My hot-button topics in the dog world

The more I learn about dogs, the more opinionated I seem to get. Anyone else feel that way? 😉

It’s hard to keep my mouth shut sometimes. I don’t like writing combative or purposefully aggressive posts here, but I do have strong opinions.

Secret garden shepherd. #gsd #backyardliving
Secret garden shepherd.

Over the years, here is what I have come to feel most strongly about with regard to dogs. So, without starting any kind of ranting and raving session, here — simply put — are the topics that I have a hard time keeping quiet about:

  1. Inhumane breeding practices, merely to fit the sacred “breed standard.” (See: bulldogs, pugs, most brachycephalic breeds, many toy breeds, most any breed without any current working line.) The more I read, the more I am convinced that we all just need to get mixed breeds. (Says the woman with a purebred German shepherd, one of the most physically effed purebreds there is. I know, I know…)
  2. The deeply damaging use of shock collars (euphemistically termed “e-collars”) in dog training. Many of the most respected trainers, behaviorists, and dog bloggers have written about the detrimental effects of shock collars (see Patricia McConnell and Jean Donaldson, to name a few). Eileen and Dogs also has compiled helpful articles and videos on this topic. What particularly interests me about this divide in training is that the people with the most expertise, academic background, and scientific credentials are always against the use of shock collars. The people without scientific credentials always seem to be the most vociferous proponents of shock collars.
  3. Cesar Millan being respected as a “trainer.” I always cringe as soon as someone starts throwing around the words “pack leader,” “dominance,” or starts making that silly “tsk, tsk” sound and then poking their dog in the side. God forbid they follow his other tactics at home (flooding, alpha rolling, wrestling fearful dogs to the ground, etc.).
  4. People who use retractable leashes for everyday walks. As the owner of a reactive dog, I think that is all I have to say about that.
  5. Toy or tiny breeds that are not trained, simply because they are small and “cute.” My Mega-E Dog recently wrote a post on this that resonated with me. I often see toy breeds get away with behavior that is simply appalling, merely because they are tiny and can be scooped up in one’s arms. They are still dogs. They still need to be trained.
  6. Breed-specific legislation. And as the owner of a frequently maligned breed, I am well aware of how silly and damaging these regulations are.

What are YOUR hot-button topics, related to dogs? And feel free to share if you disagree with some of mine! This could be a healthy way to release steam without starting an Internet war…

And, on a happier note: Trina already has a slew of approved adopters interested in her (no surprise there). Now we just have to choose the best family for her! Wish us (and the little pup) luck!

Pyrrha’s first softball game

Before we left on our beach vacation, I took Pyrrha to her first softball game.

As you can see from her ears, she was a little uneasy at first.
As you can see from her ears, she was a little uneasy at first.

The event was busier than I had anticipated, with lots of people, kids, and a few other dogs.

She is still having some reactivity issues.

Softball game | Doggerel

Can I just take a moment to complain again about irresponsible dog owners who walk their dogs on retractable leashes? UGH. This young woman had her mix breed on a retractable leash and the dog just started coming for Pyrrha. I get up immediately and start backing away from them, calling to the woman, “Please, my dog is shy…” but she does NOTHING to rein her dog in. The dog just keeps coming for us. Finally, Pyrrha lets out a HUGE warning bark, and that’s enough to stop the dog. The woman finally pulls her dog back, and I hear her mutter, “Jeez, we didn’t do anything!” Again: UGH! Ugh. The ignorance of some people…

Obviously, not everyone who uses one of these contraptions is irresponsible, but I see this behavior happen time and time again with retractable leashes. Unless you have great verbal control of your dog, just say no to retractable leashes. (Or, say no to them in crowded areas like a softball game on a Friday night.)

Anyway. Aside from that incident, Pyrrha did really well. She was nervous at first (as she still is in all new environments), but after about 15 minutes, she was sitting on my friends’ feet and even taking a nap in the grass. I’m always proud of her growing ability to overcome her fears. This event, though, was a reminder that I still need to be really vigilant about her socialization. She still has lots of room to grow!