Some people should not own dogs.
I know that sounds harsh but admit it, it is true. And I am not speaking of the obvious neglectful owners, but of the people who cruise through life and never give proper thought to shaping their puppy's behavior so that it lives a happy well adjusted life.
This really hit home lately when the kid upstairs decided to get a puppy.We have two bark parks here but they are not being utilized to this pups advantage as it sounds like his exercise requirements are instead being carried out on my ceiling. The noise alone, of him thundering across the ceiling, will drive one mad but as someone whose life has been dedicated to making good decisions in dog care and behavior, hearing and watching the mistakes is unbearable. I cringed watching a little puppy being coaxed down huge flights of stairs, knowing that pup cannot see the stairs properly and worst of all because of his body type, was being set up for a lifetime of spinal compression as an adult dog.
That one repeated mistake will cost the owner a fortune in vet bills when the pup grows up.
And the reality is that many, many people actually CAUSE the problems in their dogs and then have the nerve to discard them!
Today, I was trying to do some job related work at home but the sound of a crate rocking back and forth above me combined with cries, barks and howls because the owner was gone, made that work impossible to do. Just as it was Friday night when I tried to sleep.
This owner, like many uninformed owners apparently doesn't realize that you cannot just put a pup in a crate and leave.
The pup has to be conditioned to accept it so that he feels secure when left alone. If you don't, you wind up with a dog developing displacement behavior and separation anxiety and we all know that is the number one cause of dogs being dumped in rescues and pounds.
So how do you teach a pup, or even a newly acquired adult dog to stay home alone, quietly without destroying your house or upsetting your neighbors?
It is quite easy, and here is how-
Section the dog in one part of your home or apartment where possible damage could be minimal. Ideally where the dog can see you leave and come home. I have always used an expen to section off the area. Give the pup plenty of busy toys. Dog puzzles, a treat filled Kong, their favorite squeaky toys. Get the dog interested in one of the toys and then say " I will be back"..and walk out the door for five minutes. Come back, praise and reward the dog if he has been quiet. The next day, repeat this making it 10 minutes, then 20, 40, etc. Once you are at an hour, be certain you leave water and if need be a piddle pad. And ALWAYS make certain you have let the pup run at the dog park, in your yard, or had a very long walk prior to leaving. Pent up energy leads to a lot of mischief.
So why does this work?
Because it mirrors how dogs are hardwired.
In the wild, the mother dog leaves her pups to hunt for food. When she begins leaving them, they are too small to make noise and attract predators. By the time they are old enough to move around and bark they are already conditioned to stay put and be quiet.
It is very important for the dog's happiness, your happiness and yes, your neighbor's happiness, that you raise a well adjusted dog and take the best care of that dog both physically and mentally.It is a lot of work and a lot of responsibility.
But if done correctly, the rewards will be great. If done incorrectly, well... just look at all the dogs tossed away each year.
If you are considering rearing a dog naturally, you first have to decide if you want to go the route of Eastern medicine, using Eastern remedies, or English, using traditional English herbs. My advice is make a choice and stay with it. Become thoroughly knowledgeable to the best of your ability. And find a vet who has an understanding of natural rearing and herbal supplements. In my area we are lucky to have a holistic vet who practices the English method and literally down the road a holistic vet specializing in Eastern medicine.
Why, you ask, should one stick to one method? Because the subject is so vast you cannot possibly become literate in both. Because it is a lifestyle. To be fully effective, using herbs and natural rearing, must be part of a complete mindset. That includes diet, exercise and environment. I don't mean you need to set little Buddhas next to your dogs' bed, I mean you need to remove toxins from your dogs environment. Lighten the toxic burden so that true health can develop.You need to focus on creating health, not on routine disease prevention.
THAT is the biggest difference between orthodox medicine and natural rearing.
Orthodox medicine focuses on disease prevention, and focuses on certain diseases. But it does not focus on creating health. A healthy naturally raised dog will in most cases, not contract these diseases, and if they do, the intensity and duration of the disease is going to be mild and short lived and a healthy immunity develops. A case in point. I once had a litter of five week old naturally reared pups on the ground. They were just beginning to explore the outdoors.The next door neighbor, who raised in the orthodox manner, had her home kennel of show dogs stricken with parvo (despite being vaccinated). Three days later, two of the pups had smelly stool for about a minute. I knew that smell, it was parvo. It was enough to set off alarms with me, knowing the very close proximity they were to parvo and being so young. We went to the vet and blood work showed an elevated count. The vet said the bad stool was from parvo. The vet felt they did not need treatment other than some slippery elm and probiotics. The pups never had another bad stool, never lost their energy and never developed any cardiac issues as so often happens when young pups are exposed to parvo virus. Both parents had been naturally reared, and that vigor, the health created in their parents was also a part of the pups health.
The dog in the above photo had been injured early in her adult life,she was crippled, two vets in two states had said she would never regain proper use of her injured leg, that nothing could be done for her. She came to us, was put on herbal remedies and reared naturally. Her first show was the Nationals and she won her class, flying around the ring with grace and beauty. She lived to be 17 years old in a breed with a far shorter lifespan.
Holistic considers the whole..it is a lifestyle choice, one does not give a dog milk thistle for a bad liver and consider that dog as holistically, naturally, raised. If you are considering a switch to natural rearing bear in mind you must look at the whole environment. And bear in mind also that in some dogs it can take 3 years to see a coat reflect light like a mirror and energy that radiates health and happiness. But before you start, educate yourself and develop a plan. In my opinion the pay off is worth it. Having had dogs raised both ways, I would never go back to orthodox rearing.
In future posts I will share what to expect when you change a dog over to a holistic lifestyle, and provide a quick start guide for those up to the challenge.
Recently board member Nancy Martin, shared with me work she is doing with F.I.D.O. Friends Involved Dog Outreach, a program based in Oregon.
Their goal is to keep beloved dogs in the homes by providing much needed food and supplies.
They also have an established food bank and through another program known as VetsPets donate food to veterans, active military personnel and their families.