Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Mitochondrial Myopathy in German Shepherd Dogs



Before we directly drop down to Mitochondrial Myopathy in German Shepherd Dog, let us talk a bit about what is "Mitochondria" and what is "Myopathy" separably.

Mitochondria is the cellular structures in an organism in which energy is produced by oxidation of fuels such as glucose and fat in the form of heat and mechanism i.e. working. Researchers have discovered some of the biochemical defects in the mitochondria. Some of the known mitochondrial diseases in dogs and other organisms occurs due to abnormalities in the mitochondrial DNA.

Myopathy is a neuromuscular disorders which make the muscle fibers dysfunction due to one or more reasons. This consequently results in weakening of muscles, leading to cramping and stiffness of muscles and muscular spasms. Myopathy can be of different types like mitochondrial myopathies, congenital myopathies, muscular dystrophies etc.

Inherited disorders of carnitine metabolism in dogs are amongst the most important causes for mitochondrial myopathy in German Shepherd Dogs and other dog breeds. The mitochondrial disorders in German Shepherds occur due to gene mutations - either nuclear genomes or mutation in mitochondrial DNA. The mutations in mitochondrial DNA in dogs get transmitted by maternal inheritance. Putting this in simple, Mitochondrial myopathies in GSD and in any other canine breeds are caused by genetic mutations, which directly affects the functioning of the electron transport chain (ETC).

Although not in very large numbers, yet a few cases of Mitochondrial Myopathy have been found in canines. The histochemical and ultrastructural findings in case of mitochondrial myopathy in German Shepherd Dog breed have been reported quite infrequently by vets.


Case History: Mitochondrial Myopathy in a German Shepherd Dog

A male German Shepherd Dog of around 36 weeks old had been referred to the Department of Veterinary Clinical Science – Surgery Section, University of Naples for a systematic evaluation of progressive exercise tolerance. The dog had a history of intolerance to exercise, reluctance to move, and spontaneous pain. The symptoms had started showing just a month before the dog was referred to the clinic. The condition had been progressively increasing, showing signs of systemic muscle atrophy, mainly in limb and truncal muscles, accompanied with muscular pain, stiffness in gait, thoracolumbar kyphosis (spinal deformity). The German Shepherd with such a clinical symptoms was exhibiting bunny hopping in hind legs while trying to move fast.

Since the orthopedic and neurologic examinations of the German Shepherd turned out to be unremarkable, his blood samples were collected for hematologic and serologic examination. The report of hematologic examination did not show any abnormalities, while on the other hand the biochemistry revealed an increase in the level of creatine kinase at 37 C (181 U/liter), lactate dehydrogenase (510 U/liter), and aspartate aminotransferase (123.6 U/liter). Moreover, radiographs of stifle region and coxofemoral had been taken. However, no abnormalities could be found in the rediograph report. Muscle biopsies were also taken from the femoral biceps muscle for histopathologic examination.

Organs that get affected by Mitochondrial Myopathy in Dogs

In mitochondrial disorders in dogs, the worst affected organs are the ones that mainly depends on oxidative metabolism (chemical reactions involving oxygen). However, these organs includes brain, skeleton, and heart muscles, sensory organs and kidney. The existence of mildest degree of mitochondrial myopathy in GSD, like any other canine breed will cause mild weakness of muscles, which would be mostly noticed in the arms. There will also be exercise intolerance.

Signs of Mitochondrial Myopathy in canine

German Shepherd Dog - like any other dogs affected with mitochondrial myopathies have severe exercise intolerance that can be consistently demonstrated with even mild exercise. They have stiff, stilted gait, bunny-hopping in the pelvic limbs, reluctance to move, and spontaneous pain. Laboratory tests reveal exercise-induced metabolic acidosis.

Diagnosis of Canine Mitochondrial Myopathy

Diagnosis of mitochondrial myopathies in dog often involves a multifaceted approaches. It requires demonstration of post-exercise plasma lactate and pyruvate concentrations. Light and electron microscopic evaluation of mitochondria of the dog within muscle biopsy sections are also used to diagnose mitochondrial myopathies in canine breeds. Precise characterization is dependent on specialized biochemical tests and molecular studies.

Treatments of Mitochondrial Myopathy in GSD or other canine breeds

Treatments of Mitochondrial Myopathy in GSD or other canine breeds range from treating the symptoms to very specific cause-targeting treatments. The common treatments include administration of antioxidants - especially vitamin E, alternative energy sources - creatine monohydrate, lactate reduction - dichloroacetate and most importantly - exercise training. Exposing the patients to correct type and level of exercise is a particularly very important modality in treating canine Mitochondrial Myopathy.

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Monday, December 30, 2019

Understanding "Speed" in the GSD Show Dogs

German Shepherd is a trotting breed and has been bred with "Endurance" in the forefront of mind. So, obviously when we talk about speed, we mean trotting pace. Some dogs exhibit lengthy strides, while others comparatively short strides. During a trot a dog can increase its trotting pace in two ways:

1. Increases the number of strides in a given span of time. This means the frequency of strides is increased  
 
2. Increases the length of the strides.

Almost all the good specimens in the world have been noticed to initially increase the stride length to increase the trotting pace. After reaching a certain level of pace, the dog fails to increase its stride length. This is the Optimum Stride Length Point, from where the dog tends to increase the number of steps in order to speed up its trot.

However, some dogs have tendency increase the frequency of the strides from the beginning itself instead of stretching the stride length. In such situations the dog's efficiency gets compromised, because it needs to takes more number of steps to cover the same amount of ground that is covered by the dog that use Lengthy Stride. Therefore the dogs that use increased Lengthy Strides are usually preferred over the other counterpart (the dogs that have tendency to increase stride frequency from the beginning) by a judge.

I have seen people (spectators) in many show grounds clapping and cheering dogs that exhibit speedy trots with high stride frequency from the beginning. We need to remember that German Shepherd is a trotting breed at the first place. Speed isn't the criteria of his beauty. The dog wasn't bred to run fast, but to trot miles consistently and steadily. His beauty lies in his ability of consistent, effortless and rhythmic trotting for a long span of time with firmness of back, covering maximum amount of ground as possible even longer stride. If dog increases the speed by increasing the stride frequency then he will suffer a shortage of energy after a short spell of time.


Related reads:


 


Below embedded the video of the legendary Vegas du Haut Mansard, exhibiting his very rhythmic trot, originally uploaded by fontedasbicas 


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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Cross Steps, Cross Over, Gait Assessment in German Shepherd Dog during Trotting

What does a judge see about steps while judging gait/locomotion of the GSD? A good judge will definitely try to assess the steps, alongside the overall gait, because how a GSD settles its steps during trotting says a lot about the dog’s overall gait.

This post should yield adequate idea about steps and gait to the owners who show their dogs. Even if you do not show your dog, it is important that you are aware of your dog’s structure/ built.

The two most important parameters to understand are “Cross Steps” and “Cross Overs”

During a trot the fore foot that is carried towards the front, touches the ground when the fore foot that is lagging behind is just lifted. The same stepping nature is demonstrated by the hind feet. The rear foot that is carried towards the front touches the ground when the rear foot that is stretched backward is just lifted.

The right front foot and the left hind foot is carried towards same direction, while the left front foot and the right hind foot is carried towards same direction, which is a typical diagonal stepping pattern. There’s nothing special about it, as this clearly demonstrates the typical mammalian gait.

Now, for a breed like GSD, (in which the structural built is the most important determinant of an efficient locomotion), what’s special and needs to be considered is the distance between the two fore feet and the distance between the two rear feet, when the dog is trotting.

The distance between the two fore feet (one stretched towards the front and the other lagging backward) while trotting, is known as “Front Cross Step”. 

The distance between the two rear feet (one carried towards the front and the other stretched out backward) while trotting, is known as “Rear Cross Step”. 

The most ideal and desired locomotion type demands the equality between “Front Cross Step” and “Rear Cross Step”. However, it is well understood that it may not be possible that “Front Cross Step” and “Rear Cross Step” are exactly equal. But lesser the deviation, better!

The picture below gives a pictorial understanding of Front and Rear Cross Steps

This uniformity in cross steps is usually missing in the show dogs that have more angulated hinds. The show line GSDs have more acute hind angulations, due to  which the Rear Cross Step gets slightly more stretched out and becomes longer compared to the Front Cross Step

In the picture below the blue dots indicates the points of contact of the front paws and the ground, and the blue line indicates the Front Cross Step. The red dots indicates the points of contact of the rear paws and the ground, and the red line indicates the Rear Cross Step. It is clearly noticed that the Rear Cross Step is comparatively longer than the Front Cross Step. This is typically noticed in show specimens - especially in the dogs that have overly angulated hinds.



Due to the the longer Rear Cross Step, the rear foot that is carried forward and front foot that is lagging backward cross over each other. This situation is known as Rear and Front Feet Cross Over. As a result of such Cross Over the pastern of the rear limb touches the ground, which is not desired. 

 The deep angulation of the hinds that causes Rear Foot - Front Foot Cross Overs, and that leads to ground-pastern contact, seriously impairs the performance. The efficiency of the dog's movement and power of the strides are both compromised. The hind thrust that carries the dog forward is compromised, due to which the the Speed during a fast trot also gets compromised.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Hindquarters in German Shepherds

Before delving deep into details of hindquarters of German Shepherd Dog lets us have a brief talk about what the hindquarters of a dog is composed of – that’s important. The hindquarters are composed of pelvis, croup and the tail, each of which is has its own importance as far as the standard structure of the dog is concerned. Like in any other dog breed, the hindquarter of German Shepherd Dog is most important part of the body, as it provides the entire force that the dog requires during locomotion.

German Shepherd is a trotting dog and requires a great deal of energy and force during trotting. The dog must be able to cover maximum amount of ground through long stretches with minimum effort. Hindquarter in GSD is the most important part of energy portion. The prerequisite of appropriate hindquarters in German Shepherds is correct anatomical structure (right angulation), combined with strong muscles and good bones. The hindquarter of German Shepherd dog is the major source of power of propulsion. Correct angulations (neither overly angulated, nor under-angulated) anatomy of hindquarter is desirable in German Shepherd Dogs. Any weakness in anatomical structure of the hindquarter in GSD breed will compromise the dog's overall gait, which is readily apparent. Without powerful hindquarters in GSD breed running gear in the rear cannot be powerful, which in turn compromises the ability of the dog to work for long hours efficiently and to cover maximum ground with minimum effort.

Let us delve deeper into the German Shepherd Dog Hindquarters




German Shepherd Dog Pelvis

Like in any other mammals, the pelvis of German Shepherd Dog is a complex arrangement of bones that absorb the jolts and take power or propulsion generated by the rear legs and channels it to over the Spinal cord. The pelvis of German Shepherd Dogs must be strong enough to tolerate the jolts during locomotion. Most importantly, GSD pelvis should be correctly angulated so that it can transmit the power through the hip joint, croup and direct it further forward through the joint between the sacrum and the seventh or the last, lumbar vertebra, and transmit it further straight through the spinal chord parallel to the ground. This mechanism is almost similar in all dogs – irrespective of breeds and types. Since German Shepherds are trotting dogs and effective & effortless trotting demand perfect pelvis angulations and good strength without which desired power of propulsion cannot be delivered. As a trotting and working breed the pelvis in GSD is considered as one of the most important parts of the GSD hindquarter.



At first the “pushing off” phase of the stride for any kind of gait makes the paw positioned almost below the hip joint, there from forcing of the leg backward when it becomes almost straight. This propulsion tends to generate a severe force almost straight upwards, and eventually gets transmitted through the croup and further forward through the spine of the dog. As soon as the stride comes to an end, the paw is slightly lifted up into and during the follow-through, the power comes up at an angle f around 45 degree to the ground, when the legs is stretched almost straightened.

