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Dachshund Adopts Paralyzed Cat

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog News,Dog Rescue — Tags: , , , mtest on January 8th, 2014

by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

You know a friendship is close between two animals when their rescuers name them Idgie and Ruth, after the two main characters in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.

What makes this animal friendship really special is that Idgie is a dachshund and Ruth is a paraplegic cat.

The pair were found outside a gated home in Geneva, Fla. in October. Idgie is thought to be around 2 years old and Ruth is about 7 months old.

However, when animal control arrived at the scene, picking them up wasn’t an easy task. Idgie was fiercely protective of her feline pal and barked anytime someone came near.

Seminole County Animal Services finally did remove the pair from the streets, and they soon learned that when they separated them at the shelter, the protective dachshund was constantly looking for her feline friend. As a result, they put the pair together in a special pen.

It’s unknown what caused Ruth’s condition, but it doesn’t appear to be an injury. The cat can get around only by dragging herself around with her two front legs.

The non-profit TEARS, Every Animal Receives Support paid for experimental therapy and acupuncture. Unfortunately, the procedures proved ineffective.

Setting Up Shop

Although the pair appeared to be well cared for when they were found, no one ever came to claim the duo.

Jacqueline Borum, who owns Hollywood Houndz Boutique & Spa and runs a non-profit called Project Paws, which raises money for animal rescues in emergencies, gave the pair a home in her shop.

Staff members move, feed and bathe Ruth daily, and Idgie gets plenty of walks and treats. When they aren’t getting attention from staff and customers alike, you can find Idgie curled up around Ruth, keeping her safe and warm.

Can’t Keep Them Apart

Borum told the Orlando Sentinel that Idgie is sweet as can be, except when another dog comes anywhere near Ruth.

Since veterinarians do not know what’s causing Ruth’s paralysis, it is unknown if her condition will worsen, or how long she has, but Borum says she will make sure the pair isn’t separated, for no matter how long that may be.

Editor’s Note: Photo from the Orlando Sentinel Facebook page. 

Dachshund Adopts Paralyzed Cat was originally published on partner site Pet360.com.

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What to Do When You Find a Lost Pet

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Health,Dog Life,Dog Rescue,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , mtest on November 15th, 2013

by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

 

For the past several weeks, it seems like a lot of people in my social media circles have been finding dogs.

Of course, they want to help reunite them with their families, but I find a lot of them aren’t aware that free listing sites pose dangers to not only people seeking to rehome pets, but also to pets found by well-intentioned people who are trying to get them safely home.

We’ve seen the extreme dangers of listing pets on free sites such as Craigslist with cases such as Puppy Doe, who was rehomed twice on Craigslist earlier this year and ended up in the wrong hands.

Recently, one friend posted two apparently well-cared for dogs on Facebook who she found running the streets of Kansas City, another friend advised her to post their pictures in the “found pets” section of Craigslist.

I advised her that people such as bunchers (who sell animals they’ve gotten for free to research labs) and dog fighters (who look for free bait dogs) troll sites such as this and sometimes claim animals are theirs when they’re not, she responded, “I had no idea!”

Even a friend who rescues animals posted way too much information that could allow someone with evil intent to claim a dog she had found.

The trick is posting enough information that the pet parent might recognize that you may have their beloved lost pet without posting too much information.

Based on my years of rescue and with help from the Humane Society of the United States’ tips, the following is what you should do if you find a pet and want to help get him back home, rather than take it to a shelter:

-After segregating the dog or cat from your pets, check the collar (if there is one) to make sure a name/phone number is not stamped on the inside of the collar). If there is a rabies tag, but no other information, call the vet listed. They keep records and will have the owner’s information under the rabies id. If there is no collar or tags, take the animal to a vet to see if there is a microchip.

-Knock on doors in the area where the pet was found and ask neighbors if they know where he may belong.

-Check “lost” ads in the local newspapers and Craigslist. If you find an ad that you think matches the animal you found, get in contact with them and ask them to describe their pet to you, including any unusual markings, collar color/design or quirky traits.

