The secret to getting your dog to do what you want…

How to behave so your dog behaves review

So often I see owners getting frustrated that their dog is not doing what they want… Yet I also see a dog that is confused. It’s all a case of miscommunication and in the next few minutes I am going to give you the secret to getting your message across.

If we go back to the beginning we need to consider the most basic thing – that is getting your dogs attention. However we need to do this in a positive way – make it a great experience for your dog to give you their attention. I believe in positive reinforcement so when you dog does what you want, you should give them a treat for it. So let’s take a quick look at how to get your dogs attention – basically when you say their name you want them to give you attention (look at your face) and wait for your next command.

Start this simply, position yourself in front of them now you want to say their name, and the minute they look at your face give them a treat directly to their mouth. Repeat this everyday for short periods – to get the association with their name and this you need to get a result on the first time. So if they do not look at you, then don’t keep repeating yourself but wait and then give them the treat when they do – it will get a lot quicker as you go on and the association becomes stronger.

It is important to do this in a small controlled area with few distractions when you first start, once you have the basic action of your dog giving you attention working 90% of the time in this area you can increase the area or add more distractions and build up.

Now once you have mastered getting their attention you can use something called a variable ratio for the positive reinforcement where you reward them randomly so that they never know when to expect the treat – but know that it will occur sometimes so carry out the behaviour in the chance that they will be rewarded.

You can then use the same techniques of positive reinforcement to train other things once you have your dog giving you their attention on demand you can give a command for a behaviour – and then reward them for doing the behaviour.

I think behaviour and learning is something every pet owner should understand, however it is often confused or twisted in the way it is explained. The best book I have found for learning about behaviour is by Dr Sophia Yin, and is called How to Behave so your Dog Behaves. I know it says “dog” in the title, however the principles here can be used with anything from chickens to elephants so in my opinion it would be a highly recommended read.

REVIEW: Animal Abuse and Unlawful Killing (Ranald Munro & Helen M. C. Munro)

Animal abuse and unlawful killing book review

I randomly came across this book tucked away in the corner of the university library. Sadly with social media I am reminded of the bad things in the world on a daily basis. I felt that as a vet student it was my duty to take the time to educate myself here (yeah there’s not really a class for it yet!) and as it looked like a quick read, and very practical in nature I decided to borrow it.

So I’ve only just started studying my pathology modules, yet this book made perfect sense with the limited knowledge that I had. It breaks down the different possible “causes” of pathology resulting from abuse or unlawful killing including an introduction to the subject, how to do forensic examinations and what is expected with respect to non-accidental injury as well.

Despite it being under a 100 pages long, there is an absolute wealth of information packed in; each page I read left me with things to think about and consider. Whilst it is not the nicest subject to read about, having the extra little things to consider will I believe help me in my duty to animal welfare.

In addition to the topics I mentioned about the book includes chapters on neglect, wounds and injuries, thermal injuries, firearms injuries, asphyxia and drowning, physical agents, traps and snares, bite injuries, sexual abuse and poisoning. Also there is a discussion on the estimation of time since death which is a really big topic in humans, however with the range in body size across species still remains an area where extensive research is required for animals.

I would consider this book to be essential reading for every vet, vet student, vet nurse and vet technician that has any contact at all with animals.

Review: Clinical Medicine of the Dog and Cat (Second Edition)

Clinical medicine of the dog and cat second edition - michael schaer

Clinical Medcine of the Dog and Cat by Michael Schaer

First impressions on receiving the book were that it was heavier and thicker than I was expecting, and just from the front cover you realise the level of care taking in the presentation of information. The book is provided in hardcover, and printed onto high quality paper to ensure that the image quality is there.

Over the past couple of months since I got this book it has become indispensable. I can easily use it to reference a condition to get the essentials quickly without added “fluff” that some books like to add. This is backed up by full colour images to reference – for someone that has not the experience to have seen everything before this is essential and something I have found really useful.

Overall there is barely a single point throughout the entire book that is not backed up by a relevant and useful image or illustration – going from the image labels there are apparently 1516 total within the book. I believe an image really is worth 1000 words – especially where a concept may otherwise be difficult to explain – and within this book these fit perfectly to the text.

Looking inside clinical medicine of the dog and cat second edition

The book is well organised into chapters based around different body systems, with additional chapters on infectious diseases, fluid therapy and pain management. Each chapter starts with a quick review of the topic, flow charts and easy reference tables highlighting key diagnostic points and differentials along with potential treatment paths. Each potential condition and disorder within the body system is then covered with the etiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, differentials, diagnosis and treatment and management.

Once you are past the introduction within the chapters the diseases and conditions are covered almost in dictionary format. Where appropriate these are split across subdivision in the chapters, for example haematology has subdivisions for erythrocyte disorders, leukocyte disorders, abnormal nuclear morphology, platelet disorders, dysplastic disorders and haemopoietic disorders. Something that is not essential but may have been useful here is a contents list with page numbers for the different subdivisions with the chapters

Great care has been taken to make the information within this book easily and quickly accessible and it would be a worthwhile addition to any vet students library (or as in my case locker for use in clinic)!