Catch Me if you Can!

Last week’s Paw Prints focused on training your dog for really reliable recall, and with patience, persistence, and consistency, you will succeed, but meanwhile, what happens if your dog bolts out an open door that is accidentally left open? Your first instinct is to race after the dog, frantically calling his name. Resist the urge!

It is frustrating (and often dangerous) when your dog takes off, but repeatedly calling him, or chasing after him is not the answer. Chasing a dog that is free will most likely provoke a flight response, or he will assume it is playtime, and will dash farther away, playing the “Catch me if you can” game. If you make your tone more commanding or angry, he will be even less likely to return to you, so it is important for you to convince him that it will be more fun if he returns to you.

If a neighbor down the street observes the interaction, and comes outside to help, the friendly dog may run right to this person, who hopefully will take hold of the collar while petting the wayward canine, but if this doesn’t happen, take a deep breath and stay calm, even if the dog is heading toward a busy road. Ideas for those scary moments:

  • Is there a word that you have used with your dog that always means something wonderful? Perhaps it’s “Cookies!” or “Treat”. Shout it out, using an upbeat, happy voice and if he comes back, be sure to give him the cookie or treat, and praise him profusely for returning!
  • Run AWAY from the dog, laughing and making wild and crazy noises. Yell “Hey, hey, hey,” or whistle or sing loudly to get his attention. When he glances in your direction, keep moving away from him. Most dogs love a good chase, and he may be curious enough about your odd behavior that he will follow along until you can get him into a building or place where it is easier to corral him.
  • Sit down and act as though you have found something valuable on the ground. It can be just about anything: a pop can, even a rock. He may be curious enough to come investigate! Another option is to curl into a ball, with your hands wrapped around your head. Stay really still, and your dog will often come back to see what you are doing.
  • If a car ride is his idea of heaven, back out of your driveway, and open the car door, as an invitation to go for a ride. This may sound too simplistic, but many dogs have been fooled into hopping into a car because they are invited for a ride and yes, now you have to take him for a ride or he might not come the next time you use this ploy!
  • Invite him to play. Grab a ball and interest him in playing fetch with you. Squeak a squeaky toy. Start playing with one of his favorite toys. Whatever games he normally loves to play with you, start playing. Become the place where he wants to be!
  • If you have more than one dog, play with your other dog to spark his interest. If he is friends with a neighbor dog, pay attention to that dog.

Although it is no guarantee, I have seen nearly every one of these techniques work. The key is to fight your instinct to chase the dog, and do something that is not instinctual. Instead, do what seems counter intuitive to both you and the dog. Maintain your composure and stay calm.

Most important of all is, NEVER scold, or punish him when he finally comes to you, no matter how aggravated you are. . If you are angry with him, when you finally get your hands on him, it will only be that much harder to get him to come to you the next time. Put on your best happy face, tell him how wonderful he is, and give him all kinds of positive reinforcement. Be thankful he is home, safe and sound!

Reliable Recall Could Save Your Dog’s Life

Having a healthy, happy dog means having a dog that is balanced in both physical and emotional needs, and accomplishment of this goal requires training. Sponsored by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, January is National Train Your Dog Month, an event designed to promote the importance of socialization, and benefits of training, emphasizing the sad fact that many dogs are relinquished to animal shelters every year for behavior and training issues that could have been easily solved with proper socialization and positive, gentle, science-based methods of training. According to trainer Ken Ramirez, “Training is not a luxury; it is a key component to good animal care, and enhances the quality of life for our pets. It is far more than just teaching a dog to do cute tricks. Training is about teaching a dog how to live in our world safely.”

“COME” is probably the most basic command every dog needs to learn in order to live in our world safely. A dog that won’t come when he is called is a danger to himself and others and a frustration for his caregiver. We’ve all been there. The door gets opened, and the dog dashes out. We call and call and then frantically race after him, and when we finally catch him, we scold him. Not the best approach.

To get your dog to come to you EVERY time, you have to make it worth his while. An example is given by Wendy Nicberg, whose dog darted out and ran into the street. She took a deep breath and shouted, “Linus, COOKIE.” The dog turned around and raced back, eager for a cookie!

