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.

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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.

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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)!

 

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REVIEW: Chaser – Unlocking the genius of the Dog who knows a THOUSAND words

Chaser - unlocking the genius of the dog who knows a thousand words REVIEW

A couple of months ago I was asked if I wanted to review a copy of Chaser, now remembering the media circus at the end of 2011 about the dog that knew a 1000 words I jumped at this opportunity. After reading the first few pages I decided that it was a book I needed to give my full attention and with my other responsibilities with school one that went onto my pile for reading after exams during the Christmas holiday.

Now this book is almost an autobiography of how John ended up teaching his dog Chaser so much, it talks you on a personal level as if it is letting you inside the family at the same time as talking about one of the biggest scientific moments ever in animal learning. Once I started reading I was lost to the world and simply couldn’t put this book down.

Chaser was not the first dog in the Pilley family, and before the story of Chaser starts John looks at what he learnt from his previous dogs Yasha and Grindle whom he used in his classes. Being a psychologist gave John the background in learning and cognition that was needed to understand why things happened how they did and not just that they did. This knowledge is shared throughout the entire book, looking at the theory, implementation and his own results with Chaser. Taking you on a journey from getting a new puppy, through to how they nearly lost her and the name for her was chosen through to becoming a complete sensation.

Personally I hate most dog “training” books, guides and methodologies as I have always had a strong belief that dogs are smart enough to learn through just positive methods. This book is the perfect demonstration of how this can be achieved, and should I believed be required reading for anyone that is even considering training animals.

Overall I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone looking for a heart-warming yet educational story about how you can teach a dog language. I am just waiting to hear more about future progress with Chasers learning, or indeed the replication of this learning with other dogs.

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REVIEW: Pocket Handbook of Small Animal Medicine (Kit Sturgess)

Pocket handbook of Small Animal Medicine (Kit Sturgess)

As a vet student this lab-coat pocket sized book is perfect as a quick reference to clinical exams with flow charts covering many of the common presenting complaints organised by organ system and with a section on emergency procedures is very good. When combined with a copy of the BSAVA Procedures Guide – this book does not describe how to do the procedures listed – it is absolutely unbeatable.

The book itself is split into 5 separate sections – Basic Approaches, Clinical Presentation, Body System and Multisystemic Disease, Anaesthesia Analgesia and Surgery, and Critical Care. Each section tries to cover the most common presentations, though sometimes such as with the section on dental disease it feels like it has been simplified too much to be useful.

Other sections are absolutely spot-on with clear, concise summaries, diseases listed by area and lists of useful drugs, routes and dosages. The flow charts within the book form quick and easy to follow protocols from common presentations such as Jaundice, Anaemia, Pyrexia through to the critical care sections which includes protocols for collapse, seizures and urinary obstruction. I especially find useful the section on Anaesthesia and Analgesia as these are two areas any vet student will struggle with and this section is especially well written with easy drug references.

Other than the misplaced chapter on dental disease the biggest problem that I have had with this book so far is that it does not contain anything on euthanasia which I feel is something that should have been included. In fact I only noticed this during a euthanasia when I wanted to check if there was any difference in dosage (studying abroad included instructions are written in Slovak) for a giant breed dog.

There have been a few pocket reference books for vets published recently, however from all the books I have had the pleasure of looking at this one would be my choice even though it is slightly larger at DL size.

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Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery Book Review

Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery Book Review

As a vet student learning surgery is one of the biggest challenges that lies ahead, and is something that is exciting, yet bears a weight of great responsibility. Most of the surgery textbooks that I have seen are either very specific, or are absolutely massive so I was slightly surprised at the size (and weight) of this book. Flicking through quickly it is possible to see that for the size it has a lot of good solid information without the “fluff” that some books add starting with principles and techniques of aseptic technique, instrument use, and suturing. The book then moves on to discuss the different organ systems, and soft tissue surgical procedures that are used with these.

What I especially love is that the basics are covered in a high level of detail, with the different approaches to the same task considered and contrasted. For example looking at haemostasis the options of direct pressure, crushing haemostasis, ligation, vessel clips, vasoconstriction, diathermy (monopolar and bipolar), topical haemostatic agents are all considered before finishing with a discussion of the complications of bleeding disorders. The two chapters on suturing cover the different materials, and then the different patterns that are used with step by step photographs of each pattern. Pain management, post-operative nutrition, wound management and reconstruction with amputation is covered with an entire chapter on oncological surgery and skin tumours.

When looking at abdominal surgery it starts with a chapter on the principles of abdominal surgery looking at the different approaches, prevention of adhesions, exploring the abdomen and limiting complications. The rest of the section covers the procedures for separate organ systems within the abdomen with each chapter covering the principles behind the system, before going into the clinical indications, diagnostic imaging and different techniques for each procedure. Off note here is the chapter on gastrointestinal surgery which covers the different approaches for diagnosis, special principles and techniques including suture patterns and performing a leak test. The chapter then looks at gastric obstruction and GDV covering from initial stabilisation through to selecting a site for gastropexy. One of my favourite (and as a student most useful) chapters is the one of peritonitis management and the acute management which covers the stabilisation, oxygen & fluid therapy, right through investigation, imaging, diagnosis and treatment.

I’ve already had the pleasure of seeing some small animal surgical clinics here, and this book with its concise indications for, differentials and description of the procedure has been a golden resource for me to quickly get up to speed on the procedures being performed. This is especially useful as I am studying in Slovakia and my understanding of the language still needs improving so prevents me getting completely lost.

One of the first things that got me was that the images are not in colour and are instead printed in high contrast black and white. To be honest I personally like this as I find that they have a higher contrast between tissues which makes them easier to see as colour images rarely match up to what you see in surgery with the difference in lighting and perfusion etc.

For a vet student starting surgery this is a book I would thoroughly recommend, it has the answers to all the “stupid questions”, as well as covering the basic skills that once mastered will make you a better surgeon. I for one will be keeping this book on hand throughout the next 3 years of my training!

This is a book I’d recommend to go into any veterinary collection for a quick reference of the different surgical options available for a client, or as a cheat guide to avoiding the common pitfalls of different procedures.

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Atopic dermatitis – an update

Topic: Atopic dermatitis – an update
Speaker: Professor David Lloyd BVetMed PhD FRCVS DipECVD
Date: Wednesday 8th May 2013, at 1pm – 2pm GMT Time: 8pm – 9pm GMT

Part of the FREE Virbac Spring Dermatology Webinar Series presented by Professor David Lloyd BVetMed PhD FRCVS DipECVD. European and RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Dermatology and Professor of Veterinary Dermatology at the Royal Veterinary College.

This webinar is free of charge, please REGISTER HERE FOR THIS WEBINAR

This webinar is free of charge, please REGISTER HERE FOR THIS WEBINAR

An Approach to Feline Pruritus

Topic: An Approach to Feline Pruritus
Speaker: Dr Dodoer-Noel Carlotti
Date: Wednesday 1st May 2013 Time: 8pm – 9pm GMT

A free webinar sponsored by Elanco and presented by Dr Didier-Noel Carlotti DVM Diplomate ECVD.

Internationally recognised expert in dermatology, Dr Didier-Noel Carlotti DVM Diplomate ECVD shares his approach to cases of feline pruritus. The webinar will include:

  • review of the clinical signs and presentations of pruritus in feline patients
  • differential diagnoses for pruritus and how to rule them in or out
  • advice on the management of feline allergic skin diseases

This webinar is free of charge, please REGISTER HERE FOR THIS WEBINAR

A close up on extractions – The ifs, whens, whys and hows of Dentistry

Topic: A close up on extractions
Speaker: Rachel Perry
Date: Monday 15th April 2013 Time: 8pm – 9pm British Summer Time

The first of two free webinars on Veterinary Dentistry presented by Rachel Perry BSc, BVM&S, MANZCVS (Small Animal Dentistry & Oral Surgery), MRCVS.

Extractions form a large part of dentistry in small animal practice. This webinar will cover the fundamentals of extraction techniques, and also provide guidelines to assist in the decision making process.

This webinar is free of charge, please REGISTER HERE FOR THE IFS, WHENS, WHYS AND HOWS OF DENTISTRY

About Rachel Perry BSc, BVM&S, MANZCVS (Small Animal Dentistry & Oral Surgery), MRCVS

Rachel graduated in 1997 from Edinburgh University and joined a small animal practice on the south coast. She developed an interest in small animal dentistry after attending CPD courses provided by BVDA, and then attended a 4 year programme organised by ESAVS covering advanced dentistry and oral surgery techniques. Since 2010, her practice has been limited to dentistry and she provides first opinion and referral small animal dentistry and oral surgery services in the Sussex area. In 2012 she gained entry to the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists by examination on the subject of Small Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery. She is an Alternate pathway resident with the EVDC, and teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate level.. She has lectured at national and international level and has been course organised for the BVDA since 2008.

Dentistry is for life! – The ifs, whens, whys and hows of Dentistry

Topic: Dentistry is for life!
Speaker: Rachel Perry
Date: Wednesday 17th April 2013 Time: 8pm – 9pm British Summer Time

The second of two free webinars on Veterinary Dentistry (you will get a recording of the first webinar if you register for this one).

Everyone understands the fact that dental disease is common in older pets. However, dental problems occur commonly throughout life. This webinar will cover the most commonly encountered problems in small animal practice and provide skills to enable early detection, treatment, and in some cases prevention. The approach to the geriatric patient with dental disease and concurrent systemic issues is also addressed.

This webinar is free of charge, please REGISTER HERE FOR THE IFS, WHENS, WHYS AND HOWS OF DENTISTRY

About Rachel Perry BSc, BVM&S, MANZCVS (Small Animal Dentistry & Oral Surgery), MRCVS

Rachel graduated in 1997 from Edinburgh University and joined a small animal practice on the south coast. She developed an interest in small animal dentistry after attending CPD courses provided by BVDA, and then attended a 4 year programme organised by ESAVS covering advanced dentistry and oral surgery techniques. Since 2010, her practice has been limited to dentistry and she provides first opinion and referral small animal dentistry and oral surgery services in the Sussex area. In 2012 she gained entry to the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists by examination on the subject of Small Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery. She is an Alternate pathway resident with the EVDC, and teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate level.. She has lectured at national and international level and has been course organised for the BVDA since 2008.