Thursday, December 30, 2010

Um, that's not alien skin is it?

Yes I watched to much "V" as a child. (You didn't think that was an original show did you?)
It started Christmas day. Jenny wasn't holding her tail up like normal. Now when a curly tailed breed starts holding their tail down it's usually a big sign something is not right. She also kept looking at her hind end. Or so I thought. The logical conclusion was that her anal glands needed to be expressed. So I did that. Several times over the next 2 days that the vets office was closed. Then I took her to work my first day back and had the Dr. express them since I wasn't confident of my ability. (It is a recently acquired skill for me.) She started holding her tail up again so I thought the problem was resolved. I did notice that her tail was sore when I stroked her the other day but it looked normal so I just figured it was still about her anal glands because she was improving. I just told the kids not to touch her tail.
Cut to earlier this evening when she was laying on me and I got a good look at her tail. This is what I saw.
OK what the heck is that!? It's not the best photo. Trust me it looks gross. Of course with all her skin issues the first thing I thought was a new wonderful infection of some kind. So I took her in to get checked. It turns out it's not an infection but probably the result of a crushing injury. The Dr. had to shave part of her tail to get a better look so now it looks like this.
Fashionable no? I know she got stepped on recently and yelped but I thought it was her paw. (being food motivated she is sometimes underfoot in the kitchen while dinner is cooking) Maybe it was her tail instead or maybe I missed something while I was at work and she was home with the family. She does play rough with Jack sometimes too.
The good news is that it looks like it is healing. The bad news is that it might get worse and the skin could slough off. If that happens she might need to be bandaged or wear a cone. She will not be impressed with that! I picked up something for the pain as it is very uncomfortable if touched. I think that's why she keeps looking at it. Worst case scenario, if it doesn't heal and lots of tissue comes off, it would need to be amputated. I can't imagine it will get that bad but I'll keep you posted. (I am slightly superstitious and believe if I talk about the bad stuff it won't happen. That's why I leave "Instructions for the dogs in case my plane crashes or car wrecks." every time we travel. Yeah I am that person.)
Ahh life with dogs. It's always something!

I hate hackers!

OK so if anyone has had issues getting in touch with me please try again. While I was deleting ALL my address book contacts (in efforts to foil those stupid hackers sending out spam under my name) I also accidentally deleted everything in my spam folder before checking the e-mails. I am not trying to ignore anyone! And if you got a spam e-mail from me I am sorry. I am running virus checks left and right in hopes I can catch this before any more go out. Ahhh the joy of living in the technological age!

This is Jenny snubbing her nose at said hackers.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How to get your dogs attention

Here is a long overdue training post on what I consider the beginning of focus work.

Getting your dogs attention is the first step in building your foundation to having a really reliable recall and for focus work later if needed. To accomplish this the first thing I do is teach the dog that its' name is valuable. When I say the dogs name "Fido" and they look at me I praise them verbally. "Good dog!" A happy tone of voice is important for verbal praise. Otherwise it has no meaning to the dog. If the dog comes over to me I will also add physical praise like petting and stroking if they like it. Note: not all dogs like to be handled, some are touch sensitive. Skip petting for a touch sensitive dog. Do not pet your dog on the top of it's head. Most dogs dislike this form of petting. (Watch your dog closely when you do this, do they pull away or duck? If so they are trying to avoid it.) I will also have a happy facial expression whenever I praise a dog. Remember body language is our dogs first language so they learn to read our body and facial expressions very quickly. If they come over I might also add play and/or a food reward. Our goal is to build a positive association to their name and our contact with them.
A review about using praise ~ The 5 most commons ways we can praise our dogs are:
1) verbally - in a happy tone
2) physically - if they like being touched
3) by smiling - communication in language they understand
4) engaging in play - fetch, tug, games they enjoy
5) using food rewards - high value treats
Because we can't call a dog to us unless they are paying attention we need to teach the attention first. We cannot guarantee we have that attention unless they are physically looking at us. Even then remember that we are competing with things we don't smell or hear so we may not have 100% of their attention, especially if we are outside. If they are sniffing something or looking at something else they are not trying to ignore you. Most times they are just focused on what has their attention and they don't hear us. Saying the dogs name and rewarding them for looking at us is the start of building great focus.
The next step is teaching the dog what the word "come" actually means to us. Now because I want "come" to always mean come to me and sit I teach it that way. If you want the dog to just come closer use a different word. Example: I use "let's go" to mean come along with me. One of the most important things to remember when using the word/cue "come" is to never use it for anything the dog considers a negative reason. For instance if they hate getting a bath and you call them to you and then stick them in the tub you will poison that cue. They will pause the next time you call them because you've used it with a negative association to them. For this reason I also use a completely different word for let's go back into the house or playtime is over. (sidenote tip: to get dogs to want to come back into the house or car toss some well loved treats and/or a favorite toy on the floor as you go out so as soon as the dog walks back into the house or car they get magically rewarded.)
You can teach your recall in a few ways, this is just one of them. I tend to begin with lure reward training especially if the dog hasn't learned his name means anything. Put the treat in front of the dogs nose and back away from them a few steps pulling the treat in front of your legs so they target their nose on it. AS they are coming towards you say the cue word "come". The reason you say the word as they are doing it is to pair the word with the action for the dog. Don't repeat your cue. When the dog gets to the treat simply raise it slightly back over the dogs head so they sit. You can also say the word sit AS they are sitting. Say "yes", your verbal marker (or click) and give the treat after they sit. My hand action pulling the treat towards me, and pulling the treat up, also become hand signals later for the commands. (Lure reward training is also excellent to use with deaf dogs. Use a thumbs up signal for your reward marker signal.)
If you teach your dog its' name has meaning you will notice the dog starts coming to you before you say the actual cue word "come". It can become it's own pre-recall command so make sure you separate the name from the come command with a few seconds. Otherwise "Fido come" becomes the command which isn't the goal because then when you say the word "come" alone they may not understand what you want. "Fido" should mean look at me so you can pair it with other things later, not just for the recall. Whenever my dogs come to me I always reward them in some way. EVERY time. This keeps the recall worthwhile to them. Remember that dogs are very much "What's in it for me" creatures. Rewarding them also establishes that coming to me gets them good things and therefore makes the recall a positive association. Most people have problems getting a dog to come when called because they try calling them when the dog is engaged in a more fun behavior. If we make the recall more fun than everything else that problem will resolve.
Now I know some clicker trainers prefer to get the dog doing a behavior reliably before they name it for the dog. This is also ok as long as everyone understands what they need to do to make that work. I find some people have a hard time not speaking to their dogs so I think this way accommodates that issue. There are some things I also teach before naming and putting on a cue, this just isn't one of them. (for me)
Trouble shooting: If your dog doesn't look at you when you say its name add sound. Clap your hands or make kissing noises. Say the name happily when they do finally look. Shake a toy when they look. Make them want to come to you. Whatever you do do NOT get annoyed and yell at them. Remember we are making positive associations. Practice inside first where there are fewer distractions. When moving your recall practice outside the house start out closer to the dog to be sure you can get their attention. Increase your distance over time. Do NOT say come until the dog is looking at you and on its way towards you. Make sure you remember to have them sit when they get to you. Don't repeat your cue "come" but you can make other noises to encourage forward movement. Keep practice sessions short so they stay fun.
Happy training!
Marie Finnegan

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Holidays!!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday whichever one you celebrate.

And batten down the hatches for all those on the east coast. They say a storms a comin!

Monday, December 13, 2010

An itchy dog update

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I've been under the weather but still as busy as ever. To get a bit of a break the one thing I try to do when over committed is to keep the online stuff to a minimum.
Jenny's skin is looking a bit better at the moment. (The photo above hides her patchiness.) She just finished some antibiotics for a secondary infection though. I've noticed she seems to be changing color in places now too. Where she used to be all pink parts of her are now turning grey. She is also on a new medication that is supposed to help with the itching. (Cyclosporine which is the generic version of Atopica) I've gotten her off the steriods but am not 100% satisfied with the new meds. If she is still itchy and I need to break out the benedryl what is the point of the Cyclosporine? We are supposed to be at the point of weaning to a smaller dose of it bi-weekly but she is still to itchy. Gahh!
I just picked up some different anti itch shampoo to also try to see if it helps. If I don't see a difference soon I have another medication to try that was recommended by another pug person with similar issues. (Thank you Terry!) Jenny's doctors wanted to try the Atopica first.
I tried to do what I could using natural remedies and even went to a full raw diet for her for quite awhile. Unfortunately her triggers seem to be more environmental than food related and without a noticeable pattern. I gave up on the raw more because I just couldn't sustain it properly with my schedule a.k.a. life. I worry about getting is just right and put a lot of work into the prep. Using a commercial raw diet would be great except they all contain liver which is one of the few food things she tested as allergic to. Once I feel 100% again I might try some honest kitchen dehydrated with the raw venison.
I haven't blogged about it much because I worry about people judging me. I know I shouldn't care about it but I do. Yes I believe in raw diets and yes I believe in (some) natural remedies and I know how not using them looks. I just want my dog to be comfortable. I believe I need to do what I can to provide relief so her quality of life is good. Constant itching is torturous! I am conflicted about everything lately. I am trying to do what is best for her while keeping in mind the long term effects of the treatments I choose as well. No matter what I do there is something to feel guilty about. The most aggravating part? Her itching spells come and go. So there are times no matter what she is on that she itches herself raw and other times she is almost off everything and she is fine. Or she isn't itchy at all but her coat gets all patchy looking. The flare ups are unpredictable and drive me (us!) insane.
If living in a bubble was a possibility for a dog I might consider it. ~sigh~
(And yes we have done multiple skin scrapings. The next step might need to be a skin biopsy.)

Fun with the microscope ~ Heebee jeebee alert!

Turns out you can take pics with a digital camera through a microscope lens. Check out the dog louse. This creepy crawlie came in on a new families puppy recently.
The yellowish dot on the slide below is what it looks like actual size. They are slightly larger than a flea.
This is scabies, also known as sarcoptic mange mites. Not visible with the naked eye.

And urine crystals. With some bacteria and red blood cells thrown in for fun.
I also get to look at fecal samples but haven't taken a photo of that yet. I'm sure there will be some interesting parasites to show eventually.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Let's face it, I got no nose!

I'm not the lone voice after all. Check out the fabulous post from Pedigree dogs exposed:

Pedigree Dogs Exposed - The Blog: Pugs. Let's face it.

I'm glad to see someone else has figured it out! Is it me or does one of those German pugs look like our Jenny?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let's play a guessing game

And now for something much nicer than the last post. It facinates me how puppies of many breeds of dogs all look pretty much the same when they are first born. These girls are only one week old. They are a mix of two breeds and they weighed around 2.5 lbs each. Anyone wanna guess what they might be? (They are not the pug mix puppies of an earlier post.) My only hints which may or may not help you: Momma was mostly white and Daddy was brindle.

Just look at those tiny paws!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A photo that haunts me

The photo shown below was on a facebook friends page. He currently works with dogs in Vietnam. Since he shared this photo on his page and I cannot get it out of my head. It may be to disturbing for some viewers so don't say I didn't warn you.

This pup believe it or not is being treated for parvo. They are helping him. (or her) I am unsure why the vets there think this is an appropriate handing method for a 4 month old puppy. I'm also sure he'll be thrilled to go to a vet in the future. If this is help I'm afraid to see what they consider cruel or harsh. This photo makes my heart ache.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

To logo or not to logo

So I've been thinking about changing my logo. I don't have my current logo on my site now, I use it on my vehicle instead. It is a silhouette of a standing akita I drew a long time ago. I was thinking about changing it because I found a design I love that includes all dogs. It would also be nice to brand myself more to make advertising easier. Having the same logo on my cards and car makes sense. My current cards have a photo of a bulldog on them.
Some of you might remember the post about my tattoo. The drawing of it is shown above. I found the pawprint originally on another blog called Finnegan's Pawprint and tweaked it for the tattoo. The person that created it has this website:
I've tried to contact her repeatedly for permission to possibly use the pawprint as my business logo. I have had no luck. So this is a public appeal to see if it helps at all. (Cari Buziak if you're out there please e-mail me! ) I'm not sure what the rules are governing such things. I don't want to use it without permission but if I get no respose to my requests where does that leave me?
I thought the pawprint might translate well onto t-shirts and the like. I've never put much into advertising before because I haven't really needed to given my area. I just really like this symbol and would love to put it to use. It's getting near time to order more business cards.
So I am putting this out there in hopes it helps. I'm not sure of the legalities of using it without permission, but I figure a public appeal will help should there be a problem down the road. I could be wrong but since I am small potatos (no tv deals in the works just yet VBG) I figure it isn't likely to ever be a real issue.

What do you think? Yea or nay? (You can also vote on my K-9 Solutions facebook page. Go to my profile photos and vote for version # 1 or #2. )

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stolen show dogs in CA, Please pass on!

ALERT!!! 4 show dogs were stolen today 11/30/10 including the one shown above from the parking lot of Motel 6 in Bellflower CA. 2 Akitas and 2 corgis.
Please pass this information on. I can't imagine the fear the poor owners are experiencing right now. Let's try to help get them all home safe.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A surprise visitor

Remember this sweet face? His name is Jack and he went though the K-9 Corrections program with his sister Patty back in the spring. He came for a surprise visit today.

He is almost all grown up. Check out how handsome he is now.

Here is another photo of him partway through the program.

And another of him now. He got a lot bigger than we expected he would. More photos and videos of him from today can be seen on our facebook page. Go take a peek. (Does anyone else think he looks like a borzoi in the face?)

I managed to keep his pending visit a secret from the handlers and let me tell you it was NOT easy. It was a great surprise and nice for them to see how well he turned out. He recognised his handler before Joe recognised him and wooed at him. It was so cute! It was a great day and I think everyone was very excited to see Jack again. I'm so glad he got such a great home and is doing so well. Score one for us!

Friday, November 19, 2010

You had me at woof

I know they say don't judge a book by its cover but..........

how could anyone resist this face? Must. Read. Now.

(Updated 11/20/10 Bought on my Kindle. Read in one sitting of about 3.5 hours. Made me laugh out loud and cry. Loved it. Just saying.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NFL = Epic Fail

I read this article recently and it sparked a conversation on facebook when I shared the link. The frustrating part of it is that so many people seem to think because Michael Vick served time for the crimes he committed that it means we should move on and forget about it. We can't control what he is doing now and he has the right to make a living. Because he paid his debt to society. Yeah right. I cannot disagree more. He served time in jail yes. Paid his debt to society? I think not. When there are victims still left living with the memories of what he did to them the debt will never be repaid.
I like the line in the article: "Cruelty to animals isn't something somebody does, it's something somebody is." This is exactly why dog lovers will always hate this man. Let's remember that he LAUGHED while he killed and tortured dogs. (by strangling, drowning and electrocutions) And not just 1 or 2 dogs either, as if that mattered, but repeatedly. He admitted it! I also think this of some other criminals as well. Do child molesters and rapists ever really pay their debt? They serve time and hopefully it is a punishment that makes them think twice about doing it again. But I doubt their victims would agree that anything has been paid. They live with that trauma forever. I have a problem with anyone who hurts defenseless people and animals. Would you trust someone who did that? What does that say about their character?
Does he have the right to work? Sure, he can pump gas or flip burgers. Should he be allowed to become a role model for others playing football? I find that sickening. If anything he is an example of having enough money or talent means if you get caught doing something horrendous it won't impact your life very much. You can still become a super star and make oodles of money. Shame on the NFL for not having a morals clause. They have only proven that the all mighty dollar is the bottom line for them. People who are in the public eye SHOULD be held to a higher standard, at least in my world. Because they are watched and emulated whether they should be or not.
Would I feel differently if he stood up and took responsibility for his actions? If he volunteered his free time at a local shelter to help out? (that was not court ordered) If he voluntarily pledged a percentage of his "earnings" to other former fighting dogs? Maybe. If it were done with sincerity I might consider it. I haven't seen any of that yet and I'm not holding my breath.
The whole topic makes me angry and sad. Angry because it is an example of how unfair life can be. That a monster is worshiped by some merely for having talent at a sport. Sad because there are still thousands of fighting and bait dogs still out there living horrific lives daily. Put yourself in their shoes and just imagine that kind of life for a few minutes.
Michael Vick is an example of how celebrity gets you a pass and how sorely lacking our society is when it comes to ethics.

