Let’s make an effort to do better by our dogs and neighbors
1. Learn dog body language
Many people have no idea what their dogs are saying, it’s pretty evident if you just look. Many bites, bolts and fights can be prevented if you know what to look for and understand how to react. There is a ton of info out there, take the time to look it up or take a class. You’ll be doing everyone a favor especially your dogs.
2. Rescues should be regulated and accountable
I know most hearts are in the right place but collecting dogs and adopting them out in the spirit of rescue is a lot more complicated than signing papers. Too many dogs find their way into these rescues and not enough info is available. Some of these places may not know enough about the dogs and how to prepare and pair the new families. Not all dogs can be re homed and not all dog lovers are savvy enough to handle certain dogs. That was the case in April 2016 when a newly adopted dog barged into a neighboring condo unit and killed another dog. It was horrifying and could have been prevented if there were better regulations and education in place.
Here’s a FB post from a trainer in BC
It’s also crucial that rescues and adoption agencies prepare the new pet parents for the unexpected and advise on proper equipment and integration. See #4
3. Go fund me, go fund yourself
Yes stuff happens and if you need to raise money to care for your pet then reach out to your friends and family, not every animal page out there. There are more and more of these popping up asking strangers for help, we all have our stuff to deal with. You got this animal it’s your responsibility to take care of it, that includes the financial obligations. Sign up for pet insurance there’s lots out there, or be diligent about stockpiling an emergency savings account.
I recently saw a post on a large pet page, the person had set up a GoFundMe to raise money to fix her dog’s back injury, a result of her boyfriend sitting on it. I’ll just leave it at that.
4. Less lost pets
First off keep your dogs on leash. “Oh, my dog is great off leash, he stays right beside me the whole time.” Well, it never happens ’till it happens does it? It only takes a second for a distraction or sudden reaction from a noise to change things forever. If you’re lucky your pet will be fine, if not it could run into traffic or just keep running…
Back to the body language, watch how your dog is reacting, are they apprehensive? Reassure them. If necessary change course.
New or nervous dog? Use proper equipment, a good fitting collar preferably a martingale that will tighten if the dog pulls and a good harness, yes both together, better safe than sorry. Local trainer Maggi Burtt of Tailspin Petworx was inspired by the amount of dogs going missing. She offers a course geared to new rescues, available for individuals (one on one) as well as organizations in a seminar/workshop form. If you have a rescue dog or organization I highly recommend you contact her.
(Burtt also offers several training options, from choosing a dog, puppy prep and all the stuff going forward.)
Get tags and a microchip for your dog , these will help others find you.
* Note, I’ve seen around 8 dogs posted as missing or found over the holidays.
5. Better dog park etiquette
Be your dog’s advocate and barometer, if it’s uncomfortable step in, if it’s harassing another dog step in, this is your responsibility so pay attention and step up. Don’t let your dog rush the gate as other dogs are coming in, it’s just not a good mix, especially if the other dogs are on leash.
If your dog digs a hole fill it in. You’ll never get the sound of a dog breaking it’s leg out of your head, ever.
Your dog is probably gonna poop, watch for it, pick it up and dispose of it, that means don’t leave it on the ground for later, stash it behind a rock or hang it on a tree. Chances are you’re gonna forget or not want to walk all the way back over there, lots of dogs like to eat poop so if that reason works for you then please, no bagged lunches.
Don’t throw lit cigarette butts on the ground, duh.
6. Less ‘effin salt!
Look, I don’t want Nana to wipe out, nor do I want to take a header myself but this city is ridiculous with it’s salt distribution. A little goes a long way. If you’ve tried to walk your dog across salt you know how painful it is especially if they walk in snow or wet before the salt, you may as well stick a lit ember on their pad. Use booties, balloons or protective paw balm if you have to but also try to educate your neighbors and contact the City at 311 if you see excess salt.
Lots of info here.
7. Less knee jerk reactions
A picture of a guy with several dogs standing on a street corner with a description of how he kicked a dog does not tell a legitimate story. It may have happened, it may not, but the current of social media will run with that and it won’t be pretty. As a community dog walkers are aware of the “hacks” out there and do their best to police each other but ultimately it comes down to the tried and true adage of buyer beware. If you’re looking for a pet care professional do your homework, ask questions, find the right fit and watch your dog’s reaction to the person, above all follow your gut.
If you see dogs in a car, look for branding on the vehicle. Is it a dog walker? Are the windows or sunroof open? Is the car running with the appropriate seasonal temperature? Are the dogs in distress? Think, then react or just go about your day. Common sense.
8. More City dog services
Would you like a dog park in your neighborhood? Scope out the space, look at the pros and cons, form a local dog association and present your case to the City.
Licence your pets, it’s cheap and believe it or not the more accurate numbers the City has the more power you get, they just might give you the services you ask for. At the very least the licence will help them find you if your pet goes missing. Win/Win.
9. Better nutrition
I know it’s super easy to dump kibble in a bowl but think about what you are feeding your dogs. I won’t go into the cancer, China produced products and icky stats but “you are what you eat.” If you are a kibble fan there are better brand choices, read the ingredients and make decisions based on your pet’s needs, age and health status. If you want to change all together there are options out there, from raw to home cooked. Many pet stores are bringing these choices to the forefront. Do your research, talk to the shop owners and pick the right fit for you and your pooch.
10. Consideration and respect
Just like kids not everyone thinks your dog is the cat’s ass. Be respectful of your neighbors and fellow urban dwellers. Pick up your poop and don’t let your dog pee on that tiny bit of grass Mr. Smith is desperately trying to maintain. Keep your dogs on leash and follow the rules. If you live in a condo be aware of others and other dogs, yield to those that seem uncomfortable. Don’t let your dog run loose through the building and keep it out of the landscaping, unless there’s a designated dog space move along. Getting upset because “that guy” yelled at you to call your dog makes you “that guy”, not him.
Consider others and we’ll all get along just fine.
Happy New Year!