Sunday, December 30, 2007

Animal Shelter Over-Population: What's the Truth?

Letting dogs who are not fixed run free and mate as they please contributes to some of our over-population in animal shelters.

Do you know what adds even more dogs to those dog kennels than that?

People see a movie or someone walking a dog that they feel is beautiful. Then without researching the dog breed, they go and pick one up ... only to become overwhelmed by tendencies the animal naturally has.

If you want a dog, please do your homework. Know the dog breed, know its tendencies, health risks, temperament, and exercise requirements. For example, most working dog breeds, such as my Border Collie, need runs twice daily. They need it! It's not optional.

If you have an active lifestyle and want your dog to be part of that, get a dog breed who loves to work. If you are laid back, get a laid back breed.

If you do not know what signs to look for, take a qualified evaluator with you to select the right dog for you.

Common sense will cause the most dramatic drop ever in the animal shelter's dog population. It is up to each and every one of us to do our part!

Rena Murray
Dog Whisper Woman

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Little Dog Bite

If a little dog becomes nasty and bites all members of the family but one, that one should be the person who removes the dog. The others might get bitten. If the dog is on a bed, couch, lap ... wherever, put him on the floor each time he becomes aggressive.

Then the dog should be put back where he was, such as in the person's lap. But he should be removed again if he becomes aggressive.

This should be repeated until every member of the family can touch the dog and the person without a problem.

My grandfather always said, "Be sure that you never disrespect a dog. And don't EVER let one disrespect you."

Rena Murray
Dog Whisper Woman

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Friday, December 21, 2007

What Should You Do To Your Dog?

This dog was pushing his owner and blocking her with his body. He had absolute control, and was not hesitant about it.

"He won't stop jumping. I am afraid that I will get hurt!"

She was backing up and moving away each time the dog was pushing her. "He always stops eventually," she said.

"No," I said. "He has stopped YOU, and HE is in control."

I touched the dog firmly, much like another dog would bite him to let him know he was going too far. The dog stopped right away and totally focused on me.

The owner became upset, saying that I should be nicer to her dog.

"So, you are telling me that it is fair for him to touch us, and not fair for us to touch him?"

I was fully expecting that this case was not going to work out. But it was my turn to be surprised.

The woman said, "Oh, I never thought about it that way. So I'm giving him control by backing away from him?"

My simple nod in response was all it took. She got that dog's respect faster than any other client I ever had.

Don't listen to anyone who tells you it hurts your dog to have discipline, any more than it hurts a child. It's not so innocent any more when an undisciplined dog jumps on someone and knocks her down!

And dogs don't need rewards for obeying, either. Treats and such should be because you feel like it. You don't give your children a candy bar every time they get an "A," do you? In that case, why do you give your dog a biscuit every time he sits? And only for a couple of seconds, at that...

It's absolutely critical that you learn how much force to use in your touch. I touch my foot against my dog constantly. But unless a dog is trying to kill you or someone else, it is never okay to kick a dog.

Don't be doing that unless you've been taught how to do it.

As we are settling into the Christmas season, remember:
Do unto your dog as he is doing unto you.

Rena Murray
Dog Whisper Woman

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dog Leash Problems - Who's In Control?

There are several different problems, or conflicts rather, that people can have between a leash and a dog.

The most common one is when the dog has learned how to use the leash better than his well in fact, that it is indeed his master who goes walking or running down the street behind him! I think we know who's in control of that walk.

And of course there's the all-too-common problem of the dog being tangled up in the leash, so much so that he looks like he might have changed color.

And then there's the problem with a dog who has figured out how to chew through any leash within seconds...even those "impossible to penetrate" ones. Instead of "he shoots, he scores"'s "he chews, he's loose, and he's off!" And so are you!

Believe it or not, there is yet another leash problem. That is the one I'm going to help you with today. This is the one where the dog firmly plants his rear and refuses to budge, or lies down and becomes a complete limp rag. It looks pathetic.

In most cases when the dog is behaving like that, you grab the leash and pull to the side. This throws her off balance, so she has to move. Normally, after about six tries the dog walks.

If that doesn't work, put a leash on while she's around the house, and under supervision only. If she was out in the yard with this on (even under supervision), it could catch on something.

So stick to this exercise only indoors and when you are watching her. Just let her walk around and drag the leash wherever. Then start picking it up and walking around with her. Walk her out the door, then down the driveway. Increase the distance a little bit each day.

If she shuts down, make her get up and walk for a minute before you turn around again. If you turn around when she shuts down, guess what? YOU just got trained. Not her.

The more you give in to that tantrum, the more determined she will become.

Never let the dog win the argument. Always end the exercise with YOU in control, not her. A pack leader always stays there until he wins. You cannot expect to solve your dog leash problems any other way.

Rena Murray
Dog Whisper Woman

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Paws Up To You, Cesar Millan?

There's an awful lot of controversy going around about Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. No doubt, I have my suspicions about a few things. But I'm not going to use this blog to slander anyone.

