Hemp, a history, and where we are today

If you haven’t noticed, hemp, hemp oil, and hemp CBD products are literally showing up everywhere. There has been a hemp revolution of sorts you could say.

This influx of hemp products onto the market is big business but it wasn’t always that way.

Since 1970 and the Nixon administration, hemp was part of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which likened it to its relative marijuana. This was the case even though hemp did not possess the same THC content that marijuana does. It was classified as a schedule 1 drug and made illegal.

The separation of hemp from marijuana didn’t start to catalyze until the signing of the 2014 farm bill. This bill sets the stage for growth in the hemp industry by allowing individual states to enact pilot research programs for industrial hemp. Unfortunately, at the federal level, hemp was still illegal which stymied legal interstate hemp commerce.

The DEA continued to make life difficult for farmers of hemp after by enacting the “marijuana extract rule”. This simply stated that any of the more than 70 cannabinoids that have been derived from the plant of the genus Cannabis would continue to be treated as a schedule 1 substance.

This meant again that the now very popular CBD based products manufactured under the 2014 farm bill were once again federally illegal.

Luckily congress continued to support the hemp industry by passing the Omnibus Appropriations act of 2016 and the Consolidated Appropriations act of 2017. This legislation effectively kneecapped the DEA by stating that federal funds could not be used to interfere with the cultivation or sale of hemp in any way.

Unfortunately, while this was very helpful to the blossoming hemp industry, there was still unease and uncertainty among the hemp industry insiders as hemp was technically still not federally accepted.

Fast forward to this last December and the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill which fully legalizes and de-schedules hemp from its cousin marijuana. The cultivation and farming of hemp are completely legal and extracts containing hemp derived cannabinoids like CBD are also legal as long as they still contain less than .3% of the still federally illegal cannabinoid THC. The FDA still has strong oversight of these products and prohibits manufacturers from making unsubstantiated claims to cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any diseases or disorders such as curing cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, etc.

This leads us to our current trend of seeking out the newly discovered benefits of supplements containing hemp extracts such as the very popular CBD. CBD is everywhere and many people swear by it for themselves and their pets. You can get it at some grocery stores, fitness and health centers, online and even at your local pet store.

The list of reported benefits is extensive. Here are some of the most common:

Pets:

  • Reduced anxiety (fireworks, separation, social, travel, grooming)
  • Pain relief (post-surgery, sprains, strains, nerve and joint pain)
  • Reduced Inflammation (This is the most commonly reported side effect) reduced skin/coat problems, joint inflammation, inflammation of the liver, kidneys, pancreas etc., IBD/IBS (bowel inflammation), etc.
  • Immune system booster
  • Anti-nausea and adjunct to cancer treatments
  • Neuroprotective and antioxidant effects for aging pets
  • Seizure reduction

Until January first this year and the passage of Assembly Bill 2215, veterinarians were prohibited from discussing hemp CBD or any other supplements for your pets. A.B 2215 now allows veterinarians to discuss your options with supplements like hemp CBD without the fear of repercussions from any regulatory boards or associations. This is a huge win for pets and consumers.

People:

  • Improves skin conditions (used topically)
  • Reduced inflammation (Arthritis and similar complaints)
  • Pain relief
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced anxiety including PTSD
  • Reduced Cardiovascular disease and cholesterol
  • Reduced Diabetic symptoms
  • Bone stimulant (for fracture regrowth)
  • Improved brain health (neuroprotective and anti-oxidant benefits)
  • Reduced seizure activity
  • Immune system booster
  • Cancer remediation

With all these reported and studied potential benefits of CBD for both people and pets, there is increased interest by the FDA to create pharmaceutical versions and to further regulate the market. As of last year, there are two approved medicines containing CBD and THC.

These are marketed under the names Epidiolex and Sativex and are approved to treat epileptic seizures and MS respectively.

I hope you found this article informative and interesting. We will touch on this topic very soon more specifically to the pet industry.

Until then,

“Be well and wag tail”

Let’s try something new

With Winter here and the Holidays upon us it is common for our furry friends to have unwanted behavior changes from time to time due to added stress from environmental changes.

The environmental changes can be anything from the time change to other items like lack of exercise, holiday guests, kids coming home from college, taking vacations and hosting parties.

