Archive for the ‘Dog’ Category


Found as strays or turned in by owners, rescued by law enforcement or animal control officers, shelters are full to the brim with dogs. Big dogs, small dogs, older dogs and puppies of every imaginable breed or mix – they are there. According to most sources of statistics regarding shelter adoptions, 50 to 60% of all dogs that land in a shelter are euthanized. And as you might expect, smaller dogs and younger dogs or puppies are preferred and more likely to be adopted. But what about disabled, ill or special needs dogs?

Dogs that are blind or deaf, three-legged or in wheelchairs (yes, wheelchairs for dogs!), or diagnosed with chronic illness can be more than most families want to take on. Left in shelters or dog pounds, they can also become even more ill due to confinement or depression. The pound can be a tough place even for robust healthy dogs, despite the best care overburdened shelter staff and volunteers can offer.

That’s where special needs rescue organizations come in. There are a number of these rescue groups around the United States, working with volunteers coast to coast. Some groups specialize in one particular disability, such as Blind Dog Rescue, which obviously works with rescuing and rehoming blind dogs. Other groups are more general and will work with any number of illnesses or disabilities. One group specializes in hospice care for elderly and terminally ill dogs.

How Does it Work?
Anyone who has ever owned a dog knows that a sick dog is a sad story. Unfortunately one chapter in this tale is that of finances and veterinary bills. Diagnostics, treatments, medications, x-rays… all these services add up quickly and for many owners may even contribute to the dog being left at the shelter. More and more owner turn-ins cite inability to afford the pet as the reason for giving it up.

Many of the special needs rescue group link volunteer sponsors with foster or forever homes. People in a financial position to donate sponsor a dog or dogs, and are identified on the rescue organization’s website as the sponsor of the specific dog. People often sponsor in memory of a beloved pet who may have gone to the Rainbow Bridge or perhaps had the same ailment. These sponsors help defray the costs of removing animals from the shelter and placing them in volunteer homes.

Is This the Right Pet for Me?
For some pet owners, the notion of providing a comfortable and safe “final refuge” for an elderly or ill dog sounds perfect. For others it sounds perfectly awful! If your interest is piqued, how would you know whether or not you are the right match for such a dog?

• You need to be around. Do you work from home? Ok. Are you retired? Even better. Often these dogs don’t do well alone for long periods of time, and may need frequent bathroom breaks.
• No young kids in the house, and no other young and rambunctious pets in the home. A quieter, mellower household would be a better match.
• Messes, bodily fluids, and “clinical” care, such as learning how to provide certain treatments or administer medications don’t bother you. Some clean ups should be expected from time to time, even under the best of circumstances.
• Is everyone in your home (spouse, older kids, housemates) on board with the idea? It is a big commitment and responsibility, and may be a very emotional experience. It’s only fair to all involved that everyone in the household is aware and engaged.
• Infrastructure: is your home friendly to a frail or weak dog? Do you have lots of stairs or lots of clutter? Polished wood or tile floors? Do a walk through with your special needs dog in mind. If you are wincing and cringing by the time you’re finished, you have your answer!

All that said, providing love and care to an animal with special needs can be one of the most powerfully rewarding experiences a dog owner can have.


With winter coming in and temperatures dropping over much of the continent and beyond, electric heaters and wood burning stoves are turned on and the heat is raised. However easy it is to make your home cozy, you have to be sure that you are practicing good safety measures, not just for yourself and your family, but also for your dog’s sake.

Baseboard electric heaters are long, running along your baseboards. They are dangerous appliances if used incorrectly and around pets. They can cause injury and even death if not handled properly. However, it is easy to mitigate much of the chance of injury in your pet, so exercise proper caution and follow these tips and you’ll be able to snuggle up this winter.

The Dangers of Both Electric Heaters and Wood Burning Stoves Pose for Dogs
Many of the dangers of electric heaters for dogs are the same as the dangers for children. Electric heaters can get very warm on the outside and cause burns if a puppy nose gets too close or an inquisitive paw touches it. Older electric heaters can have exposed wires, which some dogs consider great chew toys – until the dog is electrocuted, taking your electric heater with them! Finally, although very rarely, a dog can become trapped in an electric heater, leading to burning, injury and even death –although, thankfully, this is extremely rare of course.

