Should We Care?

Should we are what other people think of our dogs? Only minutes ago I was sitting on my porch while Oreo lounged in the spring-growing grass towards a neighbors dog that appeared from behind a car. The neighbors were taking their dog for a walk and emerged from behind their car with their dog on leash. I wasn’t expecting this, didn’t hear them as I was engrossed working on typing for a book I’m working on and of course Oreo lost it. Her threshold was over and there was no time to call her to attention or tempt her with treats. My laptop rolled off of my lap as I scrambled to pull her back on the leash.

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At this point I knew I couldn’t bring her into the house since she weighs too much for me to drag her in, plus they nearly passed our house. “Attack dog huh?” was the question the neighbor asked through the loud barking as they passed. I was too entangled with my job of keeping my dog in control to answer. When the neighbor’s dog finally was out of sight I the barking stopped and Oreo did a few paces around then laid back down into her casual spot. “No, we don’t want that, ” I heard from the neighbor. I have no idea what they were talking about, but for some reason I think I know. The neighbor is due any day now, and they have been talking about putting a large wooden fence up (which I would love, then we could get a fence and save some money by connecting it!). I can only guess perhaps she was saying she wouldn’t want her child attacked (who would?).

Oreo was scared. She’s reactive, so she reacts. I failed in my job to get her attention before she reached her threshold. However, I’m not going to pine about it-there was nothing I could have done, animals and people always appear from behind objects, which Oreo reacts to the worst. She does not like surprises, especially big scary surprises that remind of her of the attack from her past.

So why did I care what the neighbors thought? Well I automatically felt embarrassed because I thought I looked like a fool as I scrambled to hold onto my dog. I grew up with a mother who definitely cares what people think. I don’t usually care too much, but with Oreo I am more protective. I wish people could see how caring, kind, and loving this dog is. She is all kisses and cuddling inside (with the occasional leave me alone stare or warning if she is sleeping). However, I know people who are knowledgeable about reactive dogs know exactly how I feel. I highly recommend a reactive dog class that is positive. Not only do you learn how to give your dog courage, manage, and train your dog, but you also find companionship and comfort knowing you are not the only one and people do understand.

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Tug it Up!

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My sister has an elderly dog which has been with them for many years after her roommate threatened to bring it to a shelter after she moved (nasty). Mighty the dog doesn’t get along well with everyone-all of the time and can appear aggressive to strangers. There was no question-my sister and husband (boyfriend at the time) would definitely adopt Mighty.

Mighty doesn’t always play well with others-in fact we’ve never seen him play well with others-until Kai came along. Don’t get me wrong-Mighty doesn’t like to play all the time-but when he does play it’s magical to watch. Kai is a large German Shepard my sister and husband adopted who loves to play (he’s only around 1 year old). Mighty on the other hand is closer to 12 years old. Watching the 2 dogs play is quite the treat. Sometimes Mighty will just growl, turn his head away, or walk away to tell Kai he doesn’t want to play.

However, when it’s tug time Mighty stands his ground, while Kai pulls him around for fun. Kai doesn’t win…ever…but I think Kai wins in his mind. Kai’s goal is not to win the rope, but to pull Mighty around as much as possible (so much fun)! Here’s the link to a short video my sister posted of them playing tug together and a short snippet at the end of Kai listening to the video and saying, “huh?” with the classic head turn. Enjoy!

>https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=f4T4N5QKy2w

Update

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A big hello from Oreo and I!! Yes it’s been many months since our last post and things have been crazy. I had some health issues over the summer and we FINALLY moved into our new home!!

Does Oreo like it? Of course!! She loves that there is more space and a yard to run around in. However, we have yet to get a fence as they are SUPER expensive. We have the house in the neighborhood we have always wanted, and Oreo’s grandparents are very close (this is good for dog sitting)! I’ve been looking into fence prices but of course the full privacy vinyl fences are the most expensive, but everything else would be a waste for her. She definitely needs to be blocked from seeing other dogs and people.