-Make flyers– you can include a photo of the pet, but do a “head shot” that doesn’t show other identifiable markings. If the pet had a collar, you can include that information in the ad, but do not include the collar description or color as this is something the owner should be able to identify when they get in touch with you. Also, if the pet has two different colored eyes or any other unusual markings, do not include this in the information. You can include the breed and sex of the pet, but don’t include specifics such as “male that is neutered.” Again, this is something the owner should be able to tell you to identify their pet. Post the flyers in the neighborhood and leave them with veterinarian offices and shelters in your town or city.

-If someone contacts you about the pet, ask them to describe it and listen for them to include the specific things you left out of the ad. Ask them to email or text you a photo of their pet.

Of course, there is always a chance that the poor animal was left on the side of the road and no one claims them. Several of our rescues that were dumped ended up as part of our family and we have also rehomed those we could not keep.

If you cannot keep the pet and cannot find a no-kill shelter that will take the pet, many rescues are willing to give you tips on how to find the pet a good, loving home, or go to the HSUS website, which gives tips on rehoming.

Have you ever thought about the possibility of people with bad intentions trolling the “found pet” ads?

 

This article originally appeared on Pet360.com

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Tips for Handling a Lost Dog

Happy or Sad? Direction of Tail Wag Shows Mood

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Life,Dog News,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , mtest on November 15th, 2013

by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

When a pet parent sees a dog wag his tail, it typically just tells us that the dog is happy. When a dog sees another dog wag his tail, it might mean something entirely different, depending on which way the tail wags.

A new study, conducted by various researchers at universities in Italy, and published in the Current Biology, suggests that dogs react differently to a tail wagging to the left vs. a tail wagging to the right. The research included 43 dogs, which all wore vests to monitor their heart rate. The dogs then watched special images of other dogs, which intended to remove stimuli from their brains, except for the tail wagging. The canines were then shown a silhouette of a dog wagging its tail to the right. The dogs stayed calm. However, when the dogs were shown the dog wagging his tail to the left, the dogs heart rate increased and they became more anxious.

Canine behavior researchers believe this new study to be an important step in helping us understand canine behavior. “The finding that dogs are sensitive to the asymmetric tail expressions of other dogs supports the hypothesis of a link between brain asymmetry and social behavior and may prove useful to canine animal welfare theory and practice,” reports Current Biology. Giorgio Vallortigara of the University of Trento in Italy, who has done previous studies on tail wagging, including a 2007 study which first proved dogs wag their tails in different directions to convey different emotions summed it up, “If you are going to visit a dog, if you are vet, there will be probably a side which is better with respect to the probability to evoke a more friendship response or to evoke a more aggressive response,” he told NPR.

Have you ever paid attention to which side your dog is wagging its tail?

This article originally appeared on partner site Pet360.com.

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Surf’s Up: Dogs Compete

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Lifemtest on October 2nd, 2013

by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

Huntington Beach, Calif. is reportedly the city that the Beach Boys were singing about in their famed hit, “Surf City U.S.A.,” so some people felt it was only fitting that our 4-legged family members get in on the action.

The 5th annual Surf City Surf Dog competition was held this past weekend, which featured 54 canine contestants who caught 4-to-5 foot waves in front of hundreds of spectators.

“It’s been an uphill battle,” Lisa Scolman, co-founder of the event told the Huntington Beach Independent. “People didn’t believe and it took a while to get it off the ground. But now this year, we have surf legends judging, great new sponsors. So from our first to fifth year, I think we’ve finally made it. We’re on the map.”

The competition also scored some high profile judges this year in the surfing world, including Pete Townend (no, not Pete Townshend of The Who), but the real score was for the rescue organizations the event helped, including Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue, Barks of Love and the Orange County Humane Society.

As with people, surfing dog lovers believe the dogs must have a passion for the sport, or sometimes even a natural ability.

