Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Ultimate Indestructible Dog Crate Guide for 2016

Many pet owners out there do not realize the importance of a dog crate. Indestructible Crates could be one of the greatest inventions anyone has ever made for dogs, they provide a place for dogs to call their very own, and a place where they feel safe. If you are a pet owner and don’t own a crate for your dog, do not wait another minute, go out and get one today, it could change life for you and your dog for the better for many years to come. Once you have decided that you need a crate for your dog there are a few important things to keep in mind while shopping around. What Size Of Crate Do You Need?

 What many individuals don’t realize is that the size of the crate is important. You don’t want to get a crate that is too small for your puppy that they feel uncomfortable when they are in there, but you also don’t want to get a crate that is too big either. It’s important to find a crate that fits your dog perfectly. It needs to be big enough so they can turn around in it, but not so big that they can have accidents in it.
 What Type Of Indestructible Crate Do You Need? There are many different types of crates in the market today. You will find wire cage crates, plastic crates, crates that go in the truck and general heavy duty crates which are the best dog crates for puppies. Make sure you know the type of crate you need before you purchase one for your dog. Every dog is different, and has a different personality. A crate that might be good for one dog, might not be good for another dog. Make sure you keep your dog in mind while you are shopping around for a crate to suit their personality and needs.

 If you follow those simple steps above, and make sure you find a crate that is the right size for your dog, and the right type of crate they will need, you will be doing your part to give them a home that they will enjoy.

 When you do your part to find the perfect crate for your dog, they will be more likely to want to go in there, and will enjoy the time they spend in there. Give your dog the home they have long been hoping for by finding them a Indestructible crate today.

excited when they see the cute little puppy at the store that they just have to have it, then they get home, and realize they know nothing at all about having a little puppy.  They don’t know how to train it, or even what to do with it.  This is where a crate comes in handy, a crate is seriously one of the best inventions ever created.

Puppy Crate Training 

Many years ago my husband and I purchased a little puppy.  We were first married, and thought it would be so fun to own a little dog.  We got home and realized we knew nothing about having a dog, we had nothing for a dog, and we had to get up early and go to work the next morning.  At this point we read up online about training a dog, and purchased a crate to train him in.  This was truly the best decision we ever made.  We put our dog in the crate while we were away from the house, and took him outside the second we got home, this quickly trained our small dog that going potty outside was very important.
If you do indeed need a heavy duty crate check out - http://doggytoggery.com/escape-proof-dog-crates/ for more information about them.

If you have a small dog, and are feeling frustrated with its potty training habits,  it’s time you go out and find the very best dog crates for puppies today.  Crates make training young puppies easy, and provide a home for them while you are away.  Many puppies will look forward to their time they get to spend in their crate, and love every minute in there.  By nature dogs love small areas where they can call their very own, by getting your dog a crate you are giving them their very own place, that they will enjoy.

Don’t wait around for your dog to have another accident on your carpet, go out and get a crate today and help your dog learn that going potty outside is very important.  A crate will help speed up the potty training process, and will give your dog a place to go when you are away that helps them feel safe and protected.  Do your part to give your dog the home they have always wanted by getting them the very best dog Indestructible crates for puppies today.

How To Find The Right Crate for your Dog

Many pet owners out there do not realize the importance of a dog crate.  Crates could be one of the greatest inventions anyone has ever made for dogs, they provide a place for dogs to call their very own, and a place where they feel safe.  If you are a pet owner and don’t own a crate for your dog, do not wait another minute, go out and get one today, it could change life for you and your dog for the better for many years to come.

Once you have decided that you need a crate for your dog there are a few important things to keep in mind while shopping around.

What Size Of Crate Do You Need? 

What many individuals don’t realize is that the size of the crate is important.   You don’t want to get a crate that is too small for your puppy that they feel uncomfortable when they are in there, but you also don’t want to get a crate that is too big either.  It’s important to find a crate that fits your dog perfectly.  It needs to be big enough so they can turn around in it, but not so big that they can have accidents in it.

What Type Of Crate Do You Need? 

There are many different types of crates in the market today.  You will find wire cage crates, plastic crates, crates that go in the truck, and the best dog crates for puppies.  Make sure you know the type of crate you need before you purchase one for your dog.  Every dog is different, and has a different personality.  A crate that might be good for one dog, might not be good for another dog.  Make sure you keep your dog in mind while you are shopping around for a crate to suit their personality and needs.

If you follow those simple steps above, and make sure you find a crate that is the right size for your dog, and the right type of crate they will need, you will be doing your part to give them a home that they will enjoy.  When you do your part to find the perfect crate for your dog, they will  be more likely to want to go in there, and will enjoy the time they spend in there.  Give your dog the home they have long been hoping for by finding them a Indestructible dog crate today.

Dog Kennels and Runs

The pleasures of owning a dog also has associated responsibilities.  Dogs don’t just need food and drink to stay healthy; they also need exercise and shelter. Providing a comfortable, safe, secure, space where a dog can also exercise is very necessary. Dog kennels and runs can provide dogs with a place to live, exercise, play and rest in a contended way. Providing a dedicated space keeps your dog safe from the other animals and accidents. A spacious run will allow your dog to exercise in safety.

This will ensure its heart, lungs and muscles remain healthy.
A dog kennels and run is a space which is enclosed by a fence or boundary .It is a separate place for dogs to move freely. It keeps your dogs away from other animals and keeps your dog from straying and getting into mischief. Kennels and runs can be designed in many different ways in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. They can even be designed to your own requirements. You can define the size, shape and material and personalize it to your own taste and requirements.
Different companies provide dog kennels and runs of different types or they can be designed to your own specification.

Dog kennels are usually easy to deliver and install. Their handy and compact packing allows easy transportation. When purchasing a Indestructible kennel or run for your dog, you should consider all factors such as: weather protection, size, shape, width, height and materials. It should be kept in mind that the height and width of the kennels or runs should be adequate so that dogs have enough room to feel comfortable and sufficient space to exercise.
The materials used for dog kennels or runs should be anti- corrosive and rust free. Rusty or damaged components or materials can affect the health of your pet. If you have a run for your dog, it is also recommended that there is adequate shelter so that in case of sunny or rainy weather, your dog can rest under the shelter. Also kennels should be cleaned regularly to prevent the spread of bacteria to dogs or humans.  It is essential to provide adequate food and water in the kennels and runs. Providing the pets with the safe and sound environment is necessary for the healthy and happy upbringing of your animal. A dog run and kennel will keep your dog or dogs safe and contented.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Resource guarding: why you should not emulate ‘Jordan Shelley’

Many people are outraged by Jordan Shelley’s treatment of a Jack Russell Terrier on the One Show last week.  I wrote about it here yesterday.   Many have posted up on the BBC’s facebook page and complained to the BBC.

Most are upset because they felt Jordan Shelley’s method for treating resource guarding was cruel.   It certainly looked unpleasant. In this article I want to explain why I found the programme so disturbing.

I too was upset by Jordan Shelley’s approach ,  but for different reasons.   Whilst I thought the method was very stressful for the dog,  that alone would not stop me using it,  if it were effective and,  if there were no other alternatives.

People’s safety is after all, a priority.

What upset me, was the fact that the Mr Shelley’s method has two massive flaws  and that the show completely ignored a much better alternative method.

Flaws in Jordan Shelley’s approach to resource guarding

It is only specific to people feared by the dog
It puts the dog owner at risk of being bitten
Specific to certain people

Dogs are not very good at generalization.  To get a good long term ‘training effect’  new behaviors have to initially be retrained in many different locations and in many different situations.  Jordan Shelley did not mention this on  the programme.  Or if he did, it was edited out.

So,  whilst he may have created a situation where the JRT is afraid to guard his food in the presence of the family members and Mr Shelley himself,  he has not created any protection for other people that might happen to approach the dog whilst it is eating.    What if a neighbor pops round and walks past the dog in sandals or flip-flops,  what if a visiting toddler tries to give the dog a hug whilst he is eating?  

Dogs do not exist in a vacuum.  Training has to cover all normal eventualities

Putting owners at risk

Perhaps the most serious aspect of the show,  was the risk to anyone attempting such methods  at home.   Especially with a larger, heavier dog.   A bite on the leg from a JRT is nasty,  but unlikely to be fatal or disfiguring.  The same cannot be said for some other breeds of dog.

Putting your foot in the mouth of a snapping, snarling, angry dog,  is just about the silliest thing I have seen this year.   I can’t really add any more to that except to say that an angry dog, even a terrier is quite capable of jumping up an reaching your face in a millisecond.   You may not have a chance to back away.   Please, do not even think about using this method.

The alternative to Jordan Shelley’s approach to resource guarding

I feel that the BBC made a serious error when it chose to ignore or worse still failed to research,  the accepted modern approach to the treatment of resource guarding  (an example of which you can read here).

I appreciate that this modern method might not make great television.  There is little growling involved,  no theatrics, no shouting and no dramatic change in the dog’s demeanor.  The method takes several days and occasionally weeks,  to bring results.

The method is however effective and long lasting.  It protects everyone that approaches the dog’s bowl including visiting small children and unsuspecting strangers.   No-one gets bitten,  no-one gets bullied.  It is a calm and inoffensively nice behavioral modification system.

I hope that the BBC will take note of the concerns that have been expressed over this programme. Resource guarding is one of the most common problems experienced by dog owners.  The link above is one of the most popular articles on the Labrador Site.

Sadly,  many dog owners will not be aware of the flaws in Mr Shelley’s approach,  or of  the existence of a better alternative method. Indeed, I believe that the silent majority of viewers out there will probably think that the pay-off for temporarily upsetting the dog (as demonstrated in the show) is worthwhile.

I believe it is really important that the BBC now tell their viewers about the right approach to resource guarding.

The 7 habits of highly effective dog trainers

The 7 habits of highly effective dog trainers  is not just about professional trainers.  If you are training your dog,  you too are a dog trainer.  Perfecting some of these great habits will help you become more effective.

Highly effective trainers are organised

I know that a lot of keen outdoorsy and doggy folk shy away from planning their dog training.  They associate planning with work, offices, and bureaucracy.   However, to get the best from dog training sessions you really do need to be organised and make a plan.  An effective  trainer will often keep a few notes on what he achieved in a training session and jot down a few targets for the next one.  I keep a separate A6 notebook for each dog with the dog’s name on the front.  It is small enough that I can easily fit several  in a pocket and that way I don’t (often) waste time standing in the middle of a field wondering what the hell I am supposed to be doing!

