Vaccinations – Are our pets being over-vaccinated?

Please know these are my personal opinions I am expressing based on research and seeing first hand the affects of vaccinations in animals. I feel every pet owner should make their own informed choice. Many pet owners are unaware of the latest standards and don’t question their vets on practices that may be causing their pets harm. It is time consuming doing your own research but it is my passion to give my animals the best affordable care I can, so they can live long healthy lives!

With all my pets I always had them get their yearly vaccinations. When my own dog developed multiple illnesses and I switch to the raw diet, I started reading articles on the dangers and affects of vaccinations. I have seen in my own dog’s behavior changes and I believe health issues attributed to vaccinations as well as many of the dogs I have worked with soon after being vaccinated. Coincidence – it could be, if it only happened occasionally but the more often I see it, the more questions I have. With my own animals I used to stop the vaccinations as they became seniors. Now I questioned after reading many articles and seeing research and links to health issues whether the vaccinations are causing more harm then good. I still believe it is important to vaccinate to prevent diseases, but I question the way it is done and how often. I remember as a child our dogs would get a yearly rabies shot and that was the only vaccination provided. We rarely saw the vet and I rarely heard of dogs getting cancers and other immune diseases that are more prevalent nowadays. I have read many books and articles by vets that disagree with current practices based on research they have done on the increasing health issues they are seeing in the animals in their care.

I am not an extremist and believe looking into things thoroughly as I did before switching to raw diet, which I now believe is the best type of diet for our pets. I have been doing the same researching vaccinations, both the positive and negative affects they can have on our pets. I am now making changes in the way I vaccinate my pets and how often. I have spoken to breeders, trainers, vets discussing the affects of vaccines. I do not limit myself to researching the negative but also the positive as I believe it is important to be well informed and knowledgeable before making any decision. My goal is to have happy, healthy pets that live long lives.

It has been proven that the rabies vaccine often lasts 5-10 years after the vaccine is given and yet vets still give yearly or every three years this vaccine. Recently evidence has shown that poor diets and over-vaccinating are a major factor in the development of the epidemic increases in autoimmune diseases, seizures, hormonal disorders and cancer seen pets. Vaccinating pets with chronic immune mediated illnesses or cancer, or even a history of cancer, is contraindicated, as all vaccine inserts that come with the vaccinations say for “use in healthy animals only.” There’s even evidence that genetic changes have occurred due to over-vaccination over many generations. Most of these illnesses revolve around breakdown in our pets’ immune systems, and include chronic skin/ear allergies, digestive upset, thyroid, adrenal, and pancreatic disorders, seizures, gum/ teeth problems, degenerative arthritis, kidney/liver failure, and cancer across all ages and breeds. Research also shows a record number of behavioral and emotional disorders including alarming and unexplained fears/aggression. When I initially switched my dogs to the raw diet, and saw immediate health improvement I knew I needed to question/research what I could continue to do to offer my pets the best care. Since I have seen an alarming increase in immune disorders, chronic allergies etc. in many of the animals I work with plus my own I believe more research needs to be done.

Below are links to websites that I feel are informative.—The-Alternative-to-Over-Vaccinating&id=1652954


Gracie who recently was injured requiring stitches went back to the Vet to have her bandage changed which has to be done every 3 days. On this visit they noticed a small infection starting, so they changed her antibiotics giving her stronger medication.

When my husband brought her home he also brought home another vet bill. The first bill was very expensive as they sedated her to do the stitches and we were also charged for initial antibiotics they sent home with her. Now they are charging for the stronger medication and for every bandage change. I cannot believe that for 3 stitches it has cost us almost double the cost it did to get the same dog spayed which is major surgery. I could easily have done the bandaging myself had I known they were going to charge for this. I assumed all of this was included in the first bill. I also question why we are charged for the change in antibiotics when the vet did not give her strong enough antibiotics the first time. At this clinic where I have been going to for years I have always felt the charges were reasonable until lately. My vet recently returned home taking a year’s leave of absence and I chose to continue with the clinic for now. I know the clinic has gone through many changes in the last few years but I find the charges are quite higher than in the past.

I feel a many vets overcharge and because we love our pets we pay the price to keep them healthy. I know my vet was always reasonable and would allow me to provide care to my animals that she knew I was capable of. I can’t remember her ever prescribing a medication that did not work the first time and she always recommended the less expensive methods of treatment that would work for the animal.

I will continue to stay with the clinic especially because of Jasper’s history and medical issues and hoping that my vet returns. If my vet chooses not to return, than I will be looking for a vet who is open to using holistic methods with current practices and who charges reasonable prices for care.

Teaching Phase

There are 3 phases of training a dog, teaching (first phase), proofing (2nd phase) and maintenance (3rd phase).

In the first phase we are teaching the dog to learn and the meaning of each command. Dogs don’t come to us speaking English or any language other then their own. They are visual learners and quickly learn what our body language means, but they need to be taught the words we use as commands.

Trainers use different techniques to teach a dog. Motivational training rewards the dog for good behavior encouraging the animal to want to learn and obey you. Praise, lures, rewards, and play are often used with this style. When teaching your dog, practice each command three times this will build consistency. Praise and reward your dog when they are in the correct position or giving you the behavior you want. Use the same commands to make things clear for your dog. Consistency, clear expectations and boundaries will make it easier for your dog to learn. Your dog should be happy and eager to please you, so make learning fun!

My Teachers

Throughout my life I have owed and been around many dogs. With each dog and dog interaction I have learned. One of the many reasons I love being a trainer is because there is always more to study. Prior to taking my Instructor Course I had developed knowledge and skills training animals. During my course I learned principals and foundation and continued to build my handling skills. I was very fortunate to train under someone who was highly skilled and knowledgeable and I continue to work with her so that I can offer my clients and their pets a high level of skill.

I have worked with other experienced trainers, attended seminars, read books, watch DVDs and other people who work or are interested in dogs. I appreciate that I have had various resources in which to gain knowledge and build my skills.

Some of my best teachers have been the dogs I have owed and worked with. Living with multiple dogs has taught me about the pack mentality, how they respond to each other and how they learn. I have seen dogs, correct, dominate, play, distract, and interact with each other on a daily basis. Dogs have been my best teachers, and once I learned the principles and foundation I was able to understand what I was seeing. Dogs are visual learners and communicate using their bodies. The way they hold their tail, head, ears all have meaning. Reading a dog can be challenging as humans don’t know their language it is something we learn. Some dogs can be very expressive just as some give very minimal changes. The flicker of an ear or tail movement, the absence of movement or expression all have meaning. There are dogs that will give warning prior to aggression and some that don’t. Each dog is different, although there are similarities in signals that they give. Learning from the dogs I live and work with brings me great joy as I am often amused by their antics and how they interact. I love the challenges and rewards of working with dogs they are remarkable creatures!

Separation Anxiety

Canine Separation Anxiety is defined as destructive or disruptive behaviors every time a dog is left alone. Dogs are social animals who form attachments to the people they live with, some dogs will panic or become anxious when separated from the person they are most attached too.

Signs of Canine Separation Anxiety:

  • Urinating or defecating while you are out
  • Excessive licking, drooling, vomiting or diarrhea in your absence
  • Excessive whining, howling or barking when left alone
  • Prior to leaving your dog may show anxiety, depression, bark or whine excessively, or follow you around the house
  • In your absence your dog may chew or be destructive in your home
  • Your dog may cause injury to him or herself
  • Escape behaviors such as scratching or destroying doors or windows, digging under fences, jumping fences or opening gates.
  • Exaggerated greeting behaviors

Possible Causes:

  • Lack of Leadership and owner behavior.
  • Lack of exercise
  • Genetics – abnormal predisposition to dependency, pre-existing phobias/anxiety disorders
  • Lack of understanding of expectations (obedience training)
  • Abandonment, or unusually long confinements, or long kennel stays
  • Early separation or deprivation of attachment or social isolation early in life
  • Change in lifestyle, home environment, or absence of family member (divorce, death or child leaving home) or the addition of a new family member
  • Dogs that are re-homed, adopted or purchased from pet store
  • Sudden or significant change in daily routine or time spent with owner
  • Traumatic event experience by a dog when owner was absent or an emotional traumatic experience
  • Cognitive dysfunction (Senility)

