Intro To Dog Handling

Intro To Dog Handling

Teaching your pup how to tolerate handling will set them up for a stress-free life navigating through the human world. Your pup may think you are the center of the universe, but it doesn’t mean they will never have to interact with the other planets in the solar system. Prepare them early in the following ways:

GROOMER:

We handle and physically praise our dogs in a variety of ways, but we very seldom come close to handling them in the same way the groomer does (think face hair tugging, knot pulling, brushing, washing, ear cleaning, and nail clipping). Help your dog be comfortable at the groomer by incorporating an unusual handling exercise into every day.  Manipulate their paw pads, give a treat, manipulate, treat, manipulate, treat. The next day choose something different. 

VET:

The same goes for the vet. How many of us regularly stick our fingers in our dog’s ears, mouth, eyes? How many of us look under their tails, squeeze their bellies, or restrain them as if they are about to get a shot? Probably not many. However, it is important they learn that this treatment is not reserved for the man/woman in the scary white coat. If you pup is at the vet, chances are they aren’t feeling too well. The least we can do is make sure the handling they receive is not adding to the discomfort. As with the grooming exercises, choose one to practice every day AND make a point to visit your vet regularly, even when your pup does not need to be there, just to get a few treats and leave!

KIDS:

Children are like tiny little aliens. Their movements are unpredictable, their sounds are unusual and loud, and they are naturally at your dog’s eye level at all times. What makes them worse is their general lack of canine body language awareness. They tend to pet by grabbing, pulling, patting, kissing, hugging, etc. All things that dogs can learn to tolerate but that no dog is born loving.  Help your pup prepare for interaction with a child by desensitizing them to these unique ways of handling in the safety of their own home and with the person they trust most, YOU!  

RELAX / SETTLE:

If your pup can relax, lay down, or better yet, be comfortable showing their belly/being on their back they are more likely to tolerate being handled. You can practice this at home by working on “cradling.” With small dogs this can be done in your arms, holding them like a baby with belly up. With larger dogs this can be done on the floor, holding them between your legs like a taco with dog filling. In both cases, the goal is to have a pup that is relaxed and not squirming. If they squirm, try not to immediately let them up/put them down. Instead, soothingly massage and praise them (possibly with an occasional treat, as long as it doesn’t create excitement) until they seem to melt into your arms/the ground. When they have relaxed you can release them with a very mellow “okay.”   

LEARN HOW-TO:

 

IMPORTANT! – If during training you notice any extreme discomfort (like growling, biting, or excessive fear) stop and consult a professional trainer before continuing on. Training is supposed to be fun, not traumatic, so don’t hesitate to ask for a second opinion if you have any questions or concerns.

Intro to Puppy Body Language

Intro to Puppy Body Language

Please note, this is an extremely short list of the most commonly used signals or the ones most often missed by parents!

For a more thorough list of signals, please stay tuned for our article on Canine Stress Signals.

1. YAWNING /SHAKING OFF:

If they didn’t JUST wake up from a nap or JUST exit a body of water, yawning and/or shaking off is actually your pup expressing mild anxiety or stretching to relieve stress. This is one of the most common stress signals. You may notice your puppy yawn during an especially intense training session or shake off after meeting a new friend.

2. LIP LICKING & TONGUE FLICKING:

If they didn’t JUST get a treat, a small flick of the tongue over the lips or nose is a sign of stress. This signal can relay an internal conflict or just a mild annoyance. You may notice your dog do this when you are being affectionate. This means they are a bit uncomfortable with that type of love and you should adjust.

3. WAGGING TAIL:

Just because their tail is wagging, doesn’t mean they’re “happy.” A tail that slopes down with only the very end wagging quickly could be an expression of mild anxiety and/or submission. That pup could be feeling intimidated, requiring you to back up or adjusting your approach. 

This dog has a little tail wag but the rest of his body (tail tucked, ears back, belly up) indicates his happiness to visit with the human is laced with anxiety or overwhelming desire for approval.  This pup would do well with a handler that can adjust their interactions to promote confidence!

This video shows you the variety in wags overall!  Take the quiz and see how you do!

