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THE DOWNSIDE OF DOGDOM

E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge, TheDogPlace.org Exhibition Editor

 

Do neutered dogs shed more or less hair? What causes skin infections, dog odor or black skin? How to stop destructive chewing? This AKC judge has answers!

 

Long-haired dogs leave “cotton balls” and “dust bunnies” in their wake. It sticks to everything despite our precautions to eliminate the possibility. Short-coated dogs also shed hair. “Blowing coat” is seasonal and a trip or so to a groomer will solve the problem. I might add, spayed or neutered dogs tend to hold coat for a longer length of time.

 

 

Show dogs are groomed to perfection but you don’t have to be an expert. If your house dog has medium to long coat, it is mandatory the undercoat be combed out periodically to let the hair follicles breathe or your dog may get "black skin" and become bald! Even a quick daily brushing will help maintain coat health.

 

Short-haired dogs shed all year long. The short, stiffer hairs weave into furniture and carpets. It sticks to clothing, socks and blankets. Double-coated dogs, i.e. Northern breeds (Akitas, Huskies), shed in the spring. Other breeds, like German Shepherds, Corgis, Golden Retrievers, Labs and many hounds shed constantly. All breeds can develop skin infections and carry an odor if they don’t receive proper coat care.

 

Dog hair seems to have magnetic properties and it is drawn to wood, polyester, cotton, carpets, and car seats much like your hair clings to your comb. Dog hair appears occasionally in food despite our best efforts. Dog owners quickly learn NOT to wear black and to dress in colors and fabrics that do not “suck up” dog hair.

 

Another problem is chewing. Puppies MUST chew when cutting teeth. If a large bone isn’t available, any chair, shoe or door trim will suffice. When you leave home, crate your puppy with a bone or safe chew toy.

 

Dirty socks, books, magazines, underwear, or empty bowls on the floor are an invitation to disaster. To help curb chewing the wrong articles, one might try “Bitter Apple” spray but most products do not deter a determined dog. It is NOT a dog problem when dogs do damage. It is an “irresponsible pet owner” problem but the dog pays the price.

 

Terriers and dogs that “go to ground” are natural chewers and diggers but just about all dogs love to dig. Cattle Dogs carry firewood around just for fun.

 

 

You can avoid most of the downsides of dog ownership by being a step ahead of your dog. You know they love YOUR things so give your dog that shirt you no longer treasure. Dogs are like children – they love toys. Basket balls make great toys for larger dogs. So do thick ropes with knots on both ends. Frisbees are fun, KONG BALLS are almost indestructible. Some dogs find things in your yard you didn’t know you lost. NOTE: Always be sure fresh water is available when dogs are outside.

 

A real-life downside of dog ownership is that a large dog has a powerful bite. Some dog breeds are very protective or possessive. Pick up food bowls if you have small children or expect them with visitors. Before buying a dog, check with your home insurance company as some companies will NOT insure your home if you own a specific breed due to liability.

 

This may be unfair, but it is what it is for a reason. Small dogs may be “ankle biters.“ Put your dog away until such time it can conduct itself properly. Introduce your dog to strangers at a young age and socialize him well.

 

Dog bites can be tragic. A child bitten may develop a life-long fear of animals. Never leave a large dog in a room with a baby. The crying and odor may trigger a prey response in an otherwise trusted companion... Therefore it is up the responsible pet owner to protect their pets by offering them a healthy, protected environment and to be cautious when dogs are introduced to new experiences or new people.

 

The bottom line is this. Those of us who love our pets, accept an occasional dog hair. We do what we can to eliminate them, but how sterile would our existence be without our pets? And where would the fun be?

 

I saw a sign that said “This home is kept for the comfort, security, and convenience of our pets. If you cannot accept that, you cannot accept me!” Another says “If you don’t like dog hair on your clothes, stay off the couch.” These are dedicated dog people who value the companionship of their dogs.

 

Most canines I meet along the way are extremely well behaved and travel beautifully. If there is a downside to dog ownership, I have not found it. I still travel a lot to dog shows and the up-side of dogs is they never ask “ARE WE THERE YET!”

 

Frankly, it is hard for most of us to find a downside because cared-for dogs are always “up” and optimistic.

TheDogPlace.org 1998 © Oct 2021 http://www.thedogplace.org/Grooming/downside-of-dogdom-k21G101.asp

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