Archive for the ‘Veterinary Considerations’ Category

Our 2013 Autumn Canine Tour has been over for two weeks now, and I am WAY behind in writing about it…There’s a lot going on  the GSA corporate campus, including a major move of the operation, so bear with me!

I want it known right up front that the business I’m about to write about has in no way compensated me for this story, and I’m writing about them only because I’ve rarely come across such a unique combination of talented people, forward thinking in dog activities, and a world-class facility!

I know dog care facilities with great People but less than adequate facilities.  I know of great facilities with people who should be flipping burgers elsewhere.  I know of good people with nice facilities that don’t involve themselves in the local dog community.  It’s just a business opportunity.  But the owner of Paws & Claws Boarding and Bath, Becky MacGregor,  has created something special in the north woods.  If this facility was located in a major city, it would quickly need to expand.  Quickly.

Owner, Becky MacGregor and Pal.

Owner, Becky MacGregor and Pal.

Located on 50 wooded acres in near the northern Michigan resort town of Harbor Springs, Paws &Claws ( is the contemporary culmination of a dream that started small, and finally grew into something special.  To me, the crown jewel of the facility is the huge 6000 sq ft Arena wing.  Custom made for Agility, Scentwork, IPO practices, or most other canine fun, it could also handle a good size crowd for seminars.  If any of the Trainers that spend a lot of time on the road teaching want a place to teach, and a wonderful vacation spot at the same time, you need to give Becky a call!  Once word gets out, I believe that Paws & Claws is going to be on a lot of radar screens .


The arena has a unique rubberized floor that is quite kind on the dogs feet, and comfortable for the owners as well.  The facility is heated quite nicely, owing to the family plumbing business.  Becky’s father was a major name in plumbing and heating in the area and he overbuilt the facility needs.  It even features geo-thermal energy, so the place is about as “green” as it can get.  Air Conditioning?  This is Northern blessed Michigan!  Open the large vertical door and let the prevailing winds off nearby Lake Michigan cool down the summer for you.

Outside suites.

Outside suites.

Plumbing continues to make Paws & Claws special.  The floors in the boarding suites are all heated, making any dogs stay pleasant and comfortable in even the coldest winter. Air Movement throughout the buildings was masterfully designed to keep everything fresh.  Every kennel owner should have a Master Plumber for a family member!!!  The Boarding Suites are also a jumping off point for something else special.  The People that work for Becky.

I have never walked into such a busy kennel that smelled so NICE.  Not just Clean, but pleasant.  Not like a clean KENNEL, which can reek of bleach, but like a pleasant home.  With a total of 26 suites, that means that the working staff is hard at work, cares about the dogs, and takes great pride in being there.  During our visit, which was completely unannounced,  everyone was proud for us to see their place of work.  Hats off to everyone that works there…You really help define what a Dog Daycare/Boarding facility SHOULD BE!!!

Becky also took great effort in designing and laying out Movement for the dogs from inside to outside.  Many facilities are forced to move dogs thru a maze of confusion, because of poor design.  Not Paws & Claws…Everything seems to work in a circular manner that makes congestion or risk of unhappy encounters with reactive dogs, a non-issue.  Outdoor arenas have real GROWING grass!  (I can’t even keep grass in my 30′ by 50′ backyard with two drivey German Shepherds.  Even the human element has well defined areas for work and break time, and it all flows together.  Becky and her staff have a good system of communication as well when it comes to the needs of each boarder, and other important information.  The walls are lined with whiteboards that are easily seen, and generally apply to the area where each hangs.  Info regarding medical/drug needs, or special feeding details are easy to see.  This takes the worry away from mistakes being made by poor communication.



The Grooming and Bathing suite is also quite nice, well-lit by natural light, and large enough to move about freely.  One very smart innovation was made here, using metal siding on the walls instead of wallboard.  Walls come clean very easily, and will continue to gleam pearly white for a long time to come, with minimal effort.

I have to mention a feature that I think is unique to Paws & Claws…A Dog Mass Transit shuttle to the facility from neighboring Harbor Springs.  From a partnering Pet Supply shop in town, called Pet Pantry, customers are able to drop off their furkids and they are then transported in comfort to the daycare facility!  A regular schedule is operated and the convenience is outstanding!  Not to mention a really great graphics job on the van!


Paws & Claws gets the coveted 5 Paws rating from German Shepherd Adventures!  The entire facility was well thought out from the very beginning, the employees are well-chosen and then trained, and I can’t say this enough, CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN and SPARKLING!!!  Yes, it’s located in a small town in Northern Michigan, and most of you will never get to visit, but I hope that many other operators of Dog Day Care/Boarding facilities can look at the website, and see the way this type of operation should be run!!!  Congratulations Becky and Staff!!!  GSA can hardly wait to visit again!!


No subject obsesses dog owners more than how to feed a proper diet to their dog.  Sadly, it’s a subject that causes as many fights and quarrels as training methods.  Facebook has several Raw feeding/BARF pages,(Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), as well as links to other groups and pages.  Some of these pages are quite friendly, and really do seek to help, and discuss the subject.  This one is my particular favorite.  And this is the online magazine that Erica Danow is behind.  I can’t find a more even keeled and informative website anywhere on this important subject

I really have enjoyed the pages that Erica  has set up on FB, as well as her Raw Instinct Magazine website…

Other sites, which I will not dignify with identification, have a “My way or the Highway” approach.  Perfect!!   Just what the Dog World needs…More reasons to fight and carry on…It’s tiresome and really quite off-putting.  But, we still have freedom of speech…at least for the moment.  I’m only going to express my disdain of these websites and pages by NOT MENTIONING their names.  On with the meat of the matter…(Raw meat, specifically, organ meat)

I did not start out as a Raw diet feeder.  And I’m still NOT doing it 100%  My reasons are  probably typical, (Assume whiney voice)…”It’s too much work!”, “It’s Expensive”, “I didn’t have time to visit the butcher…”, “I’m on the road so much…”(We do Search & Rescue work), “I need to figure out what else we can add to supplement…”    You’ve heard these and more yourself, maybe even said them yourself.  Truth be told, all of these things are true…But the more I switch over, the benefits to my dogs are so striking, that it all falls away like chaff.  Let me address these whiney excuses one at a time:

“It’s Too Much Work”-  Oh shut your pie-hole!  Raw meat, maybe a few pieces of sweet potato, (my dogs love them!) a dollop of plain yogurt occasionally, green beans…It doesn’t take any longer than dumping a bowl of toxic kibble into a bowl and then praying that your dog will eat it.  Another surprise I got was the enthusiasm which the furkids attack a Raw meal…Hesitation?  I don’t think so…As you practice and collect new ideas, it becomes simpler and more routine.

“It’s Expensive!”-  Lets see, in my case, two German Shepherds equals roughly two and a half large bags of “Premium” kibble per month.  That’s about $190.00 each month.  Then add in the expense of treating their itchy skin, hotspots, and nasty tartar build up in their teeth.  Add another $300.00 in Vet Bills.  Then, consider the long term medical effects of feeding overcooked, under nourishing kibble, and you can add another $5000.00 to $10,000.00 amortized over 10 years.  With a little creativity and learning, Raw feeding can be done quite nicely for around $200.00 per month.  But that’s me…Some spend more, some spend less. Hey, here’s a crazy idea…STOP Spending $8.00 on a Starbucks Cup-O-Sludge!!  Again, the savings from Vet bills can be substantial.  AND, Your dog will be much happier!

“I’m on the road so much!”   My personal stand by excuse.  Ever hear of a gadget called the Coleman Cooler?  Used by hillbillies with 4th grade educations everyday of the summer to keep beer cold while floating down a river on an inner-tube!  Surely you can figure out a way to use one in your Ford Expedition or Chevy Malibu.  (Maybe not in a Fiat, but why would you want a car smaller than the cooler and with less horsepower anyway?)  They even have these coolers that plug-in to your dash and make their own cold air!!

“I didn’t have time to visit my butcher…”  Oh my sweet, giddy-aunt… Get over yourself and schedule your life in a more adult manner!

“I need to figure out a varied meal plan to make it interesting for the dog…”  You know what?  You’re right.  But between the resources above, and the people who hang out there, and the top-notch writing at Raw Instinct, and the friendly group on Facebook’s “Raw Health”, you should have no problem coming up with something.  Or a bunch of somethings…Hop to it, Jack! (Or Jackie as the case may be)

"Sure it's Raw, but it's still civilized!"

“Sure it’s Raw, but it’s still civilized!”

Okay, I’ve allowed myself to blow off some irreverence in this post, and you’ll notice that I’m NOT giving specific advice on WHAT to feed, or when, or how.  Please, make these resources the place for solid information.  You’ll develop your own Raw Feeding program eventually, that works for you and your dog.  You’ll find people there that make mixes of their own, you’ll find those that really go back to nature in a big way.  For instance, twice a month my dogs get freshly killed chickens, (One per customer Thank You!) feathers, beaks, and feet included.  They love it, and their health displays it!  For the squeamish, there’s a lot of alternatives.  Pick what works!!beefliver

I want to Thank my friend Dharma GSD for first getting me on the ” Road  to Raw” (Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, 1945)   My dogs health has been all the better for it, and our Vet really hates us!

"I'd build a fire and cook this, but I've got NO thumbs!  RAW it is!!"

“I’d build a fire and cook this, but I’ve got NO thumbs! RAW it is!!”

Chances are very good that your first visit with a veterinarian and your new puppy will involve The Discussion.  That discussion involves, ” When shall we schedule spaying/neutering your dog?”   Very few vets will back off from the issue until you either schedule the procedure, or take a stand.  It’s ingrained in their medical school training/indoctrination.  You will have to make a decision.

It has been my observation that many dog-owners hesitate at first when asked about this operation.  Some express doubt.  ALL have questions.  What’s the scoop behind spaying/neutering?  What are the positives?  What are the negatives?  What’s True, and what’s blatheringly False from the politically correct?  I hope to provide some plain language council here, free of the long-winded and technical.  Hopefully I can arm you with the questions you need to answer to make a decision that benefits your dog, not someones opinion.

Up front,  I’ll tell you that while I am not a breeder, I am a very determined “Bloodline Preservationist.”  My long-range plans are to breed the dogs that I own and care for, and to provide  Limited and Selective Stud Work to outcrossed dogs that have passed a veritable minefield of approval in health, temperament, and quality.  The bloodline I have chosen, were carefully and thoughtfully developed by a professional breeder at Omorrow German Shepherds by the name of Rhonda Sellers.  My research has traced and found this pedigree to be something extraordinary, something to be preserved.  But this is not my primary reason for my stand on Spaying/Neutering.

Understand, I will never breed an inferior dog, or one that has nothing to offer the betterment of the breed.  Nor will I allow such a dog to be bred.  My feelings about spaying/neutering are not really applicable to the dogs of that sort.  But when a dog has something to add to the breed, it should be kept intact.

Let me address this issue from the viewpoint of a pet-owner that has a puppy, or has adopted a rescue dog.  How do you decide whether or not to Spay or Neuter?  Here are some positives and negatives to consider:

When talking to you about the Health impact of Spay/Neuter, Health Risks, are seldom brought up by Veterinarians.  These will be central to this post.  Note that I am not at this time addressing the “population control” aspects at this time.

There are no truly compelling reasons to neuter a male dog, save those given by activists, or those with monetary gain at risk.  The widely varied problems associated with Neutering actually exceed the benefits implied.  To be fair, the positives include: It virtually nullifies the risk of testicular cancer.  No testicles, no cancer, simple.  But what you’re not being told, is that the actual chances of testicular cancer in dogs is only about 1%.  (Yes, ONE PERCENT)

It may also reduce chances of some prostate disorders,perianal fistulas, and perhaps even diabetes.  But these are rare occurrences on rare ailments, with questionable studies used to fabricate something positive on the side of the Pro-Neuter lobby.

Conversely, some of the proven risks of Neutering are as follows:

Increased risks of Bone Cancer in large and medium size dogs.  This is a hormonal causative.  Bone cancer has very poor survival rates.

The risk of Hypothyroidism is Tripled in its possibility.  Many symptoms can be traced to this problem.

Prostate Cancer is given a  X 4 greater chance of developing.  Again due to hormonal obstruction or depletion.

Bone density and joint problems are exacerbated by neutering.

Adverse Reaction to certain vaccinations are also worsened by neutering.


As For Spaying in the female, the positives are greatly unbalanced when compared to the negatives.  Positives include:  Reduced risk of Mammary cancers if performed before 2.5 years of age.

It removes opportunity for uterine, cervical, and ovarian cancers, which only about 5% will ever suffer from in any case.

On the Negative Side:   Bone Cancer chances are nearly tripled.

Sarcomas of the heart, lungs, and spleen are greatly increased in chance and severity.

Obesity can become chronic and debilitating.

Recession of gender specific organs is also increased, such as in recessed vulva’s.  Vaginitis also becomes more common, as well as Vaginal dermatitis.

Here too, vaccination reactions can be become more frequent and pronounced.

It would seem that many risks are apparent for these surgical procedures.  Complications during the surgeries can also be fatal.  Anesthesia is rarely found to be a “Good” idea to even the healthiest dogs.  Reactions are common.  INflammatory complications can also lead to poor health, expensive, long-term medications, and bleeding.  However, in light of truth, Death from post-operative complications are very rare.


There are some very extensive studies published academically, and on the internet that reveal the risks.  On objective reading of them reveals no real reason medically, to have these performed on your dog.  Using a web-browser can reveal these studies under “Complications of Spay/Neutering of Canines”.  Read them for yourself, but have your dogs well-being in mind.


That title sounds angrier than I intend it to be, but I feel the need to discuss something that persists among my German Shepherd family and Friends…It’s dangerous for your dog, and serves no purpose to you.  What is it?

Stop worrying that your German Shepherd needs to gain weight and be the biggest canine on the block!!!!  Stop trying to find a dog-food that will pack on weight!!!!  Chances are GREAT that your 6 month old puppy is growing at a natural rate!!!!  Your Veterinarian is the best judge of your dogs  weight and growth.  (I know it’s fashionable in some circles to scoff at Veterinarians advice, but please don’t fall into that trend.  That’s another rant, totally.)

It feels great to shout that out to the world, but I wish that more people would listen to the advice.  I know that some won’t, but if I can help anyone to understand this I will be pleased.

This rant, and make no mistake, it is a rant, (Bordering dangerously on becoming an episode of pure Raving.)  has a greater purpose.  Stop making the German shepherd something he was never intended to be!  Von Stephanitz developed a working dog that needed to move well, and do so all day!  Bigger dogs begin to fall short of these traits!

When a Veterinarian looks at your German Shepherd during an examination, he or she expects to see a male  dog between 23 and 26 inches at the shoulder.  He or she also anticipates a standing weight of between 65 and 80 pounds.  (For the metric world that’s 60 cm to 65cm in height, and 30 to 40 kg in weight)  For Females 21 to 24 inches high (55cm to 60 cm) and 50 to 70 pounds weight (22 kg – 50 pounds)  Some dogs are bred to parents that may be taller in stature, by 2 or 3 inches.  A small deviation in weight is normal.  But breaking the 100 pound mark is unnecessary!!!

And then there is that foolish game called “My Dogs Bigger than your dog!”  I’m sure it happens in many of the large breeds as well, but many German Shepherd people are definitely guilty of it.  If you went to a grade school on the first day of a kindergarten class, and all the new parents were standing by comparing their children’s weight, we’d be horrified.

“Hey! There’s my son Brandon…he’s already at 88 pounds and he’s only 5!  His mother and I wanted a big boy, and we sure got him!”

 “Oh yeah?  Well there’s my Susie over there, and she’s over 100 pounds already!  She’s an eating machine!”

Yes, that’s what it sounds like when people get on Facebook or Twitter and start railing on about how “Big” their puppy is already!  The German shepherd should be judged on it’s athleticism, it’s stamina,  it’s lithe and strong frame wrapped in muscles like steel cables.  Not on what I call, “Fat-Assery”.   I’m coming on strong here I know.  But too many finely bred dogs are under-exercised, over-fed, and condemned to shortened lifespans because so many believe they can create a larger dog.  You dog will become whatever genetics has bequeathed to him or her.  Let that make your dog whatever it will be, and stop making size the end- all-be-all.  If you believe that size alone will be impressive, or a deterrent to bad people, you are wrong.  Most dogs that do protective work, or patrol work, are lean, strong, and agile.  “Fat-Assery” is the polar-opposite.  German shepherds are not Middle Linebackers.  They’re Defensive Ends and Wide-receivers.  Strong and fast.  For a short time, at about 18 months old, my GSD “Hans” was at 105 pounds.  I noticed that he was struggling thru practices and callouts.  I realized that it was my fault for believing that my dog needed to be large.  He wasn’t Unfit, but he needed to be exceptionally fit.  We took immediate action, and I now keep him at 85 pounds, which is truly “Rocky Balboa” fit for his height.  When my dog keeps going strong, and larger GSD’s are falling off the trail because they’re too heavy, he’s King of the World.

