Thursday, February 26, 2015

Critical Periods in Your Pup's Growth & Development

Just like with humans, dogs have growth & developmental periods; our actions and  interventions can greatly affect the behavioral development of our puppy/dog.  Here is a wonderful article written by an animal behaviorist which breaks down puppy development into stages by age and appropriate interventions. Good information for the first time owner--or for someone who is training a new canine companion.

0 to 7 Weeks
Neonatal, Transition, Awareness, and Canine Socialization. 
Puppy is with mother and litter-mates up to seven weeks .
During this period, your puppy learns about social interaction, play, and inhibiting aggression
 from its mother and litter-mates.
This is also the time a couple of days after the birth, that the breeders should regularly handle the puppies.
Handling on a regular basis when they are still blind and deaf causes them a mild stress response
 that allows them to be healthier bond more with humans, more intelligent and easier to train.
Puppies must stay with their mother and litter mates through this critical period.
As the puppies learn the most important lesson in their lives, they learn to accept discipline.
It is at this time that they also learn not to toilet in the nest.

7 to 16 Weeks
Human Socialization Period. 
The best time to take a puppy home is 7 weeks then you have nine whole weeks to work with the dog over this incredibly important period.
The puppy now has the brain waves of an adult dog, but his attention span is short.
This period is when the most rapid learning occurs. Learning at this age is permanent so this is a perfect time to start training but make it fun.
This is also the time to introduce the puppy to things that will play and important part in his life.
 Different people, places, animals, hoovers ,washing machines, and unusual sounds, in a positive non threatening way.
This is also the time to work with any perceived problems, especially aggression.
If dogs are showing aggressive behavior under 16 weeks then get it treated immediately.
The dogs personality and future temperament is formed around the age of 16 weeks.

This relates to the same age as a 5 year old child. .It is at this time that a child’s personality is fully formed,
any learning after that is just based on knowledge and experience. The personality will not change and that
is exactly the same for your dog.

 8 to 10.5 Weeks
Fear Imprint Period.
While the Pup is going through human socialization it also go has an important fear/hazard avoidance period.
This starts at 5 weeks and peaks between 8 and 10.5 weeks.
Any traumatic, frightening or painful experience will have a more lasting effect on the puppy than
 if it occurred at any other time in its life.
He will learn more during that short space of time than at any other time in his life. Other windows of opportunity
for learning will open during your dog’s life.
However, what you see at 16 weeks without extensive training and behavioral modification is about what you
 are going to get as an adult. Therefore, work hard on giving your pet the best start in life

4 to 8 months
Play Instinct Period. Flight Instinct Period. 
Puppy may wander and ignore you. It is very important that you keep the puppy on a leash at this time!
The way that you handle your pup at this time determines if he will come to you when called.
 At about 4-1/2 months, your puppy loses his milk teeth and gets his adult teeth. 
That's is the time when he begins serious chewing! A dog's teeth don't set in his jaw until around
about a year depending on breed and size.
During this time, the puppy has a physical need to exercise his mouth by chewing. 
Training must continue through this period or all your good work may revert back to stage one.
Occasionally the puppy will start to urinate in the house again if this happens,
just go back to basic toilet training.

6 to 14 months
Second Fear Imprint Period or Fear of New Situations Period
Dog again shows fear of new situations and even familiar situations.
Dog may be reluctant to approach someone or something new.
 It is important that you are patient and act very matter of fact in these situations.
Never force the dog to face the situation. 
DO NOT pet the frightened puppy or talk in soothing tones.
 The puppy will interpret such responses as praise for being frightened.
Training will help improve the dog's confidence.
This fear period is normally more marked in male dogs.
This is the period that you do not handle it correctly can give you dog a lasting fear of traffic, 
Vets or other frightening experiences, noises or events.
Never ever praise, cuddle, comfort or sympathize with your pup when it is startled or showing fear or anxiety.
This only serves to reinforce the fear the exact opposite of humans.

1 to 4 years.
Maturity Period.
 You may encounter some increased aggression and renewed testing for position and authority, however if you have spent lots of time with your dog and trained consistently and regularly, then this should not present itself as a problem - in fact you may hardly notice this change, it is just something to keep in mind. 

