Dog Pod - Episode 15
Dog Calming Code with Doggy Dan

Dog Pod - Episode 15 - Dog Calming Code with Doggy Dan.jpg__PID:5dab1de2-48cf-4071-9a9f-563aa96d517a

Welcome to another episode of DogPod, brought to you by Dog Cloud. This special Anzac weekend episode features our guest from New Zealand, Doggy Dan, the creator of The Dog Calming Code. With over 57,000 people trained through his online courses, Dan shares his unique, gentle, and effective approach to dog training.

Key Highlights:

1. Introduction to Doggy Dan: Learn about Doggy Dan’s background, his work on the Real Housewives of Auckland, and his successful online dog training programs.

2. Philosophy of Dog Training: Discover the importance of leadership, trust, and respect in dog training without using force, fear, or bribery.

3. Humanizing Dogs: Discuss the challenges of treating dogs like humans and the impact on training and behavior.

4. Common Dog Training Issues: Explore solutions for common problems like barking, leash pulling, and dog aggression.

5. Energy and Calmness: Understand the role of the owner’s energy in influencing a dog's behavior and the importance of maintaining a calm and assertive demeanor.

6. Practical Training Tips: Get practical advice on training puppies and older dogs, including the use of timeout and redirecting unwanted behaviors.

7. Parenting and Dog Training: Insights from Dan's book, "What the Dogs Taught Me About Being a Parent," and the parallels between raising children and training dogs.

Why Listen?

This episode offers invaluable insights for dog owners, from beginners to experienced trainers. Doggy Dan’s methods emphasize a calm, respectful approach that enhances the relationship between dogs and their owners. Whether you're dealing with a new puppy or an older dog with ingrained habits, this episode provides practical tips and a deeper understanding of dog behavior and training.

Listen to episode Here

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Podcast transcription

Scott: All right. Welcome back to another episode of DogPod, brought to you by Dog Cloud. Today, it's probably a pretty special weekend. I actually should mention that it's Anzac weekend, and it's a little bit fitting. We've got someone from Australia, and we've got a special guest from New Zealand, our Kiwi friends across the ditch.I want to introduce Doggy Dan. He's known as the creator of The Dog Calming Code. He's helped over 57,000 people successfully train their dogs through his online courses with the simplest, gentlest, and most logical way to change their dog's behavior. I've been inside the course myself, I love it. The content's amazing. Dan's been featured as a celebrity dog trainer on the Real Housewives of Auckland and there are a few stories there. Over a hundred thousand people from all around the world subscribe to his blog. He's written numerous articles, keynote speaker. Today, we'll talk a little bit about some of the stuff from his book, too, which is titled What the Dogs Taught Me About Being a Parent. Dan, welcome and happy Anzac weekend, if you can call it a happy thing. It's a fairly significant weekend for a lot of people in Australia and New Zealand. How did you guys celebrate?

Doggy Dan: We were actually at a festival, something called the Anzac Spirit. It's a festival near us and went there with my wife and children. I made some beautiful connections with some lovely people. Beautiful to be here, Scott. Good to be chatting with you. [crosstalk] I always love to chat about dogs.

Scott: It's great to have you on. Thanks for being with us. There's a lot to talk about. I've been really impressed with the content of your course, but I guessprobably, more importantly, is the overarching philosophical approach. It's probably something I'd love to chat about today because I think a lot of people with dogs understand the nature of the leadership they should try and have with their dog. One of the things I'm seeing more being in the dog business, ourselves, is so many people treat their dogs like humans now, like family. It becomes that really difficult thing where it makes it very hard for them to train their dog to behave the way they want to, and they try and make them such loving members of the family. How do they balance that? It's probably a good place to start. How do you balance that love? People are giving them human names now and they get all the amazing merchandise. It goes around the dog.

Doggy Dan: Brian, the dog. David, Alan, I love talking about dogs' names It's a good place to start. My mind is already jumping back to my book, What the Dogs Taught Me About Being a Parent. I guess the thing about that book is we've all been children at some point in time. We can all remember what it was like to have some- whether it was a teacher at school who is in control. We kind of love them, partly because they were in control, they kept control, and they were directing the class. We've all had adults who maybe shoutedand screamed. We didn't love them so much, and everything in between. We've all been children and many of us have been adults who are listening to this. Many of us, maybe being even parents, and many, if not everyone's, got a dog.There's a lot of similarities, we can draw out from being a child, being a parent. Here's the one, which jumps out at me. I guess just because you love your child and you give them lots of things that they want doesn't mean you're a great parent. It doesn't mean you ain't going to have big, serious issues. In fact, you could say that the more you just give what your child wants, the bigger the problem's going to be. The more you spoil your child, we all know this. the spoiled, little whatever. We know that with children, you can't just love. "Oh, Little Billy wants some more ice cream. Little Billy doesn't want to go to bed. Little Billy wants to watch his iPad in bed with his ice cream and shouts at the top of his voice because he wants chocolate on the top." If we take that analogy and apply it to dogs, just giving what the child or the dog wants isn't enough. That is half the problem we've got with these dogs. They get what they want, and then we have major issues. I was sharing this story with somebody else the other day and I think it summarizes a lot of what I do. I've worked with 3,000 people, like I say, in a one-on-one capacity at their homes. Fifty-seven thousand people online have used my program, but this is one story that really stands out. The lady rang me on the phone. Said she had a problem. It's a small dog. I think it was a dachshund or something. She said, "The dog is barking at night. We can't stop it. We've done everything." I thought, "Okay. Describe the situation. Are you on your own?" "No, my husband and I, the dog sleeps in the bed with us and he actually sleeps on my husband's pillow, sort of, on his head because that's where he likes to be. He barks and we try and shut him up, but he won't. He's barking at any noise. Two o'clock in the morning, three o'clock, when he's waking up at 5. We've tried this, we've tried that." I thought, "Okay." She talked and talked about all the things they've done. I just stopped her and said, "Margaret, can I just tell you the real problem you have?" She said, "What is that?" I said, "The real problem that you've got is your husband has a dog on his head." She stopped. She went, "I don't fully understand." I said, "Margaret, the real problem is your husband has got a dog on his head." She said, "Oh, you think that's kind of [inaudible]?" I said, "Margaret, imagine that was a German shepherd lying on your husband's head. It's not good. It's not right, just because the dog wants to be there." That's the state we're at. People don't even see that's a problem. [crosstalk] That's what I don't want.

Scott: It's like your teenage kids sleep on your head.

Doggy Dan: Yeah, exactly.

Scott: And ridiculous.

Doggy Dan: As humans, we don't make these connections between what we're doing and how the dog's responding or behaving. It's actually quite comical, to be honest.

Scott: Yeah, it is. Look, I'm guilty of it, all sorts of things, as well. Sure, we'll get into that. Let's backtrack a little bit because you have an interesting background. You were a civil engineer, police officer, maths teacher, selling [inaudible]. How did you end up as a successful dog trainer?

Doggy Dan: I had all these jobs because I always wanted to help people. Even building bridges, I guess, as a civil engineer, I thought, "Oh, that's helping people." I just did enjoy practical helping, talking to people, using my brain and my hands. There are no jobs in civil engineering. Maths teacher, I thought, "Gosh, I'm not going to last the distance with all these kids." I could do all these jobs, but, finally, I thought I wanted to find a passion before I died. I could do the job, it was paying okay, I was fairly happy, but I wasn't waking up in the morning going, "This is my purpose in life and I'll die happy if I do this."I went to a careers adviser and she sat me down and went through a bit of a mental technique for seeing what my key memories were as a young boy. Even though we never had a dog, because my mom was terrified of dogs, she spotted that dogs kept popping out all through my life, from the age of 2 or 3, 5, 7, 8, 9. When I go back in my memory, that's what comes out. I played with dogs before school. I used to go visit my grandparents who had a dog and I played with the dog over there. We had 7 dogs that are on our street which all began with the letter B, Bernie, Baron, Barney, Ben, Billy. I just remember it, dogs. She said, "Dogs is your thing." I've always been with these people, I've been a bit of a dog with a bone. When I go for it, I go for it big style.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: I just started devouring as much information, techniques, and methods as I could, and finally came up with this one.

Scott: How did you formulate your philosophy and approach to dog training? I think the alpha style training, some people get very confused by that. It will be worth maybe explaining that.

Doggy Dan: Yeah, totally.

Scott: I think a lot of people confuse it for an over-dominant approach, and you're the exact opposite of that, I would describe, right?

Doggy Dan: Yeah. I'm as gentle with the dogs as anybody and same with my kids. I don't smoke my kids. I don't smoke my dogs as a training technique. I don't do shock collars, prong collars, I don't use sprays. I actually have a philosophy that the greatest trainers use the least amount of force. The greatest trainers are not using shock collars. That's my humble opinion. When you are absolutely connected to the animal that you can communicate to the animal and bring through that love and that deep connection like Dr. Dolittle, and you can laugh, but it's possible. I believe anything is possible. We don't have to be putting a current through our dog's throat, through the neck. The flip side of that is I don't believe bribery and corruption, and treats is the key because it's not with children. Chocolate treats, and sweets, and giving kids iPads as a reward only gets you so far as a parent as more to it.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: I go, "Oh, well, surely that's going to be similar with dogs." When you look at the best dog trainers in the world or the ones that I respect, I see a lot of similarities there, you know.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: Monty Roberts, the horse whisperer, he is one of the horse whisperers, but the best one's Buck, the horse whisperer. They're not using force to control these huge animals. They're using the mind, heart, energy, and body language. Horses, as my wife says, it's 500 kilograms of feedback.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: You can't manipulate that quite so easily. In the horse world, the greatest horse whisperers really have learned to connect without using force.

