Archive for September, 2010
Thursday, September 30th, 2010
We’ve all seen someone jump at the sound of a balloon popping, or the classic prank of bursting a paper bag next to an unwitting friend, but few people realise the importance of understanding our reactions to loud noises, and how working dogs might react to these noises. There are many people who have never heard the sound of a gunshot in their lives. They may understand what a gun is, and that it makes a loud noise, but hearing that sound for the first time is almost guaranteed to be a nerve-wracking experience. Now imagine how a canine might react, having no knowledge of what a gun is, or what it might sound like. The sound of gunfire immediately provokes fear and confusion in many animals. However, conditioning working dogs to remain focused during gunfire is something that hunters and police officers have been doing for centuries.
The sport of KNPV recognizes the need for a dog that can remain calm during gunfire, and includes exercises which are designed to test a dog’s reaction to gunfire. The most basic exercise is simply training the dog not to bark during while using firearms. The most natural reaction for a dog to have in response to loud noises is to bark. This makes training a dog not to bark during firearms exercises exceptionally difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible. However, good training is only one side of the equation. It is extremely important for a dog to have strong nerves, as it will make a calm and controlled reaction to frightening noises that much easier to achieve. It is for this reason that police protection dogs are specifically bred to have strong nerves.
It is commendable of KNPV to include exercises, such as not barking under gunfire, which test the needs of working police dogs. Of all dog sports, KNPV comes the closest to mimicking real life scenarios with its exercises. However, one should always remember that KNPV is just a sport. True protection dogs should be trained for protection work in the real world, not for sport.
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
Although most dog sports are essentially built around the same basic principals, each sport is unique in its own way. One of the exercises that makes French Ring sport different from other competitive dog sports is its retrieval exercises. There are three types of retrieval exercises, but only dogs competing in French Ring III, the most advanced level of French Ring titles, are expected to perform all three.
The first of the three exercises is known as the thrown retrieve. In this exercise, the handler throws an object, and the dog is simply expected to retrieve the object and return it to the handler. The throw must cover a distance of at least 5 meters, and the dog is only given 5 seconds to complete the exercise. Due to the time restrictions, the dog must move quickly, but it is also important that the handler be able to throw appropriate distance. Throwing further than 5 meters will obviously cost you time as your dog is required to run farther than the minimum 5 meters. Practise and coordination are required by both the dog and the handler.
The thrown retrieve exercise is performed in all three levels of French Ring. In French Ring II, a new retrieve is introduced, which is known as “seen retrieve”. The seen retrieve involves the handler and dog heeling down the field. The handler drops an object in plain site of the dog, and they continue moving. Finally, they stop, and the dog is instructed to run back and retrieve the object. In French Ring III, another variation of this is introduced, known as “unseen retrieve”. The unseen retrieve is essentially identical to the seen retrieve, except that the object is dropped without the dog seeing it.
Retrieval exercises are certainly nothing new to dog owners. It is certainly not uncommon to see dog owners from all walks of life teaching their pets to play “fetch”. French Ring tries to go a step further by incorporating elements of obedience and agility into the exercises. Of course, it’s important to remember that French Ring is just a sport. Sporting exercises are wonderful entertainment for handlers, dogs and spectators alike, but one should never confuse a sporting dog for a true protection dog. If you want a true canine protection, you need a dog that has been trained for protection, not for sport. A sporting dog should never be sold as a protection dog, regardless of whether it’s a German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd.
Sunday, September 26th, 2010
CCK9 has just launched its new sister company. We are now offering one-on-one dog training to the private sector. That’s right; we come to you, in the privacy of your own home. We will be offering basic obedience, to advanced off-leash obedience, to problem solving with you and your dog. We will be training all breeds, big or small.
Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
Police forces all over the world use specially trained police dogs for a variety of purposes. Every role in a police force is important, and each helps to enforce the law and protect citizens in its own way; however, tactical police work is often considered the most physically and mentally demanding of all tasks. Engaging a dangerous criminal requires an incredible amount of bravery and team-work. The end goal of any confrontation is to end the situation with as few injuries and casualties as possible.
When you introduce a poorly trained canine into a dangerous situation, it can make an already bad situation much worse. Proper training can mean a huge difference between a dog that endangers lives versus a dog that can save them. The single most important part of training a dog for tactical police work is to make sure it is trained to handle real danger in real situations. One aspect of this is to train for work with gunfire. During a confrontation, there is a very real chance that guns may be used by both the suspect as well as police officers. A poorly trained dog will immediately become confused and disoriented by such a situation, and will become a danger to all involved. On the other hand, a properly trained dog will be unaffected by the noise and commotion, will stay on target, and will be able to disarm the suspect efficiently.
Of course, there’s more to working effectively with a tactical police dog than having a dog that’s trained properly. The officers involved must also be able to work efficiently with the dog. The handler is responsible for ensuring that the officers involved know what to expect, and how the dog has been trained to react to different situations. This is especially important when introducing canine units into police forces who may not have any prior experience working with police dogs.
Canine protection is not a game. It takes a well-trained police protection dog, be it a German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd, to work effectively with a police force and to help ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Bloodlines are very important when breeding dogs; they’ve been refined and specialized over hundreds of years to create the best breeds for a wide variety of purposes. Even today, canine bloodlines are still being refined through selective breeding of only the best dogs. It stands to reason then, that when a breeder happens across a dog that performs exceptionally well, they will want that dog to sire or dam as many litters or possible. Of course, a dog can only be bred so many times in a lifetime, but there are methods that allow one to store a dog’s genetic material for future generations.
For male dogs, semen can be collected and stored for long periods of time through freezing. When first collected, semen will only stay effective in storage for between 3-5 hours. It is important to remember that sperm are essentially alive, and tend to have very short life-spans. However, immediately chilling the semen allows it to remain in storage for a much longer time; when chilled, it can often last as long as 2 days. When properly frozen, the storage-time increases exponentially. Essentially, frozen sperm can last indefinitely, but its quality and effectiveness may still degrade very slowly over time. It is important to note that properly storing frozen semen at the appropriate temperature is a difficult task. It requires temperatures lower than -300°F, and should only be attempted by a professional with proper safety equipment.
Unfortunately, the amount of time a sperm cell spends in storage is inversely proportional to the amount of time it will survive once warmed to body temperature and introduced to the uterus. Fresh semen will typically survive in an intrauterine environment for as many as 5 days, while chilled semen may only survive between 2-3 days. Frozen semen has the shortest intrauterine life-span, and may only last about a day. The chances of pregnancy occurring are directly related to the amount of time that sperm are able to survive within the uterus. This means that fresh semen has the highest chance of successfully leading to pregnancy, while frozen semen has the lowest.
Whether you’re breeding German Shepherd puppies, Belgian Malinois puppies, or Dutch Shepherd puppies, you should keep in mind that fresh semen and natural conception are always the preferred methods. Due to the costs of having semen stored at the appropriate temperature, as well as reduced effectiveness after being frozen, freezing and storing semen should only be done when absolutely necessary.
Thursday, September 16th, 2010
Trimming your dog’s nails is one of the most basic procedures in canine grooming. Your dog’s nails will continue to grow over time, just as human nails do. Unlike human nails, a dog’s nails are in frequent contact with rough surfaces, such as concrete. While this does help to keep them at an appropriate length, they are more likely to break or splinter, which can lead to painful infections. If you can hear your dog’s nails clicking against hard floors, they’re probably in need of a trim.
Trimming the nails is very simple to do, but a few considerations should be kept in mind. First of all, be wary of cutting the nails too short. There is a blood vessel that runs down the center of the nail know as “the quick”. Cutting into the quick will cause bleeding. If you see a small black patch in the center of the nail as you cut, you’re hitting the end of quick. Hitting the end of the quick is okay, but be very careful not to cut any shorter. As the nails grow, the quick will grow with them, so it is best to trim the nails regularly to prevent this from happening. Regular clipping will actually cause the quick to become shorter, meaning you’re less likely to hit it.
