Quality over Quantity in Dog Training

When it comes to dog training it is all about quality over quantity. Meaning, it is better to have a few really good sessions or interactions, rather than many negative or neutral interactions.

Lots of people I work with have dogs with reactivity issues be that to dog over fear or aggression, or towards people in the same way. Either way many owners can think it is very important to keep forcing their dogs into situations the dogs are not comfortable in, as well as likely to react in. This forcing leads to more situations of reactions, reinforcing the reaction behaviour as the one to get rid of the scary thing, or get the dogs removed from the scary situation. It becomes cycle of reinforcing the wrong thing.

I think it is far more important, for some dogs, to have more sessions of good quality interactions, which might be only 2-3 meets with one other dog in a good way. Rather than seeing 20 dogs and reacting at all of them, leaving everyone involved stressed!

Basically I see it like this:

pos-neg 1.jpg

Each dog has memories they can pull on in a situation in order to pick the right reaction. I see each dogs memories of interactions like above, some positive good ones where good things have happened. Many neutral ones, where nothing really has happened, and quite a few negative ones where something bad has happened.

When in training I feel like some dogs have the negative memories, join with the neutral to over shadow the positive ones.

Picture1.jpg

This ganging up on the positive memories leave the dog being reactive, even though they have had some good meetings with dogs or people.
It’s easy to have leads of neutral meetings when on walks, you can have hundreds where your dog doesn’t react and you walk on by, but one negative one tips the scale. This can undo months of training as your dog isn’t learning to pull on those positive memories, and see reacting isn’t the only option.

What we need to achieve is this:

Picture2

This result comes with more positive interactions over time, quality interactions where a dog fearful dog meets a calm dog on several occasions, full of rewards and fun. Where a dog aggressive dog meets people who won’t make eye contact and hand him treats. These interactions might only be minutes long, but the buzz they give the dog in terms of happiness last a life time. Emotions have such a strong link to both us, and our dogs it would be daft to assume a dog didn’t learn from their emotions, and learn from the more positive ones better.

You’ll never get rid of the negative interactions,  but you can make them less major to the dogs life. Drowning them out with positive interactions that last a lifetime.

So when I suggest to a dog owner its actually ok to avoid other dogs on walks when its busy, or your having a bad day, and aren’t in the mood for training. I do because I would rather you went out for a walk where you saw only a few good things, and very little or none bad things. I would rather you held off on a walk one day, to avoid big negative things, then push it because you think your dog will suffer missing one walk. Your dog will suffer more from the trauma of the event.

This suggestion of holding off, and avoiding some things isn’t forever. You can’t avoid life. But if you can work steadily and fill your dogs, and your own memory bank with good experiences then you can start to hit those areas with the things that used to set your dog off. This premise applies to you as well, you will learn to trigger at your dogs triggers, and panic. The more good things that happen with you as an owner, the more positive you feel about your dog. I see it all the time with owners, empowered to learn from their dogs and take life in their stride.

This is also one of the reasons to keep in touch and work with a behaviourists over time, not just assume one session is enough. It is important to ask for help to set up scenarios if needed, and get help as your dogs learning and reactions change.  Behaviour modification is not an easy thing, and the plan put into action is fluid as the dog changes, it is very important to re-assess it a you go, changing your goals and criteria of what will set your dog off on a reaction.

This is sort of a brief explanation of the subject to get into peoples head the idea that, yes it is ok to avoid some things and seek out good things for your dog. My top tip of it all is to make this rewarding for the dog, go over the top crazy when they do things right, not wrong or you ignore so the dog doesn’t get anything for it.

Kathryn Jones FdSc AAB
Clever Fox Canine Training and Behaviour
A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour
http://www.cleverfoxcanine.com

15 Minute Wonder Dog Training

So many people try to set hours aside for training, spending too much time on long classes or one to one training hoping this will solve the problems their having. (Yes one to one training isn’t the be all and end all of dog training! And yes I am going to give you other ideas to work on away from the dog trainer).

Putting too much work in, can reap the same results as putting in too little. A dog who is confused, unsure and doing it’s own thing.

If your doing intense training for more than 15 minutes stop! It’s too much for you and your dog.

