Monthly Archives: June 2012

Five Ridiculous Things to Get for Your Dog

I love my Macie as much as anyone can love their dog, and I love buying treats, toys, and other things that make her happy. I have owned a dog most of my life, but until a couple of years … Continue reading

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Macie and Shedding Hair

Macie-And Shedding Hair One summer day in 2010, my wife and I decided to add a new member to our small family of two, my wife and I. I had been softly pleading my case to her about getting a … Continue reading

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The Anatomy of a Dog Attack

 

 

            I have had a dog for most of my life, and I have never seen a dog bite without cause. In my experience, people are often the cause of a dog attack. Of course, there are circumstances that a dog may attack with no apparent reason. For instance, a sick and rabid dog could attack without provocation or reason. However, with exceptions excluded, dogs typically do not attack randomly, unprovoked, or without cause.

            I once had a dog named Skip. I was about 13 years old and lived with my 8 sisters and 2 brothers, and my mom and dad, of course. Skip was a Border Collier and very protective of us kids. I remember my dad spanking my little brother for something that he had done. No one knew Skip would attack my dad for spanking my brother. Well, we knew after that! My dad was livid and wanted to get rid of Skip.

            My point is that we had missed the obvious signs that Skip would protect the kids against anyone. Skip had displayed that many times, but we never thought he would defend us against dad. We as the superior species must be more vigilant and attentive to our dogs, and other dogs. Dogs almost always let you know their intentions.

            Macie is my current dog and I love her so much. I rescued her from a local animal shelter. Macie is very aggressive and protective. She has bitten two people since I have had her. Each person was totally responsible because Macie gives very clear warnings. I would tell you the story behind Macies’ attacks, but I can wait till another time.

            I found an article written by Ryan Meare, editor and publisher of K-9 Magazine. I love the story. Tell me what you think.

 

Happy Reading,

Freddy Rembert

 

Anatomy of a Dog Attack

 

Since I wrote this article it’s been re-published more than 600 times.

I wrote it to try and give a dog’s sense of perspective – but not to excuse – in a hypothetical situation. To try and give some background on what signals we can sometimes miss in relation to canine body language.

I am happy for it to be re-published as its intent remains; to try and raise awareness and help avoid dog attacks.

When a dog attack is reported we will often hear the same old phrases bandied about.

“It came out of the blue”

It was totally unprovoked”

“We didn’t see it coming”

“It was totally out of character”

Ring any bells? Well let’s try and understand how and why a dog might attack someone.

Dogs rarely, if ever, attack for any reason. We humans often misinterpret a dog attacking “out of the blue” and “without warning” ‘because we simply missed the signs.

Let’s be clear about one thing. A dog that is prepared to bite someone has his reasons. Can we, as humans, justify those reasons using the social values of people?

Probably not. But of course, dogs do not live their lives according to human social values.

Here is the story of John, Henry and Max.

John has no wife or children. For the last five years he’s lived with his best friend in the world a playful Labrador called Max.

 

John is exited today. Henry, an old friend from school who he hasn’t seen for many years is visiting.

John decides today would be a good day to get his garden tidied, make a good impression on his old school chum.

As John gets busy in amongst the weeds in the front garden, he spies his old mate making his way up the street.

Henry’s been looking forward to catching up with John for weeks and, as he’s never been to his home before, finds himself feeling somewhat jubilant to realize he’s managed to find the street on which John lives without too much trouble and can now relish the prospect of seeing his friend again as well as finally getting to meet the only true love of John’s life, the much talked about Max.

It’s a hot and sunny day and Henry is wearing his sunglasses. Further up the street he spots John working in his front garden.

John’s already noticed Henry making his way towards him and yells out, “Hi Henry. Fancy a beer?”

Henry shouts back, “Sounds just the job. Can you believe this heat?”

As per usual, Max has been ‘helping’ John with his gardening exploits by digging holes of his own all over the lawn. John doesn’t mind. He only wanted the garden so he could have somewhere safe to play fetch with Max on sunny days like today. He’s never been one for trying to keep it immaculate when Max’s favorite hobby is trying to tunnel his way to China.

Max has stopped his gardening though. He’s become preoccupied by the exchange between John and Henry and he’s taken a trip the front gate to see what’s going on.

“I wonder who this bloke is?” ponders Max.

“Why would he and John be shouting at other?” he thinks to himself.

“I’d better be on full alert.” he concludes. “John’s just shouted at this chap so he obviously wants me to keep an eye out.”

Max fixes himself in position at the front gate and hoists his tail high into the air; he’s keen to let the oncoming stranger know he’s about.

John doesn’t notice.

Henry’s still coming. So Max decides he needs to be more clear. He starts to emit a deep, low growl in Henry’s direction just to make certain the stranger who’s purposely striding towards him, his owner and HIS garden is left in no uncertain terms that he’s not moving

Henry’s still coming. And now he’s close enough for Max to notice his sunglasses. “This is getting more serious by the second”, thinks Max. “He’s not only not listening to me; he’s staring right at me. I know, I’ll stare right back at him. See if he’s as brave then.”

