Archive

Posts Tagged ‘dog safety’

Loose Dog? Don’t chase! Stop, Drop and Lie Down

June 1, 2014 449 comments

StopDropLieDown Have you ever had a dog escape your arms or car or home? What is the first thing you do? If you’re like most people, you chase after them. They run and then you run. It seems almost instinctual, doesn’t it?

I’ve come to believe that it REALLY IS INSTINCT that takes over when we chase after our loose dog(s). It’s not just something we do when our own pets get loose, but something we do when a friend’s dog gets out of the house or when we see a stray dog running down the street or the highway. There is even a recent video showing police officers chasing after a dog on a highway in California. They never even had a chance of catching him. It was a losing proposition.

The problem with our first instinct (to chase) is that it rarely gets us closer to getting them. In fact, the more we run the more they run, and in most cases, they run even harder and faster. It must be pretty scary seeing a bunch of people chasing you. (Heck! It’s scary being a human and having a bunch of people chasing you! I would run too!)  I don’t imagine a dog is likely to stop and ask itself “Does that person mean me harm?” No. They’re probably thinking “I am in danger. I need to run!”

The truth is it can be pretty hard to go against the instinct to chase a loose dog, but we really must learn to so, because when we chase we risk putting ourselves and the loose pet in danger.

This past week, a lost dog was lost forever when a good samaritan gave chase. The person was only trying to help. They saw a lost dog and wanted to reunite him with his owners, but in giving chase, they put Marty in more danger and sadly, he was hit by a car and killed. I cannot imagine how the person chasing him must have felt. One never expects to do a good deed and end up feeling like they did the opposite. I feel badly for both Marty’s family and the good samaritan. How could the person chasing Marty know what would happen? He/She was doing what was instinctual.

But what is instinctual is exactly what is most likely to put the dog in more danger.

There are a great many things I learned while working at our local animal shelter, but among the most helpful were the tips we received on how to get a loose dog back once it has slipped its leash or collar. I thought it might be helpful to share them here in the hopes that it will prevent one more family and good samaritan from feeling the pain of what happened to Marty.  (Please note: These may not work with every dog, but they have worked with many.)

What to do if a dog gets loose:

  • Stop, drop and lie down – It might sound silly, but dogs find the behavior odd. When you don’t give chase and instead lie down and lie still, a dog will get curious and will often come back to see if you are okay or to see what you are doing.
  • Stop, drop, and curl into a ball – This is also a curious behavior for a dog. Because you are not moving and your hands are closely wrapped around your head, they see you as less of a threat and will come to check you out. This gives them a chance to sniff you and realize it’s you, their owner, or to allow you to pet them and grab their collar.
  • Run in the opposite direction – What? Run away from the dog? That’s right. Some dogs love a good chase. Instead of you chasing them, let them chase you. Even if the dog is not up for a good chase, he may be curious about your odd behavior and follow along until you can get him into a building or car or someplace where it is easier to corral him.
  • Sit down with your back  or side to the dog and wait – Again, dogs are thrown off by this odd behavior and will become curious and approach. The other advantage is that by sitting down with your side or back to them, you appear less threatening and they are more likely to approach. If you have good treats, place a few around you to draw them near.
  • Open a car door and ask the dog if she wants to go for a ride – It almost seems too simplistic and silly to be true, but many a dog has been fooled into hopping into a car because they were invited to go for a ride. It makes sense, especially if the dog has learned to associate the car with good things (e.g., the dog park).

Although it is no guarantee, I can tell you that I have seen nearly every one of these work with one of our shelter dogs. The key is to fight your instinct to chase the dog and do something that is not as instinctual.  Instead, do what seems counter-intuitive to both you and the dog.

Have you had luck catching a loose dog doing something counter-intuitive? Please share your own experience. I would love to learn from you too.

My condolences go out to Marty’s family and the person who tried to help. May what happened to Marty be a an inspiration and reminder to us all so we can help reunite other lost dogs and their owners in his name.

