation/clarification/ or retraction.  So, for the sake of the few, here’s how I’ve come to my conclusions.

In 1637, a mathematician named Pierre de Fermat was working on a very specialized theory involving algebraic constructs.  In a leading study of mathematics called Arithmetica   Fermat stumbled across a formula that caught his eye.  It sparked something in his thinking, and he scrawled in the book his thoughts.  He wrote, “Remarkable Proof…”, and started over 300 years of controversy and obsessive study.  Proof of what??  Ever since, a continuing series of” long-haired, lab rats” has pursued the final answer to that obscure question. (It was finally solved in 1995, but that’s another story)

I recently had my own “Fermats” type experience.  I didn’t grasp the significance at the outset, but it has now become crystal clear.   It all began at the Public Library.  I was reading a well known book by “Clicker-Training” guru, Karen Pryor.  Here’s the paragraph that I was reading, with an emboldened highlight of the operative phrase.

A few weeks later I fly to Indiana. At Wolf Park, Erich Klinghammer is eager to have me go into the pens and meet some wolves personally, to “experience their boisterousness.” This I am not willing to do. Klinghammer is six feet four with a big Germanic bass voice. He walks through the gate into the main pack’s enclosure and booms, “Good morning, wolves!” The wolves gather around him, waving their tails and jumping up to greet him: “Good morning, Dr. Klinghammer!” For me, I think it would be “Good morning, breakfast.”

Besides, I don’t need to be close to a wolf to work the training magic; in fact, both of us are safer and will feel better with a fence between us. This wonderful technology does not depend on my being able to impress or dominate the wolf. Nor does it depend on making friends first, or on having a “good relationship.” That’s often a happy outcome, but it’s not a requirement: the laws of reinforcement will get the job done.”-Karen Pryor

The interesting part of this excerpt was a comment that a reader of the book had scrawled into the margin.  It read:   “This woman really misses the point of having a dog!  Sounds like she’s tuning a piano, or de-fragging a harddrive…”

Hmmmm….  As I continued to peruse this copy of the  book, (I’ve read the book multiple times, but never saw this particular copy) there were other passages underlined and commented on.

… Now we have a new way of dealing with animals. Out of real science we’ve developed a training technology. It’s completely benign; punishment and force are never part of the learning system. And it produces real communication between two species.

Traditional animal training, the way it’s been practiced for millennia, relies largely on force, intimidation, and pain. While traditional trainers may also use praise and rewards, dominating the animal and obtaining control over its behavior are the main goals, and the main tools are fear and pain.-Karen Pryor

The superscription beside this paragraph, written in bold handwriting, said, “When Science is employed in it’s purest form, the sentient being,( in this case, “Dog”) is ignored wholesale.”

I agree.  I have called Positive Reinforcement/Operant Conditioning “Incomplete”  because it is thought of proudly as “Science”, THE only method that is proper. Many of  it’s practitioners preach the gospel of having degree’s and higher education.  Dog trainers/behaviorist without such educational assertions  in choo-choo train fashion behind their names, are scoffed at, and put aside as “Uneducated”.  When examined with a unjaundiced eye, you can find any number of “Science” projects that eliminated the “Sentient Being” from the equations entirely.  I wonder if Robert Oppenheimer ever came home at the end of a workday and said to his wife, “Hi Honey! I’m Home!  Today I created a terrible weapon that could be used to incinerate a 100,00o,000 at the same time!  How was your day?”  Probably not.  It was pure science.  Without consideration of the consequences to the people of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, Japan.

Aristotle, one of our first pure “Scientists” postulated the Spontaneous Generation Theory which stated that life could spring forth from nothing.  That would certainly free mankind from any responsibility for his actions, wouldn’t it?  Pure Science.

One of the oldest and most controversial theories in psychology and  philosophy is the theory of the blank slate, or tabula rasa, which argues that  people are born with no built-in personality traits or proclivities.. The idea  found its  most famous expression in psychology in the ideas of Sigmund Freud,  whose  theories of the unconscious stressed that the elemental aspects of an  individual’s personality were constructed by their earliest childhood  experiences.

