Jennifer Broome

The application of whistles in working field dogs

There are 3 universal whistle commands most commonly used for retrievers and flushing dogs (spaniels)
for upland training. Many owners inquire about using whistles in the field to communicate with their
dogs. There are great benefits to using whistles however there can also be downsides.

Whistles can provide an advantage while working dogs due the clarity of the noise. Whistles emit a
sharp sound that can penetrate the air enabling a dog to hear better while panting hard, running
through cover or shallow water. Whistles can also be effective for handlers to save their voice rather
than yelling commands.

What are the downsides? Well, it takes practice, timing, and coordination to effectively blow a whistle.
Proper use of this instrument involves good air capacity which comes from your gut in bursts as well as
the synchronization of your tongue over the end of the mouthpiece. The goal is to produce a crisp,
distinctive, authoritative TOOT sound. A whistle should command a dog’s attention. The amount of air
that you use or the intensity of the blow should be related to the distance from your dog. Whistle
inflection should be light while your dog is (close) within 10 to 20 yards and increase in intensity as the
distance increases (farther away). A poorly timed whistle, weakly blown whistle, or a cadence lacking
rhythm all can cause a dog to simply ignore your efforts. This is especially common with dog handlers
new to using a whistle. It is important to practice blowing a whistle if you plan to use this valuable
training tool. The goal is to achieve good timing, cadence and crispness with the sound.

What are the Whistle Commands? Think about the syllables in the actual command.
SIT = 1 syllable = 1 whistle blast or TOOT
HIGH ON or COME ROUND or HEY UP = 2 syllables = 2 blasts TOOT TOOT
COME HERE COME HERE COME HERE = multiple syllables or 3 to 5+ blasts TOOT TOOT TOOT TOOT TOOT

Let’s further explain these commands:
1 whistle = SIT and remain still until commanded otherwise
2 whistles = release from the SIT. HIGH ON, OK (release cue)
3 to 5 whistles = come towards me. Depending on the distance this could also mean come partially
towards me, then 2 whistles to HIGH ON (hunt em up) and go back to quartering. To completely recall
keep up the sequence to command to come all of the way in.

2 whistle blasts while the dog is moving (not at a SIT command) means change direction, for example
quarter from left to right. HEY UP or COME ROUND!
What are other whistle upsides? Simply put they can be slightly more pleasant to hear than a handler
hacking and yelling verbal commands. Whistles can be quick, subtle yet commanding.
But can whistles scare birds? For most game preserves or state lands with pen raised/released birds
most likely not. However, those hard-to-find King Of Game Bird grouse will flush when they hear you

coming through the woods. The prairie pheasants run and flush when they hear a truck door slam. So,
for wild bird hunting I am a believer that birds get spooked, and I choose to hunt silently!
Stay tuned to the next Gun Dog Blog to learn about whistles, bells, and dog gear afield.

Weight, Teeth, and Toenails: The 3 Neon Signs of Canine Health

Yup, those are the signs I talk about relentlessly when it comes to canine health. One glance at your beloved canine friend and I can tell if you love your dog more than you respect their basic health needs.

Whoa, you might say, that’s a pretty offensive statement! Well, I truly feel this way. Here’s why: 

 

Weight

When I see an overweight dog, I get angry. It shows me that the dog’s owner overindulges him with food and doesn’t exercise him enough. That is unfair.  

Additionally, as a professional trainer of nearly 30 years, I have seen firsthand how obese dogs suffer from behavioral problems in the form of aggression, boredom, acting out and disobedience. It is far healthier for a dog to be slightly underweight than overweight.  

Just one extra pound on a dog is equivalent to upwards of 10 pounds on a human. Most dogs that I see are easily five to 20 pounds overweight. Imagine carrying around a backpack with 50, 150 or 200 pounds of extra weight. Now, with no sense of self preservation, imagine running as fast as you can while carrying that burden. Doesn’t that just scream physical injury?  

Obesity in dogs may lead to increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. The lifespan of an overweight dog can be up to 2.5 years shorter than the lifespan of a dog with a healthy body weight.  

How do you achieve an ideal body score index for your beloved canine companion? Feed for the desired weight based on your dog’s body type and frame, cut out the treats, and exercise by walking or trotting at a slow pace over a long distance. Throwing a ‘Chuck It’ ball over and over is a great way to really hurt your dog, since they run with all-out reckless abandon and completely ruin their joints. Add the extra pounds and you are asking for injuries.  

