Thursday, September 30, 2010
I felt like I needed to switch it up. I typically take the girls out; it's cooler so they don't get hot and then the man and I go for a power walk. Jessie was sound asleep; still in her morning nap so I thought I'd grab the poodles and go. Luke lay on the couch once he saw I was taking Tilley out; he knows the routine. I called to him and he got suspicious; so I asked him if he'd like to go for a walk with Tilley. Those big ears of his flew up and he was off the couch in a flash. We went through our snail approach to getting his harness on and then we were ready.
Once at the park Tilley seemed to be happier to be out with Luke; perhaps she doesn't like going out with Jessie. I wouldn't blame her; Jessie likes to sniff, and I mean sniff. Up and down each blade of grass; it can take eons just to get a few feet. Once we got to the safe field I took out Tilley's ball and she came to life; she is instantly transformed by the ball, tail up, head, body, everything up and ready. I just kick it now because I don't want any mishaps; but she loves it, it's what she lives for. Luke is patient; waiting his turn. I am clear as to who is getting the ball; I use names and they understand. When both were younger; Tilley had no hesitation in running over Luke should he go after the ball when it was her turn.
Now that Tilley is 13 1/2 I worry that he will run her over. First it is Tilley's turn; she has a few tosses, then Luke's turn. As soon as I ask him if he would like a turn; his whole body morphs into drive mode. When it is Tilley's turn; he pretends not to be watching, he keeps himself occupied but when it's his turn, he's on. Tilley lays on the grass and does a very controlled stay; what a girl. And then it's Tilley's turn again; I always end the ball throws with her. Luke loves the ball but Tilley lives for the ball.
We make our way around the rest of the park; two happy poodles, three smiles.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
"Can she stay?" "Well; we can try." Picture a silent movie playing in fast motion; that is what many of my shoots look like. If stay is not on the list of things to do for the model today; I snap like mad until they inevitably slow down. And with most of my shoots; the very best is saved for the last. The dog or dogs are tired; they have stopped moving at top speed and I can get some wonderful animated and very real expressions. So; stay.........hmmmmmmm, really stay? Like not move at all? Or just stay in the same sort of vicinity? Stay is a toughie if you've never contemplated asking your dog to do this. So let's talk about it.
An official Stay in the competitive obedience ring means exactly that; the dog is to stay in the exact spot they have been placed into. That means if you put your dog into a sit, stay; they must stay sitting. A down stay; yep they have to remain in a down position. But that is the official type stay; for me stay means to stay in the same spot. I really don't care if the dog lies down from a sit; they can sit or lie down but they cannot stand. Stand is far too difficult to control movement; how much do you allow? One toe move? Two? Stand is hard for a stay; so it is sit or down for me.
There are a few essential for the optimum stay training:
1. Enforcing; you must enforce a stay. If you actually use the word stay and expect that in the near future your dog will stay when told then you MUST enforce. Do not use the word "stay" willy nilly. Don't tell your dog to stay and then forget and go do something. Do not ask them to stay if you just want them to sort of hang around.
2. Do not call your dog out of a stay; this gives way to the idea that at some point they will be coming to you out of the stay. Always return to your dog and then release them. That way they will never anticipate coming to you and break a stay.
3. Choose one release word; doesn't matter what it is but everyone should know it. This word is the only way your dog can move from a stay position.
4. Do not set your dog up for failure; start with no distractions, very short time and distance away. Begin easy; with each small success you can then up the "stay" requirements in distance, time and distractions.
Stay is one of the most important things that you can teach your dog. Sure it comes in handy if you'd like their photo taken; but on a day to day basis it is very useful. The more vocabulary that your dog understands; the easier it is to communicate. Plus when you can communicate "stay;" there is much less man handling needed.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Okay; I'm sick of it. What am I sick of? I'm sick of seeing the pet store at the Mall filled with people. HEEELLLLLOOOOOOO; did any of you see Oprah? Did you see the HSUS show on Mills? By now there is no reason why anyone would not know; come on, everyone knows. And frankly I think it is appalling; turning a blind eye, what they don't see can't hurt them right? After all the sales person assured them that they don't buy from Millers. Well it may not hurt immediately but there's a good chance down the road that it's going to hurt and hurt bad. What happens to many pet store dogs is that issues arise, health and emotional. I've known a lot of puppy mill dogs and almost everyone had something either physically or mentally wrong with them.
Just stop; if everyone just stopped buying dogs from pet stores and the online Millers, they'd go out of business. Once they are belly up then the rescue begins. But only once they have stopped pumping out puppies for a buck can the weary find rest. Those poor little dogs stuffed in a cage with little or no food or water. Left alone to procreate for the; dare I say humans who use them up until they are of no use to them any longer. People need to JUST STOP; stop buying from these horrible excuses for humans. They have no heart; they don't care who they hurt, kill or injure in their quest for the almighty dollar.
Shut'm down I say; there needs to be more raids, a stop to this madness. A glimmer of desire in a consumers eye turns to greed and despair very quickly. First it was the pocket pooches (thanks so much Paris). A Miller's dream, no need for a big facility when you can have tiny little cages stacked high with hundreds of dogs bringing in the big bucks. Then came the Designer dogs; yep the Millers jumped on that one bigtime. You name it; they've crossed them. Doodles galore, maltipoos, puggles, pekapoos, chiweinies, you name it. Some even brag about their modern facilities; out buildings and cages galore. Breeding corals, whelping buildings...................STOP.
