Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fearful owners = frightening dogs!

Yesterday a friend and I went horseback riding.

On the way back we met a man and a beautiful German Shepherd on the path, and the dog looked none too friendly. It's hard to describe his body language, but it was threatening. The man with him recognized that and reached for the dog's collar - whereupon the dog whirled around and snapped at him!

The man jumped back and made no further attempt to contain the dog, so I put my palm toward him and told him to stay back (in my sternest deepest voice) and then eased slowly past him. My friend did much the same and we got safely by.

I really wanted to go back after we put the horses away and suggest that the man and the dog should be at an obedience class - because if he's allowed to continue that behavior, he really might hurt someone. Maybe even his owner.

The dog definitely had the upper hand in that relationship, and had he decided to come after the horses, I don't think any commands from his owner would have made any difference at all.

It's a shame - he's a beautiful animal.

Yours for happy and safe canine companions,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tips on fostering dogs

Thanks to Jackie at Safe Haven Rescue for sending the following tips on fostering. I told her that I know many people (such as my husband) avoid becoming fosters because it's too hard to part with an animal you've grown to love - and after 4 or 5 you just can't keep more!

I also asked her to give us some advice about introducing new foster dogs into the family - because that's a second reason people give for not becoming fosters. They're afraid their resident dogs (or cats) would not cooperate.

Here's what Jackie had to say about it:

"As far as fostering, I know that if I keep all of them, I would not be able to help more. I have a 17 year old daughter and she was like your husband. I took her to adoptions and she could see who was looking to adopt. When she helped with the selection of who could have one of the animals, it seemed to help."

"Now the tough question. How to introduce the new animal. I usually keep them in a crate in the house or yard where the other critters can check them out without any threat. Then I take one of mine with the new one and let them get acquainted without all the others. If I leave all the others out, there is sometimes the "pack" mentality even though they are not mean. They just think "Hey we can all jump on the new guy"."

"As I said that is the tough part, but when I look at all the pleas for help, I know that I do more by fostering and then those eyes are more bearable. How unfair to all of those precious lives that they cannot live longer."

"If we could just REQURE spay/neuter, we would not have this problem."

I agree with Jackie - spay and neuter are the answer to creating a world with "No more homeless pets."

Here's to our 4-legged friends,

P.S. If you're a foster and have tips to share, please post a comment. If you're thinking of fostering and have questions, post them too!

P.P.S. The dog in the photo is Buddy Joe - a Priest River Animal Rescue dog who was simply left behind when his people decided to move away. He's young, healthy, and anxious to play.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wow! I got it back

I don't know how - but when I tried to go back in here to fix the sidebar I couldn't find the layout link. So I kept poking around, and suddenly - the stuff I lost the other night came back!

So I have your links again, but would still like the blurbs for my website, and would still love for everyone who hasn't sent their links to do so... You jut never know when being seen somewhere might get you a loyal new donor or volunteer!

Guess now I'll just go somewhere and smile a while... and give thanks to the computer gremlins who took pity on me.

The ultimate in dog obedience and training

This is not only beautiful and inspirational, but shows just what you can do with a smart dog and a ton of love and patient training.

Click here to see a fine display of doggie dancing...


P.S. Remember to send me your rescue links again!

Technology got me again! Dog rescue groups deleted...

Grrr... Tonight I tried to add this blog to my Do You Love Dogs website - and in so doing, lost all of the customization I had on the sidebar.

I'm going to go back through emails and comments to try to find everyone and their links, but if you don't see your rescue here within a day, PLEASE comment to this post with a short blurb about your rescue and the link to your website.

I didn't lose you on purpose - honest!

Oh - and if you hadn't gotten around to sending me your link, go ahead and do that too.

Darn! I know this is all good - I wouldn't be talking to you at all if not for the wonders of technology. But when it erases my work I sure get frustrated.

Tomorrow is another day...


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Training kids or dogs - not a lot of difference

I just finished reading an article about the epidemic of doctors prescribing behavior modifying drugs for children - babies, even.

The article went on to say that changes in diet would probably be more beneficial to the children than prescription drugs, which could cause irreparable harm to their bodies.

But then it mentioned something people don't talk about much - discipline. And I was struck by the similarities between raising a pleasant child and raising a pleasant canine companion.

Check out this advice:

Count to three and then place the child in “timeout.” (Our Pepper used to get put in the kennel for an hour after he tried to chase passing cars.)

Also, let your child know the rules, and what the consequences are for not following them. If your child fails to clean his room for example, let him know that he’ll be placed in timeout and won’t be able to play with his toys for the rest of the day.
(Can't quite link that one to dogs - but they do care a lot about approval and need to know immediately when their behavior is not what you expect from them. Consequences could just be being sent to go lay down in the corner.)

Even more important, follow through and be consistent with what you say you are going to do. By the same token, don’t forget to reward exceptionally good behaviors.
(This one definitely relates - being consistent with what is or is not acceptable is of absolute importance. And reward is a major motivator for dogs as well as children.)

Nurturing -- Paying attention to your child, giving him/her responsibilities, and building his self-esteem is another key to eliminating behavior problems.
(Giving your dog a job to do - be it retrieving a ball or helping to herd the cattle or jumping through a tire, or letting you know when a stranger approaches - is always a good thing. Everyone needs a job and feels good when they contribute!)

And of course - plenty of appropriate praise is always a key. Treats are good - but some dogs don't care about them and would rather you tossed a ball.

My Mom told me to raise my kids so that other people could also love them. I did, and they do. I try to raise my dogs the same way, and so far it's working. Everyone who comes to our house speaks first to my dogs -

Yours for happy canines!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obedience training comes first when you adopt an adolescent dog

Many dogs who come in to shelters as "lost" are adolescents - and I suspect that it's often more a case of abandonment than loss.

People get a cute, fuzzy little puppy and take it home to play with. But they ignore their responsibility to train that puppy - and it becomes an unruly adolescent. It might be a very nice dog - loving and wanting to please. But it has no idea what it should do to please. No one has ever given it any rules or let it know what kind of behavior is expected.

So, the dog jumps up on everyone, chews what shouldn't be chewed, digs in the trash, chases cars (or bicycles or chickens or cats), steals food from the kitchen counter, and generally makes a nuisance of itself.

Then, since the dog is no longer fun to have around, they drop it off at a shelter or simply drive out on some country road and kick it out of the car. After all, shelters often charge turn over fees, and dumping is free.

Later they wander past a grocery store, see kids giving away puppies, and start the cycle all over again.

Unfortunately, they also fail to spay or neuter, so the cycle of unwanted pets starts over again too. But that's the subject for a different post.

The bottom line for you as the adoptive parent of an adolescent dog is that you've got some serious training to do. And you'll have to begin at the beginning, because it's likely that your new dog doesn't even know that it should come when it's called.

We've been talking about calling your dog by his or her name and teaching it to pay attention when you speak that name. That's important when you've raised your dog from a pup - but it's difficult when you adopt an adolescent, because you don't even know what his or her name used to be. You'll have to be extra-careful to use that name often and praise your dog every time he responds.

Patience will be the name of the game, but your effort will be worth it. Your new dog will appreciate knowing the rules and being praised for following them - and you'll be blessed with the best friend a human could ever have.

Yours for happy pets,

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Walking with your obedient dog

Ever see people who are pretending to take their dogs for a walk, but who are really being pulled all over the place by the dog?

I even saw that in dog obedience class - and not just on the first day. I think those folks weren't doing their homework.

Happy walking begins with the initial work of getting your dog to pay attention to you. He should be watching where you're going instead of gawking at everything under the sun. And they do. I took an untrained rescue dog for a walk one day and she got distracted by a piece of "cotton" falling from a Cottonwood tree. She really wanted to chase it!

I don't remember if our instructor gave us specific words to use, but I always said "walk with me." And if Suzie started trying to pull me off the path, I gave her a sharp tug with the choke collar to get her attention. It didn't take long before she realized that "with me" meant with me.

A lot of people don't want to use those - thinking it's cruel. They aren't cruel at all - as long as the chain is long enough and it is worn properly so that the instant you stop the "jerk" it releases. When you and your dog are walking happily, the chain will hang loose below his neck.