The tell-tale signs for an obese dog include NOT being able to feel their ribs with gentle pressure over the skin, the lack of a tuck-up area when viewed dorsally (from above) behind the rib cage, and fat pad on the chest. 

But the easiest way to spot an obese dog? Have them sit. Is there a roll of skin and fat over the top of their knee? Is their butt area flat and fatty while sitting?  

Love them with healthy, appropriate meals. Get out there and walk them, travel the miles, and get fit together. You will both be happier!

 

Teeth

Let’s look at those pearly whites! Or are your dog’s teeth loaded with yellow and even brown tarter at the gum line?  

Oral health in dogs is very important. However, sadly, on average most dogs suffer from periodontal disease by the time they’re 2.5 years old. This disease silently invades your dog’s mouth, causing pain, gum erosion, and tooth loss.  

The effects of periodontal disease may also cause major issues with their organs and heart. The bacteria in a dog’s mouth forms into plaque, which hardens. This calculus then becomes cemented on the teeth and can cause inflamed gums. The bacteria that accumulate in the mouth can travel under the gums and directly into your dog’s blood stream.  

Signs of an unhealthy mouth include bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, and broken or rotten teeth. When a dog’s mouth is this bad, you should seek help from a veterinarian to have their teeth surgically scaled (cleaned). This involves an expensive procedure as well as the risk of anesthesia.  

To avoid dental problems, I have always been extremely proactive with my dog’s dental care. I give them raw bones from the time that they are eight weeks old. I encourage healthy chewing, which not only satiates their carnal desire to chew but also exercises their teeth and gums in a healthy manner, allowing them to maintain a beautifully healthy mouth mostly free of tartar buildup.  

It is not realistic for me to brush my dog’s teeth twice daily. My efforts are spent training and exercising my active pack. I encourage proper chew toys and raw bones so that they keep their teeth strong and their gums healthy, and they love it. 

 

Toenails

If it were up to me, click it would mean ticket when it comes to dog owners. If you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on a hard surface, you have failed in basic canine care.  

Every time I inquire about a dog’s long nails, I hear the excuses: “He hates to have his nails done,” “He doesn’t let me clip his nails,” “I am too afraid I will make him bleed.” These excuses are truly unfair to your dog, and always make me see red. Each time a dog’s nails hit the ground before their pads, the impact puts pressure on the base of the nail bed, causing them pain. Imagine pain with every step!  

This pain causes the dog to shift their weight backwards to take pressure off the nail. This then causes a flattened, elongated foot and a carpal hyperextension. This is called a “plantigrade” position; in other words, the long nails push the dog’s toes up and the heel comes down to balance, placing strain on the muscles and ligaments of the legs. Instead of standing upright over their feet, they effectively try to lean back to take the pressure off their toes. 

Long nails on dogs cause irreversible damage! They affect your dog’s foot, they affect your dog’s gait, and they lead to a variety of structural issues.  

So, let’s resolve this! When you get your next puppy, start using an emery board (nail file) daily, beginning at eight weeks, to condition them to work on their nails. Invest in a $35 Dremel cordless nail grinder and you can easily and gently work weekly on your pup’s nails. I can typically take over half of a dog’s nails safely off with one Dremel session and the dog instantly finds relief.   

If you already have a dog with long nails, you may find that they HATE getting their nails cut. Yes, because those long nails most likely hurt! Find a groomer who will work on them weekly to get them short. It can take months of consistent cutting and grinding to get the nail quick (blood/nerve supply) in the nail to recede since it grows as the nail grows long.  

Work on those nails yourself! Check out YouTube for tutorials on canine nail grinding. 

It may be stressful for you and your dog at first, but realize that your efforts will make amazing changes to your dog’s overall health and well-being.

Love, Kindness and Connection with Touch

Your dog’s emotions easily mirror your own. This means that your dog reflects the emotions that you portray when you are interacting together. My clients often tell me, “my dog won’t calm down, my dog jumps, my dog is wild, my dog won’t be still.” I see this behavior with many of the dogs that come to me for training.  The secret to having a calmer, more balanced, less excitable dog is the HUMAN! It is such an easy solution, yet one that nearly every human utterly fails to achieve.  

I came to this realization after spending countless hours on the road at my seminars. My own well-mannered, well-behaved, and well-trained dogs travel with me all over the country as model citizens, putting on shows and demonstrations that wow my audiences. My dogs have a beautiful on/off switch.  When asked to perform and show off they shine with excitement, determination, and commitment to their work. When asked to go to a place, be still, relax and focus with low energy, they easily switch gears. Well, that is until the HUMANS come along and totally uproot things.  

