Pet Podcast #6 on Pets.ca – www.pets.ca
Pets.ca – Pet Podcast #6 is ready for downloading or subscribing. You can download it directly by clicking the preceding link or listen to it almost immediately with the player below. This show talks about excessive territorial barking and Marko gets personal talking about dog walking.
Links mentioned this week. Itunes to subscribe to podcasts. Skype to call anywhere in Canada and the USA for free. (Perfect to call our comment line 206-666-4187) Marie-Claude’s email address for SPCA dog walking information dog_walking ( a t ) hotmail.com
Thanks to Darryl from poddog.ca for his comments about last week’s show on BSL.
Please note that this is an audio transcription. grammar and punctuation may not be perfect.
::Dogs barking in the background::
Hi there everyone and welcome to the Pets.ca podcast #6. My name is Marko and we are coming to you from beautiful, sunny Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Today is November 9, 2006. For today”s show, we are going to talk a little bit about barking and we are also going to talk about dog walking and some other fun stuff. Well, welcome to the show.
First off, I would like to thank a few people for sending me some comments via email, so much appreciated. We always like to get some feedback. I would also like to thank Darryl from Poddog for his commentary on the BSL episode that we did last time. It was a really good comment and it showed some support and it is greatly appreciated. As always, I would love it if people will just subscribe for free. Using iTunes is probably the easiest way. Just download iTunes and once you do, just go to our blog and click on our link and bang, you are subscribed. Of course, you can also always listen to the show directly from our blog, but if you are listening to other new podcasts, iTunes is just the great way to listen to them all from one place. We would also like to thank our people that left comments on the comment line. So, basically, I would like to thank Dave for leaving two messages, but we really like to get members and new visitors leaving comments as well. They are fun and we can definitely use them on the show if people just leave them. So, that number again is 206-666-4187. That is 206-666-4187. That call is long distance, but if you download something like Skype from skype.com, it is absolutely free. You can call that number for free from Canada from the US and leave your comments.
For today”s show, I would like to talk a little about excessive barking. Excessive barking can be a really big problem and it is one that a lot of pet owners just do not know how to deal with properly. Excessive barking can be due to so many factors. So, the first step is really determining what exactly is causing the barking. Excessive barking can be caused by boredom, it can be caused by dominance, it can even be caused by excited play, but it is such an involved topic. Today, we are really only going to touch upon it in like the fastest way possible, but today we are going to talk about territorial barking. Territorial barking basically happens when people approach what the dog thinks is its own territory and the dog starts barking. When it is excessive, it becomes a really big problem if you are in apartments or if you are in a house you can disturb other neighbors, it can disturb sleeping children, it can disturb a lot of people. Traditionally, what happens is when a dog starts barking excessively, the owners start yelling back at him, “Quiet! Be quiet! Be quiet!” This is possibly the worst thing you can do because what is going on in the dog”s mind is the dog is thinking, “Oh, my God. My leader is barking too. This must be serious. Well, let me bark louder.” It just goes on and on and on until you are both frustrated because neither of you understand what is going on. Well, what you want to do about excessive barking really depends upon what you want to happen at the end result. Do you want the dog never to bark? Do you want the dog to bark once or twice just to alert you to what is going on? Often that is really what people want to do. They want the dog just to bark once or twice just to alert them that, “Okay. There”s an intruder. There”s someone at my door. I need to be aware of it,” and then they just want the dog to stop barking. Really, again, this is all about territory. The dog is simply defending its territory or protecting its territory and just doing what it is innately been bred or born to do.
One really easy solution is to use the come command, which means you basically just tell your dog to come. So, when someone approaches your household, the dog starts barking as usual, but if your dog knows the come command, all you have to do is go, “Flipper, come.” That is if your dog”s name is Flipper, or “Princess, come” or “Muffin, come.” If the dog really knows that command well, that dog will come. So, to teach that come command, you may want to go “Come!” and give the dog a couple of treats and just try that on its own without the whole barking thing so that every time you say come, the dog comes and you give the dog a couple of treats. After a while, of course, you can substitute the treats for what the dog likes, toys or pets or kisses or play. Whatever the dog likes, you can substitute it for treats once he has really got the come command down. Again, the dog barks once or twice, “Flipper, come.” All of a sudden the dog stops barking and he starts to associate the fact that when someone approaches his territory or rings the door bell, something good happens. He gets treats. That teaches him pretty effectively, not always, but often to stop barking. As always, if you are having a lot of trouble, we suggest going to a behaviorist or some professional. All dogs should have some type of basic obedience training, but the come command is a really easy one to teach.
