Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Dear Santa, I want a PUPPY for Christmas!!

December 10, 2012

Are you adopting a puppy/dog (kitten/cat?) for Christmas?

Well it’s that time of year again. Our wonderful holiday season is in full swing. And Santa is getting requests from great kids everywhere for a puppy for Christmas. So here’s my thoughts from years of training and observation…

Party time!

I believe the biggest argument against bringing a new pet into the house is the amount of energy during the holidays. So let’s look at that first. We basically have three scenarios: 1) Tiny puppy, right now with his litter-mates and mom. 2) Dog at the pound. 3) Dog with a rescue group/in a foster home/etc.

In my mind, #3 is the most likely built for success. The dog is already in a home/loving situation and used to the hustle and bustle/energy of a home.

#2: Any dog that is in a pound of any kind is under stress- period. It is NOT a loving, stress-free environment. I know shelter workers don’t work there to get rich and have a great heart for pets in general and they do the best they can with limited budgets. But if you’ve ever been to the best pound/shelter, the stress of 36 dogs barking is NOT a loving environment.

And we don’t know where that dog was last week. Running in a field or allotment, hungry? Where the neighbors throwing stuff at the dog, yelling at it to go away? Then they’re taken to a pound with a concrete (cold) floor and walls… you get the picture. STRESS.

I always remind people that the dog they see at the pound is NOT the dog they’ll have in three weeks when the dog is more comfortable in their home- Could be better, could be worse. What is the dog’s medical condition? Were they EVER an inside dog and you want to make it one?

So, look carefully at the situation. Will bringing that dog into your house on Christmas morning be a recipe for success? I think not.

#1: A puppy bought from a breeder. So we go take the 8 week(?) old puppy from it’s warm, comfortable place by his mommy and bring him into your home on Christmas with shreeking children, loud video games and 1000 things that wold scare the fur off a well-adjusted dog. Again, not a good situation.

Serious Questions:

WHY are you getting a dog? Will your kids play with the new “toy (dog)” for 20 minutes until they open the X-Box /Wii/game console with the newest game and forget the dog? (Billy for the 10th time, take the dog out!! But mom, I’m almost at the next level!!) Have you had a dog before? Do you REALLY understand what you’re getting into? With the puppy, remember you’re also taking on potty-training (going into winter), chewing on most anything and more. Have you considered the extended costs of pet ownership? Kennel for in the home/toys/food/flea-tic meds/vet visits/bowls/etc. Have you considered shedding and the type of dog best for your family?

No perfect answer:

Please consider waiting until the blast of energy from the holidays is over. THEN bring your new pooch home. Contact a trainer like Perfectly Pawsible Dog Obedience to help that transition and know what to do. Perform research. Take your kids to a home where theirs games and dogs. What DO the pay attention to.

Best advise I can give you is to be conscious about what you’re doing! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Grant Holmes, Master Trainer (Like us @FaceBook/PerfectlyPawsible)

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Controlling “Gulping” food

October 30, 2012

I’m brilliant. There I said it.

Okay, not really so much. But here’s the story.
Murphy; A few years back I owned a pure-breed Golden that would eat 1-2 cups of food in under 20 seconds. I’m convinced he never tasted the food. I’ve referenced it here in the blog (and here’s a link to an article on my website about gulping food).

Talking to a dog food salesman (also referenced above), I learned more about dog digestion and how much gulping can affect their digestion in a negative way. To this point, I’d only experienced dogs that graze (keep food out ALL the time and occasionally they saunter over and eat very casually)m, and dogs that GULP (food in dish, and…. GONE! It’s a mad frenzy to eat immediately).

Then I adopted Axle. Axle is a GSD (German Shepherd Dog). I’m told by owners that GSD’s seldom gulp, but I’ve only owned two. Axle didn’t exactly gulp, and he kind of grazed. He could walk by his food bowl many times, even stop to sniff food that was there, but walk away. These are indicators of a grazer. But I did notice that at times, maybe after play or being outside a while, he’d come in and GULP to satisfy his appetite. Almost like he couldn’t stop himself.