While I have lost the URL of the below information, I have retained the author’s name so that he can have  proper credit for the work.  I believe it was from the Purina website at one time, but that has been lost to me.  Read it please, and understand that this is for the good of your dog…

Effects of obesity in dogs – by Tom Osterkamp

Studies and experience have determined that the negative impacts of obesity on dogs include:

1. A compromised immune function

2. Abnormal glucose tolerance

3. Acute pancreatitis

4. Greater risk for anesthetic and surgical complications

5. Heat and exercise intolerance

6. Cardiovascular disease

7. Greater risk for osteoarthritis

8. Decreased median life span

Of particular interest is that by restricting caloric intake and maintaining a lean body condition we can increase median life span and prevent the manifestation of chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis. In overweight dogs, osteoarthritis changes appear earlier in life, are more severe, and require more medication compared with their restricted-fed siblings (Mlacnik et al., 2006). Since osteoarthritis is one of the primary reasons for retiring working dogs, these results indicate that it may be possible to extend the working life of our search dogs significantly (perhaps 1 to 2 years) by restricting caloric intake and by providing sufficient exercise to keep the dogs fit.

Take the time now to look at a chart I’m sure you’ve seen before.  These are of course, meant to indicate an Adult dog.  Please consult with your veterinary professional for sub-adult and puppies.

That’s the end of this ranting for now, please accept it as friendly advice and for the benefit of your four-legged buddy.  Do Your Best For Your Dog, And He’ll Always Give You His Best In Return!!!!

For crazy Dog-People (like myself), this is the “Holy Grail” of situations.  When we first take in a new puppy, or adopt an older dog, we want to take the dog everywhere we go.  We search out businesses and establishments that have “Dog Friendly” policies.  My two German Shepherds know Lowes and Home Depot so well, that I could send them in to purchase  any number of items without worry.  Not only do they know where things are, but the employee’s know the dogs well enough to answer their questions, should they have one.

This type of socialization is extremely important to your dog in his development of proper behavior.  It’s equally important to building the relationship between you and your four-legged friend.  Creating a successful, well-behaved, well-trained, and willing dog is a product of much more than Training.  It involves much more than the pocket-full of dog treats or the clicker you keep in your pocket.  Does your dog respond to you because he wants too, or because you have conditioned (That word comes right out of an interment camp)  him with science?   Herein lies the power of Living With Your Dog, making him a part of everything your Pack does.  Dogs are not only Social beings, they are Sophisticated Social Creatures.  There’s  enough  available evidence in canine psychology to convince me that dogs know when they are being Lead by a Leader, or included in the activities of their social group, or Pack.  They also know when they are being short-changed by the leader they trust to watch over them.

What does this entail for the Communicative Approach?  I’m glad you asked.

Some of what I’ll write here will raise the hackles of some dog owners.  That’s okay…But I know what I’ve observed myself, and tested it out on many dogs of my acquaintance.  Let me approach this from specific disciplines.  First and perhaps foremost, you want a trusted, loyal and obedient dog.  How does Living with your dog help you achieve this state of grace?

Imagine that it’s 6:30 AM.  You awaken, slap the alarm clock into submission, and crawl out of bed.  Where has the dog been all night?  Out in the garage?  In the basement in his crate?  Tied out on the deck?  Or snuggled warmly in his crate beside your bed?  Or do you find it necessary to wake the dog so that you can free your legs from under him?  Some people feel, erroneously, that allowing a dog on the bed leads to dominant behavior.  Mule-muffins.  (I’m more than willing to discuss dominance behavior and it’s source, but this isn’t whats going on here).  My dogs have always been given the option to sleep in their private crate beside our bed.  As puppies, the door was closed.  This lasted until about 8 months of age, when the door was then left open, offering the dog a choice.  My Pack sleeps beside our bed every night, in their crates, by their own choice.  It is where they feel safe, secure, and available.  I’m tuned into them, and they are tuned into us.  They are living with us…and the bond between us is strengthened.  Occasionally, our dogs will jump up onto the bed in the night, for a reassuring ear-scritch.  That’s okay by us…Children enter parents rooms every night  asking for a drink of water, or a hug.  How could you turn away a request for simple reassurance?  Do you refuse this gesture of affection?    Or, if it’s really cold, 90 pounds of German Shepherd can warm the coldest bed pretty fast.  Again, a symbiotic relationship is built by a simple act…

When I’ve attended writers conclaves or seminars, I have found that many writers in every genre find themselves accompanied by their faithful dog whenever they sit down and attack their latest project.  In my chosen guise as a Dog-Writer, my fur-kids have listened to me tap away at the computer for long periods, often giving me their meaningful critique of my work…I Live With My Dogs.  They are a part of my whole day.  Maybe you are fortunate enough to work in Dog-Friendly office where well-behaved dogs are welcome…Do you take advantage of the opportunity?  Are you apprehensive about the dogs behavior?  Please then, consult with a trainer that can help you make this possible!  It enriches both your life, and your dogs!!!

