Archive for the dog Category

5 Tips to Perfect Training Technique

Posted in dog, dog training, howto, pets with tags on January 30, 2015 by rattlerjen

Training is like learning a sport

Can you play your favorite sport by just watching your favorite superstar on TV?

Dog training is just like learning a new sport. The skills, timing, and technique can only be learned with practice and a coach to help with your technique.

soccer-ball

Does it seem like your dog knows what you are saying?

Dogs are masters at learning body language. They are always watching us for clues to what we are doing or what we want.  They probably have no idea what we are saying with our voice, but they sure do know what we are saying with our body! This is why proper technique is essential when teaching your dog something new.  Extra body movements can be confusing to a dog, often they just give up trying to pay attention to you and become frustrated.

There are 5 Techniques

1. Hands in Neutral Position

abs

Keep both of your hands at your waist.  Only move them if you are delivering a treat or giving a hand signal.

2. Bend your knees

backwardknee

This gives the dog a visual at their eye level that a food reward is coming right now! Bend your knees enough so your extended hand will be at your dogs mouth without bending over.  Which brings us to…

3. Back Straight

squat

Keep your back as straight up and down as you can.  Imagine you have a wire coming out of the top of your head.  Like a puppet, you are suspended by this wire from the ceiling. As you bend your knees into a squat, your back will remain upright.  This prevents us getting into the dog’s space. This can be confusing to many dogs, “Does the person want me to lick his face, play, or backup?”  For some dogs, leaning over them can even be threatening.

bend

Have a dog that ignores you unless you have a treat? Read #4

4. Click, Pause, Straighten

Your treat hand is loaded with treats and kept frozen in neutral position. As soon as your dog does the behavior you want, you click, pause, then straighten your arm directly to his mouth and give him the treat.  Be sure there is a pause between the click and the movement of your arm.

 If you move your treat hand towards your treat pouch or toward your dog’s mouth at the same time or before you click, he will learn to only do something if he thinks he is getting a reward.  This will train your dog to watch your hand after you say a command to see if you are going for a reward or not.  If your hand only moves when you are going to reward him, he will learn to ignore you when your hand does not move.

So, keep your hand still until after the click.

5. BAM!

Straighten your arm with a flash to your dog’s mouth.  Your hand should be a blur.  If you move too slow, you dog may begin jumping up to meet the treat half way.  Yes, they can get bored that quickly!  Keep your hand at your dogs mouth until he has the treat in his mouth. Then, return your hand back to neutral position.

bam

Do your best to mimic the correct technique.  Video tape yourself and practice over and over again until you have it right.  A good dog trainer can coach you through the process and help with your technique.

Happy Training.

Reference: Dr. Sophia Yin DVM http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/dog-training-is-a-technical-skill-treat-delivery-speed

Safely securing a Kong to a crate

Posted in dog, how to, pets with tags on December 29, 2013 by rattlerjen

This is wonderful for introducing a dog to the wonders of his nice safe den, the crate!

Materials

  • kong
  • short eye bolt
  • nut (comes with eye bolt)
  • washer
  • one and a half inches of double sided scotch tape
  • carabiner
  • socket wrench long enough to fit into kong

20131229-224324.jpg
step 1. Put eye bolt through the small hole in the kong.

20131229-224544.jpg
step 2. Place double sided tape over end of wrench
20131229-224900.jpg
Step 3 Put nut on top of tape and push the nut and tape into the socket.

Step 4 Place washer over the end of the socket wrench pressing firmly on the tape sticking out of either side of wrench.
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Step 5 Place middle finger through eye bolt and pick up kong with big hole facing down.

Step 6 Put socket wrench through the hole in kong. It helps to find the bolt by aiming for your finger through the eyebolt on the outside of the kong and gently feel for the bolt.

Step 7 Tighten the nut until finger tight. Don’t tighten too much!

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Step 8 Attach carabiner to the eye hook.

Step 9 Stuff the kong with peanut butter, wet food, kibble, cheese, or other goodies. You may even freeze to make it last longer.

Step 10 Attach the kong to the back inside of the crate near the bottom so the kong is laying on its side. In order for your dog to have the kong he must be inside the crate. Start with the door open the entire time. After many days you may close the door for longer and longer periods while you dog is enjoying his kong.

Save a Hero’s Life

Posted in dog, life with a working dog, pets with tags , , on October 11, 2013 by rattlerjen

This dog can do anything!

pyro_look

Help him work again

Pyro is a dog on my Search and Rescue team that does it all.  He can climb anything, find anything, do pretty much anything. Right now he is need of some help.  For some unknown reason, he has developed an infection that is costing his wonderful handler a bit of cash and a ton of heartache.  She will do anything for this dog, and this dog will do anything for her. HIs handler/owner is broken to pieces over this boy and she will not give up.

Every tiny bit helps

Long time readers know I do not post about charities on this site. This dog is special. If you can only give a dollar, go for it. Nothing is too small.  If you cannot give a dime, spread this post around. Maybe someone you know can give something. Pyro has done so much to help humans. We can do something to help him. Find his story and Donate now at the link below.

pyro

Donate now through Go Fund Me

http://www.gofundme.com/4qv66s

How to Make A Dog Food Puzzle Toy

Posted in dog, dog training, howto, pets with tags , , on May 23, 2013 by rattlerjen

It’s easy and takes less than 10 minutes!

Materials:

Pvc toy materials

  • Drill
  • 1/2 inch drill bit
  • 3″ Diameter PVC cut down to 18″ long
  • Two PVC 3″ end caps
  • small piece of wood at least 19″ long

Instructions

1. Put the end caps on either end of the PVC pipe.

pvc endcaps dog toy

2. Drill a hole several inches away from the edge of the end cap.

drill hole pvc dog toy

3. Rotate the PVC a 1/4 turn.  Drill another hole 4-5 inches away from the first hole.

drill hole pvc dog toy

4. Repeat step 3 two more times to drill a total of four holes in the PVC.

IMG_1980

5. Take the end caps off. Place the edge of the piece of wood along side the PVC pipe and under the edge of the end cap. While holding the wood and PVC together, tap the end of the wood on the floor. The lid should pop right off.  Repeat on for the other end.

6. Run a towel through the PVC several times to get the plastic shavings out.

towel through dog toy

7. Put one end cap on.

8. Fill with a few cups of dry kibble.

9. Give to dog.

10. Sit back and enjoy the entertainment.

2013 Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Calendar

Posted in dog, Search and Rescue with tags , on November 5, 2012 by rattlerjen

2013 Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Calendar

Grom and Jennifer Rock the Cover

Altitude Sickness in Dogs

Posted in dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , on September 25, 2012 by rattlerjen

Grom and went hiking around in the mountains of New Mexico while we were on vacation.  He spent quite a bit of time resting under the shade of trees along the trail.  Could he have had altitude sickness?

What is it?

Maximal oxygen uptake decreases significantly at elevations above 5,000 feet. This is because oxygen is at a lower pressure at higher altitudes.  Your body has to work more to move oxygen throughout your body.  It can take 3 to 6 weeks of living at the higher altitude in order for your body and your dog’s body to adjust.

Symptoms

  • Panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Bleeding from the nose and retina (only in extreme cases)
  • Increased pulse
  • Dry cough
  • Swelling of feet and possibly the face
  • Sudden collapse
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lethargy and refusal to move

It appears that the symptoms are the same for dogs as they are for humans and look quite similar to those of dehydration.

Treatment

Luckily our ascent was very gradual up the mountain and we only climbed about 800 feet up.  Grom was used to being at sea level on the east coast, but he had been at 5,000 feet for nearly two weeks.  Both the dog and I were quite tired from this change.

If you ever do feel that your dog may be suffering from altitude sickness, the vet has a few remedies.  One is a drug known as acetazolamide, may be prescribed by your vet for treatment.  Oxygen may also help treat a dog for altitude sickness.

Final Word

Simply be aware that high altitude sickness does exist for both dogs and humans.  Take extra precautions when traveling with your dog. The best way to prevent altitude sickness in dogs or humans is to ascend slowly.  Be careful if you are quickly taking your dog to a higher altitude, especially on aircraft that does not have pressurized cabins (helicopters and small aircraft.) Take plenty of breaks, move slowly, and drink more water (lower vapor pressure also causes faster moisture loss.)  Don’t overdo it and you and your canine companion will be fine.

 

Pet Sitting Puppy Pals

Posted in dog, life with a working dog with tags , on August 14, 2012 by rattlerjen

Grom and Seamus are “Brothers from another mother”

At least they are if you could ask them.  I have had the opportunity to take care of Seamus the cuddly labrador for the past few weeks while his mom is out on vacation.  He and Grom are the best of friends.  They must do absolutely everything together.  I have to say, they are both pretty darn cute.

They share bones

Swim Time

Nibble Time

And even Nap Time

Seamus the Labrador is halfway through his Search and Rescue Wilderness tests.  Two Search and Rescue Dogs – Two Best friends.

Fava Beans and Helicopters

Posted in dog, pets with tags , on June 14, 2012 by rattlerjen

Why does my dog look like Hannibal Lecter?

He will be training to ride in a helicopter in a few weeks!

For safety he will need to wear a muzzle and ear protection.  We are thinking about getting the little guy some Doggles to boot!

Muzzles

One thing I did notice was how difficult it was to find a proper fitting muzzle that still allowed him to breathe. We decided that a cage muzzle was the way to go, but none of the sizes fit.  They were either too big and he could easily push them off his narrow head, or too short in the muzzle squishing his wet little nose at the end.  The solution was to search for suppliers of military dogs.  For only a few dollars more, we had a muzzle custom made to fit Grom’s Belgian Malinois face at For Dog Trainers.

Training to wear the muzzle was easy.  Treats treats treats! That muzzle has been smeared with peanut butter and all kinds of delicious stuff on the inside. Grom barely noticed I had adjusted the muzzle to fit on his head as he licked happily at the inside of the muzzle cage.  After doing this several days in a row, he put his own head in the muzzle tail wagging.  I of course had a spoon filled with Peanut Butter waiting in the kitchen waiting for the cooperative little mutt. I smeared the cage with the stuff while he was wearing the thing and Wham-O, he was a fan.

Ear Protection

There are a few options for ear protection.  A few individuals on our team chose to order Mutt Muffs.  I, on the other hand, visited a horse riding store and bought those squishy form fitting foam thingies you shove in your ear.

Equifit ear protection

Equifit. It’s for horses, but with scissors. It’s for Dogs

I simply cut them down to size and inserted them in my pup’s ear.  They stayed in even when he shook his head. After a few minutes, he stopped noticing them.  I of course gave him lots of treats every time I put them in his ears.  Now I get a tail wag every time I take the foam triangle wedges out.

For the win!

Now, All I have to do is get him to wear eye protection.  Then, take him on a field trip!

Where will we go?

It is not the air field, but the train tracks.  We have a nice little town with a train running through it about 15 minutes away. On the other side of a fence and secured well on a leash we can practice getting used to the loud sound and wind produced by the train wearing all of our fancy new gear.  It may not be a helicopter, but close enough.

Man, I sure love treats.  They are magic.

 

 

And Some More Back-sliding

Posted in dog, dog training, pets, Rescue Training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , on October 13, 2011 by rattlerjen

Oh Grom, what has happened to your brain on this trip?  Did your mind get addled by the air plane ride?

The high altitude?

The green chile?

Our adventure into Grom’s training mishaps in New Mexico continue with our trip to Los Alamos and our training with the fantastic Canine Mountain Corps MC².  One member of this Los Alamos group volunteered to hide for our little fur ball. What a great guy!

We let the nice man hide himself in a spot well known to him and let him “cook” for a while.

Here is the lovely starting place, a field just inside of a little fence along a dirt road.

search dog starting task

Don’t you just love those pine trees out there?

I directed him down the road with the aim of my hand and off the little guy dashed.  Thinking back on it now, I should have given him some time in the area before sending him on a search.  Oh what cornucopia of wonderful smells he must have had wafting by his nose.  He was however, on a mission and darted off like a horse out of the starting gate.

search and rescue dog released

Grom covered the terrain like a champ dodging alien cacti and strange smelling sage brush in search of the hidden man.  A few trees needed to be watered of course, but he was doing a great job working his nose.

The ground was steep as we climbed up the mountain and I was out of shape.  The elevation of Los Alamos is 7,000 feet.  I really need to go to the gym more often!

