Category Archives: dog ownership

When a neighbour complains…

In my practice, I have met a few owners who have received complaints about their dog’s excessive barking.  Unlike the note seen below, most complaints in Christchurch seem to be made by people to Animal Control, which instigates a visit by an officer to your home.

your-dog-has-been-barking

It’s natural that a complaint will put you into a defensive mode, but being in that frame of mind often means you don’t handle the situation as well as you should.

Here’s my advice on how to constructively approach a barking dog complaint.

Be Considerate and Listen

Don’t get angry.

If a neighbour complains to you directly, listen to what they have to say.  Ask questions about the time of day that the dog is barking, length of time the barking lasts for, and understand the location of your section and proximity to the neighbour.

If the Animal Control Officer pays you a visit, pay attention to what they are saying and the steps they want you to take.  Don’t feel intimidated because they are a Council officer – ask questions to understand the scope of the complaint, and how much time you have to respond.

Be Empathetic

Put yourself in the position of your neighbour and show some empathy for their stress.  Particularly if you have a neighbour complain to your directly, try to build a bridge from the complaint to ways to solve the problem so both of you can remain happy.

Investigate

Ask your neighbour to keep a log book of the barking (I know that one of my clients had an Animal Control officer ask for this).  Make random visits to your home at off-hours to see if you can hear your dog barking.  To make this effective, park your car a couple of blocks away and walk to your property – your dog knows the sound of your car!

Check all of your fencing for security.  If your dog is being visually stimulated by activity over the fence, find ways to cover and reduce the gaps in your fence.

Keep Documentation – You Can Still Be Cooperative While Defending Yourself

I’ve seen situations where a neighbour is hard to satisfy and perhaps ultra-sensitive to barking.  When this has been the case, I’ve suggested that the owner take their dog to a day care centre on random dates.  When compared to their neighbour’s barking diary,  they can show that their dog was not on the property that day.  (This can be a very powerful defense in dealing with the Council.)

It may pay to seek the support of either an animal behaviourist or a dog trainer (there is a difference in scope of practice).  If you hire professional expertise, then provide receipts and a report to show along with any other evidence of what you have done to help decrease  your dog’s barking.

If you’ve reinforced your fencing to reduce your dog’s visual stimulation – take photos before/after.

dogs-at-fenc

The Animal Control section has the option of installing bark recorders, which can help you track the problem.  They can confirm (or not) the extent of the barking to validate a complaint.

The good news is that most barking complaints can be resolved, through management of your dog’s environment, focusing on the problem, and being constructive.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Cars and dogs threaten koalas in Australia

koala

Dogs could be banned from some south-east Queensland suburbs in a bid to protect at-risk koalas

Koalas in Queensland are under threat and the primary reasons are cars and dogs associated with urban development.  As the demand for residential development continues, the number of cars and dogs introduced into koala habitat increases.

According to the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, approximately 110 koalas are attacked and killed by dogs each year.

Unlike in New Zealand, where the problem is free-roaming domestic cats attacking birds, most attacks on koalas occur in the dog’s backyard when the koala roams into their territory, particularly after dark when koalas are most active.  That’s a major reason why researchers are suggesting that an outright ban on dog ownership in some areas may be required.

koala-mother-and-baby

Of particular concern is an area known as The Koala Coast which is located 20 km south-east of Brisbane and covers an area of 375 km2 around Redland City, some of Logan City and the south-east section of Brisbane itself.  It is regarded nationally as one of the most significant koala populations because of its size and genetic structure.

There’s a definite risk that koalas may face extinction.  While I love dogs, I also love koalas and Australia would lose out on biodiversity as well as a national icon which generates many tourist dollars.

Under a directive from Environment Minister Steven Miles, a panel of koala experts – University of Queensland’s Associate Professor Jonathan Rhodes, Central Queensland’s Dr Alistair Melzer and Dreamworld’s Al Mucci – have convened to recommend last-ditch efforts to stop koala extinction.

Of their efforts, Dr Melzer has said, “The reality is this is crunch time for the koalas of the Koala Coast at least. The measures that have put in place to date – although extremely well-meant – just haven’t worked. So a radical re-thinking is needed and that is what the minister has initiated.”

The panel has also noted that there will be winners and losers from initiatives to save the koala and that may very well be dogs and dog ownership in these areas.  A sobering thought I’m sure for our Australian neighbours.

Source:  Sydney Morning Herald

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Saving the whole family

As the Northern Hemisphere enters its hurricane season, it’s a useful time to review your plans for disaster preparedness regardless of your location in the world.

In New Zealand, as our seismic activity continues to make the news, it’s important to be ready regardless of season.  Things like refreshing your stored water supply, for example.  And if you don’t have a bottled water supply, get one!  This includes storing enough water for 3 days for you and your animals.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) distributed this video last year.  It outlines the things you need as a pet parent and not just things for dogs.  I have clients on lifestyle blocks with horses, for example.  Although I don’t know much about horse care, I can certainly understand the need to have harnesses and a trailer ready for evacuation.

The video mentions how to make a temporary dog tag out of a luggage tag. This may work for larger dogs, but is impractical for small breed dogs.

What I prefer is to have an old dog registration tag in my emergency kit.    It’s been covered with a blank label and I have a pen in the kit.

If we had to evacuate to a temporary location, I will write our contact details on this temporary tag.

I’m also a supporter of micro chipping, which is compulsory for dogs in New Zealand.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Burials with your pet

No one gets out of life alive – not us and not our pets.

But it can be problematic when one wants to be buried with their pet’s remains.  In many locations, this isn’t allowed.

A state Senate bill in New York is making its way through the legislative process that would allow cremated pet remains to be buried in human cemeteries.  In 2014, another regulation allowed pet cemeteries to accept human remains.

Cemetery

Assemblyman James Brennan of Brooklyn, sponsored the measure saying that with increased rates of pet ownership “has come a significant shift in the desire of New Yorkers to have their pets interred in their grave, crypt or niche.”

Source:  New York Post

 

Senior adults see benefits from dog ownership

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA) recommends that adults of all ages should engage in 150 or more minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Among adults 60 years of age or more, walking is the most common form of leisure-time physical activity because it is self-paced, low impact and does not require equipment.

Johnson and Dog - senior dogs

Rebecca Johnson and her team determined that older adults who also are pet owners benefit from the bonds they form with their canine companions. Photo by University of Missouri

Researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that older adults who also are pet owners benefit from the bonds they form with their canine companions. Dog walking is associated with lower body mass index, fewer doctor visits, more frequent exercise and an increase in social benefits for seniors.

“Our study explored the associations between dog ownership and pet bonding with walking behavior and health outcomes in older adults,” said Rebecca Johnson, a professor at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing in the Sinclair School of Nursing. “This study provides evidence for the association between dog walking and physical health using a large, nationally representative sample.”

The study analyzed 2012 data from the Health and Retirement study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration. The study included data about human-animal interactions, physical activity, frequency of doctor visits and health outcomes of the participants.

“Our results showed that dog ownership and walking were related to increases in physical health among older adults,” said Johnson, who also serves as director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at MU. “These results can provide the basis for medical professionals to recommend pet ownership for older adults and can be translated into reduced health care expenditures for the aging population.”

Results from the study also indicated that people with higher degrees of pet bonding were more likely to walk their dogs and to spend more time walking their dogs each time than those who reported weaker bonds. Additionally, the study showed that pet walking offers a means to socialize with pet owners and others.

Retirement communities also could be encouraged to incorporate more pet-friendly policies such as including dog walking trails and dog exercise areas so that their residents could have access to the health benefits, Johnson said.

Source:  University of Missouri media release

Pet friendly senior living

TigerPlace is a retirement community that helps residents care for their pets as both age.

Located in Colombia, Missouri, this retirement community offers one-floor living to make it easy for owners and pets to enjoy the outdoors.  And there’s on-site veterinary care!Senior gentleman and dog sitting on ground and posing in a park

Described as “pet encouraging” as opposed to “pet tolerating”, this facility even offers dog walkers for older residents who are finding it difficult to give their dog the exercise it needs.

This article in the Missourian gives greater insight into the facility and its value to its residents.  This includes following 90-year old Elizabeth Kennedy who lives at TigerPlace with her 12-year old Boston Terrier, Dolly.

The article mentions a growing trend for retirement communities to offer pet care and the  recognition and evidence that pets keep us living longer, more active, and happier lives.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

Responsibility

I’ve been to the supermarket today and, although I don’t have human babies, I purchased something from the baby aisle:

Nappy bags

I consider this purchase a badge of honour.  Nappy bags (diaper bags for those of you who live in the USA/Canada) are an excellent tool for picking up dog poo.  I just got 100 bags for only $2.15 (a much better price than purchasing special doggy doo bags from the pet store).

Sadly, I think I am in the minority when it comes to dog owners.  Or, at least that’s the way I feel.  Today, I took Izzy for a walk in a local park after going to the supermarket and I counted 4 piles of poo that owners had not picked up.

One of them was in a field used for cricket on the weekends.

It’s a sign that we have too many irresponsible dog owners in Christchurch.  And in today’s paper – Mike Yardley – a local commentator, agrees.  He laments the pitiful rate of enforcement by our Council and calls upon members of the public to name and shame.

If you see a dog owner blithely pretend their animal hasn’t just crapped all over the footpath – have a crack at them. Shame them into behaviour change, because the council probably won’t police it.

That’s fine – to a point.  When you feel safe to do so.  But we also need greater enforcement so people take dog-owning responsibilities seriously.  And we shouldn’t let the Council, which uses our taxes (rates and dog registration fees) to fund its activities, off the hook when it comes to its responsibility.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand