Tips To Being A Responsible Dog Owner
Tips & Pointers To Being A Responsible Dog Owner | Thing to Think About Before And After Getting A Dog
The thought of getting a dog and the actual owning of a dog are two very different things. It is similar to thinking of having children and the whole life upheaval of actually having them. The dream and the reality can be far, far apart.
In this article I will be giving you some points to mull over if you are thinking of getting a dog. Yes, there are many articles of this type around but this is a little different as the sugar coating is definitely in the off-ward position. It will also point out some of the things you may be doing wrong either with your dog or toward other dog owners/neighbours/runners. Trust me, you are NOT always right!
Photo: My Mum & Her German Shepherd called Penny (they were inseparable)
Dog Walking Etiquette
Just because you like your dog off the leash don't think that everyone else is the same.
Thinking on is the clue. You have to bear in mind some people own dogs that can not be let off the lead due to breed type like Huskies & Malamutes as they have a tendency to run off. There are a myriad of reasons why dogs are kept on the leash ie dog aggression, fear or simply because they know their canine is overly powerful. It is not unusual for a larger dog to hurt a smaller one just through happy playfulness. I once had a German Shepherd (large black one next to sitting next to my Dad in the picture above) that could fit his playmate (miniature rough collie) in his mouth!
It is always good manners and forward thinking when approaching someone who has their dog on a leash to do likewise. This avoids conflicts between both dogs and owners! It is worth bearing in mind that if your dog is off the leash and goes toward another dog on the leash, even if that dog attacks yours, you would be the one held responsible for injury as your dog was not under supervision.
Try, at all times, to ensure you and your dog are trained to be in control.
Photo: My Mum & her 3 very well trained German Shepherds and my Dad
Keep Your Dog Safe At Night
You may be walking in a lit area but remember that dogs are not as tall as people and so many have dark coats. An easy and very cheap way of making sure your canine compadre is seen not only by cars and bikes but by other people walking/running is to put a high visibility jacket on. I have one for my German Shepherd and it does not bother her one jot (my daughter even thinks she likes wearing it).
There are also other fantastic items available to keep the dogs visible such as flashing collars, tags and leads. These not only help others spot them, they also help the owner see where their dog has run off to.
Photo: My German Shepherd Sasha & her high viz jacket
High Visibility Dog Vest - A Cheap and Effective Way to Keep Your Dog Safe
Leaving Your Dog Home Alone
Are You Leaving Your Neighbours Climbing The Walls?
I have dogs as I work from home, if I didn't, I wouldn't have a dog. Dogs need to be walked at least twice a day, one really good walk in the morning and another in the evening. If you can't do this, don't get a dog!
If you are leaving your dog for the day ensure it has had a good walk, it has plenty of water and it doesn't sit there howling all day. An easy solution to ensure your dog is happy whilst you work is to employ a dog walker or neighbour to come in at lunch time (or when you want) and give your dog a break. Remember dogs are pack animals and do not relish being left alone for long periods of time.
If you can afford it, setting up a run and hut for your dog in the garden is an excellent way to ensure your dog has it's own space and can also get outside should you be late and your hound need to do their ablutions. This also stops your house from being destroyed should you have a dog that has separation anxiety.
If your trusty hound really hates being parted from you, you could always look for your nearest dog creche (dog day care centre). Dog daycare places are springing up all over now, the photo you see here is our local one.
Photo: My daughter Katie working at the local dog creche with full Grown Irish Terrier Stanley, American Akita (left) Chico and Husky Golden Retriever cross (far right) called Maya
Do You Work And Own A Dog?
Some dogs really don't mind being left, they are quite happy to curl up on their beds and wait until their owners get home. However, there are those (like my neighbours dog who is singing to me through the walls as I type) who cry pitifully for their owners to return.
What do you do to ensure your dog is OK when you go out? Do you have any tips or tricks?
What Do You Do To Ensure Your Dog's Happiness Whilst At Work?
The Small Dog Small Walk Myth
People have a bad habit of buying small dogs as they assume that due to their size they don't need much looking after or great long walks
WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
Small dogs especially the terrier breeds were bred to work all day. Small dogs have enormous amounts of energy and need good walks just like big dogs. In fact if you are looking for a dog that you don't have to take for huge long walks you are looking in the wrong place, try greyhounds instead. Greyhound were bred for racing and after a good morning walk they are the ideal dog for laying peacefully in front of the fire until the evening wander comes along!
Our family owned a few terriers in their time and each and everyone of them was capable and enjoyed long walks through the countryside, hiking up hill and dale was there preferred place to be.
Photo: My daughter Katie at work with an Irish Terrier puppy called Dolly (it's a hard life!)
Clean As You Go
You & Your Dog Are Not The Only Pedestrians Around Here
Treading in a pile of dog pooh is not something anyone loves doing. It stinks, it's horrid and it can ruin a pair of good shoes, not only that but it is just vile, plain and simple. So ensure you pick up after your dog, even if you are in the middle of the countryside ensure you are not leaving a huge pile of pooh in the middle of a path. It is not a pleasant job in the middle of nowhere searching for sticks to remove someone elses dog feces from your hiking boots tread!
So just take one minute moving it into the bushes on the trails or into a pooh bag in suburban areas. Locally there is a walk that so many dog owners have used and abused the farmer has now taken away the access rights, all because people could not be bothered to clean up after their dogs. This I find unfair on other ramblers and really unfair on the farmer who has to avoid small doggie land mines as he walks his own land!
