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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Adopting or Fostering a New Dog.

Bringing Home a New Dog

We've already addressed before in this blog, the importance of breed knowledge before adoption.
But one thing we haven't covered is setting your new dog up for success, after you bring him/her home.

Many adopted dogs end up returned to the rescue or shelter that they came from within a few weeks. One survey I read said this happens to about 20% of adopted dogs. 
Why? Is it because shelter/rescue dogs are bad?
No, I believe that it has to do with well meaning people just not knowing how to set their new dogs up for success.
A great read on this is: 5 Common Mistakes Adopters Make

Not to give away the article, but the mistakes aren't what you may think.

Recently we took on the responsibility of being a foster family for Jack, a stray we found wandering around near our home. Meet Jack!

He has integrated perfectly with our family, not because of his good nature but because we worked really hard to make sure this young, easily excitable male had some immediately established rules and boundaries that have remained consistent.

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "He's lucky he's cute, because he's driving me crazy!" I'll admit it, I've uttered this phrase myself at times. But if your dog is driving you crazy it's because you are not meeting a need that they have in some way, shape, or form. Usually with dogs it's a lack of training or exercise that causes them to behave bonkers. Sometimes its medically related.

Setting up for Success:
When you first bring a new dog home, keep the leash on. 
The leash is an easy connection to the dog that helps you with setting rules and boundaries inside your home.
If you have other dogs or cats, the leash allows you to gently remove your new dog from a situation if they are becoming to excited, over aroused, or overwhelmed by the situation.
Meeting new dogs can be scary for some dogs, a leash also allows you to maintain a level of control If it is possible - exercise your new dog before bringing him/her home so that they are in a calmer state of mind.

You Introduce Your House.
Don't just let your new dog run willy nilly through the house. Introduce them, walk them through the house and show them all the rooms they are allowed in - do not introduce places that are off-limits. Set these boundaries early on so you don't confuse and have to undo bad habits later on.

Immediately Set Rules and Boundaries.
Back to the leash, we have one couch that is off-limits to dogs. The first thing Jack did was to jump on that couch. We immediately began with boundaries by walking over, gently taking the leash and leading Jack off of the couch and offering an alternative - his bed. Every time he jumped on the couch, we removed him and brought him back to his bed. When he finally chose his bed without help we rewarded him with some yummy treats and praises, further reinforcing his good behavior.

Another rule in our house is no rough housing indoors, I have a glass hutch and wine cabinet that I don't want broken because of my pibbles who love to crash into things when they play and wrestle, so any crazy play must go outside. Well Jack is still struggling with this one, but it's getting better! If he tries to instigate crazy play hubby or I end up breaking it up by taking a dog out of the game and leading them to their bed, we use the word, "settle". If they insist then they get kicked outside into the backyard.

Dante loves to be crazy!
Spoiling your new dog does not set them up for success, instead it leads to potentially possessive behaviors. We've been lucky in the fact that Jack doesn't have any resource guarding issues, we practice taking things away from him, including food, treats, and toys. We also ask that he respect when Dante and Ziva have something and vice, versa. Toys they can play with together, and sometimes you'll see them sharing a horn and chewing at the same time, however if they don't want to share, we step in and ask the pushy party to back off.

Immediately Begin Crate Training.
Crate training is such a wonderful tool! Not all dogs need to be crated when you leave but all dogs should be crate trained for a variety of reasons. At some point in their life your dog may be crated, this can be for travel, after surgery at your vets office, daycare, or maybe crated while you are doing a home renovation project. What you don't want is for the crate to be a stressor for you pup.
Proper Crate Training

In our case Ziva and Dante were both originally crate trained due to separation anxiety, the crate was a great way to work on that issue. Now both dogs can safely be left un-crated when we leave and I don't have to worry about them destroying my house. I also don't have to worry about Dante and Ziva fighting, they have never fought, never shown any possessive behaviors towards each other, and I trust them.

Jack on the other hand can be a naughty puppy, he'll harass either dog if he wants to play and he doesn't respect Ziva's space when she shows teeth or growls due to his bad behavior. She has never bitten him, but because he doesn't respect her space he needs to be crated - we can't trust them to be alone together. And being that he is crated, we also have gone back to crating Ziva. We do this because both crates are side by side, and it gives Jack a calm presence to lay next to. Ziva has been a great teacher showing Jack that proper crate behavior involves sleeping, or quietly chewing on the horn we leave for them, and enjoying a frozen Kong treat.

Set Your Routine.
Dogs do great with routine!

Our routine is:
In the morning - wake up, shower, take the dogs out for playtime or a walk (we alternate exercises depending on the day), humans eat while the dogs cool down and their tummies settle, dogs eat, dogs go outside one last time, humans go to work.

Afternoon - I get home, play with or walk the dogs. I also usually squeeze in some formal training time with each dog individually, depending on how crazy my day is. We try to train daily but it just doesn't always happen.

In the evening - dinner, maybe another walk/play time, potty, bed time.

Sometimes when you bring home a new dog it can take a few days for their personality to start showing through the stress of a new environment.
Exercise and training help to encourage your dog to relax. An exercised dog is a happy dog! A relaxed dog is easier to train, training helps you and your dog to bond. Bonding makes for a great integration process! And integration means fewer dogs being returned to shelters and rescues.