Whoa momma!

Congrats to our friends at Weskeag Kennels and momma Cassi on her whelping 11 healthy puppers. (yes you read that right ELEVEN!) Now that is alot of puppy breath!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Link share tuesday

Just a few links that are floating around facebook these days I thought I would share. First is an interview with Karen Delise. She wrote the fabulous book called "The pitbull placebo". Unfortunately some people still don't get that BSL simply doesn't work.
The next is an article by Jean Donaldson asking "Are dogs really pack animals"?
Then a look at the results of a study that looks at the questionable training techniques as seen on tv.
And to finish on a happier note check out the story of how they made the amazing video "OK Go" by the White Knuckles.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Puppymill rescue

Looking for a pug? Consider rescue! Why? To put puppy millers out of business!

Green Mountain Pug Rescue took in the above 20 pugs recently. They were being sold by a puppymiller because they passed a law in that state to limit the number of dogs a "kennel" can have. Sadly they can still have up to 50 dogs. They sold 10 others to another "breeder". Fortunately this group was taken by rescue so they will all be altered and adopted into homes. Yes rescue did give money to the "breeder" in order to get the dog released to them. It is a tricky thing. Do you let them get sold to another breeder or step in and pay a fee to keep them out of a breeders hands? At least this way they get taken out of the cages they lived in to go in a real home and be normal dogs. Plus they aren't being bred over and over again to be used as a cash crop.
How sad is it that there are people using dogs in that way to make money? The sadder part to me is that clearly people are still buying dogs from pet stores. How else can you explain why a breeder would have so many dogs for their "business"? If they weren't making money on the dogs they wouldn't have them. They only feed as many as they can support in order to make a profit after all. It's not rocket science people. If you buy from a pet store you are keeping this kind of person in business. You are contributing to dogs living in cages instead of cuddling on a couch and running on grass. Is that any kind of life for a dog? Don't do it. Adopt from rescue instead.
Bravo to GMPR for stepping up to give these dogs a better life. For more photos and videos of the pugs and their rescue story check out their Facebook Page.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Semper Fidelis!

In honor of todays 235th United States Marine Corps birthday (and tomorrows celebration of Veteran's day) I share the following:

In case you can't read the text it says: Listed as missing for three days during front line action at Guam, Peppy, a Marine dog made his way back to camp and was treated for a bullet wound in his head. His handler's face is a study of emotion as he comforts his four-footed pal.
There is a wonderful book with the title Always Faithful that is about the Marine Dogs of WW2 and talks more about dogs like the one above. For those that don't know Semper Fidelis is latin for Always Faithful and is the motto of the Marine Corps.
And this is one of my favorite cartoons saved from my own time in.

Text: "He said I was the most intelligent girl he'd ever met, and that was the last I ever saw of him."
I served as a jet mechanic on A4 Skyhawks in seatshop and was also a watchstander on Marine Security Guard duty at embassies overseas. May we never forget those that didn't get to come home from their tour of service in all branches of the service.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Some shaping fun

Quite awhile ago I mentioned how I wanted to teach Jenny a trick that had her filing down her own nails. Here is some video of one of our training sessions. This video ends when she got distracted by a treat that fell under the stove. There is sandpaper glued to the board and no it isn't bothering her paws. She is holding them so that she is scraping just the nails and not her paw pads.

I also now have a dremel I have been working on getting her used to. I'm finding the noise and vibration of it doesn't seem to phase her at all. It's the taking her paw in my hand that presents the problem. We will need to concentrate on that for a spell. The tricky part of that is I need to make sure she differentiates between a flat hand held vertically in front of her face means touch with her nose and the hand held flat horizontally to the floor means give me her paw. Any mix up means she will be slapping me in the ring for our stand exercise. This is just one example of why clarity in hand signals is important.

In other news we got our certificate in the mail today for our APDT Rally Level 1 title and our Award of Excellence. She is officially Prone's that's my girl RL1 AOE! Yay Jenny!

Making progress ~ pug health news

Remember a few posts back when I was complaining about the lack of health testing in pugs by pug breeders? Well check this out. There is now a test to see what pugs may be carriers of the gene that causes pug dog encephalitis. From the UCDavis website:

Approximately 1.2% of Pug dogs die of necrotizing meningoencephalitis (NME), also known as Pug dog encephalitis (PDE). NME is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that is usually progressive and fatal. Symptoms of NME include seizures, depression, ataxia, abnormal gait and blindness (1). Female, fawn-colored Pug Dogs younger than 7 years of age are more apt to develop NME than older, male and non-fawn colored individuals (2). Recent research has revealed that susceptibility to NME is associated with the dog leukocyte antigen (DLA) region of dog chromosome 12 (3). The association is at or near the region containing the DLA class II genes. Dogs that have two identical copies of the NME associated markers in this region, have an observed risk (OR) of 12.75 for NME in their lifetime over Pugs that have only one or no copies of these markers (OR 0-1.08).

