Monday, May 9, 2011

Snippets and stuff

I've got a bit of variety to post about today, so enjoy these little Dog Blog snippets.

Good reminder on fear series
Last week, I wrote a series of posts about five subtle signs a dog will display when uncomfortable, anxious or scared in a situation.
Nicole Herr, my favorite local dog trainer, had this to add: "It's so important that people understand that these signs don't happen alone. Most often you'll see just two or three, or you'll see them all. All elements of their body language should be taken into account."
She is absolutely correct. Remember that your dog has a large repertoire of body language communications and will send out a variety of signals to indicate it's internal state. Learn as much about canine body language as possible and you'll start seeing your dog in a whole new light — the type of light that will make you say, "Gee, it's not as hard as I thought to communicate with my dog."

Puppy Socialization & Basics class
Nicole also mentioned she's leading a puppy socialization class that starts this Saturday. It'll be at the Wet Noses Pet Camp in downtown Rochester.
The class is open to all puppies between the ages of 3 and 8 months, but they must be up to date on rabies (for those pups six months and older) as well as DHP and Bordatella, and have a negative fecal exam. Bring proof of this from your veterinarian.
Classes are from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on May 14 and 28 and June 4. The class fee is $75 and participants must register in advance by emailing or calling 586-797-9267.
I strongly recommend this class for anyone with an appropriately-aged puppy — Nicole and her husband, Brian, have excellent knowledge about dogs and how they learn. This will provide you with a solid base for future training and no doubt give you a wealth of information that every dog owner should know.

Finding good on-leash trails
I wrote a while back about wanting to find a good place to walk my dog where people are prone to keeping their dogs on leash. I asked all of you to tell me about places you've found, but since I didn't hear from anyone, I reached out to our trails columnist Jonathan Schechter for some advice.
I thought this comment was particularly noteworthy: "Except for dog parks, no dog may be off leash in any park, trail, etc. in the entire state of Michigan (excluding special things that are permitted in some areas). That is the law."
So, to all you lawbreakers out there, you can bet I'll be chastising you if I run into you and your off-leash dog on a trail.
Schechter confirmed what I'd already felt was the case with areas like the Bald Mountain State Recreation Area.
"The DNR state recreation areas are notorious for off leash dogs," he wrote.
I'm disappointed at this. State rec trails tend to be very natural, challenging and beautiful. Unfortunately, I'll be keeping away from them with my dog.
He also confirmed another notion I had: "Best trails that enforce the leash laws are the Oakland County parks and the Huron Clinton metroparks ... From personal experience, a few of the parks with the least chance to encounter doggy violations are Independence Oaks, Addison Oaks, Kensington, Stony and Indian Springs metro parks. And the metroparks BAN pets from the nature trails all together."
I can totally back him up on the note about Addison Oaks. I've been out there more times than I count already this year, and while I've passed lots of people walking dogs, I haven't encountered a single off-leash dog. Way to go, Addison!
I feel like writing a thank you letter.

What if my dog is approached?
A reader emailed for advice on how to deal with the situation if a not-so-friendly dog approaches. Specifically, she asked me about what can be done in an off-leash dog park situation.
"I would love to say this never happens when we are out, but there have been a few times," she writes.
I would love to say it never happens either. I have one of those not-so-friendly dogs and am smart enough to realize he's not cut out for the dog park. Ideally, everyone with less-than-perfect pooches would be able to see that in their dogs and do the same. Unfortunately, too many people have what I call "my-kid-can-do-no-wrong" syndrome.
You know what I'm talking about — just like the parents who refuse to admit that their kids could ever possibly do something wrong, there's a ton of dog owners out there who take the same approach with their pooch. They'll make excuse after excuse after excuse for why their dog did this or that, inevitably finding a way to place blame on something out of their own control.
The world would be a better place if more people could take an honest look at their dogs and realize they're not perfect. That, of course, would necessitate that they do something about those imperfections (and trust me, I do my very best to address my dog's imperfections. That's why I'm out there walking him everyday, trying to expose him and desensitize him to as much of this world as possible rather than just keeping him jailed in the house. I realize, however, that for all I'm able to achieve, my dog will never be a dog park dog. That's just the way it is). And when it comes to doing something about your dog's imperfections, far too many people are either too egotistical to admit that there is a problem and they don't have the slightest clue how to rectify it, or will make up their own "solution" rather than seeking out solid advice.
Either way, I have not in the slightest way answered my reader's question. That, however, is something I will focus on doing throughout posts this week, so check back later this week!

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