Scott: Yeah, it's brilliant.

Doggy Dan: You can see it. That's my direction. When it comes to this method, it's based around Jan Fennell. She's the dog listener. It very much looks at leadership as not being something where you beat your chest and you scream and shout, but you win the dog's mind.I often think the best analogy is a little old lady, just because they are generally not as physically strong as your 28-year-old male school teacher. That older female teacher at school who could control the whole class, she'd say, "Put your pens down. Be quiet, put your books away." She just had control. It wasn't through fear, dominance, or chest-beating. She's won their hearts and minds, and the best ones didn't even threaten. They were loving, kind, everyone was onside. It's that approach.How do you establish that? It comes back to trust, respect, love, and making sure that the dog knows that you've got their best interests at heart. There are a number of things which you can do which says, "I am in charge." It's kind of being the decision-maker, the one in charge, a bit like a parent, at the end of the day, but you still respect and love the children and the dogs. You don't hurt them. You're making the big decisions, just like in our house.My wife and I make the big decisions, not the kids. Same with the dogs.

Scott: Yeah, you're the ones creating the boundaries.

Doggy Dan: And making the big decisions, whether to go that way or that way, whether to jump in the car or go and get an ice cream, or whether to go to the beach or not go to the beach, all those big decisions. People end up in trouble when around the house, in particular, they let the dogs make all these decisions, then lo and behold, they don't want the dogs to make these decisions.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: Dogs go, "Well, I think that's a problem. I don't like that person walking so close to our fence and I'm going to bark at them." You can't turn it off, because at the end of the day, here are the basics of the philosophy. The dogs, when they live with you, it's not like a shoal of fish where everyone's equal. There's ones at the top and there are ones at the bottom.

Scott: Hmm, yeah.

Doggy Dan: That's how it is.

Scott: Yes. [crosstalk] [inaudible]

Doggy Dan: Just like a family. I'm a dad, make the big decisions. The families who got real problems with the kids are probably the ones where it is like a shoal of fish. Dad has got no more control over the kids, no more authority, or all right to make a decision as the 6-year-old child. They're the ones that have the trouble because nobody's listening, nobody's respecting, nobody's loving.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: The method comes back to how do you actually establish leadership with the dogs without using force fear aggression.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: Some of it is so simple, as you're probably experiencing in the website, you watch it [crosstalk] and you got, "Oh, my gosh. I have no idea."

Scott: Yeah, absolutely. It's a difficult thing and I don't think we should go into this over the Podcast call or here either, but your 5 golden rules are very simple to apply. One of the dangers of being on a Podcast, we got very limited time and people will be either listening to it, but we don't have any dogs here to demonstrate. I won't ask you to elaborate on it too much because the devil's in the detail. A little bit of information can be dangerous. People need to fully see it and see the reactions of the dogs, and spot the behavior that you walk through. I've found it incredibly good. Just some very simple practical things I'm pleased to say, my dog got the feeding bowl thing right. I'm on the right track with all that stuff.

Doggy Dan: Awesome.

Scott: A lot of good things are happening with that. I'll actually just plug the sites too because people need to check this out. If they're having any issues with their dog, you got to go do these courses. It's so good. You got theonlinedogtrainer.com and you've got dogtraineracademy.org. Is there difference [crosstalk] between [inaudible]?

Doggy Dan: Yeah. So, theonlinedogtrainer.com, that's T-H-E, the, in case people found my accent a bit weird. The theonlinedogtrainer.com is where you can go and basically experience all of my videos, everything, all the courses, I think there are 6 courses. You can experience them all and there's a trial there. You can try it for $1, have a look at it. If you like it, stay on. If you don't, just cancel. I don't mind.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: I'd rather you went in, "Oh my gosh. This is what I've been looking for. This guy is the real deal. This is gold." Fifty-seven thousand people have used this program for a reason because it works. We've got thousands of testimonials of people who went, "I just did that tiny thing." There are hundreds of videos, but you don't need all of them. That's why we start you off at the starter. Just put the basics in place. [crosstalk] That's [inaudible].

Scott: Yeah, I like that what you have is you have pre-lewd intro course almost, that sets that foundation for it all. We've got an 8-month-old Australian stumpy tail cattle dog crossed with the kelpie, a high-energy dog.

Doggy Dan: Wow.

Scott: Yeah. She's been going at it and barking around the backyard. It's mainly birds that set her off. One neighbor's been a bit funny, but most of them are pretty good. There are dogs everywhere, too. One dog barks over there and they all set each other off. Even with that little technique that you teach there, within a day or two, it's just so different. It's really quite simple to implement. You just got to put the energy in.I've actually got a couple of questions from our- [crosstalk]

Doggy Dan: Yeah. Can I just jump in quickly that last question?

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: Hold on that. The other question you asked was the dogtraineracademy.org. [crosstalk]

Scott: Oh, sorry. I've got a question, the difference.

Doggy Dan: Yeah. That one is for people who've pretty much watched the videos in theonlinedogtrainer got, "Oh my gosh, this is amazing. I want to work with dogs. I would have become a dog trainer."

Scott: Right, okay.

Doggy Dan: After loads of people asked me, "Can I become a dog trainer? Can I train as an understudy?"

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: I decided I'm going to just do this. I videoed, literally, consultations so you can actually watch me going into a consult. I'm only there for 2 hours, the whole thing unedited, and I walk away.

Scott: Right.

Doggy Dan: It's like Doggy Dan TV show, basically...

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: ... But without the editing. Even my mistakes, I left them in. You can watch the whole thing. Lots more, you can become a dog trainer. There is a lady in the U.S. who's doing a quarter of a million dollars U.S., a year [crosstalk] and she never had trained dogs before.

Scott: Using your org link? Fantastic.

Doggy Dan: She had never trained dogs before until she went to the dogtraineracademy.org.

Scott: Yeah, that's fantastic.

Doggy Dan: That makes me smile because she is a beautiful, lovely, middle-aged lady. She's knocking it out of the ballpark by helping people.

Scott: Let me start with this. What are the most common issues you see people come to you with all the time? Is that the excessive barking? Is that the destructive behavior? What are the top 2 or 3 common things that you just see all the time, consistently, with the way dog owners continually raise their dogs?

Doggy Dan: The big ones are probably barking, which obviously could be barking the dog's left alone, barking when you're driving down the road in the car, barking when it's walking down the streets. There's lots of [inaudible], but just boisterous behavior, barking, noise. Pulling on the leash is quite a big one. Not coming when called, that's almost just general obedience. Dog aggression is another one.

Scott: Okay, excellent.

Doggy Dan: People's aggression's way less than dog aggression. They're probably the big ones.

Scott: When you go about identifying the source of the aggravation, I really like the psychological approach that you bring to this, and this can probably drift into your parenting style and stuff with kids, as well. How does your brain work? What do you look for first, and how do you go about identifying it? What could people take away as a bit of a framework?

Doggy Dan: Sure. Here's the framework of my psychology, the way I see the world. If you think of the world, these dogs, they are beautiful; they're equal to us, in my opinion. They're not lesser, they're not more, but they are different.I can show you a calculator and I could explain to you what a calculator does. You will understand it. Dog, probably not. They just don't live in this human world; they don't speak English the same way as we do. They're always gonna be a little bit confused of the man in the dark who comes knocking on the door and delivers a box with meat in it and [inaudible]. "What's he doing?" The dog doesn't understand these things, or why we suddenly start shouting into a mobile phone, getting all stressed. The dog doesn't understand there's another person on the other end that we're communicating with. Why do we suddenly start screaming at the television?

Scott: Because the footy's on.

Doggy Dan: Because the footy's on. Think of it like that. This world is a little bit confusing for them. There are some things they can't figure out, that that man in the high vis vest, pushing the groceries with that trolley with that 4 wheels on it, making all that noise, is coming towards them. It's simply a man who works for the council who's in a high vis vest, who's just been shopping and is going to put the stuff in the cart. To a dog, it's weird; it's strange. Never mind of the bag, the man's got a big, bushy beard and an umbrella. We understand that the dogs don't.There's a lot of things, where the dogs are having to make decisions, and depending on the temperament of the dog, if the dog is super confident, super relaxed, super easygoing, chilled out, "Hey, I have no idea what the guy is doing, coming towards me with that trolley in a big beard and umbrella. No worries, you'll be okay." When you have a dog who's trying to make a decision about that who's nervous because of that DNA, how they were raised, they were runt of the litter, or they were attacked by another dog, that's the story. I don't care about the story. I'm just saying where we are right now, you got a dog who is scared, nervous, first line of processes, the dog, if it's going to make the decision, makes the wrong decision. This was where the psychology is all about. Rather than trying to retrain the dog with cheese or a shock collar not to make that decision, how about we actually want to tell you today about this rather than saying, "if you see a man with a trolley," how about we make it so the dog just looks to you because you're in charge, and then you say, just through your body language, just ignore.

Scott: Okay. Yeah.

Doggy Dan: And you go. It is that easy. I guarantee it's that easy. All the people who learned this method as a dog trainer got, "Oh my gosh, it works." Fifty-seven thousand people on theonlinedogtrainer got, "Oh my gosh, it's working," because dogs can read the body language. They will only take any notice of it if they see you as the one in charge. Most dogs are going, "Get behind me, owner. I'm in charge here because I sleep on your head in the bed and I do all these things. I'm in charge of how I'll protect you from this man coming." No amount of chicken, cheese, or bacon is going to get the dog to come back. This is real serious, life-and-death stuff to your dog.In my opinion, most of the dog training, the approach is completely wrong. We're trying to retrain dogs who think they're in charge. If we went about it civil, what don't we say to the dogs, "You're not in charge."

Scott: Yeah. "Just look to me." I find it so fascinating. So much of this is the energy of the owner, right?

Doggy Dan: Yeah.

Scott: You talked a lot about the energy. Can you expand on that a little bit for us? Watching your videos, the really gentle, calm approach you have, it's almost spellbinding, the way the dogs respond to it, isn't it? What you're talking about there is they really do just look to you for direction, and "If you're calm, I'll be calm, too." [crosstalk] Am I sounding it outright?

Doggy Dan: It sounds too easy. Yeah, totally. The story I remember as a kid, I keep going back to my mind is when I was about 6 years old, because I was holding my dad's hand, he was up there and he's not that tall. I was a very little boy. I was in England, walking in the woods with my dad. We came out of the woods and there was a church in a clearing. There are all these gravestones around the church. The wind was blowing around leaves around the gravestones. I remember going, "This is not good. This is horror movie stuff. I've seen this church, gravestones, leaves, wind. Uh oh." I remember looking up at my dad and he was just yawning and just "Oh." That's all it is. That's all it needed. I still remember it to this day. He didn't say a word. I didn't ask him. I knew we were okay. Somehow, that memory stuck with me. That is the power of trusting somebody explicitly, implicitly, I'm not sure what the word is, and just body language. He was fine.I think I forgot the question you were asking.Scott: It's the energy and how the dog responds to that calming nature. So much of the training for anyone listening is all going to come back to themselves.

Doggy Dan: Yeah, same as being a good parent. It's easy to blame it on the child. That's the situation you're in, but what can you do? What can you change as a parent, as a dog owner, which will transform your dog?I guess the opposite of that situation is, I did work with a lady who had a dog. She said the dogs got very stressed and did weird things like weed on the bed. I said, "Okay." What was happening when the dog just weed on the bed? Did she just do it? The first reaction is, "Yeah. Yes, she just jumped on the bed and started wee-ing."

Scott: Yeah, there was no reason.

Doggy Dan: No reason at all. I thought, "Okay. Well, let's dig a bit deeper." This is that blindness that I'm talking about that people can't see nothing. I said to her, "What were you doing?" She said, "Well, I was getting ready to go out because I'm a jazz singer. I was singing and I was late. I was actually running around the house because I was looking for my shoes and I could only find one. I had one shoe and I didn't have the other one." I said, "Okay, so you're running around panicking?" "Oh God, yeah. I'm screaming for my shoe. I'm shouting to my husband going, 'Where's my shoe?! I'm going to be late! I'm gonna be late!'" I said, "Okay, so you're racing around the house, screaming for a red shoe because you're going to be late for your jazz singing. Your deer dog gets on the bed, looking at you probably terrified, going, 'I have no idea. I have absolutely no idea what's going on.'" I don't know whether the dog peed itself out of fear or just marking because they'll do stuff like this just to say, "Hey, I'm here, I'm in charge," but it's connected. That's the opposite of being calm and it solves the problem. Go crazy, hyper, and you create all sorts of problems.

Scott: It makes total sense. Hey, I got a couple questions from our listeners. Probably now is good timing for one. Mel on the Gold Coast asks, "What's with dogs that paw at their water bowl? Is it a territorial thing? They seem to only do it when they're either around other dogs." What's with dogs in the way they paw at their bowl. I'm sure there's probably multiple reasons.

Doggy Dan: You know, you've got me there, Scott. People can see, this is a genuine show. We haven't planned it because that's a question I've really- I'm good at making stuff up. [crosstalk]

Scott: It's a territorial thing and we had an 8-week-old puppy come over on the weekend just to socialize a little bit with ours. My wife's brother's named the dog Bruce, and they were playing a little bit together in the backyard. Ours is probably being a bit heavy-handed puppy, roughhousing, and stuff like that. He's just pawing at the bowl and we've seen it before with some other dogs, but it was just an interesting one.

Doggy Dan: Look, I'm not even going to speculate. It could be 2, 3, 4 things. for it doesn't [crosstalk]

Doggy Dan: Yeah, absolutely. It doesn't feel like a massive behavioral issue.

Scott: [crosstalk] I know.

Doggy Dan: More of an instinctive thing.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: You know how dogs will do a lot of instinctive things, such as, often they'll go around circling in their beds and stuff. People have a theory, which I can imagine, it's to do with them checking for snakes or stuff like that, that they kind of check the bed out before they lie down in the long grass. It feels like that behavior, but I honestly don't know.

Scott: I've seen it in the dog parks and stuff, as well. I guess the only concern for some people might be, obviously, if they got a dog and maybe they bring a second dog into the home and it happens, perhaps, and they're both out of water, and their dogs dehydrate while they're at work for a day, that could be a concern, obviously.

Doggy Dan: Oh, you mean the dog is literally emptying the bowl of the water?

Scott: Yeah, pawing in it, knocking the bowl over. [crosstalk]

Doggy Dan: Got it. A lot of dogs seem to do that for fun.

Scott: Yeah. [crosstalk] That makes sense.

Doggy Dan: I've seen a lot of dogs do that for fun, which is a tricky one.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: You'd have to figure out a way of putting a box over the top of it so the dog couldn't get his claws in, but that's [crosstalk] tricky.

Scott: Yeah, it's hard. Or you just get one of the more advanced feeders or whatever it might be.

Doggy Dan: Yeah.

Scott: I got another good question here, too, and this is an important one. I've gone through this recently and you've got kids, so you'll know a lot about this. Carrie from Brisbane, they got a first-time puppy coming with 3 young kids. They've got a spoodle, so she's asking, "Any tips and advice you have for particularly spoodles' specific training, but with young kids?" What tips and advice do you have with training a new dog into a home with kids?

Doggy Dan: Okay. Three things, before I forget them. The first thing is honestly, hands down, just go to theonlinedogtrainer.com. Join up, pay a dollar, do it before you get your puppy. There's so much information in there that you want to get into your brain, so it's automatic before your puppy turns up. Here's the thing, the day the puppy turns up, you will not want to be sitting in front of a computer screen watching videos.

Scott: Yeah, agreed.

Doggy Dan: You want to do the training before you get a puppy, just like before you get a newborn baby. [crosstalk]

Scott: Do the homework.

Doggy Dan: You want to know what you may be doing.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: The program in that is super powerful. I've got my puppy, Moses. It's called Project Moses. It's Moses, videoing him from 8 weeks right through to 8 months. The second thing is spoodle puppy training isn't that much different from all the other puppy training, especially when the puppies also look a small and [crosstalk] cute. They would mouth and bite, pee, poo, and dump, and sleep through the night.

Scott: Yeah, great.

Doggy Dan: The issues are all the same, the solutions are all the same. Any tips is the third thing. It's tricky because one of the key things is to actually start treating the puppy the way you want to train the dog later on. You want to actually start with what I call the dog, "straight away". Some dog trainers will actually suggest you do things that you don't want the dog to do later on. I'm talking about things like even mouthing. Train the puppy to mouth you. When it gets about 10, 12 weeks old, start telling the puppy not to mouth you. I'm like, "Oh, hang on. Why?"

Scott: Right. Yeah, [crosstalk] that makes sense.

Doggy Dan: I understand the theory is that you train bite inhibition. A number of people end up with training the puppy to bite, and then they can't stop her. It just becomes a bit of it.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: Just redirect the puppies biting onto stuff that you want them to bite.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: The other thing is to make sure your puppy does have a safe place to go. These puppies are so cute and adorable, but they get so tired so quickly, especially, if you have very young kids.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: It's just not fair for those puppies, it just terrified, traumatized, [crosstalk] exhausted.

Scott: Yeah, it's really good advice. A crate, or even just under a couch?[crosstalk]

Doggy Dan: Crate, box, room, anywhere where the children are not allowed. When the puppy goes there, children are not allowed there. [crosstalk]

Scott: Yeah, that's right.

Doggy Dan: You watch after 10, 15 minutes of playing, and it will be 10 or 15, puppy goes, "I'm done. I want to sleep."

Scott: [crosstalk] It's awesome, yeah.

Doggy Dan: If you leave the puppy, puppy will sleep, but it's not fair for the puppy to be constantly grabbed, pulled, pushed, and pulled.

