Wednesday, July 23, 2014

IPO Club & Training

Today should be a wordless Wednesday post but I can't help myself!

We went to training today and it went really well. The only hiccup is that Seppel is not 100% reliable about going around all the blinds. He will do 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6. He's been trying to skip 2 lately and also has taken 4 a bit wide looking for Ryan. We are trying to teach him that he gets the bite AFTER he goes around all 6 blinds. He knows what he needs to do, he's just lazy.

We have been going to training since August of 2012. I never thought that one day I could send him around a blind and that I would be able to then send him to ANOTHER one. He can be so one track minded that I just never thought it possible. It is so weird how over time things have developed. It is crazy to look back at videos and see him warbling and leaping at a fence to get Ryan - totally unwilling to bark, where now he will bark without issue and occasionally comes flying in with attitude and wants to get a bite even though it isn't time! He knows enough to do all three IPO routines, and definitely has the IPO I down no problem.

When I got Seppel I thought I was just going to feed him and let him live out his days... I never thought we would do something beyond maybe some OB. That first time taking him up to Washington I felt so lucky and amazed at his willingness to work. I know he had never previously seen a bite sleeve and to see him light up when he saw it was amazing. Pictured below is his first bite:

Pic Belongs to Diane Jessup
Anyway, today our trainer Ryan told me that Sepp is an awesome dog, to which of course I agreed. It made me feel really good to hear from someone I look up to that my dog is a great dog. I mean of course in my eyes he is awesome, but to hear it from someone else who only sees him at training it felt awesome. He also told me that he feels that he is very stable and would absolutely take him home and trust him with his family. It just feels good to hear these things. It's like a parent being told how fabulous their kid is :p

ALSO in HUGE news, we get to join the Salem IPO club!!!!

I am SOOOOOOOO excited about this. Gotta start scheduling regular tracking days so we aren't total newbs when we join the club. I am also hoping to pick up some good OB tips in training as well. They meet Tuesdays and Saturdays, I can make it every other saturday and I am hoping maybe we can do every other tuesday also. We will see. I still have to fill out paperwork, but I am SOOOOO excited!!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spaying and Neutering

Most people in the US, if asked, would tell you that, absolutely, you should spay or neuter your dog. They would tell you there are already too many unwanted dogs out there, they might also tell you that it is healthier.

 There is recent research out there suggesting that spaying and neutering, especially early (under 6mos) is actually a detriment to your pet's health. In Norway it is actually illegal to castrate your dog.

This study on Goldens was released last year:
Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers

"As for the pathophysiological reasons for the joint disorders, one can point to the role of gonadal hormones in controlling the closure of bone growth plates [23], [24]. An atypical growth plate closure, resulting from the absence of gonadal hormones, may increase the chance of a clinically apparent joint disorder, such as HD, CCL, and possibly ED. Confounding factors that may influence the nature of a neuter-related joint disorder are the breed-specific gender vulnerabilities, including growth rate differences, as well as the timing of growth plate closure, which occurs more quickly in males than in females. In the males of this study, the occurrence of HD was doubled in the cases with early androgen removal as compared with intact males, but in females, removal of the ovaries did not appear to be associated with an increased likelihood of HD. This presumably reflects the effect of gender on growth-plate development. However, growth-plate disturbance in both males and females seems to have played a role in the occurrence of CCL in early-neutered dogs. This joint disorder was not diagnosed in either intact males or females. The mean age of CCL onset was later in life than in HD (about 4 years and 2 years, respectively)."

Initially when I read this study I thought "Of course, you are doing a study on dogs who get cancer anyway!" But the point of the study is not that these dogs are prone to these problems, the point of this study is there an increased risk when you alter the dogs.

Here is a study released this year on Labs and Goldens:
Long-Term Health Effects of Neutering Dogs: Comparison of Labrador Retrievers with Golden Retrievers

"A study utilizing the Veterinary Medical Database of over 40,000 dogs found that neutered males and females were more likely to die of cancer than intact dogs, especially of OSA, LSA and MCT [15]. This study included no information on age of neutering. The most recent publication in this area is a study of Vizslas utilizing owner-reported disease occurrence in an online survey, in which the incidence of cancers was reported higher in neutered dogs than in intact dogs [16]. The main cancers related to neutering were LSA, HSA and MCT. The occurrence of MC was very low in females left intact.
With regard to joint disorders, one study of effects of neutering in larger breeds documents a 3-fold increase in excessive tibial plateau angle – a known risk factor for development of cranial cruciate ligament tears or rupture (CCL) [17]. Across several breeds, a study of CCL found that neutered males and females were 2 to 3 times more likely than intact dogs to have this disorder [18]. Neither study examined early versus late neutering with regard to this disorder. The study from this center of neutering in Golden Retrievers (mentioned above with regard to cancers [14]) included examination of joint disorders. Of the early-neutered males, 10 percent were diagnosed with hip dysplasia (HD), double the occurrence of that in intact males. There were no cases of CCL diagnosed in intact males or females, but in early-neutered males and females the occurrences were 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively."