4. WHOLE BODY POSITION:

Happy dogs have loose wiggly bodies. If they are loose, their face should also look calm, their body should be soft and relaxed (i.e., ears NOT held tightly back, body NOT hunched or cowering, tail loosely wagging in slight figure 8 pattern). Take the whole body into account when determining your pup’s emotional state. Every piece matters!

5. GROWLING:

Growling is a completely normal and appropriate form of communication for a puppy, especially if they feel their first stress signals were not recognized or respected.  Do not correct your pup for growling.

6. HACKLES:

Hackles describe the hair that sometimes raises up along the pup’s spine. This indicates a high arousal state that can be brought on by intense excitement or a desire to intimidate. It does NOT necessarily mean a dog is aggressive.

7. PLAY INVITATIONS:

Play bowing and twirling are common, polite, and appropriate invitations to play. Pawing, pouncing, humping, barking, neck mouthing, leg nipping, etc. are also common invitations to play, but are considered slightly to extremely pushy and depending on the other dog can be inappropriate altogether.

8. RUN / FREEZE:

When a puppy feels overly intimidated, they will either run or freeze. A running dog attracts a chasing dog, since running is normally an invitation to follow. This will of course make things worse. On the other hand, if during a social meet up your pup gets cornered by a pushy friend, they also may become so intimidated they cannot run and feel they have no choice but to fight. This is when fearful nipping often occurs. Socialization at a young age with APPROPRIATE play mates can help prevent these two cycles. Under all circumstances remember to be your pups advocate and, when needed, bodyguard!

For more information on Puppy Socialization stay tuned. And if you feel your pup may be especially nervous or fearful, learn about How to Bond with a Scared Dog.

Housebreaking: 10 Steps to Success

Housebreaking: 10 Steps to Success

Are you wondering how to potty train your puppy? Of course you are! This is top priority for all dog owners. Follow these 10 commandments for the best tips for housebreaking a puppy.

1. EXPECTATIONS & TIME

Dogs take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to housebreak in the best of circumstances. So settle in and don’t expect things to change overnight. The amount of time they can be expected to hold their potty during the day is roughly parallel to their age, and aging goes at its own pace regardless of your personal goals.

 

Daytime

 

NIGHTTIME

Dogs sleep longer at night and can often sleep through the night sooner than they can hold it during the day.

A conservative estimate of when they should start sleeping through the night is 3.5-4 months.

To encourage this – cut off water 30 minutes after dinner, feed dinner between 6-7p latest, and give your pup some extra stimulation between dinner and bedtime (instead of letting them slip into a pre-bedtime food coma).

2. TRIGGERS

 Sleeping     Eating

Drinking      Activity AND Stimulation

These are all precursors to potty.  Is your pup new to your home? Expect them to potty more often.  Did a guest just show up? Expect them to have to potty again, even if they just went out.

3. CONSISTENCY & PLANNING

Surely you have heard the phrase, Consistency is the key to success, and it is no different when training your dog.

LAYOUT & ROUTINE

You must consider the layout and routine of your potty training method and ensure everyone is managing them in the SAME EXACT WAY! For example;

  • Where is crate located?
  • Where are the potty pads laid out?
  • Where are they taken out to potty? And how are they taken out to potty (i.e., carried, on leash)?
  • What is the response for an accident? What is the response for potty in the right place?

 

PLANNING

Create a plan that is headed toward your ultimate goal. If you plan to have your pup potty outside, you may not want to start with potty pads. If you plan to have your dog walk to the back door, you may want to encourage them to walk there instead of carrying them there. This step is where a professional trainer can really come in handy, they can listen to your ultimate goal and help you create a plan with steps that will get you there in a way that doesn’t waste any time.

Make sure everyone in the house is on the same page!

4. RESTRICT & COORDINATE ACCESS

Freedom is earned with responsibility. Do not allow your pup access to the entire house right off the bat. Use baby gates and furniture to restrict access and then open up more and more over time.

Before opening up a new space, prepare your pup for eventual exposure.

You can do this by:

  1. Taking them to the new areas on leash for short stints.
  2. Following steps to make that space a safe zone such as feeding them there, playing with them there, etc.

