Archive for the ‘recommended products’ Category
This post isn’t about puppies but it is interesting, to me at least. Did you know there is a dog food out there that is reasonably priced (actually, competitively priced) that also delivers to your home? I didn’t. It’s called Nature’s Select and I just ordered my first 50 pound bag, delivered, for $53.45 (that’s including a $5.00 discount since a friend referred me). That is a really good price and the food looks to be a really good food. I did some searching and found it in the same category as the other foods we’re feeding our dogs, Canidae and Blue Buffalo. So am I excited or what? And they were able to deliver within days of my order. AND I called at 7 am on a Monday and someone actually answered to take my order! It was Joseph, the Sales Manager, and we had a long chat about where they get the ingredients for their food (USA) where it’s manufactured (Texas) and why it’s so cheap (good business). I liked him a lot.
Anyway, I didn’t receive anything “free” for writing this post, I just feel it is a good deal and I want to share it with you all. My dogs have only been eating it for a few days now so the impact on their health is unclear. But they did finish it off immediately upon putting it into the bowls. I actually had a few bowls of the new food (Nature’s Select) and a few of the old laid out and they finished off the Nature’s Select first – so that’s a sign that this food may be a winner. We will see. I will keep you posted.
For more information about their company and the foods they offer, check out Nature’s Select Chicago. Or call them at 847-852-1700. Ask for Joseph and tell them you were referred by me, Kristin Anderson, or the CanineFostering site and get $5.00 off too! And let me know about your experiences with the food in the comments below:
Many many people have very strong feelings about the prong (or pinch) collar. I have to admit it does look like a piece of medieval torture equipment. It looks dangerous and almost violent. But it works like a dream on many many dogs.
Recently, in one of my classes I had a student who also happens to be a working veterinarian, who has a very rambunctious, very strong dog she recently adopted from rescue. She came to class with a head halti, the training device that covers the muzzle of the dog and helps to control the dog’s behavior by controlling their head, much like a bridle works for controlling a horse. While this tool is often very effective for some dogs it was not working for this dog. Her dog was lunging and jerking her all over the ring and the force of all that power was being absorbed by the dog’s neck. It was clear that she was becoming more frustrated and admitted after class that the halti wasn’t working. I suggested trying a prong but said she didn’t want to because she believed prong collars were “inhumane.” In my work as a trainer, I’ve learned that the best tool is the one that addresses the dog’s behavior problem with the least amount of force and that the owner feels comfortable and capable of working with. So, even though it was clear to me that the prong would likely work wonders, I spent time explaining ways she could make the head halti work for her and advised her to be more careful of how she worked with the halti.
The interesting thing is, I believe that she could have had success with my method of working with that tool. But it would have taken a LOT of work on her part to convey to the dog what behaviors were correct and which were not. It seems to me that a lot of dogs really just don’t understand that we’re frustrated with them when we yank them around by their leashes. It almost seems like they think it is a weird game we play. If you ever watch dogs play with each other you know how physical they are, how banging into and grabbing and jostling one another is all part of the fun. I really believe that most dogs being yanked around by their owners think that we’re having fun. To make the halti work for her in this case she had to make it crystal clear what behaviors were unwanted, and what ones were, and most importantly that this wasn’t a game but rather, work. This would take a lot of training sessions with impeccable timing and lots of attention. And frankly, most people want faster results or just don’t have the time to devote to this sort of thing.
I don’t know what her specific situation is but this week in class she reached a sort of person limit. She was clearly frustrated and the dog was confused. When the handler and dog aren’t working as a team, no learning can happen. I gently suggested she just try out a prong for the class to see if she liked the results, and she agreed.
The results were, as you’d expect, remarkable. The behavior improved immediately and the handler became more calm, more confident and better able to train the dog. The dog’s focus on the handler improved and there was more eye contact between the two and therefore more opportunities to reinforce the focus and the work. I really watched this team and challenged myself to see if the dog had just “given up” or had lost its spark and was just complying out of fear. I didn’t see that. What I did see was the same dog, just a better, more focused, more self-controlled version. The dog seemed to finally understand the purpose of the whole training thing – it was like her mind said, “OH, that’s what you’re trying to tell me!” And when the handler expressed her pleasure at the dog’s behavior , the dog responded with pleasure right back. That’s the whole point of training in my opinion – to get on the same page with our dogs so we understand each other’s role and what is expected, and we know how to meet those expectations.
Moral to this story? Be careful of dismissing any training method or tool based on a story, a belief or an opinion. Keep your mind open and your focus on exploring what works. Trust your gut, but be honest with yourself. If your way of doing something isn’t working, ask for help and try something outside your comfort zone.
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.
Today I ran my hand down Lollie‘s back and got a literal handful of loose hair. Yuck. The best thing to do when they shed like that is to get out the brush, and not any old brush, but the mother of ALL brushes – the Furminator.
I love the Furminator for many reasons and the main one is that once I furminate my dogs I don’t have to do it again for at least a week, usually more like a month. Really it is that effective. With ordinary brushes I would brush and then that night it would seem like they were still shedding just as much. Now I really see the results (gobs of hair coming out on the brush) and these results last.
So, if you haven’t explored the wonders of the Furminator, I encourage you to check it out. It is one of my all time favorite dog related tools.
Tonight I did something that I wouldn’t have thought I would ever do. I bought a Kirby vacuum (they call it a Home Maintenance System)! I got a “free” room shampoo (which really means a HARD CORE sales call) from the family who adopted our foster mama, Annie. It was a nice gesture and I had been wanting to get my area rungs cleaned. I figured, “I’m good at saying ‘no’, no problem.”
Well…the guy was funny and charming so I was really enjoying myself, not feeling at all like I was going to be buying a vacuum that costs almost as much as our recent camper purchase. Boy was I wrong. First he vacuumed our area rug with our Dyson.
Now, I believed that Dyson was a top of the line vacuum. We bought it because of how much hair and dirt the dogs just naturally bring into the house. I figured that we were set. When I saw how much DIRT and HAIR the Kirby vacuumed picked up, after our Dyson had already done the job, I was shocked. I hate carpets because they hold dirt. But area rugs are nice and cozy so I have two nice ones I use. I have often wished we had a carpet cleaner for them but I figured they were getting good and clean with our Dyson. Nope. Lately, I’d been saying to Mike that the carpets felt “slimy” and looked dirty. In fact, I was increasingly unhappy with the vacuum job he was doing (yes, my loving husband has taken on that task as his contribution to our house hold maintanence). I guess I thought it was him, being lazy. But long ago I decided to stay out of his contributions to the household. Also, have I mentioned that I really never liked my Dyson? It was so HEAVY and clunky and difficult to manage and just wrong. Anyway, the guy sold that Kirby SO HARD. Like his life depended on it! It was like watching a sporting event: he was sweating and jumping around so much I was afraid he was going to trip and fall out of our large picture window! But what really sold me was how dirty everything really was, and how clean the vacuum got it. With our son’s allergies, it seemed to me to be a good investment. So, anyway, now I own a vacuum that Mike equates to owning a Mercedes…which is sort of nice actually.
So, for all you dog lovers out there I have a proposition – if you’d like to see the Kirby in action AND get a room carpet cleaned (or up to 6 items if you’re like us and have all hard wood floors) call Brandon on his cell at (252)548-9319. Tell him you got his number from us (from Kristin and Mike) and we’ll get a free bottle of carpet cleaner. He is a funny, entertaining guy and you’ll get a nice clean room Just make sure you’ve got about 90 minutes to give it. You won’t be sorry. Just practice saying “no thank you, just clean my carpet please.” Over and over and over…and then write in and tell us your experiences!
While we were camping recently I had an insight – the “rules” for walking correctly don’t always apply. For instance, we were hiking and two of my dogs wear backpacks. They carry all the water for the group (for us and for them) and carry our lunch. They have a heavy load on their backs and need a bit of room to sway from side to side. It is frustrating and difficult to keep them close, like I usually do, because the packs keep banging into my legs, knocking both of us off balance. I tried for a spell, to keep them behind me but that was also unpleasant as they tended to drip their saliva down the backs of my legs (which is as gross as it sounds.) The solution? I hooked the leash onto the clip on the back pack (we use wonderful packs from RuffWear) and let them walk in front of me. In my opinion this is the perfect solution. They get to have all the room then need to do their “work” and I am free to walk unencumbered.
As you see, they are both working so hard they are staying pretty close by. It was a great solution to this problem. In addition, you’ll see my dog, Bella, on one of those extension leashes. Ordinarily I HATE those leashes as they are used in city walking and the dogs are usually out in front, extending the leashes to their maximum length. This is just a recipe for a whole host of problems, in my opinion. But on a hike, these leashes provide the dog with more room to explore while still being under your control. After a good long hike, you can see, they don’t really want to go that far in front anyway and if they are primarily walked close at hand, that’s where they’ll end up. So, with all things dog training, remember that rules usually need to be broken from time to time.
The important thing is to always ask yourself this question: Who is the leader here, and who is the follower?
Q: Any suggestion as to how we can work with our dog when she is sitting in our yard, and barking at others who walk pass our house?
A: Barking is self-reinforcing. That means you don’t have to do anything for the behavior to become a habit. That is why bark collars (the citronella and static shock kind) work – they give a negative correction when the bark happens, breaking the habit. But, before deciding on one of those, I like to try to train the dog to “quiet” on command. To do so, you have find a way to encourage them to bark, and name it a command name (like “speak” or “defend”). When you say that command word, knock on the wall or do what it takes to get the dog to bark. Then, after they bark 3 or 4 times, say, “QUIET” and “Watch!” As they turn toward you, give a treat. So you begin to associate “quiet” with a treat. The other thing you can try is to tell her to “leave it” as she is barking and call her to “come“. Once she is next to you, treat her and bring her inside.
Really, most dogs will bark and that is ok – it just becomes a problem when we have no off switch or if the barking becomes excessive – as can be the case for a dog who isn’t getting enough exercise or stimulation. You have to assess the situation and see what applies to you.
Here’s a note from A. & E.:
We were wondering if you had any advice in regards to barking in the crate. Scooby sleeps in his crate at night and the first 3 weeks he made it thru the night without barking. But recently he has started waking up between 2-5 AM barking. Because we live in a townhome this cannot be something that the neighbors enjoy.
Do we ignore him and hope he stops when we ignore it? Or should we be doing something else?
Barking is one of those things that can be reinforced inadvertently… you don’t think you’re reinforcing it but you are. Any attention to a bark will reinforce it – telling the dog to quiet, trying to soothe the dog and letting it out to see if it has to potty are all ways we can reinforce a dog’s barking. There are things you can do to stop the behavior – first of all make sure the dog is sufficiently exercised prior to crating – imagine how terrible it is for a dog to be confined in a space only large enough to sleep in when they are coming out of their skin with energy. And don’t assume that just because you think the dog is sufficiently exercised it is – most dogs have a much higher need for exercise than their owners realize. For most people I recommend adding a second walk to their daily 1 hour walk. If you are walking much less than this that may be the problem. If the dog is exercised, make sure you are stopping food intake early enough so the dog has a chance to eliminate prior to crating. I usually recommend the last meal of the day be the smallest and to be given around 5pm for a 10 pm bedtime. (I feed twice a day). If there is someone in the home that gets up early, that may be causing the barking – maybe that person can potty the dog and return him to his crate. There are so many possibilities you really need to think about the whole situation from the dog’s perspective to identify the cause of the barking.
But one thing is certain – dogs do what works and if barking either doesn’t work or is aversive (the reason no-bark collars work) then the behavior will stop. But the behavior must always be aversive or always not work. If it sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, the behavior will continue and be even harder to stop (think of the people who pull the bar on the slot machines for hours with little payoff – that’s intermittent reinforcement at work).
So, if the neighbors and you can take it, ignoring the behavior is a good solution. Depending on how you feel about such a product, the no-bark collars will give you the fastest results but you must be certain the dog isn’t indicating a need with the barking, otherwise it is just cruel to collar them.
I wish you luck!
Let me know how it turns out.