Dog Owners, Don’t Be A Vick

Like any other normal human being I am a dog owner. Owning a dog to me is like married couples having children. My mother-in-law makes comments to people all the time about my wife and I not giving her grandchildren and how crazy that seems to her. Yes, mo-in-law, things do get back to me. She’s got a grandkid from her other daughter and all Kim and I are willing to give her are grandDOGS. That’s it, stop yer bitchin’ already! My wife and I are more than dog owners, though. We are responsible dog owners. There is a huge difference between that and a simple dog owner. That difference can help save a life, save a dog, save our universe, and make it possible to continue our way of life as we know it.

I believe there are a few very important keys to being a responsible dog owner. By understanding and following through on them you can have a wonderful, almost euphoric relationship with your dog. By not paying attention to them you will open yourself up to a constant struggle to maintain your sanity and possible legal action against you. The first misconception about dogs is that they were put on this planet to serve man. This is about as true as politicians in Washington having your best interests in mind. Dogs weren’t “put” here. Dogs are a species that have both evolved and have resulted from cross breeding of certain species, most notably the wolf and the dingo. Trust me, the wolf and dingo were not put here to serve man!

One must remember that Just as humans, and this is huge when it comes to owning dogs, dogs have ancestral traits. Many of these traits were natural behaviors and many have been bred into breeds through cross breeding to achieve certain characteristics. In the case of my wonderfully awesome Bullmastiffs, they are a cross between the bulldog (known for it’s ferocious fighting abilities) and a Mastiff (known for it’s guard dog capabilities, yet gentle natured). When you cross the two you get a very strong guard dog that won’t eat the person it’s guarding against. You’ll get a very intimidating bark from these guys and an imposingly large, aggressive-looking dog but they really wouldn’t hurt you. Even so, because of dog owners who don’t follow the keys to responsible dog ownership, most insurance companies will not write a homeowner’s policy if you own Bullmastiffs.

Here are those simple Keys to responsible dog ownership:

  • Understand Your Breed
  • Proper Training
  • Control The Situation

Understand Your Breed
I’m not someone telling you about dogs because I’ve owned one or two breeds. In my 45 years on this “planet” I have owned Bullmastiffs, a Pitbull, a Norweigan Elkhound/Malamute mix, a Rat Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, an Irish Setter and yeah, I admit it, a Shelte. My parents, brothers, relatives and friends have all owned dogs of many varieties, small and large. My wife and I are so dog crazy we regularly watch dog shows on TV and we’ve also been to several in person. I’ve always been around dogs and I wouldn’t have it any other way. With my background it is impossible to not have done hours and hours of research on specific breeds. Whether it’s just for the sake of curiosity or if I’m looking to get a new dog, researching is all part of the game for me.

Each dog on Earth was bred for a specific reason, a certain need. Whether it’s for guarding, hunting, pulling sleds or as simple house pets, every breed has a purpose. When you’re looking for a dog, do yourself – and the dog – a favor by first researching the breed you’re considering. Don’t be an idiot and get a Whippet if you live in a small one bedroom apartment in the city. That would be like hiring Jack the Ripper as the babysitter for your kids. You need to first understand what the breed was bred for and then you need to understand what kind of living space and environment it needs. Don’t get a dog originally meant as a guard dog if you live in a crowded subdivision on .2 acres of land. That dog will piss your neighbors off by barking at everything that moves night and day. Sure, a Whippet is a small dog and might seem like it doesn’t need much room, but that thing needs wide open spaces so it can get up to 45 miles per hour to achieve full breed happiness. If you don’t have a fenced yard, don’t get a breed like the Coon Hound because once you let it out the door you’ll never see it again as it goes off in search of raccoons to corner.

Proper Training
Properly training a dog is much more than training them how to sit, stay, and speak. If that were all there was to it, pretty much everyone would be a great dog owner. The first thing you should do when you get a new dog, puppy or otherwise, is schedule you and your new pal into training courses. For puppies you should begin with obedience training. Older dogs may not require obedience training but they may be in need of other forms of training such as socialization or other specific forms based on the dog’s history. For this discussion, however, let’s focus on puppies since they are new and have the biggest need for this bullet point.

Quite possibly the biggest benefit of puppy obedience training is the socialization that occurs between your dog and other dogs in the class and your dog with other people in the class. To fully understand the benefits of socialization it might be best to think of your life with your dog withoutsocialization. Without it you won’t be able to take your dog on walks or to the local dog park because your dog will not get along with other dogs it meets. You won’t be able to have friends and family over to your house because you’ll spend all of your time being quite embarrassed because of your dog’s behavior. Your guests will most likely be very annoyed as well. This is kind of like children who never learn their social skills and are shipped off to school. They get sent home the first day for fighting with every other student in the class. They pulled a knife on the teacher and threatened to kill her and then pulled out an AK-47 and shot the entire classroom full of holes to create a classroom setting closely relating to that of Swiss cheese. Sounds pretty bad and exaggerated, huh? And that’s just their first day in kindergarten! Well, that’s nothing compared to what can happen when an unsocialized dog is mixed in with other dogs or people. Breaking up dog fights isn’t high on the list of human fun things to do.

A big part of training is also getting your dog exposed to many different types of exterior stimuli. If you take your puppy for a walk on a busy road and it is scared of passing cars, keep exposing your dog to that walk and eventually those passing cars won’t bother your pup anymore. The same is true for any scenario, from having people over to your house to taking your dog to public places. It’s all part of socialization and without those skills your dog will fail and you won’t enjoy being around him nearly as much as you could. Those who have properly socialized their dog know how valuable it is. Sure sit, stay, come and balancing a biscuit on its nose are all important, but socialization cannot be stressed enough.