Note: If you are chasing down a dog that has been lost for a few days or more, then I would recommend your read my other post “Why your lost dog may not run back to you” for more tips on how to capture a lost dog.

Lost Dog _Marty

Advertisements

Rescues – Do you have a plan for finding your lost dogs?

June 3, 2013 12 comments

Lost not stray v2When Cupcake (known as Lady back then) went missing in late 2011, I was lucky. No. Not lucky because she disappeared. Lucky because I had a an experienced rescue behind me, supporting me, all along the way.

Minnesota Sheltie Rescue knew just what to do to help bring Cupcake back. They knew that flyers were the most successful way to get the word out. They knew that signs and using a call service like Find Toto were also successful in getting more eyes looking for her. They knew how to mobilize a whole group of people to help spread the word. And, they made to tell me to get some rest so I would be there when Cupcake needed me most.  To say they are an awesome rescue would be an understatement.

I wish every rescue offered their new adopters and  foster parents the kind of support Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) offered to Cupcake and I. Unfortunately, I think MNSR is the exception and not the norm.

I get it. Rescues are busy. They’re saving lives. They are short-staffed and often run on a shoestring budget. They don’t have the time or the money or the staff to plan for the eventual loss of a dog within their care. But, they should.

If I had my wish, I would ensure that every rescue had a clear plan for:

How a dog or cat will be transported to its new home or foster home (grabbing them off the back of a transport truck is not a plan).

Lost Dogs of MN has a great list of tips on how to avoid losing a dog during transport. Every rescue should consider implementing them immediately. They should also consider making it the standard policy for how dogs are transported to and from their foster and adoptive homes.

What a potential adopter or foster parent needs to know to keep their new pet safe in the first few days after they bring them home.

  • New adopters and foster parents should avoid taking their new dog anywhere besides their home. They should be told to avoid the overwhelming desire to stop off at the pet store for supplies or a dog park, where they are likely to get into trouble or get lost.
  • They should let the dog get used to its new environment and hold off on taking walks through the neighborhood that first week.
  • Entrances and exits should be protected to ensure a dog cannot bolt out the door unexpectedly.
  • Double-leashing a dog or buying a harness for their new dog should be recommended so if the dog becomes frightened unexpectedly, they are not able to run away.
  • Encourage new owners and fosters to take lots of pictures of their new dog (or cat). They should have a frontal view and one with them standing.

What to do when a dog goes missing.

  • Flyers, flyers, flyers. Do I need to say it again? Flyers. Rescues need to have a template ready and waiting to go so when a dog does go missing they are not scrambling to put one together or leaving it up to the adopter or foster to do it. The number one thing that should be on that flyer is a place to put the dog’s picture and contact information, followed by the words “Do Not Chase.”
  • Contact all the veterinarians and shelters within the immediate area. Let them know about the missing dog, provide them with a description and contact information. This should be done within the first few hours after a dog goes missing.
  • Create a calling tree within the rescue. Identify where all of your volunteers are located and let them know they may be alerted if a dog in their area goes missing. Make sure they know what to do next. (Did I mention flyers?)
  • Post the missing dog on their Facebook page using the lost dog flyer. Ask people to help. Ask them to print out copies and pass them out in the area the dog was lost. This should be done within the first few hours after a dog goes missing.
  • Post the missing dog on Craigslist. This should be done within the first few hours after a dog goes missing.
  • Make sure all your volunteers, and anyone helping to find the dog, knows what to do when they see the dog. Not sure what to do? I shared a great video two weeks ago week (The best advice for capturing a lost dog) that I think every rescue should watch.
  • Document each sighting on a Google Map. Learn how to use one. They can be your best opportunity to tracking the dog and understanding its pattern of movement. Lost dogs often retrace their route, so understanding a dog’s movements is key.
  • Set up feeding stations to keep the dog in that area. This will make it much easier to capture the dog if or when you decide to place a trap.
  • Have a live trap in your custody and ready to go.  Don’t have one? Find out who rents them out. Sometimes police departments or rental companies will have one you can borrow or rent. Other rescues are a great resource as well.
  • When a dog is trapped. Avoid the temptation to let them out and leash them while you are at the location. Carry the trap to a safe and enclosed area before letting the dog out. Trust me. You don’t want to lose the dog before you can get them to a safe place.