Here is a study on Vizslas:
Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized Vizslas 

"The Vizsla study involved 2,505 dogs, and reported these results:
  • Dogs neutered or spayed at any age were at significantly increased risk for developing mast cell cancer, lymphoma, all other cancers, all cancers combined, and fear of storms, compared with intact dogs.
  • Females spayed at 12 months or younger, and both genders neutered or spayed at over 12 months had significantly increased odds of developing hemangiosarcoma, compared with intact dogs.
  • Dogs of both genders neutered or spayed at 6 months or younger had significantly increased odds of developing a behavioral disorder, including separation anxiety, noise phobia, timidity, excitability, submissive urination, aggression, hyperactivity, and/or fear biting. When it came to thunderstorm phobia, all neutered or spayed Vizslas were at greater risk than intact Vizslas, regardless of age at neutering.
  • The younger the age at neutering, the earlier the age at diagnosis with mast cell cancer, cancers other than mast cell, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, all cancers combined, a behavioral disorder, or fear of storms.
  • Compared to intact dogs, neutered and spayed dogs had a 3.5 times higher risk of developing mast cell cancer, regardless of what age they were neutered.
  • Spayed females had nine times higher incidence of hemangiosarcoma compared to intact females, regardless of when spaying was performed, however, no difference in incidence of this type of cancer was found for neutered vs. intact males.
  • Neutered and spayed dogs had 4.3 times higher incidence of lymphoma (lymphosarcoma), regardless of age at time of neutering.
  • Neutered and spayed dogs had five times higher incidence of other types of cancer, regardless of age of neutering.
  • Spayed females had 6.5 times higher incidence of all cancers combined compared to intact females, and neutered males had 3.6 times higher incidence than intact males."

I know this might be a lot to take in and understand. I myself am still drawing my own conclusions. From what I have been reading I think it's important to realize that nothing is completely certain yet. There are not enough studies to conclude that your pet is completely safe from cancer/other issues if you keep them intact. However, most research is reporting that dogs are healthier with their hormones.

I met my friend Kay about a year ago. She has three intact dogs, two females and a male - all apbt. Something that I will never forget is when she pointed out to me that just because someone has intact dogs doesn't mean they will breed them. I never thought if it so plainly. I mean, I have friends who have intact dogs that they show - but at the time, in my mind, I felt if you weren't showing your dogs your dogs should be spayed or neutered. When she told me so plainly that "just because" it really made me realize how right she was. The majority of people who choose to keep their dogs intact for health reasons are not irresponsible people.

It still has been hard for me to wrap my head around and until I talked to this group: FB OSS and Vasectomy Info Group

They have answered my questions kindly and I often read the discussions other folks have. I have decided that for my next dog - male or female, I will wait until my dog is at least 2yrs of age before altering. If I have a male, I may not neuter at all. If I have a female at the very least I would remove the uterus, but I would probably do a traditional spay - only because at this point I have no desire to deal with heat cycles. My mind may change later. I have never owned an intact dog before so I have no idea what it will be like. Talking to other people it seems safer for males to be left intact than for females because females risk Pyometra. However it sounds like most people still wait until their females are over the age of 4 to spay their dogs, if they go through with a complete spay.

One interesting personal note as well is that all of the dogs we have treated for lymphoma/lymphosarcoma at work have all been dogs who have been spayed/neutered.

I hope to keep this post updated as more studies come out. It is still very new research, but it makes sense to me that hormones are important. In people they do not remove testicles from men unless medically necessary and in women it is nearly impossible to have your uterus removed unless it's medically necessary. While I know humans can communicate emotional distress, dogs cannot, and if plays such a huge role in people - I can only imagine it is similar in dogs.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Black and White Sunday

Something a little different. This is Compadre and Igoli, two Arabians I am lucky enough to be able to play with.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Using a Prong Collar

A friend recently contacted me because she has decided to get prong collars for her dogs, it got my gears turning because there are a lot of people out there who use this training tool improperly. There is no point in using a prong collar if you are not going to use it correctly.

