As you saw from the Wordless Wednesday post, my parents were in town this week. It was a great visit! My step mom made my favorite carrot cake, which is without nuts and raisins. We went shopping in downtown Lawrence. We had a barbecue. And they celebrated my 40th birthday. So, needless to say, I did not have time to prep Saturday’s post. Please forgive me. Hopefully, these two new funny dog memes will make up for the lack of wordy content.
Archive for the ‘Dog Controversial Issues’ Category
I recently joined this great G+ discussion group for dog psychology. And I’m learning so much! Not only have I gotten ideas for how to work with Pierson’s dog aggression issues, but I’ve also gotten a great perspective from other dog people all around the world. A topic that was discussed recently was crate training.
When the topic was brought up, all the strongest advocates for crate training were from those living in the US. Many outside the US felt that using a pet crate was unnecessary. From their perspective, this tool for training is an American fad.
Why is crate training your dog so popular in the US but not elsewhere like in Europe where people there love and care for their pets just as much as we do? Someone in the G+ discussion mentioned Cesar Milan. We’ve heard from numerous famous dog trainers about how great it is and it has caught on like wildfire. We hear all the hype about how helpful it is for potty training. We hear about how much dogs enjoy the makeshift ‘den’. And we hear it is a great behavioral solution to keep dogs from chewing on their stuff when they go to work all day. And sometimes the message goes so far as to say there is nothing wrong with leaving a dog in a pet crate all day.
Some of these things can be true. But the pet crate is merely one of many tools you can use for dog training. How many people do you know use the dog kennel as the one and only training method and as a substitute for other training? Because people are busy, they leave the dog in the crate all day while they go to work and don’t do much obedience training at all. For example, instead of training a dog to chew on his own toys and not your stuff, some people simply put their dog in a crate. Instead of rewarding a dog for going potty outside, some people only potty train by leaving their dog in the crate. And instead of teaching a dog not to get on the furniture, the dog is left in the crate so that he can’t get on the furniture.
Crate training your dog can be a very helpful tool. But you have to train them outside of the crate too if you ever expect them to really learn to behave properly. Have your dog stay in the crate when you aren’t home, but train them when you are home. Teach them the boundaries, like not being allowed on furniture. Give them alternatives to chewing on your stuff. Teach them that going potty outdoors is the best behavior. And test them from time to time by leaving them out of the pet crate when you are gone for short periods to see what they do.
There may be times when you have no choice but to leave your dog in a crate all day. I’ve done it on accident when I spent longer away than intended and my pet sitter wasn’t available. If you work all day and you don’t work close enough to home to visit your dog on your lunch break, make arrangements with a pet sitter. While a dog may be comfortable in their pet crate, it can’t be good to leave them in there for 9 to 10 hours straight.
Maya was the first and only dog I have ever crate trained. It did have great benefits in that it helped me potty train her and helped to keep her from chewing up my stuff when I wasn’t home. But because I also trained her in other ways, she no longer has to be locked in her crate. She goes in there on her own when she feels like it. It still is her security ‘den’. But because I can trust her not to get on the furniture or get into things when I am not home, she doesn’t have to go into her dog kennel unless she wants to.
Trying to crate train Pierson ended in disaster. He tried so desperately to escape the pet crate that I believe the bloody nose he got the following morning was a result of that fierce desperation. So Pierson was trained without one and he is now just as well-behaved and trustworthy as Maya.
If you are crate training your dog or if you promote using the dog kennel for training, remember that other obedience training methods must be used in conjunction. Don’t use the pet carrier as a substitute for dog training. Getting a dog means taking responsibility and taking responsibility means taking the time to train your dog without taking shortcuts. Positive reinforcement training is a great bonding experience and a fantastic way to get a well-behaved dog that doesn’t have to stay in the crate if he doesn’t want to.
