Dangerous Dogs In Your Neighborhood?

This evening I was relaxing, scrolling through the news online and checking out dog pictures and videos on social media, when I came across a story that just made my blood run cold. It was posted by an acquaintance who lives one town away from me, and detailed how her husband had gone out that morning for a jog with their Australian Shepherd Zazu; they take a six-mile run together on-leash, four days a week. One this morning’s run, however, not a block from their home, Zazu was attacked by two Rottweilers, who were loose, with their owners nowhere to be seen.

The police were summoned,
the dogs caught and impounded, Zazu rushed to the emergency veterinary
hospital, but his wounds were too serious and he could not be saved. A
neighbor, who heard the tumult and witnessed the scene, identified the dogs as
belonging to a couple who lives nearby. They are older, she told the police –
and one of their adult children who also lives there breeds the dogs and sells
puppies for extra income. Usually, the dogs are never taken out of the yard – but they do get loose from time to

Loose dogs in the neighborhood

Personally, I don’t think
there is a place in society for dogs who kill. And while no one is perfect, and
everyone has had a dog who has gotten loose before, when you own large, powerful
dogs (especially more than one), you have a greater-than-average responsibility
to see to it that your dogs can not escape the security of your yard. I hope
the owners of these dogs are held responsible for Zazu’s death, and I hope the
dogs who murdered Zazu are not released back into the custody of their owners –
or, perhaps anyone else.

I know that’s harsh. It’s not the dogs’ fault that they were inadequately contained. It’s not their fault that their owners failed to socialize them adequately, so that they saw a leashed dog as prey or an interloper in their neighborhood, as opposed to a potential playmate. It’s not their fault that they have been denied the stimulation of an active dog like Zazu, locked up with no exercise, reduced to a life of breeding and reproduction, over and over.

It’s not fair. But it’s not fair to Zazu and his owners, either, that two very powerful, aggressive dogs were in a position to kill. What if the dog they attacked had been being walked by an elderly or frail person? The person might be dead, too. What if the dog they attacked was being walked by a mother who also was pushing a stroller with a baby inside? I shudder to think of it.

People who keep dogs in a socially
impoverished environment, for the sole pupose of breeding puppies to sell –
that’s even worse. This type of person is literally the backyard breeder in the
derogatory trope.

I am hoping that the dogs are designated
as dangerous and steps are taken to make sure they can’t be a threat to anyone
else in the community. And my heart goes out to the owners of poor Zazu; his
dad will be forever traumatized by the memory of the TEN MINUTES he struggled
to save his dog as Zazu was being fatally mauled.

What steps can Zazu’s owners take?

Zazu with his owner

I asked someone I know who is an animal
control officer in a different community: What should Zazu’s owners do? She
said, if there is any kind of record of the dogs being loose before, or any
previous complaint made about their aggression, the local animal control could
take steps to get a dangerous dog designation for the Rottweilers. If there is
any sort of record of the dogs doing this before, or even just being picked up
for running loose before, she would press the local court for the dangerous dog

But if this is the first record of any complaint about the dogs, then their owners are likely to be fined only for the dogs “running at large,” asked for proof of licensing and rabies vaccination (and possibly fined for lack of same), and charged for the short impound; all that Zazu’s owners can do is sue for Zazu’s final vet bill, including cremation.

Obviously, I love dogs, and don’t relish the idea of any dogs being euthanized. But large, aggressive dogs in the hands of owners who can’t or won’t contain them? I can’t imagine living and walking my own dogs in that neighborhood.

Do any of you have any advice for Zazu’s owners? Have you ever been in a situation like this?

The post Dangerous Dogs In Your Neighborhood? appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.

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Dog owners often inaccurately measure out kibble

New research finds dog owners are often inaccurate when measuring out kibble using a scoop, putting the dogs at risk of under-nourishment or weight gain.

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Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Trick or Treating with Fido this Halloween
Dog gets ready for Halloween

This Halloween enjoy the festivities with your pets. Integrative Veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne, DMV offers a few simple safety tips for pets and their owners to help ensure fun for all while trick or treating this season. 

1. That bowlful of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can also be hazardous if swallowed. If you suspect your pet has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are not toxic but can produce stomach upsets and even intestinal blockage if large pieces are eaten. 

3. Keep wires and electric cords taped securely to the floor or covered so your pet doesn’t chew them and risk burning his mouth or getting an electric shock.

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Dog ownership associated with longer life, especially among heart attack and stroke survivors

Dog ownership was associated with a 33% lower risk of early death for heart attack survivors living alone and 27% reduced risk of early death for stroke survivors living alone, compared to people who did not own a dog. Dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality and a 31% lower risk of death by heart attack or stroke compared to non-owners.

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Folk Art Dogs on Auction Block

 Carved and Painted Pine Running Hound Weathervane, Maine, late 19th century

One of the world’s finest collections of American Sculptural Folk Art will be publicly auctioned at Sotheby’s on Thursday, October 10, 2019 / 10 AM EST. The folk art collection of Stephen and Petra Levin contains a trove of museum quality objects including weathervanes, carved wooden figures, and a variety of patriotic-themed eagles, founding fathers and flags from the 18th and 19th centuries. Among the collection are a handful of dog sculptures that are fine examples of Americana and the folk art tradition. Collectibles of this quality do not come cheap, estimated prices range from $6,000 for the carved/painted trade sign to $30,000 for the running hound pine weathervane. But there’s no charge for perusing the online catalog and it may inspire you to hit your local flea market with a new zeal.


