Dog Parks


An excerpt from Turning Fierce Dogs Friendly by Kellie Snider

I’m going to take a detour into an area frequently associated with dog aggression just to get this out on the table. Earlier in the book, I told you about a pet owner whose dog began to behave aggressively toward other dogs soon after being attacked by two dogs in a dog park, and that the dog had become pushy and growly with other dogs on subsequently visits to the dog park. My response to this owner was, “Don’t ever take your dog to the dog park.” I wasn’t saying that no dog should ever go to any dog park. I was saying that this dog should never go to any dog park. He had such a bad experience there that each visit was painful for him and further convinced him that other dogs were dangerous. There was no way to perform aggression work inside the dog park, where the behavior of the other dogs was hit or miss. It wasn’t safe, and it was likely to make the dog’s behavior worse. Dog parks can be great fun, but they can also be dangerous and a place of high stress for dogs. You’ll often see dogs in dog parks who are overly excited and too poorly behaved to be there. The fact is, many dogs don’t really need to have dog friends. Some dogs really benefit from dog friends, but those dogs are usually not the ones that have aggression problems around other dogs.

Dogs need their owners to protect them from situations that are too overwhelming for them. The social life your dog has with you is the social life that is important to him. Taking him to dog parks isn’t always in his best interest. My advice is to only enter dog parks when there are just a few dogs (no more than three or four) and the owners are actively watching their dogs. If any of the dogs in the dog park is wearing shock collar or is being a bully, leash your dog and leave. If your dog is a bully, definitely leash your dog and leave! This happens. Once my own dog guarded a man he’d just met from the man’s own sixth-month-old Golden Retriever puppy! It was terribly embarrassing, and I gave a quick apology and left. That wasn’t behavior my dog needed to practice. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, although it may be momentarily embarrassing. Just apologize if needed, and leave.

To learn more about aggressive dog behavior, purchase Turning Fierce Dogs Friendly from Whole Dog Journal.

Consenting Cats Are Happier Cats

Cats must agree with how you choose to treat them.

By Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., and Steve Dale. for Phycology Today


  • Allowing cats to have their say supports their need for safety, security, and trust and enhances the bonds you form with each other.
  • It’s easier to get your cat to a veterinarian or get them to enjoy something else like being petted or playing when your cat agrees with you.
  • Consent underlies the development and maintenance of friendly relationships within and between species, and across a wide variety of activities.

The latest buzzword in the dog training world is referred to as consent training or cooperative care. Cats may benefit from this practice even more than dogs.1

Natalie Bond/Pexels

Source: Natalie Bond/Pexels

These are less productive approaches: “Just get it done.” “I’m the boss and you will do what I say when I say it.” However, the concept of consent training allows a companion animal to partake in decisions and make choices. This practice recognizes that these animals have agency, or are able to make choices about what they want to do. The dog or cat and their caretaker are partners—they both have to consent about something that is going to be done. For example, teach a cat that if you ask them to lift a paw before clipping their nails, in return they will receive a big payoff.

Getting your cat to the veterinarian

While dogs and humans benefit by feeling a sense of control, arguably this is true 10-fold in cats who are control freaks, to begin with. Think about it; being in control is synonymous with a sense of safety, which cats must have to feel secure. One reason cats like high vantage points is because they feel safe and in control of their world. And that’s one reason why cats are especially panicked at veterinary visits. They are suddenly kidnapped, forcibly removed from their safety zone, and whisked off to a place where they can sense the terror of others because of the pheromones that remain. They also are forcibly poked and prodded without their consent.

Imagine if you could merely ask a cat to simply hop into a carrier. There would be no chasing them all over the house to attempt to stuff a screaming cat into the carrier where a ladder to terror is then ascended with a car ride. By the time the exam begins, the cat may be struggling for dear life, actually thinking, “I am going to die.”

Rather than taking an unhappy, freaked-out cat to the veterinarian, carrier training can be conducted in a method consistent with consent. Here are some practical tips.

