Open Thread
Print|Email|Text Size: ||
Let’s Talk
Off Leash Open Thread

Welcome back to Off Leash, Bark’s Wednesday open thread, your chance to catch up with Bark readers, editors and contributors during a real-time chat. Last week, we talked about strategies for vet-nervous pups, problems with a negligent neighbor, buying treats on a budget, preparing a dog for a new baby, and much more. We’re back open to hear more of what’s on your mind—from the latest dog news, to your behavior questions, favorite products, or just a story you want to share.


Keep in mind, each week we select a participant at random to receive a Bark goodie bag (so be sure to include your email when you register to comment, so we can contact you if you win). Last week’s winner was Laurelin Sitterly, a humane educator from Providence, R.I. and proud adopter of a one-and-a-half year old Beagle/Dachshund mix named Sadie.


For newcomers, the open thread is a little like the dog park: Get out there and run, sniff around and play nice. Obscene, abusive, offensive or commercial comments will be taken down. We open officially at 9 a.m. and close the thread at 4 p.m. PST.


The Bark on Google+
CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Anonymous | April 13 2011 |

People are going to be like that, irrational and make absolutely no sense in the meanness towards others. You shouldn't not bring your dogs out in public just because of that man. It's quite clear he was out of line and must have had something else going on and was redirecting. Responsible dog owners need to get out there and show their dogs off so people who might be afraid or unsure of dogs see positive images.

Submitted by Erica | April 13 2011 |

I'm having a bit of a crisis of thought. I am a trainer/rescuer/foster home for multiple dog rescue groups in my area. I have recently begun looking at the whole system of foster care differently and it's leading me to change my perception of things. I still think a foster home is a better environment than a cold crowded shelter, even one that tries very hard to be more inviting and has a great volunteer staff. I am starting to be concerned with the attachment issues that happen in a foster home setting. Both on the dog and the humans part. I am wondering what kind of effect this has on the dog to go from its' original home to a foster home or even multiple foster homes, being uprooted after bonding each time and then finally to an adoptive home. What kind of behavior issues are we setting the dog and new family up to deal with? There are certainly dogs that are much easier going and can take the changes but what about the ones that need the extra care to learn to trust humans again. Once they do then we ship them off to strangers? I am a big fan of Sarah Kalnajs and she advocates one, not fostering your favorite breed and two, not including the foster in your daily family life. I see benefits to both paths and can argue for both, just wondering what other people are thinking on this subject. I'm finding it more and more distressing feeling like I am abandoning these dogs that come to me needing help, because we bond and then they are gone again.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 13 2011 |

I think that the benefits certainly outweigh the risks in fostering over kennel for dogs looking for new homes. However, I could see how there might be some dogs that might be exceptions, I think it would be super rare though, they are so resilient. I think the biggest emotional issue would be with the people.
I don't think it's fair to not have the foster dog be part of the household same as everyone else. I could see maybe having them crated at night, or just not in the bedroom, if your own dog happens to sleep in the bedroom with you but that would be the extent of the exclusion in my opinion.

Submitted by ML | April 13 2011 |

We have a rescue that came to us from a foster home, after being given up by two families before that. I can see your point about attachment issues. Our poor girl was only ten months old and ours was her fourth home. She had bonded in just one week with the foster mom, so it was difficult for her. In addition, the foster family had let her sleep on their bed. This was an issue at first because we don't let her sleep on the bed (she is a large dog); she has a very nice cushy bed of her own near ours, as do our other two dogs. Having some limitations for a dog being fostered makes a lot of sense because you don't know what the rules will be at their new home. Foster families provide a huge service and we are forever grateful to all who do such wonderful work.

Submitted by Erica | April 13 2011 |

Thanks everyone. I do have rules for all fosters in my house. They are crate trained and their crates are not in our bedroom where our family dog has his crate and sleeps at night. Other than that they are part of the goings on of our family. I do agree that fosters and rescue groups need to educate adopters of the potential for a lengthy process in getting acclimated to a new situation. Thanks for your input!

Submitted by charlene | April 13 2011 |

Our Misty was fostered through a couple of homes. She's always been a joy to us but we noticed that she didn't bond for a long time--then, suddenly, about six months into our new "relationship" she started bonding. Friends have experienced similar time for bonding.

I am so thankful Misty went into dog rescue, because if she hadn't she would have almost certainly been euthanized (overburdened system, kennel cough and other health issues). I think foster homes and breed rescues play a very important part in saving these animals--the good far outweighs the harm. If a dog has been well socialized while in that situation, I think most will do fine, but it's up to foster/rescue homes to prepare an adoptive family for the time it may take for bonding.

Submitted by Laurelin | April 13 2011 |

As someone who has fostered many animals, but for the record 12 dogs, I'll say that this post hits close to home, and factored heavily into our ultimate adoption of number 12. I have traditionally fostered dogs who had missed out on important socialization or who had been traumatized to the point of extreme distrust of phobias. While the issue of their attachment to myself and my family was a concern, I feel that the way we decided to run things was what made these fosters (and subsequent adoptions!) a success. I am lucky enough to only do local adoptions, and I always made sure my fosters had a MINIMUM of 3 meetings with the new family, including one at their home. We tried to phase the dogs in that way, and 11 out of 11 were successful! While the risk of them bonding to us was a problem, in most cases we were teaching these dogs to accept new people - any people, and I think we were something of a practice run for them. Our last dog, now, the one we kept, was where the system fell apart. Her issues stemmed from repeat surrender (5 times, we're her 8th home), and I feel that ultimately, she probably should not have been a foster dog - to us, 'foster' is sugar-coating for a temporary home that will give her away. It's great for us, who understand the concept, but to the dog, what's different between failed adoption and successful fostering? Not a lot. We felt that we were ready to make the step to permanent, and that she could not mentally go through another surrender intact. I think that fostering, ultimately, is wonderful, but that there should be some impartial oversight and screening in to which dogs are candidates and which will be further harmed by the breaking of a close bond. I also like your consideration to the toll on the foster parent - which is not addressed enough. I'm very glad you brought this up, and that people are thinking about it! Sometimes, I fear that our good intentions run the risk of getting the better of us ...