“Come” should always be used in a positive way, never involving unpleasantness or punishment. Caregivers often sabotage the training by ordering the dog to come when he is doing fun things, and he soon learns that the command “come” or “come here” means, “quick…run the other way, or my fun will end.” NEVER call your dog to come and then give him a bath, or confine him, and certainly never punish him when he comes. If she has misbehaved and you shout, “Bad dog…come here…bad dog”, she will naturally be reluctant to come the next time you call. COME should always mean that something good will happen to him, something better than whatever he’s doing at the time. If you have overused the word, Come, to the point that your dog has learned to ignore it, choose a new word, such as “Cookie” or “treat” or “here.” ( ALL family members should use the same word ALL the time.)

Begin “Come” training indoors or in an enclosed area: Say your dog’s name, and add the recall word. Praise her as soon as she starts to come, and be generous with rewards. High value treats such as small cubes of cheese, tiny bits of chicken, or her favorite homemade biscuit are usually effective, especially if offered before meals, when she is hungry.

Outdoors, without an enclosed area, is tougher. It is better to attach a long, light line to your dog’s collar or harness (NO choke collar), so that he is easier to catch if he gets distracted and tries to run after something. Begin by calling him when he is NOT doing something he is really enjoying, so you have a better chance of his responding. Again praise generously, and offer special treats, so that he learns that coming means high value treats. Briefly interact with him, and then allow him to go back to his activity. You don’t want him to associate coming with the end of play time.

Call your dog using this method (with long safety lead attached) several times a day for a couple weeks—in circumstances when you are sure he will come. Use the same recall word consistently and always be generous with rewards. Then comes the big test, no safe enclosure, no lead attached. Once learned, consistently practice this activity.”Use it or Lose it!” Rewards and repetition are keys to training your dog to come, and really reliable recall takes lots of practice, lots of patience and lots of treats, but it no exaggeration to say that effective recall might sometime save your dog’s life.

Help Your Dog Avoid the Back to School Blues

When summer is over and it’s time to go back to school, the kids often suffer from a bout of “back to school blues” as they adjust to classroom regimentation, but the effect isn’t limited to the two legs. All summer long, there was probably someone home with the dog, and now that everyone is back to fall schedules, dogs may feel neglected, or even experience anxiety or depression, and look for inappropriate ways to cope. According to veterinarian Nick Dodman, nearly 20 percent of our nation’s 80 million dogs have some degree of separation issues, and more than half of dogs with separation anxiety will bark, howl or whine, and some will destroy something, leaving behind scratched doors, damaged blinds or torn curtains. Dodman emphasizes that dogs like structure and when that structure is disrupted, it is sometimes difficult for dogs to adjust to changes, such as to long stretches of being home alone.

Even if your dog does not exhibit signs of separation anxiety, she will appreciate a routine that ensures she gets enough attention and exercise. Here are a few strategies that will make the home-alone transition less traumatic:

