Patchs and Neka Playing


This is a video of Patchs and Neka playing. It was taken in my back yard in June 2009. This kind of play session happened 2-3 time per day, everyday! And they both looked forward to some rough-housing to burn off their extra energy.

If you read my past few posts you will remember that Neka was a “basket case” when I got her. The Rescue I got her from told me that she was so anti-social that she would never be able to be around other dogs, and would have to be the “only” dog in the household. They also had concerns about her being around kids and men as she seamed to be very fearful.

This video was taken almost 22 months after I got Neka. By this time I had worked with her for hundreds of hours. Both alone and in controlled situations with people and with other dogs. She was pretty well over her fear issues and had been well socialized. She had learned that dogs and humans were her friends and she loved to play with other dogs and loved to be around people, especially little kids.

When this video was taken Patchs had been living with us for about 2 months and it was like they had been best buddies for ever. They bonded almost instantly! In the 3+ years they were together they only had one little issue and it was over a treat that fell on the floor. The whole thing lasted about 2 seconds because I was right there to stop it as it started! (Patchs started it).

Socializing dogs correctly is the key. With these two, it took me almost a full month of backyard playtimes to make sure that they were cool with each other in every situation before I agreed to bring Patchs into our home!

Socializing is not rocket science. It is just a matter of being aware of the dog’s personality and body language, and then being able to control situations before they get out of hand. This comes by bonding with the dog as soon as you can. Being able to stop play sessions like this one when I saw things starting to “heat up” kept them from playing to rough or going to far. A simple “Enough” followed by “Lay Down” given to each dog was like pushing the “restart” button.

I’d love to hear your thought! Please click the “Comment” button below!

Is Your Dog a Loaded Gun?

No, I’m not asking you if your dog is a killer! But if you aren’t COMPLETELY sure your dog is safe in any and all of the situations you put it in, you need to realize it and make sure you protect yourself and others from a potentially dangerous situation. And I’m not just talking about Dobermans, Pit bulls, German Shepherds and Rottweilers! I’m talking about ANY dog because all dogs can (and will) bite if they are put in a stressful situation that they are not prepared for.

In the best case scenario, all dogs should be widely socialized. They should be exposed to the same wide variety of experiences that we as humans are. A well socialized dog is happy and confident and can deal with anything it encounters without reacting adversely. That’s not to say that they won’t react … after all, when you hear a sudden load noise you may jump and become “startled” but you don’t hit someone or run away and hide! Right?

Being able to completely trust your dog is not something that happens overnight. It comes with time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time. Depending on the dog, it’s surroundings, it’s past, and the baggage it bring into your life it can take months and even years to completely trust a dog.

Dogs coming out of a shelter experience often bring baggage like shyness or fear. Some even need basic training like house training and basic obedience.

Puppies are experiencing EVERYTHING for the first time, so they need time to learn and mature before they can be completely trusted.

All dogs must learn to trust you before they will ever become trustworthy. They need to know that no harm will come to it.Working with them on a daily basis is the best way to build trust. If you’ve read much of my stuff you’ll remember that I call it “bonding”.  Once you have bonded with your dog it will trust you.

Working with your dog will open the lines of communication and you will be able to tell your dog the things you want it to know. Training and working with your dog is a life-long project. Just like children, they need daily guidance and learning never stops.

Like any student, your dog must be tested. In the dog world it is called “proofing”. A dog is not 100% trustworthy until it is tested and passes the test in “real world” situations. Just because your dog will stay seated in your kitchen when you open the door, doesn’t mean it can be trusted on the street when a bunch of little kids come running toward him screaming at the top of their lungs!

As a dog owner you are responsible for everything your dog does. You must know how it reacts to every situation. If you don’t you are walking a loaded gun. If you are walking a loaded gun you MUST keep it away from a situation that could make it “go off” …

As a “loaded gun” dog owner, you need to be aware of your dog’s changing moods and attitudes. Body language is the fastest and best way to do this. If your dog becomes tense, frightened or confused when you cross paths with a new dog or a person in the neighborhood you need to know it and you must be able to calm your dog or remove it from the situation before something happens.

Anything can set of a “loaded gun” dog. Some dogs react adversely to someone who moves quickly. Standing over them while trying to pat them on the head can also get you bit. Still other may try to protect themselves if someone tries to grab their tail or touch their paws. I’ve even seen a dog turn and bite someone that is standing behind them.

