Are you bringing out the best in your dog? No tagline better defines our role as pet-care providers than that one. So when I hear that a dog I used to walk is now wearing a muzzle because he is hurting other dogs, I get so disheartened. Someone has failed him. Back in the day when I used to walk Cody he was not the easiest dog but with proper management, Cody was a decent canine citizen. Then his owner moved to the east end of the city and I lost track of him. Last week a friend spotted Cody with a muzzle on. Apparently he’s been causing lots of trouble. I’m not trying to judge anyone because I don’t know the whole story, but I don’t think that a dog that grew up well-socialized and learned bite inhibition should be on a muzzle. But what happens when a challenging dog gets in the wrong hands? Lack of knowledge breeds frustration and frustration is the catalyst for punishment-based techniques. Punish a problem behaviour, and it will spread and manifest into other problem behaviours. Muzzled at the park, no chance to play ball anymore -I’m sorry Cody. If a dog is not doing well in your care, you owe it to him to seek professional services. Whether you are a dog walker, or an owner, we should all be committed to brining out the best the dogs we care for. Muzzling a dog with potential to improve, is the equivalent of giving up on him. I know Cody can do better than this.
Posts from the ‘Toronto Dog Issues’ Category
Yesterday I went to visit Smaagodt, the chocolate lab we use to walk – who had a bite incident with his new walker and caused another dog to need 18 staples. I took my friend Steph along and her dog KC – who use to play with Smaag. I wanted to see if he was any different now that he has a bite history. This was the last part of my information for to determine if what happened was an isolated incident or if this dog has issues. I was so excited to see him. Reintroducing Tyson to Smaagodt took a little bit of work on Tyson’s part. At first Tyson was so confused – who is this giant and wild chocolate jumping on his mom??? Tyson did his introductory growl, “I’m not sure about you yet so watch out” – Smaagodt retreated. While I wish Tyson would have remembered him right away, it did allow me to see one important skill that Smaagodt has maintained- his ability to back away from confrontation. He’s the same goofy chocolate lab I use to know. He has no interest in fighting. He’s a peaceful dude.
At Sherwood, Smaagodt barked at KC enticing her to play but was easily distractible with a stick. He comes on strong when he greets other dogs, but he’s friendly. He highly social and has a lot of tolerance for other dog’s bad behavior. He’s still super ball motivated, loves swimming and has a great recall. Taking him out was literally ‘a walk in the park’. Steph and I both agree – it’s really hard to imagine this dog injuring another dog. It would take a lot for this dog to bite.
So what now? The only question mark is the car – where the incident happened. Maybe he’s not safe in a tight spot? Well it shouldn’t prevent him from being on a group walk provided his new walker can keep him in the front, or crate him in the car. That’s what I would do. I gave my opinion to the owners and will wait and see what they decide. I referred them to their last walker so I’m sure they don’t want my referral for a new one I’m happy to not have that responsibility. In fact I’m going to think twice before I refer anyone. The truth is even if I think someone is good, unless I really really see them in action, I shouldn’t be referring them. I learned my lesson.
Now back to the little guy that is NOT such a peaceful dude, the dog that actually needs monitoring, a dog that actually doesn’t have that much tolerance, a dog that actually could injure another dog if provoked…..can you see where this is going? There were lots of puppies at Sherwood and I had to keep my eyes on Tyson. At one point I even asked a couple to hold their puppy as I walked by. This is something I NEED to start doing. I always feel like I can handle anything with Tyson – even a puppy charging at us -but what’s the point? It’s better for Tyson to know that all puppies DON’T charge at us. I need to make my life easier and I’m not sure why I resisted this strategy for so long. While I would tell my clients to protect their dog at all costs, I was putting my own dog at risk by not asking people to hold their puppy while we passed them. These people appreciated knowing that Tyson doesn’t like puppies. I told my friend Steph to remind me to do this if she’s sees me freezing. Sometimes even a schooled trainer needs someone to observe them and give them direction.
A press release from the OSPA wrote:
Mississauga, ON (March 1, 2010) – On February 22, 2010, Samantha Brown, a Mississauga dog trainer was convicted under the Ontario SPCA Act for causing an animal to be in distress.
On June 29th, 2009 the Ontario SPCA received a call from a dog owner who had hired Samantha Brown from “Lead the Way Sam” to train her dog “Lucy”. After the dog’s training session the owner found sever injuries to “Lucy’s” paws. Upon examination by a veterinarian, it was revealed that there were injuries to all of “Lucy’s” paws and she was suffering of heat stroke. The veterinarian felt that the level of trauma to all four paws, was consistent with over exercise on pavement and being dragged.
Samantha Brown has been charged under the Ontario SPCA Act for causing an animal to be in distress and was sentenced to pay a $2,000 fine.
“It’s important when choosing a dog trainer that the owners discuss the training techniques being used by the trainer” says Ward McAllister, Senior Inspector, Ontario SPCA. “Positive reinforcement techniques are the most humane option; they encourage the development of skills while keeping the animal’s overall well-being in mind”
Here’s my latest letter to Margaret Fitzpatrick, assistant to deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone. I cc’d Peter Leiss, parks supervisor.
Thanks for your response. After a little research, I’ve come to the conclusion that no dog walkers were represented at the Coronation Park meeting. As a former member of the Bickford Park Dog Owners Association (DOA), I can see how this could happen. Dog owners tend to meet in the evening. Dog walkers are out during the day. Unless there were postings, dog walkers would have no way of knowing that there was an association formed and a meeting they could attend. That being said, through our mandatory yearly licenses, the city has all of our contact info and has the ability to notify us of any park meetings. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Yes there are two other off-leash parks in the neighbourhood, but from an urban dog walker perspective, neither of them offer the safety features that Coronation does. Stanley Park is open to busy King St. on one side and a swine slaughterhouse on the other. It also has restricted hours due to baseball games. There’s no question that bringing 6 dogs there is less than ideal. Trinity Bellwoods is a busy scene with joggers, bikers, rollerbladers, kids, and now tobogganers. It is an excellent park but only for the most reliable dogs because it has no fencing. Certainly dogs with a high prey drive (the natural instinct to chase fast moving objects), would do better in a fully enclosed environment. In order to provide a professional service to our clients, as well as respect the general public/other park users, we must ensure that our dog walks are safe and incident free. With our yearly $200 licenses and the nature of our business, if anyone should have access to fully enclosed off-leash areas like Coronation, it should be dog walkers. Can you please shed some light on the concerns of the DOA and where this opposition is stemming from. For me and my fellow dog walkers, this seems to be a completely unreasonable limitation.
Thank you for looking into this matter,
I was recently forwarded this link: http://www.torontohatesdogs.com. Is it true? Certainly in the last couple of years dog owners in Toronto, have become an easily targetted group. The first strike was at the Pitbull owners. The Pitbull ban makes it illegal to breed pit bulls in Ontario or bring the dogs into the province. Dogs already in Ontario are allowed to stay as long as they are sterilized, leashed and muzzled in public. The definition of pitbull is vaguely described based on external characteristics.
History has proven that defining groups based solely on external characteristics is a dangerous practice (no wonder some people are calling this canine genocide). Whenever genetic analysis has been done between groups it has always revealed that of the genetic differences that do exist, more variation occurs within so-called groups than between them. There are nice pitbulls and not-so-nice pitbulls, just like there are nice goldens, and not-so-nice goldens. Incidentally, I’ve been bitten by one dog early on in my career and it was a cocker spaniel. More recently, a shitszu name Bee, gave me some serious warnings that I was invading her space. I was scared! Delilah, my cattle girl has excellent bite inhibition but she has displaced aggression. If she gets angry at another dog, she is likely to lash out at anyone (human or dog) nearby. She’s came very close to biting my mom when they were on the couch and Tyson tried to jump up. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Tyson is reactive. He is wonderful with children but put him near an unneutered male puppy and it’s not pretty. So my dogs aren’t perfect. They need to be managed 100% just like most dogs should be. I’m sure that there are a lot of pitbulls that are more genitically stable than my two critters.
I can’t even imagine how I would feel if I had a pitbull and suddenly he had all his privileges taken away based solely on his appearance. It wouldn’t matter if we had done 4 levels of obedience training, or how wonderful he was with dogs or kids, I could never let him run offleash again. When people would look at him muzzled they would think he was dangerous, I would be heartbroken.
So does Toronto hate dogs? Well the jury is still out on this one for now. That being said, Toronto definitely hates Pitbulls.