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Veterans Use Dogs for Therapy, Service Dogs Helping Veterans

Veterans With PTSD Finding New Purpose in Life With Service Dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Helen Cole 

Many soldiers who make it home from war bring the war home with them. Each day in the United States, 22 veterans take their own lives, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) lead many veterans into a lonely battle with themselves, facing flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, hypersensitivity, anger, sleeplessness and depression.

This debilitating disorder affects 30 percent of post-9/11 veterans, the VA reports. And despite the alarming effects of PTSD, the American Psychological Association reports that more than two-thirds of these veterans never seek treatment. The negative stigma associated with mental illness makes soldiers hesitant to seek help for fear of appearing weak or vulnerable.

Nonprofit organizations like War Dogs Making It Home and Soldier’s Best Friend provide a cutting-edge approach to help these men and women. These organizations pair homeless dogs facing euthanasia with suffering soldiers seeking reasons to live in a beautiful, dual effort to save lives.

How Service Dogs Benefit Veterans

About 2.7 million healthy, adoptable pets are put down in this country each year, the Humane Society of the United States reports. Rather than waiting for a service dog to become available for home placement, the struggling veterans in these programs actively take part in the rescue and training of their dog. In most situations, the dogs are pre-trained to handle PTSD symptoms and know how to interrupt attacks of panic, stress and hyper-vigilance.

Weekly training continues once the vets are paired with their dogs. Oftentimes, these courses take place in a group setting among other soldiers dealing with PTSD, providing a safe and welcoming environment.

Why Service Dog Training Works

Unlike traditional service dog programs, organizations that pair shelter dogs with veterans are often offered at little to no cost, creating a financially approachable means of therapy. These programs offer an alternative to standard therapy and medication, and veterans tend to look at the process as a means of helping animals in need rather than seeking help for themselves—thus decreasing the fear of seeming week or vulnerable. Veterans feel a sense of accomplishment, knowing they’ve played an active role in saving a life.

How You Can Help

Spouses and family members are essential to a successful recovery. Follow these tips to increase the success of a service dog program.

  • Get involved. Show your support by taking part in the training process. Help your spouse by staying up to date with the training methods being used. As an added incentive, military spouses often qualify for free tuition at Animal Behavior College.
  • Keep your pet healthy. Your new service dog is not just a pet, it’s an integral part of your spouse’s healing process. Keep your new family member healthy by ensuring proper nutrition. Sites like Dog Food Advisor keep you up-to-date on food recalls, reviews and quality ratings.
  • Make your home pet-friendly. Don’t let the added responsibility of a service animal infringe on your independence. Make this a positive experience for you, your pet and your soldier by adding a pet door for easy access to the outdoors. Electronic dog doors offered by PetSafe are equipped with self-opening technology activated through a smart-key attached to your pet’s collar. Keep unwanted critters out while giving your service dog the freedom to come and go independently.Another great resource for enjoyable pet products can be found here. You may also find that hiring a certified dog trainer can benefit the quality of your pet’s home life.Other Resources:
    Train A Dog Save A Warrior (TADSAW)
    Big Paws Canine Foundation
    Forever Warriors

CEP Discounts at the Trade Shows are available from Animal Behavior College

Continuing Education Courses - Animal Behavior College

*CEPs must be purchased by attendees at the trade shows to be eligible for a discount.

 

At Animal Behavior College it is important to us to attend trade shows throughout the U.S. for many different reasons. Each show has specific industry experts and professionals that we love to connect with. Many times trade shows provide a great opportunity to build relations with new Mentor Trainers and be introduced to program instructional techniques that we can incorporate into the ever growing curriculum’s for the ABC Certifications. Trade shows are also a wonderful chance for industry career professionals to purchase Continuing Education Programs at a wonderful discount, up to 50% off.

After completing your certification consider one of the 6 great, Continuing Education courses offered by Animal Behavior College:

 

Continuing Education Courses offered by Animal Behavior College

Training Shelter Dogs

This Continuing Education Program (CEP) will teach you how to approach shelters and their staff, appropriately and professionally, to assist in identifying dogs with the potential to be adopted. You will be able to consult and advise them on defensive handling and safety, understanding shelter stress points and assessing canine behavior. This CEP will also teach you to demonstrate building drive in shelter dogs, pet health and consideration, labeling training goals and challenges, circumventing behavioral issues, training dogs for a family setting. You will be given the skills to:

  • Identify shy or fearful conditions
  • How to properly work with aggressive dogs
  • Charting and keeping records
  • Facilitating an assisting in adoptions
  • Act with ethical and professional conduct

This course will provide certified trainers with the knowledge and skills needed to start a shelter training program. You will have the ability to rate dogs’ social skills, how they handle tolerance, barrier aggression, food aggression, and resource guarded thresholds. These skills combined with the Assess a Pet & ASPCA Meet Your Match Safer tools, will enable you the trainer to become an ASPCA Tester for Shelters throughout the U.S.