Pelvis Angulation 

 A correct angle of German Shepherd Dog pelvis is of utmost importance in order to ensure smooth transmission of energy and power generated during the strides over this part of the rear legs to the spine. The correct angulation of the pelvis in true type German Shepherd Dog normally standing on all four ranges between 30 to 35 degree to the horizontal axis, when the line is drawn through the top of the pelvis. However, another method of explaining the pelvis angulation in GSD breed is by drawing the line right through the middle of the the ilial crest and the ischial tuberosity. In this case the angulation of German Shepherd pelvis s reckoned between 20 and 25 degree to the horizontal axis. We consider the spine as the horizontal axis. Deviation of angulations of the German Shepherd Dog Pelvis is often noticed in domestic stock that have not been put to desired amount of physical stress for generations.


Both these processes of drawing are measuring Pelvis angles are valid 

Pelvis Set

Neither too flat nor overly steep pelvis is acceptable for German Shepherds, because too flat pelvis will exert extra pressure to the top of the acetabulum and overly steep pelvis tends to misuse some energy by transmitting it upwards through the sacral joint instead of channeling it through the spine. Both these extremities tend to compromise the effective trotting.



Both conditions are undesirable 

Pelvis Width

Width of Pelvis in GSD is quite a lot important. The pelvis must be wide enough to give the heavy muscles of the loin and thighs enough area. In GSD females the pelvis should be wide enough to give good amount of space for well developed birth canal.

Croup in German Shepherd Dog 

The croup forms the roof of the pelvis and first few caudal vertebrae of the tail, and consists of sacral vertebrae. The number of caudal vertebrae of the tail included in the croup region depends solely on the length of the croup. The croup is slanted towards the back and the degree of slant depends of how the pelvis is set. Flat pelvis will result in flat croup while overly steep pelvis will result in what is conventionally called steep croup, both of which are undesirable. Often steep pelvis in German Shepherd Dogs show up flat and short croup due to the tail set very high. Again flat pelvis will result in flat croup which may show long or short depending on the tail set.

The length of croup hardly has any influence on the gait nor does it influence the length of strides. But the croup should be broad enough to give good room for the muscles over the region that helps in the distribution of power to the spine. A flat pelvis will show a flat croup, but it could be long or short depending upon the tail set. Even an ideally set pelvis can show a croup apparently overly long or short depending on the tail set. A very strong and high drive dog can show short croup due to its high tail carriage. Consistently high tail carriage and set can result in apparently shorter croup in German Shepherd Dogs. This is where the significance of tail set comes to play.

The GSD Tail

There is actually no influence of the tail on the German Shepherd Dog hindquarters; nor does the tail carriage and tail set have any influence on the dog’s gait and propulsion power and length of strides. According to the German Shepherd dog Standard the tail should be bushy tail and long enough to fall well past the hock. The GSD tail should be gently curved at the end without any twists, sharp curls and kinks. Standard requires the tail should not set high or too low and should fall normally when at rest or not excited. The carriage of the tails determines the dog’s state of mind. Most dogs from the working lines have often high set tails. High set and a high carriage of tails are not always same in all dogs, although the correct tails set allows the dog to carry his tail at around 45 degrees to the horizontal axis, when excited. Very low tail carriage is again faulty. Tail that seems to sprout out from the croup called Rooty Tail is not desirable, because such a tail set exposes the perianal fistula to the risk of vulnerability.


High or too low set tail, stumpy tails are undesirable. Tail should fall normally, when not excited.


Rooty Tail is not desirable 

Upper and Lower Thighs in German Shepherds

 Another vital parts of the hindquarters in German Shepherd Dogs are the Upper and the Lower thighs and the stifle. The curve and the angulations of the stifle, which depends on the angulations at which the Upper and the Lower thighs are attached is again another very important factor that provides power to the action of propulsion during the movement. The stifle angulations should be almost equal to the angle created by the upper arm and scapula. This angulation of the stifle brings in an overall balance required for effortless and powerful strides. Powerful locomotion is aided by correct stifle angulations, which is measured with the dog standing on all four squares, that is to say, standing with the hind feet positioned under the hip joints. This means standing NOT in stacking position. A correctly angulated stifle in a German Shepherd Dog will have their hocks located on a vertical line drawn across the ischial tuberosity, when standing on four square. When the GSD is made to stand on all four square, the hock will not be vertical. The rear angulation is of utmost importance when the dog requires extreme, short distance speed during an attack or a brief chase while herding sheep. In a true type GSD the femur should be almost parallel to the scapula and the tibia/fibula should be almost parallel to humerus. The long bones of the hind legs are of same length and are almost as long as the humerus. The long bones of the hind legs in German Shepherds are the major source of power and speed, and hnce they must of proportionate length. Too long bones, for instance, may produce a great speed and good jumping ability, but at the same time they burn out good amount of energy as well. As they are equal in length (neither too long, nor too short), they help to generate powerful propulsion which helps in maximum ground coverage with minimum effort.

Like wolves, German Shepherd Dogs are long distance trotters. Long, effortless and effective trotting demands perfect stifle angulation and efficient running gear that would burn minimum energy while covering maximum ground while controlling a herd of sheep.

According to the German Shepherd standard the desirable angulation of the upper and lower thigh bones to the horizontal axis (consider ground here) should be 120 degrees, which should refer to the stifle angle when in the proper stack position. Most experienced handlers can make their dog stack in such a manner that the dog will look dog look better angulated than it actually is. Moreover, most GSDs that have been properly taught to stack correctly usually tend to settle down in the rear part, as a result of which the lower thigh tend to be placed more parallel to the ground than it normally is, which thereby, increases the hock angulation while on stack. This, in turn, breaks the parallel relationship between the lower and the upper thigh. It is hence, suggested to measure the angulations of upper and lower thighs to the horizontal axis by making the dog stand naturally (both the hind legs together), and not in stacked position. The real skeletal of the hind region in German Shepherds will be far easier to see.

Related angulation

 Excessive angulation is harmful. Overly angulated hind quarter results in a situation when the dog requires spending more energy while on the move. Overly acute angle between upper thigh and lower thigh, accompanied with the tibia/fibula being proportionately longer than femur will tend to set the hock close to the ground. This, in turn, increases the angle between the tibia/fibula and the dog’s metatarsus, which consequently creates an undesirable condition called sickle hocks.

