Karen Kelley~ K9 Training & Behavioral Consulting - Features
Karen Kelley - Balance Through Understanding
Choosing the Right Dog For You:
 There are a few things to consider when looking to bring a new dog home, here are a few of my simple steps to bring the right dog into your life. First if you already have a dog...allow them to meet a variety of new dogs so they can choose who they are comfortable with. Remember, never choose a dog simply because of their looks, learn what their energy level is, what grooming requirements that dog will need and how much training maybe required for you and your new dog.Always walk your new dog around the neighborhood before bringing it into the house, this helps to alleviate some stress as well as help you to set some early rules. Next, don't simply allow your new dog to have free run of the house, start them out in a small are or in a crate unless you are with them. Establishing rules from day one will make life simpler for both of you. Last but not least, remember that regardless how large your backyard is, a simple walk is what communicates leadership to your dog. Be patient with your new friend and provide him or her with some basic obedience and plenty of exercise....then spend the rest of your lives being at peace with each other. 
 
 
 
 
Spay or Neuter: Myth vs Reality
 
I believe that responsible dog owners want what is truly best for their dogs, therefore I want to address the issue of spaying & neutering. I have personally found that many dog owners are reluctant to have this procedure done for fear that it will change their dogs behavior or personality. So here are is where we start: at the forefront of this issue is the reality that pet overpopulation and euthanasia are an extreme reality in all cities and states across America, as well as in most countries around the world.
The reality is that in the United States there are seven puppies born for every one human. As a result, there are just not enough homes for these animals; therefore four to five million dogs and cats are euthanized every year across our country. Sterilizing (spaying & neutering) dogs has been hailed as the most effective method for pet population control; we all can help save lives by spaying and neutering our pet. If dogs can’t breed, they don’t produce litters of puppies that end up in animal shelters to be adopted or euthanized. There are far more dogs waiting for adoption in shelters and rescue organizations, than there are owners to adopt them. Currently it is estimated that over 56% of dogs entering shelters are euthanized every year. I believe that spaying or neutering your dog is an important part of responsible pet ownership without a doubt. Unaltered male dogs that are not able to mate experience frustration and stress, which can and often does lead to aggression. Unspayed female dogs attract unwanted attention every six months from male dogs wanting to mate with them. In my opinion from both a biological and psychological point-of-view, being spayed/neutered is the best thing for all of our dogs.
The on going myths about spaying and neutering dogs, and the high cost to have a dog sterilized have caused many people to avoid the procedures; but the fact is that sterilization makes your dog a better behaved, healthier pet and will save you money in the long run since it helps to avoid many health issues. Contrary to what many humans believe, dogs do not mourn their lost capability to reproduce; dogs reproduce solely to ensure the survival of their species--period. Sterilization overall also reduces the risk of incidence of a number of health problems that are difficult and often expensive to treat. In female dogs, it eliminates the possibility of developing uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the chance of breast cancer; some female dogs also experience false pregnancies and uterine infections that can be fatal. In male dogs the risk of prostate cancer is often greatly reduced; so by sterilizing your pet, your dog will live a healthier and longer life.
As for the expense, today across the United States there are enough low cost and/or free spay & neuter programs that this can no longer be used as an excuse! Even if these programs are not available in your area, the emotional distress and money spent on medical treatments you will save down the line makes it an investment that will be worth every penny.  Noticeable efforts by programs such as SPAY/USA have had a tremendous effect on the pet overpopulation issue. In those cities that have already implemented sterilization programs of some type, the number of companion animals (dogs & cats) who had to be euthanized is showing a decline of 30 to 60 percent in most areas. The truth is that spayed and neutered dogs are really better pets; and though we’re heading in the right direction, the problem of euthanasia continues. In my opinion I believe that as responsible dog owners we should always  spay or neuter our dogs.
For more information on low cost programs in your area please visit with your veterinarian, your local animal control agency or contact SPAY/USA @ http://www.spayusa.org/.
 
For American Pitbull Terriers & similar type breeds owners can contact Pitbull Rescue Central (PBRC) online @ http://www.pbrc.net/fund/ap_neuter.html. PBRC is also a wonderful website for any bully breed owner to gain access to alot of resources.
 
copyright©2013 Karen Kelley
 
 
Protect Your Pet From Getting Lost
 
 
 
 
ID YOUR PET
 
Working with the Humane Society here in my area I hear everyday about dog & cats that have been lost. Often owners never find their beloved pets due to a lack of information accompanying the animal.  I believe it is crucial to provide some form of ID for our pets in an effort to ensure their safe return if they are ever lost. Below I have listed a variety of options available to pet owners today.
 
