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Autumn’s New Leaf: Day Three — November 16, 2022

Autumn-day-3

Today, Autumn was active in our new arena — an open-air space with a covered roof, that provides both a sense of the outdoors, while being sheltered. This space was a great location to help Autumn continue to build her confidence because with confidence comes a reduction of fear.

Working one-on-one with Sheena, Autumn was run through a series of balance-testing exercises — slat bridge, barrel. With each successful approach to these training objects, it’s possible to witness Autumn’s strength (physical and mental) return. While still understandably anxious, this kind-natured dog no longer hugs the ground, but openly explores her environment, responds to the lead and looks to her trainer for clues as to direction and the “job” to do.

Autumn-day-3

In just a matter of days, we can see amazing progress and have confidence that the right family will be welcoming Autumn home in a matter of weeks.

See the full video of her journey on our youtube channel: youtu.be/I1npx0kRGGQ

The Arrival of Autumn: Day One — November 14, 2022

It’s not often anyone would look forward to the arrival of a police vehicle, but on Monday, November 14, 2022, the entire QK team could not wait for the animal control officer from Suffield, Connecticut to park by our front door.

It had been a long 6 days.

For nearly a week, the caring team from Suffield had combed the woods in the State Wildlife Management Area trying to recover a young Springer Spaniel that had been abandoned by (or run from) her owners. By the time she was safely in hand, Autumn — as she would come to be known — weighed only 26 pounds.

A call to QK.

Years earlier, Jennifer and the QK team worked with the Suffield community to train and place rescued sporting dogs in their fur-ever homes. Familiar with our compassionate experience, Suffied reached out to QK, once again, to see if we could help Autumn.

Clearly terrified from her experience or potential earlier abuse, when Autumn arrived she was paralyzed with fear. We immediately began building trust, sitting with her in the car, and slowly coaxing her out to explore a new, safe environment. Hugging the ground with deep anxiety, the trauma was clear but even more clear was this — despite her experiences, Autumn was not aggressive or defensive. We knew that with time, and compassionate training, we could help Autumn and pair her with a great fur-ever home.

Autumn’s new leaf began that day.

Assigned to Sheena O’Neil, a gentle and experienced trainer, Autumn was given every opportunity to explore her new surroundings from the safety and security of her own crate, later that evening going home with Jennifer to enjoy the companionship of other dogs.

Soon, Autumn was fetching/retrieving toys, displaying her natural instincts — a sure sign that healing had begun.

In the days ahead we will share Autumn’s progress with the QK community and when the time is right, place Autumn with a family where she can hunt and pursue birds to let this sweet girl fulfill her genetics.

See more of her journey on our youtube channel: https://youtube.com/shorts/GueoJyZWIVY

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!

CANINE “KENNEL” COUGH BASIC INFORMATION

MARCH, 2022 – CURRENT STATUS

Vacation season is here, and we’ve had our first confirmed case of Canine “Kennel” Cough of 2022. It’s been going around again for quite some time, so we’ve been lucky so far!

We are fortunate because we have such a strict vaccine protocol for all of our canine guests, only mild cases have been identified. Once dogs are properly vaccinated, if they contract an illness such as Canine Cough, symptoms are little to none as compared to unvaccinated canines. If your dog is scheduled for an upcoming stay with us and you have any health concerns, please call us prior to arrival. Following is some extensive information on the Canine Cough infection:

OVERVIEW

Also referred to as “Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex,” the Canine or “Kennel” Cough infection can be caused by many different organisms. Here are the names of just SOME of the common organisms that we can culture from swabs of a dog’s respiratory tract:

Parainfluenza virus (CPiV)

Adenovirus type 2 (CAV2)

Distemper virus (CDV)

Herpes virus (CHV)

Influenza virus H3N8 (H3N8 CIV)

Influenza virus H3N2 (H3N2 CIV)

Respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV) – NOT the same as COVID!

Pneumovirus (CnPnV)

Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria (Bordetella)

Streptococcus zooepidemicus bacteria (Strep zoo)

Mycoplasma cynos bacteria (Mycoplasma)

BUT MY DOG IS VACCINATED – WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?

Unfortunately, we cannot cover many of the organisms with vaccination!  We refer to the kennel cough vaccine as the “Bordetella” vaccine (note that this is only ONE of the bugs in the long list above).  ALL canine cough vaccines cover Bordetella, which is one of the bacteria that can cause infection.  If your dog receives an oral or injectable Bordetella vaccine, these ONLY cover the Bordetella organism.  Many dogs that are vaccinated STILL GET SICK while at QK because vaccines just can’t cover everything in the list above.  As you know we also require the bivalent influenza vaccination, which IS included in the list above, as well as the Distemper vaccination which is thankfully highly effective at preventing this fatal virus.

WHY ARE DOGS GETTING SICK AT QK IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Dogs that come to QK are under a fair amount of stress with training and being asked to do things they have never done before and don’t necessarily want to do.  They may also have never experienced kennel confinement, and are upset by the sudden absence of the creature comforts and family members that spoil them.  Add to that many strange dogs and unfamiliar people and their lives are suddenly upside down!  This can affect their immune systems, which in turn affects their ability to fight illness.

In addition, if it is safe we allow dogs to socialize at QK, which is like putting a bunch of kids together at daycare – eventually someone is going to get sick, and then it spreads from there.

Unfortunately, QK does not have state-of-the-art isolation facilities, but we try hard to keep sick dogs and healthy dogs separate.  However, similar to the recent pandemic of COVID-19, healthy dogs are often  “exposed” to a sick dog before signs of illness even develop.  Unlike with COVID safety measures, we generally can’t send sick or exposed dogs home immediately because family members are often out of town and the dogs are staying at QK for a reason!  They most often cannot just go home to quarantine.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR CANINE COUGH?

If left alone, most dogs will recover from canine cough on their own WITHOUT TREATMENT.  The illness is generally very mild and self-limiting.  However, in very few cases it can develop into pneumonia which can be serious and life-threatening.  It is impossible to tell which individuals will be more susceptible to significant illness.  When a dog is first diagnosed, we can swab the respiratory tract and send this to the lab to try to figure out what organism is causing an issue.  The cost for this panel is $250, and most often won’t change the treatment course.

Because of the stress that dogs experience in a kennel environment and the possibility that their immune systems are not functioning optimally, we generally treat them with a course of Doxycycline, which is an antibiotic that targets some of the common bacteria that can be a problem.

We do not have any specific treatments aimed at the many viruses that can be present.

For uncomplicated cases of canine cough, we recommend rest, limiting exercise, avoidance of neck leashes, and avoidance of excitement.  Try to get your dog to rest as much as possible!

HOW LONG WILL MY DOG BE SICK?

Generally speaking, the cough lasts 1-2 weeks AT MOST.  Dogs will cough more with vigorous activity, or when first getting up in the morning and respiratory secretions that have settled overnight are coughed up.

HOW LONG WILL MY DOG BE CONTAGIOUS TO OTHERS?

The answer to this is: It depends.  In an ideal world, your dog should be quarantined from other dogs for 2 WEEKS AFTER THE DOG IS NO LONGER COUGHING.  This is to cover for organisms that can have longer “shedding” periods, such as Mycoplasma.

WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS I SHOULD LOOK FOR THAT MIGHT INDICATE I SHOULD SEEK ADDITIONAL VETERINARY ATTENTION FOR MY DOG?

If your dog normally has a ravenous appetite and is suddenly not eating, becomes very lethargic, has purulent nasal discharge, has vomiting/diarrhea so cannot take medications, or has a fever (normal rectal temperature in a dog is up to 102.5 and can easily be taken using a human digital thermometer) you should contact Doc K or your regular veterinarian.  Please note that Doc K is generally very responsive to urgent Emails 7 days a week and considers excellent client communication to be a top priority!

SHOULD I EXPECT ANY FURTHER PROBLEMS AFTER MY DOG’S ILLNESS?

No – once a dog is recovered there are generally no long-term ill effects.

New Dog? Quick Tips from Dog Expert, Jennifer Broome

You dreamt about it, you pondered it at length and you finally decided that the time has come to welcome a new bundle of joy into your life… the furry, fuzzy kind that is!

