Stupid Shit That Dog Owners Do

“Never underestimate the dangerousness of a dog’s natural reflexes”–Charles Eisenmann, Dog Educator, Littlest Hobo

Okay, after visiting numerous dog parks, observing at this point over 90 dogs here’s my list of Stupid Shit that Dog Owners Do. And yes, I’ve been guilty of some stupid dog owner moments, too. However, as responsible dog owners we should all be trying to do less stupid shit.

1)  Owners that let their male dogs pee all over the neighbours’ manicured gardens.

2) Owners that walk their on-leash exuberant dog face-first into a dog who is obviously heeling, downing or sitting without asking  permission. How do you know my dog is not a crazed psychopath who eats Flufflykins for lunch? You don’t.

Funny though, when I had Bouviers, nobody ever dared this, due to their reputation as killer guard dogs. With the Drama Prince looking all “Littlest Hobo” they seem to figure it’s okay.

I’m beginning to understand the Pit Bull Lurve. Nobody is walking their FurBaby face-first into a pit bull without asking.

3) Owners that allow their off-leash dogs outside of a dog park to come flying up to other dogs and people. When you tell them “CALL YOUR DOG” they then blame the person who is following the law by asking, “Is your dog aggressive?” WTF?! I can’t tell you how many dogs I had to threaten to kick away from my old arthritic dog over that nonsense.

At least when I am stupid *I* will apologize because *I* am at fault if it happens. I try not to let it happen but hey, I’m human, I slip up and I didn’t see you coming around the corner before I could call/retrieve the dog. But I’ll try not to be stupid about it. Honest.

3) Dog walkers with half a dozen dogs of which too many, go postal at dog parks. More on the stupidity of allowing multi-dog walkers at dog parks, later. It’s a whole other blog. I’ll link it here when it’s written.

4) Owners and dog walkers who have aggressive or badly behaved dogs hauling them around on leashes inside dog parks.. And you’re there with that dog, exactly, why?

5) Owners who feed my dog treats without permission. Owners that think one treat = half a pound of cookies that give my dog the runs.

6) Owners that don’t grab their dog and haul it off when it’s committing a bullying offence such as snarling, mounting, t-boning, toy guarding and gang-banging other dogs.

Some are on cell phones, notebooks or other gadgets while others sit on a bench and yell “Fido! Stop, Stop, Fido Don’t! Fido Come back!” [like the dog is listening] then shoot me dirty looks when a slow old lady with arthritis tackles their dog by the collar and yanks it off. Call out once, if the dog doesn’t obey get off your ass and remove your dog. Otherwise, learn to use a remote collar but DO SOMETHING.

7) Dog lovers who tell me my dog looks “sad” because he’s laying down doing a “head too” [head on his paws].

8) Dog owners that don’t pick up their dog shit. And yes, LITTLE dog shit is still dog shit.

9) Dog owners that bag their dog shit then leave toss the dog shit bag on the ground or worse, hang the bag on a tree branch because a garbage bin is more than three feet away.

10) Owners that tell their kid to wave their hand in a fist under my dog’s nose is the correct way to introduce themselves to a dog. {For the record, the correct way to meet a new dog is to stand slightly sideways, look/speak with the owner and ask if it’s okay to approach then let the dog sniff you. At this point a proper dog owner will usually “sit” or “down” the dog, then tell the kid when it’s okay to pet the dog.}

11) Owners that screech at their dogs or holler commands. And contrary to popular opinion, it’s not only women that think “louder” = more effective.

12) Owners who say, “Let the dogs sort it out.” Guess what–dogs often don’t “sort it out”. Many can’t sort out NOT to hump or play tackle a dog with dysplasia, or joint problems or who are not feeling well or who might be young, nervous or rambunctious. You know what pack animals who are not well-trained do to weak or unstable {and particularly “outsider”} animals? They KILL them. Watch National Geographic for a change, people.

13) Dog owners who tell me that my dog looks scared on the bus because his ears are back and his eyes are closed. I didn’t know scared dogs fell asleep. Thanks for the revelation, Dr. Dunbar’s Lost Assistant.

14) Owners that tell to use their training method is when I didn’t ask their opinion.  Even when their dog is a complete putz and can’t follow a basic command without being told three times, or is growling or leaping at MY dog.

Especially annoying if their dog is over three years of age and the owner is still walking around with a pocket full of soggy dog treats or clutching a toy like it’s the last life preserver on the Titanic. If the dog cannot behave in public without a whiff of liver snaps or waving a toy in its face past adulthood–it’s either in the first stages of training or someone is doing something wrong– no matter what training method is preferred. There’s a reason treats are not allowed in any trials of dog behaviour whether they’re therapy dogs or in the CKC ring.

Don’t believe me? Research sled dogs, protection dogs, guard dogs, Schutzhunds, guide dogs, sheep dogs, racing dogs, hunting dogs and practically any other working dog on the planet.

Sometimes they are successfully trained with food/toys/clickers but they’ll still perform admirably without them.

I just wanna see Fluffykins manage without bribery or correction before I take a stranger’s advice.

14) Owners using extenda-leashes. Most dangerous dog device evar. [http://news.consumerreports.org/safety/2009/03/retractable-leashes-pose-problems-for-people-and-their-pets.html] Just. Say. No.

