Tuesday, 29 January 2013

dog faming

Since I am friends with many dog people, and am generally known as a crazy dog person, I get quite a few emails with pictures of "dog-shaming". Some of them are cute, or funny, but to be honest most of them I find sad. Most of the dogs in these photos are poorly trained, or improperly managed.

Working in a pet store, I meet a variety of people. Sometimes they are crazy dog people like me, sometimes not. Whenever I ring a customer through, I always ask what kind of dog they have, how many dogs, how old are they, that sort of thing. Most people love to talk about their dogs, sometimes I even get to see pictures, or will go out to meet them in the car is the person isn't able to bring them into the store.

One day I rang through a customer who told me he and his wife adopted a large-breed dog from the humane society half a year earlier. She was very timid, and comfortable with the man when they were alone together, but anytime his wife was present the dog would be terrified of him. He would speak in a whisper on a regular basis so the dog would be comfortable. This alone I find an interesting behavioral problem (what is the association with the couple as opposed to the individual?). Anyways, when they first adopted her they were told that she had been found roaming the streets with a sign safety pinned to her chest, saying "I am a bad dog".

Can you imagine?

I can't look at a dog-shaming photo without thinking about this poor dog.

So this afternoon I was snooping around the internet and heard about a reversal of the dog-shaming revolution... DOG-FAMING!

First on this blog:

Then this one:

Why are we focusing on a dog's faults and lack of training when we could be celebrating the amazing things they do every day! I think this is an amazing idea, and I'm looking forward to posting some dog-faming photos of my own!

Sunday, 13 January 2013


According to my program timeline, all student research and write an original thesis from September to April in the third and final year of the program. For as long as I've been a student at Guelph, my plan has been to write about some aspect of ecological restoration. It's a topic I am interested in, and something with employment potential. However, recently that has changed.

Before Christmas I had a meeting with my professor Nate, and his wife Tina. While Nate is a prof in Landscape Architecture, Tina is a prof in the Animal Science department and specializes in animal behavior and welfare. They are looking to have research done to look at the need for and design of outdoor components of humane societies.

Starting now (so I can hopefully meet some of the deadlines to get research grants), I will be researching the design of dog parks, training areas and walking areas for dogs at humane societies. Part of this will look at the need or use of such areas by the dogs, and another aspect will be their use by humane society employees and volunteers.

It is an interesting research project, but never something I had ever considered doing before! This will be the first time I have combined my love of dogs with academics. Hopefully I'll be posting a bit more about the project as it progresses.

Friday, 11 January 2013

training classes

When Piper was little (as in, three months old), we did a puppy class at Elite Dog Training, located in Kitchener. It was good to get Piper out around all the other puppies at such an early age.

We worked on sit, down, name recognition, etc., and the last 15 minutes of every class was playtime! However, there were 16 puppies in the class, so for many of the puppies it was just too overwhelming. Personally I think the attendees should have been capped at ten, 16 was just way too many.

I also didn't like the way she handled puppies that were fearful or snappy. Her method was to hold the screaming puppy until it stopped screaming. Even for puppies who didn't want their mouths touched, she would hold the puppy's mouth open until it stopped struggling and screaming. I'm so glad Piper was pretty good at everything, because I would not have allowed that to happen to my puppy.

I learned from trying to force Willow to sit still so I could trim her nails, that force does not work in dealing with an issue where fear or resistance is involved. A much better way is to use treats to make the experience positive, and gradually work up to being able to complete the task.

Piper growing up! This week she weighed just 38lbs, at around 6 1/2 months. She only put on three lbs in the last month, so she will definitely be a small little girl! Just what I wanted :)
In November we started the Competition Puppy 1 class at Companion Dog Training. I've done probably three classes there with Ace and always enjoyed them, although I sometimes found that I just didn't understand what they were trying to accomplish. Starting with Piper from the beginning has made all the difference! I understand the basics much better, and am actually looking forward to taking more obedience-style classes.

In the Competition Puppy class, we started by learning competition-style sits and downs. Piper and I are still working on the down! Lots of other things as well, like set-up, get-in, front, around, over, wait, recall, and trot. Thinks I'd never done before as well, like how to properly play tug and use it as a reward, fetch work with a dumbbell, and beginning scent discrimination. I very much enjoyed it!

We were signed up for Competition Puppy 2, but there were not enough people so the instructor had to cancel the class. I've already paid, so I'm hoping there will be another class running in March. We may have to switch into the Attention 1, but that would be ok. It's all practice anyways! And now we have two months to fix all the things we didn't have time to perfect in the class.