Continue to train your dog during this period.
It is possible that your dog may have another fear period between 12 - 16 months of age.
Regardless of your reason for acquiring a puppy, you'll have to win it over.

 You, not your dog, will have to create a safe and secure environment with ongoing training if your pup is to develop into a well-mannered family member instead of a thug or a burden.

Dogs are animals, not human beings. They are instinctively pack animals. In every pack there is at least one sometimes more than one leader, who tends to make most of the decisions.
Usually the pack will have at least one and possibly more breeding male and breeding females.
All the other members of the pack form a hierarchy in which everyone has a place.
Your dog is not a wolf, and though we have tended to think Alpha is important position, new thinking and study has somewhat disproved this idea.
That is not to say you should not show leadership through controlling resources in a fair and equable way In your home, you and your family become your dog's family, as do any other dogs you may have.
It is therefore your responsibility to establish yourself in a position of authority and trust. If you fail to do this, your dog may question your requests. Many people assume that they are automatically the lead figure just because they are humans.

Are you really the leader? Does your dog know it and respect your wishes and commands? Are you controlling all the resources around your dog and does the dog see you as the resource controller? See the article "The Alpha Myth"
Being the leader/controller does not mean you have to be big and aggressive. Nor does it mean that there has to be a battle of strength or wills.  Anyone can be the leader/controller. It is an attitude an air of authority.
It is the basis for mutual respect, and provides the building blocks of communication and trust between you and your dog. It never means punishment or overt aggression.

Stan Rawlinson © 1999   This article was written by ©Stan Rawlinson (The Original Doglistener). A professional full time Dog Behaviourist and Obedience Trainer.

Catie Arney
KioKee Mastiffs

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Just a thought!!

What I Have Learned: Here are 10 important lessons I've learned in 45 years as a dog breeder..

