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Dog Parks. Are they worth the risk? By: Nicole Wilde

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Recently, a woman took her dog to the dog park for some fun and exercise. She envisioned him frolicking with other dogs and coming home happy and tired. Instead, the poor dog came away needing surgery to save his life, along with more than 10 puncture wounds. I saw the photos; suffice it to say they were both sickening and heart-wrenching. Just a few days later, another woman posted on Facebook about an encounter at the same dog park. Her dog had been attacked, had suffered serious damage to a limb, and needed to be rushed to the vet. The owner of the other dog refused to acknowledge that her dog had done anything wrong, and fled the scene.

Fortunately, both of these dogs will recover—physically, at least. As anyone who has ever suffered a bodily assault knows, the toll goes far beyond physical injury. The extent of emotional damage to any dog who has been attacked depends on the seriousness of the attack and on the temperament of the individual dog. For some dogs this type of encounter can, understandably, result in a fear of other dogs. And as any trainer worth her salt knows, that can translate to fear-based reactivity, which most people call aggression.

Does every encounter at a dog park result in physical or emotional damage to dogs? Of course not. But you might be surprised at how many dogs are having no fun at all, despite what their owners might think. When I was putting together my seminar Dissecting the Dynamics of Dog-Dog Play(click the link for the DVD), I needed lots of video of dogs playing. One of the places I spent time at was our local dog park. I filmed hours and hours of various breeds and sizes of dogs playing together. Although I was already aware that some dogs enjoyed playing more than others and that some encounters were definitely not positive, when I reviewed the footage in slow motion, I was shocked. Sure, there were examples of safe, non-threatening play. But there was also a myriad of instances in which dogs were practically traumatized as their owners stood by, totally unaware. One example comes instantly to mind: Within seconds of a man and his medium-sized mixed breed dog entering the park, the dog was rushed by other dogs who wanted to inspect him, as is typical in any canine group. But one of the greeters clearly scared the newcomer, who then lunged and snapped. The owner gave his dog a verbal warning for that defensive action and kept walking deeper into the park. Another dog approached and this time, with his tail tucked, the dog snapped and lunged more intently. The owner grabbed him by the collar and chastised him. Over the next five minutes, the dog had four more encounters that resulted in his being punished by the owner, each time more harshly. It would have been clear to anyone versed in canine body language that the dog was afraid, and was becoming more and more reactive because he was on the defense. It was difficult to stand there filming, and I considered aborting to go and speak with him. Just then, a woman who was a regular there approached and struck up a conversation with the man. Thankfully, she was able to convince him that his dog was scared and to leave the park. I’m sad to say that this was far from being the only negative encounter I filmed. More importantly, this sort of thing happens daily at dog parks across the world.

By now you’re probably thinking, Gee Nicole, how do you really feel? The thing is, I’ve seen the flip side as well. I’ve watched a group of ladies who meet at the park most mornings with their dogs. They’re savvy about canine body language, and although they enjoy socializing with each other as their dogs play, they constantly monitor the action. If play begins to become too heated, they create a time out by calling their dogs to them for a short break before releasing them to play again. In this way, they prevent arousal from escalating into aggression. The dogs all know each other and for the most part get along well. I have absolutely no problem with this type of scenario. Unfortunately, it’s far from being the norm. The typical scene at a dog park includes a random assortment of dogs whose owners range from being absolutely ignorant about dog behavior to being well informed, with most of the population falling somewhere in the middle, tending toward the lower end. And why not? They’re not dog professionals, but loving owners who simply want their dogs to get some exercise and have a good time. In most cases, they’re not aware of the subtle or not-so-subtle signals that could indicate danger, or even that dangers exist. Comments like, “Ah, they’re dogs, they’ll work it out,” and “Oh, he’s fine” abound. It’s strange if you think about it: if you were the parent of a young child, would you send him in blindly to play with a group of kids that possibly included bullies and criminals? Wouldn’t you at the very least stand there and observe the play for a few minutes before allowing him to join the fray? If you did allow the child to participate, would you not keep an eye on him and leave if you felt there was a potential threat? And yet, at the dog park, the majority of owners never do those things.