  • Be consistent. Keep as close to the same schedule as he is used to for feeding, playtime, and exercise, but if necessary, get up early to take the dog for a walk or have some playtime before everyone leaves for the day. This will help your dog feel less ignored in the hustle and bustle of the morning, and burn off excess energy before you leave. A good walk will help start the day off right, setting the stage for good behavior all day. If you can’t walk outside, a tread mill is a life saver. Most dogs can be taught to enjoy treadmilling with a minimum of training.
  • Keep departures and arrivals low key. Car keys, lunch boxes, and back packs clinking and clanging will have your dog waiting at the door expecting to be included in any anticipated activity. No “huggy-kissy, I’ll miss you” scenes which will unintentionally create anxiety in him. Act calm, quiet and casual…if you act like it’s no big deal, then it won’t be a big deal.
  • Make your dog’s home-alone time a source of pleasure and discovery by leaving a few safe toys around the house, being sure to hide them in areas where the dog is allowed, and consider leaving food-dispensing games. A few well stuffed Kongs will provide hours of diversion for her. (Be sure to choose the best sized kongs…large enough that she couldn’t possibly swallow them, but not so big that she can’t get her jaws around it) If you stuff Kongs in the evening and freeze them, you can just grab several from the freezer in the morning.. When filling a Kong, be sure that the dessert, the last thing your dog will be able to extract from the toy, is packed in first. Make this layer irresistible, to keep the dog motivated all the way to the end of the Kong. Fill the first third of the cavity with tasty bits of cheese, bits of bacon, or whatever special goodies suits your dog’s fancy. Then fill the next two-thirds with your dog’s regular food, mixed with something sticky and tasty like cream cheese, low fat yogurt, or peanut butter. Top the Kong off with a particularly tasty morsel sticking out of the opening to give your dog an immediate reward. Some trainers advocate feeding the dog’s entire morning’s kibble in Kongs. (Remember to wash the Kongs regularly…they can be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher or scrubbed by hand.)
  • If possible take a lunch break…..if someone in your house can go home during lunch to let the dog out for a quick walk. It will really help relieve the stress of being alone for 8 hours. If that’s not an option, consider having a friend stop by or paying a dog walker, or a doggie day care a few days a week.
  • At the end of a day alone, remember that your dog needs to be played with. Another walk, or playtime in the yard gets out all that pent up energy and lets her know you still love her even if you have to be gone.

Help your dog beat the back to school blues, and if problems arise, remember punishment for anxiety or inappropriate behavior is NEVER productive. The dog is misbehaving because he is upset or traumatized, not out of spite. Patience, persistence, and positive reinforcement will usually correct any minor difficulties.

How We Say Hello Matters!

It’s spring, and both two-legs and four-legs are spending more time outdoors, enjoying the pleasant weather, and the four-legs are usually the attention getters, whether at the park, the pet store, or on daily walks. When someone appears with a dog it is almost mandatory for other dog lovers to fawn all over him, get right in his face, and talk to him in exited voices while reaching out to pet him, which sounds great, except for the fact that not all dogs are in love with every stranger they meet. Most dogs need time to process a stranger, and determine whether or not the new person meets with approval, but most people just gleefully dive right into the dog, kneeling, reaching, patting on the head, talking baby talk, staring… Actions that put many dogs into one of three states: fight, flight, or avoidance: All invitations to get nipped or even bitten.

The correct way to greet a strange dog is not at all…just ignore the dog. Yup… just ignore him completely, and greet the caregiver. As Cesar Milan stresses, “No touch, no talk, no eye contact is the advice I give for meeting a strange dog. Let him come to you to get to know your scent and sense your energy. Do not offer the dog affection until he shows calm, submissive energy. Once he decides that you are okay, you will notice the dog’s body posture relax, and maybe even a nudge into you for a scratch on the back. Don’t go overboard, even if the dog seems interested. No roughhousing, or loud vocalization. Push an insecure dog too fast, and he will act defensively. Stay calm and cool.”

If you see a lone, tethered dog, just leave him alone. If you feel he is being neglected, report him to the authorities, but don’t try to be Doctor Doolittle. More important, teach your children to do the same. Of the millions of reported dog bites in the U.S. every year, the majority of them involve children under the age of twelve, and are often due to adults encouraging them to greet the dog by touching him.

Lili Chin offers these specifics as how NOT to greet a dog:

  • Don’t lean over a dog and stick your hand in his face.
  • Don’t lean over the dog and stick your hand on top of his head
  • Don’t grab or hug him
  • Don’t stare him in the eye (dogs perceive this as an adversarial gesture)
  • Don’t squeal or shout in his face
  • Don’t grab his head and kiss him (this is an invasion of space).

Doing these things to a dog who doesn’t know you is like a perfect stranger rushing up to you to give you a great big hug and kiss…Wouldn’t that creep you out? And wouldn’t you have the right to defend yourself?

The correct way to greet a dog is to allow the dog to approach you in his own time, keeping either your side or back toward the dog. This will be perceived by the dog as a non-threatening posture.

When he approves you, stroke him on the side of his face or body, or on his back, not on the top of the head. (And if you have a treat in your pocket, now is the time to offer it!)

