Bringing Home Baby

You’ve seen them; little bundles of joy, 8 weeks old, covered in fur, big eyes peaking out at you and taking everything in. Maybe you were passing the pet store in the mall and a sign with big bold letters read “Puppy Sale.” Or maybe you were walking into a department store and sitting in the hot parking lot was a family of five with a box marked “Free Puppies.” Either way, you were hooked. You can’t say no to those big brown eyes so you take the little fluff ball home with you.

Congratulations, you just made common mistake number one! Animals should never be an impulse item. Animals are Sentient beings capable of emotions, the ability to feel pain, and unique personalities and traits. All dogs are individuals, but within breeds you may see certain traits that are common characteristics of the breed. Before getting a dog, sit down and ask ask yourself these questions:

Do I have time for a puppy?

Do you like sleep? Too bad, you’ll be getting up every few hours to let the puppy out unless you litter train him. Want to go on vacation to Barbados? You’d better find some one to watch Fido for a week. Enjoy your spare time? A lot of it will be spent training Rex and taking him on a  2-4 mile round trip walk. Puppies are a lot of work, if you don’t have the time to meet everyone of her needs then you had better not get her. But that’s okay, guinea pigs make fun pets too. Try that instead.
Do I have the money for a puppy?
There is no way around it, puppy’s cost money. That first year you are going to be dropping major bank on supplies, food, veterinary care, training and even replacements for destroyed household items. If you can not afford a dog then don’t get a dog. It is illegal, not to mention unethical, to get a dog and not care for him. If you can not meet Rover’s needs then he is better off without you. But hey, goldfish are cheap.
What breed is right for me?

Okay, we’ve established that you have the time and money to take care of a little puppy, now you need to decide which one is right for you. If you are a marathon runner maybe you want a running mate? An athletic Pit bull Terrier may make an excellent jogging buddy, an English Bulldog would not. Say you are a couch potato who considers going to the kitchen for a soda to be a week’s worth of exercise. A Boxer would be the wrong kind of dog for you, but a Pug may be right up your alley. Got four kids? A rambunctious Lab may have the energy to keep up with small children. Do your homework and really research what breed of dog is right for you, but remember that these are guidelines only. All dogs are different, even within a breed standard.

Finding your dog

Pound Puppies:

Congratulations, you saved a life! Every day shelters in America are forced to kill 30,000 dogs and cats. The life of the dog you saved could turn out to be your very best friend. Older dogs know that you rescued them from a bad situation and many bond stronger with you than if they came from a breeder. Adopting a pound puppy is an excellent option, but it is not without its disadvantages. Older dogs may have ‘baggage,’ older dogs and puppies may have minor health problems such as malnutrition, worms or other parasites. Fortunately, these minor health problems are usually pretty easy to fix.

When adopting from a shelter, unless you are adopting an ‘owner surrender’  it is unlikely you will know anything about the dogs back story; where he came from, how he’s been treated, etc. The breed of dog may also be a surprise. I once trained a dog that weighed 30lbs, the dog was a pound puppy and was adopted out as a chihuahua! Shelter workers and volunteers make their best guesses, but in the end, that’s all it is– Guesswork.

Getting a mixed breed from a pound can have the advantage of not developing breed specific illnesses, but if you have your mind set on a purebred dog, take heart. A quarter of all pound puppies are purebred. There are also Breed Rescues that cater to certain specific breeds.


If you are going to adopt a dog from a breeder then do your homework. Many breeders are backyard breeders out to make a quick buck. These irresponsible breeders will not do background checks for hereditary health issues, they won’t screen potential owners and many of them will get rid of the puppy before it is developmentally ready. Never get a puppy if she is under 8 weeks old. 8 weeks should be the minimum age you take the dog home.

Not all breeders are irresponsible, some do it out of love for the breed and a genuine love of animals. Look for a breeder who has done hereditary checks and who screens potential owners. Look at the price of the dog, a healthy dog from a reputable breeder is going to cost you a mint. But it’s worth it to know that you got a healthy pup. Look at the home of the breeder.

-Is it clean?
-Are there too many dogs there?
-Does the dame look friendly and healthy?
-Are the puppies eyes clean and bright?
-Is the puppies skin elastic?
-Are the puppies active and curious?
-Is the anus free of fecal matter?
-Are the yard and kennel odor free?

If you answered ‘no’ to just one of these questions then get the dog elsewhere. I don’t care how attached you are to the cute little brown one, or that you drove 30 miles just to get there. Don’t support bad breeders. It could be that the health and well being of your dog that is at stake. A good breeder makes very little profit on the dogs, even on a dog you paid several hundred dollars for. This is because so much is put into the care and well being of the puppy before he leaves the home. A good breeder will make you sign a waiver saying that you will return the dog to them if things don’t work out.

Puppy Mills:

There is no nice way to say this so I’m just going to be blunt. Don’t get a dog from a puppy mill. Just don’t do it. There is no excuse to support puppy mill operators. If you want to help those dogs then call the authorities or the Humane Society. Puppy Mills are a business, run strictly for profit. Dogs are kept in deplorable environments; deprived of comfort, human interaction, and canine interaction. Puppies often leave the puppy mills with serious health and behaviour problems. Female breeding stock are kept caged and continually bred for years. When she has outlived her usefulness she is then killed, abandoned or sold to another mill.

Pet stores:

Pet stores almost always get their puppies from puppy mills. They may try to dress it up and tell you about the “farm” that the puppy was lovingly raised on, but the truth is that even the fanciest pet store in the nicest part of town got their dogs from puppy mills. The puppies go straight from the mill to the store and miss out on a crucial socialization period. They are often sold with little to no thought about their health and well being. Many have health and behaviour issues brought about by lack of socialization. The puppies are sold to the consumer and it becomes their problem. Pet stores often have “guarantees” on their puppies promising replacement puppies if yours suddenly dies. They are able to do this because the markup is so high. Every dog purchased from a pet store encourages the store and the puppy mill to continue the endless cycle of abuse.

Bringing Home Baby

Introducing Dogs and Children

Children and dogs can be the best of friends. However, it is wise to go slowly. Many dogs can find the high pitched squeals and quick movements of children to be rather scary. Some children can find the rambunctious playfulness of some puppies to be intimidating. With patience, most dogs and children can be taught to enjoy each other, they often form deep bonds that stay with them long into adulthood.

Introducing Children to a New Dog

Introducing Dogs and Children

Step 1: Before you even get the dog, you should teach the child the right way to pet a dog. Once the child understands that the best way to approach a dog is in a calm manner, then you can take him to meet the potential puppy. Walk the child through the right way to greet and pet a dog. Several times, if necessary.

Step 2: “A bribe is a charm to the one who gives it; where ever he turns, he succeeds.” (Proverbs 17:8) When the dog and child meet for the first time, instruct the child to give the dog a treat. Make sure that your child is holding the treat under the dogs head and that his palm is flat. It is much safer for the dog to lick the treat off a child’s hand than it is for him to try to grab it with his teeth.

Step 3: Ensure that both the child and the puppy feel that there is an escape route. Cornered animals can be dangerous!

Step 4: If the child is fearful and the dog is excitable, keep the dog on a leash. This way the child will feel that he has an escape route.  If the dog gets too rambunctious, you can lead him out side until he calms down. Several times, if necessary. Go slowly, for sake of the kid and the dog.

Step 5: Make sure that the dog has a “den” (i.e. a crate or other preferred hiding place) that he can hide in when he gets too overwhelmed.

Step 6: Let sleeping dogs lie. Children need to be taught not to pet dogs when they are eating or sleeping.

Introducing a Dog to a New Baby

If you have a new baby, you want to give your dog some time to adjust to the sudden and drastic changes that will soon disrupt his tidy little routine. You had nine months to prepare for your little bundle of joy, but this will be all new to your dog.