*********

  • Dogs Observed: 10
  • Dogs Walking Nicely on Leash: 1
  • Dogs Heeling Off Leash: 0
  • Dogs Recall: 1
  • Good Companion: 0
  • Basic Obedience: 0
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The Great Dog Training Debates–An Open Letter To Dog Trainers

Dear Dog Trainers:

Please. Just. Shut. Up.

I don’t visit dog forums any more. They’re a quagmire of the worst in human bullying behaviour. I keep getting invited to Dogster and other boards because I  Eisenmann educated dogs and it’s a dying art, sadly. I’ve been on enough dog forums now to dread them. My blood pressure is low and I’d like to keep it that way.

Here’s the standard post:

Average Dog Owner: Fido jumps on people at the door. How do I make him stop?

Sensible Dog Owner: I taught mine the “place” command. I laid down a little piece of carpet and no matter what, he’s not allowed to leave it [Alternative version] I taught mine by putting a leash on him and making him sit quietly while I greet people. Practise. Be consistent.

Immediately after this, the entire post is swarmed by professed dog trainers [and it’s the intertubz, the owners have no idea how many of them are or have been, legitimate professionals] most shilling some brand of psychobabble while they one-up each other. Buried in there somewhere might be a whit of common sense.

It goes on, sometimes for hundreds of pages. Flame wars erupt.

Poor Average Owner is overloaded with conflicting information, guilt, shame, cookies, clickers, check chains, head halters, prong collars, remote collars vs. shock collars, operant conditioning, R+ vs. 4 quadrants of conditioning, balanced vs. purely positive, corrections, marker words, aggression vs. fear biting, superstitious behaviour, possible secondary behaviours, probable outcomes, distraction, proofing, redirecting, positive rewards, negative rewards, withholding rewards, pressure, pack leadership, dominant dog theory, reactivity, co-operative pack theories, scientific surveys conducted in sterile laboratories, junk science research, unsubstantiated observational research–YOU GET THE PICTURE?

After a few pages of this nonsense Sensible Dog Owner and Average Dog Owner leave the thread.

Here’s a revolutionary concept.

Just. Shut. Up.

First off, anyone so stupid they can’t teach a dog, with whatever method, how to lay down in one place or sit beside them, which is pretty basic stuff–isn’t likely to have a dog in the first place. A ten year old can figure this out and if they can’t I’m sure they can point their parents to a few YouTube videos. Short of pounding the stuffing out of Fido which most dog owners won’t do, chances are they can teach “place” or “sit”. They just needed to make the mental leap to get from “making Fido stop” to “what could Fido do instead?” and being consistent.

Average Dog Owner doesn’t care about your method, or your theory or your conflicting research studies.

They just want Fido to stop jumping on Grandma THIS WEEK and preferably TODAY. They’re not being lazy–just like everything else in life, results talk and bullshit walks.

It gets even worse if some poor owner says, “Fido bit the neighbour.”

Good thing the intertubz doesn’t depend on paper because there wouldn’t be a tree left on the planet from reams written about what to do because Fido chomped the guy next door.

Just. Shut. Up.

If you can’t write it on a post-it note, save it for dog theory discussion forums, not owners.

You know what I tell people on this one?

“This can likely be fixed. Find the closest place that trains police dogs. Call them. These trainers have vast experience with biting dogs and are familiar with the equipment to help. Meanwhile, whenever Fido is outside muzzle the dog and keep him on a leash at all times. Here’s a video link on how to fit and use a muzzle properly. If you can’t afford the rates or such a trainer’s not available let’s find you a suitable alternative.”

No matter what advice someone gives in this scenario, obvious problem is obvious.

If Fido bites again not only will Fido be homeless, so will Average Dog Owner and family from the resulting lawsuits. Never mind the fact that Fido is now a societal risk. Average Dog Owner at this point is scared. Solve the immediate problem. Alleviate the panic with something proactive and sensible they can do NOW. Average Dog Owner wants results. Average Dog Owner doesn’t care about your pet theory. Average Dog Owner just wants to save Fido’s life, keep everyone safe and not lose their house.

No matter what the ensuing dog trainer howling is about–a dog trainer with experience in fixing dog biting problems needs to look with a practised eye at THIS dog and THIS owner and THIS environment before Fido becomes a public menace and is euthanized.

I’m going to let dog trainers in on a little secret. For free. For the betterment of dogs everywhere.

According to my survey which is almost 90 average city dogs at this point, the vast majority of people are NOT training their dogs to be good canine citizens.

So while you all are arguing theory online, less than 10% of owners actually train their dogs to a basic level [walk nicely on lead, come when called, don’t snarl, bark, lunge or bite at other people/dogs] –-90% of your potential customer base are doing nothing productive regardless of your methodology.

I have to wonder how many of them are paralyzed with guilt because they read so much conflicting advice and so much nonsense about “that method will mess the dog up” that they’re terrified to try anything at all.

Average Dog Owner isn’t on the intertubz forum for days on end. They’re busy being dragged down the street by their dog. Just look out your front window.

So who are you selling to? Each other? People who are addicted to dog training? Only those owners who are now in the midst of a crisis with their out-of-control dogs?