Then later, I’d see the previous behavior, a more casual approach. We were feeding nearly 6 cups of food a day. I thought this was a bit high, but he is a big boy and was a little under-weight when I adopted him (now nearly a month ago). So I pulled out the old “stones in the bowl” trick (link above).

My dog is brilliant too…

I live very close to a river, so went out and got a couple nice rocks to use, came in and rinsed them well. Put his food in his dish, dropped the rocks on top. He released to the bowl, sniffed and looked up at me like, “You’re messing with me, aren’t you?” He nudged the rocks around a bit and nosed one out of the bowl. I asked him to sit and put the rock back in. I released him again. He looked down at the bowl, then back at me. The “Jack Benny dead-pan” look on his face was perfect- Like, “Really?” I just laughed.

So while I was smart, so was he…

Now he’s likely to pick up a rock, walk it to the Living Room and drop it there, go back and eat. Sometimes he also just drops rocks right by his bowl. It’s a fun challenge to have a dog as bright (brighter than??) as you are!

The Good News is

His food intake is down, his BM’s are better and he has slowed down. Now it’s man v. dog on the rock thing. As an aside, Murphy never once pulled the rocks out of the bowl. Personalities are interesting!

Dangerous Dogs

August 25, 2009

Many of the dog issues we see from day to day have to do with people assuming dogs have the same emotional structure we do.

They don’t.

We often see dogs that are given way too much credit for being “nice”, when in fact they have aggression or dominance issues. We see dogs that are labeled mean or aggressive when the owners just haven’t decided the dog needs ANY guidance or discipline or exercise.

So what is ‘acceptable’ behavior from a dog? I suppose you could make a distinction: What is ‘acceptable’ in your home if you and your pack are the ONLY ones ever affected by your dog; versus what is acceptable behavior towards others (dogs and humans!).

Few dogs live in a home only to ever see the owners. Most are out here and there, going on walks, going to the groomer, visiting the vet, etc. Therefore, I feel that acceptable behavior is that other dogs will not jump on me, will not focus on my privates, sticking their nose where I’d rather not have it. Essentially the dog should show ambivalence to others – or maybe: just good manners.

Most dogs are friendly and interested in people. We have a four year old Golden Retriever that HAS to meet people. He’s a recent adoption and is learning manners, but still wants to nuzzle, etc. We’re getting there. The challenge is that dogs that jump on people don’t know the physical difference between a healthy 14 year old, an 18 month old, or an 80 year old with one hip and two knee replacements. Where we can visually judge that a certain person is frail, the dog doesn’t know. So, a dog not jumping on people to me is non-negotiable.

But let’s talk about dogs that are dangerous. You could certainly argue that an 85 pound Labrador that jumps on people is dangerous! However, many people are afraid a dog will bite them. There was a recent article published in the Akron Beacon Journal about dogs attacking humans. This is an extreme case, but it’s something I remind every single client: At one point, 10,000 years ago or so, your dog was a wolf. The quicker we remember that, the more easily we can understand their emotions and communicate with them. It is a factor in their metabolism, the way they communicate, the way the form ‘friendships’, the reason they have to sniff and more.

What dogs are dangerous? Ones that are nervous, scared, incredibly hungry, in new situations, pregnant, under stress and more. That means when somebody says, “Sassy growls, shows her teeth, but she’s never bitten anyone!” In my mind, I add “yet”. I can’t imagine a scenario where my German Shepherd or Golden Retriever would bite someone, but I’ve seen dogs nip, bite and otherwise be very aggressive to the “hand that feeds them”. What might they do to someone they don’t know?!

So, how do you know? A given dog, in a given situation, is a 50/50 toss up. Certainly we can make educated guesses, but the most important point I need to stress here is that if you have children, remember to ASK the owner about approach. At least you’ve engaged them and involved them in decision making. In our profession, we often have to put ourselves ‘at risk’ in order to save a dog, but most people aren’t trained to do that. If you have small children that may like to color, feel free to download and print our coloring sheet that teaches kids “DOG” ABC’s ; Always Ask Before Cuddling!

Dog Safety Tips for You and Yours

July 31, 2009

There’s a gaggle of pages on the internet about dog safety for kids (If you know a group that would like a speaker to come and speak on dog safety, check this link). But we digress…

Nearly every day we have one or more of our dogs in public. Whether in a school, the dog supply store, walking the neighborhood and more, it constantly amazes me how many kids will just walk up to our dogs and reach out to pet them without any thought to getting bit! Let me correct that; it constantly amazes me how many PARENTS (or parents that just aren’t paying attention) allow their kids to just walk up to our dogs and reach out to pet them without any thought to getting bit!

When we’re out, we most often have our “branded” Perfectly Pawsible t-shirts on. Maybe parents see that and assume our dogs are “safe”, but you would think it would be worth their peace of mind to be sure! Sometimes we’re training our dogs on specific behaviors and don’t want our dogs bothered. I KNOW my dogs are safe. I KNOW I do everything to ensure that ANY child around us is safe. However, remembering that we’re talking about animals that used to be predator-wolves, should get our attention. So how can you help ensure the safety of your children around strange animals? How can you help ensure their safety around ‘known’ animals. Start with one simple rule;

Always, Ask Before Cuddling

Click here to download our ABC coloring page

Click to download our ABC coloring page

Hardly ever do you see a “Beware of dog” sign when it really matters (like on that cute little Chihuahua at the pet store)! And even though ‘that’ dog over there is safe, they don’t wear ‘safe’ signs either! So teach your kids when they see a dog (and cats can be nasty too!!!), ASK before they approach. Who do they ask? Well, you teach your kids NOT to speak to strangers, so continue that thought. Your kids should come to YOU and ask, “Mommy, can I pet that dog?” This gets you involved on an adult to (hopefully) adult level with whomever is handling the dog in question. Then YOU ask, “is it safe for my children to approach/pet your dog?” Then YOU decide.

This GUARANTEES nothing, but at least a responsible pet owner should say, “Buffy is a little ouchy today. Maybe next time.” Hey, dogs have bad days too! Maybe Buffy just had shots or surgery and is a tad nippy. This brings up our next point; Just like we react differently to different situations, so do dogs! Maybe “Spot” is normally a great, calm dog. But what you don’t know is that if his male owner isn’t around, he gets real possessive and may nip.

Next (actually first, but who’s keeping track besides my editor?) teach your kids to be kind and gentle to pets. My dogs’ tails are not handles, the ears are not there to be pulled on and they really like their fur where it is. Honest. Approach gently. Gentle is good! Gentle approach, gentle petting, gentle retreat.

Fear; This is not intended to teach your kids to fear dogs. In fact, it’s great that they don’t FEAR, but they RESPECT dogs. Introducing weak or fearful energy to a dog that’s already unsure of itself is a recipe for disaster. Remember, dogs are inherently a predator. They LOVE to chase stuff. Especially if it’s a stray that has been chasing to catch it’s only food. Beware. So teach your kids NOT to run from a dog, even though every instinct is telling them to.

This page is not intended to be the end-all authority on dog safety. It is intended to remind parents that it is their responsiblity to teach their children to respect animals. Remember, the younger your child is, the simpler the instructions; be gentle; and Always Ask Before Cuddling!

Kids & Pets this Weekend

July 3, 2009

Every July 4th more kids than you’d believe are hurt by fireworks.

This weekend, please also keep your dog’s safety in mind!! Especially if you have a dog that LOVES to retrieve, don’t be surprised if you toss a firecracker and your dogs wants to go get it!

Sigh. ‘Nuf said. Have a safe holiday weekend from Perfectly Pawsible!