'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Seven Posts blog challenge.

My Life with Flyball Dogs passed a blog challenge on to us, to choose seven posts to fit the seven categories.

My most beautiful post:
I don't really type up 'beautiful' things, so my choice for this theme will be short and heartfelt: Epiphany, from May 2011.

My most popular post:
According to the blogger stats, my most popular post is Reinforcing Cues, from 17th April 2011, with 53 page views.

My most controversial post:
Since most of my posts are daily life with my two silly dogs, they aren't really controversial. I can't actually think of/find a controversial post, so I'll have to leave this blank.

My most helpful post:
I don't really write a whole lot of informative posts, so I'm going to cheat a little and say that I think my most helpful posts are those containing quotes on dog books.

A post whose success surprised me:
I was quite surprised by the number of people who responded to the Dog Breed Selector post from 14th August 2011. It was just a silly thing I wanted to share, not expecting anyone to try it out, but apparently some did!

A post that didn't get the attention I felt it deserved:
None! I'm happy with any attention and replies, and since I never really write up long, great posts I don't have any that I think 'deserve' attention.

The post I'm most proud of:
This was hard. I'm not proud of the post, so much as the events described in the post: Bad to the Bone, or A Little Angel? (Friday 12th August 2011). I'm always incredibly proud of my dogs, but Lola's response to loose dogs that I try to help is consistently great.

To continue this, I'm going to pass this on to seven bloggers, who (I don't think) have done the challenge before. In alphabetical order:
4 Dog Craziness
An English Shepherd
Bailey Be Good!
Black Dog Blog
Ci Da
Ricky's Life
Tanner Trains the Family

In other news, apparently someone today found my blog by googling 'dog retrieved drowned puppies' (sixth page). Perhaps I should start a drowned-puppy retrieval-by-dog service.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

I'm never good at sticking to plans...

At least today, my lack of ability to stick to the plan wasn't my fault.

...Well, it kind of was.

It seems like Lola's stomach has a maximum capacity... and since she had more than twice as much food (very nearly three times as much, I think) as usual yesterday, the vast majority of which was high value and very rich, seemed to have upset her stomach.

She was slightly subdued this morning, though her usual crazy self when she got to act as my mum's alarm clock. When I took her out for her "long walk" before the plan of going to the fair, she only played fetch less than a dozen times, then started refusing food and refusing to fetch. Since neither of those things are like her, I was bemused until she started eating grass--which, again, is unlike her--and lying and sitting down quite a lot.

Poor girl threw up four or five times, and her stool went from normal to liquid very quickly over the twenty or thirty minutes we were out. She's been fairly subdued all day, but once we got home and wrapped up under blankets, she was okay. I cooked some pasta for her and she's had a handful or so an hour.

She has only peed since this morning (nearly twelve hours since we were at the park), but all she's had is about half a bowl of pasta, and she emptied herself this morning. Her stomach isn't swollen or hard, and she's definitely perked up a lot now, especially since our walk at around 7. I'm keeping an eye on her though, and I think tomorrow we won't be going to the funfair either, unless she is magically back to 100%.

In other news, I booked my practical driving test today, for Thursday 13th October. Expect a lot of nervous posts about it nearer the time!

Also, My Life with Flyball Dogs has tagged me to do the Seven Posts blog challenge, which I'll do tomorrow. I'm tired out from my hard day of cuddling a puppy.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Blues Fest weekend: Friday & Saturday.

Lola has done very well so far.

Yesterday we walked past a screaming child, about two or three metres away, and Lola glanced at it and then promptly held my gaze for a reward. We also headed through the vaguely busy campsite, and although Lola huffed her lips out at a couple of bouncing, running spaniels, she was quiet and she didn't stare too much at people. She was clearly baffled by the sudden influx of tents and caravans to the rugby fields, though.

Today was slightly different. We went to the funfair/carnival thing, which is where we'll be going for the rest of the weekend. The alternative is finding drunken people outside of the music halls and hoping they don't scare Lola. The funfair is 12pm-8pm today, tomorrow and Monday, so plenty of time to wander.

We went three times to the funfair. The first time, Lola was startled by a 'suddenly appearing' (in her dumb terrier tunnel-vision eyes) dog which was "tied" to a caravan, and barked at him two or three times before I managed to get her to shush. The dog was very sweet looking, and was mostly laid panting (with no water) in the sun/shade. We practiced BAT with him for about twenty minutes, with the start being her looking very suspiciously at the dog, and the end result being laid down about two metres away from him without much fuss. Since there was no owner in sight, I didn't want to risk introducing them, and I didn't want the owner to decide to return to see me stood right next to their dog. That would be awkward.

What followed was even more awkward though. As Lola was doing really well with the BAT (no vocalisations after the first few barks, no piloerection at all, and only mild levels of intense staring which soon reduced), I moved into the adjacent football area to play fetch for a couple of minutes. I intended to return... but in that time, apparently the dog managed to slip the end of his leash off of the spike on the caravan. The dog headed straight into the thick of the funfair, and since I had Lola I couldn't follow.

I quickly returned home to put Lola in her crate, and then grabbed a bottle of water and our spare metal dog dish. I went back, couldn't find the dog, and was having horrible thoughts of him being run over when I saw him, next to one of the parked lorries. He was tied to a post there--and securely tied, this time--so I can only assume his owner saw him and tied him up. I left him with a bowl of water, noticing that he still had no water or food despite the fairly strong heat, and went back home.

A few hours later, I went out a second time with Lola, and we went straight to where the dog had been tied up before. He was thrilled to see me. I had Lola in a 'wait' a few metres away, and she was silently watching until I stroked him, whereupon she barked at me. The little madam! I ignored her until she was quiet again, and then she got food. After that she just laid a few metres away for the most part, occasionally being showered with food, whilst I gave him a quick fuss and added to the bowl of water (which he'd already drunk quite a lot of).