Let’s dig further here. How is it that my own personal dogs can be so calm and relaxed while traveling in my truck, while loose in my home, when commanded to go to a place and be still, or when I greet them?  The answer is simple! I am calm and relaxed. NEVER, never ever, do I walk into my home with excitement to see my dogs. In fact, the most humane and stable thing that you can do when greeting a dog is…. NOTHING. No emotion, no excitement, no pressure for them to react to you.  

My goodness that just seems cruel, doesn’t it!? Not really. The idea is to offer calm affection only when your dog is in a relaxed, calm state of mind.  If you offer affection and praise while a dog is excited, then they can become stuck in a perpetual state of reverberating, unstable energy.  While sadly humans think that a wiggly, busy dog is happy, it is actually an excited dog.  Dogs can enjoy excitement when playing with each other, or perhaps exercising; however, when they are around humans, let’s try to encourage their peaceful composure. A truly, happy, content dog is calm, still, and relaxed.

How can we achieve this emotion? When a dog is around you, be calm! Now picture this. Your human loved one (wife, husband, parent, child, or friend) is sitting next to you. How do you touch them?  With exuberant pats, smacks, stroking pets, roughing up? I would think NOT!  

Then why on earth would you ever touch a dog like that? I do not pet my dogs, instead I use calm, kind, loving touch.  I cradle their face, place my hand on their withers (shoulders), gently touch their chest, or lightly rub an ear. These soft touches relax your dog and teach them to melt into your hand.  It is the most beautiful bond and connection, and you will find your dog yearning for more.  

This is partnership, friendship and love. Feel your heartbeat lower, embrace the moment, and connect with your dog so that he now yearns for your calm touch. Both of you will enjoy a more stable and balanced relationship!

I’m Changing My State

By Jennifer Broome, QK Owner

First, my apologies- this title does not refer to moving from Connecticut to Florida, instead it refers to a change in physical and mental state of being. 

Think for a moment how you first felt when you read the title – was your first reaction FEAR? Fear of change? Fear I was leaving you? Fear of the unknown and what it would mean?

Recently I began studying with a motivational guru and the primary focus is all about our ability to change our state from one emotion to another in order to live a more fulfilled life.

Think now how you are feeling – a bit more relaxed? Less fearful? Wanting to know more?  How much effort did it take to go from insecure to confident?  From fearful to curious and quietly confident? From anxious to relaxed?

My new awareness and ability to understand ways to instantly change your state is truly amazing and empowering. It is a beautiful skill to be able to control your emotions so that you can immediately change your state.

These ideas led me to relate “Change in State” to my dog training and the many dogs that I encounter. 

A question that seems to always come up with dog owners is “How can I just make my dog calm down?”  My answer is typically the same, I do not try to make a dog calm down, instead I balance their emotions with work, excitement, and relaxation. And you can too!

For example, I can get my own dogs very excited and in a state of high arousal through exercise or field work training, but then I direct them to engage a thinking state of mind.  This helps them control their emotions and change their state!  Instead, all too many owners use a lot of excited energy which puts a dog in reverberating state of arousal and reactivity.  When the dogs become too wild, jumping, nipping, barking or exhibit anxious behaviors (often instigated or initiated by the owners) those owners suddenly want a calm, relaxed, well-behaved dog!

This typically does not work for dog owners who fail to teach a dog basic foundational obedience commands (heel, sit, lie down, come here, go to bed). AKA – a change of state – CALM!

I’d love to see these same owners go from highly excited to calm, from confused and fearful to receptive and trusting, from scathing mad to instantly happy and grateful.  Yes, it may seem pretty tough to do, but it’s a skill every one can hone!

When I think about a pet dog’s ability to change states, I think about how people greet their dogs with enthusiastic voices and tones, rough-em up petting and physical interaction.  Many owners encourage this behavior.  The wigglier a dog is, the busier their minds are, and most pet owners think this is a happy dog when really it is an excited dog and often behaviorally unbalanced.

When the owners get frustrated with their dogs escalating and sometimes obnoxious behavior, they want to the dogs to suddenly turn a switch and be calm.  I call it engaging their OFF switch – it’s a change of state!  This can be successful IF the dog has a great education for obedience where a wild, excited mind can suddenly be re-directed to sit and be still.