While there’s little doubt that a person’s experiences and learned behaviors  have a huge impact on their disposition, it is also now widely accepted that  genes and other family traits inherited from birth, along with certain innate  instincts, also play a crucial role. This was only proven after years of study  that covered the ways in which similar gestures like smiling and certain  features of language could be found throughout the world in radically different  cultures. Meanwhile, studies of adopted children and twins raised in separate  families have come to similar conclusions about the ways certain traits can  exist from birth.  Pure Science.  Again, completely wrong, but accepted as gospel by those with “Higher Education”.

When you reduce anything to “Pure Science”, you lose the wonderful chaos that is contained within all living, sentient creatures.  And I’m NOT anthropomorphizing our dogs either.  I have rejected the notion that dogs are little people in dog suits.  Dogs are dogs, and humans are humans.  They are different from one another.  But when a “Happy Dog” is, as Pryor words it, “Nor does it (Positive Reinforcement training. Italics minedepend on making friends first, or on having a “good relationship.” That’s often a happy outcome, but it’s not a requirement…”   Then, pure science has taken over, and will ultimately be found wanting.

The lost equation is this: Build a relationship with the sentient, intelligent, and loving being that your dog was created to be.  The science that supports Positive Reinforcement is a wonderful tool that belongs in a trainers bag of tools…Along with many other methods that fit a particular dog during its training.  Don’t be so impressed with any one human that espouses one method as “The end all, be all” method that stops learning, growing and expanding your own knowledge.  Glean from all methods.  Don’t waste your time bickering and whining because someone says something you don’t happen to agree with in the dog training arena.  And above all else…

Let me emphasize that properly…Above All Else, put your dogs happiness and well-being above your methodology.  Too many dogs become robots, stressed and unfulfilled by owners/trainers that force the dog into the currently accepted mold of an industry.  Be your dogs best buddy everyday, and he or she will reward you by being the best dog in the world.

In the developing thought process of the Communicative Approach, serendipity reveals other small trails that still need to be explored.  Learning to communicate with our dogs in their unique language has other important uses besides training.  And maybe, just maybe, some of the other uses will prove to be more important (and beneficial) than the original intent.

This occurred to me during a conversation with a close friend.  My friend is a dog-lover, an artist, and an empathetic soul.  Her Chocolate Labrador has eclipsed his 15th year of a very happy life, and sadly, the years are beginning to show their effects.  She is faced with that decision we all inevitably  confront.  This very sensitive lady was looking for something that would make an end-of-life decision less traumatic…for her.

This is not to criticize her…In the end, these decisions affect us emotionally as humans more than they do our dogs.  We tend to keep them by our side as long as we can bear the pain in their eyes…And that is another reason that we need to learn the Language of Dogs.  After all, they should make such a decision for themselves, and we should listen to them.  I’m not implying that dogs understand the concept of death.  Nor do they believe in some canine concept of an afterlife.  Dogs do not practice religion, or possess spirituality.  But they do understand what it means to be happy, comfortable, loved, and secure.  They also understand when these qualities are missing.

Your dog has communicated to you throughout its life that it enjoyed a rousing game of fetch, that it was comforted by your presence, anguished at your separation, distressed by that man in the white lab coat poking him with a needle.  Your dog also managed to communicate to you that his tummy was upset, he enjoyed the table scraps you surreptitiously slipped him, he reveled at the belly rubs you gave him.  At some point, your dog communicated affection for you, by laying his head on you, secure in the knowledge that you would scratch him. (Yes, I know that some would say that laying his head on you indicates dominance, but it’s just not always so.)

Hopefully, the point that you and your dog have always communicated, is made clear.

Why should this connection fade at the end?

At the foundation of the Communicative Approach is understanding the language of your dog.  I can think of no more profound event than life’s end, for our dogs to speak to us.  While none of us look forward to this eventuality, it will happen.  Dogs pass away from us.  If we listen to our own thoughts, we are apt to prolong the process to sooth our own needs and fear of loss.  But your dog has a very different viewpoint.

As a dog, his understanding of death is non-existent.  He thinks not of an afterlife, nor does he wonder what lies beyond.  He does know the Now.  He may not be able to see clearly, he may not be able to walk more than a few steps, or pain may be filling his thoughts.  He may feel gnawing hunger, because eating is not possible.  All of these things are revealed in your dogs eyes, which long for you to throw his ball.