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The Joys Of Loving An Elderly Dog

senior dog

As a dog ages, several changes may occur besides a greying muzzle. Senior dogs have more health concerns than younger dogs, but they can still make playful, loving companions.

Harmony Peraza, a veterinary technician and the study subject manager for the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Dog Aging Project, discusses the most common health conditions that may arise in a senior dog.

While there is some variation among breeds, a dog is typically considered a senior at 8 years old. Large dogs may age faster, becoming seniors as early as 6 or 7, while smaller dogs may not start showing signs of age until they are 9 or 10.

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Dog Walks, Sniffing, Shaking and Pulse Rate

New research explores the connections

Though walks with dogs are completely commonplace, there have been remarkably few research studies on how these excursions affect our dogs. Almost any study in this area is likely to find out new things because we know so little about it. A recent study explored the pulse rate of dogs on walks and found some interesting results related to leash length, sniffing and the behavior that is most commonly described as “shaking it off”.

Sixty-one dogs were walked three times for 5 minutes each, and their pulse was recorded throughout. One walk was with a 1.5m leash, one was with a 5m leash and one walk was without a leash. (The order of the walks for each dog was random.) The dogs in the study were diverse in terms of breed, age, reproductive status, size and lifestyle.


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Dog rabies vaccination programs affect human exposure, prophylaxis use

The World Health Organization has made it a goal to eliminate human rabies deaths due to dog bites by the year 2030. An increase in dog rabies vaccination rates decreases dog rabies cases, human exposure, and human deaths, researchers now report.

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What is drive?   The terms high-Drive and Low-Drive  are commonly used in the dog sports world, but almost never in the behavior world.  Presumably that is because these terms lack any real definition. Dog-sports people are along the lines of, “I know it when I see it” and that vision is likely to change depending on what sports the person is involved with.  Dog behavior folks want precise parameters!

Here’s the definition I use: High Drive defines a dog who stays in the game even under adversity.   

Even under adversity! The fact that your dog will work for kibble or toys while working in the house is neither here nor there. That’s not high drive. High drive is the dog that will stay in the game when the going gets tough and without significant additional training to develop this behavior.

What is adversity? Fear inducing situations. Interesting things happening. Other dogs or people.  Limited opportunities for reinforcement. Inclement weather. Rough terrain. Life sucks.

High drive dogs are easily entertained by work and tend to be motivated by a range of things.   While they may be curious about the environment, they are more interested in working and earning reinforcement from their handler than in investigating alternatives – they focus!   And while they may be fearful in a given environment, they stick it out. Stressed? Could be! Miserable training?  Yeah.  And yet…they work anyway. That is what they have learned is the expectation and they go along with the program – willingly!

if you like analogies, consider a high drive human trainer.  This person trains their dog even when class is far away and the weather is bad. Even when it’s hard to get there. Even when it’s expensive.   Even when the dog is struggling and learns slowly.   The fact that they get relatively little reinforcement for their efforts does not deter them –   Whatever reinforcement they get is enough to keep them in the game. They stick it out.

So what is low drive?

Low drive dogs are difficult to keep engaged in the game. They either don’t particularly enjoy the activities that you have in mind or they are not sufficiently motivated by the things you have to offer.   They may work just fine when there’s nothing better to do or the reinforcers are flowing freely, but add a little adversity or alternative options and they will opt out quickly.

It’s worth pointing out that one cannot tease apart “likes the reinforcement” from “easily bored.”. How would we know? How do we know if the dog shows flashy heeling because he loves heeling or because he loves reinforcers?   I do think most of us have a sense of the activities that our dogs prefer, regardless of the amount or type or reinforcement on offer.   However, at the end of the day, I know that some dogs work for long stretches of time under challenging conditions for relatively little reinforcement across a range of training options and sports – and it requires no heroic efforts on the part of the trainer to keep them happy. They are high drive, pretty much regardless of the sport or the reinforcer in play.

You get the idea. In a nutshell? High Drive is easily motivated and not easily bored or distracted and low drive is difficult to motivate and easily bored or distracted by alternatives.

Of course I’m describing the extremes here. The vast majority of dogs ( and people!) fall in the middle, So think on a continuum rather than a black or white situation.

As a side note it’s worth pointing out that movement is not drive. While it is true that high drive dogs tend to have more energy than other dogs, it is far from a requirement. A dog can be downright lazy and yet show tremendous drive when it’s time to work. So the question I would ask is, what is the appropriate behavior at that moment? A sheep dog who just runs around all the time would make the farmer crazy. Sometimes movement is required and other times stillness is the answer. But focus on the task? Ready and willing when the time is right? That is not negotiable.  That must be there for a dog to be considered “driven.”

I would also point out that most of us refine what we are talking about according to the needs of the situation. So it would be normal to say something like high drive for toys, high drive for food, etc. But in general, high drive is also a package, and one starts to discover that dogs that are high drive in one sport or for one reinforcer are frequently high drive in a variety of ways. My experience is that if I see a dog working with “drive” for one type of reinforcer in one environment I can make some pretty accurate predictions about how the dog will look working in different sports and for different reinforcers.

I’m working on a workshop where I discuss handling disengagement from work.   if you are interested in this workshop, then it is helpful to start thinking about your dog’s drive structure because I handle disengagement differently depending on many factors, and one of those factors is the dog’s overall drive.

The post Drive appeared first on Denise Fenzi's Blog.

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Top Ten Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe & Calm this Fourth of July



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