However, most owners fail to practice calmness with their dogs through obedience training in a thinking mindset.  The outcome is a highly aroused dog stuck in an excited state of mind. Dogs often have poor impulse control in response to stimulus while stuck in this mindset – just like many people.

 

I find it extremely stressful to be around dogs that are perpetually trapped in an anxious, busy, excited state of mind.  Their pulse is quickened, respiration increases, blood vessels dilate, digestion is interrupted and adrenaline flows. IT is time for ACTION!  When demands on the body and mind are stressed, this causes a fight or flight mode. This is expected during exercise, training and play time and can be a healthy way to drain energy. This is not desirable when you need a calm and relaxed dog!

So, what are great ways to help a dog engage their OFF switch (change state) to find a sense of calmness, low stress, peace, and Zen-like stillness?

I teach this with a crate or patience line training.  Both methods allow a dog to be in a confined area to practice being still!  Dogs that are allowed nonstop physical movement become stuck in a state of being neurotic.  They just cannot seem to relax physically or mentally.  Dogs sleep upwards of 12 to 16 hours a day, puppies upwards of 18 hours a day, and it just makes sense to confine them during these times so that:

  1. There is a factor to force the down time and encourage being still. A crate or patience line teaches them to figure it out on their own. This does NOT involve you doing it for them, THEY learn to change their state themselves!
  2. They truly DO stop to rest and sleep.
  3. In calm, quiet times their bodies can rest and digest, repair itself and replenish resources. They CAN and WILL become balanced and calm. I refer to this as a GIFT of forced down time (and we could all use that ourselves).

I believe that a well-balanced dog can master changes in state. 

That means that YES, they can exercise, run and play with an elevated heart rate and excitement, and YES, when suddenly leashed up or when asked to go lie down they have the ability to rein in and relax.

VS.

The flip side would be a dog that even after exercised stays aroused and in an incessant mindset of action (fight or flight activity).  This includes barking, whining, demanding attention, panting, pacing or general nonstop movement.

Which do you think would be of benefit to both of you?

How can you work on changing your dog’s STATE and have a more fulfilling relationship?

Do you balance controlled down time, mental problem-solving challenges such as obedience and then offer an outlet for energy burning times with exercise and play?  The more balance you can create, the more success you will have in your ability to change your dog’s state.  Our QK motto….A TIRED, TRAINED  DOG IS A HAPPY DOG!

Jennifer Broome now offers virtual training via Zoom. Contact us for more information or to schedule training.

What’s new for 2022?

At QK We are ever evolving and improving!

Due to arrive soon and be erected for the Spring, our new Steel Structure Covered Arena over our outdoor Challenge Course.  This will allow us to train rain or shine…well honestly we already do, BUT we will certainly be dryer and less sunburnt.

A BUSY schedule with new owner interactive classes at QK!

From Scent work, weekend puppy courses, obedience classes, new gun dog courses and our full day boot camp programs we have an exciting line up. We will also host specialty clinics with several of the TOP dog trainers in the country.  See the Calendar of Events on our website.

Meet our new metal workhorse ‘JOE’ Jenny’s Orange Excavator.  This has been a long time coming and we are excited to transform our grounds even more for our gun dog courses, hunting fields, woodland trails and more!

New puppy cages arriving!  We have such beautiful success with our puppy training programs that we are adding a new bank of custom kennel crates to our puppy room for larger breed pups.

New QK merchandise.  From new hats to t shirts and stainless-steel mugs and more we have fun QK gear to show your loyalty and support of our brand.

An addition to the Lodge!!??  We are currently planning an atrium gymnasium indoor training area out back to offer even more space to train and exercise dogs.

An AMAZING QK Staff!  Like many businesses who endured employee turnover during and post COVID, we sadly saw many of our long time QK staff move on to other careers.  While these changes presented challenges, we have built one of the STRONGEST Teams ever!  We have 4 amazing QK Trainers, we have 3 outstanding, experienced front office staff/managers, a PLAYCARE+ Team of counselors and many new kennel care workers.  With our onboarding processes and strong commitment to QK excellence, we continue to take our BRAND to new levels with creativity and passion.  Our 2022 QK Team ROCKS!

Preventing arthritis in your dog

By Kristin Williams, DVM (AKA Dr. K at QK our on-site veterinarian!)

I recently attended an online veterinary educational event regarding orthopedic disease in dogs. The presenter stated a couple of things which really had an impact on me. They are: 

1.) Up to 60% of dogs will ultimately suffer from osteoarthritis 

2.) Osteoarthritis is mostly a disease that starts with YOUNG dogs 

So…LOTS of dogs will have issues with arthritis, AND they are likely to be apparent at a young age. 

The reason for this is that many of the issues that cause problems are developmental orthopedic abnormalities such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, luxating patellas (knee caps), OCD (Osteochondritis Dissecans – bone disease where cartilage fails to mature properly), angular limb deformities, etc. 

What can you do to help prevent these issues in your dogs, or if already present, what can you do to treat them? 

First, if you are looking to purchase a dog, PLEASE make sure that the breeder has done appropriate screening tests for the breed. Here is a link that I have included in a previous newsletter with recommended genetic tests by breed: 

Browse By Breed | Orthopedic Foundation for Animals | Columbia, MO (ofa.org) 

NOTE that mixed breeds aren’t listed, but genetic issues can still be passed to the puppies, so adult testing before breeding would still be advised. Many “puppy mills” and other mixed dog breeders do not perform ANY screening tests on the parents. Ask for proof! 

Second, if your young pup has an “occasional limp” that comes and goes, don’t ignore it! Bring it to your veterinarian’s attention so that the source can be identified and treated at a young age if at all possible. The sooner the better if there is something to be fixed, before arthritic changes start to develop. 

Third, especially if you have a large breed dog, ask your veterinarian to perform screening radiographs of at least the hips (and elbows would be good also), which could be done at the time of spay or neuter if you plan to do so with your dog since he/she will already be sedated. Good radiographs (Xrays) are difficult to obtain in an awake dog, since the patient often resists having their limbs manipulated into position to get a diagostic image. 

Fourth, consider starting your dog on a good quality researched joint supplement early in life if issues are present, or your dog is an extremely active competitor. I personally prefer Dasuquin, made by the company called Nutramax, which has done a TON of research on the efficacy of their products. Another excellent product is called Adequan. This joint medication is administered via a series of initial and maintenance injections. Adequan also has a significant amount of research backing its claim of efficacy. 

Last, as I have harped upon previously, maintain your dog in a good, lean body condition. This is NUMBER ONE to help prevent/treat arthritis. I am sad to say that not all vets will recognize that a dog is FAT. So, here’s a link to a body condition scoring chart (which I have posted in previous newsletters) for your reference to help guide you to maintaining a happy, healthy dog! 

Body-Condition-Score-Dog.pdf (wsava.org) 

Bringing A New Baby into a Home with Dogs

An Interview with QK Obedience Trainer Sheena McNeil by Jennifer Broome, QK Owner

All kids should have a fluffy, loving and loyal dog to grow up with!  Remember the days where there were dogs loose in the neighborhood that would happily stroll about, visit families and play exuberantly with people and other dogs?  I sure do!  In fact, my neighborhood Golden Retriever was aptly named “Jennifer the Dog”.  Ironically when my mom was pregnant with me, she met the neighbor when the golden puppy ran into our yard.  My mom told our neighbor that was going to be MY name!

These days, dogs really do not roam loose anymore.  Between leash laws, dog licenses and just the hustle and bustle of suburban or city life, this would be dangerous for our dogs.  Most are not really car savvy, and they are also not always well-behaved or social enough to enjoy wandering freely.

In addition, dogs today seem to be, well just different from those farm type or neighborhood dogs of days past.  Families are getting designer breeds, pure-bred working dogs, or rescue dogs and these dogs are very much part of the family.  These dogs are extremely smart, athletic and work oriented yet they often lack early socialization, manners training and even basic foundation training for obedience.  Unfortunately, it is common to lose perspective that dogs are animals, and they view things very differently from humans.  Just this week I had two calls about young, well-bred dogs that bit children.  Sadly, it was the human’s faults in both cases.  The dogs were simply being pack animals and they were asserting their dominance in their natural behavior.  One of these cases, the dog was aroused by children playing ball games with her and the dog nipped out of excitement and dog style rough play.  The other case, a juvenile intact male working breed dog was sleeping at his owner’s feet and a grandchild just happened to walk by, startle the dog and the dog lashed out with a bite.  In hindsight, with the family all packed into the Grandparent’s home post COVID for months, there was just too many young children in this dog’s domain, and he should have been crated.  This dog was doing the job he had assumed, he was protecting his master.

