Such tools are often sold as harmless devices, and they’re proliferating. Don’t play along.
I’m amazed how many tools you can buy that cause dogs pain and fear. There’s the SimpleLeash, a leash and shock collar combo that automatically shocks your dog every time the leash goes tight — that is, every time she wants to smell something, investigate a new person, or lift a leg on a tree out of leash range. Which is to say, every time she wants to be a dog.
There are now collars that shock your dog when he barks, collars that shock your dog at the press of a button for any reason you like, and mats that shock your dog when they place their paws on them. You can even get a handy-dandy Stay! Mat Wireless Crate, which shocks your dog if he gets up from the mat until he returns to it and lies down. Yeesh! If I am reincarnated as a dog, please don’t let it be to a home where I have to use one of those.
These tools are often sold to well-intentioned pet owners swayed by a variety of euphemisms — a shock is referred to as a “sensation,” a “tickle,” a “tap,” a “stimulation.” They would probably be a pretty hard sell if “shock” were used, or if you were told this tool would hurt your dog. If a dog is “man’s best friend,” we sure have a funny way of showing it.
For some dogs, these tools seem to create few unwanted side effects. Like with people, tolerance for pain varies widely among dogs, and for dogs that have a higher pain tolerance and a strong prey drive, a shock of a few seconds is easily trumped by the joy of chasing a deer — in other words, it’s worth the trouble.
For others, the side effects may be more subtle and only readily apparent to someone well-versed in reading dog body language: a succession of lip licks, yawns, and head turns, which are saying, “Please make it stop.”
Shock collars can create anxiety, stress, fear and unwanted aggression in dogs. They can make a dog skittish, nervous and create an array of new problems.
Pet owners purchase shock tools in desperation, not knowing how to improve their dogs’ quality of life. Some are hoping for a quick fix to long-standing behavior problems. Instead, they end up having to address the original problem and also repair the damage done by inappropriate training tools and techniques. Dog owners, don’t be fooled. There are other training techniques that will be far more effective with far less damaging results on your dogs.
Would you want to walk around with a shock collar on all day not knowing when that moment will come and you’ll be zapped by an electrical jolt!
As someone who takes many dogs, including my own to dog parks, this used to be the question on my mind when walking through the gate. Now, I realize I’ve been asking myself the wrong question all along. The real question is, are these responsible pet owners at this dog park?
First, I am not alone as a dog owner who does not want every rambunctious dog to tackle my pal when we’re entering the dog park. Yet, so many pet owners are not paying attention to their dogs but rather talking with other people in the park, on their cell phones or taking a nap on the bench!
Once inside the park, this is a time for owners to be on heightened awareness, watching their dogs interactions and controlling their misbehavior. Unfortunately, more times than not, dog owners with a dog who has over rambunctious, bordering aggressive behavior is either distracted or in denial that their dog is about to create a bad situation.
There seems to be more distracted people with poorly socialized dogs who lose control of (or make no effort to control) their pets. These people, who often have a cup of coffee in one hand and a cellphone in the other (and a leash in none), chase haplessly after their dogs who run to greet, tackle, or pick a fight with another dog. Occasionally, as the chase or attack occurs, the people yell their dog’s name and, in turn, the words “My dog is friendly!” Ha! Really people?
By this time, it’s usually too late. The next thing you know, people are scrambling to damage control and often times sadly, a dog gets seriously hurt. Sometimes, even people who try to stop the attacks.
Just this weekend, at one of the so called “friendly dog parks”, I witnessed an owner with a highly charged and aggressive dog, sitting and chatting with someone while his dog went after and attacked 3 different dogs. I watched him sit on the bench, laughing at this, like it was amusing instead of frightful.
One by one, pet owners leashed their dogs and left the park. As I did the same, I looked back to see the wrong person and dog still inside the dog park.
