Archive for March, 2010
Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
People seek canine protection for a wide variety of reasons. Surely, every person has at least one thing in they world that they feel is worth protecting. However, for those that take the extra step in protecting themselves and their loved ones by purchasing a personal protection dog, the improvement in their quality of life is often drastic.
The importance of protecting ones self from harm is often overlooked. People tell themselves “I live in a safe area,” or “it could never happen to me,” but the unfortunate reality is that crime can happen to anyone. Many people looking to purchase protection dogs for themselves do so because they have already been victims of violent crime. For these people, recovering from the trauma of the experience they endured is a long and painful process. For some, the extent of the psychological trauma is so extreme that they have trouble even leaving their own homes for fear of being victimized again. To own a protection dog is to know that you can safely leave your house at night with your dog at your side to protect you. For victims of violent crime, this sense of security is a life-changing experience, and a crucial milestone along the path to once again living a life free of fear.
Of course, not everyone looking to purchase a protection dog does so solely for themselves. Any father or mother will agree that protecting their family comes above all else in their lives. Owning a personal protection dog is like having a loyal companion who will not hesitate to risk its own life in order to protect you and your family at all times. A family with a protection dog is a family that is able to sleep soundly at night knowing that their German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd will always be there to protect them and their home.
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
Schutzhund and The KNPV are the two most popular dog sports in Europe today. Schutzhund was developed in the early 1900′s by German Shepherd breeder Max von Stephanitz as a way to determine the character of a dog and its suitability for breeding. KNPV, an abbreviation of Koninklijke Nederlandse Politiehond Vereniging, roughly translated as Royal Dutch Police Dog Association, was developed in the Netherlands during the early 1900′s as a way to determine which dogs were suitable for police work. While the two sports are similar in that they were developed at around the same time, for similar purposes, the number of differences in the exercises performed make them remarkably different sports.
One of the most visibly obvious differences between the two sports is the way in which bite work exercises are performed. In KNPV bite work, the decoy will be wearing a full, loose-fitting suit. This suit restricts mobility of the decoy to a small extent, but allows the dog to bite anywhere on the suit. In Schutzhund, the decoy only wears padding on one arm, and holds a stick in the other. The dog is trained only to bite the padded arm while the decoy uses the stick in an attempt to discourage the dog. Unfortunately, the Schutzhund method is fundamentally flawed in that the dogs are trained not to bite the weapon-arm of an attacking opponent. In a real confrontation, failing to target the weapon-arm of an attacker could quickly end in injury or even death of the dog and those it is attempting to protect.
The other key difference between the two sports is in tracking exercises. Schutzhund tracking exercises are more-so a test of obedience and control than actual tracking ability. The dogs are trained to track along a path in a slow, methodical manner, with their noses to the ground at all times. Points are deducted if the dog strays from the path by more than a couple feet, or misses a corner along the path by more than its own body length. In KNPV, there are no tracking exercises. Instead, the dogs are trained to do area searches to find articles or a person in the woods. The dog lifts its head to pick up scents from the air rather than the ground. Unfortunately, neither method accurately reproduces the type of tracking required by police in a real life scenario. KNPV especially makes the mistake of allowing or even encouraging the dog to mouth the object at the end of a search. In a real-life scenario, that object could be a weapon, explosives, or even narcotics.
While there are a number of other differences between the sports, tracking and bite work are two of the most fundamental. However, it is important to realise the differences between either sport versus a real life scenario. While they both make good attempts to mimic reality, both sports fail to do so. Many people have heard the phrase “practise makes perfect”, but in the case of dog sports, “practise makes permanent” may be more accurate. Consistently failing to target the weapon-arm in Schutzhund, or mouthing an article at the end of a search in KNPV both present glaring faults in training that is ingrained within the dog. A true protection dog should be trained for true, real-life protection from the very beginning.
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
While many people simply choose the veterinary clinic closest to their homes, the quality of the service they receive can vary greatly between veterinarians. Even if the location isn’t ideal, finding a good veterinarian is just as important to the health and comfort of your protection dog as finding a good doctor would be to you. It goes without saying that your veterinarian should be fully licensed. However, there are a number of other factors that make the difference between a comfortable, efficient and productive visit, versus a difficult and time-consuming experience.