Highly effective trainers can see the world from the dog’s point of view

An ability to view the world through the eyes of a dog is one of the good trainer’s best attributes.  Dogs do not see things the way people do, and understanding a situation from the dog’s perspective enables the trainer to anticipate problems and make fast effective decisions.

Highly effective trainers expect their dogs to behave like dogs.  This avoids a lot of disappointment.

This kind of understanding comes very naturally to some people,  we tend to describe them as having ‘dog sense’.  But it can be learned too,  by any one willing to take the time to find out how dogs actually think and learn.  This information is available online,  and in good books on canine psychology.

Highly effective trainers are persistent.

Dog training can be tough.  Whether you are training just your own dog,  or other peoples, there will be times when you don’t feel like training,  or when you seem to be stuck in a rut, and failing to make progress.  There can be days when your dog appears hell bent on forgetting everything you ever taught him.   At times like these persistence is required to work through and stick at the task.

Highly effective trainers  set their dogs up to win

There used to be quite a popular strategy in dog training,  of teaching a dog a command under fairly undemanding circumstances and then challenging his obedience to this command under a range of different circumstances.    This is essentially setting the dog up to lose so that he can be ‘caught in the act’ of being naughty, and  punished for doing so.

Setting a dog up to win is achieved by training in small incremental steps that are easily achievable,  moving those goalposts slowly,  mixing more difficult exercises up with plenty of easier ones,  and preventing the dog getting into situations where he can reward himself for being naughty.   This kind of non-confrontational training is not always straightforward to ‘set up’,  especially as training advances,  but it is extremely rewarding,  and teaches the trainer a great deal.

Highly effective trainers are patient

This is one that I have to work hard on every day of  my life.  I am not a patient person.  But dogs,  like children can teach you patience if you let them.

When you find yourself irritated with your dog, it is often because you have rushed ahead before he was ready,  or tried to ‘test’ him or ‘show off’  his new skills in front of friends.  Remind yourself it is not a race.  Always allow twice as long as you think it will take to achieve anything new.

The highly effective trainer has the utmost respect for the limitations of the dog.   Retracing your steps when the dog fails to grasp what you want,  starting over, remaining calm on days when your dog appears to have the attention span of a gnat and the IQ of a melon,  are all helpful strategies for demonstrating that respect.

Highly effective dog trainers are reasonable 

Dogs learn by the consequences of their behavior.  We train  dogs by manipulating those consequences in a precise and reasonable manner.

It is unreasonable to punish a dog for behavior he cannot control or to fail to reward behavior that is appropriate.   It is unreasonable to punish and confront a dog if there is a better way to achieve the desired result,  or if the desired result is not important.

These are judgement calls,  and to make these judgement calls, dog trainers need to equip themselves with adequate behavioral knowledge and understanding.   It is unreasonable to attempt to train an animal without this fundamental equipment.

Highly effective dog trainers are always learning

We have all met the trainer that thinks they know all there is to know.   You may have been to a class where the trainer’s attitude is  “its my way or the high way”

However,  really effective trainers are aware of their own weaknesses (and we all have some of those).   They know that there is always more to learn from other people and from other dogs.

They know that there is more than one way to train a dog.  And they are able to adapt methods to suit the sensibilities of different dog owners and the wide range of temperaments of the dogs that they train.  A little humility and a thirst for knowledge goes a long way in dog training.

How about you?  What do you think is the most important habit or quality in a highly effective dog trainer.  You can share your thoughts using the comments box below

Your dog is watching you!

An interesting recent study seems to suggest that dogs have an ability to make judgements about the character and potential behavior of human beings based on watching the way these humans interact with one another.

That’s right.   This assessment is not based on interaction between the humans in question and the dog,  but on how the humans behave toward each other, as observed by the dog.  

The study carried out by animal cognition researcher Sarah Marshall-Pescini used a sample of 84 dogs,  and set up a structured situation in which the retrained dog was able to observe a very specific interaction between three humans.

Two of these humans were given bowls of aromatic sausage.   The other was given the role of begging a small piece of sausage from each of the two sausage holders.   The sausage holders were each given a different role.  One was selfish and refused to share.  The other was generous and shared with the beggar.   The ‘selfish’ person made clear dismissive shooing gestures towards the beggar.   The generous person said ‘have it’  as they offered the piece of sausage to the beggar.

At the end of this human interaction the beggar left the room and the dog was released to interact with the two food holding humans in the room.

The dogs chose to interact with the generous human five times more frequently than with the selfish one.   It is hard not to conclude that the dogs were able to make a reasonably accurate prediction on the future behavior of a human being,  simply by watching him interact with another human being.

Food for thought!

The BBC distance themselves from dog trainer Jordan Shelley

Last night’s episode of The One Show included some furious back-peddling by the BBC.  The show featured a short film of dog trainer Jordan Shelley in his garden,  the views of a representative of the Dog’s Trust and of vet Joe Inglis,  and a ‘damage limitation’ statement by an uncomfortable  Matt Baker who said of Mr Shelley

“To be fair we should have actually described him as someone we were following on the show,  rather than as The One Show dog trainer as such”

What a traumatic week it has been for Jordan Shelley,  who in some ways is also a victim of the BBC’s failure to research their subject before offering dog training instruction to the general public.  The footage of Mr Shelley was a slightly irrelevant clip of him introducing a Staffordshire bull terrier to dog compound in order to overcome her aggression towards other dogs and finished with him stating the he “will never stop learning”.        