So far fostering has been a lot of fun, it can definitely be stressful at times but it's been a good experience. It also has shown us where we need to brush up on certain aspects of training for both Dante and Ziva.

Thoughtful Thursday, in our case., Thankful Thursday Weekly Blog Hop, pet centric

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Silly Puppy

Silly Dog, 
Puppies are such a Handful.

Puppies are soo much work!
We adopted Dante at age 1 for a reason...hubby and I knew that we didn't have time for a puppy, they require constant socialization, monitoring to make sure they don't get into something they shouldn't, and they have to go potty constantly!

Well, now we have a big puppy. One who is currently going by the name of Jack.

See the problem is that he knows he's cute. Look at this mischievous little grin he has!

To be honest with you guys, he is driving me INSANE!

I like him and all but not being able to exercise him for 7 - 10 days is not only giving him cabin fever but he's starting to give me cabin fever just watching him. Earlier today he did some zoomies around the kitchen before I could stop him (vet says no tell Jack that!) and then he pounced on one of my couch pillows and proceeded to attempt to rip it apart right in front of me! DUDE! Seriously?! Well mister naughty pants then got a timeout sitting next to me on a leash while I worked on homework.

Did I mention we weren't planning on fostering until I was finished with school this June? Oh well, a dog in need and there we were!

I'm extremely thankful at this point though that we did decide to foster him rather than turn him into the humane society. I know the good folks there are just doing their best but he would be ruined in that environment, and his neurotic tendencies would just worsen instead of improve - which I have to remind myself, we are seeing improvements!

He has figured out crate training really quick!
In fact he enjoys just going in on his own, but sometimes if he's being too rambunctious for a recent surgery patient we put him in his crate with the door open - and he stays! Woo Hoo! And he also calms down.

Today was Jack's appointment with our regular vet, our vet looked at his incision site (it looks great!) we had a heartworm test done (he's clean!) , and we had him micro-chipped! Now we just have a few behavioral issues/training to work out and he'll make a great family dog! And our vet confirmed Jack is about 1 year old.

Silly Boy.
Jack is such a puppy, he is bouncy, silly, has random moments where he chases his tail, and he likes to make sure to get on every one's nerve just a little bit.
Poor Dante as soon as he walks away from his horn it is stolen, Jack then does a silly little prancing dance to show off his newly stolen prize.

He is no longer mounting - or at least not today anyways. Another small victory for us! But he is still an obsessive licker, and I do mean licker.

He licks the floor, the couch, the blankets, the dog beds, Dante, Ziva, me, and pretty much anything else he can get his tongue to. It's still a bit of an arousal issue for him, but we're hoping that it too will diminish just like the mounting has done.

The troublesome twosome! Watch out world, here they come!

This has been a great experience for Ziva so far. She has really warmed up to Jack and now he gets to enjoy her loving face washing's just like Dante after mealtime. And they love to play bitey face games, and have been really gentle with each other so far.

Overall he's been a good boy and we've been really lucky he isn't a dog that loves to destroy things.

Jack still doesn't trust us completely but it's getting better, and his "come" is still not even close to where we would like it but for only having had him for a week i'd say we're making great strides!

Jack is super smart, he's just a little bit of a space cadet. He has "sit" figured out really well, and his eye contact which was lacking when we rescued him last week is now 100%. When he wants something he makes a point to sit super, duper, fast and looks with his piercing eyes right at you.

It's funny, regarding his eyes. I think he looks kind of exotic, a friend of mine said he creeps her out. Some people when they see him in person are put off because he looks, "Scary or dangerous".
In different lights his eyes are almost white, in direct sun they look more blue, and in the dark his eyes seem to glow.

He's kind of a magical dog, don't you think?
What kind of impression do you get when you look into his eyes?

"You will hand over the treats, you will walk away, you will never remember handing over the treats, you will then give me more treats..."
"Look closer, right into my will give the puppy treats..."


"Well, maybe that was too close."

Stay Tuned! More Silly Puppy Updates to Come Soon!

And hopefully he'll keep healing quick so we can run him out next weekend, walks just aren't enough to make this guy happy!

And guess what?! We were featured by Rascal and Rocco! Thanks guys!!

Why Neuter?

I know this is a highly debated topic in the dog world, but it's a decision that so many others must face in owning pets that I thought maybe it would help to share our reasons behind our decision.

Well as of Monday we went ahead and had Jack neutered. 

Jack is Recovering Nicely From Surgery!
The hardest part is keeping him from being active for 7 - 10 days! Except for the first day home, he's been completely pain free. He doesn't seem to understand why we keep him on a leash and don't allow him to run or jump, but so far so good! His incision site is nice and clean and so far healing beautifully.

When we are not home and at night, we keep him in his crate with a soft cone on his head for comfort and to prevent him from licking his incision site.

During the day since we are supposed to be attempting to keep his exercise down I have him on a two ended leash so that I can clip him to my waist, or tether him to things like the coffee table, island in the kitchen, or post on the back deck - this helps to prevent him from jumping up/down on the couch, wrestling with Dante & Ziva, and keeps him from stair running. All of which are forbidden according to the vet until at least day 5!

