Breed Specific Legislation- A warning for all breeds.

First of all you will have to bare with me as I am posting this as is.

Over the years different countries and even different states have been hacking away at the rights of dog owners.  The worst of the attacks is Breed Specific Legislation.  While this tends to be aiming at the Pit Bull breed and ripping them away from their families to put them to death, it doesn’t mean it will stop there.

Many fears about the Pit Bull breed is unfounded and is due mainly from uneducated people(and in some cases even owners).  Yes there has been Pit Bull attacks however, there has also been: Lab, Goldens, Poodles, Corgi, as well as any other breed under the sun has bitten humans.  Any living thing here on earth can bite and cause some damage to the human body.  What it really comes down to is the education that is provided to the owners as well as the dogs themselves to make them socially accepted by society.

Education is the key:

With no laws needed for education most owners tend to grab the first dog they see.  And then many do not find the help thinking they know how to raise a dog.  Many owners may take outdated tips from T.V shows who hosts are not really educated with up to date information about dog behavior.  This can leave owners in believing that they must dominate and use force on breeds such as Pit Bulls.  Aggression and force only creates a ticking time bomb as the dog can become aggressive or even afraid due to the training methods used on a dog.  Using more up to date methods such as Positive Reinforcement correctly makes a stable dog who will respond to cues every time he or she is asked.  As there no fall-outs(other than the dogs loving all the positive attention) from this way of training the likely hood of an aggressive dog coming from a Positive Reinforcement home is highly unlikely.

Educating the breeders:

Ranging from Pit Bulls to even doodles- breeders need to understand that they must breed in care of the personality they wish to pass onto the puppies.  The likely hood if they breed two dogs who are highly aggressive to have some aggression in the later line of blood is most likely going to occur.  This has happened in cases of humans when two people have children who have anger issues.  While training can help curve and teach new behaviors we want the dog to perform the puppies will have a better chance if they come from a responsible breeder who takes in count the health of their breeding stock as well as the emotional state of the parent dogs.

Tough look is over rated:

Sadly there are some owners who should not own Pit Bulls as they use them as a status tough guy (or girl ) look.  A dog is not something to add to your looks a dog is a living breathing thing that becomes part of your family.  A large issue with the image of Pit Bulls is thanks to thugs who think the dog makes them look tough and in turn raises a dog who is not socially accepted.  Understand each time you own a Pit Bull YOU are responsible for the rep the breed gets and in turn are the reason of the high death rate in Pit Bulls (I understand there are families who raise Pit Bulls correctly I am talking about the other half who don’t).  Your Pit Bull doesn’t need spikes, chains, chokes, prong, shock, or anything else spiky to make them a Pit Bull or to make them look tough they do not need that image.  Pit Bulls need to be seen for what they really are which are loving caring family pets who more than once have saved their loving family.

Some maybe asking why would a Golden Retriever lover be so worried about a Legislation against Pit Bulls.  I love all breeds of dogs, Pits are no different… I plea with people to get education because if that is in place, bite rates for ALL breeds will go down.  Lets face it, this law should scare all dog owners as any one of our breeds could be next in this Holocaust against dogs.  Take a stand do not allow this to happen…Be an example for your breed, get the education from a force free trainer and understand that you and your dog can make a difference.   Vote those out of office who would tell you who can and can not be part of your family.  The Breed Specific Legislation is unethical and inhumane to put into practice… Punish the deed not the breed.

I hope the many dogs even those who were not Pit Bulls but were called one due to their looks made it safety over the rainbow bridge.  Lets stop this barbaric practice.  Killing breeds will not make a town, city or country safe… Education is the key.

Information for Pit Bulls:

The prototype of the breed originally sprang from crossing the old type of Bulldog with most likely

the English smooth Terrier.  Sadly the way they made it to America is due to their dog fighting skills in the 1800s.  During this time is how they gained their common name today “Pit Bull Terrier”.  Along with that name they were also know by: American Bull Terrier, and Yankee Terrier.  Americans focused more on a bigger size of the dog while the English version was smaller.  As time went on the two blood lines ended up diverging and in 1936 the ACK recognized the breed as Staffordshire Terrier.    As breeders where breeding the dog they were aiming for a loving trusting dog which at times was misused.

Temperament: Typically docile and playful with family, if socialized correctly they are also friendly with strangers.  While this dog breed is good around children NO dog should ever be left alone with a child.  Nor should a child be allowed to rough house with any breed.

