dog has a bite [or other kind of] wound - what do I do for it?
Do I need to take the dog to the vet?
your dog to a veterinary is generally a good move. But it is
not always necessary if you have access to basic medical equipment
and drugs. I reserve vet care only for those things which I
absolutely cannot do myself like x-rays and surgery. Bite wounds,
even when they look rather severe, are treatable at home unless
they involve severe, unstoppable bleeding or cases of severe
laceration where internal organs or structures protrude from
the wound. The toughest thing to get past is the blood - it
looks scary! However, bleeding can generally be stopped by direct
pressure applied continuously for several minutes. (Continuously
does not mean looking at it every 30 seconds!) Unless you dog
is actually pouring blood out, as from a vein or artery, you
should be OK. Dogs are tough animals, and Mother Nature heals
injuries better than you might think.
First, calm yourself - then your dog. Second, put the dog in
your shower or bath and clean off the wound with warm water.
If you have a spray nozzle, use it. It is important to get ALL
dirt or hair out of the wound. Don't be hesitant to gently spray
directly into the wound if that is needed for cleaning. Getting
the wound clean is very important. Second, while the
dog is still in the tub or shower, apply direct pressure with
a clean towel or cloth if bleeding is heavy. Again, direct pressure
does not mean taking the cloth off every 30 seconds to look
at it! It means leaving it there for at least three minutes
or until the bleeding settles down. If the wound is minor, and
the bleeding is minor, put the dog in a crate (YES! I did say
crate!) or in a quiet, confined place and leave him alone. If
the dog got the stuffing beat out of him by the other dog, place
the crate in a warm place and keep your eye on him.
sutures? I rarely if ever use sutures and I'll tell you why
- chances are the dog will remove them within minutes of their
application anyway. I consider sutures unnecessary, even for
myself, and I've had some horrendous rips in my flesh over the
years. Believe me when I say the body will heal itself
nicely. Will a gaping wound heal? You bet. Actually, a gaping
wound heals better than a puncture or thin slice, as it less
likely to get seriously infected. In my opinion a wound left
open and kept clean heals best. LET THE DOG LICK IT! Cones and
such only keep the dog from keeping the wound clean. Yes, it
will take longer to heal, but it WILL stay clean. However, there
is nothing wrong with sutures if you keep a VERY close eye on
the wound for infection - its just a matter of preference.
a very clean, very cleansed wound such as this one, "super
glue" can be used
to affix the wound edges together. Dry the wound as best you
can (after cleaning)
and then apply glue to the edges. Hold wound edges together
one minute. Leave a
small opening at the lower end of the wound for drainage and
to insert a curved tip
syringe if cleansing is needed. Some wounds over moving parts
will not hold together
with glue. The glue did not hold on this particular wound as
it was located on the point
of the shoulder, a very mobile location. However the wound healed
up very nicely by itself.
As to aftercare
of the wound, flush it twice every twenty-four hours for three
days with hydrogen peroxide. Don't use the peroxide too often
after that, as it actually inhibits wound closure, however,
nothing beats it for cleaning out a wound, especially if pus
is present. I like to put the peroxide in a curve tip syringe.
It is important to clip any hair you can away for the wound.
DO NOT PUT A BANDAGE ON THE WOUND! EVER! Veterinarians will
scream that you need to wrap everything, but I'm here to tell
you that if you wrap that wound up in gauze I GUARANTEE you
it will get infected. Let the dog lick it and keep it clean.
Wounds need air and they need you to keep the scab off of it
the first week (yukky but necessary!) The last time I stupidly
let a vet talk me into putting a wrap on a dog (after Erin Fay
decided to let Maulie take the end of one of her toes off) the
vet warned and warned me NOT TO TAKE THE BANDAGE OFF! So, against
my better judgment, I left it on and gave the antibiotics. Within
4 days poor Erin had a 104 degree fever and when I removed the
wrap to see what we would see, the foot was swollen to three
times normal size and badly infected... Believe me, I don't
EVER let a vet talk me into bandages now. Poor Erin! (She recovered
just fine after I took the bandage off, let her chew off the
stitches and lick it clean...)
an eye on the wound, keep it clean, let the dog lick it, it
may take slightly longer to heal, however it will heal.
If the dog can't reach the wound, you must keep it clean by
taking the scab off and applying a small amount of diluted peroxide.
CAUTION: If you live in an area with flies KEEP THE DOG INSIDE
AND AWAY FROM FLIES WHILE IT HEALS.
As to antibiotics,
I put the dogs on Cephlexin 500mg twice a day. No matter what.
If, after two days, I smell or see signs of infection I switch
to Amoxi 500 mg twice a day. You never know which will work.
It just depends on which bug gets in there. Don't hesitate to
use antibiotics if ANY sign of infection begins, however. And
please! NO HOLISTIC NONSENSE if infection sets in! Get antibiotics
and get them fast!
dog got bitten by another dog and there is a lot of bruising
under the skin (dark red marks) but no puncture wound. The area
looks swollen, what should I do?
Injuries which do damage under the skin are often very tricky.
The danger here is septic shock (poisoning to the blood system)
caused by lack of circulation in the area due to the swelling.
Circulation allows the toxins caused by the trauma to be removed
from the area. When there is severe swelling, the toxins build
up, and a dog can die rather quickly. With under skin bruising
and injury, closely monitor the dog's temperature. Strong antibiotics
are a must in this situation. If fever is not quickly reduced,
take the dog to the vet - you may need surgery to actually open
is often caused by edema - fluid under the skin.
This dog had no serious lacerations, however he had serious
swelling due to tissue trauma. While not as scary looking as
lacerations, this kind of injury can still pose a severe threat
to the dog's health if not treated appropriately.
you use "cones" on your dogs?
not. Just a fetish I have, and certainly in some cases they
may be called for. I just find that vets tend to cover their
butts by slapping a cone on dogs for every little thing. I simply
find that the frustration, confusion and anxiety caused by the
cone (not to mention the fact the dog can't eat or drink properly)
hampers the recovery period. Recently one dog I know of had
a cone put on at the vet clinic. The dog's drool ran down into
the cone (it was a golden retriever) and ended up badly burning
the dog's neck.
health issues do pit bulls have? Is it true that "game
bred" dogs have a low incidence of hip dysplasia?
