Monday, 29 March 2010

Ne'er cast a cloot till May be oot

Introducing my Granny. Who sadly died in the early 90's.
Many of us have lots of phrases that have been passed down to us from wise old ladies.
Granny Duthie - or 'Granny up a north' as we called her because she lived in Sandhaven which is about 50 miles north of Aberdeen, a long way from our Midlands home.

A few weeks ago I was on the beach with the dogs, almost warm and feeling summer on its way. Saturday the clocks sprung forwards so the weather should be getting better.
I was even thinking of putting my big coat away for its summer rest.
But it seems no one told the weather it should be getting better as tonight on the last dog walk I got snowed on AGAIN!
It reminded me of an old saying

' Ne'er cast a cloot till May be oot'

I always thought this was a Scottish saying, as many of the terms are unknown to my English friends but it seems it is an old English saying.

Anyway, to translate for those who have lost touch with the roots of their language ;D

Cloot - Can mean clod of earth or a smack round the head but in the case of this saying it means cloth
Ne'er - Never

So the first bit means Dont put away your warm clothes

Oot - out

There seems to be some confusion about what May it is - some people even say 'ne'er cast a cloot till the month of May be oot'
But the Hawthorn tree used to be called the May tree and its blooms were called 'May'
So it is likely that the May in this saying is the Hawthorn blooms rather than the month of May
Dont put away your warm clothes until the Hawthorn blooms are out

The Hawthorn blooms late April early May, but as we are further north up here in Paisley I think I will wait till the end of May before retiring the big coat.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A sneaky peak, Ive been splatting wildlife

Thought I would share my latest splat!!

In a craft shop I found this amazing leopard print felt and thought it would be fun to make a leopard splat
He was great great fun to make but very hard work.
After making the base in white fleece I then had to try and blend some colours to match the felt as close as I could

Then came the spots!!
3 Hours of felting to work in all these spots! When I shut my eyes I can still see little dots!!

I hope you think he was worth it!! I should put him up in my shop in the next day or so.
Any ideas which photograph I should use as my first one in my shop??

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Happy birthday Ben, 3 today

Today is my little boys birthday, 3 today
Or 21 if you go by the 7 dog years to one of ours.

So thats it - he is a grown up now!

Today was the Glennifer agility show.
After stupidly doing a really long nearly 4 hour walk yesterday both Ben and myself were a little stiff

He did really well tho, 3 runs, 3 clear rounds.
Unfortunately we didnt get any places as there were some super fast dogs there today but I am really happy with him.

Mia was a little angel too, offlead running and then onlead a collie charged her all snarling and reactive and she wagged her tail and went into a play bow!! WTG girl!

Then after a quick visit to the pet shop for birthday toys we headed off to the rhubarb fields that friends have been telling us about.
The dogs had a great fun run about and have been sleeping ever since
I think he had a good day

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Dog training methods - 4. Capturing

Many of the behaviours you would like to train your dog to do they already do naturally.
Capturing just means rewarding/naming the behaviour as it happens naturally. Over time your dog will begin to associate the word with the action or will begin to offer the action more.

Often this is how we toilet train a puppy, wait till they are doing the toilet outside and then praising and rewarding them for going to the toilet in the correct place.
It can also teach a really strong recall behaviour if you call your dog when they are already running back towards you full pelt.

As dogs (and people and all animals) are more likely to repeat something that has been rewarding to them if you pick the behaviour you are wanting to train - say the down - and then reward every time your dog is lying down then you will find your dog offers lying down to you more often and you can add a command word to the behaviour.

You can also use this method to teach your dog to calm down in stressful situations. If every time your dog is totally chilled you say 'calm' to them then eventually they will become calm just by you saying the word.

It is important to remember this when we are interacting with our dogs.
It is very common for people to yell 'QUIET' at dogs when they are barking, the dog does not know the word quiet but if said often enough when the dog is barking and they will eventually learn to bark when you say 'quiet'
Better to say 'quiet' when your dog is actually being quiet!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Dog training methods - 3. Targeting

Targeting is where the dog learns to interact with an object. This can be a target stick like in the video. You can then use this object to lure the dog the same way you would with a piece of food.

Many trainers prefer this to luring as it is not bribing. To be honest if you follow the steps to fade out the food lure properly I do not see a difference in the learning of a dog who follows a lure or a target.

Where luring comes into its own is the fact you can have other parts of the dogs body interact with other targets. For example the paw cross is taught with a target the dog interacts with its paw with, then the dog learns to cross its paw and finally the target is faded out.

Because the dog is not forced into position with manipulation and it has to use its mind I find dogs are much happier and more attentive with this method. They learn faster.

Also sending a dog to its bed or on to a mat is an example of target training, the dog targets its whole body onto the mat.

This is the point where training methods get a little muddled up because in the video you can see the actual training the dog to touch the target is a capturing behaviour, and later for the shy dog it is using the luring method.

I doubt any trainer uses just one method, but a mixture of many.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Dog training methods - 2. Luring

The next step for most trainers to a more hands off type of training is to lure the dog into the behaviour using some food or a toy.

