Skip to comments.A Night Spent in Limbo for a Dog Returned to Sender
Posted on 10/21/2011 3:06:09 AM PDT by KantianBurke
On Oct. 4, Jason Dubin drove to La Guardia Airport to pick up the newest member of his household. Six days after that first happy meeting, Mr. Dubin returned to La Guardia with that same member, a German shepherd named Emmi, and sent her on a Continental Airlines flight to Seattle with a one-way ticket.
I just couldnt control her anymore; it was just time to part ways, said Mr. Dubin, who made the drive from his Port Jefferson home on Long Island as Emmi, who is 5, fidgeted and barked in the back seat.
Mr. Dubin had bought the 80-pound dog over the Internet for $7,500 from Kraftwerk K9, a company in Rochester, Wash., that breeds, trains and sells German shepherds.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
My wife has a harder time with the dogs than I do. She tries to be “nice” and that leads to problems. She’ll try to sweet talk them into something lowering her status.
Years and years ago with my first 2 Airedales it was funny to watch dog status at work. When I’d take Asta (alpha female) and Muttley (beta male) for a ride in the car without my wife. Asta would sit in the passenger seat in the front. Muttley would sit in the rear seat right behind me. If I got out of the car to fill up the tank or something. Asta would take the drivers seat and Muttley the front passenger seat. When I got back in Asta would take her position in the front passenger seat and Muttley would take the one behind me. Now if my wife were going too it became interesting. Asta would be in her seat and Muttley in his when my wife wanted to get in the car. Asta didn’t want to move. My wife would tell her sweetly to move and stand there to convince her to move. I’d finally tell the dog to get in the back. Asta would take the seat behind me and Muttley the seat in the rear on the passenger seat. My wife wouldn’t assert her right to the front seat and would sometimes think of sitting in the rear passenger seat. Instead of being nice to the dogs she was sending the wrong message to them. Once she finally understood the dynamics of what was happening and changed her behavior the problem stopped.
That’s why I recommend books like The Other End of the Leash. It does a great job of explaining dog pack behavior and dog thinking. If you respond like the Alpha dogs (no alpha rolls, hitting or yelling) and expect to be treated as the Alpha dog most dogs will get with the pack.
Oh, yeah, this lady is a tough customer. The fact that she’s almost 6 feet tall and solidly built doesn’t hurt either. I couldn’t do it myself, I’ll tell somebody something once and then lose interest.
Respectfully, no to the first question, and definitely yes to the second question. Keep in mind that I do animal rescue, so I see alllllll the bad stuff and not as much of the good stuff.
This post turned out to be way too long. No need to read it all. I was rambling.
Every family (puppy/dog buyer) varies, but what you did is the right thing to do. You recognized that you were inexperienced and you read up on things so you would be more prepared to handle all the things involved in raising (properly) a puppy. Many people do this. Many people don't. A good breeder will weed through all the people wanting to buy their puppies and they will not sell a puppy to someone who isn't willing or able to do the work necessary to properly raise and care for that puppy. Where I live, when you see a pickup truck on the side of the road with a plywood sign spray-painted "Dobermens $300" (mis-spelled and everything), and a box of puppies sitting on the tailgate, you know they are not asking the buyer any questions. You got $300? Pick a puppy. End of story. The buyer may have let the last three dogs they owned get hit by cars, but that doesn't matter to the seller as long as they have $300 cash. But I digress...
An inexperienced family should not get a puppy unless they are willing and able to do what you did: Learn about dogs, dog behavior, health issues, training, etc., and properly train the puppy. If they are not willing and able to do all that, then an adult dog is a MUCH better option for them.
I can't tell you how many times I read ads that are "getting rid" of a puppy or dog because it pees in the house. (Who's fault is that???) Or some other behavior that is CLEARLY the fault of the human for lack of properly training that animal. And then there are all the cases of "the dog got to big" (what part of German Shepherd did you think was going to be a small dog??), "we just had a baby" (you've had the dog for 5 months, yet you knew you were pregnant 9 months ago, so why did you get a dog in the first place???), "we're moving to an apartment that doesn't allow dogs" (so move to a dog-friendly apartment!!!), etc. If you want to ruin your day, read through the Craigslist ads in any major city some day and see all the stupid reasons people are "getting rid" of their pets.