Pit bulls appear to have developed some natural immunity to
diseases such as parvo, distemper, corona, etc. When you consider
that this is a breed which has historically never been "coddled",
in fact has developed in conditions of downright neglect, it
is not surprising that those dogs which had superior immune
systems tended to live and reproduce. I have found my dogs to
be above average in their ability to fight off virus. What I
am not sure is how much of this is because my dogs have a very
high exposure level to disease at the shelter where I work.
Two recent rescue pups arrived at the same time. One arrived
with pneumonia, the other developed corona. Both were VERY sick
little pups, but pulled through quickly with no vet care. The
pneumonia girl got 250 mg of cephlexan and the corona boy got
fluids and no food for 48 hours while his stomach was sorting
itself out. (He did NOT want to eat anyway!) Fluids are EXTREMELY
important to sick dogs, so if you do not know how to give fluids
it is very important to get your sick dog to a vet.
There are very specific considerations for closely inbred lines.
I am familiar with the Patrick line, which suffers from auto-immune
deficiencies disease and mange. Inability to resist Demedex
mange is genetic, and inbred lines (as well as pit bulls in
general) tend to suffer from this, usually around 4 to 6 months
of age. It can be cured with Ivomec.
As to hip dysplasia - don't ever fool yourself that "game"
dogs have a low incidence of it. There is a huge difference
between TESTING for HD and ASSUMING that a dog which can beat
up another dog (who may very well be even more dysplastic!)
is sound. If someone does NOT ACTUALLY X-RAY they CANNOT tell
you ANYTHING about the incidence of dysplasia in their dogs...
My rescue cane corso won Working Group and reserve Best in Show
at a rare breed show with the judge commenting that he had "the
best movement at the show". This same dog has NO HIPS,
he x-rayed severely dysplastic from 11 months on. He was euthanised
at six years of age due to this dysplasia. YOU CANNOT TELL BY
LOOKING. My sorrell dog Dirk, runs and moves in a manner that
would guarantee to the experienced eye that he is severely dysplastic.
He x-rays ok. Bottom line - you can't tell by looking, you must
If you look at many "game" dogs, they are extremely
unsound. Bowed legs, straight rears, weak backs, eastie-westie,
however they win because dog fighting primarily tests a dog's
desire to continue aggression. There is no "quality check"
that assures the dog is matched against a dog which is sound.
His opponents could be a heartworm ridden, dysplastic, etc.,
but if he beats three like that he is a "champion".
For a "champion" fighting dog, it can simply be a
matter of beating three dogs worse than himself.
dog was playing hard with another dog and came up lame. He holds
his leg up in the air, and when he tries to walk on it, it crumples
and doesn't support him. Is that a torn cruciate?
cruciates rarely cause an inability of the dog to support himself
on the injured leg. They will be sore, especially right after
getting up from rest and after exercise. The injury you describe
sounds like a torn hamstring. This is the big, strong tendon
which runs down the back of a dog's leg. It is very noticeable
where the dog's leg is very thin right above the hock. It is
the strong, rope feeling thing on the back of the dog's leg.
When this is completely torn, it will no longer be taut. This
is a crippling injury and surgical repair is iffy at best. The
tendon must be restretched, and sewn with very fine suture material,
than the dog must be kept COMPLETELY still for months. Chances
for additional injury are great. When Fletcher, pictured below,
suffered a complete tear of his hamstring after having a "midair"
with another dog while playing, these were the two positions
he would assume. The leg obviously had lost all ability to be
used for support. After discussing it with the vet I decided
to simply have the leg amputated. It was the best decision,
for sure, as Fletch was up and acting like the fool he is in
FOUR days! I simply could not force him to sit in a crate for
months. I know he is probably glad I made this decision as well,
as he doesn't even seem to notice the leg is gone! Also, the
two procedures cost about the same.
is poor Fletcher right after the "midair" which
completely severed his hamstring. The uplifted leg
obvious loss of support on this leg shows that the hamstring
tendon, visible here above his hock, is torn away. Kinda looks
an AKC show German Shepherd, doesn't he? Fletch has since had
the leg amputated and is fully recovered. You'd never know he
missing a leg.
the 3 legged wonder!
I want to condition my dog. I've heard putting heavy chains around
their necks will help build up their neck strength. Some people
even make coats with weights built into them. Does this work?
To be really honest, those methods are a sure sign of a very
novice owner and you would be well advised to disregard any advice
on conditioning they give you.. As any physical anthropologist
can tell you, excessive work leaves a telltale mark on the body's
structure; and most often a detrimental one. In the case of heavy
collars and chains, especially those worn about the neck, the
unnatural downward pressure causes damage to the animal's spinal
column and nerves. Light resistance used in training is very beneficial,
however long term use of heavy weight only tears the animal's
structure down. A heavy chain, such as that pictured below, will,
in short order, apply so much pressure downward upon the spinal
column as to actually displace the vertebra, causing pain and
permanent nerve and bone damage. Weighted coats often are designed
in such as way that they put stress on the spine, tweaking it
and causing the kinds of problems you and I would get chiropractic
very best way to condition a dog is to walk it daily with SLIGHT
resistance, such as letting it pull you, or a light tire behind.
Increasing the distance, not the weight, will give you the best
results. In reality, the heavy chains and locks seen on many dogs
is a sad statement about the owner's lack of knowledge and regard
for the health of his/her animal.
fast and easy way to cause permanent damage to your
dog's spine (not to mention making you look like an idiot!)