In the case of wood burning stoves, also known as Vermont stoves, part of what allows them to heat the entire house is that they are constructed entirely from heat insulating metal. Surface temperatures can reach in upwards of 300° F. Adult dogs generally sense the heat with their whiskers and know to avoid it, but a puppy isn’t as clued in to the world around him yet. Something this large and odd looking is just the sort of thing Jeffrey would love to sniff, touch and challenge to a wrestling match. The results, you can imagine are disastrous!

Mitigating the Dangers
There are several ways of making sure that your dog is safe this winter, no matter how inquisitive or even um, sweet but lacking brain cells he or she might be about the whole thing! First of all, make sure that whatever heater you are using, it is clean. In the case of baseboard heaters, it is important to ensure that filters are changed, and everything is ready to be used before the first cold day, not after. This way, your electric heater will not only run safer, but also more efficiently, saving you money on your utility bills.

Next, make sure that all of your access panels are closed and that there are no wires hanging out. Wires can prove irresistible and then very damaging or even fatal to dogs (and cats too), so by locking them up, you get rid of the temptation and the problem. This also helps your electric heater as well; exposed wires are more easily damaged by the elements.

Wood burning stoves should be checked annually. Your manual will explain what to look for to ensure it is running properly. It is important to clean the waste tray of fallen ashes regularly. This is just the sort of play toy whose contents Jeffrey would love to spray all over the house.

In the case of both baseboard electric heaters and Vermont stoves there are very easy ways to end Jeffrey’s curiosity before it starts.

On a day when it is warm and you don’t have your heat source turned on, bring Jeffrey to it, whichever one it is, and as with anything else you don’t want him to touching, train him not to go near it. As he approaches it, say firmly, “No!” When he backs off, give him a treat. If he keeps moving toward it, another firm but in control, “No!” will be necessary. You may have to do this a few times. As with anything you are training him to do or not do, repetition is the key. Eventually he will get it.

Having either an electric heater or a Vermont stove is an important way to survive a cold winter and your dog will be glad for the heat as well, especially when he can curl up next to the vents! But you have to keep him safe from the possibility of harm or else you could find that your dog will be damaged or could even be killed through your own negligence. It only takes some simple steps this winter and you and your dog can enjoy being warm after a day of romping in the snow without any fear of harm.


Everyone needs a hand now and again. And sometimes we could use a paw or a two. Yes, that’s right. We are not talking service animals suited to one person, but therapy and care dogs. The practice of using therapy dogs to comfort sick, wounded and otherwise incapacitated people began in World War II. A Yorkshire Terrier named Smoky was to become an unlikely accomplice to one Corporal William Wynne. She was purchased for $2.40 AUD ($2.32 USD), when he was stationed on New Guinea. Adjusting for inflation, the dog would have cost approximately $36.00 today. As you will learn, it turned out to be a wise investment for this young Corporal.

In addition to boosting morale and providing comfort and amusement to Wynne’s compatriots, she accompanied the Corporal on numerous missions. One such task had her stringing out telegraph cable in an exercise that would have otherwise put Wynne’s group in mortal danger. The ability to fit into smaller places than could he or his troops, she time and again proved herself invaluable.

Later on, when Wynne became ill with Yellow Fever and was hospitalized, a visiting Smoky quickly earned the love and adoration of the soldiers in Wynne’s wing of the hospital. Offering comfort to those who were wounded, severely disabled and depressed, she turned many of their spirits around. Indeed, if an animal can do this during wartime, imagine what she or he could do in a hospital.

And it is that which inspires us to this day, the therapy dog’s perseverance, intelligence and gentle demeanor. Therapy dogs are not bound to a single breed, but one thing that all of them have in common is their temperament. A therapy dog worth her coat must be patient, sweet mannered, confident, gentle and must maintain a mellow disposition in the face of all manner of distractions and goings-on.

