Posts Tagged ‘what’

aggressive-rottweiler-rGood morning and Happy St.Patties Day,

“May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows your dead.”

Yesterday I posted to Face Book the question, ” What do you do when a strange dog charges you and your dog and you have no opportunity for retreat?”

There was a lot of great discussion about this and I want to thank everyone who took the time to leave a comment.

Now let me start by saying that it is important for people to know that in 9 out of 10 cases the dogs doing the charging are not killers.. simply soft nerved,.fearful dogs, that lack any kind of meaningful training,, and have learned that showing aggression will cause the person or dog to take off and leave them alone..

You only have a few seconds to decide if this is one of those dogs who are just weak-willed and nervous or high drive and confident.. and you have to take action immediately.. I can size a dog up pretty quickly because I have a lot of experience dealing with dogs of all temperaments, the information is in their eyes..and body posture..

Dogs who are just trying to drive you off will have the hair standing up on their backs and will look like they are either about to run or about to bite you..

If you hold your ground, look directly at them, and in a loud commanding voice yell..”Go Home!!” stomp the ground and take a step toward them..they may just do that..

Carry some chicken chunks or liver treats and toss them at the dog.. they may very well forget about you and begin searching out the treats.. and this is your cue to back away slowly keeping your eye on the dog always..

The ones that don’t immediately take off will circle you ..trying to find an opportunity to pinch ya..and if you turn with them,.. keeping your dog behind you at all times.. shorten your grip on the leash so your dog has no chance of getting around you.. you don’t want your dog getting into a fight.. it is your job as leader to protect your dog at all cost..

In most cases the offending dog will not come too close.. but might keep circling, barking and acting tough for quite some time.. in this case you should slowly and I mean slowly back out of their territory..the one thing you don’t want to do is run.. you can’t out run a dog and running will only kick in their prey drive and increase the chances of you getting bitten.. even though you may be scared..don’t show this to the dog..they can sense strength and confidence so make and hold direct eye contact.. and defensive body posture.. you can break down later.

Now what about that one time out of ten when the strange dog that is charging you is a confident, high drive dog with nerves of steel that is not afraid to attack humans..

Let me begin by saying that no amount of yelling, treat throwing.. or stomping the ground is going to stop this dog.. you have only one choice.. you have to go to battle with this dog.. and losing is not an option.. there are many dogs quite capable of killing you and your dog.. Rottweilers, Pit bulls, Dobermans..German Shepherds among others come to mind..

Now unlike the first category of charging dog, this dog will not be barking or have any hair raised up.. they will be laser targeted on you or your dog.. and you must ready yourself for what’s about to happen.. I always carry a 4 foot hardwood walking stick with me.. a two foot tire thumper is good too..but always have it out..

I always have a couple of steel carabiners attached to my belt so I can clip my dog to me ..and have the use of both hands.. you want to prevent your dog from running away..

Ready yourself in your best fighting stance..and when the dog is about 15 feet from you wave your arm out to the side ..this will cause the dogs prey drive to target your arm.. and at the last possible moment when the dog has left the ground and is flying to bite your arm.. step to the side and use your stick to whack the dog hard in the ribs or on top of the head.. this will not in all likely hood cause the dog to retreat.. but it sends the message that you are not going down without a fight.. then you don’t wait.. you attack the dog with all you got.. repeated blows to the top of the head right between the eyes… the ribs..the groin.. usually the dog will give up if it hasn’t bitten you after 3 or 4 attempts..

If the dog gets to you and grabs you by the leg.. wrap your arms around the dog’s neck and choke it to death.. not until it passes out..because a dog that is hell-bent on killing you or your dog will go right back to fighting as soon as it wakes up.. and usually the dog will wake up quickly.. so you might not have time to get away…

If it gets hold of your arm then whack it hard on the head right between the eyes.. usually the dog will give up after about 3 or 4 good knocks on the head..

If you have lost your footing and are in a bad way.. curl up in the fetal position and cover the back of your neck and throat.. with your hands and arms.. keep yelling for help.. you will most likely be badly bitten ..but you may very well survive..

Remember.. don’t run…it will be hard to keep from doing this ..but your life could very well depend on it..