Such is the case with Banana, a 14-year-old Corgi/Jack Russell Terrier mix that naturally took to the board while watching his dad, Brian Koerner, surfing. The two competed in the tandem surf this past weekend.

No word on how the pair scored on their technique or duration of the ride, but Koerner says it’s all in a day of fun anyway and we bet that Banana didn’t care if he won a medal.

Discovery News answers the question of whether dogs really like to surf, “You only attempt surfing with dogs that really love the beach and water,” says Rob Kuty, the official animal trainer at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego.

We imagine dogs that like the beach and water think it’s pretty rad.

This article was originally published on partner site Pet360.com.

Dog Anxiety Causes and Treatment

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Healthmtest on September 18th, 2013

By: Marisa Dalessandro

BOOM! The thunder crashes and there goes Carlos, running as fast as he can to my side and digging under the blanket. This is typical behavior for Carlos when he hears a loud noise. The same thing happens when we’re in the car and a semi-truck pulls up besides us. Does this situation sound familiar to you? Where does this anxiety come from and what do we as concerned pet parents do about it?

Lacking Social Skills

Anxiety in dogs can be brought on by several different causes such as a lack of self-esteem. Dogs who lack proper socialization as puppies can grow up with little or no self-esteem; unsure how to act in various situations, their anxiety is almost constant as if they’re always on alert and ready to flee.

A dog suffering from anxiety because of lack of self-esteem needs you to challenge them both physically and mentally with different situations where the dog can receive positive feedback from other more confident dogs. This is a delicate process and confidence must be built slowly with small goals repeatedly accomplished. Every small success brings a little more confidence.

Anxiety Due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Traumatic events can also cause anxiety in dogs. Similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in humans, dogs have been shown to experience signs of PTSD following a traumatic situation. Cases of extreme stress can occur over a variety of different experiences such asnatural disasters, car accidents, physical or emotional trauma during an interaction, history of abandonment or significant change in home environment (like a death of a family member).  If your dog has been through an extremely stressful situation, he or she may require treatment if the severity and duration of the reaction seems persistent and excessive with no signs of improvement.

Exercise Does the Mind Good

Dogs with mild anxiety can benefit from exercise and counter-conditioning.  Prior to the onset of anxiety, take your dog for a rigorous walk or game of fetch. A tired, worn out pooch is less likely to panic and just like humans, your dog’s brain chemistry is positively affected by a good workout. Counter-conditioning works by changing your dog’s anxious state into a pleasant one. It works by associating the cause of the anxiety with something positive. Over time, the dog learns that whatever he or she is scared of predicts something good.

More Complex Treatment Options

More severe cases of anxiety require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. Consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist to help you design and carry out the treatment plan. This plan starts with changing your routine. If your dog is anxious when you’re gone, you might start to see the onset of anxiety when you start your routine, like putting your coat and boots on and grabbing your keys. Teach your dog that those pre-departure cues don’t always mean you’re leaving. Put on your coat and sit down to watch TV for a bit. This will reduce your dog’s anxiety because those cues won’t always lead to your departure. Once you’ve mastered that, move on to leaving for short bursts of time, starting at 1 second, while building in counter-conditioning.  Based on your dog’s response, you may start to increase your time away leading all the way up to a full-work day. This process may take several weeks and it is vital to this treatment that once started, your dog cannot experience full-blown anxiety (in this case, cannot be left alone) until completed. If possible, take your dog to work during this time. In addition to this desensitization process, all hellos and goodbyes should be calm and low-key. Some severe cases of anxiety require the use of medication in combination with behavior modification treatment.

My Experience with Carlos

Carlos’ anxiety comes from his past experiences. When my fiancé, Louie, and I adopted him 3 years ago, the rescue organization said they found him wandering alone on the streets of Texas. The sounds of thunder or semi-truck take him back to a place where he was forced to brave the elements and survive alone.  It takes every ounce of will power that I have to ignore Carlos when he is anxious and not reward him with the attention he craves. My instinct is to coddle him, scoop him up in my arms and pet him. Unfortunately, that’s the exact opposite of what should be done. By ignoring him, I’m signifying that there is nothing to worry about because I’m not worried. Once he is calm, I give him attention. After I started this routine, his recovery time is a lot faster and I see so much progress to where I feel confident the anxiety will be eliminated all together very soon.

