"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume III - Issue 19:  June 24, 2005
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  Breed Banning Effectiveness
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Mail Bag
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  Top 10 Dog Peeves About Humans

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Christopher's Drool

Hey Everybody,

Aren't vacations supposed to leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated? I'll tell you what, a week of camping with two kids and an active dog are one heck of a workout! We did have a bunch of fun even though we were rained out the final night. Just a few tips for you all ...

If your dog likes the water, a three-hour canoe trip may not be a great idea. Between the wake of passing boats and the dog running side to side going, “Look at that … no! Look at THAT!” I was completely worn out at the end of that day. I felt like I had been rowing in the high seas for a couple of days.

Next, when renting a fishing boat, make sure they check the fuel lines BEFORE leaving the marina. No sooner than we were out of sight of the marina did the fuel line go and we were dead in the water. A nice teenager on a jet ski saw us and gave my son a ride back to the marina. Needless to say, they gave us another boat and many extra rental hours for our trouble.

The fishing stunk but that was probably because of the weather front coming in. We did at least get a few bites so I know the fish were there at least. Possibly they were just toying with me. That's okay Mr. Fish … I'll remember. I'll remember.

Honestly, it was a great trip. The scenery was beautiful with lots of wildlife around. I don't think a day passed where we didn't see deer, turkeys or some sort of critter. 2005 has been such a busy year it was nice to spend some time with the kids and not having to answer email, the telephone or deal with the regular daily grind.

We were a little concerned we weren't going to be able to take Mei zhu, my Chongqing dog, with us on the trip. About a week before we left, my son took her for a walk in the field next to the house. When he came in, he forgot to check her paws. As a result, she ended up with numerous foxtails that had to be removed from three pads by the vet. It was rather painful for her and we felt terrible.

So, when taking the dogs out this summer, avoid the tall grass and make sure you check those paws when you return. It's not only painful for the dog but an expensive trip to the vet that is easily preventable. If you have doggie booties use them and if not, check those paws.

Now, a couple of things here for you. I am going to publish the newsletter bi-weekly for the remainder of the summer. I am doing this for a couple of reasons. First, people tend not to read it as much during the summer. Second, I have a couple of projects to finish up and need the additional time to do that. In September, I will again put it out every week.

This weeks article was originally published in February of 2004 when Denver was working to pass the strictest Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) this country has seen yet. Well, guess what folks? It passed and is now law. Now, families in Denver are having their beloved furkids stripped from them by authorities who are, in turn, destroying the animals.

It doesn't matter if the dogs have never shown any type of dangerous propensities or have had complaints against them. They were simply born the “wrong” breed and nothing more. Kind of reminds me of a little dictator in Europe from the 1930's and 40's.

For many years now I have been telling people that BSL is a danger to all dog owners regardless of the breed they own. Not only can you have a beloved family member taken away from you, but BSL has been proven ineffective over and over again. Who pays for these ignorant policies? The tax-payer.

I don't know about you, but I think it is horrendous that officials are murdering beloved family members because of prejudice, but the families' tax dollars are paying for what amounts to little more than genocide. It just seems like a double slap in the face to me.

I'm telling you people, BSL is coming to nearly every State and if we aren't prepared for it in advance, and ditch the “it will never happen here” attitude, we could very well find owning the dog of our choice not only difficult, but illegal.

Keep those letters and suggestions coming. They are greatly appreciated.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm outta here!



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Breed Banning Effectiveness

[I originally ran this article in February of 2004 while Denver, Colorado was pursuing the passage of the strictest Breed Specific Legislation seen in the US to date.]

I hate snakes. I don't like the way they feel. I don't like the way they look. I see absolutely no redeeming quality in these reptiles.

When I was a kid, I wouldn't let my hand hang off the bed just in case one happened to make its way into the house, upstairs and under my bed in an effort to choke me off and swallow me whole. In the days that I hunted and I heard a rattlesnake, I would make a point of shooting it rather than let it go on its way.

Years later, I lived in Chicago and some of my neighbors owned a couple of Boa Constrictors and Pythons. My son loved looking at them, holding and watching them feed. They were in no way aggressive but I wouldn't let them near me personally. I was scared and didn't understand them.

