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Flashy Friday Week 2!

Flashy Friday! Week 2 -  "Spin" Whew! A whole week between posts, sorry guys! Like I've mentioned before we're pr...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Training Through Shaping

Shaping Class

Just to get everyone caught up....sorry for the absence it's been crazy between work kicking it up a notch thanks to the lovely fall season and school starting back up.
WHEW...Almost done I graduate this upcoming June 2015!
I'm looking forward to being able to focus on what I want to do (you know, like work with dogs) rather than homework. Last time I left you with an Obedience Class post it was Week 2 - Impulse Control in Dogs - Click HERE for that Lesson.

Being the most advanced team in the class our instructor felt that we would get the most out of learning by skipping ahead. So she bumped us up to the next class early! Yay!
Our ultimate goal is to do agility work with Ziva - not necessarily compete but just get her going, see if she likes it, and work on building her self confidence as well as trust in me.
In order to do agility our instructor requires dog teams to take 2 classes, Basic Obedience, and Shaping Skills. Then we can start agility! By moving forward sooner we can start quicker!

So now we're onto shaping. 

Lesson #1 - Platform Training
Platform Training is a great way to keep your dog occupied during the wet months like we're in now. Kind of like the game "It's Your Choice", platform training gets your dog's brain working trying to decipher what it is that you want. It also helps to build self confidence with your dog as they progressively learn new things and succeed in doing so.

Important things to keep in mind. 
- Learning a new behavior can be challenging, keep training sessions short and positive so that neither you or your dog get frustrated. Limit your training time to just a couple seconds at first, slowly building up to a few minutes at a time, and then take a break or play! This is especially important when trying to teach a new behavior.

For shaping this new behavior, our instructor uses a clicker because it quickly "marks" the behavior that you are looking for your dog to do. Clicker Training Basics Click HERE.

Step 1
The goal is to get your dog onto a platform of your choice, we used phone books in class but at home I have a flat rectangular piece of cardboard. Whatever you choose you should start with something that your dog can easily get all 4 paws on.

No luring! - Luring is where you "lure" or guide your dog with either treats, body language, or commands to get them to do something.

Begin by walking towards the platform and planting your feet, you are not allowed to move your feet from this position. Don't stand too close though or you will crowd your dog.

At first your job is to reward any interaction with the platform this can be in the form of: 
stepping on it *click, treat
looking at it *click, treat
sniffing it *click, treat

Don't look your dog directly in the eye, we are not asking for focus; we are asking that they interact with an object. And again, NO HELPING. Your dog has to figure it out on his/her own.

If your pup gets stuck then walk away from the platform and start over.

If you have a low energy dog or one with a low working drive like for example Ziva who kind of walks around nonchalantly and without enthusiasm about the whole silly ordeal...then get them excited to work! Usually this involves me jogging around and *click, treat - rewarding her for eye contact and heeling while we run in some silly circles. I do this because it helps her know that we are still working and I want her to be excited to work!

As your dog begins to associate the box with rewards begin asking for more.

Reward only when their feet are on the box, then two feet on the box, and rear feet on the box.
Learning platform training also is great because it helps them to learn to use their feet individually, this is hard for most dogs as their rear legs just kind of follow the front - they don't tend to use them independently naturally.

As your dog becomes more advanced you can ask for things like: touching the platform with both back feet only, or one back foot.

You can also change the platform, raise it up, different shape, different object, smaller/bigger, be creative!

Practice, Practice, Practice...
You know the mantra, "Practice makes perfect!" Also practice on different things. This game is very easy to fit into your schedule. For example, in the kitchen while you are making dinner - toss a magazine or book on the ground for a short 30 sec practice time, pick it up, and keep cooking. A little while later do it again. Or maybe before sitting down on the couch, before bedtime, before a meal, - do a 30 sec practice session.

One thing that Ziva loves is getting up onto things like logs, walls, and platforms at the playground but she's used to us asking her to do it. For whatever reason she was having a hard time with this concept even though we were practicing. I'm going to just go ahead and take the blame here...this is all new to me too. But don't give up! They'll get it eventually!

Here is another great source if you want to learn more!
Team Unruly

Barks And Bytes Hop, Thankful Thursday Weekly Blog Hop, pet centric

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Autumn Glory in Oregon

In Honor of Wordless Wednesday

Some more fun pictures from our 
A fun river trail we spotted off the roadside.