The Art of Selling Private Lessons

Private in-home lessons are quickly becoming the most popular among professional trainers in the dog training industry. In this Continuing Education course you will learn how to out-sell your competition and develop successful training lessons every time. Your knowledge of how to obtain clientele and conduct efficient private lesson will assist you in maximizing your potential income as a dog trainer. This course will cover imperative topics such as:

  • Sales techniques and tips
  • Understanding communication styles
  • Diverse types of lesson plans and training packages
  • Developing your class routine
  • How to teach off-leash behaviors
  • Client compliance

The Training Shelter Dogs CEP will maximize your effectiveness as a professional certified dog trainer. Training Shelter Dogs also includes advanced tips for marketing yourself and your business locally in your community. This Continuing Education Program will provide you with an increased proficiency and aptitude in administering effective private lessons within a client’s home, at a local park or at your own facility.

Pet Sitting & Dog Walking

The Pet Sitting & Dog Walking CEP discusses how to properly work with and care for pets with fur, feathers, scales, and more. Topics range from identifying and understanding body language, canine, feline and avian behavior, basic nutrition an hygiene, creating mental and physical stimulation, building relationships with animals and the people who love them, personal and home owner safety, maintaining consistent scheduling, walking dogs calmly on a leash, building your clientele, sample client forms, insurance and more! Pet Sitting & Dog Walking are sought after skills that provide differentiation to any established pet trainer’s business.

Cat Management & Training

Many households have both a cat and a dog or multiples of them. Since cats out number dogs throughout the United States, learning how to manage and correct cat behaviors can be a profitable venture for pet training professionals. This course will teach you the proper socialization techniques for developing a healthy feline-to-trainer relationships, as well as feline-to-feline and feline-to-canine interactions. You will learn how to read and interpret feline body language and vocalizations. This course also teaches how to teach basic behavior training cues (i.e. sit, stay, come) and how to address problem cat behaviors like: scratching, spraying, and howling. This course will provide the trainer with the ability to teach cats “fun” behaviors, such as roll over, tightrope walk, hoop jumping, and more. having the skills to train cats is a big advantage for dog trainers and veterinarians. By completing this course you will gain invaluable knowledge necessary to help your client pet owners solve unruly cat behaviors and issues.

Pet Nutrition and Diet

This Continuing Education Program discusses basic nutrition, the regulations governing commercial pet foods, and the nutritional needs for both cats and dogs. In this course you will be taught to read pet food labels including the importance of:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Proteins
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Protective nutrients

You will also learn about the different types of diets (i.e. dry food, canned food, raw foods, and supplements) and how food can play a huge role in a pet’s behavior. After the competition of this CEP you will know how to educate your clients on providing their animals with the best nutrition based decisions for their pet’s age, weight, and health condition.

Pet Massage

The Pet Massage CEP gives pet groomers, dog trainers and veterinary staff the skills to calm each pet they interact with. The ability to soothe and calm dogs and cats through touch improves the human-animal relationship and promotes trust bonding. Pet groomers have the benefit of having a calm animal on their grooming table which allows them to move swiftly through the process of grooming without the problems that heavy-handed groomers experience. Veterinary assistants are able to minimize discomfort and pain, while helping pets recover from injuries and soothe the aches of the elderly. Dog trainers will have the ability to create a more positive training experience, because they will have an enhanced knowledge of canine anatomy and acute awareness of touch points. Pet massage is a growing occupation. The completion of this Continuing Education Program can also open the door to operating a profitable pet massage business. This CEP will cover information on:

  • General anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Principals and concepts of a pet massage
  • Setting up your work space
  • Preparing to administer a pet massage
  • How to develop a pet massage business

The Pet Massage CEP course also includes step-by-step instructions that will guide you through the details of a pet massage session, (for many animals of different species and size).

ABC enjoys meeting with our students, graduates and mentors at the trade shows. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet, greet, and obtain feedback on the programs from our students and Mentor Trainers.  In February 2014, Animal Behavior College will be attending the Western Veterinary Conference and the Groom & Kennel Expo.

