Sandra opines about Frequently Asked Questions. Sandra's opinions on Pet Insurance, Spay and Neuter, Breeding, Dog Treats, Raw Diet, Pet food, Positive Training vs Balanced Training, e-collars, vaccinations, toys and much more. This is an ongoing article that will be edited as needed. As I learn more, my opinions sometimes change. These are my opinions as of today.
Do you have pet health insurance on your dogs?
YES! We use Healthy Paws and our premium is $27.86 per month with a $200 annual deductible. The reimbursement is 80%.
In my research, Nationwide Pet Insurance has same/similar coverage but was more expensive for us. Nationwide premiums start at $35 per month. Pet insurance premiums vary wildly with locations so get quotes from both companies.
When will you Spay or Neuter your Golden Retrievers?
Our contract with the breeder says not before 1 year old. After much research we decided 2 years old due to the current research which shows that Goldens need their hormones until their growth plates close which is around 18 months. Golden Retrievers are prone to Hip and Elbow Dysplasia so we have been very cautious. We checked the health records of both parents to ensure they had OFA health certifications before we put a deposit on puppy. I suggest everyone do the same! Research below:
- UC Davis University study - Golden retriever study suggests neutering affects dog health
- Dogs Naturally Magazine - Spay Neuter and Joint Disease
- Dogs Naturally Magazine - 3 Reasons to Reconsider Early Spay Neuter
Alternatively, in some areas you can get vasectomies and tubal ligation for dogs. This is far healthier for our pets than spay or neuter.
I understand the shelter dogs and over population issues, that is a totally different debate.
Will You Breed Your Golden Retrievers?
No! I purchase AKC Registered (limited) pups from a great breeder. I am only interested in Dog Training and Service Dog Training. My breeder is the expert on breeding, If I need a puppy I know where to go! I don't purchase puppies from backyard breeders and I suggest that you don't either!!!
What Dog Treats do you use in Training?
I just use his Kibble to train. The only "treats" Rebel gets is frozen blueberries, Ice Cubes and raw carrots... all of which he LOVES.
What Dog Food do you use?
Everyone is passionate about their dog food of choice. I won't say what brand I use but will give you help to make your own decisions.
Pet Fooled is a must see video. On YouTube it is $3.99 and I believe it is free on Amazon Prime.
After the public got educated and demanded Grain Free dog foods, the industry started scare tactics of pets having low Taurine levels from grain free diets. SIGH If you are worried about Taurine levels in your dog, give Taurine supplements. Here is a link to one Thorne Research Taurine Supplements Or even more simple, mix a small amount of regular dog food in with your Grain Free dog food. Seriously, this isn't the huge issue that the industry tries to portray.
Have you ever seen a starving dog go to a corn field and eat an ear of corn? I live in the country surrounded by corn fields as well as starving dogs and I have NEVER seen it. Starving dogs will eat rocks before they eat an ear of corn despite unlimited supply of corn fields here. Grains are not a natural part of a dogs diet and are used as a filler by companies because grains are cheaper than meat. It's all about the $$$$
Dog Food is a HIGHLY frustrating topic. I did my own research and talked to my breeder. Our Vet is NOT up to speed on any current research so I don't ask him anything. Do your due diligence on research, make an informed decision to the best of your ability. That is the very best we can do for our pups.
What do you think of a Raw Diet for dogs?
I think it is a great diet for dogs. I don't yet feel comfortable with doing a raw diet for my dogs but may one day switch. My concerns are more about the balance especially with puppies. Basically I don't feel confident in my ability to provide the proper balance to puppies. I will keep studying and may one day feel confident enough.
Raw Diet is also very expensive for some and could be cost prohibitive. Some people choose to supplement by adding Raw into their dogs diet. That is also an excellent plan.
Do you train dogs as a business?
No! I presently have 3 pups to train, two of which will be our own pack. Another will be for a family friend who needs a service dog. I also practice with friends dogs by teaching tricks and so forth but I do not charge. I have no plans for a dog training business in the future.
Service Dog training takes at least 18 months so training 3 from puppies to Service Dogs will take a long time.
I am also considering giving free workshops and help in the community to educate and keep dogs out of shelters. Teaching kids how to do basic training of our 4 legged friends is a GREAT thing for everyone to do!
I have no interest in any financial gain from working with dogs. It is therapy for me!
Are you a Purely Positive Trainer or a Balanced Trainer?
I don't like labels and don't really fit either of those definitions at all. I consider myself Mostly Positive just like I am with my 2 legged kiddos. If they need correcting, they get it. I use kibble, praise and toys for rewards which is about 99% of training. I try to turn behavior issues into positive training where possible, for instance, I reduced the use of the word "NO" by about 90% by using most bad behaviors as an opportunity to reinforce known commands. i.e. Rebel Come! He then comes and I reward for that, then we go thru a bunch of random commands treating along the way. By the time I am done with all that, he has forgotten all about what he was fixing to get into trouble with. Use every opportunity to train!
Some things are dangerous to either dog or humans and in those cases I use the tools available in an ethical way to achieve the intended result. Correction constitutes less than 1% of my work with dogs. Don't focus on the minuscule moments that I have to correct poor behaviors please!
What do you think of e-Collars?
The e-Collar is a communication device and when used properly is a must have tool for those of us who live in Rural America. We live on 400 acres and our chain link fenced in yard is 4.5 acres... so I need to have a way to communicate with our dogs from afar....... essentially a doggie cell phone.
I use the ecollar Mini Educator as a tap on the shoulder, the stimulation tells them to check in with mom. Our normal settings is in single digits which a human can't even feel. I do not train with the ecollar, it is just a communication tool. All training is without ecollar! If you are worried about the e-collar, put it on yourself and test it to see what you feel. Proof is in the pudding.