Eventually, I held one. Not because I was suddenly struck with the desire to do so, but because I'm a man and was being dogged to do so. I held the snake and it was quite a unique experience. I won't say I liked it, but I didn't really feel the fear I anticipated.

My fear was based on a lack of knowledge and understanding. I don't know snakes. I'm a dog man. What I do know is the snake I held was okay. He didn't bother me and I didn't bother him. To be honest, if I spent more time around snakes, I would probably like them. (Just don't tell them that.)

I look at the dog banning issue much differently than that experience. I most likely won't get over the fear I have of snakes, but I don't hate them anymore. I guess they are necessary. The thing is, I had to take on that fear and deal with it.

The dog banning issue is one that's filled with all kinds of emotion and feelings. Some people hate certain breeds that others adore. This is fine. I have no problem with this. What does bother me is there are some who use that fear in an attempt to destroy certain breeds. This I find not only ignorant, but sad.

My Experience

Over the years, I've worked with numerous dog breeds: everything from Pit Bulls to Poodles. Some have scared me and some haven't. I cannot think of a breed that makes me fearful. (Dog maybe, but not breed) Not one. Why? Maybe I'm a fool. Maybe I'm making up for my lack vertical stature. I don't know. What I do know, however, is that I fear no one particular breed. Not one.

I do approach every dog differently though. I do this not out of fear but out of correctness. Some dogs I come at as a dominant figure. Some I approach submissively. It all depends on the dog and what I am there to do. If I'm there to eliminate dominance, then I approach as a dominant figure. If I'm there to increase confidence then I come in submissive. Every single dog is different and needs to be treated as such.

I fear no breed and neither should anyone else.

None of this has anything to do with breed banning though. It has to do with proper thinking. This is what I feel is missing in breed banning. The facts are not consistent with media hype. The media hype is just that - hype. If a Pit Bull kills a child, that's news. If a Labrador Retriever does, it isn't. I was told this by a reporter from a local news station here where I live.

This is the very reason I don't support breed banning. The facts don't support the legislation. Let me give you some validatible proof ...


Killer Breeds

Many people think certain breeds are more prone to aggressive behavior. This is true. Some dogs have a higher “prey drive” than others. No denying this. What this means isn't that the breeds with this higher drive are aggressive, just they were originally bred to have a higher drive.

What is not true is that certain breeds are man-eaters. I've seen examples of nearly every breed that are aggressive and passive. I've seen lovers and haters. What makes the difference is the owners and the way they raise their dogs. If I wanted too, I could make any dog a killer.


Some people say that certain breeds have a genetic disposition to be aggressive. This is true. All dogs are genetically predisposed to be aggressive. This is how they survived for thousands of years. However, no breed has a specific genetic code that makes it a killer. This urban legend has been passed around for years by those who fear specific breeds and is based on prejudice and nothing else.

I have spoken to the research department at UC Davis Veterinary Science Center and the University of Wisconsin Veterinary School about this issue. Both told me they know of no such credible study that validates this claim. These are two of the top veterinary science centers in the country. I find them to be much more credible than the Animal Planet Channel.

Shelter/ Rescue Dogs

I love animal shelters and the people that work there. They are, in general, people who love animals and want to make a difference. Unfortunately, many are vastly under paid and under trained.

Many derive their ideologies from their experiences in the shelter and have minimal outside training. They use out dated temperament testing techniques that are by their very nature, ridiculous. They tend to see the worst of the worst and base their opinions on that.

Keep in mind that aggressive dogs that end up in shelters or the pound are, in most cases, the exception rather than the rule. Most are there because their owners have given up on the animal and didn't bother to educate themselves about their dog or seek the assistance of a professional trainer or behavioralist.

Breed Banning Statistics

Several cities around the USA have banned specific breeds they have determined to be dangerous to the health and public safety of their citizens. I have contacted three of these cities and their public affairs representatives. I asked about their cities' dog bite statistics before and after the ban.

What I found was the numbers of dog bites, fatal and non-fatal didn't change. In fact, in one case, non-fatal bites had increased significantly. When I asked if I could quote these individuals about the numbers and statistics, I was told no. You know what though, check the Internet. The proof is all there. They can't hide from the numbers.

Several reputable groups have tracked and studied dog bites and banning. Here are a few:

Center of Disease Control
Humane Society of the United States
Cincinnati Law Review
American Veterinary Medical Association:
    Task Force on Canine Aggression & Human-Canine Interactions
Foundation for Pediatric Studies

Here's a quote from the Cincinnati Law Review

"Statistics did not support the assertion that any one breed was dangerous, ... when legislation is focused on the type of dog it fails, because it is ... unenforceable, confusing, and costly ... focusing legislation on dogs that are "vicious" distracts attention from the real problem, which is irresponsible owners."

The Humane Societies Study says:

"Any dog, treated harshly or trained to attack, may bite a person. Any dog can be turned into a dangerous dog. The owner most often is responsible -- not the breed, and not the dog.

An irresponsible owner or dog handler might create a situation that places another person in danger by a dog, without the dog itself being dangerous, as in the case of the Pomeranian that killed the infant (see above).

Any individual dog may be a good, loving pet, even though its breed is considered to be likely to bite. A responsible owner can win the love and respect of a dog, no matter its breed. One cannot look at an individual dog, recognize its breed, and then state whether or not it is going to attack."

I'm not going to sit here and quote every study. They all do, however, state the same thing. It's not the breed - it's the owner. The information can be found online and I'm sure you're all capable of looking it up. I highly recommend going to the Center for Disease Control website. http://www.cdc.gov/

Banning certain breeds simply doesn't work. It doesn't decrease the number of dog bite incidents and has proven itself as effective as putting a band-aid on a tumor. It's based on prejudice, a lack of understanding and human culpability.

The Answer

Forty percent of the homes in the United States have dogs and the numbers are increasing annually. According to the American Dog Training Association, only five percent of these households take their dog for professional training. As a result, I firmly believe we need strong appropriate legislation to be put in place if we are going to stop the dog bite epidemic.

I have no problem with mandatory spay/neuter laws. It's good for the health of your dog and inexpensive. This alone would drastically reduce the number of dog bites that occur each year. (Unneutered males under five years old commit over fifty percent of dog bites.) If someone doesn't want to fix their dog due to plans to breed, then they should be licensed to do so and pay a hefty fee for the privilege.

I support legislation that places stronger penalties and even criminal prosecution of individuals who can't control their dog. If individuals were held responsible for the actions of their dog and knew the penalties were severe, they would get the training they need to control their dog. There's no excuse for an out-of-control dog. Training is relatively inexpensive and if someone can't afford it, maybe, they shouldn't have a dog.

I also support criminal prosecution of individuals who train their dogs to attack or dog fight. There's simply no reason for such activities and people who engage in them need to spend some time in jail.

Here's the bottom line:

It's been proven in study after study that banning doesn't work. I guess it is easier to ban a breed though than live up to our responsibilities as dog owners and be accountable.

This article may be republished using the following attribution box:
Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies
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Quote of the Week

To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.

~ Aldous Huxley ~

Mail Bag

Hi Christopher,

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the class you taught at the Co-Op World Dog Expo last week. I learned so much and discovered you are as funny in “real life” as you write. Thanks again for your efforts in helping dog owners have a happy life with their dogs.


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Joke of the Week

Top 10 Dog Peeves About Humans:

10. Blaming your farts on me ... not funny ... not funny at all!

9. Yelling at me for barking ... I'M A FRIGGIN' DOG, YOU IDIOT!

8. Taking me for a walk, then not letting me check stuff out. Exactly whose walk is this anyway?

7. Any trick that involves balancing food on my nose ... stop it!

6. Any haircut that involves bows or ribbons. Now you know why we chew your stuff up when you're not home.

5. The sleight of hand, fake fetch throw. You fooled a dog! Whooooo Hoooo!

4. Taking me to the vet for "the big snip," then acting surprised when I freak out every time we go back!

3. Getting upset when I sniff the crotches of your guests. Sorry, but I haven't quite mastered the handshake thing yet.

2. Dog sweaters. Hello? Haven't you noticed the fur?

1. How you act disgusted when I lick myself. Look, we both know the truth, you're just jealous.

Now lay off me on some of these things. We both know who's boss here! You don't see me picking up YOUR poop, do you?

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Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2005 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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