Archive for August, 2010
Here’s an exchange with a person who I’ve been working with recently to get their dog ready to take the American Kennel Club‘s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test.
I’m really frustrated with where we are right now with S’s walking. As long as there are no distractions, he does fairly well. It’s something we could continue to work with. But if there are distractions, it all goes out the window. Last night he saw a squirrel within the first 100 yards and from then on he was pulling at the leash the whole time looking for the next squirrel or rabbit. I had been hoping to have a pleasant walk so I didn’t have any treats with me. But it really wouldn’t have mattered. You can get his attention with a “watch”, depending on how far away the distraction is, but as soon as you reward him for it, he’s back to the distraction.
I’m really torn. I’d like to not have to be in training mode every time we go for a walk. Plus, to really do it right, I would need a whole bag of treats and would have to eliminate a meal. But if I don’t work with him, then I feel I’m reinforcing negative actions on his part. And my arm gets tired.
Plus I have no idea how you trained your dogs not to pee or poop on walks. It takes him less than a stride to get all four feet planted and he’s almost immovable then. Any ideas?
And my response:
Not being next to you on the walk makes it hard for me to really get what’s going on. Maybe one of these nice late summer days we could do just that…? But, what you have to do is to keep up with the walking. I agree, treats aren’t really the answer. It is sort of about respect in my opinion…he believes his “work” (hunting critters – his job that he’s assigned himself in lieu of anything else to do) is more important than anything you have to tell him. So, somehow, we’ve got to get across that we have a different job in mind for him, a better one. But until he gets this, really understands this on his doggy level, he just doesn’t see the point in not doing it.
So, sometimes a harsher correction tool can help – a prong/pinch collar helps communicate in no uncertain terms that his behavior isn’t appreciated. The correction makes sense to him and is aversive enough (without being cruel) to get through to him that you want him to stop. Other options include giving him another job while on walks. That’s where a good back pack comes in handy. I recommend dog back packs from RuffWear. They make packs that I’ve seen and used and are acceptable. Fill the pack with up to 20% of S’s body weight and then go for the walk. It is amazing how this can change a dog. Plus, it’s hard to pee with a pack on.
So, try those things. However, your comment about not wanting to be in training mode with each walk is also a clue that you are losing your patience. I hope you come to accept that you kind of do need to always be in training mode when out with your dog. The training gets easier with time, but you can never just check out. It’s sort of like parenting – you’re always on, no matter how old they get. The older they get, the easier and less intensive the work is, but you still are the dad, always. So, try to find a place of acceptance with that fact. So, try to find a place of acceptance with that fact. This doesn’t mean that you have to tolerate a sore arm and a disrespectful dog, but you do have to continue training him his whole life.
Let me know if this helps.
I was sent this email from a friend who trains at my club, the Fox Valley Dog Training Club. It is helpful information and something to be aware of. Personally, I feed my dogs either Canidae or Blue Buffalo – just fyi.
Subject: Feeding Healthwise, Innova, EVO, Karma or California Natural to pets? Read this…
Ken and I just learned that in early June, Natura (makers of Healthwise, Innova, EVO, Karma and California Natural) were purchased by Proctor and Gamble. And at about the same time the plant where the foods are manufactured has been expanded. Google news only reveals 2 articles on this, so it wasn’t widely publicized.
Now there are many fine P&G products in our home right now: soaps; toothpaste; dish washing liquid; etc. But we spent a lot of time and energy selecting a dog food that we felt would meet our dogs’ nutritional demands. We’re worried that as P&G clearly plans to expand the distribution of these products, quality control may not remain intact, ingredients may suffer…or both.
If you’re happy with your food, don’t mind the change and plan to continue feeding these products, I’d watch the ingredient labels closely for changes, should fillers and chemicals start to creep in over time.
We’ve decided that we’ll either seek out another brand or cook for them ourselves.
Feel free to share the heads up with your friends feeding these products.
Here is a photo from last weekend of Boomer smiling on our bed! He smiles all the time, now. He is doing great and has reached a number of milestones! He has passed the six month age mark, the fifty pound mark and graduated in awesome fashion from his first round of puppy classes!! He is now on week four of “Puppy II” classes and doing fabulously! Everyone wants to know what breed this beautiful dog is! I say I don’t know. Everyone is fascinated and charmed with his big ears. : ) They look like Shepherd ears but I am guessing he also has some cattle dog somewhere in his genetic make up. Thank you for saving him and getting him to us. He is a treasure.
Kathy, thanks so much for the photo and update! I love his look!! He looks a lot like my dog Bella who we also think is some sort of Shepherd/Cattle dog mix. He is a lucky dude to have such dedicated pet owners. It makes me smile to see him so happy. Thanks for giving him such a great life!
We live with killers. Did you know that? Likely all of you reading this are sharing your home and possibly your beds with a known assassin. Even the sweetest among them are lethal and don’t you forget it for a second.
Today I saw first hand, the violence in action. My sweetest of all dogs, Bella is ruthless when her prey drive is in 5th gear. She has been hunting a nest of bunnies in our big yard for a week now. Well, actually, she hunted for a day and then has spent the rest of the week inside. I had hoped that the bunnies would be old enough by now to get away, but I was wrong. I heard the squeaking while I was moving large rocks. I started running while holding a rock, didn’t get far, stopped to drop the rock carefully and ran to her, the whole time yelling at the top of my lungs “LEAVE IT!!!” (which didn’t work, even for me, by the way). I thought I had saved it, it looked unharmed and wiggled in my hand, but then slowly, I saw it’s neck moving strangely and, well, I’ll save you the details. The bunny just slowly died. I stood there for some time, marveling at the beauty that goes so largely unnoticed by us – those velvety ears, the tiny nose, the beautiful fur, the perfect little face. It made me so sad, so very very sad, the waste of it, the loss of such a young life. I walked with it to the edge of the yard and gently slid it to the other side of the fence. Maybe some wild thing will eat a meal today. Maybe the life won’t be lost for nothing.
But then I realized the hypocrisy in me – I nearly rejoice when they kill chipmunks – the critters that ruin my gardens and my morning sleep – why do I have such an arbitrary view on the value of life? And as I turned to walk back to the house, Hermes joined me with a low head, sweeping tail and a smile that said clearly, “wasn’t that COOL? Dude, SO cool!” And I saw Bella in the distance, looking for more. They do what they do without all the stories in mind – they just do what they know to do – chase little furry things that move fast, but not fast enough.