Your time might be better spent convincing those 90% of dog owners that their dogs could contribute far more to their lives, their families’ lives and the general public if they were better behaved then telling them in plain English how  you can help them accomplish that goal.

NEWS FLASH:

  • Dog owners don’t want to be talked down to, patronized or academicized.
  • Dog owners don’t care about theory.
  • Dog owners don’t care about methodology.
  • Dog owners with a problem just want a solution. They want to be heard.

Dog Owners want reasonable results, for a reasonable price, in a reasonable amount of time.

Which is reasonable.

*****
Today’s Dog Survey
Dogs Observed: 7
Dogs Walking Nicely on Lead: 3
Walks Heeling Off Lead: 0
Recall: 0
Good Companions: 0
Basic Obedience: 0

Stuck on Stupid Alert–Dogs Do NOT Come Before the Common Good

Today’s big ‘Sob for the Dog Story’  [really, read the comments section–talk about “stuck on stupid”] is: NYPD Shoots Dog While Her Owner Has a Seizure

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/nypd-shoots-dog-while-her-owner-has-a-seizure.html#ixzz23ouFeKaw

*****

We all don’t want our dogs hurt. It’s a visceral reaction to blame the cops on this one–especially if we don’t like cops.

I love dogs to pieces. I even think that any time we can possibly give dogs a second chance if they have social unacceptable behaviours, they should have the opportunity to be corrected provided it is done so in a way that does not endanger the general public or family where the dog resides.

I feel incredible compassion for this owner who is going to  find out her dog has been shot and may die. I don’t dispute that it’s a traumatic event. However, I have no pity [pardon le pun] reserved for those who say the police did not do the right thing by shooting the dog in this case.

A dog on a public sidewalk lunging and growling is a public menace no matter what the reason is. For all those weeping and moaning that the police were wrong in this case–what if that dog, in a state of hyper-arousal had lunged off and attacked a toddler? Dogs are far faster than humans and can run 35+ mph. It takes less than a second for them to cross 30 feet of ground and attack.

THAT is the problem the police were faced with. They did not have time to mess around hoping for a happy outcome, play dog psychologist, beg Animal Control to show up with a dart or even the time to look in the trunk if they happened to have such an item on hand. They had to contain the area and control the dog.

Nor are they experts in canine behaviour and shouldn’t have to be unless they’re dog handlers.

It is the responsibility of the owner to control the dog 100% of the time even when not physically available. Does that get messed up sometimes? Yes. Especially in the first year of training. That doesn’t mean it’s the fault of anyone other than the dog owner.

Two things jump out at me here.The first is–this is not a service dog.It was not wearing a vest and barking to draw attention to the owner. The second is, sad as it may be, this owner did NOT adequately train this dog in what it should do [even lay down quietly] in case of a seizure. The dog cannot be expected to know what to do if there are strangers hovering over her or touching her because it’s a dog.

Maybe she didn’t get that far in the training, maybe she simply never saw it as something she needed to do. Who knows? I suspect she got this dog so it would protect her or at least look a bit fierce.  It is New York after all and she’s vulnerable.

According to the neighbours it was a friendly dog and more power to her for training it to be friendly. Unless a dog is protection trained to know when and how to do that and when to stop–the likely outcome is exactly what happened. If a dog is not protection trained, no owner should tolerate any protective behaviours from that dog.

This was an unfortunate incident for both dog owner and dog.

But there are no villains in this tale.

******

  • Dogs Observed: 7
  • Walk Nicely on Leash: 1
  • Heel Offleash: 2
  • Recall: 2
  • Good Companion: 1
  • Basic Obedience: 0

Why Pit Bull Lovers Piss Me Off

Not mean, just badly handled.

I fostered and trained dogs at a shelter 20-odd years ago when over 60%+ of the dogs there were pit bulls. Almost all were dumped there because the owners couldn’t handle their rambunctious behaviour. There were tons of dead pit bulls every year. We were up to our eyeballs in dead and miserable pit bulls.

The staff there continuously lied to potential adopters by calling them “Staffordshire Terriers” desperately trying to place them in permanent homes and clear out space for more dogs.

When you have to bullshit potential dog owners, something is seriously wrong.

You don’t have to bullshit a potential owner about a  hyper Labrador, a nervous spaniel, a stubborn rottweiler, a deaf dalmatian, a crazy Jack Russell, a wheezing pug or even a huge wolfhound. The future owners generally have a basic idea of what the dog is about and potential problems.

Last time I was at the same shelter, there was only one dog that might have been a pit bull mix.

How did that happen?

Breed specific legislation. It is no longer legal to breed or buy pit bulls.

If I hear one more time that it’s “discrimination” I will vomit on the person that says it.

Bollocks.

As a minority person, I find it doubly insulting.

Humans bred these dogs specifically to be handled by humans and kill other dogs. Stop telling me it’s only about how they’re trained. For over a century they have been bred as fighting and yard dogs. To control that urge–you have to overdrive it’s natural instincts. That’s just not feasible for the majority of dog owners.

Nobody would buy that bullshit for an instant about a Jack Russell terrier in pursuit of rat, or a Husky teaming up with another dog zooming around the park, a working cattle dog attempting to herd the children, a GSD in full prey drive chasing a squirrel or even my last old girl 1/2 border collie that herded hockey players from the arena to the parking lot. Does every dog of these breeds exhibit the instinctive behaviour? No. But enough of them do that we aren’t surprised when it happens.