Step 1: When you find out that you are expecting, set down some new rules and begin enforcing them before the baby comes. Not after. This way, his new routine will be set when the baby comes and the change won’t seem as drastic. Whether or not he is allowed to jump, if he is no longer allowed in certain rooms, etc. should all be established before the baby comes home.

Step 2: Teaching the dog a “move” or “back” command will be very useful when the mothers arms are holding the baby or when baby is old enough to crawl. This way nobody trips over a dog and becomes injured.

Step 3: Get your dog used to baby sounds. Babies aren’t quiet. They gurgle, they squeal, they scream and cry and all of this sounds unusual to dogs who aren’t used to kids. More alarming, some of the sounds that babies make can even sound like prey! It is very important that your dog is used to these noises long before the baby comes home. Some pet stores and many online stores sell c.d.s of baby noises that can be really helpful in habituating Rover to little Jr.

Step 4: Gather your dogs toys and put them in their own little toy chest. Dog toys and children’s toys look very much alike, and many dogs get confused over who’s toy belongs to whom. Teach Fido that his toys only come from his toy chest.

Step 5: Before you bring the baby into your home, let the dog sniff the blanket that the baby was wrapped in. Getting your dog used to the little one’s smells will make the greeting easier for him. When mom comes home, have someone else hold the baby so she can greet the dog. He will be very happy to see her and in the excitement, you don’t want the baby to be injured. Once he has settled down, let him sniff the baby.

Step 6: Don’t forget your dog. Once that baby comes, your house is going to be turned on end. Make sure that you still have a bit of time to devote to giving Rex his mental and physical exercise. Set reminders to let the dog out to do his business. If you are not meeting your dog’s needs, then he will look for stimulation elsewhere. Don’t blame it on “Jealousy,” this is just what happens when a dog’s needs aren’t met. Doggy Day Camps or professional dog walkers can all help lighten your load. If you have older children, they can be a big help to you as well.

Never leave a dog and baby unattended. Ever. Accidents happen, no matter how sweet and trustworthy the dog or the baby is. There is very little room for error on this. Always supervise infant and dog interaction.

Introducing Dogs and Children


Lay people have acknowledged for hundreds of years that animals have consciousness. We see it when a dog or cat is trying to figure out a new stimulus. We see it when they dream. When a dog sleeps, he may rapidly move his paws, he may whimper, you see his eyes rapidly moving back and forth and we can see that he is in the deep stages of REM. We know that he is dreaming, but we may not know what he is dreaming about. The very fact that he is dreaming proves his sentience. If you have no consciousness, then you can’t dream.


Over the last hundred years or so, science has begun catching up to what most people already knew. Animals are sentient beings. It seems absurd to the average dog owner, but scientists are uncomfortable with the idea of consciousness in animals. If an animal is aware of his surroundings and can feel pain, then blinding him with cosmetics in test studies suddenly seems more cruel. Accepting that animals are conscious beings went against previously held beliefs and conventional wisdom at the time. Realizing that animals are conscious beings meant developing and testing new theories. However, science is now accepting the fact that animals have feelings. According to Dr Jaak Panskepp, a neuroscientist at  Washington State University, animals are capable of these core emotions;

Seeking, Rage, Fear, Panic, Lust, Care and Play.

These “generate well-organized behaviour sequences that can be evoked by localized electrical stimulation of the brain.” Translation; if you stimulate the brain system for one emotion you will always get the same behaviour.

Seeking: According to Panskepp, seeking “Is the basic impulse to search, investigate, and make sense of the environment.” Seeking is a combination of curiosity, wanting something really good and anticipating it. Seeking drives a tiger to stalk his prey, it’s the reason ants farm aphids for nectar, it’s why beavers build dams so elaborate that they change northern topography.

Seeking is why humans desire to learn, it is also why we desire shiny objects. We are always looking for something we don’t yet have. Seeking is a very pleasurable emotion, it is tied to anticipation. Sometimes looking forward to getting something is just as good or even better than actually getting it.

Rage: This is a very basic emotion, one that even newborns experience. It occurs when the subcortical area of the brain is stimulated. Frustration is a mild form of rage that is caused by physical or mental restraint. (This is why keeping dogs constantly tethered can be so damaging and even dangerous.)

Fear: Fear is located in the subcortex of the brain, in this lies the amygdala, or fear center of the brain. Animals feel fear when their survival is threatened in one way or another. When the amygdala is damaged, fear is gone. There are reports of wild animals becoming very tame after damaging the amygdala.

Panic: According to Panskepp, panic is related to the social attachment system. It is likely that the panic system evolved from physical pain. Dogs who experience separation anxiety are literally experiencing pain when they fear that their pack will not return.

Lust: Without lust there will be extinction. Lust is sexual desire and is very necessary for species survival. Lust is instinctual and unless an animal has been altered in some way, there is no suppressing this instinct. People who have had intact animals have no doubt noticed the lengths that an animal will go to to fulfill these desires.

Care: Care refers to the maternal love that an animal feels for its young.


Play: Play is located in the subcortex. Science can not yet explain play, though it is thought to be a sign of good welfare. Play is something that the young of most mammals engage in. By playing, animal young are able to practice fighting, food gathering and fornication. Skills that will serve them well into adulthood. Play is something that young animals leave behind when they enter adulthood; with two exceptions: dogs and humans. Humans and dogs are the only animals who continue to play as adults. Dogs are the juvenile forms of wolves. They share much of the same DNA, but never fully grow into adulthood. Humans share much of the same DNA as chimps. Based on that, there is a theory that humans are the juvenile forms of chimpanzees. Humans grew smarter, but never really grew up. While I can not say for sure whether or not this theory is correct, I’m sure it needs much more testing and observation, I find it fascinating nonetheless.

These core emotions, found in all mammals (including humans) and birds, come from the same systems in the brain. When experts dissect brains or study them in x-rays, it is very difficult to tell the difference between the Hindbrain and Limbic systems of a human’s brain and an animal’s. Humans have a larger, more fully developed neocortex. The neocortex controls higher, consecutive functions. Primates, Dolphins, and possibly elephants have a neocortex, though a humans is larger. The frontal lobe, located in the neocortex, controls reasoning, judgment, problem solving and impulse control. The neocortex is where we differ from most animals. Most animals have a Limbic system of the brain, the Limbic system controls the emotions.

Ian Duncan, professor of Animal Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, notes a time line on animal sentience, public and scientific awareness of sentience, and welfare. Starting in the Renaissance among the populace and in the 1800s among scientists and philosophers. Scientific study of sentience lagged in the mid 1900s but picked up again with a vengeance towards the latter part of the century.  It got to the point where some scientists were attributing the same complex emotions in animals from dolphins to butterflies! This led to a negative backlash, where once again, scientists were afraid to mention sentience at all. We are now in a period where it has leveled off again. We recognize that, because of the limbic system, animals and humans are capable of the same basic emotions.

If we understand how animals feel, then we can better understand their needs and how to meet them.  A handful of dedicated researchers have spent years teaching sign language to gorillas and language comprehension to parrots, both with great success. This has opened up a previously unknown world of animal minds. It is really exciting to me to see where this will lead.

Treaty of Lisbon

On 1 December 2009, European Union members ratified the Treaty of Lisbon, which grants legal status to animals by virtue of sentience. This is huge as it now offers European animals greater standards in welfare. Live animals used for experiments must now be spared pain in every stage from transportation through the experiment and even until the death of the animal. Animals must now be constantly monitored for stress and the environment must meet all the animals needs. Scientists are also looking for more viable non-animal models to test on.
1 December 2009 was a big day for European animals!


Spaying and Neutering

Some people are squeamish about altering their dogs. Some feel that it would change their dogs. Some are sensitive about doing something to their dog that they wouldn’t do to themselves. And some people can’t afford it.

Spaying and Neutering

Health benefits

Females who have been spayed before their first heat are less likely to develop mammary or

ovarian cancer.

Males who have been neutered will not develop testicular cancer and are less likely to develop

prostate cancer or have benign tumors on their rectum.

