What does a dog's wagging tail really mean?

Everyone will tell you that a wagging tail means the dog is both happy and friendly right?

it means that the dog is stimulateed.

It could mean:

“I’m happy.”
“I want to play.”
“ I want to be petted and hugged.”
“ I want to chase. “
“ I want to eat.”

“ I want to bite.”

Safe human/canine interaction. Understanding is key.

The purpose of this video is to help people understand that a wagging tail does not always mean “I am friendly - please come and pet me”.
With the rising rash of dog bites around Montreal, Qc as well as all over - we need to teach our children to be safe and understand the signals that dogs put out.
Parents - please watch this video with your children and share with your firneds - let’s keep our kids and our dogs safe and happy together!

Note: Hyper - my old Dutch Shepherd was one of the friendliest and sweetest dogs you could meet. The video clips of him biting were training clips and he was even friends with the decoy outside of training situations.

Montreal Dog Parks - Should I take my dog to one?

Montreal Dog Parks - are they a good idea for you and your dog?

I am often asked by clients what I think of dog parks. Simply put - I dont like them.

In theory - they are wonderful. They are a safe and open space for dogs to run and socialize. If they always worked that way - it would be lovely.

Lucy and Ryder enjoying a play session @ the kennel after their training time. These dogs live together - not all dogs can play this intensely and not have it lead to a fight.

In reality however, they are a place where anyone with a dog can come in and you dont kow if their dog is going to attack yours, transmit an illness and the level of irresponsibility displayed by some of the owners there is firghtening. I receive at least a few calls on a weekly basis from people who have had bad encounters at dogs runs and now are facing behavioural issues - in particualr dog aggression as a result.

Here are some signs that it may not be wise to enter a dog Park or perhaps it is time to go:

The Top Ten Dog Park Red Flags:

Owners who are not watching their dogs.

Many owners go to a dog park and socialize. It seems like they are there as much for their own social interaction as they are for their dog’s. Whether busy chatting it up or facebooking on their phone - their eyes are not on their dog and this is a real problem.

Owners who are watching their dogs but not intervening when needed

Sometimes we need to intervene when things are starting to heat up. I.e. a dog mounting another, play getting a little too rough etc .. Some owners are slow to react and their laissez faire attitude is going to lead to an escalation.

Sick Dogs

Dogs parks are a great place to spread bacteria & parasites.
I have seen dogs with blood or worms in their stool - whose owner said it had been going on for several days when I pointed it out. Dogs with kennel cough and bilateral conjunctivitis as well.
Then of course there is the ever present huge dish of water in the warmer months (the community Petri dish - wonderful!).

“Let them work it out”

Some people think that if they let the dogs work it out - there will be some magical detente that the dogs will come to. Trainers know this is not true and often this will lead to a higher degree of conflict. It is up to the humans to guide and steer the dogs in the proper direction and not allow things to escalate.
It comes as no surprise that those who subscribe to this approach generally have no control over their dogs and thus can’t control them when it is most needed anyhow.


Toys are a bad idea when dogs get together. Dogs are possesive by nature - and anything that the dog perceives as valuable is going to lead to conflict.


Many people bring treats to the dog park - and of course all the dogs sniff them out. Again this leads to possessiveness issues.

Babies in strollers

Dogs in full play will knock you around - and may knock over a stroller without so much as noticing. Or jump up to sniff and explore the baby (unfortunately not all dogs are well trained).
In fact I know of two owners in the last couple of years who had their knees shattered by their well intentioned playful dogs who crashed into them. Imagine what that could do to a baby.

People who are afraid of dogs

Some people have a limited comfort zone around dogs. Maybe they are afriad of large dogs, or specific breeds. I have seen people completely freak out in dog parks when approached by a specific type of dog - reagrdless of the fact that the dog posed no threat to them or their dog. I have also seen examples of people who don’t want other dogs to approach their dogs and try to chase them off - both of these can lead to aggressive responses from the dogs (and in some cases the owners!).

The Expert

Usually harmless - but annoying - there is always a self apointed expert. They know the buzzwords and have read the latest books/articles and so they have dubbed themselves to be the head honcho and will lecture on all things related to dogs.

In a perfect world - we could bring our dogs to dog parks and they would run and play and socialize to their heart’s content. The owners would watch them, remind them of their manners and training and keep them in line when needed.
If it worked like that it would be wonderful - but it doesn’t.
You can use them smartly however, and pick and choose your times and the dogs that are there - limiting the risk to your dog and and yourself while maxing out on the benefits. I use them occasionally with clients and we do just that and have at times decided to leave if we didnt like what was going on.