While I haven’t seen as much of it lately, I do still see dogs chained in yards. It is a worrisome sight. Even a dog that will wag its tail, approach people with loose body muscles, and lower itss head for head scratches in other situations can…and more than likely will become reactive to stimulus in its environment when constrained on a tether, alone outside. For a dog that already barks, growls, or lunges at stimulus in other circumstances, it is likely to exhibit those behavior at even heightened levels.
I really enjoy Halloween. I especially love seeing the little children dressed in costume. There is something so very special about that to me.
But, as much as I look forward to the holiday, there are many dogs who would be more than happy to forego the whole night. I’ve written about Halloween in the past. I thought I’d take a different spin on things this year and seek the perspective of a few four-legged companions.
Parents, please teach your children about the Do Not Disturb sign above dogs that are sleeping and/or contained. Dogs that are sleeping can startle if touched and should be allowed to sleep in peace. Contained dogs (like a dog in a crate, behind a gate, on a tether, or other enclosed space) have no means of escape from hands encroaching on their space and may feel a need to react with a growl or worse to get someone to back off. This is one important way you can help to prevent dog bites.
A woman was telling me the other day about how she couldn’t understand why her dog ‘out of the blue’ barked and lunged at someone he sees and solicits pets from all the time. Someone else was telling me about how his dog, that is very friendly, ‘out of the blue’ growled at a child who walked up to him as they were leaving the groomers.
You may have experienced or witnessed an ‘out of the blue’ fear reaction in your pet at some point too. It can happen to any animal – even people, but the thing is, although it may seem like it is some strange, rare phenomenon without explanation, there is always a reason for behavior to occur.
From time to time I get asked how families can keep their dog from jumping on their sofa or chair. I have also gotten asked whether or not they should even allow their dog on furniture.
Let’s talk about the second sentence first. Unless you have a situation of location guarding, meaning your dog stiffens or curls his mouth, growls or snaps at you when you approach him lying on your chair, that really is a personal choice. (If you do have a dog that location guards, please seek assistance from a trainer who uses positive strategies to help.) As you can see in my photo, if it is at night time and I get up from a spot I have warmed to get a snack, I have pretty much forfeited my spot to Sam. In our family, we don’t mind. He will come off his resting spot easily when we want him to. We even put a blanket on his favorite couch in the computer room, so he doesn’t dirty it when he lounges during the day.
This time of year, everyone enjoys being outdoors with their dogs including at dog parks. And, while it can be a lot of fun, it can also be very problematic. An aversive experience for your dog can occur very quickly, and can have long term impact on your dog’s emotional well being. Do you know how to recognize when your dog is in trouble, or when your dog is doing the harassing? Do you know when your dog is communicating that he is uncomfortable with whatever is happening in the moment or when he wants space?