"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume III - Issue 12:  April 15, 2005
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  Where'd HE Come From !?
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Mail Bag
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  Advice for the All Knowing Teen

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Christopher's Drool

Hey Everybody,

Not going to go on much here as we have a lot to get to this week. First, I want to bring you a product warning.

There is one drug used in anesthetic protocols that probably should not be used in the Boxer. That drug is Acepromazine, a tranquilizer that is often used as a preanesthetic agent. In the Boxer it tends to cause a problem called first-degree heart block, an arrhythmia of the heart. It can also cause profound hypotension (severe lowering of the blood pressure) in many Boxers that are given the drug.

A recent report described several adverse reactions to the drug in a very short time span at a Veterinary Teaching Hospital. All the reported adverse reactions were in Boxers. The reactions included collapse, respiratory arrest and profound bradycardia (slow heart rate, less than 60 beats per minute). The announcement suggested that Acepromazine should not be used in dogs of the Boxer breed because of breed related sensitivity to the drug.

This drug is the most commonly prescribed tranquilizer in veterinary medicine. It is also used orally and is prescribed for owners who want to tranquilize their dogs for air travel. I would strongly recommend that Boxer owners avoid the use of this drug, especially when the dog will be unattended and/or unable to receive emergency medical care if needed.

I have been mentioning the online audio classes I am doing every week for a while and the one we are holding next Thursday is an absolute must with summer approaching. It is being taught by Dr. Jill Elliott, DVM, from New York, who specializes in conventional and homeopathic veterinary medicine.

The course is “Emergency Preparedness For Our Pets.” I can't tell you how many times I have talked to people who have lost their pets unnecessarily simply because they weren't prepared when an emergency occurred.

Additionally, all “Bark 'n' Scratch” subscribers will be able to attend these classes for 50% off the normal cost of the interactive classes through the end of May, 2005. For $15.00 you will be able to have access to professionals who often charge hundreds of dollars for their consultations. To register, go to:


Keep those letters and suggestions coming. They are greatly appreciated.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm outta here!



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Hi Chris ~

As you know, I moderate a Scottish terrier group on the internet with over 600 members and many Scotties. Our co-moderator there just posted a message about walking his two Scotties last night when a Dobie who had slipped its harness came around the corner into the Scotties. A fight ensued with all kinds of mayhem and a neighbor intervened getting the Dobie under control and its owner finally caught up.

The Dobie got the worst of it (Scotties are by definition tenacious and have strong jaws and teeth) - the younger Scottie (she is under a year) had one puncture to her muzzle. The Dobie is a well-trained dog - usually friendly and gentle but not usually loose on her own. But this is a situation every dog owner fears ... a sudden loose dog that may not behave and a dog fight breaking out.

I would love to have advice to pass on to my members about how best to bring a situation like this under control. Especially, if there is no one else around. Would carrying something like pepper spray be helpful? Any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,


Where'd HE Come From !?

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have been in this situation and it seems to be happening more and more these days. In fact, just a few weeks back, I was walking through the park with the kids and had a dog run up on us barking and making a fuss. I could see the owner, standing there like an idiot, about 100 feet away doing nothing.

As we stood there, he called out that the dog wouldn't bite. I yelled back that I do and he needed to come and get his dog! He looked at me like I was the one being unreasonable and came and put his dog back on leash. Chances are, the dog was friendly and was just coming up to say hello, however, when you don't know the dog, it is still a little unnerving.

Keeping Your Cool

You know, unnerving really isn't the best word to describe a loose dog running up on you and your pet. The truth is, it's damn scary. Unfortunately, getting scared, nervous, anxious, or whatever you want to call it, is the absolute last thing you want to do.

Many of you have heard me say that fear runs up and down leash. What I mean by this is that dogs can sense when we are upset, fearful, etc. and will either emulate that emotion or take whatever action they feel is necessary in order to meet their pack role. Their reaction will depend on the individual dog's personality, breed and pack position, however, I have rarely seen a positive behavioral change in a dog when the animal sensed fear in its owner/handler.