Training for long periods of time, more often than not, end up being a hindrance to your over all goal. So many people think they have to implement some sort of training time into their day as a block, trying to teach a brand new behaviour in one go and get frustrated when things start right, then all go to pot. Then they decide to finish the session on a “Win” which is rewarding an easy behaviour.  NO. You have basically just taught your dog to get frustrated and only focus on what it can do, not try to learn new things.

Training should be a fluid part of your day with your dog, practising intense training in short bursts during the day. Dog’s are context specific and can learn to do certain behaviour, only only certain places. Which is why many dogs are perfection at training classes and crap at home or on walks. Training at home or at the park is fine, but training can be all for nothing if your dog won’t listen when it counts, like in the car, at a cafe or other people’s houses.

If you want your dog to listen on walks, then they need to listen without distractions first, and then when there are distractions. It’s all building blocks to the main goal. Building up that concentration on you. Rewarding attention, and inviting it in short bursts will help out and about, it teaches your dog to interact with you any time, not just at the park or in the house, or when on a lead. So many owners attempt to force attention, when it should be something all dogs do naturally. Over training is a reason dogs loose focus on their owners and learning, as they get bored, just like us. If short training sessions are rewarded, and the attention is always on you then the attention is going to come to you, not the environment when out.

Training should be part of your day in short bursts, no more than a few minutes long.

  • Washing the pots? Get that sit stay on track.
  • Need to clean the car? Practice the settle in it.
  • Neighbours walking their dog?  Follow behind them practising focus training.
  • Going to a friends house? Recall training in a strange house.

Add into your life what you want, but add it in non the less. What ever you want to work on or what ever opportunities appear use them.

Also don’t forget about what your dog wants from life, yes training can be fun but forcing it is not, and can lead to a dog trying to get away from you, or less learning. Do the training in the garden, and then let them play! Let them romp about and throw a toy, do something they love to do as well. Finished washing the dishes, blow some bubbles for them to chase as their reward for sit staying.

Even better after training get them to have a nap or sleep session (Especially important for puppies!)

The basic message is that you can and should be training everywhere, working on everything with your dog. In a fun and relaxed manner where you achieve your goals easily, rather than forcing yourself and your dog, and ended up failing. It is also a reminder that the excuse “I haven’t got time to train my dog” is a null point, you have time to be on facebook or read this, then you have time to train your dog. Too many people give me that excuse and I always call them on it. I work full time training, have 5 dogs plus what ever rescues in, plus a life and I have time for dog training, so why can’t you?

You might think, “Well Kathryn your training sessions with owners are always an hour or more long” …yes they are, but I’m not training your dog. I’m training you to train your dog, training you to find the things that make your dog tick and want to work with you. There is no point me doing the work, I’m exciting and new of course they will interact with me! It’s up to you to do the training, not me, I don’t own your dog or have to live with it, you do. So be the most exciting thing in your dogs life. If your dog is utterly overjoyed with guests or other dogs, so much so that your dead to them, you might have  a little problem… learn to become the most exciting thing in your dogs life by teaching them new things, and how rewarding it is to interact with you.

Set your self a small challenge to get your dog to sit stay when your back is turned, and stay there while you boil the kettle or make a sandwich. Then tell me how hard it is, and how much training will be needed to get it. A few short sessions and you’ll have it, over do the training in one large chunk and it’ll all go pear shaped. Go on try it.

Set yourself achievable goals for training, and then set off to achieve them.

The bond between you and your dog will grow with the more successful training you have with them. Repetition of the wrong thing, or the same thing is about as interesting as it is for us, teach dogs new things and they will thank you for it.

Kathryn Jones FdSc AAB
A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour
http://www.cleverfoxcanine.com

It’s Never a Blank Canvas in Dog Training

When people take on a dog, be that a puppy, rescue or re-home, they know their is work to do with any dog,  no matter the age, or breed.

Many people assume that a dog that is a “Blank Canvas” with no training, such a a puppy or rescue dog will be easy, assuming that the dog has no knowledge of it’s own. These owners then get frustrated with the dogs do things wrong, or don’t quite understand what your on about. Some owners are well aware of challenges ahead, but aren’t willing to change their plans to suit the dog.

No dog is a blank canvas, even an 8 week old puppy just leaving the breeder, can have as many marks, rips, tears and stains as a well used artists canvas. Breed traits, genetic selection and health issues.

Think of each dog as an artists canvas, every artist wants to start with a crisp clean canvas, with no marks, bumps or tears to interrupt the image you want to achieve. The image will set in your mind. The canvas you want to paint on unfortunately has a tear in it, or some black spots in the corners, and spot where the colour will seep and not sit still. These blemishes make it harder to achieve that image in your mind, and might result in you changing your end image to work round them. Some people will work over them, attempting to cover them up, others will incorporate them into the image and others might choose to remove attempt them all together.

These blemishes are traits in dogs, breed traits, learned behaviour from previous home, learning in your home, genetic issues and health issues that can all stand in the way of that idealist training plan in your head. These things have to be worked with, or trained out of the dog in order to achieve these goals, sometimes these things can’t be changed as they are part of the dogs personality. These things are not just in rescue dogs with issues, they are in puppies, and dogs without any training. Picking the wrong breed for the wrong home or job can result in conflict, which would mean a spoilt canvas. An example would be choosing a heading breed to do a retrieving job, while many can do it, it goes against their genetics, and this leads to conflict. The training, relationship and dogs behaviour will need tweaking as well as your own behaviour towards the dog, it will always be hard work to achieve the image you desire when your fighting against the blots, tears and dots all over the canvas attempting to make it the image you want, not the image it could be.

The medium you the artist uses can also influence the image, using watercolours on the wrong paper will make the image muddy, and colours tainted. Using acrylics and oils together might not work, adding in mixed media to the mix will result in a very wishy washy image, that might not be true to what you want. Adding in felt pens on the top, or changing from biro to coloured pencils will mean the image will be shaky til the new image comes through. Using water colour on the right paper will result in the best image, but you can add in biro over the top, or masking fluid to make it evolve.

These mediums are training methods, you will have a certain idea on how to train, or what training you will use, but understanding the dogs as an individual is the best way to go forward. Some people know how to use water colours best, but having a dog that is more of a oil paining you are going to clash on everything, as it just won’t work. Both evolving and working on the canvas with acrylics will result in that image you want, but only slightly changed from your original mental image.  These methods can be purely positive, all negative, a mix of the two or off the wall, I am not here to talk about training methods but different things work for different owners, and dogs.

Essentially it is fool hardly to assume a dog is a blank canvas, and you can create an image with all medium. Previous experiences, breed, your knowledge and experiences can change the way the image turns out. Whether you want a dog as a companion, working dog or sports dog you need to understand the image you want, and be willing to change it or edit it to suit you both.

I have learned to edit the way I work with dogs, and owners to achieve the goals we set. Each dog I work with teaches me something about dogs, and dog training. All knowledge that teaches me to work or repair my canvas. Sometimes we need to tweak the goals or look at getting the right dog for the owner. I have changed the mental goals with my own dogs dependant on the breed, experiences, new knowledge and the circumstances.

“No Dog is a blank canvas, they all have their rips, blemishes and patches. It is up to you as the owner to choose the right medium to pain the image you see for you both”

Basically stop blaming your dog for problems, and start looking at what your working with in terms of your dogs breed, history and temperament. Work outside the box and start adapting to create the piece of art.

Kathryn Jones FdSc AAB NTIPDU/MGoDT

A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour

http://www.cleverfoxcanine.com

Tried and Tested Recall Top Tip!

Recall, the art of getting your dog to come back to you when called. Coming away from play time, sniffs and eating week old fried food. The desired behaviour is to do it straight away…most dogs get there in the end. 10 calls later and a very pissed off owner.

Anyway, this blog post is about a top tip for you the dog owner to get a better recall, by just using you! Yes only you, no extra treats or toys, only you and your bare hands! HOW, you cry!

Well it’s easy-peasy and something you will claim your already doing, but I bet your not.

Drum roll please….

Recall the dog, cuddle it and touch its head and collar…

Easy huh?

But most people get it wrong, oh so wrong, not on purpose but by being so eager to reward their dog mid way on the recall, by shouting “GOOD DOG” at them when their half way, which usually cues most dogs  to wandered off at this point as they have got their reward.

The other fatal mistake is to get a tasty bribery treat out, get the dog to come to you and sit, then reward that sit at arms length. As soon as you get that lead out, POOF! The dog is off.

You are so eager to get the dog to come to you, you make silly mistakes that can ruin a recall in any dog.

Go back to basics and teach your dog to come to you, for you. Yes some dogs are difficult and need bribery, I’m fine with that but for some something  as simple as calling them to you, cuddling them, sticking your hand under their collar and giving them a good scratch it far better than any ball or treat.

I always encourage people to touch their dogs collar, scruff and head on walks as part of the recall. Your dog should come back to you completely on a walk, be leaning on you, not sitting 5 ft away, there should be physical touching. Making this physical touch part of your routine on recall reduces the likely hood of your dog legging off once they come back to you. If you already have a grip on their collar when you produce the lead, they can’t disappear off as you already have a hold of them. It is also useful for emergencies, if your dog is already used to holding its collar when you call it in, if their is a need to do it E.g. loose sheep or dog on the run, you already have control and the dog is less likely to do an impression of a beached fish in order to escape!

Your dog should want to come to you, for you, while not every dog will get that, most will if you start them right, and soon enough you get a dog that will recall from other dogs mid play or away from running sheep.

You might think I’m reinventing the wheel here, and maybe I am but its so basic that people forget to do it. Instead opting for going over the top with other things.

Summary:

Touch your dog on a recall, it’s really that simple to help create a better recall! Give them a cuddle, give them a pat and reward them for their recall. 

Kathryn Jones FdSc AAB
A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour
http://www.cleverfoxcanine.com

Puppy Pads – A Nightmare Training Tool

Puppy Pads are a massive massive pet hate for me… they cause me as a Dog Trainer so much stress, never mind the poor dog owners that end up with dogs peeing in the house at 12 months old, and refusing to go on walks.

Puppy pads are used as a way to encourage puppies to defecate in one place, they have a scent on them that encourages dogs/puppies to use them. This premise works well, I understand why people use them. Why not eliminate the problem of the puppy wandering off and hiding a poo behind the sofa or leaving a wee to step on when you come through the door. Encourage that puppy to poo in one place, no smells as well as the pads are scent absorbing so you might not even know they have even gone to the loo until you find it later on. Providing the puppy a place to go over night should they need to go. No mess on the floor to clean up as you just lift up and throw away, SIMPLE.

Now here is everything I find wrong with them:

Yes you puppy only goes in one places, great…one place, except THAT ONE PLACE IS IN YOUR HOUSE!!!!!…in your kitchen/living room/hall way…not in the garden or on a walk. You are encouraging your puppy to pee in the house, to pee where it sleeps if you put one in its crate or bed area. Some dogs get so obsessed with the pads that they refuse to pee anywhere else….no where else but on the pads in your house….

Peeing in your house! Why would you want your new puppy to think it is ok to pee in the house at any point, never mind repeatedly! The puppy needs to learn to go outside. Letting them go inside is lazy behaviour on your part. You can’t make toilet training any quicker than it’s going to be.

The pads while encouraging your puppy to pee in a certain spot, they also permeate the smell about your home, making carpets, rugs and furniture smell like a place to pee. So even when they have been removed the puppies will try and pee in places that smell like them…damaging your carpets, rugs and furniture.

Your puppy will often rip them up, as they smell of an odd urine to theirs. Wasting them, and just generally making a mess. They are at this point literally ripping up money.

Also think about it this way, the companies want you to use the pads in order to encourage your puppy to pee in one place. One place that means you need to keep buying puppy pads in order to keep that puppy peeing on the pads….round and round you go. Keep buying more pads to use, so the companies make money.

The solution to the problem is not that hard, any owner can do it…. GET UP AND OUT YOUR PUPPY OUTSIDE! Wait til it goes and reward, marking it with a command. Simple. Yes your puppy will have accidents, yes it will go out and refuse to pee and then come back in to pee. Yes it will require you to get up  every hour, after every meal time, after a big drink, after play and after sleep. But some effort now saves you months of work in the future.

