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Your dog training questions answered

 January 24, 2024 at 1:38 PM PST

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. San Diegans love their dogs , and many of you have asked how to train them. Today. We've got answers. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's the conversations that keep you informed , inspired , and make you think. Rule number one , when training a dog is to let go of misconceptions.

S2: I think a big one is people viewing the pet as if they have human emotions , and sometimes that gets in the way of resolving behavior issues.

S1: More on that and more of your questions. Plus , if you're looking to adopt a pet , we'll tell you how that's ahead on Midday Edition. January is National Train Your Dog month. And since we know San Diegans love their dogs , we wanted to learn more about them and why they do some of the things they do. And we just love to talk about our canine companions. One you can hear in the studio enjoying a lovely snack. So I'll say San Diego is known for being a dog friendly town , including our studio here. In fact , it has been one of the top 25 dog friendly cities in the U.S. for the last five years. We reached out to you , the audience , to see what questions you had when it comes to your dogs behavior , and here to help us talk all about it. Is Angie forsaken ? She is a San Diego area animal behavior specialist. Angie , welcome to Midday Edition. Thank you. We've got a guest in here with us. Tell us about Nola.

S2: This is Nola , and she's my what we call foster fail. Um , she's nine years old. I started handling her when she was three weeks. She was born at the shelter that I worked at , and I fostered her and her brothers and just couldn't let her go when it was time for her to go up for adoption. So here we are.

S1: I wonderful. Well. Welcome , Nola.

S2: She might have a little snack throughout our talk. Okay.

S1: Okay. All right. I too would like a little snack , but , um. That's okay.

S2: Her mama that she came into the shelter with was a Chihuahua , and I assumed terrier mix , but we had her DNA done , which , turns out those tests are maybe not 100% accurate , but I think it's fun. Anyway , she came back as Chihuahua mini poodle. Yeah , there was no terrier Chihuahua mini poodle.

S1: So she's a brown and white cute as a button lap dog.

S2: Um , with her , she has a beard and a mustache.

S1: And a beard and a mustache. Lots of personality. Mhm. And so it seems everyone's pet has a lot of personality and they're all unique.

S2: They may have. I'm certain that they're full of emotions , but whether or not they are similar to ours or translated the same way , who knows ? That's not a question that we can ask them. And sometimes that gets in the way of resolving behavior issues. So a lot of times I have to kind of work through the idea that a pet is feeling a certain way , based on the way that we would perceive that scenario. It may be true that , you know , a dog feels jealous or an emotion such as jealousy , but we can't be certain. And so I treat the behavior that I'm observing rather than trying to interpret each behavior. So that's kind of , you know , that's a big part of what I do. Let's just talk about what you're observing and how we can resolve that. Wow.

S1: Wow. So that in mind , there are a lot of different approaches then when it comes to animal behavior. Can you talk a little bit about your approach and sensibilities a bit more ? Sure.

S2: It's easy to find many , many different people doing different things with animals. In terms of training. Um , I don't approach pets differently than a zoo , for example , would approach the animals in their care , the techniques we call them cooperative care. So what that means is the animal is fully participating at their will. I don't do anything with an animal that would cause them to run away from me or try to avoid me. So oftentimes we call that fear free , force free positive methods. But the bottom line is the animal wants to participate in the training. Hmm.

S1: Well , we reached out to some of our listeners to see what questions they had , and one common one had to do with barking. Probably not a big surprise that that would come up. Here's a question we received from Christy. Take a listen.

S3: Hi , I have a nine year old pug and we recently moved to a busy neighborhood. He barks at anyone who walks , jogs or bikes past our house.

S1:

S2: But because it's a symptom of the environment , what that means is we can make adjustments to the environment to decrease the likelihood of barking. So chances are , if the dog is barking because of a visual , we can block that visual. Very simple. I mean , each case involves different solutions , but in general we can often just close the blinds or close the door or block the dog's view of wherever there were getting that barking from. A really cool solution that sometimes people have a really hard time following through with , but I think it works really well when people actually apply. It is just privacy vinyl over a window , like a front window , and you don't even have to do the full window , but you could just do like half of the window just just above the dog's sightline. You know , you can get ones that are kind of frosted. So they still let the light in , but the dog can't see out. Anytime anyone has taken this advice , it has worked really , really well. It's a simple solution , a cheap solution , and it's maybe a compromise to some extent , but it's really helpful just to kind of block that visual.