Here is the original site:

And here is the link to purchase a test kit.

Add this to the list of things that should be checked before breeding a pug. At least in the world according to me.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Alpha Rolling in Wolves and Dogs

Wanna see a real "alpha roll"?

And here is a video of an alpha roll between 2 dogs.

For a more in depth explanation of alpha rolling see this post. It's hard to believe that people are still using this method on their dogs in the name of training. It's bunk. Spread the word.
(Hat tip to Retrieverman for sharing the wolf video.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

If you hike in the woods, please watch this

How to open a coyote leg hold trap.

Unfortunately dogs don't always stay on the safe parts of trails. Thank you Dr. Heather for the information. Hopefully you'll never need to use the info. Please pass this on so it can help others too.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Jack loves hunting season!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More APDT Rally fun

So Sunday Jenny and I went to another APDT Rally trial at Wag It in Lincolnville. I think we did pretty good. I entered 3 level 1 trials on the road to our rally level 1 excellent title. I figured this would give me extra practice at not getting nervous while I wait to go into the ring before we start trying for our level 2 title. It is only the 4th time we have done a Rally event if you count the AKC match. (I only enter one day of most two day events due to my work schedule and the prison training schedule.)
In trial 1 Jenny was distracted and we scored a 197. Trial 2 wasn't much different and we scored a 198. Trial 3 was the last one of the day and I was pretty tired by then. I was to tired at that point for any nerves so maybe that is why we did better and scored a 206 to get a 3rd place ribbon. So that makes 3 qualifying scores towards the 10 we need. Yay for Jenny!
I have identified a couple of problems however:
One is that I think my hand signals must be slightly different in the ring than out of it. I say that because when I warm her up or practice she does the exercises with no hesitation. Yet those same exercises in the ring has her looking at me like she didn't understand the cue. Then we end up retrying the station. I guess I need to get more video both in and out of the ring to see if I can figure out exactly what it is I am doing differently.
The other is that I am becoming to competitive! Not with any of the other teams but with myself. When I get a score I think could have been better I find that I am thinking to much about it. "We can do better than that!" This is supposed to just be fun for us. Something Jenny and I get to do together to show our skills and a chance to socialize with other dog lovers. It is weird because I don't really consider myself a competitive person. I guess the good thing is that it isn't directed at anyone else. I love watching others so I can cheer them on and learn stuff from their runs. And it is just plain entertaining to watch dogs have fun with their people. I also really love that in Rally everyone else is the same way. The camaraderie in the sport is fabulous! And to be honest it is probably part of what keeps me going back for more. It's not like I need to compete in shows after all.
I need to stop focusing on high scores and be happy when we get a qualifying score. Period. I think maybe it is because I am a dog trainer. Maybe I'm holding myself to a high standard because I worry how it will look to others. "She's a dog trainer, her dog should get great scores." Which is silly because many of the exhibitors are also dog trainers and I don't think that about their scores at all. (so in theory they probably don't care about my scores either) I guess I need to work on that. But then again maybe it's a good thing. I mean striving to do better isn't all bad is it? (OK I just re-read what I wrote and think I am a greedy idiot. Those are pretty good scores!)
Here she is in between classes relaxing. She doesn't like being alone in the car so I try to give her many breaks and spend time with her frequently. For me part of showing is about spending time with your dog after all. I tried putting her into the soft crate thinking she would be warmer in the smaller space. I draped a blanket over the back of it to keep body heat in as well. When I came out to check her I found her stuck between the window I put it in front of (so she could see where I went) and the crate. Hmmm what's wrong with that picture? Luckily it looks fixable as she only pulled the door out of the zipper. Even if I have to sew that door shut it has a top loading door as well. Lesson learned: use metal fold up crates when leaving her unattended in the future.
I think we will start practicing for level 2 more so we can enter level 1 and 2 at trials. This will keep us busier and also works towards our ARCH title. (I think.) FMI on APDT Rally go to and click on the Rally link. I'm still learning as I go.
And how cute is this? You can find your own at
The photo: Honestly, she either looks irritated, grumpy, or scared in most of the photos I take of her. She is so serious all the time. At this point I'm not sure she has a happy face!

Distraction work

I wrote this post Saturday afternoon and then forgot to post it because the other topic took over my head and insisted it be presented first. So just pretend it's Saturday night while you read this.
Today Jack got to come help me work at the prison. He did great. Roxy and Gordon made progress in learning how to keep focus on their handlers around a distraction. The distraction being Jack of course.
Gordon and Roxy are distracted by Jack for completely different reasons. Roxy loves other dogs and wants to play with them all. She needs to learn she won't always get to do that. Not all other dogs will want to say hello to her after all. Gordon on the other hand sometimes gets intimidated by other dogs and tries to drive them away with bullying. So for him he needs to learn to be more comfortable when one is around. Using food for classical conditioning and not pushing him beyond his social threshold is important in the beginning.

