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Posts Tagged ‘life’

Yesterday the dog training world lost a remarkable man who taught me lots. I’ll miss him.

Enjoy all the company you have waiting for you at the Bridge, Dick Russell. You left a wonderful legacy to balanced training.

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In the Northwoods of WI, wolves are becoming more common as their population increases. Just as in other parts of the country, wolves invoke lots of emotion. Conflicts with wolves are increasing.

Here are some tips from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website to help us live with wolves and reduce conflicts:

Wolves are shy and generally avoid humans. Most people will never see a wolf, let alone have a conflict with one. Wolves can, however, lose their fear of humans through habituation and may approach camping areas, homes or humans. When this happens, there is an increased possibility for conflict between wolves and humans.

While seeing a wolf is a memorable experience, like any other wild animal, you should use caution when they are close.

Below are guidelines that you can follow to decrease the chance of wolf habituation and conflict while living and visiting wolf country.

 

Living in wolf country Camping in wolf country

 

Watching wolves in wolf country
Do not feed wolves.  Cook, wash dishes and store food away from sleeping areas.  Keep the following in mind when viewing wolves close:
Feed all pets indoors; leave no food outdoors. Pack out or dispose of garbage and left over food properly. Do not feed wolves 
Dispose of all food and garbage in cans with secure lids. Suspend food, toiletries and garbage out of reach of any wildlife.   Do not entice wolves to come closer 
Do not feed wildlife: attracting any prey animal may attract wolves. Keep pets near you at all times.

 

Do not approach wolves 
Hang suet feeders at least 7 feet above the surface of the ground or snow.   Leave room for a wolf to escape. 
Don’t leave pets unattended outside: dogs and cats are easy targets for wolves    Do not allow a wolf to approach any closer than 300 feet 
If pets must be unattended in the yard, keep them in a kennel with a secure top

 

Aggressive or fearless wolves in wolf country:

If a wolf acts aggressively (growls or snarls) or fearlessly (approaches humans at a close distance without fear) take the following actions:

Raise your arms and wave them in the air to make yourself look larger.  

Back away slowly; do not turn your back on the wolf.  

Make noise and throw objects at the wolf.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reality of Wolf Attacks in North America

It is important to keep wolf attacks in perspective. There has been only one case of a healthy, wild wolf killing a person in North America in the last 100 years. Most wolves are not dangerous to humans and there is a greater chance of being killed by lightning, bee sting or car collision with a deer than being injured by a wolf. The injuries that have occurred were caused by a few wolves that became fearless of humans due to habituation. Nonetheless, like bears and cougars, wolves are instinctive predators that should be kept wild and respected.

Information from International Wolf Center, Ely, MN    http://www.wolf.org/wolves/index.asp

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Today we did another photo shoot. We originally were schedule to shoot last week. It was an outdoor shoot and the weather last week wasn’t desirable. It was postponed until today, the day after our big “dog party”. The weekend we have a bunch of dogs and people over for dog fun- this year we had 20 dogs.

I knew when we rescheduled it for today I could have adrenalin-hung over dogs to handle. And maybe a little tired and sore added in there too. I didn’t think it’d be too much of a problem. The shot was to involve 2 little girls, big dogs and a wading pool.

We were doing the shoot on location and therefore not in the studio, but at a photographer’s house where there was green grass. They wanted green grass and sun. The original date had been overcast and cool…good dog weather, but not for the kids. Today was 88 degrees and high humidity. Good pool weather for the kids, but probably the worst weather to try to work Leonbergers-in full sun no less. I was hoping they would last a little bit before melting right into the pool.

We all met at the studio and then caravanned out to the location- a nice country home on a county highway with some acreage and no fencing.

I got out to survey the site while leaving the dogs in the air conditioned truck. I was greeted by 4 loose fowls strutting around the yard. Ledum saw them from the truck immediately. They were rounded up and placed in the hen and rabbit house facing the set up wading pools.  One rooster protested LOUDLY to this roundup. Ledum was following very closely from the truck.

When I knew the birds were secure I let the dogs out of the truck. Ledum’s brain was fully engaged in roosters. He knew where they were and he wanted to get a snuffle. He doesn’t hurt things, but he likes to chase them to snuffle and slime them. Snuffling a rooster was the ONLY thing he could get into his head. I had a leash and flat collar on him, but he was trying to convince me the most important thing in the whole wide world was snuffling a rooster.

I got Ledum, Mara and Tringa out of the truck. Ledum was super jazzed and it took me quite a lot to get him under some semblance of control. Mara and Tringa were put in a down while I was trying to bring Ledum back to earth.

While that was going on, the two little girls (7 and 4) were getting introduced to the dogs. Like our first photo shoot a few weeks ago, the youngest wanted NOTHING to do with the dogs.

While the photographers (3 all together) were setting up equipment, the mom and I were trying to get the youngest to just touch a dog-even fluff I pulled from Tringa and had in my hand. No success.

Then it was time for the fun.

The first shot they wanted was Ledum sitting in the wading pool towering over looking down at the tiny, youngest girl obviously upset he was in HER pool. The girl would have none of it. We had to use the older child. Ledum kept turning his head to look at the roosters and rabbits. He doesn’t have a good WATCH ME command…something I’ve never really taught him but is now top on my to-do list. We used toys and motions and all sorts of inventive things to get him to at least appear to be looking down at the girl. The girl’s job was to look up at Ledum, right in his face, with visual frustration. They wanted her hands in a certain way, her face held a certain way, her knees placed just so. Trying to get both the dog and the child to do what they wanted simultaneously was fairly challenging.

It was so hot Ledum was not interested in playing this game. True, he was sitting in a pool of water, but he was fading.

So the photography director who owned the house thought maybe a live rabbit would help Ledum focus where he need to be. Absolutely, it would focus his attention for sure.

Keep in mind, he is sitting in the pool approximately 10-15 feet (I moved around) in front of me. No leash. Mara and Tringa are in a down about the same distance behind me in the shade. They also are unleashed and aren’t even wearing a collar.

Rabbit came out and sat between director’s legs. She was caressing it and trying to get it to move in a more enticing manner. Ledum was sitting in the pool VERY interested, but kept his sit in the pool.

Then….the rabbit squirmed loose and was hopping away.

I grabbed Ledum as he leapt out of the pool. He tried to get me to lawn ski behind him after the rabbit, but didn’t succeed. It was taking me all I had to keep that from happening, but while I was working to keep Ledum under control, the bunny hopped right past Mara and Tringa. It was too much for them. They broke their downs and were off.

So there was the bunny, with Mara and Tringa following with all 3 photographers bringing up the rear-all headed towards the road. My commands were falling on deaf ears while I was getting a leash on Ledum hooking it to a conveniently located post on the patio. With Ledum secure, I could join in the chase.

As soon as I rounded the corner of the garage and said Mara! Tringa! OFF. COME. They stopped and came to me. The rabbit had come back in a circle and the director got it back into the pen. No one was hurt. I wasn’t too happy Mara and Tringa broke, but the photographers thought they were awesome because they could have had the rabbit more than once, but showed great self control. HA! Guess it’s all in the perception…

We continued on from that by doing some shots of all 3 dogs in the pool with the girl standing outside the pool. The youngest refused to do that, too. The older girl did these shots too. At least for these shots, the dogs didn’t have to look down into a face so it was much easier.

Then the kids were done. We shot a few more of Mara holding the hose with the water running filling the pool for the Leos.

It had been over an hour and half baking in the sun. We were all toasted and it was time to go home. The director’s husband walked with me to the truck. He complimented me on how well behaved my dogs were. They were incredible and I should be proud. They were much better behaved than the child…

I got in the truck and drove home, laughing and shaking my head most of the way home. Good thing I have a sense of humor.

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Happy Memorial Day

Quig and Mara say Thanks!

Thanks to all who have served and continue to serve!

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Honor Ky Day

Today marks a year since Ky left his broken earthly vessel. I can’t say the year has flown by, but neither has it dragged too excruciatingly slowly. In the beginning it was pretty difficult. I felt lost. It’s gotten easier to function without him next to me as time has passed.  It took until February before I could even mention his name in my group classes without choking up.

I truly believe he brought Quig into our lives-probably as much for Quig as for me. It hasn’t been until the last couple months I healed enough to really focus on the gift he brought me in Quiggers. I’ve just begun to notice how similar Quig is to what Ky was when Ky first came to us. This realization has opened some new thoughts in my head and allowed me to get deeper into Quig’s.  That process is actually opening up my heart enough to let Quig in down deep and proper where dogs belong.

I’m seriously thinking Quig may be my next demo dog. While that’s been thought about before with Ledum (before he got off the plane & we saw his structure), and Tringa (before her ghastly hip report), even with Quigger’s questionable hips, he may actually be the one.

It’s true that I put whatever dog living in our house to whatever task they’re up for. Ledum has very bad structure. He works teaching first aid students about bad structure and its risks. He also gets to help out in puppy class by lying on the floor and playing with puppies. He loves this! He trots his big frame out and sends them all running with his size and then lies on the floor to become their furry trampoline.

Tringa does well as the main therapy dog. Lying quietly in school being read to and being fawned over with treats at intervals makes her very happy.

Mara is the original Ky-assistant-to-become-replacement. She helped him do lots of things. Now she does things he used to do and some of her own things. For some reason, though, people assume because of her breed (GSD) she just does these things naturally without training. That misconception makes it difficult to convince people their own dog can dog be trained to do these things also. Having a Leo for a demo dog helps show people any dog, even theirs, can be trained. Quig may help with people understand this.

Today I’ll take some quiet me time, some cry time, some happy time.

 I’ll spend some training time working on Quig’s fetch and general compliance to the high standard Ky set.

And Ky will be honored.

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Recently I saw an article that stated the number one complaint state forest rangers receive from the public in the state forest campgrounds concerns dogs. Complaints range from barking dogs left unattended on campsites, running loose in the campgrounds, dogs on beaches and in picnic areas to serious dog bites.

The rangers’ response to this was, of course, to strictly enforce the pet regulations -with good reason.

As a responsible pet owner, this saddens me greatly.

Something about being the setting of the Northwoods makes vacationing visitors think they don’t have enforce good dog behavior. Common sense seems to take a vacation, too.

Yes, we have trees and lakes and fresh air. Your dog can enjoy all this without having to run loose, chase wildlife and be a nuisance to residents (people and animals).

We have dangers not found in the urban environment: bears, porcupines, wolves. We have some dangers found in the urban environment: cars, poisons, skunks, other dogs.

It’s not all tourists contributing to this problem, however.

I would say one of the biggest complaints I hear from my clients is out of control dogs…but not THEIR dogs. Out of control dogs accosting their now mannerly dogs while they’re out on a walk…or even worse yet, their own yard!

This isn’t unusual. Trainer’s across the country talk about advice to give their clients about this problem. Some suggest carrying stun sticks-small stun guns. They say the sound of the static charge is usually enough to scare a dog off. This equipment is illegal is some places. The state of WI is one place this is illegal. Others suggest an air horn to scare off the offending canine. Trouble with that is it’ll most likely scare your own dog, too. On the way to work a couple weeks ago, I saw a woman walking her dog on the sidewalk. She was carrying a big, over-sized plastic wiffle ball bat. I suppose some people wondered why she was walking her dog with a bat. I didn’t wonder. I offered it up as a solution to some of my clients. It’s lighter than heavy walking sticks some carry.

If you find yourself out on a walk being approached by a strange dog, first thing- get your dog under control.  The SIT command is great for this. Step between your dog and the approaching dog. Your dog is trained and should hold his SIT behind you. Watch the approaching dog and trust your dog to do what you told it to do. Then protect your dog. You are the leader so act like it. Chase the offender off.  Use your air horn, walking stick or your BOOT.  Then work on getting your dog and yourself to safety.

One thing I will start recommending my clients carry on their walks is called Direct Stop or SprayShield. It’s a citronella-based spray similar to pepper spray. It sprays 10 feet. There are about 12 one-second sprays in a can and it’s reasonably priced. I’ve heard good things about it.

If you run into the same person(s) and dog(s) out of control on your walk, maybe educating them is an option. The more trained dogs with responsible owners we have out and about, the better equipped we will be as a group to defend ourselves and our rights.

Offer to walk together so you can be an example of a responsible dog owner without being in their face about it. Offer helpful, honest tips that may have helped you in the early stages of training. Don’t be confrontational. Remember what it was like to not have control of your own dog. Maybe discreetly place the business card of a trainer under the windshield wiper of their car while they’re chasing down their dog. Be helpful and use it as a training opportunity!

If the offending party is not approachable, make sure you and your dog stay safe-even if that means maybe having to find another place to frequent. Exposing your dog to potential attacks, unbalanced energy and negative experiences can make him lose trust in you. That can be very hard to rebuild.

The bottom line is to be polite and use common sense…even when on vacation!

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I was watching our youngest, Seda, the-now-8-month-old Swissy, wrestle with our current board and train, a 5-month-old Golden. I couldn’t help but think how different our dogs’ lives are than most typical pets.

Our dogs have a very active life. We walk twice a day at least, some days more than twice, and often times several miles. When I say several miles, I mean several miles for the humans. The dogs are off-lead and putting on many, many more miles than we are.

We share our lives with wildlife. We feed the birds, squirrels, chipmunks and whatever comes around.

The dogs are not allowed to harass the wildlife. They can watch from a distance, but not chase, bark at or otherwise pester. Because Mark is a wildlife rehabber, currently a bear cub and a baby gray squirrel are downstairs. The dogs aren’t allowed to interact with them, but they can certainly smell them in their house, hear them when they fuss and watch from a safe distance as Mark feeds them.

We foster dogs. Often there are dogs coming and going. We overnight dogs for evaluations or take them into our house for board and trains. When we do this, they are treated as one of our own, so our pack better be pretty welcoming (and they are).

Our dogs all help me teach classes and lessons for other dogs and their people. Some days, depending on my schedule, it means they have to spend a good portion of their day away from the comfort of their house (read that our comfy larger-than-king-sized bed). Some days they have to wait patiently in the kennel at the vet clinic with its own set of smells, sounds and activities.

When most people think of working dogs typically service dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, police dogs and the like come to mind. But our dogs are working dogs.

They have to earn their keep by being good role models for all they come in contact with.

In return, we keep them healthy physically by watching their weight, feeding high quality food and giving them exercise. We also keep them healthy mentally by training them so they can be included in all our activities and challenging their minds.

This should be basic to every dog owning house. All dogs should do some kind of work to earn their keep -even if the work is something as simple as sitting for supper or waiting at the door and not jumping on people. The goal should be to make your dog a working dog.

So really our dogs shouldn’t lead lives so much different than yours.

Well, except for the bear cub downstairs!

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