Have A Bit of Understanding
One thing I would advise all dog owners to do new and old, is keep reading about your beloved beasts. Learning about dog behaviour from professionals will give you a superb insight into the canine compadre. For instance did you know under the heading "aggressive dogs" the dog that comes out top isn't your usual big brute suspects it is the West Highland White! When your dog is walking to another dog its tail high and wagging do you think this is a friendly greeting? Well it isn't, it is a dog showing another it is on high alert.
Finding out facts about canine behaviour will help you not only understand your dog, but see the warning signs from others.
Photo: My dog Sasha
Understanding Your Dog
After puppy classes it can get very expensive to train dogs, especially if, like me, you rescue large dogs. Many rescue dogs come with problems from separation anxiety to full on aggression toward other humans/dogs. Most of these problems can be sorted out by training yourself how to look out for and deal with the dog.
Learning about canine was a must for me as I ran my own animal care company and helped people with problem dogs. The bigger the problem with their dog, the more I read and researched. One piece of information that kept coming up again and again is ensuring you are in control of your dog and not the other way round.
To learn more I read the following books that were absolutely brilliant.
This was the best book I read, hands down brilliant. It runs you through most aspects of canine behaviour giving you a great overview on the way dogs operate.
Another superb read. I have high regard for Jan and her work and again, can not recommend her book highly enough.
There was a lot of controversy some years ago to Cesar using electric collars. Ignore that! This guy knows what he is talking about and his book helped me with so many of my clients dog problems.
Happy Dogs Can Be A Pain!
We all love to see our dogs happy, no question about that one but allowing your dog no matter how small to jump up on other people/dogs is unacceptable. As cute as it may seem when they are a puppy, when you have a fully grown dog that has just romped around a muddy field jumping up at a small child, all of a sudden it really is not cute at all, in fact it is down right dangerous. Train your dog from the offset that jumping up is not acceptable.
If however, by accident this occurs always offer to pay the dry cleaning bill, it's the least you can do.
Dogs Don't Sit on Settee's!
It never ceases to amaze me that people do not understand why they are having behavioral problems with their dogs but allow them on the settee/sofa's even their beds, then when they want to sit/go to sleep, they are warned off by their dog . . and let it! Putting a canine in an elevated position is tantamount to telling it it is in charge. Look at a pack of wolves the alpha male is always highest up and on a pack hunt, in front.
I encountered a lady who owned two dobermans, she allowed them on her bed whenever they chose, it got to the point where they would not allow HER on her own bed because by her allowing them on the bed/sofa etc they then took on the dominant role in the house. It causes possessive behaviour, which if left can cause huge problems.
For tips on how to curb this behaviour just click on the picture above.
3 Year Itch
Be warned, your lovable dog can become a very different animal and it is usual as they hit 3 years old. I had a Rottweiller that was such a passive pup, trained her really easily but around the 3 year mark she started showing dominant behaviour. Luckily, I knew what I was up against and with training and strong handling all was well. I have even heard one mans story of his dog becoming a little "off" around the three year mark. He kept an eye on it until one day as he walked in the room the dog launched itself at him. Again, luckily he had been aware of the problem coming up and double luckily he was an expert martial artist and managed to subdue the dog in a matter of minutes . . this could have turned out very differently for some one who had not done their homework.
Photo: My Rottie Nicki
What is Round The corner
Keeping Alert, Keeping You & Your Dog Safe
One thing I have learned over the years is to put my dog on a leash or keep them close to heal as we round blind bends on walks. Round the corner could be an elderly person, a mother with a pram neither of which can handle a dog bounding at them.
Dogs do not like sudden surprises so encountering another dog round a corner can lead to unwanted aggression, purely as they were not expecting it. So, keeping your dog by your side until you know what is coming at you is the safest way to go.
Rogues Gallery - If you couldn't deal with these . . don't get a dogClick thumbnail to view full-size
Damage Control With An Aggressive Dog
My latest rescue dog is a German Shepherd (as you can tell by photo's), she has fear aggression problems. As I wrote earlier, most rescue dogs, especially the older ones, can come with some sad baggage. Sasha was kept in a house until she was given away to the German Shepherd Rescue, not walked, not socialised, as unfortunately her owner contracted a severe form of cancer when she was a puppy and just couldn't get her out. He loved her, but didn't train her.
So I adopted an aggressive German Shepherd, not a problem for me at all as I have all the time in the world to train her. However, having a large dog barking and lunging at your dog can be stressful and quite frightening. The best thing you as an aggressive dog owner can do (apart from re-training of course) is ensuring you have protected everyone and everything else, so get a muzzle.
There are two main types of muzzle available and I will just run through them both with you.
The soft muzzle is great for quick use ie to put on when you see problems approaching. However, I would not advise one to be used if you are running or walking your dog for prolonged periods of time as the dog can not open their mouth at all, which does hinder their ability to regulate body heat as a dog sweats mainly through it's mouth.
This is by far my favourite as it not only is 100% guarantee that the dog can not bite but also allows them to breath normally.
If you have ever owned a Rottweiler or one of the pitbull/staffordshire bull terrier types you will know they have a strange capability to "flick" things off with their paws, this includes normal muzzles. These muzzles have been specifically designed so they can not do this. So if you do have one of the clever breeds that do this, I would urge you not to buy anything but this type of muzzle.