A representative of the Dog’s Trust explained why modern counter-conditioning techniques are more appropriate than the methods demonstrated by Jordan Shelley on the controversial show last week,  and the coverage of the issue concluded with a supporting explanation and advice from Joe Inglis.

You can view the clip here:  it starts ten  minutes and 22 seconds into the programme. You can read an example of how to treat resource guarding in an appropriate way  on the Labrador Site.

8 dog blogs worth visiting

Dogs blogs are not just a source of light entertainment.

They also play a useful  and valuable role in providing information for dog owners on a range of topics about dogs

I wrote recently about the  The Rise of the Dog Blog.   As promised I have gathered a list of good value dog blogs for you to check out when you have a moment.

I have tried to provide you with a cross section of the different types of dog blog now available on the internet.

I have not included any purely product driven blogs,  or any that have been abandoned or are not updated regularly.   They are listed in no particular order.

The Dog Star Daily

There is no ‘about’ page on this blog but  Dog Star Daily seems to belong to well known dog author and vet Ian Dunbar.  Whilst the website is clearly commercially driven and promoting Dunbar’s own courses,  books etc,  it is nevertheless full of interesting and informative articles.

Pedigree Dogs Exposed

Pedigree Dogs  exposed is the blogging face of Jemima Harrison’s campaign to reform pedigree dog breeding practices.  It focuses on highlighting the health problems in some of our dog breeds and on the politics and controversy that surrounds them.  This is a highly commented blog and makes fascinating reading.

Cold Wet Nose

This is Beverley Cuddy’s blog.  Beverley is the editor of Dogs Today magazine and Cold Wet Nose is a mixture of dog news, campaigns, and controversy with a strong personal flavour.

Dogged Blog

The Dogged blog belongs to journalist Christie Keith and deals with a range of animal issues,  with emphasis on dogs.  Worth a visit.

The Labrador Site

I have to declare an interest as the Labrador Site belongs to me and a couple of friends.  It is basically a How To blog but focusing firmly on Labrador Retrievers.  We aim to provide clear and easy to follow information about every aspect of owning one of these lovely dogs.  Do drop in and check us out!

The other end of the leash

Patricia McConnell is a behaviorist best known for her excellent book  which shares its name with this blog: ‘The Other End of the Leash’.  Patricia manages to mix topics, around her professional interests  in dogs with personal snippets about her own dogs and life, very effectively.

The retriever, dog and wildlife blog

Formerly known as Retrieverman,  the author of the newly renamed Retriever, dog and wildlife  site has to be one of the most prolific dog bloggers on the internet.   He often posts interesting articles about canine history, and a wide range of other dog related topics.

Last but not least.

The Bark

The newsy dog magazine site The Bark often has guest blog posts by a range of interesting authors.  Check out the interesting article on Social Dominance by Mark Bekoff this week

Jenny the Bulldog

This Easter Weekend, a Bulldog named Ch Mellowmood One In A Million ‘Jenny’  won the Contest of Champion Showdogs.

This is a prestigious annual event hosted by the Canine Supporters Charity

It essentially makes Jenny a ‘Champion of champions’. 

Events this weekend are noteworthy because this Bulldog was one of the six dogs that were famously disqualified during the Vet Checks at Crufts in March this year, after being awarded Best of Breed.  

The public will no doubt be confused by this turn of events.    How can a dog disqualified on health grounds at Crufts,  go on to win such a high award?

Over on the Canine Alliance Facebook page,  that now boasts over 2,000 supporters,  there is widespread approval of Jenny’s success.  And on message boards around the dog community this ‘win’  is being hailed as ‘evidence’  that the new vet checks at Crufts are not working.

So is Jenny Healthy?

There have been reports that Jenny is a sure sign of progress in the Bulldog world with claims that she is less exaggerated than other Bulldog Champions in recent years.    So why was she disqualified at Crufts?

Surely either Jenny is healthy or she is not?   And if she can be awarded this prestigious title this weekend by an experienced judge,  then  she must be healthy,  right?

The problem is, that there are many different kinds of health check all designed for different purposes.   And because a dog passes one type of health check,  it does not mean that the dog is necessarily healthy.  Though of course it might well be.

The purpose of the Crufts vet checks

The vet checks at Crufts were designed with a very specific purpose in mind.  Their purpose is to prevent dogs with clinical problems arising from exaggerated conformation being given high awards.

If we accept the Crufts vet’s decision that Jenny does have clinical symptoms of this nature,  the vet checks introduced at Crufts have not yet fulfilled their purpose.   They will clearly need to be extended to cover this show and any others which offer such prestigious awards.

For it would appear that to win this award this weekend,  Jenny did not have to pass such a vet check.

No vet checks at this show?

According to various sources it would appear that there were no vet checks for clinical symptoms of  exaggerated conformation at the Show where Jenny won her latest title.

If these reports are true then Jenny’s win at this show does nothing at all to lessen, the concerns about her health raised by her failure to pass the Vet Check at Crufts in March.

Bearing this in mind, it is perhaps surprising that there is such widespread support for the success of this dog from within the show community without accompanying evidence, that the diagnosis of the clinical symptoms described in the original vet check have been overturned by another vet.

Veterinary opinion

The vet checks at Crufts this year were specifically designed to detect symptoms of clinical problems arising from exaggerations in conformation.  In other words they were designed to identify dogs that have been bred with exaggerations in body shape or form,  that make the dog uncomfortable or cause it pain.