Right......So a few honest to goodness husky temper tantrums, and lots of fun chewy toys later we seem to have found a routine.

He's not a fan of the cone, but we're using lots of positive reinforcement with it so he is actually pretty good about shoving his own head inside the cone with zero struggle! The cone again - we're only using when we can't supervise him to prevent chewing/licking.

The reasons we chose to neuter Jack:
  • Jack is at least a year old.
  • Jack has some behavioral issues associated with being intact.
    • He attempts to mount every dog he sees, no matter how many times we pull him off, redirect him, give timeouts, reward different behaviors etc..He can't seem to help himself. In Jacks case this is not dominance based or play induced mounting it is simply sexual over arousal and frustration.
      • Chomping, drooling, when watching Dante or Ziva.
      • Obsession to sniff even lick pee, eww gross!
    • He is very easily overstimulated and aroused.
    • Jack runs away, and has terrible focus.   Intact dogs (especially males) are more likely to wander in search of potential mates. Intact males are also more easily distracted by scents including, but not limited to pheromones.
      • Neutered males tend to have better focus and self control.
  • We are not keeping Jack he is a foster, even if he ends up in a wonderful family we do not want him to be bred in the future. Not only is he not a purebred, but we don't know his health history or that of his family, and we do not want to contribute to more puppies in the world who need homes.

Should you spay/neuter your dog?
This is an important decision you make regarding the health and lifestyle of your dog.

Photo Attribution: RoBeE via Flicker
Reasons people don't want to spay/neuter:
  • Concerned that their dog's personality will change - This is a long standing myth.
  • My children should witness our pet giving birth - their are plenty of videos online you can watch please don't contribute to the pet population just for this reason.
  • I want my dog to be protective - a dog's personality is both genetics and how he/she is raised, not sex hormones. Most dogs have a naturally protective instinct that neutering will not decrease.
  • "It's his manhood!"  -  Dogs and cats do not have a sexual identity or ego the way humans do. Your pet will not experience an identity crisis or emotional reaction when spay/neutered. His/her personality will remain the same.
  • "I'll find good homes for the babies."  - Ok, but will those good homes spay/neuter? You can only control your decisions not the decisions of other people. Your pets puppies and kittens, or their puppies and kittens, could end up reproducing animals that end up on the street or in a shelter.

Being a rescue advocate, who encourages adopting a dog from a rescue or local human society I cannot in good conscious agree with the choice to own an intact male or female dog unless the dog is from a reputable breeder and is going to be bred in the future.
Many breeders require puppies who are not suitable for breeding be spayed/neutered. This prevents health problems from being passed on to future generations and ensures that only the best of health and temperament continue on.

Photo Attribution: West Midlands Police via Flickr
Rescues and shelters spay/neuter before adoption to ensure that their dogs aren't bred in the future.

It is important in my mind to have responsible registered breeders, in order for us to breed dogs that are healthier and have wonderful personalities.

Having different breeds are also important because of the strengths and weaknesses that are generally associated with the dog breed. Certain dogs are better at specific tasks like tracking, bomb/firearm detection, drug detection, and different medical service tasks. In looking for a dog to do a specific job both breed and personality of the individual dog are considered.

Besides the obvious one of preventing yet another litter of puppies/kittens their are other reasons to spay/neuter your dog or cat.

Reasons to Nueter
In dogs and cats - males mark their territory by spraying urine. Neutering before this is a habit is most effective but even if you choose to wait it can help to decrease this behavior. One thing I noticed right off with Dante and Jack is that Dante prefers to pee standing with four feet on the ground, similar to a racehorse stance unless he is going out of his way to "mark" something like the tip top of the bush that Jack just peed on. Jack on the other hand is constantly walking around lifting his leg, being very careful to mark all the key spots around the perimeter of the yard - he then walks this perimeter and consistently hits those same spots.

Neutering reduces sexual behaviors such as mounting, masturbating, and excessive licking of themselves or others. More on mounting, in Jack's case he was mounting out of sexual arousal - he had zero self control and we're hoping that his recent neuter will help decrease this behavior. But it's important to note that dogs mount for different reasons, frustration, dominance, puppies mount during play to instigate a game, and dogs will mount due to lack of proper socialization.
Mounting in the doggy world is rude! Properly socialized, well balanced dogs do not mount during play. Mounting during play occurs when a dog becomes over aroused and doesn't know how else to express himself.

Neutering eliminates the chance of testicular cancer.

Neutering can help to prevent hormonally influenced (sexual frustration) aggressive behaviors. Experiences early on in life, and genetics play a role in aggression, but neutering a young male decreases the likelihood of him developing dominance aggression. Both male and female dogs regardless of breed have the ability to show aggression but the statistics show that intact (un-neutered) males are most likely to show aggression. According to the CDC sexually intact males are 2.6 times more likely to bite than neutered dogs.
Photo Attribution: Foundation Animals Service
More on that though, even if your intact male isn't aggressive himself, other dogs may see him as a rival and attack him.

Intact dogs tend to roam. Male dogs will travel miles to find a female in heat if he catches scent of her pheromones.

Neutered males have longer attention spans because they are less distracted by pheromonal stimuli. Rather than looking for females and rivals they pay more attention to you - this is why most service males are neutered.

