Category Archives: stray dog

How Trust and Love Can Change a Dog

By Linda Cole

I have to admit, I’m an advocate for any stray dog or cat – even the ones with aggression issues. I believe pets deserve a second chance when they’ve been lost or cast aside by their owners. Unfortunately, many aggressive shelter pets will never be adopted. But sometimes the right person comes along who makes a difference in an aggressive dog’s life. With trust, patience, respect and love, one person can create small miracles and move mountains. We can change the plight of stray pets, one animal at a time, as long as we don’t give up on them. It’s worth the time to unravel a troubled mind in order to save a soul. I have worked with both an aggressive dog and cat, and that’s one reason why I was drawn to the story I’m about to share with you.

When a stray dog shows up in a neighborhood or at a local shelter, we don’t know what they went through living on the streets. Their history is unknown and we have no idea if they were mistreated, abused or became aggressive while on the streets in order to survive. When a dog shows aggression, his behavior is often viewed as a lost cause and he’s put down. Most people won’t deal with an aggressive dog because they don’t know how to help him, or simply don’t want to deal with trying to change the dog’s behavior. A woman named Heike Munday saw something special in an aggressive dog and rescued her from certain death.

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Teaching Kids How to Approach an Unfamiliar Dog

By Linda Cole

When I was a kid, old enough to know better, I saw a dog chained to a parking meter. The owner was nowhere in sight. Kids raised with dogs have a tendency to view all dogs like their pet at home. That’s exactly what I did. As I approached the dog, it lunged at me and I had to jump back to avoid getting bit. It was a good lesson to learn. Kids can learn how to look at a dog and understand what the dog is telling them before they approach it. A child is more at risk for dog encounters because of their small size. A more aggressive dog isn’t as intimidated by a child as they are with adults.

It’s just as important to teach your children what to do when meeting an unfamiliar or stray dog as it is to teach them what to do if a stranger approaches them. Dogs are everywhere and sooner or later, kids will find themselves face to face with an unfamiliar or stray dog. The dog could be a family or friend’s pet, a dog in the back of a truck or a stray dog who’s trying to find his way back home.

Teaching kids how to read a dog’s body language is their best defense. Most dogs mean us no harm and they are experts at reading our body language. If a child shows fear or aggression towards the dog, it can lead to an unwanted and unnecessary confrontation, even if the dog and kid know each other.

Avoid direct eye contact with an unfamiliar or stray dog. Teaching kids how to look at a dog is as important as understanding the dog’s body language. To a dog, direct eye contact is perceived as a challenge. It’s alright to keep an eye on it, but don’t stare. If a stray dog starts to walk towards you, walk away from the dog, but do keep an eye on him to see what he’s doing. Even a friendly dog can bite if we give wrong signals.

Never run away from a dog, because running will activate his prey drive. A friendly stray may give chase because he wants to play, but it can be frightening to a child or adult when a dog is chasing them. Don’t kick at them or try to push them away with your hands. Teach kids to stand completely still with their arms held straight down next to their body if a stray dog approaches them outside. Stay calm and try not to tighten up because the dog can tell if we’re frightened. Most dogs will give a few sniffs and then be on their way if they’re completely ignored.

If knocked down by a stray dog, curl up in a ball with your hands over your head and remain still and quiet. Excitement from us will create excitement in the dog. The best way to keep a situation under control is by staying in control and remaining calm.

Enter a home with a dog as if there is no dog. Even if there’s a comfortable and safe relationship between kid and dog, the dog should be ignored until the greetings are over and everyone has calmed down. Dogs get excited when company arrives and the best time to give them attention is when everyone’s in a relaxed state of mind. Encounters with dogs happen because we don’t always understand them. They have days when they aren’t feeling up to par, just like we do.

When meeting someone’s dog who is unfamiliar to them, kids should be taught to always ask before approaching the dog. It’s only natural for kids to want to pet and play with a dog. However, even laid back, friendly dogs don’t always like having a child pull on their ears. Injuries can be avoided with one simple rule. Never try to pet a dog you don’t know. Dogs react the only way they can and will use a growl and bite, if necessary, as a warning to us to leave them alone.

Teaching kids how to approach an unfamiliar or stray dog, even if it looks friendly and is wagging its tail, can help protect them from negative dog encounters. As long as they aren’t threatened by us, most dogs will leave us alone. A stray dog doesn’t know we want to help them and we don’t know what they may have been through while living on the streets. A stray dog can be defensive, fearful or friendly depending on how it’s been treated by people it has met along the way. Teaching kids how to look at a dog and understand the dog’s body language is your child’s best defense when meeting an unfamiliar or stray dog.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Approach an Unfamiliar Dog


By Linda Cole

Most dog attacks happen because people don’t know how to approach an unfamiliar dog. Because our own pets are comfortable with us, we sometimes forget that dogs who don’t know us as well (such as those belonging to our family and friends), may not accept our advances. Stray or lost dogs don’t know we want to help them and are cautious to the point of running away or snarling, and possibly attacking if we get too close. Approaching an unfamiliar dog has pack rules that need to be adhered to, and a knowledge of the dog’s body language as well as our own.

There are two main reasons people may be attacked or bit by strange dogs. The first one is human nature. If confronted by a dog who is snarling and intimidating, most people, especially children, have an impulse to turn and run. A situation has been created that some dogs take as prey fleeing and they will give chase. A child is more vulnerable to a dog attack because of their smaller size.

The other reason is that when visiting family or friends, we may react to their dogs as we do our own. A dog’s sense of social order actually puts us at a disadvantage when we don’t understand we are the stranger coming into their home. Our best protection when we approach an unfamiliar dog is to establish a role of pack leader as soon as the meeting begins. Children can also be taught to assume a leadership role.

It’s important to enter a home with a dog calmly. Give no attention or eye contact to any dog as you enter their home – even if you know the dog. This signals to them you are a pack leader. Once greetings have been exchanged with the dog’s family and the dog has calmed down and sorted out the new scents you brought with you, then it’s time to greet the dog. If a dog is barking or jumping up on you, turn to the side and ignore them. Pushing them down with your hands can be interpreted as a signal you want to play. Children need to stay calm to avoid exciting the dog. Sudden movements toward the animal and loud noises will raise a dog’s excitement level.

Approach an unfamiliar dog from his side or at his eye level. Never try to pet the head area and never greet them from the top. Hold out a fist and allow the dog to sniff your hand. Then slowly pet them on the side or back. Watch their body language. If the dog is stiff, has his ears laid back or has glaring eyes, it may be wise to just leave him alone until he’s gotten to know you better.

Avoid petting a dog who is chained up, in a car or pickup bed, or in a pen. Most dogs will protect what they believe is theirs and that includes a car, yard or even a parking meter their owner tied them to while they are in a store or business.

Extreme caution must be adhered to in any encounter with stray or injured dogs. Approaching an unfamiliar dog who is lost or a stray can be more challenging. These animals may be more fearful and can be more aggressive. I encounter dogs in my neighborhood all the time. Usually, they are my neighbor’s dogs who managed to break out of their enclosure and are making their rounds. These dogs know me quite well and dutifully follow me back to their home.

Remember two rules to follow if approached by an unfamiliar dog outside. First, never run. Stand as still as a rock with your arms against your side. If the dog comes up to you, allow it to sniff you. Second, stay calm and avoid looking directly into his eyes. Understanding a dog’s body language can help you determine if a dog should be left alone or if you can help him. If a dog is telling you to stay away with barks and snarls, take his word for it and back away slowly, avoiding direct eye contact.

Children should be taught to never approach an unfamiliar dog, ever. If they see a lost or stray dog, teach them to back away slowly and calmly and then find an adult who can better handle the situation. Most lost dogs just need a helping hand getting back home. We need to be understanding as well as knowledgeable enough to know if a dog is dangerous. Usually, they are just looking for a little help from someone who can give them a hand.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What To Do With a Stray Dog


By Ruthie Bently

Has this ever happened to you? You’re traveling on a country road, a busy interstate or even at your favorite store and you see a dog without their human owner. What do you do? First of all, if you decide to approach this dog, do so with caution. You don’t know how long it has been on its own, and it may have been traumatized by its experience. Though this may be someone’s four-legged baby and might be the most wonderful dog in the world under normal circumstances, it has sharp teeth and could be frightened by what it has been through so far.

A biscuit or a food item may be a good thing to have in your hand, as this will distract their focus and may also endear you to them. You should check to see if the dog has a collar, and hopefully tags as well. You can also check with any neighbors in the area to see if anyone has lost a dog. If you are uncomfortable taking the dog home, then contact the local animal shelter or humane society. Sometimes these are linked to the police department animal control unit. If you want to take the dog home, you should still contact the local shelter or humane society to let them know you found a dog. Giving them as complete a description as you can is important, as this will facilitate getting the dog home sooner.

If you take the dog home with you, they should be provided with food, water and a safe place to rest. Check the local papers every day for listings of a lost dog, as well as with local veterinarians. You can either keep the dog until the owner is found or take them to the shelter after 24 hours. However, if you take the dog to the shelter, check to see what their policies are on euthanasia as some have a seven day limit for keeping lost pets. Ask if they are a “no kill” shelter, and what will happen to the dog if they are not reunited with their owner within a week.

Do your best to make sure the dog gets home by hanging flyers, and place an ad in the local paper (many local papers offer free “found dog” ads). Also make sure the information gets to your local police department and vets, as well as those in the town where you found the dog (if it’s a different city than yours). Many dogs are micro-chipped now, so check with your local shelter or vet to see if they have a universal chip reader. This may also get the dog home sooner.

I had an interesting experience with a lost dog once. Though it took a bit of ingenuity, I was finally able to reunite the dog with his owner. It was early one Sunday morning at the store where I worked as pet department manager. A customer came in and mentioned there was a German Shepherd sitting by the front door. I went out to see the dog; it was waiting patiently so I thought he was waiting for his owner to come out of the store. He seemed friendly so I gave him a pat and went back to work. Little did I know, I would become more involved in this dog’s life.

I checked to see if he had tags on his collar, and he had a rabies tag but no name tag. While this was a bit of a setback, I knew I could still find his owner. You see, the rabies tag had the phone number of the county that issued it. I called the number, and with a bit of research they were able to give me the dog’s name and told me that his rabies vaccination was up to date, even though the tag had been issued more than a year before. Unfortunately the phone number she gave me for the owner was no longer valid, as he had moved since the dog was vaccinated.

The story still has a happy ending. Because I called the county that issued the rabies tag, they were eventually able to get in touch with the owner, and he and his dog were reunited. It turns out the dog lived in Wisconsin and was loaned to a friend in Chicago while his owner went out of town. The problem was the “babysitter” didn’t realize the dog’s commitment to his owner. I am a fan of Sheila Burnford’s book “The Incredible Journey,” and this dog must have been also. He got loose one day while on an outing with the babysitter and decided to go home.

This dog had a lot of heart and just wanted to go home to the person who loved him the best. And isn’t that what we all want in the end? Bless you and yours, be they two or four-legged.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.