In 2015 the Dog Flu became an epidemic. Spreading across continental North America like a wild fire. Now we all realize that the media will blow things out of proportion if it means it will increase viewers or readership. But how concerned do you need to be about the Canine Flu and your dog? Should you vaccinate? How is it spread? Is it still a threat?
Canine Flu (H3N2 and H3N8) is prevalent in the US. It is a highly contagious virus that is similar in symptoms to an upper respiratory infection. This is also contagious to cats. H3N8 was first detected in 2004 and was a strain that evolved from an equine flu and in Florida. H3N2 was first detected in March 2015 after dogs were rescued from North Korea and brought to the Chicago area.
Both viruses have had their chances to spread causing an "epidemic", meaning 10 or more cases in one area, in multiple areas in multiple states such as Indiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri and Louisiana.
Symptoms of Canine Flu are similar to that of an upper respiratory infection and when caught and treated early have a very good prognosis.
"H3N8 has an incubation period of 1 to 5 days, with clinical signs in most cases appearing 2 to 3 days after exposure. Dogs infected with H3N2 may start showing respiratory signs between 2 and 8 days after infection. Dogs are most contagious during the incubation period and shed the virus even though they are not showing clinical signs of illness. Some dogs may show no signs of illness, but have a subclinical infection and shed the virus.(AVMA)"
The virus can remain on surfaces for 24 hours. So ensuring proper disinfection procedures at your dogs daycare, training center, and in your home are very important.
Staying away from public dog parks that are not monitoring dogs vaccinations and health prior to entering are also excellent ways to avoid contamination.
While a Canine Influenza vaccination is available it is considerably expensive averaging 100.00 or more per injection and it is a multiseries injection. Similar to the human flu shot the canine flu shot has not been noted to have much efficacy in dogs it was administered to.
Many victims of the Canine Flu were older dogs, ill dogs ,or puppies, with compromised immune systems that allowed them to be over taken by the virus. With relatively few victims the canine flu is not really something you need to be concerned about.
But ensuring your dog is checked regularly so you notice changes in behavior and if an illness occurs are huge and your first step toward making sure your pet stays healthy.
Sources for information:
Dogs Naturally Magazine
When it comes to choosing a reward for training most, if not all, of my students know I am all for using Kibble. However, there comes a point when your dog is learning something difficult and they need that treat "value" amped up.
We as humans work for our paychecks. If we work 40+ hours of backbreaking work and only get paid minimum wage we are probably not going to feel the love. But if we get a raise, even by 40 cents for doing a good job and not having more responsibilities added we will feel emotionally satisfied.
However, if we as humans get paid minimum wage for back breaking work, and never get a raise and then are asked to do even more week we are probably going to look for work elsewhere.
By that same token, if we are doing 40+ hours a week of back breaking work, we get paid 15.00 an hour, overtime, PTO, benefits, and get a raise based on evaluations every year we are apt to work harder for this employer because we feel valued.
While dogs do not have the same emotional response to their training as we would to say a job, a dog who is having issues with walking on a loose leash needs a better reinforcement than their kibble. So for this we may use something like a nice tasty hot dog, or some pieces of boiled chicken breast.
When this reward is offered for doing the proper action of walking on the leash without pulling, it is new, tasty, and something they do not get. So the value of that treat is much higher than a kibble and the dog wants to earn that reward. So the reward of the hot dog is something that holds higher value to the dog than the kibble. It then becomes a functioning reward for that dog.
The same exact situation with a dog who does not like food or toys but prefers attention from the human can be recreated. A simple good job as verbal praise from the owner is used routinely but an ear scratch and excited praise may be used to teach the dog to do the same loose leash walking exercise easily now that you have amped up the value of the reward.
To hve a functional reward it needs to be something the dog wants to receive and is very excited to receive. Not just what we want to give the dog.
Continuing on the path of +R training we also want to note that if you are constantly having to lure your dog with a treat you are not training properly. While a lure may be used when teaching something the first few times you want to only reward when the behaviors have been given without food being directly present. Otherwise you have conditioned the response only to the presence of food and not to the actual behavior being asked.
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Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Behavior Consultant, Mother of an Amazing Autistic Child, and to several Wonderful Dogs, Horses, and a Cat named Einstein.