Reduced risk for ovarian, breast, prostate cancer and reduced risk of perianal tumors and hernias in older dogs.

Research has shown their are good reasons to wait until your dog is older to spay/neuter.

Photo Attribution: Anita Ritenour via Flickr
Spay/Neutering too young can delay the closure of growth plates.

In a study involving Golden Retrievers - dogs spayed or neutered under a year of age were significantly taller than those spay/neutered after a year of age.

Dogs spayed/neutered before puberty tend to have longer limbs, lighter bones, narrower chests, and narrower skulls than intact dogs of the same breed.

Females and sometimes males who are spay/neutered too young have an increased risk of urinary incontinence.

The bottom Line -

What it seems to boil down too, is that especially for canine athletes (agility dogs, flyball, sled-dogs, etc.) their are legitimate reasons to wait until after puberty or at least until your dog is one year of age to spay or neuter so that you don't risk damaging their growth.

Personally I believe the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

If you choose to keep your animals intact please be responsible and keep your animal supervised., Thankful Thursday Weekly Blog Hop, pet centric

More Reading
Ron Hines, DVM, PhD - Aggressive Dogs Info
Dr. Lila Miller, DVM, ASPCA - Why Neuter?
Association of Pet Behavior Counsellors - Canine Aggression
Pets Web MD
Dog Mounting & Dog Dominance Behavior, Pat Miller
Canine Sports Production - Chris Zink, DVM, PhD, DACVP, DACVSMR
Neutering your Male Dog - Pros and Cons. Michele Welton
Benefits of Neutering Male Dogs - Drs. Foster and Smith, Inc. Race Foster, DVM
Human Society of the United States - Myths and Facts

Monday, April 20, 2015

Meet Jack


Ok so we're  HUGE  Dr.Who fans.

As of Thursday we decided to call him Jack! He's a total flirt with his big blue eyes. He's about a year, maybe a year and a half old, tall and thin, an incredible jumper - when he was playing with Dante he reminded me of a jack in the box, and he needs some training.

So far no one is missing him, which makes us pretty happy because I'd like to find him a great home. And tomorrow they're out of time and he's all ours.
We also decided Jack is a mama's boy, he seems to prefer my company to that of hubby's, probably because hubby is currently on vacation and the main one correcting Jack and intervening in playtime when needed.

We're currently working on teaching Jack some basic manners, and encouraging him to interact with us something he wasn't initially inclined to do. For the first couple days  that we had him he was a bit like the shadow in the room rather than a dog.

Here's a Quick Breakdown of How Our Days Have Been Progressing & The Training We've Been Doing.

Day 1:
Day one he had to work for all his kibbles, good behavior was rewarded, anxiety and whining was ignored and he is smart so he started learning pretty quick what behaviors got him what he wanted, be it a treat or playtime outside. Over the course of the day he ate his two meals one kibble at a time, which is a great way to teach a puppy. We want him to know that we are the source of his food, and good behavior is rewarded in our house.

Day 2:
Day two we began giving him small meals so that he can eat with our pups, but since he's still pretty clueless hubby keeps kibbles in a bag all day and is constantly rewarding/feeding him so that we can be rewarding his progress. We've also been working on getting him comfortable in a crate.

He happily enters the crate on his own.

We're rewarding - eye contact, following us, sitting before being let in/outside, sitting when asked, laying down in the crate, when he redirects from harassing Dante & Ziva, ignoring the cats, coming when called...basically anything he is doing good is being rewarded, and he's getting plenty to eat don't worry!

We're ignoring, "behavioral extinction" whining at the door to come in/out, whining in the crate.

The biggest issue we're having is his mounting/sexual excitement.

"I am a Princess and shall be treated thus."

Ziva won't tolerate it and she warns him then corrects him with a bite, Dante doesn't know what to do so we spent most of the day pulling Jack off him and asking him to lay down or putting a leash on him until he was calm again.
The hard part though is that as soon as we released him he'd go back to it, treats didn't even dissuade him.

He doesn't seem to know how to doggy play so when they get running and wrestling he just mounts.

To correct this issue we initially used our slip lead, said "No" while looping him, and then removed him from play.

Mounting = time out to calm down, and then we would release him when he relaxed. Unfortunately doing this for two days - as soon as we'd release him the first thing he would do would be to mount again.

This is a problem for a number of reasons. The first being; not only could we not redirect his behavior through treats or a change of activity, but we didn't feel like he was associating the timeout and "No" with his mounting behavior. The second being that Ziva does not tolerate it when dogs attempt to mount her, resulting in angry snarls and a potential bite/dog fight if Jack decided to not accept her correction. The third issue was that he quickly decided that the leash was something that should be avoided, and what we don't want is for him to run off whenever he sees a leash. In our house leash represents a grand adventure! Something to be excited about, and a reason for a solid sit without being asked, because the dog sitting first is the first one to be leashed up. Dante has this down solid, he'll run up and immediately plant his butt on the ground giving direct eye contact.

All these things led to us using a water bottle set on "mist" to spray him, corresponded with a firm "No".

This is an example of "Positive Punishment" - dog's behavior causes a bad thing to happen. This is definitely not how we prefer to work with dogs, but in this case since his sexual drive and excitement was constantly hitting a level of 10 on a scale of one being almost none, to ten being impossible to control, we felt like it was our only option.
It helped a lot. Only two sprays later and he was correcting his own behavior!

