A Trick for (giving) Treats

When training a dog, I find that giving SMALL treats as a reward for proper responses speeds the learning process and makes the session far more enjoyable for the dog and for myself.  But what do you do when you have a dog that is so eager to get that treat that she’ll take your thumb and finger with the treat if you hold it between them?  Here’s my Trick for Treats:

When a dog is gentle about taking treats, this is not an issue — like Ugg:

When giving larger treats (not training treats) presenting them sideways to the dog helps prevent the dog from taking your hand along with the treat:

When NOT to use treats in training

When I first start training a dog that has been living on the streets for a while, I don’t use treats at all.  These dogs are often so food-centric that as soon as they discover I’m carrying food they will do anything — including knocking me over and tearing open the pocket or pouch — to get it.  They have no idea about doing what I want them to do to get the food doled out to them a morsel at a time.  They want the food, they want all of it, they want it NOW.  That can be dangerous.

So instead I reward these dogs’ good behavior with head scratches and neck rubs.  And that may take some work too.  Dogs that have been abused or neglected for a long time are not accustomed to being touched except in violence and will be skittish about it.  Be patient.  Take it slow.  Earn his trust.

Use a soft voice, and stay as low as possible so you are not towering over the dog.  That’s intimidating to them.  Also avoid staring at her eyes: her instincts tell her this is a challenge and hostility.

Once he’s adjusted to the idea that touching is pleasant, petting will serve as reward enough until you’ve gained enough respect that he will trust you to give out the food treats as they are earned.

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Progress Notes: Oct 7, 2018

We’ve taken in two new pack members this week, and are planning another facilities upgrade.

Low Rider

Seriously? Don’t you have a harness that fits?

I picked up Low Rider on Tuesday.  She went straight into a crate in my workshop for several reasons.

  • She was infested with fleas.  We work hard to keep fleas out of our home, so that has to be dealt with before she can come anywhere near our other dogs.
  • She is fearful.  She’s obviously been abused and is frightened of new people, insects, falling leaves, and the outdoors in general.  But not dogs: she ran right up to Ugg and Lady and said howdy to each.  She’s only comfortable in a crate and prefers a quiet environment to herself.  The workshop is perfect now that it’s not so hot every day.  I can run my big turbo fan in front of a window and keep it tolerable in there.
  • She would not walk on a leash.  If used with a collar, she’d drop and gator-roll trying to get away from it.  A harness works better, but it has to be removed when she goes back into her crate or she’ll chew it up.  We lost a $30 Walk-Rite harness learning that lesson.  The next smallest harness I had was a poor fit, but it served the purpose while I ordered more harnesses.

LowRi got a Capstar to get rid of the fleas and was given a topical flea & tick prevention to keep them away.  She was spayed on Friday, and has, over the past few days, done exceptionally well.  She has lost her fear of me and Marie (NAC said she warmed up to their staff too once she was sure they weren’t bent on hurting her), has come to grips with the Great Outdoors, and has gotten to where she will allow me to lead her on a leash (using a harness), has learned to go down stairs, and just last night went up the steps for the first time.  Early on, I carried her from workshop to play yard and back, so these advances are a kindness to my back.

I’m pretty sure she was pad-trained and kept indoors all the time in her previous life.  Teaching her that it was okay to pee and poop in the yard was an odd new challenge.  When in the play yard I take the leash off and she follows along behind me.  She would pee a little here and there, but do it on the sly and scamper away from it quickly.  The first time she pooped, I had gotten a ways out front of her, noticed she wasn’t right behind me and turned around to see where she was.  LowRi was hunched up “going” about 30 feet away.  She saw me looking and immediately stepped away, dropped to the ground and went belly up in a classic, “please don’t kill me, I submit” move.  So I rubbed that belly and gave her a few enthusiastic “Good Girl”s.  That shocked her and it took a few moments to grasp that not only was she not about to die, but I was happy that she did that.

By the time Transport Day rolls around next Friday, she will be adoptable and house broken.  She may be timid around new people (that takes time and exposure) but will be worlds better than when she arrived here.

Highland

The other newbie is Highland.  He was pulled from Newport Animal Control on Friday, taken straight to Kathy’s Grooming Salon to get rid of the “shelter stink” and any fleas he might have had, and is now living in a crate in our den.  This is easier on me because I can walk him to the back door when he needs to go out.  At least that’s the theory.

In actuality Buddy Wingo, Callie, and Moonshine have taken exception to my bringing a new dog into THEIR house without their permission and go ballistic when I let Highland out of his crate.  So I have to first crate these three, then escort Highland to the door, wait for him to finish and return, get him back in his crate, then let the ruffians out.  These three then dash into the den to see that Highland is properly secured before they can go off to amuse themselves with their own affairs.

His first night here, Highland was quiet and we all got a good night’s sleep.  Since then he has gotten “clingy” and fusses loudly if Marie or I are not in the room with him, day or night.  We have dealt with this before, it’s just insecurity and trying to find his place in the home.  What it means is that one of us (mostly me, since Marie has a job to go to every weekday) will be camping on the floor of the den at night until he gets used to the idea that we are all here and he has not been abandoned even if he can’t see us.

Other than this insecurity and the fact that he is not even remotely housebroken, behaviorally he is a great dog!  His gentle nature and happy demeanor make him a pleasure to be around.  He is affectionate without being demanding.  He IS a lab mix, so he’s got that squirrely, high-energy aspect that is common to labs, but it’s not as overt as it is in Moonshine.

Highland is not going anywhere for a while, so I’ll have more on him later.

Moonshine

Moonshine had her first Immiticide treatment Sept. 20th and it bothered her very little.  She remained the energetic, lovable goof that she has always been — except now without a load of puppies.  She will be going back for her 2nd and 3rd treatments Oct 18th and 19th, then 30 days of enforced convalescence.  That will clear her of the heartworms and she will, once recovered, be ready to go back to C.A.R.E. for adoption and a full, happy life.

Ugg

Ugg says, “I want to eat, but I feel too yucky (video)

Our big boy was neutered last Friday.  He was pretty rough that evening, but was able to eat again the next morning.  Since then he has bounced back well.  His incision is looking pink and puffy, but I’ve not caught him licking at it once.  As long as he’s not licking I see no need to cone him.  Ugg continues to calm down and accept that proper interaction between people and Ugg does not involve clawing or chewing or jumping.  It has gotten to where I really enjoy my time working with him.  He is still affectionate and goofy.

He has lost the desire to play fetch, but has decided he likes “tug” better — as long as I let him win.  It is recommended that you always let your dog win at tug — but don’t make it too easy.  And don’t let it look like you let him win.  And DO congratulate him so he knows you’re not angry that he won.  Then he will come back to play that game over and over.  It’s a GREAT confidence builder.

Lady

Lady says something is in the woods

Lady was spayed on Friday.  It took a little longer for her to bounce back than it did Ugg, but that would be natural: spaying is a more invasive surgery than neutering.  She did, however eat dinner that night, but spent longer laying on her dog bed looking at me with eyes that said, “I feel awful.”

Lady too has made great strides in her play behavior with me.  In fact she’s decided I’m not much fun to play with at all, and wanders off to sniff and pee.  But when she’s done she will come back and want to be petted and told what a good girl she is.

Lady, too, is ready for transport as soon as someone claims her.

Facilities Upgrade

New Kennel will go around the play cabin until I get earth-moving done on final location

I plan to buy another 10′ x 10″ Stephens dog kennel from Tractor Supply tomorrow.  This will give me a more suitable place to keep LowRi so she can get some safe social interaction with the other dogs and get her out of the workshop.  She needs to learn to be a normal dog.

And, since we are bent on pulling as many dogs as we can from Animal Control, having more kennels is a good, and a needed, thing.

Moonshine says, “this is a good spot for a kennel, as long as I don’t have to stay in it.”

The end location for the new kennel may be here: in front of the existing kennels and along a fence.  But, the ground here is sloped and rolling.  I can’t do anything about the slope, but need to flatten out the rolling to reduce the temptation for a dog to dig out.

Pipe Dreams

I want to replace tarp roofs with a shed style roof from the garage to posts and a beam on the outside of kennels

My long term plan is for a serious upgrade of our kennels as well as adding more of them, but this is an expensive project that will have to wait until funds are available.  It will involve pouring a 12 foot by 24 foot concrete slab next to the garage for three 8′ x 10′ kennels to sit on, and installing a proper roof over them (attached to the garage roof at the “hip”) so nearly all rain will be excluded from the kennels.

Location of new door to the workshop (aka cold weather kennels)

I also want to install a door in the end of the mobile home that has been my workshop so I can convert two rooms of that into kennels for cold weather use and a dog bathing facility.  We no longer have air conditioning in there, but we do have heat.  That will be a great thing when the weather turns bitter cold.  Trying to bring 9 or 10 dogs into our home (most in crates) just will not work.  Our house is too small, there just isn’t room unless we stack crates on top of one another!

By putting in a door on the end of the trailer, I will have access to it from the play yard and not have to leash dogs to go outside the play yard to the shop’s side door.

Location of 5th or 6th kennel – depending on if I give Blondie’s play cabin back to her.

Once I sell this lumber pile I can place another kennel here, build a shed style roof from the trailer to cover it and make it well sheltered from summer sun and winter winds.  It will have no view of the yard, but for some dogs that may be an advantage.

God willing, I’ll work on getting these things done in 2019.

There have, in the past, been times when I would say something about waiting to do something until funds are available (because we prefer to stay out of debt) and one or more of our rescue friends stepped up and sent us money to take care of the need. That has always amazed and humbled me (not that we don’t help others too, it just amazes that people want to help US). And it generally leaves me scrambling around trying to facilitate an offer to help out. So if you are so inclined, I’m ready this time.

This Donate button is tagged for “improvements” and funds received any time, now or next year will be put toward the improving and enlarging of our facility so we can better serve our county’s canine population.  And we thank you for your generosity.