It may not seem like a lot to you but what your dog experiences is change in predictability and environment.  When those two things change, unwanted attentions seeking, destructive, protective or anxious behaviors may increase and look like normal bad behavior.

Behavior is contingent on the environment.  It doesn’t come out of nowhere.  On any given training visit the first thing I look for before actual obedience or behavior training regardless of the circumstances is to find something, we can change that might make the dog’s life easier and encourage relaxation and or learning.  I “try something new” or “change something.”

Buy a Mat

A few Christmas’ ago I visited my sister and her family for the holiday. This was the first Christmas for adolescent lab mix named Koko who had tons of energy.  As the resident dog trainer, I was tasked to help with getting some space back at meal times and calm the puppy down.

I quickly made a few changes:

First, I visited the local pet store and purchased a Jolly Ball, some bully sticks and some training treats.

Next, I stopped by a local target and purchased a large memory foam bath.  

Once back home I started working helping Koko learn to go to the new mat when mealtimes happened.

Slowly she showed more interest and started laying down on the mat with my direction. We practiced this for 5-7 minutes at a time, 3 times a day for the next 3 days.

When we ate meals she was tethered to a chair on her mat with the bully stick to occupy her.   

When I returned home after just spending 4 days visiting and working with Koko, I received a text at dinner with a picture of Koko laying on her mat calmly watching the family eat at the table.

Wow! Was that fast or what?

We made a few changes with tethers and training as well as increased her exercise and gave her something to do on the mat while the family ate.  

All In all I spent under $60 and under 20 min. a day in training to achieve this.

Other changes you can make:

Change the pet’s clothing

Try adding a drag line like a leash to the pet.  Put a harness on them vs. a collar even while just inside or have them wear a shirt or even a “thunder shirt” from a pet store. Use a pet tether(leash) secured to furniture to prevent unwanted behavior with guests.

Change routine: Consider training for 5-10 min a day.  

Practice getting eye contact and easy known cues like, sit, down, come, rollover and more. Add some fun games for a few minutes at the end like tug or fetch.  

You will be surprised how much 10 min of fun interaction will benefit your dogs.

Walk your dogs separately. 

You may be able to walk for less time when each dog gets their own time to smell and sniff and pee on what they want and not get dragged along or stopped by another dog in the household. Try using a 10 foot leash,(not retractable) to give them more room to smell and don’t worry so much about the destination. Let them tell you where they want to go.

Enrich the environment

Use interactive feeder toys to dispense their food.  We love items like “Kong’s”, “Kong Wobblers”, “Kong Gyro’s”, “snuffle mats”, peanut butter lined “Licki mats” or the very fun “Snoop” toy by planet dog.

Use a blanket or towel and toss your dog’s portion of food in it and wrap it up. Your pooch will have a blast using his nose trying to find it all. This is a huge one for puppies in general.  Your pet is a natural scavenger.  Let them scavenge successfully.

Give them a safe space like a separate room or bed/crate or sectioned off area that is away from commotion and offer them Kong’s and bully stick items to keep them busy.

Use pet gates to or pens as needed to avoid chasing after your pets and getting them riled up.  Remember your pets are masters of body language. Slow down, breathe, reduce frantic shouting or running because you’re in a hurry. Your dog will appreciate it.

Change their internal environment with supplements.

There are several calming supplements that may help calm nervous or stressed pets.

Our favorite is All Paws Essentials pet CBD which works great to relieve situational or environmental stress and anxious behavior.  It’s also super good for them in general so this is a double win.

Other calming chews like “Heavenly Hounds” offer flower herbs like valerian and passion flower for calming.  Adaptil pheromone collars are also useful and last a whole 30 days.  

Sit or lay with them and slowly pet them.

Any amount of time given back to the dog will be appreciated and rewarded.  Trust me.  

Until next time, Be well and Wag tail.  

Dog feed problems

What and how we feed out dogs are passions of mine.  I love the conversation and I am always eager to learn more about how I can get the most of the twice a day experience of nourishing my dogs.

Notice I didn’t say feed my dogs.  

Feed isn’t quite food and unfortunately most commercial dog foods are classified as former.  AAFCO, the private regulatory body that sets the rules for pet food actually considers your pets food a feed.  

The same label as feed for livestock.  