 
Basic  ID Tag
Tags are one of the easiest and cheapest methods of identification for your dog. If a
dog is found wearing an ID tag , the owner can be contacted directly and quickly, often avoiding a trip to the shelter. Be sure to include your name, address, and phone number on the tag. Also consider adding your cell phone number as an added measure of being reached if you are out of the house when your dog is found. If you travel or move, be sure to update the information or use temporary tags; current information is key to your pets safe return.
There is a downside to using just the basic ID tag however, these tags can come off or be removed by someone with bad intentions. Therefore it is important to consider alternate forms of pet ID.
To purchase a Basic  ID Tag check with your
 local pet store or veterinarian.
 
 
 
Tattoo 
Tattooing is a very reasonable and safe form of pet ID, because the needle does not reach the nerve endings of the dog's skin, the tattooing procedure is not painful and takes only two to three minutes. The cost for pet tattooing on average, runs about $10; often with discounts for multiple pets. Select a unique number and register your contact information with a tattoo registry, such as National Dog Registry. It is not advisable to tattoo your phone number or address, since
that information could change. Also by using
a registry, you can easily update your information. For me an added benefit is that it is against the law for research facilities to use a tattooed animal in experimentation. This helps to protect your dog from possible theft for use in a lab. One of the downsides to using tattooing is that it is possible for someone to alter or remove a tattoo. To prevent this, do not place the tattoo on the lip or ear, because ears can be cut off and lips can be clipped. Instead, have the
tattoo applied to the inner leg or stomach.
Contact your veterinarian or go
through a dog club, your local animal control agency or other  a rescue organization in your area.
 
 
 
Microchip
Microchips are inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades with a large needle and can then be read with the proper scanner; one downside to this is that in order
to be detected, a compatible scanner must be used. Before implanting a chip, contact your local shelter or animal control agency to ensure they can read the type of chip you will implant. Overall this procedure is safe and relatively inexpensive, running between $20 and $60 in most areas. Unlike tattoos, it is difficult to remove or alter a microchip.
Microchips must be registered with your current contact information, and this registration should be updated if you move.
If you have already implanted an incompatible chip, contact the chip manufacturer and ask them to provide a scanner to your local shelters and animal control agency so that should your pet be lost it can be returned to you. To have your dog microchipped contact
your veterinarian or animal shelter.
 
 
 
 
Local Requirements
A license is required in most cities and counties for your pet.
Your dog should always wear the license tag along with an ID tag. If your dog is picked up by an animal control officer, they can contact you directly, skipping a trip to the shelter. If your dog does end up at a shelter, the staff will know how to contact you. Also, many shelters will extend the time they will hold onto your dog, waiting for you to pick him up, as well as provide emergency medical treatment if required.
Contact your local animal control agency for information on their license requirements.
 
A new service now being offered by FINDMYANIMAL.COM will register your pet (dog/cat/horse) for a minimal fee then if your animal is ever lost they will alert all local shelters, humane societies, and animal welfare organizations in your area with your lost pets information and photo. Click the link below to register your pet now. This is a great service which I use for my own dogs.
 
 
copyright©2013 Karen Kelley
Dog Aggression and
Chaining/Tethering:
 
I have often found in my experience with dogs on chains/tethers that they have become aggressive due to their lack of socialization with both humans and other dogs. Any dog, regardless of breed that is kept chained or tethered for long periods of time can become highly aggressive. A dogs natural instinct is to protect their territory; therefore when confronted with a real or perceived threat, a chained dog will respond according to their fight-or-flight instinct. So unable to take flight (run away) a chained or tethered dog often feels forced to fight...attacking any unfamiliar animal or person in its territory. It is estimated that moderate percentage of fatal dog attacks were inflicted by dogs (of many different breeds) that were chained or tethered in their owner/caretaker's yard. Typically the victims of such attacks are often infants, children and the elderly. Also keep in mind that chaining or tethering a dog doesn't make it a good guard dog, you are simply creating an aggressive dog, period. Dogs are naturally protective around their owners and family, this instinct should be nurtured, by you the owner spending more time with the dog instead of confining them to a life alone. If you want a guard dog, educate yourself about the proper way to train that type of dog....a properly trained protection dog is observant, obedient, and balanced with good social skills around both humans and dogs. In order for a dog to become a well-adjusted companion animal, they should be encouraged to interact regularly with people and other dogs, as well as receive regular walks and exercise. As a responsible dog owner it is up to us to step up and be a leader. It is our responsibility to properly restrain our dog, and provide adequate attention, exercise and socialization.
 
