Relationships

After a hectic weekend of surprise sunshine, broken washing machines & the ensuing panic this week’s (fortnight’s?) blog post is a little late.  It’s either proof I shouldn’t work to a schedule, or proof I need to be more organised!

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“Instead of measuring a relationship with an animal by it’s “cheapness”, it should be measured instead by the amount of trust the animal holds”

People often say that training a dog using food and/or toys as reinforcers can and does “cheapen” the bond of a human-animal team.  What these people don’t realise is that there isn’t a team without some form of reinforcement for each potential member of that team.

Perhaps this makes more sense to me because I have ‘special’ dogs, who need someone in their life they can trust after a hard start; perhaps it makes sense to me because I’m interested in training my dogs in the quickest, most efficient, and least stressful way; or perhaps most people don’t really stop to think about this sort of thing (if that’s you, I think you should!).

I think the thing many people fail to realise is that dogs don’t actually come with a built-in desire to please humans – and let’s face it, not many humans do either!  Dogs are only “in it” for themselves, so if you can’t make it worth their while to do what you want, they’ll happily find something better to do.

Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, ...

Would this be your dog?

Of course, there are a few options to choose from, but it boils down to two points: you can force your dog in to complying with your request; or you can show your dog that it’s worth his while to listen to you and do as you ask.

Yes, we know that whichever way you choose, your dog will be more likely to do as you ask but why use methods which intimidate, oppress, and diminish both the spirit of one half of your team, and the bond which holds your team together?

Why not use methods to build up your canine teammate, and strengthen your bond with each other, turning “working” with you, into “playing” with you?

After all, the only one who can show you the value of your “work” is your dog – so why not help him to see that value…?

Summer Break

We’ve enjoyed a break from blogging over the summer, but now we’re ready to get back to it!

We’ve done a little bit of training, mostly with Starr on her impulse control, which enables me to take photos like this one:

20130901-053830 PM.jpgWe’ve taken lots of walks, many of them at the beach when it’s been warm, and some of them just later on in the evening, which is especially nice on weekend evenings, or when I’m off work.

20130901-054147 PM.jpgStarr has been put on behavioural medication by our vet, and has vastly improved in many areas with very little prodding on my end which says to me that the training I was doing, was getting through, and now she’s able to implement it.

20130901-054204 PM.jpgI didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped over my break (isn’t that always the case?!), so I’ve decided to change from weekly to fortnightly blogging, and posting on a Monday rather than a Thursday.  If nothing else, it means I have all week to share a new blog post, whereas I’m usually too busy over the weekend to be going on social media a lot.

Blogging every other week should also mean I can keep the quality of the posts, without sacrificing time for other things, such as the Recallers run-through that the R4 group are doing, starting from this week at “turtle speed”.

I’m also tempted by the recent Puppy Peaks videos, to consider taking that when it becomes available, but that means I need more time for my dogs and my computer-based “dog training” too.

I’m also considering the Training Levels too, definitely for Inka (who’s beginning to loose his manners), and also for Starr while she decides if she wants to attend classes and such.

So yes – overall, good summer, not enough of it, and trying to share my time and myself better!  I hope you all enjoyed your summer (or winter, in the southern hemisphere!)

 

Summer Time and the Weather is HOT!

We in the UK have been lucky enough to have some really lovely weather this past fortnight or so.

We’re quite lucky, living where we do there’s easy access to a lot of water – the sea is only a 5 minute drive away (although we go a little further to stay away from the crowds); and the nearest lake is only about 20 minutes away.

Obviously, when we go, we go later on in the evening so it’s cooler; but what can we do at home to keep our dogs cool – especially for those of us who aren’t lucky to live close to a body of water?

Luckily the below infographic was shared with me by TheUncommonDog.com, and I thought it’s worth passing around.

Some other things you can do to help keep your dog cool include: –

  • stuff and freeze a food carrier toy, such as a Kong, Orbee, or Tux, giving it to your dog when it’s frozen will help to cool them down, and give them a ‘mental workout’, meaning they won’t need as much physical exercise
  • walk your dog when it’s cool out, this is easier said than done – it’s already pretty warm in the mornings when I get up, and it’s still very close to, if not over, 20’C around 9pm
  • train your dog, on the days when it’s far too hot to go for a walk, doing some training at home will help your dog to use up some of their excess energy, and you don’t even have to train anything “fancy” – sits, downs, stays, and waits will have the same effect as leg weaves and other “tricks”
  • if you really must take your dog out in the heat, invest in a cool coat – there are a number of varieties available, from sun-reflecting material to various ones which you soak in cool water and wring out before use; Inka has one and it’s wonderful for him when we need to use it.

What about you – what do you do to help keep your dog cool in the heat?

NB: I have received no compensation from TheUncommonDog.com for writing this post and sharing their infographic, beside the knowledge that I’m helping other pet owners to be more aware of their furry family member’s needs in the heat.

Be Your Dog’s Advocate This Summer

It’s officially summer time.  That wonderful time of year when we in the UK hope we will have long, warm, sunny days.

We daydream of walks at local beaches and lakes, or on hills and fells; we think of all the things we could do at the weekend: go to a local beauty spot, visit a nearby picturesque tourist town, take a day trip to an ancient wonder, sit in the beer garden of a local pub.

Many of us – when weather allows – will follow through with these plans; those of us with family dogs may also take them along for the trip when we’re going somewhere that welcomes them, sometimes a dog may be taken for a trip even when he’s going to be sitting in the car as the destination doesn’t allow pets.

But, wait – have you considered whether your dog would want to go?

When we have summer days out, we make a distinction: we either take Inka & Starr and go somewhere they’ll be happy going to (a quiet beach, a lake with a little used area, or similar); or we leave them at home and go somewhere they they are less likely to enjoy.

Sure, I’d love to be able to take them both to Keswick, or to local agricultural shows or fun days where I could enter them in the requisite dog show, and plenty of other places too; but knowing my dogs, I know that – at least for now – they wouldn’t enjoy that kind of atmosphere.  People everywhere, lots of noises, children who are neither trained nor leashed, and dogs who are leashed but often untrained are just some of the things we’d face.

Days out are supposed to be fun, and I know they wouldn’t enjoy that, just as I wouldn’t enjoy fending them off.

Yes, I could use it as a teaching opportunity for people who insist on doing “The Wrong Thing(s)” with other people’s dogs but why subject us all to that stress?  When I’m out with my dogs, I want to devote my time to them – not to ensuring the guy who “all dogs love” doesn’t put his clammy paws all over my obviously anxious dog(s); and I want us to have fun.  Running around a field is fun, running a gauntlet of people who are mostly clueless about dogs is not.

I love my dogs, and I show them that by sometimes leaving them home, even if I’d much rather take them with me and let them in on the fun. After all, who has fun when they’re worried, stressed, or anxious?

Starr enticing Inka to play at home, in her own special way…