On my blog post about how I help in animal welfare, I mentioned that I would never purchase a dog. Why buy a dog when there are so many unwanted dogs in need of a home? But I want to make sure you all understand that I have nothing against anyone who chooses to purchase instead of adopt. Great dogs come from everywhere. My message isn’t that you should never buy a dog. My only hope is that if you do buy one, you know to research the breeder to make sure they are responsible breeders and not what is defined as a backyard breeder or puppy mill breeder. Trying to determine the responsibility of the breeder can be difficult, especially for someone who is buying a dog for the first time. For tips on what to look for in a dog breeder, check out this article from the Humane Society of the United States – Finding a Responsible Dog Breeder.
As I mentioned to Bunk the Pug in a comment on that blog post, even if you adopt a dog you have to do research. Some unsavory breeders have exploited the new trend to “adopt don’t shop” by passing themselves off as an animal rescue group. How can you tell the difference? One big way is by comparing the ‘adoption fee’ to the services your new pet is receiving. Are they spayed or neutered? Are they up to date on shots? If the dogs are puppies, then these things may not have happened yet. But a reputable animal rescue group will arrange these things for you at no additional cost. A real rescue group is not going to let you adopt a dog unless the pet is spayed or neutered or will soon be.
So, if you approach a ‘rescue group’ about adopting a dog and they are charging $300 or more but are not providing veterinary support of the pet’s vaccinations and other veterinary fees, then something might be wrong. An animal rescue group should not make a profit. And don’t let them fool you with, “Oh, we are just getting reimbursed for transport fees. This dog came from such-and-such place.” A real rescue group is run by volunteers who are likely not being reimbursed for transporting a dog from another location. Ask questions. Ask for proof of their non-profit status. Research them online.
I hope that clears up my stand on buying or adopting a dog. I love all dogs no matter where they come from. While I am proud to have had the opportunity to adopt and rescue two great dogs, it’s not their origins that make me proud. It them, their personalities, their silly antics, and all the other great things they do to make my life better.
I’m joining Rumpydog’s Animal Welfare Challenge today to talk about how my family supports animal welfare. We do it in a number of small ways:
The biggest way that we support animal welfare is by being selective about the kinds of foods and products we buy. For instance, we only buy cage-free humanely raised chicken and eggs. If we buy other meats such as beef or pork, we carefully select by the same method as with chicken. We don’t buy cow milk, we buy almond milk. Other dairies such as cottage cheese, sour cream, etc. are a little more difficult and very expensive to get as humanely raised so we limit this stuff as much as possible.
We are also careful about the hygiene products we buy, although I am not as well educated in this matter as others might be.
It is not as easy to find dog food made from humanely raised meat. When it is more readily available and not too expensive for us, we will definitely switch.
Another way I support animal welfare is by talking about my dogs. By talking about them, where I got them and how I raise them, I am indirectly educating people about the importance of proper pet care. I do it indirectly because people don’t like it when they are told that they are doing something that might be considered wrong (or not doing as well as they could). They are more apt to listen if they are presented with information in a positive way and nothing is more positive than talking about Maya and Pierson.
When I talk about Maya and Pierson, the main question that people ask is where I got them. Maya is a purebred so I think many people assume I got her from a breeder. And Pierson is so exotic-looking that some people think he is a designer breed. Whether Maya originally came from a breeder or not is unknown. I adopted her. Whether Pierson was an attempt at a designer dog or just an accidental farm dog is also unknown. I rescued him. I have never purchased a dog in my life unless you count adoption fees.
I also talk about how I care for Maya and Pierson. They eat healthy food, they are indoor dogs, and they are trained mostly using positive reinforcement. I also brush their teeth, clip their nails, and make sure they visit the vet annually and as needed. I also have them wear their tags and they are microchipped. Oh yeah, they are also spayed and neutered.
We also support animal welfare groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, and our local animal shelter. We will occasionally support smaller and more local groups, but as Rumpy pointed out it can sometimes be difficult to tell how much the smaller groups are really helping.
There are probably other ways that our family helps, but I can’t think of any more at the moment. Thank you, Rumpy for inviting us to this challenge. Have a wonderful Monday!
