Off-Leash Dogs

It’s important that if you have your dog of-leash in a public area such as a park or an apartment complex you are able to recall your dog consistently from people, other dogs and wildlife.

An owner of another dog or puppy should never have to justify why they don’t want your off-leash dog approaching them.

A puppy could be under vaccinated, sick or going through specialized training.

An adult dog may have reactivity issues and your dog approaching could set the dog back even if they are not being outwardly reactive.

Not to mention, this is a safety issue for your own dog as well. While some dogs may not be reactive they may be aggressive. The off-leash dog is always at fault in cities with leash laws, because had your dog not approached there would be no Incident.

If you are the handler of an off-leash dog don’t get to make the decision for the other dog owner if your dog meets their pets, child or them.

Some people simply don’t want to meet your dog. Some people simply don’t want your dog to meet their dog.

One of the biggest responsibilities of pet owners is to keep all dogs safe. We do this through reliable recalls -the first call everytime and leashes.

Rehoming

Coming from a background in animal shelters I understand all too well that sometimes rehoming is the only option. I’ve seen the shame in the tears that are associated with these decisions.

I understand that there are times where for whatever reason a family runs into a situation where they could no longer keep their family pet. There is always embarrassment and guilt associated with this.

It is not a trainers responsibility to judge, it is simply their responsibility to help.

Sometimes the trainer will agree it is for the best especially in cases with aggression and minors in the home.

If you are faced with the decision to rehome your dog no matter the reason here are some people you should contact before you consider the shelter.

The breeder

Most breeders want to be contacted if living situations change or problems arise with the dog. Many breeders even have it in the contract that they be contacted in case of rehoming. Good breeders consider themselves responsible for the lifetime of every puppy.

The rescue

Like breeders if you adopted through a reputable rescue it’s likely in the contract that you must contact them before rehoming. Good rescues consider them self responsible for the lifetime of the dog.

The trainer

A trainer has a good idea of what a great home for your dog is. They understand your dogs energy needs, Behavior struggles and can likely help you screen potential adopters to make sure they’re good fit. They may even be able to send potential adopters your way. They can also help to work to ensure that the new adopter doesn’t run into problems. Many will post the dog amongst other dog training friends.

Your vet

Your veterinarian is another good resource. He sees dog lovers all day and may have an ideal placement in mind for your dog. While they see new puppies daily they also see people who have lost their pet. They are often keeping an eye open for a client’s next dog.

Your groomer

If you’ve been using the same groomer it’s likely that they’ve been seeing him since puppyhood. Your groomer has a long list of clients who care deeply about their pets needs. Just like the veterinarian their clients are lifelong which means they see people who lose their pet and may be interested in finding another match for their home.

While animal people can rarely agree on much I think that there is one thing that they can agree on…. animal professionals have the best interest of the animal at heart.

If you come to a place where you need to rehome your dog don’t forget to contact the animal professionals that have watched your pet grow up too!

If you must place the task of rehoming in someone else’s hands and a animal care professional you work closely with is unable to help then consider the following factors when deciding how to surrender your dog.

Choosing where to surrender. Not all shelters and rescues are created equal.

Some animal shelters and rescues have more resources for medical treatment than others. Yet there are some that specialize in behavior modification. Keep in mind what your pet’s specific needs are when you’re deciding.

Many animal shelters and rescues have a surrender fee. This can range from a small donation to $200. While it may seem like a no-brainer to pick a place that doesn’t have a surrender fee keep in mind that the surrender fee often correlates with the live release rate, not always but most of the time. Surrender fees pay for the care of your pet will receive while with the shelter, although it rarely pays for all of it.

There are also breed-specific rescues. If you have a breed that is considered difficult or is it unusual breed then you might consider a breed rescue. For example and Malinois rescue May interview people more in-depth to make sure that they understand a high drive dog.

Be one hundred percent honest when you surrender your dog and ask that they be honest with you as well. Sometimes owners won’t want to disclose information such as a dog not being fully house trained. It’s important that you disclose this information so that the shelter or rescue can share it with the adopters. Some families are perfectly willing to work on house training while for others it will be a deal-breaker. Provide that information so they can make their own choice. This will make it less likely that your dog is returned to the shelter or rescue. The more information that the shelter or rescue has the better understanding they will have of what kind of home your dog needs.

