Thursday, January 28, 2010
Mary Majchrowski at http://www.mybravodog.com/ (Rockport)
Saturday, January 23, 2010
(My husband gifted her (ok me) with a Dyson vacume last night to help combat the presence of dust mites. It is the "for homes with pets" version. I LOVE it!)
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This 7 month old beauty is available for adoption to the right family. She is already spayed and up to date on vaccinations. While she does play with some dogs, she prefers to be the only dog in her home. If you want to know more about her e-mail me directly at CanineHelp@aol.com for contact information. She is located in Mid-Coast Maine.
She is not allergic to trees, weeds, or grass. This is great news when it comes to tracking and other outdoor activities. (Her highest number for trees was 18, highest for weeds was 23, highest number for grass was 18. The scoring chart is below.)
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
This morning I wake to the sound of the plow truck in our driveway and a few Jack woofs outside. (we got LOTS of snow these past two days) My husband gets up before me and typically takes him out for his morning potty time. It's "the boys bonding time". I figured they were outside together and didn't think much about it. I rolled over to catch a few more minutes of Z's. I have never been much of a morning person.
I get up a short while later and don't hear Jack or my husband. OK so they are still outside. Maybe he is shoveling the steps or something. I look out my front door and see that my husbands truck is gone. He is gone and Jack is not inside. Mmmmm okaaayyy. Jack is NOT in the house, I double check. I then open the door and look to see if Jack is in the yard. Yes he is. He is still in the yard even though THE GATE IS WIDE OPEN. Holy crap!!!
I call Jack inside and he comes running, "Hey mom, look there's snow! I love snow! Didja see the snow?!"
God love him he is such a goofball!
I call my husband and say: "You are SO lucky."
"What do you mean?"
"You left Jack in the yard, WITH THE GATE OPEN."
"It's ok, he was still there."
"I'm so sorry. I was brushing off the truck and needed to get to work early and must have totally forgotten him."
I'm lucky my head didn't explode. I was actually pretty calm on the phone at that point because Jack was safe and none of the horrible possibilities that could have been came true. And I knew it was an accident. I have a very good husband who is normally very responsible. I only wish I had thought to re-phrase the first thing I said to him to "Where's Jack?" so he could have gotten the full "Oh My God!" rush that I did. (but I guess that would have been kinda mean)
To make this even scarier, because he had gone to the groomer yesterday he wasn't wearing his normal collar and tags. I had taken them off to wash and forgot to put them back on. Something I am normally fanatical about. It was the perfect storm of how things can go very bad. Fortunately due to repetition and training Jack knows to stay in the yard with the gate opened until we call him out. He isn't normally in the yard with the gate open either unless we are outside with him, usually because we are in the driveway or side yard ourselves.
But in all honesty I have to say we also got VERY lucky. He is a dog after all and dogs behave like dogs. It is luck that nothing caught his attention enough to make him want to leave his yard. He loves playing in the snow and eating it so I imagine, aside from barking at the plow guy, that is what he spent his time doing. Who knows what he thought when his dad drove away. I guess he knew I would let him in eventually.
Nothing like an adrenaline rush to get my morning started!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
What I don’t understand is why more people don’t ask trainers their opinion in finding the right dog for them. Dog trainers see and work with more breeds and shelter dogs regularly than the average person will ever meet in a lifetime. Some of us even live with multiple breeds in our own homes. Not to mention the fact that dog trainers know about dog behavior and breed traits because it is our job to know this information.
I know some people end up with a puppy because they are cute and people can be impulsive, but that isn’t everyone. There are also people who go to shelters, or try to find breeders, that do have an idea what they want. Unfortunatly looking at a dog in a shelter can bring up emotional responses and people can then make a bad choice based on that emotion.
Or maybe people don’t know how to find a reputable breeder that will tell them the truth about any negative traits of the breed they choose to share their life with. Those breeders also conviently say nothing of the health issues that their breed may be prone to. Non-reputable breeders, who don’t do any health testing nor care about temperment, only care about making a sale.
My favorite adoption technique comes from large volume breed rescues. They typically show potential adopters only 3 dogs that they have pulled as the best match for the home in question after an interview with the whole family. This keeps the potential for mismatches at a minimum. I’ve seen this done with greyhound rescues and a pitbull group. Breed specific rescue groups are also very good at letting adopters know before hand all the breed traits and health issues their dogs can have.
Considering a purebred dog from a breeder? Visit the breeds rescue website first for lots of valuable information on the breed of your choice. If you are looking at mixed breed dogs at a shelter, sometimes knowing what breeds are in the mix can also be helpful for knowing some of the future behavior traits you might expect from that dog.
Slumber parties, or “trial period” adoptions, can also be helpful to see if a specific shelter dog is the right match for your family. Be forwarned though that some dogs take a few weeks to settle in and really show some of their true behavior. We call that the honeymoon period.
This started me wondering, that we can do as trainers to help make people more aware that we ARE a valuable resource in their search? Should we advertise this as a free service? I know I am happy to help people find the right dog at a shelter, or even find a reputable breeder to keep them out of pet stores. Sometimes just a discussion about breed traits is enough information for them to make a much more informed decision.
If you are considering adding a canine companion to your family, or know someone who is, consider talking to some of your local trainers for their opinion. Talk to as many as you can to get as much information as possible. Trainers love to talk about dogs, we love to help dogs, and we love to help the people who also love dogs. Educating yourself before adding your next family member is a great way to make the best start, for all of you.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I have dabbled in obedience showing in the past and I have to admit it isn't my favorite activity. I am not very competitive and never saw the point if it wasn't fun for both me and my dogs. I have however started some training in Rally O and think this might be much more challenging (the course changes every time!) and interesting for us. I also think it is much more realistic in day to day life and training since you get to talk to your dogs during the course. The dogs are expected to be dogs in Rally.
This means I have to get Jenny's PAL/ILP from AKC since she came from rescue with no pedigree if I want to ever compete with her in any AKC events. I already have Jack's paperwork since he came from a breeder. (a fabulous breeder that is) I filled out her paperwork last night. I also need to send in her spay certificate and two good photos of her, side and front view. I tried getting a couple tonight with my daughters help. As you can see it didn't all go quite as planned.
I am also looking forward to the grand opening of http://www.finishforwarddogs.com/ in Saco next month. I know they are going to host some great seminars too. I am thinking about trying weight pulling with Jack. I also keep my eyes on http://www.happytailsportland.com/ for upcoming seminars too. That have hosted some great ones in the past. (As did My Wonderful Dog which sadly closed it's doors.)
It looks like I'll be trying again for those photos tomorrow. I know, she's so abused!
Friday, January 15, 2010
My son was so excited to get his very own dog. He had begged for a pug for years. None of our attempts at swaying him towards a french bulldog deterred him. And we sure tried. (having contacts in a breed already is helpful when trying to find another after all) He even collected stuffed pugs and photos of them. When he started saving his own money to get a real one we knew we had to make it happen.
I am grateful that my children let me borrow "their" dogs for my own amusement. Of course it works out for them since I also "borrow" them when it is time to feed and walk them most of the time too. They help out alot with them of course, a family with 3 dogs to take care of ensures there is always something dog related for someone to do after all. And I may be a control freak but I can't be everywhere at once either.
I got a handle on her resource guarding pretty quickly. She just needed to learn how to relax and realize that no one was going to deny her a meal. She still dives after food if it falls on the floor if you don't get a "leave it" out fast enough, but she doesn't attack the other dogs or even get snarky if they go near her anymore when she is eating. She has also learned to share food off the plates we give them to lick when we are finished with dinner. (What, you think dog trainers don't spoil their dogs too? VBG)
I think a big part of her guarding came from treatment she received in her second home. Based on her vet records when she went into her third home she was underweight. The stool eating may have been a response to not getting enough food on her own. Some dogs will learn to resort to "recycling" their food if they are not getting enough. Or if they aren't getting enough nutrients from what they are getting in their diet. I once saw a shelter dog that had been severely neglected, not fed or given water regularly, drinking his own urine AS he was peeing. (And yes it WAS shocking!)