Your first step should be to gather information on surrounding clinics. Word of mouth is not always reliable, but asking around the neighbourhood is a good starting point. Introduce yourself to other dog owners in the area to see if they have any recommendations. Doing research online is also a good way to gather information and read client testimonials. Not every opinion online will be accurate or trustworthy, but large numbers of negative reviews may help you steer clear of a poorly run clinic.
Once you have assembled a list of potential clinics in the area, you should call each one. It is good to ask questions regarding the facility and services provided. Ask if the veterinarian is on-call for emergencies, or if the clinic has an ultrasound machine. If these services are not provided, it does necessarily mean that it is a poor clinic. However, you will need to know the location of the nearest animal hospital that can provide these services in the event of an emergency. While most veterinarians practise on a wide variety of animals, it is beneficial to try to find a veterinarian who is especially experienced in dealing with dogs, or better yet, working breeds such as the German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois. Just as a professional athlete would look for a specialist in joint and muscle stress, you will want to look for a veterinarian who has experience dealing with the stresses that are put on the joints and muscles of working dogs.
Finally, your should narrow your choices down to only a couple of clinics. Make appointments for a first-time visit, and take not of the experience. Watch for cleanliness in the facility, the veterinarians ability to communicate problems clearly, whether or not the experience is rushed, and professional service at reception. During the examination, try asking the veterinarian to explain some of what they are doing. A good veterinarian should answer your questions clearly and professionally.
Thursday, March 18th, 2010
Considering the reputation of dogs and their willingness to eat just about anything, it seems unlikely that your protection dog would be a picky eater. However, sudden changes in the main source of your dog’s diet can produce unexpected health problems.
Whether you are switching from one brand of dog food to another, upgrading to a better quality of dog food, or putting your dog on an entirely raw food diet, the introduction of a new diet should always be done as gradually as possible. Switching over abruptly from one diet to another often causes problems with digestion such as stomach cramps, heartburn, indigestion or, in rare cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
Switching over from one diet to another can be accomplished in about a week. However, the more gradual the change is, the easier it will be for your dog’s digestive system to adapt. The new food can be gradually introduced by mixing it with the old food. Start with about one quarter of the new food mixed with three quarters of the old. After no less than two days, you can switch to a mixture of about half and half. Continue in increments of two or more days for the half and half mixture, followed by three quarters new with one quarter old, and finally a diet consisting entirely of the new food.
No matter what diet you choose for your German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd, it is important that you keep it consistent. While some owners may be tempted to pick up different brands of dog food on sale, your personal protection dog will not appreciate the sudden change. You should only switch the diet of your protection dog if you feel that it would benefit your dog’s health, or if a change of diet is recommended by your veterinarian.
Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
While we rely on our protection dogs for safety and security, they rely on us to ensure that they are kept strong and healthy. Of course, a dog cannot verbally communicate any pain or discomfort they may be in. However, your canine can still communicate in a variety of different ways. Knowing what signs to look for will help ensure that any minor injuries or illnesses are taken care of before they grow into more serious problems.
It is a good idea to check your dogs regularly for bumps, cuts or scrapes. Consider the environments in which your dog has been. While an open field may be a good place to go for regular excessive, it may also hide ticks, thorns, metal scraps or any number of potentially harmful insects and debris. An untreated cut or tick bite has the potential to grow into a serious infection. Also be on the look-out for any tender areas. If your dog winces as you run your hand across its leg, it could be indicative of a sprained or injured joint.
Many diseases and illnesses can be tricky to spot. Keeping track of the amount your dog eats, drinks and sleeps is important. Eating less, drinking unusual amounts of water, and excessive lameness are all signs of potential health problems. Of course, vomiting and diarrhea are much easier to spot, and should be looked out for as well. If you are considering the purchase of a German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois as a protection dog, it is important that you purchase from a reputable breeder. Dogs purchased from less reputable sources may be at greater risk of developing hip dysplasia. Pay close attention to the gait and stride of your protection dog, especially in its senior years. An unusual gait or limp may be caused by pain experienced from hip or joint problems.
