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BBS Training Tip #4: Training Methods Part 2

Last week BestBullySticks tipped off our discussion on dog training with the first installment of our Training Methods blog series. In today’s followup post to Training Methods Part 1, we’re delving into specific training methods.

Origins of Modern Dog Training

Modern dog training developed dramatically during the 20th century. Most notably, advances in psychology furthered dog training and led to the creation of new training methods. BestBullySticks recently talked about this fascinating evolution in our post on The History of Dog Training.

In recent years, older training methods have been labeled overly aggressive or unnecessarily physical. In some instances this may be the case— BestBullySticks encourages all dog owners to use their discretion in the matter. Just be sure to avoid any training methods that are outright abusive. There are many factors to consider when training your dog — refer to our post on How Dogs Learn to gain some more insight into what your pup has on his mind!

Corrective Training

A training system that would fall into this category is the Koehler Method. The cornerstone of the Koehler Method is to let dogs make their own mistakes. In doing so, it gives the owner the opportunity to provide consequences for both desirable and undesirable behaviors. The punishments of the Koehler Method are generally more physical, sometimes advocating “alpha rolling,” where a dog is pinned on his back to assert dominance.

It should be noted, this “alpha rolling” technique, while still used today —and even by big name trainers— the “natural” action it is supposed to mimic is an action where submission is actually given, not forced.

Dominance-based training methods like the Koehler Method rely on the theory that dogs are in fact wolves and there are hierarchies in their pack with an alpha-figure at the top. However, the Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has argued against this idea of aggressive-submissive positions. Additionally, attempting to physically exert dominance could cause your pet to lash out. read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #214: Caring for Senior Dogs

As we near the end of “Be Kind to Animals Month,” we at BestBullySticks thought we should set aside some time for a very special group of dogs — seniors. For aging canines, there are special considerations that need to be kept in mind. Keeping a keen eye on behavior and general health in addition to some fine tuning in diet is all that’s needed to maintain healthy living into the senior years. Old age comes at different times for different breeds, though. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to not only identify aging, but also how to properly care for your dog as a senior.

Expectations

Knowing what to look out for is half the battle. If you’re able to spot signs of health complications early, there’s a good chance the damage can be minimized. Here are some common health issues to watch out for:

Graying: Of course, there’s nothing dangerous about going gray, but it is a good indicator of middle-age and early seniority. It should be noted, some dogs go gray early despite still being quite young.

Vision & Hearing: Inevitably, vision and hearing deteriorate with old age. For vision, some signs to watch out for are increased clumsiness and cloudy eyes. Cloudy eyes, which are often harmless and a normal process of aging, are the product of lenticular sclerosis. This is sometimes confused with cataracts — a clouding of the lens inside the eye — which is very detrimental to sight. If a clouding of the eyes occurs, make sure you promptly pay a visit to the vet. read more…

BBS Training Tip #3: Training Methods Part 1

Dog Training MethodsThis week’s installment of BestBullySticks’ Training Tips is the first half of a two part series on Training Methods. As pet lovers, it’s our hope that this information will help owners make more informed decisions about how to train their pets. Let’s get to it!

Selecting a Method

Unfortunately, there is no universal “one size fits all” training system for dogs. Choosing the best training method for you and your dog takes a bit of research. Don’t sweat it, though. We’ve cut through the thick of it to bring you the skinny on what’s what in the world of dog training.

If you haven’t already, BestBullySticks recommends reading our previous post on How Dogs Learn to ensure you get the most from our explanation of these training methods and their key concepts. At the end of the day, the most important factor to consider when selecting a training method is how comfortable both dog and owner are using a system.

Despite the large number of training systems out there, in one way or another many utilize the same three key concepts.

“Marker Training”

Built on the ideas of classical and operant conditioning, Marker Training is a way to build association between a command (marker) and a desired result by immediately offering reinforcement the moment a desired action is completed. For example — if you’re teaching a dog to lay down on command, use the marker (in this case the words “lay down”) when the dog lays down on its own, then offer positive reinforcement such as a treat. read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #213: May is Chip your Pet Month

Pet Safety Starts with Identification As concerned pet owners ourselves, the BestBullySticks team believes pet safety is paramount. Identification can go a long way ensuring your furry friend’s safety — tags alone aren’t enough, though! Microchipping is a foolproof way to avoid the heartache of losing your loved ones and providing them with an easy way to get home if they run off.

Unlike a collar and tags, microchips can’t be removed and they can’t fall off. According to the American Humane Association (AHA), pets who become lost rarely find their way home:

  • 1 in 3 pets will become lost at some point during their life

  • Over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year in the U.S.

How Does Microchipping Work?

The electronic components of these electronic ID tags are packed into a biocompatible glass tube only a bit larger than a grain of rice (11mm). Non-allergenic, this glass casing contains the microchip, capacitor and antenna coil which together form a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. read more…

BBS Training Tip #2: How Dogs Learn

Tell your dog to hit the books!Basic canine learning methods can be broken down into four distinct categories. While some have similarities and others great differences, they are all of great value and offer insight into how your dog thinks. Quite a few of these psychological theories are recent developments, many of which came about in the mid-20th century. To learn more about the fascinating history behind these theories, BestBullySticks suggests you check out last week’s post — A History of Dog Training.

Classical Conditioning: Just like the training methods of yesteryear, classical conditioning plays upon the same ideas used by Pavlov and Bailey. In its most basic form, this method of learning is based around the idea that a stimulus received over time will eventually become associated with another yet totally unrelated response.

For instance, a dog may be afraid of rain because of an association with thunderstorms. The same logic applies for when you get your dog riled up by looking their way and asking, “Walk?”

Over time, these associations can wear out if the motivating reward — such as a real walk! — is removed. Classical conditioning might also help build new associations as demonstrated by Bailey’s clicker method as well as overcome negative associations helping animals cope with new people and situations. read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #212: Holistic Flea and Tick Prevention

Holistic Pet MedicineMany pet owners gravitate towards name-brand flea and tick treatments and we don’t blame them! While effective and endorsed by many veterinarians, there are comparable alternatives without the nasty chemicals commonly found in these spot-treatments. BestBullySticks encourages owners to go the holistic route and use all-natural flea and tick prevention products to deter fleas and ticks this coming season.

Dangers of Chemical-Based Treatments

Spot treatment “medications” contain a wide variety of pesticides — including but not limited to pyriproxyfen, methoprene, permethrin, fipronil and imidacloprid — and are directly linked to serious health effects in laboratory tests. In 2008 there were over 44,000 reported cases of adverse reactions to these types of treatments.

Since these are pesticides, their distribution and use is controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a study conducted by the EPA, it was determined current guidelines and regulations used to determine toxicity for these medications were inadequate. Besides the toxic “active” ingredients listed, manufacturers are not required to disclose “inactive” ingredients leaving us in the dark about what we’re actually giving to our pets.

Because of the adverse reactions and questionable content of these treatments, BestBullySticks chooses to endorse holistic pet-care products. There are many ways pet owners can achieve the same results without having to turn to harsh unhealthy treatments. Let’s take a quick peek at these common pests and how we can prevent them! read more…

BBS Training Tip #1: A History of Dog Training

Effective Dog Training MethodsBeginning today, BestBullySticks.com is starting a new blog series! Titled “Training Tips” this section will discuss a range of topics including training methods from popular trainers and dog experts to information about dog cognition and learning. So, strap yourself in for a brief history lesson! Our first installment is A History of Dog Training! By tracing the history of human-dog companionship and discussing different ways dogs learn, BestBullySticks hopes to provide new tools to help you and your loved one get the most from each other’s company.

Canine Domestication and Early Training

Dog training began with the domestication of canines. Approximately 30,000 years ago, humans began to domesticate dogs. Originally used as a beasts of burden and guard animals, the human-canine dynamic would eventually develop into a mutually beneficial relationship we still see today. And while dogs have accompanied humans on nearly every journey since the beginning of our relationship, it wouldn’t be until the early 20th century that dog training took it’s current form. read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #211: Grooming Tips for Flea and Tick Prevention

Springtime Dog Grooming!Spring is now in full swing and BestBullySticks wants to make sure you and your dog get the most from the sunny months ahead. For this week’s installment of our Dog 101 series, we’re discussing Springtime Dog Grooming Tips because a well groomed dog doesn’t just turn heads, it helps keep them healthy too!

Reasons to Groom

Grooming is an activity pets regularly conduct by themselves. They still need your help, though! There are a few reasons why grooming should be high on your list of dog-related priorities this spring. Regular grooming habits will not only decrease your pets chance of developing epidermal and oral health problems, it’s also a great way to create a strong bond, monitor your dog’s health and even help to prevent disease.

Lyme Disease

The first step to protecting your pet from Lyme disease is making sure they’re on the correct preventative medications. BestBullySticks suggests all-natural flea and tick medications as an alternative to the toxic ingredients found in many common medications. Spot treatments are filled with chemicals and have been proven to pose a threat to both pets and owners.

Caused by a bacteria from the genus Borrelia, the chance of contracting Lyme disease is much higher between May and August — the height of tick season. Here are a few early warning symptoms: read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #210: Pet First Aid Awareness

Pet First AidEmergencies do happen. And sometimes, finding your way to the doctor can be difficult. Becoming familiar with Basic First Aid procedures is a great way to minimize harm and bring stability to emergency situations. The first week of May is National Pet Week, and we at BestBullySticks wanted to get a head start helping raise awareness for animal first aid.

Even if you’re certified to administer first aid on people, don’t go trying to play veterinarian! Advanced veterinary first aid should only be administered by certified individuals or a veterinarian. The American Red Cross is a great resource for education on the subject and even offers courses in Pet First Aid. Let’s look at some basic steps to you can take to ensure both you and your pet prepared for anything.

Identification

While safety starts with proper identification, a collar and tags are only the beginning. Microchipping is now widely available and no longer prohibitively expensive. Pets sometimes get lost. And while collars can come off — or even worse be taken off — microchipping provides a surefire backup plan that will last a lifetime. Costing only $45 on average, microchipping is the first step to safety with your pet.

First Aid Supplies

Keep a list of phone numbers on hand including your veterinarian’s number, and others like the Animal Poison Control Center: 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435) and a local emergency veterinary clinic. In the case something happens to you, keep a friend’s number handy who is capable of caring for your pet in your absence. It’s also a good idea to maintain a history of your pet’s medications and vaccinations for reference. The American Veterinary Medical Association has compiled a comprehensive list of pet first aid supplies that should be in your emergency kit. read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #209: Outdoor Hazards and Spring Safety

Spring Fun!With spring here and loads of outdoor excitement ahead, we at BestBullySticks want to make sure you and your pet enjoy the sunny days ahead to the fullest. While there are some outdoor activities that can pose health risks to your pooch, rest assured— we’re here to make sure you can nip them in the bud! Here are three hazards to watch out for this season:

Lyme Disease

The first step to protecting your dog from Lyme disease is to ensure they’re on the appropriate preventative medications. We strongly suggest an all-natural flea and tick alternative to the toxic ingredients found in many medications. Common spot treatments are chock full of chemicals and have been reported to pose a threat to both pets and their human owners.

Caused by bacteria from the genus Borrelia, Lyme disease is primarily transmitted by deer ticks during the height of tick season (May through August). Borrelia-carrying ticks generally need to be attached for 18 hours to transmit infection. Should you suspect your loved one may have come down with Lyme disease take them to the vet immediately— here are a few early warning symptoms to look out for:

• Lameness accompanied by joint inflammation and stiff walking

• Fever, difficulty breathing and lack of appetite

• Swelling of the lymph nodes close to the tick bite

BestBullySticks.com has a whole host of all-natural flea and tick control products available through our online store. Don’t give Lyme disease the chance to affect your dog’s health this coming season. read more…