Why I wrote this

I decided to write this one day while volunteering at the animal shelter.

While dog walking one day I saw a man at the counter that I recognized, but I couldn’t quite place where I knew him from. I continued about my business until I was walking through the kennels and I saw a Cane Corso.

As soon as I saw this dog I knew where I knew the man from.

This dog had been a student of mine. His owner had signed him up for a six week training course almost 8 months earlier. He stopped attending classes after the third week and I never heard from him again.

I walked over and greeted the dog, he was so scared. I went into the kennel with him and ask him to do some of the obedience that I had remembered he had learned. He performed sit, down, focus and even a leave it without hesitation.

When I went and asked the kennel staff why the dog was there they explain that the owner was moving out of state. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself don’t my students know that I’m here to help them? Did he not know that I would have assisted him in finding placement for his dog? Why wouldn’t he reached out to the professionals in his life like his dog’s veterinarian or trainer?

Here are some photos of shelter dogs..

My dog Charlie helping a shelter pitbull

It’s all good in the neighborhood

mastiff

You love your dog, so it can be hard to think about anyone not seeing him for the crazy love bug that he is. However hard it may be to imagine, some people simply do not like dogs, and some of those people may just live in your neighborhood. Here are three common problems dog owners face and how to solve them if you want to be a conscientious neighbor.

Excessive Barking, Baying, or Howling

Barking, baying, or howling every now and again is normal. However, if your dog is making excess noise for extended periods of time, it is considered a form of noise pollution and a valid complaint on your neighbor’s part.

A common cause behind a dog’s excessive noise is separation anxiety. The best way to remedy anxiety is by making sure your dog is getting enough activity and providing him with things to do when you are away. Most people are not walking their dogs enough. If you are walking your pup less than 15 minutes twice a day, it’s time to hit the pavement more often for your dog’s well-being. If you don’t have time to walk your dog because of long hours at the office, hire a dog walker who can stop by throughout the day to provide your dog with fresh air and exercise. This should help reduce the noise as well as other destructive behaviors your dog may exhibit due to anxiety and boredom.

Your Dog Keeps Getting Into Neighbors’ Yards

If your dog keeps escaping into neighbors’ yards, you haven’t done enough to maintain your fence. If it is full of holes or has loose boards, it may be worth it to replace it entirely. The average price to install a wood fence runs from $1,434 to $3,362. If your fence is in good shape but your dog just keeps finding ways to escape, you can fortify it with some of these dog-proofing techniques:

  • Use landscaping as a way to create a buffer area between your dog and the fence.
  • Stick bamboo or reed rolls along the inside of the fence to prevent him from digging underneath.
  • Place a concrete footer around the perimeter.
  • Use coyote rollers along the top of the fence to keep a jumping dog from being able to make it over.

Your Dog’s Leaves Messes Behind

If you are not picking up after your dog when walking in the neighborhood or at the park, it’s not really your dog’s behavioral issue—that is you being a bad neighbor! In just about every city, village, and township, there is some sort of regulation that requires dog owners to pick up after their pooches. Leaving dog feces on the ground leaves other people, pets, and animals susceptible to the harmful viruses, bacteria, and pesticides it can contain. If it rains, all those harmful organisms get washed into your area’s water system. It’s just bad news all around.

Always keep bags on you when you are spending time with your dog, and pick up after him. If you are worried about the amount of plastic these bags contribute, you can find compostable and biodegradable versions in just about any specialty pet store.

As much as you love your dog, not everyone is going to love his behavior. If your pup spends his free time creating noise pollution, chances are he has too much energy to burn. Up the amount of walks you take and consider hiring help when you’re logging many hours at the office. If your dog is an escape artist, you may need a new fence or reinforcements to curb his wily ways. Finally, you need to pick up your dog’s poop. Dog feces is harmful to people, pets, animals, and your local water supply. Always carry biodegradable bags on you when taking your dog in public so you can clean up after him.

 

Jessica Brody created OurBestFriends.pet to offer a place for animal lovers to share their favorite pet photos and stories about their furry pals.

Muzzle Myths

muzzle myths

lab comfortable in a well fit muzzle

“Muzzles have done more to protect owners and their dogs than legislation”, quote by Dr Mugford.

A muzzle is not a bad thing… yes, that’s right lets say it again.  A muzzle is not a bad thing.  Many people feel a tinge of shame, fear or embarrassment when they are told their dog should be muzzle trained.  I would love to see the muzzle stigmas removed.  Here is my attempt to help dog owners understand muzzles just a little bit better.

 

Let’s start by busting some myths:

My dog can’t eat or drink with a muzzle on. 

There are different types of muzzles.  Some are ideal for vet clinics and others are perfect for training, because they allow your dog to drink, pant and eat through the muzzle.  The best muzzles for training reactive dogs are basket muzzles.

 

A muzzle will not fit my dog. 

Yes, it will.  Deerhounds, rotties, pugs, and great danes there is a muzzle that will comfortably fit every dog breed.  There is a muzzle on the market for every dog in every shape and size… heck there are even goat muzzles available.  There are even muzzles that can be purchased, heated up in the microwave and custom fit to your dogs face.  Make sure that you pick a muzzle that fits your dog and if your not sure how to do this click here fitting muzzles.

 

Muzzles will make my dog look scary looking. 

Maybe, this is true, but muzzles are frequently used by responsible owners in all sorts of situations – such as controlling excitable animal during vet visit, when meeting new dogs, or during busy events and gatherings – and new products have been designed to be welfare friendly. They are another great tool in the training box for responsible owners – alongside good discipline and positive reinforcement – and ultimately provide peace of mind if you are worried about a dog’s reaction.

 

My dog can’t protect himself in a muzzle.

Yes, that right they can’t.  That being said it is our responsibility to protect our dog.  If you are putting your dog in situations where he feels like he needs to protect himself or really actually needs to protect himself then that maybe a even bigger problem.  If your dog has a opportunity to bite a human or another animal that could be a really big problem.  Thousands of dogs a year are euthanized for behaving badly.  This allows you to protect your dog from his own behavior.

 

“I can handle my dog without a muzzle.”  and “I really don’t think he needs one” 

A dog biting a human or animal is a really big deal.  With tougher laws surrounding antisocial dog behavior coming into force, dog owners might find themselves worried what the changes could mean for them. The legal changes mean a possible 14-year prison sentence for owners of dogs that kill, as well as tougher terms for people whose animals attack a person in a home or private property, or attack assistance animals such as guide dogs.  Here’s the deal you don’t only wear a seat belt when you ride in a car because you anticipate getting into a car wreck, it is just incase.  If you wear it and don’t get into a wreck it’s no big deal, but if you get into a wreck and your not wearing one you may wish you had been.  The same is true for a muzzle, if there is any potential for your dog biting a human or animal it is your responsibility to fit your dog with a muzzle.  Don’t let ego cloud your judgment.

To learn how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle read this: Muzzle Training

 

Barking Dogs

I received a barking ticket or warning, what do I do now?
 Alright so you got a ticket in the mail that notifies you that your dog’s barking has been reported to your local city Animal Control.  Surely you’re feeling a little frustrated and or a little embarrassed.
The real question is how should you move forward.
When many people receive a barking warning their first step is to call their local animal control agency to let them know that their dog doesn’t or to let them know what steps they’re going to take to prevent barking in the future. Honestly, this is wasted time and effort. Animal control does not care what steps you’re doing to keep your dog from barking the only thing they care about is if they receive another complaint about your dogs barking.
What we typically recommend doing once you receive a barking warning is to talk with your neighbors and let them know what steps you will be taken to decrease the barking.
 Don’t think of this as an opportunity to blame it on the squirrels or your neighbor’s kids the more you take ownership of your dogs barking the less your neighbors will feel that they have to go to animal control to handle future barking. 
Here are some tips:
  1. Limit the amount of time your dog spends outside alone:  You cannot manage your dog when you are not there. Don’t expect your dog not to bark when unattended especially once you have received a warning
  2. Increase enrichment:  dogs that are solely fed out of enrichment feeders like kong Wobblers bark 70 percent less.
  3. Increase exercise: Increase your dogs exercise by at least 20 minutes a day and your guaranteed to see a decrease in barking.
  4. Brush up on training:  Brush up on cues like come that way you can call your dog inside the minute he starts barking. Oftentimes you will hear owners tell their dog to be quiet followed by several seconds of silence and then continued barking. Leave it is another cue that can help with barking if your dog is triggered by something specific.   Finally teach your dog how to be quiet on cue. Follow this video for step by step instructions.  teach your dog to be quiet

