The Primal Blog

Why Dog Parks Are a Bad Idea and Why Off Leash Dogs Suck Part Two

This post actually applies to dog parks and any place where people decide to let their dog be off leash despite the fact that their dog is supposed to be leashed. A very small percentage of dogs have been trained to the extent that their off leash skills are impeccable and worthy of actually being off leash. For the other 99% of dogs this is not the case, but that does not stop the vast majority of owners from letting their dogs run wild all the while not knowing how to truly gauge the temperament of their dog. The excuses are vast when dogs are growling, snarling, snapping, pinning other dogs to the ground or even attacking other dogs. We all hear it all the time, people will say how friendly their dog is and how great they are with all dogs, but usually it is that people are overall unable to come to terms with the idea that their dog might not be as friendly with people, dogs, or social situations as they thought. I have spoke to Mike Jones (the owner and head trainer of Primal Canine) about many times; it is not that people are bad owners, it is simply just that people are not in touch with or have a legitimate understanding of dog behavior, body language and basic training/dog manners.


Something I hear often is the term “socialization.” Many people perceive dog parks as a necessary step in the socialization of their dog while believing that socialization comes from a dog experiencing many unknown people, places, dogs and stimuli all at once, and over and over again. As this surely counts as life experience and definitely counts as placing a dog under environmental stress…this is NOT proper socialization. Expecting that your dog will get along with all other dogs is like expecting a human being to love all other human beings. This is unrealistic and in this situation dogs are no different. I find it troublesome when people bring dogs to public places who are clearly uncomfortable with the entire situation as they are flanked with strange dogs and people. This brings me to the next thing I commonly hear from owners, “oh he/she is just nervous, he/she just needs to get used to people/dogs/the park etc.” Well, thrusting your dog into an awkward and uncomfortable social situation is a sure fire way to set the stage for a disaster. If your dog is aggressive or nervous around other people and dogs, what you need is training – THEN structured socialization, not forced, unstructured discomfort in hopes that your dog just works through their issues on their own. Dog parks and public parks are NOT the place to socialize your dog, or bring a dog that an owner can otherwise not control on leash, so it is the last resort for this dog to have exercise.


It is exhausting and scary for those of us who are being responsible and leashing our dogs to watch all of the dog fights and scuffles that occur and wonder if next it will be our dog that is attacked or approached by a poorly mannered dog whose owner is none the wiser. This brings me to the next concern I have; I have four “Pit Bulls” and if there is a conflict even if my dog is licensed, well trained, leashed and the victim defending itself – my dog will be blamed. While walking on what is supposed to be a leashed dog area in a wildlife reserve park yesterday, my leashed American Bully was mounted and humped on three separate occasions by different dogs. Each time the owners not only did nothing, but they stood there and laughed as their dog humped my dog because to them it was funny. My dog, as most dogs, tried to get away and after about 15 seconds began trying to nip at the other dog – suddenly the owners cared about the situation and pulled their unleashed dog off of my dog. The most ridiculous part of each instance where this happened (all three times) the owners only cared about controlling their dog when they thought their dog was in danger of being bitten by a “Pit Bull.” Allowing your unleashed dog to run free out of your sight, knowing that your dog loves to be the dog park rapist is a great way for your dog to get bitten. The lack of manners on the part of owners and dogs alike does not even stop there. I have issues walking my dogs in my neighborhood where people constantly allow their off leash dog to run up to my dog and from dozens of yards away yell about how friendly their dog is. Well, that’s great but what if my dog was not? Once again suddenly my dog would be the aggressor because of their breed and the other dog would be labeled the victim because it was just a friendly Lab, Spaniel, Shih Tzu or whatever just strolling up to say hello. That situation would never be acceptable if it was reversed.


Overall, public places are supposed to be safe places where people and dogs can enjoy their outing and not have to worry if their dog is going to be safe or not. Leash laws are there to protect your dog and others dogs. Not leashing your dog is ruining the experience of the owners who are actually being responsible. Please remember to be competent about your dog’s likes and dislikes and ability to be in social situations, and always leash your dog. 

Dogs Are Not Vegans

While I know this is a sensitive topic that is near and dear to the hearts of many who have made the decision to become vegetarians or vegans themselves, I still have strong feelings about the idea of pushing these beliefs and practices on dogs. In no way is my opinion of this matter intended to be disrespectful to those who have made this personal decision. I respect your choice because it was an autonomous choice you made. Dogs, however, are not autonomous. As our pets, and as dogs, their free will and ability to choose aspects of their life is largely controlled and limited by us as their owners. For that reason (and a couple others), I find it difficult to respect someone’s decision to push their personal beliefs onto a being who does not have the conscious knowledge or the ability to make such a choice. Especially when that choice has the potential to cause damage and harm to the health of a dog.


