Mike Deathe is an experienced and well respected dog trainer. But even the most experienced trainers and dog owners can make mistakes - as Mike found out recently. Fortunately for us, Mike Deathe relishes learning from his mistakes. He puts them on his blog and shares them with us at K9 Magazine.
As trainers, and parents of 7 and 10 year old kids, we learn about dogs and kids from their behaviour, by living life and learning from our mistakes. Today was no exception... My sons learned a valuable lesson this morning; and two of my dogs are licking their respective wounds.
This morning, like any other morning, my sons were doing their chores, taking the dogs outside to potty, getting Kongs ready for breakfast, and then the mistake: instead of bringing them in to eat, they decided to do kids stuff and forgot about feeding the dogs. My wife was working on the computer and I had run to the kennel to get some MRU Training product. You know life in action. Now, having the dogs together is not necessarily a bad thing, but as with life - the unexpected always occurs. Remember Murphy’s Law.
Turns out, two of our neighbour’s dogs got loose and guess where they headed? Right up to our dog run. If you weren’t already aware, when dogs get over-stimulated, they will sometimes lash out at whatever is closest. Voila - Penny our smallest (but in her mind, mightiest) lashed out at Lexi (our lab mix) and well…let’s say Lexi did not take this insolence kindly. Next thing you know, I have one dog with a puncture on the leg and the other with a small laceration on her shoulder.
Now, in terms of a dog fight, this would not be a considered a “really bad” dog fight, but it was still a very stressful situation for both the family and the dogs. What this does point out is a huge buga-boo about dogs owners that drives me nuts. Leaving dogs alone outside (in a run or backyard) for prolonged periods of time.
Let’s face it, dogs are social animals and they love being around us. By the way, they deserve no less. If you have a dog, or are planning on getting a dog, and are thinking about leaving them by themselves outside all day while you are at work or solely for your convenience, then a dog might not be the pet for you. They require your time and attention…period. Do you think my kids expected the neighbour’s dogs to get loose and then to be the catalyst to a dog fight? Of course they didn’t.
But as most of us have already learned - life (or the other four letter word) happens. Just like kids, dogs left unattended will result in something bad eventually. Not to mention, if we keep dogs with us and around us, WE control the situation. We can choose what behaviour to reward and what behaviour to correct or coach. Far too many people just deposit their dogs in the dog run or back yard, leaving them to their own devices, and then act shocked when something bad happens. In my case, the entire situation came to fruition in under an hour.
Am I mad at my sons? Of course not, they did not mean for the fight to happen, but unintentionally put an unforeseen chain of events in motion without realising it. Today was what many trainers refer to as a “teachable moment”. I sat down and let them know that the responsibility of owning dogs does not end when we want to listen to an IPod or play the Wii; it is a full time job. In the end, the dogs are OK (even if a little sore) and my wife and my stress levels are coming back down to normal, and all involved have learned to be more aware. The key to dog training, heck life in general, is to learn from mistakes and move on. So take heed…use my mistake to look at your own situation and adjust for success. I guess in the end, situations like this explain why I chose the name Keep it Simple Stupid for my dog training business.
About Mutz R Us
Muttz R Us was founded in 2009 by me and my wife Kate. Several years earlier I decided to quit my job as a district manager of an automotive care firm and became a stay at home dad. Kate worked for the Federal Government and was traveling up to three weeks a month. Between the two of us we decided one of us should take a step back so that someone was home with the kids. We have two boys, Donovan and Dylan.
Life went on, with me being Mr. Mom (my love and respect go out to all the stay-at-home moms and dads…it’s harder than it looks.) I told Kate “I’ve got to get a part-time job.” After 15 years of being in the workforce, I needed something besides game shows and soap operas while the kids were in school.
I took a part-time job at a national pet supply chain and before I knew it, I became a dog trainer. A passion was born. I have had dogs since I was four years old and currently my family owns four. We have three muttz, Penny, Lexie and Bear, and we also have a Purebred (yes, even I own a purebred.) Leonberger named Leo. She was adopted, just like my other three muttz. She is sight impaired with roughly 70% vision loss, which adds a different aspect to socialization and training for a dog.
I primarily train on weekends, which are the same two days the company I work for invites adoption groups into the store. I regularly saw the number of dogs and cats that never found a home. It made me wonder how many people actually realise the number of wonderful and viable pets that are wanting and needing loving homes.
We decided that "Adopt a Pet, Save A Life" should be our philanthropic motto. We paired that along with our desire to help animal organizations raise funds and came up with T-shirts to make fun of our Purebred cousins (remember, I own one too..), and "Ta Da.", Muttz "R" Us was born.