With an adult dog -- either purchased from a breeder, or rescued from anywhere, you have a much better chance of knowing what you are getting. You will know the size of the dog, the dog's general temperament, his behavior, and you'll have a good guess about his breed. A good rescue dog will probably already have some training, house manners, etc. Every breed has breed rescues, so people looking for a specific breed can get one from a rescue if they want. We recently placed a couple of purebred (well-bred) adult dogs that were fabulous dogs, fully trained, etc., because their owner unexpectedly died.
I handle people on a case by case basis. If they can handle a puppy, then fine. But if this is their first dog ever, I usually recommend they start with a foster dog, just to be sure that after 3 weeks of having a dog in the house, they don't decide they aren't up for the commitment, or that one of the children is allergic, etc. If the foster situation works out, they may want to adopt that dog, or they may want to keep looking.
Your second question, about getting an easier breed, that's a resounding YES. If I could tell every family what kind of dog they should get, I swear we would have half as many unwanted dogs in this country. People choose their breeds poorly. Most people choose a dog breed based on looks. But looks is the last thing a breed should be chosen for. A breed should be chosen based on how well the temperament and breed characteristics will match with the personality/temperament and lifestyle and goals of the individual family.
For example, a family with three children under the age of 5 should NOT get an Australian Cattle Dog or Australian Shepherd or Border Collie, for example. That family has a HERD of children, and those dogs were bred to HERD. So are those parents going to be happy when the dog starts nipping at the heels of the children in an effort to keep them in a herd? What about a children's birthday party in the back yard when Johnny brings 15 kids over... and the dog tries to herd them by nipping their heels. Dog goes to pound the next day.
Another example: A family lives in a nice quiet neighborhood and has a lovely back yard with lots of flowerbeds and well-manicured lawn. They get a Beagle. Beagle constantly digs holes in the yard and barks half the time, ruining the yard and disturbing all the neighbors. Beagles dig. Beagles bark. These are givens with this breed.
Some breeds are very compliant and obedient, and some are not. So yes, an inexperienced family should get an "easier" breed. But if they let the kids pick out the dog based on how it looks, they are setting themselves up for failure.
Once a good BREED has been selected, then the individual dog needs to be selected. Some lines (from certain breeders) are bred to be performance dogs with high drive and energy. Some lines are bred to be good companion, pet dogs, with less drive and energy, but the same intelligence and temperament. There are high-drive Shepherds and "regular" Shepherds. There are field trial / competition German Shorthair Pointers, and there are "regular" Pointers.
And then, within each litter, there will be individual differences. My current dog was MY personal pick of the litter because the puppy was LESS energetic than the others. I wanted a dog that would be happy to lounge around the house all day, because of my work schedule. But another person wanted a dog to do Agility and Tracking and Obedience, so the right puppy for them, in that same litter, was a different puppy. Both dogs have the same breed characteristics and temperament and good health, but both dogs have different individual personalities and energy levels.
So dogs should be chosen first on breed, then on breeder (choosing a breeder who ethically breeds the kind of dog one is looking for), and then the right litter (based on the sire and dam matching what you are looking for), and then on the individual puppy. Only if there are two puppies with very similar temperament/personality/drive/conformation, would I bring "looks" (sometimes this means color) into the picture. And Gender of the dog is one step above looks. Males and females do have different characteristics, so that needs to be considered in the decision process.
If someone wants to rescue, rather than go to a breeder, then all the same steps apply: Choose the appropriate breed first, then the source of the dog (choose a reputable rescue group or person), then the individual dog.
In many cases in rescue, we don't know what the breed of a given dog is. In that case, we are placing the dogs based on their temperament and behavior. But this is exactly why you choose breed first -- because you need to know what temperament and behavior you are getting. With rescue puppies, it really is a crap shoot unless you at least know who one of the parents is. But more often than not, you don't even know that. One cute puppy looks like the next, so you are really guessing about everything with that puppy (size, temperament, health, etc.).
Mine seems to have the Scenthound temperament -- she's very calm and patient and doesn't bark in the house at all, and only rarely when outside, mostly "play with me!" barks and sometimes "Stop nipping at me".
i've been working from home these couple of months to ensure I spend enough quality time as I've read that the first 6 months are crucial and I want to ensure we have a very good adult dog.
My dog loves to dig, which is not a problem as we have a lot of open areas around my house and an 18th century fort complex where she loves to run up and down.
Though, if, in the middle of play she finds a stick, she will pretty often just sit down and gnaw and ignore all her friends. I figure out that's because she's teething, but I'm not too sure
She doesn't gnaw any furniture, though we've lost a carpet and two mats :) but hey, it's worth it -- and she gives back all of that and more in love
We didn't actually pick the dog out -- never even saw her but my wife's cousin's husband found an abandoned pregnant dog in the woods (what barbarians to do that to an animal) and he adores dogs.