Always supervise extra in a new area until the pup has proven they can follow the housebreaking protocol from that space. Set your pup up for success by only allowing access to any NON safe zone space when they have fully evacuated their bowels. If you take them out and they do not potty, consider placing them back into a safe zone until you can get a potty and THEN reward them with a little free time in the house. Just be sure to limit that free time relative to their age. They may have to potty again within the hour and you won’t want to miss it!

5. SUPERVISION

Absolutely no free time (unless in a safe zone – see below). The more accidents your pup has without you seeing, the longer it will take to housebreak them. They are establishing a habit.  

Whatever they practice most will stick.

6. SAFE ZONE

A safe zone is the place in the house where you can put your dog and not have to supervise them constantly. These are places where you know your dog will NOT (or is least likely to) have an accident OR where it’s okay for them to potty.

Most common safe zones, where you know your pup WILL NOT potty, are:

Crate

On Parent’s Lap

In the place they sleep

Next to a food dish

Tethered to a parent

Most common places you can leave your dog where it’s okay for them to go potty are backyard or dog run. If you do not currently have a safe zone, create one (see Crate Training). These zones will allow you to have free time and, with proper crate training, to assist in elongating the time your pup can hold it between potty breaks.

7. DANGER ZONE

A danger zone is a spot your pup is most likely to have an accident. Common danger zones are carpets, behind furniture, in rooms that are rarely used/lived in. These zones should be restricted unless there is direct supervision. You can also work on turning a danger zone into a safe zone by feeding your pup there, hanging out there, sleeping there, or interacting with them there on a regular basis with trick training, toy play, etc. 

8. PRAISE FOR THE RIGHT SPOT

Wait until the pup is completely done and then mark with a “yes!” and give a treat. Create a positive association with the “right” spot.

Don’t interrupt the potty flow or the urge may come back as soon as you go back inside.  

The goal isn’t to overexcite the pup, just to praise them for a job well done in a way that makes them more likely to do it there again. 

9. CATCH THEM IN THE ACT OR BUST

If you do not catch your pup IN THE ACT of going potty in the wrong spot you, unfortunately… Can’t. Do. ANYTHING. You must ignore it. If you get upset with them, they will not understand, and you will run the risk of worsening the housebreaking issue. Silently grumble through the clean-up and fix what you need to in your supervision plan so that this doesn’t happen again.

Mising an accident in the moment is the number one way to take steps back in your housebreaking timeline.

If you DO catch your pup IN THE ACT you can say “no, no” in a low voice (low register, but not too loud, you don’t want to scare them) and immediately take them to the correct spot and try to get them to go. Still praise and treat if they finish in the right spot.

10. HEALTH ISSUES

Health issues can delay the dog training process. Food changes, UTI, medications, etc. should all be kept in mind when setting expectations. Speak to veterinarian ASAP if you suspect a medical issue or are not sure of your pup’s medication side effects.

How to Bond with a Scared Dog

How to Bond with a Scared Dog

If you are here, you have probably already recognized you have a dog that is insecure, fearful, scared, nervous, worried, etc. Stay tuned for our next article about How to Recognize Fear in Dogs. Part of bonding with your fearful dog is taking things at their pace. Identifying their subtle “I’m uncomfortable” body language cues will ensure you stay under threshold and reduce any steps backwards in the process.

Apart from that, there is the following:

THE APPROACH:

If your first instinct is to go, “Awwwww! Omg look at that pup! It’s soooo cute!! I just wanna grab it and hug it and squeeze its little cheeks!! Gimme Gimme Gimme!” Let’s stop right there.

The well-intentioned, dog super-fan depicted above might be you… but it is also a scared dog’s worst nightmare. In fact, any dog, regardless of confidence, should never be approached this way. Just as you would never approach a child with this much emotional intensity, you should never approach a dog that way either.

 

Dogs interpret body language through a DOG’s point of view.

 

To a dog, your affection could easily be interpreted as purely predatory:

  • Arms out = Wings out, claws out
  • Smiling face or toothy grin = Lifted lip, growl, fangs ready to eat you
  • Direct “loving” eye contact = Murderous intentions
  • Yelling, screaming “omg you’re sooo cute!” = Loud… and in nature, loud noise indicates impending danger (think ‘Battle Cry’)
  • Reaching toward the head (i.e., petting) = Going in for the kill

 

If you didn’t know this before, don’t feel bad. It’s NEVER too late! Your intentions are in the right place, so let’s get your body to meet them there. Having a good approach when meeting a scared pup is like making a really GOOD first impression and will go a long way towards building trust – do this by being as BORING as possible.

