'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

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Nearly a Year.

Kinkajou, the only identifiable and named mouse so far - my confident little buddy.

First up, most of the mouse-related stuff (photos and videos of them, most of the stuff written about them that doesn't relate to dog/mouse interactions, etc) will be at The Court of Bare Tails now. Mondays are going to be mouse update days here too (for dog/mouse interactions and the occasional photo), but for you mouse-phobic or mouse-hatin' folk, just don't go to the other blog!

And in other news, on Saturday the little dog will be a year old, meaning she's been here around ten months now. It's weird: feels like she's been here a few weeks and all my life, at the same time. It's a little strange, but in a good way. :)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

New Tails.

Sooo... I may have mentioned once or twice that we were going to have some new arrivals here at the Court of Tails.

And, well, here they are.

Four champagne tan does from Madhouse Stud.

It's hard to tell because, although they are very sociable (before they went in the tank, I had one sat on my hand cleaning itself), they are understandably nervous right now. They're in a New Environment with New Smells and Noisy Strange Animals (though thankfully the breeder, Madhouse Stud, actually has a dog too so they aren't totally unused to the smell of dogs) and a Strange Weird Thing who is trying very hard not to squeal with delight over them.


The dogs are put out because they can't go in "their" room right now (letting the mice have a peaceful settling in evening before we bombard them with anything).

Monday, 26 September 2011


Lola is very, very enthusiastic about her cue to touch my hand with her nose.

I could safely say it's up in her top three cues.

My hand is about a metre off of the ground in this photo.

I woke up today planning to ring the vets about Jess's limp... which has mysteriously gone now. Very weird. Since I would have been booking the appointment for Wednesday, being as that is my first day off of the week, I'll see how she is on Wednesday and, if necessary, ring then. She's a strange dog.

University is very consuming at the moment. I'm being a Good Student and actually making plans for things I have to read, for when assignments are due, and so on.

Something Interesting (well--to me!) is happening tomorrow evening, and I'll share that tomorrow (and will catch up with everyone tomorrow - I'm such a bad blogger at the moment). Something Interesting with regards to Lola's dog issues happened today too: again, I'll explain tomorrow. Look for a lot of comments and a big ol' post soon enough!

For now, have a nice quote from Shklovsky, who I'm liking more and more in my studies:
"If the whole complex lives of many people go on unconsciously, then such lives are as if they had never been.” And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar,’ to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object: the object is not important."

Friday, 23 September 2011

Day in the life of a Jess.

 Pose with the common folk.

Dance for your supper.

Beg for it.

Look like a pretty girl.

Stare lovingly at your mum('s food).

Give your mum a high-five.

Run back for food!

Stand with the commoners some more.

Jump! Jump! Jump!

And fetch... if you feel like it. :)


Jessie isn't feeling too well at the moment. Her age seems to be catching up to her! She's been playing a lot of fetch in the mornings with me and Lola--which she usually doesn't lower herself to do, as she's far too superior to play fetch--and I think she's pulled a muscle or something, as she's been sitting funny and limping for the last three or four hours. There's nothing I can do over the weekend (other than ring the emergency-vet, which I'd only do if it was an actual emergency), and I'm crossing my fingers that it's just a little ache that will be gone by Monday. If not, it'll be vet time for the old girl!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

An Update.

 Today, me and Lola met up briefly with Kelly at the train station (I was getting her xbox, since mine decided to die a couple of days ago). Lola got out of the car at the station and, after cautiously sniffing her, began wagging her tail. She wasn't doing her full body, can-barely-move wiggle, or yapping and squealing, but she seemed pleased to see her. That was pretty nice.

Yesterday, too, I went up town with Lola, with her dinner. She wasn't too hungry because someone had been spoiling her while I was at university, so she probably ate about fifteen or so pieces of kibble - she usually would have four or five times that many! Despite that, she was keen and focused on me, and although we passed some weird things (mostly kids, and a variety of people in the oncoming dimness/darkness) she was very good and quiet. She's a good dog--sometimes!

Monday, 19 September 2011

And so it begins...

University has started again, as of today, which means I'm in for another year of early mornings and early nights. It's been pretty heavy on my mind the last week or so, hence the fairly sporadic posts (and that I haven't posted on blogs - I'll be catching up tomorrow though!), but once I get into the rhythm again everything should be fine. Lola had to deal with being home alone (with Jess) for around six hours today, and it will be the same again on Friday. She didn't poop anywhere (in fact, when I got home and let her out she immediately went in the yard) but she DID pee - on my bed! Not cool. She has an aversion to toileting on things like beds, couches and blankets, and has only ever peed on the bed once before (when she was young, shortly after I moved upstairs for overnight because I was sleeping too deeply to awake when she wanted to go). The only thing I can think of is that it was because of excitement - she sometimes has problems (very rarely, mind) with controlling her bladder when excited, and we had at least two attempted deliveries of things today, which would have led to a lot of excited barking. Silly dog. Tomorrow my mum is off work to look after the dogs (it's my LONG day - they would be alone around eleven hours otherwise, eurgh!) and then I don't have university again until Friday. Not bad! Hope all of you are happy and well, and like I said we will catch up soon!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Saturday Showers.

The rain makes for a very sad Jess.

We'll have more to talk about soon! I promise!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Monday, 12 September 2011

Moody/Muddy Monday.

From a few days ago... she was only out for half an hour!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Ongoing Saga of a Puppy and a Girl.

I've mentioned before about the relationship between Lola and my friend Kelly, and it's getting better all the time.

K came around yesterday and slept over. Lola growled a little when she first came in--but that was just one growl, and I think it was before she realised who it was (she's growled softly at my mum and similar before, when she's uncertain about who has come through the door), but she even wagged her tail a little as she moved to investigate.

L still doesn't want Kelly to touch her really (though she did allow K to pet her once, briefly, before she moved away), but with her meal last night I used shaping, luring and just verbal cues to get her repeatedly to jump up onto K's lap. She wasn't 100% relaxed about it, but she laid down on K's lap for a few seconds between kibble deliveries, and only jumped off when Kelly moved to touch her. Things that happen very much have to be On Lola's Terms.

Aside from growling at Kelly's arrival, Lola only grumbled twice more: once briefly when Kelly first appeared this morning (as we'd gotten up an hour or so beforehand - I think Lola forgot she was there) and once for a more extended period of time after K had showered. I guess her smell had changed, and it unnerved Lola for a couple of minutes before she dared to approach her.

Lola repeatedly offered some very nice behaviours: sniffing Kelly, wagging her tail at her, calmly meeting her gaze, not skittering away if K moved toward her, not growling if she stood up, etc. Their relationship still isn't perfect, but it's definitely coming on in leaps and bounds.

And I think all the work is helping Lola even more in daily, outdoors situations, too. An hour or so ago, when me and Lola accompanied K to the train station, there was a large black labrador on the other side of the road. Lola was very much aroused by its presence--tail right up and curved, hackles raised--but she didn't bounce too much (just once), and didn't vocalise at all. Good girl.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A Study of Jess.

Somebody is starting to look chubby again. Jessie's body is so weird - she flits from uncomfortably thin (for a getting-older, lazy, not at all conditioned dog) to kind of fat, for no reason I can discern. Since she is now on a decent dry food, finally, I'm going to be trying to manage that to keep her weight at a better average over winter. Ping-ponging from thin to fat can't be good for her poor old body.

In the mean time, she's most unimpressed by the reduced food at meal times, and the fact she now has to get her food out of kongs. The only reason I've averted a doggy riot so far is the kibble she's been getting for being such a poser.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Silly Sunday.

These were taken a couple of days ago, but I forgot to upload them. My girls make good little old ladies.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

What makes a good handler?

Just like children, dogs need rules, boundaries and limitations.

A good handler must balance discipline and affection, for leaning too far in either direction can have undesirable consequences.

The dog owner who corrects every inappropriate behaviour is just as 'good' an owner as the one who gives their dog everything and anything. The former may deal with misbehaviour by punishing it; and the latter may cope with the same behaviour by bribing the dog to behave.

A truly good handler is set apart from the aforementioned primarily by being proactive, not reactive. They don't wait for their dog to give 'incorrect' behaviour: they manage the situation so that it is unlikely the dog will even offer that unwanted behaviour. They challenge their dog's body and mind, and give their dog the opportunity to seize control of their life, and make the correct choices. They give their dog appropriate outlets for instinctive, often self-reinforcing behaviour; behaviours that may clash with the human expectation of what is or is not correct. They know when to step back and give their dog more choices, and when to step forward and guide their dog gently on to the correct choice, so that the pattern of behaviour is better established.

Nobody is perfect, but a good handler is god in their dog's eyes.

A dog owned by a good handler doesn't need to worry about offering behaviours, because undesirable behaviour that does occur is dealt with in a consistent and fair manner; and the dog doesn't lack the respect for their handler that comes with the owner yielding to their dog's every demands. The good handler's dog knows self control, and has coping mechanisms to deal with unwanted situations from having a history of interacting with a wide variety of unusual events and occurences.

The good handler's dog works for two reasons: to please their handler, and to earn their paycheck.

Many 'traditional' trainers seem to forget that dogs, just like people, won't work infinitely for social approval. The traditional trainer's dog doesn't just work to please their handler, despite what they may think, but from a desire to avoid punishment. And at the other end of the scale, the dog owned by the person who bribes and yields to it works not to please their owner, but for their paycheck alone, which they get no matter how correctly or incorrectly they perform.

A lot of people consider themselves to be good dog owners--but are they, really? It is hard to step back and look objectively at yourself and your performance as a handler. People are as attached to their methods for training dogs as they are for training children, and a perceived slight on their methods is likely to be met with outrage. It's hard to accept that something you believe might be wrong; and even harder to think about why, exactly, you believe something to be true.

In order to become a good handler, you have to be willing to modify your own behaviour. You have to truly want to change, to know that owe it to yourself and to your dog to become the best handler that you can be, so that you and your dog can develop and grow together. No person and no relationship is perfect, but the relationship between a good handler and their dog is as near to perfection as it will ever get.


First up, the new blogger is weird. I'm not sure if I'm a fan yet, though I usually like more minimalist'y designs.

And secondly, there could be new additions to the Court of Tails soon, depending on my university timetable (need to make sure I have the time for any new additions). I'll know either way, and will update either way, in a fortnight or so. :)

Sorry for being kind of absent on here lately! I've been busy researching, ah, the potential-new-additions; and yesterday I was at Blackpool with my friend going to see Jimmy Carr. He is a hilarious guy, that's for sure.