This is an article by Kathy Lorentzen that was published in Dogs in Review Magazine, February 13th, 2015; It presents 10 strong points to consider before you ever do a breeding. 
Boston Terrier Puppy
Difficult as it might be, do not let sentimentality enter into your breeding decisions. Photo by Isabelle Francais.
1. Start slow. Regardless of how much you think you know, you probably don’t know very much when you are a fledgling breeder. The faster you go, the more mistakes you will make and the more messes you will have to clean up. Plan your first few litters with great care and a lot of help from your mentors, and take the time to watch them grow up before you breed again. Waiting and watching those first litters will fill you with knowledge that you didn’t realize you were missing.
2. Believe in survival of the fittest. This is one of the most difficult lessons a breeder must learn but also one of the most critical. Going to great lengths to save a puppy that nature says was not meant to survive brings nothing but heartache. I have yet to see a happy outcome at the end of a monumental attempt to save a dog at all costs.
3. Listen to the opinions of your peers. An opposing opinion from a successful breeder may give you something completely different to think about. Nobody says you have to do what other people tell you, but by all means be open to what they have to say.
4. Don’t succumb to Frequently Used Sire syndrome. It happens all the time. Ten other people bred to a dog, so you think you should breed to him too. Stop and ask yourself why you think you should breed to that dog. Are you familiar with several generations of the dogs in his pedigree? Does he have ancestors in common with your bitch that were strong for the characteristics you are looking for from your litter? Have you had your hands on the dog and a number of his children? Does he (and do his children) have the strengths you are looking for? If he is a total outcross for you, is he even the same style as your bitch? Are you comfortable with not only his health clearances but also those of his parents, grandparents and siblings? Forcing yourself to honestly answer all of these questions may bring you to the conclusion that he is not at all the right dog for your bitch.
5. Listen to your gut, not to your heart. Difficult as it might be, do not let sentimentality enter into your breeding decisions. I don’t care if your best friend has a dog that she wants you to breed to; if he isn’t the right dog, say no. I don’t care if you raised a singleton puppy and are incredibly attached to it; if it isn’t of the quality to move you forward in your breeding program, find a pet home for it. I don’t care if you have two dogs of your own that you absolutely love; if they are not the right match, then don’t breed them to one another. If someone wants to buy a dog from you but your gut is telling you it’s a bad idea, then I will bet you that it is a bad idea. Just say no. Learning to say no is very important. Do not get sucked into anything that your head and your gut tell you is wrong. You can be nice and say no at the same time. It is a word that will serve you well.
6. Create your own stud force. Having watched the most successful breeders in many breeds for 50 years, I firmly believe that your family of dogs will be better if you create your own stud dogs to breed to your own bitches. Make two lines of dogs that are loosely related yet far enough apart so that you can breed them back and forth to one another. Keep the characteristics that you consider critical in your breed prominent in both lines, but differ the style of the two lines somewhat. Example: You cannot keep breeding elegant to elegant to elegant without eventually losing size and substance. If your breed should be strong yet elegant, you can maintain size and substance and also keep the correct amount of elegance if you breed two lines back and forth where one is more elegant and one is more compact, bigger boned and ribbed. The blending of your two lines of dogs will result in a family that has a specific look that will be recognizable as having come from your kennel. Your dogs will breed more true and consistently higher in quality than if you just keep a few brood bitches and continually breed them to the stud dogs around the country that are the flavor of the month.
7. Know how to add new blood to your program. Obviously, you will eventually have to introduce at least a partial outcross into your family of dogs. I learned long ago from a very savvy breeder that the way to do this is to buy the right bitch to bring in to breed to your own stud dogs. Choose very carefully. Buy one that is the same style as your dogs, from a pedigree that has some common ancestors with your dogs and make certain that she (hopefully) will be useful to breed to at least two of your own stud dogs. If you are looking to introduce a characteristic that you think is somewhat lacking in your breeding program, be absolutely certain that not only does the bitch have that characteristic but that she is from a pedigree filled with dogs that had it. Then when you breed her to your dogs, select those that have the characteristic and breed those back into your lines. In this manner, your dogs will not lose their "look,” and you will have introduced some new blood and a new strength to your bloodlines.
8. Look back often, but never go backward. Advances in the use of semen from dogs long dead have given breeders options never before available. It’s one thing to use frozen semen from a dog that was your own or a dog you knew well. It’s quite another to use frozen from a piece of breed history that you never laid eyes on. Predicting the outcome of such a breeding is not possible, and it could be a giant step backward. I also have watched while some breeders have used semen from one of their own deceased dogs over and over and over, which results in a program that never moves forward. The outcome of someone using a particular dog over and over is a decrease in the general quality of their family of dogs. Breeding programs are meant to move forward with each generation, in my opinion, and while an occasional dose of a long-deceased dog might be a wonderful thing to have, I believe that too much can lead to ruination.
9. Deal with your mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, but it’s what you do about fixing it and trying to never make that same mistake again that defines you as a dog breeder. Keep the best interest of your breed, not just your own dogs, foremost. Follow that path and you will leave your breed healthy, sound and full of quality for the next generation of breeders. Honesty is always the best policy in dog breeding. If you create a problem, own up to it and perhaps you will save someone else from the same fate.
10. Be objective about judging. The first thing I would ask you all to do is to remove the word "dumped” from your vocabulary. Just because your dog did not win does not mean that it got dumped. I have always disliked that word and never use it in reference to judging. Train yourself to understand what individual judges are looking for. Different people have different priorities, and understanding those priorities will help you decipher their judging. If you feel that you have a legitimate question about why another dog defeated yours, there is nothing wrong with approaching the judge when on break (with your dog in tow, please) and asking. Please do not open the conversation with, "What didn’t you like about my dog?” Instead, ask why the other dog placed over yours. Try to make the conversation a positive learning experience. If you find that dogs from a particular family consistently defeat yours, sit down and watch those dogs, and try to understand why. If your dogs don’t win, do not immediately think politics. The great majority of the time, it simply isn’t. School yourself in your breed, how to condition, trim and present it to its absolute best, and take a step back and ask yourself if your dogs are truly worthy of winning in good competition. Ask seasoned, successful breeders for advice. We want you to stay in our sport, not get frustrated and leave because your dogs don’t win. We want you to learn, have good dogs and develop into the next generation of knowledgeable breeders so that we can breathe easy when we hand the reins of our breed over to you.