Clinical symptoms

The term clinical symptoms is important, because whilst diagnoses, causes,  and prognoses might be a matter for opinion,  clinical symptoms are the measurable manifestations of a problem,  and as such are presumably a matter that most experts can agree on.

Either Jenny the Bulldog has clinical symptoms arising from exaggerations in conformation or she does not.

The vet who checked her over at Crufts believed that Jenny does have these symptoms.  Whilst it seems clear that some of the people on Canine Alliance Facebook page believe that Jenny does not.

Sadly, one of the outcomes of the Kennel Club’s controversial introduction in vet checks seems to have been the revelation that there is a widespread lack of faith in veterinary opinion throughout the show dog community.   It remains to be seen if and how this faith can be restored.

But for the most part the wider public does have faith in the veterinary profession and as a result may find this ‘celebration’ of Jenny’s success quite shocking.

The failure of the show community to address these public concerns with regard to exaggerated conformation in show dogs is ongoing.   And this weekend’s events may be seen as yet further evidence that the show dog community are willing to shelter and even publicly support breeders winning with dogs that have health problems,  rather than facing up to them.

The way forward?

If Jenny does have symptoms of clinical problems arising from exaggeration then all responsible breeders will all agree she should not be given an award.  In which case the KC will need to take steps to extend these checks of the fifteen high profile breeds to cover more dog shows.

If Jenny does not have these symptoms,  if the vet that examined Jenny at Crufts was mistaken.  Then for public support to be gained, the Canine Alliance needs to provide evidence from an unbiased vet that he or she specifically disagrees with the evidence provided by the vet who checked,  and failed,  Jenny at Crufts.

Evidence that she has passed many other types of health check is unfortunately not relevant to this debate which is specifically concerned with the question of clinical problems arising from exaggerations in conformation.

Without evidence that the opinion of the vet at Crufts has been overturned, it is difficult to see how the public’s confidence in both Jenny’s health,  and in the willingness of the CA supporters to face up to the problems of conformation exaggeration, can be restored.

Hopefully steps will soon be taken by the KC and the CA to resolve the situation and put and end to speculation.

Breeding dogs with deformities

Just like humans,  puppies are sadly occasionally born with deformities.    Facial deformities and deformities of the limbs and skeleton are some of the more common birth defects seen in both dogs and in people.

It is a tragic accident when a new life comes into this world without the ability to function normally like the rest of its species,  especially when the defect brings with it life long discomfort and multiple health problems.    How much more tragic it would be if society allowed dog owners to  engineer canine biology so that these defects were deliberately induced in our pet dogs.  

Sadly  this is exactly what has happened with some breeds of domestic dog in the world today.   Mutant dogs have been engineered by selectively breeding dogs with  deformities to other dogs with the same deformity,  in order to perpetuate and accentuate these physical defects.

Two of the most common deliberate defects that modern dog breeders have deliberately encouraged and selected for are Brachycephalic dogs,  and Achondroplastic dogs

Dogs that cannot breathe comfortably

Brachycephalic dogs have been bred with pushed in faces to give them a more flattened and human appearance.   In some cases, the pug is an example, the affected dogs have virtually no muzzle whatsoever.  This facial deformity results in severe malformation of the palate,  in narrowed nostrils and windpipes, and in many cases these in turn lead  to horrible respiratory problems which torment the dog throughout its entire life.  

Brachycephalic dogs also suffer from  eye problems (due to shallow sockets), overheating and birthing difficulties.    Their eyes can literally ‘pop’ out of their sockets and may get very sore because they cannot close them properly.   Some brachycephalic breeds can no longer give birth naturally due to their enlarged heads.

The degree of disability that comes with these deformities depends on how extreme the condition is in each breed it affects,  and may vary between individuals of the same breed.   The Pug is one of the worst affected dogs.  Other brachycephalic breeds you may have come across are the Pekinese,  the Bulldog,  and the Boxer

Dogs with shortened limbs

Achondroplasia is caused by a genetic mutation that causes dwarfism,  or very shortened legs.  This condition can arise spontaneously in any breed of dog.  However, in some breeds the condition has been selectively and deliberately bred for,  the dachshund is a well known example,  the welsh corgi another.  Achondroplasia is a serious deformity that is associated in dogs with a range of health problems,  including painful back and joint problems.

Welfare standards have changed

When these different dog breeds were first developed many years ago,  people paid a lot less attention to animal welfare.  Dogs  were generally either working animals,  or pets for the few wealthier members of society.   They were thought of as accessories or tools,  rather than respected.   Gradually over the last hundred years,  our attitudes towards dogs have been changing,  and this change has accelerated more recently.   Tremendous improvements have been made in animal welfare and we generally treat our pets a great deal better than our great-grandparents did.

Unfortunately the welfare of deliberately deformed dogs has ‘slipped through the net’  during this process,  and our modern breeding practices now need to ‘catch up’.   Hopefully the world’s dog breeders will soon get together to close this loophole in animal welfare.

How you can help

But in the meantime, you can play your part by refusing to buy a deliberately deformed puppy.   Every time anyone buys a puppy that is doomed to a life of pain and disability it encourages the breeder to breed again.

I hope that you will be able to pass on the message to your friends and family.   However cute these dogs may look it is important for the future of our dogs that we are not tempted to buy a brachycephalic dogs or any breed of dog that has been deliberately afflicted with achondroplasia.

And what about you?   Do you own a brachycephalic dog?  Are you tempted to buy one? Let us have your point of view

The Kennel Club releases a film on dog health

Those of you that have followed the Kennel Club’s progress in addressing the issue’s raised by Jemima Harrison’s Pedigree Dogs Exposed film may be interested to view the KC’s latest attempt to prove that they are doing their best for dog health.   The film is entitled Dogs – A Healthy Future

Those of you that have followed the Kennel Club’s progress in addressing the issue’s raised by Jemima Harrison’s Pedigree Dogs Exposed film may be interested to view the KC’s latest attempt to prove that they are doing their best for dog health.   The film is entitled Dogs – A Healthy Future

Initially the film focuses on canine health problems that arise incidentally.  Including diseases like hip dysplasia.

Though they may be more prevalent in closely bred dogs these conditions (genetic diseases) were never intended to arise and the Kennel Club is putting a great deal of effort into researching new means of diagnosis, prevention and cure.

Later in the film the problems of deliberately induced (through breeding for poor conformation) health problems such as those found in bulldogs, and Neapolitan mastiffs,  are discussed.    In this respect the film was less encouraging.

The film acknowledges that there is still some way to go to change those breeds which are in poor shape,   but sadly for the dogs it appears that the Kennel Club is happy with the current pace of change,  and fails to recognize the potential extent of its own powers.

For example the Kennel Club chairman states that ‘The KC cannot force breed clubs to change things’ .   He suggests that an attempt to do so would make breed clubs ‘do their own thing’.   A outcome which many would consider to be most unlikely.

What do you think of the film?  Have the Kennel Club addressed the issues effectively?   Should the Kennel Club be looking at ‘out crossing’  breeds like pugs and bulldogs to restore some muzzle.  Could they be doing more and doing it faster?

Ancestry DNA tests for dogs

Curious to know about your dog’s ancestry.  Well you need guess no longer!  A DNA test is now commercially available that could reveal a great  deal about your dog’s past.  The test is available in several different kits depending on the category your dog falls into.

Who might use the test?

Owners of rescue dogs, curious to know their ancestry,  owners of ‘designer dogs’  wishing to check that their dog is an F1 hybrid (first cross between two pure-bred parents)  Owners of purebred dogs without papers, that wish to check their dog really is purebred.

In fact anyone interested to know the ancestry of their dog,  whether out of general curiosity or out of a need to confirm a suspicion of some sort.

What use is this knowledge?

The test is not just for the paranoid.  The makers claim that it gives the owners of mixed breed dogs valuable information about the ideal weight for their dog when adult,  and the best way to feed and train him.

It can also alert owners to potential health risks related to the breeds identified in his genetic make-up

I suspect that the most of those using the test will simply be curious.  You can follow this link to the maker’s website

Pedigree dogs exposed 3 years on: what do people think?

I watched the Pedigree Dogs Exposed Three years on with great interest and have followed some of the online conversations that the programme has generated,   and read the comments on Jemima’s blog.

Jemima Harrison has been the target of a lot of abuse,  much of it from those that claim to be pedigree dog breeders.

Reading through the comments and forum posts, there seem to be two principle and genuine concerns from pedigree breeders

Breeders claim that  Jemima Harrison

Is denigrating all pedigree dog breeders
Is driving people to buy mongrels
Is Jemima Harrison attacking all pedigree breeders?

As an occasional pedigree dog breeder myself,  I have to say, it never occurred to me when I saw the first programme, to feel personally attacked.  Perhaps I would have felt differently if I were making a living from breeding dogs.   But then most of the breeders attacking Jemima claim that they are not breeding dogs for pound notes…

I do not feel that Jemima is attacking all dog breeders,  though she is asking us to question the effects that continuing with closed registry breeding may have in the long term.    It seems to me that the PDE campaign has focused primarily on dogs whose breed standards have got them into trouble.

Is Jemima’s PDE campaign driving more people to buy mongrels?

One breeder told me that PDE definitely caused a drop in dog registrations.  If so that may be sad for breeders.   But on the other hand,  PDE definitely forced the KC to reform some of its breed standards and in theory,  that should be great for dogs.

I believe that KC registrations did take a dip after the first PDE programme took place,  but that they also recovered fairly quickly.   This would suggest that overall,  people are still buying pedigree dogs in the same numbers.

It also begs the question,  does it matter if people buy dogs that are not purebred?  I am not so sure anymore,  that it does.   Of course it matters that puppies are raised and socialised appropriately, and that proper precautions are taken when cross-breeding dogs whose parentage offers a risk of conditions that we can now screen for.   Many so-called ‘designer dog’  breeders are now hip scoring their breeding stock,  so presumably the message that cross-bred dogs can get sick too,  is now getting through.

There were some other issues that breeders raised that I felt were less genuine concerns, and more attempts to deflect attention from their own shortcomings.  And these were

Why isn’t JH campaigning against puppy farms
Why doesn’t JH publicise all the good things that pedigree breeders do
Why doesn’t JH publicise all the good things that the Kennel Club has done
The Kennel Club should not have to police its breeders

1 Why isn’t Jemima Harrison campaigning against puppy farms

This is akin to asking someone why they are raising money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and suggesting that they should be raising money for the Sailors Families Society instead.    These are both charities concerned with protecting seafarers and their families, but in different ways.    Asking someone to stop working for one worthy cause and switch to another is a very odd and pointless tactic.  We all chose our own causes to champion.   If you don’t  like one,  then don’t support it.

