SPEAK! Oklahoma's Only Talk Radio Show for Dog Lovers

SPEAK!  Oklahoma's Only Talk Radio Show for Dog Lovers
KTOK, 1000 on the AM dial, at 1:00pm cst, listen live from anywhere at www.ktok.com

Saturday, December 19, 2009

****** Ten Rules For Living With A Pushy Dog: ****** Structure Without Force


Until you have owned your dog for at least 6 months, and have completed a training course to help you evaluate your dog,  don't get in a big hurry to allow your dog on the bed or to jump up on the furniture uninvited. It takes some dogs a while to show you who they are--if they snap or growl, believe them! An aggressive dog is telling you it needs more structure, is uncomfortable, and needs less opportunity to make decisions about space. 

Have the dog wear a leash in the house (only when supervised of course) and remove the dog from the furniture using the leash.  This makes it safer for dogs that might bite if you reached for the collar to remove them.


If your dog demand barks for food, has been shown to be more reactive in areas of food preparation, then food should be presented to the dog after it responds to a few simple commands.  No free choice feeding.  Any food not consumed in 10 minutes is taken away and not offered again until the next meal time. 

Owner aggressive dogs will benefit by having several meals per week hand fed. Each handful should be earned by the dog's response to a command.


Don't let your dog control your movement.  Teach your dog to "heel" or walk with respect at your side without pulling you. Head halters, and a good obedience class will work wonders. Don't let the dog lean forward and balance on the front end.  Teach your dog that a good brisk walk does not entail sniffing, or repeatedly dropping their head.  Think about the walk as more of a structured march than free time for the dog.


If the dog chews, urinates, and/or has displayed pushy, controlling behavior, it is time to limit freedom. Crate train for times when you are away from the house, and some when you are home, the dog should be crated and be expected to be quiet and accepting. Use baby gates, or "stationing" when you are there to supervise.

Stationing: tie your dog to a doorknob or heavy piece of furniture. Give the dog something acceptable to chew. The dog can be stationed during the family's meal times, when guests arrive, or anytime you want the dog to be part of the family but under control. Stationing can be done for 20-30 minutes for young dogs up to several hours for older dogs. Be sure and give the dog appropriate potty breaks.


Don't play tug-of-war with your dog unless you do so with control,  and teach an "out" or "drop-it" command. When you play "fetch games" start and end the game with possession of the toy. It is not acceptable for the dog to bite at your skin or clothes.  Children should not engage in tug games with the family dog. 


Ignore nudging, whining or bringing you toys. Have your dog obey a command before giving it attention. All treats must be earned. Games are earned. Control the reward of going outside and coming in; be sure you are not jumping up and down to let the dog in and out at every demand.


Don't let your dog decide what handling is appropriate. Handle your dog's ears, feet, tail, etc. and groom it as long as you choose.  Read about Touch Desensitization in Brenda Aloff's book,  Get Connected With Your Dog.

If this is a problem, seek help from a licensed behaviorist, or a NADOI or APDT endorsed instructor in your area.


The threshold of your home is yours--not your dog's. Teach your dog a "quiet" command so that alarm barking does not become uncontrolled nuisance barking.

Do not allow the dog to greet your guests before you do. Dogs are easily taught to back up, so that you are between guests and the dog until the dog is more calm. This will also stop most jumping up on guests. You can also meet and greet guests with the dog on leash to help control barking, jumping, or circling (many reported bites are to the back of the legs of guests). Dogs who are persistent in attention demanding behaviors should be ignored for the first few minutes that you are home. Visitors should ignore your dog for 5-10 minutes.

Ask the dog who is determined to door-dash to look up at you when approaching a door. Food lures work well for teaching stationary attention. 


Train your dog to walk on a short, loose lead in the direction you choose. Male or female dogs should not be allowed to urinate away from home territory on your neighborhood walks. To allow this makes the dog think they are marking a very large territory. If your dog tries to mark every tree and post, continue to walk briskly.

The dog should have a good energy burn-off every day. This can be through walks, swimming, biking (check out the Springer apparatus for safely biking with your dog), or retrieve games in addition to the structured walk.


Some owners see their dogs as children and make excuses for behaviors that are often dangerous. Some rescue dogs may have had a rough experience, but it is we who remember the incident, not the dog. Being a victim of neglect or abuse is not a reason for aggression. 

Other owners want to blame the dog and give him or her human characteristics and reasoning abilities of which dogs are simply not capable. Dogs are not vengeful or vindictive, they are not capable of complex retaliatory acts (like chewing your new shoes because the dog was mad about something that happened yesterday). Dogs understand through instinct and training. Dogs need consistency, and time, time spent with their owners. That time is the most important thing to our dogs.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Choosing the Right Breeder: Ethics vs Profit

People ask me all the time how to choose the right breeder. They also ask me how I have ended up with healthy dogs, dogs who live a long, long life, and how I have had dogs ranked in the top 10 in the country for their breed in AKC obedience, but haven't spent a fortune. The answer all goes back to the origin of my dogs. That begins with the breeder.