Do you have a dog that suffers from anxiety? I’d love to hear what treatment methods are working or not working for you.

This article was originally published on partner site Pet360.com

Study Shows Dogs Yawn After Owners

Filed under: Ages & Stages,Dog Behavior,Dog Healthmtest on August 13th, 2013

by Courtney Temple

Have you ever noticed once someone yawns, you suddenly feel the urge to yawn, too? Better yet, have you ever noticed your dog yawning immediately after you do? If so, you’re not alone.

According to NBC News, a new study conducted by a research team at the University of Tokyo revealed that dogs tend to yawn after their owners. The study concluded that the dogs were more sensitive to yawns from their owners rather than from strangers.

The researchers tested a total of 25 dogs, including Pit Bulls, Papillons, and Poodles. Two cameras were used to record the responses of the dogs while their owners called the dog’s name followed by a yawn, or the owner yawned after making direct eye contact with their canine.

Read More: All About American Pit Bull Terriers

The research team measured the heart rates of the yawning puppies and adults, and concluded that the heart rates were stable. The results showed that the yawning response from the dogs was a sign of empathy and not related to anxiety or distress.

“Our results show that the emotional bond between people and their dogs is reciprocal,” says Teresa Romero, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Tokyo who conducted the analysis.

This isn’t the first study that tested the yawning patterns in dogs. Back in 2008, biologists in Britain showed that yawns were contagious between humans and their canines.

This behavior trend has been observed in other animals, including chimpanzees, bonobo monkeys, and gelada baboons.

All we know for sure is that we can now say that our furry friends know exactly how we feel.

What do you think of this new study? Did you ever notice your dog yawning right after you? Please leave your comment in the section below.

This article was originally published on partner site Pet360.com.

Dog Named Psycho Saves 2 Girls

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Newsmtest on August 13th, 2013

A dog named Psycho might have earned the name he was given this past week when he saved a little girl in his family from a striking rattlesnake.

The incident happened in the border town of Hueco Tanks, Texas when Maya Delarosa was making mud pies with her sister. “I hear a hiss and a rattle and I look down and there’s a snake,” Maya told KTSM 9 News.

Luckily for the sisters, Maya’s grandmother’s ten pound Chihuahua-poodle mix, Psycho, came to their rescue, getting between the girls and the snake just before it struck.

The bite landed on Psycho’s eyelid instead of on the girls. “I love my little dog… I mean he saved her life,” Martha Rodriguez, Psycho’s mom, told KTSM reporters.

Venomous snake bites in small dogs can be very dangerous. However, Dr. Vickie Dashley treated Psycho with an anti-venom vaccine and it appears that Psycho, who is being a hailed a hero, is going to be ok.

“He’s just got a lot of swelling around that eye. We won’t know for sure until the swelling has gone down but we think the eye is going to be saveable (sic),” Dr. Dashley says.

Dogs in rattlesnake country can get a vaccine in advance of a bite. Dog parents should discuss the vaccine with their veterinarian if they feel their dogs might be suspect able to rattlesnake bites.

Editor’s Note: Photo of Psycho from the KTSM Facebook page.

Do you live in rattlesnake country and does your dog receive the vaccine?

This article was originally published on partner site Pet360.com.

Expert Wisdom for New Dog Owners

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Lifemtest on August 5th, 2013

As you prepare to bring a dog into your home — be it a squirmy, eight-week-old pup or a wiser, eight-year-old rescue — there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind from the moment you decide to adopt. We’ve asked an expert share some tips and wisdom for new dog owners that’ll have you ready for your new addition in no time.