Now, for me to say, “Don't be scared,” seems a little easier said than done and you're right. It takes a little preplanning or thought but once that is done, it becomes pretty easy. Let me give you an example here ...

I think everyone has been in a situation where someone has really pissed them off but they weren't able to really express their anger. While it may not have been easy to keep our cool, we can generally manage. This is exactly the way we need to respond when faced with an off leash dog coming at us and our pets. Keep in mind, just because an off leash dog is approaching quickly, doesn't mean the dog is intent on attacking.

Misunderstood Intentions

In my experience, most off leash dogs that run up on another dog don't have the intention of attacking. Usually, they are just coming up to say hello or see if your dog wants to play. What often happens though is, as mentioned above, our nerves affect the reaction of our dog and, thus, the approaching dog.

Assess Your Situation

I am not talking about a random encounter with another dog. I am talking about you, your dog, level of training and environment. For instance, my dogs will sit relatively calm if an unknown dog is approaching quickly. I have been trained to separate fighting dogs and feel comfortable walking my dog without any type of safety “tools.”

However, if your dog is a little more excitable, you have never dealt with fighting dogs or maybe you just aren't physically very strong and you think there is the possibility of encountering an off leash dog, you may want to carry with you a couple of things to assist you should an encounter occur.


There are a couple of tools that can be helpful in this type of situation. I will list them in the order of severity as we want to use the minimum force necessary to diffuse the situation. These aren't the only things you can use, but these are what I would use.


We have all seen the reaction a coach's whistle will get when blown unexpectedly. Generally, everyone will immediately stop what they are doing and focus on the whistle blower. A whistle will usually get a bigger reaction from a dog due to their superior hearing.

Walking Stick

This can be anything from an old broom handle to just a long branch from a tree. It is important that both ends be rounded with no sharp edges or points. It is preferable that the handle-end of the stick have a lanyard that can be slipped around the wrist.

Pepper Spray

This should be used as a last resort as it does hurt the animal, however, it has been proven to not cause any long-term injury or effects. You will want to get a dispenser that shoots a direct stream and not a mist or foam. You should also fire the dispenser at least once so you will know how the stream comes out of the can.

You can use other things that serve a similar purpose to those above but the ones I list can be obtained for as little as $10.00 and aren't a pain in the butt to carry around or detract from enjoying your walk.


There are generally two ways this type of situation will develop. Either with notice, or without. The ways you handle them are a little different, but many of the elements are the same.

Okay, you're walking down the street with your dog, and you see an off leash dog approaching. It doesn't matter whether the dog is running or walking.

Immediately stop and talk softly to your dog to let him know things are okay and grasp his leash to make it as short as you possibly can. When the approaching dog gets within 20 feet, blow the whistle loud and long and slap one end of the stick down on the ground between your dog and the off leash dog. This will get all the dog's attention focused on you and place a physical barrier between the dogs.

Normally, this will be the end of the encounter. If the other dog doesn't walk away, continue to slap the stick on the ground. Do NOT make eye contact with the off leash dog or attempt to stare him down. This will be viewed as a challenge and will only make a bad situation worse.

Continue to stand where you are until the dog leaves the area, or someone comes along to help. If you run off, or even walk away immediately, the dog may view your flight as submission and decide to give another go at you.

If the off leash dog comes in to attack, shove the stick into the dog's mouth. Don't use the stick like a sword and try to ram down into their stomach. You want it to be sideways so the dog bites the stick instead of your dog. Most dogs will hold the stick and you can literally use it like a leash and push the dog away.

If the dog continues to be aggressive, and you feel it will continue to attempt to aggress, release the stick and allow the dog to hold it. This will give the dog a sense of dominance and normally give you a few seconds to get your pepper spray ready to fire.