Problems. Henry is still as brave. To Max, Henry’s sunglasses look like wide, staring eyes, boring straight ahead and as he marches staunchly toward the increasingly anxious Labrador, Max wonders what his next move might be. As body language goes, Henry is showing all the signs of refusing to listen to Max’s advice.

Now tense and feeling genuinely threatened, Max is offered an escape. John jogs inside to fetch a couple of bottles of beer and Max is only too pleased to hurriedly follow his master. Max is somewhat relieved to suspect that John, his idol, is just as scared as he is about the relentless stranger pursuing them both from outside the garden gate.

“Shut the door John, shut the door” Max worries. “He’s still coming and you haven’t closed the door”.

Too late. Max’s heart leaps as he hears the gate swing open. Too late.

His worst fears are confirmed. The unrelenting Henry is now purposefully making his way up the garden path and toward the house where Max and John are isolated, cornered and in Max’s case, petrified.

Gathering up every ounce of his canine courage and without a second’s thought for his own safety Max charges out of the house, tail hoisted aloft and barking his war cry as loud as his voice will muster. He heads straight for Henry wondering why this stalking maniac refused to listen to all of his earlier warnings.

“You might kill me but you’ll never take John”, Max decides.

Henry, his face very quickly drained of all its color, is shocked and taken aback to be confronted by a clearly furious Max, the dog he’d heard so many nice stories about from doting John. This isn’t at all the dog he thought he’d be meeting.

Henry, alarmed and frightened makes his way toward Max, attempting to offer a hand of reassurance and friendship.

Max is having none of it.

“John warned you. Then I warned you. Why wouldn’t you just listen?” reasoned Max.

Undeterred by Henry’s advance and determined not to let his owner come to any harm, Max lunges in Henry’s direction.

The realization that Max is a long way past the stage of being able to be pacified dawns on Henry fast and he hastily tries to beat a retreat back out of the gate from which he entered.

John, hearing the commotion and now panic stricken by Max’s attack bellows “No! Max, no.”

Acutely tuned to his owner’s emotions and sensing the fear and alarm in John’s voice, Max forges ahead and launches into a full scale attack on Henry.

And then, as quick as it began, it was over.

An ambulance arrives to take Henry away and, hearing the commotion, John’s neighbors have summoned the Police.

John can be heard explaining, “He’s never done anything like this before“, the attack came “totally out of the blue“, Max was always “such a trustworthy dog“, he’s “never shown any signs of aggression in his life“, the attack was “totally unprovoked“.

But we know differently don’t we?

Let’s look again at how Max saw things unfold:

1. Max spots a man walking toward his and his owner’s garden – ‘his territory’
2. Not unduly worried, Max paid little attention to the stranger until John shouted in Henry’s direction. To Max, this was a clear signal to ‘watch for danger’
3. Obediently, Max sat at the front gate and watched for that danger.
4. He attempted to signal to Henry by putting his tail in the air and growling, that he was prepared to defend his owner and territory.
5. As Henry gets closer, Max again postures but now spots Henry’s aggressive body language, his wide eyes refusing to overt their gaze a clear signal of intent. Henry’s point blank refusal to alter his path, a sure fire gesture of defiance.
6. As John runs inside, Max’s thoughts turn to escape. He now believes John is as scared as he is and they should both seek shelter from the safety of the house.
7. Too late. As Henry enters the garden (Max and John’s territory) Max does what he thinks his owner needs him to do. He defends against the threat.
8. As Henry runs away and John panics, Max takes this as a sign that he should increase his attack, his canine instincts now in complete overdrive.

So let us again question whether John was correct when he explained to Police that Max’s attack was unprovoked.

Was it unprovoked? Not at all.

Was it unjustified in human, social terms? Absolutely.

Was it avoidable? Totally.

The Aftermath

Henry, his pain eased only slightly by drugs lies motionless in a hospital bed and starts to face the reality that a visit to see a dear, old friend has left him disfigured for the rest of his life. He ponders how best to explain to his young children that he’s still their Dad even though he knows his mutilated features will upset them deeply. He wonders how life will be from now on, how people will react to him.

Max confused and still frightened by the terrifying ordeal earlier in the day is now wondering why he’s found himself confined to a small, secure cage at the vet surgery.

He stares through the bars and looks longingly towards the door, hoping against hope that he will soon be reunited with his trusted friend and master, John.

Unbeknown to Max, he’ll never see John again.

As the door swings open, Max’s tail momentarily begins to wag but he’s deflated. It’s not John. It’s a vet nurse.

He’s still pleased to see her. He’s lonely and upset and he just wants to go home and be with his friend.

He’s too pre-occupied to wonder why the vet nurse seems so wary of him. Wanting to put her at ease, he submissively offers up his paw. As the vet nurse holds it, she carefully shaves a small patch of fur away from his leg.

