Dog Park Safety (part 1) – Tips for staying safe

February 4, 2009

This past weekend, a woman was stabbed while her dog on-leash dog attacked another dog inside the dog park at Mockingbird Point. Our friend Courtney Keyes (owned by three dachshunds, including the amazingly adorable Thor) wrote an article about dog park safety for the Dallas Morning news that I think everyone should read – it’s located here. (Clicking on that link will open a new window, so read it and come back, because I’ve got more to add to what she’s already said so well.)

Dog parks can be the most wonderful thing in the world, or a real disaster waiting to happen. We’ve enjoyed the Dallas dog park since it opened in 2001 (My first Cardi, Bou, was featured in a Dallas Morning News article about it, even!), and I maintain the (not very busy) Dallas Dog Parks Flickr pool.  Mal got most of his running exercise there as a puppy, and I can count on one hand the number of scary experiences any of my dogs have had.

All that said, I no longer take my dogs- any of them- to the dog park. Part of this can be attributed to my move and the new Dallas animal ordinances that make Mal a contraband doggy (packing unlicensed balls- Rittie and Lizzie are not spayed, but they’re not so obvoius as Mr. Hairless!), but that’s not entirely it. Right now, the risks just aren’t worth it (I’ll talk about those and how we can fix them in a future post.)

For now though? My top tips for dog park safety. Read the rest of this entry »



November 9, 2008

On Friday, Malcolm, Kaylee and I loaded up and headed out to Weatherford, Texas, to visit my friend Bethany (of TexSun collies) and her collies. Bethany raised Kaylee for the first 15 months of her life and did all of her basic socialization and house manners-type work. Kaylee is always very glad to see her again. We played around with some focus work with her youngest dog, Tess, and taught Tess to run through a ground-mounted hoop (she’s not old enough to do much jumping with, but hoops can work on distance control and going THROUGH the jump standards instead of around them. Bethany and I had lunch at Cracker Barrel, so she got a chance to see Kaylee working in public, and ran some errands for her mom. Mal had a great time playing with Peek, one of her dogs, and overall, we had a great time. More news from that later. 😛

Why do dogs chew?

August 17, 2008

Nikki, of Dallas, TX asks:

My dog is a female springer spaniel/pit bull mix. She is 2.5 years old, spayed, and is generally very well-behaved. Occasionally – perhaps once every 3-4 months- she will chew up one of my shoes. Why does she do this, and how can I stop it?

Unfortunately, with any issue that is this intermittant, it can be REALLY hard to figure out why something happens. Keeping a record  of the time that it happens and as many things surrounding the issue as possible may help you isolate a factor or group of factors that is leading up to the behavior- but it may not! (this is true for ANY behavior problem).  So figuring out what triggers the behavior may or may not be possible. With a log, you may discover that it happens only on days when there is thunder, or men mowing the grass, or some other external circumstance. If that’s the case, just make sure the shoe are picked up on that day (or your dog is not left home alone!), and the problem should resolve itself.

Dogs chew for a number of reasons. It’s fun, it’s comforting, and it just feels good. Shoes are a favorite snack of lots of dogs. They smell like mom or dad (mom or dad’s stinky foot-smell is probably a bonus, given dogs’ general standards for ‘good’ smells- most dogs like nothing better than to roll in something dead and rotting. Ugh.) and leather is a nice chewy material- it’s even sort of like rawhide bones! So while we can’t say for sure why she’s chewing, I suspect it’s more a matter of “Why not?” when she’s stressed or upset- or just bored.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bath Day!

June 8, 2008

Soaking wet tricolor dog in the bath tub, looking goofyFridays are now officially bath day at my house. I used to go along and just bathe individual dogs as they got dirty, which meant about anywhere from once a week to once every two or three months, depending on the dog. However, with the growing amount of dog hair that is floating in the air at any given time, I’ve decide this needs to stop, and from now on, everyone is going on a schedule. I am prepared. I have a makeshift grooming table with matted surface in front of a mirror (with a suction-cup grooming noose, even), a Metro Air Force dryer, a ridiculous number of brushes, and more hair products for dogs than I have EVER owned for humans.

It’s not that they get stinky, but the dust and mud that’s actually the biggest deal. A lot of websites say you shouldn’t bathe your dog more than once a month or you will dry out their coat. To this I say “HAH.” Most show dogs in the coated breeds- Shih Tzu, maltese, afghans, poodles- get bathed FAR more frequently than this, and if it damaged their coats? The owners and handlers wouldn’t do it.

The trick is, of course, to use an appropriate shampoo- that is, one with a neutral pH or one MADE for dogs- and rinse throughly. Most pet owners I know use FAR too much shampoo. With a few exceptions, pet shampoo is not meant to foam- and if you want to get foamy, sudsy lather, you need to use a ton. Foaming is , with most water conditions, purely cosmetic (it’s caused by adding foaming agents to the ingredients- look for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate on the label). Too much shampoo is harder to rinse off the dog, and yes, it WILL dry out the coat.

Read the rest of this entry »