Jun 02

Finding a Dog Trainer

dog trainingMany people don’t have the time, energy or patience to devote to dog training. Few other activities require as much, if the result is to be a safe, well-adjusted dog and a happy human. For some, the answer is to outsource the effort to a professional trainer.

As in any profession, quality and cost vary. And, like many professions – especially those involving human-animal interactions – training philosophies vary considerably. So, you already have some parameters to guide your selection.

Examine your budget and your needs. Depending on where you live, training can run anywhere from free – often supplied on a weekly basis by volunteers to parks or shelters – to $100 or more per session. What constitutes a reasonable fee will vary depending on geography, trainer experience, length of program and your goals.

Examine your schedule. Some training programs are weekly, others more often. You may have to leave the dog and pick it up later. Or, more likely, you may join a program where the training involves you directly. Most will suggest that you spend some time training the dog every day, whether at home or at the trainer’s facility.

Examine your commitment. Dogs, especially early in training, need regular, large blocks of time and attention in order to learn. An hour a day is not at all unusual.

In some cases, ‘boot camp’ training programs are preferred. The dog goes away to a special facility for up to several weeks. The training is regular, long and intensive. Don’t be concerned for the dog. They love that! Near the end, you’ll usually have to participate in order to ‘transfer’ the obedience from trainer to you.

But the results are often amazing. Dogs who ‘graduate’, even when not special service dogs, are disciplined and eager to follow instructions. Yet, paradoxically, these dogs show no signs of being repressed. They’re happy and play with great enthusiasm.

Examine your goals. You may want a dog who can be entered in shows, or you may just want them not to chew on the couch or chase the cat. In either case, regular training is required. How much and what kind will vary with breed and individual temperament.

Some dogs are fearful, either through being mistreated or from a natural tendency toward submission. Some are too assertive, again through abuse or natural striving for alpha (pack leader) status. What training you select will depend on how you want to influence them and what attributes they have you want to shape.

Whatever your goals, budget or commitment you want a trainer who exhibits massive patience and boundless energy, not to mention a deep love for dogs. Most have these characteristics in spades.

Beyond those basics, you’ll want a trainer whose philosophy makes sense to you and matches your goals. Some insist that dog training is more about training the owner than the dog – and there’s some truth to that in some cases. Some are lenient and friendly, leaning toward the ‘touchy-feely’ style. Others lean more toward police or military style training. And many lie between these two extremes.

It’s unlikely that one training style suits all, but neither is it entirely subjective. Even where there are disputes there are common principles that most will agree on. Patience, persistence, consistency and the need for the human to lead are only a few of these.

Ask for recommendations from those you trust and don’t hesitate to shop around. Be prepared to change trainers once or twice to find one suitable for your needs. Be careful, though, not to change on a whim. Dogs need consistency and a regular environment in order to absorb what’s being taught.

Good luck and good hunting!

 

May 27

Dog Training – Pros and Cons of Electronic Fences

Dalmatian puppy

Dalmatian puppy

Electronic fences are a control device. That said, electronic fences can be a blessing or a curse – not only for the dog but for the human as well. An ‘electronic fence’ is a set of devices, usually underground wire and transmitters, that deliver a noise, shock or unpleasant spray via a collar to a dog approaching the boundary. The wire is buried a foot or so under the ground along a perimeter of 500-1000 feet and as the dog approaches it a signal is sent to the collar, activating the deterrent.

Electronic fences are expensive, but some Home Owners Association rules or city ordinances forbid regular fences leaving few options. Useful for those who want to avoid or can’t erect a regular front yard fence, it becomes even more desirable for those with no back yard fence at all.

The potential downsides, though, are many.

Sometimes viewed as a substitute for needed training, dogs require careful instruction in dealing correctly with an e-fence. Shocks or disturbing noises aren’t automatically and instantaneously interpreted correctly by dogs. They have to be taught to associate the shock or noise with the limit of allowed movement.

Systems can be shorted, by lightning strikes (unusual) or by careless digging at the perimeter (less unusual). Flags mark the boundary after initial installation, but they’re intended to be removed after the dog has been trained. Sometimes, though, they’re left in place and get knocked down or dragged away by lawnmowers, kids and other causes. Once down their tips can point up and have the potential to produce a harmful puncture.

