Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lessons in thinking ahead

For fun I do tracking with Jenny when the weather co-operates. (translation, when it is warm enough for me) I'm not that great at it, and we are very sporadic but there is something about it I just love. I really enjoy watching a dog do something that is so natural to them while challenging my own skills. And being outside enjoying nature sure doesn't hurt either.
Recently I have been training her (inside) to lay down for the article indication. This means when she comes to an item in the trail that has been dropped by the person she is "tracking" she will let me know it is there. This needs to be a very visible cue to the handler. I decided having her lay down with the object in between her front legs would work nicely. She picked it up very quickly and I was pleased.
Fast forward to me driving in my car past one of my practice fields the other day. As I look over I get the urge to go out and practice a track. Oh wait, it is still kinda cold. Jenny isn't going to want to lay down..... and it hits me, oh my freaking word, JENNY ISN'T GOING TO WANT TO LAY DOWN ON COLD GROUND!!! What the heck was I thinking?
Now even though I don't typically go out much if it is really cold I do practice in rain and wind and days that aren't always the best weather wise. This is just in case I ever do attempt a tracking test someday. You don't get to pick a warm sunny day for a tracking test. And even if she will lay down on the ground when it is cold, why would I ask her to do that? It doesn't seem fair since I get to stay upright, dry and clean. Now if she were as fluffy as Jack it wouldn't be an issue. But she is very naked in her nether regions. More so than many other dogs. Because of this she gets cold easily. Her favorite place is under a blanket for a reason!
~sigh~ So I get to start over. I can't decide if I want her to just sit down in front of it or put her paw on the item. I could also have her pick it up in her mouth but that one has drawbacks. I don't mind teaching her to pick up a glove but the other items on a track can vary greatly. Not to mention I want to control what goes into her mouth for safety reasons. So I need to make a decision before I can go forward. The bigger challenge ahead of me is getting her to do this on a track. She tends to work very quickly.
Chalk this lesson up to not thinking ahead. Oh well, lessons learned the hard way tend to stick! Now come on spring!!!

(My tracking harness of choice is the nylon Sure Fit by )

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A post in which Jack goes to work

Jack got to join me at the prison the other day to help socialize the puppies. As shy as they can be with people, though they are MUCH improved on that count, they are not shy with other dogs. Mason liked to bark when anyone was having fun without him.
There are some very cute videos of them over on the K-9 Corrections facebook site. Go check out Myah's play bows.
We learned that Myah's play style is all about chase games. By the end of the session you could tell she was quite smitten with Jack.
Mason was a little pushy at first but was quick to figure it out when Jack told him off. Jack is a fabulous "uncle" to puppies. Everyone had a great time. Sometimes I forget this is supposed to be work!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A plan B day

So today didn't go exactly as planned. I had hoped to head over to Wag It in Lincolnville to watch some Wag It Games this morning. Unfortunately my daughter had to be somewhere so mom as taxi became a priority.
After my taxi duties I headed over to Bolduc for my session with the K-9 Corrections puppies. Things are progressing well tho the pups are still a little shy in new situations. Of course given their rough start (they were born under a trailer with no heat or human contact) this comes as no surprise.
I had also hoped to get the dogs out for a walk today. That also didn't pan out. To assuage my guilt I did get in a grooming session with Jack and a training session with Jenny. Here are some new treats I found at the Loyal Biscuit that are super cool for our training sessions.

They are teeny tiny and kibble like so they don't dry out like the soft treats can. Soft treats can also have a lot of sugar in them which can be a problem for dogs with allergies. (I'm told.) Since Jenny will work for any treat these work perfectly for us. I did toss a few soft treats in the bait bag among these to add some variety. Soft stinky treats tend to be higher value for most dogs.

Aren't they cute? They also come in other flavors. For our session we worked on targeting her back feet onto a book. This is going to help with the super fabulous trick I have in mind to teach her. It's all about baby steps to a grand finale. It took longer than I expected but by the end I think she understood the exercise. We'll see what she remembers tomorrow. I love shaping work!
Her itching has decreased while she has been on the temeril-P thankfully. Her coat seems dry and dull to me now though. I want to give her a bath but am concerned it will trigger an itchy spell. Maybe I'll get brave and chance it tomorrow after a walk. Hopefully the weather cooperates. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I was originally going to post a video that is making the rounds of a certain TV trainer (umm dog psychologist) that shows him kicking dogs repeatedly. Oh wait, he calls it "tapping" them to get their attention. Um if I "tap" you with an open hand to the face does renaming what I really did make it OK? The video has since been pulled from YouTube for copyright infringement. Can we say legal team in action? (edited 3/16/11 It has been reposted to YouTube. Try this link while it still works to see the video refered to: )
Why are people still listening to this man for training advise? Well I can tell you why, they have a problem dog, see his stuff working quickly and so they decide it must be a valid training method. The problem is that his methods are short lived and rely on the owner being able to suppress the behavior. It doesn't change the emotion of the event for the dog. In some cases it makes the emotion worse because punishment is used so often. (and many times unfairly!)
Suppression only works if you can then manage the dog 100% of the time. But because he has a flashy TV show, and they don't know where else to look for help, he gets people to follow him. They don't know any better remember. Then when video of him comes out showing him being abusive to dogs they run to his defense. "Oh you need to be dominate with those kinds of dogs." "Oh it was just a tap, he wasn't using much force." Yeah ok, that's why the dog tried to bite him afterwards. One of the worst clips was when he kicked a dog to GET A REACTION so he could see what the dog would do. We call that setting a dog up to fail in my book. P.S. a dog is a dog first and a breed second. No breed needs more heavy handling than another.
Say whatever you want about "cookie pushing" positive method training. At the very worst if someone does it incorrectly the dog doesn't get trained. But neither is anyone causing pain to a dog in the process. Haven't we evolved beyond the need to cause dogs pain in training? Apparently not.
If the following photo doesn't horrify you please don't become a dog trainer. Or a dog owner for that matter.
Read this post for a mind boggling explanation:
CM also touts his methods as natural. Because he has watched dogs and how they interact remember. This is where he learned the "calm submissive state" nonsense. Hmmm funny that I've never seen dogs "tap" each other. Or choke each other. Or push each other out of a truck. (The akita episode.) Which part of that was calm submissive behavior BTW? One would think a dog psychologist would know more about actual dog behavior. But hey I've only been doing this for 10 years. What could I know?
Of course when you are famous and making money hand over fist (TV show, DVD sales, public appearances, books, magazines, etc.) you probably aren't motivated to learn a better way. He is already getting all the reinforcement he needs! To bad it's the dogs paying for it with their pain.
"Dog training should not be a battle of wills, but an ever-evolving dance of communication and cooperation." ~ Nicole Wilde ~

Monday, March 14, 2011

Playing detective and grasping at straws

I need to rename this blog: "Things that are wrong with my dogs". Seriously. I'm adding current skin photos so I have them handy when I take Jenny to the specialist. My phone has internet now so I can pull up the blog if needed. (my camera takes better photos than my phone or I would just use that) Because with my luck her skin will be back to normal by the time we have our appointment. I found out a few things today that might also be helpful. Fingers crossed. The top photo is from today. The two below are from Sunday evening.

Slightly better than her last photos but not by much. She was also super itchy that day and left some bloody spots on her chest.

I decided to look up some things using the blog to backtrack. Jenny came to us in September of 2007. Her skin looked great when we got her and there was no itching at all. She had her first breakout 2 months later. It was mild in comparison but she went on antibiotics and Temeril-P. She was also itching in January of 2008. (I blogged about looking for a food that could help.) I wont bore you will all the details of everything I found, but looking back I saw that she had a good itch free few months in spring of 2009. So I asked the store I buy her food from what she was on at the time. It turns out she was eating HealthWise Lamb and Oatmeal formula for one meal and Primal Pheasant for the other. So tonight I picked up a bag of the HW to switch her over to. I hate feeling helpless so this is at least something to try. I find it interesting that she was doing well on a food with grains in it. But like I read on a friends website, all dogs are individuals and you need to find what works for your dog. Even if it flys in the face of popular opinion. (Or in this case my own beliefs!)

I've also taken her off everything except the cipro and added Temeril-P again. (and some pro-biotics) I HAVE to get her comfortable. She is itching herself raw regardless of the antihistamines and other stuff I have tried. If anything she looks worse. Can you imagine having your whole body feel like a mosquito bite? It doesn't sound fun. (Nor is it fun to watch either.) I have also e-mailed her foster home and asked a few questions about her past and the food she was previously on. Yeah it's a long shot but again it is doing something. It is aggravating to know she has had times that she is completely itch free and it has progressed to now being so awful.

I am also considering acupuncture and Reiki at this point. There is a vet nearby that does some acupuncture and I know a person who does the Reiki. I also came across some suggestions in the comments section of a post I haven't tried yet either. (CoQ10 and Grapeseed extract - Thanks Amy.) So I'll see how the recent adjustments go once I taper her Temeril-P down. Wish us luck.

Jack had his follow up appointment today. He did great and didn't need to be sedated to be poked. Thankfully the abscess is draining well on its own. Yay for at least that bit of luck!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shades of my paranoia

So yesterday morning I was convinced Jack had cancer. Now everyone who knows me knows that I am normally an optimist by nature. It even annoys my husband at times. It is rare but once in awhile I jump to the worst conclusions. Especially when it comes to the dogs. I'm unsure if I do it as a way to prepare myself for the worst, or as a way to feel better about the vet bill I am about to have. I mean if it isn't something big and bad then you are relieved no matter how much it cost to find out. Of course it could also be that I am just crazy. (I'm gonna blame genetics for that one.)
In my defense I see a lot of bad things at work. And I know a couple people currently dealing with cancer in their dogs. So it happens. More than we like for sure.
So here's what happened to make me think the worst: After I fed the dogs I had to give Jenny her pills. Well I give them in some canned food and it wouldn't be fair if I didn't share with Jack too. When he took his off the spoon he acted like it hurt him. Hmmm that is odd. So I looked at his teeth (mouth closed) and didn't see anything out of sorts. So then I decided to look inside his mouth. Well when I went to open it up he yelped. OK that is definitely not good. Of course it must be because he has some kind of oral cancer. I had convinced myself that I had missed all the early clues. His drooling a little more on that side, and Jenny's licking his face were signs. Because of course she was trying to tell me something and I am an idiot and didn't pay attention. What is wrong with me? I am such a bad owner! (I know, such rational thoughts right?) So I skipped breakfast, because I was freaking out, packed him up and took him in to work with me.
Thankfully after being a fabulous patient it was determined that he just has an abscess along a back tooth. (He even let the Dr. push on it.) So now he's on antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory. We'll re-check him Monday to make sure they are working and see what the status of it is. He may also need a dental soon.
So it is likely NOT cancer of course. I say likely because he isn't all better yet. I'll only feel 100% about it when he is 100% healed. I am very thankful that it is something pretty simple all in all. I joke now but it was a scary morning for me. Rational or not. Please tell me some of you over react like this sometimes too.
For anyone who does have a dog with cancer, I found this website that looks helpful:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A K-9 Corrections Update

Check out the photo of Jenny settling in to her new home. (She is playing the part of the pillow in the photo.) She has a new brother named Chester. I guess they are getting along ok. VBG Russet is also headed to his new home. Hopefully I'll get photos of him to share soon.

Here is new puppy Mason. A collie, husky, heinz 57 mix. He is 9 weeks old and needs to learn he doesn't need to be such resource guarder of his food.

And his sister Maya. They are also both very shy with people. They were born under a house so didn't learn about humans until they were a few weeks old when they went into a foster home.

Everyone loves having puppies on the program!
(Jenny is doing much better today. Her skin is less red and she seems less itchy. Hopefully it continues to improve.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Turns out it can always get worse

Jenny is NOT a happy camper. Yesterday she was very red and she started to have a flare up again. So I gave her a medicated bath and put the benadryl to her. At lunch time today she didn't look to bad. I had given her things to chew to keep her busy and I thought she even looked a bit better. Then I came home tonight to this:

WTH? She was miserable. So back into the tub she went. Luckily I also picked up more cipro for the infection. I grabbed a different antihistamine to try because the benadryl seems to not be as effective as it used to be. I am SO glad I made the appointment with the specialist but I am feeling very frustrated that she has to suffer so much in the meantime. I'm really hoping there is an end in sight to this. I feel so bad for her.

(She is currently curled up beside me sleeping. Maybe this means the chlorpheniramine has kicked in. Fingers crossed.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Looking for free training videos?

How about some cool trick ideas? Look no further. If you haven't heard about "Kikopup" yet you're in for a treat. Her real name is Emily. Check out her introduction here: I am THRILLED that she offers her training videos for free online. If you are struggling to figure out how clicker training works be sure to check out her tutorials on the subject. She also has many other fabulous videos available to watch as well. Just look on youtube under "kikopup" for all of her titles. Some people learn better through seeing it in action than reading a description in a book or on a blog/website. I am all for sharing whatever will help people the most and the fastest. I know, not the best business decision at times. But that is just who I am. I can live with that. Happy Training!