S1: Are certain dogs yappy or than others ? Probably.

S2: I would probably call it sound sensitivity. Some dogs are more sensitive than others , just like people. And so if you have a dog that's more sensitive to sound or more sensitive to movement , you're going to get more behaviors from them that you might consider disruptive.

S1:

S2: To what extent it plays a role is hard for us to know. But I do take that into consideration when I'm consulting with people. You know , if it's a dog that has been bred to use its voice like a Jack Russell , for example , they are bred to bark. If you get a Jack Russell , you can expect barking.

S4: Mhm mhm. All right.

S1: Now a related question here. And this one's from Sherry Knoll. She's from our audience. And she asks I'd like help with alert barking in the middle of the night. My puppy wakes me up in the middle of the night when he hears any sort of sound. Unfortunately though , this leads me to pet him and shush him to be quiet , which I am sure is feeding into the issue. What can I do to help curb this behavior ? Um.

S4:

S2: My first question would be are you getting barking during the day as well ? So this , I suspect , is a dog that is sound sensitive when the environment is quiet and then there's a sudden change , of course you're going to get a bigger reaction. We have to talk about where the dog sleeps , where in relation to where the person sleeps , sometimes moving them to a different room. Sometimes crate training can be helpful. Covering the crate can be helpful. My favorite thing to try is a sound machine , and usually people are up for that. Just because it's soothing for us as well can be so a little sound machine that just sort of muffles the outside noise. That way when there is a change in the environment , it's less noticeable to the dog. I will say that she's she hit the nail on the head. This is a vicious cycle because she's reinforced the behavior with petting and comfort , and that may have been the initial response to it because she was unsure what you know , why the dog was experiencing whatever it was experiencing at that time. But what resulted was potentially attention seeking just at the wrong time.

S1: Yeah , you mentioned crate training.

S2: But it's a great tool for very many reasons. Um , and I think that it's important for dogs to be able to be safely confined , be comfortable when they're confined. It usually is very helpful if your dog can be put in a room with the door closed for a period of time , or put in a crate with the door closed for a period of time somewhere away from you. Doesn't need to be the same place all the time , but you know , so a crate can move around. And if your dog is crate trained and they're happy and comfortable in a crate , you can even travel with it so that if you stay at a friend's house or you stay in a hotel , or you go , you know you're going to have a long car ride , the crate can be a comfortable , safe place for the dog to be confined , but it also helps with really common issues at home , like house training issues , destructive behaviors. The only time I caution people with a crate is if your dog has separation related behaviors. Often those dogs need to be carefully crate trained so that they don't panic when they go in. They're not injuring themselves trying to get out because you left. That's a confinement issue sort of muddled with separation issues that can be dangerous. But otherwise I think crates are really , really useful.

S1: Are sort of , um , smaller spaces.

S2: I think that the confinement can be a problem for a lot of dogs. Um , so it depends on the individual. And , um , I think that some dogs , yes , really like to have their own little space that's comfortable and that makes them feel good. And , you know , they can rest quietly and comfortably often , even for those dogs , when you close the door , it's it's a whole different story. So you have to carefully crate train , make sure that it is a happy place. And one thing that most common question I get with crate training is , or comment rather , is I don't want to make it a place where the dog feels like they're being punished , so I shouldn't use it for punishment , right ? My answer is as long as the crates being used for various reasons , the dog isn't able to make one association with the crate. So if you're using it for punishment , meaning the dog did something or you know that you didn't like and you said , hey , you need to go in your crate and be by yourself for a little bit. We could consider that a punishment , assuming that the dog is unhappy in the crate , because that's what punishment is , right ? It's something. It's applying something to the animal that that they don't like that makes them uncomfortable. But if the crate is also being used as a happy place where they get their meals and they get to rest with the door open , there's no way for the dog to make one specific association with the crate. So I say use the crate freely. If you have a puppy and you need , uh , you know , a little break from the puppy , go ahead and put them in and close the door. They're there. As long as you're carefully crate training , they should be happy and comfortable to go in there for any reason whatsoever.

S1: All right. Now , earlier , you talked about how Sherry reinforced her dog's behavior by petting him after he barks.

