Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Sacrifices Remembered

In honour of all of those who didn't make it back home, of ALL species!

This is the war dog memorial on Guam were some of the very first war dogs served. FMI on war dogs check out this post about a great book on the subject called "Always Faithful".

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Do you have dog sense?

I've heard great things about this new book "Dog Sense" by John Bradshaw. Here is an excerpt from his NPR interview:

"In the past, when dogs' functions were mostly rural, it was accepted that they were intrinsically messy and needed to be managed on their own terms. Today, by contrast, many pet dogs live in circumscribed, urban environments and are expected to be simultaneously better behaved than the average human child and as self-reliant as adults. As if these new obligations were not enough, many dogs still manifest the adaptations that suited them for their original functions — traits that we now demand they cast away as if they had never existed. The collie who herds sheep is the shepherd's best friend; the pet collie who tries to herd children and chases bicycles is an owner's nightmare. The new, unrealistic standards to which many humans hold their dogs have arisen from one of several fundamental misconceptions about what dogs are and what they have been designed to do."

That sounds pretty on the mark to me! Here is more about John and the book:

This looks like it will be my next dog related book purchase. It sounds like it has a great message for the masses of pet dog owners. Hopefully it will help dispel the popular (and wrong) dog as wolf myth as well. So far I've only heard great things. Fingers crossed it gets people to treat their dogs better. We can only hope.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Life with a big hairy dog.

Today after work I decided to trim Jacks feet and do his nails. Well that led to some brushing out which then led to this photo:

Yeah and I'm not done yet. The winter coat is trying to hang on. I had to pick most of it up afterwards so people wouldn't think I'd murdered a small animal in my yard. Jenny thinks shedding is stupid by the way.

Since it was nice and cool out I decided to take Jack for a walk after his grooming session. He was NOT impressed that the Loyal Biscuit was closed. He even stood and whined at the door when I tried to walk by. I guess he doesn't mind his baths there if he still wants to visit! Maybe he knows I ordered him a new collar and is trying to make a pick up. (I can't wait to show it off.)

They are also bringing in a new line of collars and leashes that I absolutely LOVE. (To be announced by them soon I am sure.) This of course means I will be spending even more money on my dogs wardrobe in the future. ~sigh~ I guess there are worse things I could be buying though. What do YOU spend to much money on for your dogs?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Dashman!!

Dash is a former foster frenchie we had through the group FBRN. He got a great home with a big brother (a wonderful Boston Terrier named Ivan) and his new home has kept in touch with us over the years. Something that I am very grateful for. He turned 5 yesterday. Here he is after a nice long birthday walk. I know, you want to snuggle him don't you? He has that effect on people.

Ironicly my husband came across some old videos of him playing with our dogs yesterday. Here is one of my favorites. Sorry, youtube and blogger weren't getting along well enough for me to embed this: He had a great time with Jack as you can see. Happy Birthday Dashman and here's to many many more!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Guess the breed

I know, to easy right? Read on.
We did a Wisdom Panel on this dog at work. His name is Emmett and he is a real sweetie. He came from a cattledog rescue group but his mom knew he wasn't a purebred due to something involving his color change from puppy to adult. Can you guess what else was identified in his makeup?

I've thought about doing one on Jenny because it's possible she might be a mix somewhere down the line. She sorta looks like a smooth brussels griffin cross to me at times. Not that it matters but it might explain her fabulous nose. Who knows, maybe she's a puggle! Ha ha! So who wants to guess what the Wisdom panel found out about this cutie pie?

(Edited 5/27/11 : The answer is in the comments section.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Caption contest!!

You can also caption it on my facebook page. Come join the fun!

Bribery in dog training

We’ve all heard someone say “I don’t want to use food when training my dog because it’s bribery.” Done incorrectly yes it can be. If you need to hold up the treat before your dog responds, that is a bribe. The goal in training when using food treats is to use them as a paycheck for the dog. Our job is to teach them how they can earn a chance to get paid.

I am unsure where people get the impression that dogs should just do what we ask because we asked it. If someone told you to do something out of the blue because it benefited them, not you, would you simply jump to the task no questions asked? Would we continue to work at our jobs if we didn’t get a paycheck for it? I’m guessing the answer is no to either question. So why do we ask it and expect it of our dogs?

Dogs only do behavior that works for them in some way. One example might be their not coming to us when we call them. Perhaps the thing they are sniffing is more interesting. Or perhaps that running away from us so we chase them is more fun than going back into the house. This means we need to find ways to motivate them to do what we ask when we ask it. We need to make it worthwhile for them to listen to us.

It is "The Lassie Myth" to expect they want to work for us simply to please us. Smart dogs may learn quickly that pleasing us gets them really good things. But for the most part dogs are very much "What’s in it for me?" creatures. The other problem that comes up is them knowing exactly what it is that we want of them. We aren't always clear to our dogs and if they don't understand what we are asking of them they cannot react appropriately. If they don't understand us, and we punish them for not reacting the way we want, well that hardly seems fair does it?

In training circles there are two general camps of thought on training. One camp uses physical force to get the dog into the position they want or to stop them from doing a behavior. The dog has no choices and doesn't learn what we prefer them to do. They are only prevented from doing things we don't want or forced into doing what we do want. One problem with this method is that we are thinking for the dog. This means that we have to manage the dog 100% of the time. If we aren't there to make the choices for the dog they will fall back into the habits we don't like.

The other camp uses the paycheck as a reward for doing the behavior they want from the dog to begin with. This increases the probability that the dog will want to repeat that behavior. Behavior that is ignored, or has no value for the dog, generally stops. The question you need to ask yourself if your dog is doing something you dislike is; what are they getting from doing the behavior? If they are getting ANY positive attention at all then that behavior will continue. (I mean positive in the dogs' perception. For some dogs even negative attention is positive.)

With force training physical corrections are used as punishment which can cause mistrust of us on the part of the dog. Sometimes it is because we are not always clear about what we are asking of them before the correction. While dogs do sometimes correct each other physically, they do so for clear infractions of their species specific behavior. They are also fair in those corrections which are understandable to each other. Humans are not always as clear or fair. Physical corrections done incorrectly can also hurt our dogs. No one wants that. In positive reinforcement other non-physical punishments are used that are both clear to the dog we are trying to communicate with, and non violent.

Positive doesn't equal permissive. We also teach by using consequences. That can be as simple as withdrawing our attention from them or using time outs at the moment of the infraction. (To be most effective a time out needs to be 2 minutes or less with the dog being brought back to try again.) We do not use food for everything, nor should we. There are 5 ways we can praise our dogs, food is only one of those.

Touching, speaking in a happy tone, smiling, play and food treats are the most common 5 ways we can praise our dogs. Because touch is a form of praise this is one reason pushing a dog off you to teach no jumping isn't always effective. Verbal praise can be as simple as the word Yes! used as a reward marker (in place of a clicker) or as drawn out as Good Dog! in a happy tone. Tone of voice is very important if you want your words to be considered praise. Because dogs communicate with body posture and facial expressions they learn to read ours very quickly. This is why smiling is also a form of praise. Food as praise is pretty self explanatory. For most dogs food is their currency. This is how they prefer to be paid. Of course for other dogs play is more interesting than food. Play can be high value for many high prey drive dogs. None of these are mutually exclusive either. The good news is that you can use multiple forms of praise at once!

Whatever your dogs' currency is, the beginning of training means you need to ask the dog to do something BEFORE you produce the paycheck. When they do what you ask the paycheck is delivered. The exception to this rule is if you are using the ball or food as a lure to teach the dog (or puppy) the position you want their body in. For instance if they don't know the meaning of the word "sit", we can't expect them to be successful at it if we ask for it. (And repeating the word a bunch of times will only train them to not do it the first time we ask, not explain what the word means to them.) Instead we simply use a treat in front of their nose and raise it slowly up and back over the dogs head so it is uncomfortable to do anything other than sit. Say the verbal cue "sit" AS they are successful so they learn the meaning of the word. Then say Yes! and Treat. (The reward mark word Yes! means the paycheck is coming.)

I hope this helps explain what training with food is supposed to be. Most problems in training stem from poor communication. Once you bridge that gap it gets so much easier for both you and your dog. Good luck and happy training!

*If you want to learn more about lure reward training check out the book " How to teach a new dog old tricks" by Ian Dunbar. For more information on training using a clicker (or verbal marker) check out "The thinking dog" by Gail Tamases Fisher or the video "The power of training dogs with markers" at www.

Marie Finnegan ~ K-9 Solutions Dog Training, Inc. 207-354-6488 You can find this and more articles on canine behavior on my facebook page under the discussions section.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A guessing game

Guess the reason for x-ray and for a bonus the dogs breed as well. This is not a client at our clinic. Great clarity isn't it? I find x-rays facinating.

I'm sorry I do not remember where I got these photos nor have a follow up on the dog. Hopefully the dog recovered with no lasting side effects.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Waiting to exhale

Saturday I took these two cuties to the prison to be the new dogs for the K-9 Corrections program. This is Brody. He is a 6 month old sibling to another puppy we had on the program named Russet. He is a 1/2 German wirehair pointer, 1/4 Labrador retriever and 1/4 Chesapeake bay retriever. He was returned to the shelter for being unruly and for house training issues. It turns out he is a submissive urinator which is NOT to be confused with house training, though it can be as frustrating. Submissive urination can be managed easily once it is identified as such by a few things. One is to ignore the dog when you meet them. They are usually not confident and therefore putting any social pressure on them will cause the peeing. It is a body signal to you that they are not a threat. If you yell at them for peeing they will misread that as you having missed their signal so they will pee even more. Once you build up the dogs confidence they will usually outgrow it. (another management tip is to do greetings outside the house so they pee on the ground and not your floors)

And this puppy is Rocko.

He is a mixed breed of unknown origin. We think he could be a Jack Russell/Beagle mix or possibly a Bull Terrier mix due to his behavior and head shape. I learned long ago however that trying to guess a dogs genetic makeup based on looks alone is a crap shoot. (I saw a video presentation a few years ago with slides of puppies and dogs with known parentage and most of the time our guesses were quite wrong!) Because he had been labeled a pit mix by the shelter the previous owner adopted him from I had to get special permission for him to be on the program. Once a dog is labeled a pit that's what everyone assumes they are. Regardless of the truth he is the very first pit mix to be allowed to participate in K-9 Corrections. That means I am on pins and needles hoping he makes a good impression and that no one complains and gets him booted. He needs to "win over the masses" so to speak. An awfully big job for such a little guy! He is super smart though so I think he can do it.

So far everyone is doing very well. After the first day they haven't had any more submissive peeing from Brody and no one has freaked out about Rocko being there. (there has been one negative comment but not worthy of sharing) You can see video of them playing together on the facebook page. So think good thoughts that this might help be the beginning on changing some minds about what a pitbull really is and can be.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Smart puppy!

Sometimes managing the environment doesn't work the way we planned. Training fail!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Maggie Moo's Maine Moose Chews

A friend gifted my beasts with some moose antler chews the other day. Jack wasn't quite sure what it was.
Jenny on the other hand figured it out very fast. Fast enough that she steals Jacks every chance she gets!

I love these because they are a natural chewie with no additives. (They are pieces of moose antlers that have been shed in the woods.) They also won't stain your floor when wet. You can buy your own at the Animal Wellness Center in Augusta. (or look for them at your local pet supply store) These were named after a friends dog named Maggie who is a tripawd that competes in APDT Rally. Check out her blog here: My Agile Cow Dog. Thank you Maggie!!!