It is very important that they enjoy the company of people. Everyone loves to pet and handle a therapy dog. Hospitals are some of the most depressing and dismal places one can have the misfortune to stay and a therapy dog helps to lift the veil, if however briefly and let a little ray of hope shine through.

There is an important distinction between service/assistance and therapy dogs. Service dogs directly assist their human owners in day-to-day activities, from getting around town to taking out the trash. They are legally protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Service dogs are allowed to go into any building or vehicle that their owner may. Conversely, therapy dogs do not enjoy such protections and may be refused access based on their status. Additionally, they work with many people in their work, not just one. Service animals tend to work with one person only and then after a certain age, are retired, after which they become pets. One thing that both types of dogs have in common besides the breeds commonly utilized is their rigorous and highly detailed training regimen. Both classes of dog must undergo general and highly specific training in order to be certified to do certain tasks.

One task at which therapy dogs excel hearkens back to the Terrier, Smoky. Therapy dogs of every hue and shape are a common sight in children’s hospitals and hospice wards for the elderly. Their loving, patient manner coupled with their playfulness brightens the lives of young and old alike, provided some much needed respite and enjoyment, to let them forget, if only for a moment, their pain and unhappiness. Therapy dogs truly are one of the greatest things; a masterful blending of fun and compassion which has the universal power to give hope where there was none, bring a smile to a face where before there was only sorrow and instill peace where before there was only chaos. Ironically, they have also been known to mediate between squabbling family members where nurses and doctors proved unsuccessful.

Put him or her in a Superhero costume and cape; they deserve nothing less.


Often confused with a black St. Bernard, which they are not, Newfoundlands, or Newfies, are extra large, massive behemoths of canines that are coincidently in the habit of saving lives on a regular basis. So, you say, a St. Bernard. Only if a St. Bernard has webbed feet and swims like Neptune himself. Newfies are insanely strong for a dog breed, able to pull over 2000 pounds (that’s a full ton), rescue grown men who fall overboard during storms, and break through feet of ice to grab a drowning child in hypothermia-inducing waters and never once puncture the skin with his great maw. Yes, these are impressive and amazing dogs, and they commit impressive and amazing acts because the instinct has been bred into them.

Newfies originated in Newfoundland, Canada, where they were used by fisherman to really be an extra pair of hands, or paws, and go where men could not. They would take out fishing nets and bring them back in, heavy with fish; they were the rescuer when someone fell overboard; they were the Clydesdale-like power that pulled huge sleds laden with mail or equipment; they were used to pull lumber and, during World War 1, they pulled supplies and munitions in blizzard conditions through Alaska and the Aleutians.

Their greatest exploits, however, are when they save the lives of drowning and shipwreck victims. There are many tales of their bravery and power, like the one that awarded a Newfie a medal: in 1919, a stalwart Newfoundland dog pulled a lifeboat brimming with 20 people to safety, by clamping his powerful jaws onto the lead line and paddling them to shore. An unnamed Newfie is credited for saving Napoleon Bonaparte’s life when he was knocked overboard from rough seas. Storm, hail, sleet, or rain, nothing stops this titanic fur ball from doing his job. And that whole ‘looks like a black St. Bernard thing’? Well, it’s actually the other way around. After an epidemic of distemper nearly obliterated the St. Bernard population in the Switzerland, the hospice monks sent away for Newfies, who resembled them, to rebuild the stock. The modern Labrador Retriever is also descended from the Newfie.

With an oily and thick double overcoat to keep him dry when he’s in water, the Newfoundland also has fully webbed feet, which help him displace large amounts of water when he swims. Males can weigh in at 130-160 pounds, and females at 100-120 pounds. They grow anywhere around 22-28 inches at the shoulder. Monster-sized bones offer him mass and weight, while his heavy musculature allows him to charge through rough tides and currents. A barrel-chest cradles the gigantic lung capacity allowing him to stay in water for extended periods of time, which he very much likes to do. Newfies sport loose jowls, which do cause him to slobber a lot, but they make sure he can easily breathe through the water when carrying something in his mouth, too. The Newfoundland dog does not doggy paddle as most other breeds; instead he uses a modified breast stroke, where his paws push out and down in a controlled and effortless manner.

Known Health Issues
Newfies are susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia, which are malformed hip and elbow joints or sockets that may eventually cause extreme arthritis and even lameness. They are also prone to cystinuria, an hereditary illness that causes calculi stone to form in the bladder, which can lead to blockage. Subvalvular aortic stenosis, another genetic disorder, is a rather common defect that affects the heart valves, and can force sudden death at a young age.

The Newfie is a gentle giant with a sweet disposition, very kind, patient, benevolent, and loyal. He is also a brave beast, exceptionally good with small children, and makes a fine watchdog. As all dogs, he needs to be socialized and trained young, but his personality is such that he is easy to train. They are slower than most dogs in movement due to their great size, but he isn’t lazy. In fact, he needs a good deal of exercise to keep his massive frame limber and well worked. Newfies are intelligent, generous, calm, and trustworthy. They shed copious amounts, however, and need to have their undercoat fully brushed out twice a year. The undercoat refuse is literally the size of the dog. Again, they slobber, and they need their human contact. They are a poor choice for an apartment, and their titanic size makes them unsuitable for many small houses, too. To be fair to the dog, one would need a large home, preferably with access to a swimming area, and a big back yard. Owners would also need to be prepared for lost of drool and grooming. Given these things, though, a Newfoundland will be an excellent, safe addition to the family and he’ll keep you safe, in return.


We always try and make sure our furry friends stay safe, whether or not they stay predominantly out of doors or not. For those who do live outside or who go in and out frequently, we have to be extra cautious – motorists, and unforeseen hazards can put an end to your gorgeous boy’s life but quick. The risk is increased if you live an area where wild animals are prevalent, such as coyotes. What can happen to Dante and how can you protect him?

In the 1800s, Louis Pasteur became famous for inoculating the first human patient against the rabies virus. (A contemporary, one Emile Roux actually came up with the vaccine). While the rabies virus has been all but eliminated in pets and wild animals within the United States, owing to strong vaccination programs and coordinated animal control action, there still does exist a chance that your boy could pick it up, the chances are slight, but they still exist. Rabies is slow to progress, yet virulent once it gets going, so if you hope to keep your dogs safe from getting it, you’ll have to act swiftly. Before we clear up the details on ‘how’ to safeguard your furry friend, let’s find out how the disease is transmitted and just what happens.

Rabies transmission almost always comes about through the bite of an infected animal, be they skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, opossums, and bats are the likeliest culprits. Outside of a host body, the virus can’t survive for very long, and typically only remains viable for 24 hours in the corpse of a former host. There are a series of symptoms that your dog may go through if he contracts it – not every animal goes through every phase. Given that the disease is slow progressing, it may be some little time before you notice a change in your pet’s behavior. A rule of thumb for incubation limits is this: three to eight weeks for dogs and two to six weeks for cats. (Human gestation of the virus is roughly the same length as for dogs). The phases of the disease are:

Prodromal phase
Lasting about two to three days in dogs, apprehension, nervousness and a desire for solitude are the norm, as well as a possible fever. Your dogs may even do a 180° turn on their personality – if they’re friendly, they may become shy or irritable. If they’re aggressive, they may become affectionate or docile. Many animals also lick the site of the wound in a rather obsessive manner.
Furious phase
After the prodromal phase, dogs (and cats both) are at risk for the furious phase. They become restless, angry and hypersensitive to sights and sounds. Viciousness is also commonplace, as are seizures (during which your pet may or may not die). Hallucinations are also one symptom that doctors believe occurs in this stage.
Paralytic phase
Assuming your boy survives the furious phase, two to four days after the first symptoms present, the paralytic stage is next. As rabies affects the central nervous system, the third phase targets nerves in the head, neck and face, causing excessive salvation or drooling. As the virus attacks the body, it also paralyzes the muscles, which govern the throat and neck. In addition to causing great thirst and intense pain when the pet attempts to swallow, hydrophobia is also common. This is usually the last phase, as the body shuts down; the dog will suffer respiratory failure and die a rather agonizing death.
Vaccinations are always the best policy when it comes to rabies. While there is no cure for pets and humans alike if it isn’t caught early, timely action when you even suspect an infection may save your boy’s life. Your vet will administer several shots in order to kill the fledgling virus. The difference in treatment options is this: Injections administered after an exposure are composed of both the vaccine itself and a single dose of rabies immunity antibodies. Conversely, vaccination prior to exposure only means three doses of vaccine and no immunity antibodies are necessary.