S2: It's hard to know what should have been done in in that particular moment. I guess if at the risk of reinforcing the behavior , you could try hushing your dog or paying some attention to them to try and resolve the issue , it's let's say it's the middle of the night and you get up and you just want it to stop without knowing what exactly you should do. You just have to be careful not to do anything that the dog would perceive as reinforcing. But in that moment , maybe the dog was frightened , and maybe the right thing to do was comfort the dog. And so we accidentally reinforced it. So maybe there wasn't anything different to be done in that moment. Hindsight is tough , and behavior is so fluid that we accidentally reinforce behavior all the time. So the key really is to get the information on how to resolve it now and understand that it's completely doable.

S1: Yeah , yeah. I mean , but sometimes and sometimes it's good to have that dog alert in the middle of the night. I had a schnauzer who was yappy , and in one night there was someone trying to break into a vehicle and steal all this camera equipment. The dog prevented that from happening because the dog started barking. I looked out the window and , you know , we ran him off.

S2: But we get so much comfort from that , you know , so much security from knowing that they're going to let us know if something suspicious is going on. I've never met anyone that wants that to go away. So it is a really tough bark. That's what makes barking so tough. We have to understand that we can't ask them to bark sometimes , but not other times. It's really tough. Same thing with protection. People want to be protected by their dog , but they want also want visitors to be able to come over safely. It's a fine line.

S1: Well , here's another question. And this one is from LaVonne Cashman.

S5: My dog , Sally barks and acts aggressively towards anyone who comes to our home. She was severely abused before we adopted her a year and a half ago , but now is very loving with us and even gets along with our cats. This behavior is mostly limited to our home , although occasionally she will lunge towards people or dogs on our walks. She is in training and she does attend doggy day care a few days a month with no problems.

S1: Amazing.

S4: Amazing.

S2: Yeah , that was impressive. Yeah.

S4: Yeah.

S1:

S2: You know , again , we can generalize and say that dogs , adult dogs may have a tendency to be territorial. And of course , not all dogs , but many dogs are just territorial. That doesn't mean that they're aggressive or they have the intent to harm. So , you know , she her dog may be territorial when someone comes into the house or. More likely her dog is just a little bit antisocial. And that's okay because that's her. It's unrealistic to expect that every dog is going to be happy go lucky social butterfly. It's just not realistic. Even Nola is not a social butterfly , and I did everything I could by the book thinking I have this awesome opportunity to bring up a puppy from the very earliest age possible , and it took a couple of years for her to even let anybody touch her. And even today , she's nine years old and she is not a social butterfly. I'm okay with that. I don't expect more from her because that's just who she is. So I think it's important to give dogs the space to be who they are. That's not to say that , you know , they're not a work in progress. We're all a work in progress. And so I'm continuing with training , continuing with social , you know , giving the dog social experiences. I think that's all good stuff. What her dog would probably really appreciate is maybe some personal space when people come into the home often I will suggest , you know , some a crate in a different room or just a quiet space away from the front door , away from the common area with a stuffed Kong or a brand new bone or something the dog really enjoys so that they feel comfortable in their own space , and they're not being faced with what they might perceive as an intruder.

S1:

S2: That's really young. So that's maybe the first four months of life. That's a critical period where they're the sponge , just they're not fully mature until they're a year and a half , two years old. So that means that while that window closes for that critical period of social development , we still have a lot of time to give them really good social experiences while they're , you know , in different developmental stages. And then once they're adults , they are who they are. And at that point , I don't call it socialization because socialization period has ended. I just call it social experiences. That's playdates with other dogs that's going , you know , to the coffee shop with you or whatever the dog likes to do. Up until about that two year mark , I think it's realistic to expect them to change. So continuing to work at it , taking them to do the things that you would like for them to ultimately be able to do throughout life , it's if it's hiking or going to the brewery or whatever people like to do with their dogs. Give them those experiences early , early , early. And of course not. We don't always have that opportunity. We might adopt an adult dog. So I think the important thing to remember is that when you have an adult dog that's over two years old , they can't really be re socialized fully. They can have positive social experiences. But we also need to accept that maybe they're a little bit selective about what experiences they would like to do.

S1: Coming up , more of your questions answered about how to train your dog.

S2: I meet new people every day , new pets every day , and often pets are creating havoc in the house , but people adore them , so they they give a lot back.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hyndman , and today we're answering your dog training questions. I'm speaking with animal behavior specialist Angie Fonseca. Another concern people have is with dog bites.

S2: So dogs are most often biting kids that are not a part of their family. So I always teach people , you know , if if their dog is going to have any interaction with kids , I , I teach people that kids should pet dogs away from the face , and dogs should only be pet when they ask for it. So that is the number one advice that I like to give all people. Because dogs are so integrated into our lives at this point , it's really important to respect their space. They have personal space and dogs bite when they feel like they don't have any other options. So if you enter their personal space when they're asking you not to , with subtle body language that dogs try to warn you with , such as freezing , lip licking , you know , we call it whale eye , where you can kind of see the whites around their eyes , even growling , flashing teeth , lunging , snapping. Of course , this is , you know , these normally escalate to a bite , but if you see these subtle warnings , that's the dog saying please back off. It's a polite way of saying please back off. So if they get to a bite , it's because no one noticed. Those subtle warnings and bites are very , very preventable. In that way , it's important to know what dogs are saying with their body and to respect their space when they ask for it. So I don't pet dogs unless they ask me to. They have to solicit me for affection before I reach out. Even an extended hand to sniff is an invasion of space. So if a dog approaches me and looks friendly , you know , wiggly body , loose wagging tail , mouth is open , tongue is hanging out. They're licking me. They're nudging me. That's an invitation to touch. Yeah.

S1: Yeah.

S2:

S4: Quite simple. Yeah.

S2: Yeah. They will approach you if they want affection from you , if they want attention from you , and they can smell you from really far away. So you don't need to extend your hand for them to get a sniff of you. They can smell a grain of sand in a swimming pool , so you don't need to get close for them to get the information that they need about you. And if they want to engage in body contact , they'll make that contact first.

S1: Okay ? So just leave them alone. Yeah okay. Good advice.

S2: So reinforcement can be anything that the dog likes. Affection , play , even touch for some dogs is reinforcing. So as long as you're using what the dog likes , you can get them to repeat those behaviors. But food is. And this is hard for some people to accept. But your dog likes food more than they like your affection. Unfortunately , I know , I'm sorry. Oh my. I know , but it's important with food to make sure that we don't get stuck in a treat trap. So we're weaning off of food rewards at the appropriate time so that we don't have a dog that's dependent on food rewards. And we also don't lose behaviors because that constant food reinforcement actually won't maintain behavior long term. So it's important to work with somebody that really understands how you get from A to B , and you get you get a behavior that sort of sticks without needing to be reinforced 100% of the time. Hmm.

S1: Hmm. Uh , here's another question from an audience member.

S6: Hi , this is Chandra from Vista. My family just adopted two young dogs who were guessing , ah , about 9 or 10 months old , and they're super friendly and affectionate dogs. But wow , do they love to jump on us. They don't just put their paws up , but they launch themselves on their hind legs like little kangaroos. So my training question is , other than pushing them off and telling them down , what can we do to contain this behavior ? Thanks.

S1:

S2: That's what they do with their mama. They it's an appeasing behavior. It's their way of saying , I love you , I love you. I'm not I'm not a threat. I just love you so much. So. It's a natural behavior , which means it's very strong. And if we reinforce it , you know , there's different ways where reinforcing that , even pushing them down and telling them off , off , off is reinforcing because it's telling the dog , oh , so jumping does work. I am getting some attention. It's going to continue. So the best thing to do is ignore the behavior. So I'll have people and and keep in mind that ignoring behavior , unwanted behavior is not positive reinforcement because we're not giving the dog something that they like increasing the likelihood of that behavior. So ignoring is not positive reinforcement. However , we can combine that with some positive reinforcement for the correct behavior , which is for on the floor. So what I have people do is be a tree or a statue. If the dog is jumping on you , wait as long as it takes. It could take a minute or more for the dog to settle down. When they slide down and they have four feet on the floor , you come alive. Hi , hi , hi , hi , good to see you. And you reach down and you give pets. If that causes them to jump back up , you become a tree again. And I'll put my hands up on my shoulders and maybe stand really still. These two techniques combined , uh , teach the dog that jumping doesn't work , but approaching with four on the floor does work. You can actually get really nice results pretty quickly if you're consistent. Now , if one person in the house is still reinforcing the jumping up , then you can expect it to continue. Hmm.

S1: Hmm. Another audience question for you.

S2: It's called opposition. Reflex. Horses have the same reflex. We actually have the same reflex. So when when they're attached to a leash and there's any leash pressure applied , we activate that reflex. So if they're ahead of you and you pull a little bit , or they pull ahead a little bit and that leash becomes tight , we're going to activate the reflex and you're going to get increased pulling. So that's why you see a lot of dogs really digging in with their back feet kind of even sometimes rearing up on their back feet as they walk along. That's often , you know , excitement paired with that opposition reflex. It's really challenging to teach an animal to ignore a reflex , and we have to think about how unnatural it is for a dog to be attached to a leash if they were off the leash , which I don't suggest , because that would be unsafe. But if they were off the leash , they would probably be running ahead and sniffing here and sniffing there , and maybe checking back with you and then going ahead and sniffing around , exploring. That's what would be natural for them. So my favorite way to teach loose leash walking is to just be more natural. Give them the full length of the leash , let them do some sniffing. If they really start pulling ahead , slow your pace , maybe even come to a complete stop until they get back to you and then move forward again. There's also front clipping harnesses that can really help decrease pulling. They kind of change the point of pressure on the dog , so that we're not activating that opposition reflex quite as much. There's a sensation harness , there's the freedom harness , there's the easy walk harness. These are all the common ones that you can buy. And you just go ahead and clip your leash to the front. And often that can help reduce pulling quite a bit. You don't have to spend so much time training food. Of course , bring treats on the walk with you because why the heck not ? If your dog does , it's a great opportunity to reinforce desirable behavior. If your dog is walking next to you and the leash is floppy , reach down and feed him a treat because chances are , if they figure out that food happens close to you , they're going to stay close. And again , we work towards decreasing the need for food reinforcement , um , and replacing it with other types of reinforcement. But there's no reason not to do that as well.

S1: And earlier you mentioned being on a leash. It's kind of pretty unnatural for a dog , given the environment that a lot of dogs live in , you know , apartments , concrete everywhere outside.

S2: Even when I was growing up , my dogs just lived in the backyard , right ? They didn't go places with us. They they were yard dogs. And that was just fine. That was what that was the life that most dogs led. Now dogs are in the grocery store and they're at restaurants and they're flying on airplanes. And all of this is a bit unnatural. I think we have very high expectations for an animal. And , um , I think it's awesome in a lot of ways , but I think it also presents many challenges because they are animals. And imagine doing this with any other species. You know , some people do with cats , but most people have a cat at home that would never be able to go to the coffee shop. So , you know , it's we are asking a lot of dogs at this point , so I , I like to give them some grace and lower my expectations while also helping them to experience these things in a positive way. Um , and again , oftentimes that's just allowing them to have a little snack along the way. Um , and encouragement , love and affection and understanding , I think is. Important.

S4: Important.

S1: All right. That's very interesting. You mentioned cats. There's a cat wine bar. Yeah.

S4: Yeah. Around here I haven't.

S2: Been , but I want to go. I've been to it. There's a cat , um , coffee shop downtown also , I went there. Wow. Yeah. Um.

S1: Um. All right , the new trends. That's a whole nother interview. But here's a question for Mindy Donner. It has to do with chewing.

S7: I'm a pet owner of a mixed terrier , about 15 months old , who is incessantly chewing. His favorite shoes. Could be vintage rugs , socks , shoes , furniture , wood. And he masticate and manages to digest a lot of this stuff. And yes , he has plenty of chew toys. In fact , the whole house becomes his chew toy.

S1:

S2:

S4: Say puppy.

S1:

S4:

S2: Oh yes. I mean she has a puppy. So that's comes with the territory unfortunately. And even when we provide them with , you know , other things that we think should be enticing for a dog , that's just not what they prefer. They prefer the rugs and the furniture and , and whatnot. Um , the part that concerns me is the swallowing. If , if an if a dog is ever swallowing the things that they're chewing on , it's not just exploratory or soothing for teething. If they're actually chewing and swallowing things like socks. That's a question for the vet , for sure. Sometimes , you know , from a behavior perspective , oftentimes I will ask how much they're feeding the dog. Do you think the dog is hungry because , you know , if the dog is a little bit underfed , not that they're being neglected , but sometimes , you know , depending on how much activity the dog has and their metabolism , sometimes feeding a little bit more can help decrease their desire to chew and swallow objects around the house. But that's definitely a good question for the vet.

S1:

S2: That's a personal preference and also a good conversation to have with vets. However , vets do sell dog food , so you also have to be careful there to make sure that whatever they're selling you is what's right for your pet. I'm a fan of plain old kibble and my dogs are happy with it. Um , you know , I think the crunching is good for their their older dogs , so I think the crunching is good for their teeth. But beyond that , you know , I think it's whatever your dog likes , whatever goes in easily and comes out easily.

S4: It's the golden rule. Uh huh.

S1: Most living things. Exactly.

S4: Exactly. Exactly.

S2: Exactly. If it agrees with them and they think it's tasty , then that's great. Okay.

S1: Okay. All right , so final question for you. What are some things pet owners should really think about when looking for a trainer to work with in general.

S2: Uh , credentials. My industry is not regulated and we're working on it , but unfortunately there is no regulation whatsoever. So anyone could wake up one day and decide they want to be a dog trainer and , um , go ahead and take clients and advise people on behavior. So , um , the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers is a pretty big and well-known certification. It's important that whoever you're hiring to work with , your pet has similar philosophies. To you. I hear all the time , you know , that someone called a trainer and they came in with a shock collar and the dog was subjected to that , and they felt they themselves felt very uncomfortable. So I think that you've got to listen to yourself and just make sure that they know their stuff. They should know something about animal behavior , not just dogs , but animals , because I think that that's really important , that we have a responsibility to understand how animals learn. You know , it's important that a person's someone you're hiring. Their techniques can be applied to more than just dogs.

S1: So , you know , when we put the ask out for this segment , for people to submit their questions about their dogs , there were so many questions that came in and a lot of interest about this segment.

S2: Um , and I think that that that's why we.

S4: Oh , excuse us.

S1: Nola just wants to make herself known to. Yeah.

S4: Yeah. She does.

S2: You're still here ? Yes. I think that's why we let animals live inside our homes. You know , I meet new people every day , new pets every day. And often pets are creating havoc in the house. But people adore them. And they. So they they give a lot back , you know , and , um , unconditional most of the time. And I think that's why.

S1: All right. I've been speaking with animal behavior specialist Angie Fonseca. You can find out more about Angie and the work she does at her website. Angie fonseca.com. We'll also have a link to that on our website. Angie , thank you so much for being here. And you too. No , love.

S4: Thank you for having us.

S1: Coming up , dog shelters across San Diego are at capacity , so if you're looking to adopt , we'll tell you how.

S8: We've never seen anything like this at San Diego Humane Society , where it's just been constant of being over capacity.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. Welcome back to Kpbs midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. As you just heard , training a dog takes patience. But in this next conversation , we are turning the focus on adopting a dog. San Diego area shelters are above capacity , and that means you may be in luck if you're considering adding a new member to your family. Nina Thompson is here with us. She's the director of public relations at the San Diego Humane Society. Nina , welcome to Midday Edition.

S8: Thank you for having me.

S1: So glad you're here. I first want to start by asking what the situation is for rescuing animals. I know we just had some pretty significant flooding in the area.

S8: Yes , we have our emergency response team out at the Red cross shelter assisting evacuees who have pets who needed to evacuate and bring their animals. So if they came to a Red cross shelter like the one at Lincoln High School , our emergency response team is there to assist with their pets so that the persons can go into the gym and sleep and get food and get a shower , and then we can handle their pets while they're figuring things out and sorting things out.

S1: All right.

S8: And we have been for about a year and a half , we've never seen anything like this at San Diego Humane Society , where it's just been constant of being over capacity , especially with dogs and especially with large dogs.

S1: And are you seeing some types of animals or dog breeds more than others ? I mean , you mentioned the bigger dogs.

S8: Yeah , we do have a few breeds that are always common for us. The terrier mixes , the American Pit Bull Terrier mixes , but also a lot of Chihuahuas and huskies. So. So we took in about 32,000 companion animals in 2023. And out of those we adopted out about 21,000 animals. So we're definitely busy when it comes to companion animals.

S1:

S8: It's hard to say with Chihuahuas , probably because they're a very common breed in our area. But for Huskies , for example , they are a large breed. They're a high activity breed as well. You need to have lots of enrichment and exercise to keep a husky healthy and happy. And if you're moving and you're possibly forced into an apartment because of the economy and may be tough to bring a husky possibly because of breed restrictions or other restrictions such as weight. So the bigger dogs are definitely more difficult for families to move with , especially if they're renting.

S1:

S8: With the economy and inflation , it's definitely more expensive to own a pet , so we do think that a lot of people have been possibly forced to move , can't bring their pets , or simply can't afford to keep their pets. At San Diego Humane Society , we have a lot of support services that we want people to know about , so that they don't have to give up their pets if they're faced with a financial hardship. We hand out free food six times a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. We hand out free pet food. We also have other resources such as low cost veterinary services , vaccines , that sort of thing. And we also have resources. If you've found yourself with behavior issues where you need guidance with from our behavior team , those are either free or low cost , and we can work with you so that you can keep your animal. But another reason why we might be seeing so many pets in our shelters is that there was a pause in spay neuter surgeries during the pandemic , and we might be seeing the effects of that now. And also , a lot of people did adopt during the pandemic , so they already have a pet in their home.

S1:

S8: We have a lot of resources that can guide you on how to do that at the Humane org slash rehome. Basically , those are step by step instructions of how to post about your animal on special rehoming websites. And because you know your animal best , you know what type of home they would thrive in , what type of activity level they would do well in their needs. You are the best person to find them their next home. The shelter environment is very strong. Possible for an animal , so they may not always show their true colors and who they are at a shelter. They may be very shy , or if it's a dog , they may be barking a lot and out of the shelter. They may not be like that at all. So if you have to give up your pet , we highly encourage you to use our rehoming resources so that you can find your pet's next family.

S1:

S8: That's dogs , cats , rabbits , small pets. We have a few pigs that are Escondido campus. We have so many deserving pets. We also have a lot of pets right now that we typically don't see in the shelter. Like puppies , we have a lot of puppies , a lot of breed dogs that typically you may not associate with a shelter like a French bulldog or other attractive breeds have really been coming through the shelter. So we really do encourage the people who are looking to add a family member to look to one of our shelters in San Diego County to adopt , or the rescues , because there's so many animals right now who deserve and need a second home. Wow.

S1: Wow.

S8: What are you like ? What do you like to do ? What's your activity level ? Are you out and about a lot or are you at home a lot ? Do you want a running companion or a walking companion , or do you want a couch potato ? So it's really important that you look at your own lifestyle before you adopt a pet. And then also make sure that you have time for them in your life , and that you'll be able to take care of them to ensure that they're happy and healthy. At San Diego Humane Society , you would have an in-depth conversation with our adoptions counselors about the animal that you're interested in adopting to make sure that it's a good fit for you. And so we really encourage you to either come on down to one of our campuses. We're located in San Diego , Escondido , Oceanside , and El Cajon to browse the animals who are available for adoption or check them all on our website , because they're all there with their own adoption profile. And if you're not finding the pet that you're looking for in a shelter , do look at those rehoming websites , because there are a lot of families who are looking to rehome an animal , and your perfect match might be there.

S1: Nina Thompson is director of public relations with the San Diego Humane Society. Nina , thanks so much for being here today.

S8: Thank you so much for having me. We appreciate it.

S1: That's our show for today. Thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget to watch Evening Edition tonight at five for in-depth reporting on San Diego issues. We'll be back tomorrow at noon. And if you ever miss a show , you can find the Midday Edition podcast on all platforms. I'm Jade Hindman. Thanks for listening.

A dog is shown sitting on the grass next to a toy bone on January 24, 2024.
KPBS
A dog is shown sitting on the grass next to a toy bone on Jan. 24, 2024.

January is "National Train Your Dog Month." On Midday Edition Wednesday, we answer your questions about dog training and behavior, covering everything from barking, jumping and much more. Plus, local animal shelters are at capacity. We talk about what you need to know if you want to adopt a new pet.

Guests:

Angie Fonseca, animal behavior specialist

Nina Thompson, director of public relations, San Diego Humane Society