Ziva loves to climb! She got up there all by herself!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Hardesty Trailhead Oregon

Hardesty Trailhead
Willamette National Forest

"Come on guys, lets go!"
Hardesty Parking Lot

We recently discovered a new place to take the pups! It's called Hardesty Trail, and aside from being a mostly uphill hike it wasn't hard at all.

And as a plus, we went on a gorgeous Oregon fall day! Chance of sprinkles but we don't let that stop us!

The leaves are changing colors here in Oregon, and it's starting to get misty and foggy in the evenings & mornings.

I love misty/foggy weather it's soo pretty. Sometimes I get tired of it, but right now I think it's beautiful.

It was our first time at Hardesty, and we went pretty late in the day so we didn't go very far.
Mostly we just wanted to test out the weight in our backpacks with some gear. Dante did great with his new Groundbird Pack! That review is HERE. 

We went about 4 miles round-trip to the 5835 Junction.

I love my boys!
Loved this silly sign, it's like..."Well duh.."
 Little buddy we found!
I love salamanders!
My little log hopper!
Ziva loves logs so it's super easy to get her up on top. All you have to do is suggest it and she's there in an instant!

We discovered that this is a very popular trail for mountain bikers!  And i'm sure would make for some great bike joring with the dogs. We'd just need to watch out for other people because parts of the trail get kind of thin.
I've noticed that many people seem to stop training when they are hiking...they just let their dogs do whatever they please.
We are a little different, our dogs practice even on our hikes. Hikes are a great training opportunity because of all the distractions - birds, salamanders, squirrels, chipmunks, smells in general and unusual noises like rain hitting leaves, or branches cracking and squeaking in the wind.

When we find a good spot we do allow for some off leash time, but it is all dependent on how many people we've seen out, other dogs, and the area. The last thing I want is to be encountered by a badly behaved off-leash dog, and we certainly don't want our dogs disturbing people who may or may not like dogs greeting them. And even though their off-leash recall is pretty darn good, they haven't been around enough wild animals for it to be 100%. If a deer darted past Dante would probably give chase, he'd come right back but... it's just not a risk I want to take. I would be heartbroken and searching forever if they were to get lost in the woods, and then knowing it was something I could have prevented would probably kill me. I've heard this exact scenario happen many times, sometimes the dog takes days before he finds his way home. But if you're a long way from home, then how will he find his way back? He won't. Either you will find him, someone else will, or he'll be forever lost.

To make up for this we always have rewards for the dogs during our hikes, we take sniff breaks, they log hop, rock hop, and of course get lots of love and play time when we get home!

Playtime after our hike.

Always practicing! That's my girl!

And That's All Folks!

But we can't forget!
Dirty dogs must wash their paws!

Snoopy's Dog Blog

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween Holiday Dog Safety

Happy Howl-o-ween!

Halloween is a very confusing day for many dogs, please be careful and pay attention to how your pup is feeling.
Just because you are having fun, doesn't mean that they are.

For some dogs, especially reactive, or nervous types this is a day of madness and mayhem.
Imagine it...door bell rings, 
your dog's job is to bark at the door, 
barking ensues, 
tiny humans in strange garb are at the door, 
some of them have their faces covered, 
you hush your dog and greet the tiny humans but do not invite them in,
 the tiny humans are sent away...and DING DONG, the door bell is ringing again!
By the end of the night, your dog may be stressed and irritable due to the nights confusion.

Photo Credit: Liz West via Flickr

Costumes - 
Not all dogs like to dress up!
It's sad how many pictures people post of their dogs in costume, and if you look at the body language the dog is clearly unhappy.
Please be kind to your pets, some animals do not like being placed in a costume.
If you are going to use costumes, practice with your dog.
Put on the costume, take it off, put it on, take it off. Slowly leaving the costume on for longer periods of time. Make it a fun experience by rewarding good behaviors, you can also practice your training sessions while in costume to let your pup get used to it.
Don't force the issue if your pup hates the costume.
Just make sure the costume isn't introduced the same night as Halloween when stress levels are already up.

Look at this cutie!   He doesn't mind at all!   Puppy head tilt  (I bed the camera holder is holding a treat!). He has curious happy eyes, forward inquiring ears and a relaxed mouth.

Photo Credit: Istolethetv via Flickr

Our Fun Last Year.
Dante is our social and very confident boy, he loves people especially little kids and parents are often surprised at how gentle he is with them.
And most of the kids in our area know Dante from his joring with the hubby, walks, winter sleigh-rides, and our training/playtime at the local elementary school and neighbor's field where we do off-leash work.
Last year we dressed Dante up as Super Dog!

Sorry I don't have a picture...Their will be pics this year though! So tune back next week, we have some awesome costumes to unveil!

With all his super-stardom Dante ended up drawing in sooo many kids that we ran out of candy! I know, what?! And the hubby had to make an emergency candy run.
We turned the trick or treaters into a training game.

The Set Up - 

You'll Need: 
  • A "Dog in Training" Sign - we printed out one on a piece of paper, colored it and posted it on the front door. Make sure you use big letters! Our's read: "Puppy in Training, Please Ring and Wait - We're coming!"
  • Leash
  • Lots of High-Value Doggy Treats
  • Clicker (if you'd like)
  • Treats for the cute little goblins at your door!
Game Goal - The goal is to teach your pup that for at least this one night, when the door rings you don't need to bark, you need to sit and wait patiently. 

What we don't want - A crazy excited Dante busting out the door knocking over little princesses, and goblins in his hurry to say hi and kiss everyone.

How to Play - 

Set your dog up for Success:
Make sure you have a happy relaxed, and exercised pup before evening starts!

Leave the leash on! You don't want your excited dog knocking over a kid, running into the street, or running into a leashed dog that may be with the parents of the children.

Remember: Just because your dog is friendly doesn't mean someone else's dog is friendly.
You also don't want your pup to accidentally scare someone (some kids have a fear of dogs), please be polite on this holiday night.

Door rings - Dante barks.
Go to the door, ask for a "sit" *click, treat. 
Have your pup give the door room to open, ask for "wait".'
Open the door - treat the princess's and goblins.
Close the door - *click, treat for waiting.

If your pup break's the "wait". Address it - re-position your pup where you had originally asked for the "wait". Repeat again, "wait". And move forward. Sometimes having a second person helps with the "sit" "wait".

If the kids want to say hi, or if you want your pup to say hi. First ask the kids, "Would you like to say hi?" If the answer is "Yes", then allow your pup to politely greet. No Jumping! No darting out!  Use the leash, ask for a "sit" *click, treat. We'd let Dante say "hi" so long as he was polite, since he looks most kids in the eyes we asked that he "sit" and let them pet him.
Remember Lots of Treats! - And you want to use a high value treat - something they really, really want. Like cooked chicken breast, pork, beef, hot dogs, cheese (Dante loves cheese!).

By the end of the night Dante wasn't even barking at the door! The bell would ring, he'd run over to his spot, sit, and just wait for the kids to leave because the door closing meant he'd get a treat!

If your dog doesn't like the masks or costumes, it is better that they not participate. The last thing you want is a child being bitten because your dog became scared.

How can you make this a less stressful night?
If you have a reactive or nervous dog, please do not make them participate.
You can make their experience much more peaceful if you place them in their "safe place" like their crate or bed, and ask for calm behavior.

Pay attention to your dog's body language, 
even a dog that is well-balanced can become stressed.

Look for: 
Tail tight to their rear or between legs, avoiding eye contact, looking away, ears held down or back, tense mouth, frequent and exaggerated yawning, body shake (as if shaking off water) rapid panting (without having been exercised).

A happy dog will have relaxed eyes and facial lines, mouth relaxed slightly open, ears up, and relaxed tail.
Dante Relaxed but having fun.
Dante excited hunting through the grass.
- Confident dogs hold their tails high! With confidence, but they have relaxed body language.
Look at the picture below of Dante, relaxed forward ears, open relaxed mouth.

Dante, high confident tail with relaxed body language.

- High tail & stiff tail, tight mouth, with squared up shoulders is dominant behavior
that can potentially turn to aggressive behavior and lead to a bite
if your dog is unsure or nervous about a situation.

Canine Body Language Poster by AbbyK9

This Year We Have Ziva, we're going to give her a chance to participate in the fun but we'll be watching her very carefully to make sure that she doesn't become stressed.

She loves people and kids but is not as social a personality as our Dante boy.

Here's a Sneak Peek into what we're doing this year! We went to a Scarecrow building party and won the grand prize for ours!  Here he is! The Headless Horseman!

"Something wicked this way comes!"

A friend of ours also has a great Halloween post, check it out!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

History of Bully Breeds - American Pit Bull Terrier Origins

History of the American Pit Bull Terrier
& it's Bully Breed Origins
In Honor of National 
Pit Bull Awareness Month


Their is no such breed as a "Pit Bull".  
The term "Pit Bull" is a body description as opposed to an actual dog breed, it's a large umbrella term that covers a wide range of true dog breeds such as; Bulldog breeds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Boxers, Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Boston Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Bully's, Dogo Argentino's, African Boerboel's, Mastiff breeds, and more! All of these dogs are also referred to as "Bully Breeds", but the only breed that has "Pit Bull" actually in it's name is the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) really the only "true" Pit Bull. But when Breed Specific Legislation and Breed Bans are put into place they ban "Pit Bulls" which includes all "Bully Breeds".

"Bully Breed" Is Not The Same Type of "Bully" As a Children's Playground Bully, "Bully Breed" Does not mean "Mean Dog".
Depiction of the Ancient Molosser
"The term "bully" can invoke a sense of terror and intimidation, so it's no wonder many people believe that these dogs pose a danger to society. However, the term actually has nothing to do with the dogs' temperament or behavior, and everything to do with their origin and history. Bully breeds all come from the same root stock called Molosser, which is a breed that originated in ancient Greece. Molossers were big dogs with large bones and muscles, pendant ears and short muzzles." (Source: Animal Planet)

History of the American Pit Bull Terrier & Bully Breeds. 
The generally accepted history of these dogs starts with the Molosser, this now extinct dog was a soldiers' dog used for fighting, hunting, and war.  The theory goes that this dog made his way into Britain where he became known as, and evolved into the modern day mastiff and other bully breeds. These early Mastiff-type dogs were used by butchers and came to be called "bullenbeissers," which translates to "bull biter". Ever wonder about the rings in a bull's nose? These dogs were trained to latch onto, "bite" the ring and hold on until the bull was subdued or until the human could remove the cows from the field. These dogs were how humans were able to handle an agitated bull. These dogs were highly prized for their stubborn nature and ability to handle these dangerous bulls.

Early depiction of a bulldog.
Well as I'm sure you can guess...this practical use of dogs eventually evolved into bull-baiting, and bear fighting which quickly became a form of entertainment in Europe.... And now we have the roots of the modern day "bulldog" and the new term the "pit bull".

As humans began to see the cruelty in bull-baiting and bear fighting they began to enact laws that banned such behavior - baiting was made illegal by the British parliament in 1835. Unfortunately the dogs weren't so lucky. The human fighters and remaining fans went underground and began to train/fight their dogs against each other.
However - while these dogs were being fought with each other they were selectively bred and trained to be very human friendly so that the human fighters/gamblers could handle their dogs. Through this the dogs gained a reputation for being trustworthy around humans.

Enter the Terrier.
For the sport of fighting - the slower bulldogs were crossed with the more agile terriers to create a faster super athlete. Terriers themselves were used for both hunting & blood sports - the rat terrier for example was used commonly in a sport called rat-baiting.

Working with these dogs people realized they were useful for a wide variety of things and not just fighting. Their bravery and lack of fear was highly prized by hunters - some of these dogs were used to boar hunt, with their tenacity, desire to please, and high working drive they made for great partners when on a hunt. Even today these dogs are still used for boar hunting! Successful hunting dogs were highly prized and cared for by their human counterparts.

As immigrants began to cross the ocean they brought along their families and prized possessions which included their dogs. Unfortunately dog fighting also came to America and was common throughout the 19th century.

The All American Dog.
As settlers traveled West these dogs began to change some more. These dogs were used primarily as farm dogs, hunting, and companions/guardians of the families young children. What we know now as the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is a dog that has changed throughout history. Their terrier history gives these dogs a high prey drive and desire to work. Like any hunting breed APBT's generally speaking - have a high prey drive compared to some other dog breeds. This does not mean that they can't be around other animals (Click HERE for more on the subject of prey drive).

As the APBT became more popular in the US they were admired for their friendly nature, bravery, and how hardworking they were. They also became mascots for WWI representing bravery and the American Spirit.

WWI propaganda poster - notice the kittens in the flag.

Over the years the APBT became the All American dog. Used in World War I for propoganda posters, they represented the US military and became mascots for the United States Marine Corp. Also in WWI, Sergeant Stubby became the unofficial mascot for the 102nd Infantry Division and was credited with saving the lives of his human comrades.