A few things about the prong:
  • The prong collar comes in five sizes; micro, small, medium, large, and x-large.
  • A prong collar is meant to be taken apart to put around the dog's neck, unlike a choke chain that goes over the dog's head. If you can put it over your dog's head without taking it apart, the collar is too big!
  • A prong collar is less severe than a choke chain because it cannot be pulled tighter than the length of the chain/collar, and it is less damaging to the windpipe than the common choke chain.
  • If used properly you should be able to give your dog a light correction and they should respond immediately. Depending on collar size and the dog, you could essentially give a correction with only one finger.
  • When not training your dog should not be wearing this collar. This collar is not meant to be worn as an everyday collar.
  • Do not tether your dog with a prong collar on.

 Traditionally the prong collar should sit high up on the neck, just behind the dog's jaw:

The above picture is how the prong was intended to be used. It is tight enough that it will not slip down my dog's neck, and is in the correct position for the best contact. However, I typically do not have my dog's collar on this tight - I add another link and his collar sits like this:

As you can see, in the above picture the collar is looser and it sits lower on his neck. Most of the people I have trained with that use prongs allow them to sit a bit lower on the neck. As I mentioned, the first picture is how the collar was intended to be worn and will be the most effective when you give a correction. It is meant to be up high, behind the jaw because that is the most sensitive place on the dog's neck, as you move down there is more tissue and your dog will likely respond less to a correction, thus you will need to use more force - which pretty much negates the point of this collar.

This is an improperly fitted prong collar:

A google search brought up the picture above. This collar is entirely too large. Note, if the person were to pull all of the slack out of this collar, the collar would still be too large and it would be impossible to give any kind of a meaningful correction. This is ridiculous - and the dog should not even be wearing this collar! It serves no purpose if it is not fitted properly.

I was introduced to the prong collar in 2010 when I first started looking into Schutzhund training. At that point I was only used to using regular choke chains and the trainer brought up a really good point. That a choke chain is much more dangerous and damaging if used harshly as compared to a prong collar because a prong collar will not collapse the trachea - even if pulled completely tight. Because of the links there is a stopping point - whereas the choke chain has no end and can be pulled too tight if you want to.

My dog Seppel generally only wears the prong collar in bitework training, he is very amped up and motivated and does not respond to flat collar corrections. In every day life like training at home or at the pet store, I just use a flat collar. He is fully leash trained these days and behaves most of the time when we are out and about.

If I had to choose between a prong and a choke chain now I would move more towards the prong collar. I feel like they are far more effective in teaching your dog to stop pulling than the choke chain is, and I like that fact that I do not have to reef on my dog to get a response.

There are two rings on the prong collar. The live ring and the dead ring.

Pictured above I am holding the live ring. Note: I did not give my dog a correction here, just showing the ring!

Generally speaking I have my leash on the live ring. The live ring gives a deeper correction than having the leash attached to the dead ring. Again, I use it when my dog is in a high state of arousal, so I feel that he needs more of a correction.

You can hook your leash to both the live and dead ring, so instead of the collar tightening - when you pull the correction is much lighter, and is just you pulling on the collar.

As far as sizing goes, you really need to know your dog. If your dog is very sensitive you could use the micro size, here are pictures of pit bulls in a small and a micro:
Pictures courtesy of

Smaller/more links make for more effective corrections. The idea being you will give less corrections. The dog wearing the micro-prong has had a lot of obedience training and respects the collar, he could easily bend the collar if he really wanted to.

The prong collar I use on Seppel is the medium. To be honest it was given to me by a friend and it is just what I have stuck with but at this point I think he could wear a small and respect it.

Overall I like prong collars because I feel like you are more effective when you give your dog a correction and you can use less of them. Using a prong collar or any training collar for that matter is to use it to teach your dog the things you want to teach them, the idea being you will eventually phase out the training collar and your dog will do as you ask in a flat collar or without a leash at all.

I hope this was somewhat informative and helpful, I wish more people would reasearch before putting these kinds of things on their dogs!

EDIT: Just wanted to add, when in use - if your dog walks on the left side of you, the collar should be rotated so the rings are on the right side of the dog's neck, if they walk on your right side, the rings should be off to the left side.