Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Why Adopt A Senior Dog?

Thinking of adopting a dog from your local shelter? Most people tend to choose younger dogs over older dogs, but this can lead to many older dogs never get rehomed. Here are a few reasons to consider an older dog to adopt.

No training required

An advantage of adopting an older dog is that they’re generally already well trained. Most senior dogs are toilet trained, so you won’t have to go through the painstaking process of teaching your dog not to do its business indoors. A lot of senior dogs will also know basic commands such as sit, stay and come, so you don’t have to go through this teaching process either. As a result, senior songs can save you a lot of time and patience if you don’t want to go through the whole rigmarole of training.

There’s a false belief that older dogs in shelters are only there because they’re ‘problem animals’, but this is completely untrue. Whilst there will be some dogs that were given up for adoption for being a little too wild, you’ll generally be able to gage which ones these are from the descriptions. The majority of older dogs in shelters are likely to be there because an owner passed away or simply neglected them – it’s rarely to do with the dog’s behaviour. Besides, dog shelter staff will generally invest some time into training for those that were untrained, so it’s rare you’ll ever find a completely unruly dog.

Calmer temperament

Senior dogs also tend to have a calmer temperament. They’ve passed the naughty stage of puppyhood, which means you generally don’t have to deal with destructive behaviour and excessive yapping. Senior dogs tend to also have less energy – this means that you don’t have to deal with jumping and may not have to go on such extensive walks.

Many senior dogs are great around children because of their calmer temperament. They can also be great if you’re an older owner yourself who may not have the energy to deal with a more excitable young dog. Obviously temperament also has a lot to do with breed as well as the conditions they may have.

They’re not necessarily more expensive

There’s a belief that older dogs are more expensive for owners as the wear and tear of old age can often mean more health problems and hence more trips to the vets. Whilst it’s true that older dogs can be more at risk of health issues, this doesn’t always mean you’ll visit the vet more – after all, owners of young dogs often end up having to spend money on vaccinations and neutering, which an older dog is likely to have already received. Besides, if you get a young dog, they’ll eventually be an older dog and you’ll still have to deal with this greater risk of health problems one day.

Pet insurance is harder to find for older dogs, but it does exist. Whilst some insurers are unwilling to take on older dogs due to pre-existing problems, there are other special insurers out there that offer pet insurance for pre existing conditions. Whilst your rates may be higher than a younger dog, you’ll still be able to cover yourself for an out of pocket treatment costs.

It’s worth noting that older dogs also tend to cost less when it comes to food and toys. Whilst younger dogs tend to have a more voracious appetite and an ability to chew their way through toys fast, older dogs tend to have slower metabolism and a less destructive urge.   

Greater choice

The fact that there’s less demand for older dogs means that there’s often more choice for owners. When choosing a younger dog, you may restricted to only a handful of options at your local shelter. With so many senior dogs to choose from, there’s more variety when it comes to breeds and you can find a dog more suited to your personal preferences, whether you’re looking for a large breed or a small breed. If you had your heart set on a certain type of dog, you may have more luck of finding it by also extending your search to older dogs.

Too many older dogs die in shelters

Whilst younger dogs are likely to get snapped up by other owners, many older dogs never get chosen and can end up living out their last years in a shelter. Whilst shelters do the best they can to give dogs a good quality of life, nothing can replace the quality of life they’d get with an owner. By adopting a senior dog, you could help to give it a much more comfortable last few years on this earth by giving it that sense of belonging that every dog needs.

In some cases, you could even extend a dog’s life by adopting it. Many dog shelters are on a tight budget and are overcrowded – once older dogs start to develop health problems, many shelters have to put these animals down in order to prioritize space and funds for healthier animals. Such dogs may have gone on to live for many more years had they got the treatment they needed. In other words, you could be saving an animal’s life by adopting a senior dog!

You may not get as many years with an older dog – which is what puts off many owners – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be rewarding. Many senior dogs can live on for years and years in a happy home.

Monday, November 26, 2018

What If Another Dog Attacks Your Pooch?

You’re out walking in the park, the sun is out, the grass is green as can be and suddenly you hear a fracas between two dogs. You find out that it's your dog and another dog engaged in a fight but it's clear that your dog is losing. The other dog is biting at the legs and head of your dog and your dog is trying to get away. You try to break them up but the other dog ends up biting you on the arm, causing a wound that is bleeding. The other owner comes rushing over and separates the dogs. 

Who is to blame here? Many would say the owner of the other dog.

However what if the other owner says that it was your dog that came up to their dog and that’s how the fight began?

Now the lines a blurred and you don’t know whether to press charges or not because even though you are injured it seems like your dog was the aggressor. It's a horrible place to be in because you’re in great pain and now you will need to pay for costly medical bills. You’re scared that if you do try to get compensation, it might be your dog that gets put to sleep.

So what do you do?

Witnesses or footage

If you’re ever in this scenario you have to figure out if there are any witnesses that can help you. It might be the fact that the people who are coming to your aid to stop the bleeding or call an ambulance saw the whole thing. 

Speak to them and see if you can get the full story from them. You never know the other dog owner might be lying and blaming your dog for the fight. The other dog might have a reputation of fighting other dogs too and the owner might have a record of being negligent. 

If you don’t have witnesses you can always ask the local authorities to give your footage from the CCTV in the park.

The damages left with you

A dog bite is a very painful injury to have. The force of the bite could easily puncture your skin and severe veins which can cause a lot of bleeding. Not only that, your bones can be crushed under the pressure that a dog can deliver. So the healing is going to be a long process and you could unfortunately have permanent damage.

Contact a dog bite attorney that can build a case for you and fight in the courts on your behalf to give you the compensation you deserve. They will also inform you of who is to blame in the case that the other owner was telling the truth and it was your dog that approached the other dog first.

Dogs that are trained and cared for will trust humans and thus never try to attack you.

Dogs that are aggressive shouldn’t be let off the leash in public, regardless of whether or not they are approached by other dogs.

Can witnesses to give you support and form a case with footage of the incident.? Be sure to ask the attorney this and follow their advice.

Good Luck!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

2: Planning Dog Tracking and Training Courses

Part 2
Planning Training Courses
2 of 2 parts
(Go to part 1)

Assessing the Scene

Before you set up a training course, first check the location and make a note of each person or thing (cars running, spilled chemical, garbage) that might contaminated the area.

In an actual response this is called doing an assessment of the scene and should be done visually as you approach the location. Findings should be noted on paper for later planning.

Doing a visual assessment helps you to know your dangers before placing your dog and self in a bad situation. Make a mental note of any dangers you might encounter such as a busy roadway or a train track your dog might lead you across.

After checking the area to determine it is safe and noting the containments then check the wind direction and weather conditions (more on these factors in another lesson). In training novice dogs always start the dog into the wind so the scent is blowing towards the dog to give the dog the best chance in picking up the scent.


Pay attention to the location and use what may be available for hiding spots and turns, such as buildings, picnic tables in a park or a large tree across the cleared field.

Mapping the Training Course

Group these three factors together on paper when you are planning a training course. Make a hand drawn map of the location and mark on the map the wind direction, buildings or landmarks, size of the search area and time of day you plan to train. Make a note of weather conditions.

If you are training indoors you will modify these factors into the scene, for instance is there a fan or air conditioning system running? What chemical cleaners or odors do you smell or see in the area? What obstacles might be encountered or be in the way, closed doors, furniture or escape routes such as a window?

Make a note of the subject you will be looking for, the person who will help you by hiding from your dog. Their weight, height, age, clothing and any health issues that might come into play during the course.

Once your map is drawn of the location with the contributing factors that will affect the search you are ready to draw the trail you will work.

I’ll tell you how I draw up my training courses so you have a better idea. I use a small dash line to mark where the person who we will be looking for will walk as they hide to draw the route I plan for them to take. I use X to mark the beginning and the end of the route. I draw the turns I plan to work the dog on with the training objectives in mind.

Novice dog’s might only be working on one turn into the wind while an experienced dog can have 3 or 4 turns in different wind directions in the route. Make sure to have the turns flagged with a tissue paper piece. Tissue paper biodegrades so no worries about having to retrieve the flag after the training.

I then decide where the trail layer or person will put the training flags or tissue paper along the route which will help me know my dog is working well. I use tissue or flags even on advanced dogs for my own benefit because these markers build my confidence in reading my dog. I put a small dot on my map for flags.

A map would look something like this.                                                    <<wind
                                                     . _ _ _ _ _ _ _.bench 
   X _ _ ._. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. /

These flags are important because I learn how my dog reacts when they reach a turn or building, and as the wind changes I can see how my dog changes the way they work. Does the dog slow down or speed up? Do they circle and smell the spot more? Is the tail high and nose low? Are they stopped and looking at me for direction? (The last question is not a good sign, we missed something and have to go back and look again. :) 

Once I have the training course planned on paper I am ready to have the person help me make the course. I show my helper, the trail layer, the map and we use the map when we are making the trail or course. As they hide, they walk off from the starting point following the map while you wait knowing from the map where they are going. You dog will not see the map because they are usually asleep in the car.

What time I wake my dog up to work the course will depend on the level of training my dog is at and how old the trail has aged. Levels are discussed in the next lesson Standards for Search Dogs.

Aging the Trail

Aging the route is the next important step in training a family disaster dog in order for the dog to find people who have been lost for longer then a few hours. This lesson will be posted next.

Go to part 1 of Planning Dog Tracking Course

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