Scott: Yeah, I've had that issue myself, Dan. I've got obviously the 8, 9-month-old puppy, but I've got a 2-year-old, just turned 2 last Friday... [crosstalk]

Doggy Dan: Oh, congrats.

Scott: ... And a 5-year-old turning 6 next month. The dogs are asleep on the bed, kids are going over annoying her, wakes her up. It's like "Ahh!" I found the hardest part with all of this is you're trying to train kids to train the dog. Probably the hardest challenge I've had is trying to teach the kids what needs to happen to be able to give consistency with the puppy. That's been the biggest challenge for me. If you got any tips around that stuff?

Doggy Dan: Well, you got to train your kids first.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: I've already joked after you.

Scott: No, [crosstalk] I'm still working on it.

Doggy Dan: I'll be honest, this doesn't help people who've got 2-year-old children and a new puppy turning up, but that is the lethal.

Scott: I think it's hard.

Doggy Dan: That's the worst combo... [crosstalk]

Scott: Yeah, I think.

Doggy Dan: ... Because what you got is a 2-year-old who's basically got no empathy but can walk, and falls over on the dog when they get to the bed. They walk over to the bed, one and a half years old, 2 years old, flops on top of it, sticks its head in the dog's head face.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: Look, I'm just pointing out, especially, if you've got a large breed dog, like a German shepherd or something who's going to be, by 8 months, there's gonna be a big, powerful jaw.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: There is a point where you have to go, "Look just for the next 6 months, 2 years, we'd just have to keep an eye. We have to be vigilant." You just have to be practical because you can't teach a 2-year-old not to do A, B, and C.

Scott: No, it's really hard.

Doggy Dan: Same as you can't say to a 2-year-old, "Don't do near the fire," it doesn't work. You got to put a fireguard up or keep an eye on them.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: There's that practical nature of this until they're of a certain age. There are some basic stuff that you can train, try and get the kids to call the dog over to them rather than constantly going up to the dog. That is super powerful.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: "Leave the doggy, leave him alone. If you want him to come, call him. If he comes, cool..."

Scott: Yeah. [crosstalk] I love that.

Doggy Dan: "...If he doesn't, leave him alone. He doesn't want to come."

Scott: Yeah, that's good. What about feeding dogs, particularly when you got your, young kids, too? I think a lot of people worry about the whole nip and the bite, and stuff, and we kind of moved beyond the little nippy, bitey stage now. Kids learned a couple of lessons about that. Tell me if it's the wrong thing, but every now and then, not all the time, we'll get the kids to control the dog, sit, put the dog bowl down, get out of the way, dog to wait, and then tell the dog to go and eat. We've been doing stuff like that, just so that [crosstalk] the dog knows the kids are still giving him instructions, just like we are. Is that the right approach?

Doggy Dan: Yeah. I've got to be careful giving advice around food and children. [crosstalk]

Scott: Of course, yes. Absolutely. I totally get that disclaimer. [crosstalk]

Doggy Dan: Don't try any of this at home. Basically, the parents have to take responsibility for every interaction because the lethal combination is children, dogs, and food.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: For example, when it comes to birthday parties around here, we stick our dogs in the back of my car and we drive it up under a tree. It's very cool where we live and wind blows through the cut, so it's totally safe, or we put them in my office with the air conditioning on.

Scott: Yep.

Doggy Dan: We keep them separate because children, dogs, and food, it's going to go- But around that food bowl, when parents are present, the key thing is that the parents keep as much control so the dog feels like the parent is doing it, and then leave the child into, as much of the feeding is, you feel is safe. It's so different with a 5, 6-month-old little spoodle, compared to an 18-month-old male [crosstalk] German shepherd dog [crosstalk] who's starving, loves his food, and hasn't quite got the manners down to tee. Once these are good rules and good training, everything, especially on the children, has to come back to the parents' responsibility. [crosstalk]

Scott: Yeah, 100%. We only do it supervised, as well, of course. We always stand there, as well. I wouldn't leave the kids do it unsupervised.

Doggy Dan: Yeah. [crosstalk] The other thing about that is I don't even really get my children to do much more than feed the dogs. I literally say to them, "This is all you do. Tell the dogs to sit, put the balls down." I keep an eye on them.

Scott: Yeah, and that's it?

Doggy Dan: Okay, that's it. My kids are 9 and 10 years old. That gives you an idea of what I'm trying to get them to do, because there's no point in seeing if my kids could take the food bowl away from the dogs. What?

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: It's only going to go one way; if it works, it works. So what? Well done. What are you going to do, make a video and post it on YouTube? No. If it goes wrong, what are you trying-

Scott: What do you expect?

Doggy Dan: What were you trying to do, anyway?

Scott: Yeah, that's right.

Doggy Dan: There's a lot of things in our minds. It's almost like an acrobatic, like trying to walk the tightrope. We don't need to do this stuff, so don't do it. A lot of the stuff, time it with dogs, you hear about, "Oh, you should be able to do this. You should be able to do that." Hey, if you can, great. It just so happens with my dogs, I could pretty much do anything. Even my monstrous, big pack leader, alpha, dominant, male dog I could take the food away from him. I don't really do it. I don't need to [crosstalk].

Scott: You don't need to, but he knows.

Doggy Dan: Stay safe.

Scott: Dan, your book title's interesting, What Dogs Have Taught You About Being a Parent. Tell us some of the insights you got about parenting that you learnt through your dog training. I'm fascinated by the similarities of it, and I think because I've got young family. I think a lot of people introduced a dog into the home when they've got young families, too. I get the whole raising a family with the dog. It's a beautiful thing to do, but it comes with a lot of challenges. I'm just really curious about some of the lessons on parenting that you learnt, as well from your dog training.

Doggy Dan: Yeah. The big one is that in the same way you can blame your children, we touched on this, you can blame your dog. Basically, that doesn't get you anywhere. It's about saying, "What can I change as a parent or as a dog owner?" That's the first key bit. The chapters in the book are things like, "Your Dog is Your Mirror". I've seen unbelievable similarities where somebody says, "My dog doesn't like this," or, "doesn't like that". The dog has the same have fear that they have, because what's happening is the person's getting all stressed or frustrated, and the dog gets the same thing.There was one lady, she lives on a road where there's a lot of Harley-Davidsons went past. She said she hated them, however, if a big truck went past, the dog was fine.Scott: Right.

Doggy Dan: The lady didn't hate big trucks either, but she hated Harley-Davidsons, and so did the dog, hated Harley-Davidsons but was fine with the lorries and the trucks which came past, that made way more noise. [crosstalk]

Scott: Do you put that down to the energy again? The dog's picking up on [crosstalk] the owner's energy?

Doggy Dan: Yeah. The dogs can pick up your energy way more than we can on each other. Generally speaking, humans are pretty numb. If you think about it, where we go, when the wolves or the dogs, even dogs will still got that natural instinct to pick, the dogs can breed with the wolves. If you go to the wolves when you look at the dogs, they all know how to pick what instinct is, and they know how to pick the weakest animal out of a pack. They know who's weak, who's strong. They're so aware of who's got a limp, scared, nervous, awake, or confident.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: Whereas as humans, we go down to the local supermarket and wander long in our slippers and dressing gowns, checking food into the trolley,we're not tuned in. We're not physically, 100% focused and concentrated.The dogs just pick up when we're getting stressed or fearful. One of my dogs used to get, if there was a fly in the room, she'd walk off. I couldn't work it out until I realized it was because I was doing Podcasts and I've got my mic here. The fly flying around would get me frustrated. I realized I only have to do a little tut and the fly comes past her. 'Oh gosh, she's getting stressed." She'd walk off.

Scott: Wow. [crosstalk] That's incredible.

Doggy Dan: Super sensitive.

Scott: Yeah, that's incredible.

Doggy Dan: That's Your Dog is Your Mirror. The other one is, there's a chapter called "Timeout is a Beautiful Thing". When we're training dogs, there needs to be some way of saying to the dog, "Hey, if you carry on doing that and you keep pushing the point, there's a negative consequence coming." I use timeout, just put them in a bathroom, toilet, laundry room. Dogs get it. It could even be the room they sleep in at night, but it's the same as with my children. "Kids, if I have to ask you again, I'm going to put you in your bedrooms."

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: They don't hate the bedroom. They still love the bedroom, but if I put them there during the day for 20 minutes-

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: Even when you do timeout, it's how you do it. It is the most important thing. Stay calm. Just put them in.

Scott: Okay, interesting.

Doggy Dan: That's the sort of things in the book that I cover off.

Scott: Yeah, and I saw that with one of the barking dog videos, just the use of time out, incredibly effective. It's amazing how dogs get that. If you said that to me before watching your videos and seeing the actual dog's reaction, I wouldn't have thought timeout would work with the dog. I've had dogs my whole life, from a young kid, all the way through to now. I've never used timeout. I've used it with children, I think it's incredibly effective with children. With dogs, I never would have expected that works, and it just works incredibly well. Is it the calm approach? I know you just said that anyway, but is there anything more to it that you do with a dog, with kids, I find it- [crosstalk]

Doggy Dan: With timeout, you mean?