Particularly assertive or unintelligent dogs chasing ‘prey’ will sometimes barrel past the barrier, oblivious to the temporary shock. Being on the wrong side of the fence discourages voluntary returns home.

And, of course, many reasonably believe that electric shocks are a cruel or at best counter-productive way to solicit desired behavior from a friend and companion.

But, everything in life has risks that need to be weighed. Dogs confined solely indoors except when leashed don’t experience needed opportunities to run. In some locales, dog parks or other areas that make possible free running can be hard to find or far away. And running is a deep-seated need of almost all dog’s natures. Frustrate that need and you produce a maladjusted dog.

Fences of standard height can be forded by large dogs, but accidents can produce punctures from chain link and scrapes from wooden fence tops. Even when the initial wound is minor, dogs have a tendency to worsen them by biting and scratching, producing hot spots. That means a trip to the vet. Sometimes an electronic fence is actually safer in the end.

No ‘one-size-fits-all’ recommendation is likely to be satisfactory given the wide variety of living circumstances, breeds and individual dogs and training regimes. The best that can be said is to consider all the facts, not least of which are the physical and psychological health needs of the dog. Then make an informed choice.

Just be prepared to disable the fence if it proves to do more harm than good.

May 23

Dog Training – Dog Psychology

Best Friends

Best Friends

Even dumb dogs are clever. Just think of the many ways they get humans to do what they want. Few can resist the soulful eyes and the offered paw when eating something the dog also views as tasty.

One of the reasons for the many-thousand year association between humans and dogs is the latter’s great capacity for communicating in terms the former can understand. How often has your canine companion delivered a tennis ball with a look that you unerringly interpret as ‘time for fetch’?

These are only two examples out of many that show dogs have a great capacity for learning complex behavior.

Dogs can understand a surprising amount of language and body posture, but they process information very differently from humans.

Their eyes respond very differently to colors and have a greater ability to see in low light. Their head muscles allow them to rotate their ears in order to quickly and accurately locate the precise source of sounds. And, of course, there’s that famous sense of smell.

The differences continue on other levels of mental functioning. Dogs understand cause-effect relationships very unlike their human companions.

Classical conditioning – associating a stimulus with a response – can be much more readily surmounted in humans. Humans are much better at changing an undesired response to a car accident or a trip to the doctor. Those associations are much more persistent in dogs.

Operant conditioning – grasping naturally related cause-effect relationships, usually through positive and negative reinforcement – is even more different between the two species.

I always exit the rear door with my Golden Retrievers when we’re going to play fetch. When I do, we invariably do actually play. By contrast, a hundred times I let them out the side door, where I never follow them. Instead, I leave them alone for half an hour or more. Yet they still go immediately to the back door where they expect a game to follow.

I clearly associated a specific tone and word and a unique hand gesture with every command. In consequence, they learn a wide variety of selected behaviors. They can sit, stay, down, come, roll-over, no-bite, fetch and release, even eliminate on command.

Yet telling them repeatedly not to eat things off the ground that their own experience continually shows them leads to upset stomachs is a waste of effort. They’ll repeat the same unwanted behavior the first time they can. They simply can’t grasp some effects when the cause is much earlier in time.

The lesson from these examples is this. Your companion, whether Retriever or Shepherd, Dachshund or Basset Hound can learn an astounding variety of things, provided you don’t expect the unreasonable.

One woman well-known on the show circuit has trained her friend to perform a complex, several-minutes long dance routine. Search-and-rescue dogs have been trained to pull children from rivers and skiers from avalanches. Service dogs can open a door and pull a wheelchair or fetch a container of water without spilling a drop.

But don’t expect them to think like humans, even when trained to emulate us. No matter how many times you tell them not to, they’ll continue to eat grass.

May 12

Dog Training – Different Breeds Require Different Methods

Gray Adult Siberian Husky Dog

Gray Adult Siberian Husky Dog

The variety of dog species is so great that sometimes it’s better not to think of them all as part of the same species at all. Biologists do because they can interbreed. Dog owners have different purposes, so it can be better to emphasize the differences over the similarities.

A Jack Russell terrier looks, thinks and behaves much differently from a Great Dane. The latter are generally very calm. A Golden Retriever is a very different animal than a Collie. Golden Retrievers are fun loving, but excitable. A German Shepherd and a Chihuahua have little more in common than the name ‘dog’.

As a result of these differences, training should be tailored to the breed you’re attempting to train. Patience is required for training all dogs, but more is required for some than for others. German Shepherds are intelligent and take to obedience commands readily and with pleasure. Jack Russell’s are also very smart, but much more willful and will require a different technique.

With terriers, for example, distraction techniques are very handy. Terriers are high energy, highly active dogs. They have evolved to spot movement in an instant and go after the animal producing it. Keeping them focused is a real challenge, so make sure at all times that their eyes are on you. Use treats, toys or other objects and wiggle them to see that the terrier’s eyes are on you.

Collies are equally trainable, but much more mellow. They’re extremely loyal and protective, which is great. But it presents its own kind of challenges. A collie will spontaneously bark and chase any stranger who appears to threaten the family. That can be desirable for a watch dog guarding the house at night. But it can be annoying if carried out every time a child walks by along the sidewalk during the afternoon.

Bark collars are sometimes necessary under these circumstances, but remove the collar when the sun goes down. That way the dog may only associate the discouragement with daylight and still continue to function as a watch dog when it counts.

Dalmatians make for excellent companions, but they are ultra-energetic and very strong. That can be a troublesome combination for one that spends all its time in a small backyard with no one to play with. If you plan on owning one of these excellent dogs, be prepared to spend time working off some of that excess vitality.

Dalmatians need a large area so they can run at top speed – the only speed they know. They’ll work best with someone who can toss a ball far away, and has the presence to command them. They can be extremely loyal, but they need a strong hand. Being the alpha dog when faced with a Dalmatian requires a forceful owner.

Tailor your training regimen to the actual nature of your dog, including both those aspects derived from the breed and the unique characteristics of your specific dog. Just like humans, dogs are individuals.

May 06

Dog Training – Dealing With Jumping

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd

Most dogs will display a tendency to jump on people at times. How often will vary with breed and by individual. One theory suggests that dogs are trying to get close to the person’s face – not to attack, but to interact. Other dogs, especially of the same breed, have faces close to their level and the dog will use its nose and eyes to explore.

So, one way to deal with jumping is to give them no need to reach. Kneel down and interact with the dog at its level. Let it explore your face in a safe way, while keeping an eye out for excessive assertiveness. Very rarely will a dog bite its owner this way, especially if the human has taken the trouble to become the ‘alpha’ (leader of the pack).

Naturally, if you’ve only recently acquired an older dog, perhaps from a shelter, you should take proper precaution when using this technique. Put a collar on the dog and keep a thumb inserted under it behind the dog’s neck. Be prepared to jerk sideways, if necessary.

Sideways jerking is to be preferred to a sharp pull backwards, when possible. Dogs’ neck muscles are very strong, but throats can be too easily bruised. The movement is to protect the owner and inform the dog, not to punish.

Off-leash training to discourage jumping is also possible. Wear a pair of well-protecting pants and have the dog stand in front of you. Training a ‘sit’ is, of course, a very good defense against jumping. But they can’t sit all the time. Jumping usually follows standing or running. So, start the exercise with the dog standing.

Watch for the body tension that precedes jumping and when you see them about to jump order a ‘sit’. If the dog jumps anyway, lift your leg slightly and bump the dog’s chest with your knee or thigh. At the same time, thrust a palm near the dog’s face away from you. Issue a sharp command: ‘off!’. (‘Down’ is a separate behavior, requiring a different word.)

The idea isn’t to slam the dog in the chest, nor to push a hand into its face. The raised knee helps to keep the dog off and puts it off balance. The hand in the face both obscures its vision and discourages a repeat jump.

If you have a partner you can work with, leash training may be useful in more stubborn cases. As the dog starts to leap, have the partner jerk sideways as you issue the ‘off!’ command. You should issue the command, not the partner. You need the dog to focus on and obey you.

Positive reinforcement techniques can be used, too. Take a treat or a favorite toy in one hand. As the dog starts to jump, hold out the treat or toy above and slightly behind the dog’s head. That distracts the dog and puts it slightly off balance. It also encourages a sit, just when the impulse was to jump.

Repetition and consistency are, as with any training, important when training ‘off’. Be patient and firm. With time, most dogs will learn to suppress this natural behavior until and unless they receive permission to jump.

