Monday, 30 November 2009

For those of you not sure about positive dog training

I know (but totally dont understand) that there are people out there who dont like the idea of positive training, they doubt the effectiveness of especially treat training.
I had heard that people use choke chains to teach dogs heelwork but I just couldnt figure out how you could really teach a dog using that method.
A quick you tube search showed me just how (and lots of other things people do to their dogs in the name of training)
If you are not convinced then have a look here.
First we have a guy training his dog with the choke chain - and when he stops he teaches the dog to sit by whacking it on the bum with the other end of the lead. Take a look at the poor dog during all this, panting, licking its lips and avoiding eye contact and when he hits her with the lead she cringes and flinches.
Not a great looking heel, not a happy looking dog - and an owner who is only looking out for the dog doing the wrong thing and punishing it for that - at no point does he praise the dog for doing the right thing.

Compare and contrast to these dogs
The position of being in heel is so rewarding to the dogs that they just love it, no matter where she walks the dogs are glued to her side, other commands are followed as fast as lightning
and for those of you who complain that treats make a dog that is too focused on the reward and has to be treated all the time - look at how much her dogs do for a tiny treat or a game of tug. They are working with her because working with her is fun and rewarding.
If I come back as a dog I hope it is to a trainer as good and kind as her

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Petition - Stop National Geographic showing Cesar Millan

In response to the post below and the many dog behaviour experts expressing great concern about Cesar Millans methods this petition has been started

Online petition - National Geographic: Stop showing Cesar Millan

I know that many people are divided on Cesar Millans methods but as the National Geographic channel is supposed to support animal welfare then I strongly believe that if there is any doubt at all that dog suffer during Cesar Millans training methods then it is their responsibility to stop broadcasting his show until it can be proved that his methods are not cruel and abusive.

Denmark has already banned his shows and Italy is in the process of banning him. If you are in any doubt then consider the evidence that a country would need to ban a high ratings TV show.
Please sign the petition and post links to it to all your dog loving friends

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Cesar Millan - Exercise
The TV 'entertainer' Cesar Millan is coming to the UK on a tour. I will not put links to the pages to get tickets because I don't want in any way to help this man.

I have been meaning to post about his methods for quite some time but this tour has given me the boost I needed

I will try and keep it nice :D

Among other more controversial methods that I will get to later Cesar Millan I wanted to talk about his fundamental philosophy for living with dogs.
Exercise, Discipline, Affection

In that order

So to start with Exercise.

It is true often on Cesars show he sees owners who never walk their dog. This is cruel and stupid - every trainer or behaviourist will tell you to exercise your dog to a level that is appropriate for the breed. This is not Cesars way - this is nothing new.


Cesar advocates exercising the dog to exhaustion - often dragging unfit or puppies around at speed - sometimes with him on his roller blades. He even recommends running perfectly fit dogs on a treadmill (there was a case brought against him when a dog at his facility was left unsupervised on a treadmill wearing a choke chain)

One major problem with this is what happens next week when two hours running do not tire out the dog because it is becoming fitter??

Also running on a treadmill or alongside someone is good for fitness but it does nothing for the mental well being of an animal

Most zoos nowadays are looking to improve the lot of their captive animals, some animals who naturally would cover long distances every day in the wild.

Do these zoos put giant mouse wheels in the enclosures? Take lions out for a run beside a bike?

No they look at enrichment strategies

Enrichment can be defined as:

“…a process for improving or enhancing animal environments and
care within the context of their inhabitants’ behavioral biology and natural
history. It is a dynamic process in which changes to structures and husbandry
practices are made with the goal of increasing behavioral choices available to
animals and drawing out their species-appropriate behaviors and abilities, thus
enhancing animal welfare (AZA/BAG 1999).

So better to think of ways to enrich your dogs environment and have moderate exercise this way your dog will be mentally and physically satisfied.

