Wednesday, September 24, 2008
So how do I manage three pit bulls at once? Supervision, separation and training, that's how!
Basic obedience training is a must for all dogs, and we practice our obedience training on a daily basis. This doesn't mean I set aside an hour of practice for each dog every day, I certainly don't have an extra three hours a day to spend drilling obedience exercises. What it does mean is that I make the most of the many training opportunities we have throughout the day. When my dogs get fed, when I give them treats, let them outside, take them for a walk or ride in the car, play games with them, all these are opportunities to ask for a sit or a down or some other command they know.
Supervision! My dogs are supervised 100% of the time they are together. When they are playing together, I watch them. When they eat their meals, I'm standing amongst them, when they are chewing on bones or playing with toys, I'm watching them. Supervision is not just being in the same room, supervision is actively watching their interactions, reading their body language and tone of voice, observing the reactions of the each dog to the actions of the other dogs. If someone gets too excited during play time I can quickly call them to me and make them take a break to cool off. This prevents fights from happening before they happen! Preventing a fight between dogs of any breed is a whole lot better than trying to break one up after the fact.
Separation! I have the benefit of having a house big enough to give each boy their own bedroom. They have extra tall metal gates that are permanently and securely attached to the door frames of their rooms. Whenever I am unable to supervise my dogs, whether I am leaving the house or just taking a shower, the boys go into their rooms with their gates closed and Sydney gets the rest of the house to herself. This has multiple benefits. Not only are my dogs not going to get into a fight with each other, they cannot harass the cat, they can't get into the trash and they can't destroy things out of boredom. They each have plenty of chew toys to keep them occupied and can watch the squirrels out the windows without the danger of a redirected fight happening. When I lived in a much smaller house, each of the boys had their own crates that they stayed in quite willingly. This separation takes only an extra 60 seconds during my morning routine, but the peace of mind I get knowing my dogs are safe in their rooms is priceless while I'm at work.
I don't allow rude behaviors such as mounting during play time, intimidation or pushy tactics to take toys/bones away from each other. All of my rules are designed to give my dogs the most freedom I can while still preventing any altercations between them. I own a set of breaksticks and know how to use them, my dogs wear sturdy collars at all times and I know immediately where leashes are located so if there ever is a fight, I hope that I'm prepared to break it up quickly and as safely as possible for all involved. I know that the potential for dog aggression is there in my chosen breed and will do everything I can to keep them safe.
Not all dogs will get along together and I consider myself very lucky that my dogs do. The strategies I use will not work for every dog since every dog is an individual.
If there comes a day when they no longer get along, I will crate and rotate them and not rely on abusive tactics to try to force them into being something they are not.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
For those who missed the episode, I'll summarize it...
Monica and Justin have two female pit bulls, Trinity and Sandi, both 2-2.5 yrs of age. The girls used to get along, until one day, they did not. After a number of blood-drawing fights, the owners separate the dogs full-time. They buy a new home that enables them to separate the dogs more easily. The dogs sleep in separate crates and have separate yards. The routine they establish is working and there isn't a fight for months.
They contact Cesar because they want the dogs to get along and play together like they used to. Cesar meets the dogs and determines Trinity is the one in need of reform which can only be accomplished at the center. After 2 months at the compound, Cesar is ready to reintroduce Monica and Justin to a reformed Trinity. They meet in the hills at the site of Cesar's future dog psychology center. Cesar has a pack of his dogs running loose along with Trinity when Monica and Justin arrive. As soon as they exit their car and Trinity realizes her people are there, she grabs onto another pit bull. This starts a chain reaction among the other pit bulls in the pack and several other fights ensue. Cesar and crew manage to get everyone separated.
The incident prompts Cesar to offer Monica and Justin a trade -- he suggests they leave Trinity with him for life and take one of the other dogs in his pack. While Cesar, Monica and Justin are discussing the offer in a cramped trailer, Trinity latches onto Daddy. Cesar manages to separate the dogs and expresses his concern about Monica and Justin's ability to own a dog like her. Monica and Justin decide to think about Cesar's offer. They do some fitness and stop smoking in an effort to be stronger pack leaders. Final footage shows Trinity and Sandi hiking off-leash and drinking out of the same hose together.
There are several scenes of dogs fighting in this episode that are replayed, ad nauseum, with warnings attached. Do we need this visual repeated over and over to know how awful it is? And, where were the breaksticks? The quickest way to end a pit bull fight with the least amount of damage to the dogs is to use breaksticks.
Cesar attributes the fights to Monica and Justin's 'energy.' Then he suggests they aren't fit to own such a powerful dog and, with no apparent concern for their feelings or attachment to their pet, offers to trade them one of his for one of theirs. People appeal to him for help in the first place because they want to keep their pets, not trade them in.
Cesar infers that all dogs can live peacefully in packs with a human pack leader in charge. He suggests that dogs will follow their natural canine instincts to be part of a pack over their breed hard-wiring. This may work at the dog-psychology center when Cesar's there to administer corrections with military precision, but what about when he's out of the office?
Suggesting that two dogs who've previously fought can snuggle and play together is not possible without constant, expert supervision and, even then, it may not be possible. And, to think Trinity's dog-aggression was 'erased' by hanging out in Cesar's garage with a non-threatening puppy and several tiny, terrified dogs is ludicrous. Hard-wiring can not be loved, trained or socialized out of a dog. Just as the instinct to herd is strong in Collies and the drive to fetch is high in Retrievers, the instinct to scrap with other dogs is ever-present in terriers. To ignore or downplay this fact does a disservice to the dogs and sets them up to fail.