a tired dog

mastiff

Escaping Dog

I’m often surprised that people are not more concerned when their dog escapes.  Besides fear of receiving a summons from Animal Control there are a lot of dangers present even in a calm neighborhood.  Dogs may run into suburban wildlife like raccoons and coyotes.  They may be hit by a car.  There is also a strong possibility they may have a run in with a leashed neighborhood dog.   Most dogs act very different if they are running loose and their owners aren’t around. If your dog is escaping you should take corrective action ASAP.


Management (making him want to be in the yard)

Dogs need activities to keep them busy. If we don’t provide them appropriate activities and keep their minds stimulated, your intelligent, healthy dog will find things to do on his own. Normal dog behavior includes chewing, jumping, digging, running the fence line, and tearing things apart.

Bringing your dog inside when you aren’t home is a sure fire way to keep your dog from getting out as well.  If you feel bad about leaving your dog in all day then a dog walker or doggy daycare might be just the solution for you!


Games that utilize your dog’s nose are great exercise.

 A very large portion of a dog’s brain controls their olfactory function, therefore, the more we create activities where they get to use their nose, the more stimulated and tired they will get.

-Keep lots of different things for him to do in the yard.  Fill your rubber kong with goodies, and have the treat dispensing toy outside too.  Change what they are filled with daily, so they don’t get bored.

 -As he gets better and better at finding and playing with those goodies, you can hide them in more and more challenging locations.  This will help tier out his mind much faster.

-A tired dog is a good dog.  Add exercise into your dog’s daily routine and make sure that he has plenty of time to run. Maybe go to a big fenced in baseball field, use a longer leash when out for walks, or try flirt pole training for your dog.


Fencing should be able to keep your dog in even if he wants to get out.

Check your gate regularly and teach your kids to as well.  If your kids are not good about securing the gate consider using a lock with a key, so you know when the gate is being opened. (The kids will have to get the key from you)

Inspect your fence and look for broken pickets.  These can be replaced pretty easily and you can replace the single picket.  If one picket is broken your dog can easily break more while you are at work for the day. I’m sure you have heard the saying good fences make good neighbors.

If your dog is going up and over the fence coyote rollers maybe a excellent solution.

For information about coyote rollers: click here

Keeping your dog safely secured in your home and yard is one of the most important responsibilities of being a responsible pet owner and depending on where you live there maybe low-cost options for help with building fence for your dog.

Dog bite, now what?

I wanted to share this correspondence with everybody I changed the name of the dog but the incident remains the same. All too often I see people who have a situation that occurs with their dog and they chop it up to a series of unfortunate events.

Here’s the question


“Need some advice….
We got a court summons because “YaYa” snapped at two annoying kids at Lowe’s while I was paying and she was sitting by me on leash and the she may have broken skin. I didn’t see what I’d expect to look like a bite mark, just a dot. Mom ended up calling the police because of the bite.

What do I do now? 
I’d like know if and how I can get this dropped as “Yaya” ‘s not aggressive.  “


You probably aren’t going to get it dropped especially since the dog broke the skin and there is enough evidence to support your dog acted aggressive at this time.  Thus the bite.

I would suggest you take it as an opportunity to get a little extra training with your dog. I’m not saying that your dog is aggressive, but if he’s barking at people it probably wouldn’t hurt to get a little extra control of him especially now that he has a record. 
You know that if somebody calls back in Animal Control is going to have a history of your dog’s bite now. It’s going to be hard to explain to a judge if he asks why didn’t you do anything after the last incident.




“So, do you think I should record a video of “Yaya” Playing with kids in the neighborhood?”

 The thing is even if you have a Canine Good Citizen on your dog and it is preceived  to act aggressively in public. 

The judge isn’t going to care if he gets along with your neighbors kids or any other kids.

If you look at the summons it says that your dog is accused of acting that way on a specific date and time and at a specific location. 

You’re not going to get out of a speeding ticket by taking a video of you not speeding through a school zone on a separate day and time then the ticket occurred on.  A dog ticket is viewed the same way.

Your dog’s behavior is only in question for the date and time on the face of the summons. Unless you have witnesses or security footage that shows your dog behaving like an angel during the time he was accused of acting this way then it’s going to be hard to fight. Your job isn’t to convince the judge that it didn’t happen, especially if it did happen. Your job is to convince the judge that moving forward you’re going to take actions to ensure that this won’t happen in the future. 


This is a good opportunity to have a professional evaluate the situation and come up with a specific plan to prevent future bites with your dog.


“Is there anything else I should do?”


You will want to make sure that your dog is on a 10-day home quarantine if he actually did bite the skin on somebody. 


You want to make sure that your dog is current on whatever licensing your city or state requires which will always include a rabies vaccination at least here in the states. 

Make sure that your dog cannot escape the backyard.

If you decide to continue taking your dog into public places make sure that your dog is leashed and keep an eye open for people approaching your dog who look like they may want to pet. 

It also is worth considering a basket muzzle, but your trainer can talk more in depth with you about that.

When there is a fight at the dog park

What to do if there is a scuffle at the dog park.

This outline is meant for after the fight/scuffle/altercation is completely broken up and there is no risk for re-engagement between the two dogs.

Start by assessing the situation.

Determine if any people were bitten while breaking up the fight and look for injuries on both dogs. Are the injuries minor or severe? Was it just barking and snarling, did it escalate to wet fur, how about puncture wounds or tooth drags? If either dog is injured badly enough that it needs to be transported to the vet immediately ask a witness to exchange numbers with you and see if they complete the next step for you. Assessing the situation will also require you to determine the level of severity of the incident if two dogs just barked at each other moving forward with the following steps may not be necessary but if one of the dog has puncture wounds or seem seriously injured the following step is critical.

Just like a car crash, when there is a dog-dog altercation dog owners need to exchange information. Both dog owners will benefit from exchanging information and taking photos of damages or lack of damages. Keep in mind that some damages may not be visible right away. In addition this can protect both owners by keeping this as accurate as possible. If vet treatment will need to be sought a summons to court will help the victim obtain restitution for vet or doctor bills, but it will be easier if you have the other person’s information. Without this there maybe nothing you can do to find them later.

If the other dog owner chooses to leave the scene quickly, instead of checking in with you and your dog then try and get the make and model of their car, as well as the license plate, and if possible a photo of owner and dog. Be sure not to put yourself in danger while trying to do this. If the other dog owner is cooperating see if you can get a photo of their driver’s license and their dogs rabies tag. If they’re not comfortable with sharing this information with you see if you can get their full name, date of birth, address and phone number.

Gather as many witness’s information as possible. If there is a pen and paper available see if they can write a quick statement as to what they saw occur be sure they include a full name and phone number. The other part of this step is to gather photos. Be sure to get photos of the other dog, owner, both dogs, any injuries, blood left on soil, dog bites and the location it occurred.

Your final step is to report the incident. If there are any injuries to your dog I highly recommend that you to report the incident to animal control. This will protect you if you do have vet bills to pay. This will also put a record out there if a similar incident occurs with the same dog and owner. Many times you can decide if a ticket is issued or if it’s just a written warning, so don’t feel bad about getting the other dog in trouble this can protect you and your dog. Turn the information you collected over to animal control, but save a copy for your records.

Most animal control agencies can run license plates and find people’s current addresses off of driver’s license numbers or license plates in case if the owner isn’t willing to provide that information to you. The more information you gather the better understanding the police or Animal Control will have of the incident. If they can get a clear picture of the incident they can come up with the best way to move forward. Also, if it moves forward to court the city attorney’s will be well on their way to being able to paint the jury a clear picture of what occurred.

The best choice of all is to prevent this from happening. I normally suggest to clients that they stay away from dog parks. Instead I recommend they have play dates with dogs that they know in a friends big back yard, do supervised play at indoor facilities or get a group of friends together for a group walk. If you do end up at a dog park watch for bullying, always keep a close eye on your dog, and spend time learning about body language before you go. When you are at the dog park leave at the first sign of a dog with poor social skills.

Good luck!