Max didn’t even notice the injection.

On this day it wasn’t only Max’s body that was destroyed as John’s memories of a kind, gentle, fun loving dog died too.

He asks himself once more, “Why did my dog attack someone for no reason?”

John may never know it, but Max had his reasons.

Dogs do not bite people without reason. They do not attack out of the blue. They do not launch into savage, frenzied assaults without provocation despite what you will undoubtedly read in news reports when the next dog attack hits the press.

There are NO devil dogs. There are NO unprovoked dog attacks. There IS a huge gap in understanding amongst some dog owners about why dogs attack and until we can bridge that gap in education people will continue to be attacked and more and more dogs will join Max, their memories destroyed along with their bodies.

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How to Stop A Dog Fight

How to Break up Dog Fights

 

If you have ever experienced two dogs fighting, it can be very intimidating if you do not know what to do.  A few weeks ago I took my dog, Macie, to a local dog park in Downers Grove, IL.  Macie and I go there frequently (maybe twice weekly).  On this particular beautiful sunny spring day, Macie and another dog got into a little fight. They were both about the same size, so it wasn’t a lopsided fight. I had broken up dog fights before, so I didn’t panic. I simply grabbed Macies’ collar and swiftly and firmly pulled her towards me. This method worked out perfectly in this scenario, but may not be as successful in a more violent fight. The two dogs in this fight did not get too engaged before I stepped in to intervene.

One of the most important things about breaking up dog fights is to know your dog. In my case, I know Macie very well and therefore I know her tendencies, and how she reacts in certain situations. However; simply knowing your dog may not be enough. You also need to know some basic methods that work, and that are safe for both dogs, and multiple dogs participating in one fight.

I found a couple of methods that should work to safely break up dog fights. The following information is solely intended as suggestions, and not to be misconstrued as expert advice.  However, the methods have been proven to work safely for the dogs and the person that attempts to break up the fight.

  1. Spray Shield Animal Deterrent
  2. Wheelbarrow method
  3. Hickory hammer handle (find at hardware store)

  The Spray Shield Animal Deterrent can be found at most pet supply stores. Now let me explain the wheelbarrow method. This is the safest method to use to break up two aggressive dogs that have a hold on each other. Grab hold of the dogs’ hind legs and raise the legs off the ground. Once the legs are off the ground, hold still and wait until dog relaxes. Watch the dogs’ mouth and when it relaxes to make another bite, quickly pull the dogs apart before their mouths bite down again. Do not shake or pull on dogs when they are locked as this could cause serious damage by ripping the flesh. Just relax and do not be too aggressive because your dog will feed off your energy. It is important that you remain as calm as possible.

The Hickory hammer handle can be used to wiggle between the teeth of the dog. . One can be made from a Hickory Hammer handle from the hardware store, all you do is sand the small end down to be a smooth flat rounded edge that will not hurt the dog’s mouth, we always put a cord on the other end so we could hang a few around the kennels within easy reach. To use it, you gently wiggle the break stick in between the teeth where the natural opening is on the side of the mouth about half way up the muzzle. Get to know that spot, it is helpful for giving pills and medicine too, and other dog do things. Do not push the stick all the way through the dogs’ mouth. When the stick is between the teeth and you feel the tongue then push downward with the handle of the breaker stick and the dog’s mouth will open.

The following advice on how to stop a dog fight is from Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer:

 

First, do not get rid of your instincts. There is no knowledge behind instinctual intelligence so “not thinking” is actually a good thing. In my profession, I only use “thinking” when I have to explain something to the human. With dogs, it’s all about instinct and energy.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind. You can stop a dog fight by observing body language. This is what I do with aggressive cases – stop the bad dog behavior at the very instance you see it about to escalate. But if that’s not possible, during a dog fight, once there is one occurring, stay calm and observe who or which of the two dogs is at a higher level of intensity. That’s the dog I’m going to focus on. Then you need to step in to give that dog the right touch – this means the ribcage area. The reason is that this forces the dog to open his mouth and let go of his hold on the other dog during the dog fight. It’s about timing too, so look for the right moment and then act quickly.

You can use a loud, strong voice or grunt directly at him and pull back from the back of his neck and collar – not from the top, but from the back and pull up, otherwise he can interpret this as you getting into the fight as well, and this is when the dog can turn on the human and bite him because his level of intensity is so high, he doesn’t think “oh, that’s the human.” You’re just another dog in the fight and before you know it, the dog you’re trying to defend is coming after you.

Whether it’s a big dog or little dog, the technique and method is the same. Do not scream repeatedly unless you are calling for help. Sometimes people are not going to help, so don’t expect that everyone will have your ability or good will. Most importantly, be quick, stay mindfully aware, emotionally in tune, and remain calm and assertive.

(www.cesarsway.com/askcesar/anxiety/breakingupdogafight)

 

 

 

 

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