Summer poses a lot of potential concerns for dog owners. I asked canine authority Jeff Franklin common questions dog owners will have this season– such as how to train a new puppy, keep a dog cool in the heat, what to do during Fireworks, and what happens if your dog gets into fight at the dog park (and should you even take your dog there in the first place?)
Franklin is owner of Cobra Canine and has worked with over 10,000 pet dogs and families. He gives dogs and their owners a new leash on life and turns pets with behavioral issues into family assets. He is also the pioneer behind Elite Working dogs trained for the United States Military.
Full disclosure: Jeff is my client and since I am a fellow dog lover, I wanted to share this topic I am pitching the media with my own audience!
Question: How can I cool down my dog from the summer heat?
Jeff Franklin: The first thing we need to understand is that we may like to get out a do fun things in the summer sun and heat but rarely is this the case for dogs. By nature, dogs prefer not to be in the sun and heat for any extended periods of time (most are wearing a fur coat). If you do take your dog out, find areas of shade, use an umbrella or awning, spray them with a water hose, let them swim in the pond and or use kiddy pools to let them play in. Most importantly, always provide water (clean drinking) and keep the exposure time to the sun and heat short.
Q: What can we do to keeps our dogs safe and feeling secure during 4th of July Fireworks?
Franklin: When it comes to fireworks and dogs, one of the first things I think about is the need to know of how our dogs will react. Of course, if you have never witnessed your dog around fireworks taking them to a 4th of July party with fireworks is not the best way to test this out. I certainly would not have a new dog or puppy at an event with fireworks without some knowledge of how it will affect them. If you have not exposed your dog to fireworks then a good way to do this is setting it up for success by having someone with some type of loud noise makers at a good distance away while you dog is being entertained or playing to get a feel for their initial reactions. Typically, a dog that is reactive (fearful or aggressive) of fireworks is also fearful or aggressive of other noises like thunder and or vehicles braking or backfiring so this may give us some insight to how they will be around fireworks.
Unfortunately, I have witnessed dogs doing everything from trying to run for their life while fireworks are going off to chasing them, even biting at them causing injuries.
In some cases, I understand dogs live in areas that even being in their home it is not possible to keep the noise of fireworks away, especially on a holiday like 4th of July. When this is the case (regardless if the dogs are reactive in any manor or even neutral) I recommend keeping dogs in a safe confinement (crate or area they cannot escape, hurt themselves, destroy things, etc.) preferably something they are already a custom to. In extreme cases some dogs may need to be confined and given a sedative (speak to your Veterinarian about this). Often I see folks trying to comfort a dog that is either in fear or aggressive mode– and for the dog it is not telling them what we humans think it is, “oh, its ok.” To the dogs they are likely taking this as “yeah, I am glad you agree these loud noises are scary.”
My personal preference, although my dogs are fairly neutral to noises, is to just keep them away from fireworks and the shenanigans that go along with them. I do not believe that there is a benefit for the dogs to be around these events and more likely that something will be negative. Not to mention this cannot be good on the hearing either.There are much better events I can socialize and exercise my dogs at.
Q: Are dog parks a good place to socialize?
Franklin: Dog parks are not an ideal place to socialize our dogs. The benefits don’t outweigh the negatives. We have no way to control other people’s dogs, fights and or inappropriate behaviors that can have negative long-lasting effects happen fast. We don’t know that all the other dogs are up to date with vaccines, either. Instead, choose to socialize your dog with other dogs that you know and when you can control the scenario in case there is an issue.
Also consider this- you didn’t get your dog to be buddies with other dogs. Sure, you want her to behave around other dogs but she should focus on you.
Q: What should I do if my dog gets into a fight (at the dog park)?
Franklin: Dog fights can be tough to deal with if it is truly a full-on fight. Luckily, the majority of dog altercations start off slowly and in this case we as owners need to step in quickly to separate the dogs. Even if they do not have a leash or collar on, I physically grab them. I have also done things like pick up the smaller dog, or the least aggressive one, threaten the aggressor (most of the time there is one that starts the fight). Dog off leash (like in a dog park) fighting can sometimes be hard to get our hands on because they will be moving around quit quickly at times. When we find a dog on its back getting beat up by the dog on top, we need to get (does not matter whose dog it is or who started the fight) this stopped fast as this is when a lot of damage can happen in a very short time. Getting the dog on top off will most of the time allow the bottom dog to “escape.” This is not always the case as sometimes the bottom dog will want some pay back. The best we can separate and keep the dogs separated. Another example I use often, one that has happened to me many times, is I have been on walks, runs, and hikes with my dog on leash and or in control when she has been pursued, attacked, and or threatened by an off leash out of control dog. Often times there is a human nearby screaming like a maniac (not helping anything). In these cases (to date thankfully) my dog has not been physically grabbed because I always put myself in between her and the other dog(s). Sometimes the strange dog is just curious or playful and sometimes aggressive. Either way, I stay in between them just in case. I have at times picked her up as well to keep the separation….and yes, I have been bit using this method so be careful, but for me I would rather take the chance or the bite than let my dog get bit.