I reached out to our QK Trainer Sheena for her perspective and advice on dogs in a household with children.  Sheena has a 2-year-old toddler, and in my opinion, Sheena is doing everything right to protect her child as well as being fair and appropriate with her FOUR dogs. In all fairness, Sheena was a Dog Mom before a Human Mom, so the dogs were there first!

I have a tremendous respect for our QK Trainer Sheena McNeil who originally came to me many years ago as a client.  She later spent several months in intense schooling at the Michael Ellis Dog Training School in California, and she made such an impact with her instructor Michael that he gave Sheena his high energy, working Labrador Retriever.  Sheena and this dog bonded, and Sheena worked hard with this dog for scent detection and field work.  Sheena owns four very driven, working dogs to include 2 American Labrador Retrievers, 1 Springer Spaniel and 1 Brittany Spaniel.

Here is the feedback that Sheena offered to me:

“I wanted to send you a couple of notes about how I introduced my dogs to a baby coming into my home.  

  • Baseline level of obedience on all dogs in the home.  They must go lie down, sit, recall and have manners.
  • Adults in the home have strong leadership, structure, and boundaries with all dogs in the home, First and Foremost!
  • Dogs should be good at adapting with changes to schedule. Dogs that have been on the same schedule for most of their life are going to have a harder time when this huge change happens. Most times with new parents, their dog is their child and when the baby comes, generally, this changes and having clear boundaries and structure in the home is crucial to a dog accepting this change. 
  • Dogs are comfortable using management tools in the home. (ex. Crates, placebeds, x-pens, baby gates, etc.) Placebeds, Wire crates and x-pens can be helpful with allowing the dog to feel like part of the family while still being contained. 
  • Make sure the dogs have somewhere to go to be alone/undisturbed when the family has people constantly coming in and out of the house to see the baby.
  • Change the dog’s setup and schedule, as soon as possible after finding out you are expecting, to what it will be when the baby arrives.  This way there will not be a change to schedule or routine when the baby comes.  Also, dogs will get stressed when parents start changing around the house so getting that done early so that they dogs have time to adjust to the changes can help.
  • I had someone take the dogs for the first week I was home so that I had a chance to settle in with baby before dealing with the dogs.  This is a wonderful but stressful time for parents and adding stressors one at a time instead of all at once can be helpful.
  • Not sure why it is common practice for parents to bring home a blanket for their dog to smell before the baby comes home.  In my opinion your dog can smell that baby even before you know you are pregnant.  Not sure why smelling a blanket is supposed to be helpful.  Strong leadership in the home is more important. 
  • I also did not allow my dogs to come near the baby.  When I carried my baby around, they were to give me space PERIOD. I did not put my child on the same level with the dogs. When I did eventually do this, it was from behind a gate. From the first day the dogs were to respect the baby’s space.  They do not need to be near the baby to smell her. 
  • (optional) for the first few months I did close the dogs off (baby gates) from the rooms that I spent the most time in with the baby.  
  • I worked on having the dogs be able to walk on leash while I pushed and an empty stroller to make sure that there were no concerns there.
  • For dogs that are sensitive to sounds it might be helpful to desensitize them to baby crying. I would use a recording if needed. 

These were things that I did when I found out that I was expecting, and my pack of dogs transitioned very well to this GIANT life change.  I will say that I have only done this once, but I feel it was pretty successful.”

Wow Sheena, this is really great advice.  Thank you for taking the time to share your success story.  I know how important your four dogs are to you, but I also know that they are high powered field dogs, and they too need jobs.  Obedience and following our Leadership is a job, and one that enables them to accept their place in our family pack dynamics.  A child should never be put into jeopardy around a dog.  Our job is to protect our human family and keep order with the furry ones.  Just remember, they don’t cry, throw food or throw tantrums to show their resistance, they growl, snarl and bite!  They are dogs.

Why would I get pet insurance? 

By Dr. K.

So…I got a new Springer Spaniel Puppy!  And guess what the first thing is that I did?  I GOT PET INSURANCE!!!!

But…I’m a vet.  Why would I get pet insurance?  The answer is: because the expenses of treating serious accident, injury, illness or underlying orthopedic conditions can get VERY expensive very quickly and require specialty care that I cannot provide for my own animal (never mind the average dog owner).