Think twice about letting your leashed dog greet unfamiliar dogs during walks, or in other public places, even if their caregivers assure you that their dog is friendly. Unless you are positive that the dogs interact well with other leashed dogs, don’t encourage contact. Aggression is usually triggered by inappropriate behavior of humans rather than the canines, but the dogs somehow always get the blame.

Respect your dog, and she will respect you. “I did what I knew how to do. When I knew better, I did better”—Maya Angelou

We recently found some awesome **FREE** dog posters online (also created by Lili Chin). These would make great handouts for those who serve schools or other educational events. Find more on her website:!freeposters/ckm8

Train Your Dog and Feed the Squirrels

January is Train Your Dog Month, and while working on this week’s Paw Prints, I have been sidetracked several times. Seems like there are “special recognition days and months” for just about everything. I certainly did not know that there was a “Squirrel Appreciation Day” celebrated every January… and although we feed the squirrels and enjoy watching their antics, I never imagined how many sites feature this special day.

I don’t know how effective squirrel training might be, but I do know that dog training is a vital aspect of responsible pet care. Inappropriate behavior is a major reason given when a dog is relinquished to a shelter, which is sad for both the humans and the dog, especially when most problems could be resolved. Dog training is not just an 8 week class; it is an ongoing effort that will continue for the life of your dog, and, like people, no two dogs are alike, so they respond differently, but the best way to change unwanted behavior is by positive reinforcement. If you want your dog to do something, find a way for it to make sense to her and she will respond, and be reasonable in your expectations… a dog is a dog is a dog!

  • When it’s time to train, put aside your frustrations of the day, and focus on the positive relationship you would like to have with your dog. Training should be an enjoyable experience for both you and the dog, and if you are not in the right mood for training, don’t even start the session.
  • Always ask yourself what you want your dog to do in any given situation. If you don’t know, she can’t possibly know either. Sometimes it is possible to prevent the dog from making a mistake in the first place by teaching her substitute behaviors. Instead of jumping up on people, teach her to sit. Instead of chewing on shoes, provide appropriate dog chew toys (and put your shoes away so they are not temptations) She will soon learn that sitting gets a better reaction than jumping up, and that scraping human body parts with her paw doesn’t get her a walk in the park.
  • Use whatever reinforcement your dog enjoys the most, something highly prized…treats and praise rate high with most dogs.
  • Dogs respond best to short, calm commands. Use exactly the same word every time, and avoid constantly repeating a command. Say it once, using a firm tone that is crisp and cheerful. Then wait for compliance.
  • Timing is important. Delayed reinforcement seldom works. Your dog sits, but by the time you say, “Good dog,” she is standing again…so what are you encouraging? Re-enforcing too quickly is also ineffective as giving rewards for behavior that has not yet occurred simply creates confusion.
  • Use all of your dog’s behaviors to earn him “what he wants.” Make getting anything that your dog desires a learning opportunity. It doesn’t matter what behavior you ask for, as long as you ask the dog to do “something” in exchange for a valuable reward.
  • Training should never involve any negative or punishment-based component… no yelling, hitting or chain jerking. Each session should be upbeat and positive with rewards for well done.
  • When training, it is important to be consistent with sessions every day, and repetition is important. Everyone is busy, busy, busy, but, If possible, short sessions two or three times daily will work miracles with your dog…and don’t forget to feed the squirrels!!!

While we are busy teaching our dogs to sit, stay, and roll over, they are teaching us love, loyalty and joy.—Yorinks



Great Gifts For Your Favorite Pooch

Every pet outlet is taking advantage of the impulse buyer at this festive time of year. Pet stores and sites are tantalizing dog lovers with a vast array of “dog stuff”, and it is tough for dog lovers to resist with all the “hot buys” offered. Here a toy, there a toy, everywhere a toy, and your dog certainly needs a new toy (or two, or three!) for Christmas, right?

