Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bloat in Large and Giant Breed Dogs

There is been a great deal of discussion on one of my trainers' listservs about bloat.

Bloat is a condition in which there is a rapid accumulation of air in the stomach. Torsion occurs when the dilated stomach twists, cutting off contact with the esophagus at one end and the small intestine at the other. This isolates the stomach and traps the air. The result is deadly.


  • feed your dog multiple small meals, not one large meal
  • if your dog gulps his food (Labs are notorious for this), do what you have to do to slow him down
  • do not elevate your dog's food bowl

For more detailed information, go to:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Music as a Calming Agent for Dogs

This is a wonderful concept. I always leave NPR on for my furkids when I'm away and they've never complained ... I'll pick up the CD and let you know what they think! Dee

After nine CDs, Lisa Spector has found a new audience for her classical piano recordings. The 10th is "Through a Dog's Ear, Vol. 1: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion." The 11th, "Driving Edition - Music to Calm Your Dog in the Car," came out in May. Spector, 46, runs a music school on Main Street in Half Moon Bay.

"I had attended a seminar on psychoacoustics - the study of sound and the human nervous system. I started applying that with the students at my music school, and there was this extreme effect in helping them.

I wanted to see how effective this is with dogs, so sound researcher Joshua Leeds and I ran a research study throughout the country, directed by veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner. We recorded four hours of music and we applied the same principles that would be effective for calming people. We went from one hour of very slow, simplified classical piano music at 40-70 beats per minute ranging to trio music that was cello, oboe and piano that was 80-110 beats per minute. In people we found that number of beats is very important because slower music discharges the nervous system.

We learned that the same music that relaxes people relaxes dogs. A dog would recognize a very slight difference. We were so amazed by the results that we then tested only dogs that had anxiety issues - separation anxiety. We purposely tested on the Fourth of July so we'd get fireworks, which is a big problem with sound anxiety. The results that came out with slow, simplified piano were twice as effective as regular classical music in relieving anxiety.

'Through a Dog's Ear' is a 60-minute album of solo arrangements that are psychoacoustically prepared. They are lower frequency. We simplify it and create this scenario that helps relax dogs. There are arrangements from Bach, Beethoven, Chopin. It's not in any other form you will find. It is music that has been rearranged. To record it, I brought a 9-foot Steinway to Menlo Park.

People will find it at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, pet supply stores and online at 'Through a Dog's Ear' is also a book. It's an exploration into how our human soundscape affects the dogs in our lives, and our awareness of how that can create behavior issues.

One of out every seven dogs has a behavior issue.

The wonderful thing about this CD is that it is something that people will actually love. No matter what dog you have, even if you have a border collie, you're going to be the one putting the CD into the player. Border collies are so smart they can almost put the CD on themselves.

I have started recently a Canine Classical Concert presentation in which we are playing this music for dogs. Dogs love the vibrations that the piano creates. Last week I had 11 dogs in my living room in a small space and they all mellowed out, lay down, flopped over and were just as happy as can be, while I was playing the piano.

I am not a behaviorist. I do not treat individual dogs. I suggest that people use this music in adjunction with whatever therapy they are using. People can call me up if they want their dog to have a private concert."

The Lightbulb: I was puppy-sitting for a 9-month-old, 90-pound dog named Tank. He would tear around the house in sheer delight, and I noticed when I started playing the piano, playing certain kinds of classical music, he would slow down, lie down and within a minute he was snoring. I started thinking, 'If this music was so effective on this dog, how effective would it be on other dogs, particularly in relieving anxiety issues?'

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


This may be more than you want to know, but ... Here's a link to a website full of information about ticks, what to do if bitten, and photos of ticks in different stages.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Missouri's AG Files Lawsuit

The attorney general of the state of Missouri has filed a law suit against the organization that provided a "diabetic alert dog" to a local Chesterfield family. Here is the press release:

June 10, 2008

Nixon lawsuit against St. Elizabeth dog trainer alleges that diabetic alert service dogs were not properly trained Jefferson City, Mo.

Attorney General Jay Nixon is suing a Miller County business and its owner who took thousands of dollars in payment from consumers to train service dogs, many of which did not perform the service for which they were trained. Nixon says Heaven Scent Paws of St. Elizabeth, and its owner Michelle Reinkemeyer, failed to refund those consumers' payments. The lawsuit filed Monday in Cole County Circuit Court seeks an injunction, consumer restitution, penalties and court costs.

According to Nixon, Heaven Scent Paws (HSP) advertises and offers a three-week training program in Cole County for diabetics to obtain diabetic alert service dogs. Acceptance into the defendants' training program was conditional on the participant raising a minimum of $6,000, which was to be turned over to HSP before the start of the three-week program. Once the $6,000 payment was made, HSP required participants to sign a contract which governs the terms of their participation in the program. Nixon's office received numerous complaints from consumers, alleging that HSP:
  • Misrepresented that their trained dogs could alert diabetics for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), when some HSP-trained dogs could not;
    Misrepresented that HSP-trained dogs are service dogs, when some of those dogs lack the temperament to act as service dogs;
  • Required participants to sign contracts (after paying $6,000) which permits HSP to dismiss them from the program at any time for reasons that are vague and subject to unilateral interpretation by HSP, providing no recourse for the dismissed participant to challenge their dismissal or recover their money;
  • Required participants to sign contracts that permit HSP to remove a dog from possession of the participant at any time at HSP's discretion, with no recourse for the participant to challenge the removal of the dog or recover the money donated to HSP;
  • Required participants to sign contracts which provide that HSP retains ownership of the dogs provided to participants, even after completion of the program, but absolves HSP of any liability for the dogs, which they selected and trained, once the dogs go home with the participants; and
  • Falsely claiming to participants who complete the training that they have completed the course of training and testing as set forth by the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), when the IAADP does not have a program for diabetic alert dogs, its standards are not meant to certify assistance dog teams, and that the IAADP has demanded that HSP remove any mention of the organization from its graduation certificates.

Nixon's lawsuit is seeking an injunction to stop the defendants from violating state consumer protection laws. The Attorney General is also requesting that the court order HSP to pay full restitution to all participants who suffered financial loss due to the defendants' unlawful conduct, appropriate civil penalties and all costs in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Iron Dog Competition

Thanks, Susan, for the link to the Iron Dog article. This is an annual event for working dogs (police and SAR) and their handlers. Justice the GSD rocks!