Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 09, 2011

When Should You Seek Expert Advice?

What should you do when you can't find answers to your dog's behavior in your city or state? Sometimes it is best to do a phone consultation with an expert. 

Read This: What Do You Really Know About Dog Training And Behavior?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thinking Of Getting A Second Dog?

Here are my general recommendations when getting a second, third or fourth dog:

a.) Never get a new dog unless the dogs you already have are well trained and well mannered;
b.) Don't get a new dog if your current dog isn't good with other dogs;
c.) Don't get another dog if you aren't prepared for a LOT of work. You need to expect that the new dog will have a variety of new issues that you are unfamiliar with. House training, manners, supervision, containment, and supervision can all be harder with the new dog than it was with your current dogs;
d.) Always have a mix of males and females to limit the risk of dog fights. Ask a trainer for assistance picking the right dog for your "pack"
e.) Prepare to spend the time and money and effort needed on the new dog
f.) Get dogs of similar size and activity level
g.) Make sure you really want to do this
h.) Study breeds and make sure you are getting the right dog for your home
i.) Make sure that everyone in the home is in agreement with getting the new dog, and in agreement that they will participate in the raising of the new dog.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Holiday Time

Well, the holidays are fast approaching. People are going to be getting new puppies. And people are going to be dealing with the risks of dog problems with guests coming over. Before you do any of this, you should consult with a good local dog trainer for advice so as to head off potential problems. Just sayin'

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Radio Interview

I was contacted by a local FM talk radio station, KTAR, to do an interview about pit bulls. Here is the article

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Early Socialization Screw Ups

I have told people time and again that it is best to get a puppy that is around 8 to 9 weeks of age. That is the best age for a pup to be transferred from its litter to a human family. Any younger or older, and you risk that the pup will have more lifetime behavioral problems. What I hadn't considered was that getting a pup of any age, from a pet store, is the same as getting a puppy that is either too young or too old. Most pet stores are obtaining puppies that have been removed from the litter at about 4 to 5 weeks of age. It has been well known by dog trainers, for a very long time, that pet store puppies have more behavioral problems than those from a reputable breeder. We have normally chalked that up to the fact that so many of these pups come from puppy mills, and the abnormal environment of a retail store. What we haven't emphasized was the impact of leaving the litter so soon. Now a study has been done that shows some real, and disturbing, statistics based upon this phenomenon. Over at KC Dog Blog, you'll see this article, "Academic paper on behavioral challenges when dogs removed from litters too young", which lays out the gruesome facts. You can bet that if you tracked the different fates of dogs, those properly adopted vs. those adopted outside the recommended age range, you'd find a lot of those horrible stories we all hear about coming from the latter group. How many shelter dogs, and dog attacks, result from just this one factor? We don't know yet, but I bet there is a causal relationship. Bottom line: if you want a pup, find a reputable breeder and get an 8 to 9 week old puppy. If the breeder insists on selling you a young pup outside these ranges, then take a pass and go somewhere else. You're either dealing with an ignorant or greedy breeder.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thinking In Advance

Many people don't plan long term when getting or owning a dog. I think years in advance when owning or training a dog. I choose English commands, so if the dog is lost someone else can command the dog, and if the dog is in rescue a trained dog is much more adoptable. I tell everyone to extensively socialize their dogs. If you were to pass away, a confident and happy dog is more adoptable; it is also more obedient and easier to live with. I recommend solving your dog's behavioral problems instead of putting up with them. It's safer for the dog and more pleasant for everyone. So, don't be lazy, think ahead.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Dog Training

For many dogs, summer is the time they will spend the most time of the year outdoors and around other people and animals. For dogs that have been kept inside for months because of bad weather, that means a time of adjustment. What might not have been scary last summer now is a bit scary, so it takes a period of a few weeks to get them acclimated. I saw a man the other day walking his mixed bred dog on a harness. As he walked by, his dog started staring at the dog I was with, so the man did an Alpha Roll Over on his dog, scolding his dog in the process. Probably something he learned watching a particular dog show on TV. Corporal punishment such as this is ineffective, and all it did was worry the dog. It didn't do a thing for making his dog more sociable for its next encounter with another dog. What that dog needed was a tune up on its obedience training, plus more socialization in public.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