From the February 2015 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Reviewmagazine, or call 1-888-738-2665 to purchase a single copy.

Note: over the years , I have discussed these points with many a potiential puppy buyer who is looking for a dog to breed to their beloved companion or who wish to become "breeders."   I tell folks-->Breeding dogs is not for sissies--it takes time, money, sweat, and knowledge to breed good dogs and to keep improving with each generation.

Take the time to learn your breed standard--assess your goals and your dogs.  If your dogs are not good to excellent exaamples of the breed--> Do Not Breed them!!!

Learn your pedigree--learn it's strong points and it's weaknesses. Study how to improve and breed better dogs each generation.  Educate yourself  on pedigrees and lines  BEFORE you buy your first dog.


Catie C. Arney
KioKee Mastiffs
Hickory, NC

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lionhearted Mastiff-Gloria Davis -2015 update

It has now been five years since I and others received e-mails that  set forth our search for answers.  Occasionally, I get inquires about Gloria's missing person/Homicide investigation.  Anderson County Sheriff's department in Anderson, SC still list Gloria's missing person case as an open homicide. 

There was much confusion those first few weeks--lots of miscommunication and misinformation  was spread causing confusion in the investigation.   Time has calmed those troubled waters; what remains a glaring truth is that Gloria Davis remains missing and there has been no evidence of  her being alive since  December of 2009.  None of Gloria's friends or family have had any contact with her since December 2009. All of her personal belongings including her ID, SS card, driver's license, Checking account information, personal belongings, and her car were found in the house on the Anderson property. Since her disappearance, there has been no activity on her SS card/number, banking account, credit cards, or any other personal information. Gloria Davis has basically fell off the face of the earth.  Somewhere, someone has the information needed to bring Gloria home. 

As I have done every year--I post a blog entry to remind the Mastiff Community that We still need answers.

There is a reward for  information which leads to the apprehension and /or conviction of any person or persons responsible for the disappearance of Gloria Davis.  IF you feel you have information relating to the disappearance of Gloria Davis, please contact the investigating officer in Anderson, SC-- Detective Wayne Mills. Any piece of information may be the link so needed in this investigation.  This  Information is needed so that Gloria can be brought home to her family.  He can be reached at

It is my sincere hope that Gloria can be brought home to her  mother, sons  and grandsons.  Join me in praying that justice will be served.

Catie C. Arney
KioKee Mastiffs

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Health Matters: The Hype on Hips

Health Matters: The Hype on Hips

One of the most commonly recommended health screening tests for breeding dogs is a hip evaluation. Most breeds require this evaluation for CHIC certification.