Any signs or symptoms of potential health problems should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian immediately. As well as keeping an eye out for problems yourself, regular check ups from your veterinarian are necessary.
Friday, March 12th, 2010
As humans, oral health and dental hygiene are a large part of lives. Healthy teeth and gums are essential not only to the longevity of our lives, but to social interaction as well. However, healthy teeth and gums is just as important for canines as it is for humans. For a guard dog, healthy teeth makes all the difference in maintaining a strong, confident bite. Maintaining healthy teeth becomes especially important as a dog ages.
There are a variety of store-bought products available to assist in cleaning your dog’s teeth; however, we have found that the best solution is most often the natural solution. When you give your dog a bone, you’re offering more than just a tasty treat. The act of chewing the bone actually helps to clean the teeth by scraping plaque off the surface as well as helping to strengthen the gums. To keep your dog’s teeth their strongest, one bone every other day, or about three to four bones per week is recommended. The best time to do this would be during your own meal times, when the family is sitting down and relaxed.
Preparation is simple: the bone should be raw, with at least a small amount of meat still attached. It is recommended that you do not give your dog a cooked bone, as the process of cooking will soften it and cause splintering which could hurt your dog’s mouth or cause choking. Freezing the bone before-hand is an effective way of killing any harmful bacteria that may have collected on the surface, but let the bone thaw before giving it to your dog. The size of the bone is, of course, relative to the size of your dog. For medium-sized working breeds such as German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherds, we recommend a bone that is no larger than the size of your clenched fist.
On a day-to-day basis, a raw bone is all your protection dog or guard dog needs to keep its teeth clean, strong and healthy. For long-term care, most veterinarians perform short oral examinations as a part of your dog’s regular check ups. Your veterinarian should inform you when an extensive cleaning is necessary, or if any serious problems with the teeth and gums are apparent.
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
Protection dogs that get selected for breeding should always be the pick of their litter, and the best of their bloodlines. However, even the strongest and sturdiest protection dog will need special attention during pregnancy. This article will offer tips on how to ease the process of pregnancy and prepare your canine for labor and whelping.
After conception, the newborn puppies should arrive in about 54-72 days. The average is about 62 days, but you should always be prepared at least a week in advance. Unlike humans, the hormone levels do not change in a dog during pregnancy. Because of this, the only way to determine if your canine is pregnant is through an ultrasound. Puppies should be detectable through ultrasound after about 25 days from conception. After about 45 days, the skeletons of the pups should be visible through x-ray. While an x-ray it is not required, it can help to know the number and size of the pups beforehand in order to be better prepared for any problems during whelping.
During pregnancy, you should avoid giving your dog nutritional supplements. High quality dog food should be enough to give your dog and her pups the vitamins and calories they need. You should also start taking your dog’s temperature. The average rectal temperature of a dog is between 100 to 102.5 degrees, Fahrenheit. Approximately 24 hours prior to whelping, your canine’s temperature will drop by a couple degrees. This should be a good indicator that she is very close to giving birth
About a week before whelping is expected, you should prepare a suitable area for the whelping to occur. Encourage the Dam to sleep in this area in order to allow her to get comfortable with it. It is important that this area be a safe, quiet place, away from activity and noise. The purpose of the whelping box is to help keep the puppies warm and safe. The box can be built out of plywood or cardboard. The sides of the whelping box should be high enough to protect the puppies from drafts, but leave the front open to allow the Dam to enter and leave the box comfortably.
Regardless of whether your dog is a Protection Dog, Guard Dog or Security Dog, the above steps will help the pregnancy of your German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd go as smoothly and comfortably as possible.
Thursday, March 4th, 2010
Breeding guard dogs is a very specialized practise. It requires years of experience and expertise to recognize good bloodlines and to know which dogs are suitable for breeding. However, the process of actually whelping newborn puppies can hold a whole new set of challenges in itself.