He brought them back home (they have a house and lots of open space) and she gave birth to 9. Wifey's cousin calls us up one day and says "congratulations! we have a pup for you!" -- we were hesitant, but felt that they didn't have room for all the puppies so we said "ok, we're on holiday for 2 weeks. if no one takes her, we will" -- and I guess they stopped looking!
So we got this unknown puppy when we came back and she was perfect! My wife and I say we are very lucky and I intend ensuring that we never regret this by having a badly trained dog.
And it's really true -- when our puppy listens to a command she is happy!
A couple hints about dogs and puppies:
1. A good dog/puppy is a tired dog/puppy.
That's one of those simple sayings that is easy to gloss over. What it means is: When dogs have excess energy, they can get into mischief. Excess energy can be physical or mental. If you properly exercise and mentally stimulate a dog/puppy, they don't have the energy (mental or physical) to bother with getting into mischief.
2. In the winter, or if you simply haven't had the time to give them the physical exercise they need, you can give them mental stimulation instead. This is a short-term band-aid, not a permanent swap. Mental stimulation might work for 1-3 days, but after that, they will need physical exercise.
For example, if it's stormy for 3 days and your pup has pent-up physical energy, spend some time indoors doing mental exercises like Obedience training, or even Agility training. 10 minutes of Obedience exercises, three times a day, does a world of good to keep the puppy stimulated and keep him out of trouble. You can train some Agility commands indoors too.
Put a Laundry Basket in your hallway, and teach your dog to “Jump” over the basket on command. This will give the pup both mental and physical exercise. There is the high jump and the long jump. With pups, don't overdo certain exercises until their bones are finished developing. So the height or the length of the jump is not important, what is important is teaching them to perform the command on demand.
Lots of other training can be done indoors: Sit, Down, Long Down, Stay, Heel, Come, Retrieve, Retrieve Over a Jump, Hold, Drop-it, Front, Finish, Off, Wait, Stand, Back, toy differentiation, putting toys away, Hide & Seek, Find It, Scent Discrimination, etc.
3. If you haven't already, look into Clicker training. You and your dog will love it.
Obviously I could type about dogs all day.
Cute, wish the photo was bigger. :)
2. That's a good idea about the obedience exercises and the "jump over the basket command"
3. don't actually need to clicker to encourage her -- she's happy with a doggie treat and obeys just like that!
Look into getting something called a Buster Cube. Or something similar to it. You can put her normal dog kibble in it. It will keep her occupied and mentally stimulated for 5-20 minutes or so. I don't recommend it on hard floors if you're in the room though, because it makes a lot of noise.
Labs are inherently energizer bunnies. Born to fetch all day long. They may get tired, but they won't give up.
Be careful with the running until her bones are fully developed. I think that is about age 9 months. Ask your Vet. The long bones and growth plates need to be done, or you can do damage if you take her on runs. I mean human runs. It's one thing to let dogs play at their own pace — if you watch them, they play hard then rest, over and over again. A human “run” is a non-stop event, and the dog doesn't have a chance to rest, or drink water, or cool their body.
It's not hot now, but obviously when it gets hot again, be careful about running on asphalt. It can burn their feet. And as you know, dogs sweat by panting, and that isn't enough on hot days. A dog will never give up and quit on you — so if you ask a dog to run 8 miles, they will. But it may kill them. But a well-conditioned adult dog (of the right breed), with the right training, can run long distance like that.
On the teething thing, you can freeze a wet wash cloth, and let her chew on it (supervised!!) to sooth her teeth and gums. Freeze two, so you always have one to rotate out.
Labs are notorious for chewing and ingesting cloth items. Be very careful with that. Intestinal blockage = expensive and very risky surgery.
And as you've already found out, the best exercise for a puppy or a dog is another play buddy. If you have any friends who can bring their dog to your house during the day so the two dogs can play with each other to their hearts content, that would be ideal. :-)
Keep up the great work!!
Oh, my runs are just like the dogs :)
we are very lucky in Warsaw to have a lot of green areas all over the city and I've got a forest just 20 minutes walk away, so it's great!
for teething, she's not terribly interested in cloth, but she's got some rubber squeaky toys that she adores (and which drives my wife crazy!) and of course if she gets a stick it is gnaw-gnaw-gnaw!