Come on pet owners, show a little respect and awareness. A dog park is a place to bring social dogs. Not aggressive dogs. Dog parks are a place where the dogs get to play and interact, not the owners. Owners, you’re there to make sure all dogs have a great experience playing, socializing and exercising. Do it for yourself on your own time!
Nearly 90 percent of dogs communicate silently. Vocalizations and bites represent only 10 percent of their language. So, how do you know what your dog is saying in his silence?
Here are some common signals and their meaning:
Turning the head away: Peaceful intentions. Avoiding possible conflict. Prevents eye contact, which most dogs find threatening.
Lip licking: Peaceful intentions. Calms a social group, eases tension. But it also may precede a bite from a fearful dog.
Yawning: Stress reducer. Commonly observed at the veterinarian’s office or at the groomer.
Tail positions: Up means confidence. Down signals a relaxed or submissive state. Between legs means fear. Wagging with entire body signals joy. Wagging without the body indicates stress, interest or excitement.
Raised hackles: The dog feels threatened or is overstimulated.
Shivering: Fear, tension or overstimulated.
Paw lift: Forward weight distribution signals a friendly state or begging. Rear weight distribution could indicate fear or distrust.
Closed mouth: Precedes bite. Helps gain scent, conveys seriousness.
Open mouth: Relaxed.
Grimace: Tense jaw muscles with mouth pulled back at corners exposing canines or all teeth signals fear, excitement or aggression.
Whale eye (whites of eyes visible, dilated pupils): Conveys fear or aggression.
Presenting stomach: Laying squarely on back with paws over center of chest signals submission or trust. On side, lifting one hind leg indicates fear, apprehension or fearful submission.
Sneeze: During or after enjoyable activity signals happiness.
Bowing: Means the dog is playful.
Breathing: Through stomach signals a relaxed state. Through chest indicates excitment or stress.
Sniffing ground: This is a calming signal that shows peaceful intent, relief of stress or an attempt to gain a scent.
Freezing: Signals the dog is contemplating a fight or flight.
Drooling: During the presence of food means the dog is hungry. During stressful situations signals fear and, for dogs that suffer car-sickness, often precedes vomiting.
I was going to write a Thanksgiving blog all about the pros and cons of feeding our pets table scraps but something happened on my morning walk that’s irritated me so much, I decided to voice my very opinionated opinion on what it means to be a responsible pet owner instead!
I’ve owned pets all my life and now run a successful pet sitting company. I consider myself a loving, caring, responsible pet owner. I believe in keeping pets safe, feeding them healthy food, making sure they’re physically healthy, exercised, socialized and loved. But, apparently nowadays, it means something entirely different. When was this new rule book written because I must have missed the issue! And, who wrote it? Since when, in this politically correct world we live in, do we have to follow someone else’s rules because they think it’s the politically correct thing to do in order to be a responsible pet owner.
What happened to the days where you could walk your dog without a leash, go to a school yard and have the dogs play with the kids, go to a park and have the dogs running and playing alongside the people, letting them swim in the ocean and sun themselves on the sand. What happened to having your neighbor call and say your dog was visiting them at their house and they just gave them a sandwich. What happened to letting your dog pee and poo on a walk and not panic because you forgot a bag for cleanup and it might cost you a hefty fine.
I was at a park with my dog a few weeks ago playing catch with a ball when a police car came blazing across the park and stopped in front of me and my dog. The two officers proceeded to tell me I was breaking a law! Yes, breaking a law playing fetch with my dog in a park! They then proceeded to tell me they were going to write a ticket and if I resisted giving them my name and information, they would tasser me and my dog with their tasser guns! Yes, this is all true, as unbelievable as it may sound. This can’t be what it means to be a responsible pet owner, because quite honestly, it scares me to death if that’s what it means.
What I love about dogs, is they have no agenda’s and they live by their instincts. They don’t stop and think, can I, should I, could I, dare I, what if I….. But people nowadays seem to think they should.