Disagreeing with someone is one thing, but no one has any business going around saying Cesar Millan doesn't know anything just because he isn't certified. He has been able to make some completely unmanageable dogs, by our standards, safe.

What I do like about Cesar is his constantly stressing to people that a dog needs to be treated like a DOG. It's not a child.

Cesar is also correct that a dog should not be fed before his walks, or before he is showing submissive obedient behavior. Nor should the dog be in front of you on the walk.

And, stop using your yard as an excuse not to walk your dog!

As for pinning a dog down on the ground... That's not mean. That's the method of discipline I use with my dogs. That would be absolutely stupid for someone to try when they don't know how, but it's a completely natural form of discipline that dogs understand. What's not natural is all this bribing nonsense that so many dog trainers try to use. You won't find that in the wild!

A dog working for you because he respects you is not wrong. A dog who comes to you with his head down is surrendering, not afraid. A dog who is afraid of you will not even come near you.

Again, no one is perfect. But it really disturbs me when people actually chat back and forth with nothing but pure slander about someone, as I have been reading about Cesar Millan.

There was an article written about his treatment of Kane, the Great Dane, saying that he was cruel because of it. Grow up, people! Sometimes when a dog is frightened, you have to make them move!

There's nothing wrong with people disagreeing with someone. But if you are going to post a disagreeing comment, be polite. Just imagine if that was you who people were slandering. You certainly wouldn't like it!

So on those points above I say, "Paws up to you, Cesar!"

Rena Murray
Dog Whisper Woman

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cancer Sniffing Dogs

I'm always amazed at the incredible sensitivity of a dog's nose, aren't you? I've heard a Bloodhound's nose is 100 times as keen as a human's nose, and a German Shepherd's 40-50 times. No wonder they save so many lives by tracking missing persons or felons and by sniffing out bombs and drugs. Now in recent years, I've heard about still another use of their great natural talents – cancer detection!

I have heard about bladder, colon, and lung cancers and malignant melanoma being detected by a cancer sniffing dog. The last study I saw about dogs who had undergone intensive training to learn the special odors of some cancers reported an 85% success rate. Unlike machines, dogs can even sift through the BLENDS of odors to detect cancer!

And get this. Some untrained dogs have this keen talent naturally. I heard a story of a woman who had a gentle, mellow Labrador named Buddy. Then one day he suddenly started pushing her intensely in the breast. The more she pushed him away, the more intense and insistent he got. She wouldn't listen to this "bad dog behavior," so he bit hard. At the time it didn't strike her - but the spot he bit was the 4 o'clock position in her breast. When she had a screening less than a week later, they found a little malignant tumor at that precise spot!

So if your dog suddenly acts out of character, he might be trying to tell you something. Before you overreact, check it out!

The use of cancer sniffing dogs is very attractive to me. After all, it's a non-invasive form of screening which might find early-stage, pre-symptomatic cancers. Much safer and more comfortable than some machine-based procedures – as my friend would agree. The connective tissue in one breast was painfully ripped by a machine operated by a snippy technician during routine cancer screening!

How effective are cancer sniffing dogs?

It varies. Obviously, intensive, specialized dog training using the exact right method is key. And you must use certified utility dogs (highest AKC obedience rating) with keen noses who know at least 400 commands by the end of the training. We all know that there's no such thing as total accuracy with any screening method, either. That's why you shouldn't limit yourself to just one.

The greatest problem faced in getting this out to the community is the scarcity of funding for this life-saving research. And for this specialized dog training. There are phenomenal qualification requirements for the dog trainer, too.

So if you know someone who has the ability and interest to fund some cancer research or training and maintenance of cancer sniffing dogs, contact them! And let me know (through the CONTACT page on so I can follow up and get them in touch with the right people.

I thank my friend, Karen Chrisman, for commenting on this issue yet again in Cancer Sniffing Canines, a recent blog post on her website -

For more research highlights and commentary on cancer sniffing dogs, you will want to check out the November 15, 2007 article by freelance writer, Stephanie Fox, Paging Dr. Canine - Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota.

I guess it's obvious that I am very interested in this subject. So if you have a personal story about cancer sniffing dogs to share, or access to research on cancer sniffing dogs, please CONTACT ME!

Rena Murray
Dog Whisper Woman

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bad Dog Behavior - Was It Worth It?

Here's a true "bad dog behavior" story.

"It's after midnight, and a long, long evening. Mama was cooking everything in sight for Thanksgiving the next day and I was "kitchen help." Finally, sinking into bed, this whipped 14-year-old was drifting off to sleep. Deep sleep.


Then screaming! (My parents never screamed.) Alarmed, I jumped out of bed and ran down the hall to the kitchen. Mama was throwing that yellow Lab out the door!

I couldn't enter. The large kitchen floor had what seemed like inches deep, thick, awful ham fat all over it. Well-trained Ginger, so good and reliable, just somehow couldn't resist the ham cooling in its pan and drippings (fat) on top of the stove.

Mama tossed me cleaning rags as she prepared a bucket of hot, soapy water. As my sister appeared, she was given the same.

Seemed like Mission Impossible! Ever tried to clean up thick, widespread ham fat? Trust me, you don't want to! It took the two of us three hours. Every time we wiped and scrubbed and wiped and scrubbed, it was STILL slick and greasy. I'll never forget it.

Mama started cooking something else to augment the turkey for the big day that was coming all too soon. And Ginger spent the night outside! (She was the lucky one.)"

Thank you, my dear friend, for sharing this story.

For those of you facing what she's experienced in - caregiving for an elderly or infirm family member - check out The Caregiver - Caregiver Support To Relieve Caregiver Stress

Rena Murray

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Best Christmas Dog - Dog Picture Contest

It's time for our Annual CHRISTMAS DOG PICTURE CONTEST! Hanukkah, too.


* First Place - Phone consultation with Rena. ($75 value)
* Second Place - Email consultation with Rena. ($50 value)

If there's a tie, both Winners will receive a telephone consultation to start the New Year off right!

So snap your best dog pictures and share them with us. Pictures of your dog with your Christmas or Hanukkah decorations, with other pets or festive people, or in a Winter Wonderland! Anything adorable and Christmas or Hanukkah related.

Send us your JPG images as email attachments (preferably 200 x 200 pixels, but we can resize others). Write "Christmas Dog" in the subject line of your Email to Paw Questions by January 10, 2008.

Winners will be announced the first of February. Selected pictures will be put up on a special page on - such as last year's Winners and Honorable Mention at Paw Persuasion's Dog Picture Contests.

Please include your phone number and email address. We will ONLY call you if you win. No one's personal information will be saved or shared with anyone. Do provide us, however, with the dog's name, owner's first name, and state or country to be published with your picture.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Now This Is Really Mean

And people wonder why Rover is anxious and destructive ...

When was the last time you made him really focus?

After all, making your dog focus for 45 minutes twice a do is really very little to ask of him. If you think about it, forty five minutes of dog exercise takes only a very small part of his day.

Your dog needs to focus and have working time. It is not good for him to do as he pleases, and when he feels like it.

Lack of discipline and exercise are the main reasons for which a dog develops destructive habits or anxiety. And sometimes it even leads to dog aggression.

The cruel thing that a lot of humans do is to feed the dog twice a day and then let it run in the yard for activity. It's not loving freedom. It's not qualified exercise. It's denial of the dog's inborn need for purpose and focus - and it can destroy him!

Rena Murray
Dog Whisper Woman

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Monday, December 03, 2007

When Is It Out Of Your Hands?

"We cannot leave him alone," the couple said.

I eyed the small dog and asked for the routine of his day. He ran free as he pleased in his small yard. He walked ahead of his owner on their 5 mile walk every couple of days or so. Not to mention, he slept in bed with his owner instead of his crate, and he marked in the house.

I had been contacted, of course, only to get him used to his crate. I had the owner leave the room. The dog screamed, and the man rushed back in petting the dog and talking to him. He also made a big to do as he left the room.

I was able to get the dog to be quiet in his crate for an hour while he was staying with me. Even when I left him. I ran him twice a day, 40 minutes each time. He had a ton of energy and could not be confined without draining it.

I explained all of this in detail to the owner, and he simply refused to do it. He said the dog was his kid, and he did not want him to feel like he was a dog!

It is out of my hands when the owner comes back.

Rena Murray
Dog Whisper Woman


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Making Children and Dogs Comfortable?

The best way to make children and dogs comfortable is to educate yourself in how to approach dogs, so that your children learn the right way from the start.

One might easily conclude that children and dogs do not mix from simply becoming aware of the reality that most dog bites happen to children.

Teach your children:

Never approach a strange dog, especially one who is confined or chained. Do not let them put their fingers through the fence. That is a disrespectful invasion of the dog's space.

Always put your palm out first, and let the dog smell you. When his head drops down, he is relaxed. You can then pet him.

But start with rubbing the chest, and slowly work your way to the head. That's because a dog who is trying to put his head over another dog's head is trying to assert himself. The dog's buddy-buddy greeting to another dog is rubbing his chest or shoulder against the other dog. It's okay to rub the head after the dog senses you are friendly.

And do not put your face in the dog's face. That scares some of them.

If a dog is chasing you, stand still and give the STOP signal with your hand. The dog will stop. Move two steps forward while standing tall. Then do not move until the dog turns around. This way, he is giving you space. If you turn first before he looks away, he is likely to come after you.

Running from a dog or not addressing him makes him more powerful.

It's the responsibility of all to keep children and dogs safe. The only way that's going to work is learning the "do so's" and "do not's." More than half the dog bites in the U.S. would not occur if people of all ages followed these rules!

Rena Murray
Dog Whisper Woman

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