 
Interdog Aggression Basics
 
I am often asked about what an owner should do if their dogs are fighting, and in all honesty at this point you as an owner should seek help from a trained professional.
Many people speak to me about their homes being in chaos because their dogs are fighting and ask if it is just "typical of the breed". First and foremost I believe that if any dog is truly showing aggression, then NO it is not typical of the breed--regardless of the breed in question. Interdog aggression can, in my opinion, occur for a variety of reasons; however I believe that there are a few basic points to take into consideration when an owner feels that their dog is being 'aggressive' with another dog in the home.
 
  • Dogs that disagree with each other will usually bark, growl or snap, but almost never will they make contact with each other. If and or when they do, actual damage will be minimal but nothing substantial.
  • If the actual issue igniting the fight is not going to be an ongoing problem between them, then the dogs will most often solicit one another for play or grooming; doing so in a slow manner so that their intentions are not misunderstood.
  • Hanging onto or aggressively biting on the neck are NOT normal dog to dog behaviors. These are behaviors that are associated with the dominant and predatory instincts in all dogs.
 
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Jabez and Eli
Jabez (Lab-outside) and Eli (pitbull-in house) working on ignoring each other through the window. Previously they have broken windows being aggressive with with each other. Babysteps :)
 
 
 
Above is a recent case that I worked with a male Pitbull and a male Lab, both neutered and both had gotten along for several months until being left unattended by a pet sitter. The lack of exercise created frustration and a serious fiight...I was called in to work with these two to help them refocus and find balance with each other.
 
A recent case that involved two male Cocker Spaniels is a good example of interdog aggression. The more dominant of the two dogs began attacking the other, the owner contacted me for help after she was bitten trying to seperate them. When I arrived I found the one male to be very intent on fighting with the other male dog. After our visit the owner began following the plan that I had layed out for her and the two dogs, within a week of the first consult the dogs were showing no signs of aggression. They are currently getting along wonderfully and have not had issues since. Often it just takes having a professional assist the owner with the proper steps to take to resolve their dogs issues.
For more information on this case, please visit the Dog Bite Prevention page.
 
If you are experiencing interdog aggression with your dogs, please dont hesitate to contact a professional in your area.
 
copyright©2013 Karen Kelley
 
Fighting BSL
 
Dakota & Mia
 
This is an issue close to my heart since I own American Pitbull Terriers among my 9 dogs. I believe that any and all Breed Specific Legislation IS wrong.  In my opinion no dog is born aggressive, and it is a documented fact that many dog bites that occur with children are from small dogs.Now all dogs are capable of biting and when a large powerful breed does bite, the damage can be extensive, yet I believe that this is where we must focus on Dog Safety with children. I believe that if we can educate owners, children, and the community then we can drastically reduce dog bites all together. I am not so narrow sighted that I believe we can ever completely stop all dog bites, however I do believe that if we take action we can change the overall outcome and maybe save some dogs in the process. Please keep in mind that it is not just Pitbull's that are being banned, in some states the list  included Huskies, German Shepards, and Dobermans. There is no such thing as a BAD BREED, however there are bad owners.
 
 
 
 
copyright©2012 Karen Kelley
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Your Dog and The Cycle of Abuse
 
Animal cruelty is serious and can be found in every community, and in some states like Arkansas, it's a felony. The FBI has acknowledged that animal cruelty is a known marker (indicator) of violence against humans. If anyone in your house intentionally mistreats your dog (or any other animal), seek help immediately by contacting your local law enforcement office or humane society. There are many different reasons why individuals abuse animals; animal cruelty covers a very wide range of actions (or lack there of), so there is no blanket description. However with each type of abuse there are certain patterns of behavior that can be used to help the public to understand animal cruelty. There are typically two main categories:  passive (omission) & active (commission).
 
Passive cruelty is typified by cases of neglect, where the crime is a lack of action rather than the act of cruelty itself.
 
Active cruelty implies malicious intent; a person has deliberately and intentionally caused harm to an animal, and is sometimes referred to as Non-Accidental Injury by Animal Cruelty Investigators.
 
If you suspect animal cruelty in your community, immediately contact your local law enforcement agency, animal control agency and/or animal rescue organization  to report the suspected abuse. 
For more information on animal cruelty please visit the ASPCA @ www.aspca.org or PetAbuse.com @ www.petabuse.com.
 
My Dog Sunny the day she was brought to the shelter.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
copyright©2013 Karen Kelley