We’d say, “That’s what humans bred them to do..”

So why should anyone buy the story that pit bulls, bred specifically to kill other dogs, are not dangerous?

Yes there are a few pit bull therapy dogs. There’s also buckets more Shelties doing the same job. And far fewer Shelties are dying in shelters.

Frankly, I’m not wowed by videos and photos of pit bulls slurping stranger’s faces and even less wowed by seeing videos of them jumping all over people and snuggling in laps.

That’s not acceptable social behaviour in any large dog and especially not in a huge, powerful molaser breed that can easily knock over children and older people. The fact that pit bull owners seem to think such behaviour is not only unacceptable but “loving” shows a serious misunderstanding of canine behaviour.

Anyone who has been following this blog knows that one of the two dogs I’ve seen out of 70+ dogs that might pass a basic obedience trial was off lead heeling, yes–a pit bull. However, as the survey shows–owners that dedicated are quite literally, TWO IN SEVENTY out of all breeds, never mind pit bulls.

Most of these same pit bull lovers were nowhere to be found in Ontario 10 years before BSL screaming for spaying and neutering and training lessons to get these dogs under control. As a group, pit bull lovers were not demanding that pit bulls  pass a basic “good canine test”  before being licensed because *gasp* that was “discrimination”. Nor were they taking home those 60% of abandoned pit bulls in the shelters.

They weren’t out demanding the breeders stop breeding them because 9/10 were being dumped. What were they doing? Buying new puppies and keeping the cash train for breeders rocketing down the tracks.

Dog Bites Dropped in 5 Years Due to BSL.

Yes, I’m well aware that GSD’s bite humans more often than pit bulls do.  There’s also a helluva lot more of them in circulation.  Out of seventy dogs I surveyed so far, at least ten percent of them were German Shepherds or GSD mixes. That’s not a lot of consolation to the elderly lady down the street whose beloved poodle was murdered by a pit bull. The amount of dogs attacked by other dogs when both are off leash is not generally not counted because both owners are considered at fault.

Yes, I’m well aware of the public perception of pit bulls and how overblown it is. The nonsense that it is some kind of “witch hunt” is just that–nonsense. It’s about dogs–the breeding of which humans control, not religious freedom.

Due to the BSL there are far fewer pit bulls euthanized due to spay and neuter and lack of availability.

Yes, people like Cesar Milan can do wonders with a pit bull. Most dog owners don’t have 1% of his experience. I have a neighbour with a beautifully behaved pit bull that he knows full well is not always stable with other dogs. He walks her wearing a muzzle in case anything goes south, such as the leash or collar breaking.

Even with a muzzle law in place–most fools are walking around with NO muzzles on their pit bulls. If they really cared about the dogs as a breed they’d be complying with that law. Why? To prove the majority of pit bull owners are serious about obeying the law when it comes to their pit bull.

So far, I haven’t seen any evidence that most comply with that basic law so why would I, or anyone else in the general public, take the majority of pit bull lovers, seriously? Cap it off, if it bites at all the pit bull is dead. If it is not muzzled it can be removed from the owner’s care. Yet the owners still don’t muzzle them. Yup that’s breed love alright.

For more on how pitbull lovers are destroying the breed, Terrierman made perfect sense in a number of articles.

If there was BSL over huskies tomorrow I’d be fighting it, but if it passed and all I had to do was muzzle the Drama Prince while I fought back, I’d be slapping a party hat on his face faster than you can say, “Iditarod.” And damn skippy I’d be confronting other husky owners who didn’t.

Greyhound lovers know full well they can never let their dog off lead in an unfenced area. I’ve never met one so cocky and stupid as to take the risk. Yet pit bull owners take similar risks by refusing to muzzle their dogs, far too often.

Please, just stop with the bullshit that “it’s not a breed”. Alaskan huskies are not a registered breed. They are considered such because they are bred to do a certain job aka run like maniacs. That MAKES them “a breed”–not some kennel club lookalike contest. They don’t all look quite the same. The same holds true for pit bulls.

Now I’m really going to piss off pit bull lovers.

I honestly want pit bull lovers to think about this.

My disgust at the reasons for supporting pit bulls is related to my disgust with breeders who breed dogs not for their ability to work–but how they look.

There is no reason to have a pit bull for a companion dog. None. There is nothing a pit bull can do that another breed or even a mutt cannot do just as well and sometimes better-except fight.

So the real reason people want pit bulls is for their looks.

It’s the same unjustifiable reason to breed or buy as it is for the genetically sick mutants bred by unscrupulous dog breeders that  breed dogs for looks rather than purpose.

BSL means there are fewer dead pit bulls. There are fewer pit bulls in Ontario shelters taking up space.

I don’t want to see the law repealed.

I don’t want to walk into a shelter a year or two after the repeal and see 60% of the cages used up by pit bulls knowing that for every one in there, at least five, died.

And knowing other dogs died because there was lack of space to take them in.

So if you claim to love pit bulls, explain to me logically how fewer dead dogs is a “bad thing”?