Behavioural  advantages

It is a myth that dogs who have been altered will become calmer and better behaved. That will only come with training and lifestyle changes. However, spaying and neutering will solve those problems related to the sex drive. Both male and female dogs will be less likely to escape and roam for purposes of procreation. Neutering male dogs can cut down on male -on- male aggression, as an intact male will not recognize an altered dog as another male, thus will not feel threatened by him.

The number one reason to spay or neuter

Every minute in the United States 6 dogs or a cats are

euthanized in shelters. Breeding your dog will only add to those statistics.

If you can’t afford the surgery, some vets or shelters are willing to help defray the costs, there are also organizations that can help. Ask your local vet or shelter what organizations are in your area.

Made In North America

This Website was Made In North America.

Made In North America

There has been a lot of concern lately about food coming out of China, and with good reason. Many of the recalls in recent years have involved food imported from Asia, and especially China. Many Americans and Europeans are opting to eschew foreign goods in favour of domestic made products. This is partly to support local economies and largely out of concern for proper quality control.

Alas, finding food that is 100% China-free is harder than it sounds. Some labels that claim “Made in USA” only mean that they were assembled here, from parts made or grown elsewhere. Legally, for a product to carry the “Made in America” label, the product must be made in America. There are no rules in place regarding the individual parts of a product. If Mary’s Premium Dog Food has a Made in America tag, it only means that it was assembled there.

The sad news is, that many food ingredients are made in China, especially vitamins. The odds are high that if you buy a product with these vitamins in it, it came from China. China is the largest importer of pet food ingredients in the U.S.

While I can’t guarantee that a product is 100% made in America with 100% all American made parts, I can provide a helpful list of dog foods and treats that bear the Made in the USA label. Who knows? Maybe if enough people make enough noise we may see some genuine change. Businesses are about profits. If the money trail begins with domestic products, there will be a greater demand for said product and thus a greater supply. One can only hope.

Made In North America

All foods made exclusively with U.S. ingredients except where stated otherwise.

Dog Food

-4 Health Dog Food

-Abady Dog Food Company

-All American Pet Company

-Artemis Holistic Pet Food (All foods from U.S except lamb from New Zealand)

-Aunt Jeni’s

-Azmira Holistic Animal Care Products (All foods from U.S. except lamb from New Zealand and sea meal from Scotland)

-Back to Basics

-Bench and Field

-Blackwood Pet Food (All ingredients from U.S. except lamb from New Zealand)

-Blue Buffalo (All ingredients from U.S. except lamb from New Zealand)

-Blue Seal

-Bone Vivant

-Bravo Raw Diet (Products from U.S. except lamb, venison and beef which are imported from New Zealand and Australia)

-Burns Pet Health


-Canine Caviar (All ingredients from U.S. except lamb from New Zealand)

-Champion Petfoods. Ltd (Made in Canada, except rice from U.S. and lamb from New Zealand)

-Cloud Star

-Dad’s Pet Food

-Diamond Pet Foods (American and Canadian ingredients)

-Dynamite Speciality Products

-Evangers (All ingredients from U.S. except lamb from New Zealand or Australia)

-First Mate Pet Food (All ingredients from U.S. and Canada except lamb from New Zealand)

-Flint River Ranch

-Grandma Lucy’s

-Great Life

-Halo Purely for Pets

-Happy Dog Food

-Healthy Pet Products

-Holistic Blend (Made in Canada except lamb from New Zealand)

-Homestyle Select

-Kirklands Signature Blend (Made in U.S. and Canada)


-Merrick Pet Foods


-Muenster Milling Company (Made in U.S. except flaxseed from Canada)

-Natura Pet Products

-Natures Logic (Some ingredients are from Canada, France, New Zealand and Norway)

-Natures Recipe

-Nutram Pet Products (Made in Canada except lamb from New Zealand and herbs and vitamins from Europe)

-PHD Products (All ingredients from U.S. except lamb from New Zealand)

-Plato Pet Treats (Made in U.S. except some preservatives from Europe and Glucosamine from India)

-Primal Pet Foods (All ingredients from U.S. except lamb and venison from New Zealand)

-ProPac Superpremium Pet Foods (All ingredients from U.S. except lamb from New Zealand or Australia and Flaxseed from Canada)

-Rudy Green’s Doggy Cuisine

-Solid Gold Health Food for Pets (All ingredients from U.S. except lamb from New Zealand and potato protein from Europe)

-Sportmix Pet Food (All ingredients from U.S. except lamb from New Zealand and flaxseed from Canada)

-Steve’s Real Food Inc.

-Three Dog Bakery

-Tuffy’s Pet Food

-VeRUS Pet Foods (All ingredients from U.S. except lamb from New Zealand)


Honourable Mention

-ZiwiPeak, Ltd (All ingredients from New Zealand)

While not made in North America, ZiwiPeak gets a nod for not being made in Asia

Made In North America

Note: All foods listed here comes from research dated 16 May, 2012. All foods listed were made with U.S. ingredients except where mentioned otherwise. Food with negligible ingredients from China did not make this list. However, as stated above, the likelihood of any food being completely free of Chinese ingredients is slim. This list is to merely provide a jumping point for people looking for American made dog food, A Dog’s View does not endorse any product on this list. If you have any questions or concerns about any product listed, please contact your manufacture.

Common Behavioural Problems

One thing that people HAVE to realize in order to have a healthy relationship with their dog is that morality is a human concept. Dogs are not “good” or “bad,” neither are they capable of “revenge.” Dogs are only capable of understanding  “is this beneficial, is this harmful or is this neutral?” Dogs are like humans in that they will do what benefits them. The trick is to make sure that actions become mutually beneficial. We have to understand a dogs underlying reason for engaging in certain behaviours.


Let us get real here, nobody likes an excessively barking dog. Barking is a dogs warning system and a dog is the best alarm system you’re ever going to have. You want the dog to bark once, but hush when you tell her to. To begin, you want to remember that excessive barking could result from an under exercised dog. The average dog needs an hour or two of aerobic exercise daily depending on the breed. If your dog is not getting that, then he may bark to relieve the mind crushing boredom that comes from staring at the inside of your living room or the back yard all day.

So you’re giving him proper exercise and he’s still barking, by now it may be an established habit. So all you have to do is break the habit. Teach him “hush.” To teach a dog hush, when he barks say “hush” then click and treat. Eventually, when he is performing consistently, say “hush”, but don’t click and treat every time. Once he knows a command, make him wonder when the reward will occur.

If your dog is barking at stimulus that he sees indoors or outdoors, you may want to block his view. Move furniture or plant foliage or cover windows so he can no longer constantly see your neighbors cat, child or whatever is causing the barking.


Do not use shock collars to teach a dog not to bark. Many of these have serious health and behaviour risks associated with them. Many of the behaviour problems will manifest itself in different ways that may necessitate more drastic measures thus continuing the cycle. Further, dogs know who put the collar on them, so a dog instantly learns to only behave when the collar is on, but to misbehave when it is off. Sadly, as soon as you put one of these collars on, the dog learns that you are the source of pain. This causes a rise in cortisol (stress) levels when ever your dog sees you again. Using a shock collar once can permanently damage your relationship with your dog. (1) Dogs who have been ‘trained’ on shock collars have a much higher risk of euthanasia from behaviours associated with the shock than dogs who have been trained using other methods.(2)

Never debark your dog. This is a surgery that removes tissue from the larynx so the dog does not bark normally. Dogs who have been debarked do not stop barking, you just can’t hear it. In many cases the dogs voice returns so that repeat surgeries become necessary. Dogs that have been debarked are at greater risk for choking.

1 Shilder MBH 2005,

2 Dr. Karen Overall DVM

Possessive Aggression

Possessive aggression is one of those things that is better prevented by teaching a dog frustration tolerance when he is a puppy. However, if it is too late for this then there are a few ways you can manage this problem.

Realize that it comes from insecurities over lack of control. If he is afraid that you will steal his food, running away won’t solve that problem, but biting you will. To teach him that you can be trusted around his treasured possessions you want to take it slow.

