Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Be prepared! Not just for boy scouts anymore.

Because the holiday is on it's way here is a great article from Dog Star Daily:

8 Tips on keeping your dogs calm for the fireworks

And from Pet Connection this is a good look at why you should research your breeder BEFORE you buy that puppy.

Heartbreak ~ Where bad breeding meets poor judgement

It is also important to research the breed of dog you are considering adding to your family to make sure it is a good match. I typically recommend going to the rescue wesite for the breed you are considering. Rescues are usually much more forthcoming with the negatives of a breed than some breeders are. Remember, THEY love their breed and may not see the negatives of owning them. Love is blind after all!

Monday, June 28, 2010

When bad stuff happens to good dogs

Yesterday after finishing with a client I checked my cell phone to see a message waiting for me. There had been an "incident" at the prison with the dogs. Apparently the leashes got tangled, treats were dropped, and a fight broke out between them. One dog was injured during the fight as well as a handler while breaking the dogs up.
Ahhh crap!
The leashes being tangled had made separating them quickly problematic and had probably contributed to the fight starting in the first place. I say this because treats on the floor or ground with both of them present had not been a problem in the past. And yes we had discussed how to properly break up a dog fight and resource guarding in dogs previously as well. Considering it was a big dog vs small dog fight things certainly could have been worse.
Fortunately the injury to the handler was a minor one and I received the call within 2o minutes of the incident. I was also luckily in the immediate area so I got there quickly. As soon as I saw Cooper I knew he needed to get to the vet. Of course this had to happen on a Sunday when everything is closed. A few phone calls later and we were on our way. (A big thank you to Dr. Yovino of Harbor Road Veterinary Hospital for coming in on his day off.)
The x-rays showed a clean break of both bones in his front right leg. Ouch! Poor guy! He had to spend the night in the veterinary hospital to get fixed up. So now Cooper is on bed rest and limited exercise for 6 to 8 weeks. He is sporting a splint that will need to be checked and changed weekly and re-x-rayd routinely. He is also on antibiotics and pain medication. (an nsaid) Thankfully they let him go back to the prison to be cared for by his handler. I could tell all of the handlers felt horrible that it happened.
I already had today off which meant I was available to handle everything fortunately. (we were short a Dr. at work so I wasn't needed) It is also good that Cooper is a dog that likes to do a lot of cuddling on the bed instead of racing around. This should make his recuperation easier on his handlers. He of course charmed everyone at the vet while there.
While at the vet I bought a Medipaw dog bootie for them to use. (not shown in the photo above) I HIGHLY recommend them for any dog in need of a waterproof covering for a splint. It happened to rain last night so keeping his splint dry was on my mind. A cheap splint covering can also be made out of old saline bags that you tape on the foot. (Tip - Plastic baggie coverings on splints should ONLY be on while the dog is outside on wet grass. Remove it once inside so the foot doesn't sweat. A wet bandage MUST be changed to prevent skin issues.)
Please send healing vibes Coopers way. Hopefully this incident doesn't affect our program in the future. It does mean Cooper will be with us longer and we now have unanticipated vet bills because of it. For anyone who wants to donate funds to help pay for his care, or to contribute to the cost of our training program, send checks to The Humane Society of Knox County. Write "For the K-9 Corrections program" or "For Coopers vet bills" on your donation. We would really appreciate any help. Thank you!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A trip to the lake.

Today I took Jenny to the local lake to see if she liked the water. I figure if I couldn't get her in then the possibility for ever considering an appearance at a Dock Dog event is unlikely. I didn't need to worry. The treats did the trick to get her in. The water was pretty nice so I'm sure that helped as well. We used the public boat ramp because it gets deep quickly and has good traction.

She swam a little bit and we quit there. The next step is to get her a life jacket. Pugs, and other top heavy muscled dogs, aren't really built for swimming more than a few strokes while supervised.

The next step is to get her fetching her water toy in the water. We'll practice that on land a bunch first. She already likes it. My son came with us and caught her swim on video for me.

Now I'm not really training for Dock Dogs. It's just a lark. And a reason to have some fun at the lake. I'm sure with a motivated pug it can be done. I'm just not sure Jenny is that pug. But we'll have some fun trying.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

An interesting book find

It comes as no surprise to my regular readers that I have a book addiction. I make no apologies, it is what it is. I collect many books of all kinds. Of course dog training books are very popular on my list, as you would expect, as are dog breed history books. Fiction, biographies, short stories and young adult are some of my other interests. This means passing an open "Used books" store during say a Summer Solstice event is not possible. I try to reign myself in upon occasion but having mad money in my pocket near that open book store is an exercise in futility. So I caved. I went it to just look at the pet section and found this:

OK so I don't anticipate the need for this book at the present. But something about it just leapt out at me. It was certainly the first time I had seen a book on the subject. I actually put it back on the shelf and left. This is sometimes helpful in letting me rethink the need for a specific book I see and prevent impulse shopping. (and buyers remorse for money spent) As you can guess by this post's title it didn't work. I went back an hour later and bought it anyway. My sister made fun of me. I just couldn't pass it up though. I kept thinking, what if someone I know needs it later? It was listed at only $8.50 so it was a good deal to boot.

One of the reasons I am sharing this in a post is to let others who may have need for such a book know there is a book available on the subject. I have been perusing book stores for years and this is the first time I have seen it. The dog on the cover belongs to the author so it is written by someone who has gone though it with their own dog. It looks to be well written and includes lots of photos of many other dogs who have also had legs removed for various reasons. I'm not sure I'll be sitting down to read it though as my current que of books is already pretty long. At least I don't need to worry about the little voice in my head whispering "You should have bought it when you had the chance" should something happen to a dog I know. I do love to have good resources on hand ahead of time. Yeah I know, that sounds slightly paranoid. It's ok. I'm aware. We all have our baggage.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Beware of mothers defending their babies

WARNING: This video starts cute but doesn't end cute. It shows a dog being hurt by a mother deer.

To me the dog in the video looks old. It doesn't seem to be able to move quickly to defend itself at all. Someone said they thought the dog was trying to show submissive body posture to the deer but I don't think so because it keeps trying to get up to get away. It is to bad that A) the dog didn't go faster to the owner when called and B) the dog wasn't on leash with a wild baby deer in the area. I also don't know why the owner didn't try to scare the deer away instead of just yelling. (But maybe there was a mobility issue on their part.) And why didn't the person videoing put DOWN the camera to help either? The cat gets lucky by being faster than the dog. (and you'll notice that a person DID stick up for the cat) I posted this in hopes it may help any future dog owners if they find themselves in a similar situation.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What's in a word

I had a conversation recently that made me think about the words we use in the "dog world". I try to be careful about certain words, like aggression for instance. Sometimes people use it to describe their dog when in reality they mean something else. I always hesitate to label a dog as aggressive due to the fallout of what that means for the dog. They may be acting aggressively in a specific context, however that doesn't mean they are aggressive all the time. Aggressive can be a label that can become a death sentence for some dogs.
I personally think the word dominant is being over used in dog circles (thanks to a certain TV personality) and I know another trainer that hates the word reactive. All dogs are reactive if they are alive is her point. Something happens and they react to it. That can be as simple as a can of food being opened. (Soups on! The dogs arriving at the dinner bowl is their reaction.) Instead we tend to hear it used as a description word for dogs that get snarky or barky at something/someone. "The dog was being reactive". I'm sure I've used it that way myself. It seems we all have our hot button words.
It also occurred to me why the phrase "Be calm and assertive" rubs me the wrong way. Why? Well, isn't assertive another word for pushy? Shouldn't we be calm and confident? How about calm and attentive? Either is a better choice for how we are with our dogs if you ask me. Just my two cents.
Speaking of words do you suppose fewer people would dock tails if we really called it what it is: cutting off puppy tails? (ref "cropped" photo above) Food for thought.
What words do you dislike in your world of dogs?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jack goes to work

Today I took Jack with me to the prison to play with Walker. I thought they might be a good match based on both of their play styles. Walker needs to be around other dogs more as well. This time Walker settled down much more quickly than the last time I brought Jack. The rule is no playtime until everyone is nice and calm. I figured Cooper would probably be to forward and I was right. Cooper tried to pick a fight but I was prepared for that. Jack may be pretty good with some dogs but not the ones who want to start something. So that meant Cooper got to sit today out. Cooper does best with dogs he can boss around. That ain't Jack.