Celebrate Train Humane Day and Learn the Cons of Dog Shock Collars
(No shock collars or negative reinforcement methods were used in training my dog Pierson to jump through this hoop.)
If you’ve been reading my blogs you know that my dogs are very smart, especially Pierson. But I admit, I am terrible at training my dogs to walk properly on a leash. I’ve tried several humane techniques with my exuberant Lab Maya and some have worked to a point. She was doing fairly well until I got my dog Pierson. Pierson goes absolutely nuts when he sees another dog so Maya has taken up barking excitedly whenever she sees another dog. Now I have to walk them separately and train all over again.
I came across a great blog post that mentioned most issues with dogs can be alleviated with proper exercise. The logic is if your dog is getting enough exercise, they tend not do get overly excited. This make sense, but not for my Maya. When I commented as such on the blog, another commenter mentioned that it was because I wasn’t using the right techniques and that Maya’s issue could be resolved within a few days.
Really? I’ve tried several well-known techniques. What possible miracle technique could be out there that would cure my Maya’s issue in just a few days? Come to find out, this commenter was talking about shock collars. Personally, I don’t like this technique one bit. Oh, I can see how it would work in getting Maya to behave in such a short time. But here are the reasons I won’t use one:
1. It is cheating. I think far too many people use a shock collar as a shortcut to training. People who don’t know how to train a dog or who don’t want to take the time to properly train a dog use the shock collar shortcut. Now, I must admit that the person who recommended the shock collar only recommended it as a last resort since I have tried all other methods. If the decision to get a shock collar is because all other methods have failed and it is a danger if you can’t get your dog to walk properly on a leash, then perhaps I can see it. But it is not a danger for Maya. I can live with this issue and would rather continue to try to resolve it the humane way.
2. It takes the joy out of training. Maya is a sweet dog and she loves training time (mostly because she gets treats). I love training time too because I enjoy watching how enthusiastic she is about it. Training time is our bonding time. If I start shocking her in training, she will dread that time.
3. It tends to only work when the dog is wearing the collar. I’m going to admit another fault of mine. I grew up in the old school form of training. Most of my earlier dogs learned this way. It wasn’t until Maya was about a year old that I learned more humane methods. So for a few months in Maya’s early life, I used a pinch collar. It worked great. However, if I walked her without the collar, she was naughty all over again. If I couldn’t get her to walk properly on a leash without the pinch collar, then I wasn’t really training her.
4. It can turn a dog to aggressive or submissive. This does not happen in many cases, but it could happen. I’ve heard stories of dogs suddenly turning aggressive because of the shock collar. Perhaps the person using the collar didn’t use it properly or perhaps it was the dog. Every dog is different. A shock collar can also make a dog overly submissive. I can see this happening with my sweet Labrador. Maya is very sensitive. Yes, I’ve raised my voice at her a time or two. I’ve never raised my hand to her but when I yell she acts like I am going to beat her. Can you imagine how she would react if I shocked her? Poor Maya!
So what are the positive points of using a shock collar? Quicker results, easier, may be able to help if all other methods fail. But when I weigh the pros with the cons, I see a great imbalance. For me, reason #2 alone far outweighs everything else. If you don’t believe me, just check out some of my videos on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/naturebydawn/videos?flow=grid&view=0. I have quite a few videos of my dogs doing tricks and you can see how much they’re enjoying themselves. Do you think Pierson would be having as much fun jumping through that hoop if I had trained him with a shock collar? I think not.
If you’ve considered using a shock collar, please do your research and don’t be tempted with the quicker and easier results. Train Humane Day isn’t just about treating your pet humanely, it’s about learning the overwhelming benefits of not using harsh training methods. For more information on this special day, visit http://trainhumane.unitedcp.org/.
Check out the below article on wolfdogs. Some say wolfdogs can make a good companion, but not a good pet. Others say that trying to tame a wild animal is dangerous.