Time to stop the madness; we can all do it. Spread the word; tell everyone you know. Time to boycott the stores; shut'm down. If they sell puppies; never set foot in the store again. Someone somewhere has to take a stand; and it can be all of us together. It is a huge pyramid of perpetrators; from the leaser of the buildings and storefronts to the owners of the stores who pretend to have no idea. The employees who know better but want to keep their job. To the shippers who know what they are doing is not right; but they too shut up to keep their job. All the way down to the consumers; the ones who buy the dogs, the ones who pretend not to know but know they know. Let me state this loud and clear for all to hear "GOOD BREEDERS DO NOT SELL THEIR DOGS TO PET STORES." That is a fact and if they do sell to pet stores; well then you know what they are.
Millers buy what they can; they often scam ethical breeders; lying about who they are and what their plans are. Many don't get past the screening but occasionally they do. These poor dogs; once in the hands of a Miller, receive little food and water, little or no medical treatment, no affection, no love, no caring, no concern.............no compassion. It is a compassion less business; it is the scum off the bottom of the bucket who Mills dogs. Dogs deserve a home; a family, love and care from someone who is always there for them. They deserve it and we need to demand it.
These horrible acts inflicted on dogs are stoppable; but someone has to stop it. This can be done; it could actually be stopped, but people need to stop first. Stop frequenting the stores that carry puppies; if no one goes into the store, the store owner is going to change something. If he stops carrying puppies; there will be no demand, no more demand on the poor suffering animals who live a life of horror to keep pumping out more. Perhaps the Millers will turn to the next hot ticket item; maybe some new fancy "pet rock" thing. Then the rescuers can do their job and rescue the survivors. Finally giving the dogs the life they always deserved but never had.
Take a stand; you can make a difference. Stand today; say it, you will not set foot in a store that sells puppies. You will spread the word because our dogs.........................our dogs deserve it.
Monday, September 27, 2010
From the moment we met; I knew you were the one, you caught my eye when I wasn't looking. No I was not looking to bring a puppy home with me that day. I was simply visiting a friend; a friend who had a litter of puppies who would soon be going home to their new homes. You jumped and you jumped, you wouldn't give it up. When your brothers and sisters slept; you were doing your best selling job. And as I picked you up and held you; looking into your eyes, I asked "do you want to come home with me?" I hadn't really meant it; I say that to alot of dogs, I really wasn't looking.
After our visit I got in my car and drove off; all I could think about was your beautiful fluffy golden coat. Those amazing brown eyes of yours and that tail that just wouldn't stop. For three weeks I talked about you; I basically obsessed over our meeting. Something had happened that day; something that I could not ignore. We'd connected; the connection had been so intense that I couldn't forget it. Until finally one day through an amazing sequence of events, unbelievable friends and your now Dad saying "just go get him" you joined our family.
Posted by Sherri at 5:53 AM
Sunday, September 26, 2010
I hate to see a dog out on a walk with their owner and being yanked at every turn. If you are going to turn around; make a right or left hand turn it makes sense to give your dog a little notice. I was watching a woman and her dog jogging around the park the other day; every time the woman changed direction she yank her dog off balance. If your dog is mid sniff; let them know you'd like to move on. Heading for a tree? Let them know you need them to stay on your side of it; otherwise you can get into that embarrassing situation when your dog is wrapped around a tree.
These direction and impending obstacle verbal cues take a while to set in but once they are in; they're in. I love that all of my dogs understand these cues and heed them when they hear. Luke is probably the best direction follower; of course he is 3 years younger than Tilley and four years younger than Jessie. Unfortunately Jessie has past the point of hearing verbal cues and seeing visual cues so I need to gently guide her. Although if I stop at a post or tree she will still come around my side, smart little gal she is.
My favorite direction cue is "this way" I have taught the dogs that it means that I am changing direction. If they hear the cue "this way" they stop to see where I am going. If they are off leash and out in a field; a "this way" shouted to them has immediate attention on me. I use the cue daily at home as well; they clearly understand that it means I am changing directions, they like to know where I am always going.
If they are sniffing and I'd like to get going; they get a "let's go." This is a much better option than yanking. My cue for staying on my side of a tree, post or pole is "this side." To teach this I would approach a tree; as one of my dogs takes the route around the tree I hold the leash taught. I repeat "this side;" when they loosen the leash they are praised, when they come around my side they receive a treat and lots of praise. It takes only several times to instill this behavior on cue. And once they learn it I always give it to them before they head behind the tree.
Another great one is "turn;" this I teach for when they are walking directly beside me. It means that I will be walking directly in front of them; literally cutting them off. They learn to stop and move back at this verbal cue. I teach this by having the dog by my side and a little back so that when I turn into them I don't wipe out and they don't get stepped on. This one is learned very fast but you must accompany it with a lot of praise. Some dogs can become a bit apprehensive when you keep cutting them off at first. But lots of "you are amazing," and treats helps even the most timid to overcome this. You must give the verbal cue before turning; a heads up.
Life is much more enjoyable when you give your dog a heads up.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
This blog dedicated to Dakota; who left her family far too soon.
As canine guardians; we all know that the day will come, the day when our best friend slips away. If life plays out the way that it should then we have many years to spend loving our dogs, but sadly it is often cut short for reasons unknown to us. Sudden death is very tragic to those left behind; having not been prepared it hits us blindsided, sending us into a tailspin. And if that death comes at a far too young age it is worse; a dog taken before it's time. My brother lost his 4 year old shelter this week; they do not know what took her. At just four years of age she left far too soon and is excruciatingly missed.
My neighbors lost their dog of 11 years a couple of weeks ago. It was sudden and unexpected; they were left wishing for just one more day, one more day to hold their much loved girl. "If I'd known;" a phrase far too commonly heard; but life does not always give us a heads up. Sometimes we see that the end is near; we can prepare ourselves and lessen the shock of a loss. But the heartache is still there; a loss is never easy, especially when it is the loss of a family member.
Dealing with the loss is a very personal matter; but the one common element is sadness. I have discussed the loss of a companion with many, many people and it is never the same. Some people need a lot of time; they cannot even think about a dog until several years after. While others need to fill a void right away; the lack of a canine around is unbearable. There is no right; there is no wrong way to deal, but deal we must.
It is a sad reality that our canines live short lives; some shorter than others. But as our dogs slip away from our lives together; we are left with memories. When everything is said and done it is memories that we fall back on and those memories are so very important. I feel very strongly that each dog that passes through our lives, touching us makes us more compassionate for the next. There are many things to learn from our dogs; each one has their own lessons to give us in their own way. As we spend more years with the canine species we hopefully become a more compassionate, patient, loving, understanding and kind person.
True connection with a canine can only be a good thing.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Okay; this is a heads up and warning of the following GROSS talk blog. If you have not had breakfast yet or you have a queasy stomach then best to not read this one or leave it for later in the day. Sebaceous cysts; a volcano like bump that is commonly found on dogs. It seems that no breed or mix is predisposed to these little annoying lumps so any dog is fair game. I don't remember the first time I saw one but it was on Tilley; she has now had them for years and it is has become a common attack strategy when we see one. First we take note; lump, next we wait and we wait and we wait until it decides to erupt and erupt it does, usually. They open up much like a volcano and release the contents which can vary from gray goo, maybe a little blood to tiny little dark gray pearls. The tiny beads beads are common and have been inside almost all of Tilley's and by tiny I mean like large sized grains of sand but there are a lot of them with accompanying goo.
So what are Sebaceous cysts and what should you do about them? All dogs have oil glands in their skin; these are what produce the oil for their hair, which contain a substance called Sebum. When a hair follicle becomes blocked for some reason then the natural flow of oils cannot be expelled. This causes a backup so to speak and a lump can form; it can grow to a good size before it opens up, if it opens up. Tilley has had them when they simply dried up and went away but typically they have come to a head and opened. This is when great care must be taken to keep them clean; infection can set in fast and make matters far worse.
I've taken care of dozens of them; yes they are extremely gross but fairly easy to fix so to speak. If they open up; you use hot compresses, a cloth with warm water. As warm as your pup can stand and put it on top; let it sit and then gently squeeze. It may not seem like there is an end to the goo but there is; believe me. When you start to see blood; which may be a few days you are nearing the end. I like to keep neosporine all around the opening but not covering the opening. Best to keep a dry bandage on it if you can; this stops licking. Perhaps sit out in the sun with your pooch to let it dry without a bandage for a bit each day.
The hair may or may not grow back on the spot where the cysts formed; I've had it grow and not grow back. Problems can arise with a cyst if they do not come to a head and continue to grow . If they become red and warm to the touch; best to head to the vet. They are often removed surgically; but only if they become a problem.
So there you have it; gross but very normal.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Just dogs with Sherri t-shirt on. I told her no; that I was a trainer and professional dog photographer. The woman behind me piped in "that must be just about as bad as babies." Hmmmm; I wasn't quite sure what to say to that so I simply replied "I prefer to shoot dogs; I love it."
Of course I love babies; I had three of my own, now grown. And I think they are as cute as the next person; but dogs are my thing. That said I do love to photograph dogs and kids; that is entirely different. Seeing a completely natural, unrehearsed connection between a canine and a human child......................amazing. Over the years I have contemplated branching out; and who knows I may still but for now I'm shooting dogs. I've been doing it for 6 years now and I love it; haven't gotten even the least bit weary of it.
Taking a great shot of a dog demands that the dog is relaxed; a face says everything. And if a dog is stressed about a shoot; it's not going to have a happy face. Today I was sitting on the ground as one of the dogs inspected the camera. He sat nearly on top of me as I put it all together. Once I was ready I sat and let him check it out; this is important. Often during a shoot I will see a glimmer of hesitation about the camera; this is my cue to drop it and chill. We wait; have a rub, a little chat and we're good to go again.
The next dog was the same; as friendly as they come but a little worried about this huge black thing staring at her. She voiced her opinion to the black monster; so the camera sat on the floor for a bit until she felt okay about it. It's all about the dog; nothing else matters during a dog shoot.
Watch; see, react.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I love dogs; this fact I am sure of. How many times have I heard; "this is the best breed?" "Mutts are the best." Dogs are the best; plain and simple, I love them all. I love the tiny pocket pooches all the way up to the mondo Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds. I love the feisty Irish Terriers; the wiry mix breed mid-sized dogs, the ones with the scruffy face. I call these guys the Disney dogs; and there are alot that fit the bill. I love the Bulldogs that wiggle when they walk; there isn't a more expressive dog. I love the short coated, fluffy coated, wire coated and half and half coated mixes.
That's it; I love them all. Sure there have been a few dogs in my training and photography career that surely have not liked me; and for those it's been a little tougher to love. But it's not me that is important; it is their guardian, that is who they need to love and be connected to. I love nothing more than seeing a dog gazing into their owners eyes and their owner gazing back. A true canine connection is amazing; and once you've had one you know what all this dog fuss is about.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Boundaries; we all have them, as adults and children and dogs. An environmental boundary can be anywhere; you just have to choose it. Teaching boundaries is fairly easy but without consistency; you'll have a challenge. One thing about boundary training is there is no command for this exercise. We want your dog to know that it is absolutely not an option to cross a boundary; especially out a door on their own. If someone should happen to leave a door ajar your dog should know that they just don't go out, without you telling them that they can.
The first thing you need to establish for yourself is what boundary you will train. Even if you have several areas you want to teach say like the front door, side gate and garage door only work on one at a time. Once that is trained it is easy to train a new additional boundary.
Now you need to make sure there is a clear boundary for your dog so that they can understand. It may be a front door mat, the actual door or a change in flooring. Once that is decided and you have a clear view of where your boundary is, get your dog. Put a leash on your dog so that if they cross the boundary you have something to grab onto and if your dog is a guaranteed bolter, get a long leash on them and tie them to something, leaving the leash long enough for them to cross the boundary. Get some treats, small ones like the size of a dime (charlee bear treats) work great for this.
Start out with your dog behind you and behind the boundary, walk towards the boundary. If they try to follow you over the boundary you turn and walk abruptly into them. Body language is important for this exercise as it helps your dog to understand right from wrong.
Once back over the boundary you turn and try again. If they do not attempt to follow you quickly throw a treat back behind them. You want the treats behind them because you do not want them coming to you to get the treat. Make sure to reward the smallest of success, this helps them to move on more quickly.
Now try to walk over the boundary and touch the door handle, always be ready for your dog to fail. You must act immediately turning and walking into them. Dogs really do not like when you walk into them so this is a very good message to keep them back. Do not use words, you can use sounds as I find it nearly impossible not to grunt some displeasure to my dogs and use happy sounds for their success. But you are not going to tell them to stay, they are not staying they are just not to come over the boundary. (More on stay in the future)
You are going to make it harder and harder but in baby steps. Now try to open the door, always keeping one on eye your dog. Do this exercise in a very fluid motion, do not hesitate and move slowly or it is a very unnatural behavior from you.
Treat for success, move in and walk at your dog for failure. Only move to the next step once your dog succeeds.
When you need to get your dog back over the boundary it must be done quickly, calmly and with purpose. Walk into them and once they are over the boundary turn around right away and try again. You have your dogs attention right now, use it.
I'm sure you get the drift of the exercise now. You are going to push it and try to take a step outside and then back. Once you can do that, pretend to talk to someone outside (this almost always creates a boundary break so watch). Then you are going to start hanging around outside, don't forget to treat for them NOT following you.
Treating is to get the message through quickly and clearly. Depending on the level of your bolter and age will be how long and how often you treat. My dogs never get treats for this now but they sure get happy talk.
The boundary you set is for when a door is open, if a door is closed a dog can cross the boundary at will. This is something you cannot always be on top of so futile to try.
When it is time for your dog to go out the door or gate or whatever you must make it very official. They are only to ever go out with one word. It makes no matter what that one word is but they must hear it before going out. Push your dog with this exercise, practice lots of different scenarios that you think might have your dog break a boundary. The more you train the more your dog will be ready for the real thing.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
As we wandered back to the car after lunch I saw many more dogs; many off leash but walking close to their owners. Ocean Beach has a very casual feel; dog's enjoying the day out with their family and obviously well socialized. They were greeting other dogs like old friends, perhaps they were. I was the outsider looking in; and what I saw was great. The more welcome our dogs are to join us in our daily lives; the more socializing they get. The more social interactions that our dogs receive; the better able they are to deal with day to day stuff.
Do you have a great dog friendly town? I'd love to hear about it. Are there amazing dog parks in your town? Water bowls left at every corner, store and restaurant? The restaurant we were in had a jar a doggie cookies right beside the large human cookies; nice.
"The greatest of a nation and it's moral progress can be judged by the way it's animals are treated."
Posted by Sherri at 9:38 PM
Is there anything cuter than a sleeping dog? As I sit typing I have three sleeping dogs on my bed; each one twitching at different times. Luke is my big dreamer; it seems like no sooner do his eyes close than he is running a marathon, chasing a rabbit or after something but he is going. Jessie isn't much of a demonstrative dreamer; I'm sure she dreams but it is only on a rare occasion that she twitches or runs is spot. Although there have been times when she is growling, running and her hair is up from the top of her head to the tip of her tail. I really wonder what monster she is fighting when her hair is up. Tilley is a runner; and she has a tendency to sleep with her eyes open in a creepy fashion so seeing her run open eyed in her sleep takes some getting use to.
When a dog falls asleep; it typically means that they feel safe enough to do so. Of course even if a dog is not feeling safe and in a state of stress there comes a time when their body just shuts down and puts them into a sleep. But when a dog is in the safety of their home; surrounded by family and feeling confident enough to shut their eyes it is a great thing to watch. I love seeing Tilley out on the lawn enjoying the sun when she dozes off. I try very hard not to startle her as it takes more confidence to fall asleep outside rather than in.
Seeing your dog curled up on the bed; your lap, the couch or by the fire is a wonderful sight. I know it makes me really happy to know that my dogs are as happy and secure that they can fall into a deep, deep sleep. I love to listen to them snoring; from soft grunts all the way up to the loud snoring that one cannot sleep through. They make all sorts of noises when they sleep; growling, squeaking, whining and the occasional barking. Normally they wake themselves up startled by the sound of their bark; looking around to see what the commotion is about.
A sleeping dog is a joy to watch; I often wonder what they dream about. And like us I'm sure there are good, bad and everything in between dreams. A sleeping dog is another one of those little things that makes me smile.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Fear - a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
Many years ago I was attending a parade; it was a city parade and I was in one of the city shelter wagons. We brought our dogs and waved to the crowds. I thought it would be fun; but not so much. Anyhow; there was several others in the wagon and one person had a dachshund that was quite fearful. Also in the wagon was the resident shelter trainer; was not me. I was a newcomer and to many of the long timers; I was a person with weird positive training ideas. So this very harsh conventional type trainer told the woman with the doxie; to yank him. When she gave him a gentle yank on the choke collar he abruptly grabbed the collar and gave an almighty yank. It was horrible; not only was the dog in a state of fear because of all the comings and goings, noise and people but the little dog had now received a severe reprimand; for what?
Fear belongs to the person who is experiencing it; no one else. Whether or not we feel like there is a need or reason to be fearful means nothing. What you need to do is to address the fear response no matter what the fear trigger is. How do you do that? Keeping chill are rewarding calm or calmer behavior. The worst thing that you can offer your dog in response to a fearful display is soothing touch and words. When you try to console a fearful dog; you are telling the dog that there is in fact an issue to be fearful of.
Your dog will be watching you; and however you respond to the trigger, your dog will take in. Often when my guys are startled by a surprise noise or object; I too am startled but I quickly pull it together to appear calm, cool and collected. It is amazing how quickly it can diffuse the situation. Just yesterday I was skyping in bed; my bedroom door started to blow shut and I did not have the time to get out of bed and run to stop it. Luke is petrified of slamming doors; so as it slammed and Luke bolted up I did nothing. I sat and chatted like nothing had happened. He looked at me; the door, me, the door and then lay back down. Had I even acknowledged what had happened; I would have drawn the fear response into a much longer span.
Often a fearful response will be triggered and catch you totally off guard. About a year ago I was taking the dogs to a new beach; we had to walk through a tunnel like thing to get there and Tilley had a very strong fear response to the surrounding environment. I had not expected it and was not ready to deal with it. She was frozen in place; not wanting to yank on her I simply hoisted her up and carried her through. I placed her on the ground as we exited and continued like it was just another day at the park. Now I realize that she is quite afraid of bridges or anything like that; we've been working on it. She is not over it but will walk over a bridge now; we just do it. There are no treats involved as she is too afraid to eat; I just give her a very good lead to follow, nonchalant and away we go.
Don't try to explain away a fear; it simply doesn't work with our dogs. Not only does it not work; but it makes matters worse. Show your dog through your actions that there is nothing to fear. Often you need to do a really great acting job; you may have been startled or be afraid yourself, don't show it. Unflappable; that is the image you are going for, can you portray rock solid or cool as a cucumber?
Friday, September 17, 2010
Touching feet; nail cutting, grooming, bath time, physical touch, sharing..............these are just a few common things that our canine family members are not fond of. Not all dogs have problems with these activities but many do. So if your dog has one of these "issues" how do you change the way they react? Many people explain to me how they try so hard to hold down their dog to cut their nails and their dog freaks. It's so bad that the dog reacts violently as soon as they see the clippers. The owners have come to a point where they simply can't deal with it anymore and their dog now sport long nails.
I know other people who have given up all together on grooming. They have tried and tried but what started out as a challenge is now a frantic wrestling match. Just a glance of the brush sends their dog into a frenzie and trying to get the brush to the hair is just a no go. Several years ago I worked with a wonderful couple who had a lovely little schnauzer; "just don't try to touch his feet." It was the rainy season here in SoCal and their house was wall to wall white carpet so he needed his feet wiped. Everytime they tried to wipe his feet; they got bit.
When a dog has such a strong negative association to something that they start to display aggressively; you must kick a plan into action. Using violence against violence only fuels the issue. Dogs do not look at our physcial attempts to stop the behavior as we do; violence works against us. To turn around a negative response or reaction to an event; we need to convince the dog that it is actually good, or defintely worth their while to permit the approach, touch or loss of item.
Let's use nail cutting as the example; you must start slow. The first step is to link the sight of the nail clippers to a fabulous treat. This may take several days but it is well worth it. Then you want to touch the clippers on your dogs leg; offer that great treat again. Only do this for a second each time until you get a positive response; then rub the clippers on your dogs foot and treat. While you are getting your dog accustom to the sight and touch of the clippers; you also want to work on grabbing your dogs foot which is something you must do to clip the nails. The same slow small steps must be taken as well; short and sweet to start and then grow to the goal which can take weeks.
The first nail clip will be a big success; one treat per nail. Then you work up to cutting four feet for one treat; but slowly. I have been clipping my dogs nails since they were puppies and I still give each dog a treat after they get them done. None of the dogs enjoy their nails being cut but they allow me to do it because I have made it a very positive activity. It's all in the association; ya gotta make it a good one.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Just around 6:00 pm each night everyone (dogs) start to get antsy. Tilley paces past the front door umpteen times; Luke sits with his ears plastered back waiting. He may come and stand in the kitchen but his ears are facing the front door. Jessie is in and out of the kitchen; waiting. Everyone is awaiting the arrival of Dad; the one and only. How do they know what time it is? They may pick up on several of my behavior cues; I head down to the kitchen to start dinner. The daylight or lack there of also tells them what time it is and then they have that crazy dog sense that only dogs have.
There are quite a few things during the day that the dogs are quite aware of. One is Dad's arrival time; what time they eat, when they go for a walk and tv time. Dogs just know; it's all association. If I get my suitcase out; I tend to have a couple of stressed out pups. If I grab my flip flops in the morning then everyone remains in their comfy spot; but if I grab my dog walking shoes they all jump and are ready to go. And if I grab my dog walking shoes in the middle of the day; I just get a quick glance. Dogs tend to become habitual; some more than others, Luke is very set in his ways and if you offer to do an activity at a different time than he is use to he can get a littler ornery about it. This is why I like to mix things up; routine can be good or bad depending on the dog.
For many dogs; routine is settling, it can make the difference for a nervous type. Dogs who need confidence building can benefit from routine as well. When you have a pack of dogs; routine can be very helpful. But as many things are too much is not always better. It is also good not to be so routine that your dog comes unglued if things change. I think tossing out things when they are not expected keeps them on their toes and able to handle something random that might just happen. I often recommend routine for a certain dog; but I also tell the owner to keep a close eye on routine control. The moment when routine seems to take on a new meaning; and that is the dog controlling the situation.
A daily walk is a good thing to switch up; don't go the same way all the time. Even my husband will throw the dogs every once in a while by coming in the back or garage door. They get pretty startled by this but it does help to tone down the anxiety of his arrival the next few days. If you have a very stringent and regulated routine around your place; good to throw'm a curve ball now and then. Feed them in a different spot; ask them for a down in a weird place, call them into a room or closet that they've never been and do some obedience.
Keeping a dog on their toes can be tough; they are much smarter than we credit them for. Heck; they know when Dad should be home and they don't have a watch.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
When frustrated with training I've often heard "well; she's a bulldog." Commonly known as a tough cookie to train; even considered as thick. Dumb? I think not. I've never met a dumb dog; no matter what breed; they are all amazing. Each and every dog is an individual and as such each learn at their own pace. Often people group breeds together as a whole as far as intelligence; not good. Just like all people learn differently so do dogs. And as far as breeds as a whole; sure there are tendencies, traits and behaviors that have been bred into them over the years. But they do not all fit the breed mold.
Bulldogs are the second most popular breed that I have worked with and I constantly hear the "not the easiest to train;" remark from their owners. I am here to tell you that some of the smartest dogs I've met are bulldogs; and they have to be the most comical. They are so smart that they convince everyone that they simply can't get it. After all they are bulldogs so just let them do as they please. Smart little devils aren't they?
What you need to do when educating your dog is to find out what makes them tick. Long thought of as one of the toughest breeds to train is the greyhound. This came around by the simple fact that they are a soft dog and tend to shutdown when harsh training methods are used. They learn quite well with positive reinforcement methods of training. They are all different; some dogs have a real drive to work, some like to do it on their own, others need coaxing and then there are the ones who convince you that they just can't "get it." Some thrive on strict rules and constant working lifestyle; others are more laid back about their learning and take it on the slow train.
Knowing what your breed or mix breed was bred to do can help; finding what they love to do can make things a lot easier. But they don't all like to do what they were meant to do. I've met Golden Retrievers who would never retrieve a ball. I've seen a video of a Greyhound dock diving; a Borzoi doing agility and a Jack Russell schutzhund dog. The sky is the limit as far as teaching your dog behaviors. Not all will succeed at all the performance activities or obedience itself; but all are intelligent, intelligent in their own way. Our job is to tap into that talent; and overlook exterior appearance and preconceived ideas. Don't judge a book by it's cover.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The Kuvasz is commonly used as a livestock guardian. The breed is intelligent and assertive; steadfast, loyal and devoted to whatever they call their family.
I recently heard of a street dog taking refuge on a construction site in downtown LA. One of the men on the job had made the stray a dog house and was feeding it. The skinny dog was fearful and would only stick it's head out from under safety far enough to grab food and dive back under the storage container. Who knows how long the dog had been homeless; perhaps it had never known a home to call it's own. This dog may have been born on the streets and destined to a life where everyday was a struggle for simple survival. So the dog had found a temporary home; on a construction site, not a good place for any dog.
This past weekend the nameless, medium, white and tan dog was attacked and injured beyond repair by a pack of feral dogs. The dogs had not only gone after this single canine but the humans in the area as well. Once the dust cleared and they were able to get a look at the damage; it was bad, really bad. A shelter was contacted and they arrived to find the dog in such horrific shape that they euthanized the dog immediately. Such a sad, sad story.
When feral dogs pack together; they can become very dangerous. They don't just band together and run off to lead a wonderful life in the woods. Many consist of dominant intact males making the pack an aggressive one to start with. Then living on the streets and fighting for survival creates an atypical pack; adult members coming together instead of a family that grows with the birth of a new litter each year. I remember hearing about feral dog packs when I was a child; even then I new that it was a dangerous situation.
Sadly many dogs are simply tossed out to the street. There they survive the best they can if they are not rescued by a group or good Samaritan. They tend to gravitate to one another and thus a pack is formed; an unconventional pack. Packs of feral dogs may kill cats, dogs and livestock. Many states have laws that allow farmers to shoot stray dogs on their property for this reason. And because many members of a pack may actually have been a pet at one time they may be fearless of humans and can attack; especially children. Below are several articles pertaining to feral dog packs. If you run into a pack of feral dogs; do not approach, immediately call the authorities, shelter or rescue group. The only way to stop these packs from growing is to round them up and rehabilitate them if possible.
Wildlife damage management article
National Geographic article
USA Today article
Monday, September 13, 2010
I woke up in the middle of the night remembering a particular day at the vets. As I was coming out of my dream it was playing step by step out in slow motion; it was a nightmare, but one that had come true. About 12 years ago we had just moved here to Southern California; we were in our house only 2 weeks when Tilley got an ear infection. We had a pool at the house and Tilley loved to dive in the pool; too much water in the ear and with hair and floppy ears they couldn't dry properly. Off to the vets we went; we walked, it was only about 8 blocks and it would give me a chance to have a look around the new neighborhood.
Tilley needed a good ear cleansing; I was told and the vet took her away. Apparently a vet tech then took over who brought her out back to give her an ear flush. At the time I had a bad feeling in my stomach but chalked it up to being an overprotective Mom. Left to sit alone in the examining room I could hear some turmoil going on outside my door. My vet didn't come back and all I heard from an almost hysterical voice on the other side of the door was she ran across the road. I sat waiting and waiting; until I could wait no longer. I ran out to the lobby and demanded to know what had happened. Everyone just looked at each other with dread. My blood was starting to boil; the idea that this might be Tilley was making me crazy. You really don't want to mess with my dogs, honestly. I started to scream "was it a poodle?" "was it a poodle?" Finally someone said yes and I charged out the front door frantically calling to her. We were on a very busy street at noon. I couldn't see her anywhere and my voice was already horse from screaming for her. I ran back into the building and demanded to know which way she went.
Horrible things were running through my head; I tried to think positively. I had to find Tilley; she'd only been here two weeks, she didn't even know how to get back home, or so I thought. To make a long story short; Tilley did find her way home. It truly was a miracle as we had only lived in this area for 2 weeks and we'd never walked it until this day but just like Lassie she found her way home. The vet never did come back to talk to me, no calls, no apologies. This was totally unacceptable and should never happen to anyone or any dog. Each time I drive by that vets I see the gate in the back that was meant to contain my terrified dog left open still to this day.
And now I do everything within my power to stay with my dogs. Yep; I cause a stir, many of the people who work at the vets there role their eyes. It is my responsibility to ensure my dogs safety; I cannot do that behind a door. And when my dogs are stressing; it is not a strangers arms they want wrapped around them. Strangers are anything but reassuring to a freightened dog. This fact alone needs to be consider when an owner wants to stay with their dog.
Recently I asked to stay in the room while Tilley had a blood test; the Veterinarian did not think this was a good idea. "It's a liability," he said. "What if you faint?" "I'm not going to faint; I do everything for my dogs." I stood fast and he allowed it; he brought everything into the room instead of bringing Tilley out to the back. I held her in my arms as they drew her blood and she never flinched. I was able to hold her face close to mine; letting her know that I was there with her and I was not going to let anything happen to her, not again.
What a nightmare; but a real nightmare. Never again.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Dude; you're ticking me off!
Freezing time at the exact moment of full expression is a hit and miss type of thing. I'm always looking for "the look," but often I miss it. When I've seen it but didn't capture it; I'm ticked off.
So much can be read into a canine facial expression; sometimes what we see is simply soft and angelic. Other faces are just funny; calling out for a one liner. While many "faces" are just too cute for words; the ones that stir emotion in us just at a glance. Awwwwwwwww; how cute is that face? Honestly you would swear that some dogs are just trying to be cuter than belief.
"This is disgusting;" gag looks are common.
I almost always catch the big bored yawn. Right in the middle of the shoot; yep being a photo model is one tough job.
There are the smiling faces; just happy to be.
I'm a little shy but would love you to throw my ball.
Then there are the tiny sleepy faces. These ones don't need any work to be adorable; they are just as adorable as can be all on their own.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Below is a list of links that will bring you to stories and photos of the dogs of 9/11. On this day we take the time to remember those who were lost. These were some of the dogs who worked tirelessly to help.
Dog heroes of 9/11
Video Dogs of 9/11
Flickr photo collection
Posted by Sherri at 8:30 AM
Friday, September 10, 2010
Last night I had to run to the grocery store; I must have been gone all of 20 min. On my return I got a huge greeting from my little one Jessie. Being that she is nearly blind and deaf; it is the slamming door that tips her off to my arrival. She runs to the top of the stairs; has a look around and when she sees me, comes running down the stairs crying. She continues to cry while she is frantically looking for a toy to kill. She runs into the living room; nothing, into the kitchen, nothing. Then she finally finds a toy in the family room; she's happy now. She shakes the living daylights out of it and charges around the house like..................well a Jack Russell.
While this was going on; Luke was sleeping on the couch, only 10 feet away. He wasn't in the mood to get up; too much work. It is a rare event when he doesn't come to the door; but he has his moments and this was one that he thought did not need homecoming celebration. Luke's typical greetings are big; we get the circle tail (when the tail actually goes in a large circle,) we get huffing (an open mouth, lips pulled over the teeth huffing thing,) and head pushing. He loves to rubs his head; on the side of your legs, between your legs, wherever. It's a big event; an affectionate extravaganza, but not last night. After all I'd only been out a few minutes and he did have a prime piece of real estate.
As for Tilley she had been enjoying the sun out in the yard. I could see her looking in the back window "Mom's home?" She stood there for a long while; wondering if I was really home. Was it worth going inside to see? Finally she made it through the dog door and staggered up the stairs to the door. She was excited now; her tail vibrates and she throws her head around resembling a stallion. Then she comes and sits ever so demurely in front of me awaiting her turn.
This was a lingering greeting; often I come in and walk right past the dogs. It's not good to have a big formal greeting every time. Making a big deal out of your exit and entrance each time can cause separation issues. Slipping out and slipping in a good percentage of the time is good practice. If I do come home and do the business as usual routine; everyone settles much more quickly. Of course big greeting don't always cause anxiety but it can simply by creating too much anticipation around your arrival. If you come in and act like no big deal; there is no preoccupation with your coming home, which is good to implement.
But every once in a while it is amazing to come home to such a welcoming committee. After all is there anyone else that is ever that happy to see you?
Thursday, September 9, 2010
After my workout we made our way around the park when we saw one of Luke's friends on the other side. We headed towards each other; Luke saw her and his ears assumed friend position. With his ears dropped in anticipation we watched the other dog approach. She does the same thing every time she meets Luke; she is intimidated by his presence and displays a hundred feet away. Inch by inch she dropped lower and lower until she is literally commando crawling across the field. Her eyes squinting as she gets closer. I let Luke off leash and he charges her; she drops to the ground and flips over immediately but is soon up and ripping around with Luke, a sight to behold. With her confidence growing they run like the wind; but she is ready to drop on a dime if Luke shows any macho stuff.
Timid can be a good thing; a timid dog keeps out of trouble simply by submitting. Their whole body displays their unsure feelings; which typically results in a less threatening confrontation. When in doubt submit; it's a great rule to follow and it works wonders. I've seen big dominant dogs charge another; but as soon as the other dog submits, displays fear or unsure behavior the other dog becomes neutral. Sadly; I have heard some people complain that their dog submit,; they want a more on their toes type of challenging dog. The idea that their dog cringes at a confident dog's approach is embarrassing to them. But dogs are not like humans; they tell it like it is and if they are feeling a bit lacking in the confidence department, they say so. A dog who knows when to say "I'm not comfortable," is a smart one.
We ran into another dog who was a little timid a couple of weeks ago. We were at another park as a couple of ladies approached up with a fairly new rescue dog. I immediately knew that he was not comfortable with Luke looming over his head; so I called Luke to me. We talked about the little dog; he was cute as a button. Luke was sure this dog wanted to be friends and approached slowly; the dog threw Luke a flash of his teeth backed up. Luke quickly turned his head and moved away; he did not have another interaction with the dog. The woman started to get mad at the little guy and I quickly jumped to his defense. I explained that he was just letting Luke understand how he felt and Luke got it right away.
A dog that is unsure should submit; they don't have the confidence to back up a dominant display. Most dogs that are a little timid just need time; once they have their greeting and all goes well things become much easier. They are cautious and very aware of the other dogs reactions to them; they watch every move. A dominant gesture or aggressive approach can lower them once again in submission. Dogs that are a little timid can grow confidence quickly; with positive experience on a regular basis things start looking brighter. It is extremely important to avoid bad experiences and watch your reaction should something not so great occur.
A little timid can be a smart move for a canine.