Talking dogs: Cheers and jeers as we start the year

Jan. 09, 2017

Cheers, kudos and kisses to everybody who adopted a dog from a shelter last year. These dogs nearly always come with a little baggage ó behavior or training issues to address ó but with a little compassion and some time spent working out their troubles, the end result is a life saved and a great four-legged companion.

Boos to those wrong-dog-for-the-owner combinations. Time and again we see people matched with the wrong dog for their situation or lifestyle. Dog and owner are caught in a failure chain, as neither can meet the needs of the other. The senior citizen with a large, very active puppy, the marathon runner with a bulldog, the knitting nester with a German shepherd. Training will not supersede the essence of the dogís character or activity level. The solution for this is simple: Think about what energy level you can handle for the next 10 years, and then choose a puppy or adult dog accordingly. Donít expect to bend the will and nature of the dogís spirit ó you wonít succeed.

Cheers to, a nonprofit in San Francisco dedicated to improving the lives of senior dogs. Muttville rescues senior dogs and finds them new homes, and provides information about caring for older dogs and support for people who do. A person of any age can adopt a senior Muttville dog, and senior dogs matched with senior people are some of the best dog-human matches around.

Boos to irresponsible dog owners who do not properly contain their pets. Loose dogs are at great risk of personal injury, as well as a possible menace to other dogs, people and livestock. Contain your dogs!

Boos to dog walkers who still donít get that itís their responsibility to pick up after their pet. Honestly, people, take along a plastic bag! When your dog leaves his calling card, put the bag over your hand like a mitten, pick up the poop, turn the bag inside out, tie it in a knot and dispose of it in the nearest garbage can.

Cheers to the many people Iíve encountered this year who have had the courage to question the "dog training professionals" who incorporate electric collars in their training. Common sense tells us that giving a dog an electric shocks (yes, I know that the latest term for this correction is "buzzing" ó puh-lease!) our dogs can and does create serious negative fallout, far surpassing any desirable results.

Anyone whoís been awake over the last 10 years has known that nonviolent, compassionate dog training not only exists, but incorporates scientifically proven methods that have been discovered and tested by those with advanced degrees in canine behavior, including applied animal behaviorists and veterinarians. If youíve been told that you need to hit, jerk, kick or shock your dog as part of its training, listen to your little voice and run the other way.

Cheers to our ever-loyal furry companions. The warmth of a kitty on your lap and the sheer joy your dog shows when you walk through the door are enough to brighten any dreary winter day.

Happy New Year to you and your pets.




McClatchy-Tribune Information Services