Thursday, November 22, 2007


Enjoy yourselves!

By the way: 1.) Keep holiday foods away from dogs. Much of it can kill a dog, especially fatty things like the turkey skin; 2.) Watch escape points from the house so your dog doesn't run away; 3.) Protect your dog from guests and your guests from your dog.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Can You Tell Me How This Makes Sense?

Woman gets a dog (pit bull) two days ago

Dog is left in the yard and it digs up the plants

Woman hits dog

Dog bites woman

Dog is taken by animal control and the dog is going to be put to death.

Why should it be OK for someone to hit a dog and then it not be OK for the dog to defend itself from someone that isn't its pack leader?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Kids And Dogs

Follow me and see where I'm going... The first story is about a dog who attacked and killed a kid in Phoenix:

A family is grieving after learning their pet dog is responsible for mauling their four-year-old loved one to death. Sheriff's deputies say initially the dog nipped and grabbed at Tori's arm when she and her sister were alone in the backyard. The two girls were in the presence of three other dogs, including a pair of terriers that were staying at the home temporarily. When Rachelle went to get help from the nanny inside the home, the dog started grabbing a Tori's throat. A close family friend, Dani During, said she believes the dog got jealous of the two terriers that had been staying at the house.

During said that the dog seemed friendly and would jump on and lick visitors to the home. The family adopted the dog about a year ago. During contends the bulldog may have become jealous when he attacked because Tori was playing with other dogs the family was keeping temporarily.

Then here is the second story:

Police are still looking into what exactly happened in a Waukegan apartment early Sunday morning when a dachshund chewed off the genitals of a 4-month-old boy. The father of the boy told police he was visiting his girlfriend with his son when the infant fell asleep on a couch. The girlfriend had placed blankets around the child and the two went into another room to sleep. Police said the girlfriend’s dachshund may have smelled urine in the child’s diaper and began to chew away at the diaper. The dog continued to destroy the diaper until he mutilated and ingested the child’s genitals. The girlfriend awoke to the child screaming and immediately called 911.

First thing I notice, as a dog trainer, is that in both situations THE KIDS WERE LEFT ALONE WITH THE DOGS! Kids and dogs SHOULD NOT BE LEFT UNSUPERVISED WITH A DOG, EVER! I don't believe a child under 12 years old should be left alone with a dog. The whole social situation changes when the adults leave the area, and behaviors that would be inhibited by the presence of the adults are no longer restrained. The behavior of the kids changes when the adults aren't present, and they will do things they shouldn't do. The behavior of the dogs changes when the adults aren't present, too, and they will do things that they shouldn't do.

Second, I am especially concerned about the set up of the first story. In this situation, there were new dogs introduced into the home. That can, and probably did, set up a competitive situation. That is one reason why we don't let strangers enter into the daycare area at Paws To Play doggie daycare without our direct supervision. Even friendly dogs can do bad things when ignorant people do dumb things with them.

There is a way to enter a pack of dogs. First, you establish your leadership, and then and only THEN should you consider giving any affection. Most people do it the other way around, and that can set up either a dog fight or someone being bitten. This little girl was apparently playing with the two terriers. Most people don't know how to read dog behavior in a situation like this, and don't realize that a fight is about to break out. Kids have a tendency to nurture dogs that are being picked on by bigger dogs, or to gravitate towards the vulnerable looking dog. Kids MUST be supervised, because you have to know how to approach and interact with dogs that have not formed a pack. This is also why you should never let your kid go unsupervised into a friend's backyard when dogs are present or into a leash free dog park.

I notice that in the first story, the dog was known for being rude to guests: "the dog seemed friendly and would jump on and lick visitors to the home." Dogs that are rude to guests are more likely to engage in a dog fight when a competitive situation arises. Many people interpret jumping up and licking guests to be a friendly behavior set. It isn't. It is rude and often says something about the dog's status in the home. I recently entered the home of a potential customer, the dogs started jumping up on me, the owner was telling me how friendly they were, I was starting to say how rude they were (and was about to tell him to separate the dogs), when a dog fight broke out. The jumping up on me wasn't friendly at all. I think it very possible that this kind of competitive situation happened with this little girl who was mauled to death. Spoiled dogs often are the rudest of dogs. I have written about them before. Spoiled dogs don't have proper leadership, and that can lead to a situation such as this. Spoiled kids can also trigger such an attack. I've offended a number of customers when I told them to modify how their kids interact with the dog. I lost a potentially good customer the other day for that very reason. Let's just hope that something tragic like this never happens in their family.

Third, if you read the stories, you'll find that the kid that was mauled to death was playing on a swing set. I have evaluated a handful of dogs that were overly stimulated by kids on swing sets, and would bite at them as they were swinging or when they got off the swing. I think swing sets stimulate a dog much the same way as swinging a rag around can stimulate some dogs. It activates their prey instincts, and when that drive isn't satisfied, it frustrates the dog, and frustration can lead to aggression. If you watch a protection dog trainer run around a dog, back and forth, to try and stimulate the dog to bite, then you'll see what I mean. I think that swing sets can do the same around some dogs.

Who knows? There could be alternate reasons why these horrible things happened to these kids. News reporting can oftentimes leave out important story details since reporters aren't dog behaviorists or trainers. They just tell the story that was told to them. But, I think my take on the story is probably the best explanation of what happened given what we know at this juncture. And now that the dogs are dead, and we aren't there to set up an evaluation, we will never know.

I will say this: If you get a dog, and you don't train it, enforce proper manners, exercise leadership around the dog, supervise the dog when it is loose, and contain the dog when it can't be supervised, then you are asking for trouble. This is more than just getting some treats and going through a couple of classes at your local pet store. And if you have a kid: never leave the kid unsupervised with a dog, and teach the kids how to act around a dog. Don't let your kid be unmannerly around a dog, or you could be very sorry one day.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Puggles: I Told You So!

The appeal of the puggle is evident at first glance: A puggle puppy inherits a slightly less smushed-in face than its pug progenitor, framed by the floppy ears of the beagle parent. It is cuteness defined. But the puggle's downfall is not its appearance. It is its energy level. While pugs have been bred for centuries for companionship, they have a reputation for clownish stubbornness. This gets taken to NASCAR levels with the infusion of beagle blood. An unapologetic hunting dog, the beagle gives voice when he is excited, or frustrated, or bored, or basically just breathing. He laughs at your obedience-class enrollment forms, preferring instead to dig up the dahlia bed or bark nonstop. As a result, while a puggle is a delight to look at, he is a challenge to live with. The word that recurs in conversation with rescuers is "hyper."

Scroll through this blog and find the articles I have written on the Puggle, and then read the comments. Now, as I predicted, Puggles are starting to fill up the animal shelters. As I predicted, they would be hard to house train. As I predicted, they are a lot like a Beagle... on steroids. It has a long way to go before it should be considered a breed. And you have a lot of homework to do before you breed or buy one. If you already have a Puggle, hire a good professional and get to work. You still can have a great dog, but this is not a dog for novice or lazy dog owners.