Saturday, 25 April 2009

alternating food and tug game as reward in dog training

Fanny Gott is a professional dog trainer in Norway. On her blog, Fanny's Clicker Blog, she lists five ways to improve training sessions. The first one, playing crate games, was completely new to me, but looked interesting.

However, I was particularly struck by the idea that I should be alternating fun tug games with food as rewards for good behaviours. Lately I've only been using food. There's a lovely video clip of a training session in which the dog is obviously having lots of fun.

The session was a little hard to concentrate on, though, because the location was so stunningly beautiful!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

great new dog cookbook aids animal hospital

Yesterday I came across a lovely new book full of healthy recipes for dogs. (Actually, it's for humans, too, and cats, ferrets, birds, lizards, turtles, rabbits, guinea pigs and rodents, but who cares about them?)

The cover of the book grabbed me immediately because it was so gorgeous. (I always judge a book by its cover!) But I've noticed the version that is to come out soon on Amazon has a less colorful design. I presume the Amazon version would have US measures and names for ingredients, as I can't think of any other reason for the difference in the editions, seeing it's brand new.

It's written by Dr Sasha Herbert, senior vet at the Lort Smith Animal Hospital, so that gives the recipes credibility. She mentions a recipe loved by Jasmine, a samoyed her family adopted from an animal shelter many years ago. She say:
Walking along the rows of cages with all those sad eyes or frantically wagging tails is one of the hardest things to do.
Yes!! Many years ago I took my class of young children to an animal shelter. It was the first time the children had seen me cry. I couldn't stay within metres of those sad, sad cages and had to wait outside for the students to come out.

So I love the fact in buying this book I'm giving money to the Animal Hospital.

The first recipe I'm going to try is a meatloaf, made of one kilo (2.2 pounds) of beef mince, two eggs, a tablespoon of tomato paste, two cups of breadcrumbs, one large carrot, grated, one cup of chopped celery, including the leaves, two tablespoons of soy sauce, one large garlic clove, chopped, and a cup of raw rice (which has to be boiled for 15 minutes and the water strained off after it has cooled).

It sounds simple. You just bake it for forty minutes at about 5 cm (two inches) deep in a baking tray. She says for the celery you can substitute fruit or vegetable pulp left over from juicing.

There are a couple of ingredients I've never given Penny - garlic, tomato, soy sauce - but I'm willing to try them because the author is an experienced vet. However, I won't be feeding this often, because Penny basically has a raw diet, and we don't usually feed her rice or bread.

I thought I might try baking a little of it for longer and producing treats for training - but it might be too crumbly, so I'll have to experiment.

This is one of the most beautifully produced dog cookbooks I've seen.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

a dog focuses on her back legs

At one of our canine freestyle sessions we learned it's important for dogs to be aware of the movement of their hind legs, so I thought we'd practise that today. Here's how I set up a ladder in the backyard:

I put the table and chairs alongside so Penny might go back rather than sideways, but the first attempt didn't work. She just turned away from the ladder. But we persevered, with me clicking for any backwards movement to the ladder and in a susprisingly sort time she got it.

I completely forgot that I've been told not to keep saying 'back' as she goes!

I added a piece of timber on the left to stop her sneaking out through the legs of the chairs and then I had the bright idea of putting a treat behind her so she'd go back faster. Silly me! What right-thinking dog would back slowly towards a nice treat when she could turn around and go quickly?

So, back to the first method...

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

dog grooming

Who is this elegant stranger? And where has Penny gone?

Yes, it's still her. Looking very aristocratic, in my opinion. We've always thought her lineage was royal, except for her mother's 'unfortunate encounter' with that canine gypsy at Macdonalds.

She's just come back from a grooming session at Yuppy Puppy in Macleod. I like going there because it's a specialised grooming shop, not part of another business, and I feel welcome to stay while she is groomed. There's a big glass window through which you can see everything, and a comfortable chair to sit and wait.

Of course, Penny's not in a very happy mood, as you might have noticed from the photo, so I thought her patience deserved to be rewarded with a new type of treat, some strange-looking thing made from goat meat.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

lunge-training for dogs

Penny and I are always ready for something new, and I'm wondering about a new training method I saw on a German blog today. It's called 'longieren' in German and my dictionary translates it as "lunge" training.

As I understand it, you put up a circle of stakes and join them with a line of tape that is lower than the dog's height. You start off by walking around the circle with the human inside and the dog outside, on a normal lead. (Maybe a dog like Penny, who's used to working off-lead, wouldn't need the lead). You reward the dog every time she as much as glances at you. So I guess it's like "heel", but they say to use a different command, because of the fact that you are doing special work. The dog is only rewarded if she is outside the ring.

Next, over a series of training sessions, you use a longer, very light lead and you move towards the centre of the circle, thus having the dog further from you. The aim would be to get rid of the lead altogether, as the dog realises rewards only come when she is outside and you are inside.

I'm a bit fuzzy on how the treats get to her. Maybe you throw them?

It looks great for training a dog to work at a distance, something Penny can do well in the kitchen or the training venue, BUT NOT IN THE PARK!!

All the information says it's great for increasing the bond between you and your dog, and for giving exercise at the same time. But it says to be careful not to let the dog over-exert herself, because she will be having lots of fun and might not notice how tired she's getting.

Eventually you could be doing hand-signals for sit, drop, reverse direction of movement, even adding in jumps or whatever your imagination offers.

On one site I read the circle could be between fifteen and thirty metres in diameter, depending on the size of the dog (and, I guess, how much exercise you want them to get in the session).Hmm... could be a problem finding a place to set it up.

I've tried searching the Net for English sites but all I find is stuff about stopping a dog from lunging at people. Maybe there is another English word. I'm certainly going to keep my eyes open for information, because it looks good.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

banknotes and dogs in funny pictures for competition

The Pet Museum has a great link to a Photoshop competition where people create a meld of a banknote and a human portrait. It's hard to explain, but if you go here you will see a great dog-human picure.

found objects as agility equipment for dogs

Because Penny and I have so much fun doing agility at K9 Kompany, I'd forgotten about collecting weave poles for home agility sessions. But yesterday I noticed this lovely pole sitting forlorn on the nature strip, just waiting to start life once again as a useful object. (Presumably it used to have a rich and satisfying career suporting an electric lamp, or maybe even a fan.)

So, I grabbed it and added it to my collection of weird weave poles.

Which reminds me to mention a wonderful group I belong to, called Darebin Freecycle. It's part of a world-wide movement called, which aims to to keep stuff out of landfill. The idea is that you give away what you don't need and ask for what you do. It sounds simple, and it is. I've given away things that are cluttering up our house and it's good to know someone is using them. As we all know, one woman's junk is another woman's treasure -as the above photo proves!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

clicker training for dogs - video

Here's a lovely clicker training video that was a finalist at the Canis film Festival, It's by Peta Clarke, an Aussie. It's called "the Rules of Love".

Jenny Pearce from A Perfect Spot training sent me the link. I've had lots of fun doing classes with Jenny, including agility, tricks and tracking. I'm hoping she'll be doing trackingagain this winter!

The Canis film festival
is designed to showcase innovative, highly–communicative, short videos on animal training. These videos help educate pet owners and professionals who work with animals—dogs, cats, horses, rats, birds, llamas, and more.

Here's a link to the winners.

By the way, did you notice the free e-book, Basic Manners for the Family Dog, on the site of the Peta Clarke video? I downloaded it and it looks good.

Monday, 6 April 2009

dogs and bears

There's an interesting show on the SBS site at the moment, about the use of Karelian Bear Dogs to manage the interaction of bears and humans in Japan. I don't know how long the show will be on the site, though. As I mentioned yesterday, you need to click on 'Watch full Episodes' and scroll down to the program you want to watch.

With humans encroaching further into bears' habitats in Japan, there is an increasing number of fatal outcomes for bears or people. This program shows how Karelian Bear dogs have been imported into Japan to help keep bears away from humans.

I have to warn you there was one very sad part of the show when a bear was given a lethal injection. I felt sad but I was struck by the atmosphere of sorrow and respect shown by the media as well as the woidlife rangers as the procedure took place.

Here's a report on the use of these dogs in the US for a similar program.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

watch an episode of Inspector Rex on your computer

After I had watched a tape of the latest episode of Inspector Rex - my favorite doggy show on tv - the announcer said viewers could watch it again if they went to the website of the SBS (Special Broadcasting Service, Australia's multicultural tv network).

I clicked on the 'Watch Full Episodes' link at the top, scrolled down the list on the right, and there it was! Tonight's episode. Now I won't have to stress each week when I'm at training and hoping the show is taping successfully.

That is, if they post Inspector Rex every week... I guess I'll have to wait till next week to find out.

dog mushing in Russia

Hackpacker is in Russia. His home is here in Melbourne, Australia, but he's on the move right now and blogging about his travels, which two days ago included a trip by dog sled.

Hackpacker included a link to a dog-sledding site and I checked out the photos, but the text is presumably in Russian. (I once spent six months studying Russian but I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't even learn enough to be sure this text is Russian.)

Hackpacker also includes a link to
the story of Nicholas Vanier, a modern day adventurer who took a team of dogs from Baikal all the way to Moscow and almost froze to death several times in Siberia.

But it's in French. (Okay, time to admit I did SIX years of French at high school and can't remember much - but that's over forty years ago, so I reckon I have an excuse this time.) However, I did find a text in English that seems to be on the same topic. Here's a site by the energy company that supported Vanier's dog expedition.

And here's a site that is highly critical of Vanier's treatment of his dogs. Which got me thinking about other dog sled events and I came across the Yukon Quest page describing the level of veterinary care dogs receive in this event.

It does seem that one man travelling eight thousand kilometres would have trouble providing this level of care.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

a dog's tragic life turns to happiness

I just watched a wonderful video clip of a dachshund, Bica, playing with a towel.

So what, I might have said - if I hadn't first read about the terrible life this little dog had led before she was dumped through the a drop-off slot at a killshelter and left to be put down, because she was no longer valuable as a breeding bitch at a puppy mill.

I had been browsing The Other End of the Leash and scrolled down to the comment describing the awful cruelty Bica endured. I was crying, but I'm glad I read to the end because otherwise I wouldn't have learned that she is now a nursing home visitor. To quote the comment (the one by Sabine), 'This little dog who’s been through hell and back is coming out of her shell as soon as she is confronted with a needy person. In our case residents of a nursing home, suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.'

I LOVED seeing the clip of Bica learningto play. I guess it's never too late. The important thing is that Bica is happy now.

dogs and YouTube and dogs with blogs

We all love putting up movies of our dogs. And we all love funny video clips.

I guess that's the statistic behind this joke I received from 'The Friday Funnies' yesterday.

"A new study from the Centers for Disease Control says that
tripping over your pets causes over 86,000 serious injuries
each year. Worse — only 30 percent of those make it to
YouTube." -Jimmy Fallon

Which reminds me of one of my all-time favorite dog jokes, a guy looking down at his worried-looking pup and saying, 'I got you so I could talk endlessly to other people about the things you do. Don't let me down.'

I've got the joke pined up above my desk so I can remember why I blog.

Friday, 3 April 2009

doggy dancing or canine freestyle?

Penny doesn't care whether you call it doggy dancing or canine freestyle, actually. But she certainly enjoys it.

And she has passed level two!

We are having fun with this new sport at Melbourne Canine Freestyle in Dandenong. Sue, the teacher, took a video of Penny's very first routine, so I hope I can post it when we go back to class and get a copy. (The human was pretty terrible but Penny was good.)

Thursday, 2 April 2009

dogs and cats still being rescued from the Victorian bushfires

Tonight at training with Penny, at K9 Kompany, I heard a lovely story. (K9 Kompany is the dog training component of Coldstream Animal Shelter.

A dog the shelter people nicknamed Happy has been reunited with his family - from Kinglake, I think. The humans have been in intensive care in the hospital but are now out, and Happy is recovering from burnt paws. I think he will have to wear his little protective boots for six weeks, or maybe it was six months.

But... here comes the amazing part... the family's cat has just been brought in to the Coldstream shelter. Thank goodness for micro chipping, which has reunited one more member of this distressed family.

Pets are still being found, nearly two months after the main fires. Some, for instance, hid down wombat holes during the fires and are just now coming out of hiding.

It is a moving experience to read through the updates from the Shelter about the ways in which they are still helping animals recover from the fires. I particularly loved the excited post on the day they trapped Stardust the cat in Marysville.