  Predictable and non-threatening body movements are key.

If you didn’t know this before, don’t feel bad. It’s NEVER too late! Your intentions are in the right place, so let’s get your body to meet them there. Having a good approach when meeting a scared pup is like making a really GOOD first impression and will go a long way towards building trust – do this by being as BORING as possible.

STEPS ON HOW TO PROPERLY APPROACH A DOG:

STEP 1: Move at a slow pace – the key is to be slow, not creepy. Hesitancy reads as fear… and fearful dogs DO NOT want to be around fearful humans. Opposites attract, so confidence is key. Try to manifest the sloth from the Zootopia DMV (Flash). Slow, but totally sure of himself.

 STEP 2: Avoid quick changes in direction – stand up slowly, even if it’s AFTER you’ve already pet the dog. Don’t risk ruining a good interaction by scaring the dog at the end. The dog will remember the LAST feeling they had when around you, not the first.

STEP 3: Avoid direct eye contact – turn your head to the side and use your peripheral.

STEP 4: DO NOT walk in a direct path toward the pup – think of a ‘Bee Line’ and do the opposite of that. Walk to the side of the dog and wait.

STEP 5: Avoid reaching out or leaning in – DO NOT close the gap between you and the dog, that’s their job. Your statue-like demeanor will give the dog the space they need to allow their natural curiosity to set in. When curiosity trumps fear, your bonding window has opened! Do not rush forward or it may snap shut again.

STEP 6: Remain small – If you are noticing more relaxed and curious body language than fearful and would like to attempt physical contact, the least obtrusive way to do so is from a seated position. For a small dog this might be sitting on the ground but for a larger dog, sitting on the ground could put your face directly in theirs. Instead try sitting on a couch or a chair.

THE TOUCH:

To keep it simple – dogs generally DO NOT like being pet on their muzzle, legs, paws, tail, or top of the head. Also, with a fearful dog, it’s best to avoid any belly rubs. Most dogs roll onto their back to communicate fear/anxiety and therefore a desire to END an interaction, NOT to invite you in for a belly rub. Generally fearful dogs are even more likely to do these “submissive rolls” and therefore are more likely to get stuck with unwanted affection in that area. On the other hand…

Dogs generally DO enjoy being pet under the chin, at the base of the tail, or on the back of the neck just above their shoulder blades.

Dogs also prefer long gentle strokes over short pats. If your dog specifically reacts well to physical affection you may want to go a step further and incorporate Massage or TTouch. Also try adding brushing into your routine. Although some dogs have already had a negative experience with grooming, some ADORE it and get the same calming benefits as with massage.

POSITIVE ASSOCIATION

Now that you have eliminated all the triggers in your approach and touch, you may have moved the pup’s emotional needle from SCARED to NEUTRAL. YAY! Step one accomplished.

Positive Association – linking yourself, interaction with you, or proximity to you, to something the pup already LOVES will start the process of moving that emotional needle from NEUTRAL all the way over to TRUSTING or even BONDED.

You may have already started creating this association with your petting and massage. Take it a step further with Treats, Walks and Fur-Friends!

TREATS

Treats or Food can be used as a training tool, a way to motivate your dog to perform tasks, OR just as a way of building a more trusting relationship between dog and human. If the pup is food motivated, treats can be used to change the pup’s initial emotional response to you (think about Pavlov’s dogs’ response to the bell). The trick to creating an association is consistently pairing the two items. So, whoever feeds the dog, will bond with the dog. If your scared pup is having a harder time bonding with a specific family member, have them follow all steps above (fixing their approach and touch) and then, have them take over all feeding. For less food motivated dogs, a higher value food reward may be needed to create the association. When determining the definition of “high value” for your pup, taste is in the eye of the beholder.

Most dogs value meat over veggies and fresh food over processed. Most dogs ALSO like plush toys, squeaky toys, and balls (or other toys that can be tossed and chased).