If your dog persists on trying to pull you, simply stand on the lead and let him go to the end, where he'll give himself a jerk back to attention. Of course, if you're dealing with a dog who has been allowed to learn bad habits, you might have to give a few mighty tugs before he figures out that the rules have changed.

Another trick we learned to keep the dogs paying attention was to walk briskly and do a lot of turns. With the dog on the right they sometimes got drug around a left turn, and sometimes got their toes stepped on or their bodies bumped into on a right turn. They learned quickly to watch their humans to see where they'd go next.

Going for a walk should be fun for both you and your dog - and it can be if you take some time to teach proper dog obedience manners.

Yours for happy pets,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Skunks are on the move: Here's a recipe for odor remover

Friends are telling me stories of skunk encounters - and calling to ask what I use to get rid of that horrible smell!

Years ago we used tomato juice - had to keep several cans on hand, just in case. Now I have a remedy that works better and is much easier to rinse out!

Start with dishwashing soap - the recipe originally given to me called for Ivory, but others have said Dawn. I'm not sure the brand really matters. Pour 1/4 cup or so into your bucket, then add about the same amount of baking soda, and about a half cup of hydrogen peroxide. Add warm water about half way up the bucket, then start scrubbing.

Be careful around the eyes - this would sting!

Go first for the spot that got the brunt of the blast - it will make it easier for you to breathe and get the job done if you calm that down first. Using a rag or a sponge, lather the whole dog and work it into the hair. Then rinse thoroughly. If you want, you can go ahead and use some doggie shampoo to help remove the residue.

If you have anything but a faint lingering odor when you've finished, you missed a spot. By the time Rover is dry you probably won't notice the smell, but when he gets wet again you might be reminded of the fun you had.

I then recommend having a good heart-to-heart talk with that dog, explaining that those black and white "cats" are not good to play with. But... he probably won't listen. Dogs just have to investigate strangers in their yards.

If you're having a persistent problem, go rake up all the fallen fruit from your trees (and put where they can't get to it) and bring any dog food, etc. in the house at night. They aren't there with the intention of attacking your dogs - they're just looking for good-tasting tidbits.

Wishing you no need for this recipe!


Friday, September 5, 2008

Dog obedience training: A very important command

What do you think is the most important command you can teach your dog? I guess it would be hard to rate them, because things like come and stay and off (or down) make such a difference in how you get along with your dog.

But I think one of the most important is "Leave it." Teaching it takes a little bit of patience, and a little bit of "setting the stage." When you're interacting with your dog at home or when you have him on a leash, he isn't getting into too much mischief.

To teach this, have the dog on a leash so you can give a tug at the same time you give the command. Put something interesting where he'll be attracted to it. (This could happen naturally if you're out walking in the neighborhood.)

As soon as the dog starts to go toward the object (or other animal) give a tug and say "leave it." If you have to tug a bit harder to get his attention, do it. Then when he comes back to you, tell him "Good leave it" and praise him mightily. Give a treat, too.

It sure is nicer and more effective to be able to yell "leave it" and have your dog get out of the trash than to scream "Get the H... out of the garbage, you idiot!"

The other day I let my dogs out of the car at a neighbors and one immediately spotted the cat and headed that way. I said "Pepper, leave it." And he came right back to the car. Of course I felt just a little bit smug when my neighbor commented on how well my dog behaved.

Living with well-behaved canines really is a lot of fun. Now if I could just figure out a way to make the cat listen...

Yours for joy,

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Your dog and the law of attraction

Ever wonder why some people have a terrible time with their dogs, and others have a fine time?

I've decided that it has to do with the Law of Attraction. I've been reading the new book "Money & the Law of Attraction," and listening to the CD that comes with it, and I'm realizing that everything we do sets up a vibration that attracts more of the same.

So when we approach our dogs with confidence and a clear expectation that they will learn to behave as good family members, they do. Conversely, when we expect them to run the other way when we call them, potty on the carpet, and chew up our shoes, they do that.

Think about the people you know who treat their dogs with kindness and respect, while expecting good behavior. Then think about the people who are constantly screaming at their animals or hitting them.

See if you agree with my thought...

Yours for happy pet families,