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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Introduction to Genomics (Second Edition) Review

Introduct to Genomics Second Editon Review

This was a book that I was sent by Oxford University Press to review for them as part of their student review panel (yes OUP actually listens to the opinions of students not to mention supporting student societies!). I am writting this review from scratch without any reference to my previous review.

Review: Introduction to Genomics (Second Edition) by Arthur M. Lesk

Introduct to Genomics Second Editon Review

The second edition was published earlier this year, and I kinda wish that I had it back when I did my Animal Genetics modules. When it came to genetics there is little difference between the techniques across species (other than differences in the Genome/Genes of course), and it is a rapidly expanding area of research. Within the field of genetics there is the study of the Genome, which is the complete set of genetic material in an organism.

When I started I had no clue as genetics hadn’t been an area I’d looked at before, I managed to pass the module grasping the basics. Mendels Law, Punnet Squares, Dominance, Transcription, Translation, mRNA, tRNA and DNA. Whilst I had the understanding of what and how they worked I lacked the understanding of the why they worked. This book therefore was a welcome opportunity for me to try and rectify this.

The first few chapters give an introduction to genomics,  how genes are regulated and expressed, some real life examples of genetic disease and the Mapping, Sequencing, Annotation and various databases and databanks for genome research.

Then it looks at Comparative Genomics, or how genomes differ. This is where I believe this book gets really intersting as it examines the phylogenic tree for the evolution of life, has comparison tables for different viruses, and covers Influenza and Avian flu in more detail. It then goes on to examine recombinant viruses and how viruses can be constructed as a vector to introduce foriegn proteins into a cell. It then talks about evolution and genomic change including pattern matching and genetic engineering.

The Genomes of both Prokaryotes and Genomes of Eukaryotes are then examine in two seperate chapters which is fascinating and covers Archaea, Bacteria, DNA from extinct birds and high-throughput sequencing of mammoth DNA. This leads perfectly into a chapter on Human Genomics and looks at personal identification and anthropology.

The last 3 chapters get really sciency with Microarrays and Transcriptomics,Proteomics and Systems Biology which are different subfields within Genomics. These are explained in the same manner making these chapters the perfect introduction to theise fields.

In terms of the content there is a lot of colourful diagrams to illustrate key points, boxes to go into further detail of a topic and relate it to the real world. Ethical issues all get highlighted into their own boxes and there are easy to use tables throughout. In addition something I really liked was the way they extended the learning from each chapter At the end of each chapter there is a list of Recommended Reading with books and journals, followed by a set of exercises, problems and something called “Weblems” which are designed to give practice with the tools used for research in the field.

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This is a book I would recommend that anyone starting genetics or in need of refresher of the subject read. It starts with the basics assuming no knowledge and leaves you with a solid understanding of the techniques and theory of the subject and more!

Merck Veterinary Manual 10th Edition Review

Merck Veterinary Manual 10th Edition - Best Vet Books

My first review is of the Merck Veterinary Manual 10th Edition (the first edition was published in 1955), I got mine back in 2010 with a week of the 10th edition being published. Personally my first impression was that it reminded me off bible with the same type of paper, and a similar size. At first I didn’t believe it could contain everything it claimed to.

This is one book I am definately taking with me when I move in September, and for £30 was probably one of the best investments I’ve made. It literrally has every disease common to companion, farm, equine and even some exotic animals. It has been a valuable reference and is the first book I will check, however it is only useful when you know what you are looking for already. Trying to use it to diagnose symptoms or problems is extremely difficult…

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The first part of the book is split into body systems, and the second half is split into specialisms such as pathology, emergency medicine, toxicology, pharmacology etc. These are made easy to find with a cut out along the side of the book taking you straight to the contents page for that section where it is split into Large Animals and Small Animals.

There are a lot of colour photo’s and diagrams showing complex processes as simply as possible. This book is targetted at people interested in the veterinary field with clear and concise language, and covering most diseases that you will encounter. However it is not great for normal person just looking to learn more about animals.

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My rating is 10 / 10
This is a book anyone in the veterinary field should have a copy of.