June - July 2007

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Tasty reward training treats
When it comes to training your dog, there’s a great new treat to reinforce good behavior.  Not only that, it actually helps to support the health of the brain, in hopes of making your training even more effective.
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New research indicates that cats can dramatically benefit from better and more varied nutrition.  Find out the latest on the effects of supplementing the diet with antioxidants, essential fatty acids and probiotics. See Page 2

Be pet prepared for 4th of July
Independence Day celebrations are right around the corner.  In this article, we discuss the necessity of protecting your cats and dogs from potentially traumatic situations associated with this holiday.
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Millions of Americans struggle to control their weight.  In this article, you’ll get the latest on a delicious, all-natural soy shake that can help shed unwanted pounds while supporting your overall health. See Page 2

Early summer is an emotional time for me. While I look at all my healthy and happy pets and am pleased that I have been able to give them safe, loving lives, I also see and read about the millions of homeless cats and dogs. Summer is the time when most have litters, adding to the numbers whose daily struggle is nothing less than the fight for survival.

Each year between eight and twelve million dogs and cats of all ages end up in animal shelters. Many become lost or were abandoned. Unfortunately, though, many must be rescued from abusive situations.

Thankfully, there are many organizations to intervene in these lives of hardship. If each of us helped just one animal organization, we could touch the lives of so many animals. And remember, help can come in many forms. We can foster animals, answer phones for the organization, donate money or supplies, help organize fundraisers, or simply visit these animals and share a little of your love.

At Life's Abandance, we’ve taken a very proactive approach to helping these abused and neglected animals. We’ve established the Dr. Jane HealthyPetNet Foundation to help support the important work of these noble enterprises.

Everyone here at Life's Abandance feels that animals are important in their lives; we’re all excited that our mission of helping animals will be advanced not only through this newly formed foundation, but also through the sale of every single Life's Abandance product.

During this season, I ask you to please open your hearts. The small help you provide today can mean a world of difference for these precious creatures in the future.

Thank you!
Dr. Jane Bicks

European researchers have discovered evidence of an advanced mental ability in canines; one that was previously thought to be specific only to humans!

A behavior known as “selective imitation” is a method of learning that brings meaning and cultural context to specific actions. In selective imitation, observers (usually infants) differentiate between two types of behaviors. There are acts of necessity (I can’t use my hands right now because they’re otherwise occupied, so I’ll use my elbow to open the door lever) and there are acts of inefficient preference (even though I can use my hands which are not presently occupied, I like to open the door with my elbow). When human infants observe the two behaviors, they will adopt the latter skill (i.e., the latter behavior is “selected”).

In a recent study, dogs learned in just the same way. Dogs watched a demonstrator dog pulling a rod with a paw, rather than with the mouth. When the demonstrator dog carried a ball in its mouth, the actions were not adopted by the observer dogs. But, when the demonstrator dog had no object in its mouth and pulled the lever with a paw, the observer dogs began to adopt the behavior.

Certainly, further research is warranted in this area, but researchers are excited by these results which seem to indicate that our canine companions may have more complex learning abilities that previously believed.
Source: Current Biology


Basic Obedience Training
Experts agree, obedience training is absolutely essential to the long-term success of the relationship between you and your dog.

Every year, millions of Americans welcome a new dog into their home, particularly in the late spring and early summer. And every year, hundreds of thousands of dogs are given up for adoption, chiefly because they exhibit unruly behavior. Why? Because many people think they know everything necessary to train their companion animals, when really they have nothing other than a vague idea.

Experts agree, obedience training is absolutely essential to the long-term success of the relationship between you and your dog. Training provides parameters for acceptable behavior and helps to ensure the safety of your precious pup, as well as the safety of others coming in contact with your dog.

There are two primary cornerstones of obedience training: consistency and positive reinforcement. Consistency is simply this – always reward the desired behavior and never reward unwanted behavior. Another aspect of consistency is an agreement that everyone issuing commands uses the same words that you do. And positive reinforcement can take many forms, but at root it is providing incentives for good behavior and a steadfast promise never to physically abuse your canine as punishment. If you can commit to providing consistency and positive reinforcement, you’re well on your way to teaching your dog basic obedience behavior.

Here’s a term you’ll hear in relation to canine behavior – dominance hierarchy, which is a fancy way of describing the social structure of dogs. Basically, it means that dogs, as social beings, crave structure. Often, when dogs are fearful of new situations and unexpected noises, it’s commonly due to a lack of an established social structure in their adopted family. It’s up to you to position yourself as the dominant leader, establishing that your dog falls below you in the family ranking.

No matter what type of training you choose, timing is essential. It is absolutely imperative that you reward your dog within seconds of the correct behavior. Waiting longer than a couple of seconds will be confusing to your dog, as she will not be able to associate the positive reinforcement with the appropriate behavior.

While there are many things you need to do, there are a few that you need to make certain that you do not do. Here are a couple of items that fall in the latter category …

• Do not repeat the specified command multiple times to get your dog to do the behavior once. You’re defeating the purpose of training by teaching him/her that there are times when it’s okay not to do the behavior in association with the command.

• Do not punish your dog for failure to execute a specified command. If you do, you’ll immediately teach them that training is something to fear. Believe us, you don’t want to do this. While there are many schools of thought on the best way to train, all experts can agree on this issue. While some fringe (and possibly very mean) people will insist that negative reinforcement is an effective tool for training, it will always take longer, be less effective and it will cause your dog to have difficulty trusting you in the future.

While we’ve tried to stress that you should not punish your dog during obedience training, sometimes negative reinforcement is necessary to deter unwanted behavior. As doling out punishments can negatively impact your dog’s trust, it’s best that the negative stimulus appears to come from an object (other than you), like shaking a small container full of coins (trust us, it’s an unpleasant sound to your dog). Again, it’s very important that the negative stimulus occur during or immediately after the undesired action.

A final warning on negative reinforcement – if incorrectly used, you’ll risk making your dog fearful, distrustful and possibly aggressive, only to be more likely to exhibit negative behaviors.

Commit to doing the best that you can.  Tens of thousands of people successfully train their puppies and dogs every year.  Keep in mind that there are many different approaches and methods of dog training.  That’s why it’s important to speak to your vet or a trusted pet professional for recommendations regarding local trainers who will be a good match for you and your dog.

Remember, most canines are eager to please. They want you to show them what to do. Training is just as much about teaching your dog as it is learning acceptable methods of training yourself.
By harnessing your dog’s natural curiosity, you’ll both be on your way to a long and pleasant life together.

If you have a video camera, set it up in your training area and film your training session. Watch it (when your dog is out of the room, so as to avoid confusion) with a critical eye regarding your training techniques. Some people are oblivious to the fact that they’ll say “Sit” five times in a row. The goal here is to learn about what you do right and what you do wrong. You’ll learn how to be a more proficient trainer simply by watching your own actions.

Dr. Jane Bicks, Veterinarian Product Formulator
Dr. Jane is a highly-respected and nationally-recognized holistic veterinarian and is responsible for HealthyPetNet's product formulation and development. Be sure to take advantage of opportunities to ask Dr. Jane about HealthyPetNet products. Next month's "Ask Dr. Jane" calls are scheduled for Thursday, July 12th and Thursday, July 26th, from 8:30-9:30 PM Eastern Time. To participate in these live calls, dial 563-843-7510, pass code 626116#.

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