2 Why doesn’t Jemima Harrison publicise all the good things that pedigree breeders do?

There is no doubt that good breeders are a great asset to the new puppy buyer.  They often provide a lifetime’s support for their buyers and will take a puppy back at any time if the buyer fall into difficult circumstances.   Buying a pedigree puppy gives you assurances about final size, appearance and some abilities that you can never have if you purchase a mongrel.   These are important facts.

But I am not sure why breeders would expect JH to promote them.  I certainly don’t expect her to promote me when I breed a litter of puppies.    Nor do pedigree breeders have a monopoly on good breeding practice.    But if anyone should be promoting pedigree dog breeders then it should be the Kennel Club, not Jemima Harrison.

3 Why doesn’t Jemima Harrison publicise all the good things the KC has done since the last PDE

Actually she does, and did in the new PDE programme.   She also notes that some of the changes that the KC have introduced, such as changes in breed standards,  have simply not been implemented by its judges.   People are still breeding from Cavalier King Charles Spaniels despite the widespread and serious health conditions present to some extent in a high proportion of breeding stock.  The KC had the power to stop this.  And they did not use it.   We could turn the question back the other way,  and ask ‘why doesn’t the KC say the good things that PDE has achieved, such as encouraging the KC to stop brother sister matings,  and to improve breed standards?’  It works both ways.

4 The Kennel Club should not have to ‘police’ its breeders

A number of breeders have said that the KC should not have to ‘police’ its breeders.   Of all the above statements I think this is the silliest.  The Kennel Club is a registry.   There is no point in being on a register unless that membership of that register means something.

Every registry has standards, and it is up to the registering body to enforce or ‘police’ those standards as so many breeders put it.   The normal way of enforcing standards on a register is to remove, or refuse admission to, applicants that do not meet its standards.

The Kennel Club itself has stated that it wants the government to intervene in controlling dog breeding,  a quite bizarre aim from a registering body that already holds the ultimate power to withhold or grant registration to every pedigree dog born in this country.  

Confusingly, the KC clearly accepts it does have a responsibility to  ‘police’ its register,  as it already enforces some of the standards it has set down.  For example, you can no longer register puppies from a brother/sister mating.   It would appear that the KC took the step of refusing registration to the offspring of brother/sister matings after the publicity that accompanied PDE the first time around.  

Taking this step is clear evidence that the KC is well aware of its responsibilities to ‘police’  standards in dog breeding and dog welfare.

This is the Kennel Club in action,  doing what it should be doing to protect puppy buyers from disaster and to promote the improvement of dogs which it claims as a priority.   Having taken this step,  what is needed now is many more steps in this direction.   But I am not holding my breath

Where do we go from here?

I do not have the answers to this one!  I am interested to see what the next step in Jemima’s campaign will be.  How about you?  Do you feel breeders concerns are justified?   Would you like to see the KC take more action to enforce standards?

You may also be interested in the following articles : Breeding dogs with disabilities  and:  Why do breeders oppose Jemima Harrison’s campaign?

Stem cell therapy progress helps dogs

I am seeing more and more articles about stem cell therapy being used successfully to treat dogs with arthritis.

Only last month Robert Harman DVM  chief executive of Vet-Stem ,  announced on his blog that over 8,000 animals had now been treated  with Vet Stem cell therapy.

Vet-Stem is a company developing these treatments for dogs and other animals in the USA.

Arthritis can be a crippling and very painful condition,  and there have been some favourable reports on the effects of these treatments.  Here is one from Australia

The stem cells are collected from the dog’s own body fat by his vet.  The  adult stem cells are isolated and concentrated in the laboratory and then returned  to the dog’s vet to be injected into the affected area.

‘Red’  a twelve year old Labrador and one of the last surviving search and rescue dogs to take part in the 9/11 disaster,  is a recent patient.    You can read about her on the Fox News website.  Hopefully she will join the many other dogs who are getting some relief from this exciting new treatment.

Vet Checks: the answer to extreme dog breeding

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the purpose and scope of the Vet Checks introduced at Crufts this year.

This article aims to clear up some of that confusion by looking at the origins and aims of these new checks. For many years, those that care for and about dogs, have deplored the exaggerated conformation of some of our dog breeds.

Way back in 1981 an article entitled ‘The Things we Do to Dogs’ by Simon Wolfenson was published in the New Scientist on this very topic. Here is the opening sentence: The squashed face of the Peke, the drooping eye and the long back of the Bassett, the giant size of the Great Dane – careful breeding perpetuates the special features of pedigree dogs in ever more exaggerated form.

Going back even further when I was a child in the 1960s I remember my mother and our vet deploring the state of Pekes and Pugs as they struggled to breath and pant effectively. This is nothing new.

Yet throughout the generations, the views of the average dog owner has been largely ignored. We have been expected to leave breeding to those that ‘know best’ ie, the breeders themselves.

And then along came Jemima Harrison with her hard hitting film Pedigree Dogs Exposed. Concerns about pedigree dogs swept the nation. And as a result, after losing the support of the BBC and its coverage of Crufts, the Kennel Club began to sit up and listen to what people were saying.

