Socialize to Get the Best of Dog-on-Dog Aggression

... or maybe this post should be called "Don't Be a Victim of Breed Stereotyping" or "How to be a Better Alpha Dog in Your Pack."

Once again, this morning, Rusty (a frequent victim of breed profiling because of his size) and I met up with one of his pals, a pit bull who we've noticed other owners avoiding. This particular pit bull couldn't be any sweeter.

Same with another pit bull who lives a couple of houses down from us.

Same with a rottweiler who we meet up with occasionally.

There are aggressive dogs that we come across, some even of the breeds that I'm talking about here, but more often than not it's not the breed, but the situation that the dog is put in by its owner. There have been a couple dozen times over the last year that we've had some issues with dogs (both Rusty and his pals) playing aggressively and one of them gets a bit too competitive and wants to pin the other dog. Yelping and barking ensue, but no one has ever been bit.

Most of the other situations could have been avoided, including:

  • Getting barked at by dogs whose owners yank them hard out of the way when they see us coming - I've done that myself to Rusty, and can tell you in that case he treats that yank like there is something wrong that I'm trying to communicate.
  • Receiving a bite from a scared cornered dog - I could see this one coming as we tried to pass another dog and owner coming down a narrow path. It was a rather small dog and Rusty responded well to my commands to leave it alone (although he did swat the little fella with his paw trying to get the other dog to release.)
  • Getting nipped at by an unaltered dog - To be fair, I've seen this other dog (a corgi) be perfectly nice to other dogs. The other owner did everything right, and we got a little too close. The meeting at first was perfectly fine, then the little guy struck. I'm not sure if Rusty being altered later in life made a difference (nothing in my research tells me it should), but unaltered dogs and he get a little more anxious. 
  • Dogs that shake or hide - There's one pug that shakes when we see it, no thanks to the owner who pulls is aside makes it face away from other dogs of any size that it comes across. The unfortunate part is that Rusty LOVES pugs.

Just to be clear once again, in all of the other situations where I have seen trouble it's been because of dogs not properly socialized.

I can't stress the point enough. If your dog is afraid of other dogs or over protective of you, it's going to act out in a way that is most effectively going to remove it from that situation. Any time I have had issues with my "unadoptable dog" and others in which we've been allowed to get the dogs together under calmer situations, the pooches have become fast friends (except that corgi... I'll continue to work on that one to at least get Rusty to remain calm while he's passing.)

Good luck and make it a point to make a new dog-friend today and always ask before letting two dogs meet as courtesy to the owner and other dog alike.

Photo credit - Attribution Some rights reserved by Beverly & Pack

Loyalty at the end of the long hard road

Old dog's know a good thing when they find it.

People may forget where they came from and who helped to get them there, but the same cannot be said of old dogs. Through the trials that many dogs, especially shelter dogs, face in their relatively short time on this planet, you can bet that they know what a good thing is when it finally comes upon them.

For those of you who are senior dog lovers, the picture above is common. You're watching TV, reading, and/or are otherwise occupied and you look up and see a pair of eyes, clouded by age, staring back at you. They're watching your every move. Maybe they're waiting to see if you're headed to the kitchen. Maybe they were closed a moment ago and they opened sensing you stirring.  It doesn't really matter. All they know is that they're now looking at the person who cares most about them in the world and they're going to look after you every bit as much as you have looked after them.

People may forget, but even those old dogs that you meet that bounced from home to home looking for a place to lay their weary bones, spent months or years in shelters, were deemed "unadoptable" because of their age or unacceptable behavior, know that when they've found someone that they can trust that they can let the love flow freely. Sometimes the road has been so hard for these dogs that it can take weeks, months, or occasionally years to build trust, but when they know that they are yours and you are there's that it's OK to sit back and be grateful for all of the things that they have going for them in the now and isn't that what we are all looking for?

The Lifelong Commitments of the Senior (Dog)

Adopting a dog is a lifelong commitment. This holds true every bit as much for you as it does for the dog. I bring this up because one of the top reasons why senior dogs end up in the shelter is because their owners pass away without leaving their dog to someone.

Recently I've heard of older folks adopting puppies from shelters, and while it's great that any dog can be saved, there really needs to be put some thought put behind making sure that if a dog is going to outlive you, that you make arrangements for taking care of him or her. 

The cause of this problem is obvious: people aren't inclined to believe that their pet is going to outlive them. A dog lives somewhere between 10 and 20 years and you're sure you have at least that much time, right?

This One's for Daffy

Daffy dog smiling for the camera
Daffy might just be on the verge of being a senior dog, but she's been through enough ups and downs for several of her doggie lifetimes. I wanted to share her story to reach out to those animal lovers among us who could see their way to help her past her current challenges to be a healthy senior pooch one day.

One of the most important things that Daffy has going for her is a forever home with Ingrid. Ingrid's previous dog passed two years prior and had been told about Daffy twice by different people before deciding that fate had meant that she and Daffy should be together.

Only through Ingrid's patience and letting Daffy work things out on her schedule (nearly a year after they started  living together) helped the pup trust again after having been neglected by her previous owners.

Unfortunately Daffy's real challenge was just beginning. Tremors severe enough to shake Daffy off the bed began to regularly plague her. It was only after several visits to the veterinarian that they determined the next steps were to get her to a specialist with the correct equipment to diagnose and treat the poor old girl.

This is where we come in, folks.

Ingrid is unable to foot the entire bill for travel (nearly 250 miles away from her small town in Kansas), board, and paying for Daffy's treatment. The Barker's Dozen has already done the heavy lifting by setting up the means to help them out.  For the remainder of the month, they'll be donating 50% of their profits to assist Daffy in getting the treatment that she needs, as well as setting up a ChipIn page if anyone is interested donating even a couple of dollars to help. I'd personally appreciate any support that you can give.

Daffy and Ingrid's full story can be found here:

An Open Letter to the Rescuer of One Shy Old Dog

Hi Sue,

I'm not sure if you remember me (or even if you're the same Sue from the Dog Squad that I met four years back), but you helped me to adopt, Coal, an older black border collie/flat-coated retriever mix.  He was in the Carlsbad shelter when you brought him over to the Encinitas Petsmart event on October 13, 2007.  He was a shy little guy whose only information was that he was brought into the shelter as a stray in August and that he had a bandanna that another dog at the shelter took away.

I'm attaching two pictures for you.  One is our first day together.  The other is one over two and a half years later with his favorite bandanna. I renamed him Boo Boo, since he looked like a bear and I knew he'd become a great sidekick.    

Gaining his trust wasn't easy. His first day he tried to escape over the back porch railing.  He wouldn't sit in the same room with me until about the third month and I noticed that when I would make quick movements he'd flinch or go hide. That said, he was always up for a walk and getting a belly rub and six month in, he wagged his tail for the first time. It was almost a year when he first came over to me and sat down touching me as I sat on the floor.