Another reason I haven’t posted is because things have been quite uneventful (until today). Uneventful Oreo=good Oreo. She’s been adjusting to the new house and enjoying many of her new toys from Christmas. On our walks around the neighborhood we have encountered a few dogs with electric fences. Is this good? Yes and no. I don’t believe in electric fences (even though my parents had one for my dog when I was very young-but that’s another post). The dogs tend to run at full speed snarling at us then stop short. Scares the bejesus out of Oreo and I. Luckily Oreo has been doing well-she will bark a few times then look at me for treats and keep walking. One owner of a large dog with an electric fence yelled to us that “it was okay, the dog has an electric fence”, however, it was not okay to me that his dog was lunging, snarling, and barking at us as we were walking by. 

Oreo’s health has had it’s ups and downs. There was a period of about 2 weeks where we had issues getting her allergy medicine (natural hydrocortisone) but finally received it and she is doing better.

However, Mom (me) hasn’t been doing the best job. I’ve been slacking on my duties. I was getting use to having a somewhat “normal” dog and became lazy. I gave Oreo some food from my plate, let her sit next to me on the couch as I was eating (ugh embarrassingly bad) and haven’t asked much of her. It’s been so cold & snowy we haven’t went on many walks either. Another no-no is a large bay window in the front living room-Oreo LOVES watching & barking at people/dogs/squirrels/anything that moves. So guess what I ordered today? Window film! I plan on putting this on the bottom squares of the bay window to eliminate the barking. 

I haven’t been my training obsessed self for a while and thought it might be okay to let her look out the window-it’s nice in fact that she can without barking 24/7. However, the barking has increased and I’m sure this leads to some amount of stress. Also, I need to bathe her more. I was told to bathe her at least every other week because of allergies but I haven’t. With work, the move, and everything else going on it wasn’t on the top of my list.

I haven’t been asking her to sit and wait before she goes out the door, nor have I practiced “trade with her”. Another thing I really worked hard on with her was insuring that if she was going to sleep on my bed, she would do so without growling if we moved our feet or pet her. However, I haven’t worked on that in a while and it shows. 

In the last week I’ve seen increased growling when we move our feet or pet her while she’s relaxing on our bed. I’ve also seen her growl at my husband when she was chewing her bone and he reached to pet her. She growled at me today for petting her while she was laying down (not sleeping). Then of course the big event-I was eating and she was laying on the couch next to me. My husband went to pet her and she snapped at him-made contact with his skin, but didn’t break it-no bleeding. 

I should’ve seen this all coming from what was going on around the house, however I guess I didn’t want to-I wanted to think I could relax and not have to put more work into having a dog-but duhhh dogs are work-especially fearful ones. So tomorrow we start anew and it’s back to the training realm. 

Practice:

  • trading
  • touch (while she is laying down in different places)
  • say please model-sit before going outside & wait, etc. 
  • Get the husband to train-he seems to set her off more often
  • Put window clings up
  • More baths for Oreo
  • Use the thundershirt when she seems stressed

My Dog is Deadly Contagious

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As I was away enjoying a few days with my mom in the Poconos, I got an urgent call from my husband seemingly upset. He rattled off a tale that I have been fearing ever since Oreo got attacked…a person who just doesn’t understand.

As many of you know, we live in townhomes, which we have been trying to get out of FOREVER! We finally sold our home back in May, but are currently stuck in a short sale. We do have a date we have to get out though-end of September is the moving date (YAY!). Anyway, he was enjoying a nice walk on the walkway behind out homes (about 50 feet away from our back door) with the dog and out of the corner of his eye he saw one of neighbors open his back sliding door and let the dog out. The neighbor is newer, but has mostly followed the rules about leashing his dog. My husband kept going on his leisurely walk with Oreo until he saw a golden retriever mix heading straight for them. Apparently the neighbor brought his dog out without a leash, surprise, surprise.