Scott: Yeah, with timeout. Is it just, you just put him in a timeout and just give him a chance to calm down? [crosstalk]

Doggy Dan: Well, the thing with timeout is if you think about the words, "the lone wolf", the lone wolf is because the wolves want to be in packs. We all know dogs love to be with their owners. They just want to be with you anywhere. They follow you around. They love being with the family. They just love being in groups and packs. That's why it's powerful because when they're on their own, they know they're in trouble, separated, or alone. They love to be connected. They're pack animals. That's the kind of why it's so powerful.If you put them in timeout in such a way that's almost saying, "Oh well, you're in timeout again." You don't say anything. That's the sort of energy you do. "You haven't frustrated me. You haven't annoyed me, you're not going to wind me up. You're not going to win this, but you are going to be in timeout."

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: If the dog comes out and goes barking, just take them and put them back in there, this time for 20 minutes, not 10.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: The dog will know not to mess around. If you can do with a kind of, "Get in there," all sorts of things can be misinterpreted that the dog thinks you're stressed, worried, panicking, or you're not the calm leader. There's the Rudyard Kipling poem which says, "If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs, you're a man, my son."

Scott: Yeah, I love that.

Doggy Dan: The dogs love it when there's a problem and you step forward as the calm pack leader, the one who's calm. They love that and they'll respond and go, "Yep, we trust you."

Scott: I feel like the Dog Calming Code could become the greatest personal development course for humans. It's almost like [crosstalk] the next Anthony Robbins[?] of courses.

Doggy Dan: There are a few people who have said to me, "Does this work on my husband? Will it work on my husband?"

Scott: For the husband in timeout? I want to ask about teaching old dogs new tricks. It's that common phrase and we all understand what it means. Does it change as dogs age and get older, when habits become a little bit more ingrained and more deeply rooted, how do you approach it differently as dogs move past puppy stages into more mature years?

Doggy Dan: I start by saying it doesn't. It's the same, [crosstalk] generalizing, because especially with the dogs who are sure they get older, so physically you need to be aware of they may need more comfortable surroundings, less walking, and when they're young, they need more exercise and stuff, but the actual social structure that they have of who's in charge, who's making decisions, doesn't change, really. A lot of the older dogs, as they get older, they do give up a bit easier, as well. All the dogs [inaudible] looking, I have to go to work with 8-year-old dogs. People are just like, they've been trying for years. We added puppy training, we did puppy training. We had this train around, and then a few years ago we got this and it just got really bad. We've moved house, and now it's a nightmare. Eight years old, he's done it since he was 3 years old. This dog is just one of the early retirement. He just wants you to say, "I got it." You put the dog "in place".There's also this thing of some dogs are just waiting to be told. You can have an early retirement. You don't have to keep barking every time a person walks past the front of the house, charging out the front door, running up and down the garden, barking at the fence. You don't have to be on 24/7 security guard, looking out the windows. You can sleep, meditate, switch off for hours.My dogs are a great example of when dogs are really switched off and relaxed. How many hours do they sleep for? My dogs do 8 hours sleep a night and then during the day, out of that 16 hours, they'll probably sleep for 12.

Scott: Yeah, wow.

Doggy Dan: That's because they're relaxed. They're just so happy and relaxed.

Scott: That's great. We'll bring this to a bit of a close in the next few minutes because there's so much more we could go into, but I love your approach. I feel like so many people need to just jump on and do the courses. It's inexpensive for what you get out of it, it's just that you will shift the way you manage and raise your dogs. I look forward to finishing off the rest of the video. I'm still about halfway through it.What overarching advice would you give someone, regardless of age of dog, they're frustrated, they're looking for change? Do the course is probably the most obvious thing but is it practical? A second follow-up question that maybe Carrie had is, what does a daily schedule look like, in terms of time and attention in training that you should give a dog? Particularly, does it change from puppy to older dog? The consistency is key, right? Am I wrong? Do you just need to teach it and then they'll go away, as well?

Doggy Dan: Okay. There's a lot of questions that I'll kind of go, [crosstalk]. No, it's all good. Something jumped out of my mind when you're asking one of the earlier questions. It was, "what would you suggest people should do?" You've got to try something different. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, which goes back to the other question about, "Can you teach an old dog new tricks?" Of course, you can. The problem with most people is they keep doing the same thing and then go, "Why doesn't the dog learn," same reason it didn't learn when it was 3 years old. "Why doesn't the dog learn," same reason it didn't learn when it was 6 years old. "Stupid dog. He's dumb, doesn't learn." No, he's actually a super-smart dog. You got to figure it out, but if you keep doing the same thing and don't figure it out, you don't figure it out. Somebody like myself turns up, tries something totally different.That's one thing, I just had to say that. If you've been trying food, treats, I can train your dog without treats. It's not about treats. Ninety-five percent of the dogs I work with, I don't touch treats; there are no treats. The ones I do, it's generally just a bit of recall to say, "Well done. Good dog."

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: The other thing is, the actual training, the amount of training needed is so small. It's not about hours of training. It's understanding how to reverse the whole, for example, the "pats and cuddles", as I say. So many of us are just, dog comes out of it, climbs on top of us, puts his paws on our lap, and begin to cuddle. You've just ruined it all. You've just given your pats, cuddles, and affection away for free. Your dog won't work for them anymore. That's what you're going to use for recall, as a reward.Your dog's invaded your space. Space is super important to a dog. If you can invade another person's or dog's space, you are above them in the pack and you'll be far more protective of them. It's exactly the same as the reason, you don't go up to your boss on a Monday morning, put your arm around her, ruffle her hair and go, "Hey, you had a good weekend, boss? You had a good weekend, Mate?" You don't invade the ones above you; you don't invade their space. If you do, it's because you're above them. Just turning that stuff around and understanding you can give your dog pats and cuddles, but you call the dog to you first. That doesn't actually take any time. It just means a few times, every couple of times an hour, you call the dog, the dog comes.

Scott: I love these little examples you have of just how wrong we get it. I'm a classic of that, sitting on the couch watching something, dog comes up, paws are up. It's trying to get up on the couch and I don't let it. I don't want dogs at the couch, I don't let them eat at the table, or any of that sort of stuff.

Doggy Dan: My brain's immediately going. It's that simple. You push the dog off once, twice, you don't say a word. If it does it a third time, put it in timeout. Finished, done.

Scott: Right.

Doggy Dan: Oh yeah, that's all it is. Move the dog off, put the dog in timeout, boom. There's only a few dogs which will continually persist, and they're the ones that you've got some of the real underlying basics all wrong. The dog says, "Don't tell me not to get on the couch. I'm the king. I'm in charge."

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: That's why you do have to have this foundation program, but once it's in place, [crosstalk] stopping the dog getting on the couch is that easy.

Scott: Just in terms of training time, I would touch in on that. It's not hours of training. We know puppies, especially like when I say carry with them, we call puppy, it's going to wear out very quickly. Are we talking just 5 minutes of training, then just let it go, and then come back to it later in a few hours, let it have a sleep.

Doggy Dan: It's not like that at all because it's more like training a child.

Scott: Yeah, it's situational. How long does it take to train my child, my baby? How old's your baby, 3 years old? How long does it take to train it? Twenty years, my dad said. He said it takes 20 years. Once they're 20, you're hands-off and they're done. With a dog, it's probably 2 years. The equivalent is 2 years old. Once the dog's 2 years old, you're pretty much, "That's it," just maintenance.

Scott: Right.

Doggy Dan: When my Dad and Mum were training me as a child, how long did it take? It's not [crosstalk] the right question at all.

Scott: It's more situational. I understand.

Doggy Dan: Sure, my dad used to sit down and help me with my algebra, my maths. I would sit there for 40 minutes, but was that actual parenting? Was that just doing maths homework? That was just doing maths homework. That's not what won the love, trust, and respect, and it's the same as just doing sit down, stays with your dog. You could do it for 40 minutes. You have won only trust and respect. You just got food and you're sausages in your dog's mouth every time his bum hits the ground. Great.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: There's only a certain amount of respect that's going to get you, no matter how many times you do it.

Scott: I've done the food training thing and my dog, her name is Lunar, I can get her to do absolutely anything when I've got food in my hand. She'll drop, she'll rollover. I can get her to put her chin down on the floor, I can get all that stuff. I don't have food in my hand, she's not interested.

Doggy Dan: Yeah, exactly.

Scott: Classic example of how to do it wrong. [crosstalk] Exactly right, I can admit it. I'm comfortable with that.

Doggy Dan: And tie it back into a previous story about my dad, when we came out of the woods and there's gravestones and leaves blowing around. My dad won my trust and respect. All I did was look at him and he didn't panic. How long did that take, that training?

Scott: Yeah, just a moment in time.

Doggy Dan: This method is not about saying how many hours of homework do you have to do your children to train them? It's knowing at what point does it really matter that you just hold that place of calm, peaceful, loving energy with your child, or do the right thing with the puppy or the dog?

Scott: Yeah. I just love it. I can say 2 mindsets that us as humans bring to this when we hear your approach. One will be one of resistance because the person that has to change is the one in control of things, but the huge benefit I see is just a calmer head of the house, in general, in terms of you're more conscious of binging your best, calmest self to dealing with the situation, which would normally cause stress in yourself, and then further cause stress in a dog, which only makes it worse, and the cycle continues. I see your approach as this incredible interjection to just break a cycle of stress that just continues. Mate, well done on what you've created. I think it's a fantastic approach. I love the gentleness of it and the love of it. I think it's superb. Mate, thanks for having been on board with us today, Doggy Dan.

