Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Jazz Time

One of Jazz's favorite things to do is to go for walks. She's a fearless explorer. Today we explored the old boardwalk in Manzanita Park. If you haven't been there, be prepared to hike through mud and slippery boards, and TONS of really awesome scenery. Jazz definately has the makings of an agility dog. She walked every downed log in the forest.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

An update on the Partner's Tragedy...

It's still a sad situation. I feel for the owners of all those dogs. My own personal dogs spent many weeks there while I vacationed. We trained almost daily there. And I never felt like my dogs were at any risk. It is a good school run by good people.

Updated Partner's Tragedy

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

And you think you're in control

While you, as an owner, are training your dog, the dog is also training you. We call this shaping... and dogs are naturals at shaping human behaviors. Your dog barks at the cabinet, you give them a treat. They sit by the door, you let them out. While some shaping makes for a good relationship between you and your dog. For example, you'd rather your dog sit next to the door to go out than pee on your carpet. But there are other shaping behaviors can be misunderstood and can create problems.

Before you get mad at the dog for something it did, ask youself if you have been shaped into creating a reaction. For example, if you don't have a doggy door and you leave your dog outside for a period of time, and the dog barks to come in. The first time, it will be a quiet yip, the next time louder until the dog gets your attention. If you wait until that point to let the dog in, then the dog will know where your limit of tolerance is for letting him inside. The next time, he will get to the limit quicker. Now, am I saying rush out on the first yip to let your dog in? No, but I am saying you need to understand what the dog is doing so you don't get angry with the dog. If you have children, you can relate this to a child begging for a cookie. The first time, it might even have a please behind the request. The next time, you'll be lucky to hear the actual words behind the whine. And finally it will be an all out cry-fest. And your blood pressure rises, and it's a lose-lose situation for both of you. But you don't necessarily need to give in. You do what's best for your child. And the same applies to the dog. You do what works best for both of you.

That is what control is all about. You have control of some aspects of the dog/human life, but the dog has just as much control over you. It's a relationship. Not a dictatorship. And you use your control to make the relationship better, and you also need to know what parts of your life the dog controls so you can use them to make your relationship even better.

So with the example above, you have two options, let the dog bark through it (annoy your neighbors in the process) and let them in only when they are quiet so that you reinforce the quiet behavior and not the barking behavior.

Or you can just deal with the barking, knowing what your limit is, and knowing that the dog will push that limit quicker each time. This is a decision you need to make with yourself. You will need to decide if you want to be at the beck and call of your dog, then let him in, and just come to the understanding that once the dog knows your limit, he will use it to control you in other manners.

So, just when you thought you were in control, now you know. It's not about control. It's about give and take. And chosing your battles.