I've heard that a dog should never be allowed to get its feet
off the ground while doing springpole. Dog fighters say the
dog could too easily be injured. Is this true?
dog can be injured doing springpole. It can be injured doing anything
it enjoys. Dogs have been killed playing fetch with a tennis ball.
Bulldogs are tough and rugged animals, designed to grip and hang
on no matter what a bull does to try and knock them off... A springpole
is a very mild version of this. If a dog gets seriously hurt while
playing on one, I suspect the dog was not sound enough to earn
the name "bulldog". I have been springpoling dogs in
the manner pictured below for over 16 years now, with only a couple
cases of dislocated and broken tails (all on the same dog and
all quickly healed). I guess you have to ask yourself: would I
keep my kids from playing football at school because they might
get hurt. Life's too short to worry about things like that!
Erin Fay, WDS, doing what she loves best.
Follow up question - somebody once told me that letting a pup
hang like that pictured below could injure its mouth. Can it?
Nope. You might lose a few puppy teeth along the way. Obviously
baby puppies, like the one shown here at 4 1/2 weeks of age, should
only be lifted for a second or two. You could, of course, harm
them if you let them drop. The point is not to "hang"
the puppy up there, but simply to familiarize the pup with the
movements of the springpole.
Springpole training started early for Dirk!
Q) Is a treadmill
evidence of dog fighting? Do people besides dogfighters have them?
The only evidence of dog fighting is someone caught fighting
dogs... Some jurisdictions have passed "intent" laws
which use treadmills as evidence of fighting in association with
other evidence. I have two myself, have for years, and obviously,
I have no interest whatsoever in dog fighting. In this climate
(rainy) or in climates which get large amounts of snow in the
winter, a treadmill is a wonderful idea. Almost everyone I know
who has pit bulls, and who do not fight them, have treadmills.
I even suggested to the San Francisco SPCA that they get a treadmill
for their long-term inmates and they did. Seattle Animal Control
recently added a treadmill to their Long-Term dog program for
the enjoyment of their canine inmates.
Pride, now owned by Heather Ringwood, running her treadmill.
She loves it! This mill is from Grand Carpet Mills.
Q) My dog
won't run the treadmill - what do I do?
A common complaint! Some dogs take to it instantly, and some don't.
I've had both kinds. The main thing is to have patience and not
make it an unpleasant experience for your dog because of your
excitement to get him/her running it! First, make sure your treadmill
turns easily. Carpet mills must have a coating of spray silicone
to work properly. Next work the dog for ONLY A FEW MOMENTS AT
A TIME AT FIRST! Don't be a goof and hook the dog up and expect
him to run for 5 minutes the first time, even if he does like
it. The point is to be a good handler and MAKE the dog love it.
That means keeping him wanting more. If the dog is frightened
of it, or reluctant to move, simply stand in front and offer him
a FAVORITE toy or bit of food. Not a toy he kinda likes - a toy
he will DIE FOR! The chances are high that if you have the kind
of dog who is so laid back he/she has no real drive for a toy
or food, he/she may very well never enjoy the treadmill. Dogs
with really high prey drive seem to enjoy it the most.
session hook the dog up, bait it with the toy or food, get a good
solid 30 or 45 seconds of running and then STOP! Reward the dog
and then put him/her up! Each week add 30 seconds to the time.
On my Grand Carpet Mill mills, my dogs run flat out for 5 minutes
in the off season, 8 minutes when they are good shape. I won't
let them do more. They come off the mill covered in saliva and
panting hard. They hit the wading pool and lay in it. They are
happy and exhausted. I use the treadmill strictly as a "get
your yah-yah's out" device, not so much as a conditioning
device, so I don't want to keep the dog trotting up there for
a half an hour. I don't have that kind of time! Slat mills are
much, much easier for the dogs to run, consequently they dog must
run longer to get the same work out.
There are so many training methods out there - which one is
myself, marker training is the only way to go. After 25+ years
of training, and over 60 titles, once I found pure positive
training I never looked back. In matters of reliability, precision
and just plain fun, it can't be touched. Marker training forces
a person to understand how their dog learns and thinks
- and I find that the most challenging and fascinating part
of training. Any idiot can batter a dog into a sit or a down
position - but are you smart enough to figure out how to make
the dog want to sit or down, quickly, reliably - without
ever touching the dog?!
most common methods of dog training are:
Training (also called Clicker Training, and Positive Reinforcement)
Training (Shock collar or "e-collar" training.)
Training is most commonly called clicker training, because
many trainers use a small hand held clicker to "mark"
the behaviors they wish to reinforce. A clicker is not necessary,
anything can be used as a marker, most commonly the voice, such
as the word "Yes!". Marker training is based on positive
reinforcement; the dog is rewarded for correct responses, and
incorrect responses are ignored. This is not the method for a
control freak! The teacher has to have great reserves of patience
and insight into how their dog thinks and reacts. There are many
articles which outline marker training available, several are
listed on the links page under training.
Of all the training methods, marker training is often the least
understood, and the dog owner searching out a trainer must research
well to find a trainer who has long experience with the method
and has titled dogs using the method.
myself, after 25 years in dog training, the greatest reward for
me in finding the PURE positive method, was the fact that I learned
as much (if not more) than my dog. When you remove physical manipulation
from the training scenario, and suddenly must find "nonviolent"
ways to get 100% compliance from your dog, believe me, you learn
a thing or two about dog behavior. If you don't, you will not
succeed as a positive reinforcement trainer. This is definitely
a "thinking person's" method, relying on brains, not
training done right produces a happy worker who is not afraid
to try new things. Marker trained dogs will "throw out"
behaviors, trying to earn reinforcement, making it much easier
to teach new things. The dog looks to the handler as the "giver
of all good" and his attention will rarely wander to "more
interesting" things while working.
is my own tongue in cheek name for the hybrid half positive, half
negative method used by many who attempt the marker method but
fall short of understanding pure positive training. This method
involves positive reinforcement in the form of rewarding correct
responses, but only after the dog has been physically manipulated
into position by a negative (pushing, jerking). For example, a
dog becomes distracted and gets up from a "sit-stay"
command. The trainer jerks the dog back into position, waits a
moment, then "clicks" the dog and rewards it.
and Release is by far the most common method of dog training,
being easy to master with almost no understanding of dog behavior.
Even when praise or food are given as a reward, it must be remembered
at the basis of this training is simply "do it or else..."
This method has its roots in the early US army training methods.
An easy to teach, no thought necessary method was needed to train
army dog handlers (many of whom had no experience with dogs what
so ever) how to train dogs - quickly! Since drilling worked for
the soldiers, it was assumed drilling would work for the dogs,
and, to a point, it does. This is the reason that the German shepherd
became the most popular breed for K-9 Corp use. At one time the
Doberman was considered the superior dog, and during W.W.II was
the "official" dog of the US Marine Corp. However, Dobermans
are sensitive, highly intelligent and not nearly as "forgiving'
of clumsy mistakes often made by novice trainers. It was easier
to find a different breed which could handle the crude jerk and
release method than to change the method to fit the Doberman,
so Dobermans were replaced by the less sensitive and less demanding
shepherd. This method lends itself to obedience classes, where
students and dogs drill in groups, and indeed many early trainers
boasted army dog training experience.
many dogs have been trained successfully with the jerk and release
method. It works. A dog will submit in order to avoid painful
correction. However, jerk and release trained dogs are often hesitant
to try new things, fearful of making a wrong move and earning
themselves a correction. Jerk and release training is a crude
(albeit effective) method, which has lost favor among top trainers
Training. Punishment training is based on the simple premise
that an animal will perform a behavior in order to avoid or shut
off painful stimuli. Example: when training the retrieve, electric
shock is applied until the dog opens its mouth and takes
the dumbbell. Shock is sometimes replaced with painfully pinching
the ear or jerking on a pinch collar. When teaching the recall,
the shock is applied if the dog is moving in any direction but
toward the handler. Moving toward the handler stops the pain.
The cessation of the pain is the reward. Shock collars (the new,
"sanitized" name for those who don't want to call a
spade a spade is "e-collar") are not new. Today's models
feature things like five levels of continuous "stimulation"
as well as short bursts of shock.
collars and other methods of punishment training must be looked
upon as the crudest and least sophisticated of methods available
to trainers. Punishment training is easy - a shock collar makes
anyone a "trainer". However, punishment training also
ruins more dogs than any other method. There are professional
bird dog trainers who specialize in salvaging dogs ruined by punishment
training. Shock/punishment trained dogs often exhibit bizarre
avoidance behaviors such as spinning on the retrieve, nervous,
jerky motions and a stressed body language while working (tail
down and mouth pulled back). Those who use shock to train their
dogs will argue that those who don't simply don't understand the
method, however, the basic principle of positive reinforcement
versus negative reinforcement and/or punishment are easily grasped.
The truth is, shock collar trainers exhibit a lack of patience,
knowledge of dog behavior and empathy which I find appalling.
the Pup was an UKC registered pit bull (they registered him later
the AKC as a "Staffordshire terrier" to promote the
AKC's acceptance of the
pit bull into its ranks. There were several "Petes"
during the Little Rascals
series. This is the second "Pete".
Q) What do I feed my dogs?
A) Over the years I've fed a large variety of foods. At this
time I feed Cosco Performance dry mixed with either milk, raw
egg or raw hamburger (for taste more than anything) to all dogs
of all ages. I have found that sedate house dogs may have trouble
with really high protein levels (such as Eukanuba's Performance)
and may lick or chew their feet if fed too "hot" a food.
You need to realistically evaluate your dog's activity level.
If they sit around most of the day, they do not need, nor will
they benefit from, a high protein diet. If you stick them in a
shipping crate all day, and then feed a "hot" diet on
top of it, you will really have problems. Fat is what fuels a
dog. If you are feeding a diet with a very low fat percent (like
less than 12%) and don't want to change your feed, you will need
to supplement with veggie oil. Fat is actually more important
to the canine athlete than protein. To be honest, dogs do well
on just about any decent food that has at least a 20/15 protein/fat
percent ratio. I like the Cosco Performance because the dogs like
it, it only takes 2 cups a day to feed an average (50 pound) pit
bull, and they have far less stool than with cheaper dog foods.
When you look at a bag of dog food, look at 3 things: what is
the main ingredient? Is it corn? Well, I got news for you - dogs
aren't chickens, they don't eat grain. Look at their teeth - those
are not the teeth of a corn eater! Don't base your dog's diet
on corn. Second, look at the protein level. Sedate house dogs
should get somewhere between 15 and 20, dogs which are worked
hard DAILY should do well on anything from 20 to 30 percent. Third,
look at the fat content. Fat is important - it is what runs the
dog. There are some highly touted dog foods out there, like Solid
Gold, which have an 8% fat content. This is FAR too low. Please
do not feed your dog any food with less than a 12% fat content.
your dogs are outside in cold weather, you will need to increase
their fat intake without necessarily increasing their protein
intake. You can do this buy adding fatty hamburger (raw) or veggie
oil to the food. One tablespoon per day is a good amount.
nursing bitch needs extra nutrition. Examples of good suppliments
pregnant and nursing bitch are: cottage cheese, whole milk, eggs,
chicken and liver. Fed well, a bitch will not loose any weight
during the whelping
and nursing process.
Do you feed table scraps?
A) Absolutely! Around here it is share and share alike. Pizza,
Mystic Mints, chocolate milk, you name it. Do they get diarrhea?
No. Does the chocolate hurt them? No. Has any dog I have ever
owned ever been to the vet for something I gave it to eat? No.
Life's too short not to share with your best buddy! Common sense
is the word.
Q) Do you feed bones?