Click Wolfdogs as Companions to read more on this topic and share your thoughts.
A couple years ago we wrote an article called “More Fun than a Puppy under the Christmas Tree”. Before you give a dog as a gift to someone, please read this article by clicking the title or the photo above. A dog is a great gift but you really need to make sure it is exactly the dog they want so that the dog isn’t given up later. Click to read “More Fun than a Puppy under the Christmas Tree“.
With our serious overpopulation of dogs, you might be tempted to say that all dog breeding should stop. It should be against the law or it should be highly regulated. While I agree that dog breeding should be regulated and permitted only to responsible dog breeders, I don’t believe we should prohibit responsible dog breeders from breeding dogs. Here is why:
You are always going to have people who want purebred dogs. Sure, they could adopt a purebred dog. But if breeding dogs is outlawed where will those dogs come from? Most likely they will come from people who are breaking the law and breeding dogs anyway. Any dogs they don’t sell on the black market will be killed or left to die. Those left to die might find their way at shelter. So basically, outlawing dog breeding will not stop people from breeding dogs. It will only stop the responsible dog breeders who take the time and spend the money to produce quality dogs. All that will be left are inbred dogs with increasingly severe breed specific health issues.
If we want to help against the overpopulation of dogs, we need to focus on stopping the backyard breeders and puppy mills. The law may not be enough to help so we have to get the word out about responsible dog breeders. We need to encourage people who want to buy a purebred dog that buying from a responsible dog breeders is the best way to go. If people stop buying from backyard breeders and puppy mills, then their business will no longer be lucrative and they will have no incentive to keep breeding.
I for one will never buy a dog. I will always adopt. But that is me and my choice. I sincerely hope you make that same choice too, but if you want to buy a dog, remember to buy one from a responsible dog breeder.
Here is a great post about responsible dog breeders versus backyard breeders and puppy mills – http://wisconsinwatchdog.blogspot.com/2011/04/mythbusters-if-dog-breeders-stopped.html.
How many of you have had a dog who seemed to have a sense about certain people or were in tuned to your emotions? And he seemed to know these things without any obvious visual, audible, or odorous indications?
For example, my dog Smokey seemed to have a sense for bad people and would warn me of them accordingly. The first time was when we were at the vet. Smokey didn’t like the vet office, but he had never shown any aggression towards the staff. But one day, there was a particular man there behind the counter. He was a delivery man or something and was joking with one of the vet techs. It was obvious he belonged there. He was wearing ordinary clothes and there was nothing in his voice or body language which signaled anything to me. But Smokey didn’t like him for some reason. Smokey ever so gently raised himself up and put his paws on my chest, looked directly at this man, and gave a low but menacing growl. Smokey was obviously protecting me. He never jumps on me and I was startled by the gesture. What was it about this man that he didn’t like? I never found out but since it was such an unusual behavior I never questioned his opinion.
Another time some teens came to my door selling stuff. I lived in an apartment in an okay neighborhood so this sort of thing happened all the time. There was nothing unusual about people visiting and although Smokey was curious, he generally didn’t care. But then one of the teens asked me if they could use my restroom. It was an unusual request and my guard went up. Without thinking I said, “Sure, if you think the dog will let you come in.” The teen responded by talking to Smokey in a sweet voice and tentatively putting his hand out for Smokey to sniff. Smokey’s hackles went up and he growled menacingly with bared teeth. Well, that settled that! I was so proud of Smokey. I had put all my faith into Smokey and he came through with flying colors. Did he read me and my reaction to these teens who were asking to come into my home? Or did he read their intentions somehow?
Smokey is gone now, but now there is Sephi. Sephi was not good at reading people when she was younger, but in her older and more wiser age, she has shown signs of having a sixth sense. One time, a new maintenance guy came into my apartment when I wasn’t home in order to make some requested repairs. Apparently, as I found out later, the maintenance guy didn’t even know I had a dog until the repairs were done and he saw her laying on her doggy bed when he was on his way out. It surprised him because she never barked or never went to greet him or see what he was doing. It was like she didn’t even care he was there.
