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Stay In Your Own Lane… and Wear Your Muzzle

Stay In Your Own Lane… and Wear Your Muzzle

Think that social media is really heating up these days? That in fact some people truly have zero filter behind a keyboard? That Facebook/Instagram/TikTok/Twitter/news may even be toxic, causing more harm than good? Y’all haven’t been in the dog world the past decade online, have ya? I will admit though, beyond the regularly scheduled programming of dog and dog training drama, we are becoming a nation of nasty.

What does the title mean? Before you go blow up someone’s Facebook post, ask yourself your intent. These are hard times. If you say they aren’t, how proud do you really have to be? What are you trying to prove? Be hopeful, yes. Call a stranger you never met before a curse word over the internet… no. Are you confident on the issues you’re speaking on? Have you actually trained thousands of dogs yourself? Are you being polite? Would you want your parent to read your response on that thread… your child? Are you proud of what you said?

Stay in your own lane.

And the second half, when I say muzzle, I don’t mean mask. I’m happy the president is wearing one now, but I smile at everyone I pass in public under my mask whether they are wearing one or not. Do you see how some of these employees are being treated who are required to ask customers to wear a mask? Did you see the video of the woman spraying mace on a couple and their food for eating outdoors without masks? What is going on? By muzzle, I mean control yourself.

And why muzzle these poor abused racing dogs? Because they have drive. Because they could go off on each other at a moment’s notice. But they are wearing muzzles so they can safely play the game they want to play… the game they need to play. Where is your muzzle? And why aren’t you wearing it? Another reason these dogs wear muzzles is because they have thin skin. It’s a well known fact that Whippet and Greyhound skin is basically as strong as a high grade paper stock at Staples. Which brings up an even better point, if you yourself have thin skin, it’s even more important to wear your muzzle around others who could potentially have even thinner skin than you!

Am I saying be silent? No! So many dog people are careful about not saying something online because of too much backlash. So many dog people say way too much online. Why are strangers asking other dog owners how they could even be friends with a balanced trainer? Sexist remarks were recently made at a dock diving event. Racist remarks often pop up on various threads. There is a difference between freedom of speech and polite and productive conversation.

And in that same vein… scrolling by works too. Or asking a thoughtful question but then don’t turn that into a pissing match. Do I unfollow people, YES! Do I unfriend people, not often. Do I delete threads and comments when they get heated, no. Do I post disclaimers like, “If you bring up xyz, your comment will immediately be deleted,” never. Similarly, if we never speak, please don’t write me to let me know that one of our mutual Facebook friends said something or did something and suggest I unfriend them. I don’t have to support what that person did, but I can make my own choices for my own friends list. Tunnel vision works great for these dogs pictured above in this moment; tunnel vision isn’t going to help us progress as a nation. Observe what other people are saying. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do as a trainer? Observe behavior?

Social media can also be amazing! You can connect from afar with friends and family. Sometimes you get an awesome recommendation for a show (cough… Suits). I personally love clicking on a hot topic post and watching someone express themselves eloquently rather than meanly. I have even written a few people on Facebook to thank them for their consistent controlled candor. Sometimes you scroll past something funny… or inspiring. Sometimes you find something you can truly connect with. But, ask yourself, are you connecting with angry or sarcastic (or insert your own feeling here)? Or are you being intentional?

We have drivey dogs. I would bet if they all lived in the same house with another family, some of them might have to be muzzled. There are a select few dog savvy folks who could manage our pack, but a large majority of these so called competent trainers seem to be most confident behind their keyboards. When someone gets judgmental on Facebook about dog training, I would love to have a few stats next to their name. One interesting stat would be, how many dogs have you trained- not just personal dogs but you actually held that dog’s leash and assisted in its training? Another one could be, how many aggressive dogs have you trained or rehabilitated? These are baiting questions, so I rarely ask them, but why did you specifically feel the need to unnecessarily step in here? We own a Malinois titled in French Ring, Border Collies that are tightly spun, difficult rescues, and we have a 13-year-old Pomeranian who absolutely runs the show. She keeps me on my toes more than I ever realized a 3 pound dog was capable, and she was actually just featured on our podcast yesterday with a live animal communication reading with Joan Ranquet if you want to check her out!

