Summer Dog Safety 101 with Canine Authority Jeff Franklin

Summer poses a lot of potential concerns for dog owners. Canine authority Jeff Franklinhas answers to common questions dog owners will have this season– such as how to train a new puppy, keep a dog cool in the heat, what to do during Fireworks, and what happens if your dog gets into fight at the dog park (and should you even take your dog there in the first place?)

Franklin is owner of Cobra Canine and has worked with over 10,000 pet dogs and families. He gives dogs and their owners a new leash on life and turns pets with behavioral issues into family assets. His memoir by Matthew Duffy, Franklin: The Man Behind the United States Commando Dogs, offers an exhilarating look into his fascinating career as the pioneer behind Elite Working Dogs trained for the United States Military. 

How can I cool down my dog from the summer heat?  
We may like to get out and do fun things in the summer sun and heat, but rarely is this the case for dogs. By nature, dogs prefer not to be in the sun and heat for extended periods of time (most are wearing a fur coat). If you do take your dog out, find areas of shade, use an umbrella or awning, spray them with a water hose, let them swim in the pond or play in kiddie pools. Most importantly, always provide clean drinking water and keep the exposure time short.

What can we do to keep our dogs safe and feeling secure during July Fourth fireworks?
I certainly would not have a new dog or puppy at an event with fireworks without some knowledge of how it will affect them. My personal preference, although my dogs are fairly neutral to noises, is to keep them away from fireworks and the shenanigans that go along with them. I do not believe that there is a benefit for the dogs to be around these events. Not to mention the loud noises cannot be good for their hearing. There are much better events where I can socialize and exercise my dogs. 

Are dog parks a good place to socialize?  
Dog parks are not an ideal place to socialize our dogs. The benefits don’t outweigh the negatives. We have no way to control other people’s dogs, fights and or inappropriate behaviors that can have negative long-lasting effects and can happen fast. We don’t know that all the other dogs are up to date with vaccines, either. Instead, choose to socialize your dog with other dogs that you know and when you can control the scenario in case there is an issue.  

Also consider this – you didn’t get your dog to be buddies with other dogs.  Sure, you want her to behave around other dogs, but she should focus on you.

What should I do if my dog gets into a fight at the dog park? 
Dog fights can be tough to deal with if it is truly a full-on fight. Luckily, the majority of dog altercations start off slowly and in this case we, as owners, need to step in quickly to separate the dogs. Even if they do not have a leash or collar on, I physically grab them. I have also done things like pick up the smaller dog, or the least aggressive one, or threaten the aggressor. (Most of the time there is one dog that starts the fight.) When a dog is off leash, fighting can sometimes be hard to control because the dogs will be moving around quickly. When we find a dog on its back getting attacked by the dog on top, we need to stop the fight fast because a lot of damage can happen in a very short time. Most times, getting the dog on top off will allow the bottom dog to “escape.” In some cases, though, the fight may not be over since the bottom dog will want some pay back. 

I have been on walks, runs, or hikes with my dog on leash and in control when she has been pursued, attacked, or threatened by an off leash out-of-control dog. Often times there is a human nearby screaming like a maniac (not helping anything). In these cases (to date thankfully) my dog has not been physically grabbed because I always put myself in between her and the other dog(s). Sometimes the strange dog is just curious or playful and sometimes aggressive. Either way, I stay in between them just in case. I have at times picked her up as well to keep the separation….and yes, I have been bitten using this method, so be careful. But for me, I would rather take the chance or the bite than let my dog get bitten.

How can I train my dog to walk properly on the leash on walks or hikes? Is it ever OK to let my dog off leash? 
We teach loose lead control from the beginning with all of the dogs we work with. There are many ways to do this to include training collars and/or treats. The one thing for sure is that this rule must be consistent. Dogs do horrible if today we say you have to have a loose lead and tomorrow we let them pull for ‘any’ reason. I have dogs off leash all the time. Of course, they are well-trained with or without distractions present (other dogs, animals, people, etc). Giving my dogs the freedom to run, play and stretch their legs is an essential part to their day. When it is possible to do this off leash stuff in an enclosed area is often best depending on the level of training the dog has.  

What should I do if my dog gets a tick? How do you properly check for ticks?  
There are tools designed to remove ticks and if I have one with me I use it. If not, I pull the tick off myself. It is important to make sure the head of the tick is removed and keep an eye on the location for several days to ensure there is no swelling or infection. If I do see anything that looks out of the ordinary, I take the dog to the veterinarian ASAP. After time outside with our dogs, we do a tail to nose check. We are not just looking for ticks, but anything else that may be wrong, like a splinter or cut. I teach “from tail to nose” because I want to check against the grain of the hair to try not to miss anything. Different hair lengths and types can make this easier or harder. 

Summer is a great time to get a new puppy. What are the best breeds for families?  
Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Beagle, Whippet, Collie, Poodle, Vizsla, German Shorthaired Pointer are some of my favorites, but don’t rule out the mutts as there are many great ones that need homes.

How do you house train a puppy?  
House training is much more than just teaching a puppy where to relieve themselves. Puppies have to be taught everything about our human world. So many people don’t think about the fact that puppies have no clue about our homes or human ways unless we teach them. Unfortunately, people often assume the puppies will teach themselves or automatically know how to live in the house while they are away and that is just silly. We need to teach them manners, commands, tricks, appropriate play for indoors and much more. Some keys are: supervision (watch like a hawk); safe confinement, even if you’re not able to watch the puppy for 30 seconds (that’s a long time for a puppy); consistency; and positive re-enforcement. No “rubbing her nose in it” business when the puppy makes a “mistake.”

What are must-have essentials when getting a new dog?  
High quality food such as Royal Canine or Eukanuba, crate, leash, collar, and appropriate toys (nothing the dog can ingest). Don’t forget the poop bags.

Top photo: Bigstock