Now that we’ve discussed the harrowing trial that is rabies, let’s talk about how you can prevent Dante from getting it in the first place. If he is an outside dog, make sure that he has his vaccines annually, and that his enclosure is sturdy and well protected. Don’t let him roam around (or off) the property, and keep a sharp look out for any wild animals that he may come in contact with. If you see any, don’t try to handle them yourself, call animal control – it’s their job to deal with such things. Any animal you may see might not be infected, but they’re still wild, and still dangerous.


Doctor Jan Bellows.

Pets are nothing more than domesticated wild animals. Everyone knows that animals like dogs and cats make great pets, but these animals themselves once started out as a type of animal that was wild, aggressive, and sometimes dangerous. Yet someone decided to find, breed, and domesticate these animals and turn them into the loveable pets we have today.

It would make sense, then, that there must be other animals in the world that would also make great pets. One example that is quickly growing in popularity is that of sugar gliders.

What are Sugar Gliders?

Sugar gliders look like rodents, but are actually a type of marsupial. They have the ability to glide through the air like flying squirrels. These animals are quickly becoming great pets appreciated by men and women all over the country.

Benefits of Sugar Gliders as Pets
• Very Friendly
With the right amount of human interaction, sugar gliders are very friendly to humans. They bond extremely well and are not especially timid or aggressive around humans.
• Intelligent
Sugar gliders are surprisingly intelligent. They are not necessarily trainable (in the sense that you are unlikely to train them in a lot of tricks) but they have the ability to figure out things for themselves and CAN be trained with the right amount of patience.
• Small
Sugar gliders do not take up a lot of space in your home. This allows them to be fairly easy to manage, no matter where you live. They can also fit in your pocket, and are referred to as “pocket pets.”
• Active
Sugar gliders are very outgoing animals. They are curious and friendly. Because they are not considered aggressive, they can be fun to play around with and watch as they play and learn inside of your home.
• Long Life Spans
Sugar gliders tend to live until 10 years old or longer. They make great, long lasting pets.

Weaknesses of Sugar Gliders as Pets

Though sugar gliders have a lot of benefits, they also have some weaknesses. Some of their weaknesses as pets include:
• Nocturnal Animals
Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, so if you are expecting to take them out with you all day, you will be in for disappointment. Their internal clocks can differ dramatically, but in general you can expect your pet to wake up late at night and stay up until early morning.
• Need Attention
Sugar gliders REQUIRE at least 2 hours of attention and play every day. This is the primary reason sugar gliders are not right for everyone. Without attention sugar gliders become extremely depressed. Remember, sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, so it may be very difficult for you to show your sugar glider attention if you are not awake.
• Expensive
Sugar gliders are not prohibitively expensive, but they are certainly not cheap. What adds to the expense is that in order to ensure that your sugar glider does not get depressed due to lack of attention, it is recommended that you get two sugar gliders so that they can interact. This means that though you get two pets, you will also need to pay twice as much money.
• Picky Diet
Without the right diet, sugar gliders can easily get sick. It is vital that you give your pet proper care.
• Not Easily Potty Trainable
Sugar gliders may be intelligent animals, but they are difficult to potty train. Expect to be cleaning up after these animals a great deal.
• Expensive Vet Fees

Most veterinarians are not equipped to handle major sugar glider problems, as these exotic pets are new to the veterinary world.