If the dog attacks your dog, the same applies.. continue to whack the dog until it quits and runs off or the owner comes to control the dog.. one thing you should never do is pick your dog up.. this will hamper your ability to fight..and makes your face a target for the charging dog.. keep your dog behind you if possible.. I always attach a couple of steel carabiers to my belt.. and clip my dogs leash to it so I can have the use of both hands..

Pepper spray can work well.. but dogs don’t respond to it like humans .. so be warned it may not stop a high drive determined dog..but a full can of spray to the face will make them think twice about what’s going on..

Regardless of the outcome .. if possible talk to the dogs owner.. be kind..the dog may have gotten away from them by accident.. while it is still his responsibility,. try to work it out..

If the owner is just as hostile as his dog..then call the cops.. and let the chips fall where they may..

A word of caution for those of you who would like to think you would shoot the dog.. let me say this..

I was raised with a rifle in one hand and a dog in the other.. and I can tell you it is not as easy as you might think to shoot any animal that is charging straight at you.. your adrenalin is high, and even if you are a crack shot.. you only have a few seconds to react.. and there is a high probability that you will miss.. and a stray bullet or ricochet bullet in an urban setting can kill or injure by standers.. the risk to others is too high.. so please leave your side arms at home.

Again thank you all for taking the time to comment on this serious issue.. and if you have questions let me know in the comments below..

All the best,


download (1)Good morning, I hope you are all well and having a great day with your pups.. today I wanted to chat with you for a bit about the dog park.. just a few things I feel is important for you to know in order to have the best possible experience for both you and your dogs, and while I am not a fan of the dog park, I know a lot of people are,. so if you are determined to take your dog or pup to the park there are a few things you should be aware of.

When you enter the dog park with your dog..the first thing that happens is your dogs stress levels go up.. the stress hormone cortisol begins to flood your dogs system ..

and depending on your dogs temperament.. stress can be a good thing or a bad thing..

In well-balanced dogs, stress can help them to learn new things in an excited environment.. in fearful or shy dogs stress can lead to aggression..and if someone doesn’t step in on behalf of the fearful/shy dog..he or she will do a number of things to ward off the dog that is causing the stress..

The first thing a fearful/shy dog will do is to crouch/lie down an attempt to stop the interaction..if this is unsuccessful, they will then snap, bark, and lunge at the dog.. and as always as a last resort they become defensively aggressive and may attack the offending dog.

If you see a dog displaying these signs and your dog is engaging with them.. immediately call your dog to you.. if it is your dog that is showing signs of unhealthy stress..perhaps the dog park is not the best place for you to bring your fearful/shy dog.

I will leave you with a few of my top tips for having a safe and fun-filled romp in the dog park..

1. Before you consider heading out to an off leash park..make sure you have a solid and reliable recall with your dog..if you don’t,.. then the dog park is not going to be a safe place for you or your dog.

2. The idea that dogs should work things out among themselves is a recipe for disaster.. and for this reason you should always be watching your dog and know where they are and what they are doing at all times, leave your cell phone, i-pads and pods in the car..

and finally..

If you do have a solid recall with your dog sure to not sabotage it by calling your dog to come and then clipping the leash on them and going home..your dog will see this as punishment and your reliable recall will suffer.. if you call your dog to come to you often during play,,have them sit..and give them a tasty reward.. then release them to go and play.. you will ensure your dog will always want to come to you when you call ..not matter what they are doing at the time..

Remember ..a dog will not just snap and attack another dog..there are many subtle signs and warnings a dog will give before they resort to defensive aggression.. so observe not only your dog,.. but all the dogs at the you can recognize these signs and get out ahead of any problems at the park.

All the best



Let me begin by saying that dogs are not wolves..

But, having said that:

They do share the same instinctual behaviors, all be it diluted by thousands of years of evolution, and stronger in some breeds as compared to others. There is not one behavior that a wolf has that can’t be found to some degree in our domesticated dogs. So what is the difference between dogs and their cousins the wolf?


Let’s take a look at some of those similarities and differences.

Dogs and wolves are both prey driven animals

All dogs are predators and have an instinctual  prey drive that is either very high or very low, or falls somewhere in between the two extremes. depending on the breed of dog.

