Posts Tagged ‘dog behavior’

Having worked in animal rescue and health care for decades, countless times I’ve said the words: “There aren’t bad dogs. There aren’t bad owners. But there ARE bad matches”.

I am not the only one. Trainers see it over and over again- owner personalities clashing with dog personalities.

 Roger Hild , a long-time dog trainer in Canada, has put together a wonderful “test” which may help understand the conflicts. If used correctly, it may help prevent mismatches!

Having some insight into a relationship, even a dog-owner relationship can help improve it.

Want to know how your relationship rates and see potential areas for problems or improvements? Check out his People & Pooches Personality Test.

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Recently a friend relayed an analogy she’d heard about “meet & greets” with dogs. The speaker compared dogs & their owners’ introductions to the receiving line at a wedding. It was cute and obviously memorable. I’ll probably be using it in classes, but I’ll be elaborating on it.

In a receiving line, things are kept moving along. Conversation is a couple sentences long –“the flowers were gorgeous.” ” The bride’s dress was beautiful.” Things like that. Seldom do you see a fight break out in a receiving line. I never have seen it, but I imagine it IS possible. Things are kept moving so people can’t get in trouble.

I believe because everyone around is also on best behavior and being “hall monitors” that adds the unlikihood of a fist fight occuring. Uncle Fred could say to the bride “how far along are you?”  Not typical receiving line conversation and not expected.  It throws off the whole energy of the people in the line.

What happens next depends on lots of other factors.

It could be a private joke between the two and the bride can laugh it off, choosing to ignore it. OR it can strike a nerve and make the bride bristle a little. The reaction of the bride can set off a whole chain reaction up and down the receiving line. Have a line full of people ready for a fight and it could get really ugly. Have a line full of people able to deal with inappropriateness correctly and politely and the situation could be diffused quickly.

We want our dogs to be able to deal with inappropriateness correctly and politely. Most times we have to intervene for our dogs to make sure that things are diffused. Meaning we also have to be able to deal with inappropiateness correctly and politely. That means we always have to be paying attention!  Not just to our dog, but to the other dog as well. Is the dog on the receiving end of your dog’s meeting enjoying the encounter? Is your dog doing something unexpected? Is the other dog able to laugh it off or is it striking a nerve? Be the next person in the receiving line asking to keep things moving. Diffuse it calmly but assertively.

The analogy goes on to talk about the reception. It’s easy to have a fight at a wedding reception. Just adding alcohol makes the likelihood rise. {Side note: I wonder if Labs would be the happy drunks of the dog world…would Chessies be the mean drunks?}

Dogs shouldn’t be visiting the cash bar for the behavior-changing chemical called alcohol, BUT there is another behavior- changing chemical we ALL carry around with us -adrenalin.

Dogs can overdo it and get drunk on it. It’s our job to be their parent and designated driver all rolled up into one. First, making sure they don’t over-imbibe on this powerful biochemical in the first place it the best scenario.

Second, keep them out of trouble if they do over-indulge until they can sleep it off. This means enforcing a time out- a long down stay works wonderfully for this!

When we meet a dog on the street, then, remember to keep things quick and polite. Pay attention to the body language and reaction of BOTH dogs. If things get tense, move away and take a time out-for both you AND your dog! Don’t let the energy of the situation build. Be in control and keep things moving along -“Your dog is gorgeous. Time for us to go smell some flowers”.

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It’s coming up on 7 weeks since RePoe entered our lives. In the last couple weeks, we’ve been making larger steps towards normalcy. They’re still tiny compared to dog with good beginnings, but they’re big in RePoe’s mind.

He’s a dog who’s spent most of his life in a box. He’s content to stay in his box. We’re slowly showing him life outside his box. Sometimes he’s not happy about it, but after he gets over the initial apprehension, he takes it all in and deems it not so bad after all.

He doesn’t flatten himself out in response to our approach anymore, but rather sits up fairly straight.

He willing gets in and out of the vehicle.

He’s now allowed our BST sessions numerous places inside and out, while I’m standing completely upright, when I’m sitting in a chair, when I’m on the floor.

He’s now graduated to giving some tongue flicks. This is a signal I welcome. It means he’s moving from completely shut down surrender to subtle communication-subtle, normal dog communication!

I finally got to cut his toenails. The professional groomer in me was driven mad daily by looking at them and hearing them click on the floor. But we had to be patient. He still wasn’t at totally on board with the idea, but I was comfortable enough taking the risk knowing I wouldn’t lose too much ground in our progress.

His back feet were easy. He was trying to plaster himself against the back of his crate. I just crawled part-way in and did them with him sitting straight up.  His front left foot was a little bit of a challenge. He really HATES having his front feet handled. He pulled his leg away, but wasn’t in a huge panic like before. His right front foot was the one closest to the crate wall. He didn’t want me to have it. When I finally took it firmly, but gently he did something awesome. Not awesome in a way most dog owners would think of, but as a trainer and his confidant, it was awesome to me.

He took my left hand, the hand holding his foot, into his mouth!

This dog was communicating with me. He didn’t bite, he did nothing more than mouth my hand extremely gently. This one gesture was so full of communication, I was touched. But not so much as to stop my automatic game show buzzer warning to let him know it wasn’t acceptable people communication. He didn’t panic or freak and my calm rebuff of his behavior.  He immediately removed his mouth and let me finish his nails.

A little while later, I even went back and scissored his feet. Whew. The groomer in me now can rest at ease for a while.

The trainer in me won’t be able to rest for quite a while yet, however. There’s a whole world to show him out there!

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RePoe wanted to follow me today in the house today with no lead. No hiding. He came up the stairs and stood at the gate while everyone else ate supper. He stayed on the landing so I fed him there (the first time he ate outside of his crate) and stayed there when he had finished. He asked to come through the gate with his body language and his eyes.

So I opened the gate. He came through the kitchen and pranced down the hall to his crate in the bedroom.

That was a huge step forward for RePoe.

Just as I was basking in the glow of that happy moment, Mark came in the driveway with the new addition.


What a wonderful day…..

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Trailing Arbutus, Hepatica, Goldthread, Violets, Marsh Marigolds.

Winter Wrens, Sandhill Cranes, Ovenbirds, White-throated Sparrows.

Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs.

Seeing these plants blooming or hearing these animals singing are all sure signs Spring has finally made its way to the Northwoods.

Not far behind will be the many wildlife babies sharing our space. Already Northwoods Wildlife Center  (NWC) has baby black bears, squirrels, bunnies and crows among its first babies admitted for care.

In years past, dog attacks were responsible for 3.37%-10.92% of patients admitted to NWC. The average of the last decade is 6.22%. That’s roughly 49 patients per year admitted because someone didn’t have control of their dog.

Sometimes the dog kills the mom and leaves behind orphans. Sometimes the dog manages to chase down and actually attack a fawn. Sometimes the dog is just being a dog and sniffs out a nest of cottontail rabbits in the lawn.

How can we as responsible dog owners also be responsible environmental stewards?

The most obvious answer it to train your dog. No chasing after wildlife. At the very least your dog should have an impeccable recall and a steady leave it or off command.

Dogs are dogs and driven by instinct, so keep an eye your dog and what she’s doing. They are similar to kids in the fact they can get into trouble quickly.

What happens if, despite all your good intentions and watchfulness, your dog disturbs some wild babies?

First, leash or confine your dog so no further damage can be done.

Then call your local wildlife rehabilitation center. Many times they can instruct you on how to return animals to their proper moms. If that’s not possible, they can advise you what’s best for the animal.

NEVER feed an orphan unless instructed to do so by a professional. Wildlife need very special diets and milks. Using something you may have around the house can cause gastric crisis very frequently ending in the animal’s death.

We all can share our space with a little training and planning.

Baby Flying Squirrel

Baby Flying Squirrel

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Yesterday was customer appreciation day at Culver’s restaurant. Butterburgers for a buck. Seeing as hubby & a friend were working on the training building, I figured I’d stop and get them something to eat.
As I pulled in, I saw a couple with a cell phone standing off to the side. It seemed a little odd, but I thought they were waiting to meet someone. I pulled around back thru the drive-thru. When I had finished and pulled out, I was what the couple was watching:

Two gorgeous huskies, one red & one chocolate. They were lying on the gravel shoulder of the divided highway munching on a deer carcass.
I pulled over to the couple to get some details. They weren’t theirs. Someone was looking for them.
I got out with a couple bags of treats & a couple kennel leads. I made my way on a diagonal towards them so just the drainage ditch separated us. I shook the treat bags & encouraged them. The chocolate one immediately took a few steps toward me & then sat. The other one decided to stop munching the carcass & barked at me.
My wildlife rescue training kicked in & I thought I’d circle around to the side of them to herd them off the shoulder and at least to the “safe” side of the drainage ditch. As I got to the highway, they started across the ditch to the couple with the phone. And promptly blew by them & paralleled me.
I then made my way back to head them off. I managed to have the chocolate one gingerly eating a treat from my hand as an SUV pulling a U-haul pulled up with a panicked woman shouting the dogs’ names. The dogs were totally disinterested. Two men got out of the SUV and joined the woman. All 3 frantically calling the dogs whom finally went to them.
The panicked woman thanked me, said they were her sister’s dogs. She opened one back door of the SUV to load them in, one of the men opened the other as I stood there just in case the dogs were just going to go in one side & out the other.They didn’t.
I couldn’t help but wonder if the people were scared enough this time to actually train the dogs to WAIT & to COME or if next time they wouldn’t be so lucky.

I went home with cold food & wet shoes. And a warm heart it all ended well.

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We ordered the rubber flooring for our new training facility! Yahoo. That means we’re that much closer to opening! I won’t open without rubber flooring to make training easier on the dogs’ bodies.

We decided on Dandy Products Top Dog Flooring. We should have it in a few weeks.

We also just have 6 ceiling panels left to put up. I’ll be very happy to not have to be on scaffolding holding panels.

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