I’m really tired of people going out of their way to stop their car or come out of their home to take the time to lecture and scream about your dog walking on their grass, peeing in their yard, pooping and making sure you have a bag to clean it up. Really? Really?? When did we make everyone a dog deputy!!
And, those signs people buy and stick in their lawns, warning you about the code violation your dog is committing if he poops on their grass. Really? Really??? I walk around stressed and full of panic if I forgot a bag. Are they going to call the cops, have me arrested? It’s become so coo coo crazy. And, we just seem to let it continue.
I miss the good old days. I really do. When dogs could be dogs. People were kind and everyone lived in harmony, not fear because you forgot your poop bags on the morning walk or you took your dog off leash to fetch a ball.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Lets give thanks for the pets and focus on the joy that they can bring if you let them!! And, give serious thought to how far we’re letting this politically correct world take over what we already know. How to be a responsible pet owner!
You want to let your dog give you one of it’s slobbery loving kisses but, ohhhh no, it’s the breath of the beast heading towards you instead!
Signs of periodontal gum disease include the yellow and brown buildup of tarter around the gum line, inflammation and bad breath. Your dogs and cats don’t have to be seniors for this to start happening. Infact, it can start as early as 3 years of age.
You’ve tried giving them bones to chew on, breath drops in their water, even tried brushing their teeth with pet toothbrushes! Ya, like your dog likes a big hard plastic toothbrush in it’s mouth! Not my dog. Ugh! Nothing is working, now what?
If your dog doesn’t like plastic pet toothbrushes and if “finger brushes” make them gag, you might have more luck using a simple, thin cotton glove. Place toothpaste on your gloved index finger and gently massage your pet’s teeth and gums. Most dogs find this sensation pleasurable and relaxing.
The glove is analogous to your finger, which your dog presumably trusts, and not hard, inflexible, or rubbery. Wash your hand in the glove and hang the glove to dry for next time. (So simple!)
Eighty percent of humans brush their teeth at least twice a day, but very few pet owners brush their pet’s teeth at all. Yes, guilty as charged! But, with this glove idea, it’s made it easy and a positive experience for both myself and my dog.
Now, I’m working up the courage to try it on my cat! Meowrrrrrrr!!!!
Many pet owners have adopted or rescued their dog and may wonder, how old is this dog, really? Others pet owners may think they know it’s age by applying the old 7 to 1 ratio. For every year of a dogs life add 7 years. Which, by the way, is not exactly accurate either.
Dogs age much more rapidly in the first two years of their lives but then it slows down to a 5 to 1, 6 to 1 or a 7 to 1 ratio, depending on the size of your dog.
Small little Chihuahua’s will be in the 5 to 1 ratio after the first two years while Labs and Chow’s may be a 6 to 1 ratio. If you have a St Bernard lounging around the house, then bump that up to an 8 to 1 ratio. Yes, 8!
So, just how old is your dog? Here’s some other signs that may help you figure it out.
Your dogs teeth will be a good give away for signs of aging. Dogs usually have a set of permanent teeth by their seventh month, so if you’ve come across a dog with clean pearly whites, he is likely a year old or thereabouts. Yellowing on a dog’s back teeth may put the dog between one to three years of age, while tartar build-up at a minimal level could mean you have a dog between 4 and 6. Missing teeth or severe wear usually means the dog is settling into senior aging.
Your dogs muscle tone is another clue. Younger dogs are more likely to have some muscle definition from their higher activity level. Older dogs are usually either a tad bonier or a little fatter from decreased activity.
Does your dog have a shiny coat of fur? A younger dog usually has a soft, fine coat, whereas an older dog tends to have thicker, coarser (and sometimes oilier) fur. A senior dog may display grays or patches of white, particularly around the snout.
Look into your dogs eyes. Bright, clear eyes without tearing or discharge are common in younger dogs. Cloudy or opaque eyes may can mean your dog is starting to age.