Yes puppies forget, clean it up and get on with it. There is no quick fix to house training, its takes your dedication to your puppy to sort it out. Do not be drawn in by gimmicks such as puppy pads.

There are many ways to help puppies learn to pee outside, but they are specific for your home, puppy, and routine. The best suggestions come after seeing your home.

Kathryn Jones FdSc AAB

A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour

http://www.cleverfoxcanine.com

(Main Image Link http://www.montrealdogblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/14855-English-Bull-Terrier-pup-urinating-white-background.jpg)

 

Hand’s off the Dog!- It’s not yours to touch.

I am seeing it more and more. People based aggression and fear in dogs. Not born from a lack of socialisation, or abuse, but instead from people not leaving the dog alone.

Fluffy or unusual breeds are usually sort out by members of the public, determined to touch the dog, no matter the protests of the owners. The dogs becoming worried that the next person to pass will fly over to them, give them kisses and cuddles, ruining their respect and trust in strangers. Dogs learning to lunge forward and attack first, defending themselves from idiot people determined for that one touch.

If it is not your dog, do not touch it. A dog that wants to be touched will tell you, some are that persistent in being touched it is a problem in its own right! A dog will approach you for touch, why should you approach it? We cannot explain to a dog our intentions with a touch, we just do it. For some dogs their is always the thought that it could be a touch leading to abuse rather than comfort or bonding. For others it is the fear that everyone will grab a handful of fluff and scream at them. “HOW CUTE”, “GOSH, I JUST HAVE TO TOUCH YOU” “HE’S SO SOFT”.

If I ran at your screaming these phrases, I am going to do one of a few things.

  • Punch you in the face (Bite)
  • Move away then have a go (Snap/Growl)
  • Warn you as you approach to not mess with me (Growl/Barking/Lunging)
  • Take it (Standing Still)
  • Love it (Wiggy Bum/Going Forward)

Not all dog’s hate touch, but many do if it forced upon them. You can’t force a dog to like you, it has to choose to allow you to touch it.

I don’t know how many time’s I have told people to back of from my dogs, whether they are friendly or not. You are not only stressing them out, by being in their face, but you are also distracting them from their job. Be that Drugs Dog, Security Dog, Service Dog, or even a Pet on a walk minding it’s own business. They do not need to be touched by you, Joe Public. LEAVE THE DOG ALONE.

I cannot reiterate it any more to the Public who are casing so many training for dogs, and their owners. Please PLEASE do not touch dogs who do not know you, do not approach them in the street and do not just run up to them. You are causing so much trouble.

People do not understand the issues they are causing, it’s not just a dog becoming more fearful, its a dog maybe loosing it’s home because owners cannot cope with the dogs behaviour, it’s a dog escalating to the point it injures someone, its dogs being put down because no one can cope with their behaviour any more.

Dog owners can be blamed for it, when it’s not their fault. “You must not have socialised her”, “He must be a rescue to be that bad with people”, “You should train your dog better”. Oh Piss off. You do not get an opinion on my dog, ESPECIALLY when you have come over and attempted to maul it!

Yes in some cases the dogs has had training to do a certain thing, or been allowed to do behaviours which are triggered by people coming over, their can be a lack of training with it all but in many cases it is not.

As a dog owners, NEVER think it is your fault idiots come up and worry your dog. Instead do something to protect your dog. Not everyone is a blunt as me, telling the owners to “Buggar off”, but it works. You can try harnesses with “Do Not Touch” on, as well as coats with similar phrases. Muzzles work a dream at keeping people at bay, even when you don’t have a dog that needs it. Walking at less busy times, or after dark. Running with your dog instead of walking. Training comes into it for sever cases, where things have gotten out of hand, but usually once people leave the dogs alone more, they relax naturally.

If your dog is showing any signs of fear or aggression towards people then PLEASE look into working with a professional Dog Trainer and Behaviourist. Do not read crap online and try to do it yourself, in many cases you are just building more fuel for the fire. The internet is not a place to look up dog issues, it nothing like seeing the dog in person, what you see as one behaviour, is not always what it is.

Kathryn Jones FdSc AAB
A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour
http://www.cleverfoxcanine.com

“No” in Dog Training – What’s going on?

