The five freedoms and trolls
So in light of a particular person doing a world tour, Zak George has been very loud, passionate and trying to engage internationally with colleagues to shut this person down, because they are doing detrimental harm to dogs.
Before being banned from a particular social media platform this person had 2 million followers. Lots of people asked me how? How does someone who publicly hurts dogs with barbaric methods in the name of training get such a big following.
I felt my answer was here: I commented on Zaks post to support him and shared that I had also emailed the RSPCA. Someone decided they weren't done with Zak, Roman's Holistic Dog Training and others so they came for me.
I had replied in one comment that anyone who has or work with dogs should always do research for their welfare. This was their response in the screenshot image.
It dawned on me that actually many people do not know about the five freedoms under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 of UK law.
I didn't bother responding to this person as with trolls you just don't win. But it got me thinking. Nobody can have a dog as part of their family, without doing research for their welfare.
I mean it all comes down to the "I don't talk about religion or politics" but proceeds to moan about the cost of a beer. Same thing, right?
If you rescue or buy a puppy, you do research of their breed. If you have them vaccinated you do research as to what the vet is giving them. If you see your dog or puppy is unwell you research their symptoms.
If your puppy or dog is giving a behaviour you don't like you research the behaviour and ways to work with the behaviour or research to find a professional to help.
I'll stop with the examples as you get the idea. So in order to care for a dog in the UK and be on the right side of the law, not only do you have to research welfare, you also have to know UK laws regarding dogs and other animal family members. Including the five freedoms.
If we take any one of the five freedoms away, we will be doing detrimental harm.
Under the Animal Welfare Act all Animals have the rights to:
Freedom from hunger, thirst or malnutrition
Freedom from discomfort
To be able to exhibit normal behaviours
Freedom from fear and distress
To be protected from pain, suffering, disease and illnesses.
As it is such a big topic I'll explore each freedom within each blog. Beginning with freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition.
Dogs need nutrients and the compounds that come from nutrients in both foods and water for their development and maintenance of their physiology.
Running jokes across social media are that "millennials" are obsessed with treating their dogs as "fur babies' ' and that by being obsessed with their nutritional intake we could effectively be harming them. One article the other week by the' Telegraph' headlined its article with,"stop feeding your dogs homemade diets, charity warns". (Linked under References).
Reading this article was a waste of time with a misleading headline, it was a clear case of an article space need's filling. What can it be filled with?
With research there are lots of conflicting statistics from blogs and websites written by non researchers that all claim different percentages of diets fed to dogs. All you have to do is pop over to Google to see this for yourself.
There's lots of inflammatory headlines that one type of food is bad for a dog and harmful and again absolutely none of them agree or come from science based research.
Looking at the dog holistically, every single dog is an individual with dietary needs and food preferences, just like humans and there is scientific research to back this up as well as testing foods and changes in dog's based upon different diets.
We also know that diet affects behaviour and this is something that many dog owners (guardians) are becoming acutely aware of but it is still not general knowledge.
All over social media, no matter which one you will quickly find, enrichment aesthetic accounts with dog food, people posting all of their dogs meals, people arguing about food for dogs and quality.
This is all irrelevant for this blog; we are simply looking at how diet affects behaviour and not at brands or types of food.
"A dog's behaviour is not only controlled by the environment, but also by genetic, cognitive and physiological factors. Miklosi. A, (2014). Physiological factors in turn can be affected by nutrition. Bosch. G, et al, (2007).
The brain is full of an amazing communication system and within this communication are neurotransmitters and hormones and both of these components can be affected by the nutrition that a dog receives and when the brain is affected negatively or positively we can see these effects manifest through behaviour.
In looking at the dogs welfare this is why it is so important to ensure that our individual dog is receiving the best possible nutrition that they can receive.
The gut microbiome is the most important area of looking at the dogs diet as this area is needed to remain as undisrupted as possible, a healthy guy microbiome means that the brain communication system should be working well.
When the gut microbiome is affected, the healthy balance is disrupted and many changes can occur such as inflammation, infections and the production of serotonin 90% of which takes place in the small intestine can be affected. Tizard. I. R, et al (2018).
When serotonin is affected, cortisol can rise and the brain can become affected and stop or hinder normal communication and functioning. (Refer back to my brain blog last week). As well as infections and inflammation affecting the dog negatively just as it does in humans. When we have an infection or inflammation we may not be ourselves and our behaviour is altered and sadly this is the same for our dogs.
A study with shelter dogs of the same breed was conducted in Italy alongside a veterinarian behaviourist and a dog handler, 18 dogs were classified as aggressive and 11 fearful and 13 dogs exhibiting normal behaviours and fed them all the same food. They then did a second study and worked with three shelters with different breeds and different food. The results showed that there were marked differences in the gut biome of the dog's with no reported behavioural issues and the dog's reported to have aggressive or fearful traits. Mondo, E. et al. (2020).
So considering the dog holistically, if we were to work with a cross section of professionals, vets, nutritionists and behaviourists we can then look at the whole dog and have a fecal exam to ensure that the dogs gut is healthy and if it isn't, then work with a nutritionist to get the right balance for the gut biome and work in tandem with a behaviourist to help to change the emotions driving the behaviours.
So basically dogs rely on food and the nutrients from food to contribute to healthy internal health, development of neurotransmitters and hormones. When these nutrients are lacking, out of balance or too high in particular chemicals such as tryptophan or tyrosine.