Monday at work we drew some blood for a Greer allergy testing panel on Jenny. http://www.greerlabs.com/vet/vet.pet.owner.education.php She gets these itchy spells that so far is easily managed with over the counter Benedryl. I have also been trying different diets to see if it may be related to food. Proper food trials are tough to do though because you have to be very strict with them. I admit my memory usually fails me here. If she has food allergies this may explain why she had such GI trouble as a puppy. I requested the works, environmental, insect, and food testing. It isn't an absolute as I understand it but I am interested to see if she has any high numbers. This can help me know what to avoid with her. Is it certain foods? Or is it something in the environment? Fortunately she isn't nearly as bad as some of the clients we see at the hospital. But being itchy is no fun for anyone. Hopefully I will learn something that can help her. Until then I thank my stars we have benedryl.
(For proper dosing and to make sure Benedryl is safe for your itchy dog please call your veterinarian.)
Sunday, January 10, 2010
It's been a busy past few days. I intended to do more training sooner but sometimes the planets just don't align to give me the time. I went out and got not one but two mini tripods to help me with my video taping. One is a simple 6 inch tripod and the other is a neat flexible 7 inch job. Each for under 10 bucks too.
The first video is Jenny learning how to ring a bell. I probably should have decided if I wanted her to ring it with her nose or her paw before I began. I was thinking paw when I started but then she used her nose so I adapted to do either. I think I will go just to paw next time. Excuse the mumbling. I was trying to explain what I was doing but I didn't want to disturb her working and I was concentrating on her as well. I think I was saying something about raising criteria. (they are shown in the order that I took them earlier today)
None of the videos are perfect, but I think it's important to show that training is a process that doesn't always go as planned. The goal is to communicate clearly to your dog and have fun while teaching them skills. I think the videos do show that. Missy was in the next room with my son watching us through the baby gate. You might hear her in the background. I had him feed her treats so she wouldn't whine to join us, which is what she has started to do. It might be interesting to see what she would do given the opportunity but I'm not sure that is fair given her condition. (tho I guess I could try.)
The reason I think she was successful so quickly with getting a sound is because we have been doing paw work with the nail trimmers. She has been slapping her paw into my hand with the trimmers in them as well. If you were to work with a dog that doesn't offer any touching at first simply start with a look towards the item and work from there. You gradually increase the criteria after the dog "gets" the game. Make sure to keep your rate of reinforcement high in the beginning to keep the dog interested. (reinforce for every good thing) I do not have that problem with Jenny.
This next video is my first session with the metal dumbbell. This is actually a scent article used in obedience showing. It is longer than the other dumbbell I was using which seemed uncomfortable for her to hold for any length of time. I also have the leather ones but wanted her to learn to pick them up without mouthing them that she did in the last video so I chose the metal one. I wasn't sure she would want to pick it up at all with it being metal. I did buy some wood pieces and dowels to make a longer wooden dumbbell but didn't have time to assemble it. Since it was a different dumbbell I went back a few steps in training when I started today's session.
I thought it was funny that she went over to the camera. "What happens if I touch this." Of course I learned my lesson and put the camera up on a chair for the next try.
Like I said they aren't perfect. We are a work in progress. I welcome all constructive criticism. I've been thinking about coming up with a routine to entertain residents in the local nursing homes. I've never had the urge for therapy dog work, I would feel awkward, but this I think I could do. My hat goes off to anyone who can do therapy work. I think it is amazing stuff.
I also have a confession to make, I used a clicker with a client today. (and have found a lovely easy on the ears version that has a strap for my finger made by premier) The verbal marker just wasn't cutting it for one of her two dogs so for clarity I bought it out of "the box". It worked like a charm. She won't use it herself, so we paired it with the verbal marker. It was just enough to make it clearer for the dog though and that is the important bit.