Lost Dogs-MN has some really great tips for finding lost dogs and an action plan for finding a lost dog. I encourage rescues to take a look and consider making them a part of their plan.

I know having a plan is not an easy thing for rescues to do, but what benefit is there in saving a dog from death row if they get lost after being rescued?  Please. Keep them safe. And, when the inevitable happens and a dog is lost, have a plan for how you will find them again.

Cupcake and I thank you.

Have you ever had your dog escape after someone left a gate open?

April 2, 2013 42 comments

IMG_4190I don’t know about you, but I have become pretty paranoid about my dogs getting loose and getting lost. Maybe it was my whole experience with Cupcake last year (she was lost for 12 very long days) or maybe it’s seeing all the lost dog postings on Facebook every day, but I am now super vigilant about where my dogs are at, whether at home or out and about.

I think one of my biggest worries used to be that someone would leave one of my gates open and the dogs would get out. I have read one too many stories of dogs who became lost after a construction guy or a plumber or a yard guy left the gate open and the dog escaped. What is up with that anyways? Do they not have a brain?

Yesterday I saw another posting, this one on Lost Dogs Arizona. It reaffirmed my belief that putting locks on my gates was not as crazy as I first thought (I could care less if it offends the neighbor).

The posting was a frantic message about a Cattle Dog named Jessi Jane who was lost after the “yard guy left the gate open” and then “chased Jessi Jane” after realizing his mistake. Of course, this only scared her even more and she ran even harder. (Side note: Chasing a dog is the worst thing you can do. If anything, run away from the dog or lay down like you are injured or open your car door and ask them if they want to go for a ride.) Jessi Jane’s mother was absolutely frantic. Who could blame her? I would be too! Fortunately, Jessie Jane returned home one day later. The yard guy was fired and Jessi was home safe.

Seeing yet another story about a lost dog that was the result of someone leaving a gate open made me wonder if this is more common than I think.  
So I would like to ask you… Have you ever had your dog escape the yard because someone left a gate open? If so, was it someone you hired ir maybe a family member? Has it happened to you and what happened with your dog?

Extolling the Virtues of a Martingale Collar

March 28, 2013 53 comments
Martingale collar from Pink Puppy Designs

Martingale collar from Pink Puppy Designs

The first time I ever saw a Martingale collar was at the dog park. It was worn by a Greyhound that was new to the park.

I probably never even would have noticed the mechanics of the collar if I hadn’t noticed the beautiful coloring of it first. The collar was made of a bright and colorful fabric mixed with a swirl of blues and green and purple. It stood out.

I remember asking the dog’s mom where she had gotten it and her telling me all about the collar, where she had purchased it and why she had it. I was fascinated. Having a dog who regularly slipped her collar (Daisy), I loved the idea that I could purchase a collar that she couldn’t slip out of.

If you have never seen one before, a Martingale collar has two loops instead of one. Most dog collars you see these days are the simple ones that go around the dog’s neck (and hopefully, stay on them) and clip into a buckle. The Martingale collar is different. It is designed to prevent dogs from easily slipping out of their collars.  The beauty of the design is that it does this without cutting off dog’s airflow, as those old choker chains did when I was a kid.

The Martingale is often seen on Greyhounds because a regular collar does not work on them. Why? Because, like Shelties, a Greyhound’s head is smaller than their neck, which means a regular collar can easily slip off their neck, over their head, and they can be off and running before you can catch them. A Martingale allows the collar to tighten around the dogs’ neck without hurting them. The idea here is to keep your dog safe and in your control.

