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Applying psychological training techniques and Leishmaniasis

We have now reached the nuts and bolts on the subject of dog training as well as how to use it in corrective training. Because we now have such a good understanding of why dogs do what they do, we are now able to train and retrain more effectively with a far greater chance of success.

Just to use one final human example regarding the use of the rejection method to demonstrate that the use of external pain is a destructive force to socialbility whilst utilising our survival system creating internal pain is acting as a bonding force keeping us together as groups or families.

Both dogs and humans have the same need for socialbility and why both our survival programmes work the same to keep us socialised and working as groups rather than as loners. The survival rule has always been there is safety in numbers.

As a parent, you come home and see your teenager's bedroom in such a mess event the rats dare not go inside for fear of catching something. What do you do? Yell at the child and give them a hard talking to. Ground the child, remove all their privileges and even possibly resorting to hitting the child. What normally happens is the child will go off to their room in escape mode, angry and sulking. They are furious and wish to be as far apart from you as they can. I once threatened my parents with leaving home but my dad said he would help me pack. I instinctively knew being on my own would not work.

After a while, the parents begin to feel the pain from the break up of the family. Our survival programme is saying this is not the way to survive so parents begin to feel guilty. They may not know why but they do. One parent may even suggest the other may have been too hard or that alternatively they should be firm and stand together but as the rage subsides, they cannot ignore the pain of separation.

Eventually they have a need to reform the bond so they call the child, who now is not even talking to them and treating their parents with contempt. Eventually they make a compromise, the child regains his or her privileges, and once the parents have left the room the child punches the air with the fist and says, "Yes". Some people may say that the parents should not have given in as the child has won. Others will say they did the right thing. The problem here is that the parents felt they had to repair the bond; the child did nothing

The parents could try to solve this problem with a different approach making the child do the work. The parent waits until their child is in their room and then enters with a look of shock horror just like in the days of silent movies. No words are spoken the parent just quietly shuts the door and goes back to the lounge to watch television.

The child is now feeling fear of what punishment may about to happen so after a while comes into the lounge to ask if they can do anything for you, and ask if you are ok. The parent answers the child with that brilliant word fine. "I'm fine" meaning they are not. It cuts just as a knife so the child feels the rejection pains as their survival programmes suggests this is not the way to survive and they must correct the situation fast.

The child subconsciously knows they must go back to their room and clean it up but quietly. Eventually they come back to the lounge and mention in passing what they have done by their choice. The parent then just passes some comment as if nothing was ever wrong. Now both the parents and child can go in different directions both punching the air saying, "Yes". The parents have their child cleaning their room as well as repairing the bond. The parents have done nothing.

This method works just as well with dogs. The need for your dog to feel part of the family is the only way it knows how to survive. If there are any signs of rejections along similar lines, this will produce the same sort of psychological feelings. Inflicting real physical pain and your dog wishes to get away from you whilst showing rejection by ignoring your dog and it will feel alone so it will try everything to get back in favour with you. You get the sad eyes or the jaw resting on your leg. I expect everyone has had at some time had the paw pulling at your legs or arms or even when your dog tries to climb up onto you to lick your face.

This is just one application of how we can take advantage of such psychological techniques. I have always preferred the application of a subject rather than to just learn the theory. We learn from our mistakes and why we like to read the agony aunt columns etc. We can then see how others have made similar mistakes and we hope we can learn the best way to fix them.

I will describe my training of Winston using such techniques in the next few articles but for now I have received many requests for information regarding Leishmaniasis and the use of the white collars seen being worn by many dogs to minimise the risk of contracting this parasite.

Many dogs in Spain are healthy and never had any attempt by their owners to try to protect them from this disease. There are also many dogs bitten by an infected sand fly but the dog's immune system is able to control the parasite. Therefore, what is all the fuss about?

Leishmaniasis is a microscopic parasite that lives inside the cells of the blood and the internal organs of normally wild animals causing them little trouble. It is when sand flies transmit it to our domesticated dogs or humans that it becomes dangerous. The female sand fly contracts this parasite when it feeds on an infected animal. The fly needs the protein in the blood to make its eggs but once the parasite is inside its stomach it will keep dividing until the next time the fly bites another animal it will pass on some of the cells into its skin.

The sand fly is a small two-winged insect about three mm long that breeds in moist soil. They do not live on the beach as the name suggests it is because they are a sandy colour. They normally feed from dusk to dawn and as they have restricted flight, they normally do not enter properties. This is why the advice is to keep your dogs indoors from dusk to dawn especially once the temperature rises above 20 degrees. The normal active season for sand flies is between the months of May to October so from November to April it is hibernating as larvae in moist soil.

Currently the best protection for dogs is the Scalibor collar impregnated with the insecticide Deltametrina. However, it is not a guarantee of 100% protection but until a vaccine comes onto the market, it is the best that is available.

The chemical is insoluble in water so your dogs are able to swim without having to keep removing the collar. To achieve full protection the chemical is soluble in the oils of the dog's coat. With the friction of the collar on the dog's neck, the oils spread minute amounts of the insecticide all over the dog's body. For complete coverage, it takes about two weeks and each collar should last the whole of the six months sand fly activity season. If you shampoo your dog, do use a shampoo that contains deltametrina otherwise normal shampoos will wash off much of the natural oils and reduce the level of protection.

If your dog does become infected it will normally take just over six months for the symptoms to appear. These are loss of hair particularly around the eyes, loss of weight and skin sores. The more technical symptoms are cutaneous lesions, wasting, lymphadenopathy, ocular lesions, epistaxis, anaemia, renal failure, diarrhoea and lameness. The best advice is to regularly have your dog's blood tested. If you have access to the Internet and wish to know more then is more informative on this subject.

Currently there is no cure for this disease though there is a possibility of a vaccine derived from the sand fly's saliva in a few years time but this would first appear in the United States for humans before they produce a vaccine for our dogs. The use of some drugs like Meglumine antimonite and Allopurinol on an infected dog may take away all the symptoms but it will remain a carrier. It is also possible that dogs will relapse after treatment. This is an expensive disease to control and the only health plan insurance I have found unfortunately specifically excludes this illness from the policy.

I paid 15 euros for Winston's collar and for the best current protection; I feel it is well worth the cost.


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