Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Amazing video

*Don't try this at home!*

This is an amazing video of a lion that was bought from a store to be a pet. Thankfully the new owners realized he should be in his own habitat and did what was best for him. This is their story.


Wild animals should NEVER be family pets in my opinion. Taking them from their natual environment is cruel. (not to mention what some people do to get those young animals from their natural wild mothers so they can sell them)

I know it isn't specificly dog related but the video is an excellent example of animals remembering the people they love. (or their memory in general)

I admit it made me cry like a baby.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Blog Roll

Some of you may or may not have noticed but I try to routinely update my blog roll. This includes taking blogs off my list that either don't update often enough, stray far off topic regularly, or are to graphic heavy to load in a reasonable amount of time. (If it takes forever for me to load it with DSL I don't want those with dial up to get stuck. Some of my favorites have been deleted for this reason alone. Tip: Set your front blog page to only hold a set amount of posts if this is an issue.)

I also try to only include those blogs I like for some reason. It may be the writing, the photos, the info presented or the stories they have to share. I also try to stay away from blogs with alot of political views. I like reading about dogs not politics. (or should I say I reserve that as a seperate activity)

If you have a blog to recommend with a 4 paws up, (sorry I couldn't resist) feel free to share it with me for consideration in my comments section. (If you add a link to a site for business purposes or to sell something I will more then likely delete it. Please e-mail me to ask permission regarding sales of products. Unless it is something I believe in it will not be considered. )

So check out the new additions to the blogroll and feel free to provide feedback. Thank you!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Debunking the Dominance Myth in Training

or "Stop 'whispering' and speak up for your dog."

It isn't my title but the tile of a seminar I attended yesterday given by Jean Donaldson. It was excellent and I learned a lot. I did take a photo but it came out dark and horrible. So here is this one instead.

I really liked this quote:

"Hey you 'whisperers', pinning, jerking, shocking and harassing animals - we want our word back." Susan G. Friedman, PhD University of Utah.


1. to speak or say (something) very softly, using the breath instead of the vocal cords
2. to make a low soft rustling sound: the leaves whispered
1. a low soft voice: her voice sank to a whisper
2. Informal a rumour: I just picked up a whisper on this killing
3. a low soft rustling sound: a whisper of breeze in the shrubbery [Old English hwisprian]
There isn't much "soft" about that type of whispering is there?

She had a great insight that our society is watching a "trainer" manhandling 80 to 100+lb predators in homes with children present. This is called modeling which children immitate because that's how THEY learn. A scary thought.

She also brought up the point that no training OR learning theory is required for anyone to hang a shingle and call themselves a trainer. Unfortunatly most of the general public doesn't know this and is trusting their dogs with people who are many times unqualified. Add to that these unqualified people are many times making things worse under the guise of training. They don't need to live with the dog after all so why do they care about fallout or failure?

The following is just a few great tidbits from the seminar:

On the biggest divide in training philosophies ~ There are trainers to elect to train without aversives-to not hurt, scare, or startle dogs to train them. (called positive trainers or "cookie pushers")

There are trainers who elect to use aversives-some call a spade a spade, some use less clear language. (called force or traditional trainers)

EVERYONE believes their way of training is the best way.

On dog social organization: There is little agreement and virtually no research regarding dog social organization. Researchers studying wild wolves disagree with researchers studying captive wolves about wolf social organization. Conventional wisdom on dogs seems to have been extrapolated captive wolf interpretations.

The wolf literature: Packs consist of a breeding pair and their offspring up to age 3. (sexual maturity) By age 3, offspring disperse and attempt to mate with other dispersed wolves to form new packs.

If you breed, you're alpha: "Individual wolves do not have an inherent permanent social status....the alpha male or female are merely the breeding animals, the parents, and dominance contests with other wolves are rare, if they exist at all. During my 13 summers observing the Ellesmere Island packm I saw none." L. David Mech

....And your likely to breed: "Wolves in captivity breed readily and I know of no mature captive individuals that failed to breed when paired."

"In the wild...I know of no permenant dispersers that failed to breed if they lived long enough." L David Mech

Free -Ranging Dog Populations

* Pariah Dogs in India, village dogs in Africa, feral populations in South America and Mexico, Cook Island Dogs, dingoes, semi-feral populations in Romania and Moscow

* Often drawn into proximity by food sources, however none form packs but rather "loose, transitory associations" (Dunbar)

* Functions of estrous cycle

What need does it (dominance) serve among dog people?