We went back to the football area and spent most of  the time then playing fetch in the very loud, very strange environment. Lola didn't react to anything whilst we were playing, but on the way back she seemed to take serious offence to an elderly couple walking down the street toward us; although I manouevered her into someone's front garden before she reacted, she was staring at the wall between her and them and growled very quietly for a moment, then recovered. When they actually walked past, she calmly looked between them and me. I think she just spooked.

At around seven, we went back to the funfair for the final time. Dog was still there, and Lola again waited--without barking at all!--a few metres away while I gave him some attention. I now have nice claw marks on one arm from him jumping up to get love. Since the funfair closes at 8 and his owners obviously aren't that responsible, I took the mostly drunk bowl of water away, so that if he's there tomorrow I can give him some more water. After I was satisfied he was well (just extremely bored, the poor boy) me and Lola sat on the curb and played LAT. She did so well - not a single bark, even when a girl ran back and forth past, a dozen or so feet away (she stared, but eventually looked at me the first time, and the second time immediately looked at me). We went home without fuss, and after mum came back home at around half 9, I quickly ran around to the funfair to make sure the dog wasn't still tied up, alone. He wasn't--and the caravan he was originally "tied" to was lit, so I'm hoping/assuming he was and is in there.

One downside of today is that Lola didn't get enough exercise. She had to sleep between trips, and since I had a lazy morning, this meant she only got maybe an hour or so of running. I don't know how I ever used to deal with her when she had that amount of exercise... she was needy, bossy and constantly demanding. She's so much more relaxed with more exercise, urgh.

My plan for tomorrow is to take her on a long (hour and a half to two hours) walk tomorrow morning, before the funfair even opens, and then do another three or four trips to the fair tomorrow, and give her another hour's walk when it all closes. I'm really hoping that I don't see that poor, lovely dog again - I really hope his owners keep him inside where he's safe. Nobody seemed to notice me hanging around him; someone with ill intent could quite easily unhook his leash and take him away.

In closing, a photo of Lola and the funfair (well, from a distance) and the boy dog in question.

She's not panting from stress here - it was genuinely hot!

What a good boy.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Baking for Dogs.

While waiting for the Blues fest stuff to kick off, I decided to try my hand at making some treats for LAT and BAT work with Lola (and Jess, of course). Both recipes were originally found at DogAware.com in the Non-Liver Recipes section, but have been adjusted quite a lot.

Go Bananas Training Treats

- 1 and a half to 2 cups of plain flour.
- 2 eggs.
- 1/6-1/4 cup of oil.
- 1/2 cup of honey.
- 1/2 cup of milk.
- 2 bananas.
- Butter or margarine.

- Mash bananas, set oven to 160C (or 320F) to preheat.
- Combine mashed bananas, eggs, oil, honey and milk into a bowl, and mix.
- Add flour: start with around 1 full cup of flour, and increase where necessary, until getting a thick, sticky mixture.
- Use butter/margarine to grease a baking tray, then pour mixture into the tray.
- Set the baking tray in the oven and leave for 40 minutes. The result will be fairly soft, but still sticky inside.
- Cut up the treat 'cake' into 1cm squares.
- Optional, but a good idea: after cutting your mixture into very small squares, pop back in the oven for a further 10 to 15 minutes. Otherwise the treats will be fairly sticky when cut up.

Tuna Treats

- 1 185g can of tuna in water.
- 1 medium egg.
- 1 cup of flour.
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- 1 cup of water.
- Two and a half to three handfuls of grated cheese.
- Butter or margarine.

- Preheat the oven to 180C (or around 350F).
- Put the entire contents of the can of tuna (DO NOT drain) into a bowl and add the cup of water. Mash everything together until it is pretty much a sloppy liquid with some small bits of tuna.
- Add the garlic powder and egg to the mixture, and then add flour until a thick mixture is produced.
- Pour mixture into a greased baking tray, and even out the mixture so that it lies flat in the tray. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
- Bake for 15 minutes, and then remove, cut up, bag and store. The treats will be greasy (similar to a hot dog), but shouldn't be sticky.

So far Lola LOVES the sticky banana treats especially. They have a very strong (and quite nice) smell, and if Lola's rapid devouring of them is anything to go by, they taste just as good as they smell.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Run, puppy, run!

Lola, you want your ball?

In other news, we're going to be very, very busy this weekend. My town's rhythm and blues festival is on this weekend. The camp ground is the rugby fields at the top of my park; there will be more than twice as many people lingering and listening to music at certain times of day in certain areas in town; and there are some festival-y entertainments going on in the sports centre carpark nearby.

So, basically, we are going to be taking the opportunity to stand very far away from a very large number of people, for very short periods of time throughout each day (I'm thinking ten-fifteen minute sessions, every two hours, with fetch/exercise in between). I have high value food primed and ready, including hot dogs, ham, cheese, freeze dried liver and kipper, and I also have some chicken to cook up and prepare.

I'm not going to push Lola too much this weekend - I'm going to try and stay quite far away from crowds, so that Lola notices the people but doesn't get too stressed. We'll see, though - if she isn't bothered at all, we can slowly decrease the space between us and the people over the weekend.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Bad Handler! (Wordy Wednesday edition.)

We went up town today, and Lola was really good! She had to deal with some stuff that would have sent her into a barking frenzy before, and yet she took everything in stride. The session was shorter than usual--about forty minutes, as opposed to nearly an hour--because although she had energy to begin with, she tired very quickly and started to drag behind within about twenty minutes. Apparently the way to kill her energy entirely is with a good five hours of exercise... that's, uh, good to know, I guess.

On our way up town, a pair of women with a pram (and a toddler inside) stopped about a metre from us. I'd moved Lola into a corner/against a wall out of the way of the pram, and was stuck, unable to move away, as the women cooed at her and wheeled the kid around to see her. I was practically shoving food down her throat - her reps increased from maybe once every three to four seconds to every second, maybe even more. She was often getting a click and reward even whilst still eating her last reward!

But she was fine. A little put-out perhaps, but no stiffening, staring, piloerection, vocalisation, etc. The women were talking amongst themselves and to the kid, and the child was staring at her, pointing and making some weird noises (CHILDREN) but she did very, very well.

