Friday, 11 July 2014

Big Dog/Small Dog

We haven't done a "Fur Friends Friday" post in a long long while but this one was just too adorable to pass up.

Bear the Big met Bear the Small at our local dog park and it was love at first sight.  The remaining pictures where (sadly) too blurry to save, but there was a great deal of tail chasing, romping and fun.

Oh, the wonder of dog park romance

Keep your tails wagging,
Bear's P4ws

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Dogs on the Bed....The Great Debate

Contrary to the strongly held opinion of some training and behavior professionals, I’m generally pretty comfortable with allowing my canine family member on my bed. In our family, Bear is permitted on the bed when I’m not home, and – truth be told – on the nights that I’ve got the whole bed to myself, his uber-snuggly presence is a welcome source of warmth and cuddles.

Trainers who adamantly oppose dogs on the bed mostly fall into the old-fashioned training camp, and often, they also buy into all the dominance stuff that’s been pretty much discredited by behavioral scientists. Chances are good that I would differ with them on many dog training and philosophical issues, not just this one. The dog who wants to sleep on your bed isn’t trying to take over the world. He just wants to be close to his humans -and comfortable!

That said, there are times when I agree that allowing your dog on your bed may be inappropriate. So how do you decide if bed privileges are the right choice for your canine pal? There are a number of things to take into consideration.

Dogs in the room
Some humans restrict their dogs’ presence from the bedroom altogether, citing reasons such as allergies, and being disturbed by nighttime scratching, licking, and other typical canine behavior. Some dogs are perfectly comfortable and confident when sleeping in other parts of the house; others benefit greatly from the six to eight hours of social proximity to their humans, even though there’s not much actual interaction going on. Sleeping in the same room is a nice, usually easy way for your dog to be with you, especially if you are gone at work eight or more hours a day. A white noise machine can cover up a lot of minor nighttime dog noises.

Aggressive bed behaviors
This is the big one. What do you do when your dog offers aggressive behaviors on the bed? Does it mean instant eviction? Not necessarily.

This is where trainers who strongly believe that most unwanted dog behaviors are related to dominance (I’ve heard them dubbed “alpha-holics”) are likely to tell you that your dog is trying to take over the world. They will say that allowing the dog on the bed gives him status and a physical height advantage, reinforcing his sense of being in control. This may contain some grains of truth, but by no means can it explain what is always going on.

There is a legitimate classification of aggression now often referred to as “status-related aggression,” in which a dog behaves in an aggressive manner rather than deferring appropriately to his human. Bed-related aggression is sometimes one manifestation of this.

Keep in mind that removing the dog from the bed doesn’t modify the bed-guarding behavior; it only prevents the dog from having an opportunity to practice the behavior. Some owners are fine with management alone, while others are committed to modifying the behavior in the hopes of reinstating the dog’s bed privileges.

Modifying your dog’s aggressive behavior is not a bad idea; there’s a good chance that the dog who guards the bed may also guard the sofa and other prime pieces of household real estate. Help him become more comfortable with humans, and work to reduce or eliminate his perceived need to behave in an aggressive manner. 

If you are experiencing bed-related aggression, take the time to analyze what’s going on. If it’s a non-guarding behavior that can be managed, you can manage and live with it, or manage and modify. If it’s guarding, or some other aggression trigger that’s not easily managed, then “off the bed” is a wise step, at least until the behavior can be modified.

Personal Choice
All other issues notwithstanding, if you prefer that your dog not sleep on the bed with you, the case is closed. It’s your choice, pure and simple, and not one you should have to defend to anyone. There may be a rare exception, but I can’t think of any reason why a dog should have to sleep on your bed.
Of course, if he’s accustomed to sleeping on his human’s bed and you abruptly evict him, he’s likely to tell you how he feels about it in no uncertain terms. You may have to do some behavior modification to convince him that other bedtime arrangements are acceptable alternatives, but that’s doable.
*post written with information taken from The Whole Dog Journal 

Bark back at us!  
What are your opinions on letting your pooch sleep up on the bed with you?

Keep your tails wagging
Bear's P4ws 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

"Dogs Like that Should be Shot"......(an open letter)

To the two old ladies who decided to harass Bear and I today, 

You are despicable.  

As dog owners yourselves you should know that we are a tight-knit community who do our very best to advocate for the rights of our dogs.  Our dogs are our families – our little fur children….

Imagine walking down the street with your dog – your well-behaved, leashed dog – who, as he passes two women walking with their own small dog stops for a cursory sniff.  The interaction should have been a calm one.  Maybe some mutual sniffing, a little dance around the owner’s legs and then that’s it.  Goodbye.  Thanks for coming out. 

What happened instead was something that I would rather soon forget, but can’t.  The malice and hatred that those women demonstrated towards Bear literally had me seeing red.  They called him a monster (among other horrible names) and when we attempted to turn the other cheek and walk away, they followed.  Continuing to mutter under their breaths about how dogs like Bear should not be allowed out on streets, or in public.  And how owners like me who allow their dogs to roam on a longer-than-standard leash should be fined.  

It was hard to take silently.  It was a despicable display of insensitivity culminated by a final remark that monsters like my Bear ought to be put down.  And that could not go ignored.  I attempted to reason with them – to explain that Bear was a dog who frequently worked with children; a calm and gentle soul that went through hell to get to where he is today. I tried to explain that reasoning such as theirs was the reason that our shelters are full of unwanted dogs.  Dogs who are abused, dogs who are sometimes shot…dogs who deserve nothing but our love.

The response.  “Dogs like that should be shot”

I saw red.  Fortunately for me (or maybe fortunately for them, because really, I don’t know what I would have done) a police officer drove by and I had the sense of mind to flag him down.  They hightailed it out of there as fast as their creaky old bones could carry them.

This is not the first time Bear and I have been accosted by people who are, for one reason or another, afraid of large dogs.  We have been harassed, screamed at, denied entrance to elevators in our place of residence and in one particularly vicious interaction I’ve had a man try to kick Bear in the ribs….for doing nothing more than standing calmly.   

Maybe I’m blinded by my love for my dog (for all dogs really) but I don’t understand.  I don’t understand the illogical hatred.  The harassment, the filth being spewed at us as we do nothing more than try to go about our daily business.  

Bear has never in his life hurt another living creature.   When he discovered field mice abandoned by their mother, he brought them to me in distress.  When he found and injured bird in our yard, he brought it to me and then stood vigil beside it’s box until animal services arrived.  I just…. I don’t understand….

I mean, look at him.  Does this:

look like the face of a monster?

Bear's P4ws