When training we almost always use "Positive Reinforcement", and "Negative Punishment". Dogs learn much faster when you can reward them for what they are doing "correctly" as opposed to using disciplinary actions.

Day 4:
His progress is incredible! At this point he is eating full meals with Dante and Ziva, he's shown zero aggression or resource guarding issues and we're continuing to reward him with treats/clicker training during the day.

He has also become much more interested in what hubby and I are doing, in fact he's become my little shadow, a job usually left to Ziva.

He's greeting us at the door when we enter the house, and he is learning self control. His mounting at this point maybe happened once today, and all we had to say was "No", and he quickly redirected his own behavior to something more productive.

They love to play tug!

When we first got him he didn't understand how to play, but now he is tugging with Dante and Ziva and participating in chase/wrestle games without becoming over-aroused. In fact he's seeming to be more of a medium energy dog than a high energy dog like we originally thought. He's happy to follow me around the house while I do chores, and he quietly lays on the floor.
He is also beginning to snuggle with us on the couch! We've been really impressed with his progress so far and its only been a few days.

Things We're Still Working On:
- "Come", this is sadly a broken word for Jack. We're attempting to resurrect it though with super high value treats in the form of chicken hearts.

- "Jack", we're still working on him responding to his name and we are careful to keep it associated with only good things like pets, belly rubs, and treats.

- Bolting, Jack is clearly used to playing chase when he doesn't want to do something like go into the crate or to his bed for bedtime. The easiest way we've found to get around this with him is to promptly ignore his dancing around like a silly beast, interest him in something else, and then finally reward him when we do catch hold of his collar. In the meantime however he is not safe to have off-leash or un-fenced.

If you have any questions please let me know! 
Here is how we are conducting our training in more detail:

Crate Training

Obedience Training Through Shaping

Teaching Impulse Control

More about "Poisoned" or Broken Words

Bloghop (1)

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Dog Kind of Week

And it Begins

My week has been crazy busy, between school papers, a giant school case project, quarterly performance reports (I work in an investments office), and dogs. I'm just trying to keep my schedule straightened out and right now its a big tangled up mess! Well maybe that's an overstatement...but it is crazy busy.

So it started on Friday with that lost Rottie/Lab Mix named Rebel

Then Annie - 
Annie - still in need of a home.
I was contacted regarding Annie on Saturday - a Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy who's owner needs to re-home her, after a bunch of phone calls one of my friends who couldn't help me with Annie, informed me of Bernard - a Basset Hound/Lab mix who her parents were re-homing due to separation anxiety issues. Unable to help Annie I kept my networking machine running and began to work on Bernard. Same day - new family, a friend of mine wanted Bernard and went and picked him up for an overnight trial run which has turned into a successful week with their family.

And Bernard - 
Bernard, and yes he is a total lover!
Then Jack!

Which leads me to Jack. On Wednesday my neighbor came over to see if one of my dogs had gotten out because he had a brindle in his yard playing with his Jack Russel named Bindy. Well being that my dogs were in the house I grabbed my slip lead and set off to catch the lost dog if I could.
He ended up not being very easy to catch but he loved Bindy so we opened his back gate and pretty soon we had both dogs in a securely fenced yard!

My neighbor ended up going inside to watch me through the window as I tried to get closer to the new fellow. He eventually allowed me to pet him and I gently dropped my slip lead over his head.

If you find a lost/stray dog - if you can get the dog into a fenced yard it makes the dog easier for Animal Control to pick up and keeps the dog from wandering off and possible being hit by a car. If the dog is friendly towards you, and allows you to pet him that is a good time to try and put a leash on him. If however the dog is standoffish, barking, growling, or shying away from you do not try to grab him instead call in an expert. If you grab a dog who does not want to be grabbed you are asking to be bitten - all dogs can bite, and it would be YOUR fault, however the dog would be the one punished.

Animal Control being closed we decided that we'd put him up for the night, my neighbor wasn't comfortable keeping the dog at his house so I told him I'd see if I could integrate him with Dante and Ziva after the hubby got home. 

Best way to bond with a new dog? Go for a walk! We walked until hubby came home and then we slowly began to introduce the dogs. Not knowing his personality we spent about an hour slowly working Ziva up into walking next to him in a neutral location. 
He was very interested in her, but it takes her a while to warm up to new dogs. Her initial reaction was that she didn't like him. After about an hour though they were sniffing nicely and he was showing very positive body language and friendly signals. In fact he never acted out once, even when Ziva corrected him for invading to far into her personal space.

Then we moved onto Dante. His reaction? WHAT, A NEW BEST FRIEND TO PLAY WITH?! AWESOME!! 

With all three dogs getting along beautifully we decided to let them play in our fenced backyard and watch the group dynamics. Leashes at the ready of course, and they did great!

First things is key and having cats my next concern was if he had prey drive. We put him on the leash and I first walked him around the neighborhood - we have lots of outdoor cats in our area, he passed each one by without incident and only a mild interested glance when they scampered off. Feeling pretty good we brought him inside the house, our cats were extremely annoyed at a new dog in their domain but he was perfect! He barely looked at them and was capable of walking by nicely without showing any interest!

Next step? A bath. We had already checked him over for fleas and didn't see anything - thank goodness! Our kiddos are all flea medicated but I still didn't want to deal with that if possible.

Our first night went great! We kept him on a leash in the house just to be safe, and monitored him with the dogs. In the evening he slept in Ziva's crate in our room right next to Dante and Ziva's bed. 

Day 2 - As per Oregon Law we called our local shelter and reported a found stray dog.

Ziva's collar fit him perfectly! Haha!
We decided to call him Jack - more on his name in the next post!

Here is what we initially knew - he has zero training or manners, he is under-socialized and ignores humans as if they aren't in the room, he didn't initially like hubby, terrible leash manners, he's an intact male, he has worms, was terribly dirty, and had zero identification on him when I found him. Since his last family never bothered to care for him they probably won't bother looking for him.

According to the law you have to notify the shelter and make an attempt to find his family - so we also posted a notice on Craigslist. 

After the shelter has been notified, his "family" has three days to claim him, after the three days are up we can re-home him or keep him ourselves. The shelter of course is happy to not take in another dog.

Because Jack was getting on beautifully at our home with our pups and cats, and not wanting to add to the burden of our local shelter, and with their permission we decided that he'd be our next foster dog!

Our best guess is that he was a transients dog who was either left behind or simply wandered off. We live on the edge of a highway and are the last block that is technically inside of city limits, we are constantly seeing transients and hitchhikers with their dogs, and our area tends to be where people dump their animals. Stray and lost dogs are constantly being picked up in our area heading either into or out of town.

Now we just hope no one claims his so that we can get this handsome fellow to a loving family!

Stay Tuned! More about Jack to Come!

FitDog Friday

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

You Don't Deserve That Dog

I Wish We Could Save Them All.

I kind of wish people had to pass a test regarding breed knowledge and get a certificate in order to own a dog of any kind. It makes me really sad when I see dogs whose needs are not being met or dogs who are simply lawn ornaments, fed, watered but ultimately ignored and left outside all the time with minimal human interaction. Why bother even having a dog?

Eyes are the windows to the soul. Dante is my gentle boy.
No your dog does not feel like family if they live outside by themselves. They love you but they are not part of the family or else they would be indoors and a part of the group activities even if that involves laying on their bed and watching.

In the past it was popular for families to have a dog to watch the house, guard the property/livestock, and alert the family to visitors. Sure they loved the dog but the dog was a replaceable asset. Over time people have started to get away from the backyard ownership trend but society still has a long way to go. Science has shown that dogs bond better with their families, are more balanced and socialized, and emotionally need the support of a family unit to be happy. Dog's have feelings and emotions just not in the same way as humans.  Professor Gregory Burns - Canine Emotions  They should be respected, and treated in a loving manner. You can't possibly be a dog lover if your choice of training involves abuse.

Humans who shouldn't have dogs:

The Macho Man. My dog is stronger/bigger than your dog.
These are the people who want a Rottie, "Pit Bull" type dog, Doberman, German Shepard, etc.. just because the dog looks scary and makes them feel like a more powerful individual because they own this dog breed. These owners tend to keep the dog in the backyard, these dogs are generally under-socialized because the owner is incapable of walking them, they use tools like prong collars, chokes, and shock collars. These owners participate in aversive training techniques punishing the dog for his bad behavior, and may in fact be physical with their dog: hit, kick, yell curse words when the dog doesn't "behave"..etc.
Lack of socialization, aversive training techniques and abuse can lead some animals to aggression and others to anxiety and major fear regarding humans, their surroundings, and resources.

The In-Denial. My dog doesn't need training.
Don't worry he's friendly! This is the mantra of the dog owner who refuses to take responsibility for the actions of their dog, often allowing their dog to hang out off-leash. These dog owners feel that their dog is a good dog, would never harm anyone or any dog, and any altercation that occurs is 100% not their dog's fault. These dogs have not been properly socialized and may in fact have dog aggression issues that go unsolved. These dogs are often out of control, they rule their home and may show possessive behaviors such as resource guarding and food aggression. They don't respect human space often jumping on unsuspecting humans without mercy, they drag their owners around on a leash if they are wearing one. They may bark incessantly until they are given what they want, and often seem to be overweight due to their humans love for treating them.

This is an owner whose dog is simply an accessory. These dogs are typically jealous and possessive of their human servants, generally small - these dogs also suffer from anxiety, yappiness, and have been known to bite, which is always excused by said owner.
These owners prefer to carry rather than walk the dog, so the dog ends up under exercised, lacking in social skills, and why bother training him when you can just pick him up when he's being naughty?

The Yellers
These are the owners you hear coming. They repeat commands over and over and over...they are rarely physical towards their dog but profanities and the word "No", are common words in their vocabulary. These owners attempt to control their dog through verbal discipline and loud noises. Certain tones used send pets slinking away because they know it's time to go hide from the Yeller.

It's just a dog.
These owners honestly believe that their dog should behave in the manner of a robot. Using aversive techniques because it's the only way their dog can possibly learn a new behavior these owners expect perfect obedience in an instant with no room for error on the behalf of the dog. Most of these dogs that I've met are broken empty shells, excitement is punished, submissive behavior is looked upon with disgust, they are over looked and ignored unless they step out of line.