The soft grass quickly morphed into sand the color of the sunset and sandy rocks with wavy lines to match.  Wonderful scented pines towered over the high desert landscape, providing green among the reds, oranges, and yellows of the surrounding rocks.  I tried to keep up with my little monster, but mostly resorted to walking.  I can’t imagine actually doing a long task out in these mountains with my low altitude body.

Maybe I need to train for Ironman or something…

search dog runs to indicate

Grom shows no lack of athletic ability as he literally runs circles around me.

We crossed several narrow but steep drainages as we criss-crossed the side of the mountain.  Grom disappeared over each rise, leaping like a desert coyote after a taunting crow, a huge grin on his face showing me how much fun he was having.

After a few minutes, Grom vanished over a rise into yet another drainage with his ears up and forward.  The little guy must have caught scent of something or someone.   I labored up to the hiking trail overlooking the drainage ahead when Grom came bounding back barking his little head off.

rescue indication bark

Off we raced towards the drainage ahead, Grom taking the trail to the drainage instead of back tracking the way he had come. He ran down the trail past the drainage then made a sharp right turn downhill.  Did this dog have any idea where he was going?

search dog returns forest scene

Half way down the hill I noticed a man sitting happily against a huge rock, waiting to play with a nice little black dog.  Where was the dog?

I pretend not to see the hidden man and walk towards my little search dog.

“What in the hell is he doing?  The man is RIGHT THERE!”

Looking at Grom sniffing at the ground I shrug my shoulders and ask, “Where is he?”

Grom looks at me uninterested and continues investigating the ground.  I walk forward to see what he was sniffing at and found an entire dear skeleton, nothing but bleached bones from the desert sun.

It was my turn to look confused.

“For Pete’s Sake that man has your TOYS!”

I called him off the bones and restarted him with his search command.

“Oh, right!  I was doing something”

Grom takes off towards the man, runs back, and gives a weak bark.  Heck, at this point I would take anything. I gave the dog the “show me where the man is” command and allowed the poor guy to finally play with the dog.

search dogs find in los alamos

Grom, of course, thought everything was just fine.  I, of course, threatened to serve him with a side of noodles.

Next up:  Attempts to solve the problem.

Grom’s New Mexico Brain Freeze

Posted in dog, Dog diary, dog training, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , on October 10, 2011 by rattlerjen

The trip to the desert state had been going quite well.  Grom had a great trip on the plane, sniffed at some really interesting boots hidden near a lake, and even got to play on some nice playground equipment.

The trouble started with an easy little problem on the farm.

We went out to visit some family out in the country.  Everything was cruising along smoothly, until we did a short field search problem on the farm.  We hid someone under a tractor and started Grom on the other side of the house.  The whole family was watching from the window of the house.  I gave Grom the search command and he bolted away from me into the field.  His nose diligently working the air while his legs carried him bounding across desert sand and over dried grasses.  He was having fun!  My brother in law followed me holding the video camera while his fiance hid under a big hunk of metal.

Grom sped back and forth across the field searching the edges of the scent cloud blowing across the field. He got closer and closer to the house, near the window everyone was watching from. Then he put his nose to the ground.

What in the world is he doing there?

A potty break?

I know the girl hiding did not walk across that patch of ground.  Plus, Grom is not one to try and track on the ground.  He was in scent for goodness sakes!

Grom then began to paw around at objects on the ground.  Oh great, he is messing around over there.  As I got closer, I knew what it was he must have got into.  Egg shells littered the ground at his feet.  Grom had found the compost pile.  Sigh.

I called the little goof off and sent him back to work.  The little monster defied me with a nice long pee on a crushed egg shell then trotted around before going back into a run.

Ok, he is back to work.  Whew!

He made a few turns then zeroed in on the hidden subject.  I was too far away to see clearly, but I knew he had found her.  Why in the world is he hanging out with her?  I counted… one….two….three. I had no idea what was going on and did not care. I sure hope he wasn’t trying to play with her before coming back to tell me!

Time to call the boy back. Reluctantly he left the hidden subject and loped back to me.  Knowing that something bizarre had erased his little noggin, I gave him the bark command.  He is well past needing hints. What a trouble maker!  I let him give me a few barks before sending him in to play.

Let’s hope this was just a one time occurrance.  Perhaps a new place threw him off?    There is the rest of the vacation to find out …

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