If your dog is not food motivated AT ALL orrrr if they don’t enjoy the close contact needed for treat delivery, toys may be the way to their heart. Not sure what they like? Get one of everything!  If they don’t play the first time you try, try again each week. In some circumstances, play can build trust, but in some cases the dog will need to have established trust before they will be relaxed enough to play in front of you.

WALKS

Now, let’s take a walk!! Pups love to go on walks because their genetic make-up demands that they exercise and find sources of mental stimulation. One of the best stimulation sources is SMELLING. Many dogs will gain confidence from the act of scent tracking itself (as they find what they were tracking, they gain confidence in themselves for achieving a goal) but more than that, walks with YOU specifically can work wonders on a bond. As your pup encounters new experiences outside the home, they will be vulnerable. Having you there to lead them will remind them that you are capable of taking care of them. This repeated experience over a matter of weeks or months will add up to an overall feeling of trust.

FUR-FRIENDS

If the walk itself is not doing the trick, consider making it a Pack Walk. Your dog may not like you yet, but do you know any other dogs that do?! Again, we are trying to use positive association to convince your dog that you are THE bringer of all things awesome. But if they won’t take your word for it, find someone (a dog) to speak on your behalf. Since dogs speak dog, better than human, they may be more easily convinced by a fellow fur-friend. Let your scaredy dog witness you positively interacting with the friend. Let them experience the friend’s confidence around you. Who knows, your scared pup could look up and say “hey, maybe this human isn’t so bad after all?”

WARNINGPlease keep your dog’s SPECIFIC insecurities in mind. If your pup is afraid of traffic or the leash, the walks may not be for them. If they have grooming or handling trauma, brushing or massage may not be for them. If they do not like other dogs, it won’t matter that other dogs like you. And regardless of who they are, you will still want to use proper approach protocol (listed above) when delivering any treats – ex: no leaning in or over.

OBEDIENCE

Think of the people you trust the most.  What do they bring to the table… Reliability? Good Nature? Dependability? Consistency? Participation in your goals? Dogs are looking for those same qualities in you.

Like a walk, Obedience Training can have the same effect in building trust between dog and owner – as you partner up with them to figure out an obedience game or task, you will prove to them your value as a partner overall. You will provide a firm foundation by stating your expectations clearly, you will consistently reward what you want and not what you don’t want, you will celebrate the small victories and always end on a positive note.

These aren’t just the keys to a good training methodology, they are the keys to a good relationship.

In addition to strengthening your bond, obedience training will occupy the dogs monkey mind, distracting them from their anxiety and will relieve them of excess energy. A properly exercised dog is generally more emotionally pliable and therefore, easier to bond with.

TIME & SPACE: 

As you’ve read, there is a lot you can DO to promote a bond with your scared dog, BUT there is also a huge benefit to doing NOTHING AT ALL. Not all fearful pups are ready to jump into jobs, games and obedience training. Sometimes they just need a little bit of quiet time or to be ignored completely.

Give them space, let them come to you.

It’s nearly impossible to put yourself into the mind of what your scared pup is thinking, but with these tips and a little bit of time will help them create a lasting bond one step at a time.

Tail Docking and Ear Cropping (Opinion Piece)

Tail Docking and Ear Cropping
(Opinion Piece)

Tail Docking and Ear Cropping:

I had the most interesting conversation the other day with Tammy Ahn from Dog Days San Diego and Ruby Balaram from Real Dog Box.  We talked about Tail docking and Ear Cropping.  This article isn’t going to be a How To or even to truly educate you on the history of these practices.  I’ll just be summarizing my thoughts on it and some things I learned.  Let me also say, that I don’t know enough about this subject to be considered anywhere NEAR an expert and therefore don’t have the education to judge anyone else on their choices.  These are just my thoughts, not my declarations.  

 

I am a believer in leaving things as nature intended OR at least, not making physical alterations to beings that have no say in the matter and without any medical justification for the change.  For example, after doing a shit load of research, I decided NOT to circumcise my son. I made this choice because there seemed to be no reasonable medical reason for circumcision and therefore it felt wrong for me to make a purely cosmetic and irreversible choice for my son before he had a chance to weigh in on it.  I do recognize that Tail Docking and Ear Cropping are NOT the same as circumcision and that dogs are NOT people, but my feelings about this practice stemmed from my experience making that choice for my son, so I thought it an easy place to start and to give you a window into where my head was at.

 

My initial belief was this: If there is no safety concern with maintaining a dog’s natural ears and tail, then they shouldn’t be cut.   

 

Issue #1 The Ability to Safely Perform A Job

 I fully acknowledge that there are major risks to maintaining floppy appendages in many of the jobs that dogs are bred to do.  For example, if you are bred to protect a property where you may need to fight another animal or human to do so, you can’t have extra handles sticking out all over the place for the enemy to grab onto.  In that case, it seems the risk to maintaining these appendages outweighs the discomfort the dog experiences removing them.    

 

Issue #2 The Human God Complex 

BUT if a dog can’t do his job right WITH a long tail and floppy ears, then aren’t we not done with the process yet? Like, where is the line when we are creating/breeding a living being to be used as a tool? Was it ok for us to say “I did it!  I made the perfect guardian! I mean, these ears and tail are gonna be a problem so I’ll have to cut those off myself but everything else is PERFECTO!”?  If it wasn’t possible to maintain the behaviors and instincts we needed while selecting out the floppy ears and tail, then at what point should we have just accepted we in fact COULDN’T breed the perfect guardian and stopped trying?

 

And what about the bulldog?! UGH! In this case we DID create a dog perfect for a job.  Then somewhere along the line we gave in to aesthetics,  tweaking it and messing with it until we created a being that can’t be born naturally, that can’t breathe, that gets constant skin infections and requires regular spinal adjustments to live pain free.  Where is the line when it comes to abandoning the selection process and just chopping the rest of the way there? Why is it ok to intervene to birth a bulldog but not ok to intervene with a different breed’s ears/tail to prepare it for its job? 

 

Issue #3 The Greater Good 

Every argument here seems to bring up ANOTHER point.  In this one we talk about the jobs themselves.  There are some jobs that humans needed dogs for in the beginning because we had no other way to accomplish them efficiently.  Now, with advancements in technology, there are some jobs that I hesitate to feel are important enough to warrant the physical alteration of a dog specifically so it can succeed at that task.  HOWEVER, there are other jobs that dogs still do for us that SAVE ACTUAL HUMAN LIVES. When tails and ears are cropped and docked CORRECTLY and at the appropriate time, there is VERY little discomfort to the animal and absolutely no long term negative effects.  With that in mind it seems like a no brainer:  The reward outweighs the risks.  

 

Issue #4 Public Perception of the Breed

Now, what I am still trying to understand is what is the reasoning behind cropping/docking a working dog that is NOT going to be working in the field AT ALL. But if you really think about that…there is a problem with the question, isn’t there?  Namely, WHY ARE YOU GETTING A WORKING BREED THAT ISN’T GOING TO BE WORKING?! This dog was CREATED to do this particular job, and to do this job well, it’s safest for them to have a short tail.  IF we start saying it’s ok not to dock the tail, then are we also saying it’s ok for them not to have access to the job they were bred to do?  That it’s ok to purchase a weimaraner as a companion for your elderly parents? Or to try to fit any breed you want into YOUR life – purchasing a bulldog for a hiking partner or a cattle dog to downstay at the kids soccer game or a working line malinois as a service animal.  I get there could be exceptions in all these breeds but in general NO!  That’s NOT OK! And if docking the tails and cropping the ears reminds people that these dogs have specific characteristics that need to be taken seriously and needs that MUST be met, then so be it. (and yes… I know that only one of the examples I used actually gets docked lolol but you get the point!).  