Ways to enrich a dogs environment - considering natural behaviours of a dog

Chasing - many dogs love chasing things - just make sure its things you are happy with and not cars, joggers, children on bikes. A few games of fetch and even chasing you around the park will be far more fun for both of you than hours on a treadmill - and changes of pace, twisting and turning and even eye paw coordination will all tire the dog out more.

Chewing - Not only puppies but all dogs love to chew, I love watching Ben chewing a nice knuckle bone - he is on his side with a dreamy look on his face. This is good for their teeth, gums, jaws, and even neck muscles. If you don't fancy big stinky bones think of other things for them to safely chew - chew toys, rawhide/treats, even kongs all satisfy this behaviour

Tugging - Tugging is a natural behaviour too and if your dog enjoys it and you are physically able to why not have a game of tug - just set rules like no biting, let go when I say, and stop it before they get overexcited.

Tearing - Does your dog like ripping toys to pieces?? It is natural behaviour, how about going to a charity shop and getting lots of cheep toys he can deestuff, then you can restuff, fix them up (care not to let them swallow thread) and give them back again - you could even stuff old socks with treats and let them get them (but keep your good clothes away from them)

Digging - its fun and natural. You could get a kiddys sandbox and fill it with earth, hide treats in there and teach your dog to dig there (and not in your flowerbed) or how about a big box filled with scrunched up newspaper and a few treats?

Sniffing - teach your dog to sniff out treats or even scatter a handfull of kibble in the grass and let them sniff it out.

Working with humans - Dogs are descended from the wolves who worked best with people so most dogs (with the right motivation) love to work with people, if you dont have animals to hunt or sheep to herd then you can teach tricks and that can be your dogs work, clicker training is great because it makes the dog use its mind to figure out what you want, this tires them out far more.

Sleeping - dogs like to sleep lots, give them plenty of down time where they can chill and file away all the things they have learnt for the day - it is possible to overstimulate a dog and then they become hyper and difficult to train.

Depending on the breed most dogs need between 1 - 2 hours walking a day, if you made 20 min of that fetching and chasing, played a game of tug and did some clicker work before settling the dog down with a chew then you should have a pretty content dog

I would love to hear your ideas for enriching your dogs environment

Monday, 16 November 2009

I am featured! Crafted by design

This lovely blog has featured my shop today

Also be sure to check in with her fab blog giveaway with the chance to win a great stuffed stocking of lots and lots of goodies

including this fab pendant.

Which reminds me

A few weeks ago mum and myself went to the crafts for Christmas at the SECC, and of course I have come back with a new craft!

I am going to be having a go at making resin jewelery with the fur of your beloved pet encapsulated for all time in the lovely coloured resin.

Stay tuned - hopefully I will have some examples soon!!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Does sit mean the same for you and your dog??

Dogs can be pretty bad at generalising the meaning of things
You might think you have trained your dog really well to sit but what exactly does your dog think you mean.

You like to think that 'sit' means dog still with its bum on the floor and legs straight
Its not as easy as that

Your dog might have learnt that when you are in the sitting room, with a treat in your hand, lifting the treat above its nose, when its all quiet and saying 'sit' means the dog goes from standing and puts its bum on the ground until it is told 'good boy' and given the treat then it can do what it wants

Dogs can be as specific as that

So decide EXACTLY what you want your command to mean
I want sit to mean go into the sitting position from standing, lying down or upside down. Do it from infront of me, to the side, behind or at a distance. Do it in the sitting room, kitchen, hall, outside, wherever. Do it when I say and/or give the hand signal, do it no matter what distractions, do it whether there is a treat there or not, and hold the position until I tell you to do something else.

So I have to train for ALL of these things - train in different locations with dog in different positions with different distractions.

So if your dog dosent do what you want ask yourself have you actually trained it how to do that SPECIFIC thing?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The dead walked Glasgow

Yesterday was the first ever scottish zombie walk
and it was great fun!

We think about 400 people turned up and groaned and lurched our way around Glasgow.
Some great fotos on the facebook page

and for all you trying your hardest to market things the people in charge of this spent less than £10 advertising all these people to turn up - and his great outfit.


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