- “Max ate a hole in my drywall! Look at his guilty face!”
- “RIP my poor furbaby Pixi! She ran out into the road and got hit by a car, she was only one and a half years old.”
- “Diesel broke out of his crate again and ate my sofa!”
- “Lolly dug out under the fence and ran away, please pray for her safe return. She has a collar but no tags.”
- “Penny was bit at the dog park today! Now we are at the emergency vet!”
The worst part? Accidents happen - but most, if not all, of these scenarios can be prevented using three things – Supervision, Management, Training.
Supervision – Watch your dog at all times and/or keep a leash on the dog – freedom is earned it is not a privilege. Some may think this is harsh but would you let your 5 year old run around unsupervised? Some do and what do we get – videos of kids who have smeared their brother head to toe in peanut butter, markers and paint all over the walls and furniture, flour spread ceiling to floor in the entire house, and the list goes on. All I can think is “Where were the parents?” and the same thing goes for dogs. Watch your dog at all times.
There is a whole idea surrounding keeping your dog on leash 24/7 - it's called umbilical training and it is a great way to bond and speed up obedience training. If you are paying attention to your dog, you can prevent and stop so many accidents from happening! While you are at it – reward your dog when they are doing a good behavior.
Management - anything we do to manage the dog’s behavior. Keeping it on a leash, keeping it in a crate or kennel, having the puppy in an x-pen (exercise pen), providing enough structured exercise, etc.
Training - Training is anything we teach the dog to do – or not to do.
I am going to go through these situations and apply these three things. Supervision is the same for everything – PAY ATTENTION AND WATCH YOUR DOG!
“Max ate a hole in my drywall! Look at his guilty face!”
Many comments were along the lines of "Blame it on the cat." Max ate drywall and now he may be looking at a life threatening disaster brewing in his stomach. He does not know he is "guilty" either, he is reacting to your emotions and body language.
This situation could have been prevented simply with supervision or we can look at management. Max could have been confined to a kennel with safe toys to play with while his owner was busy or she could have ensured that her dog had enough structured exercise to be tired. If we want to talk about the training route we could have trained Max to lie quietly on his bed with his chew toys.
“RIP my poor furbaby Pixi! She ran out into the road and got hit by a car, she was only one and a half years old.”
This dog died because the owner wasn’t watching her adolescent dog. "We have three acres of property I never thought she would run into the road."
She was looking for sympathy and she got it from other owners who didn’t see the big red flag. The dog wasn’t supervised, the dog wasn’t being managed, it was running loose. One of the comments made my stomach turn and then made me angry – “We have lost so many dogs to the road.” – how many dogs do you lose to the road before you realize it is your fault and is completely preventable! Supervise your dog and keep your dog on a leash and/or build a fence! As far as training goes they could have taught their dog a recall (come) command or boundaries training (i.e. similar to invisible fence training). Boundary training can be done at the doorway or the property line.
“Diesel broke out of his crate again and ate my sofa!”
Now, like Max, Diesel has a tummy full of fluff and chemicals and risks an impacted intestine.
The key word here is “again”. Get an appropriate size and strength of crate or kennel and train your dog to enjoy being in it. Give them toys and chew items to occupy their mind. Make sure they are tired and have had plenty of exercise. If they still escape and you replace the kennel buy a stronger kennel. We call them “tiger cages” or a military kennel. They are expensive but worth it. They last for years upon years and could very well prevent an injured or dead dog.
“Lolly dug out under the fence and ran away, please pray for her safe return. She has a collar but no tags.”
Why was Lolly outside alone long enough to dig out under the fence? Why wasn’t she also on a leash or in a kennel with dig bars if the owner knew she liked to dig?
Besides supervision and management, the dog could have been trained to stay away from the fence itself but within the fence line.
As far as identification goes this is completely on the owner. Here is a mini-educational lecture.
Collars – collars can be bought with your information printed onto the collar itself or you can rivet a plate onto any collar with your information on it.
Tags – ID tags are cheap and useful if kept up to date with current information. Make sure tags stay readable and replace when they are getting worn.
Microchips – a permanent solution for identification a chip the size of a grain of rice is implanted under the skin and when scanned displays the owner's information and information about the dog. Microchips are only readable by a scanner and again, the owner is responsible for keeping the information registered and up to date.
Tattoos - Tattoos are another form of permanent identification and are generally found in an ear or inner thigh. Tattoos are numbers or codes that when registered can be searchable.
“Penny was bit at the dog park today! Now we are at the emergency vet!”
This one may very well take the cake as the #1 most irresponsible thing a dog owner can do - take your dog to a dog park full of unknown dogs.
Dog trainers hate dog parks.
I have yet to meet an educated respected trainer that sees dog parks as anything but a place for disease, and uncontrolled, unmanaged dogs with accidents waiting to happen. As a dog owner you need to educate yourself about dog body language and behavior. After you have done so go to a dog park – without a dog – and watch the chaos unfold. You will never take a dog back to a park filled with dogs ever again. Dog parks are best used empty during off hours if your dog has immunity against the many diseases.
Here is a second example - "Not even 10 minutes at the dog park and this crazy dog attacks my two dogs then attacks another dog. Took multiple dog fights before that woman finally took her dog to the other section!" - WHY DID THE OWNER NOT PROTECT HIS DOGS AND LEAVE THE PARK!
Step up and be a responsible dog owner. Seek help with training if you need it.