Later, on our way back down to the house, a couple of people with a pram were walking up the fairly narrow road, so I cued Lola to jump onto the wall about a foot and a half from the street corner and waited. Much to my utter alarm, a pram appeared behind us too - and there was some pram-congestion at the corner, for a minute or two, whilst everyone figured out what to do. Lola just stood on the wall, looking expectantly between me and the prams and people, without fuss. Good dog.

Then as we neared home, my mum rang me and I, being a dumb, BAD hander, answered the call and paid no heed to the guy who came round the corner immediately after or to Lola. (I think) she looked at me for reinforcement, then growled very, very softly at him. I carried on moving away, ignoring her reaction because it was entirely my fault.

Lesson #1: pay attention to your dog.

Later, me and Mum had to go shopping, soLola and Jess were left in my room. According to nearly an hour and a half of recording (we were out for about two and a half hours, which was painful), Lola had difficulty/inability to settle well (moving position every couple of minutes), and she did have a single accident (pee) at around the one hour and twenty minutes mark, but there was no vocalisation or pawing at the door or anything, which is pretty good. Not great, but then she didn't get a run right before we left, so I think she just had to go.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Scaling Mountains.

...Well, Pendle Hill is big enough to be a mountain anyway, in my book!

Lola was out for about five hours today - an hour walk in the morning (with Jess), three hours getting to, up, down and back from Pendle Hill in the afternoon (without Jess), and an hour walk when we returned (with Jess). To say she is tired is an understatement!

First up, pictures.

It was a pretty awesome trip. Lola did really well! She had pretty minimal barking or growling at anyone, and even when she did vocalise it was pretty easy to get her attention back. Bribing her (shoving a handful of food in front of her nose), as I tried a couple of times on the way up, worked a lot less than playing Look At That - a game she knows very well by now. Incidents of vocalisation were mostly in the beginning, when I was being dumb.

The hill-climbing party was myself and Lola, Kelly, Jenny and her dog Millie. As I've said on here before, Kelly and Lola have a slightly difficult relationship still - Lola has come a hell of a long way from where she used to just bark constantly at her, and would growl and bark at any movement, but today was great. On the hike, she walked fairly close to Kelly quite a lot; when she had the zoomies and we were all sat down, she leapt up against Kelly's back as well as mine; and she even let Kelly stroke her for a couple of minutes, on two different occasions on the hill. When we were home a couple of hours later, Lola waltzed up to Kelly (sat on a chair), jumped up against her legs, and licked her hands for a few moments. She wasn't confident enough to jump onto Kelly's lap when she was invited, and backed away slightly, but there was no growl as she backed away--which is something she used to do quite a lot--and she didn't shy away from Kelly after that. She was pretty much just saying, 'nah, I'll pass.' And that is fine.

She's a good girl.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Tug Drive.

Since Lola's new tug toys (one made of sheepskin and one of rabbit fur) arrived, I've been trying to build her drive for them. Or rather, I've been trying to remember to do so. I'm a very forgetful person, and between general walking, reactivity stuff, crate/home alone training and trick training, working on her tug drive sometimes falls by the wayside.

Indoors, if the tug (we're using the black sheepskin tug mostly at the moment, as it has a much wider bite area) comes out, she is instantly 'on'. She wants it, and she will leap for it, bite and hold it, and retrieve it.

But outdoors, there's so much more exciting stuff - balls to play with, birds to chase, smells to explore. So, we've been working on it on and off, and this is where we are now.




Her tug drive is really coming on in leaps and bounds, and it's awesome. Tomorrow, I'm going to bring Jess to the field and have her leashed up (with something to play with, obviously) to act as a distraction, and we'll work from there.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Urban Girl.

We went to town today, since a) I wasn't busy in the morning and b) the weather was actually good. I set out feeling confident, and everything went just shy of perfect. She didn't give a single vocalisation: not a single bark, growl or anything. And she had to face some pretty intense stuff at times.

These were the highlights:
- A man and young child appeared suddenly around the corner, when we were only two feet or so away. I had to give a small amount of feedback on the leash to move her out of the way when everyone froze (gently guiding her back and to the side), but even that sudden tension and forced movement didn't make her react.
- We were walking up the street behind a trio of two women and a young boy, who was waving his arms around, possibly slapping at flies. Despite his fairly erratic behaviour, Lola remained cool and calm as we walked behind them, at an average distance of about two and a half to three metres, for five minutes.
- I'd forgotten what day it was; and I'd forgotten that the market was on. I took advantage of it and sat down with Lola, a little closer than I'd have liked, to practice some Look At That and incompatible trick behaviours in the presence of around a hundred or so people at a time. She did great! Her ears flicked back more than I desired, and she got a little whale-eyed and leapt almost out of her skin when a woman ran past (suddenly appearing, too) about a foot away. But she recovered fast, and her tail was up for about 99% of the time we were sat there, so I'm quite pleased. She showed off a small amount of her tricks: touch, paw, sit, down, off, up. No refusal of food at all, and only twice she had to be re-cued for a trick.
- Whilst we were sat up town, three dogs went past, the closest of which was only about one metre away from us. Lola looked at the dogs, but there was no huffing, no charging or straining at the leash, no intense stare, no piloerection, and no vocalisations. Truly fantastic.
- On the way back, a limping man suddenly appeared around the corner, only about one foot away from us. Lola stared and shifted her weight forward, but then self-interrupted and followed me in an arc around and away from him toward home.


Friday, 19 August 2011

Versatile Blogger Award number 2.


I came online today to find that Tanner (from Tanner Trains the Family) had awarded us with our second Versatile Blogger Award. Guess I should have chosen the Inspiration award last time, eh?

Our nine facts will be about the girls and their weird quirks, and the nine blogs/bloggers we choose to pass the award on to will be different to last time. Again, I'll try to pass the award to people who don't already have it.

Nine Facts
1. Lola will not sleep above the covers unless it's very warm. She sleeps curled up against me, under the blankets. I sometimes wake up to her curled around my head.
2. When I tell the girls it's time for 'breakfast', Jess gets the most ridiculous prancing feet. She looks like a little horse.
3. When my mum comes home, Lola screams at the top of her lungs, leaps at her and barks. Since she always feeds the dogs a biscuit (or three...) when she arrives home, Lola now runs in circles back and forth between Mum and the kitchen, waiting for her biscuits.
4. Jess has the most annoyingly sensitive stomach. She can be fine with foods for a while, and then just get intolerant to them. She used to be able to eat pig's ears, rawhide, etc, but now can't have anything 'special' at all but tripe, really.
5. Lola likes to drink tea. If I leave my cup on the side (and forget it's there), I sometimes hear a slurping as she just dunks her head in and drinks it.
6. Jess will let me put anything on her (shirts, hats, necklaces, etc) without any fuss as long as food is involved.
7. Lola loves cheese, but she particularly loves Lancashire Cheese. She all but takes my fingers off trying to get it.
8. Jess has a thing where she enjoys pretending that she doesn't need the toilet, quite a lot. If I herd her outside, she goes pretty much immediately.
9. Both of my girls get super sad ears when the back yard is wet and I send them out to the toilet. Jess has been known to hold it for ten-eleven hours just to avoid getting her paws wet, and Lola will pee on the steps into the yard. Both are pretty happy to go for walks in the rain, though.

Nine Blogs (alphabetical order)
1. 4 Dog Craziness: shetland sheepdogs Miley and Guiness, and chihuahuas Mickey and Roxy.
2. Ci Da: australian shepherd Cohen, the best-behaved dog I've seen.
3. Dream Dogz: shetland sheepdog Wall-e and miniature schnauzer Mika.
4. Ludo, Ludwig van Doggy: shetland sheepdog Ludo.
5. My Dog Is Steve Buscemi: mutant alien "chihuahua" Lucy/Steve Buscemi.
6. Rewarding Rover: rat terrier Indigo and (eight week old) flat-coated retriever Porter.
7. The Spotted Tongue: border collie cross Dahlia.
8. The Social Puppy: border collies Clewe and Gromit.
9. Two Dogs, One Camera, Priceless Moments: border collie crosses Riley and Grace.


  • Kelly came round again - she arrived about 1pm on Tuesday afternoon, and left the next day. Lola barked at her quite a lot when she first came in, as she shot up the stairs to bark at K and I couldn't get her back downstairs to put her away. Silly pup.
  • We did some shaping with Lola's evening meal, carrying on from our shaping breakthrough last time. She immediately offered solid, confident nose touches to Kelly's legs and hands, and then began jumping up against her legs (Kelly was sat in a chair, we were on the floor). And then--surprising all of us, I think--my pup leapt up onto her lap for a split second. I marked it and jackpotted her choice by giving her the rest of her meal and ending the session.
  • Lola was pretty quiet with her all day, until we were going to bed. Me and Lola had gotten ready first, and I think she forgot Kelly was there, or else didn't think Kelly was sleeping in the room with us - she barked and growled a little bit when K entered the room. Not great. I put Lola on the floor and didn't let her back up onto the bed until she was quiet, and then she settled straight down to sleep. During the night, K told me the next day, she woke up once to find Lola snuggled up against her head and awake. Lola didn't react adversely to seeing her.

  • A couple of quiet huffs in the morning, as we'd gotten up and ready before Kelly did, and then quiet for the rest of the day - even when Kelly went, much much later.
  • We went to the cinema (minus the dogs, of course), and I opted to try leaving the dogs both in my bedroom. I put down a lot of newspaper, expecting the worst... and there wasn't a single accident to clear up when we got back around four-five hours later. Fantastic!
  • In the evening after Kelly had gone, when I took Lola out (she's getting a minimum of two walks a day at the moment, though it's generally more three or four - I need to see how my university schedule will be before commiting to three walks, really) we met a seven month old JRT/PRT cross. Despite the fact they'd never met before, and Lola was pretty tired, she played fantastically with her for about half an hour - and even leapt up to say a brief hello to Poppy's owner a couple of times. After that, we saw her beloved greyhound/collie cross, who she always gets so flirty with (she gets total zoomies around him) and behaved as always with him. And then we saw Lola's brother Cloud, and she was happy to say hello to them - and after that, as we were leaving, she had a very nice, very appropriate greeting with an elderly Westie. Then she spoiled it the next day by being an idiot with other dogs.
  • I had to go to town to get some supplies, so I left Lola and Jess in my room again. They were there for about an hour and a half, and as far as I can tell (standing quietly outside for a few moments) they were quiet. No accidents again!
  • I was in a cooking mood... there is now some beef jerky, boiled bone jelly, scrambled egg/cheese mixture, kipper and fried liver all bagged (except for the bone stuff; that set in a tub) and tagged for the dogs. I have some chicken quarters and thighs, some ox tongue and ox tail, and some other mixtures to try making, but at the moment I probably have about two or three weeks of high value treats in the fridge and freezer.

  • The food for the dogs arrived yesterday, and I cracked it open today--Wainwrights Adult Salmon & Potato. Jess has previously been on/is being transitioned from crappy wet food and mixer biscuits to this much better dry food, and Lola is being transitioned from a different flavour of the Wainwrights puppy food.
  • I left Lola and Jess in my room again when I went for my driving lesson. Pretty sure they were quiet (I forgot to set up the camera to record!), and no accidents again. I think I'll be leaving them in my room from now on; there's less to destroy, and they're both used to being in there overnight so they have the association of settling down and sleeping. Good girls.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Dog Breed Selector.

I decided to do the Animal Planet Dog Breed Selector test today, since I don't have much to do. The results kind of amuse me.

Compatibility with Breeds:
Irish Setter - 100% (my mum had one of these when she was a child--I have no interest in the breed though)
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - 100% (a breed already on my list of future pets)
Australian Cattle Dog - 99% (again, a breed I want in the future)
Australian Shepherd - 99% (another breed I eventually want to own)
Border Collie - 99% (and yet another breed I want in the future - desperately so!)
German Wirehaired Pointer -99% (I'm not a huge fan of these, though they're cool lookin' dawgs)
Parson Russell Terrier - 99% (good to know I'm compatible with JRT/PRTs, eh?)

None of this helps me with my recent thoughts about what dog I'll get next. At the moment it's kind of narrowed down to herder or terrier... which really, really doesn't help. I think I'm doomed to a life of owning sensitive, needy, intense dogs. Welp.


Just a lot of photos with not much to say. The weather's been weirdly cool today - and since I was bored, this meant that Lola ended up having four hour-long walks at the park, and a forty minute or so train ride/walk to see my mum. Jess came along for two of the walks at the park, too--the first thing in the morning and late evening walks. In the morning she even got to go off lead for a bit, and did well until another dog appeared behind us. Poor old Jess.

Lola greeted a schnauzer mix and a (really, really overweight) staffie today, which was awesome. She freaked out at a boxer; she seems to have even more of a thing against them than she does against labradors, and alarm-barks (a louder form of her bark when someone is at the door, rather than her usual bark at other dogs) from a distance where she would usually only register 'oh, it's a dog' without reacting. Weird pup.

Both of the dogs are dead to the world, and I think I'll follow their example and head off to bed too!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Bad to the Bone, or A Little Angel?

Good question!

I did a Very Stupid Thing and left Lola in the crate for an hour today while I went on a driving lesson. Talk about pushing your luck! I came home to no  accidents, which was nice, and a seemingly quite puppy... until I looked at the video I'd had recording and saw she'd been screaming, barking, biting the bars of her crate, yapping, and more, after about twenty five minutes of being alone. Silly Lola, bad Sophie.

But then the rest of the day was awesome. Lola is awesome.

I saw a loose dog, and my first reaction: 'oh god, not another one, my mum is going to kill me.' Thankfully this dog had a collar on, unlike the chubby old staffie I brought home a couple months ago. I had Lola's ball and launcher out, so I put them away, and when she looked at the dog--fate decided to kick me in the ass; the dog was a labrador-type--I told her, very quietly and firmly, to 'leave it'.

And she did! Well - for the most part. But then, she's an adolescent terrier; what more can I expect? She let the dog sniff her, and sniffed him back. She let him approach me. She snapped at him once - an air-snap, a quick and unmistakable warning, when I was sat on the bench trying to read his tag and he tried to put his head into my bag, where her ball was.

I stopped a girl to ask her if the dog was hers, and although he was not she helped me keep hold of him, and enabled me to much more easily sort everything out. At one point she tried to stroke Lola before I could ask her not to; Lola didn't bark or growl, or even lift her hackles, but rather just moved away quickly and then watched her. Not fantastic, but I'll take it!

During this time, she also went to greet a JRT we've seen before, who I haven't let her greet because she's... a weirdo, really. She was very polite and well-mannered, with no hint of hackles. She also wanted to greet a staffie and a border collie that a man was walking on leash past us, but the staffie was leaning into its lead a little too much, and so I called her back and she was growling at it. Hmm.

The first time I called the number on the dog's (Jack's) tag, nobody answered. I was already thinking how I was going to break the news to mum that I'd brought home another loose dog when, on the second try, his owner answered. Apparently her teenaged sons had been looking after him, and a few moments after our call she rang back to say where she lived, and that her son wasn't home.

She also asked if there was a small white dog with him. I didn't think she meant Lola, so nope, no there was not.

Thankfully she didn't live far. With Lola's leash clipped to his collar, and Lola walking off-lead next to me on the quiet streets back, me and the girl headed to Jack's house. Their front door was wide open, and a scruffy white dog was standing in the front yard. Bingo.

I unleashed Jack, and took both him and the other dog by the collars to gently lead them indoors. Lola followed me in, but came quickly back out when I asked her to. I leashed her and we waited until the dog's owner arrived, and when said owner did arrive Lola stayed calm and held a loose leash while the woman hugged me as thanks. Good girl.

Afterwards, me and Lola returned to the park, and within five minutes we met one of her brothers! The last time they met they were both on leash, and although they were excited and seemed to recognise each other, they were both very tense. This time, Lola was off leash and much more relaxed, though she did have a go back when one of Cloud's owner's other dogs--they have three Jack Russells, crazy stuff!--barked and snapped at her. I called her away and she came happily enough.

We walked with them for twenty minutes or so, just a quick once-around the park, and although Lola was initially a little wary and worried at times (the three were very vocal, and Blackjack kept following her and barking; plus we were walking with three strange people, two of whom were male). But she didn't snap or snarl at them, and quickly regained enough confidence to zoom over to them and get the two boys to chase her. She's such a flirt.

Now she's exhausted on the chair, dead to the world.

This is Cloud:

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Joys of Shaping.

A certain somebody was a very good puppy today.

K came round again today - I had a new tactic planned. We took both dogs out straight away (Lola had growled once when she came in, that was it) and gave them an hour or so's walk. Lola was put in her crate--and was quiet and didn't go the toilet--for the forty minutes that we were up town when we got back. Amazing!

New tactic: shaping.

Weapon: microwaved chunks of hotdog.

Two sessions, each about fifteen-twenty minutes long, covering probably a couple hundred reps per session (with no more than five or six seconds between marks and rewards). For both sessions, me and K were sat on the floor, with Lola nearby.

First session, Lola was hesitant to approach (what is this new game? what are we doing?), so she got a lot of click/treats for looking at K. By the end of the first session, she'd progressed to hesitantly and lightly targeting K's hands with her nose. Her tail was at about half mast, ears forward except for if K moved - then they quickly and briefly went back.

Second session, we lowered the criteria because we were starting afresh, and by the end of that session Lola was confidently targeting K's hands, which were moving (fingers wiggling and hands gently waving) at a mid level speed. Her tail was curved up, and her ears set forward for the most part.

After that, about two hours later, when me and K went on the computer to try to book cinema tickets, Lola was snuggled up with me - and she moved over, looked at K, and then licked her hands a couple of times. Very cute.

She growled softly again at K when we were preparing to leave (she did last time too - I don't know if she's got a chain of growling when we're going, because she didn't growl at her when we were all getting ready to go to the park), but then when I had to pause for a moment to clean up after her, after I'd done so she was pulling at the leash to try and catch up with K. She only stopped pulling when we'd caught up, and walked between us to the train station.

This basically sums up why I love shaping. At no point did I force Lola to do anything. I didn't give any corrections for any behaviour while she was interacting with K - I just reinforced what I wanted. Lola knows the shaping game well when it comes to things she's scared of, and I don't know why it's taken me so long to think of doing it when my friend comes round. By the end of the sessions, she'd gone from slightly cautious to confident and happy: turning more into the dog I know when it's just us.

Shaping gives her the power, and having power (to interact with K and earn food, or not to do so) gives her confidence. Training is awesome.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


England has gone crazy, last night and tonight. Rioting in a good number of cities; I'm glad I live in a small, nondescript town. I've been glued to the news stations all day and night. A police station has been firebombed, buildings burned, cars destroyed. Looters everywhere, stealing crisps and 40'' televisions alike. Crazy. Rumours are floating everywhere, but most of them are bullshit.

There are some heartening photos and stories of people pouring out to defend their communities and to clean up the destruction, but those are tiny things among a lot of madness.

I hope nobody innocent gets hurt. Too many people have already lost their livelihoods, and some had to be evacuated from their homes last night.

Monday, 8 August 2011


The day before yesterday, when I took Lola up town (for the first time in a few days), when we set off it was pretty dismal - spitting lightly. Twenty five minutes into the half hour or so walk, it had started absolutely hammering down; and then in the time it took us to head back home, thunder and lightning began. Lola was startled by the thunder (ears slightly back, flinching) but she looked solidly at me, didn't over-react to it, and didn't react to anyone on the walk at all, before and after the stormy weather began.

For a sound-sensitive pup, she's surprisingly resilient at times.

On the other hand when we got back--by that point the thunder had been crackling and lightning flashing just a couple of times over a five or six minute period--Jess was very worried: head down, cringing in her bed, and very clingy when I got home. I put on her thin reflective vest (I've previously found that she finds it easier to settle when her body is wrapped - she'd be a good candidate for a Thundershirt, but since we have storms so infrequently I haven't yet gotten round to getting one) and drew the curtains, put the lights on, and cranked up the volume on the music.

Jess, who aside from her weirdness with strange dogs is fairly stoic, pretty much spent the whole time pressed against me on my lap, whilst Lola... reactive, sound-sensitive, somewhat neophobic Lola was totally unconcerned when we were indoors. She didn't even flinch at the loud booms. In fact, she even got the zoomies - and crazily so. At one point, while I was sat on the floor putting on Jessie's vest, she leapt up onto my shoulder/head for a split second, and then bounced forward, sailing over my head and onto the couch. She brought me a couple of toys, and then happily chewed one on my lap before she fell asleep on it.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Brenda Aloff - 'Aggression In Dogs.' (Section 3.)

SECTION 3: Pathways of Aggression

15Classification *

'Labels are detrimental to modifying behaviour if you use them to characterize the animal or allow them to limit your thinking. Labels can follow an individual long after they have outlived their usefulness. Labels themselves do not solve a problem and may cloud the real issues. [...] Classifying behaviour can serve a purpose, as long as those classifications are used thoughtfully and accurately and are not overused. If the classification is used as a short way to describe observable behaviour, then it may expedite your thinking and note-taking.' (p93)

'Vacuum Activity is a response in the absence of the stimulus that usually produces it. If the animal does not have a response or coping mechanism for a particular context, a "vacuum" is created. The dog will "fill" this vacuum with an activity that is often inappropriate. Aggression is one of those responses a dog may fall back on if he is stressed or frustrated and does not have a previously conditioned behaviour to fill the void.' (p94)

'One aspect of classifying behaviour involves determining whether the dog is "normal" or "abnormal" [...] A general definition of "normal" is a spectrum of behaviour that is exhibited by the vast majority of dogs, or at least by most dogs of a given breed (normal for that breed). More specifically, a normal dog has behaviours that are within the range of typical dogs and also has a typical ability to learn new behaviours and habituate to new environments. Normal dogs, by virtue of both their genetics and their socialization, are, most importantly, chemically normal . . . though they may have some undesirable behaviours, they will be able to learn new, better behaviours at a reasonable rate.' (p94)

Classifications of Aggression:
'- Developmental Stages - Lack of Socialization, Interspecies
- Developmental Stages - Lack of Socialization, Intraspecies
- Excessive Breed Tendencies, or Lack of These
- Human Selection for Aggression in Dogs
- Control Conflict Aggression
- Dog-to-Dog Aggression . . .
- Fear Aggression
- Idiopathic Aggression
- Learned Aggression
- Maternal Aggression
- Neophobia
- Pain-Related Aggression
- Play Aggression
- Possessive Aggression
- Possessive Aggression - Food Related
- Predatory Aggression
- Protective Aggression
- Redirected Aggression
- Territorial Aggression' (p96)

'Lack of Socialization - Intraspecies
Lack of experience with a dog's own species leads to fearful behaviour and, possibly, defensive aggression directed toward its own species in a general, blanket manner [...] This is commonly seen in dogs who are removed from their mother and littermates at 2 to 6 weeks of age.' (p96-97)

'Lack of Socialization - Interspecies
Lack of experience with a wide variety of humans leaves many dogs fearful (therefore opening the door for aggression) toward humans wearing hats, walking with crutches, or even of different races than they have been exposed to. For some animals, any human that they do not know well is suspect and is treated with extreme caution or fear. [...] For these dogs, any human, other than those well-known, is immediately considered a threat, as is any body language people exhibit that the dog is not familiar with.
This category has the easy solution: education should provide the "fix," provided the dog is able to habituate (has normal adaptive behaviour).' (p97)

'Excessive Breed Tendencies, or Lack of These
Excessive breeding created dogs who were bred for a specific original purpose. . . . The highest percentage of purebred dogs will fall in a middle range for these traits. Because of genetic variation, however, there are individuals who possess either a lack of these breed-specific traits or excessive breed tendencies. [...]
Because your dog is of a particular breed is NOT a valid reason for dangerous behaviour. . . . People who use the breed as an excuse for lack of socialization and lack of education for their dog are a major source of dog problems.' (p97-98)

'Human Selection for Aggression in Dogs
Some breeds have been specifically selected for high intensity, frequency, and duration of aggression with low thresholds for stimulation of defensive or guarding behaviours.
These traits also occur in breeding programs where the owners carelessly bred undesirable-temperamented dogs because they have desirable physical traits.' (p98)

'Control Conflict Aggression
[...] The animal who discretely fits into this category is indeed abnormal. These animals are obsessive about rank order, and seem to think of almost nothing else. . . . The dogs classified under this heading are constantly on the lookout for some "slight" to their authority or status - control freaks to the nth degree - and are ready to do battle over it each and every time. Their immediate response to most social situations is to use aggression or assertive behaviour . . . to maintain status. [...] This behaviour stems from a dog being maladaptive and insecure and who is struggling to cope with this innate insecurity.' (p99)

'Fear Aggression
This classification depends on the intensity of the aggressive behaviour and the context in which it occurs. It is normal for  dogs to bite if they are extremely frightened. However, some dogs have suc a low threshold for fear that they become defensive and bite even when the threat is negligible or non-existent.
Fear-based aggression is often accompanied by urination and defecation while the dog is behaving in a defensive manner.' (p101)

'Idiopathic Aggression
Idiopathic means "for no reason." [...]
- Extreme force and violence.
- Extremely unpredictable. . . .
- May attack humans, dogs or inanimate objects.
- Usually does not show aggressive tendencies at other times.
- May look confused with glazed eyes (sympathetic nervous system response) just prior to attack.
- 1-3 years of age.
There is documented prevalence in English Springer Spaniels, American Cocker Spaniels and St. Bernards.' (p102)

'Dog-to-Dog Aggression
[...] Dog-to-Dog aAggression is a very generalized category to designate dogs who are socially not just inept, but who are actively "looking for" trouble with other dogs. Aggression is a consistent response to other dogs,a nd this dog will use aggression, ignoring signals from other dogs. This aggression occurs in absence of threat behaviour from the other dog; in fact, the other dog may be socially appropriate in every way, and this dog will still use aggression.' (p102-103)

'Learned Aggression
As soon as an animal learns that aggression leads to a successful outcome, aggression is readily accessed. [...] When using learned aggression as one classification, 99% of the time there is an additional classification used to describe the specific triggers: Fear aggression, Possessive aggression, etc.' (p103)

'Maternal Aggression
Hormonal changes or inherited temperament tendencies may cause a new mother to launch intense attacks on strangers (dog or human) who approach her puppies.' (p103)

These dogs react to EVERY new situation, location or object with behaviour that ranges from cautious to terrified. The dog will exhibit intense avoidance behaviours, verging on and sometimes extending into panic. It is as if these dogs have no "rebound" or ability to adapt to anything unfamiliar to them. This is definitely an abnormality because the lack of ability to habituate is at the root of this classification. . . . Dogs unable to habituate are clearly maladaptive in some way.' (p104)

'Pain-Related Aggression
Grading pain in an animal who cannot speak is difficult at best. Some animals are incredibly stoical and some just the opposite . . . pain is variable and subjective, not just among different individuals, but even within the same animal. [...]
Any animal who is injured may become defensive or bite if you attempt to approach, especially if you are manipulating her body and it increases the pain. . . . Some animals show aggression when they anticipate pain.' (p104-105)

'Play Aggression
These dogs begin interacting with others by exhibiting obvious play behaviours. However, once a certain threshold of stimulation is exceeded, the dog's behaviour begins to escalate rapidly into intense threatening actions. [...]
To fall into this category, the dog must consistently display an intent to harm in circumstances where normally dogs would display play behaviours without losing sight of the fact that it is "play." . . . Aggression may also be directed toward humans who are playing with the dog, once certain stimulation thresholds have been exceeded in the dog.' (p105-106)

'Possessive Aggression
[...] The dog will actively and consistently use agonistic display and confrontational behaviour to obtain or retain a valued object is. The resource importance is:
- defined by the dog
- not related to status issues.' (p106)

'Possessive Aggression - Food Related
These dogs typically guard a food bowl (which may generalize into guarding the location where the food bowl is kept) or special food treats such as pig ears.' (p107)

'Predatory Aggression
Hunting is normal behaviour for dogs. Selective breeding has given us a wide array of predatory behaviours. [...]
For dogs who are to be used for any original purpose (excepting breeds like the toy, non-sporting and drafting breeds), a high degree of predatory behaviour specific to that breed is desirable. . . . Predation can be expressed in a variety of ways: chasing bikes or joggers, chasing a ball, and carrying a fuzzy toy are all forms of predation. [...]
Because dogs are domestic animals, selecting human children or adults as targets for predation by exhibiting stalking or other predatory-type behaviours is abnormal. . . . [This refers to] dogs who are seriously looking at toddlers or infants as "wounded" because of the way they are moving and are intensely honing in on them. It appears as though, in the face of certain stimuli, the dog is unable to distinguish the difference between inappropriate and appropriate prey and unable to exert control over his behaviour. [...]
Predatory aggression is quiet aggression, not the normal snarling, growling kind of stuff that is preceded by stiff-legged posturing. Prey behaviours can include intense stares, quiet approaches, body-lowering, tail-twitching, salivating, stalking. Dogs in prey move will silently and quickly approach their target. One fierce, very hard, full-mouth bite accompanied by shaking the selected target is a common indicator of predatory behaviour. The dog is focused so intently on his prey that interrupting the behaviour is extremely difficult. [...]
Predatory Drift can occur dog-to-dog. In this case, under normal circumstances, the dogs would coexist just fine, but certain stimuli trigger a limbic response where one dog begins to see the other dog as prey. This is prevalent in the terrier breeds and is also seen in herding breeds, particularly the herding/guarding types, such as Malinois or GSD's.' (p107-108)

'Protective Aggression
A third-party approach will provoke an aggressive response, even though the approaching party is clearly not threatening. This would be a consistent response to third-party approaches or at least a predominant response. [...]
Often people don't even realize that the dog is exhibiting subtle guarding behaviours, and so they don't do anything about it until the dog, taking the person's non-reactive as permission, begins to exhibit more intense displays.' (p109-111)

'Redirected Aggression
Redirected aggression is aggression that is consistently displayed toward a third party when the dog is interrupted or prevented from directing the agonistic behaviour toward the original target. The dog, when excited or aroused, no matter the original cause, will turn and "unload" the aggression onto the closest or most available target.' (p111)

'Territorial Aggression
Establishing and defending territory are basic behaviours in the majority of species. A boundary (determined by the dog) will be actively defended against all parties that the dog decides are intruders. [...]
Territorial aggression in particular becomes a problem for dogs who are unsupervised and allowed to practice the behaviour frequently unchecked by their humans. This also becomes a problem for dogs who take the job overly seriously when people are entering territory, such as through your front door.' (p112)

16Stuff That Drives Your Dog Crazy

'Entrapment transpires when you ask for or encourage the dog to behave in a certain way, and then the behaviour is punished when it does occur.' (p116)

'Frustration results when the dog is prevented from fulfilling a desire or accomplishing a purpose. Frustration causes a dog to become aroused and over-reactive. Extreme frustration may certainly result in the aggression being redirected from the original source or arousal to whatever or whomever is next to the dog at the time.' (p116)

'All dogs get "fired up" over something. These are two components to observe when you are evaluating high states of arousal:
- Some dogs become aroused very easily (reactive under low stimuli).
- Some dogs have extremely slow recovery - they take a long time to return to a calm, rational state.' (p117)

'Conflict can occur in varying degrees and, of course, not all permutations of conflict will cause an organism to behave in a maladaptive way.' (p119)

'A dos displays active defensive behaviour because he doesn't think he has any choice. Once this occurs a few times (or, in some instances, there is one-trial learning) the response becomes habit - the behaviour the dog accesses FIRST when presented with a particular stimulus.' (p120)

* - There is a lot more information (such as topographies of certain forms of aggression) in the book.

Betty Smith - 'The Jack Russell Terrier.'

Two: Pressing on Regardless

'[The Jack Russell Terrier] has a character all of its own, combining gaity, intelligence, lovingness, faithfulness, a keen sense of humour,a nd a wonderfully reliable temperament, with toughness, grit, gameness, quickness, a tremendous capacity for unflagging keenness and hard work, as well as good nose and eye - but I was becoming more and more impressed by their all-round suitability for almost any home or job.' (p14)

'Being small and nippy, [Jack Russells] can dodge like lightning, and have a grip like a bear-trap. They are wonderful guards, and will willingly defend their owners or their owners' belongings to the death.' (p15)

Three: Type and Temperament

'The over-aggressive terrier is just as big a risk as the obviously nervous or timid one, and I am sure that the root cause is the same - FEAR. . . . A really courageous dog is seldom aggressive, unless provoked.' (p23)

Four: Intelligence

'A stupid dog is a boring dog, although he can be amusing at times, but one's amusement is tempered with pity, as [...it...] is always rather pathetic. A really intelligent terrier, on the other hand, is a continual joy and a sheer pleasure to work with.' (p24)

Five: Starting from Scratch

'. . . a good Jack Russell bitch is worth her weight in uranium, and if the owners are willing to part with her, they are either nuts, or there is something wrong with hte bitch. And, as I have said elsewhere in this volume, a good brood bitch is all important - especially as regards temperament and working qualities. Also working bitches are funny - and if they have become really attached to their owners they may not settle well with anyone else. In fact, the better the bitch the more devoted she is, and the more accustomed to working exclusively for one person.' (p28)

Six: House-Training

'The great secrets of puppy training are watchfulness, regularity, patience, quickness and gentleness, and love and understanding.' (p33)

Eight: Mating

'Jack Russell bitches, in my experience, are incorrigible flirts, but frequently extremely choosy about their mates - often showing an unaccountable preference for the most unsuitable ones . . . or indeed anything except their chosen Jack Russell mate.' (p44)

Thirteen: Further Training

'Adolescent trainers, parted from the benign influence of well-trained, older dogs, can occasionally be troublesome and naughty.' (p64)

'Given the proverbial inch, terriers will take an ell.' (p65)

Fourteen: A Dog is a Dog is a Dog

'The great secret, I think, is never to think of a dog as merely a pet, or a useful worker, or as part of the family, but as a character in his own right, inheriting all the innate instincts and working qualities for which his breed was originally evolved, and which have gradually become fixed throughout the generations.' (p69)

Sixteen: Foxes, Badgers, Rats and Ferrets

'The great secret of making a good Jack Russell is (a) never give any conflicting or stupid orders - in other words, THINK before you speak, (b) always remain cool, quiet and firm, and (c) see that your orders are carried out. Never let a Jack Russell get the better of you.' (p75)

Sunday Summary.

It's been a while since I've done one of these! Lola still really hates the tape measure, too.

Weight - 30lbs (she's a pound or so overweight at the moment again).
Height - 16.5'' at the withers
Length - 16'' from base of neck to base of tail..

Weight - 12lbs.
Height - 12.5'' at the withers.
Length - 13'' from base of neck to base of tail.

Friday, 5 August 2011

(Late) Tricky T-Day: Turkey.

Late Tricky T-day, but here's Lola's brand new impression of a turkey. :)

It's Been a While!

I've been being incredibly lazy lately, since the weather has been hideous. Haven't been out with Lola other than for daily or twice daily walks at the park, as she's more reactive and anxious when it's raining if we go up town. Hopefully the weather picks up tomorrow, but in the mean time enjoy some photos!