Feeding is a must and we can all do that.  We can offer our pets most all the basic vitamins and minerals, proteins, and fats and still not give them what they need to actually thrive.  

That’s the difference I am trying to make.  As much as the picture of the wild Husky on your dog food says it, thriving really isn’t the main goal of the dog food manufacturer. They have a bottom line too and this is a profit game.  

My goal here is to offer several easy to start solutions to keep your pets in peak health by just manipulating a few food ingredients.

Add a sardine

A single sardine added to the diet is an easy way to buff up the Omega-3 content (anti-inflammatory) as well as vitamins B3 and B12 (cellular energy/ DNA formation) as well as calcium/phosphorous content and the antioxidant Selenium (thyroid function)

I get my sardines at the local market which are in water with no salt.

You can also get a case for cheap here.

Add sunflower seeds (shelled and salt free)

You probably weren’t expecting this one but it goes right along with the sardines.

It actually helps protect the omega-3’s from sardines while offering itself as a natural antioxidant for the rest of the body.  Vitamin E is great for the eyes, skin/coat and cardiovascular system. Consider adding about a teaspoon to a tablespoon every other day or so depending on the size of your pet.

Add unpasteurized goats’ milk

I prefer unpasteurized to the heated alternative and look for a brand that is naturally fermented to replace the pasteurization process.  It contains an extensive list of naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals, probiotics, enzymes, fatty acids, and so much more and is super palatable.  I recommend the “Answers” brand for this reason. It is sold locally in Orange County or you can look look here for a local retailer.  

1-2 oz a day for smaller dogs and 2-4 oz a day for larger dogs seems to be a great measure.  

Green leafy vegetables

This is actually very easy to accomplish with a little help from a small food processor.

You don’t have to cook the veggies if you process the pieces small enough.  I generally get about equal parts of Kale, celery, spinach, parsley and even un-leafy zucchini and toss coarsely chopped pieces into the processor for a few seconds. It comes out pretty fine and I they transfer it to a Tupperware that I keep in the fridge for about a week max. I add a tablespoon or two to my large dogs’ diet and a few teaspoons daily to my smaller dogs and they love the stuff.  

Add a raw (or cooked) egg

Served raw, eggs are one of nature’s most perfect proteins and an inexpensive and safe food source. They’re highly digestible with a full range of essential amino acids – the building blocks of protein – Vitamins, and minerals including Vitamin A, Riboflavin (Vitamin B), Folate, Vitamin B12, Iron, Selenium and Fatty Acids, making them a nutritious food for dogs.

No worries if you’re uncomfortable feeding raw

You can get most of the same benefits from a cooked egg as well.  If a whole egg is to much for your dog you can crack/stir in a bowl and serve half or just cook it to make it easier.  

Now after all these suggestions I want to add two more suggestions.

First, don’t feel like you have to do all of this daily.  While all of these are great additions they can be staggered and offered every other day or you can rotate supplements like I do.

One day I drop in an egg. The other gets a sardine. One week we add chopped veggies and the other we have goat’s milk on hand.  Rotation is natural and what your dog would naturally experience if on his own and didn’t have someone to make sure he gets feed twice a day on time like a human.

Lastly, if you do this every day and your adding higher calorie items like eggs, milk and sardines, you may want to cut the base food mix by 10-15% just to offset some of the calories, although an extra walk per day will cover your bases as well.

I would love to hear feedback on what you do to offer your dog extra nourishment so feel free to email me with comments.

Until then,

Be well and wag tail!

5 things dog trainers don’t do

I have worked with hundreds of dogs and their owners and no doubt I have changed my recommendations on the best practices for any given dog or owner but there are a few mainstays that I truly believe have protected the good health and desired behavior I’ve worked so hard to instill in my lovely dogs.

Let’s look at a few of them I can safely say most dog trainers don’t generally practice with their dogs.  

We avoid dog parks

The only dog parks most dog trainers will use are empty ones. We know that dog parks are havens for inappropriate behavior (canine and human) and disease. Nasty right? need I go on – those two things right there are enough to convince most that their dogs do not need to visit a dog park. But here’s more detail, in case you’re on the fence about dog parks.

  • Dog fights! Not every dog at there needs to be there.  Many dog owners take their dogs to dog parks to “get used to” or socialize to other dogs.  In a perfect dog park world that would be great but that may lead to your dog being the victim of an unsocialized or frustrated dog practicing and teaching your dog worse behavior.
  • Dismissal of real behavior problems.  Many dog owners take the stance that “dogs should just work it out” if there is a skirmish or a scuffle.  I firmly disagree. Letting them “work it out” can lead to vet emergency room visits and add fear and anxiety to the mix of future problems.   
  • Health hazards. Parvo, bordatella, giardia, internal parasites, fleas, and ticks are just some of the health risks your dog is exposed to at the dog park. Some of that risk is minimized if your dog is healthy and current on vaccinations but your pet is still at a heightened risk and no one wants a sick dog with giardia induced diarrhea.

We don’t use Flexi (retractable leashes)

  • Flexible leashes teach bad habits like pulling.  If you’re trying to teach your dog to walk nicely on leash the best way to wreck that is to put them on an extendable leash.  The constant tension even though it is slight, commonly teaches them that mild leash tension is appropriate for walking, negating your loose leash walking practice.
  • They can cause injuries.  Google retractable leash injuries to see for yourself but be prepared if your squeamish.  The thin cords can cause some pretty nasty burns and cuts and have taken off fingers and even dogs’ tails.  
  • They are way too long.  You have much less influence over your dog should you need to give it instructions at 15-20’ of distance.  They are hard to hold if you have anything else in hand and if you let go accidentally they wind up into your dogs’ rear end usually freaking them out.

We don’t free feed

Not only do dog trainers typically avoid leaving food down all day(free feeding) we rarely feed out of bowls. We schedule regular feeding times for out dogs for a few reasons.

  • It helps with house training.  A more predictable input schedule(food) helps predict the output (poop) schedule.
  • We can immediately tell if out dogs aren’t feeling well or if something is wrong with the food. If food is always available it may days to notice if something isn’t right.
  • It helps to predict when our dogs will be hungry and ready to train.  If your dog has grazed all day it is very hard to know when he will be the most receptive to food reinforcement.  

We don’t get littermates

If one puppy is good, two puppies are great, right? Not quite. While is seems intuitive that getting two pups with keep each other company and be a time saving idea, in reality that can end up being one of the worst things dog owners do.

Raising littermates is harder than raising one puppy for sure and one puppy is hard enough in my opinion.  On top of that it’s harder because everything you do with one puppy you has to be done separately with the second one, at least if you’re planning to have two well-adjusted adult dogs.  Instead of doing these things with the two pups together, you have to do each of these things with each puppy, separately.

Why separately?

Because doing these things together leads the puppies to become dependent on each other. The more the pups depend on each other, the less they depend on and pay attention to you.

Housetraining

If you are raising two pups, you will need to teach them housetraining separately. That is double the fun right out the gates.

  • Sleeping quarters: The pups need to learn to sleep apart from one another. That is now to crates, two beds, etc.
  • Training classes: you will either have to hire a private trainer or take them to separate training classes. Creating independence is a critical task and they can’t establish it if they are together all of the time.  It is also a huge distraction early on having both puppies present during class.
  • Veterinary visits: When it comes to routine booster shots or wellness check, make two separate appointments. Each pup needs to establish confidence and independence especially when at the vet unless you want to bring both dogs to the veterinarian for the rest of their lives.

We don’t always meet other dogs on leash

This is one of my favorites which I often practice and suggest with pups learning manners on leash. Each dog and dog owner is an influencer and I have no idea what skill level their dogs has on leash nor do I know what the other owner thinks a good interaction is.  I am very picky of just who I will reward with my dogs’ good behavior which I have worked on quite a bit. I also know my dogs aren’t looking to make friends with everyone and even if they were, they can’t because honestly, I’m just trying to walk my dogs and I can’t afford the time and energy to make friends with everyone on most walks either. I suggest using most stranger dogs as training practice to keep their attention on you and pick the most appropriate and convenient times for to meet better behavior between dogs in the future.

So, I apologize in advance for not meeting your dog.  It’s not personal it’s just my dog.

I hope that gives you some insight on how a dog trainer might think in a few aspects.

We already know how hard getting and maintaining reliable behavior from out dogs is and we have busy lives too so we might be less inclined to take silly chances to “socialize” our dogs when the chances for a positive interaction are unpredictable. The integrity of our dogs’ behavior is something that we work hard to maintain and we have simply seen to many unneeded negative consequences from making these simple mistakes.