“Throw his ball”, you say?  Yes indeed…Even in their lowest state, what your dog remembers are the good things you and he did together.  Ball games, running thru the forest putting his nose into any interesting nook that he came upon.  Swimming in the lake, jumping off a dock, chasing the other dogs in silly games of rough- and -tumble tag.  The dog remembers belly-rubs on your bed, the bully sticks that he devoured with gusto.  Your dog remembers the joy he felt when you returned home to him from a work-day.  The eyes of your dog are truly “windows into his soul”.  Our four-legged friends have the very non-human ability to see and remember the very best of a life lived in earnest.  Humans tend to jump from one misery to another.  We remember in landmarks of pain, sorrow and anguish, with interspersed moments of joy.  Perhaps that is a failing of too much thought…Too much  focus on the negative aspects of life.  Anyway, it’s all too human, and canines are not possessed of such burdens.

Beyond getting too wordy or philosophical, this is how I will deal with the end of life decisions for my friend.  When his eyes no longer show  the desire to run, play, and enjoy living, I will allow his last thoughts to be of those things he loved best, rather than the pain of want…I will sit beside him, and remember with him.  I will do this before the pain becomes unbearable for him.  I will make our final moments together peaceful, without stress.  He will know only that at this moment we are together, and will always be.  His eyes will speak to me of Autumn days in the forest, chasing his favorite toy into the rolling whitecaps in summer, training together for our work, and the joy of finding the lost.  I will do my very best to see that these final moments take place at home, and not in the sterile environment of a veterinary office.  I will not tell him that he is leaving me…nor will I beg him to stay.  As always, I will allow him the dignity of his life, the joy of his spirit, and the beauty of his soul.  When his eyes tell me, “It’s time to go”, he will not see me cry.  Our time together will be happy and joyful until the sand slips thru the hourglass of his life.

Only then will I give way to sorrow, and I shall do so only in seclusion.  And though it may sound so, I am not Planning for my dogs death.  That will take care of itself as it has for time immemorial.  We will live my dog’s life in joy and celebration of each day.  When my friend tells me, “It’s time for me to go…”  we will part ways as we came together, with a smile and a deeply felt, “Good Boy!”



  I have only two minor criticisms of this book, and I’m going to get them out of the way immediately.  The criticism is directed to the publishing company Alpine Publications.  K-9 Trailing- The Straightest Path, by Jeff Schettler, needs better promotion.  As a blogger on all things dog, I try to keep abreast of all the newest books.  And I’m pretty successful at it. But,  I accidently found this very fine book because the author, and the publisher of K-9 Cop magazine had the vision to print an excerpt in the latest issue.  I hope to help you  by printing this review to my readers, but more exposure would surely enhance sales of this book!  When book #2 is ready, blitz the industry!!!  One minor addition to this:  While very attractive as bound, consider publishing the next edition in a good quality ring binding.  This book should be able to be laid out and STUDIED.  It is a WORKBOOK, and the format will make using the book more convenient.  (On the publishers end, if a book is heavily used, it wears out, necessitating that we, as consumers, buy another copy.  I’m a greedy capitalist, you need to make money.  Think about it.)

Now, on to the meat of this review:   I could begin and end this review with these words:  “Follow this link, and buy this book.  If you have an interest in Law enforcement, Competitive Trailing, or Search and Rescue, buy this book and read it.”

Yes, it’s that good.  Jeff Schettler has literally, been there, done that.  He’s made the mistakes, learned the lessons, made the changes, and thought Trailing with a canine thru too its most logical methodology.  He’s challenged some of the sacred cows of tracking, and given solid evidence of why those methods fail to produce. 

On page 9, a discussion begins about our abilities (or lack thereof) to “Read” our dogs when on a trail.  Several indicators of behavior are provided in the text, with the understanding that each and every dog may have differences.  The guidance given is broad enough to provide a guide, and narrow enough to provide very specific behavior.

“Distraction Behavior”( is another subject with too little written about it from the Handlers point of view.  The question is posed in the text, “So, how does a handler correct a distraction?”   I’ll let you read the answer, but suffice it to say that Schettler answers it confidently and clearly. (Chapter Ten in its entirety)  This chapter also addresses “Line Handling” for handlers, an often neglected skill that we all need to study, practice, and improve.   It may well be the cornerstone for training for many, many years.

