Monthly Archives: February 2016

Reward good behavior

reward good behavior“How do I get my dog to stop …”?  I get this question a lot.  The answer is reward good behavior. 

When I ask clients what they want the dog to do instead, they are silent. 

Then they say “I don’t know”.  It isn’t really that they don’t know, it is they have never thought about it from that perspective before. 

Teaching a correct behavior to replace the incorrect behavior is an essential component to any compassionate training program.  Ideally the behavior that is taught is one that is incompatible to the naughty behavior.  This allows you to reward good behavior at a time in which the dog can not display the naughty behavior.  When the dog has been given enough rewards for the correct behavior, it will no longer attempt the incorrect  behavior.

When our minds entertain the idea of stopping a behavior, we tend to think in terms of punishment, which is risky to our overall relationship with the animal.  But when we think in terms of teaching an incompatible, correct behavior and we reward the good behavior our relationship can stay strong and blossom.  Consider some of these options.

Reward Good Behavior

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Teach the correct behavior by either setting it up so the dog can offer the correct behavior and then rewarding the correct response or through systematic training trials where you lure the dog into performing the correct behavior and then reward it generously.  The end result will be the old naughty behavior will go away, the new delightful behavior is strong and the relationship you have with your dog has not been compromised to any degree.

Tell me how you have applied this concept by clicking the leave a reply link at the top.

What were the results?

Flea Control – what a bother

fleaAn animal that is itchy due to fleabites has a tendency to be either irritable or antsy.  I have seen aggression, excitability, and chewing problems reduced just by the elimination of the flea problem.  These poor, itchy dogs also have trouble following commands and cause their owners some sleep deprivation due to nightly scratching, chewing and licking.  

The Willamette Valley is a prime breeding ground for fleas.  Our climate (amount of rainfall and reasonable temperature) is conducive to their survival, as is most of the world.   The flea’s purpose in life is to keep populations in balance by feeding on the weak.  Those who possess weakened immune systems have more fleas and do not survive.  According to the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC article FLEAS: THE LETHAL LEAPERS.  “the flea dates back millions of years.”

The structure of the flea’s body enhances its chance of surviving on fur-bearing animals.  Its flat body helps it move through the fur with little difficulty.  Its external skeleton, protects it from the teeth and claws of its host, and has small combs and bristles to give the flea the extra clinging power.  The flea has a life cycle that involves 4 different stages of development.  The egg, larva, pupa and adult flea are the different stages of flea development.  It is the adult flea stage that most people see.  The other stages do not feed on our animals and usually live in your carpet and yard.

So how do we eradicate this tiny invincible creature? 

I do not believe it is possible to wipe the flea off the face of the earth.  Nor do I think it would be wise to try.  It is here for a reason.  Without them the balance that exists within the environment would be threatened.   On the other hand I have no desire to have them living in my home or on my pets.   Fleas can and should be controlled.   

If your pet is not on a nutritious food, its immune system will not be receiving enough nutrients to help it control fleas on its own.  A weak immune system will encourage more fleas to be attracted to your pet.  You need to work on nutrition before flea season arrives.  It will take a minimum of 6 weeks to see results due to dietary changes.  Continue to use a nutritious diet throughout the year to maintain a healthy immune system.

Try adding one of these to your dog’s food

Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics – Get a formula manufacture for dogs.  Add it to your dog’s food to increase the nutrients your can is getting out of its food.

Vinegar – Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the dog’s food.  This helps to make the skin unattractive to pests.

Vitamin C – This vitamin acts as an antihistamine.  You can use about 250mg. per day.

Evening Primrose Oil – When the flea bites your dog it injects saliva under the dog’s skin to keep the blood from clotting.  The dog’s body recognizes the saliva as a foreign substance and sends negative prostaglandins to the site.  This causes the itch.  Evening Primrose oil stimulates the production of positive prostaglandins to relieve the itch.  Give one capsule daily.

The safest Flea Control Product

Flea Go – This is a Boric Acid Powder that is applied to all carpet and upholstered surfaces.  I use it in my garage.  It dehydrates the flea as opposed to poisoning them.  

For more flea control information, speak with someone at your favorite veterinary office or if you want an alternative approach visit The Healthy Pet, at 2777 Friendly St, Eugene Or.  Their phone number is 343-3411.


When dealing with poisons, read all instructions and warnings first.   Should your animal accidentally be poisoned, consult your Veterinarian immediately.  If you cannot visit a veterinarian, call the Animal Poison Control Center.

Duplaix, Nicole.  “Fleas: The Lethal Leapers”. National Geographic May 1988

Pica – Eating non-food substances

pica.jpg My Dog Just Swallowed A …
Pica is the behavior of “persistent chewing and consumption of non-nutritional substances that provide no physical benefit to the animal” (Troff).  While most animals will occasionally chew or swallow non-food item such as rocks, dirt, wood, fabric or paper, other animals appear to crave or seek them out.  This behavior can be accidentally taught or be caused by a medical problem such as a nutritional deficiency, anxiety, boredom or compulsive disorder.  Because this behavior posses a medical risk to a pet a combinations medical/behavioral approach is best in treating the problem.

Nutritional and medical problems leading to Pica

It is critical to rule out or treat medical problems when dealing with Pica.  Food allergies, difficulty absorbing the nutrients out of the food or a diet that is simply lacking in some way can cause Pica.  Find a holistic veterinarian that places emphasis on using nutrition to resolve medical problems to council you on the best diet and supplements for your dog.  

A Lack of Mental or Physical Exercise
Dogs are bright intelligent creatures that need both mental and physical exercise to behave appropriately in human society.  When they do not receive adequate mental and physical exercise they relieve their boredom and may expend the pent up energy through chewing and consuming inappropriate items.  To avoid problems of boredom and excess energy rotate toys and chew items at least once a day.  Offer chew items for 30 minutes at a time, but offer them multiple times a day.  Increased stimulation will be provided if you feed all meals out of food toys instead of out of a bowl.  In addition, play with your dog at least twice a day and make sure your dog goes on outings on a regular basis.

Anxiety and compulsive Disorder
Some animals attempt to relieve anxiety and stress by chewing and consuming items that have no nutritional quality.  To successfully address this issue the cause of the underlying stress will need to be discovered and addressed.  If the dog has separation anxiety the treatment would be different than if the dog has and issue with another animal that lives within the house.  Professional help with training and possibly medication prescribed by a veterinarian in addition to addressing the cause of the anxiety or compulsion may be necessary to successfully resolve this issue.

A lot of Pica issues are simply learned at an early age.  A puppy exhibits normal, healthy but unwanted investigation behaviors with their mouth and an owner runs over and snatches prized items away from the dog.  Many dogs learn the only way to keep greedy owners from stealing things from them is to swallow the item.  To avoid this problem or to change an already learned behavior around, do training set up in which the dog has something safe (to big to swallow in its mouth) and teach the dog that dropping the items on command is a good thing and it will be followed by treats and play.

In The Meantime
In the meantime, the more we can keep dogs from swallowing non-food items, the safer the dog will be.  Some people will use a muzzle at times in which the dog is likely to swallow stuff.  Other people will doggie proof the environment to keep the dog safe.  Most owners find the best approach to this problem is to immediately address it through a multi-pronged approach of veterinary counsel, increasing physical and mental exercise, training and doggie proofing the environment.

Kristin Trott, Tiffany Snell,