In addition, there are many genetic diseases that could be an issue for my dog before I even have any other problems!  Check out this website and find your breed (or the parents of your breed if a known mix) and see how many possible diseases your breeder should have screened for BEFORE breeding your dog/puppy:

ofa.org/browse-by-breed

For the English Springer Spaniel here are the suggested screenings:

• Hip Dysplasia
• Elbow Dysplasia
• Eye Examination
• Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) DNA Test
• FUCOSIDOSIS
• PFK
• Degenerative Myelopathy
• Autoimmune thyroiditis
• Cardiac Evaluation

These are just SOME of the possible underlying genetic diseases that are common in the breed I chose.  I will hope I never have to deal with any of them!!

So how much is Pet Insurance, anyway?  Here is the chart I was sent by the insurance company that I chose.  Obviously, as your deductible goes up, your cost goes down!  I ultimately chose a higher deductible since I am mainly interested in covering catastrophic issues.  Keep in mind that this chart may be significantly different for other breeds and ages:

Deductible Taxes Recovery and Complementary Care (Optional) Monthly Cost
0.00 0.00 15.56 136.09
50.00 0.00 12.45 110.28
100.00 0.00 10.78 96.43
200.00 0.00 8.87 80.62
250.00 0.00 8.20 75.07
500.00 0.00 5.94 56.26
750.00 0.00 4.47 44.04
1000.00 0.00 3.36 34.79

I chose the company Trupanion, because they were willing to waive all wait periods for any issues I had provided I signed up for a policy immediately after my dog was examined by a veterinarian.  I also considered Healthy Paws, a very good company that QK owner Jennifer Broome has had excellent experience with over several years with multiple dogs.

So, food for thought – consider pet insurance, especially if your dog is young.  It is best to get insurance before any underlying issues surface which are then considered to be pre-existing conditions and are excluded from coverage!

Doc K

 

Dog Food Storage Dangers

By Jennifer Broome, Owner, QK Dogs

Many of you do the research, you ask your vet or your breeder and through due diligence you choose a food that you feel will be the healthiest choice for your beloved dog.  You all know the adage “You are what you eat!”  Well certainly the same goes for our furry companions.  These days there are a plethora of dog food options out there, from ‘boutique fad dog foods’ to the tried-and-true Purina Dog Food that QK Dogs has come to rely on as the most digestible, healthy, and safe choice for our dogs while in boarding and training at QK.

Regardless of your dog food choices, as a kennel owner of over 25 years, I am seeing some huge problems when it comes to sending your dog to us for care.  Dogs are dropped off with garbage cans, Tupper wares, kitty litter containers, fancy storage containers and even plastic bags containing their dog food.  While this may be your choice for your convenience of dog food storage, it is actually a nightmare for the caretakers of your beloved dogs.  Why!?  Well, we want to know which food that you are feeding!  We want to check the protein and fat levels and we want to read the label to understand the protein source so that we are feeding the appropriate amounts.  Recently we had very obese dogs show up on a freeze-dried designer food stored in Ziploc bags.  We were feeding according to the owner’s request, however when I actually decided to play detective and look up the food, it turns out that the owner was feeding over double the recommended amount of this very rich food!  Additionally,  we want to know the batch of particular food that you send along because we are always on alert for recalls or possible food issues.  All of this is on our shoulders while you may be happily vacationing out of the country!  What if your dog runs out of food?  What are we left to assume?  Can we try to Google the kibble shape and guess!?

While your dog is away from home they are naturally stressed.  Changing their food abruptly can easily cause stomach upset, so we need to be able to order more food or try to find a similar match if you do not send enough.  Many dogs burn a lot of extra calories while in boarding and training, so owners often do not send enough food.  Owners often send their own ‘scoop’.  They say just give their dog 1 scoop twice a day.  Well, a ‘scoop’ is often a far cry from a measured cup, and dogs need to be fed appropriately based on their breed, age, body score and exercise.  We ALWAYS use cups when measuring our QK Dog’s food.

Well, isn’t it actually more convenient to just dump a 40# bag of dog food into a plastic or metal container for easier storage?  Yes, honestly it is!  However, there are many dangers with this.  Here is a reply from Karl Gunzer, Director of the Sporting Dog Group with Nestle-Purina PetCare:

“It is recommended that food be kept in the original bag that it comes in for several reasons.

First and foremost – sanitation. Any time you transfer food to another container, you are going to add the potential to introduce bacteria, germs, etc. I’d bet most storage containers, even when new, do not go through the same sanitization processes as our Purina bags.

Also – as your QK Veterinarian Dr. Williams suggested, the reality is that people don’t regularly clean storage containers and by continually dumping new food in with old, they increase the chance for rancidity, mold, etc.   Even if they’ve used all the food, if the container is not washed, cleaned and sterilized, there is still cross-contamination.

 Another reason to keep it in the bag is traceability. If you’re ever concerned about the quality or safety of the food – you can provide the manufacturing code which can trace the product back through the full supply chain.  Most people who dump their food in a bin throw away the bag, and consequently lose the ability to trace their food if there are any concerns.”

Hmmm, pretty useful information, isn’t it?  So, in order to keep your pet’s food properly stored, the best advice is to put the entire bag into a resealable container.  Once you run out, simply toss out the bag and replace with a new bag.  This should help to ensure freshness and you will have access to the specific bag serial numbers in the event there is a recall or problem.

And remember, when you send your dog to us for care, please include the original dog food bag!

Perspective from a Dog going to PAQK Bootcamp

What is your dog thinking?

Good question!

From body language to barks… dogs communicate what they are thinking or feeling all the time.

In this story, we imagined what a new arrival to one of our boot camps would have to say:

My leash has been up on the kitchen counter since last night. I know we’re going O-U-T, today.

Is she awake yet?
No.
Now?
No.
Maybe my wet nose in her armpit?
“Ughhh ok, ok, I’m up, I’m up,” my packmate says.

Good. Good. Good.

She kicks her legs out of bed and slips on those fuzzy slippers I like to gnaw on behind the couch… my den. I’ve already chewed three pairs, but she keeps buying more.

Good. Good. Good

Is that the sound of the door opening? Woosh… I push past her and mark my favorite spot on the lawn…ahhh  What do I hear next? Foood! More food added to my always-full bowl  No waiting or begging for me!

OhhhhmyGawd!

She’s grabbing the leash! Must jump… Must circle …. Must pulllllll… pullllll.. pulllll to the car.

“Slow down boy, relax,” she says, but I can’t stop. I have squirrels to chase… SQUIRRELS!. I see one, and I’m off running…until… my collar causes me to start choking. But, that’s ok… we are going for a RIDE.

Nose against the glass.

Nose against the glass.
Slobber.
And, let me start that high-pitch whining and barking that makes her shoulders hunch… until… yes.. the window is down and I’m leaning out, my ears flapping in the breeze!
Good. Good. Good.
Hey, that was the dog park we just passed.
Bark.
Dog park.
Bark… Bark… Bark
Turn.
Are we there yet?
Tell me we’re there.
Why are we going so slow?
I’m hungry again.
Where are we?
Was that a SQUIRREL?

Bark.

Wait, what is that?

A boat. A ramp. A circle thing in the air.
And… DOGS! Soooo many dogs.
Let me out.
Let me out
Let me out.
Pulling, pulling, can’t breathe… but can’t slow down.

So many dogs, So many people, it’s P-L-A-Y-T-I…

‘WHO’S DOG IS THAT?

My packmate stops. I stop. That was loud.
I hear the voice again… ‘Who’s DOG is THAT!?’
Then I see her… the LEADER.
I want to smell her… jump up and say h-e-l
WHAT WAS… THAT?
Did she just step towards ME and defend her space!?…. woah.
LEADER looks down at me.
I don’t like that.
Stop looking at me.
I lean on my packmate for help and.. oh no… she gives my leash to the LEADER!
We are walking fast.
I know how to stop this… I sit.
LEADER pulls ME.
Ok, I’ll run away.
She pulls me AGAIN.
I try to go in a different direction.
She pulls.
And… she’s looking at me AGAIN.
Soon, we’re going to the left, we’re going to the right, she’s stopping, we’re turning, we’re walking.
What is happening to me? Do I kind of like this?
The longer we go, the more I like it…, I feel calm.
The LEADER is in charge, and that’s ok. I actually feel calmer following her guidance.
Wait, is that a boat? That’s not ok.
No, not getting in the boat.
It’s wobbly. It’s strange. I’m afraid.
LEADER tugs. She insists.
No.
LEADER tugs again, she must know I can do this… and.. I JUST DID IT.
I’m in the boat. My tail is wagging. I’m proud of myself!
And, I’m out of the boat.
LEADER rubs my head, she’s proud of me too.
Wait, is that a ramp? My next challenge?
The day passes quickly, my entire body is tired.. including my brain (although I’m not sure what that is).
Time to go home.
Time for a ride.
I don’t care about the squirrels,
I don’t care about the food, not even the slippers can keep me awake.
Not today.
We did good today.
I hope we come back soon.
But for now, I close my eyes, a tired, trained, and very happy dog.