To clip your dog’s nails, you will want to use canine nail clippers. They are very easy to find, and should be available at any nearby pet store for a reasonable price. Note that human nail clippers, or other sharp devices not intended for canine paws, will not work, and could damage the nail. You will also want to keep an antihemmoragic nearby to stop bleeding, in case you clip too short and hit the quick. Styptic pens or powder will work well for this purpose. You should clip at a 45 degree angle, while holding the paw firmly. If your dog’s nails are dark, and you cannot see the quick visually, you should consider making a series of small clips until you hit the black mark that indicates the end of the quick.
Depending on the amount of time your dog spends on sidewalks and other rough surfaces, your dog’s nails may be kept naturally short. A personal protection dog that spends a lot of time accompanying you on the street may not necessarily need their nails clipped at all. However, it is a good idea to keep your dog accustomed to the routine of clipping. Whether you have a German Shepherd, a Belgian Malinois, or a Dutch Shepherd, the process of nail trimming is more or less the same. It doesn’t take long, and it’s relatively easy to do.
Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
Humans and canines have had a long history together that stretches back for thousands of years. The domestication of dogs was a long process that likely began with wild canines following groups of nomadic humans in order to scavenge scraps of food from them. As ancient nomadic tribes developed into agricultural societies, they began to realise the potential to use the natural behavior of dogs to their advantage. Thus, herding dogs came into existence, and the first working role of canines in human society was established.
Although similar techniques can be applied to herding a wide variety of livestock including goats, sheep and cattle, the term “sheep dog” or “shepherd” is the most commonly used term to describe herding dogs. The roles of herding dogs can differ depending on the circumstance. In some instances, the dog is required to move the livestock by “driving” them; in others, the role of the dog is to keep the livestock from wandering too far from their grazing area. Regardless of the precise role of the herding dog, it remains that the act of herding plays off of the natural predatory instincts of the canine. Of course, many breeds of dog have lost these instincts over thousands of years of being bred for other roles. However, any dog can be tested for herding instincts in order to determine their suitability for work as a herding dog.
It should be noted that while both are often referred to as “sheep dogs”, there is a difference between dogs that are trained to herd versus dogs who are trained to guard livestock against natural predators. To add to this confusion, some dogs are expected to perform both roles. For a guard dog, the guarding instincts for which they have been bred will make a good fit for guarding livestock. However, many guard dogs today are taken from traditional shepherd breeds such as the German Shepherd, or Belgian Malinois. Dogs from these breeds are likely to still have strong herding instincts, and may be a good fit for herding livestock.
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Understandably, the desire to mate is strong among most intact canines. It is an act in which potential sires and dams are usually more than eager to participate in. However, rare circumstances sometimes lead to situations in which natural mating cannot occur. The possible reasons for this are numerous, and vary from aggression between the intended sire and dam, to trying to preserve a strong bloodline from a sire who is too old to continue mating naturally. The solution in such situations is artificial insemination.
Artificial insemination is performed frequently with livestock, often because cattle are too large to mate naturally without risk of injury. However, it is usually left as a last resort among canines. The process involves three main steps: collection and preservation of semen, preparation of the female, and the actual act of insemination.
For collection, a female in heat is often used as a “teaser”, but once the female is mounted, care must be taken to ensure that the intended sire is, for lack of a better term, redirected into the appropriate collection device. Once the semen has been collected, it may be used immediately, chilled for up to 24 hours, or frozen for prolonged storage. It should be noted, however, that while chilling and freezing will help to preserve the semen, the chances of successful fertilization will still degrade over time.
