Saturday, 12 February 2011

natural? science? opinion?

Dependant on who you are, dog training and ownership is either general knowledge, gut instinct and natural or a science. To me it is both; having a sound understanding of the science behind dog ethology, ecology and learning is vital but is nothing without a natural understanding, empathy and experience. And vice verca, a competent history in canine handling means little without the science.

Where possible, I try to keep an open mind into views surrounding canine welfare and training but when facts from leading veterinarians, trainers and behaviourists support my own understanding of dogs, this can prove difficult.

Choke chains to me should play no part in our modern day relationship with dogs for many reasons:

  1. they have been directly linked to the following medical conditions: injured ocular blood vessels, Tracheal and oesopageal damage, severely sprained necks, cases of fainting, Trabsient foreleg paralysis, Laryngeal nerve paralysis, Hind leg ataxia
  2. It is often argued that if used correctly they cause no harm. This is because the dogs fears the noise the collar makes. Should we not avoid any punitive training?
  3. The use of them often cause behavioural problems (next blog)
Choke chains (I include half checks in this title) can be disguised in many different ways to look more subtle, but effectively do the same job (slip leads, made of tuggy material, pretty colours etc).

Owners often say they use them as they are 'easy', 'work' or 'stops the dog getting out'. To me, after seeing the facts and figures surrounding this apparatus i would ethically never be able to use one. On top of this, as a trainer, i would be gutted to know i needed a punitive piece of apparatus to train my dog to complete a behaviour.

However this is my opinion, it does not mean it is right or wrong. How we take peoples opinion is up to us. Some take it to heart and get defensive. Some listen, way up the surrounding thoughts and act in accordance. 

“An open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought in it”

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Foster Puppies and Many Tears

Last weekend end,  and after a 6 hour journey to Wales, I arrived at Many Tears Rescue to lend a hand. Wow, what a fantastic, dedicated, caring and inspirations team! Saturday morning and Nat gave me a tour of the kennels. It was heart-breaking to see so many beautiful yet un-wanted dogs but at the same time reassuring to know there are centres like Many tears around to help. It was both an eye opener and a privilege to have spent time at Many Tears.

Nat apparently knew  I wouldn't come home with the same number of dogs I arrived with ... and she was correct! Meet Melvin, Moomin and Meerkat; the puppies Anna and I are now foster parents to.

They are 10 week old working lab cross collies. But mentally and physically resemble the traits of a 6/7 week old pup! They are really starting to come out of them selves and starting to form real characters (noisy ones)! Both Anna and I hope that the time we put into these puppies will benefit both the puppies and their future owners in the future. 

'For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward' - Jim Rohn

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Dog Day 1

There have been so many doggy activities going on in the past week that I will have to report on them over several blogs.

Saturday Morning, and running on 'D-Force Time', dedicated owners turned up to hear me present 'so, you think your pack leader?' a talk aimed at challenging old fashioned dominance and pack theories. The audience contained an array of owners from trainers and behaviourists to first time owners and vet nurses.

It can be a very difficult challenge to enter things with an open mind, but no one seemed to have a negative 'I don't need to learn' attitude. And I believe everyone left questioning what they may have previously believed.

At the end of the session, I asked for a group conclusion (see below):

1.) Dogs are not wolves
2.) Dogs do not form packs.
3.) Dogs are a mirror of our training, not a pre-programmed 'must rule the world' machine
4.) Dogs know we are not dogs and therefore it would be impossible for them to want to 'dominate' us and see us HUMANS as part of their pack.
5.) The evolution from wolf to dog was complex but quick and done with little help from humans (except a bit of garbage).
6.) Positive methods work. Dominance based training methods are cruel to the point of ridiculous.
7.) Pack rules are silly ... if you want your dog on the sofa, he won't think he is god!

Lets take one example of a  pack rule to get you all thinking ... A dog that pulls on leash is dominant as he thinks he is leading the pack hunt.

1.) so your dog is dominant whilst he pulls on his way to the park, and suddenly decides he doesn't want to be when he stops pulling on the way home?
2.) Your dog really thinks your going on a hunt?
3.) This is a serious problem that must be sorted. A choke chain will be a great method to show your dogs who's boss?
4.) A halti will PREVENT the problem?
5.) Your dog really wants to go out and hunt even though their is easily accessible food at home for minimal effort?
6.) Your dog sees you as another dog who is to be 'led'?

Got you thinking? Take a look at Dominance: Fact or Fiction by Barry Eaton and make your own mind up (and make your dog 100 times happier)!!

"We don’t have to be Alpha, dominant or pack leader, and neither does our dog. All we need to be is an owner responsible for guiding our dog, shaping and influencing its behaviour through correct socialisation and training so they can live in harmony with us." - Barry Eaton

Cody as a very cute puppy!