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Why Do Dogs Show their Hackles?



We begin this week’s “RUFF TAILS” featuring a beautiful Belgian Malinois/Shepherd/Rottweiler mix named Otis.


When I arrived at my forever home, my mom and dad thought I was a Labrador mix. Surprise, surprise!!!!! I had a lot of energy and had no previous training. I would jump up on people and bark often. With lots of patience and hard work, my mom and dad said I am now a great addition to the family, a loyal companion, and the sweetest dog.





I love chasing any ball, playing tug of war, playing hide and seek, and look now, I am learning how to “FLY” HEE! HEE!




****************************************************************************** K-9 CORNER WITH PAUL CAISSIE: OFF LEASH PACK WALKS


It is essential to exercise your dog’s daily. Many dog owners choose on-leash dog walks to facilitate this need.


As a long time, dog owner and a professional working dog handler, I made the decision to exercise my dogs daily with off-leash pack walks.


I learned many years ago that on-leash residential walking can present a variety of issues within any urban environment. I have had other dog owners that would allow their dogs to walk up to my dogs without permission. Many on-leash or even off- leash dogs would run up without warning. For many years I have watched many dog owners struggle with control or recall of their own dog.


With these difficult encounters in the past, I made the decision that there should be a more peaceful and safer way to exercise my dogs. I made the decision to load up my dogs in the truck and found many open areas in my neighborhood to run my dogs off -leash.


I have learned that this is an amazing way to exercise and play with your dogs. You can practice your canine’s recall and retrieving skills. I found this was more stimulating for my dogs and my dogs were more engaged.



I would only recommend this type of pack walking to clients if your canine has been properly trained and have a committed recall. This recall should be consistent, even under distractions, such as other animals, humans, or prey.


I work with many of our clients in this area, in the obedience program and/or e-collar training to achieve this off-leash control. Traditional techniques with leashes and training collars will introduce this positive behaviour as well. However, training with an e-collar will fast track this and ensure the level of consistency needed.

EVERY DAY IS A TRAINING DAY.

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Welcome to Doggie Dialogue


The hackles are the hairs along your canine’s backbone that start in his/her neck area and extend along his/her spine down to their tail.


When the hair/fur rises, this is called piloerection. This is an involuntary reflex triggered by some sort of arousal your canine is feeling and is completely out of his/her control. This can last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes until they become completely relaxed again.



This response is often seen as a sign of aggression. This is not always the case. In fact, dogs maybe raising their hackles because they are startled, nervous, fearful, excited, or simply on high alert.


Like humans getting “goosebumps”, it is similar phenomenon in your dog. Your canine’s adrenaline can trigger a “fight or flight” response.

In dogs this “adrenaline surge” traps air between the hair shafts and fluffs him/her up making your canine appear larger.



The hackles are more noticeable in breeds with stiff, short coats.



Hunting dogs will raise their hackles when that are “pointing” at a bird or prey, as they will be hyper-focused.


Dogs that show their hackles spanning only along the shoulders, can indicate low confidence and nervousness. Shedding is common from dogs in this category too, also indicating fear.


Dogs that have a thin line of hair extending down the entire spine, from shoulder to tail, often indicates a confident dog.


This is when it is important for you as a dog owner to be aware of your canine’s body language and positioning. If your canine’s hackles are up, tail is straight, body is stiffened, your dog could be feeling tense. You must stay calm and keep moving forward, not allowing your canine to get fixated.



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