Sergeant Stubby.jpg
Sgt. Stubby

These highly popular breeds were owned by many famous people such as: Helen Keller, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, Mel Brooks, Fred Astaire, more recently Rachel Ray, Norman Reedus, Danny Trejo, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Bacon, Josh Hutcherson, Jessica Biel and many more! The APBT has also featured in movies like Buster Brown, and Our Gang. Normally bully breeds are gentle dogs when they are properly cared for, they are social, intelligent, and loyal. They are also athletic, energetic, and agile.

The dogs that came to American became known as American Pit Bull Terriers.

The Modern Bully.

These dogs are not for every dog owner, and definitely not for first time dog owners.
One of the reasons bully breeds end up in shelters & in the news is due to human ignorance. If not given enough exercise they can be very destructive, and tend towards destructive behaviors such as chewing or digging.

Bully Breeds Are Powerful Dogs. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.
 Powerful dogs must be respected.
They require constant socialization, training, exercise, and they must have a Strong Pack Leader. 

Many people have multiple bullies in their household, but in order to keep the peace this means that each dog you integrate must be properly socialized, well balanced, and their personalities must match or you'll have a problem on your hands. Two dominant dogs, or a dog with food/toy aggression issues can lead to a dog fight. Now please keep in mind - dog aggression/aggression & dominance are found in all dog breeds, however with powerful breeds it is not something that you can just ignore and hope to resolve itself.

Now please don't think that "Strong Pack Leader" means you must "dominance roll", "alpha roll", "submit", or force your dog to do what you want. Many people feel that these dogs must be handled in a very strong manner and they end up being subjected to "prong/pinch", choke, and electric collars. 

With proper training and breed understanding this is VERY unnecessary.  

These dogs want to please you. Remember: They were bred for their drive to work. Positive Reinforcement Training works really well with these dogs, and they have been very successful in agility, pulling, obedience, and other fun doggy competitions/sports.

What do I mean by Pack Leader?
Ziva has a high prey drive....a VERY high prey drive. We ended up fostering a kitten for a few months, a little bottle-baby.  At first Ziva wanted to eat the kitten, their was a lot of brow furrowing, anxious whining, and very strong eye contact/focus on the kitten. For how we dealt with that issue click HERE.

By Pack Leader I mean that your dog trusts, respects you, and looks to you for guidance. This is accomplished through regular training, and exercise with your dog. Dominant dog behavior is not allowed.

If you allow your dog to rule the house then again: a bully breed is not the dog for you. 
With bullies, if you aren't in charge then they feel that they MUST be in charge. This is how you set your bully up for failure and someone can end up getting hurt because your dog views something as a threat where in fact it might not be. Bullies need structure, and leadership as well as love and affection.

"While large numbers of pit bull type dogs in this country live out their lives as cherished family companions, many not so fortunate suffer from man-made shortcomings, including unspeakable cruelties, the socio-economic pressures of under-resourced owners, and the relentless biases and discrimination of an ill-informed public. The All American dog began to be exploited through dog fighting in greater numbers in the eighties and were soon associated with poverty, 'urban thugs' and crime....the reputation of the entire breed was dragged down with yet more sensationaliztic headlines and damaging myths and untruths. This set the stage for breed specific laws (BSL)."

"Dogfighting is now a felony in all 50 states and arrests have increased, and many now work to restore the dogs' image to its rightful place as an American tradition." (

Unlike many anti "pit bull" advocates want you to believe...the modern bullies of today have generation upon generation roots going back to family and work dogs rather than fighting dogs. On top of that, most shelter bully breeds are mutt mixes rather than true American Pit Bull Terriers.

Source: Jaxxblackfox Deviant Art.

What's the Trend?
It only takes a brief look at history to see that these dogs aren't dangerous to humans but the other way around. For hundreds of years these dogs have been family dogs, they have been friendly loving, loyal, and dedicated working dogs. The problem lies with the people who misuse them. With outreach and education, holding owners responsible for the acts of their individual dog we can change the tide of history and restore these unfairly labeled and wonderful dog breeds.

*This is a brief summary of the history of bullies, I hope you enjoyed it! Their is much more that can be learned if you are interested in learning about specific breeds.*

barks and bytes, Thankful Thursday Weekly Blog Hop, pet centric


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