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Service K9 gets tired easy

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Old 03-11-2017, 07:19 PM
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Actually after looking at some info online, maybe it could be depression. It seems like he falls into a lot of the symptoms.

Poor guy. Besides trying to take him home, what else is possible to do to help him?
Your partner, human or canine is a critical part of your work task force. Like humans, each dog is an individual and has his or her own personality attributes. It would seem from your description, your canine partner requires more human interaction for his mental health, than he is getting. Ignoring his needs will not make the problem go away, any more than if he was a human partner. Since your system is the system you must work with, and if it can be changed, I understand it won't be an overnight change, perhaps it would be possible for you to spend some more off-hours time with him. That would at least give him some additional relief time from his off-hours cage life. It may not completely solve the problem, but it certainly can't hurt, and might really help. I don't know how much flexibility you might have, but I certainly wish you the best luck. Let us know how its going from time to time.
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Old 03-11-2017, 07:21 PM
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You know, I read some of the "advice" given in this thread and tried to bite my tongue but I feel compelled to speak my mind.

Some of the incredibly idealistic advice given is just simply so farfetched it is almost insulting. If you take a minute and want to think about dogs used in the arena of detection whether it be LE, military or other government functions, you might just appreciate the value these dogs bring to your lives. These living "tools" have saved many a life and there might be a good chance one of the lives these "tools" have saved is yours. Perhaps, a bit of respect is due to those who come here and ask an honest question instead of being lectured.
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Old 03-12-2017, 01:10 PM
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The raised bed is definitely something I want to look into. I think management likes to steer clear from putting beds in the kennels due to some dogs possibly wanting to destroy or could harm themselves by ingesting parts of the bed.
If you don't want to suggest PVC/canvas beds, plain STRAW is better than nothing. It boggles the mind that management cannot do better than this. How do you think that cold, hard concrete is on his joints when he lies down upon it? If the fear is that the dog will chew and ingest parts of whatever is put in his kennel, it speaks to the sociological and psychological condition of the dog, which is incredibly sad. Better to give him nothing than to teach him what is correct to eat or to lie upon? Really?


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But I think my dog in particular would do fine with one. I'm not sure that would help with his spinning though. I'd say a Kong wouldn't be a good idea since our dogs are rewarded with a kind with a rubber toy/PVC/ etc. So by placing a Kong in his kennel, I think the drive to want to make a find and play with a toy would diminish knowing he has a toy in his kennel.
They make hundreds of other kinds of toys. Perhaps not one you could leave with him in his kennel as no one has spent, or will spend, enough time with him to teach him not to eat it, but there are other kinds of toys that could be left with him and not be destroyed.


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The kennel size was just a guess. It could be bigger than what I'm quoting but I still wish it was bigger for him to move around. We've had to take all our dogs to a private kennel at one point and these kennels were big with an indoor/outdoor portion and every time I went to pick him up, he was happy and not spinning. Unfortunately there's no way for me to have him in a bigger run as we don't have anything bigger available.

The roughly 4'x6' kennel is his kennel he goes in when I'm off duty. He doesn't get to go home with anyone, as per our policy, he goes into his kennel along with about 20 other dogs.

Yes, all he gets to sleep on is the concrete. It's painted, but adding bedding could lead to more problems depending on the dog, such as injuring themselves by ingesting parts of the bedding.
See above.


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I'd like to have our kennels evaluated by an outside organization, but who exactly would I get in contact with? As much as I care for my dog and the others, I also care for my job/career and don't want it to lead to consequences that could leave me in trouble or unemployed.
If it were me, I absolutely WOULD NOT HESITATE. Your dog is your PARTNER. Don't you want the best care and living situation that he deserves? You are a trained officer. If you feel that you would be fired for advocating for better care and living conditions for your departments animals, I have no doubt whatsoever that your local newspaper would be on top of this faster than a fly on poop if the worst were to happen to you. Who do you think would come out on top in public opinion if something like this were taken to the press?
Contact: The Humane Society
Contact: The ASPCA
Contact your local shelter for help.
Write an anonymous letter to your superiors asking for posted guidance on how handlers can improve the living situation for their dogs.

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I wish I could take him home at night. His health would be so much better and I know I'd have a much better setup for him at my residence. But to make this change to our agency would take serious policy changes, and the whole thing would need to be revamped. Vehicles would need to be assigned to go home with the handlers etc etc. I am all for this change, but this change would have to become national policy with our agency.