The amount of information available on this topic is varied, and the amount of debate behind whether dogs can, or should live on a vegan diet is vast, to say the least. I do not care about what was written in a magazine, or what someone posted on the web site they created. I only care about peer reviewed, academic, published research because such information was not written with a vengeful bias, nor is it a regurgitated collection of what someone found on a googling spree as they assumed that all information found on a .com or .org website was valid. Peer reviewed, academic research is based on fact, empirical evidence and repetitive scientific studies which have been reviewed and scoured for validity. But even at that, a consumer themselves has to be capable of knowing what information is valid and where to find it. It should not have to be stated, but everything you read on the internet is not real and if it is, be aware that valid information can be cut and pasted to support ideal it was not intended to.


When a pro-vegan dog diet website states that dogs can be vegan because a study at so and so university “suggests” that dogs have evolved enough to break down starches and plant based proteins, please read more into where that information came from. The article/research this website spoke of is over three years old and was not a study to prove or support that dogs can be vegan and be healthy, the study was about the evolution of domesticated dogs and how some findings suggest that dogs could be considered omnivores at best…not vegans. The facts are that there are no longitudinal, scientific studies that document and research the impact that a vegan diet has on a dog over time.


I have read in random places that a vegan diet can simulate all of the nutrients that dog needs and would get from a carnivore/omnivore diet. But the dietary needs are complex, and need to be absolutely exact for your dog’s weight, breed, age, size, and specific bodily needs to avoid any health complications. What worries me is that there are people who cannot even correctly feed a dog with bagged kibble because they have no idea what their dog even weighs or that there is a suggested feeding scale on the side of the bag. A step up from that, there are people who choose to feed raw, and think that means a dog is fed chicken breasts. Hell, there are still people who think dogs cannot eat bones and meat should be cooked first. Despite the immense amount of passion that vegans have for their cause, I just can not realistically see many people having the resources and scientific knowledge that it would take to create and manage a proper vegan diet for a dog. Passion is not enough to override science and the biological bias that dogs have for a primarily carnivorous diet. As many advances as dogs have made in their evolution from wolves, that evolution has yet to advance to a degree which I would feel comfortable enough to radically change and limit my dog’s diet and what they need to be healthy. If veganism is important enough to someone that they must share is with their pet, then please get a horse or a rabbit or any other animal whose diet naturally aligns with your personal beliefs. 

Our Dogs Are Not Perfect and That's Okay

I will be a bully breed fanatic until the end without a doubt, and promoting this breed in a positive light will always be a priority for me. I realize as pit bull/ bully breed owners we will defend and protect our dogs to no end because of the already unfair and ridiculous myths and stereotypes that exist about them. We feel the need to shield them from these accusations and at all costs promote the best breed image possible. I have noticed that while in the midst of this noble effort, there are many people (non-bully breed owners as well) who deny…even lie to themselves, that their dog is in dire need of training.

Whether this comes from a disproportionate outlook on what behavior is acceptable from a dog, or from our willingness to make excuses for the animals we love so much. Maybe it is because we feel that rescued dogs or pit bulls as a breed have had such a tough life until this point, they should be allowed more freedom. Personally, I have thought maybe this can be my way of saying I was sorry for someone abusing or neglecting my dogs in the past and this will right those past wrongs in some cosmic karma sort of way. That is about as far as I have gotten with my introspection on that topic, but it seems to be applicable to the way that I hear many people speak about their reasoning for managing their dogs in the way that they do. Allowing bad behaviors to manifest for whatever reason is not helping yourself or your dog or the general image of the pit bull breed.

I guess getting back to my point, we as pit bull owners seem to be scared to admit that often our dogs do have issues like food aggression, dog aggression, people aggression. jumping, barking, biting, high prey drive etc. We tend to think if we are open about a pit bull having one or more of these issues, we are supporting the time old traditional stereotypes about pit bulls. But lets not forget that foremost, pit bulls are dogs. Dogs have these issues, whether we have adopted an adult dog or puppy, or even purchased one from a breeder. It is okay to admit that pit bulls will carry some natural “breed” (obviously that word is being used as a loose term before somebody tells me that pit bulls are not technically a breed) traits and characteristics. Some of those being a high prey drive, being highly aware and alert of their surroundings and being sensitive or aggressive towards other dogs if not properly socialized or correctly introduced to another dog.