As exciting as it is, making the commitment to invite a canine companion into your home is a decision that should not be taken lightly. A true member of the family and a living, breathing creature, dependent on your love and care, should not be purchased online, sight unseen or from a pet shop in an impulsive moment of weakness. The process of buying a puppy should be a systematic and strategic choice based on care and thoughtfulness, catered to the canine’s specific needs. Whether you are purchasing a dog from a trusted breeder or adopting from a shelter, there are crucial considerations to keep in mind from start to finish. Here are a few cardinal rules…

PAQK Rule #1: Do your due diligence!

From dog shows to dog parks to other miscellaneous dog events, find and/or create opportunities to meet the breeds. You may be surprised which canine captivates you! Ask questions and learn about each breed’s exercise needs and their development history. Many dog breeds were developed over centuries ago, with specific jobs in mind, so many are genetically wired and built to fulfill these roles. It is inherently ingrained in them, from their physical build to their mental capacity, to carry out these tasks. Which brings me to my next rule…

PAQK Rule #2: Do your homework, study and learn about the breeds to find what canine group fits you and/or your family best (here’s a little bit of info from a veteran dog trainer to get you started)!

The group known as herding dogs, also known as guard dogs, are wonderful in regards to protecting both people and livestock. They are highly intelligent and extremely athletic. While this makes them incredible workers, it also typically causes them to chase small animals or children, biting at hands and nipping at heels. In addition, they are very vocal dogs and love to bark. As incredible of a breed as they are, these dogs do not necessarily make the best happy-go-lucky family pets, as they constantly need firm leadership as well as a ‘job’. All in all, if these demands are not enforced, then they become wonderful biters, often get very protective and aggressive (not to mention the incessant barking) and can ultimately become dangerous. Needless to say… not typically a great choice for a first time dog owner!

Sporting or field dog groups are bred to chase and find game, from nonstop retrieving to incessant searching. They are incredibly athletic, smart and very busy. They are wonderful dogs for very active individuals or families who also socialize their canine companions and provide them with endless environmental enrichment. These dogs will fail when confined to apartments, fenced in yards or live with nonactive or first time inexperienced owners. They need consistent leadership, exercise and mental stimulation. Without these things, they become award winning chewers, develop anxiety issues that stem from frustration and they can be extremely destructive when forced to live a sedentary, boring life.

Hounds were developed to pursue warm-blooded quarry. Sight hounds are sleek, athletic and use explosive speed and keen vision to chase prey. Scent hounds rely on their powerful noses to track and trail animals. Most members of the hound group will stop at nothing to pursue their game. What does this mean for a dog owner? Simply, what makes them amazing at persistently catching their quarry parallels a significantly challenging trainability factor. A hound’s main objective, inherently bred, is to chase by eyesight or attach their noses to the ground to track scent. They are genetically predisposed to react with these behaviors than listen to human leadership. They tend to be very independent dogs, making them a difficult family pet for most.

The working group, as labeled by the AKC, are the dog versions of the ‘punch-the-clock, blue collared worker’ and they include some of the most ancient breeds. Ancient meaning that their genetics are very strong and their nature ingrained in them deeply. These breeds were developed to assist humans in a working capacity, from pulling sleds and carts to guarding flocks to protecting homes or farms. They are known for their imposing stature, strength, alertness and intelligence. Just as the AKC group explains, they are a working dog! This means that if you fall in love with one of these breeds, then it is crucial that you ensure they are on the family payroll with a specific job(s) in mind. Oh, and by the way, obedience IS A JOB… so train them well!

Moving on to the terrible terriers… Just kidding, they are great little dogs! Feisty and fast, these dogs were bred to go underground in pursuit of rodents and other vermin… did you know that terrier actually means “burrow”? They are extremely energetic and known for their distinct personalities often described as ‘eager for a spirited argument’. These dogs can make great companion dogs, but their energy level, determination and stubbornness needs to be matched and surpassed by their owners. Again, all boiling down to proper and consistent training and leadership!

And let’s not forget the toy group of dogs… meaning small (‘toy size’) enough for apartments and human’s laps, making for a great, all-around companion dog. They are still active and intelligent, requiring training and exercise, but their smaller size can truly make them manageable for many owners and children. The downside to these pups is that they have strong protective instincts, so a life upon the sofa or their human’s laps can easily morph into aggression when they decide to also own those spaces as theirs. Like all dogs, regardless of their diminutive size, they still need adequate exercise along with plenty of rules and boundaries. Oh, and TRAINING!

After really learning about these dog groups, it becomes apparent that there are only a handful of dogs that were truly bred to be ‘companion’ dogs, and even those breeds still have many training and exercise requirements. If children go to school for nearly 17 years to become educated, socialized and proficient adults, then why shouldn’t your dog equally be held accountable for rules, structure and training as youngsters are, in order to mature into well-behaved adult dogs? (Rhetorical question, of course)! In dog years, the intense ‘schooling’ should be the first two years of life and then continuously maintained into adulthood thereafter.

 

PAQK Rule #3 – Meet your dog before committing to it for life!

Would you marry someone after seeing a few photos of that person on the internet? Or after the first date? The answer should be… NO! The same goes for dog ownership. After you settle on the breed or rescue that ‘sings’ to you, your lifestyle and your goals, the next step is to not only meet your dog, but get to know him or her!

If you are interested in a pure-bred dog, be sure to visit the AKC website and look for AKC approved breeders in your area. The next step would be to call the breeder and interview them as compassionately and intensely as they interview you. The breeders who are most investigative about you and your family are the ones who care about the best placement for their dogs. These breeders want to ensure a quality life for their dogs as well as the new families who are welcoming them into the home.

Also, read about the AKC CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) database, as each AKC breed now has specific CHIC health requirements. This means that the BEST breeders take the time and spend the money to carry out a variety of genetic health tests to ensure that they are breeding dogs to meet the physical and health standards of the breed. Simply, a true conscientious, responsible breeder breeds for consistency regarding HEALTH, TEMPERAMENT and TRAINABILITY. While you can expect to pay $1200 upwards of $4500 for a properly bred pure-bred dog, the old adage is true… you get what you pay for.

If you are convinced that a designer dog is your match, then there are a few things to keep in mind. Most of these dogs come from puppy mills, back yard breeders or ‘professional’ breeders. These dogs often lack consistency. An example of this would be Doodles, who range in size in the litters from toys to giants and no two look alike. They take breeds with extreme known genetic health issues (Poodles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Golden Retrievers, etc.) and most neglect to do any health tests. Often, and unfortunately so, breeding is a business for them and they are not doing what is in best interest of the dog and/or the future individual or family that is searching for their new canine companion.

More often than not, we see these dogs with all kinds of skin, eye & intestinal issues, hip dysplasia and more. Had health testing been done, then these diseases could have been screened out. However, these breeders, which we refer to in the industry as puppy mills, sell very expensive, genetically disastrous and mentally unstable dogs. They breed for ‘weird’ colors like creams, brindles, merles, blues and silvers.  As you breed for color specifically, you begin to see more skin problems, visual and auditory problems. While buying a unique dogs for an exorbitant price might seem enticing, the result is often a dog (and it’s owner) who will suffer from the mental and physical challenges that accompany its poor breeding.

If you decide you still want to pursue a designer dog regardless, then be sure to at least meet the breeder, visit their facilities, check for cleanliness and humane conditions, and most importantly meet the parents of your puppy! If you do not love and appreciate the characteristics of the parents, then do not buy that puppy. When a puppy is born into abuse, neglect, overcrowding and was not thoughtfully loved and handled by humans to receive imprinting from birth to 7 weeks, it is very difficult as a trainer to fix these ingrained behaviors.

If adopting a rescue is on your radar, please spend time with him or her and get to know the dog BEFORE committing to the pup permanently. Do not just meet a van on the side of the road filled with rescue dogs of unknown temperament, origin and health and expect this abused, neglected, scarred canine to magically become a safe, reliable family companion.  This is much of the source today for unsuccessful dog adoptions.  Unfortunately, most are unaware of what they’ll be dealing with once they get the dog home and all too often the pup is too much for the unsuspecting family.

Also be cognizant that this ‘rescue’ pup was most likely born into unstable conditions.  The hormones from the mom fed the puppy’s body and these puppies may have had to fight for their lives. From starvation to a lack of proper medical care, they experienced neglect and had to fight to survive. These dogs take a lot of time, compassion, training and care.  They are not always the best choices for first time owners, families with children, or other pets that could be hurt. However, anyone that can take a puppy or dog of unknown origin and provide a structured, nurturing, loving and disciplined home for a rescue and allow the dog to blossom with confidence, happiness and stability… is a HERO in my books!