My suggestion is to do everything you can to get your dog used to every situation this life has to offer. Take them everywhere you can and spend as much time as you can with your family and friends and their dogs.

Personally, My goal with any new dog I get or work with is to have the dog meet one new person and one new dog every day for one year. It must work because I have never owned a dog with social issues and the ones that started with them, didn’t have them for very long!

Don’t Worry, My Dog is Friendly – Giving Other Dogs and Owners Their Space

While it is very true that not all dogs get along with each other, most actually do! After all, dogs are basically very social animals. But just like humans, there is always that possibility that there can be a conflict of personalities between dogs. It’s not necessarily a German Shepherd vs. Doberman thing, or even a Pit-bull vs. Pit-bull thing. It’s usually just a difference in energy levels, amount of socialization or a resource guarding issue.

Because of this it is the dog owner’s duty to make sure that their dog has proper leadership and is always under their complete control. It is also important that the owner doesn’t try to force a meeting if either of the dogs is not in a completely calm state of mind.

When less social dogs are in public they need to be given every possible chance to interact with other dogs and humans. This is a great way to desensitize them. But interaction should only be done in a controlled environment with the help of a trained professional. It’s not something that should be done in passing on a public sidewalk. This is how people and dogs get hurt!

As a responsible dog owner you must be able to read the signs and the body language of both, your dog and any approaching dog you cross paths with. If you see that your dog is getting over excited, distressed, or even aggressive you need to remove it from what ever is causing the problem. That means stop advancing, turn away, or make whatever correction it takes to calm the dog. You also need to let the other person know that something is wrong, and they need to stop too. It is NOT rude to do this. Most owners will actually appreciate it.

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard, “Oh, It’s OK … My Dog is REALLY a Very Friendly Dog!” To which I usually think to myself, “Sure it is …that’s why it’s barking, growling and trying to bite through his leash!” Frankly, this person is either: A). an owner that is in denial, B). doesn’t know any better or C). just lacks proper leadership skills. Unfortunately, it’s up to you to figure out which of the three it is.

When I’m out in public with my dog, or with a dog I’m working, I am relaxed and in the moment. And we usually have a great time on our walks. But I’m also very aware of what’s happening around me. I’m always scanning the area to see if there are any possible issues that I may need to address. With my dog, we are currently working on her pray drive. When she sees something move, she gets very excited and wants to give chase!  So you can imagine what she is like when we meet another dog! But she is learning that she has to remain calm or she doesn’t get to meet them.

Many loving families share their lives with dogs. Some choose (for a variety of reasons) not to socialize their dog with other dogs or humans. We should be very careful NOT to judge them for this. A lot of times, there are some good reasons for it. Here are a few for you to think about.

  • The dog is going through service dog training
  • The dog has injuries or a painful physical condition
  • The dog is intolerant toward other animals
  • The dog is recovering from surgery
  • The dog suffers from uncontrollable fear or an anxiety disorder
  • The dog is elderly and frail
  • The dog is owned by someone that want to be left alone
  • The dog is used as a personal protection animal
  • The owner is in a hurry and doesn’t have time to stop and talk

These dogs have every right to be out in public without having to interact with humans or other canines. When you come in contact with someone walking his or her dog, be sure to ask if it’s OK to interact. I do it all of the time, and no one has ever had a problem with it.

I have a lady in my neighborhood with an American Pit Bull Terrier that has had a very tough past. It is very aggressive toward other dogs, but is very sweet with humans. On occasion I find myself walking down the same section of street with them. We spoke in passing several months ago and she told me the story of her dog. So, now when I cross paths with her, I move to the far side of the street and make my dog sit as quietly as possible until they pass. This serves two purposes. She and her dog don’t feel pressured to interact, and her dog learns that not all dogs are out to get her. Over the past few months I’ve seen a marked improvement in the dog’s reaction to my dog.

It is very important that we give other dogs and owners some space. We need to learn that imposing ourselves on other dogs and owners is not always good for the dogs. Well meaning dog owners need to ask if it’s OK for them to meet, NOT insist on meeting them. It’s all about showing respect and realizing that we don’t always know what’s best. After all, we don’t always know the full story behind the other person and their dog.

