Please Show Some Restraint

 

The other day I was driving down our local boulevard at rush hour and I spotted a driver who had a Cocker Spaniel sitting on his lap and looking out the window.  This was the driver not the passenger.  I remember many years ago talking to a client in the vet office where I worked who had two small poodles.  He said that his dogs used to ride unrestrained until someone he loved approached him and said would you let your children ride unrestrained in the car?  At first he said he was horrified at this statement and then once he thought about it, made perfect sense.  He told me he loved his dogs and he always gives them the best of everything from grooming, to vet care, to food and he was letting them down.  So from then on his dogs always rode in the backseat, in carriers, buckled in.

Unrestrained dogs are a distraction while driving and can be even more of a distraction then cell phones.  Unrestrained pets cause more than 30,000 accidents per year according to Paws to Click.  Unrestrained dogs are not only a distraction but become projectiles if you have to stop suddenly.  This means your dog can not only fly through the windshield but could also fly into a passenger in the front of your car causing injury or death.  I know dogs love hanging their heads out the window, (I saw a horse hanging its head out a window the other day on the freeway, but we will save that for another blog). but our kids would love to ride on the top of the car or be a hood ornament.  But we vow to keep them safe and don’t let them.  Please also keep your dogs safe by investing in a dog seatbelt.  Contact your local pet store today and lets reduce the number of pet related car accidents per year.

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Hugs Free Love

Lip Lick indicating stress

Communicating Stress by Lip Licking

I was given the following scenario a few days ago. “We have a poodle mix rescue dog. We have had her for 3 years now. She has always been a little skittish but overall a sweetheart. She bit my daughter on the lip tonight; didn’t break skin; more of a nip. My daughter had her wrapped in her fave blanket and went to kiss her, as she always does, and the dog nipped her on the face. Help! She sleeps with My daughter and always allows snuggles, kisses etc….
What should we do? ”

This is not the first time this scenario has been presented to me.  Unfortunately it happens a lot.  One of the main reasons is because humans speak human not dog.  Unless you are in this field and have studied dog body language you miss the warning signals that your dog gives off. Very few bites come without these warning signals but since  humans don’t speak dog unless they have been trained to see these warning signs they will miss them and then a bite occurs because the dog feels that we are not listening.

My response to the above dilemma is the same response I teach in the “Be a Tree” program for kids (FREE presentations for non-profits- see my website for more information).  Do not hug your dog.  It is true some dogs do just fine with this but again unless you have studied canine body language you may be unaware whether your dog is tolerating the hug or enjoying the hug. Some signals that you dog is not enjoying this interaction may include but are not limited to: lip licking, yawning, shaking as if wet, half moon eye, and the list goes on.  This is your dog’s way of communicating with you that they are stressed, if these signs are missed as they often are the next step may be a nip or even worse a full bite.  Unfortunately, many of these bites wind up being to the face.  Then you often hear but he gave no warning.  But he did, and as humans we don’t speak dog so we missed it.  The best way to keep everyone safe is to teach your kids not to hug and kiss dogs.  Pet them, throw the ball for them, sit next to them and read to them (I love this, many libraries offer a read to the dog program).  But don’t hug them.  A few dogs enjoy this affection but most do not.  Hugging is a human emotion, dogs don’t hug one another.  They get close, heck my pup who has not learned his boundaries yet even steps on the other dogs and lies down on top of them.  They give him all the signals but we are convinced he speaks cat instead of dog but that is for another blog.  Bottom line to keep everyone safe enjoy petting your dogs, you can blow them kisses but keep human hugs and kisses out of your dogs world for everyone’s safety.

If  you know of a non-profit who would like to offer a dog bite prevention program for kids ages 6-12 FREE of charge please contact me today at (909) 709-9338.

Couch Dogs

 

I recently had a caller who called to inquire about my classes and training philosophy.  He had spoken to another trainer and was told that he was doing everything wrong and that his puppy was going to grow up to dominate him and his home.  He informed me that he allows his puppy to sleep in his bed and be on the couch and had been told this was wrong, dogs belong on the floor.  So I told him my philosophy and I will share that philosophy with you.

My business motto is “Where Pets are Family”.  I believe that if you make a commitment to bring an animal into your home that, that creature deserves to be part of your family.  If that means you want your new family member on the couch, so be it.  If that means you want them on a dog bed on the floor, so be it.  This is your home and you get to decide what occurs in your home.  If you allow your puppy to sleep with you and sit on the couch will they become dominant and control you?  Absolutely not!  Could they growl at you when you sit on the couch? In some cases yes.  Is it because they are trying to be dominant over you? No.  If your dog growls at you and you move off the couch or bed you dog has learned that this works.  So they will do it again simply because it works.  This is the same reason your dog barks at the people walking by your home, because they keep walking and the dog thinks that barking made them leave.  Dogs do what works.  They are not looking to control you.  My simple solution for avoiding the growl in the first place is to let your dog know when you want them up with you and when you do not.  Because lets face it not all guests like a 100lb dog sitting in their lap on the couch.  So you invite them up and you tell them when to get down.  In this way you are setting the boundaries and letting your dog know what works.  My family members 2 legged and 4 legged enjoy the freedoms of living in our home but when I say “off” my pups respond immediately and therefore our guests do not have to sit  face to face with a Coon Hound, Shep/Husky or a Husky in their lap.

Enjoy your four legged family members, their time here is so brief.  Remember they don’t want to dominate you, but they will always do what works so it is up to you to create rules and boundaries that everyone can live with.

Kids, Dogs & Family

In my free time when I am not spending time with my family I volunteer my time with local rescue groups.  Lately I have received a lot of calls and photos in my email box from people who want to turn over their dog to a rescue or the shelter because they tell me they just don’t have time for their dog with the new baby in the house.  Many times these cases are kid friendly dogs, no aggression issues, the owners just don’t feel they have time to take care of the dog and the baby.  Also, many times these are older dogs, 5 years and above who by definition are usually not adoptable and not because of the dog because these are great dogs but because people are often looking for puppies and the older dogs get overlooked and are often the dogs that do not make it out of the shelter alive.

I am a mom and a business owner and I have 3 dogs and 3 cats.  My youngest daughter is 8 months old and my oldest daughter is 8 years old.  We got Yukon a year and a half husky/shep mix from rescue when my youngest daughter was 3 months old.  At this time we were still in the blur of sleepless nights, zombie days and not ever enough time in the day.  Yukon is a pup and even with two other dogs to play with he does puppy things.  Everything is edible, so along with child proofing so began the puppy proofing.  Bottom line, is I can relate, I understand, having dogs and babies is hard work but if you can stick with it in the long run I think that it is the best thing for your entire family both kids, adults and dogs.  So how can you make it work?  Why is it a good thing to try?  Read on to find out.

If you have not gotten a dog yet but are considering it please give me a call and I can help find a dog that fits with your family.  Notice I did not say the perfect dog, because no dog is perfect and every dog is an individual so just because you had a golden retriever growing up that was the best dog ever that does not mean that every golden will be like your first one. Also, every breed has different needs and we need to match those with your family to ensure that everyone is happy.  If you already have a dog and a baby and feel like the dog just has to go please give me a call.  I think sometimes we think we have to be superheroes in this fast paced world and do it all.  We have to get up with the baby in the middle of the night 3, 4, 10 times, pass the couch that the dog has eaten at midnight, walk around like a zombie, go to work, come home, fix dinner, oh and walk the dog.  The first few months with baby are HARD, very HARD.  I understand I’ve been there twice.  I’ve been there with dogs and cats.  I’ve been there alone and with help.  But it can be done.  Will you do a perfect job? No  Will your dog upset you by eating your favorite shoe because he/she did not get his walk? Probably.  Does that feel like the end of the world?  Absolutely.  Is it the end of the world? No.  There are so many ways  to mentally stimulate your dog when you just can’t get that walk in no matter how hard you try.  Mental stimulation is often times overlooked by owners who have been ingrained with the idea from the media that you must walk your dog.  Yes, walks are excellent and highly encouraged but not always possible.  So mental stimulation is the answer.  There are puzzle toys, games you can play with your dog and all of these options take just minutes but yet can keep your dog from being destructive.  Also, we kid proof and we also need to remember to puppy proof.  Your dog does not know better and if you are busy your dog will find something to do and it may not be to your liking.  So puppy proof everything.  This is for your sanity and peace of mind.  It is also for your dogs safety.  And baby gates those are not just for babies, don’t underestimate their power for protecting your stuff.  Play gates are great for protecting hoses and trees.  So many options, so please if you feel you just can’t take care of baby and dog give me a call today and I can help keep your entire family intact and everyone at peace.

So why should we get through this?  Kids and dogs are the best.  My daughter spends hours just brushing and talking to our dogs.  They are her comfort when the world is too much.  My husband also had a dog as a kid named Einstein and some of his best childhood memories are wrapped up with memories of him and his dog.  He spent hours talking to his dog and playing with his dog.  I grew up with Sammy a German Shepherd, Cal a Golden Retriever and Gypsy and Border Collie.  But Sammy was my dog and I also spent housr with Sammy.  He followed me everywhere and he is what inspired my love of trail running, just me and my dog and gorgeous Bogart Park.  Every child should have a dog.  This world is so stressful and places so many demands on our little ones so early that dogs ease our children into this world.  Your child will long remember their days with the dog so if you can just get through the terrible twos both dog and child you will be creating some wonderful memories and a love of animals for your child.  These are two of the most important things you can give to them.

Final note if your dog is aggressive with your child please contact me immediately.  Sometimes we can work through these issues but sometimes we need to find the dog a different home.  Your child’s safety comes first.  I also offer bite prevention training for kids, if you would like to host a seminar for children ages 7-12 please call me today.

“A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” …..Robert Benchley