A) Yes! I feed out about $60 worth the knuckle bones each
month. I feed them raw, and generally frozen. I have NEVER had
a problem with a dog eating a bone, however, I have had all kinds
of problems and dangers with raw hides and chew toys. I have had
to have dogs opened up to remove chew toys, etc, that get stuck
in the intestines. Cooked bones are dangerous, as they splinter.
Bones are a great source of fat, and sure keep them happy for
How often do you feed?
I feed twice a day in this manner: In the morning I throw handfuls
of dry food in a scatter pattern where the dogs are kept. This
gives them opportunity to search for the food. The dogs love to
sniff around and look for it, and it sure gives them something
to do. In the evening when everyone comes in, they get a nice
What do you think about this "BARF" raw diet thing?
I feed my dogs lots of raw meat. I own sheep, and when one is
culled, the dogs get to eat the carcass. However, feeding a BALANCED
raw diet is VERY time consuming and very expensive. It is not
practical for those with numerous dogs. My dogs do well on Cosco
Kirkland brand dog food, with raw food on the side. If you have
the time and money to feed pure raw meat, more power to you. (By
the way, my dogs DO NOT eat the stomach content of the animals
Is chaining better than a kennel?
Not really. It depends on the kennel. My dogs personally prefer
their cable runs to their kennels. The reason? Who wants to
be confined to a smaller area, which has cement for a floor
when you could be out rolling in the grass, digging in the dirt,
and lying in the warm sun with a 40' to 60' diameter to play
in? The average dog kennel is 6 x 12, not much space so who
can blame the dogs? I know where I would rather be. On a chain
or cable a dog gets much more room to move about. The only reason
a kennel is better is for security reasons. You can lock a kennel
(and should). My kennels are always locked when the dogs are
in them. Because someone is always here, I am not as concerned
about security, however in high crime areas, all kennels should
be locked, and even in "nice" areas, locked kennels
keep your dogs safe from intrusion by wandering children. I
have seen a very well intentioned but misguided effort recently
by humane groups to ban chaining or cabling as "cruel".
In a biazarre bit of reasoning, they consider keeping a dog
in a shipping crate to be "kinder"! Poor dogs - so
misunderstood by those who would "help" them!
Which is better, a cable or a chain?
A) I like cables because they don't wreck the yard as much,
and are lighter for the dog. I have had slightly more problems
with cables failing than chains, but I still stick with the
is one of my "outer" dog houses. The "real"
dog house is inside, but this outer
box (8'x8'x4' ) offers extra protection from sun and wind. In
the winter a burlap sack
is hung over the opening, as well as on the dog house itself.
The "deck" is inexpensive
and keeps the mud down. Shade trees (even in this climate!)
are essential. This
40' x 50' kennel courtesy of a grant by Animal Farm Foundation.
Is a dog house enough protection from the sun?
NO! A dog house, no matter how well "insulated" they
are suppose to be, becomes very hot in direct sun light. A dog
can even die in one, in some climates. Nothing is more pathetic
than pictures of pit bulls suffering in "dog men's"
yards, sitting out on a chain with a metal barrel or crummy
wooden dog house as the only protection from the sun. Think
about a metal barrel sitting in the sun. It doesn't take a rocket
scientist to realize how hot that would be. Images of dogs kept
by unthinking owners like that are what make chaining seem so
pathetic to the public. One nice thing about a kennel, at least
with a kennel you can put a roof and sides on it, giving the
dog an extra layer of shade. On a chain, a little thought must
be put into it, for if a tree is used for shade, it is important
to make sure the dog doesn't get tangled around it. A VERY common
call that animal control officers respond to are people who
have chained a dog, for instance, under a carport, and the dog
gets tangled around the pillars. Or dogs which get tangled around
the TV dish, garbage cans, bikes, and other yard stuff. LOOK
at the area where the dog will be, remove anything that the
dog could get around.
wrong with this picture? Everything! The complete idiot who
houses his dog in
this way has, either intentionally or unintentionally, done
just about everything wrong.
First, the dog house is metal, the worse material possible.
It heats up intolerably in
summer, and is deadly cold in winter. Second, the dog house
is raised, allowing cold air
to circulate underneath, causing the "shelter" to
be even colder than necessary. Third,
the "shelter" has no bedding or door flap, so the
dog has no ability to conserve its body
heat, which means this shelter is no shelter at all. Fourth,
the chain is far too short and
far too heavy for this dog. Dying of exposure is a tragically
far too common death in "dog
men's" yards. One has to wonder why dogs they supposedly
value so much are treated with
such disregard. Sarona Motorhead, for one, froze to death in
a situation similar to this.
Instead of "toughening" up a dog, conditions such
as this wear a dog down quickly.
Do chains need to be as large as some huge ones I have seen
in dog books? The dogs look so uncomfortable; can a smallish
dog like a pit bull break a chain made to haul logs?
A) No, they can't. Many times dogs are put on huge chains
because the owner thinks it looks cool. Some think it builds
the dog's neck muscles when in fact the dog tends to move less,
so it gets even less conditioning than if it had a more appropriate
sized chain. Some dogs "run" the chain, meaning they
are very busy and hyper, running all day long. (These dogs just
go crazy when stuck in a crate). "Runners" are hard
on chains, and may need slightly heavier chains and hardware
than a more sedate dog. The chain itself is hardly ever the
thing that breaks - it is usually the snap or swivel. Oversized
chains say more about the mentality of the owner than the strength
of the dog..
chaining gets a bad name: dogs chained in trashy areas become
Like anything else in life, a little thought must be given to
your dog's comfort
and safety whatever method you use to contain your dog.
How do I hotwire A Yard:
Dogs can jump! While pit bulls are not the worse escape artists
in the dog world, (my vote would go to huskies!) most can clear
a 6' board fence easily. The best way to secure your yard is
with the use of a 'hot wire". These are electric fence
chargers used traditionally by farmers to keep stock in pastures.
They come in many sizes and strengths. The best ones to use
just plug into the wall, though they must be protected from
weather. I plug mine in under an overhang or porch. After you
have hung the charger where it will be dry, pound an 8' metal
stake into the ground nearby. This is the "ground".
One wire goes from the charger to the ground. Without a ground,
the charger will not work.
Next take 6" plastic insulators and attach them to the
fence. They can either be stuck on the fence or metal posts
or nailed to the wooden posts. Position them 6" from the
ground, sticking straight out. This will keep the dog from digging
out. THE GROUND UNDER THE WIRE MUST BE KEPT BARE. Grass growing
up and touching the wire will short it out. I use RoundUp or
similar long term vegetation killer for this purpose. Now place
the 6" insulators along the top of the fence, angled in.
This will keep the dog from jumping. If your fence is short,
say, 4 or 5 feet, remember a dog can touch the wire as it jumps
over, and not be shocked. The same reason a bird can sit on
a hot wire and not feel a thing. The animal must be touching
something grounded and the wire, to feel a shock
Electric shock is VERY frightening to your dog. The first time
they try and escape and hit the fence they will think their
world has ended. Some dogs are tougher than others. A few will
shrug it off, but if it is strong enough, they won't be back.
Some dogs will scream and scream, running in a panic. (Now you
see why I am not keen on electric shock collars as a learning
tool - at least here the dog has the ultimate say about whether
or not he gets shocked - not some bozo with his finger on the
Most dogs will only hit the fence once or twice and then will
never go near the fence again - which is the point. This thing
saves dog's lives. I don't even turn my fence on anymore, the
dogs remember. If all the thousands of people who dump dogs
at the shelter because they can't figure out how to keep the
dog home would do this, their dogs would be saved. This is simple
and inexpensive. The whole set up, charger, wire and insulator
should not cost you more than $70. Please monitor your dog until
the first time he has hit the fence. This is important in case
Q) What do you think of "Underground Fencing?"
A) Oh, if I had a dollar for every "invisible type
fence" collar that came in on dogs at the dog pound! I
could retire! PLEASE do not invest in this rather poor idea.
These barrier "fences" don't work for the following
They WILL NOT contain high drive dogs
They do not keep kids, the UPS man, other dogs, etc., out
of your yard
They fail with alarming regularity
Dogs can chase something over the fence then they can't get
I have been involved in court cases where people were getting
sued over the actions of their dogs when these "fences"
failed to keep the dogs confined. Some jurisdictions do not
legally consider them confinement, and I don't know of one
jurisdiction that considers them proper containment once a
dog has been declared dangerous.
Does springpole make a dog mean? I mean, doesn't jumping and
biting at something bring out its vicious nature? I've heard
its not a good idea to even let a dog play tug-a-war with its
owner, is this true too?
all bulldogs posses a strongly developed gripping drive dating
back to their use as hunter's and butcher's dogs and later as
bull and bear baiting animals. The desire to hunt and grip large
animals, or even to fight another dog has no relation to the
desire to bite the owner or other humans. Powerful hunting,
baiting and fighting dogs obviously had to be tractable enough
to handle when they were highly aroused, and this is one reason
why a sound pit bulldog is one of the safest of dogs around
people and children - even when highly aroused. Why? Pit bulls
(good ones) have an extremely well developed sense of distinction,
meaning they distinguish quickly and accurately between prey
and non-prey. A pit bull, fighting for its life in a pit, badly
damaged, in shock and in severe pain, will rarely lash out at
the human handlers within easy reach.
of tug-a-war, springpole, or other useful outlets for prey drive
will not ever cause aggression problems in a sound pit bull.
However, due to the recent fad cycle of popularity with the
bull breeds, far too many people are producing pups with no
concern for proper temperament. Far too many unsound and atypical
pit bulls have been produced, resulting in tragic loss of human
life when these dogs find their way into the hands of irresponsible
owners. The beauty of a sound pit bull is that you don't have
to make excuses for the dog - no "she doesn't like men"
or "he was abused as a pup so he growls a little"
or other nonsense. As long as people make excuses for poor temperament,
and continue to produce unsound pups and place them with the
public there will continue to be incidents which reflect (unfairly)
on all bulldogs. For more information on springpoles, click
Bandog Grip, SchH I, WDS, launches for her springpole. This
is as submissive and
compliant a dog as ever lived, who has never even thought of
being dominant or
aggressive toward her friends or family. Even though schutzhund
and ring sport
trained, she is a friendly, tractable dog with strangers.
Does chaining a dog make it mean?
I hear this every day, and though to me the answer is obvious,
I can see why people could come to this conclusion. No, confining
a dog to an appropriate chain (one longer than 12 feet) DOES
NOT make a dog mean. Actually, if anything in a dog's environment
was going to "make it mean" (change its basic nature)
it would be something like long-term crating, which cruelly
confines the dog to a small, cramped space. Where the myth of
a chain making a dog vicious came from is the simple fact that
most, if not all vicious dogs are chained, so when people see
vicious dog after vicious dog on a chain, they begin to think,
'hey, the chain must be what is making them mean.' As I have
become rather tired of hearing this from people who either let
their poor dogs run free (till they get killed by a car) or
stick them in a small kennel, I ask these people, 'hey, if chaining
a dog makes it mean, how do you explain the dozen friendly dogs
in my yard? How do you explain the thousands of friendly dogs
confined by cables or chains all over the state?' They can't
explain that, of course. I follow it up with "did you know
that by far the majority of bites to humans occur from loose
running dogs, not chained dogs?
Does a pit bull have a "locking jaw" and more powerful
jaw strength than any other breed?
I. Lehr Brisbin of the University of Georgia, and expert in
the field, states:"To the best of our knowledge, there
are no published scientific studies that would allow any meaningful
comparison to be made of the biting power of various breeds
of dogs. There are, moreover, compelling technical reasons why
such data describing biting power in terms of "pounds per
square inch" can never be collected in a meaningful way.