****

  • Dogs Observed: 5
  • Walking Nicely on Leash: 1
  • Heeling Off Leash: 0
  • Recall: 0
  • Good Companion: 0
  • Basic Obedience: 0

Are You Hiding Your Dog’s Light Under a Bushel?

Shining the Blues On Everybody

You think Fido is wonderful. He’s lively and cute. The whole world should love him and see his inner awesomeness, right?

Or, he had a pitiful rescue story and everyone should feel sympathy for your poor dog, right?

Wrong.

Are you hiding your dog’s light under a bushel?

Dogs are smart. They learn what you teach them. Even adult, freaked-out rescues.

When a dog jumps all over me, or interrupts our conversation, or barks insistently, or craps on your floor when I visit, or bangs me with toys, or we can’t walk and talk strolling down the street because Fido is dragging you, or snarling at my dog… children can’t pet him because he; nips, growls, snarls or jumps up and knocks them over, just where is his awesomeness then?

He’s either awesome or he’s not. Like people, first impressions, count.

Lots of dogs are cute. They can all pour on the big-sad-pound-puppy eyes, cross their paws, leap at the treat bag, sleep on the sofa, snore, chase their tails and make you laugh. They can all dance in exuberance.

Your dog is not special. Yet.

S/he’s not your furbaby or your furkid.  Respect its nature. Don’t use a dog to get your own childhood need for unconditional love, met.

Love is acceptance. Accept your dog for being a dog.  Love is in the actions you commit, not your feelings. Teach him to be the best dog s/he can be.

Have you ever seen  a whole bus load of people light up with smiles when they see a well-behaved dog trot on the bus? Or a group of children grin and giggle when they see a dog that is calm and gentle they can run up to pet?

A child shouldn’t need a PHD in dog behaviour to know how to approach a dog correctly. While it’s good to teach a child this, without it–a child who doesn’t know any better should always be safe with your dog.

I met a little boy with a ripped open face full of stitches. His neighbour’s GSD tore his face open less than a week before. The GSD had been left chained in the hot sun with no supervision. The boy felt sorry for the dog and wanted to fill it’s empty water bowl on a sweltering day. The kid knew the dog for years. He’d filled the water bowl before.

Trembling, the boy told me the story, and asked, “Can I pet your dog?” Now a half a dozen dogs were being walked around the park. Did he want to pet those dogs? No.

Some of them were little, less threatening-sized dogs.

I laid the Drama Prince down and the shaky boy started petting at the end with no teeth, eventually working his way to ear rubbing. It ended with some left paw/right paw handshakes with a sitting dog.

I thought “what a brave boy!” and told him so. Would that child have approached a leaping, bouncing dog that he worried the owner could not control?

That is “letting your dog’s light shine”. If you are a religious person, that would be the moment where your dog did “God’s work”.

What happens if you die, or become too  ill to care for your beloved dog? Is your dog trained enough that any dog lover in the neighbourhood might want your dog so s/he isn’t hauled off to the shelter? Can your big dog be walked by someone who is young or disabled or elderly? Could practically any dog lover home take him and be proud to have it?  Does your vet like to see your dog come in the door–or dread it?

Is your dog cute to the world at large or only cute to you?

The world is not forgiving of dogs who cannot behave with socially acceptable manners. Not everyone is shilling you dog products so they won’t make a fuss over the terrorist dog, Fluffykins. People and other dogs sense if your dog is unstable or untrained.

One thing I learned working with guard dogs is that all dogs are potential weapons. Even small dogs attacking a working dog can be costly in terms of veterinarian bills, liability, doctor bills and time off work.

Most people wouldn’t hesitate to take a firearms safety course or practise at  a gun club before firing a weapon. They keep the safety on around children. They don’t leave their loaded weapons lying around for children to find. Nobody is born knowing firearm safety.

Yet many people don’t have that attitude towards their dogs.

Training your dog brings out your dog’s light.

Training is not “mean” it won’t “change his personality” or any other such nonsense. It allows the whole world see the awesomeness that you see in your dog.

Your mission as a dog owner, if you choose to accept it–is to teach your dog to shine its light and improve the world.

************

  • Dogs Observed: 12
  • Dogs Walking Nicely on Leash: 0
  • Dogs off leash: 0
  • Dogs that Recall: 1
  • Dogs that could pass Good Companion: 0
  • Dogs that could pass a basic Obedience Trial: 0

All Dog Parks Are Not Created Equal

Cougar me Lady Labrador, Cougar me!

It’s more accurate to say that “Not All Dog Parks Are Frequented by Equally Responsible Owners.

So, I was off to meet a friend near Allen Gardens. Seemed like a good fit to take The Drama Prince to the dog park while we were there.

The first thing I noticed was unlike Greenwood, when I laid the DP between the gates to calm him he was not gang-banged before he even got inside the second gate. Obviously, the owners had taught their dogs not to rush the doors. YAY for the owners!

Due to his last dog park experience, DP was hesitant. He wandered alone for the first few minutes until Lady Labrador zoomed by. Then of course, he was in love.

There was a fountain that the dogs drank from and played in. That was a nice touch, too.

Another observation: That although there were many more dogs available, there was little bullying. Occasionally a dog humped and was scolded by its owner. Once I even hauled the Drama Prince off Lady Labrador. Good behaviour and much fun went on for hours until Big Black Dog with a haltie came in. Big Black Dog was young, and very large and again, one of those clueless owners who sits on a bench and does nothing.

I don’t understand those that say, “Let the dogs sort it out.” I hear that sort of thing often.

The last time a man said this,  I asked, “Have you ever broken up a real dog fight? Where one dog is fighting for its life and the other intent on killing it?”

The answer is invariably, “No.”

“Well I have. Humping then snarling are often the way they start which is why pushy behaviour can’t be allowed. Someone has to run the pack and it can’t be the dogs.”

I don’t get it.

Would the same people allow these behaviours if they had five dogs living in their house? Five big, honking, guard-type dogs? I have, with no major fights.

Another pet peeve today is those that, without asking–just let their dog come flying up to mine [leashed or not] while he’s on command. Then when I block their dog from touching him with my arm–they looked at me as if I just punched their beloved FuzzyBuckets in the face.

I had to tell one lady at a bus station of all places, to pull her dog back from crawling up the Drama Prince’s butt while he was laying on the platform. Did she really think it was a good idea for Fluffykins and a big sled dog wrestle and play chase on lead with elderly and disabled people standing all around?

Stupidity abounds.

I didn’t count good dogs at Allan Gardens because my eye was on the Drama Prince.

However I did run into a number of dogs at the park late at night. It was actually a red letter day for good dogs, there.

The Bouvier Sister’s owner took one puppy class with treats for his first Bouvier. With the Bouvier Sisters, he used Martingale collars as well as a sound remote collar to teach recall and to stop counter surfing. Both dogs walk well on lead and will stay with him off lead. Both come when called although only one could pass a Good Canine test. The other barks and guards him from other dogs and people in hats.

Today’s dog survey:
Total dogs Observed: 10
Walked Nicely On Leash: 4
Recall On Command: 4
Could Pass Good Companion Test: 2
Could Pass Basic Dog Obedience Trial: 0

Tell YOUR Dog To Stop Raping MY Dog

EEJIT ALERT–not the dog, the OWNER

Last night my friend and I decided to take The Drama Prince to a dog park. We went at dusk because we figured there would be fewer dogs so he could manage better in a smaller pack.

Although excited by the dogs running around, he learned to sit quietly inside the gates for a few minutes. On the other side of the gate was a Brindle dog that outweighed him by at least 10 lbs. The woman dragged her dog away from the gate. We opened it.

DP shot in the gate with wild abandon. Doggy Disney world! Whoo Hoo!

He wasn’t in the gate 30 seconds when Brindle leaped on his ass,  growling. The DP, being as fast as he is, shot out from underneath.

The Drama Prince did all he could to avoid Brindle but Brindle kept chasing and stalking him all around the dog park. At one point with the growling and humping as DP was squirming for freedom I lunged into the middle and pointed at the Brindle. “YOU! GET THE FUCK OFF MY DOG!” He did. The Brindle then came up to me wagging. I said, “sit”. He sat. I petted him.

If dogs were people I wonder if he would have said, “Thank Dog. Someone with a brain. I really hate being an asshole. Tell me how to stop.”

This, however did not stop Brindle from terrorizing the DP again, chasing him all over the park trying to rape him again. The only thing DP had going for him was speed and dexterity. It was a losing battle due to the confinement of the fences.

A small pug came in. The DP loves little dogs. He trotted over to play with Pug.

Brindle jumped him every time he tried to play with Pug. Now the DP was getting upset and his fun time in dog park was not turning out to be fun at all.

All I could think of is, “Why is this owner so stupid? Can she not see that growling and humping are dangerous, dominant behaviours that need to be stopped before her dog is put down and someone else’s dog is mutilated?”

At this point, Brindle grabbed to hump, the Drama Prince deked out from beneath, terrified. His bad leg skidded and he limped away.

Another dog, seeing he was injured–dashed over and body slammed Brindle onto his back. As far as the Big Dog was concerned, Brindle had been told off, end of story. Big Dog walked away. That’s what I call “a sensible dog” keeping the pack stable. However, Brindle ran forward to pick a fight with Big Dog. He kept trying to hump Big Dog who was having none of it.

I said to my friend, “This is a dog fight waiting to happen. Big Dog isn’t going to continue to put up with this and he’s going to have a go at Brindle, because Brindle is egging on a fight. We’re leaving.”

I guess Brindle’s owner heard this and finally went over and got Brindle. Obviously, he didn’t have a recall with other dogs as distractions. She leashed him up and left. Drama Prince played happily with the Pug and Big Dog went back to chasing his ball with the occasional spin around the park with The Drama Prince.

Now where this falls down for me is: why wasn’t that woman disciplining Brindle? Dogs don’t learn to be sensible on their own. The Drama Prince used to hump because he saw other dogs do it. I used to wade in and drag him off, even if the other dog was good-natured about it because there is only so long another dog will tolerate it before it descends into a dog fight.

On a happier note.

On the way to dinner I finally saw an obedience trained, perfectly ring heeling down a busy main street, off lead dog. He was wearing a check chain And yes, ladies and gents–it was a white pitbull!

I was so excited I yelled out, “Now there’s a man who should own a pitbull. In fact, he should own half a dozen of them!”

Beside him was another fellow walking a Mastiff on a prong that must have weighed in at 160lbs doing a perfect on-lead ring heel.

Wow, I was despairing of finding good dogs and there they were–right across from the chip shop, being awesome.

Unfortunately there was no way at that time to stop and talk to those fellows for an interview but I think we can safely assume that White Pitbull came on recall.

Dogs Observed: 8
Dogs Walking nicely on lead: 2
Dogs Walking Offlead: 2
Dogs With Recall: 2
Dogs Passing A Basic Good Canine: 3
Dogs Passing Basic Obedience: 2

Rainy Days and Dog Trainers

Image

It’s been raining for two days so there haven’t been many dogs about.

I met four Shelties that were clicker trained although the owner did use negatives such as “no”. None of them “heeled” decently although two did not pull.

One of them, the second it was asked to do a trick, barked. Then it barked incessantly while it did every other trick it knew. It barked while we conversed.  Apparently it passed as a “therapy dog”. Huh?

I must be missing something because to me, incessant barking is a quickly corrected behaviour and not acceptable unless you enjoy being evicted. Another one of the Shelties kept growling at the Drama Prince who was laying quietly between my feet.

If a few tricks were supposed to impress me with clicker/food training–it didn’t. I would have been far more impressed if all the dogs laid down quietly while we talked about the missing dog park that was supposed to be completed two months ago, and wasn’t.

I finally found a trainer to help tune me up for working with the Drama Prince. No, she does not use food. Yes, she will help me work with a prong collar properly. She costs about 1/4 of most clicker trainer’s price and she’s been in business 23 years charging the same price. Since dog training often works on word-of-mouth particularly 10-20 years ago, that’s  impressive.

She also has experience with remote collars so I can exercise the Drama Prince because he will be able to run his husky heart out and still come back when called. She’s affordable, even for those on ODSP if they save up for a bit. And guess what? Dorothy was an absolutely lovely woman on the phone. Warm, welcoming, understanding of both my needs and the dog’s needs.

Dorothy understood that when I got the Drama Prince, he could not sit for more than a few seconds without falling over due to a broken leg that couldn’t be fixed. I had to incrementally train him until he was fully healthy because he couldn’t physically do many things in the beginning and I couldn’t risk yanking him around and hurting him. That presented training and behavioural challenges. When I brought him home, I was expecting to have a permanently handicapped dog 20lbs lighter than he is today.

While I am delighted that he’s now 55lbs of powerhouse sled dog–it means I must adapt to his present needs and find ways to exercise and train my friendly fellow in new ways so we can have a good life together.

If you’re in Toronto and want a sensible dog trainer, Dorothy is available at:  http://www.motherknowsbest.ca/

I’ve spoken with a LOT of clicker trainers on forums. They may, or may not be good with dogs but most I’ve met certainly are not good with owners or those that demand that they prove their assertions against the test of thousands of years of dog training.

And who is training the dog? If you can’t get the owner to comply at least 80% of the time, of what use is the instruction? Trainers [unless the dog is boarding with training] are not training the dogs, they’re training the owners.

I have YET to see a “no adverseness” clicker trained dog that recalls regardless of distractions. I have asked every food training owner in the park that I’ve found for more than 8 months. They might say “yes he comes when called” followed by “most of the time”.  “Most of the time” means “when s/he feels like it” not “all the time“. When asked, “when does the dog not come?” it is invariably answered with some kind of distraction the dog cannot manage or they never let it off lead because it exhibits some kind of poor behaviour such as herding other dogs and gets beat up.

In fact, Jeff from Solid K9 threw out a challenge with his own money at one point, betting his dogs against dogs trained by non-aversion methods and nobody walked away with his cash. It was Jeff, with his video that convinced me that there was no point in getting my spine ripped out daily, that I could polish up the Drama Prince with a prong and I wouldn’t be hurting him rather than both of us getting hurt because he’s so excited by other dogs.

Clicker training works for tricks. I know, I tried it. Worked great. No question. It can work for teaching standard obedience in your back yard or house if you can juggle sticky meat treats, a clicker, a bouncing dog and a leash–all at the same time with superb timing.

Where it all fell to crap was when the DP wanted to play with other dogs. When a dog is so excited he ignores real liver and kidney [mind you all the other park dogs were prepared to follow me unto death–two months later they’re still sniffing me with hopeful looks] there’s no further you can increase the food ante in the face of interesting distractions.

In simple terms, it can work for teaching the dog something new. It does not work for most owners when good behaviour counts the most–in the midst of distractions in places such as dog parks and beaches.

And my question: “Why, compared with old-fashioned obedience where you trained your dog to down/sit/stay/heel/come/stand with distractions in six weeks–does it take so bloody long to distraction-proof the dog, if you can do it at all?

We have to ask ourselves, why are sled dogs never trained with food? Why are protection dogs trained with prongs and check chains? Why are hunting dogs trained with remote collars?

Obviously, you can’t throw a fish cookie into a pack of dogs racing like maniacs when you holler “GEE!”  A protection dog cannot be distracted by a steak or toy when there’s a gun pointed at a policeman. Hunting dogs must return when called and sometimes, they’re half a mile away and out of sight of the handler. Working dogs must learn to stand, sit, heel and lay down quietly with a bunch of other uncontrolled dogs around, humans, animals, noise etc.