*All CEP programs will be offered at a 50% discount to those attendees who purchase a Continuing Education Program at the shows.

10 Dog Breed Myths – Choose the Right Dog Breed

10 Dog Breed Myths

Revealing the truth behind these common misconceptions.

By Audrey Pavia


Urban legend isn’t limited only to stories about Bigfoot and Pop Rocks. A number of dog breeds have also fallen victim to rumors that have spread like wildfire through the years. Here’s a look at 10 myths about dog breeds and the truth behind the rumors.


1 .Myth: Irish Setters Are Dumb.

It’s hard to know how this rumor started. It could be because of the Irish Setter’s puppyish, clown-like nature. Not serious and stoic like some sporting breeds, the Irish Setter likes to goof around. The truth is that Irish Setters are intelligent dogs bred to work closely with hunters out in the field.


2. Myth: Greyhounds Need a Lot of Exercise.

Not surprisingly, people think that because Greyhounds are famous for their talents on the racetrack, they need a lot of exercise. The truth is that Greyhounds are actually couch potatoes who prefer to cuddle up on the sofa than run around digging up the backyard. Although they love long walks, Greyhounds actually make great house dogs.


3. Myth: Rottweilers Are Vicious.

Although Rottweilers were bred to be guard dogs, they are also very trainable and affectionate. They are not mean by nature, as some people believe, and like any dog, make wonderful companions if they are properly trained and socialized. Although a Rottweiler will give off a ferocious bark when protecting his territory, a well-socialized Rottweiler will greet strangers with a wagging tail once his owner lets him know guests are welcome.


4. Myth: Pugs Are Lazy.

Some people are under the impression that Pugs just want to lay around the house all day. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Although by no means hyper, Pugs are active and happy members of the family, and are often underfoot, looking for the next adventure. Even though they aren’t bred for jogging alongside their human companions, they still enjoy running around the yard chasing a ball or another dog.


5. Myth: Pit Bulls Can Lock Their Jaws.

Pit Bulls suffer from very bad press, and one of the stories often repeated by those who don’t know better is that these dogs can lock on to a human or other dog during a fight. In truth, Pit Bulls have the same mechanics in their jaws as other dog breeds.


6. Myth: Long-haired Breeds Need to be Shaved in the Summertime.

Although dogs such as Siberian Huskies, Chow Chows and American Eskimos might look uncomfortable in the summertime with their long coats, nature has provided them with fur that allows the heat to escape from their bodies when the weather is warm.


7. Myth: Small Breed Dogs Live Longer than Large Breed Dogs.

As a general rule, this is actually true: Smaller breeds tend to live longer than larger breeds. While a Saint Bernard might only make it to 7 years, a Chihuahua can live to be 14 or more.


8. Myth: Shetland Sheepdogs Are Miniature Collies.

Although Shelties might look like small Collies, they are actually a completely separate breed. The American Kennel Club recognizes the Sheltie and the Collie as two distinctly different dogs, both with inborn instincts to herd livestock.


9. Myth: Jack Russell Terriers Are Hyperactive.

Jack Russell Terriers are busy dogs with a lot of energy, but they aren’t hyperactive. While they do need lots of exercise, more than anything, Jack Russells need something to occupy their minds. Interactive toys and playtime with their human companions usually fit the bill.


10. Myth: Labrador Retrievers Have Webbed Feet.

As odd as this may sound, it’s actually true; Labs do have webs between their toes. This feature was bred into the Lab to help him swim, as the breed was originally created to retriever downed waterfowl. Labs can also use their tails as rudders when they are swimming.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

 

For the Love of Cats – Valentine’s Day Gifts for Cats

For the Love of Cats

Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your favorite feline companion(s).

By Sandy Robins


There’s no question that our pets get to celebrate the holidays throughout the year, too. However, the next one up on the calendar, Valentine’s Day, is actually a difficult one for cats to celebrate by copycatting tradition people gifts because felines neither appreciate red roses nor chocolate, which is a big toxic no-no.

So what to do?

Cats are not that easy to shop for on Valentine’s Day in terms of themed merchandise. That said, you simply can’t go wrong with anything catnip, such as a plush mouse that can be filled and refreshed with dried catnip or a fresh catnip plant.

Kitty Cat Garden

Live plants should be placed in a bright position such as on the kitchen counter. Cats love to nibble on greens and a planter with different types of seeds—such as Pioneer Pet’s KittyGarden—makes a great gift, especially in multi-cat households. The wooden planter has four separate sections for 100 percent organic oats, wheat, rye and barley seeds. They begin sprouting in four to six days. And if you keep harvesting fresh greens for your cat, it can yield quite a crop.