Q: How can I train my dog to walk properly on the leash on walks or hikes? Is it ever OK to let my dog off leash?
Franklin: We teach loose lead control from the beginning with all of the dogs we work with. There are many ways to do this to include training collars and or treats. The one thing for sure is that this rule must be consistent and black and white. Dogs do horrible if today we say you have to have a loose lead and tomorrow we let them pull for ‘any’ reason. I have dogs off leash all the time. Of course, they are well-trained with or without distractions present (other dogs, animals, people, etc). Giving my dogs the freedom to run, play and stretch their legs is essential part to their day. When it is possible to do this off leash stuff in an enclosed area is often best depending on the level of training the dog has.
Q: What should I do if my dog gets a tick? How do you properly check for ticks?
Franklin: There are tools designed to remove ticks and if I have one with me I use it. If not, I pull the tick off anyhow. It is important to make sure the head of the tick is removed and keep an eye on the location for several days to ensure there is no swelling and or infections. If I do see anything that looks out of the ordinary I take the dog to the veterinarian ASAP. After time outside with our dogs, we do a tail to nose check. We are not just looking for tick but anything else that maybe wrong like a splinter or cut. I teach “from tail to nose” because I want to check against the grain of the hair to try not to miss anything. Different hair lengths and types can make this easier or harder.
Q: Summer is a great time to get a new puppy. What are the best breeds for families?
Franklin: Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Beagle, Whippet, Collie, Poodle, Vizsla, German Shorthaired Pointer are some of my favorites but don’t rule out the mutts as there are many great ones that need homes.
Q: How do you house train a puppy?
Franklin: House training is much more than just teaching a puppy where to relieve themselves. Puppies have to be taught everything about our human world. So many people don’t think about the fact the puppies are just that a puppy (or dog) and have no clue about our homes or human ways unless we teach them. Unfortunately, people often assume the puppies will teach themselves or automatically know how to live in the house while they are away and that is just silly. We need to teach them manners, commands, tricks, appropriate play for indoors and much more. Some keys are supervision (watch like a hawk), safe confinement – even if you’re not able to be aware of what the puppy is doing for 30 seconds (that’s a long time for a puppy), be consistent and black and white, positive re-enforcement and none of this “rubbing their nose in it” business when the puppy make a “mistake.”
Q: What are must-have essentials when getting a new dog?
Franklin: High quality food such as Royal Canine or Eukanuba, crate, leash, collar, and appropriate toys (nothing the dog can ingest). Don’t forget the poop bags.
Q: What are common training myths?
1. All dogs are smart and that we only have bad dog due to human raising, or I should say lack of. For the most part this would be correct thinking but certainly not 100 percent. It is an interesting topic because we are really should be less concerned about how smart a dog may be as we actually care mostly about how “trainable” they are (when it comes to picking the right dogs) and the two are very different.
2. Your dog will not respect you if they sleep in bed with you. Big myth….Dogs don’t respect humans if they are not trained properly, period. Where you have them lay their head is just that.
3.We have all been told you ” Can’t teach old dogs new tricks,” This is certainly false. Teaching things correctly from the beginning is not most often easier. ]
4. He/She will grow out of it…Nope most likely not if they dogs did not think they were doing the correct thing they would not be doing it therefore if we want a behavior to stop or change we are responsible to teach this.
5. I always hear that rough play and or tug of war will teach dogs to be aggressive, However I have done this my entire life with no issues. It is just what it is “play.” No different than rough housing with a kid, sometime enough is enough and be consistent….Dogs for the most part with proper instruction are quick learners.
6. You must be “ALPHA”, for your dog to behave. Sometimes I hear this so much it is exhausting! The vast majority of folks saying this don’t really even understand what “being Alpha” means. For over 25 years we have been very successful sticking with simple, clear, black and white communication and rules. We stay away from as much extra things like “Alpha” as possible. Our basic system is proven with over 1000’s of dogs ranging from pet puppies, sporting dogs, working dogs, police dogs, and some of the highest elite canines in the world.