Walker was a bit intimidated at first and ran away from Jack in the beginning. That became a chase game. We tried to get them interested in tug but they weren't quite comfortable enough with each other for that just yet.

It was pretty warm out so they got tuckered pretty quickly. Walker definitely likes being around other dogs. I hope we can find him a home with a buddy to play with.

Every time I bring Jack with me I end up doing a fair amount of "Akita" education. There are always a lot of questions about him. He definitely attracts attention. I am lucky to have such a social akita. They aren't all so accepting of dogs they don't know. It is even written in the breed standard: "Akitas may be intolerant of other dogs, particularly of the same sex." Unfortunately some of that is leftover from their having been used in dog fighting for sport in their past. Sadly some breeders use that as an excuse for them being that way instead of trying to breed away from it. I remember complaining about it on an akita e-mail list (long ago when they were as popular as facebook) and was told, "If you want a Golden Retriever temperment then you should get a Golden Retriever. Akitas just aren't going to be like that." Here's an idea, breed AWAY from that sharper temperment. It is obviously possible. Heck they even did it with fox years ago. (google Russian Fox Study)

Of course I'm not a breeder, so perhaps the fact the breed doesn't have the largest gene pool doesn't help. (depending on who you talk to) I do think in todays society there is no place for purposely breeding dogs that want to kill other dogs. We all have to live on the same planet and in the same neighborhoods after all. End of rant. I am just happy to have an akita that is more social than some. Of course I worked hard to help him be that way with lots of good socialization when he was young. It's hard to say how much nature vs nurture is at play. Of course he is from a fabulous breeder so I'm willing to bet it was a combination of both.

Jack prefers to hang at home or run in the woods with his friends to the more formal obedience work that Jenny will do for hours. (Let's be honest, her stomach keeps her going.) But he sure does make a great partner when I need him to be. It's kinda nice being able to take your best friend to work with you. I love my job!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dock Dogs comes to Maine

So for those that have never been to see a bunch of dogs flying off a dock into water after a toy, I can now say I highly recommend it as entertainment. Dock Dogs came to our area thanks to Heidi of The Loyal Biscuit Co. (and friends) I took a few videos. Here is Heidi and her dog Fenway:

This was Fenways very first Dock Dogs event. Not to shabby! Fenway was adopted from The Humane Society of Knox County.

Dogs of all sizes can participate. I was even told life jackets are allowed. (I think it may have been a hint!) Somehow I doubt I could get Jenny to jump in after a toy. Now if it were a nice juicy chicken carcass we might be in business. I think Jack might even pass on that. He's not exactly a fetcher and has a hard enough time getting down off our picnic table.

I only wish I got some video of the reluctant jumpers. Some of those were pretty fun to watch. The crowd was very supportive of them. There was much cheering them on. I took a lot of photos but in truth they all pretty much suck. But even a bad photo of Tessa is beautiful. I'd steal her but her owner knows where I live.

I brought Jenny with me. That turned out to be a mixed bag. She had moments of greatness, like meeting the enormous Great Dane and was nice to him, (around food!) and ignoring the terrier who wanted to kick her butt. She was patted by lots of kids in various stages of stickiness and most of the time ignored the other dogs. And then she had other moments of not so greatness. Once she noticed the dogs running on the dock she wanted to go chase them and was quite vocal about her intentions. To get uninterrupted video I resorted to tossing treats on the ground for her to sniff out. It worked. I'm not proud.