Cesar does promote daily exercise as well as setting rules, boundaries and limitations. And, while Cesar doesn't claim to be a dog-trainer, much of what he does relies on the dogs' responding to basic obedience commands, so he is indirectly promoting good obedience. And, he's begun promoting spay/neuter! These practices are truly the core of developing a healthy bond between dog and owner.
In the end, Justin and Monica remain committed to their dog and refuse Cesar's offer to trade in Trinity for a less-powerful model. This couple is a great example of what responsible dog-ownership is all about. I hope they realize they were fine before they met Cesar and will continue to be capable owners and leaders for Trinity and Sandi.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
September 15, 2008
Even though they've been out there for awhile, I've largely let dogsbite.org do their own thing. However, at this point, their rallying of misinformation and misleading information is becoming even more biased, misleading, and dangerous, so I want to respond.
Yesterday, Dogsbite.org created a post entitled 'pit bull bans work". They cited four different cities where BSL "worked". The post below that also mentions a fifth city. And I want to respond.
First of all, I want to define what I would call a law that "works". "Working" is improving public safety. "Working" acknowledges that in almost no cities do one breed of dog account for even a majority of the attacks in a city. There are many different types of dogs that can, do and have "attacked". So "working" improves public safety by lowering the total number of dog bites in a community.
Dogsbite.org only wants to track 'pit bull' bites in determining success. But let's face it, if you eliminate the majority of one type of dog from a community, you can eliminate the majority of bites by that type of dog. Duh. However, bites have never been about the breed of dog involved. It's always been about the owners of the dogs and their perpetually negligent treatment of the animal. Take away one type of dog, and they will be negligent with the next. Until you deal with THE OWNER problem, you will never solve the dog bite/attack problem. So of course in these cities that passed BSL, "pit bull" bites went down. However, let's look at whether or not public safety was really improved. (Click here to continue...)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Please visit our sponsor page to support our generous donors.PoppyMart would not be possible without the many retail vendors,volunteers, and friends who donated to PBRC's auction.
Starting at 12:00am PST, on September 11th, 2008, Pit Bull Rescue Central, Inc. (PBRC), a 501(c)3 organization, will be holding itsfifth annual on-line auction. We are once again using eBay as ourvenue. All proceeds from Poppy Mart will go directly to PBRC's Fund -which finances Pit Bull Spay/Neuter; assists with medical proceduresbeyond the financial reach of rescuers, caretakers, owners andshelters; and supports the website that enables us to list dogs foradoption andprovide educational resources. PBRC is staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers.
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Please note that the auction ends at 12am, September 18 – Pacific Standard Time.
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008
As a volunteer, the process started months ago. I love soliciting for items, because before I know it the packages start rolling in. The UPS and Fed-X people must wonder what’s going on as I open the door all smiles and accept box after box. I bring them in and open them with the excitement of a young child at Christmas, oohing and aahing over collars and dog beds, trying to find places to hide toys from my own dogs, and having my husband hold up the artwork so I can see what it looks like from a distance. We have some really great stuff this year! It’s difficult to say which items are my favorites, since there are so many different types of things, but there are a few that come to mind.
First, we are fortunate to have some amazing artists donate their work this year. One of them is Nancy Schutt, who is local to me (Seattle), but whose work can be found in collections across the U.S. and internationally. She has donated a beautiful framed giclee on canvas of a gorgeous pit bull whose eyes will pierce your soul. Another is Christine Head, who found a way to combine her incredible artistic talent with her rescue endeavors. She has a brand new Vintage Style Poster coming out, and she was kind enough to donate the artist’s proof to our auction. It’s called Mopito, with a beautiful black and white pit bull and a subtle message about BSL.
Next, anyone who knows me and my dogs knows I have a little bit of a collar fetish. So of course I eagerly look forward to seeing our collar selection. We were lucky enough to get a few gift certificates from Paco Collars http://pacocollars.com/ so you can pick out exactly what you like. If you haven’t checked this company out yet, their collars and leashes are incredibly high quality as well as being gorgeous. You will see lots of pit bulls modeling them too since the entire company is named after the owner’s gorgeous pit bull named Paco. Other collar donations include many quick release type clip collars. Comfortable and washable, these collars are great for everyday wear. There is one with ballerinas on it that really caught my eye. Ballerinas are graceful, agile, and strong, which definitely describes a lot of pit bulls.
I am also admittedly a book-a-holic, and there are two books that would be great additions to your bookshelves this year. The first is a signed first edition of “Dog Years” by award winning poet and memoirist Mark Doty. It looks like it might be a tearjerker (not sure), but I have a feeling it will be one you won’t be able to put down. The other is more of a coffee table book, a signed copy of “Street Dogs” by Traer Scott, who is the same photographer that did “Shelter Dogs” (which will also be available in the auction), which I own and also really love.
The last item that really piqued my interest has nothing to do with dogs or animals whatsoever. Strangely enough, it’s a pair of pajamas that caught my attention. I am the volunteer that will be shipping this item out once the auction comes to a close so I got to see them in person. All I can say is that they are “oh so cute”!
I hope that you all take part in the auction as there really is something for everyone, and at every price level, all for a fantastic cause! There are dog treats, beds, jewelry, toys, clothing, music, DVD’s; the list goes on and on. It would be impossible to talk about all of my favorites. Good luck and Happy Bidding! ~ Arlene
Register for the auction here.
Poppy Mart 2008