So just recently I have had a large amount of my dog training and behaviour clients say they had read, or been told they could no longer say “No” to their dogs…..did I miss the memo in the dog training community? Was their a meeting when we all decided this? Because I want an explanation.

Their are times not to say “No”, or to understand when your dog doesn’t have a clue what the word means. But to be telling people not to tell their dogs off is madness, their are always times when dogs need to know their doing something wrong.

Mostly dogs have no idea what we’re on about as humans, were bumbling, shouting and badly expressive creatures who expect dogs to just understand the English language no lessons on it, or translation booklets. Dogs soon learn cue sounds for rewards such as “Sit” or “Come” as they always have a reward at the end, so are worth following.

“No” is a word they soon learn as well as it has it’s own consequences such as a toy removed, or a game finished. The dog can soon learn that is a cue that means to stop doing something. We as humans just love using more than one word to mean the same thing, so often use “Leave it”,”Give”, “GARRR” or any other noise to mean stop doing that. We confuse the dog with it. We need to stick to one sound and maintain its meaning.

I think the new wave of not telling your dog off is a way to try and reduce the culture of using excessive force to train dogs, such as alpha rolling or booting them when they have done something wrong. It’s an attempt to curb this behaviour, it’s working but I think it has strayed far to far in the other direction now., with dog owners not telling their dogs off for anything. Fearing they will be shunned or ridiculed for being “Harsh” on their dogs. Their needs to be a happy medium with dogs understanding, some sort of cue for “Stop that, that’s wrong”.

“Stop that’s wrong” doesn’t have to be screaming and shouting “No”, or distracting away with something else. It can be as simple as a look, or body language, followed up by a cue word, such as “No”. The dog needs to learn that this noise means what they are doing isn’t right. It isn’t going to be rewarded, but it also isn’t going to be ignored (Which is another worrying trend, ignore bad behaviour?). You are not going to tolerate this behaviour, it needs to stop now.

If your only every redirecting the behaviour, or ignoring it. How the heck does the dog know not to do it? It doesn’t read minds, I know it looks like they understand plain English, but until one talks to me I am going to assume they really don’t.

It is ok to tell your dog “No” when it is needed. When the dog is being reactive, chasing livestock, jumping up or anything that is a nuisance. Dog’s need to know when they are doing something wrong, when their behaviour is not right. It’s not as cut and dry and saying “No” to stop a behaviour, as their are other factors into training. But at the end of the day it is ok to say “No” and owners should not be afraid to say it to their dogs.

If I never said “No” to my dogs, or the rescues I’d have some real problem dogs. They would be all over the place, and uncontrollable with some of the behaviours I have to deal with. If I never said “No” to my puppy it would be ruling the roost for sure!

A little bit of respect…

As a dog owner I see dog’s understanding more than we give them credit for, they know when your upset, angry or any emotion. They learn to respond to that emotion with a response, this can be sitting by your side, moving further away or a whole host of different behaviours.

As a dog trainer and behaviourist I know dogs understand more than we realise. They know how to not only comfort us, but also manipulate us into giving food or praise. We might think we train them, but in most cases they train us to react in a certain way. To start shouting at them when they are barking at the door, to us its trying to silence them, to them we are joining in to back them up.

Dog’s were bred to be our faithful companions and working counterparts. They are intelligent almost to a fault. The deserve our respect as much as we demand theirs.

I always tell dog owners that dog training is all about respect. The dog needs to respect you enough to do as you ask, simple things such as sitting at the door, or not pulling on a lead. It’s not about alpha or beta, or dominance. It’s about respect. Respect me enough not to pull, and I’ll respect you enough to go of lead and not disappear.

Remember that a dog needs access to water, the correct nutrition, exercise and social interaction to put it into simple terms. Things like off lead running, treats and play with other dogs are not 100% needed for dogs to live. They are privileges, and they come with an earned respect.

Now respect is earned not though terror, fear or even treats. It is about the bond that is created while training and learning together. It is getting things right, and the dog trusting you to steer it right when things go wrong. You train as a team, you train as a pair and in the end respect appears. The bond can be built with any dog, young or old, rescue or puppy.