Chapter 7  is replete with the reasons most of us lay such lousy trails for our dogs in training.  Again, the author has tried everything that we all have, and failed.  But he never gave in to those mistakes and accepted them.  Thinking well beyond, he discusses the importance of diversity in our training helpers, including those with alzheimers symptoms.  Chapter 8 follows this up with the subject of Fire trails for puppies, which puts young dogs in situations that build and encourage tracking ability.  Unlike other disciplines, trailing work training can and should start at a very early age, and Schettler tells us how to do it properly.

The price of the book is entirely covered in Chapter 11, “Scent Discrimination”.  The Double-Blind method of testing a dogs ability is described thoroughly, and becomes the Gold Standard for proofing ourselves and our dogs.  On page 134 of the chapter, the subject of dogs failures on a trail, and why this occurs is discussed.  Thisquote is head and shoulders above the rest:  “…The real reason why dogs are not as reliable…is not because of the dog, but because of the handler’s training paradigm and his belief system.”  The discussion lays the problem squarely where it belongs, on preconceived ideas of handlers.

Split Trails in training are also described in clear logical steps of preparation and execution, which will greatly enhance our dogs ability to discriminate different human scents, rather than just pursuing the newest, strongest scent.  The accompanying photo’s and diagrams explain these methods thoroughly and clearly.

Chapters on streams and rivers, and hard surfaces also provide instruction that will aid those who really study what is being suggested.  Again, to really benefit, you must get this book in front of you, (and your team) and put it to the test.  Schettler is writing from the field of long experience, and he writes in the voice of a very knowledgable teacher, without telling you that he knows better than you.  He admits in the preface that he is not a professional writer, but was influenced at an early age by comic books, graphic novels, and the art work of Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo!  That sounds like my kind of writer.   Schettler credits Dianne Nelson as his editor, and I credit her with allowing the voice of a Dog Handler to remain true to the tone I would expect.  He writes what he knows, and says it in his own style without a heavy handed english major beating up his words.  Wonderful job Dianne!

   The final reason that you need this 192 page treasure chest, is this:  Book Two is already underway, and the two are intimately connected as Schettler forewarns.  Buy them, have them ringbound for easier use, and soak up 25 years and hundreds of trail miles in this book.  I have already picked up a copy of Schettlers first book “Red Dog Rising”, a chronicle of his training with a beloved bloodhound  “Ronin”, a book I had overlooked previously.

Schettler has recently been given several writers awards for his books, and those accolades are certainly earned.  But don’t buy these books because writers say they’re worthy.  Buy them because they are chock-full of the very finest training available today.

I recently had a personal message regarding a puppys tender little paw pads, and how to care for them…It seemed perfect to address this important subject here…

Like any Platoon Sergeant worth his camo fusses over foot care of his men in the field, we should keep close watch over the paws on our GSD’s.  These dogs can be so tough that they don’t always show injury or discomfort.  That makes YOU responsible to stay alert to problems before they demand Veterinary treatment.

  • A dog’s paw is made up of thick, rough pads called the metacarpal pad and the digital pads or “Toes”.  (Item “C” below.  The central, weight-bearing pads), carpal (“D” Below.  In the wrist area) and digital (“A” below.  Which protect the “toes”). There is a claw for each of the digital pads, and some breeds also have a fifth claw near the carpal pad that may be removed when they are young to keep it from snagging on things and hurting the animal. The pads of a dog’s paw are made of fat and a very tough outer layer of skin, which is actually the toughest skin on the animal’s body. This skin helps protect against injuries and abrasions to the paw. Exocrine sweat glands (which secrete sweat into ducts that drain from the skin) are also a part of these pads.

    Canine Paws need your help!

Your dogs pads are full of very rich blood vessels that help keep his feet warm in the cold.  They are covered in very thick, tough skin, that feels very smooth when touched “with the grain” so to speak.  Rub the opposite direction though, and it can feel like an old fashioned emory board, or sandpaper.  Your dog’s feet are made for walking, but  they are also made for protecting. Pads provide extra cushioning to help protect bones and joints from shock, provide insulation against extreme weather, aid walking on rough ground and help protect tissue deep within the paw. With all that work to do, it’s no wonder your pooch’s paws often take a bit of a beating.   Here are a few tips for daily paw care that are easy to perform.  Your puppy will truly thank you!