But in another instance she cared a great deal. I came home early from work because I was sick. In my foggy state of mind, I forgot to lock my door before I went to lie down in the back bedroom. Sometime during my half-sleep I heard my door open then a man’s voice. Sephi went nuts. I have never heard her bark so viciously in her life. I wouldn’t even call it a bark. It was more like a snarling madness. Whoever this man was, he left so quickly that I never saw even a glimpse of him.
Sephi saved me that day. How did she know to scare this man off but let the strange maintenance man in? Was it because the maintenance person knocked first? Was it because I was home and she was protecting me? Or was there something more?
On the lighter side, how does Sephi know when I am thinking of taking her for a walk or for a car ride? Before I even grab for the leash or her dog car seat belt, she somehow knows what I am thinking. Since I put on my shoes and go somewhere all the time, how is it that she is able to tell that this is the time that she gets to go? When I worked from home, it couldn’t have been the time of day because I had no set time. And car rides were even less frequent. But if I am seriously thinking about a walk or for going to the drive-through teller at the bank, she somehow knows and starts prancing around me, making her little happy doggy growls, and wagging her tail excitedly.
Dawn Kairns, author of “Maggie, the Dog Who Changed My Life“, seems to think that her dog Maggie had a sixth sense – That somehow, certain dogs are so in tuned with their owner that they can sense our thoughts, understand our intentions, and possibly influence our dreams. The dream part is a little bit of a stretch for me, but I have no doubts that Smokey and Sephi just “knew”. It could have been that certain people smelled different when they were up to no good. Or perhaps Smokey and Sephi observed a certain body language which I was unaware of. But whether it is a sixth sense or an ordinary sense, it is still amazing. And if my dog doesn’t like someone, I do not question it.
Do you think some dogs have a sixth sense? Have you ever had a dog do anything like what Smokey or Sephi had done?
Pet stores are full of doggie costumes this time of year – from Santa hats or reindeer antlers to holiday clothing. They are so cute and very tempting but is it a good idea? Will your dog hate it? Will it be uncomfortable? Are pet costumes safe? Before you purchase a holiday pet costume for your dog, consider these things first.
Consider Your Pet’s Temperament
Cassie absolutely loved to wear costumes. She would get so excited whenever I got one out for her. She loved the attention she would get when she wore them. But she only tolerated them if they were comfortable. Although Cassie loved dressing up, most dogs do not like it at all. Sephi loves to wear a scarf but anything else, she hates. And Maya hates both scarfs and clothes. It took time for Sephi and Maya to get used to their dog seat belt so it would take even more time getting them used to wearing dog clothes. A dog seat belt is necessary but clothing is not. So why subject them to it? I know it can be cute and even amusing. But if your dog hates it, it is not nice.
Consider Your Pet’s Comfort
If your dog likes wearing pet costumes, make sure to purchase something which fits well. Dog clothing should neither be too tight nor too loose. Sleeves should be placed well so that the clothing does not irritate under their legs. Straps should not pinch their skin or pull their hair. And their tails should be free to wag. It would also be nice if the clothing left places for your dog to go to the bathroom. (Cassie once pooped in a pair of doggie pants.)
Consider Your Pet’s Safety
For the most part, dog clothes are safe. Read the labels for any warnings and abide by them accordingly. Consider if your dog has allergies as the stuff used to clean and/or package the clothes may cause irritation. Make sure that your dog is always supervised when they are wearing their costumes. You wouldn’t want them to eat their costume or get tangled in it. And don’t allow your dogs to wear their costumes during vigorous play where injury is more likely with clothes which might get in the way of the fun.
(The photos above are of Sephi and Maya. Since they hated the antlers I bought for them, I put them on, took a quick photo, and never made them wear them again. They got lots of treats afterward.)
If your dog loves to wear costumes, send us a photo. We’d love to see them!