Funny story about cloth items -- I didn't know labs did that -- we have a beautiful big lab that plays here and he loves to eat cloth items that he finds outside -- to the chagrin of his owner!
hmm... inviting a dog over to our house - that's a good idea!
Off topic.... I totally forgot about this:
The incident: dog excrement found on the roof and windows of the Romney station wagon. How it got there: Romney strapped a dog carrier with the family dog Seamus, an Irish Setter, in it to the roof of the family station wagon for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Ontario, which the family apparently completed, despite Seamus’s rather visceral protest.
Thank you for the kind remark.
Actually, I don’t post what I do to honk my horn. I do so to remind people that there are wonderful old dogs out there being cared for by rescue organizations (now, the people who run those qualify as saints, IMHO) who desperately need a permanent home, but people look past them, choosing puppies instead.
That’s what breaks my heart and motivates me.
1. she can sometimes bark at a larger, strange dog -- I guess this is fear
2. If there is a stranger dog to the pack then she plays well, but if that stranger, on the first day, tries to take the stick she is gnawing, she fights. She doesn't fight with her friends if they take her stick and she doesn't fight with stranger dogs if they don't
I'm guessing this is normal doggie activity -- is that correct?
Also, what should I do if my dog is fighting with a dog that is more or less the same size? If it is a larger dog, I try to get the owner to do something before mine is hurt and if it is a smaller dog (which hasn't happened, but she can sometimes play too rough with say a yorkie) then I put her on the leash and sometimes put her on her back for the littler dog to smell her and she's ok with that.
But if they're the same size, one "group of thought" says "let them fight until one gives up, then if the other doesn't back off, then intervene" -- and I'm inclined to agree with that -- is that correct?
Do you watch Cesar Milan? You'll notice that Cesar is always the pack leader. He doesn't let the dogs decide these things. Without seeing how you react, I'm not encouraging or discouraging what you currently do. But I'll tell you what I do and what I recommend to people.
Our dogs take their cues from us. So if you allow your dog to fight, they understand that means fighting is ok, or even encouraged. If you are ok with your dog fighting, knowing that (a) your dog might get mortally wounded in the process, or (b) your dog might mortally wound another dog... But the person who owns the other dog might not appreciate it.
I don't let dogs fight. Ever. I stop it before it starts if possible. If a fight has started, I break it up immediately, and both dogs get very sternly scolded (unless one obviously was trying NOT to fight).
In the example you gave, where you say you let the other dog's owner do something to stop the fight: I never do that. I don't care who's dog it is, if either dog starts posturing to dominate, or growling, or eyeing the other dog, or curling a lip, etc., I tell them in a very stern and DEEP voice, “No! Knock it off!” I make it very clear that that kind of behavior will NOT be tolerated.
Dogs who growl and posture and fight (at dog parks, for example), are dogs who's owners have allowed them to do that behavior, and it will escalate. Watch some afternoon Judge shows on TV, and every other story is about dogs, and the root of every problem is an owner who allowed their dog to do these bad behaviors until it finally resulted in a tragedy ($5000 vet bills for the neighbor's dog, or the death of the Yorkie, etc.). Those dogs will always be bullies. That behavior is no more appropriate in our dogs than it is in us. And of course, there is often a correlation between the owner's tendency to be a bully and the dog behaving like that. The dog has been rewarded for that behavior.
It's one thing if two dogs are friends, like you said, and they are PLAYING, and in the course of playing, they are FRIENDLY growling and PLAY fighting — i.e., rough-housing and wrestling. It's another thing entirely if one dog is truly trying to fight with another dog. You have to be able to distinguish between the two. You have to learn dog body language, dog vocalizations, etc.
My two dogs wrestle with each other, they stand on hind legs, with front legs wrapped around each other’s shoulders, and get mouthy with each other, being very vocal the whole time. But they are playing, and I know they are playing, and neither one ever gets hurt. One of my neighbor's who isn't familiar with the different vocalizations of dogs thought they were fighting, and wondered why I wasn't breaking up the fight. She had no understanding that not every growl or vocalization means aggression.
Your puppy's behavior sounds perfectly normal in a dog pack. But she is still LEARNING what is acceptable behavior and what is unacceptable behavior. She is learning this from you. You are her pack leader. If you allow her to fight and “guard resources” (her stick) as a puppy, that behavior will only get worse as she gets older. You are reinforcing that behavior by allowing it. Puppies are like children (do you have kids?). They will always test the boundaries and see what they can get away with. If they are not corrected (firmly but fairly), they will push that boundary again and again. If I were you, I would nip that behavior in the bud immediately.