Prey drive is the instinctual act of giving chase to something that is moving fast. In most cases for dogs that would be the family cat, that squirrel that keeps stealing the bird seed, or maybe the kid that zoomed past the gate on his bike.

When a dog gives chase to a cat it may or may not end up in a kill for the dog, but if that was a wolf chasing the cat..well that cat would be lunch.

Dogs will often kill small animals but very rarely do they eat what they kill. They just bring it to the house and present it to us with a look of, hey see what I brought for you, or stash it somewhere to be rolled on later.

There are many documented cases of dogs chasing someone on a bike and ending up biting that person. I am sure the dog had no intention of killing the person, but the end game of a prey driven chase is to bite something.

The predatory drive in a wolf is very intense and strong, that is why wolf-dog hybrids do not make good pets, you never know which animal you are going to be dealing with, thus making them unpredictable and dangerous for the average pet owner.

Dogs and wolves are both pack driven animals

There is much discussion in the modern dog training world that says that dogs are not true pack animals like wolves are, because a true pack is composed of a mated pair and their off-spring, all of which are related by blood and have a structured hierarchy that determines the ranking within that pack.

With all due respect to those of this opinion, I say bull shit.

I have raised over 50 litters of Blue German Shepherds since 1976 and I can say that without a doubt that the Mother is the highest ranked member of the pack, and she sets the rules for the rest of her litter, but when you take the Mother out of the picture and take a look at how the pups interact in her absence you will quickly see the beauty of the drive for pack rank in all its natural glory.

Note: If the Father of the pups is still around he will not usually take part in the up bringing of the pups.

That is one of the differences between dogs and wolves, in a wolf pack the Father is usually the Alpha and participates in the raising of his pups.


One of the tests I perform to determine the temperament of my pups is to toss a high value food reward like raw chicken or a pork chop in the pen with the pups and watch as they jostle, push, snarl, growl, snap, and bite to determine who is going to get and keep the prize.

The pup that pushes and bites the hardest and has the most confidence in his or her abilities will get the prize and rise to the top of the pack hierarchy and solidify their ranking in the family pack.

This struggle for pack rank continue throughout the life of the dog, even when they are taken home with a person they immediately begin to test and search for their rank in the new family pack.

If you already have dogs at home they have established their ranking and when a new member is added you will see them jostle and test to determine the new ranking order. While dogs are intelligent enough to know that people are not dogs that does not stop them from trying to find their place in the family unit, and to them, people are a part of the pack.

Dogs and Wolves Love To Dig

Wolves love to dig digging, they can dig a hole big enough for a 6 foot man to hide in.

Dogs and wolves dig holes for various reasons here a few of them.

  • wolves dig holes to prepare a den for the upcoming new litter as would a dog if they had no other option.
  • both dogs and wolves dig because it`s fun.
  • dogs and wolves dig to un-earth small rodents, rabbits, or roots that are edible.
  • dogs and wolves get bored and dig to alleviate the boredom.
  • dogs and wolves dig holes to keep cool, the earth is a very efficient air conditioner.

Dogs and wolves are both territorial

For a wolf being territorial is very important to the survival of the pack. They will guard their territory with their lives. Often because resources are limited ( food and mates) sometimes a wolf will run off or kill another wolf or dog for trespassing on territory they have marked as theirs. Some people think that a wolf will mate with feral dogs but this is a myth, a dog would be viewed as a threat or a meal, in either case they would most likely be killed.

Dogs and wolves are destructive

Intelligence and curiosity are the reasons why dogs and wolves love to tear apart everything they see. By the age of three months they want to find out what that thing is made of, and will use their teeth and paws with great intensity. You can train a domesticated dog not to do this, but you cannot train a wolf to stop this behavior, and it would be very wrong to try.

Dogs and wolves love to howl

There are many reasons why dogs and wolves howl, here are a few of them.

  • They are grieving the loss of a pack member.
  • They are preparing for a hunt, or celebrating a successful kill.
  • They howl to alert other pack members of a threat.
  • They howl because it’s fun.
  • They howl because of reasons we know nothing about.