Thanks to the Whole dog Journal and Laurie luck who we used as a reference for this article.

Their perspective is greatly appreciated.  

5 things you can do today to make your dog’s life better and more satisfying

I bet between all my training experts we could come up with a dozen or more opinionated ideas on how to enrich our pets lives.

And that’s a great thing.  

It means we have numerous options for different household and lifestyles. What I would like to do is touch on a few easy to make adjustments that should help you have a more fulfilled relationship with your furry best friends.  

Enrich feeding times and ditch the bowls

Whether you feed kibble, wet, raw or home-cooked, there is a way to may feeding time more fulfilling.  Think about how much your dog loves to eat and then think why you wouldn’t try to use that experience to make his day even better.  

Try to ditch the bowl for at least one feeding a day and get creative with how you feed.

If you feed kibble get an old blanket or towel out and put a portion of the food in it and wrap it up.  Set the blanket down and encourage your pet to show interest in it. Now not only will your dog be engaged but he should be busy for a while as well. For smarter dogs, roll and tie the blanket up around the food with packing string or a shoelace.

For wet or raw dog food feeders simply shove half or more of their food portion in a standard Kong.  They hole soft, wet and sticky items well.

Once your pet understands the game of feeding from the Kong feel free to freeze it to keep them busy longer.

Engage your dog’s nose.  

Our dog’s noses are their main sensory organs and can be 1-10 million times as sensitive as ours. It would be silly to take them for granted but that is what we do every day as we hurry them along on the same pre planned neighborhood walk.   With a slight hardware change and a slight paradigm shift, our walks with our dogs can be more beneficial to them and require no more work on our parts. Add a 10-15 leash to your pet and let them get ahead of you if they want. By the time you catch up to them they will likely have sniffed what is near them and they will be ready to follow you to the next smell.

This is a great opportunity to add some easy positive reinforcement training by giving them yummy treats the times they are paying attention to your or catching up to you.

Eventually this may develop a natural check-in behavior by giving them a reason to come find you after you let them have the freedom to sniff around.  Win! Win!

Play with them.  

I would bet 5 minutes of play a day is more than most people offer their dogs on average for any sincere play interactions.

Your dog is social and needs social interaction.

Get a tug toy or a ball or any item your dog likes and try to engage with him.  If your dog just loves your company trick him by throwing a few treats and then running away to play hide and seek.  Just slip behind your office or closet door and be as quiet as you can until your pet finds you. When they do, make a big deal and give them some more treats to reinforce the finding behavior and start again.  Then get down on the ground with them and show them some good affection at their level.

Consider how you pet your dog

Ok I bet you weren’t expecting any tips on how to pet your dog and you probably think your dog loves all your pats, rubs and affection. But I can promise you most pet owners I work with could use some improvement and your dogs will thank you for it.

First, consider using the back of the hand.

They don’t have grabby and pokey fingers that have a prior history of manipulating them around. There is no assumed possible consequence from getting a back of the hand pet.  I bet it’s rarely happened.

Concurrently use long soft strokes like you would like if you were getting a Swedish massage.  

Pressure is not important here and should be very light as your dog has up to 3x thinner skin that a human does.  I suggest focusing on the chest and sides of the dog until they show you some belly. That’s the green light for more affection and in my opinion their full approval.  

Avoid and patting and stay away from the head unless you’re doing very light ear caresses.  To test the waters and see if your pet likes what you’re doing, stop all together and see if they nudge themselves back into your hands or lap.  If they don’t maybe try again later and change it up a bit.

Take their clothes off.

In a previous article I suggested adding clothing (leashes/shirts/collars) to change behavior.  In this section I’m encouraging you to take it all off to relax them. There is a sense of freedom we have all experienced taking our clothes off after a long day.  Unless your using the collar, shirt or leash on them to manage them for other reasons try to offer your dog some time in the day free from wearing any of his traditional doggie baggage.  This would be a great cue that its doggie massage or affection time as well.

While I could go on and on and in the future I probably will.  I want you to pick one or two of these and put them on your calendar or to do list.

Make a habit of them and if you’re paying attention you might just notice a positive shift in how your furry best friend offers you their future interest and respect.   

Until next time,

Be well and wag tail!

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