For food guarding you can put him on a set schedule and and you can hand feed him for awhile until he trusts you. When he is eating take away his bowl, put a treat inside and give it back. Repeat several times over the course of a few weeks. This will teach him that good things happen when you take his bowl.

If your dog is guarding toys teach him the ‘drop it’ command by pulling the toy out of his mouth and saying ‘drop it’ the reward for drop it is that he immediately gets the toy right back. This teaches him that he can give up a treasured possession and he will see it again. This helps to establish trust between you.

Note: if you can not safely pull the toy out of his mouth, bribe him with a treat.
If your dog is guarding you, remove the dog, If you are holding him, set him down. If you are not holding him and he is near you cue him to sit, If that fails put him in a “puppy time out” (another room) for a few minutes and then let him try again. Repeat as necessary.

Common Behavioural Problems

Common Behavioural Problems

Common Behavioural Problems

Chasing Cars

Some dogs with a high prey drive will chase after cars. This can be very dangerous should the dog actually catch the car. The best way to handle this is to teach the dog that car=sit. When you are out on a walk and you spot a car, immediately cue the dog to sit. The second he sits, click and treat. Repeat this for every car until your dog starts sitting automatically when a car passes. Sitting and running are incompatible actions. If he is sitting next to you he will be a lot safer than if he is chasing cars.


Digging is natural behaviour for dogs. There are many reasons why dogs dig. For some breeds it’s a natural behaviour. Terriers were bred to go to ground to hunt vermin. Spitz breeds were developed in the far north and would often dig through the snow to bury food for later or dig up mice. For these breeds, redirecting that behaviour would be the best bet. One way to do that would be to give him a sandbox. (This can be done pretty cheaply with a kiddie wading pool and some sand) Bury treats or toys in the sand and let your dog have fun digging them out.

Dogs dig to relieve boredom, bury possessions, cool off in the summer, make comfortable beds, exercise, hunt rodents and bugs, and to explore.

To discourage digging, make sure your dog has plenty of exercise. The best behaved dogs are always the ones who are getting their mental and physical needs met. The next step is to fill the holes that your dog has dug. A sandbox can redirect bored or treasure seeking/burying digging as well.

If your dog is digging under the fence, dig a six to 12 inch trench underneath the fence and lay chicken wire. This makes it much more difficult for the dog to escape. Try to ascertain why the dog is escaping. If he is an intact male, he may be trying to get to a female in heat. Neutering will solve that problem. If he is escaping because he is bored or lonely, walking him will help relieve boredom while providing exercise and socialization.


Dogs will sometimes get into scuffles with one another as a means to defend territory, out of fear, or to protect their resources. It is always better to prevent fights than to break them up. The best way to prevent a fight is to socialize your dog. Very rarely will well-socialized neutered/spayed dogs fight.

If you have a dog who you know is prone to fighting, the worst thing you can do is tense up when another dog approaches. If you tense up everything from the tenseness of the way you hold the lead to your body posture to your facial expressions will scream “TROUBLE!” to little Fido. He will then get on high alert and be more likely to try to fight. The best thing you can do is relax. Put all the tension in your legs where Fido can’t see it. Keep a loose leash, keep walking and keep up a happy stream of conversation to to your dog. Act normal, not tense.

All dogs should be obedience trained. If you’re out with your dog and you see another dog approach, cue your dog to ‘sit’, or ‘down’, or ‘watch me’ or any other variety of commands you can think of to get your dog’s focus on you and off the stimulus.

You are also going to want to change your dog’s perception. If you know your dog aggresses at dogs who are 10 feet away, take him 12 feet from a dog and click and treat when your dog notices another dog. Once he’s fine from 10 feet away, take him 8 feet away and then click and treat. When he is fine from 8 feet away take him 5 feet away and so on. Timing is crucial. We can not award bad behaviour. It is imperative that you treat before your dog has an opportunity to aggress. With any set back (and setbacks are common during training) go back to the beginning and take your dog a comfortable distance and start all over.

DO NOT strike your dog, yell at your dog or in anyway act negatively. Violence begets violence and such displays will only make matters worse.

Inter Pack Aggression (A.K.A. sibiling rivalry)

If you have dogs within the same household who can’t seem to get along, there are some things that you can do to smooth things over.

First: Feed all dogs seperately. This will not only cut down on fights over possession, but it will also prevent obesity and allow you to monitor your dogs food intake.

Second: Make sure that there are plenty of toys to go around. It seems silly to type this as everyone with multiple dogs knows that dogs only want what the other dog has even if it’s the exact same toy. However, if you have 3 dogs, throw 7 toys down and check frequently to make sure that everyone is playing nicely. Remove the toys if a fight breaks out.

Third: Be ever vigilant. If you notice stiff posture, hard stares or any other signs of a challenge cue “Leave it” in a firm (but not loud) tone of voice. When this breaks up the behaviour praise all the dogs. If necessary reassert your own dominance by giving a command (any command) and then click and treat when the dogs obey. The command reminds them that no matter what, you are still in charge.

Fourth: Respect the hieracrchy that they’ve established among themselves. Don’t champion the underdog as this has the potential to make things much worse.

Sometimes it is best to let the dogs sort things out for themselves. Our interference sometimes makes things worse. However, if you suspect bloodshed always intervene before a fight arises.


Young puppies need to chew. Developmentally they are still in the infant/toddler stage. This means that to learn they must explore and they explore with their mouths. Physically, they are in the teething stage. Their gums hurt and chewing relieves that. Older dogs must chew to exercise their jaws and relieve boredom. Chewing is not a problem. Chewing the wrong stuff is a huge problem. At best you are out a few bucks having to replace a sofa. At worse it can be fatal. A dog chewing a live wire (e.g. a computer cord) is at serious risk for electrical shock.

Let your dog chew but let him chew on appropriate items; toys, bones or rawhide. If your puppy is teething, give him a specially made puppy teething toy. Freezing it will help sooth the puppy’s tender gums. Your puppy should be in a crate when you are not home, or are at home but not watching him. Not only will this aid potty training, but it will keep him safe from household dangers. Rotate toys frequently, this will prevent puppies and older dogs from becoming bored with their toys.

If you catch your dog chewing on a forbidden object interrupt with an “EH,” or similar obnoxious noise, and give him something that he can chew on. It is not enough for us to teach a dog what not to do if we are not teaching him what he can do. If we are not providing an alternate behaviour, then he will always return to that bad action because that will be the only thing that he knows.

There is no such thing as a completely safe toy. If your dog has burst the stitching or a toy has become small enough to choke on, then discard the toy.

Note: Rawhide is very controversial. Young puppies and dogs with sensitive stomachs should not be given rawhide. Remember that price matters. Cheaper rawhide may contain bacteria, like salmonella, or even toxic ingredients, such as lead or arsenic. If possible try to buy American made rawhide. Though this may be near impossible to find. Replace the rawhide when it becomes small enough to swallow.

Granulated rawhide is easier to digest, but also will not last as long as compressed rawhide. These are good for moderate or sensitive chewers. Compressed rawhide is best for heavy chewers as they will last a long time, but they are more likely to cause stomach upset. Choose which is best for your dogs needs.

Common Behavioural Problems

Dog Welfare; A Brief History


Dog Welfare; A Brief History

Right now there is a disconnect between human welfare and animal welfare. Animal activists are often accused of loving animals more than they love humans. They are often asked (usually mockingly) “which would you save first a human infant or a baby animal?” People have long held an ‘it’s us or them’ approach in regards to the species that we share this earth with. However, that is a logical fallacy. It’s not and never has been us or them, rather it’s us and them. As humans we share 99.9% of the same DNA with chimpanzees, 98% of the same genetic code as pigs and 85% of the same genetic code as dogs. As previously stated, animals are sentient, they are capable of the same basic emotions as humans, they have the capacity to love, grieve, feel pain, and suffer just as humans do. By what right can we say that a human’s capacity to suffer is greater than a horse’s capacity to suffer, or a pig’s or a dog’s?