  1. Clarifies definitions. Terms like “potentially dangerous,” “dangerous,” “bite,” “serious injury,” and “provocation” must be clearly defined, based on objective, observable behaviors, not subjective perceptions. In the case of “potentially dangerous” and “dangerous,” definitions must clearly distinguish between normal dog behaviors and abnormally aggressive behaviors. Laws should also be uniform throughout the country.
  2. Specifies exceptions. References to bites should clarify situations in which a dog may reasonably be expected to bite (for example, defending itself or its pack; when it has been injured, if it is being teased or tormented, etc.). The model dog bite law adopted by the American Veterinary Medical Association does an excellent job of defining such exceptions. Its provisions should be incorporated into all dog bite laws.
  3. Distinguishes between mouthing/nipping, bites, and life-endangering attacks. Mouthing or nipping is not the same as a bite, which is not the same as an attack that kills or seriously maims. A dog that nips someone may need training, but does not deserve the same punishment as a dog that kills or severely maims a person.
  4. Targets deeds, not breeds. Breed-specific legislation doesn’t get at the root of the prob lem: the need for proper training and supervision. Any breed is safe when properly trained and supervised; any breed can have abnormal specimens; and any breed can be modified to make it more aggressive. Banning some breeds just encourages people to switch to others.
  5. Requires sworn affidavits. A fair law requires complainants to submit sworn affidavits and allows the dog's owner to confront the accuser and obtain reasonable proof of the claims. It is unjust to allow anyone who has a gripe against someone to "get even" by anonymously reporting that person's dog.
  6. Establishes an impartial appeal process. A fair law specifies a process for appealing the case to an impartial third party (not the enforcement agency). If you’re unjustly arrested for a crime, you don’t present your case to the chief of police; you have a hearing in court. The same separation of powers should apply to dog law.
  7. Protects owners’ rights in confiscations. A fair law requires a warrant and hearing before a dog can be seized.
  8. Provides for rehabilitation. A fair law allows for rehabilitation when appropriate, expunging a dog’s record if the dog has completed training and there are no repeat incidents.
  9. Establishes burden of proof. A fair law clearly delineates who has the burden of proof and what standard of proof applies.
  10. Matches penalties to the seriousness of the behavior. Penalties should distinguish between threats to people and threats to other animals. These two types of threats are not of equal seriousness—and penalties should reflect this difference.
  11. Provides options other than euthanasia. A fair law reserves euthanasia or exile for only the most serious cases—dogs that kill or severely maim.  In other cases, owners who are willing to take reasonable protection measures (e.g., keeping the dog in a secure kennel, using a leash and muzzle), should be able to keep the dog.
  12. Solicits public input. To ensure that a law will address all relevant concerns, lawmakers should hold public hearings before the law is passed, soliciting testimony from dog owners, professional dog trainers, behaviorists, veterinarians, groomers, and breeders. Any time a law is changed, it’s an opportunity to look at all parts of the law to see what else could benefit from a change—and the testimony of those who will be most affected by the law is critical to create a law that’s fair to all parties.
Arizona's Horrible New Dog Bite Law

Arizona just passed a well meaning, but horrible, dog bite law. There are a number of serious defects... For example:

My concern would be, for example, what about a dog at a daycare that gets in a fight with another dog. Or what about a dog at an off leash park. It is hard to determine which dog provoked the attack. There is a lot of grey area. What about a little fluffy 5 lb dog that has a fit when on a leash, barking and growling. It gets loose and charges at a big Great Dane and nips it on the heel causing no injury. The owner of the fluffy dog is now guilty of a felony? Seriously?

Or, if a dog is off the owner's property, and at a daycare, veterinarian's office, or in training, bites another dog, the person responsible for supervising is personally responsible the way I read this. Even if it is another dog owned by the same person. Now it is legally an "aggressive dog".

Imagine this, two dogs fight in the home and there are injuries. That makes one or both dogs "aggressive dogs" the way I read this. ""Aggressive dog" means any dog that has bitten a person or domestic animal without provocation or that has a known history of attacking persons or domestic animals without provocation".

So, if that dog bites a person or another animal off the owner's property, then it is a felony. I think that you'd have to make sure your dog wasn't the one formally blamed for any unprovoked bite. I think this is a serious can of worms for rescue, vets, trainers, kennels, daycares, friends who house sit your dog, and those who go to off leash parks. I know it is supposed to deal with dogs that get loose but this defines a seriously low threshold for defining "attacking". If a dog scuffles with another dog, no bruises, lacerations, broken bones or internal injuries result. That dog is technically now forever an "aggressive dog" the way I read this.

I oppose criminalizing normal dog behavior. Adolescent dogs will go on power trips and fight other dogs, normally it is just a lot of noise and saliva. Owners need to work these issues through. But, if you criminalize dogs from being dogs, then they will isolate these dogs, or give them away to shelters. Isolated dogs then become dangerous dogs. Shelter dogs will become dead dogs. 

Dogs also do lots of posturing. Two dogs will stand side by side, stiff, sniffing butts, sometimes hair up along the back. One dog makes a wrong move and the dogs will get in a scuffle. Which dog caused the fight? Who is to say? 