There’s a lot to think about, but with the guidance of these three PAQK rules, let the exciting journey to find your canine companion begin. The team here at Quinebaug Kennels is here to help you and your family however we can, and look forward to being on this new adventure with you and your new dog for many years to come!

Is My Dog Too Fat? By Dr. K.

As the staff veterinarian at QK Dogs, I have the amazing opportunity to examine some really COOL dogs on a regular basis of all different breeds – some of which I have never heard of. These dogs are owned by dedicated people that care about their dogs immensely… and yet, many of the dogs that I see are overweight, and some are obese! I base my assessment (the dog’s body condition score) on established guidelines, such as those presented by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Global Nutrition Committee – here’s a website for your reference here.

One of the most concerning health trends in the US is the number of overweight dogs, which has been growing dramatically. Statistics show that more than half of all dogs in the United States are overweight, which can lead to arthritis and a myriad of other health conditions.

I often find myself telling owners that their dogs are FAT (although I try to be polite about it), and am presented with the same question time and time again: “How much should I feed my dog Doc?”

The answer is: it all depends. There are 2 major issues to consider, which are the dog’s daily energy requirements based on life stage or activity, and the caloric density of the food that the owner is feeding. Of course, you always have to include calories from extra treats, bones, human food, etc. – this can be tough to estimate accurately.

So, to determine how many calories a dog needs on a daily basis, we look at an equation to determine the dog’s resting energy requirement, or RER. This is calculated by taking the dog’s weight in Kilograms and raising it to the 0.75 power, then multiplying by 70. Then, we take this RER and multiply it by the dog’s appropriate life stage factor, taking into account whether the dog is overweight, spayed/neutered, working or sedentary, etc. to determine the dog’s daily metabolic energy requirement, or MER. A heavily working dog may require up to 8 TIMES the RER to establish the appropriate MER for that dog!

As an example, if we have a 44 pound (20kg) dog, this dog’s RER is 660 calories per day. If the dog is an adult neutered male, we multiply by 1.6 and get a total requirement of 1,060 calories per day. If this dog were a young rapidly growing puppy, the life stage multiplier would be 3.0 for a total calorie requirement of 1,980 per day.

Then, you need to know how many calories are in the food that you are feeding, which is often not on the label (it is not required except for reduced-calorie diets), so an owner may need to call the company of the food they are feeding to inquire about caloric density. Commercial dog foods vary widely in caloric density, and this must be taken into account to avoid significant over or under-feeding.

The above calculations can be made with the help of a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist to make sure that an owner is feeding their beloved dog appropriately. This is not always an easy task, especially when pet food labels often suggest feeding WAY TOO MUCH. But, it is important to keep a dog’s body condition on the lean side for a long, happy and healthy life – very much worth the effort!

What you NEED to know about worms and dogs, wildlife and even HUMANS

By Dr. Kristin Williams

I want to address a couple of issues in this Newsletter. First, I would like to comment on the effects that COVID is having on veterinary medicine and the services that people are able to get for their pets. Then, I will discuss a relatively simple issue to make sure that everyone is aware of it!

As we all know, many people are working or “stuck” at home because of the pandemic, whether it is a college student doing online courses or an executive with an office that has closed. This has led to a run on many commodities and resulted in significant problems, such as the big toilet paper shortage that still persists in some stores. Who would have ever thought that we would be dealing with toilet paper problems in the year 2021?

At any rate, one of the things that has been exceedingly popular is dogs! I have spoken to SO many new owners that have either never had a dog, or haven’t had a dog in many years but have chosen to add to their family once again now because “it’s a good time to do so.” Dogs make people happy and encourage them to go out and exercise.  Our canine companions offer consistent love and devotion and help relieve stress during an unprecedented time.

This has led to a HUGE demand for veterinary services. In addition to people adding new dogs to their households, it seems that everyone is home spending time with their dog and noticing things that are concerning, and they would like their pet to be seen by a vet ASAP if there is a problem. People are angry when they call a clinic and are being told “I’m sorry, we can’t do a dental procedure for your animal for at least 3 months.”  Many clinics are scheduling routine appointments 4-5 weeks out or are unable to schedule routine services because they are inundated with sick animals.

The result of these trends has been a tremendous overflow into local emergency clinics as owners want their animals seen urgently and are told by their regular veterinarian that “we can’t fit you in.” At least two of the local emergency clinics in the area where I practice have been forced to send notices out stating that they are unable to see new cases. If a pet can’t be seen in the ER, where CAN they go for veterinary care? Sometimes you might just have to keep on driving.

This trend has been caused by not only a huge increase in demand for veterinary care, but also a shortage of veterinary clinic staff members as many are forced to quarantine due to exposure to a person infected with COVID. Or, employees are sick themselves and are terrified to go to work for fear of being infected and causing a clinic to shut down because of exposure. You probably know this story.

Then, when you do FINALLY get to your vet appointment, everything is being done “curb-side.” Please don’t be angry with your veterinarian for requiring this right now – they are just trying to keep themselves and their staff members safe so that they can stay open to serve you and your dog! Trust me, this is very stressful for veterinarians and pet owners alike. It is difficult to remember to discuss everything with you by telephone, and sometimes details may be overlooked.

This leads me to an issue I have recently seen at QK that is SO preventable. I have had to treat otherwise healthy dogs that are very well cared-for by devoted owners for a simple thing: the internal parasite referred to as ROUNDWORMS! These are a type of parasite that are very common in the environment, and just about all puppies are infected before routine deworming. How do dogs get roundworms? There are a few different possibilities:

  • Consuming infective worm eggs from soil in the environment (generally through normal grooming/self-licking).
  • Consuming a prey animal (usually rodent) that is carrying developing worms.
  • During embryonic development when an infected mother dog is pregnant (most puppies are infected this way).
  • Nursing from an infected mother dog.

Why are these parasites bad? As the Veterinary Information Network suggests, “Roundworm infection can have numerous negative effects. It is a common cause of diarrhea in young animals and can cause vomiting as well. Sometimes the worms themselves are vomited up which can be alarming as they can be quite large with females reaching lengths of up to seven inches. The worms consume the host’s food and can lead to unthriftiness and a classical ‘pot-bellied’ appearance. Very heavy infections can lead to pneumonia as the worms migrate and, if there are enough worms, the intestine can actually become obstructed.

“It should also be noted that human infection by this parasite is especially serious. It is important to minimize the contamination of environmental soil with the feces of infected animals so as to reduce the exposure hazard to humans and other animals. In other words, dog feces should be removed and discarded promptly before worm eggs permanently contaminate the local dirt.”

This latter point above discusses the “zoonotic” potential of roundworms, meaning transmission from dog to owner. I especially worry about this in households with small children running around in the yard and potentially eating dirt or feces infected with this nasty parasite!

SO, my point is that the owners of the dogs I have seen with roundworms did not have their dogs on any type of monthly heartworm prevention. I can’t help but imagine that these owners simply didn’t know any better, and perhaps their veterinarian forgot to mention it, or the point was lost in a telephone conversation instead of a face-to-face discussion. Thank you COVID protocols!

But wait – heartworms aren’t the same as roundworms, so why would a person use heartworm prevention to address a roundworm issue? Heartworms are transmitted to dogs through the bite of an infected mosquito, so why is this relevant? The ANSWER: most oral monthly heartworm preventatives ALSO deworm your dog on a regular basis for a lot more than just heartworm.

Heartgard Plus or other Ivermectin/Pyrantel combination products are effective against heartworm, roundworm and hookworm. And things like Interceptor Plus (Milbemycin/Praziquantel) are even more broad-spectrum, covering heartworm, roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm.

Therefore, I strongly recommend that you maintain your dog on a monthly heartworm preventative, and give it to them YEAR-ROUND… unless you can guarantee that your dog won’t eat gross things in the yard in the middle of winter. That would be pretty unlikely with many/most dogs, who enjoy exploring the environment to find the most disgusting dead thing to eat or roll in so that they smell just like it!

Veterinary care for your dog is a bit tough right now, but having your dog on monthly year-round heartworm prevention is just one thing you can do to keep your dog healthy so you can enjoy being at home together during these unusual times.

For questions or to schedule an in person visit with our QK vet Dr K please email kwilliamsdvm@qkdogs.com

The Duping Doodle and Designer Breed Fad

By Jennifer Broome

Before I begin, I must emphasize that I am grateful for ALL dogs that come to QK, and I am truly thankful for our clients and their amazing dogs! I just want to educate people who may be considering the purchase of a designer breed. While I am thankful that Doodles are so popular, and QK trains dozens of Doodles every month, I must explain why I and nearly every other professional trainer I speak to feel so opposed to this designer dog craze. I do want to note, for you diehard Doodle lovers, I have met and trained MANY exceptional, smart, and wonderful Doodles!

I have always been a poodle fan having grown up with Standard Poodles. Our first two were fabulous and they lived until 15 years of age. They were smart, athletic, healthy, easy to train and they were confident and very social. I helped my parents buy a 3rd poodle from a ‘reputable’ poodle breeder. She unethically ended up selling us an ‘oops’ (unplanned) litter where the dam was not even 2 years old herself. and she never disclosed this information when we visited the pups. I found out the truth after studying the pedigree only to learn the dam of the litter was not even 2 years old! Despite the $2000 price tag, my grieving Dad (he just lost his Standard Poodle) fell in love with a puppy; we were sucked in hook, line and sinker since the seller did not disclose the truth upfront. Little did we know that this pup would turn out skittish, have a meek personality and she harbored the terrible genetic Poodle disease called Sebaceous Adenitis and lost all of her hair by the time she was 4 years old. She suffered greatly from this horrible skin disease which could have easily been screened for by the breeder. At age 7 she developed Lymphoma and was given mere months to live.

Recently I reached out to a very reputable Poodle breeder who is a breed expert as well as someone who helps to rescue and re-home poodles. She emphatically explained to me the plethora of health issues plaguing poodles, in general, these days, and I learned a lot from our conversations.

So here is my issue with ‘Doodles’! Reputable Poodle breeders adore their breed, and they go above and beyond to test for genetic diseases. Here is the page from the PCA (Poodle Club of America) website: https://poodleclubofamerica.org/health-concerns/

HEALTH TESTING IN POODLES: To help ensure the future health of Poodles, good breeders screen prospective Poodle parents with tests available for primary health issues in our breed. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) work with parent clubs to establish important screening criteria, and the following are tests needed to receive a CHIC number for each Poodle variety. Where noted, the PCA Foundation also recommends other DNA tests, some just recently developed as researchers identify faulty genes that cause disease. Eye exams to detect hereditary problems should be done yearly until an age suggested by your veterinary eye specialist. For more on poodle health, go to www.poodleclubofamericafoundation.org.

These recommended tests are time-consuming and expensive. They are done once the dog is over 2 years of age and, after that, some of the tests should be done yearly. This adds up to hundreds and even thousands of dollars. In my experience, reputable and honest breeders willingly complete these tests since most often they are into breeding NOT for the money, but because of their love of their breed and the desire to breed for health, temperament and consistency. If pure-bred breeders work so hard to produce healthy puppies, why would they want to cross their pure-bred dogs to other breeds?

Now start researching online “Doodle Breeders”. You will find hundreds of so-called breeders who charge exorbitant fees, and rarely will you find health tests on the breeding dogs. The crazes we see are Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, Sheepadoodles, Bernadoodles, Schnoodles to name a few. Sadly, the terrible genetic diseases plaguing the purebred pool are things like cancer, hip and elbow issues, and allergies for the Golden Retrievers, hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, vonWillebrand’s disease, heart conditions/subaortic stenosis, Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), and Shoulder Osteochondrosis (OCD) for Bernese Mountain Dogs, etc. Since most reputable breeders of healthy purebred dogs would not even consider mixing their breed with another dog, this leaves the over-bred, untested dog pool to the novice, uninformed back-yard breeder!

Why would people be so willing to buy expensive designer bred mixed dogs where the so-called breeders are not testing their breeding dogs? If you really want to learn about genetic health testing, simply go to the AKC website and look up the CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) recommendations for each breed. Did your Doodle breeder test their pairings for these tests? Can they produce OFA certificates?