All figures describing biting power in such terms can be traced
to either unfounded rumour or, in some cases, to newspaper articles
with no foundation in factual data." And, "The few
studies which have been conducted of the structure of the skulls,
mandibles and teeth of pit bulls show that, in proportion to
their size, their jaw structure and thus its inferred functional
morphology, is no different than that of any breed of dog. There
is absolutely no evidence for the existence of any kind of 'locking
mechanism' unique to the structure of the jaw and/or teeth of
the American Pit Bull Terrier."
I can no longer keep my pit bull. My local shelter destroys
them. I'm afraid of what kind of people may get him/her if I
advertise in the paper. What can I do?
Obviously the very first thing to do is try and find a way
to keep your dog. The facts are harsh - the chances of finding
an appropriate home for your unwanted pit bull are extremely
slim. There are just too many unwanted dogs out there. If you
are moving, suck up and work harder to find a place where your
companion can go. (If you are in the military and moving, kick
yourself in the ass for getting a dog in the first place...)
After nearly two decades in animal control, watching people
dump their pets everyday, I know that in almost all cases the
people could have kept their pets had they really
you are sure there is no way to keep the dog, contact local
pit bull rescues. The internet is the best way to find these.
Do not give your dog to an all-breed "no-kill"
shelter. So called "no-kills" are often nothing
more than doggy warehouses, where your pet will linger in confusion
and misery, often for months and even years! Better the dog
be euthanized. It's a sad fact that many owners will abandon
their dog to an unknown fate rather than face the unpleasant
task of euthanisia. This is a case of thinking more of themselves
than of the dog.
line, if you are try and place the dog yourself, please take
the following steps for your dog's safety.
all potential adopters by visiting their home.
sure that if they rent, their homeowner's allows pit bulls,
and that their landlord will not object to a dog.
for their vet's name, and check with the vet.
their name by the local animal control to check for past
them where their last pets are? What became of them? This
will tell you a lot about how a person cares for their animals.
you cannot place the dog yourself, use the internet to locate
a reputable pit bull rescue. Screen the rescue! Make sure they:
all pets before placement
a reasonable adoption fee
been around at least a year and are known (in a good way)
by the local animal control.
Bull Rescue Central is a great resource for those
trying to place a dog.
to find a dog or pup:
Where is the best place to find my next pit bull dog or pup?
your local animal shelter. Then check Pit Bull Rescue Central
and PetFinder.com to
see if there are any rescue organizations in your area. Chances
are there are a couple dozen pit bulls in need right in your
I want to train this pup I just got. What is the best method?
following is a short article I wrote on choosing between traditional
"punishment" based training and positive "marker"
training. I hope it helps in choosing how to bring up your
Positive Reinforcement versus Punishment; The Light and
Dark Side of the "Force".
commercial for an upcoming new Star Wars movie got me to thinking
about the similarities between Lucas' fictional portrayal
of the "light" and "dark" sides of "the
Force" and the use of the "light" and "dark"
side of reinforcement - the "force" in dog training.
Just as Luke Skywalker had to choose between "good"
and "evil", so too, the dog trainer has to choose
between positive and negative techniques in training.
beginning to teach a dog, the most basic decision made is
choosing which foundation upon to base the working relationship.
The trainer's relationship with the dog will be, quite simply,
friendly or adversarial. Without doubt the single biggest
misunderstanding about positive methods is the belief that
the trainer has no real control over the dog, and yet nothing
could be further from the truth. Positive trainers teach obedience
by using intellect not physical force, shaping the dog's behavior
without physically manipulating the animal. They reward correct
responses and even incorrect but good-hearted attempts to
respond correctly. Incorrect responses act to "turn off"
the trainer, ending the fun. The method does take a certain
amount of intelligence, a very healthy sense of self, and
patience - something not all trainers posses. Adversarial
trainers, on the other hand, use physical force, shaping the
dog's behavior by physical or vocal intimidation, rewarding
correct responses with praise, food or the cessation of a
negative reinforcer such as electric shocks, leash jerks or
ear pinches. This method fosters a "do it or else"
attitude which causes the dog some stress when faced with
learning new tasks - a mistake may very well earn the dog
an unpleasant correction. One of the most obvious differences
between positive trained dogs and force-trained dogs occurs
when the dog is unsure of what to do. The positive trained
dogs will start to "throw out" behaviors, sitting,
downing, coming to heel, happily trying different things to
see which one will earn a reward. Force trained dogs will
freeze up when unsure of what to do - better to shut down
than to risk a wrong response - and the resulting correction.
training, you require an animal to set aside its personal
agenda (scratching, eating, sniffing, running about) and respond
to your commands in a prompt and reliable fashion. Marine
mammal trainers have led the way in positive training methods,
in part because the animals they work with are simply too
large, and in most cases too fierce, to physically intimidate.
Imagine putting a prong collar on a leopard seal - an animal
which stands taller than a man and has a mouth full of nasty
teeth to back up an even nastier temperament. How are you
going to "force" this animal to perform various
complex feats? Believe me, faced with this challenge (as are
marine mammal trainers) you will quickly learn to use your
brain and leave your brawn at home. You have to be patient
and smarter than the animal being trained. Another common
myth concerning positive training (and one I was guilty of
believing until I actually started doing pure positive) is
that it only works on "soft" and compliant animals.
Remember - this is a method developed for and with large,
aggressive animals which have no innate desire to please humans.
Should it not work just as well if not better on our domesticated
and willing dogs, no matter how "fierce"? The answer
criticize positive methods as letting the dog "get away"
with bad behavior. There is a clear distinction between teaching
a behavior and handling a discipline situation around the
house. Consider: my father didn't brook nonsense, however,
as a natural "alpha" he did not have to resort to
physical violence to control us kids. He earned our complete
respect first, then, when teaching us something, say driving,
he could be patient, kind and provide an environment which
enhanced our learning experience.
foundation you choose can be one which produces a positive
attitude toward the "work", and a willingness to
try new things, knowing that even if they are wrong they will
not experience a sudden and frightening "correction"
for their efforts. On the other hand, how often have we watched
"jerk" trainers waiting eagerly for their dog to
make a mistake so they can jerk (or shock) his head off? Even
"setting up" the dog so that it can "learn"
via a harsh correction? Adversarial? You bet. The choice is
yours. I find it difficult to understand how anyone can consider
setting up their dog in order to be able to administer physical
correction, a "sport". Its not how I want to spend
there has been a sudden surge in the use of electric shock
as a means of attempting to "teach" dogs. Why is
this happening? Human perception of canine companionship is
rapidly changing. Gone are the days of the "buddy"
dog who padded after us, sharing our lives and being treated
as a member of the family. In today's hectic, disconnected
and often selfish world, the dog is now often forced to spend
its days (and nights) stuck in a shipping crate. In sporting
dog circles young dogs are often encouraged to be uncontrollable
idiots because owners are afraid to crush "drive".
For many, the dog has become a piece of sports equipment,
taken out, used, and put back in its crate or kennel - no
longer a family member or companion. In this sad environment
it is easy to see how the use of sharpened prong collars and
even electric shock - long a staple of torture procedures
- can be justified in the minds of some.
often have I heard that if one is a "serious" trainer,
one cannot hope to go to "The Nationals" (any kind)
unless one uses extreme force? And yet real professionals
such as Mr. Wehle of the world famous Elhew pointers states
that when a dog needs force to do its job it has not been
bred right for the work - not matter how well it does the
work. He should know, his dogs have won every championship
available. Wehle's dogs are held in such high regard that
they are all but considered a separate breed of dog from mere
"mortal" pointers! In a sport long dominated by
extreme force methods, Mr. Wehle wrote one of the first and
still popular books on positive bird dog training - based
on having dogs correctly bred for the work. This should certainly
give one pause for thought before purchasing a pup from any
dog of any breed that must be compelled to work through force
training is an easy no-brainer, and thus is now used in a
tragic number of areas in dog training. Recently a high ranking
schutzhund official who gives seminars on the "proper"
use of shock collars presided over the shocking of a female
Rottweiler on the tracking field. As a last desperate attempt
to escape the unrelenting torture, this bitch turned and attacked
her handler, and was, of course, euthanized. I knew the dog
and had worked her - she was a gentle and willing animal.
Shock, instead of skill, is used by many in the obedience,
schutzhund, ring sport and perhaps most sadly, even in weight
what of the handlers who argue that their dogs are "hard",
and simply will not respond nor respect them without the use
of pain? This problem leads back to the beginning of the relationship
- and the foundation which was built at that time. Was the
foundation built on the word "No!" and a swat or
jerk? If so, obviously the punishment "arms race"
will have no where to go but up. These dogs are systematically
desensitized to punishment, to both the physical pain as well
as the disapproval of their owner. Learning to blow off the
"leader" is just that - learned - not a function
those handlers who have systematically built up resistance
in their dogs, the road to improvement is long and hard. It
can be done, but is entirely dependent upon the handler, not
the dog, having a change of heart. The relationship between
dog and teacher MUST cease to be adversarial. Sadly, not all
handlers are eager to make this change. We have all seen those
people who seem to get enjoyment out of "bossing"
a dog around - control freaks who see nothing wrong in using
pain and punishment as a means of relating with their "best
friend". For these folks all the positive trainer can
do is be a positive role model, showing them that it is not
a case of their dog being "hard", it is simple a
case of their lack of knowledge of the principals of teaching.
I find it very interesting that I know not one person who,
having learned positive techniques, EVER went back to negative.
a new pup is a fun time. We are filled with dreams of a "great"
If a new pup is in your future, may I suggest
you spend some time on-line looking at "positive"
training sites, marine mammal training sites, and hook up
with a QUALIFIED local "marker" or "clicker"
trainer. They may or may not use a clicker, it is just a term
that means they use positive reinforcement to "mark"
correct behaviors. I myself use the word "yes" instead
of a clicker. It takes a pretty big paradigm shift for some
to stop viewing their pup as an advisory who is "stubborn",
"hard", "dominant" or any other of the
words so often used to describe dogs which fail to pick up
on lessons poorly taught. But for those who make the change
successfully, the journey will be worth it. And after all,
the journey REALLY is more important than the destination.
I was walking my dog and the neighbors dog came out and menaced
us. What should I do?
In the "good old days" people didn't get excited
about dogs "working things out". It seems that nowadays
a dog owner must look to the legal system if they are to protect
their dog. If a pit bull is involved in a fight in the street,
even if it is attacked while on lead, it can no longer be
assumed that the law will deal with them fairly. For this
reason, I recommend firm action on a "first strike"
First, call animal control with the address of the menacing
dog. Be friendly, calm and firm. Insist that you want to know
all your legal options to make sure that these irresponsible
dog owners keep their dog on their property. In almost all
jurisdictions it is illegal for a dog to come out into a public
street and menace. Push. Keep calling. Turn in paper work.
Seem harsh? What do you think would happen if it was your
dog that had rushed out in the street? Fight fire with fire,
I say. DO NOT attempt to take matters into your own hands.
That only makes you look bad, and YOU can end up getting in
trouble. The point here is to send a strong message that you
WILL be able to walk down your street unmolested.
would like to support a cause which helps pit bulls. I can't
do rescue and am not sure how to fight BSL, but perhaps I can
support those who do. How do I know I am supporting a "worthy"
You are wise to be cautious. Not is all what it seems in the
world of animal welfare! Below is my list of organizations which
I have respect for and feel should be supported:
The following are those organizations which, because of their
anti-pit bull (and in some cases anti-dog) actions, do not deserve
- "Animal People" Magazine
- Discover and Animal Planet Channels
- American, United and Continental Airlines
- Northshore Animal League
- Michigan Humane Society
I'm taking a break!
Page under construction! More
Q&A to come!