I'm only 1 handler of many. It seems almost impossible for 1 person to try and push for something like this, but then there's also many handlers that prefer to leave the dogs on site kenneled as they wouldn't have to deal with the dog outside of work as they aren't as true of a dog lover as I am.
If you are a true dog lover, you know what to do. It is NOT impossible. I guarantee you, that if you paint the same picture for your local animal advocates as you have for us here, a whole lot of action would be forthcoming. Your dog works with and for you all day. He is MORE than just a tool that is put away in a steel box when you're done using it. As I wrote before, your dog is a thinking, feeling, EMOTIONAL creature. You can do more for him.
Thank you for your response and suggestions. I think I'll ask my supervisors for a raised bed and I'll even suggest to pay for it out of my own pocket if needed. I want him to get better rest when I'm duty so he's ready to have fun and work when I get on duty. I really think the bed will help.

But as far as leaving a toy in his kennel, I'll ask around with experienced handlers and get their opinion too. But like the other poster said, the toy is very significant in detection dogs. That's his reward for getting a find. That's his drive to work because the odor = toy and if a toy was placed in his kennel, his thinking would be why work for the toy if he gets one in his kennel? But maybe something different to play with in his kennel that's not close/associated with his reward might differentiate the two.

Thank you for the Human Society link. I think of management is unwilling to work with me in trying to solve his depression/lethargic issue, then I'll reach out to them. I don't think their living conditions are as bad as you think, and I'd hate to throw them under the bus if they want to help.

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They make hundreds of other kinds of toys. Perhaps not one you could leave with him in his kennel as no one has spent, or will spend, enough time with him to teach him not to eat it, but there are other kinds of toys that could be left with him and not be destroyed.



I think you are missing the point r3gul8r made regarding the significance of the toy.

To r3gul8r : I can appreciate your concern. A low energy mal just doesn't seem right especially when the dog is on task.

I wonder if your agency has cameras in the area where the dogs are put up while they aren't working. If not, I wonder if you could petition your employer to position one on your dog's kennel and see what takes place regarding restlessness in your absence. Even if you witnessed what you assume is happening, I think you might already have answered your question, as you cited he hates being away from you as you have a quality bond with the dog. Anxiety takes it toll unfortunately.
I've actually thought about just putting my go-pro in his kennel to see what he does on my time off. However I'll have to research a method that records longer because I think battery life only lasts 4ish hours. But this is definitely something I want to do.

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Actually after looking at some info online, maybe it could be depression. It seems like he falls into a lot of the symptoms.

Poor guy. Besides trying to take him home, what else is possible to do to help him?
Your partner, human or canine is a critical part of your work task force. Like humans, each dog is an individual and has his or her own personality attributes. It would seem from your description, your canine partner requires more human interaction for his mental health, than he is getting. Ignoring his needs will not make the problem go away, any more than if he was a human partner. Since your system is the system you must work with, and if it can be changed, I understand it won't be an overnight change, perhaps it would be possible for you to spend some more off-hours time with him. That would at least give him some additional relief time from his off-hours cage life. It may not completely solve the problem, but it certainly can't hurt, and might really help. I don't know how much flexibility you might have, but I certainly wish you the best luck. Let us know how its going from time to time.
I totally agree. He is my partner and plays a huge roll in what we do for work. If he didn't work, I can't work. His health and well-being is a big concern of mine, as to which why I'm reaching out to the community for some help.

It's definitely frustrating to try and work with him when he's tired but I've never taken it out on him as I know there's something else causing the issue. Other officers don't understand the issues and frustrations a K9 handler has to deal with his partner. Everyone thinks it's just a dog and it's trained to do it job but forget he's a living being with feelings and a brain. He's very smart too by the way and has a great nose for detection. I want him to get better rest so when we do work together, we perform well and shine.

As far as coming in off duty, I've done it before when I'm on leave for extended periods of time and get him out and play. But that's something I do without letting management knows because how our agency works sometimes, let's say I came in to let him get some exercise and either I or him get hurt off the clock, or an incident occurs, big questions are going to arise. I don't really think that would happen but I try to get him more 'let the dog be a dog' play time.
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Old 03-12-2017, 01:10 PM
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You know, I read some of the "advice" given in this thread and tried to bite my tongue but I feel compelled to speak my mind.