Our dogs are a lot. But they are wonderful. They are quiet. They can settle. They listen. They are incredible workers. They are sweet. They complete us. Is your house quiet? Are your dogs social? Can you groom each of your dogs yourself? Do you trust your dogs off leash? Can your dogs walk on a loose leash on flat collars only? Do they settle in crates? Do they settle on beds? Can they stay on their beds when guests come? Can they sleep in the bed? Can they go a day without exercise and not be on the verge of a complete breakdown? I’m not saying that you have to check every box here or that this necessarily is the best comprehensive list to work from… but think before you type speak.

Some of this may sound sharp. Some of this needs to be said. Life is too short. Why are you unnecessarily criticizing that dog’s structure publicly? One of my Facebook friends posted the other day she is literally changing breeds because of the drama in her current breed. There are people who critique world class movie trainers. Why? Because of the fallout of showing the public something? I’d like to see footage of the last time a random stranger ruined its puppy’s hips because they trained it to jump rope too young. If you don’t agree with something for your own dogs, fine… move on! If you often find yourself only using the angry or laughing emoji (more sarcastically than literally), maybe ask yourself why. How are you contributing? How are you feeling? Are you making someone else feel bad in the process? Are you really just being an ass? And if your response is, “Who cares… Trump is an ass!” How are you any better?

Stay in your own lane. Wear your muzzle. Don’t be an ass. And try to repeat. And then, if you’re going for extra credit, be grateful. All this change you preach about starts with you- in relation to dog training and the world. I’m going to close with this passage below that we read before morning meditation today:

This Brief Lifetime

“How are we going to spend this brief lifetime? Are we going to strengthen our well-perfected ability to struggle against uncertainty, or are we going to train in letting go? Are we going to hold on stubbornly to ‘I’m like this and you’re like that?’ Or are we going to move beyond that narrow mind? Could we start to train as a warrior, aspiring to reconnect with the natural flexibility of our being and to help others do the same? If we start to move in this direction, limiting possibilities will begin to open up.”

-Pema Chödrön

Stay well.

<3, Jess

Where Do We Go From Here?

Where Do We Go From Here?

It’s hard to find a common ground these days among dog owners. Whether you are an R+ trainer, a canine officer, a Furmom, a rescue volunteer, a Bully breed advocate, etc., where do we come together anymore? Can we just start at least at the fact that you consider yourself a dog person? That definition meaning you like dogs and likely the best part of your day is coming home and hanging out with your dog? That you love your dog?

I’ve been around the dog world for over 30 years. And Scott has known a culture of dogs for another 20 years before that. The answer when he was young used to be that if the dog growled at the kid, he got thrown outside for the night. When I was growing up, everybody went to obedience class with a choke chain and leash and the AKC CD exercises were the entire class. I just found a test sheet that reminded me of this from an old memory box the other day. How have things changed SO DRASTICALLY in the past decade alone? We can’t blame Trump for this one!

Where did the trend start? Inbred Doodles? Puppy mills? Purely positive? Medication? The billion dollar pet industry? I don’t think there’s necessarily one culprit nor does it really matter how we ended up where we did, but where do we go from here? In the dog world, we are SO QUICK to cut each other down. Why? Why are we NEVER on the same team anymore? We judge… genetics, owners, trainers, behaviorists, competitors, tools, protocols. And yet most of those casting judgement have very little control of their own dogs in a public setting.

When it comes to referring to positive trainers, people will often use the phrase, “They are drinking the kool-aid.” What about the owners who aren’t even training at all- who literally have the kool-aid pack and pitcher of water on the counter and don’t even ever mix the two together much less drink it? There’s a big difference between a dog owner whose dog pulls her down the street and a dog owner who pushes her dog in a stroller. And there’s an even bigger difference between the first two groups and the dogs that walk nicely down the street not bothering others trained in either camp. But that dog is few and far between these days.

Kendall Jenner gets berated for having a pinch collar on her dog and yet there are other dogs attacking humans everyday on the street. Strangers. Runners. Dogs that were muzzled but still out of control and broke free. If you aren’t training pet dogs in this day and age on a regular basis, you have zero business commenting on aggression issues or anxiety issues. Dogs, like kids, need structure. Structure comes from quiet time, from handling, from criteria, and from limiting movement for starters. Without structure, dogs unravel.

We ALL need to do better. To respect each other more. I’m frankly embarrassed sometimes by how volatile and ugly we can get as so called dog people. Again, aren’t we on the same team… the team that likes dogs and being around dogs- at least our own dogs? How can we respectfully bring light to some of these topics? How can we educate? Not just bitch, point fingers, and engage in name calling on Facebook threads like a bunch of kids on the playground.

Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar acceptance speech really resonated with a lot of people. He said, “And I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room because we share the same love, the love of [dogs] and this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life... And I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other.”

Everyone is an expert and no one wants guidance. Why? We blame vets for medicating everything that walks in the door. Did the owner want to train? Why would a breeder sell a puppy to an owner who is unwilling to train that dog? Did the owner potentially try training and it made zero difference? Should that dog not have left rescue in the first place? Why are breeders and rescues mandating how dogs should be handled in their new homes? What other option besides medication do vets have nowadays? Hell, almost 20% of humans are on some sort of mood altering drug!

Let’s start with some easy ones. We want healthy dogs in society. That’s on the breeders. We want safe dogs adopted into homes. That’s on the rescues. We want dogs to be more well behaved in society. That’s on the trainers. We want to better educate dog owners. That’s on the influencers. We all need to step up our game. We have to find a common ground. That common ground should be our love of dogs. And our love of dogs should include keeping them safe and having control over them at least to some extent.

I’m not trying to make this a why can’t we be friends post, but maybe think twice before going on the attack next time. How are we contributing to the greater good by automatically segmenting ourselves? Labeling others? Why does it matter how someone else trains their dog? Why do we seem to care more about dogs than we do about people? Maybe don’t let your sarcastic undertone be your first response next time you’re triggered. Maybe focus on action rather than words. Try to contribute in some way. We certainly can discuss some of these issues more productively. I’m afraid to see what dog ownership will look like in another decade at the rate we’re going. It’s changing so drastically so quickly. And not for the better.

Fear In Dogs

Fear In Dogs

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about fear in dogs. What causes your dog to be fearful and what can you do about it?

Topics discussed include:

• Dog tip of the day
• Fear can be genetic like noise sensitivity
• Service dogs need to be screened for fear issues
• Fear can be taught to your dog based on your actions and reactions
• Making a big deal out of things can reinforce your dog’s fears
• Fear and anxiety are two separate things that can be intertwined
• How you handle your dog’s fear can help improve the future behavior
• Younger dogs go through fear periods
• Don’t let the dog’s fear control their behavior
• Can prescription drugs help your dog with fear?
• If you don’t see results with your approach, try something else
• What is fear aggression?
• Fear is simply a distraction
• Tempering fear can be more productive than counterconditioning
• Jess and Scott talk about how they work through dogs’ fear of treadmills
• You can contact the show by email at studio@thequirkydog.com

Have you ever wondered why your dog behaves a certain way? Are there things you need help with or support? Join Scott and Jess Williams each week as they explore these and other topics.

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On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about what owners are doing that ruins their puppies. They identify 5 problem areas and what issues they may cause. Topics discussed…

5 Ways To Ruin a Puppy

5 Ways To Ruin a Puppy

5 WAYS TO RUIN A PUPPY

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about what owners are doing that ruins their puppies. They identify 5 problem areas and what issues they may cause.

Topics discussed include:

• Dog tip of the day
• Using pee pads delays housebreaking
• Jess and Scott talk about some of the issues they’ve seen using pee pads
• Carrying your puppy everywhere can lead to negative effects
• Be mindful of how you’re introducing your puppy to other people
• Improper puppy socialization can ruin your puppy
• Giving your puppy too much freedom can lead to behavior problems
• You shouldn’t let a puppy outside of your sight in the home
• Puppies need structure and routines
• Never leaving your puppy alone will ruin your puppy
• People working from home need to make sure their puppy still spends time alone
• You can contact the show by email at studio@thequirkydog.com

Have you ever wondered why your dog behaves a certain way? Are there things you need help with or support? Join Scott and Jess Williams each week as they explore these and other topics.

Podcast Available On

Follow Us

Why Water Intake Matters?

If your dog is always thirsty, it could be a sign of mental instability. When obsessive behaviors like drinking begin to control your dog, it’s important you intervene. There may be a hidden message in your dog’s drinking habits. 

Energy Healing Involving Your Dog

Energy Healing Involving Your Dog Dogs are extremely influenced by our emotions. If we are feeling slightly anxious, it is likely that our dogs will in turn display some anxious behavior as well. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a therapeutic treatment that uses...

The Story of Sarge

The Story Of Sarge My wife and I are lying in bed; it’s 6:30am. It’s the first morning that our old dog Sarge (a 13yr old Belgian Malinois) is not in bed with us. Every morning for the past few months, my wife, Jess, would check on Sarge around 5am, listening for...

You Can’t Outrun Crazy

Recently a young couple came into our facility with a high-energy hound mix. The dog was rescued in Tennessee and driven up to New England.  This is their first dog, and they want to provide him with the best care possible.  Every morning around 6AM, one of them...

The Importance of Handling Your Dog

Scott and Jess talk about how important it is for you to get your dog used to letting you handle them. This includes brushing, tooth brushing, nail clipping and other activities.

The Care of Senior Dogs

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about how to care for your senior dog. They discuss issues they have seen with older dogs and offer valuable advice about how to avoid and deal with the problems you may encounter.

Introducing A New Puppy Into A Household With Other Dogs

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about the steps to take when you bring a new puppy into your household that already has other dogs.

Be Grateful For What You Have Now

When I was a little girl, I grew up in a house with this puppy. She grew up with me and she eventually had my heart puppy. Also, admittedly, below is the likely the most swimming I've ever done in my life. As Tootsie's puppies grew up, I taught them to go up and down...

Dogs and Halloween

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about dogs and Halloween. What can you do to make sure your dog has a safe and peaceful Halloween? Our hosts offer some tips. Topics discussed…

5 Ways To Ruin a Puppy

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about what owners are doing that ruins their puppies. They identify 5 problem areas and what issues they may cause. Topics discussed…

Dogs and Halloween

Dogs and Halloween

DOGS AND HALLOWEEN

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about dogs and Halloween. What can you do to make sure your dog has a safe and peaceful Halloween? Our hosts offer some tips.

Topics discussed include:

• Dog tip of the day
• Trick or Treaters can trigger territorial dogs
• Noise diffusion can help to head off some of the aggression
• Crating your dog can help cope with Halloween chaos
• A visual barrier can also help with controlling your dog
• Keep dogs inside for Halloween night
• Costumes could also be confusing for the dog
• When you open the door for trick or treaters, you don’t know what’s on the other side, so you should keep your dog away from the door
• What about dressing my dog up?
• Be careful with pumpkins
• Watch your candy bowls and make sure the kids know they shouldn’t feed candy to the dog
• Is it OK to bring my dog Trick or Treating?
• You can contact the show by email at studio@thequirkydog.com

Have you ever wondered why your dog behaves a certain way? Are there things you need help with or support? Join Scott and Jess Williams each week as they explore these and other topics.

Podcast Available On

Follow Us

The Importance of Handling Your Dog

Scott and Jess talk about how important it is for you to get your dog used to letting you handle them. This includes brushing, tooth brushing, nail clipping and other activities.

The Care of Senior Dogs

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about how to care for your senior dog. They discuss issues they have seen with older dogs and offer valuable advice about how to avoid and deal with the problems you may encounter.

Introducing A New Puppy Into A Household With Other Dogs

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about the steps to take when you bring a new puppy into your household that already has other dogs.

Dogs and Halloween

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about dogs and Halloween. What can you do to make sure your dog has a safe and peaceful Halloween? Our hosts offer some tips. Topics discussed…

5 Ways To Ruin a Puppy

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about what owners are doing that ruins their puppies. They identify 5 problem areas and what issues they may cause. Topics discussed…

Fear In Dogs

On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about fear in dogs. What causes your dog to be fearful and what can you do about it? Topics discussed include: • Dog tip of the day • Fear can be genetic like noise sensitivity • Service dogs need to be screened for fear issues...