Monday, April 25, 2011

Doggie visitors

One of my favorite things about Zuko is he really is a pretty chill Shiba in some aspects. While he can be reactive on leash and has no tolerance for rude dogs, he doesn't get jealous of toys, he isn't food possessive, nor does he get jealous of his humans petting other dogs.

We are starving! Feed us already!

And this weekend we discovered he doesn't seem to care if polite dogs come into his home. We had a cookout and invited Tia to the house. Zuko and Tia have met up before, but there was a bit of tension that day because he first met her on leash. Later, in Tia's house, we found that Zuko is respectful of another dog's home and he even helped Tia guard the house when weird people went by.

So, he did know Tia, but he didn't even react when she came into the house. We brought her in through the backyard and then she came into the kitchen. Sniffing happened, then they became beggin' buddies immediately. Zuko was far more interested in the food the humans had then the fact that Tia was systematically dragging all of his toys out of his toy box and trying to get him to chase her. He didn't care that she was getting attention from all the humans (including his) and that she was getting treats. He was getting lots of attention himself and plenty of treats so it was all good.

He did steal a hotdog piece meant for Tia though - she missed it, it hit the ground, and Zuko was faster than her. ;-) Tia didn't mind.

-- Posted by Zuko's proud mommy

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

About Dog Parks - Again

Since I blogged about our challenges at our local dogpark, we since have had several successful visits to dogparks - both the local one and another up in San Francisco. Zuko met his half sisfur, Suki, in SF and had a good time. We've gone to the local park and had no issues several times.

And then today....

Obligatory Cute Photo of Zuko

Zuko and I headed over just before 5pm. I usually prefer not to go when it might be busy, but today it just was one of those things. As it turned out, the park wasn't really busy. However, there was one woman there who I've seen there once before. All her dogs seem lethargic and very ill. Last time I saw her, one dog kept vomiting and eating it's vomit (and then vomiting again) and she couldn't be bothered to get off the park bench and do something about it.

So today, everything was going well - lots of proper sniffing and good things. Then I noticed one of her dogs insisting on face-sniffing Zuko for very long periods of time. I was surprised how well he tolerated it, but I could see the lip start to curl. So I distracted Zuko with a ball (which he then ignored). Then out of the blue the same dog starts circling Zuko and barking at him. Zuko stood still and growled. The other dog kept barking and circling. Zuko started to snarl, but still didn't move. I stepped in and tried to get rid of the other dog and she just kept at it. I finally said "Who's dog is this???" and another lady (not the owner) comes and gets the dog.


As soon as the other dog left off, Zuko was fine. Raced off to play and pee on things. Meanwhile, the same woman has another dog who now is attacking another dog right by the bench. What does this woman do? Nothing. The other owner took her sheep dog and left.

Zuko was across the park and he and I stayed over there playing ball....and then comes the rude barky dog again, this time dragging a leash. She comes for Zuko and he again responds by being still and sending some serious messages to not f*ck with him. I pick up the leash and drag the barky dog back to the owner.

Again - seriously?

Out of sheer stubbornness, I stuck it out a bit longer at the park. Zuko was fine, the other dog was being held on leash and the second dog that attacked the sheep dog was too lazy to get far from the park bench. Finally, Zuko was tired and we leashed up and headed out. We had to pass the barky dog to get to the gate and she lunged for Zuko and started barking. Sigh.

My point of all this: all it takes is one bad owner. This woman had two dogs who irritated/aggravated/attacked two different dogs within the space of 30 minutes. There is clearly an issue here and this woman just didn't give a sh*t about it one bit.

Note to self: If I see her there, we are not going in the park. Period.

- Posted by Zuko's mom

Saturday, April 9, 2011

On-leash growly dog: Update

In the past, I was blogging about Zuko being snarly on-leash in some situations. We went to training classes, talked to the trainers at his daycare and really started working on keeping his focus on us when on walks.

"Leaping tall fences in a single bound"
When we moved out to the suburbs, things got easier overall. Zuko has his own yard now and while there are still a ton of dogs in the neighborhood, there are no sidewalks. This means people just walk along the street and you have plenty of room to avoid another dog if needed. I've also noticed *most* people seem more aware of their dogs and are more considerate than what we experienced in the city.

Finally I've be able to notice a pattern: Zuko is fine with smaller dogs as long as they are not reactive.  He also really, really likes white fluffy dogs. I have no idea what this is about, but he adores them. Bigger dogs ... this is where the issues sometimes start on leash. If a big dog runs up to him - he snarls. If a big dog sees him and is staring at him as they approach each other - he snarls. If the other dog on leash is a Shiba - he snarls.

That seems to be his pattern. Big dogs showing dominate body language and / or dogs that are already lunging and barking at him before they get within 20 feet of him. Funny enough, there are numerous barking, snarling chihuahuas around the Bay Area and Zuko tends to ignore them and not react, even when they are acting as if they want to rip his throat out. It's mainly the bigger dogs he's watching out for.

So what does this tell me? Zuko is very sure of himself and will stand up to dominate body expressions from other dogs. Which almost explains the reactions to Shibas on leash -- most Shibas have that super confident look all the time.

Off leash, Zuko is different. He only gets grouchy when he's tired and the other dog won't back off. I've seen him totally pwn-ed by a dog at the dog park and he got back up, shook it off and chased the dog for more playing.

I wish I could fully capture and understand the body language that is going on when dogs are on leash that causes the dominate body postures and / or reactions in dogs. I feel like I've gotten a glimmer of it, but so much of it is subtle and we humans probably just can't even see it.

-- Posted by Zuko's mom

Monday, April 4, 2011

Doggie Weekend and Dog-park Success!

Thank you everyone who commented on my post about dog-parks. We journeyed out this weekend on some crazy adventures: one of which was to meet Zuko's half-sister Suki at a dog-park.

Zuko and Suki - brofur and sisfur
At the dog-park, Zuko was super chill with everyone. He sniffed and allowed himself to be sniffed and generally nothing happened. In fact, we and Suki's parents were all like "you guys are SO BORING!" Here is the irony: Zuko sniffed every dog in the park EXCEPT Suki for about the first half hour. Then, when there were hardly any other dogs left, they finally started sniffing each other. Maybe it is a family thing?

It was a warm day in San Francisco and Zuko was tired from the day before, so they really didn't play much together, but by the end they were Shiba-strutting together on leash and Suki tried to get Zuko to play a bit before she crashed out. (See the video).


Zuko and Suki ran into each other before we got to the dog park and in typical fashion, there was on-leash growling. Zuko has never met a Shiba on-leash without there being snarling and growling (usually on both sides) but as soon as the leashes are off ... the issues are gone. Zuko's dad took him to work one day where he met another Shiba and they both growled at each other. Leashes off -- "oh! Let's play now! Yeah!"

Go figure.

Day one of the weekend was a meet-up with a rescue dog named Tia. She is mostly Taiwanese mountain dog and much bigger (and much more energetic) than Zuko. Unfortunately, we tried to let them meet up off-leash but I didn't get Zuko's leash off fast enough and Tia ran up to him -- and he told her to "back the f*ck off". Tia has good doggie manners and she did back off and gave him his space. When we got them both to Tia's house, things were fine. Zuko pretty much ignored Tia until a weird person went by the front of the house - then they BOTH barked and ran to the gate to defend the house. I mean, how adorable is that? After that they seemed to relax more with each other and when the cheese came out they were begging buddies.

A bit later there was some more snarling, but mainly because Tia wanted to play and Zuko didn't. Again, it was a "back the f*ck off" snarl, not a "I'm going to kill you" snarl and we all knew it. I just find it so ironic that Zuko is the one telling other dogs off now. When he was a pup he was the rambunctious one who needed to be moved from one play group to the other at daycare because he wore out all the dogs!

So what did we learn?

  • Not all dog-parks are evil. 
  • Shiba on-leash + Shiba on-leash = Snarling.
  • Shibas off-leash = ignoring each other mostly. Unless it is cool weather, then we might get some playtime. 
  • Being rushed by a bigger dog when he is on-leash is a trigger for Zuko to get snarly. 
That last one I've been noticing for some time and will post another entry on the on-leash habits I've been observing over the past few months. 

-- Posted by Zuko's Play-date Organizer

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My sisfur and me!

Today I gotz to hang out with my sisfur, Suki. She's famous from the "52 weeks of Suki" by her dad.

We totally ignored each other most of the time, in true Shiba Royalty Fashion. But hey, it was hot in SF today and poor Suki haz allergies. It happens.

By the end, we were totally Shiba-strutting together. We iz family!

-- Post by Prince Zuko!