To Old to Trick-or-Treat, To Young to Die!

Another Halloween has come and gone, and once again I have no candy left to eat! But it wasn’t always this way!

When I was a kid, I loved Halloween. It was great to go out after dark, run around the neighborhood (and beyond), and come home after a few hours of begging with a giant bag of assorted candies, gum and cookies. But, there were those parents who insisted on giving us something that was “good for us” like fruit or those little boxes of raisins. They’d say stuff like “raisins are natures candy” …So we’d say, does that mean that eggs are natures hand grenades? (j/k)

About dusk last evening Patchs and I decided to go for a walk to see if we could see any ghosts, goblins or gools running amuck in our neighborhood. Well, needless to say, it didn’t take long before we saw the first of many. It was truly frightening!!!

As we continued deeper into the darkness of the neighborhood, Patch’s level of excitement began to build to a fevered pitch. Just then a really scary ghost and a wicked looking witch called out, “Hi Patchs!!!  Well, Patchs went CrAZzy. Do you remember the movie, “The Hound of the Baskervilles?” … Well, OK, that wasn’t her! She was more of the “Tail Wagging the Dog” and “Happy Dance Dog” type of crazy! She was having a blast! There were kids everywhere!

As we continued to walk, we ran across several dogs too. Most of them we knew, but we also met a few new ones. With the owner’s permission, every dog we met got a special Halloween Treat from Patchs. It was a great sight, and everyone enjoyed it. Imagine the scene! Patchs and the neighbor dogs standing on the curb, hanging out and eating treats. Even the kids wanted to get in on it! I’m sure glad I had a big bag of dog treats in my jacket!

So what did you and your dog do for Halloween? Click Reply and tell us!

Common Sence Rules For Walking Your Dog

No matter whether you walk your dog yourself or you have someone else do it for you, there are a few basic rules you need to follow. Most of these are “Common Sence”  but sometimes it help to be reminded of them.

First things first. When you are in public with your dog, make sure that your dog is always on a leash. Most communities require and enforce leash laws. If your dog happens to injure some one, or causes damage to someone’s property, and your dog is not on a leash, you can and often will be held responsible.

Next, when walking your dog, you should always carry a baggie with you so that you can pick up any droppings your dog may leave behind. No matter how kind and loving you dog may be, he/she will never be able to grasp the concept behind the art of landscaping. Homeowners spend thousands of dollars each year in an effort to make their front lawns and landscaping look nice. It is rude and downright irresponsible of you if you allow your dog to urinate or defecate on their lawn, mailbox or in their landscaping. If there is any question in your mind, you may want to choose to walk your dog in the street.

Some neighborhoods have a designated area that can be used as a “break area” where it is acceptable to allow your dog to relieve itself. But remember, it is still inappropriate to allow your dog to do so, and then not pick up after it when it finishes. We’ve all seen those people who pull out a baggie when they see neighbors looking, only to stuff it back in their pocket once the “coast is clear,” and end up leaving the pile behind. Don’t be “one of those.” You just give all of us dog owners a bad name. 

Next, it is important to realize that not everyone is a dog lover. You should never assume that everyone you meet wants to pet your dog. If they want to meet you and your dog you’ll be able to tell it. As they approach you, if they want to interact, they will say something.

Some people are afraid of dogs. They also just might not be in the mood to visit with you and your dog. They may have a limited amount of time, or be out for a jog and prefer not to stop. Either way it should be their choice to greet or not greet. If they do want to stop, never allow your dog to pull you over to them. If your dog is excitable it may try to jump up on the person. Instead, keep your dog calm and make your dog sit while the person approaches.

The same thing goes for other dogs and dog walkers too. Most dog owners are interested in allowing their pet to socialize with other dogs, but some are not. But be sure to gauge their interest before approaching. And make sure you read the body language of both your dog and the other walker’s dog. Avoid contact if either dog shows any sign of fear, anxiety, animosity, or sends out any other warning signs.

That’s about it! The above rules of dog walking etiquette don’t just apply to your neighborhood. The also apply to local parks, shopping centers, the vet’s office or any other place you and your dog visit. Being a responsible pet owner can help keep our neighborhoods and recreational areas a fun place to hang out and it will also allow our local leaders to keep their focus on more important things.