Dogs and wolves are possessive

Both animals will guard what they perceive to be of great value, usually food. They will guard that object with force if need be, until they have no further use for it. When one of my pups becomes possessive, I always use what I call, “give me that and I will give you this”. For example if my dog is guarding a bone that has no meat on it, I will offer him a piece of tasty chicken or steak in exchange for the bone. The dog will gladly give me the bone, it’s a win-win situation.

If you liked today’s post on what is the difference between dogs and their cousins the wolf,  you can let me know by liking my Face Book Page, River Valley Dog Training, or better still why not subscribe to my blog so you never miss one of my exciting and informative

all the best.








dog running





I am sure it has happened to many of us, you are out for a walk with your dog and suddenly he bolts out of your grasp and heads off down the road at top speed, or your having a great day at home and before you know what happened your dog runs past you and straight out the open door. Do You know what to do if your dog runs away from you? If your like most dog owners you immediately take off after them on a dead run.

You might not know it but when you follow your instincts which tell you to chase after your dog, you are only making the dog run faster and farther.You see when you chase your dog, he will interpret this in one of two ways.
1- He will see this as a game of catch me if you can, and usually you can’t.

2- He will become afraid of you and run even harder to keep away.

When you give in to your instincts to chase a run away dog, you not only put the dog in danger,.( he might run into traffic and get killed,) you also put your self in danger.

The best thing to do is to resist your instinct to chase him, and do the opposite, just lie down on the ground. That’s right, lie down. Your dog will see this as very odd behavior, and will become curious about what is going on and come to see if you are all right, and this gives you the opportunity to grab his collar.

Another thing you can try is running in the oppostite direction, your dog will most likey chase you to see what is so much fun. Or at the very least be curious enough about your peculiar behavior that he follows you somewhere you can catch him easily.

If your dog is eager to go for car rides you can open the car door and tell your dog “Let’s go for a drive!” They will ususally hop right in.

This is not a guarantee that your dog will come to you, but it is better to act in counter-intuitive manner, and let curiosity get the better of your dog. I have used this method and I can tell you that it does work. Now that you know what to do if your dog runs away from you,the next time it happens you will be better prepared to deal with it.

That’s all for now

Good luck and keep training


dog eating

Sometimes we just assume that our dogs are getting the nutrients they need to be healthy, feeding them as we have always fed our dogs, with a bag of food we got off the shelf at our local grocery store. Sadly that assumption can lead to your dog’s early death. I decided to help you answer the question of  what should you feed your dog?

The reality is, your dog has very specific nutritional needs that are a lot like ours. If you don’t fulfill them, your dog can have digestive issues, or even get sick.

Giving your dog scraps from the table is not good for your dog, most things are high in the kind of fats that will only make your dog overweight and do nothing for his health. It is best to never give your dog our food, and keep the fat content to a minimum.

In the wild a dog would get nutrients from fresh kills, berries, roots, grass, and small insects like grasshoppers. Unfortunately store-bought dog foods do not have a balance of these thing so it is important to supplement your dog’s diet.

If you are using a dry corn-based food I can tell you it is not doing the job. You will need to give your dog some chicken or beef to ensure they are getting enough protein, organic is best to reduce the amount of  chemicals your dog is ingesting.  Even though dogs are carnivores they can benefit greatly from some vegetables and fruit, like apples in their diet. The best advice is to consult with your vet to make sure you don’t give your dog fruits that may harm him.

Fish is good, as long as you make sure there are no bones in it. Eggs are also a good source of protein and the kind of fatty acids that are good for your dog’s health

You should only feed your dog twice a day, and depending on the size of your dog, 1-2 cups per meal is adequate to maintain a healthy dog. Giant breed dog’s may require a bit more. Additionally, you should set regular times to feed your dog, don’t just fill the bowl and leave it on the floor, this will only encourage your dog to eat more, thus gain weight.

Make your dog work for his food, have him do some obedience training, go for a walk first, or provide mental stimulation, by making him sit and wait before he eats.

These are just some tips on what you should feed your dog, and I have only scratched the surface, I hope this will encourage you to read the labels on the food you buy for your dog, or better still, do some research on how to cook nutritious  foods for your dog.

Make a conscious effort to learn more about what it is you are feeding your dog, and understand that it does have a direct effect on how long and well they will live.

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