This is the scary moment, where I would say, “HOLY SHIT, IT’S HAPPENING!” Luckily, my husband is stronger than I am, and he told me that lifted her up way above his head as the dog approached. Oreo couldn’t see the dog since it was like Simba being held up in The Lion King. The dog below didn’t growl or snarl, but barked and waited below my husband to greet Oreo. However, Oreo was not in the greeting mood-she was looking around wildly trying to find the dog, growling and snarling.

“Don’t worry my dog is nice, she just wants to play,” was the response from our neighbor. Wow, how cliché is that? My husband yelled back, “My dog is not nice and will attack your dog!” The neighbor took his time getting to the dog, calling it-with no response. He finally reached his dog and left without a word. No sorry, no it won’t happen again, NOTHING!

Ugh! I have heard this blogged about countless times-people who think if their dog is nice, it’s okay. What if my dog isn’t nice? Should I have a blinking sign or shirt made that says stay away my dog will tear you apart? Maybe then, people would get the point…probably not. Our neighbor didn’t seem too concerned that his dog would be attacked. I would be running to get my dog and apologizing profusely if I were in his position.

Not surprisingly I was enjoying reading “The Whole Dog Journal” on my porch in the back yesterday with Oreo laying at my feet, when who comes out unsupervised? The golden mix pooch. At least he was leashed this time, but his leash was long enough to cross 3 townhomes and no one was supervising him (the rules in the neighborhood don’t allow dogs to be outside without someone with them). Oreo of course went ballistic as I pulled her inside then asked for tricks and gave her treats…I can’t wait to move & I bet Oreo can’t wait either!

The morale of the story is to have a plan. Matt and I have talked about this many times after Oreo was attacked-we wished we had a plan before she was attacked. We decided that we would risk getting bitten by Oreo if she would go crazy and bite us to get down (which hasn’t happened..) and risk getting attacked by the approaching dog. We decided we would rather be attacked than the dog. That is our personal choice, where many people would not risk it. I told my husband to yell to the owner of the loose dog that our dog is not friendly and will attack their dog. However, I see that doesn’t work as effectively as I thought. I did read somewhere where someone suggested that you should call out, “My dog is highly contagious.I thought I could take it another step and say, “My dog is deadly contagious.” (haha) I read recently if you are near a car you can try to get on the roof of a car if a dog is actually attacking-I always keep that in mind. Whether the dog is friendly or not, if your dog is reactive towards dogs, you must have a plan.

Go Ahead, Treat Adults Like Children (They Just Don’t Get it!)

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Speak up for your pup because sometimes people don’t get the message!

It came to my attention this past weekend that I needed to treat my mom like a child when it comes to dogs.

Did I like treating her like a kid, repeating the same thing to her many times to ensure she would listen? No, absolutely not. Was it necessary? Definitely!

Many times we don’t always say what is on our mind when it comes to our dogs. We worry about what people might think of us, if they will be mad, laugh, or get upset with us if we do or say things that don’t seem “normal”. For example, this past weekend my parents were watching Oreo. My brother and sister-in-law were stopping over for a few minutes. I told my mom to put her in the bedroom when they came over. “It’s just Den and Lila, she’ll be fine,” was my mother’s response. “No, she won’t be fine. Please put her in the bedroom, it’s better to be safe than sorry,” I replied. “Oh come on Jess, don’t be ridiculous…” The conversation continued like this until I basically had to annoy her and get her to comply. Yes, she was doing us a favor watching the dog, but Oreo is a bite risk if left around strangers (she doesn’t see them much at all). I called the night before my brother was coming over to remind her. Did she get angry? YES! She told me not to treat her like a child, that she knows. I tried to explain why I reminded her, yet she didn’t quite understand.

That’s the point, PEOPLE DON’T HAVE TO UNDERSTAND. We need to stick up for our dogs and for what makes them comfortable or uncomfortable. They don’t have a voice, so we need to speak for them.

If I didn’t speak up to my mom Oreo could’ve easily bitten or had a bad experience that couldn’t worsened her reactivity. Maybe she would have been fine with them, but why risk it?