I have to ask, “Why are we training working dogs differently than pets?”

When humans take a math course the teacher doesn’t differentiate between those taking the course that will become physicists and those taking the course that will become cashiers. The math doesn’t change.

So why are we treating companion dogs one way and working dogs, another?

***

  • Dogs Observed: 5
  • Dogs that did not pull on lead: 3
  • Dogs that recalled: 1 [and YAY it was a 4 year old RESCUE HUSKY! DOUBLE YAY!!]
  • Dogs that could pass a Good Canine Test: 1
    Dogs that could pass Basic Obedience: 0

“I’m On A Mission From Dog–Dog Survey Part II”


TODAY’S DOG SURVEY:

Total Dogs: 14


One Jack Russel, 4 years old was always walked off lead.  He was bought from a pet shop and lived two years with the owner’s parents. When her father died, she took the dog and began training it at 2 years of age.
Owners claimed it stayed close and came when called. However, when I let the Drama Prince off lead, the JR did not return when called. Nor did he later when the DP was on a quiet “down”.

I did interview the owners because it was one of the better Jack Russels I’ve seen around.
The female owner told me he was quite good after he’d had his daily exercise but hard to train before he’d been running his energy off. She said she trained him using Cesar Milan’s methods and had read “Jack Russels for Dummies” to learn about the breed. No training classes for any dogs in her life.
***

One was a service dog that did all basic obedience and balance work. The owner was a retired dog trainer that trained her own dog. I couldn’t stop her from giving advice long enough to ask her pertinent questions.

  • Dogs Observed 14
  • Dogs Not Pulling On Lead: 1
  • Dogs Walking Off Lead: 3
  • Dogs That Recall: 2


Good Companion Dogs
: {walk nicely on lead, recall, no aggression, basic dog manners such as no jumping up without permission, housebroken etc.}: 2
Basic Obedience Dogs: 1

Honestly? I’m finding much of the dog’s lack of basic socially acceptable behaviour disheartening. I’m at  39 dogs in two days and only 3 could pass a simple “Good Canine Test.”

When I’ve found 100 dogs I will post the resulting percentages.

In Search of Lassie

DAY ONE:

First Trip:
I saw seven dogs in the park and down at the ravine.

All but one of them pulled on lead.

I did have a momentary chuckle at a friendly English bulldog who threw himself on the ground fifteen yards away inviting play with the Drama Prince. It was only a few days ago when I was dealing with the same thing. The fellow’s other dog, a black Labrador mix, was not pulling on the lead.

I let the Drama Prince play off leash with a dog that was a golden colour with blue husky eyes. They had a blast racing around and leaping in the creek to swim. Her friend with the seemingly friendly pit-bull couldn’t let it off the harness, she stated due to “an inability to play nicely”.

As the golden dog and DP played, the pit-bull on its harness dragged the woman hither and yon. When play time was over the woman couldn’t get her golden dog back as she called “COME” over and over. Now the Drama Prince doesn’t have a consistent recall so I got within a few yards and said, “SIT”. He did. Then I told him to “DOWN” and he did, right in front of her [still playing “catch-me-if-you-can”] dog. Then I heeled him away.

She asked me how I did it. I told her the truth. I trained the dog to understand the commands, and when he couldn’t manage other dogs as distractions, I put a prong collar on.

She snorted in disgust at me then her dog dragged her home.

I am the Evil Dog Lady now, I guess.

******

THE NUMBERS: {if you’re easily bored you can skip this bit and drop down to the bottom results}

  • Dogs seen: 7
  • Dogs Walking Nearby Off Lead: 0
  • Dogs Not Pulling On Lead: 1
  • Dogs with Strong Recall: 0

Later that day:

  • Dogs Found: 12
  • Dogs Walking Nicely: 0

Evening:

  • Dogs Found: 6
  • Dogs Walking Off Leash: 2
  • Dogs Walking Nicely On Lead: 2/4
  • Dogs with Recall Under Distraction: 2

Here’s the story of the two off lead dogs.

OPA–Chocolate Labrador–10 years:
The owners got as 10 week puppy. The breeder had taught her to ring a bell and come when called.  From the start, Opa was offlead in the park, coming when called and friendly to other dogs. The owners took Opa to a Petsmart puppy class for pulling where they put a haltie on her head. Opa hated it. They switched her back to a flat collar after a month and she stopped pulling. Walks leashless within 1/4 block of owners. She waits on the corner while they put her leash on to cross the busy streets. Friendly to all dogs and people.

Kayla–Sheltie–12 Years:
Got as pup. Walks offleash everywhere with owner. No training classes. Comes when called. Owner took her off leash after first year. Snarls and snaps at dogs that get too close.

SUMMARY:

  • Dogs: 25
  • Dogs Not Pulling On Lead: 3
  • Dogs That Recall: 2
  • Training Classes Taken For Dogs Off lead: 1
    • Dogs that Could Pass as Good Citizens {Come on Command, Walk Nicely on Leash, No aggression}: 1
    • Dogs That Could Pass a Basic Obedience Test {Heel on and off lead, Down, Sit, Stay, Come}: 0

      Where have all the Good Dogs Gone? Long time passing…


      TODAY’S QUESTION:
      I’m going to ask dog owners their training methods when they are being dragged around.