She looks so sweet and innocent doesn't she? I admit I did buy a tiny bumper. Who knows, I have a year to train before they come back. Wouldn't that be a hoot to see? It was a great event. Kudos to everyone who brought it here and did such a great job. I look forward to going again next year.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Rally update

The Rally workshop yesterday was fabulous! For other dogs in attendance there were: a Pembroke corgi, a Lurcher, a Plott hound (I think), an Irish setter, 2 Australian shepherds (the mellowest ones I've ever seen!) and a Bernese mountain dog. It was a great group.
I feel much better about where I am in training with Jenny and the upcoming trial in July. I know what I need to work on more and feel good about what we've done so far. The instructor was Annette MacNair of Wag It!. Annette is ranked 9th in the USA in APDT Rally ARCHX level. (Impressive!) I loved her teaching style. It was relaxed and fun. We even got to do a few course run throughs which helps a lot. Not only do you get real practice but you can watch others and get tips from that as well. She recommended the following book which gives me an excuse to buy it. (Books are my kryptonite!)
It teaches about both venues, AKC and APDT rally. That is great news since I want to be able to compete in both. I already bought this DVD which was helpful for the APDT signs. It's currently at the prison for the K-9 Corrections handlers to watch.
It is very well done and clear. I highly recommend it for anyone considering the sport. Everyone did great yesterday. I can see myself getting very addicted to this because it is so much fun. Oh well, I suppose in the realm of addictions this one isn't so bad. VBG

It depends

It depends is usually the begining of the answer to most dog training questions. How do I get my dog to do X? how do I get my dog to stop doing X? Someone told me I should do X with my dogs, is that right? The reason for this is that most times we need more information. Tell me more about your specific situation and I can properly answer the question.

We also need to work with the dog they have. All dogs are individuals and we serve them best by remembering that. What may work for one dog in one home may not work for another. This is one reason I like doing the private sessions over group classes with people. Don't get me wrong, I think group classes are very valuable. You get to work with your dog around the distractions of other dogs and can also socialize them. (if allowed and appropriate) I send people to puppy classes in the area all the time. So many problems can be avoided later with the proper beginning.

It depends is also sometimes the answer to the question "Is this problem fixable?"

All problems may not be solvable within a specific context. If you have a dog that is not tolerant of other dogs in your home or you have a dog that bites people, yes you may be able to change their behavior. However many things come into play in those scenarios. Your lifestyle, and the time you have to address those issues. Not to mention the ability to manage the situation to keep everyone safe as we take the time to address the behavior. Not every dog belongs in every home. Sometimes it's simply a mismatch of energy levels. Fortunatly we have reputable breeders willing to take back dogs, shelters, and breed rescues that are available to help rehome the dogs when needed.

I think rescues (groups/shelters) are sometimes hard on owners who surrender dogs. In a job where you continually see people doing stupid stuff (throwing animals out ot moving cars and the like) is it hard not to become biased towards the human race. Do enough rescue work and you tend to start thinking most people suck. Not to mention how often rescue workers are lied to. When compassion fatigue sets in it is hard to stay positive. When I first became a trainer, from a rescue background, it was hard to admit that sometimes a dog just wasn't the right match for a home. But as a trainer it is easy to see that sometimes that is the case.

So if you ever ask trainer a question and want a good answer, be prepared to answer their follow up questions first. Keep in mind that very little is cut and dry in dog behavior. If it were there would certainly be far fewer books written on the subject! Just like the rest of life, adjustments need to be made for each situation. Why would we expect anything different in life with our dogs?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

K-9 Corrections update

The honeymoon is over. Three weeks to the day the handlers report that Walker is showing his true colors now. I warned them that might happen. When dogs go into a new place they tend to be a bit reserved as they learn the routine and get comfortable. Not that he is being bad, he is just showing more behaviors that need to be worked on. Things that probably got him brought back to the shelter (twice) in the first place. He is super smart though and fortunately a quick study. He will definitely need an owner who will set some good rules for him and exercise him regularly. It would be great if he had a doggy playmate too.

Here he is learning a trick. His end cue will be the word China. This way we can tell him "Dig to China" or "Who wants to visit China?" and he will start digging. (I heard about one dog who's cue was "Go to hell" but we thought that wasn't appropriate for our dog. VBG) This trick is from Disc 1 of the DVD "The magic of shaping" by Pamela Dennison.

Here is Walker and Cooper playing. You can see that Cooper is much more relaxed in this video than the last. Cooper is making strides and is finally working in his room away from Walker now. He could also benefit from a doggy playmate due to his increased confidence with another dog around. The tricky part might be finding an appropriate match due to his initial assertiveness. (which may be insecurity/defensive in nature) He will need a dog that is tolerant of that.

Coopers ears are looking great. When he came in they were mostly bald. The hair has grown back well. He has also gained a little weight and his coat is looking better. It's amazing what good care can do for a dog. I just wish we had more info about his past. We can only guess that we was neglected, based on his condition, but wonder why he was dumped at the shelter. (And I mean that literally, he was left in an outside pen to be discovered in the morning. At least he was let out of a car like Ben was though.) He was even happily wagging his tail which is a new behavior for him in that context. He will need a patient owner to bring him out of his shell. Overall I am pleased with his progress.

Friday, June 4, 2010

We can see you

When you bring your pet to our veterinary hospital, and you are out in the parking lot, we can see you. We can see you hitting your dog for jumping on you and we can see you jerking your puppy around for sniffing the tire of the car next to yours. We can even see you screaming at your dog because they are pulling on the leash. (Because you obviously never trained them to do otherwise. We don't care if your dog is pulling as long as it isn't bothering other dogs or people waiting. You aren't being critiqued on your dogs behavior so relax. Seriously.)

Maybe you didn't get the word but someone invented this thing called windows a long time ago that lets us see outside of buildings. We aren't trying to spy on you, we are simply looking to see which patients are arriving. Smiling politely at the doctor and us behind the counter after you are in the lobby doesn't negate what we saw. (And yes the doctors can see through windows too.) Your smiles aren't magic that will make us forget. It doesn't work that way. Those of us that didn't see it got the full report of your actions by those of us that did. We saw you do it because we CAN see you. Please knock it off. It hurts our hearts and isn't nice for your poor pet.
(I know this isn't isn't exactly my target audience but I needed to vent that.)

Brain cramps and training progress

Ever have the feeling like your brain is to full of crap so it is plugging up the whole works? Yeah that is how I have been feeling. To many ideas for posts has me jammed up so I can't complete any of my thoughts. Hence the photo posts lately. The TV news sure isn't helping me try to keep my positive outlook either. My thoughts are with everyone and every creature affected by the actions of BP oil. It is a horrific situation. Add to that it has been a VERY busy week at work. Which though can be some what stressful is still much less stress than dispatching ever was so I am grateful I have this job. We also have a great team which usually makes it fun. Besides, I DID see a minium of 3 cute puppies today!

I think I have finally bridged the gap with the left pivot work with Jenny. Thankfully I found the Rally e-mail list that APDT runs and asked a few questions. I had messed it up abit by getting her to center in front of me during the perch exercise. It was great practice for the front position but not so great for swing to my side. Here is video of her left swing and around to heel.

We are attending a Rally workshop tomorrow so I'll get some time in on real courses and questions about how we are doing answered. I think I may be using to many hand signals. I don't want to look like I am luring. It also occured to me today I haven't taught her a stand yet. Ooops! Hopefully I haven't been mucking up to much other stuff. It's June already and we have a trial coming up in July. That isn't very much time.

I recently got the DVD "The magic of shaping" by Pamela Dennison and watched disc 1. It is excellent by the way. I'm trying not to focus on the fact I can't make it to her seminar. (My husband bought me the DVD as a consolation.) Now I want to teach Jenny the file her own nails trick. I even went and bought the sandpaper and wood at Lowes. (I'll definatly be posting THAT video to share!) I took Jenny with me for a training session and was mistaken for Victoria Stilwell. Yeah I know, it was flattering but the man needs to get his eyesight and hearing checked. My accent is decidedly NOT British! On the upside a friend pointed out that I must have looked like I knew what I was doing. VBG

The German Shepherd I have been working with at the shelter got adopted. (Ben) He is even playing with other dogs now. I am VERY excited for him! It sounds like the perfect home. I knew he would blossom outside the shelter and that seems to be happening. He is a high energy young dog and the chaos of the shelter wasn't doing him any favors. Luckily someone saw though his excitement to his potential within. I wish I knew the rest of his story. He was seen being dumped out of a pick up truck and left behind by someone. Honestly, who does that? He's lucky he wasn't hit by a car. I'm glad the witness got involved and brought him in. Good luck to him in his new life.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010