Angulation should be proportionate and should not compromise the overall strength in the strides. Essential necessities are strong muscles, equally long bones, strong ligaments and perfect height-to-length ratio.

German Shepherd Dog Hock 

This is another very important part to discuss when it comes to hind quarters in German Shepherd Dogs. When the GSD is made to stack – like in the show ring – with the left leg pulled back, the hock should be vertical to the ground. While in the stacked position, an atomically sound GSD should have a hock almost parallel to the femur – (NOT perfectly parallel though), thereby making the hock angulation and stifle angulation almost same – around 95 degrees.

Hocks in a trotting breed in German Shepherds are of utmost importance. Any kind of deformities in hock is considered as fault as the propulsive power at the end of a stride on the trot is being transmitted though the joint of the hock. While galloping, both the hock joints generate great force together, which cannot be fulfilled by defective hocks. Similarly while jumping, even higher force is needed to propel the entire body, which cannot be possible with a defective hock.


Different Faults in German Shepherd Hock 


Straight hocks degrade the quality of strides by shortening the strides to a great extent, thereby checking the speed and ability to jump.Straight hocks are faults in GSD breed.


Sickle hocks, are noticed in many show dogs that have more angulated hock – more acute angulation than the angle of femur. In case of extreme sickle hocks, the metatarsus tends lay almost flat to the ground, which is a serious fault.

Cow hocks, is again another serious fault in German Shepherds. Cow Hock is a condition where the hocks tend to turn towards each other. Cow hock can be a result of any of the two conditions…


  1. Cow hock due to the entire leg turned out from the hip. In this case the dog tends to stand slightly wider on the rear lags, with the stifle and toes slightly extended outward. Such a condition is considered as normal if the bones in the related areas are straight in connection to each other. 

  2. Cow hock due to twisting inward of the hock and the stifle joints. Such a condition affects the gait or locomotion of the dog, which in turn adversely influence the working ability of the dog. Cow hock due to due to twisting inward of the hock and the stifle joints can only happen if the bones are twisted, which cannot be considered normal. It is a serious fault.  

German Shepherd Dog Foot 

German Shepherd Dog should have a strong and thickly padded arched shaped paws. This is very important, as GSD is a working dog and week paws can hardly tolerate the extensive stress that is being put while on work. The rear paws should be well boned and strong enough to deliver good amount of some propulsive power that can act as an additional force to help the hindquarters while on move. Desirable features are, however, strongly arched toes, powerful ligaments and tendons, well boned, well cushioned paws, which should not be too smooth. The hind paw is generally somewhat smaller than the fore paw. This reduces the contact area of the paws with the ground. This tends to concentrating power of the delivered force by the way of increasing the traction.




 

Note: The images of German Shepherds have been reproduced from the original work of Late Linda J Shaw

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Monday, September 30, 2019

Hind Leg Weakness in German Shepherd Dogs

Does Your GSD Suddenly Start Showing Signs of Hind Leg Weakness?

Rear Limb Weakness (RLW) or hind leg weakness is commonly seen in large breeds including GSD. A German Shepherd that used to run around without missing out even a single step may suddenly exhibit signs of Rear Limb Weakness (RLW) and pain in the hind leg(s). This condition of sudden and progressive weakening of your GSD's hind limbs may go worse day by day, and its sudden onset will put wrinkles on the owner's forehead. This post is aimed at helping you with detailed information about the probable reasons of the condition.


Degenerative Myelopathy

Among the several neurological disorders that manifest themselves with RLW and hind part pain, degenerative myelopathy is commonly found in dogs - irrespective of breed type, size and genders. In worst cases DM in your dog may eventually lead to paresis - partial loss of voluntary movement of the hind limbs. DM starts with malfunctioning of the spinal cord, where the signals are not properly carried to the brain and the dog gradually loses strength and control of the hind legs.


Spinal Cord Injury

Another major reason - quite common - for weakness in hind legs is spinal cord injury, caused by both traumatic and non-traumatic reasons. Any kind of bruise or inflammation in the spinal cord eventually lead to weakness in the rear legs. Severe injury to the spinal cord, and/or vertebral fractures leads to paralysis of rear limbs.

Common traumatic causes of spinal cord injury in dogs:

• Animal abuse (hit by humans)
• Automobile accidents
 • Accidental falls
• Violence - mainly from Gunshot wounds - common in police and war dogs
• Medical/ Surgical Complications


Common non-traumatic causes of spinal cord injury in dogs:

While non-traumatic spinal cord injuries are not as frequently seen as traumatic spinal cord injury, but they are still prevalent.

• Osteoporosis
 • Spinal tumors and cancer
• Multiple sclerosis (disabling disease of spinal cord and brain - the central nervous system(CNS))
• Inflammation of the spinal cord
• Arthritis
• Spinal Stenosis
• Blood Loss


Cushing's Diseases

Cushing's Disease is quite common in dogs of 6 years or above. Cushing's disease
(hyperadrenocorticism caused by an ACTH-secreting tumor of the pituitary gland) is the excess production of cortisol hormone by adrenal glands that are located near the kidneys. The hyper-secretion of Cortisol adversely affects the functioning of many organs and is often accompanied by hind leg weakness, excessive shedding and baldness, pot-bellied appearance, excessive thirst and hunger and general weakness.


Diabetes Mellitus

If your dog has high blood sugar, he/she may exhibit signs of back leg weakness. Overweight canines that are kept on high sugar diets and diets containing grains are more prone develop Diabetes Mellitus. The most common complication that arises from high blood sugar in dogs is diabetic neuropathy, where a temporary or permanent damage of nerve tissues. Such nerve damage usually progresses as a neuropathic problem resulting in weakening of hind legs. This condition eventually progresses either to pain or numbness, and finally the dog will stop movement.


Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD)

Non-Chondrodystrophic breeds like German Shepherd Dog, Doberman Pinscher and Labrador Retriever are prone to the risk of IVDD (Intervertebral disc degeneration). Also called Degenerative Disc Disease or disc rupture, the obese dogs are more exposed to the risk of this condition where the dog loses strength of hind legs, accompanied by mild pain. IVDD often leads to partial to total paralysis of back legs.


Arthritis

Another reason for your GSD's back leg weakness may be arthritic pain. Older dogs may suffer arthritis, weak joints and hip joint pain, which may severely compromize the dog's normal mobility. Arthritis in dogs may also lead to change in attitude and behavior.


Treatment

Treatment completely depends on the cause of RLW. There is no single treatment for all causes of the condition. Your veterinarian may want you to perform and x-ray for your dog to ascertain the cause of weakness and/or pain the back legs. More than that, the vet may also ask you to perform blood tests and urinalysis of your dog that can help him in proper diagnosis. Sometimes general weakness along with RWL may be triggered by the altered (rise or fall) level of minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, or phosphorous in the blood. Electrolytic imbalance can be treated easily.


Note: Sometimes genetics are responsible for RLW. Unscientific breeding without keeping anatomy in focus cause puppies to grow with RLW. YOu will suddenly notice your adolescent pup or the adult GSD showing weakness in his hind, and losing motor function of his hind legs. Over time, the weakness grows into pain and may even get worsen. Proper breeding is hence highly desirable.





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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Playtime Hyper Excitement In German Shepherds



play time over excitement in German Shepherd Dog

Playtime Hyper Excitement has got nothing to do with aggression or any other behavioral problem.

Playtime excitement is quite common in the German Shepherd Dog breed. Hyper excitement during the playtime is also not very uncommon in these dogs. The roots to the creation of the GSD as a breed is directly from the sturdy working sheep dogs and hence the natural energy level is higher than most of the other dog breeds. GSDs are powerful dogs too. They require exercises a lot more than many other dogs to attain a content and balanced playtime.

For German Shepherds that exhibit hyper activeness or over excitement during the playtime needs to be handled in a little different ways during the time of exercise. Firstly, being the alpha member of the team (team composed of you, as the leader and your German Shepherd as your follower), you need to establish a set of rule and ceilings in order to prevent him from taking the advantages of the playtime. The ceiling here denotes a particular type of play that is correct and is desired and your German Shepherd should follow you as the pack leader. All you need to do is to show him how to fetch the ball or how to catch the frisbee. But how to?


Well, this is not a rocket science! And this is highly possible. Make sure that you will not skim the frisbee in the air or throw the ball until he comes to you and calms down to a comparatively cooler state and sits, waits for the throw. Throw the ball after he waits for it and gives you an eye contact, which is a sense of respect towards you – his leader. This way you can frame boundaries or rules of play. But prior to that there are certain steps to be taken, else you will not be able to set up the rules and put him into that.


There is nothing like playing frisbee or fetching a ball with your GSD in order to get his energy drained out. But before you start playing with your hyper active dog, it is recommended that you get a part of his energy exhausted to a little extent. This is important for the process of putting him into your established rule. A long walk accompanied by occasional trotting for few minutes in between the walks can be a great option of drive out some amount of his energy prior to the play. After the walk get into an fenced yard and allow him rest for a while. Then let him play with the ball by himself – rather not involving yourself into the play. Finally give a twist to this entire exercise regime by throwing the frisbee or the ball for him to fetch. Throw it as far away as possible and allow him to fetch.

Also allow him to play with the ball or the frisbee alone when at his room or in the garden. This will gradually degrade his sensitivity to the toys and make the toys less attractive to him eventually.


Most often this kind of overly excited playtime behavior – especially towards the toys are misrepresented as aggression. That's NOT aggression. Many dog owners confuse between play-time over excitement  and aggression. This playtime hyper excitement is nothing to be worried about and there’s no reason for it to be associated aggression. It is just the extra level of excitement and energy that he exhibits through exhibiting hyper sensitivity towards certain toys or certain place (for example a large open lawn or many be your yard) during the playtime – especially the toys that he loves the most.


Remember this entire process is just a package and you need to repeat the whole process as explained over and over until your German Shepherd start behaving in a desensitized way during the play time. However, in such situations it is required to put him into good volume of exercises as explained above throughout the dog's life, until the time he can play well. Volume of exercise must be optimized based on his age and health.

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German Shepherd Puppy Training Tips


Step-by-Step Training Tips For Your German Shepherd Puppy

Shoulds and Should Nots

So you are planning to bring your GSD puppy home! I assume you understand that dog ownership is a life-time commitment, which is not only a commitment of money and effort, but also a commitment of time and relationship too. The German Shepherd puppy is going to be a part of your family and will continue to grow with different requirements – nutritional, activities, space and socialization.


Training your GSD puppy involves building desirable habits that includes everything - starting from feeding and potty habit to desirable play behavior. German Shepherd puppies are very intelligent and grab new tricks quite faster. However, that's not always a fact though! With growth, the puppy will have a desperate need for daily exercise accompanied with ongoing training in order to check all kinds of negative puppy behavior. For a successful and effective training, the puppy should be put to right socializing process. To start off with, your puppy should be socialized with other animals from a very early age, for instance 4 months age.


First time outdoor: Take your puppy outdoor for the first time after the first set of vaccine shots are fully done. Keep him in the fenced area and let him explore the entire external world that he can see for the first time ever. Allow him to sniff out the leaves and grasses, and chase the butterflies, moths and birds. Let him run, play and experience the sounds of the falling leaves, chirping birds and other sounds. This kind of socialization is considered as the most significant part of the beginning of an effective dog training.


Introduction to the training session: Gradually! Your GSD puppy should be introduced to actual training session gradually and in a progressive manner. Start off with potty training your puppy. After each meal, lead him the way outdoor where you want him to defecate. Control him through the lead and don’t let him go else where until he is done. It requires a lot of time to potty train your puppy, because sometimes GSD puppies are typically headstrong.



Crate training: Crate training the puppy is important. Make sure that his create is just big enough for him to turn around and lie freely inside it. Note that while starting with the crate training your puppy will exhibit behavioral problems with continual whining. I suggest not letting him out until he stops whining. However, it is advisable to crate him in for smaller time span to begin with. As soon as you unlock his crate, make sure to chain him and lead him outdoor without any delay and take him to the place you want him to urinate and potty. It is suggested that you always follow the same and most feasible route to that place. Taking different routes will make training ineffective, as it will confuse the pup.


