Friday, 22 March 2013

Challenges of meeting female dog on heat

Ozzy is fine. His poops are normal and so is his behaviour. Back to normal and stress over.

Yesterday in the forest, we had another interesting experience. We were throwing sticks for Ozzy. This now is his favourite game. The tennis balls do not have the same allure anymore.
We were just walking along Mr Eurodog and myself when we saw a dog walker with her pack of dogs. There were two Border Collies, an Australian Shepherd ( colour: bleu merle with bleu eyes ), two Alsatians. Ozzy caught sight of them and sped over to them. He seemed particularly attracted to one Alsatian. We were too far away to make out whether this was a female or a castrated male ( Ozzy finds them attractive too! ). The pack came nearer and the dog walker started shouting at us. “She’s on heat. Keep your dog away from her.” She became quite hysterical when she realised Ozzy was keen. “Put him on a lead. Quick, put him on a lead.” We were shell shocked by this dog walker’s behaviour. The other pack members were getting quite agitated. I noticed she had no leads for her dogs. I managed to pull Ozzy off the Alsatian and put him on a lead and walked away. When we thought we were a safe distance away, I let Ozzy off the lead and like a bullet he ran off to find the Alsatian. It must have been a good kilometre. I went after him and found the pack. “I told you to keep him on the lead. Don’t you realise this dog already has had 24 puppies. What’s more she needs exercise. I cannot just leave her locked up when she is on heat.” I put Ozzy on the lead again and decided not to enter into an argument. I did not let him off until we got to the car.

What conclusions are we to draw from all this?

1. If you are the owner or carer of a female dog that is in, or coming into season, it's your responsibility to keep her away from intact males.
2. Of course, dogs on heat need to be taken out and to be exercised but it is a challenging task. A responsible owner picks his route carefully, goes to an area where there are not too many dogs. An area where it is quiet. This person should be mindful of his environment.
3. The dog should be on a lead. It is totally irresponsible to have a female on heat running loose. It is asking for trouble. She will attract the male to come to her and the male is attracted by her hormones. If a male mounts her, it is very difficult to separate them. Also if they are in a pack, fights can break out.
4. The owner should inform other dog owners that the dog is on heat so that he can put his own dog on a lead if he running loose or come and get his dog if necessary.
5. If you really want to walk your dog off the lead but you know there is a female on heat about, break the trail. The easiest way to do it, is to put your dog in the car, and drive to another area, a distant area, where you may walk your dog without problems.

My take on this:

People have said to me that it is all about training. Well-trained males will have learned to ignore females on heat. I do not agree. Female dogs are extremely attractive to males when in heat, and even, if you think you have perfect recall, it is very difficult, near impossible to provide something better in exchange. Calling: “come here, come here, cookies” will not help. The instinct is too strong.
I will give you the following example to highlight this. The dog club were I used to work had certain rules. Females on heat were not allowed on or near the premises. One day however, someone, stupidly came with a female on heat. Within seconds males flocked to her and fought over her. The female was taken away by its owner and the other dogs returned to their respective classes but the havoc was such that we ended up suspending the classes for the day.

I know the person we encountered with the pack of dogs is a professional dog trainer. I find her totally irresponsible. My advice to people who have to have their dogs walked or looked after is: look around, ask around. Enquire and get references. Find out how they work. Don’t be too trusting and fooled by appearances ( snazzy van, diplomas, qualifications ). Remember it is your dog and you know what is best for him/her. Trust your instinct.

1 comment:

Winchester whisperer said...

How irresponsible! Glad Ozzy's recovered post rabbit