So all-and-all a great weekend. Since it rained a lot so we stayed in our friends' camper for breakfasts and to play board games. The dogs stayed very well alone in ours (which was right next door), we just kept a constant ear out to make sure they didn't start barking.
The presence of tons of kids made me a little nervous about having Sparky along. I always get worried that some kid is going to run up behind him and pull his irresistible long tail (I have to admit, it looks like it NEEDS to be pulled, since it is so long and has a cute little curl at the end) and freak him out. He is especially sensitive about said tail. I have worked really hard to build his confidence around a lot of people, I don't want to backtrack now.
BUT, the kids were GREAT. Not one child tried to pet him without asking first. So when I thought he might be a little overwhelmed I would ask kids not to pet them, and not one tried to anyways.
It seemed all the kids present had been taught how to stay safe around dogs. Coincidentally it was also the end of Dog Bite Prevention Week. So, in honor of that I will post tips from the ASPCA regarding kids and dog bites. These tips are all especially important for kids to live by at campgrounds:
"According to a survey conducted by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually, with 800,000 individuals—half of them children—requiring medical treatment.
- Children should not approach, touch or play with any dog who is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
- Children should not pet unfamiliar dogs without asking permission from the dog's guardian first. If the guardian says it is okay, the child should first let the dog sniff his closed hand.
- If a child sees a dog off-leash outside, he should tell an adult immediately.
- If a loose dog comes near a child, she should not run or scream. Instead, she should avoid eye contact with the animal and stand very still, like a tree, until the animal moves away."
A Few Dogs
We got rushed on twice by two dogs off lead. Luckily things went ok, although Sparky was on high alert.
However, when were sitting near our campfire we saw a beautiful dog running loose with four kids chasing after him. They thought they were trying to capture him. He thought they were playing tag, and was determined NOT to be it. I looked at Mark and said, "Do you think I should help them?" But by the time I got up they had tackled the dog, and we didn't see him off leash again!
Now, I am not saying that I am the perfect dog mom. My dogs have gotten out a time or two. But I am ULTRA careful (really to the point of paranoia) when camping. Especially at this campground which was right on I-75 (there were fences up, but a resourceful dog wouldn't be hindered by this). Also, if dogs get loose, I am not sending the kids after him. I am grabbing the nearest steak and bribing them if their recall doesn't work (but because I take my dogs lots of places I have trained an extensive "come" and rarely does it not work).
So the moral to this story is, if your dog camps, work that recall (coming when called). And not just at home. Bring them to parks and practice with heavy rewards. Bring them to friends houses. Bring them hiking and practice, practice, practice.
One of my favorite ways to practice the recall is to bring your dogs hiking on a long line (mine is 30 feet). Duck behind a tree and call them. Call them just once and make little noises (I clap and make kissing noises) to help them find me. Throw a party when they find you. This is a fun game that helps them want to find me, and it also helps them learn to keep their focus on me. When I am camping near woods I like to play this game when we first get to our campground to reinforce good "come" response.