Sometimes we have to treat other people like children, beacause they just don’t get it. People who aren’t associated with dog training or have had a reactive/scared dog just don’t get it. What’s worse is that they don’t believe you. When you tell people your dog will NOT be okay in a certain situation you are most likely met with the comment, “Oh well she’ll be okay, don’t worry, it’ll be fine.” This is where you have to be your dogs’ protector. You can protect your pup many ways, but one of the most powerful ways is to speak up even if you feel uncomfortable. Trust me, things will work out better and after you have stuck up for your dog (even if you’ve offended someone) you will feel better and so will your dog.

So go ahead, treat someone like a child if they don’t understand. Stand up for your dog!

Long Time!

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Long time-no write! It’s been almost a month and I’ve been SLACKING! To tell the truth we’ve been house hunting. It’s been a long road and apparently the housing market has rocketed so after 5 hours we still don’t have a new house. Lucky for us though, we can rent from the guy who bought our condo!

Oreo news…took her to the vet today-everything looked great. We are waiting results from normal tests to make sure, but she did great! Since it’s allergy season she has been itching more but it’s still under control.

Storytime…
Yesterday I was walking Oreo and in the distance two dogs appeared with their owner as I rounded the corner. They were probably 50 feet away and her 2 large dogs started lunging, barking and growling. The lady was so small and the dogs were so large it was hard for me to understand why she would even risk bringing them on a walk together. Oreo barked and lunged, but followed me away and quickly recovered. We walked parallel to another labrador across the street and she did wonderful!

It’s amazing to see how far she has come. I remember when I was that lady with a dog going wild and praying people would walk away with their dogs and not linger. I thank management, figuring out her allergies, and training for her great progress. Management can be a key-that lady with the dogs made me realize how much management can make a difference.

When I leave the house I make sure all the blinds are closed so my dog doesn’t bark at people. I don’t take her to parties or have strangers to the house. If I really want people she doesn’t know well to come over, I drop her at my parents (she is deathly afraid of crates due to small space). My friends always ask how my dog is doing and I tell them great. She is great-she’ll never be “normal” and nor do I want to force her to do things she is uncomfortable with. I will never be 100% sure, no matter how much training that she won’t bite or snap at someone she doesn’t know in our house-so no amount of training will entrust me to let her run free around strangers. She’s never bitten or attacked people in my home, but I just don’t want it to happen since I’ve seen her bark and lunge at people.

She’s good with car rides but if she had an issue I’m sure I would find something to block her from seeing outside. Whatever the issue is I’m sure we could train or manage. The woman with the 2 dogs didn’t seem to have common sense. I don’t exactly know the situation but to me they seemed like 2 reactive very large dogs who could’ve easily pulled her away. I hope she learns to take one dog walking at a time to help train them or at least manage them better.

During an Attack

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Today I’m going to cover what to do if you or your dog are attacked by another dog. Even if you believe it will never happen to you or your pup, you should still be ready in an emergency.

Before the dog attacks:

-Keep your eyes open on walks, scanning the area for stray or loose dogs. If you see one, head in the opposite direction.

-Do not run. If a dog is frozen in place looking at you and you decide to run, you lose. The dog will be more excited and definitely run after you. However, if the dog is already running towards you and you are close to your home or something that will help you, then running is the way to go.

When the dog is running towards you or stops and stares at you:

-Try commanding the dog into a sit or down.

-Make yourself really big. Outstretch your arms, get on your toes and yell for the dog to go home or stay.

When the dog is attacking or about to attack:
-Find a car-take your dog and yourself and stand on top of a car. This will give you shelter from a dog or at least an advantage since you are higher than the dog, and it’s unlikely (but definitely not impossible) that the dog will follow you.

-Take out that umbrella, pepper spray, or stun baton and use it if the dog is aggressively approaching (growling, tense stance, snarling, barking). Don’t wait until it’s too late-use the weapon BEFORE the dog latches onto you or your pup. Also, if I were you and you are considering buying pepper spray-either get dog pepper spray or bear pepper spray. You may wonder why bear spray? Let’s face it-all dogs aren’t the same and if you have a big strong dog in front of you, you want the best to protect yourself and your dog.