Introduction to verbal command obedience training: No age is too early or too late, and right time is to start today and now if he has crossed three months of age and properly vaccinated. Vaccination is very important because you may need to take take him outdoor if you think inside your house is not the right place for him to be trained. Moreover, training outdoor has its unique effectiveness provided you choose the right time when there will be no disturbing element that may deviate his attention. Early in the morning and during the night are the two suggested times. Better start off with the command “COME”. Let him play enough to be a little tired and will want to sit. Let him sit, while you move away to a distant. Be sited yourself and deliver the command “COME” while encouraging him, showing him a piece of cookie. If he denies, repeat the command, lovingly and encouragingly. Offer him his tidbits when he comes to you and praise him lavishly. The trick is to let him know which sound associates with which desirable action and if he makes you happy he will be getting his favorite tidbits. Firm voice and strictness won't work at this age.


Most Important Puppy Training Tips

Your training will be successful if you make your puppy feel that training session is just a play session and a fun! 

Transition from one command to the other – “COME” to : This is the most delicate point and chances are there that your puppy will get confused with commands and action. Consistency, repetition and patience are the key to the success story. The best command that should be chosen after “COME” is “SIT”. After he is well acquainted with the sound “COME”, stop offering him his cookies when he comes. Start with teaching him how to sit with the Command “SIT” now. Sit before and hold the cookie run your hand slowly over his nose and head and towards his loin and gently press the loin region and deliver the command softly yet firmly “SIT”. He will automatically sit while following the cookie in your hand. One he sits offer him his cookie and praise him. Repeat the whole process again and again starting from “COME” to “SIT”.


What’s next: The best lesson to teach him after “SIT” is the command “DOWN”. Once he is quite well with “SIT”, start with “DOWN”. Teaching the “DOWN” command to your puppy requires additional patience. More importantly, you need to first establish yourself as the ALPHA member (leader of the pack, where the pack mates are you and your puppy). Sometimes, teaching “DOWN” command is typically tough because the puppy will associate the action of lying down to the sense of submission, and he will try not to be submissive too easily. What is desirable to be achieved with the down command is to make your puppy cool and get down to the laying position, with the belly touching the floor, and his front legs extended in the front.

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Rehabilitating Shy & Unsocialized German Shepherd Puppies



Socializing Your German shepherd Puppy

If your German Shepherd puppy is gradually getting aggressive towards other animals and strangers or strange situations or if he exhibits unpredictable behavior and shies away when your friend approaches him with a friendly gesture, then you should admit that you have not socialized your dog properly when he was young. It is your fault - not your dog's, although there are instances about shyness being genetically instilled into the progenitors from their parents.

There are many reasons why some German Shepherd puppies grow different and shy away and try to attack other animals and strangers. Many a times novice owners pick puppies from their dam or separated from the pack before they reach at least 2 months of age. It is a must to keep the pup with its damn and newly born pack members, because of four major reasons:

a) It gets the total nutritional benefits of the mother's milk

b) Keeping it with his pack members until at least 8-10 weeks of age will help each puppy to learn how to mingle and behave with other dogs

c) Keeping it with another adult dog (its mother), each puppy learns certain skills, gains confidence that make each of them naturally social by birth

d) Being with an adult dog (its mother) helps each puppy to get groomed up with special skill to resolve conflicts


Shyness caused by Social Deprivation

A German Shepherd puppy that is separated from his pack before at least 2 months does not learn adequate skill and confidence to handle a strange situation which they face from time to time.

Another reason why of dogs becoming fearful and unsocial even though they were picked after they reached two or two and a half months of age is Social Deprivation. Social deprivation during a puppy's grooming phase (early years) is commonest cause for the puppy (irrespective of breed, class and gender) growing into an unsocial adult. If they are kept away from the external world - enclosed in a hall or kept in a backyard where they hardly get to encounter with various sounds, situations, incidences, animals and people. Consequently, when they are brought to the world outside their enclosed territories, they get nervous and tend to shy away when people or animals approach them or they face situations that is strange to them. They begin to consider every single stranger or strange situation and incidence as a threat. Treating shyness caused by social deprivation can be tough and a time consuming process, and in worst cases sometimes fixing the problem seems impossible and requires serious intervention of professional canine behaviourists.

You have an immense responsibility, if you want to handle things by yourself. First off, always keep in touch with a knowledgeable professional who can guide you in this process. Establishing yourself as an alpha member is of prime importance. Once you've done that successfully, things will become much easier and controllable. You need to control the way your dog interacts with other people who are stranger to him and Vice versa. As soon as a person, who is unknown to your dog, approaches him he will shy away due to his normal instinct. Ask the person to ignore him totally and not to proceed further and touch him. Also the stranger should not make any eye-to-eye contact with him... means nothing that can make him feel unsecured. "Ignoring" him is the way you can make your dog feel that people who approach him do not have any wrong notion, and should not be considered as threat. And your dog will relax from within his mind. This is a training process (Socialization) and is not as simple as it reads here, rather needs a rigorous daily practice. It may take a few months to even a year to get your dog socialized with strangers. The key to the success story is to adopt a non-treacherous, docile and very thoughtful method to make him understand that the world beyond his territory is not a threat to him. For sure you will be glad to see one fine morning he will start coming closer to people. Let him sniff a new person. Even now it's not the right time to touch him! Discourage a person to touch your dog, even if your dog is smelling the person and exhibiting a slight wagging. "Slight wagging" (wagging with slight breaks or not in full swing) indicates that your dog still have confusion and doubts in his mind about strangers. He is yet to open up for a better interaction. Be patient!

Start Socializing Your Puppy at The Early Age

Some German Shepherd puppies are stubborn by birth and this trait gets instilled into them genetically from their parents. Pushing them to do something will never be fruitful. Although characteristics that are genetically influenced cannot be easily manipulated, yet a certain level of repetitive practice of socialization will definitely help. For instance, if he shows stubbornness and signs of attacking or misbehaving with other dogs and strangers in the park, consider taking things more seriously. Talk to your friends who have dogs with balanced mental configuration. Tell them that your dog is in a training session and you need their help. All you need to do is to go for walk together and in the process do force your dog to befriend them instantly. Notice your dog and keep in under strict control, so that he doesn't exhibit any kind of wrong behavior to strangers and other dogs. Let him feel that everyone in the pack (including the human) is trustworthy and he will gradually realize that going out with them will be safe. Doing this almost everyday, if possible, will make things easier and bring your dog in the main stream faster.