Examples of this


Hold a treat in front of the dogs nose then slowly raise it above his head. As the dogs head goes up its bum should go down


Take the treat from the dogs nose slowly down between the dogs paws then sweeping forwards along the floor


Hold treat or ball out for the dog to see.

This methods is fantastic to motivate the dog, it knows what it is going to get if it does the right thing.

Some people dont like the idea of bribing their dog to work, but sometimes we need a little boost to know what the point is

When you are at a job interview do you ask what the pay is going to be or do you just do the job in the hope the pay will be worth it??

The problems with this methods can be

The dog dosent work if he dosent see the food - this is usually a trainer error, if you ONLY give the dog a treat when you lure him and then dont ever give a treat when you dont lure him then they learn pretty quick there is no point unless you have a treat

The video above explains how to prevent that happening, getting the behaviour then quickly fading out having the lure in your hand, then fading out the hand signal.

If it is already a problem then the best thing to do is for a short while always have treats on you, then if your dog does something amazing for you you can immediately whip out a fantastic reward (no point running to the kitchen - he needs to have the reward right away) then he learns that there is always a chance of a treat and so he tries harder to get that magical treat.

People also complain that the dog learns to look to you too much with this method. This does not have to be the case. With Ben teaching the weaves I lured him, but I noticed at the end of the weave he was always looking to me for his treat

Easily sorted. As he passed the last pole I chuck the treat, then after a short while I hold back with the treat, he naturally drives ahead out of the weave looking for his treat, and I chuck it. He learns to run ahead coming out of the weave

Simples :D

This is a foundation method many trainers use, often along with other methods. It is pretty fast, it makes sense to both the human and the dog, and it makes for a happy focused dog who enjoys training times.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Dog training methods - 1. Compulsive/manipulation

The more traditional methods of training a dog is by manipulation, physically putting the dog in position.
Examples of this

Push the dogs bum till he sits
Push on the dogs shoulders till he lies down
Pick up the dogs paw
Stop dog with lead
Reel dog in on lead

In the video above you can see the guy tugs down on the dogs lead to make her lie down.
This is the way many animals in the past have been trained and it does work for some animals.
It is fairly simple for the human to understand, put the animal in the position you want enough times and it will slowly learn to go into the position.

There are several problems with this method.

Firstly it is actually using punishment to train the dog, the shoving is something slightly unpleasant for the dog (I know its not like beating it) so he learns to avoid being shoved to get into the position. Often the dog can even look happy once they have figured this out and the trainer thinks they have a dog who works for no rewards and is so motivated they love to work for you.
Sorry to burst your bubble, if you train with punishments then for your dog its reward is the avoidance of the punishment, your dog is happy because he isn't getting shoved or yanked.

Also it is not natural to go where you are shoved.
Try it on someone, if you push then gently then to remain upright they push back a little. You can see in the clip even with a 'trained' dog when he is pulling on the lead she is resisting and being dragged down.
Over time you could injure growing joints with a battle to push your resisting puppy to the ground until they understand they have to go the way you are shoving.

You can get around that by teaching your dog to respond to pressure. A good way is to have your dog on the lead and stand behind them and give very slight pressure on the lead. Wait. When the dog turns to face you click and treat. The dog will learn that pressure on the lead means to go where the lead directs.

Compulsive methods are thought to work more slowly than other methods because the dog does not have to engage its brain.
A good example was my mum trying to teach Ben to give a paw.
He sat nicely, happily let her pick up his paw and then give him a treat. He just seemed v happy, crazy lady picks my foot up then gives me food. It never seemed to occur to him that he could speed up the process by lifting his foot himself.
Using a combination of methods but most of them compulsive it took aver six months for Ben to give a paw, and even then he is slow and not overly confident giving a paw.
Using different methods for Mia to give a paw took less than a minute and she is very happy to show her trick.

I am sure we all at some point use some compulsive methods, take a dogs collar, pull on the lead or something. Many dogs dont mind but it can make a dog shy to have its collar taken and other methods can use your dogs brain more and make them happier to learn and perform their trick

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Dog training methods

I love training my dogs, I think training ANYTHING is great for your dogs.

Everything we ask our dogs to do is a trick to them, sitting, coming when called, doing an agility round or dancing on their back legs - its ALL tricks to them.

There are several different ways we can train our dogs tricks

1. Compulsive/manipulation

2. Luring

3. Targeting

4. Capturing

5. Shaping

Over the next few days I would like to spend a little time going into all the methods, looking at what they mean for us and for our dogs, the pros and cons of each method and how we can combine the methods to create quite complex tricks that not only stimulate our dogs but also give our brains a workout as we have to try and out-think our dogs.

If you have any videos of you training your dogs or any methods you would like to share please post them here and I might include some in future posts.