This can upset the hormonal balance, tryptophan which regulates the serotonin levels, when out of balance can result in aggression, self mutilation behaviours and resistance to stress.
An upset to catecholamines which are neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and dopamine can alter behaviour and healthy brain development as well as contribute to stress resistance.
Polyunsaturated fats, omega 3's, n-3 and n-6 fatty acids when imbalanced can also contribute to changes of the serotonin and dopamine development within the dog's brain.
Dog behaviour is signalled from chemical messages, within hormones and neurotransmitters. When changes occur with the hormones and neurotransmitters this can cause behaviour to change in a positive or negative way.
Scientists unfortunately studied senior beagles to understand the influence of food on behaviour and a reduction of the symptoms of dementia in humans. To understand if food played a role in cognitive decline being delayed by using food enriched with antioxidants and mitochondrial cofactors decreased the rate of cognitive decline in senior beagle dogs under laboratory conditions and improved age-related behavioural changes in older dogs held in home situations. (7)
It's unknown if dog food regulators have explored the amount of tryptophan requirements within dog food and whether the requirement is sufficient for dog behaviour, as researchers have found a diet high in tryptophan was found to decrease aggression and stress in trials. ( It is also known that a deficit in tryptophan and tyrosine can negatively alter the health of dogs too.
Diets found to be low in PUFA not only contributed to a decline in health over all, but also negatively impacted cognition and behaviour. Stress was also seen to increase and resistance to stress was not as present as it had been with diets higher in PUFA. Dopamine and serotonin are also affected by a lack of PUFA which control the regulation of emotions, impulse control, cognitive function and neurological functioning.
Due to the changes in neurological functioning changes in cognition and behaviour can be seen due to the levels of these chemicals within the food.
So when considering behaviour and changes in behaviour or a prevalence of a breed trait behaviour we have to consider the diet and what is occurring physiologically inside the dog's body to their body and also to their brain and brain development especially in puppies and young dogs. "When considering dog behaviour we really should be considering what is in the dog's stomach." (9)
Hunger can also play a role in affecting behaviour and when food isn't readily or regularly available this can negatively impact dog behaviour especially if food is so scarce that they are experiencing a deficit in nutrients and are malnourished. (10)
Carbohydrate intake also plays a role in communication from the small intestine, the receptors when digesting good and high quality carbohydrates send signals of satiety to the brain before the gastric area is emptied. This slows the digestion process and the process of glucose being absorbed too readily which means better maintenance of insulin levels and glucose levels and poor carbohydrates particularly prevalent in dry extruded foods can cause negative impacts within the stomach and alter behaviour. Different breeds and larger sized dog's may respond differently in terms of satiety and nutrient absorption. (11)
So diet plays a huge role in the contribution of unwanted behaviours such as barking, which is why behaviourists may refer you to not only an integrative vet but also a canine nutritionist to ensure that your dog is receiving the correct diet and nutrients for optimal health, brain development and regulation.
In conclusion we cannot live with or work with a dog or any animal without researching their welfare needs. Even in the most basic sense! Part 2 next "The Five Freedoms and freedom from discomfort."
Miklosi, A. (2014). Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition. Oxford University Press. Pp. 16
Bosch, G., Beerda, B., Hendriks, W.H., van der Poel, A.F.B., Verstegen, M.W.A. (2007). Impact of nutrition on canine behaviour: current status and possible mechanisms. Nutrition Research Reviews, vol. 20, pp.180-194.
Harju, C. (2016) Epsilon Archive for Student Projects, Welcome to Epsilon Archive for Student Projects - Epsilon Archive for Student Projects. Available at: https://stud.epsilon.slu.se/ (Accessed: January 23, 2023).
Tizard IR, Jones SW. The microbiota regulates immunity and immunologic diseases in dogs and cats. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. (2018) 48:307–22. doi: 10.1016/j.cvsm.2017.10.008
Mondo, E. et al. (2020) Gut microbiome structure and adrenocortical activity in dogs with aggressive and phobic behavioral disorders, Heliyon. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6994854/ (Accessed: January 24, 2023).
Philip Roudebush, Steven C Zicker, Carl W Cotman, Norton W Milgram, Bruce A Muggenburg, Elizabeth Head. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 227 (5), 722-728, 2005
Bagshaw, CS, Ralston, SL & Fisher, H (1994) Behavioural and physiological effect of orally administered tryptophan on horses subjected to acute isolation stress. Appl Anim Behav Sci 40, 1–12. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 40 (1), 1-12, 1994
Mugford, RA (1987) The influence of nutrition on canine behaviour. J Small Anim Pract 28, 1046–1055. Journal of Small Animal Practice 28 (11), 1046-1055, 1987.
De Leeuw, JA, Zonderland, JJ, Altena, H, Spoolder, HAM, Jongbloed, AW & Verstegen, MWA (2005) Effects of levels and sources of dietary fermentable non-starch polysaccharides on blood glucose stability and behaviour of group-housed pregnant gilts. Appl Anim Behav Sci 94, 15–29. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 94 (1-2), 15-29, 2005.
Bourreau, J, Hernot, D, Bailhache, E, Weber, M, Ferchaud, V, Biourge, V, Martin, L, Dumon, H & Nguyen, P (2004) Gastric emptying rate is inversely related to body weight in dog breeds of different sizes. J Nutr 134, S2039–S2041. The Journal of nutrition 134 (, 2039S-2041S, 2004.
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