Recall Tips

c29a0c4b-7cba-4cd2-b599-d792df93f49d

Have you ever:
  • Hidden the leash behind your back at the dog park and pursued your dog until you can grab them and hook the leash up to take them home?
  • Chased your dog down the street and tackled them in the neighbors yard?
  • Opened the front door for a delivery only to have the delivery person knocked off their feet by a blur that ran by and is now running happily down the street?
  • Chased you dog and had them stop and look back at you as if they are grinning and then just as you get close they bolt again?
  • Called Come over and over again and been completely ignored?

If any of these scenarios sound familiar then these tips are for you

  • Never ever call your dog when you know that they will not come, the only thing this does is reinforce your dog for not paying attention to you and you poison the cue.
  • Do call, hook up your dog to their leash and release your dog multiple times in fun zones like the dog park before finally hooking them up to bring them home.
  • Do play hide and seek (hide and call your dog) with your dog frequently. When your dog finds you reward them heavily with both treats and praise.
  • Always reward heavily in the beginning with treats and praise. You have to make yourself interesting to your dog if you want them to pay attention to you.
  • Always reward your dog for coming even if they stick their head down 10 gopher holes on the way to you they still came.
  • Always grab their collar when they come to you.  Collar grabs are the #1 cause of dog bites so prevent this by making sure your dog makes a positive connection with a collar being grabbed equaling lots of treats.

Advertisements

Breed Matters

d05b66be-77c2-45f7-9b87-8e05815b0bb7

Several of my clients have recently tested their dogs DNA using The Wisdom Panel.  As a trainer I do see the personality and behavioral effects that different breed types have on dogs although these personality and behavioral effects do not always follow the breed 100% of the time.  For example I have seen aggressive golden retrievers, labs who hate water, and border collies who are couch potatoes.  However, since our visual accuracy is only correct 25% of the time when determining breeds in mixed breed dogs this test can be of great help to both owners and trainers. They can answer questions such as: Why does my dog nip at my kids? Why does my dog prefer to be with humans than other dogs? Why is my dog still bouncing off the ceiling after a 2 hour walk?  Why does my dog insist on bringing me gophers, squirrels, etc.?

These tests also help in determining if dog owners need to have their dogs tested for MDR1 or Multi-Drug Resistance 1. MRD1 is a genetic mutation. Some dogs, particularly herding breeds or mixed-breed dogs with herding breed ancestry have a mutation in the MDR1 gene that makes them defective in their ability to limit the absorption and distribution of many drugs. These dogs are also slower to eliminate drugs from the body that are transported by P-glycoprotein. As a result, dogs with the MDR1-mutation may have severe adverse reactions to some common drugs, so it is important to test your dog and share your results with your veterinarian.

In the end I think if taken with a grain of salt The Wisdom Panel is worth the money and should be considered by owners of mixed breed dogs.  You will build a better understanding of your dog and form a deeper connection.

Don’t Shoot the Trainer – words from me to you

Excellent words of wisdom for every dog owner.

Nancy Tanner

I think honesty and keeping expectations in check are super important with everything we do.

For example, you’re not going to go from being a couch potato to a Mt. Everest Climber in a day or a week. Period. Time, experience, gaining knowledge, mental and physical conditioning, and a new outlook count for a lot.

So let me get down to it.

The difference between a Master and a Beginner is that the Master has failed more times than the Beginner has even tried ~ anonymous

1. I am a Trainer. This means that I coach people and teach dogs, and in reality a professional observer. My job with people is not to make a new Handler ‘be me’ but rather to encourage them to be the best trainer they can be to their dog. My job with dogs is to show them how awesome learning can be from a human…

View original post 2,134 more words

Trail Magic for PCT Through Hikers

Tashi with PCT hikers

Tashi & PCT Hikers at The Town Baker

2015-05-06 09.05.09

Yukon waiting for hikers on the PCT

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is 2,650 miles long and usually takes hikers about 5 months to complete it.  Northbound hikers usually start in mid-April to early May while southbound hikers start in late June through early July.  The failure rate is high, about 50% will not complete the journey.  For those who do it is an incredible achievement with a lifetime full of memories.

May 6th, 2015 I was hiking in Wrightwood, CA with my hiking body Yukon (Shepherd Mix).  Yukon is a rescue who came from the streets where we are pretty sure he had no contact with humans, to the shelter at about one year of age, to a rescue and then to me.  When I first met him he would not come to me, he was terrified.  He refused to even walk on a leash and all my dreams of him being a hiking dog seemed to disappear.  A year later with positive training and lots of controlled socialization he has become my hiking buddy.  He gets so excited when I start putting my hiking shoes on, and if I put them on in my closet he whines at the door convinced that I might go up through the attic and escape without taking him. When it comes to attention from people he is still outside of his comfort zone when they first approach but allows people to pet him and talk to him.  Afterwards he has to pull on the leash for about 30 seconds to shake off all of the adrenaline rush he gets and then he fall back beside me.  I always watch his body language during greetings and do what is best for him.  I have him continue greetings because I never want him to become fear aggressive and he does actually like people, especially if they have treats but because of his past he is always wary.

On our hike we encountered 25+ through hikers including a hiker that we gave a ride too heading into town for food and supplies.  Yukon was the highlight for the hikers.  Many stopped and asked if they could pet him saying how much they missed their own pets at home. The hiker who hitched a ride with us scratched Yukon’s head on the ride, he was so tired from our 8 mile hike that he appeared to love the head scratching.  I have another friend that lives in the town of Idyllwild, CA which is also a haven for through hikers complete with The Town Baker that is owned and operated by former through hikers who moved to Idyllwild and started the café after completion of the PCT.  Tashi’s mom meets hikers at the post office where they pick up supplies or at the The Town Baker with her dog Tashi. Many of the hiker want to pet her missing their pets back home.  It is so heartwarming that dogs can be a part of the PCT through hikers trail magic.

Do you have a dog that loves to hike and is sociable with people? You could take them on the trails or into the towns to meet the PCT thru hikers from April through about September.  This is such a great service for both the people and the dogs.  Perhaps the PCT therapy dog team will be a future endeavor.

Good luck to all of the through hikers and enjoy the journey.

To Be A Dog!

Dogs

Ever wonder what your dog hears, smells or see?  Ever wonder why they do a certain behavior? For example when it is windy our Coonhound races around the yard with his nose in the air in pure bliss.  Often times the other dogs follow him around and appear to be looking at him as if he is crazy.  My in-law’s dog Shasta will get up on her back two legs on trails and look around.  Some dogs at dog parks will ignore all of the dogs and enjoy the company of the people.  My dog Yukon allows people to pet him but by his body language I can tell that this places him outside of his comfort zone so after he has been given attention he pulls in front of me for about 30 seconds as if to shake off the nervousness or dispel the adrenaline. (I allow controlled attention because I never want him to become fear aggressive) Our husky steals random things out of the garage such as nails and sandpaper.  I had a dog who used to have to stick his nose down every hole on walks, a habit I had to break because I just knew one time he was going to come up with a snake attached.  Our Coonhound enjoys playing dog with my husband but only my husband.  Dogs are such fascinating creatures.

So next time you are out and about or sitting in the yard with your dog watch them closely and see what you notice.  When you are out you can also get down on their level and see what they see and hear what they hear. You will be surprised.  Unfortunately, we will never be able to smell like they do so we will just have to imagine what wonderful things they smell when the wind is blowing and they have their noses towards the sky.

Keeping Children Safe Around Dogs

2015-05-05 10.05.39

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates half of all children 12 years-of-age and under have been bitten by a dog. Seventy nine percent of fatal dog attacks are on children. Over eighty seven percent of dog bite fatalities involving children occurred when the child was left unsupervised with a dog or the child wandered off to the location of the dog.  Even small breeds such as Dachshunds and Pomeranians have attacked children resulting in fatalities.

Scary statistics so let’s get real!  Often times as a canine behaviorist my private sessions with clients and dogs take place in public places.  If a dog is aggressive every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of the public through the use of a muzzle. This last weekend I was working with a German Shepherd with fear aggression issues at a public location.  Despite the fact that the dog was muzzled I had parents allowing children to approach the dog.  One was a crawling infant and the parents kept bringing the child closer and closer to crawl to the dog while we moved further and further away.  We had to tell them that the dog was not friendly and to please stop approaching us.  Then we had two little boys start to approach the dog while the mother watched.  Again, we backed up waiting for the mother to respond but to no avail.  She had to be told to stop allowing her children to pursue the dog.  The dog was wearing a highly visible muzzle, and yet the parents were allowing their children to pursue the dog.  It was mind boggling.

I have also done sessions with dogs that have never been exposed to children so they are wary of them.  This is not uncommon since many dogs are wary of infants and toddlers because they move quickly and are unpredictable and frankly they smell like food.  So you can have the friendliest dog in the world approached by a toddler and have the dog react defensively which could result in a bite.

The picture above shows my 4 year old with our dog and I took this picture to show where the mouth of a large dog comes when a toddler approaches a dog.   I don’t know about you but I don’t want my toddler approaching a dog no matter how friendly the owner says the dog is when my toddler’s face is right at bite level.

Teach your children to respect dogs and give them space. Teach your children not to corner dogs or pursue dogs.  Have them admire them from a distance.  My toddler knows most of the breeds now due to my profession and we enjoy sitting at the park watching the dogs go by as we identify them.  She loves dogs and has a healthy appreciation for them.  I know too many adults who were bitten as children by dogs and never recovered emotionally.  A dog bite to a child is deadly to the dog and if not deadly to the child will leave deep emotional scars for the rest of their life.  Please keep kids safe by teaching them to keep safe boundaries when it comes to all dogs. Together we can reduce dog bite statistics.

Snake Aversion Training WITH Shock

1424503908_11001881_855806414457687_6643357249428836949_n

I have been a loyal subscriber to The Whole Dog Journal since 2012.  Usually the articles that they print are well researched and contain great information.  Unfortunately, I was alarmed and disappointed by the article “Snake Aversion Without Shock” in the May 2015 issue. The article states how dead snakes, remote controlled snakes and snakes that are not rattlers can all be used to train your dog to avoid snakes by allowing the dog to make a choice.  I believe that the editor Nancy Kerns allowed her personal preferences to come into play with allowing this article instead of relying on the science of how dogs think and learn.  As one of my clients put it so eloquently “While humans might have a chance at taking this kind of conceptual training into the real world, dogs have so much more sensory  awareness and are wired for input for what is real, not representational.  Silly humans.”

I am a positive reinforcement trainer.  I am clicker savvy and strongly believe that in order to train our dogs we need to connect with our dogs.  We also need to understand dog body language and how dogs think and learn.  When it comes to basic obedience commands, if we communicate clearly with our dogs, understand and are aware of the distractions around us and work with those our dogs will respond to us.  I do not recommend the use of choke collars, pinch collars or shock collars for basic commands or common behavioral issues.  My only exception is when the situation could result in death to the dog and then the dog should not have the option to make the choice.  Dogs do what works and they follow instinct. If you train a dog utilizing a dead rattler with a shock collar your dog will avoid dead rattlers but the first time they see a real rattler they will engage with it.  If you teach them to leave a Python alone utilizing a shock collar they will but since rattlers smell different they will engage the rattler.  And a remote controlled snake, well let’s just say our dogs are much smarter than that!  Erik of Natural Solutions Rattlesnake Aversion Training in Southern California states “the use of non-venomous or fake snakes as “stand-ins,” is only marginally effective at best.”

The article also discussed dogs that attack rattlesnakes instead of avoiding them following shock training.  Yes, unfortunately this can occur as a result of trainers who shock dogs at the highest level instead of taking into account the needs of each individual dog and starting at a low level shock.  Again quoting Erik of Natural Solutions “* I would also like to note that all dogs “choose” the level of intensity used with the collar during our training. The level is slowly increased until the dog responds, and under most conditions will not be elevated beyond that intensity. Good timing is far more important than a strong level of correction. We do not believe in “shutting dogs down,” but instead believe in working within the dog’s individual needs.” Therefore, selecting a trainer that is knowledgeable and humane is essential to ensure that your dog is trained to avoid rattlesnakes.  Trainers are not regulated so do your homework, this is your beloved dog make sure that you hire a trainer who is qualified and humane.

Dogs should have choices in life however playing with a rattlesnake should not be one of them.  If  a rattlesnake is encountered I want my dogs to bolt away as quickly as possible and not stop to consider their options.  The only way to ensure their safety in my professional opinion is through training with a humane qualified trainer who uses shock collars and live rattlesnakes that are humanely muzzled and native to your area.