Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Puppy?

So... you got a new puppy for Christmas?

Having some problems, eh? House training? Biting? Chewing? Jumping?

Are these problems becoming a nuisance for you? Getting aggravated? Maybe even a bit worried?

Time to hire a dog trainer!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

If you got a Christmas puppy, search this blog for a lot of free dog training tips. Also, go to my web page, SamTheDogTrainer.com for more specific advice. Just remember:

* The pup doesn't know anything. YOU have to teach them everything, step by step. They don't know their names, any commands, the word "No", leave it, drop it, don't know where to pee and poop, won't come when called, can't walk on a leash... they don't know anything. All of that has to be taught.
* No rough stuff! No spanking, swatting with a newspaper, yelling, shoving the pup's face in it's poop... none of that stuff! It doesn't work, and it wrecks the dog... and it is cruel.
* Get help! Don't be a cheapskate! Hire a trainer!
* Study the breed(s) in your dog.
* Go buy a dog first aid book, read it from cover to cover, and make up a first aid kit for your dog.
* First objectives: House training, puppy manners and early socialization.
* With a good trainer... start obedience no later than 4 months old.
* Supervise, supervise, supervise... kids, strangers, and the pup!
Shoot To Kill?

A directive that allows Ferris police officers to shoot dangerous feral dogs is drawing criticism from animal welfare advocates. The policy handed down by City Manager David Chavez last week allows officers to use shotguns to kill the potentially violent dogs. As more owners dump their dogs or let them loose in the Ellis County town, the population increases and the threat becomes greater, said Mr. Chavez. "A lot of people come here in the country and let them go because for some reason they don't want to keep them any longer," he said. "They think they're doing something humane, but they forget these dogs don't have any food." Instead, they breed and form packs that roam the town for food.

Three cruelties for the price of one. First cruelty: shooting dogs with a shotgun. You kill birds with shotguns. You kill larger animals with a rifle, otherwise they might just be wounded and run off and die a slow miserable death. Second cruelty: letting a dog go to let it fend for itself in the wild. Third cruelty: letting feral dogs run loose. Feral dog packs are dangerous to other animals and people, and dogs can pass on rabies to people. There's got to be a better way, eh?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hmmmm... Guilty or Not Guilty, That Is The Question

An assistant Los Angeles County fire chief who allegedly beat a neighbor's 6-month-old dog so severely it had to be euthanized said Monday he was acting in self-defense. Glynn D. Johnson and his attorney, John E. Sweeney, said the incident was being unfairly characterized by the media and protesters as an unprovoked attack on a timid puppy. "The dog had my thumb in a viselike grip in his jaws when it became necessary to defend myself," Johnson said in the lawyer's office, where enlarged photos of his stitched-up thumb were displayed for reporters. Johnson, 54, of Riverside, is accused of beating the shepherd mix with his fist and a 12-pound rock Nov. 3. The injured dog was taken by its owner to a veterinarian, where it was euthanized. Johnson was charged last week by Riverside County prosecutors with felony animal cruelty and other counts and freed on $10,000 bail. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Two sides to this story, from my experience.

I encountered a vicious 12 week old Australian Shepherd pup many years ago. The dog was a born fear biter. The dog was dangerous even at that age. Breeders will tell you, if they've been breeding dogs long enough, that sometimes a pup will be born that isn't right in the head. And the breeder will cull the pup (meaning put the pup to death). The article says the pup was "timid", usually meaning fearful. A true fear biter can't be fixed. The dog is mentally ill, and no amount of training, love, or behavior modification will change that. A dog that bites will often not let go, and dogs have incredibly strong jaws, even as puppies.

Then again, I have met wackos that would provoke dogs. They would tease, or even harm a puppy, to the point that even a very mild mannered pup will eventually become a biter. Saw this once with an Italian Greyhound. Mild mannered dog that was treated way too roughly, and the dog eventually became a serious biter. The dog needed some serious work, a lot of patience and love, and we could have gotten the dog over it. The owners refused to spend the money and let us get the dog out of this predicament. Ham handed, home brewed training is just as bad as outright abuse.

So, what happened here? You can't tell from the article, so we really don't know. There are more clues, however... A second article states: "A Woodcrest man accused of savagely beating a dog that strayed onto his property is a dedicated firefighter and animal lover who simply tried to defend himself when the dog attacked, his lawyer said Monday."

Again, from experience...

Some people get manic when dogs enter their yards. They get aggressive to the dog to run it off, or to punish it for pooping in their yard, or such like.

Or, some dogs, when loose from their homes, feel very afraid when a stranger corners them and tries to catch them. The second article states: "Karley turned on Johnson as he tried to return her to her yard, biting him on the right thumb so severely that she nearly severed it, Sweeney said. He said Johnson, who is right-handed, defended himself as best he could with his free hand." Did he grab the dog? And how did he do it? Regardless, the type of bite and the location of the bite leads me to believe it was a fear bite... but was it provoked or not?

Again, we can't tell from these stories if the man is guilty or not. So, unless there is more evidence showing abuse leading up to the bite, I'd acquit the guy.

What do you do in these circumstances? First, try to get the owners to get their own dog. Second, if that fails, and you are going to try and get the dog yourself, use a leash or rope to lasso the dog. Don't grab the dog. Third, once a dog locks its jaw on your body, it is probably not going to let go... and then you have to defend yourself. That's the cruel truth.

Here is a clearer example of the kind of detail that would lead me to convict someone of animal abuse: "A Sandy man will serve jail time for strangling and beating two dogs, killing one of them. William McKnight, 29, was sentenced Monday in 3rd District Court to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for two misdemeanor counts of aggravated cruelty to an animal. According to the charges, McKnight told a separate witness "that he had tortured (the woman's) dogs by grabbing their necks and throwing them against the walls and floor."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Financial Crisis Is Causing People To Abandon Their Dogs

The increase in requests for re-homing is attributed to the financial crisis. Owners either have to move to dog-unfriendly accommodation or can no longer afford to care for the animal after losing their job. "Moving as a result of the credit crunch is the number one factor for giving up a dog," explains Moore. "People also ring up to say they can't afford to look after their dog anymore, because they've been made redundant." On top of overcrowding, animal rescue charities face another problem; they rely on charity donations and are likely to suffer in those terms. "The expected increase in unemployment and decrease of disposable income is going to affect the donations," says Moore. Another concern for dog charities is that animals are given as Christmas presents. Unfortunately some of these dogs turn up at the re-homing center in the New Year as unwanted gifts.

The current worldwide financial crisis is the fault of government meddling with the free markets. This would have never happened if we hadn't created these ridiculous incentives to create no-money-down, no income verification, sub-prime loans. Whose brilliant idea was that? Banking is banking. We messed with the system, and gave lenders incentives and mandates to toss out good banking practices, and now look where that has gotten us. A mess. This is why you see articles here condemning government over-regulation, because it always ends up destroying things in the end.

Even on the simplest levels, these past wrongs are affecting everyone: It is trickling down to even to our dogs.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Puppy Mills vs Hobby Breeders

Liz Walker was among hundreds of people who showed up at the East Valley Animal Shelter to bid for one of 10 purebred puppies seized last month at Los Angeles International Airport from a puppy mill operating out of South Korea. The puppies - five Maltese and five Yorkshire terriers - are the only survivors among 30 puppies seized after the long flight. Accompanied by falsified health certificates, the 30 puppies were found dehydrated and suffering from illnesses, officials said. Most had to be euthanized.

It is interesting that the worst breeding offenders are puppy mill operators... but the laws that are then passed to deal with them affect the best breeders... the hobbyists. Regulations are piled on to prevent the good breeders from staying in the business, and the worst breeders just keep pumping out dogs. You don't see the committed hobbyists pumping out 3o dogs, shipping them to who knows where, falsifying records, and causing the deaths of numerous puppies, do you? Nope.

Animal Shelter Disaster...

Columbus Ohio:

Zealously determined that fewer dogs should die, the Franklin County animal shelter harbors sick and vicious dogs and then offers them as pets to unsuspecting families. These conclusions, outlined in a report by the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, portray a shelter riddled with mismanagement, rife with disease, and crippled by overcrowding.

Seattle Washington:

Animal control has come under fire in the past year for running understaffed, overcapacity shelters in Bellevue and Kent, with high euthanasia rates. Two reports, one from a citizens committee in 2007 and a follow-up from a group of veterinarians at the University of California, Davis, called conditions at the Kent shelter deplorable. The reports pointed to poor sanitation, outbreaks of canine parvovirus and feline upper-respiratory infections, failure to vaccinate some animals and no place to isolate sick dogs.


Animal control enforces the dog laws in your community... and they oftentimes are doing the very things that they'd put you in jail for. I believe in the animal control function. It is necessary, for the welfare of the animals and for public safety. However... look at these situations and realize that these aren't just isolated incidents. So, who are they to judge you when they don't have their own houses in order? This is the result of a lack of accountability, poor management, too much influence from the animal rights nuts, lack of due process, bureaucracy, etc. This is also the problem when you give an agency police powers and then not check up on them until it is too late.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hi Everybody

The year 2008 is almost over... and 2009 approaches...


Another Thanksgiving is past and the end of the year celebrations are still going. How did your dog do this past weekend? Was your dog good with your guests? How did the potty training go? Was your dog obedient? Did your dog get into any trouble? Did you have to keep your dog away from everyone, or was your dog able to participate in all the activities?

