I often talk about capturing and handling “feral” dogs and people question how useful my information or methods are for dogs in the U.S. Some people even suggest there are no feral dogs in the States. I don’t agree with the last suggestion, since there are many places with free-ranging dogs (yes, often running in packs) who have never had owners and have rarely been touched. But I do agree that the name “feral” can be distracting.
Thank you for sharing your doubts and challenges! Please send more so I can learn from you.
I use the word “feral” a lot because most of my learning and experience has been with feral street dogs I have handled around the world. I believe they give me the purest examples for learning how to work with fearful dogs. But all of the methods and mannerisms I have learned also apply to every dog I handle.
For the record, my capture and handling training is for working with any dog which does not walk up to you for affection or hop into your truck. Some are fractious (simply uncooperative) but some are simply shy. Some are truly aggressive, but most of these are motivated by fear. When I consult for trap/neuter/release programs around the world, we are usually talking about feral dogs and “community” dogs but all of them can demonstrate any of the behaviors. I am probably as clear as mud now.
And as I talk about techniques and equipment, there will always be an underlying theme of care, honor, and respect for every animal and every colleague. We will explore what techniques and equipment works and does not work (real meat and potatoes stuff) in the context of how we are “being” while we study what we are doing. The ACOs I have learned from may not use these words but they re-affirm the importance of being calm, being relaxed, and staying connected to the animals so you can read and interact with them in the most subtle ways. Another theme that I feel is worth exploring is how to gather and handle uncooperative dogs without us adding to the conflict any more than we have to. We are far more successful if we are not adding to the fight, but it is a continuous learning process.
Yes there are feral dogs in the U.S., but I realize that the name is not so important. Shelter workers, ACOs, rescue groups, disaster responders, and spay/neuter programs are all striving to work with fearful dogs in the best way we can.
Thank you to all for your input and contributions. Does anyone have photos of “feral” dogs in the U.S.?
Do you have an interest in starting a forum or discussion section to better share ideas? Are there forums you recommend? Does anyone want to have a discussion about nets and netting? or boxtraps? or other topics?. Are you from outside of the US. We would love to hear from you.