In the best of all worlds, there would be mandatory education for dog park attendees as well as a knowledgeable staff member or volunteer at every park to monitor the action and to stop dogs who are known to be aggressive from entering in the first place. Perhaps a membership model would make this possible. Unfortunately, that is not the reality. And so, it falls to we owners to be advocates and protectors for our dogs. That means if you absolutely insist on taking your dog to a dog park, that you scan the environment before entering, that you monitor your dog’s play even while chatting with other owners, and that you intervene even to the point of leaving if necessary when you feel something is not right, even if that means facing social ostracism. Personally, I prefer play dates with known quantities rather than a park full of potential aggressors who might do serious physical or emotional damage to my dogs. If I do take mine into the dog park to run around, it’s during off hours when the park is empty. You might find this over the top or even paranoid. That’s okay. If you heard all of the stories I’ve heard over the years and seen all of the damage I’ve seen, you might think twice about whether dog parks are worth the risk.

Board Your Pup in Our Home When you Go Away!

By | Class Updates, Continuing Education, Dog Blog, Special Deals & Coupons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Going on a trip? Save a little $!

See Spot Sit is now offering boarding for your furry family members.  Going on Vacation? Going on a business trip?  Let us keep your pooch in our home! We keep staff on site 24/7 so that som
one will be there to give your dog everything they need and more!  our goal is to give you the peace of mind that comes with leaving your beloved pet with a good friend or trusted family member.

If you already have a trip planned or you want to plan a trip, pre-pay and get 15% off for boarding or board and train.  Board and train means obedience and/or help rehabilitating a behavior that you aren’t crazy about!  We can lay the foundation for a new behavior and help you learn some new behaviors too!
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My belief is that our behavior and actions greatly affect the behavior and actions of our dogs!  This belief is well founded and proven out by lots of studies done by people more educated and lots smarter than me!  Luckily, we can reap the benefits of those studies! I have devoted my life to YOUR dogs and mine and learning what makes them “tick” (pardon the pun).

Let us welcome your dog into our family while you are gone and save some money by pre-paying for services!

For more information, please fill out the “Contact Us” form on the home page.

We do small play group socialization and group dogs together not just by size but by social skills and level of comfort.  Never more than 4-5 dogs per human.  Here, we treat the dogs as part of the family and I live on premises.  We also offer some training services while boarding if needed. They won’t be in the kennel or crate (your preference) except for sleeping at night and rest time during the day.  Dogs MUST have some down time during the day.  They naturally will choose to rest or nap several times during a day.  If they do not get that, they can become stressed and overwrought, leading to stress and anxiety which can cause them to be “grumpy” and reactive.

At night, some of them will sleep on a bed in the “doggy sleep room” without  being crated or kenneled if that is what they are accustomed to and they sleep through the night.

I want people to feel that they are leaving their dog or dogs with a trusted friend or family.  This work is my passion and I love every dog who comes through my path.  I have worked with over 1800 dogs for training and/or behavior rehabilitation.

Pricing:

Boarding, with socialization is $45 a night.  Each additional dog is $30 per night.

If a dog has aggression issues, we will assess them first and depending on the level of aggression, the price may be different.  Severely aggressive dogs will be required to receive behavior modification if they are to be boarded here so Board and Train prices will apply.  We hope that if a dog has aggression issues, their human guardian will choose to allow us to help them while they are here.  That can always be discussed at the time of intake.

All shot records are required of course and food needs to be provided, especially if they are on a special brand or type.

Our “stock food” is 4-Health from Tractor supply and is a very high quality food.  We use the grain free choices.

This is Not Day Care! This is specialized socialization in small groups.

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Sometimes our dogs can be shy or even fearful around other dogs and people.  Sometimes they are young and just need proper socialization.  What we offer are small groups for those dogs and they are with people and stable dogs so they can learn proper play skills and learn to feel confident and safe in our human world.  They are also in a “home” setting since this is my home 🙂

Half day: $15 (3 hours).  Packages of 10 visits (to be used within 3 months) can be purchased at a 5% discount.  Larger packages receive the same discount.

If they need to come every day, 5 days a week, for a half day or whole day, it’s 5% off for half day, full week packages and 10% off for full day, full week packages. 🙂

Nea and Susan :) A Success Story

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Image may contain: dog
‎Neakita

I just had to share this wonderful picture and story with you. Nea and I went with Carolyn and Djibril to Puppy Mugs at UALR on Saturday after training. I was very proud of Nea and the staff there. We walked up a flight of stairs AND down the flight of stairs. Nea was terrific! She didn’t pull and was only a little nervous on the way down. She paused halfway and looked up at me!! Yahooo!! I just calmly said “good girl! You’ve got this!” And she continued down the stairs. It was a surprisingly narrow stairwell! We waited for treats until we were on solid ground. When we arrived, there was a full hallway of people and dogs. I about had a panic attack. But I remembered MY training and knew I better change my attitude quickly!! Several people nearby tried to reach for Nea to pet her. I just said please don’t, she tends to be nervous and they backed up. Thanks to Carolyn’s quick thinking, Nea and I were allowed to wait in another empty hallway that others just passed through until it was our turn. As people and their dogs steadily streamed by us, Nea just sniffed and watched. I lavished her with treats! There was only one dog that she growled at. But it was quietly, brief and the owner had stopped to talk and was not paying attention to her own dog that was in Nea’s face. This was fantastic since, as you know, Nea doesn’t usually give a warning growl. When it was our turn to have pictures, the workers asked everyone to make a path, that a nervous dog was coming through. Then I told Nea, “with me” and walked my Queen of the world walk straight through the crowded hallway. Shoulders back, head up. People and dogs on both sides. Not one bark. Not one tug on the leash! We Rocked the Walk!! And look how relaxed she looks in the picture!! She sat and stayed for pictures and down stayed for more! Notice the leash laying flat on the ground! She wasn’t startled by the flashes but did want to investigate. The photographer did a few practice flashes and took the time to let Nea look through the room before we got started. And then walked back through the crowd like a champion!! I was so very proud of her!! And the staff was made up of students!!! Not professionals! They were so fantastic!

Thank you for all you have taught us!! Without you, this awesome Puppy Mug survival story wouldn’t be possible!!

Sincerely Amazed and Thankful!!

~Susan and Neakita

Breed Specific Legislation – Effective? Statistically Absolutely Not!

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http://www.aspcapro.org/resource/disaster-cruelty-animal-cruelty-animal-fighting/are-breed-specific-laws-effective

 

Are Breed-Specific Laws EffectiveEmail this page

Dealing with Reckless Owners and Dangerous Dogs in Your Community

Dogs permitted by their owners to run loose, and dogs who attack people or other animals, are real and often serious problems in communities across the country; but how to best address dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs can be a confusing and touchy issue.

“Breed-specific” legislation (BSL) is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain breeds completely in the hopes of reducing dog attacks. Some city/municipal governments have enacted breed-specific laws, as has the State of Ohio. However, the problem of dangerous dogs will not be remedied by the “quick fix” of breed-specific laws, or, as they should truly be called, breed-discriminatory laws.

It is worth noting that in some areas, regulated breeds include not just American Pit Bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, English bull terriers and Rottweilers, but also a variety of other dogs, including American bulldogs, mastiffs, Dalmatians, chow chows, German shepherds, Doberman pinschers, or any mix of these breeds – and dogs who simply resemble these breeds. On the bright side, many states (including New York, Texas and Illinois) favor laws that identify, track and regulate dangerous dogs individually, regardless of breed, and prohibit BSL.

Are Breed-Specific Laws Effective?

There is no evidence that breed-specific laws, which are costly and difficult to enforce, make communities safer for people or companion animals. For example, Prince George’s County, MD, spends more than $250,000 annually to enforce its ban on pit bulls. In 2003, a study conducted by the county on the ban’s effectiveness noted that “public safety is not improved as a result of [the ban],” and that “there is no transgression committed by owner or animal that is not covered by another, non-breed specific portion of the Animal Control Code (i.e., vicious animal, nuisance animal, leash laws).”