Socializing Your GSD Puppy With Sound

Socializing with sound is another important thing. Sometimes honking car, thunderclaps, or other noise may scare him. He may consequently exhibit sudden fear-behavior, and will try to get into a safer place. Don't try to comfort him instantly. Ignore it, and continue moving forward. Being the leader of the pack, guide him towards focusing more on his confidence, and walk forward, without giving a halt. Addressing to his nervousness will help in nothing, but his nervousness will be encouraged.

"Rehabilitation" is a word used for dogs that have not been properly socialized. Putting your German Shepherd puppy to a session of socialization will stimulate the five most important senses in him that can make him a balanced dog. "Socializing" your German Shepherd puppy is getting him introduced, exposed and desensitized to the five distinctive situations that include smells, sight, sounds, touch and feelings that he may come across in his day-to-day life.




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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Schultzs Law - Law Enforced in the honor of the police German Shepherd Dog Schult

Death of Gloucester police GSD, Schultz - the iconic crime fighter, leads to call for mandatory severe penal action


After the incidence of killing an on-duty Gloucester Township police German Shepherd Dog, named Schultz by the robbery suspect, Sen. Fred Madden and Assembly man Paul Moriarty (both D-Camden and Gloucester) have introduced legislation to punish such acts with a mandatory five-year jail term. Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West part of England.

Schultz was a 3.5-year-old German shepherd Dog owned by Gloucester's police force was part of a 100-officer manhunt for a robbery suspect on the night of Nov. 3, 2010. Schultz followed their odor to bushes near Route 42 and pounced on one of the criminals named Robinson, said the Gloucester County Police Chief Harry Earle. After the suspect had been tracked, Schultz latched onto the arm of the man, who deliberately and recklessly swung Schultz amidst the traffic on Route 42 in order to escape his grip, reported the police officers. According to the report Schultz was run over by a speeding car and expired within a while along the roadside.

On Tuesday, December 7, 2010 Madden said, "Schultz gave his life doing exactly what he was trained to do - hunt down criminals and help his human handlers arrest them so they could be brought to justice." He further said, "Schultz died a hero. Targeting and killing a police dog should be viewed no less harshly than directly assaulting a police officer." At a grim news conference on Wednesday, the Gloucester County Police Chief Harry Earle said, "Officer Schultz gave his life for Cpl. Pickard and all the other officers." According to Moriarty, "dogs that assist law enforcement are valuable allies in the fight against crime. This dog was doing nothing more than his job serving and protecting the public. They deserve legitimate protection against abuse, and those who abuse them need to face severe punishment."


Gloucester Township patrolman Mark Pickard and his dog Schultz attend a 
K-9 Heroes Day program at Veterans Park in Gloucester Township, N.J., on June 5, 2010.


The bill (S-2541/A-3602) was passed under which the law called "Schultz's Law" was enforced in honor of the hero GSD named Schultz. According to the "Schultz's Law", the people found guilty of purposeful killing a police dog or a dog (irrespective of breed and type) engaged in a search and rescue operation would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum three to five years of imprisonment, with no eligibility for parole, and a fine of $15,000. According to the "Schultz's Law", Killing a police dog or search and rescue dog (regardless of breed) is currently considered as a third-degree crime, which results to the severe penal action mentioned above.

The lawmakers mentioned that Schultz - the iconic police GSD was highly renowned throughout Gloucester. Schultz - the iconic police German Shepherd used to lice with his handler, Cpl. Mark Pickard, and his family.

It was a time of mourning for police in Gloucester Township. The flag in front of the municipal building was at half-staff on Wednesday for the entire day. Pickard was put on administrative leave to grieve. Earle said that Pickard and his family would not be available for comment. He further said that donations were rolling in to honor the K-9 crime fighter, Schultz. He said they'd be used to pay for a memorial and perhaps a new police dog. Schultz's service was held at 2 p.m. at Gloucester Township Community Park, which included the unveiling of a K-9 memorial sign, as well as a bagpipe performance, a rifle salute and honor guards. A procession of all Gloucester Township police vehicles had escort Schultz's cremated remains to the Hickstown Road park. Schultz's cortege had departed at 1:40 p.m. from the Chews Landing Veterinary Hospital, 1179 Chews Landing Road.

Moriarty said, "Schultz was more than a dog to his community. He was a friend, protector and an asset to all law-abiding citizens. This law will ensure he and his fellow K-9 officers have strong protections against those who shirk society's rules." Sen. Fred Madden said, "Hopefully, passage of this law would be a lasting memorial to his service," Madden said.

Let Schulz's soul sleep in peace - Aringsburg

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Understanding German Shepherd Puppy With High Prey Drive



Understanding a hard German Shepherd puppy with very strong Prey Drive

Hard puppies can be made easy with strategic handling and appropriate corrective measures

A lot many of our readers have emailed us seeking for advice on how to raise a GSD puppy with very high prey drive. A high prey drive puppy is often a hard puppy, and the owners usually face real challenge to teach them the meanings of the commands. High Prey drive GSD pups have often been returned back, as handlers consider them to be problem pups. Fact is Prey Drive in German Shepherd (also called Booty Instinct) is one of the most important in instincts typical to this breed, and a need for the pup to grow up as perfect working dog. Please understand that Prey Drive is highly desirable in correct degree in German Shepherds; Excessively high level of Prey Instincts makes the puppy hard to train.


Understanding Prey Drive

It is important to know what actual Prey Drive or Booty Instinct means. This is the drive that stimulates your German Shepherd puppy to chase a moving object and bite. This is a genetically inherited instinct, which is not too commonly found in all German Shepherd puppies. It is a genetic instinct by which the dog tries to experience the nature’s moving objects like a running squirrel, flying butterfly and hopping grasshopper and seizes them. Higher Prey Drive stimulates your puppy to chase the fly until he gets hold of it, and until he seizes the moving object he cannot pay attention on other things going around.