Changes to breed standards

In 2009 the Kennel Club proposed a raft of changes to the breed standards of many exaggerated dogs. Many of these changes were adopted, and a now interested public began to watch for a resulting change in the type of dogs being given awards at high profile shows.

There have no doubt been changes in the ways that some breeds are ‘judged’ as a result, but in other breeds it seems clear that the new breed standards have not been taken as seriously as was intended by the Kennel Club. It was time to get tough.

The introduction of vet checks

Determined to ‘get it right’ this time, the Kennel Club has launched a system of vet checks to take place at Championship dog shows.

The purpose of these very focused checks is specifically to search for clinical problems that have arisen as a result of exaggerations in conformation.

Because the checks are specifically concerned with exaggerated conformation, dogs belonging to the many breeds that are not susceptible to exaggeration do not need to be tested. This avoids expensive and unnecessary testing of dogs that do not have a problem. Fifteen High Profile breeds were chosen to be included in the new tests at launch.

This is a unique and clever approach. Unlike any health test previously introduced, it deals ‘head on’ with the problem of exaggerated conformation and the health issues generated by that problem.

But these dogs are already health tested aren’t they?

The failure to discriminate between existing health tests and the new vet checks is causing a lot of confusion. Many pedigree dogs are subjected to a raft of different health checks.

Eyes are checked for retinal problems and glaucoma, hips for poor bone formation, elbows the same. We have tests for diseases like CNM and of course dogs can be checked for soundness of movement, heart and so on.

But none of these previous health tests has addressed the issue of conformation exaggeration. In the past this shortcoming has led to dogs winning high profile awards when they are clearly uncomfortable or even in pain, as a direct result of their poor and exaggerated conformation.

Times change

Thirty of forty years ago, people took little notice of how dogs were treated. Training methods were harsh, and many dogs lived a fairly low quality existence. Nowadays we treat our dogs a great deal more kindly and compassionately.

Times have changed and people are no longer content to turn a blind eye to dogs that are bred with the grotesque wrinkles of extreme Neopolitan Mastiffs, the flattened faces of Pekes and Pugs, and the withered rear ends of the show German Shepherd.

It is just not appropriate anymore.

Change is hard

The new vet checks have undoubtedly upset a lot of show dog exhibitors. Some of these have formed an organisation called the Canine Alliance, and representatives of the CA met recently with the Kennel Club to put their grievances and demand the suspension of the new vet checks.

The Kennel Club has stood firm, and refused to suspend the new system.

Exhibitors in those breeds where unacceptable levels of exaggeration have taken place, will now need to decide on where their future lays. Some will probably give up showing.

Others will learn to adapt and breed dogs with a better conformation. Change is always hard, but these changes are designed with the benefit of dogs in mind, not exhibitors.

A better future for dogs

I find it exciting to consider that in the years to come we may now see Pekinese and Pugs with real muzzles, Bassett Hounds with tight eyes, and legs that give them a bit of ground clearance.

We may soon see Neopolitan Mastiffs, with a skin they can be comfortable in, winning dogs shows. And I am sure there will be more benefits to follow.

Both the Kennel Club and Jemima Harrison are to be congratulated. The Kennel Club for standing firm in the face of some determined opposition, and Jemima for being the catalyst behind many of these changes with her ground breaking film.

I very much hope vet checks are here to stay. Hopefully my beloved working labradors and cockers will never become so exaggerated that they need to be on the list. But if they do suffer from extremes of breeding, it is great to know that this system of vet checks is in place to protect them.

Crufts: a good weekend for dogs

This weekend has seen an extraordinary and unprecedented development in the history of dog showing,  as several dogs awarded Best of Breed certificates at the world’s most famous dog show were disqualified for health reasons by the examining veterinary surgeon.

A brave step

We  should not underestimate the magnitude of what the Kennel Club has set in motion this weekend.  Showing at Crufts represents the pinnacle of a show dog’s career and means everything to the breeders taking part.   The KC’s actions this weekend represents a new and brave willingness to enforce breed standards in the most challenging of circumstances.

And well done  to the KC for taking this stand which will no doubt cause them a lot of grief in the short term.   We can only hope that they follow this up firmly at future shows, and do not waver in the face of the inevitable backlash from angry and disappointed breeders who have seen the ultimate prize snatched from their hands.

The KC will be placed under a massive amount of pressure now to reverse this new system,  not only from breeders,  but also from the experienced judges who must feel humiliated by having awarded these certificates to dogs that vets subsequently found to fall short of the health standards expected of them.

Let’s support the KC in their stand!

The next few weeks and months will be tough for the Kennel Club.   If you want to see them stand firm on the actions they have taken this week,  let them know they have your support.  You can find their contact details here: contact the Kennel Club  and their Facebook Wall  here.

Well done Jemima

Well done to Jemima Harrison who can now see some concrete evidence of the success of her long and determined Pedigree Dogs Exposed campaign taking shape.    You can read more detail about the weekend’s events on her blog.

The photo at the top of this page is enlarged from a picture on Jemima’s PDE website.   It is not an ulcer or a wound,  it is the eye of a show winning Neopolitan Mastiff.   This weekend has shown that the KC is no longer willing to tolerate judges that turn a blind eye to ectropion, and other health issues that are endemic in some breeds.

Well done vets

The vets who carried out these checks and took the decision to disqualify dog after dog on health grounds have more than their fair share of courage.   They too deserve our support and thanks

It has been a good weekend for the future of our pedigree dogs.