Overall, sugar gliders make great pets, but only if you have the time necessary to ensure their health and happiness. They are affectionate and loving animals, but require very specific care in order to thrive.


Your dog cannot tell you when it’s sick. No matter how ill it feels or how much pain your dog is in, if your dog sees your smiling face looking down at it, its tail will wag and it will pant excitedly. Dogs will always appear happy, and are willing to ignore all of the pain simply to show you that they love you.

This type of unconditional love is great when you need a friend, but terrible when you are worried about your pet. How are you going to tell when your dog is sick if it is unable to share any feeling with you other than “I’m so happy you’re here!”?

One of the most common ways that dogs can worry their owners is when they are experiencing a large amount of diarrhea. It is not uncommon for a dog owner with an extremely house trained dog to wake up and find that their dog left wet stool all over the floor. When dogs get diarrhea, it is a sign that something was wrong, even more so when they go against their training and leave their sick on your floor. Unexplained diarrhea can be a scary thing, and it affects pets all around the globe.

Should You Be Concerned About Diarrhea from Your Pet?
Short Answer: No.
Long Answer: Many illnesses can cause diarrhea in your pet. Diarrhea is one of the early symptoms of almost every dog illness, and could be caused by anything from rabies to worms. However, diarrhea is also caused by anything that upsets your dog’s stomach. Consider all of the things that your dog licks and eats every day:
• Food that you dropped on the floor.
• Water from puddles from the previous night’s rain.
• Cat waste.
• Grass, leaves and other greenery.
• Rotten spill from a leaky refrigerator.
• Your hand after everything you have touched.
• The bottom of your shoes.

Your dog tastes and eats everything in its path. Dogs lick things they don’t understand, they eat things that look like food, and they chew on things that are decades old. Every day they get into the some of the most disgusting items on the planet, and they do this without worrying about their health or safety.
In addition, dogs have some of the most sensitive stomachs in the animal kingdom. A single piece of bread can cause your dog considerable stomach discomfort, and certain vegetables will cause its stomach to rattle as though it was food poisoning.

Simply put, while diarrhea is most certainly a possible symptom of some terrible canine diseases, it is also a sign that your dog licked or ate something that upset its stomach, and since almost everything in the world upsets a dog’s stomach, it is easily possible that there is nothing wrong.

If your dog has diarrhea, it is worth a little bit of concern. But your next step should be to simply watch what your pet eats and see if there are any other symptoms. If the diarrhea is still occurring over a long period of time, or your dog appears to have other problems such as a lack of energy or worrisome eye gunk, it may be a good idea to take your dog to a vet. If you simply wake up and your dog has diarrhea, however, it is a good idea to wait a day or so and watch what your dog eats and its behaviors. Chances are it was nothing more than an upset stomach, and that upset stomach could have been caused by almost anything.


One of the most common health problems that affect dog is known as “Hip Dysplasia.” Found in dozens of different breeds with different levels of commonality, hip dysplasia can cause your dogs a great deal of pain, due to poor positioning of the hips that is exacerbated over the course of your dog’s life. It is not uncommon for hip dysplasia to lead to such issues as paralysis, extreme discomfort, and immobility.

Finding Out if Your Dog Has Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia may be based on bone formation, but it gets worse over time due to various muscles around your dog’s body being too weak to keep the hip in place, causing it to be pushed into various other parts of the body. Over time, more muscle and tissue problems occur, and the hip dysplasia gets worse and worse.

It becomes very important, then, to catch hip dysplasia as early as possible. Though there is no surefire treatment, there are various ways that the vet can help reduce the effects of hip dysplasia in order to ensure that your dog is able to continue moving as usual, and reduce the long term effects of this painful health concern.

To catch hip dysplasia it is important you know the signs. Some of these signs include:

  • Uncomfortable Rest – Dogs usually rest comfortably, with their hips turned in order to easily keep their legs to the side. A dog with hip dysplasia may not be comfortable relaxing in this manner.
  • Reduced Activity Level – Dogs that do not want to participate in exercise or other fun doggy activities (or those that do but do not appear to be enjoying it) may have hip dysplasia that are making these activities too painful or difficult for them.
  • Standing/Jumping Problems – The most hip pressure is going to come from the back legs. If your dog is having any problems standing when forced on their hind legs (such as sounds that indicate extreme pain) or it chooses not to jump or go up or down stairs, hip dysplasia is a possibility.