-If a dog attacks, it is advised that you curl up in a ball and play dead. However, if you are with your pup you can bet 9 out of 10 times the dog will be going after your pup first, not you. You need to defend yourself. Find a stick or something nearby to pick up and make yourself scary.

-The stick or something else like a bat, umbrella, yard stick-anything can come in handy when the dog is on you. You can use these to put between yourself or your dog-and the attacking dog. You could use your coat-take it off roll it up and shove it in the dog’s mouth.

-This is a personal choice-but if the dog is attacking you or your dog-I would personally offer my arm. I know it sounds horrible, but I’d rather have one arm attacked than my stomach, head, legs, or my pup. I will still have an arm and two legs to fight back. DO NOT pull your arm from the dog, it will only make it worse and rip your arm apart.

-If worst case scenario the dog is attacking you-it’s on you-go for the eyes try to poke it’s eyes or go for its throat by trying to choke it so it will stop attacking you.

-It may be unlikely depending where you are, but if there is a hose nearby or water-spray the dog in the face-they will be surprised and most likely stop attacking.

If the dog is attacking your puppy:
-Choke the dog. Get behind the dog and put your arm around the dog’s neck to choke it until it lets go. It may sound violent, but the attack itself is violent, and some dogs do NOT want to release, even if you are punching them. Believe me, from first hand experience punching a dog in the face, head or body usually does not work.

-Lift the back or front legs from the dog to unbalance the dog-you may surprise it and it will release. However, be prepared, it may turn on you.

-Use a break stick-something to wedge in the dog’s mouth to open it. Straddle the dog and lock your legs around the dog’s hips. Pull the dog by the collar to raise its’ head. Put the breaking stick in the opening of the dog’s mouth where the molar gap is located. Try to get it at least 1/2 inch to 2 inches inside the dog’s mouth. Turn the stick like a motorcycle handle. This will cause the dog to bite on the stick and release your pup or yourself from its’ grip.

The most effective thing is to always be aware of your surroundings on the walk. However, most times dog attacks are surprises. Usually dogs get out of an open gate, broken door, or are running free in a yard. Always take a walking stick, pepper spray, stun baton, umbrella, or something with you in case of an attack. Always be prepared. It isn’t hard to carry something with you, or just put some pepper spray in your pocket. Best to ALWAYS BE PREPARED.

Protecting Yourself and Your Dog

Depending on where you live you will have to consider different types of protection.

If you live near the woods or in an environment that has lots of wildlife you might consider some of these tips:-Have a fenced in area where your dog can roam without fear of bears, wildcats, or whatever type of animals go wild in your backyard!
-If you don’t have a fence always check outside for wildlife
-Stay with your dog and hang out or play games while your dog is outside

Most people don’t live in that type of environment, but a more populated one. Here are some tips on protection for more populated areas:

-If you are letting your dog out-again-have a fence. If you own a bit of land you may not have to worry about that depending on how populated the area and how many dogs are around.

My main concern is walks…here are some things you might want to consider bringing with you:
-dog pepper spray
-a walking stick
-billy club
-umbrella
-cell phone

Believe it or not…I have a stun baton, which is a baton that will extend if you press a button then stun anything it touches. Yes, it is a bit overkill, and no I don’t still take it with me on walks-although I might regret that-who knows.
After Oreo was attacked I would do anything to protect her again. If you know the story, you know that the pit bull would not release her even with hitting, punch, and choking. I did research and decided to invest in some dog pepper spray and a stun baton. I still carry pepper spray and my cell phone with me.

I always thought that it would never happen to me, I grew up with a dog that never got attacked. I live in a safe neighborhood where nothing bad happens and everyone is friendly. However, one sunny Saturday it happened when all I wanted to do was go shopping with my husband and take Oreo for quick walk before shopping. I insisted we needed to take her for a walk after my husband said she would be fine at home, she didn’t need a walk. What a mistake the walk was!

The walking stick, billy club, and umbrella can be helpful in first scaring a dog that comes up to you and putting something between you and the dog or between both dogs. It also acts as a pry to open up a dogs’ mouth if it locks its’ jaw on your dog. It is almost impossible to open a locked jaw unless you somehow pull out all the legs of the dog to shock it, or cut off its breathing. However, if you have something with you that you can slide in the dogs’ mouth to pry it open, that can save your dogs’ life. Some people have used crow bars, yard stakes, anything that you can wedge in the dogs’ mouth to open it.

The cell phone is for calling for help if needed. I was lucky enough to be walking with my husband who stayed with Oreo after the attack while I ran home for the car. There are many things you can carry with you that might help you on walks, but I suggest you take at least one or two of them with you. I never carried anything with me before, but will always carry protection with us now.

Local Dog Attack

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This is the picture of a local dog that was recently attacked and the story has been reported in the media. Oreo, (not my Oreo) is a cockapoo who was attacked and severely injured just last month.

A loving dog parent and family’s worst nightmare. A dog attack.

Oreo the cockapoo was outside with Tammie Jesberger’s father-Bill Tittel. He was taking her for walk around noon in a nice neighborhood. As they walked to the top of the road he saw two pit bulls. Before he knew what was happening, the larger one attacked Oreo and went right for her throat. Bill hit the dog and managed to get the pit bull off of Oreo after pulling out its’ front legs. Oreo was released and Bill yelled for Oreo to go home, but Oreo wouldn’t leave his side.

Bill had to get Oreo home, but knew he couldn’t let go of the pit bull’s front legs or it would go right for Oreo again. He decided to keep holding the dog’s front legs and it used its’ back legs to walk so he could try to get Oreo home. The dog tried to lunge at him and Oreo but he used a strong voice saying, “DON’T YOU DARE!” Tittel being an older gentlemen, dragged the dog as far as he could, trying to get his own dog home. He yelled out for help, but none came and he collapsed after using all of his strength to protect his dog.

Bill’s daughter Tammie heard the commotion and tried to get the pit bull off of Oreo (which again had a deadly grip on her throat after Bill collapsed). Bill scraped up the strength to get up and ran for a shovel and hit the dog with it, but its’ lock was holding. The pit bull dragged Oreo into the bushes shaking her like a rag doll.

Tammie remembered something she saw on Animal Planet about wrestling alligators and grabbed a Christmas decoration and took the stake from it and pried the pit bull’s mouth open. The pit bull released Oreo. Tammie grabbed Oreo and rushed inside, with the pitbull barking and lunging-leaving bloody paw prints and scrapes on the front door. Tammie wrapped Oreo in a towel and called 911. The police came and the dog tried attacking officers who shot the dog. The entire attack lasted over 40 minutes.

Oreo had extensive injuries including a broken jaw and ripped open throat. The owner of the pit bull is paying penalties for not having the pit bull on leash or contained in the yard. He is also paying thousands of dollars for Oreo’s vet bills. Oreo has been to the vet many times for surgeries and is physically recovering. Tammie reports that Oreo is very nervous and wakes up every night crying from nightmares. Tammie and her father say that we can’t even imagine the terror and what they lived through.

Unfortunately many people do and can imagine the terror with the rates of dog attacks increasing. I wished after Oreo (my Oreo) was attacked that NO ONE else would ever have to go through that nightmare, but it happens every single day. My former coworker on facebook just posted her new puppy was attacked by another dog and now has a broken jaw. People let their dogs wander the neighborhood or have doors that don’t close securely. Dogs escape fences and people approach unfriendly dogs. Even a friendly dog can attack for many reasons. That’s why we always need to be prepared. I am not trying to scare or disgust you (although I’m sure the article does). I am trying to make it clear that dog attacks can, will, and do happen anywhere and frequently. In the next few articles posted, I will discuss how to protect yourself, your dog, and the both of you from the nightmare of a dog attack. I will also address what to do if you or your dog gets attacked legally, reporting it, and the after effects from a dog attack, including ways to help your dog be brave again.