 

Issue #5 Breeding Standards

Now…ON THE OTHER HAND (haha do y’all have whiplash yet?) what if you are a responsible owner in search of the perfect dog.  Maybe you fell in love with the Viszla and did all the necessary research.  You fully comprehend their mental and physical stimulation needs and are committed to and capable of meeting them in a variety of ways However, and this is important, you do NOT plan on hunting with them.  You seek out a reputable breeder that specializes in breeding for temperament over stamina and you pick out the calmest pup from the litter.  Here is the question – Should this person be denied a dog because they will not be hunting?? And come to think of it, should this breeders reputation be lowered because they are focusing on temperament instead of overwork ethic? Or is it ok to attempt to make a breed more accessible to the public and allow the purchase of these dogs into suburban households so more people can share in the love? AAAAA! I dont knoooowwww!!! What I do know is this.  Even though some reputable breeders are selecting for softer versions (companion-washing as sommmme might say), they STILL dock all the tails REGARDLESS of the intended use expressed by the purchaser.  You will NOT have the option to abstain.  The reason they give? “Maintaining breed standards”  So let me make sure I have this right.  Its ok to breed a working dog for temperament in order to help it survive in a home that will not be using the dog for the work it was designed for… but its not ok to leave the tail intact??? On the official list of “standards” I can’t imagine the ability to perform the job well falls below tail docked on the list of importance.  Right?? How did tail docking become the thing that separates a reputable breeder from a non reputable one? This.  Makes.  No.  Sense to me.  

Let me be clear that I am not calling out the breeders, I’m calling out the standards.  One of the (MANY) things I learned in my chat with Tammy and Ruby is that any reputable breeder will be trying to maintain breed standards.  Those standards include docking.  SO if you seek out a breeder that is willing NOT to dock, you probably aren’t talking to as reputable a breeder as you thought.  You may be headed down a scary path… that leads to the backyard….IF ya know what I’m saying… This definitely puts the purchasers in a difficult position. They can either make a stance against unnecessary docking, or they can get a well bred dog.  Additionally, there is a concern out there that BECAUSE the standards still dictate the tail should be docked, if the breeders stop doing it or if the practice is stigmatized before the desire for the dock decreases, the owners will start doing themselves!!! I am not going to get into the horrors of the at-home crop/dock.  Suffice it to say, while a veterinary crop/dock ISNT torture… an at-home one could be.  

 

I’ll end this long ass section by saying I have also been told things are changing pretty quickly in Europe where docking and cropping has been outlawed.  Europe still manages to produce some incredible breeders and cares just as much about maintaining the essence of the breeds.  I’m not sure how I feel about the practice being outlawed, but I do wish the owner of the dog had a choice.  

 

CONCLUSION

Revisiting the original belief ( If there is no safety concern with maintaining a dog’s natural ears and tail, then they shouldn’t be cut ) my feelings have pretty much stayed the same.  I am ecstatic to be coming from a place of education now but when it comes down to it, I still believe if a working dog is NOT performing their job in the most raw way, and are instead acting mostly as a companion, I can see no reason for the discomfort of removal, no matter how small that discomfort is. The main thing I learned is that the problem isn’t that simple.   The reality is, if you choose to go with a purebred dog, you may be faced with a choice between purchasing from a reputable breeder and leaving the appendages intact.  What would I do??…shit.  (Im sitting here with my head in my hands in the middle of Covid19 because that choice is so difficult).  I guess I’d have to rethink my breed choice and wait for the standards to catch up to the times.  But thats me.  

 

Thanks for reading!

*This article was written by Pack Method Prep’s Owner, Zoe Sandor.

Should you send your dog to school?

Should you send your dog to school?

 

 

Should you send your dog to school?

Thinking about getting a dog? Start here!

Our owner Zoe Sandor – certified professional dog trainer and co-star on Animal Planet’s “Cat vs. Dog!” joined Tim Berthold on Thriving Dog Pawcast to answer all your dog training questions such as:
When should I start training?
What about my rescue?
Does my dog have to go to obedience school? 

She gives plenty of tips on:

  • Training puppies
  • 4 life stages of dogs
  • Risks vs. benefits of socializing your dog
  • Fun tricks
  • [1:44] How Zoe got into dog training
  • [6:32] Getting certified as a dog trainer
  • [11:01] Your dog’s 4 life stages
  • [15:45] Do’s and don’ts with new puppies
  • [21:04] How your adult dog mentors your puppy
  • [25:42] What you should know about your dog’s adolescent stage
  • [34:53] What your TRAINED dog can do
  • [37:19] Pet parent homework
  • [40:09] How to know if your dog is in secondary FIERCE stage
  • [52:43] Tips for rescues

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN