Watch Me

-Article by Barbara Lefever, APDT, HTAP

Watch Me is my big secret. Not so secret now that I am sharing it with you. Watch Me, is the very heart and foundation of all good dogs as well as the start of bonding. Years ago, when I adopted a shelter dog who was part Border Collie, I learned how to build the cue of “Watch Me” while attending Arydith Obedience School in Moraga, California. I watched in shock as the trainers around me began spitting things from their mouth, and then the shock turned to amazement as I watched their dogs artfully catch this object. These dogs riveted all of their focus on their owners. Wow! How can I do that with my dog? This is how I learned the skill of hotdog spitting.

Laugh all you want. It took me the better part of my summer to figure this out, plus get my dog to figure this out, too. Now it is second nature, and I forget to explain what these things are popping out of nowhere towards their dog. The dog catches on before the owners realize that food used this way is the fastest way to get results. In true dog trainer fashion, I may take the dogs leash and energize the dog’s focus to my face as the hotdogs appear like magic. Sometimes I use chicken, or I might even put dog food in my mouth, too. I will go to great lengths to get my dog or a client’s dog to zoom in and give me 100% attention. The dogs always respond within minutes in the hopes of earning a well-timed treat propelled magically from my chipmunk cheeks.

“The Rabies Challenge”

This organization has great information in PDF format that can be printed out.

It has been common practice since the development of canine vaccines in the late 1950′s to administer them annually. The recommendation to vaccinate annually was based on the assumption that immunity would wane in some dogs, thus to ensure immunity in the population, all dogs required revaccination since it was not practical to test each animal for antibody. Little or no research has been done to demonstrate that the practice of annual revaccination has any scientific value in providing greater immunity than would be present if an animal was never revaccinated or was revaccinated at intervals longer than one year.

In 1978, we recommended an ideal vaccination program would be one in which dogs and cats would be revaccinated at one year of age and then every third year thereafter (1). That recommendation was based on a general knowledge of vaccinal immunity, especially the importance of immunologic memory and on duration of protection after natural sub clinical or clinical infections as well as on limited studies we had performed with certain canine and feline vaccines. Since the mid 1970′s we have done a variety of studies with various canine vaccines to demonstrate their duration of immunity. From our studies it is apparent, at least to me, that the duration of immunity for the four most important canine vaccines (core vaccines) that the duration of immunity is considerably longer than one year. Furthermore, we have found that annual revaccination, with the vaccines that provide long-term immunity, provides no demonstrable benefit and may increase the risk for adverse reactions.

The vaccination protocol needs to be revised. This standard set from the 1970′s is outdated, and could be very harmful to our dogs, especially our senior dogs.

Jan Rasmusen, award winning author of “Scared Poopless” has a great blog regarding this topic.

Enlightened veterinarians and pet parents have become increasingly wary of the health risks, and lack of benefits, associated with repeatedly vaccinating dogs after their initial “puppy shots.” Is titer testing the solution to the over-vaccination problem? Here’s a crash course to help you muddle through the mire of misinformation surrounding this simple blood test, and to help you decide whether or not to test your dog’s antibody titer:

Why test? The parvovirus/distemper test can help you or others (vets, groomers, kennel owners, etc.) determine if your dog requires additional vaccination, and may save your dog unnecessary shots. It is especially useful when making a decision about vaccinating an animal with unknown vaccination history, or for determining if puppies have received immunity from vaccination.Most experts believe strong titers are a more reliable indication of immunity than vaccination. Tests show the actual immune response, not just the attempt to cause an immune response by vaccination. Do not expect, however, that everyone will accept test results in place of proof of vaccination. The subject of immunity is complicated, and we are programmed to think of vaccination as “the gold standard” – the more, the better. Experts who challenge the status quo are often maligned. Humans don’t like change.

How often should I test titers for Parvo and Distemper? You’re going to have to decide for yourself. Some vets recommend testing yearly, but this can be expensive. Others test every three years. Still, others test five to seven years after vaccination. Why? Challenge tests show that successful vaccination against parvovirus gives most animals at least seven years of immunity. Distemper provides immunity for at least five to seven years.

Dr. Ron Schultz, one of the most renowned pet vaccination experts in the country, believes that once a test yields strong titers, you need not test again.