May 02

Dog Training – Your Dog Around Horses

Paint miniature horse playing with a dog

Paint miniature horse playing with a dog

You’ve undoubtedly noticed that your dog is much smaller than a horse. (Well, most are anyway.) Nevertheless, most horses are much more frightened of dogs than the reverse. That creates unique problems – for dog, horse and the person who has to govern both.

In this case, unlike other animal training areas, it helps very little to start the interaction out when both animals are young. Young horses are at least as skittish as older ones, and are often accompanied by a mare. Neither is naturally fond of nor curious about puppies. To a horse, nearly everything but their owners and a few other horses are threats – at least until they’re mature.

But there are many circumstances where dogs and horses interact successfully. Whether the dog owner is a regular visitor to barns or riding schools, or whether the dog lives on the premises both can get along well.

Always keep puppies restrained around horses until they’ve learned what to do and what to avoid. A leash, for at least the first several weeks of training, is essential. And ensure that the horse is not in a position to rear or run where the dog can be injured.

Training a dog around horses involves a series of separate, but easily learned behaviors.

First, the dog has to learn to respect a boundary – whether a paddock with metal bars a dog can easily slip through, or a series of stalls, or other enclosure. Begin by using a leash and collar and make the boundary training part of a more general walk where you train the dog to follow you. Follow you, not lead you.

As the dog approaches the boundary, its sense of smell will cause it naturally to be curious about the horse. Allow the dog to approach – but not move beyond – the boundary. If it tries to breach the boundary, tug on the leash and give a sharp ‘No!’ or ‘Stop’. (‘Stay’ is a different behavior, requiring a different – and unique – command.)

Next, simultaneously really, any tendency to bark needs to be suppressed. Barking frequency varies with breed and individual temperament, but horses aren’t discriminating. When seemingly threatened, they react – and a horse’s reaction to barking is not usually something pleasant.

Dogs, like horses, are pack animals and will usually follow the lead of the alpha (leader). Unless, they’re trying to be the alpha. This drive for dominance, coupled sometimes with fear or simply the desire to warn of a threat, can lead to barking.

Reinforce your ‘top dog’ status, by a sharp jerk sideways on the leash, accompanied by a sharp verbal ‘No bark!’. Jerk sideways, not back, in order to get the dog’s attention without risking injury to the throat. Dogs have very strong neck muscles, but throats can still be too easily bruised by excessive force.

If the dog insists on barking, remove him from the area and try again another day. Don’t give up too easily, though. You don’t want to train the dog that every time he barks ‘Danger’, you obey by fleeing.

As with any dog training regimen, patience and consistency are the keys to success. Be firm, but not abusive, and execute the same unique command and physical movement regularly for each associated behavior taught.

Apr 29

Dog Training – No, YOU Sit!

English Springer and Cocker Spaniel

English Springer and Cocker Spaniel

Dogs can learn an amazing variety of behaviors, but few so fundamentally important as the ‘sit’. Beyond the basic need to establish that the human of the pair is the alpha (leader), it has a number of practical benefits.

When a dog sits he’s more attentive, making it easier to follow further commands. His eyes are on you, the alpha.

As important as what the dog is doing, is what he is not. In a sit, he’s more or less stationary. There are still those wagging tails, after all. That means he’s not chasing the cat, knocking over the furniture, running through the garden or out into the street.

But getting there can be easier or more difficult depending on breed, individual and training style. Fortunately, almost every dog can and will learn this basic move in short order.

First, take advantage of the dog’s spontaneous behavior by observing him closely. The idea is to catch him in the middle of performing the behavior and say ‘sit’ and gesture. That way a dog associates the behavior with the command. Always associate a unique hand signal and tone with the command. Praise the dog lavishly. Hold off on food treats. Save the bribes until you really need them.

At first the dog will have no idea why you’re so happy. But dogs tend to be happy when the alpha is, and upset when he is. With repetition comes understanding.

When you want to initiate a sit, stand and face the dog then issue the command, then wait for the desired response. Some will get it after the first couple of tries, some will take ten or more. Some won’t get it without further prompting. Now bring out the other techniques.

With a treat or a favored toy, face the dog and place it above his head and slightly behind the forehead, but still visible. The dog will tend to look up and stretch its chin slightly backward. When you have his attention move the treat slowly back toward the tail.

Some dogs will respond by backing up. If so, try the technique near the couch or a fence where he has nowhere to go. When the dog starts to sit, give the command and hand signal. At the completion of the sit, praise lavishly and give the reward.

Voice commands aren’t the only sound that will work. Many trainers use a ‘clicker’ – a small plastic and metal device that makes a ‘click-clack’ sound when pressed and released. Dogs can distinguish the sound over surprisingly long distances and amidst other moderate background noise.

As a last resort, for the stubborn or slow learner, give the command and at the same time push gently on the back near the tail as you lift his chin. Praise and reward anyway, even though you had to ‘force’ the sit. Take special care with young hips – don’t force a completely uncooperative dog this way.

Repetition, consistency (reward only for the proper action), and enthusiasm will quickly lead to learning the ‘sit’. Don’t be harsh, but don’t give up easily either. And never let him train you.

Apr 04

Specialized Dog Training: Assistance Dogs

working dogsOnce upon a time, seeing-eye (guide) dogs were almost the only type of assistance dog around. Over the last few decades, the field has widened considerably.

Today, dogs help the hearing impaired, the blind, wheelchair bound and bedridden. Others simply provide a new kind of therapy for prisoners, burn victims, the clinically depressed or merely home bound.

Training starts before birth by careful selection. It’s no accident that certain breeds tend to be more useful for these roles than others. German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and a few others are favored both for intelligence and temperament.

Even within breeds some individual dogs are more keen on training than others. They display not only the ability to perform a simple task on command, but a confidence and eagerness that’s essential to the job.

After a year of in-house training and bonding with a person who also receives special training, the dog ‘graduates’ to the next level. Then, depending on the intended role, they receive an additional two months to two years of intensive, specialized instruction.

Dogs in these programs learn everything from simple barking to alert the deaf to a door knock or telephone ring to fetching containers of food or drink, opening doors, and – of course – providing vision-information to the sightless.

A seeing-eye guide dog may lead their blind companion around obstacles on the street or at the mall. The hearing-guide dog may alert their friend to an oncoming fire truck. The wheelchair assistant may even help the occupant off the floor or into bed.

These special animals are trained to stay focused in crowds and deal with varying environments. Some go to urban areas where they’re used to see a curb as a boundary, others find homes in rural areas where they learn that turning on a garden hose is more important than chasing a fox from the property. Try teaching that to Chauncy the terrier some time! Possible, but not easy.

Besides the traditional sit, stay, come these working dogs must learn to jump on command to deliver a cup of water without spilling to a paraplegic. They turn on or off lights, change the volume on the stereo, and bring bags containing medicines. Some are even trained to recognize and react to heart attacks and strokes and call 911!

Learning such beyond-the-norm behaviors takes months of dedicated concentration by both trainer and dog. Patience beyond what most individuals possess is required to teach even the most willing students.

Dogs learn by cue and repetition. Though they can learn to recognize sounds and grasp simple meanings, they don’t possess even the three-year old humans understanding of language. Teaching them to associate the sound ‘water’ with ‘fetch me a cup’ is many times more difficult than for the average toddler.

Yet these amazing creatures, with the guidance of their talented and dedicated trainers, learn to carry out a range of behavior well beyond their peers. So, when you see one accompanying its partner, respect the sign they carry that says ‘Working. Please don’t distract’.

Just give a silent bow of admiration to these hard-working dogs and the dedicated people who train them.

Mar 08

Dog Training – Training the Trainer

11 week old Sheltie puppy copying her trainer.

11 week old Sheltie puppy copying her trainer.

Dog training philosophies vary as much as dogs and trainers do. Most professionals agree, however, that a large part of training dogs consists of training the trainers.

Whether those trainers are pet owners or professionals they need many of the same attributes. Most dogs are neither stupid nor intelligent in the same way humans are. But whatever their natural aptitude they require and benefit from consistency, repetition and a patient style of guidance.

Dog trainers need to have or develop an attitude of restraint, calm and focus. Not everyone has, nor can acquire, the patience to carry out a training regime that takes weeks to months or longer. Training is sometimes as short as an hour per day, often as long as all day, broken up into shorter segments. Taking up that effort is a task not all are equipped to master.

Trainers need to be patient, firm and fair not only with dogs but also with their owners. Honest answers to legitimate questions breeds the respect essential to successful training. A willingness to explain in clear, patient terms what training will involve and to set out the goals of training is vital.