For fertilization to occur, the female must be inseminated at the right time. Typically, attempts at insemination are performed approximately four days before ovulation, and continued every second day until two days after ovulation. Of course, determining the exact date of ovulation can be difficult. Blood tests can determine the date of ovulation by measuring the level of progesterone in the female. However, this method is often expensive and impractical. A far less accurate, but much more cost-effective method is to simply keep track of the female’s cycles to predict when she will next be in heat.
Finally the act of insemination is performed using a specially designed pipette. The male should not be present during this process. The female is held in an upright position, and the semen is deposited at the cervix.
Whether you are breeding German Shepherd puppies, Belgian Malinois puppies or Dutch Shepherd puppies, you should remember that artificial insemination should only be used as a last resort. The natural mating process offers much greater rates of success, and is always the preferred option of artificial insemination
Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
The term “whelping” is used to describe the final stages of canine pregnancy and the birthing of litters. As is true for pregnancy in any mammal, a pregnant canine will require care and attention to unsure that the whelping goes smoothly and that the pups are born without difficulty or complication. Unfortunately, some complications are impossible to avoid, but knowing what to expect and when to expect it will help you prepare for the best possible whelping scenario.
Canine pregnancy typically lasts about three months from the date of conception. This varies from breed to breed, but is generally true of most medium-sized dogs, such as the German Shepherd. Mark the expected date of birth on your calendar. The litter may not necessarily be born on this exact date, but it should serve as a good reference for when to start preparing for whelping. One to two weeks before the litter is expected, your dog should be noticeably pregnant, with an enlarged abdomen. You should being taking your dog’s temperature regularly during this time, as changes in body temperature will mark the first signs of labor.
Labor typically begins between 24 and 48 hours before birth. The first stages may not be immediately noticeable, but the temperature of your dog will begin to drop from its regular temperature of about 99-101°F. As her temperature drops, she will begin to pant heavily. She may vomit, or begin shaking, and will likely need to urinate frequently. Her temperature should bottom out at about 98°F, at which point she will begin giving birth within 2-12 hours, depending on whether or not it is her first litter. At this point, your dog will be in her second stage of labor, and will be visibly straining with contractions. Newborn German Shepherd puppies will not be far behind, so be sure not to leave her side during this period.
Of course, having your veterinarian on speed-dial is a necessity during whelping. Complications in whelping can risk the life of the pups as well as the bitch. Be prepared to transport your dog to a veterinary hospital if the need arises. Hopefully, all will go well, and your female German Shepherd will have successfully whelped a healthy litter of German Shepherd puppies.
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
Canine units are an essential part of police forces all over the world today. These elite canines are expected to help police officers enforce the law and save lives. Their duties range from tracking lost individuals, to rescuing drowning victims, to disarming dangerous criminals. It takes a very special dog to be able to perform these tasks with the efficiency and dependability that is required of working police dogs. For the police officers who are putting their lives at risk, having a canine partner who is guaranteed to be fully trained and capable of performing the task at hand is a necessity. In order to prove their capacity, working dogs must pass strict police canine certification programs before being admitted into the force. These certification programs ensure that only the best of the best make it onto the field as a working police dog.
Throughout the world, police forces in each region and country rely on their own localized certification programs. No international standard exists for the certification of police dogs, so it is up to the police department and the local government to determine if a certain certification is up to par with their own expectations for a police dog. For example, police dogs in the U.S.A often obtain certification from the United States Police Canine Association, while the Royal Mounted Police offers their own certifications for canine units working in Canada. However, the majority of organizations offering official certifications for police protection work follow a similar set of criteria. Typically, police dog certification programs will test dogs for general obedience and agility, tracking, criminal apprehension, searches, narcotics detection and explosives detection.
It is important to note that the certifications given for dog sport events, such as Schutzhund or French Ring, are not equivalent to those offered by official police dog certification programs. Police protection dogs should always be trained for real-life scenarios, as the danger they will face on the field is very real. Never expect a dog trained in sport to handle real protection work in the real world.
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