Please remember if you would like to vote for this blog as the top dog blog (and I would love it if you would) you need to sign up for the newsletter at and in a couple of days they will ask you to vote for your top dog blog. There will be prizes not only for me but for you lot too if this blog does well in the contest

Monday, 8 March 2010

BenMcfuzzylugs is a 2010 top blog award FINALIST

2010 Dog Blog

Wow, thankyou all so much! This blog ( for those of you who read it on facebook or multiply) has made it to the final!
The first two stages were for the blog to receive enough votes from the public and then for the judges to pick the top 20

Thankyou all for voting, and the really fantastic news is that being a finalist dosent just mean $6000 of free advertising for this blog but I they will also be giving me $44,400 worth of prizes for 10 of you lot!! More of that later - I needed to make this post before I become eligible for those prizes

The next stage is a vote from all their newsletter subscribers.
The vote starts on 11th March so can I ask a huge favour
Please can you sign up for their newsletter so you can vote for me - pretty pretty please??! It only takes a second.

Thankyou all for your support to get me to this stage, BenMcfuzzyugs is 1 top 20 top dog blog!!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Clear run agility show Feb 2010

Our second and last agility club show of the year was last Sat (sorry I am a little behind with blogging)

I took Mia along too, not to run her just for the socalisation.
Lots of different dogs for her to see.
This one on the right totaly freaked her out!

In the main she was really really good, able to focus on me and do some tricks. We were able to walk past some dogs and even at one time play a game of 'walk into the venue, get a treat, walk out again' and she was really enjoying it

Unfort about the 5th time when I was coming out with her there was a guy with a GSD comming in right at us. Mia did have a reaction and the guy looked at us like we were scum! But she did calm down v quickly and was able to play 'Look at that big scary dog' game with him

Ben was a little star too
He totaly jumped off one contact but appart from that he didnt put a paw wrong, confident and (for us) pretty fast. Someone even thought we might have got a place in one of the runs but I didnt see.

It was a great day, went really quickly with all the dogs to meet, people to chat to and fab horsey things to investigate
This is totaly the best indoor venue in the world!

Some friends dogs did really great too. A few from Mias class ran.
Louis, who is reactive to strange men, managed into the venue and even had a go in the practise ring. He did have a bit of a zoomie but he had a great time!

Ellie did all the obstacles, not ness in the right order but she and Y had a great time and they were fun to watch. Blue had a great clear round and was so enjoying himself it was great to see and Buster had the fastest time, although he didnt go clear it was pretty amazing to watch his speed!! Once he gets control he will fly up the grades.

It was really great to see the mix of dogs too, I love border collies but I am a bit fed up of agility only seeming to feature them. At the show there was an amazing mixture of all breeds and of course amazing mutts.
Great to see the puppies growing up too, couple of years and they will all be stars of the show

Thankyou everyone for a great day

Friday, 5 March 2010

Needle felting, beagle, stage 10

Now the feet!!

Lots of people dont do feet but I like to add them.
Sometimes I just sculpt them on the leg but its a little easier to make each foot individually

Take a small strip of fleece and roll it fairly tightly into a ball

Carefully holding between finger and thumb felt all round to secure and begin to firm the ball

As you work one side looks a little flatter so flatten this out more by stabbing all along. Remember the fleece matts in in the direction of the needle so always stab in 90 degrees to where you want the surface to be (in this foto the needle is at the wrong angle - not easy to hold, stab and photograph)

Spend a good while stabbing all round so the foot is very firm and as smooth as possible

Repeat 3 more times so you have a little bunch of feet :D
They might not all be the exact same size. You could add more fleece to even them out. In this case I just used the two smallest for the front and the two biggest for the back

Monday, 1 March 2010

Win a painting!

Pat Elliott is doing a blog giveaway to win this lovely gorrila
heres what she says

This original watercolour will be given away to one lucky person.To be in with a
chance to win this little fella, you need to do two things only.1) Be a Follower
of this blog. (old or new, no difference)Follower Box on the right hand side of
this page.2) Leave a comment on this post.(Click comments at the bottom of this
post)Tell me what you like - or dislike - about this blog and/or my gallery
site, Pat Elliott
You have a week, before the Winner is drawn on the 8th March, 7am
GMT.Its my small way of saying "thank you" for your continued interest.Good
luckPat xx

Get over there for your chance to win

The APBC continues to challange Cesar Millans methods

The Association of Pet Behaviour Councillors has issued this statement against Cesar Millan and his methods.

The APBC are a major body in the UK, if you have a behavioural problem with your dog and are referred from your vet it will be to one of their members. As such every day they work as the last chance for aggressive dogs so they really know what they are talking about.

Like many they are concerned that the advesrsive type training Cesar Millan uses not only compromise the welfare of the dogs but they can in the long run make the dogs more aggressive as the problems are not addressed and fixed just suppressed.

I find it really sad that for many years positive trainers have been changing the face of dog training with kind and effective training and behaviour modification which does not stress the dog and is safe for everyone to practise, but with one flashy TV show dog training has been put back 20 years.

Why is it so natural to the human species to enjoy the spectacle of a man wrestling an animal to the ground?


Related Posts with Thumbnails