What’s There in This High Prey Drive That Makes Your German Shepherd Puppy Hard

Candidly speaking, raising and training a puppy with high prey drive is not every one’s cup of tea. The reason is that not many of the dog trainers possess adequate basic skill that he or she may require to handle a strong prey drive puppy. Very high level of patience with a calm and assertive energy, enough time and technical knowledge about correct implementation of Positive Reinforcement Training approaches are the basic needs that a trainer should have to handle a puppy with Higher Prey Drive.

An experienced trainer will want to strengthen the prey instinct and at the same time train the puppy the desired skills. He will understand that the temperament and behavior of the puppy is governed by his/her drives that are:

i) Naturally expressed through his instincts
And
ii) Stimulated by Positive Reinforcement Training methods

High Prey Drive in a German Shepherd puppy can make it a hard specimen. If not channelized correctly, in the right direction, the puppy’s High Prey Drive may develop into undesirable behavior towards his surroundings, making the puppy unmanageable.


What is Most Challenging in a Puppy With Very Strong Prey Instinct

A lot of people have not got opportunities to handle very High Prey Drive GSD pups, because they are not very common. Do not get confused with puppies having prey drive and puppies having very high prey drive. While it’s too common for all working line German Shepherd to have adequate and desirable degree of Prey Instinct; It’s not very common to find a pup with this instinct in a very high degree. The challenge lies in the fact that a puppy with very high degree of this instinct usually:

i) Remain aloof to other happenings and even remain aloof to commands
ii) Have very very short attention span
And
iii) Easily rebounces back to his own activities (that not desirable at a particular moment) even after corrections


All these three factors merge together to make it a hard puppy that gets corrected, but immediately turns back from corrections and get back to his own unique form.

Another most important thing that makes it really challenging to handle a hard puppy is handler’s inability to understand whether really his puppy has very high prey drive. If you think that you are raising a high prey drive puppy because he is hard to train, you may not be thinking right. Chances are there that your puppy is genetically stubborn. Some puppies are born stubborn which makes them hard to train – that does not mean that they have high prey drive. Stubbornness and Prey instincts are not same.

May be your puppy has high prey drive, but with correct handling and Positive Reinforcement Training approaches he can be easily trained. Not all hard puppies have very high prey drive, but most of the very high prey drive puppies are hard.


Is there anything that is good about a puppy with higher degree of this drive?

Yes… obviously every cloud has a silver lining! If you really have a hard puppy (hard due to very high prey instinct) you should feel lucky. Such puppies are usually not influenced by minor handling errors. Softer puppies can be easily trained because they can be easily influenced and better influenced compared to their harder counterparts. Minor handling problems due to low handling skill set can lead a normal puppy in the wrong direction, thereby developing problem points in the future.

What does it take to raise a Strong Prey Drive Puppy?


Handling

Strategic handling accompanied with Positive Reinforcement Training approaches is the most important method of handling. As discussed above, as a leader of the pack you need to be assertive, confident, patient, understanding, compassionate, and at the same time you should have zero-tolerance for all undesirable behaviors in your puppy.


Treatment

Treat him like your human child. If you are being asked to choose a teacher for your child, what kind of a teacher will you choose? I am sure you would want your child to be taught by someone who is patient, understanding, and teaches at a speed that your child can easily follow. I am sure you will not like the teacher to punish your child suddenly for small mistakes.



Consistency

Raising a hard puppy demands more dedication that raising their softer or normal counterparts. While “consistency” is the key to all types dog training, but for a hard puppy “consistency” should be a way of life – not just an option. You need to be consistently firm and strict as long as your puppy becomes a fully correct specimen. Corrections Punishing a Strong Prey Drive Puppy doesn’t work much, because he would instantly rebounce back from  punishment mode and go back to his natural form (as discussed above). Corrections should not be in a punishing mode. You need to be firm, calm and with a positive attitude (Must). The moment you go impatient, the entire endeavor will go waste. However, very strong and firm shakes and several shakes by the neck’s nape may be necessary for a hard and Strong Prey Drive puppy to bring him back to desirable mode.



Myth

If you are among those who consider firmness in a handler's attitude and firmness with repetitive in the corrective shakes as abusive training approaches, then you are probably wrong (Myth). You have to have a different temperament as an owner and take different corrective actions to train a puppy with strong prey drive. Without firm handling and strict corrective measures a hard puppy can grow into a big menace very shortly. If you believe that being too strict in handling a High Prey Drive puppy will destroy the working ability of the dog, you are probably wrong again (Myth again). Strategic handling comes to play here. Strategic handling involves conditioning the “Drive’s redundancy” to gradually fade out the undesirable behavior that generates due to the redundancy and at the same time developing the Drive/Instinct to use it more productively.


Starting Age for Correction

Starting off at a very early stage of around 8 to 9 weeks is appropriate.


Exercise

One very important factor in Prey Drive that plays in favor of the handler is that , the effect of this instinct (excessive chewing, excessive chasing etc.) eventually gets diminished as the puppy gets tired. A correct amount of exercise (proportionate to the age) is a must to diminish the effect. The motive is to letting the excess energy go out.


Related Reads - Understanding German Shepherd Basic Instincts 

  






Points of Confusion:

1. Not all chasing behaviors are stimulated by Prey Instinct. Chasing driven by behavioral issues is not related to this drive.
2. Strong Prey Drive puppies have biting tendencies. Not all puppies having biting tendencies necessarily have Strong Prey Drive.
3. Abusive training approaches and too firm training approaches are not same. Handler need to be very strict and firm to correct a Strong Prey Drive puppy

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All you need to know about German Shepherd Dogs. Read out what I have to share with you regarding the amazing German Shepherd Dog breed. Are Alsatian dogs and German Shepherd Dogs same? Who was Max Von Stephanitz and What is SV? Also learn a bit more in depth on German Shepherd Dog training tips, German Shepherd puppy care tips, German Shepherd Dog behavior, German Shepherd instinct, German Shepherd Dog standard and history of German Shepherds.

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