Doggy Dan: Yeah. No, you're welcome. There's a good reason we called it the Dog Calming Code and it's because it really does bring calmness throughout the whole house.

Scott: Absolutely. [crosstalk]

Doggy Dan: I'm glad to be here.

Scott: Thanks so much for your time on this Anzac weekend. All the best for the rest of the year.

Doggy Dan: Cool. Thanks, Scott. For those of you who are listening, theonlinedogtrainer.com.

Scott: Yeah.

Doggy Dan: That's the site.

Scott: If you want to follow in Dan's footsteps and become a dog trainer, dogtraineracademy.org. That's the .org. [crosstalk]

Doggy Dan: That's good. Thanks, Scott. [crosstalk]

Scott: Thanks so much, Dan. It's great chatting with you. Cheers.

Doggy Dan: Take care. Bye.

Scott: Cheers.

[END]

Podcast Transcript

Scott: Welcome to another Dog pod. You're here with Scott Groves and Dr. Kevin Cruickshank. We welcome you back again, Dr. Kev.

Dr. Kevin: Thanks Scott. What a beautiful setting. I do not know where people listen to us, but it can't be better than where we are recording it.

Scott: It is a pretty nice part of the world and it is a gorgeous day here again, so welcome everybody. This week we are following on our little three part where we are talking about sort of small, medium, and this week we are up to large dogs. So we thought we thought we'd dive into some of the common issues, and I guess things that dog owners should know about some of the larger breeds, and how they can care for them better, and some of the things that we could talk about as we get into the large breeds. But I think as we cover large breeds, first to probably mention a few of them because we have got giant breeds. We are going to group them all together a little bit today.

Dr. Kevin: Yes, I think it makes a lot of sense to talk about large breeds and giant breeds. We kind of refer to large breed dogs as adult size over twenty-five kilograms, and probably the giant breeds over forty or certainly over fifty kilograms. So a lot of our popular family dogs fall in this these categories. So breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Dobermans--they all are large breeds. When we are thinking of giant breeds, you think of the obvious ones like Great Danes, St. Bernard's--

Scott: Bernese Mountain?

Dr. Kevin: Bernese Mountain dogs, they are lovely dogs, really are. And a lot of our Mastiffs as well, Bull Mastiff, and then there'S Neapolitan Mastiffs is a very big dog as well.

Scott: What is the biggest you have seen? Is it typically Great Danes would get as big as any dog?

Dr. Kevin: Great Danes are quite a lean dog actually, so physically in size and how tall they are, yes probably some of the biggest, but may not be the heaviest.

Scott: Right.Dr. Kevin: I think Neapolitan Mastiffs are probably some of the heaviest and and biggest in size. They can be the size of a Great Dane and as stocky as a Rottweiler sort of thing, and we have some very large and muscular Rottweilers. It is not uncommon to see them up sixty-five, seventy kilograms. So that requires a bit of a team effort when we have them in the clinic as well, and we have hydraulic lift tables and lifts to manage those sorts of sizes of dogs as well.

Scott: This is something I was going to ask you about today because in thinking through this because I knew what was coming this week, I thought, you know, as dog start to age, and I know what you guys do, you are essentially almost training them up onto a table at a vet. But what do dog owners do when they have got a really big dog in their home, and the dog starts to struggle later in life.

Dr. Kevin: That is actually quite a practical consideration, definitely. Even just taking them out for walks and getting them into their vehicles, and that sort of thing, you can get a lot of very good either cut purpose-built available in pet stores ramps, and that sort of thing to get into the back of a vehicle. That sort of thing, or a lot of people make their own. So that is a practical consideration because you can not be lifting even a forty, fifty kilogram dog is difficult lifting into the back of an SUV or something like that. And then sometimes ramps over the steps, or stairs at home, if they are starting to battle there as well, that is a consideration. But I see photos of big dogs, German Shepherds, lying up on the bed at home and that sort of things that people that sometimes take top place. And even partners getting relegated to the spare bedroom or something like that. People adjust and accommodate. They also take up a fair bit of space just for their beds and sleeping and that sort of thing as well.

Scott: We are aware of that one. Okay. So let us talk about some of the common issues with the larger dogs. Obviously being longer limbed animals, the hip dysplasia certainly becomes a lot more common as a condition with these larger dogs. Is that a good place to start?

Dr. Kevin: Yes, I think so. I think a lot of what we might be talking about today is orthopaedic conditions. So hips are definitely one that some of them, and interestingly some of the breeds do not have as much of a problem with hips. And then their knee joints moving down the back legs, so the knees or what we refer to as the stifles, and the biggest problem there is cruciate disease--ruptured cruciate ligaments, or the equivalent in humans is an ACL. So we do see that a lot more commonly in a lot of these larger breeds of dogs. And moving to the front legs, elbow dysplasia is now becoming much more recognized than hip dysplasia has been known about for many years, but you can actually get. So when we talk about either hip or elbow dysplasia: it is not actually a disease directly itself, but it is an increased risk of getting severe arthritis in those joints. And that normally means the dysplasia really refers to the bad shape of those joints. So hip joints that aren't a perfect ball and cup shape quite often either the cup part of the joint is too shallow, or the shape of the head which is like the ball part that fits into the joint that shape is incorrect or at an abnormal angle. And so those make those joints often not as stable and that predisposes them to getting severe arthritis. Just because a dog has bad hips visibly, like on an X-ray, does not necessarily mean that they are going to suffer with symptoms of hip dysplasia. You can do other environmental things as well to help minimize that.

Scott: Ok.

Dr. Kevin: Even before we get to actually diagnosing it, trying to reduce these problems in the breeds, they have been known about for a long time. Selective breeding is a very important thing because if we can try and breed from dogs that are known to have better hips than average in the breed, then we can have far less problems, or less likelihood that the offspring are going to have bad hips as well.

Scott: Okay. And if they are above average in that, I guess assessment. They probably should not be breeding. Is that--

Dr. Kevin: Correct. That is the way the selective breeding works. So you get the parents that you are intending to breed with, they need to be an adult dog before these changes can actually be seen on x-rays. So they have x-rays in very specific positions, and then those x-rays--actually your regular vet can look at them and have an opinion as to how good or bad those hips are. But actually there is a list of certified hip scorers that these get sent off to and different countries all have their official schemes. They get sent off to a special radiologist who will then look at very fine criteria and come up with an actual score for each hip, and then it is known from all the dogs over the years that have had been hip scored--this process we refer to as scoring--and you can know the average for the breed. And so if a dog is better than average that's going to be a good one to breed from. If its scores are worse than average, then you rather do not breed from that dog because it is likely to push the shapes of the offspring into a worse position.

Dr. Kevin: The difficulty comes if you have got one really good hip and one not so good hip. And of course dogs are not only born with hip problems, so you have got to look at the rest of it. In a lot of these breeds something like labradors, they can get various genetic eye problems. So cataracts is an example. So you might have everything else in the dog is perfect--It does not carry the genes for the cataract problems, it does not have heart conditions, and one of its hips is marginally bad, and the other is very good--well, you might still choose based on the net assessment of the dog. It is still a good dog to breed. Never forgetting the temperament as well. You really want to choose when you are breeding. So it is a very complicated thing when they are breeding. But if you have got an outlier that has got a really bad, sort of double the average score, well that might knock it out. It is sort of like a veto that everything else might be perfect about the dog breed, but then should not be bred from.

Scott: How much of this comes back to the ethics of breeders?

Dr. Kevin: Very much. It is down to the integrity and the ethics of that individual breeder because there is no compulsion to actually have hip scoring. Obviously if they can provide evidence that the parents have been very healthy and good, they should be able to have a better reputation as a breeder and command a better price for their puppies. So it is in their best interest to do as much of this testing ahead of breeding. But there is no obligation. You do not even have to be a registered breeder to breed. And so that is also my advice to people looking at getting a new puppy: do your research; ask for these bits of information; have the parents been eye-tested, heart-tested and hip-scored.

Dr. Kevin: And nowadays as well as hip scoring, there is also elbow scoring. So the elbows are complicated joint. It is actually three bones coming together. So two below the elbow--the radius and the ulna, and the humerus above. So if there is a little bit of abnormality in the shape, they can very quickly get arthritis later on in those elbows as well. So in the same way the elbows can be scored as well.

Scott: I have got about fifteen questions that has just come out based on what you have just said in the last five minutes. I want to backtrack a little bit a couple of things that we just sort of talked about. Hip dysplasia- I find in conversations with other dog owners, the true definition of dysplasia is quite confusing. Because I think a lot of people think of it like it in terms of displacement where something is moved. So what is the true definition? What is the best way to fully understand dysplasia? You mentioned the shape of the bones.