Holidays and pets can either be a fun thing or a not so fun thing. I have always been one to emphasize preparation for holidays. I start brushing up on my dog’s training weeks prior to these events. Training and manners can get rusty as the months go by, and then the training you thought you had isn’t there when you need it. So, right now is a good time to do a tune up on your dog! You can either do lessons at home, or we can arrange for a board and train program. Either way, you can be better prepared, and your dog will be happier. It isn’t any fun for the dog to be in trouble the entire time, or banished from the family, when guests arrive and everyone is hustling to and fro from the stores and in and out of the home.

Or maybe you are planning on getting another dog over the holidays. If you haven’t had a puppy in a while, it is best to start the planning now. I highly recommend doing a house training lesson BEFORE the puppy comes home, so you are prepared. And for some breeds, it is also good to do a Puppy Manners lesson before the pup comes home so everyone is prepared for what to do when the pup starts to bite, and tear up things, and gets everyone aggravated. It doesn’t have to be a hassle… do the preparation work in advance.

Or maybe you are trying to think of a good gift for someone who is planning on getting a dog over the holidays. I have had numerous people purchase Gift Certificates for dog training over the years. Gifts can be pretty difficult to find, right? Most people have the things they need: TV’s, sweaters, pants, jewelry, DVD players, cameras, and so forth. It is hard to get something personal and unique. A gift of dog training can be just the thing! (And sometimes, you get them the dog training gift because it is such a hassle going over to their place, because their dogs are totally out of control… and here’s a way to help them with that problem).

Or maybe your dog just needs a tune up, or you never did complete the training of your dog, and you want a bit more control and a few less hassles.

Need some holiday training? Call me! And if you are out of the area... find a good local trainer!


Here is a recent customer… who hired me to introduce a new bull terrier to the family, when the main dog, another bull terrier, wasn’t typically good with other dogs…

Thank you, Sam. Things have gone so well that it is like a dream for us. We have put off getting another dog because we always thought that it just could not be done. Unfortunately, we blamed or male dog for it and didn’t realize that it took getting just the right dog at the right time along with some good advice. It has taken a lot of work (especially on my part) but we are so happy. It just seems like she was meant to become part of our family.


From: Sam The Dog Trainer

Super! I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Usually when things are going well, I don’t get any feedback… and you wonder how things went.

From: A

To: Sam The Dog Trainer
Hi, Sam. I have been so swamped that I have not had a chance to get back with you. Things are going really well at our home between our dogs. Our third dog, has also accepted her.


I have owned dogs for many years. However, 2 years ago I inherited a cat after I got married. Because the cat was “someone else’s” (meaning it was a family member’s cat), and I was busy working, I didn’t much pay attention to what was going on. I figured that cats were pretty self sufficient. How wrong I was! The cat stopped eating, and $600 in vet bills later, I have learned a very important lesson.

I have saved numerous customers’ dogs. Because I have read a lot about dog health, I can oftentimes spot medical problems early on. I have come into customers houses and seen dogs that had a medical issue. I have immediately stopped the lesson, and urged the customer to get their pet to the veterinarian immediately. And some of these dogs would have died or had other serious medical issues if they hadn’t gotten their dog to the vet immediately. Years ago, I started recommending that my customers get a pet first aid book for their dogs, read it from cover to cover, and make up a first aid kit for their dogs. I have said over and over again, that this one step could save you thousands of dollars at some point in veterinary bills.

I should have done that with the cat. Once I got married, that cat was mine, too, right? Why it didn’t occur to me… I don’t know. I think if I had known more about cat medicine, maybe I would have seen early on that something wrong was going on, and would have been able to head off the problem. Maybe that is wishful thinking, and maybe none of that would have helped. Now it is past that point: we are having to force feed the cat, and inject it with fluids. Maybe the cat lives, maybe the cat dies. It is heartbreaking to have to deal with this every day.

I see this kind of thing with pet dogs all the time.


My grandfather always taught us: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. He also taught us: When you get knocked down, get back up again. I still try to grasp the wisdom in these sayings, and keep trying to implement them in my life.

This year has been a time for a lot of changes for many of us… myself included. Yet, this year is now almost over, and even though it is useful to reflect on the past, and learn the lessons that life has for us, 2009 is about to start. You can’t re-do 2008, and 2009 is coming whether you like it or not. Some of you have had a great year, some of you haven’t. Whatever the case, it’s time to start planning for the next year, and to let this year go.

What are you going to do with your 2009? I’m trying to answer that question for myself this week. I’m making plans for growth and opportunity… how about you?

Give your dogs a hug for me…

Best Regards,

Sam Basso
Dog Trainer & Behaviorist