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Dogs to the Rescue

Benefits of raw dog food.
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Is your dog your best friend? Let’s see; they are happy to see us when we get home; they don’t talk back (not too much, anyway), and they love us unconditionally. It doesn’t matter who we are, what we do, or how we look. Plus they keep us warm at night. What more could you want in a best friend?

Now that we’ve determined that your everyday house dog could easily be our best friend, think about those animals that stay by their owners side every minute, helping them to see, helping them to hear, or understanding that a seizure is coming on; to name just a few. These dogs protect and take care of us as much as we take care of them. They are service dogs; or, helper dogs. And of course, there are police dogs that spend their days protecting their owner. These are remarkable animals.

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Additionally, there are dogs that are simply your companion or the family pet. That is until they are needed to go to work. These are your search and rescue dogs. They are trained to search for missing people as well as recover those lost in a drowning or other disaster. Earthquakes, an avalanche or rock slide, homes and buildings collapsing from the force of a hurricane or tornado, are just a few disasters these dogs are trained for.

Search and rescue dogs work as a team with their volunteer handlers. The handler raises the dog and is responsible for all aspects of his training. Specific traits are required to be a search and rescue (SAR) dog. Any medium to large breed can do the job, but it’s the dog’s personality that is most important. The dogs are evaluated for their temperament; they must be friendly; they must be eager to please; and they must be obedient and attentive. They also must enjoy tracking and be able to concentrate on following a scent. To the dog it’s a game, and as long as they are praised or rewarded, they are happy to keep searching.

Training for search and rescue (SAR) dogs is extensive, taking about 600 hours before they are field ready. Handlers’ training takes 1000 hours. Training of the dogs varies depending on how they respond, and progresses at different rates. Their reaction to the training and the reward varies too. The dogs are trained for specific types of searches.

With their keen sense of smell, 40 times that of humans, dogs are able to find victims both on the ground and in the water. Air-scenting dogs are used to find missing people, as they are able to pick up human scent that is drifting in the air. They work off a lead with their heads up and are valuable for searches in collapsed buildings and finding victims of drowning. They look for people that aren’t tracked from one point to another. Tracking dogs follow the scent trail left by a human being that has passed along a certain route; they don’t rely on air scent. The trailing dog is trained to find a specific person. They are given something that belongs to the missing person, such as a piece of clothing. They work on-lead and follow the scent trail wherever it leads, even if it is mixed with other scents.

The Bloodhound is particularly good as a trailing dog because their long ears and loose facial skin trap scents right by their noses. Bloodhounds can sometimes follow trails that are a week old, whereas other dogs must be at the scene within hours. Disaster dogs are trained largely for searches of missing people due to tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes or anything else that causes a structure to collapse. They are taught to work on unsteady surfaces and to navigate in small places.

A cadaver dog is trained specifically for finding the scent of dead humans. Water search dogs are able to capture scent on or underneath the water. They will frequently work with their handler on a boat. There are dogs specifically trained to search for victims of an avalanche. When the dog locates the victim, they alert both the victim and their handler before proceeding to help dig out the victim. Dogs can pick up a scent up to 15 feet beneath the snow.

When a dog searches for a missing person, he is given an article of clothing, or another item with the person’s scent. If a family member joins in the search, the dog may be unable to discern the difference between the missing person and the family member. This is because family members have similar scents. It is best to let the dog search the area before anyone else goes near it.

Search and rescue dogs are trained to find live humans and if no survivors are found, the dogs may actually become discouraged. This may be due to the fact that the dog is so attuned to their handler’s mood. Also, when they find someone alive, their reward comes in the form of the feedback they receive. After all, the reason the dog does his job is to get the reward; and finding a survivor is the ultimate reward.


Canine Depression: Causes and What You Can Do

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Canine depression can affect any dog be they an inside or outside animal, big or small, young or old. I'm going to cover the reasons why our furry pals get depressed, the symptoms for each reason, and a variety of treatments, most of which you can do from your own home. For the most part this article is based on observation, logical thinking, and a lifetime of twenty-three years of raising dogs. I do not have a veterinary degree; if your dog is suffering from severe depression you should contact a veterinarian immediately.

Canines can become depressed for many reasons but the most common is fairly simple, being separated for their owner. Any dog owner has seen it, you grab your keys and coat and the last thing you see as you turn around to close the door before heading to work is the biggest saddest pair of eyes you have ever seen. This form of depression can't really be helped and can affect each dog very differently. For most it's temporary, usually lasting just a few minutes after you have left and the dog will go about their own business until you get back home. A smaller number will actually punish their owner for leaving them for an extended amount of time; an example of this would be digging all the garbage out of the bathroom trash can and ripping all the paper into little bits. In that case the longer you leave them alone the more severe the mess will become. The easiest way to help your pet cope with this form of depression is to spend as much time with them as possible. If your dog is the type to make vindictive messes you can break them of the habit by taking a long weekend and leave them alone. Starting with just a couple hours and returning, if they haven't made a mess give them a treat and some affection. Next leave them alone for longer usually about an hour more until they can stay home all day eagerly waiting for you come home and reward them for their good behavior. If they do happen to make a mess, show it to them and firmly give the "NO" command and do not give them a treat. Stay home for a few hours and try again until they get it right. On a side note, never hit your animal, dogs have a short term memory and can not understand why they are being punished if it has been a while, beating your pet will only lead to more aggressive behavior and a distrust of its owner.

The environment can also cause depression, for example I have the misfortune of living in a house where the back yard is about the size of the master bedroom. Now that will be fine for smaller breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers and Pugs, but I have a White German Shepherd that is nearly a year old. This is far too small for such a high energy dog. Being confined to a space that is too small will often manifest itself as excess digging, chewing, and barking. This sense of restlessness can become quite costly, so far my dog has chewed all the heads off the micro sprinkler system as well as dug up the tubing, ripped the satellite cable off the outside of the house, wore a path around the small patch of grass in the middle of my yard, chewed an expensive Japanese maple tree to the ground, and dug giant holes in the soft garden soil. They will do just about anything to get rid of their pent up energy. There is only one way to stop this sort of behavior; they have to get the energy out. I recommend taking your dog on a thirty minute walk at least twice a day and jog or run if you can, it will be good exercise for you as well as your faithful pet. Do not forget to keep yourself and your pet hydrated, if there are no streams or rivers where you are walking, be sure to carry an extra bottle of water unless you don't mind sharing.

Your pet can also get depressed by their diet. I know to us it seems depressing enough to eat the same brown colored bits every day, but their depression can actually be caused by lack of nutrients in their diet. Dog food is a lot like technology, typically you get what you pay for and if you buy on the cheaper side there is a higher likelihood of your dog suffering from chronic diarrhea as well as depression, I'm not saying the most expensive is the best. The best way to find out what food is right for your dog is to research, ask your veterinarian and check into consumer reports, my family has trusted Iams dog food for as long as I can remember. Also make sure your dog is eating the correct sub category of food from the company of your choice, it is usually broken down by breed size and age.

Another form of depression can grow as your dog ages. Just like elderly humans as they get older their body as well as their body chemistry can change. They start to develop arthritis or lose enzymes in their digestive system, pretty much anything that can happen to an elderly person can happen to a dog. But how can you tell if they are just slowing down or if they're depressed? The signs of depression for older dogs usually include loss of appetite, long periods of immobility even if you leave the room or call them, and whining. To treat depression in this case you have to take a more preventative stance, make sure they eating dog food designed for older dogs and they should be given a daily vitamin. It is still recommended that in this scenario a veterinarian see the dog in case the treatment may need to be narrowed to help with specific issues your canine might be having.

Dogs truly are amazing animals that love to make us happy; it never hurts to do your best to return the favor. Hopefully after reading this article you and your canine friends can live longer happier lives. Just remember that by licking your face and wagging their tail they are trying to say how much they love you.

The happiness that dogs exude is what makes most people take to them. Depression, however, has the capability to turn that happiness to something else. But, what exactly causes dog depression? There is a need to know the symptoms and causes of depression in dogs to be able to do anything to help the condition of depressed dogs.

Underlying medical health conditions are part of the causes of depression in dogs. These health conditions may reveal themselves in forms of symptoms associated with depression; symptoms like decreased appetite, lethargy, increase in sleep frequency, weight loss and loss of interest in the usual activities a dog is expected to have interest in. These symptoms of depression in dogs, when noticed, should be reported to a veterinary surgeon in order to get them diagnosed and treated to remove possibility of depression in the dog.

One other cause of depression in dogs is the environmental condition. The possibility of environmental causes of depression in dogs needs a look into; if the results of tests carried out negate medical condition as being the cause of depression. Dogs are sensitive to changes occurring around them, and these changes could cause them to suffer depression when they perceive the new environmental condition as not being favorable. Lack of attention and weather changes are two of those environmental/emotional factors that could cause depression in dogs. When a change in environment has been pinpointed as the cause of depression, adaptation to the new situation of things would make the dog feel much better. Also, try to show your dog that you still care by taking it out walking and playing at the same time everyday; this would help the dog adapt better to the new changes.

Chemical imbalances are yet other causes of depression in dogs. This type of depression is called clinical depression, and it is a rare occurrence. However, if your dog happens to suffer from this condition, the best and only thing that would be wise for you to do is to consult a veterinarian. A veterinarian would be in the best position to advice you on what could be done on the basis of age, symptoms and medical condition of your dog.

Depression needs to be treated immediately it is noticed as untreated depression in dogs could lead to very serious health complications as a result of protracted lack of appetite, with its accompanying energy reduction problem, and stress.