Okay, I realize that life is BUSY.  Many of you work long days, or nights, and can’t be at home as much as though of us in the profession.  What can you do to “Live With Your Dog” and build your communication?  Above all else, Walk your dog at least once a day for at least 30 minutes.  Get Up Early, and make it happen!!  The exercise will do both of you a world of good!  When you get home, maybe take another walk, and include a game of fetch!  When you can be with your dog, or allow him to be with you…Do It.  Allow  your dog to sit quietly near when you eat as a family.  Now before somebody jumps on this last statement, I’m telling you to let the dogs be NEAR.  Not all up in your grill begging!!!  TRAINING should eliminate such unwanted behavior.  What I’m suggesting is giving the dog the comfort of being in sight of his Pack while you eat.  Feed the dog at the same time that you and yours eat!  There’s nothing more SOCIAL that the whole pack eating together.  Set Boundaries, and manners for the dog in this and you’ll be amazed at the lower stress level of your dog…He wants to be with you…Teach him how he can do that successfully.

For those of you that may be blessed enough to spend more time with your dog, You too can improve “Living With Your Dog”.

I’d like to address those of you in Schutzhund, Protection Sports, Conformation Shows, Agility, Fly-ball or whatever sport I may be missing.  Understand, this doesn’t apply to everyone as a blanket indictment.  But I still see it with regularity.   Standard Operating Procedure at every event, and most practices, is, “One dog working at a time, and then back into the crate .”  Which is in the back of the Suburban in the parking lot.  I understand why this happens, as some of the dogs cannot be trusted to socialize with other dogs, let alone humans. Therein lies the problem…Are these dogs doomed to an uninvolved and unsocial life because of what they are trained to do???   I think this is difficult for some to accept.  “My SCHIII dog is highly trained to do his work, and keeping him away is part of keeping his Sharpness…Many Dog Shows are moving away from being “Bench Shows” where spectators can wander among the grooming tables, handlers, and owners.  Many of the dogs are simply not capable of being in the public, nor, for that matter, are the owners!  I believe this takes something important away from the dog, the owners, the visitors, the show, and the future of Showing dogs.  If the dogs were “Lived With”, this problem would vanish.

To the credit of the Agility Dog competitions , I have found that a huge majority of those involved are walking their dogs among the crowd between runs.  Yes, each dog is given those a rest period between runs, but most are well-socialized, friendly, and approachable.  That may be the big reason why Agility is growing in popularity.  People, AND dogs are living the experience together.

I want to make mention of a special family of Canine Professionals that exemplify the idea of really living with their dogs, and simultaneously producing champions in protection sports and schutzhund.  To start, check this link to “Controlled Chaos dog training”.

This is the online home of Kevin and Cheryl Goede.  Kevin is a Master Trainer from the famous Tom Rose School, and his wife and partner Cheryl is the force behind the “German Shepherd Dog Community” on Facebook, easily the largest such group there.  We had intended a more in depth interview here with them for this post, but time has been fleeting.  Look for that interview in the future.  My reason for bringing them into this, is that, along with their very pretty little daughters, they raise and train German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois.  If you take time to examine their web-site and Facebook you will see photo after photo of the whole family playing, training, and living closely with their dogs.  These same dogs are currently distinguishing themselves throughout the Protection Sports community.  They are fulfilling their dogs lives completely, and I recommend their methods with unbridled enthusiasm.  (By the way, I have NO vested financial interest in the Goedes at all, nor am a close personal friend.  I just recognize the genius in what they do)  They have also started a “Skype” based training method, for some canine training if you are not close to St. Louis, MO. that looks like it has serious potential.  Check the Goedes out and you will see demonstrated what I mean by “Living with”  your dog. 

These dogs are Family Members!!! (Photo from Facebook page of Cheryl Goede)

These dogs are Family Members!!! (Photo from Facebook page of Cheryl Goede)

© Robert W. Vaughan and German Shepherd Adventures {2010 to Current} Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert W. Vaughan and German Shepherd Adventures  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


“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!!!!