Charles Darwin found that emotions evolved in both humans and animals. He believed that these emotions connected us, not only with our own social community, but also with the rest of the earth. The very roots of human emotions, intelligence and spirituality came from animals. This is a very important commonality between us and it makes how we treat them more important than ever.

How we treat animals is of the utmost importance because it can only lead to, not detract from, better treatment for all. A person who recognizes the importance of the life of a butterfly will recognize the importance of the life of a human. A person who regards the life of a dog, will be much more likely to regard the life of a person with a different race, religion, or ideology. There is a very well-known link between animal abuse and psychopathic behaviour. The FBI recognizes animal cruelty as a predictor of violence against people. A national study(1) has established that 71% of women in battered women’s shelters have reported that their spouse has threatened to kill one or more of their pets and 57% actually carried out the threat. Of those women, 58% had children and of that 58, 32% of the children have hurt or killed a pet. The Massachusetts SPCA has reported that 70% of animal abusers had committed at least one other crime and 40% had committed violent crimes against people. How we view and treat animals is important because it teaches us how to treat other people.

Human societies have waxed and waned in regards to recognizing the importance of animal welfare. (There is a notable correlation in the timeline in how they treat other humans of differing races, religions and socioeconomic classes.) In the modern western world, we have come so far from where we’ve been but we have so much further to go. This is an issue where we must not become complacent for too much is at stake.

Dog Welfare; A Brief History

A Brief History

The first animal shelters date back as far as the 1700s, but they were used to store animals until they could be killed. Stray dogs and cats were considered a public health and safety threat. Dogs and cats carried diseases such as rabies and the plague. Packs of wild dogs were considered a threat to livestock. To this day, in many countries including Britain and the United States, farmers are allowed to kill dogs on found on their property.

In Britain in 1824, 22 philanthropists came together and founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This was the first organized effort at animal welfare. Society at the time as a whole, did not recognize the sentience of animals, and viewed animal welfare as a waste of time. The original members of the SPCA worked hard to spread a campaign of education to an uncaring public and their diligence paid off. In 1840 Queen Victoria granted permission to rename the organization the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Ideas of animal welfare floated across the pond. In 1854, the Humane Society of the United States was founded. In 1866 Henry Bergh, after witnessing the common cruelty to carriage horses, founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York City. This was followed by the American Humane Association in 1877.

However, the ASPCA was one of the few organizations that put forth the effort to conduct animal welfare campaigns, and educate the public while running animal shelters. The public began to rally behind the ASPCA and support animal rescue. In 1869, the Women’s SPCA of Pennsylvania established the first animals shelter geared towards rescuing animals. By 1894, the ASPCA began sheltering dogs and cats in New York.

While the ASPCA and similar groups were a needed step in the right direction, the rest of society was slow to catch up. Most shelters were merely storage facilities until the dogs could be euthanized, little to no effort was made to re-home them.

The 1960’s and 70’s saw great social change in America. Along with greater freedoms for people, greater welfare was finally granted to dogs as well. In 1966, the Animal Welfare Act was signed into law. It is the only federal law in the U.S. that regulates the treatment of animals in research, transport and exhibition. The AWA requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for animals bred for research, commercial transport, public exhibition or commercial sale.

The 1960’s and 70’s also saw a rise in nonprofit shelters. These organizations were more concerned with the welfare of the dogs than previous ones had been. These shelters were little more than rows of cages placed on concrete floors. The animals inside had a few days or weeks to be adopted before they were euthanized. This is still true in many shelters today. Although greater effort is being made than ever before, there are simply too many dogs. With an average of 6-10 dogs per litter, a single dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in 6 years. There are only 6,000 animal shelters currently in the United States, filled with 8 million dogs and cats. Half of them will die there. There is not enough space to house these animals, and not enough money to properly care for them.

Dog Welfare; A Brief History

Due to this problem, better animal shelters are beginning to emerge. Greater effort is made to re-home the animals, and greater care is being placed on the prospective adopters. This is to prevent the dogs and cats from being abused, neglected and even abandoned again.
Among the millions of dogs in shelters, 25% of them are purebred dogs. This prompted some AKC breed organizations to begin to form their own breed-specific rescues. Most of the dogs in these groups are placed in foster homes, rather than kennel-lined shelters, the dogs there have been temperament tested, spayed/neutered, and vaccinated.

In the past, dogs would be adopted out of shelters, and their puppies would wind up in the same shelters. People finally caught wise and began to spay and neuter dogs in shelters. This effort has seen enormous success. In the past 20+ years, the number of homeless dogs has decreased significantly. While about 4 million dogs and cats are killed in shelters each year, in 1990 over 8 million dogs and cats were killed in shelters.

Because the Spay/Neuter programs have been so successful, fewer dogs are winding up in shelters. Most people who work in shelters are animal lovers who oppose euthanasia. This led to the creation of no-kill shelters. These shelters will not kill an animal for space, but they will euthanize those who are very old, ill, injured or aggressive. No-kill shelters do not kill for space, but that means that when they are full, they cannot take in any animals until they have room. The animals that they are forced to turn away end up in other shelters, which may or may not be no-kill.

Animal rescue has come along way in the past 40 years and especially in the past 150 years, but there are still millions of healthy pets that need homes. Every puppy that gets sold by a breeder or pet store means one less dog that will be adopted by a shelter.
The life you save from a shelter could turn out to be your best friend.

(1)Frank Ascione Ph.D Department of Psychology Utah State University.

Dog Welfare; A Brief History

History of Dog Collars

Mankind has been using dog collars for hundreds of years. They’ve been used as fashion statements, protection for the dog, restraint, training tools and status symbols.

Ancient Egyptian

Images of dog collars can be found in Egyptian paintings dating as far back as 3,500 B.C. These collars were made of leather and contained the dogs’ names and often were stylized in the art of the period.

Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, dogs were often guardians of livestock. To protect their necks against predators, dogs were fitted with leather collars spiked with nails.

Ancient Rome

The ancient Romans were loyal and devoted to their dogs. Legend has it that Caesar publicly rebuked the masses for showing more devotion to their dogs than their children. A mosaic has been unearthed depicting a dog with a fancy studded collar and leash.

Recently, scientists used infrared on the collar of a preserved dog found in the ruins of Pompeii. The collar was inscribed with a message  expressing the owner’s appreciation to the dog for saving his life against a wolf attack.

The Middle Ages

Different dogs had different jobs in the middle ages and they wore collars reflecting their positions. Hunting dogs wore simple leather collars as a means of identification. Shepherd dogs wore spiked collars similar to the collars of the Grecian shepherds. Spiked collars were also used in the sport of wolf hunting. These resembled prong collars but with the prongs facing outward…and much sharper of course. The dog would be sent as bait towards a wolf, and though the collar was meant to protect the neck, the dogs were not expected to survive. Many dogs were sacrificed for this cruel sport.

Dogs fortunate enough to be owned by upper class ladies were kept not as companions, but as ornaments. They wore collars made out of precious stones and metals.

The Renaissance

In the 1500s a middle class began to merge and people began to keep dogs as pets, rather than as workers or ornamentation. Simple, affordable, leather collars were made for these dogs. The padlock collar became popular during this time period. These were collars with padlocks attached to hinged metal and only the owner had the key. This was seen as a failsafe way of proving ownership if there was any question. Assuming of course, that the key was not missing or stolen.

The Industrial Revolution

By the 1700s, brass, silver and gold engraved collars became all the rage. These collars displayed the owners name and witty sayings.

Some collars made from precious metals or leather would have ornate bells as decoration.

Present Day

Today’s collars run the gamut from utilitarian to designer wear. They come with flashy stones, expensive baubles, or even multi-million dollar diamonds. They can be made from hemp, for environmentally conscious dog owners, or leather, nylon, pleather, or vinyl. They can be reflective to keep your dogs safe at night. They can be used as punishment, identification, or style.