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Blue’s No Nip Tip

Blue is a terrier mix. As such he is naturally excitable and energetic. Blue was found as a starving stray, so he most likely was deprived of attention as well as food. As a result, he can be overly enthusiastic, even demanding, in his response to people who offer to interact with him. Telling him, “No” does no good. What can we do to redirect him from accosting his handler? Try this.

Blue is still young. As he matures he will settle down some. Once he get settled into a permanent home he will become more confident about his relationship with his People. He IS a terrier, so we cannot expect him to ever be as calm and laid back as a Basset, but he will learn better behavior.

My task with him is to help him learn to restrain the urge to jump on and nip at me as a way of expressing his pleasure at seeing me. Once we get him past that, he will be adoptable and will make someone a happy, fun-filled little companion.

For more about Blue, visit his page.

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Progress Notes: 09/04/2018

Both Ugg and Blue have been here for just over a week: Ugg for 8 days today, Blue for 10 days. Both came in with behavior issues. Ugg is a 70 pound Great Dane who still thinks he’s a 10 pound puppy. Blue is excitable too, but his major issue is jealousy and possessiveness.

Blue has been exhibiting this when I had the both of them in the yard at the same time. If Blue has a toy and Ugg comes to see what he has – not even trying to take it, just curious, Blue gets snarly and snappy with him. Same if I’m petting Blue and Ugg comes over. If I’m petting Ugg, Blue will come in and try to push Ugg – who is twice his size – out of the way and take over the affection fest.

It’s interesting that when they’re in their kennels, food and toys don’t seem to cause any issues. In fact I often find Blue’s toys in Ugg’s room, and the only way they could get there is if Blue is placing or holding them within Ugg’s reach.

When Blue acts out, it earns him an immediate and swift trip back to his kennel, where he stays for the rest of the play period, watching me play with Ugg. Lately I’ve been making sure the toys are put up before every joint play time. I’ve been working on getting Blue to take turns for my affection. He’s made strides in the past two days, and nearly every play session is now a joint session. That’s good because they both get doubled time in the yard this way.

Today they got hot from playing in the yard and decided to rest in the shade of my barn and watch me work in the garden.

Blue had found a yard bone and brought it with him. He wasn’t chewing on it, just sort of sitting on it.

I took a picture of them being good with my phone. My Handycam is out of commission right now. The phone makes a simulated shutter noise when it snaps a picture, and Blue hopped up to come over and see what that noise was. He left his bone behind.

Ugg reached over and snatched the bone.

When Blue went back to his place, the bone was missing and he started sniffing all around, looking for it, “My bone, my bone – where did my bone go?”

Then he saw Ugg chewing.

“Hey! Is that MY bone you’re chewing on.”

“Nah, I found this just laying around.”

“So, where’s MY bone?”

“Dunno.”

When Blue pushed in to check on that bone, I grabbed the hose and got ready for an altercation.

“That IS my bone. You stole my bone!”

“Nuh-uh. I found it. You didn’t have it, it was just laying there.”

Then Blue did something that really surprised me …

He said, “Meh — I don’t care. You can have it.” and went back to his spot and laid down!

WHAT A GOOD BOY!

I’m so proud of Little Boy Blue! That is a major step for him.

He got extra treats when it was time to go back to his room.

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Blue Takes Charge

Ugg and Blue got their baths and nail trimming this afternoon. I find that right after their bath is the best time to trim nails. Having been defeated by my making them all wet, even the toughest dog knuckles under and says, “Fine, do whatever you want to me.”

Afterwards I put a lead on each and took them out in the play yard together for the first time.

I kept hold of Ugg’s lead for a while because I figured if either was going to get out of control, it would be this big rowdy boy. But Ugg did fine and eventually I dropped his lead and let them play without my being an anchor, slowing Ugg down.

I’m the boss, come with me.

Blue immediately seized on the opportunity to mess with Ugg by grabbing up the lead that was dragging along behind him and attempted to force Ugg to go with him.

What a brazen little boy! Ugg weighs three times what he does.

Blue kept insisting on playing that little prank, so eventually I took the lead off Ugg. If Blue wanted to lead someone he’d have to lead himself … and he has done that (pick up his own lead and walk around with it in his mouth) quite a few times!

The two of them wandered off together. Neither showed any interest in playing, but they enjoyed one another’s company.

Eventually Blue found a ropey toy, showed it to Ugg and ran off. Ugg accepted the challenge, but when he got near Blue, Blue turned nasty and started snarling and snapping at Ugg. Ugg was shocked.

I snagged Blue and whisked him immediately and unceremoniously back to his kennel, where he stayed while Ugg and I finished up our play session. Dogs who can’t play together can’t play at all. He will get a solo play time later, but he’s done with group play for today. Tomorrow he may try again. When he learns to control that greediness he’ll be a happier, and better behaved, boy.

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Booker: No Longer the Bounding Basher

When Booker arrived here he was a 70 pound puppy with no training or discipline at all. He’s friendly and happy, and playful, but had no concept of how big he is. As a result, he’d jump up on me, inadvertently leaving claw marks, and knocking me off balance. Fortunately I am still able to stand up to that.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working with him to instill some basic dog/people etiquette. That is coming along well. Continue reading