So why am I extolling the virtues of a Martingale collar today? Because I want dog owners to be aware of what is available to them, especially if they have a fearful or skittish dog (or just a dog who regularly slips their collar). Is your dog frightened by loud noises and looks for a place to run and hide? Get a Martingale collar. Does your dog like to chase runners like Jasper does? Get a Martingale collar.

Over the past few months, I have seen WAY too many Lost Sheltie signs and I have seen WAY too many dogs lost because they slipped their collar or weren’t properly leashed. I know it’s selfish, but I am tired of crying over someone’s dog who died because they slipped their collar and got hit by a car. If you have a dog that slips their collar, please consider getting a Martingale (and a harness wouldn’t be a bad idea either). Let’s keep them safe and in our control. I don’t want to read about another dead dog. I’m sure you don’t either.

If you are looking for some great Martingale collars, check out Pink Puppy Designs. They are colorful and fun and safe.

Also check out Classic Hound! They have some really stylish and cool collars for your hound, like the one pictured below. Seriously cool stuff!

Martingale collar

What can we learn when a police officer kills a dog?

April 19, 2012 15 comments

This past week two stories caught my attention just days apart.

Dangerous dogs are a quandary for police(Star Tribune, April 15, 2012)

Police Report to Wrong Address, Shoot Friendly Dog(Life With Dogs, April 17, 2012)

The first is a news article that appeared in my local paper on Sunday. It explored both the difficult position police officers find themselves in when there is a dog involved and a split-second decision is required. It also explored the danger that can arise for others when a police officer shoots a dog. It made for interesting reading to be sure. In fact, I had already planned on writing about it when the next story popped up on my Facebook page on Tuesday.

This story was a sad one and gave a brief synopsis of how an innocent dog was shot and killed by a police officer in Austin, Texas. The officer had been responding to domestic disturbance call, but unfortunately, had been given the wrong address. The dog and owner had been playing frisbee in the yard when the owner walked away to get something out of his truck and the officer intervened. He told the owner to put up his hands and as he did so the dog started to approach, barking at the officer. When the dog continued to approach and bark at the officer, he shot him.

I know for me, the second story struck an emotional chord. I couldn’t help but place myself in the owner’s shoes and not feel sad by what happened. Like many people, my dogs are my family. I can’t help but be upset. But, even feeling sad and angry about what happened in Austin, I couldn’t help but also wonder about the police officer.

I know that police officers are often put into highly charged, highly stressful situations, where a split second decision can be the difference between life and death, and in these type of situations, officers are often forced to take a more offensive (vs. defensive) position to prevent bodily harm. Is that what happened here? It sounds like it may have been the case. It doesn’t make the situation any less sad or make anyone any less angry, but it does make one wonder what I would do in the same circumstance.

As a dog owner, I was left wondering how I (and other dog owners) can prevent these types of situations from happening. How do we avoid situations in which officers feel the need to make that split second decision and shoot our dogs? How do we keep our dogs out of harms’ way?

While reading many of the stories in which a dog was shot by an officer, one main theme emerged. Can you guess what it was?

Read more…

Lost Dogs Found. My Scary Moment.

August 24, 2011 31 comments

Have you ever had that scary moment with your dog(s)? You know the one where you (or they) do something that puts their life in jeopardy? Or something happens and you wonder if you’ve lost them forever?

Tonight, I came home from work only to discover that my garage door was wide open. At first, I was mad. “That damn door!” I thought, “It’s constantly going back up after I drive away from the house!” Usually, I wait around to make sure it is down for good before leaving, but today I must have forgotten.

As I pulled into the garage, it suddenly occurred to me that it was really windy outside today. I looked at the closed kitchen door and breathed a sigh of relief. “Whew!Still closed.” I thought. Although that door is always locked, it often blows open when there is a strong wind and the garage door is open (it only stays closed when the deadbolt is engaged). The fact that it had remained shut was truly a miracle.