Resource guarding is guarding anything that the dog decides he/she “owns”. This can be a stick, toy, food, bone, bed, house, or person. If she is “resource guarding” with a stick, she may begin to resource guard with you — preventing anyone from coming near you, even trying to bite if someone comes near you. Incidentally, dogs who “resource guard” do not pass temperament tests when they are dumped at a shelter, and they can be euthanized because of it - they are deemed to be unadoptable because they may bite someone in the process of guarding their resource (food, toy, etc.).
You can also set your dog up for success, by never allowing her to have a stick when a stranger dog approaches. If she is happily playing with a stick among her friends, and you see a new dog approaching, go to your puppy and take the stick from her. She can't guard it if she doesn't have it. Tell her “give” or “mine” and then take the stick from her, and say in a very happy voice, “Good girl!!” and pet her. Put the stick away (inside your jacket) and begin doing obedience exercises with her to keep her mind on something else. Practice sit, down, come, etc., and reward her for focusing on you (by petting her and telling her good girl).
If I know my dog has an issue with something, then I intervene before the problem arises. For example, my dog also doesn't like new strange dogs. So if we are on a walk in a park and my dog is off leash, I am always looking around to see if any other dogs are approaching. If I see another dog, I call my dog and put her on leash until the other dog has passed, so that there can be no confrontation, no trouble. My dog is large, and some people are afraid of her simply because of her look (she is harmless).
So in your case, one thing you can do it anticipate these behaviors, and direct your dog to something else so she doesn't need to guard her stick when the new dog shows up. As you said, after a couple days of getting to know that new dog, it's no longer a problem, so she can have her stick back.
The best way to introduce dogs to each other is by both owners walking with the dogs on leash, not standing still. Standing in one place allows the dogs to focus on each other, and if either one is jealous or wanting to guard their owner, you have potential for problems. But if both owners walk, with dogs on leash, the dogs are busy sniffing new territory and doing dog-things, rather than standing around trying to guard their owners.
In dog body language, it is an attempt to dominate when one dog puts their head over the neck of the other dog, or when they raise their head up high and stiffen their whole body to look bigger. So when you have your dog on leash and it is meeting/greeting a new dog, if you see this body language in either dog, both dogs should be backed away from each other and the dominating dog should be told “Knock it off.” Be careful not to pull UP on the leash when you do this, or that will raise the head of your dog, and the other dog will take this as a sign of dominance (which your dog may not have meant), and the other dog may decide to take that challenge. So when you pull a dog away, pull it straight back, not up. Again, this is another reason it's best to be walking when two dogs are introduced. The owners can keep them at a safe distance until they have walked long enough to be comfortable with each other.
I'm not a big fan of putting a dog on its back for another dog (I may rarely use this between me and another dog, but only in certain cases). It's not your dog's fault the little dog is little. You can put your dog in a “down” (i.e., laying down) so that she isn't so big, but rolling a dog onto their back is putting them in an extremely submissive position. She doesn't need to be submissive to a little dog, she only needs to be neutral. And keep in mind that many owners of little dogs have allowed their little dogs to become bullies because they think it's “cute” when their little dog growls and bares its teeth and tries to be tough. It is NOT cute, it is just as inappropriate as when a big dog does it, and little dogs who do that are brats. So if you roll your dog onto her back, and a little dog who is a bully comes up, that little dog may see your dog as weak and always try to bite/fight with your dog. And it's very hard to stand up in court and say “the little dog started it” when your dog kills the little dog.
So I would simply let your dog be herself, without forcing her to roll on her back. Just be sure she is neutral and accepting of other dogs, not aggressive.
Lastly, to your first point, about her barking at larger, strange dogs. Yes, that is normal, and probably fear-based. You don't want to reinforce that fear. You also don't want to scold her, because she is in the process of developing her instincts for what needs to be barked at, and what doesn't. She is learning her role as part of the pack, and when she should guard/alert, and when she doesn't need to. So when she barks at a strange dog, in a calm voice, say “I got it, thank you.” Don't pet her, don't coddle her, don't say (in a happy/high-pitched tone) “it's ok baby”, etc. All of those things say GOOD GIRL and she takes it to be reinforcing that behavior. You only want to reinforce that behavior if she is RIGHT in her judgment about the thing she is barking at. Every unfamiliar dog doesn't need to be barked at. A creepy guy lurking around your house does need to be barked at.
This may qualify as the world's longest post. ;-) I hope it wasn't too confusing - I didn't have time to re-read it to make sure it all made sense.