Dr. Kevin: Yes, so you could put really dysplasia as misshapen. It is just the wrong shape. So it is the how perfect the joint really is. And then what that leads to is, especially so a hip joint is a sort of classic joint, it is a ball in a socket. And if your socket is not really tight around the ball, and so I am using my hands and unfortunately the listeners can not see, but if I mean basically showing a very flat sort of almost an open palm versus a cupped up hand. If it is very flat then there is a lot more wiggle room for the ball part to move around. The body does not like that instability and what it tries to do to stabilize that is create new bone on the edges. That is actually what arthritis is. Arthritis is new bone being put down and it is trying to stabilize the joint, but instead it actually starts impairing the joint and causing pain. So arthritis is inflammation in any joint and very commonly new bits of bone growing around the edges of the joint.

Scott: And that agitates the ligaments?

Dr. Kevin: And it also limits the range of motion of the joints as well, so that is why they have a very stiff, awkward sort of gait. So that is a slow process. Now if you have got a badly shaping hip but you do not overuse that hip, you are probably not going to get a severe wear and tear on that joint, so to speak. And so if you don't over exercise that dog when it is very young, but you also keep up good exercise so that it does not get overweight.

Scott: Yeah. It is a big problem with big dogs.

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely, and yes they are carrying heavy weight. And that is also why that next problem that I spoke about the cruciate ligament problem--

Scott: Yeah, that is what I wanted to circle back to. Let us dive into that. Explain that. When you say cruciate sort of disease, what is actually happening? Like what are you seeing in the joint?

Dr. Kevin: So cruciate disease is just a group term for, the most common thing is the actual cruciate ligaments tears, but it does not necessarily snap instantaneously. It is a wear and tear disease. And so we don't often see it in dogs even younger than five. We have a bit of an acronym: fat five and female. Not fully understood why female dogs are a little bit more prone than males. It's like a 60/40 split, so it is not a big difference. But definitely overweight dogs, fat over five years old because it is a wear-and-tear thing. So if that ligament tears 10% you still got 90% of the ligament there. It is like a rope that is fraying. You are not necessarily going to see it. The dog might be a little bit sore for a day or two, and then walking around fine. So you didn't realize that necessary that actually a little bit of the ligament frayed and tore. And then over the years wear-and-tear it suddenly--they might just be doing one exercise, running down some stairs, jumping to catch a ball, or something, and then the last little percentage tears and suddenly they pull up lame.

Dr. Kevin: So that is also to do with, often, the shape of the knee joint itself and various quite technical angles of the bones in that joint. So dogs at stand with a very upright stance. So another large breed that we have not mentioned yet, the Boxers, they are typically a breed that stands with a very upright stance. If you look, they do not have much bend in the knee and the back leg really, they stand quite upright. And that predisposes, puts more strain on that cruciate ligament. So the job of the cruciate ligament is to stabilize the knee joint. It runs inside the joint and it stops the knee moving backwards and forwards in the joint. So when the dogs tear the cruciate ligament, initially it is sore, but it doesn't actually stay that sore longer term, but they still can not use the leg. Because every time they try and take weight, they just have a feeling of it collapsing or giving away on them. So then it is quite a technical thing about the different, but nearly always they need some form of surgery. There's very many different techniques of correcting that, but once they have had that surgery, they normally go very well. They can still unfortunately damage the meniscus in the joint which is part of like the shock absorbency. So definitely--

Scott: So like that gets worn away?

Dr. Kevin: Or tears actually because there is too much movement in the joint and then the meniscus can get a tear in it. So that is often checked during the time of surgery and addressed. If it has got a little tear then we correct that at the centre.

Scott: Yeah. Now that is a great understanding of that. With the breeding, you mentioned the averages. And now I want to circle back to one breed which is the Labradors, and we have spoken about it off podcast, but it is hard to find a good Labrador, you were saying, with good hips because they all tend to be fairly high in some--

Dr. Kevin: But because of breeding and selective breeding over the years, I think there has been a marked improvement in the last fifteen to twenty years.

Scott: That is great.

Dr. Kevin: We used to see it even worse. And that is why these schemes were put in place and through breeders doing the right thing. So yes, you got to be realistic that you can not expect hip scores of zero. But for example in the Labradors, the breed average is about 8.2. And it is a scale that goes right,--there is not necessarily a top point, but very bad hips can be twelve, fifteens sort of thing. So eight is actually in the scheme of things not that bad. And if you have got a dog who has got a four on one hip and a five on the other, that is really doing well better than average. So that is a good. But you might have a dog that has a two on one side and a ten on the other, that becomes a tricky decision and maybe the mother has fours or five so very good, and the father has two, an excellent hip on the one side and and one hip that is not so good. But as we were talking earlier, there might be lots of other considerations that you would still find that an acceptable combination of two dogs because there are so many other factors as well. And yes, you can not really expect to find in many breeds like that, a dog that has no problems with its hips at all.

Dr. Kevin: Another breed that has unfortunately quite a bit of hip dysplasia is German Shepherds. And amazingly even some of the smaller breeds--Pugs, if you look in the average...

Scott: Also Rottweilers as well...

Dr. Kevin: Unfortunately they get on quite a lot of hip dysplasia, they are very prone to cruciate problems as well.

Scott: What can a dog owner do, let's say I have a mate growing up and he always had Rottweilers. And he was always concerned about their hips, I remember even from a young age. What can a dog owner do? Is it matter of just keeping weight off, keeping good exercise, good mobility?

Dr. Kevin: Careful exercise. A tip that I would give people is avoiding, a lot of these breeds love fetching balls and that. But keeping them on the ground and not encouraging them to bounce and jump when they are excited. So throwing frisbees, and jumping up in the air, coming down and landing can be quite a jarring thing either for the knees or the hips. So also having good obedience with their dog that you might actually throw the ball, keep the dog at the side, and once the ball has stopped, let them go and fetch it. Because that sudden trying to stop and chasing a moving ball can be very jarring and damaging as well.

Scott: Yeah. That is a great tip. Excellent love that. With some of the other breeds when you start looking at probably some of the more, I guess winter Saint Bernards, some of the big Huskies, Bernese Mountain dogs--what sort of common conditions might you come across there? And then we will get to Great Danes in a minute.

Dr. Kevin: Quite a lot of them... slobber a lot! And that is the big lips that they have. Funny enough there is a type of cosmetic surgery, technically cosmetic, but it actually can be really helpful to keep that slobber more in their mouths. It is not commonly done. It is something that people know the breed does. It is not a medical problem, but unfortunately also, being considerate to the climate where you live. Like here on the beautiful Gold Coast, having a St. Bernard even a Bernese mountain dog, we have actually got quite a few Bernese Mountain dogs. They are very popular breed at the moment and they cope pretty well with the heat. But St. Bernard, they do suffer a lot and so not exercising them in the heat of the day. They can suffer from heat stroke very easily.

Scott: Would you keep them clippered more?

Dr. Kevin: You certainly can. People are more looking for the authentic breed, would rather not have them shaved. Sometimes that long hairy coat actually provides insulation from the heat just like you find woolly sheep in really hot climates in the outback, and that sort of thing. The wool insulates them from the heat as well. So the to the degree that happens, and also the dogs living in a hotter climate will not develop as thick an undercoat as if they are in a colder climate. They have grown up with it through their lives.

Scott: Yeah adapting over the years. Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: We just got a beautiful example of a German Shepherd walking past, a lovely lean one. They are actually a dog that a lot of people look at them and say they are far too skinny, but they are naturally actually a working dog, and they are very lean. They are very athletic dogs as well. But just seeing that beautiful one walking past reminded me of another condition that unfortunately they very prone to. They have got a very deep chest and breeds with deep chests. And so another one classically is the Great Dane, are prone unfortunately to gastric torsion. And it is a condition that people consider in having those breeds or who have those breeds really need to know about, because it is one of these things that can be an absolute emergency.

Scott: So what happens?

Dr. Kevin: Yeah, what happens with this is that their stomach which is actually hanging in the way that a dog is standing horizontally compared to us standing upright, their stomach is hanging from underneath the back. And for various different reasons, and they are not fully understood, that stomach can actually twist on itself. And then what happens is then the gas that is in the stomach can not get out, the fluid can not get out anywhere. It is of course extremely painful, and the the gas very quickly starts to build up and it actually pushes up against the diaphragm. They battle to breathe and they start to go into a medical type of shock, and within an hour or so, it can be fatal. It causes a lot of problems for the heart. The heart can't circulate the blood of course wind the whole intestine and the stomach is twisted, none of the blood can move through those twisted blood vessels, as well. So it is something that needs emergency treatment right away, whether it is the middle of the night, or daytime, and it very often does happen in the evening time.

Scott: Why is that?

Dr. Kevin: It is often associated with eating too close on exercise. So either eating first and then going and exercising, or even if they have come back from a big walk and then are fed very soon. Some of that is various hypotheses as to what is happening. And if they are swallowing a lot of gas when they are eating, their stomach can fill up. If it fills up with a lot of air and gas, we think it is more prone to twisting on itself. Very much so if they eat and then go and exercise, then the running around this coming back to their shape the deep-chested nature, there is a lot of space for that stomach to twist on itself. So if it is hanging and it has got all the for heavy food and it is swinging from side to side as they run, we think it just suddenly flops right over.

Scott: Pendulums right over?