It is interesting to note that people throughout the ages have adorned their dogs with everything from basic, brutal, to designer collars depending on the attitudes of the owners and the jobs of the dogs. There really is nothing new under the sun.

History of Dog Collars


History of Dog Collars


History of Dog Collars

Types of collars

Harnesses and Collars

“Evolution did not necessarily equip dogs to be made captive to collar and lead.”

~Per Jensen

Types of collars

Nylon or Leather Buckle Collars

This is the most basic type of collar and will help your puppy get used to wearing something around his neck. The name tag and rabies information typically hang from these collars and leashes clip to the D-ring for walks.

These collars are safe provided that the dog does not pull against them. If your dog pulls against them it can cause tracheal damage, vertebral damage, and increased ocularpressure.

Choke, or Strangle Collars
Choke, or strangle collars (sometimes called chain collars) are metal collars with interlocking links. People who use these collars correctly apply pressure to the base of the dogs neck to check the dogs behaviour. This is a popular method of punishment based training. Used properly, these collars can bring a 96% chance of tracheal, and by extension, esophageal damage.(1) Unfortunately, most people who use these, use them wrong. This makes the chance of injury much higher. Other injuries can include, but are not limited to; vertebrae damage, Spinal cord injuries, hind leg ataxia, transient foreleg paralysis, whiplash, (2) organ damage, blindness, bruising of the larynx, fainting and laryngeal nerve paralysis. (3)
Prong, or Pinch Collars
A prong collar is a metal chain collar with metal points that point inward to the dog’s neck. If the dog pulls against the collar or if you pop the collar, considerable pressure is placed on the dogs neck. Prong collars are popular with punishment based trainers. These collars are preferable to choke collars as the metal points keep the bulk of the pressure off the trachea. However, this product is not without health risks. Though the prong collar only boasts a 16% chance of tracheal damage, the risk is still there. There has been at least one case, a Weimeraner in Germany, where the prong actually punctured the trachea! (4) Additionally, the pressure caused by the prong collar can cause esophageal and spinal damage as well. Unfortunately, due to the route a dog’s optical nerves travel, Prong collars may also cause blindness in a dog.(5) They’ve also proven to cause thin corneas, glaucoma, and corneal lacerations. (6)
Dogs trained on prong collars exhibit greater levels of stress while on walks. Moreover, that stress extends to later walks, even when the prong collar is not present.(7) After just one use, the dog learns that the presence of the owner on walks means pain. Pretty tragic considering we are supposed to be their protectors. There is also increased risk of aggression using prong collars. Some dogs associate the pain they feel with whatever is present in their surroundings. If you popped the collar near a child, for instance, that dog may learn that children cause pain. This could lead to a dog becoming child aggressive. There is a 40% chance of aggression using prong collars. (8)

Also called combo collars, limited or partial slip collars, or Greyhound collars. Martingales are half nylon, half chain. These collars provide less pressure than a choke collar but more than a nylon collar. Martingales are great for dogs with narrow heads as the collar can tighten when needed to keep a dog from slipping free.

Some people use these for training and they use them the same way as one would use a choker. This is not recommended, as when it is used that way it carries the same risks of tracheal and vertebra damage as a choker does.

Head collars

Head collars (Haltis or Gentle Leaders) are collars that go over the dogs muzzle and buckle behind the neck. They are designed to lead dogs by their heads. They are often used for dogs who pull a lot or by people with disabilities.  Many dogs will react negatively to the head collar. Some will buck wildly when it is first put on, others will posture (lower their back and ears). Some dogs get used to it and can enjoy a nice walk with their people, other dogs will continue to buck. If your dog can not get used to the head collar, I strongly recommend discontinuing its use.

There were a couple of studies performed on the head collars. The first took place in 1998 by the Department of Physiology College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. This study compared the head collar to the nylon buckle collar. Physiological and behavioural responses were compared with measurements testing blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and pupillary dilation. Surprisingly, results showed no difference in the physiological response to the types of collars. Behavioural results showed that dogs were more disobedient while wearing nylon collars, but pawed their noses more and watched the handler less while wearing a head collar. Surprisingly, despite posturing and nose pawing, physiological tests show that dogs are not under increased stress while wearing a head collar.

The other study was performed in 2002 by Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, College Station, Texas. This study compared the different brands of head collars and the dogs overall acceptance of the product. This study shows that with time, dogs become accustomed to the head collar and have no preference in one type of head collar over another.

While both studies suggest that head collars are safe for everyday use, if you are uncomfortable with your dogs reaction to this product then I urge you to try a regular collar or a no pull harness instead.


Harnesses go around the chest of the dog, these are safer alternatives to collars and some people feel it gives them greater control. Traditional harnesses encourage pulling by building the chest muscles and providing resistance. Harnesses can make dogs pull more efficiently, however, if a dog is properly trained not to pull then this is rarely a problem. For toy breed dogs and dogs with neck or back problems, harnesses are a much safer alternative to collars.

No pull harnesses

These are types of harnesses that physically, yet gently stop a dog from pulling. These alternatives are safe for both the person and the dog. Some are designed to lead him from the front (as opposed to the back) others put gentle pressure under the dogs forelegs and prevent them from pulling. The idea behind any training tool like these, is to eventually get the dog out of it. They work well for those who need them; they provide no additional stress to the dog and keep the dogs under greater control than traditional collars, prong collars or chokers.

Shock Collars
Also called electronic collars or e-collars (not to be confused with Elizabethan collars, the funnel type collar used to keep a dog from licking his wounds). Shock collars are used to train dogs to hunt, prevent them from pulling, keep them confined, prevent them from barking, and some people have attempted to use them to teach a dog not to pull, jump, or engage in other nuisance behaviours.
Shock collars can cause heightened fear and aggressive response in dogs. There is a 40% chance that a dog trained with a shock collar will become aggressive. Advocates of shock collars claim they do not hurt. This is false, in order to work it has to hurt. It has to hurt badly enough that the dog will think twice before engaging in the behaviour that caused the shock. Unfortunately, dogs do not always know what caused the shock, often it seems random to them. In fact shock collars cause enough pain and controversy that they have been banned in 13 countries! This is because it meets all the criteria for abuse.(9)
There is a well known study done by Richard Polsky in 2000 that showed dogs kept in invisible fences showed a high risk of aggression towards humans. Psychologically, electric fences are no different to a dog than being tied to a tree. Dogs are subject to stimulation, but they can’t reach it. This sets off their frustration drive which is tied to the rage function in the brain. Additionally, since there is no visible fence to protect the dog, the dog has only himself for protection. There is nothing stopping another animal or a person from coming in and harming your dog. There have been cases of dogs killed by birds of prey or other dogs when they were trapped in the fences with nowhere to go.
Other studies (10) have found a rise in stress hormones in dogs who have been trained on shock collars. Dogs associate their owners with pain, this association lasts even when the dog is not wearing the collar. This study found that dogs have higher stress even then dogs who were abused.
Physical risks of shock collars include third degree burns, elevated heart rate and a risk of seizures.

Bottom line: there are two types of shock collar advocates: those who do not understand them, and those who profit from them. Do you really want to risk your dogs health and well being for somebody who’s in it for the money?

A Special Word on Shock Collars, Prong Collars and Choke Collars.

I previously mentioned the physical dangers of the various collars, but I only touched on the psychological dangers. The reason for this, is because for all three of them, they carry the same psychological risks. In the interest of efficiency, and to make things easier for you to read, I put them together here rather than list them separately in the above columns. I will now expound on the emotional and psychological problems that these collars cause.

The hippocampus of the brain, is the region where anxieties, fears and phobias are stored. Logically, when an animal is introduced to a stressful or painful environment, they will react with fear or withdrawal. Any kind of repeated reinforcement (whether positive or negative) will produce better, more efficient and more numerous connections between neurons. When this kind of stimulus continues, learning will occur in the lateral amygdala. This is one model for learning contextual fear. (11)

When exposing an animal to an electric shock or the pop of a prong or choke collar, we may also inadvertently be changing other behaviours or processes as well.

There was a well known study (12) that involved training German Shepherd Dogs to be guard dogs. Dogs that were shocked in training but not shocked during later evaluations held their ears lower, and exhibited more stress -related behaviours compared to dogs who were trained without the use of shocks. These differences continued throughout training and on into fieldwork. When the owner or handler (i.e. the person administering the shock) was present the physiological changes in the HPA axis were the most profound.

What we can deduce from this is that A) this type of training is unnecessarily stressful, B) it is painful and C) dogs learn that the presence of his owner and the commands becomes a cue for the shock.

This study is the most widely one used to day and it teaches us that while dogs trained by electric -static shocks can become guard dogs, their behaviours towards humans have changed, they’ve become uncertain and over-reactive. A combination that often proves dangerous to both dogs and humans.

Aroused States and Physical Violence

It is well-known that impulse control functions of the pre-frontal cortex is coordinated with the amygdala-mediated emotional interpretation of social and environmental stimulus. Sudden change that requires rapid assessment of a threat has the potential to create an aggressive response. Aggressive dogs frequently display exaggerated autonomic responses to threats including excitability, panic and fear.(13)

There is a well documented link between dog abuse, spousal abuse and child abuse. Studies that investigated domestic violence showed that the perpetrators experience intense autonomic arousal and symptoms of panic at the moment of the attacks. They experience heart palpitations, increased respiration, tremors, fear, and feelings of losing control. Dogs who are in states of arousal also exhibit signs of increased blood pressure and heart rate. The similarities between the two can not be overstated.

Police officers who have responded to calls of domestic violence know not to use force or pain to diffuse the situation. In such states of arousal, the perpetrator will become more unpredictable and dangerous.

Dogs, whose brains and bodies are under the same signs of stress and arousal as humans while aggressing, can not be handled. Hopefully by now, everyone knows not to break up a dog fight using your bare hands, in that heightened aggressive state, the dog will not know it is you and bite back. Using a shock collar or prong collar to “control” an aggressive dog causes the same problems as trying to physically interfere with a fighting dog. In that heightened state of arousal the dog becomes more angry.(14) One simply can’t use force and violence to stop violence. Our brains aren’t set up to work that way.

There are better and safer alternatives to aversive devices, that have been proven in the long run to work even better. There is no need to rely on outdated methodology when science has provided us with more effective and safer means of training. Canine behaviour, genetics and chemistry are growing fields of ethology and science. It is better to be on the cutting edge of science then left behind.


Whichever type of collar you decide to use, collars should only be used to attach the leash and the dog tags. Collars should never be used for training. Not only does using a collar for training increase the chance of serious health risks, but it teaches the dog that the collar is in charge, not you. If the dog only responds if he is wearing a collar then that means that he is not trained to you. A dog should respond the same regardless of whether or not anything is on his neck. For dogs that pull, try walking them off lead in a fenced in area. This teaches them to pay more attention to you on walks, no matter what they may be wearing.


There is a lot of controversy surrounding collars and harnesses. Most people want to do the right thing for their dogs and it can be confusing knowing exactly what is right for your particular dog. There are many people out their with very good intentions who will advise you what you should use to help control your dog. If your friend, coworker, trainer or family member recommends something, thank them for their advice, but if you do not feel comfortable doing something, don’t do it. If the person advising you can not back up (with peer reviewed evidence) what they are trying to sell, then it may not be something that is right for your dog.

At the end of the day, he is your dog. He is in your care and you must do absolutely everything you can to care for him properly, for he trusts you so completely.

I do not have the luxury of basing anything on opinions, too many people count on me for the safety and well-being of their dogs. Everything written above is falsifiable (can be proven) and based on peer-reviewed studies done by researchers. I have provided the references below, I urge you to study for yourselves, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

In 2012, an experiment was conducted in Switzerland that tested shock collars on people. You can find an outline of it here.

They link to some videos on YouTube of their experiments. I find it interesting that the same visible signs of stress on the test subjects are quite similar to the visible signs of stress I’ve witnessed on dogs during their training sessions.

The test is interesting both as an insight in to shock collar training for dogs but also as possible insight into human behaviour as well. If there are any psychologists reading this, I’d love to hear your two cents.

Types of collars

1.Neurologist Jean Zuniga, MD. PhD

  1. Bremmier et. al. 2000

3,4. Per Jensen

  1. Dreyton Michaels PhD.
  2. Pauli, et al. 2006

7.RVincent and AR Mitchall

  1. RL Johnson (1976)
  2. Dr. Karen Overall, PhD

10,11. Shalke

  1. Shilder and van der Borg 2004
  2. Steven R. Lindsey

14.Dr. Karen Overall Ph.D



Aggression is a serious problem in dogs and one that is becoming increasingly common. The consequences from aggression are quite severe; for the victim and their family, the dog’s owners and the dog itself.


The potential for serious emotional and financial cost is high. The victim may experience severe lacerations, disability or loss of life. The dog’s owners may have to pay several thousands of dollars in hospital bills, lawsuits and fines. The dog may be impounded or euthanized.

As with many things in life; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

About 50% of dog bites involve children. Children, especially young children, tend to be low to the ground, make quick movements (which may frighten a timid dog), run (which will set off a dog’s chase instinct), squeal, scream or otherwise make loud noises (which may set off a dog’s prey drive). Children who are used to dogs tend to run towards dogs (which a dog may perceive as charging), make eye-contact with them (which a dog may see as a threat) and smile (which to a dog, might look as if they are bearing their teeth).

Unsupervised toddlers may wander towards a dangerous dog or behave inappropriately to an unsocialized dog. NEVER LEAVE A YOUNG CHILD UNATTENDED WITH A STRANGE DOG. 88% of fatal dog attacks among toddlers occurred when there was no adult supervision.(1)Teach your child how to properly greet a dog and keep a watchful eye that everyone is playing safe.


“Aggression” can encompass a wide variety of behaviours that can arise for any reason, under any circumstance at anytime. Always remember that all dogs bite. Saying a dog will never bite is like saying a human being will never hit. They will in the right circumstances and it is up to us to minimize the chance of it happening. Dogs (and all animals) can only respond to danger in one of two ways: either to flee or to fight. A leashed or tethered dog can not flee, he will have little choice but to bite. This is often mistaken as aggression, but it’s more ‘fear-aggression’ A fearful dog can be far more dangerous than a confidant, dominant dog because he perceives danger but cannot always run.

Typically, a dog will give warning before aggressing.

+Stiff body posture, especially if he leans towards or away from you.

+Deep chest growl

+Lunging or charging


+Baring teeth.





Dogs almost always warn before biting (even if it is only a matter of seconds between the warning and the bite) the exception is a dog who has been punished in the past for growling. Never strike a dog who growls or barks, never use choke chains, prong collars or shock collarsto correct a dog who displays these signs as these will create a dangerous dog. Many times people don’t recognize warning signs so they believe that the dog bites ‘out of nowhere.’ Always make sure that you understand how to read a dog’s warning signs.


Determining whether or not a dog is aggressive is not a precise science since there are eight functionally classified types of aggressive behaviour: fear, dominance,* possessiveness, protectiveness, predation, punishment, pain and intraspecific. (2) It is interesting and should be of note that while mammals all possess the same core emotions  many of these categories show different neurobiological mechanisms in dogs or other species. These mechanisms affect the probability of a bite when a dog is restrained, in competition (over resources) or encounters fearful stimuli. One can not refer to a dog as “aggressive” as this is grossly inaccurate. One can only say whether a dog displays aggressive behaviours and ideally, what caused the bite should be classified among the category that best describes what sparked the event. (Fear response, possessiveness, etc.)

*In the years prior to Moyer’s research it has come to light that so-called dominance aggression is indeed a misclassification as truly dominant dogs and wolves don’t aggress. Complicating the fact is that  so-called dominance is really a set of identifiable behaviours that can change. (3) However, this, in no way, should detract from Moyer’s work.

Fear Aggression

As I mentioned earlier, there are only two responses to danger; fight or flight. When a stimulus that sparks fear is present, the animal (including humans) prefers to escape from whatever is sparking the fear response. However, escape is not always an option. If an animal cannot run from the stimulus it will have little recourse but to switch to the fight mechanism. They will try to defend themselves from the Big Scary Thing. A dog can fear a dog, person, snake, monkey, elephant or whatever and still attack if she thinks that is her only option. A fearful dog will first display fear posture  and try to run but then turn aggressive when cornered. Never, ever corner an animal. Fearful dogs may retreat when pursued, but when the person or animal turns to leave, may run up from behind and nip. Usually fearful dogs will bite multiple times, but never put a lot of force in each bite, usually enough to pierce the skin, though. A close cousin to fear aggression is Defensive Aggression. Defensive aggression is also motivated by fear, however a defensive dog will bite first and ask questions later. A defensive dog will very rarely attack a person who calmly walks away from them, but will not hesitate to pursue a dog or person who either advances towards the dog or freezes.

Possessive Aggression

Wolves have to compete for food and shelter just to survive in the wild. They have to compete for mates to pass on their genes and avoid becoming an evolutionary failure. Until the Industrial Revolution, dog food didn’t exist, the average dog had to compete for food. Although today’s dogs generally have it better than their wolf cousins and their scavenger ancestors, some dogs still show guarding tendencies. Some dogs will display aggression when another dog or person comes near their toys, bones or food. Some dogs display guarding behaviours towards their crate, bed or furniture.

Protective Aggression

Wolves are social pack animals who look after their own. If one pack mate is in danger, the rest rush in to protect their brother. Dogs will sometimes display protective aggression when their human pack is in danger, particularly if said human pack member is an infant or child. In extreme cases, a dog may perceive anybody; friend, extended family member or stranger as a threat. Protection aggression won’t manifest until a dog reaches maturity (if at all).


Although dogs have come in from the wild some 35,000 years ago, instinct isn’t something that goes away overnight. Some dogs will still exhibit predatory response to fast moving people, animals or objects. Some dogs who chase small animals may bite and kill those animals should they catch them, some dogs will “catch and kill” squeaky toys if left too long with them. Though rare, some dogs will have predatory drive towards infants crying since they high pitched cries can sound like certain prey. However, the odds of this happening are extremely slim.

Predatory aggression differs from other types of aggression since there is little to no warning before an attack.


A dog (or any animal) who is experiencing pain may behave aggressively. A dog who is experiencing chronic pain may be more likely to show aggressive response. Aggression brought about by pain may bite with little warning. All first aid kits should contain a muzzle and take precautions when treating a sick or injured dog.

Training collars (pinch, prong or shock) can sometimes elicit pain aggression in dogs, especially when used incorrectly.

Intraspecific Aggression.

This is aggression towards other dogs and can be divided into two camps: dog aggression and inter pack aggression. Dog aggressive dogs are typically happy friendly dogs towards other people and children but can turn on a dime and aggress towards other dogs. Particularly unknown dogs. This can be motivated by fear, protection, territory, predation or other factors but it is unique in that only other dogs are targeted. Inter pack aggression is aggression directed towards other members of the pack. Social pack animals often live by certain rules set to minimize conflict. These rules keep order, but if one dog believes that another dog broke those rules, than a fight may begin. Social relationships are very complex but anything as simple as sleeping in another’s spot, or eating from the wrong bowl or as complex as an ‘alpha roll’ may provoke inter pack aggression.

Territorial Aggression

Dogs’ closest cousins, the wolves, are very territorial. The live in a clearly defined territory which they defend from invaders. If an animal who is not part of the pack enters their territory the wolves will drive off they intruder. We sometimes see this instinctive behaviour in dogs. They charge at people or animals who they feel is a threat to their territory. Many people value this trait in dogs and purchase dogs with the intent and expectation that the dog will defend the person’s property. This can be a good idea that isn’t. A dog can not always tell the difference between a friend, the mailman, the delivery boy, your grand mom and a robber. Training a dog for the purpose of defending your territory is akin to setting a loaded handgun with a hair-trigger on your coffee table.

Some dogs defend the boundaries of the person’s property, some defend the home itself and some defend the actual person (though often this is categorized as protective aggression or possession aggression). As your dog reaches maturity he may begin to to develop territorial aggression if the behaviour is not checked at a young age.


If your dog is displaying aggressive behaviours it is wise to consult your friendly, neighbourhood veterinarian, if for no other reason than to rule out a medical condition. Dogs in chronic pain, cognitive disorders, seizures, sensory deficits, orthopedic problems or other medical conditions are more likely to undergo personality changes, short tempers or aggression. If a medical condition is the cause you will need to cooperate with your vet to improve the outcome.

Do not attempt to treat an aggressive dog yourself. Seek professional help.  A qualified professional can help you customize a treatment plan to meet your individual dog’s unique needs. Ask your vet for recommendations on a certified animal behaviourist. Not all trainers are qualified to help you so make sure that she has the education and experience necessary to treat canine aggression.

How to prevent aggression

Train your dog. A dog should be able to sit, lie down, stay and walk politely on lead. A dog who is under your verbal  and/or visual command is less likely to be a threat to himself or others.

Socialize your dog. Between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks and again between the ages of 2 and 3, a dog should come in contact with 100 different people (of different sizes, disabilities, ages and races) and 100 different dogs, cats and other animals. As they age, continue to expose them to different people and animals. This will teach them to learn important communication and gain confidence. Well socialized dogs get into fewer fights than under-socialized dogs.

Spay and Neuter your dog. Un-neutered males are more likely to bite than neutered males. Female dogs in heat, pregnant females and lactating females are more likely to bite and behave in an unpredictable manner.

Never leave your dog unattended.  If you can’t monitor your dog you won’t be able to see what provokes him,  and you won’t be able to stop someone from teasing or injuring him.

Don’t chain a dog. Dog’s who spend their lives chained up experience more stress, frustration, vulnerability, and territoriality than dogs who are indoors or at least behind fences. They are over twice as likely to bite as dogs who do not spend their lives tethered.

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)

Some communities have enacted breed specific legislation that makes ownership of certain breeds illegal. Research indicates that BSL does little to change dog bite statistics. This is likely because any dog can bite when provoked and BSL does not address the actual problems that cause dog bites to be on the rise. (Factors which include poor training or complete lack of training, isolation, restraint (being chained up or on lead), fences (both invisible and visible) and lack of socialization, among others.)

Breed Specific Legislation is very difficult to enforce and often the counties that enact them end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to enforce the bans. Responsible breeding would go much farther and be much cheaper than breed specific legislation, especially when there is no science, research or evidence to support that one breed of dog is inherently  more aggressive than another. It is knee-jerk legislation and  anti-intellectualism at its worst…and innocent dogs suffer and die from it.

Public education and enforcement of existing laws would are the most effective means of reducing dog bites.

Don’t be a Victim

If you spot a dog who is unrestrained and poised to attack, you can still protect yourself.

Don’t cut and run.  If you run, you will ignite the dog’s chase instinct and he will catch you if he wants to. An average dog can run 20 miles per hour. You can’t.

Remain motionless. Keep your hands at your side, and avoid making eye contact with an angry dog. But keep an eye on him with your peripheral vision.

Never turn your back on an angry dog. You want to be able to try and predict a dog’s moves and you can’t do that if you can’t see him.

Slowly back away from the dog until he loses interest or is safely out of sight.

If the dog does attack; Curl into a ball on the ground, with your face tucked into your chest, while covering the back of your head and neck with your hands and remain motionless. This will protect your vital organs, face and neck and reduce the likelihood of the attack becoming fatal.


(1) American Humane Society

(2) Moyer KE: Kinds of Aggression and their physiological basis Part A.

(3) Morgan Spector: Moving Beyond the Dominance Myth.