The e-Collar is also VERY helpful with developing a strong communication with Service Dogs. It helps fine tune training to help the dog understand exactly what you need him to do. E-Collar = Communication Tool
Stay away from Shock collars, hurting a dog is not training!!!!
Watch this video where MasterPaw explains the difference between eCollars and Shock Collars.
What do you think of prong collars?
I don't see a need for them with Golden Retrievers, but if your dog needs one just use it properly!
What kind of collars do you use?
My normal collar for Rebel is a leather flat buckle collar. During the puppy phase I use the Gentle Leader when going to highly distracting areas such as a store or vet. Once puppy matures the e-collar will replace the Gentle Leader in distracting areas.
Do you have a Professional Trainer?
I just listen to every word Larry Krohn of Pakmaster Dog Training says and I refer to him as my "Master Mentor." You can see his influence in everything I do. There are no other trainers here locally... I am the only active dog trainer in our area that I know of. I had to just learn it and Larry is the best!
Larry gives his knowledge away free. I bought his book for a mere $10 (Free for Kindle) and followed him on social media. I have watched every video he has made MANY times and some I know by heart! I hope to one day go to one of his seminars. Larry is a blessing to the Dog Training community! You can follow Larry and learn from him too.
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/larry.krohn.9
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCortXxJdZYbHCrOa3nddr6g
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/LarryKrohn
- Buy his book: https://www.amazon.com/Everything-need-about-Collar-Training/dp/1521126550/ $10 for paperback, free for Kindle
Single Best Advice for dog training?
Larry Krohn explained it best: 80% of dog training is how you live in the home and 20% is actual training.
Teach your dogs good manners from the beginning and LIVE IT with them every day! Don't allow the dogs to blow through doors, jump on visitors, destroy property and such in the home... that is 80% of the battle! Dogs and children benefit from a structured environment.
Bonus: Sandra has opined a zillion times on social media "If no Ugg boots are left out, then no Ugg boots will be destroyed." Such a simple concept!
Do you work with Behavior Modification?
NO! I work with puppies and dogs to prevent problems from occurring in the first place. In this way we can keep dogs out of shelters by educating the public. How many dogs are in a shelter simply because the owners didn't know how to potty train?
I watch the trainers who work with aggressive dogs and so forth and learn what traits are common in all of their clients. I learn how to prevent poor behavior so that I don't ever need the behavior modification trainers. They do a great service but there are too many dogs with issues. There are not enough trainers to fix every dog and many dogs are euthanized in shelters. We need to do better on the education side of things.
Board and Trains are very expensive! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Do you work with Protection Dog Training?
I have no interest in working with Protection Dog Training, there are some great trainers out there for that and I enjoy watching their work.
Retrievers are my favorite breeds by far, I prefer working with calmer dogs for utilitarian purposes such as Service Dogs. That said, I am fascinated with Belgian Malinois and spend countless hours watching them train. Their abilities in the Military and Police are breath taking. The Malinois are amazing dogs and capable far beyond what most people even know. Watch Larry Krohn's Belgian Malinois, Luca in the video below for just a taste.
What Training do you hope to Learn and Master?
I want to learn and master many of the Service Dog tasks such as Scent Detection and Mobility Assistance.
For fun I love Agility Training and I am working on building my pseudo Agility course even as we speak. I love Stonnie Dennis' course and I am using it as inspiration for my own course. Here is his course.
Do you shave your Golden Retriever in the summer?
NO! You should NEVER shave a double coated dog. The under coat is used to insulate from heat and cold. I trim per AKC standard practice. If you want a short hair retriever, get a Labrador! Any questions? LOL
I groom my own dogs for the most part. Click here for the grooming set that I purchased from Amazon. Here is a video on how to groom a Golden Retriever per standard practice.
Do you vaccinate your dogs?
Yes, we vaccinate and we keep puppies quarantined until they are fully vaccinated. After puppy is cleared by the Vet, we do rigorous puppy socialization. The area we live in is rife with Rabies and Parvo as it is rural. It is essential that we follow the strongest protocol due to high volumes of wildlife, strays and un-vaccinated animals.
We also give HeartGard Plus to prevent Heart worms and NexGard to control Fleas and Ticks. Our area of Florida has a LOT of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. We do not have problems with Lyme disease in this area but we certainly don't want these parasites on our animals. We tried Trifexis first but it does not control Ticks so we switched to NexGard.
Know your area and take the precautions that apply to your community! Note: Parvo can live in the ground for up to 10 years.
I understand the over vaccination epidemic that plagues our country and agree completely. I will try to Titer Test my dogs to avoid over Vac but it is essential to ensure the dogs safety. Rebel is my Service Dog in Training so there are some legal issues that I have to navigate. Your mileage may vary. Check with your vet to see what options you have.
Favorite Puppy Toys?
- Empty 2 Liter Cola bottle
- An old sock (yes, you read that right)
- Deer Antlers
Which Vacuum Cleaner do you use?
We have 2 cats, 1 Golden Retriever and 2 teenagers... that adds up to a LOT of hair.
- Golden Retriever and other pet hair vacuum cleaners
- Dyson Big Ball Animal review
- Restored Royal Everlast, Kirby style Commercial
- Reasons why we use both Dyson and Royal
Read about our research on Dyson Big Ball Animal Vacuum and Royal Vacuum
Why is commenting disabled? We want to debate and discuss.
Forum discussion for dog training is almost as bad as politics and religion...... many hot topics that require supervision. I do not have the time or patience to referee debates right now. We will see what the future holds.