**A big shout out to my grandmother (Nanny) who turned 87 today. She is one of the lights of my life and I seriously do not know where I would be today without her. She still makes me strawberry jam and quilts and mows her own lawn. I wish I had a quarter of her talents and hope to be half as active at her age. She makes quilts for aids babies, care kits for veterans AND works in our local food pantry. She just received a presidential volunteerism award as well as one from the state. I am super proud of her and just wanted to brag. (It's my blog so I can do that!) Happy Birthday Nanny!!**
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Here is some in the tin, and on Missy's nose. This softens the nose and in a day or two I simply rub her nose and all those little extensions/pieces fall right off and looks normal again. It's like magic. Missy loves the taste of the stuff but isn't thrilled with the application process. I think she finds it undignified. Given the opportunity she would gladly eat it directly out of the tin instead. What can I say, the girl knows what she likes!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Seriously, it wasn't us.
He definately looks much better after a brush out. I even managed to trim his foot hair and do his nail trim too. Does anyone else have a dog that eats the nail cuttings?(It was Jenny of course. She will eat anything.) I love this photo I snapped afterwards. Missy looks pretty happy. I'm sure it was because I didn't clip her nails. If the planets stay aligned I plan on taking him to a handling class tonight. (Yes he is neutered and no I don't show, it is just a way to get him out and work him around other dogs.)
Then I decided to continue Jenny's dumbell training. I am doing it in stages with the goal of her picking it up and carrying it to me and releasing on cue. I think I might need a slightly longer dumbell though. While she can physically pick this one up it looks uncomfortable to me when she holds it. Maybe I will dig my other ones out next time.
I managed to stop saying "good girl" to much this time but I did start pointing towards the end of the session which I didn't mean to do. I also think I need to invest in a tri-pod if I am going to keep videoing my progress. (Which I totally am!) I think she did a fabulous job once again.
Monday, January 4, 2010
My sister uses one and got me my very own as a gift. I have to say I really love it. Since I refuse to put up flood lights at our temporary home this is a far less expensive way to get the same results. I can see my dogs no matter where they are in my yard at night and I have my hands free while doing it. I know, it isn't exactly inventing the wheel but what can I say? When I find a useful product I like to pass the info along. Anything to make life easier with dogs is always nice to have.
This is Missy Moo outside in the light of the lamp with NO flash on the camera. Pretty good huh? I believe mine came from L.L.Bean. (where else?) It can be found in the camping and outdoor section. I hope someone else out there thinks this is as great an idea that I did. Even if I was a little slow in finding it. (My other helpful tip is to keep it near the door so you don't forget to use it.)
Sunday, January 3, 2010
To give you an idea how much we got this is Jack standing in the part of the yard that didn't get any drifting this morning. Poor Missy got stuck in a drift twice trying to get outside to pee. She was not impressed.
I also spent last night reading more of "The Thinking Dog" again and it clarified some things for me with the marker training I already do. For anyone thinking of clicker work or marker training I can already say BUY THIS BOOK! It is fabulous and is so clearly written it will only sharpen your skills if you already use the principles. If you don't do any type of marker training it will certainly make you reconsider.
This combined with having a free day to myself and my own dogs gave me the urge to work with Jenny for fun. Back in July I had gotten a fabulous deal on some dumbbells and scent article dumbbells. Even though I don't currently show in obedience venues I thought they would be fun to work with. Plus teaching her to pick up stuff will come in handy for our tracking training. (scent article on the track have to be clearly found, either by the dog sitting, going into a down or picked up and brought to the handler)
Here is a short video of after our 20 minute session. (Next time I will try to remember to get a before video.)
Things for me to work on are: keeping my verbal "yes" reward marker more consistent and to stop saying good dog so much. "Take it" will be my verbal cue in the future so I attach it now.
How cute is she??
Friday, January 1, 2010
Shimo is on the left, and Kuma is on the right. I just love these photos of them together. It was a very fun day for us all and a great memory.