"The Peeing Post"
Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature
Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen
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Dear Dog Friend,
Happy New Year! I hoped you enjoyed the Holidays and still were able to take good care of your dog. Maybe it got a few presents that were nicely wrapped? (They were hopefully not left under the Christmas tree - that would have been a very hard temptation for the dog, unless it wasn't given access to the room before it was time to hand out presents...)
The past month has, unfortunately, given me some very severe personal challenges I could have lived much better without.... One of them was a dormant virus attack on my computer with the Opaserve virus. Precisely at midnight, December 24th, it erased the bios of my computer. This doesn't seem to be worth much screaming - until you realize that this makes your WINDOWS programs not work - and the only way of getting the computer to work again is by reformatting the entire hard drive and re-installing WINDOWS from scratch - once you have found out what exactly that bios is supposed to be! Well, in doing this, you delete EVERYTHING that was on the computer's hard drive.... but you might as well - there is no way of getting any software to work that can read the information anyway.
Thanks to JUVIO, I was able to find the software and the drivers for all the hardware again, so I at least could get the computer to function again. Without JUVIO's technical assistance, I could as well have thrown my computer in the garbage... This has paid my JUVIO membership for the next 7-8 years.
So, there is no "Brainwork for Smart Dogs" finished yet. The good news about this is that you can still get your smart trick included. Seriously, if you have a good way of stimulating your dog (a way that works for you and your dog), I will stick to the deal I offered previously: you get a free download of the e-book in return for me using your example in the e-book!
Domestication of our canines
I got some questions from subscribers relating to domestication. They originated out of a discussion about which breed is easiest to train, and I feel the topic deserves all dog owners' attention - particularly in relation to our discussion about puppy selection (which I will continue).
Let us discuss a few of the important changes due to the domestication process. In general, dogs are easier to train and to make do what we want when they are young. Puppies learn far faster than adult dogs. Adult dogs can appear very "stubborn" because they rely on what they have already learned. But for the human cave man or later civilized citizen, this means that dogs that grow up to become adults slower than average, would be the ones preferred as companions, almost regardless the intended use of the dog as hunting dog or sheep dog or other related services, for which specific mental skills were important. Sled dogs are not included here - because, for their owners, the opposite preference was true! Sled dogs were to work with their bodies, not their brains.
One of the puppy features many adult dogs retain is the drop ears. Those ears are supposed to get upright at about 10-12 weeks of age for a wolf, a Husky, and a Samoyed. For a Golden Retriever or a Basset Hound, it never happens. For very many breeds, this is the case. They keep their puppy ears all their life. They also keep a lot of their puppy temperament all their lives, including the huge open-minded learning potential.
Is there a generalization possible here? Absolutely! Dogs with drop ears are generally much more domesticated than dogs with upright ears. Those with upright ears still have more "wolf" in their temperament and behavior than those with drop ears.
Don't be mistaken: the more domestication, the easier a time you will have with this dog. Not the other way around! Dogs that are still fairly "undomesticated" are generally not very easy to deal with in terms of training, unless you get them started on a training program while they are still only 8-10 weeks old. All the spitzes (including sled dogs of all kinds, American Eskimos, Pomeranians, Chowchow, etc.) are classical examples of this. Count in also the Basenji and the Pharaoh Hound - probably some of the most difficult dogs to train for the inexperienced owner that gets started too late...
I am not saying that you cannot train a Husky. But I am saying that if you don't get that Husky trained well before it is 4 months old, you will never have any success you would want to write home about, except for training it to pull...
With a Labrador Retriever, you can start training when it is fully grown - and still reach some nice results. You will have to work hard at it, though - also much harder than what the case would have been if you had started at an age of just 8-10 weeks, and you will never achieve quite as good a result either. But it will still be worth your while. With a Husky or an Alaskan Malamute that has never been seriously trained before it is 5 months old, it won't.
There is one remarkable exception to this rule: The German Shepherd and many of the Dutch and Belgian sheepdogs. With their upright ears, you would expect that they would be difficult dogs to deal with, but that is not quite the case. They have been domesticated quite intensively, and particularly the German Shepherd has been subject to the most intensive breeding program based on performance any breed has ever undergone.
These sheepdogs do have a lot of wolf in them, though: the shyness and the high activity level. The Border Collies being the most profound example of this you can find. The German Shepherd is the exception - they can tolerate much lower activity level - and they are generally bred to be almost fearless.
The surprising conclusion you might want to draw from this is that German Shepherds generally are some of the most compatible dogs for almost any dog owner's purpose. It really puzzles me that they still have their ears upright....
Allergies and skin infections
Over the last couple of weeks, I have had some correspondence with David about skin problems. David is in trouble. The dog, a 2 year old Labrador female, is chewing herself in a desperate attempt to deal with the itchiness from her infections in the paws. Antihistamines don't work anymore...
Now, antihistamines are never a cure - they only hide the symptoms. The only cure is a strong immune system. David, of course, immediately shifted to a natural diet, once he understood this. He bought my e-book "Canine Choice - by Nature" and read it fast - so fast that he forgot to pay attention to the details...
The result was that he happily fed the dog two pounds of ground beef per day - plus some fresh vegetables. The family enjoyed seeing how much the dog liked the raw meat, and the veggies were a little laborious to prepare... The net result was that the dog's itchiness got worse!
Well, all "old-timers" know that you cannot keep your dog healthy on such an unbalanced diet. To much protein. Too little variation. For a dog that already has problems with allergies, this is doomed to make everything worse.
Well, I think I convinced David to read that e-book one more time - and this time carefully. And then to actually follow the instructions. Although feeding natural is easy, you cannot do it well without first understanding the rules, and responsible feeding is more than simply giving the dog what it likes the most...
But David took the full consequences of his dog ownership. He took the dog to a dermatologist to get to the root of the skin problems - and sent me a very frustrated e-mail! The dermatologist wanted to shift his natural diet to a low-fat kibble diet! On top of this, he was supposed to continue with antibiotic ointments for a year - billed at about $1000...
I "lost it" when I got his e-mail and I might have been a bit rude in my reply. There were two main reasons for my anger:
"Low-fat" is nothing more and nothing less than BS when used for dogs. You can only lower the fat in the diet by increasing either the protein or the carbohydrate content. Well, too much protein was a culprit already for some of the skin damages - and carbohydrates are not even on the list of natural ingredients in a dog diet!
No kibble products are without chemical preservatives. Chemical preservatives are poisons. They are! Quit listening to people who tell you they are not. They know nothing worth knowing about chemistry. Preservatives are there to kill micro-organisms that try to eat the food before it gets served to the dog. And here is the $10,000 question: "Do you seriously believe that consuming poisonous chemicals will help your dog fight its skin allergies?"
Sorry, David - but you got scammed by paying that dermatologist.
I know - the question now is, "What then?"...
The answer is not easy. But, as I told David too, you have no alternative but to educate yourself. You cannot trust the "professionals" of the "pet industry". You have to acquire enough knowledge about what you ask these professionals to do for your dog that you can be critical and make your own conclusions, based on the advice they can give you - because that advice has a very limited scope! And because they have a conflict of interest in giving you too much advice that is too good - they do make more money when you have problems...
It is a fine line - and I know I am coming close to accusing somebody of malpractice. But what I am telling you here is nothing but the plain truth. I know that there are professionals out there who are in the business of pet care because they have a passion for helping the animals. But you have no guarantees. Only their actions will tell you...
Provided you know enough to check them!
Selecting the right puppy (part 2: Your leadership)...
B. Understanding yourself
I know, this one does not seem to have much to do with what you want to know about how to select your puppy, but it does have a lot to do with it. You need to analyze your own personality, at least as far as these personal traits go:
Some of these traits relate to your natural leadership capabilities. Others relate to your temperament. Some to your life style. And some to your physical condition. They are all important.
Let's talk about leadership first. Leadership involves:
How good are you at this kind of stuff? Do you enjoy being the captain? The drill sergeant? The coach? The patient teacher of a mentally handicapped family member?
Your temperament: How good are you at showing your emotions? And at controlling them? And faking them?! Good leaders are good at all of this!
You lifestyle and physical condition are fairly simple to deal with. You need to be honest, though. Don't kid yourself into believing something that will not become your reality. Obviously, the more you can enjoy a lifestyle that is compatible with what your dog would like to do too, the simpler it becomes for you to become a good leader, because you will have an easy time spending time together with the dog.
C. The match...
It is easy to understand that you should choose a dog you can share as much of your life with as possible. For this reason, an active, outdoor lifestyle goes well with an active breed that does not have problems with weather conditions or physical performance.
But for your leadership and temperament traits, it is not so easy. Contrary to what you might think, you are generally not going to seek a dog that is like yourself - and you won't seek one that is your opposite either. You should use your leadership and temperament traits to figure out what kind of temperament you need in your dog in order to avoid leadership conflicts and leadership vacuum. In general, the weaker your own leadership traits, the more you need to focus on a breed that does not produce strongly dominant dogs. The stronger your own leadership traits, the more tough temperament will you need in your dog in order to avoid "crushing its spirit" - which really is the same as having fear sneak into the relationship...
If you are a "make love, not war" kind of flower-power hippie, then there is no way you can have any success with a breed that has a tough temperament, like a Weimaraner, a Husky, or a Cocker Spaniel. But if you are a "sergeant major" kind of person that does not tolerate orders not being obeyed, those breeds could be good choices.... In this case, a Kelpie, a Bulldog, or a Saint Bernard would be bad choices for you - but possibly good choices for the hippie....
The main point is that you should not select your dog on the basis of what you like or admire. You should make the choice on the basis of what you can work with - and what can work with you... A totally different perspective that unfortunately, when ignored, causes a lot of trauma.
Summing up, your personality traits must be superior to the dog's, as far as leadership features are concerned. But you also don't want to "overpower" the dog with too much distance between your own temperament and the dog's temperament - it will inevitably annoy you, and you will run a strong risk of being too tough on the dog and too often cross over the line between sound dominance and aggression, causing fear reactions from the dog's side. On the other hand, you don't want to challenge yourself too much; you are the leader, and you should not have to fight with your dog or yourself over that.
Did we narrow the search possibilities?
Cheers and woof,
If you have any comments or questions pertaining to this issue or in general pertaining to dogs, please respond - if I can find an answer for you, I will!
If you have any suggestions to contributions or contents of The Peeing Post, I will be happy to know about them. (Please no anonymous contacts, though...)
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P.S. I want to announce that I got a big chunk of stuff finished for uploading to the web site for k9joy.com/dogtraining - my new site about my training activities, including (for now) all my seminars and out-of-town engagements. If you would like to have me come for a weekend, for instance, and do some seminars and/or workshops for you and your group, you should check that site and get some inspiration as to how we can make that happen. So far, I have not published this site outside The Peeing Post, and I will be grateful for any kind of feedback you might want to share with me!
Also, just for the record: you are more than welcome to forward The Peeing Post to anybody you know who might enjoy subscribing. I have a goal of reaching 100,000 subscribers, and I appreciate any help I can get to reach that goal!