So many people expect their dog to respect them, just because they are a human and they own a dog. Dog’s respect those who show it them back. No one earned real respect though intimidating others, so why would your dog respect you for it?

I work not only with my own dogs, or even just other peoples dog. I work with dogs abandoned by society , known biters. Dog’s who often lost respect for their owners and turned on them as the only way to gain respect. It wasn’t genes that made them do it, the “He was born that way” line never applies. He was forced to do that to get his point across because no one was listening, no one was respecting him enough to listen to why he wasn’t doing as he was told, or was chewing, or was snapping at them.

These dogs have to learn to respect once again, a mutual respect between dog and handler. Some take days once they see they no longer need to display the behaviour, some take months to gain that mutual respect back. Dogs are more than possessions, or tools. They think and act, but these actions depend 90% on what we are doing, or what someone has done to them.

My dogs don’t work for me because I make them, they work for me because they want to. They want to make me as happy as I make them. They enjoy their jobs, be that defending me, searching for drugs or just walking at heel working with other dogs in a consult. They want to work for me, because of our respect and bond. How many dog owners out there can say they truly believe their dog is doing things for them, and not on their own agenda?

Respect your dog, and your dog will respect you. Earn it, don’t demand it.

Kathryn Jones FdSc AAB NTIPDU MGoDT

http://www.cleverfoxcanine.com

A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour

Rescue Dogs – Why I do it.

When I take on a rescue, I don’t do it to make money. I rarely do. Yes the dogs I have are sold on in most cases, unless they need a specialist home. I am not a charity and do not get funding help. Every dog I take on is to protect that dog, and it costs me from my own pocket. Anyone who has a dog knows dogs are costly. In many cases the dogs I take on have behaviour issues, and might be those due for death row because of their actions. Or their just the wrong breed to find homes.

People think I make great profits on these dogs. By the time I have fed and done training, paid out on some medication or vet treatment, I am out of pocket.

I don’t do it for the money, I don’t do it to be able to parade round these dogs as amazing cases of training. I do it for the dogs. Dogs that need to find working homes, or need someone to understand their needs before they can become a pet again. Someone who has the knowledge and time to steer these dogs on the right course.

Unlike a rescue I get to pick and choose what I take on. That is my perk, and why I won’t register as a rescue. These are dogs with potential to be a working dog. Either a Security Patrol Dog, or a Specialist Scent Dog. These are the jobs I want them to fill, and often have them succeed in. Sometimes they need pet homes or other working roles, but the reason I pick the dogs I want to work with is so I have successes not failures.

I can see the potential in any dog, their is always a place for them to fit into. These dogs seemingly too aggressive, or fearful, or reactive, or manic or crazy to be pets are the dogs that suit me. The dogs that need my training in order to be the best they can be.

While my dogs are my best friends and companions, they also need to earn me something back. Be that working as a security or drugs do, helping out with my behaviour consults, or helping alert me to when people enter the farm. They have to have a role with me. To some that might seem harsh, or blunt. We bred dogs for a working role, be that guarding, herding, catching, fetching, or companion and I think each dog should fulfil that role.

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Yes I charge for them, and they can be into the thousands for a well trained dog ready to go to work, but this takes hours of training time, with not only me but volunteers and other professionals. Often a few hundred pounds is their price, but the cost I have imputed is more than that. Your paying for a well trained dog, instead of for a puppy where things can go wrong. Some people want the puppy, others want the trained. Either is fine, as long as the dog has the right home which will continue its training.

I take on these dogs on my own time, fitting them round my Behaviour Training, Security Work, my own dogs, family life and my rest time. So they come out of my down time. They each get the time they need and deserve out of my own time. Its not 9-5 its 7-11 every day, 365 days a year. Rain or shine.

Sometimes I ask for help off people, donations of blankets for winter are something I ask for as people throw them out, and for me their gold dust. The occasional bag of dog food, or bag of meaty bones never goes amiss either with the dogs loving the food they are given. Everything is used, and the dogs benefit from it all.

I eat, sleep, dream and breath dogs. I’m working hard to provide myself with a dog life, and work towards the dream home for me, but dogs are factored into this all the way through.

Even if I can’t take a dog on I always try to help the owner and dog, offering kennels for a few nights discounted. Offering training for the new owners, to advertise the dog on my website or Facebook page. Offering what ever I can. I don’t know many other industries where people work so tirelessly to help animals and people alike for no financial reward, only that warm fuzzy feeling inside.

So if people think after all the hours I put into training, all the food I feed these dogs, all the vets visits that mount up, that I actually make a profit on these dogs. You must be joking. What I get from it is pride, pride a dog that people didn’t understand is now a trained and amazing working dog. In a role they were bred for and excel at, instead of stuck in a home where their behaviour is labelled as problem or dangerous.

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Canine Microchips – Downfalls. Check Yours.

So this blog post is warranted by a recent incident. A client’s dog had run off after some birds, and has not returned for over an hour.

She did everything right, staying put and calling the dog. Asking passers-by if they had seen the dog. Then calling in reinforcement once things had become more desperate. I was called to see if my dogs could track hers (No they can’t), so I came along with my partner to offer another pair of eyes and a familiar face for both owner, and hopefully the dog.

After several hours of searching turning up nothing we all feared the worst, but never voiced our concerns out loud. Thoughts such as being stolen, stuck and hurt or dead came to mind.

I posted the lost dog description on Facebook (The most powerful local social media there is at the moment). Well it proved to be the owner’s saviour. I had a call about 15 minutes after posting I had a call from the Dog Warden telling me the dog had been found. Relief all round at this point.

He then informed me that it was only by chance a work mate had seen the lost ad on Facebook and decided to call. The dog had a microchip, but it wasn’t resisted to anyone. The perplexed owner collected her dog, unharmed by her adventure and returned home. She later informed me that she had never sent off the paperwork to transfer her details of ownership. This dog was an adult and had been running around with no details attached to her chip.

This happy ending could have been spoilt if it was not for a well-placed lost ad.

Another story is of a chip deactivating. The vet at a check-up happened to check the chip placement, and it was nowhere to be found. The owners then had to pay out for another chip to be implanted and now have two registered to that dog. The chip had failed according to the vet, not an uncommon occurrence.

It’s lucky the vet had checked it that day, many vets do not unless requested to do so. I have had to ask the vet to check my dogs chips on several occasions, never have they told me that they are going to check it without being prompted by me.

They can move as well, upon checking my own dogs chips are still working, I found that my adult male Shepherds has slipped down his shoulder blade. It took a bit of searching to find it, as I kept on his spine for a while and then went down the legs. If people only check the neck I would be stuffed.

Many people have the details for their microchips somewhere in the house. Usually in an unknown place, and they wouldn’t even have a clue of the number. Should your dog go missing, do you even know what company to ring? There are several and ringing the wrong one is a waste of time and energy when searching for a lost dog. Keep a copy of the details in a car, safe and easy to access where ever you are should your dog go missing. Knowing the number and company it is registered too speeds up the process of reporting them missing.

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Something like this would be useful, I keep this in my car with all my dogs details. 

Many people might lose their dog for whatever reason, but unless the dog warden finds it there is little obligation for people to scan the microchip from the council, and most dog owners don’t carry a chip scanner. Vets will scan them, but have no obligation to look after those dogs for any period of time. Even people that find them, they should report it to the police and dog warden, but if it is a desired breed or just a nice dog people will keep them. A tag with your details on is a much quicker way to get reunited with your dog, as people will call the phone number on the tag first before trying to get the dog to a vet or call the dog warden. It makes sense.

It goes to show how microchips are of little use unless people actually update them or check them regularly. So do just that, and keep your dog under control and trained. Avoid areas where they could disappear unless you have a good recall. Think about keeping your garden secure to avoid escapes or people getting in. Make sure you dog is wearing a tag, that’s also the law.

I have now purchased a microchip scanner to go round checking client’s dogs chips are working, and people know the numbers. I can’ confirm lost dogs, but I can start somewhere to help owners know if their dog’s chips are working.

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New Halo Microchip scanner.

http://www.nawt.org.uk/advice/compulsory-microchipping-information-owners
This link has a bit more detail about the law now and fines, but it’s nothing really that informative.