A small, sealed aquarium of exotic fish or even a single betta fish, as long as it’s in a sealed, sturdy bowl, makes a nice decorative feature in a room and will provide endless hours of feline entertainment.

Super Cat Paper

Cats love crumpled paper and paper bags. So the feline paper items from Supercat—available in pet specialty stores and online—make great gifts for cats. Not only do they enjoy the sounds of the crinkly paper, but the products are infused with catnip to increase their enthusiasm!

Nothing says love quite like treats. This is a time to splurge and head for the pet store and purchase a variety of different flavors. However, it’s really important to know whether your cat likes her treats soft and chewy or crisp and crunchy. Some cats really enjoy treats that are crunchy on the outside with a soft center.

For cat lovers and pet parents, a nice coffee mug is always a welcome gift. If you simply Google “cat + coffee mug” a slew of fun designs will pop up. Even Grumpy Cat has her own mug, channeling Garfield and protesting that she hates Mondays …

The website Cafepress.com has a slew of fun cat-themed merchandise, including magnets, aprons, jewelry,, mouse pads and iPad covers. You name it there’s a variety of slogan and paw prints on everything imaginable. The craft site Etsy.com is another great place to explore.

For The Love of Cats

I can’t let this Valentine’s Day opportunity slip by without mentioning my cat book, which is aptly named “For The Love of Cats.” It’s a coffee-table collectible with beautiful illustrations by the talented Mark Anderson. The book is an alphabetical collection of fun rhymes and interesting feline factoids that cover everything from why the ancient Egyptians loved cats to the many “features” cat’s whiskers have. It’s available at www.SandyRobinsOnLine.Com.

While gifts are fun, there is no substitute for spending quality time with your favorite feline (or canine) and dispensing lots of extra hugs and kisses on Valentine’s Day. With love in the air, this is undoubtedly the best way to show your feelings to your pets.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

 

Why Do People Continue To Support Breeding?

I was recently reading an article on Dogster.com that spoke about tail docking and ear cropping. This article posses the question, is it cruel to crop ears and dock tails of animals?

As I read through the article there were some valid points made as to why it is cruel, and also why people shouldn’t allow these things to happen. More specifically the article touches on the fact that many breeders fear they will sell less of their dogs, if not adhering to the common practices and traits of the dog breed that they sell.

What is wrong with this picture?

Is it ignorant of people to consider tail docking a cruel act, when in fact the breeders are creating dogs that are not needed, as millions get euthanized for the lack of space in shelters? 30% of dogs in shelters are pure breeds.

I personally think a bigger concern than docking tails, should be…

Why do breeders continue breeding dogs, when there are so many who are killed everyday?

In this article the author has cited information based on opinion from a so called expert breeder, who is the second generation in breeding. After thirty years in the dog breeding business, one would think it is time to stop breeding animals and consider alternative means to making a living or livelihood.

This nation, and this industry, cannot continue to bare more dogs being bred for the vanity of “potential buyers.” If breeding continues, then so will euthanization of so many unwanted pets. We as a people who love animals, especially dogs, cannot expect to see the epidemic of animals being put down daily to ever reach a slow or progressive movement in the right direction as long as breeders continue breeding and ignorant people continue buying dogs from breeders.

Why do breeders continue breeding dogs?

#Adoptdontbuy – Please Adopt Your Pets, Don’t Buy Them. =)

http://www.bestfriends.org
http://www.unwantedNYCpets.org
http://kcpetproject.org/

Best Friends Forever Pet Services Awarded NAPPS 2014 Business of the Year

Forever Pet Services

By Rebecca K. O’Connor

Awarded NAPPS 2014
Business of the Year

Heather Branch moved from the East Coast to California to chase her acting dreams. She soon became a familiar voice in Los Angeles. For six years she worked as a traffic reporter, delivering early morning and late afternoon radio reports on the state of the rush time commute. Then she realized that she wanted something different.

It was a hectic life, and although her early dreams had been focused on the acting industry, she found herself asking what really made her happy. She says, “When I came home from work every day, my dog Izzy was so excited to see me. I thought I wanted more of this in my life.” So she enrolled at Animal Behavior College to become certified as a dog obedience trainer and as a vet assistant. She quickly became certain this was the right course for her life.

