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Avoid Chasing Your Tail
updated: Aug 04, 2012, 11:00 AM
Hey there, pet parents,
The dog days of summer seem to be in full swing. This often means fun in the sun for the whole family-
-us pooches included. Whether it's strolling around your neighborhood, having a barbecue in the park,
a game of fetch at Elings, or beaching it up at Hendry's, I thought it'd be a good time to remind
everyone about the importance of pet parent re-sponsibilities. The truth is that when you behave, we
behave. That seems like a win-win for everyone!
Here are the four tenets of my Mutt Model:
Know Your Surroundings!
Leash-law know-how: as much as I'd love to be free of "the ties that bind," and go where I
want, when I want, how I want, whenever I want, it's often best to just play by the rules. If there are
leash laws, obey ‘em. If you're not sure of the rules, at least be aware of what's around you.
I know that similar to you humans, we dogs can behave unpredictably, so make sure that on your
outings you've arranged it so your dog can make good choices, or be prevented from doing something
dangerous--like chasing after my arch nemesis, the garbage truck.
A few more words about leashes: If you're at an off-leash location, it's best to join the pawty and keep
your own dog off-leash. Leashes can inhibit communication between us dogs, sometimes resulting in
feelings of frustration, which provoke a fear response, and might spark a fight. If you're in a legal off-
leash area, and taking your dog off leash isn't an option, think about choos-ing a different place to
Fun foliage to frolic in: Be aware of poisonous plants, thorns, stickers, and the ever-popular
foxtails! A trip to the ER is never a fun way to spend a summer day. (Trust me, I speak from ex-
Know Your Animal!
How does your dog do in public settings? Is he or she a beach blanket bow-wow, or a canine Mi-chael
Phelps of the ocean? At the local outdoor café, does he or she run off at the first opportu-nity, or stay at
your feet under the table? It's your duty to pay attention to your pooch's behavior. Body language is our
first language, so learning to listen by observation is the key to being able to reward the behaviors you
want, and interrupt or redirect those that you don't want.
For those times when your dog is hangin' with other inquisitive canines, learn to recognize dog play
versus bully behavior. Is your dog being asked to play, or being picked on by a bully? Is your own dog
wanting to play, or being a bully? Allow dogs to communicate in our innate lan-guage, but put in your
two cents if you feel horseplay is going to have unfortunate consequences.
How does your dog react to people? Is your dog good with strangers, kids, and anyone else he or she
might encounter? Not all dogs are comfortable around those outside their family. Some dogs can be
fearful and growl or snap when approached by an exuberant child or unfamiliar adult. On the flip side,
there are dogs that are easily excited, and instantly ready to jump and play. That may be a problem if
they become too rambunctious around children, knocking them over or scar-ing them. Be aware of your
dog's likes and dislikes, then plan accordingly to protect everyone involved.
Updating your Facebook status with a cute picture of Fido is usually fine--and appreciated by your
followers. However, when you're out on the town with your pooch, being distracted by an-swering email
or engaging in deep conversation with friends can turn fun times into chaos in a manner of seconds. It's
important to keep in mind how your dog normally acts, and to be atten-tive to their behaviors when out
If you're distracted, your dog may wander off, find others to play with, or get into mis-chief. Make sure
you and your dog are up to speed when it comes to good manners in public. These include coming
when called, leaving things alone, walking nicely on a leash, greeting po-litely, and dropping things
Plan Today to Prepare for Tomorrow
Most inquisitive canines are devoted hunter-gatherers, and are not known for their advance plan-ning
skills. That means that when you're planning an outing, the preparation is up to you. Here are a few
things you'll want to consider before venturing out in public:
• License, ID tags, and legally required vaccinations.
• Leash, water, poop bags.
• Motivation, including toys and/or treats.
• A blanket or towel, if lounging is on the agenda. A familiar blanket lets us know where you want us
• If you're spending time near water, make sure your dog knows how to swim. Depending upon the
specific activity, sunscreen and/or a life-vest may be important to have handy.
• If your dog becomes easily overheated, consider getting a cooling vest. Again, check with your vet
for information and recommendations on what's best for your dog.
Paws and Reflect
I'm sure you'll agree that the more responsible dog parents are, the more places we four-legged friends
will be welcomed, and the more likely those dog-friendly places will remain so. Here's to having a great
Poncho Mayer is a 10-pound inquisitive canine who knows a lot about human and ca-nine behavior. He and his mom work together running the
family business providing dog training services to other inquisitive canines and their humans. For additional training and behavior tips subscribe to their
Got a question about behavior, training or daily pup life? Email Poncho directly.
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