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.

As promised, pug history in photos ~ Part 1

I finally whipped my scanner into submission so I could share some of the pug photos from a couple of ebay finds. The following photos are from "The complete pug" by Milo G. Denlinger second edition 1958, copyright 1947. I am facinated with breed histories and love looking at old photos. It is interesting to see them before we changed them so much.

The 4 photos above are originally from Watson's dog book - 1910 stated by author.

This is a terrible angle but she has the "rose" ears which aren't seen in many of the older photos.

"Button" ears are the one that flop down as above.

I find it interesting that so many of the dogs get their championships so young. What if they change as they completely mature? I also wish there were more dates listed of the photos.

She obviously had at least one litter by the time the photo was taken.

Is it me or am I seeing more noses and less fat on these dogs?

I had to add this one. Not the best photo but a great action shot!

Wordless Wednesday

What's YOUR sign?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Idiocy and a lesson in dog catching 101

This is Roxy. She is the other new dog in the K-9 Corrections program. She is an adult beagle that was tied and left to a fence of a local boarding kennel. We have a story of her possible past home and in it being tied to that fence was the good ending for her. (The other involved a hole with her name on it.) Thankfully someone stepped in and did the best they could for her under the circumstances. She is super shy and skittish and needs to learn how to be a dog again. Living life on the end of a chain just doesn't do a dog any favors in the socialization department.
A couple of days after I took her over I got a call from a person who is interested in adopting her. I explained that I don't chose the homes, the shelter does that. I only give them some input in what kind of home would be a best match for the dogs once they graduate. He wasn't thrilled to hear that and started asking why I would send a dog like her to such a scary place. A scary place with CRIMINALS in it. Criminals are bad people in case I was wondering. Umm, because it will help her learn skills so she not only gets adopted but skills that will help her KEEP her new home. He didn't really want to hear about the program in any depth. He just wanted to yell at me about his displeasure that he couldn't have the dog and that I am clearly an idiot.
Yeah. Way to score points mister. I'll be sure to put you right at the top of the list.
So I dropped her off on a Tuesday and on Friday night I received a call that she had slipped her collar. Thinking the worst I headed to the shelter first to grab the Hav-A-Hart trap before going to the facility. Once there I figured she would be long gone being a beagle and all. They tend to follow their noses given the opportunity. I was also worried because she was naked (no tags) and was near a busy road. Surprisingly, and luckily for us, she was hanging in the area when I arrived but wouldn't come to anyone. The motion lights were freaking her out as were any noises coming from the buildings. And forget about the guards and their jangly keys. She wasn't having any of it! But she was running back and forth clearly conflicted about what to do.
Tip on catching a loose dog: Never chase them. It either becomes a keep away game or scares them and they will keep running. Work your way closer to them by walking diagonally to them but closer. Crouch down often with your side presented to the dog. This keeps you from being threatening looking. Keep your voice upbeat and happy. "What a good girl!" This also keeps you from sounding threatening. Since it was dark I also kept the flashlight pointed either near enough so I could see her but not at her directly and sometimes pointed the light directly onto me so she could clearly see me. Remove all hats so your profile looks less threatening. (unless the dog knows you well while wearing a hat) Using these techniques I worked close enough over about a 15 minute time span to be able to easily slip a lead over her. Give LOTS of praise when you finally catch the dog. Remember they make associations to the last thing that happened to them. Punishing them in that moment will only create distrust and they will be more difficult to catch next time.
For dogs that know you, running away from them can be helpful in starting a run to you game. Or lay on the ground. This makes some dogs curious enough to come sniff you to see what's up. I also like the turn your back to them, crouch on the ground and make weird small animal noises, method. However you may "trick" them, use LOTS of praise when you are successful so they LIKE coming to you and being caught.
So when I went over on Saturday I took a new martingale collar and a leather harness. No more getting loose for this one! (That's why the picture shows her in so much gear.) She is already making strides and likes being around other dogs. She is small enough that Nico isn't threatened by her and they are getting to know each other.
Sorry for the blogging gap. I had a few sick days and those combined with my busy days just put me behind. Here is another update: The dog in the x-rays had a c-section the next day. Apparently the owners were off a bit on the date of conception. 5 live pups were born. (pug mixes)

Monday, October 4, 2010

How many puppies......

can you count?? Two views of the same dog approximately 52 days in whelp.