  • Pamper With Pedicures: Your dog’s nails should just about touch the ground when she walks. If her nails are clicking or getting snagged on the floor, it’s time for a pedicure. Ask your veterinarian or a groomer for advice about what types of nail trimmers are best for your dog and how to use them properly.
  • Snip and Trim: Trim paw hair regularly to avoid painful matting. Simply comb hair out, especially from between the toes, and trim even with the pads.
  • Clean In Between: Foreign objects can become lodged in your dog’s pads. Check regularly between toes for foxtails, pebbles, small bits of broken glass and other debris. These pesky items can usually be removed with a pair of tweezers.
  • Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize: A dog’s pads can become cracked and dry. Ask your veterinarian for a good pad moisturizer and use as directed. Avoid human hand moisturizer, as this can soften the pads and lead to injury.
  • Deep Paw Massage: Similar to giving a human hand massage, a paw massage will relax your dog and promote better circulation. Start by rubbing between the pads on the bottom of the paw, and then rub between each toe. Your dog will be forever grateful for the extra TLC!
  • Slow and Steady: If you’re about to begin a new exercise program with your dog, start off slow. Paws may become sensitive, chaffed or cracked, particularly when starting your dog out on hikes and runs.
  • Apply First Aid: It’s not unusual for dogs to suffer cuts or other wounds from accidentally stepping on glass, debris or other objects. Wounds that are smaller than a half inch in diameter can be cleaned with an antibacterial wash and wrapped with a light bandage. For deeper paw cuts, see the vet for treatment.
  • Summertime Sores: Imagine stepping barefoot onto hot pavement. Ouch! It is important to remember your dog’s paws feel heat extremes, too. To prevent burns and blisters, avoid walking your dog on hot pavement or sand. Signs include blisters, loose flaps of skin and red, ulcerated patches. For minor burns, apply antibacterial wash and cover the paw with a loose bandage. For serious burns, visit your vet immediately.
  • Wintertime Blues: Winter is hard on everyone’s skin, even your dog’s! Bitter cold can cause chapping and cracking. Rock salt and chemical ice melters can cause sores, infection and blistering. Toxic chemicals can also be ingested by your dog when he licks his paws. After outdoor walks, wash your dog’s paws in warm water to rinse away salt and chemicals. You may wish to apply Vaseline, a great salt barrier, to the foot pads before each walk-or make sure your dog wears doggie booties.
  • Practice Prevention:To reduce the risk of injury, keep your home and yard clear of pointy bits and pieces. Be conscious to avoid hazards such as broken glass and other debris when walking your dog. And keep this simple tip in mind-if you wouldn’t like to walk on it barefoot, neither will your dog!

    Front paws.

    • Dogs actually walk on their toes, not on the soles of their feet. Their heels do not touch the ground, either.
        • A dog’s paw may look smooth, but the pads are actually made up of multiple small protuberances called conical papillae. These papillae can eventually be worn smooth by walking on rough surfaces such as pavement for extended periods.
        • A dog with sensitive paws is an unhappy dog. Sensitive paws interrupt a dog’s lifestyle as much as any illness or disease. An owner who cares about his dog will pay close attention to its paws. Knowing the causes of sensitive paws will help dog owners prevent the condition beforehand. Knowing how to deal with sensitive paws will help dog owners quickly and safely help their dog if the condition occurs.

Dogs are naturally shy and careful about their paws. An owner must gently handle her dog’s paws every day. This way the owner will gain the trust of the dog. Knowledge about a dog’s paws is useless unless the dog allows its paws to be handled and inspected. Consistency is crucial to gaining a dog’s trust. Not only should an owner inspect his dog’s paws every day, he should pick a specific time to do it and stick to the schedule.

Feel each of the dog’s pads and between the pads. Gently squeeze the pads, and gently squeeze each paw individually. If a paw or any part of a paw is sensitive for some reason, the dog will let you know by whining or yelping. Remain courageous and upbeat. A whine or yelp isn’t a sign that you’ve hurt the dog; it’s a sign that the dog is hurt. Pay attention to your dog as it walks and runs. Limping and tentative movements in general often point toward sensitive paws.

Common causes of paw sensitivity include walking on hot surfaces such as blacktop, walking or running too often on hard surfaces such as cement, unclipped hair between a paw’s pads that snags burs and other annoying and painful objects, and untrimmed nails.

A dog owner can do much to prevent paw sensitivity. Regularly trimming a dog’s toenails, testing blacktop with your hand on a hot day, and seeing that your dog exercises in a park or on a lawn rather than on a sidewalk are basic preventative measures. Routinely inspecting a dog’s paws will reveal if the hair has grown too long and alert you to burs or splinters.

If your dog suffers a small wound on his feet, the following care can be provided by the prepared owner:


Lay the dog  in a comfortable position that allows you to check the paw pads. Wash the paw pad with a warm wash cloth to get a better look at the size of the wound.

Put a 1/3 cup of warm water into a spray bottle along with two to three squirts of antibacterial soap. Shake up the bottle to dissolve the soap and spray the mixture on the paw to clean the wound. Rinse with warm water.

Dry the pad by gently pressing a hand towel against the paw. Don’t rub the paw because this will irritate the wound and can hurt your dog.

Apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment to the wound. Cover the wound with a bandage.  Be sure that the bandage is not to tight!  Swelling in the toes indicates too much pressure!

Change the bandage every two to three days because paw pads sweat and this moisture can slow down healing and cause infection. The wound should heal in three to four days.

A dog’s paw pads protect the joints and bones of its body by providing cushioning. Dogs use their paws all the time, putting them through all kinds of conditions. Over time, your dog’s paw pads can become injured, dry and cracked and must be treated. Dogs instinctively lick their paws when they hurt or itch but this behavior poses a threat because your dog is ingesting what is on their paws. Proper care of your dog’s paw pads can keep him healthy in more ways than one.


Check your dogs paw pads frequently for cuts, cracked skin or foreign objects that have become embedded in the skin. If the skin is cut, wash the paw gently with soap and water, dry thoroughly and dab on a little antibiotic cream such as Neosporin.

Moisturize  paw pads with a pet-safe moisturizer (do not use human lotions). Dryness and cracking are usually caused by overuse or walking on rough pavement but can also be a sign of an underlying problem such as allergies. If your dog is also licking his paws frequently and scratching his ears, suspect allergies and take him to the vet for treatment

Alternate walking locations so that your dog isn’t always on pavement. Take your dog walking in grassy areas or on dirt and try to avoid small gravel, as it can become stuck in your dog’s paw pads and cause pain and irritation. If the weather is particularly hot, don’t walk your dog on blacktop or cement because it can literally become hot enough to burn. Sand can also become too hot and can cause injuries because of its instability. If you take your dog to walk on a beach, walk him near the water’s edge, where the sand has a bit more stability and the water cools it down.

Have your dog’s nails trimmed regularly. Nails that are too long will make a clicking noise when your dog is walking and, if left untrimmed, can catch on fabric or cause gait problems. Nails that are left to grow too long also break off more easily and bleed because the vein inside the nail also grows longer without regular trimming. Get your dog used to nail trimming and paw handling early on, so that it’s easier for you or your groomer to maintain his paws and less stressful for your dog.

Wash your dog’s paws frequently, especially if he has been walking on salt-covered surfaces. If your dog is prone to allergies, washing his paws will prevent allergens from being ingested through licking and will keep them out of the house. In the winter, consider using dog boots to protect your dog’s paw pads from both the elements and salt. Your dog will probably be more open to wearing boots if you get him used to wearing them when he’s young.

Your dog can get pad burns easily–anything from walking on a hot pavement or freshly poured asphalt or by coming in contact with chemicals. Pad burns should be treated immediately to prevent further damage to the tissue. Here’s how to treat pad burns until you can get to the vet for further care.

Things You’ll Need

  • Cold water
  • Soap
  • Betadine
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Sock or gauze

If your dog’s paws get burned, immediately put his feet in cold water for at least 10 minutes. You can use a bathtub or a simple pan as long as the whole paw is submerged. If your dog refuses to keep his paw submerged, wet a washcloth and keep it pressed firmly against his paw for 10 minutes.

After the pad has soaked, gently wash the pad with soap and water or betadine. Your dog’s paw will be extra sensitive so be careful while doing this.

After you have thoroughly washed the pad, pat it dry with a towel. Do not rub the pad dry as this will only further irritate the skin.

Apply an antibiotic ointment such as neosporin to the pad. This will help it heal.

Cover the paw with a sock or gauze pads to prevent him from licking the burn.

Evaluate the pad burn. If it doesn’t look like it’s healing, take your dog to the vet.

This is my short treatise on dog paws and their care.  Thank you to the many professionals that helped me compile them!  That means you Doctor N!!!