I’ll agree, Doodle puppies can be ADORABLE! But why gamble with buying a pup that can very quickly develop severe, life-threatening or chronic health issues that should have never happened had they been screened for these diseases.

I have been a kennel owner, breeder and trainer for 25 years. I am in this field because I LOVE DOGS! Whether the dog is a shelter dog, an abused rescue, or a purebred dog, I am eager to help train and educate owners. I cannot tolerate commercial or backyard breeders pumping out puppies and making a fortune at the expense of the dogs’ wellbeing and the owners’ heartstrings. Recently we helped a family with a Bernadoodle. We had to rehome her due to an unfortunate family health issue. Turns out this pup, at 8 weeks old, was sold for $9,000. Furthermore, the breeder duped the buyer into sending the pup off to training for 4 months for another $10,000, and at 6 months this pup was sold as ‘turnkey’. What 6-month-old pup is TURN KEY!!?? That is like saying your 8-year-old child is ready to move out, take care of himself and has the education of a college graduate. This $19,000 pup ended up having bi-lateral (both) elbow dysplasia AND hip dysplasia. The ‘breeder’ most likely had a litter of 8 to 10 pups which means she may have made upwards of $100,000 for the litter. Not only does this breeder farm most of her breeding dogs out to families who raise them, but she starts breeding them at 2 years old and gets 3 or 4 litters per dog. This is NOT uncommon! Many of the Doodles that we see come through QK cost their owners upwards of $2,500 to $5,000 per puppy. Advertisement and popularity of these new designer breeds drive the prices, and unethical people are pumping out these mutts.

This all makes me shake my head because I am an AKC Breeder of Merit for Labrador Retrievers and German Shorthaired Pointers. Not only do I strive to health-test my dogs, but my dogs have also gone on to produce titled puppies in obedience, fieldwork, show and other AKC venues. This shows trainability, consistency of temperament, and the ability to produce well-rounded pups that meet the breed standard. I work extremely hard to title my dogs for conformation and field to prove their stable genetics.  I spend thousands of dollars health-testing them, and I am so proud that the litters that I breed are very typy and consistent. And, despite ALL of this work, the going rate for these pups is about $1,800.

Can you see why the Doodle craze is frustrating!? Why would a pup out of an untitled, unproven and most-likely untested (health) breeding dog cost upwards of $2,500, 3,500, 4,500!? On most days we have at least 6 to 10 Doodles at QK. They often have the athleticism and intelligence of a poodle, yet the biting, herding and working desire of the ‘other’ breed.  Unfortunately, when mixed together, we often see pups that are snarky, insecure, wild, and much more of a handful then the buyers had anticipated. While I love a dog that desires a job and loves to work, most of the Doodle buyers just wanted a nice, calm, family pet. These dogs are often much more of a handful! We see some Doodles weigh only 25 pounds, yet others weigh over 100 pounds. You almost never know what you are getting and truthfully most of them are already great biters when they come to QK.

Once again, I want to stress how grateful I am for ALL dogs that come to QK, and I am truly thankful for our clients and their amazing dogs. I just want people to be educated about the designer breeds. Hopefully any dog you choose will be a 12-to-15-year commitment.  Realize you need to be cautious when rescuing a dog from a shelter where you may be unsure exactly what breed mix you are getting. It may be a gamble, but you are helping a dog in need of a home, and most often you have quite a project ahead of you! When it comes to buying dogs from a breeder, you should EXPECT to be able to meet the parents, spend some time around them, and see if you can handle their energy levels, athleticism and temperament. Do NOT buy a dog online and have it shipped to you! This is not just a product from Amazon, this is a family member, and you should see where this pup came from, meet the parents and meet the breeders. Visit the home or kennel and make sure the pup is raised in a humane, safe and healthy environment. Make sure the puppies are well-socialized and they have had a wellness exam by a veterinarian prior to going home. The vet will check their bites (jaw line up), heart, lungs and give them an overall health check as well as the first round of shots and de-worming. This due diligence can be some of the very best advice I can offer. If you meet Doodles that you like and you find ones that have proven health tests, then by all means go for the dog that ‘blows your hair back and makes you smile’!