Snow Safety and Fun with Your Dog

mattWhat better to do than run around with your pup on a snow day? Well…maybe cuddle with your pup with some popcorn in hand, watch a movie & sit by the warm fire. However,  my husband and I took time to run around with the dog. With a medium sized dog and over 3 feet of snow, well this can be dangerous.

You know your dog so watch for signs that something may be wrong including:

  • Shivering (cold!!)
  • Limping (salt,snow,ice can get stuck in their paws and injure them)
  • Whimpering (cold, hurt)
  • Snow over their head/reaching their head

Oreo used to be super thin. Yes, I know it’s hard to imagine-she is “pleasantly plump” now, but when she was thin she would shiver in the cold.

  • If your dog is very thin or doesn’t have much hair consider a sweater/coat/wrap for your dog-especially if you notice them shivering.
  • If you walk on the road during the winter and your dog is bothered by the salt consider getting boots (more expensive) or pawz rubber boots (less expensive).
  • Don’t leave your dog outside long-it’s too cold, either walk them around, have some fun with them, or let them do their business and bring them back in-no dog deserves to be left out in the cold (it could be deadly!)

Have some FUN!!! 

  • Build a snowman-have your dog help! Okay…well my dog will try to eat the snowball I am rolling, so it may be more fun for her.
  • Throw snowballs for your dog to chase/catch. Oreo loves chasing snowballs and trying to catch them (please be careful you aren’t hitting your dog with snowballs).
  • Run around in the snow with your dog-play chase!
  • Throw a ball, play with a toy in the snow
  • Play hide and seek! Hide your dog’s favorite toy in the snow-let your dog sniff it out. I would recommend a kong or something you can fill with a smelly treat you first let your dog sniff, then hide.
  • Take a walk on freshly fallen snow and check out nature and the neighborhood. Enjoy the quiet and peace when no one is around and the roads haven’t been salted.

What fun things do you do with your dog when it snows?

 

During an Attack

side_dogwalking
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.

Treat Training Dog Syndrome

Does your dog look up at you when you’re walking? Does your dog follow by your side? If so…your dog might have TTDS (Treat Training Dog Syndrome). Here are more symptoms of TTDS so that you may be able to diagnose your dog:

When…

  • you open the door, your dog sits patiently while you clip the leash on their collar.
  • opening the door, your dog sits and waits without you saying a word.
  • you are locking the door at your house, your dog is leashed and waiting behind you sitting.
  • your dog sees another dog and automatically looks at you or offers a trick

These are just some of the symptoms of TTDS. The symptoms vary depending on how well you have treat trained your dog! Don’t worry, TTDS is a great syndrome for your dog to have!

Watching…Waiting…

This is just an update entry!

Oreo had private training again with the “big black scary dog” and the trainer. This time we backed it up. Instead of being in the barn, we worked in the poll barn, a much bigger, more open area. I went in first and attached a 50 foot lead to Oreo. The trainer came in with her dog, who stayed near her and Oreo got to investigate. She smelled around and eventually would get closer to the end of the leash. We only saw 2 nervous licks the entire time, and we were there for over an hour!! YAY!!! She ventured to the end of the leash then would look at me and run back. After a while she would get closer and play bow and even sit and relax yay!!

That is the goal-we want her to be able to RELAX around other dogs, so one day she might be able to greet and play with them. She is very conflicted. At a distance, and even a few feet away she wants to play, then as she approaches she slows down and freezes. Sometimes she will play, sometimes she will snarl and want to bite. We are working towards rehabilitating her after she was attacked. I would NEVER force her to go near other dogs, especially because she is afraid. But I know she once LOVED playing with dogs and couldn’t get enough. Now, she shows me she wants to, but is too scared and unsure, so I am doing this for her, so maybe one day she will get what she wants…to be able to play and not be scared of being attacked by the dog again.

Her reactive training went well. We had some observers who may be attending the class. One was a man!! WOOO! I say that because men hardly ever come and most of the dogs are afraid of them. Oreo was nervous when we did parallel walking. Parallel walking can be used with just a person opposite of you and your dog, or a person and a dog. Basically you walk parallel to someone, so you start at the same spot, parallel at a certain amount apart. If it’s your first time, give it tons of distance and look for signs from your dog to tell you if you are too close or far away. This exposes your dog to the trigger at a safe distance, while you can click and treat your dog for looking calmly at the person or dog. Remember, don’t push your dog too much! Stay at a distance and take it slow, do a few reps walking back and forth and give your dog a break. We did three back and forths with the man and she was nervous. I gave her a break, then later we tried again a bit closer.