One of the best ways to prolong the life and improve the functions of your dog as it ages is to carefully regulate its fuel intake. Older dogs exercise less and thus need fewer calories. No matter what your dogs age, a healthy dog is a happy dog and needs lots of love from it’s owner at any age!
Dogs are a lot like humans. They all possess unique personality traits, emotions and behaviors. No two dogs will react the same in any given situation or when around other dogs. Here are some common triggers to watch for aggressive behavior in dogs.
Many dogs take guarding their home and owners very seriously! Territoriality is an extension of resource guarding, when the entire home and property become a valuable resource which the dog wants to guard from intruders at any cost. Resource guarding is natural behavior. Dogs that resource guard will view approach by other dogs or humans as a threat to what they perceive to be valuable. This may be it’s home property, the owner, a meal or a toy, or a preferred sleeping space.
Other dogs can trigger aggression in your dog for a variety of causes. Inter-sex aggression is aggression toward dogs of the same sex. This tends to be most common in dogs that are sexually intact and are generally resource guarding for reproductive advantage.
Type-specific aggression can occur when a dog has a socialization deficit with dogs of a particular body type (large, black dogs for instance) or a history of negative experiences with a dog of particular body type. Or, behavior-specific aggression. Dogs, like people, cannot be expected to indefinitely tolerate even the rudest behavior of other dogs. Many dogs will not hesitate to use their voices, body or teeth to tell a rude dog to “back off!”
Movement can trigger aggression in dogs. Because dogs are predators, they are hard-wired to chase after and bite at things that move quickly and unpredictably. Animals which move quickly (squirrels, birds, cats, etc.) are frequent triggers. Human triggers for motion reactivity include biking, jogging, skateboarding, or moving automobiles.
Frustration is another common cause of dog aggression. Frustration creates stress, which contributes to aggression. Frustration aggression often shows in relation to barriers including leashes or fences. The dog may want to check out a person or dog on the other side of the fence but becomes frustrated because he cannot. He may redirect his aggression toward a familiar human or animal as a result. If barking always worked to get attention but suddenly the owner begins ignoring the barking, the dog may experiment to find out if nipping is a more effective way of getting attention.
Dogs can be aggressive to specific groups of people with certain common characteristics such as men with beards, small children, people in walkers or wheelchairs, individuals with altered mobility, even individuals wearing a certain cologne or perfume.
The predictors of dog aggression vary widely. The most important thing to remember is a dog’s response to a stimulus will be effected positively (create a positive, happy response) by the number of positive experiences the dog has in the presence of that trigger, particularly during critical periods of development such as when they’re a new puppy!
Aggressive behavior is always a good opportunity for teaching a dog new tricks! Positive ones!
These are the answers from dogs when asked “How many dogs does it take to put in a light bulb?”
Look at how the temperament of a dog affects how it might tackle a specific task.
Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us, and you’re inside worrying about a stupid burned-out light bulb?
Border Collie: Just one. And I’ll replace any wiring that’s not up to code.
Dachshund: I can’t reach the stupid lamp!
Toy Poodle: I’ll just blow in the Border collie’s ear and he’ll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.
Rottweiler: Go Ahead! Make me!
Shi-tzu: Puh-leeze, dah-ling. Let the servants. . . .
Labrador: Oh, me, me!!! Pleeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Can I?
Malamute: Let the Border collie do it. You can feed me while he’s busy.
Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.
Doberman Pinscher: While it’s dark, I’m going to sleep on the couch.
Mastiff: Mastiffs are NOT afraid of the dark.
Hound Dog: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb.
Irish Wolfhound: Can somebody else do it? I’ve got a hangover.
Pointer: I see it, there it is, right there…
Greyhound: It isn’t moving. Who cares?
Australian Shepherd: Put all the light bulbs in a little circle…
Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? Light bulb? That thing I just ate was a light bulb?