If no problems occur, the puppies will be pushed out one by one. They will be contained within an amniotic sac which the mother will break open. She should then bite the umbilical cord in half, and start licking the puppy to help it breath.
The first problem that can occur is if the mother has trouble pushing the puppy out. The mother should not have to spend more than about 10-15 minutes per puppy. If a puppy gets stuck during birthing, it can endanger not only the life of that puppy, but that of the entire litter. If the mother spends too long pushing on a stuck puppy, you will have to help her before she exhausts herself and endangers the rest of the litter. Having some form of non-toxic lubricant on hand can help. Watered-down dish soup may suffice as a last resort. Pull on the puppy gently to help release it. If the mother exhausts herself before the rest of the pups are born, her contractions may stop. If this occurs, an emergency c-section will have to be performed by your veterinarian, or at an animal hospital.
After each puppy is born, the mother may not release the puppies, cut the umbilical cords, or lick the puppies to help them breath. If the mother fails to do any of these, it is up to you to them for her. Keep a disinfected pair of scissors nearby as well as some iodine. Releasing the puppies from their sacs should be fairly easy. However, cutting the umbilical cord requires more of a crushing cut than a clean cut in order to minimize the amount of bleeding. You should cut the cords about a half-inch from the puppy’s abdomen. You may have to tie off the ends using clean string. Dental floss works well for this. Finally, have clean towels nearby to dry off the pups and remove mucous from around nose and mouth. Try to encourage the mother to lick puppy by placing it in front of her, but be prepared to towel down the puppy yourself. If the puppy isn’t breathing, your will have to remove mucous from the puppy’s mouth yourself. Open the pup’s mouth and use a clean medicine dropper to suck out any mucous. Rubbing the puppy with the towel whilst cleaning it also helps to promote circulation.
Finally, you should keep track of the number of placenta after whelping. It is normal for the mother to eat the placenta, but you should not let her eat more than a couple, as it could upset her stomach. If the placenta does not come out along with the pup, you should remove it yourself to prevent it from interfering with the next pup.
Whether they are German Shepherd puppies, Belgian Malinois puppies or Dutch Shepherd puppies, the above steps can help to overcome the most common problems that occur during whelping. However, be on the lookout for large amounts of blood or green-black discharge before whelping. This could indicate a more serious problem that requires the attention of your veterinarian. Always have a phone near by for you to call your vet for advise, or in the case of an emergency.
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
All mammals, including both canines and humans, require vitamins and minerals in their diet. Although the nutritional needs of a dog are very different from that of a human, there are also many similarities. Each requires calcium, sodium, potassium, vitamins B, C, D, and a host of other common vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in our food. However, there are several options in terms of how to ensure that your protection dog is getting enough vitamins and minerals in its diet.
First and foremost, you should be feeding your dogs premium quality dog food. Cheap dog foods often contain little nutritional value to begin with, and many of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals are destroyed by heat during the manufacturing process. Many high quality dog foods often include added minerals to ensure that the food meets the recommended standards for canine nutrition. Even with the active lifestyle of guard dogs and protection dogs, high quality dog foods should contain all of the nutrients your canine requires without the need for additional supplements.
Alternatively, there are a number of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables that can be given to your dog raw alongside raw beef and bones. Carrots, pears and apples are all suitable examples. However, it should be noted that a raw food diet requires much more thought and consideration on the part of the handler. While some fruits and vegetables are healthy for your dog, others, such as grapes, raisins or tomatoes, can be toxic. Also, switching your canine directly from a commercial dog food diet to a raw food diet can be hard on the stomach. Always consult your veterinarian before making any radical changes in the diet of your protection dog.
Finally, there are vitamin supplements. The simple truth is that vitamin supplements are in no way a replacement for a healthy vitamin-rich diet. In fact, too much of a certain vitamin can be toxic, and vitamin supplements may inadvertently make your dog sick. The only time you should ever give your canine a vitamin supplement is under the advice of your veterinarian. Whether you have a German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, or Dutch Shepherd, a natural, vitamin-rich diet is almost always the best solution.
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