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Bullies come in all forms and all walks of life.

I’ve been called a fluffy, cookie pusher/treat dealer, briber, wimp, and the oddest of them all a hippie pot smoking trainer, among other terms, but those were the ones that stood out in my mind.  I have been told our methods (positive dog trainers) are CRAP right to my face (as well as had people laugh at me, and belittle me), or have people state my line of work is a wish wash of a method that only works if you have a treat in hand….I have been told that dogs forget our training methods after a short time and never remember the command. And also that our methods only works on certain dogs. I have been bullied around because I am a Positive Reinforcement trainer (Online and offline).  I have even had people try to claim I do not understand dog behavior due to the fact I use Positive Reinforcement, even though I have gone through school for it as well as working towards my PhD in animal behavior, not to mention years of hands-on experience.   Yet I for some reason do not know a thing because I decided to go with up to date science when it comes to dog behavior. But you know what? When it comes down to the truth, it’s about a lack of education for those who would call positive reinforcement any of the previously mentioned statements. But that can be remedied.

I would like to point out some quick facts/statements about Positive Reinforcement:

1: It DOES work with all dogs… if it did not work you are doing it wrong.  This even means aggressive, fearful, man eating dogs can be worked with and become a better member of society.

2: Dogs do NOT forget everything you train them with Positive Reinforcement.  There have been award winning dogs in competitions that are only trained with Positive Reinforcement.

3: No I do not need a treat every time I ask for a command.  Treats (could be a toy praise or yes even food) are weaned off from the dog over time and eventually the dog responds to the command without the treat.

4: When we compare dogs to humans we are not saying the dog is a human or should be treated as such.  We are referring to the fact that science has PROVEN dogs have the brain power of at least a child of 2-4 years of age.  We then ask owners/ trainers to ask themselves how do you educate a being with that kind of thought power and have the best results with no fallout issues. With dedication, that intelligence can get to that of an adolescent human.

5:  We are not telling owners to let their dogs walk all over them.  Positive Reinforcement doesn’t mean you be a push over.

6: Positive Reinforcement is working towards getting your dog to think on its own, to work out the issues and gain a reward for figuring it out.  Out in the wild dogs will avoid pain, and other harsh things that are used in pack theory/negative Reinforcement, but dogs will WORK HARDER and longer to gain something that increases something good such as a food reward… Think of it this way; you go to work to get paid so you can feed yourself, cloth yourself and so on. This same theory works for all dogs.

7:  There is a difference between a leader and a bully; a Leader shows and teaches a dog what to do, while a bully uses force and pain in many forms to get what they want.

8:  Your dog does NOT view you as another dog. Do you look like a dog? No, thus your dog will not be eyeing you as a “Pack leader”.  Dogs are also social groups, not pack groups. They have different learning styles and living styles than that of a wolf pack.  Your dog looks to you for guidance and to show them what behavior you want out of them. This is the leader they are eyeing you to be.

9:  Positive Reinforcement has been around for a while now, sadly there are some “celebrity” T.V trainers who are unable to get with the times and the science so they can spread the word worldwide of what truly is fact.  It is stated that it can take 10-20 years for newer theories to catch on with the general public, for that theory to be general knowledge.

10: Yes, science has backed us up and will keep on backing us up. Science is the mainstay of our modern world for finding out all the answers of the world and the lives in it, including behavior. There is no sense in denying it.

11: We are NOT saying negative training does not work (shock, prong, choke), it’s more so the execution of the method that matter’s most, as well as the outcome.  On the surface it works, but at what cost?  Health issues have been linked to these types of training methods as well as massive fall outs in behaviors leading to aggression, fearfulness and feelings of helplessness.   There is no real fall out if I miss a click with my dog clicker or miss a food treat, but giving a nice shock or “pop” will give a negative association to whatever you were trying to train the dog with in negative terms.  It is easier to retrain a behavior if a client or I messed up with positive methods rather than the opposite, where we could end up getting a dog that is willing to bite my face off for it.

12:  Have I been bitten? No, does that mean I must suck as a dog trainer?? NO, it means I do not push the dog over its limit when it comes to their flight or fight mode.  I have known trainers or even dog walkers to state they have gotten aggressive dogs to bloom and they have the “Bites” to prove it.  If they had updated their education they might have been able to get the same results if not better and without getting bitten.  Is there a chance I could get bit?  Yes, but most likely that will be because it was an off day and I was not paying attention to what the dog was trying to tell me.