Some of the incredibly idealistic advice given is just simply so farfetched it is almost insulting. If you take a minute and want to think about dogs used in the arena of detection whether it be LE, military or other government functions, you might just appreciate the value these dogs bring to your lives. These living "tools" have saved many a life and there might be a good chance one of the lives these "tools" have saved is yours. Perhaps, a bit of respect is due to those who come here and ask an honest question instead of being lectured.
Thank you, and yes I totally agree. I know me and my partner have probably saved a few lives since we've been assigned together from stopping numerous amounts of drugs from getting into our communities. Some of these ideas are great and I understand the concern but getting the agency to switch from kenneled to going home is pretty far-fetched. Is it possible to try and get a petition started, yes, but getting it national with facts and reasons will be very hard to change. I would need a team and a bunch of people on board across the US to push for something like this and I'd have no idea where to start.

But thank you all for your concerns and suggestions as there's a bunch of things I'm going to try. I'm surprised no one gave a thought about the flea and tick, Activyl, we use as I think that also plays into his demeanor.
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Old 03-12-2017, 02:04 PM
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I totally agree. He is my partner and plays a huge roll in what we do for work. If he didn't work, I can't work. His health and well-being is a big concern of mine, as to which why I'm reaching out to the community for some help.

It's definitely frustrating to try and work with him when he's tired but I've never taken it out on him as I know there's something else causing the issue. Other officers don't understand the issues and frustrations a K9 handler has to deal with his partner. Everyone thinks it's just a dog and it's trained to do it job but forget he's a living being with feelings and a brain. He's very smart too by the way and has a great nose for detection. I want him to get better rest so when we do work together, we perform well and shine.

As far as coming in off duty, I've done it before when I'm on leave for extended periods of time and get him out and play. But that's something I do without letting management knows because how our agency works sometimes, let's say I came in to let him get some exercise and either I or him get hurt off the clock, or an incident occurs, big questions are going to arise. I don't really think that would happen but I try to get him more 'let the dog be a dog' play time.

You seem very insightful, caring and thoughtful, regarding your canine partner, and for that I certainly respect you. Also, if it was mentioned, I missed it, but THANK YOU for the work you and your partner do for us. I know life for all of us is somewhat less grim because of the work you and your partner perform for us.
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Old 03-12-2017, 03:00 PM
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I totally agree. He is my partner and plays a huge roll in what we do for work. If he didn't work, I can't work. His health and well-being is a big concern of mine, as to which why I'm reaching out to the community for some help.

It's definitely frustrating to try and work with him when he's tired but I've never taken it out on him as I know there's something else causing the issue. Other officers don't understand the issues and frustrations a K9 handler has to deal with his partner. Everyone thinks it's just a dog and it's trained to do it job but forget he's a living being with feelings and a brain. He's very smart too by the way and has a great nose for detection. I want him to get better rest so when we do work together, we perform well and shine.

As far as coming in off duty, I've done it before when I'm on leave for extended periods of time and get him out and play. But that's something I do without letting management knows because how our agency works sometimes, let's say I came in to let him get some exercise and either I or him get hurt off the clock, or an incident occurs, big questions are going to arise. I don't really think that would happen but I try to get him more 'let the dog be a dog' play time.

You seem very insightful, caring and thoughtful, regarding your canine partner, and for that I certainly respect you. Also, if it was mentioned, I missed it, but THANK YOU for the work you and your partner do for us. I know life for all of us is somewhat less grim because of the work you and your partner perform for us.
We thank you for the appreciation.

Here's a photo of him to put a face to who we are taking about:
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Old 03-12-2017, 03:57 PM
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Hi there everyone. I'm new to the forums and a first time poster.

I'm a K9 handler for a certain agency and I'm concerned about my current service partner's tiring out issue. He's a beautiful dark mask and paws, fawn colored 3 year old Belgian Malinois.

At our facility, we kennel our K9s at our work location when we are off duty. There's roughly 20 or so dogs at our facility which are also kenneled there on a daily basis.

Lately, when I deploy my partner, his attitude has changed quite a bit since I first brought him back about a year ago. His whole temperament and body language just speaks like, "I'm tired and don't want to be doing this.". I try to cheer him up, play with him, get him engaged and make it fun for him since his job is to use his nose. But it looks like he isn't having fun and I feel like there's an underlying problem.