Here are the most common mistakes that owners make when buying a dog:

1. Buying A Dog From An Internet Website

So many people have shown me sites, and they were so proud of where they purchased their dog. What dog-knowledgeable people could tell from the site was that it was a front for a puppy mill. Here are some of the things to look for that are bad news: Selling multiple breeds, and not listing a physical address that you could actually drive to the location to inspect the facilities. Showing 8-10 males or females used for breeding. Not listing PENN-HIP, OFA or CERF numbers or ratings. Not listing any titles on the breeding dogs. These should be Championships, CDs, CDXs, Agility titles, Schutzhund titles, etc. If you don't know what the titles after a dog's name stand for, then look it up. These titles will tell you a great deal about the temperament and trainability of the parents, which means your dog will be easier to live with and train. Also, be a detective. Type in names, addresses, phone numbers, see if they are listed on any of the "Buyer Beware" sites. When doing a search on a breeder for a friend, I found they had a USDA number. USDA numbers are given to commercial kennels who breed so many dogs that they have to be inspected. They usually sell dogs to brokers and pet shops.

2. Not Expecting Enough Of The Breeder Or The Breeding Dogs

Many breeders want to charge you 1-2 thousand dollars for a dog. These are not necessarily good dogs or good breeders. I actually know someone who was quoted $6,000.00 for a German Shepherd adolescent whose parents have no titles. The good German Shepherd breeders both locally and in Germany have had a good laugh at this guy. But you know he may find someone with more dollars than sense.

I purchased a great German Shepherd from a European breeder. I spoke with at least 25 people who have purchased dogs over many years from this breeder. I emailed and talked with people by phone. I spoke with the breeder several times through email and by phone. My dog's parents are both titled, her father has won many German Schutzhund trials, and placed in the WUSV (huge honor and accomplishment.) My female is healthy, has a great brain for learning, very confident, courageous, has been a certified therapy dog, and will compete in Schutzhund, AKC Obedience, and Agility. She was $1,000.00 plus $400.00 airfare. She came with a health guarantee for any genetic problem including hips and eyes.

A good breeder belongs to a governing agency or club that makes them sign a code of ethics. Most of these agencies forbid breeders from selling to pet shops, brokers, or selling dogs for resale to retail outlets or brokers. A good breeder wants a cradle to grave aggreement which means that if the new owner doesn't want the dog, the dog has to go back to the breeder, not end up in a puppy mill and bred to death, or dumped in a shelter. If a breeder brags on how much money they have made in puppy sales -- RUN!

3. Not Meeting The Puppy's Parents

Bad breeders will make all kinds of excuses for why you can't meet the mother of a litter. If you go to visit a breeder and a litter, make sure the breeder knows in advance that you are coming to meet the dam (mother of the puppies), and the sire (father). Sometimes the father is not on the premesis because semen is flown in, and he lives in another state or even country. But there is no excuse for not letting you meet the mother except that maybe she is a fruitcake. If the mother backs away, growls, barks, or in anyway acts fearfully. Do not buy a puppy. I don't care what excuse the breeder gives for her temperament.

A great deal of a puppy's temperament is inherited from the mother dog. Again, often a bad female is bred to a great male hoping to correct a problem in the pups, but what you get is usually the good genes watered-down by the bad. Also, I have seen dozens of new momma dogs who welcome visitors after the puppies are 6 weeks old. She is ready for them to go. So don't listen to how she is being protective of her young. That is just one more excuse for bad temperaments.

4. Assuming That Because A Dog Is Pretty, Or Even Has A Championship, That The Dog's Temperament Is Good

There are breeders out there who only breed dogs for conformation shows. Often these dogs come from a long line of champions. But many of these dogs have lost their ability to work. There are Border Collie Champions who will not herd. There are Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers who are afraid of water, and who are aggressive with children. Many AKC Champion German Shepherds have such extreme conformation faults that they have to be euthanized at 5-6 years of age because of their hips and backs. Many of these dogs are fearful, too. Great dogs worthy of being bred have titles in working sports. They are more apt to be trainable and heathy.

5. Not Recognizing Buzzwords That Are The Mark Of Poor Breeding

Dogs are not Grand Champions. That is reserved for Hogs and Cows. Dogs are BIS (Best in Show) or Group Winning, or have CH. before their registered name. People who sell dogs having "Champion Bloodlines" are not being really honest. Almost any dog, even those in shelters, or mixedbreeds may have a champion somewhere in their background. It doesn't matter so much what the greatgrandparents or grandparents have done, what did the Sire and Dam do?

Buzzwords like "tiny" "teacup" or "extra large" are all ways of saying the dogs are not correct. Dogs who are larger than they are supposed to be or smaller than they are supposed to be usually mean lots of vet bills and a short life. Look at the AKC Standard for the breed you are interested in, and then look for a breeder who breeds within the standard.

Mixed breeds are great dogs. BUT please adopt, don't buy. Only unethical people cross breeds and sell to those who just want something different and again have more dollars than sense.
Some of my best dogs are adopted ones. They are healthy, and I got them from purebred rescues or shelters. Shelters and rescues screen the animals for health issues, spay or neuter, vaccinate, and make sure the dog doesn't have parasites including heartworms. The adoption fee is usually less than it would cost you for the vaccinations alone. Also, most rescues and shelters will let you have a trial period to make sure the dog fits your family. You can get any dog you want, purebred or mixed from shelters and rescues. You can get puppies or adult dogs without having to look very hard, or go through trying to find the perfect breeder. All of my pet dogs are neutered, spayed, and most were adopted. Only my competition dogs were purchased from breeders.

Be informed. You will save money, and you won't be the schmuck that the breeders laugh about as they vacation in the Bahamas on your money.

If you would like information on breeders, rescues, or training, please visit us at http://www.fullcircleobedienceschool.com/ or call 405-721-7829