Helpful Hints

  • Have you dog checked by a vet to rule out any health issues
  • Use a qualified trainer/behaviorist who can develop a plan specific to your dog
  • Never punish your dog this is not his/her fault it is a behavior issue
  • Don’t treat your dog like and human, provide leadership, consistency, boundaries and limitations
  • Increase vigorous exercise especially before leaving, but give dog chance to relax before you leave
  • Do not make a big thing when your leave or return, do not touch your dog when you return, wait and remain very calm
  • Using a crate will depend on the issues your dog is having, some dogs become worse in a crate, some will be more relaxed
  • Leave a TV or radio on, leave your pet with an article that has your scent
  • Desensitization training for departure cues (picking up keys, putting on coat), as well you may need to consider anti-anxiety medication with the behavior modification
  • Do not spoil or baby your dog, this will only increase its stress and anxiety levels
  • Practice coming and goings for short periods, sometimes it may just mean leaving the room, gradually allowing your dog to become comfortable with being alone
  • Withdraw attention 15 minutes before leaving and 15 minutes upon returning
  • Change your routines so your dog does not notice leaving patterns
  • Obedience train as this will help to build the dogs confidence including sit/down stay program to increase independence at home
  • Leave a Kong toy or other long lasting treat only when you leave so the dog has something new to occupy his/her attention
  • Do not respond to pushy or needy behaviors when you are home. Praise your dog when they are resting quietly
  • Gradually get the dog use to being alone with short departures (this may start with only seconds), as the dog becomes comfortable, slowly increase the time of the absence while the dog remains calm
  • Some with separation anxiety do not do well when locked in unsocialized areas of the home, such as basements or laundry rooms

Separation Anxiety can be resolved but it takes time and patience by the owner. Never punish or get mad at a dog with Separation Anxiety, as the dog has a disorder. Contact a qualified dog trainer or behaviorist to develop the best strategies for your dog.

Above are listed tips that should not be used without the advice of a trainer or behaviorist as each dog is different and a trainer/behaviorist will develop the best plan for your dog. It is irresponsible to implement strategies without the advice of a trainer/behaviorist.

The Pack Changes

Our original pack consisted first of Cosmo, than Jasper and Sable. Jasper was very protective of Cosmo and would often use a distraction with Sable to prevent her from rough housing with an older Cosmo. It always amazed me how Jasper, would grab and toy and redirect Sable’s attention and than as soon as she was interested in the toy, he would relax knowing he had done a good job. Jasper’s ability to redirect Sable’s attention using toys and play always amazed me, he is such a gentle boy.

Now Jasper is the older dog and Rogan is the middle dog, with Gracie being the youngest. Although I am working with Gracie, she gets very high in drive and excited every time Jasper has to go outside, trying to get him to play. She is very aggressive in play and Jasper tries to avoid her. Rogan has taken on the role of protecting Jasper doing an astounding job. Rogan will grab Gracie and start playing with her, and when this doesn’t work, Rogan has used her body to shield Jasper from Gracie trying to grab him or jostling him. It is truly remarkable how she will even block Gracie from getting close to Jasper. I have seen her do this quite a few times as Gracie is so quick and powerful when in drive or excited. I am continuing to work with Gracie and teach her that her play style with Jasper is inappropriate. She is used to rough play with Rogan, but Jasper is not interested. Ironically the only time Jasper with rough play is when he is loose in a field with the girls but he will not do this in our home or yard.

Watching how the pack changes over time and when one animal is either old or sick is so interesting. I have learned more about dogs and how they communicate by the dynamics of the pack. Each dog is different and has a different style but it is easy to see the bond between the animals and how they relate to each other. Even the cat is in the mix and lately I have noticed that Gracie is starting to play in a gentle manner. Although the cat does antagonize her and she chases him, their relationship seems to changing in a positive direction.

Always controlling the pack and teaching them appropriate manners with training is vital. I do not let my dogs make the decisions with two dominate females I would have major issues if I did. Gracie is still young very determined and requires additional training which I continually work on. I am starting to see positive results but we still have work to do while I continue to learn and build my skills as a trainer.

Until you have owned a pack and watched the changes over time as some dogs pass and others join the pack you really cannot understand the dynamics. It is so interesting and such a learning experience that cannot be taught any other way!

My Vet is Leaving

I was very lucky when I found a wonderful caring vet that I could trust completely when Jasper was around 1 years old. I have always felt that my vet worked in the best interest of my animals and did not overcharge me for her services. Finding a vet that you can trust is very important as our animals cannot communicate their symptoms.

During this difficult time with Jasper she has proven once again how devoted she is, going so far as to give me her home phone number so we could keep in contact in case Jasper need immediate attention.

This is her last week at the clinic I currently use, as she is returning to her home in another province. She has promised that we can stay in touch and will do her best to continue to oversee Jasper’s health issues through email. She has taken a year leave from the clinic although may make this move permanent. I am very saddened that she is leaving and questioning now what to do with my animals. I am not comfortable with any of the other current vets at this clinic except for one that is presently on maternity leave. I require a knowledgeable vet who is opened minded to holistic practices, understands raw diet feeding, and the vaccination protocol I want to use.