He is a kennel spinner and spins a lot after I put him up after shift. His kennel I'd say is 4' by 6', so there's plenty of room for some movement but not enough for my liking. I wish he had more room. He doesn't spin aggressively or go wild in the kennel, but he definitely hates being in there and away from me, his only real bonding partner. Other handlers on shift watch out for all the dogs at the kennels, including feeding etc. Throughout the day, handlers move in and out of the kennels getting their dog or other regular duties. Other dogs typically bark throughout the day as well.

My concern here is that maybe he's not getting enough rest when I'm off duty due to all this, plus the fact that he only gets to sleep on the painted concrete. When I get on duty, he's happy to see me, has the drive to go. After I work him for a bit, I give him time to rest, either put him in a outdoor kennel or my assigned vehicle. This is when his tiredness really comes into play. After a break, I go get him to work him some more and he's just exhausted as if he took a quick nap or got sleepy and now he doesn't want to work. Then the rest of shift is history as his work levels are poor.

On top of that, it's near the beginning of the month and at the beginning of each month, per policy, I have to administer flea and tick medicine on his coat/skin. We currently use Activyl. Now maybe it's the Activyl causing him to act this way or something and causing me to think it's not enough rest in his actual kennel.

Could Activyl cause this side effect on him? I mean he acts very lethargic lately and I can't remember if these past months if he acts the same way at the beginning of each month.

We just went to the Vet the other day for his annual shots and check up and the vet said everything looks fine and his blood work was normal.

Can anyone help me fix this issue with his tiredness/lethargic temperament? I've brought the issue up to my supervisors but I guess they just don't seem to care and will always claim it's the handlers fault etc etc. I'm a dog person, I love dogs, I'm passionate about them and that's why I chose to become a K9 handler. But I also want the dog to enjoy work and to see him acting this way is causing me to reach out for some guidance.

Thank you.
Hello. I trained my service dog Cosmo so I'd love to offer some thoughts. Service dogs can develop working stress or anxiety during any point in their career and it seems like this guy is beginning to show signs of stress from working. The kennel spinning is a clear sign of stress and it sounds like this is not a good environment for him. A 4 x 6 kennel is very small for a mal and isn't somewhere I would put my dog to spend their days while not working. Working is high stress and to be in a stressed situation for hours and then go straight into a non stimulating environment where there's nothing to do sounds like it could be very upsetting.

They're also on concrete constantly? That can't be comfortable. It's likely he's not sleeping well. Paired with the barking in the kennel I'd say stress, lack of rest, and lack of stimulation could be all factors in his behavior.

If he's not enjoying working and is displaying signs of stress and depression as I believe he is, he should be washed and it would be unfair to force him to work. Though a lot of the issues seem to be with the facility itself so I wouldn't be surprised if this is a common issue
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Old 03-12-2017, 05:32 PM
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I'm surprised no one gave a thought about the flea and tick, Activyl, we use as I think that also plays into his demeanor.
Your original post prompted me to look up the side effects of indoxacarb and I found little if anything which would connect the dots. As long as the dose is within reason, any side effects seemed to be minimal especially since it is used topically. Ingestion of indoxacarb is a different story however, maladies such as anemia, weight loss and ataxia are possible.

I guess if it were me and you didn't previously use Activyl, I would use a different product with fipronil or some other brand which doesn't contain indoxacarb. I suppose you have to start somewhere and since you have a hunch this might play into the situation at hand, I'd nix the Activyl. Wouldn't it be nice if it ends up being that easy. I'm guessing you probably have already pursued this course or will when the next dosage is due.
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Old 03-12-2017, 09:11 PM
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When the place is that crowded then there's a huge chance that your dog might be stress, I would also suggest you allow him to rest atleast half an hour during his duty. Dog also get tired and with the kind of environment that he has comes the fact that he will immediately get tired even if his on work which won't be good. I would suggest that you buy him a crate mad or pad so that he will have comfortable place to sleep, you can find cheap beds on good quality at pet street mall if you don't have a time to visit the nearest pet store. What did the vet said after the check up? How was your K9 doing now?
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Old 03-13-2017, 01:24 AM
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Hi there everyone. I'm new to the forums and a first time poster.

I'm a K9 handler for a certain agency and I'm concerned about my current service partner's tiring out issue. He's a beautiful dark mask and paws, fawn colored 3 year old Belgian Malinois.

At our facility, we kennel our K9s at our work location when we are off duty. There's roughly 20 or so dogs at our facility which are also kenneled there on a daily basis.

