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20 July 2010 @ 07:40 pm
Hello all.

I'm looking for help about a territorial dog? Problem is, he isn't my dog. I'm a dogwalker and I walk a few dogs every week and none of them have been anything but lovely, however I've recently been hired ot walk a German Shepard and a whippet in my area and the German Sheppard is quite, um, growly. The whippet is lovely, but the Sheppard doesn't seem to like me at most times, but will allow me to stroke him on occasion.

I've spoken to the owner and she says that it will die down eventually, but is there anything I can do to get him to like me/not look at me like he is going to eat me? He is a little snappy as well as growly and it is quite scary to have a sudden German Sheppard with his head in the small of your back growling.

I'm not that tall, or muscular, so if he really did have a try at me he could probably do some damage. He hasn't a history of biting, and is lovely when the owner is around, so I'm not sure exactly what to do. Sorry if I've waffled a bit, please comment if you think you can help.

TL:DR - Dogwalker needs to gain trust of scary German Sheppard.
02 June 2010 @ 07:39 pm
Anyone have a good link or website that details NILIF without mentioning pack/rank/dominance/being "in control" garbage? I'm looking for a simple "how-to" guide, not something that uses big words or goes too in-depth or is simply discussing theory.

28 May 2010 @ 04:13 pm
 I've just got this from a friend and thought you would enjoy it too. The thing is a promo video made by one of the nearby dog schools. You might want to "steal" some of the tricks shown :)

Click and Enjoy!
27 May 2010 @ 09:56 pm
You're walking through the park with your dog. Someone stops you and asks how the training business is going. This person and their dog look familiar, but for the life of you you cannot remember the person's name, the dog's name, or even whether they went through one of your classes or was a one-on-one consult.

Current Mood: embarrassedembarrassed
27 May 2010 @ 08:22 pm
A former puppy client called me tonight to discuss her 7 month old Lab/poodle's recent destructive behavior. As she was giving me the background information as well as what they are currently trying I found myself very impressed.

Both owners work, but most of the days they have a dogsitter come in 2 hours after they leave. The dog is taken out for 2-3 hours before being returned home and the owners arrive only 1-2 hours after that. The longest the dog is home alone is 3 hours.

Once the destructive behavior began they started waking up 45 minutes earlier to take him outside and run him around for 45 minutes before heading to work. Most people you suggest this to look at you like you just sprouted a second head. And being teachers, I'm sure their day already starts really early anyhow.

This past weekend they bought a crate since he's completely eaten through the couch. They even took him into the store to make sure they got the right size. *And*, although they purchased it on Sunday, they haven't been tempted to just throw him in there yet. They are leaving it open and tossing in toys and treats throughout the day. While talking with the owner I found out she's not even expecting to be able to use it yet for another two weeks. This is so different from most people who think after just a day or two the dog should be good to go (for 8 hours). She's even concerned about eventually leaving him in there for 2 hours and asked if that was animal abuse and not something she should be doing (once he's already happy being in there).

From our conversation it seems like they are right on track and doing almost everything I would suggest. I was very impressed that she was trying to read as much as she could on what to do and didn't give excuses why she couldn't do this or that.

It's really nice to see clients who will go the extra mile for their dog and not look for the quick/cheap fix.
25 May 2010 @ 03:49 pm
Newsweek has come out with a cover story about the sort of quackery that Oprah Winfrey plugs on her show. You may recall that Cesar Milan got his "big break" via Oprah. The Newsweek article (also glossed by the Committee for Sceptical Inquiry here) doesn't mention Milan (or Dr. Phil, for that matter), as the focus is on medical treatments rather than behavioural science, but it does quite effectively point out that just because someone on Oprah says it, doesn't mean you should believe it.

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14 May 2010 @ 12:41 pm

Last night a few minutes after laying down to go to sleep, our dog, Joe whined. Sometimes he whines to get my husband to come out of the bedroom, so I went to check and make sure nothing was wrong with him. He was laying on one side of his bed and the treat my husband had given him was on the other side. I knelt down next to his bed to make sure everything was ok and he turned so he was facing his treat. I reached with my left hand to take the treat, and he snapped at me. I used my right hand to push him away from the treat and my hand and he turned and bit my right hand twice. He never growled or snarled through this, just started whining/yelping during the confusion when he bit my right hand. I was yelling after he snapped at my left hand. My husband came out and we took away his kong and two plushies, as well as the treat he'd snapped at me over. Then we went to bed and decided that the rules would go back into place.