Do Your Prep

Becoming a first class dog owner begins before you even set foot in a shelter. Most people don’t consider the prep work they’ll need to do before picking out an animal, said Kristen Collins, a behaviorist with the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team. Pick up supplies you’ll need in advance and be sure to set up a cozy area for your dog before they come home. This place will be where they’ll go to relax when you’re not at home and should include some durable toys, edible chews and items that’ll be safe for your dog to play with by herself. Put their bed and crate in the area and pick up a baby gate to section it off when you’re away, Collins said.

It’s also important to discuss some basic house rules for training your pup with your partner or family members before bringing one home. Will she be allowed on the furniture? Where will she sleep? You’ll want to control your dog’s behavior from the start, Collins said, so make sure you agree on what is acceptable and what isn’t from day one.

Look into obedience classes before you bring your pup home so that once you have her, you’ll be ready to train from the start. If you’re interested in getting a puppy, socialization will be especially important during your first few weeks together, Collins said.

The First Few Weeks

As exciting as the first few days can be, many new dog owners set their dogs up for separation anxiety, something they may not even realize. People usually decide to adopt a pet over the weekend, Collins said, and spend every moment of their first few days showering their new animal with affection. When they resume their normal schedules, their dogs are faced with a sudden change in routine and can become very anxious. Prevent this anxiety by leaving your dog alone with a fun toy for a few minutes from the first day you bring her home.

Some people also believe that a new dog should only spend time with its family so that it gets used to being with you. While it’s true that you shouldn’t have large groups of people over all at once, you don’t need to keep visitors away until you’ve formed a new bond, Collins said. The best thing you can do is have a few friends or family members visit early on and allow your dog to socialize with them.

As mentioned, you’ll want to have consistency with training from the beginning, but its important to focus on positive training. There should be no need for yelling or physical punishment, Collins said, and you should set yourself up as a leader by asking for good behavior when doing even the simplest things like preparing to go outside or eat dinner.

Finally, the best thing you can do with dogs of every age is start from square one with training. Some new pet parents think bringing home an older dog will mean they’ve already been house trained, which could be very far from the truth. Shelter dogs come from very different backgrounds with a variety of histories, and the places they’ve been staying prior to coming home with you may not have had the resources to keep up house training, Collins said.

“Take your dog out a lot at the beginning and treat them for going outside. This sets your dog up to succeed,” she said. “If you assume or pretend like they don’t know, you’re likely to avoid mistakes that might become habits.”

Dog Training Tips to Keep in Mind

If you’ve got your heart set on bringing home a puppy, remember that they’ll require much more work than an adult dog, Collins said. No matter where you get them from, they’ll take a significant amount of time and energy to house train and socialize properly. Where an older dog may need a refresher on the basics, a puppy will need to learn everything from scratch.

Providing your dog with lots of physical and mental exercise is a must-do for new owners as they begin to feel out their dog’s personality. A tired dog is a good dog, Collins said, so be sure to provide them with lots of mental and physical stimulation throughout the day.

Keep yourself educated about your animal so that you’re able to head off behavioral issues from the get-go, Collins said. Pick up a few books on puppy training or participate in a variety of training and agility classes to strengthen the bond with your pet and teach you both some extremely useful lessons. The most important thing you can do, though? Enjoy yourself!

“Make memories, take pictures, and find new things to do together,” Collins said. “There’s a reason why dogs are called man’s best friend.”

This article was originally published on Pet360.com.

Canine Etiquette Tips for the Summer Season

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Life,Dog Trainingmtest on August 5th, 2013

by Charlotte Reed

In 2007, I wrote “The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette.”  The book demonstrates that well-mannered people and their well-mannered pets are more pleasant to be around, are treated better by everyone, and get invited to more places including restaurants, parties, vacation homes and more.  This is especially true during the summer season – so I decided to provide you with a cheat sheet or crash course in summer pet etiquette.  Here are eight tips to polishyour pet performance in the summer’s heat when manners have a tendency to get lost in the pack.

Walking the Dog Walk. Use a four or six foot leash for control walking.  Use a retractable leashin the park so that your pet can romp and run ahead.

Doggy Doos. Be kind to others by always picking up after your dog using a plastic bag that can be tied or sealed to contain the unpleasant odor.  Deposit in appropriate waste receptacles.

Help Keep Your Neighborhood Beautiful. Neighborhood residents spend many hours and dollars keeping their community looking good.  Give’ em a break.  Keep your pet from out of neighbor’s front laws.  Your dog could tramp delicate flowers, and his “fertilizer” is not the kind that residents wish to see or smell!

Meet and Greet. Although it is always fun to meet and greet new pet parents and their charges, do so politely and carefully.  Ask other dog owners if their dog is friendly before allowing the canines to approach and sniff each other.

Make friends not enemies. Be on your best behavior by bringing a healthy, parasite-free and social dog to the dog run. While at the dog park, never reprimand or give food to another person’s canine.  Most importantly, don’t bring toys to the dog park unless you want to share them or don’t mind them being destroyed.

Eating out. We all love to eat outside when the weather gets warmer, so why shouldn’t your dog?   Show consideration for others; take your dog to a restaurant only if she is not going to bark for attention, beg for food, and generally annoy other patrons. And don’t expect your waiter to service your pet.  Bring your pet’s own accoutrements like portable water  and food bowls.  Leave at least a 20% tip for those waiters who provide excellent, pet-friendly service to you.

Be a Good Guest. When visiting family and friends in the beach, don’t assume a weekend invitation is for you and your dog.  Call and confirm that your four-legged friend is a welcome addition and that she can enjoy herself without creating stress for you, your hosts or their other invited guests.  Travel with a housebroken dog, bring all pet supplies necessary, and take care that nothing in your host’s home is destroyed, broken or covered in fur during your stay.  Also, just in case, find out the name of a local pet sitter or dog kennel by visiting the websites of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, Pet Sitters International or the American Boarding Kennel Association.  Within 24 hours of your departure, send a thank you card from both of you.

Travel with social graces. When staying at a hotel, make cleaning up after your pet as easy as possible for yourself, your pet and the housekeeping staff.  Feed your pooch in the bathroom so that messes can be easily wiped off the tile floor, and carry some moist towelettes in your luggage to wipe up the crumbs or slobber.  Keep your pet in the crate when housekeeping is cleaning up your room.  If your dog likes to sleep with you in bed, bring an extra sheet or blanket to prevent shedding or soiling on the linens.  Most importantly, when you check out make sure you leave your room like you found it when you arrived – intact!

Look presentable. If you are worried that you and your pet may not be as presentable as you should be, take your dog to the groomer for a good summer haircut and bone up on your manners in obedience class.   Ask your veterinarian for recommendations of canine professionals in your neighborhood.

So, whether taking your pooch for long walk to explore a new neighborhood or retreating to the beach for the weekend, being out and about more means being mindful of your manners. Remember that you and your pet are goodwill ambassadors for dogs and their owners.  Obeying local health ordinances (i.e., pooper scooper, licensing and leash laws) and having a clean, well-mannered pet is a great way to make a favorable impression.

This article was originally published on Pet360.com.

Six Reasons I Stopped Going to the Dog Park

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Health,Dog Lifemtest on August 5th, 2013

by Carol Bryant

I am a dog mom who likes to travel with her dog. I am not alone: According to PetRelocation.com‘s survey in 2011, 60 percent of respondents traveled with their dog.

My cross country travels have taken us from sea to shining sea, where many towns have rolled out the grassy welcome mat with dog parks. My dog, Dexter, has been socialized, is in possession of his Canine Good Citizen title, and yet on more than one occasion dog parks have completely left us both in knots. Here are six reasons why I stopped frequenting dog parks with Dexter:

Reason One

What I Want: A place to let my dog play, off leash, with other well-behaved dogs about his size.

What I Tend To Find: Pet parents who bring unruly and/or ill-mannered/less than properly socialized dogs to the dog park. I often wonder why an “enter at your own risk” sign is not clearly posted at the entrance to many dog parks. Some of the pet parents I’ve encountered at dog parks are clueless when it comes to dog park etiquette, behavior, and keeping their dog from inuring another. Rules are clearly posted, so I am clueless on why they are ignored.

“Oh look, they’re just playing,” may not be the case, especially at the dog park. Dog parks often have areas separate for larger dogs to play together, with small dogs having their own domain. Proceed with caution when larger dogs may hone in on a smaller dog as its prey. As a lover of all sizes and pedigrees of dogs, smaller dogs can bite just as much as larger ones. Know your dog’s body language and what is and is not “play.”

Reason Two

What I Want: A clean park.

What I Tend To Find: Despite proper Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccination, my dog acquired kennel cough at the dog park. Upon further investigation and using a little common sense,  it occurred to me that dog parks are pretty much open urinals. The earth is one big “pee-mail” for dogs (after all, where else can they go)? I just no longer want my dog exposed to disease and bacteria that lurks beneath.

Reason Three

What I Want: A gated environment.

What I Tend to Find: How hard is it to close at least one of the two dog gates secure entry to many dog parks across the country? Apparently, this is a difficult task for some. Most dog parks I’ve visited are equipped with a double gate. If Fido roams into one area, he can’t get very far. However, people who leave the gates open can be a dog’s biggest danger. I kid you not: The last time I frequented a dog park, at least three times in one hour did someone have to remind a dog parent to close the gate behind them. I no longer am willing to take the bolting risk.

Reason Four

What I Want: A kid-free zone.

What I Tend to Find: Not always, but there have been many instances where small children came to the dog park with their parents.  Why oh why would someone bring an infant to the dog park? I know that busy moms have their hands full and that giving Fluffy play time at the dog park is a noble gesture. Bringing a crying baby to a dog park is not in the best interest of anyone.

There are ways to acclimate dogs to babies, but in their space, at their domain and in an environment designed for frolic, freedom , and letting the dogs out, a baby does not belong.

Reason Five

What I Want: My dog to live

What I Fear: Note that I have not encountered this situation when at the dog park, but it has happened enough to run chills up my spine. Several years ago when a dog park opened in my area, imagine my glee: I felt like a dog mom in doggie Disneyland—the whole “finally, at last” feeling immersed me. That feeling is gone.

While playing at the dog park last year, a year-old Chihuahua was fatally attacked by three mixed-breed huskies (whom I encountered repeatedly by said owner who called them “part wolf”). The three dogs invaded the small dog area of the park when left unattended by their owner. Though his mom tried to free him, she too, was bitten almost two dozen times in trying to stop the attack.  This is a risk of going to a dog park and I one in which I will not partake.

This is not an isolated or exclusive tragedy: Google the words “dog park mauling” or “dog park fight;” astounding.

Reason Six

Want I Want: To play ball with my dog off leash without fear of issues.

What I Tend To Find: Bringing a toy of any sort to a dog park is a big no no. He who has the toy tends to be the one most dogs want to get to know—and from which they swipe the toy. My dog will give a ball away; many dogs will not. Bringing toys or treats to the dog park can cause problems.

As a compromise, my dog plays off leash in backyards I trust, are fenced in, and at get togethers and meet ups with other dogs we know.  While the socialization at a dog park is wonderful and a fun, integral part of a dog’s life and well being, for me it just is not worth the risk. So we walk the path less traveled, meet up with dogs in other pre-arranged ways, and I can breathe a lot easier for it.

I am not anti dog park and if your experiences have been good ones, I applaud you. It tends to be a people problem and not a dog problem in the first place. What I really want are rules followed, a fun environment, and fellow pet parents who feel the same way. I know I am not alone. How about you?

This article was originally published on Pet360.com.

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What is DoggySpace?

Doggyspace is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who love dogs. People use Doggyspace to keep up with friends, upload funny dog videos, and to give their dogs their own cyber place.

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