"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume IV - Issue 2:  February 10, 2006
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Cristopher's Drool - Pet Food Recall
=>  Equipment Utilization
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Mail Bag
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  The Best (Actual) Headlines for 2005

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Christopher's Drool

Hey Everybody,

Well, I hope everything has been going pretty well for everyone recently. I am still plagued with computer problems that have slowed things down but I am hoping we are at the end of it for a while.

Pet Food Recall

Diamond Pet Foods has recalled 19 brands of dog and cat food for being contaminated with aflatoxin, a naturally occurring toxic chemical by-product from the growth of the fungus Aspergillus flavus, on corn and other crops.

The brands recalled are: Diamond Premium Adult Dog Food; Diamond Hi-Energy Dog Food (Sporting Dog); Diamond Maintenance Dog Food Diamond Professional for Adult Dogs; Diamond Performance Dog Food; Diamond Puppy Food; Diamond Low Fat Dog Food; Diamond Maintenance Cat Food; Diamond Professional Cat Food; Country Value Puppy; Country Value Adult Dog Food; Country Value High Energy Dog Food; Country Value Adult Cat Food; Professional Chicken & Rice Adult Dog Food; Professional Puppy Food; Professional Large-Breed Puppy Food; Professional Reduced Fat Cat Food; Professional Adult Cat Food.

States affected by the recall: Alabama; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Kentucky; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Mississippi; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Tennessee; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia.

Buster's owner, 81 year old Lydia Kingvalsky, had her home destroyed but is fortunate that it is able to be rebuilt. Myself and others are asking for your help. Ms. Kingvalsky and Buster have incurred numerous expenses to include legal fees to keep the dog from being euthanized by the shelter and also the cost of rebuilding.

I know we have all been hit over the last year for requests for donations and this one isn't even tax deductible. I can assure you though the money will go directly to this family and animal and no where else. If I can waive my fee for a week and go work with this animal, I am sure many of you can cut loose with twenty bucks to help this lovely lady and her dog.

Please send donations to:

Bank of Colorado
P.O. Box 520
Glenwood Springs, CO. 81612

Please make checks payable to Sue Schmidt and place the words “Buster Fund” in the memo section.

We are coming up on the 100th issue of Bark-n-Scratch in a few weeks and I am going to be having a little contest for all of you. The prize is worth over $300.00 so stay tuned for all the details. I'm going to try to make it fun for all!

Keep those letters and suggestions coming. They are greatly appreciated.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm outta here!



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Hi Chris,

Lee from GoodtoBeYou.com here. Hope all is great and you are having a successful 2006 so far.

What are your personal thoughts on Cesar Millan's training methods of the National Geographic show, "The Dog Whisperer?” He uses a choke collar to correct improper behavior; would you recommend training with a choke collar for smaller breeds (15 -17 lbs) or so?


Equipment Utilization

I have only seen Mr. Millan's methods a few times. One time, I would have done the exact same thing he did. Another time I thought what he did was kind of reckless. In fairness, I don't know enough to really comment on him.

However, your question does bring back up the importance of buying the appropriate training gear and knowing how to use it properly. Now, if you've been in a big pet store recently, you know how daunting it can be at times. They have a device to fix just about any behavior immediately! All kinds of halters, harnesses, and collars.

I'm not going to go through and list the ones I don't like or why. I will say that I just feel they aren't needed and many can be dangerous to your animal. Personally, I like to keep things as simple as possible. I have two equipment requirements for beginning training: one leash and one collar. That's it.

For hundreds of years, people have been able to train their dogs using nothing other than a leash and collar/check chain. (proper name for choke chain.) With companion animals and even agility dogs, I have never needed anything else to finish training or modify an unwanted behavior. With that in mind, and since we have to have them anyway, what's the use in buying “special” equipment.

Now, I said it was simple and it is. However, we need to give a little thought to what type of collar and leash are right for your dog. We'll start the leashes since they are pretty basic.


I prefer six foot leashes because they allow you to maintain better leash control and seem to work best for the way the average person likes to walk their dog. They will help prevent pulling in many cases and definitely make the problem easier to correct. Make sure it has a strong clasp that be opened by being simply bumped. I have no preference between leather or nylon with leashes as they both have their pluses and minuses.


There are three basic collars I will work with. They are:

The Standard

The standard collar can be made of nylon or leather and fastens around the dog's neck like a belt buckle.

The Adjustable

The adjustable collars are generally made of nylon and fasten around the dog's neck with an end to end clip. They can then be adjusted by way of a slider ring.

Most dogs will do fine on either the standard or adjustable but my preference is the adjustable as it allows you to get a perfect fit which is very important. Either way you go, you need to be able to slip your index and middle finger easily between the dog's neck and the collar.

It is also a good idea to get the narrowest collar possible, particularly if the dog will be wearing it most of the time. I know they look cool in those three inch wide spike collars but you will save the dogs fur by going small. It is also more comfortable for the dog to simply move their head around.

The Check Chain

The check chain is a length of small chain with an O-ring on either end of the links. The links then slide through the O-ring to form a “P” loop that is then placed on the dog. A check chain should be anywhere from 2- 6 inches longer than the circumference of the base of the dogs neck. You want it to be about a third larger than the dog's neck size.

Which to Choose

So which one do we need? This depends on a couple of things. First, there are the behaviors you are trying to modify and second is the dog's personality. If you have a relatively calm dog that responds to verbal commands/corrections, then a standard or adjustable will most likely meet all your training needs. If your dog is distracted easily, hyper, showing aggression or unresponsive to commands, then a check chain would probably be better for you. There are also some physical characteristics of the dog to consider.

Some breeds have what are called “bullet heads.” Their heads are so sleek that they are able to slip out of certain types of collars relatively easy. I strongly suggest having owners of dogs like this take the dog with them into the store to see which type is going to work best for your particular dog.

With a dog smaller than twenty-five pounds, I see no need to use anything other than a standard or adjustable collar. If you fit a check chain on a small dog, there isn't enough excess for the chain to work properly. Its job is to make a noise that tells the dog they are about to screw up and/or need to pay attention. A check chain shouldn't be used to jerk a correction into or cut the air off of a dog. To me, that's abuse.

Buy Quality

When I say quality, I don't mean expensive. There are plenty of well made leashes and collars out there that won't break the bank. With nylon equipment, make sure the ends aren't frayed and that all connections to hardware are double box stitched. Leather equipment should be sewn as well as riveted leather can give out over time.

When looking at check chains, make sure the links are welded shut and not pressed together. You also want to make sure there are no metal burrs exposed that could scratch the dog. Stainless is the easiest to maintain, but stay away from plated or chrome.

You really don't need to spend a lot of money on gear. You will do better to get the basic equipment appropriate for your dog, and set up a consistent training program and schedule.

This article may be republished using the following attribution statement:

Copyright ©2006 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator: The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies. Subscribe to the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter by visiting NOW!  http://www.Master-Dog-Training.com

Quote of the Week

Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends.

~ Alexander Pope ~

Mail Bag


Going back over and re-reading about Buster and your issue on dog bites, I would like to comment. I have heard similar situations about dogs being put down at the Lamar Dixon site because of perceived bad temperament in a dog. This, as you point out, I find horrendous because NO ONE is considering what the dog has gone through. I mean, lets face it, the humans were not exactly the models of good behavior during this.

Re: dog bites. I have been studying the issues for a while, doing analysis on bite reports from several counties. The latest being SF, a copy of the report is available on the website: http://www.doggonecalifornia.org/dogbites.html With the passage of SB 861, people need to understand that the bite reports are incomplete at best and inaccurate at worse. And SF was one of the better ones ... It is disturbing that ordinances and laws are passed based on this information, and will NOT solve the problems. You pointed this out in your earlier article.

I hope people will start asking hard questions to council members in counties/cities that try to pass laws based on the dog bites. Has anyone done the analysis? Or is this based solely on emotion and perception? (Probably the latter!!).


TE Houston, PhD

Hey Chris!

I've been meaning to drop an email to you about Buster since I first read his story, but wow, how time gets away from me ...

The first thing that struck me about Buster's story were the 2 sentences below --

"According to Rockey, the dogs received a very low dose of acepromazine, a very common drug used for these types of situations. She says she showed up without a plan and admits this was her first mistake."

In fact, her first mistake was not showing up without a plan, it was (and is) giving Ace to a dog PRIOR to evaluation. Acepromazine is a powerful sedative that can alter a dog's perceptions, and CAUSE aggression. Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, who rely totally upon their senses for survival, so, in short, a low dose of Ace is likely to do nothing more than destroy a rescue dog's confidence in himself, and those around him.

Small wonder that she isn't bitten routinely by these poor creatures, since one of the chief drawbacks of Ace has always been acknowledged to be that a truly terrified animal will over-ride its sedative effects.

Acepromazine is a prescription drug, and it shouldn't be given to an animal unless a veterinarian has prescribed it for that animal. Like all drugs, it has side effects. One of those is that it causes a lowering of blood pressure, and in the breed I work with, the Boxer, it can be fatal, and should never be given. Another common side-effect is that it lowers seizure "thresholds" in epileptic dogs.

Thankfully, Buster survived her "humane" work! As soon as I recover from vet bills this week, I'll send a check to the fund for Buster and his owner. Thanks for all you do to enlighten us about our canine friends and companions!

Wanda B.
Boxer Rescue

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Joke of the Week


"Crack Found on Governor's Daughter"
Imagine that!

"Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says"
No, really?

"Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers"
Now that's taking things a bit far!

"Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?"
Not if I wipe thoroughly!

"Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over"
What a guy!

"Miners Refuse to Work after Death"
No-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-sos

"Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant"
See if that works any better than a fair trial!

"War Dims Hope for Peace"
I can see where it might have that effect!

"If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile"
Ya think?!

"Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures"
Who would have thought!

"Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide"
They may be on to something!

"Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges"
You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?

"Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge"
He probably IS the battery charge

"New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group"
Weren't they fat enough?!

"Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft"
That's what he gets for eating those beans!

"Kids Make Nutritious Snacks"
Taste like chicken?

"Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half"
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

"Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors"
Boy, are they tall!

And the winner is....

"Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead"

* Have a joke you'd like to submit to us? Joke@Master-Dog-Training.com

Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2006 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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