Following a thorough study of human fatalities resulting from dog bites, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) decided not to support BSL. The CDC cited, among other problems, the inaccuracy of dog bite data and the difficulty in identifying dog breeds (especially true of mixed-breed dogs). The CDC also noted the likelihood that as certain breeds are regulated, those who exploit dogs by making them aggressive will replace them with other, unregulated breeds.

What’s Wrong with Breed-Specific Laws?

BSL carries a host of negative and wholly unintended consequences:

  • Dogs go into hiding
    Rather than give up their beloved pets, owners of highly regulated or banned breeds often attempt to avoid detection of their “outlaw” dogs by restricting outdoor exercise and socialization and forgoing licensing, microchipping, and proper veterinary care, including spay/neuter surgery and essential vaccinations. Such actions have implications both for public safety and the health of these dogs.
  • Good owners and dogs are punished
    BSL also causes hardship to responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised, and well-socialized dogs who happen to fall within the regulated breed. Although these dog owners have done nothing to endanger the public, they are required to comply with local breed bans and regulations unless they are able to mount successful (and often costly) legal challenges.
  • They impart a false sense of security
    Breed-specific laws have a tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety. When limited animal control resources are used to regulate or ban a certain breed of dog, without regard to behavior, the focus is shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best chance of making our communities safer:

    • Dog license laws
    • Leash laws
    • Animal fighting laws
    • Anti-tethering laws
    • Laws facilitating spaying and neutering
    • Laws that require all owners to control their dogs, regardless of breed
  • They may actually encourage ownership by irresponsible people
    If you outlaw a breed, then outlaws are attracted to that breed. Unfortunately some people take advantage of the “outlaw” status of their breed of choice to bolster their own self image as living outside of the rules of mainstream society. Ironically, the rise of pit bull ownership among gang members and others in the late 1980’s coincided with the first round of breed-specific legislation.

What’s the Alternative to Breed-Specific Laws?

In the aforementioned study, the CDC noted that many other factors beyond breed may affect a dog’s tendency toward aggression—things such as heredity, sex, early experience, reproductive status, socialization, and training. These last two concerns are well-founded, given that:

  • More than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs.
  • An unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog.
  • A chained or tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than a dog who is not chained or tethered.
  • 97 percent of dogs involved in fatal dog attacks in 2006 were not spayed/neutered.
  • 78 percent were maintained not as pets, but rather for guarding, image enhancement, fighting or breeding.
  • 84 percent were maintained by reckless owners-these dogs were abused or neglected, not humanely controlled or contained, or allowed to interact with children unsupervised.

Recognizing that the problem of dangerous dogs requires serious attention, the ASPCA seeks effective enforcement of breed-neutral laws that hold dog owners accountable for the actions of their animals. For help in drafting animal control laws, contact the ASPCA’s Government Relations department.

more on crate training

By | Continuing Education, Dog Blog | No Comments

Remember you are the CEO, the minute you give in and let him call the shots, then you’ve lost the respect of your dog and it will be an uphill battle to train him from that point forward. As long as your dog sees you as the one in control at all times, then the task of teaching a new behavior (such as staying in a kennel for hours at a time) becomes easier over time, rather than harder.

 

#1.  Stick to your goal. And don’t be intimidated by your dog.

Introduce your dog to the crate by placing it in a ‘people’ area (kitchen or family room). Use an old towel or blanket for bedding. Put your dog’s toys and a few treats in the open crate, allowing your dog to come and go as he wishes.


Feed your dog in the crate with the door closed. Clean up any spills promptlyit’s very important for the crate to stay clean. Your dog doesn’t need to stay in his crate long, but should get comfortable eating his meal there.


Put your dog in the crate when he is tired and ready for a nap. As soon as you hear him start to wake up, go to him and take him outside. Do not let him out if he is barking or whining because this will reward him for being noisy.  – Never let your dog out until you give the release word!  He should stay inside even if the door is open until he hears the release cue.

 

#2.  Resist the urge to change things inside the kennel.