By Debra M. Eldredge, DVM | Posted: Apr 18, 2014 10:30 a.m. PST

Dog Hip Dysplasia X-Ray
Hips can be evaluated through X-ray (shown) by OFA or a series of radiographs by the PennHIP method.
One of the most commonly recommended health screening tests for breeding dogs is a hip evaluation. There are a few breeds that don’t list this for their CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) certification, due to low incidence of problems, but most breeds do require it.
Hips are evaluated through a radiograph (X-ray) by OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or series of radiographs by the PennHIP method (developed at the University of Pennsylvania and now owned by Antech). The primary disease being screened for is hip dysplasia. Via OFA, a single position is evaluated for criteria of joint anatomy. In PennHIP, multiple views are used to determine joint laxity. Faulty anatomy and/or joint laxity increase the chances of a dog developing degenerative joint disease. This can be painful and limit a dog’s working career as a performance or show dog.
A similar radiograph is used to evaluate small and toy breeds for a problem called Legge-Calves-Perthes. This is a genetic predisposition to necrosis of the femoral head of the hip joint. Dogs can be evaluated for this as young as 12 months of age — not the standard 2 years of age for a regular hip dysplasia certification.
Hip dysplasia itself is a multifactorial disease, which has both genetic and environmental components. Hip screening methods hopefully remove some dogs with very poor joint structure from the gene pool. Owners need to also make sure their dogs have a correct diet and proper exercise.
All of that sounds very scientific and clear-cut. In reality, hip dysplasia can be difficult to predict. Most dog fanciers have come across a dog at some point with a stunningly beautiful floating gait that on X-ray turned out to have basically no hip sockets at all. There was no lameness due to friction because there was no joint action. Eventually that dog would break down, but early on, it might be the stunning mover in the crowd.
There are also cases where an X-ray shows poor anatomy, a loose joint and maybe even degenerative changes in the joint. The dog in question might be lame, or it might not. The X-ray makes us wince, but the dog shows no pain or problems. On the other hand, a dog with minor joint laxity and maybe an OFA rating of Fair may show signs of degeneration along with pain at a fairly young age. The chant of veterinary radiologists comes to mind: "Treat the dog, not the X-rays!”
Beyond an individual dog, breeders want to screen future breeding stock. If possible, they would like to prevent any hip problems from cropping up in future litters. Therefore, recommendations are always to breed the dogs with the best hips to each other (all other factors being considered equal, which rarely happens out in the "real world”). Diligent breeders breed their OFA-rated dogs or their dogs with PennHIP readings better than 50 percent of the other dogs in their breed.
The results? A slightly mixed bag. Breeding dogs with good hips certainly increases the odds for puppies with good hips. If you breed two dogs with good hips and tight joints together, you still might get 25 percent of puppies with a problem (or hips not as good as their parents). If you breed two dysplastic dogs together, the incidence of problems in puppies goes up to about 75 percent. This is a result of many genes interacting and the environmental factors chiming in as well.
There are currently groups at work to find a DNA screening test for hip dysplasia. Both Cornell University and Vet Gen labs are looking at finding a test for this problem. Vet Gen is currently looking for samples from a variety of breeds with multiple members of the family affected. The Cornell research is centered on Labrador Retrievers.
It is important to realize that a hip dysplasia DNA test is very, very unlikely to be a clear-cut, simple one-gene test. Some DNA tests give you very black-and-white results, such as, Dog A is either totally normal and can’t pass on the problem; Dog A is a heterozygote, and while he may be normal himself, there is a 50/50 chance he will pass on the defect; or Dog A has the defect. Those are the "dream” genetic tests.
With hip dysplasia so far, there does not seem to be one all-important deciding gene. Instead, researchers are coming up with a number of "marker genes.” A dog having many of those marker genes has a higher risk of developing hip problems. So any test coming out in the near future is likely to have "predictive risk” — not a black-and-white answer. It will still be important for individual dogs to have correct diet and exercise.
What can breeders do to minimize the risk of passing on hip dysplasia in a litter? Start with parents whose hips are better than the average for the breed. That may be determined based on a number in the PennHIP system or a rating from OFA. In Belgian Tervuren, for example, very few dogs with a Fair rating are bred. Most dogs being bred are OFA Good or Excellent.
Look beyond the two dogs you are planning to mate. Look at all of their siblings. Then look at their parents and the siblings of their parents. The more in depth — both horizontally and vertically — you can go with a health pedigree, the better your chances are for healthy pups. Do not breed dogs that have not had screening done.
If at all possible, breeders need to get health screenings on all their puppies. Simply checking hips on the show/breeding puppies isn’t enough. At least theoretically, those are the puppies with the best structure and movement to begin with. If you only evaluate those pups, you may be getting a false sense of security on the health of hips in your lines.
Hip dysplasia is a challenge, but with careful research and widespread screening, you should be able to reduce the incidence of problems in your kennel.

From the April 2014 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Reviewmagazine, or call 1-888-738-2665 to purchase a single copy.

Great information supporting correct diet and exercise for proper hip and joint development; two of the practices I have advocated here at KioKee Mastiffs for over 30 + years.   For all future puppy buyers, please remember a "health pedigree" is as important as a line pedigree.  JMO.

Cathy C. Arney

KioKee Mastiffs
Hickory, NC