Another facet to this issue is added by people who lie to themselves and others on social media about their dog(s) being better behaved than they really are in real life. This bothers me to no end because nothing about this is truly helping the breed image. All these people are doing is hiding a problem with their dog, while promoting their dog to be a model citizen of the breed to the public. While on a surface level, yes, cute and well selected photos of a pit bull will look good for everybody to see, but what’s the point of that if off camera this dog is at the dog park attacking other dogs, yanking you around while on leash and barking non-stop at your neighbors? Good breed image, bully breed advocacy and legitimate responsible dog ownership transcends social media posts and cute, well posed photos. Anybody on Instagram and Facebook can pose their dogs for pictures and talk about what it means to be a responsible pit bull owner. That only means something to me if in real life you are open to truly assessing your dog’s behavior; good and bad. It is simple to focus on all the positive things our dogs do. What I truly respect is if somebody can admit that they are dealing with issues with their dog, especially a pit bull. Because deep down we all know that announcing the good all over social media takes no effort, but to announce the at times ugly side of dog ownership is hard.

My dogs are not perfect and I am still learning everyday about what it takes to be a better dog owner. All in all, being a responsible dog owner and pit bull advocate starts with being able to realize our dogs are not perfect, neither are we, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is trying to save face with your family, friends, followers or even yourself when it comes to assessing and dealing with a dog’s behavioral issues. We all want people to love pit bulls as much as we all do, and see them for the sweet, loving babies we know they are. This starts with accepting that there is a constant need for proper structure, management and training, especially being under the microscope as a pit bull owner and lover. 



10 Easy Ways To Keep Your Dog Healthy And Happy

keeping dog healthy primal canine bay area dog training

1. Prevent ear infections:

Prevent ear infections:

newplasticmachine / Via Flickr: isadoresalien

Before giving your dog a bath, or sending him swimming, dab a couple cotton balls in baby oil and place them in his ears.

2. Remove burs:

Remove burs:

Teresa Alexander-Arab / Via Flickr: bambe1964

Any good day in the forest with your dog will probably result in a fresh layer of burs. To get them out, massage all-vegetable shortening into any bur-filled areas and slowly pull the bur from the fur.

3. Protect against gum disease:

Protect against gum disease:

stuartpilbrow / Via Flickr: stuartpilbrow

Four out of five dogs over the age of 3 have gum disease. A daily dose of Dentastix, combined with tooth brushing and an annual visit to the vet can keep your dog out of the majority.

4. Stay safe from the sun:

Stay safe from the sun:

Javi / Via Flickr: javism

Apply a little bit of baby sunscreen to your dog’s nose, ears, and anywhere else that might be susceptible to sunburn. In the summertime, remember to walk him in the shade or grass since hot sidewalks can burn his delicate paws.

5. Ease arthritis and joint pain:

Ease arthritis and joint pain:

Tim Dawson / Via Flickr: cowcoptim

Keeping your dog at a healthy weight relieves pressure on his joints. There are also several healthy joint care food options at your local pet store. (Rumor has it that belly rubs help too :))

6. Stop bleeding nails:

Stop bleeding nails:

Misserion / Via Flickr: misserion

If your dog stubs a toe or cracks a nail and you see blood, simply dip the paw in corn starch to stop the bleeding.

7. Relieve itchy skin:

Relieve itchy skin:

Donnie Ray Jones / Via Flickr: donnieray

Mix baby oatmeal in with your next dog bath for instant itch relief.

8. And itchy paws:

And itchy paws:

SaraYeomans / Via Flickr: 36302954@N00

If it’s your dog’s paws that are bugging him, dissolve Epsom salt into two inches of water. Let your dog stand in the tub for 10 minutes - just make sure he doesn’t drink any of the water.

9. Keep an eye out for ticks:

Keep an eye out for ticks:

Search your dog for ticks daily (and especially well after outdoor activities). If you find one embedded in your dog, remove it with a tweezers and bring him to the vet.

10. Prevent dehydration:

Prevent dehydration:

Tony Alter / Via Flickr: 78428166@N00

Keep your dog hydrated during the hot, summer months by taking a collapsible bowl with you when you’re on the go - you can fill it up periodically with fresh water so your pup will never be thirsty.