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.

 

 

Muzzles: Training for Emergencies

So as a Security Dog Handler my dog have to learn to wear a muzzle to pass the course. Allowing us to work the dogs in them, should the employer request it.

Muzzles are seen as a tool in the Security Dog industry, but for pet dog owners many see them as an indicator for dangerous dogs when out and about. But for many their dog are muzzled for a completely other reason, such as for hoovering food/rubbish when out on a walk.

I think all dogs should be taught to wear a muzzle, regardless of breed, age and behaviour. They are often required in times of great stress, mainly after an accident. You are adding to the stress by making your dog wear a muzzle, it might be needed for the dogs own safety, but you can save a lot of unnecessary stress by teaching your dog to accept the muzzle.

Training can be one of several ways, the main ones I teach will be described below, but remember you can teach these things how ever you want. These are ideas based on common sense training and experience.

1. Just shove it on:

What it says on the tin really, and it is how I have introduced my own dogs to the muzzle. We put the muzzle on, made sure it fit and then walked the dog around until it learned to accept it as part of the training. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea way of doing it, but it has worked for all of my dogs and they are fine to wear it both for the vets and working.

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My White German Shepherd, a fully qualified NTIPDU Security Dog wearing a leather basket muzzle, for at work or emergency situations. He is happy to wear it, and works in it well. This type of muzzle is only for short term use as the dog cannot drink with it, but can pant. 

2. Teach them to put it on:

This is great to do combined with other training such as target training, or clicker training. I don’t use both as I find them difficult, but its easy enough to do with some treats and patience. Basically put the muzzle in your hand, as soon as the dog shows interest tell them how good they are and treat them. Basically you are going to teach them to see the muzzle as a good thing, and a treat dispenser. Once they get the idea is holds treats, then you start width holding the treats until they go closer, the put their nose in the muzzle. This builds up to them putting it on by themselves, and wearing it strapped on. It;s a long process but it builds up the dogs to be used to their muzzle without stress, or fear. You have to keep training it as a good thing. You can also do this training with a toy, or reward item. Making the dog work to get the toy via putting the muzzle on.

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My Springer Spaniel Drugs Dog, a fully qualified NTIPDU Scent Detection Dog. He is used to wearing a muzzle for emergencies. Which came in useful recently after he broke his dew claw and needed to have an operation. He wears a fabric muzzle which are only used for emergencies as if worn correctly, the dog cannot pant at all. It is supposed to clamp the mouth shut so the dog cannot bite. 

3. Bribery:

Bibery is not training with treats, it is basically popping something nice at the end of the muzzle like peanut butter (Good quality without xylitol), marmite or cream cheese. Anything that sticks to the edges, letting the dog find it and start licking it in the muzzle. Then putting the muzzle on with them still after the treat at the end. It’s pure bribery combined with distraction. Works well fro many dogs, and is actually very good for dogs with aggression out of the house, as it gives the owner confidence their dog can’t hurt anything and the dog is distracted by the food.

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My Female German Shepherd wearing a Baskerville muzzle. The most common type out there and perfect all rounder for both pets and working dogs. They are easy to shove treats into if needed, they can pant, bark and drink with them on without harming other dogs, themselves or people. OR for many they can’t eat things off the ground. 

 

However you decide to train your dog to wear a muzzle, please do train them to wear one. It is so much easier in stress situations if the dog is already used to the muzzle.

Also once you have trained them to wear one, keep practising the training. Dog’s can forget about them after a long period without them, so aim to practice at least once a month once they are comfortable wearing them.

If you are unsure of where to start with the training and need some help, then feel free to get in touch to talk about the training or have a one to one session to get it started.

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