2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Inspiration and Vapidity

Well, it seems the ability to post anything on schedule is eluding me (I blame washing machines, autumn, canine ear issues (again!) and suchlike).  Here is my latest post, and I will continue to post as-and-when, hopefully making it easier and less stressful on me, and providing better blog posts for you.


The disparity of people amazes me.  On the one hand, you have people willing to give up their puppy for performing perfectly normal doggy behaviour (nipping and house-soiling spring to mind); but then you have people who will live with their dog with one or more serious behaviour problems for years and years without blinking an eye (or, sadly, trying to help the poor dog).  It’s a shame, because with a little bit of public education people in both camps could be helped so much: either to understand normal dog behaviours (or to understand that normal dog behaviours aren’t their “thing”); or to understand how to prevent problems from occurring, and what to do or who to contact if they do.

Sadly, it seems that the public are educated more by TV “entertainment” shows, old wives’ tales, and general misunderstanding than they ever will be by actual facts and figures.

Perhaps this is linked to the huge interest in vapid “celebrities”.  “Normal” people like to believe whatever supposed “secrets” a self-important, attention-hungry, money-grabbing person chooses to “share” with them, and them alone (ha!), or perhaps it’s not; either way it seems to me that the vast majority of people need to get their heads away from the TV’s, newspapers, and magazines that these “celebrities” seem to adore complaining about inhabiting, and go and learn actual facts, from people who have not only proved their knowledge, but continue to expand upon what they – and we – know.

As humans we follow the “monkey-see-monkey-do” approach to learning, and while that isn’t the only way we learn (thankfully!) it does worry me that the majority of the “monkeys” that are publicly available to “copy” are often not good role models for having a thirst for knowledge & facts, and having an open & enquiring mind, for instance.

We all need to find people (and sometimes animals) in this world who inspire us to go out and learn; rather than people who inspire little but a desire to listen to them, and only them.

I haven’t been one to “drink the Kool-aid” for a long time, and it saddens me when I see people that do.

I know who inspires me, but who inspires you, and more importantly how and why?



Things I Dislike…

Due to a number of things, I’m not in the best of moods this week, so I thought I’d stick with it and write about a few things I don’t like.

I’m loathe to say “hate”, because it’s such a strong word, reserved for very, very, amazingly dislike-able things that are terrible & horrible and such; and much as I dislike these, I don’t know that I truly hate any of them…

“Training collars” of any sort. There’s just no need, not to mention that any problem that makes someone consider one of these devices is usually exacerbated by the choice to use any one of them.

Training collar

Training collar

Dogs off lead by roads. Aside from this being illegal in the UK it’s also stupid and dangerous – anyone could run off with your dog, or he could get startled by something and run into the road.

Flexi-leads. Aside from a few small number of times that use of a flexi might be a good idea (i.e. in lieu of a long line), most of the time it’s not. Especially when the dog is given free reign over how much lead she has on a road-walk. It’s sort of like having your dog off-lead (like above), but with the added “excitement” that if she runs into the road – you’re going along for the ride. Extreme dog walking!

You're going, whether you want to or not...

You’re going, whether you want to or not…

“No-pull” harnesses that constrict. It’s like a choke chain for the rib cage, not to mention the main “no-pull” section is usually just a thick string/thin rope, which chafes when it runs past armpits, and scrunches and catches skin on the dog’s ribs and back.

Dogs off lead with no recall/verbal control on the part of the owner. Another theft risk, not to mention your dog is at risk of running up to on-lead dogs who would rather not have a small yappy dog in their face (or, well, under their paws) or any size over exuberant/reactive dog in their face. Seriously, if your dog won’t recall from certain distractions and/or in certain situations, be a responsible owner and keep him on lead when faced with those distractions or situations. (Thank you to those of you who are responsible by the way).

People who think all dogs love them. Just no.

People who think they’re entitled to do what they want to strange dogs. One day, you will get bitten, and – even though you won’t admit it – it will be your fault. You will, potentially, kill a completely innocent dog, and you will not learn a single thing from that situation; either that not all dogs love you, or that you can’t and shouldn’t do whatever you want to any dog you see.

People who berate/tell off/shout at their dogs. Seriously, not only does this affect your dog, but it affects mine too; it’s also neither big nor clever – you look like a jerk. Just stop it.

Shouting.  There's just no need.

Shouting. There’s just no need.

People who want to “show off” their dog’s “training” to you, making you want the ground to open up and swallow you whole. This is so embarrassing on so many levels. Especially when someone’s proud of say…their dog’s “leave it”, but the dog is only leaving the thing because: a) it’s a boring piece of biscuit; b) it’s not moving; c) you’ve told them to leave it one thousand times in the same way some high-ranking army person might bark orders at the new recruits. Not cool.

Slip leads.  While slip leads do have their uses, I don’t believe one of those uses is on your dog’s daily walk.  Slip leads are for moving dogs around in the vet clinic, for catching strays, and for emergencies.  Not for everyday life.

People who use the excuse that “not all dogs learn the same” to train with pain, fear, force, and/or intimidation. They are right, not all dogs learn through the same methods. If I try too much shaping with Inka I can hands-down happily make a £100 bet that he will at some point fixate on some small thing I’ve clicked and work around that, not moving on from it and getting more and more wound up that I’m not clicking his “right behaviour”. Starr, on the other hand, is a shaping wonder! I don’t get to shape with her as often as I’d like (that’s a whole other post!), but the last time we shaped together, we were playing with a shoulder-height box. It didn’t take her long to be reaching her head into it, putting her front paws on it and circle it (with help, but not all that much), and also jump on top of it. What does this tell me? Starr enjoys thinking for herself and enjoys figuring things out; shaping is fun for her. Inka has been berated for thinking on his own (not by me, I hasten to add), and that stresses him out; we can shape, but it’s easier for him if I lure, and then fade it to ensure I’m not bribing him. Not once did I ever think about using forceful methods to train Inka – why would I?

What about you, what do you dislike when it comes to dogs?

What a brilliant post, I never thought of the impact of the DDA upon a young child who’s dog has been taken away, but I don’t think it will be much different to what’s written here…


So… in the current economic climate £1.3M a year of your hard-earned tax money is spent every year on housing seized dogs that have done no harm but simply look like pit bulls according some whacked idea of what a pit bull looks like and a rough assessment by an un-trained police officer. IN LONDON ALONE. This is just the housing cost; it’s not the prosecution costs for those cases where families refuse to just meekly agree to the destruction of their beloved pet; it’s not the vet fees for those cases where people do, and not the police man-hours wasted bothering these people and writing up reams of reports and whatever back at the station, when they could be out on the the streets. It also doesn’t cover the money spent on actually dealing with dogs of any breed, or dog owners, that have actually done something untoward.


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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Do you feed kibble, tins, pouches, or other commercially prepared food?

No, I’m not here you tell you your choice of food for your dog(s) is wrong; but I do want to find out a little about what you feed your dog(s) and why.

For the course I’m studying with the Animal Care College, we have a special study, and this is mine.  If you live in the UK, and if all, or part, of your dogs diet is commercially prepared (as opposed to raw, prey model, etc) I would appreciate if you would take a few moments to fill out this survey.

If you have more than one dog, you can fill out the survey more than once; and as a thank you five respondents who enter their email address will be chosen at random to win a handmade fleece tug toy.

Dogs and Dreaming

I was Tweeting a friend a few weeks ago who’s recently brought her first puppy home.   She had commented on how much the puppy was sleeping, so I responded to the effect that even as an adult she could still need a lot of sleep.   On her next response, she commented that the puppy was now scooting her way around her bed – still asleep!

That made me think – we all know (or at least we think we know!) that dogs dream, and we all know that dogs can do anything from twitch their toes to get up and run while (potentially) dreaming.  One thing I’ve noticed with Inka is that his dreaming seems to be intensifying over time, what started as a momentary toe or lip twitch, turned into a few seconds of facial movement along with full paw twitches of at least two paws, and that has now progressed to full muscle movements in his lower limbs, often with paw, lip, and ear twitches too.

This has set me to thinking – do ‘damaged’ dogs dream?  Or is it something only a ‘happy’ or ‘undamaged’ dog will do?   Or do ‘damaged’ dogs have nightmares, whereas other dogs have good dreams.

I wonder how we could find out…

A Quick Interlude…

So my partner & I have just picked up the keys for our new house, that means we are going to be very busy!  In the meantime, I’ve not forgotten about my blog, I have a post brewing about aversive training tools/methods (as promised) & also one about the “Don’t Cook Your Dog” Campaign, which should be posted within the next few days.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend!