Sunday, February 26, 2012

Alpha Rollovers Do NOT Work!!!

If I go through another week where people are calling in wondering why their dog tried and/or did bite them when trying to do an alpha rollover, I may lose it. For those of you who have no idea what an alpha rollover is, I will explain. It is a behaviour performed by an inhumane human whereby this human forces a dog onto its back, stares it in the eyes and then places the other hand into the groin area. It is based on wolf interactions observed during the 70s. Unfortunately, it was an artificial pack of young wolves who had the need to fight a lot.

Since then, a lot has been learned, especially since the scientists started to study real (natural) wolf packs. They were determined to be composed of a Mom and Dad with their offspring and some other family members such as aunts and uncles. If you are using terms such as pack theory, alpha, omega etc. then you have some reading to do! Please start with Dog Sense by John Bradshaw.

What I’m leading up to is that adult wolves do not roll each other. They use more subtle (and elegant) pieces of body language to get their points across. In the WILD, it is RARE to see an adult wolf offer to expose their own abdomen to another wolf. It is much more commonly shown by the babies to the adults.

HOWEVER!!!!! In CAPTIVE wolves, the belly up behaviour is shown by the outcasts of the group. In the wild, these would have been the ones who would leave and join up with a wolf of the opposite sex to create their own pack. In captivity, they have had to learn to show exaggerated puppy behaviour so they don’t get beat up. We humans have created this behaviour artificially.

It just doesn’t work – so don’t do it. Your dogs likely think you are acting like a freak – so don’t do it. You may be scaring the bejesus out of your dog – so don’t do it. You could get bit (especially if your dog is anxious) – so don’t do it. The Monks of New Skete who recommended pet owners do it 30+ years ago are now asking people to not do it – so don’t do it. If on TV, it comes with a caution of ‘please don’t do this at home’ – do not do it!

If we are going to be respectful and humane to our dogs, we need to stop doing these bloody alpha rollovers! Instead of thinking about packs, think about families. Dogs are part of our families.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Why do dogs jump up on us?

Why do dogs jump up on us? Why do they do behaviours that we find annoying? Well, the simple answer is that if it has worked in the past to get our attention, they will do it again. Think of the way people normally handle a dog jumping up on them. They tell them to get down, shout, push them down or other more punitive (not recommended) measures. Regardless, they get attention even if it is negative.

Now think of what happens when the rules get changed. One of the best ways to get rid of the behaviour is to simply ignore it. For a dog jumping up, fold your arms, turn your back and walk away. When they stop the behaviour, quietly ask for an appropriate behaviour such as a sit and when they give it, treat, praise and/or play with a toy.

One of the side effects of changing the rules is our dogs will often go through what is called an extinction burst. They will do the behaviour with more vigor in hopes of getting the desired attention. (I once had a Lab X jump into my lap during a consultation when the paw on the lap just didn't work with me.)

A great way to illustrate a point is to get a human example. Yesterday morning, I went to yoga class. Their scanner can be a little touchy with the cards. You just have to get the angle right. Sometimes I would need to scan it a couple of times (kind of like a dog jumping up to get attention). So I walked in with my card ready and swipped it under the scanner. I thought nothing of it as I changed the position of the card, how close or far away it was and kept swipping (extinction burst). Now, I won't embarrass myself by saying exactly how many times I trying. The truly embarrassing part was that the machine was off..........

If you have read my blogs before, you know that Kodak is my special needs dog. Since I diagnosed him so early with his anxiety based aggressive issues, I instituted protocol for deference. He has to sit for all attention, then he gets what he wants. I grabbed a picture of him asking for attention to get up on my lap as I was doing a draft of this blog.

Friday, February 10, 2012

MacGyver time

About three weeks ago, a little male dog named Coreo came in for a regular neuter. Normally I don’t get called over to try to intubate by my techs, but this morning I did. For a moment, I thought they were playing a trick on me! He had a severe overbite so I could grab his tongue but the mouth wouldn’t open far enough to place the endotracheal tube in. An inch and a half just doesn’t cut it. We took some radiographs and woke him up. I wasn’t comfortable going forward with surgery if I couldn’t have airway access. If something had gone wrong, I wouldn’t have been able to control the situation.

Once he was awake, I went to take a look at the radiographs. Not only was he born with a congenital overbite, he also had a congenital malformation of the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) on both sides. The only reason that he was doing was well as he was eating and drinking was because of the overbite allowing the tongue to grab the food. Dogs just never know they are disabled!

As the CT scan and surgery were not in the playing cards and Coreo was finding more things to hump, we agreed to go forward with the castration. I had one major concern; I still needed control of the airway. Since there could be more congenital problems, I needed to bypass the area. So, we did a temporary tracheostomy. I modified an endotracheal tube so it would fit into the trachea. It was cool being able to take the time to place one rather than doing it under the duress of an emergency.

I haven’t been so happy during surgery in quite a while. Every time I looked at Coreo’s oxygenation ranging between 97-98%, I just grinned. The recovery was pretty neat too. Once he woke up, we simply removed the tube. His muscles just covered the trachea sealing the hole and the skin will close shortly. Love my job!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

If Dr. Seuss were a vet

I was recently sent this poem. I have tried to find who the author is but to no avail; however, it is practically perfect.

I won't dispense it, Sam I am....
I won't dispense without exam.

I won't dispense it to your dog,
Although you'll bash me in a blog.

I won't dispense it to your friend,
Who yells at me without an end.

I won't dispense it for the ear,
For the eyes, or for the rear.

I won't dispense it though you yell,
How mean I am - the world you'll tell.

I won't dispense it to your cat,
To your bird, or to your rat.

I won't give in - I'm standing tell,
Although you'll whine and cry and call.

I won't dispense it, Sam I am,
You can't have meds without exams!