Heather mentored with a dog trainer and interned at a vet office, but she was mainly interested in pet sitting. A pet sitter she found through NAPPS for her own animals was absolutely wonderful and Heather wanted to emulate her. Worried about stepping on toes, she called Debra Turk of All 4 Your Paws and asked about the business. Debra offered to let Heather work for her to get her feet wet and see if it was the right fit for her. Heather says, “She had been pet sitting for ten years and was wonderful. Having her teach me was amazing!”

The Beginnings of Best Friends Forever

There was no doubt that Heather loved the work and she knew the right thing for her was to start her own business. After two years of working for All 4 Your Paws, Debra suggested that Heather buy her business and they merge. This would allow Debra to focus on some other things in her life while still caring for some longtime clients. Heather jumped at the chance.

In January 2011, Heather set up her own LLC for Best Friends Forever Pet Services focusing on the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. It was a gradual year-long process to transition the company. At first the change was minimal, with Heather focusing on the business end and very little changing for clients.

After the transition was complete, Best Friends Forever had a grand opening party to rebrand the business. She rented a room at the local animal shelter and had a raffle to benefit the shelter. It was also a celebration. There is no doubt the merging was a success. The business grew 130% between 2011 and 2013.

Creating Success

Heather feels her success is due to that fact that she laid the foundation for her work. Rather than jumping fully in, she took the time to learn. She spent two years learning with Debra as well as putting in the work for her college certifications and for NAPPS certifications. She felt it was important to understand as much as possible about all the aspects of the job. Even though some of her schooling may not be exactly what she offers as a pet sitter, all of the information makes her a better sitter. For example, “I knew I wasn’t going to be training dogs, but I wanted to know what to do,” she explains.

She also feels that her success has a tremendous amount to do with her support system. “I knew I couldn’t do it alone and I didn’t want to do it alone,” says Heather. Having Debra made it all possible, but she has other help as well. Her husband, Scott Burt, is co-owner of Best Friends Forever while also working as an airborne traffic reporter. It isn’t unusual for Heather to hear the rush hour run down from her husband on the radio, but having a full-time job doesn’t get him out of helping. He loves pet sitting as well and often helps. “Sometimes we do jobs together, and that’s our date night,” Heather says, laughing.

Best Friends Forever has other staff as well, though, and Heather says that she is always on the lookout for potential staff, which has made building a team much easier. “The largest challenge is finding good reliable help,” says Heather. “The clients are resistant to meeting new people. They do not want to have to deal with a revolving door.”

One of Heather’s staff members was a fellow classmate she tracked down who was working as a dog trainer for Petco. After talking her into having lunch, Heather was able to convince her to work with her company as it grew. A second member of her staff is a client who became a friend, and when Heather saw potential in her as a pet sitter, she started working for Heather. Heather even has a member of her staff who was a fellow traffic reporter. When she heard Heather was getting into the pet sitting business, she asked if she and her husband could work with Heather part-time, and that has worked out really well. “Everything has gone slowly, but carefully and with observations,” says Heather. “I’m really happy to be providing jobs. We are always looking.”

Defining Your Goals

Best Friends Forever has priorities of “integrity, a spirit of service, cleanliness, continuing education, and charity.” These priorities, in addition to the business’s mission statement, help Heather stay on track. “If you are spiraling out of control you can look at your mission statement and get back to the basics,” says Heather. “If you have it in front of you and can look at it, it puts you back to why you are doing this in the first place and you can figure out where to go from there.”

NAPPS is an important component of meeting Best Friends Forever’s priorities as well. Heather says, “To me NAPPS equaled quality.” She signed up for NAPPS as soon as she started her business and utilized NAPPS resources immediately. “I learned so much even in the first tele-mentoring conference,” says Heather. “They are a must. Using NAPPS formatted paperwork and adjusting it to my needs has been incredibly helpful as well.”

Heather has also found chatting with peers incredibly helpful, whether on NAPPS Chat or in person. “You learn so much just from people chatting,” she says. “Even at the conference, I learned about dog running and lock boxes. Learning about new things coming up is important.”

Advice for New Pet Sitters

Even though Heather got into the business slowly and carefully, there are still some things she would do differently if she did it over again. “I would look into the pet sitting scheduling software. I’m still working those kinks out,” she says. “I would have started with Quickbooks as well. Now I really see the value of it.” Doing scheduling and monthly statements by hand can be incredibly time consuming and she can still find herself up until midnight working on paperwork.

From what she has learned so far, she advises those who are just getting started to lay the foundation and take their time. “Have all the paperwork ready before you open your doors,” she says. “And of course, NAPPS will help you with the paperwork and much more.” She also recommends being licensed, bonded, and insured. “Don’t do pet sitting at any price without insurance,” she says. “Make sure the insurance covers all animals. If you start taking money, you have to be insured.”

Looking at the Future

Right now Best Friends Forever has primarily suburban and city clients who often travel for work. The business caters to the upscale community in the hills as well. Clients include doctors, lawyers and a mix of other professionals. The majority of the services requested are daily dog walks, but Best Friends Forever also provides a lot of overnight sits.

Most of Heather’s clients have dogs and cats, but there are a few unusual city animals in the mix as well. “We’ve even cared for chickens,” says Heather, noting that letting them out in the morning is easy, but putting them back in at night is a little more challenging. “I have video of me herding chickens. It’s pretty funny,” she says.

Her plans are for the business to remain the same at its core, but to keep growing. However, she admits that she and Scott need to take a harder look at their work/life balance. “We need to evolve into having more of a personal life,” she says. “That is a goal of mine in the next year and that will happen by finding more good reliable help.”

For now, though, Heather couldn’t be happier to have moved out of the entertainment business and into the pet sitting business. “I know I’m doing something good because of the love I get from the animals every day. Nothing beats that,” she says. “They don’t care if you’re wearing business attire or makeup. They are just happy to see you.”

Choosing the Right Breed of Dog for Your Family

This article was written by Steven Appelbaum and featured in the Professional Pet Sitter – Winter Publication 2013-2014 – Published by NAPPS.

Animal Behavior College Founder/CEO Steve Appelbaum.

Animal Behavior College Founder/CEO Steve Appelbaum.

Choosing the Right Breed of Dog for Your Family

The topic of which breeds of dogs are the best breeds is always guaranteed
to stir up healthy debate. Why? Most people have breed preferences. As
a dog trainer for more than 30 years, I can say without reservation that
it is important to remember that each dog is an individual, regardless of
its breed. I have seen some breeds not normally considered suitable for
small children act as perfect pets and companions, while others that are
very commonly considered great choices for kids were absolutely not okay
around them. I do not say this to cause confusion, but to educate all readers
about the necessity of taking a few other precautions when bringing a dog
into a family with small children.

Whenever possible, you should observe the puppy’s mother and father. Are they friendly and sociable around kids? Granted, temperament is also influenced by environment, but at least some of a puppy’s disposition is inherited. This is why it pays to see how mom and dad interact as well.

As a huge proponent of rescues, I feel it is very possible that you can adopt
a wonderful dog that turns out to be a fabulous companion for your children. Getting a puppy at 8- to 10-weeks of age enables you to create the experiences that will shape his personality. Although puppy-hood can be trying, getting a young dog is the best way to ensure (as much as anyone can ensure behavior) that his personality develops into the child-loving, good-natured companion you desire.

Remember that a dog’s breed is not a guarantee of the dog’s behavior. Whether you get a puppy or an older dog, it is important to observe his or her behavior prior to adoption or purchase. Is the dog fearful or skittish? Is the dog comfortable being handled? Is he/she friendly without being insanely rambunctious? You are looking for a dog that is very comfortable around people, one that is not fazed by sudden movements or being touched or hugged.

Basically, you need a dog that will not react negatively to the types of behavior the average small child will engage in with his or her dog. Here is a very short list (by no means complete) of some excellent breeds for small children.

Labrador Retriever 

Labs are wonderful, friendly dogs. They are usually eager to please and
tolerant of the sort of handling little tykes so often dole out. They are sturdy too, which is important with small kids. You will need to train the dog so he or she learns to be gentle and not knock the kids over out of sheer joy and exuberance.

Golden Retriever

They are very similar to Labs, although in my experience sometimes a bit calmer. They do shed a bit more than Labs.

Basset Hound

I will admit to being a bit biased on the topic of Bassets. I have “been owned” by them for the past few decades. That said, my preference is based on experience. Bassets are often islands of calm, which is nice when the kids are bouncing off the walls. They tolerate the roughest treatment with a shrug and tail wag. They are goofy, friendly, wonderful dogs. A downside is they sometimes have a pretty distinctive hound smell, which is not for everyone. Still, these are amazing kid-friendly dogs. One other thing: they can get bigger than a lot of people realize. Males can weigh 85-plus pounds, making them a handful.

Newfoundland

Strange choice? Not really. These gentle giants are great kid dogs. They are calm, loving, and infinitely tolerant. The only things to understand about the breed are 1) They often don’t live very long, only 8 to 11 years, and 2) they shed—and drool. Plus, well, they are huge, which poses its own challenges. Still, if you are looking for a lot of dog that is great with kids, this can be a very wise choice.

Standard Poodle

This is a good pick for children or parents with allergies. Poodles are highly intelligent and friendly, have good temperaments, and are good with children. Standard poodles are sturdy dogs who can withstand a fair amount of rough kiddie treatment. I have always liked this breed and over the years have seen numerous families with these dogs.

You will notice I did not pick any smaller breeds — bichon frise, cocker spaniels, etc. In my experience, the average one- to four-year-old child is, by his or her very nature, too rough for smaller breeds. It is better to choose a larger dog that can deal with small children’s normal behavior than delude yourself into thinking you will be able to monitor their interaction and thus keep everyone safe. Remember there is risk for the dog as well as the child.

Again, remember that every dog is 
an individual and if you are introducing a dog into a home with children, you should do research before you choose the right dog for your family.

What to Know When Reading Cat Food Labels

Reading Cat Food Labels

How to determine what is really in your pet’s food.

By Sandy Robins

There is no question that reading cat food labels is not straightforward; in fact it can be very frustrating to the average cat owner. Cats are meat eaters (carnivores), meaning they require two to three times the amount of protein than omnivores, such as humans, do. Consequently, they rely mainly on nutrients found in animals—high protein, moderate fat and minimal carbohydrates—to meet their dietary needs.

For the layperson, the key is to look at the first three ingredients listed on the can packet or bag. By law, pet food ingredients must be listed on the label in descending order by weight, with the protein at the top of the list. However, it’s important to remember that the moisture content affects weight. So ingredients that are moisture-heavy, such as chicken or lamb, are listed higher on the ingredient list than the same ingredient that is added in a dry form.

In addition, similar materials listed as separate ingredients might out weigh other ingredients that precede them on the list. For example, chicken might be listed as the first ingredient, then wheat flour, ground wheat and wheat middling. In this instance, although chicken appears to be the predominant ingredient, when added together, all three wheat products could weigh more than the poultry. It gets more complicated because for a food to be called chicken, the ingredients have to be 95 percent or more of the total weight of the product. Then there are a variety of fancy names that crop up on the shelves—e.g., dinner, platter, delight and formula—that in fact means only 25 percent of the content is that particular ingredient.

A word about protein and feline basic nutritional needs: Proteins are the basic building blocks for cells, tissues and organs. They can be either animal-based (e.g.,chicken, lamb, turkey, fish and eggs) or plant-based (soy, vegetables and cereals). In addition, cat food often contains byproducts of animals or plants—the parts that people don’t normally eat. But don’t necessarily be put off by this. If a cat catches a bird it will eat everything—intestines, bones and all.

The type of meat products that most closely resemble what a cat would catch for itself in the wild comes from birds(chicken, turkey, duck and quail)and game animals(buffalo, ostrich, deer, and bison).Animal-based proteins also contain complete amino acids, such as taurine, arginine, cysteine and methionine. These are essential for cats because their bodies don’t synthesize them in adequate amounts. In particular, taurine is crucial to a cat’s diet and a deficiency is serious because it can cause blindness and fatal heart disease.

Cats also catch fish in the wild, so fresh fish can be an excellent addition to their diet. Fish is high in iodine and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids that promote healthy skin and fur.

Because ingredient definitions and designations are standardized, it is difficult to determine the quality of ingredients. Ingredient quality can only be determined from laboratory analysis and animal feeding tests.It is up to the pet owner to  research various food manufacturers’ websites to get an idea of what they are offering. Once you’ve narrowed down the field, you should then discuss the diet with a very knowledgeable pet food retailer or, better still, with your cat’s veterinarian.

Since the pet food recall of 2007, cat food ingredients have come under scrutiny more than ever before.Accordingly,companies are going to great lengths to discuss their quality, such as human-grade contents.And inline with human food trends,organic ingredients are growing in popularity.

“A question we often get from pet parents is ‘how do I know if this food is organic?’” said Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations for Castor & Pollux, a manufacturer of natural and organic food for pets. “There are strict labeling requirements around organic that enables pet parents to know the differences between products.”

A product with 70 to 94 percent organic ingredients can state on its label, “Made with organic…” but it cannot include the USDA logo, according to the USDA’s National Organic Program. However, those ingredients must still be certified by an independent third party. Products with 95 to 100 percent certified organic ingredients can use “organic” in the product name and bear the USDA logo. Both categories of organic products must include the name and contact information for the certifying agency on the back of the package.