Further down the training road we had her meet him, and she LOVED him the most out of everyone! I think she just needed to MEET him and have him give her treats to know he is okay, a friend. I wonder what would’ve happened if I had her meet him first. I don’t think she would’ve been nervous when parallel walking then, it was just because he was a stranger. She has become “Stubborn” like a “mule.” She will sit when I ask her to walk back to the car with me. She used to hate people, now she loves them so much she won’t leave. I had someone walk with us back towards the car and she did fine then. I guess loving people too much is better than hating them!

One Happy Hound

Yay!!! Oreo had a FANTASTIC day at training! We woke up early this morning and Oreo was NOT feeling well. We were outside at 6:30am, and she was eating grass. Everyone in the neighborhood must know what my pajamas look like by now (lol)! She did take treats though, which meant we were okay. I should have figured she wouldn’t be feeling well since she didn’t eat her food last night. She needs to eat in the evening, otherwise the bile builds up and she’s sick in the morning.

Anywhoooo….onto the good news. We went to training and first we did calming curves. I was a little nervous because Oreo was doing this with a new dog. I had her sit next to me, the trainer called out “5 steps.” I proceeded 5 steps and Oreo was looking in my eyes the entire time! I felt like we understood each other and we were working together like a team. I took my five steps, saw the other dog and owner take their five steps, and called out Oreo’s name. She IMMEDIATELY turned and walked happily with me back to where we started as I clicked, praised, and treated her. We got up to 19 steps (about 10 feet away from the other dog), and Oreo did wonderful each time! She didn’t hesitate when turning around. She didn’t get nervous or stare down at the other dog…nothing! We might have even greeted the dog, except that the other dog is new to the class and is highly reactive.

I threw a “party” when we got in the car. This means that I praised her, pet her, and gave her treats while telling her what a good dog she was. This is a great reward when you get the dog back in the car after training. I also put some high value treats in her kong so that she LIKES being in the car and doesn’t get seperation anxiety.

After a break, we did the “vet office” exercise. I would bring Oreo into a door in the barn, call her name, and she needed to turn and respond to me (click, treat). She did wonderful! I do some focusing exercises (tricks such as touch, here, and high five) to get her ready to greet other people and focused on me and working together to conquer her fear. We then continued and greeted a woman sitting who asked her for tricks. Oreo was OVERLY excited, her tail was wagging a million miles a minute…she was SO HAPPY!

Next we greeted a stranger (a woman) she never met. She went right up to her, tail wagging, smiling and performed tricks for treats! Yay! At this point I was on the other side of the barn and another dog would come through the door on the opposite side and follow the pattern I just did. I would stay in the corner and do tricks to have Oreo once again focus on me. She didn’t even care another dog was there! She didn’t hesitate when I called her to come with me either, which is a great improvement. The previous classes I was having difficulty getting her to leave with me. Over the next week the trainer is going to discuss what I would like to do. I could continue with reactive classes and add on a new class (re-socialization) or switch classes altogether. The trainer is trying a new private class to re-socialize dogs who WANT to play. Oreo definitely wants to play with other dogs, but is still a bit unsure and fearful, as am I. When we were working on exercises she was whining and play bowing…she really wants some doggy friends but is unsure! Great job today! We are a happy bunch. Seems like she needs to have regression every once in a while to make a great leap!

Just like Normal

Did you ever see the joy on dogs faces when they are playing with their best friend? I have, and it makes me forget that Oreo is reactive, just for those minutes, it’s as if she is the friendliest dog ever! She was just outside playing with her best friend, Boomer, a large dog who lets her jump on top of him and roll over and play ball. They share toys, run together, and lay next to each other. It is truely a sight to behold.

Oreo is afraid of strangers, and will even sometimes lunge/bark at them to try to ward them off. When she is playing EVERYONE is her friend. Even the scary neighbor guy who comes out with his dog. When she would once bark at him and lunge, she goes right up to him and all of the people outside for petting and playing. She even lets all of the older SCARY MEN pet her. It’s like magic, and it makes me feel happy to see her so happy and not worried. If every day could be like this! This bring up feelings of why? Why is she okay now, playing in the backyard, when other times she definitely isn’t?