* Projection of OUR concerns about status?

* Justifies a need to coerce and punish?
(Last remaining legal bastion of systematic corporal punishment? Imagine the same techniques in a school or daycare. We did away with rulers to hands and backside of kids at Catholic schools, why are we still heavy handed with dogs?)

* Supports our wish for magical motivation?

*Keeps us revelant: at least dog's behavior is in relation to us?

No properly functioning living organism will do something for nothing.

Dogs are properly functioning living organisims and so spend their behavioral dollar wisely most of the time.

And, when a dog exits a doorway ahead of you, it may not be directed at you.
A "problem" according to whom?

Dunbar has famously pointed out that peeing, defecating, digging, barking, chewing, jumping up etc. are not "problems" to dogs, so the onus is on us to teach them when they can act like dogs.

How dogs learn:

Dogs learn via operant and classical conditioning.

OC = Operant Conditioning manipulates behavior via consequences.

CC + Classical Conditioning manipulates emotional responses.

Do you want him to do more or less of the target behavior?

More = Capture, shape or prompt and reinforce what you want more of.

Less = Install a more likeable behavior in its place and/or punish it. (non-violently)

That is only a tip of the iceberg. Then we went into lots of training theory and demonstrations of behavior and training.

Check out the blog at http://www.dogstardaily.com/ for my updated article on Growling.
I love attending seminars to keep up with my continuing education. It gives me a change to re-charge my batteries, network, visit with friends and learn new techniques. I just wish behavior seminars were mandatory for ALL trainers. I know I always learn something regardless of the subject. It was a great day and afterwards I stopped by PlanetDog to look around. They have a great store that I rarely get to. Unfortunatly I didn't have alot of pocket money for extras so I only picked up a copy of Bark magazine and Animal Wellness. Fortunatly I do have a great local store to hang out at and get great doggy things. (The Loyal Biscuit on Main Street in Rockland. Stop by and say hi to Lauren. Tell her I sent you.)
The next seminar Happy Tails has on deck is Ray Coppinger and "The Evolution of Dogs and Their Behavior" September 6 and 7. FMI visit the website at: www.happytailsportland.com Hopefully I will get to that one as well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A trainers Thursday 13

I don't normally do a Thursday 13 but after reading a truely disturbing blog by another "dog trainer" I need to share some good training information. I think this is a way to do just that. Here are my 13 tops picks for must read books to help you become a better trainer of dogs. (in no specific order)
1) Kicked, Bitten and Scratched. Life and Lessons at the Worlds Premiere Exotic Animal Training School by Amy Sutherland. A great example of why you need to know basic behavior of the animal you are training to be effective and humane.
2) The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell PhD. An ethologist who explains why human behavior and canine behavior sometimes just doesn't mesh well and how we can work to change that for the better.
3) How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks by Ian Dunbar. Lure reward training and the theories behind it. A great dog's point of view look at training. For all age dogs. (with great photos) A must have for anyone working with deaf dogs.
4) The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. Positive training and canine behavior explained in great step by step detail with examples on how to train your own dog. Written specificly for clicker use but can be adapted. One of the best explainations of classical and operant conditioning I have found.
5) Excel-erated Learning~ Explaining How Dogs Learn and How Best to Teach Them by Pamela Reid PhD. I found this a tough read (and needed notes) but worth it for the information. Great examples on canine behavior with studies referenced.
6) Dog Friendly Dog Training by Andrea Arden. Includes one of the best examples (in chart form) of how and why positive training stacks up in favor for the dog over force methods. Great artwork.
7) Teaching Dog Obedience Classes by Jocham Volhard and Gail Fisher. A must have for anyone teaching in groups. It also has fabulous info on canine behavior relating to fear periods in puppies. Originally written for force trainers, I include it in my list because the info on setting up classes and behavior info is so excellent. (I am also not against force training persay, IF used correctly is has it's place and can be effective. Unfortunatly many trainers have no idea how to use it fairly for the dog. Thank you Mr. Millan. Another great reason to find out about and CHECK your trainers references. There is also a big difference between a training issue and a behavior issue. Not all trainers have the behavior knowledge to solve behavior problems so keep that in mind when you are asking questions of your potential trainer. Suppression of behavior isn't the same as changing the behavior or emotion of the event causing the behavior in the first place. Long term suppression can have some serious fallout including catastrophic failure.)
8) The Dog Who Loved to Much by Dr. Nicholas Dodman. Great examples of behavior problems and solutions. Some of the pharmacology may have changed since the first release. (*Note: Medication should only be used in conjunction with a behavior modification program in place to be properly effective. It is not a quick fix.) He has a new book out that probably replaces this one but admit I haven't read it yet.
9) Canine Body Language ~ A Photographic Guide by Brenda Aloff. A fabulous book of body postures and facial expressions used by dogs. It even includes a test you can take on the info presented.
10) Aggression in Dogs~Practical management, Prevention and Behavior Modification by Brenda Aloff. A must for anyone working with, or living with, aggressive dogs of any kind. Very in depth.
11) Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. I only read this recently and admit I was blown away by the information included. Even if you aren't a trainer this book has some fantastic tips on changing the environment around you though your relationships. Very interesting read and timeless.
12) For the Love of a Dog by Patricia McConnell PhD. It sounds like it is all about emotions in dogs but it has great info on behavior included as well.
13) The Idiots Guide to Dog Tricks by Liz Palika. I hate the title but it has great info presented in a simple style that is easy to follow. Breaks down the tricks in a step by step manner. Also includes basic obedience info. (you can't teach roll over until the dog knows down after all)
There are many more great training books out there. It was hard to pick just 13 from the many I have read. This is just a good jumping off point for those looking for some good info for their continuing education or curiosity. I hope it helps.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dog greetings and Trail Manners