Dr. Kevin: We have actually got to be also careful in the hospital. If we have got them under anaesthetic, if we are turning them over to operate on the other part of their body, or move them from one area of the hospital into the theatre or something like that, we also got to be very slow and gentle that we do not just flip them too quickly because you can flip their stomach as well.

Scott: Right. Wow so crazy.

Dr. Kevin: It sometimes starts where they don't necessarily have the full torsion where they are not twisted, and they have just got bloat. And then that is easier to address. We normally give them an aneesthetic and put a tube down their throat. Let that gas all out. And if you have caught them then before they have actually twisted, then they do not always need surgery.

Scott: What symptoms is a dog owner going to see?

Dr. Kevin: I think that is really important that we chat through this one because it can start off just looking like the dog's unsettled. It is restless, can not lie down, and you sort of say, "What is wrong? We have just gone for a walk. Why are you so restless?" And then very quickly they will often be trying to vomit, but most times nothing coming out. But just a bit of a retch and a retch, and they look quite quickly over twenty minutes or so, they just seem to get a lot worse. They are uncomfortable. They are lethargic, and then you might notice that their stomach is swelling. And it actually swells right up and it can be taunt like a drum. So you actually just tapping on the stomach, the stomach looks a bit bloated. They might look sort of pregnant, but it can be difficult to miss that. You would think it is so obvious, but a lot of that is underneath the rib cage.

Scott: And that is more stomach than chest? Is that where it is coming out?

Dr. Kevin: Correct. So just behind the chest, there is a whole abdomen area. And by the time you see that, it is definitely a run do not walk situation. Get to an emergency clinic straight away. But yes, the unproductive attempts to vomit, and sudden lethargy, and unsettled nature, those are the most common early symptoms of it.

Scott: Is this just something that can happen quite randomly across these breeds like German Shepherds? Is there no way of pre-checking it as part of a breeding process or part of identifying it--

Dr. Kevin: Different to what we were talking about with the orthopaedic problems, we can't screen for it, and it has not really got a genetic link. So much so that because it is quite a high-risk factor, we do all the work for the Gold Coast police dogs, and progressively they have put each one on a bit of leave and we have done a preventative surgery for them called a gastropexy. What we go in then is before they have ever had any symptoms of it, and we actually go and permanently stitch the stomach to the side of their abdomen, so that it can still bloat up, but that's not life threatening.They could still get a lot of gas building up, but it will not ever twist on itself because it is attached in one point. So it takes a bit of recovery and it is a moderately costly operation, but I think in any of the breeds that are prone to it--so your Great Danes, your German Shepherds, Dobermans, and deep-chested dogs--it's well worth considering. We often offer that if we desexing one of those breads, whether it is a male or a female, to do that operation at the same time. Because they are still a young dog, they are under anaesthetic anyway. Moderately costly operation. It is technically very challenging for us, but they recover so well. There is very little complications or problems and it is a lifelong prevention for them.

Scott: Yeah. That's great.

Dr. Kevin: That is a very good thing to get done early.

Scott: It is a very good thing to be aware of, is it not?

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely. So it is called, just for people listening, gastric torsion or it also goes under the acronym of a GDV-gastric dilatation volvulus is a bit just remember GDV.

Scott: Internationally does it have any other names?

Dr. Kevin: Also referred to just as bloat.

Scott: Okay.

Dr. Kevin: So gastric torsion, bloat, GDV, they are the most common names for it. And so the other tips for people preventing it is not feeding your dog and then exercising. And I am not just talking about going for a walk, even just bouncing a ball, throwing, playing around in the backyard or in the kitchen or whatever soon after eating. Also not waiting quite a long period once it has gone for a walk, recovering from that so that it is not--

Scott: How long are we talking about?

Dr. Kevin: I would wait up to an hour before feeding, and that is thought to be because they are still breathing up quite heavily, and they are probably sucking in a lot more air when they eating their food. They are enthusiastic to eat their food and suck up air.

Scott: Some big dogs eat at a million miles an hour too--

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely. Some people are very critical of feeding dry foods then to these breeds because the dry food itself can swell up and bloat. I don't think there is a direct big problem, that has been looked at and researched a lot. But sometimes adding some water to that food can be a helpful thing. Feeding twice a day instead of once a day so that they are getting a bit of a smaller meal each time.

Scott: Right. So it's not a big large meal? Yeah, right.

Dr. Kevin: Yeah. So those are things sometimes it is thought also feeding a bit from a height, so putting the food bowl up on a little bit of a platform, on a step, then they not bending down as much. The thought is maybe they are not going to suck in as much air. That's not such a big issue there.

Scott: Yeah, great. Have we missed anything with the larger dogs?

Dr. Kevin: Quite a few of them unfortunately are prone to ear infections. Again, sometimes to do with their behaviours. So dogs that love swimming are going to get more ear infections--so your Labradors, Golden Retrievers, unfortunately. The dogs with either floppy ears coming down or big ears that are like big funnels and let everything go in, like a German Shepherd, unfortunately can be quite prone to ear infections. And skin infections, some of them, unfortunately I keep seeming to be picking today on German Shepherds, but some of them--

Scott: They are really popular, aren't they? I mean they are used as police dogs almost all over the world. They are beautiful dogs. Very intelligent.

Dr. Kevin: But unfortunately they do just seem to be quite prone to certain skin allergies, very sensitive skins as well. Seem to get yeast infections quite easily. So ear infections, my tip there is pick up on it early because they can become chronic recurring problems. Head-shaking is one of the first signs just seeing a dirty waxy area at the outside.

Scott: Okay, and in terms of prevention and maintenance, same with the sort of stuff we spoke about with some of the medium dogs or the fairy dogs, keeping clippered.

Dr. Kevin: Yes. Sometimes a routine cleaning with an ear cleaning liquid. Certainly after swimming it is a very good idea. Once a week or once a fortnight just doing an air cleaner is good.

Scott: In the medium dogs and in multiple other episodes, we have talked a fair bit about teeth and dental hygiene. Big dogs naturally have pretty strong bites and I imagine they are, I don't imagine I know, they are biting into all sorts of different things, particularly through either boredom and other stuff as well. Bones as we spoke about in the last episode with medium dogs, and the danger of bones. Talk us through teeth and dental with large dogs. What do we need to be aware of?

Dr. Kevin: Fortunately, I think it is one of the things that they seem to suffer a lot less with. We do not see as rapid a build up of calculus and tartar on them, with one exception being Greyhounds. Unfortunately, they, for whatever reason their local immunity in their mouth, they suffer from a lot of very bad dental disease. Greyhounds do, almost irrespective of diet, and that sort of thing. So Greyhounds having them have a scale and polish early to try and look after those teeth. Keep them healthy is a very good thing.

Scott: Is it the same for Whippets or some of those long snitch breed?

Dr. Kevin: No, no, sure because those long-snouted dogs definitely. Whippets, Italian Greyhounds also seemed to have, and again a smaller breed but a Dachshund, those long snout seem to just also get dental disease a lot worse. But for the rest of them, the large breeds have far slower buildup of tartar. Some of that is diet-related and chewing on things, but I think it is just more a lucky thing that theirs are not as bad.

Scott: Is it because they got bigger mouths?

Dr. Kevin: I think so. The teeth are not as crowded in, definitely. And and also the type of diet, and how much they spoilt, and soft foods, and that sort of thing. But some big breeds, like Rottweilers, tend to get a lot of chipped and actually broken teeth because they have got such a strong jaw and they might be chewing on something that they should not be. So we do see them having quite a few broken teeth sometimes. But teeth problems not too bad. And as a general rule, skin problems not too bad other than like I am saying some of the German Shepherds can be prone to skin allergies.

Scott: Is the skin allergies noticed in the same areas as we spoke about in the last episode with Bulldogs? Is it a lot of groin?

Dr. Kevin: Yes. Lower ventral abdomen and in their groin area. Their paws, quite a few of them get a lot of skin infections in between the toes and their paws. And then some are more breed-specific, Boxers are quite prone to some hormonal skin problems, having an under active thyroid gland sometimes as well. So that is something they suffer with a bit.

Scott: Interesting. Well as always you are a wealth of knowledge, Dr. Kevin. Thank you for being with us. I do not think there is anything else before--

Dr. Kevin: I think they are a lovely group of dogs, that are working dogs. They can be family dogs. Wonderful, you know that you can get out and do a lot being--

Scott: Just because they're big, I think some people fear them, don't they? And like Great Danes are some of the biggest sooks on earth.

Dr. Kevin: But it is also very important to do good obedience work in the early stages so that you have got control of a big dog, because some of them can be very aggressive. And we have not had really much time to talk about behavioural issues, but you can have behavioural problems with some of them, and you want to have good control. So good socialization when they are young and dog training would be my closing remarks.

Scott: Might make a good topic for our next next podcast.

Dr. Kevin: Indeed.

Scott: Thanks so much for joining us. And as always if anyone has got any questions, just follow us on all the socials and feel free to fire through questions and ask Dr. Kevin, and we will do our best to answer them on the next one. But thank you for joining us.

Dr. Kevin: It would be a pleasure to shoutout and answer anyone's questions indeed.

Scott: See you next time. Thank you.

Dr. Kevin: All the best.

[END]

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