Another growing trend is for single ingredient foods, which definitely makes it much easier to read a label.

Finally, you can read labels all you want, but the big question is whether you cat will eat the food.Pet food manufacturers, especially those whose products are grown and manufactured in the USA,try hard to be very transparent about what they are offering and are happy to talk to pet owners and discuss their concerns. So, once you have narrowed down the field, don’t be shy to ask for a sample directly from the manufacturer. Any company that proudly stands by what it sells will be only too happy to oblige.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

Charlee Bear “Thankful Tweet” Contest

Are you thankful for something? Tell us about it. @AnimalBehaviorC

Charlee Bear wants to know what you are thankful for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to play in the contest:

Tweet Us using @AnimalBehaviorC, tell us what you are most thankful for.
>Pictures are encouraged.

The person with the most retweets by Thanksgiving day will be the winner.

Animal Behavior College – Student Loves Animals – Best Friends Animal Society Volunteer

One Volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society forms a bond with Pit Bull named Chad

Training Shelter Dogs

Jackie McKenzie is one of the 14 Animal Behavior College students in the On-site classroom program for Dog Training this semester. This specific On-site Dog Training class is held at the Animal Behavior College Valencia, Calif. campus. Every week Jackie and her classmates volunteer at Best Friends Animal Shelter in Mission Hills, CA. Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity for the student dog trainers to receive real-life training experience. Each student works with different shelter dogs that need to improve socialization skills, house training, and better manners. During Jackie’s time at Best Friends she has built a strong connection with Chad.

Chad is an America Pit Bull that Jackie describes as really awesome and sweet. In the past few months Jackie has trained Chadwig (her nickname for the dog) to heel, lay-down, sit, stay, and circle. “He is very easy to work with and he learns fast.” Her first impression of Chad was that he is a bit intimidating. But, Jackie says “once you get to know him he is a lovely dog.” She would love to see Chad get adopted and find his forever home. Jackie admits that working with Chad has opened up her mind to American Bully breeds. Before the experience at Best Friends she did not know how kind and loving the breed can be.

Back in September Best Friends held a fundraiser in Los Angeles called Strut Your Mutt. Jackie and several other students including Hailey Ulrich all participated in the event representing SGT. Mack’s Bully Pack. Together they were able to raise over $1,200 as a team, to donate to Best Friends Animal Society. All the students love Best Friends and really enjoy the opportunity to help train shelter dogs. It is an awesome way for them to gain experience, and it increases the chance that someone will adopt one of these wonderful pets.

Jackie has been a member of the Army National Guard for over 8 years. Her job title has been Military Police since her enlistment. Jackie has done three deployments and visited many countries around the world. During her service Jackie was stationed in Iraq twice and Afghanistan once.  She said that deployments were always something that she looked forward to.  She enjoys the service so much that she recently enlisted for another 6 years. Jackie has always been an animal lover, ever since she was a child. She grew up on a dairy farm in Michigan. She has a knack for working with dogs. Shortly after she returned from her last deployment her wife suggested that she pursue a career in dog training.

Jackie decided to Google “how to become a dog trainer?” That is how she found Animal Behavior College. Jackie knew that she had the talent be a dog trainer, but wanted the education as a way to add credibility to her future career outside of the National Guard. Her next goal is to develop the hours, time, and case studies needed to become Canine Good Citizen certified. Jackie McKenzie says the skills she has learned in school like: back chaining, patience, and motivation, makes dog training a breeze.

After graduation at Animal Behavior College Jackie plans on moving back to Salem, Oregon. She would like to begin training service dogs for Veterans. Maybelline will be her first service dog. Jackie said that she loves her so much, she couldn’t see not having her forever. Back at home she has 2 other dogs (SGT and Ralphie), 3 cats (Layla, SMAC, and Zumiez), and a snake named Cocooi.  She loves to do anything outdoors like fishing, shooting, and camping. Jackie also spends some of her free time playing PlayStation 3 games like Grand Theft Auto or Assassins Creed; and she loves watching Law and Order SVU.

Jackie plans on going back to visit her parents farm for the holiday season. When asked what was it like growing up on a farm? Jackie said “It was one of the best experiences anyone could have.” She has truly done some amazing things in the short time that we got to know her here at Animal Behavior College. We salute you for all your hard word, service, and sacrifices. Great work Jackie. Keep it up.

Visit our website to find out more about becoming a dog trainer.
Help train shelter dogs by volunteering at BestFriends.org