It is important to realize that there is NO agency overseeing the yearly $50 BILLION dollar dog toy market, and many of them are not good for your canine. With the market flooded with cheap imports, it’s BUYER BEWARE. Double check and then check again to make sure any toy is non-toxic and SAFE. Hazards can include anything from needles left inside stuffed toys to chemical laden paints and choking dangers, which are all too common with many of the toys. Although tennis balls are wonderful for some dogs, if the dog is an aggressive chewer, he can puncture the ball with his teeth and the ball is stuck in his mouth, or if he chews them in half, pieces can be swallowed…we have two dogs at the shelter right now that LOVE tennis balls, but cannot be left unattended with them. Squeaky toys are a favorite for almost all dogs, but again it is common for dogs to choke on them often causing a blockage that requires surgery. Dogs also love rawhides which can become soft when they are chewed and can lodge in the throat. I do not recommend ever giving raw hides to your dog!

Please choose products made in North America or Europe over those mass-produced and imported from other countries where safety standards are minimal. Inspect any toy for loose parts or pieces that might easily break off. Don’t give children’s toys to dogs, because they would probably chew off and choke on the eyes and noses of stuffed animals.

One of my very favorite commercial toy for dogs is the Kong. The Classic Kong has been around for more than 20 years, and is a “must have” staple for dog caregivers. Kong toys are uniquely shaped, extraordinarily strong, rubber toys with hollow centers, and they have an unpredictable bounce that lures most dogs into an ongoing game of catch, chase, and chew. (Sadly the Kong Company is now outsourcing some of their new products, but the Classic Kongs are made in the USA.) This amazing toy can be used for therapy, boredom, separation anxiety, other behavior problems, and just plain fun! Every dog should have several Kongs, especially if he is left alone for extended periods of time. A Kong can be stuffed with almost any kind of food your dog likes. Mix some of his meal with a little canned dog food, yogurt, peanut butter, cottage cheese…combinations are endless.

Another favorite toy is the CUZ, an ingeniously designed, natural rubber ball with feet….but that is not the only inventive thing about it. It squeaks…and the squeaker is built into the Cuz so that it won’t fall out. It has become a real favorite with the dogs at the shelter. It is a well-made toy made by JW Pets, a US based company that claims their ideas are l00% homegrown. They do their own inventing, designing, and creating in their facility in Texas…no outsourcing. They also have a big assortment of other creative, well made toys, with the latest addition being the Cuz Tails, which has a soft, squeaky tail that can be bounced, tugged and fetched …fun for both humans and canines. JW dog toys are better quality than most of the toys you find in dog toy departments. We encourage you to check out their website at You’ll find some really fun dog stuff.

Remember that no toy is indestructible, and as long as the toy industry is an unsupervised playground, it is the responsibility of the caregivers to keep their eyes on the ball, stuffing, and squeaker.


Beat Those Back To School Blues!

“Well, I knew summer vacation was over this morning when I heard the alarm.

I fell out of bed, hitting the floor with my arm

and I knew one thing for sure…

I have the back to school blues.

I have my brand new back pack loaded up,

and brand new threads to head off to school.

My cell phone will be banned, so I will have to text from the can…

I definitely have the back to school blues.”

With all the confusion surrounding the kids heading back to school, many animal caregivers may not think about what it means for the dog. You may notice behavioral changes such as a sad dog who mopes around or sleeps most of the time…or she may start chewing on things she shouldn’t, but you may not even connect the unacceptable behavior with back-to-school time. Dogs need routine to make them feel secure. They like knowing that certain things happen at about the same time every day, and if the kids have been around all summer, playing with them, and suddenly they’re gone all day, it’s upsetting. Some pets just feel confused and sad, but others feel real separation anxiety and may need special attention to keep them occupied and stimulated during the long hours when parents are at work and the children are at school. It is important to curb unwanted behavior before it escalates into destructive habits.

  1. EXERCISE…EXERCISE…EXERCISE! A dog who has had a good walk in the morning is less likely to get into trouble during the day!  A tired dog is a good dog! After the EVERY morning exercise session, give him something to do while you are gone.
  2. Maintain a regular schedule as much as possible, and keep comings and goings low key. No huggy/kissy “I’ll miss you” scenes that will only fuel anxiety in your dog. Have the kids ignore the dog for a few minutes before they leave, and after they return, to lower his excitement level and reduce any tension he may feel.
  3. “Find it” is a game he can play by himself. Hide a favorite toy or few healthy treats (baby raw carrots are good!) for him to discover. Don’t place them in spots where there are shoes or other items that you do not want him to chew….dogs don’t discriminate acceptable chew items from forbidden shoes or two-legs toys!  Make sure the toys are safe…dogs love squeaky toys, but if your dog is a tenacious chewer, he could remove the squeaker and swallow it….NEVER leave a dog alone with any raw hide chew… I actually recommend NEVER giving rawhides to any dog at any time…they are not healthy treats, and if chewed and swallowed can cause serious blockages that often require surgery.
  4. All dogs should have at least a couple Kongs, uniquely shaped toys of durable rubber with hollow centers which can be filled with “good stuff.” Unstuffing Kongs can keep dogs contentedly busy for hours while they dig for the nuggets stuffed inside. A simple stuffing is just a little peanut butter rubbed inside the Kong, with a little kibble and a few doggie treats and maybe a couple small hunks of cheese added. If your dog has never had a stuffed Kong, make it easy to remove the stuffing at first, so that she will succeed at her removal activity. As she becomes more experienced, you may want to make the task more challenging by packing the stuffing tighter, or wedging biscuits (preferably healthy, homemade ones) inside the cavity using the inside rim of the opening to secure them. For creative ways to stuff your Kong, go to

Never punish your dog for anxiety or inappropriate behavior. If a dog misbehaves, it is because he is frightened or upset; he does NOT behave badly out of spite or to “get even”. No matter what he does during your absence, punishment will only intensify the problem. Good caregivers know that positive reinforcement, persistence, and patience can correct just about any difficult

Let’s Beat Those Back To School Blues

Back-to-school time involves transition for the entire family, as parents and children begin to adjust to a new routine, but it is a confusing time for dogs who have enjoyed extra attention and playtime during summer vacation. Think about it—there is nothing better in a dog’s eyes than having his humans around for extended periods of time. When the kids go back to school, they have activity filled days with friends and fun and extracurricular activities often take some of the after-school time, keeping them ( and moms and dads) busy day in, day out. Suddenly the dog is left alone with lack of activity and attention!  Dogs are very attached to their humans, and it is difficult for them to suddenly spend 8 hours or more alone each day, and even when the children do come home, they are often busy with schoolwork or school activities. This can result in boredom and separation issues, which can cause a normally well-behaved dog to behave badly—barking excessively, chewing on furniture, or soiling in the house. Tactics to help the family dog transition to the new home-alone schedule include:

  • Pumping up the exercise. Don’t use busyness as an excuse for not spending time with your dog.  Schedule time EVERY day for some physical activity—a long walk, or an active round of fetch. (Leaving the dog alone in the yard does NOT count as exercise.)  Get up a little earlier to interact with the dog, which will make your dog feel less ignored, and will also lower his energy level so that he will be less likely to do something naughty.
  • Adding mental stimulation. To reduce boredom while everyone is gone, make your leaving a good thing. Buy some new SAFE toys and give them just before you leave so that they associate your leaving with getting something good. A stuffable, chewable toy like the Kong is a great toy to keep him occupied.  Something that has a familiar scent like a kid-scented T-shirt or sock will often comfort the dog.  Leave the TV or radio on. Animal Planet on TV can entertain the dog reassure him that everything is normal.
  • It is important to stay low key when leaving in the mornings. No big goodbyes. Just leave quietly without causing any anxiety.  And make returning “no big deal” too. It is especially important for dogs that have anxiety that you act calm, quiet, casual, and don’t immediately enthusiastically greet your dog. If you act like leaving or returning is not a big deal, then it won’t be a big deal for the dogs. When you come home after a long day, you may be tired, but after calmly greeting your dog, remember that he needs to be played with. A long walk, or playtime will get out all that pent up energy from the day and lets your dog know that you love him. It is also a stress reliever for the humans involved!
  • If at all possible, someone should go home during lunch to help relieve the stress of no one being home for 8 hours. If that is not possible, consider having a friend walk her, or paying a dog walker. Taking your dog to a doggy day care a couple times a week is a great option too.

A dog is not an “until” dog…..”Until you get too busy” or “until you have no time.”

A dog is a forever dog! You made a commitment to your dog, and keeping that commitment is not always easy, but it might make the difference between a happy dog and a destroyed house!

Kids + Dogs + Warm Weather = A Recipe for Dog Bites

School is out and summertime is a great time for the kids and the dogs to interact.  It’s fun time for both the humans and the canines, but it is also a time to remind the kids that any dog, given the right—or wrong–circumstances, can bite. Even the easiest going dog may react when cornered by a child who screams, moves erratically, or suddenly grabs him.  Each year almost a million kids visit the emergency room for treatment of a dog bite, and oftentimes, the culprit is a dog that the child knows, and more often than not, it is the behavior of the child that triggers the bite. Toddlers grab, hold, tug, poke and yank; they squeal as they crawl around the floor, and dogs simply do not understand this behavior. Dogs are dogs; they do not bite out of the blue, or launch into an assault without provocation, but humans often do not recognize the dog’s anxiety. Children should ALWAYS be supervised when in the company of a dog. A dog has few ways of protesting unwanted attention. He can try to move away, and once he has done this, his only alternative is a bark, growl, or nip. If you see your dog retreating from a child, immediately stop the child from bothering the dog. Teach your children that animals are to be treated kindly and gently, show them how to properly handle a dog, and do not allow hitting, chasing, teasing or other harassment.

Guess where most bites occur?  Right in our homes or the homes of friends.  Dogs bite because they don’t want you near them, or an area they may be “protecting.” Be it fear or whatever reason, she wants to put distance between herself and you.  If you have small children it is important to create a “safe haven” for your dog, so that when he does not want to be bothered with the child, he can escape to his safe place where the child is not allowed.  If a dog is eating, playing with a toy, or has a litter of puppies, the children should leave her alone.  Dogs tend to be protective of their food and toys, and bothering an eating or playing dog is one of the major reasons kids get bitten by their family dog. When excitement levels are high, such as when they are playing with a toy, they are also more likely to accidentally bite.  A young child’s first reaction to being nipped or mouthed by a dog is to push the pup away, and this will be interpreted by the dog as play and will probably cause him to nip and mouth even more.

Sometimes people think it is cute to tease the dogs by pretending to beat up another human, or by playing rough, aggressive games, and these activities encourage out-of-control behavior, grabbing, lunging and competition with you, which are not behaviors you want your dog to learn.  Always encourage your kids (and adults) to treat the family pets with the respect they deserve, and do not allow “idiot games.”

If you routinely tie your dog outside, please reconsider. Tied dogs are frustrated dogs who tend to be hyper and testy, and a child entering the area where a dog is chained could be easily knocked down or bitten.  If a neighbor ties a dog out, be sure your children to not go near those dogs. It is an accident waiting to happen.  They should also be taught to never approach a strange dog, and even if they know a dog, they should always ask the caregiver for permission before they get near him.

Few things are worse than having your dog bite someone. It causes you, your dog and the victim extreme heartache, which reinforces the importance of providing necessary training to both the child and the dog to maintain positive interaction. Dogs are wonderful companions, and by acting responsibly, caregivers not only reduce dog bite injuries, but also enhance the relationship they have with their dog.

Paw Prints – Now Available!

The Paw Prints Booklet is finally here!

For fifteen years, we have been privileged to write a weekly newspaper column on responsible pet care. Our hope is, and always has been, to inspire, encourage, and entertain. We are excited that a booklet containing bits and pieces from those articles is now available. Paw Prints includes many seasonal articles, tips on responsible pet care, tail waggin’ true tales, reflections, stories, and quotes to lift your spirit, and energize you to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

If you would like a copy, we’d be delighted to mail one to you. You can either send us an email at or use our contact form.

We do ask that you include a check for $15.00 and your complete physical address. We look forward to hearing from YOU!