Lately, when I deploy my partner, his attitude has changed quite a bit since I first brought him back about a year ago. His whole temperament and body language just speaks like, "I'm tired and don't want to be doing this.". I try to cheer him up, play with him, get him engaged and make it fun for him since his job is to use his nose. But it looks like he isn't having fun and I feel like there's an underlying problem.

He is a kennel spinner and spins a lot after I put him up after shift. His kennel I'd say is 4' by 6', so there's plenty of room for some movement but not enough for my liking. I wish he had more room. He doesn't spin aggressively or go wild in the kennel, but he definitely hates being in there and away from me, his only real bonding partner. Other handlers on shift watch out for all the dogs at the kennels, including feeding etc. Throughout the day, handlers move in and out of the kennels getting their dog or other regular duties. Other dogs typically bark throughout the day as well.

My concern here is that maybe he's not getting enough rest when I'm off duty due to all this, plus the fact that he only gets to sleep on the painted concrete. When I get on duty, he's happy to see me, has the drive to go. After I work him for a bit, I give him time to rest, either put him in a outdoor kennel or my assigned vehicle. This is when his tiredness really comes into play. After a break, I go get him to work him some more and he's just exhausted as if he took a quick nap or got sleepy and now he doesn't want to work. Then the rest of shift is history as his work levels are poor.

On top of that, it's near the beginning of the month and at the beginning of each month, per policy, I have to administer flea and tick medicine on his coat/skin. We currently use Activyl. Now maybe it's the Activyl causing him to act this way or something and causing me to think it's not enough rest in his actual kennel.

Could Activyl cause this side effect on him? I mean he acts very lethargic lately and I can't remember if these past months if he acts the same way at the beginning of each month.

We just went to the Vet the other day for his annual shots and check up and the vet said everything looks fine and his blood work was normal.

Can anyone help me fix this issue with his tiredness/lethargic temperament? I've brought the issue up to my supervisors but I guess they just don't seem to care and will always claim it's the handlers fault etc etc. I'm a dog person, I love dogs, I'm passionate about them and that's why I chose to become a K9 handler. But I also want the dog to enjoy work and to see him acting this way is causing me to reach out for some guidance.

Thank you.
Hello. I trained my service dog Cosmo so I'd love to offer some thoughts. Service dogs can develop working stress or anxiety during any point in their career and it seems like this guy is beginning to show signs of stress from working. The kennel spinning is a clear sign of stress and it sounds like this is not a good environment for him. A 4 x 6 kennel is very small for a mal and isn't somewhere I would put my dog to spend their days while not working. Working is high stress and to be in a stressed situation for hours and then go straight into a non stimulating environment where there's nothing to do sounds like it could be very upsetting.

They're also on concrete constantly? That can't be comfortable. It's likely he's not sleeping well. Paired with the barking in the kennel I'd say stress, lack of rest, and lack of stimulation could be all factors in his behavior.

If he's not enjoying working and is displaying signs of stress and depression as I believe he is, he should be washed and it would be unfair to force him to work. Though a lot of the issues seem to be with the facility itself so I wouldn't be surprised if this is a common issue
Thank you for your input. He's always has been a spinner in the kennel since I acquired him as my partner at K9 school, so it's not something new as of late. I just know he does it a lot and it's probably something that tires him out. Unfortunately the 4'x6' (rough estimate) size kennel is the only choice I have for him. On our working days when it's slow, I let him in my assigned vehicle to get some peace and quiet and that's when he usually gets the most tired. (It looks like catch up rest to me)

I'm going to do my research on putting my go pro in his kennel to monitor what he does during our off hours to provide my superiors some proof of little rest when I calculate his 'rest' time. After that, I'm sure getting him a bed will be easy, otherwise I'll ask to provide him a raised bed out of my pocket. I mean, our agency spends a lot of money on these dogs, you'd think they'd want what's best for these dogs as I do. But yes, all that's available to him to lay down on in his kennel is the concrete, otherwise a rubber mat in my vehicle.

I'm not sure what you mean by "he should be washed". If you are referring to him being retired etc, I highly doubt that would happen because I know when he works, he works well and has a great nose. His tiredness would have to be a full-on problem from here on out and it would have to be documented from a trainer before he would ever be retired early or sent back to school.

I'm actually considering transferring within my agency to a different location because I would like to get away from my current spot because I know if my partner got to the right location, with better trainers and better kennel facilities, he would thrive. I'm not looking to transfer just because of the kennel situation, but also for personal and family reasons as well.
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