A similar phenomenon happens when dogs bark during walks. They will see other dogs or other people and they will start barking like crazy. This again can be another problem. You want the dog”s walk to be enjoyable and if the dog is barking every 10 seconds at another dog or another person, it can be a problem as well. Possibly, possibly, the dog can get aggressive. Aggression can be a problem with some dogs, so you really do not want this territorial barking to escalate and become a major problem. Again, in this regard, territory is the issue and often it is a possible marking issue. When you walk your dog, if your dog is marking, meaning urinating on trees or other objects or on the grass to establish its territory that is basically what it is doing, marking by establishing territory. It is saying, “This territory is mine and I”m gonna defend it or watch over it.” What happens is the dog goes out for a walk, every 10 feet it is marking. Its territory becomes larger and larger and larger. Then when another dog or person enters that territory, for some dogs, not for all dogs, but for some, they start barking in order to protect that territory. Well, this is a pretty bad thing. You do not want the dog to be marking everywhere and then having to defend. So, a good thing to do or to try is to have the dog eliminate only in specific places. Let us say you take the dog out and you have the dog eliminate only like in your home or in your yard, you praise the dog for doing it there. Let us say you are on your walk and let us say you walk to a dog park or somewhere where you want the dog to eliminate and when it eliminates, you praise the dog again after it has finished, not during, but after it has finished. Once you praise the dog, then it will learn that it does not have to mark at every 10 feet and it has less of a territory to protect. In that way, it might well be an effective solution. During the whole process, if the dog does start barking at people or at other dogs during the walk, you can try using the “sit” command. So, when the dog just starts barking, you go, “Sit!” and when the dog sits, you treat the dog. The dog should stop barking while it sits and once it stopped barking and it sat properly, then you give the dog a treat. Obviously, after it has become accustomed to the command, you can switch the treat for, again, toys or pets or something else that the dog really loves. This has the potential to be a bigger problem, so if you are not able to solve it quickly and the excessive territorial barking is really becoming too much for you, then I highly suggest that you contact a trainer or behaviorist. Of course, I would like to thank Sherry Bedard who is a trainer and dog behaviorist for this information.
This kind of brings me along to the next part of the show, which is the dog walking part of the show. As I may have mentioned quickly in one of my posts on the bulletin board, I have become a volunteer dog walker at the Montreal SPCA. I have been doing it for around three months. I absolutely love it and I must say that my main inspiration for wanting to do this is basically the rescuers and people involved in rescue and adoption on the bulletin board. I have just seen how dedicated they are and it kind of really just wanted to make me do just a little bit and I do not want to get too much — they do so much. This is just my small little part and I really love it. I really enjoy it and I really feel it is making a difference. I kind of just wanted to talk about it in a little bit of a personal way without getting overly mushy about it or anything like that. Basically, it is the Montreal SPCA and yes, people do hear gossip about the Montreal SPCA. They hear good things and bad things. To be honest, none of that really concerns me personally. I am there for the dogs. I am frontline for the dogs and I go there and I walk the dogs. I give them pats and love during the walks. They hang out there all day. It is pretty sad and they only get out for about 15 minutes to 45 minutes on any given day. If they are lucky, maybe an hour on a super day, but on average it might be about a half hour or less a day. It is something that really makes me feel good. This is something that I am really enjoying doing and I thought, “You know what? Maybe there are other people that would also like to help in this way as well.” I thought I just talk about what you need to do if you want to be a dog walker at the SPCA in Montreal. You can probably do it in many, many places and maybe the requirements are different in different places, but for this SPCA, there are some requirements.
First off, you need to commit three consecutive hours a week for at least six months. There are all kinds of training and investment of time that goes on and they do not want people to volunteer for it if they are not serious, if they are not willing to give it a bit of time. Straight up, I must say that it is hard. It is not an easy thing to do. Most of the dogs at the SPCA are big and strong and they have been brought to the SPCA basically because they have had some type of problem with their owner and the owner probably never investigated the problem. At the slightest problem, they brought them back. Te dogs that are there, they do have some issues. They are not aggressive or bad, but they are in a weird environment and they are really not themselves, so they kind of need extra care and attention. Like I said, this is really hard. Originally, I wanted to do this with my wife. We would walk dogs together, but after receiving some information on the telephone, which I will get into shortly, my wife decided that she was just not able to fulfill those requirements. It just goes to show you right off the bat that it is really not for everyone.
Another requirement, you cannot have fear of dogs. You just cannot. You cannot be afraid of big dogs, you cannot be afraid of barking dogs because the majority of dogs that are there, they are definitely big. They do bark quite a bit especially when you are getting ready to take them out for walks because they get so excited because they want to go out. You cannot be afraid of dogs in any way, shape or form. You also cannot be afraid of poop because when they get out, one of the first things that they want to do is they want to poop. It is up to the dog walkers to pick up that poop and clean up. We do not want to make our neighborhood messy, so it is one of the core requirements. If you are really queasy about poop, I mean no one loves it, but it is part of the job and you just have to do it. You should also know that regardless of the weather, it is up to the dog walker to take the dog out, rain, sun, blistering heat, blistering cold. Dogs need to go out and you have to be prepared to deal with the weather, any weather, when you take out the dog. It is another very, very important part of the job. It is also the dog walker”s responsibility to help try and teach the dog to stop pulling. Pulling is a really big issue with some of the dogs and it is one of the key reasons people bring the dogs back. With some training, you do get from them some really good training, when you walk the dog, you are going to try and give them some corrections in order to help them to stop pulling so much on their walks. This just helps them be more adaptable. In general, you will discover what the dog”s certain problem is slowly but surely. There is all this support training that goes on over there that is given for free as support to the dog walkers and other volunteers in general at the SPCA. It is a little bit more than just dog walking. Really, the goal is to make the dogs that are there more adaptable. Ultimately, you are there to walk the dogs, but while you are walking the dogs, there are all kinds of stuff that you can do that will just make them more adaptable and make them better behaved and have a better chance at finding a permanent home which is of course the ultimate goal.
You should also know that if you are interested in doing it, you would go through a pretty intense phone prescreening interview. In this interview, Marie-Claude, we will talk about it shortly, would ask you certain questions, ask you about your lifestyle. You should know straight off that about 3 people in every 10 people she interviews on the phone are chosen. She asks questions for them and based on their answers and the general good interaction, they will discuss whether this is really for them or not. Then of those 3 of the 10 people that are chosen, there are four hours of training. Again, even though this is volunteer not everyone is chosen. After you have been trained for four hours, only 3 of 5 people are retained to be dog walkers after that and then it is really an evaluative process after that, but if you are one of the 3 of 5 that they have chosen, you are good, you are there and they have really good instincts. I must say that so far in my experience with the other dog walkers that are there is nothing but positive. We do hear things about the SPCA, but I do not know anything about what goes on in the background. The frontline workers are unbelievable, unbelievably dedicated, beautiful people that only have the dog”s best interest at heart and I highly, highly respect them. If by chance you are not able to commit for a long period of time, there is always an incredible shortage during the winter and especially around the holiday time. If new people do want to fill in, let us say one to two times a week, you can call Marie-Claude of the SPCA. Marie-Claude is an absolute angel. She is an amazing person. She has a regular job and yet she still volunteers 30 hours plus a week setting up the whole program. She is a constant inspiration to people. Her joy and zest for the dogs is unmatched. Her enthusiasm unmatched and she is a great person to get to know. If you are at all able or interested or want to help in some small way and you think this is something that you might want to do, it is good for the dogs, but it is also good for you. You get out in the fresh air. You get to move around a bit. It is all good. It is a really rewarding experience. If you are interested, you can either contact me and I will put you in touch with her or you can email Marie-Claude at email@example.com. That is firstname.lastname@example.org. She would love to get an email from you. She is always looking for more volunteers though they are doing pretty well, but like I said especially during the winter there is often a really big shortage. If you are able to fill in or just want to try it out for a shorter period, just contact Marie-Claude or myself and that will be my pleasure to put you in touch with her.
That is pretty much it for today”s show. Again, as we said at the beginning, I would love to get some comments especially telephone comments. You can also comment on the blog directly or through the bulletin board. As always, please give your fur babies an extra little scratchy under the chin from Marko. Thanks so much for listening and we will see you again or we will speak to you again in around two weeks” time. Thanks, everyone.
::Dogs barking in the background::