Instead of stopping to gather my work bag and purse out of the car, I headed immediately inside to check on Daisy, Jasper, and my cat, Nick. I opened the door but no dogs greeted me. I called their names. Nothing. Panic started to set in as I ran from room to room calling their names, “Daisy! Jasper! Nick!” Finally, Nick made an appearance and promptly voiced his concerns about food. What did he care about missing dogs?

I ran back out into the garage and then to the door that leads to the back yard. I pulled open the door and started to call their names “Daisy! Jasp…” Oh Thank God! And there they were, tails wagging, smiles on their faces, and both of them hopping around with excitement, just like they normally act when I come home. No big deal.

You have no idea the relief I felt!

Daisy was a little skittish, but Jasper seemed fine. “How did they end up there?” I wondered. Obviously, at some point the wind HAD blown the door open and they had escaped. “Where did they go?” I wondered, “How far did they get from home?” “Who made sure they were safe and sound?” “How did they get them into the backyard?”

All these questions are still running through my mind tonight. I have only spoken with two of my neighbors so far, but neither of them had even known that my garage door had been open. Nor had they seen some kind stranger herd Daisy and Jasper into the backyard. No one seemed to know anything. I still have one more neighbor to ask, but tonight I just can’t help but feel really, really lucky and extremely grateful. SO much could have gone wrong. I could have lost them forever and never known what had happened to them.

Oh. Did I mention? Neither Daisy nor Jasper had their collars on today when I left for work. Lucky? Yes. Indeed, I am.

Bringing home your newly adopted or rescued dog.

March 5, 2011 11 comments

My brother and sister-in-law just adopted a dog from a rescue. Dozer is adorable and a bit shy, so I wanted to send them something to help them along in the first few days of their new life with Dozer.

What I discovered is that there are a lot of great posts on the internet about the things you need to buy to get ready for bringing home a new pet, but for some reason most of them focus on the “things” you need (i.e., food, food bowls, crates, etc.) and not on the most important part – what TO DO and what NOT TO DO when you bring home a newly adopted or rescued dog.

I finally found one that had some of the advice I was looking for here.

Among the things it lists are:

1. Limit the space your new pet has access to (in your home).

2. Limit the amount of people visiting the animal or your home.

3. Always supervise your pets to make sure they are getting along.

4. Do exercise activities daily!

I wanted to add onto this list with a few extra thoughts:

5. If you can, wait until the weekend to bring your new dog home – It can be a bit overwhelming for a dog to come into a new environment. It makes it a little easier to adjust when they have someone there who can show them the house, get them into a routine and help them to bond.

6. NO DOG PARKS or VISITS TO THE PET STORE – I cannot tell you how many times I have a seen a dog (that was adopted from our shelter) at the dog park or a pet store only a few hours after being adopted. It is extremely overwhelming for a dog to be placed into a new home with people they don’t know (and no, hanging out with them for a few hours at the shlter does not mean they know you). Taking them to a dog park or the pet store is like throwing them into the deep end of a pool if they don’t know how to swim. Buy your pet supplies ahead of time and stay closer to home when you get your new dog. Trust me. It will pay off in the long run.

7. Never leave your new dog along with kids– This is especially true for families who have no children, but maybe have nieces or nephews who stop over. Kids are generally overwhelming to dogs anyways. They’re erratic. They run, they stumble, they change directions suddenly, they can be loud, and they can be scary to new dogs, especially if they haven’t had previous exposure to kids. Keeping the environment low-key is so important in the first few days. Wait to introduce kids to your new dog (unless they are your own). When you do introduce them, make sure they (kids) know not to run at or away from the dog, not stare the dog in the eyes, and if they do give the dog a treat, it should be on an open palm. Also, consider doing it in the yard or neutral location.

I welcome other recommendations from my trainer, rescue and shelter friends, but these are just a few of the important ones I wanted to share.

%d bloggers like this: