Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Countryside Code

Although it is only December already there are lambs being born on farms around the country.  There are also a lot of ewes about who will be due to lamb over the next couple of months.

It is important to keep your dog under control at all times and to respect the countryside; but it is more important at this time of year.  Ewes with lambs are very protective of thier babies and they may charge and chase your dog;  ewes in lamb that panic can miscarry.

Any dog can chase sheep, strange dogs cause sheep to panic.  You must, by law, have your dog under close control when walking, even if you are following a footpath.  Close control does not have to mean on a lead but if you cannot rely on your dog to stay beside you or to listen to your signals then you should have it on a short lead of around one metre or 3ft long.

 A farmer is within their rights to shoot any dog they percieve to be worrying animals, this does not just mean a loose dog, if your dog is on a flexi lead that is extended your dog can be counted as worrying sheep!  You must also have your dog under close control during the nesting period for ground birds (1st March - 31st July)

Other rules in the Countryside Code are leaving gates and property as you find them, take nothing home but your own litter.

At this time of year the weather can be unpredicable and it starts to get dark early so be prepared, wear suitable clothing and footware, make sure your phone is charged up and have a torch with you.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Winter tips and Cloverleaf update

Busy grooming day today.  I have a space or two available between Christmas and New Year if you want your pooch looking good for the festivities.

Other than that I am booking behaviour, training and grooming sessions for January 2012, where did the year go?

Currently working on a mobile basis until the Canine Centre is opened, which won't be long now. Then you will be able to drop your dog off, enjoy a cuppa in the nearby cafe, do a spot of shopping or even pop into the hairdresser and have yourself pampered.

Winter is on us now and the weather is only going to get worse.  Once the gritters start putting salt down, please remember to wash your dog's feet after walks.  Road salt can be very toxic to dogs, their systems cannot cope with the amount of sodium in it.  Dogs like to lick thier paws clean so a good foot wash will get the salt off them, whereas a wipe with the towel won't.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Natural dog training

There are a lot of people claiming different ways of training your dog.  Some of these people will use equipment that I just won't; from ecollars to water pistols.  See my previous post "Punishing your dog" .

You may even hear people say "we only use natural methods".  Ask questions and find out what these "natural" methods are.  Dog's don't train other dogs, they speak dog, sometimes with an accent that others find hard to understand so they get into trouble, dogs are happy for other dogs to be dogs!

Natural methods vary, but are often based on so called pack rules, The list of pack rules is inconsistent but generally include, not allowing the dog on furniture, to lie in doorways, to start or end games or attention seeking behaviour or to pull on the leash; to always eat before your dog, go through doorways first, to be able to remove your dog’s food while it is eating and to put your dog into a down (alpha roll - see previous post as above).

 Taking the rules one at a time it is possible to unpick them and how they do not relate to wolf or dog behaviour and how as humans we are not equipped to mimic canine behaviour  For instance always eating before your dog is impractical and can also send mixed messages if you are unable to eat first.

You may get told that you must eat before your dog as that is what happens in the wild, or you may even get told that is what wolves do.  Both of these statements are incorrect.  Wild dogs and wolves will let the next generation eat first.  What happens if you are going out for a meal?  Do you have to eat something before the dog anyway?  What about if someone in the household is not in or is ill and unable to eat?

Ever been told to pinch your dog in the neck using a hand that mimics how another dog would bite and make a "tsssk" noise at the same time?  I'm yet to hear a dog make that sound or bite another dog in that manner to make it behave or to stop being dominant. Biting in play or aggression I've seen, so what is your dog thinking when you do this?
People can teach dogs to behave to suit us using classical and operant conditioning and dogs can learn how to use operant conditioning to manipulate people and their environment to gain reward. Conditioning is based on sound science researched for years, it's used to manage wild animals is zoos and to train Orca in Seaworld.

A futher explaination of Classical and Operant Conditioning will be in a future post.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Punishing your dog?

Most training revolves around establishing consequences for the dog’s behavior. Operant Conditioning defines these following four types of consequences.
  1. Positive reinforcement adds something to the situation to increase the chance of the behavior being exhibited again.
  2. Negative reinforcement removes something from the situation to increase the chance of the behavior being exhibited again.
  3. Positive punishment adds something to the situation to decrease the chance of the behavior being exhibited again.
  4. Negative punishment removes something from the situation to decrease the chance of the behavior being exhibited again.
Punishment is not retribution!  It is not pysically abusing your dog!