I am currently looking into vets that can offer me the care I am used to in case my vet does not return. I will continue to use the clinic I currently attend, but lately they have made a lot of changes which I am not in favour of, but would accept if my vet returns.


I will be taking Rogan in the car with me more often, building on our bond and preparing her for visiting clients on a more regular basis. She is very well behaved in the car as all my dogs are, and I enjoy the company. Within the next month I should be able to access whether she can be used for my business as a demo dog or whether she will require additional training.

Rogan is doing well with her training at home, although I need to spend more time with her, and at this time I am very busy so I do a little each day. I need about an extra 5 hours to my days right now they go by so fast!

Working Rogan in drive with the ball gives me a happier and livelier dog and for me it’s more fun too! I have had no time to work her this way and look forward to Dog Club on the weekend where I will get this opportunity.

My goals with Rogan are to continue her tracking, go for her BH Title, do pet visits and use her as my demo dog. I cannot compare her to Jasper, as she is a very different dog. She cannot be used to socialize other dogs as it is not in her temperament. Her obedience is good and I will continue to build on it. I know at first she will be under some stress as she adjusts to her new jobs, which is why I will slowly integrate her. Sometimes it will just be a car ride, and she will be with me during the lessons for short durations at first.

As I continue to develop my skills as a trainer both Rogan and I will go to higher levels!

Jasper – Great News

My vet just called me with Jasper’s Cushing’s and liver enzymes results. I had increased the milk thistle and is has dramatically reduced the liver enzymes, although they are still high they have decreased almost in half. The liver enzymes are higher than normal when a dog is on anticonvulsant drugs.

As for the Cushing’s Jasper’s resting Cortisol level is in the normal range, but his levels after the injection of Cortisol were a little elevated. The vet feels he may be in the early stages of Cushing’s or that the diabetes is causing the elevation. For now we treat the diabetes being very careful to watch for any signs of a pancreatitis attack so we can treat quickly to avoid him going off food for a few days and prevent having to stop insulin while he is not eating.

Overall I am ecstatic and feel my prayers have been answered and I will continue to treasure each day I have with him.

Now to update all those who have been supporting and sending us good thoughts!!

Thanks so much!!!

What is Temperament?

I regularly talk to my clients about temperament it is foremost in choosing a dog. I hear so often my dog is really great but it is afraid of strangers and just needs to be socialized. Sometimes this is the case but more often than not, the dog does not have a sound temperament.

Temperament is genetics, it is a collection of drives, nerves, thresholds and instincts that are inherited and innate. Temperament is not something that can be developed it is what the dog is born with and is a product of its genetics. The core of a dog’s temperament will never change, although sometimes behaviors can be modified by behavior/training techniques if there is movement in the temperament. For example let’s consider a dog that has high prey drive and is ball crazy. With training you can teach the dog to control its drive but you cannot take a high energy, high prey drive dog and make it a low energy, low prey drive dog. Trainers can use the drive to redirect and build obedience but the drive has to be there. Just as you cannot take a dog that has very low prey drive and no interest in the ball and make it into a ball crazy dog, if the temperament is not there you can not build or develop it.

A dog with a sound stable temperament will always be a dog with a good temperament regardless of the lousy environment in which it might be raised. Just as unstable or unsound temperament will not change regardless of the fabulous environment in which it is raised. Temperament is not the dog’s personality. Personality is developed by interaction with other living creatures usually humans. Proper and early socialization will build and develop the traits that are already there and may progress a weaker temperament to the level it is capable.

Determining a dog’s temperament is not specific to the breed, it all depends on the genetics. The breed of a dog can give us some indication of the possibility of the temperament, but it all goes back to the genetics. An example is a Lab, often chosen as a family dog, because the breed is known to be good with people, other animals, have an easy going loving nature, responsive and easy to train. I have also seen Lab’s that are aggressive, full of anxieties, and dominant this is genetics and not what is expected but shows how poor breeding can produce lousy dogs.

I understand the need to want to fix every dog, but I also know this is not always possible. Everything begins with temperament, sure a good trainer/behaviorist can develop, train and fix some behavior issues, but only if the temperament allows it.

Always choose a dog based on its temperament, a solid stable dogs behavior will be predictable, responsive, easier to train and a well mannered pet with the proper training, socialization and environment.