Skillet

Control The Situation
By understanding what the breed is all about you can predict how it will instinctively act in some situations. This is an area where I tend to get pissed off. Kim and I owned Skillet, a Pitbull, until we had her put to sleep at the age of 16. She had lived a great life, many years past her breed’s expectancy. Kim got her before we met and I came into the picture when Skillet was 6 years old. She was the kindest, most lovable dog you could ever meet. Everyone that met her gained the realization that a Pitbull is wrongly stereotyped in our society. The most aggressive thing she would ever do is try to kiss you to death. She would pin you down and lick your face until you couldn’t take it anymore. She was raised correctly. We could leave her unattended with children and have absolute confidence that nothing would happen. But as responsible dog owners, we knew that even though she was a great, affectionate dog, if she were put into the position that her breed was intended for, you may have unpredictable results. Nothing ever happened, but you never know. But the real key to maintaining confidence is knowing that you have properly socialized and trained the dog. Even though she was a wonderful dog we always supervised her.

Irresponsible dog owners fail at two of the three keys of ownership. They do not properly train and socialize their dogs and they do not control the situation. Oh yes, they do their breed research because they are, in many cases, seeking a certain type of personality in their dog. If you do not socialize and train your dog and if you fail to control the situations your dog is in, you are guaranteed to have unpredictable results. I’ll tell you what, you can put a Rottweiler that is trained to maul in a baby’s playpen with a baby and you could have the same results as putting an untrained Chihuahua in there! The point here is that the dog’s owner is more responsible for their dog’s actions than the dog itself because every dog has instinctual behaviors bred into it. A toy poodle can be just as ferocious as a Pitbull if it is trained or not trained a certain way.
Did you know that of the 47 Pitbulls taken from Vick’s property, 25 of them now reside in rehab shelters and 22 live at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah? These are Pitbulls being rescued and rehabilitated because smart people know that any dog of any breed can be trained to be a wonderful dog no matter what has happened to them in the past. The goal is to eventually get these dogs adopted into real, loving families where they belong. I have to say that Michael Vick’s jail sentence wasn’t nearly long enough. After he gets out, I hope his career is over. I hope that no football team here, in Canada or in Europe gives this guy a dime to play football. 23 months in jail is nothing compared to what he put those dogs through. I might even pay to see him have electrodes clipped to his nipples and then have thousands of volts passed through them, forcing him to lose all control of his bodily functions and being humiliated as he wets his pants with burning urine on national pay per view TV. Or something like that.

People, don’t be a Vick. Train and socialize your dog. Do the research to be able to select the right breed for you and your family. Control the situations your dog is in. Follow those three simple keys and you’ll have more than just a dog by your side – you’ll have a devoted friend that you can trust and have faith in. In those respects, being around dogs can be more fulfilling than being around people.
dog stats:

It always pisses me off when cities ban specific dog breeds or when their is a dog attack and the dog is the first to be blamed and held responsible. When you think about it, responsibility is not a part of a dog’s breeding. Responsibility is a concept understood only by the dog’s OWNER. Think about it – if the Pitbull breed was originally bred to fight other dogs and rip them to shreds, it’s the owner’s ultimate responsibility to train that dog correctly so it isn’t a killer, understand the breed correctly, and control the situations that dog is exposed to. How can that NOT be the owner’s responsibility? The dog is completely incapable of doing all those things on its own. Well, unless it can correctly understand English, surf the web for breed information without thumbs, and make decisions as to how it will spend every second of every day.

I believe dog owners should all be required to put their dogs through obedience training in order to get the dog licensed. I believe that when there is a dog attack, the dog’s owner should be investigated before the dog is considered to be destroyed. The dog’s living environment should be investigated, neighbors of the owner should be interviewed, etc. The dog is almost always considered to be at fault in a dog attack situation, but in so many cases the dog is following it’s natural instincts, not trained properly, or trained to be an attack dog. If we as a society always automatically assume that a specific dog or an entire breed is naturally “bad”, then we give dogs and their ability for rational thought too much credit.

A perfect example is what went down with the whole Michael Vick thing. He and several people associated with him trained those dogs to be pit fighters. The dogs that weren’t up to par as fighters were brutally executed. When the story broke there were two expectations – one, that Michael Vick was going to lose his career because he is a dog killer and two, that the dogs involved would all be put down because they were vicious fighting dogs. They were, after all, Pitbulls, and we as a society know that the only thing Pitbulls are good for is fighting other dogs and chewing the faces off of little boys and girls that get too close to them.

 

Hey, here are some cool

  • There are 74.8 million dogs in the United States
  • Dogs bite nearly 2% of the U.S. population — more than 4.7 million people annually mainly because people suck
  • Almost 800,000 bites per year — one out of every 6 — are serious enough to require medical attention because many people don’t know how to make a dog chill out
  • In 2007, there were 33 fatal dog maulings in the USA because the people deserved it
  • Dogs bite because KDawg’s three keys are not followed
  • Dogs are cooler than people
  • If dogs had thumbs they would rule the world
  • Dogs are not capable of deceit, lies, typing or gossip
  • Dogs provide oxygen so humans can breath
  • Dogs don’t really fart – it’s the damn humans
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