"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume II - Issue 32:  September 24, 2004
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  Training vs. Behavior Modification
=>  Winterize Your Dog
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  Idiots Among Us

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Christopher's Drool

Hi Gang!

Last week I was thinking I was going to have to talk about Christmas puppies but thought, “I've got a month or so before that has to happen.” Then, last weekend, I walked into a department store and they are putting out the Christmas stuff.

Every year, thousands of puppies are given away as Christmas presents. I guess if all the involved parties have done their research, understand the inherent responsibilities and the cost of owning a dog this is fine. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is not the case. This is why many shelters see a marked increase in owner-surrendered dogs in the first few months of the year.

If you are going to give a dog as a gift, for any reason, make sure the receiving party is in on the decision and selection process and understands the financial commitment that comes with dog ownership. It is estimated in one report a large breed dog in good health costs an average $660.00 to maintain annually. Medium sized dogs will run you around $450.00 and a small dog around $300.00 annually.

Also, please remember to look at your local shelter or rescue when looking for a new dog. There are many great pure and mix breed dogs that would love to have a forever home. You won't be disappointed.

With the holidays upon us, many will be traveling to visit with family and want to take our dogs. Well, we all know what a pain it can be to try to find a pet friendly motel. A web site I found recently can be a big help: 1clickpethotels.com They have a list of pet friendly motels all over the U.S and Canada.

Recently, I have seen a rise in animal hoarding cases in the news. Animal hoarding is when someone simply has more animals than they can take care of. Usually, these people started out taking in strays and rescuing animals out of shelters. What happens is most are never able to give up or offer these animals up for adoption.

Unfortunately, in most cases, the financial burden, not to mention required time for upkeep is more than the individual anticipated. Animals in these situations often become sickly and diseased. The homes are often found to be dirty and littered with feces.

Now, I know many of these people think they are helping but when the welfare of the animals comes into equation we need to look past good intentions and let local authorities know the situation exists. Let's give these dogs a shot at a suitable forever home.

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,

I have a question I was hoping you could answer for me. What is the difference between training and behavior modification? I have heard it described a couple of different ways. How do I know whether to go to a trainer or whether I need the help of a behaviorist?

I have a ten-month old Golden Retriever I have had since it was eight weeks old. She knows the sit, stay, down and come commands, but it depends on where we are, as to whether she will listen. She has also begun to steal things from inside the house and take them outside. Which do you think I need?

Training vs. Behavior Modification

I think before I answer the question we need to clear up the difference between training and behavior modification. There seems to be a lot of confusion out there as to exactly what they are and how and when they are to be applied. Let me give you my own deranged definition of both. Don't go lookin' for this in Webster's either


Training is the introduction to your dog of a required response to a human command.

This is where your sit, down, stay, heal and come commands fall. We all know these are the mandatory commands every dog should know and do fairly proficiently. It's simply a matter of safety for you and you dog when out and about.

We all remember teaching our dogs those things and maybe a trick or two. You may have even taught your dog to compete in agility competitions. When we teach our dogs tricks or to compete in agility, it is done in such a way it is an enjoyable game for the dog.

Now what we have to keep in mind is, just because a dog can go onto an agility field and take a blue ribbon, doesn't mean that dog isn't a holy terror at home. Believe me, a well-trained dog knows the difference between when they are in the ring and when they are at home. This is not true of all competitive dogs, but is of many.

Behavior Modification

Behavior Modification (BM) is the process of evaluating all a dog's environmental factors and determining a course of action to stop any undesirable behavior currently being exhibited by a dog.

The nuts and bolts difference is when we teach a dog a new trick, the dog knows by complying, they will get a pay-off (treat/praise). With BM, you are usually looking to take away what the dog looks at as their pay-off.

For instance, you notice over the last few months your 3-year-old dog has been stealing your underwear out of the hamper and taking them to its bed. You yell at the dog, take the T.V. Guide to them, nothing works? Well, you need to take a look back to when the behavior began.

Did you move? Did someone move in or out of the residence? Diet changes? Lifestyle, or sudden schedule changes?

I have over 40 questions for new clients to answer before we even consult for the first time. These are important to have as it can sometimes be the smallest of things that are affecting our dogs' behavior. It could be a change in the dog's normal routine that simply needs to be corrected. They may be feeling under exercised or over stressed.

Which Do I Choose?

In the writer's case, I think she would do fine with a trainer providing the trainer is willing to work with her in the locations where the dog is misbehaving. It sounds as though her (the dog's) commands have not been consistently enforced. Good, consistently reinforced obedience should also put an end to the stealing.

For everyone else, it is really a matter of preference. With a trainer, you may not get as much one-on-one with the trainer. Additionally, you aren't likely to get an individualized training program specific to your dog and lifestyle. With a behaviorist, you should get all those things.

If you have a new dog or puppy and are just looking to teach the sit, down, stay and come commands, a class may be perfect for you. If your dog seems to have suddenly become unruly for one reason or another, then a behaviorist is probably a better pick. You really have to take a look at the big picture.

Sometimes you just have to call a couple of trainers and behaviorists and see who you think has the best understanding of your situation. No decent trainer or behaviorist should have any problem spending ten minutes or so on the phone discussing your situation.

Either way, watch out for trainers or behaviorists who use pinch or shock collars, shakers (cans with coins or rocks in them) or throw bags. These methods are based on fear and pain and have nothing to do with training and BM.

Hiring a behaviorist/trainer is a lot like hiring a babysitter. You are placing a “family” member in that person's hand. As always, do your research no matter which way you go. Ask for references and check them out. Make sure you are comfortable with whoever you hire before setting an appointment. Whenever possible, try not to let cost be an issue. If it's going to cost you an extra twenty bucks to go with the individual you are most comfortable with, spend the money.

This article may be republished using the following attribution box:
Copyright ©2004 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: subscribe@Master-Dog-Training.com
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Quote of the Week

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring -- it was peace.

~ Milan Kundera ~

Winterize Your Dog

Again, I know this may seem premature but I think it is something we all need to start thinking about so we are prepared when the cold weather hits. Our dogs needs change with the changing weather, and we need to keep that in mind.


I have often mentioned how nutrition affects the behavior and health of our dogs. What we have to keep in mind, often, our nutritional needs change throughout the course of the year. This depends on several factors to include… lifestyle, environment, age, health, and breed.

Some dogs are more active in the winter and some in the summer, so I'm not going to go into all the different groups. Just use common sense. If you know your dog is going to be getting less exercise in the winter, keep an eye on his waist-line.


This is most important in the colder climates but is something everyone should consider. I mean, who wants to be the guy who showed up at a gunfight with a knife!

Boots Booties for your dog's feet are just as important in blizzard country as they are in the desert. Whether it's hot or cold, we have to protect our dogs' feet. Boots can be bought through most major pet stores and online. They are cheap and worth the investment.


If you live where you get snow, be sure to invest in a jacket for your thin-coated dogs. Chicago in January may not be cold to a Samoyed, but you can bet your behind a Chihuahua is going to be freezing his butt off!


Make sure to keep the metal clasps on your collars and leashes lubricated during cold weather. A quick shot of oil can prevent your dog from getting off leash in the cold weather and keep them safe with you.


Keep your dog on his leash in snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Snow can obscure familiar scents, and canines can become lost.

Take care to wipe off your pooch's paws, legs and tummy when they come in out of the elements. She can accidentally ingest salt, antifreeze or other chemicals while licking her paws.

Keep your cats inside. Outdoors, felines can easily freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed.

Do not leave your dog or cat alone in a vehicle during the winter months. A car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold, and cause an animal to freeze to death.

If there are outdoor felines in your area, please make it a point to bang loudly on the hood of your car before getting in. Cats often sleep under the hoods of vehicles in search of warmth, and can be injured or killed by the fan belt when the engine is started.

While essential to a car's cooling system, antifreeze can be fatal to dogs and cats--even in very small amounts. Clean up any spills from your vehicle immediately and consider switching to a propylene glycol-based antifreeze, which is significantly less toxic than conventional ethylene glycol antifreeze.


Keep in mind the breed you have, as well. A Springer Spaniel will tolerate high heat a lot longer than a Samoyed will. On the flip side, A Samoyed will deal with the cold far better. A little common sense and forethought will make the winter more comfortable for our furkids.


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Joke of the Week

Lipstick in School

According to a news report, a certain private school in Washington recently was faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom.

That was fine but, after they put on their lipstick, they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints. Every night the maintenance man would remove them and the next day the girls would put them back.

Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night.

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

There are teachers, and then there are educators. Which are you?

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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 © 2004 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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