Submitted by Michelle S | April 13 2011 |

I have an adorable black 16 lb Pekingese. I recently got his hair cut into a lion cut thinking he will be cooler since the weather is warming up. His coat gets so hot in the sun. Now I hear that I should've kept his hair longer and he'd be cooler. What is the right thing to do? I love his hair shorter because it grows so fast and he seems so happy! Am i hurting him at all??? Thanks!!!

Submitted by Michele | April 13 2011 |

Hi, I didn't see if anyone had responded to you so I thought I would jump in. I have been a dog groomer for 17+ years. We have always recommended that you do not shave a double coated dog. I double coated dog is one that has a soft undercoat and courser outer coat such Golden Retrievers, Samoyed dogs, Labs, etc. A Pekingese also falls into this category. The coat naturally insulates from the heat as well as the cold. In the summer it actually works to hold cooler air against the skin while protecting it from sunburn and such. Sometimes, with repeated shavings the outer coat will not grow back the same and eventually might not grow back at all. Having said that, it is possible that your dog might remain unaffected. These are just risks that you are taking. It is up to you if you choose to continue shaving your dog. I do agree that they look adorable in the haircut and some people do continue, knowing the risks. The best thing to do is brush him regularly and have him bathed and brushed out professionally every couple of months to keep that undercoat from building up too much. I hope this is helpful to you!

Submitted by Joanne | April 13 2011 |

Dogs with heavy coats should not be shaved down or extremely short for hot weather. Their coats act as insulation to keep them warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. It also acts as a sunscreen. Sometimes dogs with shaved coats or cut too short can begin to have skin allergies. They have dense long coats for a reason, especially Pekingese. I've had two in my past. I presently have a Shih tzu with a very thick coat and have her trimmed in a puppy coat that is about 1-1/2" long. I won't go any shorter than that. Let your Peke's fur grow and only keep it trimmed for neatness. They require regular grooming to avoid mats. Also, brachysephalic dogs (ones with short snouts) have trouble breathing so avoid taking them out on hot days - they do better in air conditioning and Pekes also don't do well on long walks. They need only a little exercise. I had my Pekes groomed every 4 weeks. Nails need trimming, ears need cleaning and coats need cleaning and brushing and mats removed. Always a good idea to put a lubricant like puralube from vet in their eyes right before grooming. They have sensitive bulgy eyes that can be prone to damage and ulcerations.

Submitted by Laurelin | April 13 2011 |

An Idea In Response to So Many Off-Leash Threads: I've loved reading all the threads about leashed/unleashed dogs. I live in a city, and am lucky enough to have access to a dog-designed back yard which is basically a private dog park. My personal feeling is that dogs benefit by being off leash sometimes. However, public dog parks are risky at best - we all know the risks, I don't think I need to go in to them. Breaking leash laws in leash-only areas I feel is just bad form and gives dog owners a bad name - even if your dog is the best thing ever. It shows a disregard for laws and ordinances that, however much we dislike them, are there for a reason. Add to that the fact that some dogs just are not good with other dogs, or are not good with strange dogs, making a dog park impossible for you ... what can you do besides move or give up your dog?

As a city dweller, I have foregone a car and instead use ZipCar - anyone familiar with them? A carshare service that, for a $50 fee a year provides you with a magnetized card that allows you access to a full service car parked in the city at a time you register (registration can be online or by phone). The fee and an $8 hourly charge makes sure the cars are clean, maintained, insured and full of gas. Is it just me, or could this process be applied to dog parks? I have no business savvy and have no idea how to bring this up other than this excellent thread full of talented dog-minded folk. Imagine, urban areas with modest designated park areas, accessed by a card-controlled door. Annual and hourly fees go to providing clean-up services for the area. Registrants provide dog vacc and/or license info rather than drivers license, and scheduling of use of park can be done online or by phone ... I feel like, as someone with a dog who cannot handle a park but loves a romp, I would love and use this service were it available. Any thoughts?

Submitted by Rose | April 13 2011 |

Interesting idea and good points!

I am a city dweller as well (and have no yard and a very active dog..). I would love to have a space to let her run. I have always wished there were individual dog runs around here so those of us with less friendly/older dogs or who just want to throw a ball around could use them. I think in places like NYC they have them. Even if you could go with a few other (known) dogs. Again, it could be some sort of system like you suggested.

I always feel like telling people: Letting your dog offleash is a PRIVILEGE and not a RIGHT. Use the spaces designated, make sure your dog is well trained and don't abuse this privilege.


More in Open Thread:
Special Guest: Lee Harrington
We’re Talking Dogs ... About Dogs, That Is
We’re Talking Rescue and More
Join the Conversation for a Chance to Win 3 Great Books
Special Guest: Behaviorist Sophia Yin
Special Guest: Veterinarian Nancy Kay
Julia Kamysz Lane Joins the Conversation
Special Guest: Beth Finke
It’s Your Turn, Again