The other day one of the scary neighbor men came right up to us and she had a fit, barking, lunging, and I’m sure if she was close enough she probably would’ve tried to bite him to make him go away he was so scary. We put her in the house, then minutes later took her out the back to play with her friend Boomer. A scary man was sitting next door with Boomer’s mom, and Oreo never met this man before–she went right up to him jumping up on him licking him loving the petting! What is up with that? Pehaps she has associated the back yard with good experiences, and good people? Who knows, but I wish it wouldn’t stop. Unfortunately her best friend boomer will be moving in less than 2 weeks 😦 So we have to savor the moments we have…

On another note I am proud of some of the little things I have seen from her. When she is tired of playing, she will walk away from Boomer or lay down. This is a smart decision for her because sometimes she gets over tired then gets snappy. Another thing I noticed was when the other neighbor’s dog came out she did not go over there. I actually think she knows this dog is super shy. It might sound weird, but I think she knows. She uses calming signals with this dog EVERY SINGLE TIME. When she seems him she automatically turns her head and lays down. If you haven’t read about calming signals you should definitely do that. She is trying to calm the other dog down (yay!). Usually she is the one out of control, but after hanging around this dog a few times at a distance, and having her friend Boomer around she has been more comfortable. Also, she was looking out the door and saw a dog coming, barked 2 times, then walked away. Yay! Small victories when there is a long way to go keeps you going…

Walking Gear

 

 

I find it cumbersome sometimes to carry  everything I need on walks. I have invested in some athletic shorts that have pockets. The following things I bring with me every time I leave for the park or a walk with the dog:

 

  • Leash
  • E Z Harness
  • Treat Bag
  • Yummy Treats
  • Clicker
  • Pepper Spray
  • Poop Bags
  • Dog of course!

Now let’s start with the thing that pops into my mind first when reading the list. Pepper Spray? You may wonder why I carry it, but you might not if you have been reading my posts. Oreo was attacked. Never thought it would happen, and in such a quiet neighborhood. Dogs can come from anywhere, and I’ve learned to always be ready. In the few months I have carried it I have never had to use it. I do have to admit, right after the attack I was much more drastic…MUCH MORE. I bought an extendable baton, that is electrified. It actually is designed to fit right over your shorts or pants to carry. I was mortified. I purchased it and even paid extra to have it shipped fast. I was desperate. If anything is attacking my baby and I can’t get it off this should do!! Why not just pepper spray?? I read that bigger dogs may not release with just pepper spray. I had to get the best.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would never use it unless a dog was attacking my dog and I couldn’t get it off. That happened to be the situation before, and it probably was on our dog for a good 5 minutes not releasing, and pulling. I thought her skin would be ripped off. I actually remember hitting the dog and looking up to the sky and thinking, “God, I can’t believe this is happening, it’s like a nightmare, help me”. This followed with screaming, my husband kicking the dog, and it refused to release. After that I thought we got lucky she wasn’t killed, next time I will be prepared.

TRUTH IS…I never have fully taken it out of the package. The baton actually scares me, and the fact I would have to use it on another dog scares me. What if it was my dog attacking? But then I think back to that day that changed everything, a fun loving dog changed into a highly fearful anxiety ridden dog. She once enjoyed the company of other dogs…okay she was obsessed with playing with other dogs. Now she freezes when she sees them, and well you know what will happen if she’s reached her threshold. Plus, her injuries could’ve been much much worse. And after the attack she seemed so normal, wagging her tail, licking the owner’s hand. Such a sweetie. I digress.

Another thing I find a MIRACLE is the E Z harness. It doesn’t have to be that brand, but a harness that connects in the front to the leash. Amazing!! Oreo use to pull pull pull. She was a tracker and loved pulling to see other dogs. We tried regular harnesses, training methods, nothing worked…until the E Z harness. I don’t know if anyone else has had success, but we definitely have. After the attack though now we have trouble encouraging her walk sometimes she is scared. Taking her to parks and avoiding crowded areas does help though. I still use the E Z harness because it doesn’t cause pressure on the neck. When a dog is nervous, pressure on the neck just exacerbates the problem. It also allows me to have more control. If she happens to get surprised and out of fear starts to lunge, I have much more control. The trainer actually said eventually I could take it off, but it doesn’t seem to bother her, or me.

I do find carrying so much stuff can be crazy, and sometimes I forget. Well…okay I don’t forget. I get up and it’s early in the morning. I go outside with Oreo and she is sniffing, but suddenly a bathroom break turns into a little walk..then AHH scary person or dog!! No treats? Yes, I can hold her attention, but not as long as I would like, we haven’t had enough experience yet and training. It always seems like when you forget the treats or the poop bag…that’s when you need it…and that’ when your dog decides to go right in someone’s front lawn as they are starring out at you from the window.