Talking Their Language

Whether you have a reactive, hyper, calm, people-friendly, dog-friendly dog, it’s always important to talk their language. They don’t always understand what we say, in fact they only understand a few words we teach them. It’s important to understand what they are telling us.

 

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Eyes up, looking at you, bottom sitting: please give me that treat, toy, food, or attention! If you train a lot it could be a sign for, “I’m ready for training!”

 

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A very obvious sign of discomfort is licking the lips or nose. Dogs can do this for many reasons, including yummy food left on their nose. However, if they didn’t just enjoy a meal or treat they are sending a clear message-please back away/leave me alone/I’m uncomfortable. Oreo uses this language a lot. She does that when I’m taking pictures, when seeing a stranger, dog, or anything that makes her uncomfortable. If this doesn’t work, she will usually try to turn away, or move away. It’s important to pay attention to the smaller signals such as licking the lips-otherwise dogs can escalate to showing their teeth, growling, snapping, or even biting. They have  many ways to tell us they are uncomfortable/scared/or want to be left alone, we just need to listen.

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A dog who is staring or at attention is alert and sees something interesting/scary/etc. You may see your dog’s tail go rigid and up in the air frozen. You may also see your dog lift one paw in the air. This mean your dog senses something. In my case, this usually means something scary or super exciting is near. This could end up being a squirrel to chase, or a person/dog nearby. In the first picture Oreo is looking for a chipmunk in the woods-she hears the pitter patter of leaves. In the second picture, Oreo is ready to attack something super scary for her-the vacuum! She is saying I’m scared and I’m going to attack if you don’t move away! The signal of freezing, paw up, still tail up in the air, or staring helps me be ready for stimuli. I make sure I have my treats out and on alert for any loose dogs or brace myself for a squirrel chase!

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These are my sister’s dogs. The play bow, or running side by side is usually a sign of-let’s play!! If you look, the dog on the right seems to be shifting his weight to move away, and his tail is a little stiffer in the air. This is because he’s saying-leave me alone-I’m old and tired little puppy! However, the pup on the left is saying come on-play with me!

 

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Whale eye-notice her eye is very large-it’s not the cute puppy eyes that want food. Whale eye is when you can see the whites of your dog’s eyes. Usually this happens when your dog keeps their head in the same position but follows you with their eyes. Whale eye=stress. If your dog is showing the whites of his or her eyes it means they are stressed or uncomfortable. Oreo uses this many times too. I’m very thankful she communicates well now, and I can read her signals. In this picture she is uncomfortable because I am getting close with a scary camera. She is trying to tell me she is stressed. Oreo uses this many times when she is super tired/grouchy or feeling sick. If I want to play/pet her and she’s feel lousy we know she will watch us this way. If you have a food/space/toy/bone possessive dog, many times they will continue eating/playing/etc but watch you as you walk around or near them. Definitely back off & if you don’t have a positive trainer for that situation, make sure you get one!

Other ways our dogs communicate:

Yawning-if it’s in the morning-they are probably tired/waking up, however, yawning is usually a way for your dog to calm down. If she is stressed when we are walking, this will help calm her down. However, if your dog is doing this while you are doing something new, or are too close-this is a signal they are stressed.

Sniffing-maybe there is something interesting to smell, but if you are in a street or somewhere where your dog is sniffing incessantly it means I am ignoring what is stressing me out (usually a dog for Oreo).

Ears flat laying on head- This is a sign your dog is very stressed or scared. Oreo tends to only do this at the vet.

Shaking- I am sick or very scared.

Head turns or looks away– I want peace-I’m moving away from what is scary or stressful, please leave me alone. Oreo will do this sometimes with other dogs, but many times does it when she is very tired at night. Her thyroid is a continuing medical condition we are monitoring, but her levels cause her to be grouchy & very tired sometimes. When going to pet her in the evening, if she wants to be left alone, she turns her head away. It’s very smart of her & since she knows we listen to her it’s an easy way for her to tell us she’s uncomfortable.

Shaking whole body as if shaking off water after swimming (but not wet & didn’t go swimming)– I’m releasing stress! Oreo does this during our walks when she is stressed-I definitely reward this motion as she is trying to calm herself.

Panting- If it’s not very hot-then your dog is stressed. This happens on the way to the vet-Oreo pants very loudly.

Wagging tail-this can be complete opposites. Your dog could be very anxious, or very happy. Researchers now say that the direction of the tail wagging will tell you which one. They are saying that if the tail is wagging to the left the dog is anxious, to the right it means they are happy. I haven’t seen this, but I do read other signals with tail wagging. There have been times my parents thought Oreo was happy to see some neighbor or stranger because her tail was wagging, only to find if they brought her close she started jumping and trying to nip their shirt and barking. I personally think it’s hard to see the direction of the wag, so I look for panting, ears down, crouching, and other signals to show she is stressed. I fortunately know her so well I usually know when she is wagging her tail when she’s scared and take her out of the situation or give her more space. If you have any doubt-back out! Better safe than sorry.

Growling- this is a signal you need to take seriously, if you ignore this signal which means I’m really stressed-leave me alone, then it can escalate to snaps and bites. Oreo actually started growling at 8 months and we knew she was genetically reactive & pursued an excellent trainer.

Snaps-You aren’t listening-next step I’m biting. If you have a dog that snaps I recommend finding a positive trainer. Oreo did this when she was younger before we enlisted the help of a reactive trainer. We didn’t know when she was stressed and what was bothering her until we learned her language.

Biting-You didn’t listen, I was really scared/uncomfortable and asked you to leave me alone, but you didn’t.

Many times dog owners state that their dog was always so friendly and loving, but out of nowhere it bit their child/neighbor/friend, etc. Even friendly dogs who never show any snapping/biting/or growling can be pushed over the edge when they are being teased/tortured/or put in a very scary or uncomfortable situation. It is important for people to pay attention and listen to their language. We don’t speak the same language, but like meeting a person who speaks another language, their are signals or signs we can read to find out what the other person or canine is trying to tell us. Listen to what your dog is telling you.

 

 

 

Management vs. Training

Can any amount of training or management be stressful?

Yes!

Managing your dog means not allowing your dog to be in stressful situations. For example, if your dog is stressed out by parents, don’t bring your dog to the party. Management is thinking through what you will allow your dog to see/do/etc and where they will be…basically controlling the situation. When are times I manage my dog? I manage my dog every single day in many different ways without even thinking about it anymore, it comes naturally & part of the routine.

  • Avoiding crowded parks & areas
  • Avoiding big parties
  • Turning away from an oncoming dog
  • Getting more distance between us and a dog while on a walk
  • Bringing the dog to another room or out back when someone is at the door
  • Leaving her alone when she is sleeping

Can some management be too much? Yes, of course. There is a balance between training & management. Some people choose to manage more, other train. I like to have a nice blend of both. Everyone should do what works best for their dog & themselves.

If someone over manages this can lead to stress of the part of the owner and sometimes the dog. For example, if your dog is scared of other dogs that doesn’t mean you should lock your dog in the house and never let them go out or see another dog. You will need to use training in conjunction with management to allow your dog to move forward. With too much management, a dog cannot grow.

Can you over train your dog? I don’t think dogs can get tired of training if you do it correctly. If you use positive training & make it fun, your dog will love it! However, if you push for long periods of time and use negative punishment your dog may only get worse. Training should be in short periods, especially training which pushes them mentally or physically. If you see your dog getting stressed, stop and try another time-training is supposed to be fun!

For example, if you are training your dog with parallel walking with another dog 10 feet away, do a few walks back and forth. Observe how the dogs are reacting and if they are both paying attention to the owner and looking relaxed, move a few steps closer. Do a few walks back and forth (maybe 20 feet or so). After this probably only around 10 minutes have gone by. However, if your training your reactive dog, you know they may not be physically tired, but they are definitely mentally tired. Take a break of at least 15 minutes, but only do this a few times a day. Some exercises are particularly stressful for dogs, you need to gauge your dog’s stress levels.

Training & management=success. Too much of either could lead to disaster. You want to make sure you use management so you don’t put your dog in a stressful situation that may make them regress. Additionally, you want to train so management is easier and less. Both work hand in hand.

DSCN4337Oreo is relaxing here while her grandpa & dad are building a garden. In this situation she is managed because she is on-leash, but she is also getting training since her mom is standing nearby with treats when she sees a dog. Oreo doesn’t love strangers, but with time she learns to be relaxed and enjoy their company.

 

As reactive dog parents, we need to ask ourselves questions constantly that many other people don’t even take a second to think about.

  • Should I take my dog to the party?
  • How can I avoid that dog/person/bike/etc as I’m walking so that my dog doesn’t get over threshold?
  • How can I bring my dog to the vet without causing too much stress?
  • What will I do with my dog when I have people over?
  • Should I consider anxiety medicine for my canine?
  • Do I need window film so my dog doesn’t bark out the window all day?
  • What do I have to cover the car windows so my dog doesn’t lose it?
  • Did I remember dog treats on my walk?

The questions could go on forever and we are always asking them. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as any dog owner will ask and remind themselves of various things from time to time. However, we are often on high alert for things that stress out our dog, especially when there is change or they are outside their normal environment. I wanted to take a minute to thank all of the pet parents out there dealing with reactive dogs. It definitely isn’t easy and we are very stressed at times, but remember you are saving a dog’s life, your dog. You are taking the time to train your dog or manage the surroundings so your dog can have a happy life, even if your dog doesn’t get to go with you everywhere.

Sometimes we forget to appreciate all of the work we do until someone points it out. Recently I was at the vet and got an amazing compliment. My vet told me how amazing of a job we (my husband and I) have done with Oreo. She said it’s made such a difference and Oreo doesn’t need to be muzzled or anything during her vet exam. Furthermore, she told me without us, she knows Oreo would’ve been dead in another family and we have saved her life.

Life is crazy and there’s always things to worry & stress about, but little reminders of why we do what we do (help reactive dogs) make it all worth it. Okay, the dog kisses, happy wagging tails, and smiles also help! 10371611_10202676837374547_1549858418175138866_n

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

Planning for Surgery

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Sorry for the blogging silence-it’s been a long summer. First my sister was in the hospital for two weeks with cardiac issues, then I had to have an emergency gallbladder removal. This brings up my next subject-planning for surgery.

Sometimes, you plan to have surgery, sometimes life happens and you end up in the hospital. Whether it is planned or not you should always have a plan for your pet. Here are some things to think about ahead of time to ensure your pet is cared for:

1. Who will take your dog out or for walks?

2. Who will feed your pet?

3. If your pet is on a special diet or has allergies, keep these listed next to their food.

4. Does your dog take medication? If so, keep a list or medicine and dosages.

5. If you are home recovering from surgery, is your dog very jumpy and excitable? If so, you may want a relative or friend to watch your dog a few days while you recover enough to interact with your dog.

6. Do you have your vet’s phone number listed somewhere in case of emergency?

7. Try to keep somewhat of a routine, especially if your dog is reactive or easily stressed out.

While I was in the hospital, Oreo didn’t see me for a few days and spent the first night home alone without company. After surgery I spent a week at my parent’s house to recover. Oreo was brought over to my parents house to spend time with me after a week. However, I had many visitors and with all of the change she became very stressed out. She ended up snapping at my mom when she bent to pick up a cup near the dog. Oreo immediately whimpered. I’m not sure if it was just the build up of stress or if she thought my mother was a neighbor (the neighbor was next to our yard line upsetting the dog).

Whatever it was, Oreo became extremely stressed and stuck by my side-I’m sure worried that I might disappear again. I ended up having my husband bring her home a few days because I came home so she could get back into the routine and relax.

Emergencies happen and I was lucky to have my husband who could take care of Oreo but not everyone has someone else. Make sure you have some kind of plan…just in case, and try to keep it routine so you don’t end up stressed and either does your pup!

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.

Do You Watch or Take Action?

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What do you do when you see someone using hurtful training techniques, being rough with a dog, or harming a dog? Or do you take action??

This question came to my mine while at my sister’s house and witnessing inappropriate behavior toward a neighbor’s dog. We walked up to get my sister’s dogs from the neighbors who were watching them. They just adopted a female black lab who is around 6 months old. She is what you picture a typical black lab-full of never-ending energy. As soon as we walked up the hill to their house the dog bolted right towards us, jumping and snapping at our fingers. I decided to ask for a sit, however, the dog doesn’t seem to know what sit means. So, I decide to turn my body so the dog doesn’t get any attention from me for jumping like a jack-rabbit.

This is where I cringe. The neighbor-we’ll call him “Bob”. Bob runs over and starts yelling at the dog “NO!! BAD DOG” and grabs her collar and yanks her hard to the side. As soon as Bob lets go of her collar she goes right back to jumping on us to greet us. Of course this is where I curse myself, I should’ve had treats in my pocket as I usually do. As the dog jumps on us Bob grabs her skim behind her neck and reprimands her with harsh words and a tug of the skin. Bob then lays her on the ground and holds her dog for a minute covering her muzzle. (Ahh! At this moment I want to push him off the dog and scream at the top of my lungs). Luckily, he let go before I could push him.

My question to you is what would you do in this situation?

A. Punch the guy and tell him he’s a jerk
B. Educate him on dominance and tell him about positive training
C. Run the other way
D. Offer to help with training

Although some of the answer choices are silly, we run a fine line telling someone else how to treat their dog. You don’t want to scream or sound like you are scolding them, otherwise they will shut down towards positive training and never know the error of their ways. However, you don’t want to let the training (if you would call it that—I’d call it ABUSE) go on. What I decided to do was ask him about training and he mentioned he needed some help, so I offered to help him and told him a little bit about positive training and starting with some education on rewards instead of punishments. Next time I see him I’m heading over there with my clicker and treats to hopefully transform their thoughts on “training” and what is right and what is wrong. Unfortunately, many of the people in the rural area up there see nothing wrong with holding their dogs down and following some outdated and abusive trainers tactics-that’s where he learned them from. Surprisingly enough you wouldn’t guess his profession–he’s a minister!!! I sure hope a minister would find much more pleasure giving the dog rewards instead of using hurtful methods of punishment.

When I’ve seen people using choke collars I want to run up to them and tell them the damage they are doing to their dog and how horrible it is…it’s so hard to stand by and watch people abuse their dogs like that. What do you do?

Have you ever encountered someone hurting their dog with negative punishments? What did you do??

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!