Based on the definition in this law, every healthy wolf in a wolf pack would be considered vicious, because they scuffle to establish rank. Dogs do the same thing, regardless of size. 

The only way to deal with this is to define the severity of the attack, define what is considered provocation, define what is allowed when it comes to fighting, assess damages related to the severity of the attack, and then provide ways for people to remedy the situation in ways that won't pour more dogs into shelters or isolate them at home to brew into truly dangerous dogs. I think you also have to exempt dogs that are in a vet's office, training class, off leash park (people need to accept risk, not try to legislate it away), kennels, daycares, dog show / obedience events, and grooming facilities.

I'm making the point that anyone's dogs could be labeled as "aggressive". Let's say your dog gets in a fight at your home with a friend's dog that comes to visit. The friend takes her dog to the vet because it had a puncture wound on an ear. Vet says it is fine, gives the dog an antibiotic, and all is well. But a record is now on file about your dog. Technically your dog is now an "aggressive" dog. From that point, all it takes is one scuffle off the premises and then you can be accused of a felony. So, this first fight happened in the home, and you haven't had a chance to even write down your side of the story. So, the first threshold is crossed regarding this law. Now, the dog, 5 years later, is off your premises at the vets office, it slips away from the vet tech, and gets in a fight with a dog there. It results in a minor puncture wound on the other dog, but the owner of that dog is angry about it and complains to animal control. Now, the veterinarian is charged with a felony. Is that the format for a good dog law?

Here is Ian Dunbar's web page, just a sample article... or this...

Why didn't we have any public hearings? I see no evidence that vets, rescue groups, breeders, groomers, animal control officers, trainers, kennel operators, or the general public were invited in any meaningful way to give input.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

House Sitting

Never assume, if you are house sitting someone else's dog, that the dog will be fine without direct supervision. You don't know the dog well enough, it's habits, or even the hazards about your friend's home. If something looks unsafe, then it probably is a risk to the dog.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Not All Breeds Are Pets

Not all dog breeds are pet material. Many dog breeds are still being bred to perform services for man. They are specialists. If you get one of these breeds, you will be very unhappy unless you accept your dog's propensities and find appropriate outlets for your dog's temperament. This is where a good dog trainer can help you, from choosing the right breed for you, to helping you work with the dog you have successfully.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unfair Training Method?

I recently attended a dog event along with some other dog trainers. One was, what I call, an "electric collar" trainer. This person brought along a dog they had trained. It had the collar on, and the handler had the remote control in hand. I saw that every time the dog strayed more than a few feet from the handler, the dog got a zap. The dog looked very insecure, tail tucked. I've seen a lot of well trained dogs over the years. This wasn't, in my opinion, one of them. The obedience wasn't precise, and the dog looked distressed, and I believe the corrections were unfairly applied. I am not a fan of the method that dogs are forced to stay within a few feet of the handler otherwise they are given a shock. This is a popular method with a lot of electric collar trainers. I think it is garbage. Judge for yourself sometime. Watch truly obedient dogs at an AKC obedience or hunt test trial. Then watch a dog "trained" this other way. I'll let you make your own conclusion. You already know mine. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

New Dog Safety Blog

I have created a new Dog Safety blog. Go take a look. I'd like your feedback.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pet Store Training?

Are you considering hiring a pet store dog trainer, or an inexperienced Cesar Millan wannabe? Then you should read this article. I've seen a lot of new so-called dog trainers enter the marketplace over the past couple of years, and keep hearing horror stories.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

As I've Warned Before...

Some people go absolutely nuts in reaction to a barking dog. I don't get it, but I do accept it and warn dog owners to muffle their dogs barking as much as possible. This appears to me to be one of those cases...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Here's A Testimonial From Yesterday


Sunday, January 16, 2011

For All Those Unbelievers

It's become the fashionable thing these days to say there's no such thing as pack order with wolves. It's mostly promoted by folks that have an agenda. Fanatics always have an agenda of some sort. So, it was quite enlightening to read this article:
I lived with wolves'I ate what they ate, mostly raw deer and elk, which they would often bring back for me, or fruit and berries'

"when all the wolves were feeding, I ate the wrong piece of meat – there is a strict hierarchy of who eats what part of an animal – and one of the wolves leapt on me in seconds because of my mistake. He took my entire face in his mouth and started to squeeze hard"

Yes, there is a pack order. Don't believe the fanatics.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Dog Video
Check out my new dog training video. This was created for my new web page:

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What Is The Best Way To Get A Dog To Obey?
Good dog training is about your relationship with your dog, not the clickers, electric collars, treats, toys, or special methods you use.