Background: We adopted Joe in May 2007 when he was just under five years old from the Humane Society. Supposedly he was a farm dog before we got him. He came to us with pretty bad food/resource guarding. In our inexperience we used some dominance theory on him but only for a few months before switching to reward-based training. For the most part, we're fairly strict with him. He tends to hoard his toys in his bed, and when he gets enough of them in there, guards his bed area whenever someone walks past it (even the cat), so we restrict the number of toys he's allowed to have at any given time and usually put them away when he's not playing with them. He sits at the entrance of carpeted rooms and waits to be invited in. He gets fed once in the morning and once at night, after we eat. He is not allowed on the furniture. He has to do some simple trick (sit, stay, kennel) before getting a treat.

Since my husband got back from his last deployment a couple weeks ago, we've been very lax about these rules. He goes into the man room as he pleases while we're in there, my husband invites him up on the couch, we've been giving him the entirety of his food in the morning and he eats it throughout the day (mostly he eats it when we're in the kitchen preparing our meals), and my husband has been giving him treats several times a day just because. We allowed him to have three toys in his bed constantly. I'm not trying to insinuate that any of these had something to do with the bite, but I want to give as much information as possible.

So last night after the bite we decided to put the rules we'd let slide back in place. We think he's a bit of a beta dog, and this isn't the first time he's asserted himself to us. They are few and far between, but last year he snarled and snapped at my husband when he reached in his crate to take out some toys. We removed him from the crate, closed it and my husband sat on it. We randomly to that to his bed, also (he's not crated in our new house) when he shows signs of guarding it.

Today Joe is being very deferential to me. When I walked out of the bedroom this morning he kept his head and tail down and wouldn't make eye contact with me.

With the information given, what would you do? Would you do anything different than I did? Is there some everyday change we need to make? We know that he needs a "safe space" in the house and that is his bed and was his crate, but we also want him to know that we're in charge and everything is ours, we just let him use it. We want him to be a happy pup which can't happen if he's constantly guarding his stuff and getting in trouble for it.

(Also, should I get my finger looked at?)

Looking forward to some answers and opinions.

x-posted to dogsintraining
11 May 2010 @ 09:08 pm
1. The entire family, dogs included, currently live with my mother.
2. My mother's beagles are senior citizens and would rather chew off their own legs than run away through an open gate and maybe miss dinner -- assuming they're conscious in the first place.
3. My beagle on the other hand is young (5) and adventuresome -- and in addition to all her beagley-running-about deafness has a mild case of Chinese Beagle Syndrome (similar to Down's Syndrome in humans).
4. My mother is apparently going senile to the point that she cannot always remember to put my beagle on a "stay" (which my beagle does rather well) when she opens the gate to the backyard.
5. My moterh is also apparently senile enough to forget to shut, much less latch same gate.
6. My beagle has taken off twice in the last week -- while I am at work, no less.

So I am going to take a page from Victoria Stillwell, find my whistle, cook up some chicken, and work on Bridey Beagle's recall -- rewarding with chicken when she comes to the whistle, which, of course, I will "charge" beforehand. I also have a 15-foot lead and I know how to use it.

If anyone has any helpful hints, Bridey and I are all ears.
19 April 2010 @ 11:47 pm
One of my fellow trainers at Canine U invited me to come clicker train horses with her!  Her own horse (Sunny) is extensively trained with only positive reinforcement -- I've seen him work before, and he is AMAZING.  I grew up riding horses with my Grandma, all trained with old-fashioned methods -- compulsion and restraint, no reward of any kind -- and it is so cool to see what is possible with a horse when you use methods that encourage curiosity, creativity, and relationship.

Anyway, when she asked if anyone wanted to help her with two extra horses she was looking after for a few weeks, I jumped at the chance!  In the videos you'll see me working with Jasmine, who has never really done any clicker work before.  In fact, she's known for running away from people and avoiding being caught if she's loose in a pasture or the arena. She was very calm, which made her good for a novice horse-clicker like me :). I used mostly baby carrots for treats, bitten into smaller pieces.  We also used some vanilla horse-cookies, apple pieces, and granola bars (honey graham). The other person in the video is my almost-5yo son, Julian.  This was his first time around horses, ever.

1st vid -- our first work together, ever.  I rewarded her for following me, and as we worked, for turning with me and altering speed to match me.
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2nd vid -- working on targeting. At first I delivered the treat on the ball to emphasize the correct location. As we progressed, I would move her away and back towards the ball to make sure she understood it was the ball (and not just dipping her head, etc.)
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I also worked with Max -- camera died, so no vid there.  Jenny had already done some work with him.  He was much pushier and likes to knock people with his head! Jenny coached me on how to reward him for respecting space, and then I worked with him on the pedestal. I got him to put two feet up on it -- a breakthrough for him!