Dog at Large
This weekend started off with a bang. My hubby came home to announce he was heading back down the street to help corral a lost dog. He explained that some good Samaritans were trying to catch the dog - and the dog clearly did not want to be caught so grabbing him may result in a bite. He wanted to step in and take over the situation to prevent anyone from getting hurt, including the dog.

Well, I couldn't be left out so we grabbed our slip leash, loaded up on treats and went for a walk!

Sure enough he was right where we though he would be. If you can imagine a yellow Rottweiler that is what he looked like. A big male Rottie/Yellow lab mix, he was curious about the people but any approach in his direction caused him to jump backwards fast in an effort to not be caught. The Good Samaritans called Animal Control who was of course not open and wouldn't be until Monday but a police officer was on his way.

Not the actual dog, sadly I did not get a picture.

Hubby started tossing treats at the big boy, talking softly to him and working to develop some trust seeing how close he could get in a positive manner. We were very careful to move slowly so as not to spook him, and watched his body language closely to figure out what kind of  a personality we were dealing with.

What we saw was a hungry dog, he loved the treats and began taking them from my hubby's hand very gently but quick - he did not want to be caught, and showed lots of stress and anxiety. Any movement of the leash made him really nervous so I enlisted the help of some neighbors to use their backyard. We opened the gate and the hubby lured him into the yard with treats so that we could hold onto him and keep him from running up the highway until we could figure out what to do.

This poor guy was clearly not socialized, a bit underweight, and his aversion to humans, human touch, and fear of the leash led us to believe that he may be abused at home, or at least hit/punished by his family. But he had a huge desire to please, and although he was nervous you could see a wonderful personality under the anxiety. He was gentle regarding the food, and never hackled or barked at us.

He started to bond with the hubby who began to use shaping techniques to make him work for treats instead of just feeding him. Within a few minutes of rewards the boy figured out that laying down in front of hubby meant he'd get a treat, as long as the leash stayed out of it he didn't mind being close.

The officer eventually showed up and was happy to let us handle the situation. My hubby was making good progress with the dog so I watched through the fence with the officer and our neighbors whose yard we had trapped the dog in. Thankfully the dog was wearing tags so we could try to reach his family, but unfortunately the dog was not comfortable with being touched.

We had a couple different people suggest grabbing the collar, why not?
Well that is how you get bit and it would be your fault!

When you corner a dog or grab their collar you force them into fight or flight. Some breeds will panic but not bite, other more confident dogs will bite in an effort to escape. I learned this the hard way a year ago by underestimating a small dog - that story HERE - How Not to Handle a Stray/Lost Dog.

Not a "Pit Bull"

As the neighbors were looking at him it was clear he was a mutt but we still had a couple people call him a "pit bull". We quickly nipped that in the bud. Please don't call all mutt's pit bulls! He was a large breed dog but clearly some sort of lab mix and we were pretty positive he had Rottweiler in him based on his body style and giant Rottie type head that is rather distinguishable..

Hubby quickly realized that the leash was just not going to be a good option because he didn't want to damage all the trust he had been building with the dog. After about an hour of conditioning/shaping exercises hubby was able to start touching the dog gently and rewarding him for allowing himself to be touched, but fast movement sent him jumping backwards.

On a good note he was getting very comfortable with everyone around him and didn't seem to mind us watching quietly - especially my hubby, he ran a few zoomies in the backyard, his facial expressions and ears began to relax and when he retreated to a safe distance it wasn't as far and he came back quicker.

Eventually those of us watching moved inside the house and opened the door to the house to see what he'd do. He came in trotted around quickly sniffed all of us and went back outside with hubby. A bit more work but still not grabbing him - hubby was eventually able to read the city license on his collar and the office called it in.

I hate it when I'm right...
Sure enough a very stereotypical owner showed up for his dog. He was wary of talking to the officer, overweight with long grungy hair and beard, not terribly thrilled that we had found his dog, and sure enough his dog regularly escapes his yard. The Macho Man.

On a high note right before he was dragged off by his owner the dog whose name turned out to be Rebel, jumped up on my hubby and gave him a kiss.

We were sad to see him go home, I can only hope our fears are wrong and that they love him.

In the meantime we can offer our help to those having training difficulties, and attempt to educate people regarding responsible dog ownership and breed knowledge. Not every dog is for every person.

Bloghop (1)

More Sources on Dog Emotions:
Dogs Have Feelings Too - Professor Gregory Burns
Huffington Post - Professor Gregory Burns
Do Animals Have Emotions? Of Course They Do! - Marc Bekoff
Dogs Can Be Optimistic or Pessimistic - Professor Mike Mendl

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

#GetTough on Dog Fighting

National Dog Fighting Awareness Day

Today April 8th, is National Dog Fighting Awareness Day. Dog fighting is alive in the U.S. in many different communities despite that fact that it is illegal. 

Help us to end this cruel blood sport. According to the ASPCA their are 10 ways you can help.

Pit Bull type dogs are one of the most commonly abused breeds associated with dog fighting and have suffered much as a whole population thanks to the actions of a few sadistic people. 

The once loved nanny dog known for their non-aggression towards humans has been badly smeared by the media and now is currently suffering from Breed Specific Legislation where they are banned in certain areas. Due to their reputation as "fighting dogs" and the myth that they are all aggressive these dogs attract some of the worst owners - people who want a dog that looks tough, or mean, looking for a protection dog, or a property dog. 

It's important to understand that the cases you read about in the news are designed around selling news and creating sensation. If a chihuahua bites someone it won't make waves, but a "pit bull" can spark outrage and hate. The truth is that ANY dog can bite, but NO dog bites without a reason. Bad owners, lack of socialization, and abuse can create behavioral problems and ultimately lead to a bite. This is true for ANY breed not just "pit bulls".

Facts about Dog Fighting

Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states.

Dogs that fight are trained to never give up - even if they are seriously injured or killed.

Trainers use "bait" -  dogs that won't fight back, cats, and other small animals to train their dogs.

Participants in dog fighting come from all walks of life with different backgrounds. From teachers, law enforcement, sports celebrities, judges, and other community leaders.

Fights can take place anywhere: playgrounds, backyards, large parks, even street corners.

Fighting dogs can be beaten, starved and/or given drugs to encourage aggressive behaviors.

Losing dogs are often executed in a brutal fashion as part of the fight's "entertainment".

Man's Best Friend
Dogs are wonderful and loving creatures, no animal should be put through the experience of fighting. Please report animal abuse and any suspected fighting to your local law enforcement. Not reporting abuse or fighting is just as bad as being personally involved.

Dogs Can Change - Rescued Dog Fighting Victims Are Not Broken.
With patience, love and training - so long as their is no serious medical issues involved rescue dogs can be healed and find successful loving forever homes. A big and recent public example is the Vicktory Dogs rescued from Michael Vicks dog fighting ring in 2007. Of the 50 dogs seized from Vicks fighting ring, one was euthanized for dangerous aggression. 22 of the most problematic dogs were taken in by Best Friends Rescue for long term rehabilitation or court ordered permanent Sanctuary placement.  The rest of the dogs went to regional and national pit bull rescue groups to be placed up for adoption. 

As of 2014, 12 of the 22 Best Friends rehab dogs had been adopted in total, some with other dogs, children, and even a cat.

Photo source: Best Friends
Vicktory Dog - Handsome Dan Photo Source: Best Friends

Help us Take a Stand to Support Stronger Laws Against dog fighters and Animal Abusers Fight Cruelty - ASPCA Advocacy Center

Other Sources:
Vicktory Dogs Update - Huff Post 2014
Vicktory Dogs - Barkpost
Common Pit Bull Myths 
History of the American Pit Bull Terrier.
Pit Bull Cruelty Facts - ASPCA

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Agility Fun Part VI

Agility Part VI
Training Fun!

In Case You Missed It!
Agility With Ziva

This past weekend we focused on training, it was my last weekend before heading back to school and once again hitting the books but at least it's my last term! Hooray!

The sweet smell of spring!

This weekend we had my boss come over with his Jack Russel named Cooper to teach him how to Shape Behaviors, we also worked with my neighbor and her Black Lab/Rottweiler mix girl named Bella.

I was super impressed at how quickly Bella took to the shaping, her mama already has trained her to do a number of tricks mostly through luring so she is used to learning new concepts.
Shaping takes luring to a different level because you are asking them to figure out what you want without really asking.  More on Shaping HERE.

Ziva's new trick we're shaping is a bow.
We started out with a flat cardboard box, she quickly learned that putting her feet on the box meant treats - and being highly treat motivated it only took a couple tries before she was doing it consistently. We then upped the ante by introducing her to a stool, the goal being for her to put her two front paws on it - again without any commands or luring. She caught on really quickly, within maybe ten minutes she was running up to the stool from a distance and putting her feet on it so that she would receive her payout.
Even when we were done training she insisted on standing on the stool, and when we ignored her because we hadn't asked for the behavior she began barking at us! It was really funny!

Cooper on the other hand was quite distracted by the new environment and more interested in smelling the sidewalk than training. But he too began to realize that the box meant treats.
In his case we needed a higher value of treat, and I was able to send my boss home with homework - his goal is to get Cooper more excited to train, and to find a higher value treat that makes Cooper want to work. I also was able to show off some of Ziva's skills.

Agility Practice Fun
Because of our bout with kennel cough our trainer allowed us to makeup our missed agility days by hitting the ring outside of class! So this past weekend we focused on doggy training, trying to hone some of our skills so that we can really impress when we go back to class this week.

Here is one of the courses hubby and I set up for some practice. We've been working hard on her "wait" command.
"Wait" for us is a command that is essentially a standing "stay". We use it for getting in/out of the car, entering/exiting doors, and waiting for me to release her to fetch her ball. I personally like it for agility because I think she moves quicker from a stand than a sit - we'll see this week if our trainer likes it.

*Editors Note - I forgot to mention, after the click, I reward Ziva by throwing her tennis ball low to the ground, this keeps her speed up and she loves her ball!

I also worked hard in the yard over the weekend, and sure enough it was a good plan because the rain is now upon us! But at least the yard is mowed, weeds pulled, and I tackled a nasty climbing rose that was out of control. As you can see, the dogs worked really hard...

Heart Like a Dog

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