While surfing my favorite blogs (listed at right) trying to catch up with my blog reading, I ran across such a well written post that I wholeheartedly agree with that I just had to share it. Check it out here: http://www.dogstardaily.com/blogs/mind-your-trail-manners

The above photo was found on this adorable blog: (by accident I swear I wasn't looking for a pug photo to use) http://www.hugpug.com/

And for more info on proper dog greetings, in case you missed my previous post on the subject, this tidbit:

When one dog meets another for the first time, canine protocol demands that he offer his butt to be sniffed, and that he sniff the other's butt in turn. Dogs who are well-known to each other generally don't do it, but all dogs, when they meet another one for the first time, will do so. Canine courtesy demands that the action be reciprocated. *This formality essentially introduces each dog to the other as a specific scent signature, which is then cataloged in memory much as we visually-oriented animals do with faces.

From the technical veterinary site here: http://education.vetmed.vt.edu/Curriculum/VM8054/Labs/Lab19/Lab19.htm
(note the photo THEY used! Scroll down near the bottom of the page. Again, a funny coincidence.)

*Hence the tangled leash issue when doing proper dog to dog greetings. *

Anyone else see the tense body language of the dogs in the photo? How about the avoiding direct eye contact? Photos are a great way to see an exact moment in time.

Check out DogStarDaily and the other blogs too. Boy there are some seriously talented writers and super passionate (and funny!) dog people out there. I am but a drop in the ocean of dog blog land.

Friday, July 4, 2008

A saga involving poop, collars and cuteness

For those with weak constitutionals, this post involves a somewhat unsavory subject. You may want to skip to the end and the other topics. (Or go to The Dog Ma blog, and comment to potentially win a $50 e-giftcard to Petsmart. Yay for free stuff!)

Our dear Jenny is a poop eater. I'm sure I have mentioned it before. It is not an uncommon problem in dogs. To them it is the ultimate in recycling. It even comes out heated and ready to go. To us disgusting, to them a tasty treat. Because I know this about Jenny I use alot of management. I don't add anything to her food as sometimes recommended because she has some food sensitivities. No sense feeding her the pricey stuff only to undo all the work with an additive to address something I can manage instead. So poop gets cleaned up quickly from the yard and she goes out for pottytime on leash only. After everyone has voided and it has been cleaned up do I allow her off leash play. Occasionally management fails because I am not close enough to stop her from getting some fresh unexpected pile, usually from our frenchie Missy. She had not previously partaken of any of Jacks obviously larger piles. That I knew of. Until today. While I was outside with the dogs I decided to rearrange a few of my birdfeeders. They are all pretty close together but a few are outside of the fenced area. As I was returning I see Jack in the position and Jenny standing right under him waiting. Not only did she partake but some fell ON her. Oh the joy of living with dogs. Thankfully I am not a squeemish person. If anything I found it somewhat funny. She has no shame that one. Of course that meant into the tub immediatly for miss Jenny. I am also going to get some doggy toothpaste to have on hand for the next time management slips. (Always my mistake, now I know, assume nothing!) Lord knows I don't want a kiss after that!