13:  We understand your dog is a living breathing thing and as such you cannot find a quick cure/rout when it comes to educating your dog.  Yes, shock collar trainers can get your dog to stick around (though I have seen dogs run away from their owners … (wouldn’t you run away?)- But a lot of times when a shock collar trainer or owner removes the collar the dog couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the human, owner or otherwise.  However, with Positive Reinforcement we have dogs coming back to us because they want to.   Yes, we are able to train for snake avoidance and deer avoidance and that is not using slave like training methods.

14: Are our dogs perfect?  No, and nor are the negative trainers’ dogs… Once again they are living beings; they have their off days just like humans.  No human is perfect, but nor is any other dog. There will be those days where a behavior that needs changing keeps on happening, but then you just need to refresh the training of the behavior you want (and yes that happens with the negative training methods as well.. if you don’t use it you lose it).

As a trainer and as a human being I want people to know that yes we do keep up with the science that is WHY we are Positive Reinforcement trainers.  We believe the human race is or at least should be evolved enough to move pass using painful methods when there are OTHER methods out there in the world proven to work.  And most of all we are here because we care about animal behavior and want to encourage a healthy education for your dogs.  Positive Reinforcement does not mean passive.  We work hard and we get the results.

So please bullies, whether you are an owner or a negative trainer don’t waste your time on bullying me; go read a book that has updated education about dog training.  I don’t need to hear you yell or even type yell as you try to force your outdated methods down my throat.  This doesn’t mean you can bully the people who are trying to cross over, or has started off right away with Positive Reinforcement.  We are no less of a trainer because we may use clickers, toys, or some form of reward to initially mark a behavior we want.  And our results are no less than the results you are getting by kicking, hanging, popping, shocking, rolling and god knows what else you use in your “tool box”.  I am happy that Positive Reinforcement is getting more of the spot light and the more it does bullies/negative trainers will have to catch up with the times or be left out on the side lines.

Yes, I know it has been a while-updates

I am sorry for those who have been stopping in and not seeing a new  update.  During the winter, the pups and I kind of go into deep freeze.   My once hyper pups  slow down and hate going outside.  Aya will even roll on her back and cry or hold her paws up within five minutes of being outside for a walk.  I will have to find a new place to start my videos.  After this winter our fence was attack by the evil Ice doers taking down large parts of my fence.  So hopefully we will get that fixed or I will find a safe place to work videos.

On other news Concord New Hampshire dog owners, or towns nearby.  E-mail the head of the local dog park/ facebook them and let them know you would like group classes!! I am trying to work with the local dog park, and give 50% of my profits back to the park itself for repairs.  The more people who ask for it the faster it can come.  This is a great way to support your dog park and have affordable classes.  Classes will be once a week, unless we have large group then we will have to look into setting up a second day.  It will take place in the small dog park area and each class will be an hour long.  Feel free to check out and leave messages on their face book at:http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=292039794761  If this link does not work look up Friends of the concord dog park!

Shortly I will be adding another toy review as well as talking about natural ways to keep the ticks and fleas away; I will also be adding some more blogs on training within the week as well as some hot topics for dog owners.  Hopefully the interview of “Tommy” will be added soon as I feel it is a story that should be told and hopefully open and change minds of some owners who is using outdated treatment towards dogs.

Social Time- Not just for humans

“Dogs should be left at home on the couch, not in public.” Too many times I have heard this or some other variation of this statement. We as dog owners are lazy at times, not willing to put the time in that our dogs need for socialization. In turn we have dogs that are not socialized, high strung, and unable to deal with changes in their settings, which leads to a very unhealthy dog. This leads to destruction of property, dog bites, higher vet bills, and a dog who doesn’t understand the world. Here are the top questions about socializing your dogs.

1: When should I start to socialize my dog?
A: The very first day you get your dog/puppy. If you are getting a puppy from a responsible breeder ask the breeder what type of training or socialization the puppies are getting during week 7 of it’s puppyhood, as this is when the first fear imprint period takes place. You want a breeder or foster home of the puppy to be working on positive environmental experiences. This is important as this can lead to how your dog reacts to everyday things in his or her life.

2:My dog meets people/dogs who come to my house and is fine. I don’t really need to do anything else do I?
YES! Dogs who may be fine with being in his or her own den (House) are most likely more confident, but as soon as your dog leaves your home, everything is brand new and that confidence will quickly turn into fear, which can lead to issues such as dog fights. This is also true about training; just because your dog is perfect at your home, as soon as the settings change it will feel as if he left his brain somewhere not understanding what you want from him/her. Dogs are contextual animals, meaning even though you were able to train the dog to sit perfect in your house or somewhere else as soon as you move him/her to a different surface, your dog will need to be retrained to sit, or any other command on that different surface or area.

3: What Social Activates can I do with my Dog?
A: There are many different things you can do to help socialize your dog, such as: Car rides, sitting outside of a store (training it as people come and go), puppy play groups, or professional canine sports such as Dock Dogs, Fly Ball, or Disc Dogs. There are also breed clubs (which do different activates for the breed of your dog), hunting (depending on breeds), walks, hiking, sniff and rescue, professional dog training classes, and much more! Check out Spirit of the Okami Blog “The Green Paw” for updates about different activities you can enjoy with your dog.

The main thing to always keep in mind is DO NOT rush your dog into something that he/she may be scared of. If the dog is showing fear, do not baby the dog, but instead slowly encourage the dog to make improvements, this means no yelling, hitting, or any negative actions from you as this will only imprint the fear even more so.
But most importantly, have FUN with your dog!

Responsible Dog Owners- We all need to play a part

Spirit of the Okami Responsible Dog Owners 101 – Out in Public

 

Often, I tell dog owners that we need to make sure we are responsible. As dog owner’s we have little rights, and pleasures we can take part in with our dogs are few for now. Here are some common things that all dog owners should go over and remember.

 Out for a walk: Do I have extra poop bags- It’s the law. If your dog poops on your walk clean it up and make sure you have extra bags, seeing some dogs poop multiple times in one walk. If you see someone else’s poop and have extra room in your poop bag, PICK IT UP. It may not be yours, but it will be you and the rest of us who lose rights to walk in that area with our dog if not maintained. Poop from a sick dog can and will pass onto a healthy dog, and the sickness can last up to 9 months! Keep your area clean and keep your dog’s healthy.. Give a woof and clean up after you and your dog!

Leashing your dog: Many things can happen with an off leash dog. Unwanted confrontations with pedestrians, children, other dogs, or other animals are on the list, and they may all not end that pleasant. In addition, if you have your dog off leash and he/she is running around, you may not see where he or she is pooping or control where they are peeing. Example of this: we as dog owners may not be welcome to walk through Concord cemetery’s due to owners letting their dogs off leash and letting them pee/poop on grave stones, and all the while not pick it up! This has already happened for beaches in N.H. We can’t even take our dogs to some of the best beaches! Keep an eye on your dog, and keep him or her leashed at ALL times.

Everyone loves your dog: This is not always the case. Having a leash will make sure your dog doesn’t jump up on people, but if your dog is in training you may want to ask people not to touch your dog! This will protect your dog if he/she is afraid of other humans and also train your dog that they don’t need attention from every human being. Some people also really don’t understand the dog language and your dog may not want to be touched at that time. Stick up for your dog, and do not worry what others may think when you ask them not to touch.

 My Dog loves every dog: Far from it, while your dog may get along with many others, there will be some dogs that yours just doesn’t feel right around. Learn your dog’s body language heck learn what they are trying to tell you dogs have their own language and many dog owners do not look into this.. This leads to fights that could have been avoided!

 Fix or not to Fix: It doesn’t hurt to fix your dog, for a variety of reasons. But if you’re a dog owner who wishes to keep your dog how he or she was born, you need to be responsible!! Your dog should never be left alone in public, and a female in heat should NEVER be off leash. You don’t want your dog coming home pregnant!

Dog park 101 what we all need to remember!

Spirit of the Okami

Dog Park’s 101 – Do’s and Don’ts

Yes, it is true! We have places that our furry family member can go off leash and play!  However, there are some tips and rules that should be followed at all times!  There is a reason that there are rules, and not paying attention to them can cause your dog, or yourself, potential harm. This is meant as a resourceful guide to protect you and your dog.

1:  Do not let your dog drink out of water bowls at a dog park!  There are sicknesses that can be spread through those bowls and you do not know when or how they were cleaned.

2:  Kennel cough:  It has been on the rise and this sickness can stay on a surface easily up to 6 months, and ANY surface can carry it (yes, especially a parks dog bowls).  Have your dog vaccinated every six months in order to stay safe.

3:  “My small dog loves big dogs” is a common statement among dog owners. A good number of big dogs may love small dogs, but quite a few may easily hate your little dog too.  Dog parks usually have large dog/small dog areas for a reason, and it’s just not out of preference!  Protect your animal and use the proper park for your sized pooch.

4:  While it’s great to chat with dog owners at a park, DO NOT take your eyes off your dog! While things may be going fine, just one wrong move can set off dog fights.  You’re there primarily for your dog!  People come second!

5: Smokers, please properly dispose of cigarettes. If you toss it anywhere, dogs WILL eat them, and potentially get sick.

6: Clean up after your dog. You need to know where it left its “present” in order to be a good, responsible dog owner! No one want’s a messy shoe (or paw).

7:  If it’s your first time at the park, do not rush your dog into it. He/she may be scared, whether you notice the signs or not. Be patient, and pay attention to your dog’s feelings. It can save stress down the road!

8: If you see a new dog trying to come in, remove your dog from the entry way as this can help the new owner and his/her dog enter without a hassle. It will take away any chance of a fight breaking out. Dog’s need their personal space.

9:  If your dog is hackling (hair standing up on back) do not take your dog into the park right away. This is a KEY sign that your dog is not feeling comfortable and is about to snap.  Give your dog a time out to relax him or her before entering the park.

10:  If your dog is starting to push other dogs around, your dog may need a time out, or it’s time to leave the park all together.  If your dog starts a dog fight, another dog could be hurt, which means you will be paying the vet bills (and no one want’s that!).  If a human gets bitten, your dog can get in serious trouble, and in extreme cases, be euthanized. No one want’s that to happen, so pay attention to your dog’s temperament, as well as the dog’s surrounding him/her.

Follow the rules at the dog park. They’re for your safety, and your dogs!

The Kong Wobba

Yes, I know this post is late… and I am sorry for that.  First of all I had to do more testing on the wobba.  This time around I had gotten two toys, each for one dog.  I can face it… my dog Nyssa is a Diva, and she demands her own of everything.  On top of that I had a loss the in the family which is why I did not post the other night like I was planning onto.  Any who, on with the show as they say.

The Kong Wobba is made of two Balls; yes that is right two balls.  One is a large white while the other is a tennis ball.  How could I know without pulling it apart, well I will get to that in a little bit.  Like I said before I had gotten two, Mr. Pink and Mr. Purple.  Everything was going well with the toys each dog would take turns pulling on the tentacles as the other pulled on the top… Sometimes I would catch them sleeping with their wobbas.  One day I went out for work, Aya with her Mr. Pink had it in her mouth as she was saying goodbye.  By the time I had returned home I had found Mr. Pink fur covering ripped open. Oddly enough it wasn’t the fur itself she managed to open however, right around the label that the company had placed on the toy itself.  I then started to do a little cut here and there to find out that even though wobble Pink was gone his spirit or balls could live on.  Both balls are still in use, and Mr. Purple is still going strong.  I honestly do not know if there was a defect with Mr. Pink the reason why I say this is because both Nyssa and Aya both really beat on Mr. Purple.  I can even join in on a bit of a tug of war between my two dogs and myself and it still doesn’t seem to bust open.

            Would I say go for the wobbas… It’s a 50/50 chance really… So far it has been a good five months with these Wobbas and at least one is still going strong.  On top of it what I like about these toys is even when the dog breaks into them they are still a lot safer than your normal stuffing toys.

Rating 1-4 paws

 Up for safety

 Up for life of the toy (mainly because one of the two has R.I.P)

Up for price (depending on the size you get)

 Up for play time (My dogs still go back to the Wobba)

½ Up Overall rating

Keep a look out on 9/26/2010 Spirit of the Okami will be at the SPCA Walk for the Animals in Concord NH.  Feel free to stop by ask me some questions.  Put your question of the month in the jar as well as a chance to win free two in home classes with the Aya Bundle.

Also next time on the Green Paw

How to be a responsible dog owners

Dog Parks

Out and about in town

Why do we have to clean up after our pets