So even though it is for different reasons they both need the distraction work. This is just one important skill that will help them when they get adopted into a home. No one wants a dog that goes crazy when they pass another dog during their walks together.

They both did well and by the end of the session were lying down with Jack walking past them and vice versa. It will take more sessions with multiple dogs for this to be something they generalize to all other dogs. How the other dog acts towards them will also come into play. I brought Jack because he is non-confrontational and friendly towards other dogs so his body language is appropriate.

If you bring a dog that is threatening towards Gordon for instance he would take much longer to calm down. He would also be less likely to trust what the other dog was doing. I also recommend using the BAT behavior program for dogs that are fearful towards other dogs approaching. It basically teaches the dog that you are listening to them and rewarding them for not getting reactive with a functional reward in that moment. This also helps build the dogs trust in you as the handler.

As always most training is about learning how to communicate with each other. I'm pretty lucky to have Jack as my helper. I'm sure he appreciates the extra treats he gets paid for the work.

(Yes he is tethered in the above photos so I can better direct the handlers but prevent any unwanted contact. I also walked him around on leash as well.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Little dogs in action

You need to read the following link to completely understand the topic I will discuss afterwards. It includes more behavior knowledge from one of our supposed "experts" in the field.
It is rubbish. Well let me back up a bit, part of it is true. Height does equal status in dog language for some dogs. Let's never forget all dogs are individuals. And behavior is also very contextual. However his description that carrying small dogs explains why they act stupid towards larger dogs in a dog park setting is just completely incorrect. Smaller dogs go after bigger dogs for several reasons. Fear defensiveness, prey drive, resource guarding, or simple lack of good social skills are just a few of them. The reason they think they can do it has nothing to do with feeling superior because they get carried in their owners arms outside of the dog park. The reasons they react to other dogs doesn't matter in order to answer this question however. They act like dogs because:
A) Some dogs let them get away with it. You see smaller dogs driving bigger dogs away from things all the time. It is about the relationship between the dogs, and social skills of both dogs involved that determines the larger dogs reaction to the smaller dog. No dog purposely does something that doesn't work for them or that they don't think will work for them in some way. Small dog bullies/warns off bigger dog and big dog backs off? That's called reinforcement of the behavior. See it worked! Also remember that a dog in chase/prey drive mode isn't thinking. That dog is in a reactive mode and just acts. (Think about the dogs that get quilled by porcupines repeatedly. The curious thinking dog learns from 1 altercation. The reactive dog tries to grab it every time.)
B) Dogs have been domesticated. This means the chip in their head that tells them "I am outmatched by this dog and he could kill me so I better be careful." doesn't exist. It exists in wolves because fighting is considered to expensive of a behavior and they know that. Fighting means a risk of injury and injury can mean death in the wild. They are not domesticated. Even a tame wolf is not domesticated. Domestication is a process that takes generations to achieve. When dogs fight we step in to save them and/or get them medical help when they need it. We have taken the "survival of the fittest" instinct out of dogs. This is why size doesn't matter to them.
This theory of his is right up there with our president is a bad leader because he lets his dog walk in front of him. ~ sigh ~ Would it kill the man to do some actual dog behavior research instead of making stuff up as he goes along??
Hmmm puppies get carried around a lot. I wonder if this makes them feel superior to us since we are the ones carrying them. OK that is a joke people. I just want to make that clear before someone thinks THAT is a valid issue to consider as a problem! Don't laugh, someone somewhere might think it's true! Scary thought isn't it?
Photo above by Wendy Buretta

Halloween tips to consider

It's that time of year again. I am lucky because we live on a busy road with few houses so we don't get many trick or treaters. Some years we don't get anyone at all. We always buy some candy just in case . It works out though because our kids have aged out of the trick or treating phase so we wouldn't have any candy to eat otherwise. Because let's face it, who doesn't love candy in the house at Halloween?
Here are a few safety tips from Dr. Patty Khuly of Fully Vetted. As a dog trainer I will add a few of my own.
1) Put the dog (or dogs) away. I don't care how friendly they are normally. Seeing people in costumes and masks can unsettle even the friendliest ones. Consider that some kids are also afraid of dogs. If your dog is allowed to go to the door they may run outside and get loose if they are startled by one of the trick or treaters. Then you have a loose dog at night with lots of scary looking people around. Not a good scenario. This would also be a good time to make sure your dog is wearing a collar with tags just in case.
2) Give the dog something to do. If you put the dog away in a crate or other room give them a stuffed kong to work on or a favorite chew toy. Keeping them busy will free you up to concentrate on the trick or treaters. Don't have baby gates or a crate? Use a leash to tether them to something heavy to keep them contained while you are away at the door. Legs of a couch or a radiator can work well for this.
3) Use it as a counter conditioning session. Got a dog that gets scared by visitors? Using the continually ringing bell or knocking as a cue to give the dog a yummy treat EVERY time it rings/knocks. Give the treat and then leave the dog to go open the door. Leave the dog tethered or contained so they can't reach the door and people. For dogs that are scared of visitors I'd probably NOT let them see the people since they will be in costumes and masks. The treat needs to be something HIGH value in the dogs opinion. A crunchy biscuit isn't going to cut it. Use something soft and smelly. If this won't work for you then just put the dog away.
4) Use it as a training session. Got a dog that gets overexcited about visitors? Use each visit to practice a sit stay or down stay or go to your bed. Again the dog should be tethered so they can't come to the door with you or have a second person helping as the door person while you work with the dog. Use a leash to prevent bolting if needed. Due to the potential for many repetitions on a variable schedule this can end up being a mega training session. If your dog (or you!) gets tired you may need to go to plan B and put the dog away with a favorite chewy.
I also want to reiterate the need for putting the candy out of the dogs reach. Seriously, even dogs who have NEVER stolen food sometimes find that the Halloween stash is just to interesting to pass up. Don't take the chance.
Happy Howl-o-ween!!!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

A K-9 Corrections update

Sadly Nico got pulled from the program for intimidating some of the guards. Apparently he was barking when they did their checks and looked into his room. Akitas can be territorial so I don't doubt that it was happening. Unfortunately they made him leave without discussion or letting us try to modify his behavior. (or manage it by crating him during those checks) Lessons learned and we will work to try to prevent any future episodes like this again. He's back at the shelter decompressing before heading to the adoption floor.

Roxy is making strides. She is getting more social every day. Large crowds of people still make her nervous and she prefers to be the one initiating contact with people she doesn't know well. We've found that she likes other dogs alot and loosens up when one is around. We'll probably try to find her a home with another dog for that reason. Here she is practicing her "sit pretty" trick.

This is Gordon. A terrier mix who has taken over Nico's spot. Don't be fooled by his cute face, he's not as innocent as he looks.
He needs to learn to mind his manners and follow the rules so he can stay in a home. (He knows how to chew through leashes hence the chain leash that I normally despise.) He has a lot of energy to burn. He does some very interesting big air moves when chasing his tennis balls so we might try him at some frisbee tricks. He tends to over react when telling off another dog and going overboard with his correction to them. He does ok with Roxy most of the time but needs to be managed with her even though she gives great signals to him when he gets after her. Because of this I think he might do best as an only dog in a home. I'm sure he'll get a lot of interest due to his "cuteness" factor but he's going to need a home with someone who isn't a pushover and can keep up with him. He's a good example of how small and cute doesn't always equal easy to place.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The puppy report

Remember the x-ray of the puppies ? Well here they are at 2 weeks old with their mama.
She had to come in to get her sutures removed from the c-section she needed. Not a surprise since daddy is a lab mix. She went into labor at night and we weren't on call so we missed the event. Mama and babies are doing great so far!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to Jack!

Today Jack, a.k.a. Liberty's After the Frost, turned 6 years old. Here he is at 6 weeks in the first photo I ever saw of him.
From that cutie to this handsome boy.
We celebrated with a nice walk in town to The Loyal Biscuit Co. where he got a yummy cow treachea. I mean, who doesn't love a good cow treachea?

Unfortunately this was the best photo I got from today. I'd say I need a new camera but that would be a lie. It's all just lack of talent. Good thing I have such a great subject to photograph. It makes up for it a little bit.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dogs do talk and we need to listen

The following video is a great example of people not understanding dog communication. She thinks the dog is "Purring"! What do you think?

The vocalization is growling. Growling means either go away from me, I am uncomfortable with this or stop doing that. This combined with the body language and facial expression of the dog shows you it is growling and is NOT a happy sound. He means it. The sad part is that when the dog finally bites her she will think he "snapped" with no warning and for no reason. This poor dog is TRYING his best to communicate here!

Yes some dogs can have happy vocalization sounds in play. Unfortunately this is not one of them.

The other scary part is that she says she is a foster home. I would be very fearful of her qualifications is she can't even recognise growling. Especially in such a large and powerful breed. Do you want her chose which home this dog should go to? I bet she would place him with children who love to hug dogs. Many dogs dislike hugging from strangers. It is obvious that this one is no exception.

I wonder if anyone temperament tested this dog at all before putting him in this foster home. I know it's not always the perfect test of a dog but it can be a start for some. This behavior might have come out in a SAFER test.

I feel sorry for this dog. He could end up dead all because someone didn't listen to him. Hopefully he doesn't hurt someone to badly before they figure it out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The company of dogs

Check out this interesting post from Retrieverman about a wolf that preferred the company of dogs.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Pug Breeder Challenge ~ How to breed a healthy pug

Sometimes I think about becoming a pug breeder. OK clearly that's never gonna happen. I just don't have the energy and I also have trust issue baggage. But I have discovered a few things over the last few years that has me concerned about the breeds longevity.
Back when we decided to add a pug to our family I tried finding what I consider a reputable breeder. To me this means someone that does health testing to make sure they are breeding the healthiest dogs possible. To me that's part of improving a breed which ideally is why anyone is breeding dogs in the first place, not to make a buck.
I struck out but didn't think about it to much at the time. Maybe I couldn't find one because not enough of them were online. (how I do many searches) Maybe it was because I looked in a limited area. I may have only looked on the east coast at the time. I don't remember specifically. So because I couldn't find a breeder that met my standard I went to rescue instead. It didn't take long before Jenny was on her way to us thanks to a wonderful woman in the group named Amy.
I had no idea at the time this would spark a new obsession for me. Well maybe obsession isn't the right word, but something certainly happened to me. I never expected to become so enamored of pugs. I was all about akitas and bulldogs at that point. A pug was neither of those. (I have a theory involving pugs actually being aliens and sucking out parts of our brains causing us to fall under their spell. Remember Frank in MIB? Yeah, that wasn't special effects and make up. But keep that under your hat for now. We don't want them to know that we are on to them!)
Anyways, I did some digging recently and found a serious lack of health testing for pugs in general. After going through many websites and looking at many show breeders sites, I couldn't find even ONE pug breeder doing any health testing. Zip. One person said their dogs were healthy but that was the only time I even saw the word health mentioned on a breeders site. The national breed club website lists health concerns in the breed but doesn't list which tests they suggest for their breeders, nor what tests a pug buyer should ask about. It was starting to really freak me out. I mean, obviously this breed has issues! Some can't breathe well, their eyes can pop out of their sockets, and they have a 63% chance of hip dysplasia. (second only to bulldogs)
Tonight while looking into health testing for other breeds for comparison, (like frenchies and other brachycephalic breeds) I stumbled across this site: . I was pleasantly surprised to see some pugs listed as having been tested. (hips, eyes, patellas and legg-perthes) Then I looked closer. There were only 110 dogs listed which if you think about it isn't very many. I mean consider how popular this breed is and the amount of pugs in rescue and it is a sad statement on the lack of health testing overall. You can whittle that down a little more because some of those dogs are owned by the same breeder. (21 breeders by my count based on kennel names) Only 25 of all of the dogs were tested in the year 2000 or later, and the most recent was 2008. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to connect those dots.
For years I have told people looking for a dog or puppy from a breeder to make sure they go to a reputable breeder. Look for those that show their dogs I said. They are making sure their breed meets the standard and not just throwing two purebreds together to make a buck. Then look for the ones doing health testing out of that group. (because not all of those who show are doing the testing as I have found out) Well it certainly looks like there aren't very many reputable breeders by that test in pugs!
How does this happen?? Where are their standards?
Aside from the tests listed on the canine health site there are a few other things to consider checking in the pug breed. Can they breathe normally? Are their nostrils large enough for them to get enough air into their lungs? Yes they may have been bred originally to just be our companions but they need to be able to walk outside without fainting from lack of oxygen. It would also be nice to be able to take our companions for an actual walk. If a dog needs surgery to correct small nostrils it shouldn't be used in a breeding program.
Does the soft palate interfere with their breathing? To long and it can cause the dog to gasp or snore alot. This can be fixed surgically but can be expensive and not all vets can do the procedure. Is the trachea a good size to allow airflow? These can be to small in some bracycephalic breeds. If those are not a good size to allow the dog to function, and yes they can be checked, then that dog should not be in a breeding program.
Does the dog have seizures? Allergies? Thyroid problems? Dogs in the pedigree that were affected by encephalitis? Is it prone to dry eye, born with entropion, have dogs in the line with proptosis? (This is when those bulgy eyes pop out of their sockets. This can happen if the dog pulls to hard on its collar with some pugs.) Personally I don't think bulging eyes should be a normal aspect of this breed. If your pug can't close it's eyes all the way when asleep that is a problem.
Seems simple right? If your dog has a defect then don't breed it and possibly pass those defects on to the puppies. If I were a pug breeder I would check ALL these things before breeding. Of course I would also breed pugs with some nose to them so I wouldn't meet my own test of breeding to the standard. At least the standard that looks popular in the show ring. But for me if you don't breed for health first I don't see the point. Some would argue that pugs aren't a healthy breed because they are bracycephalic. I disagree. Living with an active pug myself I can attest that some can be quite healthy. While we do battle allergies at this point she is a pug that seems pretty sturdy in the other departments. (knock on wood) And the pugs in those old photos show a pretty normal looking dog that we have really messed up over time. Maybe stepping back a few years wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Now I know I am not an expert. I'm sure some will laugh at me for posting this. I'm sure some will think, "she has no idea what she is talking about". Maybe that is true. So educate me. Tell me how I am wrong. I would love to hear it.
I throw down the gauntlet to the pug breeders out there. Please consider doing health testing on your dogs. Thinking your dogs are healthy "because you've never had a problem" isn't enough. You need to look into those pedigrees. You need to communicate openly about your problems with other breeders. I can't remember where I read it but cleaning up shit off the carpet is far easier than trying to clean shit up from under the carpet later. If you truly love this breed you want to see it continue down the road. I know I do. That's why I am trying to push the point. What a shame it would be if pugs, good healthy pugs, became a thing of the past because the people taking on the mantle of improving the breed ignored the big bad things already out there.
When I think about that I do consider becoming a pug breeder. "We can build a better pug, we have the technology". (ok you need to imagine that in the 6 million dollar man voice over) Unfortunately there are enough pugs in rescue to keep me from considering adding more pugs to the planet. So for now I'll keep preaching my madness. Who knows, it might not be a lost cause somewhere.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pug history in photos ~ Part 2

The photos in this post are all from "The Goodger Guide to The Pug" by Wihelmina Swainston-Goodger which was actually originally two books written by her: The pug dog, Its origin and history published in 1930 and The Pug Handbook published in 1959. The rights were purchased by Cathy J. Flamholtz and reprinted as one book in 1995. These are just a few of the photos from it.

Both of these dogs look fat to me.

What I really want to know is...... How did those dogs turn into this:

Seriously. Something has gone terribly, terribly wrong here.