Variations in breeds, individual temperament and owners themselves makes guaranteeing results impossible. But before training begins, trainers need to communicate answers to questions owners may not know enough even to ask. Realism is the only way to properly set expectations.

Dog trainers need to learn a substantial amount about canine veterinary medicine. While they make no pretense to be vets, they need to recognize the external possible signs of hip dysplasia, bacterial infections, diabetes and other diseases and conditions. Training can only proceed with a healthy dog.

Trainers need to learn safety procedures, both for the sake of the dog and the trainer. Even friendly, well-behaved dogs can become excited during play. Dogs are emotional creatures and once their hormones begin to flare, they often take several minutes at best to calm down again.

During those periods of excitement, teeth are often bared and the dog is moving around erratically. It’s easy for a trainer’s hand to get in the path, or for the dog to injure itself over a leash or training block.

Trainers have to develop acute powers of observation and communication. Trainers aren’t merely dog lovers. Though, they are almost always that. They’re individuals who have or acquire the ability to carefully observe dog behavior, even subtle cues and clues. That observation has to be understood to the point that reacting becomes automatic.

Dogs will often signal when they are about to bolt, or to vomit grass, or exhibit a slew of other behaviors. A good trainer has a keen eye and the knowledge of how to use those observations to maximize the effectiveness of training.

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers in the U.S. provides guidelines and training for trainers that help keep trainers and owners satisfied with the results. Not all professional dog trainers are members, and not being a member doesn’t mean a professional is unqualified. Nevertheless, the organization is a good place to start to learn more about dog trainers and their methods.

The APDT can be contacted by mail, phone, or at their website.

Website:

Home

Phone:
1-800-PET-DOGS
(1-800-738-3647)

Address:
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers
150 Executive Center Drive Box 35
Greenville, SC 29615

 

Mar 02

The Best Dog Training Diet

dinner timeNothing is more essential to good training than good health. And the foundation of good health is a good diet.

Depending on your budget you may or may not be able to feed your dog a larger proportion of fresh meat, but at least be prepared to spend enough for a good dry food. Here are a few things to look for…

All dog foods are labeled with the ingredients in order by proportion. That is, the material that forms the largest percentage is listed first, followed by the second and then others.

One of the attributes that makes cheap dog food less preferable is the high percentage of ‘waste’ animal parts. When you see ‘by products’ on the label, it’s better to avoid these brands. If it does appear on higher quality dog food, which is rare, it will be listed near the bottom indicating a small proportion.

Those ‘by products’ consist of parts that were not considered usable for human consumption. That fact doesn’t by itself make the product dangerous, but the lower quality will have a long term effect on coats, muscles and bones, and overall health.

Just as one indicator, dogs with healthy coats (particularly, long-haired breeds) will look shinier and shed less. Assuming proper bathing and brushing habits, of course.

Some experts put the proper ratio of meat, vegetables and starch at about roughly 40%, 30%, 30% respectively.

Common meats used are chicken, lamb and beef. These provide readily digestible sources of protein – essential to healthy coats, muscles, etc.

Vegetables provide minerals and vitamins that help produce proper hormone and enzyme types and amounts, as well as compounds for good bone health and other functions. Carrots and squash, for example are both excellent for almost all dogs.

The starch content is often provided by brown or white rice. Either is an excellent source of carbohydrates. These compounds are broken down in the body to form the basis for energy and cell repair.

As with any food substance, some dogs have special conditions that make special diets necessary. Many Golden Retrievers, for example, are sensitive to wheat products. Corn meal is hard to digest for some dogs.

Look for these on the label and discuss with your vet whether it’s necessary to avoid them. Some indicators are soft stools, excessive scratching and frequent gas.

Some dogs will find dry dog food more enjoyable if prepared with a little water and microwaved for about 30 seconds. Feed dry at least occasionally, though, to help scrub teeth and gums.

Needless to say, go easy on the treats. Even quality treats tend to be high in fat content – one of the reasons the dogs enjoy them so much. One or two per day isn’t harmful, but go for the quality brands.

The price differential for good food is sometimes considerable – with higher quality dog food often twice the cost. But considering the effects on health you’ll likely make up for it in lower vet bills, or at least a healthier dog.

The shine of the coat, the clarity of the eyes and other less obvious indicators will show in the long run. And, in the final analysis, the health of your dog is priceless.