February 21, 2007 "But we want a puppy so our kids can grow up with it."

February 21, 2007

But we want a puppy so our kids can grow up with it”.

There is NOTHING in the world as wonderful as a puppy...I think puppy breath should be bottled and sold! Puppies are cute and cuddly and fun! But the reality is this: Most dogs are taken to pounds or shelters when the dog is between 8 months and 2 years old. That is the age of what I call the "terrible twos" of dog years when all dogs will assert their dominance in the pack, which is now your family, and if you don’t know how to speak "dog" you will find yourself at your wits end trying to endure the accidents, chewing, jumping, destroyed personal articles and general "bratty" behavior. Most people can’t deal with that, and sadly many dogs are given up and subsequently euthanized due to lack of room at the shelters. I choose not to have a puppy because I know I do not have the time to put into training it with my family, business and lifestyle. I prefer dogs that are adult in age, past the chewing stage, and a bit more mellow and easy to train.
I am a huge supporter of rescues. Here is a fact I’ll bet not many of you know. On http://www.petfinder.com/www.petfinder.com at any given time there are more than 110,000 dogs and more than 91,000 cats in the United States alone looking for homes. There are pets of all breeds, sizes and ages. There are also rescues organizations for everything from horses, llamas, and farm animals to rabbits, guinea pigs, pocket pets, and assorted reptiles. We live in a throw away society but what people fail to realize is that these animals are dependant on humans for survival. You can’t just toss out a cat and figure, "well it can catch mice and live" or "somebody will find him and take him in" when you are tired of dealing with your rambunctious Labrador and you take him for a "ride" out in the country. The vast number of animals abandoned die by automobiles or suffer a lingering death from starvation.
Honestly I was shocked to find out there are so many rescue organizations out there! There are several in Indiana and only a few are listed on www.petfinder.com. Pick a breed and look it up. There are hundreds of rescues out there that are currently fostering dogs and cats and other animals waiting for a forever home. When I heard about rescues, I assumed it was the humane society or local dog pound. I was very wrong. There are breed rescues that many of the pounds will call whenever they see a breed that they specialize in. For instance there is Sheltie Rescue of Greater Lafayette who specializes in the rescue and adoption of Shetland Sheepdogs, or Shelties as they are commonly called. This is the breed they work with almost exclusively because they know all about them and can match up potential adoptive families to the dog. Another wonderful thing about rescues is they can tell you all the quirks about a particular dog, whether or not it gets along with other animals or children and they have all the veterinary work taken care of before you adopt, spaying or neutering is already done and vaccines, heart worm test and medication and any dental or medical issues the pet may have will be addressed. Your adoption fee may be higher than the city dog pound or shelter but there are advantages to adopting this way. You can focus on a particular breed and you get a pet with the assurance of no unwanted pregnancy, and they have usually been fostered for a period of time and they know what behavioral issues if any, the pet has.
The other thing people fail to consider when they see that cute little puppy is what breed it is and what it was originally bred to do. If you don’t want holes dug in your backyard, do not get a terrier. They were bred to hunt for vermin underground. I had one client tell me that they purposely cut their dogs nails back to the quick so they bled and hurt so the dog would not dig up the yard. It was a Rat Terrier. They are bred to dig up rats. Was that fair to the dog? Not all dogs are perfect for all families. I have guinea pigs for pets. therefore I can’t have a terrier, that’s vermin to them and they focus intently on them. You can’t get their attention away from the cage and if given the opportunity they will kill them. If you are wanting a very obedient dog, you still have to remember that hounds will either follow their nose, or they could be a "sight hound" such as a Greyhound and if they see a squirrel or rabbit . . . all obedience training is out the window. You can’t fight nature. You have to be prepared for it.
Ask yourself a few questions before you look for your perfect dog. How large of a dog can I afford to feed, vet, exercise, groom or have groomed. Do I have time to care for a puppy? Would an older dog that has already been housetrained work out better? Do you have kids? What ages? Itty bitty dogs and itty bitty kids are not a good combination. Face it kids are rough on dogs, unintentionally of course but they are. And small dogs can be injured or killed by accidentally hugging the dog too hard. Some big dogs knock over little kids, again unintentionally. Good training helps solve that. I do what Cesar Millan "The Dog Whisperer" does. I go to peoples home, observe what is going on and show people how to be the leader of the pack and stop problem behaviors. Once you understand how to communicate with your dog, you will have the dog of your dreams! But first, you have to understand Dog Speak.

February 17, 2007 Dogs are just children with fur

February 7, 2007

Dogs are just children with fur

Some of you may have heard the expression “Dogs are just children with fur.” Well speaking from experience, I can tell you how true that really is! I see many people daily and usually they refer to their dog as their “baby.” But I really want you to know that dogs are just like a 2-year-old child, forever! No matter how old the dog is, or what breed they are basically all the same and are figuratively speaking, a 2- year-old child.
For instance, a 2-year-old child will pick stuff up off the floor and put it in their mouths. So will your dog. A 2-year-old child would never be left unattended outside, yet how many folks let their dog run loose? Would you let a child wander around outside without any supervision? Of course not, why? Because they could wander into the street and be killed, they could be kidnapped, they could get hurt! So can your dog.
2-year-old children can be hard to understand when they talk. So is your dog. How many times have you looked at your dog and said “what?” They give you “the look” but you don’t exactly know what “the look” means. Sometimes they bark . . . and bark . . . and bark . . . so you yell at them to be quiet, but WHAT are they trying to tell you? Are they hungry? Frustrated? Need to go out and potty? Is there someone snooping around the house? Intruders? The mailman? How many of us really pay attention to their signals?
2-year-old children need a routine and structure. So does your dog. You can put a 2-year-old child in a playpen or enclosed area to keep them safe, but you don’t leave them in it 24 hours a day and give them no attention at all, except for maybe food and water. A kennel outside is just that. A playpen but they never get out of it. They seldom get attention. If you want a well-behaved dog that is a member of your family, you need to treat it as a member. That means supervision, love, discipline, a routine, playtime, etc.
If your 2-year-old child wasn’t feeling well, and you didn’t know what was wrong, you’d be taking them to the doctor. Yet so many people don’t bother taking the family pet to the vet because they are hoping they “get over it.” Kids get vaccines, well child visits, etc. Dogs rarely see a vet until it’s an emergency then it’s a life or death case.
Don’t get me wrong, I see plenty of spoiled pooches that are treated WAY better than most children, that in itself can be an issue, just like children, if you give them everything they want whenever they want it, they become spoiled and have tantrums and turn into creatures nobody wants to be around . . . so can your dog.
If a two-year-old child is going thru potty training, and has an accident, you simply clean them up and start again, watching more carefully next time. Yet when a puppy or dog has an accident, they are smacked with a newspaper, or have their face rubbed into it. Would you do that to a child? I think not. In fact the best advice I can give someone when potty training a dog is if you find an accident on the floor, roll up a newspaper, and smack YOURSELF in the head and say “I should’ve been watching my puppy! I should’ve been watching my puppy!”