I hope everyone has (or had) a safe 4th of July. And for the dogs who run away may be they all be tagged and easily reunited with their owners. I am also a huge fan of microchipping in case they lose their collar or if you have a dog that might look like another dog. If you ever have to prove in court that a black lab (or insert breed here) in question is yours, photos just aren't going to do it. Tags are nice too because they can help facilitate an instant reunion not needing a trip to the vet to find a rabies tag number (usually on a day they are closed) or causing the dog to spend the night unnessasarily in the local pound. (hopefully to be found) I even have an extra tag for visiting dogs with my address and phone number. (which new family dogs can also wear until they get their permanent one) One of the biggest reasons we hear for dogs not having their collar on when they got loose is that they just had a bath. What better reason to have an extra collar and tag for bath day. (while their regular collar they wore in the bath dries) You can put a collar on a wet dog. Worries about coloring on the coat seem insignificant when your dog is missing and naked. (tip-buy the extra collar in white)

*Check out the cute pug blog I ran across the other night. Go Pug Yourself. As soon as I get permission I will add her to the blogroll.

*I know I haven't had any originals photos lately. I need to get new batteries for the camera. Bear with me.

*A note to the blogger Underdogged, I can't seem to leave a comment on your blog. Can you e-mail me?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A summertime warning & home needed

Today was one of the hotter days we have had. Of course it was also one of the first dry days we have had in awhile which meant it was time to mow the lawn. I usually wait until later in the day so the sun moves to the back of the house and leaves a shady area for the dogs to lay in while they are outside with me. (they like to watch me work) I keep a good eye on them because even though there is shade, dogs do not always chose to lay in it when hot. I learned this the hard way with my first akita, Kuma. (He is the brindle below on the right. My female Shimo is on the left. They were both so beautiful and I still miss them.)
While putting in some new flooring during a summer day I put him out in the yard with plenty of shade and water. Unfortunatly he did not chose to utilize the shade. When I went out to check on him (about 20 minutes later) I realized he was not acting right and staggering. Recognising it was a heat issue I immediately got the hose on him and cooled him down. (the quickest cooling is done under the belly and leg areas) He was fine after the incident but it taught be a very valuable lesson, dogs do not always make the logical choice for their own safety. PLEASE keep an eye on your dogs when outside on a sunny day. Heat problems can crop up fast and can be fatal.
I also heard a story today about two dogs jumping out of their owners car through the open windows. Fortunatly they were close to the store with the open door the owners were in and went straight to them. Luckily they were not parked across the really busy street from the store. Just because your dog has never jumped out of your car before doesn't mean they never will. (Dogs make doggy decisions after all.) I also had an incident at the grocery store parking lot recently where when I went back to my vehicle there was a truck with a lab and a pug and open windows. The pug was so friendly he (or maybe she) almost fell out of the window trying to get to me to say hello. It was a very large tall truck too. I left quickly without engaging the dog so he wouldn't fall. It made me fear for the dogs safety AND from a would be dog thief. (I had an appointment and now feel guilty I left. Next time I will stay and wait for the owner to keep an eye on the dog.) Please leave your dog at home on a hot day and keep those dogs safely tethered or crated in your vehicle to keep your loved ones safe. It only takes seconds for things to go horribly wrong.

This handsome boy is Noah. He is a 3 year old black lab looking for a new home here in Maine. If you are interested please e-mail me directly at CanineHelp@aol.com and I will put you in touch with the party placing him. His owner is having health issues preventing him from keeping him. I am told he is a fabulous boy with a great temperment. Currently being fostered with 3 other dogs so he is very social.

This beautiful trio is a photo an akita person sent of her crew. I just thought it was to adorable not to share.