Almost all pepper spray dispensers have a safety switch to keep them from accidentally being fired. Make sure it is switched to the off position and spray the dog in the muzzle area for two to three seconds. The dog will normally start to rub their head on the ground to try to get the spray off their face.

If you have to use the pepper spray, you will want to leave the area immediately and get to safety. Pepper spray affects every dog a little differently and for varying periods of time. Some will be incapacitated for up to 20-30 minutes and others only for three or four. Believe me, when it wears off, that dog is going to be pissed. This is no time to worry about standing your ground.

There are times when you simply won't have time to utilize the above steps. This would be when the off leash dog is just there and on your dog before you have an opportunity to take evasive actions. This is, of course the worst-case scenario.

When this happens, there are no winners. The dogs are going to get hurt and there is also a good chance that you will as well if you aren't careful. Here are a couple of absolute don'ts!

1. Don't try to reach down with your hands and grab them by the head or neck to separate the dogs. This is just asking to get yourself bit and if you are bit, you are less likely to be able to control the situation.

2. Don't drop your leash.

3. Don't try to pepper spray the dog in the face while they are fighting except if you think your dog's life is in eminent danger. You are likely to hit your own dog making him incapable of defending himself.

4. Don't start beating at the dogs with the stick for the same reason mentioned in #3

5. Don't try to kick the dog for the same reason as mentioned in #1

Okay, you have a dog attacking yours and you're thinking, I can't pepper spray him; I can't hit them with the stick. What the heck am I suppose to do?

Well, it really isn't much different from what was mentioned above. First, I would be blowing on that whistle as loudly as possible. While it may not stop the fight, it could very well attract the attention of someone nearby who can assist you.

Next, you want to poke the other dog (notice I said poke and not impale) smartly with the stick behind the rib cage or in the center of the meaty portion of the dog's rear leg. Both of these areas have several pressure points that are painful when struck and will normally cause the dog to release their bite. Once the dog releases the bite and backs off, you can spray the dog and move to safety.

If the dog doesn't release, you can try to spray the dog on the anus, which will also cause extreme discomfort. If this causes the dog to release, I would again spray the dog, aiming for the muzzle.

Whether the two dogs end up fighting or not, it is important you contact the authorities immediately so no other animals or people are hurt. Give as complete a description of the dog as possible to include size, color, breed, if positively known, and any injuries it may have.

Now I want to make something very clear here. There are no guarantees when it comes to separating two dogs that are fighting and there is never a winner. What I have written here is a guideline for keeping you and your dog as safe as possible. Every dog is a little different and so is every dog fight.

I also want to make another point. First, I never want to hurt any animal. The methods I have suggested here do just that. I would hate to have to employ these methods, but, if it's between protecting myself and my family from injury, or even death, and hurting another dog, my family will always come first.

This article may be republished using the following attribution box:
Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies
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Quote of the Week

We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.

~ Immanuel Kant ~

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Mail Bag


I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the online audio class you taught on puppy training. I learned more during that presentation than I ever imagined I would. I can't believe how easy it was to follow, and the format was wonderful. I particularly like that I didn't have to sit on the telephone like you have to with teleseminars.

I guarantee I will be back for many more and I am recommending them to all of my dog-loving friends. Thanks for bringing so much great information to us all,



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Joke of the Week

Advice for the All Knowing Teen

Bill Gates is usually credited with giving this material in a speech at a High School. It's about 11 rules kids did not and will not learn in school.  It's a little long, but I liked it so I put it in this issue. And, Bill Gates did NOT give this speech. (See Snopes.com)

Rule 1:  Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2:  The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3:  You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school.  You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4:  If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5:  Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.  Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping ... opportunity.

Rule 6:  If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now.  They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.  So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8:  Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT.  In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer.  This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9:  Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF.   Do that on your own time.

Rule 10:  Television is NOT real life.  In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds.  Chances are you'll end up working for one.

* Have a joke you'd like to submit to us? Joke@Master-Dog-Training.com

Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2005 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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