Every dog is equipped with an amazing tool: their nose! Olfaction, the act or process of smelling, is a dog’s primary special sense. Dogs have more than 220 million olfactory receptors in their nose, while humans have only 5 million! This is a class to give pet dogs and their owners a fun way to learn and apply scent detection skills. Teaching dogs to use their nose to identify a target odor offers many benefits. This is a highly recommended working game for families to apply to their family pets for mental and physical energy release during searches. This introductory class will also help you get started for fun competition in the sport of K-9 Nose Work NACSW.
The clicker is a small, springy, snappy metal hand tool utilized in training to reward a desirable behavior immediately with precise timing. It is a secondary reinforcer that signals to the dog that it did the right thing and that a reward will be shortly forthcoming. Clicker training pairs the neutral sound of a clicker with a primary reward, such as a treat. Eventually, the clicker becomes a predictor the reward will soon be given. This allows the trainer to use the sound of the click to reinforce the desired behavior. This is particularly useful when the owner is not in a position to give the food reward immediately.
Recommendations: Bring a hungry dog, leash and collar, bait bag and yummy treats. If you do not have a treat bag, they are sold at Misty Pines. You may purchase one before class.
Sundays March 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th.
Beginner Handling 101 is offered to all dogs whose owners want to learn handling skills. In a fun, relaxed environment, we will discuss show terminology, ring etiquette and what to expect at dog shows. Students will learn how to stack and gait their dog as well as basic patterns. No prior experience is required, and novice handlers are highly encouraged to attend. All dogs over 4 months of age are welcome to attend.
Open Handling 102 is your standard competition handling class and is open to purebred dogs whose owners wish to build their dog's skill in the ring and practice for upcoming shows. Owners should have a basic understanding of handling as this class focuses on practice and preparation for the show ring. Purebreds over 4 months of age are welcome to attend.
Tropiclean Fresh Breath Products
February is national Pet Dental Health month, and in celebration we are marking all Tropiclean Dental Health products down 20%. Come to Misty Pines and ask our knowledgeable staff to recommend the Tropiclean product to fit your dog's needs. While visiting Misty Pines your dog can have his teeth brushed by our experienced groomers for just $6. That's 25% off!
Good nutrition is probably the most important contribution you can make to your dog’s good health. Providing a wholesome diet will help keep your dog at an optimal weight, give a strong immune system, and help hold off diseases associated with aging, such as diabetes and cancer. Plus avoiding chemical and toxins will ensure your friend’s optimal health for years to come. With so many choices available it is easy to become confused.
What’s the best food for your pet? In this area it is a general rule of thumb and the old adage “you get what you pay for”. You can’t expect to pay hamburger prices for filet mignon. It’s the quality of ingredients that set the top quality food apart.
Any dog food that you choose should be deemed adequate on the basis of feeding trials for your dog’s stage of life. The criteria have been proposed by AAFCO in the United States and CVMA in Canada. These are not foolproof criteria but are the best options available.
The essential and minimal "complete and balanced" is regulated by the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) a private advisory board whose members are from various government agencies. They have two tests; a food trail of feeding the food to only eight animals for 26 weeks monitoring their condition through-out and the second test is a chemical analysis in which the testing does not prove that the nutrients contained in these unregulated quality of ingredients can actually be absorbed by the body.
The feeding trials proposed by AAFCO are not ideal for many reasons. Typically, they include only a few animals and don’t take into consideration large breeds or very small breeds. There is also some concern that the trials don’t run long enough. For example, a growth feeding trial for puppies may end by four to five months of age, yet the pups continue to grow after this time. Also, the growth-related nutritional disturbances will probably not be detectable by this time
These trials are also relatively lax in their expectations. They consider a gestation/lactation trial successful if two-thirds of the females evaluated lose no more than 15 percent of their body weight by weaning. How about the one-third that lose even more? Ideally, females should return to their optimal weight by weaning if their nutritional status has been well maintained.
The claim that a pet food is 100% complete means that the food, even though it may have poor quality ingredients, meets AAFCO’s standards and it has accepted the food as a complete and balanced diet.
Even with these shortcomings, the AAFCO feeding trials are better than nothing and are far superior to relying on National Research Council (NRC) requirements alone. Click the links for more information on AAFCO and California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).
Now it’s up to the manufacturing company to produce a cute advertising campaign and a nutritious looking label that makes their food very appealing to the consumer to purchase. It is more economic and sexy for dog food companies to put their dollars into the marketing than into the quality of each individual ingredient. Don’t let pictures and adjectives on labels influence your selection; look at the ingredients list first, then research what each of those ingredients actually is.
Don’t try to compare dog foods on the basis of protein content. The percentage of protein in the diet is only a reflection of what is needed to supply essential amino acids. Additional protein only turns to fat or gets excreted in the urine. Don’t be fooled It is the quality of the protein provided, not the quantity, that makes the real difference in a dog food.
Pay attention to the ingredient list, even though it is hard to predict quality based on the terms used. For a canned product, there should be at least one animal-based protein source in the first two ingredients listed. For dry foods, an animal-based protein source should be one of the first three ingredients. This is a good clue as to how appropriately the diet has been formulated, because animal –based protein sources contain a better balance of essential amino acids. If meat or poultry meal is listed first on the label but the grains have been sub-categorized (e.g., cornmeal, kibbled corn, flaked corn), it is safe to assume that the manufacturer is trying to sell you a cereal-based diet but wants you to pay the price of a meat-based diet.
If vegetables or grains such as corn, wheat, rice, barley or soybeans are listed first on the ingredients list on the dog food bag, they may well be a source of protein, which you usually find in the lower economic brands of dog food.
Too much meat in the diet is not desirable, either. In dry dog foods, it is impossible to overload on meat because of the technological process involved. For canned foods, however, high meat content means low calcium. It also means that meat is providing most of the calories when a digestible carbohydrate would do a better and safer job. When canned foods contain a high percentage of meat, the companies must add calcium supplement to guard against calcium/phosphorus imbalance. Too high of a mineral concentration (ash) is also not good and probably implies that the ration contains a lot of bonemeal and poor-quality protein sources.
Buy commercial dog foods manufactured by a well-respected company that has contributed substantially to nutritional research in pets. These companies have the most to lose by distributing an inferior product because they have a reputation to protect. Fad diets and manufacturers will come and go, but the dog-food companies that intend to be around will be the ones most concerned with adequate nutrition.
How to Select a Good Quality Dog Food
- Don’t compare food on the basis of protein content. It is the quality, not the quantity, of protein that counts.
- In a canned food, at least one of the first two products listed should be animal-based protein; one of the first three ingredients in a dry food.
- Select a food by a major company that has conducted substantial research into pet nutrition.
- Select foods that use higher quality ingredients.
- Select the correct formulated diet for your pet’s age.
- Learn how to read ingredient labels and guaranteed analysis labels.
Misty Pines carries three top quality diets; Nature’s Variety, Fromm and Chicken Soup for the Soul, which are providers of high quality foods in dry, canned and raw food diets. Puppies enrolled in the Misty Pines training program may receive a free 4lb bag of Fromm Heartland Gold puppy food and may bring in their empty bag as their coupon to receive another complimentary 4lb bag of food.
Start your puppy early on the road to health with quality diets found at Misty Pines.
Next month's article: "Types of Dog Food."
Dental disease, specifically periodontal disease, is the most common disease affecting dogs and cats. Periodontal disease is an inflammation of some or all of the supporting structures of the teeth. These structures include the gingiva, periodontal ligament, cementum, and alveolar bone. Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria, mostly aerobic gram positive bacteria such as actinomyces and streptococci.
When dogs and cats eat, food particles become trapped along the gum line and in between the teeth. Bacteria are then attracted to the area which then joins with the food particles to form plaque. This is what creates the “dog breath” odor. If the plaque is not removed, minerals in the saliva begin to mix with the plaque and form tartar. Tartar, also known as calculus, will strongly adhere to the teeth. The tartar will become irritating to the gums and will separate the gums from the teeth to form little pockets where more bacteria can grow. At this point, the damage is usually irreversible and is called periodontal disease. It can be very painful by causing infection, loose teeth, abscesses, or infection.
There are numerous factors that affect the development of periodontal disease. They include diet, age, grooming habits at home, breed, and even genetics.
The signs of periodontal disease include some of the following:
- Persistent bad breath
- Gums that bleed easily
- Pus around the teeth
- Inflamed gums
- Loose teeth
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty chewing or eating
- Pawing at the mouth
- Stomach or intestinal upset
How is periodontal disease treated?
Treatment will depend on the severity of disease. It is important to treat and control periodontal disease to maintain the health of the teeth and gums and to protect from infection from spreading to other parts of the body. The severity of periodontal disease during the examination will be “graded” into one of four groups.
Grade I - Early Gingivitis
Has a mild amount of plaque and mild gum redness. There are no radiologic changes and the condition is reversible.
Grade II - Advanced Gingivitis
Has plaque below the gum line. The gums are red and swollen. There is little radiologic changes and the condition is reversible.
Grade III - Early Periodontitis
Has plaque and tarter below the gum line. The gums are red, swollen, are receding and will bleed with gentle probing. There is 10-30% loss of bone support shown on an x-ray. This condition is irreversible.
Grade IV - Established Periodontitis
Has larger amounts of plaque and tarter below the gum line. There is severe gum inflammation, gum recession, loose or missing teeth, pus, and gums bleed easy. There is over 30% bone loss visible on an x-ray. This condition is irreversible.
Treating Grade I and II periodontal disease will require and dental cleaning and polishing. The plaque and tarter will be removed and then the teeth will be polished. The vet may also apply fluoride to the teeth to help strengthen them.
Treating Grade III and IV periodontal disease also require a dental cleaning and polishing as well as several other procedures. These procedures may include root planning and subgingival curettage, periodontal debridement, gingivectomy, periodontal surgery, and tooth extraction.
Remember that periodontal disease is irreversible. Prevention is the key pertaining to dental care in our pets. Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth can reduce plaque from accumulating and the development of tarter. Along with regular brushing, provide your dog with various toys and bones to help remove plaque build up.
Misty Pines carries TropiClean Dental Health products! You can fight periodontal disease without brushing their teeth. 93% of users noticed cleaner teeth in less than two weeks and 86% of users noticed better breath in less than one week!
Clean Teeth Gel: Works fast and naturally to help reduce plaque and tartar on dogs and cats -- no toothbrush required. A proprietary blend of natural, holistic ingredients produce a healthy oral environment. Kills the germs that cause bad breath, plaque and gingivitis. Soothes minor gum irritations. For clean teeth and 'up close' fresh breath everyday!
Mint Foam: Regular use of Fresh Mint Foam keeps teeth and gums clean. Its natural formula helps freshen their breath. For best results, your pet should receive daily oral care to promote periodontal health and overall wellness.
Water Additive: Was developed to provide dogs and cats with essential daily oral hygiene care. It will promote healthy gums and eliminates bad breath for up to 12 hours.
Puppy Oral Care Kit: Periodontal disease is the number one disease among dogs, effecting nearly 80% by age three. Developing good oral care habits at an early age is key to promoting complete pet wellness throughout the entire life of our dog. Fresh Breath Oral Care Kit begins working immediately to address plaque and tartar. A proprietary blend of natural ingredients produce a healthy oral environment, and promote periodontal wellness while also soothing minor gum irritations.
For puppies 16 weeks & up.
Brush teeth once daily for 30 days. Depending on your puppy’s liking, use the TripleFlex brush or the Quick Finger brush. Squeeze a small amount of FreshBreath Brushing Gel onto the brush and allow your puppy to taste. Reapply and gently brush in a circular motion. Never use human toothpaste, as it can upset your puppy’s stomach.
Remember that during the month of February all TropiClean Dental Health products are 20% off at Misty Pines. Bring your dog to our groomers for 25% off teeth brushing ($6) and pick up your TropiClean Dental Health products today!
Clicker training originated in 1940 with Marian Breland Bailey and Keller Breland, who as graduate students of psychologist and eminent behaviorist B.F.Skinner while working in a lab taught wild-caught pigeons to “bowl” (push a ball with their beaks) during military research. After World War ll Marian and Keller bought a farm and founded Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE). Bob Bailey joined in the 1960’s, after leaving his position as director of Training for the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program. When Keller’s dogs would win blue ribbons at shows, the other competitors were much more interested in knowing who had bred the dog, rather than what training methods Keller had used. It would be several decades more before clicker training and positive reinforcement methods would begin to catch on in the dog training community. After Keller’s death in 1965, Bob and Marian ran ABE together, and are well known in the dog training world because of their world famous “chicken camps,” or, by their proper name, operant conditioning workshops. Thirty years later, in 1992, Karen Pryor, Gary Wilkes, Gary Priest, and Ingrid Kang Shahallenberger held the first Don’t Shoot the Dog! Clicker training seminar in the Bay Area. That’s when things really took off in the world of clicker training.
What Is Clicker Training for dogs?
"Clicker training" is a fun dog training method based on rewarding any desirable behavior instantly with the sound of a metal spring little box that when the thumb squeezes down on it makes a metallic click sound. This clicker sound is referred to as a conditioned (secondary) reinforcer. The clicker sound, once learned by pairing food with the click a number of times becomes a signal to the dog that the behavior was correct and a treat (primary reward) is soon coming. This was Ivan Pavlov’s major finding with his slobbering dogs. The dogs began to drool when they heard the food bowls clanging, even before the food was present. At first the sound has no meaning, but after a number of pairings with food, the dog will react to the click in nearly the same way he reacts to food.
Many of the following Tips for Getting Started with the Clicker are excerpts and suggestions from Karen Pryor
Clicker training is a terrific, science-based way to communicate with your pet. You can clicker train any kind of animal, of any age. Puppies love it. Old dogs learn new tricks. You can clicker-train cats, birds, and other pets as well. Here are some simple tips to get you started.
Push and release the springy end of the clicker, making a two-toned click. Then treat. Keep the treats small.
Click DURING the desired behavior, not after it is completed. The timing of the click is crucial. Don't be dismayed if your pet stops the behavior when it hears the click. The click ends the behavior. Give the treat after that; the timing of the treat is not important.
Click when your dog or other pet does something you like. Begin with something easy that the pet is likely to do on its own. (Ideas: sit; come toward you; touch your hand with its nose; lift a foot; touch and follow a target object such as a pencil or a spoon.)
Click once (in-out.) If you want to express special enthusiasm, increase the number of treats, not the number of clicks.
Keep practice sessions short. Much more is learned in three sessions of five minutes each than in an hour of boring repetition. You can get dramatic results, and teach your pet many new things, by fitting a few clicks a day here and there in your normal routine.
Fix bad behavior by clicking good behavior. Click the puppy for relieving itself in the proper spot. Click for paws on the ground, not on the visitors. Instead of scolding for making noise, click for silence. Cure leash-pulling by clicking and treating those moments when the leash happens to go slack.
Click for voluntary (or accidental) movements toward your goal. You may coax or lure the animal into a movement or position, but don't push, pull, or hold it. Let the animal discover how to do the behavior on its own. If you need a leash for safety's sake, loop it over your shoulder or tie it to your belt.
Don't wait for the "whole picture" or the perfect behavior. Click and treat for the small steps towards the goal behavior in the right direction. You want the dog to sit, and it starts to crouch in back: click. You want it to come when called, and it takes a few steps your way: click.
Keep raising your goal. As soon as you have a good response- for example, when touching their retrieving article, start asking for more. Wait until they touch it stronger and or pick it up. Then click. This is called "shaping" a behavior. The practice of shaping small steps to finally retrieving the article to you is also known as successive approximation.
When your animal has learned to do something for clicks, it will begin showing you the behavior spontaneously, trying to get you to click. Now is the time to begin offering a cue, such as a word or a hand signal. Start clicking for that behavior if it happens during or after the cue. Start ignoring that behavior when the cue wasn't given.
Don't order the animal around; clicker training is not command-based. If your pet does not respond to a cue, it is not disobeying; it just hasn't learned the cue completely. Find more ways to cue it and click it for the desired behavior. Try working in a quieter, less distracting place for a while. If you have more than one pet, separate them for training, and let them take turns.
Carry a clicker and "catch" cute behaviors like cocking the head, chasing the tail, or holding up one foot. You can click for many different behaviors, whenever you happen to notice them, without confusing your pet.
If you get mad, put the clicker away. Don't mix scolding, leash-jerking, and correction training with clicker training; you will lose the animal's confidence in the clicker and perhaps in you.
If you are not making progress with a particular behavior, you are probably clicking too late. Accurate timing is important. Get someone else to watch you, and perhaps to click for you, a few times.
Above all, have fun. Clicker training is a wonderful way to enrich your relationship with any learner.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why does clicker training work?
Clicker training uses a distinct and consistent signal to mark a desired behavior in real time and then follows that signal with a motivating reward. Because animals understand precisely which action earned the click and their reward, they learn new behaviors quickly, easily, and enthusiastically.
Why is clicker training better than just using my voice, positive attention, praise, food, or other training methods?
Lots of important reasons. The click pinpoints the behavior exactly so your dog will learn desirable behavior amazingly quickly—often from one, two, or three clicks. The clicker provides a consistent, non-emotional marker so your dog always receives the same information. Your dog has been hearing your voice for a long time and often tunes it out. Also your voice changes depending on your mood and doesn’t display the consistent quality that a clicker does. The clicker is also distinct from other signals in the environment.
The information the click provides is retained. Behavior is remembered from one training session to the next, so training sessions can be short and flexibly designed. Also, unlike word cues, clicker training does not convey emotionally loaded approval or disapproval to the animal—it is simply information the dog can use to earn a reward or try again.
And because clicker training doesn't rely on punishment, force, aversive methods, sprays, or choke collars to get results, it is the only method of training we know of that is safely and effectively used with puppies’ even weeks old. As a result:
Basic obedience, good manners and fun games can be easily self-taught even in busy family households, where time is short and schedules hectic.
Training can be woven into daily activities including walking to school, making dinner, or even watching TV
Everyone in the family—children and adults—can participate and share in the fun both with puppies and adult dogs
Breeders can raise puppies that are already "clicker wise" and home-ready.
What results should I expect and when?
We often talk about the "lightbulb moment." It is the moment when your dog and you connect through the sound of the clicker. Communication has been established and it is as exciting for the animal as it is for the trainer. Most dogs will have the lightbulb moment—you can see it in their eyes—in lesson one! Teaching fun but simple behaviors like shaking hands or coming when called can be accomplished in one or two sessions. More complex behaviors can be trained a piece at a time, building or shaping the action over a series of sessions. For example, teaching your dog to "Find the Remote Control to Your TV" may take a several sessions, yet each session will only be 5-15 minutes long!
Do I have to continue clicking and treating forever?
No. Clicker training is used to teach/learn new behaviors. Once the behavior is learned, the clicker isn't needed any more for that behavior—although praise and treats will always be appreciated. Whenever you want to train a new behavior, or fine-tune an old one, use the clicker.
Is a lot of experience required to clicker train successfully?
Absolutely not. (Sometimes it even gets in the way.) Clicker training is easy to learn with the right instruction. A part of clicker training that may take some practice is timing the clicks to capture the exact behavior you are seeking. Clicker training is so forgiving and so much fun for everyone that you don't have to worry about mistakes. They won't interfere with training in the long run.
Will clicker training work with my dog?
Yes. Clicker training works with all breeds, all ages, all types of dogs, purebred and rescue, champions and house companions. With deaf dogs, substitute a light flash for the clicker.
My dog isn't food motivated, what do I do?
Food is the most popular reward, but anything your dog loves can be used as a reward. Throwing a tennis ball or a quick game of tug are both highly motivating rewards.
If you would like to use food treats, be sure that your tidbits are especially yummy (bits of hotdogs, for example) and that your dog's meals do not immediately precede a training session.
Won't my dog get fat if I feed him every time I train him?
No. Tiny amounts pieces of food are used a treats. Small is important because you want your dog to be able to eat it and be "ready to play clicker" some more. Clicker training is also good exercise and highly stimulating. Dogs work when they clicker train! You may also wish to substitute a clicker session for one of your dog's regular mealtimes.
Can a dog that has been trained “traditionally" be "crossed over" to clicker training?
Absolutely. Crossover trainers are often amazed at the change that comes over their dogs when they switch to clicker training. Previously hesitant and shy dogs become enthusiastic and creative learners. To try clicker training with a dog previously trained with traditional methods, don't begin with a behavior the dog already knows—try something completely new and fun.
Join us Saturdays February 18th and 25th for Clicker Class 101 and 102, respectively, to begin clicker training with your dog. Call our office at 412.364.4122 or register online.
Therapy Dog Visits
Locations To Visit
Once your dog has passed their Therapy Dog International certification, it's time for the fun to begin. Read below for a list of places that are always looking for registered therapy dogs to brighten the day of the patients and residents:
Contact: Barbara Hammil - 412-371-3726.
Washinton-Greene Alternative Residential Services
Contact: Valerie Loughman - 724-228-7716.
Contact: Jessica Kubas - 412-431-7079.
Contact: Erica Kinkade - 724-334-6600.
Contact: Bethanne Petrylak - 570-579-8700.
Contact: Tina - 412-477-0901.
Cranberry Township Library
Dog reading program. Looking for 3-4 dogs, the third Thursday of each month from 6:30 – 7:30 pm
Contact: Annemarie Lamperski.
Baden Memorial Library
Dog reading program. Need volunteer for 2 Thursdays per month from 5:00pm - 6:30pm
and 1 Saturday per month for 1 1/2 hours.
Contact: Kathleen Wagner
Contact: Sr. Linda Larkman OSB, Volunteer Coordinator - 412-737-0969
West Haven Manor
Contact: Karen Zimmerman, Coordinator of Volunteer Services - 724-727-3451
North Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center
Contact: Teri A. Slimick - 724-935-3781
Contact: Susan Matlock - 724-843-3400
Excela Health Home Care and Hospice (Westmoreland County)
Contact: Joan Roth, Volunteer Coordinator - 724-689-1653
Family Hospice Palliative Care
Contact: Pam Tomczak - 412-572-8803
Western Pa. Humane Society coordinates visits to multiple locations in the community with volunteers who have Certified Therapy Dogs.
Contact: Joy Kealey.
Odyssey Health Care
Cliff Mine Rd., Pittsburgh
Contact: Barbara Coulter - 1-800-861-8584
Condordia of Franklin Park
Contact: Carol Kosela - 724-935-1075 ext. 103
VA Hospitals in Pittsburgh
Activities Director - 412-688-6000 ext. 3682
Country Meadows (South Hills)
Activities Director - 412-257-4566
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
Volunteer Coordinator - 412-690-6508
Animal Friends coordinates a Pet Assisted Therapy program that visits multiple locations.
To join their therapy group or request visits contact Ann Cadman - 412-847-7031.
Allegheny General Hospital
Jennifer Kopar - 412-359-3067
Tail Waggin Tutors at Baden Library
Laura Bain - 724-869-3960
Barb Kralik, Volunteer Coordinator - 412-919-5617
Caring Hospice Services
Brittany Bailey, Volunteer Coordinator - 412-563-3300
Concordia of Wexford
Michelle Moon - 724-935-1266
Passavant Memorial Homes and Subsidiaries
Colleen Perry, Social Services Coordinator - 412-820-1015 ext. 521
Services & Teams
If you would like to have Therapy Dogs visit your facility, please contact one of the following Therapy Dog Teams or contact Misty Pines to have your facility listed in the above section so that our teams may contact you. Click the link below for teams that are interested in visiting those in need of therapeutic visits from their furry friends:
Pets With Heart, Pet Therapy
Sister Sharon Costello: 724-869-6545
Western Pa. Humane Society coordinates visits to multiple locations in the community with volunteers who have Certified Therapy Dogs.
Contact: Joy Kealey.
Animal Friends coordinates a Pet Assisted Therapy program that visits multiple locations.
To join their therapy group or request visits contact Ann Cadman - (412) 847-7031.