Archive for the ‘Dog Controversial Issues’ Category

Service Animals – Where’s the Line?

February 22, 2016

I know I haven’t been blogging lately. I’m doing well, as are Maya and Pierson. I’ve just taken a step back for a while to work on other interests. I’m probably not going to get back into blogging, but you will see me once in a while.

I came across this interested article about service animals. I’m all about having a pet to help with stress. But how much stress does one need to experience in order for their animal to be considered a service animal? I think there are legitimate situations, such as those with PTSD. But some people really push the line. So much so, that it makes things difficult for those with legitimate service animals. And so much so that states are beginning to implement laws to make it tougher for pets to be labeled as service animals. This is a good thing for inhibiting all the impostors out there, but it makes things harder for people with legitimate needs. Check out this article for more – Service Animal Impostors Face Crackdown.

To me, it’s just a given that pets help us reduce stress. So even though Maya and Pierson are absolutely great at helping me deal with stress, I would never consider calling them service animals. If I did want to get then labeled as service animals, it would be surprisingly easy. Seriously. Not only are there ways to do it online for a small fee, I bet I could get my doctor to write me a note. If she won’t, I can just get another doctor! Simple.

What do you all think about this issue? Do you think service animals to help with stress should be defined broadly or narrowly? Do you think those who define it too broadly are impostors? Do you think impostors ruin it for everyone?

Just Because My Dog is Shy Doesn’t Mean He Was Mistreated

September 5, 2014
Pierson Rescue Dog

Pierson was nervous on his first day at his new home. He wasn’t quite sure yet what to think of me and my husband or Maya.

I was talking to someone about my dog Pierson the other day (when do I not talk about my dogs?), about how he was rescued and about how shy he can sometimes be around strangers. Their first reaction to his shyness was to say he had probably been mistreated by his prior family. My immediate response was to say this is not necessarily true and here’s why.

Pierson is wary and shy, but he is not fearful. He darts out of the way of a fast hand movement or if someone bends over him. But this is a natural reaction for many dogs. He doesn’t snap or growl in reaction. He simply takes a few steps back.

Dad Pierson Shake

Pierson was a bit shy around my dad at first. But he warmed up to him after a few treats.

Pierson is most likely part Border Collie and part Australian Shepherd. Both these breeds are very high alert dogs. They were bred to guard flocks and so they tend to be naturally wary of strange things, including strange people. Pierson tends to warm up to a person better if I or my husband is there and if the other person lets Pierson check them out first on his own terms.

I got Pierson when he was probably a year old so I have no idea how well he was socialized. He was very shy when we first got him. I have been doing my best to introduce him to new people and new things. And as such, he tends to warm up to new people much quicker than in the past. There are still occasions when he decides to be shy. Generally it is around small children since he doesn’t get the opportunity to be around children much.

Family Playing Hungry Hippos

Pierson looks on as my niece and nephew, my brother-in-law, and my husband play Hungry Hungry Hippos. He was wary of the little ones but not fearful. My sister has done a good job of teaching her kids how to approach dogs and to leave them alone if they don’t want to be bothered.

A dog very well could be shy due to mistreatment. If Pierson had been mistreated, however, I would expect his reaction to be a lot more severe. I’d expect tail tucking, ears going back, eyes dilating, growling, or cowering. He occasionally growls, but it is usually when a person tries to be too overly friendly with him. He’s not a Labrador. You can’t just go up to him and try to put your arms around him! (Actually one shouldn’t do this to any dog regardless of breed, but you get my point.)

I honestly don’t know whether Pierson had been purposely abandoned in the park I found him in or if he had wandered off from his family and found his own way to the park. I have no idea if he was loved or if he was unwanted. Either way, I very much doubt he was abused. For Pierson, I think the most likely explanation for his shyness is his breed mix. Lack of socialization is probably a factor too, but I think it is possible for certain dogs to have a shyness tendency regardless of proper socialization.

Do you have a shy dog? Why do you think he or she is shy? What do you tell people when they suggest your dog might have been mistreated?

The Fighting Truth About Pit Bulls

February 7, 2014
Cute Pit Bull

I Love a Pit Bull Smile

I’ve had a number of dogs of various breeds  in my life. One special dog was a Pit Bull/Mastiff named Squash (because of his orange color). His previous owners kept him in the back yard tied with a thick and short chain around the tree. When they moved, they just left him there. So my mom took him in. Squash understandably had a few issues due to his life tied around that tree, but with care and understanding he turned out to be a great family dog. I remember walking him as a girl and everyone being afraid of him. Some people couldn’t believe my mom would let me and my little sister be around such a big, strong, and mean-looking dog. But Squash would never hurt us. Because of his sweet nature, he was one of the most memorable dogs of my childhood.

pit bull terrier puppy

This isn’t a photo of Squash, but you get what I mean about the orange color.

With that being said, let me present to you this article about Pit Bulls. This is an article written by Randi Adams. Randi is a blog-from-home mother of three from California.

It’s easy to see golden retrievers adored as loving, family-oriented companions or chihuahuas as cute accessories that are dressed up and toted around. It’s called breed generalization, and pit bulls are victims of sweeping unfair generalizations such as “dangerous,” “a community menace” and “unpredictably aggressive.” Dog stereotypes and breed generations do originate though somewhere, somehow. Media attention that sensationalizes a tragic story involving a pit bull, or even the Michael Vick illegal dog fighting case disservice the breed that typically has a good nature.

The Fighting Truth

Pit bulls have been historically bred to be a fighting dog, and as a physically powerful, “high drive” breed, they have been traditionally trained to be an aggressive threat against other animals, as the ASPCA reveals. Because of the breed’s long history with fighting, the pit bull has a naturally strong propensity to react to other dogs. Pets for Patriots emphasizes that dog breeds of all kinds can exert aggressive behaviors, but a pit bull can end up inflicting more serious injuries and damage because of its size and strength.

Dog fighting was certainly more common one hundred years ago, and the American Pit Bull Terrier was bred to be a friendly and gentle dog, explains Pets for Patriots. At one time, the pit bull was one of the most popular dogs for American families. The pit bull image was even represented on World War One posters as a symbol for bravery and reliability.

Human Fault

ASPCA, the non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of animal cruelty, asks “why the bad rap?” First, pit bulls can be a macho status symbol because of their intimidating appearance. Breeders irresponsibly and carelessly breed pit bull puppies for people who excite over the pit bull’s tough image. Dog owners also have their fair share in perpetuating the pit bull reputation. Dog owners may encourage the negative pit bull archetype by raising their puppy to be aggressive and domineering.

Just like humans can reinforce the violent association of pit bulls by using their pet as a tough guy accessory, humans can also negate the fear of pit bulls. The ASPCA describes the breed as “one of the most delightful, intelligent and gentle dogs imaginable.” Like all dog breeds, the dog just needs to be well-bred, socialized and trained. Despite the pit bull’s connection to dog fighting, pit bulls make good dogs for therapy and search-and-rescue. A pit bull puppy can grow to be a well-mannered, beloved member of the family, loyal to their owners. It’s just the owners responsibility to provide consistent training, gentle guidance and good socialization with humans and other animals when the puppy is as young as seven weeks old. A pit bull also needs healthy living conditions, adequate exercise and room to roam. A pet door, for instance, can provide a dog with the independence for exerting excess energy, as PetSafe mentions.

Myths Debunked

Any pit bull lover and advocate will tell you the following:

  • Pit bulls have strong jaw muscles and a determined hold, but definitely not locking jaws.
  • A dog with aggressive behaviors toward other dogs is no more likely to be aggressive toward humans – pit bull or not.
  • Pit bulls are easygoing dogs, but shouldn’t be unsupervised around other animals.
  • Not all pit bulls are meant to socialize at the dog park. Pitt bulls are muscular and high-energy dogs that can get overwhelmed in a dog park environment.
  • Owners who spay or neuter their pit bull can improve their dog’s health and behavior, as well as prevent unwanted, homeless pit bulls. Learn more about spay-neuter surgeries and other frequently asked questions by visiting our Spay/Neuter FAQs page.

There it is, that’s the article. What do you all think? I agree with most of it, although I’m not too sure about some of those myths. How many of you have Pit Bulls who do just fine around other animals? What about the dog park situation? Thanks for weighing in.

Scoop That Poop at the Dog Park

January 20, 2014

Scoop That Poop Logo

We’ve had unusual weather here lately, as I imagine most of you have as well. One day it is below zero and the next it is light jacket weather. Well, I took full advantage of one of those nicer days by taking Maya to the dog park. We hadn’t been since before the holiday, so it was nice to be able to go again. Most of our visit was nice, anyway…

I don’t understand why so many people still don’t pick up after their dog, despite all the signs and the free dog poop bags! I guess they see that one person was too lazy to pick up after their dog and so they assume it is okay they don’t either.

It’s not okay. I feel that in a dog park, it is even less okay. After all, some dogs visiting the park might be carrying harmful bacteria, a virus, or they might have worms. Yuck! :p I don’t want Maya to get sick. Nor do I want her to accidentally step in some and track it in my car. She could also bring it home to Pierson.

"Don't be a turd. Scoop that poop."

“Don’t be a turd. Scoop that poop.”

I have to admit our dog park is not as bad as it used to be. When I first moved to this town, the park didn’t have any signs or any dog poop bags. So someone is making an effort. I also believe volunteers come by from time to time to scoop. Perhaps I should get on that volunteer list. Or I could just go out there and do it. I have a great poop scooper called Scoopy the Poo.

Scoopy-the-Poo Dog Poop Scooper

I have this except in red.

Do you think people who see me scoop that poop will realize perhaps they should pick up after their dog? Or do you think they will figure that since someone else will scoop it, they don’t have to? I have a feeling many people will think the later. Perhaps I need to wear a vest saying, “VOLUNTEER”. What do you all think?

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A Short Post for a Long Busy Week

August 3, 2013

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.

My Dog Pierson is a Poo Poo Head

Do you call your dog funny names? Calling Pierson a poo poo head when he is naughty seems to diffuse situations that would otherwise be stressful. How can I get angry if I am saying silly things like ‘poo poo head’?

Dog Maya Says Working Too Hard

Maya does this when I work to long and and she wants to play or go outside for potty.

Crate Training Your Dog is not a Substitute for Dog Training

March 9, 2013
Maya in her pet crate

Maya no longer has to go in her pet crate, but she does so because she wants to.

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.

To Buy or Adopt a Dog – Things You Need to Know

February 16, 2013
This black beauty was up for adoption at the Suds of Fun event in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. The other puppy just had a bath at this event, proceeds went to help homeless pets.

This black beauty was up for adoption at the Suds of Fun event in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. The other puppy just had a bath at this event, proceeds went to help homeless pets.

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.

How Do We Support Animal Welfare?

January 28, 2013

Rumpy's Challenge

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!

Dog Shock Collars v. Train Humane Day

September 27, 2012

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 – 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

Do Wolfdogs Make Good Pets?

December 31, 2011

Keona is a Wolfdog Companion

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.