One final way that can be tricky is if you see your dog running in an odd formation that looks more hop like than it does a healthy gait. Dogs may run in odd ways anyway, but if you see your dog appearing to hop and – when compared to others of the same breed – this hopping appears considerably different, then you may want to get your dog checked for hip dysplasia.

Hip Dysplasia is Treatable – So Catch it Fast

Modern medicine has continued to create new and effective ways to treat hip dysplasia, including various fake joints and better formations through surgery. It is also now known that hip dysplasia, in general, is fairly preventable by ensuring that your dog is fit (so that it does not have extra weight pushing on its hindquarters) and giving your dog foods that are effective for bone and joint health. The surgery to fix hip dysplasia can be expensive and painful, but prevention is free, easy, and may considerably reduce the risk of your dog experiencing hip dysplasia pain.

Hip Dysplasia affects millions of dogs across the nation, and is one of the primary genetic diseases found in most dog breeds. Though it may not be life threatening, it may still threaten your dog’s way of life, which is why prevention should be your first priority. Give your dog lots of exercise, watch for warning signs, and be sure you let your vet know if you notice anything that worries you.


By Dr. Jan Bellows

When you need to obedience or trick train your pet, finding a good dog trainer is a great way to make sure that you raise a well behaved dog. There are some fantastic dog trainers across the country that have a great deal of experience teaching dogs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments how to perform interesting behaviors and maintain good obedience to their owner. But to be a dog trainer, you do not necessarily need some type of advanced education – which means that two individuals with the same credentials can vary vastly in how qualified they are to be chosen as your dog trainer.

Most dog trainers these days recognize how to train canines correctly, as there is a wealth of information available about proper training methods. Dog training is one of the most understood sciences available in the world today. But there are still some dog trainers that are under-qualified and misinformed about how to dog train correctly, and these are the trainers you need to do your best to avoid. If you meet a dog trainer that supports any of the following, that is likely a dog trainer you would like to avoid:

  • Punishment Training – Any dog trainer that believes physical punishment is a successful way to train dogs is vastly misinformed and a trainer that you should avoid. It is a well researched facts that dog learn considerably better through positive reinforcement than they do from positive punishment, and a trainer that does not acknowledge this difference is not an effective trainer.
  • Trainer-led Training – Dog trainers are not there to take your dog from you and bring them back to you as a well behaved animal. On the contrary, the only effective way to dog train is if you, yourself, are the trainer, and the dog trainer’s purpose is to coach you on how to train your dog effectively. Dogs that learn solely from a trainer are still unlikely to take those behaviors home with you, making the entire training irrelevant.
  • Trainers that Believe in Pet Equality – It is healthier for you and your pet if you establish yourself as alpha in the pack. Any trainer that believes you should treat your dog like an equal member of the family is vastly misinformed. Dogs need a “place” in the pack – there is no such thing as equality in the dog world. A dog that is confused about its place in the pack will exhibit poor behaviors and possibly suffer from increased stress.

If you notice any of these three beliefs from your prospective trainer, you will want to avoid them. Dog behaviors are extremely well studied and understood. There are very few things that have not been researched about dog training and dog behavior effectiveness. As behavioral creatures, what works and what doesn’t work has been extremely well established, and a trainer that deviates from the norm is doing so recklessly, because when it comes to what works best with your pet, there is very little that is not known.

The best thing for you to do is look for references from other people that have had their pets trained. Dog trainers that have successfully trained your friend’s pets are likely provide the same level of efficacy with yours. However, if you do not know anyone that has a reputable dog trainer available that you can work with, use the above criteria to weed out the pool, and carefully monitor the way that your trainer suggests training methods to ensure that you are using someone that knows what they are doing.