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Stories You Hear at Dog Events

By Grant Published: September 29, 2009

Ho boy. How long THIS blog can be. I'll try and keep it under 10,000 words. Okay, a LOT shorter than that! Spent most of Sunday at the "Mutt Strutt" event that supports the Stark County Humane Society.
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But first a really cool dog video I just saw. Think our furry friends don't think or feel??
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofpYRITtLSg
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I observed a lot on Sunday. Several hundred dog owners and the requisite number of pets makes for very interesting entertainment. Was it Yogi Berra that said, "You can observe a lot by watching."?

A guy with two Golden Retrievers, both at least 80-85lbs. walks down the middle of where we're set up with booths. We all know Golden's are very strong. He can barely hold them back (as in: can BARELY control them). He's got a death grip on both leads. A lady in a booth holds out ONE treat for the two dogs.  One moment here:
    Really? Do people THINK anymore? Do people observe and try to use common sense? "I know, here comes a guy with two dogs barely under control- I think I'll tease them, then be surprised when they tow the owner over to my booth and jump up on me." OBVIOUSLY, "NO" to both questions.
The guy is actually smiling as this all happens. Either he is clueless, or the strain of pulling on the dogs just LOOKS like a smile! "Obedience" doesn't fit here. Weird.
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A guy with a dog that barks at other dogs every time it sees one (see previous observation on HUNDREDS of dog owners). So the dog pretty much barked at everything. You can tell he's very frustrated. He's using a Halti (which in my opinion are pretty much worthless) and the dog is barking. So he pulls the dog back to him, makes him sit, closes his mouth with his hand to get the dog to quit barking, and pets him (giving affection). Then they asked me why he continues to bark. Let's review:
1) Using a collar that provides pretty much no real control over a dog.
2) When the dog barks, YOU close his mouth instead of training him to quit barking.
3) Giving affection to the activity you're striving to stop.

Note to owners: you don't give affection when the dog is misbehaving. Never. Ever. Well, unless of course you wish to NOT correct the behavior. Remember that affection to a dog is better than ANY treat you can give. Give affection to support good behavior.

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A lady whose designer dog barks at everything holds the dog to give it security- so it quits barking: rewind to above. Dog barks, owner picks up dog, pets dog (“Good Girl, Sassy!! Thanks for Barking!!!”) Owner puts dog down only to be surprised when dog barks again. See above three points.
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To the guy with the 110lb. German Shepherd who was as gentle, quiet and well-behaved as they come: THANK YOU! And to the guy with the Pit/Boxer mix of the same description: THANK YOU, TOO!

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When I get home my two dogs, Murphy & Lexi, are running around the yard playing and wrestling. I'm reading a book, occasionally watching them. Suddenly I hear a different bark. There's a cute little retriever mix running in the yard with my two. It's not real sure it wants to play, but it wants to play. Thirty seconds later comes the young gal owner from a party down the street, calling for her dog to come to her. Short story is I tell her to squat down and pet Murphy. Sure enough, the dog being a golden mix realizes Murphy is getting more attention and comes over to get his share. I pretty much figured that would happen. So she grabs her dog and thanks me. As she pulls the dog up the driveway with her hand on the collar (yes, I wonder where the lead is too...) she starts to smack the dog and tell him what a bad boy he is.

If you read my blogs you know I preach about NOT punishing your dog. She must not be a reader. I called her back. I asked if I could ask a question, "Sure," she said. I asked, "If I called you over here and gave you a dope slap, how likely would it be that you'd come back over, even if I use a really nice voice?" "I probably wouldn't," she said. "Exactly," I said, "So when you call your dog and you get a hold of it, and you smack him, what do you think his motivation is to come to you next time?" She didn't say anything but got the point. I told her that while it may seem very (humanly) backwards, even though the dog ran, when you catch him, praise him for coming and being a good dog.
1) Maybe next time he won't run as quickly or as far.
2) Maybe next time he'll remember getting petted and praised and come more quickly?!

Till next time!

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Grant Holmes is a Dog Obedience Professional and the owner of Perfectly Pawsible Dog Obedience & People Training. He loves working one on one with your dog in your home, working on the goals you've set for obedience & behavior! Any dog, any size, any challenge.

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