  • Leave the carrier out 24/7. If the cat was previously afraid of a carrier because of the negative association made with the veterinary visit, purchase a new carrier that looks different.
  • Randomly drop treats into the carrier so it becomes an automatic treat dispenser.
  • Once comfortable inside the carrier, begin to feed the cat in the carrier. Most cats may now hop inside, expecting a treat for doing so. Cats do train people—and now you comply.
  • Now, ask your cat to hop into the carrier on cue—and always offer high-value award for doing so.
  • Ask your cat to leap into the carrier, close it, and walk to another part of the house. Once there, open the carrier and feed. Good things happen after being inside the carrier.
  • Finally, teach the cat that car rides aren’t bad—before going to the vet, just drive around the block, and when returning home give them a meal. And when you do go to the veterinarian, go for a happy visit—no exam, only treats.

Of course, you can use force to get the job done, but we know there are deleterious psychological impacts, not to mention an erosion of trust.

Petting is okay as long as the cat consents

Another good example of how to use consent in cats is the issue of petting-induced over-stimulation. Some cats can be petted all day long, but others manage only a minute or two at a time before lashing out. Several reasons may help to explain why some cats barely have any petting patience. For some, it actually may begin to feel uncomfortable when touched for too long. The same goes for dogs, some of whom like to be petted or hugged, and others who don’t.

For cats who typically allow only a minute or two of petting, stop petting after around 30 seconds. Quit while you’re ahead, leaving the cat to decide, “I want more.” If so the cat asks to be petted more, offer only a few seconds, continuing to leave the cat wanting still more. At some point, the cat will likely say, “Okay, that’s enough.” You can increase the time you spend petting your cat while still allowing the cat to maintain control.

Likewise, if you want to play with your cat, be sure your cat tells you it’s okay. Catsdogs, and other animals clearly express their intentions and have to consent for fair play to continue; it’s best to be sure they want to play with you.

All of this is consistent with the Fear Free initiative, which is designed to minimize fearanxiety, and stress.2

The ubiquity of consent

Consent underlies the development and maintenance of friendly and happy relationships within and between many species, including animal-human relationships, and across a wide variety of activities. When you want a cat or other animal to do something, why force the issue when you don’t need to? The most significant explanation given by cat parents whose cat doesn’t like to go to the veterinarian is transit. Getting them into a carrier and the way cats respond in the clinic also are deterrents. Obviously, being able to see a veterinarian regularly benefits the welfare of our cats. Petting a cat who likes to be petted can be good for them and for us. A consenting cat is a happier cat.

Giving cats control by granting them agency and asking for their consent supports their need for safety, security, and trust, makes them happier, and enhances the social bonds you form with each other.


1) This essay was co-authored by Steve Dale, a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (CABC) who hosts several pet radio shows and has contributed to and authored several books.

2) For more details about how to make cats happy, see Dr. Zazie Todd’s Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy.

Dog Crate Anxiety

5 things to do if your dog suffers from dog crate anxiety


By  Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA Published:October 17, 2011Updated:March 24, 2020

dog crate anxiety

Properly used, the dog crate is a marvelous training and management tool. Improperly used, it can be a disaster. Overcrating, traumatic, or stimulating experiences while crated, improper introduction to the crate, and isolation or separation anxieties are the primary causes of crating disasters. If, for whatever reason, your dog is not a fan of the artificial den you’ve provided for him, and assuming he can’t be trusted home alone uncrated, here are some things you can do regarding his dog crate anxiety:

1. Find confinement alternatives

Every time your crate-hating dog has a bad experience in a crate, it increases his stress and anxiety and makes it harder to modify his crate aversion. Your dog may tolerate an exercise pen, a chain-link kennel set up in your garage, or even a room of his own. A recent Peaceable Paws client whose dog was injuring herself in the crate due to isolation anxiety found her dog did just fine when confined to the bedroom when she had to be left alone.

2. Utilize doggy daycare

Many dogs who have dog crate high anxiety are delighted to spend the day at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative who is home when you are not, or at a good doggie daycare facility – assuming your dog does well in the company of other dogs. This is not a good option for dogs with true separation anxiety, as they will be no happier with someone else when they are separated from you than they are in a crate.

3. Teach him to love his crate.

Utilize a combination of counter-conditioning (changing his association with the crate from negative to positive) and operant conditioning/shaping (positively reinforcing him for gradually moving closer to, and eventually into, the crate) to convince him to go into his crate voluntarily. Then, very gradually, work your way up to closing the door with your dog inside, and eventually moving longer and longer distances away from your crated dog for longer and longer periods of time. (See “Dog Crating Difficulties,” WDJ May 2005). Note: If your dog has a separation/anxiety issue, you must address and modify that behavior before crate-training will work.

4. Identify and remove aversives.

Figure out why your dog has dog crate high anxiety. If he was crate-trained at one time and then decided he didn’t like it, what changed? Perhaps you were overcrating, and he was forced to soil his den, and that was very stressful for him.

Maybe there are environmental aversives; is it too warm or too cold in his crate? Is there a draft blowing on him? Is it set near something that might expose him to an aversive sound, like the washing machine, buzzer on a clothes dryer, or an alarm of some kind? Perhaps his crate is near the door, and he becomes overstimulated when someone knocks, or rings the doorbell, or when mail and packages are delivered. Is someone threatening him when he’s crated – another dog, perhaps? Or a child who bangs on the top, front, or sides of the crate? Maybe he’s been angrily punished by someone who throws him into the crate and yells at him – or worse. All the remedial crate training in the world won’t help if the aversive thing is still happening. You have to make the bad stuff stop.

If he’s a victim of generalized anxiety or separation anxiety and the crate aversion is part of a larger syndrome, or his stress about crating is extreme, you may want to explore the use of behavior modification drugs with your behavior knowledgeable veterinarian, or a veterinary behaviorist, to help reduce stress enough that he can learn to love his crate. Note – if your vet is not behavior knowledgeable, tell her that many veterinary behaviorists will do free phone consults with other veterinarians.

5. Take him with you.

Of course you can’t take him with you all the time, but whenever you can, it decreases the number of times you have to use another alternative. Some workplaces allow employees to bring their dogs to work with them; you don’t know until you ask. Of course you will never take him somewhere that he’d be left in a car, unattended, for an extended period of time, or at all, if the weather is even close to being dangerous. A surprising number of businesses allow well-behaved dogs to accompany their owners; if it doesn’t say “No Dogs” on the door, give it a try! Your dog will thank you.

Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

WDJ’s Training Editor Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn “Pat Miller Certified Trainer” certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.

Purina Recalls Pro Plan Vet Diet Product Due to Elevated Levels of Vitamin D


February 8, 2023 — Nestlé Purina PetCare Company is recalling a limited amount of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental (PPVD EL) prescription dry dog food due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D, while essential to a healthy diet, can cause health problems if ingested in too high an amount for too long.
What’s Recalled?
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental (PPVD EL) 8lb and 20lb bags. You can identify the recalled product by using the UPC and production codes in the image below.
This is a prescription-only product.

No other Purina products are impacted by this voluntary recall.

What Caused the Recall?
The recall has come after Purina was contacted about two separate confirmed cases (to date) of dogs exhibiting signs of vitamin D toxicity. Each had been on the diet but recovered once taken off.

Company Statement
According to the company (abridged statement):

Nestlé Purina PetCare Company is voluntarily recalling select lots of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental (PPVD EL) prescription dry dog food due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs; however, ingestion of elevated levels can lead to health issues depending on the level of vitamin D and the length of exposure. Vitamin D toxicity may include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, and excessive drooling to renal (kidney) dysfunction.

Purina is taking this action after receiving two contacts about two separate confirmed cases of a dog exhibiting signs of vitamin D toxicity after consuming the diet, to date. Once taken off the diet, each of these dogs recovered.

The affected dry dog food was distributed throughout the United States by prescription only through veterinary clinics, Purina Vet Direct, Purina for Professionals, and other select retailers with the ability to validate a prescription.

We apologize to pet owners and veterinarians for any concerns or inconvenience this situation has caused. As pet experts and pet owners ourselves, the health and well-being of pets is our top priority.

Read the complete announcement here.

What to Do?
Purina recommends that pet parents immediately stop feeding the affected product to their dogs and discard any remaining food in a way that no wildlife or other animals can get to it.

It also recommends consulting your veterinarian if your dog has eaten the product and is showing symptoms such as weight loss, excessive drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite or increased thirst or urination.

Consumers are invited to reach out to Purina with any questions or for refunds. You may call 1-800-345-5678, Monday-Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm CST or via email at

Reporting Pet Food Problems
U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to the FDA’s “Report a Pet Food Complaint” page.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Lifesaving Recall Alerts
Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall warning system. Sign up at

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How do dogs get parvo? Here’s how to spot symptoms, what to know on spread of pet disease.

Anna Kaufman


The spread of disease — person to person, through a sneeze or a loud exclamation, or via an unwashed surface — has been a hot topic of conversation in recent years. Plenty of people now know a great deal about how to slow the spread of illness. Do those same rules apply when it comes to the animal world? 

Parvo, for example, is a common virus among dogs. How can canines stay protected? Get vaccinated and stay vigilant, just like us. Here’s what you need to know about the disease that affects puppies of all kinds:

How is parvo spread in dogs?

Dogs contract the highly contagious virus through dog-to-dog interaction or contact with an infected surface, environment, or person, the American Veterinary Medical association reports. 

What is parvo?:Understand parvo in dogs with this definitive guide to the illness.

Despite there being an effective vaccine for the illness, parvo remains fairly common, Dr. Whitney MillerPetco’s chief veterinarian told USA TODAY. This is in part because it is able to withstand weather conditions and live in the environment for upwards of 6 months to a year, Dr. Miller reports. 

Pet Care 101:What to know about your pet’s health and common behaviors

What foods are safe for dogs to eat? Here’s what human foods are and are not safe for your pet.

What are parvo symptoms?

“Parvo is a viral disease that attacks a dog’s immune and GI systems,” Dr. Miller says, so the first sign a dog owner might see is their pet losing a healthy appetite. 

This might eventually progress to “potentially bloody diarrhea and vomiting” she reports. This can dehydrate your dog, making it imperative to seek treatment sooner rather than later.

The American Kennel Club lists potential symptoms as: 

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Depression

Is parvo contagious to other dogs?

Parvo is highly contagious, so if your dog has been in contact with a known infected pet or environment it is wise to seek treatment sooner rather than later.

There is an effective vaccine against the disease, and it is much more common for young dogs or unvaccinated canines to contract the disease. “The number one recommendation is to make sure that when your dog’s a puppy that they start on their vaccination schedule,” Miller says.

How likely is a puppy to get parvo?

This depends on a number of factors: how common parvo is in the environment where you live, how your puppy is, if they are vaccinated, and how social they are.

Since parvo can be spread through dog-to-dog contact, if your dog is highly social, often visiting dog parks or staying at a doggy day-care, they may be at a higher risk. 

Dogs between 6 weeks old and 6 months are also at a higher risk, along with unvaccinated puppies, the American Kennel Club reports. 

Certain dog breeds are also more susceptible to parvo AKC reports, including: 

  • Rottweilers Doberman Pinschers
  • American Staffordshire Terriers
  • English Springer Spaniels
  • German Shepherd Dogs
  • Labrador Retrievers

How many parvo shots does a dog need?

Three. The American Kennel Club reports that vaccination against parvo is a 3 shot series, and that owners should be particularly careful during the time in between shots so that their pup does not contract the illness. 

Dogs should receive this shot series as puppies, when they are most vulnerable, ideally between starting at the age of 6 weeks. 

How much does it cost to treat parvo? 

There is no definitive cost that can be put on treating parvo.

Treatment depends on the severity of the illness, and in severe cases could involve a trip to emergency care which can be quite pricey. In less severe cases, the course of treatment is supportive care — rehydration efforts and keeping your dog warm as they recover.

The total cost of such care depends on those variety of factors, including pet insurance and the seriousness of the condition.

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Avian Flu Outbreak is Worst in US History

The current wave of highly pathogenic avian influenza has resulted in the deaths of 50.54 million chickens, turkeys and other commercially raised birds in the US, making the outbreak the worst on record, and officials are studying outbreaks at turkey farms to develop new prevention recommendations, according to the USDA. “Wild birds continue to spread HPAI throughout the country as they migrate, so preventing contact between domestic flocks and wild birds is critical to protecting US poultry,” USDA Chief Veterinary Officer Rosemary Sifford said

Read the full story at

Training – Less Commanding, More Rewarding

From The Whole Dog Journal AND “Chill Out Fido!” by Nan Kene Arthur

Excerpt from Chill Out Fido! by Nan Kené Arthur Dogs are persistently manipulated with verbal commands, equipment, and physical prompting to perform behaviors (such as pushing them into a sit) become reliant on their pet parents to do everything for them. This is equal to doing a child’s homework for him or her.
A child might get better grades if an adult did his homework, but he or she would not learn the skills needed to function successfully in the world. This same concept is also true for your dog. If you have been doing his “homework” via constant reminding or demanding obedience, telling him, “No,” all the time, and/or using leash manipulations and physical prompts to keep him in line, he will not have learned the skills needed to function calmly in life.
Dogs, like children, must learn to problem-solve when life comes at them, and providing your dog a motivation to perform behaviors through rewards will help him learn those skills. In order for that to happen, however, he will need different, and well-practiced behaviors that will give him the answer to the question, “What do I do when (fill in the blank) ________?” If your dog’s current answer to that question is to spiral up and become wild, out of control, inattentive, or reactive, he has very few tools from which to choose.
When your dog has a limited number of tools, he will continue to use the ones that are the most readily available and familiar since those are the easiest to grab. If your dog’s behavior toolbox includes impulsive or reactive behaviors and little else, he has no choice but to use the tools that have served him best in the past.
For training to be effective, your dog needs to learn how to handle different situations without grabbing the old tools from his toolbox. Those old tools will always be there, but as you teach your dog that he will be rewarded for calm and relaxed behaviors, those old tools will be buried deep at the bottom of the toolbox under all the new ones, making access to them difficult and unlikely.
A Note on How Long to Train As you train with your dog, it is important that you don’t overdo the amount of training. Science has shown that animals retain better when taught in short (five to fifteen minutes) spurts, rather than long, drawn out sessions. Dogs not only fill up on treats, they also get bored during long training sessions. If you over train, your dog will not be as excited about doing an exercise the next time. If you stop before he gets full or bored, leaving him wanting more, you will have a cooperative dog the next time you train him
If you find yourself overtraining because you are excited about your dog’s progress, simple count out 20-50 tiny treats and stop when they are gone. That will keep you on track with limiting the amount of time you train.For more advice on training your dog, purchase Chill Out Fido! from Whole Dog Journal.

A Beloved Pet’s Death Can Trigger Real Grief

The death of a beloved pet can cause extreme grief and trigger grief over previous trauma, according to a study in Human-Animal Interactions, but society and even some mental health care providers don’t always recognize how deep the human-animal bond is, says co-author Colleen Rolland, a pet loss grief specialist. People who don’t feel comfortable expressing grief after the loss of a pet due to social stigma may turn inward, and Rolland says health care professionals should consider pets as integral to some patients’ social support systems.

Key Takeaways

A pet loss grief specialist says sometimes the loss of a beloved animal can trigger feelings about childhood grief or other traumas

Fear of stigma keeps many from voicing their sorrow when a pet dies

There’s a segment of the population that doesn’t get it, specialists say

Here is what pet loss grief specialists have to say

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