If they tear up their bed or any other “comfort items” leave all of the old shredded bedding inside his kennel (after closely inspecting and removing any small or dangerous parts).  Often this will stop them from shredding stuff in their kennel! Perhaps because is very little left to shred. Perhaps it was because it makes them finally feel in control and comfortable with their environment.

 

So, this may be one time when a little messiness doesn’t hurt… in fact it may HELP!

 

#3.  Slowly increase the amount of time you leave your dog in the kennel.

Leaving your dog for 4 hours in the first week or so of crate-training may be too much too soon.

Several smaller increments of time spent inside the crate, as opposed to just 1 or 2 long spells in a day is very often much more successful. To achieve this, you may have to disrupt your usual “routine” a bit.

 

#4.  Make your dog stay in the kennel when you’re home sometimes, too.

This is to teach them that:

  1. A) You call the shots; and
  2. B) It isn’t a bad thing to have to be in the crate.

To do this, you have to make them spend time inside the kennel for no reason — several times throughout the day. Since you will be home and they will know it (sometimes seeing you and sometimes not), it can help them begin to feel more comfortable inside the crate. Of course they always get a BIG reward any time they stayed in there quietly for a long period of time.

You can change up the things you stuff the Kong with and change up the “only in the crate” treats, adding an antler or hoof, etc.

These “positives” help to make it a pleasant experience for your dog.  

 

#5.  Never use the crate as a bargaining tool or as a form of punishment.

No matter what, you can never use the crate as a form of punishment… or, as a bargaining chip whenever you’re communicating with your dogs.

“Stop it, or you’re going in the crate!” will set you back a few weeks in the course of your crate-training process. Especially if you carry out your threats and make the dog(s) go in the kennel at a time when they were being “bad”.

It’s simply confusing to the dog.

So remember, time inside the crate should always be a positive experience.

 

#6.  Don’t force your dog inside the kennel.

This could mean that you have to adjust your personal schedule (or arrive late sometimes), simply because you haven’t allotted enough time to properly crate the dog, stuff the Kong with dog treats, put his favorite toys in the kennel, etc.

Your aim is for your dog to have a good experience with each and every aspect of the crate — from entering, to lying down, to standing up, to playing with *new* or “all-time favorite” dog toys, to snacking on his most favorite dog treats, to spending long hours inside the kennel, to the moment the door is opened and he’s eventually let out of the crate.

 

#7.  Never set your dog up for failure.

As with everything you want to train your dog, you should never set your dog up to fail. Forcing your dog inside the crate only increases his anxiety, and puts him on edge right from the start. This increases the likelihood that he will perform some form of destructive behavior inside the crate. You are setting him up to fail.

 

Instead, try this:

Set things up so that your dog always views himself as having succeeded. With crate-training… you should go through a series of baby steps where your dog is rewarded for spending even milliseconds inside the crate without barking or digging. This is setting him up to succeed! Your dog should always enter the kennel of his own free will. That is the first sign of success, and he should be rewarded dearly (with a special treat) for that tiny bit of success.

 

 #8.  Praise & reward like crazy whenever you spot even the tiniest bit of progress.

Give TONS of praise for being good in the crate. (“Good” is a relative term… “good” if he’s made some improvement over his past behaviors.)

 

WITH SEVERE CASES, IT MAY COME DOWN TO:

  • Every time you see LESS destruction inside the crate than the time before, you give MORE praise than the time before. It can start with the basic (unemotional) “Good boy. Good dog in the kennel.” This was immediately followed by a big bear hug, at which point, you both go outside for frolicking and fun in the backyard.
  • The next time, if there is even less destruction, you raise the pitch of your voice to sound even happier with the dog’s progress and physically show them with longer hugs (or whatever form of affection they love the best – some don’t like being hugged) and bigger smiles that you are very proud of him for being a “good boy inside the kennel.”
  • You get the picture.  The better the behavior in the crate, the more wonderful the rewarding praise, treats, fun games, etc., until your dog knows, without question, how incredibly proud you are of his achievement and how this FUN time together of hugging and praising will happen every time that he’s good inside the crate.
  • In the end, despite the fact that this process of crate training an adult dog can be actually torturous sometimes, the end result will be worth it.